Much later that evening, Idira closed the last book on the path of frost. It lifted up and fluttered away, settling back into its place. Resting her head against the chair's high back, she gazed up into the tower's soaring centre, where bursts of arcane power rippled and shimmered, accompanied by nascent darting tendrils of her Light. She watched the interplay of his power with hers thinking if she couldn't be with Khadgar, at least the imprint of her power would remain here, forever reminding him of her. It counted for something. Perhaps one day, far in the future when Azeroth was safe and she was of the right age, he would send for her. She laughed, hollow, chiding herself for once more indulging in fanciful thoughts. She needed to accept his decision and move on. She had been wrong. Khadgar had never been meant for her.
The raven swept down and settled onto the table. She caught her breath, watching its eyes, hoping they would light up and grant her a brief moment of contact with the Leader of the Kirin Tor. But the raven remained its usual self, hopping over the books, ruffling its feathers, its eyes dull, denying her the presence of her unseen watcher.
She regarded the raven a little longer, her chest tight with hope, but the bird moved on, flying up to perch on top of one of the stacks nearby. Disappointment sheared through her. Khadgar wasn't going to contact her tonight. She sensed it was very late, certainly well past midnight in Dalaran. She got up and paced, agitated, sleepless. Light she was lonely. What she wouldn't do to have the chance to sit down with Wynn and just talk. For a heartbeat she considered teleporting into Wynn's room, thinking of the things she could tell her friend about Khadgar's fortress; of his planned demotion for Margot; of the quiet meal she had shared with him; how handsome he looked when he ran his hand through his hair, distracted. She caught herself smiling, thinking of him. She stopped. No. It was too dangerous. Wynn would tell everyone, discretion was definitely not one of her strong points.
Filled with ennui, Idira looked around, despondent. What else could she possibly do besides studying to alleviate her sense of alienation, isolation, and loneliness? A slim book fluttered down, shy, and bobbed in the air before her. Idira almost rolled her eyes. Would these books of Khadgar's not even allow her a moment's respite? The book fluttered its pages at her, settling down to an open page part way into the book. It wiggled a little, like a naughty child, desperate to share a secret.
Idira raised her brow, intrigued. She leaned closer. ‘By the Light,’ she breathed as she read, incredulous. She tore her eyes from the delicious, handwritten words and poked the book, a smile tugging at her lips. ‘Oh you are a bad book!’
It wiggled again, utterly pleased with itself. She turned and headed for the bedroom.
‘Follow me,’ she said, her heart pounding, reprimanding her for what she was about to do. She pushed aside her guilt. If Khadgar hadn't wanted her to find that book, he would have removed it. Maybe he did want her to find it. With him, who could tell? The book dutifully made its way after her, its pages rustling. She glanced back, sensing it was smirking at the other books. Well, why not. It might not be about magic, but there could be no doubt it was the best book in the whole place.
She went to the bed and conjured her transparent nightgown, gesturing for the book to rest on her lap. A moment's hesitation as she touched the cover. A deep surge of inner remonstration washed over her. She hesitated until her curiosity overwhelmed her. Just a peek. No more. She opened the cover and turned to the first page, her eyes raking over his handwriting, neat and precise; devouring his words, hungry. The first entries were written long ago, a few years before she was even born. She hesitated again. This was his true past; these were his true thoughts. This was the man Khadgar. She dithered. No. She closed the book, her fingers lingering on the cover. Unable to stop heself, she opened it again. She couldn't bear it. She had to know. She bent over the book, her heart pounding at the thought he might teleport in at any moment and catch her red-handed. His first words pulled at her, his voice filling her mind, resonant. She trembled, consumed with anticipation as she submerged herself into his private, secret thoughts.
Year 593. This is my first entry. I am eighteen years old. I cannot believe what my hands have done. I had no choice. To save Azeroth I drove a sword into my mentor's heart, the corrupted Guardian of Azeroth. Now I must carry this terrible memory with me to my death, the responsibility, the burden, the guilt . . . it is crushing, I almost cannot bear it. As my master died and the taint of Sargeras left him, Medivh looked at me and whispered 'I forgive you' and then, with his last breath, he said 'Garona.' Now the Last Guardian is gone, slain by my own hands. Gone to the Light. I find myself lost, and alone, faced with a hostile, dangerous and rapidly changing world. May the Light protect me.
She turned the page, shaken by his stark, bleak words, so unlike the archmage she knew. She had no idea Khadgar had killed his mentor. None of the books she had read had said Medivh had been slain by him, just that the Guardian had fallen in the final confrontation. She continued:
I woke this morning to find my youth has fled, taken from me in the blink of an eye. If I had ever hoped to have an affair of the heart, those hopes have now been taken from me. I am caught out of time. I belong nowhere, to no one and no time. If this is the price I must pay for what I had to do, so be it. Now, there is only the arcane left, my sole purpose to protect Azeroth, no matter what the cost, even if it costs my life . . . and even though my heart aches for it, I accept my fate. Love is not meant for me.
Idira sat up until deep in the night, reading his entire journal without stopping. When she finally finished, she set the book aside and stared at it, her emotions tumbling. He had been through so much. Much, much more than she. And always alone, he had never had anyone to stand by his side, like she'd had in Logan and Unambi, or even little Margle. She shivered, sensing her power beginning to take hold of her, chilling her, lowering her temperature. The price she learned she would have to pay to go beyond the usual limits of the power of frost. She watched as a sheen of ice crept across her breasts and coated her arms. She cast a spell, and the ice melted away, though she remained chilled to the bone. She glanced down at her thin silken shift and scoffed. What had she been thinking? Once she fell asleep, she would freeze to death in this thing. And yet . . . he might still come. She didn't want him to find her wrapped up in layers of wool and fur, buried under a heap of blankets. She would just have to learn to live with the burning pain of her cold. For him, anything.
She trailed her fingers over the journal's cover, recalling some of his most personal entries. Soon after his transformation, while internally he was still a youth and full-blooded, there had been a young woman he had admired from afar, a girl of his own true age, though he had done nothing more than write about her; poetic, romantic things which made Idira's heart beat faster. Over the years there had been more than a dozen such affairs locked deep in his heart, the women's ages ascending to match his real age, hidden under his transformed exterior.
One note had deeply interested her: as his powers grew, his outward age began to reverse, his own magic mitigating the damage of the curse bestowed on him so long ago. From what she could gather, at the beginning he had aged from eighteen to seventy in one night, but as his natural age progressed into his thirties his appearance had begun to renew and he became younger and younger looking over the years. She calculated. By now, he would be about forty-six in real years, yet he looked younger, in his early forties. She sensed he had no idea the effect he was able to have on a woman, having lived so long looking like an old man, a prisoner to his curse. She skimmed through his journal, stopping at certain portions to double check his words. No, she had intuited correctly. Khadgar had never slept with a woman, though he clearly thought about it, given the poetic eroticism of some of his later entries. She wondered what it would be like to share a bed with a man like Khadgar who had lived all his life committed to fighting for Azeroth, often against insurmountable odds. A man who had given up his need for love to fulfill a greater purpose. She closed the book and tucked it under the pillow beside her. She had wanted to know the man, now she did. What she'd read made her heart ache. He had suffered much, yet never once had he been turned aside from his path to protect Azeroth from the mortal threats the world had faced time and again.
She lay down facing the pillow with Khadgar's journal underneath, thinking of some of his most poetic entries. There was no doubt, underneath the Leader of the Kirin Tor's tunic, beat a heart capable of poignant longing and breathtaking romance. She lay her hand over the pillow, wishing with all her heart she might be the one to break the last of his curse and walk his path with him; neither of them needing to be alone any more.