Since Frozen Sun is temporarily on hold while I rewrite evil chapter 14, I thought I'd post this. It was written a while ago but I forgot to put it up.

This is a companion story to Goblin Debts. It details how Duchene and Merridy first met, set a year or two before the events of Goblin Debts.

WARNING: There is a depiction of domestic abuse in this fic, which may be triggering for some. This is STRONGLY rated M. There is also lemons, of the oral variety. And alcoholism. In general, this is not a fic dealing with the nicer side of life (in Azeroth or otherwise).

Merridy suppressed her excitement as she took the rooftops back to the little apartment she shared with her boyfriend, Amar. It had been a good night; the contents of her packs would fence for enough money to pay the rent for six months. Maybe she could even buy those jumping boots she'd heard about from Sly Garrett. Amar would be thrilled. She dropped down into the alley and fished her key out of her bags.

But something was wrong as she entered the grungy flat. The room was dark – usually Amar had candles lit for her return. Usually he was up waiting for her. She could still see – she was a night elf after all – and what she could make out in the darkness shocked her. Where was all her stuff? Where was Amar? All she saw here was the shoddily made furniture that had come with the room. She lit the candle that still remained on the table quickly, and the poor light confirmed it. The apartment was empty. Was she even in the right apartment? But no – her key had worked. She put her bags on the table and looked around.

The sound of the door opening made her whirl. "Amar!" she exclaimed, relief flooding her voice. The night elf man stood in the entrance, the dim candlelight bathing his reddish purple form. He was wearing a sleeveless vest which hung open, displaying his fine chest. She'd always loved his muscular chest. Black swashbuckler's britches were belted with a red sash from which the hilts of two daggers were visible. "What's going on?" she asked, smiling at him.

But he did not return the smile. Instead, the purple mutton-chops on his jaw twitched as he grimaced at her. "Get out, Merridy. We're done."

Shock flowed through her at his words. Done? But just this morning they'd fucked like animals. She'd even let him have her ass. They couldn't possibly be done. Where would she go? Where was her stuff? She loved him, damnit!

"What do you mean?" Merridy squeaked, mouth gone dry.

"Are you stupid, bitch? I said we're over. Get out!" Amar yelled at her, taking a few aggressive steps towards her. She flinched. Something was wrong, so very wrong, and she couldn't make sense of any of this.

"But I love you!" she insisted. With a wordless roar he closed the distance between them and struck her. She was not prepared, had she been expecting this she could have reacted, allowing her rogue training and instincts to take over and avoid the blow, but she had no idea this was coming. She fell to the floor, hand going to her numb cheek. She tasted blood.

Before she could fully comprehend what was going on, he hit her again. Stars exploded in her vision. Her survival instincts kicked in, and she rolled aside, trusting her long familiarity with the room to help her avoid collision with the furniture while her vision faded from bright light to darkness, and then to normal again.

Amar was still attacking. She avoided one blow, only to be caught by the next and flung into the wall. Her slight and agile form was such an advantage when it came to theft, but it could simply not stand up to Amar's brutal pounding. He had the advantage of surprise and strength, and he was putting it to use. It was all she could do to keep dodging, and the continued blows and impacts were hampering her one advantage – her reflexes.

She managed to make it around him and made a lunge for the door. Too slow, he grabbed her teal ponytail and jerked her to her feet, then flung her at the half-open door. She had a moment to thank her luck that the door opened outwards rather than inwards as she hit it. It gave way as she skidded painfully into the alley.

But Amar was not finished. As she painfully tried to pick herself up, he grabbed her ponytail again and kicked her in the kidneys. Pain unlike any she had ever experienced flowed through her, paralyzing her and strangling her voice so that she couldn't even squeak out a protest. She was flung against the alley railing. Dimly, she heard a crunch as her chest hit the wood.

What happened next was a painful blur. Merridy had stopped being able to move on her own after the kidney shot. Amar beat her mercilessly, breaking ribs and other bones, seeming to delight in the pain he was causing. He even pulled one of his damn knives, cutting her up. Finally, he let her slump into the alleyway. She could not move, her vision was fading in and out, and her ears were ringing. Through the tinnitus she heard his boots as he left her lying there.

"Oh there you are. I was beginning to wonder where you were, Amar. Did you finish your business?" It was a woman's voice.

"Yep." Amar's voice was light, as though nothing had happened. He spat in Merridy's direction. "Come on, let's get on that boat. Captain said we sail with the tide."

The footsteps faded until they were inaudible. Merridy choked a sob, which sent lances of agony through her broken ribs. The tears flowed freely down her numb cheeks. She still could not move her body without extreme pain. She would no doubt die here, unmourned and unnoticed, her blood seeping into the filthy wood of the alley deck.

Duchene left the tavern, masking his inebriation with only a slight stumble as he walked. Drunkenness was unbecoming of a priest. Oh well. It wasn't like anyone in Booty Bay gave a shit – they were all too preoccupied with their own iniquitous lives. That suited him just fine. He felt no urge to proselytize here. Obviously, he still believed in the Light, but the strictures of church and civil society meant less and less to him each passing year of his continued unlife. An unlife that kept him alone and separate from others, even his own kind. So he drank. Who cared? He didn't. He didn't have anything better to do than putz around Booty Bay, letting money which he never really spent on anything other than booze pile up in his bank account from his auction house ventures.

He paused for a moment, swaying slightly on his feet. Take the deck, or take the alley? The deck was a longer trip. And it was high up, and if he fell off, well… the consequences might not be pleasant. He wasn't sure he could swim in this state, to be honest. The alley was pitch black, but that didn't hinder one of the forsaken. It was a shorter trip. And he didn't think any of the various cutthroats and thugs that made their homes nearby would bother him – he'd patched up enough of them after drunken brawls and other mishaps that they mostly knew him by now, and left him alone. Alley it would be.

He hadn't made more than a few paces in the darkness when something he had assumed was a pile of garbage twitched slightly and moaned. He stopped dead in his tracks. It moaned again. Suddenly sober, he leaned in for a closer look. By the Light, that was a woman, and she was badly wounded! Someone had done a number on that poor night elf. Pity filled him. Undead or not, he was still a priest, called to succor the wounded and helpless of the world. And in Booty Bay, race didn't matter.

He knew if he left her here, she would die before the night was out. Most likely, she would die within an hour. He couldn't do that, leave an innocent to die. Well, she lived in Booty Bay, so she was likely no innocent, but still… Gently, he gathered her into his arms, taking care not to jar her too much. She had broken ribs for sure, and there were signs that other bones were broken. Several cuts on her body leaked blood onto his robes, he paid the blood no mind. He could get new robes. She had vicious bruises everywhere, including one rather stunning shiner. He thought her jaw might be broken.

"Gug ugga" she said weakly, trying to tell him something completely incomprehensible. Yep, broken jaw.

"Shh, don't speak. I'm taking you back to my apartment and I'm going to heal you. You're going to be alright." He said. Her head lolled against his chest, and he heard the broken bones in her jaw grind. He suppressed a wince of sympathy.

Wiry muscles creaked as he struggled to carry the limp elf down the alley. Fortunately, he was strong enough, but it did take some time. He focused a renew spell on her, enough to keep her alive until he got her to the safety of his place, where he could begin to heal her in earnest.

Getting the door open with his arms full of night elf was a bit of a struggle, but he managed. The door to his room was likewise difficult, but soon enough he was in the room, and he placed the gravely injured woman on his bed. He reached over to the nightstand and fingered the magic orb there, flooding the room with light. The light revealed that his previous assessment was correct – she would not have lived much longer if he hadn't brought her here. Blood seeped onto his bed, but he didn't care.

He closed his eyes and focused on the Light that dwelt inside him, bringing it to his call, bringing it to the aid of the poor, battered woman before him. It surged forth, flowing from within down his arms and pooling at his hands. Golden eyes opened, he watched as the light flowed into her, his gentle touch on her transmitting the brilliant healing magic to her body. The vicious cuts closed, the bruises faded. Ribs, limbs and jaw righted themselves with nauseating (well, if he could still feel nausea, at least) crunching noises and became whole again. Her shallow breathing eased. Silver glimmered at him through half-lidded eyes, which fluttered and then closed. She was asleep, and she would live out the night. He had healed her.

Exhaustion hit him then, and the intoxication which had not gone away, merely been temporarily banished by sober necessity. Maybe it wouldn't hurt to sleep. He could probably force himself to stay away – he was forsaken and they didn't need to sleep – but… why bother? A little sleep would do him good. Trouble was, he only had the one bed. It wasn't the smallest bed in the world, but it wasn't the largest either – there was room for two bodies in there, but it would be a tight fit. Oh well. Duchene tapped the magic light off. He was careful not to jar the night elf out of her sleep as he climbed over her, and then lay beside her, arms crossed across his chest. He closed his eyes, and allowed sleep to overcome him.

Merridy woke up. That alone surprised her. Her last coherent memories were of lying in the alleyway, knowing in her heart of hearts that she was going to die. Then she was surprised to realize she felt no pain. Her lungs functioned perfectly, her limbs responded when she told them to move, and her jaw didn't hurt at all. She sat up, scratching dried blood away from her unmarred skin, trying to figure out what the hell happened.

Light streamed in through a small window, dust motes sparkling in the sunbeam. She was in a bed. The room was modest, but comfortable. Then she realized she wasn't alone in the bed. Lying beside her as though laid out for burial was a dead man. The corpse opened its eyes, yellowish corpselight glowing as the orbs fixed on her. Not a dead man, an undead man! She felt herself blanch. And then she noticed all the blood on his robes – was that her blood? Was that her blood crusting the linen sheets of the bed? What was going on? Panic filled her, and she stiffened, ready to bolt.

A strong, wiry hand gripped her wrist. "Hold on, you're safe here." The undead said. His voice wasn't as gravelly and harsh as some undead she'd heard. In fact, it was very fluid, mellow. He must have been a fantastic speaker before the plague.

"What—?" she gasped, staring at him with fright and confusion.

"I found you in the alley and brought you back here. I healed you. You're going to be ok now. Don't worry." he said, sitting up. "How did you get so beat up? You would have died if I hadn't found you when I did."

Memory flooded her, and tears filled her eyes. She sniffled, gasping back a sob. Amar had left her for dead, there was no doubt in her mind that he had intended that she not live the night. She was surprised to feel a comforting grip on her shoulder as she wept.

"You're going to be ok now, girl." He repeated.

"Amar, my boyfriend, he… he beat me." She said. And then, out came the whole story, punctuated with sniffles and tears. His hand didn't leave her shoulder. She ignored the deadly-looking talons, appreciating the touch and gesture for the comfort it was meant to give.

"What's your name?" the undead asked after she finished.

"Merridy," she whispered.

"Merridy, I'm Duchene." He said.

"Duchene? You're that priest that lives on the second level, the one that's always d—," she broke off suddenly, but apparently he knew what she was going to say.

"The one that's always drunk? Yeah, that's me. I should really stop that habit." He sighed. "It saved your life last night, though. I decided to take the alley back and I found you." The hand on her shoulder left as he got up and slid past her on the bed, going to the dresser on the other side of the room. Her thoughts still numb and dull with grief, she watched as he pulled off his filthy, blood-crusted robes, and tossed them to the ground. Seeing his bare chest, she averted her eyes, though he didn't seem to mind her gaze – he seemed to ignore it all together.

She watched him out of the corners of her eyes. A drunk or not, he'd obviously taken care of his body. She couldn't see the lower parts as they were still clothed in trousers, but his upper parts were just fine. His shoulders, spine and ribs were still covered with skin and sinewy flesh. Only his elbows were really bony and exposed, and then only a little bit of tough muscle, tendon and bone was showing at the joint. He also didn't slouch as much as most forsaken she'd seen. And his ear-length black hair was shiny and kempt, not as lank and dead-looking as she would have expected. He must have been a fine specimen of humanity in life, she thought.

As he dug in his dresser for a new robe, she checked her own self and was saddened to discover that her bags were gone. That's right, she had put them on the table, right before Amar… She had no money to give Duchene as repayment for saving her life. She felt a flash of frustration – she might be a thief but she still had honor. But wait, maybe she did have a way to repay him… She licked her lips grimly as she watched him shrug on a fresh robe. He wasn't that bad looking, really he wasn't. She rose, and sauntered over to him, her decision renewed with the ease of movement and lack of pain she felt in doing that simple thing. She knew damn well that she would have been crippled for life if she somehow managed to live through the night.

Surprise was writ clearly across his face as he turned towards her. He opened his mouth to ask something, and she pressed her body against his and her lips against his mouth, silencing him. At first he stiffened and didn't react, but soon his own tongue was responding to her probing kiss. His arms came around her back and one hand stroked her teal hair while the other caressed the small of her back. He returned the kiss with vigor, and she was surprised to discover that he was a good kisser.

After a few moments in the embrace they ended the kiss. Now that she had committed to this course of action, it really didn't seem too bad, actually. Maybe she was even a little excited. Her pulse was racing, and she was breathing hard.

"What was that for?" Duchene asked.

"You saved my life. I want to show you my thanks." She said. He stiffened again.

"You don't need to pay me," he said hoarsely. "I'm a priest. It's my duty to help those in need." He avoided her gaze, clearly uncomfortable. His hands left her. But she could tell he wanted her. There was a bulge in his trousers that announced that as clearly as if he'd stood on the rooftop and shouted it out.

"I know you've visited whores. Talk travels in this town. How is this any different? I want to repay you, and right now this is the only way I have." She insisted, pressing in to him. He backed away and she pressed forward again, continuing until he was pressed against the wall. She thought if he could sweat he would be sweating now. She could see the conflict in his face.

"That's different," he grated, sounding strained, "you're not a whore. I didn't save you because I wanted you to repay me… like… this... I saved you because you were dying." But she would not take no for an answer. She slid a hand down to his crotch and gripped his member through the silk of his trousers. It jumped in her hand and he inhaled sharply.

"I want to, kay?" she said, insistently. "Duchene, let me do this. I know you want it. This is proof…" she gave his member a squeeze, causing it to jump again, "enough."

He let out a ragged breath. "No you don't, Merridy. I have a problem."

"I've heard about your 'problem'," she said, unconcerned, "I don't care. I'm going to suck you off, and you can shield me when you come if you want – you're a priest and I know you can do that. But I'm doing this and you're going to enjoy it." Her tone brooked no argument. Apparently something about this situation was exciting to him, because if anything, he was harder in her hands after she said that. Before he could protest further, she knelt and deftly slid his trousers down. His robe was already open. His hairless grey member swung into view, erect and proud.

He didn't smell rotten, thank Elune. He smelled musky, with a bitter undertone. Bitterness, the legacy of the broken lives and dreams of those who had become forsaken. She spared a moment's pity for him – what dreams had been shattered by the plague? Who or what had he been before undeath took him? There was no gossip on that, no speculation.

Merridy leaned forward, mouth open, eyes half-lidded, and ran her tongue down his length in a slow, sensual movement. At her touch, he moaned, and she smiled. Apparently he'd decided to enjoy this after all. She turned her silvery eyes to meet his. He looked almost astonished, it was actually kind of sweet. She knew from the town gossip that this wasn't something he got often. She never thought of herself as a whore, merely… free with her affections, though while she had been with Amar, she had curbed that. Amar… how could he have done this? Enough of that.

Duchene shuddered under her touch, reaching a hand down to caress her neck. His claws sliced through the twist of yarn binding her ponytail, freeing her lush teal hair to fall over her shoulders. Cupping his balls in her hands, she tossed her hair alluringly before running her tongue up the raphe, the thin line that ran up the centre of his balls. She wiggled the tip of her tongue just under his frenulum, the sensitive point where the glans met the shaft. He moaned, moisture beading at the slit.

Her hot lips on the tip of his member brought another moan from him, his dick pulsing in her mouth. She tongued the slit, lapping up the slick fluid gathered there. Then with one long slurp, she licked at his dick like it was a rare treat. The muscles in her throat flexed visibly as she undulated her tongue, suctioning the back of her throat against his head. The flow of fluid increased as he pushed towards her.

"Oh Light, Merridy, not so fast…" she heard him say as he caressed her hair. She smiled around his cock and pulled back, leaving her lips pursed around the very tip. Through her sultry gaze she saw him close his eyes slowly as he groaned in pleasure. It must have been a while since the last time for him.

She switched, moving her hand to grasp his slick cock while she licked town to his grey skinned balls. They were smooth and tight, and she felt the skin ripple under her tongue. She pumped the shaft with her hands, using his own slick precum as lubricant. He was thrusting slowly into her hand.

Merridy grinned wickedly as she slipped a finger into her mouth, then slid it below his balls and along his perineum. She ran her finger around the rim of his puckered bud slowly as she licked his dick. She sucked on his head gently, catching the small spurt as she carefully inserted the wet finger inside. She gave him a moment to adjust before she slid it deeper in, her thumb pressed against the corresponding sensitive spot under his balls. She slurped noisily and took him deeper in her mouth.

"Ughn," he groaned, "if you continue that, this will be over all too soon."

Smiling mischievously was difficult when her mouth was full of cock, but Merridy managed anyway. She kept her finger where it was, but didn't move it. Slowly, she sucked him deeper into her mouth, until he was pressed against the back of her throat. She shifted the angle of her head, catching his eyes with her own as she got him past, gagging only slightly, which made him whimper with desire.

She swallowed the thick mixture of her own saliva and his precum, and resumed the gentle stroking of her finger inside him. Was it her imagination, or was the sunlight flowing into the room growing dimmer? The rumors must be true then. He was close, she could tell in the dark grey flush of his cheeks and upper body, the harsh breathing which was now noticeable, and the slow, involuntary thrusting into her hot mouth. She accepted his pushing, allowing him deep in her throat.

"Oh Light, I'm going to—" he gasped suddenly as she pressed her finger against the sensitive organ inside him. He gestured suddenly and light surrounded her. She slurped mightily as he pushed hard in her mouth, his twitching member sending the first stream of cum down her throat. It was suddenly pitch black in the room. He groaned, a sound of mixed strain and ecstasy as cum flooded her throat and mouth. She swallowed the salty, bitter fluid, trying not to choke.

His talons were tight in her hair and he was pressed hard against her mouth. Shadows hissed around her, finally penetrating and overwhelming the shield. They flowed through her body as she milked him. They weren't painful, thank Elune. Merridy endured, sucking hard. Duchene had earned at least this small pleasure.

With the softening of his member, light began to return to the room. She pulled off his dick, ignoring the trail of fluid that linked her lips to his tip. She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand, and rose. He was avoiding her gaze, clearly ashamed – not of her but of himself. That wouldn't do. What she did here, she did ungrudgingly.

"I'm sorry…" he began. She grasped his chin and forced him to look her in the eyes, then kissed him, eyes open, until he finally kissed back.

"Don't be," she said softly. "I wanted to do that, kay? Just this once is ok."

He lowered his gaze, but this time there was not the same measure of shame. "Thank you," he said quietly as he pulled her close to his body. She accepted his embrace. She didn't mind the closeness, and he obviously needed it.

Merridy stayed with him for a few weeks while she recovered, emotionally and financially, from Amar's assault. Duchene had seen to her physical recovery, and he had no problem providing her with a place to stay until she could get back on her feet. She grew to like him a great deal, but she wouldn't sleep with him. She hadn't minded the shadows that one time, but it wasn't an experience she was eager to repeat. He didn't mind.

As she regained her characteristic happy-go-lucky approach to life, his depression and alcoholism bothered her more and more. Merridy was an expert on poisons, as any good rogue should be, and had furthered that knowledge with significant alchemical and herb skill. She didn't know if undead organs would suffer as much as those of the less dead, but anyone drinking that much alcohol was bound to feel the consequences sooner or later. She felt a sense of loyalty to him, as her saviour and friend.

Finally, the day after she moved back out into her own place (rented with money she preferred not to tell the priest how she acquired, for he would likely have moral objections, the poor dear), she came back to his place armed with a solution. "You're killing yourself." She said.

He snorted at that. "I'm undead. What is there left to kill?"

"Seriously, Duchene, you need to cut back, or stop altogether. The liquor will be the end of you."

"Who would miss me?" the priest grated.

"I would, for one. And not just because you saved my life. You've become my friend too, kay? I don't want to watch you pickle your insides. Old man, the world would be a worse place without you."

Duchene was silent for a long moment, then he sighed. Merridy saw him close his eyes and lean his head on one taloned hand. "You're probably right," he said after a moment. "But after this much time, I don't know if I could dry out. I hate to say it, Merridy, but when I start to sober up, I feel even more like dying – for good – than when I'm drunk."

"I can help with that." she said, and pulled a small bottle from her pack. "This is an old secret. A mixture of steelbloom, goldthorn, and kingsblood, in just the right amounts, with a tiny bit of fadeleaf. All together like this it's called soberweed. You take three drops – no more, no less – of this tincture every day in the morning and in the night, kay? It'll help with the hangovers, and it'll make it so that if you do drink, you'll feel so sick you'll never want to try it again. Take it for one month. When you stop, you'll be able to drink small amounts, but there'll always be a residue in your system. You'll never be able to drink like you've been doing now." She placed the bottle in front of him. "Consider it, old man. I meant it when I said I'd miss you if you died."

He didn't look at her. She turned and left the apartments. But she smiled a secret smile when, lurking outside his door, she heard the scrape of his chair as he moved, and knew that he'd taken the bottle. A life for a life, hope for hope. It was a fair trade.