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Curved Swords

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Routine; along with getting older, fear of it sat like a rock in the back of most people’s minds. They reach the halfway point of their lives and wonder…is this really it? Is this really how things are going to play out? To end? Then these old fools of men and women panic, run off, do something drastic and get themselves and others hurt in the process.

Take up a blade to become a paid mercenary. Cheating on their spouses and ruining their loving marriages with someone just barely half their age. The endings were always the same; foolish, tragic and completely avoidable.

Moth didn’t fear aging. And after the chaos that had been his younger years, he had come to enjoy the cycle that was his day to day. Barely surviving a war against an entire legion of elven enemy mages will do that to a Mer. Calcelmo lighting one thing or making another thing fly across the room in Moth’s presence still made him flinch. Was it a candle or a comrade? Was it a book or an ice spear? How soon could he expect to hear another Legionnaire’s agonized screaming? Would he be hearing his own next? Ghorza’s? Rarely can you fully kill instinct and never so quickly.

In the forge of Markarth’s Understone Keep was where he laid his head, his older twin sister and that Imperial boy she kept around as a student both snoring away beside him. Talentless whelp but he had intelligence, potential, persistence. If it weren’t for those three, Ghorza would have dropped him back wherever she picked him up a long time ago. Claimed she remembered being his position an amount of years ago she wasn’t too keen to admit, even to her own twin.

Moth was always up first, for the quiet. Outside their shared room, he could hear nothing but the whirring of Dwemeri gears and the soft clanking of the night guard, heading to sleep themselves. He coughed deeply, clearing the tightness from his throat, stood and stretched. He trudged over to the door, irritably kicking a pair of boots (most likely Ghorza’s) out of his path. With another deep breath, Moth leapt up, latched onto the top of the door frame and pulled himself upwards with a grunting count of one.

This was the start of the routine, the daily cycle of his life that both gave him peace and saved him from his own idleness. He’d manage a good twenty every morning before dropping to the ground again and actually preparing himself to be seen in public. Cleaning his teeth, washing his face and his beard, making a silent suggestion to cut his hair that he would never go through with before tying it up out of his eyes and setting out to warm his forge, thinking of the orders he would need to give priority for the day. When that began, he was utterly dedicated to his work. He’d spend hours sweating over the forge, beating away at hot metal, taking a short amount of time for his lunch and getting back into things before he closed it down at dusk and met with his sister for dinner. It was a daily process that would make anyone else stir crazy. Even Ghorza had taken on a student in a spur of the moment type manner. For Moth, the pay was good and the routine worked, like the still moving Dwemer gears that lulled him to sleep every night.

Occasionally, a wrench would thrown in. Like Thongvor would really get into it with the Jarl and Moth would listen in, knowing he’d have to later act as either mediator where the Jarl’s uncle could not or as an attentive, though not completely willing ear to Silver-Blood’s later complaints down the line.

This wrench, however was a particularly large one. And it was less thrown into his life and more walked itself in and made itself at home.

Just a few weeks after the death of that Margret girl in the town center, Moth overheard some stranger discussing it with Igmund while closing up for the night. Just off the sound of his voice, he could tell that the stranger wasn’t a Nord. At least not one who grew up in Skyrim. He actually found his accent impossible to place, as if this man had been reared in two or three different provinces at once. Even while standing before the Jarl, his tone was languid, roguish and almost disrespectful but the inflections and the terminology gave hint to a more refined upbringing.

Interesting enough, Moth supposed, seeing as it managed to catch his attention for more than a few seconds but it was nothing worth thinking further on. That is until the Jarl sent the stranger his way.

For sometime, Moth had been trying and failing to procure a Daedra’s heart. Igmund wanted his personal blade cooled in blood and what the Jarl wanted, the Jarl got; Moth had no patience to argue against it. If some merc was offering assistance, who was Moth to say no?

It was when the stranger claimed to already have one on him that Moth realized he hadn’t yet even turned from his work to get a good look at him or ask him his name. True to his word, there he stood, pulling a cloth wrapped object from his pack and untying it to reveal a Daedric heart, just as he had claimed.

First thing Moth noticed was his smile. Clean, healthy teeth that glimmered in the light of the forge. The smile itself was very confident, damn near arrogant. It was charming and still managed to grate on his nerves. Then the broad nose, the strong jaw, hidden beneath short facial hair, the brown, almond shaped eyes. Dark brown skin; Redguard, he had guessed though the eyes and the accent were still throwing him off.

Moth’s eyes fell back down to the cloth wrapped heart, still held out. As he approached, the stranger loosened his fingers, exposing the Daedric organ to the air and allowing Moth to confirm that it was the real thing. “Impressive,” was all Moth said.

Still smiling, the man stepped back slightly and gestured to the battered, ill-fitting heavy armor strapped to his body. “This old crap? Nah. You should see me out of it.”

“You got a name, stranger?”

“Sure. You?”

A funnyman. Wonderful. The Orc let out an amused hum anyway. “Moth.”

“Felwinter. At your service.” The man bowed, a bit of mocking flourish but the proper form seen among the Imperial and Breton nobility. Refined, indeed.

The corner of Moth’s mouth curled upwards just slightly. Too small to be noticed unless one was looking for it. And this stranger, Felwinter, was definitely looking for it because his own grin widened. Wrapping up the heart again, he unceremoniously dropped it into Moth’s open palm. Moth started walking back to his forge. “So how much do I owe you for your trouble?”

“Trouble? No trouble.” Behind him, Moth heard the telltale sound of metal shifting. A quick peek over his shoulder let him catch a glimpse of Felwinter leaning against the entrance, eyes burning holes into Moth’s back. “But maybe I could trouble you.”

A hint of suggestion in his tone. Moth nudged the conversation along where Felwinter was taking it, responding with a simple, “I’m listening.”

“It’s simple, really. Your company…and a drink, if you’re interested.”

Malacath be praised Ghorza wasn’t around. She’d never let him hear the end of it. Still, laughter boomed in Moth’s throat. “That it, huh? I take that’s usually how you settle your debts?”

Felwinter laughed, deep and slow, like calm thunder. “It’s worked for me. Once or twice.”

Moth wasn’t surprised. If you’ve got it, you may as well use it. Still, he dug into where he kept the funds the Jarl allocated to him and quickly counted out too much coin. “Well, I’m not you stranger.” He walked back over to Felwinter, tying up the small bag. “I pay what I owe.”

He held the bag out, reminiscent of the position Felwinter was in just earlier. If Felwinter was disappointed, he didn’t show it. But his smile seemed softer or at least had less of an edge to it. The man nodded again, grabbed hold of the bag and pulled. At that moment, Moth squeezed his hand slightly, preventing the bag from leaving his palm. Felwinter’s eyebrows raised.

“Sundown,” Moth told him quietly, “Silver-Blood inn. I’ll meet you there.” He nodded his head to the bag, “You’re buying, of course.” That shit eating grin returned almost immediately.

He did as he said he would and it went about as one would expect. Sundown came, drinks and talking turned to drinks and an actual conversation, fluid and enthusiastic. Then a deliberately placed hand, a silent invite and ended with the both of them naked and exhausted in bed with Moth’s undergarments hanging off of one of the inn room’s chandeliers because, again, he was apparently dealing with the empire’s biggest jester.

That was weeks ago. Felwinter had left the following morning and Moth promptly forgot about him, save for whatever memories he could later put to good use. It was fun and all, the talking, fucking, but Moth already had too much crap on his plate to concern himself with a one-off.

“Hey, Jarl’s boy,” he heard Ghorza call from the doorway over his work, “Some Redguard out here asking after you.”

Moth kept striking at the metal, not bothering to look up. “Does said Redguard have a face?”

“Yeah. Why, you fuckin’ it?” He fixed her with a withering glare and she simply bared her tusks in a smile. “Short beard, brown eyes, always grinning like he’s up to something-”

“Felwinter.” He turned back to his work. So the he was back…

“So, is that a yes or is he free prey?”

His shoulders fell, “Ghorza…”

“Yes or no question, little brother.”

“Ghorza, I am not in the mood for-”

“Well, I did the face-fucking last time but if he wants to give it a go, he knows I’m more than willing.” Moth was so caught up in ignoring her, he failed entirely to notice Felwinter walking up. He cursed, could probably hear their entire conversation too.

New armor this time. Moth recognized it as Nordic steel, custom made. Same stupid grin. “Ghorza, can you give us a minute?”

Ghorza hummed at her little victory. “Take all the time you need, little brother.” Felwinter stepped aside to let her exit, bowing once again. She hummed again, “Making fires with the highborns, brother? Did Cyrodiil not tire you out?”

Felwinter frowned, “Making fires? How are we...oh, because we…” he rubbed his two pointer fingers together and guffawed, “Ha. Ha! I like that!”

“No, you don’t,” Moth snapped, “Ghorza, get out .”

Finally, she did as told but the look on Felwinter’s face told him that the damage was done. “Jarl’s boy?” He asked, breaking their silence.

“Igmund chose me over her to be his personal blacksmith and she’s still not over it.” He tossed the hammer down and dipped his hands in a nearby bucket of water. “Why are you here, Felwinter?”

He lifted off the wall and walked further into Moth’s forge. “Was in town.” Moth turned to see a rag being held out to him. “Wanted to see you.”

Moth thanked him with a nod. “Was under the assumption that this was a one time thing.”

“Damn, was I that bad?”

“Worst I’ve ever had,” Moth quipped, turning to his work bench. On the contrary, he had spent the rest of that week in a better mood than he had started it with. Felwinter was patient, attentive and obviously eager to please. Few people were ever gentle with him and certainly not in bed.

Which was why maybe it would be better to continue. He had the time and it took nothing away from his schedule. If anything, he enjoyed having someone new to talk to.

Felwinter chuckled. Light and easy; he knew Moth was joking, despite all the deadpan. “Well, I live in Vlindrel Hall now, in case you can find it in your heart to give me a second chance.” Moth listened as metal footsteps retreated from his position, “But if not, thanks for the time. Really, I had fun.”

“You bought Vlindrel Hall, huh?” Moth turned and leaned against the bench. “Didn’t know you were swimming in that kind of money. Left home with it, I take it?”

Felwinter blinked. “I don’t get your meaning.”

“The bowing, the way you speak,” Moth explained, “You heard Ghorza. You’re a-”

“Highborn. Noble. Got it.”

There was a terseness in his voice and a falter in his smile, easily missed but Moth paid attention to the people he spoke to. “Are you not?”

“High Rock, yes,” Felwinter said, starting to walk around Moth’s forge, tracing his fingers along the stone walls, “Left it all behind years ago. I’m sure they were all glad to be rid of me. The feeling was mutual.”

“High Rock? You’re-”

“Breton. Through my mother.”

Moth hummed. He never would have guessed that. “Regardless, like most migrants, I came here with nothing,” Felwinter went on, “Worked honestly for the money I got.”

“Most people wouldn’t call mercenary work ‘honest’.”

“Most mercs can’t kill dragons,” he retorted, “Or giants. Or clean out bandit camps on their own.” He grinned, with too much sharp teeth, “I’ve gone and become Jarl Balgruuf’s personal problem solver. In addition to the pay, I get to keep whatever I find. Things people pay well for.” He shrugged and looked away, “It’s a good thing considering my circumstances.”

Moth looked him up and down, his body language and his face. He knows when he’s stepped in it. The Orc sighed and said, “If I have insulted you, I apologize.” Felwinter looked up and Moth held his gaze, “I did not mean to insinuate laziness within you.”

A bit of the smile returned. Felwinter nodded and started for the exit . Moth called out, “I’d like to make it up to you.” Felwinter stopped, “Tonight. Over drinks. At your place. If you are still willing.”

The smile came back in full force. “Can’t wait,” was all Felwinter said before happily striding out.

Moth bent to pick up his hammer and felt his stomach rumble. He groaned, realizing his hour for lunch had passed. “Drinks and food,” he muttered to himself before lifting the hammer and going back to work.

“Always wanted to see what the inside of this place looked like.” Moth stepped past to let Felwinter close the door behind him.

“Up to your standards?”

“Meh.” Felwinter laughed and pushed past him, leading him further inside. In all honesty, it was cozy. Not a term anyone, least of all Moth, would consider a home built into and out of the mountain. But candles and fireplaces kept it strangely warm, it was well decorated, well furnished. True comfort rarely came to Moth but he felt this was something he could get used to.

He shook his head. Not a thought trail he should be following.

“Argis should be asleep,” he heard Felwinter mutter to himself. Then he said louder, “My housecarl. He knows you’re here but he shouldn’t hear anything.”

“You have a housecarl? You are a Thane then?”

“That’s right. And of Whiterun.” He jabbed Moth in the ribs with his elbow, “Guess your sister was right about you and highborns.”

“Hmm. So she was.” Moth was lead into the dining room. A large table with only enough seats for a few and at the end, a roaring fireplace, built into the wall. Even from his distance away, he could feel the the mountain’s chill begin melt away.

Felwinter plucked a bottle from the table. “Spiced wine,” he said, working the cork with his teeth, “This woman in Solitude makes some of the best I’ve ever tasted.” It released with a pop and Felwinter began to gulp it down, forgoing cups entirely. A self centered part of Moth wanted to attribute the behavior to him going out of his way to prove how unlike nobility he was. But it was just that; self centered. That part of the mind that based every decision other’s made on how it related to yourself. But no, his shoulders were drawn loose and low and he was slouching slightly. This was just how he was.

Felwinter passed the bottle to Moth, he did the same as he did and downed it straight from the bottle. He gestured behind him, “I’ve got food if you want it. I remember you never got to eat.”

Moth remembered they had discussed his day to day but never expected him to remember. “I can eat after,” he said, lowly drawled and full of intent. He handed the bottle back. Felwinter’s fingers brushed against his as he accepted the bottle with a nod.

The man took a long pull and Moth’s eyes were drawn to the muscles in that neck of his. Felwinter’s gaze never left him until he put down the bottle and gestured behind them, “Bedroom’s back there.”

“Lights out?”

Moth sat down on the edge of Felwinter’s bed with a soft grunt. “Your house.”

“I’ll leave them,” he decided, “I want to see you.” Felwinter stepped away from the door and started to pull off his boots, hopping on one leg to avoid pitching over. He looked over when he heard Moth chuckling. “You’re always laughing at me.”

Moth bent over and started on his own shoes. “You’re the one who acts like he’s a fucking jester.”

“Acts?” He unbuckled his belt and tossed it to the side. Moth laughed again, suddenly silenced when Felwinter cupped his face and kissed him softly. Moth’s hands instinctively went up to his waist, sighing and relaxing into the kiss. Another creature comfort he was unused to.

Others taking control was yet another thing Moth was unused to. Felwinter doing so wasn’t exactly a surprise. No, the surprise was Moth letting him. When Felwinter pushed down on his shoulders, he went down. When he kicked apart Moth’s legs and put himself in between, Moth tightened them around him. It wasn’t something he normally did but it just felt right.

The men parted for air. Felwinter lifted off him and up close, Moth could see just how tall the man was, standing a good head over even his own considerable height. The merc pulled his shirt over his head and Moth grunted his approval. Felwinter cut a warrior’s figure, as if the heavy armor he always sported did not already say as much. Long, powerful arms, deep chest, a broad, rippling back and a core that was strong but always gave a little to Moth’s prodding. Form of a man who trained and fought hard but could never say no to an extra slicing of cake or three.

Felwinter hiked up his shirt and started to kiss at his stomach and chest with Moth’s hands roaming over his shoulders and back in the meanwhile. He was slow with it, taking his time, tracing every inch of Moth’s torso with his lips and tongue same as last time.

Moth shifted, lifting slightly to rid himself of his shirt. Felwinter paused to let him do so, then whistled. “Keep forgetting you stopped fighting years ago,” he murmured, running his hands over the planes of Moth’s chest. “I stop moving, I start going soft within days.”

Middle aged Felwinter, belly protruding past his belt and a softness to his face. Still loud, still jovial, still as big and strong and charming as he was when he was younger, wooer of lonely wives, charmer of frustrated husbands, bane of marriages everywhere. Moth couldn’t help but laugh at the thought.

Felwinter had already gotten his mouth back on Moth’s body when he did. “What’s so funny?” He mumbled into Moth’s stomach.

“I’m imagining you fat.”

“Oh, you’d like that wouldn’t you. That’s probably what you’re into.” Before Moth could retort, his stomach growled. Loud enough and hard enough to make Felwinter’s head dart back in surprise. “Let’s take the edge off here and then get you fed first, huh?”

Moth grunted his consent and Felwinter was back on him, kissing him while hooking a thumb into his own pants and smoothly drawing them down. Moth was decidedly less smooth, shoving Felwinter back so he could tear his own pants off and toss them to the side. Felwinter laughed at him again before dropping back down and resting his full, heavy weight along Moth.

Shit, maybe he was into it.

Felwinter reached down and took hold of him, hand tight and warm. His whole body was warm, almost unreasonably so. Enough for Moth to notice even as Felwinter was trying to keep him incoherent. “Fel, you alright?”

He stopped. “Fel?”

“Yes, Fel. Fine, Felwinter , are you alright?”

He smirked. “Call me Fel all you like. And I’m perfectly fine.” He resumes his groping, “At least I was until you interrupted me.”

“Then why are you on fire?”

The man’s entire frame jerked and he nearly shot himself over and off the bed. “Shit, I didn’t mean to-”

“Fel! Felwinter, I mean you’re burning up!” He put his hand to the bared skin of his shoulder, finding it still searing.

Felwinter blinked. “Oh…shit, I apologize. I didn’t burn you, did I?”

“I-” he paused, realizing Felwinter’s skin had gone cool to the touch almost immediately, “How in the void…”

Felwinter was kissing him again, harder, deeper this time. He took Moth in his hand, hot again though the rest of his body remained cool to the touch. Whatever Moth wanted to ask was lost to him when Felwinter grabbed at him. The other hand, just as mind numbingly warm, kept a hard grip on his thigh, pulling them closer, grinding them together.

Felwinter took them both in hand and a few passes was all he needed to finish Moth off. Felwinter drew back and watched Moth’s completion run through him under hooded eyes. “Yes,” he whispered against Moth’s lips, “That’s good. So good.” He buried his face in Moth’s sweaty neck, “So…” his words devolved into incoherence and rumbling growls. Moth brought his hands up and squeezed at his shoulders until Fel’s body began to seize and Moth felt warmth striping his stomach and legs. Slowly, the muscles underneath Moth’s hands began to unclench and relax. The man was cooler now. Still warm but comfortably so rather than searing to the touch.

They were both still on their knees, pressed up against the headboard. Felwinter had his arms around Moth’s waist, keeping him pressed against the wall. Moth blew out a stream of air from his mouth and reached up to push his hair from his eyes. Felwinter got to it first, slicking it back and locking eyes with him. “Still hungry?”

“You didn’t tire me out that badly.”

“Yet here you are, still trying to catch your breath.” Felwinter kissed him again and slid off, “Come on, food should still be good. We can get back to it when you’re done.”

Moth watched in silence as Felwinter got dressed, remembering the feel of his skin and becoming uncomfortable with the questions it brought forth.

“You’re a mage.”

Moth’s voice drew Felwinter’s attention away from the book in his hand as well as the chicken bone being worked over in his mouth. His face remained blank before breaking out into a false but convincingly easy grin. “Figured that out on your own, did you?”

“Why did I have to? Why didn’t you tell me?”

The smile was gone but his face remained relaxed. “It’s not exactly something I like to bring up, especially when I want to bed someone. Don’t know if you’ve noticed but people don’t take too kindly to magic in Skyrim.” He bit down on the bone and snapped off the head with a crunch to get at the marrow, “Funny, most people can’t tell when I’m using magic that subtly. Even the ones who most abhor want me to do it more often. They always specify ‘hands’.” He wiggled his fingers for emphasis.

Moth couldn’t blame them. Get used to Skyrim’s cold all you want, be born and live your entire life here if you like but no one enjoyed half frozen hands shoved between their legs. “I fought in the Great War. Against the Thalmor,” he said, “I’ve got more experience than most.”

Felwinter grew somber rather quickly. “Yeah, I saw the remains of that war. Hammerfell, Cyrodiil. You grow up in High Rock, magic and mages are as natural as, I don’t know, people keeping pets. Hard to imagine what it looks like to someone who didn’t grow up like I did.”

“Odd in more mundane situations,” Moth admitted, not at all knowing why he was doing so. “In battle…” his hands squeezed and he forced them to relax, “In battle, absolutely terrifying.”

“Well to give you a heads up, the room is magically soundproofed.” Felwinter gestured to the still roaring fireplace, “That’s magically sustained as is the heat in the air. Other than that, you don’t need to worry about me. I won’t attack you, won’t cast any spells your way and I’ll keep the magic tucked away while you’re around.”

“Why?” Felwinter blinked and belatedly did Moth realize the sharpness in the tone of his question, “I mean why limit yourself for me?” He asked again, softly this time.

The man chuckled. He was always chuckling. “Contrary to popular belief, I can get by without my magic. You grow up in a society teeming with mages, you learn new ways to suppress their powers. My mother ensured I could defend myself in event that it was taken away. And…” his voice softened, “I’ve come to enjoy spending time with you. Look forward to it even. If you want to end this, you can. Should even,” he told him, “But I’d rather we continue what we’ve been doing.”

Moth let out a long sigh. His mind, his common sense was roaring at him, demanding him to get up and leave, end this right now before something went wrong. Because when it comes to magic, something always went wrong and when it did, one’s best chance was to be as far away from it as possible.

Moth got to his feet, his chair scraping loudly across stone. He lifted the bowl still half full with stew and drained it, a cup of water after. “Then let us continue. I was promised a second round.”

He was an idiot. At least now, he’ll be a well fucked one.

Felwinter stood as Moth rounded the table and took him by the arm, letting himself be dragged back into the bedroom. The doors slammed shut with an echoing metal bang and Felwinter suddenly twisted in his grip, taking Moth’s arm and pinning it to his chest. Felwinter pressed close along the length of his back, keeping his other arm around Moth’s waist, trapping him there.

“You’re used to taking control, aren’t you?” Felwinter whispered against his ear. He didn’t wait for an answer, “Of course you are. Look at you, so big and powerful. But enjoying this so much.” He bit into Moth’s shoulder, teeth sinking directly into that spot and his knees buckled, the big, powerful Orc letting out a keening sigh. Felwinter groaned lowly at that, at the feeling of Moth’s bulk pressed against him. “You damn blacksmiths will be the end of me. Could get myself off just watching you all sweat over your forges.”

“I would be ahh…”Moth stopped to catch the breath Felwinter forced out of him, “Open to such an idea.”

Felwinter hummed. He started unfastening Moth’s pants and pushed his hands inside, “Let’s do you first, huh? We’ll worry about me later.”

One thing to hate about buildings and homes in the Reach, there was almost no way to keep track of time. Moth was annoyed at everything, the sun for already coming up, himself for losing his control so thoroughly that he was walking home while said sun was coming up and then himself again because he fully planned to go back to Felwinter come sunfall again.

“Insatiable bastard,” he grumbled alongside a few other oaths and choice words. Still, the bastard in question worked him over like he had never been before. Rode him into the bed like a damn racehorse and almost never let up, never gave him time to breath. He made his way back and roughly shoved open the door to Understone Keep, earning himself a few tired, annoyed glances. He just scowled and kept on, he was not in the mood to be more nonthreatening today.

He didn’t bother wasting energy on hoping Ghorza would still be asleep because of course she wasn’t . She watched him stomp his way to his bed, not even sparing her a glance or a scowl and that amused her more than otherwise. She let out a short, mocking laugh as he dropped his heavy frame onto his bed like dead weight. Tacitus, too preoccupied with his breakfast to have noticed Moth trudging in. “Something funny, Miss Ghorza?”

“Nothing,” she said, loud enough for Moth to hear, “Just that my brother’s a whore.”

Moth wouldn’t give her the satisfaction of responding. He could feel his own self inflicted bad mood fading away as he drifted off into sleep, leaving only good memories, the ghost of touches and the thought that despite what he prefered, this was a change he would get used to, a change he could come to enjoy. Felwinter was a change he could come to enjoy.

Chapter Text

Tenderness was not a thing Moth was used to. Certainly not during sex, a side effect of his years in the Legion. Sure, he had gotten approached every so often. Some Legionnaire who needed a warm body against theirs and strong hands on them to make them forget how much they missed home. But these usually just led to the two of them escaping the camps into the surrounding forests to press each other against a tree and grind the stress from their bodies. The only intimacy he ever got in these liaisons came in the form of pants yanked down just past the ass for something to grab onto, shirts pushed up to the armpits and shoulders for access to the skin underneath, maybe even the occasional forehead press and tongue filled kiss.

A cock or not, a soft supple chest or a hard, muscular one, Moth could bring himself to attention at the thought of both and for the most part, prejudices were quickly done away with by the horrors and the pressures of war. There were many Legionnaires that sneered at first sight but were ripping at the strings of his pants or the straps of his armor just weeks or days later. Sometimes even hours.

So it stands to reason that he had very little experience with...whatever he and Felwinter were doing. He was back in Markarth, having only taken a week’s trip back to Whiterun. He didn’t need to call on Moth as he did before. No, Moth would come to him. The man would simply come by Understone Keep, greet him and Moth would be at his home by sundown, sometimes with a drink, occasionally with food. It didn’t matter what he brought or how the night ended, Moth honestly just wanted to see him.

A lot of things about Felwinter took some adjusting to but Moth found that the most surprising; that he wanted to see him. That he cared . When Felwinter was away, he’d actually find himself worrying about the big idiot. What messes is he getting himself into? Which dangerous bastard has he pissed off for his own entertainment this time? Is he hurting right now? Is he eating well? When Felwinter was around, they’d spend nearly every free hour Moth had together. In the tavern, at Moth’s forge or more commonly, Felwinter’s home and bed.

They were on their fifth run now, taking each other to bed. Or maybe it was the sixth over the last few months. Moth had stopped counting after it became clear that this was no more a one-off but a regular thing. Neither seemed sure of what this ‘thing’ was. Moth had indeed come to care for the man but that only added to the confusion. Calling what they had a friendship felt too understating. Calling it “more” was rather terrifying.

His full name was Felwinter Gregory Drakon. Born in Stormhaven of High Rock to a Redguard father who left before he was born and a Breton noblewoman. So technically, he was Lord Felwinter Gregory Drakon. He only has some semblance of an idea of what his father looks like because he is apparently a very close image. Because of this, his grandfather, Lucius, kicked him and his mother from his home; for the offense of ‘muddying their bloodline’ and for most of his childhood, the two lived in squalor. His mother, Delilah, managed to turn this around when her father died and installed herself as the main heir to the family estate. Felwinter’s treatment at the hands of the Breton nobility, especially his grandfather, sullied both his and his mother’s views of high society laws and customs. It explained how Felwinter could so flippantly break any law he wished. Those laws gave him nothing but a shit childhood and a miserable mother, angered at how her child was being treated and frustrated that everything she tried to make him changed little. Why would he respect those laws? They didn’t matter if he couldn’t be caught and if there was anything Delilah taught the man, it was how not to be caught, things ranging in scope from covering tracks, both physical and magical, when trespassing to moving or disposing of a body, still living ones included and even in plain sight.

Paralyze it, silence the residual magic, pour alcohol over it and feign assisting it to walk, blaming the alcohol for its stumbling. Either that or carry it. Take it out of view, incinerate it and spread its ashes into the wind.

There was a girl he had come to care for in High Rock. For a time they had been happy but only for a time. In the end, she chose her duty as a noblewoman and a mage of renowned lineage over her happiness with and married another. He didn’t find out until the day before the wedding.

At eighteen, he left High Rock for Hammerfell, met someone else, a man this time and when that went sour, left for Cyrodiil at the age of twenty-nine before finally ending up in Skyrim on his thirtieth birthday.

He was at Helgen. He had survived it, in fact. And the reason Moth did not feel right calling their relationship a friendship was that he admitted to still having nightmares. Not just the dragon (very, very real) but his very near execution. The headsman was on the downswing, that monster appeared and the idiot dropped the axe . It missed Felwinter by a hair. Even cut the crown of his head enough to draw blood.

That was one of the few nights they did not have sex. It was the first night Moth had stayed, holding him and hoping his presence brought at least some measure of comfort. Casual relationships didn’t typically involve cuddling through the night. Moth could fully admit they were more but still did not feel ready to explore what “more” meant.

Tonight, however, they were having sex. It wasn’t as gentle as it usually was but he was attentive and neither really wanted gentle at the moment. Felwinter had Moth on his back, arms splayed out across the bed while he thrust into him, long and hard and mind-rending.

Moth was lost in the throes of it, watching the flex and play of sweat glistened muscles move over him. He brought his arms up, to feel the man, only to find his arms pushed back down as Felwinter leaned over to kiss him. Moth knew a distraction when he saw one. The man had been acting strangely all through the night, giving Moth all of his attention and sparing none for himself. Moth had barely gotten the chance to touch him. He fucked him with that distant look of focus he got when he was setting the entirety of his mind to something. This was a task to him and Moth was unsure how he felt about that.

He didn’t lean back up after kissing Moth, kept his damp forehead pressed into Moth’s neck. With what little there was left of his mind, Moth brought his hands up again, this time to Fel’s shoulders, noticing how he tensed at the contact but allowed it. Moth tried for more, roaming up from his shoulders to his neck until they finally reached over to cup his face. Felwinter slowed, his hands were on Moth’s own again, trying to pull him off, to pin his hands down again but Moth maintained. With just the slightest bit of force, he pulled Felwinter’s face from the crevice of his neck and brought it just above him, staring deep into his eyes. They looked sad. And even a bit afraid.

Moth pulled him into a kiss. After some hesitation, Felwinter responded. His strokes began to pick up speed again. Moth kept his hold on the man’s shaved head, swallowing the rhythmic grunts escaped his mouth. Felwinter’s weight pressing down on his cock was what pushed Moth past the line. He tore his mouth away and the sounds he made escaped into the air while Felwinter practically folded himself in half to nip at Moth’s neck and chest. Before he knew it Moth was striping his belly, Felwinter pulling out and stroking himself to completion, adding his own to the mix.

Felwinter was already beginning to pull away when Moth reached for his face again. He didn’t kiss Felwinter this time, just held him. The man leaned into the touch, his eyes, still full of worry, fluttered closed.

Whatever moment they were having ended there. The man’s eyebrows tightened and he wrapped his hand around Moth’s wrist, pulling it away and standing without another glance. Moth’s body tensed from the lack of sudden heat. Felwinter noticed, handing over the rag he used to wipe himself down. “You cold?” he asked, raising a hand. The hand paused and after a few seconds, he bent over to pick up his pants. He grunted, “I’ll go stoke the fire.”

Moth cleaned himself up and slipped from the bed when the doors closed. The pants he had worn coming over were not the best for sleep so he found himself wearing one of Felwinter’s extras, hiking it up when it pooled slightly at his feet. Felwinter returned before he could even sit down on the bed. The doors banged closed again. “You leaving?” His voice came so softly, Moth wouldn’t have noticed he had spoken if he hadn’t been listening for it.

“These are your pants.” It was an answer as well as a setup. In most other cases, Felwinter would immediately counter Moth’s bluntness with his own sarcasm. The fact that Moth’s mind could immediately imagine what he would respond with ( “You’re stealing my pants then?” ) was proof enough they were spending entirely too much time together.

Instead, the man just gave a short, wordless nod and began to go around the room, snuffing out the candles one by one. “I’m staying,” Moth said, finally laying himself down on the bed, “Because you’re going to tell me what exactly is wrong with you tonight.”

Felwinter paused on one candle. Then kept going. “Nothing is wrong.”

“I don’t believe that.”

“Personal problem.” He blew out the last candle and made his way to the bed.

Moth should be more careful about what he wished for. “Felwinter…”

Silence. Then a long sigh blew from his nose. Moth moved closer and rolled onto his stomach, draping an arm over Felwinter’s chest. The other man’s mouth opened and closed again. “I have business,” he started, “In Haafingar. Concerning...the Thalmor.”

Moth brought the hand across his chest up to his head, rolling the shell of his ear between his fingers. Felwinter let him this time. “Stakes are high?”

“They always are but…” he paused, staring into the ceiling, “I told you about that girl in Whiterun, right? Lucia. My…” Moth could almost hear the smile start to slip into his voice. “My daughter.”

He had. The sobbing little girl lost in the woods between Whiterun and Riverwood, being tracked by a trio of hungry wolves. After dispatching the beasts, he told Moth how it took half an hour and almost half his supply of food, thrown from a distance because the girl would begin crying again whenever he got too close, to so much as learn her name.

Then after she finished the other half of his rations, he learned that her mother died recently and that her aunt and uncle kicked her from the farm after they arrived to take it over. She had been wandering the woods, lost and alone ever since until Felwinter found her, starving and hunted.

He saw her safely to Whiterun and left her with the Jarl while he attended to business out in the plains. Business in the form of the very second dragon seen by anyone in the last several thousand years; an afterthought as far as he was concerned. He had killed three just walking to Markarth. But after the fight and deciding to make the trip up to High Hrothgar, he felt that he couldn’t just leave her to her own devices. She had lost her family, her home and had been left with nothing. So before leaving, Felwinter took on a multitude of different jobs, ranging from clearing out bandit camps to slaying problem giants and in the end, earned enough coin to rent a room and two meals a day at the town inn for several weeks. It’s what he had been doing for several months at a time until he had saved enough to buy a house and adopted her officially. She had begun calling him her father long before and to come to that from being too afraid to let Felwinter near her just gave credence to the kind of man he was.

“I’m worried,” he went on. “I’m going deep into enemy territory. If something happens to me, I don’t know what will happen to her.”

“I’m surprised,” Moth responded. He was, genuinely. “All your talk of fighting dragons and stopping out of control magic that could end the world, could’ve sworn nothing scared you.”

Felwinter kept his eyes on the ceiling but Moth didn’t miss the little quirk in the corner of his mouth. “I’m scared of leaving her alone again,” he said. He turned his head slightly, his gaze on Moth. “I was hoping you’d meet her at some point.”

“You were?” Moth propped himself up on an elbow. “Never said a thing about it.”

He just shrugged. “Another thing to feel bad about. Dividing my time between here and Whiterun.”

“Divide your time? I always thought you had business here.”

You’re my business here.”

Moth blinked. He pulled his arm out from under himself, letting himself gently back down to his back. “I...didn’t realize.”

Felwinter’s eyes flicked over to him and back to the ceiling. “I understand if you don’t feel the same.” There was both truth and tightness in the way he said that.

“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t.”

Felwinter turned to him again. Moth simply held his gaze, knowing his face was being searched. For what, he couldn’t guess. Maybe Felwinter thought he was joking or that he only said this for his benefit. But it wasn’t joking nor was it pity; it was an admittance. To Felwinter and finally to himself. That the man had become a facet in his life, his routine. As in place as his morning exercises, his small break at midday for food or even Thongvor’s complaining. It was supposed to feel different. It was supposed to scare him. It always has.


“Didn’t realize?” A deep chuckle rumbled in his throat, only growing when Felwinter shoved him away. Moth only moved closer, raising his hand and placing it over Felwinter’s heart. He wasn’t pushed away this time. Felwinter took his hand and used it to pull him into an embrace, his body warming Moth in ways magically sustained fire did not. “How long will this job take? Do you know?”

“A week at most.” Moth felt fingers slip into and start playing with his hair, pulling a pleased rumble from deep inside his chest.

“When you finish,” Moth said, “Return to Markarth. I will go with you to Whiterun.”

The fingers stopped. “You...really?”

A barking laugh erupted from Moth’s throat. The way he said it, like an ecstatic child, complete with the voice crack and wide, glimmering brown eyes. “Yes, Drakon. Really. What does she know of me?”

“Not too much. Just that you live in Markarth. And that you’re an Orsimer, a blacksmith, a former Legionnaire, that you have an older twin sister, that you rarely smile but that it doesn’t mean you’re angry. You also have these bright hazel eyes that are almost golden, that you prefer venison to chicken or pheasant and that your favorite weapons are ones that require more raw strength than finesse so hammers and axes. Usually, at this point, she starts asking if I could go back to telling her the bedtime story I promised I would and Lydia yells at me from her bedroom for being too loud.”

“Not that much, huh?”

“It’s almost like you don’t exist.” Felwinter smiled, genuinely this time. That bright, toothy grin that already had Moth’s thoughts turning to how long he could keep Felwinter in this bed the coming morning.

Moth didn’t know the time of night or if it was early morning, only that it was still dark when he found himself awake. The buildings in Markarth made it nearly impossible to figure out the time of day from the inside but the isolation had a bright side. It was so easy to block out the rest of the world and just focus on yourself.

At the moment, Moth did not have that ability on account of the sabercat that was roaring in his ear. They’ve slept together before but he never knew that the man snored. With the force of it and how lightly Moth tends to sleep, he had trouble believing that this was simply the first time he’s heard it. He began to realize it was because he never did. This was the first time Felwinter had taken to snoring around him.

Moth turned to take in the man’s face, mouth slightly ajar, a bit of drool leaking from the side, Moth couldn’t find it anything else but endearing. Watching him like this, sleeping without a care in the world when just earlier, he was too riddled with his own anxieties to look Moth in the eyes stirred something within him; a tightening, deep inside his chest, his belly.

He wanted to say it was fondness and maybe it was, but calling it that now felt too much like another understatement. He wanted to call it something but his mind only drew blank after blank.

When a person’s most vulnerable, most relaxed, most open state of being makes itself known around you, without any of their input or control, what did it mean?

And when calling what you had with that person “more” ceases to frighten you but now only makes you feel light and free and full to bursting, what would someone call that?

Chapter Text

Redundant though it may be, it was the times you felt most alive that make life worth living. Finding your passion, that craft you just know you were meant for and dedicating yourself to it, there was really and truly nothing like it in the world. The wilds were where Anoriath felt most alive. Low in the tall grass, haunches nearly burning from the effort, he reveled in how silent his steps were, stalking prey that wouldn’t know where he was until his arrow was lodged in their throat. That stall in the town center was a prison. A necessity, one he gladly took on to support himself and his brother but a prison all the same. He was grateful for every minute he could spend out here and away from there.

If only his brother were here with him. For all Elrindir’s hounding about their market stall, he undeniably loved being out in the wilds as much as Anoriath did. He was just the one of them with his head less often in the clouds. If only the idiot hadn’t injured himself while drinking last night. A sprained ankle; nothing serious but the fields were among the last places he needed to be. It was someone else who brought him home. The Dragonborn, Felwinter. Stuck around, made sure everything was okay and when Anoriath bemoaned the hunting trip that he would have to now partake in alone or cancel, Felwinter quickly offered to take his place. He was acting oddly guilty and overly eager about the whole thing but there was no way in Oblivion Anoriath was going to tell him no.

So here they were, deep in the plains, far from Whiterun and close to Rorikstead. From some distance behind him, Felwinter said something. Hissed more than said, really. Anoriath had barely heard it and whatever he did catch sounded like utter nonsense but the force of it was strangely palpable. The words hung in the air and he felt them deep in his core, enough to make the hairs on his arms rise up.

He turned back to look at the man and Felwinter wordlessly gestures ahead, with three fingers, then spread his arms outwards and held up his pointer.

Three, directly ahead. A single big one, a buck probably. Sure enough, what looked like tree branches leaned over the side. It was slight movement but too fluid and too animated to be just branches moving with the wind. Horns on a head. He had to ask Felwinter how in the world he saw all of that through the thick grass. Later; now was the good part.

Anoriath kept his eyes on the horns as he nocked the arrow in his bow, using them to guess the location of the head and from that, the neck and body.

Breathe in. Hold it.

He lifted the bow and drew it back, the strength of the weapon challenging the muscles of his back and arm. Still, he kept steady, years of usage keeping his arms from trembling and throwing off his aim.

Exhale and

He paused. Something was wrong. It just suddenly became very hot. Anoriath tore his eyes from his target and looked up to see a bright light in the sky directly over his head, singing his neck and outshining even the midday sun.

Except it was falling.

Anoriath was tackled to the side, his assailant grabbing hold and rolling with him. Half a heartbeat later, the falling light smashed into the ground where he had been standing with a resounding crash, leaving an ashen black crater in its wake.

A roll of thunder echoed off into the distance. The clouds split open and a monster drops from them, letting out a roar that could shake the leaves from trees. The deer had long since bolted. Felwinter was yanking him to his feet, pulling on his arm and suddenly, Anoriath was running, barely registering what was happening.

The man tossed him into a small cave and threw himself in just as another blast of fire hit the ground. The elf had never seen a dragon before. Most haven’t. Not this Alduin figure everyone was talking about and not the one that attacked the guard tower some months ago. But he had heard plenty of stories from the survivors and eyewitnesses and he had to say, “massive”, “ferocious” and “terrifying” did not even begin to adequately describe the great beast.

Now the full realization was hitting him and gods, was it hitting him hard. His hands were tight around the wooden longbow; they were quaking. And yet, he wanted to laugh. Barely a minute ago, he was the predator, reveling in his skill, his power. Now he was prey, shaking in his boots. As meek and mind-numbingly terrified as a rabbit caught in a snare. Oh, the gods and their fucking sense of humor.

Anoriath was at a loss of what to do. What options did they even have? They try to make a break for it and they’d just get run down. Fight it, with no armor or capable weapons and they’d just get ripped to pieces. His breathing became shallower, his mind shooting down each and every solution as fast as he could come up with them. The bow slipped from his fingers and clattered to the ground.

Felwinter had his back to Anoriath, watching the dragon circle their hiding spot. He had his belt straps in his hand, unfastening and refastening them a bit tighter. For a moment, the elf’s sheer panic of encroaching, certain death was replaced with confusion. The man’s shoulders were tight but his breathing was deep and focused. He didn’t look afraid at all. “Can’t have my pants falling down again like last time,” Anoriath heard him say, yelling over the roaring to be heard. No fear in his voice either. Just calm with a hint of amusement.

When Anoriath didn’t respond, Felwinter turned. He took a good look at the elf and sobered up quickly. “Hey, hey, listen to me.” He dropped to one knee, grabbing his shoulders and bringing him close. “We’re going to be fine. We’re going to get out of this.”

Anoriath found his voice. “How?”

“We’re going to kill it.” The fear was still gone. This man was completely serious.

“K... kill ?”


“Kill a dragon?!”


The dragon roared, shaking loose flecks of stone from the cave ceiling above them. “I’ve never killed a dragon!”

“First time for everything.” Felwinter brought up a glowing palm over him and then closed it. Instantly, Anoriath could feel his skin tighten, as if he had put on extra clothing. “Armor spell,” Felwinter explained, casting one on himself as well. “I’ll face it head on, draw its attention. You’ll stay right here and pelt it with arrows. Stay calm, keep clear and please, please ...don’t hit me.”

He clapped the stunned Bosmer on the shoulder and went sprinting out of the cave before Anoriath could even begin to protest. In one hand, a shimmering blue sword manifested out of thin air. From the other, he launched out a large spear of ice, catching one of the dragon’s feet and its attention. The beast ducked its head and dipped, Felwinter just barely managing to avoid being snapped in half by a gnashing maw. It landed on the ground, each step rattling Anoriath’s vision, even from a distance.

Felwinter was... stupid . Extraordinarily stupid . He was brave, intelligent, clever but here he was, fighting a dragon with nothing but a magical sword and the clothes on his back, some parts already blackened by blasts of fire just narrowly avoided out of sheer luck. Luck always ran out. Felwinter was going to misstep at some point or his wards and defenses would disappear at the most inopportune moment. And all Anoriath would be able to say at his funeral, among his Companions and Harbinger, to his housecarl, to the now twice orphaned, twice fatherless Imperial girl was that while Felwinter fought for both their sakes, he hid and put all his energy into not soiling himself.

That wouldn’t do at all.

Anoriath bent down to one knee again and picked up his bow. He did not rise. Instead, he kept the knee, nocked an arrow and closed his eyes.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

The shaking earth seemed so much louder and more forceful now with his sight gone. He pushed past it, forced the fear and anxiety out of his body with each breath of air.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Anoriath opened his eyes. Everything seemed to fall away. The only thing that remained was his target.

Breathe in. Hold it…

He lifted the bow and drew it back as far as he could. Steady arms, no trembling.

He was not the prey here. Nothing has changed.

Exhale. Release.

The dragon swung around to face his direction, the distinct shape of a feathered arrow shaft sticking out of its neck. To call them beasts was not entirely accurate. They were intelligent. They could speak, they could think. So when Anoriath looked into its eye and saw rage, he knew it wasn’t the rage of an animal, of a cave bear or a sabercat preparing to fight off a stranger who had gotten too close. This was the rage of the slighted, this was indignation fueling murderous intent.

And to his surprise, the fear never returned. If anything, the look in its eyes brought on the opposite. Now he understood why Felwinter was smiling, yelling, seemingly having the time of his life.

Anoriath reached into his quiver and drew two more arrows, nocking both. The eyes were still on him. As good a target as any.

He’d give this bastard something to be indignant about.

Anoriath’s brown fingers were red and raw. His supply of arrows was quickly running low and he was regretting not putting more effort into learning that Bound Bow spell his brother always spoke about.

The dragon was bleeding. Alongside Anoriath’s arrows, Felwinter’s magic had carved wound after wound into its scaly body, some deep enough to draw blood and even the ones that didn’t still managed to cause the monster a measure of pain. It rarely took off into the air, resigning itself to leaping and bounding in order to throw off Felwinter’s aim and maybe even get the drop on the man.

The dragon leapt again, over Felwinter’s head and in Anoriath’s direction this time. The mistake Anoriath knew would eventually be made happened. A claw on its great foot rammed into Felwinter’s back, knocking him down hard onto his front. Whether or not the dragon did that intentionally, it didn’t matter, especially not to it. It was already turned around again, bearing down on Felwinter as he tried to get to his feet.

Anoriath was out of cover in an instant. With his bow and empty quiver left behind, dagger raised high and his common sense screaming at him to get back to safety, the Bosmer ran into the fray as hard and as fast as he could. A shadow passed over his head and he instinctively ducked, just barely managing to avoid its spiked, swinging tail. The dragon’s head twitched and suddenly spun around, the words that Anoriath had quickly learned would result ‘fire’ already echoing into the air.

Those words and the resulting blast turned upwards, the dragon throwing back its head and screaming when Anoriath managed to jam the dagger into the flesh of its eye, reeling back just before he could be coated in a fountain of steaming blood. Felwinter was already up and moving again. A quick snap of magic brought two of those blue Bound Swords to his hands and plunging them into the meat of the dragon’s leg.

The dragon used its wing to try and shove Felwinter, crawling away with its remaining leg, the other rendered almost useless. Felwinter ripped out the blades, earning another scream and made a mad dash for its head. The dragon twisted its head, hoping just one more time to blast the Dragonborn to pieces with its fire. But Felwinter spoke first. Words of power similar to the dragon’s but different all the same, sent a blastwave of force that Anoriath could feel even from the distance he had put between himself and the fray. The wave sent the dragon’s head snapping back, pushing the curve of its neck closer to Felwinter, who without hesitation, plunged his blades in.

The dragon wailed again, rising up on its hind legs and pathetically flapping its wings a few more times before they slowed to a stop. The great monster pitched forward and landed hard, its dead weight shaking and cracking the ground beneath it.

It takes a few seconds for reality to set in. A few seconds of watching the body, searching for any signs of life; movement, breathing, even the slightest twitch of muscle to tell Anoriath that the fight wasn’t actually over. None showed and finally, his trembling legs gave out on him. He slid to the ground. It was dead...the dragon was dead.

He killed a fucking dragon.

The sound of booted footsteps and clanking steel reached his ears. In the heat of things, Anoriath had forgotten how close they were to Rorikstead. He turned to see yellow garb of guardsmen, running towards them and prepared for what would have been the fight of their lives. He chuckled tiredly when they skid to a stop, some bumping into the men in front of them. The unhelmeted ones held such a look of sheer disbelief across their sweat-streaked faces that Anoriath, still on his knees, could only laugh again. “Welcome gentleman,” he called out, his voice sounding both exhausted and overly sharp, “Sorry to say but it seems like you missed all the fun.”

Felwinter, who had planted his ass atop the dragon’s head, bounced to his feet. “Now, now. There’s still a little bit of fun left.”

Anoriath moaned, “I swear to each and every god, if that thing is still alive…”

Felwinter smiled sharply, his gaze on the elf and the company of guardsmen slowly, cautiously drawing forward. The low boom of thunder drew all eyes from Felwinter back to the dragon. The corpse began to glow, brilliant even in the clear sky and bright sun. Something akin to ethereal fire began manifesting on the skin, covering its body until the entirety of the corpse was set ablaze. And their Felwinter stood, atop of its head, the flames not harming him in the slightest. Anoriath’s jaw slowly opened as what he could only describe to be the dragon’s very essence seemed to flow out of its body and plunge into Felwinter.

The Dragonborn was rocked by the sheer force of it, staggering backwards but maintaining his balance. The power swirled around him, punching into his skin and burying itself into Felwinter’s very core. Soon, it stopped. There is nothing left of their winged assailant but bones and some shed scales. Anoriath gets back to his feet. Felwinter is hunched over, his face aimed at the ground, his shoulders heaving hard, earning the Bosmer’s concern. He starts towards him, picking up his pace in case the man fell forward and needed to be caught.

Felwinter didn’t need to be caught. He didn’t need help at all. Without warning, the Dragonborn threw back his head and Shouted, sending a blast of fire from his maw high into the air and ending it with a whooping cheer and earning the same in return from the guardsman.

Anoriath breathed a sigh of relief and dropped back into a sitting position in the soft, burnt dirt. He stared at the inflicted cracks in the skeleton, his arrows lodged in bone, his dagger in the eye socket, now free of flesh and most of all, the man triumphantly on top of it, calling out to the guards for volunteers to drag the monster’s carcass back to Rorikstead.

All of them launched forward, tripping over themselves and each other to offer themselves up. Anoriath found himself laughing again.

Nightfall came quickly enough. The inn was packed to the brim with people celebrating the death of the dragon and the resulting safety of their little town.

Felwinter and Anoriath both agreed it would be better to remain there for the night. The mayor, in his heartfelt gratitude, offered them space in his own home but when declined, offered to pay Mralki for their stay, including bedding, food and drinks.

There were a lot of drinks. Toasts were being made back and forth in their honor; the legendary Dragonborn and his Bosmer companion who had slain one of the great sons of Akatosh himself. With the Great War, the signing of the Concordant and the subsequent civil war, Anoriath had become used to some measure of animosity from Nords. It was rare in the city of Whiterun. Even among the more brazen Stormcloak supporters, Anoriath was treated with at least the most basic of politeness and many still visited his stall and bought his goods. Even Fralia and Eorlund, who had more reason than most to distrust elves, still had a sweet, genuine smile and a terse nod of greeting for him respectively when he passed them on the streets. It was outside Whiterun that treatment had taken a turn for the negative. He rarely left Whiterun but it was nice to know he could come to Rorikstead and not have to deal with eyes burning holes into his back everywhere he went.

Anoriath, still buzzing with energy, still high on the fight and the victory sat off to the side, slowly sipping from the cup that some random Nordic guardsman had thrust into his hands and clapped his own against while watching the growing crowd. They were surrounding Felwinter, who was regaling them with the full details of their battle with the great monster. The way he just drew and held their attention, Anoriath was almost certain that most of them hadn’t blinked in at least the last several minutes.

He was starting to realize something. He has seen Felwinter before, ever since the first day he arrived, in fact, and has even talked with him. But he has never taken a good, hard look at the man. It was strange because he was rather hard to miss. He was looking now and the first thing he realized was that Felwinter was big. Tall, sure; standing higher than Farkas, Vilkas or Hrongar and just absolutely towering over the likes of Anoriath.

But then there was the rest of him, all in proportion. Large hands, wide shoulders, broad chest, broad everything. The buzzing only became worse as his eyes roved over the man’s body. The way the cloth of his pants stretched to contain larger thighs, the shirt sweat-plastered over his stomach and chest. It reminded him of Ulfberth, a man whose figure and size had caught Anoriath’s eyes more than once. The Nord was also hard to miss, given how well he fit that name of his. A bad thing to think about, all things considered, because now he was thinking of the two of them together. All that muscle and strength.

Did they even make beds that supported that kind of weight? They could use his if they let him watch.

Anoriath groaned into his drink, pinching the bridge of his nose. Bad, bad train of thoughts. At least for right now. Free game when he gets some alone time. He finished out his cup and turned his attention back to the crowd, to Felwinter having just finished and accepting even more toasts and cheers on his way to the bar. The way he was smiling and looking at people was rather odd though. Lips spread tight, as if he were baring fangs. Eyes wide open and pupils shrunken in a way that could not be normal. He wasn’t blinking either. Maybe it was a Redguard thing. Or Breton. But he’s met plenty of both and this was still rather new to him.

The dragon. Right before Anoriath ruined its eye, it had that same look.

Overall, the man looked as wired as him, as if he had taken a crate of stamina potions and injected them into his veins one by one.

Felwinter walked his way over to the bar and ordered some kind of liquor. He held up two big ( stop that ) fingers and the server handed him two glasses. He walked back through the crowd and made his way to way Anoriath was sitting. Anoriath found himself shifting uncomfortably, pushing his pelvis further under the table. The bottle clacked loudly when he set it down with a bit too much force. “Clarify something for me,” the Dragonborn started, “Did you or did you not help me fight that dragon?”

Anoriath chuckled. “I wouldn’t call it helping…”

“You mean it was someone else entirely who ran up and stabbed it in the eye?” Sharp teeth pulled the cork out and let it roll across the table.

“I…no. That was me.”

“So then why,” he filled the first cup, “Am I the only one…” he filled the second, “Telling this story?” He pushed a glass towards him, clanking his own against it when Anoriath took and raised it up.

“I guess you’re just the better storyteller.” He hated how stiff his voice sounded and he was sure Felwinter was noticing.

If he did, he made no indication. “I won’t argue with that.” He throws his drink back, swallowing down the burning amber liquid before Anoriath could even take a sip. Shaking his head and rolling his shoulders, Felwinter shook out the burning. Then without warning, he grabbed the bottle by the neck, put it to his lips and just began to drain it. Some of it dripped from the side of his mouth, rolling down the flexing, muscular neck and getting lost into the bit of black, curly hair poking over the neck of his shirt. Anoriath very nearly moaned aloud.

He pulled the half-empty bottle back and set it down, again with too much force. “I’ve been fucking tight all day and that…” he paused to let out a dull burp, “Sort of helped.”

“Wouldn’t sleep be better?”

“Oh, I’m not gonna be able to sleep for at least another few days.” He let out a small, giddy laugh, “Oh, Lydia is going to get so sick of me.”

“I get what you mean.” Anoriath took a sip of his drink. “Does it always feel like this after you kill and...absorb a dragon?”

Felwinter took a flask from a pouch on his hip and opened the top. “Depends on the dragon and how strong it is. This one was pretty damn strong.” He elbowed Anoriath gently before he started to fill the flask with the remaining liquor. “You handled yourself well today. Wouldn’t have blamed you at all if you decided to stay out of it.”

“Well, you were fighting it.”

“I am built to fight those things,” he countered, “You? You just have a spine of steel.” He clapped the blushing Bosmer on the shoulder again, then gestured around the inn. “If the excess energy is bothering you, I’m sure you can find someone to work it all of with.”

Anoriath twisted, running his eyes over the crowds of people. “What makes you think anyone here would be willing?”

The man suddenly threw his arm around Anoriath’s shoulder and leaned closer, pressing into him. The elf’s body stiffened. It was one thing to watch all that bulk from afar or even have it near and its heat radiating into you but to have it pressed against your shoulder? “Anoriath, after the way you helped take down that monster, you could walk up to the biggest or bustiest Nord in this inn right now, invite them upstairs and they will fall over themselves trying to get there before you do, alright? I promise you that .”

“Does that include you?” The words were flying from his mouth before he could even register that he was talking. When he finally did, Felwinter had already gone from confusion, to shock, to outright laughter.

“Well, answer something for me first.” He leaned back a little, elbow propped up on the table and eyes flitting back and forth, taking in Anoriath’s face. “In this hypothetical, am I the biggest or the bustiest?”

Anoriath’s eyes instinctively fell down to the man’s chest and Felwinter just crowed at him again. He grabbed the neck of the bottle and caught one of the patrons passing by, handing the drink off and letting them go on their way. Then in one smooth motion, he slipped off his stool. “I apologize in advance,” he said, “There may not be as much falling over myself involved.”

He was moving away from the table as he was talking. When he did, his boot caught around the leg of the stool and he had to latch onto the table to keep from plummeting to the floor and taking the chair with him. As soon as he stabilized himself, he turned his head back to Anoriath, bearing the widest and most comical grin he had ever seen on another person. Anoriath, who had been trying to finish his drink, sprayed half of it back into his cup and let out a sharp peal of laughter before coughing at the other half of his drink still running down his throat.

Later down the line, Anoriath would probably chastise himself for his haste and over excitement. He would blame it on the drink or the fact that he hasn’t had any form of intimacy in quite a while but it would all just be excuses. None of which there were for practically launching himself at the Dragonborn before the man could even get the door locked.

At least his enthusiasm was matched. Felwinter caught him just as he jumped and fell back against the wooden wall. A few patrons had eyes on them as they had made their way up to their room. He was certain a few of those same people had heard the noise and used it to confirm their suspicions. Anoriath couldn’t bring himself to care any less. It was the opposite, in fact. The thought of them knowing, wondering what they were imagining, only spurred him on.

Felwinter pushed off the wall, maintaining his balance with Anoriath held securely in his arms, legs around his waist. “And I thought I was impatient.” Anoriath didn’t bother with a comeback. He leaned down and kissed him, opening his mouth when Felwinter’s wide tongue immediately tried to push its way in. He set the Mer down, hands leaving his thighs and moving to grab two handfuls of ass.

It was exhilarating how quickly the man took command. Even more so that Anoriath was so willing to let him do so. Anoriath’s hands are too busy roaming everywhere, squeezing shoulders, biceps, thighs, the man’s considerable ass. Now that? That kept his attention. So much so that he drew his hands to the front to tear at the man’s tight belt, yanking it apart so he could slip the seat of his pants down and squeeze and knead at the skin underneath.

“I’m too competitive for this.” Felwinter’s arms went down to his thighs and lifted Anoriath up again, pulling a surprised yelp from the other man. Then with no prior warning, Felwinter tossed him backwards through the air. The landing, even on the soft bed, still managed to knock the wind out of him. Felwinter didn’t even give him the chance to recover, clambering on top of the bed and pushing himself between Anoriath’s spread legs. Large hands entered his head and tugged apart the string that kept it together. Felwinter hummed approvingly as red hair fell and framed Anoriath’s face. “Shame you don’t wear it down more often.”

“Got sick of being blinded every time the wind decided to blow.” Felwinter chuckled at that and started tugging at the bottom of his shirt, pulling it out of his pants and drawing it over his head. He pushed himself closer, curling inwards to get his mouth on his torso, tugging at the fastenings of his pants in the meanwhile. He pulled away when he finally got them apart, lifting Anoriath’s hips so he could tug them down and off.

If Anoriath was less buzzed, he’d actually feel a slight tinge of bashfulness at the way his cock practically sprung upwards, full and at attention. “And just how long have you been sporting that?” Felwinter asked. He palmed him so gently, it made Anoriath’s hips twitch, earning himself another teasing grin. “Someone’s a bit too excited.”

“Is it just me?”

Felwinter’s hand went do to himself, palming and outlining his own member. Everything in proportion. “What do you think?” He growled in a way that was too reminiscent of that dragon.

“I think you’re wearing too many damn clothes.” When Felwinter reached for the sleeve of his shirt to yank it off, Anoriath grabbed his hand. “Slowly,” he murmured, laying back down, “I want to enjoy.”

A half-assed measure to direct the flow of things, take back some control. It was hard to assert yourself as the dominating one when your taller, broader partner had your legs wrapped tightly around his waist. Still, Felwinter seemed perfectly happy to oblige, moving his hands down to the bottom edge of his shirt and drawing it up, baring his stomach to the soft candlelight. He paused, letting Anoriath’s eyes take him in for a few more seconds before divesting himself of the thing entirely.

Anoriath lifted himself up, mouthing at the man’s stomach, the muscles of his chest. And he wasn’t gentle with it. Felwinter’s hand came up to the back of his head, fingers digging into his hair to press his face further in. He soon let Anoriath pull away and bent over to kiss him. Anoriath’s hands busied themselves with Felwinter’s pants, pushing them down and pulling away so Felwinter could take them off entirely. Felwinter took them both in hand and the sheer heat of him nearly pushed Anoriath over the edge, never mind the slow, firm stroking. His hips rolled upwards and Felwinter pushed his own down to meet them.

Felwinter removed his hands from their members. He wrapped one around Anoriath’s waist, leaning down to kiss him deeply and briefly before bracing the other hand beside his head and grinding deeply into him. There were no words after that, just harsh breathing and deep moans mixing with the creak of the rocking bed. Felwinter’s heavy frame and rolling hips kept Anoriath pinned down and he relished just how much of an effort it took just to match the Dragonborn’s movements.

It was never meant to be a long drawn out thing and to be quite honest, Anoriath didn’t want it to be. That didn’t mean he saw it coming. Felwinter was relentless with it, riding Anoriath through his orgasm so deeply, all the Bosmer could bring himself to do was lay there and just let himself be swept away. Felwinter leaned down to kiss him again, swallowing the deep, small sounds that were drifting from his open mouth. Felwinter’s finish was dramatic but no less enticing. He rose up and took himself in hand. His mouth open, his pupils shrunken and muscles flexed tight, a few brutal tugs on himself had him spilling over Anoriath’s chest.

Felwinter let out a low laugh, his shoulders sagging. “Dragons, right?”

Anoriath was still getting his breathing in order. “Does this happen every time?”

“I fucking wish!” Felwinter flopped down beside him with a groan. “I’ve got someone but he’d just get even more tired of me if I showed up at his doorstep after every dragon battle.”

“Well, a man can only deal with so much soreness. I wouldn’t blame him.” It sounded like a complaint but was the farthest thing from.

Felwinter scoffed and turned over onto his stomach with an air of indignation. “This is what I get for sleeping with you old men,” he muttered into the pillow, cackling when Anoriath elbowed him in the ribs.

He vaguely remembered an Orc walking around Whiterun in Felwinter’s and Lucia’s company some weeks ago. Shorter than Felwinter, still taller than Anoriath. And broader. A soldier’s stature with a soldier’s scars and a soldier’s scowl that melted away any and every time Felwinter or the little girl running around their feet spoke to him. Anoriath couldn't explain his choices of 'old men' but he could tell, that relationship was one that required little explanation, least of all from him.  

Chapter Text

Right, so how did this whole thing happen?”

Get your tree trunk of a leg off my stomach. And which thing? That Imperial girl with the two guys after her in Riverwood or-”

“You already told that one. You gave her the letter and later that night, she sucked you off behind her brother’s shop. I meant the waitress in Falkreath.”

“She called me handsome. To be quite honest, it’s all I really need.”

“Someone calls you pretty and you toss your pants? Just like that?”

“You sound surprised.”

“You are incapable of surprising me at this point.”

“I’m taking that as a challenge. And again, the leg.”

“I rarely call you pretty. And certainly not when this whole thing started.”

“You’ve torn through three of my shirts trying to get me out of them. Those count.”

“I did not ‘tear’.”

“They were in pieces, Moth.”

“You said you didn’t mind.”

“But not that I wouldn’t hold it against you.”

“Whatever. Just get on with the story.”

“Move your godsforsaken leg first so I can breathe…thank you.”

“Narri, dear?”

“Hmm? Yes, mum?”

Valga jerked her chin towards the back of her inn. “Big man over here. Redguard. He’s been eyeing you up all night. Should I be concerned?”

“Oh, him?” She took the tray of drinks her boss held out for her. “He’s harmless.”

Valga’s eye immediately shifted to the imposing blade leaning against the wall next to him. An eyebrow raised. “Valga, I promise. He’s been nothing but respectful all night.”

“Has he now?”

“Aye. The men in this town could use a lesson from him.” As if on cue, her name was hollered from across the inn. By someone with little manners and even less consideration for other people, no doubt. “Anyway, he’s tipped well enough and he’s even told me about the work he does for the Winterhold College.”

Valga’s gaze became less and less suspicious. “He’s a mage? Never would have guessed.”

“Also, his eyes have also gone to my chest more times in the last hour than I have fingers but he tries his best to hide it.”

“I’ve yet to meet a man who was good at hiding it, Narri and I’ve yet to meet a man who didn’t think he was,” Valga said, earning herself a small laugh. She kept her eyes on Narri’s though, watching them flick over to the Redguard’s corner more than once.

“He’s handsome, mum. So it’s alright.”

“You say that about every big-shouldered man who walks in here.”

“And I have yet to be wrong.” She took off with a wink, making her rounds through the inn, dropping off mead, ale and food and making sure keep the first two out of hands of those clearly over their limit.

(“Wait, you could hear all this?”)

(“I may or may not have been eavesdropping.”)

“Narri!” Dengeir yelled again as she drew close. He snatched a tankard off her tray before she could hand it to him. “Your mead tastes like water and the meat has gone off."

"The mead is same as it ever was and the meat is fresh,” she pointed out simply, fully aware that she was serving him his third cup and would be hassled for a fourth before she even got to the next customer. “Maybe your sense of taste has ‘gone off.’”

He drained the tankard and wiped away amber froth. "The impertinence! You never would have talked to me like that when I was Jarl."

She took back the cup. “We had this same argument every week, even when you were Jarl."

“Whatever. Just bring me another one. And be quick-” The next one was in his face before he could finish. He was becoming predictable.

“Your last one,” she told him.

“I’ll be the judge of that, girl.”

“No, your nephew will when he has to come and retrieve you for the umpteenth time.”

Dengeir’s eyes widened. “You wouldn’t dare.”

“Try me, old man.” She took off before his outraged sputtering could become coherent again. By the time she got to her last patron, the smile was back on her face. “Apologies, sir.”

The man, the Redguard, lifted his eyes from his book. “It’s no trouble. Really.”

“Interesting book?”

“Ah, not really.” He waves the old thing, “Researching something for the College. Artifact we found in a crypt.”

Dengeir called out her name, earning a shush from Valga. The stranger jerked his chin towards him. “You want to go take care of that?”

“He’s cut off and he knows it. Besides, this conversation about magical artifacts that I have no knowledge of whatsoever is by far more interesting.”

“Is that so?”

“Mostly because of the present company.”

“I’m inclined to agree.” The man moved back his chair and rose to his full ( wow ) height. He put one armored hand to his chest and bowed slightly at the waist. “Felwinter. May I have the honor of knowing your name?”

( “You already know her name. You may or may not have been eavesdropping.”)

(“The trick to eavesdropping or not eavesdropping is not letting people know you were eavesdropping…or weren’t. Move your leg.”)

“Narri.” She curtsied slightly, “Don’t get much bowing ‘round these parts.”

“It’s customary where I’m from.” Felwinter lowered back down to his seat.

“Must get tiring, having to be so polite all the time.”

“Oh, I can be rough,” he said. She didn’t miss how his posture had hanged. Legs spread wide, arms more open and presented towards her. “Just in the right situations and with…expressed permission.”

As she said before, he was handsome. And she’d be lying to herself if she said she wasn’t looking at him half as much as he was looking at her, so his boldness was okay. But there was boldness and then there was an outright invitation. She watched as he lifted his tankard and drained it. “I’d offer to buy you a drink, Narri but you do seem pretty busy,” he said, gesturing to the other patrons with the cup.

“That is true, unfortunately. No drinks while working.” She took the cup when offered and after a second of deliberation, said, “If the offer still stands, I am free in about an hour.”

“It does, as a matter of fact.” Felwinter’s eyes moved away from her own. He didn’t seem the bashful type. Respect, maybe. “But I will be moving up to my room in a short while. Finish my work there.”

“Then it’s settled.” His eyes returned to her’s and the ever-present grin on his lips became a touch cockier. She leaned in to get his emptied cup and noticed his eyes dropping again.

Narri started to feel the first bits of trepidation in her chest the second her foot touched down on the last step at the top of the stairs. Charming words, respectful demeanor or not, she did not know this man. Admittedly, his being a mage made her just a bit more nervous.

The stairs were sturdy but not all that quiet. She’d be surprised if he didn’t hear her come up them. Should the worst happen, Valga was just down the stairs and if Narri had a septim for every hand that woman had threatened to saw off for touching her waitress…

Narri knocked. A beat passed and then a low voice from behind it told her that it was open. Felwinter sat at the table close to the bed, doing as he said he would be. She could hear the sounds of his writing grow just slightly faster. Other than that, he seemed relaxed and Narri could feel her own apprehension start to fade. “You staying?” He asked, pausing in his writing and turning one eye onto her. She nodded wordlessly and he smiled. “Lock the door.”

She turned to obey, noticing his armor and weapon stashed in the corner next to it. Felwinter wore nothing but a shirt and pants, rolled up to his knees, his boots off at the corner of the desk.

He stood up with the roll of paper he had been writing on, shaking it out to dry the ink faster.

“Anything you want me to do? Or not do?” He asked when she had made her way across the room to stop at his back.

“I’ll tell you if you do something I don’t like,” she says, sitting down at the edge of his bed.

“Good, good.” Felwinter brought his hands over his head and stretched with a loud groan. The movement hiked the thin piece of clothing covering his torso up the length of his back just a bit to draw her eyes to exposed skin and then a little bit lower. “You know I charge for this kind of show,” he said.

“That’s fair. My payment can be all the free looks I let you steal of my chest,” she shot back, feeling the last of her apprehension drain away.

His head swiveled around. “You...noticed that?”

“I’ve yet to meet a man who was good at hiding it.” She had never seen one man pull off the guilty dog look so well as him. “But you’re handsome, so it’s okay.”

“Handsome, huh?” He drew closer, leaned down and kissed her. She immediately pressed into it, pushing against him until he drew back to let her stand. Felwinter was as warm as a bonfire, his hands searing everywhere they roamed. Naturally, they soon drifted down towards her ass. Her fingers kneaded into his shoulders, his neck, ran over his shorn scalp while his own remained stuck to her rear.

He broke the kiss and just before she could comment on his stillness, his face went to her neck. A full pair of lips latched onto one small spot on her neck and sucked in. She found herself pressing into him even harder, more for the support given how weak at the knees she suddenly became. He pulled off with a pop. “Yeah, I guessed that was your spot.” His hands left her ass and went to the back of her thighs. With a heave, he lifted her up, wrapping her bare legs around his waist. “If you’re gonna be dropping to your knees, I’d rather you be in bed.”

“Are you always this much of a gentleman?” Her breathlessness took the jab out of her question. To be honest, it had been a long time since someone was so considerate to her, especially in such an intimate setting.

“Ask me again when I have your face in the pillows.” Felwinter practically dropped her on the bed, not so much as letting her go but putting her down roughly enough to make the wind fly out of her lungs. He was over her before she could recollect herself, both arms on the sides of her, caging her in. Gods, he was big. Enough of his weight was pressed into her to keep her from moving, keep her pinned but not so much that she wasn’t thoroughly enjoying it. His head dropped to her neck again, large tongue dragging a hot stripe at the same spot. The legs she still had around his waist tightened involuntarily and he pressed himself down just a little bit more, letting her feel his erection between her legs.

His head moved lower. His hands, at the same time, went to the fastenings of her clothing. He quickly and expertly pulled the tight strings apart, making her wonder just what exactly he had been thinking about when he was stealing glances at her chest.

“Finally getting to the good part, hm?” she asked, more to break the silence than anything else. Not that it was uncomfortable or even all that silent. The creak of the bed, the rustle of the sheets, the sounds Felwinter pulled from her, the sounds he made himself filled Narri’s ears, echoed around her head.

“This whole thing has been good but I’ll admit, been thinking about this all night.” His answer was muffled as he kept his face pressed to her bust. Felwinter took his sweet, agonizing time working her over. Her body was on fire, his own body heat only made things better and worse. Every drag of his tongue and lips over her flesh had her pressing upwards into him, to which he responded by bearing just a little bit more of his weight down on her. He eased himself off just a bit but only to bring his hand down and push it under her skirt, pushing aside part of her undergarments and pressing a large finger between her lips.

The moan that escaped her was higher and sharper than either of them expected. To the point where he felt compelled to pull his head away from her chest and ask, “You alright?”

He was breathing almost as hard as she was and she had barely done anything for him. “You’re wearing too many clothes,” was all Narri said. She tried to rise, help relieve himself of his shirt but a hand to her stomach kept her pressed to the bed. Felwinter grabbed the helm and pulled the garment over his head. This time, Narri forced herself to sit up, pressing her lips to the center of his wide chest. She moved up, dragging her tongue over a shoulder, his sweat-slick neck. Slowly, until her mouth was back on his.

Narri reached down and palmed him, roughly running her hand up and down the center of his pants. She kept her other hand on his shoulder; to stay balanced, to keep her lips slotted against his. Gods, just to feel the muscles underneath the skin.

Felwinter kept just as busy. His fingers were back between her legs, tracing over her lips gently before pushing two fingers past. Narri’s body jerked. “Right there,” she broke the kiss to moan out, “Right there.”

Felwinter hummed his acknowledgement. He kissed her again, keeping his two fingers right in the spot she indicated while his thumb played with her clit. The kiss didn’t last as long as the others as he pulled back to watch her face, mouth open in pleasure and dumbstruck awe. Narri had to put both hands on his shoulders just to keep from collapsing as his fingers pumped faster and faster.

She came with a shout. One that echoed across the room and maybe even out of it. Slowly, Felwinter removed his fingers and held her with both arms as she came back down.

(“Mmh, how did she sound, Fel?”)

(“Some of the prettiest sounds I’ve ever heard. I swear to you, Moth, I nearly finished in my pants just watching her.”)

When her heart rate returned to it’s normal pace and she felt that she could speak again with having her lungs give up entirely, she hooked her finger into the seat of his pants and yanked it down. “Take this damnable thing off.”

“As you wish.” He sounded so insufferably and irresistibly proud of himself. He pushed her back onto the bed and quickly rid her of her skirt and undergarments, betraying in the tiniest actions his own better hidden lack of patience. Afterwards, he fully divested himself of his pants and came back down to the bed to join her.

Felwinter cut a fine figure in his entirety. Muscled thighs propped her legs open as he rubbed the edge of his cock slowly over her center. But she was through with his infernal teasing and by the looks of it, so was he. So when her fingernails dig into the swell of his rear to bring him closer, he obeyed. Felwinter took his member in hand, lined himself up and slowly buried himself to the hilt.

“Gods above, you’re wet,” he damn near yelled. They were way too deep to bother with whispering. Holding her legs open, Felwinter rolled his hips outwards and then snapped into her, earning another unashamedly loud moan. Again, then again and again until there were no sounds but the rhythmically creaking bed, skin and wordless pleasure.

He bent over to kiss her, more with tongue than lips and she happily met in kind. He kept close when he pulled away and propped one arm above them, gripping the headboard. To be honest, she was already halfway there but the change in angle, the play and flex of muscles above her, the Divines-blessed sounds he breathed into her ear was what threw her over the edge. Her finish hit her like a giant’s club. Even breathing seemed like a chore with the way her body seized and wracked through it. A few strokes more and Felwinter was pulling out from her, finishing himself in his hand.

(“She’s on that potion, yes?”)

(“Yes, Moth. She’s on the potion.”)

(“Just wondering how many little Felwinter’s I can expect to start showing up at your door asking for money.”)

Felwinter let out a breathy laugh. “Good, right?”

Narri just hummed and he laughed again. She’d curse the smug bastard but she was still trying to get her breathing in order. Without the heat of exertion, Falkreath’s cold began to reach her. She pulled the cover up to her shoulders and burrowed in, not realizing the implication until Felwinter spoke up. “You staying?”

She silently cursed once she realized what it had looked like. Before she could answer, though, Felwinter said, “It’s okay if you want. I won’t kick you out at this time of night.” The man rolled off the bed and crossed the room to dig into a sack perched atop the dresser. He found a cloth, soaked it in a nearby bucket and quickly rubbed himself clean. “Move the covers,” he ordered, pulling on a thin pair of leggings and taking out a shirt before coming back towards her. “I apologize, it’s a bit cold.”

“Aren’t you a mage?” Narri sat up and removed the blanket.

Felwinter blinked. “I am. I am! Huh…”

“Never realized that was the sort of thing one would forget.”

“It usually isn’t,” he admitted, sheepish, endearing smile and all. “I make an effort to not use magic in...settings like this.” She could feel a small burst of warmth on her skin and when the wet cloth touched her, she shivered at the heat. Slowly, he dragged the thing over her back, her shoulders, worked her over as thoroughly as he had fucked her.

“I understand not casting major spells but something so simple…”

He didn’t respond, just smiled again; less sheepish, more somber. He continued in silence until he deemed her clean, then he tossed the cloth at his sack, raising his arms in silent cheer when the thing landed perfectly within. Felwinter offered her his shirt. Probably for warmth and though she was plenty warm already, she accepted nonetheless. He crawled over her, dropping onto the other side the bed with a grunt. Immediately, Narri put her head to his chest and arms around the rest of him because even calmed down, he was still a veritable bonfire. His chest rumbled in quiet laughter underneath her cheek and she was out like a light before he even finished.


(“Now say it.”)

(“Fuck you.”)

(“Only after you say it.”)

(You’ve proven your-”)

(“Say it, Orc!”)

(“Fine. You are the better storyteller.”)


(“You’re the better storyteller.”)

(“One more time…”)

(“Daedra take you, you smug ass.”)

(“Good enough.”)

(“It had better be.”)

(“And since your leg still keeps finding its way onto me, why don’t you come up here and wrap them around my head?”)

(“Are’re impossible!”)

(“And that’s precisely what keeps you coming back.”)

Narri fastened the last of her clothing, ensuring everything was in place and she was at least semi-presentable. It was early, barely dawn. Valga would most likely be waking herself and would need help getting everything in order so they could start the workday.

Felwinter was still asleep. She expected snoring but the big man didn’t make a sound. She thought that maybe he had actually been awake this whole time but he didn’t move an inch when she extracted herself from his arms and left the bed. Not that she wanted him to, he had earned his rest in spades. He’d be leaving as soon as he was up and awake, she’d say her goodbyes then.

She walked towards the door, keeping her steps light as to not disturb him. On her way, she passed by his pack, smiling at the memory of him throwing the washcloth into it from so far away. A glimmer caught her eye and on instinct, had her turning back. Gently, she moved the still damp thing aside and what she saw made her eyebrows rise.

An amulet of Mara, tucked away safely between books, clothing and tools. Kind and polite, yes but she never took Felwinter for a romantic. But clearly, he was and it seemed he had his eyes set on someone else. She herself wasn’t ready but she was no less happy; for this sweet man she had just met and befriended as well as the person who had his heart in their hands.

For his sake, she hoped they said yes. And the nights they had to look forward to if they did, by the Divines, she almost envied them.

Maybe one day.

Chapter Text

These kinds of mornings were his favorite. Easy on the eyes, the skin, the old, rattling bones. The sky was overcast, the air was cool instead of frigid and the only sounds were a town quietly waking up to go about it’s day. The Companions were not among them; late nights and all. Not that this was a bad thing. Beneficial, in fact. Having the training yard to himself to just sit and read or watch the skies calmed the beast inside him more than he ever thought it would and for that, he was grateful.

Kodlak Whitemane was a man who always enjoyed having something to do with his hands. At the moment, he held a whetstone in one and a slender black blade in the other. Slowly, forcefully, he dragged one over the edge of the other, movement practiced from decades of repetition. He checked the sword’s edge in the air, deemed it satisfactory and turned over to begin again.

His quiet was ended with the sound of Jorrvaskr’s door opening and closing. Footsteps slowly came up from behind him with a slight bit of hesitation, moving around but not wanting to intrude or break the Harbinger’s concentration. His focus had indeed been turned elsewhere but his hands never broke their stride, refining the edge of the blade while listening to the person behind him shift and move around. Kodlak stopped and held the blade up to the sky to check his progress. Then he asked, “Riften, correct?”

The steps stopped. Felwinter answered in a simple, quiet affirmative.

“Will you return here after?”

“To pick up Lucia, yes,” he said, “Then we’ll both be heading to Markarth to see Moth.”

The whetstone stopped. Kodlak kept his eyes straight ahead. “The Orsimer, right?”

Felwinter’s rustling paused. Then the sudden silence was ended with a scoff. “Yes, ‘the Orsimer’,” he mocked. Felwinter resumed his movements, preparing for his journey. Kodlak resumed his sharpening. “Something wrong with that, Kodlak?” He went on, “You just woke up this morning and decided you take issue with Orcs?” There was acid there. Felwinter wanted to rile a response from him.

Kodlak kept sharpening. In all his years on Nirn, he had fought beside many different people, of all races and genders and creeds. Some he had known for years, others brought into his life by circumstance or providence for a short time. For some, he had been the last hand they held, grip tight and trembling before finally going limp. Kodlak mourned the lot of them, grieved over warriors whose names he had never gotten to know as if they were one of his blood, one of his Companions. Felwinter knew this, he had heard the stories. If he wasn’t so transparent, Kodlak would have been angered by the implication. And if Kodlak didn’t love this mouthy, disrespectful welp, he wouldn’t have even bothered with a response.

“This relationship. How serious are you about it?”

“Very serious, Kodlak.”

“And how serious is Moth?”

“Moth isn’t one for trifling,” he responded, “If he’s with me, he must be.” Kodlak heard a sack drop loudly on one of the wooden tables. “Whatever you have to say, Kodlak, say it.”

As good a suggestion as any, so Kodlak did. “Moth has been stifling you, Felwinter. You and your magic.”

“When did you start caring about my magic, Kodlak? When, precisely?”

The old Nord guffawed. “Oh, I don’t, Drakon,” he said, “But I know you do.”

“It’s not as simple as you’re making it out to be. He’s had some…bad experiences.” Felwinter felt as if he was understating. It took some time, some effort but the things Moth told him about, the horrors of the war he fought as a young Orc just out of his stronghold kept even him up at night.

“I don’t doubt that, Felwinter.” Kodlak’s brought the blade in close again. “I just don’t like the thought of you being in a relationship you can’t be yourself in.”

Silence fell between them and remained for a long time. Felwinter kept up his packing, Kodlak, his sharpening. The sun had risen just a bit more though the clouds and cool air remained. The sound of metal striking metal rang out from above their heads, signaling Eorlund hard at work.

“I don’t need magic,” Felwinter said. “No matter what the others say, I’m not dependent on it.”

“Maybe. But it is important to you.” Few things put a smile on the younger man’s face as magic did. Learning, practicing, achieving, Felwinter showed an enthusiasm for the craft that would put most Nords to shame, considering how their ancestors felt about magic. “I don’t even see you practice anymore. Certainly not when he’s around.”

“I can practice at the College.”

“Felwinter Drakon, if you were to marry this man…” Felwinter’s rustling stopped. Kodlak took that for what it was. “Would you go up to Winterhold every single time you needed to practice your craft? Leave your own home and traverse the wilds? Don’t be ridiculous.” He placed the whetstone solidly on the wooden table. “You are not a Nord. You are not an Orc and you were not raised a Redguard, Felwinter. You are a Breton, you were raised a Breton. And not just any Breton but a Breton lord.” Felwinter never enjoyed being reminded of his official title but it bore reminding him. “Magic and all it entails, the good and the bad, are apart of you. They are a part of who you are and most importantly, Felwinter, it makes you happy. You say Moth is serious about this, about you. But I cannot believe it because if he was, he would want you happy.”

Kodlak got to his feet, slowly as to allow the tight muscles in his knees adequate time to catch up. He lifted the sword sheath from the table. “Love is a compromise, yes. But never at the cost of who you are. I would not ask that of you. Farkas would not ask that of you. Anyone who cares about you would not ask that you compromise who you are just to be palatable in their eyes.” He angled sword to sheath and pushed them together. “Moth needs to begin to move past his fear. For his sake and for yours, he needs to trust you.”

He turned, looking at the younger man for the first time. He remained turned away towards the Skyforge, eyes unblinking and stony-faced. Kodlak lowered his voice and quietly moved closer. “But if he finds that it is too much to ask of him, that he simply cannot separate this image of the Thalmor from the man he loves…” Felwinter’s brows tightened even further, from a sullen frown to a warning scowl, pupils shrinking and all. “Then Felwinter, he needs to let you go. You need to let him go.”

Divines, if looks could kill. Felwinter resumed his packing, practically throwing things into his pack now.

“It is none of my business-”

“And yet-”

“And yet I worry.”

The packing slowed again, his movements becoming less rough. “You do not have to worry about me,” He mumbled.

“Lad, I don’t have to do anything.” Kodlak held Felwinter’s sword ebony sword between them. A marvel of craftsmanship. If only he took better care of it.

Felwinter took the sword and clipped it to the belt of his armor. Pack tied, he lifted the solid thing up and slung it over his shoulder. Only then did he spare Kodlak a look. “Go safe, Felwinter. And think about what I said.”

No nod, no hum, Felwinter gave him no kind of acknowledgement. He just adjusted his pack, moved around Kodlak and stalked away, out of the town square, out of the city and Kodlak simply watched him go.

Felwinter remembered his first bar fight. He still bore the scars. Hammerfell, about a month after he left home. Got into it with a couple of Corsairs drunk and picking fights. He used his magic. Three fully armed men against a boy of eighteen with little to no fighting experience? Not like he had a choice. Freezing two of them in place seemed to even the odds for the first few seconds.

It took some time before he admitted to himself how much he enjoyed it. His mother’s years of teachings still rang around in his mind. That this type of behavior was beneath him.

But he enjoyed it then. And he was enjoying it now. “You tired yet, friend? I could do this all day.” Felwinter ducked backwards, just in time to feel the wind of a swinging fist against his nose. The movement almost sent him toppling into the jeering crowd of inn-goers that had gathered around them.

His opponent, a brown-skinned Imperial man, heaving, sweating, bloodied and enraged threw himself forward with a cry, hoping to knock Felwinter over before he could get his bearings again. Felwinter tucked into himself, rolled away and sprung forward once back on his feet. The two men ended up sprawled on the ground, a wooden table knocked over close to their heads.


The man spit. It was mainly blood. “Fuck you.”

“After you yield.”

The man began thrashing, trying to free his arms from underneath Felwinter’s knees but the heavy weight sitting on his torso kept him pinned. Felwinter forced the man’s head flat onto the dirty wooden floor. He raised one big fist as the final warning. The man’s eye bulged in terror and fury. “I. Said. Yield.”

Flecks of spittle flew out from the man’s mouth through Felwinter’s fingers as he struggled to breathe. He watched Felwinter in wrathful silence until Felwinter’s fist began to drop. “Alright! I yield, I yield!!!”

The fist stopped and Felwinter bent over, leaning in close so no one else would hear. “You know what you need to do.”

“Yes, yes! Just leave me alone!” Felwinter obliged, rising to his feet. Once the weight had lifted off his chest, the man gasped and coughed, curling into himself in pain. Felwinter backed away, never taking his eyes off the man until he had finally gotten to his feet and limped his way out of the Bee and Barb. The job was done, Farkas would be happy and he’d be paid upon return, as promised. Not that he was in any rush to return.

Fucking old man. It had been days since he left Whiterun and he could already feel whatever good mood he had managed to gain back slipping away.

He refused to let it. Felwinter forced the memories from his mind and turned his attention to a certain man sitting in the corner of the inn, hand to his nose and blood dripping off it. “See what happens when you try to be a hero, mustache?”

The blonde Nord’s body shook with quiet laughter. “Better me than the guards. Or Mjoll, gods forbid.”

“I’m not even gonna ask who that is.” Felwinter squat down before him and gently pushed his hand away. Felwinter’s target had a mean right hook and the Nord got hit real good after he went and put himself in between them. The nose wasn’t broken and all of the bleeding seemed superficial. Still, it was Felwinter who started the confrontation, even if he had stupidly gotten himself in the middle of it. He took one of the Nord’s arms and slung it over his shoulder. “Come on, mustache. To the table,” he said, walking him over and sitting him down in one of the chairs. Felwinter grabbed the other and moved it so they were closer. “I’d offer a potion but I never carry much and I’m fresh out.”

“So I’ve got to deal with this all night. Great.” He whistled when he sighed, telling Felwinter that something could be a bit wrong, at least more than he thought. ‘Mustache’, as Felwinter had taken to calling him, asked, “You don’t carry much? Figured you for a warrior.”

“I am. I just never really need them.”

The Nord snorted. “You that good at not getting hit? You’re as big as I am.”

Felwinter gave a quiet laugh. “I, ah, can usually take care of the problem myself.”

Mustache’s eyes focused on him, narrowing slightly before saying, “You’re a mage…”

“I...yes. How did-”

“Well, how else would one do it?” The man spoke as if he were talking to a child. “You can fix this then, can’t you?”

“I...can.” For a second, Felwinter wondered is he was losing his edge, that mustache’s injuries were far more severe than he had originally thought. The only Nords who ever showed such enthusiasm over his magic were on the brink of death; when the decision between reveling eternal glory among their ancestors in Sovngarde and continuing life had become a time-sensitive one.

Mustache was already leaning in, eyes closed, expectant. Felwinter hesitated before gently putting his fingers to the man’s nose. He repeats over and over to himself to take it slow, do nothing flashy. When he began, the only sign of his magic was a golden glow so faint, he doubts Mustache could see it through his closed eyelids. But the Nord certain felt it, if the deep rumble of contentment was anything to go by. “You’re good at this.”

“Got good practice getting hit and patching myself up again.”

One eye popped open. “Do you usually go around starting the fights like today?”

“Two times for every three. Or maybe a little higher.”

Mustache laughed again. When he went quiet, he watched Felwinter, both eyes open now. Felwinter kept his eyes on his work but that didn’t stop them from flicking up to meet his gaze every now and then. After what seemed like an agonizingly long time, Felwinter pulled his hands away. “You have my gratitude…”


“Felwinter.” He put a hand to his chest. “Balimund. Or ‘Mustache’, if you prefer. Either way, I’m grateful.”

“You can show me gratitude by buying me a drink.”

A slow smile grew on the Nord’s face. “Yeah. Yeah, I can do that.”

Felwinter lost track of how long he and Balimund had been at their own little table in the corner of the inn. Just that he noticed how cool the air had suddenly become.

They had spent the entire time talking. Despite how gruff the man seemed, conversation between them flowed rather easily. Felwinter told him why he had been here, starting fights in Riften but only that it was a job for the Companions in Whiterun. The details were not his to tell, something Balimund respected.

Felwinter hadn’t missed the looks they had been sharing. He hadn’t missed how often the Nord’s hands found their way onto him whenever he laughed at something Felwinter said nor the number of times their knees knocked together, though the latter probably couldn’t be helped. The table was small and Balimund was as tall as he was. As broad too. It didn’t at all come as a surprise when Balimund told him he was Riften’s blacksmith; no wonder he was attracted.

Whether he’d act on that attraction was another matter. As much as he’d like to explore, he wanted to be done with this city and get to his daughter and to Moth. All that had passed between them for weeks now were letters. It was something and reading his short, to the point, almost militaristic writing style was endearing but it didn’t beat listening to him in person. Hearing that deep rumble in his ear.

He had the amulet. He had spent several weeks staring at the damnable thing, working himself up into a nervous wreck. If he didn’t ask soon and get an answer, he’d never be able to sleep again.

Fuckin’ old Nord.

Balimund finished his tankard and waved down the waitress. “So where did you get your magical training from? How’d you get so good at it?”

The Argonian waitress placed down two. “You wish to master the arcane arts, Balimund?”

“Nah, friend. Just curious.”

Felwinter stared down into his tankard. “I’m enrolled at the College up north. But mainly from my mother in High Rock.”

“She good like you?”

“Divines, I could only hope to achieve what she has,” he said. “She is practically unparalleled in Illusion and Alteration…”

Balimund blinked.

“She’s talented at distorting the mind with her magic as well as changing the physical properties of things.”


“But I think her greatest accomplishment is with ice magic.” Felwinter leaned back in his seat, losing himself to memories. His leg brushed up against Balimund’s and the Nord didn’t move. “She’d sculpt things out of her ice. Blades, chairs, statues, even some toys for me to play with that never melted. And gods, the precision! I once saw her freeze the wings of an insect zipping around her head. It was behind her when she did it!”

“How in the world did she manage that?” Balimund leaned in over the table. Felwinter found himself following to match him.

“I’m still learning that one, to be honest. Skyrim isn’t the best place to practice frost magic. Everything here just shrugs it off.”

Balimund shrugged. “We Nords are known for that.”

“And the bears and the wolves and the giants and even the damnable dragons.” A sharp laugh ripped itself from Balimund’s throat that was suddenly dampened by a grimace.

“You alright?”

“Fine, fine” he lied, “Why?”

“That sound you just made. Like you were in pain,” Felwinter gestured towards him with his cup. “Plus you wince every time you move your arms.”

He chuckled. “Ah, it’s nothing. Just stiff from work.”

“Was wondering how a single punch was enough to put a big guy like you on the ground.” Balimund laughed again, “What do you usually do for that?”

“The alchemists have potions but I’m fresh out until they prepare a new batch.”

“How long?”

Another grimace. Tightness in his voice when he answered. “Some days.’re a mage!”

“Is it obvious?”

“You could help me with this, couldn’t you?”

Felwinter blinked and looked around at the still full inn. “Um, right here?”

“No, I’ve got a place. We can pay up here and just head over.” Balimund seemed to realize just how close he had gotten to Felwinter and moved back. “I mean, if you’re interested, of course. I’ll make it worth your while.”

“No, no, it’s...fine,” Felwinter said, ignoring the twist in his stomach. “I’ll do it.”

“My son, I told you about him, yes?”

“You did.” The streets were empty except for the usual night guard. And yet they were leaning close, whispering as if they had something to hide.

“He’s away, visiting a friend in Ivarstead.” That they would have the house to themselves was implied. They stopped before Balimund’s door and Felwinter watched him as he searched for the key. Watched the muscles in his back shift underneath his shirt and felt both a stirring and an uncomfortable twist in his belly.

Balimund pushed his way in and stepped aside to let Felwinter follow. It was nice, if a bit lived in. Balimund pushed past him. “Over here,” he quietly directed. Felwinter simply followed, coming into the main living area. He went over to the fire while his host searched for chairs.

“You can stoke that if you want.” Felwinter heard him say over the scrape of moving chairs. He felt the need to ask if it was okay and quickly pushed it down. It was just fire. Felwinter put his palm out and with the amount of effort it took to think of it, a fire quickly sprung to life. Almost immediately, the house began to warm. Felwinter shrugged off his cloak and put it near a table, along with his sword and pack.

Balimund had already seated himself in one of the chairs and after a second, Felwinter joined him. Sitting across from each other, they were closer now than they had been at the bar. He could feel the Nord’s breathing on his face. “Where does it hurt?” He asked.

“Everywhere, honestly,” he murmured, watching Felwinter’s hands as the magic began to shine out, “Can we start with my arms?”

Sure.” Felwinter took his hands, large and calloused, and dug his fingers into the palm, pressing out whatever tension he could find. Slowly, methodically, he moved his way up, infusing his magic into the points of pain Balimund indicated and digging into solid muscle to relieve any tightness that was there.

“You’re good at this.” Balimund’s muttering broke the silence they had been sitting in for the last few minutes, the only other sounds being the crackle of the fire and the man’s occasional relieved grunt. “You doing this for anyone else?”

There was more to that question, Felwinter could tell. “No,” he answered truthfully. After some internal pressing, he continued, “I am seeing someone. It’s serious but we’re not exclusive.”

The man’s heavy brow tightened. “You don’t do this for him?”

“He wouldn’t enjoy it.”

“Hard not to.” Balimund raised one arm and twisted it around, “Already easier to move.”

“Good. That’s good.” As hard as he could, he dug into the meat of his shoulder and the man’s leg practically vibrated. “You alright down there?” Felwinter hoped the man could hear the smirk in his voice. Balimund, head down and eyes squeezed shut, just moaned again.

Felwinter did as much as he could before letting the arm gently down. “There’s still my back to do,” Balimund said, raising his head and pushing the hair out of his eyes.

“Then we best find somewhere for you to lay down.” Balimund gave him a small smile and stood, hand outstretched. Felwinter took it and was gently pulled to his feet before slowly being led out of the living area into another room; one with a bed. Balimund closed the door behind them while Felwinter sparked the candles. “Shoes,” he ordered softly, rolling up his sleeves, “And shirt.”

He did as told, kicking his boots into a corner of the room and shrugging out of his shirt. Balimund slid onto the bed with a contented sigh, folding his arms for a place to keep his head. Felwinter called upon his magic again, seeing the usual golden glow. Balimund’s head was turned to the side, his one eye focused on him, rarely blinking.

Felwinter held out his hands and in a spur of the moment decision, added fire to the Restoration spell, just enough to heat up the palms of his hands. Still, he should ask. “Balimund, I’m adding a bit of heat to help with the pain.”

“Of course,” he yawned, “Do whatever you need to do?”

“You sure?”

“Yes. I trust you.”

Felwinter stopped. It was hard to form a coherent thought or even a simple command to move with Kodlak’s words ringing in his head. Ridiculous. Moth trusted him. Moth trusted him with his hopes, his fears. It was one insignificant thing.

Albeit, it was one thing he had never had to deal with before. The two people he felt for as strongly as he did Moth in his youth and neither took much issue with his magic. One was a mage herself. A noble girl from a noble family, just like him.

Her parents were never so inclined. In the end, they decided that having a grandchild with the Drakon name and Drakon blood running through their veins wasn’t worth the shame of marrying off their eldest daughter to a houseless bastard who used the name against his late grandfather’s wishes. Ultimately, she went along with their demands.

This was not that. Moth was not her, more concerned with familial duty than happiness. Disowned by his family upon leaving the stronghold, his only duty was to his sister’s safety, as her’s was to his. It was just one thing. He could do it, no matter what Kodlak said. It was just one thing.

“Felwinter?” He jolted slightly, his eyes refocusing on Balimund, preparing to sit up, watching him with concern. “Are you alright?”

“Fine, fine. Just distracted.” Felwinter cursed the wavering in his voice. He gave a smile. “On an unrelated note, you’ve got a nice back.”

Felwinter presses his heated hands to the bare skin and watched Balimund’s shoulders tighten in surprise before slowly, slowly relaxing. Felwinter keeps an eye on the man’s face and the other on his work. He was meticulous, running his hands over every bit of flesh he could reach on his back, the sides of his torso, even the tiny bit of chest his left exposed. All the while, he added in more heat, little by little.

Balimund, in that low voice, was practically singing for him. “You’re so good, you’re so fuckin-” he suddenly stopped as Felwinter’s hands tore away from his jerking body, his eyes wide, teeth clenched and breathing ragged.

Felwinter hadn’t expected that kind of reaction to a tiny bit of shock magic. He had been so lost in the display before him. He should have asked first. “Balimund, I-”

A growl cut him off. “Gods, why did you stop?” His teeth were still clenched tightly together and his eyes were wide, with an almost feral look in his eye, aimed at Felwinter.

“I didn’t hurt-”

“Divines, no. Just…could…” Balimund closed his eyes and let his breathing even out. “Would you do it again? Please?”

A few seconds passed before Felwinter really accepted what he was hearing. “Yes. Yes, of course.” He called the magic back, “Anything you want,” he whispered. “Anything you want.”

Felwinter’s hands were on his skin. He had forgone the healing magic this time, whatever damage was left would need time to repair itself. This time, it was just fire, pushing heat throughout the Nord’s body, all while drinking in the sounds he made and becoming more and more aware of how clothed he was.

He’d be lying if he said that he hadn’t imagined doing this for Moth at some point but he lied all the time.

Felwinter’s palm moved to the top of Balimund’s shoulder and squeezed as much as he could without causing any real pain. Eyes trained on the other man’s face, Felwinter let out the faintest shock he could muster. Balimund’s face tightened again and the moan he let out was positively sinful. The shock became an ever-present amount of static. Everywhere Felwinter’s hands roamed clenched up and shuddered on release.

No longer concerned with healing or pretenses, his hands drifted downwards. Over Balimund’s lower back to the back of his thighs and calves, thick with muscle and requiring actual effort from him to get in as deep as he could.

Balimund had his head turned to watch him with hooded eyes. “You missed a spot.”

“Best for last, Balimund.” Felwinter kept his gaze, as his hand drifted up the other man’s thigh. He took one annoying clothed ass cheek and squeezed. “You want to continue this foreplay or can we really get things started?”

A deep, rumbling chuckle slid from his mouth. Balimund lifted himself up and blew out the candle. Felwinter felt a hand wrap around his wrist, gently pulling him downwards. He followed gladly and was rewarded with a soft press of lips against his. Felwinter broke it off after a few seconds, ripping his shirt over his head and chucking his boots into some spot in the room where he could trip over them later.

Balimund was pulling him back the second he was done. Felwinter pushed against him, pressing them both to the bed and slotting himself between a long pair of legs. The kiss was more forceful this time, wet, noisy. Balimund’s strong arms wrapped around Felwinter’s shoulders and held him tight to himself, aligning them entirely from head to toe.

Felwinter’s palm ran down a broad chest and muscled sides. He took one nipple between his fingers and conjured a small bit of shock. Balimund nearly strangled him, his arms around Felwinter’s neck becoming a vice in surprise and pleasure. He kept his hand where it was and leaned down to take the other nipple into his mouth.

The sounds he was making now made the earlier ones sound like nothing. The man’s hips rolled upwards and on instinct, Felwinter moved to meet him. Balimund’s hands were more fumbling, tugging at the straps of Felwinter’s belt until Felwinter pulled back. He took Balimund’s pants by the waist and tried to slowly, gently tug them off but Balimund had no such patience, practically kicking them off when they were down far enough, his erection dropping long and hard onto his belly. “You know, in most stories, this is usually the part where I make a joke about eagerness.”

Balimund stretched his legs with a groan. “And yet, you haven’t.”

“Too cliche and I can’t think of a good one.” Felwinter tugged his belt loose and slid out of his own pants. Balimund watched him, tugging himself to the sight. When Felwinter crawled back onto the bed, Balimund sat up, wrapping his arms around Felwinter’s waist and holding him and his erection pressed to his torso. Balimund mouthed at his chest. Felwinter ran heated hands over his shoulders, his neck, feeling the man’s moans vibrate against him. His hands dropped lower, charged up with static and the moaning became a yell, the hands roaming his body gripped tightly.

Felwinter pulled away to watch him, watch his frame tighten and jerk, feel the nails digging into his back. He stopped, letting go of Balimund’s cock and grinning down at the head resting against his chest, gasping for air. “You alright down there?” A gurgle was his response. Felwinter took them both in hand and stroked slowly, using his other hand to lift his head up.

Balimund practically attacked him, the kiss more reminiscent of a fight, one Felwinter was glad to take him on in. It pressed on for a while, silence except for the sounds of mouths and skin until Felwinter shoved the dazed man back down onto the bed, a little breathless himself. “Oil?”

Balimund gestured vaguely to a dresser behind them. He turned and pulled open the top one at Balimund’s instruction, finding a tiny, clear vial among clothes.

He pushed the drawer closed and turned to find Balimund getting to his knees. Felwinter was grabbed by the waist and held close, their damp foreheads pressed together. He let a tiny bit of magic flow from his fingers, heating the bottle before flicking it open the bottle. He pulled away slightly to get a better view, pouring a generous amount over their members before tossing the bottle away.

Balimund took him by the backside and ground into him. Warm oil turned the simple movement into one that had Felwinter moaning, biting at the meat of the man’s shoulder. He called shock magic to his hand, refusing to be outdone. He ran them up the pair of flexing thighs pressed against his own, rolling his hips to meet him.

Felwinter pushed, lowering then both back down to the bed. Both reached down to align themselves and when coming back up, their fingers interlaced. Felwinter held the other man’s hand down to the bed and ground into him, long and hard. The bed rocked beneath them, hard against the wooden wall and loud enough that Felwinter would have worried if he cared or was present enough to. He was too out of his own head, too lost in all of this.

Balimund came suddenly and with a shout, his fingers digging painfully into Felwinter’s back. Felwinter’s teeth found themselves in his shoulder, grunting and jerking through his release. His limbs were water after the during the come-down. He would’ve shown more care, putting his full weight on his partner if he didn’t know the man would take it.

Balimund’s hand slid away from Felwinter’s damp back to wipe sweat from his forehead. Once Felwinter’s breathing had evened out, he put a hand to Balimund’s shoulder, healing the bite he had left there in his throes.

Balimund watched him as he did beneath hooded eyes. When he caught his gaze, the Nord gave a small smile. “Would you like to stay? It’s late out.”

“You don’t mind?”

“Not at all.” He gestured for Felwinter to lift up off of him, twisting towards his nightstand to retrieve a cloth. He handed it over to Felwinter, who huffed out a laugh and condensed the vapor in the air to wet it, making sure to heat it for good measure. Balimund then gestured for Felwinter to lay himself down on the bed, cleaning himself up while he did so.

Felwinter more dropped than lowered himself down. He noticed how cold it had become, much more so than before. Balimund and his heat over him pushed it from his mind, dragging the damp cloth all over his body; he was rarely on the receiving end of this.

Balimund finished quickly and left the cloth folded on the nightstand. He asked again. “You stayin’?”

“I’ll stay.” Balimund wrapped an arm around him and dragged them together. Felwinter closed his eyes and realized, in the silence of the night, that he could hear the water flowing beneath the streets of Riften. His eyes began to flutter and close. Balimund’s breathing had already evened out.

Felwinter woke to cold. It was the one thing he was still getting used to about this land. Almost a year in Skyrim did nothing to account for the decade he had spent in Hammerfell.

Being on water could not have been helping matters. Balimund seemed just fine, however, wrapped around Felwinter like a viper. He was warm but this was still more cold than Felwinter was used to.

He forces his mind elsewhere, pulls the covers up over his shoulders and…he’s forgotten. He could heat them up. It was okay. This wasn’t Whiterun. This wasn’t Markarth.

This wasn’t…

Fucking old man. Felwinter slowly, quietly extracted himself from Balimund’s arms and sat up, feet pressing against the cold wood of the floor.

His stomach felt unsettled, as if he could feel himself about to be sick. He shouldn’t be here, in bed with some man. He should be heading home. To his daughter and his lover. Barely a year they’ve been together, the closest thing to family he’s had since before he left High Rock and Kodlak demanded that he just throw it all away. For what? Magic?

A growl escaped his throat. Behind him, Balimund stirred slightly and Felwinter offered a silent apology. None of this was his fault or his problem. He stood and trudged out of the Nord’s bedroom, peeking out of a covered window and guessing that it was early morning, a few hours before sunrise.

His pack was where he left it. He knelt and opened it, digging around until he found what he had been looking for. The Amulet of Mara glimmered in the low light. He stared at the thing, considered the meaning, the intention. Then he thinks of the scratches in his back and the twisting in his stomach worsens. He should be going home.

“Fel?” He tenses up, more at the name than the voice. He was Fel to few and by permission. But after everything they just did, Balimund might as well have it. “Are you alright?”

Felwinter tucked the amulet away and closed the pack. “Everything’s fine, Balimund. How are you feeling?”

“Like new, to be honest.” Felwinter heard the wooden floor creak under footsteps. He rose up and found himself pulled into a sort of sideways embrace, the Nord’s large, stark naked frame pressed up against his own, dispelling the cold almost instantly. “You don’t have to leave yet, you know,” he murmured, pressing his lips to Felwinter’s neck. Felwinter’s eyes fluttered closed and his arm went to the base of Balimund’s back. “I’m certainly not kicking you out.”

One eye opened, drifting down to his closed pack on the floor. He should be going home.

“Are you cold?”

“A little,” Felwinter admitted, his voice uncharacteristically light and soft. The hand at the base of Balimund’s bare back heated up. “Warm me up?”

Balimund smiled. He took Felwinter by the wrist and led him back to the bedroom. “Hold a moment,” Felwinter said and closed his eyes. Within seconds, the air began to heat up, as if someone had started a large bonfire right at the center of the bedroom. Balimund blinked in surprise, shivering out the last of the cold. Felwinter stepped past him and sat down on the bed. “I’m still cold, friend.”

The smile tightened into a smirk and Balimund leaned down to kiss him, more affectionate than carnal. He put his hands to Felwinter’s shoulders and pushed him down to the bed, propping himself between his legs. Balimund broke the kiss, breathing heavy against Felwinter’s mouth. He leaned back to take hold of the comforters and brought it over them both, ensuring they were covered before dropping down to kiss Felwinter again.

Foggy in Riften today. Felwinter had to wonder if they were all like that, given how close they were to the water. It was irritating. At this point, damn near everything was. His stomach still felt uneasy, his chest still felt tight. He felt cold, bare and lethargic and it only worsened when he thought of what was ahead of him. He wanted to go back to sleep.

What was worse was that he couldn’t shake the thought that he was shoving all of this on Balimund. The man had been nothing but unceasingly kind to him from the minute they met and more than kind from that moment on. He did not deserve the deal with Felwinter’s personal problems, especially when it was clear to both of them that this was never going to go any further. Balimund was a good man and he’d make someone else happy. Felwinter had his someone and it was long past due to go see him.

He is halfway to Riften’s gates when a sound stops him. Sniffling; a child crying. He turned to find the source, hiding in the shadows of one of the homes. A boy, not even up to ten years old, sat on the ground with his back against the wooden house, body shaking with sobs.

He could make time for this. “Hey. Hey, kid. Kid!” His voice had the boy springing to his feet. Now that Felwinter could see him better, he noticed the kid was an Imperial, much like his own. Short, wispy brown hair covered his head and tears streaked down from bloodshot green eyes. “Is everything alright?” He asked, keeping his voice strong but as calm he could.

The boy nodded vigorously, quickly wiping his eyes. “I’m fine, mister. Nothing’s wrong.”

He squat down to the kid’s level. “You usually cry like that when nothing’s wrong?” The boy frowned and looked away. “Come on, kid. Maybe I can help.”

The kid turned back, his eyes on his feet this time. “I just wanted to buy something from the stalls,” he mumbled.

“You have no money?”

“I did have money!” Now he was looking Felwinter in the eye; his own filled with anger and indignation. “But Grelod, she… “ he hesitated, the fire melting away. “She says we’re not allowed to have money on us. And she found mine.”

That was ridiculous. Who steals from a damn child? He recognized the name, the women who ran the Honorhall Orphanage. He rose to his full height and the boy’s neck craned to follow him. “I’m going to go talk to her.

Hands suddenly took hold of his own. Tiny things taking up two of his fingers per palm. When Felwinter looked down at the boy, his hands immediately dropped to his sides, a murmured apology on his lips. For whatever reason, he didn’t want Felwinter talking to Grelod. Felwinter thought better of it. There was always a danger of interfering with a strict or worse kind of caretaker. One could do so, if they wished; morality would even demand it. But once that person left, it was always the child who has to deal with the fallout.

That fear never leaves them until they grow older. Lucia was safe from her aunt and uncle, she always would be. But something still scared her enough that she refused to tell Felwinter, her father in each and every way except blood, where the farm was. The farm they took from her when her mother died and cast her out from into the wilderness to either starve to death or get mauled by wolves if he hadn’t appeared.

Out of respect, Felwinter didn’t seek out the farm, track down its current residents and feed them to their own pigs. Out of respect, it seemed he would do the same here. “Alright,” he said, “I won’t, I promise.” He reached out to pat the boy’s shoulder and the boy flinched as if he was expecting to be hit. He nearly broke his promise then and there.

“You got a name, kid?”

“Samuel, sir.”

“Samuel. Name’s Felwinter.” Felwinter looked up over at Mistveil Keep to see guard’s opening the gates. “Wait for me right here. I need to make a trip to the court mage.” He left Samuel behind and quickly climbed up the steps to the Jarl’s castle. He spared Balimund’s forge a look, unnoticed by the man hard at work before entering.

He was back out and at Samuel’s side within a few minutes, a small bag in his hands. “Here, fire salts.” The man held the small bag out, which was taken from him. Felwinter squat down so as to get closer and to his credit, the boy didn’t flinch away again. “See that man over there? He’s been needing fire salts for some time. Take them over there for me?”

Samuel, still sullen and despondent, muttered his agreement. Felwinter leaned against the building and watched him trudge over to the Scorched Hammer and yank at Balimund’s shirt to get the Nord’s attention. He accepted the fire salts Samuel held out and turned in the direction he indicated, towards Felwinter. Felwinter offered a nod and a smile. Balimund brought up the salts and nodded back his gratitude.

“Done,” Samuel declared once he had returned.

“So quickly? Was it hard?”

“No? No, you saw me.”

Felwinter faked a weary groan. “All that walking. I’m getting too old.” He pushed himself up off the house. “Come on, kid. Honest pay for honest work.”

Samuel’s ever-present frown fell away. Big eyes blinked in confusion as Felwinter stepped past him. “What did you want to buy? Come on, you’ve earned it.”

“I…a book, Mister Felwinter.” The sadness in his voice melted away as quickly as his frown, replaced by surprise and disbelief. He sprinted rather than trudged past Felwinter towards one of Riften’s many market stalls. Felwinter kept close behind. The Argonian owner of the stall they stopped at naturally noticed the towering warrior first and Felwinter immediately indicated downwards when the salesman met his eyes. “‘Scuse me, sir, do you still have…” Samuel started hopping, trying to see over the stack of items blocking his view. Felwinter bent down and tightly wrapped his arms around the boy’s knees. He teetered slightly when Felwinter rose back up but settled when he got his arm around Felwinter’s neck. Immediately, he perked up and pointed to a book with a muddy red cover. “That one! Is that ‘A Game at Dinner’?”

The Argonian opened the front cover. “So it seems, little one. My last copy too. Price is forty septims.” Felwinter was already counting out the coin with his free hand. He tied up the small pouch and held it up to Samuel. The kid took the bag and immediately handed it back, shaking Felwinter’s shoulder with laughter. The salesman handed over the book with a nod and Samuel practically jumped off Felwinter’s shoulder.

“I’ve never heard of this story,” Felwinter remarked, watching Samuel flip through the book. “Have you read it?”

Samuel’s shoulders sagged. “I..can’t read. Miss Constance wants to teach us but Grelod never lets her.”

Now Felwinter really wanted to go talk to this woman. But instead, he took a deep calming breath. “Who told you about the story then?”

“One of the kids here, Aventus Aretino,” he answered, “Miss Constance promised to read it when he asked but he ran away.”

The name set off alarms. No direct connections or faces to place the name but he remembered Windhelm. He’d stop by there, he decided. After everything with Moth is said and done.

“Well, you take good care of that book, alright? You spent hard earned money on it.”

“I will!” The boy gave him one of the most radiant smiles he had ever seen. “Promise.” He pushed slightly on Honorhall’s door and stopped. “Will...will I see you again?”

“You will,” Felwinter said immediately. “I’ll visit when I can.” The boy practically bounced with excitement and after one final goodbye, ran inside. Before the door closed, Felwinter caught sight of a rather severe-looking old woman. He took another deep, calming breath and stepped away, letting it close entirely.

“Felwinter.” He could already feel Balimund’s steps approaching.

“Balimund. How are you?”

“Good. Very good actually,” he said, “Work’s been much easier lately.”

“The massage helped then.”

“Among other things.”

Felwinter chuckled. Balimund reached behind him and took out the fire salts. “I mentioned these once during our talk at the inn. I barely even remembered I needed them.”

“What can I say? I pay attention.”

Balimund hummed, tucking the fire salts away. “Well, thanks again. For...everything.” He ran his hands down the sides of his legs. “I...understand that this was a one-time thing,” he then said, “You’ve got your own person and I have little time for anything serious. I apologize if I made you uncomfortable.”

Felwinter frowned. “What? No.” His hand took hold of Balimund’s arm. “I promise, it had nothing to do with you. I…I just have a question I’m to ask him and I haven’t been able to sleep through a night since I planned to do so.”

“Oh..oh!” Balimund let out a nervous laugh. ‘Good, that’s good. Good for you both.” The Nord sighed. “I best get back to it,” he said. “Safe journeys, Felwinter. And I’m here, if you ever wish to talk.”

Felwinter squeezed the man’s arm still in his hand. “I’ll remember that. Thank you, Balimund.”

Felwinter splayed flat against Whiterun’s closed gates with the loudest, most obnoxious groan he could manage. “Open!”

The nearby guardsman rubbed his temple. “Thane Drakon. Long journey?”

Another groan, loud enough that anyone on the other side of the gate would most definitely hear it. “Open!!!”

The massive wooden doors jolted and slowly parted inwards, revealing two more equally annoyed guards. Hunched over by his own exhaustion, Felwinter dragged himself through, catching Adrienne at her forge. One sharp eye twitched in his direction. “Felwinter, welcome back.” He answered only with another groan. “Eloquent, as always.”

“Fight me, woman,” he snapped, as if she couldn’t bowl him over with one sharp exhale in his general direction.

In his defense, he had barely taken five minutes to relieve himself on his way back from the Rift, certainly not for food or rest. It was dark out by the time he had returned to Whiterun. “Where’s Lucia?” he mumbled through a yawn.

“Behind your house along the wall, visiting with a friend.”

Just after she answered did he realize he could hear voices. Felwinter moved past her to find Lucia, exactly where Adrienne said, sitting along the lower part of the wall and watching the hold’s rolling plains under the night sky as well as the stars.

Moth stood there next to her, a protective hand on her back, speaking in low, soft tones. Felwinter stopped before reaching them and just watched. Moth was telling her stories; about the stars and the constellations they made, how they came to be. The last thing he wanted to do was interrupt them. But he was far beyond helping himself. He rapped his knuckles twice against Breezehome’s wall and both turned to find the source.

Lucia gasped. “Papa! See? I told you!” She quickly scrambled off the wall, with Moth mainly helping her down. Felwinter was tackled at the knees and he was tired enough to almost go down. He lifted one hand towards Moth, beckoning the man to come closer and Lucia quickly extracted herself from his embrace. “Papa, come tuck me in!” she called on her way back into the house.

Felwinter signaled for her to continue on. “Go on ahead. I’ll be right there, Lucia.” She bounced on her feet and took off. The second she was out of sight, strong hands took hold of Felwinter’s wrist and pulled him in. Moth’s lips were on his before he knew it and Felwinter responded immediately in kind, deepening the kiss and pushing the other man more behind their home for privacy. “I’ve missed you,” Felwinter murmured into his neck.

Moth simply rumbled in his throat. “Come on, Fel. Inside.” He took Felwinter’s bag and guided him back into Breezehome with a hand at his lower back. “Go tuck her in,” he said when the door was closed and locked behind them. “I’ll wait for you upstairs.”

“Alright.” The Orc pressed another kiss to the man’s lips and started up the stairs.

Tones were muffled when Moth closed the bedroom door. He sat on the bed, pulled off his boots and opened Felwinter’s pack, searching for something he might sleep in when gold slipped from between clothing. Moth gingerly took it between his fingers and lifted it to candlelight.

Felwinter returned quickly and locked the door behind him. “That girl. Almost got a story out of me,” he laughed softly. “She could get anything she wants from me and she knows-” he stopped. Moth took his eyes off the amulet to look at him. He was staring back, frozen completely in place, his eyes wide and glazed over. Moth turned back to the amulet, stared at it, wracked his memory until a relevant one came up.

The recognition knocked the wind from him. He dropped it into the palm of his other hand, cradling the thing as if it were something immeasurably precious. “How long have you had this, Felwinter?” Moth asked.

“Some weeks.” The other man’s eyes remained glued to the ground, his shoulders slumped and his back curved, looking every bit as anxious and vulnerable as he sounded.

“How long have you wanted to ask?”

Felwinter swallowed audibly. “Longer,” he whispered.

Moth let out another long, shaking breath. He held the Amulet of Mara back up, stared as if it couldn’t possibly be real. There before the door stood the Dragonborn, creator of empires, bane of dragons, a warrior out of children’s tales. And here stood Moth, a simple soldier, a simpler blacksmith, watching this hero of legend, child of a god shuffle in place while Moth held the man’s heart in the palm of his hand. Felwinter had this on him for a long time. This amulet and the question it asked. The man who grinned with sharp teeth mad glee when facing down the most terrifying creatures any mortal had ever witnessed was sick with fear over the possible response to a simple question.

Ridiculous. As if there were any other answer.

Moth took another deep, chest filling breath and turned. Slowly, he walked over to Felwinter, whose eyes still refused to meet his. Moth stopped when they were all but pressed together, when he could feel the man’s breathing on his face. Moth then reached up with the amulet’s chains in his fingers and wrapped it around his love’s tense neck. Moth backed away a respectable distance and cleared his throat. “I see you are wearing an Amulet of Mara. I have heard of those. Worn by Nords seeking marriage.”

The room became so silent, they could almost hear the little girl downstairs snoring away in her sleep. Felwinter’s lips began to tremble, a small huffed laugh escaped them. “You’ve heard right.”

“And you have people in mind, I take it?”

“One person, actually,” he said. He reached down and took Moth’s hands in his own. “Just you. There is no one else, Moth.” Moth could feel his hands trembling against his fingers.

“There has never been anyone for me. Not until you,” he said, more to himself than anything else. This was all still so incredibly hard to believe. “You have my hand, should you wish it.”

Felwinter let out a shuddering breath. “I do?”

“Yes, you do.”

Felwinter’s hands let his own go, took hold of his face and kissed him hard. When they parted, he was gasping for air as well as speaking. “I’m getting married,” he whispered. Then suddenly, he took a step back, his eyes going out of focus as if he had just been hit. “I’m getting married…”

“Fel? Felwinter!” Moth darted forwards just as the man’s knees buckled out from under him. He just barely managed to keep the man from collapsing into a puddle of himself on the floor. Moth heaved him back to his feet and looked over him with concern. “Felwinter, are you alright?”

“I…” He was still breathing hard, “I...I gotta tell my mom.” Felwinter stared back up at Moth with those wide, bewildered eyes and surged into him, mouth pressed against his own and all but shoving Moth towards the bed.

“Fel!” Moth parted them with an arm to Felwinter’s chest. “Settle down.” Felwinter huffed out a laugh and nodded his agreement and apology. Unlike before, his eyes never left Moth’s and the look in them was soft and yet was as relentless and unapologetic as he was. Moth felt the laughter bubbling up inside him as well. “At least take off your shoes first.”

Felwinter was hopping on one leg before Moth could even finish speaking. The boot landed by the door and with ease, he kicked off the other one. His hands went to the hem of his shirt. “Hey!” Felwinter froze at Moth’s call. “Just the shoes, Drakon. I get the rest.”

Felwinter grinned. That same damnable grin Moth has seen since the very first day they met. It had been decided long ago; there really was no other answer to be given.

Felwinter woke slowly to darkness. He could hear light rain on the ceiling and the call of birds, signalling the early morning. He was cold again. Cold and sleepy. The body pressed up against him helped in some regards but he could feel cold patches of skin in places where his hand drifted. A matter easily fixed.

He froze, Felwinter’s breath suddenly catching in his throats. He shut his magic down so quickly and forcefully that he could feel it deep in his chest. The ceiling came better into view as his brain finally caught up. This wasn’t Riften. This wasn’t Balimund.

The events of the previous night were sharp in his mind. Moth had said yes. He said yes . But now the thought soured him. Moth had said yes and Felwinter had almost immediately broken his trust and used his magic on him.

How typical of him, to ruin something so good so quickly.

If he was being honest with himself, Kodlak was right. He missed it. He missed being so open and free with his magic. But what Moth went through all those years ago, the nightmares he sometimes still had; Felwinter knew too much of what it was like. Helgen has yet to leave his mind.

Felwinter could never live with himself if this man he’s decided to give his heart, his life, his name, his home, everything that he was too began looking at him with those same glazed over, traumatized eyes he wore whenever he spoke of his past. Magic be damned. Kodlak be damned.

He’s lost enough. He won’t lose this.

Chapter Text

Moth grabbed the bottle of wine at his side by the neck and lifted it, yanking the cork out with his teeth and spitting into the crackling fire in front of him. It was a small bottle and weak. Felwinter had a habit of reaching for wine when he wanted a taste of something sweet. He also had a habit of forgetting that wine was still alcohol and that with his tolerance, he could drink himself into a stupor before he even remembered what it was.

Moth drained half the bottle in one go. This was nothing to him; sweet water with a bitter aftertaste. He’d search for stronger but still had the habit of leaving Felwinter’s liquors alone. Then again, they weren’t just Felwinter’s anymore.

Moth put the bottle back down and reached up, his wedding and the gold chain it was attached to twining around his fingers. Neither were the type of men for ring wear. They’d break them or even go so far as to bust up their fingers with their professions. Felwinter was away, Lydia was accompanying him and Lucia wanted to spend the night with the Jarl’s kids so here he was, alone in Breezehome in the middle of the night. Truthfully, Moth rarely found himself idle like this. So far from Markarth, his forge, his Jarl and most likely for good this time, settling in and finding his routine was turning into a task. Adrienne had given him the use of her forge but Moth wasn’t so painfully bored that he’d go out and start hammering in front of the woman’s house while everyone was asleep.

Felwinter kept himself an impressive collection of books and with them being Moth’s only form of entertainment for the past few hours, he had already gone through quite a few. A lot concerned magic and were frighteningly advanced. Moth felt like a boy again, before he had been taught how to read. He hadn't the faintest idea of what he was looking at. The one he was reading now had an author’s note in the beginning, recommending a different book so the reader would have a better chance of understanding this one. Felwinter didn’t even seem to own that book, being so far beyond this one that the preceding book would be entirely unnecessary.

Moth growled deep within his throat. Felwinter; he was worried for him and after so much time together, it remains such a strange feeling. For so long, his sister was his only concern and this was a woman who had trounced him in a fight more often than not. But now it was Felwinter, throwing himself at dragons, Daedra, bandits, trying to save a world that could simply be talked into destroying itself, given the time.

A mirthless laugh rumbled in his chest as he necked the wine. If only his father could see him now, fathering a human, playing house-husband to another, a Breton noble of all kinds. He’d disown him a second time if he could. It would be worth it. Their wedding, kept to Whiterun on the Jarl’s insistence, was decent. It was more for Felwinter’s benefit than his own. Swearing a life oath to a goddess he did not worship brought him little in the way of joy or elation as the Men and Mer present.

No, what would be worth it came after. Moth had never had anyone’s eyes or attention as he had Felwinter’s that night. A whole city in celebration of their thane, the Dragonborn himself and Felwinter could find little attention to spare most of them. They drank together and they talked about nothing in particular, the conversation jumping from topic to topic. What made it so special was the closeness, the intimacy. They whispered while everyone else yelled and cheered. Kept some form of contact all through the night, shoulders pressed together, Felwinter’s hand wrapped around his knee, fingers interlacing with Moth’s.

What came next, Felwinter would argue, was just as memorable. Their own little afterparty, just the two of them and it went on till damn sunrise. Go at it, take a break, rinse, repeat; Moth had never been so wonderfully sore in his entire. But at least he had the sense to hide the evidence the next morning when they had to show their faces to the world again.

Felwinter had no such sense or shame. For the entire day, Moth had to deal with looks ranging from embarrassed to knowing and some even proud. It wasn’t until he got to Jorrvaskr to check in, only to find the man training shirtless, long red lines clawed up and down the length of his back, unabashedly on display. Kodlak had little to offer as an excuse for his behavior other than, ‘I told him to find a shirt’.

Another laugh gurgled out of Moth, louder in the empty house. After the initial disbelief had passed, he found it rather funny. The brazenness, that smug look the man held throughout the day, just begging for someone to say something. How whenever someone was either brave or clueless enough to do so, he’d simply answer, “Dragon. Big, strong dragon. Gave me a damn good fight. Best I’ve ever had.” It was all Moth could do to not erupt right then and there. They laughed about it more when the both of them were alone and when he asked Moth to give him some new ones later that night to take with him on the road, he did not leave wanting.

Moth’s fingers tightened on the ring, smiling into the fire at the memory. The smiled lowered the more he dwelled, replaced by lump his throat. One he forced back down before reaching for another book.

This one was old. The covers were worn, the pages inside were worse, with many containing slight tears, marks and words while others seemed to be missing entirely, including the book’s title. It was strange; Felwinter rarely wrote in his books and Lucia could barely write at all. It was another book on magic. Conjuration specifically, that much Moth could tell, given the amount of seals drawn and mentions of Daedra. That ordinarily would have been enough for him to put the book back but this was keeping him somewhat engaged.

The writing was scribbled and it showed a child’s hand at work. A child with advanced vocabulary but one nonetheless, judging by the spelling mistakes and grammar. They were notes; suggestions, corrections, noted mistakes written in margins, underneath paragraphs. It’s the same all the way through and Moth finds the insight into a young Felwinter’s mind significantly more interesting than whatever the book had to say; only partly because he could barely understand what was being said in the first place. He keeps flipping through, engrossed page by page until he reached the last.

A single sheet devoid of text. Blank except for two words, written capitalized and in big, bold, excited letters, “IT WORKED!!!” With little smiling faces swarming the letters.

Moth could almost feel the elation. He was certainly proud of the kid, after what seemed to be pages upon pages of documented failures. Beneath was a hand-drawn picture. One of a beaming child, kneeling and wrapping his arms around a large dog with an equally wide grin and a waving tail.

Moth leaned forward in his chair, feeling the fire’s searing heat on his fingers . “He’s never spoken about a dog before,” he murmured. Nothing on how he got it or a name or anything at all and certainly not what magic had to do with it. The book was on Conjuration. Moth knew two things about Conjuration; Daedra and the undead and like most forms of magic, his experiences with both were less than pleasant. Having to fight and cut down the same dead comrade over and over in a single battle did little to endear both the craft to him as well as its users.

Moth closed the book, his eyes locked onto the fire at his feet. It was easy to forget that Felwinter was a mage. Except on the rare occasion when he returned to Moth reeking of ash or rain, Felwinter gave not even the slightest indication that he still used his powers in or out of their home.

When Felwinter promised all those months ago to never use his abilities around Moth, he had meant it. Not even the simple things like lighting candles or conjuring a light source for himself to see at night.

Moth flipped back open to the last page of the book, finally putting two and two together. The whole thing was an attempt at a spell, one that resulted in the summoning of a spirit, taking on the shape of a dog. And if he was performing this spell as a child, it could very well be the first one he ever learned. Felwinter may have never mentioned a pet but he did mention a lonely childhood, devoid of any real, loving friendships.

It was the magic. That must have been why Felwinter never mentioned it, despite how important it must have been to him. Was it shame? Or was it for Moth’s sake? Casting haphazardly was one matter but he couldn’t believe that Moth was so fragile that he wouldn’t even speak of it, could he?

Moth reached down and lifted the bottle, only to find it empty. He hadn’t even noticed. He certainly wasn’t feeling it. Felwinter had something stronger stashed where Lucia would never find and Moth needed something for the pit that suddenly appeared in his belly. For what reason, he could not be sure.

Moth got to his feet too quickly, his hair brushing the cloves of garlic hanging above their fire pit. He pulled on his boots and grabbed his key, shoving open the front door and walking out into the cold night.

The inn was as quiet as the house. The main tavern empty with most of its patrons having retired, to their homes or their rented rooms. The massive wood fire at the center of the inn, usually surrounded by people hoping to chase away the night’s chill, was empty and certainly would have been a better place to stay, if Moth had a mind. Rather, he preferred the privacy of his lone table and his dark corner, back turned to the flames, a mug of amber liquid held tightly in hand. Still not strong enough but he was no longer in the privacy and security of his own home.

Its weakness meant he still felt the pit. Right at the center of his stomach and it worsened whenever he thought of Felwinter. Maybe it was longing. Moth missed him when he was away, yes but this was different. This felt wrong.

His mind, it kept going back to that dog. That stupid Daedric dog. Why has Felwinter never told him? Why did he care so damn much? If Felwinter didn’t wish to speak about something, that was his wish and Moth respected that.

But the other things they’ve discussed over the months. Deeply intimate things; things that made this spiritual mutt seem more and more insignificant with each passing second Moth’s mind forced him to dwell on it. Insignificant in that it should have been a story Moth would hear at the dinner table or around the fire, watching a father regale his daughter with stories of his childhood.

It felt wrong. He felt wrong. He was in the wrong, he was sure of it but words failed him, as they did so often when he needed them the most. He did as he always did every time and tried to force it and as it did every time, it only made him angrier.


His thoughts broke and his head swiveled towards the sound of his name. Saadia was looking down at him, smiling but with a slight bit of concern in her eyes. Moth traced her gaze to the mug. Once he saw what she did, he immediately relaxed his hand, though the damage to cup had already been done. “Apologies,” he offered through barely opened lips.

“It’s no trouble,” she told him, though she still looked over tankard’s bent frame when she took the thing from his hand.

He watched her walk back over to the bar and put the tankard away. “Are you trying to close?” He asked. With the tavern empty and even the bard sound asleep, he had no need to raise his voice to be heard.

“Soon, I hope.” Moth had turned away but could hear her footsteps approaching.

“I’ll leave you to it then.” He started to rise. “Again, my apologies.”

A hand to his shoulder stopped him. “Oh, nonsense. You don’t need to leave just yet.” The hand guided him back down and he relented. It remained for a few seconds more even after he was sitting again. When it did finally leave his shoulder, he noticed the other holding something. A bottle, which she brought up and set down on the table.

“What is this?”

“A thank you gift. Meant for Felwinter.” Saadia turned the bottle so Moth could view the label, see how generous a gift it was. All Moth could see was expensive. “He helped me with a rather...delicate problem and I’ve been meaning to thank him for some time.”

That explains that. “Kematu, correct?”

The ever-present smile on her lips twitched ever so slightly. “He told you, did he?”

Moth didn’t blame her for feeling uncomfortable, so he said, “What you asked of him required him to risk his life. Someone should know if he did not come back for whatever reason.”

Saadia blinked, finding herself entirely disarmed. “Ah. fair.” She watched him pull the bottle closer for a better read. “I suppose you want details?”


She blinked again and the tight smile began to soften. “I’ll find you a cup, dear. Let you enjoy.” Her hand came up and touched his shoulder again as she walked past.

“Bring two,” he called, “May as well join me.”

She did as he suggested and returned with two mugs. Moth got to work on the top. “I’ve got an opener if-” Moth ripped the cork out. “Oh…very impressive.”

Moth offered a small smile and nothing more as he filled both mugs. Saadia sat down opposite of him. “I was surprised to find you here,” she started.

Moth lifted the cup to his mouth. “I’m here often enough.”

“But never alone.”

He shrugged. “Fel’s out. Kid’s with friends. Wanted to clear my head.”

“That so?” She swirled her drink before taking a pull, “Hope it’s nothing too serious. It’s always a pleasure seeing you smile.”

There it was. She was always nice to him. Kindness to disguise the flirting, obvious to anyone paying close enough attention. To do it in front of Felwinter was rather bold though, even if she actually did know something of their arrangement. Felwinter always asked if he was interested, pushed him to take whatever she was offering but Moth always gave noncommittal answers. Yes, she was beautiful but if he desired intimacy, Felwinter was always right there.

He shrugged. “Rare sight, so people have told me.”

Saadia laughed. “Ah, but that’s what makes it a gift.” She took another sip of her drink, wincing as it burned its way down. “Smiled often enough at your wedding.”

Strange way to bed a man, bringing up his very recent wedding. Still, it was distracting. Leave his thoughts alone to gather themselves. “Thoughts of settling down, Saadia?”

She laughed again, louder this time. “By the gods, no. No time soon, at least. Still too much out there to be done,” she said.

Drink had her lowering her guard. Not so much that she had lost all control of her faculties but the flirting was becoming less and less subtle, the looks becoming leers. Moth would be lying if he didn’t admit that he was looking as well as giving more thought to what Felwinter said.

“Come on, you two would have fun together. I’d like to hear some stories too.”

“Truly? You always struck me as a man who never tired of his own voice.”

“It can’t be both?”

“So this arrangement of yours…”

Moth’s tankard left his lips and lowered back down to the table. He leaned back. “If you’re hoping for the intricate details, Saadia, you’re asking the wrong man.” It was Felwinter who usually told people those things. But unless they asked with the intent of dropping to their knees for him later on, odds are, he was lying.

Saadia didn’t appear to take offense. Instead, her smile became wry, took on an edge. “You’re a blunt man, Moth,” she said, “It’s refreshing.”

“You’ve met Nords who aren’t blunt?”

“Not to the extent you are, dear. I’m surprised you and Felwinter work.”

The pit suddenly twisted. Moth had to squeeze his hand to keep from grabbing his stomach in surprise. He grunted quietly, “All that matters is that we do.”

“And does this…union of yours. Does it change your arrangement?”

“No, it does not.”

So she responded, “Then allow me to be blunt as well. I plan to retire to my quarters soon. I’d like for you to join me.”

The dog and the child flashed its way through his mind again. He had to intentionally keep his hand from squeezing and ruining another of Saadia’s mugs. “Alright,” he grunted.

Her smile widened. “I’m surprised it took this long. No doubt you’ve noticed how differently I behave towards you.” Saadia got to her feet.

“And no doubt you’ve noticed my partner right next to me as you did so.”

She picked up her tankard. “Hard not to, Moth, my dear. He responded more to my flirting with you than you did.” She drained the rest of her drink.

He didn’t want to talk about Felwinter right now. Couldn’t seem to guess why she wanted to. “Head upstairs. I’ll meet you there.” Moth picked up his own cup, barely emptied, and poured the contents back into the bottle. It was a thoughtful gift and his husband would enjoy it. She was gone by the time he turned his attention back to her, to his surprise. He never took her for the type to follow orders, at least not without some smart-mouthed comment as a response. Bottle in hand, he took one last look around the tavern to find only the bard still asleep in his seat, head angled in a position that he would pay for in the morning.

Saadia’s room was above the cooking area, the door of which Moth closed behind him. He could see from the base of the stairs that her own door was closed and once again, he questioned why he was doing this. This was more along the lines of taking what was being offered, rather than being in the mood. His sexual appetites had fled him a long while ago, hand in hand with his youth. His sister had been joking all those months ago but she had been right, Cyrodiil really did tire him out. Being passed around like meat to satisfy the curiosity of nobles too rich for sense or decency. Even passing himself around because he enjoyed the attention. The last of that was five years ago, burned out just before they had moved to Skyrim. He hasn’t been intimate with anyone ever since; self-imposed celibacy that withstood proposition after proposition over the years before finally being broken because some Redguard-Breton smiled at him. A noble of all things. A mage of all things.

Moth started up the stairs, booted steps thudding so that there were no surprises, at least on his end. He got to the top and paused before rapping his knuckles against the wooden door and entering when permitted. Saadia was there, as she said she would be. No knife to aim at his throat, how novel. He’d be angry about that if her reasons hadn’t justified it entirely. Wordlessly, he set the bottle down on a small table near the door and quickly slid out of his boots. His marriage bond, he placed gently next to the both and got to work on his belt.

Saadia sat on the edge of her own bed, fingers hovering over the one lit candle. “You really are the quietest man I’ve ever met, Moth Drakon.”

He pulled the clasp apart. “Eorlund Gray-Mane.”

The laugh she let out was deep and rich. “Officially dethroned.” Saadia pulled her fingers from the flame and stood. “No matter. So long as your mouth works in other places.”

She was watching him, her eyes following the movement of his arms as he roughly yanked the strap of leather from the loops of his pants. “You don’t desire compliments?” He asked, with a tiny bit of mocking, “How beautiful you are or what I’m going to do to you?”

Saadia’s body was up against his before he realized she had crossed the distance. “It’s not your affection I called you up here for.” Fingers found their way underneath his shirt at the base of his back. Warm but much softer than he was used to. Not a warrior’s hands, hands that regularly struck arms from torsos, heads from necks and spilled entrails into stark white snow but still found a way to be remarkably soft and gentle when they cupped the side of his face or ran their way through his hair.

If Saadia had noticed his staring into space, she declined to comment. More than likely she hadn’t, too busy running her long fingers up over the skin of his waist. She radiated heat and the red tint to her dark skin showed it, even in the low light. Moth was sure she would be warmer in parts further down. He came for a distraction, he might as well get on with it.

The hand at his side came up to the small of her back and slid down. He could hear her breath catch when his palm wrapped around her ass, fingers digging into soft, pliant flesh, tight and unyielding. As she said, she wasn’t here for his affection.

The hand not currently groping him came up and snaked around his neck. Not quickly though, Moth could feel her palm slide over every bit of skin and muscle there was on the way up. And when she wrapped her arm around his neck and began to pull him down, he went willingly, pressing her closer to bring her up to him just a bit.

The kiss wasn’t gentle, not from his end nor her own. It was rough and loud and as distracting as he needed it to be, so he pushed in, tasting the drink still there on her tongue. The hand around his neck slipped down and joined the other underneath his shirt, running up the planes of his chest and bringing his shirt up with them. She broke their kiss to stare down at him, a soft hum vibrating in her throat.

“Like what you see?”

She laughed. She was always laughing at him. “How do you want me to answer? Tell you how beautiful you are?”

He huffed, slightly amused and then pulled his shirt off the rest of the way. “I didn’t come here for your affection.”

His hands dropped to her legs and lifted her up. Saadia let out a gasp, her legs immediately wrapping around his waist. “You’re strong,” she murmured.

“So I’ve been told.” Moth walked them over to the bed, keeping her held in one arm as he crawled the both of them onto the bed and placing her gently down. Saadia pulled away from him, her hands abandoning their groping to loosen the straps of her dress, tugging them down her shoulders until the upper part of it fell to her waist. Moth’s eyes roved over dark skin and full heaving breasts. He could feel himself start to swell and by the way Saadia grinned and started to grind against him, she could feel it as well.

Her arms returned to his neck and again, Moth went back down, tongues meeting before lips did. Another soft moan escaped her mouth into his and the sound spurred him on, his hips grinding his still covered erection over her still covered center. She broke the kiss to let out another moan but keeping him close so that they were still pressed tightly together at the chest. The roll of his hips was slower now, but more forceful and deliberate.

Saadia’s mouth pecked his own and then latched onto his neck, pulling a surprised groan from deep within his chest. She was relentless, kissing and biting her way all over his neck, his chest, seemingly trying to wring every sound of pleasure she could from him and Malacath’s balls, was she good at it. Had Moth going from hard to achingly so.

Moth forced her away, pushing back onto the bed. He took the sides of her loosened dress and yanked downwards, backing up so he could pull it off all the way and have her naked and spread before him. The sole of Saadia’s foot ran up his stomach and pressed against his sternum as his calloused hands ran up the length of her outstretched leg. His fingers reached her core and teased the lips, causing her foot to push against him even more.

The leg moved up his shoulder as he lowered and moved in, wrapping around his neck entirely when he pressed his mouth to her folds, tusks and all. His name ripped its way from her lips when he pushed his tongue into her. Fingers scrabbled into his hair, knocking loose the tiny piece of string that kept it out of his eyes. He ignored it, holding her thighs tightly in hand and keeping her waist pinned to the bed, eating away at her until she all but abandoned her desire to keep quiet. Maybe she’d regret it later, maybe he would too. But later was for later.

Saadia rose up, the red in her cheeks deeper now and pushed his head away. She got to her knees and kissed him, tongue running over every little corner of Moth’s mouth. She broke off and started to kiss down his torso, smirking at the sound he made when her tongue ran over a nipple. He let her go lower and lower until he decided that was enough, stopping her when her mouth reached his cock. “That won’t be necessary.”

“Oh,” she said surprised, “Are you sure? It’s no trouble.”

“I’m sure,” he answered, “Turn over.”

She smiled, displaying rows of bright, clean teeth as she did as he ordered, again with no complaint. Moth pulled off his pants entirely and crawled up her legs. While he had her like this, he took the time to run his hands over her ass again, growling at the way the skin gave to his molding. When he finally grew impatient, he pressed his palm against her to keep her steady. Taking himself in hand, he lined up and pushed his way to the hilt, quite easily due to his mouth’s work.

The air, even inside, was cool. Saadia’s bedroom was not much better but both of them were covered in a sheen of sweat. She was trembling. He could feel it underneath him, just barely but enough to prick him with worry.

The worry was short-lived. “Are you going to sit there all night?” She demanded, none of the trembling in her voice, “Or are you going to do what I asked you up here to do?”

Moth made his answer clear but pulling out nearly all the way and ramming his way back in, earning himself the second good shout he’s heard tonight. He got his third when he repeated the action, almost daring her to mouth off to him some more. Again and again until he established a rough, unrelenting rhythm that had the bed striking against the wall.

She was writhing beneath him, in such a way that Moth knew it wasn’t for his benefit. It was good. She was good. But strangely, Moth found himself rather quiet. At least, it was strange to him. Then again, Saadia was only the second bed partner he’s had in five years. And things were different with…him. This was carnal, both giving and selfish. So different than what had become used to.

Sounds still managed to find their way from his throat into the open air. His own rough sounds of exertion mixing in with her low moans. She propped herself up and twisted around to kiss him, letting him swallow the sounds she made and spurring him on to be just a bit louder, more vocal. A hand pushed against his chest had him pulling out of her and moving back so she could twist onto her back. Then her legs, wrapped around his hips, quickly pulled him back in, the only break in their stride.

Sweat slick foreheads remained pressed against each other, even as lower parts moved with abandon. Both of their gazes were aimed downwards, watching themselves and keeping their sounds between the two of them. Saadia kissed him again, as loud and messily as the first ones. They kept kissing as her hands tightened around his shoulders, as her fingers and blunt nails dug deeper and deeper into his back, as the sounds she made climbed higher and higher.

Her entire body tightened around Moth and she yelled into his mouth, breaking off the kiss to let the rest of it echo off the walls. Moth was not far behind her, burying himself fully and completely until he was spent. They remained connected, even as bodies cooled and breathing evened out. When Moth could no longer hear his own heartbeat thudding in his head, the thoughts he had worked so hard to keep out came crawling back and with a weary sigh, he pulled himself out of her embrace and slipped from her bed.

The walk back home was short. Not that he was paying any sort of attention. Moth had been caught up in his own head ever since the fog of lust cleared, only returning to the present when he was just about to walk face first into his front door.

He and Saadia shared few words as he got redressed. It was implied from the beginning that this would be a one time thing and that he had no interest in spending the night. From what Moth could tell, both sentiments were understood, maybe even preferred. She got what she had been looking for.

It was good. She was good. She was damn good and Moth would enjoy telling Felwinter the story later on. But that was just the thing, she wasn’t Fel. No one was and damn near every experience he’s had, present or past, paled in comparison. Felwinter may be disappointed to hear it but it seemed Moth’s days of jumping into the beds of others were over. He went and made Moth experience romantic love for the first time in his life, here near his middle age and subsequently ruined him for other people. His husband only had himself to blame.

Moth trudged past the fire pit, it’s flames low but still contained within the barrier Felwinter had set around it, along with the many other wards still in place. It had become such a mundane part of his life, he had left the house forgetting that under normal circumstances, he would have put it out first.

He picked up the book from before where he had left it as well as a cup from the dining table. Moth climbed the stairs entered his bedroom and kicked the door shut.

He set down the things in his hand and divested himself of his shirt, letting it hang off one of the chairs for the night. Uncorking Saadia’s gift, he filled the cup to capacity and carried both it and the book to bed.

Moth woke to bright sunlight, a crick in his neck and something covering his eyes. His hand came up and touched the familiar hard covering of a book, his mind taking a few more seconds after to remember just what book it was.

And of all the pages to wake up to, he shouldn’t be so surprised that it was this one. The sight of a young Felwinter and his dog, drawn by a young Felwinter shouldn’t have had him pulling such a terrible face so early in the morning.

With a growl, Moth tossed the book onto the floor and got to his feet. Hr prepared for the day, mainly by pushing all thoughts of yesterday from his head, the good and the bad. He suppressed everything well enough that no one suspected any changes within him when he left his home. He gave his greetings to Adrienne and Ulfberth in front of the blacksmith’s shop before making his way towards the town square. As he approached, his eyes remained locked on the Bannered Mare. Saadia stood out front, holding the door open for Mikael, bringing freshly chopped wood into the inn.

Nothing stirred within him when he saw her. Nothing when their eyes connected. All he gave her was a nod good morning, that and a rare smile, feeling he owed her that much. The smile she gave back held no embarrassment, no mischievous edge to it nor did it come off as hiding a secret. It was just a normal, genuine, friendly smile, if a little surprised that he had given her one first. There was nothing illicit or sordid about what they did, even if it was clear it would never happen again.

The Gildergreen shook some of its leaves loose into the wind on Moth’s way past. It reminded him that Lucia would be waking soon and that if he finished his talk with Eorlund quickly enough, he could be at Dragonsreach by the time she did, so he quickened his steps, passing Jorrvaskr and not stopping to spare them the usual glance on his way up to the Skyforge.

“Moth.” He stopped halfway up the path. Still below, stood Kodlak.

“Harbinger,” Moth greeted, “To what do I owe the honor?” He remained in place.

“Kodlak, please.” The old Nord gave a sheepish smile.

“Kodlak then,” Moth repeated. “Is there something you needed?”

He took note of the way the other man was standing. Not nervous but unsure, maybe even a little uneasy. Blue eyes met Moth’s and flicked away, twice. A third time. Then the man took in a deep breath and asked, “Your talk with Eorlund. Will it take long?”

“I doubt it.”

Kodlak nodded and started back towards Jorrvaskr. “When you finish, come and find me, Moth. There something we need to talk about. Concerning Felwinter.” He stopped and turned back. “Will I see you?”

Moth looked the man over, trying to pull any modicum of explanation he could from his weathered face. There was none he could find.

“I’ll be there.”

Kodlak nodded once more. Moth didn’t move again until he was gone, not in the direction of Skyforge but the opposite. Unlike a hundred other things concerning Felwinter, he had no intention of dwelling on whatever this was, for any amount of time.

Chapter Text

“Soooo her. How ‘bout her?”


“Fine. Her?”


“You didn’t even look!”

“And I don’t plan to.” Lydia wondered if she should turn in for the night, if just to make an escape. She’d have an excuse. They just walked down the entirety of the Seven Thousand Steps. But it was her conscience that kept her here, entertaining her Thane’s foolishness. The man was going through every resident of the Vilemyr Inn, actually trying to find her a bed partner. Shor be praised, the place was livelier than usual tonight because the addled-minded fool was making no attempt to lower his voice as he indirectly propositioned strangers on her unwilling behalf.

The peace talks had not been easy. By the gods, not at all. There was a high point, admittedly. Elenwen being kicked from the negotiations on Felwinter’s “suggestion”. “For her own safety, of course,” was what he had said. There was some truth to it. If something ‘tragic’ had befallen her at that moment, there wasn’t a single person in the room who would mind; Rikke and Tullius included, Felwinter, Ulfric, Galmar, and the Blades especially. Lydia would be surprised if anyone even bothered with a burial.

Still, Elenwen had scoffed at him, saying that Stormcloak would never be so stupid as the lay a hand on her. Neither him nor his rabid, oversized dog.

Felwinter went silent for some time after that and just stared at the woman, eyes never wavering from her face. Lydia could count on one hand how many times he blinked in that period before he just said, in this low, tiny voice, “ Yes. Stormcloak. Sure.”

His tone conveyed more of the threat than the words did. Even Lydia’s eyebrows shot up at how outright bloodthirsty he sounded. She shouldn’t have been so surprised. She’s seen his face drop when people asked about Helgen. She’s seen him in the throes of his nightmares. How he’d spend the entirety of the next morning rubbing the back of his neck, feeling the phantom pain of the part being hacked open.

The Altmer left them soon after that. The threat earned Felwinter vocal disapproval from both the master Greybeards and the Blade woman, though her elder stayed oddly silent. It also prompted the first smile anyone had seen or would see on Ulfric Stormcloak all night. The oversized dog, Galmar, outright guffawed.

The bad thing about high points; things always start heading downhill. The number of times words almost led to blows, Lydia’s hand stayed on her blade all night, even if she knew Felwinter was perfectly capable of handling himself. Tullius kept Rikke in line and out of respect for his masters, the Greybeards, Ulfric kept Galmar on their side of the table whenever it seemed he was rearing to throw himself over it.

For whatever reason, many parts of the negotiations fell to her thane. He had experience in politics, being a Breton nobleman, but he was loyal to neither side. To her thane, even if the Thalmor played a part, it was on Tullius’ direct orders that Felwinter was almost executed. Ulfric led an army of nationalists, using an admittedly legitimate grievance as a cover for bigotry. Dark Elf citizens harassed on the streets, Argonians outright banned from within city limits and some random stranger paying Felwinter out of his own not-considerable pockets to help with problems affecting the non-Nords of the city for the sole reason that they were not Nords, so Ulfric didn’t see it as worth his time. So maybe it was more out of spite than bad decision-making but by the time Felwinter was done, no one left High Hrothgar happy. But Felwinter didn’t need them happy. He needed them quiet. He cared for nothing else.

Afterwards, the two of them got separated, her thane running off on his own once again. When she found him, he had been taken outside by Delphine and Esbern. To speak about...something.

He still hasn’t told her what it was. He most likely hasn’t told anyone. He didn’t speak at all for the rest of the night. All he did was retire to the quarters set out for him in High Hrothgar, looking as if he were about sick all over the temple’s cold stone floors.

So she sits here in Ivarstead, indulging in his antics. It seemed to be making him feel better or at the very least, distracting him. Because it was time. Alduin was in Sovngarde, Felwinter had the name of the dragon he needed and whether any of them were prepared or not, these next few days could very well be his last.

He was pointing out another one now. A tall, brown-skinned Imperial man in heavy armor and a greataxe at his back, broad in both shoulders and waist, drinking and talking loudly with his comrades. She was already shaking her head and wondering just how much more she would be able to put up with. The man was relentless.

“Really? Don’t like the big ones?”


“Your loss cause the big ones are the most fun.”


“They call ’em ‘love handles’ for a reason, Lydia.”

“Thane!” Red crawled up her neck and it was sheer will alone that kept the blush off her face.

Felwinter laughed at her anyway. “Alright, alright, I’ll stop. Just want my housecarl to have a little fun, that’s all.”

“It doesn’t have to be right now, does it?”

The mug he was raising stopped halfway. Then he shrugged. “There may not be another time, Lydia.”

Her eyes turned down to her own drink. It was the wrong thing to ask and it only led to even worse questions. So she asked different ones. “The big one. You don’t want him for yourself?”

It was subtle but she could see the way his shoulders loosened and then jumped up in another shrug. “I don’t think I’m his type. Too much of a man.” He smacked her arm with a grin, “Then again, I’ve been wrong before, eh?” Felwinter stood, cackling to himself, “Gonna go grab a drink from the bar, then we’ll get right back to it,” he promised, clapping her on the shoulder and finding the hand quickly shaken off.

Felwinter pushed his way through the crowd of patrons, passing by the table of soldiers and smirking at the way the gaze of the man in question flitted in his direction, badly hidden and more than once. Maybe...

“Wilhelm.” he tapped the bar, “The good stuff, you still got it?”

“Yes, yes, quiet down.” The old Nord reached under the bar and brought out a bottle of Honningbrew, letting it clatter so he could catch the bag of coin thrown this way. “Maven’s really putting the pressure on. Wants every inn in the Rift selling her product. And only her product. She’s offering extra pay but if it wasn’t for the Jarl, I think she’d be a lot more...forceful with it.”

“Look on the bright side.” Felwinter popped the cork out. “Smugglers make some good money.”

“Aye, and I can join the long list of people who crossed Maven first and then received a late night visit from the Guild. Or the Brotherhood. Or both!”

Laughing, Felwinter turned away from the bar, colliding with something solid and warm. “Ah! Apologies, lad.”

“No trouble, no trouble” Felwinter assured the man, checking his clothing. “And ‘lad’? Just how old are you?”

To his credit, the man grinned. White teeth behind short, red facial hair. “Old enough. You don’t like being called ‘lad’?”

“For the most part, no, but I like your accent so you get my permission.” Redhead smiled wider, shoulders shaking in quiet laughter. “Well, I’d love to stay and have more drinks spilled on me.” Felwinter said, grabbing his own, “But I’m busy getting on my friend’s nerve-” He looked over, and hummed at the sight of the empty table, “She is quick.”

“Well, lad .” Felwinter turned back to him, one eyebrow arched. “You wouldn’t mind if took her place, would you?”

“You want me to get on your nerves?” He asked.

“Underneath them, on top of them…” Redhead pat the stool next to him. Felwinter sat and held his bottle out to his new friend. “Felwinter, a pleasure.”

Redhead tapped his own against it. “Brynjolf. And hopefully, lad. Hopefully.”

“I don’t know how you did it, lad. I mean, even I give Labyrinthian a wide berth,” Brynjolf remarked, “But you went in there! Fought through it to the end!”

“Oh, I haven’t even got to the good part yet.”

Brynjolf downed half his bottle in one go. “You keep saying that!”

“So, I’m standing there, magicka entirely drained by the staff and my sword impaled in the priest,” Felwinter said. He mimicked a pull motion, “I rip it out of his chest, take the staff, take his mask and practically crawl my way to the exit.”

“How long were you in there?”

“The entire gods-damned night, Brynjolf. The sun was rising by the time I got out again,” he went on, “But before I got outside, I get to the door that would take me there. The thing flies open and in struts some Thalmor mage! Says the Thalmor rep at the College, Ancano, sent him to retrieve the staff and make sure I didn’t leave crypt alive.”

“Oh, I know how that song and dance goes by now, lad,” Bynjolf guffawed.

“He’s standing there. I can barely rise to my full height. He’s got a spell loaded, ready to blow my face off and my own magicka had yet to recover.” Felwinter paused to take his drink. “I mean it, Brynjolf, he had himself a real chance of killing me, right then and there.”


“The fool. Starts. Talking! And he keeps talking!” Even in hushed tones, Felwinter is practically shouting. Brynjolf was doubled over the bar, hand over his drink to keep it from spilling as laughter rocked his frame. Sooner or later, Wilhelm would come out to shush them or send them away from the bar. “I was so... stunned by what was going on, I didn’t even think about what I should do. I’ve never seen anyone so thoroughly stroke his own cock like that before.”

“In public. Right in front of you!” Brynjolf crowed.

“Without my consent. Or even without buying me a drink! Can you believe that?”

Brynjolf finally brought himself back down, his face redder than his hair. “Well, I know you didn’t drop your trousers and join him, lad.” Felwinter snorted, spraying a mist of mead into the air. “So what did you do?”

He wiped his mouth. “I sent the fool flying with a Shout. Back out the way he came.” He sighed, “I swear Brynjolf, those few seconds he spent flying through the air were enough to make me forget how tired I was. Then I had to walk back north.”

“I have to ask, Felwinter. Why are you doing this all by yourself?”

“My choice,” the man answered, “The others in the College, they had little formal training in magic. None in fighting with magic. Some weeks before, they had browbeaten the teacher into jumping ahead with the lessons, forgoing safety entirely.” Felwinter shrugged, “I voted that we take it slow, but I was blown off entirely. As if I, more than anyone there, didn’t know how destructive first time casting could be.”

Brynjolf drank deeply again. “I guess they’ve learned that lesson now, aye?”

“No, they learned after one of them failed to cast a simple barrier in time to block a bolt of fire and only lost his eyebrows. Gods be praised for his reflexes or the rest of his face would’ve gone the same way.”

Brynjolf hummed. The small stretch of quiet gave Felwinter time to realize that they were alone at the bar. He twisted to find the tavern in the same state, “You’re pretty deep into this magic business, aren’t you?”

“Have been since I was a kid.” Felwinter kept his face pointed straight ahead but one eye turned. “That a problem?”

“No, no, lad,” he quickly said, “Not at all. I understand the caution though. But you’ll get no trouble from me.” He relaxes when Felwinter nodded. Then the corner of his mouth twitched upward, “Besides, it’s not like you’re my first mage.”

Felwinter gave him the reaction he was looking for. “‘Your first mage’?” He mimicked. Brynjolf said nothing. Just smiled and kept drinking. He was always smiling. Felwinter continued, “You never told me what it was you were doing here in Ivarstead.”

“Passing through. On business.”

“What business?”

“Good business, lad. Very good business.”

Shady. He liked it.

“Not to come off as eager as I actually am, Felwinter,” Brynjolf said, “But just how much longer is this bantering supposed to go on?”

“You mean you’re finally ready for me to carry you up the stairs and have my dirty way with you?”

The Nord’s chest puffed out a little. “Maybe I’m the one who’ll be doing the carrying.”

Felwinter suddenly pulled his arm back. He leaned in and wrapped himself entirely around Brynjolf, chest pressed firmly enough against his frame that Felwinter knew Brynjolf could hear him breathing and feel his heartbeat. Warm breath flowed over the shell of the Nord’s ear as Felwinter lowered his voice, “From all the way down there?”

Now Fel was getting the reaction he wanted and still, he magically elevated his body heat, just slightly. The fire and the sense of indignation left the Nord quicker than it had come. There was a rumble in his throat so small, Felwinter felt it as a shudder in his body more than heard it. “Daedra take you, man.”

“Maybe.” He clapped his hand against Brynjolf’s shoulder, the one further from him. “We’ll discuss it further after I’m done with you, hm?”

It was all well and good to feign nonchalance and even a slight bit of disinterest during the flirting but the behavior had no place inside the bedroom. Not when there were more important things to put one’s energy to.

Like the Nord who barely gave him time to shut and lock the door before pressing him against it. Felwinter found himself pulled down to the shorter man’s level and kissed hard. Brynjolf was shorter for a Nord but clearly no less strong and sturdy. Felwinter’s hands immediately went to his waist and quickly slid further down. With a heave, he lifted Brynjolf up and turned them around, pressing him against the wall, leaving the door behind for fear of breaking it down.

“Gods, lad,” Brynjolf’s chest heaving underneath his own had Felwinter’s pants tightening. “I figured you’d be strong…”

“I’m very good at exceeding expectations,” he murmured against his neck, “And falling completely short of them. Depends on how excited I am.” Brynjolf’s laughter was silenced with another kiss. Slowly, Felwinter let him down. The Nord’s arms, not as large and muscled but still strong, remained wrapped around his neck.

Felwinter broke the kiss and slipped downwards, smiling at the way Brynjolf's chest hitched with every little movement he made. His hands left Felwinter’s neck and moved over his shoulders. Felwinter snorted when Brynjolf got one feel of the muscles in his shoulders, let out a string of oaths and then promptly slipped his hands under Felwinter’s shirt to get at the skin and muscle underneath. Everyone loves the shoulders.

Felwinter was down on his knees at that point, wooden planks creaking beneath his weight and likely waking the person underneath them. He mouthed at the hard line of Brynjolf’s cock and the roving fingers tightened suddenly. Felwinter moved closer, practically pinning Brynjolf against the wall at the waist. He ran his hands up the Nord’s torso, hiking his shirt up and pulling apart the ties of his pants.

“I did say I was eager, lad.”

“Your eagerness nearly blinded me.” Felwinter yanked his pants down past his ass and took Brynjolf entirely in his mouth. The moan he let out echoed off the walls. His hips bucked hard, kept in place by Felwinter’s torso. Blunt nails dug deeper into his shoulders as he moved further in.

“Ohh. Gods, lad.” His hands latched onto Felwinter’s head and began to move him back and forth. Felwinter let him do as he was, relinquishing just a tiny bit of control that he would later snatch back. Brynjolf seemed to relish in the modicum of control he was allowed to have, using Felwinter’s mouth to work his cock while still being kept pinned against the wall, spitting curses in between praises.

Fingers suddenly dug into his scalp and Felwinter looked up to see a breathless Brynjolf waving him off. “Lad, I don’t know what point you were trying to make but you made it.”

“Tapping out already?”

“Let a man catch his breath, huh?” His chest was heaving and every bit of skin below his scalp was dark red. Felwinter made his way back up, taking the edge of Brynjolf’s shirt and pulling it off entirely.

“We can slow down a bit, if you-”

Brynjolf was already shaking his head. “I’m good, lad. Better than good. You don’t need to worry about me.”

Felwinter laughed and pulled off his own shirt, ridding himself of his pants shortly after. Brynjolf moved away from the wall, taking his hand and pulling him onto the bed. Felwinter pushes him onto his back and kisses him again. He isn’t as receiving as he was before, his tongue invading Felwinter’s mouth and making itself at home. Felwinter pushed himself between the Nord’s long legs and gripped his thighs in hand, wrapping them around himself. Brynjolf immediately rolled his waist upwards and Felwinter returned to meet him.

Their lips parted. Sounds of heavy breathing and low groaning floated through the air, mixing with the soft slide of skin against skin. Brynjolf moaned deep in his chest. “Mm, you feel good lad,” he rumbled, that burr of his making Felwinter groan slightly in return. “You seein’ anybody?”

Felwinter chuckled. “Bit late to be asking,” he responded. “A husband. He knows about this and he’s good with it. You mind if I tell him?”

“Spread the good word.” Felwinter laughed and kissed him once more before rising up, mumbling under his breath for oil.

His bag was against the wall, quite some distance but the man seemed to deem it close enough because he suddenly pitched over to the side. Brynjolf yelped, his legs intertwining with Felwinter’s to keep him from falling off the bed completely.

“Come on, come on,” He muttered, straining for the bag. As soon as his fingers were close, the bag shifted and slid the rest of the few inches into his hand.

Gods, this man was heavy. Brynjolf was almost proud of himself for holding him for as long as he did. “Legs are getting tired, lad.”

“Workin’ on it,” he answered, followed by a triumphant sound. He pushed off the floor and returned upright, holding a bottle of oil. Brynjolf’s legs, trembling from the strain, finally relaxed. Felwinter pat one thigh gently, smiling. The heat of the moment that’s been burning since they had met seemed to simmer.

Felwinter’s smile was warm but a bit sad and absent. They went from first meeting to naked in bed within an hour and still, Brynjolf found himself pricked with worry for the younger man. He ran his hands up dark, hairy thighs and squeezed at the man’s hips. “You enjoyin’ yourself, Felwinter?” He asked, his tone gentle and calm.

He popped open the bottle and looked up at him, seeming confused by the question. “Yeah, of course. This is good.”

Brynjolf regarded him for a second more before extracting himself from Felwinter. “On your back, lad.” He ordered. As expected, Felwinter’s eyebrows rose up. Unexpectedly, he obeyed. He pulled back and let Brynjolf to his knees before taking his place on the bed. He looked even better like this, spread out and hard for him.

Brynjolf took the oil from his fingers and resealed the small bottle before tossing it onto the nightstand. He bent over and captured Felwinter’s lips, letting his entire weight rest on the other man’s frame. Brynjolf’s hands moved up and down the planes of his body, mapping every dip, every crevice, every scar; his bias for the man’s chest and shoulders brazenly obvious, if he had a mind to feel shame.

He broke their kiss and went down to the man’s chest. Felwinter grunted when Brynjolf took a nipple into his mouth, his body arching and his hands becoming a vice on Brynjolf’s body. He kept sliding downward until his lips were brushing against the man’s length, smooth and hot against his face.

Felwinter was watching him, craning his neck, his chest heaving like bellows; in excitement or anticipation, Brynjolf couldn’t be sure. What he was sure about was how little he planned to keep the lad waiting. He kept their eyes locked as he dragged the flat of his tongue up the shaft, before taking the entire part into his mouth and sinking back down.

Felwinter let out a loud and impressive string of curses, his hands immediately digging into Brynjolf’s scalp. Brynjolf’s hand ran up his torso to his lips, running his finger over his lips; the full, swollen things. He lifted off, to catch his breath, slowly stroking Felwinter’s cock and watching his facial expressions shift and contort in response. Felwinter’s hands gripped his hips again and pulled Brynjolf closer. He leaned over and took the bottle of oil again, opening it and coating himself and Felwinter in a generous amount.

“You still with me, lad?”

“I’m good,” Felwinter breathed, “I’m good.”

Brynjolf sidled closer and took them both in hand. He gently stroked the two of them a few times before his hips began to roll. Felwinter responded to meet him immediately. They met in the middle again and again, Brynjolf taking his hand away and cupping Felwinter’s face, leaning down to kiss him. The man was a damn delight to kiss.

Felwinter’s face was all hooded eyes and lowered brows. It was equal parts strange and mesmerizing. One of a man unused to not being in control, to being taken care of. A shameme. The man made some beautiful sounds. Sounds that mixed in with the ones he made himself and the quiet, rhythmic creaking of the bed and it was a wonder Brynjolf hadn’t spilt himself within seconds of them starting.

Brynjolf’s only warning that Felwinter had reached his limit were fingers digging hard into his shoulders, dragging their way down his back, leaving marks he’d be glad to think about later. Brynjolf ground against him harder, let the pressure build and build until a sharp groan echoed through the air. Brynjolf quickly kissed him. Not to quiet him, of course but because he wanted all those wonderful sounds for himself, to drink it directly from his mouth. His own end hit him just as hard; practically knocked the wind out of him. His limbs were reduced to water, given the completely ineffectual attempt he made to roll himself off Felwinter.

Felwinter just laughed, a rumble deep in his chest. Brynjolf felt arms wrap around his back and his eyes fluttered closed.

Brynjolf stirred from his lull when the bed began to shift. Felwinter had gotten to his feet, snatching his pants up off the floor and quickly pulling them on. Brynjolf looked down at himself and realized he had been cleaned. “Headin’ out already, lad?” He yawned.

Felwinter snorted. “This is my room.” He fastened the strings.

“Couldn’t interest you in a second round, could I?” He yawned again, weakening his case immensely.

“Early start in the morning. Just gonna go check in on my housecarl.” He looked around for his shirt before deciding to forego it entirely. Nothing Lydia hasn’t accidentally seen before.

“Ah.” Disappointing but it couldn’t be helped. The memories would keep him going for weeks on end anyway. “Well, if it’s all the same to you, I think I’ll stay here for the night. Save myself the septims.”

“Fucking your way out of a simple day’s rent, huh?”

Brynjolf was already burrowing deeper into Felwinter’s covers. “You seemed well satisfied with my method of payment. Or are these claw marks in my shoulders solely for my benefit?”

Felwinter opened his mouth and found himself without a retort. Brynjolf knew it too, with the way his grin could be seen in the low light. “Thought as much.”


“Fair enough. See ya in the mornin’, lad.”

Felwinter stepped out of his room and crossed the hallway. He knocked lightly against Lydia’s door. “Lydia?” He whispered, knocking again, “Lydiaaaa. I’m about two seconds away from kicking the door down and you know I’ll do-”

The door violently cracked open and Lydia slipped through, promptly shutting it behind her. The woman looked haggard and wildly unkempt, as if she had been ran over by a horde of mammoths then picked up and tossed back and forth by the giants that were inevitably close behind. “Are you-”

“Fine,” she lied, “What do you want?”

“Uhh, just wanted to check in. Remind you how early we’re leaving-seriously, are you alright?”

“I’m fine, Thane,” she said again. Still a lie but with marginally less bite to it. “And I remember. I’m usually the one who has to drag you from the bed.”

Felwinter scoffed. “Excuse me for trying to be responsible, for once. It won’t happen again, I promise.”

Lydia rolled her eyes. Then she looked down. “Where’s your shirt?”

“Great question. Here’s a better one. Where’s yours?”

“What do you mean? I’m-” she looked down and paused.

“I mean, unless you somehow managed to gain your own bodyweight and then lost it again in the past few hours, that shirt is a little too big-” He stopped and leaned in, twisting his head to look at her face. Her head was still pointed down, her gaze still glued to her feet. It was her face that was changing. It was bright red and quickly becoming darker. Felwinter’s jaw nearly hit the wooden floor.

“Thane, no…”

Too late. The man was already bouncing on his heels, trying to show at least a semblance of concern for his fellow patrons and not bust out cackling. The smile he was wearing was the biggest she had ever seen. And contagious. So much so, even her own lips began to take an upward turn, no matter how much she resisted.

“Which one was it?” The smile never wavered. “Can I guess?”

She answered quickly, if just to spare herself. “It was…” she sighed, “It was the big one.”

“And here I thought he was looking at me.”

“He said it was to see when he could come up and speak to me.”

“Explains why you look like you’ve been run over by a stampede.” Felwinter’s face darkened so quickly, Lydia was almost unsure she was still talking to the same person. “He didn’t hurt you, did he?”

“No,no. He’s actually very sweet.”

His face relaxed immediately. The thunderstorm smell she didn’t even realize had appeared quickly dissipated. “See, I told you. The big ones.”

She let out a long sigh. “So you did.”

“So, yeah. I came to tell you we’ll be leaving a bit later than planned.” Her eyebrows rose at the sudden switch. “I’m tired, you’re tired and…” the nonchalant expression on his face crumbled slightly and was quickly pulled back together, “We’ve got big things coming up.” The smile he gave was a lot less teasing; warmer, this time. “So get some rest, eh?”

One small chuckle escaped her nose. “Will do, Thane.”

Felwinter took a step back and called out, “Hey, Brynjolf?”

“Aye, lad?” Came the answer from his room.

“Change of plans, I’ve got time for a round two.”

“The gods are good, lad! Get over here.”

She watched him run off, his door slamming shut a second later. Only then did she realize his failure to keep his voice down for everyone most likely trying to sleep. And even as she did realize it, the thought didn’t remain with her for long. How wild his antics had been to her, just barely a year ago.

Just a few days, everything could change again. This trip back to Whiterun may be the last they ever have together. Part of her stung at the thought. She couldn’t shake the feeling that she wouldn’t just be losing a thane or a charge but rather, that she’d be losing much more than that.

Chapter Text

Felwinter’s ears slowly filled with the sound of wind. Bright mist faded from his vision, replaced by pure white light and he felt his body, exhausted and ragged, become weightless.

Then, the weight came back. The winds were frigid, howling now and he recognized the pure white of his vision as cold but soft snow. He brought his hands up and put them to his sides, forcing himself upright and out of it.

Paarthurnax’s bright eyes stared down at him.

Felwinter let out a huff of air and hauled himself to his feet, balancing on shaking legs. Paarthurnax, his word wall and the frozen peaks of the Throat of the World; all told him what he had almost feared to believe.

He did it. He was home.

A small, quiet chuckle rumbled in his chest. It rolled into loud, raucous cackling that one could almost describe as insane. Then, it erupted into a Shout. One that sent a stream of fire from Felwinter’s mouth into the freezing air.

Paarthurnax lifted his head and joined him, his flames flowing like water into the Dovahkiin’s stream. Felwinter cut his Shout short, dropping to his knees and collapsing onto his back, letting himself sink low into the ice.

Paarthurnax hummed, loud enough to nearly shake the snow off the mountain. Then with a small amount of humor and maybe even a bit of pride, he finally said, “Welcome back, Dovahkiin.”

“You’re worried.”

Ulfberth’s quiet statement earned him a look. The Nord sat against the wall of his shop, shaving down wood for arrows to either sell or use himself. Moth knocked the two halves of wood off the stump and placed another whole one. “I’m fine, Ulfberth.”

The Nord didn’t dignify his lie with a response. He just watched as Moth braced himself, brought the axe over and down in one hard arc, getting the thing stuck at the center.

Moth yanked on it and when it remained stuck, he yanked even harder, carelessly. The wooden handle struck him in the sternum, forcing out a small, surprised grunt. He threw down the damnable thing, lifted the half-cut log by its split end and pulled, tearing the wood the rest of the way.

Through the ringing in his ears, Moth heard Ulfberth move. He focused on the sound of approaching footsteps, as well as the wind, the trees, other people. Anything to calm himself down before he did something else as stupid as splitting wood with his bare hands.

He tossed the two uneven halves into the pile, deeming it enough. Ulfberth bent down and picked up his discarded axe, running his thumb over the edge. “Nicks, wedges,” the Nord murmured, “Tiny but they’re there.”

“The head might need to be replaced.” Moth opened his front door and went back for the wood, bringing them in a few at a time.

Ulfberth ran his finger over it again. “You’re the blacksmith, so I’ll take your word for it. I can get it back to you by tomorrow.”

Moth was perfectly capable of repairing the axe himself but still, he asked, “What do I owe?”

Ulfberth was already walking away, waving his question off with a simple flick of his hand. Moth watched him leave and made a mental note to seek out Adrienne. Moth paid what he owed, Nord honor and sense of kinship be damned. Charity was for those who needed it. Moth’s lapse in control did not warrant it.

As soon as he closed the front door, another creaked and then quietly shut. When the other children came around calling for Lucia, Moth had to turn them away. She was worried, even more so than he was, and it was making her ill. And desperate. He knew who she had been hoping for when she heard the door open. He didn’t blame her for being disappointed.

Moth was barely keeping his own fear under control. The wood cutting was just a small break. The last time he truly let his worry and grief overtake him was during the Great War. A Thalmor ambush on their camp, his sister struck bloody across the back. Then an Altimer’s head in his hands, eyes bulging and hopelessly as the Orc squeezed and squeezed and squeezed. The result took Moth weeks to stop seeing every time he closed his eyes. Even longer any time he saw the deep scar stretching across Ghorza’s back from shoulder to waist.

Felwinter shouldn’t have gone when he did, even if he never really had a choice. He wasn’t anywhere near the right state of mind. They had just lit Kodlak’s pyre the previous night. Barely two hours had passed before Moth looked on as Felwinter mounted the captured dragon and took off into the night.

What would he do if Felwinter did not return? Sit through a second funeral, of course, but then what? He couldn’t leave. In marrying the man, he married the man’s family. He’d have a responsibility to alert his mother, see to his homes, raise his daughter.

Their daughter. Their daughter who barely knew her birth father. Their daughter who buried her mother, welcomed her aunt into the home, hoping to have some semblance of a family only to have those hopes dashed in a way that nearly cost her life.

Felwinter gave Lucia the family she wanted, that she deserved and in a few days’ time, she’d find out if that would be taken for her too. She wouldn’t even get to bury this one.

Moth put the last of the wood into place. He turned and started towards her room, fingers brushing against the barrier covering the low flame at the center of the main area. Always maintained, whether Felwinter was here or not.

He rapped his knuckles against Lucia’s door, gently as to not startle her, before opening. The girl was a little ball on her bed, curled up at the center. “Are you hungry?” He asked. She said she was not in such a tiny, weak voice. A far cry from the girl who had to be bought a wooden sword so she would stop trying to lift real ones.

Moth sighed and stepped into the room. He paused at the bed before sitting down, lowering his weight gently so as to not disturb her. He could tell better now that she was crying. Or at least, trying her hardest not to and he was at a loss of how to comfort her. Of course he wants to promise her that Felwinter will return. But false hope was such an insidious thing…

Lucia suddenly broke her silence. “What will happen if papa doesn’t come back?” She asked him and there was something there. Something in the way she asked the question. Something that made Moth’s stomach twist. Still, he could not find it in his heart to blame her, given what she’s gone through.

“We might remain here,” he said in a low voice he hoped was warm or calming. “We might head to Markarth. I can get my old job back.”

He looked down at her. She was still curled into a tight ball and facing towards the wall, one eye turned towards him to ask her question. He leaned over her until she was almost completely covered by his wide frame. He brought his tone down even lower. “No matter what, we will keep moving forward. Together.”

He leaned back. “It’s what your papa would’ve wanted.”

Another sniff. Then Lucia shifted, twisting herself around and moving until her head was resting in his lap and her arms were around his waist. Moth stiffened, hands up and away as if he were afraid of hurting her. He was still so very terrible at being gentle. He was alone in his fear; Lucia only further burying her face into his shirt. He could feel damp spots appear where she had buried her head. Her voice, weak and muffled, still managed to pierce his mind. “I’m scared, father.”

Moth realized his hands were still up. His jaw unclenched, his shoulders began to relax and slowly did he bring his arms back down. His hand fell carefully to her back and almost on instinct, he drew her closer. “I know, little one,” he sighed, leaning his head back against the wall, “I am too.”

Her breathing had already evened out when he said it. Still, he was sure she had heard him and deep down, he felt this was a good thing. To know that she wasn’t alone in her fear. He was afraid too. 


Moth’s eyes flew open and greeted darkness the second he heard the wooden door creak. Taking a heartbeat to assess whether or not there was danger, his eyes fell to Lucia, just barely stirring. Only then did he look up again. Lydia was at the door, wide-eyed and breathing hard like she had been running.

“Lydia?” Moth was already preparing to move the girl off of him, “What is it? What’s-”

“He’s back.” Her eyes were still wide but he recognizes the look, not as urgency but elation. Maybe even relief.

Moth wasn’t sure what he was feeling. Everything and nothing at once.

Lucia had woken, heard the housecarl and registered her words before Moth had. Just a beat of silence passed between the three of them before Lucia all but threw herself from the bed and shoved past Lydia. Moth could hear the front door get thrown open and he didn’t even think to remind the girl to take her shoes or to not run into the night without him; the ringing in his ears so loud, it left room for nothing else but the long walk to the door.

Whiterun’s cool air hit his face, blew through his hair and offered no clarity. In the distance, near the closing gates, Lucia was being carried by a tall, dark figure. A pack tossed carelessly onto the ground, arms occupied with catching and holding the child who had run into them.

He was whispering something to her. It was amazing Moth could not hear what was being said, given how quiet the world had just become.

The walk to the two of them took longer than the walk to the door. The man came more and more into view the closer Moth got and as soon as he was close enough, one shut brown eye popped open. The look Moth received stopped him in his tracks. Felwinter’s arm reached out, grabbed his shoulder in a vice grip and pulled him the rest of the way.

The man smelled like everything, fire, ice, lightning, sweat, blood. Moth only tightened the embrace. “Fel…”

A soft rumbling laugh filled his ears. “I know. I know. Sick of funerals too.”

Moth kept his gaze and slowly leaned in, pressing their foreheads together and finally releasing the breath he had been holding for so long.

Someone called Felwinter’s name. Felwinter pulled away, only slightly, and Moth turned. People were spilling from their homes, their shops, the tavern, filling the streets. They were looking for confirmation. Felwinter’s wide grin gave the crowd its answer.

Moth wanted to hear him say it. “He’s dead?”

“Dead and gone.” Felwinter’s hand gently rubbed the expanse of his back, voice soft but loud and clear over the celebrating crowd. Many offered congratulations but none seemed keen to intrude and interrupt their moment.

Lydia pushed past the crowd and came close, picking Felwinter’s pack up off the ground. True to form, the man couldn’t let the simple action go without comment. “Missed me so much, you’re already playing pack mule again,” Felwinter crowed. “And without complaint!”

It couldn’t be missed the way the corners of her mouth pulled upwards. “Rest assured, Thane, it won’t last.”


“Promise, Thane.”

Felwinter’s palm left Moth’s back. “C’mon. Dragonsreach.” A small snore on his shoulder caught both their attention. “Then to bed.”

Felwinter had nothing to say on the journey. Moth, on the other hand, had a thousand. A thousand things that would’ve become a thousand regrets if he hadn’t come back.

The Jarl needed to be told. In the morning, couriers would be sent to Solitude and Windhelm and the war would begin again in earnest. Not that Felwinter cared. Alduin was

gone, the truce was no longer needed and therefore, the war was no longer the Dragonborn’s problem.

“What of the dragon who helped you, Felwinter?” Balgruuf was still on his feet, having stood to congratulate and even embrace the Dragonborn. “Where is he now?”

“He doesn’t plan on giving Whiterun trouble, if that worries you,” Felwinter said.

“Why do I find that hard to believe?” Irileth, ever suspicious, began to pace back and forth.

“Odahviing came to the realization that he’d live longer if he didn’t oppose me.”

The Dunmer stopped pacing. “You’ve come to an agreement?”

“We did,” Felwinter answered, “He won’t attack any people unless he has my permission.”

“He’ll honor your agreement?”

“He knows the consequences of failing to do so.”

Balgruuf finally sat back down on his throne. “Good. That’s good,” he said, “The guard your dragon almost grabbed is recovering well. It was lucky you pushed him out of the way when you did. He’d be dead otherwise, instead of just a bit rattled.”

Balgruuf’s gaze moved away from Felwinter to Moth standing some distance behind them, Lucia sleeping in his arms. A subtle nod in his direction before he asked, “What is next, Felwinter?”

“Letters to Tullius and Ulfric?”

“Yes, yes.” The Jarl waved that answer off, “I mean for you.”

The humor drained from Felwinter’s face. He turned, looking back at Moth and Lucia. Then he took a deep breath and said, “Tomorrow morning, I’ll be taking Vilkas, Aela, and Farkas to Ysgramor’s tomb to fulfill Kodlak’s last wish.” He turned back to the Jarl. “It’s best if I do it now.”

“Felwinter,” Balgruuf sounded as surprised as he looked, “Gods man, you look as if you barely can stand.”

“It doesn’t matter. This needs to be done. Soon as possible.”

The Nord was very right. It was subtle but Felwinter was practically swaying on his heels. He was sagging under the weight of his own armor. His sword and its scabbard were clutched in hand, unstrapped from his waist after complaints of it dragging him down. But the look in his eyes; it was one of fire and determination, with no small amount of lingering grief. He wouldn’t be able to rest properly until Kodlak’s soul was safe and he was not going to be told otherwise. Not by anyone.

Jarl Balgruuf realized that quicker than expected, the sigh he let out full of worried resignation. Then the man simply nodded. “I understand, Felwinter,” he said.

Felwinter nodded back. Turning on his heels, he made his way from the throne.

Moth’s eyes opened at the wooden creak of his bedroom door. Felwinter regarded him for a second before stepping inside and closing it behind him. He bent down to lean his sword against the wall, grunting quietly on the way back up. “Aela, Farkas, and Vilkas will meet me at the front gate tomorrow morning. We’ll take a carriage up to Winterhold.”

Moth grunted, again pushing away the urge to talk him out of leaving so soon. The last thing Moth wanted and Felwinter needed was an argument. It lightened his heart some to know that someone would be there to pick him up should he stagger. He stood up from his seat near the door when Felwinter began working on the clasps of his armor, batting away the Dragonborn’s hands and pulling on them himself. “I apologize for the lack of a proper bath.”

“Took a dip in a lake near Ivarstead. I’m fine for now.”

He pulled the gauntlets off. The entire set was filthy but there was no point in cleaning it when he’d be back on the trail the next day. “Are you hungry?”

Felwinter sighed when the breastplate loosened and was slipped off. “No,” was all he said. Moth grunted again and lowered to his knees, unfastening the heavy plate wrapped around his thighs and shins and helping him out of them. Felwinter stood in his underclothing, shoulders low in exhaustion and relief. Moth moved the armor against the wall, near the door. The padding of bare feet against the floor caught his attention and when Moth turned, he saw that Felwinter had gotten closer. “Come here,” he murmured, a hand held out. “Please.”

Moth took the hand and instead of approaching, he pulled him in. Felwinter stumbled slightly but moved with the pull until Moth had him in his arms. The first kiss was gentle and not nearly enough. Moth deepened the next one and the next until their mouths were barely taking time to separate. He’d take anything to remind him that Felwinter was here, that he was safe. To finally quiet the questions of “what if” still drilling their way through his mind.

It was Moth who finally parted them, putting a fist to Felwinter’s chest and pushing them a distance apart. Self-discipline has never been so hard for Moth before as it had been today. Before he was a blacksmith or a soldier, he was an Orc. He was no stranger to hardship, to denying himself what he desired in order to reach a goal. As much as he wanted to get Felwinter into bed, to have him for himself, as much as he desired, he had a purpose to fulfill. A promise to keep.

Felwinter, clearly confused but so irritatingly patient and gentle with him, had let himself be pushed off without a word, giving Moth the space for whatever he needed. Moth’s fist left his chest and went down to take his hand, hooking their fingers together. Gently and firmly, Moth led him to the table and sat them both down, releasing his gentle grip on his fingers.

“I’m sorry, Felwinter,” he started, “I know you are tired. And I know you will be leaving us again in the morning but…” Moth took a shuddering breath, “We need to talk.”

His dark eyebrows were furrowed. He took Moth’s hands again. “What brought this on, Moth?”

Moth let out another long exhale. He stared down at Felwinter’s fingers, rubbing his thumb over them, noting the red cuts and the dark bruises on dry skin.

“Before the attack, Kodlak spoke to me,” he finally said, “It was about your magic use.”

Several beats passed and Felwinter was suddenly on his feet. Moth kept his hold on his hand, keeping him from moving too far away. The look on his face was thunderous but to his credit, Felwinter stayed and the hand that held Moth’s remained gentle.

“He. Had. No. Right,” he seethed, his voice so quiet, Moth had barely heard him. Felwinter’s free hand opened and closed continuously and the anger rolled off him in waves. “Fucking old man!” He exploded, “He had no right!”

Moth rose to his feet. “Fel-”

“I told him not to tell you, Moth. He had no-“

“He had every right.”

Felwinter stopped dead in his tracks and turned. The movement had him pulling his hand out of Moth’s, his skin as hot as his face was red. Moth was the one who needed to keep a calm head. “As someone who loved you, Felwinter…” his shoulders dropped slightly, “He had every right.”

Moth leaned down, took his hand again and Felwinter let him. “My love.” Moth’s voice was quiet, tighter than it’s ever been, closed up by shame and guilt, “Why did you not tell me? Why did you allow this to go on?”

Felwinter’s eyes searched his own. For what, Moth could not be sure. Duplicity or maybe humor, a sign that this wasn’t as real as it seemed. When his hand slipped from Moth’s again, he knew Felwinter had found nothing. He started rubbing his own fingers, staring down at them and avoiding Moth’s eyes. He mumbles out, “What is there to say? You had terrible experiences with magic.” His eyes darted up and back down, “Couldn’t be the one to bring that fear back into your life.”

His tone lowered as he continued talking. “Couldn’t live with myself if you started seeing me the way you saw the Thalmor. I…” His fingers clenched around each other. He looked so tired. “I just didn’t want you to leave me. If giving up magic meant you would stay, so be it. Magic wasn’t worth losing you.”

“Magic is completely worth keeping you.”

Felwinter’s brows furrowed. “No. It is not.”

“You do not get to decide that, Felwinter. Not for me.” Moth quickly becomes aware of their rising tones. Then remembers bitterly that the room is soundproofed. By Felwinter’s magic. The heating, the barriers on open flames, security measures; he’s been enjoying the benefits since the day they met and he didn’t even have the sense to realize it.

“Love requires compromise, Moth,” Felwinter argued, his voice quieter as well.

“But never who you are,” he said back, “I don’t know much about love or being in love but I know that.”

Felwinter kept quiet, either left speechless or simply having no interest in getting the last word. Either was an accomplishment. “Kodlak told me that, given your past, you’re not a man used to being loved for who you are but who others demanded you be. Or not be,” he continued, taking Felwinter’s arm and bringing them to sit down at the table. “Your mother’s Breton lord, Skyrim’s Dragonborn, my non-mage. It shames me, Felwinter, to know that I was part of that list; people who claimed to love you, who actually did love you but only if you were what they wanted you to be.” Moth could barely look him in the eye now.


“You tucked a massive part of your identity away for my comfort and I…just let it happen.” Moth drew in a lungful of air, to keep himself from getting too worked up. The last thing he needed to do was to make this about himself. “ grateful to Kodlak,” he continued, “He was right when he said we’d eventually reach a point where we’d either break things off or live our lives resenting one another. I don’t want to hate you, Felwinter. And now that I have you, I can’t stand the thought of you with someone else.”

Felwinter’s head hung. “You know I’ve been with other people on occasion, Moth,” he mumbled.

“Sex is sex. It’s nothing to me, you know that.” Even as Moth said, he wasn’t sure of how much he believed it. At least, for himself. If Felwinter wished to lay with someone, he had Moth’s go ahead, even if the Orc had pretty much lost interest in anyone but his husband. “But when I think of you with someone else, someone who not only accepts your magic but loves you for it…” Moth put his hand to his chest, felt the hard thumping beneath his fingers, “It hurts, Fel. Right here. And all I can think is that it should be me. It can’t be anyone else. It has to be me.”

His hand slipped down. “I’ve never been in love. I don’t know what I’m doing. But I refuse to be the reason your home doesn’t feel like a home.” He sighed, probably for the hundredth time that night and leaned back in his seat. Watched Felwinter stare at his own feet. “Now I’m not saying you should start throwing ice and fire around our heads. We still have a house to maintain.” That earned him a snort and he smiled at his reward.

“I prefer lightning anyway.” Felwinter looked up and met his eyes, leaning back in his chair and practically matching Moth’s form. “Mother’s the cryomancer.” He laughed again and shook his head, “If that’s not enough, she always told me my father took to fire magic with the training he had under my grandfather.”

“Those are the big three, aren’t they? Ice, fire, and lightning. Did you do it on purpose?”

Felwinter’s smile faltered a little. “A bit. Figured, as a kid, my father would find it funny. Back when I had hope he would return.”

Sympathy pricked Moth but this was getting too far off track. They didn't need to start down that rabbit hole. Moth took his hands once again to get his attention. “We have a house to maintain,” he repeated and a bit of the smile returned, “But if you want to warm up the house without leaving your bed or light a candle without matches, by all means. It’s time I started working through my fear. Who better than with someone I trust?”

Felwinter eyes darted back and forth over him, searching his face. For what, Moth was unsure until he said, “There’s something else, isn’t there? It wasn’t just Kodlak that prompted this.”

Without another word, Moth reached back along the table and lifted Felwinter’s old book, bringing it back and holding it out. The man recognized it immediately. “You’re going to explain this to me one day,” he said as Felwinter took the book and flipped through the pages. With only one hand. The other remained in Moth’s. “We’ve been married for months. Lovers for longer and this was the first insight I ever got into Felwinter, the mage.” He brought the fingers to his lips. “Forgive me, Felwinter. For taking so long to realize. I will do better. I promise.”

Felwinter’s mouth opened and closed. It opened again and a tiny bit of sound made its way out before it closed again. Then he laughed, shaking his head and mumbled, “Fuckin’ old man.” For the first time, Moth recognized it as the endearment that it was rather than the insult as it sounded. “If you’re so keen to earn my forgiveness, there’s a perfectly sturdy bed like, right there.”

There it was. Moth burst out in a fit of snickering that if he had more pride, he’d call childish. Despite how sincere and heartfelt the moment was supposed to be, he couldn’t help but find the man’s flippancy hilarious.

Humor didn’t stop him from having a point. Moth said what he needed to say and now, things were clear between them. He’d have him tonight, before he left them again tomorrow.

“Get on the bed,” Moth ordered, standing.

Felwinter rose up right after, looming a good head over Moth’s already considerable height. It was a challenge. It was Felwinter’s nature. Dragons have never taken orders very well.

This one would. “Bed, Drakon.”

Eventually, Felwinter grew tired of his one-sided pissing contest and relented. Quietly, he stepped around his chair, kicking it back under the table and sitting at the edge of the bed. He hesitated for just a second before bending down and pulling his boots off.

Moth followed, moving until he stood between Felwinter’s spread legs. Moth put his hands to shoulders, feeling the tightness still within them. He hadn’t relaxed. Not yet. “Put out the candles, Felwinter.”

Moth expected hesitation; that Felwinter would be uncertain. And it would’ve been understandable given their recent history. But in a blink, every single candle in the bedroom snuffed itself out. Despite himself, Moth’s head swiveled back and forth. Despite the darkness, he could still see wisps of smoke rising to the ceiling and fading out of sight. “Impressive,” he murmured.

Felwinter hummed. There was amusement in it. This wasn’t ‘impressive’. Not for a mage of his caliber.

Moth turned his gaze back to Felwinter, whose eyes had never left him. The hands on his shoulders tightened around Felwinter’s thin shirt and tugged. Felwinter lifted his arms and let the garment slide off and be tossed to the side.

Moth leaned down and kissed him. A hand took hold of his leg and Moth could feel Felwinter sigh into it. He pushed on Felwinter’s shoulders and the man went down to his back easily. Moth followed, crawling between his legs and deepening the kiss. That was always the novelty with Felwinter; how easily he could take Moth’s full weight pressing down on him, where in other situations, he’d have to show restraint, not allow himself to be lost in the moment too much lest he forget himself and hurt someone.

Moth broke the kiss and rose up, quickly taking his own shirt in hand and pulling it off. Hands were on him before he could toss the thing to the ground; large, calloused things that ran up the length of his torso. Felwinter sighed appreciably, as if it wasn’t anything he had seen before. The hand crept up Moth’s neck to his cheek. There, Moth took hold and kept the palm pressed to his face pressing a quiet kiss to it for good measure. If only he’d stay, he thought. Then Moth could take his time. Have him all night and all tomorrow morning. Right now was just as much for his benefit as Felwinter’s.

Moth bent back down pressed his lips to Felwinter’s neck, grazing the edges of his tusks against skin. Soft enough so that blood wasn’t drawn but with enough pressure to get a reaction; fingers digging into the muscle of his shoulder and air escaping Felwinter’s lungs in short bursts. A subtle one but profound. It was rare to see him come undone in any situation and a surprise that it would be so easy.

He continued his way down, over the broad plains of Felwinter’s chest to his stomach; the solid core of a warrior with the softness of a man who could never say no to a sweetroll, whether it was offered to him or lying out in the open, unattended. Moth could still remember, the two of them joking about that very thing. Of all times to recall such a small memory, he does so now, while his throat tightens with barely contained emotion and his heart thunders, all just from looking at him. Two times to bed and already, he had been envisioning a future with this man; he had begun to fall in love earlier than originally believed.

“We alright down there?” Felwinter had craned his neck to look down at him.

Moth rested his head at the base of his stomach. “Still picturing you fat.”

His head fell back onto the bed and his body vibrated with laughter. Moth brought his hands up and started pulling apart the fastenings on his pants. “Don’t poke your eye out.” He heard. He only responded with rumbling laughter.

Moth tugged Felwinter’s pants down and off before working on his own. When Felwinter began to sit up, probably to help him, Moth put one flat palm to his chest and pushed him back down. And down he went, again easier than expected. Moth did away with the rest of his own clothing, sliding off the bed to push the garments away. Felwinter stayed in place, grinning slightly when their eyes locked.

Moth’s eyes left his and roamed downward, taking himself in hand and stroking, his length hardening at little more than the sight of his husband, powerful form splayed across the bed, just waiting for him to do whatever he wanted. Malacath’s fucking balls, he would never get used to seeing him like this. He never wanted to.

Moth crawled back onto the bed and Felwinter’s legs opened to receive him. One he was close enough, Moth kissed him deeply, tongue pushing past warm lips and tongue filling the other man’s mouth. Felwinter’s arms wrapped around his shoulders, his legs did the same to Moth’s waist. Moth’s hands were dragging down the length of his torso, then gripping tightly into his thighs; they were everywhere. A low groan escaped his throat, through the small opening it got when Moth temporarily broke their rough kiss to breathe. His hips hitched on their own accord, rubbing his cock against Felwinter’s stomach and earning a responsive sound for his efforts.

Moth pulled away and moved down, still keeping at least one hand somewhere on Felwinter’s body. His chest or his shoulders, usually. Everyone loved the shoulders. Moth was no different. He took Felwinter into his mouth, suddenly and completely, just like he knew Felwinter enjoyed. The man’s hips bucked and Moth could feel fingers enter and tighten in his hair.

Moth slowly pulled back the entirety of the length and moved back down, letting his tongue outline the shaft. Felwinter practically keened , every muscle in his body bunching up to retain some modicum of control. Both hands entered Moth’s hair and he relaxed, letting Felwinter guide his head up and down the length of his cock.

Felwinter made a lot of sounds. Mostly Moth’s name and curses. The occasional cursing of Moth’s name. And he did it all in that low, rumbling tone that told Moth that he was all but gone. Felwinter pulled Moth up and away from his cock and back into a kiss. Or a fight, though Moth doubted that there was any real difference, given how violent it was. Felwinter hooked his feet behind Moth’s legs and pulled them outwards, forcing Moth’s cock further down over Felwinter’s before rolling his hips upwards. Moth quickly met him in kind, mouths parting to breath moans over each other’s mouths.

Oil. They needed oil. Moth pulled away, much to Felwinter’s vocalized disappointment and hastily rummaged through a nearby drawer. He found what he was looking for and returned, Felwinter’s hands grabbing at him like he had been gone for days rather than seconds. He pulled the stopper out and simply tipped the bottle over, letting the fluid flow over their cocks, pressed together. Then he closed the thing and barely turned to toss it behind him, judging off sound that it had made it back into the drawer.

Moth’s mind, dazed and sluggish as it was, still managed to register the fact that they hadn’t corrected themselves on the bed, moving their heads towards the pillows and the headboard. No, they remained splayed together across it, tangled legs dangling off the edge, neither with any interest in moving.

Moth thrust downwards and Felwinter’s fingernails dug into his back, his own hips rolling up to meet him. Moth wasted no time increasing the pace and the force, their bed rocking audibly underneath them. He forced himself upwards so he could better see his man’s face, bringing one hand to his cheek.

They went as long and as hard as they needed, the day’s exhaustion all but forgotten. Felwinter’s nails dug in hard and a shout erupted from his lips. Moth took his hand from his face and brought it down, taking their cocks together and stroking the rest of orgasm out of him, warmth spilling over his fingers. His finish was calmer, heat spreading throughout his body rather than exploding. It still threatened to overwhelming him.

It still left him gasping for breath. His hand, the one not still wrapped around his length, went to Felwinter’s chest, stroking gently up and down. “So,” he said, “Have I earned my forgiveness?”

Felwinter moaned. “Ask me again after round two.”

“You couldn’t handle a round two.” His fingers tightened around a nipple and Felwinter jerked, a sharp laugh mixed into another moan that had Moth actually considering the idea. Still, he pushed himself off the bed, onto tired legs and shaking knees. Quickly, he located a rag, wet it in a pail of water and cleaned himself up. He returned to Felwinter and did the same, though slower. Felwinter let him, making no move to help beyond moving when necessary. Moth returned the washcloth to the pail when they were done while Felwinter righted himself on the bed, moving over when Moth clambered to rest on top of him.

Again, he wished Felwinter would stay for just some time. He wanted him here, where he can see and feel him. Give him the second round he was asking for. Really earn his forgiveness. But for now, he’d take this. Felwinter’s chest pressed against his and a strong, protective arm wrapped around back.



That wasn’t a response, it was another moan. “Felwinter,” he tried again.


“It’s cold.” Moth didn’t elaborate.

Quiet, then Felwinter shifted underneath him, already trying to remove himself out from under his husband and head towards the edge of the bed. He always chose the strangest times to be so slow on the uptake. But he got there eventually. Movement ceased and Moth could feel the heat in the air. Not so much spreading as it was just appearing, as if the air had just been lit aflame.

“Where is it coming from?” He asked.

Shoulders shifted beneath him in a shrug. “Nowhere. Everywhere.”

“I give you the go-ahead to use magic around me and already, you’re talking like-”

“A mage?” Felwinter hand fell a bit lower and ran over his bare ass, earning a rumbling laugh. “In my defense, the full explanation would put us both to sleep. Not having trouble on that front, personally.”

“Right, right. Get some rest. Fel.” Felwinter’s breath was already evening out. But Moth couldn’t help himself. “Fel? Felwinter…”


No words then. Moth extracted himself from Felwinter’s embrace and rose up. He pressed a deep kiss to Felwinter’s mouth. Just because he could. No reason, no intent aside from affection. Brown eyes peeked under low eyelids and a smile spread. Arms wrapped themselves around him and instead of pushing him away, tightened into an embrace and pressed the kiss even deeper.

Moth finally pulled away. “Get some rest, my love.”

A quiet snort entered the air. “He kisses me like that then says to get some rest. You’re very funny.”

“I owe you when you return.”

“I’ll hold you to that, Moth.”

“I assure you. You don’t need to. Now, sleep.”

There was no need to be told again. Quicker than expected, Felwinter’s breathing evened out. His mouth slowly opened and eventually, Moth could hear the gentle hum of snoring fill his ears and vibrating the chest beneath him, pulling him down into a deep sleep.

A pure ebony sword. The material was extraordinarily rare and even more expensive to come by. Naturally, Felwinter had managed to come across enough to not only make a rather fine short sword but an entire suit of armor. The only other bit of ebony he owned was a whetstone. Kodlak’s, left to Felwinter. One that has decades of use but still helped maintain an edge long after most other materials would’ve been rendered useless.

Moth dragged the thing carefully across Midnight, admittedly less concerned with the possibility of ruining either the stone or the weapon and more concerned the edge taking his own fingers. He sat at the table next to the door, his back to the crowded living room. Behind him, Lydia and Felwinter spoke as she helped him strap on and check over his armor. It was still a mess, shimmering black marred by mud and dried gore, even if Lydia did wake up a bit earlier to wipe the thing down. At the dining table, Lucia helped pack the rest of his things.

Even with the soft bits of conversation, the loudest sounds in the room were the grate of metal against metal and the crackling of the fire, still as strong and bright as when it was first lit days ago. Another thing to ask Felwinter about how he managed. Moth turned to see a fully armored Felwinter taking the pack their daughter held up. A girl, very different from the one Moth held until she had cried herself to sleep, stood there. It was understandable. Many parents have left her. This was the first one to keep coming back.

Moth stood and picked up the sheath, sealing Midnight away. Shoving his seat back under the table, Moth took the few steps needed to put him in front of the door, undid the lock and pushed his way through, out into Whiterun’s misty air and the gray sky of a sun yet to rise. So close to the Throat of the World, Whiterun’s winds still held that sharp, fresh smell he had grown to enjoy while living in the Reach. Enough so that he found himself just standing on his porch, taking lungful after lungful. His gaze turned to the gates to see the Companions’ inner circle. Aela was running through the many knives on her person while the brothers talked. Farkas had both his greatsword and Ysgramor’s axe strapped to his back. A great amount of weight; the Nord appeared oblivious to it. Wrapped and tied tightly to Vilkas’ waist was the witch head, hunted down and collected by Felwinter on Kodlak’s request. The key to his salvation and in a few decades, Felwinter’s as well.

Felwinter stepped out after him, a hand at Moth’s back alerting him to his presence. The other hand busied itself with final checking, tightening the strap of his bag around his torso and later, doing the same with his sword.

When he confirmed he was done, they started walking. “How long will this trip take?”

“By carriage, three days forth and another three back,” he said, waving back at Vilkas once they were noticed. He lowered his voice. “We’d move faster in Beast form but that’s the last thing anyone needs; a pack of werewolves running through the holds.”

“You packed stamina potions?”

“I have my own.” Felwinter nodded his head at Aela, “She’s holding extra. She’s the most careful.”

“Felwinter, Moth. Good morning.” Aela put the last of her blades away.

Fel grinned. “I’m not in danger of dying anymore, Aela. You don’t have to be nice to me.”

“Then good morning to Moth and Moth only.”

“You’re certainly looking more able than you were last night,” Vilkas commented.

“I’m just surprised after nearly losing my lungs in that ridiculous hug.” He kicked a cloud of dirt in Farkas’ direction. The Nord mumbled an apology, not meaning it in the slightest.

“He’s just hiding it better, Vilkas,” said Aela, “Meaning the sooner we leave, the sooner we get him back.”

“And the less one of you will need to carry me.”

Aela raised her hands. “One of them .”

Vilkas jostled his brother, “Just Farkas.” Farkas just shrugged and nodded. He’s had to do it before.

“Harbinger,” Felwinter’s reaction to Aela’s use of his new title was subtle but there. “Are we prepared?”

Felwinter turned, in the direction of Jorrvaskr and the Skyforge and watched the black smoke rise and float off with the gentle wind. “Let’s go free the old man.”

A brief moment of stillness, then Aela, ever the self-starter, began walking towards the gate, pulled open by guardsmen. Vilkas a second later and Farkas behind him, after being beckoned on by Felwinter. As soon as there was some measure of distance, Moth took Felwinter’s face in his hand and kissed him. Felwinter’s arm encircled his shoulders and the other snakes around his waist, embracing him tightly.

Lips parted but foreheads remained pressed together. “Give the old man the rest he deserves,” Moth murmured. “We’ll talk more when you return.”

Felwinter said nothing but leaned in to quickly kiss him again. When he pulled away and started making for gates, their hands remained connected until they no longer could. Moth was sure that the two of them made a humorous sight. Like first-time young lovers, pining after each other in view of everyone. They weren’t young but there was pining; Moth wasn’t ashamed to admit it and given the chance, Felwinter would announce it.

Eventually, Felwinter fell out of sight. Moth no longer had any reason to be standing there, staring at the open gate but he did for some time more. Damn it, he missed the fool already.

Moth took a step back and turned slowly, reluctant, despite himself. He had taken just another step towards the house when he heard commotion from the gate. Surprised exclamations and…barking, Moth was already twisting around.

An animal had come through the gates. A dog, he believed. No, too big. A wolf; a large, ghostly blue…

Moth’s shoulders went slack. “He is not serious…”

The wolf familiar bounding up to him started to run faster. Moth found himself taking a few hesitating steps backwards. He had more experience with Atronarchs and the like; bad ones, only bad ones. Conjurations he was unfamiliar with never boded any better.

But he wasn’t unfamiliar with this one, was he? Moth knew what it was and who it belonged to. So he forced himself to stop. The familiar, quickly slowed its bounding to an easy, if hesitant, trot and then a walk once it was close enough. Then it stopped some distance away and sat down, head lowered and tail swaying back and forth across the path.

“Fel?” He said at the thing, “Fel, can you hear me?”

The familiar turned twisted its head and its tail waved faster but otherwise, remained where it sat. Maybe not under Felwinter’s control but definitely under his orders. What they were, he could not be sure but he knew even bound Daedra were dangerous. Enough times watching some young, terrified, unfocused Enemy mage reduced to a stain by their conjured Atronarch before the demon turned its attention towards others.

Moth took a step forward. Then another. Then one more. Instinct had his heart racing, even as logic told him he had nothing to fear. He stopped before the familiar and slowly raised one hand.

The familiar moved, just to lower its head even further. Moth let out the breath he realized he had been holding and extended his hand the rest of the way.

There was something there, despite the transparency. Moth felt the hair of a wolf but none of the warmth that he expected to come from the flesh underneath. It didn’t feel like the coolness of a corpse either but rather like a breeze, flowing through his fingers.

The familiar’s reaction was subtle. Its mouth spread open into a grin and it began to pant softly. That, combined with the increased tail movement and the lowered lid of its eyes gave off an air of pure bliss. Moth had barely touched it.

He did so further, running his fingernails over its head and in the space behind the ears. The familiar accepted his affections but never pushed for more. More polite than his master, he mused. Moth took his hand back and stepped away. The familiar took only a single step forward and sat down again. Moth asked, “You’re with me then?” The familiar’s panting increased. “Then keep up,” he ordered, starting down the path and smiling even further when the familiar quickly fell into step beside him.

Hand to the door, Moth pushed. The Hall of the Dead has a smell to it that Moth couldn’t place but did not like. It wasn’t just in his head, the way the familiar suddenly went quiet. Moth pushed his way further in, holding the door open to let the familiar pass, dutifully following, despite its uneasiness.

Kodlak was easy enough to find. A rather large urn placed up to Moth’s eye level; simple clay decorated with various depictions of wolves, drawn in Vilkas’ talented hand.

Normal wolves, as opposed to any sort of variation. Common sense; it wouldn’t do to give away the secrets of the Companions but Moth, blunt and straight-forward as he was, felt a more poetic meaning to it. Curse or blessing, they are wolves. And no matter how far apart life may take them, they stand as a pack. A family.

At his feet, the familiar whined. It was connected to Fel in some way. It could feel its master’s grief. Moth brought his hand back to its head and some energy returned to its still tail.

“Rest easy, Whitemane,” he said, voice echoing through the empty hall, “Your pack is in good hands. Their Harbinger is in good hands.” His fingers stopped scratching though they remained placed on the familiar’s head. “I will be better, Kodlak. I promise.” He exhaled slowly. “Find your way home, old man.”

Moth looked down at the familiar, who promptly twisted his head to look back. “You Daedra have limits, don’t you? How long before you fade?”

The wolf just barked and began panting again. “Long enough,” he decided, stepping away from the urn. “Follow. We are going hunting so Felwinter has something to eat when he returns.” They will go alone. Leave Lucia to enjoy her day, free of worries.

As soon as he opened the Hall door, the familiar took off, kicking up a plume of dust behind it. Moth let it go, the corners of his lips tugging slightly at the varied sounds of surprise he could hear in the distance. He took the slower way back and once the house was in view, he could see that the door had been opened somehow. More magic, he was sure.

The wolf ran outside again, a bow and a quiver of arrows hanging loosely from its open mouth. Moth bent down to catch the quiver before it could drop and spill its contents. He retrieved the bow after and once it was secured on his shoulder, he let his hand fall back to the familiar’s head. The wolf’s eyes closed, its tongue fell lazily to the side and despite himself, despite everything, Moth found himself smiling just as wide.