Nothing Without You
A cool, salt-tinged breeze sent a few strands of hair tickling across her cheek. Maiev groggily swept the hairs behind her ear, not bothering to open her eyes. Judging by the brightness of the room it was still late afternoon, far too early to think about getting up.
She couldn't remember the last time she felt so comfortable, so at peace. The pillow was perfectly molded to support her neck and the linens were pleasantly cool against her skin.
Sleep was closing in around her once more when she felt Illidan stir beside her. She moved slightly to give him room then sighed contentedly as he settled in with one arm around her shoulders. Snuggling closer, she took in his familiar scent and began to drift into slumber again.
What a perfect moment, she thought blissfully. Just her and the man she loved, together with no one to interrupt or judge. No need for guilt, secrecy or denial. Just the two of them, sleeping cozily in each other's arms, as she had always dreamed. Just her and Illidan.
Maiev's eyes snapped open. Suddenly wide awake, she froze and looked around in utter confusion.
No, her initial observations were correct. It was indeed late afternoon, and she was indeed curled up next to Illidan in a very comfortable bed...a sleeping but clearly living Illidan, with no horns or wings in sight. She carefully slid out from under his arm, trying not to wake him, and sat up on the edge of the bed. Only then did she notice that her hair reached to her waist instead of her collar.
She frowned, rubbing sleep from her eyes. The last thing she remembered, she was about to kill herself over Illidan's cold remains. He had definitely been dead. He had definitely had horns and wings. There had definitely been had a large knife between her ribs. And her hair had definitely not been this long.
"What in the name of Cenarius' left nut is going on?" she said to no one in particular.
"Hmm?" Illidan said, clearly far more asleep than awake.
She turned and put a hand on his bare shoulder, none too gently shaking him. "Illidan, wake up. Something very strange is going on here."
"Eh? What?" He propped himself up on one elbow and frowned at her, looking every bit as confused as she was.
"What's the last thing you remember?"
"Last thing I..." He shook his head in an apparent attempt to clear his thoughts. "I remember something about Akama, and... Wait a minute!" He clapped a hand onto his forehead. "My horns!" He sat up. "My wings! Just what is going on here? Where are we? And and and--" He jabbed a finger in her direction. "You attacked me!"
"Illidan, I killed you," Maiev said quietly. "And myself. I don't know how we...unless... Oh Blessed Elune, he actually did it."
"Who? Did what?" Illidan attempted to stand and nearly fell. "No hooves," he said to himself with a bemused expression. "How...?"
"I don't believe it," she breathed. "It actually worked." Astonishment gave way to a tremendous grin. "It worked!"
"What the blazes are you talking about, Warden?" he said irritably
She scrambled across the bed and threw her arms around him, kicking her feet up behind her as she clung to his shoulders. "It worked! Oh, Illidan!"
"What worked? What are you talking about? And since when is your hair longer than mine?"
"Since about ten thousand years ago," she said happily.
She stepped back a little to get a better look at him. "I think Maeldan should explain it."
Her smile faded. "That, I should explain, I suppose. It's long past time. Sit down, Illidan."
"Wait one minute, I do remember now...you killed me! You helped that traitorous worm Akama, and you actually killed me! After everything we've been through!"
"I had to. You had become...not yourself."
He lunged toward her with a snarl, and she raised her hands to defend herself. He grabbed her wrists and held them tightly. "How could you? How could you possibily find it in yourself to slay me, after all this time?"
"You had plenty of chances before. You even saved my life after Northrend!"
"You were different then! Illidan, think! Think back on the last few months, even the last year. You've been spiraling farther and farther into madness."
"You've always thought me mad."
She smiled a little. "You always have been. But this was different."
He released her wrists but leaned closer to her. "Explain."
"Just now, you mentioned Northrend, how I saved your life after the battle with Arthas."
"That means you know you were defeated."
"Thanks for the reminder, Warden," he growled.
"But it's been months since you acknowledged that. You've been delusional, claiming that you were the victor."
He looked away, frowning in deep thought.
"It's been weeks since you came to my cell, and even longer since you've shown interest in my body."
He raised an eyebrow. "That doesn't sound like me."
She grinned as he ran a hand through her hair, across her shoulder and down her arm, closing in for a kiss as he did so. She indulged him for a moment but reluctantly broke away and continued. "You also enslaved Akama's people, and ordered attacks on Shattrath and others who could have been allies in the fight against the Legion. You so alienated Kael'thas' people that many defected--including the Prince himself."
"Even Kael?" He frowned, looking almost pained. "Yes... I think I remember now. The mana forges..."
"The longer you've been in Outland, surrounded by so much fel energy and hordes of demons--both allies and enemies, the more darkness has overcome you."
"I had to... Kil'jaeden was coming to unleash his wrath upon me, and..."
"And once again you let fear, overconfidence in your own cleverness, and your reckless lust for magical power override your judgment!"
He stood, an angry flare of green flight flashing through his blindfold. "Very well, since you know everything, Warden, tell me... Why am I not dead? How did we come to be here? And why do I no longer have the powers from the Skull of Gul'dan?"
Maiev's anger faded, and she sighed wearily. "It's a long story, and you have Maeldan to thank for it."
"You mentioned that name before."
"Yes. I... I suppose I should start from the beginning. Do you remember, about four thousand years ago, when I left Hyjal for a year?"
"When you just disappeared without so much as a word to me? Yes, I remember," he said with a bitter sneer.
"I had to. I couldn't take a chance on you being able to tell that I..."
He glared at her impatiently, and she bowed her head.
"I was pregnant."
"Apparently we grew careless at some point, and, well...these things happen."
"And you never told me?"
She looked up with a hard expression. "What would you have done?"
"I...I don't know! But you didn't give me a chance to even--"
"To what, Illidan? You were imprisoned until the end of time. You would have been utterly worthless as a parent."
He winced slightly but had no counterargument. "So you ran off to bear my child, and then what?"
"I went to my brother. He and Shandris refused to have anything to do with the child. Not that I blame them, considering you nearly killed him!"
"Haven't we been through that about a million times already?"
"I had no choice but to leave him in the care of the Temple of Elune."
"'Him.' I have a son." Illidan sank back onto the bed and shook his head in amazement.
"Yes. Maeldan. The Sisterhood raised him."
"The Sisterhood...Tyrande raised my son?" He brightened at the thought.
"No!" she spat. "Your precious High Priestess was far too busy to concern herself with orphans."
His face fell. "Did she even know who he was?"
"It was unavoidable that she knew I was his mother. I have never, ever breathed a word about your involvement to anyone except Jarod and Shandris. I'm afraid Tyrande figured out the truth anyway, however."
"And she still didn't take any special interest in him?"
"Why should she? She doesn't love you, remember?"
He scowled and straightened his posture. "You still know exactly how to get under my skin, don't you?"
She smirked slightly. "It's not difficult, Illidan."
"So you ran off and gave birth to my son--"
"Our son," she corrected.
"I'd ask if you're sure it was mine but no one else in their right mind would get anywhere near you."
She raised a hand to slap him but he predicted the move and blocked her with his forearm.
"Very well, our son. Then you left him at the Sisterhood's orphanage and never saw him again, correct?"
"And you never told me."
"And now he's somehow tracked us down and used some sort of necromancy to bring me back to life, after you killed me, but in the process I've lost my wings and much of my power."
"That's basically it, yes. Although it appears he brought me back as well."
"I..." She looked away, both ashamed and embarrassed. "I took my own life. I couldn't live without you."
"Yet you killed me!"
Her voice grew quiet in an attempt to downplay the intensity of her emotion. "You were already gone in every way that mattered. All that remained was a twisted echo of the Illidan I had known and loved for ten thousand years." She wrapped her arms around herself, chilled by the memories.
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry for everything. Just...everything."
He reached out to put a hand on her cheek, forcing her to look at him. "Maiev, I... I'm sorry, too."
She blinked rapidly to clear the tears from her vision but they welled up as quickly as she could banish them.
With a weary sigh, he gathered her into his arms and held her as she wept.
Maeldan ascended the narrow stairway slowly, trying to keep his boots from making any noise on the marble steps. He strained to hear any sound from the room where he had left his parents.
At least six hours had passed since he had completed the rituals and watched in amazement as both corpses had shimmered, faded to near-invisibility and then reformed before his eyes. This was how Maiev and Illidan had appeared at the moment when the Well of Eternity exploded, shattering the landmass of Azeroth and sending them both on a path of destiny that neither could have foreseen.
The young elf stopped in front of a closed door and listened intently.
Maiev was crying softly and after a moment he heard a second voice making soothing shushing noises.
They were awake.
His heart pounded so strongly in his chest that Maeldan feared they would be able to hear it through the door. Taking a deep breath to steady himself, he knocked.
After a moment of silence, Maiev cleared her throat and said, "Come in."
He pushed the door open and stepped into the room. Two figures sat on the edge of the bed, no longer embracing but still close to each other. His mother hastily wiped moisture from her cheeks and beamed at him with a mixture of gratitude and pride. His father's expression was unreadable. Illidan merely stared, his mouth slightly open but no words forming.
Maiev stood and went to Maeldan, throwing her arms around him. "It worked! I can't believe it. I truly didn't think it was possible. I'm so proud of you, my son!"
He held her at arm's length and attempted to scowl. "A few drops of your own blood, I said. Not all of it!"
She dropped her gaze in shame. "As I said, I never imagined that your plan would actually work."
"Obviously." He smiled a little and let go of her arms. "At least I had plenty of yours to use in the first ritual. To raise you, I used my own. Apparently the connection between us was strong enough for the magic to work."
Maiev turned back to Illidan with a suddenly shy smile. "Illidan...meet your son, Maeldan."
He stood slowly, his gaze still riveted on the newcomer, and took a wary step closer.
Maeldan merely stared back, unable to say anything.
Maiev watched anxiously as the two stood face-to-face, sizing each other up with silent intensity.
"There is strong magic in you, young one," Illidan said at last with an approving nod.
Maeldan released the breath he hadn't even realized he was holding. "Thank you...father."
"I should be thanking you. After all, you restored us to life. I must ask, however...why?"
Illidan crossed his arms on his chest. "You don't know us. We don't know you. I wasn't even aware you existed until a few minutes ago. What made you risk your life by bringing us here and delving so deeply into dark magic?"
"I wanted to meet you, to know where I came from."
"No doubt. However, as our son, I cannot imagine that you don't have some sort of alterior motive."
"Illidan," Maiev chided. "Don't be so suspicious."
"It's all right, mother," Maeldan said with a thin smile. "He's right."
"I've discovered a new way to restore life to the dead--one that doesn't involve the corruption of the Scourge or other forms of necromancy. Just think of the reknown that will be mine! Let my old tutors at the temple try to berate me for turning to the shadow now!" Maeldan raised his head proudly. "I'll be revered as one of the greatest sorcerers of all time!"
Maiev turned to Illidan with a sigh. "Still doubting that he's your son?"
He gave a dry laugh. "A regular chip off the old block. However, I'm afraid we can't allow you to spread this knowledge. At the moment, Kil'jaeden and the rest of my enemies assume that I am dead. For obvious reasons I'd much prefer it stay that way, at least for now."
"Take credit for reviving your mother if you must. But as far as anyone knows I am slowly decomposing inside the Black Temple."
Maeldan frowned. "I hadn't thought of that."
Maiev smiled slyly. "Rushing full-tilt into schemes involving dark magic without fully considering the consequences. Definitely your son, Illidan."
They both regarded her with nearly identical looks of disgust, and she laughed.
"Very well," Maeldan said grudgingly. "I don't suppose bringing you back only to have you immediately obliterated by the Burning Legion would make much sense. I'll keep your presence to myself...for now."
She put a hand on Illidan's arm and looked up at him with a troubled expression. "For now... And then what? Surely you're not thinking of going back to fight the Legion!"
"You expect me to sit back and watch as the world gets incinerated?"
She gave a long-suffering sigh.
"Oh, don't worry, Maiev. I've no intention of rushing back into the fray anytime soon. Without the powers I had before I would stand even less of a chance against Kil'jaeden and his forces. I'm just saying that someday, if the opportunity presents itself..." He shrugged. "I've given up everything to stop the Legion and I'm not about to admit defeat now."
"You're the most stubborn, pigheaded excuse for a night elf I've ever met, you impossible, arrogant louse!"
Without warning, he seized her in his arms and kissed her, immediately stopping her tirade.
Maeldan coughed uncomfortably until they stopped. "I, er...I've arranged for this building to be furnished for your use for as long as you choose to remain here. I have a residence in Darnassus but I plan to visit you often, if you don't object."
"Stay here?" Maiev said.
"I don't know what this building was originally. Some sort of store or meeting place, perhaps. But it's in better condition than most of the ruins in the area and the naga don't seem to come here. There's this bed, and more furniture and supplies downstairs."
"And what are we supposed to do with it all?" Illidan scoffed.
"Be happy," he said simply.
Maiev gave a crooked smile. "It's a stretch, I'll admit, but I think we're up to the challenge."
"You mean I have to be cooped up with you again?" Illidan said, lowering an eyebrow at her.
"Afraid so." She put her arms over his shoulders and leaned her forehead against his. "Poor you."
"Poor me indeed."
"If it gets too much for you, you can always run off to Outland and stand there waving a flag that says 'Kil'jaeden, here I am! Come get me!'"
In spite of himself, he smiled. "Don't tempt me, Warden."