DISCLAIMER: Skyrim and the Elder Scrolls are made by Bethesda, not me.
AN: I had this idea and couldn't get it out of my head. I'm more concentrated on finishing another Elder Scrolls story, so please be patient with the updates!
Elsa's room slowly blurred into focus, the bright light burning at her eyes and making her head throb. Already, she was feeling her heart beat rapidly, the room spinning slightly as she rolled to her side. Reaching to the nearby table, she grabbed one of many bottles. Finding it empty, she carelessly tossed it aside, repeating the process until a full bottle was securely in her hand and reaching her lips.
Slumping back into her bed, she let the warm liquid fall down her throat, the fermented taste filling her mouth with its wonderful mix of barely and oats. It was a few more minutes before the drink settled in her stomach, making her vision clear and her head's throbbing calm. Sitting up, she blankly stared at her room, unsure of how or why most of her furniture was broken. Shrugging, she tossed the empty bottle into the corner and slowly shuffled down the hall.
"Lydia!" she yelled, her voice raspy from dehydration. "Lydia! Where are you?"
"I'm right here, my Thane," the dark-haired Nord answered from her room just down the hall. "As always."
"Lydia, why is all my things broken?" Elsa asked, pushing a loose strand of her greasy blonde hair out of her eyes.
"You said you hated their color and smashed them with that old war hammer," Lydia replied wearily, gesturing towards an ancient weapon that lay on the floor beneath its normal place on the wall.
"Oh," Elsa said, taking in the slightly destroyed look of Breezehome. "Well, let's go buy some new things after I've had a drink!"
"We can't," Lydia said coolly as the blonde Nord began shuffling towards the steps. "We have no more money."
"What do you mean we have no more money? I had thousands saved from all that shit I did," Elsa said in disbelief. "What happened to it all?"
"You spent half of it on drink and the rest, well I can only imagine, my Thane," Lydia said carefully. "Besides, you really haven't worked in five years, either."
"Why should I have to work?" Elsa replied angrily. "I killed that damned dragon, didn't I? I saved the world and put Ulfric on the throne. Isn't that enough? Why should I have to continually slave away for everyone? Don't I deserve a break?"
"Some may have agreed with you before, Elsa," the housecarl replied carefully, "But with your drinking and various public displays, people don't care to support you. In fact, I believe you are still banned from Ivarstead, Solitude, and Winterhold due to your behavior when you were last there."
Elsa looked at her housecarl in disbelief. "I'm banned?"
"Yes, they sent letters some time ago. You weren't in a state to read them, so I took the liberty. I didn't think it matter too much to you, considering that you've barely left your room for nearly four months."
"Four months? No, I've only been in there for a few days," Elsa said with a laugh, moving down the stairs in an uneven gait. Lydia followed her, frowning as the Dragonborn began shaking numerous bottles until finding a full one.
"I'm afraid it has been four months," she persisted, scowling at Whiterun's Thane as she gulped down a bottle of mead.
"Fine. Have it your way," Elsa replied, her tone impatient and hostile. "I'll go find some work, if that will keep you off my back."
"I don't know who you think will hire you in this state," the dark-haired Nord grumbled, earning her a glare from her Thane. "You haven't bathed in nearly a week and-"
"I'll speak to the Jarl," Elsa interrupted with an impatient wave, throwing open the door without a second thought.
Lydia called out after her, but Elsa didn't stop to listen to what she said. Instead, she marched up towards Dragonsreach with single-minded determination. The Jarl will give me work, she thought, taking a long drink from her bottle and chucking it into the rocks that surrounded the large keep. Smiling at a gawking guard, she marched into the large receiving room and went straight to the Jarl without waiting for an invitation.
"I need work," she said expectantly to Jarl Vignar, whose wrinkled face stretched tightly in shock.
"Where is your shirt?" he exclaimed, his accent coming out thicker with his surprise.
"What?" Elsa stammered, looking down and realizing she was only wearing pants and a bra. "Oh, well I suppose it's at home," she said without missing a beat. "In fact, I need work to buy a shirt!"
The Jarl motioned towards his Housecarl who rushed off and grabbed her a dress. "Put it on."
Elsa begrudgingly threw it on over her pants, not caring that only half of the fabric hung towards the floor, the rest bunching up around her waist. "There, now can I have work?"
"I don't think you are in any state to be taking on Whiterun's bounties," the Jarl said sternly. "It's only eleven in the morning and I can smell the liquor coming off you!"
"But I'm your Thane! I do jobs for you and you pay me! Isn't that how this is suppose to work?" she exclaimed. "Besides, I've only had a couple. I'm fine!"
"Elsa," the Jarl started softly, his eyes becoming sympathetic. "I know you worked hard for Whiterun during the dragon crisis. I even know that I wouldn't have this position if it wasn't for your work with the Stormcloaks. But I cannot and will not give you work until you sober up. You are disgracing yourself, your family name, and your title."
"Disgracing myself?" she asked through a hiccup, her temper rising. "No, you're disgracing yourself by denying the Dragonborn. I don't have time for this," She finished, walking off in a huff, tripping slightly down the stairs.
She could hear a few gasps and chuckles from those in Dragonsreach, making her temper grow even more. They wouldn't be laughing if I shouted at them! She thought, marching out the door and down the stone steps.
"Ugh, you smell like mudcrab and skeever!" a guard called out to as she passed.
"Fuck you," she snapped at him, giving him a quick shove that caused him to fall off the steps and into the shallow water that flowed through the town.
"ELSA!" Lydia exclaimed, rushing up to the Dragonborn and grabbing her by the arm. "You can't be doing that!"
"Why not? I'm a Thane, aren't I?"
"Well, yes," Lydia started. "But this is exactly the kind of thing that got your titles taken away in Markarth and Solitude."
At the mention of Markarth, Elsa's eyes began to tear up. Lydia's face fell as she looked at her Thane. "Oh, no, Elsa, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said anything. Don't think about it," She said as sympathetically as she could, but the damage was done.
"I need a drink," Elsa said quickly, pulling away from her Housecarl's hands and moving for the Bannered Mare with a singular thought. Drink and forget.
The sky was black with only a few stars dotting its inky surface when Vilkas and Farkas finally returned to Whiterun. The smaller of the two twins eyed his city with grateful delight as his sore muscles and aching feet groaned with each step. "Next time we go to clean out a mine of spiders, remind me to not wear brand new boots."
Farkas laughed at his nearly identical twin, giving him a slight shove. "And they say I'm the stupid one."
"I didn't think that the mine was as far away as it was," Vilkas replied in defense, limping slightly as his raw heels continued to rub against the back of the new boots. "Aela made it sound like it was nearby."
Farkas laughed again, pushing open the large gates to the city with ease. It always amazed Vilkas just how strong his brother was. Despite having been identical in their childhood, the minute adolescence hit Farkas had grown big and tall in a matter of months. By thirteen, his brother looked like a grown man, his body gaining definition and muscles while his voice deepened into a husky baritone.
Vilkas, on the other hand, didn't grow until he was nearly seventeen, making training with the large weapons Farkas favored nearly impossible. It had been difficult watching his brother get extra attention from Skjor and Vignar, but thankfully his quick mind had provided him ample distractions from his jealousy through studying the histories of the world and warfare. Eventually, it had earned him the privilege of being tutored by Kodlak Whiteman, which had helped develop a strong bond between the older man and the orphan. Still, he was relieved when he finally grew, almost reaching the height of his twin. He would never be as large or strong as Farkas, but at least he could hold his own against the giant of a Nord.
"Want to stop by the Mare and get a drink?" Farkas asked, as they moved up the long, sloping hill the city was built on.
"Whatever you want," Vilkas replied, wincing slightly with each step.
"You sure?" the larger twin asked, giving Vilkas a hopeful look.
"Are you meeting someone there?" he asked, able to read his brother's simple intentions easily.
Farkas smiled broadly and laughed. "I might."
"Not that girl from a week ago, I hope," Vilkas said roughly as he felt his blister rub wider.
"Nah, she didn't seem to like me much once I stopped paying for drinks," His twin laughed, truly not caring about the slight. It was another thing about his brother that amazed Vilkas. He was so easy going and tolerant of people taking advantage of his simple nature that it was a wonder that he hadn't been suckered into giving all his money to some pretty face or another. Of course, Farkas' size and heavy brow did give him a rather imposing appearance, but anyone could see after a few minutes of talking to the hulking man that he wasn't one for useless fighting.
"Who are you meeting then?" Vilkas asked as they moved toward the welcoming light coming from the tavern.
"Farkas!" came a light, happy voice from a nearby bench, answering Vilkas' question. "And hello to you, too, Vilkas," Lydia said, moving towards them with a radiant smile.
"Lydia," Vilkas said politely, giving his brother a quick warning look. "What brings you out tonight? Your Thane out and about?"
Lydia frowned slightly. "Well, yes, but Farkas told me you would be back sometime tonight and I was hoping to catch you two."
"I'm glad you did," Farkas beamed at the Housecarl, his eyes getting that dopey look that had filled them for more than one pretty face in the past.
Vilkas shook his head, knowing that his brother would do what he was going to do. "I'll go get us a table," he said, leaving the two outside to continue their greeting. He just never learns, he thought as he weaved his way through the thick crowd and ordered some drinks.
Moving towards an open table on the side of the room, he watched as a crowd cheered wildly at something. It only was a moment before the source of the revelry appeared. Dirty and dressed in an odd mix of armored pants and a tangle of a roughly spun dress, Elsa Fire-Storm was going head-to-head in a drinking contest with some burly looking mercenary.
He watched her for a moment with a feeling of superiority. She once was called one of the best warriors in all of Skyrim, but her body appeared more like an old woman's with little muscle tone or definition. Not for the first time, he wondered how she had ever been able to slay a dragon, her uncoordinated movements completely devoid of any trace of a warrior's control or smoothness. He frowned in annoyance as she cackled loudly, throwing back her blonde hair that was so dirty that it was beginning to clump together in thick, greasy strands.
What a disgrace, he thought, glancing over to the door where Lydia and Farkas seemed deep in conversation. He felt bad for the girl, having to put up with a mess like Elsa. In fact, if it hadn't been for the Housecarl's duties to her drunken mistress, Vilkas was sure that Lydia and Farkas would have made the trip to Riften, making their relationship official.
Yet, as it was, Elsa demanded all of the poor girl's attention, causing her to break off her short affair with his brother much to Farkas' dismay. It had taken months for the giant warrior to return to his happy, content self, but it was clear that he still held out hope for a future with the Housecarl. It made Vilkas very bitter towards the drunken woman that had indirectly caused his brother's unhappiness.
"What are you brooding about?" Farkas asked as he dropped into the seat across from his brother.
"Why do you keep meeting up with Lydia?" he retorted, taking a deep drink of his mead.
"Nothing wrong with two friends having a drink," his twin said with a shrug. "Besides she had a favor to ask me."
"Oh, and what was that?"
Farkas' smile faltered as he looked around. "She just needs some help with getting you-know-who back on her feet. Said she's only been leaving her room to relieve herself and get more mead."
Vilkas snorted. "Good luck with that. She's been a drunk ever since she showed back up in Whiterun. I don't think there's anything you can do that would change what she's been doing for a better part of a decade."
The massive nord shrugged, finishing his drink with a loud gulp. "I said I would try."
"You're too soft-hearted, Farkas," he said, finishing his drink and standing. "Just because you're sweet on the girl doesn't mean you need to be cleaning up her messes."
Farkas smiled easily at his brother, the sparkling look in his eyes convincing Vilkas that nothing he said would change the man's mind. Grimacing slightly as they moved towards the door, he just hoped that Farkas wouldn't be an idiot and put himself in a position where he would only get hurt.