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Heartwarming / Vorkosigan Saga

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"The one thing you can't trade for your heart's desire is your heart."
Miles, Memory

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    Shards of Honor 
  • Cordelia is in no mood to appreciate it but the fact her crew of divas voted unanimously to rescue her from 'The Butcher of Komarr' is rather touching. It's also pretty funny. Here she is comfortably ensconced in the best cabin mulling over an offer a marriage and here come her crew to 'rescue' her!
  • From Shards Of Honor, Aral offering to give up Barrayar and move to Beta Colony as a judo instructor. While how serious he was about this is up for debate, the fact that he put enough thought into it to be able to name his probable career (and the fact that he might well have done it, had their situations been reversed) is pretty damned adorable and a testament to just how much he loved Cordelia, even from the first.
  • Cordelia meets and falls in love with Aral, but they are on different sides of a war, and Aral is supposed to be a war criminal. She gets repatriated at the end of the war after being a POW. Her own people, in examining her for PTSD or adjustments find out her love of Aral. They think it's fake, and work to 'undo' the brainwashing. She does her own moment of awesome, escapes the security forces, and steals a ship to meet back with Aral.

  • Barrayar. Cordelia and Aral are discussing the psychopathic Sergeant Bothari, a sadistic abuse victim who, in the past book, came very, very close to raping Cordelia before he decided to rescue her instead. Cordelia wonders why Bothari seems to idolize her so much. Aral's response:
    Aral Vorkosigan: "[Bothari] becomes whatever is required of him. Not a conscious process, I don't think. Piotr expects a loyal retainer, and Bothari plays the part, deadpan as you please. Vorrutyer wanted a monster, and Bothari became his torturer. And victim. I demanded a good soldier, and he became one for me. You . . ." his voice softened, "you are the only person I know who looks at Bothari and sees a hero. So he becomes one for you. He clings to you because you create him a greater man than he ever dreamed of being."
  • The epilogue of Barrayar, when Count Piotr Vorkosigan, who HATED Miles' existence as a mutant and a cripple who should never have been allowed to be born (and keeps this attitude for about five years) FINALLY starts to befriend him... Miles is just that charming (or manipulative — later events tend to favor the latter trait).

    The Warrior's Apprentice 
  • Miles' efforts to get Elena Visconti to acknowledge and meet her daughter, who was the product of rape. Visconti first regards Miles' pleads with suspicion and disgust, but his heartfelt offers finally melt her.
    "Would it be so difficult, to do a few days-even a few minutes-of acting? I'm going to have to dip some Dendarii funds anyway to pay for a dead ship, and buy a lady a new face. I could make it worth your time."
    He regretted his words immediately at the loathing that flashed across her face, but the look she finally gave him was ironically thoughtful. "You really care about that girl, don't you?"
    • By Memory, the relationship had improved so much that some of the inherent burden the younger Elena had felt had vanished.
  • In The Warrior's Apprentice, after Miles talks about wanting to make his life "an offering fit to lay at my father's feet":

    The Vor Game 
  • In The Vor Game is the description of how big, powerful, dangerous Admiral Count Aral Vorkosigan, back when he was Lord Regent (and absolute ruler) of the Barrayaran Empire, would take a two-hour lunch every day—short of any crisis less serious than actual war—race home, spend five minutes bolting down a sandwich, then spend an hour-and-a-half down on the floor with his little crippled son who couldn't walk yet, talking and playing games and reading out loud. And how almost no one knew what he was doing in those two-hour lunches.

    Ethan of Athos 
  • First, Ethan Urquhart giving genetically-engineered telepath Terrence Cee the first real acceptance he's ever known, without thinking twice about it:
    Terrence: What am I to you, then, if not a monster?
    Ethan: We all remain children of the Father, however we may otherwise be orphaned. You are my brother, of course.
    Terrence: Of course...? Damn it, I'm the ultimate weapon, the super agent. I survived it all. How can you make me weep now?
  • Then, at the end, meeting Ethan's father (paraphrasing):
    Ethan: I've only brought one immigrant with me, but he's quite remarkable. He's been my friend for all this time.
    Ethan's Father: Welcome to Athos, Terrance. Any friend of my son's is a son to me.
    Terrance: really mean that, don't you!
  • Finally, the last lines from the book, in which Ethan, the product of an all-male planet, realizes his society was built on the bones of women, and even though the residents only believe in fathers, he makes a special prayer to the woman who gave him part of his genes.
    Ethan paused in front of the bathroom mirror before turning out the light, and studied his own face. He thought of Elli Quinn, and EQ-1. In a woman, one saw not charts and graphs and numbers, but the genes of one's own children personified and made flesh. So, every ovarian culture on Athos cast a woman's shadow, unacknowledged, ineradicably there.
    And what had she been like, Dr. Cynthia Jane Baruch, 200 years dead now, and how much had she secretly shaped Athos, all unbeknownst to the founding fathers who had hired her to create their ovarian cultures? She who had cared enough to put herself in them? The very bones of Athos were molded to her pattern. His bones.
    "Salute, Mother," Ethan whispered, and turned away to bed. Tomorrow began the new world, and the work thereof.

    Borders of Infinity 
  • Heartwarming or Awesome, it's a toss-up: In "The Mountains of Mourning," after disinterring an infant to confirm that she'd been murdered, Miles realizes he doesn't have anything with him to burn as the customary small sacrifice at a burial. He thinks: Peace to you, small lady, after our rude invasions. I will give you a better sacrifice, I swear by my word as Vorkosigan. And the smoke of that burning will rise and be seen from one end of these mountains to the other. He makes good on the promise.
    • Even better is when Miles returns to the same village years later and finds that the poverty-stricken backwater has been transformed into a thriving community, and the mother of the murdered infant is now a teacher at the newly-built school, which, at Miles' suggestion, is named for the infant.

    Brothers in Arms 
  • In Brothers in Arms Miles tells Mark that their grandfather tried to smother him in his cradle, he knows this because Piotr told him. Consider the context; Four-Star Badass General Count Piotr Vorkosigan confessed to his grandson he had been wrong about him. That's heartwarming right down to the toes.
  • When Miles first meets Mark - a clone he had no idea existed who, as far as he knows, is a willing part of the conspiracy to kill and replace him - his first response is to work out what Mark's name should be and call him brother. Even as Miles is being dragged away to be tortured:
    "Your name is Mark!"

    Mirror Dance 
  • The unusual way Mark bonds with Aral in Mirror Dance: he immediately tells him of how Ser Galen trained him in assassinating him, and was instructed him to make Aral think it was Miles who betrayed him as he died. Aral's response? To nod and critique the plot casually. This relaxes Mark and the two start their relationship with total honesty.
  • It's tossed off so casually the reader barely notices on first take but Elena has brought her baby to make an offering at her father's grave. Sounds like she's gotten over her issues.
  • Mark finds an unfamiliar name in the Vorkosigan's celebrated cemetary: Amor Klyeuvi. Kly the Mail got his just reward after decades of service and his role during Vordarian's Pretendership.
  • When Baron Fell briefly becomes Georish Stauber and thanks Mark sincerely for helping him by killing his older brother (who tried to kill him). Later, Georish bids his sister goodbye after 80 plus years, reminiscing about escaping Ryoval together (through sewers no less). The farewells are edged, but still sincere.
    Lilly: So this is the end of the road. The last of our blood-pact. Who would have imagined it, all those years ago, when we were climbing out of Ryoval’s sewers together?
    Georish: Not I. (Georish and Lilly embrace one last time) Goodbye, Lilly.
    Lilly: Goodbye, Georie.
  • The ending, especially Cordelia's maternal smile of greed, since she and Aral had the second child she'd always wanted but could never have had because of Miles' condition; a second male would have put "mutie" Miles in danger, since plots to make his brother the heir apparent to Vorkosigan House.
    The Countess attached herself to her husband's arm. "Lead on, love. Vorkosigans Victorious."
    Vorkosigans Convalescent, was more like it, Miles reflected, following. But you should see what the other guys look like.

  • Ivan's Tough Love via ice bath shortly after Miles gets fired from ImpSec and goes into a nearly suicidal funk is pretty damned touching for anyone who's been in a similar situation on either side. Extra touching is that he says he's done it before, and stopped counting after 25 times or so.
  • Any part of Memory with Simon learning how to live a normal life. Thirty years of playing the bland, colorless Spymaster thanks to his memory chip... he's got a lot of living to do. Lucky he's got a lot of awesome friends to help him catch up.
    • Miles shocking discovery: Illyan can dance?!
  • Miles meeting the cadre of Gregor's Imperial Auditors when they're promoting him from temporary Auditor to full-time Auditor. They all recognize Miles' talents, saying that his unique talents complement theirs. It's one of the very few times in the series that Miles meet a group of Barrayarans who are completely accepting of who he is and what he can do. Their relationship is also heartwarming: they get together to discuss cases with one another, and it doubles as a social function for very powerful but utterly normal people who aren't fond of being The Dreaded.
  • Simon planned to give his job to Miles, in due time, until he was forced to fire Miles for lying. And even when Simon is suffering a memory breakdown that makes Alzheimer's look like a lack of morning coffee, he still trusts Miles to help him.
    • How much does Simon trust Miles? In the midst of his breakdown, when he's jumping between timeframes every five minutes, Simon goes back to when Miles was only five. And even then, Simon only needs an 'Uncle Simon' and a good look at the adult Miles before he tells Miles a few important notes to keep him safe.

  • The final scene of Komarr where Miles reels off his list of exes (culminating with the Empress of Cetaganda), and Ekaterin asks if she can get in line. And his response:
    "The next number up," he breathed, "is `one.' "
    • In fact this scene made me feel the start of A Civil Campaign were totally redundant and out of character. If they're flirting this hard before then why do they regress back on Barrayar?
    • Because Ekatarin was coming off her adrenaline high. After sober reflection, she'd decided that the risks of romantic involvements were too high. Was she deluding herself? Probably, but that was her rationale for backing off.
    • The significant social consequences of starting a relationship like that so soon likely contributed to her reluctance as well. Her husband only just died, and Barrayar custom expects a certain mourning period that isn't properly over by A Civil Campaign. It's kind of a big deal that several Vor men consider the impropriety worth the chance to steal a march on other Vor.

    A Civil Campaign 
  • The wedding planning scene in A Civil Campaign. At first it just looks like charming domesticity, but then you realize: they're in the Green Silk Room. The very same room where thirty-some years ago Emperor Ezar Vorbarra and Lord Aral Vorkosigan were plotting how to murder Ezar's son and start an interstellar war to hide his corpse among. The inception point of "the most wasteful political assassination plot in Barrayaran history" has now become a peaceful place where Ezar's grandson and his fiancee happily work out the details of their wedding party and how soon they can bring new life into the world. And then it hits the reader; Barrayar has made it. The barbaric, blood-soaked place that our heroes and their forebears have bled out their hearts and souls to try and save has indeed moved into the new era they'd always hoped for, a more peaceful and gentle age.
    • Even the antagonists of A Civil Campaign bear this theme out. Venal and corrupt as they are, they're cartoonishly harmless compared to people like Vordarian the Pretender and so are their actions. It's considered a horrific, political-career-ending-on-the-spot thing in ACC when one Vor Lord is caught sending several thugs to inflict a painful and humiliating yet entirely survivable beating on anothernote ; thirty years ago, a similar family feud would have been fortunate to merely involve grenade launchers as opposed to full-on civil war.
    • Note also that every lethal antagonist in the series after this point is from off-world.
  • Aral's love for Miles is always aw-inducing, but his stretching of his Barrayaran sensibilities to accept Mark is doubly so. The moment where Aral quite casually asserts Mark's status as his son is breathtaking.
    • To elaborate - Mark is a clone of Miles created by enemies of the family to kill and replace Miles in order to get at Aral. Mark rebels and at the age of 21 or so is adopted into the family, well...yeah. In this scene, just two years later, a friend of Aral's starts complaining about "your son," and Aral's first reaction is to ask "which one?" To be sure, he'd deliberately referred to Mark that way before; this was totally offhand. Considering Kou was referring to Mark, it's doubly heartwarming.
    • Another magnificent thing about that scene is that Miles, in the midst of his own problems, still cares enough about his brother to be pleased that Mark had the chance to hear Aral say that.
  • Miles' letter of apology to Ekaterin in chapter 11 A Civil Campaign. Particularly, this excerpt;
    I love you. But I lust after and covet so much more than your body. I wanted to possess the power of your eyes, the way they see form and beauty that isn't even there yet and draw it up out of nothing into the solid world. I wanted to own the honor of your heart, unbowed in the vilest horrors of those bleak hours on Komarr. I wanted your courage and your will, your caution and serenity. I wanted, I suppose, your soul, and that was too much to want.
    • By the time Ekaterin finishes reading her letter she is a gently steaming puddle of emotional goo - and so is the female reader. Take note guys, that is how to write a love letter!
    • All readers are left teary-eyed by that scene, regardless of gender.
  • One moment in A Civil Campaign, showing just how much Cordelia appreciates Mark.
    She smiles at him in genuine pleasure, surely one of the few people in the universe to do so.
  • Ivan reflecting in "A Civil Campaign" upon having to hide his face during the meeting of the Council of Counts where Miles took his Imperial Auditor's oath, so no one would see his tears of pride and joy.

    Winterfair Gifts 
  • Taura and Roic at the end of '"Winterfair Gifts''. After all, there is no such thing as a horizontal height differential.

    Diplomatic Immunity 
  • Diplomatic Immunity has not so much a Moment as a Crowning Cultural Background Noise of Heartwarming, for those who've read Falling Free. Between Graf Station, the finale of the zero-G ballet, and "Leo" being the most popular boy's name by roughly a full order of magnitude... The Quaddies really love their granddad.
    • There's also the salutes to Madame Minchenko, who gave them their love of art to balance out Leo Graf's industry, with a ballet hall named after her.
    • As provincial as the Quaddies might be, there's no stigma at all to them and "downsiders" having a romance and starting a family, thanks to Leo and Silver's famed romance.
    • The Quaddie ballet features a love duet for Leo and Silver. Since the role of Leo (a human) is played by a Quaddie, his dance moves are intentionally more awkward and clumsy than Silver's, but it comes across as Endearingly Dorky instead of insulting.

     Captain Vorpatril's Alliance 
  • Rish finds out her family isn't dead and says "Is everything horrible going to come untrue? The answer eventually turns out to be yes. All the Arquas are discovered to have survived the attempted coup. The bodyguard Rish and Tej saw 'die' covering their escape also survived. And they get back their House.
  • Count Falco Vorpatril denies Ivan and Tej's petition for divorce on the grounds they took valid and voluntary vows. And very possibly because everything from their testimony to their body language (they insist on sitting together and even hold hands for mutual support) makes it clear to the objective eye that they are head-over-heels in love.
    • Becomes a Funny Moment when after dressing down Ivan, he invites them both to meet Countess Vorpatril sometime.
      • Any and all of the interactions between Tej and Ivan's family and friends. She's amazed at how stately yet caring Alys is, how warm a couple Duv and Delia are, and so on. She's even pissed at Ivan's depiction of his mother as a harridan. She internally muses that while Ivan has no brothers, he has brothers-in-arms.
  • A casual remark to Ivan, after he reveals that he was being more clever than brave: "Oh, good. Your mother said she didn't think you could be an idiot." After Ivan has spent so many books as the Phrase Catcher for "Ivan, you idiot!", it's nice to see that his family actually believes in him.
  • After the emergency marriage of convenience, failed divorce, and the ensuing comedy of errors; Ivan realizes he truly loves his wife and proposes.
    Ivan: Tej. Will you stay with me for the rest of my life?note 
  • Tej and Ivan had a bet on whether the bunker would have any treasure left. Tej reveals that had she won (and she did), her request would be to remain with Ivan. Considering Ivan at that point would have asked the same of Tej, it was a romantic version of Heads I Win, Tails You Lose.
  • At the end of Captain Vorpatril's Alliance, Gregor overrules the head of ImpSec and comes onto the scene, just to see for himself that his cousin Ivan is alive.

  • The "Letter from home" shows how Miles' married life has developed, bringing to mind Cordelia's "Lots of little Vorkosigans" wish from back in Barrayar.
  • In Cryoburn, there's a small moment that shows, even in Ekaterin's absence, just how much she means to him. In the midst of one of his manic, run-on explanations, he notices the confused faces of his audience, and absently reminds himself: "Oh yes. Unpack, Miles."
  • Emperor Gregor's words at Aral Vorkosigan's funeral, as he moves to join the pallbearers and Lady Alys objects to the lèse-majesté.
    Gregor: This man has carried me since I was five years old. It's my turn.
    • When one learns of their relationship in Gentleman Joe and the Red Queen, Jole as one of the pallbearers becomes achingly poignant, too, and no one knows the significance but Cordelia and Illyan at that point.

    Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen 
  • Again in Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen where Cordelia finally gets a chance to have her own "Lots of little Vorkosigans" wish realized after decades of longing, as Miles' children and Aral's death mean any additional biological children are no longer a threat to Miles' life or position.note 
  • Near the end of Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen, Miles finally learns of Jole, Cordelia and Aral's three-headed marriage — being part-Betan, Miles takes this smoothly. He is surprised that Jole and Aral will have genetic children together. His eventual reaction?
    Miles leaned back, recrossed his legs, tapped his fingers on his chair arm. Looked up. "So, ah...what are you planning to name them?"
    Despite his weariness, a smile tugged up Jole’s lips.
    I win.
    We all do.
  • In the B-Plot, Cordelia deals with young ambassador aide Soren seeking asylum on Sergyar, not wanting to be shipped back to Cetaganda to a round of I Told You So from his family of plumbers.
    Cordelia: Ever work in your family business?
    Soren: Some. When I was young.
    Cordelia: Are you willing to take work on Sergyar as a plumber? Because while we will certainly want artists in the future, we need plumbers right now.
    Soren: Uh.. yes?
    Cordelia: All right! You pass the Vicereine Vorkosigan test for determination of purpose and flexibility of method. Sergyar wants you. This way. (to Ivy) Ivy, take this young man in hand and fix him up with the most innocuous grant of asylum you can make sound plausible.