Epilogue

Months later, Laina found herself in the bustling streets of the Dalaran market. The druids had been pleased to hear news of the world they all suspected was Argus, but had not made any immediate plans. As for the dwarf, news of her (or Jerlis's) survival had somehow preceded her, and she had found his stall in Shattrath deserted. A nearby gnomish vendor told her he'd left merely days before, he didn't know where to. Northrend, he thought.

She hadn't seen Jerlis. She only hoped he survived.

Laina had been both relieved and saddened when her menses arrived shortly after. Relieved that she would not be bearing any misbegotten demon spawn, but saddened that she would not bear Jerlis's child. This surprised her – she had never considered herself the parenting type. The knowledge that her line would end with her had never bothered her. But the thought of raising Jerlis's child was oddly appealing. Halfbreeds hadn't been uncommon between their people, prior to their joining the Horde. Some high elves still remained in the Alliance. She was a free woman; no one would have questioned it. But it didn't happen, and her grief blindsided her. She'd taken no other lovers since, and even months afterwards she found herself still thinking of him, of what might have been.

She'd gone to Northrend, following any trace of rumor about that dwarf. That was how she'd ended up here, in Dalaran. She walked the market, hoping to find better gear and maybe rumors. Suddenly, she froze.

Across the alley, two robed blood-elf men walked, deep in discussion. One she had never seen before, the other… was Jerlis. He had filled out, and his hair was now blonde and in short, swept-back spikes, but it was unmistakably him. He glanced her way, and stopped in his tracks, staring across the crowd, a stricken look on his face. The other elf had kept walking, noticing a few seconds later that Jerlis no longer followed. He walked back and said something to Jerlis. She couldn't hear the tone, but she could imagine – the other elf had a pretty clear "what the fuck" face. Jerlis lifted a hand to still his friend, his gaze never leaving her. She saw him say something to the other elf, who threw his hands in the air in a clear dismissive motion. Then Jerlis threaded his way through the crowd to her. She became aware that she had been holding her breath.

"Jerlis! You're alive!" she said breathlessly as he approached. Before she could react, the mage had swept her unresisting into a solid embrace. She was suddenly glad she'd come to the market in clothes and left her plate in the inn. The feel of his body against her own was beyond wonderful.

"I'm glad to see you too," his voice was rich with amusement. They pulled back and looked at each other, arms still around one another. He lifted one wavy lock of glossy black hair that was covering her face away. "I told you you'd look good with longer hair" he said with a mischievous smirk. She grinned, and then sobered briefly.

"I was worried," she said. "Telaar was preparing for a strike on Halaa when I arrived. And then when I got to Shattrath that dwarf was gone."

He gritted his teeth. "He'd gone when I arrived too. The Halaa contingent sent me to Garadar on the first wyvern they could find once I told them my story. I spent a week in Garadar recuperating. I missed the raid." He smiled briefly at that. "But it's clear that someone took note of our living status and tipped off the dwarf. I would dearly love to know who. We owe them some revenge." A dangerous look passed through his eyes, one which was undoubtedly echoed in hers. She nodded curtly, mouth grim.

"He's in Northrend somewhere. I think he's working for the Scourge." She said.

"I'd heard something similar. It's part of the reason I'm here." They were silent for a while, gazing into each other's faces, both searching for something and not really knowing what it was. Their arms were still around each other. Finally, Jerlis smiled. "You know, I've missed you. Not a day has gone by that I haven't wondered what became of you, hoped you were safe." He said.

Laina swallowed, feeling her heart flutter. "I know how you feel," she managed, "I've been thinking of you too."

His smile faded and he stared deep in her eyes. She wondered what he was thinking, and almost lost herself in his green depths. Then he spoke again. "It's unfortunate that the Nerissa Accords fought so hard for by Nerissa and Ferruk don't extend to humans," he began. She gave him a puzzled look and he continued. "Those are the legal precedents that permit members of the Horde to marry regardless of race." At the mention of marriage, her heart flip-flopped. She felt suddenly lightheaded. "However, I'm affiliated with the Kirin Tor now, and they don't really give a crap if an elf marries a human." He broke into a sudden huge grin.

"Jerlis…?" she said weakly, not sure what he was saying.

"I meant it when I said I couldn't stop thinking of you. I've worried over you, missed you, kept hoping I might see your face in the crowd, I even hoped I might see you wandering around out there, doing whatever heroic acts you must surely be up to. I swore to myself if I ever found you again, this time I wouldn't let you go. No matter what our people are currently doing. At least here in Northrend all of us can unite in the struggle against the Scourge, and in Dalaran no one cares who loves who. I want…" he stopped and took a breath, then looked her squarely in the eyes. "I want to marry you, Laina, if you will have me."

Lips parted in astonishment, she gazed back at him, seeing the naked vulnerability, the incredible courage asking this had taken. Thoughts flitted through her mind, implications. Ostensibly their people were enemies, and he was an elf, destined to live a far greater time than she…But, she realized that he was right. As part of the Kirin Tor, and as a warrior against the Scourge, he was free to love her. And she was free to love him. And there was magic that could extend her lifespan – again, the Kirin Tor could help with that. Mouth dry, she said, "I'll have you, Jerlis, by the Light, I'd be a fool not to!"

At her words, the mage whooped, squeezing her tightly and leaning in to kiss her. She closed her eyes and kissed him back, passionately. Neither of them cared that they were drawing odd looks from the passing crowd.

They had already walked a long road through Hell, and had emerged, survivors. They had earned their happiness.