Thank you for reading my Brave story. I have taken liberties with character names and lifestyles. I am unsure of most of the history content and i doubt it is correct. However I hope that does not prevent you from enjoy this story.

I do not own Brave

Dearest Mother,

It has been very tiring traveling these past two and a half months, and I find myself looking forward to coming home to rest before the full force of winter is here. While traveling with father has been every adventure I dreamed it to be, I can understand the joy of coming home. I think father is also ready to leave, however he would never admit homesickness to any of our hosts. Mostly, I think we are both looking forward to seeing you again. Father brags of your heartily to the other men.

I can see why you didn't disagree about me accompanying father to visit the different clans. Maybe I should have had the foresight to know that you wanted me to be exposed to all of the clan's first born sons again. However this trip has really been a learning lesson, not just about the men but also about how their different clan's operate.

As you know we started with visiting the Dingwall clan. Our two day ride west was rather easy and I am extremely thankful we took our horses over a ship. There is nothing like a brisk ride in the morning to wake a young person up. Our arrival at the Dingwall's castle was anything but majestic. Nothing was ready for us, as they thought that we would be visiting them next week. Father was a bit pouty at that fact they didn't have a feast prepared and his argument of "But I am the king" fell on my deaf ears. However, our rooms were prepared before night fell and it was a joy to lie down again on a soft pallet instead of the ground.

Our time helping the Dingwall clan was divided between collecting the harvest crops and hunting for winter previsions. Not that I minded either of these tasks. Rest assured mother, father refused to let me go large game hunting. I stayed closer to the castle and stalked out fowl. And while you say a lady shouldn't be boast full, I feel that the only reason the Dingwall Clan will have any duck this winter is because of me. It is apparent that Fowl hunting is a task that they give to younger, less experienced archers. Wee Dingwall was with me on this venture, (which I am sure you are glad about). He isn't as good of a shot as we previously thought. He bagged maybe one bird to my four. However he was better than the rest of the hunting party, (if that says anything about their bow skills). Luckily the large game hunting party had a good many kills, so smoked meats should be plentiful in the winter. I am curious as to how you are handling our winter preparations alone? Have the boys been much help? I plan on bring back some wool for you and some spare furs for the boys.

Without the pressure of marriage being forced upon us, I really did enjoy Wee Dingwall's company. That is when he was focused, of course. He tells a great tale, just like his father (however factual I doubt). I think the absence of his mother has made him so…blank. It is just he and his father. I never knew he lost his mother while she was birthing their second son. With Lord Dingwall never remarrying, it has only ever been the pair. I also believe his father indulges him a fair bit, but what else would he do with his only son?

While I enjoyed being around Wee Dingwall, he reminded me more of my brother's then a possible suitor. He inspired none of that fluttering in my chest that you tend to ramble on about. My pulse did not quicken when his hand grazed mine. Really mother, maybe I am deficient in love?

I also felt no great emotion or sense of loss when we travel northwest to visit the Macintosh Clan. I wasn't sad to be leaving the Dingwall family, and wasn't excited to see the Macintosh Clan. I think I was most excited to be riding again. Is it horrible of me that I prefer riding a horse then spending time with lads? I know I am now twenty years and lads should be important to me, right?

After a solid day and a half we were received at castle Macintosh. Father was pleased to see a feast when we arrived, and our rooms had already been made up for us. However, I was less pleased at the idea of a feast when I learned that the men and women dined separately. As the only woman in our traveling party, I was pretty much forced to dine with complete strangers. Is this standard practice here in the northwest? Could it be because the stories that would be told at the men's gathering would be inappropriate? My mind is still at odds about this. After the whole duration of our three weeks there, I never dined with my father.

The woman of the Macintosh clan were a curious bunch. Lady Macintosh is a very pretty, (yet not a pretty as you) woman. Yet she was very cold to me. She doted heavily on her son and practically ignored her youngest two daughters. The two girls were very charming, if you ask me. They were both bright and well educated. I wish I could show you some of their needle work mother! Their stiches were so fine, I was almost envious. Almost. However I have collected some beautiful patterns for you to replicate mother.

I spent most of my time with the young Macintosh girls. At the Lady Macintosh's insistence I didn't participate in any harvest activities, nor did her girls. And before you worry about my rude behavior, I remembered that I was a guest and did what was wished of me. I don't know if Lady Macintosh wanted me to be an influence on her daughters or didn't want me to be an influence on her son. I endured the life in the castle as best as I could. However it got very lonely, I think father felt it too for he, thankfully, "required" me to go riding with him every morning. Even Lady Macintosh wouldn't oppose the King. I think my rides with father in the morning were my favorite part of our whole visit.

The little I saw of young Macintosh during my visit was also uninspiring. While is a few year older and now sports a beard, he stills believe there is no finer swordsmen than him. He also believes there is no better archer or a better cabers tosser around. I feel rather indifferent towards him and he paid me no special attention. Most likely because I didn't pay him any special attention, I feel that he gets enough attention from women who follow him around like lost puppies. I cannot believe their mothers would let them act like such fools. They simper and smile and laugh at all his jokes. (Most of which are old and unfunny.) I take great pride in the fact that you would never want me to act that way.

I am surprised by his mother's insistence at keeping distance between us. I figured she would want her son to be the future king, but then again maybe after she heard about what a horrible young lady I was a few years ago she would rather not risk her son to my wicked ways. Not much of a loss, the young ladies of Macintosh are much kinder and better company than their mother or brother and if in the future you were looking for a wife for any of the boys I would gladly recommend either girl. Oh goodness mother, you have rubbed off on me and here I am playing matchmaker.

Our time there was long and arduous and I was more than a little thankful to be gone. Father told me of how much fun he had with the Macintosh clan as we rode east. His time there was vastly different than mine. I think the ride to the MacGuffin clan was more pleasant than any of the past three weeks despite the fact the weather was already turning colder. I doubt that we will make it home before the snow falls.

Our arrival at the MacGuffin clan was a peaceful experience. Once again rooms were already prepared for us, and there was a modest feast which I was allowed to attend. Thankfully too for I think father would have been quite alone. Most of the MacGuffin clan speaks solely in Doric, however at the insistence of Lady MacGuffin because of company; everyone was expected to speak slowly. It was nice to nice to warm up by the fair and enjoy their company.

I do like Lady MacGuffin, she has a hearty laugh, which she uses a lot.. We supped with the whole MacGuffin family, sons and daughters included and a few fellow clan families. It was modest but really enjoyable. Other than Young MacGuffin, the Lord and Lady have 4 other children! Such a group! There are three girls between Young MacGuffin and the babe boy MacGuffin.

The three girls, Agnes, Lorne and Dona, are a marry group, it almost makes me long for a sister. Almost. The trio have their elder brother wrapped around their fingers. At their insistence Young MacGuffin even sang a song for their enjoyment! I think father was as stunned as I to see someone, who we both thought was shy, sing in front of the whole dinner party. However, I bet it is easier to be himself here, where he isn't on parade. He, like Young Macintosh, has changed over the years. He is still as tall and board as before but he has lost a bit of his baby fat in his face. Or maybe that is just what I see because now he has quite the beard.

Our first joyful evening really set the mood for our trip. I truly enjoyed the company of Lady MacGuffin and her daughters, who I did spend a fair bit of time with and I did so by my own choice. I helped the ladies of the clan bail their last of the fall wheat and barley harvest, and I learned a fair few songs to bring home to share with ya. There is much singing and laughing here. I have even picked up a bit of Doric! The MacGuffin girls were kind enough to teach me some. After I had learned a bit, they surprised Ian but having me greet him using the traditional Doric expression. His face was priceless in shock. We all had a great laugh, including Ian, even thought it was at his expense. (And if you are inquiring about the informality of me using his first name, it is because he insisted that Young MacGuffin was his baby brother and that I should address him like a man. Do not read into it mother.)

What I appreciated the most is that I was allowed to hunt with father and the men. Now before you worry mother, I was never alone in the forests around MacGuffin Castle. I was always accompanied by either father or Ian. It is amazing to think about how different a place only two days away can be landscape wise. I think if I had be allowed to travel more with the Macintosh and Dingwall clan's I would have been able to appreciate their lands too. Ian taught me a many different types of plants and his mother gave me some of her favorite flower seeds to bring back to you.

Aside from harvesting and hunting I have spent a fair bit of time with the women of the clan. They often hosted weaving, sewing or knitting groups before dinner. Once again mother, I am amazed at the singing and laughed. I am also really amazed with how much Doric I understand now. Two weeks here and I am practically fluent! Dinners have become one of my favorite times of day. Even father understands Ian and his family now too. The MacGuffin girls truly enjoyed our story of the bear and looked at their mother expectantly afterword to see if she was going to become a bear too!

I know you are curious, so I will tell you that yes, father has made sure Ian and I were seated together at every meal. He made sure I saw all the young lords as much as possible, despite how hard it was to be around Young Macintosh. While I hate to admit any preference, Ian is fair company compared to the other young lords. He is very knowledge about tactics and strategies. He has also seen his fair share of battle. I was surprised to hear that he and his father actively work against raiders. Most father boast about their son's triumphs but these stories are actually true. All of this attention seems to make him uncomfortable, and after his father tells a story about him, he whispers to me that it really wasn't that. That he was only successful because of the company of men he had with him. If he has a weak point it is that he is too modest. Some of his accomplishments are quite impressive. I think father is even impressed with him for I saw the two of them walking alone discussing who knows what on frosty morning.

Speaking of mornings, I still ride Angus every morn even though it's become very cold here. It cannot be this cold at home already can it? There is frost every dawn. However father no longer joins me, he refuses to come saying he has important business with Lord MacGuffin. While I really think he just wants to lie in bed. Father made it clear I am not to be riding alone in unfamiliar forest, so he has made Ian join me.

It's been so cold lately that I feel horrible getting him out of bed earlier than need. I wish that I would have had the foresight almost three months ago to pack warming things, like you told me too. Ian often throws his oiled cloak over me after I am already mounted on Angus. It is a huge piece of cloth that hood is lined with fur. It drapes all the way down myself and even covers part of Angus,(which I personally think he enjoys.) When I dismount I feel like I am a small child lost in a giant blanket. He claims that he is used to the cold and that he doesn't need, however I see him shiver. When I insist that I do not need it he says to me "What would your mother do to me if you got sick while you were here?"

Oh, mother, how I wish we were together. I could really use your guidance. Father says that we shall set out for home next week, and that it will be a 2 day ride to be home again. I am not at ease at all. Lady MacGuffin told me the other day that Ian is not currently attached to any women, even though I did not inquire. Additionally the young ladies MacGuffin told me that when Ian first came back from our castle years ago, he told his sisters that I was the prettiest lass he ever saw. I think to my shame, I blushed when they told me that.

These are strange times mother. While we have faced stranger things together, I cannot help but feeling, out of place. I look forward to sitting by the fire as I show you the goods I am bring home for you. I hope that you can give me your console.

Yet what I hope most of all mother is that you are well, and my letter reaches you in good health.

I love you mother,

Merida