The Alterac Valley. Sounds of battle are heard in the distance and Draeka and Zij stand guard at the Stonehearth graveyard, protecting the spirit guide from harm, with only a few minor distractions.

Zij leans forward, a hand resting softly on Draeka’s plate shoulder piece, kissing her lips softly as his other hand cradles the back of her head. The warrior’s cheeks grow warm as she kisses him back with surprising tenderness, her eyes flickering closed for a moment.

“At least we got one another for these stupid fights” she smiles as they parted, their faces still hovering close to one another. “My noble right ‘and ta keep me company t’rough de worst” he smiles in return.

“And the best. I’ll be with you through everythin’.”

Zij rubs his thumb along the back of her neck, up to her ear, his eyes scanning her face lovingly, “Dat a promise my lovah? My Chief Abettor?”

“Sure, Zij. I promised to do the ceremony, didn’t I?” Draeka nods slightly, their lips nearly touching.

“Ja, dat ju did. But I love ju… I still like ta ‘ear it” he smirks, closing the tiny gap between them and touching his lips softly to hers.

“I love you, too. I’ll be here for ya, Zij. Through it all.”

“An’ me for ju. De powah o’ de Chieftain is be’ind ju in everyt’ing, Drae. Trust in dat.”

“I trust you, Doctor.”

“Ju serve de Tribe bettah den any, my love. I cannot tell ju ‘ow proud I am ta ‘ave ju as one o’ us.”

“It’s my pleasure, Zij. You got a good Tribe behind you.”

“All de bettah t’anks ta jour presence Drae. I am glad ju accepted my offah ta become my right ‘and.”

“I like yer right hand. And yer left.”

Zij grins, sliding his hands down across her sides, over her hips, his fingertips poking in to the exposed areas of her flesh, “like ’em best on ju I bet.”

“I can’t deny that, can I, Doctor? Lyin’ to the Chieftain is in bad form.”

He grins, moving his face to her ear and letting out a tiny growl, “Dat’s right. Would be beneat’ my Chief Abettor ta mislead me” he grins, rubbing at her skin.

“I wouldn’t want to anyways” Draeka chuckles, her axe held loosely in her left hand.

Zij bit the tip of one of her ears, devilishly, “good. Knew ju didn’t ‘ave it in ju.”

“Not yet, anyways. I’m sure I will later today” she smirks, pulling away from him slightly to give him a quick wink, smiling lovingly at him as he chuckles.

“O’ course. In, ‘ard an’ often, ju can count on dat my Chief Abettor. De Chieftain commands it.”

“Uhhuh” she laughs, relieved to feel so care free around someone.

“Now, now Abettor, we must all make sacrifices.”

“What’s yers?”

“I must limit myself ta my most loyal Abettor” he smirks playfully.

“That’s self imposed.”

“Self imposed an’ enjoyed, t’ank ju” he smiles, kissing her once more before pulling away and properly standing guard, nodding to the other Horde forces as they pass, pulling Draeka up a snowy hill and out of earshot.

“And it wasn’t that way ’til recently.”

“It is now, an’ I must say… I don’t mind it, in fact… I enjoy it.”

“Why’s that?”

“I like savin’ myself for ju. Means more time spent doin’ what I enjoy most.”

“What’s that, Zij?”

“Ju.”

“Zug zug, Zij” Draeka chuckles, holding Zij’s hand in her right, her axe dangling lazily in her left.

“Dere a problem, Abettor?” Zij grins at her, giving her hand a squeeze.

“Just strange to me that you’d raise a girl, teach her all you know, marry her, and then say you like doin’ me best.”

“Ju want me ta lie? I can’t ‘elp ‘ow t’ings turn out.”

“I know. I never said you were lyin’. I just said it’s strange.”

“Dat’s not what I meant. Weren’t accusin’ ju o’ lyin’. But seems de spirits intended for me ta meet de woman o’ my desires latah in life.”

“I love you, Zij. I’m real glad we met.”

“An’ I love ju. Strange ‘ow life works… ‘ow everyt’ing before ‘as brought us togeddah.”

“I… if you ever wanna talk ’bout anythin’, you know you can come to me, right?”

“I know Drae, but I’ve nevah been good wit’ dat. D’ough…” He trails off, staring out across the snowy fields.

“Hm?”

“Somet’ings been on my mind lately.”

“Anythin’ you ever wanna tell me, Zij. I’ll love you regardless.”

“Well… de more I t’ink on it… maybe it weren’t right, Jez dat is. What ‘appened wit’ ‘er.”

“Her goin’ away, or all of it?”

“’er bein’ wit’ me” he responded flatly. “Maybe she shoulda got a normal opportunity ta fall in love. Raised by somebody odah den a man she could fall in love wit’.”

“Maybe she fell in love with you ’cause you raised her. You weren’t her father, so maybe ya didn’t discourage it right or whatever, but… does it matter? I mean, it’s strange… but… that don’t change feelin’s.”

“Ja, dat’s what I mean. Maybe she shoulda been raised wit’ someone dat coulda been more o’ a faddah to ‘er. An’… jus’ seems like I did wrong. She shoulda been able ta grow up normally.”

“She turned out normally, though. Had a Tribe of her own an’ everythin’…”

“I know. I raised ‘er ta lead. An’ did my best ta set up de Tribe for ‘er ta command. But… Drae… she’s pregnant wit’ anodah man’s child now. She’s turned out… off.”

“I won’t pretend to understand it, Zij. I only ever been with one person at a time. I don’t got no advice… I did my best with Lae, but I don’t even know where she is now.”

“Ja… beginnin’ ta see de advantages ta dat… recently. Only bein’ wit’ one…” he smiles, still looking somewhat sorrowful.

Draeka sighs softly, dropping her axe carefully in the snow to run her hand across Zij’s forehead and down his face, trailing up his tusk and finally resting her finger on the tip of his tusk, “maybe this time apart is good, then. Gives her a chance to see… gives you a chance to see… you know…”

Zij closed his eyes as her fingertip touches him, sighing softly, “Ja… jour right… and… I am appreciatin’ dis time, Drae. Jus’… ju mentioned it, I t’ought I should tell ju. Get it off my chest.”

“I don’t want you to feel you gotta hold back on me” she chuckles, “I’m tough, I can take it.”

Zij shook his head and opened his eyes, looking at her warmly, “no, nevah feel de need ta ‘old back from ju, jus’… not used ta sharin’ at all.”

“You should get used to it.”

“I am…” he smiled, “gimme time.”

“Do you really regret yer raisin’ Jez?”

“No.. jus’… de way I went about it, maybe. I was too young ta do a real good job o’ it, maybe.”

“What would you have done different, now that yer older?”

“I dunno…” he pauses, rubbing his chin as Draeka reached for her axe again, not letting go of his hand, “been sternah maybe… less o’ a friend an’ more like a parent.”

They pause at the sight of a dwarf in the distance, riding towards them. Draeka grabs the hilt of her axe in both hands, stepping forward, the loving smile that was on her face moments ago disappearing instantly, replaced by one of rage. The ram the dwarf rode stopped in its tracks, its rider pressing his heels to her side, urging her to turn around. Skittering backwards, the ram ran back from where it came.

Draeka laughs slightly, shaking her head, “some opposition we got today” she sighed, walking behind Zij and wrapping her green-brown arms around him, her firm body pressing against his back. He smiles, patting her arms with his rough hands, “what’s d’at for?”

“Just ’cause I love you.”

He closed his eyes and pressed back into her, “Ju are a wondahful woman Drae… imagine if we ‘ad met all dose years ago…”

“We wouldn’t appreciate this as much.”

“Maybe not, no… maybe togeddah we coulda done a bettah job o’ raisin’ bot’ Lae an’ Jez d’ough… maybe…” he smiled, but it was quickly washed away in a sigh, “I t’ink she already told me what she wants… she refused me, an’ left.”

“Then… we’ll make the best of it.”

“I am not upset, my love. Quite contented, ‘appy wit’chu like dis. I considah it a break now… able ta t’ink t’ings clearly, an’ enjoy my time wit’chu ta its fullest.”

“I love you.”

“I love ju, so very much. Who coulda t’ought dat I’d fall for a’ Orc” Zij smiled happily, his body relaxed and at ease, his tall frame towering over the already tall orc woman.

“Not me, that’s for sure.”

“’ow are ju dese days, Drae? T’ings still troublin’ ju?” Zij asks seriously, turning to look her in the eyes.

“Some days are worse than others. Been vis… thinkin’ of him less.”

“Dat’s good. It kills me ta t’ink o’ ‘ow ‘e treated ju. Makes me angriah den all else dese days.”

“Me too, Zij. It… I don’t know, maybe I’m overly empathetic ta him ’cause of the ritual or whatever… maybe meant I’ll always have a bit of an attachment to him… He feels bad, I know… but he’s done it all on himself. Maybe he likes to be miserable.”

“’e must Drae. Ju are not an unreasonable woman. I can’t imagine ju woulda treated jour child’ood friend bad enough ta warrant what ‘e did.”

“Only thing I didn’t do was worship him turnin’ to the same magics that destroyed my family.”

“Good. Maybe someday…”

“Hm?”

“Was jus’ t’inkin’… I know ‘ow ju don’t like me ta talk about such t’ings.”

“’bout what things? Gromth?”

“No, about us… bein’…. more den we are, possibly. Per’aps t’ings will turn out dat Jez is bettah off wit’out me, an’ ju will be rid o’ Gromth forevah for what ‘e’s done. Freein’ us ta…” he trails off, staring at the horizon with a softness in his eyes.

“At least finish yer sentances, lover” she grins, punching him playfully in the arm and knocking him out of his dreamy state.

“Leavin’ ju ta be my fuckin’ mate, exclusive. Dere, ‘ow about dat?” he chuckles.

“You think she’d want to be without you?” she chuckles in return, her own laugh a little awkward sounding.

“Maybe not right away… dere would always be a feelin’ o’… regret, maybe.” He forced a smile and looked to Draeka, but the effort ceased to be necessary suddenly, “but it’s very likely for de best, per’aps.”

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