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29 August 2010 @ 10:15 am
Fic: Protector of the Realm  
My final fic for this week. I swear I've never written so much, so fast, before. It's been fun!

Title: Protector of the Realm
Prompt: Gregor comes to visit Aral in the hospital, during Mirror Dance.
Length: 3800 words
Rating/warnings: suitable for all, none
Summary: tempora mutantur nos et mutamur in illis. (Times change, and we change in them.)



Deputy Undersecretary for Trade Yann Samzun had made the same point five times in this meeting so far, and Gregor was beginning to consider allowing himself to yawn. He wasn't quite bored enough to honestly wish for something to happen to break the meeting up; he'd grown to prefer boredom to disaster, these days. Still, a small Imperial yawn might encourage Samzun to wrap up his presentation and let someone else get a word in edgeways.

He was just drawing breath for the yawn when the doors of the meeting room burst open and six large armed men rushed in and surrounded him. Gregor stifled his first trained reaction as he recognised his own Armsmen and ImpSec detail, and allowed them to form a wall of bodies around him. They drilled this every fortnight, and had done it for real a few times, and he knew that none of them would know why they had been sent or want to stop to answer his questions. His feet barely touched the ground as they whisked him out of the meeting, along the corridor and into the nearest saferoom.

"Colonel Vortala is on his way, my lord," said Thackeray, the senior Armsman, as the door snicked shut. "He'll know what this is about." Two of the ImpSec men had remained outside, leaving only four armed guards, who were taking up furniture-like positions around the small, very secure, office. Gregor nodded, stretched with deliberate slowness and sat down at the desk. Perhaps it was an unannounced drill, perhaps there was an security breach somewhere around the Residence--those were the most popular reasons for grabbing the Emperor and rushing him to safety. Or perhaps it was something more. Gregor supposed it was too late to go back to the meeting and take back his yawn. Samzun had been boring, but sitting around waiting for ImpSec to explain itself to him was even more boring.

Colonel Lord Vortala arrived about five minutes later. The ImpSec guards on the door scanned him meticulously before admitting him, and Gregor suppressed a smile. ImpSec would bug and scan and screen their own shadows, he sometimes thought, if only they could find a way.

"Sorry about this, sire," Vortala said. "We just received word of some kind of attack on Prime Minister Vorkosigan, and we had to ensure your safety immediately, just in case."

Gregor felt like he was in a lift-tube and the gravity had been switched off. "Aral?" he said blankly. "Is he all right?"

Vortala's face was grim. "We don't know yet. He's on his way to Hassadar General Hospital right now."

"Cordelia?" Gregor managed.

"She's fine. She wasn't with him at the time." Vortala listened to his earbug for a moment. "Sorry. Apparently Cordelia is, ah, taking exception to the security precautions we've put in place around her."

Gregor could picture it. "She wants to go to Aral. Let her."

"Sire..."

"Let her go to the hospital. You can guard her there with him." He gave Vortala his hardest Imperial stare, and Vortala straightened.

"Yes, sire." He murmured into his throat mike, sending out the orders.

"What happened?" Gregor said.

"We're still getting reports in, but it seems the Prime Minister went for a private walk with Lord Mark. During that walk, he collapsed with chest pains. It fits perfectly with what we know to have been Lord Mark's assassination plan."

"Galen's assassination plan," Gregor corrected him. "Where is Lord Mark now?"

"He's, um, well, he's still with the Prime Minister. He overrode his security detail." Vortala gave Gregor a look that held a certain amount of ImpSeccish frustration. "But we are monitoring the situation extremely carefully."

Gregor felt himself divided in two. The Emperor knew he had to remain visible, calm and in command. His Prime Minister was unwell, but there was no need for alarm. But every instinct in him wanted to imitate Cordelia and rush to the side of the man who had been a father to him since was four years old. He inhaled slowly, calming himself. People survived heart attacks all the time, especially when they had the best medical resources of a three-planet empire at their disposal. Aral would be all right. He was Admiral Vorkosigan, he was indestructible.

And he couldn't go now, it would cause a panic. He tried to think of the things he would need to do. "Send a message to Simon," he said to Vortala. "He'll need to be back here for ... whatever happens." Simon would want to be here, too, and Gregor wanted him. Aral had been his foster-father, but Simon had also been his protector and guide, left hand to Aral's right, and Gregor felt a sudden need for someone who was still solid and strong at his back. Someone who was a real grown-up.

"Yes, sire," Vortala said. He listened to his earbug. "They've got the Prime Minister to Hassadar General. His condition is still serious, but their top cardio team is with him now, and they have priority links to ImpMil if they need any further advice. And Lady Cordelia is on her way."

"Good," Gregor said mechanically. He sat back in his chair, then straightened as he thought of another thing he could do. "Get me Lady Alys on the comm, please."

A very short time later, Lady Alys' face appeared before him, looking only a little surprised. "Sire," she said formally. "How may I serve you?"

Gregor could see she hadn't heard anything yet. "Aunt Alys," he began. Her eyes widened briefly--he didn't often address her that way, for all that she was his mother's cousin. "I'm afraid I have some bad news. Aral has just had a heart attack. He's at Hassadar General Hospital now, but it's ... serious. Cordelia is on her way, but I--I think she would do well to have a friend with her. In case..."

"Of course. I'll go at once." Alys had paled at the news, but was looking at him. "Are you all right, Gregor?" she asked quietly.

"ImpSec has me locked away at the moment, in one of their fits of paranoia," he said, deliberately deflecting her question, because the answer was no and the Emperor couldn't say that. Alys gave a nod, accepting his answer, and then said, "Is there ... anything else I should know?" Any news of Miles, Gregor understood her to mean, that might have shocked Aral into this. He shook his head.

"Nothing. Just ... go to Cordelia. Please. I'll come when I can, but ..."

"I understand."

"Give her my love. Both of them."

"Of course." She dipped her head gracefully, and he cut the comm. Lady Alys, he reflected, might be maddening on the subject of his unmarried state, but in a crisis she was dependably calm and helpful. He wondered whether his mother would have been the same.

But he couldn't think of anything further he could do to help. The best medical people were at work, he'd done what he could for Cordelia... now it was time to wait. He considered making an effort to escape ImpSec's paranoia, but decided against it. They'd let him out soon enough, and in the meantime being locked up by them gave him a chance to sit quietly and breathe and try to ease the terror churning in the pit of his stomach. He would have to present his calmest Imperial face when he got out.

*

It wasn't till the following evening, once Aral had been stabilised and transferred to ImpMil, that Gregor was able to visit. ImpMil was relatively used to the security theatre that even a very quiet and informal Imperial visit entailed, and after a supper with numerous of his advisors, Gregor was whisked across the city and into the high-security wing. He paused outside the door of Aral's room whilst his ever-thorough Armsmen swept the room, and doubtless scanned Cordelia and even Aral before permitting the Emperor inside.

"My lord," Armsman Thackeray said, opening the door for him and taking up a guard position outside with his colleague. Gregor went in.

Cordelia turned to look at him, and Gregor searched her face, seeing the new lines, the heavy shadows beneath her eyes. She held out her arms to him, and Gregor went to her. He was taller than Cordelia now, and she put her head down on his shoulder. I am the protector now, he realised with a jolt as he held her. It was a terrifying thought. He looked over her head at Aral, lying shrunken and grey with tubes in his nose and down his throat, and swallowed hard, closing his lips on a gasp of dismay. Not in front of Cordelia.

"I sent Mark home to get some sleep," Cordelia said, her voice matter-of-fact, though she hadn't moved from his arms. "And Alys had to go, to keep up appearances. We don't want the political wolves attacking now. Ivan came by this afternoon, but he didn't stay long. He's taking all this very hard."

He wasn't the only one, Gregor thought. Cordelia's Betan accent, worn thin by thirty years on Barrayar, was much stronger than usual. "Have you had any sleep?" he asked gently.

"A little. I ... they made up a camp-bed in here after we arrived last night."

She hadn't wanted to leave. Of course. Gregor ran through his schedule in his head, ruthlessly. "I can clear the rest of the evening," he found himself saying. "If you wanted to go home and rest, I could stay here tonight."

Cordelia hesitated. "I thought I used to be good at doing nights here, back when Miles was little. I'd never expected those days to come back. I seem to be out of practice now. I don't want Aral to be alone. He woke up for a few minutes, earlier, and he was very ... very confused."

"I won't leave him," Gregor said. "And if anything changes, of course I'll call you at once. You can trust me for that."

"I know," Cordelia said. "You always were such a dear good boy." She leaned against him and let out a huge yawn. "All right. Pym can have me back in five minutes in the flyer, if necessary. I'll go home." She broke away, then leaned up to kiss his cheek. "Thank you."

Once she had left, Gregor called his secretary. Rajit took the last-minute rearrangement of his schedule better than he usually did; since he had been Gregor's tutor before becoming his chief secretary, he claimed the right to scold his Imperial charge when he felt it necessary. But Rajit merely said, "Certainly. Would you like me to send this evening's reading over?"

Gregor considered the entertainment inherent in watching Aral's many monitors, and said, "Yes, please do. Thank you."

It wasn't long before a silent Armsman delivered his reader and a thick sheaf of papers and flimsies, and Gregor settled down in the chair by Aral's bed with a mug of hospital coffee. He worked steadily through nine letters, four ministerial reports, his evening security update and the background material for the latest Komarran trade negotiations. Whilst he was working, the nurse came in twice to check all the monitors, reposition Aral and do all sorts of other necessary medical tasks. Gregor didn't watch. It was obscene enough to see this great man helpless and unaware; no-one should see the details of the medical indignities.

After three hours, however, Gregor ran out of work. If he'd been at home, there would have been the second-tier stuff on a side table in case of Imperial insomnia, but Rajit had only sent the critical work tonight. Gregor considered calling the Residence and getting the rest, but didn't. He only wanted the work to avoid thinking about what was in front of him, after all.

But the man supine in the bed had always taught him to embrace the hard questions, not to hide from them. Gregor extended a hand gingerly and placed it on Aral's, lying limp and tube-pierced on the mattress. Aral's skin was thin and fragile under his fingers, an old man's hand. The latest medical report had been cautiously optimistic, at least to the tune of 'he probably won't die today, but don't ask us about next week yet'--Gregor's personal mental summary of the medical jargon. That thought came with a flick of pain, for it had been Aral who had taught him how to read a report and make his own mental assessment of it, how to see through jargon, equivocation and obfuscation to the core beneath.

And once he'd started thinking about the things Aral had taught him, he couldn't stop. How to survive the Council of Counts, then how to dominate them. How to triage the impossibly long list of jobs the Emperor was supposed to do each day, how to get the best from his advisors and ministers, how to obtain time for himself, how to guard his heart and spirit from the devouring hunger of Barrayaran politics. And the deeper things: what it was to be Vor, to be a liegelord, to be a man, to be a son. Sometimes by silent example, sometimes, after the third glass, in expansive lectures that bordered on poetry, Aral had taught him ... everything. Gregor's fingers closed around Aral's hand. Please don't die. I need you.

That was the thought he had been fleeing, been holding off since yesterday morning. Now it was out. Gregor felt his throat begin to choke with tears.

It was a terrible thing to be Emperor, when you could give orders for anything except what you really wanted. No order, no fleet, no resolution in the Council of Counts, could help here. Gregor leaned forward, his head on the edge of Aral's pillow, and wept.

The door opened and the nurse returned for her hourly check. Gregor tried and failed to wipe his face discreetly, turning away. She came over anyway, short and plump and middle-aged. He had exchanged a few polite words with her earlier, knowing his duty as Emperor to be affable to his inferiors, but otherwise he'd ignored her.

She ignored him in turn, going to Aral and checking her monitors, making notes on a read-pad and fussily adjusting the lie of some of the tubes, whilst Gregor wiped his eyes. Then she said, "Everything always looks worst at this hour. I've been doing this job twenty-seven years, and this is always the time when the family start to get worried. But it will be all right, you know, dear. Sire," she added hastily. Then she patted his shoulder. At one time, to touch the reigning Emperor without invitation had been an act of treason, punishable by death. Gregor felt himself lean, barely conscious of it, into her warm maternal hand.

"He's been a father to me, all my life," he heard himself say.

"And he will be for many years to come, if we have anything to say about it. I've seen patients much sicker than he is walk out our doors in time, sire." She gave him a wide, friendly smile. "Some people do say it's to get away from the hospital cooking, mind you."

Gregor laughed weakly, even as a part of his mind recognised this as the nurse's standard reassuring-the-relatives patter. It was encouraging, all the same.

"He'll get better," she said again. "Just you wait and see. Now, sit down and I'll bring you a cup of tea."

Gregor obeyed, amused and secretly enjoying being treated more like a child than the Emperor. He sipped the tea and reached out for Aral's hand again. It'll be all right. Please, let it be all right.

*

His final visit to Aral in hospital was three days after the transplant. As he waited for his Armsmen to run their scans, some deep tension he hadn't realised he'd been holding coiled inside him started to unwind when he heard Aral's voice.

"You can take your float chair and shove it up your--ah. Thackeray. Good morning."

The last time he'd been here, Aral could only get out a few words before he had to stop for breath. Now--well, Aral's voice was still hoarse and by no means at its full power, but sufficient, Gregor suspected, to give his medics a headache or two.

Thackeray stepped out. "All clear, my lord."

Gregor thanked him automatically and went in. Aral was sitting up in bed, distracted from what Gregor suspected would have been an excellent rant by Gregor's arrival. A medtech was standing by looking unhappy, and Cordelia was sitting quietly beside the bed, the little smile that hadn't left her face for days still on her lips.

"Good morning, Gregor. I understand you have some authority around here. Please tell this medtech that I am perfectly capable of walking across a room. It was my heart that had problems, not my legs."

The medtech looked from the Emperor to Aral and swallowed. With courage that Gregor had to admire, he addressed himself to Aral. "My lord Count, it's hospital policy to use the float chair for transfers."

"I'm going to the next room, not Kyril Island," Aral retorted.

Not sure which side to take in this evidently long-running battle, Gregor covered his hesitation with an Imperially thoughtful frown. Aral's lip quirked. Mercifully, Cordelia took a hand. "Thank you, Lewis. Gregor and I will see to this."

"And take the float chair with you," Aral added.

Medtech Lewis, however, left it sitting pointedly by the bed. When he was gone, Gregor crossed to Aral's side. "It's good to see you looking so much better," he said, banal words, but he meant them with his whole heart.

"Slipped your leash for a visit, did you? Must be a quiet day. That's good." Aral replied. "Good to see you too, boy. Now, lend me your arm."

Gregor glanced at Cordelia, who nodded. Aral swung his legs off the side of the bed and said, "Dr Moore said I could go and sit in the next room today, and I am going to walk there. This room is the most boring place I have ever been in my life. There aren't even any windows."

Gregor helped Aral to his feet. Aral wavered alarmingly, then found his balance. "If they would let me up more often," he said, a little more breathlessly, "I wouldn't be so out of practice at this."

Cordelia went to his other side. For all his words, Aral was putting most of his weight on Gregor, his steps slow and laboured. Indeed, it is time for you to lean on me, Gregor thought. He had leaned on Aral for so long.

Painfully slow, they walked across the room and through the doorway, heading for the reclining chair in front of an enormous window looking out over the city. Aral took hold of the windowledge for support and stood there, gazing out over the city possessively. "I knew ... I could do it," he muttered. "Medics!"

"All right," Cordelia said after a minute or so, whilst Gregor stood with his hand under Aral's elbow. "You've made your point, love. Sit, now."

"Aye, aye, ma'am," Aral responded, his voice crisp and military, and Gregor swallowed a lump in his throat as he guided Aral into the chair. He hadn't been sure he'd ever hear this impossible old man joke with his wife again.

Once Aral was comfortable, Cordelia looked between him and Gregor. "I'm going to go and check in with the doctors," she said. "Don't let him run off, Gregor, please."

"I'll do my best," he said with a smile.

When she had left, Aral said, "How are you handling the Cetas? And Count Vorgarin? He's bound to be--"

Gregor shook his head. "No work. I have Count Vorgarin's vote, and the Cetas are fine. It's all fine, Aral. I've got it all under control."

The doctors, Gregor knew from Cordelia, had been quite emphatic in their support of the notion of Aral retiring. The thought of facing Vorbarr Sultana without him was a little unsettling, but not the terrifying prospect it had once been. Aral had taught him enough. But still, he would have to take thought as to what to do with Aral now. Service to the Imperium was his life, of that much Gregor was sure. The doctors had also said that Aral should recover the greater part of his old strenth and energy in time, and--Gregor suspected that Aral had forced them to include this--that a little light activity would be appropriate. Gregor wasn't sure what Aral would consider 'light'--a small space fleet, perhaps, or a Ministry ... no. He would have to think of something suitable. Something perfect.

Thoughtfully, Aral looked up at Gregor. "Yes," he said slowly. "I believe you have." He paused for breath. "I swore--I swore to Ezar I'd see you on your throne as a true Emperor. I think ... I've kept that vow at last." He sounded suddenly very tired.

Gregor knelt down by Aral's chair, wanting to be eye to eye with his foster-father. "Yes. You have." He hesitated for three heartbeats, then took Aral's hands between his own. His voice took on Imperial overtones. "As my grandfather's heir in body and Voice, I release you from your oath. It is fulfilled." He opened his hands, and let Aral's fall free.

For a bare moment, Aral looked stunned. He sees Ezar here with me, Gregor knew. But something eased around his eyes, and he gave a long sigh, as if he had finally set down a heavy burden.

"Thank you," he said, very quietly. "Sire."

In private, outside of formal and political occasions when protocol required it, Aral had only called him 'sire' once before, when Gregor had taken command of the Alliance's fleet at Vervain. Then it had been shocking, like a slap in the face. Now it felt ... natural, a word given to a change that had been slowly building for years.

In companionable, understanding silence, they looked out over the city, at groundcars snaking along the roads and over the bridges, aircars following their routes above, the distant smoke of shuttles taking off and landing at the shuttleport, lights and people and motion everywhere.

"She's a beautiful city," Aral said, his voice growing more sleepy. "The most beautiful in the galaxy." He turned to look at Gregor. "All right. I'll retire." He waved a hand at the city, at the soft hills rolling down to the sea beyond, the sky with its wormhole jump to Komarr and on to Sergyar. "But you take good care of her."

"My word and my life upon it." Gregor put his hand out to Aral again. "As you have taught me."

They watched the bustle of life across Vorbarr Sultana until Gregor heard Aral's breathing slow and deepen in sleep. Carefully, he took the blanket from the side table and put it across Aral's knees. "You can rest now," he whispered to the sleeping man. "I have the helm."
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Catherine17catherines on August 29th, 2010 11:02 am (UTC)
Oh, this is lovely. I do like the part where Gregor wonders briefly about his mother. And I love the way you prefigure in Gregor's thinking something that I don't want to refer to for fear of spoiling people, but which I think you must have read recently...
philomythaphilomytha on August 29th, 2010 04:41 pm (UTC)
Thanks! And, um, yes and yes to your elliptical remarks :-).
(no subject) - kestrelct on September 8th, 2010 05:34 am (UTC) (Expand)
avanti_90avanti_90 on August 29th, 2010 11:27 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for picking up this prompt! You've done a wonderful job with it. Gregor's feelings were excellently done, and I loved the scene where he starts weeping at Aral's bedside, remembering all the things Aral taught him. And when he released Aral's oath, it was perfect.
philomythaphilomytha on August 29th, 2010 06:09 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you liked it, and thanks for the prompt! I love writing to prompts, it makes me take on things I'd never considered before. And I love Gregor and Aral both, so a fic where I could put them together was great fun to write.
(Deleted comment)
philomythaphilomytha on August 29th, 2010 06:10 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you enjoyed it! Is that the fic I said I'd beta-read? I'll look forward to it!
tuval on August 29th, 2010 01:08 pm (UTC)
Oaths have such power in Barrayaran life. Excellent choice of generational procession.
philomythaphilomytha on August 29th, 2010 06:11 pm (UTC)
Generational procession, that's an excellent way to put what I was reaching for in this fic. And I love the oath relationships that exist on Barrayar, so I'm glad you liked that bit.
L'Ignota: fealtylignota on August 29th, 2010 01:36 pm (UTC)
Oh, that was beautiful. I hadn't thought of Gregor's perspective during that time. This story is just very moving. It captures Barrayar and the characters perfectly.
philomythaphilomytha on August 29th, 2010 06:12 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I hadn't really considered Gregor's perspective either until I saw the prompt for this fic. I'm glad it worked for you.
(Deleted comment)
philomythaphilomytha on August 29th, 2010 06:12 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I'm glad you liked it.
sahiya on August 29th, 2010 05:49 pm (UTC)
*sniffle*

I adored all of this, but my favorite parts were a) Gregor with the nurse - she was so down to earth and awesome, and b) the conversation at the end with Aral, where Gregor released him from his oath. That was just beautiful.

I've really enjoyed everything you posted this week, but this might be my favorite. It just hit me right where I live.
philomythaphilomytha on August 29th, 2010 06:16 pm (UTC)
Aw, thanks! I felt Gregor really needed someone right then, and the nurse just popped up in my head. It's always been my experience that nurses can be amazingly awesome and reassuring just when you need it most.

And thank you so much for running this! I've written so many things I would never have attempted if not for the ficathon, and I've had a blast :-).
(Deleted comment)
philomythaphilomytha on August 29th, 2010 08:32 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I see the difference between Gregor the man and Gregor the Emperor as completely central to his life. Emperor is such a huge concept on Barrayar, it's not like he can go home from the office or look forward to retirement one day. Actually, now I'm wishing I'd stuck that point in, since Aral does get to retire... ah well, there were probably enough ideas in that scene without me sticking more in.

I'm glad you liked it! Oh, and with the help_pakistan thing, do send me an email whenever you're sorted.
realpestilencerealpestilence on August 29th, 2010 08:52 pm (UTC)
Oh, you brought me to tears.
philomythaphilomytha on August 29th, 2010 09:01 pm (UTC)
*passes a tissue*
It's lovely to hear that it touched you.
shimotsuki: vorkosiganshimotsuki on August 29th, 2010 11:00 pm (UTC)
Another supremely satisfying fic. There are so many things that I like about this, but Gregor thinking to release Aral from his oath, and Aral's reaction, are probably at the top of my list. I also like the nurse who ignores protocol and gives Gregor the kind of treatment that he actually needs, and Gregor looking back over all that he has learned from Aral. And, the way that Gregor understands Cordelia just as well, understanding that she has to be with Aral, and thinking to call Alys so that Cordelia will have some support.

(I also have to say how floored I am by the sheer number of stories you have contributed! I am in awe of the speed that you manage while still maintaining such quality.)
philomythaphilomytha on August 30th, 2010 06:03 am (UTC)
Thanks! I'd been meaning for a while to write a fic about Gregor's relationship with Aral and Cordelia as Emperor and foster-son, and this was it. I'm glad you liked it!

As for the quantity of fics, I'm one of those weird people works best with a deadline. Otherwise I dawdle for weeks and weeks over the ending and never get anywhere with it.
utah_yodautah_yoda on August 30th, 2010 12:49 pm (UTC)
You have a way of capturing the tenderness between these characters without making them weak at all. I look forward to your fics for that reason. In this one, what jumped out at me was Gregor calling Alys "Aunt Alys" which makes so much sense and said so much about their relationship. I loved it. I loved the whole fic.
philomythaphilomytha on August 30th, 2010 01:37 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I worry a lot about whether my characters are being too soppy, and a lot of my editing is concentrated on trying to hang on to the emotional punch of a scene without slipping into melodrama or sentimentalism. I'm very reassured that you think it hits the mark. :-)
arafel07: milesarafel07 on August 30th, 2010 11:24 pm (UTC)
What a fantastic story, and so beautifully written - bravo!
philomythaphilomytha on August 31st, 2010 10:31 am (UTC)
Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it.
belanabelana on August 31st, 2010 09:30 am (UTC)
Such a true portrait of Gregor! Boy emperor has grown up and takes up all the responsibilities. And he helps Aral!
I loved this one: "Gregor felt a sudden need for someone who was still solid and strong at his back. Someone who was a real grown-up."
Also madame Alys is very efficient in a crisis indeed.

philomythaphilomytha on August 31st, 2010 10:32 am (UTC)
Thanks! Yes, Gregor growing up was definitely the theme of this fic. I'm glad you enjoyed it.
sharaith: tinselsharaith on August 31st, 2010 11:19 am (UTC)
This is beautiful. I've always wished there were more in the canon about Gregor's relationship with Aral and Cordelia, and this goes a long way toward filling that hole. You've drawn his relationships with them and with all the other members of his family perfectly.

It's heartbreaking how the politics of his job keep him away from his foster-father's hospital bed at a time like this.
philomythaphilomytha on August 31st, 2010 02:22 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I've read a few fics about Gregor and Cordelia, but not so many with Gregor and Aral, so that was where I was trying to aim this one. And yeah, he and Aral are both very constrained by their jobs and roles.
with a kiss I pass the keyfaos on August 31st, 2010 10:53 pm (UTC)
Oh, this is lovely. Beautiful job capturing what Gregor must have been going through, and when he releases Aral from his oath -- that brought tears to my eyes, just to think what it would mean to Aral.
philomythaphilomytha on September 1st, 2010 03:35 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I love writing about oaths and how important they are to Barrayarans, so I'm glad you thought that bit worked out well.