A/N: This is the promised companion piece to my other Oblivion fanfic, Champion, and probably won't make much sense unless you've read that one as it references Champion heavily. Post ch-5 of Champion.
Bloodlines. He had not thought that Jauffre, of all people, would be the one to point to his bloodlines; after all, Jauffre knows exactly what they are. Martin may be the Septim heir but he is very well aware that his bloodlines are far from pure. He is the bastard son, after all. What had his mother been? A maid? A serving girl? A disgraced noblewoman? Only his father had known, and Uriel Septim is dead.
He had not thought the Hero of Kvatch would care about his bloodlines; he had not thought she would think that he cared. After all, she knows he is illegitimate as well as anyone. And Martin isn't sure why he cares that she cares, because he's a Priest of Akatosh, and things like bloodlines shouldn't matter to a priest.
And then Martin remembers that he's the last Septim and it's up to him to continue the Septim line, and ever since then he hasn't been able to think about the Hero without his heart quickening. He looks into the mirror and tells himself, firmly, that he should be wise enough not to make a fool of himself over a woman—he is a priest, after all, and he's supposed to be above such worldly desires. But then Martin looks at her, and all his wisdom flies out the window; he finds himself lingering in the hallway around the sparring rooms, hoping that she'll pass by, and looking for excuses to see her more than is strictly necessary for the sake of their mission, and laughing at her outrageous propositions even when he knows he should be horrified. He worries that she'll think him too forward.
But that is rather low on his list of worries, because there are more important things to fret about. Martin worries about Lord Dagon, about Tamriel, about the fate of the world; he worries, every time the Hero ventures out onto another dangerous adventure, that he'll never see her again; he worries that he is falling in love with her. When she is gone Martin pores over his research and immerses himself in the intricate workings of daedric magic.
He wishes that he could go with her.
This is absurd, of course. He is needed at Cloud Ruler Temple to decode the Mysterium Xarxes, and in any case he would only slow her down. She is a far more accomplished warrior than he ever will be. But still, Martin worries, and each time she leaves he promises himself that it is the last thing he'll ask of her, if only she'll come back safe and whole—and each time she returns he breaks that promise, because always there is something else he needs.
And she doesn't complain, only smiles and teases and gives him that glancing sideways look that makes him forget what he is saying; he is old and experienced and a priest, for heaven's sake, but around her, he is as awkward and eager as he had been at fifteen.
She makes him want to protect her. She makes him want to believe in the gods again, if only to reassure her that everything will be all right; she makes him want to hope for the future, because it would be a future with her in it.
More foolishness; there is no guarantee that they will survive, there is no guarantee that the Elder Council will let him see her if he is crowned Emperor, there is certainly no guarantee that she returns his feelings. Martin worries that she doesn't, and then he worries that she does. Martin is a worrier; perhaps it comes with being a priest.
She teases him about that too, and he likes the way she smiles up at him as she does, all laughter and innocent mischief. He thinks he might be in love with her.
And he hopes: there is something in the way she looks at him and the way she runs across Cyrodiil risking her life that makes Martin think she might care about him too.
It all comes down to time, in the end; time and duty, and Akatosh who is the god of both.
His life is an hourglass, and the sand is running out. He knows this. He has known for a very long time, but hope and love and faith had kept him from truly facing it.
If Martin could have, he would have spent every moment with her, letting her tease him, watching the way she laughs and the way the sunlight catches in her hair; he would have given almost anything to keep her safe and by his side.
So of course, what was needed was the one thing he could never give: the safety of all of Tamriel.
He loves her. But there is too little time, and too much duty, and in the end what could he possibly offer her but heartbreak?
A/N: You see, it's ironic, because it doesn't actually stop him from going after her...
As always, reviews are appreciated.