Title: Halt Kisses the Goat
Fandom: Ranger's Apprentice
Genre: Family, Friendship, Humor
Word Count: 1,430
Warnings: If you cannot stand extreme cuteness then do not read this story, it will kill you. Spoilers for books 6 and 7!
Halt leaned casually on the wooden fence, watching the scene before him with a warm, happy feeling in his heart. Next to him perched Will, now a fully fledged Ranger for over six years. Will had his elbows resting on his knees and his chin resting in his hands, gazing lovingly at the same spectacle as his friend and mentor.
The two Rangers watched Will's two year-old daughter, Myfy, play with her sandy-haired pet goat. Her curly brown hair bounced as she toddled around and her grey eyes sparkled with joy. Myfy was the most adorable little girl in all of Araluen, at least according to her parents and her adoptive grandparents, Halt and Pauline.
Will loved that Myfy had inherited her mother, Alyss's, eyes. He and the beautiful Courier had been married for four years now. His mind started to wonder back to the day they were wed.
"Why a goat, Will?" Halt asked suddenly, snapping Will back to the present.
"Um?" Will mumbled.
"Why did you get her a goat? Why not a dog?"
"She wanted it," Will explained, as if the answer was completely obvious.
"But a goat?" Halt pressed. He was not fond of goats, they were just annoying.
"I couldn't help it. You'd have to be heartless to say no to a face like that!" Will replied, waving an arm in his daughter's direction.
Myfy chose that moment to stop playing with her pet and glance over at her father and grandfather, a wide grin on her face. She then went back to chasing her goat around the yard.
"You have a point, Will," Halt said in agreement.
The back door to Will's cottage opened and out strode Gilan, Halt's other former apprentice. He and his new wife, Jenny, had arrived at Will and Alyss's home three days after Halt and Pauline. Currently the women were in the kitchen cooking. More correctly, Jenny was cooking while Pauline and Alyss watched; she was after all a cook.
The three Rangers relaxed against the fence and watched little Myfy run in circles chasing her goat, smiling and giggling. It was a heartwarming scene.
"What's for dinner, Gilan?" Will asked.
"I don't know. I've found that it doesn't really matter what's for dinner; as long as Jenny cooks it, it'll be wonderful," Gilan replied with a smile. He and Jenny had been married for five months.
Will and Halt had to agree with him, having both tasted Jenny's famous cooking.
"It's a good thing you married such a good cook, she might manage to put some meat on your bones," Halt commented, bringing up the long-standing joke about Gilan's slim figure.
In a heartbeat Gilan was ready with a comeback, "From the look of you, Halt, it seems you have been living with her, too."
Will laughed. Halt gave Gilan a dark look, but was not at all mad. It was a good retort in there on-going battle of wits.
They settled back into a companionable silence.
After a few minutes Myfy ceased chasing her goat and waddled over to the three Rangers. She wrapped her little fingers around one of Halt's and led him over to where she had been playing. He followed her obediently, a small smile on his face.
Myfy stopped walking and Halt knelt down next to her so they were eye-to-eye. She gave him a wide smile and said, "Papa, kiss my goat!" in a very adorable voice. The smile froze on Halt's face.
"What?" he asked, hoping he had heard wrong.
"Kiss my goat, love my goat!" Myfy encouraged.
Halt could hear Will and Gilan snickering behind him. Myfy's goat walked up behind the girl and looked at him curiously. It moved its head up and down, all the while its eyes were locked on Halt.
sweetie, Papa's not going to kiss your goat," Halt said, as gently as possible.
Her smile disappeared. "You don't love my goat?" She sounded heartbroken.
"Papa loves your goat, I just don't want to kiss it," he replied.
She thought about it for a second then said, "Papa no kiss my goat, Papa no love my goat. Papa no love my goat, Papa no love me." Tears started to fill her eyes. Her lower lip started to tremble.
Halt started to panic, which was odd for him; he was usually very calm. But knowing that he was making his granddaughter cry was enough to shake him. He heard the cottage door open and looked up to see Pauline, Alyss, and Jenny glaring daggers at him.
"You really are heartless, Halt," Will commented, a slightly shocked look on his face.
A big tear rolled down Myfy's cheek.
Now Halt was really starting to panic. "Alright, I'll do it. I'll kiss the goat," he announced.
Myfy sniffed. "Really?" she asked.
He nodded. The goat moved closer to him, as if it knew what was happening. Just as the Ranger had resolved himself to his decision, the goat belched loudly and started chewing its cud. Gilan and Will started laughing.
Halt's resolve faltered. He gave his wife a save-me look. She just folded her arms across her chest and continued to glare.
His gaze shifted from Pauline to Myfy. She was looking expectantly up at him, her eyes still brimmed with tears. There was no way he could fail her.
Once again Halt's resolve came back. He would kiss this goat and make his little granddaughter happy again.
He looked back over at the goat. It moved its head to within inches of Halt's, smacking noisily as it chewed its regurgitated breakfast.
Quickly Halt kissed the goat on the nose. The goat pulled back, startled. It gave Halt a how-dare-you glare. Halt returned it with a disgusted grimace. The goat stuck its head up in the air indignantly and walked away.
Halt continued to frown at it, but his disgust was cut short when Myfy threw her arms around his neck and made a happy little speech. "Papa kissed my goat! Papa loves my goat! Papa loves me!" She paused for a moment then added softly, "I love Papa."
It was in that moment that Halt knew he would kiss that goat a thousand times if Myfy asked him to. He was completely wrapped around her finger. Gently, he embraced her, a smile touching his face.
Pauline, Alyss, and Jenny had let out a collective "Aww," as soon as Myfy had hugged her grandfather. Gilan and Will, however, had been laughing too hard at Halt's plight to notice. Will had apparently fallen off of the fence and was now lying on his back on the ground, holding his sides and laughing hysterically. Gilan was doubled over and looked like he was having trouble breathing. The only reason he was not rolling on the ground too was because he had one arm looped around the top board of the fence holding him up.
Halt looked over Myfy's shoulder at his two former apprentices. Suddenly he had an idea regarding the young Rangers and a devious light shone in his eyes. He quietly whispered something in Myfy's ear. She took a step back and looked at him, unsure if she should do what he said. He nodded encouragingly and she started toddling over to where Gilan and Will were snickering by the fence, her goat following close behind.
As Myfy made her way toward the young Rangers, another devious thought struck Halt. He stood up, dusted the dirt off of his pant legs, and walked over to where the ladies were standing. Pauline looked over at him and smiled, but her smiled faded slightly when she saw the ornery look in his eyes.
"Pauline, I need a kiss," Halt said, still moving toward her, his arms outstretched.
"No! You stay away from me, Halt!" she yelled, taking a step back. When Halt continued to come nearer she grabbed Alyss and pulled her in front of her, using her former apprentice as a shield. Alyss made a startled sound, but she could not stop giggling. Halt stopped walking and smiled smugly, his revenge complete.
Jenny could not breath she was laughing so hard. She slowly started to slide down to the ground, her back to the cottage wall.
Halt turned his attention back to little Myfy and the two Rangers, the women followed his gaze.
Gilan and Will, who had finally gotten a hold of themselves, looked up at Myfy, then over at Halt and lost it again.
Their laughing ceased immediately when she announced, "Daddy, Uncle Gili, kiss my goat!"