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Fanfiction: Fennorian (ofc), OC, mostly talking, might contain spoilers

Of wine and pain

A soft crunch of dry grass punctured silence as footsteps approached from behind. "Good evening, friend. Did not expect to meet you here. I thought you already left."
Annarath took a long sip from a bottle of wine, closed her eyes, and let out a sigh. "Those were some... rough days. Now I'm taking my time. What are you doing here? I thought you weren't allowed to leave Mages Guild basement."
Fennorian chuckled and sat on the ground beside her. "Went out for herbs and some fresh air. You don't mind company?"
"No, I don't mind your company. How are you after... everything that's happened?"
"I'm fine. Mostly. My mind is still a bit uneasy about what happened when we fought harrowfiends. And, frankly, something still hurts after Tzinghalis... after what he did. Not sure if it's a physical feeling".
"Tzinghalis..." Annarath rolled the name on her tongue like a ripe berry. "His death was too easy."
"Don't." Fennorian frowned. "You are better than that. "
Annarath let out a stifled laugh. "I'm so much worse."
Fennorian raised his brow in a silent question.
"Sometimes things that must be done are not good things to do."
"I believe saving the world outweighs this. You are a hero. And my... " Fennorian hesitated. "My friend."
"It's not safe to have me as a friend." Annarath pretended not to notice that pause. "In my line of work you don't really get to pick your allies, and aside from that, I'm affiliated with some people, who are not exactly law-abiding or even generally nice."
"Like who?"
"I'm not ready for the consequences of telling you. You'd hate me. And most likely end up murdered." Annarath took another sip. "I have to side with enemies, who happen to be enemies of my other enemies even if they are no less of a threat to the mortals."
"I'm not one." Annarath rubbed her forehead in frustration.
"Ah, so that's what it is."
"What what is?"
"It was obvious that you are not just a Dunmer the moment I first saw you in the Unhallowed Grave, and it piqued my curiosity, of course, but I decided that asking straight away what kind of being you are would be... uncouth."
"Uncouth?" Annarath laughed. "Oh, Fennorian. Always caring about decorum."
"So... now, when we are not complete strangers anymore..."
"No. I... I'm sorry, but I'm not ready to discuss this also. Not yet." She felt as if touched by a cold gust of wind. "I'm not trying to push you away, Fennorian, but... "
He turned to her, very serious, almost grim. "You are." He then smiled softly. "But it's the most unenthusiastic attempt I've ever seen. I understand. I do have some dark secrets of my own, after all."
Annarath chuckled and handed him the bottle. "Want some?"
They sat for some time, quietly sharing the wine as blue hour crept on, bloomed, and slowly faded into darkness. At last, Fennorian broke the silence.
"How have you been? What is bothering you?"
Annarath hesitated, biting her lip. "Nightmares of Tzinghalis's tower. Of being too late," she murmured bitterly.
Fennorian gave her a long look.
Annarath shrugged. "You were hurt there, not me. It's like I stole those from you and cannot complain now."
"You need to get used to the fact that I'm not in danger."
"But you are! Rada al-Saran is still out there! I just... " Annarath sighed and nudged dead leaves with her boot. "I'm terrified of you joining all the other people I didn't save. All those people..." Names and faces flooded her memory. She swallowed, and it hurt. "All those people who are gone because... because I wasn't strong enough to fight without their sacrifice. Like Darien. Or Abnur. Or Verandis."
"My darling Annarath." Fennorian took her hand. "Please, don't blame yourself. You are strong enough. You are the strongest, most valiant, most—"
"Looks like you are drunk."
"I care about you, my friend. And I'll try my best to stay alive, I promise"
"Thank you." Annarath took a deep breath. Air was fragrant with smells of drying grass, fallen leaves, and approaching winter.
"What are you going to do now? Leaving to save some other part of Tamriel or staying in Solitude a bit longer?" asked Fennorian.
"I might stay," Annarath said softly, "You need help with the netherroot?"
"That would be very kind of you, but that's not why I asked. I just..." He moved, causing dry grass to rustle.
Silence hung once again. From their vantage point, lights of Solitude were visible, and behind it peacefully glistened the vast expanse of the sea.
"I'm glad that you are still here."
It was already dark, but Annarath felt that Fennorian smiled.
  • Nairinhe
    Of tea and dreams

    Annarath entered the basement of Solitude Mages Guild bringing with her chill, moist air of early winter. She dropped herself on the floor in front of the fireplace and started taking off soaked boots. "You don't mind? Everything outside is either dripping or covered in icy slush. How is work on the elixir? You should be finishing the last batch, yes? Is there something else I can help you with?"
    Fennorian glanced at her, momentarily diverting his attention from murmuring alembic. "Oh dear, I didn't realize how oppressive the quietness of this place was before your arrival. Yes, we are almost done here, finally. Last of the elixir is being brewed, and the harrowed are showing signs of recovery, even if slowly."
    "You are the real savior of Skyrim, Fenn. I was there just to kill some people who wouldn't let you work in peace. Any word from the rest of House Ravenwatch?"
    "Not much. They are still on the trail, but Rada al-Saran is elusive." He left alembic to its business and leaned against the wall. "How are your nightmares?"
    "They are fine, thank you. I got reminded that those are not the worst kind."
    "What do you mean?"
    "You know the dreams that are so vivid that you wake up completely disoriented, unable to discern them from reality? I saw how Baar Dau fell. Like I was there, I felt the wave of devastation rolling over me. At least with that tower, when I wake up, I know that it's not going to happen."
    "Have any of your dreams come true?"
    Ambiguous phrasing distracted her, and, for a moment, she was just gazing at his tall, lean frame, noble Altmer features, dark hair, long fingers. "No. Not yet. Not likely that they would ever." She snapped out of her daydreaming. "I don't think these are prophetic, I mean. I've had one where Galerion fell in a battle with Mannimarco's army. That's pretty ridiculous, given Mannimarco's state."
    "I believe it is."
    Annarath moved her toes and found them sufficiently warmed up. Boots were still wet, though. She reached for her bag, rummaged in its depths, and fished out a small wooden box. She shook it and something inside softly rustled. "I got something from my nana. Care for a cup of tea? But I must warn you I have a very approximate idea of what exactly is in there."
    "I have certain concerns, then, if it is safe for someone in my... condition."
    "It's safe. Tested on a volunteer, so to say. It may make you a bit drowsy, at worst."
    "Well, then, of course, I would like to try it."

    Disregarding any rules of proper tea making, Annarath just dumped contents of the whole box into the water before it even barely warmed up.
    "Come here, let's see if we can determine whatever is floating in there while it's brewing."
    "Haven't you already tried?" Fennorian knelt beside her. "Well, there are tea leaves. I see a rowan berry. And rowan leaves. And something... glowy?"
    "I have, but I need a fresh perspective, yes? It's a glowstalk from Coldharbour. Maybe. And these pale blue things look like sugared lavender, no?"
    "Moon sugar?"
    "But it's safe?"
    "And legal?"
    "Questionably. Oh, that's wormwood. I wonder what's countering that taste".
    "That's borderline alchemy. Feel that faint mushroom smell? I think it may be luminous russula."
    "Potentially, could you pick it apart and determine all the ingredients?"
    "Oh, certainly, especially when I already know some of them — Is that a twig? Yes, that's an apple tree twig — Although I'm not sure if I want to know, it's already wild enough."
    Annarath quietly laughed. "Wild it is."
    "And it does something, no?"
    "It has mild calming and healing properties. Nana used to make it when someone was unwell, so... It reminds me of the comfort of my childhood. Back when I wasn't yet a hero..."
    "Sounds like you had a nice childhood."
    "I... ended up with nana and the rest when I was just a baby. Maybe one day I'll tell you that story too. By Hermorah, how much did I promise to tell you already? Anyway, I grew up among Khajiit and Argonians. Everybody was working hard to provide for the family and to keep us safe from— " She hesitated. "From the trouble."
    "Was your grandmother kind?"
    "Kind, but strict. I took up thievery when I was... ten? Nana talked to me once, twice, and then just gave me such a beating that only a healer and a grandma can. The one that hurts your backside just enough to remember, but you pride - so much more."
    "Sounds harsh."
    "Nah. When you have a pack of little scoundrels, that's the right way. Always well-deserved and precisely measured. Nana used to say, `If your skull is too thick to let something in, I'll have to talk to softer parts`. Kisiro once told her that if she keeps beating us, our butts will be as hard as our heads. A big mistake."
    "Where is he now?"
    "He is quite a successful merchant: clothes, fabrics, that sort of thing. Last I've heard, he was doing business somewhere in Senchal. So, it seems it worked. For him. I made friends with the Thieves Guild."
    "Aha. Your `affiliations`?"
    "One of. You know, I've been told once that being a hero is supposed to be pure and honest." Annarath shrugged. "That's not my case, obviously. What about your childhood? If you are willing to— "
    "No." Fennorian shook his head. "Not yet."
    Annarath got up to fill their mugs. He slowly followed.
    Fennorian carefully put the hot liquid to his lips. "It tastes of hay, dry leaves, apples... and rowan. It's a bit sweet and a bit bitter. Like homely autumn, if that makes sense."
    "It makes perfect sense." Annarath's smile was subtle, but her eyes were glowing. He got lost in that glow for a moment.
    "I like it." He grabbed his mug with both hands.
    "Now that you are properly protected from any sadness by these sacred fumes— "
    "Oh." His shoulders sank a bit. "You are leaving. When?"
    "As soon as we finish this tea. Don't tell me you are going to miss me."
    "I got used to your visits, I guess. And... where are you off to? If I may ask, of course."
    "Vvardenfell. Home. Sleeping, fishing, messing around in my garden. Waiting for news from House Ravenwatch." She took a sip while looking at him intently from behind the rim of her mug.
    "You'll be the first to know if we find anything."
    "I count on it."
    "You are not only a dear friend, but also an invaluable ally, you know. But, listen, there is something I wanted to talk about, but... There never was the right moment."
    "There never is the right moment. Now is as good as any, yes?"
    "Well..." Fennorian tried his best to compose himself. "Anna, you have always tried to protect me from yourself but never questioned if I am a monster. If there is darkness in my past and present too. Because there is."
    "I have seen enough of your present not to be worried about your past, Fennorian, and I have seen that you are no monster."
    "Then, would you accept that I have seen enough of yours?" He took a step towards her. "I realize perfectly well that I have not seen all of it. But for me, it is enough."
    "Right, about my present - people may come to you and ask about me. Just tell them that I left for Vvardenfell and that I have the thing. If they are friends, they would know where to find me. If they are not, it would be enough for them to leave you alone. See?" Annarath smiled nervously.
    He took another half a step and could hear precisely how hard her heart was beating. Ever so slight tension hung in the air.
    "I see. And I am perfectly capable of handling such a situation."
    "Good for you. But I don't want you to have to. Oh, well, something tells me that talking to the wall about that matter would be more fruitful."
    "You've told me before that I am stubborn, and not without reason, I believe." Fennorian smirked.
    "Fine, fine. Where are you going after you are done here, then?"
    "Unless my sisters find Rada by then, I have a couple of leads on other matters for investigation." Fennorian backed away a bit, but the tension did not dissipate.
    "Sounds exciting." Annarath fiddled with her empty mug. Tea ran out, and so did her time in Solitude.
    Boots were still slightly damp.
    "I do hope that excitement will be purely scholarly. I've got my fair share of action already."
    "That you surely did. Fenn..."
    "I see."
    There was an awkward pause.
    Fennorian put his hands on Annarath's shoulders. "Be safe."
    She gently touched his hand. "You too."

    On the stairs, she turned around. "Remember, you promised me to stay alive." And then promptly left.

    Fennorian hunched over the table. "What an idiot I am," he thought. "What a gutless idiot." He sighed and busied himself with his alchemical equipment. He hoped that the smell of that quaint Khajiiti tea would linger a bit more.

    Annarath trudged through the streets of Solitude, trying to wipe wet snow off her face. "Xhuth. Throw these fantasies out of your head, you pathetic clingy jeek," she thought. "He deserves so much better. He's way too nice for you. You would only get him hurt. Again."
  • Nairinhe
    Of love

    "And then, Verandis? What will happen to you?" 
    "That I do not know. Maybe that's what my eternity will be. Maybe I will fade away as the Heart goes deeper into slumber. For now, I stay. And you go. But before you leave, there's one last thing. I wanted to talk about you and Fennorian."
    Annarath leaned on the handrail and watched for a moment how little blue flames danced at the wayshrine below. "There's no such thing as 'me and Fennorian'. Maybe it's better to keep it that way." 
    "Of that I have doubts."
    Annarath turned to him and raised her brow in a silent question. Verandis smiled. "I have seen how you two look at each other. What troubles you?"
    "I am not someone who you would want to be near your son. I did save the people of Tamriel a bunch of times, but I'm not a hero. I'm a thief, a murderer, a smuggler, a servant to a Daedric Prince, and basically a daedra myself. I'm not even a generally good person."
    Verandis put his hands behind his back and tilted his head. 
    "Have you ever turned down someone who came to you for help, be it a daedric invasion or a lost guar?"
    "I don't think I have."
    "Have you ever killed or even hurt anyone without a reason?"
    "I have killed people for rather petty reasons."
    "Yes, but for no reason whatsoever or simply for amusement?"
    Anna shook her head. "I may be a monster, but I'm not that kind of monster."
    "You are not a monster. Have you ever brought harm to a friend or left them behind?"
    "That I have. Because they told me to. Like you did."
    "I'm sorry."
    "I understand. We did what we had to do. Please, go on."
    "I have seen how you fight and what you fight for. So I have one last question: do you love Fennorian?"
    "He is my heart."
    "I thought as much." Verandis smiled warmly. "Annarath, I trust you, House Ravenwatch trusts you. Maybe you should trust yourself. I know, you worry about Fennorian, but he's not that fragile."
    "I know. I've seen how strong he is. And how stubborn."
    "Stubborn as an echatere. You see, I have kept others at arm's length for eternity and where did it get me? Don't make the same mistake that I did. I'd be happy to know that I leave you two in each other's hands. Maybe you can stop Fenn from barricading in the library."
    "He told me he's not going to. Verandis, you say all the right things, but there's still something... I don't know what it is..."
    "You being so accustomed to the epic tragedy of your heroic deeds that you are terrified of unclenching your jaw and letting yourself be happy?" Verandis looked amused.
    "You find it funny?" 
    "Not your state, of course, but the fact that you are so completely unaware of it. You are always alert, always ready to fight, constantly strained, unless... " — Verandis smirked—"Unless Fennorian is nearby."
    "Right, I remember how relaxed I was in Tzinghalis's laboratory."
    "You know what I mean. And before you go on arguing for the sake of arguing - I'm not talking about you being chained to each other for the rest of your life."
    "Of course. It's about the meaning of the effect we have on each other."
    "Exactly. He smiles way more than I remember him to."
    "I'm not saying I have no more doubts, but... You've convinced me. Thank you." Annarath hesitated for a moment and then gave him a firm hug. "Thank you, Verandis. For everything you have done. For House Ravenwatch."
    He gently hugged her in return. "Without you, I wouldn't be here now. I wouldn't have a chance to stop Rada. And I convinced you only because you wanted to be convinced." He let go of her, turned her around by her shoulders, and gave her a slight nudge. "Now go. I need to return to the Dark Heart. And you need to talk to Fennorian, Annarath of House Ravenwatch."
    Anna looked over her shoulder. "I'm so glad that you didn't stay in that realm."
    He just smiled and gestured to her to hurry up.

    Fennorian was sitting under a lonely tree on a cliff, a blade of grass in his mouth, his flask in his hands, looking west, at Markarth, at the sun slowly crawling down, at lengthening shadows. He turned his head at Annarath's approach and his eyes slightly widened. Anna's heart was already beating a tad harder than the steepness of the rocky slope would warrant and now she felt blood rushing to her cheeks. Fennorian lowered his gaze, put away the flask, and got up.
    "I... I apologize. Didn't mean to stare like that. It's just that I have never seen you in a dress. Or in anything that is not armor for that matter."
    Annarath smiled shyly. "And I don't think I have ever seen you relaxing."
    Fennorian scratched his neck. "A lot of things happened. I needed to sort it out, I guess. And to gather my thoughts before I talk to you."
    "I've been sitting here for half a day and I still don't know what to say, to be honest..."
    "What did you want to talk about?" 
    "About... us. If there even can be such a thing, of course, and if you... if you don't mind." 
    Annarath smiled, fiddling with her sleeve. "Of course it can and of course I don't mind. But I promised to tell you about myself and I think it would be fair if you knew, before you... before we... you know..."
    "Whatever you want to tell me, I'm willing to listen. Even if it is highly unlikely to change how... how I feel about you."
    "A promise is a promise, right? Well, I belong to House Dres by birth. I'm a member of the Thieves Guild and a Silencer of the Dark Brotherhood. I serve Hermaeus Mora, which usually means acquiring relics, which in turn means murder, thievery, and smuggling. I also do smuggling outside of running Hermorah 's errands. Also, I'm a Dunmer-shaped Nirn-bound daedra with my own mortal soul loosely slapped on." She sighed. "That's it, I think."
    "I see." The warmest, most gentle 'I see' Annarath ever heard. 
    Fennorian took her hand and his touch was electrifying. She looked at him. Sunset gave him back that warm golden Altmer skin tone. He was so tall, so handsome, so magnetic. He smiled and carefully stroked her fingers and that was enough to make her heart almost jump out of her chest.
    "Anna. You've helped House Ravenwatch many times. You helped to bring back Verandis and to deal with Rada. You saved my life. But you also saw a person where others see a monster. You saw an ally where others saw a burden. You allowed me to be useful. I mean, aside from sneaking in shadows always one step behind an enemy or being a living library catalog. And... you are so... so..." Fennorian sighed. "You'd think having read as much as I do, one would be better with words." He looked at her with a guilty smile. "Annarath… I love you."
    "And I love you too, Fennorian."
    Fennorian stepped closer and gently moved a silvery strand of hair from her face.
    "May I?" he asked softly. 
    "Of course," she whispered.
    And their lips finally met in a long, gentle, breathless kiss.
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