While they were in Ivarstead, Natasha introduced herself to everyone and offered assistance if they needed her help. She promised a few small favours, and then she met Fastred. The young woman desperately longed to marry her sweetheart and move to Riften with him. Her father forbid it and tried to get Natasha to break up the couple, then trick the girl to rekindle a relationship with a local man.
Fastred’s father believed that small villages like Ivarstead would completely vanish from Skyrim if all the young people submit to the allure of city life. He went on to doubt his daughter’s love, simply because she had once loved someone else. Natasha disagreed with both claims, but the old man was too stubborn to listen to reason. Fastred’s mother only wanted her daughter to be happy, so Natasha spoke with Fastred’s beau.
She encouraged him to propose and assured him that she’d deal with the father’s displeasure herself. Natasha and Stenvar followed him, curious to see what would happen, and they witnessed a beautiful moment between the young lovers. Everyone–including Fastred’s father–were beaming with joy when the couple rushed off together.
Natasha suggested they move along themselves. As they continued toward Riften, Stenvar questioned, “Why didn’t you talk to her former suitor? What if he still loves her and just needed your help to win her back?”
“I didn’t need to, it was obvious how much she’s in love,” Natasha replied. “Besides, there’s a reason their relationship came to an end. I couldn’t force her to live a life less loving.”
Their morning was pleasant for both of them; they always had fun fighting along the treacherous roads of Skyrim. Approaching Riften, they encountered more roadside bandits and met shady people selling a potion called Skooma. In the afternoon the weather turned sour and Natasha said, “When we get to town, let’s scope out the orphanage and then warm up at the tavern. We’ll just take the rest of the day off.”
“That sounds great!” Stenvar agreed. The rain wasn’t bothering him, but Natasha’s plan appealed to him even more than the idea of finding a troll cave or bandit camp. “We’ll pay a visit to the orphanage after dark?”
“We’ll see what the options are… but I think I should do the job by myself.” Stenvar protested and she explained, “I don’t want to get you in trouble. Stealing is one thing, but murder is a whole different story.”
“I know. Why do you think I can’t join the Stormcloaks? Things happen, and I’m willing to take the risk we’ll get caught.” Natasha didn’t tell him if she agreed or not, and his mood began to sink. He was quiet the rest of the way to Riften.
After finding good escape routes away from the orphanage, they went to the inn. Stenvar began to relax and have fun again by the time they finished their second round of Nord mead. Suddenly a fanatic stood up and began ranting, and as usual, Natasha couldn’t resist talking to the strange man. He was a priest of Mara, the goddess of love, and he was happy to explain his devotion whenever he could. He told Natasha about the temple in the city, where marriage ceremonies are blessed by the goddess herself.
“Can anyone be married in the temple?” Natasha wondered.
“Absolutely! Do you want to know more about our marriage customs?” When prompted to, he explained, “Life is hard and sometimes short in Skyrim. There’s no time for drawn out courtship. When someone is ready for marriage, they wear an amulet of Mara to let potential suitors know.”
Natasha asked for an amulet and Stenvar was shocked. “Why would you want to get married?” he blurted out. He instantly regretted his reaction. “What I mean is you’re a strong woman and a great mother. I’m just surprised.”
“I always wanted someone to spend my life with. Maybe it was that couple back in Ivarstead… I started to feel like it is something I really want now.” He told her he understood, and she noticed his mood had changed again. “Let’s talk in private,” she suggested.
They went inside Natasha’s room and Stenvar immediately advised, “Just don’t marry the first guy who asks, you know? Once word gets around about the Dragonborn–and your wealth–some people wont have good intentions.”
Natasha smiled because he was so oblivious to her affection. As she put on the amulet she said, “I know it’s your custom and I’m trying to live as a true Nord, but I could never marry a stranger–someone I haven’t been having a great time with already.”
“Are you interested in me?” he asked, finally realizing what she meant.
“I am, yes, for sure.”
He grinned and announced, “Then it’s settled.”
They walked hand-in-hand toward the temple, and Stenvar teased her playfully, “Are you sure you’re not just drunk?” She laughed and asked him the same question. “Nope,” he answered, “I could drink a lot more, actually.”
The priest was surprised when Natasha asked to arrange a wedding for them. “You already found love, praise Mara! When would you like to be married?”
“Oh, we hadn’t talked about that…” She asked Stenvar, “Is tomorrow to soon?”
He accepted, and the priest told them to return the next day. Everything happened so quickly, but Natasha was overcome with romantic thoughts. The Dark Brotherhood, the civil war, and dragons were all another life to her at that time, and that felt as wonderful as her growing love for Stenvar.
She thought they would return to the tavern and find out how much more he could drink, but he gave her a kiss and said, “I have to take care of some things. I’ll see you tomorrow.” She went back to the inn alone, and quietly fantasized about marriage and family life while she ate a light dinner.
She knew he would be a great father to her children, and she hoped Lucia and Sofie would accept him. “I should’ve asked them first,” she thought, but she chose not to feel guilty about rushing into the rest of her life. She finished eating her meal, then tried to get some rest.
In the morning, Natasha was focussed and serious once again. She dressed up for her wedding as best as she could: she wore her alchemy circlet and a dress she’d found on one of her adventures. She didn’t have shoes, so she wore her heavy boots and thought, “I hope he wont notice.” Then she finally quit fussing and went to the temple to enjoy her wedding.
To be continued…
© 2017, Starwing. All rights reserved.