Sitting there on the grass, for a time all she could do was think. She wanted so desperately to help Borænin. But maybe the enormous Draenei was right. Maybe all she could do was be there. Was it enough? How could it possibly be? She sighed and pulled her knees to her chest for warmth. the tide was pulling back out and large creatures that almost resembled walruses climbed up onto the rocks. She wondered to herself what it might be like to care only for eating and sleeping in the sunlight.
Her fingers traced lightly over the petals of a blue flower that seemed to grow in abundance here. She wondered to herself if Borænin might find them a pleasing surprise to see them when he rose from bed. Her daydreaming was interrupted by a soft footstep behind her on the grass. She rose carefully to her feet.
“Sellynna,” he called to her softly. “I awoke and you were gone.”
She bowed before him smiling faintly. “Hello, Borænin. I came outside to get a little air.”
“Do you want me to leave you alone?”
She shook her head. “Would you,” she whispered. Taking a moment to bolster her courage, she started again. “Would you like to sit?” She gestured to the grassy space around them.
A tender smile touched his lips. “I would.” He settled onto the grass and patted to spot beside him which she took. “Have you been watching the sea?”
“And those odd creatures over there,” she replied, pointing to the rocks. Flopped here and there, something akin to a walrus lay sunning themselves. Smaller crustaceans scuttled about on the sand below.
“The crabs or the big lumbering things?”
“The larger creatures.”
“They look dangerous.”
Sellynna chuckled. “I would imagine if you upset them, they would be.” She glanced over to catch him still smiling, holding out a hand for hers. She took it, squeezing gently. “Speaking of big things. I met the…let’s see fifth? Sixth person from the House?”
Borænin arched an eyebrow, looking over at her. “More interrogations?”
“Not as such,” she reassured him. “He is the House Counselor.”
He furrowed his brow. “What did he want? And what does this have to do with big things?”
“The man is by far the largest Draenei I have ever seen,” she explained.
Borænin eyes widened. “Draenei are already large.”
“I am fairly certain if he slipped and sat on me I would be flattened.”
He smiled faintly. His fingers laced together with hers. “And what did he want?”
“To talk. To see how I am feeling with everything. Says that is his job.” She shrugged.
“I thought so as well. But, he was nice. Though speaking to him took some getting used to. His Common is…halting. And he refers to himself in the third person all the time. Sutrakarre.”
The Hierarch furrowed his brow, then reached over and plucked one of the blue flowers close by. “How strange.” He reached up and tucked the flower into her hair. “That blue is beautiful on you,” he murmured, offering her a small smile until her eyes went wide and she blushed. Borænin pulled back immediately. “I’m sorry.”
“No…it’s not that,” she whispered gently.
“I am surprised, that’s all. Very happily surprised,” she reassured him, squeezing his hand gently.
Borænin looked slightly sheepish. “All right…I hope that’s good.”
“I did say happily, Borænin.” Her words may have been chiding, but her tone and smile spoke quite the opposite.
“Sorry, I am self conscious.”
“You don’t have to be. Not with me.” Sellynna reached over and placed her hand against his cheek.
“I’m trying,” he said quietly. Borænin closed his eyes and leaned into it.
“I am not complaining at all.” She ran her thumb up and down a few times, drawing a contented sigh from him. “I,” she started, but bit it back. “Did you sleep?” She lowered her hand back to her lap and glanced away to compose herself.
“Somewhat. I had disturbing dreams. Our current situation is ample fodder for my Shade.”
Sellynna frowned. “Do you wish to talk of it?”
Borænin shrugged. “You know what the Shades are like. They speak only lies.”
“They do,” she agreed. “But they also feed off our own insecurities, bringing rise to things we are sometimes not conscious of. Perhaps we could speak out mantras tog…”
He interrupted her abruptly. “Will you stay with me,” he blurted out, blushing deep violet.
She blinked a few times, taken aback by the change in topic. “S-stay?”
“I mean…” he sighed softly. “After all this, whatever the outcome….if we survive…” His voice dropped, barely audible. “Will you stay?”
Sellynna leaned in, wrapping her arms around one of his. “For as long as you want me to.”
Borænin sighed, his relief almost palpable.
She hung her head, ashamed. “I…thought you didn’t want me to.” Glancing at his confused expression, she continued. “The other night, you talked of me going back. Me, but not you.”
“I didn’t mean it like that….I just meant,” he sighed. “I meant you were free to choose.”
“Borænin, I chose a long time ago.”
“A long time ago?” His confusion only grew as Sellynna flushed dark purple. “Why do you blush?”
“Because it’s a little embarrassing. Admitting it to your face.”
“Admitting what? That you found me attractive?”
Sellynna blush crept up her ears. “Yes…and…” He tilted his head to one side, smiling as she chewed on her lip. The very end of one of her tendrils twitched lightly, betraying how much he threw off her control. “Dreamt of you,” she whispered before burying her face in her arms.
Borænin looked surprised. “Please do not be upset,” he urged softly.
“You are going to think me a foolish child,” came her muffled response.
“I promise you I will not.”
She took a breath, mustering her courage. “I would try and assist the trainers in places that I heard you would be. So I could listen.”
He smiled slightly. “Listen?”
“To you speak. To hear what you found important.”
Sellynna picked her head up and looked at him like he was an idiot. “You are this amazingly handsome man. Powerful, confident. You kept the Order level and straight as we all work with a force that is very nearly pure chaos. You seemed to know everyone’s name and what they did. People mattered to you.”
“Sellynna,” he chuckled, “It has been a long time since anyone thought of me how you do…including myself. Forgive me for being obtuse.”
“How could I not respect you for all that? I feared disappointing you more than I fear the Lord Protector.”
Borænin smiled faintly. “Nothing you have done has been a disappointment to me.”
“And nothing leads me to think that will change. I only hope I remain worthy of your respect.”
“Fear your mistakes and misdeeds. Your failures to impress will lead to disappointment or death,” she recited quietly. She pulled her hair back into place as it slid down from its usual position on her shoulder.
Borænin frowned. “I hate those lessons more than you can imagine,” he admitted.
“Then why were they drilled into us?”
Borænin sighed. “I had to protect you. All of you. I had to be sure all of you were ready for what awaited you.”
Sellynna nodded. “They were effective.”
“The Void Rangers get no such lessons, and look how he treats them.”
“Has he always treated them as such?”
“He always regarded them as a failed experiment. Inelegant, he called them.”
“And we are not?”
“Not in his eyes. Look at us, we are dark, mysterious, powerful.”
“Has he seen the damage? Or because not everyone ends up like I did, he can ignore it?”
“Why do you think the uniform covers you so well? The scars show up many hours or even days later. I don’t even think he is aware of them. One more thing I hid from him,” he explained.
Sellynna sighed. She sat there, thoughtful for a moment when her eyes flashed open wide. “That’s why the Warrant officer tore the sleeves off my shirt! Asshole.”
“Quite likely. Be comforted that he is dead by now.”
Sellynna pouted. “I wanted to do it.”
“You did, your poisoned bourbon did him in. Well, presumably.”
Sellynna chuckled. “Depends on how much he drank.”
“I led the Lord Protector to believe that he would have to drink a lot to get the full effect.”
“I had to take a rough guess on what that alcohol would do to the poison. If he drank one full glass, he will hopefully have soiled himself. Two would have produced projectile vomiting. A third would rot his insides.”
“We can only hope he puked on the Lord Protector.”
“I do very much hope so. I put enough strangle kelp and bruiseweed oils in to ensure he would hit the opposite wall.”
Borænin laughed aloud. “My dear…my I ask you something?”
“You can ask me anything.”
“The night we drank bourbon together. When we started to become…ah…tipsy.”
“Did you intend to seduce me?”
Sellynna eyes went wide. “NO!…oh shadows no…I would never, that would be…”
“Because I did.” Borænin smiled wide.
“You…wanted me to…seduce you?”
Borænin chuckled. “No, my dear, I wanted to seduce you.”
“I have to confess…I knew that if I drank that liquor, you would try it to.”
“I suppose it’s hard to do that over milk,” she mumbled.
“And I hoped, well…I hoped to lower both our inhibitions.”
“You hoped I would get drunk enough to agree to lie with you.”
Borænin smiled slyly. “I hoped you would get drunk enough to suggest it.”
Sellynna blushed to the tips of her ears. “So you knew…”
“I am not a fool, my dear, I can tell when someone finds me desirable. It is simply that I usually ignore it.”
“How long,” she whispered.
“But with you…I didn’t want to. How long what? How long did I know?”
“Our first conversation. Away from our Realm, I mean.”
“The day you arrived? Oh for the love of the Void….I…I didn’t mean to be so obvious.”
Borænin smiled gently. “You were eager to please, and you looked at me….well, just a certain way. I could tell. I was not offended. I was flattered. Perhaps a little amused.”
“But we had a job to do.”
“We did, and normally that would be the end of it. But we kept having our little talks, and….” He tipped his head a little. “The job began to seem less and less important.”
“Do you regret this?”
“My dearest, not in the slightest.”
“When they told me I would be working with you directly…I was so giddy and so nervous at the same time, I was very nearly ill.”
Borænin smiled. “The first day I came through and met with you. You had no uniform. You were wearing that outlandish armor you had scrounged up. Your midriff was bare, and your arms. I was quite distracted.”
Sellynna looked down at her feet. “Forgive me. I had tried to put something together that worked. It was…functional, but not at all appropriate.”
“I am not complaining.” Borænin laughed to himself. “I was very…um….enticed. A bare belly is a lot when you spend all your days with people covered neck to boot.” He grinned wide, a glint in his violet eyes until he heard her gasp. His face fell, all traces of mirth vanishing. “I’m sorry….”
“No…I just…I never meant to do that. I hadn’t even considered that. I should have, with my training and,” she scrambled, desperate to explain.
“My dear, why are you acting as if you did something wrong?”
Sellynna blushed. “I don’t know. I…I just don’t want you to think that I was trying to force this to happen.”
“Do you think that would offend me?”
“I’m sorry. It’s…not easy to push the lessons aside,” she whispered, looking away from him. “You structured them so they would be ingrained. It worked.”
Borænin nodded. “I understand.” He reached out for her hand once again. “I did it for a good reason, I am sorry.”
She accepted his hand and offered him an uncomfortable smile. “I know. Forgive me if my reaction is, well, counter to a normal one at times, please.”
“Sellynna, I knew you intended nothing by it. I knew it was innocent,” he reassured her. “That made it all the more intriguing.”
Sellynna’s smile brightened very slightly. “I really just wanted to make you proud. That I could manage to get started even without a uniform.”
“You did,” he murmured. “As well as light headed, intrigued, drawn…” He leaned in ever so slightly closer to her.
“For a man who says he is having to try very hard, this seems to come pretty naturally to you.”
Borænin smiled shyly. “I have a good poker face, my dear. I had to face down the Lord Protector for years, never letting my true feelings show.”
Sellynna touched her fingers to her chest. “You make everything act the wrong way within me. You touch me and my heart dances around and comes up into my throat. My stomach seems to flutter and twist. I can’t even see straight half the time.”
The Hierarch’s cheeks flushed slightly. “And right now my guts are churning, and there are spots at the edge of my vision.”
Sellynna leaned in and gently kissed his cheek. He closed his eyes and smiled as she kissed his jaw. Borænin turned, capturing her lips on his own. Sellynna’s breath caught as she fell into him. He folded his arms around her. She placed a hand on his chest, causing him to look at her curiously. “What is it?,” she asked.
“Oh, I just wondered what you were doing.”
Sellynna smiled. “Feeling your heart trying to burst through your ribs,” she replied as his cheeks darkened further. “I will stay, Borænin. Right here. At your side. Always.”
“And I will do the same. For as long as you will have me.” Borænin winked and quickly added, “As long as and often.”
Sellynna bit her lip, drawing a chuckle from him. “Someone has been pent up for too long.”
“You have no idea, my dear.” He pulled her up into his lap, letting her hold him close.
“Why did you deny yourself?”
“If no one was close to me, the Lord Protector had no leverage.”
“Now he has no leverage on me ever again, no matter what happens. I am free of him.”
Sellynna smiled wide. “You are a good man, Borænin.”
The man’s face fell. “No,” he whispered. “No, my dear, I am not…but I hope to be again.”
Sellynna touched his face gently. “You are. You have done some REALLY shitty things.” She kissed him tenderly. “But you never wanted to.”
“But I did them, Sellynna. I have much to answer for. That cannot be easily washed away. I hope that I can make up for it, somehow,” came his sullen response. He looked down at his hands, sighing heavily.
“You will find a way,” she murmured. “And I will be there to help. And hold you if you stumble.”
Borænin smiled faintly. He stared out over the water, thoughts swirling in his mind. She will be your undoing. The Shade’s old tactics held no power this time. He brushed it aside with practiced ease. “I am entirely weary of sitting around here waiting. I am going to march about and find a Silverthorn to speak to. We are getting our property back, and we are leaving this place. With their help or without,” he declared. His features no longer held the haunted visage. There was a renewed determination about his entire presence. “They will have to truly keep us prisoner if they want us to stay.”
“Can’t I hold you a minute longer,” she asked gently.
Her question brought another smile to his lips. “Five minutes, Novice.”
Sellynna pulled him close and nibbled lightly at his chest. She sighed happily and closed her eyes. “To whatever end, Borænin.”
“To whatever end, my dearest.”