Arrens didn’t come back to the apartment that night, but Aely slept on the couch anyway. She’d left the armor where it was, strewn about their living room, taking a well placed kick at whatever piece was in her way when she had to walk around. It didn’t really help, and she’d put a big dent in the coffee table.
They danced around each other, cold and barely cordial, for two days. Arrens made a big show of tending to his robes. Aely stopped hiding when she was going out to practice.
She knew, on some level, that he was right. This war was stupid. The whole thing reeked of stubborn hot-headed leaders making poor decisions with nothing to gain but a whole pile of dead soldiers. On the other hand, she’d sat by for the fight against Deathwing, and nearly gone crazy with the lack of activity, relying on second and third hand reports of the goings on. On the other hand, she’d promised him her life, and they’d done their best to build a home together, with dreams of a family. On the other hand, someone had to tend the soldiers in the fields, working to reduce that eventual bodycount, and that kind of work helped keep the battles far away from Stormwind. On the other hand, there was the peace summit, and she hadn’t exactly thrown all in to help with it.
An’ that’s jus’ too many fuckin’ hands.
Aely sighed, picking up Jolly’s shield and turning it in her hands. It wasn’t her preferred setup, using a shield and mace; she’d rather the weight of a greatsword, but something about it made her pause.
Maybe the peace summit was the way to go for now. If it worked, maybe there’d be no more wakes for dead Riders.
Of course, if he couldn’t realize that she had obligations to more than just him, then this whole thing was going nowhere. Maybe he had nothing better to do than drop everything he’d worked for, but she, at least, still valued the other promises she’d made.
She watched Arrens come in from class, refusing to meet her glance as he headed into his study. After a few minutes, she followed after him, knocking on the molding around the open door.
He glanced up briefly before his eyes returned to his writing. “Yes?” he said tersely. Not “Yes, dear” or “Yes, my love,” as was the norm.
“S’there any chance ay havin’ some sort ay conversation? I’m na even sure I ken where I stand on any ay this.” Aely kept her voice as calm as possible.
He set his pen down and removed his glasses. “Yes. I suppose we should. I’m merely doing what must be done to ensure Professor Landris has all she needs to facilitate a smooth and seamless transition to the role of headmaster.”
Aely frowned. “Sounds like ye’ve made more decision than I have.”
“I can ill-afford to wait on something this big. Keep in mind, the school is largely funded through the kingdom’s tax revenues. She’ll need to know who to contact in the event our funding is conveniently forgotten.”
“An’ if I dinna leave? If th’ peace summit works out – which I /am/ attendin’, ye ken – an’ it’s all fir naught?”
“I’ve made provisions for the position to return to me upon my return.”
“Sounds like yir goin’ regardless, then. I thought all this wis stupid an’ pointless.”
He looked her in the eyes and said, “I told you, if you were going, so was I. Stupid or not, I will not sit idly by again while you sacrifice life and limb. I did it before. I’ll not do it again.”
“So ye’ve decided I’m goin’ then? News t’ me. Figured it wis a bigger decision than that.” Aely fidgeted with the doorframe.
“I’ve made no such decisions. I’m merely making plans in the event, or perhaps the likelihood, that you will make such a decision. I know you well enough to know the way you think, to know where your heart lies. I’ve seen your restlessness these past few months while your friends and comrades-in-arms have fought. Or am I wrong? Have I misread you for so long now despite my hopes that you were happy to be living a peaceful life, such as it is, while war raged around us?”
“Sometimes I think I’m fir creatin’ peace, na fir livin’ in it. I’m goin’ ta this summit fir Bricu an’ Loreli, fir th’ folks wha’ think it’ll work. But I canna sit by an’ let this war come t’ Stormwind again. If yir goin’ with me, I’ll do my best t’ be near ye.”
He approached her and took her in his arms. “And I you, my love. That’s why I’m making these preparations. I won’t sit by hoping for a letter or for you to get some leave to come back from some battlefield. I won’t spend my nights in the university chapel praying to the gods for your return.”
“Ye ken ye’ll be in a lot more danger than I am, yeh? I … dinna think I’ll be volunteerin’ fir field duty. Maybe wi’ Ben, t’ get him started, but na full time. I’m too old fir tha’ shit.”
“So am I,” he said, releasing her and walking to the window. He gazed outside at the park below. “It’s strange, isn’t it? It seems like both a lifetime ago and just yesterday that our armies were massing to walk through the Dark Portal. I swore when the final siege was laid upon the Black Temple that I wouldn’t return to battle. And yet here I am.”
Aely grinned. “Well, I’m kinda on th’ verge ay swearin I’ll ne’er do clerk duty again, myself. Gonna need bloody bifocals.”
He glanced at his glasses lying on the desk and raised an eyebrow at Aely.
“Wha? Just because ye need ‘em dinna mean I’m in any hurry. Canna wear specs under a helmet anyroad.”
Arrens sat on the window sill and faced Aely. “You understand why I’m doing this, don’t you? For the same reasons I’m coming to terms with why you must do this.”
“I can understand it, yeh. I still am na sure it makes good sense, but then I’m na sure any ay this makes good sense. Prob’ly a fool’s errand – either th’ peace summit or th’ war.” She leaned against the edge of the windowframe.
“I doubt any sense will ever be made of it, even years after it all ends.” He placed his arm around her waist. “I’ll be with you. And for now, that’s all the sense I need.”
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