The shatter of the plate mirrored the shattering of his heart at her words, and he understood immediately. He stared at the splinters of porcelain on the ground where he had thrown the plate and nodded. “I understand,” he said softly, his voice catching in his throat at the last syllable.
He cleared his throat of the lump that had formed and peered back up at his wife’s eyes. She might not be his wife for much longer. But he tried to give her a smile, as small and slightly wavering as it was, and said, “But it can be put back together. It just takes time, and some effort. And it might not be like new anymore, but it will still work. When a bone breaks, it is painful, but for a while it is stronger from that break before it completely mends again.”
He took a step closer to E’hla, avoiding the shards of the plate on the ground for now—he would clean it up later. “Will you think about it, E’hla? If you need time away from me, so be it. Take all the time you need. I will take care of the animals. No problem. I just.. have one request. May I have an embrace from my wife? Just in case it is the last one?” A few tears fell, but he quickly wiped them away.
E’hla merely shook her head slowly, “I won’t, not this time,” she told him. “Not after all this, all the hurt feelings, all the mistrust, all the hurtful words, from both sides,” she continued.
"I will, however, use the trip to Whiterun to think. I cannot, and will not, make any promises beyond that," the womer said calmly before she opened her arms, took a step forward and wrapped her arms around him. She lingered for a moment before she let go, offering him a small, empty smile, and stepped away to pick up their bags. "Do you want me to say hello to Shadrach for you?" she asked, mostly out of courtesy, before she laid her hand on the door handle and looked over her shoulder.
Though Dalamus wanted to be defensive, he clamped his teeth shut. She was right, he did want to win. Because at least if he won, he had something to hold onto to give him some kind of satisfaction. Something to focus on aside from the pain of knowing that he was, in fact, wrong.
"But I do know what that feels like, E’hla…” he said quietly. “You have done the same to me in the past. You have also made me feel unwanted and unloved when you compare me to Drevain, and it still hurts. But.. I know it does not justify all the pain I have caused you.”
He frowned, the guilt rising up as he scrubbed at his face. “You are.. amazing. You are more patient than I deserve, and you have done nothing to deserve the hurt and pain I have put you through, E’hla. Regardless of intention. You have stood by me for so long, loved me when I was unlovable and forgiven me when I was unforgivable. I have messed up so many times, and you do not know how many times I have thought 'this is it, this will be the last straw,' and yet you still stay, and sometimes I wonder why, too. You deserve better. You deserve so much better. But I can be better, I know I can because I have been doing ‘better’ things more each day, and I want to be better. For you and Llaara, because I do not want to be right anymore. I do not care about winning anymore. I just want to be happy. And I think we can be happy together, E’hla. We were happy, once. We can get that back. I think we can. Do you..?”
The Dunmer crossed her arms and listened to him talk, staying quite so she wouldn’t interrupt him. Eventually, moments after he had asked his final question, E’hla simply shook her head. “No,” she replied, “I don’t think we can get that back. I don’t believe that people can change just because they want to. Here, let me show you,” she said and took a few steps away from him towards the kitchen.
She returned to him with a porcelain plate in her hands and held it out towards him. “I want you to throw it on the ground,” she said, but didn’t explain him why.
The plate shattered into tiny bits and pieces when it hit the hard stone floor, and E’hla looked up at him. “Now say you’re sorry, that you didn’t mean to hurt it,” the womer said calmly and waited for him to do just that. She raised her brows slightly and tilted her head, “Did it go back to the way it used to be? No? Do you understand what I’m trying to say now?”
'I want some time away from you.' That was what she had said. Earlier, when she had taken her journal back she had said something similar and it had not hurt as much as it did now. Probably because he had not thought that ‘time away’ meant ‘I want to be miles away from you and I am taking our daughter, too.’ Seemed as though she was not going to let any arguments stand, either.
"N-no, E’hla, that is not what I—The greymages." Blaming the greymages again? Gods damn, he knew he was going to get in trouble for this. But it was true! He did not know another way to explain it. "I was worried about you, E’hla. I was worried that you were so quiet and distant and cold, and I wished to help. Gavril essentially told me to piss off after he beat the shit out of me, and greymages have been swarming me and telling me that you had probably found someone else while you were away and it just.. made sense, E’hla. Not because I do not trust you, but because I know I have hurt you enough for such scenarios to be within the realm of possibility in my mind. Maybe my head is messed up, but how am I supposed to know what will happen if you do not speak to me?”
He calmed himself by exhaling a puff of air. He had not meant to ramble in such a negative way, but he wanted to stay calm. He wanted so badly to stay calm so that he would not hurt her even more, but something told him it might be too late for that. His arms hung limply at his sides as he looked at her, his voice softer. “Can you honestly say that you have never thought of leaving me? Despite all you wrote in that journal? Because if you cannot, then how is it unjustified for me to think that it could possibly happen in the future?”
He was not paying attention to his wording, and he knew, he knew, that he was likely going to regret that. But he was already in trouble, and he had tried to explain as best he could, though interrupted by a few coughs.
E’hla let out a heavy sigh and closed her eyes, pinching the bridge of her nose. “You are unbelievable,” she sighed and shook her head before she moved her head to look up at him.
"You trust the words of greymages more than mine. Do you have any idea what that feels like?" she asked him with quirked eyebrows, "I cannot talk to you about my problems, because you are my problem. You have made it very clear in the past that trying to talk about it only ends in arguments because you are obsessed with winning. It’s like you think marriage is a gods damned game, and by breaking me down you win.”
"To the victor goes the spoils, isn’t that what they say?" she paused and shrugged her arms, "What spoils? What makes treating me like this, making me feel so unwanted, so distrusted, worth it? What have I done to you to deserve this over and over again? I have stood by your side through everything, even when you messed up and put your own daughter in danger." Her voice was calm and even, and it surprised even her. She wanted to yell at him, scream at him, scratch and punch him, but she did nothing.
"Just tell me, what have I done to deserve this? Because I have thought about leaving you, and to be honest you’re not exactly making it difficult for me to choose."
He scratched the scars on his cheek while he gathered words, attempting to remain calm and not sound accusatory. “If I believed it was just a simple visit, then I would not have said anything. But, considering our recent.. discussion, if one could call it that, I am led to believe that there is something more. And I do not mind that Dag is going. I am certain that he will be thrilled to see his father. Perhaps it will do him some good. We might not be the best of friends, but I have been amiable towards him recently. Does this mean that if I wish to go with you, I may?”
Dalamus had not said so much since the altercation with Gavril, and the injury in his throat reminded him exactly why. Subconsciously, the mer brought a hand up to rub the spot through the bandages before he relaxed again. Well.. ‘relaxed’ might not be the right word.
While Dalamus had been talking, E’hla had gone back to gathering the last of her things for the trip, but at his question she stopped quite abruptly and shot him a glare. “If I had wanted you to come, I would have asked you. I don’t care how much you want to come, because I want some time away from you,” she replied.
"And since you brought it up, what exactly do you think I’m going to do to Shadrach, hmm? Sleep with him? Like that’s the only thing he’s good for?" she scoffed and shook her head. "Do you really think that lowly of me?"
"Ah, you got me, I confess. I bow to your superior power of observation."
A thousand thoughts and questions flitted through his mind like frantic birds. He just needed to catch one. He just needed to know why. Going to Whiterun was fine, but she was going without him.. to see Shadrach. And taking their daughter with her, along with Dag. Normally it would be fine. Just going to see a friend was normal, and it made sense for Dag to go see his father. But if Llaara was going, as well, then why not himself? This was more than a simple visit.
"I.. well, of course I will take care of the animals. Why would you even need to ask? And.. why are you leaving without me, exactly?" His tone was one of confusion, but not of anger.
"Because, Dalamus," she began and turned around to face him again. "Shadrach is my friend too. You have gone alone to visit your friends too, so why do I suddenly have to explain this to you? Besides, I figured you didn’t want to come since I’m taking Dag with me. You two aren’t exactly the best of friends." E’hla explained and crossed her arms.
Gonna keep this short cus I ain’t so good wit words lik yu.
I’d be reel happy if yu’d come by wit Dag an Llaara.
The courier was quick to deliver the letter. Once his job was complete, he bid the womer farewell and left.
The courier caught her as she was about to unlock the door to the house, and she offered the young man a warm smile and a handful of coins before she pushed open the door and stepped inside.
She brought the groceries into the kitchen before she leaned on the counter and unfolded the letter. The handwriting was unfamiliar, but it didn’t take long before she realized who had sent it. The womer smiled as she read it once more, already planning what to bring and how to tell the kids.
"Oh, what a wonderful idea, I’ll try to remember that."
"And all this time I thought I was the warmest and fuzziest womer in Skyrim," she feigned a gasp, "my whole life is a lie! Whatever will I do?"
"It upsets me because he says it as often as he does, yet he acts like a textbook psychopath."