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Heartwarming / Ranger's Apprentice

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Beware, spoilers for Books 1-7 are UNMARKED

  • The beginning of Book One has a subtle but powerful one. Will has grown up as a ward of the state in Redmont Fief (Baron Arald takes in orphans whose families have died "in service" to the fief). They are raised in the castle, he pays for their upkeep, educates them, and when they reach apprenticing age, makes arrangements for them to be apprenticed in a profession of their choosing (provided they have the capability for it). And if the orphan child isn't apprenticed to a craft, he or she goes to live with a farming family to work the land (it's mentioned that it happens very rarely and the craft masters do their very best to accommodate the orphans), so they ALWAYS have somewhere to go. For comparison, normally the possible apprenticeships available to a child are confined to said child's parents occupation and what influence they may have with other craftmasters. But the children in the Orphan Ward are given the opportunity to go into any career they wish (provided they can prove themself to its Master). We don't know if this is normal for the Kingdom of Araulen and the other fiefs do this or if Baron Arald is the exception.
    • Arald also knows the circumstances of the orphans in the ward, meaning he keeps apprised of their upbringing and progress. A senior baron, the most powerful person in the fief and one of the most powerful in the kingdom, stays up-to-date on the education of a bunch of orphans.
  • Later in book one, during the boar hunt, Horace instinctively grabs a spear and stands in front of Will when it charges, and then Will saves his life in turn. This becomes even more heartwarming considering the last time the two saw each other, they got into a fistfight.
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  • Halt and Gilan greeting one another at the Gathering. They may no longer be master and apprentice, but they obviously still have a special relationship from that part of their shared past.
  • When the three bullies who've been making his life hell for months beat him up and announce they're going after Will, Horace immediately rises, grabs a training sword, and makes them pay for it—and for all the hell they've put him through so far.
    Horace: Thank you, Ranger.
    Halt: Thank you for taking a hand when they attacked Will. And by the way, my friends call me Halt.
  • In book three after Will and Evanlyn, aka Princess Cassandra, have been captured (at the end of the second book), Halt asks for leave to go and rescue them. When he's told no (the kingdom is in chaos after an attack) Halt basically goes and gets himself banished for a year ALL SO HE CAN GO AFTER WILL. And partway out of the Kingdom he runs into Horace who tells him he's (Horace) gotten leave from Battleschool (Knight training) to go with him.
    • That's right. Sir Rodney, the strict, letter-of-the-law Battleschool head, gave Horace leave and his unofficial blessing to them both.
    • What Halt did to get himself banished has two punishments, death or banishment. After hearing this the King (a friend of Halt's) laid down the sentence of a year's banishment, using a loophole in the law (while the law lays out the punishment it never specifies any specific duration, despite the implication of the law being banished for life). Notably even the Chamberlain, whose duties include advising the king on the law, goes with it.
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    • Additionally underscored by what happens when Halt gets back. It's clear the law still means a lot to him, since he initially protests returning to Araluen on the grounds that he still had around a month left on his sentence... and then the king allows him back in anyway, at the slightest excuse.
  • The Battle for Skandia:
    • Slaygor drags an Araluen slave woman into the Great Hall, claiming that she told him Evanlyn's real identity (According to the apologetic slave, they beat it out of her.) Even then, she tries to claim that Evanlyn looked like Cassandra at a distance, but she doesn't think they're the same now.
    • Evanlyn/Cassandra has been keeping her real identity under wraps since she and Will heard about Ranjak's vow to kill everyone in Duncan's family. What finally causes her to out herself? Slaygor threatens to beat an Araluen slave woman into identifying her.
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  • Two major ones occur in the sixth book. The first is when Will breaks the mind control on Alyss by stating that he loved her. The second occurs after what starts out as a downer ending. Will parts with the dog Shadow. Will isn't sure Alyss was in a state of mind to comprehend this declaration of love, and Alyss isn't sure if Will's declaration of love actually happened or was merely a dream. Will returns home, sad and alone with nothing going quite right, and after a few days he receives a letter from Alyss stating that she loved him.
  • Madelyn making Will laugh. He hadn't laughed since Alyss died, 18 months before the start of the book.
    "He (Will) began to laugh. And somewhere, the laughter turned to tears and he was sobbing uncontrollably—immense sobs that racked his entire body and floods of tears that coursed down his cheeks. And he knew the tears were the ones he had never been able to shed for Alyss. They were for her. And they were for Maddie. And they were for him. Most of all for him."
  • The fact that Duncan knows perfectly well that Halt uses a forged copy of his seal, which would be a capital crime, and looks the other way because it's Halt, whom he knows will never abuse it.
  • Horace has posed as a knight while traveling through Gallica, a major breach of etiquette. What do his superiors do? The king himself knights him, and appoints him to the Royal Guard.
  • Daniel's Heroic Sacrifice, for a man he barely knew. Doubly so when one realizes that the man he died saving would be Will's other father figure.
  • In the prequels, Halt, despite having a well-earned distrust of royalty, still chooses to put his faith in Duncan based solely on Crowley's word. Doubly so even after they hear about atrocities being committed by "Duncan."
  • In Book 9, Will and Horace (and Halt, after just a little convincing) delay their pursuit of Tennyson to bury some murdered Scotti farmers just because it's the right thing to do.
  • In the same book, when he hears that Halt is dying, Malcolm leaves his community and joins Will immediately. The interactions between the group as they treat their injured member also count.
  • Will's graduation ceremony at the end of Book 7, crossing over with Funny Moments.
  • In Book 10, when Cassandra, Will, Halt, and Alyss hear that Horace is in trouble, their immediate response is to rush halfway around the world to his rescue. And it's implied that Duncan gave his full approval.
  • Similarly, George takes an arrow for Horace and even says Think Nothing of It, and Horace's sincere gratitude to the Non-Action Guy who took a shot for him despite not being at all used to it.
  • Horace also comes to view Shigeru as a Parental Substitute, a sentiment which the latter returns in kind, even being a Shipper on Deck for Horace/Cassandra.
  • Shukin doesn't just go to the trouble and expense of giving Horace a new, Nihon-Jan sword: He "borrows" Horace's and has a perfect replica made!
    • The latter's Heroic Sacrifice is also very touching-he and the other volunteers know they're doomed, they know that their You Shall Not Pass! will almost certainly not stop, but only delay Arisaka, but all of them volunteer to stay behind and give Horace, Shigeru, and the others time to find Ran-Koshi.
  • While challenging Tennyson in Book 8, Halt impulsively signs Horace up to defeat Killeen and Gerard, trusting that the young knight will be willing and able to handle the two bruisers. That's a lot of faith. And none of it is misplaced.
  • At Horace and Cassandra's wedding, Will spends ages working on a speech with loads of Purple Prose (to the extent that that's actually the title of the short story). But when the speech gets destroyed, he gives one which was improvised, but much more beautiful and heartfelt, and leaves even Not So Stoic Halt near tears.
    "I can't imagine anyone better suited to Cassandra than Horace, or anyone better suited to Horace than Cassandra."
    • Shigeru also comes halfway around the world, leaving his just-stabilized kingdom in the hands of a regent, because the man who's almost his son is getting married.
    • Heck, the entire wedding is Heartwarming for everyone, in-universe and out, who's shipped them for years.
  • Hearing that a nearly-extinct animal is preying on a farming couple's cattle, Maddie chooses not to kill it, but takes the much more complicated and riskier option of drugging it, healing its wounds, and setting it free to hunt back among the mountains.
  • At first in Book 10, Horace's title of "Kurokuma" and that "it's a term of great respect" is a Running Gag among the Nihon-Jan. After he leads the Kikori in their first successful battle, though, this bit of dialogue occurs:
    Will: I'd still like to know how he got that name.
    Shigeru: However he got it, it truly is a term of great respect.
  • And of course, the moment that most, if not all, of the fans had been waiting for: The small, simple, yet beautiful wedding of Will and Alyss.

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