"Agmaer" Arthius said. Agmaer was now much more different than before. He had a few battle scars on his face, and was much more muscular. Arthius thought back to the whelp of a lad he used to be as Agmaer leaned over him.
"This might hurt" he said as he ripped the bolt out, getting a large scream of agony from Arthius.
They soon arrived at a small campsite in the snowy woods not too far from the coast. Agmaer and Serana had to wrap Arthius' arms around their shoulders to get there. Arthius had attempted to summon shadowmere multiple times but the steed did not show. He also lacked the strength to summon Arvak, so it took them about an hour to get to the camp. Once they arrived, Agmaer started a small fire as Serana placed Arthius in one of the tents to rest. After making sure he was comfortable, Serana joined Agmaer by the fireplace. They sat in silence for a few moments until Serana spoke up.
"How do you know Arthius?" She asked. Agmaer looked up slightly, never making eye contact with her.
"We met when we were joining the Dawnguard. Vampire hunters "he said. Serana eyed him cautiously before continuing.
"You are aware that he is a vampire correct?"
"Yes, I know"
"So then why help us?" Serana questioned. Agmaer looked at her for a moment, then he turned and looked towards Arthius' tent.
"I discovered that Arthius was the dragonborn. The hero of skyrim. I knew he wasn't dead, not a possibility that such a warrior could be defeated by some vampires in a cave. When he never returned…" Agmaer stopped speaking. He looked up at Serana with a serious expression.
"I'd like to wait until Arthius is here to continue if that is all right" he said. Serana gave him a questioning look but simply nodded. They stayed in silence until Agmaer rose and picked up his crossbow. Serana watched him carefully.
"I'm going to hunt before it gets too dark. I will return shortly" he simply said as he walked into the woods. Serana waited for a few more minutes before sighing loudly and rubbing her forehead. She then walked into Arthius' tent to see that he was awake. She knelt in front of him before speaking.
"How is the pain?" she asked. Arthius looked over to her for a moment before replying.
"Painful" he said with a small smirk. Serana smiled at him, seeing him as he recovered gave her peace.
"Are you strong enough to summon Arvak?" she asked. Arthius looked at her questionably.
"Why would I summon him?"
"The hunter is gone. We can probably get pretty far before he returns" Serana said as she began to grab potions from Arthius' pouch.
"We're not leaving Serana" Arthius spoke. Serana paused before looking at Arthius with a surprised look on her face.
"Arthius, we don't have the time. He may return any moment we have to-"
"Why are you in such a rush to leave? Agmaer is a companion, he won't harm us"
"He is a vampire hunter" Serana said sternly. She couldn't believe what she was hearing.
"So am I, and you went with me when I rescued you from that tomb" Arthius said as he propped himself up.
"You recued me, I owed you that much" Serana spoke annoyed.
"And he rescued us" Arthius barely got the words out before Serana shouted back.
"He spared us! He would have killed us both if you were wearing that masque!" Serana was furious. She never allows herself to be this angry, but to believe that Arthius wanted to stay with someone who wanted to kill his kind was maddening. Arthius became frustrated at what Serana had been saying. He knew Agmaer wasn't a threat, but Serana wasn't letting up.
"You don't know that" Arthius spoke with a scowl.
"He is literally a vampire hunter. He is assigned to kill vampires. How in the divines are you going to tell me that he would have spared us if he didn't know who you were?"
"But he does know who I am! What you're saying is completely irrelevant to what is happening. Try and think before making such idiotic decisions! If you did that more often, maybe you wouldn't have gotten yourself raped by a daedric prince!" Arthius shouted. Something in Serana finally snapped, her eyes burned with hate as she glared at Arthius. She then stood up and kicked him as hard as she could in his side. Arthius felt his bruised rib as it snapped at the impact. Arthius immediately regretted what he had said as soon as he uttered the words, but Serana was now making sure of it. She kicked him hard in the side once more before leaning over him.
"ALL I'VE BEEN DOING IS TRYING TO PROTECT YOU! AND ALL YOU'VE DONE IS HURT ME!" Serana shouted as she continued to kick Arthius on the side. Arthius felt his insides burning as he felt every kick. He soon couldn't control the rage that was building in him. He felt everything at once. The vampire lord, Alduin, his parent's own deaths. Everything that has enraged him suddenly exploded in his mind. He suddenly reached out and grabbed Serana's leg. He tightened his grip before twisting his hand, breaking Serana's ankle. She shouted in pain as she collapsed. Arthius turned and got to one knee before he was kicked in the face. Arthius collapsed as Serana pounced on top of him. She then started to punch his face while screaming down at him. Arthius reached up and grabbed Serana's hair before pulling her head down and smashing his forehead into her face. Serana shot upwards as blood spewed from her nose. Arthius then kneed her roughly in the side. Serana winced in pain as she grabbed Arthius by the face and slammed his head down. Arthius then opened his mouth and sunk his fangs in Serana's hand. She screamed in pain as she brought out her dagger. She raised it and stabbed down hard, aiming for Arthius' eyes. As soon as it was about to make contact, Serana stopped. She looked down at Arthius and then at her dagger. She stabbed the dagger into the ground beside Arthius' head before dropping her head down. Arthius still enraged violently pushed Serana off of him. She simply collapsed at his left making no attempt to catch herself. Arthius looked at her, face down and not moving. Her hair was now a mess as it covered her face, which was now covered in her blood. She basically looked dead as she lay there. Arthius looked straight up before screaming like a madman at the top of his lungs. As he did this, Serana slowly moved to the corner of the tent, turning away from Arthius. Arthius suddenly sat up and coughed up a mouthful of blood before collapsing back to the ground. He heard Serana begin to sob, and he couldn't blame her. He truly thought all of this was behind them. That all the fighting was done with, and that they could just get through all this and enjoy life. Arthius never thought of what he wanted to do once Harkon was defeated. He never thought of what would become of Serana. He wondered if that made it so he wasn't doing this for himself, or if it meant he didn't truly care about her. He had already broken his promise to Valerica. He'd done it before he even met her. Serana was right, all he did was hurt her. Every chance he got, he would find a way to hurt her. Did he truly hate her as a vampire hunter would? If so, why did she make him happier than anyone in existence? What did it mean to have these feelings towards someone? Then, it hit him, his eyes shot open as he realized it himself. It was then that he noticed his injuries, his nose was broken and his left eye was swollen. He was bleeding from his mouth and the back of his head was bleeding. His side was unbearable and he knew that he had more than one broken rib. But none of that mattered to him, he had hurt Serana and he knew she was hurt badly. She was still sobbing as he looked to her. She was on her side, curled up and looking away from Arthius. He knew she couldn't control it, and Arthius was the reason why. He reached out with his left arm, and began to slowly drag himself towards her. She was about ten feet away and every inch felt like someone was pounding him with a sack of stones. He soon reached her side where he stayed silent. Serana soon noticed him and kicked him again, but Arthius took it. He slowly inched closer, accepting all the blows she sent at him. She stayed facing away, and seemed very defensive. Arthius began to wrap his arm around her. She quickly pushed him away.
"No" Serana spoke plainly. Arthius ignored her as he tried again.
"Arthius stop!" she tried to sound angry but Arthius could hear her voice crack. He pursued before she once again yelled at him.
"Arthius!" She scolded. She saw Arthius pull his hand back slightly. She sighed as she put her hand on her forehead.
"Look, I understand. Just- I'm just tired of this. The fighting, the drama, I just wish it were simpler sometimes" she said sadly. Arthius didn't know what to say, he thought he could fix everything. But now, it seemed as though they were lost. After a few minutes, Serana spoke up.
"I need to ask you something"
"Why did you stay? I'm sure there were times you wish you hadn't found me in that tomb. That it would be someone else's problem. So why did you stay?" Serana asked. Arthius paused at this. He had asked her the same question to have little to no results. He pondered his answer for several minutes before replying.
She paused there, her back still turned as she let the words sink in. She slowly turned towards Arthius. Arthius looked at her, her nose was bleeding heavily and her eyes were red from the tears. Tears were pouring from her eyes as she looked at Arthius with a questionable glance as her lip quivered.
"What?" it came out as a whisper as her hand shakily reached Arthius' face.
"I said, because I love you" Arthius said. Serana stared at Arthius. Unsure if what she had really heard what she thought she had heard. She played it over again in her head before realizing what he said.
"You…" was all she could muster. Arthius smiled at her, nodding slowly. At this, Serana sighed heavily as she looked at the ceiling.
"There was a time... I just don't know what to say Arthius. After all of this- I don't know" Serana said sadly. Arthius stared at Serana before speaking.
"Do you love me?" he asked. Serana looked at him, she searched his eyes before looking downwards.
"I- I don't know anymore. Whatever this blood bond is-"
"Forget about the blood bond. Just-"Arthius sighed before speaking.
"Just tell me what you think"
"I don't know" Serana repeated.
"Take a wild guess" Arthius smiled. Serana looked at him as she sobbed slightly. She smiled at him, nodding slowly. Arthius then wrapped his arm around her and pulled her into him. She buried her face into his chest as she continued to sob. Arthius couldn't stop the tears from falling, smiling as he held her there. They stayed there in silence. Arthius soon realized how damaged both of them were when he saw Serana's bloody hand. He soon began to separate himself from her, much to her dismay. He held her in front of him as they sat up. She looked up at him, tears still covering her face. Arthius smiled as he wiped them away. Serana began to lean into him again as he spoke.
"We should-"Arthius began.
"I'm so sorry Arthius. I don't- I mean I knew but I didn't-"Serana began before Arthius put her head to his chest, muffling her.
"All I've done is hurt you Serana, and I can't promise that I won't do it again. But I'll be sure to hurt anyone who does" Arthius spoke. Serana looked up at him as he bit into his hand, making blood leak out. Serana put her hand on the back of his head as she pulled him into their most intimate kiss yet. Serana savored it as she tasted his blood as he tasted hers. She then put her hand on his chest as she laid him down on his back. Arthius placed her on top of him as he ran his hands up and down her body. Arthius winced in pain as she sat atop of his waist. Serana noticed this and gave him a smirk, adjusting herself once more making him grunt at the pain. She laughed as Arthius gave her a playful growl as he pulled her into him again. She held his head as she kissed him, feeling the love from him. And showing as much love as she could muster. Serana broke from the kiss and smiled down at him, as he ran his hand through her hair, releasing the buns and letting it fall below her shoulders. Arthius sat up and kissed her hair, nuzzling it. Serana smiled as she held him there, feeling the bruises and feeling the blood at the back of his head.
"You know that we're psychopaths, correct?" Serana asked plainly as she kissed his forehead. Arthius chuckled.
"Oh of course" Arthius said. He then flipped Serana onto her back and wrapped her legs around him.
"But if we weren't, what if things really were simpler. What are we?" Arthius asked.
"Dull" Serana smiled before pulling him into her again.
They soon broke the kiss as Serana grabbed Arthius' pouch and took out the few potions that her mother had given them. She forced Arthius to drink the blood potions, even though he refused at first. She had to pin him down and pour the bottle down his throat like a child. Arthius almost vomited as a result, but was able to keep it down. After finishing the blood potions and all of the healing potions, they laid together in the tent as they awaited Agmaer's return.
"Oh, by the way" Serana spoke up. Arthius looked down at her with a questioning glance.
"I love you too" she said plainly. Arthius re adjusted himself as Serana rested her head on his shoulder.
"I know" Arthius replied, rolling his eyes. Serana looked at him before playfully slapping his face. Arthius laughed as he kissed the side of her head. Arthius thought for a moment before speaking.
"Serana, have you noticed that whenever we fight…we become closer?"
"Psychopaths" Serana said plainly, making Arthius laugh.
"You bit me" Serana said. Arthius looked down at her hand, seeing the puncture marks.
"Then we're even" Arthius replied. Serana smiled up at him as she spoke.
"You enjoyed it"
"You seemed to enjoy it more" Arthius replied, making Serana laugh.
After another hour or so, Agmaer returned, carrying two dead rabbits. Arthius and Serana were huddled by the fire, Serana choosing to drop her previous request. They sat in silence as Agmaer began to skin them and begin to roast them over the fire. After he finished cooking them, Agmaer took his meal and sat beside the two. Arthius looked over to him for a moment before speaking up.
"Agmaer, Serana told me that you had something to talk to me about" Agmaer looked at Arthius before clearing his throat. Trying to find the right words to say. Agmaer shifted uncomfortably in his seat before speaking.
"When you never returned to fort Dawnguard, Isran assumed the worst and sent out a small group to investigate. We searched Dimhollow only to find it empty of life, but we returned to find that fort Dawnguard had been attacked in our absence. Isran managed to stay alive along with a few others, but the fort was now more wreckage than ever. The few of us remaining either dropped their flags and surrendered home, or were killed by vampires" Arthius and Serana froze at what they had heard. Agmaer waited a few moments before continuing.
"That leaves about four of us left. Isran refuses to give up fort Dawnguard even though it holds little to no protection whatsoever. We received tips that vampires were spotted along the coast of solitude so we decided to investigate. On our way, we spotted you two in the water rowing towards the castle. We've been waiting ever since, apparently with different intentions" Arthius and Serana stared at Agmaer for a short time. Arthius stood up, and walked over to a tree to think it over. Serana pondered their options before realizing what she should do.
"Come with us" Serana said boldly. Arthius and Agmaer shot up and looked at her.
"We need help. We obviously can't do this with just us and the companions. So I figure…who better to hunt vampires then…well you know" she spoke. Arthius was dumbfounded at Serana's suggestion considering their previous argument. Agmaer searched her face to see if she was serious, before nodding.
"I cannot travel with you now, I must report back to Isran. But tell me where you'd like us all to meet and I'll do my best" Agmaer said.
"Whiterun" Arthius replied, crossing his arms. Agmaer nodded before beginning to pack for the journey back to Riften. As Arthius and Serana began preparing for their trip back to Whiterun.
Their journey was blissful to say the least, as Arthius and Serana stayed with each other. No fighting, no arguments, nothing except a dragon who Arthius disposed of rather quickly. As they arrived in the Whiterun stables, Arthius paid the carriage driver and they proceeded towards the gate. Arthius tugged on Serana's shoulder, making her turn to him.
"What is it?" she asked.
"As soon as we enter the city, walk straight to my house. Don't rush, don't look at anyone, and don't say anything. Just walk to the door and enter" Arthius said with a serious tone. Serana made a concerned expression but nodded.
As soon as they entered, Serana did precisely what Arthius had asked of her. He closed the doors behind them as they entered the house. Serana turned to Arthius with a questioning glance.
"Why did we just do that?" she asked.
"I'd like to wait until nightfall to meet with the companions. And I didn't want anyone telling them I was here"
"Why nightfall?" Serana asked. Arthius paused slightly before replying.
"Just a feeling" he replied. Serana thought it over before simply shrugging. She didn't know of his meanings but she didn't care enough to argue. After all, they don't need to go through that again. Serana sat by the small fire place meant for cooking while Arthius searched through a barrel. He pulled out a few bottles of black briar mead and handed one to Serana and took the seat across from her. She gave him a look to where he just simply replied.
"Something to pass the time" he said as he opened his bottle and took a sip.
"By the way, can vampires get drunk?" he asked. Serana looked at him before inspecting the amount of bottles he had brought.
"Not easily" she replied. Arthius raised an eyebrow before putting down his bottle.
"What about skooma?" Arthius asked.
"Have fun with that" Serana smirked.
"So…what would you do to pass the time?" Arthius asked. "I've got a few ideas" he thought to himself. He smiled slightly at the thought and Serana noticed this.
"Well…I enjoy reading, or practicing my alchemy. But…" she spoke as she rose from her chair. She slowly made her way to Arthius, never breaking eye contact. She smiled as she sat on his lap and put her hands around his head.
"I'm sure we can find other ways of entertainment."
"Well, I have been wanting to learn a bit more about alchemy. And I haven't gotten around to reading The Real-"Arthius was cut off as Serana pressed her lips to his. Arthius rested his head back as Serana leaned in closer. She re-adjusted herself so she was kneeling on the chair, moving closer to him as he leaned back. The kiss broke as they realized the chair was toppling over, sending Serana over Arthius as he landed on his back. They laid there in silence until Serana broke out into a fit of laughter.
Night soon fell upon Whiterun, meaning that it was time to meet with the companions. As Serana prepared to leave, Arthius prepared for bed.
"Arthius, what are you doing?" she asked. Arthius hesitated before replying.
"Just…readying myself for the night" he said. Serana raised an eyebrow at him before continuing.
"Don't we have to meet with the companions?" she asked. Arthius winced as she mentioned this, and Serana noticed it.
"Oh, of course. We should go then" Arthius said as he began to equip his armor. Serana was a bit puzzled at this. "What is he not telling me?" she thought. Once Arthius finished equipping himself, he opened the door for Serana before exiting the house.
As they slowly walked to jorrvaskr, Arthius wrapped his arm around Serana's midsection, pulling her closer to him. Serana smiled at this, but she knew he was concerned about something. As they climbed the steps, she began to put it together. Arthius walked around jorrvaskr to the underforge, where the circle would usually be before retreating for the evening.
As Arthius opened the passage way, Serana saw the brothers inside. Farkas looked up, smiling as he saw who approached them. Vilkas smiled as well, but his smile faded as soon as it came. Farkas took a few steps forward before he slowed and came to a complete stop. Vilkas' expression turned to a disappointed one as Farkas' turned to one of utter shock. Arthius slowly approached them, hands up as if to say "calm down". Farkas turned towards Serana and instantly became furious. Farkas began to pace towards her until Arthius blocked his path.
"You bitch! I told you what would happen!" Farkas said as he began to reach for his great sword.
"Farkas, please. Listen to me brother-"
"Unhand me vampire!" Farkas yelled at Arthius. Serana saw the pain in Arthius' eyes, making her drop her head in shame. She knew that it was Arthius' choice, but she was still the cause of it.
"Brother, stop this" Vilkas said. Arthius looked towards Vilkas a moment and Farkas broke from him as he did. Arthius reached for Farkas but he was out of reach.
"Farkas!" Arthius shouted.
Serana quickly looked up to be punched hard in the face by an enraged Farkas, knocking her to the ground. Arthius immediately grew livid as he charged towards him. Farkas turned to be tackled to the ground by Arthius. Farkas struggled but Arthius held him down as he began to punch Farkas' face as hard as his vampiric strength would allow him. The companions had always known of Arthius' dangerous rage, but now his best friend, the man he calls brother, was about to feel the blunt of it.