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A Friendly Warning

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Khadgar was conducting research for the next improvement he planned to make on the rings of the commanders of his allies. Fascinating stuff. It was something that kept him so entranced that food or sleep never entered his mind. However, lately something else did at the most unfortunate moments...

... deep brown skin, a somehow shy smile, big fangs sharp enough to tear off his fingers but instead sent thrills to his whole body when they were rasped along his bare skin and...

"Khadgar? Do you have a moment?"

He almost jumped. He was daydreaming. Again.

He composed the best he could, and it wasn't difficult as over the years he had made an art of showing a happy or collected face to the world. He smiled and looked at the owner of the voice. Jaina Proudmoore.

His smile faltered a little bit, just not enough to show. He didn't remember having a meeting with her that day; he had plans. Quite different plans. He brightened his smile once again. "Of course, my dear."

"Be careful."

Khadgar blinked, confused. What?

Jaina had been conducting herself in a strange manner lately. He blamed it to the need to work with the Horde, which she didn't trust anymore.

She was staring at him, maybe too focused for comfort, but running away in panic wouldn't be becoming of an archmage, so he continued to sit, waiting for her to elaborate. Since she just stood there silent, he inquired, "About something in particular?"

"That orc woman you are with."

Oh... Well, it was bound to be known, as he didn't hide the fact that he like to spend his free time with Geyah, and he regularly visited the Horde garrison just to meet her.

When they had arrived, the harsh weather of the ridge was not of his liking but now, having someone with whom share his nights, the coldness of the place was even welcomed. Cuddled together under the furs, a small fire warming the barn and casting its dancing light all around, talking in hushed voices or just watching the snow fall while she slept...

... by the Light! When did he become a romantic fool? He cleared his mind before facing Jaina again. "What worries you?"

"She is an orc. What more do you need?"

He sighed "... Jaina..."

"Orcs mislead you!" she spat, angered. "They betray you. They break your heart."

He could swear her eyes were wet. "Jaina... I... I don't know what to say."

"Don't say anything. Just..." She approached him in a rush, and took one of his hands on hers. "... you must get away from her before it's too late."

Carefully, he removed his hand and stood, then walked toward the foot of the stairs. "Do you think she is using me to get information of some sort?"

Jaina was confused this time; she hadn't thought about Geyah's motivation.

Khadgar turned around, then walked back to his desk. He knew even a sturdy desk between them wouldn't protect him if she flew into a rage, but he felt reassured anyway. Enough to ask, "... or are you projecting your own experiences into this?"

"What do you mean?" Her tone was cold, but there was no fury in it.

"I heard the rumours, back then, about you liking orcs too much for your own good." He stared right at her.

"I didn't take you for the kind of person prone to gossip." She looked at him in distaste, but there was nothing more. "I was just trying to spare you some heartache."

"I'm sorry to say, you are too late for that."

She lifted her eyebrow in surprise; she didn't think he was so deeply involved already.

"No!" he laughed. "Not about Geyah, mind you, about... heartaches."

"You are not making any sense, Khadgar."

"I would, if you knew me. But you don't, don't you?" He finally sat again. "You only know my public persona. Let's do a quick test, do you know how many women I have been with?"

She stared at him with eyes wide open. She tried to say something but words faltered her.

He dismissed her concerns with a wave of his hand. "Don't fret about it." He took a deep breath trying to calm himself, and he probably was successful but in his ears it sounded like a deafening burst. "None."

Then, he presented her with the most bogus smile he had ever flaunted. Jaina stared speechless, feeling very awkward.

He just entwined his fingers and stared at them for a long time before speaking again. "Jaina, I do appreciate a lot you took the time to think of me, and warn me about what you think is a foolish decision. I really do. Most people just discard my actions as eccentricities of an old man."

Jaina's face softened, and was going to speak but he held his hand. "I am old, just not as old as people seem to think." He looked at her. "... like you may think."

Jaina casted her gaze away, a little embarrassed. She had heard rumours and tales too, about Khadgar and the spell that cursed him.

"I aged at a time when I shouldn't have. I felt frail, and scared for a long time. Until I understood what the feeling was because I've aged years in the course of seconds, not because I was in the brink of death. It took me years to understand such a simple fact, because I've always been surrounded by people with the best of intentions but shielding me against a world they think will harm me."

He chuckled softly, "But I already know a great deal about betrayal, believe me... my own teacher... the person in whose hands was my future, my dreams... my very life... misled me and betrayed me."

Suddenly, he stood again and struck the desk, bitterness in his face and words, "So many years and now... JUST NOW! I'm old enough to match the body in which I've spent most of my life!"

Jaina took a step back, alarmed, it was the first time she had ever saw Khadgar acting like that.

He looked at her, and seeing her fear, he laughed softly. "I was afraid of what you'll do, when it was me, the mage going mad tonight." He heavily sat again. "Geyah doesn't love me, she told me so our first time together. Her husband had been killed recently, and she needed comfort."

"I'm sorry..."

He looked up at her. "Don't be, I don't love her either, our relationship is merely based on mutual benefit."

Jaina laughed without humor. "When did I hear that before?"

"Did you love him?"

She stared coldly at him. "Would you believe me if I say no?"

"Jaina, I'm sorry, I should have never asked you that."

"Do you love her?"

"I don't know... maybe... but I've never been in love so..." He shrugged. "... I don't know."

"Why are you even with her? I just don't understand... you could..."

"Have any woman I want?" he snickered.

"Yes?"

"Like Cordana? Wait, she's not human, so Adweama or Edirakith? They are human!" He acted as if he was pondering which one he liked best. "... but they are my assistants! Wouldn't that be taking advantage of my position?" He stood and paced with his hands on his back, researching the women he knew when he stopped and shook his head with sadness "Edirakith is a man!" He sighed but then he cheered up. "But wait!" Khadgar turned to her with an evil smile, "... there is you!"

Jaina opened her eyes in surprise when he quickly walked around the table toward her, reciting her qualities, "... you are female, you are human, and a powerful mage! You are perfect for me, Jaina! We are equals, there won't be whispering of favoritism..."

She took a step back but frowned when he stopped and looked critically at her. "... you are not that bad looking either... I'll miss the dangers of kissing but I..."

"Stop it! I get it!" she screamed, clearly angry with herself as much as with him.

"Do you?"

"Yes! Just stop!"

He stood a few feet away from her, dead serious. "When I was young I meet a girl I liked very much. A mage with a lot of potential but what I liked the most was her laughter. It was like she was singing. Her eyes were blue like yours, like mine, but her hair was so dark that the sunshine shone on it like if it was enchanted. I've met a girl like her before but never had the nerve to let my feelings know..."

He stared at the ground and frowned, like if he regretted talking about such personal memories but he gather the courage and kept going. "... I decided I won't make the same mistake again so, I asked her to come to the Darkmoon Faire with me." He looked at her and grimaced. "The disgust on her face was so clear, and then I realized she may know my real age but what she saw was just a lecherous old man."

"... Khadgar... I"

"Don't say you are sorry! A moment ago you were disgusted too. I'm surrounded with women which either are too young, have no interest on me, or whose true intentions I can't guess. Do they like me? Or do they want something for me? I've already meet so many women which would do anything to learn spells way beyond their ability..." He sighed, resigned. "... On Azeroth I can't go anywhere without people making assumptions I can't... or I don't want to fulfil."

He looked at her with happiness in his eyes. "In here I'm free! To explore who I am. To experience what it feels having someone caring for me..."

He stopped speaking and looked over her head, a big smile on his face. "Hello, dear!"

Jaina turned around and saw Geyah at the entrance of the tower. She haven't been so close to her before, and she had to agree Khadgar and the orc woman were probably very close in age.

Geyah nodded to them. "Good evening. I thought Archamage Khadgar was alone. I'll return later."

"There is no need to leave, Greatmother Geyah," Jaina spoke hastily. Khadgar had gotten closer to her and was prodding her on the back. It was quite annoying, he was obviously eager to get rid of her. "Our meeting was already done, we were just saying our goodbyes!" she said, her voice rising in volume with every word, then spun around to shoot him a dirty look. Dim-witted archmage, acting like a child just because his lady-friend was visiting.

The exchange didn't go un-noticed by Geyah, and she raised and eyebrow at Khadgar, but he was too busy smiling at her to care about what Jaina had said or done.

Frustrated, Jaina threw her hands in the air and left the tower. The older couple didn't notice.