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Catching Up On Lost Time

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It had been ten years since the Dragonborn had had a chat with her. Ten years. Ten years and she still barely even looks at him. The occasional polite hello, here, and a smile and head nod there. Twice now it had been very polite and standard conversation about the weather. That was about as far as it had ever gotten since she stopped threatening to bloody his face.

Lars sat at the Bannered Mare, the bar counter empty, save for him, a half eaten piece of bread, and his bottle of ale, almost gone. He had just turned nineteen and was growing into a man. He had filled out broad shoulders, and had grown up like a weed. He was average in height for a Nord, therefore tall enough to damn near tower over anyone who wasn't Nord or Altmer. His hair had grown out as well, brushing his shoulders at this point. He was proud of his mane and refused to cut it. His face remained void of facial hair though. It grew in awkwardly, so he kept having to shave it off in order to save himself the embarrassment of the obvious bald spots on his chin.

Brown eyes scanned the room, taking another swig of his drink. No sign of her yet. She was a worker here, singing and playing as a bard to entertain the guests and drunks that had recently taken up residence in Whiterun. He hadn't come here too often. Last thing he wanted was for her to think was that he was an alcoholic himself, or that he was spying on her or something. Another drink. Then the door opened.

In she came, the brown haired beauty in all her glory. Braith had certainly blossomed since they were both kids. She was now a beautiful woman, aged twenty. Her hair was long and a rich brown, falling down to her waist. Her round face that used to be caked with dirt from hours of play in the grit and mud was now matured and defined. Hazel eyes reflected the firelight. Lars gulped. She was wearing that dress.

Low cut, showing an amble amount of cleavage from the chest she was generously given when she came of age. Along with that came the slit that ran up the expanse of her thigh, letting him see a wide range of her soft, supple skin. He took yet another drink and kept his eye trained on her, despite telling himself that he was staring and not only was that rude, but unnerving. She strode through the inn, approaching the fire pit. She saw him, and as usual, offered a polite smile and a short nod, never stopping or slowing her gait. He took another drink. The bottle now sat empty at the counter.

Lars had tried to talk to her in the past but it had never ended very fruitfully. Maybe he should've just taken the beatings as a kid? Maybe he should never have talked to the Dragonborn in the first place. He let out a long, weary breath and leaned back comfortably in the barstool, looking up at the shelves behind Ysolda as she polished a tankard. He heard Braith pick up a lute and began playing Ragnar the Red. Local favorite. Her voice wasn't the best that he had heard, but she was definitely good, to say the least. The people of Whiterun didn't care much. She was a pretty girl who sang to them when they were hammered.

After the song ended, the door opened and in came Mila. She was almost Lars' age, just barely turning eighteen a few days past and was covered in dirt from her work that day. She cut her hair a long time ago, when she began her apprenticeship to help her mother keep a steady income and to put food on the table. She said it only got in the way. Now her chestnut locks only reached the nape of her neck. She let out a contented sigh, replacing her bow in its place on her back and rubbed her gloved hands together. She strode over to the bar and sat down unceremoniously in the seat.

"Bottle of Black Briar, please." Mila requested, slapping septims on the counter. Ysolda greeted her warmly and slid a bottle to her from behind the counter. Mila beamed, popping the cork off of the bottle and took a long swig of the liquid.

"Good day?" Lars asked. Mila looked surprised, turning to him, cheeks full of mead. She looked like a shocked squirrel. Gulping, she laughed good naturedly and waved her hand at him.

"Oh Lars. I must not have seen you. My apologies." She brushed a few strands of hair out of her face before taking a sip of her mead. Lars smiled tightly, amused by her nature, yet mildly annoyed that he'd been overlooked completely despite being right next to her. "Yeah today was good. I managed to kill a moose and a couple rabbits, so the stall will be well stocked tomorrow. I just wanted to unwind a little before getting back to work." She explained. She toyed with the bottle a little, turning to face him.

"What about you?" The spritely hunter waited for him to respond. She was mildly disappointed when he offered a nonchalant shrug, sliding the empty bottle between his hands on the counter.

"It was normal. There were a few daggers commissioned. A shield was bought so I had to make a new one to replace it in our inventory. Managed to slice one of my fingers on a blade. One particular order came in today from a guy in Rorikstead, so I'll have a busy day tomorrow. That was really all I had to do today." Lars looked over to Braith, who was taking requests from patrons. Mila tilted her head, which went unnoticed by Lars.

"Hey." Lars looked back at the young lady, who smiled sympathetically at him. "Still no progress?" Lars nodded once before flagging down Ysolda for another drink. He looked at the new bottle, which contained his usual cheap ale that he ordered. He pretended to inspect the label, looking bored while doing so.

"I don't know. Maybe I'm not trying hard enough. It's just...every time I try, it seems like she gives me the littlest interaction possible. She's not completely ignoring me, so that's good. I would just like it if she talked to me about something other than the weather you know? That would be nice. Don't you agree?" He turned to face the young huntress but frowned in confusion. "Where'd she go?" Mila had disappeared, no longer sitting in her seat, leaving her mead at the counter.

Lars looked around the room before he found her and his eyes widened. Mila was chatting away with Braith, an ever present grin on her face as she spoke. Braith's face went from her normal demeanor to a slightly uncomfortable one. The two girls then looked in Lars' direction, Braith's expression a bit unreadable for him, but Mila's was plainly giddy as ever, gesturing widely to him with an outstretched arm, palm splayed and with a smile stretching her lips. The two women began walking towards him. Oh no.

Mila took up her spot next to Lars at the counter, retaking her booze and drinking with purpose, a few gulps sliding down her throat before she set the bottle back down and dragged her arm across her mouth to wipe off the excess liquor. She gave a small nod in Braith's direction and winked, turning and facing Ysolda.

Both young adults were awkwardly placed in front of the other, Lars sitting with his drink, Braith standing and with a forced smile.

"Mila told me you had a request. I haven't gotten any since Age of Aggression, so whatever you want, I'm all ears." Braith explained, keeping her posture straight.

"I uh..." Lars stammered, not sure what to do at this point. What was he supposed to say? What was he supposed to ask her? He'd never done this before!

Braith looked patient, having dealt with people full of drink on a regular basis. She was probably used to this kind of thing by now but it didn't stop Lars from drawing a total blank. She clasped her hands together, looking down coyly with that forced smile. Gods she was beautiful. He never talked to beautiful women. How do people do this? How do people face down someone so attractive and not look like an arsehole?

"Having trouble remembering already?" Mila joked, playfully smacking his arm. He shot her a look and found that her usual warm smile was a bit tight, as if readily expecting him to have done something by now. He should've, he realized, but what? Seconds ticked by and still nothing but a few stammers came from his mouth.

"Tell you what, Braith?" Mila began, raising her hand, finger extended, ready to speak. "Lars is obviously drawing a blank from that bottomless wellspring that is his brain, so what about I try to get the answer out of him and we can both walk you home tonight? It'll be added protection from a blacksmith and a hunter, and you'll be away from patrons trying to grope your bum. How about it?" Mila asked. Lars frowned in confusion and shock, looking between her and Braith, who kept her focus on Mila. She batted her eyes, also confused by the Imperial.

"But...what about the request?" She asked.

"Well, if it's better for you, maybe you could treat us to said song while we're walking? It would have to be better than singing the last song of the night in a crowded, stuffy inn." Mila shrugged, her usual grin back on her face.

"Hey!" Ysolda called, offended from behind the counter, hearing the comment on her business. Mila turned and offered a small apologetic look to the redhead.

"No offense." She turned back, earning a lopsided amused smile from Ysolda as she began to wipe the counter clean of crumbs and rings from cold glasses, tankards, and bottles accumulated through the night thus far. Mila faced Braith again, who looked unsure.

"I don't know..." Braith began, taking a glance at Lars, who darkened with a handsome shade of pink at this. She looked back at Mila. "I have to stay here pretty late. Nelkir usually comes in to relieve my duties halfway through the night, so you'd be waiting her a while." Braith began. Mila just simply waved it off as no big deal. It wasn't a big deal to her, Lars supposed.

"It'll be fine. After all, if you're willing to do this, it's the least we can do to make sure you make it home protected. Sound good?" Braith weighed the proposal in her mind before she nodded and a polite smile graced her features and she nodded.

"Alright. That sounds fair. I'll be expecting you here at the end of the night, alright?" Braith turned to walk back to the other patrons, eagerly waiting her arrival. Lars turned to Mila, and opened his mouth to speak before being cut off.

"I should let you know right now that I'll be leaving to go tend to my kills that I had today, so I'll be cutting out early. You can escort her home and converse away. That should help, right?" Mila took another swig of her drink before pouting slightly. Her mead was gone. She turned the bottle downwards, spilling a few wayward drops on the wooden surface, earning a scowl from Ysolda who quickly wiped the area clean.

"So...you..." He began slowly, not sure how to continue his statement.

"Well you certainly weren't doing anything about it yourself." Mila teased. She ordered a cream treat and ate it slowly. She patted him on the shoulder in response to his following expression. "You'll do fine. I won't be leaving until we at least start walking. I'll pretend that I forgot about my kills and rush straight home. Then you can woo her and get into her breeches at long last." She snickered seeing his face become awash with a strong shade of red.

"That's not funny." Lars said indignantly, sounding much like a child once more. Mila only laughed harder at this.

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Enough time passed. The tavern was becoming empty, patrons staggering home in a drunken stupor. Only a couple patrons had stubbornly stayed awake. Some were passed out on the benches or in chairs, or had stumbled or crawled upstairs to their rooms. One such man had to be watched, due to almost falling over the railing by the room above. Thankfully, no casualties happened that night and Nelkir came about two hours past midnight, which was a bit earlier than usual, if Braith's surprise was anything to go by.

Nelkir being the youngest of Balgruuf's children had grown into quite the night owl. He went to the Bard's College in Solitude around the time that Braith had and he was fairly good at the craft himself, having composed several songs and tales that he used on whatever patrons had been awake or had come in at odd hours of the night. Ysolda valued him as her favorite bard out of the three she employed there. He kept his hair very long, now falling to his shoulder blades. His face was also clean shaven with a small amount of stubble peeking through his skin. He had also acquired a tattoo in his time away. Balgruuf hadn't approved of the design, resembling the visage of Sithis, the patron of the Dark Brotherhood. There were whispers throughout Whiterun that he ran with the assassin's guild that had circulated for quite some time, but no one was certain. He walked through the tavern, rubbing his hands together and putting them over the fire for warmth.

"Just a second, Braith. I just need to warm up my hands and then I'll be able to take over." Nelkir stated, flashing a small smile at the girl, who returned one and nodded, finishing her latest song. He couldn't have gotten that cold coming straight from Dragonsreach. Or maybe the night was just that cold. Lars found that odd considering Nelkir was a Nord.

Mila noticed him and tugged on Lars' sleeve to walk over with her. He begrudgingly obeyed, following her to the jarl's youngest and Braith.

"Nelkir. Fancy seeing you here so early." Mila grinned, batting her eyelashes. When Nelkir turned and saw her he smiled genuinely at her before rolling his eyes, recounting why he'd shown up so early in the night.

"Dagny was being insufferable." He stated. Since they were kids, Dagny had developed more of a snob personality, certainly taking to being spoiled rather nicely. He would never forget when Nelkir had told them that she had brazenly ordered the Dragonborn all those years ago to cook her meat properly. It seems as if she hadn't eased up on her high standards since.

"She threw the poor guy's letter in the fireplace and tossed the amulet out the window, can you believe it? All because it didn't have the right type of gemstone. Apparently one should know immediately what color rock she likes in her jewelry." Nelkir rolled his eyes as Braith finished playing, setting her instrument down at the far end of the room.

"Then poor Frothar got pelted with her dinner plate because one of the cooks accidentally overcooked part of her meal." He pulled his hair back into a ponytail, continuing his rant about his older sister. "She must be on the rag or something. At least that would offer a better explanation than simply being a bitch. I decided to leave early before I spoke out and it developed into a big argument like last time." He finished, striding across the room to pick up the drum and walked back to the fire pit.

"You guys have a good night. Thanks for listening." Nelkir rolled his shoulders before gently patting on the surface of the drum, creating a steady beat. He turned to Mila and smiled once more. "Till next time?" Mila blushed and returned his smile, nodding.

"Certainly." She and Lars waited for Braith as she informed Nelkir how patrons had been that night, walking towards the door. The Redguard woman looked between the two of them and told them she was ready to depart. Off the three of them went out into the crisp, chilled night. Summer in Skyrim was about to begin. Stubborn patches of snow clung to the ground in areas, while most of the ground was brown or sprouted green. Flowers peeked out from the ground, regardless of whether it had snow or not. A breeze blew past and Mila giggled.

"It's a beautiful night, isn't it?" She asked, turning to the other two and frowning childishly when both of them only offered a mumbled agreeance. "Neither of you are very lively tonight." She commented, walking slightly ahead when she stopped in her tracks and faced the two of them.

"Oh my gosh, guys I'm so sorry. I have to go. I completely forgot I had meat at home that I needed to tend to." She put her gloved hand to her mouth in what Lars knew to be mock surprise. "Sincerest apologies, but Lars can definitely handle bringing you home safely, right?" She looked to Lars. Braith looked too, making the young man purse his lips and he nodded tersely.

"Great. Once again, so sorry." Mila excused herself, jogging ahead, waving at the two of them. "I'll see you both later." She called out before disappearing to her house. Both Lars and Braith stood there awkwardly for a while before looking at each other. Braith gave an unsure smile that Lars returned, along with an uncomfortable chuckle.

"So...I guess I'm walking you home then?" He asked, waiting to see if she'd be fine with it. She nodded and he felt a rush of relief. "Good. Then, I guess we better get going?" They both began walking at a slow pace. Neither of them said another word until they were almost at her doorstep.

"It is a nice night out." Braith commented, agreeing with Mila's earlier comment.

"It is." He concurred, looking at her out of the corner of his eye. She kept her eyes ahead of her. When they were in front of her house, she turned to face him.

"Well, this is it right here. I have a key, so you can just leave me here." She said, fishing through a pocket in her dress and pulled out a rusted ring holding a single key. Lars frowned, staying there a moment. Braith blinked, looking between him, the door, her keys, her shoes, and then back at him all in a matter of seconds. He decided he better ask and get it out in the open.

"Braith." He began, drawing her attention. She looked surprised before letting out a soft curse under her breath and offered him an apologetic smile.

"I'm so sorry. I must've forgotten you had a request." She said. Oh yeah. He didn't correct her though, which made him give himself a mental kick in the ass. "What did you have in mind?" She asked, her face softening a bit, despite showing that same formal smile. He wanted to see her genuinely smile. That's when he had an idea.

"Actually, did you have any songs that you've written? I'd love to hear something that you wrote, rather than songs about war, and beheadings." He smiled sheepishly at her, not sure if it'd work but it was worth a shot. He had to start somewhere, after all. Braith's eyes widened in shock and she blushed the smallest amount of pink.

"Well, of course. I don't have any instruments, though." She admitted.

"That's fine. Your voice by itself will be more than enough." He was proud when her blush darkened.

"Well alright then." She squared her shoulders and raised her chin, once again the proud girl he grew up with. "Now, keep in mind I wrote this while I was still at the College. It's not the best work I've done, but it was the first one I ever wrote and I'm proud of it." She cleared her throat and began to sing. The lyrics themselves were alright. Something about a mammoth, who had begun a lifelong journey with his giant companion. Her voice rang out the song and he could tell she was proud of her work. He listened, leaning against the doorway of her home, watching her intently. She kept her eyes closed and he couldn't help the way his lips stretched as she finished. She opened her eyes and looked at him expectantly. Lars clapped and felt his chest tighten when she smiled.

She genuinely smiled, the expression reaching her eyes. Once again, a light dusting of pink graced her cheeks as she bowed in response.

"You're too kind." She fiddled with the key yet again.

"How long into your studies did you write that?" He asked, curiosity getting the better of him.

"It was one of our first assignments. I think it was the fourth thing I wrote altogether. Our assignment was to write about companionship. I was the only one who chose to write about a mammoth and his best friend. Quite a few of the students chose to write about the Companions here in Whiterun, others chose to write about their own friends and family." She tucked an errant strand of hair behind her ear.

"But the mammoth and giant inspiration came to me when in Solitude I saw a merchant selling tusks and they had the telltale engravings on them. I decided to write about that right then and there."

"Impressive." Lars complimented, pushing himself off of the wall, standing straight up again.

"Oh it's nothing. Like I said, it's not even my best work. I have a few others." She brushed it off, but her countenance was still proud. Lars' face shifted and his smile faded, thinking back to his earlier train of thought and once again began to ask what had been weighing on his mind for quite some time now.

"Braith?" She hummed in response. "Why did you stop talking to me all those years ago?" Her demeanor changed and she went to pursing her lips and looking off in another direction.

"I should get inside." She hedged. Lars frowned, leaning down slightly so he could look her in the eye. She met his gaze and his face softened.

"Please? I just want to know why. It's been...bothering me. For quite some time now, actually." He admitted, not sure how well this would turn out. She shifted on her feet, her face unreadable.

"I thought you wanted nothing to do with me." Braith admitted herself, looking up at him a bit coldly. Lars shook his head.

"That's not true, Braith. I just wanted you to stop threatening me. I was a kid. I was scared. I didn't want to get hit, but I didn't want you to think I wanted nothing to do with you." He explained, hoping she would understand. She frowned, shaking her head.

"Then why did the Dragonborn herself tell me that you wanted me to leave you alone? I told her that-" She cut herself off, closing her eyes for a brief respite before sighing and reopening them. "I suppose it doesn't matter now, but fact remains that you sent her to tell me that you wanted me to stop bothering you. So I did." Her eyes were alight with flame that he hadn't seen in years.

"I didn't-"

"I was really hurt, you know." She interrupted. She crossed her arms in front of her chest. "I was scared too." She looked off to the side, cringing. "I thought you hated me." She all but whispered, refusing to meet his gaze. Lars shook his head before strengthening his resolve and argued his case.

"I never hated you. If anything, I thought you hated me because of that." He sighed, happy when she turned to look back at him, still frowning, but not as harshly. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you. I didn't even think that it would. I just wanted you to stop the threats. The Dragonborn, as noble as she is, must've misunderstood me. And I actually really hope we can move past that now." He began hopefully, rueful of the heat rising to his face as he began his next statement.

"In fact, I would actually really like to be able to talk to you more often. To get to know you better." Oh gods. He hoped to mighty Talos that she would accept his apology. A silence rung in the air before she shrugged and looked back up at him warily.

"Fine, Battle-Born." She stated, harkening back to a simpler time. He was worried until she smiled yet again, playfully slugging him in the arm. The impact was barely anything, but the gesture itself made him smile in return. "But you better hope you don't screw this up." She joked. Both of them laughed.

"Alright, Braith." He chuckled, keeping his eye contact with her. She looked between him, then the door to her house, then shifted to look over her shoulder, towards the gate to Whiterun. When she turned to look back at him, she grinned.

"You know..." She began, her features suddenly sly. Was this the same girl that wasn't hardly looking at him earlier that night? "I'm used to staying up for a while yet. I could use a break from being here for a while." She stated.

"Uhm..." Lars was unsure how to respond to that.

"Just let me go inside and get a few things. My dad has a horse in the stables outside the city. Do you have one?" She asked. Lars reflected for a moment, remembering his older brother had one.

"Jon has one."

"Good. I'm sure he wouldn't mind you borrowing it, would he?" She asked. Her tone, mischievous conflicted with her expression, which indicated curiosity patience for him to respond.

"As long as I tell him I'm using her, I'm sure he wouldn't mind, no." He agreed. Braith grinned.

"Excellent. Go and leave him a note or something and meet me outside the city gates." Braith instructed, unlocking her door and ushering herself inside before shutting it behind her. Lars stood there a bit dumbfounded for a moment before walking home to do as she instructed.

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Lars exited the gates, running into Braith, who was already waiting for him. She smirked at him, arms crossed.

"Took you long enough." She commented. He noticed she grabbed a cloak and draped it over her shoulders and had a blanket, rolled neatly and sitting on the ground by her feet.

"Sorry. I live further away from the gates than you do." He defended himself, rubbing his neck with his hand. She shrugged, picked up the blanket and nodded her head in the direction of the stables before turning to walk in said direction.

"Come on." She walked past the drawbridge, crossing completely before Lars followed. They reached the stables, Braith procuring her father's palomino stallion, as Lars already seated himself in his brother's piebald mare's saddle. She joined him shortly after, immediately kicking the horse's sides, urging it into a canter. Lars followed suit, the mare keeping up with the stallion.

"Where are we going?" He called out to her. She faced him with a grin.

"Just follow my lead." She avoided the question, kicking the horse's sides again, the creature snorting and speeding up into a full gallop. Lars did the same, following behind the Redguard woman.

She looked like a wild goddess. Her hair whipped out behind her haphazardly. Her cape billowed out in the breeze carried out by the horse's pace. She turned her face skyward and threw her arms out to either side of her and let out a loud whoop of excitement followed by laughter. She regained her composure soon after, the pair riding past Honingbrew Meadery and Pelagia Farm, continuing down the path.

Braith slowed her horse when they came outside the hamlet of Riverwood. The pair eased their animals into a trot crossing the cobblestone bridge, the clopping of their hooves a sound that Lars enjoyed. For some reason the sound was pleasing to his own ears. The night was still here. Braith pulled on the reins, her horse stopping so she could dismount. Lars did the same, patting the neck of the mare, whispering praise to her before dismounting and joining Braith. She walked past Lars and embarked towards a small island near the mill.

There was a stump, an old, gnarled tree, with branches outstretching above and wilting below in various areas, and patches of flowers. A few tenacious fireflies withstood the cold air and lit the air in little orbs as they floated around, doing their mating dance. A luna moth was perched on the old stump, contentedly and lazily opening and closing it's luminescent wings. Braith carried the blanket in her arms and unfolded it by the stump and sat down, patting the area next to her for Lars to join. He did so gladly, plopping down gracelessly next to her on the blanket. The soft lilac surface felt comforting under his fingertips as he absentmindedly ran his hand across it, not knowing what to say. Braith pulled her knees into her chest, staring ahead at a pair of blue mountain flowers that were blooming.

"I had a thing for you when we were kids, you know." She stated out of the blue. Lars whipped his head in her direction, unsure if he was hearing things correctly.

"Wait. What?" He asked, hoping she'd repeat herself.

"That's why I picked on you." She shifted, lowering her chin to rest on her knees. "I told the Dragonborn that. I told her that if you had just kissed me, I would've stopped bullying you." She explained before chuckling a bit uneasily.

"I suppose that's silly though huh. How were you supposed to know that's what I wanted you to do? Especially when I was so aggressive? I thought that Nords liked that sort of thing though so I thought..." She trailed off, never finishing her sentence. She still stared ahead not looking at him, who just stared at her, dumbfounded once more.

"It's not too silly. We were kids. We didn't know any better." Lars tried to reassure her, not exactly sure how to go about it, but hoping this was a good start. He was never good with this kind of thing. A pat on the shoulder he could do. Verbal encouragement? Not so much.

Braith looked at him and smiled, not showing her teeth. She leaned over, her head resting on his shoulder. Lars tensed before relaxing, raising an arm awkwardly and trying to decide where to put it. Her head? No, that's stupid. Unless he played with her hair? Would she like that? He didn't know. What about her shoulder? Her waist? Admittedly, he'd never been anywhere remotely near a situation like this with a woman before. He always got too nervous or they never showed interest. Plus his infatuation with Braith that flared up in the last couple years had definitely hindered his endeavors. In his current state, he slightly panicked and rested his hand at the nape of her neck, earning an amused snort from the Redguard. He blushed. He began to lightly caress her skin with his fingertips, the pads of his fingers smoothing over her neck and hair that settled there. She let out a pleased sigh and he felt reassured. Relaxing, he shifted, making himself more comfortable as he continued his ministrations.

"You know-" He began, continuing his motions. "I always thought you were really pretty." He admitted.

"Really? I didn't know that." Braith couldn't help the smile that overcame her lips as she heard that.

"It's true." Lars continued. His hand moved up to her head to play with her hair properly. This gleaned another pleased sigh, along with a soft moan from the young woman when he threaded his fingers within and began combing it through her long locks.

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Hours passed, with both of them talking about idle subjects. The Bards College was brought up, and the smithery that he worked at, Warmaiden's was talked about. They each caught up with each other, filling each other in on what happened in the ten years they had been distant from one another. They played twenty questions with the other while playing a game of thumb war with each other at one point in time. Braith had sung him another song that she had written. This one was much more beautiful. The story recounted a Redguard warrior who had crossed Stros M'Kai to be with his beloved on the battlefield. All the while they stayed by that stump, keeping each other warm on the blanket. It was getting much later now, with it being close to sunrise.

The physiognomy of the world around them was the epitome of peace. Braith had nodded off while Lars stayed awake. The sky began to lighten, heralding to the world that the sun was about to ascend from the horizon to encircle Nirn with it's brilliant warmth. There was hardly a cloud in sight, the moons nearly at the end of their nightly cycle, dipping lower in the sky. The fireflies from earlier had long before gone away to their homes to sleep or to do their mating, and the luna moth had fluttered off moments ago. Lars shook Braith lightly, trying to gently ease her from her slumber. They had both better be heading back to Whiterun.

Braith hummed in a slight daze, sleep still curling around her senses. Her eyes were droopy as she sat up straight and turned to look back at Lars, rubbing an eye with the heel of her hand.

"How long was I asleep?" She asked.

"Barely an hour, I'd say." Lars answered, shooting an apologetic smile in her direction. Braith nodded and tried to stand up but ended up losing her balance and falling over. Lars cringed and crawled over to her in an easy couple of strides. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine." She groaned, sitting up, rubbing her shoulder. She took one look at the horizon and blinked. "I suppose we should be going?" She asked, looking at the young man who nodded. He didn't want to go. He didn't want to leave, but they both had to. He stood up and offered a hand to help her up. She took the proffered hand and helped herself up from the ground. Once she was standing, she took hold of his shirt and yanked, bringing him down to her level. She kissed him, his eyes flying wide open in shock.

She took control, winding her arms around his neck, both of them resting there comfortably. Guessing completely, Lars responded in kind, closing his eyes while one hand rested at her waist while the other cupped her cheek. Their lips worked against each others', a little clumsily but it was still nice.

Braith was the first to break the kiss. She pressed her forehead against his and sighed.

"I waited over ten years for that." She teased, smirking up at him. He smiled, letting out a breathy laugh in response.

"You're more patient than I thought you were." He teased back. She laughed in response, her arms tugging him closer, still at their position around his neck. He was the first one to act this time, kissing her once more, his fingers threading through her hair at the base of her neck. She let out another small moan and relaxed into the kiss.

They broke apart and hand in hand began walking back towards the horses. Lars, although knowing she was perfectly capable, helped her cross the small body of water separating the small island from the road. He went back to retrieve the blanket and bunched it up sloppily before giving it back to Braith. The pair mounted their horses and began the trek back home.