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[So… I have an alternate canon (AU? Headcanon?) for Etain – which I might fully write out one day – where she never advances very far in the Companions and is never considered for the Circle. Because let’s face it, she’s really not their style. And so she contracts her lycanthropy in another manner.]
[This…er… got away from me a little bit. It’s almost 3k words long. BACKSTORY TIME]
If she’d been observant and clever, she would be dead. If she’d noticed the silence of the birds and the shuff of dried leaves under paws she would have turned, and it would have taken half her face off in the first lunge. It would have caught her jaw and throat in its mouth and wrenched, and she wouldn’t have a voice left to scream as it tore her open from sternum to navel. It would have been quick.
She’s not clever.
It’s not quick.
Tell us more about Etain's family! (Biological or Dark Brotherhood or BOTH, BOTH IS GOOD)
[Note: Smaragdina’s extensive headcanons about the Cyrodiil Dark Brotherhood / Dark Brotherhood lore are drawn from this. Because of Reasons.]
“You didn’t have to-“
“You’re welcome.” Etain hunkers down on the floor and keeps shivering. There’s a spreading puddle of water underneath her, and the air in the Sanctuary is frigid for this part of Skyrim, but at least Gabriella’s favorite knitting needles are no longer at the bottom of the pool. Stupid pool. She has no idea why it’s even there. She makes a small noise as the Dunmer drapes a blanket over her and holds a fire spell out between her cupped hands to help get her dry. “Thanks.”
“I mean it. You really didn’t have to –“
“I have telekinesis spells. I could have pulled them out, no swimming required.”
“I’ve seen your so-called telekinesis spells. Shut up.” Etain huddles down tighter and wipes the dripping hair out of her face. “I’ll be warm in a minute.”
Gabriella sighs and waves her hand so that the fire arcs off and swirls into a merry, crackling little ball of flame at their feet. She sits down next to Etain. “What was it like at the Bruma Sanctuary?”
Etain snorts. “Cold.”
About half a minute of silence goes by.
“Well, as long a you’re going to huddle here and shiver to death, we might as well make pleasant conversation.”
“Mmmph.” The Bosmer goes back to wringing water from her hair. “It was different. Actually kept the Tenets. Uniforms were better.”
“That whole ‘treat each other like a family’ thing actually worked too.”
Gabriella arches one thin eyebrow. “We try to –“
“No you don’t.”
The you (not we) lands with a wet plop in the pool and drifts down into the depths where the knitting needles had lain. Both women watch it. Etain, for once, is the first time to talk, determining that her undergarments are mostly dry and moving to pull her clothes back on. “Sorry.”
“Babette says we all have types,” Gabriella observes, absently waving her hand to make the fire burn blue and violet and silver. “Reason’s we’re here. She thinks you’re here because you’re trying to find a family again.”
“I’m not.” The Bosmer’s nose wrinkles. “I mean. I have –“
“They’re still alive?”
Etain says nothing. She’s lacing up her shirt with short, efficient little motions, and she doesn’t look at Gabriella when she finally starts to speak. “Mom was taken in for questioning when I was little. Dad when I was sixteen. Two cousins vanished when the Inquisitors went through Falinesti, they might still be in reeducation somewhere. Grandfather finally got himself caught the last year I was home. So it was down to me, my uncle, another cousin and Aé when I – left.” Her eyebrows draw together. “Aé – Aednat. My little sister.”
Gabriella’s face is calm and neutral. “So they’re still alive?”
The Bosmer gives a one-shoulder shrug. “They’re in Valenwood.”
“Yes,” she says gently, “but that’s not really an ans-“
“I’m here for a job, not adoption. Gabriella’s not Dunmer name. Where’s your family?”
The Dunmer is quiet. Etain finishes dressing, and when she’s done Gabriella grips her knitting needles tight in one hand and offers the other to pull the woman to her feet. She takes it.
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