The last candle in the inn is dying when the door opens and a brief, bright flash of moonlight washes over me. The darkened, dead inn seems to cringe as light washes over the chairs on tables and empty bottles lining the walls. I waited up for my wife to return to take her to bed, but the woman before me isn't the one that I married. Aela is a little rough around the edges and her armor is dingier than the last time I saw her. Before I know it, my muscles are tense and legs spread in preparation of a fight. The werewolf's scent nearly overwhelms me as she casually comes closer with her hands far from her weapons.
"Come on, no need for any of that. Your wife sent me to tell you the news before you got the wrong idea.".
Oh for the love of fuck, what did she do now?
"Your friend said she would spring me out of jail in return for telling you if there was a cure for lycanthropy. Don't know why you wanna know, but you can't cure anyone without their consent so I don't see any harm.". My muscles tense further as I realize the implication of what Aela is saying.
"There's a cure for lycanthropy?". Aela nods as she glances around the inn. It's only when she begins walking towards the bar I realize she's just looking for a drink. The woman puts a few gold down on the bar, then reaches underneath it and pulls a bottle of beer from the depths.
"There's a way. My pack and I haven't fully figured it out yet, but only our leader is really trying. Everyone else seems pleased with being a werewolf besides him. If you really want to cure someone, then he's the man you want to talk to. He knows the most about curing our lycanthropy and he's the only person in Skyrim trying to figure it out. I'll give you the same advice I gave your wife: come up to Jorrvaskr once I'm rested and had some bread. I'll show you to my leader and he'll help you as best he can.". My wife is an amazing, intelligent woman. Still, there's something particularly fishy about this situation from my point of view. Aela and my lover were at each other's throats a few hours earlier. My love has turned enemies into friends before. She's just never done it this quickly or this willingly.
"What did my wife offer you?". Aela is currently drinking some of her beer, and she doesn't see fit to answer me until she's done drinking the entire bottle.
"Not much. Just got me out of jail and promised not to kill anyone. I'm a simple woman, that's all I want. Peace and freedom.". Aela tosses the beer back over the counter into an unseen basket judging from the lack of broken glass, then begins making her way towards the door. As she goes, the woman calls over her shoulder.
"Might want to go spring that wife of yours. Pretty as a picture when she's naked.".
I'm singing a traditional, beautiful Khajiit song composed of shrieks and hissing when another item cracks against my cell door. I fall silent until I'm absolutely sure the guards are relaxing and letting go of bated breaths with the assurance their prisoner has finally fallen silent. I start singing twice as loudly and make sure to really let my voice come from the bottom of my chest.
"I hope for your sake those noises don't mean you're going into heat. You're suppose to stop doing that after you're turned, you know.". I was reclining and relaxing against my bed with my naked glory exposed in protest before hearing my wife's voice.
"Serana!". I yowl her name as I rush towards the bars. Soon enough, my arms are wrapped around her through the bars and she's lavishing kisses against my face. It's only after we've broken away from one another Serana asks about my attire.
"Why the invisible clothes?". I smile and twitch my tail a bit to attract Serana's attention to the important parts of my anatomy.
"Didn't have any clothes with holes in the pants for a tail or shirts thin enough I wouldn't overheat. They asked if I could make due. I told them I'd rather go naked than wear ill fitting clothes. They took me seriously.". My wife's high, beautiful laugh is my reward as I take the chance to lavish her neck as best I can with licks. Serana stops laughing and allows me a few more rough, scrapping licks before stopping me with her voice.
"I paid your bail and they removed the assault and attempted murder from your record. You're free to go.". A jingling sound makes me turn my eyes downwards to see a key dangling from Serana's pointer finger. I lick her neck again and earn another laugh.
"Alright, alright. Come on, I need to get your clothes.". I feel the cool, smooth metal pushed into my hand.
"Get yourself out of there and lock it back up.". Serana walks away and I follow her advice. It's a little unnerving standing in the middle of the prison naked, but there aren't any other prisoners to see and I doubt the guards are going to come in now that their prison is officially empty. My lover returns soon enough with my silk, scarlet robes and helps me dress for decency's sake. I'd prefer to wear my armor; thought, I don't say anything in favor of Serana helping me dress in my fine robes I never wear. After I'm dressed, Serana takes my arm in hers and guides me out of the dank, dark prison where I served my sentence for less than an hour. As we walk back towards the inn my wife tells me news I was hoping on hearing.
"Aela sought me out after you helped clear up the mess. She told me to stop by Jorrvaskr tomorrow with you.". I nod and fill her in as I lean closer to my love and lean my head against her shoulder.
"I buried the hatchet and got what we were looking for. Apparently, there is a cure for lycanthropy. At least, one of the werewolves is looking for a cure. Now, for the most important question, does lycanthropy cure vampirism?". My arm is yanked back in it's socket as my wife comes to a dead halt on the very last step down from Dragonsreach. I hiss and flatten my ears in shock as Serana mumbles an apology and removes her arm from mine. I rub my sore socket as I turn back towards the woman I love.
"What?". Serana is looking at me with an expression impossible to read. In this moment, I wish more than anything I was better at reading people. I would trade all my gold and silver just to get an idea of what's going through my wife's head.
"Is this really the path you want us to take?". I hesitate and let silence stretch to take up the space. I have no idea if I want Ma'aji have the power of a werewolf. I have no idea if I want Harkon to go through a transformation into an even more savage monster. I have no idea if I want Serana to have even more doubts about giving up her strength once she becomes a werewolf. I do know that I'm more than willingly to go through the transformation and give it up to see if it works.
"I want to try it. If it works and I think it's safe, then I'll help everyone else go through the same path. If I decide this way is too dangerous, then I'll help everyone find another way.". Serana chews her bottom lip as she looks up towards Jorrvaskr. The moonlight reflects off her dark, dead eyes and ivory skin. For once, I'm able to truly see my wife for what she is: a corpse. I lick my own hard, cold skin with my own slimy tongue and feel the sharp reminder of the fangs that go beyond my lips and threaten to pass the beginning of my chin. A sudden yearning for my old form consumes me. My blonde fur shining in the sun was once the only pride I could ever take in my body. Now, my fur is deathly fragile and large chunks are permanently missing from multiple mishaps and accidents during my travels and adventures.
"Serana, how long do these bodies last?". My wife turns her dead eyes to me and raises her brows in an unspoken question.
"If we were to stay immortal forever, how long would our bodies last? How long until our hair falls out or our skin falls off and it stays that way forever?". Serana turns her eyes back towards the moon. Somewhere far, far off in the night a dog howls. Another dog picks up the howl and soon enough pet owners are stumbling into the night and screaming at their hounds to be silent. A stronger, deeper howl comes from somewhere outside the walls. Torches begin moving on the walls and the sound of metal rasping against metal rings through the night. A wolf or a pack has been spotted outside the city. For all I know, it's the pack of werewolves who live here trying to get home. Or, quite possibly, just a pack of ordinary wolves that strayed too close to civilization. I'll never know.
"I don't know. Not long enough.". I find my arms wrapping around Serana and feel her own arms coming around me. I rest my head against her shoulder and she rests hers against the side of mine. We sway gently in the moonlight as I begin to hum a tune. Serana picks it up and we silently sway a little harder and begin shuffling in a circle.
"I love you.". Serana whispers the words with a hot breath that causes my ear to twitch. I whisper her own words back at her into her neck.
"Please be careful. I don't think I could ever bare the burden of waking up in a world where you're not.". I don't answer as a deep, persistent anxiety starts gnawing away at my guts. I clutch her harder and kiss the side of her neck. I get another kiss in return. My love and I begin giving each other light kisses until we turn our heads and our lips meet. For a moment, I'm able to forget the rest of the world exist outside of me and this moment. All there is that matters is the warmth of my love in the moonlight. We're still kissing and swaying when a burning sensation overcomes the right side of my face. I had my eyes closed to fully enjoy Serana's kiss, but I crack an eye open to check what's causing the sensation. I groan into my wife's mouth as I see the sun beginning to peak over the horizon. I pull back and give her one last kiss on the cheek.
"Sun's up.". Serana looks towards the sunrise and says something that shakes me to my core.
"If we're lucky this will be the last sunrise that'll ever hurt you.". In a way, that shocking statement is almost comforting. No more sunrises hurting my flesh, no more fear of fire setting me ablaze in one touch, and no more fear of drinking someone dry.
"Of course, you'll have to worry about fleas.". I groan as Serana chuckles and breaks away from me. I begin walking towards Jorrvaskr with Serana trailing behind me. Hopefully, this business will be taken care of in time for us to return to the inn before our family wakes up.
"You really think Aela will be up by now? What time did she come talk to you?". I'm climbing the steps when I get my answer for myself. Aela is casually leaning against the door of Jorrvaskr with a dripping scarlet sword in one hand and she's soaked in blood from the crown of her head to the soles of her feet.