Epilogue: Wintersand Manor


After it was confirmed that Ahlam was indeed pregnant, she sent for her husband to meet her at their new house. She changed into a less restrictive dress before meeting him, noting that her other one was starting to get a little tight.

I'll have to alter all my dresses soon, she mused.

Her husband was in a predictably grim mood, but she didn't care. In moments, he'd be turning cartwheels anyway.

"You've returned," he greeted with a slight sneer, looking her over with disdain. It made her want to pitch him over the bridge into the river. "Why have you brought me here?"

"To see our new home," she replied, blinking irritably. "Behold, husband: Wintersand Manor, as it should have been."

Eyes wide, Nazeem's head swiveled towards the house, then back towards her in disbelief.

"In addition to your immediate investment as Thane, the Jarl has granted these farmlands to you, and titled the house to me," Ahlam patiently explained. "To deter us from ever divorcing, of course."

Nazeem was still breathless, refusing to believe. "But how?"

"I confronted him," she stated simply. "And I finally got us our due. He seduced you with his rank, and took advantage of you. I merely called him out on it."

"So...all of this...is ours?" he gasped.

"Completely," she nodded. "Let's take a tour, shall we?"

They walked the outer grounds in awe together. This house had stood beside theirs for as long as they could remember; they used to walk by it every day to get into the city. It was mind-boggling to walk the property now, as the new owners.

"A horse for your travels," Ahlam pointed to the stable. "And a nice big porch for outdoor parties."

A serving woman awaited them at the front. She was black-haired, young, and pretty.

"I am Olivia," she greeted with a curtsey. "I was informed you were coming."

"Imperial?" Ahlam casually asked.

"Yes, my lady. As is my brother Drake, your new housecarl. He's indoors."

Good, Ahlam relaxed. I grow weary of Nords.

Living next door, they had spent years imagining what the inside of Skyfall looked like. The reality was vastly beyond the fantasy; the rooms seemed to go on without end. There was the huge foyer, the elegant dining room, the well-provisioned kitchen, and the small library, still needing to be stocked with books. And that was just a handful of rooms.

More than enough room to avoid each other, Ahlam mused. He can live his life, and I can live mine.

The new housecarl was upstairs. He was like Olivia's twin. Clad in black and fully armed, he greeted them both with a courteous bow.

"I am Drake," he introduced. "I am your sword and shield."

Ahlam raised an eyebrow, appreciative of this development. When Hrongar and I inevitably split, I suppose this one can keep me company.

"'Tis a fine house," Nazeem remarked. "It was taken from the previous owner, was it not?"

Drake nodded. "Ambassador Crassus committed fraud against the Emperor and the Jarl of Whiterun," he explained. "He embezzled thousands of septims. The Jarl confiscated the property and sent him back to Cyrodiil to be executed. As owners of the property, you may be required to entertain dignitaries every now and again."

"I figured as much," Nazeem nodded, before he and Ahlam continued their tour.

Their tour wound down with the bedrooms and the bathing chamber, which apparently pumped water directly from a hot spring.

"We'll need to hire more servants," Nazeem murmured. "What do we do with our old house?"

"Wilmuth can rent it," Ahlam replied, her tone just a little bitter. "And let's never speak of that hovel again." She paused, rubbing her belly. "You'll need to get our farm producing again, husband, and this time, don't even think about sending so much as a single carrot to Dragonsreach."

His voice came out more humble than she'd ever heard it before. "Of course...my love."

Her head snapped towards him. "Don't call me that. I'm not your love. I don't love you." She turned back to the bath. "I hate you, Nazeem," she said with her eyes closed. "I would've been happy to be a farmer's wife, until you climbed the steps of Dragonsreach and changed our fates forever."

He paused before speaking again. "But Balgruuf wants us to reconcile."

"Balgruuf can go fuck himself," she hissed, opening her eyes again. "I'm with child, husband. I'm carrying the kin of the Jarl in my womb, and the only reason I haven't ended its life is that I know in this new world of ours, we will need the leverage some day. We can't go on just being his vassals; we have to be his kin." She turned to him. "You'll need a child of your own. To marry this one. To protect our lands and our legacy."

Nazeem was flabbergasted. "But Ysolda--"

"Personally, I don't care what wench you pull a baby out of," Ahlam bit out, "but the nobles of Dragonsreach do, and that girl made you a laughingstock. Honestly, Nazeem, if you're going to play the game of courtiers, you could at least do it well."

She turned back to the bath. "This war will bring many Imperials across our path--wealthy, titled, influential. Better you breed with one of them, for make no mistake: after today, we cannot trust any Nord."

~ Fin ~


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