Hello Again! BTW, I definitely recommend y'all watch the video/listen to the song of the lyrics provided. This song has the exact tone I'm trying to convey with the chapter. Good news; I played the Elder Scrolls Online Beta, and it further inspired me to write. And also, I'm so incredibly sorry that I'm so slow with this story. I honestly don't know if I'll be able to finish it, but I'll do my best. That being said, thanks to all my lovelies: Arquise, A. , Kas44, Ronin Kenshin, BurnetteAuthorette99, WickedLullaby, LittleNK, Pint-Sized She-Bear, The Second Other Guy and everyone else who reads, favorites, enjoys, follows, etc. You guys are the absolute best!
"Come up here to speak to me
and hold your face to mine,
Any man can hold my gaze
has done his job just fine.
You just sold your life away
to be with me tonight,
Hold your head against my chest
I think you'll be just fine.
I am loathed to say,
that I have been this day,
I've been with the devil
in the devil's resting place."
- Laura Marling, 'Devil's Resting Place.'
The rain was falling heavily on the thatched roof, almost a taunt to his Elven ears. Evelyna's breathing was slow and soft with fingers sleepily splayed across the rippling expanse of his abdomen. She had no idea of the chaos raging in his mind, his thoughts a complete disarray capable of making a hurricane appear timid.
What had he done?
Fenris stared at the dim outline of her body, the sheets thrown lazily off most of her. The Dragonborn, the Dovahkiin, the prophesized savior to Skyrim. He had had her, had enjoyed her, and now he felt paralyzing shame and gripping longing.
He did not deserve this. She did not deserve this, she did not deserve a cold man such as himself. He was incapable of affection, and only wished he had realized it the night before, before he had done this. She would never forgive what he had to do.
He could see his life in bits and pieces before he had gotten his markings. He could remember his sister and mother, and a father in the earlier years. He could remember his sacrifices, his aches and troubles. And then they were gone, and suddenly he couldn't recall his mother's face, and he felt incredible loss. How could he love a woman with this pain within him?
He slipped from the bed and gathered up his clothes in silence, ignoring how much it hurt him to do so. Each step from the bed ripped him apart from the inside, like his insides were clawing at his ribcage. He descended the stairs grimacing, holding his clothes and armor white-knuckled in his hands.
He could not think clearly as he dressed himself beside the smoldering, tired embers of the fireplace. Meeko watched him with mournful eyes, as if the wolfhound knew of his betrayal.
Fenris clasped his armor in place and at last pulled his gauntlets onto his hands, flexing the spiked fingers as he did so. His heart pounded in his chest, staring at his hands. The same hands he had held her with, had tangled her hair with, had pushed her thighs tenderly apart with. He did not deserve his hands.
Fenris swallowed anxiously, adding kindling to the fire at his feet. He wanted to leave, to find himself outside because Breezehome could not contain his chaos. He felt like the sea being poured into a bucket. All he wanted was to run off, to kill something, to do something.
But he would not leave until he spoke to her, that much he owed her. In that way he was at least half a man. So often in his life he had had to sit with wretched thoughts, unmoving and stoic. But not since his freedom had anything confined him in such a way.
Fenris collapsed into the chair in front of the fire, staring into the growing flames. He had been happy earlier, just hours ago, inside and beside Evelyna. But he did not deserve that joy, he was a slave who deserted his family, leaving them to the wolves that were magisters.
He had not known what would come of them, he had offered himself in hopes that it would save his family. But this was not so.
How long he sat there and brooded, he wasn't sure. It was a time before he could hear her footsteps descending the stairs.
He couldn't look at her. Shame had swallowed him whole. He had killed a hundred men, had suffered pain that others had died from, and yet he could not corral himself to look at her.
Her tone was heartbreaking, as if she knew this side of him, or had seen this side in other men. How many men had slipped from her bed in the morning? The thought bothered him, and yet he knew he had no right to be angered. He felt her presence slip behind him as she sat in the next chair. She was nearly undressed, only a breastband and tight leathers around her rear. She held a wolf fur around herself and stared at him covered shoulders to toes in armor. All the armor in the world couldn't save him from the pain he felt.
"I... am a coward." Fenris told her, defeat in his voice. "I am not worthy of you."
Evelyna blinked at him as if she weren't sure what he was saying. Realization seemed to break like lightning across her features. "Please, Fenris, spare me."
The bitterness in her tone ripped him apart. He grimaced and curled his palms over his knees. "I cannot do this."
Evelyna said nothing. "Can you tell me why? It wasn't good enough for you?"
No, no, no, a thousand times no. "It was greater than I could have dreamed, Evelyna," he confessed, feeling and sounding raw to the core. Like he had peeled apart for inspection. "After... I remembered my life before slavery, bits of it."
She blinked in surprise. "That's good, isn't it? Aren't you glad?"
"It's too much, too soon," he said, sounding tortured. "I cannot handle it, and it's broken me. You need someone who isn't broken."
Evelyna rose to her feet, and took the fur from around her shoulders, balling it in her hands. Fenris couldn't look at her standing there, nearly naked.
"I don't need anyone, Fenris," she stepped by him and shoved the wolf pelt into the center of his chest as she passed. She may as well have punched him. "I can't believe you used me."
He hung his head, shame and sorrow swelling inside as he curled around the wolf pelt. Evelyna's footsteps were quick up the stairs, rushed. She would leave now. In that way she was much like him - a stray with a temper. His guilt rolled within him as he curled his fingers in the warm fur, wishing things were not so.
He regretted it immediately. Fenris pulled the fur away from his chest, and watched her move abruptly towards the door.
He met her gaze and saw her temper in her eyes, mixed with hurt. He had hurt her, she who had seemed so casual about sex, so strong and hard and wild. But he feared it was more than sex, he knew that it was. He could see it in the hazel pools that were now staring at him, like she could rip his throat out. He wouldn't have it in him to stop her.
"I feel like such a fool," he said honestly.
Evelyna pulled the door open, still watching him. "I'm the fool here, Fenris."
He shook his head. "I'm-"
She stepped out and the door slammed shut behind her.
"- sorry." Fenris sighed and looked at the wolf pelt in his hands, the pelt that had just been wrapped around her. It still held her heat. He was suddenly furious, not with Evelyna but with himself. The sorrow he had felt had left with Evelyna, and was now replaced by his anger. Fenris lurched to his feet and threw the pelt to the floor, moving to the door. He still felt a thrill of adrenaline whenever he threw something in fury, because years ago he'd have been whipped for such a thing. Fenris slammed open the door and looked down the road towards The Bannered Mare, but she was not there.
Fenris saw her heading towards the city gates, her hands balled into fists with her axes swinging at her hips. She stormed away down the road, the late springtime rain dripping down her black hair.
Fenris looked at Meeko as he ducked back into the house, feeling himself an inch tall. As he should feel, he knew. He deserved no better. She was the only woman who had ever had any romantic affection for him, the only one he had allowed himself to be any measure of close to.
He had to push her away. She deserved better than him, and he didn't deserve a woman like her. His memories... if being with her would rake those up again only to disappear, then he could not bear that pain.
Coming to Skyrim, Fenris had hoped to sever any ties of wanting for his past life, his memories, his family. He was here now, with an ocean standing between him and his past, but no. His past had followed him here, like the slavers had chased him across Thedas. Like the Chantry could chase them across the sea. He could not hide from his memories, he could not run from them, the worst enemy of all.
Fenris slammed his fist on a nearby bookshelf, hating that his past was interfering with him here. Gems, coins and jewels scattered across the stone floor. He realized she had never pocketed what he had given her, to repay her for everything she had done for him. He supposed he hadn't expected her to, but it still irked him.
There was a knock at the door, and Fenris growled in his throat. "Leave me be," he wanted to say, before he remembered that this was not his home. Instead, he stepped over Meeko and went to the door.
Lydia stepped in from the rain with a burlap sack in hand. Her brown eyes flitted across Fenris' features, as if aware of the mood he was in.
"Where's Evelyna?" She asked, wiping her steel boots on the mat. Fenris shut the door behind her and threw another log onto the fire.
"I saw her heading for the city gates a moment ago," he growled.
"What's the matter?" Lydia wondered, putting the sack on the table as she began to empty its contents; food and wine.
"Nothing," he replied. "She didn't tell me where she was going."
Lydia sighed and set a full bottle of wine on the small table between the chairs at the fire. She noticed the jewels on the floor, with the money. "What happened?"
Suspicious brown eyes met Fenris', and he shook his head. "It's of no matter to you, Lydia."
She seemed to look around for other signs of something, whatever they'd be. Finding nothing, Lydia sighed and put some vegetables in a bowl. "Please have her see me when she's back. I must know what her plans are. The Jarl needs to be aware of where she is."
"I'm pledged to keep her safe," she told him snidely. "But she doesn't want my sword anymore. Neither yours, it seems. I need to know if she's alive. She's Skyrim's only hope."
Lydia stared at him seriously as her words sunk in. "Go find her, then," he growled.
The housecarl stepped past him. "I don't know why she likes your company, you're a miserable man." She opened the door to reveal the rain pouring onto the streets of Whiterun. "She can't be alone outside these city walls. If something happens to her, it's on your shoulders. Have her see me."
The door shut behind her, and Fenris closed his eyes, willing himself to maintain control. He felt like he was trying to stop an avalanche, and all the pieces were beginning to fall. Fenris ran a hand through his hair and collapsed into the chair beside the fire, uncorking the bottle of wine beside him.
He sipped from the bottle and wondered if he should go after her. Lydia had said that she couldn't be alone outside the walls, and he paused as he thought of the cultists they had encountered the night before. It was likely there were more beyond Whiterun, side-by-side with dragons, bandits, necromancers, bears. There's a scattered army, all out to kill Evelyna and her comrades.
Fenris shut his eyes and could see them surrounding her out in the tundra, in the thick and merciless rain. He saw dragon's jaws snapping shut around her, saw the cultists with the bone masks shooting lightning from their fingertips at her. He blinked and saw her on the cold, stone floor of Blackreach, knocked out.
If she died out there in the tundra, alone, Fenris wouldn't be able to live with himself. That much he knew, and yet, he had a difficult time seeing himself chasing after her. As if he was chained to her.
Half the bottle was downed before Fenris gathered up his belongings, strapping his sword to his back. He threw a fur cloak over him to protect from the cold rain, and whistled for the wolfhound to follow. Fenris grabbed the bottle of wine and hurried out of Breezehome, locking the door with a whining Meeko at his heels.
"Fenris!" He paused and felt a swell of irritation. Hawke was approaching with Isabela at his side through the pouring rain.
"I'm on my way out," Fenris said, pulling the hood up over his head.
"Where are you off to?" Isabela asked, looking miserable in the rain.
"I'm going to look for Evelyna."
"Where did she go?"
Fenris looked at Hawke pointedly. "I don't know, I need to find her. If something happens - bah."
He turned on his heels and began his hulking, wolf-like approach to the gates of the city, taking a sip of the wine and shoving the cork back into it as well as he could.
"Is something wrong?" Isabela asked, hurrying after him with Hawke beside her.
"Last night when we left the tavern we were ambushed," Fenris explained with irritation. "Now she's off somewhere alone, and I'm afraid there are more enemies out there."
"I've never seen you worried about anyone before," Isabela said with a smirk in her tone, "I can't wait to tell Varric."
Fenris growled in response, hardly amused. The pirate queen didn't understand, she had no idea of the dire urgency of their situation. Skyrim teetered on a knife's edge, and if Evelyna was killed, Skyrim would tumble after her. Once the World-Eater had his fill of Tamriel, surely he'd find his way to Thedas. Not that Thedas' well-being mattered anymore, across the briny sea.
"Do you want company?" Hawke called out to him, hurrying along in the mud.
"No," he answered, head down as he skulked towards the gates. Raindrops dripped from the fur hood of his cloak, and the puddles he stomped through splashed noisily.
"Come to the Bannered Mare later, then, we need to discuss tomorrow."
"I want to go," Isabela said to Hawke. "Let's help him."
"No, Isabela, it isn't our business."
Fenris didn't stop to wait for them to squabble over it. He stalked towards the gates angrily, the rain dripping down the front of his hood and into his boots. Meeko's usual playful demeanor had vanished, making him look more a wolf sulking than a hound with a wagging tail and hanging tongue.
Fenris shouldered through the gates, slipping through the small opening the guards had provided him with. He hurried over the drawbridge, past the camp of Khajits tucked away in their tents, hiding out from the rain. Fenris stopped at the stables and saw that Evelyna's horse hadn't gone. He took his own horse and rode across the road, opting to search the nearby tundra and hills for her, an angry Dragonborn.
The rain came down in thick, loud sheets all around him. It drowned the world. Surely even the dragons wouldn't come out to play today.
Fenris was miserable. The rain had soaked through his clothes wherever he was not wearing a wolf's fur. He shivered atop his massive mare, fingers stiff around the reigns. Meeko didn't seem to be tracking anyone, or anything, until at some point he began to bark furiously and leap off over the soggy, moss-laden ground. He was on some type of trail, but it remained to be seen if it was Evelyna's.
It had been an hour now, at least, since Fenris had left Breezehome. He was beginning to believe that Evelyna had fled further, not just to remain around Breezehome. He feared that she had left for Dragon Bridge without him.
The thought worried him. He spurred the mare onward, following the sopping wet wolfhound through the thick wall of rain.
Meeko had brought him to a body. A bearded, thickly muscled man lay dead with arrow-wounds to his chest. The rain made the blood drip down in red streams over his ribs and onto the earth. Fenris saw that the body had been looted, and a broken, Daedric arrow lay near it.
Evelyna had Daedric arrows. He remembered them from Blackreach.
Meeko circled the body, and Fenris noticed that there were booted footprints leaving the body. He dismounted the mare and led her by the reins, hoping that he wouldn't find himself pinpricked with Daedric arrows. Nonetheless, he kept his eyes open.
A half hour of searching showed him that an entire bandit camp had been raided, seemingly by one individual who had killed all the bandits and stolen all the loot. An old, crumbling stone wall was scorched in black as if a dragon had breathed fire upon it. And yet, there were no dragon prints in the mud. The bodies of bandits he found were vaguely warm, and those that were not charred to a crisp were still flexible. Their deaths were generally recent, but whoever had killed them had moved on. So he did as well.
Fenris mounted the mare and turned the horse back towards Whiterun. He shivered on the makeshift saddle, spurring his horse to move quicker. The rain was easing, but still miserable and near impossible to see through.
It felt a lifetime before he made his way back into Whiterun after putting his horse back into the stall. Meeko skulked ahead on lanky legs, looking nearly as miserable as Fenris felt. Being back within the confines of the Whiterun walls didn't help to make him feel any warmer, though, and he built a fire with frozen, trembling hands in Evelyna's home.
She was nowhere to be seen or heard, and he assumed she was still out gallivanting and murdering bandits. Perhaps she was at a tavern on a man's lap. That thought made him sick in his stomach. As the flames finally began to take to the logs, Fenris peeled off the wolf furs and the layers of his armor, trying to enjoy the warmth from the fire. He sat in the chair bare-chested with only leggings on, drawn up close to the flames with a bottle of wine propped beside him. Meeko curled along the floor beside him, smelling of wet dog.
At last he began to feel drier and warmer. It was a miserable day, on the inside and out, and the heat of the fire only seemed to lessen the cruel brunt of it. The wind had picked up outside, howling all around the house like a pack of murderous wolves. When the door to Breezehome opened, he felt a scowl on his face. A familiar frame stepped in from the rain, water dripping from fur skirts and long, black hair.
Fenris stared at her as she stepped into the light of the flames. Gooseflesh covered her exposed skin, and Meeko sniffed at her feet. Mud splattered her legs, but there was no blood to be seen. She had been washed clean from the rain.
Evelyna looked at him briefly in the eyes, and then moved to unclasp some of her armor and peel off what she could so she could dry. She threw her armor onto the floor by the fire and wrang out her hair. Fenris averted his eyes, aware of how unworthy he felt in her presence. She left him sitting there, and took a bath while he descended into madness.
This was horrid, he thought, after a half hour of her in the bath. He should have bucked up, should have dealt with his memories. He was weak to be brought so easily to his knees, and over what - a fluttering memory? He felt a fool, by and far. He was more than ashamed at himself, and could not wrench himself from this feeling, even as Evelyna stepped out from the bath, dressed in fresh pelts and leathers.
A few moments later, she was sitting in the chair beside him with her eyes firmly on the fire. Evelyna took a long swig from the wine bottle between them and crossed her legs at her ankles, twining her fingers over her stomach. Fenris leaned back in his chair and tried to watch her out of the corner of his eye, but she was out of his periphery, and he would not risk facing her.
"When are your friends leaving tomorrow?" Evelyna asked him eventually, when the silence was so uncomfortable he felt he couldn't stand it any longer.
"I... haven't talked with them," he replied, voice solemn and weary.
"Dare I ask what you did today?"
That earned a look. Fenris turned his head and met eyes with her sternly. "I went after you, Evelyna. Dare I ask what you were doing, taking on clans of bandits by yourself?"
Evelyna snarled, and he was reminded of the wild, barbaric way that she looked back when he had met her. But no sooner had the snarl vanished had he realized he longed to kiss her again, ached to have her beneath him.
"What makes you think that was me?"
Fenris growled and leaned forward, his elbows on his knees with his hands intertwined. A hard gaze met Evelyna's, accusing. "I found a broken Daedric arrow -"
"I'm not the only one with Daedric arrows, Fenris."
He continued, unhindered. "I found scorched bodies before a wall that had been completely charred. As if a dragon breathed fire on it." Fenris snorted in bitter mirth. "But the only footprints I found were yours."
Evelyna crossed her arms and looked towards the fire. "Dragons don't have to land to kill." She sighed. "I had a contract to kill them, from before I met you."
He didn't need to ask why she had waited until today to fulfill her end of that bargain. She was angry, furious. Perhaps she'd never let him forget it, never forgive him. Not that he could truly blame her. Still, the thought shamed him deeply.
"Lydia came for you."
"What does she want?"
"She said you can't be alone outside the city, but last night proves you can't be alone inside them either. She wants to see you."
Evelyna chewed on her bottom lip, staring at the fire intently as silence permeated the stone walls. What he would give to know what she was thinking. "I have no keeper," she said after another minute.
"I know," Fenris agreed. He felt a tremble run through him. "When would you like to leave tomorrow?"
"Dawn," Evelyna said, not looking at him still. "I'm not waiting for your friends. If you want us all to go together, so be it, but they need to be here at dawn."
Fenris nodded. "I'll let them know." He moved to put his damp clothes on, and with his back turned towards her asked, "Am I still welcome here?"
The silence that ensued gnawed at him from the inside. He shouldered into his tunic and felt shame burning in his ears, feeling foolish at his own question. Of course not.
"You're welcome here," Evelyna answered after a moment, her voice almost sad and resigned. Then she rose as he was buttoning up his tunic and putting his armor on, and moved to break off a piece of bread for herself. Fenris headed towards the door.
"I am sorry," he confessed.
The elf began to unroll a map, biting into her bread. She didn't meet his eyes as she weighted down the corners of the map with various mugs and apples. "It's a shame, Fenris. I would've been good to you."
Fenris opened the door. The rain had slowed to a drizzle, but it was still as miserable as ever. "You are."
And then he stepped out into the evening.
I hate for it to be so short, I'm sorry. I wanted you guys to have something, and the transition was going to be tough. I'm sorry! So sorry! I will do my best to get as much out as possible before the Elder Scrolls Online comes out, because that will engulf all of my free time after full-time school and work. Thanks for reading! I'm sorry to break your hearts - but hang in there!