Title: A Picture of Happiness
Fandom: Honor Harrington
Spoilers: Field of Dishonor
Word Count: 1613
Written For: darkdanc3r in yuletide
Betaed by: wolfhound, with canon-help by Jessica
Prompt: the poor woman needs something to go well for her for once
Author's Notes/Summary: Honor and Paul visit home. Missing scene from Field of Dishonor.
Honor heaved a sigh as the aircar crossed the boundary onto Harrington lands. She’d hoped that the media frenzy would die down now that Pavel Young’s court-martial was three weeks past, and that her trip home would be uneventful, but that had turned out to be optimistic. Someone had tipped off the media that she was visiting Sphinx, and they’d been waiting for her at the spaceport. It had taken a police escort to get her and Paul through the crowd and into the waiting aircar, and they’d been followed for almost ten minutes. She’d thought they’d given up … until they got close to home, and found newsies camped out just off her parents’ property. They were less bloodthirsty than their Manticoran counterparts, and none had braved the Privacy Act by putting as much as one toe on her family’s property. It was still an unwelcome shock. She spared a hand from the steering yoke to give Nimitz a soothing pat. The newsies in the trailing aircars were easier for the empathic treecat to bear than mobs such as the one that had greeted them in the spaceport. Greater distance and smaller numbers alone made a huge difference, besides the fact that they couldn’t work themselves up into a frenzy as easily. It still wasn’t pleasant, particularly coming so soon on the heels of the scene at the spaceport.
“I thought we came to Sphinx to get away from the media,” she said to Paul, sitting in the passenger seat beside her.
“Well, at least there are fewer of them,” Paul said. “And they can’t get on your property any more than they can get on Nike, so we’re safe for now.” He leered at her. “But I really can’t blame them for wanting to get a look at such a gorgeous woman, and the dashing officer on her arm.” He gave her an outrageous wink.
“Right,” Honor said with a snort. Paul believed she was gorgeous, believed it wholeheartedly, but Honor wouldn’t have put it quite that strongly herself.
“You don’t think I’m dashing?” Paul said, pressing a hand to his breastbone. “You wound me, milady.”
“I’m sure.” Honor replied with a grin.
“Honor! It’s wonderful to see you again.” Her mother was at the side of the aircar as Honor climbed out, her father only a few steps behind.
Honor stooped to hug her mother, then hugged her father. “It’s good to be home, even if only for the day.”
“Well, with a ship in the yards for a major refit, you’re lucky to get even that,” her father replied. “We’ll count our blessings.”
Honor glanced back at Paul, who had climbed out of the aircar and circled around to their side. He stood casually, but Honor knew him well enough to see the hint of tension in his bearing. “Mom, Dad, this is Paul Tankersly. Paul, these are my parents Allison and Alfred Harrington.”
“Doctor Harrington. Doctor Harrington. It’s a pleasure to meet you both.” Paul nodded courteously at them in turn, sticking out his hand.
Her mother ran an appreciative eye up and down Paul’s trim frame. “I must say, Honor, you do have good taste.” Ignoring Paul’s outstretched hand, she pulled him in for a hug, pressing her body into him. “The pleasure is all mine,” she said, kissing him on the cheek. “And please, call me Allison.” Honor mentally sighed with relief when her mother stepped back without further ado. Not that she didn’t trust her, but … Honor always worried a bit that her mother’s Beowulfan heritage might show through at precisely the wrong moment. And Paul was a very handsome man.
“Honor hasn’t said much about you in her letters, but what she has said is glowing,” her father said, shaking Paul’s hand. “It’s good to meet you.”
“Likewise,” Paul said.
Honor sat on the couch and sipped her cocoa, enjoying the relaxed atmosphere. Pavel Young hadn’t been mentioned once, nor had the politics surrounding the declaration of war against the People’s Republic of Haven. It was the most peaceful she’d felt in … a long time. Well, the ease and glee with which her mother and Paul had fallen into camaraderie was slightly worrisome, but aside from that, everything was fine. Nimitz was out enjoying the luxury of being outside on his own home planet. She and Dad had had a good time catching up with everything that hadn’t been in their latest letters, and were now sitting in companionable silence together while Paul and Mom sat and gossiped about her on the couch across from them. She listened in.
“ …oh, of course you’ll want to see the family picture album from Honor’s childhood,” her mother was saying.
Honor interrupted hastily. “I’m sure we don’t want to inconvenience you by making you get it out.”
“Oh, it’s no inconvenience,” Mom said airily, pulling it out from the shelf under the coffee table. “I got it out when we found out you were coming. And went through it to make sure it was complete.”
“We don’t want to bore Paul with old history,” Honor persisted.
“Well, he’s been interested enough in your old history so far. I think he’ll find the pictorial evidence even more so,” her mother replied.
“Wouldn’t miss it for the world,” Paul said.
Honor opened her mouth to protest again, shutting it when she realized it wouldn’t do any good. Paul loved her, and thought she was beautiful; he would hardly be scared off of pictures of her in her awkward adolescent phase.
“Let them have their fun,” her dad said with a smile. “Though I would suggest going over there and making sure your mom’s tales aren’t exaggerated for effect.”
“Sounds like a good idea. Care to join me?”
“Of course,” Dad said, standing. They moved over to where Mom had the album spread out. Honor curled up on the couch with Paul, while her father perched on the arm by his wife, planting a kiss on the top of her head as he did so.
“I have to warn you, I don’t look good in pictures,” Honor said to Paul. “And I wasn’t a particularly attractive child to begin with.”
“You were a very pretty child,” her father said. “Adolescence wasn’t that great, I grant you, but you were very pretty as a child. You just always get self-conscious and freeze up whenever there’s a camera, that’s all.”
“She didn’t when she was very little,” her mother said with a smirk. “Quite the exhibitionist she was, until she turned four. There’s one holo in particular—I was thinking about going in chronological order, but since you bring it up—”
Honor groaned as her mother flipped through the book; she knew which one she meant.
“Oh, I see what you mean,” Paul said, leaning to get a better look at the image of a two year old Honor, bottom hanging out of her pajamas, grinning at the camera over her shoulder. “Why, Honor, you were a nudist? That is a cute behind for a two year old, I grant you, but I much prefer the one you have now.”
“Paul!” Honor felt her cheeks flaming. She punched him gently in the arm. “Behave!” She glanced quickly at her father; talking about such things in front of her mother was one thing (mostly because her Beowulfan mother had been butting in to Honor’s sex life since long before she’d actually had one), but mentioning her sex life in front of her father was a whole different kettle of fish. But he just looked amused, so she relaxed.
After lunch, mother retreated to her study to check her messages while her father cleared the table. Honor and Paul curled up together on the couch, watching the wind rustle through the trees outside the window.
“Thank you for bringing me home with you,” Paul said. “I’ve had a great time so far. Your parents are wonderful people.”
“I’ve always thought so,” Honor agreed. “And I’m glad to have you here.” She smiled up at him. He was sitting up straighter than she was, which put her head lower than his. It wasn’t an angle she often saw him from.
Paul leaned down, brushing his lips against hers softly. He pulled his head back, just a few inches, and smiled back at her.
A click disturbed them. Honor looked across the living room to see her mother standing there with a camera in hand. “Why didn’t you warn us?” she asked, frowning.
“You two looked so cute, sitting there together like that,” her mother said, keying up the image she’d just recorded. “Besides, you always tense up when you know there’s a camera in the area. I wanted to have a picture of you relaxed. Oh, that’s nice,” she said, showing the picture to her husband who had come up behind her.
“Oh, it is nice,” Dad said.
“Can we see it?” Paul said, sitting up straighter.
“Of course.” Mom brought the camera over, showing the image to them.
Honor blinked. It was, quite possibly, the nicest she’d looked in a picture in her entire life. She didn’t look weird and anxious. She looked—happy. In love. So did Paul. Like there was no one else in the whole universe but the two of them.
“Can I have a copy of it?” Paul asked softly. He squeezed her hand. Honor squeezed back.
The trip back to Manticore and Nike was much nicer than the trip to Sphinx had been. The newsies were still there, and so were the political problems, but somehow Honor didn’t mind as much.
And note the shiny new icon Mom made for me for Christmas!