So this one is long overdue. I've been stuck on it for awhile, just because I've been too tired lately to kick my writer's block. But it's finally finished!
I've been playing with a new story idea for Quae and Barraccus for a while now, and figured I'd kinda start it off now, so that's what the second part is about. I'll do more on it later.
Alanon stepped through the door into his room at the Hero's Welcome, and set his pack down with a sigh. A sigh that was quickly cut off when he saw who was waiting for him. "Hello, big brother," Quae said innocently from her seat on the edge of his bed, a mischievous grin on her face. "...Hello, Quae," he replied warily. "And how did you get here?" The grin grew wider. "Barraccus of course," she told him, and he sighed. "Well, what did you want, little sister?" he asked.
She didn't answer at first, instead gesturing at the door casually. A tendril of shadow detached itself from the darkened corner of the room, and nudged the door closed. Then Quae stood up, becoming much more businesslike. "I'm here about a certain paladin, and you," she said bluntly, and he blinked. "Arien and me? What has that got to do with you?" he asked rather testily. "Dear brother," she said. "How long are you two going to dance around each other? Do you even know how you feel about her yet? Whether you love her, or are content to be simply friends?"
Alanon blinked again, then stood up straighter, crossing his arms over his chest. "Why are you so concerned about it, Quae?" he asked. "Alanon," she answered. "Look at yourself. You've always been there for the rest of us. You practically raised Pitch and I. Light, I pretty much owe you my life now. Isn't it time you did something for yourself? You obviously care about her or you wouldn't be spending so much time out here with her, but then you worry that you're not doing your family duty. Give yourself a break."
He glared at her for just a few seconds longer, then gave up with another sigh. Moving to the edge of the bed, he sat down, and she settled back down next to him. "I can't help it, Quae," he said quietly. "For so long you all were my only concerns, and it's hard to just let it go." "I know, but you ought to try harder," she told him. "Let's start with the biggest question- do you love her?" He looked at her steadily for a bit before answering, "Yes." She smiled. "Good. Now we're getting somewhere. Anything in particular about her that attracts you?"
Alanon looked away, staring into space for several minutes before answering quietly, "After all the darkness I've seen, the wasted lives, and the horrors of this war, she's become my bright spot. When she's near I can forget all my problems for a little while, or at least I have someone to share them with. We fight so well together. She is fearless; she doesn't back down from anything. And, Quae, she understands! I explained everything I could think of to her, about being a druid and an elf, and she understood it. She even feels the same way. After so long, to finally find someone that accepts it... " He trailed off, his feelings plain on his face, and Quae smiled to herself.
"Well then, have you told her?" she asked him. He frowned slightly. "No, not yet." "And why not?" she pressed. "Are you going to stand by and wait for her to realize you're not a lost puppy, following her around? Have you even kissed her yet?" Alanon's hand went up to his cheek for a moment, seemingly of its own volition, before he stopped and blushed a little. "Well..." Quae's grin became suddenly all too knowing, and he returned to glaring at her. "Alright, brother. Peace," she said. "But why haven't you told her?" "Because I don't want her to just think she feels the same for me," he replied, with a stubborn set to his jaw. "Because I don't want to force her into anything more before she's ready. It has to be what she wants." "And how will you know that, unless you ask her?" Quae retorted, and he sighed. Again. "I don't know, Quae," he said quietly. "I just don't feel it's the right time yet."
Quae snorted softly, then patted his knee. "Well, I talked to her a bit when we were all at Scholomance. Maybe it will be the 'right time' soon." Alanon went perfectly still, though Quae didn't realize anything was wrong until he said, in a flat voice, "You did what?" Alarmed, she looked at him. He was staring straight ahead, not even looking at her, and the anger on his face was enough to make her glad he wasn't. She had forgotten why it was a bad idea to make a druid mad, especially one as old as he was. "I, uh, talked to her. Just a bit. You know, a little, um, girl talk. Nothing serious." She realized she was babbling and made herself stop, waiting rather anxiously for his next response.
He just sat there for a few long minutes; she could almost see him counting to ten in his head. Finally he took a deep breath, letting it out slowly, then turned to her, calmer now. "And what, exactly, did you 'talk' about?" he asked. "Well, I asked her what her interest in you was," she said slowly. "And I... uh, told her a story." "A story," he said, the flat tone returning. "And what story was that, little sister?" Now it was her turn for a deep breath. "Nothing about you," she said. "I told her about a foolish priestess who fell in love with a death knight, but waited to tell him until it was almost too late." Alanon blinked in surprise and stared at her; he knew very well who she was talking about. After a moment, however, his eyes narrowed. "Her interest in me? How is that your business, Quae?" "Oh, get over it, brother," she said, exasperated. "You may be perfectly happy avoiding the topic until the end of the world comes, but a few of us would like to see you actually happy before then." She paused and looked at him from the corner of her eyes. "Besides, aren't you at least a little curious?"
He continued staring at her for several more minutes before he finally glanced away. Taking a deep breath, then letting it out slowly, he turned back to Quae, one eyebrow raised. She couldn't quite keep a small smile from her face. "She's pretty well smitten, I think," she told him. "I believe if you did say something, it would be quite gladly received." Alanon did not reply, but it seemed that a weight had lifted; he suddenly seemed much more relaxed. "Well then," he said. "If you're done prying into my business, maybe it's my turn now." He looked at her again, pinning her with his gaze. "When are you going to tell Barraccus what you've been up to?"
Quae's face was carefully expressionless. "Whatever are you talking about, dear brother?" she said, but he snorted. "Come on, Quae. I know exactly what you're doing, and it shouldn't be kept a secret. I'm not going to tell you to stop; in fact I'm willing to help you if I can. But he needs to know, too. You two are growing too close for a secret like this."
Quae held out for a second longer, then her face fell. "I know that," she said quietly. "But I'm not quite ready to tell him yet. I need more information; it's bad enough I'm getting my own hopes up, I can't let him start hoping too if it turns out I'm wrong." She sighed. "I will tell him soon, I promise- but not yet, please." Alanon studied her carefully, then nodded. "So long as you do it soon. And remember, Quae, if you don't tell him, I will." She nodded back, reluctantly, before standing up.
"I have to get back now, he's waiting for me," she said, and he nodded again. "Just remember, little sister," he said softly. She bent down to hug him quickly, then with a final glance, she left.
Quae found Barraccus near the portals. He turned quickly at her approach, relief obvious in his face and voice. "All set now?" he asked her, and she nodded. "Ready to get back," she said as she took his hand and started toward their portal. "Are you ever going to tell me what you two always talk about?" he asked teasingly. He was startled when she suddenly stopped and looked at him searchingly. After a moment she grinned at him. "Maybe," she replied, teasing back, then pulled him onward. Together they stepped through the portal back to Outland.