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the prince's bastard son

Chapter Text

The prince sat alone in his room, his entire body seemingly aflame from the inside. He stared blankly at the pages of the book in his lap as he waited for his tea to cool. Fragmented thoughts coursed through him, but he couldn’t get a grip on any one of them, and his tired, deep blue eyes were unfocused. Light only knows how long he sat there like that, motionless, before someone knocked on his window.

A whelpling dragon sat on the sill outside, eyes glinting like rubies in his head, and he pressed one clawed hand against the glass pane as though asking permission.

The prince gave him a small smile and nodded, setting his book to the side.

The whelp grinned, giving it one good shove, and tumbling into the room in a rather undignified manner. He managed, however, to land on his feet in his human form, and took an exaggerated bow.

“How are you feeling, young prince?” Wrathion asked, taking a seat on the edge of the large bed.

“Peachy,” Anduin replied dryly. “Everything hurts.”

Wrathion sighed through his nose. He picked up the book his partner had been trying to read and flipped through it. Certain passages had been annotated with comments, questions, or simple underlining, and he furrowed his brow. “Why are you reading about Orcish biology?”

A lump rose in Anduin’s throat. He swallowed it thickly. “Personal intrigue,” he said simply. “What are you doing here?”

Wrathion shrugged. “I wanted to check in on you.” He crawled over to sit beside the other boy. “Is there anything I can do to ease your pain?”

Anduin leaned his head onto Wrathion’s shoulder, closing his eyes. “No. I don’t think so.” He opened one eye slightly and took his hand. “But don’t go.”

A smile crept across the dragon’s face, and he pressed a soft kiss to the top of Anduin’s head. “Of course not, young prince.”

They sat in silence for a while. Anduin’s breathing slowed ever so slightly, almost imperceptibly, and he started to drift off to the sleep that had escaped him for so long since he’d awoken from his injuries. But the splintered thoughts in his mind began to come together as he did, merging with memories from only three months ago, and with the nightmares he’d suffered as a boy.

“You’re mine. All mine.”

When he opened his eyes once more, Wrathion was staring at him, wide-eyed and worried, gripping the human boy’s shoulder as tightly as he dared.

“Are you alright?”

Anduin’s mouth had gone dry. He hadn’t noticed how shallowly he was breathing until the dragon guided him into slowing it down, and he realized how much it eased the burning in his ribs.

“I’m fine,” he choked.

“You aren’t. I know you aren’t.” He sat back on his heels. “I’m not going to force you to talk, but . . . Know that I’m here if you want to, alright?”

The human prince nodded. “Thank you, Wrathion.” 


 Talking was something that Anduin was good at. Much better than his father was, at least, even before the Crimson Ring. So the fact that he couldn’t bring himself to say what had happened only served to upset him further. Eventually, when he was blessed with a moment of lesser pain and clearer mind, he took a pen and parchment and began to write, and the dragon was there the very next day.

But he said nothing. He simply sat beside him in his bed, a game of Jihui between them.

Anduin found himself conflicted; both hoping that Wrathion would bring up the revelation, and dreading the moment that he did.

His stomach sank when he picked up the parchment still on his bed when he left.

I’m sorry, young prince. Perhaps I should not have come on to you so strongly. I understand if you wish to ‘cool off’ our relationship. But either way, I hope that our friendship may continue.

Yours,

Wrathion

He smiled, but crumpled the letter nonetheless. “Could’ve just said it to my face.” 


 “Greetings, young p-”

“I don’t want our relationship to end.”

Wrathion blinked. “Well, hello to you as well.”

Anduin rolled his eyes. “I must say though, I also came on to you rather persistently. And, even if it wasn’t the best course of action, taking my mental health into account, I don’t regret any of the time we’ve spent together.”

The dragon hummed, content, and with an amused smile on his face. “Well I must say that I’m honestly rather glad to hear that.” He cupped the other’s cheek and gently kissed his lips. “I’ve grown quite fond of you, young prince.”

Anduin smiled back. “And I of you, Wrathion.” His expression faltered. “But I have something to tell you.”

“Oh, more surprises?”

“In a sense.”

“I hope, for your sake, that this one is on a happier note.”

The prince’s gaze fell. “No,” he says. “Not exactly.”

Wrathion looked at the other more seriously now. “What is it, love?”

“Don’t be angry. And I need you to know that I am completely loyal to you, alright?”

“Andy, come on. What’s wrong?”

One hand drifted to his abdomen. He pulled up his shirt and pushed the blanket away slightly, revealing that his stomach had taken on a slightly more rounded shape.

Wrathion stared for a moment before something clicked.

“Anduin,” he whispered, “we both have- we can’t-”

“I know,” Anduin interrupted. “It’s . . . It’s not yours.”

Wrathion tried to keep the pity from his voice. “Who else knows?”

“Tyrande was the one who told me. Then I went to Velen; asked him what he thought I should do.” He licked his lips. “If there was anything I could do. And my father found out eventually, of course.”

A soft sigh. “What did the prophet say?”

“There are . . . certain procedures,” he said uncertainty. “Different methods of ridding someone of, well. You know.”

“Of course, of course. And, have you . . . ?”

Anduin sighed. “I don’t know. On one hand, there’s the obvious dilemma of the potential for peace, with a half-orc royal, versus the idea of the prince’s orcish bastard child-”

“Andy.” Wrathion took Anduin’s hand. “Do you want this?”

Anduin looked Wrathion steadily in the eye. “I don’t know. I’m young, Wrathi. I’m upsettingly young to even have to consider this choice.” He rested one hand on his stomach. “But, at the same time, I’m not sure I could go through with it.”

“This is your body, Anduin. Your life.” He tilted the prince’s chin up. “This is your decision.”

A small smile. “I know. And if it were anyone else, I would have no problem if they decided to- to end it. But because it’s me, I just don’t know if I can bring myself to do it.”

Wrathion pursed his lips. “Well,” he said, scooting closer, “whatever you decide to do, I’ll be right alongside you. Hell, I’ll help you, if you need it.”

Anduin’s smile grew. “Thank you, Wrathion. You have no idea how much that means to me.” He leaned in slightly for another quick kiss. “Say, why don’t you get right in front of me? It sort of hurts to turn my head like this.”

Wrathion quirked an eyebrow. “Oh, does it now?”

“Mhmm.” He put one hand on Wrathion’s hip. “Come on, now.”

The dragon laughed, but complied, straddling Anduin’s lap and tilting his chin further upwards. “Your father said for you to take it easy, didn’t he?”

“Then I suppose you’ll have to be gentle with me.”

Their lips fit together damn near perfectly, and it felt like the most natural thing in the world as the kiss was deepened, Wrathion sliding his hands down Anduin’s sides.

“Do you want to feel it?”

“Can I?”

“Of course.”

One hand with pointed fingers nearly covered the smaller boy’s entire belly. Anduin shivered, placing one of his own over it, while also reaching up beneath Wrathion’s turban to play with his dark curls.

“Naughty boy, aren’t we?” Wrathion chuckled darkly. “Never thought of you as being into this sort of thing.”

“Save it.” He gave a light tug on the nape of the dragon’s neck. “Just kiss me.”

Chapter Text

“You disappoint me, Garrosh,” Thrall said cooly. “You are not worthy of your father’s legacy.” He raised his warhammer above his head, brought it down, and-

Clang!

Varian glared up at the orc before him. “His punishment is not for you alone to decide,” he said, preventing the other from striking the killing blow. “Nor yours alone to execute.”

Thrall glared back. “I won’t let you take him.”

“Same to you, Go’el.” He steadied his hands. “Have you any idea what he’s done to my son?

The human prince seemed to shrink somewhat. One hand remained over his belly, protective by instinct, while the other kept a white-knuckled grip on his cane.

“What happened to Anduin is regrettable, but-”

“But nothing!” There was a fiery glint in his eyes. “If we must do this together, then we will, but I made a promise to see to it personally that he pays for his transgressions.”

Something inside the boy sparked to life, sending his heart hammering against mended ribs. He placed his free hand on the shoulder of the nearest guardsman.

“Are you alright, Your Highness?”

“Mm.” He shut his eyes. “Dizzy spell.” He opened them once more, staring long and hard at the exiled orc. “And I must be honest; I’ll be glad to see Garrosh dead, no matter who it is that does the deed.”

“Of course, Your Highness. I understand completely.” They held up a hand, hovering by his solar plexus, and placed it there to support him when he gave them a nod of approval. “Is there anything I can do?”

“No. It will pass eventually.” He leaned further into them, nearly resting his head on their shoulder. “Thank you.”

“It’s no trouble at all, Your Highness.”

They simply stood there for a moment, Anduin breathing deeply with his eyes closed. They ignored when Varian calls the guard to his side as he confronted the Warchief.

“You- You should-”

“You take priority, Your Highness. It’s quite alright.”

“Is there somewhere I can-?”

“Of course.” They led him over to a corner of the room and helped him up onto a table. “Are you sure you’re alright?”

“Yes. Fairly sure.” He managed a laugh, still with one hand on their shoulder. His grip tightened slightly. “Mia warned me about this.”

“What is it?”

“False labor pains. Nothing to worry about, but quite a pain in the ass.” Another laugh. “Or, rather, the stomach.”

The guard chuckled along with him. “My sister would have those before the birth of my niece,” they said. “Walking is supposed to help with them, but I’m not sure if you should, with the dizziness.” They glanced up at the sound of footsteps. “But perhaps we have no choice. Can you stand?”

“Yes.” He took his cane once more, one hand on the guardman’s arm, and hopped down from the table. “Thank you.”

“Of course. Come on, now. I think it’s time we got you back to the Keep.”

“If I must,” he sighed, smiling.

Chapter Text

“You said you believed I could change,” Garrosh said. “What in this world or any other could make you think that, after what I have done?”

Anduin set his jaw. “Nothing ever stays the same. You were overthrown because your people changed. I’ve been made to change from a child to an adult, because of your senseless violence against me. You, yourself, have changed from warchief to prisoner. You can change again.”

“From living to dead, you mean.”

“Preferably, yes. Though I’ll admit that it isn’t the only way. Personally, I will never forgive you for your repulsive actions, but you can still look at what you’ve done; watch and listen and really try to understand the pain and damage you’ve caused, and decide that you won’t continue down that path if given another chance. You can choose to never again do to anyone what you have done to me.”

“And yet, it would seem that you’ve chosen to keep the babe.” He smiles, cheerless. “My blood lives on in you, human prince.”

“My decision has nothing to do with you. My child will know me, as I am their father, and Varian, as he is their grandfather. If I can help it, they will never even know your name.”

“I am their father as well. You cannot deny that.”

“Biologically. But you will never be their family.”

Garrosh grunts. He approaches the bars of his cell, and it takes every ounce of self control the boy has not to take a step back. He bites his cheek as the orc examines his belly through his clothes.

“Our child,” he muses. “Even now, it saps the life from you. What made you think you would be strong enough to bear my offspring?”

Anduin glares. “This child is not yours, Hellscream. At their conception, when you forced yourself upon me, bringing every vile thing about yourself to light; perhaps. But not now.” He started towards the door. “Nothing ever stays the same.”

Chapter Text

“Tannin,” the prince breathed, gazing down at the baby boy in his arms. “His name will be Tannin.” He laughed a bit, a light and breezy sound, and took his son’s tiny hand between his fingers.

Varian placed a hand on his son’s shoulder. “Andy,” he said quietly, “I know what you said you wanted for this child, but-”

“He’s a Wrynn, father. Same as us.” He looked up at the older man, finding no hardness in his expression in spite of the scars running across it. “He should be with his family.”

The king sighed. “Very well.” He managed a smile, reaching out to tickle the baby’s cheek, and pulled a face. He smiled again when the child mimicked him. “He already takes after his father, doesn’t he?”

Anduin laughed again, resting his head on the pillows behind him. “Can you hold him?”

“Me?”

“Yes, you. You’re his grandfather.”

Varian, shaking slightly, lifted Tannin into his arms. He remembered how nervous he had been doing this with Anduin for the first time, and now here he was, doing the very same with Anduin’s child. He held the tiny baby to his chest and bounced him gently. “I am, aren’t I?” He leaned back in his chair and simply looked at him for a while. “Though I maintain that I’m too young for this; and so are you.”

“I know, Father.” Anduin smiled sleepily at his father and his son. “But I’m glad you’re here for me.”

Varian looked up. “Of course I am, Anduin. You mean all the world and more to me, do you understand?”

A soft chuckle was the only response from the boy.

Another sigh. He ruffled Anduin’s hair. “Get some rest,” he said. “You deserve it.” 


 Wrathion rested his elbows on the side of the crib, leaning over to get a better look. “You must admit,” he said, “he looks more like your father.”

“Orcs aren’t exactly known for having light hair,” Anduin replied from a nearby rocking chair. “Though I suppose you have a point.”

“Can I hold him?”

“Arguably, you were one of the first to do so,” the prince teased. He got to his feet and easily lifted his son into his arms. “Be sure to support his head.”

It was a bit of an awkward sight; two teen boys, one of them teaching the other how to properly cradle his son. But Anduin wrapped his arms around Wrathion so that Tannin was between them, and Wrathion bowed his head to kiss the child sweetly.

“Every bit as beautiful as his father,” he whispered.

Anduin laughed. “You flatter me, Wrathion.”

“I know.” He kissed Anduin this time, earning one of those little snort-laughs he loved so very much.

“Say, Anduin?”

“Hm?”

“Would it be too forward if I were to ask to be a second father to little Tannin?”

Anduin blinked. “Are you . . . asking me to marry you?”

“Perhaps. Hypothetically.”

“Then no, I don’t think you would be being too forward at all.” He cupped Wrathion’s cheek. “And, if you were to ask, you would surely get a yes from me.”

A grin broke out across Wrathion’s face, nearly splitting it in two, and he kissed the other boy once more. “Then, in that case, shall we stop with this silly hypothetical?”

“I’d like that very much.”

Chapter Text

The night was quiet. Tannin pulled his lower lip down with two fingers, examining his small tusks in his reflection on the window. A slight sigh escaped him. “Wrathi?”

Wrathion lifted his head, not quite glancing up from his book. “Yes, Tannin?”

“Am I a human?”

“Of course you are.” He turned a page. “What makes you ask that?”

“I got weird teeth. Dad doesn’t have ‘em, Granpa doesn’t have ‘em, and even you don’t have ‘em; I’ve never seen anyone with teeth like mine.” He tilts his head, examining himself in the makeshift mirror. “D’you know why, Wrathi?”

The dragon worried the inside of his lip, setting his book on the small table beside him. “You’re a very unique little boy, Tannin. Your teeth are just one of the things that make you who you are.”

“Hm.” He came over to the couch where his stepfather sat and clambered up beside him. “Does Dad know why I have weird teeth?”

“What makes you think I don’t know?”

“‘Cause you won’t gimme a real answer.” He grinned.

Wrathion screwed up his face, trying to scowl, but eventually gave in to his laughter. “You’re definitely your Dad’s son.” He ruffled the boy’s hair.

Tannin giggled. “C’mon, Wrathi;  tell me!”

“It’s very complicated. You’ll understand better when you’re older.” He got to his feet with one fluid motion, pulling Tannin up onto his hip as he did so. “Come on. I think it’s time for bed, hm?” 


 The afternoon was still. A gentle breeze blew through an open window, ruffling the dark waves of hair on the young prince’s head as he flipped through the pages of a history book. He paid no mind to the words. “Dad, why do we hate the Horde?”

Anduin looked up from his notebook. “I wouldn’t say that we hate the Horde,” he said. “But we’ve been at war for a long, long time. Ever since your Granpa was a child.”

“Does he hate the Horde?”

“I don’t think he does as much now. But he used to.”

“Do you hate the Horde?”

“No. Although I have some . . . issues, with their methods.”

“Have you ever met the Horde?”

“The Horde isn’t a person, Tannin. It’s a group of peoples, just the same as the Alliance. But, yes, I’ve met a number of its members. Many of them were quite friendly.”

“Then why are we at war?”

“Old conflicts, Tannin. Grudges that everyone is too stubborn to let go of.”

Tannin looked back at his book. “I don’t like war,” he said as he turned the page.

Anduin chuckled. “I don’t, either. But it takes a lot to end one, once it’s started.”

“What’s the Horde like?”

“For the most part, they’re very noble. Honorable fighters, particularly the orcs.”

“Orcs?”

The man went over to his son’s side, pointing to one of the drawings on the page. “That’s an orc. They’re usually green, and they’re very big. There are also Sin’dorei, Tauren, Goblins, Forsaken, and Nightborne.”

Tannin rested his cheek on his fist. “This is confusing.”

“I know, Tannin. Azeroth has a long and complicated history.”

“Do I really gotta learn all of it, Dad?”

“Yes, Tannin. You’re going to be the King of Stormwind one day, after all.”

“Do I have to?”

“Yes. You’re my only heir. That’s why you have to attend those special classes to teach you about how to be a proper prince.”

“Can’t you get another heir?”

Anduin laughed. “Not at the moment, no. It’s not that easy.” He stood once more. “But don’t worry; that’s still a long, long way off.”

Chapter Text

Tannin chewed lightly on the end of his pencil. “Okay, so there’s Great-Granpa Llane, his wife, Great-Gramma Taria, her brother, Great-Uncle Lothar, his son, Callan, and Llane and Taria were Granpa’s parents?”

“Precisely, Tannin. And what was Granpa’s sister’s name?”

“Adariall. She died around the same time as Llane and Taria, right?”

“Very good remembering. Yes, Great-Granpa Llane and Great-Aunt Addie both died during the Siege of Stormwind, and Great-Granma Taria got sick on the way to Lordaeron.”

“But Granpa made it, and he was friends with Arthas.”

“For a while. When they were children.”

“What about Gramma?”

“My mother?”

The boy nodded. “Everyone else’s got a mom. What about yours?”

“I never actually knew her. She died before my first birthday.”

“Oh.” He paused. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s quite alright, Tannin. There’s no need to be sorry.”

“What about my mom?”

The dull, burning ache in Anduin’s knee suddenly sprang to life.

“You don’t have a mother, in the traditional sense,” he explained slowly. “I suppose, from a biological standpoint, I would be considered your mother.”

“But you’re my dad!”

“I know. It’s a bit complicated.” He sighed. “Alright, so, when you were born, we all knew that you were a boy. That still holds true, yes?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, when I was born, everyone thought I was a girl. It wasn’t until later that I discovered who I really was, and started to tell people.”

“Oh. Is that why you have long hair? Did people think Granpa was a girl, too?”

Anduin chuckled. “No, I just have long hair because I like it. And everyone knew that Granpa was a boy from the start.”

“What about Wrathi?”

“Well, Wrathi knew he was a boy, but it’s a bit different for dragons. Were he human, yes, people would have thought him to be a girl.”

“Huh.” Tannin waved his pencil between two fingers. “So, if you’re like my mother, who’s like my father?”

The blond tensed. He set his jaw. “We don’t talk about your father, Tannin, alright?”

“Why not?”

“Because he wasn’t a good person. You, however, are a very good person.”

“Is he dead?”

“Yes.”

“How’d he die?”

“He was executed.” Anduin folded his arms. “Good riddance. This world is far better off without him.”

“What’d he do?”

“He . . . “ He sighed. How the hell am I supposed to explain this to a four year old? “He hurt a lot of people. I was one of them, unfortunately. But I’m okay now, alright? So don’t worry about it. And he can’t hurt anyone anymore. It’s best if we just forget about him.”

Tannin glanced down. “Did he have teeth like mine?”

“ . . . Yes.”

Chapter Text

Tannin furrowed his brow at the history book in his lap. The leather binding was weathered, the pages yellow and frail, and the ink had smudged in some spots and faded in others. What drew his attention, though, was that one of the names had been consistently scratched out.

“Historian Llore,” he said quietly. “Take a look at this.”

Llore looked up from his clerical work. “What is it?”

“Someone’s defaced this book.”

The man made a face. “Let me see.” He flipped through a few pages. “Orcish history, eh?”

Tannin shrugged. “I’ve got to learn about them sometime, right?”

“Mm.” Llore studied the book intently. “It’s only the first name,” he commented. “Curious.”

“Do you know who it’s talking about?”

“One of the Hellscreams. Possibly Grommash, but more likely his son.”

“No, it mentions Grommash earlier on.” The young prince went back a couple of chapters and pointed out a few paragraphs. “See?”

“Then it’s Garrosh.” He returned to where they’d been looking before and skimmed over the contents. “Yes, the scarring of the Vale of Eternal Blossoms, the ‘true Horde,’ his trial and subsequent execution . . . “ He sighed. “Damn it, Varian.”

“What?”

“Your grandfather had a bit of a grudge against Garrosh,” the historian explained. “Well, more than a bit. He hated him with a passion. He must have come down here and done this while nobody was looking.” He sighed again, running a hand down his face. “Now I have to pour through every book and fix every spot where he crossed his name out.”

“That sucks.”

“That’s one way of putting it.” He closed the book and gathered it into his arms. “Thank you for bringing this to my attention, Your Highness.”

“Of course, Llore.” The young prince paused. “But why did my grandfather hate Garrosh so much?”

“Well, I’m sure you’ve heard from your father how most orcs are very honorable, yes?”

“I have.”

“Garrosh was one of the exceptions to that rule. He killed many people, both directly and as a result of his actions. And he did unspeakable things to those he didn’t kill.”

“Such as?”

Llore couldn’t help but chuckle. “They’re called unspeakable things for a reason, Your Highness.”

“But I’m the son of the High King; surely you can make an exception for me.”

“I’m afraid I can’t. I’m under express orders from your father not to divulge any details.”

Tannin stopped. His eyebrows knit together. “Why?”

“Let’s just say your father isn’t a fan of Garrosh’s either and leave it at that, alright?”

:”But that doesn’t make sense.”

“Your Highness-”

“Come on, Historian Llore; just tell me the truth. I’m bound to figure it out someday, anyway.”

“I insist that you drop the matter here and now, Prince Tannin,” Llore snapped. “I’m not going to disobey the king. And I suggest that you follow my example.”

The boy groaned. “Fine, fine. But you’re only postponing the inevitable.”

“I know, Your Highness. Thank you.”

A non-committal grunt was the boy’s only reply. 


 Anduin shuffled sleepily into the library, a cup of coffee in hand, and pulled down a reference guide on magical plants in Zuldazar. He flipped lazily through the pages as he sipped his coffee, eyes still half-lidded.

“Ah, Your Majesty!”

He looked up, a bit slower than usual, to see Historian Llore walking swiftly towards him.

“Ah, Llore. What-”

“It’s the prince,” the historian interrupted. “I may have let some things slip to him.”

“What are you talking about?”

Llore showed Anduin the book he was holding. He quickly opened it, gesturing to where Garrosh Hellscream’s name had been scratched out by hand. “It would seem that your father took your words to heart.”

Anduin groaned. “Shit.” He let out a deep sigh as he put his own book back on the shelf. “I’ll assume Tannin grilled you about it then, hm?”

“He tried, I’ll give him that. But I didn’t tell him about, well-”

“Thank you, Llore. For warning me.” He pinched the bridge of his nose. “Light, it is too early for this.”

“My apologies, Your Majesty-”

“No need, Llore. I’m glad you told me early.” He took a long drink from his coffee. “What am I going to tell him?”

“I don’t know,” came Llore’s quiet reply. “I wish I could help you more with this.”

“I appreciate the thought.” He leaned against the bookshelves. “But honestly, what am I even going to say to him? ‘You’re the result of one of the most traumatic events of my life so far; being raped by a man who hated me’?” He laughed humorlessly. “He’s thirteen, Llore.”

“And you were only fifteen. It’s unfair to both of you.”

“I know.” Anduin swirled his drink. “But he deserves to know the truth. I owe him that much.”

“Perhaps you could have someone else tell him?”

“No. This is a family matter. It should be between the two of us.”

“Of course, Your Majesty, of course. I shouldn’t have asked.”

“It’s alright, Llore. And, you know you can still call me Anduin, right? You’ve known me for most of my life.”

The historian shrugged. “You’re my king. It’s only proper.”

“I suppose.” Anduin finished his coffee. “I’m going to talk to Velen. Perhaps he’ll have some insight on the matter.”

“That sounds like an excellent idea, Your Majesty.” 


 Wrathion paused before knocking on the door. “Are you sure about this?”

“No. But I have to tell him sooner or later. I’d rather he hear it from me than be left to figure it out for himself.” Anduin gripped his cane a bit tighter. “Come on.”

The dragon sighed through his nose, gently rapping his knuckles against the dark wood.

“Who is it?”

“It’s us,” Anduin replied. “May we come in?”

The door muffled the sound of a chair scraping across the stone floor, then footsteps, and the door opened. “I’m a bit busy,” Tannin said nervously. “Can you come back later?” His gaze lingered on Anduin’s cane. “Wrathi, take Dad to bed. I think he needs to rest.”

“I’m fine, Tannin,” Anduin assured him. “What are you doing in there?”

“I’m studying.”

“Studying what?”

“Thalassian. Just brushing up, y’know?”

“Tan,” Wrathion interrupted. He got down on one knee, and the boy looked pointedly away. “Tannin, look at me.”

A thick lump rose in Anduin’s throat.

“Have you been crying?”

“I-I finished translating the Canticle of Sacrifice.” He wiped away his tears on his sleeve. “I just miss Granpa.”

Wrathion sighed. He pulled Tannin into his arms and held him tightly. “I know you do, Tan.”

Tannin pulled gently away from Wrathion’s grasp. “Can I just have some time to myself?”

Anduin rested one hand on his son’s shoulder. “Of course. Take as much time as you need, alright? We’ll be here when you need us.”

“Thanks, Dad.”

The prince closed the door. He turned his attention back to the tomes on his desk, one of which was open to an illustration of his father, alongside a standing mirror. He picked up his pen once more and read over what he’d written on a spare bit of parchment before continuing.

Dad;

I’m sorry for what happened to you. It was disgusting and vile, and it never should have happened. It’s because of that — and, by extension, me — that you’ve had to grow up far too quickly. It isn’t fair to you.

I love you, and I wish you well.

~T.W.

He left the note on his desk and opened his window wide. The wind ruffled his dark curls, the cool morning air filling his lungs and refreshing his spirits. He climbed through the window and down the nearby vines, as he had done many times, and ventured out into the city.

Chapter Text

The reconstruction of Westfall had been a long and arduous task. Despite only being a half-day’s journey from the capital, the definite disconnect from Stormwind survived long after the Defias Brotherhood’s takeover, and even after its disbanding. It was easy enough to secure passage, though, and so Tannin made his way there as he ran away from home.

“Say,” said the man driving the cart he was riding in. “Where’re y’from, kid?”

He didn’t answer immediately. “Orgrimmar. I’ve been staying with family in Stormwind, though.”

“Orgrimmar?” He whistled. “Y’an orc?”

“Half.”

“What’s the other half?”

“Human.”

“Damn. Don’t meet a lotta half-orcs around here, huh?”

“No. I’m the only one I’ve ever known.”

The man gave him a look. “How old’re you?”

“I’m turning thirteen next week.”

“What’re y’gonna do in Westfall?”

Tannin shrugged. “I’m a decent worker,” he said. “I’m sure I’ll figure something out.”

“Well, my sister-in-law’s got a little patch’a land out there. ‘M sure she wouldn’t mind some help. She’s kinda gettin’ on in years, if y’know what I’m sayin’. Threw her back out a few summers ago. Hasn’t been the same.”

“And . . . You’re sure she wouldn’t mind?”

“So long as y’speak Common.” He barked with laughter. “What’s your name, kid?”

“It’s, uh.” He thought for a moment. “Thruk.”

“Thruk? Y’sure? Y’don’t sound too sure.”

“No, I’m sure. I just don’t use it often.”

“Whaddya usually go by?”

“ . . . Thomas?”

The man shrugged. “Alright, y’don’t gotta tell me. I get it. We all got shit we’re dealin’ with.” He held out a hand. “Syd Gladstone.”

“Good to meet you.” Tannin shook Syd’s hand. “Thanks for the ride,” he said. “And the job.”

“No problem, Thruk.” 


 

Anduin knocked gently on the door to his son’s bedroom. “Tannin?” He waited a moment for a response, then knocked a bit louder. “Tannin, it’s almost dinnertime. Come out.”

No answer.

He sighed. “Tan, talk to me.”

Nothing.

“Do I have to come in there?”

The silence sat on Anduin’s shoulders like a shawl and in his stomach like a stone. His voice was just a touch higher when he spoke again.

“Alright, you leave me no choice.” He took the knob and turned it, resisting the impulse to close his eyes, look down, look away, because if he saw it it would be real.

The prince was nowhere to be seen. There was a note on the desk, weighed down with a small stone, atop an open book. Beside the note was a face that still made his insides turn; Garrosh Hellscream.

“Oh, Light.” The king’s pulse quickened. He picked up the paper with shaking hands and read it over once, twice, before he noticed the open window.

“Oh, Light, no, don’t tell me-” He hurried over and looked down, but saw no body. Not even blood on the cobblestones below. He let out a gasping sigh, leaning heavily against the window frame, resting his head on his forearm. “Shit.” He read over the letter once more. His feet moved, he knew that much, but he didn’t register where he was going. He had all but memorized the short message by the time he was pulled from his reverie.

“Andy!”

He slowly looked up. The parchment was limp in his hands. “Tannin’s gone,” he said softly.

Wrathion blinked. “Gone? What do you mean, gone?”

Anduin held out the note. “I’m going to get together a search party,” he said. “Every able-bodied person in this city — in this kingdom — will be on the lookout for my son.” He set his jaw, though his eyes were quickly filling with hot tears. “I’m not going to lose him.”

Chapter Text

Even as the evening drew closer, the setting sun beat down on the boy’s back, orange light reflecting off sweat-slicked skin. He pushed back a few stray curls that had plastered themselves to his forehead. The door of the house squeaked open, and there stood a woman. She gestured for him to come inside when he finally looked up from his work.

“Good’a you to do all this,” she said as he crossed the threshold. “Woulda taken me five days to do what you’ve managed in five hours.”

“It’s not a problem,” he replied. He helped himself to the pitcher of ice water on the nearby counter. “I’m happy to help, LIza.”

“Mm.” She sat at the small kitchen table and poured herself a glass, as well. “So, Syd said you’re from Stormwind?”

“Yeah. I’ve lived there for most of my life, but I don’t remember anything else, really.”

“Who were y’living with?”

“My dads.”

“Two of em?”

“Yeah. It’s been legal for over ten years.”

“Hey, that’s not what I’m saying. Don’t be puttin’ words in my mouth. I had a wife of my own for over twice as long as you’ve been alive, ‘nd we never even made it official, legally speaking.”

“What happened to her?”

“She died. Third war.”

“Oh.” Tannin looked away for a moment. “I’m sorry.”

“Eh, not your fault. Long before you were even born.” Liza downed her glass. “D’your dads know where y’are?”

Tannin studied the wood grain of the table. “No,” he said quietly. “And I don’t want them to.”

“Any particular reason?”

He remained silent.

Liza sighed. “Fine.” She got to her feet. “There’s a spare room upstairs. Might be a little dusty, but it’s better than the table. Holler if you need anything.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah. Y’seem like a good kid.” She yawned, stretching both arms above her head. “Night, Thruk.”

“Goodnight, Liza. And, uhm. Thank you.

“Yeah, yeah. See y’in the morning.”

Chapter Text

Anduin slipped quietly into Tannin’s room, closing the door as quietly as possible behind him. His hands shook slightly. He adjusted his grip on his cane as he glanced around. It was the same as always, but now with a thin layer of dust. He sat on the bed and put his head in his hands.

“Anduin?”

The king refused to acknowledge the other man now standing in the doorway.

Wrathion sighed and sat beside his husband. “You shouldn’t do this to yourself,” he said softly.

“I’ll do what I damn well please, Wrathion.”

“I know, darling.” He reached around to lift Anduin’s face, cupping his cheek, and pressed a tender kiss to his forehead. “But we’ll find him.”

Anduin wouldn’t meet his gaze. “Is it my fault he ran away?”

“Of course not, sweetness. It’s nobody’s fault. He just needs some time to think, is all.”

“But how much time does he need? It’s been over a month. He hasn’t even so much as sent a letter to let us know he’s alright.” He licked his lips. “I don’t know what else to do.”

“He’s a smart kid, Andy. He’s more than capable of fending for himself. And we know the Horde doesn’t have him, so that’s not even an issue worth worrying about.”

“And yet here I am.” A hollow laugh tumbled from Anduin’s lips. He leaned on Wrathion’s shoulder and closed his eyes. “I need a distraction.”

“Anduin, you’re not in a well state of mind.”

“I don’t care.” He gingerly put a hand on his husband’s knee. “Please. Take me back to our chambers and-”

“Andy, no.” Wrathion took the other’s face with both hands. “You know I love you, and I’m not going to let you do this to yourself.”

Anduin reached up to take Wrathion’s hands in his own. “Wrathi, dearest-”

The dragon sighed. He pressed their foreheads together. “Now’s not the time, my love.” He gave Anduin a quick kiss. “Go on to bed, alright?”

“But I want you.”

“I know. And I want you too. But I’m not going to be part of this. You know why you get like this; you’re overwhelmed, and then you feel worse when we’re done.” He tucked away a strand of golden hair. “How about a game of Jihui, hm? That’ll distract you.”

Anduin leaned forward for another kiss. “You know me too well,” he complained, but there was a light smile on his face. “Alright.”

“There we go.” Wrathion kissed back, but adamantly kept his mouth closed. “Come on.”

Chapter Text

A month’s worth of plowing and tilling soil in the late spring sun didn’t go unnoticed. Tannin easily lifted a bale of hay over his shoulder and brought it into the barn.

“Hey, Buttercup,” he said as he set it down by the entrance. He grabbed the pitchfork hanging on the wall and began to clean out the old straw into a wheelbarrow. Buttercup, of course, ignored him, instead nuzzling her calf with her nose.

“Busy gossiping with Angus, huh?”

The calf came over and nudged Tannin’s leg. The boy reached down to give him a quick scratch behind the ears before continuing his work. “How’s it going, little guy?”

Angus let out an excited little “moo” as he pranced around.

“I know, Ango. I’ll let you out in a minute. I gotta milk your mama first, okay?”

Cleaning out the barn and laying down fresh hay was fairly easy for Tannin. It only took him about ten minutes, and then he set to work at Buttercup’s side with a bucket, working as best as he could with an eager calf nudging his shoulders and licking his face. When he was done, he led both of them out into the large, fenced off pasture, and brought the milk into the house to put it in the fridge.

“Morning, Thruk,” Liza yawned as she came down the stairs.

“Morning,” he replied.

The older woman poured some of the milk into her coffee. “Syd said he’d be down today to pick up the deliveries for the city.”

“He better come soon. I was just wondering whether or not we should be investing in another fridge.”

“He’s not used to this place being so productive,” she reasoned. “When it’s just me, it’s usually just milk and eggs. Now that you’re here, not only’s there more of those, but the roots and cabbages, too.”

“Really?”

“Oh, yeah. Didn’t y’see how bad the fields looked when y’first got here?” She laughed. “I couldn’t do shit out there.”

Tannin laughed. “I still gotta grab the eggs,” he said. “I’ll be back in a few minutes, then we can have a real breakfast.”

“You cookin’?”

“I can certainly try. I think I’m getting the hang of it.”

“‘Atta boy.” She ruffled his hair. “And pull that back; it’s getting all over the place.”

“Alright.” He grabbed an elastic on his way back out and pulled his dark curls into a low ponytail. Syd’s cart was already coming down the road, and he waved before heading to the coop behind the house, but Syd didn’t wave back.

When Tannin had fed the chickens and gathered the eggs, he started to head back inside, but stopped when he heard Liza and Syd talking from inside. He stood by the door and listened.

“I think the kings’re gettin’ desperate, Liz. There’s search parties all the way from Arathi to Stranglethorn. I heard there’s even some in Kul Tiras. And that’s just on our side; there’s no doubt the Horde’s after ‘im, too.

“I know, Syd, but d’y’really think we should turn him in?”

“Turn him in- Liza, y’make it sound like he’s a wanted man.”

“He kinda is, Syd.”

“But not like that.

“I know, I know. But y’know as well as I do that there’s a reason he ran away, even if he won’t tell us.”

Syd sighed. “We’ve gotta convince ‘im, then. At least to talk to us. Maybe then we can talk ‘im into goin’ home.”

Tannin stepped into the house. He silently placed the basket of eggs on the table between the two adults, but wouldn’t look either of them in the eye as he turned to go back out.

“Thruk?”

He stopped halfway up the stairs. “Yes?”

“What’s gotten into you, kid?”

The boy turned around, but did not lift his head. “The kings of Stormwind are a human and a dragon. That’s common knowledge. But I’m human and orc. It’s . . . “ He sighed. “My dad shouldn’t’ve had to have me.”

“Thruk?”

“Do you know how old the High King is?”

Syd quickly counted on his fingers. “Twenty . . . seven? Twenty-eight?”

Tannin nodded. “And I’m thirteen. Do the math. He had me at fifteen years old, Syd. He was only two years older than I am now.”

“Thruk-”

“He only knew a handful of orcs at the time. Thrall was one of them, of course, but he’s a good man. And he’s green. Look at me; I’m brown. How many brown orcs were even on Azeroth thirteen years ago? Who, among them, was known to be a vile, despicable, abhorrent, corrupt, perverted -”

“Thruk.”

Tannin looked up. Syd had come closer now, reaching out to place one hand on his shoulder.

“I wasn’t wanted,” he continued softly. “I certainly wasn’t planned.” He swallowed. “I stole away his childhood, Syd.”

“Thruk-” Syd sighed. “Tannin. Y’didin’t do anything wrong. You didn’t do anything to your dad, hm? You’re just a kid.”

Tannin smacked his hand away. “Garrosh Hellscream raped my father, and I am the result! I am the degenerate, illegitimate son of the king, and I do not deserve the crown! I do not deserve the care he gave me for all those years! I do not deserve ANYTHING!”

“Tannin!”

He shoved the man aside. “Go on then; tell him. Tell him I was here. Tell him that I stayed here and worked for a month while you did nothing to return me to the castle despite the price on my head. You look him in the eye and you tell him that you harbored his fugitive bastard!” He laughed, high and bitter and with tears in his eyes. “He’ll probably take you in, too.”

Liza stood and began to cross the room. “Kid, listen-”

“Don’t bother.” And he slammed the door behind him.

Chapter Text

The sea stretched out for miles to the west. Tannin sat atop a low cliff, facing the sea, just barely able to see the city in the distance. His chest ached. His eyes were bloodshot and puffy from crying, and salty tears had dried in streaks down his face. He heaved a shuddering sigh and hugged his knees, burying his face in his forearms. He knew that someone would find him sooner or later, but for now, he simply watched the sky’s slow brightening into daylight.

He didn’t know how long he sat there before he heard voices approaching. There was a woman — a Sin’dorei, he realized as he glanced behind himself to look at them, though he was honestly too exhausted to care — and a surprisingly lithe orc. It was the woman who addressed him.

“Are you the chieftan’s son?” It took him a moment to mentally translate her Orcish.

He nodded. “Here to capture me?” He tripped over the words, and he knew it wasn’t saying it right, but it would probably get the point across.

“No.” She knelt beside him. “We’re from Stranglethorn,” she explained slowly. “We heard you’d run away.”

He grunted and bowed his head once more.

“I’m Shadrae,” she continued. “This is Gazka.”

“So?”

“You ran away because you didn’t feel at home, yes?”

He shrugged. “I guess.”

“Want to try a new home?”

He sat up and glared at her. “If you want me to come to Orgrimmar,” he spat, “no. I don’t want any of that.”

“You could learn more Orcish. You already speak it.”

“For diplomatic reasons. Not so I be like . . . “ He sighed. “Sorry.”

“It’s okay.” Shadrae glanced up. “Gazka, why don’t you talk?”

The orc folded their arms, but sat down nonetheless. “Your dad is good,” they said. “What happened was bad. Garrosh was bad.” They paused, tightly gripping his shoulder. “You’re not Garrosh.”

Tannin shrugged her off. “I’m his son. He did bad things, and they live in me.”

“You’re Anduin’s son. He does good things, and they live in you.”

“I hurt him. I destroyed his life just by existing.”

“What happened wasn’t your choice. You are a child.”

“I am a disgrace.”

Gazka sighed. They got to their feet, then grabbed Tannin by the waist and threw him over their shoulder. “You’re going home.”

Tannin grunted as he was tossed around, kicking and squirming at first, but Gazka’s grip was iron. “Let go!”

“Tannin,” Shadrae said sternly. “Your dad asked the Horde to help find you.”

“By taking me hostage?”

“More like a bounty?”

He glared at her. “I can walk.”

“You won’t. You’ll run away.”

“Just let me go!”

“No. Sorry.”

He groaned, eventually resigning himself as he was brought atop a large, orc-bred horse. “I’ll walk when we get to the city.”

Neither of his captors responded.

Chapter Text

The sun was high in the sky by the time the trio reached the gates of Stormwind. Tannin was brought down, handed off to the guards, and the elf and orc were compensated for their efforts. Gazka knelt before Tannin before leaving.

“You’re not Garrosh,” they said lowly. “You are good. Be good.” They knocked their forehead against his. “ Lok-tar gor, * Tannin Wrynn.

“You too. Both of you.” He offered a reluctant smile. “Thanks.”

“Alright, Your Highness,” one of the guards said. They put their hand on the prince’s shoulder. “Come on.”

“Yeah, I know. I’m coming.” He hopped up onto her horse. “Are you?”

They shook their head, and their helmet obscured their face, but he could hear them chuckling despite herself. “Hornsby, Kendall, Carlisle, you’re with me. The rest of you will remain here. We’ll be back once the prince has been returned to his fathers.”

“My dads,” Tannin corrected. “I had one father, and he is not my family.”

The guard turned to him. “You learned the truth about him, then, haven’t you?”

“Am I the only one who didn’t know?”

“No. There were a lot of rumors, but there was never a formal announcement about your parentage.”

“Then how do you know?”

“I was there when your father was captured by the combined effort of the Horde and Alliance in Pandaria. I watched your grandfather testify against him during his trial on your dad’s behalf. And your dad testified, too. I was the one assigned to him, to make sure he stayed safe and didn’t overexert himself.”

“Seriously?”

“Yes. He’s as bullish and strong-willed as his father was. And Wrathion certainly didn’t help, with his antics.” They laughed again. “I wanted to throttle that dragon when I learned that the two of them were getting married. But then I saw how he was with you; how gentle and kind he became . . . “ They shrugged. “I guess he convinced me.”

Tannin smiled, but it faded as he thought. “Do they even really want to see me?”

“I think you know the answer to that, Your Highness.” The group of them dismounted at the entrance to the keep. “I assume you know where you’re going.”

The boy gave the guard a look that fell somewhere between a glare and a smirk. He easily climbed down and glanced inside, then took a deep breath, before walking into the throne room. “Dad,” he called out, internally cursing the way his voice shook.

Anduin looked up. “Oh, Light, Tannin-”

“I-”

Anduin interrupted by all but throwing himself to his knees and pulling his son tightly to his chest. “By the Holy Light, Tannin, you scared us. I thought I’d lost you.”

“Dad?”

“Are you alright?” The blond held the boy at arms’ length and quickly inspected his face. “You aren’t hurt, are you? Nothing broken or bruised or-”

“Dad, I’m okay. Really. I’m fine.”

“Oh,” Anduin sighed. He cupped Tannin’s cheeks. “I’m so glad you’re safe.” He laughed, light and relieved, as tears streamed down his face, and he pulled the boy back into his embrace. “My darling boy.”

Tannin reached up slowly, the tips of his fingers digging into his father’s back. “I’m sorry.”

Anduin laughed again. “Don’t apologize. I used to put your grandfather through the same thing.” He sniffled, but the smile never left his face. “Light, is this how he felt?” He pulled back slightly to wipe his eyes on his sleeve. “I’m so sorry I never told you about your father.”

“Dad, it’s okay. I get it. What he did was awful, and I just made it worse.”

Another sigh. “Tannin, I began to suspect that I was pregnant within a week of what he did. After the incident with the Divine Bell, and it was confirmed to me that you were not only within me, but that we had both survived it . . . “ He licked his lips and tucked a strand of black hair behind Tannin’s ear. “I couldn’t help but be relieved.”

Tannin blinked. “You . . . You wanted me?”

“Not the inciting action, but you?” He breathed out a laugh. “Tannin Wrynn, you are my son. You are a wonderfully kind, remarkably intelligent boy, and I love you to the ends of this world and beyond. I should never have hidden the truth from you.”

“But he . . . Dad, he raped you. How could you ever see something good in that?”

“Because I see you, Tan. And you are the one good thing to have come out of all of that mess. It was unfair, and it hurt, and I will never forgive him for what he did to me. But it happened. And now I have you, and you have nothing to apologize for.” He kissed Tannin’s nose and pressed their foreheads together. “I love you so, so much.”

Hearing that, the boy smiled, playfully pushing against his father’s head with his own. Laughter bubbled from his throat and he wrapped his arms around Anduin’s neck, burying his face in the crook of it to take in the scent of vanilla and chamomile. “I love you too, Dad.”