I'm back after being distracted and obssessed for months on end with Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire! This time around, I went for a more "Harvest Moon" or "Life on the Farm" approach.

Quote of the day:

"A garden, you know, is a very usual refuge of a disappointed politician. Accordingly, I have purchased a few acres about nine miles from town, have built a house, and am cultivating a garden."

—Alexander Hamilton, writing to a friend

She closed the door quietly behind her as Merrill's bare feet came into contact with the ground that always so cold this early in the morning, and she took a moment to admire it, feeling that Hawke would be okay with waiting for just a few more seconds. She squished the cold dirt of the ground just outside her house in between her toes, and a small smile came to the Dalish woman's face, Merrill having always appreciated the simple things in life. While she did enjoy going on grand adventures like the ones that her dear friend Isabela always embarked upon in her travels across each and every sea, and while she loved to sit around the huge table that was usually theirs in the Hanged Man with mead of questionable standards while she and all their friends cheerfully listened to another one of Varric's tall tales, at the end of the day she would be content to simply go out for a walk and enjoy the nature with her family. Ever since she first met Hawke, Merrill always wondered, sometimes worried, about just what exactly he thought about the way that no matter where she went, whether it was in the manor of his home or making their way through the dark cold stone of this cave or that cave, that she always seemed to go about her day with her bare feet touching the ground. It wasn't until after they had first shared a bed with one another that Merrill finally revealed her concerns to him, but thankfully Hawke had only laughed then, saying he loved everything about her, especially her Elven habits that he wasn't sure he would ever fully understand.

Soon enough she was satisfied with the dirt between her toes, and began to peer around to look for Hawke, whatever it was that he was doing this morning. She began to walk through their many crops of vegetables and every now and then peered in the different directions of where their fruit trees were, and the Elven women frowned, not quite seeing where her husband was. It was still early enough for the kids to easily be asleep for a few more hours at the least, but Hawke had always made it a point to rise with the sun, the farmer of today being much more the early riser than the Champion of yesterday. She continued to walk through the crops that sooner rather than later she thought they might be ready to start preparing for a harvest, and she stopped in place when the forest near their farmland came into her vision, Merrill having not a clue as to where she could find James. It wasn't until she heard the distant bark of their dog Jesse that Merrill figured out just where her husband was, and she began to make her way in that direction, the cups she had been holding in her hands all this time still thankfully quite warm.

As she walked, her warm breath created little clouds of vapor when it came into contact with the unsurprisingly chilly air that graced Amaranthine each and every morning. While it was true that when she had traveled with her Dalish clan back in her youth that she had been rather used to temperatures that were more frigid than the one she felt at the moment considering that the Dalish had no actual homes to keep them warm, she was glad that she was wearing some actual pleasantly toasty clothes at the moment, having long ago gotten used to the comfort that the amenities of an actual house had always given. She was wearing thicker pants than she normally did which she would undoubtedly change out of in the later hours of the day, but perhaps most comfortable of all she was wearing a heavy sweater made of wool, dyed in the dark green that had always been a color that Merrill was quite partial to. Officially, it was a gift from Gamlen that he sent her for her last birthday, but Merrill only chuckled at the thought, thinking that perhaps Hawke's cousin Charade had more than an inkling to do with her gift. Either way, she had been happy to receive it, and she hoped that she and James could see both Gamlen and Charade soon enough, to visit the manor that had once been their home that Hawke had since left in the possession of his cousin and his uncle.

It wasn't until she heard Jesse bark both loudly and happily just outside of the small wooden building that Hawke liked to use as a milking room that she knew that she had finally found where her husband was. It took a bit of maneuvering considering the warm cups that she was using both of her hands to hold, but soon enough she was able to use the brass handle of the door to make her way into the milking room. It was still a tad bit chilly inside of the room, but it was nowhere near as cold as it was outside.

"Morning." She greeted softly and sweetly to both Jesse and James.

James returned the greeting, momentarily looking away from Carver Jr.'s udders over to his wife, and Jesse barked and gave a small jump in the air to show his excitement at seeing her. It only made Merrill beam, the woman having always loved animals, but especially the old family dog that had over the years become an integral part of their lives. Jesse was a war hound, bred for battle and blood, this the dog having proved in all the times that he had fought alongside them, but the Mabari was also a sweet heart, willingly and happily playing the part of nanny to her children and companion to both Hawke and herself.

She carefully took her seat in a nearby bench that Hawke had put just off to the side from the center of the room where he was milking Carver Jr., and she remained silent, preferring just to watch while she waited for her husband to finish milking the cow. Carver Jr. was a beautiful thing, a dark and thick brown color that looked almost as good as her milk always tended to taste. She remembered when Hawke had named the calf after his brother in a fit of anger soon after the calf had been born around a time that he was feuding with Carver, the younger Hawke at that point one year embarked on what James called a dangerous and foolish mission bestowed by their Warden-Commander of their cousin Daylen. Perhaps it wasn't the most tender of origins for a name, but Merrill had always had an affinity for Carver Jr. ever since that day, and especially because of the fact that the milk that she gave had always been the most deliciously creamy and the most bountiful as well.

It wasn't long before Hawke finished with the last of Carver Jr.'s milk for the day, and as the man picked up the bucket he had been filling up, he carefully walked it across the room and set it down with the other plentiful buckets of milk that good ol' Jr. always provided. Merrill already had a large cup of something warm ready for him when he made his way over to his wife and plopped himself right beside her, and he thanked her as he gratefully took it, Ferelden having always been a cold place to live. As Merrill nudged him to go ahead and try what she had made, he smiled and took in the smell of the drink in his hand, a sweet scent wafting up his nose.

"What is it?" Hawke asked, before gulping a generous helping of his wife's warm surprise.

"I warmed up some of Carver Jr.'s milk," she stated matter-of-factly, pausing as she took a sip that was much more dainty than James' beastly way of drinking, "and I added a few drops of honey dew, with more than generous amounts of sugar as well."

Jesse whined at her feet, the mabari too wanting something to enjoy, and Merrill smiled at the war hound, not once having ever forgotten that he too needed a treat from time to time. She reached into one of the pockets of the thick pair of pants that she was wearing, and pulled out a handful of a few rashers of bacon. She laughed as the powerful hound slobbered all over her hand and ate the bacon from it as gently as if he was a nug. When he was done, she rubbed the beast as best she could with her one free hand, all the while she wondered how she ever got through life without the ever loyal Jesse.

The milking room was soon filled with silence, with the exception of the satisfied heaving of the family dog, and the happy mooing of Carver Jr., the cow always being a blissful thing after being milked. Merrill and Hawke quietly sipped on their own respective drinks, neither one of them sure about just quite what to say, but both also content to simply enjoy each others company. While being parents had given them the ability to hold silent conversations with one another, being husband and wife had given them a different rather similar gift. A lot of times, conversation wasn't actually needed, because she loved him and he loved her, and just being able to sit side by side with each other to quietly enjoy a morning drink was enough for the both of them.

This is what Anders fought for, Merrill thought as she brought the drink of milk and honey dew to her lips, the Elf feeling the tiny bit of sorrow in her heart that she felt whenever she thought about Anders. He hadn't been her friend, though he had been Hawke's, and she knew that the end result of it all had always haunted her husband, and that in his dreams he still saw Anders to this day, and he still repeated that one last action that he had been forced to commit against his friend. The madness that had eventually taken Anders, that had eventually made a good man commit evil and horrific things, she knew that it stemmed from a genuine place in his heart in his desire to see their people have liberty, and for them to be able to live as free as the wind.

She shook away the memory, it seeming to have happened in another life to another person, but as she tucked it away into the back of her mind once again, a part of her knew that what her and James' life had become was something that Anders could have been happy about. She hoped that wherever he was, by the side of the Maker or the Creators, wherever it was that made up the Great Beyond, that he could look down on them and nod his head in approval. She took another sip, and the taste of milk and honey dew brought a smile to her dainty lips.

And so, Merrill and Hawke continued on with their simple existence of life on the farm, both of them content on just where exactly life had taken them. It may not have been as glamorous as Isabela's life on the sea, or as tall as Varric's tales, but as Merrill thought about walking among the crops and animals of their farm, the dirt snugly between her toes and the Ferelden sky up above her, she felt that maybe this was a grand adventure of it's own.

You know what? That last paragraph totally sounds like if it's the ending of a story or something. Lmao, I was half tempted to actually say, "Yup, the story is done, folks!" It isn't, I still have some more ideas to kick around, but I still kind of wish I had thought of that line later on. In any case, next chapter will be the arrival of a certain pirate captain and a first mate that happens to also be a familiar face.