Title: Warcraft – Killing Her Softly
Author: Rowan Seven
Teaser: In an alternate universe where Jaina married Arthas and Lordaeron did not fall, she reflects and reminisces on her life.
Disclaimer: Warcraft belongs to Blizzard Entertainment. I wrote this story for entertainment purposes and am not making any money off it.
Author's Notes: Special thanks to Mark Romaneck who inadvertently inspired this story with a comment he made and Bullroarer whose idea for a fanfiction contest helped motivate me to write this. Additionally, members of the Unofficial Warcraft III Fanfiction Forum have my gratitude for their comments and encouragement. This story is also partly an attempt to avoid being typecast as a comedy writer. Please read and review.
Story Notes: As the teaser states, this tale takes place in an alternate universe. For the sake of the plot, assume that Prince Arthas was never corrupted and Lordaeron didn't fall. The Burning Legion was still defeated in Kalimdor, and the Scourge is holed up in Northrend being ominous.
I am Jaina Menethil, Queen of Lordaeron. My beauty is praised throughout the continents of Lordaeron and Azeroth, and I'm the envy of every woman in the kingdom. I have a wonderful, loving husband, five beautiful children with a sixth on the way, servants who dutifully follow my every command, and virtually unlimited wealth and prosperity. I'm living the dream of every maiden who ever wanted to be a princess, but yet...I hate what I've become.
Looking back on your life, have you ever been able to pinpoint exactly where things went wrong? I can, and yet for the longest time I refused to accept the plain and simple truth that I had made a mistake and wasn't happy where I now am. Once, in my youth, I was the most promising sorceress in Dalaran, the privileged apprentice of the Archmage Antonidas, Head of the Kirin Tor. The entire world with its endless possibilities lay before me back then, and I, with all the yearning of my soul, wanted to know everything. I studied magic with a devoutness rarely heard of and embarked upon research and magical experiments that not even my superiors dared attempt. Flush with the excitement of exploration and the rewards of discovery, I was truly happy and believed I'd found what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
And then I fell in love...
It started out innocently enough. As a princess of Kul Tiras there were duties that – however reluctantly – I still had to fulfill, and appearing at the occasional Alliance function and gala was one of them. So there I was, standing at the back of a ballroom in Lordaeron Castle, wearing a dress that was all too flattering, bored out of my mind and desperately wishing I was back in the Violet Citadel studying. I had politely declined the offers of several distinguished gentlemen to dance, knowing that most of them were more interested in my status as the daughter of Grand Admiral Daelin Proudmoore than me as a person, and as for the few who weren't...well, I've already said I'd rather have been studying.
When Prince Arthas Menethil of Lordaeron himself asked me to dance, though, who was I to refuse? Truth be told, his appearance surprised me so much that I probably would've agreed with anything he said at that moment. Could this be the same Arthas I used to play with and who pulled my hair as a child? The same Arthas who would pretend to be a knight and rescue me from imaginary orcs in the courtyard? The same Arthas I exchanged letters with for years before I became consumed in my studies and he in his paladin training?
He was so startlingly handsome that it took my breath away. Had I not been so nervous I would've noticed that he was equally taken aback by my beauty. We spent the entire night together, dancing across the ballroom floor and sharing each other's embrace. I felt like I was floating on air, and for the first time in a very long time my studies were the farthest thing from my mind. I could barely hear myself think my heart was beating so fast, and when the celebration ended and he leaned down to kiss me good-bye...I never wanted that moment to end.
Without a second thought, we started seeing each other after that night. At first we were as indiscreet as day, so happy to be together that we were all but blind to those around us, but as rumors set the kingdom ablaze and intruded on our personal lives with greater and greater force, we took pains to keep our relationship private. However, as my feelings for my prince grew, my scholastics suffered. My former sharp focus was shattered, and I found myself constantly daydreaming about Arthas and filled with longing to be with him.
Master Antonidas, bless his dear departed soul, recognized what was happening and took me aside one day. There, he told me firmly and sternly that I was the best and most promising student he had ever laid eyes on, but if I wanted to reach my full potential I'd have to make a choice between my love for Arthas and my love of magic and knowledge. It wasn't possible to pursue both at the same time, he said, adding that he hoped that whatever my decision would be, it would make me happy.
Knowing he was right no matter how much my heart asserted otherwise, I spent the next few days brooding and contemplating my future. I loved Arthas, of that I had no doubt, but marrying him would come with the responsibility of being the next queen of Lordaeron, and did I really want such a heavy burden placed on my head? I had already chosen the path of magic over the intrigues of court life back in Kul Tiras, but, on the other hand, nobody back home had ever made me feel the way being with Arthas did.
And so my soul went, back and forth, torn between two longings. After an agonizing internal debate I finally decided to continue my studies and apprenticeship. I knew that this was something that would continually reward me for the rest of my life without the sacrifices wearing a crown would demand, and I resolved to tell Arthas this at our next meeting.
Seeing him, being held in his arms, it made me hesitate. Gazing into those beautiful blue eyes of his that were filled with love for me, I found myself asking whether or not I could truly live without ever seeing those captivating orbs look at me with such fondness again. While my determination faltered, Arthas looked into my eyes and perhaps, just perhaps, realized how close he was to losing me. There, on the spot, he confessed his feelings for me and proposed.
I should've said no. I knew I should've said no. Every rational and logical thought I'd had in the past week demanded I say no.
I said yes, and in little under a month Arthas and I we were pronounced husband and wife. The kingdom was overjoyed, and the celebrations lasted for weeks. These were...the happiest moments of my life, and although Master Antonidas' almost visible disappointment hurt, it was easily disregarded in the face of Arthas' great passion for me. The two of us went everywhere together, did everything together, and were never apart. We were drunk on the elixir of love and the pleasure we shared, basking in each other's presence and vowing that our feelings would never weaken.
...Nothing lasts forever, though, and this all too brief interlude of joy soon came to an end.
King Terenas, having grown old and tired, decided it was time to retire and pass the throne to his son. Arthas was overjoyed and honored, and I was happy for him that his dream of ruling Lordaeron had finally come to pass. However, I don't think either one of us ever realized just how difficult running a country and, for that matter, an entire alliance could be. My husband and king was loaded with responsibilities at every turn, particularly with the New Horde's uprising and the death cults popping up all over the kingdom. It's a wonder he didn't go insane during those first few years, and in his desire to be everywhere and safeguard his people, the one person he couldn't be with was me.
I didn't begrudge him this. I knew that as the king of Lordaeron he had to fulfill his duties, but still...I never imagined how lonely being Lordaeron's queen would be. My days were filled with my own royal obligations such as greeting visiting dignitaries and nobles, running the household, organizing events, and keeping the kingdom running and happy while my husband struggled to keep the peace. Of all the many people I met while striving to be the best monarch I could be, though, there were so few I could talk to as myself rather than as the queen and fewer still who would talk to me and not the queen I had become. I was horrifyingly, terrifyingly alone.
Having children helped...for a little while. Arthas took even greater pains to remain in Lordaeron's capital, and nursing the young helped prevent me from realizing my loneliness. However, as time went by and more and more of my life was consumed by the demands of caring for our children and running our country, my resentment grew. There was no time left to practice magic and study, no time left to be me...there is no time left for anything other than being the mother, wife, and queen everyone wants...needs me to be. How dare they expect me to sacrifice everything that I enjoy, everything that I am...for them! Don't I deserve the chance to pursue my dreams and desires too? What's the point of living if I can't truly live?
And yet...I never revealed and probably will never reveal my inner turmoil to anyone. Really, who could I tell? The ladies of the court are vapid and simple, having no greater ambition than to support their husbands and raise children...or perhaps they simply hide their true feelings much like I do, their childhood dreams and aspirations long since turned to ashes and dust by harsh reality.
My prison is twofold, forged by my love for Arthas and sealed by my responsibilities as a queen, mother, and wife. From this, for me, there is no escape. Even if I were to somehow summon the strength and heartlessness to abandon my children and Arthas, my potential for magic, which once burned so brightly, is now barely a candle's flicker, ruined by nonuse and my burdened, weary soul. There is no place for me to run, and nobody for me to turn to.
I am Jaina Menethil, beloved Queen of Lordaeron, wife to King Arthas, and mother of five lovely children with a sixth on the way. The woman I once was, Jaina Proudmoore, who was so full of life and promise, is dead, and the only one left to remember and mourn for her is...me.
I hate what I've become, but now...there's nothing else I can possibly be.
"Jaina, is something troubling you?"
On the balcony outside the royal chambers, Jaina Menethil looked away from the city and citizenry that imprisoned her and turned to face her husband, King Arthas Menethil, the light of the kingdom who shone so purely and brightly that his radiance could pierce anything.
Anything, that is, except for the mask his wife wore.
"Of course not, dear. Everything is just fine," the Queen of Lordaeron answered with such convincing false cheerfulness that she could almost believe herself.
The moment passed, and Arthas resumed relating his hopes and fears to the woman he cherished. Amidst the discussion about the situation on Kalimdor with the signs of increasing ties between the New Horde and the Night Elves, the possibility that the High Elves might rejoin the Alliance, how much trust should be extended to Finnall Goldensword and her band of half-elves on Theramore particularly after what they'd done to Admiral Proudmoore, the continuing tensions with Gilneas, the Scourge in Northrend, and so much more that it felt at times like the weight of the world was on his shoulders, King Menethil reflected on how fortunate he was to have such an obliging, supportive wife. Although he wasn't home nearly as often as he'd like to be, his queen never complained and was always eager to do what she could to help him and his kingdom. She was everything he could possibly want, everything he could possibly need, and he loved her more than life because of this.
That night, with an unprotesting Jaina smothered and trapped by his loving embrace at his side, he slept the sleep of the innocent, unaware that he, his country, and his children were killing her softly.
Supplementary Author's Notes: On a messageboard I frequently visit, Mark Romaneck made a statement along the lines, "If Jaina had married Arthas, he wouldn't have fallen and the world would be better off," or something to that effect if I remember correctly. Anyway, this got me to thinking, would the world of Warcraft really be better off if Jaina had married Arthas? Of course, I can't answer this question since, if that had happened, there's no telling how much everything else would change as a consequence. Heck, the world might even be worse off if Jaina had married Arthas. However, assuming that Azeroth would be relatively the same or better because of this deviation in history, what would it mean to Jaina Proudmoore? As much as I may be a JainaxThrall fan (although I'm becoming increasingly fond of the SylvanasxThrall pairing, probably because of my Horde sympathies), I have a hard time imagining Jaina being truly happy in one of her known past or potential relationships, with the possible exception of Prince Kael'thas Sunstrider. Magic and knowledge appear to be her true loves, and could she be happy if she had to sacrifice them to be with somebody she cared for? Perhaps, but the other outcome, that she would not, is what this short monologue is about. I hope you have enjoyed (in the sense that stories like this can be enjoyed) this tale.
Contest Results: "Killing Her Softly" tied for second place...out of three entries. Considering the quality of the other two entered stories and the skill and effort that I think went into them, I can't complain, though. MagicalCow[GK]'s "Innocent Blood" and Sumiyoshi's "Ancients' Defense" are more than deserving of second and first place, respectively, and they have my congratulations.