Gidwin probably would never have done anything if it hadn't been for all the fuss in Ironforge.
A crowd of girls pushed toward him as he landed at the flight point. He heard one of them say, "But we've still got to find a blood elf to scatter rose petals on!"
"I know a – " Gidwin started to say.
The girls flocked around him. "A blood elf mage?"
"Well, no, a pala – "
The flock dashed away to the gryphons. Gidwin shrugged and headed for the Commons.
He had just passed the training dummies when a gnome grabbed his wrist. "You a hunter?"
"No, I'm a pala –"
"Never mind," the gnome said. "Need a draenei for that!"
Puzzled, Gidwin went on.
There was a commotion near the bank: a crowd was shooting off pink and red fireworks, tossing rose petals, and waving weird bracelets in the air.
Gidwin picked up a Love is in the Air! pamphlet and a price list: cologne, perfume, romantic picnic baskets, chocolate, rose petals...
Let them know how special they are, the pamphlet said. Shower them with rose petals.
Sometime later, after convincing Fiona that it might be a nice change to stay at a decent inn for once, Gidwin took a bath, oiled his beard, splashed on … He considered the bottles of perfume and cologne he'd bought. Which to use? He decided that, under the circumstances, it didn't hurt to splash a bit of both on. He dithered over what to wear, but in the end decided on a clean nightshirt.
And then he settled down to wait for Tarenar.
He'd dozed off by the time the elf barged in, seven-eighths drunk from bragging in the tavern about his day's exploits.
"Nice room," Tarenar said, staggering around as he took off his gauntlets and a pauldron. "Wheresa bed?"
"Have a wash up first," Gidwin urged. "The sheets are fancy, we shouldna muck 'em up!"
"All right!" Tarenar spun around a few times, dropping the other pauldron and his chestplate. "Wheresa wash?"
Gidwin pushed Tarenar in the general direction of the basin. Once some splashing commenced Gidwin turned down the sheets, scattered the rose petals, and nervously lit the candles. By that point his belly was fluttering with a cave's worth of bats, but as Tarenar hadn't run screaming yet ...
He turned to see Tarenar looking at the rosy, candlelit bower, swaying and shaking his head as if his neck were melting.
"Wow," Tarenar said, then pitched forward, landing smack-down on the floor like a sack of apples.
"Well, so much for that," Gidwin sighed. It certainly wasn't the end he'd hoped for to the evening. He had a brief moment when he was tempted to leave the half-armored elf splatted on the floor, but of course that wasn't right. At the very least he ought to lug the daft carcass onto the bed.
He removed Tarenar's boots and belt, and then hesitated. He'd never removed another man's greaves – well, not counting dead enemies, but that hardly counted, that was just the economy of war, to the victor went the bloody sweaty spoils and all that. He'd never stripped the living unless they were bleeding to death, and he could hardly count this as a medical emergency, well, there was some urgency, and he supposed it did involve blood, but it was hardly life-threatening and –
"Oh, blast it all," he muttered. As his Gran used to say, in for a clod, in for an acre, so he unbuckled the buckles and stacked the pieces of armor next to the night table, giving an appreciative chuckle as he took away the groin plate. "So that's yer secret, you sly devil? No undies?"
Then he did what any love-smitten dwarf faced with a naked, unconscious blood elf would do: after he hoisted Tarenar onto the petal-strewn bed he spooned him for all he was worth.
"What is all this?" Tarenar was sitting up, brushing rosepetals off his chest and arms.
"Dunno." Gidwin, blushing, plucked a few from the blood elf's red hair.
Tarenar glanced over at the dwarf. "They're all over you, too," he said, peeling one from Gidwin's forehead, then throwing back the coverlet and getting out of bed. "What a weird custom."
"Coulda been worse," Gidwin said, drinking in the sights. "Coulda been cabbage leaves."
"I suppose." Tarenar lifted one of his legs and sighed at his sticky inner thighs. "Er, Gid, sorry if I got this on you," he said as he went to the wash-basin. "Must have been the bed: this doesn't happen when we sleep in the wagon."
"Not a problem," Gidwin said, blushing even harder, and wishing he'd been awake for whatever his and Tarenar's trusty Two-Handers had got up to during the night. "Damp that up and bring it here, if ya would." He pulled his nightshirt down to cover his lap.
"Sure." Tarenar walked over, holding out the cloth. "Though I don't see why you don't just get out of bed and get it yourself, you lazy sod."
"Leg cramp," Gidwin lied. "Bend down, you've something on your ear." As Gidwin cleaned up the melted chocolate he made a mental note that candy on the pillow wasn't such a great idea, and then — as Tarenar half-closed his eyes and made a soft, very interesting sound — a second mental note that there appeared to be some truth in the rumor about the sensitivity of elf ears.
"Why's your face turning so red?" Tarenar asked.
"Well ... why's yours?" Gidwin countered.
Before he could answer Tarenar noticed the pile of armor stacked next to the bed. "By the Light! What happened here?" he demanded.
The stout candles, which had of course had spent the night slowly turning into low craters of molten wax with wicks, had merrily continued to burn until the craters melted, releasing tiny rivers of molten wax that had run across the small table and dripped down onto a certain blood elf paladin's highly cherished silver-and-gold armor.
"Well that's a mess," Gidwin said.
"Candles are stupid," Tarenar said. "Why not use oil lamps or enchanted crystals like normal inns do?"
"No idea," Gidwin said. "Maybe it's part of the holiday."
"A holiday? Really?" Tarenar sat on the edge of the bed and begin peeling the wax off a leg-plate. "What's it called? How is it celebrated? Is there drinking?"
Gidwin surreptitiously picked a stray rosepetal off his companion's hip. "It's called Valentine," Gidwin said. He thought for a moment, then said, "And it's traditional to kill demons and undead with your best friend, then hoist a dozen tankards together."
"Really?" Tarenar sounded like a little kid who'd just been handed a present. "That's lucky! I can't think of anything I'd rather do than go 'round eradicating the Scourge and then go drinking with you, Gid!"
It was, Gidwin thought, far and away the most romantic thing he'd ever heard.
~ The End~
(08) 19 October 2014