A Day Off
A Day Off
While on the adventures with Dannee Serana learns about her birthday date and just couldn’t let an opportunity to cheer up her only friend go away, so Dannee gets a little celebration and a day off, thought she usually are not into such things, but if Serana wants something she gets it, that Dannee has learned long ago.
This is lighthearted story with bits of fluff and some angst, so be warned.
Dannee was walking the quite memorable place to her near Morthal when she has heard careful footsteps behind, such delicate way of moving could belong to only one person she knew.
“Good evening Serana, I am glad that you’ve returned,” Said Dannee without turning back.
“Ha, and I’ve thought I was silent as shadow… It seems I began to loose my grip,” Serana replied thoughtfully.
“No, you didn’t, I just know you well and I am good on tracking,” Dannee smiled at her, turning her head to see her companion wearing a new outfit, and a necklace that she gave her as New Year present. “You look great; it seems your shopping in Morthal wasn’t in vain.”
“No, but that small town is definitely not Solitude… and you are sweet as always, finding the right words… So, why you walk here, is this place reminds you of something? And why you are dressed as a she wolf by the way?”
“Well, yeah, I dress like that, because it reminds me of my past, call it like anniversary and when I was a wolf lady, this was the place when I managed to control myself fully, so I didn’t kill the elk that was there at that time despite my beast blood bloodlust.” Dannee explained patiently as they sat on the bedroll near abandoned camp.
“Well, I am not so surprised, you possess a great will and I am sure you could control yourself even being a werewolf. It is hard I know, but that also makes us even, for I suppose I am the only one from my kind who could suppress my own bloodlust so well.” Serana answered seriously, sitting with Dannee and throwing her fur cloak away. She was never tired of that kind of conversations, it was so good to be in friendly company, to feel herself alive and understood. Not once or twice she even thought of curing herself, wanting to see the world as Dannee saw it, but… Two things hold her back, her power that she was so used to, that she couldn’t imagine herself without it and the matter of Dannee of course. How could she protect her dearest and only friend if she would become just a human, mortal and frail? So the question stood still, maybe some day she may decide to change herself, but not now when the life in Skyrim was so unpredictable and harsh.
“Well, you are like walking phenomenon,” Dannee laughed and patted her companion’s shoulder playfully.
“Thank you, my dear! Still I have a hard time picturing you as a werewolf…” Serana confessed truthfully. She really couldn’t imagine wild Dannee ruining in fur with a pack of other smelly werewolves. Vampires usually despised beast blood and never even hunted on them, only killing, thinking that they were too disgusting to taste, but maybe not all werewolves were the same? Dannee harbored kind feelings toward Companions, and she didn’t look like she would give her sympathy out of nothing.
“Well, I was the worst werewolf ever, never hunting for pleasure or for sport, but… Well, you know, he was still nice to me.” Dannee replied.
“He… you mean the Daedric Lord of the Hunt? You’ve met him personally, I know, even received his gift. Probably he gave you such a chase,” Serana mused, interested in Dannee’s adventures before their first encounter. Not that Dannee was so closed off, but she rarely spoke of that time, but Serana was always curious person, especially about Dannee relationship with various unusual beings like Daedric Princes.
“Yeah, it was, I was so tired putting up to that white stag…” Dannee replied casually.
“You mean, you’ve chased after him?! That is new, it is Hircine, who likes to chase mortals, not otherwise…” Serana was really surprised, seems like few Daedric Lords has taken a particular liking to her only friend, that the Lord of the Hunt even assumed new role for him, but for what reason she didn’t know.
“Yes it was strange and even despite I was free from lycanthropy for that time Lord Hircine wasn’t even angry, calling me a “child” and giving Saviors Hide to protect me from “world grievances” as he put it.” Dannee added and Serana thought that Hircine wasn’t forgiving sort, never was but he was nice to Dannee… Why? That didn’t sit well with her information about him, maybe he wanted Dannee back? Serana once again imagined Dannee as wolf lady and sighed… Luckily for her, Dannee wasn’t so eager to return to her old way, because she was afraid of herself, afraid to be out of control and kill someone while being in beast form… Still, if Dannee one day suddenly will wish to return to the pack, she would still be with her, because that what friends do.
“So I have a very complicated opinion about Hircine and his werewolves, I know that they are may be capable of cruel things, but… they were nice to me, so I still carry that armor that Aela gave me on my birthday.” Dannee concluded and Serana mentally slapped herself, it was anniversary, Dannee said it earlier, which meant that Dannee birthday was today and she didn’t even mentioned it! It was strange, but maybe there was a reason, thought she intended now to give her a holiday she deserves, heck even those werewolves did when they had a chance!
“You know… I am surprised that you still not bored travelling with me across Skyrim, certainly it is not very amusing, I suppose.” Dannee suddenly said, also thinking it was stupid to mention her birthday, she was not a child to wait for a cake, but definitely still had a big mouth.
Serana only sighed, it was hard to explain her feelings, the feeling of being so alive in Dannee’s presence, it gave her such contentment and joy that she experienced only when she was still human, being a child. It was a friendship and the truth about it is that it’s like kick. It wakes you up. It turns you upside down and it never stops. Even when you argue it’s still there. It's the thin invisible link between you and her.
“Amusing or not but it gives me purpose… Dannee, you know when long ago we parted ways after you helped me to get to the castle Volkihar for the first time, I was sitting there, remembering you horror and bitterness when you were afraid that Harkon will forcefully turn you into vampire… I was contemplating about my own situation as well, all these years, when I was locked away, being in sleeping state awaiting the reunion with parents… Well that turned into nothing, because some broken pieces could never be fixed… More then that, I can tell you that locking any of my kind in a manner as it was done to me, could be considered the form of torture, because when vampire sleeps she or he never dreams about something pleasant, no it is a row of constant nightmares with seeing your victims or the moment of your turning, over and over again. Its like wondering in the dark room with no escape until you’ve freed me, and in repayment you felt like I’ve betrayed you in that castle. So there I was, with turning the only person who cared about me away, with no friends, no allies and all I had was a mad father and as I’ve later discovered my cranky mother with a heart full of bitterness. I felt myself like some ancient piece of antique like some vase, ancient, valuable but useless and empty…” Dannee signed and gently patted her shoulder in a gesture of sympathy; Serna had such a hard life, that despite what she may done in a past, Dannee felt empathy for her.
Serana only smiled at her simple gesture, that was she missed all these years, the power of comforting touch, that quiet understanding, so she added: “And you Dannee… You gave me everything that was taken away from me. You gave me support and strength when I needed them. You saved my life a few times."
"Two, but who is counting!" Dannee smiled humorously, praising herself. In truth at first she was very confused at Serana reason of keeping her company after Harkon’s demise but she seemed genuine in her words, while expressing her feelings. Dannee has never met someone so eager to spend time with her here in Skyrim, her two dragon friends aside. In truth Serana has really changed, her arrogant attitude of course remained, but that was not that calculating, polite but cold woman that she freed from the crypt. Now Serana was often laughing, having fun, teasing her… Like she returned to the being a person she once was before turning and that was great. Who knows maybe one day Serana could eve abandon her vampirism… but that was up too her entirely.
"Ok, two!" Serana laughed at her. “And the funniest thing that despite age difference you appeared more mature at many occasions. I also have a hard time expressing my feelings. All I can say is that you made me a better person. You made me want to stay in one place. You taught me to fight for what I want. You taught me that everyone can be loved. We saved each other from the loneliness we lived in. We broke down each other’s walls. The truth is that there is no more 'me'. There is 'we'. That what friendship is… in my view anyway…” She added smiling.
“Yeah, I agree with you completely and I am very happy that you feel such way about me. But we still need to improve your social skills, you’ve scared poor Erik in Roriksted three days ago, when we have travelled there to see were the rumors about rogue dragon true.” Dannee replied, remembering that trip.
“Yeah, I remember. Look I’ve already said I am sorry, I won’t do that again.” Serana promised looking so sincere and innocent, that Dannee strongly suspected that she was making fun of her again and shook her finger at Serana accusingly.
Serana has smirked at her gesture and then sighed heavily, remembering that event. The dragon was real indeed, one of the fanatical Alduin servants, who despite Dannee attempt of negotiating tried to fry her alive. Of course she was forced to slay him, but that part never brought her joy.
What was worse the local young man Erik was totally smitten by Dannee and began talking about how he wanted to be an adventurer like her and even persuaded her to help him with his father, who didn’t want to let his boy explore Skyrim. Dannee of course logically answered Erik’s father that in their so called safe Roriksted that dragon could turn his boy to ashes so there was no safe place in Skyrim at all, but the dream must stay alive, so let Erik be on his own… That innkeeper agreed, Dannee even paid for that boy’s armor, not much, but she always had an issue of freedom, so Serana didn’t object, however predicting that she may get trouble, but Dannee shooed away her notions.
What Dannee did was noble, but the boy seemed to get it all wrong looking at Dannee whole day with puppy eyes and in the tavern Serana noticed that of course. She was becoming jealous again, she just couldn’t help it, but the men running around her beloved and only friend Dannee awakened her most dark desire to dispose of them in most gruesome ways…
It was probably her Daedric blood speaking but she of course hold herself in check, because Dannee would never forgive her of she would do such terrible thing, but she found it hard especially when young man began asking her questions.
“Hey, let me ask you something. Well you know Dragonborn well, she said you are her friend. Does she ever think about settling down and getting married?” Erik asked her, while Dannee was buying some food for their next journey.
“No, I think she likes what she’s doing. I don’t think settling down is for Dannee.” Serana answered coldly, trying to hide her dismay, how dare this Erik even think that Dannee would be attracted by such man as him?! He was no royalty, he had nothing that could possibly interest Dannee, but of course he needed to ask that stupid questions.
“Hmm… maybe she just hasn’t met the right guy.” He thoughtfully replied.
“And maybe you should gather some crops or what you farmers are doing usually? Or, I’ve forgotten, now you are Erik the Slayer, the one and only… maybe you could venture into some dungeon or something instead of bothering me with your delightful self?” Serana sarcastically replied. Not that she was interested in Dannee herself in that way, she loved to tease her though, but Dannee also didn’t want any suitors, she told her that on many occasions, so Serana thought she could help her friend in her own way.
“You are mean woman. I’ve just asked you harmless question and you look like you are ready to tear my throat…” Erik relied, offended by such rudeness.
“Boy, you really have no idea…” Serana smirked openly, thinking about her state as a vampire. “And you have zero chance with Dannee anyway, Erik for she doesn’t like men.”
“Fine, I get it, I should probably be on my way than!” He answered quickly, unnerved with such information and Dragonborn choice of a constant companion. “Just thank Dragonborn in my name and tell her I am so happy and grateful for her help!” With those words he was gone and Serana almost jumped when Dannee caught her arm, approaching her from behind.
“Serana… I’ve heard everything; don’t scare poor boy like that again.” Dannee softly said, amused by another display of Serana’s overly possessive behavior.
“I just couldn’t help myself!” Serana laughed, feeling herself like mischievous child for her little joke with farmer’s son. “Besides, I was right in a way, you are constantly trifling with werewolves, vampires and Daedra, who are no men, but otherworldly creatures. Well, it wasn’t my fault that poor boy interpreted it all wrong!”
“Serana you are evil!” Dannee laughed, in truth she was even grateful, her personal life was such disarray, so it would be better that no man will bother her again.
"Well, I am not evil, I am morally ambiguous,” Serana proudly exclaimed and added: “Besides it was my duty to help you, since another one’s fallen for you.”
“Again?” Dannee rolled her eyes, remembering her misadventures while wearing an Amulet of Mara not knowing its true meaning among Nord people.
“Yeah, well look at him, in those adorable puppy eyes and silly questions!” Serana was clearly enjoying herself.
“Why does this happen?” Dannee asked naively, really having no idea. She already had a sweetheart, if that walking partying disaster from other world could be even called like that, but their last encounter felt kind of bitter, with her love seeming one sided… Still, even if it was, she has no desire to find herself another love interest, and she had bad taste in men and didn’t want a full time heartbreak.
“It’s the blue eyes, your sweet attitude and the leather outfit. Some guys just love leather!” Serana was smiling still.
“I think then a wardrobe change is in order perhaps?” Dannee curiously asked.
“You could wear chain mail… No, wait! Put some imposing chains and spikes on your armor, that will make you look much more threatening.” Serana advised, trying to put a serious face.
“Yeah, but I think that’d just attract a kinkier group.” Dannee laughed.
“You’re probably right.” She also couldn’t contain her laugh.
“On the other hand, I could just stop bathing and wear a smelly bear pelt. That’d turn every man I met off.” Dannee replied thoughtfully.
“That’s true. But you scare me off too first!” Serana replied with another laugh.
Serana smiled at that memory but returned to the present day, thinking about some plans for tomorrow and she waited to see will Dannee finally acknowledge that it is her birthday or not and what she wants for a gift but sadly Dannee seemed completely disinterested in any holidays, but to miss her own birthday was something Serana couldn’t understand.
“What Serana, you want to ask something?” Dannee asked, looking at her curiously.
“Yeah, do you remember what day is today?” Serana asked, thinking how to bring birthday topic again.
“Yes, 5th of Sun’s Dawn, just the usual day.” Dannee replied, refusing to be carried out to that topic. “And why do you ask?”
“Maybe I just forgot about the calendar.” Serana answered, thinking that she must return to her home, she had some things that could be great as presents because stubborn Dannee refused to cooperate, probably thinking that her big day was nonsense.
“You never forget anything; I think you are up to something…” Dannee looked at her suspiciously, thinking what was up in her mind.
“I just want us to go to Solitude, poor Jordis must have missed her Thane being away for so long, besides, don’t you want to know about latest city gossip?” Serana advised her, looking completely innocent.
“You are up to something!” Dannee concluded flatly, thinking that Serana may try to organize her a holiday, but she just wasn’t into such things since her misadventures in Cyrodiil. Last year, there was no real celebration, no cake, but Aela gave her this armor as a present, refusing to listen any objections and the whole thing brought only bittersweet memories about her past in Cyrodiil so Dannee didn’t want that to happen again, that why she was in Morthal this year. But arguing with Serana will prove useless, that woman always got what she wanted, one way or another…
“Fine we go to Solitude, you are right, I’ve been away for a while, and it is time to remedy that.” Dannee decided to play along, besides she kinda missed Jordis and her calm and comforting presence.
While arriving in Solitude, Serana said that she needed to obtain something, Dannee of course agreed, noticing that her companion seemed over agitated today but struggled her shoulders. Back at Cyrodiil, she and Daynilla whom she considered a grandmother has always baked her big cake and made her some funny hairstyle, singing that funny holiday song along with Dannee’s best friend Bethany…. Now they both were out of reach and it pained her heart to remember those happy times…
Jordis, while she arrived surprised her with a yell: “Happy Birthday!” because Dannee had never told her about that day.
“Jordis, thank you very much, I appreciate your enthusiasm, but how did you know about my big day?” Dannee asked flatly, thinking that everything was against her.
“Well, your friend stopped by, he left you a note and some very captivating looking box with some things.” Jordis answered smiling.
Dannee signed but opened the letter, she already who the author was, the one who lived for holidays… She quickly read it and closed, sighing heavily.
“What did the letter say?” Asked Jordis curiously, she knew it wasn’t her place to poke her nose in her Thane’s business, but she couldn’t help herself. Unlike Serana that cheerful and ever optimistic Breton man named Sam has never looked threatening and dangerous. She saw him with Dannee many times; they were buddies and Jordis strongly suspected they were much more then that and they visited this house too, so she wasn’t surprised to see him. However he appeared quite unsure about this visit, only leaving her the letter and the box and then walking away, telling her to congratulate Dannee on her birthday, which was today.
“Well, he wished me all good… how sweet of him to remember this date at all.” Dannee said bitterly. It was for the best she thought, because if he comes here to see her in person, a long conversation will follow, that might likely result in break up. He avoided this kind of situation at all, by acting like this. She's known that she missed him - his smiles, his jokes, his strange and even ridiculous ways - but until now it's been his leaving that stabs her in the heart and hurts. The bitter words, the rejection and the fact that he chose his life style over staying here with her even for a few months. All that has left her in a state of tears, when the hurt welled up in her chest and couldn't be contained. In her daydreams, their reunion never threatened to tear her heart in two but it hurts still to know it might have…. Luckily today is not the day and maybe it was for the best.
“Dannee, don’t tell me, that you are going to toss these things away!” Jordis pleaded as she saw Dannee’s presents for the first time, a collection of wonderful dresses of various colors, beautifully designed and with matching hats, decorated with flowers, which would make Dannee look like a princess.
“No, Jordis, I won’t toss them away, after all it is a gesture of attention, that for some reason I am not forgotten,” Dannee replied with a hint of sorrow.
Later this day she walked first with Jordis, whom she has presented emerald dress from that collection, then alone, thinking about twists of fate, about her relationship with Sam… Sanguine.
Dannee cannot put words to their relationship now, of what it might have meant to her, or what it might not have meant to him. It's not that she wants to undo it, but she wishes she hadn't rushed headlong, that she had spoken about things she had desperately wanted to speak long ago, not rushing him with those words in wave… because words seem hollow now that he had left her and whether he would return or not was a question of lifetime. There are words for what they did, but they don't seem adequate, and she can't quite bring herself to think about her feelings, about what it meant instead of what they did. She wishes she could trust that his happiness was about some deeper feelings when he had been with her, and not about their actions, that it stemmed from an emotional satisfaction rather than physical contentment. Still he remembered about her and for such fickle person it was a step forward… On the other hand, the love is not only about giving pretty things. Dannee would never have abandoned her beloved if she was in his place, and he with all experience could think of a way of them to be together, without her being a pretty thing, bound to his Realms. But instead she got this situation and still thought that absolutely nothing, no amount of money, no ‘good intentions’, no destiny or life style could have convinced her to leave her loved one. Nothing. Maybe it was selfish, maybe it was short-sighted, but she believed the whole point of loving someone was that you never abandoned them, you always went back for them, found them, fought for them, even if you died in the attempt — you tried. You always tried….
Dannee shook her head, trying to concentrate on something more pleasant and the memories from her early years in Cyrodiil has emerged… Her every birthday there was a great day, always with surprises, the calm and friendly walk in the garden with her beloved Daynilla who was like a grandmother to her, despite being a Dunmer and not blood related to her at all. But that woman had raised her and Dannee could thank her for being a person she was today….
And Bethany, her best friend, always so lovely cheerful and yet wise, always eager to listen, to help her with her magical experiments at the College of Whispers… Dannee felt that with her she could share anything and that went both ways…
Bethany was also great alchemist and also a great cook, she and Daynilla always made her holiday to be like it, painted in rainbow colors, the time of serenity and pure happiness…
Dannee blurry vision reached clarity, because she blinked her tears back, because there will be no more such time for her here, both Daynilla and Bethany were out of reach and she had now were memories…but luckily no one saw her moment of vulnerability. Dannee sighed, thinking that this anniversary always made her sentimental ad went to Proudspire, to try to occupy her time with something else… only to find Serana and Jordis both dressed elegantly, hiding something behind their backs. “Here we go…” Thought Dannee, given the fact that Jordis usually disliked Serana and seeing two of them cooperating meant something… And that something meant a holiday.
“Serana, now I think I know what you were up to!” Dannee exclaimed, trying to smile broadly, she deeply appreciated that Serana also remembered about her holiday, though she mentioned it only once, accidentally. Dannee was astonished that such person as Serana cared for her trivial day so much that she made an effort to surprise her, to cheer up her spirits, sensing her uneasiness and loneliness. Maybe because of her sympathy Serana was so attached to her, after all she spend years without companionship, without affection, without the warmth of another person or any sort of comforting gesture at all.
“You really have no idea, finally after all these years I’ve finally was able to cook something not from alchemy table!” She replied smiling radiantly as she set something round and small on the table in front of her.
"I'm sorry if it's small but I couldn't find enough ingredients for something bigger. It's still good, I promise. I'm a rather decent baker, or was when I has been human, but Jordis said it is perfectly safe to eat, as you will see." Serana promised, thinking that in truth she spend a whole day in a castle, trying to bake that thing right. She wanted to give Dannee something sweet, something that she made fore her herself, especially after she awkwardly forgot about giving Dannee a present for Chil’a or as it was also called a blessing of a new year.
The cake was, indeed, not big like the ones that were baked for some grand events like wedding, but beautifully decorated in vanilla cream that formed whimsical swirls and patterns. There were candles on top, already lit and flickering, golden candles, tiny and perfect, like the rest of the cake. And it looked exactly like one that Daynilla made for her every day, how could that happen Dannee didn’t know… Serana looked so pleased, and so shy about her gesture, that she didn't have the heart to tell her this was her first cake here at Skyrim ever. Accompanied by Jordis and Serana claps, Dannee blew out the candles, making it seem like she was humoring her, lest she see right through her and discover all her weaknesses. The dinner itself went on in a friendly atmosphere, even Jordis lost her guard a bit, listening to Serana stories about ancient times, which she old Dannee to interest and lighten her mood up. The cake was simply destroyed by their eagerness, so Serana looked even more proud at herself, thinking that knowledge were not lost.
Later when Serana showed her presents, Dannee smiled at her shyly, pleased by her perception.
“Dannee, I know you appreciate and hold a respect for Dunmer people, after all you were raised by one, so I ordered these two robes for you. It is said that in Morowind the nobles usually wear such attire or some respected outlanders, who have proved their worth. I know that maybe not much, but this is the first time I made s gift since… well, being like this.” Serana explained her gesture.
“And I am so very grateful for your efforts, thank you, I will never forget this day.” Dannee replied sincerely. “Looks like you are planning a trip to Morrowind?”
“Nope, just wanted to give you a reminder of them, besides I think such outfits will look great on you.”
“I guess I will never understand why you are so good to me, since you have no obligations to be so. You are real noble lady, a princess and choose spend your time with someone like me when you can become anyone you want and do whatever you desire.” Dannee replied, still overwhelmed by this whole day.
“Because my dear, nobility comes from character, not blood, believe me. It is your quiet strength was all that had kept me grounded and sane though the whole ordeal with the madness my father had created. Your constancy and quiet intensity made me feel whole and safe. You are my life, and my dearest friend. You are the one person that understands and completes me. You accept me for all that I am and all that I am not…” She hugged her gently, while Dannee signed with lightheartedness, feeling her icy hands and yet understanding how much she had changed. When they only met, Serana’s behavior was like of a child, who got her hands on the shiny and precious toy and still couldn’t believe it was hers to play with. It was no matter of her state, but she was a human, not in insulting way, but she showed so many genuine emotions….
“Thank you,” Dannee answered softly. “I am very glad for your persistence; I’ve never thought that celebrating birthday could be fun here.”
“Then my mission is accomplished!” Serana proudly said.
“Well, we can celebrate your birthday too, if you tell me a date.” Dannee replied mischievously.
“No way, it will be a secret and don’t you dare to ask about my age!” Serana laughed and thought that when Dannee decided to return her a favor with organizing her holiday, she will be freaked out to think how many candles she would have to buy to decorate her cake.
Dannee only smiled again, remembering the days that they had run side by side, fearing for their own lives, depending on each other for strength and comfort. The moments they had spent simply enjoying each other's company. The times they had been breathless and laughing, and when they had languished in each other's sorrows. Every memory they had ever shared flickered through her mind's eye in a vividly rushing amalgamation of images and impressions.
True, her time in Cyrodiil with her friend Bethany and Daynilla was long gone, but nothing stays the same and nothing lasts forever, nether happiness nor despair and she must accept it, so whenever the moments of happiness happened she intended to cherish them with all her heart…