Just in time to be late for Valentine’s Day a sappy mushy post for you all. Enjoy!
Loreli awoke enclosed in the circle of strong arms. Her first thought was Jaylen and she experienced a moment of panic before the realization dawned on her. The hair draped across the shoulder she was resting her head on was just a little too light, the skin a little too pale. She knew who that coloring belonged to, regardless. Lifting her head slightly she craned her neck looking up at Zha’ane’s sleeping face. Pretending to sleep was more likely. Zha’ane was the only person she knew who slept lighter and could wake up faster than she could.
She sorted through her memories, trying to recall what had happened last night. She didn’t think she’d gotten drunk; not that she’d need to be drunk to go to bed with Zha’ane. She’d considered it a few times before in the old days (before her failed marriage and a really poor relationship choice in Jaylen), but Zha’ane wasn’t the type to go to bed with someone just because and she’d never been able to ascertain if the attraction had been mutual. Add to that that she was at least suitably clothed for bed and something wasn’t adding up.
They’d been at the Pig and Whistle last night. Zha’ane had brought Loreli flowers and apparently Aely and even Arrens had seen what Loreli herself had been missing for the better part of a year at least.
“So Lore, did th’ smitten elf behin’ ye give ye th’ flowers? Or do ye ha’ twa admirers?” Aely had asked in front of the entire crowd assembled at the Pig. After Loreli didn’t answer, the paladin had continued – “Oh c’mon, dinna ye see it, lass? ‘s plain’s th’ ears oan ‘is head.”
Zha’ane had turned quite a plum shade of purple; while Loreli, in her poor judgment had made a debacle of things after taking him outside to talk.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” She asked.
“I didn’t exactly try to hide it back before the wedding…” He said.
“I was getting married! That’s not exactly the best time to drop hints, subtle or otherwise. I was in love, or thought I was… I was… distracted.”
“Look… if it’s a problem…”
She blinked a few times, her jaw dropping, “A problem?! Are you crazy?”
The hopeful expression on his face then had told her she needed to phrase this very carefully. “I don’t think I can say ‘love’ just yet. I’ve been hurt, a lot. But, I’m willing to try, if… If you can accept that.” She’d told him.
He nodded, “I can accept that. For you… always for you…”
He’d started to say something more, but she’d grabbed the front of his shirt and kissed him. It was almost like stumbling out of the dark, tired, cold and starving, to find rest, warmth and a feast waiting.
They’d gone back inside and she’d attempted to pass it off as nothing out of the ordinary. However, Aely’s self-satisfied smirk and Zha’ane’s goofy grin soon had her grinning like a fool herself. That was until the evening wound down and Zha’ane mentioned, again, that he was leaving for Darnassus the next day and taking Channi with him.
Zha’ane had escorted her back to her small apartment on the University campus and she’d noted with great appreciation how he hesitated in the doorway. It meant a lot to her that he was willing to respect certain boundaries even in light of the evening’s revelation and their change in status to one another. The deference in regards to her was not something she was used to from the men she normally dealt with and so she wanted to do this right. But she hadn’t been ready to let him go just yet.
“Come in.” She’d said, ushering him into the room and closing the door behind him.
“I can’t stay long. We’ve got passage on an early vessel to Auberdine to make the connection to Darnassus.”
Loreli nodded, setting about putting the bouquet of ebony roses in a container of water, wishing she had a nice vase for them. She walked over and set them on the table by the window before turning around and looking at him. There was a long awkward silence between them, as she shifted her gaze to floor and back a small handful of times. This shouldn’t be this difficult. She chided herself. How old are you, really? Just ask him to stay, you know you want to.
She ran a hand through her hair and Zha’ane raised an eyebrow at her. He knew all to well what that gesture generally meant. Was she changing her mind now?
“Are you alright…?” He asked.
“Zha’ane I… I’d like you to stay. Here. With me.” She added hastily, “Just tonight. I… I can’t give you more than just my company, not just yet. But like you said, you and Channi are leaving tomorrow and I don’t know how long you’ll be gone… so…”
He smiled at her, opening his arms. She exhaled a sigh of relief and stepped into his embrace, resting her head on his shoulder. He brought a hand up to stroke her hair before speaking.
“Loreli, I will never take anything more than you offer me. If you want me to hold you all night and sing Kal’dorei lullabies, I’ll do it. If you suddenly change your mind and send me away, I’ll go without a fuss. Everything I have has always been yours for the asking.”
She looked up into his face, speechless and overwhelmed by the immense sincerity in his words and expression. “Stay.” She said. “Just hold me tonight. You can pass on the lullabies.” She gave him a wink, “When you come back from Darnassus we can work towards something more.”
It was the first really good night’s rest she’d gotten in a number of weeks. She was content, and rested her head back on his shoulder, snuggling in closer. The shift woke him up and he smiled at her.
“Good morning.” Loreli said, sleep still thickening her voice slightly.
“Any morning a man gets to wake up to a sight so beautiful is a good morning.”
Loreli laughed softly, “You make that up all on your own?”
“Wait, I’m not dreaming?” Zha’ane asked, suddenly serious.
“Tell me honestly, if this were a dream, would we really be wearing so much clothing?” She grinned playfully.
He made a show of considering, “Possibly…”
Loreli gave him an incredulous look then.
“But probably not!” He gave her a grin of his own.
They both lapsed into a silent moment where Zha’ane ran his fingers through her hair. Loreli sighed happily.
“It is a good color for you.” He said finally, “But, I prefer your normal color.”
Loreli felt guilty for lying to him then, but she didn’t want him to worry while he was gone. “You should probably go get ready to meet Channi…” She said.
He nodded, but made no move to get up.
“I’m going to have to get up first, aren’t I?” She chuckled.
“Most likely.” He shrugged slightly, giving her a lopsided grin.
She shook her head still laughing and disentangled herself from him and the blankets. “Do you have time for breakfast?” She asked, running a brush through her hair.
Zha’ane glanced out the window, “Probably not. Slept later than I meant to. Channi’s most likely wondering where I am.”
Loreli nodded, strapping her dagger belt on and holding his out to him.
“You didn’t want me to cook anyway.”
“I’d have insisted I do it.” He winked at her and she replied with a mock-scowl.
They met Channi at the harbor. Farewells were said as the ship readied for it’s voyage.
Channi hugged Loreli and turned to walk up the plank to the deck.
Zha’ane’s gaze lingered in Loreli’s face and she smiled.
“You better get going.” She told him.
Zha’ane merely nodded and squeezed her hand before turning.
He turned back to look at her.
“…come back soon. Please.”
Zha’ane nodded. “Soon as possible. Stay out of trouble.”
“Hey!” She grinned, “It’s me.”
She was fairly certain she heard him mumble, “That’s what I’m afraid of.” As he went to join Channi.