Farkas wasn’t in the practice yard when she rounded the corner, but Vilkas was. She stopped near the post and watched for a moment as he spun in perfect form, the arc of his heavy, two-handed sword colliding with the dummy and taking off its arm. He didn’t stop there, but drew the blade back up in a blurring flash of blue steel, slicing across the dummy’s straw-stuffed belly until bits of golden hay spilled onto the paving stones between Vilkas and his prey.
So much pent up anger and rage. He must really hold back when he was sparring with her, she thought, and for a moment she was relieved that though he obviously had some issues with her, at least he was on her side.
Sometimes she found her thoughts wandering to places they just shouldn’t go. In her early days with the Companions, before she’d succumbed to the obvious yearning in her heart for Farkas, she’d actually fantasized about his brother a couple of shameful times. She’d wondered for a time what it might feel like to kiss those full, always-scowling lips of his to stop him from snarling at her like some beast when she questioned his orders. How she might quiver when she fell against his lean chest and reveled in the strength of his strong arms around her while running her fingers into the soft locks of his dark brown hair. To look into those cold, ice-blue eyes of his and see something other than derision and disappointment, to hear him call her his love as he whispered against her lips before claiming them completely.
Gods, she pushed off the post where she’d been resting and dropped her arms at her side. She’d been such a stupid little girl then. It was hard to believe sometimes that it had only been a few months ago she’d had such wicked fantasies about him.
Stepping up onto the porch, she walked through the back doors into Jorrvaskr, glancing back over her shoulder to catch Vilkas’s gaze just before the doors closed behind her. There was a moment’s intrigue in his glance, and then his eyes had narrowed in against the bridge of his sharp nose, lips curled into a sneer. She’d never understand him, and no amount of time or warming would ever make him like her.
Farkas was sitting in between Njada and Torvar, the three of them playing some drinking game that sent the obnoxious howl of Torvar’s laughter echoing through the mead hall. There’d been a time not so long ago that raucous laughter would have been shortened by little more than a rumbling warning from Skjor for them to grow up and quit acting like a pack of milk-drinking whelps, and though his heavy presence still lingered within the halls of Jorrvaskr, no one seemed to feel him there but Aela and Luthien. Tilma was dusting the weapons rack near the stairs that led into the sleeping quarters, humming to herself and completely oblivious to their antics and the mess the three of them were making. She would clean it up without complaint or question; it was the way of things.
“Uh-oh,” Torvar rolled back into his chair when she approached from the other side of the table. “Busted.”
“Shut up, Torvar,” Farkas muttered, nudging his elbow into the other man’s ribs and shamefully avoiding her eyes.
Luthien furrowed her brow, the corner of her mouth twitching into an annoyed scowl. “Since when did I become the fun guard?”
“Ignore him, he’s an idiot,” he explained, pushing his chair away from the table and rising. He loomed over the table like a giant, both of his companions flinching away from the fall of his massive shadow.
“I need to talk to you… In private.” She cleared her throat and crossed her arms, immediately uncrossing them as soon as she realized her stance only seemed to confirm Torvar’s assessment of her intent to ruin their good time. “When you have a minute,” she added more softly.
“I always have a minute for you, dear.” He finally met her eyes, so much apology inside him it made every nerve in her body tingle with regret for the way she’d stormed out of Breezehome without even looking back when he’d called her name. “Come on, let’s go downstairs. Or we can go home, if you’d rather go home.” Gods, he was so eager to please, so gentle and willing to do whatever it took to make her happy. How could she have been so cruel to him over something so stupid?
“Downstairs is fine,” she nodded.
Luthien followed as he headed toward Tilma. They walked down the stairs, Farkas just a step behind her and she swore as she pushed the double doors open she heard Torvar mutter to Njada, “She used to be a lot more fun… didn’t she?”
It saddened her to realize he was probably right. The three of them had a lot of fun when she’d first joined their ranks. Most nights they’d spent making complete idiots of themselves with Lydia in the Bannered Mare, drinking, brawling and laughing so hard their sides ached for days after a night out. And the hangovers had been legendary. Their antics had really pushed her and Farkas together, one memorable drunken incident resulting in their first kiss and the claiming of a Daedric artifact from Sanguine neither of them dared even touch without blushing.
And then she’d taken the beastblood. Everything had changed after that.
She walked the hall to his old room and slipped inside, turning around to watch him close the door behind him. Tilma kept the place spotless, not a speck of dust to be found that might suggest no one slept in that room anymore.
“Lu.” He immediately reached for her, his large hands curling around her shoulders and drawing her into his chest in a crushing embrace that signaled her own feelings of guilt and regret. “I’m so sorry.”
She brought her arms around him, relaxing against him and lowering her head to his strong shoulder as a relieved breath escaped her. “I’m sorry too,” she murmured, turning her face into his and brushing her soft lips through the rough stubble on his cheek until she met his lips.
Farkas opened his mouth against hers, the warm velvet of his eager tongue seeking hers out in a devouring kiss that never failed to take her breath away. Every one of her senses came alive with the closeness of her mate, her blood quickening in her veins as his strong hand slid down her back and over the curve of her backside. Squeezing the ample flesh there, he pulled her hips against his and she felt the hard press and immediate awakening of his need for her.
Gripping fingers gathered the fabric of her dress, sliding it up the backs of her bare legs and she found herself almost desperately reaching to fumble with the ties that held his breeches in place in order to free him. In a tangle and flurry of fabric and limbs, she found herself pushing him back onto the bed in the corner of the room, both of them stumbling with the awkward movement.
She kicked loose the restraint of her undergarments and climbed into his lap to take him inside her. He rose into her until he was chest to chest with her, rough, yet tender kisses trailing through the stretched hollow of her throat in search of her gasping mouth while his gripping hands guided the movement of her body into rhythm with his.
There wasn’t a feeling in the world comparable to the heat of Farkas inside her, to the unrestrained joining of their bodies until they writhed and breathed as one single being. She gasped and bit into her lip to keep from crying out when he thrust into her harder, her hands lifting to cup his face so she could look into him while he claimed her.
He growled deep in his throat when her body collided with his again, fingers burying into her flesh until she could feel it bruising deliciously under the frantic force of his touch. She could see the beast inside him rising to the surface and battering at the restraints of control he barely held over it most days, rushing against him for freedom to ravish, devour and own her. Her own wolf struggled in kind, longing to connect with him in the most raw and primal fashion.
She hissed, glorious shudders of pleasure rippling through her every nerve when he rolled with her body until she was pinned beneath him on the straw mattress like prey, never disconnecting from her for even a second. He hovered above her on his arms, every muscle beneath the skin tight and flexed and beautiful as he held himself there to look down at her, hair falling in to curtain his face. She lifted it away, holding it back so she could look into his eyes. There was such love, such devotion and desire in them.
Gods, why would they ever argue when they could always have this? It didn’t make any sense.
Drawing himself back, he rushed through her again and that time she couldn’t stifle the euphoric cry of pleasure that escaped her when his body crashed into hers. She didn’t care who knew she was enjoying her husband, and why should she? They were adults, they were married and they had every right to what they were doing, but still there was a self-conscious part of her that felt just a little guilty and a whole lot naughty knowing anyone could hear them if they were to walk through the halls of the living quarters.
Every husky growl of his breath against her neck made her body feel like it was on fire and she wanted to burn with him forever.
“Gods, I love you,” he sunk into her kiss again. “I love the way you feel when I’m inside you.” Burying his face into the warm crook of her neck his tongue tickled the sensitive skin there, soft lips suckling until she wiggled and moaned beneath him. “The way you taste.” His teeth nipped gently at her flesh and she arched into him with yet another cry sure to alert the masses to their activities. “Your smell.” He breathed her in with a rumbling snarl of animal desire and then came down into her so hard she felt like her body would explode into a million stars.
It was quicker than she was accustomed to, as Farkas liked nothing more than to take his time and make sure every nerve in her body was alive and tingling, every muscle aching, but it was so passionate the part of her that wondered only moments earlier why they would ever argue when they could be making love decided maybe they should disagree more often so they could apologize in that incredible way.
Spent but still buried inside her, he lowered his lips to hers and kissed tender apologies across her lips, her cheek and then he nuzzled his nose against her ear. “Do you forgive me?”
“Yes,” she whispered, turning her cheek into his and relishing the prickling sensation of his facial hair rushing across her smooth skin.
They lay locked together for a while in the tight confines of his single bed, even after he withdrew and rolled onto his back in the bed beside her, he tugged her body across his and held her close, stroking through her hair, tangling and untangling the long strip of her single warrior’s braid around his finger over and again before finally allowing it to drop over her bare shoulder beneath his hand.
“Did you talk to Vilkas?”
“You asked me not to,” he sighed, hand slipping down the length of her arm, “so I didn’t.”
“Lu, I know you just want to help, but I really don’t think you should be getting involved in this.”
Lifting her head to look down at him, he was staring up at the wooden beams above the bed, chewing his bottom lip as if deep in thought. He was the first to admit he wasn’t exactly a deep thinker, but sometimes she wondered what went on inside his head when he was quiet like that.
“I’m sorry, love,” she drew her hand up to rest against the squared curve of his jaw and turned his gaze toward her, “but I already have.” She kissed his cheek and withdrew from his arms, sitting up on the edge of the single bed and turning her back toward him. “And I know you don’t want to get involved, but I’m really going to need a shield brother beside me for this.”
He said nothing, just laid there while she got up and started to draw back into the clothes she’d shed beneath his anxious hands. At least they were all still intact, she smiled to herself. She could feel his eyes watching her, almost sense the possessive force of his love for her bidding her to come back to bed, back into his arms where she would always be safe. Always be his.
Lowering the hemline of her wrinkled dress, she allowed the fabric to drop down the length of her legs until it rested just above her feet. Farkas lifted his hips off the bed and wrenched his breeches back up, drawing the leather strings tight around his thick waist before throwing his legs over the edge of the bed with a sigh.
“I know where Thorald is.” She looked down at him, reaching across the slip of space between them to tuck the long, loose strands of his dark brown hair behind his ear. His hand shot up, fingers curling around her wrist to hold her there so he could nestle his face into the warm curve of her loving palm. He kissed her there and closed his eyes. “And rescuing him from the Thalmor is going to be dangerous.”
“Nine Divines, Lu,” he let go of her hand, his hard stare quickly lifting to her face. “The Thalmor?”
“They took him from the Imperials,” she said, reaching into the pouch over her shoulder to retrieve the Imperial missive she’d obtained from Jon. She handed it over to him and he hesitated for a moment before reaching up to take it—as if touching it would somehow brand him as a Stormcloak sympathizer and tarnish the Companions’ good standing in Skyrim.
She watched his eyes flitter over the text and without lifting back to her again he asked, “Where did you get this? Wait, I don’t think I wanna know.”
“Jon Battle-Born gave it to me,” she told him anyway. “But that doesn’t leave this room. He doesn’t want anything to do with any of it.”
“Can you blame him? Luthien, this is crazy. Northwatch Keep is leagues from here, and the Thalmor… They don’t exactly fight fair. Do you think you’re just going to walk in there and negotiate with them, then walk right back out safe and sound?”
“Negotiating wasn’t exactly what I had planned,” she admitted.
“So, what, the two of us were just going to sneak in there and take down a battalion of magic-wielding elves and walk back out with Thorald?”
“Well, I’m sure Avulstein will want to come.”
Nodding, she watched him tighten the press of his lips until they turned white under his unspoken aggravation. “Right,” he finally said, folding the missive and handing it back to her. “You, me and Avulstein Gray-Mane are gonna take down the Thalmor. And when we’re done with that, maybe we can… oh, I don’t know, stand against the Empire and show them what true Nords are really made of. I mean, we might as well just join the Stormcloaks then, right?”
He’d never been so flippant or sarcastic since she’d met him, and for a moment the look he wore reminded her so much of his brother she wanted to slap him.
“Well, that was what I was on my way to do before I got sidetracked here in Whiterun…” she pointed out.
“Sidetracked.” He couldn’t look at her when he said that word, his hand lifting to comb through the loose strands of his shoulder-length hair, gripping halfway back his head and just holding there for a moment before letting it fall back in to frame his face.
“Farkas,” she lowered herself in front of him, perching on her knees between his legs and taking his hands into hers. “Farkas, I don’t want to run off and join the Stormcloaks anymore. I’m over all that now, I swear to you…”
“But I can’t just leave Eorlund and Fralia’s son to be torn apart by the Thalmor. Farkas, he was your friend once. How can you not want to help him?”
Another heavy breath escaped him, his broad chest deflating as he let it loose and its warmth rustled through the hair against her cheek. “He’s just a stranger to you though, Lu,” he pointed out, raking his hands slowly down his face as he sighed again. “He was gone long before you even came to Whiterun. Why do you want to help him so much?”
“Because I’m a Companion,” she told him with so much pride in her voice it actually brought the first tuggings of a smile to his lips. “Because that’s what the Companions do. We help people.”
“All right,” he gave in. “We’ll go rescue Thorald from the Thalmor on one condition.”
She wasn’t sure she liked the sound of that. “What’s your condition?”
“Let me at least try to talk Vilkas into coming with us.”
“And if he won’t? Does that mean you won’t come with me? Because I’m going, Farkas. With or without you.”
He winced at that thought, at the realization that no matter what she had to do, she was going to do it whether he stood beside her, or not.
“If he won’t, then he won’t, and I will still come with you, but I at least want to try. You and me, we might be like a small army together, but if we stand off against Thalmor soldiers we’re going to need more than just Avulstein Gray-Mane at our backs. No offense to the guy, but he wasn’t exactly the best fighter when we were kids. Vilkas is a shield-brother, a fighting machine who has trained his entire life for things like this.” Her mind flashed back to watching him in the practice yard before coming into the hall. Vilkas was methodical, precise, lethal. “He will strengthen our forces.”
She nodded reluctant agreement, but only because she wanted him with her. “All right,” she said. “Talk to Vilkas, but you have to make him promise before you give him the details not to breathe a word of this to anyone until it’s over. Not Aela, not Kodlak… nobody, Farkas. I mean it. One little slip of the tongue could get Thorald killed, and we’d have that on our conscience for the rest of our lives.”
Leaning forward he rested his forehead against hers and closed his eyes. “Agreed,” he yielded, landing a lingering kiss that made every one of her pleasure sensors sing.