Neither of them slept much that night. She didn’t know if it was the beastblood that made them restless, or the overwhelming need to touch each other again and again, their bodies spent in ecstasy, but the fire within reigniting their passion every time one of them so much as moved. The last time he made love to her, it was just before dawn, the golden light of the rising sun just outside the windows promising a beautiful, cloudless day.
She drifted in and out of sleep, waking sometime mid-morning to find Vilkas propped and leaning above her, watching over her as she slept with a coy grin that hadn’t left his face since the night before. She’d never seen him smile, not like that, and it made her heart swell that at last she’d achieved the one thing she had worked so hard for. He was tracing his finger over the amulet around her neck, staring at her face, and when she stirred, he immediately lowered in to bring her to life with his kiss.
“Good morning, love,” he whispered, drawing back, brushing a lock of hair from her brow before falling in to kiss her again.
She stretched the aches from her tired body and swept her hand up his back until it rested on his shoulder. “Good morning.”
“I imagine you slept about as well as I did.” He fell into the bed beside her, his tired eyes staring at the ceiling above them.
“How could I sleep with such a strong, virile beast in my bed?”
He laughed. “I’m not so sure anymore it is me who is the beast. My back burns with scratches from those wicked claws of yours.”
“Aw,” she rolled into him, lifting her thigh across his and draping her arm over his chest. “My poor baby. Shall I kiss it better?”
“I want you to mark me again with them,” he growled playfully, then drew her into a forceful kiss.
They scrambled beneath the sheets, the undying need to explore one another never satisfied, as there was always another height to scale to, another part of her body he had yet to kiss, but before they were able to endeavor much deeper than playful tickles and eager kisses down her quivering belly, a knock sounded at the bedroom door, and Vilkas lifted his head, the blanket that hid him falling away from his tousled hair.
“Tell her to go away and leave us alone,” he whispered. “Can’t she hear we’re busy? We’ve been busy for hours. Surely she could hear,” he raised his voice, making Luthien laugh.
“It could be important.” She half sat, Vilkas resting his head on her shoulder before fluttering his lips along her collarbone. “What is it, Lydia?”
“I’m so sorry to bother you, my thane. It’s just that… well, Farkas is here and he’s looking for his brother. He said he didn’t come home last night, and he’s pretty worried. He seems to think you might have been the last person to speak with him, that maybe you have some idea where he might have gone when he left here.”
“Oh for Talos’ sake,” Vilkas muttered. “Tell my brother he’s going to be the death of me,” he bellowed.
“You should go down and talk to him,” Luthien said, smoothing the ruffled locks of his hair. “Let him know everything is all right.”
“Lydia, please tell my brother I’m fine and I will come find him in a couple of hours.” He started to duck back under the blanket again, but then thought better of it. “And you should take the day off. Head up to the market and have a look around. Buy something nice for yourself from the Gray-Mane woman. Just go away and leave us in peace.”
“It’s all right, Lydia, go,” she laughed. “I’ll find you later if I need you.”
“If that’s what you wish, my thane.”
“She wishes it a thousand times, now off with you. Hurry, before all the merchants are gone for the day.”
They listened to Lydia’s footsteps, the sound of her voice underneath the floor, and Farkas’s muffled questions before finally the two of them were gone and they had the house to themselves again.
He raised his eyebrow, a wolfish grin drawing at the left corner of his mouth. “Now,” he lifted the blanket, the chill of the air sweeping beneath it to cool her warm body. “Where were we?”
She didn’t know how they found the strength to come together again so feverishly, but they did, and when Vilkas finally collapsed into the bed beside her with a satisfied groan, she laid next him waiting for her heartbeat to slow and the tingling of excitement to wane from her body.
It was all so new, so wonderful and new, and she wished they could stay there in that bed until the world fell away and left just the two of them until their final days. “I never knew it would be so… wonderful, and I don’t want it to ever stop once it starts,” she said, curling her body closer. He snuggled into her, and that safety she’d felt all night was stronger than ever.
“Neither do I, love,” he admitted. “But eventually, the world will call us back to our places, and we will have to answer.”
“Shh.” She put a finger to his lips. “If we don’t talk about it, maybe it won’t happen.”
Vilkas chuckled, pulling her tighter against him. “The world isn’t going to stop for us, dear one, though I wish I could make it so.”
They lay there in the silence of the house, listening to one another breathe for a long time and taking comfort in the soft strokes of each other’s fingers—Vilkas tracing patterns along the curve of her shoulder, Luthien circling her finger through the sparse hair across his chest.
“What happens now, Vilkas?” she asked.
“What do you mean?”
“Us?” she lifted her head to look down at him. “What happens between us now?”
“Everything. I plan to give you the world,” he grinned. “As soon as things cool down a bit with the Silver Hand, we’ll ride to Riften and I’ll make you my wife.” For a moment she thought she saw a flash of worry in his eyes, and he started to lift his head. “You do want to be my wife, don’t you?”
She felt a tickle of emotion in her throat that didn’t go away even when she cleared it with a soft laugh of relief. “Of course I do. I want to go now. Today, so I never have to spend another minute apart from you. Life is too short, Vilkas. You were right when you said that last night. Tomorrow it could be you, or me and I…”
“Oh love.” He brought her down into his soft kiss, murmuring those words against her lips. “I want that too, believe me I do, but I don’t think it’s safe for us to travel, especially not to a place like Riften where even the rats spread rumors, at least not until the heat of vengeance dies down a bit. I wouldn’t want anything to happen to you on the road to Riften. In fact, I don’t want you to go anywhere for a little while. You should stay here, where it’s safe.”
“I can’t stay here where it’s safe, though I’m coming to feel like nowhere will ever be safe again. The Greybeards have asked me to do something and it really shouldn’t wait,” she said. “They want me to go to Ustengrav and find an artifact for them that they believe will help shed light on the return of the dragons.”
“Do they really think you are the Dragonborn?” His eyebrow shot up with interest, though she saw an underlying hint of apprehension in his gaze. “What did they tell you when you went to High Hrothgar?”
“They taught me how to use the shouts of power, and there are dozens of these dragon words scattered all over the lands. Hidden away in caves, atop mountains, in dungeons,” she said. “They said that when I killed the dragons, the one out by the Western Watchtower and the other in Rorikstead, I absorbed the power of their souls.”
He closed his eyes as if trying to imagine it. “What was it like?”
“Terrifying,” she admitted. “There is so much power there, waiting to be drawn from, like a well, and it scares me, Vilkas. I don’t know what any of it means, or what I’m supposed to do with that power, but it’s mine, my responsibility and my duty to try and figure it out before the dragons reclaim Skyrim and destroy everyone and everything in their path.”
“It sounds dangerous. It won’t be safe for you to go alone. You’ll need a shield-brother,” he said. “I’ll come with you. To Ustengrav and anywhere else they ask you to go. We will figure it out together.”
“Thank you.” She lowered her head to his chest, brushing her lips across the skin there until he trembled. “I don’t know if I can do it alone, but with you beside me… I feel like I could do…”
“Anything?” he asked.
Raising her eyes to his again, she smiled and said, “Everything.”
*Note: Images for these last two chapters have been impossible. Maybe at some point, I will update, but for now, it’s just words.