Missing in Action: Chapter One

As promised awhile ago, I want to write some stories about the alternate timeline that transpired after Luthien defeated Alduin in The Dragonborn Chronicles. The life in which she chose Farkas was different, and for awhile I’ve had an idea simmering in my mind so I thought it was time to write it. I will still be updating A Kiss, Sweet Mother and The Pilgrim’s Path, but sometimes you have to follow the muse where it takes you. Right now my muse wants to spend time with Farkas, so I will not deny her.

Missing in Action takes place a couple of months after the events in The Lost Years: Wolf Moon, when Luthien and Aela went on rampage against the Silver Hand. Things in Whiterun have been slow. The Companions have no work to offer and the people of Whiterun Hold seem to be enjoying an odd time of peace. When Luthien involves herself in the ongoing feud between the Battle-Borns and the Gray-Manes, it stirs tension between herself and the Companions, including her new husband who told her it was not their place to get in the middle of an obvious family affair.

I am planning for Missing in Action to be a short novella.

Chapter One

Beastblood made it hard for her to sleep, but not Farkas. Since they’d come back from Riften married and he’d moved into Breezehome two months earlier, she’d quickly come to understand her new husband could sleep just about anywhere. No matter the circumstances or commotion, Farkas could just close his eyes and let it all go. She’d watched more than once as he drifted off over a mug of mead at the kitchen table after a particularly exhausting day, and she couldn’t count the number of times he’d fallen asleep in the chair near the hearth while she and Lydia banged through pots and pans in an effort to make dinner together.

It was as if he turned the beast off and just yielded himself to some silent void inside, his heavy, steady breath offering comfort and peace while she lay in the dark struggling, staring at the ceiling.

She didn’t have to peel back the curtains to see both moons, which were probably settling into the horizon to make way for the sun, were almost full. She could feel their power tugging on her soul and making her restless. The Inner-Circle didn’t require the moons, they could shift into beast form at will and at night while she lay there all pins and needles beneath the skin it was all she could think about. Racing across the earth on all fours beneath the moonlight, the scent of prey just up ahead and her lover close behind her.

Kodlak asked the two of them not to hunt, not to give in to their beastblood. Not after everything that had happened with Aela and Skjor and the Silver Hand.

It wasn’t safe; it wasn’t smart. Luthien knew that, and even though the greater part of her hated what she’d allowed Skjor and Aela to talk her into, there was another part of her that wanted to give into the wolf inside her more than anything. The bond she shared with Farkas was already incredibly powerful. She’d felt it the very first time they’d come face to face at the Pelagia farm and he’d told her about the Companions. But in beast form the two of them hunted and moved as one.

Not giving in didn’t make it any easier to resist its urgings. All senses intensified by its presence within her, she need only to draw breath in order to smell him. The musky scent of the beast inside him stirred her inner-wolf and made her hunger for his rough touch. She breathed in again and could smell the fire in the hearth downstairs, the dried balsam sap in the burning wood giving off a sweet, yet acrid odor. Every single herb in the satchel beside the apothecary table in the potions room filled her when she breathed in and if she pushed her tongue along the roof of her mouth she could almost taste dried and powdered dragons tongue and lavender.

The sound of Lydia rolling over in her bed on the other side of the house was followed by the logs shifting in the hearth below, and then Farkas drew another breath before maneuvering onto his back beside her. There wasn’t a moment’s peace, and as much as she loved how often her heightened senses came in handy, especially as a Companion, she was always exhausted. Every bone in her body ached all the time, and her muscles constantly felt overtaxed  and stressed. And sometimes the only thing that kept the depression swelling inside her from overwhelming her completely was Farkas.

It almost annoyed her that he could sleep as easily as he did and for a moment she contemplated purposely nudging her elbow into his ribs and then feigning innocence when he woke with a start.

Lifting her head to glance over at her husband, a part of her hoped he was just as restless as she was, but her movement didn’t stir him and she knew she should just leave him to sleep in peace. It was the kind thing to do, and even if there was another hour until dawn she could make breakfast and bring it to him in bed.

Peeling back the quilt, she edged out of the bed, but no sooner did she sit up before his hand curled around her wrist. She could feel the calluses across the span of his palm, their deliciously rough scrape over her skin coupled with the deep rumble of his tired voice making her shiver as he asked, “Where are you going? It’s still dark.”

“I can’t sleep,” she muttered, turning her head over her shoulder to look back at him. “I didn’t want to wake you with all that tossing and turning so…”

“I wasn’t sleeping,” he confessed, drawing at her wrist until she gave in and fell back across the bed and into his arms. His thick forearm tightened against the small of her back as he hugged her and lowered his lips to the top of her head, and she lowered her cheek against the relaxed muscles of his bare chest.

“Liar,” she chuckled, drawing the tip of her finger through the soft hair there. “You were snoring no less than half an hour ago.”

“I don’t snore.” She could hear the smile in his voice, could see it when she closed her eyes, and it always made her feel at ease.

Sometimes she couldn’t believe he was hers. She actually found herself pausing to revel in her good fortune, as if she’d wandered lonely through a hundred lifetimes searching for the other half of her soul only to have finally come face to face with him again. She loved him so much it was hard to breathe at times, and then he’d kiss her and her racing heart calmed as she sunk into the molten wonder that was their life together.

Stifling a yawn, he stretched his body against hers. “What time is it?”

“Just before dawn.” Her trailing finger circled down over the ticklish skin of his stomach and he shivered, his hand immediately shooting up to curl around her fingers and stop her from making him squirm. “If we had a job to do, we could leave now, but…”

“There will be more work soon enough,” he assured her. “It’s better to appreciate these dry spells while they last.”

“Aye,” she agreed, “but I get so restless now.”

“It’s the beastblood,” he told her, his strong hand sliding up her back again in soothing motions.

After Skjor and Aela had shared the blood with her, their celebration resulting in a rampant, vengeance-fueled killing spree that put Luthien at odds with herself, Farkas had come after her, brought her back into the fold and made her feel whole again. Well, as whole as someone could be after the things Luthien had done. They’d been avenging Skjor, but no matter how hard she tried to convince herself all that senseless murder had been for a good cause, it was no use.

She’d spent weeks with Kodlak, who’s addled mind often made it difficult for him to focus, but he’d still told her everything he knew about the beastblood and how the Companions had come to be cursed with it. It was the pack’s natural inclination to wander, he told her when she asked him why every nerve in her body always felt like someone had set fire to it, and yet the Companions hadn’t left Whiterun in hundreds of years except to perform their duties when called upon by the citizens of Skyrim for aid.

“Maybe the jarl needs some work done.” She lifted her head to look down at him, the early twilight shedding just enough light through the window that she could just see the soft glow of his brilliant blue eyes in the darkness. “A dragon in need of slaying.”

“Maybe.” Twining his fingers into the loose hair at the back of her neck, he lowered her face to his and brushed his lips against hers. “Or maybe your husband has a job or two to keep you occupied.” The trunk of his thigh shifted, knee drawing upward as he shifted onto his side and drew her leg to rest atop his. He nestled her against him and buried his face into the crook of her neck, wet kisses trailing along the curve as she stretched into him. She could feel the hard press of his excitement through the sheet across his waist, and it roused the longing inside her that never felt sated. “At least until the sun comes up.”

“You are so bad,” she laughed, turning into his kiss.

She loved the feel of his grin against her mouth as he rolled into her, pinning her on her back in the bed beneath him and softly growling. “You like me when I’m bad.”

“Mm,” she agreed, rising to gently nip the fullness of his lower lip before suckling his kiss into her mouth. “I do like it when you’re bad.”

Lifting the blanket to invite her back into bed, their naked bodies tangled together as the sun rose over Whiterun. Beneath him, she felt whole and safe, as if not a single one of the world’s troubles could ever break her. Burying her stifled pleasure in his shoulder to keep from waking Lydia, the heat of their whispered bliss made it easy to ignore the chill in the air, the silver hoar of frost coating the grass outside, the promise of their breath on the wind. With Farkas, she knew she would never know what it felt like to be cold again, and the warmth they shared had nothing to do with the constant fire of their beastblood.

Still inside her, he rocked back onto his side, gripping her legs in both hands and rolling with her, rising until she was nestled in his lap and looking down at him through heavily-lidded eyes while they writhed into perfect rhythm together. His unshaven chin rushed across the soft skin of her neck, the soft flutter of his tongue tickling and teasing before his warm breath sent chills rippling through her and his mouth sought hers. He devoured every kiss, swallowing her eager gasps and moans inside himself.

And to think just a few months before she’d been terrified, not just of sex, but of yielding some secret part of herself to another in that way. Her mother always told her to guard and keep herself for the right man, for the man she wanted to spend the rest of her life with, but she’d been scared? How would she know the first man was the right man? How could she possibly tell if her confused hormones simply wanted a quick release, or if the feelings inside her were real? But she’d known. From the first moment he’d kissed her, she wanted nothing more than to feel him inside forever, to give her body, mind and soul over to him as he did the same, the two of them living, breathing, completely existing as one.

Just that thought of how powerful those emotions were was enough to send her spiraling over the edge and into a shuddering release that made her eyes sting with unshed tears. Farkas soon followed, spilling himself inside her and then holding her against his heaving chest while stroking fingers through her soft red hair.

“Good morning,” he whispered, nudging a kiss across her forehead before descending to find her lips.

Luthien smiled. “Good morning indeed.”

Lying in bed catching her breath, she watched him rise and walk to the chamber pot in the corner to relieve himself. The dull sunlight streaming through the window glowed golden across his wide back, over the tight curve of his backside and when he stretched his shoulders of their constant ache, his long, tousled brown hair caught in the light.

She could look at him for hours—naked, clothed, it didn’t matter. Every muscle, every scar, every hair on his body was perfect and it was hers. Her appreciation for him knew no bounds, and even though he’d just exhausted her in ways that would haunt her all day long, there was actually a part of her that just wanted him to come back to bed and make love to her again and again.

“You hungry?”

“A little,” she rolled onto her side and tugged the blanket back up over her hip.

“I’ll go make breakfast.” He tugged open the drawer and pulled out a pair of clean breeches, sliding them on one leg at a time before drawing into a shirt. He tossed an impish grin over his shoulder at her and then crept quietly downstairs to fix them something to eat.

She stretched her legs beneath the quilt and sheets until her joints crunched and then she nestled her head deeper into the pillow. Kodlak had spoken of a cure for the beastblood during a few of their talks, but not in any great detail. He always put it off, saying there were more important concerns than an old man’s daydreams, but sometimes the thought of a cure was what kept her up at night.

She’d only taken the blood because of Farkas in the first place. The day Skjor sent them to retrieve the fragment of Wuuthrad, she’d watched her best friend transform to protect them both from the Silver Hand. Later when she’d asked him about it, he’d been so cavalier, as if it were no big deal, but when they went back to Jorrvaskr and the Companions had celebrated and welcomed her into their ranks, she’d made the mistake of asking his brother Vilkas about the beastblood.

A curse, he’d called it, and when she found herself glancing across the torchlit yard at Farkas and Torvar chugging back flagons of mead, Luthien’s heart went out to them all. They were her brothers, her sisters, the first people in Whiterun to truly welcome and embrace her and when Skjor offered that curse to her as a gift, she’d taken it. If her family was cursed, she should be too, but not a day had gone by she hadn’t regretted that decision. There were intermittent moments of acceptance, especially when Farkas would convince her to sneak off and run beneath the moon with him, but for the most part there was only sorrow at the prospect of spending the rest of her life in that suspended state between animal and woman.

Lost was any chance of the two of them ever having a normal life together. Gone was the possibility of them having children, a family… unless Kodlak’s ramblings were true and there was a cure.

She hadn’t spoken to Farkas about it, but maybe it was time she did. He wanted a family, and so did she, but she couldn’t imagine bringing a child into the world. Not as they were. Would such a child even be human, or would it be born with the spirit of a wolf? She didn’t want to take any chances of cursing her own offspring that way, but a part of her suspected Farkas wouldn’t care either way. He and Vilkas had taken the blood when they were young, but they’d had the Companions to see them through it. Now the Companions were conflicted, half of them not knowing anymore if the blood was a curse or a gift.

Releasing a long breath, she heard Lydia stirring in the bedroom on the other side of the house.

The scent of bacon and bread frying in the pan wafted up the stairs to tempt her, the sound of pots and pans shuffling and clanging. Climbing out of bed, she wiggled into a simple green dress and slid on her boots before brushing out her hair and heading downstairs to start another day.

She could only hope Jarl Balgruuf had work for them, otherwise she was sure to go stir crazy trying to sort through the thoughtless madness always buzzing in her brain.

Note: You can find the tab for Missing in Action, which contains links to all the chapters as they are updated, in the dropdown menu under The Lost Years.

About erica

Erica North is the fanfiction pseudonym for fantasy/romance author Jennifer Melzer.
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15 Responses to Missing in Action: Chapter One

  1. Elspeth says:

    I’ve missed them so much! The opening image of their home life with Farkas falling asleep into his mead is the best thing I’ve read all week.

    • erica says:

      I don’t know how it’s possible to love two imaginary people as much as I love them. It’s probably institutionally unsound, but I don’t even care. I just want them to manifest in some alternate dimension and run together under the moons.

  2. Dovahkiir says:

    Eeeep yay! <3
    And a child with the spirit of a wolf? I couldn't help but think of Connor. ;u;

  3. Karein says:

    I’ve missed these two :) I’m happy to have woken up to this today :) I’m glad you’re writing again.

  4. YESSSSSS!!!!!! The puppy is back!

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