A/N: Okay, so I know that it might be hard for some of you to picture Dark Elves as attractive, which might hinder this story a bit. So I've included a link to my elf, in which I tried to make her look as human as possible in hopes that you guys can better use your imagination. Just remove the asterisks. I hope you enjoy.
"Is something wrong?" Isis asked as they neared Riften.
Aela lifted her head, meeting the dark elf's red eyes. They had stopped, and in another few steps she would have collided with the Dragonborn. Thankful that her war paint hid the flush in her cheeks, the huntress shook her head. "No, why?"
Isis shrugged, her Daedric armor groaning with the effort. Aela often felt overly encumbered by her own ebony armor and couldn't imagine how much the elf's weighed on her shoulders. Nevertheless, she seemed to move swiftly in it, swinging both blades and moving in and around opponents as if she were wearing nothing at all. The thought made Aela blush again and she bit the inside of her cheek as punishment for her impure thoughts. In this time, Isis had lifted her helmet and was now holding it at her side by one of the horns.
"You've just been…quiet lately. Do you want to return to Whiterun, take a break from me?" The elf smiled and Aela shook her head.
"Nothing could be further from the truth," she said honestly. "I'm just anxious to get rid of some of this gear. It's starting to get heavy."
Isis smirked and shrugged as she put her helmet back on. "Don't tell me the great huntress is turning into a milk drinking whiner."
"Keep it up, elf, and I'll make you eat those words."
"Oh, I'd love to see that," Isis dismissed with a wave of her hand before turning back to the road and continuing on.
Aela watched her for a moment, the way her hips swayed even in such heavy armor and the way the sheen of sweat had clung to her brow and cheekbones when she took off her helmet. Though it was clear the Dragonborn was a Dunmer, she hardly had the looks of one. Yes, she had ash colored skin and blood read eyes and pointed ears, but that was where the similarities ended. For an elf, she had remarkably soft features. Her cheekbones melted smoothly into her brow and her chin was rounded and not at all long. In fact, Aela sometimes wondered if she was only half elf, her features were so…human. But she didn't dare ask. Isis never spoke much of her past, and it had been an unspoken rule between them not to speak of it.
Nevertheless she did seem proud of her elf heritage. Aela started walking and remembered their conversation in Windhelm. Actually, it had been more of a fight that started when the Dragonborn had insulted Jarl Ulfric Stormcloak right in his face and had lived to tell about. Though she could smile and laugh about it now, it was certainly a tense moment.
"Ah, you were at Helgen with me. Perhaps you'd make an interesting addition to the Stormcloaks," Ulfric said as he smiled down at Isis.
The Dragonborn raised her eyebrows and walked around for a moment, observing the castle. "That would depend on if you're planning on expanding the city, Jarl Ulfric."
Ulfric frowned, looking to his minions for clarification. When they could provide none he turned his glare back to Isis, waiting for her to continue. She merely shrugged. "Well, you can't expect all of the dark elves in Skyrim to live in your Gray Quarter, can you? Clearly additions must be added to accommodate them all. Are there any mines nearby? You could have them live and work there! Oh, a brilliant idea. They'll love you for that, Jarl. It's a wonder they don't love you already, you kind, open minded soul."
Aela closed her eyes, shaking her head and grabbing the handle of her sword. Against her better judgment she would defend the Dragonborn against these men if they chose to turn on her, but that didn't mean she wouldn't kill her later when they'd escaped.
Ulfric snorted and took a step towards Isis, puffing his chest out for emphasis. "You know the punishment for insulting the Jarl, don't you?"
"I don't, but I can't imagine it's any worse than the punishment you give to people simply because of their race." Isis' eyes were hard, fixed and unmoving on Ulfric's as he neared.
"Your race chose their path when they decided not to fight in this war!"
"And what reason have you given them to support you? It is not the Dunmer's fault that their homeland was destroyed, just as it is not our fault we have red eyes and gray skin. And yet you punish us as if we've brought this on ourselves. Frankly, if it's a choice between you leading Skyrim and the Empire taking over then hail to the empire!" Isis flung her hands out jovially before ducking out of a punch thrown by one of the Jarl's minions.
Isis grabbed her swords then, preparing to draw, when Ulfric lifted his hands for them to stop. The Dragonborn glared in his direction but he merely shrugged dismissively. "Even if you are Dragonborn, you are not even fit to dirty our blades. Be gone with you, elf. You are banned from Windhelm. And when I am High King, I shall see that you are murdered most gloriously. Get out of my city."
Isis looked to Aela, who wouldn't meet her eyes, then turned back to Ulfric. "I will kill you, Ulfric Stormcloak. And there will be no songs written about it, for you will not be worth anyone's time when this war is over."
Isis turned then and headed out the door. Aela kept her eyes to the floor and followed her out, silent until they left the city. Aela was a proud Nord and she supported Ulfric. But the Dragonborn had proven herself to her over and over again. This was the first time she ever really felt anything but respect for Isis, and the elf took notice, heaving a sigh as she neared her.
"You favor the Stormcloaks," she said distantly, looking off into the darkening sky.
"I do," Aela said, shuffling her feet in the snow.
"Do you wish to leave me? To go back in there and swear allegiance to Ulfric?" Isis' tone held no hint of malice or patronization, and that eased Aela's anger just a bit, but not enough.
"The Empire is threatening our way of life. We can't even worship Talos anymore. What right is that of theirs to take away? We have to fight against them!" she shouted, slamming her fist onto her shield.
Isis jumped at the sound and nodded. "I understand that. And you should fight for what is yours. But Ulfric is not the one to lead you."
Aela looked up then, and realized just how close Isis was. Her light war paint looked like shadows across her eyes and her lips were set firm. If the huntress wasn't in such a foul mood, she would have noticed how beautiful she looked just then. "What are you saying?"
"Do you think Skyrim is solely for the Nords? That all races should leave and go back where they came from?"
Aela blinked a few times and shook her head, already knowing where the elf was going.
"Then Ulfric should not lead you. If he becomes High King, there will be no hope left for the elves, Kahjit, Argonians…maybe even Imperials and Redguards. He will send us all back where we came from by force, and this land will be nothing but war-filled turmoil. Skyrim will gain independence eventually, but not now, and not with him. Not while I still breathe."
It embarrassed Aela to think about it now. How close minded she had been. She'd been so caught up in her own selfish politics that she didn't see what was right in front of her. Isis had never blamed her for that, and she was thankful. It was shortly after that incident that Aela had started wearing the amulet. She had no magic talent, and it felt strange on her chest, as if it knew it was serving her no purpose. But nevertheless she endured it and wore it whenever she was with the Dragonborn, which was almost all of the time.
However, the elf hardly seemed to notice. She made no comment about the amulet and nothing had changed between them. Aela had half a mind to throw the thing into the Skyforge but hope kept her from doing so. She had done too much in her life on vague misunderstandings, and she wouldn't dare throw the amulet away until the Dragonborn herself told her to. She knew she was setting herself up for heartbreak, but this time it seemed worth it. She'd never met anyone else like Isis, and there would be no one to follow. Even if she was rejected, Isis could always count on her as a trusted friend. Of that, Aela was certain.
A hand on her shoulder pulled Aela from her thoughts. Looking over, she noticed the Dragonborn, her helmet off again, had her bow out and she quickly pulled out her own, her eyes quickly rising to the skies. The huntress saw it almost immediately: the dragon flying just overhead, burning fields as it went. Anger swelled in her gut as she saw it and she quickly pulled an arrow from her quiver.
"Do you think you can get its attention?" Isis asked, stowing her bow and instead pulling out her twin Daedric blades. She'd taken her helmet off to aim but there was no time to put it back on now.
"Absolutely. Say when," Aela answered, drawing the arrow back and following the dragon as it circled the fields again.
Aela fired, drawing another arrow as she saw her perfectly placed shot pierce the dragon's neck. It gave an ear shattering roar and found them immediately, pumping its wings as it neared. Aela watched as it opened its mouth and quickly drew her shield, enchanted by Isis to resist fire as well as shock. She felt the flames scorching around her but the shield held firm and soon the dragon had passed her. A strange yet familiar sound pierced the air and Aela watched as the dragon was engulfed in a strange blue light.
Though she had no idea what she was shouting, Aela had heard it enough times to know that Isis had just forced the dragon to land and she quickly drew her sword as she raced towards the dragon. It circled a few more times before it finally collapsed to the ground. The huntress immediately went for its wings. They had learned that if they got to them quickly enough, the wings could be damaged enough to prevent the dragon from flying away. She smiled as her sword pierced through the webbing and dragged it as far as she could, using all of her weight to do so.
Isis was in front of the dragon, distracting its flames and occasionally getting in a good hit across its face. Her Dunmer blood granted her strong resistance to fire and when they came across a fire breathing dragon, she always took point. If they came a across a frost dragon, their positions would switch. Aela had lost count of how many dragons they had killed together, and while it didn't necessarily get easier, it had become much more efficient.
Isis cried out and Aela looked over to see her leaping on top of the dragon's head. Knowing the dragon was close to death she stood back a bit and watched the Dragonborn at work. Keeping her balance on the dragon, Isis swiped at it a few times before drawing her blades and simultaneously shoving them through the dragon's eyes. This was an instant kill nearly every time and Aela smiled as the dragon quickly slowed its movements. Isis had relaxed as well, not expecting the dragon to give one more involuntary jerk.
His neck swung sharply to the left and she was cast off of him in an instant. It happened too quickly for Aela to block the body flying towards her and she was sent crashing to the ground with the Dragonborn on top of her. The both of them just laid there for a minute, gathering their bearings before Isis raised her head, looking dizzily at the woman beneath her. They stared at each other for a moment before Isis ripped one of her gloves off. Aela furrowed her brow at this and watched as the Dragonborn's now bare hand came down to caress her lip. It wasn't until she felt her touch something warm and wet that the huntress even realized she was bleeding.
Rising up just a bit, Isis flexed her hand, a ball of golden mist soon swimming out of it and towards Aela. The huntress started to feel very warm and she wasn't sure if it was because of the healing or not. At that moment the dragon's soul started to enter the Dragonborn's body and she closed her eyes as she felt the magic of the dragon enter her, while she focused on healing Aela.
Aela seemed lost in all of the colors. From the warmth of the healing to the swirling purple, silver, and gold that surrounded the Dragonborn. It was all so strangely comforting and…beautiful. Isis was beautiful. Aela blushed and looked away for the rest of her healing, looking back only when the Dragonborn had climbed off of her and extended her hand, which she took. "Thank you," was all she managed to say as she handed Isis back her glove.
The elf nodded, putting her glove back on. "Does that feel okay? Do you need more?"
"No, no, I'm fine, really. Let's go get the goods, shall we?"
Isis smiled and turned back to the dragon, which had now become a skeleton. Aela sighed to herself, trying to shake the emotions from the forefront of her mind. It did little to help but soon they were on their way back to Riften.
"Shall we make for the market?" Aela asked as they stepped through the walls and into the city of thieves.
"Might as well. I could use a pint afterward. Surely we can afford it after we sell all of this stuff off."
"Yes…because you're desperately poor," Aela returned with a roll of her eyes. Isis blushed at that and attempted to hide her bulging coin purse which would be bulging even more if Aela hadn't insisted on taking some. She couldn't imagine if someone made off with all of the Dragonborn's money, so it was smarter to keep it divided. And even though Isis had told her to use the coin on whatever she wanted, she never did, using her own coin.
Most of the time it was in vain, however, as Isis always purchased the finest equipment for her. In fact, the huntress could be wearing Daedric armor as well if she wanted. But there was something about that stuff that was far too…dark, for her standards. So she stuck with ebony, always enchanted by Isis to better suit the huntress' needs and talents. The only time she'd ever been unhappy about one of the Dragonborn's gifts was when she had given her a circlet. It was silver and sapphire and very expensive. But it was jewelry. And Aela didn't wear jewelry if she could help it. Isis knew it, and the grin she was wearing when she gave it to her was almost too much to bear. In fact, if the damn thing didn't improve her archery so much she would have tossed it in the river just to anger the smug little elf.
But now she was wearing two pieces of jewelry, thanks to the amulet, and she had to admit that she felt a little out of place. She knew that she was an attractive woman. No matter how much war paint she applied to her face she couldn't escape it. Originally she'd tried to hide it because she thought it took away from her fighting talents. But since meeting the beautiful Dragonborn, she had seen that it really didn't matter and was now working harder to make sure her hair looked nice and her armor was clean.
Once they had sold the majority of their goods, Isis and Aela headed to the Bee and Barb and changed into civilian clothes. It was nice to have all of that weight off of her shoulders and Aela sighed and rolled them back and forth as she sat at a table and waited for the Dragonborn. She ordered two pints of mead and told the Argonian to keep them coming with a few gold septims.
Shortly after he'd walked away Isis appeared and sat down with a smile, sipping her mead as she watched the people. The Dragonborn liked to watch the people and could do so for hours on end. It seemed to relax her and Aela tried her best not to disturb her when she did so. Their beast blood kept them from restful sleep, so she knew how precious it was to find something soothing in life.
After a few moments Isis turned back to her companion and smiled again, her eyes flickering down to Aela's hand, which was looking a little swollen and bruising. "You liar. I knew you weren't fully healed," Isis said lightly as she grabbed Aela's hand. However the huntress was quick to pull it away.
"Oh, quit babying me. I'm going to forget what it's like to feel pain if you keep fixing everything."
"You've already forgotten pain. We can't expose you to that again. Give me your hand, please."
Aela gave a frustrated sigh and relinquished her hand. Isis placed it in between the both of hers, subtly healing it. She often healed subtly when they were in urban places. Too many times had she exhausted herself healing people on the streets from their ailments. Aela thought they'd never make it out of Dawnstar when word had gotten around of the Dragonborn's restoration abilities. Aela ended up having to force Isis to bed rest for a few days just to regain the magicka. The huntress then made her promise not to heal things in public, unless it was discretely, which the Dragonborn reluctantly agreed to.
Once her hand was healed Isis gave it a reassuring squeeze before letting it go. Aela blushed at that and took a long drink of her mead. This woman was driving her crazy with all of the mixed signals. Thankfully, her attention was quickly diverted upon the sound of someone new entering the inn. Both Dragonborn and her companion looked up to see a man in golden robes enter and stand in the center of the inn. He opened his arms wide and began to speak.
"Blessings of Mara upon you all! Mara has bestowed the gift of love unto us and…"
The man continued on for a while and Aela quickly grew bored. She thought the Dragonborn would too but the elf seemed entranced in the man's words. Once the priest finished his ramblings and turned to go, Isis stuck a hand out to stop him. He turned and smiled at her and she returned it. "I'd like to know more about this Mara," she said simply, taking another drink.
The priest opened his mouth to respond before his eyes laid on Aela. Rather, they laid eyes on the amulet around her neck. He stared at it for just a moment before he turned and placed a hand on Isis' shoulder. "It seems that your companion knows the ways of Mara quite well. Perhaps she can inform you on all of Mara's great works."
Isis turned to Aela and the priest flashed her a knowing look as he made his way out the door. It was times like this that she wished she wasn't above killing innocents and she sighed as she met eyes with the Dragonborn. However, Isis' eyes had now lowered to examine the amulet. "I haven't noticed this before. Have you been wearing it long?" she asked as she reached out to touch it. Aela leaned forward almost automatically to close the distance and shook her head.
"No," her voice was barely audible.
Isis wrapped her fingers around it and her brow furrowed as she looked up to Aela, who was trying to desperately ignore the feeling of Isis' fingertips brushing against her exposed flesh. "This has magic in it. I didn't think you possessed any?"
"Oh, are you just wearing it for looks then? It's lovely. I'm sorry I hadn't complimented you on it before."
Aela frowned, shaking her head, gently removing the elf's hand from her body. "It's not for looks."
Isis frowned sadly and scooted her chair over. "Did I do something wrong, Aela?"
"No," the huntress gave a weak smile. "No, I just…made a mistake. That's all." How could she have been so stupid? Of course the elf wouldn't know what this meant. Why would she? She wasn't a Nord. Nor was she raised in Skyrim. Aela had now walked into a trap of embarrassment. She couldn't imagine how the rest of this conversation would go but she closed her eyes and prepared to go through with it anyway.
"This…is an amulet of Mara, the goddess of love and compassion. People…people wear this around their neck in Skyrim as a sign."
"A sign of what?"
"A sign that they are looking for l-love, for marriage."
Aela's cheeks were burning and she knew that her war paint could only hide so much. Isis was close to her and she could smell the ash and leather scent of her skin, mixed with sweat. So often had this scent overcome her that she found herself dreaming of it, dreaming of her.
Isis' face had fallen just a bit when Aela finished, but now she wore a soft smile. "You want to get married?"
"Yes," Aela whispered, unable to meet her eyes.
Isis' smile grew wider. "Did you have anyone in mind?"
Aela then watched as the Dragonborn's smile faltered just a bit, her eyes drifting to the floor before she forced them back up. "Well then," she said with a fake laugh, "am I invited to the wedding?"
Aela felt like her stomach was going to fall through the floor. In the course of her life she had fought giants, dragons, armies of dead, but it was nothing compared to this. For so long she had forced herself to remain strong and steadfast. It had kept her alive. But this was something that could destroy all of that. And yet it was a risk she had to take.
"Well…there wouldn't be a wedding if you didn't come," she said gently, looking down at her empty pint of mead.
Isis was silent for a few minutes but Aela couldn't bring herself to look at her. She didn't want to see the rejection, the pity. She wanted to run away but that was a girl's option, not a woman's, not a warrior's. So she stayed and braced herself as best as she could for what was to come.
After a few more minutes she felt Isis' finger under her chin, lifting her face up to meet her eyes. Aela watched as the Dragonborn's free hand reached out to stroke her cheek. It was warm and softer than she'd expected. Isis smiled at her and ever so gently drew Aela's face closer.
The kiss was soft at first and Aela was overcome by the Dragonborn's sweet scent. It ignited the primal part of her core and she growled lowly into Isis' mouth, putting her hand around the elf's neck and drawing her ever closer. Their lips moved together then and Aela could taste the sweet honey mead of her lover and longed for more, swiping her tongue across Isis' lips. Isis was quick to respond and soon the two of them were swept up in a passion long since buried.
When they finally broke the kiss Isis smiled and rested her forehead against Aela's. The two were close enough to be kissing, lips touching occasionally as they grabbed their breath, but for now they were content to just bask in the realization of what they had just done. While Aela's stomach had just recently nearly gone through the floor now it was racing to the ceiling, her thoughts a blur as she imagined what life would be like now with the Dragonborn as her lover, as her wife.
Isis smiled and gave her a light peck on the lips before she sat back down in her chair. Then she shook her head as she laughed a bit. "By the Nine how stupid I've been. If I had known about that amulet sooner I'd have…. That's not true. I never would have thought you were interested in me."
Aela raised her eyebrows. "You're joking."
"I'm not. I've always thought you were way too good for me."
"Says the Dragonborn?"
Isis laughed and Aela grabbed the both of her hands, kissing them softly. "So, you never did give me an answer. Is there going to be a wedding or not?"
"I'll be there," Isis answered before leaning forward to capture Aela's lips once more, knowing that she would now be able to do that for the rest of her life.