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A Rose for Farkas

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In this story you will notice a few slight differences to the things that are said or the way things are done in the game. I hope you enjoy, and, kind reviews are most welcome.

The late afternoon sun's rays blanketed the craggy landscape in hues of gold and orange, creating a vision of warmth and welcome for the weary warrior as he sighted his home town. He could make out Dragonsreach, which sat atop the high hill to overlook the town of Whiterun.

The day was cold; a typical Skyrim winter day, but the sky was blue and sun was shining. That view, combined with the sight of home and promise of warm food and strong ale, made his sore heart feel glad again. Farkas had been gone for an unusually long time on his latest quest - he had taken on three separate jobs with no break in between, as they had been in relatively close proximity to each other.

He had gotten lonely along the way - he missed his fellow Companions. There was another undefinable ache in his heart too, but he didn't delve into it too deeply. Being a man with simple pleasures and a love of familiarity and routine, he chose not to think too much about why his heart ached, and why he no longer found much pleasure in killing smelly, annoying bandits and silly, shrivelled old draugr. He figured he'd be alright once he got home to his family and some good tucker, a hot bath and a drink or two.

He shook the hands of the guards at the gate, and received warm greetings such as, "Hail Companion", and "Honour to you, Companion" from citizens and guards. There was one particular guard who was always less warm; he always said, "Is that...fur growing out of your ears?" Although Farkas usually ignored him, today he responded with, "Is that...a dick, growing out of your helmet?" and that shut the simpleton up.

Spurred on by the closeness of home, he bounded up the steps to Jorrvaskr two at a time, and stopped dead just before the top step. He could sense an excitement in the air - an almost celebratory feel, accompanied by a new scent amongst the familiar smells of home. The smell brought images of sunshine, warmth, laughter...and something else, something ancient, powerful. Once the initial shock of an unfamiliar smell passed, he pushed open the door, eager to find the source of the enticing smell. And there, sitting among the warriors of Jorrvaskr was the source; a sight for sore eyes.

Nobody even noticed Farkas as he entered the hall - they were all focused intently on the woman telling a story. A funny one apparently, as they all burst into laughter at her words. Even old Kodlak had ventured out of his quarters to be part of it. Farkas stood stock still, appraising the woman seated to the far left side of the table. She was unmistakably Nord with her face and her height, and she had the carriage of a warrior. But there was softness in her features, and a twinkle in her eye that most applicants to the Companions lacked. Most people were wanna-be hardened warriors that ended up dead very quickly, or kicked out for proving to be useless. But this woman, despite her soft face, twinkling eyes and her long, shiny, thick honey-coloured plait, held her posture with the grace of a seasoned warrior who didn't need to put on the big act. She wasn't very young - maybe in her early thirties - but her smile and her eyes gave her a youthful appearance; as though she still found joy in life, as though embracing the world anew.

He absolutely had to hear what held such a captive audience. He dumped his bag and his Skyforge steel greatsword right there on the floor, earning a sidelong glare from old Tilma. He nodded acknowledgment to her, and she seemed to understand that he just wanted to take a minute to see what was going on. He saw Njada get up out of her chair and walk away, towards the sleeping quarters. Farkas decided to pinch her seat before she came back. The mystery woman noticed him then; their eyes met, and he noticed she gave him a very subtle once-over before she smiled a very genuine smile at him.

"Greetings to you. You must be Farkas!" she said in a friendly, strong voice.

"Uhm..." he cleared his throat, "I am Farkas. And you are?" he asked, but Vilkas broke in by shouting a greeting to his beloved brother.

"Farkas! You're back!" said Vilkas, giving Farkas a brotherly squeeze and roughing-up.

This was followed by greetings from the rest of them, and a punch in the arm from Njada for stealing her chair. After the excitement of Farkas' return subsided, Tilma waved to Farkas to get his attention. When he looked over at her, she glared at him sternly while pointing to his belongings which were still on the floor, right where a drunkard was likely to trip over them.

"Oh. I'll be back in a sec." he said, to no one in particular. He gave Tilma a mock contrite look before winking at her, causing her wrinkly old face to break into a smile.

"Go on!" she scolded playfully.

"Ah, you love me!" he said, giving her a peck on the cheek before disappearing down the stairs.

He put his things in his room, swapped his heavy steel armour for a pair of comfortable brown swede pants and a cream cotton shirt, and then washed the dirt from his face and hands. He ran a brush through his hair, thinking how his scalp was itchy with dirt, but the brushing soothed it somewhat.

When he returned upstairs, the mood had changed to a more sombre one. Skjor was relating one of his war stories; the man had had a tough life, but he didn't often speak about it in great detail.

Farkas sat down at the far end of the table where he could get an unobstructed view of the woman as he ate and drank. He realised he never ended up getting her name. He watched her as she listened to Skjor. She has a very caring, kind sort of face, he thought. As a senior Companion, he had learned to be an excellent judge of character. He liked this woman instantly, and hoped that she wasn't just passing through. He also hoped he could get to talk to her soon before bed.

Suddenly feeling self-conscious, he realised that he had gotten lost in his thoughts and she had caught him looking. She held his gaze, a small smile playing on her lips. Farkas' heart skipped a beat, and he blushed. He quickly looked down at his mug, pretending to study the contents. He didn't look back up until he felt a presence next to him, accompanied by that scent of sunshine.

"My name is Rose." she said, touching his arm.

A warm shiver went through him at her touch. He unconsciously inhaled her beautiful smell, and the ache in his heart intensified briefly. Now she was sitting next to him, waiting for him to respond. Being somewhat shy, he wasn't very good at making conversation with people he didn't know, and often came across as gruff and short. He was also extremely tired - belly full of hot food and warm mead, comfortable clothes and the promise of a proper bed - he felt his thoughts were jumbled, and it was difficult to string two words together. He mentally slapped himself before replying, "Oh! My apologies Rose, I don't know where my manners are tonight! It's good to meet you." he finally said, holding out his hand.

She grasped it firmly, giving him her warm smile. He noticed that her grip was strong, but the skin of her hand was soft. Soft, like her pretty face, he thought. He felt an urge to stroke her cheek, but held himself in check - he had never felt the urge to stroke a strange woman's cheek before even conversing properly; he put it down to his exhausted state.

"Kodlak tells me that you are a very skilled warrior, that you are in high demand." she said, making conversation.

"Mmhm. Skjor says I have the strength of Ysgramor - " he snapped his mouth closed, realising how foolish that statement was. He reverted to that statement whenever he was at a loss for words, but now, the words sounded rehearsed and childish. "Um...I'm not a very good talker. My brother Vilkas is a better talker than me." he said, immediately cringing at those words. He was digging himself in deeper. But when he looked back into her face to gauge her reaction, he only saw light-hearted amusement.

"I've spoken to Vilkas already. He is indeed a good talker. He showed me some of his books - I love books. He told me that you used to play the lute but it now gathers dust in your room. A shame...I love music even more than I love books!" she said, trying to draw him out of his shell.

"Do you? It's not often we get people who love books and music wanting to join our ranks. Do you play an instrument, yourself?" he said, starting to relax a bit.

"Oh yes...you put an instrument - any instrument - in my hands, and I will coax a note or two out of it!" she smiled broadly, her eyes twinkling.

"Is that a fact?" he said, rubbing his chin in thought. "Why don't you come to my room and play my lute?" Cringing at his words again, he slapped himself in the forehead. Gods, she must think I'm a sleaze now! "Oh no! I meant...what I meant was...I'd like to hear you play...maybe I can go and fetch it - " He stopped talking abruptly when she burst into giggles. "Ah..." He rubbed his palms on his thighs nervously, wishing he could turn invisible.

"It's alright, Farkas, I knew what you meant! I'd play your lute any day." she said, putting a play on her own words to make him relax. "But not today! Alas, I fear that all this good mead tonight has made my fingers all rubbery." she chuckled.

"That'll do it." he replied, shrugging.

And so, Rose gradually brought Farkas out of his shell and eventually had him talking so much that the words were chasing each other in great floods. Vilkas and Kodlak looked on, amazed at how Farkas had lost his shyness around Rose.

"Is he drunk?" Ria said, catching on to what they were studying.

"Hah...funny thing, I don't think he is!" said his brother Vilkas, who knew him better than anyone.

"Something special about this woman," mused Kodlak, "she's different from anyone who has ever walked into this hall."

Vilkas nodded agreement, and Ria felt her sense of respect for this woman growing. "Let's send them out on a job together, Kodlak." said Vilkas.

Kodlak agreed it would be a good idea, but first he wanted Vilkas to test her mettle with a sword, in the morning. Kodlak and Vilkas could both sense her strength and skill; they needed only to use their wolf senses to know that, but the confirmation was in the traditional test. They continued to chat and observe, but unbeknownst to them, Njada sat in the shadows behind them, seething with jealousy. Aela and Skjor sat together, talking animatedly with Brill and Vignar. Athis and Torvar were nowhere to be seen - the two of them tended to hang out downstairs and bitch about their superiors when they ran out of other things to talk about.

Farkas felt as though his mouth was not his own - he was rambling on more than his brother did at times. Farkas didn't talk this much even with a few drinks in him, and tonight, he was sober. Usually he shied away from beautiful women, unless he was roaring drunk. He just felt so comfortable and confident with Rose; she seemed to be genuinely hanging on to his every word. She even laughed at his silly 'dad jokes' (as Aela called them), which usually only came out around the people closest to him. Rose asked him lots of questions to keep him talking, and when he asked her questions, she answered but generally steered him back into the spotlight.

Eventually, Farkas began to feel the weight of his journey take its toll, and began to yawn. As much as he wanted to stay up chatting to this gorgeous creature all night, he really had to go to bed. He was stunned when he tore his attention away from Rose, to find that only Aela and Skjor remained; everyone else had long gone to bed.

"Well, I think it's time for me to get some sleep." said Rose, noticing his yawn.

"Has anyone shown you where to sleep?" Aela said, overhearing Rose.

"Ah no, not yet." said Rose.

"Farkas, you look exhausted. Why don't you show Rose where to sleep, and go to bed eh?" Aela said, squeezing Rose's shoulder affectionately.

Farkas noted that touch - if Aela didn't like a person, she would be distant and guarded.

"Thank you, Aela. It has been a pleasure to meet you." Rose said.

"The feeling is mutual, Rose. I look forward to hunting with you someday." Aela walked away, and Rose stood up.

"So, take me to bed now?" Rose grinned, and an image popped into his mind - her lying naked on his bed with her long tresses spread around her, smiling her smile.

Being a small bit shy, he didn't quite know how to respond to her cheekiness. He did smile at her though, and put the image in the corner of his mind, to revisit once he was in the privacy of his own room. He guided her downstairs, his hand on the small of her back. She was wearing a simple dress, and he wondered what sort of armour she preferred. He was very curious about her - he would try to get to know her more tomorrow, he resolved.

As they entered the hallway of the living quarters, she gestured to a couple of big bags that were sitting against a wall, next to a table and chair. She reached for them, but Farkas insisted on carrying them. Strong warrior she may be, but she was a woman as well as a guest, and he was a chivalrous man. She smiled at him, seemingly impressed.

"Here is what we call the whelp room. You just pick a bed and fall in it when you're tired." But he didn't feel right sending her in here - she was too sweet, too elegant and respectable to be thrown in with the likes of Njada who would no doubt make her feel unwanted, and Ria, sweet as she was, would probably talk her ear off in an attempt to reverse Njada's negative effects.

Just as Rose was about to walk in there, he lightly grasped her elbow. "Actually...no, I'm not gonna let you sleep in there. You can sleep in my room." he said, pulling the door shut again.

"Oh? Going to show me your lute after all?" she said, laughing.

He blushed furiously, unsure of how to take her remark. He felt a strong attraction to her; an attraction that seemed to be growing stronger every time he looked into her laughing eyes, listened to her musical voice, basked in her energy. He would love to show her more than his lute, but he wasn't going to have a crack at her - she wasn't just some easy whore from the local tavern, she was a respectable, quality woman. She was gorgeous, womanly, soft, strong and full of intelligence. He was a plodding, oafish meat head, so he felt. He was way out of her league.

"Uh...my lute. Well I'm yours - I mean it's yours...whenever you want!" he responded, deciding after all, that a bit of innocent flirting wouldn't hurt. She giggled, and sighed with her head back. Farkas liked the look of her sexy, strong neck and briefly imagined what it would be like to bite it. "All jokes aside...you sleep in my room. There's plenty of room, it's private and quiet." He pushed the door to his room open, and put her bags behind the small bar he had in there.

"You've got a bar in your room?" she said, incredulous.

"Haha...yeah, Vilkas and me sometimes sit in here and chat about stuff over drinks when we don't want the other idiots around. The young new bloods can get a bit tiresome at times." he said.

"Hmm, I can imagine. I have already formed an opinion of them!" she said, kicking off her shoes. "So this bed is big enough for two of us?" she asked.

"Ah yeah, it's new..." His eyes widened when he realised what she said. "I'll be sleeping in the male whelp room." he hurriedly said, backing up to the door. She chuckled, shaking her head.

"I'm just kidding with you. Relax! Hey. Thanks for putting me up in here...I really appreciate it. Truth be told, I nearly keeled over at the thought of having to share a room with Njada!" she said, loosening the ribbons in her hair.

He was left speechless for a moment, mesmerised by her healthy, thick hair. He fought the urge to reach out and feel its softness. "I'm here to help." he said kindly. "You are too respectable for that, and I couldn't sleep knowing that you'd be uncomfortable. Goodnight Rose, and if you need anything, you know where I am." he said, slipping out the door.

He heard her say, "Goodnight Farkas." And then he walked away with his heart in his throat.


 

Rose could have kicked herself. She had flirted with a man she hardly knew, and she reckoned now he thought she was easy. She was indeed respectable, and expected a man to make the moves, not the other way around. This was the first time Rose could ever remember acting thus, and she was shocked at herself. Yes, Farkas is the most handsome man I've ever met, with his high cheek bones, soft, sensual lips, and his straight nose. She liked the lines of his cheeks, and how they became broken when he smiled. She liked his kind eyes, and his deep voice. It doesn't mean I should throw myself at him...but he's such a cutie - he is a bit gruff and tough but he has this soft cute streak, she thought with a sigh. She had noticed him when he walked into the great mead hall, his bag across his back. She remembered how her stomach had fluttered when he looked at her, and how sexy his facial expressions were. Pure man, she thought. She flopped back onto his bed, and a faint waft of Farkas floated up to her nose. She inhaled the scent from his pillow, identifying oil of lavender, orange blossom and cinnamon. There was another smell too, something less easy to identify but no less intoxicatingly sexy - it wasn't sweet, or spicy - but it spoke to her on a primal level, awakening something coiled deep within her. She pulled the second pillow into her arms, and fell asleep with it there, pressed up against her nose.


 

Farkas couldn't get comfortable on the tiny whelp bed. This poor excuse for a bed was smaller even than his old bed, and the pillow felt like a rock. He longed for his time-softened pillow and wondered whether he could sneak into his room and pinch it.

He crept quietly up the hallway, and into his room. The candles were still lit, but she was fast asleep on the bed, his bed. His heart skipped a beat to see that she was hugging his pillow tightly. And damn, did he let his eyes drink in every inch of her as she slept. He took in her beautiful, peaceful face, her long, long hair. He devoured her womanly form with his eyes - her ample hips, long, strong legs. Her waist wasn't tiny like half the other women tramping around Whiterun - but this fact only served to enhance her womanly strength.

He hoped fervently that she didn't wake up, as she would probably first notice the protrusion in his pants. Reluctantly, he gave up any hope of having his favourite pillow, and turned to leave the room, but was frozen in place by her sudden voice.

"Farkas." she said. Heart yammering wildly in his chest, he flung his head around to look at her and began to stammer an apology. "Come here." she said, sitting up. Her face was flushed. She patted the bed beside her.

"No!" he yelped, almost frantic with embarrassment. "I mean...no, I just came for my pillow, I didn't think - " she cut him off.

"Shhh, stop! Come here!" she whispered loudly, like a hiss.

She patted the bed again, and he felt like he wanted to die right then and there. "I won't bite. Promise!" Much to his dismay, his hard-on hadn't disappeared, despite his fright. He was strangely aroused by getting caught by her, his beast spirit putting unwanted images in his head. He sat next to her, and looked everywhere but her. He was at a complete loss now, unsure of what to do, of what she would do. "You haven't slept at all, have you?" she said, laying a hand on his shoulder blade, causing him to suck in air sharply. "I want to return the favour...you can sleep in here, this is your room. I can ask Aela - "

Farkas' head whipped around to face her now, panic on his face. "No, no, I offered you this room, so. Please sleep in here, I just came to get my pillow." he said, garnering his strength to stop himself from pushing her back onto the bed and tearing her dress off.

She shrugged her shoulders, and handed him the pillow she'd been holding. "If you're sure…I don't want to put you out." Rose laid back on the bed, and Farkas draped a blanket over her. "Thanks." she said, snuggling in.

She did look tired, and he was glad she would be in his big comfy bed. "Goodnight, Rose. I'm sorry for waking you up." he said, then fled the room without looking back.


 

The next morning saw Rose with fresh pink cheeks and a bounce in her step. In contrast, Farkas looked grey-cheeked and haggard, feeling like he'd been hit by a running mammoth. He dragged himself out of bed, and nearly tripped over Torvar's sleeping form.

"You bloody twit! Get up off the floor!" he growled, kicking him unceremoniously in the backside.

Torvar groaned, and sat up. The shock of Farkas' outburst was evident on his face. "Wha...what're you doing in here, man? I was sleepin'!" Torvar said, rubbing his bum.

"You have a bed for that, whelp! If I have to trip over you again, I'm gonna crush you like a bug!" Farkas growled.

Torvar, stunned, stared with his mouth open. Farkas never yelled, never lost his cool. Except in battle, of course. He watched as Farkas walked away, then turned to Athis, whom was now awake and watching with a smirk.

"Shit yaself, didn't ya?" Athis said, laughing.

"Wellll he is a lot bigger 'an me." Torvar said.

Chapter Text

Farkas went upstairs, determined to feel better with some hot breaky and a mug of tea. He noticed it was sunny outside, so he decided to take his breaky with him outside. He was greeted by a delicious and surprising sight - Rose, fully armoured in light leather, and standing poised in front of Vilkas, a steel sword in each hand.

Ahh, the test, he thought. This is the most interested I have ever felt in a whelp test, he thought. She looked more comfortable holding her blades than any newcomer he had seen yet. "Come at me, girly!" He heard Vilkas say. Girly? Since when has he ever called a newblood anything but a 'whelp', Farkas mused, as he bit into his beef and gravy roll.

Suddenly, almost catching Vilkas off guard, Rose spun herself around, bringing her dual blades dangerously close to Vilkas' neck. Vilkas found himself throwing up his shield in defence, and never got the chance to strike at Rose before her next flurry. She was very quick; she used momentum as well as strength to ensure no other blade, or shield, could stop that momentum.

Vilkas was shocked - in less than a minute, this newcomer had managed to make him change his usual strategy. When she came towards him for her next flurry, he feinted, and then ducked. She met thin air, and he grabbed her around her ankles to tip her onto her back. She fell with a heavy thud, causing all the air to escape from her lungs.

Vilkas laughed triumphantly, but Farkas wasn't laughing. He suppressed the urge to run to her and help her up; that was for Vilkas to do. He did, however, give his brother a bollocking for knocking her down like that.

"Cheap move, brother!" He growled, earning a confused look from Vilkas.

Vilkas reached his hands out to Rose, and she took them. He pulled her up, and asked if she was okay. Smiling as usual, she replied, "Got a sore bum now, but I'll be alright!"

Vilkas, though he was a capable warrior and smart, had a bit of trouble relaxing around people. The scowl he kept on his face wasn't a true indication of his nature; it was merely a front, designed to keep people at arm's length. Most people annoyed him to a degree; he felt that not many understood him. He was a very deep and passionate man, but kept his virtues well-guarded; only Farkas - and Kodlak - knew his brother's true nature. Well, and Aela too, but she had trouble appreciating this intensely deep side, believing that a man should only have the fire for blood and battle in his heart; like Skjor. All that man cared about was battle, more battle, and glory. Vilkas looked up to Skjor as a warrior, but he secretly felt that as a person, Skjor was a bit of a wanker.

Vilkas did like Rose, however. She seemed strong and worthy of her destiny. His wolf liked her too; it had placed images of family and comfort in his mind. He saw, as well as sensed the way she and his brother had looked at one another, and that made him smile. He loved the fact that she had instantly broken through Farkas' gruff exterior, where other people had been trying for years. Farkas was an excellent judge of character - if he liked a person, then Vilkas would find himself to be less...vicious towards that person.

Feeling the need to stir her up a bit, Vilkas handed her his sword. "Here. Take my sword up to Eorland," he said, "and be careful, it's probably worth more than you!" He teased, winking at her.

"Nice try, little man. My hair is probably worth more than your sword!" She retorted playfully, her eyes twinkling mirthfully.

"Get!" Vilkas stamped his foot, pointing to the stairs leading up to the great forge.

Rose laughed, and jogged away. "Tosser." Rose mumbled under her breath, though she was smiling.

Vilkas turned to Farkas, who was glowering darkly. "What's wrong with you today, Farkas?" Vilkas said.

"Ah I dunno, I suppose I didn't sleep very well last night." He said, sighing.

"Could it have anything to do with the lovely Rose, by any chance?" Vilkas said.

"No." Farkas lied, cheeks flaming.

"Ah come now Farkas, my soft-hearted brother." Vilkas said, placing a hand on his brother's shoulder. "You are lonely, is all. It's been a long time since you've lain with a woman; months in fact! Maybe you should go to the Bannered Mare and -"

Farkas shook his head vigorously. "No...no, those cheap floozies bore me to death." He broke into a hilarious impersonation of said floozies - hands on hips, arse out. "Ooh, Farkas! Do it to me, yeah, right there! Oh you're sooo big!"

Vilkas burst into laughter, thinking Farkas was spot-on with his impressions. He loved his brother; he always made him laugh with his impersonations of people and his silly jokes.

Rose was very curious about the legendary Skyforge, and its legendary smith, Eorland Grey-Mane. She saw the man bent over his grindstone, humming softly as he worked. She cleared her throat, and was met with an irritated stare. She didn't let it upset her though - she was used to grumpy old Nords like him. After all, her own father was one, and she loved him fiercely.

She introduced herself, and gave him Vilkas' sword. Hearing a hint of annoyance in Rose's voice, Eorland offered her some advice, "Don't let people order you around. Be strong." he said, in his gruff tone.

"Thanks, Eorland. I'll take your advice on board." She took a moment to ponder the great Skyforge.

Eorland noticed her expression of awe, and he couldn't help but smile proudly. "Would you like to know some history about the Skyforge?" he offered.

"I would really love that." Rose sat down on the warm stone, being careful not to sit on freshly-made weapons.

Half an hour later, Farkas wondered up the winding path to see what was taking Rose so long, and he found Eorland and Rose chatting like old friends while Eorland showed her how to use the grindstone. Well bugger me - he's actually smiling, thought Farkas. His heart swelled with pride for Rose - it seemed she melted hearts wherever she went.

Eorland spotted Farkas first. "Oh, here is Farkas. He is also very skilled in smithing, I taught him myself." He said, proudly. He was very proud of the Companions, though he wasn't one himself. He had a soft spot for the twins, as they reminded him of his own sons. With a sad sigh, he thought of his son Thorald, who was missing, presumed dead.

Rose caught the sad expression, but didn't press him about it. "Hi, Farkas." She said, blushing. She felt a bit embarrassed about her flirtatious behaviour from the previous night, and hoped he didn't think any less of her.

"That was a good whipping you gave to my brother. He is a very skilled warrior - I've never seen him struggle like that against a whelp!" He laughed, winking at her.

Rose's blush deepened further as a cascade of butterflies were let loose in her lower abdomen. Farkas related the details to Eorland, and Rose grinned at his embellished version. Eorland shook his head, chuckling at Farkas' impersonation of Vilkas panicking. The fact that Farkas was acting like this in front of a near-stranger wasn't lost on him, either.

Farkas realised that they were taking up an awful lot of Eorland's time, so he began to draw Rose away. "We'll see you later, Eorland." he said.

"Oh. A moment, please. Would you take this shield to Aela? I've really got to get back home to the missus." Eorland said.

"No worries." Rose took the shield, and they bade Eorland goodbye.

Farkas and Rose made their way slowly down the steps, and back into the training yard. Vilkas was sitting at one of the tables, his back to the table and legs stretched out in front of him. Njada was standing next to him with her foot on the seat. They were talking about their favoured combat styles.

When Njada saw Rose approach, she glared hotly at her. "What're you lookin' at?" She spat.

Rose's face fell, embarrassment flushing her cheeks deep red. "Just coming to say hello, that's all. Haven't really had a chance to chat with you yet."

"Well that's because I don't want to talk to you, newblood. Now piss off." Njada stood with her arms crossed, her face set in a nasty scowl.

Shocked and speechless at Njada's uncalled-for rudeness, she turned away and headed inside.

Farkas glared at Njada and hissed, "You're a bitch, Njada." He followed Rose inside, determined to put her mind at ease. He heard Vilkas begin to tell Njada off.

"Never mind Njada, she's like this with everyone, especially new people. Don't take it to heart. She's got some serious issues, and she j - "

Rose waved her hand dismissively. "It's alright, Farkas. Next time she makes me feel like a fool, I'll break her nose." She huffed.

Farkas knew bravado when he heard it, but the tears in Rose's pretty green eyes gave her hurt away. For such a strong warrior she's mighty sensitive, he thought. Still, his heart ached for her, and he suppressed the urge to stroke her cheek. "Come on, Rose. Let's go to the Bannered Mare and get pissed, whaddya reckon?" Farkas said, patting her shoulder.

Rose opened her mouth to speak, but was interrupted by Torvar, "Only if I can come too, all this sobriety is givin' me the heebie-geebies!"

Rose sipped her mead slowly, content to watch Farkas and Torvar try to out-drink each other. Torvar was antagonising Farkas; Farkas was trying to explain something, and Torvar (whose brain cells were damaged beyond repair, from years of heavy drinking) couldn't get his inebriated head around what Farkas was saying. The harder Farkas tried to explain, the less Torvar understood it. Her somber mood lightened by increments, a smile spreading across her features as Torvar continued to frustrate Farkas.

She watched, amused, as Farkas' face became redder and redder with frustration, until the man lost his temper and slammed his tankard on the table. Spoons and platters jumped and rattled, and the other patrons went quiet for a moment before resuming their conversations.

"Shor's bones, boy! What did I tell you?" he'd shouted, and Rose burst into laughter at the sight of Torvar's mouth flapping uselessly.

"Well you're not makin' a lot of sense." Torvar whimpered.

Farkas turned to Rose and winked playfully at her, before turning back to Torvar and growling at him some more until Torvar was well and truly squirming in his seat. Rose was really cracking up by now, tears of laughter streaming down her face.

Farkas was happy to see that Rose had forgotten all about Njada's nastiness. Mission accomplished, he thought. She really is beautiful, and her smile makes everything alright.

The next fortnight was spent in training with Farkas or Vilkas; Farkas showed her how to make the most of wearing heavy armour, and how to obtain maximum manoeuvrability, and Vilkas giving her tips on effectively wielding a two-handed weapon. She ran a few minor errands (though Farkas had complained that those jobs were beneath her station, Kodlak had insisted on it so she could get used to her role as a Companion), and brushed up on her archery skills with Aela in the training yard. She also spent a good deal of time learning from Eorland; he seemed to like the girl, and confided in her about his lost son. He said she was welcome to talk to his wife when she was next down at the market.

Farkas and Rose grew very fond of each other, but both were too afraid to show it, for different reasons. Farkas believed he wasn't good enough for her, and Rose felt that she was too bookish, too tomboyish. She felt that if she was more delicate and girly, he would like her. She didn't have a lot of confidence - she had been rejected repeatedly as a teenager; she was always the tall, gangly and loud one. She was never ugly, but the boys always preferred the small, dainty girls. Once, as a teen, Rose had fallen head over heels in love with a certain boy. They were great mates, always together. Rose had hoped at every moment that he would kiss her, but he never did. One day, when they were old enough, they had gotten drunk. They had gotten carried away in the heat of the moment and had ended up having sex. When they woke in the morning, she had naively thought that he would see her as more than a friend, but he didn't. He'd reacted with something bordering on horror, breaking her heart. "Rose, you are a good mate. It's a shame you're a girl, because you'd be good as a bloke." He'd said, and her tenuous confidence shattered. It was the first of her heartbreaks - and the last heartbreak wasn't just about a young woman getting rejected; it went much deeper than that./p>

She kept her heart locked away; she would allow a man to bed her from time to time - she was a woman with an appetite after all, but that's all it would amount to - a night of physical release and relief, and the next morning would see her sending the man on his merry way. Men noticed her alright, but she put it down to the fact that she was fit and long-legged, with a witty sense of humour and a brilliant smile. She knew that if they got to know her, they would find her to be boring and tedious.

But Farkas wormed his way into her heart bit by bit; sexual attraction making way for something more, something that warmed her heart, that picked at the lock she had placed around it. She tried her very best to put the flame of feeling out, determined to protect her fragile heart. Plenty of women made eyes at Farkas, he could have his pick of any petite, effeminate lady. If Farkas rejected her, she would never recover. So, she treated him as a mate, and they slipped into a solid friendship like a pair of comfortable slippers.

One afternoon, after training together, the two of them sat at one the outdoor tables, sipping mead and demolishing the snacks that Tilma had brought out for them. The sun was almost setting, and the late afternoon's rays filled Rose with a nostalgic feeling. She sighed, feeling content. This is one of those moments that will always stick in my mind, that I will always look back on with fondness, thought Rose.

Unbeknownst to her, Farkas - sentimental like her - was feeling the same.

He was tearing bits of bread off a freshly baked roll, chewing absently. Rose eyed the roll, noticing how soft and fresh it looked. She nudged Farkas, and raised her eyebrows at the roll, her mouth open. He tore off a bit and popped it into her mouth, making her laugh. He smiled, loving that he could make her laugh so easily. This went on until the roll was finished, with Farkas occasionally teasing her by putting the bread on her lips and then quickly shoving it in his own mouth. The last piece almost ended up that way, but Rose grabbed his hand and quickly bit into the bread, unintentionally grazing his fingers with her teeth. He felt a hot surge of desire at the touch, and growled softly at her. She chewed the bread, but her smile was replaced by a sexy little smirk. Farkas stared at her, shaking his head slowly.

"What?" Said Rose.

"Come on, woman, it's getting dark out here. You shouldn't be lurking in the dark with strange men!" He joked, standing up.

"Yes, you are strange, Farkas!" Laughed Rose.

The next day, Farkas approached her. "Skjor wants a word with you," Farkas said, "he's got a big, proper job for you." Rose nodded, and felt a thrill of excitement at the prospect of going on her first proper mission.

Skjor told her that instead of sending her on 'shitty whelp jobs that don't require a great lot of skill', he was going to send her to Dustman's Cairn, where she would go up against Silver Hand gang members, as well as draugr and skeevers. She would retrieve the lost fragments of Wuuthrad, and return it to Jorrvaskr where it belonged. He would send Farkas along with her, to make sure she was honourable, and also to keep her safe. She thanked him, and walked to Farkas' room to pack a few things for the journey. She could hardly keep the smile from her face - she would be alone, with sexy, funny Farkas, for at least a day and a night.

He and Rose would be leaving the following morning. That night, the Companions sat around the big table and feasted on Tilma's lovely roast dinner, and lots of mead and ale. Farkas felt a bit irritated at the fact that Vilkas seated himself in the chair next to Rose that Farkas wanted to sit in, and even more irritated when Athis plonked himself into the chair on the other side of her. Torvar was on the other side of Farkas, crapping on about how the mead down at the Bannered Mare was nicer than 'this rubbish'. Farkas half-heartedly listened, uninterested but not bothered to tell the boy to nick off. He was too busy watching Rose and Athis talking animatedly. He felt a surge of hot jealousy watching how Rose laughed and how Athis kept on touching her shoulder. He knew Athis wasn't really a touchy-feely person, except with a woman he wanted. He felt close to rage when he saw Athis rub his thumb on Rose's chin, and was about to get up and tell that bloody elf to get his hands off when Aela grabbed his arm.

Aela had been watching Farkas - she knew exactly what was going on in his heart. She also didn't want him to act irrationally - Rose was safe from Athis; Aela had also seen how Rose always looked at Farkas.

"Farkas, come downstairs. I have something for you." She said.

Farkas obediently followed her downstairs, glancing over his shoulder at Rose and Athis until they were out of sight. "What is it, Aela?" Farkas said gruffly, when they arrived in Aela's room.

Aela unlocked her little strongbox, and with a sigh of awe, brought out a velvety pouch tied up with a ribbon. "I have been hanging onto this, waiting for the right person to give it to. It belonged to my mother, and her mother before her. It's an Amulet of Mara. Skjor's not the marryin' type, and I really can't see myself with anyone else." She closed his hand around the pouch, and pecked him lightly on the cheek. "I have seen the way you look at Rose, and how she looks at you. I've never seen you so happy and relaxed around a woman before." And that was all she said, all she needed to say.

To say too much to Farkas - to push him on a subject, was to make him switch off altogether. She smiled to herself. It was about time that man found somebody to love - she knew he was deep enough that he wouldn't fall in love with the first woman who looked his way, and of those, there had been plenty. He would make a fine husband.

"Aela...this is...I don't know what to say." He said, moved.

"You don't have to say anything, little brother. Just take it, and you will know when the time is right to give it to the woman you love." She said, winking.

Farkas loved how she called him 'little brother'. After all, she was the closest thing to a sister he would ever have. He gave her a quick hug, and put the pouch in his pocket.

Farkas was extremely happy about the prospect of having Rose all to himself. He was nervous though - he would have to try very hard to swallow his growing love for her. He couldn't let himself believe that Aela was right - he chose to believe that she liked him, considered him a friend; but she would probably run a mile if he made a move on her. He was scared - he had never been in a serious relationship before. Not that he didn't have the capacity to love; he was just very selective about whom he let into his heart: the special woman would have to be absolutely The One, and she would have to be able to change his life, his routine, without upsetting him too much. His bed had once been open for any wench with a nice pair of tits, but not his life, his heart.

It was hard with Rose, though - whenever he was around her, and whenever she smiled at him, the ache in his heart subsided. But when he wasn't near to her - like the time when Aela sent her to clear out some bears out of a farmhouse out of town, she had been gone all day and into the night, and he'd sat in the tiny, uncomfortable whelp bed and fretted and pined for her until he heard the familiar chink of her armour as she walked down the hallway. He had missed her ready smile, her quick humour and her caring nature. He had stayed awake, using his wolf hearing to listen for the sound of her removing her armour and dropping it on the floor. He had felt himself become aroused at the thought of her without her armour on, but quickly banished the thoughts. Banishing those kind of thoughts were increasingly difficult - though he was a man of simple, homely pleasures, he was also a passionate man, with a burning sexual appetite - which may or may not have had something to do with the beast blood. Vilkas often joked that Farkas didn't get laid enough, but Farkas had decided to abstain from sleeping with common tavern wenches after rumours of strange illnesses being contracted. He had to make do with pleasing his own self, but he couldn't do that in this shared room.

The next morning, Farkas went to his room to gather some items for the trip. He sensed that Rose was in there, so he tapped softly on the door.

"Come in, Farkas." She said, guessing it was him. She smiled broadly when he entered, warming his heart.

"Good morning Rose, did you sleep well?" He said.

"Yes...ah, no. I didn't sleep a wink! I'm too excited, and a tiny bit frightened!" She said, holding her hands up and making them shake.

"Ah you don't need to worry, I'll protect you." He replied, his tone kind and soft.

His handsome face and strong body alone were enough to make her weak at the knees, but his voice and his mannerisms sealed the deal. She felt like throwing her arms around him, but knew that if she did, it would probably make him uncomfortable. She was confused about his responses to her - sometimes he would gaze at her for longer than a friendly time, or he would go out of his way to do something thoughtful for her. Then other times, he would seem aloof, and would turn away from her smile. So instead, she simply smiled, and returned to packing some healing and stamina potions in her bag. He did the same, and soon enough, they were ready to go.

After saying goodbye to their fellows, they made their way down the steps of Jorrvaskr, and past the famous Gildergreen. The sky was grey, and the soft rain might soon become a heavy downpour, but it didn't deter them. They made their way through the market, stopping only to buy some extra food for the trip. As they walked past the still for-sale Breezehome, Rose commented that she'd really love to buy the place when she had the money.

"See that little patch of grass there? I'd put a tiny little garden in there. And just there, next to the door? I'd have a table and two chairs to sit at, so we could talk to the passers-by." She said, looking up at him.

"We? Who's we?" Said Farkas. Rose blushed deeply, and giggled.

"Oh, me and...someone." She said, nudging him in the he ribs. "Come on, who?" Please say me, he thought.

Adrianne Avenicci spotted them then, and came trotting over. Rose's face broke into a smile. She really liked and admired the woman - she was up against the famous Eorland and his famous Skyforge, but she still kept her head above water. It was lucky that she had the guard's quarters so close to her shop - they usually came to her rather than going all the way to Eorland as it was much easier. And cheaper.

"Hello, Adrianne! How goes it?" She said, taking the woman's hand into her own.

"Things are good, thanks for asking. I wanted to say thanks for your help the other day - I have something for you." She opened the parcel that she'd been carrying under her arm, to reveal some ebony ingots. "I know you like ebony, so I thought you could use these to improve your blades." She said, proffering the parcel to Rose.

"Oh Adrianne, that's very sweet of you. Thank you! You didn't need to do that though, I am just happy that I could help." Rose said, smiling.

Adrianne noticed then that Rose and Farkas carried packs. "Seeing as how you're going someplace, I will keep them at my shop for you." Adrianne said, wrapping the ingots up again. Rose embraced her, and thanked her once again.

They made their way out of the gates, and down the path. "So what did you help Adrianne with?" Farkas asked, curious.

"Oh...relationship advice. But don't tell anyone." Rose said, knowing that Farkas would keep a secret.

"Are they having problems?" Farkas said, wondering. He always thought they had a sound relationship; they always looked so happy.

"Ah...they are happy, it's just that...Adrianne wanted some tips on um...spicing things up a bit." she said, blushing.

Farkas laughed, noticing her blush. It was time to make her squirm, he decided. "So...spicing things up, in the bedroom? How exactly?"

Rose looked up at him, eyes wide. "I shouldn't have told you!" She said, slapping his arm.

"Come on, Rose! How does our mighty Dragonborn spice things up, hey? Did you teach her a Shout?" Farkas was having a great time stirring her up.

"Shut your neck, Farkas. I'm not talking about this to you." She growled, her face very red now.

"To me? What's that supposed to mean? I just wanna know what tips you gave her." Despite the playfulness in his demeanour, Rose detected a different undertone in his voice which made her stomach flutter, and she became flustered.

"Look. I don't think it's appropriate to tell you what things Adrianne did to her husband to get him to be more...agreeable. I don't want you thinking about Adrianne with her lips around his -" she snapped her mouth shut, realising she had inadvertently blurted out some of the truth, all because she truly didn't want Farkas to fantasise about the pretty blacksmith.

"Ah Rose, I have known that woman and her husband for a long many years. She's the last person I'd be fantasising about." Farkas said, his tone soft, and serious now. Rose felt a stab of hot desire shoot downwards through her when she saw how he looked at her, a certain hunger in his eyes.

Rose chewed her lower lip, and looked away. She didn't want to believe that his hungry look was directed at her - surely a less plain, more delicate woman would be more desirable? She thought. For the first time, there was an uncomfortable, heavy silence between them. After a while, Farkas still didn't know what to say to break the tension, so he hummed a tune instead. Rose's eyes lit up - she had heard him only once before - Rose had replaced the strings on his lute and tuned it for him, hoping that he would play it. He had been too shy to have a go at it in front of her, so she'd left it in his room. She followed him, unseen, to the outside of his room and listened from the shadows. Please, please please, she'd thought. Then finally, she heard him pluck a few tentative notes. He'd started off humming softly and then when he grew more sure of his ability, he had started singing words and strumming with more confidence. Rose had closed her eyes, letting his feelingful strumming and his rich voice wash through her. She listened now, loving the sound of his deep voice. After a few minutes, she joined in the humming, harmonising. Farkas smiled warmly at her, and the tension was gone.

Chapter Text

By the time they had nearly reached their destination, the sky had begun to darken considerably, and it wasn't just because night was approaching.

"We had better hurry. I don't see any shelter around here." He said, looking up at the sky.

They broke into a trot, trying to beat the coming rain. They failed. The sky opened up, and within minutes, they were both soaked. The rain had worked its way between the joins in their armour to trickle down their bodies and make them itchy.

Before opening the door, Farkas listened and smelled with his wolf senses, but couldn't detect any immediate nearby life behind the door. When they got inside, Rose was surprised to find the large room empty despite a glowing campfire, some bedrolls and a few belongings scattered around. Farkas warned her to be careful.

"Let's lock that door over there, and get dry by this fire." She suggested.

Farkas barred the door, and if someone were to approach, he would sense them coming. "Good idea." He said, unbuckling his chest plate. He turned his back to Rose, aware that a woman needs privacy when undressing. He tried not to imagine her stripping off her armour, the soft curves of her breasts and the swell of her hips.

Rose was feeling the same, but being the sneaky devil that she was, couldn't resist a peek over her shoulder. She saw him pull his undershirt up over his head, revealing his strong, broad back and shoulders. Suppressing a groan, she turned away. She quickly stripped her own damp undershirt, and threw her blanket around her shoulders. Farkas did the same. She pulled a cloth out of her bag, and wiped the inside of their pieces of armour.

Next, she hung their underclothes near the fire to dry. Rose chuckled softly as she hung up Farkas' undies.

"What's so funny?" He said.

"Nice jocks, mate!"

"Not as nice as yours." He mumbled.

"Pardon?"

"Ah, nothin'. Hungry?" He said, quickly changing the subject.

He pulled some cured fish, bread and cheese from his pack, and put together a slap-dash sandwich for Rose. She smiled appreciatively, and bit into it hungrily. She loved how Farkas always took care of her, ever considerate and kind. Though there was no butter or lettuce or anything else in the sandwich, Rose felt it was the most delicious sandwich because he made it. She devoured it, licking her fingers when she was done.

"Hungry, hey?" He said, still chewing his sandwich.

"It was delicious! You make the best sandwiches." She said, laughing.

"But it's nothing special. Want another one?" He said, reaching for his food bag.

"As much as I would, I think maybe I would like to have one after we do this job. I'll have an apple. Want one?" She said, pulling out two apples. She released with horror that one of them was rotten, so she immediately threw it as hard as she could, and it shattered against a wall. Bits of apple went flying everywhere, making the two of them laugh heartily.

"Lucky Tilma's not here!" Farkas joked.

Laughing, Rose offered the good apple to Farkas. He took a bite, and handed it back to her. "Here. You eat it. If you're a good girl and eat it all, I have a special treat for you in my bag." He said, ruffling her hair playfully.

She shrieked happily, and gobbled up her apple. Farkas laughed at her, wondering how someone with such a great burden on her shoulders could laugh so easily, could be so easily pleased. Rose wondered what Farkas had in his bag, but guessed it was probably a sweetroll. They were his favourite dessert, and quickly becoming hers, too. She watched him smile as he put his hand in his bag, then she saw his face fall as he withdrew his hand.

"It's all squished." He said, looking truly disappointed.

She couldn't help but care for him just a little bit more. "Don't worry, it'll still taste good." She said.

"Messy, but good." He agreed. He tore off some paper from the wrapping, and handed it to her. He pulled a piece of squished sweetroll off, and put it on her bit of paper.

They ate their sweetroll in companionable silence, the only sounds were the crackling fire, chewing, and the occasional sigh.

"Reckon we can sleep here tonight?" Rose said, feeling sleepy after the day of travel and belly full of food.

"You sleep. I will watch over you." He said.

"Ok, great. Wake me in a little while and you can then sleep." She used her hand to wipe debris from the bedroll nearest to her, then lay down. The last thing she saw before she nodded off was Farkas, arms around his knees, head tilted to the side as if listening.

When she awoke, she was surprised to see sunlight shining through the cracks in the outer door, and Farkas, lying on his back, with his arms folded behind his head. She noticed that his eyes were open.

"You were supposed to wake me for my watch." She grumbled, feeling extremely guilty.

"Nah it's ok. I never sleep well, so you would've only been watching me toss and turn, trying to fall asleep, and failing!"

They ate a light breakfast of fruit and bread in comfortable silence. Rose was excited at the prospect of her first real job, and hoped that she impressed Farkas. The first room that they came across was only occupied by a few completely dead draugr, some useless potions and some crappy old books.

"Not even any health potions!" Rose huffed.

"Hmmph. How do we get outta here?" Farkas said, standing at the barred passageway to the next area.

"Here's a lever, in this little room." Rose said, skipping over to it. She put her hand on the lever, then changed her mind when something green caught her eye.

"Ooh, a stamina potion. We should share this later, keep us going all night, eh?" Rose said, winking conspiratorially at Farkas.

He laughed, shaking his head. "You're unbelievable." He said. "Are you gonna pull that lever, or what?"

Rose smiled, and pulled at the lever, dramatically pretending that it was very stiff and heavy. The smile disappeared from both their faces, however, when the little room became sealed off. Rose tried to pull the lever back, but of course, it was stuck. Farkas placed his hands around the bars, and shook them as hard as he could, to no avail. A bit of dust had come loose, landing on his head and shoulders. Rose smiled, thinking how cute he looked now, with dust on him and a worried face.

He opened his mouth to speak, when a handful of Silver Hand bandits filed into the room, surrounding Farkas and taunting him. Farkas didn't seem perturbed in the slightest. Rose watched, confused, as Farkas transformed. A werewolf? She thought, her heart thudding with excitement. So the rumours are true! She grinned, pride filling her heart as she watched the big man become an even bigger werewolf.

"Go Farkas!" She shouted, adrenaline coursing through her veins.

She watched in a mix of horror and awe as the beast shredded the men and women with cold efficiency. She found it hard to believe that the kind-hearted, warm and simplistic Farkas could turn into a merciless killer. When they were all dead, the werewolf trotted away into the passageway. She heard a click, and the bars came up. She stepped out, eager to see him. When he re-entered the room, he had transformed back into a human again.

And he was very, very naked.

Rose forgot about everything else in that moment - her blood ran hot with desire, filling every cell, as she took in his beautifully sculpted form. Dibella be praised, he is all delicious, masculine perfection. Chest hair, broad shoulders, thick arms, and very big, down there...help me, she thought.

Farkas had started to say that he hoped he didn't scare her, but when he noticed that she didn't look terrified, he was thankful, and his respect for her increased a notch. Most people run a mile, but not brave Rose, he thought. He studied her face, and his wolf senses honed in on her rapidly beating heart.

He could see and smell her arousal, and he felt himself becoming hard.

Rose's eyes widened even further when she noticed it, and she blushed deeply. She couldn't help but lick her lips - gods, she needed a man...it had been so long. However, though she was deeply attracted to Farkas, she knew he didn't feel the same. She didn't want to take advantage of him, as it would ruin their friendship. With an extreme effort of will, she turned away from him.

"Uhm...so your armour...it's still there, where you dropped it." She mumbled, keeping her gaze averted.

"Yeah, right." He said, his voice soft and husky.

Rose trembled - she was aching for him, body, heart and soul. She realised then that she wasn't simply very fond with him - she was falling in love with him. Her bottom lip trembled, tears threatening to spill as the ache in her heart formed a painful lump in her throat. She fiddled with her fingers as he dressed himself, both of them acutely aware of one another, of the heavy tension in the air.

He knew she had liked what she'd seen, but when she saw that he was...well, very happy about it, she had turned away in embarrassment. Farkas had never been embarrassed or ashamed of nudity before, but Rose's reaction had made him feel awkward.

Once he was ready, they set off into the passageway. They had to fight through a nest of frostbite spiders, and they both got a case of the willies.

"Gah! I hate those things, they scare the living daylight outta me. They're just so...alien." Farkas said, disgusted beyond words.

Rose shuddered, agreeing with him. They hacked and slashed their way through more Silver Hand and draugr, and Farkas marvelled at how well she moved. She was very alert, intelligent and fast. The previous awkwardness faded into the back of his mind as he watched her move, pride and awe filling his emotions.

Soon, they arrived at a trap. Massive axes were swinging on chains, preventing further passage. Rose was about to open her mouth to speak when a draugr emerged from beside them, groaning.

"Watch this." Rose said, Taking a deep breath.

Farkas chuckled, knowing that look on her face meant that laughs were going to be had.

"FUS, RO DAH!" She shouted, sending the draugr flying backwards, into the swinging axes.

Farkas burst into fits of giggles as the thing was tossed in all directions, making all sorts of noises. Bits of draugr were flung here and there - and finally, the torso lodged into the mechanism of the middle axe, jamming it.

Farkas turned to Rose, whom was snorting with laughter, tears rolling down her pink cheeks. "That was great! " he shouted, still laughing.

Finally, they reached the large chamber where the fragment was contained. It was in a chest, next to a large sarcophagus."There's a draugr deathlord in there, he'll be dangerous and hard to kill. Be careful."

Farkas warned. Rose nodded, approaching the chest and sarcophagus warily. But before she could reach the chest, a faint chanting sound captured her attention. She looked to her right, and noticed the curved wall.

"Another active Word Wall, Farkas!" She whispered breathily. Farkas stood beside her, looking at it in wonderment.

"Wow...I've seen plenty of these before, but never have I seen one glowing before. But I guess you have seen a few?" He turned to look at her, and noticed that she was staring at the wall, her face pinched with concentration. His eyebrows raised up, but instinct warned him to keep quiet and observe.

After a few seconds, Rose released the breath she'd been holding, and faced Farkas with a strange expression on her lovely face. Beads of sweat were dotted across her forehead. He pulled a cloth from a hidden pocked inside his armour, and lovingly dabbed her forehead. She closed her eyes and sighed appreciatively.

"Did you learn a new Word?" He asked.

"Yes. I learned 'Yol'. It means 'fire'." She said, smiling.

"Awesome. Now you can breathe fire, like a real dragon!" He said, clapping her on the shoulder. "Maybe you can practice it on this bloke, if he comes out." He said, indicating the sarcophagus.

Rose nodded agreement, and approached the chest again. She lifted the lid carefully, and found the fragments as well as a few bits and pieces of handy things, which she stuffed into her pack.

She was about to gloat to Farkas that she was so good at being quiet that she didn't wake up the monster, when she heard the sound of stone scraping against stone. Her smug look disappeared immediately. "Bugger." She said, reaching for her twin blades.

Farkas pulled out his Skyforge steel greatsword, and they both stood ready. Suddenly, an upright sarcophagus popped open, and out stepped a draugr. Then another, and another, and more. The deathlord was climbing out of his cold bed, groaning and carrying on in his raspy voice.

The two living humans set to work immediately - the first course of action was to take down the deathlord before he started using his voice powers. Farkas chopped at him, but not before he spoke. "Fus...Ro DAH..." Rose was knocked off her feet, her back slamming against the Word Wall. She gasped for air as she struggled to get up; the deathlord was coming for her, and Farkas was slicing and dicing the shrivelled old draugr that were crowding him.

Rose decided now was as good a time as any to try her new Word. She felt heat gathering in her chest, the pressure becoming very intense, very quickly. "Yol!" She shouted at the top of her lungs.

She watched as fire consumed the approaching deathlord, making it stumble and falter. Bolstered, she spun with her blades and took off its arms. It bumbled about madly before Farkas' sword lopped off its head, and that was that. There was no time to celebrate though, as draugr after draugr came stumbling and shuffling towards them.

"Bloody hell!" Farkas said, laughing. Rose laughed too, despite their situation. They knew they wouldn't die, they were too skilled to be made dead by a few stringy old zombies.

They stood together, back-to-back. They always knew what each other was doing, instinct and experience making them a formidable duo. Rose roasted a few with her new shout, and sent a couple flying with her other shout, 'FUS...RO DAH!', which had been the first one she learned.

Farkas was all brute strength - nothing could break the swing of his massive sword. When it was coming down to lop your head off, nothing was going to break its downward swing. Rose was all speed and dexterity - her opponents were left confused, to take a defensive stance as they knew not when or how she was coming at them next.

Rose caught movement in her eyes, to her left. Farkas didn't seem to immediately realise his danger - Rose spun around to Farkas' right side, and again shouted, "FUS...RO DAH!" at the top of her lungs. The draugr flew, colliding with the draugr that Farkas was about to chop. Farkas chopped that one instead, and the other one bounced and landed smoothly on Rose's pointing sword. Rose and Farkas laughed in unison, and continued on.

After what seemed like an eternity, no more draugr emerged from the sarcophagi lining the walls.

"Thank the gods!" Farkas said, flopping down on an overturned pillar. He propped himself on his hands, and stretched out his legs. He was panting and sweating profusely, but he was smiling. Rose sat down next to him, and they both sat there, catching their breaths.

"Well, that was fun." She said, despite the stinging pain in her leg. One of the draugr had managed to slice her leg, about halfway up the inside of her thigh.

Farkas watched her start to pull off her leather pants. He felt desire stirring in his belly, and he forced himself to look away. Only when Rose hissed softly, did he return his gaze. This time, he appraised her with a clinical eye, pushing his personal feelings to the back.

"You're hurt." He said, helping her pull her pants down below her knees. He assessed the wound - it was a long gash, but not overly deep. It was bleeding a lot though, so he'd need to find something to wrap it up with. "Are you ok, Rose?" He said, stroking her cheek.

She blushed at his tender touch. "Yes, I'm ok! It only stung a bit when I pulled my pants off it, as the material was stuck to it. But it's fine!" She said, smiling optimistically.

Farkas returned her smile, amazed that seemingly nothing got her down, ever. "I'm gonna get some cloth to wrap it up, so you can get your pants back on." He said, standing.

"You don't want to see my lovely, white legs?" She said, pouting.

"Aw Rose, I think you know the answer to that!" He said, chuckling to hide his embarrassment. Of course I want to see your legs...I think about them every night, he thought. How he desperately wanted to run his hands along their creamy softness, to kiss and bite them. He hurried away from her, banishing the thoughts from his mind.

Rose slapped herself. There I go again, scaring him away with my sleaziness! She bit her lip, feeling stupid. That's what happens, I scare men away. I'm going to just keep my distance from now on, she thought.

Farkas returned shortly, carrying three or four strips of cloth. "Hold still. I'm going to wash the cut." He said, kneeling before her. He held the wet cloth above her thigh, and his other hand gently grasped the back of her knee to hold her leg in place. He swallowed a lump in his throat, and looked up at her. "Ready?"

She nodded. "Ready. And don't worry, I'm not going to cry." She said, her eyes twinkling as usual.

He smiled, and began to wipe the wound. Rose watched him carefully, her love for him making her heart swell almost painfully. He was absently caressing her knee with his thumb in a loving, soothing motion as he tenderly wiped the blood and dirt out of the cut. He was being so careful not to hurt her, and it brought a tear to her eye. She desperately wanted to reach out and stroke his hair, but dared not to.

"I thought you said you weren't gonna cry." He growled softly, playfully admonishing her.

"It doesn't hurt." She whispered thickly.

"Then why are you crying?" He said, concern spreading over his features.

"It's nothing." She said, wiping her eyes. He studied her face for a moment before realising she wouldn't budge, and he finished wiping the cut.

"Going to wrap it now." He said, throwing the bloody cloth away.

The feel of the dry, cool cloth against her inner thigh sent waves of heat through her body, and she absent-mindedly chewed her bottom lip. He gently began to wrap it around her leg, his brow furrowed in concentration. When his knuckle brushed the soft, warm skin under her most private parts, she shuddered with pent up desire, a small gasp escaping. She saw him smirk, but he didn't say anything or look up at her. He knows what he did, she thought. He did try to avoid brushing against her like that again. Part of her was disappointed, but mostly she was relieved - now wouldn't be the best time to get together.

Farkas felt like dying inside. He was wrapping her leg, acutely aware of how warm and soft her skin was, and worse still, the smell of her arousal very close to his face was driving him, and his beast, insane. His cock throbbed painful and hard inside his armour, and when he accidentally brushed her groin, her response almost made him come in his pants, like a teenage boy. He decided he would need to find some privacy very soon to relieve himself before he lost control. Despite being in erotic torture, he couldn't suppress the smirk at the way she responded to him. However, common sense spoke up, telling him that her response was natural; it wasn't just because it was him. Realisation brought him out of his lust-filled cloud, and his mood darkened by degrees.

When he was finished his ministrations, he helped her pull her pants over the bandaged wound, and let her do the rest. "Let's get out of here." He said, looking around for the exit. Rose noticed his change in behaviour - he was quiet, all the way home. He hardly looked at her, and only responded with gruff short answers whenever she tried to make conversation. And when she prodded him about his wolf side, he snapped at her, making her jump in fright. "I don't wanna talk about it, it's a curse!" He growled angrily.

"I'm only trying to make conversation!" She whimpered sadly. This is getting out of hand, thought Rose. He would've been able to tell how turned on I was, and he was horrified. Shame filled her heart, and she fought back tears all the way home.

Chapter Text

Rose thought about the little house up for sale next to Adrianne's again - it was time to put some distance between Farkas and herself. She'd been saving her coin, hoping that it would remain vacant until she had the money. Adrianne's father - the Jarl's steward - was asking 5,000 septims for it, but she only had 3,500. She could try and sweet talk him into selling it for that price.

Just as she finished that thought, a courier came jogging over to them, holding a letter for her from Esbern. Funny, I have been wondering what has become of Esbern and Delphine since I left them at the newly discovered Skyhaven Temple all those weeks ago, she thought. Esbern had written to tell her that he was recovered from the trip to Skyhaven Temple, and that the time spent studying Alduin's Wall had revealed that a Shout - Dragonrend - had crippled Alduin in the Dragon War of the first era. He suggested speaking to the Greybeards; perhaps they could teach her this Shout.

She would leave before sunrise in the morning, hopefully before Farkas woke up. The time away would help her focus, and hopefully push the feelings for Farkas far, far away. She had a dragon to slay; and the longer she put it off, the more people would suffer. The first order of business, however, was to see about buying Breezehome.

When she and Farkas made it to the steps of Jorrvaskr, Rose shoved the wrapped bundle of shards into his hands, and bade Farkas a cold, aloof farewell. "Going to talk to the steward about Breezehome." She left him standing there with his mouth hanging open in shock.

She was leaving? "Rose, wait!" He called. He felt awful about yelling at her - he was desperately struggling to control himself around her - he was insanely attracted to her, and his beast spirit intensified his desire by placing not only erotic images in his mind, but images of comfort and family; children, future, home.

Rose turned to face him, her face not smiling. "What?" She said, shrugging.

Where to start? He wondered. "Um, you're...staying here tonight, aren't you?" He said, glumly looking at his boots.

"Of course. I'm just going to buy the place, I'd have to buy furniture and stuff before I can live there!" She waved dismissively, and then turned back towards Dragonsreach.

Farkas frowned. "Rose! I'm sorry for yelling at you." He called after her.

She waved again, not looking back. I'm such an ass, I've frightened her and now she wants to move away, he thought. Though she would only be a few streets away, he would miss knowing that she was there, in the same building. He would miss reaching out with his wolf senses to hear her undressing, to smell her beautifully enticing scent. He would miss the sound of her laughter in the mornings, and the feel of her elbow against his as they ate together. Gods, I do love her so. I know she cares about me, but...if she knew how much I adored her, she would probably run away. Maybe a bit of distance is a good thing, he reasoned, though his heart didn't agree.

Twenty minutes later, Rose walked down the steps of Dragonsreach with the key to her new home and a smile on her face. Her pockets were almost empty, but her heart was full with the success of her charm. She would pay the man half of what she earned with the Companions until the rest was paid off. She had the coins from the trip to Dustman's Cairn, and a heap of loot to sell; she would at least have some gold enough to buy some supplies for her trip.

"It's only because you're a good friend to my daughter." Proventus had said, though he knew even if she hadn't been Adrianne's friend, he'd have done the same. The girl has irresistible charm, he'd thought.

"Thanks, Proventus!" She'd chirped, skipping away.

Meanwhile, Farkas paced back and forth in his brother's room. "One minute she seems to want me around her, and the next...I've scared her away. I saw the way she looked at me after I transformed back. I was naked...she looked like she was going to jump my bones! But then she turned away." Farkas ran his hand through his hair, sighing heavily.

Vilkas listened patiently, not wishing to offer any input at this stage. When Farkas wanted to talk, it was better to wait until he was finished; he tended to get frustrated if he lost his train of thought.

"It was like...her primal side responded to me being starkers, but then she realised...yuck, it's just bloody Farkas!" He dropped into a chair, and took a swig of Vilkas' drink, then abruptly spat it out. "What the fuck is this crap? Tastes like skeever poo!"

Vilkas ignored his outburst, except to toss a cloth for Farkas to clean up his mess. "That's...you've been thinking pretty deeply about this, for you to say something like that. You know, I have been thinking a lot about it too. I do sense that she's into you, but...she seems to be holding back. There is a deep sadness hidden among her happy personality. She might just need a bit of time," Vilkas scratched his stubbly chin, "so I suggest, brother, that you just play it cool for now."

Before Farkas could respond, Skjor barged in. "Where's the lady of the hour, then?" he said, hands on hips.

"Oh, she's going to see the Jarl's steward about that little house next to Warmaiden's." Farkas said sadly.

"Oh. Well. We'll want to get this shitty little ceremony over so we can get the party going! Best you go and fetch her, Farkas." He rocked back on his heels, and made little squeaking sounds through pursed lips.

"Alright." Farkas stood up and brushed past Skjor.

When Farkas was out of ear shot, Skjor spoke again. "Has the man got laid yet?"

"Nah. It would seem they're both milk-drinkers!"

Rose looked longingly towards Jorrvaskr - she would miss living there immensely, as it had become home more than any other place since childhood. She would miss its occupants - especially Farkas, of course. But she had to break away from him - her feelings for him were hindering her ability to think properly, to conduct herself as she should. He was the reason that that draugr managed to slash her leg - she'd taken a second to admire his raw strength, allowing the draugr to get too close.

She arrived at the door to the little home, her nerves shaking. She was very excited! Finally, my own home! She thought. She took a deep breath, and put the key in the lock. As she was about to turn it, she felt hands on her hips and a breath in her neck. Her heart skipped a beat, the hands and hot breath causing sparks in her loins.

"You don't think I was going to let you do this alone, did you? What if there were...things...lurking inside?" Farkas said. So much for playing aloof. He couldn't play cool when he saw her standing there, her face a picture of pride and happiness as she stood at the front door to her new home. He sensed her excitement, and he felt excited too. Vilkas' words were forgotten as he pressed his nose into her hair, her scent washing over him, momentarily stunning him.

Rose smiled, and turned to face him, the earlier tension forgotten. "Really, Farkas?" She said, pushing his chest softly.

Instead of a playful retort, he just stood there, speechless. She blew air out of her nose, then clicked open the door. She stepped in, disturbing dust and cobwebs. "Place needs a clean." He said, frowning at the dust.

"Since when do you care about mess, Farkas?" She jabbed him in the ribs playfully, and he barked out a laugh. "Wanna help?" She said, reaching for the broom which was leaning up against the wall.

"What...now? I mean...we can't, everyone is waiting in the backyard for us."

"Oh? What for?"

"Your initiation ceremony, of course! Let's go."

Rose put the broom back, and pulled the door shut after they stepped out. By the time Rose and Farkas arrived to Jorrvaskr, the whole lot of them were standing in a circle waiting for them. A ritual was observed, formerly welcoming Rose into the Companions. Kodlak took the fragments, then they all went inside to eat and drink.

Farkas watched Rose as she gave them a highly embellished version of their quest, his heart full with mirth and love. She made him laugh harder than anyone, apart from Vilkas. Aela caught his look, and sat down beside him.

"So you didn't give her the Amulet, I take it?" She said, placing her hand on his arm.

"Nope. I doubt she'd have me, she's too good for the likes of me. Only a king would be fit, for her." He said, his voice softened with mead and love.

Njada, who had been sitting in the shadows behind Farkas, chose that moment to slip out unseen, her pack strapped to her back.

"Oh Farkas. You ice brain." Said Aela, shaking her head. "Don't you see? She keeps looking at you. She loves you." She squeezed his arm.

Farkas shook his head in negation, refusing to believe. If he dared to hope...if she didn't love him back, it would smash his heart to smithereens. Farkas downed his mead, then fetched another, and another. His happy mood became somber, broody - very unlike Farkas. He drank until he almost burst at the seams, until he could not see straight. He watched through bleary, crossed eyes; watched everyone singing and dancing and carrying on into the early hours. He dimly registered Rose tap-dancing happily on the table, then falling off.

She'd knocked Athis over, both of them a tangle of limbs. Athis didn't seem to mind - he snuck in a quick kiss as she desperately tried to figure out which way was up. She didn't even seem to notice the kiss, not really. She just wiped her mouth and got up, without even acknowledging poor Athis.

Farkas saw it though - the reality of it snaked its way through his inebriated consciousness, and he got up off his chair. Somehow, he managed to stumble and stagger towards Rose, straining his eyes to make out her blurry face. He grabbed at her clumsily, and she fell into his arms.

"Faaaaarkas!" She shouted happily in his face, pissed as a parrot.

He blanched a little, then shouted right back at her. "Outside, now!" He pulled her towards the front doors, and they crashed through them. Rose and Farkas tumbled out, tripping over each other.

Farkas' mood lifted considerably as they both laughed at themselves and each other, and when Farkas farted loudly, Rose began to snort and shriek, tears of laughter rolling down her cheeks. "Whoa, that stinks...so funny!"

Farkas dragged himself and her upright, and they stumbled around aimlessly, their arms around each other. Rose noted dimly that they were now on the damp grass, at the top, behind the statue of Talos. Farkas was holding her tightly, stroking her hair, when Rose decided to lift her face to the sky.

"The stars are spinning!" She shouted, drunkenly unaware of Farkas' tenderness.

But all Farkas cared about was her exposed neck - he leaned in to have a sniff, but she shifted her foot...and of course, the grass on the hill was damp; she slipped and slid down the hill, taking a hapless Farkas with her. They landed heavily, with Farkas right on top of her. They were wedged behind the statue of Talos. They struggled with each other, each fighting to get out of the tight spot. Rose dimly registered the sound of another fart escaping Farkas' bum, before the effort of struggling wore the two of them out, and the world spun dangerously. They both simultaneously went limp, giving in to unconsciousness.

When Rose woke, the sun was blaring in her eyes, and silly old Heimskr was doing his thing. "Ahhh bloody Heimskr, be quiet!" She shouted, immediately regretting it once her head began pounding.

Heimskr either didn't hear her or didn't care, as he continued on with his pious shrieking.

Farkas grumbled groggily beside her, his face buried in her neck. She felt little puffs of warm breath on her neck, as well as a dampness which could have been dribble. How did this happen, anyway? thought Rose. She reflected on the previous night, flashes of memories appearing. She smiled when she remembered their drunken stumbling, and Farkas roaring with laughter.

She tried to sit up, but she was pinned by a heavy weight - Farkas' muscled arm was draped over her chest. She was too weak in her hungover state to make an effort to move his arm, so she resignedly lay her head back down. She realised that the hard pillow under her neck was his other arm. His legs were curled up behind her legs, and her heart skipped a beat and then it sped up. She felt warmth building in her belly as she became aware of every part of him. He's spooning me, how cute. I hope he doesn't panic when he realises how we slept, she thought with dismay. She decided it would be best to try to escape the comforting warmth of his arms before he woke, and to throw some items together for her trip. But of course, as soon as the warmth of her body was no longer against his, Farkas woke up with a start. Rose was climbing up the hill, and he grabbed her ankle, giving her a tremendous fright.

"Where ya goin'?" He growled, tugging her leg.

"Nope!" She wiggled free, and scrambled away, inside. She staggered downstairs, still drunk, past astonished faces of Vilkas and Ria.

"Are you ok, Rose?" Vilkas yelled after her.

"Yes!" She said, waving reassuringly, though her happy tone was strained. She ran into her room - Farkas' room - and closed the door. The room was spinning because of her mad dash; she was indeed still drunk. She dragged her bag to the middle of the room and packed the items she'd need for her trip, but when she felt a wave of nausea, she decided more sleep was in order. She stripped bare, not bothering with her nightgown, and flopped down onto the bed. She tried to drag the covers over herself but she was asleep before she succeeded.

Farkas lay there, bewildered. What just happened? he thought. He climbed up the hill, hoping nobody saw him. He walked inside, scratching his head absent-mindedly.

"Good morning sleepyhead, did you enjoy your...sleeping arrangements?" Aela said, grinning with her arms crossed.

"Where's Rose?" He said, clicking his tongue against the roof of his mouth.

"Hmm. I saw a flash of green run downstairs before, that must've been her! Here, take this to her." Aela handed him a jug of water and a mug.

He saw a bread roll out of the corner of his eye, and thinking Rose might be hungry, he grabbed the bread roll and jammed it into the empty mug to make it easier to carry everything.

Aela smirked at Farkas' rough but thoughtful gesture, then returned to her conversation with Athis.

"He really loves her, doesn't he?" Athis said.

"Aye. She loves him as well." She said, peering into her cup of tea.

"Gods...I think I kissed Rose last night. It didn't mean nothin', I just got too happy!" He said, blushing with embarrassment.

"Ah don't worry, she was probably too drunk to remember."

Vilkas and Ria stared at Farkas as he passed them, carrying a jug of water and a mug with something sticking out of it.

"What's that, Farkas?' Ria said.

"Bread." Farkas grunted, and kept walking. Vilkas sniggered - Farkas was such a dag.

Farkas opened the door with his elbow, causing some of the water to slosh over his hand. He put the items on the bar, and turned to see Rose. His blood froze in his veins - she was completely naked, laying face down. She had one arm tucked under her head, and the other dangled over the edge of the bed. Her long, wavy hair was fanned out behind her, like a wing. One knee was bent upwards, giving him a hint of the curly honey-brown hairs between her legs. He gasped softly, immediately becoming hard. Sweet Dibella, he breathed. He wanted nothing more than to run his hands and his lips over her body, to explore her, taste her. He licked his dry lips, his eyes taking in every inch of her milky white softness. She stirred in her sleep, her ass wiggling slightly. His beast blood stirred in his veins, demanding to be let out. I want this woman, it howled. "Oh...gods help me." He whispered, taking a step towards her. He then noticed, with concern, a patch on her lower back, thinking it looked like a burn scar. He swallowed a curse as she rolled over, taking the blanket with her. She was covered up now, except for her feet sticking out.

Farkas immediately felt ashamed of himself for almost taking advantage of her in her vulnerable state. He watched her sleeping for a few moments, his heart filled with love. He yawned, thinking he should probably get some sleep too, but the idea of sleeping in that whelp bed with a nasty hangover made him shudder. Rose won't mind if I sleep on the floor, he thought. He went to the whelp room to fetch his pillow and the blanket off the bed, and headed back up the hall.

Vilkas accosted him on the way. "What are you up to, brother?" He said, eyes twinkling.

"What does it look like?" He snarled, in no mood for Vilkas' ribbing.

"You know, you can sleep in my bed. I'm not using it right now!"

Farkas shifted uncomfortably on his feet, knowing that there was no real good excuse not to. "No thanks, brother. Your bed stinks like farts!" And with that, he walked off.

Vilkas laughed, nudging Ria.

"He's head over heels, any fool can see." Ria said, her voice soft. She flicked a coy glance at Vilkas, making him blush.

Farkas crept into the room, his eyes watching the floor to make sure he didn't kick anything noisy. He quietly curled up on the floor beside the bed, and fell instantly to sleep - content to at least, be near her.

Rose woke up a couple of hours later, her heart jumping in her chest when she saw Farkas sleeping peacefully on the floor next to her. She reached over, and stroked his cheek softly. "I wish you loved me, like I love you." She whispered, a lump forming in her throat.

She got up and quickly dressed herself, and made to leave. She spotted the water jug in the corner of her eye, and reached for the mug. She smiled, guessing that Farkas had brought it in. When she saw the bread roll stuffed in the mug, she couldn't help but laugh out loud.

Farkas sat bolt upright, his face a picture of panic. "Get it off, off!" He yelled, then abruptly closed his mouth. He looked around wide-eyed, then spotted Rose standing there, grinning as usual, her hands on her hips. "What are you lookin' at, smiley?" He growled, and Rose giggled.

"Is this your idea of breaky in bed?" She said, gesturing at the roll. Farkas frowned, not understanding why everyone thought the roll in the mug was funny.

"I thought you might be hungry." He mumbled sheepishly.

Rose softened, her cheeky grin relaxing. Farkas noticed the twinkle in her eyes, and he sighed. "Well, it so happens that I am. Want to share it with me?"

Farkas nodded, smiling his handsome smile. She plonked herself on the ground next to him, and they ate the roll and drank the water in companionable silence.

Later, she thought about what he had said when he'd abruptly woken. "What were you dreaming about? You looked terrified when you woke."

Farkas looked perplexed for a minute, his brows furrowed. Then he remembered. "Ah...those spiders! They were all over me, crawling on me...their babies too. Disgusting." He said, shuddering slightly.

Rose smoothed his hair tenderly, concern on her features. "Good thing it was only a dream." She said.

Farkas studied her face for any hint of sarcasm - and found only genuine care. Anyone else would pick on him - especially Aela - but Rose cared. Gods, I just want to take her in my arms, he thought. Little did he know, Rose was sitting there, wishing that he felt the same as her, and that he would realise she could be so much more than just a good mate.

"Farkas...I need to leave today, to see the Greybeards." Rose said, softly.

Farkas looked crestfallen for a moment, before he perked up a bit. "I could come with you." He offered, hope in his eyes.

Rose's heart leapt, but she knew that she needed the time alone. Time alone to accept her feelings, and to face her past. "I need to do this alone. I've got to do a lot of thinking." she whispered.

"Rose...it's dangerous out there..." Farkas was never good with being able to come up with the right words when he needed them in a hurry; especially when he was feeling emotional and frustrated, like he was in that moment.

"I know. But I'll be right, I'm the Dragonborn, remember? I'll be back within a week." she squeezed his arm reassuringly, and he tried his best to smile.

"Okay. Are you going to hike there?" Farkas couldn't hide the worry on his face.

"Yes, but don't worry - I've been there a few times before; I know a short and safe way." Rose scooted across the floor to reach her pack, and began to rummage through it to make sure she had everything.

"You're going now?" he said, his voice soft.

"The sooner I find out about this Shout that the ancient Nords used against Alduin, the sooner I can learn it and...face my destiny." A pang of nervousness flashed through her at the enormity of her situation, but she quickly swallowed it. Now wasn't the time to freak out over her fate - she had to just take one step at a time, lest she be overwhelmed.

An hour later, Rose had sold her loot at 'the Ripoff Merchant' (Belethor, of course), said her goodbyes and was heading towards the gate. Farkas insisted on accompanying her to the gate, and they popped into Breezehome quickly, just to make sure nobody had tried to knock off the cobwebs and the broom.

"Looks like it's all where it should be!" She pulled the door shut behind them, and then she pressed the key into his hand. "Look after my cobwebs for me, would you?" Rose said, trying to be light-hearted when her heart felt anything but light.

Farkas smiled half-heartedly, and he put the key into his pocket. They walked in silence to the gate, and Farkas began to insist on walking her further.

"No...don't make this any harder than it already is. Please, just...go back, go now." Rose's chest hurt and her heart was in her throat. She turned to go, her tears burning her eyes. She'd only taken a few steps when she felt herself being pulled back roughly, straight into Farkas' arms.

"Don't do that, Rose. Don't go without saying goodbye." Farkas growled softly into her hair, squeezing her tighter for emphasis. "Please come back to me alive, and in one piece." He threaded the fingers of one hand into her hair, and yanked her head back so he could look into her eyes. "If you're not back after one week, I'm coming to look for you. Got it?"

Rose nodded, blinking the tears out of her eyes. "I got it. And don't forget, keep my cobwebs and my broom company, okay?"

"You're a dag." he wiped the tears on one cheek with his thumb, before bringing his other hand from her lower back to wipe the other cheek. A moment of silence passed between them as they gazed at one another, neither of them brave enough to reveal their heart's truth.

"See ya." she whispered, and she gripped one wrist and planted a kiss in his palm before turning away once again.

"Bye." she heard him say, as she pushed through the gate. If she'd have turned around, she would have seen the brutish, tough Companion clenching his jaws and his fists, trying to will the lump in his throat and the ache in his heart away.

A/N: I know, I know...these two are really ridiculous, aren't they? Let's not forget that they are both scared for their own reasons. Farkas (though far less stupid than people believe; he is really just a very deliberate thinker) has been called 'ice-brain' all his life, and always referred to as the slower twin. While he seems to brush off these insults; in reality, he takes them to heart. Therefore, he doesn't believe a smart and well-known woman like Rose would stoop so low as to fall for someone like him.
Rose, on the other hand is frightened of rejection (remember also there was a brief mention that she has been through something bigger than a mere teenage heartbreak :O). She sees the way other women look at Farkas, and believes that she isn't as desirable as they are; she keeps her feelings to herself as she doesn't wish to be humiliated again.

Chapter Text

It was cloudy when Rose left. It was cold, and the wind was picking up. There was a soft rain falling, but Rose didn't mind that at all. I should make it to Ivarstead by nightfall if I hurry, thought Rose. She wondered whether she could sweet-talk Skulvar into loaning the horse Allie to her; she would most certainly get to Ivarstead by dinner time with the help of her favourite furry friend. Every time she passed the stables, she had an apple and a pat ready for Allie. Sometimes Skulvar would let Rose brush her, and she would spend a long while brushing and petting Allie, until Skulvar shooed her away. She and the horse had formed a friendship, and Rose dreamed of owning her one day.

As she approached the stables, she heard Allie's familiar whinny of greeting. She produced an apple from her pocket, and Allie snatched it hungrily from her hand.

"Hello Allie! Nice to see you!" Rose chirped, scratching the mare's forelock.

"Good thanks Rose, how are you?" Skulvar said, sarcastically pointing out Rose's lack of greeting to him.

"Glad to hear it, stable boy." She winked, noticing the twinkle in Skulvar's eyes.

"You always greet this bloody stubborn old mare before you greet me." He sulked.

"There's a way to fix that, you know." She said.

"Oh, righteo?"

"You can...let me have her. I'll pay you back..." She batted her eyelids, her bottom lip trapped between her teeth, hoping that she looked cute enough.

Skulvar's eyes flicked to her lips, and he licked his own lips unconsciously. He rubbed his chin in thought before replying. "Well, ah...I do have another horse to sell, and what with the war going on, my sales prospects are low..."

"Go on!" She said, clapping her hands excitedly.

He inhaled and sighed deeply before answering her. "Alright. Here's the deal. You take good care of her, and you can pay me back when you can, but don't take too long. If she gets hurt, I'll knock you into next week. Do you hear me?" He grumbled.

"Thank you! Thank you so much." Rose threw her arms around Skulvar's neck and placed a kiss on his cheek.

Skulvar gripped her hips lightly before gently pushing her away, his cheeks flaming. It wasn't often you got a kiss and a cuddle from someone well-known, especially one as damn fine as Rose. "S-so where ya off to, Miss dovahkiin?" He stammered, trying to regain his composure.

"Well, I'm off to investigate where find an Elder Scroll. It's going to help me to defeat the World-Eater." She grinned happily, though her guts were churning with the overwhelming hugeness of her destiny.

Skulvar 'oohed' and clapped her shoulder. "Well good luck, Rose. Don't forget – look after my old girl."

Rose stroked Allie's nose, before mounting her and trotting away with a wave and a smile for Skulvar. "Well, if we hurry, we might make it to Ivarstead in time for dinner. I'm already so hungry, I could eat a horse!" she joked. Allie rolled her eyes, almost as though she could understand Rose. "Nah it's alright Allie, I'm just kidding."

They wouldn't make it to Ivarstead by dinner time, however. They weren't long on the road when they were approached by a trio of emaciated, desperate bandits.

"Get off the horse, you lovely piece of meat!" the tallest one said. Rose obeyed, pretending to be frightened.

"Now. Open your backpack, let's see what you got in there." Said the skinniest one.

Rose wasted no time – she unsheathed her dual steel blades, and whirled around to slice their necks before they even knew what was happening. Once again she thanked her lucky stars for the leather armour she wore; it enabled her to move very fast, and quietly too, when the need arose.

She checked their pockets, finding nothing worth taking except for a couple of lockpicks and ten Septims between them. She remounted Allie, and they continued on their merry way.

They were stopped shortly after by two wolves, which Rose was able to dispatch quickly while still mounted. She sighed and sheathed her blades, when she heard the sound of distant yelling. She rounded the bend, and she made out double towers with an adjoining bridge. Valtheim Towers, she thought. The sound of yelling became clearer as she approached the vicinity of the towers, and she could tell that the yelling was the sound of a woman in distress.

"What's going on here, I wonder?" she said to Allie. "I think I had better investigate this one alone, Allie. I'm going to tie you up here. You stay put, alright?" she said, dismounting. She tethered her to a branch, and crept quietly towards the entrance.

She was just about to open the door when a woman burst through, nearly knocking her over. "Shit!" the bandit yelled, startled. "Who the fuck are you?"

"Death." Rose hissed, before lopping off the woman's head. She noticed the insignia on the bandit's vest, and gasped. Silver-Hand...this cannot be good, she thought with dismay.

She dragged the body against the wall so that the people on the bridge couldn't see it, and she entered the first tower. She couldn't hear any sounds in this tower, so she had a quick look around for anything useful. She picked the lock of a nearby chest, and pocketed a couple of health potions, some coins and some more lockpicks. She found some more health and stamina potions on a shelf, and then she ascended the stairs.

The sound of a blood-curdling scream made her heart stop for a moment, before propelling into action. She took the steps two at a time, using momentum to hurl a bandit down the stairs. She heard a loud crack and a thud as he hit the bottom, and she knew he was dead. When she reached the bridge, she had to contend with two archers on the bridge – she stunned them by piercing them with a couple of arrows, using the brief reprieve to get close enough to Shout them off the bridge with 'unrelenting force'. She sprinted across to the other tower, hurling another Silver-Hand bandit off the bridge as she entered the doorway.

She ascended the stairs until she arrived at a room with a desk and a bed. She saw the shape of a man huddled over the bed, two other feet sticking out from between his legs. She marched over to him and dug both of her blades into his back, pushing up until he went limp, blood gurgling from his mouth. She pushed him off the bed, and he slid off her blades with a wet sucking sound. She wiped her blades on his back and sheathed them, before looking at the whimpering figure on the bed.

"Njada!?" Rose shrieked. There was Njada, tied up to the bed in nothing but her bra and knickers. "By the gods, are you alright?" she said, untying her fellow Companion, who began to scowl at Rose.

Njada ignored Rose for a few moments, not even thanking her for untying her. She didn't even look at Rose as she hunted around the room for something, wavering on her feet and having to clutch the nearest surface to keep her balance.

"Njada. How did you end up here?" Rose said, standing in front of her and pushing a health potion into her hands. She knew Njada hated her, but as far as Rose was concerned, they were fellow Companions and their loyalty to their faction demanded that they look after one another above all else.

"Damned Silver-Hand! They thought I was a godsforsaken werewolf, the idiots! They tried to torture me with silver weapons, and I laughed in their faces. I spat at them, and told them that werewolves in Jorrvaskr was a myth; a lie told by gossip mongers! And they didn't believe me! That monster," she gestured wildly at the man Rose had just killed, "when he realised that he wasn't getting any information from me, decided my mouth had another purpose. I should have bit his disgusting dick!" Njada spat, tears forming in her eyes. "He was about to take my pants off and that's when you walked in." she looked away then.

"But why were you here?" Rose wanted to know why Njada was out here alone. She didn't recall anyone saying anything about her being sent out on a job.

"What's it to you, anyway? You are not above me! I've been with the Companions a lot longer than you, and I'm a damn sight better fighter than you!" she shouted, though her hands were trembling, her face pale.

"That's enough!" yelled Rose, her patience now at an end. The walls seemed to shake with the sound of Rose's yell, hints of the Thu'um leaking through. Njada was sure she heard pebbles falling somewhere. "I heard your cries, I rescued you. Clearly, you are incapable of handling yourself solo. Now get yourself back home, little girl, before you get yourself killed!" Rose turned on her heel, leaving Njada to stare with her jaw hanging open, dumbfounded.

Halfway across the bridge, Rose realised that she really shouldn't leave Njada on her own. She turned back, and almost collided with Njada who was coming down the stairs. "What are you still doing here, bitch?" Njada hissed.

"I'm going to escort you back home." Rose turned again, knowing that Njada had no choice but to follow Rose across the bridge; there was no other way down.

They descended the other side, Njada following sullenly behind Rose. Once they were on the ground, Njada trotted ahead of Rose. Rose was too proud to call out to her and tell her to slow down, so she increased her speed as well.

Suddenly, the late afternoon sun was blotted out, and an instant later, the sound of large wings and an ear-piercing roar. "A dragon! Njada, take cover until it lands!" Rose yelled, aware that Njada only had a sword and shield, no bow and arrows. She heard no response from Njada, but she didn't have time to worry about that now.

The dragon circled above, before spurting a stream of frost at Rose. Rose gasped in pain; she felt the cold fusing to her bones beneath her skin, and it made her movements sluggish and pained. Still, she notched at arrow, and fired it at the great beast. It took her a few precious moments for her to notch another and another, until finally the thing landed with a ground-shaking crash.

"YOL!" she Shouted, before drawing her dual steel swords. The dragon was stunned for a short moment by her Thu'um, so she took the opportunity to slash out the dragon's eyes.

The dragon screamed in fury, thrashing its head wildly as Rose pulled herself up onto the dragon's neck. It was hard to hang on – the thing's neck was swinging from side to side, making Rose's head spin. But hang on she did, and once she was confident enough to grip only with her strong thighs, she plunged both of her blades into the soft, unprotected flesh at the base of the dragon's skull.

"Die, dragon!" she screamed triumphantly, feeling the dragon's body disintegrate under her. She slid off, and waited for the characteristic flaking and disappearing to finish.

The golden light of the dragon's soul swirled around her, the wind of it fluttering the little hairs that had escaped the confines of her plait. When the light found its entry point, Rose was filled with a sense of freedom. Fleeting images of the landscape far below her flitted through her mind, and the exhilarating feel of cold air against her beating wings made her feel a sense of loss for a brief moment. New information surged through her, though she didn't quite understand it; without its corresponding Word, the information made no sense: a bit like the answers to a question, but without the question.

Once she had recovered from absorbing the soul, she turned to look for Njada, to see if she was alright. However, she was nowhere in sight. She spent five or so minutes looking around and calling her name; but in the end, it dawned on her that Njada had taken off without Rose. "Bloody silly cow," Rose grumbled, shrugging her shoulders, "I hope she doesn't get herself killed. I would like the chance to find a way of dissolving her hatred of me one day." She said, stroking Allie's nose.

She returned to the dragon's skeleton and rummaged through the bones, finding over 200 Septims - to which she whooped loudly - as well as some enchanted steel boots that would provide her with more strength to carry extra, and oddly, a sweetroll which she promptly scoffed. She untied Allie, and they resumed the journey to Ivarstead; fighting off sabre cats, wolves, bears and one spriggan on her way.

x-x-x-x-x-x

The night that the Companions had held their celebratory drinks for Rose's induction, Njada had wanted to curl into a ball and die. Everything about Rose set her teeth on edge. The way each and every other member of the Companions hung on tight to her every word, and the way they all tried to get her attention at some point or another. She hated the way Rose's big smile lit up her whole head, and the effect it had on every single person she encountered. Especially Farkas. Farkas was like a little helpless puppy around Rose; gone was the gruff, badass warrior. It made her sick to the stomach to see such a man acting thus; and worse still was the fact that it wasn't Njada herself that caused this effect in him.

She had been in love with the hulking brute since she had joined the Companions, and had tried for so long to gain his attention. She wasn't flowery; she wouldn't write him love notes or try to kiss him – she tried to win the favour of the gruff warrior by showing him her prowess and her skill. But the bastard had never even glanced at her for more than a fleeting second. She became more and more bitter, and when Rose showed up, she had Farkas hooked in an instant. She was everything Njada wasn't - vivacious, funny, intelligent, warm and loving. And the bitch was also a skilled warrior, though she didn't wear expensive armour or have expensive weapons.

That night, Njada watched Rose strut her stuff – or trying to – on the table in the hall. She sulked bitterly in the dark as all eyes were on Rose. And when she heard Aela and Farkas discussing his love for Rose, it was too much to bear. She slunk away silently, disappearing into the night.

As ill-luck would have it, a Silver-Hand bandit spotted her leaving through the gates of Whiterun. He recognised the girl from a time when she had accompanied that bald-headed prick with one eye and some skinny runt with brown hair – they had raided one of their smaller hideouts and they'd scattered in fright. He collected a few of his mates and they captured the lone warrior woman, dragging her to Valtheim Towers.

Njada had struggled wildly; mad at herself for being so careless, and mad at Rose for driving her away. But her struggles had only amused the bandits as they removed her armour and tied her to the bed. They had started off slow – nicking her with the tips of their steel daggers while questioning her about the werewolves of Jorrvaskr. By the time they realised she wasn't going to tell the truth, she had multiple cuts and bruises all over her body as well as a couple of broken ribs, a broken finger, and a mouth full of semen from a very smelly, unwashed cock.

Njada was a very tough woman. A lesser woman would have been sick with shame and sorrow at what she had suffered, but not Njada. A new rage boiled in her blood now; a new determination to cause the woman who'd caused all this to fall. She would cause such a rift between not just Rose and Farkas, but between Rose and every member of the Companions. Once she was gone, everything would go back to the way it used to be, and Njada may yet win Farkas' heart after all.

And when Rose of all people came to rescue her, Njada felt like screaming. She meant to keep quiet; she meant to keep her lips sealed. But something in Rose's stance and her tone of voice dragged the truth of Njada's capture out of her lips in great floods before she abruptly shut her mouth and refused to say any more. Rose, the honourable hero loved by all, wanted to escort her safely home like she was some vulnerable school girl. It took all of Njada's willpower not to push Rose off the bridge – nobody would survive that fall, not even the great Dragonborn. So she grudgingly followed the woman to safety, frantically planning an escape from her. That's when the dragon came, affording Njada a chance to slip away while Rose was distracted.

She climbed the hill, and looked back to see Rose bravely mounting the dragon's neck, screaming a war cry as she plunged her blades into its neck. She looked like the fiercest warrior from the old tales, and when the light of the dragon's soul engulfed her, Njada's heart throbbed a jealous, sorrowful beat at the sheer, undeniable beauty of it. Wrenching her gaze away, she made a mad dash away as fast as she could, towards home. Tears streaked her cheeks as she fled, and mercifully, nothing bad happened to Njada on the way home.

When Njada made it back to Jorrvaskr, she was faced with a very angry Skjor and a very disappointed Kodlak. Shame and guilt washed over her, and she wished she hadn't left in the first place. She loved old Kodlak, and his disappointment cut her like a knife. But she was a crafty bugger; she would turn it around to her benefit, somehow. She went silent for a few moments while she thought of a reply.

"Actually…I wanted to investigate the towers on my own. I knew everyone else was going to be busy the next day, and I didn't want to let it slide for any longer." She brought her eyes back up to Kodlak's, trying her best to maintain eye-contact with those piercing, all-knowing eyes. "I know, I know, I should have come to you first and I should have taken a shield-sibling, but…I just wanted to prove myself. I managed to overhear some information about one of their major hideouts…"

And so Njada wormed her way back into the good books; the information she had gleaned as to the whereabouts of said major hideout worked to raise her up in the eyes of the Circle members. She omitted the fact that she was in truth captured, rather than that she just took out every bandit single-handedly after gaining information, and did not mention Rose at all. The members were impressed; even Farkas had a small smile for her, and she felt that things might just be alright in the world again.

Well there's chapter 5. I hope my take on Njada is to your liking – please leave me a review. :)

Chapter Text

It was just past midnight when Rose and Allie finally arrived in Ivarstead. She tied Allie to a post outside Vilemyr Inn, and fed her an apple. "I'll be back shortly with some water and some oats." she whispered against Allie's cheek. Allie nickered softly, and Rose went inside the inn.

"Rose! Welcome!" Wilhelm said, throwing his tea-towel on the bench. "What brings you here?"

"Oh, I'm off to see the Greybeards again! How are things?"

"Yeah, good. Same as always. Lots of pilgrims coming through, keeps my till full! Can I get you anything?"

"Yes please. Have you got a bucket, and some oats for my horse?"

"There's a bucket on the porch outside that you can fill with water, and I'll bring out a bag of oats."

"Thanks, Wilhelm." She smiled warmly, and went outside to fill the bucket with water for the faithful horse. She found a folded blanket next to the bucket which smelled like horse, so she assumed she could use it for Allie. She draped it over the horse's back and tied it up underneath, then she put the water bucket under her nose. Wilhelm brought out the oats, and she gobbled it up hungrily.

Rose stood stroking the horse's neck while she ate, when a pang of longing hit her. Oh Farkas, she thought. I miss you already. She headed inside, and Wilhelm pointed to the room he had available. He'd already placed her pack in there for her, and appeared to be dishing up a meal.

"I hope you're hungry." he said, indicating that she should sit down. She sat at the bar in front of him, and he placed a meal of steaming hot beef stew in front of her.

"Bloody oath." she got stuck into it, her tummy rumbling loudly. "Thanks a lot, Wilhelm." and the whole lot was gone in a few minutes.

She and Wilhelm chatted for a short while before she turned in for the night, and she fell into a deep sleep as soon as her head hit the pillow. That night, she dreamed of many things. She dreamed of Farkas - she dreamed that he was fighting a giant spider with his bare hands, fighting valiantly despite the sheer terror on his face. Her dream-self Shouted fire at the spider, and it caught alight. The flames engulfed the spider's body and it sizzled and squealed in pain. The blaze didn't die down, however. It rose higher and higher, until the image of Farkas was obscured, until the only thing visible was the fire. It burned brighter and hotter with each moment, and Rose heard the sound of screaming. The scream revealed itself to be two distinct voices - a man and a woman. Eventually, there was a third scream added to that sound. A small baby, crying in terror and pain. Rose screamed then; an anguished cry full of despair and helplessness.

"Rose! Rose!" someone was shaking her. Farkas? No, not Farkas. "Rose, wake up!"

"Vilkas?" she croaked, tears and snot streaming down her face.

"No, it's me...Wilhelm. Rose...are you alright?" she felt a cloth wiping her face and her nose, and she took the cloth from his hand to finish the job herself.

"Oh...I had a terrible nightmare. Did I wake you?" she said shakily.

"You woke everybody. You were screaming like a banshee!" he pressed a cup of water into her free hand, and she finished it in three gulps.

"Ysmir's beard...I'm very sorry. I don't recall ever having vocalised while dreaming!" Rose felt deeply embarrassed, and apologised several times. She offered to pay extra for the room and for disturbing the other guests, but of course Wilhelm declined. "What time is it?" she asked.

"Oh, it's about nearly five in the morning." he said, trying to suppress a yawn.

"Wilhelm...I'm really sorry." she whispered.

Wilhelm noticed how her hands shook, concern spreading across his features. "Never mind it, Rose. The Dragonborn is sure to have a few nightmares, what with the burdens you carry. Are you alright?"

She sighed deeply before answering, "Yes I am fine, I will be fine. You're right...my burdens are a bit scary." She didn't want to tell him that her dream had nothing to do with her destiny - the dream was about all that she held dear in her heart of hearts.

x-x-x-x-x

Rose, having left Allie in Wilhelm's care, started the long trek up the mountain. If it didn't snow, she would hopefully make it up to High Hrothgar in time for dinner. She sincerely hoped so; her plan to arrive in Ivarstead by dinner time the night before didn't go so well, and now she was rather tired.

The first four hours up the mountain went by uneventfully - she encountered only a couple of pilgrims and one lonely, injured ice-wolf - and she let herself drift into deep thought. Her dream from the night before haunted her occasionally, filling her eyes with tears and her heart with pain, but she quashed it before it insinuated itself too deeply. Other times her thoughts were consumed with her beloved Farkas. Images of his hearty laugh and his gruff voice made her smile, and the memory of their drunken stumbling outside Jorrvaskr made her laugh. She thought about the way he rubbed her tears with his thumbs before she left, and the raw emotion in his voice as he spoke to her. The heavy emotional tension between them, she realised, was most definitely not one-sided. But what did she mean to him? Did he really love her as she loved him? Could that explain the way he'd pulled her into his arms, and the way he'd stroked her cheeks? Or was she simply only his very best friend? She couldn't bear the pain if she was mistaken.

The sound of the baby's screaming in her dream brought back another memory which had also been locked away in the dark recesses of her mind: another man had claimed he'd loved her once, and she'd even believed him. She'd been frightened and unconvinced at first, but he persisted. He bought her gifts and told her she was beautiful and interesting, and stole the occasional kiss and cuddle, until he got into her pants. They slept together a few times, and then she found she was carrying his child in her womb. He'd turned nasty then, and told her he didn't believe it was his. He claimed that she'd been sleeping around, and then said he'd never really loved her anyway. To her, it was the final straw; sealing her belief that she was unlovable. She'd placed her hand over the slight bloating in her uterus, resolving that she would have a little person to love and cherish unconditionally, and that little person would similarly love and need her. And that, that was a much better outcome - despite the pain of rejection, the love between a mother and child would heal her.

She allowed that train of thought to go no further - to continue would spell the end of her strength, her ability to endure her fate. The edge of the mountain loomed; the despair that snaked its way around her heart threatened to tug her towards it...jump...it's so easy to let go...Rose growled in frustration, wiping the tears with her sleeves. She gritted her teeth against the invading blackness and carried on, determined to remain positive, determined to remember that her destiny was more important than one woman's pain.

As she ascended the mountain, the air became thinner. She noticed it was getting slightly harder to breathe - and a lot colder. She pulled a bear pelt from her pack and slung it high around her shoulders, tucking the corners under her neck. Her stomach grumbled, reminding her that it was snack time. I'll find some shelter and have a bite to eat, she thought.

No sooner had she finished fantasising about the strips of dried, salted beef and the hunk of stale bread that was stuffed in the bottom of her pack when she saw snow falling. Bugger. Snow landed on her hair, on her eyelashes and on her nose. She licked a bit from her top lip, and wished some shelter would hurry up and make itself apparent. She trudged on through the falling snow, panting under her pack and her bear pelt. The wind began to pick up, making visibility low. Her heart jumped nervously, and she hoped fervently that she'd soon find shelter.

Wind whipped around her, all but tearing her bear pelt from her. She hunched over, and tried to keep her feet on the path as now she couldn't see two feet ahead of her. She chanced to look up to see the hazy outline a twin rock formation which would serve as a decent shelter. She vaguely remembered it from the last time she'd come up to High Hrothgar. A smile spread across her features as she approached, and she thanked all the Divines for their good timing. And that was when she heard the growl - deep and terrifying, it echoed against the rock which made it sound eerie and evil. The blood drained from her face and froze in her veins as the troll spotted her and began to lope towards her, long arms swinging. Talos, help me.

She dropped her pelt and pack, drew her twin blades, and summoned 'YOL' in her mind. As the frightening creature approached bellowing, she Shouted fire at it, causing it to falter for just long enough for her to get closer. She whirled around with her blades, her speed and strength spurred on by terror and desperation. She managed to put several large gashes in the tough skin of the torso on the first flurry, and on the next flurry, she took off an arm. On the third whirl, she slashed open its throat and it was goodnight Irene.

"FUS...RO, DAH!" Small stones and dust were dislodged from the rocky outcropping as her Shout tossed the ugly troll over the side of the mountain. She dragged her pack to a nice, dry spot under the jutting rock, kicking the bones of some long-dead animal out of the way as she did so.

She released a puffing breath of relief as she sat down. She rummaged through her pack, and pulled out the aforementioned stale bread and beef jerky. She felt somewhat revived after eating, and she huddled into her pelt to wait out the worst of the snow storm.

An hour or so later, she was able to continue the last leg of the journey. Unfortunately, she didn't quite make it to High Hrothgar by dinner time. Luckily the Greybeards still had some sweetroll left over from Klimmek's most recent delivery, which Arngeir pressed into her hands as if sensing her hunger. "You ripper!" Rose squeaked happily, scoffing the lot in a jiffy.

Arngeir and his friends were a solemn lot; not even Rose was able to coax a smile out of them. Mind you, she was sure she saw Arngeir smirk when she slipped and fell on her bum the first time she tried 'WULD'.

"What brings you here, dovahkiin?" Arngeir whispered in his feather-light voice.

"Arngeir, I need to learn the 'Dragonrend' shout. Can you teach it to me?" Rose whispered too; speaking too loudly in this place felt like sacrilege.

Her face fell, however, when she saw Arngeir's frown. He explained to her that the Greybeards never knew that one. She got the distinct impression that he disapproved of this Shout, and that he disapproved of her wanting to learn it. He also expressed a notion that all things must come to an end so that new things can begin, including their world.

"Arngeir...you must understand, I need to end the threat that Alduin poses to our world. I like this world, so I want to save it."

He pondered, nodding his head gently and breathing deeply for a long while until Rose wondered whether old Arngeir had nodded off. She shifted uncomfortably in the hard wooden seat, inwardly cursing their disdain for creature comforts such as cushions. She coughed politely to get his attention, and he grunted in response. He nodded a few more times for good measure before answering.

"Then, it is time for you to meet our leader, Paarthurnax." he stood up and began to walk to the main foyer, and she followed obediently. "You will need to learn the 'Clear Skies' shout, as the way to Paarthurnax is guarded by deadly storms. Come, let's have Borri show you."

Half an hour later, Rose had learned the complete 'Clear Skies' shout, LOK VAH KOOR. She shook Arngeir and Borri's hands, and made her way cautiously up the mountain, clearing storms with her new Shout. The air was very hard to breathe, and by the time she neared the top, she was panting heavily and trembling from a lack of oxygen at this high altitude. Who in their right mind would live up here, she thought.

And whoever she was expecting was not the great winged beast perched atop a Word Wall.

Just an itty-bitty chapter this time. I wanted to give you a hint of Rose's traumatic past - more will be revealed in later chapters. Consider this more like a bridging chapter: the next chapter will begin to take us more deeply into the main quest (lookout, more spoilers) and we will also see more from our lovable Farkas' point of view.

Chapter Text

"Drem Yol Lok. Greetings wunduniik. I am Paarthurnax." Said the great bronze dragon to the very shocked and speechless 'wunduniik'. "Who are you? What brings you to my strunmah...my mountain?"

"Y-you're...you're the leader of the Greybeards?" Rose stammered.

"That is what they consider me to be." Paarthurnax lowered his head until his head was lined up with Rose. "Tell me, why do you intrude upon my meditation?"

"I need to learn the Dragonrend Shout, actually. I was wondering...could please teach it to me?" She said, taking a step back from the dragon; his breath was rather smelly.

"Drem. Patience. There are formalities which must be observed at the first meeting of two of the dov."

Rose tipped her head respectfully, and waited for the old dragon to continue.

"By long tradition, the elder speaks first. Hear my Thu'um, feel it in your bones. Match it, if you are Dovahkiin!"

Paarthurnax turned his head towards the dormant Word Wall, and released a Fire Breath at it. His Word was imprinted upon the Wall, and Rose walked to it. She closed her eyes, and the Word 'TOOR' floated into her consciousness. Deep within her, she felt an inhuman and ancient presence stir as though it responded to the new Word, enveloping and blending with it until Rose understood the Word. She now knew the second Word in the Fire Breath Shout.

"Come. Show me what you can do. Greet me not as a mortal, but as dovah!" Paarthurnax said, his tone good-natured.

Rose smiled, and then she demonstrated her newly extended Shout. "YOL...TOOR!"

"Ahh...yes! You truly are Dovahkiin. It is long since I have had the pleasure of speech with one such as you..."

And so, a long conversation ensued. Firstly, he explained that Dragonrend was a Shout made by dragon-hating humans and that no dovah would, or could ever use it. Rose asked Paarthurnax many more questions, sating her long curiosity on matters of history that no other living being could give her first-hand knowledge of. She took an instant liking to the dragon; she felt close to him, and trusted him implicitly. Nobody else in the world but her had the soul of dragons within them, apart from dragons themselves - but she was usually killing dragons; so making friends with one gave her an odd sense of kinship with him.

He informed her that in addition to the Dragonrend Shout, an Elder Scroll was used to temporarily defeat Alduin. He suggested speaking with Arngeir; hopefully he would know the whereabouts of this Scroll, or at least be able to point her in the right direction. Despite the disappointment that it wasn't going to be as easy as learning Dragonrend from the dragon, she walked away happy. She meandered down the mountain to High Hrothgar, and sought out Arngeir once again.

After a meagre fare of dried fruit and bread, Arngeir suggested seeking out the librarian at the College of Winterhold. If anyone were to know the whereabouts of the Elder Scroll, it would be him. Arngeir told her to go to bed then, and Arngeir showed uncharacteristic fatherly warmth towards her by bringing her a mug of warm milk. In the morning, Rose thanked the old blokes for their help and their quiet understanding, and pulled open the front door of High Hrothgar.

She heard a familiar whinny, and her heart leaped. "Allie!" She skipped down the steps two at a time, and spotted the horse at the bottom, nosing the chest where Klimmek dumped his supplies. "What are you doing here, you naughty old nag? I thought I told you to stay put!" she scratched Allie's forelock, and she nudged Rose expectantly as if to say, 'Where's my apple?'. "I haven't got any more apples for you. Oh, wait. There might be one in this chest. I'm sure the old farts in there won't notice if we pinch one!" Luckily, there was one slightly shriveled green apple. The hungry horse nosed Rose out of the way to get at it, making Rose laugh.

Together, the two friends made their way back down the mountain. Rose hoped that Allie hadn't been waiting for too long; it had been snowing on and off up until this morning. In contrast to her trip up the mountain, the sky was now a perfect, unblemished blue and the sun was warm. Rose felt a surge of happiness as she took in the views around her. She sighed contentedly as she picked out a few different landmarks, including the telltale stone arches leading up to a barrow. She shivered when she saw that; seeing them in the distance always gave her an ominous feeling.

They were almost to the bottom when Rose heard some growling coming from behind them. She dismounted, and readied her weapon; there were three wolves, which she dispatched easily as usual. She took a step back, and tripped over something warm and furry, landing with a winding thud on her back. "What in the - " she blinked, and there above her was Allie's muzzle blowing warm air on her cheek, and on the other side, a billy goat looking accusingly at her. "Well?" she said to it, before climbing back onto her feet.

It was midday when Rose and Allie made it back into Ivarstead. She procured a nice big bucket of oats for Allie, and gave her a good brushing. After she filled her own belly with hot stew and ale, she wrote a note to send to Farkas. She hoped it wasn't too forward - but she did want him to know that she cared for him.

Dearest Farkas,

I am writing to let you know that I will not be back as soon as I had hoped.

I have learned that in order to defeat Alduin, I need to find an Elder Scroll. I am to head to the College of Winterhold to find out where I can obtain the Scroll.

I hope things are alright at home. I miss you very much and I am looking forward to seeing you.

All My Love,

Rose

She used one of Wilhelm's envelopes and borrowed some of his wax to seal the letter, and left it on the counter for when the courier would make his daily pickup. She purchased supplies for herself and Allie, and with a pang of nervousness and reluctance, she left for Winterhold.

ooooooooooooooooooooooo

Farkas slept in his own bed whilst she was gone. He lay there for a long time each night, inhaling her scent and thinking about her, recalling every detail of her face. The ache in his heart grew to an unbearable degree, and his fellow werewolf family members sensed it. They watched him moping about, unsmiling and quieter than his usual self. He wasn't in the mood for banter - his usual tormentors were rewarded with icy stares and angry retorts instead of good-natured playfulness.

Aela decided to press him further about Rose. "Nah, she doesn't love me like that. We are best friends. She cares for me, but only as a friend. She's too good for the likes of me - she's intelligent, vivacious, funny...loved by everyone. She's the famous legend of old, and she could have her pick of anyone. Only a king would be fit for her. I'm just a big, dumb oaf, only good for clobbering people." He said glumly, staring at his fingers.

Aela lost her temper then, and slapped him across the head, hard. "What was that for!?" He shouted, rubbing his head, glaring hotly at her.

"Stop being such a stubborn idiot!" She yelled. "She loves you, and only you!" Farkas folded his arms, unconvinced. "You don't believe me? She follows you everywhere, always sitting with you and wanting to go on jobs with you. She stares at you all the time, smiles at you a lot. She is...gods, Farkas. Do you see her cuddling anyone else like she does you? I've never seen her rub anyone else's sore muscles, or smooth a stray hair. I've never seen her happy like she is with you." Aela took a breath, and ran her hands through her hair.

Farkas was shaking his head, daring to hope, but also scared to. "Look. I was supposed to go to a farm near Riften - something of theirs was stolen, and they've asked the Companions to bring it back. You need to get out of here for a while, give you a chance to think about what you really want." She said, stroking his face.

"I know what I want, Aela. I want Rose." He said, shoving her hand away.

"Go to Riften. Talk to Dravin Llanith at Merryfair Farm. Then go to the Temple of Mara, and speak to Maramal. He is skilled in matters of the heart, and will guide you." Aela said, turning to walk away. She hesitated, and looked over her shoulder at him. "Oh, and Farkas? I'm sorry I slapped you."

Farkas sought Kodlak's counsel, too. The old man knew Farkas' heart, and knew that when Farkas loved someone, he loved them completely. He agreed that some time away would be beneficial - perhaps he would realise just how much being away from her hurt, and he would build up the confidence to approach her. Speaking to the priest would be a wonderful idea, as the man was very persuasive and inspirational. It would also do Rose good - she would miss him, and realise that there is no more time to waste. "Go to Riften, my boy. Dravin happens to be an old friend of mine. He and his wife have done it tough for many years - don't take their money, do you hear me?" Kodlak said, grasping Farkas' hand.

"Yes Kodlak." Farkas said, returning the warm grasp.

"You will leave at first light." Kodlak said, releasing his hand.

"But Rose - "

Kodlak held up a hand. "No buts!"

Farkas left in the morning, his heart heavy. He strained his senses as far as they could reach, but he couldn't sense her anywhere close by. He figured he'd not have seen her if he'd stayed another day anyway. He took a carriage to Riften, seeking out Merryfair Farm before entering the gates of Riften.

The farmers had indeed had a tough life. Some nasty thief had pinched his family heirloom, the only thing of value that they owned. Farkas felt angry for them, and assured them he would find the bow and bring it back. Dravin patted Farkas' shoulder in thanks, the emotion on his face obvious.

"I'd go and get it myself, but my wife has bad arthritis in her wrists and can't manage the work on her own."

Farkas wanted to help - despite that he wanted to get back home as soon as possible, he felt very sad for the farmer and his wife. If Dravin's wife is injured, they must be having trouble keeping up with the workload, he thought. Starting with the pile of wood, he picked up the axe, and began to cut up the wood. Dravin told him he needn't worry, but Farkas insisted. He kept going until all the wood was cut, and then he insisted on helping with some other jobs.

"The wheat needs to be harvested and taken to the market, to be sold." Dravin's wife, Synda, said.

"Then I will take care of it." Farkas said, gravely. Dravin began to protest, his pride only willing to step aside only so far. Farkas would have none of it - and by the time he was done, the sun was setting. Farkas bade the farmers goodbye, and headed to the town.

The guards saw him approaching in the gloaming, their greedy eyes wondering what they could get out of this newcomer. But when the guard opened his mouth to demand coin for entry, Farkas only needed to snarl, and the guard's mouth snapped shut and the gate was opened. He rented a room at The Bee and Barb, and tried his best to get a wink of sleep.

After two hours of trying, he decided that he would instead search the Ratway, where Dravin's bow was thought to have been taken. He slipped out quietly, unseen, and crept through the filthy, scum-ridden tunnels underground. A few lowlife bandits charged him, only to fall to their deaths at the end of his sword.

Eventually, he came to the entry to the Ragged Flagon. That damned sleaze Brynjolf is skulking around in there, thought Farkas. He hoped to avoid him, but knew that if anyone knew of the bow's whereabouts, it was him. With a sigh of resignation, he sought out Brynjolf. The man was sly and cunning, wanting Farkas to part with the dwarven dagger he had sheathed in his boot.

"No. Pick somethin' else, this one's not for trade." Rose had given him that dagger, and it meant a lot to him.

"It's not worth much, Companion, it's a small price to pay. Cough up." Brynjolf said, holding his hand out.

Farkas snatched him up, clutching the front of his robe. "I said, this one is not for trade! Pick somethin' else!" He growled, allowing his beast to reveal its fangs. Brynjolf's eyes widened, his mouth becoming a perfect 'O'. He wasn't a coward by any means, but this hulking brute was rather intimidating with his sharp teeth and strange eyes. "Give me what I seek, thief, or I will eat you." Farkas said, allowing his eyes to succumb to the change. Brynjolf gasped, and spilled the beans.

Two hours later, Farkas emerged from the Ratway, bow in hand. He'd even collected a few coins and some helpful potions - some health potions, stamina potions and a couple of cure disease potions. Maybe these will help the farmers, he thought.

He went back to his room at the inn, and slept fitfully until well after sunrise. He took the wheat to the market, and used his intimidating looks to secure a good deal for the farmers. He put in a good word for them too, telling the buyers that he expected the farmers to be paid this amount each time. Next, he turned his attention to the Temple of Mara. There, he sought out the priest Maramal, and before long, he was unloading his fears and his feelings.

"I have only one answer for you, friend Farkas. Give her the Amulet, before she seeks love elsewhere. From what you say, it seems that she loves you as well. She will believe that you do not love her, if you wait for any longer. Take the chance – if you do not, your good heart will become bitter and resentful. Bring her here, and when you do, I will marry you both, whenever you wish."

Farkas left Riften then, his heart full of hope, his confidence sure. He ran all the way to Merryfair Farm, giving a very happy Dravin his bow as well as the coin from the sale, and the loot from the Ratway.

"You look much happier than you did yesterday, Companion." Dravin said.

"I'm going home to my woman." Farkas said, grinning from ear to ear.

"The guards have a horse over there, for emergencies. I'm sure they'd let you borrow it, if you be sure to bring it back." Dravin said, winking.

Farkas thanked him for the advice, and found one of the guards. "Help out a man in love?" He said, earning a throaty laugh. Thankfully, the guard was a romantic at heart, and loaned Farkas the horse. Being a Companion, the guard did not have to worry that his horse would never return. Farkas even left a generous deposit, should any harm come to the horse. He rode the horse home, hard and fast. The stallion proved to be a mighty steed, strong and sure, unfaltering.

As Farkas passed by the road to Ivarstead, he reached as far as his wolf senses could go, hoping to catch a whiff of Rose's scent on the wind. He knew it was unlikely, but he missed her that much that he had to try. He hoped that she would already be safe and sound behind Jorrvaskr's walls by the time he made it back. If not...he would head back out and meet her halfway.

0o0o0o0o0o0o

Njada intercepted the courier as she passed him on his way up the stairs leading to Jorrvaskr. "Somethin' for us?" she said, blocking his way.

"Yeah. A letter for Farkas." he said, immediately handing her the letter.

Njada snatched the letter from his hand, turning her back on the boy without further acknowledgement. The courier had hoped for a tip, but obviously none was forthcoming, so he shrugged and headed to the Bannered Mare for his next letter and parcel pickup.

Njada ripped open the letter, scanning the contents with greedy, shrewd eyes. "Hmmh-hmmh-hmmh." Farkas will not be getting his hands on this lovey-dovey letter, she decided. She stuffed the letter into the inside pocket of her cuirass, and continued on her merry way. When she passed through the market, she bumped into Ysolda.

"Hey, Njada. Got a proposition for you." said Ysolda.

"Yeah? It'd better be good." she scowled.

"I need someone to go to Sleeping Tree Camp and fetch me some Sleeping Tree Sap. I'll pay you handsomely for whatever you bring me."

"And what the hell is Sleeping Tree Sap?"

Ysolda explained that it was a narcotic, said to raise the imbiber's health as well as cause mild hallucinogenic effects. "It makes you really sleepy and dreamy, and you feel like you're moving through a dream. It's great stuff, really." Ysolda said, winking conspiratorially.

You could almost see Njada's sly brain ticking over as a plan began to formulate. I could tip some into Farkas' mead...

0o0o0o0o0o0o

The trip to Winterhold took Rose and Allie a little over two days and two nights. The way was perilous in some parts; they were forced to walk slowly and carefully for long periods over icy ground and loose gravel, and at one point during one of these dangerous bits, they were set upon by a band of bandits. A bandit's arrow managed to become lodged in Allie's flank, and she screamed in pain. Rose stood in front of her on the narrow path in an effort to protect her, hacking and slashing with her sword.

"FUS...RO, DAH!" she Shouted, once she had all three bandits lined up in the right spot. The three tumbled down the hill pell-mell, becoming a tangle of limbs at the bottom. She raced towards them, screaming a battle cry with her dual blades poised. She looked a fearsome sight as she came towards them, hair coming loose from her braids, red face and whites of the eyes showing. By the time they managed to disentangle themselves from each other, Rose had already split them open like old women's purses.

She came back to Allie, and tended to her arrow-wound. Luckily it was only very minor, and she was able to patch it up with some crushed blisterwort. She wished she knew a 'Healing Hands' spell.

By the end of the first day she had encountered a blood dragon, a cluster of Frostbite spiders, a thief, more wolves and a bear. She was exhausted by the time she curled up on the ground against Allie's belly, and fell into a twitchy, heavy sleep.

She was awoken the next morning by soft rain falling against her cheeks. Her muscles ached but once she'd had some tucker and a cup of tea, she was as ready as ever she could be, to face the day ahead. "Well my friend, we've got another day to go. Hopefully Winterhold isn't quite as horrid as I've heard it is, and we can get you a nice place to rest for a few days."

This day of travel proved to be similar to the last day, except towards nightfall, they were chased by three frost trolls. Rose was frightened to death of the things, and there was no way she was going to take on three at the same time. She rode Allie hard for what felt like hours, until finally, they outran the freakish monsters. When they stopped for the night, the snow was falling quite heavily. Rose erected her tiny tent next to a stand of trees, hoping that the trees would be enough to shelter Allie from the worst of the snow. There was an abundance of snowberries for Allie to nibble on, so Rose didn't even bother with cooking.

They arrived in Winterhold about mid-morning, and Rose tethered Allie to the railing. The innkeeper informed her that she could put her horse in any one of the abandoned wrecks that were once homes; some of them still had roofs that would give Allie shelter. She paid the innkeeper good coin to ensure Allie was kept watered, fed and safe while she was gone.

She walked up the steep stone walkway; the higher she got, the harder the wind and snow blew until her hands shook in fear. Dragonborn she may be, but it didn't stop her fear of falling. Holy Mara, she thought, if this wind blows any harder, I could very well topple over the edge. She took a deep breath and steeled herself. But the worst was not over - all of a sudden, the walls fell away, leaving only a broken path to cross. Sweet Talos, help me... Her stomach cramped up, and she felt the urge to evacuate her bowels. She managed to breathe the feeling away, but the thought of crossing that path made her feel nauseated. I could crawl across, she thought, but dismissed the thought immediately - here comes the mighty Dragonborn, saviour of Skyrim, crawling across the bridge like a frightened fox cub. She shook her limbs, gave a huff and a puff, and pretended that it wasn't a windy, snowy, narrow and broken path miles from the ground. She strode across stiffly, looking as confident as you please, and then she was stopped by a tall elf woman.

"Halt, stranger. What business do you have here?" said the woman.

"I need to see ah...what's his name," Rose clicked her fingers and squeezed her eyes, trying to remember the man's name she was supposed to see - her ordeal had turned her brains temporarily to mush, "Urag Gro-Shrubs, or whatever his name is." she finished.

The tall elf snorted derisively, "Well, first you have to prove that you're worthy of entering. Can you do any spells?" she said, haughtily.

"Hmmm. Not really, nup."

"Well, you may purchase a tome from me."

"Isn't that rather fickle? Fine. Give me a 'Healing Hands' spell." Rose said, too tired for the Altmer's silly games.

"Alright. Then cast it on me, and we'll see if you're worthy of entering the College."

Rose rolled her eyes, before quickly flipping through the tome. Once she was confident that she knew the spell, she gave the book back to the woman. She imagined healing warmth gathering in her palm, and once she opened her eyes to look at her hand, she saw a golden globe sitting in her palm, wisps of light flowing from it. She didn't give herself time to be amazed; she threw the spell at the woman, and watched as the Altmer tried to suppress a look of enjoyment from the warmth of the healing spell.

"Very well, you may enter. Follow me, please." the woman turned towards the College, then abruptly turned around again, thrusting her hand towards Rose. "Please forgive my lack of manners. My name is Faralda."

Rose took Faralda's hand gratefully, "Well met, Faralda. My name is Rose, dragon-slayer extraordinaire." Rose winked, and laughed at Faralda's shocked expression.

"You're the Dragonborn! Welcome, welcome!" Faralda's demeanour changed from slightly haughty to friendly and accommodating, and Rose relaxed a little.

She followed Faralda into the college grounds, and Faralda introduced her to a few people that were milling about. Rose was eager to get in and meet this orc, so she could get on with her journey. Faralda pointed her in the direction of the library, and Rose took the stairs two at a time. Her stomach rumbled, reminding her that it was nearly lunch time; she would talk to this bloke and then she would go back into town for a nice hot beef stew.

When she found the old orc librarian in the Arcanaeum, she approached him cautiously; she'd heard he was a cantankerous old bastard. True to the rumour, he was cranky indeed. He spent some time scoffing at her, making her feel like a tiny worm before he shoved a couple of books into her hands. She grunted, and took the books to the table to read through.

One hour later and twice as confused, she approached him again. He recommended she take a trip north to visit the author in his little hideout, and warned her that the old fellow was as mad as a cut snake.

After that, she eagerly went back to the Frozen Hearth Inn and ordered up a feast. Once she was full, she left Allie with some more food and water, and headed for the shore. She stretched her vision as far as it could go, trying to figure out the easiest way to cross the little islets of ice without having to swim through too much icy water.

Once she was almost to the larger islet where she assumed Septimus Signus lived, she thought she heard a noise far behind her. She turned around to look just in time to see a horse on the ice. Her heart lurched painfully in her chest, and she screamed Allie's name as the horse slipped and fell into the icy water.

"Allie! No!" Rose cried, dashing across the ice, desperately trying to make it to the spot where her animal friend had fallen. When she got there, Allie's front legs were scrabbling for purchase against the slippery ice. Rose grabbed her legs, trying in vain to pull the horse up, but she was too heavy. Allie was screaming, her eyes white with fear and foam flying from her muzzle. Rose cast her new healing spell over Allie, but it did nothing except to prolong the inevitable. I told you not to follow me, you stupid horse. Her heart broke as she realised there was nothing she could do for her friend, and she clutched Allie's neck. "I'm sorry Allie...I'm so sorry!" she sobbed, stroking Allie's neck.

Allie seemed to realise that there was no point in continuing to struggle, her eyes locking onto Rose's as she sank beneath the icy water. Rose sobbed as she watched Allie sink, until the murky depths obscured her.

She sat on the ice for a long time afterwards, her sobs gradually subsiding into a hiccuping whimper. She began to realise that she was very cold, and made herself continue on.

Well there it is. I hope it wasn't too cheesy, haha. Writing this last scene reminded me of The NeverEnding Story when Artax sinks into the quicksand. It broke my heart when I was a kid, and I can still feel the pain when I think about how I felt! Anyway. Please leave me a review, it really helps me to know you're enjoying! :)

Chapter Text

Rose entered Septimus Signus' icy cave shivering and broken-hearted. She knew the old man inside was crazy, so she expected no warm welcome or comfort of any kind. The first thing she noticed was a Dwemer door of some sort. How weird, she thought. There was a ramp along the wall by which she could get to Septimus' living area. It was slippery, so she walked carefully. When she neared the bottom of the slope she spotted the old hermit, mumbling to himself as he paced back and forth in front of the Dwemer construct.

"Big, Dwemer, in the beyond. I'll know your lost unknown and rise to your depth." he babbled. Septimus wasn't looking at her; in fact, he barely acknowledged her presence. It was at though he was talking to himself.

"Septimus Signus?" she said, approaching nearer. "I heard you know about Elder Scrolls."

Septimus did acknowledge her then. He regarded her quizzically as if seeing her for the first time, as if she had appeared before him out of thin air. He rabbited on in his irritatingly cryptic fashion for several minutes; Rose stood with her arms folded, waiting patiently for him to finish. Being patient was rather difficult however; the trauma that she had experienced less than an hour ago still hadn't sunk in fully - she hadn't given herself enough time to process it. This left her feeling very shaky and jumpy, and she felt that at any moment she would snatch the old man up and shake some sense into him.

The mostly one-sided conversation was a guessing game; Rose had to concentrate very hard to take in his every word so that she could process it when he was finished speaking. After much prodding on her part, he eventually revealed the location of the Scroll. Blackreach! She'd heard tales of this place, and it never failed to strike fear into her heart. The thought of the massive and alien underground world filled with chaurus, falmer and other creepy things brought nightmarish images of being lost and alone, never to see a human face again.

She would have to access it by entering Alftand which was relatively close by; but there was no way she would do it alone. She would need a companion for this trip, and there was only one choice. There was only one person who would help her feel safe; one person to ward off the nightmares that lurked within Blackreach as well as the nightmares in her own subconscious.

She left the old man with some apples from her pack that would she would have given to Allie the horse, and braved the ice and snow once again.

0o0o0o0o0o

Rose made her way back to Winterhold, avoiding the place where Allie fell. Once at the inn, she ordered a hot meal and some warm mead, after which she all but collapsed into bed. Though she fell asleep at around 9pm and woke up at around 7am the next morning, her sleep had been fitful and full of nonsensical dreams.

After having a light breakfast, she made her way to Windhelm, arriving about mid-afternoon. From there, she caught a carriage back to Whiterun. The thought of seeing Farkas again set her heart to beating wildly; she missed him with a fierceness that threatened to tear her heart out of her throat. She needed to feel the comfort of his strong arms around her and his breath against her hair, to hear his heart beating. She wanted to feel his warmth seeping into her, to ease the tight pain in her chest. She wanted to hear his deep rumbling voice, and his booming laughter. She repeated his name in her head like a mantra; the image of his handsome, caring face looming behind her eyelids.

The gentle rocking of the carriage along with the Alfarinn the driver's soft humming eventually sent her off to sleep. She had a heavy, dreamless sleep and woke feeling much fresher. It was now pitch dark outside, and her stomach rumbled to remind her that it was probably past dinner time. "Where are we?" she said to the driver.

"We're just crossing over the border of Eastmarch into Whiterun Hold, Ma'am. Are you faring well back there?"

"I'm grand, thanks for asking. How about you?"

"I'll be fine once I get a belly full of hot mead." he quipped.

Though it was night time, she sat up at the front with the driver and chatted to him for the rest of the trip; it had been feeling like the longest trip in history, but when there was someone else to talk to, it seemed to make the rest of the trip go by much faster. Rose asked him about his adventures as a carriage driver, and he regaled her with many tales of his many passengers. Rose found herself getting lost in his stories; some sad, and some amusing.

"I remember once, I had this pompous Altmer in the back. He was carrying on and complaining about how Nords didn't know how to travel in style and why in oblivion were there no cushions. I just ignored him - to him, I was just a barbarian Nord, so I had nothing to say that would be interesting or meaningful." Alfarinn said.

"I'm sure I've never met an Altmer like that before. I thought they were all friendly Nord-lovers!" Rose joked, earning a chuckle from the man.

"Hmm. Yeah. Well this guy wasn't very friendly. He kept asking me for the cushion off my seat, and when it started to rain, oh! I thought he was really going to cry! I tossed him my blanket and told him to cover up, and then once it stopped raining he could use it as a cushion. 'But then it'll be all wet.' the elf said. I lost my temper then, and told him to stop being such a milk drinker!"

"You really told him eh?" Rose said, wondering what the outcome of this tale would be. "What then?"

"Then, we were set upon by five or six bandits. I drew my sword - but before I'd even jumped off the carriage, this bloody sooky elf had slaughtered the lot of them with magic! I could not believe it. It seemed he wasn't such a milk drinker after all!"

"And then what did the elf do after that?"

"Well, he just climbed back into the carriage and resumed his complaining, and I resumed my ignoring!"

Rose laughed, thankful to have someone to chat to. She estimated that it now must have been close to morning. She yawned heavily, and excused herself. She climbed into the back again, and curled up on the seat. She slept heavily until midday, and before she knew it, they were passing the familiar landmarks of Whiterun. The passed the meadery, and Pelagia Farm. Rose's heart was in her throat, and she was almost frothing at the mouth with excitement at seeing Farkas again. As they neared the stables, however, Rose's heart sank. Skulvar is going to be very upset about Allie, she thought.

Thankfully though, Skulvar wasn't outside. It was dinner time, so he was most likely inside having his dinner. She thanked Alfarinn, and waved him goodbye. She jogged up the path to the gates, feeling elated to finally be home.

0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o

Farkas was becoming increasingly restless. She said she'd be back within the week, and it's been 8 days. "I'm going to head out and meet her, make sure she gets home safely." he slurred, attempting to slide his Skyforge Steel Greatsword into its scabbard, and failing miserably. He was feeling a lot more drowsy than he should have; he'd only had three mugs of warm mead.

"I don't think you're in any state to travel anywhere, brother. How much have you had to drink?" Vilkas said, sitting his brother down at the little table in his room.

"Not much. I feel strange, I feel...sleepy. What sort of honey did Njada put in it?" Farkas said, propping his increasingly heavy head in his hands, though his hands were becoming floppy, too.

"Wha - honey? I didn't get honey in mine. Did you ask for honey?" Vilkas said, picking up Farkas' cup to sniff inside.

"Nope." Farkas' vision was becoming blurrier by the minute, and his limbs felt weak. He looked up; why was Vilkas' hair purple? "Vil?"

"Farkas? You don't look too good." Vilkas pressed his palm to Farkas' forehead, pleased on hand to find that he wasn't burning up, but baffled as to why his skin was looking much paler. Sweat trickled down Farkas' brow, and his mouth hang open, slack.

"Help me." Farkas mumbled, trying to lift his arm to unbuckle his armour.

Vilkas quickly unbuckled the straps and removed Farkas' armour, and then he half-carried him to his bed to lay him down. "Brother, I'm going to get Danica. While I'm gone, I'll send someone in to watch over you." he said, trying not to sound panicked. Vilkas had never seen Farkas look quite like this before, not since the time when they were kids and Farkas ate a rotten slaughterfish egg. He propped a few pillows behind Farkas' head, and left to find someone to watch over him.

But Aela wasn't in her room, and Skjor not in his. He figured that the pair were likely off hunting together. He headed down to Kodlak's room, but the old man was fast asleep. Kodlak had been weary and shaky of late; he wouldn't trouble him with Farkas being sick unless there was nobody else. He checked the whelp room; nobody. He knew that Ria and Athis were out on a job, so that left Torvar and Njada. So he headed upstairs, finding Torvar passed out at the table, his face pressed against an apple pie. Bits of stewed apple clung to his beard, and every time Torvar exhaled, the bit of apple would wiggle. Vilkas shook his head, and looked around some more.

Njada sat in the shadows, as usual, nursing her mead. "Njada!" he called.

"What?" she snapped.

"Get your arse downstairs, Farkas is ill. I need you to watch over him while I fetch Danica!"

"Alright." Njada said, shrugging her shoulders.

It wasn't until Vilkas was opening the door to the Temple of Kynareth did he question why Njada didn't seem surprised, or why she didn't ask what was wrong with Farkas.

0o0o0o0o0o00o

Warning - Upcoming scene contains mild dub-con.

Farkas lay back on his bed, trying to make sense of the purple, swirling images before his eyes. He couldn't be sure whether his eyes were open or closed, and he didn't really care. He felt...awesome. He couldn't move, and his mouth wouldn't work, but he felt lighter than he had in years. Something cool and soothing flowed through his veins, making him feel airy and peaceful. He hummed a tune softly, not able to move his numb lips to form words. He felt the familiar pressure of a fart building, smiling stupidly in satisfaction when he had enough strength to push it out. Damn, but this feels great! he thought.

Eventually, he drifted off into a semi-conscious state of limbo. Reality and dreams mixed together until he couldn't tell what was what, and he could do naught but lay there.

During a lucid moment, he became aware of someone entering the room. That someone climbed on top of him, and he felt pressure against his pelvis. Rose? No, not Rose. The smell was all wrong...Njada! He prized open his eyes, squinting in an effort to focus. With a divine effort, he raised his arms to try to push the horrid woman off him. "Gedoff me...fuckin'..." he mumbled, willing his lips to work. "Off!"

"Not until I get what I want, Farkas." Njada hissed.

She produced a purple vial from the inside pocket of her armour, and uncorked it. Farkas tried to focus his swimming vision on it, but it was useless. And when Njada pressed the vial to his lips, the sweet taste of it coaxed him to drink. He cursed his own stupidity as she began undoing his belt buckle. Gods no, Farkas screamed inside his head.

0o0o0o0o

Vilkas stood at the threshold inside the Temple, his arms folded. He tapped his foot impatiently; Danica was healing a very badly injured soldier, and Vilkas had been told in no uncertain terms not to interrupt and to stand and wait, not that Vilkas had any intention of waiting. If the woman wasn't done in the next ten seconds, he was going to lift her bodily and carry her back to Jorrvaskr. Acolyte Jenssen had no idea how to deal with illnesses such as what Vilkas described; he was fairly useless for anything except following Danica around. It was obvious that the man was only part of the Temple because he wanted to get into Danica's pants.

0o0o0o0o

Rose jogged past Breezehome, giving it a smile as she went. She chuckled, wondering whether Farkas had looked after her cobwebs. I'm coming, Farkas! she broke into a run, her heart pounding almost painfully. She ran through the market square, apologising to the few people that she accidentally bumped. Farkas, Farkas, Farkas...she chanted silently, desperation propelling her legs up the stairs two at a time. She ran past the Gildergreen, and bounded up the steps to Jorrvaskr.

She entered, surprised to find the hall empty save for Torvar, who was passed out drunk with his face pillowed by a comfortable-looking apple pie. "Dickhead." Rose laughed softly, stroking his head once before running off to the living quarters.

She threw open the doors, panting and smiling broadly. Almost there...her feet felt leaden, like she couldn't get to his room quick enough. Her hands shook as she reached for the handle, and her sweaty palm caused her hand to slip, the handle making a loud thunk as it sprang back to its original position. She wiped her hand hurriedly, and tried the door again.

And when she stepped into his room, all of her dreams came to a crushing, abrupt end. There was Njada, grinding herself atop Farkas. And Farkas' hands were on her thighs; he was clearly enjoying what she was doing. Njada heard the strangled cry that Rose made, and turned her head towards her. "Get out." Njada hissed, though she smiled like the cat that got the cream.

Rose felt as though her heart had been torn out. Bile rose to her throat as she turned and fled, and this time, she did not stop to pat silly Torvar, and she did not stop to pick a flower from the Gildergreen. She did not stop to say hello to Adrianne, and she did not acknowledge the friendly greeting given by the guards at the gate. Rose sprinted across to the watchtower, and jumped off the top and landed agilely. She rolled, and then resumed her sprint.

She only stopped when Skulvar stepped out and grabbed her; he'd heard she was back, and he wanted to know where Allie was. But when he noticed the distress Rose was in, he simply guided her into the relative privacy of the empty stall that Allie had once occupied. "Rose, what's wrong?" he said, taking her hands.

"F-Farkas...he...oh, Skulvar!" she burst into fresh tears, and threw herself against Skulvar. He instinctively wrapped his arms around her, soothing her with soft words and stroking her hair.

He held her like that for quite some time, until eventually her sobs subsided. He placed two fingers under her chin, and gently tipped her face up. "Do you want to talk about it?" he said, searching her eyes.

"No...no, it's alright. I'm sorry to put this on you, I must look a mess!" she rubbed her face, and pulled the sleeve of her tunic from underneath her armour to wipe her nose. "Sorry." she tried to sound light-hearted, she really did. But she didn't think she'd ever be able to feel light-hearted ever again. And she still had yet to tell Skulvar about Allie...

Skulvar looked expectantly at her - he had originally intended to question her about Allie, but he couldn't bring himself to in light of her distress. He figured she would open up and tell him when she had gathered her wits about her.

"Skulvar...I need to tell you about Allie." she took his hands once again, dropping her eyes to their clasped hands. Skulvar gave her hands an encouraging squeeze, but remained silent. "She fell..." Rose's voice shook, and she fought to retain control. "I had paid someone to look after her in Winterhold, as I had to go across the ice to this little island. I was almost there when I heard Allie scream...oh gods..." Rose began to cry again, but she quickly got hold of herself. "She had escaped from the place where I had secured her, and followed me without me knowing. She tried to cross the icebergs! I couldn't save her..." Rose pressed her face into Skulvar's neck and wrapped her arms around his waist. He smelled of leather and horse, and Rose found she like that smell very much. "I'm sorry..." she cried, clutching Skulvar's tunic.

"Shhh, it's alright Rose. I'm not happy about Allie, but it wasn't your fault. She was a stubborn horse, and she clearly loved you so much that she wanted to follow you everywhere." he soothed, stroking her hair once again.

"She even followed me up to High Hrothgar when I'd tied her up in Ivarstead." Rose said, smiling at the memory of the hungry horse gobbling up the shriveled apple that she'd found in the chest outside High Hrothgar. Skulvar's smell, his voice and his soothing gestures were calming her quickly; despite the pain in her heart, the comfort that he was providing helped her feel stronger.

Despite Skulvar's best efforts, he couldn't help but feel highly aroused by Rose's closeness. Her whole body was pressed against him, and her lips were against his collarbone. He wondered whether she could feel his hardness against her hip. "Rose?" he said, tugging her head back gently.

"Mmm?" she looked into his eyes, wondering if she could marry a man like him. He certainly was handsome, and he was a hard worker. Though she loved the excitement of day-to-day life as a warrior, a part of her longed for the simple life that Skulvar lived. She shook the thought from her mind - she was acting out of hurt and rejection, not out of a genuine interest in the man. But the feel of his erection digging into her hip beckoned - perhaps a night of comfort sex would do her the world of good.

"Rose, I ahh..." Skulvar didn't quite know what to say; he could see the desire flare to life in her eyes, but -

She thrust her tongue into his mouth, immediately unbuckling her armour as she kissed him. It took him a moment to register what was happening, but when he did, he got his clothes off quicker than a bride's nightie. He helped her remove the rest of her clothing, and before long, he had her up against a post. He drove into her tight heat like a man starved, and she attacked him with jagged, bitten nails and teeth.

It'd been a long time since Skulvar had been with a woman, let alone the sexy woman who was ravaging him this way. All too quickly he felt his climax approach, and he was powerless to stop it. Rose felt ripped off; she was now upset as well as sexually frustrated.

"I - I had better keep going. Th-thank you for being a friend." Rose said, to fill the awkward silence as she dressed herself.

"Any time." Skulvar grinned, pulling his pants up.

As soon as she was dressed, she departed for Alftand.

Well there you have it! Poor Rose, poor Farkas! And Torvar, though at least his breakfast will be right there in his face...literally. I'm sorry about all the drama: it gets better eventually! :)

Chapter Text

Sorry about the previous dark chapter. But have no fear - Farkas and Rose will soon work it out, and Njada will get what's coming to her! :)

As the sun crested the horizon to warm Rose's cold face as she dozed in the back of Bjorlam's carriage, Farkas was beginning to recover from the effects of Sleeping Tree sap overdose.

"Pass me that charcoal, Vilkas. I'm going to crush it up and mix it with this cure poison potion, and that will help to clean his stomach." Danica said, rubbing a cool, damp cloth over Farkas' sweat-soaked brow.

Vilkas complied, eager to help in any way he could. The previous night, Danica had sent Jenssen back with Vilkas to fetch Farkas to the Temple. By the time the pair had arrived to Farkas' room, the big man was unconscious and barely breathing. Njada was squatting on the floor in the corner, rocking back and forth with a guilty, stricken look on her face. Vilkas glared at her.

"I'll speak to you later." He hissed. Njada's eyes went wide, and suddenly, she up and fled to the whelp quarters. "Farkas!" Vilkas slapped his brother's cheeks, but there was no response. His usually super-heated skin was freezing to the touch. "Oh no..." He cried, lifting his brother's shoulders.

"Let's get him to the Temple, quickly." Jenssen said, and between the two men, they carried the gentle giant to the Temple of Kynareth.

After examining Farkas, Danica concluded that he had been poisoned. "Perhaps an overdose of something." She said.

Vilkas told her everything that he had seen, and about the way Njada reacted, which made it even more obvious that he had been deliberately poisoned.

Danica wasted no time then; she administered crushed herbs, tea infusions, and potion after potion until eventually, Farkas' body began to respond. He regained enough consciousness for his guts to heave and he voided the contents of his stomach, immediately falling back into unconsciousness.

He followed this pattern over the course of the night, but gradually, his skin began to warm up. During the day that followed he was allowed to stay at the temple until nightfall; by then he was awake, though he was very weak. Vilkas and Acolyte Jenssen carried him back to Jorrvaskr and put him to bed.

When Jenssen was gone, Vilkas took Farkas' hand in his. "Can you tell me what happened?" Vilkas asked.

Farkas swallowed thickly, his voice raspy and thready as he answered. "Njada...tried to rape me."

"What!?" Vilkas shouted, rage boiling.

"When she came in here, she jumped on me. I tried to get her off me but I was too weak, too...ya know. She made me drink more of that purple stuff, and the last thing I remember is her undoing my pants and trying to get my dick out. Lucky for me I couldn't have cracked a fat if I'd wanted to!" Farkas started to chuckle, but broke into a coughing fit instead; all the vomiting had made his throat raw and itchy.

Vilkas couldn't believe it; his brother had been half dead; if it had not been for the beast blood, he likely wouldn't have survived the overdose. And here he was, trying to crack jokes. Strong, easy-going Farkas.

The door creaked open slowly. Kodlak entered, followed by Skjor and Aela.

"What happened?" Kodlak demanded.

"Njada drugged him, apparently in order to get him to fuck her. But that...that piece of diseased skeever's infected ass crap overdosed him!" Vilkas growled, his eyes glowing golden.

"Easy now, Vilkas. Where has she gone to now?" Kodlak said, his deep voice gentle and soothing, as always.

Vilkas shrugged, and all five werewolves were silent for a few moments; they let their wolf senses guide them. When the answer was revealed, they all looked at each other, and Kodlak nodded. A silent agreement was made - Kodlak may have been old and ailing, but he was still their Harbinger. He would make her answer for her grave crime.

"Skjor, find her and bring her back!" Kodlak commanded.

0o0o0o0o

Njada was trembling like a leaf as she stuffed some belongings into a bag. I need to get out of here before they find me, otherwise I'm a dead woman, she shrieked silently. She knew she had gone too far. She had doubled the usual dose of Sleeping Tree Sap, figuring that it would make Farkas extra docile. Just when she felt the stirrings of success, she had the added satisfaction of Rose's reaction when she'd barged in. Njada had placed Farkas' limp hands on her thighs to make it look more believable, but she couldn't be sure whether Rose had seen that or not. Just when she thought her plan was going to succeed for a certainty, things took a nose-dive. She didn't expect him to lose all his faculties, including the ability to get a hard-on. But most of all, she didn't expect his skin to turn ice cold as he lost consciousness.

She knew her time with the Companions was at and end; they wouldn't forgive her nearly killing one of the Circle members. She had seen the look in Vilkas' eyes - he knew. He knew without a doubt what had happened to his brother, and he saw the truth written on her face. She opened the door to the corridor, and crept out.

0o0o0o0o

Skjor had never had cause to feel so angry, not for many years. He'd never had cause to lose control, and nothing had ever provoked his ire as much as this hateful woman with her evil schemes. She had been trouble from the start - Skjor had seen potential in her, and had vouched for her. And though Kodlak had bristled at the idea, he'd agreed to give her a chance. Before too long, Skjor conceded that he was wrong; she was always sowing discord among the members, especially when things were quiet. When there weren't many jobs to do, she would grow bored and do things such as start rumours, or set people up to get into trouble for various things. Skjor had tried to nurture her, and every single member - including Rose - had tried to befriend her; much like trying to domesticate a wild horse.

He followed his nose, and found her hiding in the guard tower by the Whiterun gate, her bag on her back. The sight of her hiding there with her proverbial tail between her legs spoke to his primal side, and Skjor barely had time to register that fact before he felt his transformation beginning to take place. His eyes changed colour, and his eye-teeth became elongated. His hand - still strong and broad - shot out to capture her throat, lifting her with strength fuelled by his werewolf blood.

Njada struggled in his grip with arms flailing, her nostrils flaring in terror, eyes bulging. Prey. "You are not going anywhere!" Skjor growled, setting her down. He gripped the back of her neck and herded her back to Farkas' room in Jorrvaskr.

Once inside, Skjor slammed Njada against the bar in Farkas' room. Kodlak descended on her, giving her a backhand that sent her sprawling to the floor, blood pouring from her nose and lip.

"Please, Kodlak! I was...it just - "

"Silence!" Kodlak boomed, lifting her back to her feet.

The pathetic woman whimpered, hands flapping uselessly as the four able-bodied werewolves gathered around her, trapping her in. "It's not what you think - "

"You will undergo the traditional trial, to be fair. But make no mistake, Njada - we know the truth." Kodlak said. He turned to Skjor. "Bind her hands and feet, and lock her in the storeroom until we decide on a day. You and Aela will take turns in guarding the door. If she so much as squeaks - break her fingers."

Skjor fisted Njada's hair, and pulled her along. Aela followed, giving Farkas a nod as she left.

"Now. Tell me, have we any news of Rose? I could have sworn I caught her scent earlier." Kodlak said, sitting down beside Farkas' bed, arms folded.

"Say what?" Farkas croaked, trying to push himself into a sitting position.

"Could she have been here?" Vilkas said, inhaling deeply with his eyes closed.

Farkas did the same, his eyes becoming sad when he realised that yes, there was the faintest hint of her in the air. "Gods...if she has been here and isn't here now, there's only one reason why." Farkas said, shaking his head.

"Do you think she walked in and saw Njada on top of you?" Vilkas said.

Farkas nodded, his fists clenching at his sides. "I have to find Rose!" he growled.

"You're in no state to travel anywhere, brother. I will look for her." Vilkas stood, giving his brother's shoulder a gentle squeeze.

Farkas nodded in assent, but he'd already made up his mind.

0o0o0o0o

Rose woke up to the sound of excited voices, and the carriage was at a stop. "There it is!" she heard someone say. She rubbed her eyes as she sat up, trying to will her sleep-fogged brain to connect to the current situation. She needed no explanation however, when she heard the familiar whoosh of dragon wings.

She drew her bow and nocked an arrow. The dragon flew close overhead, immediately breathing a stream of fire towards a group of guards. She dimly noted their uniforms; Winterhold guards. She recognised the snow-covered landscape, and was surprised that they were already almost in Winterhold.

She released arrow after arrow into the creature, until it eventually landed. She jumped out of the carriage and bolted for it, reaching for her swords as she ran. "Die, dragon!" she screamed, releasing her fury upon the dragon. It screamed as she slashed out its eyes, and she laughed gleefully. She felt no remorse; all the empathy had been burned out of her by Farkas' betrayal.

Rose stabbed both of her swords into the dragon's gaping maw, and knew immediately that she had ended its life. She sheathed her blades and waited for the usual process; the tangible body of the resurrected dragon flaked away to release its soul. Rose felt herself becoming reinvigorated as she absorbed its soul, and she felt that she may yet be able to face her destiny after all.

0o0o0o0o

Vilkas hastily threw together a pack with some food and some spare socks - Talos knew there was nothing worse than having wet socks. He jogged out of Jorrvaskr, through Whiterun, and out the gate. As he was passing the stable, he noticed his old friend Alfarinn perched in his carriage, waving goodbye to his passenger.

"Alfarinn!" he called as the horse began to pull away.

Alfarinn stopped and looked over his shoulder, breaking into a huge grin when he saw Vilkas. "Vilkas! How are you, my friend?"

"I am well! How goes it with you?" he said, climbing up into the carriage beside Alfarinn.

They proceeded to have a bit of small talk, until Vilkas announced that he had to find Rose.

"Rose? I drove her back here the other night." he said.

"Yes, we caught a rumour that she was here, but we didn't see her. She's gone again, and I am off to find her."

Alfarinn looked confused. "But why? She was coming back here to fetch Farkas for a mission!"

"Really? Did she say what mission that was?" Vilkas said excitedly.

Alfarinn nodded, his face thoughtful. "Ahmm...she said something about trying to find an Elder Scroll in some Dwemer - wait! I remember now! She had to go through Alftand, to get to Blackreach!"

Vilkas paled visibly at the mention of the underground city. "Blackreach...oh no! She can't be considering going alone! Can you take me there?"

The carriage wobbled and groaned as another weight was added to it. Vilkas and Alfarinn turned their heads to see who had climbed on board, though Vilkas had already smelled the answer. "Farkas, you should be in bed!" Vilkas admonished.

"Alf, you can take us both there." he growled, stubbornly seating himself in the back. "Vilkas, there's nothing you can say to convince me. I'm coming with you whether you like it or not - I'm not waiting any longer than I have to, to tell her how much I love her."

Alfarinn shook his head. "I'm afraid not, my friends. I really wish that I could help you, but I have passengers awaiting my return in Windhelm..." Alfarinn really would have loved to help his old childhood friends, but he would certainly be out of a job if he didn't get back to Windhelm on time.

Vilkas and Farkas hassled him about it for a while, before realising that Alfarinn wasn't going to budge on the matter. Oh well, there was nothing for it but to go on foot in search of their quarry. They waved goodbye to Alfarinn, and turned towards the path.

"What about some horses?" Vilkas suggested.

"You know I don't like riding horses, they hurt my balls." Farkas grumbled.

"Naww, quit your whining. Let's go see Skulvar and see if we can get some horses. I'm pretty sure he's got two of them in there!"

The twins doubled back to the stables, but noticed there was only one horse in there. When Skulvar came out to greet them, he eyed Farkas with something bordering on suspicion. Vilkas raised his eyebrows in question, but said nothing. Farkas was too intent on his current thought process to acknowledge Skulvar's expression, however.

"What happened to the other horse?" Vilkas said, indicating the empty stall.

Whilst Vilkas was talking to Skulvar, Farkas' wolf snapped to attention. Rose was in here, he thought.

"Rose took the other horse, but the horse died. She caught Bjorlam's carriage to Winterhold." Skulvar said, arms crossed. "You can take this other horse, but it'll cost ya twelve hundred Septims."

"Twelve hundred!" Vilkas exclaimed. "I'm not sure a horse could carry both of us at once."

"Sure he can! He's a Skyrim horse, he could carry three of him!" Skulvar said, pointing at Farkas.

"Fine." he said, exhaling loudly while fishing inside his armour for his coinpurse. "There's about eight hundred in there. Farkas, give him the balance."

Farkas grunted, and threw his coinpurse into Skulvar's waiting hands. Skulvar then handed Farkas the reins, and watched with a smirk as the brothers argued who was going to ride in the front.

Vilkas won the argument; he reasoned that they would fit better with his smaller frame in the front, and Farkas couldn't argue with that. After much grunting and shuffling about, the two of them were finally comfortable.

The sight of the two burly, armoured companions squished together on one horse with their packs and weapons tucked into Vilkas' arms was an awkward sight indeed.

0o0o0o0o

Rose made it to the entrance to Alftand by nightfall. She was starving hungry, and cursed herself for not stopping in Winterhold for a bite to eat. She perched herself against the doorway, opened her pack and fished out some dried fish and bread. Yum yum, she grumbled silently.

Chapter Text

Warning: this chapter is reeeally long and contains some spoilers! I hope you enjoy, and that you're still awake by the time you reach the end of this giant chapter. I hope I'm still awake by the time I finish writing it, too! :P

Rose thought she was at the entrance to Alftand. She tried the handle, but it wouldn't budge. There were no apparent key holes, so she couldn't pick the lock. Though it was night time, she had made out a wooden catwalk which spiraled downward, to disappear within the icy cliffs. With a sigh, she resigned herself to camping out for the night. She unraveled her bedroll and her bear pelt, and after she finished her food, she snuggled in for the night.

She woke at the first hint of light; it was enough to see by, so she hastily packed up her belongings and immediately headed for the rickety catwalk she had spotted the night before, hoping that it would lead to another entry point. She passed by some tents; she thought nothing of it at first, until she stumbled upon a badly decomposed corpse. "Oh!" she yelped, backing away instinctively. After a few minutes of investigation, she concluded that the body belonged to a researcher that had come along with an expedition. I wonder what happened to them, she thought, hoping that whatever had killed them either wasn't around anymore, or wasn't too strong for her to handle.

Deciding to bury the corpse, she looked around for something to dig with. She found a trenching hoe and immediately set to work. Half an hour later, she dragged the corpse into the hole, covered it with snow, and said a quick prayer. With a sad sigh, she continued on her way. Gods, she hated this part of Skyrim. So desolate and inhospitable, except for those horrible frost trolls, ice wolves, snow bears and of course, dragons. The snow began to fall as she rounded a bend in the wooden catwalk, and she cursed inwardly. "Some Nord I am, to be hating the snow so much!" she said aloud.

When she came to the entrance to Alftand Glacial Ruins, a draft of cold air blew through her, inducing a shiver of dread. She swallowed a lump in her throat and pushed on, determined not to falter lest her fear get the better of her. Farkas should be here with me, she thought bitterly.

As she descended the sloping, icy path to the ruins, she made out the sound of voices. She dropped to a crouch; it was better to be safe. As she approached the source of the voices, she recognised the accents to be Khajiit. In fact, it sounded more like one voice. Yes, someone talking to himself, she thought. She passed a few crates full of paperwork, and a couple of boxes of rotting fruit and vegetables. She wrinkled her nose, and continued on. Sitting on the next lot of crates she passed, was a diary. She picked it up and flicked through it. It read:

"I've run out of the little skooma I brought and J'darr is getting pretty bad.
He's started hallucinating creatures coming out of the ice and the ruins,
the others are starting to think he may be behind Valie's disappearance,
but I know he would never do something like that."

She put the book down and pushed on, until the path abruptly turned u-turned around a wall. She crept around, and found herself getting nearer to the voice, until she came face-to-face with the Khajiit.

"Look, J'zhar, a smooth skin is here to steal our food. This one does not recognise her...she did not come with the expedition? No, she must be the one who took my Skooma!" Rose couldn't see anybody behind him at first, but then her eyes landed on a pool of blood. She followed the trail, and made out a stiff, matted tail and a foot. That must be J'zhar, thought Rose. Upon noticing that she had seen J'zhar's body, the Khajiit pulled his wood-axe from his belt.

"Shhh...It's alright J'darr, I'm not going to hurt you." Rose said, one hand forward in a supplicating gesture, the other resting on the hilt of her sword. "You can put that down, you know. I can help you."

"Never should have come here!" he cried, swinging his axe wildly. Rose made up her mind in that instant; he was beyond help. With one slice of her blade, she opened him from neck to guts. She grimaced as he fell wordlessly, blood spurting out of his jugular and his guts spilling out of his tunic. I'm sorry, she thought. She dragged his corpse beside his brother's, and draped a blanket over them both. At least you're out of your pain now.

Two hours later, Rose arrived at the door to the Animonculary. She opened her pack to look through the loot she had acquired - this little venture had so far been rather lucrative. She'd found three filled lesser soul gems, some dwarven ingots, about 150 Septims and an emerald gold necklace. She'd also encountered several dwarven spider workers and a couple of dwarven spheres, both of which freaked her out a little bit. How was it that they kept on working and guarding the halls as though their makers were still around?

0o0o0o0o

Farkas reasoned they were about a day behind Rose. "I should have kept the horse that brought me from Riften. He was a fine steed."

"What did you do with him, then?" Vilkas said.

"Oh, a carriage driver from Solitude was headed that way, so he hooked him up to his carriage."

"Hmm. Well it's slow-going with only one horse. Are you faring alright back there, Farkas?" he said, looking over his shoulder.

"Yeah. I'm feeling shaky and tired but the beast blood is helping me to feel better a lot quicker than I would otherwise, I think." Vilkas felt Farkas shrug his shoulders behind him.

"That's good. I know you'll be alright soon. But what about...Njada? How are you feeling about that whole thing?" Vilkas ventured.

"Well, I ahh...haven't really thought a great deal about it as yet." Farkas was silent for a moment before continuing. "You know, if Rose hadn't have walked in and run away with the wrong impression, I could get away with being really pissed off at Njada but not hating her. But the fact that Rose got hurt...it makes me wanna kill her." Farkas growled, and he felt his beast spirit snapping, calling for her blood for hurting his love, his mate.

Vilkas nodded, processing Farkas' reaction thoughtfully. It was very rare that Farkas spoke in this way. Fulfilling contracts for the Companions was one thing - the killing was impersonal, necessary. He never spoke about the people he killed on jobs; they were forgotten the moment his blade was resheathed. Apart from the necromancers who took their mother's life, he had never expressed a desire to kill in anger. But in this instance, Vilkas wouldn't have expected any other reaction from Farkas - or from anyone, for that matter. "Aye." Vilkas grunted. "Well, if you want to talk more about it..."

"It's alright brother. If she'd have gotten what she wanted...then I think I'd be a bit more upset about it. But thanks."

0o0o0o0o

Rose traveled through the dwarven ruins with relative ease at first; she hacked and chopped her way through mechanical spiders and spheres, pocketed lots of goodies and increased her lockpicking skills. She was feeling rather pleased with herself - in fact, she was beginning to feel confident that her fears were unfounded. She sauntered through the halls, happy that she might just get to Blackreach with her stamina intact. And just as she let out a sigh of relief, she heard a shriek up ahead. Her heart jumped as she crouched behind a barrel, waiting to see if the source of the noise revealed itself.

Sweet Talos, she thought, as a Falmer crept up the corridor towards her. I hate those things! She readied her bow and nocked an arrow, and waited to see if any more Falmer were going to appear. When it became apparent that this was the only one, she loosed her arrow. The horrid creature fell without a sound, and Rose quickly sneaked over to it to make sure it was dead. She rummaged through its pockets, and found twenty eight Septims. Why do these things need coins? It's not like they have shops down here...or do they? she thought, amused.

She pressed on with more caution, taking down as many Falmer as she could by stealth. There were the occasional group of them; some were stronger than others, but Rose was stronger. She was fast and she was intelligent, and she was determined to live. These creatures seemed as though they neither cared or understood the drive to survive; any streak of conscious, humanoid thought had been lost thousands of years ago. To them, she was little more than food.

After another hour or fighting with the twisted former snow elves, she noticed glowing piles of egg sacs. Oh-oh, chaurus eggs! She crept slowly, her heart thumping once again. Falmer were easy enough to kill; but the chinitous hides covering the chaurus protected them from damage. She took a moment to check her pack - good, she had plenty of cure poison potions, health and stamina potions, as well as food and water.

Luckily, she only encountered two chaurus scuttling along with their Falmer masters, though killing them was exhausting. She took the two Falmer out with bow and arrow, and only had just enough time to sheathe her bow and draw her blades in time for the chaurus to approach her. She dodged their streams of deadly poison and slashed at their mandibles to disable their ability to spit at her, before she stabbed her way between the gaps in their chitin plates. Gods, these things are almost as scary as trolls, she thought with a shudder.

Eventually, she came to a large room which contained shelves, tents, tables and an alchemy table. One of the first things she noticed was the cloying scent of blood and decomposition. She spotted the body of an Altmer woman lying on one of the tables; the thick pools of dried blood over her decomposing features suggesting she had been there for quite some time. She was shackled hand and foot, and her body was covered in deep gashes, stab wounds and bruises. It looked as though someone had been experimenting on her. This must be Valie, she concluded.

The next table contained a whole range of different ingredients, some of which she pocketed. She noticed a few empty Skooma bottles, and a few that hadn't been opened. And there's the rest of the Khajiit's stash, she thought, shaking her head. She left the grissly room behind; she didn't want to linger any longer than she had to.

After slaughtering a few more Falmer, she headed for the great brass doors which would hopefully lead to Alftand Cathedral. As she reached for the handle, she heard a hiss behind her. She moved out of the way in time to dodge the poison of a giant frostbite spider. "YOL...TOOR!" she Shouted, setting the thing on fire. She lunched for it, whirling around with her twin blades. The disgusting beast died quickly. Rose smiled to herself - her skills had improved since being in Alftand.

She looked at the pile of hairy arms and legs and eyes, feeling bile rising up in the back of her throat. With a pang, she thought of Farkas and his fear of spiders. She remembered the dream he'd had that morning in his room, and thought about him describing the dream. "Ah...those spiders! They were all over me, crawling on me...their babies too. Disgusting." he'd said. She smiled at the memory; he'd looked so stricken, so cute. She'd fallen even more head over heels for him in that moment. How could the gods be so cruel to allow her to love this man so intensely, only for him not to feel the same way? Worse still was the fact that she had started to believe that he did feel the same way; the love in his eyes and in his touch when he'd farewell'd her at the gate was plain to see. Had he changed his mind in the week she'd been gone, or was it only her imagination in the first place?

She opened the massive brass doors to Alftand Cathedral, and was immediately assaulted by Falmer, dwarven spiders (some of which were also fighting the Falmer) and spheres. She had no time to examine her surroundings; she fought tooth and nail to get through to the other side of the Cathedral, only to run head-first into Dwarven Centurion Master. "Bollocks!" she cried in fright, scrambling backwards just as the great mechanical giant swung its arms at her. She quickly gathered her wits and Shouted fire at it, stunning it momentarily. She used the opportunity to run behind it and sever some of the pipes inside the back of its knees. She darted out of the way quickly as it fell backwards, narrowly avoiding its hiss of hot steam as it fell. She made some calculated cuts along the join of its neck, hoping that the pipes she severed were enough to deactivate it.

Once she heard its inner hydraulics cease, she searched inside it. She found a grand soul gem, some bit of scrap metal and a key. Ah-ha, she thought. This must be the key to those doors up there!

As she climbed the staircase, she made out the voices of a man and woman. They appeared to be arguing, so she crouched low to listen; they were fighting over treasure. How stupid! All of their fellows are dead, and the two remaining survivors are fighting over trinkets, she thought, shaking her head in disgust. Suddenly, the woman's blade cut through the man's neck, followed by the sound of gurgling. She felt a pang of sadness at the unnecessary loss of life.

"Who's there?" the woman called.

Rose stepped out of the shadows, her blades at the ready. After a brief battle, the woman lay dead next to the man, and Rose walked away with nothing more than a few scratches and bruises. She smiled smugly, once again proud of her improved abilities.

With her newly acquired key, she unlocked the door to a small chamber which contained a room with a lift lever, and a receptacle for the attunement sphere that Seginus had supplied. She figured that the lift would take her back to the surface and home; and the other would open the way to Blackreach. Blackreach. She rolled the word around on her tongue, tasting the adrenalin in her mouth. Her hands trembled slightly - underneath her very feet lay the way to the most mysterious and alien places known to man and mer. She fumbled in her inside pocket for her map, and took a few moments to go over the landmarks within Blackreach. Do I really have to do this? I'm so frightened! She looked longingly at the lift to the surface, but she knew she had no choice but to go down into the abyss.

With a sigh of resignation, she placed the attunement sphere into the receptacle. Nothing happened at first, and she had a moment of panic - and then she heard the grinding of gears, squeaking and scraping with years of disuse. A spiral staircase presented itself before her. Knowing that she may need it later, she pocketed the attunement sphere and descended the stairs. "Oh...gods, here it is. The entrance to Nightmare City!" Rose said aloud. As she put her hand on the door, the opening to the stairway closed itself with a loud clang, swathing her in blackness. "I guess there's definitely no turning back now!" she cried. The finality of it made her feel very much separated from her world; as though she'd just stepped into the plane of Oblivion.

With a nervous exhale she pushed open the door, and the sight before her took her breath away.

0o0o0o

The werewolf twins arrived at the same locked tower that Rose had slept against not so long ago. The horse was exhausted, and Farkas wasn't faring much better. It was past dinner time, and his belly protested loudly. "Are you feeling better? You're hungry, that's a good sign." Vilkas said cheerily.

"Yeah, I 'spose. What's for tea, woman?" he said, playfully pushing Vilkas' head.

"Well...the more I think about it, I think it's better that you don't eat..." Vilkas joked, stuffing his food pack under his arm.

Farkas lunged for Vilkas' pack, easily pushing his brother over despite his lingering weakness. Vilkas laughed, dusting the snow off himself. Though Farkas was weary, they had decided to eat while walking; no sense in wasting time - if they forewent the sleep, they would gain maybe eight hours on Rose. Besides, werewolves didn't really need much sleep.

Vilkas looked for a handle or a lock, cursing loudly when they found none. He turned to Farkas, and noticed that he was sniffing the air. "Over here." Farkas said, stepping over to a fresh grave of snow. "I can smell her." he nudged the snow with his foot.

"Looks like she buried someone." Vilkas picked up the same diary that Rose had found, and flipped through the pages. "A researcher. Hmmph."

The brothers followed their noses, which led them to the catwalk, and finally, the entrance through which Rose had been. They followed her scent, and her trail of bodies through the ruins, until finally, they stood next to the fallen Centurion Master that Rose had felled. "Impressive." Vilkas said, examining the cuts she had made to disable it.

"That's my girl." Farkas said, his chest puffing with pride. "She's getting better!"

"And no signs of injury as yet!" Vilkas chimed.

The brothers ascended the stairs to the small chamber where Rose had entered Blackreach, their hearts sinking when they realised they had no way of getting that trapdoor open. "See this here?" Vilkas said, pointing to the receptacle. "Rose must have put some sort of tool in here to get this trapdoor open."

Farkas' fists clenched, feeling anger and frustration boiling to the surface. With an inhuman roar, he set about trying to pry the sturdy brass trapdoor open with his bare hands, to no avail. He even allowed himself to partially transform - much to Vilkas' horror - perhaps the added strength afforded by the beast blood would help him open the door...but no, that didn't work either. Even with the two of them trying, it would not budge.

"It's no use. The mechanism that keeps it shut is no match for our comparatively puny efforts." Vilkas grumbled.

"But she's down there all by herself! What are we going to do?" Farkas said, squeezing the bridge of his nose.

Vilkas paced the room for a few minutes before responding. "Blackreach is huge. It goes for miles. When she has found what she sought, it is likely she won't be coming back this way."

"But what if she does?" Farkas' normally even and calm tone was filled with longing and worry.

"Hmm. Well, from the little I know of these types of doors, there would be no way for her to open it from the other side. No. Our best bet is to head to the College of Winterhold; someone there might have knowledge of the geography of Blackreach, and they might know the whereabouts of the Elder Scroll she's trying to find, as well as any places she might emerge." Vilkas said clapping his brother reassuringly on the shoulder. Farkas nodded, his face a picture of sadness and frustration.

"I miss her, Vilkas. We only nearly cross paths. When we do finally cross paths, I'm never going to let her go." Farkas said softly, as he hefted his pack once again.

"I'm glad you've found someone to love, Farkas. I know you wouldn't give your heart lightly. And I know, she loves you as well. You're a lucky man, brother."

"Yeah. I know. So, tell me. Ria? What's going on with that?" Farkas said, a knowing twinkle in his eyes.

"Oh Ria...she's cute, that one. She acts all innocent and sweet, but that woman...by the gods, I can smell the feral sex beast waiting to get out." Vilkas said, and they both laughed. "She's not just some tavern whore, though. She's got this light-hearted, refreshing way of looking at things. Whenever we go adventuring together, she looks at the world with wide eyes. She even gets excited when she finds little things like bear claws, for Talos' sake." Vilkas said, chuckling.

"Sounds like you love her."

"Yeah. She's workin' her way into my heart."

As the sun crested the horizon, the two men were making their way across the bridge into the College. Faralda intercepted them, and once she heard their plight, led them quickly inside to find Urag in the library. Urag greeted them with the same disdain that Rose had met, though the lads could tell he was a bit intimidated by these two tall warriors with warpaint around their eyes and their strange wolf armour.

"Look. I don't know a lot about Blackreach personally, but here is a book that you can both read. It even has pictures so you can understand it." he said, daring to look Farkas dead in the eye even though he was a bit scared. Urag had to act this way - he had a reputation to uphold, didn't he?

Farkas was in no mood for it, however. He stalked around to Urag's side of the bench, and fisted the front of his lovely robes, lifting him high into the air. Orcs were strong, perhaps even stronger than Nords. But Farkas wasn't an ordinary Nord, even without the beast blood. "Fuck your shitty book. Do you know anything about the layout of Blackreach or not?" Farkas growled.

"You're not going to find any answers that way, I'm afraid. Put me down!" Urag whined, though his voice shook now.

"It's alright, Farkas. Put him down." Vilkas said, his tone soothing.

Farkas put him down, and shoved him back into his seat. "Talk." Farkas barked.

An hour and a half later, the twins walked away from the College of Winterhold with a map of Blackreach, and a surprising amount of information gleaned from Urag's own personal knowledge. "See, Vilkas? Turns out a bit of ruffling of one's feathers can be a good thing!" Farkas said, laughing.

"Yeah, brains aren't always better than brawn!" Vilkas conceded.

It turned out that Urag Gro-Shub knew quite a bit about the layout of Blackreach. He'd explained to the twins that the Tower of Mzark was said to house a massive security device, and that it would be the most likely place to find an Elder Scroll within Blackreach. He'd also marked the Tower of Mzark Great Lift on their map, and then they were on their way.

0o0o0o

Rose stood on the balcony, frozen to the spot. Her head shook slowly from side to side of its own volition as she took in the sight before her. Iridescent mushrooms in all different sizes grew in abundance, affording the alien landscape its main source of illumination. She looked up, and sighed at the twinkling lights dotted along the ceiling. So eerily beautiful, she thought. She could hear the faint chiming of nirnroot, and some other soft tinkling that she couldn't pinpoint. Her eyes roamed over the hills and valleys shrouded in shadow, and her heart plummeted in her stomach at the thought of what denizens were hiding therein.

She spent a goodly amount of time marveling over her surroundings - here on the balcony, she was feeling relatively safe; though soon, the reality of her impending journey through this weird underworld snapped her out of her reverie. A short distance ahead of her was a small dwarven bungalow. Perhaps I can find some clues in there, she mused. She took a few steps forward, but the sound of clanking metal caused her to stop again. A mechanical sphere made its presence known; it had noticed her, and began to make its way from the building towards her. She loosed a few carefully aimed arrows, and the thing collapsed in a heap before it even got halfway to her.

A few Falmer loosed arrows at her as she picked her way across the dark ground, taking advantage of the deep shadows. One of the arrowheads embedded itself into her shoulder blade, and not for the first time, she cursed her weak leather armour. Luckily it hadn't lodged itself in too far; she was able to pull the arrow out and toss it away. Three Falmer followed her to the building, swapping their bow and arrows for sword and shield. Rose set them on fire with a Shout, and killed them swiftly as they flailed about. Quickly then, she yanked open the door to the bungalow and stepped in, locking it firmly behind her. She lit a few candles, and sighed appreciatively when she noticed it was a fully furnished laboratory complete with bed, alchemy and enchanting tables and a store of dried meats and fruits that were still good enough to eat. There was even a wash basin complete with its own plumbing, though she was dubious about the quality of the water. Probably bore water, but it'll be good enough to clean this arrow wound, she thought.

Rose dropped her gear to the floor, stripped her armour off and immediately set to cleaning and healing arrow wound with water and some crushed blisterwort. With a huge, sucking yawn, she and looked longingly at the bed. She figured she'd been traveling through the ruins for around ten or so hours; now would be a good time to stop for the night, especially as how this was probably the only safe place to rest. She moved around to the side of the bed, and got a small fright when she knocked a skeleton with her foot. A diary was on the floor next to the skeleton, so she picked it up and had a quick flick through. She discovered that the skeleton was that of a researcher by the name of Sinderion; he had established this laboratory to study the properties of crimson nirnroot. So that's what I heard down there - not just normal nirnroot. She put the journal down, not particularly interested in reading further.

After she sat down to a good meal of bread, dried meat and fruit, she gathered some of the ingredients that were stacked on the shelves. She decided to try and make up some more potions for herself with the materials available - she wasn't very adept at alchemy, but she was willing to give it a go. Next, she replenished her food stores and then she hopped into bed. She was asleep within minutes; her dreams filled with the sound of chiming and images of herself sitting on the tops of giant, glowing mushrooms that could fly.

0o0o0o

Meanwhile back at Jorrvaskr, Kodlak and Skjor stood on the other side of the door to the small storage room listening to Njada carrying on like a pork chop. She was kicking things and yelling that she wanted to get out.

"I think the best course of action is to take her to a jail cell until the twins come back with Rose. We can't conduct her trial without them here." Kodlak said.

"You're right as always, Harbinger. I will fetch Athis and Aela to help me take her there."

Ten minutes later, Skjor and Aela held one each of Njada's arms and forcibly dragged her out of Jorrvaskr and into the Gildergreen courtyard, followed closely by Athis. Njada was making a right spectacle of herself; hissing and swearing and struggling despite that there was no hope of her being able to get away. People stopped and stared - it wasn't often that you saw the Companions conducting their business out in the open this way, and wasn't the girl they were pulling along also a Companion? What was going on? The spectators began to chatter and gossip, but the Companions paid them no mind as they took Njada up to Dragonsreach and into the jail.

"Hmmm, what have we here?" said the guard who was sitting at his office desk pretending to be elbow-deep in paperwork.

"This former Companion has been caught trying to...seriously injure a senior member of our faction." Aela hissed.

The guard blinked in surprised at Aela's statement. "And what means did she employ to attempt this?"

"She administered a lethal dose of Sleeping Tree Sap. If he hadn't have been discovered...he would have died. We were able to take him to Danica, and - "

The guard held up his hand. "You need not go on, Companion. I heard that Farkad...Farkwad...Fa - "

"Farkas." snapped Athis, who had been quiet so far.

"Farkas. Yes. I heard that he had been taken to Danica with a serious illness, though I did not know the circumstances. Is he now in good health?" the guard said, as he took Njada by the elbow and led her into a cell.

"Ah yes, he's in fine form now." Aela said.

They watched as Njada took a seat in the cell, the fight gone out of her now. She had become very quiet, her face sullen. The guard locked the cell door, and then they walked away, leaving Njada without so much as a backward glance. Once the door shut behind her former shield-siblings, she put her head in her hands and began to cry. "Fuck!" she screamed, realising that the good life she'd had with the Companions was over; after the token trial, she'd never see the inside of Jorrvaskr again, and she'd never get to see Farkas again. She'd also never get to apologise to him, to tell him that all she ever wanted was to be with him.

It was back to the streets for Njada Stone-Arm.

0o0o0o

Rose woke up the next morning feeling refreshed and ready to continue. She couldn't be sure of how long she had slept; there was no sky to tell the time. Day or night - it didn't matter down here in this underworld. All she cared about was the fact that she'd had a good sleep, and once she'd had a good breaky, she'd be ready to face Blackreach.

It took her a while to get used to the landscape, and through the parts of that landscape where the luminescent mushrooms didn't grow, it took her eyes a long while to adjust to the pitch blackness. She had to be careful where she trod; there were many sharp drops and holes that could easily snap ankles if one wasn't careful. Buildings and towers were dotted through Blackreach, and she spent time going through as many as she could for clues, though all she managed to find were more Falmer and their monstrous pets, more Dwemer automatons and the occasional useful item.

As time wore on, she became increasingly frustrated, and more determined. Her tummy rumbled and her mouth was dry, but she kept on.

However, as an experienced warrior, she should have known better than to press on when her body needed rest and sustenance. She had been searching without a break for close to 24 hours - not that she knew that, of course - and her attention span was beginning to lapse. Thoughts of Farkas drifted through her mind; at first, her thoughts were of their happy moments together, though inevitably they turned sour; the image of Njada grinding herself atop him burned itself into her mind's eye, and her waning concentration dropped to an all-time low. Yet again, she passed a tower that she was sure she'd seen before when a chaurus appeared out of nowhere, releasing a stream of poison at her face.

"Argghh!" Rose shrieked, wiping at her face. The foul liquid seemed to burn her skin, seeping painfully through dermal layers until it entered her bloodstream. Her vision blurred, and her head swam. She cursed loudly, steeling herself to kill the creature despite her state.

Once she was sure there were no more Falmer, chaurus or dwarven mechanisms in the immediate area, she sat herself cross-legged on the ground and opened her pack. She could feel her temperature increasing rapidly as sweat poured down her face, her vision becoming blurrier the harder she tried to see. Bile rose to the back of her throat, causing her to gag. She leaned over just in time as her nausea spilled over, narrowly avoiding her pack. Her hand closed around a potion bottle, her mind dimly registering that the shape of the bottle was different from the health potions - hopefully it was the cure poison potion. She brought the bottle to her lips and pulled the cork off the top with her teeth, and then guzzled the contents. Her shoulders sagged with relief as the charcoalish taste slid down her throat, swiftly washing away the effects of the poison.

"Oh, thank the Divines." she whispered as the burning subsided and her vision cleared. After a few minutes, she gathered her wits about her and found a safe place to rest and eat.

After replenishing her energy stores, she trudged onward. Countless hours passed; she fought her way through a cluster of frostbite spiders big and small, another centurion, spheres, falmer and more chaurus. At one point, she became disoriented and passed the same landmarks once or twice. This time, instead of getting frustrated, she made sure to stop and have a drink of water, and have a good think to regain her bearings. She felt lonely; it seemed she was the only human being down here in this godsforsaken place, and it took a great deal of willpower to stave off the panic that was gnawing away at the edges of her nervous system.

More time passed, and as she walked, she made out a giant golden ball glowing above what appeared to be a small fort. I must be getting close, she thought. The tallest tower she had yet seen stood beyond the fort; the top of it seemed to reach right into the rock above her. Yes, that must be the Tower of Mzark! She smiled, feeling relieved to have her goal in her sights. She was very much looking forward to ending this little mission and getting back to civilisation; gods knew she longed to see a friendly face!

The sound of rushing water could be heard too, and soon she stood at the edge of a waterfall. 'That's...that's...wow', as Farkas would say, she thought, smirking. The water was glowing, and the aroma that came from it smelled fresh and clean. Foregoing the temptation to have a sip, she walked further along the edge and found a shadowed bridge which would take her across to the fort. Rose stayed inside the cover of the shadows as she crept along the outside of the wall, looking for an inconspicuous entry.

Rose found a small opening in the wall and slipped through. Intrigued by the glowing ball of light, she climbed a flight of stairs to get a closer look. What was that? She heard a muffled sound which could have been male voices, and she stood frozen to the spot. Sure enough, as the sound drew closer, she made out distinct conversation between two males. They appeared to be discussing orders; orders? What was this place, some sort of secret army fort? She drew her swords and stepped into the light, hoping beyond hope that these men were friendly.

"Halt! Who goes there?" said one man, as they stepped closer to Rose. Rose was baffled - they weren't dressed like soldiers; in fact, they were dressed in filthy rags. The idea that they weren't soldiers so much as slaves began to form in her mind, but as soon as she had acknowledged that fact, two more similarly-clad men appeared. "Quickly, grab her!" one of them said.

Rose wasted no more time: "FUS...RO, DAH!" she Shouted, sending three of the men flying from the balcony where they stood, to their deaths. As she turned to attack the remaining man, she felt a sharp pain in her neck. Paralysis poison, she thought, as she fell like a lump of lead. The man approached her, followed by several other men. Something was placed over her nose and mouth, and she felt herself slipping into warm unconsciousness.

The last thing she heard before she blacked out was a loud, strange creaking coming from the direction of the giant glowing ball.

Sorry again for the long chapter! I was going to break it into two chapters, but then you'd have two boring chapters instead of just one! :D
I wanted to draw it out to make it seem a bit more like Rose has been gallavanting around in Blackreach for a while, to give substance to the fact that she was nervous and anxious about her foray into Blackreach. Playing Blackreach for the first time freaked me out a tiny bit (sort of), especially as my map marker kept disappearing due to a bug, and I kept on getting lost.

Anyway, I hope you'll stay with me - it won't be long before Rose and Farkas meet up again, though we will see a final bit of drama for Rose, as well as a small, pleasant twist while she is in Blackreach. :)

Thanks for the favs, follows and reviews. I get very happy and excited!

Chapter Text

Remember at the beginning of my story when I mentioned there'd be dark times ahead? Well this is IT, the quintessential and super-sad (as well as somewhat cheesy in some bits) DARK TIMES chapter. Get your least snotty hankies ready. You will read through Rose's traumatic memories (I feel that I should reiterate my warning - her pain is very real and may be disturbing for some), after which you will emerge into the warm sunshine (and happiness) once again. :)

Please let me know what you think, I really appreciate it (don't crucify me too much, haha)!

By the way, this chapter is longlonglong.


When Rose's consciousness returned, the first thing she noticed was the pain. Her eyes flew open as she gasped for breath, which only served to intensify her pain. Sharp pain lanced through her ribs, and she found it difficult to breathe. Cracked ribs, she thought. Her skin felt like it had been burned - it stung, and felt hot and tight. Tears sprang to her eyes as she forced herself to sit up - her head throbbed to the point of nausea, and every muscle and joint protested stiffly. How long had she been laying there? A few hours? Days? After checking to make sure she was alone in the room, Rose examined herself - she found small bruises and cuts along her torso; some deep and others mere scratches. Her limbs were covered in bruises and cuts too. What in the name of Talos did they do to me?

She looked around the small chamber through blurry vision, and felt her blood turn to ice in her veins. Along one wall hung several corpses in different states of decomposition - some were little more than skeletons, others looked freshly dead, and others...blackened and swollen. Her olfactory senses caught up to her then, and bile rose to her throat as the stench of death hit her. Rose wrenched her gaze away from the grisly scene, and her eyes lit upon the various torture tools on the table. Gods, what is this place? She looked down at her hands and feet, and wondered why she hadn't been shackled. I suppose they didn't expect me to wake up, she thought. She then noticed that her leather armour had been removed, leaving her in her smalls. Gingerly, she lowered herself from the bench she was on to her feet, noticing how her legs wobbled. I need to some health potions, and some armour or clothing. She wondered in vain if her pack, weapons and armour were anywhere nearby.

Rose looked to the middle of the room, and saw a shallow pool. At least I can wash some of this grime away, she thought. On her lamb's legs, she carried herself to the pool, knelt by it and dipped her hands in, to splash it over her face. The water stung her sensitive skin, and she wondered if she had been exposed to poison. Still, she put up with the pain as she cleaned her face, but the effort exhausted her. After she was finished, she clung onto the edge of the pool with her eyes closed, panting hoarsely and trying to process the agony.

And when she felt ready to move again, someone unseen grabbed her head and pushed it under the water.


By the time the twins made it to the Tower of Mzark Great Lift two days and a night after leaving Winterhold, Farkas was trembling from exhaustion.

"Farkas, look! There are tents and furs, and a cooking pit!" Vilkas said cheerily, but Farkas' only response was a soft grunt.

During the last few miles of their trip on horseback, Farkas had become unusually quiet, and had propped his head on Vilkas' shoulder. Vilkas loved his brother, and bore the weight of his brother's heavy head without complaint; he'd never seen his brother like this, not even after his first transformation. When it was time to dismount the horse, Farkas slid off bonelessly, and his legs buckled underneath him. "Farkas!" Vilkas cried as he crouched by his brother's side, and helped him move into one of the tents. "Let's get you into this big tent here."

Farkas mumbled incoherently as Vilkas helped him into the tent. He sat him down on a log and quickly set about unrolling his brother's bedroll onto a soft pile of hay, and then he helped him get out of his armour. "Come on, brother. Lay down here, now. I'll get a fire going and make you something to eat."

"Hunh." Farkas grunted, not having the energy to say anything else as he lay down.

While Vilkas busied himself, Farkas let his thoughts drift as he sank into the surprisingly comfortable bed. He thought of Rose, somewhere under the ground beneath where he lay. Images of his beautiful Rose desperately fighting the mechanical Dwemer constructs as well as Falmer and chaurus flitted through his mind, and his heart lurched. Please be safe, my love. The images became skewed and fuzzy as he succumbed to the pull of sleep. At first he didn't dream, but as the hours wore on and his body recovered somewhat, his subconscious began to churn out nonsensical video in his mind.


Kodlak, having retired to his chambers for the evening, sat at his desk. Papers and open books were strewn about, some of them with pencil marks where he had made notes or circled interesting bits. His head was pounding from the overload of information, and he sighed. I should have stayed upstairs, it was far more relaxing! he thought. He abruptly decided to put aside his research for the night, and gathered all the papers into a neat pile.

His joints creaked and groaned as he pushed himself wearily from his chair, and then he made a beeline for the pitcher of warm mead that Tilma had brought in a few minutes before. He took the pitcher and his favourite mug into his bedroom and placed it on the bedside table, and then he stripped off his wolf armour. How long does an old man have to keep wearing this blasted armour? He slipped his comfy cotton nightgown over his head, and sat down against the pillows with a relieved sigh.

Thoughts of Rose entered his mind; she had been on his mind a lot since she had walked into Jorrvaskr. In fact, he had had a vision of her before he'd even laid eyes on her. As in his vision, she was proving to be strong, fierce, intelligent and capable - yet she was kind, compassionate and understanding. All of those qualities together in one person made for an excellent leader; a perfect Harbinger for the Companions. He knew he was in his twilight years, that he would never again see battle or adventure - he was doomed to roam the halls of Jorrvaskr until the end - the Companions needed an able warrior to lead and advise, not an ailing old man. He just hoped that his hard work studying books and notes to find clues for a cure for lycanthropy paid off, before he died.

His thoughts inevitably turned to Njada; he'd always known she was going to be trouble. He had hoped that his senses were misleading him, and that Skjor was right about giving her a chance. He hoped she would eventually settle - but it turned out he should have listened to his instincts. Why had Skjor gotten it so wrong? He wondered what Rose was doing now, and whether the boys had been able to find her. With a bit of luck the boys would bring her back sooner rather than later, and then together they could make a decision about Njada's fate.


Rose felt her lungs burning as her oxygen levels were depleted, and she began to flail her arms in panic. Just when she felt her vision darkening, the hand that was clutching her hair yanked her back up. She sucked in air greedily, her lungs heaving painfully. She thrashed wildly, screaming and shrieking like something from a nightmare.

"I told you she should have been shackled! You can thank your lucky stars that she didn't escape, or our masters would have been conducting experiments on you instead!" she heard one man say.

"But...she shouldn't have woken up! She was given enough poison to knock out ten men!" said another. "She's trouble, this one."

Splash! Her head was pushed back under the water once again, and despite her best efforts to dislodge the hand, she was too weak. And this time, she wasn't allowed back up for air. Her vision turned black as she lost consciousness.

Once her captors were satisfied that she wasn't going to be any more trouble, they dragged her away from the pool and dropped her carelessly on the cold stone floor. Her head bounced, and the cruel men laughed when blood began to trickle from her nose and mouth.

Rose was an exceptionally strong woman, but the head injury was going to prove fatal if help didn't come soon. Her spirit drifted to another place, another time.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~She remembered her childhood home, and her parents. She'd been an only child - a miracle child, in fact. Her mother was told she'd never have children, that the dagger wound she'd sustained in her lower abdomen caused too much scar tissue in her uterus to allow the successful implantation of an embryo. But her mother was sturdy and strong, and she managed to bring Rose into the world without issue.

Her parents doted on her, and taught her everything they possible could about the world around her. Her father - Gerald - taught her how to build and conduct repairs around the home, and taught her how to care for animals. He taught her how to wield a sword, and how to defend herself. Her mother - Rosalind - taught her how to cook and sew, and showed her how to be kind and compassionate.

The biggest lesson in the latter came when an Stormcloak soldier stumbled upon their home one sunny afternoon. Rose - twenty-five years of age at the time - had been tending the vegetable garden when she heard ragged breathing and uneven footsteps, followed by the injured soldier falling at her feet.

"Help me." he'd cried weakly, holding his open guts with his hands.

"Mother! Father!" Rose cried, immediately untying her apron to wrap it around his torso.

Her parents, alarmed by the panic in her voice, came running immediately. They brought the injured man inside, and Rose looked on with her heart in her throat as her parents worked together to stitch him up and administer potions. "Is he going to be alright?" Rose asked.

"We don't know, darling." Rosalind said, her voice soft.

Rose paced back and forth wringing her hands, waiting for instructions. She brought warm water when asked to, and whatever herbs and potions her parents needed. And finally, when the sun was rising early the next morning, she heard her father declare in a voice thick with exhaustion, that the man would be alright.

"Thank the gods!" Rose cried, wrapping her arms around her beloved parents. The three of them stood there together, tears of relief and exhaustion spilling down their faces. Blood smeared their cheeks, hands and clothing, and there were bloodied rags and clothing scattered around their feet.

Rose looked down at the sleeping soldier, and reached out a shaky hand to caress his face. He is handsome, she thought, as she took in his typically Nord-yellow hair and his strong features. He wasn't overly muscular or broad-shouldered, but his hands were calloused and strong, marking him as a seasoned warrior. He didn't look to be much older than Rose - he certainly wouldn't be any more than thirty.

"Rose, we all need to get some sleep." Father said.

"It's alright Father, I'd like to watch over him. You two go to bed, I'll be just fine." Rose assured them, and surprisingly, they did not argue. They kissed their daughter, and left hand-in-hand to go to bed.

Rose carefully sat herself on the bed next to the soldier, and continued to stroke him and whisper to him. Eventually, she couldn't keep her eyes open. She lay down next to him, careful not to bump him, and went off to sleep.

One week after they had rescued and saved the life of this Stormcloak soldier, Rose found herself falling for him. He was sassy and flirtatious, good looking and friendly. She kept her feelings to herself of course; her former best friend's words ringing through her head - 'Rose, you are a good mate. It's a shame you're a girl, because you'd be good as a bloke.' he'd said.

But the man - Hrondr - had gotten under her skin, and under her barriers. He continued to flirt with her; he picked flowers for her and bought trinkets from passing merchants, until she believed that he did have feelings for her. He told her she was beautiful, and that any man would be lucky to have her. He kissed her tenderly - like he meant it - and he traced the contours of her face as though he was committing them to memory. He kneaded her breasts like a man starved, and stroked her private flesh as though all he cared about was her pleasure. He'd coax at least one orgasm out of her before he would enter her, and as he thrust in and out of her, he'd clutch her tightly to him like he never wanted to let go. He would tell her he loved her as he shot his seed far into her, and she would feel like the most special woman in the world.

Even her parents loved him, and hoped that he would ask her for her hand in marriage. Her father would take Hrondr hunting, and he grew to love Hrondr like a son. He had all three of them wrapped around his little finger, but they didn't mind. A couple of months passed, and Hrondr blended in so well that it was almost as though he'd always been there.

But when Rose told him she was carrying his child, his big act fell apart at the seams. His face fell, and he stammered and flexed his hands as he scrambled for his mask of happiness.

"Hrondr...are you alright? I thought you'd be happy." Rose whispered, a single tear escaping.

Hrondr answered too quickly; he was too animated. "Oh! Oh, I am happy! Rose, it's wonderful, really! It's just...a bit of a shock, that's all." he brought her hands to his lips and peppered fast kisses all over them, obscuring his expression from her. Rose pulled her hands away to see his face, and he abruptly stood up. "I'm going to get some ale from the shed, to celebrate!" and then he stalked out of the room.

Rose tried to swallow the feelings of doom rising within her, but they stayed, and they festered until her stomach ached and her chest tightened. Over the next few days, Hrondr flitted about the house nervously. He was quiet and not his usual chirpy self, and no sassy comments came out of his mouth. One afternoon, he disappeared for a few hours, and when he returned, he told them that he'd bumped into a Stormcloak courier who had been looking for him.

"I've been called to war once again. Now that I'm fully healed, I have to heed the call." he said, avoiding their pleading gazes.

"You...you can't leave! Our baby needs a father!" Rose cried, throwing herself at his feet.

"Stand up, Rose." Gerald's voice was unusually stern as he lifted Rose to her feet. She looked to her handsome father's eyes, but he wasn't looking at her - he was glaring hotly at Hrondr, angry that he would be abandoning his new family.

"I'm sorry, I really am. I'll stay until the morning..." his voice trailed off as her parents glared coldly at him, seeing through his lies. Rose trembled in her father's arms, biting down the sobs that were trying to escape.

That night, Rose tried everything to rekindle his interest. She had stripped bare and flaunted her womanly figure, before she took his hardness into her mouth. She had put her best effort into the act, and when he began to stroke her hair as he groaned in pleasure, she felt hope spark within her. She'd even let him release into her mouth, and she swallowed every drop. "Gods, Rose...that was...hah..." Hrondr threw his head back against the pillow, his face a picture of pure bliss.

Rose climbed into bed beside him, and clung to him as though she'd be able to stop him from leaving. But his cuddles were half-hearted and brief, and he remained aloof and quiet until he eventually rolled over to face the other way, leaving Rose in no doubt that he would be leaving.

In the morning, Rose woke to find him sitting by her bed with his bag packed and ready to go. "Hrondr..." she croaked, tears springing to her eyes. "Hrondr, please don't go." she knelt by his feet and placed her head on his lap, crying silently. He allowed her to do this for a few moments before he rose out of his chair without so much as touching her.

"Don't you love me?" she whispered, pulling his face towards her to make him look at her.

He was silent for several moments, his face stony. "No." he finally answered. "And I don't believe the child in your belly is mine. I've seen the way you act around that neighbour of yours." he hissed, his face and eyes twisting into an angry expression she'd never seen on him before.

Rose gasped, clutching her throat - she was utterly surprised and shocked at his accusation; where in oblivion did that come from? "Wh-what..."

"I never loved you, anyway." Rose stumbled back as though his words had physically hurt her, and a single sob escaped from her. Hrondr snatched up his bag, and she watched him leave without so much as a backward glance. I never loved you, anyway.

She stood in place for several minutes, her hand still pressed against the base of her throat and her eyes still lingering on the door. It was only when her mother came in to find out what all the noise was about did Rose collapse in a fit of desperate sobbing. I never loved you, anyway. She spent the next month moping about the house as her hormones warred within her, making things seem much worse than they really were.

"We can help you bring up the child, Rose. We are better off without Hrondr - he was a liar from the start, only using us for a place to stay while he healed. He never had any intention of staying." reasoned her father.

As Rose's belly grew, so did her heart heal. Gradually, her heart forgot about Hrondr, and looking back, she conceded that what she'd felt for him wasn't love so much as infatuation. She'd been lonely, having steered clear of men before Hrondr came along to provide what she as a woman had been deprived of for so long. Still, she was happy that he had given her a child in the end. She'd always loved the idea of motherhood, and looked forward to becoming the best mother she could be.

She gave birth with her parents by her side, to a healthy baby boy with golden tufts of hair and blue eyes like his father. He was a quiet baby; not much of a peep out of him. He slept well and rarely cried - all in all he was a placid and content little fellow, and Rose slipped into her role as a mother with ease.

A little over three weeks later, Rose and her parents sat in their cosy loungeroom with little Harald.

"Do you hear that?" Gerald said, holding up his hand for silence.

Rose and her mother strained their ears, and yes - they could hear approaching hoofbeats. Soon, they could hear shouts and horses whinnying, and then there was a loud bash at the door. "Quick, get in the bedroom." Rose's father said, ushering his family out of the room.

Rose handed little Harald to her mother, and stood with her ear pressed against the door. "...not here, he left months ago." she heard her father saying.

"Where did he go?" demanded the door-knocker; his accent indicated that he was an Altmer. Rose's heart stopped - could they be Thalmor? She reached over and clutched her mother's hand.

"He was called to war. That's all we know, I swear it!" Gerald sounded panicked, and Rose wondered whether he was being threatened.

Suddenly, there was a loud thud, and then the sound of many footsteps, followed by grunting and struggling. Rose burst through the door, worried for her father. At the door, she found several Thalmor agents crowding in, and her father pressed up against the wall with a Thalmor Justiciar holding him up by the scruff of the neck.

"Let him go!" Rose screamed, but of course, the only response she got was a haughty sneer from the Justiciar before she found herself hauled up against the wall next to her father.

"You!" he shouted. "You will have the answers I seek!" he dropped Gerald, who was immediately restrained by the guards. Gerald shouted at them to leave Rose alone, but they ignored him of course.

Rose clenched her jaw, determined not to show fear to these cutthroats. "I know only as much as my father knows. Hrondr left to rejoin the war effort." she hissed, bravely staring the Justiciar in the eyes despite the fear of the sharp dagger at her throat.

"Do you know that Hrondr is an avid Talos worshipper? And not only that, he is one of the highest ranking Stormcloak rebels to actively spread the lies? Do you know how many lives he is responsible for? All the men and women that he has brainwashed...all dead - "

Rose spat in the agent's mouth as he was speaking, causing him to gag. She had time to smile briefly before he swung a hard punch to the side of her head, rendering her unconscious. The last thing she heard was the Thalmor Justiciar ordering his men to set the house and its 'Talos-worshipping occupants' on fire, before she slipped into darkness.

It was the searing heat and cloying smoke that woke her from her stupor. Gut-wrenching realisation hit her as she became aware of her parents screaming, and she could hear little Harald...oh gods...not my baby! The sounds compelled her to scramble to her feet, her head spinning dangerously as she staggered towards the screams. I'm coming, she shrieked silently, fighting her way, coughing, through smoke and falling debris. Her heart galloped painfully in her chest as she realised the house would soon collapse - she had to get her family to safety before that happened!

As she turned into the hallway leading to the bedrooms, she spotted her father, slumped against the wall. "Father!" she cried, immediately dropping to his side.

He mumbled incoherently, blood oozing from his mouth. Rose lowered her ear to his mouth to hear what he was trying to say. "Leave me...save them..." he gurgled, the effort of talking releasing a gush of blood from his mouth. Rose's shoulders shook with emotion; her father was dying. "Go..." he hissed, turning his face away from her.

There was no time to waste; she knew her father was dying, and carrying him would delay her too long. She placed a kiss on her father's clammy forehead, and lurched to her feet. She picked her way down the seemingly endless hallway, and finally, she reached the door to the bedroom. "Mother!" she screamed over the noise of roaring flames, frantically trying to push the door open, but it was jammed - the wood was warping from the heat. She shoved as hard as she could to try to open the door. When the door finally crashed open, relief flooded her senses as she saw that Rosalind and Harald were safe. "Mum!" she cried, reaching for them.

But she never did get to them before the roof gave a loud and frightening groan, and the burning roof collapsed on top of them. She felt something heavy burning against her back, pinning her. Her lungs filled with smoke, and she gasped for air until they burned. When she pried her eyes open, all she could see were flames. As her consciousness faded, swirling images of little newborn Harald cascaded through her mind. She could see his little button nose, his chubby little hands, and the little dimple in his cheek that would appear while latched on the breast. Poor sweet Harald, whom had only just begun his little life. He'd only just started to smile a week before.

Her soul screamed in agonising grief and terror; only the gods could save her now.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

(A/N: and save her the gods did, for she is Dragonborn.)


Vilkas was quite pleased with himself. He'd managed to make a hearty beef and potato stew to rival Tilma's, and the smell was amazing. After scoffing down a bowl of it himself, he ladled some into a bowl for Farkas, and ripped off a chunk of bread that Farkas could dip into the juices. He'd been checking on Farkas from time to time, satisfied with the way his cheeks were regaining colour as he slept. At one point he'd been snoring loudly, and a lock of hair that was draped over his face would flutter with each exhale. He wasn't snoring any more, thank the gods. He'd been asleep for almost eighteen hours, and Vilkas thought it was time for him to wake up and eat something.

"Farkas. Wakey wakey, hands off snakey!" he said, wafting the delicious stew in front of his brother's nose for a few moments before setting the bowl down. Farkas stirred softly but did not wake, so Vilkas removed the furs from his feet. "Come on brother, you need to wake up."

"Ungh..." Farkas mumbled sleepily, drawing his feet upwards under the warmth of the furs.

Vilkas chuckled, and removed the furs altogether. "Farkas. Foooood."

Farkas' eyes flicked open, and he looked around the tent with a confused expression until he remembered where he was. Vilkas helped him to sit up, scooped up a spoonful of stew and held it to Farkas' mouth.

"Give me that! I'm not a baby." Farkas croaked, his throat dry from disuse. Vilkas handed him the spoon and watched him for a few minutes, to make sure he was alright. When Farkas glared playfully at him and muttered obsceneties at him, Vilkas knew Farkas was back to his old self.

Farkas usually gutsed his food, or 'inhaled' it, as Rose liked to say. But now he took his time, savouring the taste and allowing his thoughts to wander to the cavernous world below. A feeling of heavy dread filled him as images of Rose sprang into his mind - she was surrounded by fire and blood, and the screams of despair issuing from her made him yelp out loud.

"Farkas! Are you alright?" Vilkas said, rushing back into the tent.

"No. Your cooking is shit." Farkas tried to joke, but he wasn't fooling anyone - Vilkas looked expectantly at him, waiting for Farkas to say what was on his mind. "I've got a bad feeling that Rose is in trouble." he finally said.


The ground shook, accompanied by loud shrieking and shouts. Flames shot through the door to the small chamber Rose was in - and by some stroke of luck her two captors, whom happened to be standing near the door, were set alight. Rose lay oblivious to it all as her life leaked away, but the flames did not touch her.

The irate dragon - whom had been disturbed from his slumber by the Unrelenting Force Shout that Rose had used earlier - stomped through the courtyard, hungrily gobbling up Falmer and slave alike. Their pitiful magicks and effectless weapons didn't hurt him; he spewed fire, he tore with teeth and claws, and he lashed his great barbed tail. When he'd heard the Thu'um, he knew his chance to escape this alien land of blackness had come.

Led by the scent of dragon souls coiled deep within this one lone woman, he gathered his strength and tore open the chamber where his prize lay dying. He carefully wrapped one talon around her and brought her out.


While Rose's body was being carefully lifted to the safety of the dragon's perch, her spirit was awakening in a different place. Her vision was foggy and purple-hued at first but after a few moments, a picture of tranquil beauty beyond compare presented itself. She first noticed the absence of pain before she lifted her face to the azure sky, her ethereal heart skipping a beat at the sheer depth of colour. A few fluffy white clouds dotted the sky, and the sun's rays warmed her face. The gentlest of breezes lifted a few strands of her hair, bringing with it the scent of lavender and summer. She could hear the faint buzz of insects nearby, and some birds chirping happily.

Sovngarde...she breathed the clean, warm air deeply, and sighed in contentment. Her worries washed away with each breath; the importance of being the legendary Dragonborn fading somewhat with each breath - here in Sovngarde, Skyrim's problems seemed miniscule and petty. But an image of her beloved Farkas popped into her head, and she remembered that she wasn't meant to be here, not yet.

She stepped onto the cobbled path before her, instinctively feeling the need to follow the path, to see what lay beyond. As she walked, emotions warred within her. On one hand, she felt peace like she'd never felt before; like she had come home. She felt like she'd have everything she'd need here. On the other hand, her destiny to defeat the World Eater tugged at her heart, but moreover, the thought of leaving dear Farkas behind made her heart feel as though it was going to tear in half. I don't want to leave him behind.

In the distance, she made out the shimmering outlines of two people. Curiosity and wonder filled her; who were they, and who had they been? And why were they coming towards her?

As they neared each other, her heart sang as recognition began to dawn on her. Her chest ached painfully and tears filled her eyes as she broke into a run, and she heard a keening noise that didn't immediately register as her own. Hurry, she thought, but her legs felt leaden. Please..

"Rose!"her mother screamed, arms outstretched. Rose's knees gave way as her mother's arms encircled her, the familiar smell of home cooking and purple mountain flowers washing over her.

Rose couldn't speak, her throat and her chest were too tight. She pressed her face into her mother's belly, sobbing breathlessly as her mother kissed and stroked her head. "Rosie...Rosie..." her mother soothed, before lifting Rose's face.

Rose looked up into her mother's face - it was the same face as always; her green eyes still sparkled with warmth, and her honey-coloured waves still shone healthily. No words were needed in this moment as mother and daughter reunited, but the moment was over too soon - there were two other souls eagerly waiting to reunite with her, too.

"Father?" Rose's voice quivered as she stood on shaky legs, and as Gerald approached her cradling something precious in his arms, she broke into fresh sobs. Her hands flew to her mouth, unable to articulate the sheer joy she felt at seeing them. "H-Harald?" she whispered, reaching out one hand to her father's handsome, bearded face, and the other to the soft bundle in his arms. "My baby?" the tears wouldn't abate; she couldn't see properly through the blur. She froze in place; it was all too overwhelming, all too much, all too unbelievable.

She felt her mother's soft hand on her arm, and simultaenously felt little Harald, swaddled in a velvety yellow blanket, being placed into her arms. Her father's arms came around her as she pressed her nose against Harald's soft pink cheek, inhaling his familiar scent. "My baby sweet boy." she whimpered, trembling. "He still smells like my milk." Harald squeaked contentedly, his blue eyes locking onto his mother's.

"There is no such thing as the passing of time here, sweet daughter. He will always smell like your milk." Gerald chortled softly, as Rose peppered kisses over Harald's face and rubbed her cheek against his.

Gerald, Rosalind, Rose and little baby Harald snuggled together for an eternity - or a moment - sharing each other's loving warmth, and the comfort of each other's familiar scents. My baby son is here, I belong with him.

"Rosie...you know you cannot stay," Rosalind whispered, "you know in your heart that it is not your time."

Rose did know it, but to hear her mother speak it aloud made her chest clench painfully. "I don't want to go, I want to stay here with my family." she cried.

"We know you do, darling. But we will be right here waiting for you, when it is your time." Rosalind said.

"Harald won't really miss you, you know - to him, you'll only be gone for a few moments. Go and do what the gods intended for you. Go and marry your soul mate - Farkas - and make some siblings for Harald." Gerald's eyes twinkled with mirth, and Rose gasped. How did he know of Farkas?

"We have been watching you from afar, baby girl." Rosalind said, answering as though Rose had spoken aloud.

"Farkas doesn't love me." Rose said, though she immediately felt that her words were empty words.

"He does love you, and you know it. What you saw was just a ploy by a woman with a bad soul, who tried - and failed - to take him against his will. Follow your heart, and don't let anxiety lead you."

"I'll try. But this is all very difficult. I've tried to hard to block out what happened to you, so that I could carry on. How am I supposed to go on without you?" Rose was sobbing now, clutching little Harald who was now snuggling into her neck for comfort. "How am I supposed to see you here, hold my baby in my arms, and then leave alone?"

"Because, darling...you aren't alone. We will be right here." Rosalind pressed her hand to Rose's heart, and Rose felt a blissful and warming sense of peace envelope her heart. "You must go now, before it is too late." she kissed her daughter's forehead.

Rose rocked her son gently in her arms as she rubbed her nose along his cheek one last time, inhaling his beautiful scent. "Until we meet again, sweet baby. I will never stop loving you." She stifled the next round of sobs that wanted to come out by taking lots of deep breaths, and she steeled herself for the painful farewell. Harald smiled up at her as she offered him to Rosalind, the happiness that his smile brought easing some of the ache in her heart.

Gerald pulled his daughter into his arms, putting every bit of love in his heart into the cuddle. "Ah Rose, a stór...I love you so." he whispered into her hair before releasing her.

"I love you too, Father." Rose said, kissing his cheek.

Rosalind handed little Harald to him, and then it was her turn to squeeze her beloved daughter. "Mother...you're squishing me." Rose joked tearfully, though she made no move to get away.

"Nothing changes, I suppose." Rosalind wiped her daughter's tears away before kissing each cheek. "I love you, daughter."

"And I love you, Mother."

Rosalind stepped back, and Gerald put an arm around her. Rose watched them smiling at her as her vision began to darken, signalling the beginning of her return to Nirn. Panic and terror seized her as she lost sight of her family and their tranquil surroundings, the pain of her broken body lancing through her soul.


(A/N: dragon language translations are written at the bottom of the page.)

Memories of the fire that took her family, and memories of Sovngarde cascaded through her mind as she returned to her physical body, swirling faster and faster until they abruptly began to fade to the back of her mind. She then became aware of deep, loud breathing that could only come from some giant creature, and then she felt something slimy and cool against her skin. What in the -

"Ah. You are awake, mal dovah. I have worked hard wah drun hi rigir - it was no easy task. We have mal tiid. When your body begins to die again, my powers will not work a second time, zu'u faas."

It took a moment for Rose to register what she was hearing, and whom the speaker was. A dragon rescued her? "What...who are you?" she croaked.

"I am Vulthuryol, dovahkiin. I am the former right hand of Alduin, doomed to roam these ved vulzid for all eternity. Krosis."

"Former right hand - " Rose shook her head in disbelief, though the effort made her headache bloom into dizzying agony. "Why are you here?" she whispered.

"I tried to steer Alduin from the path of tarvok ahrk suleyk...I tried to control him, for it is in a dragon's nature to control. Of course, Alduin would never agree with my logic. So he banished me here as punishment, with no way to escape."

"Then why have you rescued me? Am I to be your plaything?"

"Nid... You are going to set me free."

"And how am I going to do that?"

"You will slay me, mal dovah, and take my soul with you. Through you might I see the sky again." Rose could hear the triumph and glee in his voice, but there was no malice in it. "By absorbing my soul, your body's rate of healing will increase. Without it...you will likely seluk...die. Finish your task and slay Alduin!"

"I don't really want to kill you Vulthuryol, you seem like a nice dragon!" Rose chirped groggily, reaching up to stroke his cold and wet snout, though the movement caused fresh pain to spear through her.

"Hi los zurun, mal dovah. Only the Dragonborn has the power to free my soul. Take this sword," he indicated a discarded Falmer sword, "and drive it through my brain!" boomed Vulthuryol.

Rose shakily pulled herself into a standing position and hesitated briefly, before giving the dragon a peck on his snout. "I'll take good care of your soul. At least you'll have some friends in there to talk to!" she said, hefting the sword which felt like ten greatswords. "Gees, I can barely lift it - I'm like a weak little lamb."

"Go on, dovahkiin. Don't try my patience!"

"Alright. Here we go. Farewell, friend Vulthuryol!" Slowly, carefully, Rose climbed onto the dragon's neck and with a sheer effort of will, used the last of her strength to plunge the sword into the base of his skull.

"Ahhh...nox hi, dov..." Vulthuryol's voice trailed away as his body began to flake. She felt his soul swirling around her before it found its way in, bringing a rush of vague memories that sank deep into her subconscious before she could grasp them. Along with the soul came renewed strength and vigor, and she felt that she'd be able to complete the final part of her quest.

"Enjoy your freedom, dragon." she whispered.

Rose decided a quick search of the area for her pack wouldn't hurt - though she was fairly certain that her enemies were all dead, she exercised caution nonetheless; she didn't want to expend the energy that Vulthuryol's soul had given her.

One hour later, she finally opened the door to the Tower of Mzark with her pack - miraculously containing the lexicon and attunement spheres - and the Falmer sword. She could feel her strength waning once again - she had been brought back from death caused by the injuries she still bore, and the gift of life would not last if she didn't get some form of help soon.


The twins were tucking into their dinner, watching the sun slipping below the horizon. Farkas was feeling much better physically thanks to the good rest, stamina potions and Vilkas' nourishing meals. But his heart throbbed heavy in his chest, his stomach fluttering with worry for Rose. He knew there was nothing they could do, short of taking a year or so to dig their way through to the bowels of the earth.

"Vilkas, do you feel that?" Farkas said, shooting to his feet.

"That's odd...the ground is rumbling!" Vilkas splayed his hands on the ground to feel the vibrations, before realisation hit him. "The Great Lift!"

The two men scrambed to the Lift and wrapped their hands around the bars, waiting as the vibrations got louder and louder. Farkas' heart was in his throat as the lift's hatch opened to reveal Rose, who was shivering violently on her knees, wavering and slack-faced.

"Rose." Farkas breathed, yanking hard on the bars. His wolf spirit whimpered and paced, anxious for his mate, their mate. His palms began to sweat, and his stomach clenched in fear for her. He made a strangled sound when he smelled and saw her injuries. "Vilkas...there's blood coming from the back of her head." he growled sadly.

Rose didn't appear to see or hear them; she seemed solely focused on the lever on the wall - the lever that the brothers couldn't reach. They watched, helpless - save to offer words of encouragement - as Rose crawled, painstakingly slow, to the wall. She pulled herself up on wobbly legs, grabbing hold of the lever to steady herself before she pushed it down. The gate's mechanism gave an almighty groan, and then finally, it opened.

Farkas caught Rose in his arms as she collapsed, her face eerily white. Gods, she's freezing to the touch, he thought. He carried her into the tent and gently lay her down on his bed. "Rose...Rose...can you hear me?" his voice was hoarse with emotion as he stroked her face, looking for signs of consciousness. Please... He acknowledged her lack of armour, filing it away in the back of his mind as he examined her bodily injuries. Vilkas poured a potent health potion into his cupped palm, and massaged it gently into the back of Rose's head. He repeated it until the bottle was empty, and then he reached into his pack for more potions.

Farkas threw every pelt he could find over her shivering form and vigorously rubbed her arms over them, but after some time passed with no abatement of her shivering, he decided the best thing to warm her was his own body heat; by default, the lycanthropy made his body temperature higher than normal. Without further ado he stripped down to his underwear, slipped into bed beside her and gently pulled her into his arms. He let out a sigh of heavy emotion, willing his love to be alright.

Vilkas brought a variety of potions out of his pack, as well as a few different herbs. "You'll have to support her head while we try to pour them in her mouth." he said, his eyebrow raised at the odd expression on Farkas' face. He sensed the mixed emotions moiling in his brother's heart, and he nodded in sympathetic understanding.

Farkas carefully pulled her slightly upright, supporting her head in the crook of his arm. Vilkas immediately popped the cork on a bottle of cure poison, and pressed it to her lips. Farkas stroked her throat lovingly to encourage her to swallow, murmuring words of comfort as he did so. Once Vilkas was satisfied with the amount she had swallowed, he pressed a health potion to her lips.

"Here, you can take over. I'll be in my tent...just call me if you need me." Vilkas said, and then he disappeared into his smaller tent.

Farkas loved his brother, but he was glad to be left alone with Rose. He patiently administered the potions to her, caressing her face and her hair between sips, and placing the occasional kiss to her temple. He smiled as some colour returned to her cheeks and her breathing evened out, and though she was still trembling a little, her skin was slowly warming. The combination of knowing she was out of danger and the feeling of her in his arms, skin-on-skin, caused his chest to rumble softly in contentment. He wrapped himself around her protectively, pressing his nose into the back of her neck. He knew instinctively that she would be alright, and he sighed happily.

For the first time since before he had taken on the blood of the wolf, he felt truly at peace.


Fiiiiiiiiiiinally, hey! Sorry for all the drama and woe. As a reward for sticking with me, the next chapter will contain FLUFF GALORE!

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A stór means 'my treasure' in Irish. I know, I know, they're Nords and they don't speak Gaelic; I simply put this in as a small tribute to my Irish heritage.

Dragon word translations:

mal dovah - little dragon

ved vulzid - black depths

krosis - an expression of sorrow

tarvok ahrk suleyk - greed and power

wah drun hih rigir - to bring you back

mal tiid - little time

zu'u fas - I fear

seluk - perish

hi los zurun - you are strange

nox hi - thank you

Chapter Text

Finally, the part we've all been waiting for: Rose and Farkas' reunion! This chapter will mainly focus on them, how unfortunate! Prepare for fluff, and be warned: this chapter contains exquisitely explicit love scenes that are absolutely, positively NOT FOR YOUNG AUDIENCES. We will also meet a couple of our favourite Skyrim wanderers, which will add a little bit of colour to this chapter.

Last but not least, thanks for all your favs, follows and reviews. Keep 'em coming! :)


Rose dreamed as her body healed. Memories of her her parents and her babe in Sovngarde floated through her mind, their words replaying themselves. "We will be right here." Her mother had said, placing her palm over Rose's sore heart. The words "Marry your Farkas..." and "He does love you..." brought images of his smiling face to the forefront of her mind, along with a feeling of being wrapped in warmth and softness that seeped into her very bones.

The surprising warmth finally seeped into her consciousness, and slowly, she became aware of herself and her surroundings. She wiggled her toes contentedly, passing through a moment of confusion when she felt soft, warm skin against the soles of her feet.

It was then that she realised why she was so blissfully warm. Her eyes flew open and her heart jumped into her throat, as a familiar scent filled her senses. Two familiar, thickly muscled and hairy arms encircled her; one arm cradled her head; and the other arm was wrapped tightly around her, his larger hand clutching her smaller hand snugly against her chest. The warmth of his breath puffed against the back of her head, causing tingles to run down her scalp.

Her heart thudded excitedly as the realisation crashed through her that she was not only hale, but wrapped in the arms of the one person she wanted most - the one person she had longed for during her ordeals, the one person for whom her love urged her back to Nirn. Despite feeling very achy, heavy and exhausted, desire bloomed inside of her as she realised he was as naked as she was; the hot, hair-covered skin of his trunk pressed flush against her back.

Murmuring his name, she wriggled around until she was facing him, blushing profusely when her bare skin slid against his equally bare skin. His twinkling eyes were open; it didn't take more than the whisper of movement to alert his werewolf-enhanced senses. He inhaled sharply as he gazed at her with puppy eyes full of wonder and love, his hands stroking along the soft skin of her back and her arms to leave a trail of electric tingles in their wake. Rose was having trouble deciding whether this was simply a dream, or another version of Sovngarde. Heavy tension boiled and sizzled between them as they began to caress one another, their eyes locked together.

"Good morning." his voice was husky and thick with sleep and longing, and he couldn't help the way his fingertips slipped beneath the hem of her undies to caress the skin over her hips.

Rose made a sound that was a mixture of a sob and a gasp, as tears of emotion burst from her eyes: she had, by sheer effort of will, pushed herself to fetch the Elder Scroll and get to the lift while her strength drained from her second-by-second, and she had begun to wonder whether she would die after all. She couldn't even remember coming up the lift, let alone remember how she ended up under the furs with a naked Farkas. The feel of his hands now gently kneading her hip beneath her underwear increased her arousal and she knew that if she just pressed her hips forward, she would feel his arousal too. She purposefully avoided going down that road for the moment - as much as she wanted him, had always wanted him - she needed answers about Njada. She needed the air to be clear and besides, she wouldn't mind him courting her a little bit first; she should make him have to work hard for making her wait so long for him.

"Good morning." she replied in a whisper. She let her hand come up to caress his handsome face, as if touching him would further prove that his presence was real. Rose felt Farkas' fingers leave her hips to lovingly rub the back of her neck, kneading and stroking gently. She briefly closed her eyes in enjoyment of his affection, still in disbelief that she was actually here, in his arms. "How came I here? I don't remember."

"Me an' Vilkas were waiting at the Great Lift for you. You pulled the lever to open the doors, and then you passed out. There are tents outside the Lift, and that's where we still are now." he said, gesturing to the tent around them. "More importantly, how are you feeling?" he pulled back from her a little, propping himself on his elbow to get a better look at her.

"Well, I'm a bit sore and a bit tired but I'm okay." she said, pushing herself into a sitting position. She lifted her hand to touch the back of her head where her injury had been. The furs fell from her as she did so, and the way Farkas' eyes roamed all over her was not lost on her. Rose's eyes couldn't help but take in his broad, muscular shoulders, and his strong, hair-covered chest. Before her eyes could go any lower, she chuckled nervously - embarrassed at her dirty and smelly state, she dropped her eyes from him as she went to pull the furs over herself.

Farkas laughed softly at her embarrassment, and then pulled her into a tight bear hug. Suddenly, he made an excited sound which was a mixture of a growl and a roar, and rocked her vigorously from side to side. "By all the gods, woman! I missed you so much!" he shouted happily. Rose laughed into his neck, the sound muffled because her mouth was squished against his skin. After a few long moments of being rocked and nearly suffocated she dug her fingers into his ribs to try to get him to let go, but he only tightened his grip with a soft growl of warning. She decided to up the ante by gripping his nipples and giving them a none-too-gentle twist. "Yyyahwww!" he cried, abruptly letting her go. The look on his face was a combination of happiness and hurt, and it only made Rose laugh harder.

Tears of happiness and relief flowed down her cheeks, and she took his face into her hands. "I missed you too, Farkas. More than you know." Her tone was serious, and their laughter died down.

Farkas' smile disappeared as he placed his palms over her hands, bringing her hands to his lips. "I'm sorry for what you saw." he said, referring to Njada.

"What happened?" Rose whispered, fresh tears spilling from her eyes. The hurt she had felt upon seeing Njada straddling Farkas like that was still fresh, and it all now came rushing back.

Farkas opened his mouth to speak, but the polite cough coming from the entry to the tent ended the discussion before it began. Both Rose and Farkas looked up to see Vilkas standing there holding two steaming bowls of something good-smelling. "Sorry to interrupt. How are you feeling, Rose?" Vilkas said, smiling ruefully.

"I'm tired and achy but I feel alright. Bloody starving, though!" she said, eyeing the bowls. The two men laughed, happy to see that Rose was still herself.

"Well, this'll cure what ails you." Vilkas handed them each a bowl, and left the tent to fetch himself a bowl before coming back to sit down next to Rose.

They sat in silence for a few minutes, enjoying the broth that Vilkas had made. "So, Rose. What was it like?" Vilkas said, pointing to the Lift.

"The Lift? Oh...pretty boring, really." Rose joked, earning an exasperated eye-roll from her shield-brother.

"Good to see you haven't lost that unique sense of humour." he grumbled dryly, and Rose chuckled.

"Blackreach was one of the scariest, most alien places and yet, it is one of the most majestic places I have ever seen." Aside from Sovngarde, she added in her mind.

She told them of her experience in Blackreach as they ate, omitting the part about Sovngarde. She would tell them one day - she was too overwhelmed to voice the feelings associated with that experience and right now, all she wanted was to bask in the happiness of their reunion. She did tell them about the dragon that saved her, much to their amusement.

"Rose finds friends everywhere she goes! You know, when she goes to defeat the World Eater, all she needs to do is smile at him and he'll follow her around like a good little puppy until he dies of love-sickness!" Farkas joked, ruffling her hair.

Rose blushed, and then fell silent. The matter of Njada still needed to be resolved - she knew in her heart that what she had seen wasn't what it appeared to be, but she still needed answers. "Please, tell me about Njada." she said, putting her empty bowl on the ground beside her.

Farkas puffed his cheeks and blew air out, pinching the bridge of his nose. "Njada. Well. Turns out she's a bit of a psychopath." Farkas felt the need to reach out to clutch Rose's hand, reassurance for her as well as him. "She drugged my mead, hoping to get me to be pliant enough to let her have her way with me." he said, a shiver of disgust going through him. Rose and Vilkas watched him expectantly, not wishing to interrupt while Farkas pondered his thoughts, collating them into words. After a few moments, he continued. "She actually gave me too much, and the last thing I remember was her trying to get my pants undone before I blacked out." Farkas finished with a shrug, staring into the pile of furs in front of him. An image Njada pouring more of the liquid into his mouth entered his mind, and his cheeks burned with shame. I really am the village idiot, he thought.

"If it had not been for the beastblood, Farkas would have died. Njada was careless and stupid. She acted recklessly - her obsession with Farkas went against all logic and reason. She knew that Farkas would never go with her, not while another held his heart." Vilkas looked pointedly at Rose, its meaning causing her heart to skip a beat.

A few moments of silence passed between them as Rose processed the information. "So...where is Njada now?" she said, rubbing gentle circles on Farkas' knuckles with her thumb.

"Kodlak, Skjor and Aela locked her in the storage room, but I think they would have taken her to jail by now." Vilkas said.

"And then...what? Does her head go on the chopping block, for nearly killing Farkas?" she spat.

"That's up to you, Rose. The sooner we get back, the sooner we can all stand together to decide her fate." Vilkas said, shrugging his shoulders.

Rose shook her head then, ready to tell them that she needed to get to the Throat of the World with the Elder Scroll. "The Elder Scroll...I need to take it to the Throat of the World. I need to read it at the Time Wound."

"Time Wound? Did somebody hurt it?" Farkas joked lamely.

Rose sniggered and Vilkas rolled his eyes with a groan, and then Rose told the twins all about her visit with Paarthurnax. Once they had gotten over the shock of learning that the Master of the Greybeards was in fact a dragon, they listened with rapt attention to the information she gave them.

"So, I really need to get this Scroll up the mountain. I reckon Njada can wait for a bit longer - let her rot in the dungeons; she deserves to suffer for her actions. Let her anxiety be part of her punishment." Rose said, crossing her arms and tilting her chin upwards.

"Hmm. I don't know if Kodlak will like it, but...you are the Dragonborn, and your task is far more important than the fate of one silly girl." Vilkas agreed. "I will relay the news back to Jorrvaskr, and Farkas will escort you to the Throat of the World."

After a few more hours of rest, the three packed their belongings. Vilkas had found a set of hide armour for Rose - it was a bit big for her, but it was comfortable enough. The twins were concerned for her wellbeing - surely she was in need of more rest before undertaking the seven-thousand steps? Rose assured them that she was just fine, despite being a bit tired and sore.

They shared a lunch together under a cloudy sky before going their separate ways. Vilkas pulled Rose into a brotherly cuddle, letting her know once again how happy he was to have her back, and reminding her gently that she held his brother's heart in her hands. "He is head over heels for you, Rose. But I think you already know that." he whispered.

"I heard that." Farkas growled, winking playfully at Rose. "Come on woman, let my pussy-arse brother go before I haul you over my shoulder."

"Hmm, well that wouldn't be a bad thing." she joked, causing Farkas' cheeks to redden slightly. "See ya, Vilkas. Tell the others I'm sorry for making them wait."

"They will understand, I'm sure."

They walked down the path together, before Vilkas vaulted onto the horse's back and galloped away, clumps of grass and dirt flicking up behind the horse's hooves. Farkas' hand was raised in farewell, and he looked a little bit sad.

"Don't worry, we'll likely be back within two weeks." Rose said, clutching his other hand.

Farkas squeezed her hand, and then he abruptly pulled her into his arms. "I'm alright, Rose. It's normal for me to worry for my twin when we're not together. He thinks he's my protector, but it's really the other way around." he said, into her hair.

"I know." she pulled her face back to look at him. "Let's get this trip out of the way, so I can get back to my cobwebs and my broom."

Farkas looked confusedly at her for a moment, before remembering the cobwebs they'd been joking about in Breezehome. "They've grown since you've been gone, you know. You'd be proud!" he chortled. His booming voice vibrated through her chest, causing warmth to spread downwards. She laughed at his cute joke, but held his gaze. Kiss me, she willed. Farkas kept a small smirk on his face as he lowered his forehead to hers.

"You really smell." he announced.

"Ohh, Farkas! You really know how to make a woman feel special!" she growled, shoving him in the chest. Farkas' laughter echoed off the cliff face, and Rose couldn't help but match it.


Farkas was positively beside himself with excitement at the prospect of having Rose all to himself for two weeks. By the time they arrived back to Jorrvaskr, Rose would know just how much he had missed her, and how much he loved her. She'll know it not just in her heart, but also in the fact that she'll be walkin' with a limp, thought Farkas, a cheeky grin on his face. He didn't think he'd ever felt happier than he did on this day. Waking up with Rose in his arms felt so right. When he first met her his wolf spirit, for the first time, had recognised its mate - their mate - and because of that, there was no truer indication that she was his human soul mate as well. Out of respect for her need for recovery, it had taken every ounce of strength not to claim her as his primal side was urging; he wanted to ensure she was back to full strength before that happened...for she was going to need all her strength. So for now, he'd stick to flirting and wooing her - by the time he would make love with her, she would have no doubt in her mind that he loved her more than life.

"What are you grinning at, you bastard?" Rose hissed, shooting him a very icy glare. Though it looked bad, Farkas could not deny the twinkle that he saw in her eyes.

"Hmm...nothin'." he shrugged his shoulders, but the grin stayed.

Rose stopped in her tracks and planted her hands on her hips. "You know what? Piss off back to Jorrvaskr now, and send Vilkas back in your place!" she huffed.

"Now, don't be like that. I was just ki - "

Rose chose that moment to lunge at him, tackling the great bear of a man to the ground as though she was twice his size. Farkas - despite being shocked at the ease with which she had felled him - laughed heartily, wrapping his strong arms around her to pin her arms to her sides.

"Like I said - I was kidding." he smiled, and rubbed the tip of his nose against hers.

"Kidding about what, Farkas? Say it." Rose tried to sound menacing, but the way his warm breath fanned against her lips took the puff out of her words.

"I was kidding that you smell. Well...you do smell, but it's not really that bad - " Rose groaned in exasperation and flopped her head against his shoulder, wincing slightly when her cheek hit the cold steel of his armour. "Come on, Rose. Let's find a stream and get washed up. Talos knows I could use a bath, too." He sat himself up with her still in his arms, relieved to see that she was grinning from ear to ear.

"Sounds like a plan!" she chirped, springing to her feet. The smile on her face remained for much of the day - erotic images of Farkas soaping up his naked, masculine body setting her loins on fire. She'd always been highly-sexed, but thoughts of Farkas awoke feelings and sensations inside of her that no other man had ever induced.

They walked hand-in-hand as Farkas filled her in on the latest gossip around Whiterun. Rose thought it was funny as Farkas never usually took much notice of gossip and rumour, and the thought of dear Farkas listening intently to Carlotta talking conspiratorially made her love him just a little bit more.

"I smell water not too far from here." Farkas announced, sniffing the air. The thought of Farkas using his wolf-senses caused her building excitement to spike - he thought she stank now, but what about after she was clean? Would her scent drive him wild? She hoped so. By Dibella, would they ever find a stream before the sun began to set?

"Great. I can't wait to get you out of that armour." she gushed, tugging his breastplate.

"I'll have you out of yours before you can say, 'hot potato'." he growled, slapping her behind.

"So where is this stream?" she yelped, eyes wide.

Farkas laughed and pointed to a small hillock. "Just beyond that little hill over there."

Rose broke into a run, giggling gleefully as her hair streamed out behind her. Farkas felt his cock twitch inside his armour, the blood flowing rapidly. The sight of her hair down, her shiny waves rippling as she ran and the sound of her happy laughter set his blood on fire. The wolf inside of him howled for him to act, convincing Farkas that it was time to stop dilly-dallying. He took off after her with a growl, unbuckling his armour as he approached the stream. Rose was standing at the edge of the stream studying the water, her hands on her hips. "Rose." he called, his voice gruff.

Rose turned to face him, her cheeks reddening and her bottom lip trapped between her teeth. She watched as he slowly removed his armour piece-by-piece, his eyes never leaving her face. He had a sexy, knowing smirk on his face - he could smell her lust, and it drove him crazy. She let her eyes drink him in as he revealed himself to her once again - his wide shoulders, his broad and strong chest. Images of seeing him stark naked after his transformation in Dustman's Cairn popped into her mind and she sighed in longing; she ached for him then just as she did now. She followed the soft trail of hairs down his masculine torso, her tongue unconsciously gliding over her lips as she burned for him. He was strong and fit from years of hefting his blade, but there was the smallest hint of softness around his belly button. It was the sexiest abdomen she had ever seen, and she couldn't help the soft moan that escaped her. She followed his sexy, defined inguinal creases with her eyes until they disappeared beneath his pants and lastly, her eyes alighted on the sizable bulge in his pants. "Divines..." she whispered, feeling her knees grow weak. She drew her eyes back up to his, her grin widening when she saw the cocky, mischievous grin on his face.

"You know you're torturing me." she said, her voice husky with desire. He chuckled softly in response, and began to remove his steel greaves. Nearly naked, she thought with needy anticipation. And then, he stopped undressing. Her eyebrows went up, but before she could utter a word, his hands were in her hair, and on her back to press her against him. Time seemed to stand still with anticipation; the air crackled with intense sexual tension, the product of two people in love who had been denied each other for too long. Rose felt as though her heart would explode; it was thumping too hard, too fast.

He wasted no more time then; he brushed his soft, warm lips against hers. A needy, choked sound escaped her as spears of desire shot from her lips to her core. And when he slipped his tongue into her mouth, they both groaned softly. The feel of his sensual lips against hers was everything she'd imaged them to feel and more, and the way his tongue pushed hers in a surprisingly dominating fashion left nothing to the imagination about what that tongue could do, further down. The feel of his breath against her face, and the way his eyelids fluttered in pleasure left her in no doubt that he was enjoying the kiss as much as she was. Farkas could hear her heart beating, causing his thoughts to become fogged as he deftly unbuckled the straps of her hide cuirass. When it was loose, he drew his warm hands underneath it, caressing her skin. His lips left hers to place sloppy kisses along her jaw; kisses interspersed with admissions of how badly he wanted her, before he gently nibbled downward along the curve of her neck. She would have agreed to anything in that moment, had he but asked her. He dragged his tongue back upwards until he drew her earlobe through his teeth, earning a shivery hiss from Rose. His hands caressed and massaged the skin over her back before resuming their heated, passionate kiss. He then broke their kiss to pull the garment over her head, and the look of hungry lust on his face as he studied her made her swoon.

She clutched his belt, but before she could undo the buckle, he roughly gripped her wrists to bring her hands above her head. The action caused her to bump against him, adding to her overwhelming and desperate desire. "Not yet." he growled, his tone commanding. She'd never seen this side to him before - he was usually so calm, accommodating and easy-going, and it made the moist heat between her legs throb. She did as she was told, though, and kept her hands away from his belt - with much effort - while he all but tore her hide pants off her.

"And next..." he quickly bent down to his boot and produced a small steel dagger, and before she could ask what he was doing, he'd sliced her brassiere. The boobs that he'd so often fantasised about were right there in front of him now, just begging to be touched. "Mmm..." his warm hands pushed against her breasts and he kneaded them for a moment, before his fingers found her nipples. She gasped when he pinched them lightly, and thus encouraged, pinched them a tad harder.

Rose moaned his name then, and her hands covered his. "Get your pants off Farkas, I'm sick of waiting." she croaked, reaching for his belt once again. And this time, he didn't stop her as she pulled his pants down, his painfully-hard dick now free. Her eyes widened further when they alighted on the prize - his was thick, long and slightly curved, the tip already moist. She licked her lips unconsciously as she wrapped her hands around this most coveted appendage, eliciting a husky and shuddering groan from him. She stroked his silky, hot hardness from base to tip, watching as his lips parted and his eyes blinked slowly. He let her do this for a few moments before he employed his dagger once again to slice apart her undies.

He slid his fingers between her wet folds, smiling victoriously when he felt that she was already soaked for him. "So wet." he whispered, pressing the pad of his middle finger against her swollen button.

The sound that Rose made caused a few birds to fly away in fright, and they both giggled. "You know, the main path is just over there. Someone could come wandering and get the shock of their lives." she groaned breathily.

Suddenly, Farkas picked her up and carried her to the water. She squealed as he strode into the middle of the rather chilly stream, and thankfully, it was deep enough that they could stand up with the water reaching their middles. The cold temperature of the water only managed to cool their heat just a little, and Farkas cuddled her close to warm her skin. But the way his rock-hard erection dug into her lower abdomen demanded attention, and she found herself to be very warm very quickly. Farkas slipped his finger between her nether lips once again to set a steady, circular rhythm on her button. Rose clutched his shoulders, her nails digging into his shoulder blades as she tried to process how good it felt. The wanton expression on Farkas' handsome face was so erotic, and she felt the tingling of impending orgasm begin. Her hips thrust against his hand as he increased his speed, and soon his middle finger was inside her. He expertly pressed his palm against her the hardened bundle of nerves as his finger thrust, his whispered words of love and desire against her cheek her sending shivers down her spine. Her eyes rolled into the back of her head as her pleasure almost reached its zenith...almost.

"Excuse me!" called a shaky voice belonging to a man emerging from behind the hillock.

"What!?" the couple cried in indignation and fright, the sizzling of Rose's near-climax quickly receding. Her mind was buzzing with sensation overload - lust and denied orgasm caused by the abrupt withdrawal of stimulation, followed by shock and horror made her feel confused; the invasion of their privacy causing her to tremble in Farkas' protective embrace. Farkas drew them to their knees in the water to further protect their nudity from their rude intruder.

"I - I - I'm sorry, so very sorry to interrupt. I've just been robbed, you see - "

"Have you no decency, man? Turn your back so that we can keep our dignity!" Farkas growled menacingly, and the fidgety, white-haired man visibly jumped before turning so fast that he almost fell over. "Don't move until I say so!" Farkas added, before pressing his mouth to her ear to whisper. "Sorry, my love."

The words 'my love' coming from him made her heart swell, and she could do naught but smile at him. She clutched his hand, and together they walked out of the stream and to their packs. The sight of the water dribbling downwards over his muscular, hairy chest made the aching for him intensify, and she huffed in frustration. "It'll be worth the wait." he said, winking at her.

"You bet it will." she grinned, squeezing his hand before letting it go. "Have you got a cloth to dry ourselves with?" she said, opening his pack.

"Yeah, it's the faded yellow one down the bottom. It should be clean."

"Should be?" she raised her eyebrows, but he merely shrugged in response. She found the seemingly clean cloth, and hastily dried herself before throwing it to Farkas. She quickly donned her armour, grumbling to herself that she didn't get to wash herself properly.

Once they were both dressed, Farkas ordered the man to come and face them. "Who are you?" he boomed, terrifying the poor little man.

The bloke took a few deep breaths to calm himself, before proudly announcing himself. "I, am Talsgar the Wanderer. At your service." he bowed with a flourish.

"Oh yeah, I've heard of you. You're that traveling bard." Farkas said, a note of surprise in his tone.

"At your service." he repeated, clearly nervous in front of this intimidating warrior with his war paint and his steely eyes.

"So, bard, you said you were robbed?" Farkas said.

"Y-yes. I am on a pilgrimage, you see. I love to travel the length and breadth of Skyrim, singing and telling tales to all who have the heart for it. Right now, I'm actually on a pilgrimage to High Hrothgar. High Hrothgar, if you didn't know, is the home of the Gr - "

"Yes yes, I know who the Greybeards are. We're also on a pilgrimage to High Hrothgar." Talsgar made a surprised sound, and Farkas' eyes flicked to Rose for a moment as though he was deciding whether to tell him why they were going there. "Just tell me who robbed you and what they took and I'll go bash their skulls in. After all, it's their fault that you interrupted our - " Rose shushed Farkas by placing a finger over his luscious lips, a jolt of electricity shooting up her arm at the remembered softness of his lips against her skin.

"It's lovely to meet you, Talsgar the Wanderer. My name is Rose, and this is Farkas. We are Companions." Rose said, holding out her hand to him.

"Oh! Companions! I was hoping to hire some thugs to find my beloved amulet but here I sit, with the members of the most honourable guild of mercenaries Skyrim has ever known." he smiled warmly. "Would you like to hear a song about the Companions?"

"I don't mean to be rude, Talsgar, but...don't you want us to fetch your amulet for you?" Rose prodded.

"Oh! Forgive me, I think I must be in shock from the blow I took to the head. Can you see it, does it look bad?" Talsgar scooted closer to Rose, and tipped his head forward to show her where he had been hit.

Rose ran her fingers through his hair and found a very small bump which may or may not have been a proper bump at all, and the skin certainly wasn't broken. "It's fine. Look. Tell us about the robbery, please?"

"Ah...you know, it seems I can't quite remember. They knocked me in the head from behind you see, and I must have blacked out." Why was Talsgar acting so evasively? Rose's mind began to tick over, and she looked to Farkas to see if she could read his expression.

Farkas shrugged his shoulders and looked away, quickly losing interest in the whole thing. But Rose was beginning to form her own opinion of what had happened, and she blurted, "You didn't really get robbed, did you." Rose stated.

"Yes! Yes I did!" Talsgar's high-pitched answer was too vehement and too quick, and Rose smirked. "I told you, I was walking and someone tripped me over and took my amulet!"

"Someone tripped you, was it? I thought you said someone knocked you on the head..." she let her voice trail off as his face darkened. Farkas' attention snapped back into focus as the implications settled into his mind.

Talsgar's shoulders sagged. "Alright...you got me. Nobody robbed me, I just lost my gods forsaken amulet and I want it back." he groaned, defeated. "I fear my eyesight isn't what it used to be, and I can't find it for the life of me! My late wife gave it to me when we were young." Talsgar sounded very sad, and Rose's heart lurched.

"Alright, Talsgar. It's okay. Can you remember how long ago you saw it last?" Farkas' tone was soft and kind, all trace of anger gone. Talsgar's brows furrowed at the unexpected empathy in Farkas' tone, and Rose smiled. It wasn't often that a big scary-looking bloke like Farkas had a kind streak.

"Um...well, it actually wasn't all that long ago. I had only just realised it was missing when I ah...heard you..." Talsgar blushed again, and Farkas burst into laughter. "I'm sorry about that." Talsgar added.

"Ah, it's alright man, Rose and I have got the rest of our lives to finish what we started, and then repeat it again. And again. And ag - "

"Shut up, Farkas!" Rose said, laughing. Poor old Talsgar's mouth was flapping wordlessly, clearly beside himself with embarrassment now. "Alright. Let's all three of us go and have a look before the sun sets, we've got about half an hour."

If anyone had have stumbled on them while they were searching - on their hands and knees no less - they would have seen what a funny sight they made: an aging bard with his pack sliding up his back, the small bits and pieces falling out of it to bump him in the head; an elegant Nord woman dressed in cheap armour which was too big for her; and a huge warrior clad in steel armour with a massive Skyforge Steel greatsword strapped to his back, all frantically scrabbling among the grass and rocks to find this worthless amulet which was worth everything to the bard.

The sun dipped below the horizon, and their fading hopes took a nosedive. "It's no use." Talsgar cried, sitting back on his haunches.

Just then, a Khajiit seemingly appeared out of nowhere. "M'aiq begs to differ, friend." he purred.

"M'aiq? M'aiq the Liar?" Talsgar croaked, standing up to squint at the robed cat man.

"Would I be lying, if I said otherwise?" M'aiq said, then added: "Wait, don't answer that."

Rose chuckled, and stood to inspect the Khajiit. "So...M'aiq, is it? Do you have something to say about Talsgar's amulet?"

"Yes, this one has something to say."

"My friend, do you have my amulet?" Talsgar said, a note of desperation in his voice. M'aiq sighed, and pulled the amulet from his pocket with obvious reluctance. Talsgar all but lunged for it, swiping it with youthful dexterity to quickly drape it over his neck. "Thank you, M'aiq." Talsgar sighed, tucking the precious amulet beneath his vest. "You don't know how thankful I am."

As night made a swift approach, the small group decided to make camp for the night, together. Talsgar got a fire going, Farkas kindly erected everybody's tents, and M'aiq fetched fresh water from the stream for Rose. She used some of it to make her stew, and then filled everyone's water bottles with the rest. As they all settled down to eat their meals, M'aiq struck up conversation.

"Would you believe, friends, that M'aiq found friend Talsgar's amulet in the mouth of a sabrecat?" M'aiq said, speaking in the Khajiit-typical third person.

"No, I would not believe that." Talsgar muttered into his bowl, after a few moments of thoughtful silence.

"Or maybe it was a mudcrab. M'aiq dislikes mudcrabs, they are horrible creatures!" he said, shuddering.

"Yeah, and spiders. I hate spiders." Farkas said, throwing a leafy twig into the fire.

M'aiq regaled them with tales of his travels from Elsweyr to Solstheim, from Black Marsh to Cyrodiil. Rose grew very fond of the furry man with his quirky humour and interesting stories, and was thankful for the good belly laughs he gave them all. Talsgar backed up some of M'aiq's stories with historical fact, followed by a tune or three on his lute. Talsgar's lute and soft singing, combined with the crackling flames of the fire, lulled the campers into a subdued state. Rose settled between Farkas' legs, her back snuggled into his chest. Farkas held her close, and the warmth he emitted as well as the rumble of his voice in his chest caused her eyelids to grow heavy. Eventually, images of the day's events began to swirl and skew behind her eyelids until they were tinged with nonsense spilling from her subconscious, and she fell asleep.

The next morning Rose was woken by the sound of voices outside the tent. Talsgar and M'aiq were conversing happily, and Rose could hear the clanking of cups. She smiled, wrapped once again in Farkas' loving embrace, though this time they were both fully clothed. He carried me to bed. Her heart skipped a beat at the image of Farkas lovingly carrying her to bed and pulling her into his arms. She pressed her nose into his chest to inhale his scent, exhaling with a happy sigh. The action caused Farkas to wake up, and he threaded the fingers of one hand in her hair.

"Good morning, beautiful." he whispered, and kissed her forehead.

"Hi." she tipped her head back to look at his face, giving him her best smile. "It's so good to wake up in your arms...even if we aren't naked." she subtly pushed her knee between his knees, her grin widening when she heard his breath hitch.

"Don't tempt me now, woman." he hissed, gently pushing her hip until she was laying on her back.

"Aw, why?" she teased, springing back to throw her leg over his hip.

"Because, you don't want our respectable travel companions to hear you screaming how good it feels, do you?" he growled in a sultry tone, pressing her onto her back and settling between her legs. Rose sighed heavily and reached behind him to grab his arse cheeks, giving them a thorough squeezing. She lifted her hips and a soft moan escaped her when she felt his hardness press against her centre. Farkas grunted, and was unable to resist grinding himself against her for just a few moments. "Dibella be praised..." he said in a strangled whisper, before capturing her lips in a searing kiss.

Farkas withdrew from her after a few moments, muttering darkly under his breath about how he'd not be able to hide the bulge in his pants and how was he ever going to stop being hard around her? "Come on my darlin'o, let's go and have some breaky." Rose said, standing up. Farkas chuckled and shook his head, and quickly strapped on his armour. At least the cod-piece would hide his erection, even if it was a little uncomfortable.


The sky was darkening when the four traveling companions made it to Ivarstead. M'aiq the Liar had been wandering aimlessly until he'd happened upon them, and had since decided that he'd like to count the seven-thousand steps to High Hrothgar once again. They shared a meal together before turning in for an early night - M'aiq and Talsgar in particular were exhausted after not just the day of travel, but from having to battle not one but two giants, a cave bear and two sabrecats. Unfortunately for Rose and Farkas, the only room available contained two single-size beds - Rose and Talsgar got to sleep in one each, while Farkas and M'aiq had had to sleep in their bedrolls on the cold floor. Will Farkas and I ever get to be alone? She huffed silently.

The four of them headed off early in the morning after a light breakfast. M'aiq started off by counting the steps aloud, and by the time they reached the nine-hundredth step, Farkas was ready to throw the cat over the mountain. Rose prompted Talsgar to sing them a song, and Rose joined in, harmonising. She smiled when she heard Farkas humming along shyly, and was further pleased to hear that M'aiq had ceased his counting - at least he wasn't doing it out loud.

The rest of the trek up the seven-thousand steps was uneventful; even the weather was calm and unchanging. By the time they reached the imposing grey building of High Hrothgar, the first stars of the evening were beginning to shine in the sky. "Well, this is where we part ways." Talsgar said.

"What do you mean?" Farkas asked.

"The Greybeards don't let anybody in, unless you are the Dragonborn." he said, nodding to Rose. "This is actually the furthest I've been - I usually just get to the last Etched Tablet and then camp out for the night before turning back. But I had to see the monastery, just once." Talsgar gazed with awe at the building ahead.

"I'm sad that you're going back. It has been a pleasure meeting and traveling with you - both of you. If you're ever near Whiterun, please pop in and say hello. I have just bought a little home next to Warmaiden's - if you're ever in need of a place to stay, there will always be a bed and a warm meal for you."

After embracing their new friends, they watched them walk away until they were out of sight. A tear slid down Rose's cheek as she lost sight of them; she'd grown attached to Talsgar and M'aiq. "I hope we see them again soon." she said, her voice soft.

"We will, no doubt." Farkas held her close, and she reveled in his warmth before he gently pulled back. "Come on, let's get in before I die of starvation."

Arngeir initially wasn't very impressed about having Farkas inside the sacred monastery - especially when he ate three night's worth of rations of their food - but after hearing about Rose's experiences in Blackreach, he conceded that she needed Farkas to help support her. Arngeir was tired and ready for bed, so he showed them to the sleeping quarters, pointing to two single beds. "You may sleep here tonight, but you must leave for the summit at first light. Sleep well." he simply said, before turning on his heel and heading for his own sleeping quarters.

Once Arngeir was out of earshot, Farkas grumbled. "Thrice-damned single beds!" He removed his armour and all of his clothing except his underwear much to Rose's delight, though he slid into his bed before she could let her eyes and hands wander.

"Don't I even get a kiss goodnight?" Rose pouted. Farkas swung his legs out and leaned forward, puckering his lips in an exaggerated fashion. Rose laughed, pinching his lips. "Goodnight, cutie pie." she leaned forward too, and pressed her lips against his.

They fell asleep facing each other, the flickering candles casting a warm and comforting light over both of them. Rose woke up when the sky was still dark - all but one of the candles had finished, so she could only just barely make out Farkas' sleeping features. Very slowly, very quietly, she slipped out of her bed. She wondered if she could squeeze in next to Farkas without making him fall off the bed, and decided that the risk was well worth taking. First, she removed her clothing. All of it.

Gingerly, she lifted the blanket and slipped in. Farkas made a soft sound as his arms came around her. "What are you doing, naughty woman?" He whispered, pressing his hips forward.

Rose felt him grow hard against her, causing her already-simmering desire to flare to a blaze. "I want you." she whispered huskily as she slowly drew her thigh up his leg. His muscled, hairy leg felt incredible against her inner thigh, adding to her burning lust. Farkas gripped the hair at the back of her head to hold her head in place as he thrust his tongue none-too-gently into her mouth. He kissed her hungrily as his other hand clutched her arse, to press her heat hard against his now-raging desire.

He manoeuvred them so that he was above her, and he resumed his kiss as he settled between her legs. Rose wrapped her legs around his hips and ground herself against his clothed shaft, causing him to groan hoarsely against her lips. "We shouldn't be doing this here in this sacred place." he whispered, though he didn't stop pressing himself against her.

"I know...but I can't wait any longer..." she whimpered, pulling his undies down to get at his hardness.

"We will have to be very quiet." he said, and Rose could make out the twinkle in his eyes. Farkas reached between them to guide himself to her entrance, and when his tip touched her sensitive flesh, she wondered briefly whether he had secretly learned a spark spell and applied it to his cock. He drew his tip between her folds, rubbing her hardened nub for a moment. "Gods...you're sooo wet for me..." he whispered saucily against her lips.

"Stop teasing me." she scolded, playfully slapping his arse cheek.

"You're lucky that we are where we are, because it means I have to be gentle with you. But if you keep being cheeky, I'm going to have to punish you for it later." and with that, he pushed into her tight heat. "Aanghh..." he growled softly, his eyes rolling back into his head.

"Farkas..." she gasped, gripping him tightly with arms and legs. "Oh...Fa - " He silenced her soft moaning of his name with a biting kiss - he nibbled at her lips, her jaw, her neck and back up to her lips, and when she pushed her tongue into his mouth, he drew it softly between his teeth. She chuckled softly at the weird feeling it gave. They held each other tightly, chests and lips pressed together as they began a slow and steady pace. The way he felt inside her brought tears to her eyes; he was big, but she was well lubricated. Each movement he made rubbed against every pleasure-spot inside her and the deeper he thrust, the closer she came to her zenith. His lips never left her skin, except to murmur loving things to her.

The heady emotion that she felt inside herself were mirrored in his eyes, and she almost felt as though she could hear his thoughts. Every nerve thrummed with sexual and passionate energy, until she couldn't tell where she ended and he began. They moved as one; feeling, seeing and hearing, knowing each other as only soul-mates can. Rose never wanted it to end; never wanted them to be apart. The love she felt for him encased him in its healing glow, and he felt it.

Farkas felt like crying - the woman he loved was in his arms, her warmth wrapped around him in more ways than one. He couldn't stop kissing her; she looked so beautiful, so perfect. Her green eyes shone with tears of love, her nostrils flaring with overwhelming feelings. The way her lips remained parted even when he wasn't kissing her, little sounds of pleasure that managed to escape...all because of him. All because she loved him, and he loved her. His heart hurt in his chest, and he knew that it was time to say what he had always wanted to say to her before his heart couldn't take it any more.

"Rose," he whispered, gently stroking her cheek. He slowed his movements until he was almost still inside of her. He already had her attention, but now she knew he was going to speak. "Rose...I want...I want you to know that I love you." his voice faltered; dangerously close to tears.

"Oh Farkas...I love you too," she placed a quick, sloppy kiss on his lips, "I always have. I've always loved you." her tears spilled freely down her cheeks now, coming in great floods. "I willalways love you."

"Gods...I have never really loved a woman before, not like I love you." he said, withdrawing his hips only to slam back inside of her again. She gasped and bit her lip to stifle the cry of pleasure she wanted to utter. "I have an Amulet of Mara in my pack." he was grinning now; relief and joy at having said those three little words now bolstering him.

"Is that a fact?" she smiled. Her smile caused the tightening to begin in his balls; his end was swiftly approaching.

"Yeah." He reached between them to rub her bud, propping himself up on one elbow so that he could increase the speed of both his hips and his fingers. Rose moaned huskily as her steadily approaching climax jumped closer, and Farkas felt her walls tightening around him. "Sh-shit..." he huffed, as the pleasure became too much.

The way his eyebrows knotted together, and the way his shapely lips were parted tipped Rose over the edge. She bucked her hips involuntarily as she came, her teeth sinking into the meat of his shoulder to stifle her shout of pleasure. He made soft little grunts as his hips began to jerk irregularly, his seed shooting far into her. He buried his face in her neck as blinding sensation-overload took over him, and he began to tremble. He'd never trembled after sex before; this was the most intense orgasm he'd ever experienced, and not just because the woman under him was the sexiest woman he'd ever seen, but because she was the only woman he'd loved more than life. He lifted his face to look on his beautiful Rose, rubbing the tip of his nose against hers.

"I love you." he said, "and I hope you don't mind but...I'm gonna tell you that every five minutes, to make up for lost time." he said, panting.

Rose chuckled, and stroked the sweaty skin of his back. "I love you as well, and I don't mind if you say it all the time." She was tingling from head to toe, cocooned in his warmth and their shared blissful afterglow.

"On one condition." he said, stroking her cheek affectionately.

"Mmm?"

"You marry me." He was grinning from ear-to-ear, for he already knew her answer.

"You have to marry me too, though!" she quipped, and he laughed softly. It took everything she had to contain her excitement - they had to be very careful here in High Hrothgar; if one of the Greybeards walked in and saw them in their current state, they'd no doubt be kicked out and made very unwelcome.

"Yes, you dag, I'll marry you too." he said softly, his voice full of warmth and love. "Let's get this scroll thing over and done with, then head back to Jorrvaskr and sort...'her'...out, and then we'll go to Riften. What do you say?"

"It's a deal!" she squeaked.


There you have it. I hoped you liked their get-together - reviews are very welcome, please! In the next chapter, they will head back to Whiterun to deal with Njada. Mwahaha. :)

Chapter Text

Ahhh, finally! A NEW chapter. Or TWO, even (I had to break this into two chapters, because it was over 11,000 words)! I'm sorry it has been a while since my last update - the last six weeks have been extremely traumatic for my family and I, and my heart hasn't felt like writing. I have been thinking a lot about this story though, and I have been wanting to write, it's just a bit slow because my mojo has shriveled up temporarily. Anyway, I've been doing a sentence here and a sentence there, so it has taken me a long time. I hope you enjoy these two chapters, and please let me know what you thought! :)

A couple of things about these chapters: while there is a little spoiler coming up, I have changed it a fair bit to suit the story. Last but not least, I must warn you that there is mentions of some child abuse (not sexual) and self-harm.

Njada sat cross-legged on her filthy pallet, staring between the bars of her cell into the hallway beyond. She had been in there for about a week, though she couldn't be entirely sure; without windows to look through to help her tell the time, each day ran into the next. Her sleeping patterns became erratic - she'd sleep for three or four hours and then she'd sit there, awake, for a longer chunk of time. Sometimes she'd have little naps, and other times she wouldn't sleep at all. She began to realise why people went mad when locked up like this - she had nobody to talk to, no windows to look out of, and absolutely nothing to do at all. Sometimes she'd pace, sometimes she'd exercise. Other times, she would just lie or sit on her bed as she was now, just staring. It was getting to the point where she wanted to die - anything was better than this - this limbo, this nothingness.

As she sat contemplating, she thought she imagined hearing a familiar female voice coming from the stairs. "...to take her a few things from home, that's all..." she heard the voice say.

"No, not at all. She's in jail, not on holiday!" was the guard's cranky response.

"I am aware of that, thank you. Keep in mind, she was once a Companion. Let me in." Ria's voice took on an authoritarian tone, one that she never often used as she was usually such a gentle and submissive soul. But when she did use that tone of voice, people jumped to do her bidding.

"Very well, Companion. However - I am going to require that I search your person for anything that may help her to escape."

"Really? Come on...well alright, I'll go along with it this time." came Ria's cheeky response. Njada could just picture Ria smirking as she humoured the guard. A few moments later, she heard a slap, followed by a manly yelp of surprise. "There was no need for you to squeeze my bum like that! Do it again and you'll be the one sitting in a cell!" Ria growled. Clearly, the guard was clever enough not to make a comment.

A few more minutes passed, and Njada could hear approaching footsteps and the jingle of keys. She pressed her face against the bars to try to see up the hallway as the barred door to the cells was unlocked.

"There you go, miss. Any funny business and there'll be problems. Got it?"

"Yeah, yeah. Begone." Ria didn't grace the guard with a look as she strode away from him, towards Njada.

Njada was so happy to see a familiar face, but she was embarrassed by her state. She was dirty and smelly, and her skin was beginning to hang loosely from her bones. "What do you want, Ria?" Njada tried to sound like her usual snarky self, but her little-used voice only came out as a croaky, shaky whisper.

"I brought your deck of cards from your bedside table, as well as a couple of books." Ria said, passing them through the bars. She lowered her voice to a whisper, and added: "I also brought you in some fruit and bread, and a honey nut treat." she winked, and Njada couldn't suppress the smile forming.

"Oh Ria...you have always been so nice to me." Njada whispered, holding the items reverently in her hands. "I can't thank you enough." as much as she tried, she couldn't control the tears that began to slip from her eyes.

"It's alright, Njada. It's not very nice being locked up in here." Ria said, reaching through the bars to squeeze Njada's shoulder.

"I deserve it, though. I fucked up so badly." Njada cried, turning to place the items carefully on the bed.

"Well...you did a very bad thing, Njada. You are lucky that you didn't get put to death." Ria said, not unkindly.

"Is Farkas alright?" Njada whispered, eyes downcast.

"Yes, he's fine. He and Vilkas left to find Rose and bring her home, but they haven't yet returned."

"Oh gods...I hope they're alright. If anything happens to them, it'll be my fault..." Njada lost control then, falling to her knees as the sobs overtook her body.

Ria stood and watched her, letting her get it all out. Ria knew that Njada wasn't a bad person deep down - she believed that Njada was a deeply troubled person who needed help; someone who needed to know that there were people that cared about her - people that would put themselves out to help her. Ria could tell that Njada's remorse was real. It was obvious to her that her time in prison had given her plenty of opportunity to reflect on her actions, and the consequences of her actions. If Njada's soul was truly corrupt, she wouldn't be showing any remorse.

After a few minutes, Njada's sobs began to die down. "You've always been good to me, Ria. I was horrible to you when you first joined the Companions, but you just let it wash over you. You're the only person who seems to understand me." she whispered.

"Shh...come now. Let's have a game of cards and you can eat some of that food."


Farkas and Rose snuggled close for a long while, stroking each other lovingly and listening to each other's breathing and heartbeats. He could have stayed like that forever, despite the fact that the stone bed was small and uncomfortable. However, he knew they had to get up very soon - he could sense the approach of dawn, and shortly, he sensed Arngeir moving about.

"Arngeir comes." Farkas whispered. Rose shot out of bed like someone had put an arrow up her bum, and Farkas sniggered.

They dressed hurriedly, and made their beds. They met Arngeir in the main foyer, and after exchanging polite pleasantries, they embarked on their trek up to the top of the mountain. Farkas was both nervous and excited at the prospect of meeting a dragon for the first time - he knew this dragon was supposed to be the friendly boss of the Greybeards, but he was a bit wary just the same.

He shouldered his pack, in which he'd crammed Rose's smaller pack which contained all but the Elder Scroll which Rose carried - and followed Rose upwards. Soon, however, they were blocked by a strange wall of...weather? He couldn't find a good enough term to describe what he was seeing. It was a wall of weather than contained rapidly swirling particles of ice, which would no doubt cause at least serious injury if Farkas and Rose attempted to breach. It was obviously a ward, to stop people from gaining the summit. "What are we going to do, now?" Farkas said.

"Watch this." Rose said, smirking as she braced herself. "LOK...VAH, KOOR!" she Shouted.

Farkas heard something that sounded like a crack of thunder in her Shout and the ground rumbled slightly, causing him to waver on his feet. The sound of her Voice seemed to penetrate his insides, and his guts squirmed. He swore under his breath as he collected himself, and then watched in amazement as the weather wall in front of him disintegrated. "Wow." he said.

"Cool, hey?" she said, skipping ahead happily. Farkas barked out a laugh, and followed after her.

This Shouting went on all the way to the top of the mountain. By then, the usually-stoic and calm Farkas was frazzled and jittery, his eyes wide and guts feeling a little bit weak. "Crikey, Rose! I hope that's gonna be the last Sh - " his words died in his throat as they rounded the final bend. Paarthurnax sat perched in his favourite spot atop the Word Wall, contemplating the things that ancient dragons contemplate. Farkas stopped dead in his tracks, and Rose could see his Adam's Apple going up and down.

"It's okay, my love. He won't bite - this is Paarthurnax." Rose whispered, putting her hand on his shoulder.

"Yeah, I know. No, I'm not scared. Nope!" he gathered his courage, and pushed on. Farkas wasn't one to let fear overrule his other emotions - he was curious, after all, to hear what things a friendly dragon went on about. He looked at Rose to find her grinning widely at him. "What are you smilin' at, ratbag?" he growled playfully.

"Nothing. I'm just proud of my brave warrior." she said, her green eyes twinkling with love.

They held hands as they approached the ancient Master of the Greybeards. Paarthurnax lowered his head, tilting it subtly to the side. It was almost a canine gesture, and Rose had to suppress and smirk. How cute, she thought.

"Drem yol lok, dovahkiin, welcome! You have brought a fahdon, a friend!" he boomed, his strong-scented breath washing over the humans.

"Hi, Paarthurnax! Nice to see you. This is Farkas, the man who has my heart." she smiled, squeezing Farkas' hand. She glanced at Farkas - his mouth was open in a mixture of excitement and awe, but she sensed no fear in him.

"I am happy for you, briinah. You must be a fine soul to be worthy of our dovahkiin." He turned his gaze to Rose, who was now holding the Scroll out for him to see. "You have it. The Kel - the Elder Scroll. Tiid kreh...qalos. Time shudders at its touch." Paarthurnax blew out a puff of warm air, accompanied by what could have been a sigh of regret. "Go then. Fulfill your destiny. Take the Scroll to the Time-Wound." he said, his voice soft and full of trepidation.

Rose didn't need to ask where the Time-Wound was - she gazed a few metres over to the left, to the faint shimmering in the air that had been nagging at her peripheral vision. A sharp pang of apprehension washed over her, and she took a few deeps breaths to calm herself. "Alright. Here I go. I wonder what's going to happen, and whether I'll learn this bloody Shout." she mumbled, gripping the Elder Scroll in her hands.

"Rose..." Farkas pulled her into his arms. "Whatever happens, keep your wits about you." he kissed her hair, and then he released her.

They gazed silently at each other for a few moments, before Rose nodded once and turned away. She strode purposefully towards the Time-Wound; she knew she was in the right position when she felt a strange tugging in her solar plexus. Energy seemed to ripple around and through her, and as she unraveled the Elder Scroll that rippling energy seemed to intensify, until her vision began to blur. She glanced over to where Paarthurnax and Farkas were, her eyes widening as they seemed to blink in and out of existence. She knew that it was an illusion - they were still there where she'd left them.

She continued to stare at the Word Wall, gaping in amazement as the cloudy, grey sky took on hues of purple and red. Smoke seemed to fill the sky, and she could hear the disembodied voices of dragons and people yelling, screaming. Gradually, the owners of the voices faded into view, though their forms appeared ethereal.


Farkas had seen many strange and horrifying things in his life as a Companion - he had seen necromancers raising the dead; a fallen comrade's lifeless eyes staring blankly at him as they were resurrected, commanded to secure his death. He had seen mages turning themselves invisible, he had seen vampires attempting to suck the life out of his brother, and he had seen giants stomping on men bigger than him to crush them to a pulp in an instant. But never before had he seen someone trapped between the present and the past. Her eyes were wide open, and moving from side to side as though she was watching a scene of some sort. Her mouth formed an 'O' of surprise as she witness something seemingly amazing or terrible. There was a definite excited tension in the air - Farkas' wolf senses picked it up easily. He could also make out faint traces of fear, and when she flinched, Farkas made to rush to her side.

"Leave her be, fahdon. Nothing can hurt her." Paarthurnax said, halting Farkas with his booming voice.

Farkas exhaled and remained in place, watching on as Rose witnessed Gormlaith Golden-Hilt, Hakon One-Eye and Felldir the Old battle first one dragon, and then the World-Eater himself, Alduin. Farkas saw Rose's facial expression change from one of riveted amazement to intense concentration, to a calm understanding. Her form seemed to become more corporeal, and she smiled at Farkas.

"I know Dragonrend!" she shouted, as she excitedly rolled up the Elder Scroll.

Her happiness was short-lived, however - they heard the deafening roar of a very close-by dragon. A massive black dragon, whose wings carried him into view behind Paarthurnax.

"Bahloki nahkip sillesejoor. My belly is full of the souls of your fellow mortals, Dovahkiin!" Alduin bellowed, his freakishly deep voice making the insides of both humans vibrate. "Die now and await your fate in Sovngarde!" The World-Eater flapped his great black wings with more force, carrying himself higher up into the air to circle his opponents.

"Lost funt. You are too late, Alduin!" Paarthurnax shouted. "Dovahkiin! Use Dragonrend, if you know it!" Paarthurnax took to the sky in pursuit of his ancient foe, shouting at Rose all the while, to use her new Shout.

But Rose's first thought was for Farkas; this was no place for him - no place for those not accustomed to the powers a dragon wields. "Farkas! Run! You must go!" she screamed, her arms waving frantically.

"Not on your life, Dragonborn! I'm with you!" he ran to her side, his Skyforge steel greatsword poised and ready.

"It's too dangerous! You'll get hurt!" she cried, desperately trying to shove him away. But his feet were firmly planted - and so was his will. When Farkas was adamant about something, he would not be swayed. He ignored her pleas, and studied the black dragon with grim determination. Her heart was filled with fear for him - she knew he was a very capable warrior, but against Alduin himself? No human stood a chance, maybe not even her.

And when flaming balls of rock began crashing into the earth around them, her fear was mirrored on Farkas' face. Still, he would not abandon her. The fear on his face was quickly replaced by something fierce, feral. She screamed at him again to go, leave, hide - but her cries fell on deaf ears. Farkas sheathed his sword in favour of his bow, immediately nocking an arrow and shooting it at the World-Eater. The arrow seemed to have no effect - Rose drew the crappy wooden hunting bow she'd found and had a go at shooting the great big beast too, but her arrows also caused no damage. Even Paarthurnax's Shouts didn't seem to affect him.

When a fireball came within inches of Farkas, she took action immediately and Shouted, "LOK...VAH, KOOR!". Alduin's fireballs dissolved into little puffs of smoke, and within a minute, they were all cleared up.

An enraged Alduin roared a challenge, "Ruth wah nivarhiin joor!" and she was spurred into action. The new Words she had learned from the three ancient heroes rang through her mind. Joor Zah Frul. Mortal, finite, temporary.

"JOOR...ZAH, FRUL!" Rose Shouted, her eyes widening in amazement as a blue haze enveloped the great black dragon. The light somehow seemed heavy, causing Alduin's wings to become leaden. He screamed in disbelief and frustration as he was forced to land, and Rose laughed gleefully. "Not so tough now are you, snake?"

Emboldened, Rose and Farkas slashed and hacked at Alduin. Rose continued to use Dragonrend, to make sure he stayed grounded as they overpowered him. Paarthurnax yelled words of encouragement at the couple, further bolstering their confidence. We are battling the World-Eater himself! Rose thought, feeling an exhilarating blend of triumph and terror as they battled the Firstborn of Akatosh.

Farkas' limbs felt leaden as he used power-attack after power-attack with seemingly little effect on Alduin. Eventually, he did notice that the dragon was slowly succumbing to defeat, and that gave his muscles a bit of extra strength to end the battle. He could hear Rose using her Shouts as she flurried and slashed with the dual swords they'd picked up on their travels, pride and love fueling his strikes all the more. He had a brief moment to admire how her fighting skills had improved - not that she wasn't already skilled when he'd first met her, but now? She was positively deadly. Farkas' beast spirit sang with approval for his mate - not only was she great company for him in so many ways, she was also fierce in battle.

"Meyz mul, Dovahkiin. You have become strong." boomed Alduin, his head bowing in acknowledgment and grudging respect. But this was not a true defeat, not by any stretch of the imagination. "But I am Al-du-in, Firstborn of Akatosh! Mulaagi zok lot! I cannot be slain here by you, or anyone else!"

"I will find a way, Alduin. I will end you!" Rose shouted.

"You cannot prevail against me. I will outlast you...mortal!" Alduin backed away from them, and for a moment, it seemed as though he would fly away. Almost as an afterthought, Alduin turned himself around so that he was facing the opposite way. Without warning, his massive barbed tail swished sideways, its sharp barbs impaling Farkas and sending him flying into the air.

"Farkas!" Rose screamed as she ran to the spot where she saw Farkas' body land. She didn't notice Alduin's menacing laugh as he flew away, nor did she notice Paarthurnax settling on the ground beside Farkas' limp form. "No..." she sobbed as she fell to her knees beside her beloved werewolf, his blood staining the snow around him. She pressed her fingers to his neck to feel for a pulse, and she felt an immense surge of relief to see that he was still alive.

His wounds were grievous - she hurriedly unbuckled his cuirass, stifling a cry of dismay to see that the barbs of Alduin's tail had somehow melted the steel and hide into Farkas' side. Parts of his undershirt were also attached to the melted material; the cotton would be fused with the exposed tissue underneath and removing it would be extremely painful. "Sweetheart, this is going to hurt, I'm sorry. I'm going to cast a healing spell on you as soon as I have gotten all this crap out of your side, alright? Be strong." Farkas' eyes fluttered and he tried to speak, but when she began to peel material out of his wounds, his lips pulled back into a rictus of pain around clenched teeth, his body going rigid. "I'm sorry my love." she whispered, working quickly.

Peeling his melted armour from his wounds caused him to bleed so much more heavily, and she knew every second was crucial. She wouldn't be able to heal the wound until all or most of the material was removed, but if she took too long, he would bleed to death. Every now and then her eyes would flick to his face, and each time, his face looked paler. Eventually, the pain became too much to bear and mercifully, he passed out. Thankfully, it didn't take much longer for Rose to clean out the wounds as best as she could, and she sighed with relief. Finally, she called forth the healing spell she'd learned from Faralda. She felt warmth welling from within her being; the warmth traveled outwards from her solar plexus, down her arms and into her hands.

Motherly, healing hands glided close above the mess that Alduin had made, and she pictured the work that the golden magic was doing. First, she imagined her healing warmth stemming the flow of blood. Next, she pictured the shattered bones of his ribs undergoing the process of ossification - osteoclasts and osteoblasts working together to remodel the bones, the process enhanced and sped up by her healing spell. When his ribs were back to the way they were supposed to be, she imagined muscle tissue miraculously knitting together, and collagen fibres building new scar tissue to replace small amounts of muscle which couldn't be repaired. She watched through her mind's eye as immune cells worked together to purge his system of any remaining foreign material, further enhancing the speed with which her spell worked.

Finally, her work was done. She pulled Farkas into her arms, wrapping her arms around him to keep him warm. "Wake up, love. You'll be alright now." she soothed, stroking his hair. Gods, how she loved him so. The reality of it sank in then - her heart ached with guilt for the agony she caused when she had peeled the debris away from his rent flesh; the image of his facial expression would stay in her mind forever. Though she knew she'd done what she had to to save him, she felt that had she convinced him to flee, this wouldn't have happened. She never wanted to see that pain on his face ever again. Beside them, Paarthurnax guarded, patient and watchful. His big body sheltered them from the wind, and his warm breath was welcome, even if it was a bit stinky.

Slowly, Farkas' eyes began to open. A small smile tugged at the corners of his lips, and she chuckled with wonder at how he could be smiling when he had been in so much pain. He began to whisper to her, and she leaned her head down to hear him better. "...beautiful." she caught.

"Hmmm?" she smiled.

"You are beautiful, I said." his voice was a little stronger now. He reached up to curl his fingers around the back of her neck, gently pulling her face to his to graze his lips against hers. "I love you, woman."

"Oh Farkas...I'm sorry I hurt you. I love you, too!" tears of happiness plopped out of her eyes and onto his eyes, and the way he flinched made her laugh. "By Shor, you're such a cutie!"

"Come on, it's bloody freezing up here." Farkas was becoming stronger by the moment, much to Rose's delight. "Who's idea was it to leave our packs containing nice warm blankies back at High Hrothgar?" he grumbled.

"Hmm, that'd be your fault then!" she laughed. "Just cuddle me and you'll get warm!"

"Yes Mum." Thank the gods for Nord blood!

They turned to Paarthurnax - polite as always, he'd waited for a chance to speak. "Lot krongrah. You truly have the voice of a dovah. Alduin's allies will think twice after this victory." he said.

"I wouldn't call it a victory, friend. He flew away and nearly killed Farkas!"

"Nih liivrah hin moro. True, this is not the final kongrah - victory. But not even the heroes of old were able to defeat Alduin in open battle."

They conversed for some time - Paarthurnax talked slowly and at length, and though Farkas' teeth were chattering from the cold air on the peak of the highest mountain in Skyrim, they had no choice but to respect the old dragon and wait for him to finish speaking. When they finally began to descend the mountain, Rose had a new goal - to somehow, somehow, lure a dragon into the cavernous hold atop Dragonsreach. Paarthurnax had hinted that dragons are prideful creatures by nature, and that if she were to learn the name of a dragon and call his name, said dragon wouldn't be able to resist the challenge.

"How in oblivion am I going to accomplish this?" Rose sighed. The thought of trapping a dragon of all things - especially after fighting Alduin and almost losing Farkas - was a wee bit overwhelming.

Farkas, calm as always, squeezed her hand. "Don't worry my love, Arngeir will be able to help, I'm sure."

"I hope so."

The sun was beginning to slip behind the horizon when the duo made it back to High Hrothgar. Rose could hear Farkas' stomach rumbling over the noise of the wind, and when they passed through the great iron doors into the silence of the main foyer, the rumbles almost seemed to echo off the stone walls. Rose laughed, and slapped Farkas playfully in the guts.

"Hey! If you're not careful, I'll be eating you for dinner." he growled.

"Well I wouldn't mind that at all." she said, picturing Farkas right where she wanted him.

"Hmm, dinner. Right. You do realise we're going down the seven thousand steps tonight, and straight into a room at Ivarstead?" he said, grabbing a handful of her arse.

"You're the boss." she croaked, as spears of desire shot through her.

Just then, a polite cough sounded from the hallway. Rose and Farkas stopped in their tracks and turned to the sound, to see Arngeir approaching.

"Well? How did it go?" he said.

Rose explained the events in great detail to the old man, missing nothing. Arngeir listened silently, nodding his head all the while. Farkas wondered when the nodding would stop, because it was making him feel slightly disoriented. When Rose finally finished her story, Arngeir nodded a few more times as if deep in thought, then he spoke.

"We Greybeards don't associate ourselves with the lore of dragons - we only study their Shouts, as you know. However, you are in luck. While you were with Paarthurnax, I discovered a letter in the deliveries chest out the front." He looked puzzled for a moment, and scratched his chin thoughtfully before continuing: "Hmph, Klimmek must have left it in there when he last made a delivery. Anyway, the letter is from your friend Esbern. He has been carefully studying the many ancient text books found in Skyhaven Temple's vast library, and in one of the books, some Blades have written down the names of the dragons they slew."

"Really? Did he say wh - "

Arngeir held up a hand to forestall her barrage of questions. "He also states that he has identified one of the dragons that Alduin has raised up."

"By the gods...what timing! I can't believe it!" Rose laughed. "He must have sent the letter knowing I'd be here! Does it say the name of the dragon?"

Arngeir fumbled in his robes for the letter, and pressed it into her hands. "I won't say it out loud. Keep this letter - it is for you, anyway."

Od-Ah-Viing, Winged Snow Hunter. So if I just Shout his name, I can lure him into the trap at Dragonsreach, provided Jarl Balgruuf agrees...Rose mused.

"Thank you, Arngeir. Thank you for everything!" she pulled the old fellow into a cuddle, chuckling at the way he stiffened in her arms. The old bloke probably hadn't felt the touch of a woman in...well, probably never.

After Rose and Farkas partook of some water, they fetched their packs and bade the Greybeards farewell. Farkas was eager to replace his broken armour, but moreover, he was eager to get Rose into a room at the inn and get them both out of their armour. Rose was eager to get Farkas alone too, though not just for some much needed intimacy. She needed to tell him about her family, and about the Thalmor that killed them. Farkas deserved to know everything about her - if he was going to love her, he was going to love her for not just herself but for the parts of her past that made her into the woman she now was. She had told not a soul about the loss of her family - she had never had cause to want to share, until now.

Farkas, despite the fact that the night was dark and the rain heavy, yapped away happily all the way down the mountain - his happiness was overflowing, and despite her anxiousness at the prospect of baring her soul, his mood was contagious. Rose was confident that Farkas would accept all that she had to say with calm understanding, just as she knew that once she had told him all that she needed to tell him, she would feel cleansed.

At nearly two-thirty in the morning when the saturated pair arrived at the Vilemyr Inn in Ivarstead. Wilhelm tried to sound cheery and brushed off their apologies for waking him, but the puffiness around his eyes suggested he'd been having a much needed sleep. He showed them to their room, and told them to help themselves to any food they wanted.

Once Wilhelm was gone, Farkas pounced. He kicked the door shut and pressed Rose against it, clutching her hair in both fists as he thrust his tongue into her mouth. Molten sparks ignited in Rose's lower abdomen, lighting every nerve cell. She whimpered huskily into his mouth as lust took hold of her, and she struggled to remember why she wanted to talk before doing anything else. Hurriedly, Farkas unbuckled her armour and pushed the offending garments away from her cold and clammy skin. His mouth and tongue made their way down her neck to her collarbone, distracting her and crumbling her resolve. Sex first, talk later, she decided with a happy sigh. She removed his armour with the same desperation as he had shown, eager to see and feel his beautiful body against hers.

A strange tension rippled through his body when she hooked her legs around his hips, and then he plunged into her like a man starved, his kisses rough and interspersed with bites and nips that sometimes felt too sharp to be made by human teeth. He began with deep, hard thrusts that left her gasping with shock - in a matter of seconds he had brought her to into a hyper-sensitive state of throbbing arousal, so very close to the edge. The suddenness with which her climax approached made her lips feel numb and her eyes roll back. Farkas chuckled, a deep and rough sound that sent shivers down her spine. She dug her nails into his back as he increased his speed, able to do naught but cling to him as he pounded into her. When Farkas pulled his face back to look at her, the way his lips were curled back to reveal slightly pointed canines, and the way his eyes shone amber sent a jolt of electricity straight to her core. She couldn't contain the cry of ecstasy as her orgasm tore through her with a violence that bordered on painful.

Farkas could feel his beastblood boiling in his veins; the wolf spirit howling for him to claim her properly. Though he knew Rose loved him and accepted his lycanthropy, he wasn't about to transform while making love with her; Dragonborn though she may be, he didn't want to hurt her. He fought with all of his stubborn, strong will to reign his beast in, though it became considerably more difficult when he noticed that she climaxed upon seeing the beginnings of transformation. The way her sheathe contracted strongly around him mercifully brought forth his own climax. He panted hoarsely into her neck as he came, giving a few more erratic thrusts before his knees all but gave way. Sweat poured from him, mingling with the droplets of rain that fell from his hair. He carefully carried Rose to the bed and lay her down, collapsing beside her.

"Wow, Farkas...that was hot." Rose breathed, wrapping her arms around his shoulders as he rested his head on her chest. "Gods...am I a lucky woman or wh - "

"Rose, you might think that being fucked by a werewolf is fun, but what if I lost control? I might've hurt you!" he growled, lifting his face in time to see a hurt expression cross her face. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to snap at you. It's just...this has never happened to me before. Before you came along, all my wolf spirit cared about was hunting sheep. But now that I've found my mate...well, I suppose it's only natural for this to happen..." he let his voice trail off and put his head down on her chest again.

"It's alright, Farkas. We are meant to be together, and if you feel like you want to transform...I know you wouldn't hurt me because I'm your mate, your love. Besides...if you didhurt me, I'd use my Unrelenting Force Shout on you!" she joked, stroking his back soothingly.

"I don't know, Rose..." Though it was clear she didn't mind it at all, and she was indeed strong enough to handle a bit of rough sex, he knew how powerful he could be - even partially transformed. I'll have to get her to tie me up on the full moon, he thought. The image of being tied up by Rose as she had her way with him entered his mind, and he found that idea surprisingly erotic. He smiled wryly to himself. "I just don't want to hurt you by accident."

The day's events caught up to her, and exhaustion swept over her, all encompassing. "Look. Let's not talk about that now. I want to speak to you about something else, but alas...I can't seem to keep my eyes open." she yawned.

"Okay, my love. Go to sleep. I love you." he kissed her lips softly before returning his head to her chest, content to let her hold him this way for a change.

"Goodnight, my darling. I love you, too."

When Rose woke up the next morning, Farkas was snoring softly against her neck. She could feel moisture where his mouth was pressed against her skin, and she stifled a giggle.He's drooling. His arm was draped across her stomach, and the other was tucked underneath him somewhere. She hoped that he didn't wake up with a numb arm. Farkas seemed to sense her wakefulness, and shortly opened his eyes.

They spent some time enjoying the warmth of each other's arms and making sleepy, tender love. "Shor's bones...I really really need a good bath! I can't believe I still haven't had one!" Rose said, afterwards.

Farkas laughed and told her that yes, she was stinky, but he didn't care. "I stink too! And my beard is getting too fluffy and scratchy." He rubbed his fingertips through his beard, giving his chin a scratch. "You know, there are plenty of places that we can bathe on our way back to Whiterun. I'm gonna wash your back and your hair, and then I'm gonna spend some time washing you...down here." He traced his fingertip downwards, but when he arrived at her short and curlies, Rose slapped his hand away with a laugh.

"Mmm...I do like the sound of that. For now, though, let's get some food and then hang out in here. There are some important things I need to tell you..."

"What about?" he said, his tone soft and serious now.

"Let's get some breakfast first." she reiterated, before slipping out of bed and getting dressed.

Half an hour later, they were back in their room with their breakfast. Farkas didn't press her, but Rose could tell he was concerned and awaiting her story by the way his brows furrowed with worry. She took a deep breath, and began her tale.

Farkas sat patiently through the story without interrupting her. His expression was full of sorrow and care, and the way his fingers gently caressed her added to the comfort his presence gave. Tears threatened to spill from his own eyes as he processed her words, and he found his love for her step up another notch. He never thought it was possible to love her more than he already did, but he was proved wrong at every turn. Her strength of spirit and her ability to endure bowled him over, and his heart lurched at the thought of the pain she must feel at having lost not just her parents, but her tiny baby as well. I don't think I could survive if I lost a child, he thought.

She broke down and cried several times during her tale - voicing her trauma for the first time was exceedingly painful for her, causing a raw soreness in every fibre of her being. A variety of emotions and memories cascaded through her as she spoke - her parents comforting her when she was hurt, her mother singing in their cute little kitchen, her father working in their colourful garden; memories of little Harald as he snuggled into Rose's arms after his birth; and memories of all of that burning to the ground.

And though it hurt her deeply to speak all this aloud, it was also healing. As she spoke, she could feel a sense of warmth and peace chasing away the ache in her heart. She would never forget and she would always feel sadness, but she would at least now be able to revisit her memories and allow herself to grieve. Farkas would be right there beside her as her rock, unwavering and constant.

"They are in Sovngarde now." Farkas said, tightening his hold on her. "And you know that for a fact." That knowledge should have been comforting to her - it should have been a comfort to all who had lost loved ones - but Alduin had found a way to Sovngarde where he feasted on the souls of the dead to replenish his strength.

"All the more reason for me to defeat Alduin, before he feasts on their souls."


After Ria had left, Njada should have felt better, but she did not. She felt worse than ever, and her shame and guilt knew no bounds. How could anyone still give a shit about me? I'm nothing but a horrible bitch and I deserve no pity, she thought. Ria had been the only person - despite Njada's initial nastiness towards her - to befriend her, and treat her the same as she treated everyone else. She took no notice of Njada's viper tongue, and she saw past the scowl to the frightened little girl underneath. Ria was naturally kind and sweet, much like Rose, she mused. She'd never really admitted that fact to herself before, but it was now startlingly clear.

So why had she taken an instant dislike to Rose as opposed to Ria? She figured it had nothing to do with Rose's personality, not really. It was because she had sensed an instant attraction between Rose and Farkas, and she'd been jealous. She had noticed the way Farkas opened up in front of Rose, and he'd never opened up in front of Njada or Ria, for that matter. Rose was the only other person apart from the other Circle members to whom Farkas acted so familiar with, and it cut Njada to the core. Conflicting emotions warred within her; hate for the woman who destroyed any hope of having Farkas to herself, hate for the man who never gave her a chance; and guilt for almost killing him, shame for the act which got her kicked out of the only home she knew, shame for the disgust she saw on Kodlak and Skjor's faces, and a good measure of self-pity.

They hate me, just like my mother did. Njada's mother had been extremely unkind to her, for as long as she could remember. Her mother would scream at her for the smallest of mistakes - she'd threaten to send her away, telling her that she was a horrible little girl, and that the only place suitable for her was a place where naughty children were punished. Her mother's angry, red-blotched face appeared in her mind - it was an image that she had refused for many years. And here it was now, back to haunt her and remind her how unworthy she was.

**"You're nothing, Njada. You'll never be anything." her mother screamed, her face inches from Njada's snot-streaked face. "Go and clean yourself up, and stop sooking! You'repathetic!"

Njada ran from her mother to quickly find a cloth with which to clean her face, before her mother unleashed more of her wrath. The first thing she picked up was a white doily, and as she began to wipe the green, slimy snots from her nose, she realised too late that it was a sentimental doily that her grandmother had made. Dread filled her to the brim as the colour left her face, and she stuffed the doily into her pocket before her mother noticed.

"Have you washed your face yet?" her mother squealed.

"Yes, Mother."

"Come and let me see." Her mother was standing there with her arms outstretched; a parody of a mother who wanted to hold her child. "Hmm. That'll do, I suppose. Be a good girl and - oh, what's this?" Her mother said, reaching into Njada's pocket. A corner of the damned doily was poking out of her pocket. "M - my doily? Oh Njada...how could you! It's covered in your filth!" Njada's angry mother smeared the doily in Njada's face, causing the poor little girl to gag at the feel of the now-cold snots coating her skin.

Her mother unleashed a tirade of abuse at her daughter, calling her every name under the sun as she began to whip Njada's face with the doily. New, warm snots mixed in with the cold snots, and Njada felt bile rising to her mouth as her stomach clenched. She tried to back away, tried to warn her mother, but her mother was too far gone in her episode to listen. Njada vomited, covering herself and her mother in it. Mother fell silent and still - her mouth a perfect 'O' of shock as she processed this newest transgression.

Njada's head spun dangerously - the assault from her mother was too overwhelming, and she felt herself slipping. The last thing she remembered after her mother stuffed the doily into her mouth was being locked in her room, where she was kept until well past midday the following day. **

And that was how Njada Stone-Arm was treated until she ran away at the wise old age of twelve.

She felt like her heart would burst, it hurt so much. She couldn't seem to stop her chest and her guts from aching, and the lump in her throat didn't seem to dissolve no matter how many times she screamed. She began to scratch absentmindedly at the tightness in her chest, and found that it felt good. She dug her nails in a bit harder, and slowly drew a line down her chest. She winced a little bit at the pain, but somehow, it seemed to give her some relief. She repeated it, this time digging a little bit harder. She did it again and again, until her nails were caked with blood and skin, and her chest was a complete mess. Njada passed out eventually - her memories of her childhood began to moil and spin inside her head, until she blacked out from the overload.


Alrighty, there's the first bit. Please continue on to the next chapter! I hope these two chapters were worth the wait - I would be very grateful if you left a review. :)

Chapter Text

Vilkas waited on the steps to Jorrvaskr for Farkas and Rose; he'd been waiting off and on since sunrise. He missed them; especially Farkas. He always felt a bit calmer when his twin was around - he felt like something was missing when he wasn't there, and the world was that much bigger without him. Skjor had come out from time to time to hang shit on him, before getting no response and disappearing back inside. Ria was out on a job, so there was no comfort to be had there.

As night fell, he stopped going inside. He sat through the rain and the hail, not caring about the itchiness under his armour or the way his belly rumbled. Aela had come outside with a ham sandwich and a mug of ale, which he chugged appreciatively. She sat down next to him and waited with him.

"Where are they?" Vilkas whined.

"You worry too much. They'll be back soon." she soothed.

"I hope so. I hate worrying about him." he said, around a mouthful of sandwich.

Aela nodded in understanding, and stole a sip of his mead. "Ria is due back soon." She offered, eyebrow raised.

"Yeah, but she's not far away. And she's safe with Athis." Just as he finished speaking, he heard his brother's familiar laugh. "Ah. Here they are." he grunted, springing to his feet. "About bloody time!" he called, as they appeared at the top of the stairs leading to the Gildergreen. He stood watching with his arms folded as Rose and Farkas approached.

"Have you been waiting?" Rose smiled.

"No, I w - "

"Yes, he's been hanging around here all day!" Aela interrupted, slapping his shoulder.

"Shut up, Aela." Vilkas hissed, earning a low chuckle from Aela.

Farkas pulled his twin into a brotherly hug, giving his hair a ruffle. "Did ya miss me, boofhead?" Farkas chortled.

Vilkas grumbled under his breath, and together, the four Companions entered the warm, dry mead hall. Rose sighed contentedly as she gazed around the hall of home, her appraisal ending with her favourite site - Farkas. "It's good to be home." she said.

Farkas gripped her waist and pulled her to him, causing her heart to flutter. "Let's go to my room and get these wet clothes off." he whispered, his breath tickling her ear.

"I know a good way to get warm." she whispered, seductively trapping her bottom lip between her teeth.

Farkas chuckled darkly as he gripped her hand, pulling her to the stairs leading to the living quarters. "Um...?" Vilkas said, and the pair turned to him. "Aren't you gonna come and have a drink with us, and tell us how you went?" he growled, slightly miffed that they would retire without so much as a g'day and how's things.

"Sorry, brother. It's been a long trip. Let us get out of our wet gear and we'll be back up. Alright?"

"Hmmph. Don't keep me waiting too long." Vilkas settled into a chair with his usual scowl, ignoring Torvar who was nodding off in another chair.

Aela followed Farkas and Rose downstairs, and told them that Vilkas had been fretting. "Make sure you spend a bit of time with him. I think he was quite lonely without you, and Ria, who is out on a job with Athis." she paused to hear their affirmative answer, and then bade them goodnight.

They entered Farkas' room, and Farkas dumped their things unceremoniously on the floor beside the bar. "Damn, it's good to be home." he sighed.

"Let's have a quickie before going upstairs, hmm?" Rose whispered, as she hurriedly removed her armour and underclothes. She smiled knowingly as Farkas unconsciously licked his lips, letting his eyes devour her for a moment before removing his own gear.

"As much as I want to do that, I think we'd better go upstairs to Vilkas. He'll smell us if we do, and he'll be - "

"Smell us? Oh." Rose turned a shade of deep red as her heart skipped a beat, remembering that Vilkas was also a werewolf. "In that case...oh, speaking of smell, let's have a bath arranged for us before we go to sleep tonight."

"Heh. Done. Don't forget...I'm going to need to wash you again." Farkas allowed himself to squeeze her boobs for a moment, and he couldn't help but push his hardness against her to show her how much he really wanted to 'wash' her. They had indeed found a stream to wash in on their way home from Ivarstead, and Rose had made Farkas wash her over and over again, with special attention in one particular spot.

It took a lot of willpower for them to pull apart from each other and slip into some comfortable cotton clothing. Rose was extremely happy to be able to dag around in her favourite soft clothes - she'd really missed her soft, brown cotton dress. They bumped into Tilma on the way back to the dining hall, and before they got a chance to ask her if she'd mind arranging a bath for them, she offered it herself. "We must really stink!" Farkas joked.

"Yeah, you do stink. I smell alright..." she said, sniffing her armpits. "On second thought, nope. I reek!"

"Well you're gonna smell like nothin' but me by the morning." he said, slinging his arm around her.

"Gods, you're sexy." she gushed, as they approached the table where Vilkas sat, glowering into his mug.

Vilkas brightened considerably as Rose and Farkas took seats either side of him. Rose felt a rush of sisterly love for the grumpy twin, and she stroked his hair affectionately. "How are you?" she said.

"I'm good, now that you guys are back. I won't be properly happy until you tell me how your trip went, though."

And so Rose and Farkas took turns in filling Vilkas in on the details of their adventure. Vilkas' animated face went through a variety of expressions, including shock and sadness when she spoke about Farkas nearly dying on the top of the mountain. His gratitude towards Rose for saving Farkas' life was swift and full-volume. He pulled her into his arms, and kissed her cheek. Rose heard him take a subtle sniff just before he pulled his head back, and when he did pull back, he had a knowing glint in his eye.

"I see you've both finally gotten your acts together." he said, grinning wolfishly.

"Vilkas!" Rose laughed, shoving him in the chest and blushing furiously.

"Look, Farkas! She's blushing." Vilkas teased.

The trio chatted for a while longer, until Tilma came to tell them know the bath was ready. Vilkas yawned and took himself off to bed, and Rose and Farkas eagerly headed for the hot tub. "Gods...I feel like I haven't bathed for a year!" Rose groaned, as she lowered herself into the tub. "You getting in?" she said, noticing with a quirked eyebrow that Farkas was just standing there gawking at her.

"Yes...I was just deciding where to wash you first." he said, grinning lewdly.

"Well, hurry up and decide. A girl needs to be clean!"

Farkas, as promised, gave her a good scrubbing...in all the right places. Rose could only return the favour, and by the time they were finished, the water was stone cold. And when they retired to Farkas' room, they warmed each other up again good and proper, much to Vilkas' horror.


In the morning, Rose, twins and Ria - who had returned some time in the night - sat at the little table between their bedrooms to partake of their breakfast. Kodlak joined them, shuffling along with his little tray of food. "Good Morning, Kodlak!" Rose said, moving over to make room for the old Harbinger.

"Great to see you back, you two! I heard you talking last night, but I was too tired and achy to get out of bed." he said, taking a bite of bread. "Now. We need to resolve the matter of Njada's punishment. I'd like to have her brought here for trial, this afternoon."

"Please be gentle with her - she's very remorseful." Ria softly said.

"Why do you say that?" Kodlak asked, frowning.

Ria told them how Njada had shed tears while expressing her regret, and how she believed that Njada's sorrow was sincere. "I think Njada might deserve a second chance." she whispered timidly. The other Companions sitting around the table contemplated her revelation silently, each keeping their own opinions to themselves.

The rest of the morning was spent preparing the formalities for the trial, as well as setting up tables and chairs out in the training yard. And when it came time to fetch Njada, Kodlak sent Skjor, Vilkas and Aela. Rose's heart thumped in anticipation and dread, and she snuggled into Farkas' embrace for comfort. Kodlak gestured for everyone to sit down as Njada and the others appeared, and Rose's heart skipped a beat to see the state she was in. Njada's skin was deathly pale, her sunken eyes ringed by dark circles. Her cheeks were hollow and her eyes were haunted - she looked like an entirely different person. She didn't look like the tough, snarky bitch that Rose remembered; she looked like a frightened and sick little girl.

Rose expected Njada to say something horrible to Rose as she went past, or at the very least make a face at her - but she only looked at Rose with wide, sad eyes. Rose looked at Farkas with her eyebrows raised, and he shrugged.

Aela guided Njada to the chair that was placed strategically facing the other chairs, her face impassive. Rose wondered what Aela was thinking. Skjor and Vilkas sat to the right of Farkas, and Aela perched next to Rose. Ria sat behind Rose, flanked by Athis and Torvar, who was surprisingly sober. Brill and Vignar were also present, though Vignar looked positively bored. Kodlak stood next to Njada, and coughed to clear his throat.

"My fellow Companions. Today, we are here to decide the fate of Njada Stone-Arm. She stands accused of seriously harming one of her Shield-Brothers, our Farkas." Kodlak paused to let that sink in to the minds of those who either didn't know what Njada had done or, those who didn't know to whom she had done it to. "Farkas. Would you please stand and give your account?"

Farkas' brow furrowed - he was clearly uncomfortable for various reasons. Rose surmised that he was uncomfortable to divulge the details of the intimate attack, and also uncomfortable for how Rose would be feeling. She squeezed his knee and nodded encouragingly, and he stood up.

"Well, ah..." he rubbed the back of his neck nervously for a moment, before collecting himself, "Njada brought me in some warm mead. I thought it tasted a bit weird, but I drank it anyway because I was thirsty and really felt like a drink. Then I started feelin' sleepy, like I had taken too much wine. Then, I started feelin' crook...Vilkas helped me get out of my armour and into bed, and then I couldn't move. He went off to get Danica, and then Njada came in."

"And then?" prompted Kodlak. Njada was scowling now, though it was only a shadow of her former blood-chilling scowl.

"When she saw that I couldn't move, she straddled me and produced a vial of purple stuff and poured it down my throat. Then she started to undo my pants. But unfortunately for her, I was too wasted to be able to ah...ya know."

"To what, Farkas?" Vignar piped up, looking pleased with himself.

"Go on, Farkas." Kodlak urged, flicking the old smarty-pants a quick but very cold glare.

"The next think I remember was waking up in Danica's temple, feeling utterly shite." Farkas folded his arms, and stared pointedly at Njada. In his mind, he'd often imagined Rose's reaction to the scene she'd have walked in on, and now, it brought the hate he felt for Njada simmering to the surface.

Vilkas was called up next, to give his account. Skjor also had a few words to say, and then finally, it was Njada's turn to say what she wanted to say.

"I..." Njada remained seated, rubbing the edges of her thumbs together vigorously.

"Go on, Njada." Kodlak said, his tone laced with impatience.

There was a cool breeze blowing through the courtyard which lifted the hair of most of the Companions, but the sun had a soft warmth which soothed the goosebumps caused by the wind. A couple of birds sat perched on the training dummies, chatting happily to each other. It was a serene scene, but the atmosphere was pregnant with anxious tension. Never before had this happened within the Companions ranks before, and it was rather distressing.

"What do you want me to say?" she suddenly shrieked, pushing herself to her feet. Her hair was wild and unbrushed, giving her the appearance of a madwoman. "I wanted Farkas to fuck me, but the self-righteous prick only wanted 'Miss Perfect' over here!" she abruptly began to scratch at her neck as her knees wobbled, and a strange keening could be heard issuing from her throat.

"Njada! Stop that!" Rose yelled, rushing to Njada's side to trap her arms. Though Njada was weakened from her imprisonment, she was still no fledgling. She struggled mightily in Rose's arms, hissing and spitting like a sabrecat. "Njada! We are conducting a fair trial for you, so don't fuck it up!" screamed Rose, into her ear.

She continued to hold Njada, until the crazed woman began to relax, subdued and spent from her tirade. A strange sense of empathy overcame Rose, and she stroked Njada's hair soothingly. It was a pathetic sight to behold - the once proud and fierce warrior, reduced to a sniveling wreck in the arms of the woman she despised. "Pull yourself together, Njada. We all know that you haven't got a leg to stand on, and yet - here we are, giving you a fair trial, because you were once a worthy Companion. Stand up and say what you have to say." She helped Njada to her feet before turning to her seat, and then she thought of something else to say to Njada. "Njada? I don't hate you, you know. I'm a bit mad at you, but I don't hate you."

Njada looked first confused, and then she looked disbelieving as she rolled her eyes at Rose. Her face took on the sullen, frightened little girl aspect once again. She was silent for several minutes before she pointed at Ria. "Could Ria please come and sit with me? I need a bit of support - "

"No. Say your piece, before I run out of patience." Kodlak snapped.

Njada's expression returned to a semblance of the hard, unapproachable cow they all knew. "I have nothing to say." she finally said.

"Nothing?" Kodlak roared, amid the uproar from the other Companions. "You had better take a minute to think about that!"

"Alright, I will just say this - I know I have done wrong, and I know I don't deserve to be allowed back here among the ranks. Just hurry up and deliver your justice, so that I might be free to move on." she hissed.

"Very well. I will now ask each member to say their opinion in a timely fashion." Kodlak looked at each member. "I will start with Ria."

Ria's response was no surprise - they all knew of her soft heart, and they knew that Ria would ask for Njada to receive a second chance. An opposing opinion was shared by Aela, Skjor, Athis and Torvar - to have her banished from Whiterun Hold, barred from return. Vignar offered that she should be thrown back in jail to rot, where she could never hurt another. Brill seemed to wait and see what Vignar had said, and his flippant response matched Vignar's.

Vilkas, however, was the harshest in his judgement. "I say let her loose on a full moon, and let the werewolves feast on her flesh. She nearly killed my brother." he growled, and Rose caught the vaguest flash of amber in his eyes.

"Well, Rose. What say you?" Kodlak said.

Rose cleared her throat. "Njada has been a loyal and strong Companion, with a lot to offer our guild. As Ria has told us, Njada has shown great remorse for her actions," she held up her hand to silence the onslaught of disbelief and invective, "and I do truly believe that she is not an evil person. She is a very, very troubled soul in need of healing and forgiveness. Her crime against Farkas was born not out of hatred for the man, but for a desperate need for love - "

"Are you fucking serious, Rose?" Vilkas yelled, jumping to his feet to grip Rose by the shoulders. Spittle flew from his mouth to land on her face. "She gods-damned nearly killed him, and you're justifying - "

Rose lost her temper then - she did not appreciate being spoken to like that. "Sit down Vilkas, sit down!" She shoved Vilkas hard, causing him to let go and fall back into his chair. "How dare you speak to me like that! Everybody here has been asked to share their opinion on the matter, and this one is mine!"

Every person present fell silent at Rose's outburst, staring at her with mouths agape. Rose looked to Kodlak, not expecting to see the glint of pride that she found in his eyes. He said nothing, but it gave her the courage to go on. "Now. While I do agree with Ria that Njada is not a bad person, I do believe that she needs to be punished. Firstly, I think that her behaviour is indicative of some mental trauma that she needs to get some treatment for. She acts like a bitch, because that is the way she has learned to protect herself against rejection. A woman who is truly mean and has no wish to make friends would also not be interested in physical contact, especially not by trying to take it by force."

Rose paused to clear her throat, and gauge the expressions on her fellow Companions' faces. "However, she does need to learn some humility. Let Njada stay here. Let her work her way from the bottom, as though starting as a new person. Let her see the people she's hurt on a daily basis, so that she might remember clearly what she has done, and what she could have done. She is to learn how to treat people with respect, instead of being nasty. If she so much as even looks at someone the wrong way, then she will have blown her one chance and she will be banned from ever passing through these doors again." She looked each member in the eyes, daring them to defy her reasoning. Lastly, she looked to Kodlak. He was still staring at her with that glint of pride shining in his eyes, and she felt nothing but warmth from him.

"Well, Rose. You surpass me. I also was intent on having her removed and banned from stepping through the gates to Jorrvaskr. However, I do understand your logic. The more I think about it, the more it makes sense. I leave the decision to you, Farkas. It was against you that the crime was committed, and you must have the final say." Kodlak said, scratching underneath his beard.

Farkas sat for several moments, contemplating his answer. He agreed with Kodlak - Rose's proposal sounded like a great idea, and a good way to teach Njada a lesson. His main concern was Rose's feelings towards Njada - he wasn't affected by what Njada had done to him, but because Rose had walked in and seen it, gotten the wrong idea and fled to face the dangers of Blackreach alone, Farkas had nearly lost Rose forever. Had it not been for the dragon who had saved Rose's life in Blackreach, Rose wouldn't have made it out alive. For that, he was angry. But Rose no longer seemed angry with Njada; in fact, she seemed to be willing to help Njada in a way. So if Rose wasn't adverse to seeing Njada around, then consequently, neither was Farkas.

"Let her stay. It is as Rose says." Farkas concluded, and then the uproar began again. Farkas looked to Njada, who was staring at him incredulously. Her eyes flicked back and forth between Rose and Farkas with a mix of gratitude, humiliation and disbelief plain on her features.

Once the furor died down, Kodlak spoke again. "Very well. It is decided. Njada will stay. Here are the terms: Njada will be given menial tasks until mutual trust has been reestablished. She will not be included in any meetings, nor will she be given any power to make decisions for the Companions. She will help Tilma with the cooking and cleaning, and she will agree without complaint to clean and polish armour and weapons. She will treat everybody with equal respect and amiability. She will also actively seek the help of a priest, priestess or healer to help her get through her mental issues. And lastly, if she breaks any of these rules, she will be cast out without further ado. There will be no protest from any of you - my word is final. Do I make myself clear?" Kodlak boomed, any trace of the old man he had become gone, for the moment.

The other Companions nodded their assent among various mumbles and grumbles. Rose had been watching Njada's face as Kodlak spoke, and found it very difficult to feel any kind of hatred or anger towards her - Njada was trying very hard to retain a shred of dignity, though her face was streaked with tears and her bottom lip quivered. Kodlak bent down to Ria to whisper something in her ear. Ria nodded and walked over to Njada, helping her to stand. Rose watched as Ria led Njada inside, probably to get her cleaned up and reestablished.

Next, she looked over to Vilkas. He was still seething, and glaring hotly at her. She felt her heart sink; she knew Vilkas was a bit of a hothead, but he'd always been nice to her. She wouldn't let it go on, not when he was the twin brother of the man she loved, and not when he had been her friend. She seated herself next to him, feeling a small sense of victory when he didn't get up and leave her there.

When everybody had dispersed, she spoke to him. "Vilkas...Farkas isn't angry with me. If anyone has the right to be angry with me, it is him. You have to accept the outcome - your anger will not change a thing." she said, facing him directly. She dared to take both of his hands in hers, and the way he didn't pull away from her made her realise he wasn't going to hang on to his anger.

"You know how it is between me and Farkas, Rose. You can't blame me for wanting blood for the harm she caused him."

"I do understand, Vilkas. I understand better than you think." They burned my family to the ground. "But this is the only way. If she is cast out, she will move on, without having truly learned a lesson. Come on, let's grab Farkas, go to the Bannered Mare and get pissed. What do you say?" she stroked his cheek.

"Your shout."

"You know, you shouldn't say 'shout' to the Dragonborn. I could take it the wrong way!" she joked, earning a small grin from Vilkas. She sighed in relief, and then hopped up to rescue Farkas from Brill, who was going on and on about his boozing days.


Njada allowed Ria to steer her to the whelp's room, where she watched silently as Ria fetched some fresh clothes out of her drawer. She then led Njada to the bathroom, and helped her out of her clothes.

Ria's faced visibly paled, her eyes wide in shock as she took in the mess that Njada had made of her chest. "Oh gods, Njada...what have you done?"

Well, there you have it. I hope you're not too mad at me for being soft with Njada! You will be surprised, though, how Rose's idea of punishment actually makes sense. :)

Chapter Text

G'day folks! Thanks for all your support!
You'll notice in this chapter that the sequence of events regarding the main quest is out of order. I've done it this way to suit the story, and to suit the development of my character within the story. I hope that by mixing things up a bit, it is a bit more interesting. :) Enjoy!

Njada sat in the tub with her head hanging, and silent tears dripping into the tepid bath water. Ria was absentmindedly humming a soft tune as she drew the soapy cloth over Njada's back. Njada's pride was in tatters; this fierce warrior-woman was reduced to a sniveling mess who didn't even care to wash herself. The emotional melt-down she had had in jail had caused her to infict a rather nasty injury on herself; it was almost as though her hands were being controlled by some other being. Her chest was now a mess of infected gouges which would leave behind some very visible scars. Some of the wounds were still bleeding, and others were raised, red and weeping pus.

Ria had taken it upon herself to be her temporary nurse - she would clean her up and tend to her wounds, and then she would make sure Njada had a good feed. After that, however, she would advise Njada to look after her own self so that she might yet return to the woman she once was - except for the 'bitch' part, of course. For now, she needed to get Njada out of danger. She scrubbed Njada's filthy skin and washed her dirt-encrusted hair, and then she poured a bucket of cold water over Njada to rinse off the dirt. Njada barely flinched at the cold.

"Now, then. Stand up and get dry and dressed. Drink that health potion over there," Ria pointed to the small red bottle sitting on the floor by Njada's fresh clothes, "and I'll go and organise some food for you."

"Thanks." Njada whispered, standing up. Shame, humiliation and fear were predominant in Njada's heart, and she knew she had to refrain from dwelling on those feelings lest she sink further into despair. There was still a spark of strength in her yet—that small bit of strength was part of who she was, and would never be wiped out. She now needed to nurture that small spark into a burning blaze. She would not ruin the new chance that she'd been given.


After having rescued Farkas from Brill, the two went off in search of those willing to share a drink at the Bannered Mare. As they reentered the hall of Jorrvaskr, Farkas stopped her.

"What is it?" Rose asked, looking askance at the odd expression on Farkas' face.

"That bloody hide armour you're wearing. We need to take it off." he said, tugging at the loose-fitting cuirass.

"Easy there, fella. Keep it in your pants for now!" she joked despite the building heat that his gesture caused, and poked the big man between the legs.

He instinctively doubled over to protect his 'family jewels'. "Ahh you naughty girl, you'll pay for that." he growled, playfully nipping her ear as he slung his arm around her waist. "I was talking about getting you some new armour! I'm sure Eorland has something ready-made that he can give you; he usually makes sure he has sets of steel armour for emergencies like these. Besides, if I have to keep looking at that cleavage of yours any longer..." he let his unspoken words hang as he licked his lips, making Rose laugh.

"Come on then, let's go up and see Eorland first."

As luck would have it, Eorland did indeed have a spare set of steel armour that was made to fit a female. Eorland made a few minor adjustments to it and then she was good to go. "Thanks a lot, Eorland. It feels much better to have armour that fits properly. How much do I owe you?" she asked.

Eorland's only response was a fatherly glare, and Rose couldn't suppress a giggle.

"Begone!" Eorland grunted, followed by a wink.

The two then made their way back into the hall to look for the others. Farkas was also wearing his set of steel armour that day, much to the other Companions' amusement. "Look, they match!" Athis joked.

"No, it's n—" Farkas tried to explain why they were both wearing matching sets of armour, but the others were having none of it.

"Naw, how sweet. Two peas in a pod!" Vilkas teased, cutting Farkas off mid-word.

"Oh, come on!" Farkas growled, though his eyes were twinkling with mirth.

"Gods, you two are so..." Aela rolled her eyes, "...sickening, really."

"That does it! I'm gettin' changed into my wolf armour." Farkas growled, stomping off comically to the living quarters. Everyone, including Rose, laughed heartily at Farkas' mock display of anger.


Later that afternoon, all of the Companions - except for Ria, Njada and the elderly members - were seated around a couple of tables at the crowded Bannered Mare. Mikael was butchering an otherwise lovely tune in the background, causing Rose to wince occasionally. How in oblivion did that man manage to become a bard?

Torvar was recounting a hilarious sequence of events that may or may not have taken place during one of his missions, but he had everyone laughing just the same. He really could be quite the funny bugger, until he drank too much. Rose was sitting perched on Farkas' lap, and one of his large hands were resting on her hip in a proprietary fashion. Rose didn't mind; in fact, it made her feel wanted, secure.

Aela was squished next to Skjor on the bench seat against the wall, trying to keep her face neutral when Skjor winked at her. Rose couldn't help but smirk at her efforts - it was obvious to all of them how much to the two werewolves loved each other, and nobody could understand why they wanted to hide it. Vilkas kept looking towards the door - Farkas thought he might have been hoping for Ria to show up, though he knew that Ria had taken it upon herself to look after Njada. Athis was slouched in a chair, arms folded across his chest in a relaxed manner.

Other people were crowding around to listen in on Torvar's story - though he was a drunk and a dreamer, outsiders only saw a Companion. They were eager to hear his tale, so that they might brag to their friends about overhearing a story from the mouth of a real Companion. It wasn't often that a group of the members of the famous guild were seen together in one place; they usually kept to their own mead hall. So all of them together at the 'Mare was truly an exciting sight to behold.

Torvar's story began to drag on, and Rose found herself drifting into her own thoughts. Tomorrow I must go and see Jarl Balgruuf - I can't put it off any longer. I hope I am strong enough to bring Ohdaviing to his knees. Her heart skipped a beat at the thought of bringing a dragon of all things into the keep - she would have to be fast enough to bring him down before he killed anyone. She didn't know if she would be able to live with herself if someone got killed because of her risky plan.

Farkas sensed her distraction, and pulled her against him until her back was flush against his chest. "Everything alright?" he voice vibrated against her ear, causing a shiver down her spine.

"Yeah. Just thinking about the 'big task', if you know what I mean."

"Is that all I am, a 'big task'?" he chortled.

"Very funny." Rose drawled, though his words did get her imagination running wild. "How about we get out of here? We could go and make sure the cobwebs in Breezehome are growing nicely."

"Hmm...I like the sound of that." Farkas squeezed her hip just once, and bounced her a few times on his knee. "Shall we?"

Rose stood up abruptly. "Right lads, we're off." she announced loudly.

"Whaaat? My story was only just beginnin'!" Torvar slurred. "C'mon, stay!"

Farkas was tempted to sling Rose over his shoulder, but he kept himself in check. "Sorry, buddy. We're goin'. See you lot tomorrow." He grabbed Rose's hand, and all but dragged her out of the door. Rose was giggling uncontrollably as they jogged down the stairs towards Breezehome, eager to be alone together.

Once at the door, Rose fumbled in her pocket for the key. Her task was no easy one - especially as Farkas was standing at her back, planting kisses on her neck and unbuckling her new steel cuirass. "I could have sworn I'd picked up the key. You haven't got it, have you?" she half-moaned, half-whimpered.

"No..." he mumbled, between kisses.

"We can't get inside." she growled in frustration, and slapped the door with her palms.

"It doesn't matter. Everybody is either at the inn or inside their homes eating their dinners. We could just go behind the house, nobody will see..." Farkas cooed, as his hands came up inside her now-loose cuirass to clutch her breasts.

Rose gasped as her simmering desire flared to life, and her body became putty in Farkas' hands. "No, we can't...what about the old duck who lives behind here?"

"Olava? Don't worry about her, she's as blind as a bat. Deaf, too. Besides, if she does catch us, it'll probably give her a bit of a bounce in her step!" Farkas chuckled, bouncing her boobs for emphasis.

"Farkas!" she said, laughing. Her laughter turned into a happy squeal when Farkas lifted her, and he carried her to the back of the house. It was shadowed, so they were fairly sheltered from the view of the streets.

"Besides...I don't think I can make it back to Jorrvaskr before I lose my mind. I need you now." Farkas growled softly, pressing himself against her.

Burning with lust, Rose's hand slid down his chest to rest on the hard bulge digging into her lower abdomen, and he hummed appreciatively. The sound of his voice heightened her arousal; she was attuned to his every move, his every sound. He clutched the back of her head and pushed his tongue into her mouth, the sensation causing her knees to feel weak. "Loosen my belt..." she whispered thickly against his lips. Farkas obeyed with a sexy grunt, and once his hand was inside her pants, he dragged his warm fingers up her soft inner thigh. Rose pulled impatiently at the ties of his pants, eager to get her hand inside. When her hand found that which she sought - warm, smooth and rock-hard - he immediately groaned, his hips pushing forward into her hand. All concerns about getting caught flew out the window when he unceremoniously pushed a finger into her, eliciting a high-pitched yelp from her.

Farkas chuckled in amusement at her little sound. "I love you, woman." he growled, against her neck.

"Gods! I love you too." she smiled happily and gazed up at the late afternoon sky. The sun was nearing the horizon now; it would only be another hour before it began to slip out of sight to make way for night. She loved this time of day - people were starting to wind down from their hard day's work, and you could almost feel the relief in the air. Her reverie was cut short, however, when Farkas plunged his tongue back into her mouth. Her bliss knew no bounds as Farkas pleasured her, and she felt at any moment she could burst with joy.

After a few moments she pushed his hand away; she was ready for something other than his finger. She quickly unbuckled her greaves and pushed her pants and boots off. She made exaggerated grunting sounds as she worked, and they both laughed. Once her bottom half was bare - all but her woolen grey socks - Farkas positioned her. With one hand, he supported her leg over his hip. His other hand cradled the back of her head lovingly, his cheek pressed to hers. He pointed himself at her entrance and pushed in slowly, his breaths coming in short pants when he was fully sheathed. Spears of intense pleasure lanced through from her core outwards, and she saw them as stars behind her eyelids. Rose clutched tightly to him, ready for him to start moving. Suddenly, he froze against her. His eyes went wide, and he slowly turned his head to the side. "What's wrong, love?" she whispered, following his gaze.

"Vilkas?" Rose squeaked, as Farkas turned them so she was blocked from Vilkas' view. He lowered her leg, and they both groaned softly at the sensation of his hardness sliding out of her. It bumped against her sensitive nub just before he tucked it back into his pants, causing Rose to utter an involuntary, shuddering gasp. Rose quickly pulled her pants back on, her tongue clicking in annoyance at having been interrupted. She did appreciate the fact that it was only Vilkas, and not someone else. That would have been embarrassing.

"What are you two doing out here? Couldn't even wait to get in the door, eh?" Vilkas laughed.

"We forgot the key, and we couldn't wait —" Rose pushed a finger against Farkas' lips to stop him from continuing his sentence.

"What in bloody oblivion do you want?" she groaned, hands on hips. She was tingling with sexual frustration now, and it wouldn't take her much to lose her temper.

"There's been a dragon attack at West Watch Tower!" Vilkas excitedly pointed in the general direction of the tower. "Irileth wants you to meet her by the gate as soon as you can."

"Not without my two favourite werewolves." she said, winking. "Let's go." Farkas' and Vilkas' eyes lit up at the prospect of fighting a dragon - especially Vilkas, for this would be his first dragon fight.


Half an hour later Rose, the twins, Irileth and the guards approached the burning tower as the sun met the horizon. The bodies of the tower guards were strewn about, and some of them still smoking. As they neared the arched entryway, a lone survivor came out. It was obvious to all that he was in a state of shock; his hands were balled into fists against his chest, much like a small child. He clumsily pushed off his damaged helm, revealing wide eyes and trembling lips set in a drawn, pale face. "No! Get back! It's still here somewhere! Hroki and Tor...th-they got grabbed when they tried to escape!" he cried, shuffling towards them.

"Are you hurt?" Rose tenderly touched the man's cheek, and she brought forth her healing power. Golden warmth spread from her palm and into the man's cheek, and he sighed appreciatively. He closed his eyes and his shoulders relaxed, and Rose knew her spell was working to heal and soothe him.

"Thank you." the man whispered, looking at her with a mixture of awe and relief. That look, however, changed abruptly to one of renewed fear, followed a split second later by the roar of a dragon. "It's back!" he screamed, immediately drawing his sword from its scabbard.

Irileth immediately took action. She issued orders to the men and women, posting them in various strategic places. Rose and the twins made a silent agreement to stick together, and they raced into the tower and up the stairs to the top.

"Here it comes!" Vilkas shouted, just as the dragon's great wings brought it upwards. "Oh, shit!" Vilkas made a sound that was a mixture between a shriek and a nervous laugh.

Rose smiled as she nocked an arrow, immediately loosing it into the dragon's neck as it flew overhead. She now had its attention; he doubled back, and released a stream of fire at the three Companions. They dodged the blast, immediately releasing more arrows towards him as he flew overhead once again. This scene was repeated a few more times - he flew over, Shouted fire which they dodged, and then they shot arrows into his legs and wings.

Finally, the dragon had had enough of them, and landed on the ground. The guards on the ground immediately attacked; some with bow and arrows, and some rushing in to attack head-on with sword and shield. As the three Companions bounded down the stairs, they heard a loud thud followed by screams of terror. A headless body landed in a heap in front of Rose as she emerged from the tower, and she stared in horror for a few moments at the arterial blood that squirted once...twice...three times, before the heart realised there was no point pumping anymore. With a whimper she pushed on, closely followed by the twins.

"FUS...RO, DAH!" Rose Shouted, causing the dragon to stumble backwards before it captured another guard in its maw. She rushed in with the iron swords that she'd borrowed from the communal 'spare stuff' chest inside Jorrvaskr, wishing that she had her trusty old steel blades - they were somewhere in the bleak depths of Blackreach.

The long moments that followed were a blur of swinging blades, the sssp-thunk of flying arrows, dragon teeth gnashing and immense heat. The dragon's screams and roars were so loud that they almost blotted out frightened screams and angry shouts of her fellows.

At last, she managed to get underneath the dragon's great head. She plunged her blade into the dragon's throat, cutting of the Shout that he was preparing. It came out as a paltry puff of smoke instead, and the relief among the fighters was palpable. She pulled her sword out, and then stepped back to watch the dragon die. A strange mix of sorrow and gladness enveloped her as she saw the light in his eyes go out.

"Dovahkiin, no..." he cried, and a single tear slipped out of her eye. I'm sorry, she thought. She understood that dragons were - or at least had once been - part of the natural order of things, and that they weren't inherently evil.

Rose, as well as the others, stood transfixed as the dragon's body began to disintegrate. She waited for the familiar rush of vague memories and heat that accompanied the dragon's soul as it entered her body, and she heard the hushed sounds of awe from the people around her. "That's my girl." she heard Farkas say, followed by Vilkas mumbling something under his breath.

Irileth and the guards gathered around Rose and her werewolves, and she patiently answered their questions. "Can you give us a demo?" asked a young guard.

"Sure. Are you ready? You're going to land flat on your bum." Rose grinned, eyes twinkling.

"Fire away!" His eyes went wide for a moment, and he held up his hand to stall her. "Oh, perhaps I should rephrase that. Go for it!" he said, bracing himself with his legs apart and knees bent.

"FUS!" Plop, the youthful guard landed hard on his arse and tipped backwards, his legs going up in the air. Everyone had a bit of a chuckle, and then they all went back to town.

Irileth had told her that Jarl Balgruuf wished to see her, which was good because Rose needed to see him too. "Well, with the news of the dragon's defeat, the Jarl will be in a good mood. Should you wish to ask anything of him, this would be a good time." Irileth informed her.

"Right. Well it just so happens that I do have a bit of a favour to ask." Rose said, as they walked towards the lofty doors to Dragonsreach.

"Oh? Care to run it by me, Dragonborn?" Irileth questioned, trying to maintain a business-like expression and tone, despite her burning curiosity.

"Hmm...you'll find out soon enough."

Jarl Balgruuf was sitting slouched in his throne, looking bored. His brother Hrongar was pacing back and forth, ranting at Proventus. Irileth sighed and rolled her eyes at Rose. "They're at it again." she whispered. Proventus was standing with his arms folded, avoiding looking at Hrongar. His lips were pursed, and it was obvious he wasn't going to budge.

As they approached the platform, the Jarl looked up. His eyes lit up as he recognised his housecarl and the Dragonborn, and he stood up. "Ah! You've returned. What news do you bring?"

"My Jarl, the dragon is dead, though we lost three men." Irileth lamented.

"Irileth, their deaths were not in vain. Three brave men now enter the halls of Sovngarde." the Jarl said grandly.

"If it were not for the swift action and valour of the Dragonborn and her companions, none of us would have made it. Their strategy was calculated and efficient, and it was what won us our victory."

Jarl Balgruuf scrutinised Rose, and glanced briefly at the twins and the guards who were loitering around the long dining table, eyeing the food longingly. "Dragonborn. You have done us a great service. Without your help today, the dragon may have entered our city and killed our people. For your efforts, it is my pleasure to name you a Thane of my court. Will you accept?"

Rose stared open-mouthed for a few moments before answering, "Yes, my Jarl. I would be honoured to accept." she said, bowing her head respectfully.

"In that case, take this enchanted sword from my personal armoury to serve as your badge of office. I hereby name you Thane of Whiterun. Congratulations!" Jarl Balgruuf chirped, handing her a frosty-hued steel sword that she'd not noticed him holding until that moment.

"This is very unexpected, though it is no less appreciated. I thank you, Jarl Balgruuf." Rose said, admiring her new sword.

"My Jarl, Rose requests a boon." Irileth prompted, giving Rose the subtlest of winks.

"Ask away, Dragonborn." he said, settling back into his throne.

Rose took a deep breath, steeling herself for the inevitable uproar that would follow her proposal. "Jarl Balgruuf, I need to trap a dragon here." she said quietly.

Jarl Balgruuf shot out of his throne like someone had poked him in the arse with a burning brazier. "What!?" he shrieked. "Here!?"

"Yes. I need to trap a dragon here, in Dragonsreach."

"Why?" he hissed, incredulous.

"Because, my Jarl, he will lead me to Alduin."

She waited for him to calm down a little bit, and then she explained her plan. Jarl Balgruuf rubbed his chin thoughtfully, considering her words. "It is a bold plan, Rose. You must understand that it puts a lot of lives at risk."

"With all due respect Jarl, it is the only way for me to succeed. The fate of Skyrim rests on this, and without your help, I can't do it."

"I will think on it overnight, and I will send for you in the morning. Are you staying at Breezehome?"

"No, it's not furnished yet. I'll be at Jorrvaskr."

Rose thanked Jarl Balgruuf for the new title and her new sword, and said goodnight. She gave Irileth a little wave and skipped happily down the steps towards Farkas and Vilkas. Their eyes shone with pride, and she was met with cuddles and words of praise. She blushed at the display of affection; they were in the Jarl's court with all eyes on them, but she was not unhappy.

By the time they arrived back to Jorrvaskr, most of the Companions young and old were getting ready for bed. Ria was sitting at the little table between the twins' bedrooms, and when she saw Vilkas, she jumped up and threw her arms around his neck. "Thank the gods, Vil. I was so worried." she gushed, kissing his cheeks and his lips.

Vilkas blushed and snaked his arms around her waist, returning her kisses. "Well...I am alright...now...I can honestly say...I've killed...one of everything...in Skyrim..." he said, in between kisses.

Farkas winked at Rose, and pulled her into his arms. "Let's finish what we started earlier, hmm?" he whispered huskily against her ear.

"Yes please!" she laughed, and pulled him by the hand towards their door. "Goodnight, lads." she said, looking over her shoulder at Ria and Vilkas, but they were too intent on figuring out how to get through Vilkas' door with Ria's legs hooked around his hips.

So now Rose owns Breezehome, she has saved Whiterun from the dragon and is now Thane. It all happened in a roundabout way, but she has come to be where she would be at this point in the game! I hope you'll stick with me: in the coming chapters there'll be dragon fights, fluff and fun, you'll learn about what happened to Rose after her family home burnt down, and we'll also see a bit of interaction between Rose and Njada. Our annoying and beloved Lydia will also make an appearance, and her antics will hopefully put a smile on your dial.

Chapter Text

A loud, insistent knocking pulled Rose and Farkas from a deep sleep. Rose was annoyed, but remembered that it was probably somebody with a message from the Jarl. Farkas on the other hand, didn't take too kindly to being ripped out of sleep—especially because he was usually unable to get such a good sleep.

"Whoever's doing that had better stop, or I'm gonna come out there and do that on your head!" growled Farkas loudly. The knocking immediately stopped.

After a few moments of silence, a soft male voice from the other side of the door began to speak. "Excuse me in there, the Jarl wishes to see the Dragonborn. Is she in there?"

"Yes, I am here. Just give me a moment to get dressed, please?" Rose said, slipping out of Farkas' toasty embrace. "I really do not want to get out of bed." She grumbled, looking longingly at Farkas' furry chest.

"It would have been nice to stay in bed and make love," he said sultrily, reaching his hand down under the blankets. "...ah well, I'll just have to please myself with thoughts of you lying naked under me—" Quick as a flash, Rose leaned forward to pinch his lips shut before he continued.

"Oh don't you dare do that to me! I've got business to attend to. The last thing I need is to be distracted by thoughts of my sexy, manly, strong lover stroking his sizable phallus while I'm trying to talk to the Jarl!" Rose admonished, hands on hips.

Farkas' response was to burst into laughter—she looked like a wild Forsworn with her hands on hips, naked, with her hair all roughed up from her night in Farkas' arms. He swung his legs out of bed and stood up, capturing his wife-to-be in his arms. "I'm just messing with ya. I'm gonna save myself for you...every last drop." he growled lowly, pulling her hips against his so that she could feel his hardness.

"Rose? Please, the Jarl is waiting..." whined the voice from the other side, a little more insistently this time.

"Alright! I'm sorry!" she called, smiling devilishly at Farkas. He slapped her rump, and ordered her to get dressed.

They dressed together; Rose in her new steel armour and Farkas in his wolf armour. When Rose opened the door, she didn't expect to see a short little guard standing there waiting for her. "I'm very sorry to have kept you waiting, sir." she said, politely trying to ignore his lack of height. She didn't think she'd ever seen a guard this small before; perhaps he was just a teenager.

"That's alright. Follow me, please." he said grandly. Rose winked at Farkas, and he pointed to the little guard and flexed his muscles. Rose stifled a snigger, and followed the little bloke outside. The gusty wind whistled through the various structures around them, lifting wisps of Rose's hair.

She followed the little guy up the steps to Dragonsreach, noticing with amusement how he marched importantly as though he was in parade, straight-backed and head proud. His helmet didn't fit him properly, and every time he moved his head, the thing wobbled and he had to keep readjusting it. The wind was blowing a fierce gale, and Rose was worried that it would blow the willowy figure right off the stairs. He had skinny little hips and gangly knees, and his boots were too big. Definitely a teenager, she mused. Sure enough, when they reached the dais inside Dragonsreach, he knelt on one knee before the Jarl and removed his helmet to reveal a youthful, teenage face. A mop of curly blonde hair sprang free, and she was tempted to reach out and give it a ruffle.

"My Jarl, may I present the Dragonborn?" he croaked nervously.

Rose smirked, and looked at the Jarl. As usual, the Jarl was slumped in his throne, his two skinny knees sticking out from beneath his armour. "Well done, boy. Thank you. Irileth will reward you," he nodded imperceptibly to his housecarl, "and should I need this kind of help again, I will summon you."

"Thank you, my Jarl." the boy looked up with bright blue eyes, and Rose felt a rush of affection for the boy. Harald would have looked a bit like him, she thought sadly. The boy took his leave, and Rose watched him plop his ill-fitting helm back on his head.

"What a good kid." Rose sighed wistfully.

"Yes, and determined to be a 'proper' soldier. He's got a bit of growing up to do first. Until then, the guards just give him menial jobs to do."

Rose nodded. "Hmm. Well, hopefully he'll grow into his uniform soon, eh?"

The Jarl chuckled politely, and then stood up. "So, Rose. How did you sleep?"

"Oh...well enough, thanks for asking. And you?"

"Terrible! I couldn't stop thinking about dragons!" he said, pinching the bridge of his nose. "The dragon menace is increasing."

"Yes, indeed it is, my Jarl. Have you come to a decision?"

"Aye, I have. I have thought long and hard, and I see that you are right. Dragonsreach was built for this purpose, so this is the only place in which you can trap a dragon. If this truly is your only course of action, then do what you must do." His tone was one of resignation and defeat, and he rubbed between his eyebrows as if stressed.

"Jarl Balgruuf?" Rose prompted, after a few moments of awkward silence.

He sighed heavily, and then his eyes returned to hers. "A handful of my best archers will accompany us. If this dragon attacks us before you ensnare him, we will shoot him down. Is that understood?"

Rose breathed a sigh of relief. "Perfectly, my Jarl. Thank you!" she gripped one of his hands in both of hers, and pumped his hand furiously. "You do a great service for Skyrim!"

"Do not fail, Dragonborn. I am only giving you this one chance!"

Rose nodded. "Alright then. If you don't mind, I'd like to go back to Jorrvaskr and tell the lads while I fill up my belly. If I go into this hungry, I'll only be blowing puffs of smoke!" she joked, and turned on her heel.

Just as she reached the last step down from the dais, Balgruuf stopped her. "One more thing, Rose. In all the confusion, I forgot to mention that as Thane of Whiterun, you have been assigned a housecarl."

"Oh, really? A housecarl?" Rose said, eyebrow quirked.

"Yes. Her name is Lydia. She was formerly one of my own personal guards, but she left to take care of her elderly parents. They died recently, so she applied to return to my court. She was one of my finest. I could think of no better position of honour for her than to be appointed personal housecarl to our Thane, who also happens to be the Dragonborn!" he smiled.

Rose grinned gleefully. A housecarl, for little ol' me? Mum and Dad would be proud, she thought. "Thank you, Jarl Balgruuf." Rose couldn't think of any pleasantries or formal sort of things to say; she was always a straight talker and not one for putting on airs and graces.

"You're very welcome! You deserve no less, for killing that dragon. Now. Lydia will be here within the week - she is tying up some loose ends, and then she will make her way to Whiterun."

"From where is she coming?" Rose wondered.

"Falkreath."

"Alright. Anyway, Jarl, I'd better get a move on! See you later!"

"Yes, see you soon." he said, dropping back into his throne with a grunt.


Back at Jorrvaskr, Farkas was fussing over Rose as she gobbled up a plate of boiled eggs, bread, cheese and fruit. He rubbed her shoulders and fiddled with her armour, and gave her handy tips about how to maximise the benefits of heavy armour. He was nervous; it wasn't very often that a dragon was willingly summoned to one's hometown, and worse still, the fact that the summoner was none other than the love of his life. On one hand, he was confident that Rose would be successful; she was skilled with her thu'um of course, and her archery and one-handed swordsmanship skill were second-to-none. She had faced down the World-Eater himself, and had sent him flying away with his tail between his legs. However, she had ordered him to stay here at Jorrvaskr, where he would not be able to watch her back.

As the gruff, masculine werewolf fretted over his love, he noticed with dismay how her beautiful golden waves were free. That'll get her into trouble, he thought, reaching forward to smooth her hair in both of his hands. He gathered the long locks together, and separated them into three sections.

"What are you doing?" Rose queried, as goosebumps traveled from the point where his fingers met her skin, to trail down her neck and shoulders.

"You shouldn't go into battle with loose hair, Rose. You know that!" Farkas scolded lightly.

"Well, hopefully there won't be a battle. But plans sometimes don't go...well, according to plan! I must say, it does feel very nice, what you're doing." she purred. "You can do this to me every time I'm to go out."

Farkas leaned forward, so that his lips were against her ears. "I can think of better ways to make you feel nice." he whispered, causing the goosebumps to become electrified, sending them straight to her core.

She turned her face towards his, and placed a feather-light kiss on his lips. "I am yours to command." she whispered against his lips. He smiled, but the glint of lust in his eyes was not lost on Rose.

Just then, she felt another cooler, smaller set of hands on her shoulders. "Nick off, Farkas. Men can't do plaits." Aela said, shoving Farkas aside playfully.

"I can so!" Farkas huffed.

"Come and plait my hair, Farkas!" Vilkas quipped, from the adjacent side of the table.

"I'll plait your brain if you don't watch your tongue, brother. Don't forget who's the bigger twin!" Farkas said, lunging for his brother.

Vilkas laughed, and shot out of his chair before his brother could reach him. He headed for the back doors, but slipped on something and fell on his arse before he reached the handle. His laughter abruptly became an indignant howl, and the sight of the proud warrior on the floor rubbing his bum set everyone into fits of laughter. Except for Vilkas.

"Ah come on, Vilkas! You can give it, but you can't take it?" Farkas teased, helping his brother to his feet.

"You'll pay for that." he hissed, though his eyes were smiling.

Aela and Rose chuckled at their antics as Aela finished plaiting Rose's hair, securing it with a strip of leather that she'd fished from her own pocket. "There. All done." she said, patting Rose's cheek.

"Thanks, Aela!" Rose stood up and squeezed Aela's shoulder. "Wish me luck?"

"You won't need it. You'll do just fine."

Just then, Farkas sidled up to Rose and slipped an arm around her shoulders. "You'd better get going." he said, not knowing how to express his concern and his love without receiving another round of teasing from his Shield-Siblings.

Rose looked up at him and pressed her chest against his, settling into his embrace for a few moments. "I love you." she whispered, against his neck.

"I love you too. Be careful, make sure you think things through before you act."

"I will."

Kodlak emerged from the living quarters to give her a fatherly cuddle, before sitting down to his breakfast. After that, she said goodbye to the others in the room, secretly breathing a sigh of relief that Njada was nowhere in sight. Farkas walked her to the Gildergreen, where he pulled her none-too-gently into his arms and kissed her passionately. He didn't care who was watching - let them see how much he loved this woman!

He watched Rose ascend the many steps to Dragonsreach, trying his hardest not to punch the damn tree in his frustration. He wished fervently that she'd agreed to let him come along, but she was adamant that he stay back at Jorrvaskr. Once Rose was out of sight, he made his way back to Jorrvaskr with his heart in his throat.

Once back inside the great mead hall, Skjor approached him. "We're having a party tonight." he announced.

"What for?" Farkas grumbled, not in the mood for Skjor's party mood.

"For Rose, of course! She's making history today, and history deserves a party! Not only that, but she's the Thane now. Surely that in itself warrants a party. Good mead, loud music and..." Skjor stepped closer to Farkas and lowered his voice, "...great sex at the end of the night." he grinned, nudging Farkas in the side. "Eh? Eh? Eeehh?" Skjor laughed boisterously at his own joke, still nudging Farkas. By the smell of him, he'd already gotten stuck into the booze that morning.

Farkas caught Vilkas' smirking at him, and Farkas guffawed in response.

"You like that, eh? Ha, ha, haha...hohoh!" Skjor laughed, not realising that Farkas was laughing with Vilkas, and not with him.

"Yeah, mate. Sounds good. A party." Farkas sighed. He wasn't in the mood for a party - though on the other hand, the thought of warm mead rolling down his throat and burning the knot of anxiety in his stomach, sounded good.


Rose stood with Jarl Balgruuf, Irileth and a handful of the Jarl's best archers on the Great Porch. The sky was clear, so Odahviing would not be able to use the clouds as a cover. "Are you ready?" she asked, waiting for them all to nod their assent. "Good. Do not fire unless I say so. I do not want this dragon fired at unless absolutely necessary—if you loose an arrow, you will only piss him off. Am I understood?" she barked, using her most authoritative tone.

"Understood." came the unanimous reply.

"Right then. Here goes!" she smiled, and took a deep breath. "OD, AH...VIING!"

Her Shout resounded off the walls, and echoed back from the hills below. The group stood poised, listening intently for sounds from the sky. Long moments passed, and there was no sign of a dragon. The guards around her began to shuffle their feet, but Rose didn't give up hope. "Shh." she hissed, feeling annoyed with the sound of their shuffling feet. A few more minutes passed, before they heard a distant roar.

"He comes!" Jarl Balgruuf cried nervously. "Make ready!"

Rose could hear her comrades' breaths coming in pants now as they prepared to fight the ultimate fight, and her heart went out to them. She hoped that no harm came to them; she would do all that she could to make sure Odahviing was lured and trapped before he had a chance to do any damage.

And there he was - Odahviing swept over the roof of Dragonsreach, appearing above their heads. A few of the guards cursed in surprise, but Rose held her ground. She wasted not a minute. "JOOR, ZAH...FRUL!"

Rose and her companions watched as the blue light flew towards Odahviing...and missed. Rose cursed loudly - now she would have to wait until the pain in her throat eased, and until the tingle of her thu'um returned. "Take cover!" she yelled to her fellows.

Jarl Balgruuf, Irileth and the guards immediately bolted for safety, though not before Odahviing swooped down and picked up one of the guards in his great talons. "I am here, dovahkiin!" he boomed, as the guard trapped in his claws screamed for mercy, his hands flailing. Rose reached for him, though she knew it was futile. Her fingertips brushed his as Odahviing pumped his wings, lifting himself higher into the air. Rose's heart lurched as the frightened guard sobbed in terror, his cries abruptly ceasing as the dragon pulled him in two. Odahviing flung the two halves away, the soldier's blood splashing onto the pavement in front of Rose.

Anger infused Rose's limbs with speed, and quick as lightning, she nocked and loosed an arrow. She didn't care where it got him, as long as she got his attention. The familiar tingle of her thu'um returned to her; the feeling seemed to spread within her chest cavity and her throat. Once again, she wasted not a moment.

"JOOR, ZAH...FRUL!" she Shouted, laughing as the ethereal light engulfed the dragon. He screamed in rage as his wings lost their power, forcibly dragging his body lower, to land directly in front of Rose.

Rose instinctively felt the crackling energy of the thu'um, though not her own. "Archers ready!" she yelled. "Fire!" the soldiers loosed a volley of arrows at Odahviing, but the command came too late. Odahviin's thu'um was already coming.

"YOL, TOOR...SHUL!" Odahviing spewed fire, his great head swinging from left to right. Rose heard screaming from somewhere behind her, though she didn't have the chance to take a moment to find out the source. She readied her own thu'um once again, and Shouted her own Fire.

"Come on, dragon!" she called. She walked backwards, taunting the dragon. Odahviing fell for the trap. He waddled towards her, and she got a bit of a fright when his head lunged forward in an attempt to bite her. "Oh, no you don't!" she squeaked, jumping back. She heard a nervous chuckle somewhere behind her amidst the screams of the soldier who'd been burned by Odahviing's Fire Breath.

"That's it, that's it! Now!" someone yelled, and another someone pulled the lever. The massive trap fell down onto Odahviing's neck, trapping him perfectly with a loud clang.

"Nid!" Odahviing cried. "Horvutah med kodaav. Caught, like a bear in a trap..."

Rose took a moment to gather her wits about her, and calm her nerves. She didn't want to sound nervous and frightened when she spoke; she wanted to sound commanding and fierce. However, Odahviing spoke first. "My eagerness to meet you in battle was my undoing, dovahkiin. I salute your...hmm...low cunning in devising such a...strategem. You went to a great deal of trouble to put me in this humiliating position." he grumbled.

Rose, surprisingly, felt somewhat guilty. Dragons were proud creatures, and she had not only used the humiliating Dragonrend Shout to bring him down, but she had lured him into a trap. Her cheeks burned, but then she remembered herself. A scowl replaced the look of guilt on her face. "Tell me where to find Alduin," she growled, "is he truly hiding in Sovngarde?"

"Ahh...I suspected that this would be your motivation for my capture. If it weren't for my own curiosity, I would not have heeded your call. The truth is...I, as well as many others of our kind, have begun to question Alduin's lordship, whether his thu'um was truly the strongest. I wanted to test your thu'um for myself...to see who had the greater mastery."

"Where is Alduin?" she snapped.

"Yes. He truly is hiding in Sovngarde...he has traveled there to regain his strength, devouring the sillesejoor, the souls of the mortal dead. A privilege he jealously guards..." Odahviing groaned. "His door to Sovngarde is at Skuldafn, one of his ancient fanes high in the eastern mountains. Mindoraan, pah ok middovahhe fahvraan til. I surely do not need to warn you that all his remaining strength is marshalled there."

Rose nodded, processing this information. "So how do I get to Skuldafn?"

"Hmm...krosis. That is one small detail I neglected to mention."

"Oh?"

"You may have the thu'um of a dovah, but you do not have the wings to carry you to Skuldafn."

"Are you offering your services, then?" she said, her hands on her hips.

"If you promise to set me free...I will take you to Skuldafn. I will need a small amount of time to allow my wounds to heal from your arrows..." he sighed.

"Very well, Odahviing. Here you will rest. I will organise some...food for you, and someone to tend to your wounds."

"You must make sure that these men will not harm me." Odavhiing said.

"You have my word. But you must not provoke them!" she said, reaching out a hand to poke his muzzle. "Alright? I will return tomorrow."

Odahviing laid his head down and closed his eyes. Rose turned away, and headed for the group of men standing nervously by the door. Jarl Balgruuf stood among them, his arms crossed. "Where is the injured soldier?" she asked.

"He's been taken to Danica. He has sustained considerable burns. He will live, though not without scars." Balgruuf said.

"And what of the other soldier...does he have family?" Rose whispered. She was referring to the man who was ripped apart like a piece of bread.

"His wife died during childbirth. He has one daughter - her name is Lucia. She plays with my children sometimes. Lovely kid..." the Jarl shook his head sadly.

Rose allowed a few tears to escape. She sent a prayer to the Divines, to preserve his soul from Alduin. "Yes, I know that girl. I've played tag with her a few times. Oh...it's just awful. What will happen to her now?" she cried, shaking her head.

"I suppose she will have to go to Riften—"

"No. No way! Leave it to me. I will think of something." Rose said, feeling stricken at the thought of the sweet, happy little girl getting carted off to the orphanage. I may have to bring her to Jorrvaskr...I hope Kodlak is feeling kind today.

"Very well. If you don't manage to find a solution, I will have to send her." he said, rubbing his forehead. "Now. Did I hear you say something about feeding that bloody monster over there?" the Jarl said, his voice taking on a hard edge.

"Yes. It turns out he's going to be my buddy now. My best buddy. He wants to go free, and the only way I'm going to set him free is if he takes me to Skuldafn. Did you not hear the conversation?" Rose sneered. Stress and exhaustion, as well as grief and horror for the soldier whose life had literally been torn apart made her feel irritable.

"Yes, I heard." he growled, unimpressed with her impertinence. "Hrongar, organise some men to bring up a couple of cows for the dragon. And get Farengar to fix his wounds!" Balgruuf said, snapping his fingers.

"Yes, my Jarl." his brother said, pulling two soldiers along with him.

Rose left Dragonsreach in search of the little girl Lucia, who was now an orphan. She searched for close to an hour, before finally finding her curled up under a tree with a book. She smiled when she saw Rose approach, but her smile slowly faded when she noticed Rose's serious expression.

"Hello, Lucia. How are you doing today?" she said, crouching next to her.

"I'm well. Say, have you seen my father? Did he get the dragon?" she said, putting her book down.

Rose took both of Lucia's hands in her own. She took a few deep breaths to ward away the tears that wanted to come. "Lucia...your father won't be coming home."

Lucia's face first took on a look of disbelief, followed by confusion, and finally hurt. Her bottom lip quivered as tears spilled from her eyes. "Why?" she whispered shakily.

Rose pulled her into her arms and held her tight, as Lucia began to unravel. She trembled violently in Rose's arms as the reality of Rose's news hit home. Rose cried openly into Lucia's hair—she knew what it was like to lose a parent. The fact that Lucia was now left with no parents at only eleven years old made it all the more tragic. "I'm so sorry, sweetheart." If my Dragonrend hadn't missed the first time, her father would still be alive... "I am so very sorry." she rocked the girl from side to side, whispering her apology over and over.

Some time later, Rose realised that Lucia had cried herself to sleep. Carefully, so as not to disturb her, Rose lifted Lucia—and her book—into her arms. She carried her through the marketplace, and up the stairs leading to the Gildergreen. Carlotta approached her, a look of shock on her face.

"What happened to Lucia?" she cried, touching Lucia's forehead.

"Her father was just killed." Rose whispered, feeling numb after the long time she had spent crying.

"I see..." Carlotta said, suddenly white with shock.

"The Jarl wants to send her to Riften." Rose choked back a sob.

Rose told Carlotta what had happened to Lucia's father, and then the two women discussed their options. They agreed that Lucia would not be sent to Riften—Whiterun was her home. She'd lost both parents; the least that could be done for her was to let her stay in the place she called home. Sending her away from her home, to the infamous orphanage, would only kill her.

"I will take care of her for the time being. If someone is looking to adopt within Whiterun...well then we can look at our options once again. Until then...she will remain with me. I'm sure Mila would love to have Lucia staying with us - they play together often, you know."

"Yes, I have seen them running around together. I'm glad I bumped into you, Carlotta. Thank Mara, for people like you." Rose kissed Carlotta on the cheek. "If you need anything—anything—I am there for you. You know where to find me."


Rose walked up the steps to Jorrvaskr with a heavy heart. The light of day was fading, adding to the gloomy feeling. Dark clouds obscured the horizon, hiding a pretty sunset from view. She sighed as she opened the doors, looking forward to sinking into Farkas' arms for a long, quiet cuddle. The scene that met her, however, was not one she expected.

"Surprise!" The word was shouted in unison by a hall full of people. She had noticed that the streets of Whiterun were fairly empty, but she'd put it down to the fact that it looked like it was going to rain.

Farkas approached her, lifting her in his arms and spinning her around.

"We saw the dragon fly over Whiterun, towards Dragonsreach! We heard your thu'um...by the gods...you did it! You caught a dragon!" Farkas yelled excitedly, his cheeks pink with excitement and alcohol.

Rose smiled weakly; though she was deeply saddened by Lucia's loss, Farkas' innocent enthusiasm did manage to coax a small smile from her.

It wasn't lost on him, however. "Are you alright, love?"

She opened her mouth to respond, but she never got the chance before her friends swamped her. She became inundated with questions, praises, and people offering drinks and food. "Tell you later." she mouthed to Farkas, and he winked in acknowledgment. Belethor was there, as well as the Battle-Borns and the Grey-Manes. She hoped that they could put aside their differences for the day, or at the very least avoid each other. Next, she spotted the two wood elf brothers, Anoriath and Elrindir. She looked around for Adrianne, and saw her sitting on Ulfberth's lap. She smiled, wondering whether Adrianne had heeded her advice on spicing up their love life. Though by the way Ulfberth was looking at her, she was sure that it had worked.

Olfrid Battle-Born approached her, shouldering his way through the crowd. "Olfrid. Of the great clan Battle-Born." He boomed, thrusting his palm towards her. Rose took it, and gave it a firm squeeze, though it was a bit like shaking a dead fish. He prattled on for a few minutes, and Rose listened politely, though it went in one ear and out the other. Eventually, Olfrid 'of the great clan Battle-Born' wandered off, and Rose sighed in relief.

Eorland was leaning against a post, his muscular arms folded. His wife, Fralia, was trying to pry his arm loose—she might have wanted a cuddle. Eorland wasn't budging though—he wasn't the cuddly type. Rose smirked, and continued to take in the rest of the scene around her. She recognised most of the people in the mead hall —some were eating, some were drinking and laughing, and others were waiting for the music to start.

Suddenly, she heard the rousing sound of bagpipes—a rarity on Skyrim. She hadn't heard the bagpipes since she was a small girl, when a traveling bard had played in front of their house, hoping for payment. Her heart skipped a beat as she remembered her father swinging her mother around in their front garden, both of them laughing with glee as the piper played. Faster and faster he went, the hornpipe he was playing propelling their feet faster in time with his tempo. Rose smiled at the memory, and listened to the piper with one ear, the other ear listened to people chatting to her.

Eventually, the bagpipes were replaced with either a lute, a flute or a drum. Too much bagpipes could be annoying, as they were so loud. Rose welcomed the change; as much as she loved the bagpipes, they did get a bit overpowering after a time. She moved around the hall, talking with people. Farkas held her hand for just about the entire time, and she was glad for it. Being the centre of attention became tiresome after a while, and Farkas' familiar and homely presence made her feel more secure.

After an hour and half had passed, Rose keenly felt the need to get out of her armour and wash up. "I'm just going downstairs to get out of my armour, and wash me' sweaty armpits!" Rose quipped. "I'll be back in a little while."

"You don't want me to come and...wash you?" Farkas whispered seductively against her ear.

"I would love that, but then we wouldn't make it back upstairs for the rest of the party, because when you wash me, it takes a loooong time." Rose laughed, and walked away. She heard Farkas chuckle behind her, but he didn't follow.

As Rose walked passed the 'whelps' quarters, she heard a feminine cough. Her cheeks burned as she remembered Njada—she had all but forgotten about her in all the excitement of the evening. She made a split second decision to go in and see Njada, to see how she was going. Rose wanted to put the past behind her, and she wanted Njada to try to be the person she was meant to be. She knocked on the door, and called, "Njada?"

"What?" came the almost-snappy reply from the other side of the door.

"It's Rose. Can I come in?"

"If you have to." sighed Njada, and Rose gingerly opened the door. When Njada looked upon Rose, she sighed heavily and looked away. "What do you want, Rose?" she said softly.

"I ah...I didn't really plan on coming in, but I heard you cough and I thought I'd come and check to see if you're alright." Rose said, sitting on Ria's bed.

"Why do you care?" Njada whined, her arms folded.

"I care, because I'm the one who pushed for you to get a second chance when all the odds were against you." Rose said, feeling her temper rising. "I care, because if you stuff up again, you will suffer the worst punishment that was voted for. I care, because I don't think you're an evil person. I think that you need to sort out whatever is going on in your head, because it's not worth losing this second chance." Rose was almost shouting now—after a long and overwhelming day, her temper was fraying. She was beginning to regret popping in to see Njada—she did not need Njada's self-pity.

Njada finally looked at Rose then, and her eyes blinked a few times. "I don't understand how you can care, after all I've done." she whispered.

Rose took a few deep breaths to ward away the bollocking she wanted to give Njada, and she moved to sit by Njada. "You are a proud and capable warrior. You've achieved a lot with the Companions—"

"They won't include me in the Circle though, will they? I've been here for a lot longer than you, and then you waltz in and in no time and all, you're part of the Circle! What is with that?" Njada spat.

"I can't speak for Kodlak, or any of the other Circle members, so I'm not going to answer that. You just have to get over that jealousy; it doesn't become you. Just get back to being the warrior that you were, but leave off the bitchiness. Perhaps if you start being nice and having a bit of respect—you might find that the Circle members will take you more seriously." Rose huffed.

Njada sniffed, but didn't respond.

"Now. How are you faring, physically?"

"Physically...?" Njada looked perplexed as she turned her body towards Rose.

"Are you feeling hungry or thirsty?" Rose sighed.

Njada paused for a few moments before answering. "No."

"Bullshit. Come on, get some decent clothes on and go upstairs." Rose said, in an encouraging tone.

"I don't want to see anyone!"

"You haven't been given an second chance just to sit around on your cot all day! Be strong and throw yourself back into the fold. Go on!"

"Yeah, maybe I will." Njada's eyes shone for just a brief moment; there was hope yet. "Alright, rack off now." she joked, waving Rose away.

"Yeah, righteo. See you later, maybe." Rose smiled and left, closing the door behind her.

She breathed a sigh of relief as she headed towards her and Farkas' shared room. Once inside her room, she closed the door and leaned her back against it for a few minutes, reflecting on the conversation with Njada. A breakthrough of sorts...finally! It might not be so awkward between us now, she thought. She stripped off her armour, putting the pieces carefully on the table which was in the left corner, by the door. A bowl of fresh water had been placed on the bar, with a neatly folded cloth next to it. She dipped the cloth into the water, and began to wipe herself clean as best as she could. Next, she donned her favourite green dress and brushed her hair, leaving her long waves free once again.

Rose turned around to face the bed, sighing longingly. She would have loved to just collapse onto the soft bed, wrapped in Farkas' warm arms. With one last look at the bed, she turned to the door and made her way back to the party upstairs.


The party became rowdier as time went on; parents took their children home to bed, leaving the others to step the party up a notch. Skjor was dancing with Aela, and he was clearly drunk. He kissed Aela full on the mouth in an extremely rare display of affection. Aela gaped at him and then laughed, and then they were obscured from view when other dancers swept in front of them. Rose was perched in her favourite spot—Farkas' lap—as Ria raved on drunkenly about this and that. She found she couldn't concentrate on what Ria was saying, for several reasons - the first being that she was rather tired after her big day, the second being that Farkas' hands were alternately squeezing her hips and rubbing her back in a purposefully sensual way.

She was tempted to sneak away with Farkas and let him use his hands on her nakedness when suddenly, there was a loud whistle and the hall went quiet. Kodlak's commanding presence caught everyone's attention, and he cleared his throat. "As most of you know, Jon Battle-Born has studied at the Bard's College in Solitude. He has learned a new song, and would like you to be his audience," he turned to Jon Battle-Born and clapped him on the shoulder, "so please put your hands together for our friend Jon!"

The revelers gave a half-hearted round of applause and quieted down, ready to hear Jon Battle-Born sing his song. Rose was smiling, but when he began to sing his first verse, her heart all but stopped in her chest.

"Come over the hills, my bonnie Nordic lass
Come over the hills to your darling
You choose the road, love, and I'll make the vow
And I'll be your true love forever..."

Rose gasped, her hand flying to her mouth as tears flooded her eyes to roll down her cheeks. Farkas sensed her upset straight away, and turned her shoulders to pull her into his arms. "What's wrong, love?" he soothed, worried.

"This song...it was my parents' favourite song. My father used to sing it to my mother, and she would join in with a harmony..." Rose cried, trembling with the effort of holding back sobs. Memories of her beloved parents flooded her mind; some of the memories were so crystal-clear that it felt like yesterday that they had taken place. A sharp pang of longing speared her heart, and she wished fervently that they were right here, drinking and having fun with everyone. "I think I'd like to go outside for some air, if that's alright with you." She was so exhausted; the overwhelmingly emotional day as well as the copious amounts of mead and ale left her feeling a little fragile, and the memories that Jon's song brought sealed the deal.

"Sure. Do you want me to come?" Farkas said, stroking her hair lovingly.

"Yes, please do."

The pair walked out the back hand-in-hand, hoping that they weren't noticed and luckily, nobody was outside to annoy them. They moved to the grass near the entry to the Underforge, behind the archery targets. Farkas sat behind Rose and wrapped his arms around her, and the feel of his body wrapped around her gave her comfort. "Wanna talk about it?" Farkas said, once Rose had settled into his embrace.

Rose nodded. "Mum and Dad were so in love, you know. They met when my mum was only sixteen, and Dad was the ripe old age of twenty one. They were each other's first and last loves."

Just then, they heard a polite cough from the shadows. Vilkas emerged, sauntering over to them. "Mind if I sit?" he said.

"I don't mind, not at all. We were just talking about my parents." Rose said candidly, happy to share with her lover's twin. She patted the ground beside her and he sat, his body heat adding to the warmth that Farkas emitted.

Before long, Rose found herself telling Vilkas the story of her past. She told him about Hrondr and how he had left her, and she told him about the baby son he never met. Next, she told him about the crazy Thalmor who came and destroyed her family.

"What happened after you woke up from the fire, Rose?" Vilkas prodded gently, and Farkas' ears pricked up. He had wanted to know this himself, but he hadn't wanted to ask Rose for fear of upsetting her. He knew she would tell him eventually, though now, Vilkas was asking directly.

Rose took a deep breath and blew air out of her mouth. "After I miraculously woke up from the fire, I started to crawl away from the wreckage. At the time, my neighbours were dousing the flames with buckets of water from the stream. One of them saw me struggling, and then there was shouting, and people rushing to my aid. It's all rather hazy...I just...I vaguely remember being carried, and someone washing me with a cool, wet cloth. I remember someone spoon feeding me water, and then I must have fallen asleep." Rose nodded to herself, with her eyes closed as she recalled the events of the past. "When I was recovered enough, my neighbours helped me to bury—" she snapped her mouth shut; the memory was too painful to utter aloud.

Vilkas squeezed her hand as Farkas rocked her gently, stroking her head all the while. "You don't have to go on, if you don't want to." He soothed.

"It's alright, my love. I want to do this, I need to do this. I haven't spoken a word to anyone about this since it happened." She squeezed Vilkas' hand in return, and continued to let him hold hers. "After we cleared the wreckage, I set off to find a new life. I found work around many different farms and mines, and for a while, I even worked as a courier. I never stayed in one place for too long, for fear of that Thalmor bastard finding out that I was still alive. During this whole time, I practiced the fighting skills Dad taught me, with wooden swords. I saved up my money, and bought those two steel swords and the leather armour…all which are now somewhere in Blackreach."

She coughed, and took a sip of ale from Vilkas' bottle. "I did that for about seven years. From job to job, place to place. It's funny…the one time I stupidly bathed in the stream without my weapons and armour close at hand, was the time that that fucking elf found me." Rose spat. She heard the brothers' sharp intake of breath, but they offered no comment, sensing she still had more to say. "I had just put on some clothes and was about to walk back to the miner's shed that I'd been staying in when I was hit with a paralysis spell. I fell, like a lump of wood. I saw the elf and his cronies hovering over me, and I watched, helpless, as they told the other workers that I'd committed crimes against their silly Aldmeri Dominion! And then, they knocked me unconscious!" She cried, shaking her head.

The brothers growled in anger, and Farkas' grip around Rose tightened by degrees. "Where about were you when that happened?" Farkas said.

"Somewhere in Falkreath Hold close to the mountains, near the Cyrodiil border. I was toying with the idea of going to Cyrodill to see what sort of work I could find—but I was scared to leave Skyrim."

"Well, here are two brothers who are happy that you didn't go to Cyrodiil!" Vilkas chuckled. "So what happened after they got to you?"

"The next thing I remember is waking up in the back of a carriage headed for Helgen." In Rose's mind, she could hear the sound of the cart's wheels turning, and feel the jolting and jittering of the carriage along the bumpy, heavily used road.

"Helgen? That's the place that was destroyed by the first dragon to appear!" Vilkas exclaimed.

"Mmhm, that's right. It wasn't just any dragon; it was the World-Eater." Rose paused to let that sink in. "I do not know why he chose to burn Helgen, but after that, he set about resurrecting other dragons.

An uproar of laughter, followed by clapping and cheering from inside the mead hall could be heard, and the three Companions sat in silence until the noise died down.

"So - let me get this straight. Hrondr was one of the most outspoken of rebels, and had managed to drum up a huge amount of support, wiping out many of the Thalmor outposts around Skyrim. Obviously the Thalmor wanted him dead. So why did they do that to you and your family?" Vilkas asked, once all was quiet again.

"They were probably certain that they would find him at our house, and when they received no luck in questioning us, the leader of their band lost his temper and burned the place down." Rose whispered hoarsely, as tears rolled down her cheeks. "He was probably after having his position threatened by his boss." she hissed bitterly.

"It seems to me that this elf...this murderer, needs to be tracked down and killed." Vilkas' eyes flashed golden for just an instant.

"Yes. Yes it does." The three fell silent again for several moments, all of them processing things in their minds.

"So after Alduin came to Helgen, what happened to you?" Farkas murmured, his lips pressed against her neck.

Rose could see Alduin in her mind's eye, perched atop a tower. It was a surreal, yet frightening scene - his black wings and his red eyes, menacing and cruel, staring down at the people in the courtyard below. Rose told the twins how his appearance had saved her from getting her head cut off, and she told them how the World-Eater had then burned almost everyone alive.

"An Imperial soldier named Hadvar helped me to escape. He led me through a tower, a dungeon...and finally a maze of interconnecting caves. Stormcloak soldiers attacked us, but we managed to escape without killing many of them." Rose said, feeling a strange sense of detachment. The events at Helgen seemed like so long ago now, almost like it was a different life. The men waited for her to continue. "Anyway. Luckily there was an exit, in the end. It was reasonably close to the main road, which we followed until we made it back to Riverwood. It was also close to the place where I had been snatched, so I was able to fetch my stuff. Pretty lucky, hey?"

She told them how Hadvar had given her some tucker and a bed for the night, and then she'd started on her way to Whiterun. "And that's when I found out I was Dragonborn. Another dragon had been resurrected just moments before I encountered it - it was very weak, so I was able to kill it before it had managed to garner its strength. When I absorbed his soul, I knew immediately that I was Dragonborn. Mum and Dad used to say that I had royal blood in me from my mother's side, as her mother's grandfather was said to have been the bastard child of some Septim-or-other and his favourite maid. We had a few history books that told of people with royal blood lines, who were said to be able to absorb 'power' from the dragons they slew - they were called 'Dragonborn', hmm. I was always fascinated with the subject...I must have known deep down, that I carried this same blood in my veins."

"So what did you do then, and were you scared?" Vilkas said.

"Hmmph...yes, I did a girly scream and ran the rest of the way to Whiterun with my arms flailing." Rose quipped sarcastically, rolling her eyes. "Then, I came to Dragonsreach and told the Jarl about the dragon attack on Helgen, gods...it was hard to get him to believe me. Next, I got talked into finding a dragonstone in an ancient nordic ruin. I found my first Word Wall then, and I absorbed knowledge from it - the first Word of my first Shout. The Greybeards must have felt it; the ground shook beneath me, and I could hear disembodied voices calling, 'Dovahkiin!'"

"I remember hearing the Greybeards calling! It was amazing, everyone went nuts! Some people were excited and others were frightened. It was a very intense moment." Vilkas recalled.

"I can imagine! To make a long story short, I raced back to Farengar and then, I went off to High Hrothgar. They taught me the two remaining Words of this Shout I had learned, as well as another Shout which allows me to move at great speed."

"Really? I didn't know that you could do that!" Farkas exclaimed, surprised.

"Oh...I have only used it once, apart from the time they taught it to me. It makes me feel a bit crook in the guts!" Rose joked.

"Can you give us a demo?" Vilkas said, poking her shoulder.

"No way! I told you, it makes me feel crook!"

"Who cares? Don't be a wimp. Go on!" Vilkas nagged, pulling her to her feet. The mood began to lighten, thanks to Vilkas' teasing - he didn't like to see Rose with tears streaming down her cheeks any more than his brother did.

"Wimp? Put up your fists boy, I'll show you who the wimp is!" she laughed, pushing Vilkas' head.

Farkas stood up then, and joined in the teasing. "Yeah, come on Rose! Show us the Shout!" he cried, squeezing Rose's hips. He leaned in close to her. "There'll be somethin' special in it for ya." he cooed, slapping her arse.

"Oh...go 'way out of that! You can't offer yourself to me as enticement, because all I have to do is tie you up when you're not expecting it and fu—"

Vilkas yelled something unintelligible to stop the direction of her words. "Shout!" he commanded, pointing at her and making Rose laugh again.

"If I chuck, you can clean it up." she growled playfully. "Now stand aside!" Rose assumed the stance, and prepared her mind for the Shout.

"You can do it!" Farkas called, using a silly high-pitched voice. Rose stifled a laugh, and concentrated.

"WULD!" Zoom, across the courtyard she went, and found herself almost knocked unconscious when she crashed heavily against a training dummy. She could hear the twins laughing uproariously as they approached her.

"That was great!" Vilkas said, snorting with laughter.

"Are you alright love?" Farkas chuckled, pulling her to her feet and into his arms.

"No thanks to you two idiots, yes I am." she grumbled, cheeks flaming.

Apart from a little nauseated, she did feel great, however. Having told her tale to the people closest to her, she felt like an immense weight had been lifted from her shoulders. Farkas sensed her ease, and a gleam of pride shone in his eyes as he smiled at her.

"I love you." she whispered, before lifting her face to brush her lips against his.

"I love you too, Rose. Let's go to our room." he winked, gripping both of her arse cheeks roughly.

Heat bloomed in her lower abdomen, and she unconsciously bit her bottom lip. "Mmm...yes, let's..."

"Yuck! I'm going back to the party!" Vilkas yelled, jogging back inside.

Farkas and Rose chuckled at Vilkas' reaction to their behaviour, and then they went inside. Rose was happy to notice that Njada sat at the table with Athis, guzzling a bottle of ale and looking more like her old self. Rose and Farkas tried to sneak past the crowd, but of course, how could a great bear of a man like Farkas go unnoticed? They were cornered three times before they finally managed to get into the living quarters.


Rose was about to make a comment about finally getting some privacy, when suddenly, Farkas picked her up bridal-style. Rose whooped with delight, and Farkas strode purposely to their room. Once there, he all but kicked the door open, and slammed it shut behind them. Rose looked up at Farkas, and her heart fluttered when she noticed that all traces of humour had left his face. His piercing eyes bore into hers as he dropped her onto the bed, wasting not a moment before he hurriedly removed his armour, and his undershirt.

Rose's loins ached as she watched him undress; she never tired of seeing his broad shoulders and strong chest. Pure man, she thought, as her eyes trailed over his body and down his heavily muscled arms. "Come here." she whispered, her arms outstretched. The look of raw, unbidden desire in his eyes made her breath hitch, and her nipples harden under her dress.

Farkas hummed low in his throat as he knelt on the bed before her, and he let his hands run up over her thighs, under her dress. "My beautiful woman." he said, crawling upwards until one knee was outside of her thigh, and the other thigh was pressed lightly against her heat. He lowered himself against her, holding his weight on his elbows. "Rose..." he whispered, and then pushed his tongue into her mouth deeply, causing her to whimper with lust. He rocked his hips against her, grinding his rock hard erection against her clothed mound.

She moaned lewdly into his mouth and pressed her hips against his, desperate for friction. "Take off my dress..." she breathed, reaching between them to undo the tie of his pants.

Once they were undone, Farkas all but tore his pants off, and lifted her dress up over head. His cock throbbed hotly when her womanly, curvaceous body was revealed. Her milk-pale skin shone in the candlelight, begging to be licked and kissed. He was itching to thrust into her, to slake his thirst, but he afforded himself a few moments to taste her skin. He hovered above her, the heat from his body so warm, so inviting. Rose arched her back as his lips found her nipple to kiss and lick slowly, teasingly, before moving over to the other one and doing the same. She threaded her hands in his hair as he reverently placed kisses, and dragged the tip of his tongue sensually, over the parts of her that he knew drove her wild.

He knelt between her knees and pushed her thighs apart vehemently, and he couldn't help the groan that escaped as he spied her glistening sex. "So sexy..." he groaned, as a pearlescent bead of moisture leaked from his rigid member.

Rose felt deliciously exposed as Farkas studied her, his gaze predatory and hungry. She gasped as his eyes slowly took in every inch of her, and when they honed in on her sopping womanhood once again, Rose saw his tongue come out to lick his lips. He leaned down then, and without warning, dragged the flat of his tongue up the length of her slit. When his tongue arrived at her hardened nub, he kissed her there as though he was kissing her mouth. "By the gods - " she hissed, clutching at his hair once again.

Farkas growled against her swollen flesh, and the intense bolts of desire that shot up through her body caused her to buck her hips involuntarily, against his face. Farkas thrust his middle finger into her entrance, pushing it in deep and slow as his tongue swirled and flicked. Her legs shook; she felt so, so close to tipping over the edge, but he held her teetering on the brink. She thrust her hips against his face again, holding his head in place with her hands. When she pulled his hair a little too hard, Farkas growled sharply; a warning, and he grazed his teeth against her engorged clitoris. "Aaaanhh!" she cried, grinding herself feverishly against his sensuous mouth. "Farkas!" wailed Rose, as the release she so desperately sought tore through her system. She heard Farkas grunt as he lifted himself, crawling upwards until his hips were level with hers.

He pressed his lips against hers once again. "Can you taste yourself?" he murmured, against her lips.

"Yes."

He groaned as he simultaneously thrust his tongue into her mouth, and his cock into her eager warmth. "Did you like it when I did that to you?" he whispered sultrily.

"I loved it." she cooed.

Farkas slipped one arm underneath her, his hand pressing against the small of her back. His other hand was threaded in her hair, holding her head in place as he nibbled along her jaw, her earlobe and then the curve of her neck. He wanted to go slow, to draw it out, but his wolf had other ideas. Being the strong-willed man that he was, his human side won out - for a short while. He set a slow, deep rhythm - he would pull out all the way and push back in slow and deep, watching the way Rose's eyelids fluttered and the way her lips parted. But then she spoke—

"Fuck me, Farkas." she moaned, kneading his arse.

—and his werewolf's baser instincts took over. He growled softly as he obeyed, slamming his hips against hers. The sounds that she made spurred him on, fuelling his body with a passionate energy that spoke to him on a primal level, and he vaguely thanked his lucky stars that the moon was not yet full. "Is that what you want?" his voice was rough and deep, all by itself causing shivers to spread all over her body.

She nodded, her hands stroking his chest, his face and his arms. "Please..."

The handsome warrior sat up and gripped her hips, lifting them slightly as he pushed back into her. The new angle sent shockwaves through her, and she smiled in anticipation for the increase of bliss to come. Her smiling expression turned into one of surprise as he obliged her wishes, his hips slamming into hers fast and hard, just how she wanted it. His cock felt so hard and hot inside her, and she came again, almost straight away. Farkas' pace did not abate, however, and he continued to drive into her. His lips were pulled back over his teeth and his brow furrowed in concentration, and sweat dribbled down his temples as he fucked her mercilessly. The erotic sight drove Rose close to the edge yet again; his raw, masculine beauty a wondrous sight to behold.

Farkas growled almost continuously as he let his wolf instincts climb a little closer to the surface, and the sight of her breasts bouncing as he pounded her made him only want to go harder. He watched as Rose braced her palms against the headboard, supporting herself so that she could keep her hips in place. Every time she cried his name, every moan and whimper she made, and every facial expression he saw brought him closer to the edge. He pulled her legs against his chest and leaned forward, and he was able to kiss her as he drove in deeper still.

Rose did fall over the edge then, scratching and digging her nails into the hard flesh of his shoulders, losing her mind for just a few brief moments as she climaxed. Farkas felt her walls clamp around his cock, convulsing and milking, and he could not hold his orgasm back any longer. He groaned huskily against her lips as his seed shot into her at high velocity, and he continued to buck his hips until he was spent. Sweat poured from him, coating Rose in it, making them both slippery. His limbs felt rubbery and weak, and he gently lowered himself onto the bed beside her. Rose snuggled into his arms, and they both lay there panting for several moments.

No words were spoken - their bond was so deep that they could almost hear each other's drifting, aimless thoughts, and they rode the wave of their thoughts until sleep came to them to heal their twitching, exhausted bodies.

Well, there's another huuuuge chapter. I hoped it was to your liking! Thanks for all of your reviews so far—they all put a big smile on my face and help to encourage me to keep going. Thank you also to those who have favourited and followed, and for the guest reviewers who left those lovely reviews! :)

 

Chapter Text

G'day folks! So sorry for the long wait! It's Winter here, and my three little cuties have had lots of colds. Thankfully there are hints of Spring appearing here and there!

I hope you enjoy this chapter - it is shorter, but it is a bit more lighthearted. :)


In the morning, when all of the Companions were sitting down to breakfast, the conversation turned to the fight with the dragon—Mirmulnir—at Western Watchtower.

"His bones are still there, I saw them when I was last out." Athis said.

"Ooh, really? We should all go for a stroll after breaky and have a look!" Skjor said, tapping his spoon on the table.

Njada was smiling and nodding enthusiastically. Rose grinned at her—she felt so happy to see that Njada was up and about, though she was still pale and trembled occasionally. "Yeah, that's a good idea. We can't all go at once, though. Njada, Ria, you girls come with me and then the lads can go after that."

"Sounds good to me." Njada shrugged, and Ria nodded enthusiastically as she fed herself a spoonful of oats.

"Mmm, you're not going without me." Farkas grumbled, looking sideways at Rose.

"Alright then, you can come with us and carry our stuff!" Rose chirped, eyes twinkling. In response, Farkas pulled a funny face, making Rose laugh. How he makes me laugh with the simplest of things, she thought with a smile.

"I've got a great idea! How about we take some of the bones and scales as souvenirs?" Torvar suggested.

"Yes! And you know, if we bring home enough of them, we can make armour from them as well." Rose said, winking.

For the next thirty minutes or so, everyone rushed around, excitedly gathering packs and getting their armour on. Not a hangover was to be seen in the hall that day—except for Torvar, of course; he was always hungover, unless he'd had a drink.

The sky was blue, but the pale sun gave off only paltry warmth. Rose was glad for her warm fur-lined jacket as they made their way past the Gildergreen. Ria chatted away without pause, and Rose couldn't help but smile happily at her innocent ramblings. Ria was just so cute, and Rose often thought of her as the little sister she never had. Her yapping also dispelled any awkward tension that Njada may have emitted, though it was plain for all to see that Njada was doing her best to change her attitude.

Finally, they arrived at the ruins of the watchtower where the dragon's skeleton still remained. There were a few people hanging about, sifting through the rubble for trinkets and coins, and others were marvelling over the dragon skeleton. Farkas and the ladies set to work snapping off scales and separating the smaller bones, and before long, their packs were full to overflowing. The other lads would need to get a horse and cart to bring back the bigger bones.

On the way home, Rose noticed that Njada was struggling to carry her pack. She was hunched over, her face pinched with pain."Njada, you look like you're in pain." Rose said, touching her cheek.

Njada flinched slightly at Rose's touch, and scowled. "I'm alright. Let's go." she huffed, making a valiant effort to stand up straight, but she could not hide the grimace as she adjusted her pack.

Ria wasn't about to let Njada get away with her bravado, however. "Njada, put your pack down." she said sternly.

"Ria...I can handle it, it's—"

"Now!" Ria snapped, and Njada's eyes widened as she obeyed. Her pack fell to the ground with a loud clang and clatter, and a few bones spilled out of the top. "Let me see." she said, stepping towards Njada.

"Don't, Ria." Njada hissed, wrapping her arms tightly around her chest. "Leave it."

Undeterred, Ria prised Njada's arms away from her chest. She loosened Njada's cuirass enough that she could peer inside, and she did not like what she saw. She wrinkled her nose in disgust, and pulled her face away sharply. "You haven't been putting the salve on your chest wounds, have you?" Ria growled.

Njada didn't answer her, but she didn't need to—the look on Njada's face was all the answer that Ria needed. Rose was curious, but she didn't want to make Njada any more uncomfortable than she already was. "Maybe I can help...? I learned a healing spell." she offered.

"It's going to take a lot more than a healing spell, Rose. No offense. She needs to go to Danica—her wounds are infected." Ria groaned, rubbing her temples.

"May I ask what happened?" Rose said softly.

"I...harmed myself when I was in the cells. I was in a bad head-space, ya know..." Njada's voice trailed off; she needn't have said any more, because it was obvious.

Rose nodded sympathetically, and an uncomfortable silence ensued. Farkas busied himself with pushing the items back into Njada's pack as quietly as possible, and then he shouldered the extra pack with ease, as though the bag was only full of fluff.

All three women were trying to think of something to say when they heard the distinct roar of a dragon. The sound came from the direction of Dragonsreach, and Rose's heart stopped in her chest.

"Odahviing!" she cried, hoping that the dragon wasn't losing his temper. "I have to go, I have to get up there!"

"Leave your pack Rose, I'll manage it." Farkas said, pulling her pack from her shoulders before planting a sloppy, quick kiss on her lips. "Go!"

Rose waited not another moment. "WULD!" she Shouted, surging forward along the path. The nausea caused by that Shout was moiling in her guts, but she ignored it.

She continued to use the Shout until she arrived at the main gate, and then she ran the rest of the way to the keep. A guard yelled at her as she passed him by, warning her not to Shout as it made the locals uncomfortable. She ignored him, as well as others who tried to greet the normally-friendly Dragonborn.

She burst through the massive door to the keep, rushing past guards and cleaners. Several of them warned her not to enter the Great Porch because the dragon inside was having a temper tantrum, but once they realised who she was, they let her enter.

The first thing Rose noticed was Farengar sprawled on his arse, trying his best to back away from the irate dragon. "I—I—I'm sorry! I just wanted to sample—"

"Pah! You pathetic—"

"Odahviing!" Rose yelled, using her best teacher/parent/boss voice. The dragon's toothy maw snapped close upon hearing her yell, and his fiery gaze swung to her.

"Ah. Greetings, dovahkiin. How may I help you?" he said politely, the amiable tone completely different to the angry growl he'd been using on the poor court wizard.

Rose bit back a chuckle at the dragon's comical change of mood, and moved closer to him. "Greetings, Odahviing. Are you having some difficulties?"

"Yes. This sahlo...this weakling here has been torturing me since you left me in here!" he grumbled.

"Oh? How so?" Rose said, folding her arms across her chest.

"He's been taking small pieces of my viing...my wings, for his abominable experiments!"

Rose looked around, and noticed several scorch marks across the stone floor. "Have you been YOLLING?" she quipped, pointing to the marks.

"All I wanted was a small piece, just one...small...piece..." Farengar whined, rising to his feet.

"You shut up!" Rose snapped, poking him in the chest. She'd never liked the smart-arse wizard, and his whining only served to anger her. "I expressly forbade anyone to inflict injury upon him! He is to carry me to Skuldafn! How is he supposed to do that successfully, if he has holes in his bloody wings?" she hissed furiously. Her cheeks were red, and beads of sweat trickled down her temples. "You were supposed to fix his wings, not bloody well cut bits out of them, you bloody dipstick! You will fix his wings, and you will get started right now!" She balled her fists and turned away from the dumbfounded court wizard, effectively dismissing him.

Odahviing was making a deep huffing sound, and it piqued Rose's curiosity. "Are you laughing, Odahviing?" Rose groaned, hands on hips.

"Do not be concerned, dovahkiin. I am merely amused to see my vaarnufaaziik—my tormentor—reduced to a grovelling mess beneath your feet!" the dragon boomed, followed by more laughter.

Rose could not stifle the giggle that came forth, and she found herself quickly taking a liking to this dragon. "Well, Odahviing. I'm glad that you are having a bit of a laugh. Now. Are you being fed enough?"

"As well as can be expected, mal dovah. Though it won't be long until Whiterun's entire livestock is inside my belly!" he joked.

Rose stroked his cold, hard nose, earning a long exhale of appreciation. "I must be going. I am sorry that Farengar couldn't help himself, but please try not to roast him. Wanker though he may be, he is a very useful wizard."

"What is a wanker?"

"Oh, a dickhead." Rose grinned, nodding.

"Dickhead?"

Rose let out a mock exasperated sigh. "He's a silly bugger. A dingbat. An eejit." she teased, knowing the dragon had no clue what she was on about.

"Krosis. Your strange human speech is beyond me!" Odahviing shook his head slowly, from side to side.

"I'll see you later, fahdon dovah." she laughed, leaving the perplexed dragon behind.


The following day, Rose and Farkas sat on stools at the Skyforge. Eorland was running his fingers reverently over a dragon bone, discussing with them how he intended to make armour out of it. Farkas was very interested in what Eorland was saying—over the years he'd spent countless hours watching the man work, learning tips and tricks from him. Deep down, Farkas craved the simple, yet rewarding life of a blacksmith.

Rose's mind, meanwhile, began to drift. Thoughts of Njada were first in her mind; she hoped that Danica had been able to heal the infected gashes on Njada's chest. Suddenly, with a sharp stab of shame, she remembered the soldier who was badly burnt. Shor's bones, I haven't even given the man more than a mere a thought since the fight, she thought. Her cheeks burned, and she stood up.

"What's the matter, hmm?" Farkas said, his deep, comforting baritone for once not calming her sudden emotion.

"I have to go to the temple of Kynareth. I have to go and see the soldier who was injured." she whispered, tears welling in her eyes. "Here I've been, having a great ol' time while the poor man lies there in agony. He was injured carrying out my plan."

"Hush, love. It's not your fault. He was doing his duty." Farkas soothed, standing up and wrapping his arms around her. "But you go and see him. Do you want me to come along?" he said, stroking her hair.

"No...it's alright, my darling. Stay here with Eorland. I will be back later."

"Okay. Love you." Farkas squeezed her shoulders gently before he released her.

"I love you as well. See you later." she turned to Eorland. "Thanks for your time, Eorland. See you next time."

"Yeah, Rose. See you."

Rose jogged all the way to the temple without stopping, and entered through the door. She nodded to Njada who was lying comfortably on a pallet, reading a book. She would see the soldier first.

Acolyte Jenssen noticed Rose then, and greeted her politely. He informed Rose that the soldier's name was Petr, and then led her to the man she sought. Rose thanked him, and he prudently stepped away to give them space. She swallowed a sob upon noticing his injuries; to see him so disfigured—his face was reddened, covered in weeping blisters and peeling layers of skin. His torso and his left arm were wrapped in linen bandages, and she imagined his legs were too, though there was a sheet covering his lower half. She knelt by his pallet and stroked a small, remaining patch of hair tenderly, and after a moment he opened his eyes and shifted his gaze to the source of the comforting touch.

"Rose." the man whispered hoarsely. "Nice to see you."

"And you as well, Petr. How are you feeling?" Rose tried to keep her tone from wavering—she was touched by his happiness at seeing her, though she felt she didn't deserve it.

"Oh...I could be better," he croaked, "though it doesn't hurt, you know. I don't feel a thing. I just feel...tight, and hot." He tried to shift position, but the bandaging and the swelling under his bandages made it difficult. "She's been peeling dead skin off me, you know. She does that, and then she does a healing spell. She makes me drink all different sorts of potions, most of which taste horrid! She keeps putting these bowls of steaming liquid around me, and the smell of it makes me want to vomit. I'll never like lavender again. Don't get me wrong, I'm very grateful for the treatment and care she gives me but...I just know that I'll never be as I was, despite it all. I'd rather die, than stay like this." he cried softly.

The compassion and empathy she felt for this man created a surge of warmth to bloom in her chest. She directed the path of this warmth down her arms, and concentrated the warmth into her palms. She allowed her hands to hover over him; one over his cheek, and the other over his chest. She knew that her healing spell was paltry in comparison to Danica's talent, and Danica—according to Jenssen—had been working hard to repair the burns. However, she hoped that her little spell would at least give him some comfort.

"That's lovely..." he whispered, closing his eyes.

Rose smiled, but said nothing. She knew how difficult—if not impossible—deep burns like these were to heal; his nerve endings were dead, and new skin would not grow without intensive treatment from a skilled healer. Danica was his only hope, but if she failed...he would remain like this, and most likely die. With his dermal and epidermal layers destroyed like this, his body was open to any and all types of infection.

"Go to sleep, Petr." she whispered, continuing her warming spell as he drifted into sleep. "Shh..."

Danica quietly approached, bringing a steaming bowl of lavender-infused water. She placed it on the stool beside his pallet, and wafted the steam over his face with a wave of her hands. "The burns must be kept moist." she whispered, as golden warmth erupted from her palms. "Do not exhaust yourself, Dragonborn."

Rose nodded understanding. "When he wakes, tell him...tell him that if he ever needs me, I will do my best." Rose stood. Her healing spell fizzled out, leaving a prickling cold sensation in its wake. "And thank you, Danica."

"Very well." Danica mumbled, quickly becoming absorbed in concentration.

Rose quietly made her way over to Njada, and smiled as she sat on the stool by her pallet. "How's it going?"

"Yeah, not bad. It's pretty much better—she's going to give me one last healing treatment and then I can go home. I suppose after she's given Petr some healing she'll have to let her magicka restore before I get another turn." Njada said, putting her book down.

"Whatcha readin'?" Rose said, picking up the book. "Whiterun Home Decorating Guide?" Rose exclaimed, perplexed.

Njada snorted, and shrugged her shoulders. "Nothin' else to read in this damned joint."

"Do you want me to bring in something for you?"

"Nah. Bugger off now, need to sleep." Njada grumbled, closing her eyes.

Rose laughed and ruffled Njada's hair, much to the other woman's horror. "Bye, bitch." Rose joked, and stood to leave. She saw a smile creep up on Njada's face, but she didn't open her eyes again.

Rose arrived back at Jorrvaskr with a much lighter feeling in her heart. Farkas noticed it straight away; his wolf senses picking up her light mood. He embraced her before guiding her to the tables for a bit of tucker. "How did it go? Did you see Njada as well?"

"Yeah, she's alright. She'll be home later, or tomorrow morning at the latest. She's got to have one more healing treatment, but Danica will need to let her power restore first. As for Petr..." Rose shook her head sadly. "He is pretty badly off. Danica is doing her best—if anyone can help him, it'll be her. She's having to peel the dead skin away and give him intense healing to try to encourage new skin to grow. But his nerves are dead, and he will never feel—or look—the same. He says he wants to die."

"Poor bastard..." Farkas said, shaking his head. He squeezed Rose's hand reassuringly.

After they ate, Farkas led her downstairs for some much-needed cuddle time. Rose never felt more at peace than she did after making love with Farkas—the feel of his warm skin, and the strength and weight of his arms around her was a feeling of bliss that no words could describe. She sighed contentedly against his furry chest as he nuzzled her hair lovingly. "I love you so, so much." she whispered.

Suddenly, Farkas lifted his head. Rose looked askance at him, but said nothing. He appeared to be listening, and Rose gathered that his enhanced senses were picking up something that she couldn't sense.

"There's someone new here." he said, gently extricating his arms from around Rose. "Let's go see."

"Oh man...I really was so comfy!" Rose grumbled, sitting up.

They got dressed and put their armour on, and made their way up to the mead hall. A heated argument was being had just inside the front door, and judging by Athis' posture, he was questioning the woman standing in front of him.

"...to prove myself, you can go up and ask the Jarl!" the sturdy-looking brunette was growling at Athis, and she was clearly exasperated.

Rose first noticed the large pack she was carrying with ease—and then she noticed the ornaments scattered on the ground. She deduced that the woman had knocked them off the display stand with her pack.

"Excuse me, but what's going on here?" Rose asked, approaching them.

"I am looking for the Thane. I am to be her new housecarl." the woman said, squaring her shoulders.

"Well, that's me! So you're Lydia!" Rose exclaimed, a smile as genuine as Lydia had ever seen, lighting up her face.

"Yes, my Thane. At your service!" she drawled, rolling her eyes pointedly at Athis.

"Was Athis giving you a hard time?" Rose said, raising her eyebrows at Athis. Athis shrugged and shook his head.

"It's no big deal. I'm here now, and you know I'm here. So. Where do you want me?" Lydia said, swinging her body towards Rose. As she turned, her pack hit a pillar with a thud, causing it to vibrate slightly.

"Watch it!" someone growled.

Lydia grimaced, but said nothing. Rose shook her hand, noting with approval how strong Lydia's grip was.

"Hmm. Well, I do have a home—Breezehome—but I haven't got any furniture or anything in it as yet. I suppose I can ask Kodlak if you can sleep in the whelp's quarters for now, seeing as how there are plenty of spare beds. First, however, I'd like to introduce you to everyone. Drop your pack here, and we'll put it in your room later."

"It's alright, I can take it for you." Athis said, hefting the pack with no small bit of difficulty.

"Hmm, thanks. Don't fall down the stairs!" Lydia said, her tone mildly sarcastic.

Athis only grunted in response, and then carefully made his way down to the living quarters without another word.

Rose chuckled and then led Lydia around Jorrvaskr, introducing her to everybody. She saved Kodlak for last, as he was busy studying his notes in his quarters. He was happy to have her stay in the whelp's quarters, but insisted that she undertake some duties to pay her way. Lydia was only too happy to oblige.

"What'll you have me do first, Kodlak?" Lydia said.

"Oh...you can dust the shelves in the mead hall. Our maid—Tilma—has a sore shoulder, so it would be of great benefit to her if she didn't have to lift her arm."

Rose noticed Lydia's cheeks turn red, and the flash of hurt in her eyes. Lydia only tipped her head respectfully, however. Rose supposed that the warrior was struggling to come to terms with her new role as it was, let alone being reduced to the maid's helper.

"It won't be for long, Lydia. Once I've earned some more money, we'll be able to put some furniture in Breezehome and you can live there." Rose said, after Kodlak had dismissed them.

"What do you mean by, 'you can live there', are you not going to live there too? I'm supposed to be your housecarl." Lydia grumbled.

"Well...it's difficult. Farkas and I are betrothed, and this is his home. Though I am the Dragonborn, I consider myself a Companion first and foremost. This is my home."

"Well then, why did you buy Breezehome?"

"It was before Farkas and I got together." Rose softly said, cheeks burning. "Being appointed a housecarl was very unexpected, and I haven't really had a chance to think about the implications. We'll work it out, don't worry." she reassured.

"Oh...kay."

Rose took Lydia to the whelp's quarters, where Athis had dumped her pack. She mumbled something about that 'bloody Dark Elf' under her breath, and Rose smirked. She didn't quite know what to make of this burly, sarcastic housecarl as yet, but she had a good feeling about her. She told Lydia to unpack her things and get acquainted with the room, and that when she was ready, to come up and have something to eat.

"I'll leave you to it." Rose said.

"Thank you, my Thane." Lydia said.

She watched her Thane leave the room, pleased that Rose seemed like a nice person. She placed her sword and shield on the weapons rack, and then unpacked a few of her belongings. She put some smaller items such as her hairbrush and makeup in the small beside table, and everything else she tossed in the chest at the foot of her bed. She would sort it out properly later on—the promise of food overruled anything else at this point in time. Her empty pack she kicked under her bed, and then she nodded in satisfaction.

Soon, she was finally sitting at the table with a plate of hot food, stacked up high. She wasn't sure if she'd be able to eat it all, but she'd give it her best shot. She sighed happily as she stabbed as many slices of roast beef as she could fit onto her fork, and then swirled it around in the puddle of gravy on her plate. Just as she was bringing the dripping mouthful to her lips, Athis plonked down beside her.

"What do you want?" she groaned.

"We got off on the wrong foot, and I wanted to apologise." Athis said, holding out his hand.

For a moment, all Lydia did was stare at his outstretched hand. She was severely torn between having that mouthful or being polite and accepting the elf's apology. She gave in to the latter, and Athis' shoulders sagged in relief.

"Alright, then?" she said, hoping that he'd get the hint and let her get back to her food.

"Alright. Maybe I'll see you later, huh?" Athis said, rising from his chair.

"Yeah." Lydia wasted no more time; she stuffed the fork into her mouth, and moaned aloud at the taste.

Athis stopped dead in his tracks at the sound—her moan went straight to his balls, and he dared not look at Lydia for fear that she'd see the lusty grin on his face. "Blimey." he whispered, walking quickly away. What a woman! he thought.


Njada waited patiently for Danica to give her her final treatment. She closed her eyes, and images flitted beneath her eyelids. Some of the images were of her psychotic mother, and it caused a pang of anxiety to shoot down her nerves. She shivered, and calmed herself with some deep breaths. She would not continue to let her mother rule her; it was time to move on and rise above it.

Rose's smiling face entered her mind then, and she allowed herself to explore her mixed feelings towards the woman. Njada was very grateful for the chance that Rose had afforded her—had it not been for Rose, Njada may very well be dead now. She thought about the cause of her initial dislike of Rose; if Njada hadn't have been in love with Farkas, she mightn't have felt such vehement hatred towards Rose. Njada thought about this for a long time, and it occurred to her that since realising her feelings for Farkas, she had allowed her hopes and dreams for a life with Farkas to drive her every move, every waking thought. She'd lived and breathed with Farkas in her thoughts, and it was clear to her now that it wasn't love, as much as it was obsession. Farkas was everything that her mother was not—he was warmth, safety and calm understanding, and he was patience, protection and love.

She realised that having a man like Farkas in her life was not the answer to all of her problems; her problems would still be there, and Farkas would never be able to heal her. Only she could heal herself, and then she would be able to find happiness and fulfillment. The other thing she realised was that directing her anger towards Rose would not make her feel better, and it would not lessen her pain.

Njada felt lighter than she'd ever felt in all her life, as she processed this new direction her thoughts and feelings took. I don't need a man to live for—I need me! I have the love of my friends, and my Companion family. I will be the woman that my mother could never be.

She considered Rose again, and instead of the woman who inspired hot jealousy in Njada, she saw a friend.


So there you have it. Njada is heading in the right direction, and Lydia has made her grand entrance. In the next chapter, there will be some good ol' Companions quests (with Lydia and Farkas in tow...lots of fun to be had), and Odahviing will be one step closer to being able to take Rose to Skuldafn! I'm so excited about that; it feels like I am going there, hahaha!

Chapter Text

G'day Everyone!

Sooooo very sorry for keeping ye all waiting for such a long time! Thanks as always for all who have read, favourited, followed and left reviews on this story, it's nice to know that people are enjoying it!

I hope you enjoy this chapter! :)


In the morning, Lydia woke up to an almost empty room. Ria and the old maid Tilma had already gotten out of bed to begin their morning activities. She looked over to the bed adjacent to her, and saw the sleeping form of Njada rolled up in a blanket. Ah, so that's who came in last night, recalled Lydia. Though Njada had been very careful not to make too much noise, Lydia—and no doubt Ria—had woken up to the light noises, thanks to their warrior training.

She had listened to the woman stripping off her clothes and climbing into bed with a happy sigh, and had gathered that the woman was one of the Companions; most likely Njada. She quietly slipped out of bed, hoping that she didn't wake her—if the rumours about Njada's treatment of new people were true, she'd be best off to avoid the woman for the time being.

Lydia breathed a sigh of relief as she made to close the door behind her, but her relief was short-lived.

"And who in Oblivion are you?" Njada spat, snatching the door to prevent it from being closed.

"I'm Lydia, Rose's housecarl. You must be Njada." Lydia sighed, trying her best to keep her voice neutral as she held out her hand to the human sabre-cat.

Njada's eyes narrowed as she took in Lydia's appearance; her eyes travelling from Lydia's head to her feet. Lydia frowned at Njada's open scrutiny, but she was not willing to pick a fight with one of her Thane's comrades.

"You look like you might know how to fight." Njada stated, nodding imperceptibly.

"I used to be one of the Jarl's personal guards, and I—"

"Good. Go get some breakfast and then meet me outside in the training yard. I wanna see what skills you have." Njada said, cutting Lydia short. She effectively dismissed Lydia as she brushed past her, leaving Lydia to gape wordlessly after her.

"Yeah...nice to meet you too..." Lydia squeaked, under her breath.


When Lydia entered the training yard, Njada was already waiting for her. She was leaning against the far wall with her arms crossed, a look of impatience on her face. The soft rain that fell on her eyelashes did nothing to lessen the sharpness of her expression. Her shield leaned against the wall beside her. Unbeknownst to Lydia, Rose and Farkas—who had risen early to get a couple of hours of hard training in—had warned Njada to be nice to Lydia, and not to fall into her old habits of being nasty to people.

Njada watched Lydia approach, and hid a smirk of approval to see the look of open defiance written on Lydia's face. Good, she's no little mouse, she mused, as Lydia drew her Greatsword from its scabbard.

"Little lady wields a Greatsword, eh?" Njada chuckled, as she readied her own sword and shield.

"'Little?' I beg to differ. I am both taller and broader than you, you scruff!" Lydia huffed, her cheeks reddening.

Suddenly, Njada's shoulders began to shake, and she dropped her sword and shield down beside her. "Are...are you alright?" Lydia said, confused at Njada's sudden change of behaviour. She approached Njada, and became even more confused to see that Njada was in fact laughing. "Huh? What's funny?"

"You—you—you called me a s—a scruff! Hahahaha..." Njada was doubled over now, clutching her knees as she laughed.

Lydia shrugged, wondering what the big deal was. She had often used that word as a playful insult but it had never made someone crack up laughing like that. "I don't understand what's so funny about it?" Lydia poked the tip of her sword into a patch of dirt from which a piece of stone had previously been dislodged, and leaned on the pommel. Leaning against her sword this way, she waited patiently for Njada's fit of giggles to subside.

After an incredibly awkward wait, Njada finally came to her senses. "Phew! I'm sorry Lydia...I don't know where that came from! I haven't had a laugh like that in an age!" she said, fanning her face comically.

"It's alright, we all need to laugh sometimes—"

"I swear to Talos if you ever tell anyone about this, I'll tear your throat out with my bare hands. Understood?" Njada hissed, any trace of mirth suddenly gone from her features.

"Oh...well, if you insist. Though I doubt that you could tear my throat out with your bare hands..." Lydia hefted her sword and assumed the fighting stance.

"Hmmph...don't try me, new blood."

"New blood? I've likely seen more battles than you, you little shit!" Lydia growled. "Now come at me!"

Njada bared her teeth, and then the fight began in earnest.


From the Skyforge, Farkas and Rose watched on with amusement. After their training that morning, they had breakfasted and bathed, and then had gone to see how Eorland was going with making the Dragon armour. Eorland still had yet to complete the first set, which would be given to Rose to wear for the fight with Alduin.

"Njada is laughing." Rose exclaimed, pointing excitedly towards the two women below.

"Well, there's a first time for everything!" Farkas laughed, shaking his head.

The pair sat in silence for a few minutes, watching the scene unfolding below. "I wish they'd hurry up and start the fight, I want to see how Lydia handles Njada the Spitfire before I test her out on a treasure hunt or something, later!"

"You want to go out today?" Farkas said, turning towards her.

"Yes. I am sick of sitting around. There's been no jobs for a few days, and the Jarl has nothing for me to do either. I'm getting itchy feet!"

"Well wherever you go, I'm comin' with you." Farkas grumbled, looking sideways at her.

"Yes, yes...I know. I wouldn't dream of going without you, my love...I need someone to cook for me when the day is done!" Rose joked, eyes twinkling.

"Hmm. Cook for you, eh? Hmm." Farkas scratched his chin, a look of mischief in his eyes. "I'll cook for you, alright."

"Come on Farkas, since when do you play tricks?" Rose said, feeling slightly worried.

"Since now. Look, Lydia and Njada are crossing swords! Come on! Race you down there!" he said, darting away.

Rose couldn't help the snort of laughter that escaped her to see Farkas running; he was so big and bulky—especially with his steel armour on—that it just looked hilarious. Then she realised that he was going to beat her, so she quickly bounded after him.

Vilkas chose that moment to appear from the Underforge, colliding with Rose and knocking her onto the ground. "Shor's bones, woman! Watch where you're going!" Vilkas huffed, helping her to her feet. "Are you alright?"

"Yes, idiot, I'm fine. But I lost the race, thanks to you." she smiled, pointing at Farkas who stood near to the two women sparring, smiling gleefully.

"Farkas was running?" Vilkas gasped playfully.

"Hah...yeah. Funny hey?"

"I can hear you over there!" Farkas growled, crossing his arms.

Vilkas chuckled, and returned his attention to Rose. "So, I've just spoken to Skjor—he has a job that you might like to do. I heard you say you wanted to take Lydia out, so this would be perfect."

"Go on."

"Well, we have been commissioned to find a precious sword. It was left in a nordic tomb—Volunruud. Apparently an adventurer and his friend went in there seeking treasure, but got spooked when a whole heap of draugr appeared. In his rush to escape, he left his sword behind. The sword was his father's and his grandfather's before him, so he's keen to get it back."

"A family heirloom, hey? Alright. I think we can handle that. Farkas is coming, too."

"Yes, I know that. He's not letting you out of his sight. It's cute. Really." Vilkas drawled, then put on a show of pretending to retch.

"Oh shut it, you're just jealous!" Rose said, poking him in the forehead.

"Watch yourself there Dragonborn, or you'll find yourself cleaning boots for a week!" Vilkas grumbled, though it only served to make Rose laugh.

"I love you too, brother-to-be." Rose reached out her hand to ruffle Vilkas' hair, but he snapped his head back before she could touch. "So, tell me more about Volunruud?"

"Yeah. Walk with me."

As they walked towards Farkas, Vilkas explained how to get to Volunruud, and told her what she might expect to find there, as well as what she might encounter on the way. Rose filed the details away in her mind, but asked no questions - she was keen to watch how Lydia wielded her blade.

Rose and her beloved werewolf twins stood silently, each drawing their own conclusions about Lydia's fighting style. A few times, it seemed that Njada would win the fight - she was clever with her shield; she was able to use it not only to protect herself, but as a weapon to stagger her opponent. She managed to use the weight of Lydia's sword to her advantage, knocking the bigger woman onto her rump.

Lydia's pride was wounded - which served only to fuel her anger, which in turn infused her limbs with renewed speed and strength. Just as Njada was swaggering towards her with the point of her sword aimed at Lydia's neck, she hefted her Greatsword from her prone position, using the momentum to flick Njada's smaller sword away. She used the element of surprise to kangaroo-kick Njada's stomach, sending the smaller woman sprawling away.

"Ha-ha!" Lydia shouted happily, flipping herself onto her feet and immediately rushing to Njada with her sword pointed, just as Njada had done moments before. "Submit!"

Njada scowled up at Lydia as the Greatsword's point pressed gently into her neck. "Never gonna submit." she hissed, glaring at Lydia.

Lydia only laughed, and held out her hand. "Get up." she said, smiling amicably.

Rose nudged Farkas when Njada's face broke into a grin for the second time that day. "Divines...I reckon those two are going to be sharing more than the whelp room by the end of the week." Vilkas quipped.


One hour later, the trio were ready to set out on Lydia's first adventure. At least, Farkas thought they were ready.

"I've just gotta pop in to see that bloody wizard up there." Rose said, pointing up at Dragonsreach. "And that bloody dragon." she added with an exaggerated sigh.

Farkas groaned, though he trundled up the steps obediently behind Rose. As they ascended the steep staircase to the keep, Lydia regaled them with gossip about the Jarl. Farkas rolled his eyes, his attention waning. Bloody women, he grumbled silently. He tutted and clicked his tongue half-heartedly; he didn't like gossip too much but the way Rose's snorting laughter echoed off the stone made his heart glad.

Once they were inside the foyer of the great keep, Lydia snapped her mouth closed. Thank the Divines, Farkas thought. They spotted Farengar perched on the table next to some-bloke-or-other who was sitting in a chair trying to eat. Farengar was clearly invading his personal space. "...couldn't possibly know about that though, you're only a servant!" Farengar was saying, causing the man seated at the table to frown, his shoulders slumped in defeat.

"Farengar!" Rose snapped, causing Farengar's smug expression to abruptly change firstly to one of abject fear, and then to one of resigned politeness.

"Yes, O Great Dragonborn?" Farengar said, crossing his arms.

"Got any enchanted things for sale?" Rose said, hands on hips.

"'Enchanted things'?" Farengar mocked, rubbing his chin. "If by 'enchanted things' you mean items that I have expertly crafted, with powerful enchantments that I have personally placed upon them, then I—"

"Have you got some for sale or not?" Rose snapped, causing the wizard's jaw to flap.

"Yes, yes. Yes I have. What sort do you require?" Farengar said, abandoning his perch and leaving the poor servant at the table to finish his meal.

"I need something that my new housecarl can wear to increase her health." Rose said, emphasising the world 'housecarl'.

"You—housecarl?" The court wizard squeaked, a little jealous that she now had a housecarl. The woman in question looked familiar—could she have been one of Jarl Balgruuf's personal guards at one time? he mused. "Um...sure. I have these..." Farengar brought out an array of enchanted trinkets, presenting each one to her with reverence.

Farkas watched the exchange, his eyes twinkling with amusement. He loved how the smart-mouthed wizard came unstuck around Rose.

After a brief exchange, the three warriors walked away with a pretty silver enchanted necklace for Lydia and a couple of filled soul gems. Just as they were about to head for the stairs to the Great Porch where Odahviing waited, Farengar caught up with them.

"Dragonborn, would you mind taking these frost salts to Arcadia? She will reward you, I'm sure." Farkas' werewolf senses detected something soft in his words, and his proverbial ears pricked up.

"Sure thing, Farengar." Rose said, taking the small package from his outstretched hand.

"And one more thing?" Farengar said, putting his hand on Rose's shoulder. "Could you...tell her I said hello, and tell her...if she wants some company for lunch, I could fit her into my busy schedule..."

Rose chuckled, and responded that she would indeed pass the message. Lydia nudged Rose, winking conspiratorially. The three of them sniggered as they continued up the steps.

"Wait here, you two. I'll just pop in there quickly!" Rose said, indicating to them to sit at the table next to the staircase. "Have this huge wheel of cheese, I'm sure the Imperial soldier won't mind if you eat his lunch!"

She heard Farkas laugh as she walked away, and then she heard the telltale sound of silverware being moved. Of course he wouldn't leave the food alone, thought Rose. She opened the great doors to the porch, and her feeling of apprehension disappeared to see that the dragon appeared comfortable and happy.

"Ah. Greetings, fahdon. It is a pleasure to see you!" exclaimed the dragon.

"Likewise, Odahviing! How are you faring?" Rose said, placing her hand on his snout affectionately.

"I am almost ready to fly; my wings are almost healed." Odahviing said, holding out one wing as far as the space allowed.

"That's great news! Well I have some missions to complete, which will also help me build up some strength as well. I've been sitting my bum for too long!" Rose chirped, eyes twinkling. "I just wanted to check on you to make sure you're being looked after. That annoying wizard isn't being too much of a pain, is he?"

"Nid...he has been quite humble and servile, after the telling-off you gave him." Odahviing's booming laughter rumbled through the stone, causing a few soldiers to snap to attention. "Go now, dovahkiin. Slay some draugr and...perhaps you can bring me back a cow or two?"

"I will do my best." Rose placed a soft peck on the dragon's snout, causing him to make a strange sound of alarm. Rose laughed heartily, and walked away.


Farkas remained quiet for much of the trip to Volunruud; Lydia chatted incessantly about anything from how she busted her little toe last year to how she loved eating roast gourds when she was a kid. Rose acknowledged her monologue with the occasional 'hmmph' or 'ahh, I see' or 'oh, really?' but they were vague and automatic responses. Farkas focused his senses on his love, and picked up the scent of worry. He would ask her about it when they stopped to eat.

Black clouds were rolling over the hills to the west, darkening the sky overhead and obscuring the full moon. Once upon a time Farkas would feel anxious when the moon was full, but these days he was able to push it to the back of his mind. The occasional flash lightened the darkness of the clouds, giving them a fluorescent purple hue. As the clouds grew nearer, the sound of distant thunder became more distinct. The atmosphere gradually became electrified, setting the travellers' nerves on edge.

"We'd best hurry—that looks to be quite a storm!" Farkas said, flinging a stick as far into the air as he could, towards the clouds.

"I'd say you're right, my dear! Let's get a wriggle on!" Rose said, breaking into a jog.

A few minutes later the wind began to pick up, lifting the hair of the travellers. The sky was darkening at a rapid rate; the storm was gaining momentum. Lightning and thunder crashed through the atmosphere - though strangely, there was no rain. This fact gave the storm an eerie sense of doom, spurring the warriors on faster. Thankfully, the telltale mound in the earth appeared in the near distance.

"There it is!" Farkas yelled from behind the women.

"Come on Farkas!" Rose yelled, waving her arm. Farkas was always lagging behind!

But of course, it would not be so easy—the roar of a dragon sounded nearby...too nearby. "Dragon!" Rose shouted, drawing her bow as she searched the sky. Only a few moments later, the dragon appeared. He swooped over the humans, attempting to intimidate them. His scales were bronze in colour, which was a stark contrast to the black clouds in the background. The warriors wasted no time in nocking arrows, not hesitating to release them when they had a chance at impact.

The dragon circled once, twice...and then the arrows lodged in his wings brought him to the ground. The dragon landed with a crash, sending dirt and debris flying in all directions. The approaching storm boomed, reminding human and dragon alike that it wouldn't stop for a mere dragon battle. Rose heard Lydia scream—a battle cry, full of adrenaline, fear and bravado. Spurred on by Lydia's fire, Rose and Farkas charged towards the dragon.

The battle seemed that much more dramatic, thanks to the storm boiling around them in stereo. The dragon's roar mingled with the thunder, sometimes becoming almost indistinguishable from it. The trio hacked and slashed, finding weaknesses in the dragon's armour and using it to drain his life. The dragon didn't seem to be aware that he was dying, however, and continued to fight valiantly. Several times the dragon's great maw came dangerously close to snapping Rose in two. Somehow, Farkas managed to jam his greatsword inside the dragon's mouth vertically, effectively preventing him from closing his mouth. The dragon screamed indignantly and tried to close his jaw, but thanks to Eorland Greymane's top-quality craftsmanship, the sword was strong enough to withstand even the force of a dragon's bite.

Rose took the opportunity to vault onto the dragon's neck. The dragon thrashed, sensing his imminent end. Farkas' sword bent under the strain and then became dislodged. "Dovahkiin...no!" cried the dragon, as Rose drew her sword once again.

"I'm sorry." she whispered, as she plunged the sword in a downward motion into the base of his skull. She hated killing any animals—dragons included. Especially dragons.

Lydia and Farkas watched on with awe as the dragon's body began to flake away, its golden soul rushing towards its new home. Farkas always felt a mixture of pride, awe and concern whenever Rose killed an enemy, but watching her slay a dragon caused a feeling inside that had no words. And this time, he felt something primal stirring within him—a feeling that did not surface too often.


As they approached the burial tomb, Rose breathed a sigh of relief. She spotted a chest half hidden in some weeds in a small alcove inside the stone walls. "Ooh, a chest." she said, pulling the weeds out with gusto.

"Ahh...Rose, surely there's nothing but crap in there!" Lydia said, as she disappeared down the stairs on the other side of the wall.

"I'll be there shortly, I'm getting good at picking locks!" said Rose, fishing a lockpick out of the front pocket of her pack. To her delight, she managed to open the lock on the first attempt. Inside, she found 10 gold coins, a health potion and some purple mountain flowers. She pocketed the coins and put the potion in her pack, and ate the flowers. "Mmm. Not bad!"

Farkas shook his head, laughing softly to himself. "Come on woman, let's get inside and have some food. I'm starving!" he said, patting her on the behind.

"You're always hungry, my love." Rose said, looking up at him adoringly.

"And not always for food, either." he whispered, winking at her.

Rose laughed, also relieved to be at their destination after a rather uneventful journey. But the threat of Alduin was looming in her mind; it would not be long before Odahviing was ready to fly. And once he was, she would not be able to keep him locked up for long before he changed his mind and caused havoc in the keep. She pushed the thoughts into the back of her mind as they entered the tomb—and almost forgot about it when a skeleton jumped out of its hiding spot to their left.

"Talos!" shrieked Lydia, immediately knocking the thing's head from its shoulders, sending it clanking at clattering down the steps.

"Nice work, Lyds!" said Rose, amused by Lydia's knee-jerk reaction and her terrified facial expression. "But you look like you've seen a ghost!"

"I ah...just wasn't expecting it, that's all!" Lydia said, as she began to sheathe her sword.

Farkas put his hand on her forearm, stopping her. "I wouldn't put that away just yet. I smell trouble ahead, be on your guard." Lydia nodded affirmation, and kept her sword at the ready.

The trio crept quietly downward through the narrow passage, until they found themselves in a foyer with three other passageways to choose from. A wide staircase led to a well-lit chamber directly ahead of them. At the other end of the chamber, there was a set of heavy iron doors that were most likely locked.

Each of them stood there silently for a few moments, listening out for danger and looking for clues and signs of enemies. Something white on the floor near Rose's foot caught her eye. "Oh look, Lyds! It's your friend!" Rose whispered, giving it a nudge with the toe of her boot. "He looks a bit upset about being without a body now, don't you think?"

Suddenly, Lydia lifted her steel boot and vehemently stomped on the skull, smashing it to smithereens.

"Crikey, Lydia!" exclaimed Rose.

"I hate skeletons." Lydia hissed, shuddering.

Farkas guffawed, and then patted Lydia on the shoulder. "Well, there's your first kill for the mission. Or, your second kill. Depending on how you look at it."

"You can't kill a skull!" Rose giggled.

"Well technically, you can. Skeletons aren't alive, ya know. And either are their skulls. But they act like they're alive." Farkas informed them, nodding his head happily.

Lydia, unsmiling, quirked an eyebrow at Farkas' nonsensical non-logic. Rose on the other hand, burst into breathless giggles.

"What?" said Farkas, with his palms facing upwards.

"Oh Farkas...I love the way you think!" Rose chirped, giving Farkas' goatee a bit of a scratch.

"Come on. We shouldn't be standin' around here cracking skulls. Well not actual skulls anyway." he said, rotating his shoulders. Lydia and Rose looked bemusedly at each other and shrugged.

By some unspoken agreement, the three of them headed for the first passageway to their left. Farkas couldn't sense any imminent danger up ahead, but he did spot a worn leather journal lying on the floor at the entry to the small chamber at the end of the passageway. He picked it up, and had a quick flip through before handing it to Rose. "This is interesting. It says that this person's ancestor is buried somewhere here, but that two swords are needed to get a door open—probably those big iron doors back there." he said, nodding in the direction from which they had come.

"Hmm...well that usually means there's someone important buried there." Lydia said. "And that means...treasure!"

"And maybe a Word Wall." whispered Rose reverently, a thrill of excitement going through her body.

The three of them searched the small chamber. Rose worked on picking the lock on a chest, which yielded some health and stamina potions, as well as a lovely sapphire necklace.

"Lydia! Catch." Rose said, tossing the necklace towards Lydia.

"Well I don't want it." Lydia said, throwing it to Farkas. "You wear it."

"You're welcome, Lydia." drawled Rose sarcastically.

Farkas shrugged, and put the necklace around his neck. "How do I look?" he said, adopting a feminine pose.

"Rrrowwww." growled Rose playfully.

Just as they turned to leave the small chamber, an eerie shape within a nook caught Farkas' eye. A strange and unpleasant shiver went through him, leaving a bad taste of dread in his mouth. He allowed the two women to go ahead, and quickly peered inside the nook. Though he'd never seen the object before, it was oddly familiar. Without thinking, he reached inside and took hold of the item and withdrew it. It was shaped almost like a bone, with strange designs etched into it.

The moment his hand had touched it, a strange power seemed to flow through him and straight to the spirit inside him, stirring it inside its ethereal bonds. A werewolf totem, he thought. He remembered Aela going on about these things, saying that if all of them were found, they could be used to strengthen their lycanthropic powers. Farkas wanted no part of it; he'd rather be rid of the beastblood. A feeling of anger passed through him, and he quickly put the totem back into its nook. But the damage was done, so to speak—the effect of the totem combined with the full moon outside made it almost impossible for Farkas to clamp down the ominous tremor running up and down his spine. He knew that if he looked at himself in a mirror right now, that he would see inhuman eyes staring back at him. He shook his head and hurried out of the chamber, catching up to the women before they'd even noticed him gone. His eyes quickly returned to their normal state, and he breathed a sigh of relief.

Five minutes later, the trio approached the second passageway. "Draugr ahead." Farkas whispered, as they made their way through the passageway.

True to Farkas' word, three high-level draugr came shambling towards them. Moments before its release, Rose felt the tingle of an imminent Shout. A frosty breath of wind issued from one of the draugr, which managed to cause a temporary cold stiffness in the joints of all three warriors. It did not stop them from putting an end to its animation, and it collapsed in a heap on the floor with its fellows.

They were not out of danger as yet; sitting on a throne inside the chamber at the end of the hall was a very mean-looking draugr. The scowl menacing scowl he wore on his face made Rose feel a little frightened, but not for long. She launched into an adrenaline-fuelled run, her swords at the ready. She did this without first scouting the enemy territory with her eyes—and as a result, she didn't see the spike-traps dotted across the floor of the chamber.

"Rose!" Farkas growled, but too late.

"Fus...Ro, Dah!" Shouted the draugr overlord, whom now stood with his ebony greatsword poised and ready. His Shout hit Rose full force, sending her flying back a few paces...and straight for one of the loaded traps!

"My Thane!" cried Lydia, acting fast. She threw herself with all her might to her charge, knocking her away from certain death. And though she managed to save Rose, she didn't manage to avoid setting off the trap. She landed heavily on her knee, and a spike shot upwards into the meat of her thigh. Her blood-curdling scream made even the draugr overlord pause momentarily. Rose—though dazed—rushed to Lydia's aide.

Meanwhile, Farkas directed his anger at Rose's stupidity towards the draugr. A fierce but brief battle ensued, finishing up with the draugr's throat impaled on Farkas' Skyforge steel greatsword. He flung the body viciously against the wall, with a very wolfish growl coming from his own throat.

Rose was dimly aware of Farkas grumbling hotly to himself as he yanked something from the wall above the throne, but Rose had no attention to spare for him at this moment. She reached into her pack and quickly withdrew the most potent healing potion, popping the cork immediately. "Here." Rose said, putting it to Lydia's lips.

Lydia took hold of the bottle with one hand and gulped it deeply, though she nearly choked on it when Rose yanked her leg away from the spike without warning. She tried to cry out but only got herself into a coughing fit. She sipped on the potion, letting its soothing warmth trickle down her throat. At that same moment, she felt the blissful heat of a healing spell on her torn thigh.

"We've gotten to it quick enough that it should heal well." Rose said, caressing the skin on Lydia's thigh. "I'm sorry, Lydia. It's my fault."

"Don't be silly, Rose. That's what I do. I'm your housecarl." Lydia groaned haltingly, panting heavily through the pain.

Rose fell silent then; she felt foolish beyond words, and confused at her own actions. How could she stuff up so spectacularly? What had she been thinking, rushing in like that? Lydia could have been killed. Alduin's burning eyes flashed in her mind's eye, seemingly mocking her.

After a few more minutes, Lydia's wound was nothing but a faint scar. Lydia downed the last drop of the potion and tossed the empty bottle aside with a burp. "Amazing." she said, flexing her newly-repaired leg. "Damn amazing."

"You're welcome." Rose chuckled, helping Lydia to her feet. Her smile died, however, when she saw the angry heat in Farkas' eyes.

"What in Oblivion were you thinking, Rose?" Farkas growled, gripping her shoulders. He proceeded to give her a thorough bollocking then, and Rose stoically copped it. Though she had tears of shame and embarrassment in her eyes, she did not cry, and nor did she take her eyes away from Farkas' eyes. She had never heard Farkas get really angry like this before—especially not at her. She knew that he never got angry without good reason, and that everything he said was the truth. He never said harsh words out of spite, and he never used his anger to cause hurt. He would always say it like it was—bare facts, and cold hard truth. Despite this, Rose couldn't help but feel as though he was being uncharacteristically over-the-top. "Well? Are you just gonna stand there, or are you gonna say something?"

"I have nothing to say. Everything you say is true. But you needn't go on." Rose hissed, struggling to keep her own anger in check. Farkas started to try to coax more words from her—perhaps he was in the mood to argue, but Rose had had enough. She held up her hand, and something in the way she held herself caused Farkas to snap his mouth closed. "Let's get back to the business at hand. Is this one of the ceremonial weapons?" she said, pointing to the axe in Farkas' belt.

"Yes." His voice was barely more than a whisper, but it sounded louder than a thunderclap to Rose at that moment. She pulled the axe out of his belt, and shoved it into her pack.

Lydia watched the whole exchange with wide eyes; the tension rolled off the lovers like tidal waves, making her feel extremely uncomfortable. She stood up and politely cleared her throat, somewhat dispelling the tension. "We'd better get a move on. It's possible that we may have alerted other enemies to our presence."

One hour later the three warriors were back in the main foyer once again. This time, their packs were full with loot—an enchanted ebony dagger, various potions, more coins and a couple of interesting books to read. They had also found the second ceremonial weapon—a sword. Farkas' mood seemed a little lighter now, but Rose could sense something simmering just under the surface. She put it to the back of her mind—she would ask him later.

"We still haven't found the family heirloom yet." Lydia said. "The owner of the sword couldn't have gone beyond those iron doors without the ceremonial weapons. So it must be nearby."

"You're right. Let's have a look around." Rose said. "First though, I think we should stop and have a bit of a rest and something to eat." Rose's tummy rumbled in response, as if to reaffirm her words.

And so they sat on the steps leading up to the locked iron doors, and ate in uncomfortable silence. Lydia made small talk and Rose humoured her—it wasn't Lydia's fault that Farkas was grumpy, so it would be unfair to let Lydia suffer. Especially on their first adventure together. The end of their rest couldn't come quick enough, and all members of the party were relieved to be busy again.

They looked everywhere for the sword—they spent almost two frustrating hours lifting every basket, every rock and looking in every nook and cranny. Eventually they began to search the bodies of draugr. And still, they found nothing. Farkas' simmering crankiness did not abate, though he did not let it grow. He recognised that the source of his feelings came from the totem, and he also knew that it wasn't Rose's fault; she was, unfortunately, just the trigger. He filed it away into the back of his mind; it would not do himself—or Rose—any good to entertain it now.

"Why don't we put the ceremonial weapons where they belong, and turn our attentions to what lays beyond. Once we have finished up in there, then we can come back to the search with fresh enthusiasm!" Rose chirped, trying to sound light-hearted. Lydia and Farkas agreed; a change of pace would surely do wonders for their mood!

Farkas gently placed the weapons in their nooks. A moment later, they heard the telltale sound of an internal lock being released. Farkas honed his senses, trying to get an idea of what lay beyond. "There is a very powerful draugr in there. It must be the ancestor mentioned in the journal." he whispered. "Be careful."

Rose placed her hand on his cheek, turning his face to hers. She gazed into his eyes for a moment, trying to convey to him that she wasn't angry with him. She hoped that he saw her love for him in her eyes, and that it would be enough to soften his uncharacteristic bad mood. To her relief and delight, he took her fingers and pressed his soft lips to them.

"Come on. Let's go and find you a new Word." he whispered, winking at her. Rose's shoulders sagged in relief, and she chuckled softly.


Now that Farkas had successfully managed to push his crankiness aside, the mood all round was lighter. Lydia was glad, because tension between comrades could spell disaster. Especially considering she was rather nervous—the last thing she needed was to feel tension on top of that. Though she'd have gladly been the first one to go through the heavy iron doors, she was secretly glad that Farkas chose to go through them first.

A winding stone passageway greeted them; a few dead draugr littered the edges of the ground, and a few broken urns were scattered here and there. A strong smell of rot wafted through from the passage, stinging the nostrils of the warriors. They crept quietly, weapons at the ready—they didn't need werewolf senses to know that there was something powerful lurking just around the next bend.

"There he is." Farkas whispered, as a large chamber came into view. A ghostly figure sat on a throne, still as a statue. He could make out several high-level draugr hiding behind posts—they were biding their time, waiting...

Aaaand that brings the latest chapter to a close—a bit of the old cliffhanger! I won't keep ye waiting for so long next time, as I am going to continue working on the next chapter without stopping! Thanks again to everyone for your encouragement. I owe special thanks to two lovely ladies: my sunny autumn friend (you know who you are) and my wild lazy bones friend! :D