Two weeks later, after a long absence and several more episodes of Elly tormenting Idira and Ryback intervening, Logan turned up on the morning of Idira's free day wearing a well-cut pair of brown leather breeches, knee-high boots and a fitted white shirt over his muscled torso, its sleeves rolled up to his elbows and the laces at the neck left open at his throat. He'd tied his hair back into a messy ponytail and sported a day's worth of stubble, but instead of detracting from his looks, his roguish appearance only added to his appeal.
As she finished pinning her hair up, Idira caught him leaning against the kitchen's fireplace, his arms crossed over his chest, catching up with Ryback while he waited for her to finish getting ready. She wondered for the hundredth time why she couldn't be with him, especially when he looked so terribly handsome. She went out, feeling a little shy and more than a little attracted to him. He made his farewells to Ryback and held out his arm to her, leading her up the stairs and out from the deserted inn, apparently oblivious to Elly's scathing, jealous glare as she polished wine glasses behind the bar.
'I thought I could show you around the city a little before going to see Lady Nin's memorial. Would you like that?' he asked as they stepped out into brilliant sunshine. Idira felt a little thrill at the thought of having so much time with him and said yes, but he didn't seem to hear. He glanced around the busy street, preoccupied and distant. Despite her own delight at the chance to explore, she sensed something was troubling him. She hoped it wasn't because of the tension with Elly. She knew Ryback had sent a message to him, warning him about what was going on, saying he had it in hand and was watching out for her, though she wished he hadn't said anything. She didn't want Logan to think she was causing problems after all he'd done for her.
He led her on, taking her through the narrow, winding, cobbled streets of the mostly residential Old Town. Shabby chic, very trendy, Logan explained as they walked, bemoaning the fact the apartment prices in the Old Town were the most expensive in all of Stormwind, which annoyed him since its location was convenient to the barracks. But, he'd sighed, resigned, it seemed everyone who was anyone wanted to live in the suddenly popular district because Prince Anduin had taken a fancy to drinking at one of the little coffee houses nestled in one of the Old Town's many hidden courtyards. Logan rolled his eyes at that, shaking his head, muttering about the vapidity of the city's residents.
They pressed on, wending their way through the jangle of people hurrying about their affairs into a narrow lane, the gables of the towering three-story houses overhanging so much they left the lane's cobbles in perpetual shadow. Logan took her hand and shouldered his way through a tight knot of shoppers gathered around a bakery, the delicious smell of cinnamon buns wafting from its open door making Idira's mouth water. He pulled her free of the crowd and headed towards a stone-arched gateway and into a tunnel. They came out onto a pretty, tree-lined walkway alongside a canal. In the distance several stone bridges crossed to other parts of the city.
For a while, Idira was content just to follow along and take in the wonders surrounding her. Since she'd arrived at the inn, she hadn't been any further than the lanes adjacent to it, and even then only briefly since she'd been sent out to run errands and told to hurry back. She pointed at a group of children fishing from a little dock in the canal, commenting on how charming everything seemed. Logan didn't say anything. She glanced up at his profile. He stared into the distance, preoccupied, far gone in his thoughts.
She touched his arm. 'Is something wrong?' she asked.
He didn't answer. She tried again. He turned, his eyes still unfocussed as he looked at her. 'Hmm?'
'I asked if something is troubling you,' she repeated for the third time.
She knew he'd heard her that time, because his eyes cleared and for a beat his expression betrayed him; dread, worry, and tension etched their way across his features before he smoothed his look and smiled at her.
'Nothing I can't manage,' he answered, patting her hand, patronising.
Idira stopped. 'No,' she said, holding him back, 'don't do that. A blind person could see something is wrong. I want to know.'
Logan looked down at his feet as he considered her request. He shifted his weight, his hand sliding up to rub the back of his neck, something Idira had begun to recognise as something he did whenever he was uncertain. Despite her instincts flaring, she held her tongue, giving him time.
He nodded at a bench, set under the shade of one of the trees lining the canal. 'Let's sit down then.'
He waited as she took her seat, though instead of joining her, he remained standing, his arms crossed over his chest as he looked out over the city, bustling with life and colour. Vendors stood by their carts on the opposite side of the canal calling out to browsing shoppers, holding out trinkets and baubles, their gilt edges catching the light of the morning sun. The breeze picked up, carrying with it the sweet scent of roasted chestnuts mingled with the stronger alkaline smells from the canal; the earthy, humid tang of the bright green algae growing along the canal's waterline mixed with the wild freshness of icy water streaming down from the mountains, racing past them towards the sea. A little way down, on the next bench, a group of young women huddled together, giggling, eyeing Logan.
'Idira,' Logan began, turning his back to the murmurs of his admirers, 'I—'
One of the young women laughed, a little too loud. Idira got up, offended by the incongruity of the woman's timing.
'Please, let's walk,' she said, needing to put some distance between herself and the women, quickly becoming a distraction as their confidence grew and their voices raised, the subject of their conversation becoming suggestive, clearly intended for Logan's ears.
Logan nodded. He steered her towards the nearest bridge. Idira could hear the women muttering in disappointment, calling him a bore. She glanced at Logan. A muscle twitched in his jaw, his face had become hard. He looked annoyed.
'Sorry about that,' he murmured.
'Do you get that a lot?' Idira asked.
He shrugged, noncommittal. 'Comes and goes.'
On the other side of the bridge, a cart containing bushels of flowers caught Idira's attention; roses, daisies, lilies, wildflowers and thistles jumbled together, a riot of colour, beautiful, exotic. She couldn't stop herself from gravitating towards the enticing display and caressing the soft petals of the flowers, leaning in to drink their heavenly scent. She smiled up at him, delighted.
'I did promise you flowers for the Lady Nin,' Logan said, his face losing some of its hard edges as he watched her explore. 'Anything you want, and something for yourself, too.'
Idira felt her heart clench. He was so good to her, this man she couldn't remember. For a heartbeat she felt an overwhelming urge to kiss him, to touch his jaw and press her lips, light against his. Her thoughts must have played out on her face, because his eyes widened a little, and he blushed. He moved away and leaned on the canal's stone wall, his arms crossed over his chest once more as he watched her, cautious.
Warmth crept over her cheeks. She had done something wrong, but she had no idea what. At a loss, she turned back to the flower seller, a late middle-aged woman who wore her long silver hair tied up in a loose bun. A few wispy tendrils hung down, framing her still beautiful, gentle face. As she browsed, Idira eyed the woman's immaculate dark blue dress surreptitiously; the shoulders, bodice, cuffs and hem embroidered with colourful little flowers. Suddenly self-conscious, she looked down at her own faded blue linen dress, ashamed. She had never thought to ask where the rest of her belongings were, perhaps this dress was all she had left to her name.
'Is there anything special you are looking for?' the seller asked, her soft voice pleasing, mimicking her manner as she prepared an arrangement, her movements elegant and graceful.
Idira shook her head, suddenly too embarrassed to reply. When the flower seller returned to her work, Idira glanced around her, eyeing the other women processing along the canal, clad in fashionable, well cut dresses and pretty hairpieces decorated with feathers, ribbons and flowers. She looked down at herself again, critical, at the threadbare state of her dress, unembroidered and plain, her hair held up in nothing more than steel pins. A flush of deep humiliation saturated her. She looked poor, transient, a beggar even. How could Logan bear to be seen with her out in public like this? More than anything she wanted to go back to the inn. Even being bullied by Elly was better than this terrible feeling of shame, of everyone staring at her, judging her, laughing at her.
Through her haze of tumbling emotions, she became vaguely aware of another client who stood behind her, browsing the seller's goods. Over the scent of the myriad of flowers she could smell another new scent coming from him, a rich, deep one. The exotic scent of vetiver root suffused her senses, filled with the heady mix of sun-warmed leather and smoky earth, overlaid with spices, cedar, bergamot, lemon and violet leaf. She closed her eyes, her humiliation deepening. People even smelled expensive here.
The seller had forgotten all about her, and had turned her full attention to her new client, plucking various flowers from the buckets, while smiling and asking if they wanted the usual or should she create something new. Cringing with shame, Idira backed up, intending to slip away, back to the gritty familiarity of the inn, where everyone looked as ragged as she when her heel caught the back of her hem and she staggered and bumped into the client behind her, her head banging against the solid muscle of his chest. Several thick tresses of her hair slipped free from their pins and tumbled over her face. A leather clad hand came to her elbow. Strong yet gentle fingers held her against him, steadying her as she stumbled on the uneven cobbles.
'There now, I've got you,' he said, his voice deep and resonating. Her heart juddered. She recognised that voice. Deep memories welled up, prodding the edges of her mind, seeking a way in. From behind the screen of her hair, she peeked up at the tall, powerful man beside her, surveying him, grateful he couldn't see her face. Steel-grey eyes looked down at her from a face hardened by battle. A pair of diagonal scars, long healed and pale against his tanned skin sliced across his left cheek. His square jaw bore several days' worth of dark stubble, and his silver hair lay tousled over his forehead as though he had just left his bed. From above his dark blue tunic and heavy leather shoulder collar, he smiled, his tired, battle-weary features lighting up, transforming him into a breathtakingly handsome man.
A memory trickled free, a dream of her standing on a balcony in a floating city, of the same piercing eyes looking down at her. Before she had time to process it, other dreams and visions of him exploded into her mind, of him on another planet, of him fighting in a battle. They washed over her, reigniting forgotten memories and thoughts; blazing through her, awakening her longing for the man on the balcony, and the realisation her inability to love Logan was because of this man. The name arrived. It slashed, visceral, through her. Khadgar. She shivered, her body tingling, resonating in his sudden presence. He was back in Azeroth, somehow no longer trapped on another planet. He stood before her, solid. Real. Perfect. His fingers squeezed her elbow, gentle.
'A fine day to be buying flowers, don't you think?' he asked, conversational, utterly oblivious to her epiphany.
Before she could answer, more memories rushed in to replace the ones of Azeroth's hero. Violent, dark, nightmarish ones. She backed up, her hands coming to cover her face as the memories crashed into her, relentless, vicious. She shook her head, moaning. A pot-belly stove left in the yard. VanCleef tearing Myra's dress open. Benny butchered on the deck of a ship inside a black cavern. Papa attacking their house with canons, the walls and floors quaking. A little bundle of soaking black fur, trapped in the porch steps. The decimating blasts of the Legion's ships. Papa holding a kitchen knife to her throat, intending to kill her. Demons, everywhere, surrounding her house. Her little companion, Margle hanging limp, half-eaten in a demon's claws. Her Light exploding out of her. And then, just when she thought she couldn't bear anymore, one last memory rose up, shattering all the others.
'Unambi!' she cried out, grief overwhelming her. Emptiness clawed at her, threatening to consume her. Devastated, she pulled free of Khadgar's grip and ran to Logan who caught her, holding her head pressed against his chest as she wept.
'Is she alright?' she heard Khadgar ask as he approached, genuine concern edging his voice.
She felt Logan nod, his arms tightening around her, protective. 'She survived a Legion attack,' he answered, grim, 'but she lost all her memories afterwards. I think they just came back.'
Khadgar made a quiet sound of empathy. Idira felt his fingers touch her shoulder. Despite her misery, his touch awakened something in her, something dormant, half-starved and aching with longing.
'We will prevail. They shall not have Azeroth,' Khadgar murmured, his voice filled with conviction. 'I wish I could do more to ease your pain other than offer my condolences, but I swear, I will not rest until the Legion is driven from our world. I have sworn to fight to my death to make Azeroth safe from the demonic horde once and for all. You may consider this my personal promise to you as well.'
He turned and went back to the seller, speaking in a low voice as he made his selection and completed his purchase. Idira wanted to listen to him, to drink in every detail of him, but her heart wouldn't let her. All she could think of, could feel, was the ache of loneliness for the one she had lost, the one who had given up his life to save her. Unambi.
Khadgar walked away. Idira tucked her head tighter against Logan, letting him stroke her hair as she shuddered in his arms, guilt, grief, and loss threatening to overwhelm her. Thoughts, random and directionless skittered across the tatters of her mind, teetering between the shock of her awakened memories to the realisation she had finally just met the man she had been waiting her whole life to meet. She let Logan hold her, his big hand stroking the back of her head as more pieces of her life fell into place, settling into position, filling in the ugly details of her tragic life, forcing her to relive every heartbreak, every betrayal, every loss. The image of Khadgar looking down at her flashed through her mind, vivid, blotting out all her other memories. No. She shook her head, willing the image from her thoughts. Now was not the time to think of Khadgar. He could wait. One day she would see him again, she was certain of it, but right now, there was only one she cared for, only one she could think of. One she still needed to grieve. Unambi.
She clung to Logan, and wept.