I sighed and brushed my hair back from my face. "Do we have to spend all our free time doing this?" I asked.
Lou looked at me briefly. "It's hardly all, Nar," she said. "And anyway, you enjoy it really."
"No," I said, "no I don't. We left the PPC to get away from this sort of thing."
"You left the PPC because I kidnapped you," Lou corrected. "And this is nothing like the PPC."
"No," I agreed, "it's worse, because we're not allowed to kill him."
Lou rolled her eyes. "So violent, Narto. Can't you just... be entertained?"
I stared at her in disbelief. "Lou, it's Eragon. Watching the film, okay, that was mildly - mildly - amusing. Reading the book to Diane as a bedtime story was not, even when she started MSTing it. Portalling into the film to watch him in person? So, so far from fun." At that point I stopped and sighed, because Lou's eyes had taken on that dreamy look again.
"We did a good job, didn't we?" she asked, not even looking at me. "Brought her up well..."
I blinked. "She's only six, Lou," I said, "we've got a lot more up to go."
"What?" She shook her head slightly. "Oh, yes, I know. I just... they grow up so fast, don't they? The party just... brought that home to me."
I couldn't suppress a smile. Our daughter's sixth birthday party had been quite the affair, well attended by children from all walks of life. Of course Diane's schoolmates had attended, but they'd been very much overshadowed by the kids of PPC heritage. After watching Elisabeth Laison and Jason Dioxond play Department of Mary-Sues (with Bella Illian as a rather reluctant 'Sue, and Malcolm Hyrax very impressive as the Sunflower Official), ordinary games of tag and hide-and-seek looked awfully tame in comparison. "We've still got a while to go, though," I reassured Lou.
My wife nodded slightly. "I just... that conversation last night got me thinking about it again, is all." She glanced upwards. "If she's... like me, then that means she'll probably end up with the PPC at some point. And..." She looked at me with a frown. "Nar, the Protectors are headed for some dark times. The Flowers we knew are getting old... another ten years and the younger generation are going to start taking over. They've been raised in a harsh world... the future does not look good. I don't know... scratch that, I most definitely do not want our daughter going into that world."
I nodded slowly. "I see your meaning," I said, "and I understand your reasoning. But Lou... ten years is a long time. To get the sort of total change you're talking about, it'd be more like twenty. So much can happen in two decades."
"And it will," Lou murmured, then shrugged and grinned. "But this is no time for maudlin thoughts, Narto! We're just getting to your favourite part! Watch closely, or you'll miss-- oh no you don't, Mister." Grabbing my collar, she hauled me back into the clearing. "Watch and enjoy, or Diane's getting Eldest tonight..."
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