What Dreams May Come

They sat beneath the rowan tree, Meliandra and Brynjolf, his arms wrapped around her lovingly as he held her to his chest, her head resting just below his chin.  No more did they have their own guilts hang above their heads, their futures the only thing on their minds.  Content with one another, they forgot the troubles of the world around them.  That was until the fighting came to them, Stormcloaks against Imperials, each demanding Meliandra fight for their side, the Thalmor watching from a distance.  Angered, Brynjolf removed his cloak and threw it in the air, blanketing her from the attacks.

When she came out from under his cloak, a great bear stood in her path, roaring loudly for all to hear.  When the bear saw Meliandra, it charged her violently, its claws ripping open her chest. She Shouted at the bear; the bear roared at her in return, sending her to her knees.  A fight ensued between her and this golden furred bear, and while both fought well, neither gained higher ground on the other, tiring one another out.  Bloodied, Meliandra retreated, seeking out her lover and finding him in a cemetery.

Horrified, she saw the tombstones marking the graves of her friends as she walked through the mist.  As the tears streamed down her face, the cry of a dragon pierced the skies and soon the giant black creature blocked out the sun above her.  Swearing, she tried to cast her bound swords but found she could not cast the spell.  Desperately she looked for shelter as the beast rained fire upon her, trying in vain to Shout at the creature but found no strength in her voice.  Upon seeing a cave, she ran forward, dodging the assault from above.

The bear roared as the Breton came into its den and charged at her, its mighty claws slashing through her skin.  Meliandra fought to escape the den but found herself between a seemingly continuous fiery assault beyond the opening of the cave and the aggressive battery of sharp clawed attacks from this bear before her.

Meliandra sat up in bed, sweat beaded on her face, her hair, damp.  Her breath, ragged and short from the intensity of her nightmare, pounded in her ears as her eyes adjusted to the dim light in her room.  Eventually the sound of Brynjolf’s light snores replaced the pounding in her ears and Meliandra’s heart slowed to its normal pace.  Shaken by the imagery of her sleep, she laid back and turned to lay against her lover, his arm draping across her and pulling her close in his sleep, she lay awake like this until sleep left Brynjolf and rose him for the day.

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Guild Business

A clouded look spread across her face as she stoically said, “If I were to be caught, I would expect you and every member of the Guild to deny any knowledge of me.  But, I guarantee, I would not be on my own.”  She rested her hands on his chest, looked him in the eyes, and said, “I’m fine.  I will be fine.”

“Meli –.“  He looked down into her eyes; immediately he felt himself falling again. 

The child, dirty and wearing ragged clothes, saw the Nord and Breton coming up the road, their horses at a slow gait.  Seeing the raven hair, the child recognized the woman as the Guild Master and turned to scurry up the path to the gate, squeezing through before the guards saw him.  A quick shout from another guard alerted him to the fact that he’d been spotted on the other side, but he heard no footsteps giving chase.  Making his way through the wooden boardwalks of Riften, he sought out the man who promised him a good amount of gold if he brought news of Meliandra’s return.  After searching the marketplace and not finding the redheaded Nord there, he went searching the Bee & Barb.  It took a moment for the boy’s eyes to adjust to the darkness of the inn after being in the bright of day, then he made his way to the thief’s usual table, finding the Nord nursing an ale.

“She’s here, sir,” he said with a toothless grin.

Brynjolf looked at the sandy-blond haired urchin, the smile on the boy’s face reminding him of himself when he was the orphan trying to get in with the Guild, running errands for Gallus, proving his worth with the thieves.  As he reached into the inner pockets of the fur cloak he wore this blustery day, he thanked the boy, giving him a few gold coins, enough to feed himself and buy the dagger he had been wanting from the blacksmith.

Brynjolf watched the boy scurry off, a smile on his face.  He drank the last of his drink, left a few gold pieces on the table and made his way out of the tavern.  Not wanting to give Meliandra the chance to slip into town and sneak back out without him knowing, he had wet the street urchin’s appetite with promises of gold to open the boy’s eyes, knowing the youth yearned to join the Guild.  The sound of his footsteps was muffled by the clanging of the metal striking metal as Balimund worked on a sword at his forge, the young lookout watching the Nord blacksmith working his craft, the look of excitement clear upon his face.

The man smiled as he continued toward the graveyard, his thoughts on the days of his own youth, making himself known to the Guild Master of the time.  He knew the bastard child would be a good thief, it was merely a matter of time before the Guild would recruit him within their ranks.

He noticed once more the blooming of the flowers in the cemetery, a hint of their fragrant aroma filling the air.  They had become a bittersweet reminder of all that had transpired for him in the past year, from his falling in love with the Breton, to losing her because of Mercer Frey’s manipulations.  He had questioned his remaining in Riften, he had debated journeying to Raven Rock for an extended job, but he could not convince himself that that was what he needed to do.  Somewhere deep inside, he held onto the belief that Meliandra would come home and return to him, starting a new chapter in their lives.

With a grating that he was long accustomed to, the secret entrance to the Thieves Guild opened and he made his way in, pulling the chain on the wall as he passed it, bringing the false crypt above to a close just as he slipped down the ladder into the Cistern below.  The chatter that greeted him was informative; since the return of the Skeleton Key, there had been less arrests, more profitable hauls, more successes all around than there had been before.  Amongst the chatter of completed jobs, he began to hear Meliandra’s name being spoken by those who knew her and soon he learned by overhearing one thief that she was in the Flagon speaking to Delvin.

His destination evident to those around, he found he had a clear path with no interruptions to the door leading into the Guild’s tavern, and with a deep breath, he walked in, his eyes finding his former lover sitting at a table on the platform beyond, deep in conversation with the older thief; he sat at a table, watching her, waiting.

“So, Meliandra,” Delvin asked with a smile, “what brings you to see me?”

She smiled back at him, “That obvious?”

“I can see that you’ve got something on your mind and you beelined directly to me when you came in.”  He leaned forward, almost in a conspiratorial tone, and asked, “What’s going on, Boss?”

“I’m here on Dark Brotherhood business.”

His eyebrow went up.  “Oh.”  He nodded.  “I see.”  He chuckled.  “Well, you’re makin’ friends all over, ain’t ya?  A slight hesitation followed before he continued, “So; uh… how is Astrid doing these days?”

It was Meliandra’s turn to arch her eyebrow.  “Astrid and I do not see eye to eye.”

“Uh,” he replied.  “Well, tell her to stop by some time.  We can have a… drink.  Catch up.”  At the Guild Master’s stare, he cleared his throat.  “Ah, but business!  Of course.  What kind of business?”

She pulled out her pouch and removed her fur pelt, unwrapping the amulet within and handed it to Delvin.  “What can you tell me about this?”

Taking the amulet in his hand, he looked it over, a low whistle slowly coming forth from his lips.  “Where oh where did you get this?”  He shook his head immediately and continued, “Don’t answer that – I don’t want to know.”  Again, he cleared his throat.  “This is an amulet of the Emperor’s Elder Council.  Specially crafted for each member. Worth a small fortune.  Ain’t somethin’ you’d give up lightly.”  He looked at her sternly.  “Look, it ain’t my business ta tell the Dark Brotherhood its business, but if you killed a member of the Elder Council, you’d better belie-“

“Will you buy it?” she interrupted.

Delvin’s eyes widened.  “Buy it?  This?  An Elder Council amulet?”  He chuckled.  “Oh yes.  Oh yes, indeed.  Wait just one moment.”  He got a piece of paper and grabbed a quill and inkwell from close by and quickly wrote something before handing it to her.  “Here.  It’s a letter of credit.  Usable, by Astrid only, for any service or item I can provide.  As per our standard arrangement.”  He smiled again.  “You bring that back to your lovely mistress.  With my regards.”

She snickered and replied, “Of course.”  She tucked the letter of credit into her pouch, stood up and bid the man goodnight before turning to walk out.  She glanced down, as she walked away, the leather ties closed, and stopped short when she looked up directly into the face of Brynjolf.  Her breath caught before a hint of a smile appeared on her lips.  She had hoped to avoid seeing the thief, the pain of their separation still affecting her.  “Brynjolf,” she said in greeting as she started to walk by him.

He held his hand out, resting it on her forearm.  “Meli,” he said softly, hesitantly.

She glanced at his hand, then, as she continued to pass him, said, “Walk with me.”

Nodding, he fell into step with her and they began to walk down the passageway to her room.  “You look well,” he said after a moment.

“As do you, but small talk does not suit you, Bryn.  What’s on your mind?”

He smiled.  “No, it doesn’t.”  He paused a moment then continued.  “I’m worried about you, lass.  There are rumors of a black widow moving through Imperial camps.”  He watched her face and seeing no reaction, he sighed.  “The rumors are true then?”

She glanced at him briefly.  “Do I need to answer that?”

“Dammit, Meli.”  He stopped in front of her door.  “If the Imperials catch you, what do you think they’re going to do to you?”

“I am well aware of what the Imperials do to rebels.”

“We will not be able to go in and get you out.”

A clouded look spread across her face as she stoically said, “If I were to be caught, I would expect you and every member of the Guild to deny any knowledge of me.  But, I guarantee, I would not be on my own.”  She rested her hands on his chest, looked him in the eyes, and said, “I’m fine.  I will be fine.”

“Meli –.“  He looked down into her eyes; immediately he felt himself falling again.  Without thinking about it, he raised his hands and cupped her face, leaned down, and kissed her softly upon her lips.  He heard the clicking of the door handle as she opened the door; he broke the kiss and looked at her.  He saw the look in her eyes and his hunger grew.  He stepped into her room and drew her close to him again.  “Lass,” he murmured as he kissed her deeply, the sound of the door closing behind them.

#

Stenvar sat at the counter drinking a bottle of mead, uncomfortable in this particular tavern.  Meliandra had given him enough gold to rent a room and buy food and drink and told him she would be back at the tavern after sunrise.  While he would normally object to a separation like this, he did not like the idea of going into the domain of the Thieves Guild, no matter if it was on good terms or not.  So, he sat here, drinking, listening to local gossip, and keeping an eye on the people around him.

The Argonian bartender eyed him suspiciously as she wiped down the counter.  “Haven’t seen you before,” she said pointedly.

“Just passing through,” he responded.

“Traveling alone?”

He shook his head and asked, “Why?”

She indicated the Imperial mage sitting in the corner engaged in conversation with a finely dressed woman.  “Was hoping someone would hire this annoyance and take him out of town. Far out of town.”

“Sorry, can’t help you there.  I’m only a hired blade myself, my boss merely has some business to attend to here.”

“Really?  What kind of business?” she asked.

He shrugged. “Meliandra didn’t say.”

The Argonian stopped and looked at him.  “Oh.  You’re a thief.”

He stared at her.  “What?  I am no such thing!”

“If you’re with Meliandra, you’re a thief.  Just like her.”

“Listen here –“ he started to get up when he felt a hand on his shoulder and looked up to see the brunette woman smiling at him.

“Keervara, you ought to learn how to keep that tongue of yours in check,” she snapped.

The Argonian sneered.  “Are you telling me he’s not one of your people?”

“That’s exactly what I’m saying.”  She looked back at Stenvar.  “Why don’t you come sit with me?”

“I’m alright,” he responded before her grip on his shoulder tightened, making him wince.  “What the-“

“It’s not a request.”  She smiled ever broader.  “Let’s go.”  She led him to a table and told him to sit down then sat down next to him.  “That lizard doesn’t know how to keep her mouth shut.”

“Who are you?”

“The name’s Sapphire; I’m with the Guild.”

Biting back his response, he demanded, “Is what she’s saying true?  Is Meliandra a thief?”

“Yes, Meliandra is a thief.  But not just any thief.”  She glanced around then said, “I need you to do me a favor, well, more like the Guild needs you to do a favor for us.”

He eyed her suspiciously.  “What?”

“Meliandra has gone rogue, she’s working on her own, and her associates are –“

“The Stormcloaks.”

“Yes.  We just need to know that she’s not pulling jobs that will put our guys in danger.”

“That’s it?”

“Yes.  If she starts to jeopardize the Guild, let me know.”

“What do I get out of this?”

“Gold if you want.  You keep me in the know on her dealings, I’ll make sure you get a fair amount of gold.”

“And if I took the information to the Guild Master instead?  What’s that information worth to them?”

Sapphire’s eyes narrowed.  “Absolutely nothing.”

“So, it’s important to you, but not to the Guild Master?”  He shook his head.  “I’m not going to help you backstab a member of your Guild.”  He stood up to leave, then stopped and looked at her.  “What did you mean by saying she’s not just any thief?”

Sapphire smiled.  “She’s the Guild Master.”

Surprise at Whiterun

She stared at him, waiting for him top move and when she saw that he was not going to move, she snapped at him. “I do not pay you to get involved in my personal life.  Don’t forget that.”

“You know what?  I don’t give a skeever’s ass about your personal life.  But if your personal life might put my life into jeopardy, then I have every goddamn right to fucking know.  Now I’ve been watching you since we left Whiterun and the closer we get to Riften, the more edgy you get so something is rattling around in that pretty, little head of yours enough to fuck with you.  So, what the fuck are we headed into?  Is this going to be a friendly visit, or do I need to watch my back on top of yours since that’s what you pay me for?”

The skies, grey and gloomy, opened up allowing raindrops to fall to the ground beneath as Meliandra and Stenvar walked into Whiterun.  The city was quiet, most people seemingly have decided to stay indoors to avoid the coming storm.  She made her way to Breezehome, her house that she had barely spent any time at.  One day she would have to make it a point to spend more than a day or two.

She opened the door and smelled the stew cooking over the kitchen fire followed by the scent of bread being baked in the oven.  Laughter from Lydia’s room filled the silence that otherwise filled the house.  “Lydia?” she called out.  “I’m back!”

“My Lady!” she heard before sounds of rushed movements and her housecarl’s bedroom door being flung open with a harried looking woman rushing out, her face flushed.

“Everything alright, Lydia?”

The Nord woman smiled, nodding as she said, “Yes, my Lady.  Just…startled.”  She began to straighten up the kitchen area, fidgeting with some of the foodstuffs in the pantry behind her.

Meliandra nodded then indicated Stenvar beside her and introduced him.   “I need to replenish supplies and wanted to drop off some things here.  How are the food stuffs?”

Lydia smiled as if laughing at a private joke as she glanced behind her, answering, “They could use some replenishing.”

“Okay, how much?”

Again, she smiled.  “It’d be best to replenish everything.”

“Did something happen?”

“No, not at all, my Lady.  I’ve just used more than expected.”  She shrugged slightly as she explained, “I’ve entertained a few guests in your absence.”

Meliandra opened her mouth then closed it and walked up the stairs to her room.  Stenvar looked around in the foyer outside her room as she opened the safe in her room, pulling out various bags of coins.  “Stenvar,” she called, “take this down to Lydia.”  Shaking her head, she muttered, “Going to have to have a talk with her about throwing parties on my gold.”

The man took the coin purses and walked back downstairs where Meliandra heard him giving her housecarl the money bags.  A loud rapping upon her door jolted her and brought her immediately to the stairwell.   She heard Hrongar, the jarl’s brother at the door asking where she was.

“She’s not here,” came Lydia’s annoyed voice.

“Don’t lie to me, Lydia,” Hrongar snapped.  “She was seen coming into town.  My brother wants to see her.”

“She went out for supplies.  I don’t know when she’ll be back.”

“I don’t care when she gets back.  You just tell her that the jarl wants her up at Dragonsreach.  Don’t make me come get her.”

Meliandra heard the door shut and began to descend the stairs.  She began to thank Lydia for the deflection when she noticed the bulge of her stomach and stopped short.  “You’re with child.”

Lydia nodded.  “I am.”

“The entertaining guests?”

She smiled.  “I’m ravenous.”

Meliandra chuckled.  “I suppose you are.”  She finished coming down the stairs.  “And who is the father?”

“I am.”

Meliandra turned at the familiar voice to see Vorstag standing at the door to Lydia’s room, wearing only a pair of loose trousers, his chest bare.  She looked back at Lydia then turned her attention to her former hired man.  “So, I dismiss you and you come impregnate my housecarl?”

“Oh yeah, Mel,” he said as he rolled his eyes, “that’s exactly what I had planned when you dismissed me.”  He walked toward Lydia, standing beside her and taking her hand in his.  “Look, I don’t care where you and I stand; I’m going to be here for Lydia and our child.”

“Yes, you are,” she agreed with a nod.  She turned to look at Stenvar, tossing him the coin purse she held in her hand.  “You know what we need; sell the things we agreed on.  I better go see what Balgruuf wants.”

#

The jarl’s chambers were dimmer than normal as Meliandra entered.  Proventus gave a slight nod as he shut the doors, leaving her there waiting for Balgruuf to enter.  She looked over the lavishly set table, her mouth watering at the sight of the aromatic roasted venison sitting in the middle, surrounded by loaves of bread and various roasted vegetables with goblets for the wine that filled the ewers on the table.

She heard him walk into the room before she saw him; she felt his breath on her neck before feeling his hands on her arms.  His lips grazed her skin as he welcomed her back to Whiterun, and more specifically, Dragonsreach.  “My darling,” he murmured, “I’ve missed you.”

Meliandra closed her eyes; his touch, while gentle, she knew could turn hard with no warning, his temper flaring on a whim.  She had worn the evidence of that temper before and she had sworn revenge, she merely had to bide her time.  She let him undress her, let him kiss her and fondle her intimately.  She let him guide her to his male member and obediently gave it the oral ministrations he desired, and when he could not contain himself, she drank of his seed, but knowing he was far from done with her.

With their meal growing cold, he took her to his bed, making her get onto her hands and knees, her ass sticking up where he begun to fingerfuck her, only his forefinger at first, then adding his middle finger shortly thereafter.  At her growing wetness, he thrust his cock inside of her and immediately held a fast pace rapidly bringing himself to orgasm, his seed filling her womb as he held her hips until his climax had ended.

He climbed out of bed, wrapped himself in a cloak, and said, “Shouldn’t let this food go to waste; let’s eat.”

#

The mid-day sun beat down on the two traveling companions as they made their way toward Riften; the horses they rode keeping a leisurely pace.  When Stenvar had inquired how she had managed to acquire two horses from the jarl’s personal stables, she had given a cold reply of “Guilty men are easily manipulated.”

He remained quiet for awhile as he thought about things then asked, “You’re sleeping with the jarl?”

She pursed her lips, measuring her words.  “Balgruuf sees a future with me; I use that to my advantage.”

“And he’s a guilty man because…?”

Her answer was short as she simply said, “He is not a nice man.”

“Uh-huh.”

They rode in silence again, Stenvar thinking of all that Meliandra had told him and things he had picked up on.  Things made little sense and he had a feeling that they were only going to get more confusing as time went on.  Turning slightly to ask his companion a question, he noticed she wore a blank expression upon her face, but her eyes betrayed the anguish in her soul.  Concerned, he asked, “What troubles you, Meliandra?”

“Troubles me?” she repeated.  “What makes you think something is troubling me?”

“Everything about you right now.”

She shook her head, saying, “You’re imagining things, Stenvar.”

He kept quiet but continued to watch her as she got more agitated as they got closer to Riften, shifting in her saddle often.  Finally, the Nord stopped his horse on the narrow path in front of her, saying, “You can either tell me again that I’m imagining things, or you can tell me what’s got your pants in a bunch but I’m not budging until you tell me what’s got you so perturbed.”

She arched her eyebrow as she stated flatly, “You do realize that I have no problem Shouting you out of my way, right?”  She stared at him, waiting for him to move and when she saw that he was not going to move, she snapped at him. “I do not pay you to get involved in my personal life.  Don’t forget that.”

“You know what?  I don’t give a skeever’s ass about your personal life.  But if your personal life might put my life into jeopardy, then I have every goddamn right to fucking know.  Now I’ve been watching you since we left Whiterun and the closer we get to Riften, the more edgy you get so something is rattling around in that pretty, little head of yours enough to fuck with you.  So, what the fuck are we headed into?  Is this going to be a friendly visit, or do I need to watch my back on top of yours since that’s what you pay me for?”

She stared at him long and hard relenting only when she realized his words were true and that she owed him an explanation.  “I have to pay a visit to someone in the Thieves Guild.”

“The Thieves Guild?”  he repeated, hesitation edging his voice.

A small smile appeared upon her lips as she said reassuringly, “Yes, I have a lot of dealings with the Guild.  I need to speak with a fence who handles specific items.”

“If everything is alright, why this anxiousness?”

She sighed and glanced away for a moment.  “Because I have a past with one of them; it’s complicated.”

“Ah,” he said in understanding.  “It’s complicated.  I’m starting to see that with you, lots of things are…complicated.  Especially where men are concerned.”

She spurred her horse into a trot and pushed by Stenvar as he pulled his horse back, giving her berth to pass. As she passed him, she looked him in the eye, glaring, and said, “Some wounds take longer to heal than others.”

She pushed her horse into a fast gait as they fell into silence as they continued making their way to the fishing town of Riften, home of the Thieves Guild.

#

Ralof trailed the Breton and the Nord from a distance, his orders from Ulfric being very specific about not being seen by the woman.  He had had to resort to stealing a horse from the Whiterun stables, having been surprised to see her and her companion riding out of town on horses kept separate from the rest of the townspeople’s.

The blond Nord sighed; he knew that Ulfric had bedded the Breton and had claimed her for himself.  Ralof had heard the talk amongst his fellow soldiers about the jarl having been heard bedding a woman the same morning he had seen Meliandra, scantily clad, leaving Ulfric’s bedchambers.  And then he had been ordered before the jarl and given direct orders to follow the Breton undetected but to insure her safe return, the words heavy as Ulfric told the soldier, “Anything happens to my… to Meliandra, I will hold you directly responsible.”

As he sighed once again at the thought of Ulfric claiming Meliandra as his.  In his mind’s eye, he could see the large, rounded breasts of the petite woman as they bounced up and down as he pounded his dick into the wetness between her legs.  He thought about how he’d grab her tits and squeeze them hard as he rubbed them roughly.  He thought about how he’d suck on her breasts, his tongue flicking across her nipples followed by playful biting.  He found his thoughts drifting to the image of her on all four before him, her naked ass cheeks would get as his hands left marks upon them from slapping them.  He thought about how it felt as he watched his cock slide into her as he had her on all fours in front of him.

He felt himself growing harder and beginning to throb against the fabric of his clothing; he swore, knowing he needed release.  He stopped his horse and dismounted; loosening his pants, he pulled his dick out of his pants and sat upon a nearby log and began to stroke himself, yanking on his member quickly.  He imagined the Breton on her knees in front of him, her lips wrapped around his sex organ as he fucked her mouth, her hair wrapped in his hands as he held her head firmly in place.  In his mind, he pictured her fingering her pussy as his dick slid in and out of her mouth, bringing herself to a dripping wet frenzy as he reached his own orgasm.  His seed ejaculated from his shaft onto the ground below, but in his impromptu fantasy, he was choking the woman with his cum as it spilled out of him and down her throat.  His orgasm rocked his body, both in his fantasy and in real life, making his body quiver and shake until he was spent.  After a moment, he tucked his cock back inside his pants, stood up, and climbed onto the back of the horse, setting out to catch up to Meliandra.

An Unexpected Visitor

…The Flagon was empty, most everyone had already retired for the night.  Brynjolf sat at a table looking toward the bar but seeing nothing in particular.  He was getting used to not seeing Meliandra, having only brief letters addressed to the Guild in its entirety as proof that she still lived, but the emptiness he felt grew heavier each passing day. 

The sound of approaching footsteps drew his head to the sound while his hand went to the dagger on his hip.  His eyes fell upon the stocky Nord with resentment then glanced beyond him.  “Where is Meliandra?”

The man shrugged as he responded, “Who knows.  Probably in some Imperial camp slaughtering Legion officers.”

“Excuse me?”

The man motioned to the chair next to him and said, “I’m gonna be here awhile; maybe I should sit down.”

Flaring Tempers

“Actually, Meliandra, I’ve been trying to figure out if you’re a Stormcloak.  Rumor at the inn is that you have Ulfric’s ear and are at his beck and call.”

Uncomfortable silence ensued for a moment and when she answered, her words were measured and void of any sign of emotion.  “Truth be told, he has my ear more than me having his and being at his beck and call…” She paused then continued, “I am in his employ; when he requires my services, he sends word.”

 “What does he ask of you?”

She glanced at him, her green eyes piercing him.  “What he asks of me is of no concern to you.”  Again, she paused before asking, “Why the questions?”

“Because I’d like to know if I’m going to be branded a rebel by association.”

After another moment of silence, Meliandra stated plainly, “It suits me to be in his employ, regardless if it is helping the rebels.”

“It suits you?” he repeated.  “That’s all fine and dandy, but allegiance to the Stormcloaks while escaping across Skyrim is walking a fine line.  One day you’re going to find out just how sharp of a double-edged sword that fine line is.”

Stenvar packed the last of the camp Meliandra had made the night before after they had removed the bandits that had previously occupied the tower to the east of Whiterun.  Meliandra had woken early and had caught some salmon that she had roasted over a fire and after pulling out a loaf of bread and a chunk of hard cheese from her pack, and had began to eat, waiting for him to wake.  Once he had woken, she instructed him to gather their belongings after eating so they could continue to the Sanctuary outside of Falkreath; she wanted to get there to await new instructions as quickly as possible.  Soon, he was closing the pack he carried and hitched it upon his shoulder and followed the Breton out into the morning sun.

They walked in silence; he could see that shed still carried the appearance of someone in deep contemplation despite her attempts to distract herself with random conversation.  Every so often he’d see her looking toward the Throat of the World, where the Greybeards made their home in the monastery of High Hrothgar.  He knew that the Greybeards had called for the Dragonborn, had called for her, but she had yet to answer them; she still had yet to completely accept the role fate had cast her in.  He knew better than to try and talk to her about it, though every fiber in his Nord body told him he needed to.

A group of Imperial soldiers were making their way down the road, immersed in discussion.  Meliandra noticed them before they noticed her and drew the hood of her cloak further down her head, obscuring her face from view.  As they drew close, Stenvar could see a couple of the men pointing toward her and beginning to walk toward them when he saw a small coin purse slip out of her hand, gold coins glinting in the sun through a hole too small for them to fall through.  The men held back and waited for Meliandra and Stenvar to pass.  Upon glancing behind them, the Nord saw the soldiers opening the coin purse, greedily looking inside at its contents.

“I do not need the annoyance of soldiers asking questions,” she stated matter-of-factly.  “Losing some gold to keep them away is well spent coin.”

He nodded in understanding but said nothing as they continued walking.

“Looks like a blackbird pecked off your nose; what’s wrong, Stenvar?”

He shook his head, a smile on his face as he imagined the imagery of her words.  “Actually, Meliandra, I’ve been trying to figure out if you’re a Stormcloak.  Rumor at the inn is that you have Ulfric’s ear and are at his beck and call.”

Uncomfortable silence ensued for a moment and when she answered, her words were measured and void of any sign of emotion.  “Truth be told, he has my ear more than me having his and being at his beck and call…” She paused then continued, “I am in his employ; when he requires my services, he sends word.”

“What does he ask of you?”

She glanced at him, her green eyes piercing him.  “What he asks of me is of no concern to you.”  Again, she paused before asking, “Why the questions?”

“Because I’d like to know if I’m going to be branded a rebel by association.”

After another moment of silence, Meliandra stated plainly, “It suits me to be in his employ, regardless if it is helping the rebels.”

“It suits you?” he repeated.  “That’s all fine and dandy, but allegiance to the Stormcloaks while escaping across Skyrim is walking a fine line.  One day you’re going to find out just how sharp of a double-edged sword that fine line is.”

She turned on him, her eyes blazing in anger as she turned on him, her eyes blazing in anger as she said gruffly.  “I pay you for your blade at my side, not for your opinion.”  And with that, she pivoted on her heel and stalked off.

#

Astrid looked at the bed, staring at the naked, spread-eagle form of her Lycan husband.  Her eyes traced the outline of muscles, how firm they were and how well-defined they were, his chest and abdomen down below his waist where his hair turned dark and wiry.  Her eyes continued trailing down his body, noting how defined the muscle there was; she was reminded of all the reasons she had become attracted to him all those years ago.  But he had changed, she had changed, and she did not know if they would ever get back to where they once had been.

She watched as he stirred in their bed, a content sound coming from him as his lips turned slightly upward, smiling in his dream state.  A moan escaped his lips as she noticed he was now no longer flaccid.  Her lips hinted at a smile as thought of the things that she did that made her husband react in such a primal way.

Then she heard him say, ever so lustfully, the Breton Meliandra’s name.

And it was at that exact moment that she heard Meliandra’s voice echoing through the chambers outside her doors.  Her anger suddenly boiled over, erupting violently as she picked up a large book and threw it at her husband, promptly waking him up, startled and growling.

“What the fuck?”  he snapped as he pi8cked up the book and threw it across the room, crashing it into a jar on the table and shattering it into pieces.

“Even in your sleep you dream of that skank!” Astrid yelled.

“So now we fight because of what’s in my dreams?” he roared as he got his pants and began to dress.

“That wench couldn’t have been here long before you picked up her scent!”

“You’re being unreasonable, Astrid,” he grumbled as he made his way toward the door of their shared room.

She stepped in his way.  “I’m being unreasonable?  She comes in here and takes everything that we worked for from us – “

“From us?”  he snarled.  “Don’t you mean from you?  That is if she took anything at all!”

“If she took anything at all?  She’s taken everything!  I should be the one doing Babette’s biding!  I’ve been loyal to the family longer than most everyone here and unquestionably longer than that Breton upstart!”

He shook his head as he pushed past his wife.  “Your jealousy is blinding you, wife, and it will lead you down a dangerous road if you do not pay attention to it.”

#

The room was dark, only a few sconces dimly lighting the chambers.  The coffin stood on end in the corner, the red stained glass giving an eerie appearance to the room turned into a crypt.  It was equally eerily quiet in the set of rooms given to the Night Mother and the keeper, with only the vampire child sitting at the table, pouring over tomes that Cicero had brought with him, learning more of the history of the Night Mother’s legacy.  She had spent much of her time discussing things with the strange jester.  But she grew worried with his gibberish, his talk of pretenders.  She feared his mind broken from the time he had been alone in hiding, protecting the Night Mother.  It was something she’d have to watch from afar until she could discern if any dangers existed.

But until then, she needed to converse with her Breton agent and find out what Amaund Motierre wished for from the Dark Brotherhood; she also knew she needed to address the affair she was carrying on with Arnbjorn.  The discord that came from this wanton affair between the two of them was becoming an issue for the family, one that was slowly ripping them apart.

As if on cue, her vampiric senses alerted her to Meliandra’s approach.  Ina moment’s time the short Breton entered the room and approached Babette.  The undead child looked at her.  Taking a moment to collect her thoughts, she began speaking evenly.  “I have lived for over three hundred years, there is very little I have not seen.  You are not fooling anyone, your dalliance with Arnbjorn is known to everyone.  Normally one’s sex life is of no concern to the Brotherhood, but this is different.  You are bringing discord to the family; this affair must stop before permanent damage is done to our family.”

Meliandra nodded, her expression unreadable.  “As you command, Listener.”

Babette looked at the Breton for a moment, trying to decide if Meliandra would heed her words or defy her before saying, “What does our old friend Amaund ask of us?”

She chuckled, a smirk touching her lips.  She pulled the sealed letter and amulet out of her travel pouch and placed them before the vampire.  “Motierre is a dastardly man, for sure.  He wishes for us to assassinate the Emperor.”

“The Emperor?  To kill the Emperor of Tamriel… The Dark Brotherhood has not done such a thing since the murder of Uriel Septim, and that was two hundred years ago…”

“So, we’re going to accept the contract?”

Babette nodded.  “Astrid and I will iron out the details.  But, I need you to take this” she picked up the amulet and handed it to her “to have it appraised.  I want to know where it came from, how much it’s worth, and if we can actually get away with selling it.  Have Delvin Mallory take a look at it.  Find out everything you can, and sell it if he’s willing.  He’ll offer a letter of credit -that’s fine.”

Meliandra took the amulet and exited the room, heading toward the exit.  From the corner of her eye she saw Astrid watching her, a hateful look upon her face.  She smiled as she passed the table the woman sat at and walked out of the Sanctuary into the blazing sun.

As her eyes adjusted she saw Arnbjorn sitting upon a log by the water’s edge.  The sight of the man excited her; she licked her lips as the image of him buried deep inside of her, fucking her like she was a bitch in heat floated to the front of her mind.  Keeping Babette’s admonishment in mind, she began to walk in the other direction when she saw that the werewolf was watching her.  Sighing to herself, she walked toward him.

His eyes devoured her; her scent was heavy in the air and it was thick with her highly charged pheromones.  His growl was thick with his own lust, her name rumbling off his lips.  “Come to tempt me again?”

“It’s not my fault that you’re weak for me.”

“Why can’t you leave me be?  Do you enjoy causing me so many problems?”

“Arn,” she purred, “do you really want me to leave you alone?  Don’t you crave the attention I give you?”

“I desire my wife!” he roared.

She laughed.  “The wife who refuses to spread her legs for you.  The wife who fucked your friend in your bed while you were on assignment.”  Her voice turned acidic.  “She treats you like nothing but a lap dog and you keep begging for her to pay attention to you.”

“Are you expecting me to come running to you?” he roared.  “I will not leave my wife.  It is her that I love and will remain with for the rest of my life!”

“You think that’s what I want?” She smiled broadly, the laughter showing in her eyes.  “You’re nothing more than a fuck, Arnbjorn, someone to satisfy my need for dick.  I don’t want you for myself, I just want your dick.”

He stood up, glaring at her.  “You’re nothing but a whore.”

Her face remained impassive, but her eyes narrowed.  “And you were more than wiling to bend me over and shove your cock into this whore.”

An angry growl escaped his lips as he shifted into wolf form and disappeared into the thick of the woods.

Foreboding

He reached toward her, his fingers grazing her arm.  “Running away, already?”

She glanced back at him as she walked to his study where her dropped cloak lay.  “Running away?”  A chuckle escaped her lips.  “Haven’t you proven to me that running is futile?  It’s not like I can hide; you know that eventually I’ll be in Falkreath or Riften.  You’ll find me.”

“Will I have to?”  he asked.

“What is it about her that has you captivated by her?” Astrid asked angrily.

Gabriella sighed as she watched the woman stalking around the room, her anger and jealousy radiating through her words.  The Dunmer had grown tired of the jealousy long ago and had done her best to avoid any conversation about Meliandra with her former lover.  “Why do you continue on about Meliandra, Astrid?” she asked.  “To keep doing so will not make things return to the way they were before her arrival.”

“I wish I had just killed that whore,” the blonde snapped suddenly.

“Watch your words.”

“Or what?”
Gabriella turned and walked to the door, shaking her head slightly.  “Astrid, allow me to speak as an old friend… and listen well to the words I say.”  She paused a moment then said, “The woman I met and fell in love with over a decade ago was someone confident in who they were and the people around them.  But something happened to that woman and she turned bitter and cold, trusting no one, not even herself.  Take care, Astrid, for the road you travel is one that will only lead to isolation and death.”

Astrid stared at the Dunmer as she calmly exited, shutting the door behind her.

#

The sound of a sharp rap on his door with his name being called out woke him up.  Opening his eyes, he smiled as he saw Meliandra asleep next to him, her naked body stretched alongside his.  He got out of bed, pulled the bed furs over Meliandra’s nakedness, picked up his cloak, and went to open the door before Galmar’s voice awoke the sleeping Breton.  Unbolting the door, he let his general in and as he headed toward his study, instructing the man to shut the door.

Galmar looked at him quizzically as he shut the door, noting the jarl’s lack of attire and the form of a sleeping woman beneath the furs on Ulfric’s bed.  He smiled, a chuckle escaping his lips as he said, “Wild night?”

“You might say that.”

“As long as it gets your mind off that Breton girl, I’ve got no complaints.”

Ulfric paused, glanced at the bed, then back at Galmar, his eyebrow arched, a hint of a smirk hiding on his lips.  “Then perhaps you should keep your complaints to yourself.”

Galmar stopped and looked back at the bed, seeing Meliandra’s face clearly this time nestled beneath the furs.  His face became angry and he turned to the jarl once more.  “You fucked her?”  He paused then continued, “Obviously you fucked her.  But why?  By your own words you do not trust her.”

“I need not explain myself to you, Galmar.”

The general bristled.  “Have you taken leave of your senses, Ulfric?”

“Have you?” the jarl countered, the irritation in his voice becoming noticeable.

“What do you really know about this girl?” he demanded pointedly.

Ulfric cast a withering look at his friend.

“You know I’m right, Ulfric.”

“I know you overstep your place.”  He sat at his desk and looked at him.  “What brings you to my chambers this morning?”

“I was going to talk to you about our next move, but I think I’m going to wait until we can speak privately.”

Ulfric nodded.  “that would be best.  Meliandra will be leaving for Falkreath later today’ we will discuss what lays before us tonight.”  He glanced at the bed beyond the door to his study and thought briefly about the woman who lay asleep in it, wondering what exactly had brought her to him last night; he looked back at his general.  “Your…concerns are noted, old friend.”

“Hmph.  Just make sure you’re not thinking with your dick, Ulfric.  That girl is nothing but trouble; it’s written all over her face.”

“You are dismissed, Galmar,” Ulfric snapped shortly, his eyes going cold as he stared at his friend.  He waited until he heard the door open and shut again before he got up and walked back to the bed.  Meliandra hadn’t moved during the time he had been out of bed; he removed his cloak and crawled back into bed, pulling the Breton close to him as he kissed the area of her neck that met her shoulder.  Soon she was making pleasured sounds as sleep lifted from her, bringing a smile to his face.  “Good morning, my Temptress,” he murmured against her skin, his lips lightly caressing her skin.  “I trust you slept well?”

Her answer was to turn her head, meeting his gaze as she leaned up to kiss him, pressing her lips firmly against his.  She turned her body into his, his hands running up her arms as he returned her kiss.  She felt his desire stirring against her, the intensity of his kiss growing as his hands found their way to her face, cupping it as his kiss deepened.  Throwing her leg over his waist, she brought herself atop of him, a smirk upon her face as she said, “Morning.”

He looked at her above him, his eyes taking in every detail of her, the trim physique of her body, the definition of her muscle tone, the scars that were evidence to the battles she had fought and won.  She ran her fingernails down his chest, a sparkle of mischief in her eyes.  He went to lean up toward her, but she set her palm against his chest and pushed back, a smirk on her face as she leaned over, pressing her lips against his.  He held her head, her hair entwining in his fingers as he returned the kiss, the passion building inside of him against as it did the previous night.  She began gyrating her groin atop of him, slowly, seductively, making him grow hard against her.

He groaned, wanting her, craving her, needing to have her envelop him once again.  His hands found their way to her thighs, gripping them as she rubbed herself on his groin.  “Even now you must tease me?”

She smiled as she leaned down, placing soft kisses upon his chest, murmuring, “Of course; teasing is only the beginning of pleasure.”  Readjusting herself slightly, she shifted her weight back and felt Ulfric’s shaft slip comfortably deep inside her, eliciting pleasured moans from both of them as she began rocking herself back and forth, eyes closed and biting her lip.

The jarl’s hands traveled up her waist finding their way to her firm breasts where he began massaging them, roughly, tweaking her nipples into stiff perks before raising himself enough to wrap his arms around her, cupping her breasts with his mouth, suckling them as if a hungry babe.  He felt her hands combing through his hair, her moaning, lustfully, as his ears picked up his name being uttered over and over; he found his arousal was becoming more and more demanding as he felt the build up intensifying.

He pulled her closer to him and brought her lips to his, crushing them with the hunger he felt deep within himself.  “Meliandra,” he growled thickly, “his breath coming in short bursts, “you must quench this fire.”

In response, the Breton changed the tempo of her movements, increasing it until she had worked herself into a heated frenzy until finally she cried out as her orgasm spread through her body, his name once more being called out.

Ulfric’s own orgasm began as hers came to its end, his hands gripping her thighs tight as he flooded her womb with his seed.  He reached up, cupping the back of her head with his hand and drew her close to him, kissing her deeply.  “Good morning, my Temptress,” he said thickly.

Smiling, she responded, “Ulfric” and then began to get out of bed.

He reached toward her, his fingers grazing her arm.  “Running away, already?”

She glanced back at him as she walked to his study where her dropped cloak lay.  “Running away?”  A chuckle escaped her lips.  “Haven’t you proven to me that running is futile?  It’s not like I can hide; you know that eventually I’ll be in Falkreath or Riften.  You’ll find me.”

“Will I have to?”  he asked.

“Find me?”  She shook her head, picking up her cloak and draping it around her shoulder, clasping it with a golden brooch.  “No, you won’t. I’ll be coming back.”  Thinking of Amaund Motierre and the job he was paying for, she smiled and continued, “I have a feeling you are going to be seeing a whole lot more of me.”

The Promise

Stunned for but a moment, he kissed her fully as he stood up, his hand finding the small of her back and pulling her to him.  His free hand found its way through her hair as he deepened the kiss, his tongue slipping past her lips and intertwining with hers.  The kiss possessed him, threatening to drown him in the pent up frustrations they both shared.  

He broke the kiss, his breathing heavy.  He cupped her face with both hands and looked in her eyes.  “Why must you persist in torturing me, my temptress?” he said hoarsely, his voice barely above a whisper. 

She met his gaze, answering, “I’m offering myself to you.” 

His eyebrow arched as he searched her face, his forefinger now tracing her jawline to her chin where his thumb then traced her lips softly.  “offering yourself?  Are you…sure you want this?  You did say I was dangerous for you.” 

She nodded.  “If you’ll have me.” 

Ulfric sat in his personal study reviewing reports that had come in earlier in the day but he had been preoccupied with random thoughts of the Breton thief who now lay in a bed down the passageway in the chambers he had started considering hers.  And he was distracted by the images of her in his head hours after he had bid her good night at the end of the evening meal.  He set a report back on the stack with the others again when he had realized that he had barely read the words before him.  He ran his hand over his face as he stared into the fire, his conversation with Meliandra replaying in his mind.  She was skilled in turning conversation away from subjects she did not wish to engage in, having deflected his many attempts to learn of her youth and how she had found herself in the back of the wagon headed to the headsman’s black.  He found it alluring, the secrecy she kept around her like a shroud, yet, at the same time, he saw it as a red flag and that he must proceed with caution.

He picked up his tankard and filled it with mead and took a large drink of it as his mind traced her image before him, her lithe body sauntering toward him, his name dripping off her tongue like honey from a comb.  He closed his eyes, took a deep breath and counted to ten, then opened his eyes, picked up the report and began reading again.

Across the passageway, Meliandra laid wide awake in bed, staring at the ceiling above, listening to the crackling embers of the hearth fire as a snowstorm raged outside.  She thought about her Dunmer lover Gabriella; she loved the woman, but was not in love with her.  And Arnbjorn, she enjoyed sex with the werewolf but he held no claim to her heart.  Brnjolf’s smile, floated to the top of her memory, his voice echoed in her ears; a pang of hurt clutched her chest as she forced his image from her mind.

Suddenly, she threw the furs off of her and reached for the warm thick cloak on the chair near her bed and wrapped herself in it  as she made her way out of her chambers.  She had no destination in mind, only the need to outrun the pained feelings she still carried for the Nord thief.  She blindly walked through the well-lit passages, her memories clouding her vision.  Her conflicting feelings over the Windhelm jarl crept into her thoughts and soon she was remembering the kiss they had shared, short but full of hunger.  She had felt hunger like that before and craved the passion she knew made up that hunger.

But it was Ulfric Stormcloak who aroused that craving within her.  It was a man who would hate her if he knew her truths that distracted her from the ache of Brynjolf’s betrayal.  And she couldn’t help but feel a strong pull to this jarl, no matter how dangerous of a man he was.

#

Ulfric rubbed his closed eyes as he set the report on his desk, a deep sigh escaping his lips as he gave up trying to read these reports at all this night.  His thoughts refused to give up the image of the Breton, blurring the words before him until all he saw was the thief.  Asking her to remain in his city was tormenting him.  He looked at the door in his study that led to the passage to her chambers, a passageway that connected his childhood chambers to these chambers he lived in now, chambers that once belonged to his parents, the passageway that his mother used in caring for him as a babe rather than making use of a nanny or a wet-nurse.  He was tempted to journey down the old passageway to gaze upon her once more as he had done before, but this time he resisted the urge.

He got the distinct feeling he had eyes watching him and, turning to look at the door, he saw Meliandra approaching him quietly, her eyes meeting his.  She stopped directly in front of him, a slight hesitation to her as he opened her mouth to speak, then stopping, closing her mouth and glancing away.

“Meliandra?” he asked, “is everything alright?”

She let her cloak fall to the floor at her feet in response.

He sat in silence for a moment, the naked form in front of him making him lose his tongue as he gazed at the Breton approaching him.  “Melian-” he began only to be silenced by her lips pressing against his.  Stunned for but a moment, he kissed her fully as he stood up, his hand finding the small of her back and pulling her to him.  His free hand found its way through her hair as he deepened the kiss, his tongue slipping past her lips and intertwining with hers.  The kiss possessed him, threatening to drown him in the pent up frustrations they both shared.

He broke the kiss, his breathing heavy.  He cupped her face with both hands and looked in her eyes.  “Why must you persist in torturing me, my temptress?” he said hoarsely, his voice barely above a whisper.

She met his gaze, answering, “I’m offering myself to you.”

His eyebrow arched as he searched her face, his forefinger now tracing her jawline to her chin where his thumb then traced her lips softly.  “offering yourself?  Are you…sure you want this?  You did say I was dangerous for you.”

She nodded.  “If you’ll have me.”

He pulled her close to him again, drawing her into another kiss, his hunger for her consumed him as he lifted her up into his arms and carried her to his bed, laying her atop the thick furs.  Backing away from the bed, but keeping his eyes upon her, he bolted the door to his rooms before removing the pants he wore, leaving nothing more than his braies.  He approached the bed, eyeing the Breton.  He ran his hand along the length of her leg, moved his hand to her stomach, palm down, skimming its way up to her chest, and through the divide of her breasts.  He curled his fingers inward as he brushed them against her neck as he cupped her head in his hand, bending down  to gently kiss her lips.

Climbing onto the ed next to her, he let his free hand roam over her body, rubbing it sensuously as he ran his lips down her neck.  She leaned her head back, a soft moan slipping past her lips, her eyes closed.  He felt himself growing harder as his passion built.  Fingernails ran down his chest, stopping at the waist of his undergarment.  He kissed her lips as he felt her fingers working loose the ties that held those undergarments up.  Her touch was stimulating, making his desire grow more and once she had pushed his garments down his legs, he felt those fingernails resume their enticing touch as they found their way to his sex where her hands began giving him attention.

Neither spoke as they touched and explored one another, kissing one another with a slowly increasing fervor.  He ran his hand along the scar along her lower abdomen, as she traced the many scars that crisscrossed his chest, his shoulders and onto his back.  They recognized the wounds as battle scars of a personal level, both knew the stories behind how the scars came to be were stories kept under lock and key.

Ulfric re-positioned himself, resting his body just above her’s; his hardness resting atop her, making her acutely aware of his desire for her.  He kissed her again, tasting her lips greedily before looking her in the eye and asked huskily, “This is what you want?”

At her nod, he leaned in to kiss her briefly before thrusting himself in her, filling her with the thickness that was his sex organ.  She gasped as she felt him hit deep within her, her hips beginning to gyrate in time with him, her nails now scratching his chest, bringing blood to his skin.

Slowly, Ulfric made love to Meliandra, seeking only to please her first as he savored the very touch of her beneath him.  Her lips caressed his chest every so often, her tongue flicking across his skin drawing pleasured sounds from the jarl.  He leaned down, nuzzling his face against her neck as he placed light kisses upon her shoulder, working his way along her neckline to her jawline until her lips met his and gave way to the force of his kiss, laying claim to her, possessing her.  She met his fervor with one of her own, inflaming both their passions explosively.

Meliandra’s body began to tremble as he drove her to the brink before her orgasm racked her body, her head thrust back as she rode the wave of her climax, her moaning coming to a crescendo.  Ulfric thrust himself into the Breton, her juices sliding down his cock, lubricating his shaft as he pumped back and forth again, slowly bringing her  to another orgasm that had her clawing at him as her body spasmed hard beneath him.

He felt his own orgasm approaching; he knew that he was past the point of no return, that there was no staving off his hunger anymore as he began to chase that elation that sexual release gave.  He was vaguely aware that his temptress was orgasming once more, his name now rolling off her lips as she begged for him to give her his release, hard and fast.  He felt her fingernails tearing into his flesh as she grabbed a hold of him in a frenzy, triggering his climax.

He thrust himself inside her once more and, holding himself above her, his member twitching inside her as he exploded into her, flooding her womb with his seed.  With his release, he looked into her eyes as he drew close to her, his lips brushing hers softly, tenderly before saying, “I promise I won’t hurt you, my temptress.”

A slight smile appeared on her lips as she kissed him then looked in his eyes, responding, “And if I made that promise, it’d be a lie.  I will hurt you, Ulfric, that is my promise to you.”