Technically, this was my first fanfic. I published it in February 2017 as a very short Valentine's Day story. It was divided into three parts (as shown here), but each one was so short, I figured I might as well put them together in one chapter.
Given what the story's about, it obviously takes place before "The Storm."
Aisha weaved through the clusters of well-wishers in the great hall. As soon as she neared the staircase, she froze. There he was: Nex. The dark-haired Paladin who had captured her heart.
Everything seemed to fall silent. The words she'd planned to say to him melted from her mind. What if he didn't feel the same way about her? Was she really ready for a new love?
A new love? She gasped at the thought. After her fiancé Nabu died, she told herself she'd never love again. Love led to loss. Why risk the pain again?
But since she'd met Nex, she'd started dreaming again. He loved sports and the outdoors, like she did. She smiled as she thought of the fun they could have together: swimming, hiking, running, rafting.
And that would just be the beginning. Where would it lead? Whether to loss or happiness, she wanted to know. She had to know.
Love had taught her a bittersweet lesson: the chance was worth the risk.
Aisha took a deep breath. No more hesitation. This time, she didn't stop until she was standing a couple feet behind Nex.
The Paladin was busy chatting with the groom, Thoren. She waited for a lull in their conversation.
"Nex?" she said, laying her hand on his shoulder.
He turned around immediately. "Aisha! Hi!" The moment their eyes met, a wave of joy rippled from her head to her feet. His smile had to be magic. To think that soon, she might have it all to herself.
Thoren chuckled. "I'll leave you two alone. I gotta find my new wife. See ya later, Nex!"
"Bye!" said Nex, and they watched until he disappeared into the crowds.
Finally, Aisha was alone with her new love. This was the chance she'd been waiting for, and she wasn't going to waste it. She laid her hand in his and inched closer to him, until their shoulders touched.
"Nex, can we talk?"
Aisha and Nex could hardly hear each other over the chatter in the great hall, so they went upstairs to the balcony. The afternoon sun cast a spotlight upon them. They stood close together, his silky sleeve rubbing against her bare arm whenever either of them moved.
For what felt like hours, neither of them spoke. Their eyes flitted about the surroundings. To the railing. To the rose garden below. To each other's eyes. Then quickly back to the garden.
It was Aisha who finally broke the silence. "Nex, do you remember that day back in Pixie Village?"
"Well, I've been thinking...that day, it felt like we had something special. Like we're not just friends."
He grinned shyly, rubbing the back of his neck. "I hope we're not. I kinda thought you knew I like you more than that."
I thought you knew? What did that mean? How could she have known? He'd been flirting with her for months, but it had always like harmless fun to her.
Until that day in Pixie Village, when he told her he'd been afraid she would never return from the Legendarium World. To know Nex didn't want to lose her - that he was risking his heart on her - made her happier than she could describe.
He was right. She already knew his feelings, but he didn't know hers. If he wasn't holding back, why should she? Aisha slid her hand on top of his and looked straight into his eyes.
"Nex...I love you."
A childlike smile smiled stretched across his face. With a deep sigh, he wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her towards him. Her palm landed on his chest. Such a quick heartbeat - even faster than hers.
Hugging her tight, he whispered the words she'd been waiting to hear.
"I love you, too, Aisha."
Finally. She smiled and laid her head on his shoulder. So, this was what being in his arms felt like. Her dreams hadn't done it justice.
What other surprises were ahead in her new love story? She couldn't wait to find out.