"You smell like a wolf," came his voice from behind her as she hunched over the workbench. Always, despite her heightened hearing, despite her years of training as a hunter, he could creep up behind her on silent paws. Even though he was clad in steel plating, and wielding a great-sword that was almost as tall as her.
She spun to face him, her painted lips twisting into half a smirk. "How is that unusual? You were there when they gave me the wolf-blood," she reminded him gently, and his smile told her that he remembered. Farkas had always been a little slow on the uptake.
"I do remember," he retorted. "But you smell like a wolfskin."
"I am a hunter, you know."
"Like a werewolf skin. Do I need to spell everything out for you?" he teased her gently, edging closer to trap her against the workbench. His hands hovered over her waist, and his lips were carved in a grin of appraisal.
With a deep, rich chuckle and a twist of her hips, she evaded him, grabbing the gauntlets she'd had on the bench and slipping away from his grasp. "Not everything."
"So what aren't you telling me, Sahari?" he turned to face her then, leaning against the stone bench and folding his arms across his chest. His grin was slowly fading. "You're wearing a wolfskin aren't you." He wasn't asking.
Sahari simply smiled mysteriously, her deep red war paint crinkling and flaking at the corners of her eyes. The Redguard pulled on the gauntlets – some animal hide wrapped with leather and threaded with wolf teeth, hardly what you'd call gauntlets – and began to walk away. Farkas followed her swaying hips with his eyes, the hunger in him no longer just for food. He pushed off the bench and trotted after her.
"You are, aren't you? How can you be wearing the skin of one of our brothers without even batting an eyelash?" he caught her by the waist and spun her about, backing her into a corner once more. This time his eyes were on her armour, the shaggy fur that smelled like his brethren and the teeth that lined her collar.
"I earned this," she explained after a pause. "It was a gift."
He slid his hands over the fine steel plate, shaped as though made only for her. It was carved with the grotesque face of some animal – half hunter, half prey. While he enjoyed the feel of her waist under his palms, he was studying the armour. "Who from?"
"Hircine." She half whispered. Her golden yellow eyes met his, searching for his reaction.
Farkas' eyes widened, not missing that significant stare. He was no scholar, but every werewolf knew about Hircine. "The Saviour's Hide." Sahari nodded. "How in Oblivion did you get hold of this, little Wolf?" he asked, his voice a blend of shock and admiration.
"Some poor fool stole Hircine's Ring. It never ceases to amaze me how often mortals think they can steal from Daedric Princes and get away with it," she shook her head in disgust, but chose not to elaborate on the number of Daedric Princes she'd actually served. "I returned the ring to Hircine, and this was my reward."
"Seems a little easy." Farkas muttered, still studying the intricate chainmail about her arms. "I don't know much about Daedra, but they're usually pretty tricky, aren't they?" Pursing her lips but remaining silent, Sahari slipped from his grasp once more. "Oh come now. Stop playing hard-to-get," he snapped, but his eyes were smiling.
"Who are you kidding, Farkas?" she chuckled again. "We both know it's the hunt you love,"
Laughing he chased after her, but she darted away. Outside, through the grassy forests of Falkreath Hold – this was her territory. Nimbly leaping from fallen log to moss-covered rock, the Redguard seemed to fly through the tangle. Farkas gave chase, and he held his own, herding her as only a wolf herds his quarry. He eventually trapped her, backing her into a copse too dense to run swiftly through. He grinned triumphantly, bearing his teeth in a wicked grin, and crashed into her. His body pressed hers against a tree. His mouth sought hers, covering it and then seeking her tongue. In the dappled shadow of the trees, they made love.
After, he slept a little. Sahari was awake though, twined in his arms, toying with his hair and caressing his cheek as he dozed. He had such chiselled features. He'd been a wolf long enough for some of the features to carry over to his man-form – dense body hair, sharp eyes, teeth beginning to point. It only made him more beautiful, she thought, and kissed him awake. It was getting late, and Vilkas would start to worry.
When Kodlak was killed, he wept. Sahari had wanted so badly to go to him, to comfort her wolf-man lover, but Vilkas had collared her and swept her away. She knew in her heart that he held her partially responsible for the old man's death. Unless she went with him to avenge the Harbinger, he would keep holding her responsible. Farkas had wanted her to stay, but honour, as always, drove her on. The Silver Hand were murderers as well as thieves, it seemed, for they'd taken the pieces of Ysgramor's great axe, Wuuthrad.
"You know they're just trying to goad us into doing exactly this, Vilkas," Sahari tried to warn, but he silenced her with a glare so deadly that she didn't dare to question him again.
Neither her nor Vilkas had horses. The march, through the tundra of Whiterun Hold and then on through the Pale, took them four days on foot. Desperate to destroy the men who had bought his whole world crashing down about him, Vilkas hadn't even taken the time to gather supplies, let alone a bedroll for the road. The first night, she hunted.
Her wolf-blood flowed thick and dark through her veins in answer to the rising Bloodmoon, and she allowed it to consume her. While Vilkas sat brooding by the fire, she revelled in the wild, catching a young doe off guard and dragging her back to the camp. They ate well that night.
"We're getting close." Vilkas said one morning as the sun rose golden in a blue sky, a rarity up here in the snow. Sahari nearly leapt out of her skin when he spoke to her. It was the first thing he'd said in days. "Cut across these hills to the south and I'll head north. Pick off the scouts if you can. I know you prefer the bow."
The battle was swift and in less than a week they were back in Whiterun, crowding around the crimson-draped Skyforge. Kodlak's body was on a pyre, and Farkas stood apart from the crowd. As soon as he spotted her, a smile broke on his face. She could tell it was his first smile in weeks.
Slipping comfortably into his arms, she kissed him once, and he pulled her tight. "The last two weeks weren't easy. Normally I have my brother. And if I don't have my brother, I have you. But you both went away, and I had no one. Only Aela. And she's so angry, she can't even speak without shouting," he explained quietly as the rest of the townsfolk began to gather about the Skyforge.
Sahari stayed silent, letting him squeeze her like she was a toy from his childhood. Except that his childhood toys were probably swords and shields, she reminded herself with a hint of a smile. When Vilkas caught her eye, she realised that for the first time since she'd joined the Companions, he approved of her. That small gleam in the eye of her lover's twin somehow meant more to her than anything.
The doubt began after they had cured Kodlak's spirit. Werewolves weren't allowed in Sovngarde, where the Harbinger's soul belonged. Instead, they were Hircine's. The souls of every blooded Companion would hunt for eternity in the Daedra Lord's grove. In his twilight years, Kodlak had sought a cure for his curse, but found none before his life was stolen away. In honour of his last wish, the Companions performed a rite to cleanse his soul of the beast, freeing him from the clutches of Hircine's Great Hunt. It was all very moving, Sahari had supposed, but she was not a Nord. Seeds of doubt now riddled the minds of the Companions.
"He was right, you know,"Farkas would whisper to her as she lay in his arms, on her way to sleeping, "true Nords should go to Sovngarde." Sahari would simply murmur in response. Her people knew of no such place in the afterlife.
When he asked for her help, her heart broke. Her wolf-man was leaving her. He didn't know it yet, but in curing his own curse, he would be leaving her behind. At first, she refused him. She could play no willing part in ridding her lover of the one thing that bound them. Then Vilkas asked the same of her.
"I am a Nord. We belong in Sovngarde, not some heathen Prince's eternal hunt." He had almost spat out the Daedra's title, and Sahari tried her best not to flinch. "Do for me what we did for Kodlak. Cure my soul by destroying the beast."
"But what of Farkas?" she said quietly, her golden eyes meeting Vilkas' grey ones. "What you do, he does. I do not want to lose my mate."
Vilkas sighed and threw his hands up in frustration. "How can one so passionate be so selfish?" he snapped, turning from her. Sahari almost wept. "If you will not help, we will go without you. He will be no different when we return, you know,"
She couldn't bring herself to speak.
The Blood had all but left the Companions. Now, there was only Sahari, and Aela – but Aela was barely ever there. The wild had drawn her in, and now she had lost the bond of the Wolf with her Shield-Brothers, she couldn't find comfort in Jorvaskr. Sahari was beginning to know the feeling. Vilkas was right – nothing had changed about Farkas' manner. That was not the problem. He was still an oaf, lovable and dull-witted but immeasurably skilled, and he still loved her as much as he had the first time their lips met. He had no wolf left in him, so he didn't feel it when the bond was broken.
But Sahari had felt it. As she lay in his empty bed, inhaling his wolfish scent through the rumpled blankets, she suddenly woke to agony. Farkas was gone. Soon after, she felt Vilkas leave her too. In her heart she felt Aela's anguish, but it was soon replaced by the need for the hunt. The bond of the Pack was gone, and she knew that he would just feel like another person to her now. Her heart broke. The next morning, she packed up her belongings.
When they returned, it was like nothing had happened. Sahari clung to Farkas in a desperate embrace, a trace of tears in the corners of her eyes. As she clung to him, she held memories, she held their past, their fleeting summer of wild passion, and she wished them farewell. Then she kissed him once, tenderly on the lips. For him, it was simply an "I miss you." But for her, it was "goodbye."