As you’ll see in tomorrow’s post, I have remogged my Hunter. This is opportune, as this morning this piece of artwork arrived in the mail:
I still think @_vidyala’s Blizzcon badges were too good just to stick round people’s necks, they belonged in frames, and so I made one and did just that. It is a permanent reminder of the Mog that served me in Pandaria… but there is one piece left to the puzzle that has yet to be said, and then I can finally move on.
Let’s do that now, shall we?
Character/Pairing: Just the Hunter and the Rogue.
Rating: Mild sexual implications and themes. These people are grown-ups, after all.
Disclaimer: All these people live in a computer game owned by Activision and Blizzard. The one I play is mine in my mind only.
Enormous pre-publication copyediting props yet again to M, without whom I would make absolutely no sense at all. Thank you.
For the complete story, you’ll want to read these things too. This series will also appear in the Seat of Knowledge Fiction Forums on the US website in the next few weeks :D
- A Worthy Forfeit (a 5.4 prologue)
- Winter Trees :: Dragonblight
- The Big Sky :: Loch Modan
- Open Arms :: Auberdine
- The Day Before You Came :: Vale of Eternal Blossoms
He loves her most like this, the quiet moments between them, when everything else is forgotten or talked out. He lies on his back and watches her at the foot of the bed, precision as she places the clothing into the trunks that stopped being hers and became theirs somewhere between Garrosh’s capture and here. These are methodical folds with quiet resolve, and he marvels at the beauty of mind as well as body. In the end he’d expected more resistance to get here, because he was always ready for a fight. When they’d jointly acquiesced it had simply made the imagined more passionate, his desire sharper than steel.
Crais would offer to help her but he knows she’d refuse, politely but firmly — that however well he packs, it won’t be the way she likes, and that suits him just fine. He can dress at a wonderfully languid pace, then go downstairs to the Inn and get them breakfast, allowing the night to soak into his pores, to be committed to memory with the exact amount of detail. There would come a point where he would want to impose on her, to place down markers. But not today, not now. They are a day from leaving this land, to returning to the Eastern Kingdoms after a campaign he’s still unable to fully comprehend, and not simply due to what they have now become. This continent has marked him in ways he still does not understand, scars somehow more pronounced than the injuries he’d sustained before. He’d assumed the fertile nature of the land would help them all heal, but the Sha’s corrupted influence remained potent despite the liberation.
Even now, Crais is concerned they have not done enough to fully repair the damage.
He realises that P has paused in her task, her back to him, standing motionless. Unable to make out what has distracted her, he’s forced out of bed to cross the room and see. As he looks over her shoulder he’s surprised she’s staring at her hat, battered carmine mail and ruddy tattered silk lying on the chair, and that there are suddenly tears. His embrace is a reflex, pulling her to him, letting the anxiety be dispelled without a word. It takes a moment and her arms are around his bare waist, and he waits until the silent shaking stops. When she finally looks up and their eyes meet his, her sadness cuts far deeper than weaponry would ever manage.
‘I think it’s time for new armour.’
Her attempt to deflect the truth is ineffective, yet it encourages him that she is trying.
‘It served the purpose particularly well. You have been an exemplary servant of the Shado Pan.
Apart from Cho, she had been the only person Taran Zhu had spoken to after they rescued him from the Sha of Pride, the only Alliance representative given access to Ji Firepaw after they removed him from Orgrimmar. There was a great deal Crais didn’t know about the last week’s events and P had chosen to not share: he understands enough about her not to push. When the time is right, she’ll tell him what he needs to know.
‘I wonder if they will ever forgive us.’
They could have stayed for Garrosh’s trial but P had made her position clear: this was no longer her fight. They’d done what they’d been told to do, and that meant for her that business was concluded. As Crais was technically the party leader he could override her, but the Rogue knew how tired his team was, how desperate many of them were to leave. His lover’s guilt wasn’t shouldered alone in that respect: the rest of their party’s normally irascible enthusiasm had been dented by what they’d seen, especially inside Orgrimmar itself.
It was perhaps for the best that this armour was retired.
‘If I believe Cho, and I have no reason not to, the process has already begun for his people. All we need now is to get to work on his liberators. I can begin that right here.’
‘I didn’t liberate anyone. I just returned things to the way they should have remained without us.’
Her tears begin anew and Crais understands that this discussion is one he is unlikely to win on Pandaran soil: there’s enough history between them for him to know she has yet to settle everything in her mind. The best outcome for everyone will come with her being held, and then breakfast… and after that, for them to make Pandaria a memory.
He understands that, in time he’ll want to return here, if only to share a beer with Cho and Chen. But P needs the green warmth of the Loch, her father’s Boar Ribs – and a chance for Crais to spend as much time as possible showing how much he has come to appreciate her company.
His reassurance demands to be more than just a look this time: hand to her face, pulling close, his lips to her forehead. Then he gently moves away and gathers the rest of her battle armour together, disparate pieces of her self scattered across the room, placing them neatly on the first chest she has managed to pack. Looking at it all together he is again staggered at just how petite she is, and how much was thrown at them in those final hours as they tracked Garrosh to his capture. The armour is being held together by a few chain links and a lot of luck, and he begins thinking quickly as to how they can replace the damaged pieces. P leans over and picks up the hat, running her hand across the paw print on the wooden brim. Sadness recedes, put away, to be replaced by familiar and comforting determination. The moment is being dealt with.
‘I wasn’t sure before, but now I am. I need to wear this one more time when we leave. Then I’ll put it away and we’ll be done. As a result we should probably both get some clothes on and look at dealing with the day.’
Her ability to process trauma has definitely improved, Crais surmises, as she places the helm with all the other pieces and wanders away to find her day robe. He considers the validity of trying to distract her for a third time, but even he knows he’d be pushing his luck, and this isn’t the moment.
This is the time to move forward.