Bright and early the next morning, Katja awoke with bliss still simmering gently within her. She was wrapped in Anders’ arms and content with life. She would save the world from the vampire threat, claim both the men she loved so dearly, and they’d all live happily ever after. Below this layer of elation, a less-optimistic particle of her mind whispered that the world had ways of smothering the best-laid plans; and even when you got what you wanted, there was no guarantee of happiness. She told it to shut up and let her enjoy the moment. If things didn’t always work out, happiness could still be found if you knew how to look for it.
Extricating herself from Anders’ embrace and sitting up, she bent to kiss him on the side of his face. “Time to be moving, love!” she chirped at him; and for once he didn’t groan or get a firmer grip on the covers. His eyes opened and he melted her with that warm, loving gaze before he, too, sat up and stretched. They helped each other into armor, gathered their packs, and swung by Serana’s bed on their way to the stairs. They found her Elf lying in the bed looking a bit the worse for wear but with an expression of satisfied exhaustion on his face, snoring lightly. Serana was up and getting into her own armor, looking more relaxed than she had since they’d met her.
In the dim light of the sleeping loft, her eyes seemed to be glowing more than usual. “Did you sleep well?” Katja asked her prosaically, with only a trace of an undercurrent.
“Wonderfully,” Serana replied with a slight smile.
“We’re going to get some breakfast, then pay a visit in Whiterun before we go out to the Ancestor Grove,” Katja informed her.
“I’d just like some tea,” the vampire woman said with a shrug.
Downstairs, they found Wyll occupying the same table they’d had dinner at the night before. He looked freshly bathed and seemed almost to be glowing, and gave Katja a huge smile as she and her small party appeared. “The sweet rolls are still warm!” he exclaimed. “Dig in!” Wonderful! As often as not, it seemed, Katja found herself eating whatever was around for breakfast – usually cold, stale, or generally unappetizing. Yet here were sweet rolls still steaming slightly, giving off a delightful aroma, and plenty of delicious hot tea to wash them down with. There were fresh apples, as well.
As they seated themselves at Wyll’s table the two mortals dug in, Serana sipping hot tea. Wyll caught Katja’s eye with a questioning look, which he then directed at Anders. Washing down a mouthful of sweet roll, she broke into a broad grin. Then she grabbed one of their hands in each of hers and said to both of them, “Congratulations, we’re engaged!” Both Wyll and Anders smiled at this. Then Anders reached across Kat to shake Wyll’s hand. “Brother,” he said briefly, and Wyll echoed him. They smiled into each other’s eyes.
Meanwhile Serana, drinking her tea, looked at the trio and wondered what had just happened. Was Katja announcing her engagement to Anders, or to Wyll? Or to both of them? She felt sure that if she waited awhile, all would be revealed. If still no better understood. Among her people, marriage was uncommon and usually for money or social position. When you were going to live forever, barring violence, a marriage made for love was not likely to stand the test of time.
When their breakfast was concluded, Katja got up and went to the bar, her two companions trailing behind. She got Lane to give her some supplies for their journey, and picked up her share of the Suite profits – several thousand septims. Then she hugged Wyll as closely as she could manage while armored, and gave him a lingering kiss. “We’ll be back for a visit before too long,” she promised him. Now that the issue of their relationship had been agreed on, there was no reason she and Anders (and apparently Serana, for the duration of the quest) couldn’t pop back to the Suite whenever they had a little time. No more going too many days without a bath!
The morning was partly sunny, and Serana immediately complained about how bright it was. Katja had been planning to enjoy the morning sunshine and get a little exercise walking into town, but changed her mind and fast-traveled them there instead. Then they walked the few short paces from the gates of Whiterun to the door of Breezehome, and knocked.
It was still pretty early, and no businesses were open as yet. There was no answer to her first knock, and Katja wondered where the occupants could be. They couldn’t be out shopping… She knocked again, then heard footsteps coming down the steps inside and the door was shortly pulled open by Lydia. She was wearing a robe and slippers, her hair disheveled and her eyes looking still soft-focused from sleep. Her face lit up when she saw who it was, and motioned them inside.
A deep, rumbling voice came from upstairs. “Who is it, Liddy?”
“It’s Katja and Anders,” Lydia called back up.
“I’ll be right down” came the voice of Argis, and he soon appeared, tightening a belt over a tunic and wearing trousers – no armor. He also looked a bit mussed as he descended the stairs, having clearly just gotten out of bed… but which bed? Katja thought she knew, and her eyes were shining with delight.
Katja made introductions, and the two housecarls greeted Serana without showing any sign that they recognized what she was. Argis touched Lydia’s arm gently and said, “I’ll put the kettle on.”
She nodded in thanks, and called up the stairs again, “Anja! Auntie Kat is here!”
“Coming!” the little voice piped up. Shortly the door to the small second bedroom opened and Anja, wearing a flowered nightgown, came down to greet them. That answered that question.
After hugs and kisses had been exchanged, Katja produced a bag of warm sweet rolls she’d brought from the Suite. Argis made tea, and the three who were soon to be traveling drank some of that but left the food to the three Breezehome residents. Anja was especially delighted – like most little ones, she loved anything sweet.
As she sat stuffing a warm roll in her mouth with happy smacking noises, Katja talked quietly with Lydia and Argis. “How have things been around here while I was gone?” she asked.
“It’s been pretty quiet. No more vampire attacks, no rumors of Stormcloaks either,” Lydia replied. Though the truce Katja had arranged had been supposed to be a temporary affair, it had not ended with the defeat of Alduin. Admittedly the “dragon menace” remained to some extent, as not all of them had been eradicated. She was tempted to slack off on dragon-killing, in hopes that if the truce went on long enough everybody would get tired and go home. Hah.
“And Wyll’s been a huge help,” Lydia added. “He’s been coming by every day to bring us supplies and play with Anja. I think that man’s going to make a great daddy someday.”
Katja beamed at her. “I have some good news, but I’m not sure how to explain it. Anders and I are getting married. And I’m marrying Wyll too!” Lydia was a bit taken aback. Like most people of her class, she was pretty conservative in her views and she had never heard of such a thing in Skyrim. People in exotic foreign parts might marry more than one spouse, usually a man with multiple wives – or so she had heard. But not around here!
“Um… congratulations,” she said politely. Argis had been taking this in with a certain amount of interest. He had initially assumed that Wyll and Kat were a couple, and now learning that she was planning to marry both him and Anders made him mentally shake his head. He was sure her plans would only lead to trouble, but he had something else on his mind. “My Thane, uh, Katja… There’s something I would like to ask you before you go. Now that Lydia and I are living here together with Anja we’ve… uh, decided that we would like to… uh, if we can have your permission…”
Lydia gave Argis a fond glance, and cut to the chase. “What my dear Bulwark is trying to say, Katja, is that he and I would like to be married. To each other,” she clarified, just to be on the safe side. Katja gave her a brilliant smile, pleased as could be that her plan had worked out just as she’d hoped.
“That’s wonderful! I’m so happy for you!” She thought a moment and added, “Could the wedding wait until after we’ve finished with the vampire problem? I’d like to stand you to a proper wedding at the Temple of Mara in Riften, but we’re going to be too busy to do that for a while.”
Lydia returned her smile. It was the most joyful expression Katja had seen on her face to date, though certainly her smiles had been more frequent since Anja came along. “Thank you! That would be wonderful. We shouldn’t have any trouble waiting, though I half wish we could come along and fight with you.”
“You’re fighting here,” Katja told them. “Keeping Anja safe is my top priority.”
There were more hugs and kisses before they left, and Anja (her face now sticky) remarked to Serana, “You have pretty eyes. I like how they glow.”
“Thank you,” the vampire woman replied gravely, and gave the little gamin a kiss on the cheek before turning to leave. The three of them fast-traveled from the street outside Breezehome, and soon found themselves standing near Peak’s Shade Tower. This was as close as they could get to the marker for the Ancestor Grove, which had appeared on the map after their discussion with Dexion.