Nysse raises her hand and knocks lightly on the door. She glances down the hallway either way as a voice calls out from inside, questioning. She leans close and speaks as loud as she dares, “Verune, it’s Nysse.”
There’s a click as a lock releases and the door opens wide, “Nysse?”
She places a finger to her lips and she slips past him and inside the inn room. “Close the door. Please,” the young huntress requests.
Verune’s eyebrows draw close in worry as he shuts the door, “Is something wrong? You didn’t mention anything in the report.”
Now, she finally smiles and shakes her head, “No, no. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to worry you, but I wanted you to know we were leaving… for Feralas. Tsume’s still down in the stable.” At the elder druid’s confused expression, “Morthis granted us, Rhese and I, a vacation. We’re going to Feralas. Our blinker hearths are set to take us back to Darnassus in case of an emergency, but we don’t expect anything.”
The druid frowns, “I still don’t understand the…” He gestures towards the door, “sneaking.”
Nysse’s ears flush, “Rhese and I are going to… get lost for a while, Verune. We need some time to ourselves.” She wraps one arm around herself. “I’m still scared to touch him. I know he’s okay, but I’ve been telling myself for weeks that I can’t and…”
The elder druid smiles gently, his eyes bright with understanding, “Be at ease, Nysse. I’m sure he understands.” He rests a hand on top of her head affectionately. “When will you leave?”
“As soon as I’m done here. Could you please tell the others? We’d rather leave quietly and without fuss.” Nysse pleads, her voice soft. She grasps his other hand with both of hers.
Verune inclines his head, “As you wish. May Elune watch over you both.”
The huntress steps back with a grateful smile, “Thank you.” She turns and grasps the door handle.
“Nysse.” At Verune’s voice, she pauses. He continues, “I know it is difficult, but you don’t need to be ashamed of your love. None of us begrudge your affection for one another, no matter how you display it.”
Nysse blushes, “I know that, but… I don’t know what to do.” Her gaze stays focused on the door. “It feels silly, but I just react.”
Fabric rustles as Verune moves around the tiny, but neat room. “Be yourself. Let your heart guide you and not your mind.”
“I—Thank you.” The door opens with a soft woosh and Nysse slips back out into the hall. Closing the door behind her, Nysse is grateful for the early hour. Most of the others would still be sleeping.
She pads lightly down to the far room. Once again, she glances down the empty hallway before opening the door and stepping in. The door closes silently behind her.
Rhese glances up from the packs, “Any problems?”
Nysse shakes her head, “Verune will let them know. I already went to see Tsume as well.” She walks across the room and crouches next to him. “Need some help?”
Her heart pounds being this close to him. It’d been easy to think to think of being alone with him at the time, but that’d been weeks ago. Weeks of reminding herself to be careful. Weeks of wearing as much clothing as possible to allow to them to be safely together. Weeks of knowing that one simple touch could ruin their entire mission. Now, his simple sleeveless tunic shows enough skin to make her shy away. It’s no surprise that she rocks back on her heels as he raises his bare arm in front of her to point at a blanket folded on the chair.
“Could you hand me the blanket?” Rhese quickly draws his arm back with a sigh.
The blanket drops into his waiting hand, and Nysse quickly stands and busies herself with checking some nearby pouches. The young druid watches her for a long moment with a frown. He slides the blanket into the pack and closes it up. “I think that’s everything.” He grabs the backpack and swings it over his shoulders.
The huntress mirrors the action with nervous jerk. “Then let’s go.”
* * * * *
“They only have one hippogryph at the moment to Feralas. It’ll be a couple of days before another returns.” Rhese joins Nysse off to the side. “He assures me that she’s capable of handling both of us though.”
Nysse shakes her head, “Let’s just wait for the other to return. It’ll be easier that way.” As Rhese reaches out to grasps her hand with a broad smile, Nysse slides down to check on her backpack.
Rhese is left holding his hand out to air and growls in frustration, “Come on, Nysse. I want to get there already. We may have blinker hearthed to Darnassus, but it’s going to be a long day in the air.”
“I’d rather wait,” She speaks flatly. Nysse doesn’t look up from her digging through the open bag.
The young druid crosses his arms, “Why are you insisting on waiting? It’s not like we haven’t ridden double before.”
Glaring, Nysse stands facing Rhese, “It’s not the same this time.”
He waits a long moment, assessing her, “We’re going.” He leans down and closes the backpack even as she flinches away. He stands and heads toward the hippogryph.
Nysse rubs her hand over her face. “Why aren’t you listening?”
Rhese spins, causing Nysse to stop short. “Nysse, we’re going now. Get your pack.” His tone is firm and leaves no room for argument. “Or do you not wish to go anymore?”
Nysse glimpses the tired worry in the lines around his eyes. She shakes her head, “Of course I do!” She looks away and scuffs the dirt with her foot.
There’s a long silence before Rhese speaks, “Then why don’t you let me get close? Have I done something? You don’t have to worry about the curse anymore.”
Her breath catches in her throat and she struggles to speak, “You haven’t done anything. It’s me.” She hangs her head, “I’m scared.” She murmurs more softly. “I’m sorry.”
“Oh Nysse, lovely, please don’t be sorry.” Rhese sighs and runs a hand through his hair, “I’m such a cad.” He sets down his backpack and rummages for a moment. “Would it help if you were wearing a cloak?”
She gives a tentative nod as he pulls out a cloak. He carefully drapes it across her shoulders. Rhese smiles at her, “Is that better, lovely? You can sit in front of me.” At another quiet nod, the druid arranges the transport.
The hippogryph bows down and allows Nysse to swing on its back. She tugs the cloak close as Rhese swings up behind her. She shrinks within his arms as he reaches around to grasp the reins. The hippogryph takes off and they ride in silence. She can feel his heart pounding against her back and the slight tremble in his arms.
The second the bird lands, Rhese leaps off, gathering their equipment. Nysse clambers after him as he moves quickly away from the flight master and into the lush rainforest. “Rhese?”
She calls again, “Rhese? Is it a good idea to head out this close to dark?”
The young druid shifts, pushing further in. Nysse runs to keep up with the cat. Her chest heaves with the effort as she bursts into a beautiful clearing. She raises her hand to shield herself from the spray of the waterfall.
Rhese shifts back into his night elf form and sets the packs on the ground. “We’ll stay here.”
Nysse blinks, “You already knew about this place.” It wasn’t a question.
He laughs mischievously, “I’ve been wanting to show it to you since we decided to take a vacation.” He steps forward to pull her into his arms, but she steps back. His expression falls, “Lovely?”
“I spent weeks reminding myself we couldn’t touch, Rhese.” Her cheeks redden, “Now I can’t seem to forget it.” The young druid tugs off his tunic eliciting a squeak from Nysse, “What are you doing?!”
Rhese drops the shirt to the side as he works on the lacing of his bracers, “I’m proving to you that there’s no curse left.”
The bracers join the tunic on the ground. Nysse’s heart feels like it’s about to burst. “You don’t need to do that!” She gasps. Yet, her eyes follow the long lines of his arms and the ripple of muscles across his torso.
Boots are next. When his hands touch his belt, Nysse turns away. “Rhese! You can stop.”
He chuckles and Nysse hears a rustling of clothing that causes her to hold her breath. She listens for the soft crunch of grass as he steps behind her. “Nysse…” His breath caresses her ear causing her to shiver. “Look for yourself. Prove to yourself that it’s alright. I promise I’ll stay right here. It’s nothing you haven’t seen before.”
True to his word, Rhese stays still until Nysse gathers her courage to turn. “Rhese…”
His eyes are gentle and patient. His hands rest relaxed at his sides, “It’s alright, Nysse. I don’t mind.” His lips curl upwards, “Not if it gives you the comfort you need.”
His face is clear of the marks which had previously plagued it. Her eyes drink in the firm unblemished planes of his chest and abdomen, blushing as her gaze dips a little lower. His legs are also the soft, pale pink that she was familiar with. Her breathing quickens as she walks around him. The long lines of his back are also clear.
Nysse raises a hand to brush her fingers down his back. She blushes deeper as Rhese makes an involuntary gasp. Slowly, she circles him, letting her fingers trail across his upper arm and to his chest. She risks a glance upwards to see him watching her intently, a nervous smile playing at his lips.
“I don’t see anything, but…” Nysse steps back pondering what to do. “Please stay still.”
Rhese grins at her, “Anything my lady wishes.”
She turns away with a tiny squeak and bites her lower lip. Her hands tremble as she leans forward and fumbles with her boots, setting them to the side. The druid is behind her, but her heart pounds knowing his gaze is on her. Her clothing follows her boots one piece at a time. Yet, once done, she freezes.
His voice is a soft, concerned rumble behind her, “Nysse? If you’re not ready…”
She kneels, trying to gather her courage again. Her hands tremble on her thighs. “It’s not that. I’m just… Give me a moment. Please?” Her stomach tightens with nervousness as she stands. “It’s been a while and so much has happened.”
The huntress finally turns, but doesn’t meet his gaze yet. “But that doesn’t mean I don’t want you.” She slowly raises her eyes to his tender gaze, “I’m scared because of how much I do. I’ve never felt like this before… Like I want to lose myself in someone.” She rubs a red cheek, “I’m so happy that I feel like I could cry at any moment.”
His hand twitches, but he holds still otherwise, “I’m here, Nysse. Whatever you need. I’m here.”
“Say it again.” Nysse steps forward to where they’re not quite touching. She places her palms on his chest and holds his gaze.
His voice is husky and she can feel it rumble through his chest, “I’m here, Nysse.”
With a happy cry, she flings her arms around him. Rhese gathers her close and kisses her, knowing better than to comment on the tears running down her cheeks.
* * * * *
Later, Nysse lays across Rhese’s chest with a content smile. He strokes her back, “You had me worried when you stepped away, vixen. Did you know what you were going to do?”
She pinches his arm, “I was worried, but… I need you, Rhese. You’re my–.” Nysse hesitates.
Rhese growls and tightens the arm around her waist. “Mate. You’re my mate.”
“M-mate.” Nysse manages to stutter with pink cheeks. She looks up, “Is that okay? I mean, do you mind being m-mates?”
He grins and shifts so he can kiss her, “Of course it’s okay with me. I said it, didn’t I? I should be asking that of you.” The smile fades for a moment, “It is okay with you, isn’t it? Verune says it, but we didn’t have a chance to talk about it after the Dream.”
The young woman buries her face in his neck, only looking up long enough to answer, “I… I like it.”
He nuzzles into her hair, “I love you, Nysse.” He grins at her mumbled reply in his ear, echoing him. “One of these days I’m going to get you to not embarrass so easily.”
“I don’t think that’s possible…”