She made her way south with Aela, the twins having stayed behind to explore Ysgramor’s tomb, but Vilkas promised he wouldn’t linger long. Just before she’d left, Farkas took Wuuthrad from the statue and handed it back to her.
“This is yours now,” he said.
Luthien only nodded, and took the blade, meeting gazes with Vilkas one last time before she slung Wuuthrad over her back and left them to the tomb.
Halfway back to Whiterun, she and Aela parted ways, Aela claiming she felt the need to roam, but Luthien just wanted to go home.
Every day she spent apart from him felt like an eternity filled with doubt and fear that he wouldn’t come back at all and that promise had been their final goodbye.
Days, she conferred with Vignar and went through Kodlak’s books, reading and rereading his journals and trying to come to terms with her new role as Harbinger of the Companions. Nights she lay awake listening to the wind howl like a wolf outside her windows, as if her lost wolf spirit were railing in protest at how easily she’d set it free. She didn’t miss the beastblood, but she missed Vilkas; his warmth, his touch, his whisper in the darkness as he drew her body into his and claimed her completely.
One week passed, and then two, and her fear only grew. She worried that something had happened to the brothers, but one afternoon as she was coming out of Jorrvaskr on her way to Breezehome for the night, she spied two familiar figures passing through the gates below. Her stomach fluttered, the pace of her heart quickening as she gripped her skirt in her hands and flew down the stairs from Jorrvaskr two at a time.
She ran. Down through the Wind District, blowing through the guards, who called after her to watch where she was going as she blazed through the Merchant’s Circle. When Vilkas saw her coming, he started toward her too and caught her in his arms, spinning her as he drew her into a hungry kiss, both of them laughing when he finally set her on her feet again. His lips had never tasted so sweet, his arms never felt so strong. She felt like he might crush her, but she didn’t care. He was home, and they were getting married, and every day for the rest of her life he would be hers and hers alone.
She didn’t even realize she’d started crying until he drew back to look at her, as if he hadn’t seen her in years. Reaching up to brush the tears from her cheek, he swept in and kissed the place his fingers had just touched and said, “Don’t cry, Love. I’m here now.”
“I know, but I was… and you were gone so long… I feared the worst.”
“I took good care of him,” Farkas said. “The least you could have done was brought us a drink. I’m dying of thirst.”
“I have plenty of mead at the house. Come. I’ll make you dinner and you can tell me about your trip home.”
The brothers followed her into Breezehome, where Lydia immediately set to pouring them fresh cups of mead as they took off their armor and stretched their muscles from the tension that came from carrying such weight around for so long.
“Did you find what you were looking for in Ysgramor’s Tomb?” she asked, setting a plate down in front of him before she took the seat beside him.
“Yes,” he nodded, then exchanged wary glances with his brother. “And no.”
“What do you mean, no?” Luthien looked between them, their mirrored secrecy falling on Lydia, who hovered in the shadows.
“Lydia, will you run up to Belethor and see if he has any mead. These two are liable to drink us out of house and home and I want to make sure there is plenty to go around.”
“Of course, my thane.”
She waited until the woman was gone, then returned her attention to the brothers. “What do you mean, no?”
“But you’ve only just got back.”
“We want you to come with us,” Farkas explained.
“We did a lot of thinking,” Vilkas began. “Well, I did a lot of thinking, and Farkas just sort of sat there, as he’s prone to do, but we talked, and we both know that Kodlak was right.”
“You mean you know that Kodlak was right, and Farkas went along because he didn’t know what else to do?” she teased, ducking away from the swat of his playful hand.
“Vilkas says you’re the new Kodlak. I don’t know what that means, but I do know that I can still kick your ass with one arm tied behind my back.”
Vilkas nudged his brother, and the grin began to fade from Farkas’s face until he was the most serious she’d ever seen him. It was strange, she marveled, how much they looked alike. If not for Farkas’s brawn, she didn’t think she would have been able to tell them apart.
“What my brother is trying to say is that… we want to live and die as honorable warriors… and men.”
“You didn’t smell the same when you came out of the tomb,” Farkas said. “At first I didn’t know why, but Vilkas said you cured yourself.”
Nodding slowly, she reached for her mug and took a drink. “I did. Just after I cured Kodlak’s spirit, I threw another head into the flames and destroyed my own wolf spirit. I couldn’t…”
“We understand why you did it.” Vilkas reached over and rested his hand atop hers. “Would you help us slay our wolf spirits? So we can live the way men were meant to live?”
“I would be honored to help you both.”
Both of them seemed to relax, as if her answer had lifted some of the world’s weight from their broad shoulders.
“I know I promised you that we would go to the temple when we returned…” Vilkas started, but she held up her hand to stop him.
“I still want to go.” He gently squeezed her fingers inside his. “I want to be a good man and a good husband, Luthien, and I can’t be either of those things as I am now.”
“You are a good man, now, and I love you no matter what burdens you bear. I will bear them with you until the end of my days.”
“And I’m going home, before things start to get all mushy and I start to feel sick.” Farkas scooted the bench away from the table and rose to his full height, nearly bumping his head on the rafters above him.
“When do we leave for the tomb?”
“When you say we leave. You are the new Kodlak, though I’m still trying to figure out how that whole thing works. Does he live in you, like a familiar or something? Can you summon him at will?”
“It’s a figure of speech, Farkas. She’s the Harbinger now. How many times do I have to explain… Never mind. Go home. I’ll explain it to you again tomorrow.”
“We’ll leave at dawn,” Luthien said when he reached the door, just as Lydia was coming back into the house.
“You might as well come with me,” Farkas lowered his arm over her shoulder. “I have a feeling they’re gonna bring the house down tonight, if you know what I mean.”
For a long while, they sat in the quiet, his hand on hers, Farkas’s heavy voice waning until it finally grew silent, right about the time they walked through the front doors of Jorrvaskr, she figured. She got up from the table and walked over to put another log on the fire, and as she was laying it among the coals, she felt him behind her. She hadn’t even heard him get up, much less walk across the creaking floorboards, but when she rose, he was standing there, the fire flickering across his skin, that insatiable hunger burning in his beautiful eyes.
“You should let me do that,” he nodded toward the hearth, reaching to take the split log from her.
“I kept the fires burning while you were gone,” she grinned. “I know what I’m doing.”
“Do you now?” He bent to lay the second log beside hers and came back up dusting his hands. “Why don’t you show me?”
“I just did, but if you really want me to show you again…” She started to lean down to grab another log and he grabbed her by the wrist, tugging her into his chest.
“Show me how you kept the first burning while I was gone.”
Luthien felt joy tugging at her heart, her stomach rumbling with nervous anticipation. It felt like months had passed since the last time they’d made love, just before he left for Falkreath the morning everything changed. They’d both been beasts then, but she was no more. Would it be different? Would he lose control and ravage her? Did it really matter?
Raising her hands to rest against on his shoulders, she lifted her gaze to his the top of her tongue darting out to moisten her lips. Luthien was a tall girl, but she had to rise up on the tips of her toes to reach his ear, exhaling warm breath as she whispered, “Follow me upstairs and I’ll show you.”
Moving back, she never let her stare waver from his, even as she drew away and started for the stairs. Vilkas’s jaw rested against his chest. She could see it; her unexpected aggression and certainty was like pouring oil onto a fire. Without a word, he followed her up the stairs, into the bedroom, where she closed the door and then turned to face him.
She stalked toward him, walking him backward until he found the bed, tumbling down and drawing her with him. Before he could take control, roll her onto her back and take her, she gripped his wrists and held them above his head, lowering until her lips hovered just over his. Her kiss whispered across his, and he lifted his hungry mouth to hers, but she drew back, watching his eyes widen in surprise.
“What is this game?” He was grinning, as though he approved, but skeptical about the rules he didn’t seem to understand. From the day they’d met, he’d dominated her, been her Alpha, her master, but if they were going to spend the rest of their lives together, he needed to know that they could share the power, take turns holding the reins from time to time. She was the Harbinger, the Dragonborn, and though she loved knowing he would be a good husband to her, care for her and look out for her, sometimes he would have to let her lead.
“This is how I keep the fire burning.” Her eyebrow lifted, and he relaxed, allowing her to take control and show him what she was made of.
The few times he attempted to take over and roll her onto her back again, she stopped him by gripping his arms and holding him down, saying nothing, but shaking her head. It drove him wild, she could see the hunger in his eyes, even when she followed through and carried him all the way to release, every moment she’d held him down had been almost impossible for him to endure. She’d felt the fever rise against his skin, that undeniable warmth and burning flame of the beast inside him railing against her, but she had tamed that beast and made him her own.
When she’d finished him off after satisfying herself, she curled up on his chest and listened to his heartbeat, a steady rhythm that quickly slowed to match her own. They’d held one another after that, Vilkas combing his fingers through her hair and stirring chills in her as he stroked untold patterns across her shoulder.
But the beast never relaxed long, and he was soon ready to go again. She let him lead, let him dominate and bring her to his will, and when all was said and done, they were both at peace. Luthien slept then, curled into his warmth and letting the sound of his breath carry her to a state of comfort she planned to spend the rest of her days enjoying.