"Hold on to me. Tighter."
Actual, ancient Darnassian, Arthas became aware, sounded quite different when it echoed humidly just at the delicate shell of his ear; it sounded quite different from anything he'd learned in the context of his princely studies, and different from what he’d overheard at his father’s diplomatic meetings with the Kaldorei.
It was beautiful in a way he hadn’t expected and much more difficult to understand, but he thought he could listen to Illidan speak all day; "No," Illidan’s voice came composed and quiet. His long fingers came softly on Arthas' hand, where he led him to hold him just round his back; "Hold me. Here."
Arthas dutifully complied; he had to, he was aware, long before he’d succumbed to him willingly. He'd been summoned by Uther some weeks earlier, where he’d been informed of something quite unusual: a missive had arrived for him personally, on part of High Priestess Tyrande Whisperwind, leader of the Kaldorei.
He could not deny his own enthusiasm: that something of this magnitude would come for him was rare— but, apart from that, he had longed ever since his induction into the Silver Hand for an opportunity to shine with his own unique holy Light, and here at last it came.
Matters of righteous sanctity were directed ever at Calia, his older sister, who had claimed her place not only amongst the court as Lordaeron’s future queen, but also at the Church as a respected priestess; but this time the missive came not to Calia, but specifically to Arthas, to him.
It had arrived, Uther said, by means of an unusually beautiful bird, an iridescent flying creature which knew precisely the name of its intended recipient; it had traveled over the course of weeks across the seas from Kalimdor.
To find him, Arthas.
The high priestess had witnessed a vision, the letter explained, a prophetic dream which boded a holy union between him and an elf called Illidan Stormrage.
Arthas had known about Illidan; like many educated people he had studied the events that led to the Sundering thousands of years before, and Illidan's role in the battle against the Legion. He knew that he'd been imprisoned for millennia, and how powerful a sorcerer he had been even before he'd been gifted with his unique vision by Sargeras.
He'd never imagined, however, that his fate would be tied to his own; not in any way, and certainly not like this.
He was far more handsome than Arthas had imagined; he was far gentler, as well, for all his encompassing force.
They spoke in silent whispers, words in ancient Darnassian which Arthas didn’t fully understand; communication between them came strained and broken, but it was enough. They weren't free to speak outside the prison because of the Wardens' watchful eyes.
Like lovers. Like they'd known each other before.
Curiously, it felt to Arthas almost like they had.
Maiev, of course, wasn’t buying any of it; she could not deny the High Priestess her request, but she knew that both Tyrande and Malfurion had a soft spot for Illidan. In the context of her holy work Tyrande had asked Maiev to allow Illidan this human visitor, this young prince of Lordaeron who appeared hardly a day over twenty, and spoke atrocious Darnassian which she could hardly understand.
And now they were partaking in what Tyrande had said was a blessed ritual, but there was nothing blessed about Illidan, Maiev knew this much; he was a wretched, despicable creature she knew profoundly well, whom she had personally watched for thousands of years.
There was nothing intimate she hadn't seen him do.
And, for Illidan's part, he thought he couldn’t care less what she did or didn't see; he'd almost forgotten what it was, to live beyond the reaches of her watchful gaze, and he'd devised ways to hide himself despite it.
She would think, certainly, that the secrets exchanged between him and Arthas were hidden in the broken words they spoke, but Illidan knew better; beyond his unparalleled skill at the arcane he excelled also at subtlety, and even while he had fervently at Arthas' neck he wove invisible runes in the skin of his palm, the curve of his back and the flesh of his inner thigh, which could not be readily detected or deciphered.
Arthas had never been embraced this way; everything intimate he’d known he'd learned together with Varian, his dearest friend since boyhood— and, later in adolescence, also with Jaina— but here was something different entirely. He was aware he'd never taken part in something so simultaneously holy and carnal before, and found himself willingly prepared to follow anything Illidan asked.
His form was strong and youthful, and Arthas understood that, in the lives of Kaldorei elves, Tyrande and Illidan were not quite all that old; he was lean and muscular, elegantly graceful, he held Arthas with gentleness he hadn’t known before.
He wondered what it was that he was made to feel, and why it was that this sacred bond lay between them— but that such a sacred bond indeed existed he could no longer deny.
To be continued…