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Thassarian sighed as he tugged on his shoes. Really? Why did they choose now of all times to wander off? Couldn't they have done that in the morning? Part of the cow herd had split off and wandered into the woods, which meant Thassarian had to go find them before trolls did. What a fantastic way to end his already tiring day.

He knew he'd gone too far north when he felt the eyes on his back, hidden in the woods, shifting around and following him.

Damn, he was so screwed, wasn't he?

A cowbell jingled somewhere off to the right, finally close enough that he could hear it. He started walking toward it, feet going faster than before. His mind raced as he tried to think about what might be tracking him.

The Amani trolls had an ungodly amount of horror stories attached to their legacy, tales of being ripped to bits, the trolls wearing parts of their victims as trophies, he'd even heard someone say that they ate the wandering children they found. But then again, Thassarian had been a wandering child a few times, and heard that story as a warning, so he takes that with a grain of salt.

The high elves were known to be cunning and stealthy when they wanted to be, hundreds of years of learning made it impossible to catch them.

Thassarian had never met a troll or an elf, but he'd heard that the trolls would attack viscously and without remorse, and with little care for stealth. Maybe it was just an elf, and he would live through this.

Then again, he hadn't met many soldiers that had fought against the high elves and lived.

Small prayers to the Light fell from his lips as he stopped by the cow. He didn't dare say anything above a whisper. Could elves hear his whispers? What if they laughed at his fear before killing him? What if-

Something tapped on his shoulder.

Well, it was a good 19 years of life.

Thassarian turned around, meeting the glowing blue eyes of a Farstrider. His brows were scrunched together, mouth set downwards in a frown that Thassarian definitely did not stare at.

"You should not be out here." The elf spoke common, but it had an eloquent curl to it that Thassarian could never hope to replicate.

Thassarian stammered and cleared his throat, hoping to cover up the anxious energy.

"I had to-" He waved a hand at the three cows standing around, "Can't leave 'em behind, y'know?"

The elf narrowed his eyes, but nodded. "I suppose so. You're lucky I found you before something else did."

Thassarian ducked his head, "Yeah, probably."

When he glanced up again the elf had a smirk and looked far too amused for his own good. It was a blessing that the sun had already set, as Thassarian could feel the blush rising on his cheeks.

Oh, oh no, could elves see in the dark?

Based on his barely contained smirk, Thassarian would have to say, yes, yes elves can see in the dark. Damn.

Thassarian finished hooking the cows together with rope, giving them all little glares for making him wander out into the forest in the first place.

They walked in silence, but Thassarian couldn't stop his mind from jumping all over the place. Why is the elf walking back with him? Was it some sort of a trap? He didn't even introduce himself, what would his grandmother think?

Thassarian cleared his throat awkwardly, "Uh, I'm Thassarian, by the way."

The elf's ears twitched, and glowing blue eyes settled on him again. Somehow Thassarian felt like he had fucked up, but he didn't know why. Did the high elves not have names? That didn't seem right, but he didn't know enough about elves to dispute it.

"Koltira Dawnweaver, it's, well, interesting to meet you out here."

Oh thank the Light, he wasn't messing it up, not yet at least.

From there they made idle chat, wandering through discussions easily. When they made it back to the edge of the forest, there was a silent pause. Thassarian looked off towards the farm, lit up by the moon.

"I- ah, thank you," Thassarian rubbed the back of his neck, "For walking me back."

Koltira nodded, "I trust you can get back without issue, then?"

.

.

Somehow they met again. And again. And it turned into something more regular. The two meeting in the woods more and more often, Koltira occasionally showing Thassarian how to shoot a bow or use daggers, or on one entertaining morning, how to use a bo-staff. Thassarian ended up with a large stick he found, and was tragically bad at fighting with it.

Thassarian would bring food usually, small bags with leftovers and baked goods that his ma had made. Koltira had nearly banned him from bringing his own food, bits of charcoal chicken really wasn't good for breakfast.

.

.

The dawning sun flittered down between the yellowing leaves of the forest. It would still get hot out in a few hours, but there was at least a promise of a cooling fall approaching. Thassarian had a lunch bag in one hand, with two sandwiches and some fruit.

The elf in the woods cocked an eyebrow at Thassarian as he drew closer. Thassarian smiled, holding up the bag, getting a small smile back when Koltira realized what it was he had.

"I brought some food, if you wanted any, that is. Uh, it's just sandwiches, but they're not bad."

Koltira eyed him a bit warily, he'd fallen victim to some of Thassarian's cooking before.

"I tried to make somethin' else, but it burned." Thassarian mumbled, ears turning pink

Koltira laughed and moved forward, meeting Thassarian where he'd set up a towel on the ground, close enough to a tree to lean against it. Koltira sat across from the human, brows scrunching up as he plucks an apple from the bag.

Seems safe enough, he supposed.

The human smiled, looking up at Koltira and then back down to the ground. A faint blush ran on his cheeks. Koltira chuckled quietly, he was cute at least.

.

.

"My ma was askin' where I kept goin in the mornin's," Thassarian said, hands playing with Koltira's hair gently as the elf laid in his lap. Koltira glanced up questioningly. "Told her I'd met a girl named Tira- I can't believe she believed it, swear my whole face was red."

Koltira smiled, laughing quietly and relishing in the soft feeling of Thassarian's fingers in his hair.

"Aw, ya di'n't tell her bout me?"

"Nah, sure she'd have a heart attack. Me? Meeting with one of those testy ranger elves in the woods? I'd never leave the farm again."

A light swat on his leg made him laugh, but Koltira only mumbled -albeit grumpily- incoherently.

"You fallin' asleep on me?"

Another mumble that sounded vaugely like 'maybe' came as a reply.

Thassarian hummed, "Get some rest, you need it."

.

.

"So did they say anything else about the 'testy ranger elves in the woods'? Or was that your only warning about us?"

Thassarian groaned, squinting at Koltira, but smiled in the end. "Oh yeah, all kinds of warnings, especially to stay on their good side or pray to every god you can think of."

"Oh yeah," Koltira snickered, "And how good of a job would you say you did of that?"

Thassarian hummed, thinking for a moment, "I'd give myself a solid 7 out of 10."

Koltira knocked his shoulder against Thassarian, laughing at the serious tone. "You absolute dork."

"Awh, but I'm your dork, right?"

Koltira rolled his eyes at Thassarian's pout. He reached his hand around, cupping Thassarian's cheek, fingers feeling the beard that was steadily growing in. Koltira leaned in, pressing a kiss to the pout.

"Hm, I suppose."

.

.

Koltira shifted around, moving closer to Thassarian as the two bundled under blankets. Snow drifted around them lazily, painting the whole forest with a white haze. Thassarian thought it was beautiful, Koltira continued to grumble about how cold it was.

"Y'know, it looks real nice out here, if you'd like to emerge from your bundle there."

Koltira made a few grumbly noises, something that sounded vaugely like 'mn, bu' you're warm' , but poked his head out of the cocoon, looking around with narrowed eyes.

"Hm, looks cold."

Thassarian smiled, tightening his arms around Koltira for a moment before relaxing and letting his chin come down on Koltira's shoulder.

"Your ears are all pink." He pointed out, teasing a little bit. Koltira's ears twitched down as he turned around to look at the human.

"Well… your nose is pink." he replied, like it was a mighty insult.

"Oh dear, how could this of happened? Truly, a mystery."

Koltira pouted and dipped his head to Thassarian's chest, laughing when he squeaked from Koltira's freezing nose poking into his collarbone.

.

.

Lorderon was preparing for war. Hell, most of the world was, but Thassarian's gut still churned when he noticed the signs going up. Asking, pleading people to join the fight against the 'Scourge'. An undead army, more dangerous and powerful than the horde. Both factions were coming together -tenuously- for the on coming war.

Prince Arthas Menethil himself was to be leading the mission to Northrend. Thassarian was leaving with him. Koltira had taken it well, even though they both knew they wouldn't be able to contact the other for a while. He just told Thassarian 'You better come back safe.' and gave him a kiss for luck.

Well, Thassarian assumed it was for luck, he couldn't understand the softly whispered Thalassian.

.

.

He wasn't back yet. He should be coming back. Rumors were spreading of Arthas' betrayal and turning his own men into undead. Now wasn't the time to not come back.

Koltira started going back to the more southern parts of the forest a few months after Thassarian had left. It seemed enough time for him to be back soon, it was only logical that Koltira start getting back into the habit of heading out before his shift.

He hadn't shown yet.

Maybe it was fine, and it was just taking longer than expected. No world ending phenomenon, no grim betrayals, just miscalculations in the timing.

Weeks dragged on.

Thassarian didn't come back.

The scourge was cutting a swath though northern Eastern Kingdoms, gunning straight for the Sunwell. Ready to simply plow through Eversong Forest, destroying half of Silvermoon in the process.

Koltira couldn't afford distractions. Not now, not any time soon. He scanned over the faces of the Scourge. Some stitched back together. Some grotesque constructs of multiple beings. Some rotten and falling apart as he watched. Some whole and nearly normal looking, if not for the green or blue tinge to their skin and the deep bruising.

Death Knights, they'd called them, the chosen of the Lich King. His most precious and loyal soldiers. Impossible to defeat, impossible to reason with or distract. The perfect soldier.

One face caught his eyes. Familiar, but- different. White hair fell around his face, his beard now fully white instead of dark brown, and dark purple tattoos surrounded his eyes. Even his eyes were different, glowing a ghastly blue.

But-

It was him.

Koltira's breath caught in his throat as he stared on. He tried to think, but he couldn't move past the feeling of seeing a ghost.

Thassarian looked up, catching his eye. He started moving forward, towards Koltira. There was a flash of something in his face, was it recognition?

For a moment, Thassarian just stood in front of Koltira, brows scrunched up in concern, or confusion?

Koltira gently reached up, cupping Thassarian's cheek like he did months before. His skin was cold, and his beard had small bits of ice clinging to it.

Thassarian closed his eyes, leaning into the palm. He didn't breathe anymore, but it was so similar to before. His face softened, if only for a second before regaining that same scrunched up look.

"Thass?"

His eyes snapped back open. But they seemed much emptier now, like there was less control.

"Thass?" he tried again, Thassarian shuffled around, but Koltira didn't pay it much mind. He had often wiggled around when Koltira would show him love before, it wasn't too odd.

"I'm sorry," His voice was deeper now, it reverberated with every word. He stepped back, features hardening as he looked over the elf. Every line echoing the empty expression, the Lich King's will grasping him.

Koltira didn't get to ask why he was sorry.