A/N: Another Skyrim fic, but this one has a different tone. Mostly from Vilkas' point of view with a different take on the Dragonborn.
Marriage in Skyrim wasn't an unhappy occasion. Arranged marriages were mostly eliminated; the majority married for love. That wasn't to say no one married for power, money, or position—it was just fewer and far between. He himself had always imagined falling in love with a woman, marrying, having a family, maybe even settling on a farm outside of Whiterun. This had ruined his chance for it; the marriage could not be annulled, the priests of Mara did not believe in divorce and would not grant one, and it was the condition of marriage that even should his "wife" die, he couldn't marry another. Why, why had he said yes? And in such a bitterly embarrassing way, no less.
She had caught him off guard, walking into his room under the pretense of needing training. Training—he should have seen through it then and he kicked himself for not. She wasn't dressed for training, donned in a thin black slip, her moon-colored skin glowing through the flimsy barely-there material. It left nothing to the imagination, hanging partially open at her bosom. He had never known her to wear anything of the sort, but it was late at night and could have been what she wore to bed. Hanging low in the valley of her breasts was the tell-tale amulet. Looking back, what reason would she have had for wearing it to sleep? The whole ordeal had been a setup; something he should have noticed from the very beginning.
Instead of coming to his senses at that moment, he had choked on his own voice for a few minutes while his absurd, idiotic mind whispered to him that she was beautiful. He had stumbled through a dopey line about the amulet, asking if she had her eye on someone, asking if her interest was in him. Rather than answering him, she had whispered—rather seductively, he thought, or perhaps it had just been too long since he'd had a woman—her own question, asking if he held an interest in her. His lips had moved almost of their own accord, babbling that damned line that now reverberated within his skull, "I'd be glad to stand by your side until the Divines take us, if you'll have me."
If you'll have me, he'd said! She had held all the power, and as he thought it over, he was sure she must have known it. She had smiled, walked flowingly to where he stood and, placing both her small hands on his chest, kissed him. The illusion of her beauty, her warmth towards him, had continued the next day into their travels to Riften and through the course of their wedding. The candlelight had danced ardently across her lips, inviting him for another of her poison kisses as Maramal pronounced them man and wife before their friends. All the Companions stood in the temple to bear witness, all surprised at the suddenness of such affection between the two. He hadn't been able to stop kissing her—she was his oxygen, and for that time he had thought she reciprocated. He had uttered his intentions—foolish, sensitive, vulnerable intentions—to purchase Breezehome for her, to which she smiled softly against his lips and told him to go on without her; she had some business to attend to, but she would meet him as soon as she could. He knew of her role, her duties, her many responsibilities; he let her go, with one last kiss, and headed home to Whiterun without her.
That had been two weeks ago.
Needless to say, his resentment at his "wife" had been building since he first began to feel that he had been duped. She had sent a courier to Breezehome, explaining she would return when the week was out, and so here he sat—on a chair facing the door, his arms crossed, and half a mind to just leave. Why he sat there, had remained for these two long angering weeks, he didn't know. There was a gentle knock at the door, and he realized as he stood that she didn't have a key.
He threw the door wide, mouth open to demand some sort of explanation from her, and she placed a kiss to the underside of his chin—that was as far up as she could reach without standing on tiptoe. The move, however, was robotic. "Hello, husband," she said, tone empty. "I'm sorry to have kept you."
He remained there, stunned in the doorway, as she breezed past him. All traces of warmth or fondness she'd shown him from the night of proposal was gone. She was back to how she had treated him before—distant, cold, formal. His chest tightened uncomfortably at this realization. He strode forward, determined to get answers from her.
She moved about the home with more grace than he'd ever seen from a warrior. It was hard to imagine that the delicate hands removing her armor held a greatsword poised in battle. The Breton woman was stunning, that much was true—upon first look at her long flowing ebony locks and crystalline green eyes, every able bodied man in Whiterun had wanted to take her to bed. What turned them off wasn't that she was Dragonborn, the warrior of legend who housed a dragon's soul and was destined to take down the World-Eater, Alduin; no, it was the way her eyes passed over them, the way she glided when she walked, her chin held so high that in a matter of seconds each of those men was convinced she belonged to a king. She was unattainable, unapproachable…dare he even say intimidating. He himself, after living with her and training with her when she joined the Companions early in her days of Skyrim, had only seen her falter once—Aela had handed her a bow, and the woman had stared at it as though it would come alive and instruct her on its use. She had an eternal mask of calm control, and her apparent lack of passion infuriated him.
"Where had you gone?" he demanded. He mentally scolded himself for his weakness when she stood bare before him, her armor piled in her arms as she ascended the stairs. He followed behind her like a smitten dog asking for scraps.
"When I informed you I had business, you said you understood." He could hear nothing but annoyance in her lilting voice.
"You left the Companions without their Harbinger for two weeks." His anger was fast approaching, and he diverted it from the true reason for it.
"You are second to the Harbinger, Vilkas, and now my husband. Did you not take over while I was absent?"
He had, but she was missing the point. How dare she make a fool of him, marry him and run off. Something occurred to him suddenly—they had yet to consummate the marriage. Perhaps, if he went back to Maramal, the priest would be sympathetic. His eyes caught a glint; her ring sparkled brightly on her finger as she dressed herself in a gown, and he looked down at the gold band on his own hand almost with a sigh. He could feel pieces of his rage dropping away.
"Do you have any idea how it looks when I cannot tell people where my new wife has gone off to?" He stepped into the room towards her, no longer content to brood in the doorway, and her eyes appraised him, gauging the level of his anger.
"I had no idea that you cared so deeply for appearances," she stated. "I was away and now I have returned; that's what matters, husband. Go before me to Jorrvaskr, will you?"
"Gladly," he said with a growl as his frustration with her slammed back into him full force. However, as his eyes swept over her form, he couldn't help asking another question. "What occasion at Jorrvaskr requires such a dress?"
"I can't very well approach Jarl Balgruuf in my bloodied armor, now can I?"
I wasn't aware you were stopping at Dragonsreach. He kept another growl from escaping, launching himself down the steps and out into the brisk twilight air.
The woman had always frustrated him—anyone who could remain calm in a situation that demanded a certain fire, a passion of spirit, frustrated him. His twin had laughed at him on many occasions.
"Just get to know her," Farkas had said. "She's great."
Great, his brother had said. Besides being a delight on the eyes, he had yet to see what about her was so very great. He took the walk to Jorrvaskr at a near run, wrenching open the door as the warmth of the fire pit greeted him. Farkas sat alone at a bench—Vilkas could hear Athis and Njada having a heated argument out back, and Aela was no doubt downstairs. Farkas glanced up to face his brother with a surprised expression.
"You look livid," Farkas observed dryly. "Worried about Aveline? Wasn't she supposed to return today?"
"Worried about her?" Vilkas bit his tongue against the myriad of sharp responses he had to that question. Farkas did not deserve his rage. "Yes, brother, she returned today."
The larger of the twins craned his neck, trying to peer around Vilkas. "Where is she?"
"Dragonsreach." He couldn't help the sour tone to his voice…not that he tried necessarily hard to hide his displeasure.
Farkas took in his brother carefully. "Why are you so unhappy? Did the two of you fight?"
Fight? Fight with her? She, who let a frost troll bat her around like a toy and never so much as yelled? She, whose unending unwavering calm was the bane of his existence? She, who hadn't so much as raised a fist in anger even when the cold-blooded bastards of the Silver Hand had infiltrated their home and murdered the greatest among them?
"No," spoke Vilkas through clenched teeth. "We did not fight."
"Then what warrants such a face?" There was a teasing edge to Farkas' vioice. Apparently he had determined Vilkas was not quite angry enough to be serious.
"Where shall I start?" Vilkas dropped into the bench beside his brother.
Farkas clapped one hand on Vilkas' shoulder and the other reached to get him a bottle of mead. "The beginning might be best." When Vilkas swept his head to glare, Farkas tilted his head toward him with a cheeky grin. "Honestly, Vilkas, you used to talk to Kodlak all the time."
Vilkas stared at his mead bottle. Kodlak had essentially been his father, or at the very least the closest thing to it. Vilkas, as everyone knew, was an intelligent man—numerous people, Companion or not, came to him for advice for everything from battle tactics to matters of the heart. Farkas himself had come to him quite a few times when trying to court a woman, the most recent of whom was Ysolda. Kodlak had known, however, that as a man Vilkas was not immune to needing such advice and had become Vilkas' only confidante. He sorely wished now more than ever that the old Harbinger was still alive.
"Farkas, my marriage is…" He fished for the proper word. Farkas and Aveline were close, extremely so for her reserved personality, and it occurred to him that anything negative he had to say about her could possibly head her way. He wanted to remain as truthful to the situation as possible without badmouthing her…After all, she was still his wife.
"Is what?" Farkas urged carefully.
"Complicated," his twin settled. "Unbearably complicated."
To his surprise, Farkas laughed. "I figured as much, actually, from how hasty the marriage was. I mean, none of us even knew you were courting her! She didn't even tell me she liked you!"
Vilkas felt his face beginning to burn, whether in embarrassment at his predicament or renewed anger at the situation she had placed him in he wasn't sure. He waited until his brother's laughter had died down before opening his mouth to answer. Farkas, however, was too quick for him.
"So when is she due?"
Whatever color Vilkas had gained in his face drained instantly. His jaw nearly dropped. "W-what?"
"That's the reason for the swift marriage, isn't it? She's with child?" At his brother's stunned expression, Farkas drew his brows together. "She's not, is she? Damn. Was she set to marry another and you were overcome? Swept her away from him?"
Vilkas felt his nose wrinkle as his mind tried to picture it. Honestly, he had never pictured her marrying; it didn't seem to fit her personality, and she sure as hell had not shown an interest in any man that he had seen. The night of the proposal, in his room, in that translucent dress, was the softest he had ever seen her—and that, at least to him, had been a lie. He had entertained the notion for a while early on that she would marry his brother, steeling himself lest he be stuck with her for a sister-in-law. He had banished the thought rather quickly when he heard the whispers around Whiterun that Jarl Balgruuf was besotted with the Dragonborn, and it had seemed much more fitting for her to marry a Jarl, despite the age difference and the Jarl's three children.
"No," sighed Vilkas. His memory had reminded him again that she had no reason to marry him, held no affection for him, and now instead of being angry he felt strangely tired. "She was not set to marry another."
Farkas looked thoughtful, tapping his chin. "Not a baby, not another man…What is it then? It's odd that she wouldn't tell me she was in love with you. I expected it from you to hide your feelings, brother, not her."
"That's the thing, Farkas." He expressed another sigh. "She's not in love with me. Far from it."
His brother didn't seem to grasp it. "What do you mean she's not?" he demanded. "Why would she marry you if she wasn't?"
"I don't know, your guess is as good as mine."
"Why did you propose, then?"
"She…" Vilkas' dark eyes searched his brother's, hoping foolishly that Farkas would know the answer. "In a way, she proposed to me. I don't…I couldn't honestly tell you right now why I said yes. She just looked so…and she acted…"
Frustrated at his weakness, he took a fast swig of the mead in front of him and let his forehead clunk to the table. Farkas, through his confusion, found a way to organize his face into an expression of amusement. "You love her."
"I do not!" Vilkas snarled, eyes flashing fire. Had the two brothers still possessed the beast spirit, Farkas had no doubts that Vilkas' control might have snapped clean in two. "She is the bane of my existence. She has tricked me somehow, enchanted me that night, ensnared me forever, and now I am trapped."
"For someone who claims not to be in love, she's certainly gotten under your skin."
"If that is love, let it die." He drank more of his mead, swallowing it fast and willing the alcohol to improve his mood. "No man deserves this."
"You are too quick to condemn it, brother. Give it some time." Farkas grinned wolfishly and winked. "Being married to the beauty of Skyrim can't be that terrible."
Vilkas had no desire to explain to his brother their lack of contact, and his disgust at the situation was seeping into his opinion of the woman. Before, he'd admit, he had watched her lithe body move in battle and wondered if she moved like that in the bedroom. He had imagined, after bemoaning her lack of passion, if it came to a peak during sex, if he could make her moan and scream and writhe beneath him. Since she had joined the Companions nearly four years ago, then just a fresh face, green, a new blood, his desires had tripled, and suddenly no woman had satisfied him. Marriage would be his opportunity to sample her, but he could not, would not, take her if she was unwilling.
The door opened, alerting them with a creak. Vilkas didn't have to look to know who entered; her soft steps made it obvious. Any of the other Companions would have stomped in. Farkas gave her a blinding smile.
"Aveline!" he exclaimed, standing to embrace her. Vilkas didn't turn, didn't want to see her treat his brother with tenderness when she couldn't even remain in the same room as her husband. Why could she not muster the same warmth for the man she was married to?
"Good evening, Farkas." She was smiling. He could hear it.
"It's been too long! Where did you vanish off to?"
"Just a few things to take care of for a friend of mine in Riverwood."
There was no irritation to her tone the way there had been when Vilkas asked. He downed more of his mead.
"Come, sit by your husband," Farkas ushered, sensitive to his brother's tightening back.
"I can't possibly," she said, and Vilkas clenched his jaw so hard that his teeth clicked together. "It's getting late and I'm very tired from traveling. I came to speak with Tilma about some official business and then I shall head home."
He felt eyes on his back and ignored them, drinking.
"I will see you at home, husband."
Oh, look at that, a comment directed at him for a change, how lovely. He ignored it stubbornly. Farkas, ever the mediator, attempted to placate the situation. "Can't you stay a while? Vilkas and I have missed you while you were gone."
She laughed, laughed, and it sounded like the tinkling of bells. "I'm afraid I truly can't, Farkas. I promise I will take the time to come see you tomorrow, and as for Vilkas, well…He is my husband now, is he not?"
"You tell me," grumbled Vilkas around his mead bottle. "Certainly doesn't feel like it."
This time, it was she who ignored him. "I will see him at home, and every day, for the rest of my life."
Don't sound so fucking thrilled about it, Dragonborn.
It had been over a year since he had last referred to her, even in his own mind, as the Dragonborn. He didn't stop to analyze its meaning, he merely stood—so quickly in fact that the bench skidded back against the floor—and rushed past them both. He saw from the corner of his eye when she frowned, her head following him as he left. Her voice cut through the haze of his mind, as it always did.
"Where are you going?" she asked.
He wanted to laugh. She wasn't really concerned now, was she? He wanted to leave without answering her, but before he realized it he had replied, "Bannered Mare." He cursed under his breath. "Don't follow me," he added harshly, and then he was out in the night headed towards a few hours of alcohol-induced bliss.
A/N: I would really appreciate some reviews for this. Please and thank you.