A/N: I actually wrote these two drabble-ish one shots some time ago - before Measure - to use as a "character study" for one of the protagonist and to explore his relationship with his spouse, as well as his past. I wasn't going to post it. Then I actually laughed and thought "what the hell. This is fanfiction. No one cares."
Be warned all ye who enter: there are inconsistences, but I don't particularly care.
Another Lovely Wedding
Scouts-Many-Marshes had never planned to get married, and yet here he was, on the shoreline of a vast lake with a priest of Mara before him and a small cluster of close friends behind him. It was the middle of winter and he was positively certain that someone was going to fall ill and die of the cold, all because his future spouse had a bounty on his head. It was because of that bounty that they were forbidden from marrying in Riften. How Maramal had been convinced to come out here was left to the imagination, but Scouts had a feeling that it involved a generous donation to the Temple of Mara.
He felt self-conscious standing in front of all these people, some of them he barely knew or didn't know at all. There was Brynjolf, the current guild master of the Thieves Guild, accompanied by three subordinates of his; Karliah, a soft-spoken dark elf donned in black armour; Vex, an altmer current picking something caught between her teeth; Delvin, eying Vex amorously; and other various members of the Thieves Guild whose names escaped him. Lovely. Unfortunately they were polite in comparison to the groom's three siblings also in attendance. The argonians were currently bickering amongst themselves and making bets about how long the marriage would last.
...Scouts belatedly realized that he hadn't invited any of these people. He'd wanted a small, private ceremony. And for a very good reason, too. That reason was because his future spouse was a royal screw up and was going to embarrass him in front of everybody.
Right on time, the nearest bushes rattled dangerously. Several of the guests brandished weapons out of instinct, but the only thing that staggered out of the bushes was his future spouse.
His name was Bending-Leaf. (However, he insisted everyone call him "Leaf". Something about his full name "making him sound like a skooma addict", which he actually was.) He was a skinny argonian, barely eighteen winters old, and Scouts wasn't entirely sure how the kid had managed to get here from Black Marsh by himself. His scales were black, but streaks of yellow were painted across his face, and his skull was adorned with numerous spikes that made him vaguely resemble a dragon. Leaf was by far the most expressive argonian he'd ever met, with a wide and permanently curious glint in his eyes.
Leaf was wearing what Scouts supposed was his attempt to dress nicely, but what had once been clean clothes were now no more than tattered rags. They were black, torn at the ends, and distinctive burns had cut holes in them. What's more, Leaf was panting as if he'd just run all the way here from Solitude.
Scouts shook his head and shielded his face from the guests.
'You wouldn't believe what happened on my way over here!' exclaimed Leaf, stumbling between the guests and taking his place by Scouts. 'This dragon came flying out of no where – '
'Oh, no!' Scouts exclaimed. 'Not the dragon story again! You've used that excuse scarcely a thousand times and it still doesn't work, Leaf. Give it up.'
'But it's – !'
Scouts gave him a pointed look. 'Leaf, perhaps you've forgotten, but it's our wedding?'
'Oh.' Leaf looked at Maramal like it was the first time he'd seen him before. 'Oh! Right. Sorry. Go ahead.'
Maramal looked between them, as if he was expecting some form of protest.
'It was Mara who first gave birth to all of creation and pledged to watch over us as her children,' Maramal began. 'It is from her love that we first learned to love one another. It is from this love that we learn that a life lived alone is no life at all. We gather here under Mara's loving gaze to bear witness to the union of two souls in eternal companionship...'
'I can't believe you showed up like that to our wedding,' Scouts hissed while Maramal continued to preach loudly of the teachings of Mara.
'I told you, it wasn't my fault,' protested Leaf. 'It was the dragon! I had to stop and kill the thing and devour his soul!'
'Don't tell me you still think you're dragonborn.'
'I am dragonborn.' Leaf paused. 'Why doesn't anyone believe that I'm dragonborn?'
Scouts sniffed. 'What's that smell?'
'Sorry, that's me.'
Scouts looked at him in sheer terror.
'Brimstone,' explained Leaf. 'Hazard of fighting dragons.'
'I wish you'd at least considered changing before you showed up here.'
'I wanted to be fashionably late.'
'You were definately late, but not fashionably.'
'It isn't that bad...'
'Well, it's better compared to the first time we tried to get married.'
'Don't tell me you're still sore about that.'
'The guards burst into the temple and tried to arrest you. Why would I be sore about that?'
'I didn't ask to get arrested!'
'You could've mentioned you had a bounty on your head.'
'Scouts, I have a bounty everywhere. How was I supposed to know the guards would suddenly remember me?'
'I had never been so humiliated before in my life,' Scouts recalled. 'Oh, the bodies...'
'And the blood,' Leaf chuckled softly. 'Oh, the blood on the alter of Mara. What irony. That was a great day.'
'...Except for the part where you got mad at me and Maramal kicked me out of the temple.'
'Do you agree to be bound together, in love, now and forever?' Maramal asked Leaf.
'I do, now and forever,' agreed Leaf, a little too quickly.
Maramal turned to Scouts. 'Do you agree to be bound together, in love, now and forever?'
There was a distinctive silence. Scouts hadn't exactly expected to get up to this point, so he hadn't really thought of how he was going to reply. He could feel everyone staring at him expectantly, and he could hear a little voice in the back of his mind telling him to stop the wedding while he still could. He looked at Leaf, burned, bruised, and looking like he'd just dragged himself out of Oblivion. He thought Leaf looked momentarily afraid that he'd say no.
Scouts sighed. 'What the hell. Sure. Now and forever.'
Leaf hadn't planned on a lot of things in his life, and Leaf was one of those unplanned things that he just wasn't sure would work out or not.
the next morning...
Scouts leaned back in his seat. Iona was staring at him. And not in a nice, admiring sort of way.
The first thing he'd asked Leaf when they'd decided to move into Honeyside was if Iona's presence was going to be a permanent arrangement. He wasn't jealous or anything, it was just that Iona was extremely creepy. She stared. She didn't say much, but she stared, and she cooked. The smell of a freshly cooked breakfast was what had woken Scouts up from a deep and relaxing slumber, while Leaf was still snoring away in the other room.
Now, Iona was sitting across from him. Staring.
He took a few bites and looked up again.
She was still staring. Intensely. Silently. Just staring.
Scouts looked behind him. Then back at Iona.
'So...you live here?' Scouts asked.
'In the downstairs room, right?' he laughed nervously.
Iona nodded again.
'Been a housecarl for long?'
Iona paused. She shrugged.
Scouts sighed, turned his face away, and massaged his temples. 'Why did I agree to this?'
No, Scouts-Many-Marshes hadn't planned on getting married. Then again, he hadn't planned on working with the Thieves Guild, either. He hadn't planned on stealing merchandise from nord ships, and he hadn't planned on a decrease in wages, and he most certainly hadn't planned on a stranger coming up to him with an offer to help. He also hadn't planned on being raised primarily in Skyrim, with only vague memories of Black Marsh behind him and even vaguer memories of being treated equally.
It wasn't a bad life, in retrospect. He'd lived well. He'd had enough to eat. He'd had friends among the other argonian children. They'd all come to Skyrim together in one, big band for some obscure reason that he didn't remember and never bothered to learn. The end result was a gang of argonian kids terrorizing the sailors who passed through...and occasionally stealing things. They hadn't done it because they wanted to - mostly - but because it was a necessity of life for both the so-called "beast races", so much so that thieving and crime had become a part of their culture. In his seventh year, he was named Scouts-Many-Marshes because he'd explored so much of the outer rim of Winterhold that he knew it better than any adult, and he knew all the secret spots where he could go to hide.
His best friend was Shahvee, a somewhat brutish, but straightforward argonian specializing in picking pockets. They used to sneak into Winterhold. Some dark elves – some, not all – felt sorry for them and didn't tell the guards about their presence, so they were free to wander around their district and gain the occasional septim from a kind elf. They spent it on sweetrolls and other small things they would otherwise not be able to have.
When they got older and they weren't "cute" anymore, the dunmer gladly began to segregate them as bad as the nords had, so those days didn't last long.
Leaf didn't have to worry about nords. He hadn't even seen a nord – or any non-argonian – until he'd seen seventeen winters. He grew up on a compound somewhere in Black Marsh – he couldn't say where. He was the youngest child of the "Jailbreaker", an argonian thief who got caught committing crimes on purpose for the sheer thrill of escaping from jail. In his latter years, the Jailbreaker started an organized group of thieves – much like an argonian version of the Thieves Guild – and together he and his band built a compound where they could raise their families away from the prying eyes of outsiders.
His name originated from an inside joke. The Jailbreaker's best friend had a terrible smoking habit and his friend would go out into the marsh in order to collect a particular type of leaf he preferred "fresh". When Leaf was still very young and had not yet undertaken the naming ceremony, the Jailbreaker's friend took the hatchling out into the wilderness with him, because he was small for his age and could move through the dense marsh foliage with relative ease. When the ceremony came, they named him "Bending-Leaf" because of his escapades with the Jailbreaker's best friend. Everyone thought it was hilarious.
Growing up, Leaf suited the role of the youngest child well. He had three siblings. The oldest - his only brother - was the muscle, but also the leader. He was skilled in combat, but not in planning. That was left to the oldest sister, a sly, diplomatic argonian who often volunteered for the role of "distraction", while formulating elaborate plans in the background. The younger sister preferred the act of thieving and she was always the one to pickpocket a coin purse or stuff handfuls of jewels into her pockets. Leaf, the youngest, became accomplished at archery and hand-to-hand combat. He was too small to handle large weapons, and when he was old enough to accompany his father on jobs, he was often used as a scout or for infiltration. He was good at what he did. And he was also the best at killing, so they said.
But he soon grew bored of his life and decided to seek his fortune outside of Black Marsh, the first in his family to do so in five generations. With absolutely no prior warning, he said brief goodbyes and ventured out into a strange Tamriel, ill-prepared for what lay ahead.
He would never admit it, though. Scouts peered around Iona at the figure of his new husband tangled in the sheets and as unconscious as anything. Despite the fact that they were now married, he wasn't entirely sure he trusted the so-called "dragonborn".