For reasons still not entirely clear to me, I was recently inspired to write this, a romance for what I consider to be a pretty unlikely NPC couple: Jaheira and CN Anomen
Standard disclaimers apply; I invented Danira, the Bhaalspawn in this story. All the other characters are owned and operated by Bioware, except for Kelsey the sorcerer, who is the invention of Jason Compton.
Comments are, of course, welcome.Chapter 1
Jaheira watched the dancers spinning across the dance floor and wished she could join in the merriment. The spires of Suldanesselar were lovely, and with the defeat of Irenicus there was much to celebrate, but somehow, she could not bring herself to join the celebration. Ah, Khalid, how you would have loved it here.
Still, it was nice to see the others enjoying themselves. Danira and Kelsey had been dancing non-stop for at least at hour, and Minsc was twirling Imoen around in a way that looked positively life threatening for the other dancers. But she was growing tired of fending off prospective dance partners and was considering retreating to her room when Anomen approached her.
"Lady Jaheira!" Anomen cried, obviously in high good spirits. "I see you are the only one of our group left unpartnered, would you care to try the dance floor with me?"
"Some flatterer you are, to admit that you only asked me because there was no one else to ask!" Jaheira retorted.
The barb failed to puncture his good mood. He dropped to one knee in front of her chair and clasped her hand. "You wound me, Jaheira, to suggest that I meant to insult one as fair as you! I entreat you, forgive my clumsy tongue and say you will dance with me!" Anomen cried, kissing her hand with a dramatic flourish.
Amused in spite of herself, she rolled her eyes and said, "All right, Anomen, one dance, if you promise not to do that again."
Anomen grinned and led her into the fray. It was a fast, whirling dance, and soon they lost themselves in the twisting pattern of dancers. And although no human could hope to match the grace of the elves that danced around them, Anomen was surprisingly nimble for such a large man. Despite her melancholy mood, Jaheira found herself thoroughly enjoying the experience.
When the music ended and they stopped to catch their breath. Anomen turned to her, his eyes alight. "Jaheira, that was splendid! Oh, surely, you have time for one more!" He must have seen the hesitation in her eyes, for he added with an impish smile, "Unless you'd like me to kiss your hand again."
"I don't know what's gotten into you tonight, Anomen, but I suppose one more wouldn't hurt." She rolled her eyes dramatically. "The things I do for the group!"
"Your sacrifice is noted, my lady." Anomen chuckled, as he led her back to the floor. This time, it was a slower, more stately dance and Jaheira could see that the couples around them were quick to take advantage of the situation. Certainly, Danira and Kelsey wasted no time pulling each other close. Jaheira's own dance began sedately enough, but as they danced on, she became increasingly—and disturbingly—aware of the feel of Anomen's body against hers.
Anomen pulled her closer to speak to her, his breath warm on her cheek. "You are a superb dancer, Jaheira. Thank you for agreeing to dance with me again." He did not release her and she did not protest, luxuriating in the warmth of his embrace. Gods, I haven't had a man hold me this way since Khalid died! I suppose it won't hurt to enjoy it for a little while.
She relaxed against Anomen's broad chest, his heartbeat surprisingly rapid under the soft fabric of his tunic. Unbidden, her mind turned to thoughts of what it would be like to be kissed again, and touched again, and feel her own heart quicken in response to a lover's caress.
When the song finally ended and Anomen released her, the spell was broken. Aghast at what had happened, she felt she must get away as quickly as possible. Silvanus knows what foolish thing I might do if I stayed! She murmured an apology to a surprised Anomen and dashed off the dance floor, planning to flee to her room. Unfortunately, she had forgotten that the dance floor was raised slightly, and she stumbled on the unexpected step down. Only a quick grab from Anomen saved Jaheira from a nasty fall, but he could not save her from a painfully sprained ankle.
"Jaheira! Are you all right, my lady? By Helm, I see that you are not! Please, sit down so I can tend your ankle."
"That will not be necessary, I can heal it myself when I return to my room." Pulling herself free from Anomen's grip, Jaheira began to hobble slowly toward the door.
Anomen, not encumbered by a sprained ankle, was easily able to outpace her and interpose himself between Jaheira and the door. "Jaheira, please. It is clearly very painful for you walk on it, and you know as well as I do that you might cause further injury if you do so." He gently but firmly guided her to a nearby chair.
"All right, if you insist." Jaheira replied, rather ungraciously.
"I do. It is the least I can do, since I feel I am partially responsible." He eased the slipper off her foot and began to examine the injured ankle. Her ankle was already swollen, but his hands were gentle and his touch light. "Though I must admit it has been some time since a woman has fled my presence quite so precipitously." He glanced up a Jaheira, hoping for some sort of reaction. She did not respond.
"Well, it's just a superficial sprain. Painful, no doubt, but there seems to be no underlying damage to concern us." He placed his hands on her ankle, closed his eyes, and sent a brief entreaty to Helm. A silver glow surrounded his hands and the injured ankle, and the swelling disappeared. "As good as new, my lady, though I would be careful not to put too much stress on it for the next few days.""I believe I do know how to care for an injured ankle, Anomen. Thank you for your assistance. Good night." Jaheira replied haughtily before sweeping out of the room on her newly healed ankle, leaving behind a very puzzled Anomen.
A half hour later, finishing his last drink of the evening, Anomen was still puzzled and becoming increasingly irritated. Try as he might, he could think of nothing he had said or done that would explain her behavior. She had given every indication that she was enjoying herself until she had suddenly and inexplicably decided to leave, or more rightly, run away after their second dance. While it was true that they had never been friends; indeed, she had regarded him with barely concealed contempt when he first joined the group, he felt that more recently they had achieved at least some level of mutual tolerance and respect. What had happened to make her react that way?
Anomen took the last swallow of his drink and set the glass down on the table. He had come to a decision. "I will ask her."
Danira returned to the table and found a comfortable spot on Kelsey's lap. She noticed they were alone. "Oh, I see Anomen's gone. Did he go up to his room?"
"I'm not sure, honey. He definitely had something on his mind, and when he got up to leave he said something about 'facing a wounded lioness'."
"That's odd. Do you know what he was talking about?"
"Not a clue. I think it's one of those things that is destined to forever remain a mystery." Kelsey laughed.