It was a cold night, even by Nord standards, and the fires of Jorrvaskr burned hotter than ever.

Aela the Huntress sat at her usual spot, to the far left of the fire, while her eyes darted from her flagon to the form opposite of her.

Nik, the Dovahkiin of legend, and the newest Harbinger of the Companions.

It'd been barely a month since Kodlak's funeral and their feat to release him from Hircine's clutches, and they'd all accepted him so quickly into their fold. Farkas, Ria, and Torvar had readily accepted him. Ria and Torvar mainly because of their almost overbearing friendliness, but Farkas had taken to him since the time of his trial, where Farkas served as his shield-brother. Vilkas followed his brother, trusting his faith in the new Harbinger, while Njada and Athis didn't seem to like or hate him.

Aela though… Was conflicted.

She didn't know what to feel for him at the moment, she knew he was beyond honorable, she's fought alongside him enough to know that, and he'd saved her from more than one mortal wound during those instances.

Her eyes darted from the flagon up to him again and she cursed inwardly as she accidentally caught his gaze and found her eyes lingering on his.

Those two ocean blue orbs…

She could feel a slight blush threatening to redden her cheeks, and quickly covered it with a heavy swig of mead.

Conflicted wasn't even the word for the torrent of emotions in her at the moment.

Her mind wandered back to a fortnight past, she and Nik had left Whiterun at night to ambush a bandit raiding party that'd been harassing trade caravans and travelers coming from Solitude and Markath on their way to Riften and Windhelm, which'd had a negative effect on the traders in town. The duo snuck out, Nik following her orders because of her greater skill at being quiet, before walking straight into an anti-ambush.

The fighting was fierce, her blood ran hot as she sent arrow after arrow into the bandit archers attempting to flank the duo while Nik kept the melee combatants at bay with Ysgramor's shield and the strange glowing sword he always used. Eventually, once the archers had been dispatched, Aela joined Nik and began attempting to push back the remainder of the bandits.

What they hadn't expected was that the leader was a wizard, and a particularly powerful one at that.

The bolt of lightning slammed into her side, sending her spinning to the ground and making her vision blur in the pain. She stayed conscious, but apparently Nik had thought her dead.

She had never heard him shout before, and to be honest, it scared her. His very words chilled the air, freezing an unfortunate bandit and part of the leader's body in solid ice. Without breaking stride, Nik charged forward, shattering the unfortunate bandit into chunks and throwing the leader to the ground with a pained shriek escaping his lips, only to be silenced by the heel of his ebon-forged boot.

Immediately after the leader died the rest fled screaming for their lives and dropping their weapons, but Nik didn't care about running the cowards down.

Instead he dropped his weapons and ran to Aela's side, tugging heavy gloves off to run his hands over her wound, letting powerful magic flow into her.

Thankfully, the blow had been glancing, and his exceptionally strong healing was unnecessary.

They sat there, her lying on the ground, him kneeling next to her, staring into each other's eyes when it happened.

She pulled him onto her, lips crashing together like tidal waves as they began to strip each other.

He was disrobed first, mainly due to Aela's impatience and insistence to feel his toned chest, but her simple armor came quickly after. Her nipples stiffening even harder than they already were in the chill breeze.

She was… Surprised at how soft his hands were, despite being a warrior by trade, but it wasn't a bad thing. They explored her body, lightly caressing hips and cupping her firm breasts, eliciting sensations in her she'd never felt before that day, and causing her to moan loudly before pulling him in for more kisses. He returned every kiss she gave back with tenfold the passion, and began to work his way down from her mouth, to nibbling lightly at her neck, down between her heaving breasts, and down to her stomach.

Then, he did something she'd never had done to her before.

His hands occupied themselves with caressing her above the waist, while his tongue found her core, and busied itself sending her into throes of ecstasy. It was absolutely wonderful, every move his tongue made caused a new, amazing, sensation to jolt through her, and it didn't take long for his ministrations to bring her over the edge.

Her lustful scream could've been heard in Whiterun, but she didn't care. Once she had rode out her orgasm she practically jumped him, knocking him onto his back, smothering him with a kiss, while she fumbled to slip him inside of her.

Once she did though, it was better than she'd ever had before.

It wasn't huge, bigger than the few other men she'd had, but it was thick, and it was a fight to fit the entire thing inside of her comfortably. Once it was though, she began to buck on top of him, writhing with pleasure as he gripped her hips and pulled her down hard each time she raised herself off him. This was how she'd made love in the past, though you wouldn't call it making love, though they didn't stay long in that position.

He overwhelmed her and put her on her back so suddenly her eyes opened wide in surprise, but quickly closed as he began to plow into her.

He was rough, but not viciously so. He was careful, the few times she'd made a wince of pain he'd slow down for a second, a flash of concern crossing his face before the feeling of her nails digging into his back ushered him on.

His stamina was overly impressive to her, and they made love for what seemed like hours before he finally let go, pumping hot seed up into her as he grunted loudly.

Her mind snapped back to reality when the sudden noise of Njada and Athis beginning another fistfight reached her ears.

The blush was very apparent on her cheeks as she squeezed her legs together, cursing the heat rising from between them.

She knew Vilkas and Farkas had not cleansed the wolf blood from themselves yet, but she was there when Nik did. She'd fought it with him in fact, slightly angry at his rejection of the gift he'd been given, but pacified when he brought up Kodlak's wishes and his Nord heritage.

She risked another glance at him, determined to find out something she wanted to know…

He sat across the fire from her, flagon sitting on the table as he began to stand, cheering Athis on as he fought Njada. He wasn't wearing his armor that night, forsaking the pitch black plate for a simple padded tunic dyed maroon, and his black leather boots. Though, he still wore the strange glowing sword at his side, but he lacked the one thing she was looking for.

His amulet of Mara.

She felt a mixture of anger and fear rise from her stomach.

He'd been wearing that amulet since he'd joined them a few months beforehand, and every time they'd gone somewhere on a job she's watched him kindly rebuff women who'd made an advance on him. Ysolda, Carlotta, Olfina, and even that new serving girl Saadia had all walked away with scowls or sad faces when they'd received his polite refusal, but now the amulet was gone which meant one of two things to Aela.

One, he had found a woman and was going to marry.

Two, he had taken himself off the market for an indeterminable amount of time.

Both were bad to her, she felt for him, and she didn't want to see him with another woman.

She didn't want to see him living alone forever either.

Well, more like she didn't want to be alone, and he was one of the only men outside of the Circle that openly talked to her.

More than that, he was the only one who wasn't afraid of her.

I'll ask him, she thought, as soon as he's alone, she quickly added.

So, she waited.

She sat there, quietly drinking the mead, as he patted Athis on the back despite his loss, as he joked with Farkas about something involving a Thalmor and a staff, as he told Vilkas about a book he'd found regarding Ysgramor, and finally as he bid them good night as he left.

Then, she was off, tailing him quietly through the Wind District, down to the Plains District and his own house, Breezehome.

She slipped behind him as quietly as she could before stopping dead in her tracks.

"I know you're there Aela, I hope you weren't planning on killing me or anything,"

He spoke jokingly as he turned toward her, smiling, as she fumbled with her hands, eyes downcast.

"I-I was wondering if you had time to talk about something… In private," she added the last part fairly quickly.

"Of course Aela, come inside and we can talk in front of the fire. It's colder than a vampire's kiss out here," he grinned as the opened the door, holding it for her to enter.

They sat at a small table set up near the hearth, just big enough to chat at.

"So, what's wrong Aela?" he asked plainly.

"Well… I…" she struggled to find the words.

"Take your time," he gave her a comforting look.

He was overtly kind, almost to the point that she'd call him a milk-drinker, but she knew his true mettle.

She stumbled over herself, cheeks reddening as she stuttered slightly as she began to confess.

"W-well, I noticed that you stopped wearing your amulet, a-and I wanted to know if you'd found a bride or if you'd decided to stop looking,"

He moved to answer but she cut him off, determined to get everything out while she still had the words in her head.

"I wanted to ask because, ever since that night we laid together I-I haven't been able to stop thinking about you, and I think it's because you're the only man not only capable of besting me in combat, b-but that's treated me nicely, not out of fear, but out of genuine kindness. I understand though if that night was merely out of lust and not anything more, and I-"

He cut her off this time, placing his hands on hers.

"Aela, the reason I removed that amulet is because I did find a woman that I loved, but I didn't know if she felt the same way about me until recently,"

She could feel tears threatening to fall from her eyes, and anger burn inside of her from jealousy.

"That woman…"

Yes, she thought, tell me her name so that I can slay her. Her rage was building now, a side effect of the emotions coupled with the beast blood.

"Is you Aela,"

The words hit her with such a shock she didn't know what to say, her rage was instantly quenched, and the tears receded as she started at him blankly.

"W-what?" she asked.

"I took the amulet off, because I wanted you Aela, but I was under the impression that you were under. That our night together was product of battle lust, and nothing more,"

Happiness swelled within her, more than she'd ever felt before, more than her first hunt or her induction into the Circle.

"A-Aela? Are you o-"

His words were cut off by her lips, and he didn't much care as they began to stumble in each other's arm through the house to his bedroom, slamming the door as they began ravaging each other throughout the night.