Maiev removed her dented, dusty armor, leaving herself clad in a sleeveless linen shirt and pants of thick gray cloth. She closed her eyes for a moment to center herself before turning back to face the bed.
"All right, Betrayer its just you and me now." Despite the seriousness of the situation, her full lips curled into a smirk. "Just the way I like it."
She carefully removed the bandages from his bare chest, half expecting him to flinch from pain and disappointed when he did not.
The horizontal gash across his body was not as deep as she had expected, but it was clearly augmented by some sort of dark magic. An unnatural cold radiated from the wound, and instead of dried blood there was a frosty, greenish ichor around the edges.
"Damn you, Arthas," Maiev muttered, dabbing at the area with a damp cloth left by one of the blood elven priestesses. "Damn you and your stupid runeblade."
After cleaning off as much of the corruption as she could, she took a deep breath and placed both her hands over the wound. Immediately the soul-chilling cold crept into her arms.
No, she thought firmly. Light. Warm, soft, pure light. Healing, renewing
She shivered involuntarily, momentarily losing her concentration.
Closing her eyes with a frown, she pressed on. How many times had she healed injuries and illnesses as a young, na´ve priestess? It had been like second nature to her once, as natural as breathing.
But she hated Illidan. She had hated him for millennia. Hate hate hate
The cold spread over her shoulders, toward her torso.
No! She gritted her teeth and silently cried out for Elunes aid.
Goddess please! I hate him, yes, but I dont want him to die. I want him to live. I have turned a deaf ear to your song for too long, blessed Elune. I have denied you denied my own heart denied true justice.
Tears stung in her eyes but she kept them tightly closed. Warmth returned to her chest, spreading down her arms.
I dont know what will become of me. I dont know what will become of him. I only know I need to be with him, somehow. I need to be near him, even though I hate him. I have always hated him!
The cold inched back toward her elbows.
But thats not all I feel! I also I cant bear to lose him! Goddess, please!
Tingling warmth chased along her arms, pushing the icy shadow to her wrists.
Panting with the effort, Maiev focused every spark of energy in her being on the task.
Heal him. Heal him. Save him! I cannot lose him. I cannot! Not Illidan. Not my Illidan. Mine
Only the palms of her hand were cold now.
Please, Elune, she prayed, trembling all over. Please. I I love him!
Light exploded around her.
Her ears ringing, heart racing, eyes streaming tears, she could not have moved her hands even if she had wanted to. A feeling of well-being washed over her, flowing through her fingertips into the wound beneath.
Except the wound was no longer there. It melted away like frost on a windowpane, leaving no scar, no blemish, nothing but smooth, clean skin.
Maiev reeled back, breaking contact with him, and collapsed onto the stone floor. The shimmering warmth faded, and she laid flat on her back for a moment, catching her breath. Such power! Never had she felt Elunes presence surge so strongly!
A soft groan came from above her.
She scrambled to her feet, hardly daring to hope. "Illidan?"
He turned his face toward the sound of her voice.
With anyone else, she would have watched for his eyes to open. Instead she put a hand on the side of his head, slowly stroking his cheek with one finger. "Illidan "
He frowned in confusion, stiffly attempting to move one arm. "What " he mumbled.
He twitched in shock, recognizing her presence. "Where What the Maiev?" His voice was hoarse and faint, but she had been so afraid she would never hear it again. "What happened? Where am I? And what the hell are you doing?"
"Saving your miserable life, Betrayer!" she burst out, ignoring the first two questions for the moment.
Finding himself too weak to sit up, he regarded her warily through his blindfold, confused by the storm of different energies swirling around her. "What happened? The last thing I remember, I was It was so cold, and I " He coughed shallowly, and without thinking Maiev offered him a drink from a pitcher of water on a nearby table.
"You fought King Arthas," she said quietly, "and fell to his cursed runeblade."
She sat on the edge of the bed, stroking his hair with an expression of disbelief. Was this really happening? Was she really speaking to him again, just like the old days? Her own voice sounded strange in her ears. "You nearly died."
"And you brought me back so you could have the privilege of killing me yourself, I suppose."
"Oh, hush, Illidan."
"This " He turned his head, taking in his surroundings. "This is my citadel in Outland! How did I get back here? And who let you in?"
"Vashj and Kael made the portal to bring you here."
"But you Why are you here?" He reached up and took her hand by the wrist, forcing her to stop stroking his head. "If you think you can lock me up again"
"No, Illidan," she interrupted. "I dont need to have you imprisoned to know youre mine, and always will be."
"What do you"
"Youre mine, Illidan." She leaned closer, nuzzling her cheek against his. "I hate you. I love you. I hate loving you, and I love hating you. But youre mine."
"Have you finally gone completely mad, Warden?" He released her wrist and used what little strength he had to push her away. She stood to avoid falling onto the floor.
"Perhaps. Isolation can do that to the mind "
"You mock me?"
She grinned. "Always."
"Will I never be rid of you?" He sighed.
"No. And I do believe the proper response to someone saving you from certain death is thank you."
He gave a mirthless laugh. "Me? Thank you?"
"Very well then, if youre going to be that way about it, I can revoke the favor " She ran a fingernail across his neck. "Youre in no position to defend yourself."
"And Im supposed to believe youd actually kill me? After all the chances youve had? We both know you couldnt bring yourself to go through with it."
"You vile, aggravating lump of useless, arrogant---gah!" She stood up and turned her back to him. A few silent moments later, she whirled around to face him again, her anger faded to mere exasperation. "Oh, Illidan, Ive missed you!" She crawled onto the bed and threw her arms around him, being careful not to bother the spot where the wound had been, although not a trace of it remained. "I thought Id lost you forever. I cant live without you, you horrible, infuriating, wonderful, amazing creature!" She clung to him desperately, holding him tighter as if to assure herself that he was real.
"Why Maiev Shadowsong, are you crying?" He put a finger to her cheek, finding it moist.
"Yes, damn you, I am." She made a noise halfway between a laugh and a sob and buried her head under his chin.
"I I missed you, too," he said reluctantly, rubbing a hand across her back. "I dont know why," he added crossly. "But after ten thousand years of irritations from you, Ive somehow become accustomed to your particular brand of annoyance."
"It wasnt all irritation, was it?"
"Well " He brushed a strand of hair off her shoulder. "Not all. There were those occasional exceptions."
"Cant expect you to go ten thousand years without any sort of conjugal visits, can we?"
He gave that twisted, sardonic smile that she adored. "And it was such a great sacrifice on your part to indulge me, too."
"Oh yes, very. It certainly isnt as if that was my idea in the first place, or it took ages before you surrendered."
"No, of course not. Dont be absurd," he scoffed. "That would imply you were the stubbornest person alive."
He fell silent, the extent of his weakness starting to sink in again. Maiev also lay quietly, sensing him begin to fall asleep beside her. Exhausted from the effort of healing him and from weeks spent wandering the wastes of Outland, she soon joined him in slumber. Whatever tomorrow might bring, whatever venom might fly between them, at least they had this moment, and it was more than she had dared to hope for.