Book Two, Chapter Thirty-Two: Never a Breath You Can Afford to Waste

Disclaimer One: This chapter is rated R.

Disclaimer Two: I’m sorry.

Many thanks to Pyrelle who did the first draft of the smutty parts so I could work through my writer’s block

“So, Onmund said something interesting today,” Lydia said as she unpacked her satchel, placing the food she procured from the market on the table.

“Really?” Elspeth looked up from her tea and the pile of letters she was reading. They had only just arrived home the evening prior, and even Elspeth hadn’t seen Onmund yet. She was planning a visit to Silent Moons camp, just a soon as she finished reviewing her correspondence.  

“He was in the market, at Carlotta’s stall. He mentioned that he had a lot of research to do and that he would be spending most nights at the camp but if it was okay with me, he’d like to come back to Breezehome.” She opened the nearby cupboard as she spoke and began to organize, putting the newer jars and bottles toward the back, occasionally wrinkling her nose at a stray herb or nut that had made its way out. “Of course,” she continued, “Onmund is always welcome here and I told him that but…does that mean you guys are okay?” 

Elspeth couldn’t tell from Lydia’s tone if she was genuinely curious or confused and still feeling judgmental. She hadn’t told Lydia much about her reunion with Onmund the week prior. She wasn’t intentionally keeping it from her, but Dragonborn business had taken them away and there was never a good opportunity to talk.  The fallen dragons whose souls she had to collect had wrecked havoc, casting a pall over their group that was difficult to shake. Indeed, after Darkwater Crossing, no one really spoke much at all. The devastation wrought on the small mining community in Eastmarch was immense—leveling the entire village: every home, all the crops and animals, even the mine had not gone unscathed. Only a handful of citizens had survived, mostly miners who had been trapped during the attack. Seeing the empty space where the houses and farms once stood, where children and families played and worked together, Elspeth suddenly understood, in an intensely painful way, why Sondas Drenim was so angry when he came to see her.

Arriving back at Breezehome had brought some relief and Elspeth was excited to see Onmund. But she was nervous—they had not yet spoken at length about their respective confessions and she was certain he would want to get everything out in the open before they carried on with things. This was a necessary step, but part of her desperately wished they could put those uncomfortable conversations off until, well forever, if possible.

“I think we’re going to be okay,” she replied. “I mean obviously there are things we need to discuss, but….”

“He’s forgiven you?” Lydia’s tone betrayed her incredulity, which then softened a bit. “That’s good, I suppose.”

Lydia was trying; Elspeth had to give her credit for that. She nodded slowly, thinking carefully about how she should respond. It wasn’t really any of Lydia’s business, but then, it might prevent awkward moments going forward. “Let’s just say, we’ve got to forgive each other.”

“Forgive each other? Oh, you don’t mean, he…? Lydia put her hand over her mouth as Elspeth nodded again and watched, almost laughing, as varying expressions of frustration, irritation, and confusion spread across her friend’s face. “Are you okay?” she asked finally.

“It’s weird, I am not really sure how I feel. I mean, two wrongs don’t make a right and all that—but I don’t know. I’m anticipating long, difficult conversations.”

“So you won’t be home tonight?”

“You know? I hadn’t even thought that far ahead. I suppose if the conversation goes long, I’ll just sleep there.”

“I won’t wait up,” Lydia said. “But if you want to talk…wake me if you need to.”

*****

Needless to say, when Elspeth set out that afternoon, she was feeling better about Lydia. In hindsight, she could hardly blame her for her reaction after what happened with Ralof. 

Lydia held the people she loved in the highest regard and above everything else, she valued loyalty.  It couldn’t be easy to see a friend make terrible life choices.

As she approached the camp, she grew nervous again. Elspeth hadn’t allowed herself to think too much about Onmund’s indiscretion. She knew that letting her mind wander, imagining what happened with him and this other woman, would only lead to an endless void of despair and jealousy. And since they actually had a chance to heal, she didn’t want to harbor resentment before they talked. But what exactly would they talk about? How would they start? What would they learn tonight?

Elspeth knocked and opened the door to find Onmund tidying. He had only been back for a week and the room was already cluttered, his research spread out over the table and clothes scattered about. As she removed her boots and hung her cloak by the door, she watched him put his papers away, taking to care to keep his notes organized. The feeling of being home, that unique comfort she always felt here in the camp began to replace the anxiety in her gut. 

“Hello,” she said, smiling warmly. “Where’s Luuki?”

“Lars wanted to watch her so she’s at the Battle Borns for the night while I catch up here,” he replied, clearly delighted to see her. “I’m sorry about the mess—last night’s moons were just amazing. Sergius is going to be thrilled with these results.” He stacked the last of his books on the shelf and when he finished, he threw his arms around her waist and pulled her close. She responded in kind, wrapping her arms around his neck, relieved that he was so enthusiastic. 

As she was expecting nothing more than a warm embrace and a light kiss, she was startled when he immediately tightened his grip and kissed her passionately.  She enjoyed this, of course, but when he started kissing the back of her ear and lightly grazed her neck with his tongue, she gasped and pulled away, though she did not let go of him.

This didn’t faze Onmund. “Are you okay? We can stop,” he said, nuzzling her cheek lightly with the tip of his nose.

“No…no, this is…it’s nice,” she said, shaking her head. “But shouldn’t we talk first?”

“I don’t know, I thought we could talk after,” he said, running his fingertips along the bottom of her tunic.

“Okay…”

The word was just barely out of her mouth before he pressed his lips back to hers, again kissing her fervently, his hands sliding under her shirt to caress her skin, starting gently at first and then increasing pressure as his fingers move upward, groping and massaging her back. She sighed lightly, running her fingers through his hair. He pulled away for a moment, locking his eyes to hers as he pulled her tunic over her head and tossed it on the floor. She gasped as the cool air hit her skin and he kissed her again, his lips trailing down her chin to her neck.  This was her weak spot and he knew it. Her heart started racing as she held his head to her neck. It had been so long, his touch felt new and the anxious quickening in her stomach turned invigorating, as he grew more assertive.

He started to walk backwards, pulling her along, his lips never leaving her neck until they stood by the bed. He pulled away to remove his shirt and Elspeth steadied herself, holding his arm, as she undid her trousers and pulled them off along with her undergarments and socks.  Onmund paused as she stood up and he gripped her elbow gently, holding her slightly away as his gaze dropped down. Elspeth bit her lip, enjoying the way he looked at her, his quiet longing. She pulled away and ran her fingertips lightly along his arm before letting go and sliding backwards into the bed. He crawled over her and lowered himself gently alongside her, his hands gliding over her bare body, lingering over her breasts before kissing her again and rolling on top of her. 

“I missed you,” he whispered between kisses as she ran her hands down his back, her fingernails grazing his skin, stopping to grope his waist and tug at his pants. He leaned up, unbuttoned his trousers, and they wiggled around, giggling as they kicked rest of his clothes to the floor. 

“I missed you too,” she replied, lightly humming as Onmund kissed her again, this time only briefly on the lips before moving down to her neck, then her chest. He was very focused; his technique seemingly more deliberate. Elspeth wondered if there was a reason for this, but before her mind could wander too far, she felt his hand by her hip, massaging her thigh, and then his fingers, gently—but eagerly—between her legs. 

As he touched her, she moaned softly and spread her legs to urge him on. To her surprise, he moved downward again, pressing his lips to her belly and then trailing a string of kisses down from her belly button down to her groin. 

She gasped as he kissed her inner thighs, her entire body now trembling in eager anticipation. Onmund had never done this with her before. Indeed, no one had ever done this with her. Until this point, she’d only encountered it in the racy pamphlets the mages at Arcane used to pass around. Far from her mind, however, were these stories as Onmund ran his tongue along her inner lips and around her clit, his hands gripping and massaging the tops of her thighs.

“Oh gods…Onmund.” She groaned, softly at first, growing louder as the sensation in her groin grew, her body writhing, until the intensity simply broke and waves of pleasure overtook her, sending shivers throughout her whole body that left her toes curled and her lips quivering. 

“Sweet lady Dibella!” Elspeth tried to catch her breath as all the tension in her body released. She looked up at Onmund who was upright now, kneeling between her legs as he wiped his face and grinned. 

“Are you all right?” he asked as he leaned over her, his body parallel to hers.

“Yeah, I’m good…I think I’m good for another month or so.” She giggled, still somewhat breathless, and then glanced down. “But you….”

“Are you sure? You look like you need a nap.”

“Oh my gods, Onmund, shut up and fuck me.”

With this she hooked one leg around his thigh and gripped his neck in her hand, bringing his lips to her and kissing him deeply. “Don’t be gentle,” she said between kisses as she gripped his backside with her free hand.

Onmund drew in a deep breath, grasped the bottom of his cock, and guided it toward her slit, letting out a deep groan as he thrust his cock inside her. He started slowly but vigorously, taking her directive seriously as she arched her back and raised her hips to meet his. Their pace quickened and Elspeth’s previous weariness dissipated as he plowed into her.

“Elspeth…gods!” He gasped as if astonished by her stamina. He lowered himself, pressing his chest to her and she wrapped her arms and legs tightly around him, as if inviting him to crush her completely under his full weight. He buried his face in the crook of her neck, lightly grunting through clenched teeth with each thrust.

Elspeth whimpered softly as she felt another wave of pleasure swell in her abdomen. This one was deeper, less intense but just as euphoric and she dug her nails into his back and cried out, saying his name over and over, which pushed him straight over the edge. With a deep, almost monstrous grunt, he let go, releasing inside her. He waited for a few moments before bringing his head up and kissing her trembling lips gently. Then he rolled off her and they lay there, weary and limp, wondering for a moment if they would ever move again.

Well, she thought, that was interesting. She closed her eyes and fought against the angst she suddenly felt, trying not to imagine why things were different and what he might have discovered recently about his prowess. Would he wonder the same about her? Not likely, since things with Ralof had been somewhat, well, lacking. 

“What’s wrong?” he asked as he leaned forward for the blanket at the end of the bed.  Apparently she was not able to keep her expression either pleasant or neutral.

“Nothing,” she said and then paused, taking care to make sure her tone did not betray the anxiety she felt.  “That was um, a little different.” 

Onmund chuckled. “Yes well, in anticipation all the lonely, lonely nights I would be spending, J’zargo gave me some reading material…it was, um, detailed. Very. Detailed.”

But not every night was lonely, she thought.  But still, in her postcoital bliss, she found his lighthearted laughter comforting and she giggled a bit as she snuggled under the blanket and into his chest. A few moments passed and she felt light. She recalled the early days of their relationship, when they spent most of their free time in bed like this. She knew that it wouldn’t always be like this, but if they could always come back around to this, then perhaps this was a fresh start.

She dozed off a little and when she woke again, she was surprised to see that they were in the same position and Onmund was playing with her hair, appearing not to have moved or slept at all. 

“You awake?” he asked.

“No,” she said, looking up and kissing him gently before laying her head back down and letting out a light sigh.  “What about you?”

“I’m not tired,” he said. “I’ve just been thinking about this, about us.”

“Me too,” she said. “It’s stupid, but I was wondering if we could just forget everything and stay like this.”

“It’s not stupid,” he replied. “It’s just not a good idea. I’m not saying we need to share all the details but there are few things we should probably discuss.”

She frowned. “I know,” she said. “Did you want start now, or what?”

“I was just wondering,” he began. “Do you ever think about why you did it?”

Elspeth had spent a lot of time rationalizing what she had done, pushing her guilt aside. And following that, she would rationalize why it was okay push the guilt away—it was simply a never-ending cycle to avoid feeling terrible. Of course, this was understandable—there were times when it was entirely too dangerous to be mired in guilt and self-loathing.  But now she had to be honest, despite the discomfort it caused. 

“Well,” she began, “most of the time if I thought about it, it made me feel sick. So I tried not to think about it. But if I’m being honest, after our fight, I think I was just feeling sorry for myself and I did something selfish, something I thought would make me feel better. It didn’t.”

He nodded, his face betraying some discomfort but also patience. “I was thinking about something you said before,” he replied.

“Yes?”

“You said it was an old friend. But you haven’t been in Skyrim long enough to have an old friend here.” The slight smirk on his face made it clear that it wasn’t an accusation and with this, Elspeth had to admit, he did have a point.

“Well yes, I suppose that’s true,” she replied. “I mean, he’s the oldest friend I have here—well, he was my first friend. I mean, well, he got me out of Helgen.”

“The Stormcloak? Ralof, yeah?” 

Shor’s balls, he remembered, she thought. “Yes, so don’t tell Idolaf.”

Onmund, in spite of himself, started chuckling. “Oh no, let’s,” he said. “It will bother him.”

“What’s with you and Idolaf?” she asked.

He grew quiet for a moment, averting his eyes a bit. “Eh, he and Olfrid talk big about the war and Whiterun, I just wouldn’t mind them being taken down a peg. But it would be unwise to unload on him over dinner since he pays rather well for weapons and magic lessons. So I enjoy all the things that might annoy him.”

“Fair enough,” she replied, though she couldn’t help but wonder if there was something else. But she was certain that Idolaf was not someone they needed to discuss in detail—especially not now. “All right then, so what about you…do you think about why?”

“All the time.” 

“And?”

Onmund released her from his arms and got out of bed. After donning his loincloth, he poured two cups of water from the pitcher on the table. In the meantime, she had pulled on the tunic closest to her and was sitting crossed legged when he got back into bed and handed her a drink. “Do you really want to know? You might not like what you hear.”

Elspeth grew nervous again. This did not bode well. But then, they were together and it was clear from his earlier attention that he wanted her.  “Well, if there’s something you think I need to understand about why you did it, okay. But I certainly don’t need to hear all the details about the night in question, you know?” She took a gulp of the cool water and pressed the cup to her cheek, which helped ease the burning sensation in her face.

“That’s just it,” he said, speaking very carefully. “It wasn’t just a night.”

With this, Elspeth stomach fell and her face crumpled. “Oh,” she whispered. 

“Elspeth, I am so sorry about, well, everything.” She was staring at him, so he continued. “You have to understand—or maybe you don’t, but please try. I was so angry after you left. I was furious with you. And then I had a huge fight with Brelyna.” He paused as he spoke, taking care to read her face, but she was simply struggling to maintain her composure. 

“I was away from the Winterhold and angry at everyone. I didn’t want to go back to the College and, well, I wondered what kind of life I could have away from the college, away from all the things that were making me so unhappy. So, I found a place to settle for a bit. I met new people.”

Elspeth sucked in a deep breath. “So, you had a relationship?”

“A short one, yes.”

With this, she took a long, slow breath in. This was going to be a lot harder than she anticipated. Her stomach was in knots. As much as she wanted to believe otherwise, this changed everything and she started to wonder exactly why he was so eager to be intimate when she first arrived. Was it an attempt to make her more vulnerable, more amenable to his perspective? Or, was it reassurance, that no matter what was revealed, he only wanted her.  Elspeth thought she had prepared herself, but this revelation raised so many questions. 

“Did you love her?”

“Elspeth…” Onmund paused and this silence nearly destroyed her. She was so unprepared for this and all the care he was taking, to choose his words deliberately, to reveal only the most important and relevant details, was making it worse. Finally, he spoke and she was so relieved, she decided she didn’t care if he told her too much.

“I had what I thought what I wanted—someone who didn’t have to leave me to save the world. Someone who didn’t keep me up all night worrying and who I didn’t miss…because she never went away” he explained. “And I did care for her deeply but…” 

“But what?” Elspeth exclaimed as his voice trailed off. “What?”

“It was wrong, everything about it was wrong.” he said quickly. “I still felt alone all the time.” 

She swallowed and took a deep breath before she spoke again. “I don’t understand.”

“When I lived in Breezehome, before you were Dragonborn and for a little while after, I always felt at home even when you were gone. Of course, I missed you terribly and I worried about you constantly. But I always felt close to you. I always felt like I was where I belonged. And I never felt that way with her. I didn’t really understand it until last week when I saw you and when I came back here to do my work. This is where I want to be, even with all the uncertainty that comes with it. I guess it was a lesson I desperately needed to learn.”

“So, you don’t regret it?”

“Of course I do, I wish I could have figured this all out without hurting anyone.”

He looked so sad as he said this, which broke Elspeth’s heart all over again. “I know,” she said, moving closer and taking his hand. “But we’re getting through this and I’m going to be fine.”

“Right,” he said, taking in and then letting out a deep breath. “But Elspeth, you’re not the only one I hurt.”

This was hard to hear. But all she could do was nod. It was late and they were both exhausted. As they finished their drinks and settled in to bed, Elspeth pondered his words and realized that they were together because he chose to come back. 

And that…was everything.

3 thoughts on “Book Two, Chapter Thirty-Two: Never a Breath You Can Afford to Waste

  1. “Disclaimer One: This chapter is rated R.

    Disclaimer Two: I’m sorry.” bah it’s at most rated M for mature and never be sorry, this was awesome.

    “she’d only encountered it in the racy pamphlets the mages at Arcane used to pass around” confirmed, mages are nothing but magical smut peddlers.

    “Well, she thought, that was interesting.” wow, not the reaction I was expecting. Always keeping me on my toes. hehe

    “Not likely, since things with Ralof had been somewhat, well, lacking.” ELSPETH IS SAVAGE! Poor Ralof lol

    “loincloth” I don’t know why but I always, ALWAYS chuckle at this word, this and UNDERPANTS, yes, I am a child.

    Amazing chapter, very well done! I think you were worried about nothing, you did great. Just the right amount of angst and humor and some hot smexy times.

    …so…when is the next chapter? lol

  2. Pingback: Writing and Not Writing – Midnight Oil Diary

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