The next morning, depressed and listless, Idira wandered around the fortress, exploring. A part of her had been afraid to explore any sooner, despite Khadgar's reassurances. What if she opened a door and found something terrifying? She had decided to wait until she could better protect herself should she need to. Since she had learned almost all the spells from the path of frost, she was certain she could manage most things.
She followed the corridor to the opposite end of the library, where it terminated at a towering stained-glass window, black-dark from the non-existence of light outside it. She worked her way back along the lengthy corridor, opening each door, apart from one. That door stood halfway down the corridor and was warded and locked so well, even she couldn't open it. Curious, she pressed her hand against the solid wood of the door, sending out tendrils of frost to sense what might be behind. Something dark and dangerous stirred within, calling to her, hungry, beckoning, its magic so powerful, ancient and corrupt, Idira shuddered in revulsion. She drew back, uneasy, eyeing the door, realising more than ever that Khadgar was not a man to be trifled with; a man of dark secrets.
She backed away from the door, regretting having let whatever lay within know of her existence. She threw up an additional ward, just for good measure and pressed on, determined to put the locked room out of her mind. Several more bedrooms presented themselves to her, all similarly furnished. Then, a comfortably appointed office, filled with bookshelves stacked with scrolls, paperwork, maps, decrees and documents from the life of the Guardian Medivh. She went in, curious, spending most of the morning absorbed in reading through the private correspondence of Azeroth's once-Guardian. She had just begun to think about leaving when she spied a recessed drawer in one of the side tables beside the fireplace. Within, she found a plain leather-bound tome tied closed with small leather straps. She unlaced the ties, discovering the private journal of Medivh during the time he struggled to move on after his forbidden affair with the Horde emissary Garona. Feeling a little ripple of pleasure to find such a rare treasure, Idira sank down onto one of the upholstered armchairs, and pulled her legs up underneath her to read.
It was a long time before she finished. She got up and tucked the book back into the drawer where she'd found it, trailing her fingers over the smooth surface of the top of the table, her thoughts replaying Medivh's words, some of them terribly romantic. Medivh might have been corrupted by the Legion, but by the Light he loved that woman, perhaps beyond reason.
Idira's thoughts crashed to a halt. Khadgar had been under Medivh's tutelage when Garona had had her affair with the Guardian, and by the look of the notes in his journal, Medivh hadn't handled her departure well. Perhaps Khadgar didn't want to go down the same tortuous path he had seen his mentor travel. She thought of Medivh's final entry where he vowed never to love again. He had signed it in blood. She shivered. Karazhan might have been a place of great magic, but it was also furrowed with sadness, loss and loneliness.
Back in the library, she drifted along the stacks, lonely and despondent, thinking of Khadgar, and of Medivh's journal. She sensed the Kirin Tor's leader would not be coming back again, at least not until she had learned all she could; at which point she suspected he would only stay long enough to portal her back to Dalaran. Once there, she expected he wouldn't waste any time returning to his rarefied, privileged, protected world, and she would be sent back to her life living on the periphery of his.
Morose, she leaned back against one of the stacks and stared up into the tower's heights, watching the flickers of arcane energy spark and extinguish continuously, an endless dance. She conjured wine, hoping it might ease her pain. It didn't. It only made her miss Khadgar more. As she sipped the ruby liquid, an uncomfortable thought took root: her whole life had been focused on finding and meeting Khadgar, the unfolding circumstances of her life's journey seeming to validate her belief that her life and her Light would make more sense once she did. Granted, her evidence for her belief had been limited to the events which led her to him, including their bizarre connection through her Light, even while he was stranded on another planet. But now, six days after she had stood on his balcony with him, nothing was any clearer, rather, she found herself cut adrift.
She had hoped, had dreamed of being his, believing he need only see her and their destinies would entwine, closing the long loop which had stretched between them for almost her entire life. But it seemed she had been wrong. She had misread the signs, had fabricated an ending to suit her purposes, assuming far too much. Instead she had ended up shut away in his sanctuary, alone and lost, left to her own devices.
She looked down at the wine still in her cup, swirling it as she had seen Khadgar do. It was her own fault. She had read a lot of fairytales growing up and had become fanciful, imbuing her life story with the same formulaic arc as her favourite tales, subconsciously expecting a happy ending to the sad story of her life. Perhaps in real life there were no happy endings, only brief moments of joy bubbling up within the brutal grind of living, surviving, enduring. Perhaps her shared meal with Khadgar, dining on Bagel Brothers' sandwiches was all she was ever meant to have with him. She should be grateful, her Light had never shown her anything other than her time with him on his balcony. It had promised her nothing. She had created all the rest from that one look she had seen in his eyes. She shook her head, embarrassed by her childish fancies, all of them so lovingly tended and nurtured. Yet never once in all her years of waiting had she taken into consideration Khadgar was a person in his own right, with his own past, hopes, fears, demands, duties, and constraints. Apart from the dry facts she had read in her books about Khadgar the archmage, she knew almost nothing about the man Khadgar. She had fallen in love with the idea of him before she had ever even met him. But how would she ever know him—the man—if he avoided her?
She sighed and let go of the wine cup, watching its fall until the last moment, when she waved her hand. The cup vanished, returning back to the particles of energy it had manifested from. She eyed the books waiting for her on the table, ones she still had yet to finish reading. A wave of despair washed over her. What was the point?
The raven ruffled its feathers, shifting its position as it roosted nearby, distracting her. She glanced up at it, deciding she needed to do something to cheer herself up. Perhaps it was time to try to conjure some new clothes, she certainly could use something fresh after wearing the same thing for nine days. The books aided her as best they could, but understandably there wasn't much about conjuring dresses in Khadgar's library. She decided to try anyway. It would at least distract her from the abyss she felt like she was staring into.
After a little experimenting and several ridiculous failures—a stone teacup, a pair of seven-legged stools, a bronze chamber pot?—she created her first gown. Very plain. A simple black affair, quite boring and austere. She tried again and managed to craft a yellow dress with a whisper of lace at the neck and around the cuffs. A little better but not terribly interesting or exciting either. She kept at it, manipulating existing spells, taking parts away, weaving in pieces from other spells, reminding her of adding spices to a dish cooking on the stove. Dress after dress manifested, none of them particularly enticing, merely a variation on the same theme. Something was missing. She stepped back and surveyed her efforts, tapping her finger against her lips, wondering what she was doing wrong.
A thought struck her, as unexpected and abrupt as a lightning bolt in the middle of a scorching Westfall summer afternoon. A shudder of pleasure coursed through her as a locked door within her mind unlatched itself and swung open. She waved her hand and the pile of nondescript dresses dematerialised. The books fluttered closer, curious, waiting.
She stripped down and lay her dress over the back of the chair, trailing her fingers over the faded material. It might be old and worn, but the dress was Logan's gift and she couldn't bear the thought of accidentally sending it to the Nether, severing one of her last remaining ties to him. She cast a quick spell to freshen up, the same one Margot used before they'd portalled to Khadgar's office. Shivering a little, she called to her Light, revelling in the thought her newfound knowledge had granted her the ability to access her power at will. Her Light burst free, circling around her torso, tendrils of violet light darting round her like a school of fish. Drawing no more than a trickle, she visualised the gown she wanted, similar to the one she had seen held up by the attendant in the dress shop when she first arrived to Dalaran. She held her arms out, spread-eagled, and closed her eyes, feeling the soft shimmer of material whispering up her legs and over her torso, across her breasts and down her arms to her wrists.
The Light was still working, but she couldn't wait, she opened one eye and peeked. She caught her breath. The blue glow of arcane light caught the brilliant cut of thousands of tiny diamonds glinting off the pure silver-white silken material of her dress, so thin in places along her arms it was nearly transparent. Too impatient to walk all the way back to the bedroom to see her reflection, she conjured a mirror. Her reflected eyes widened. She hadn't used the mirror in the bedroom since she'd arrived, uninterested in reminding herself of the plainness of her garb. She should have. In the last six days spent living in his magic-drenched sanctuary outside of time and space she had changed. A thrill shimmered through her as she leaned closer, inspecting her reflection. No longer did she bear the youthful, unfinished look of a girl of twenty-six, instead she bore the regal look of an ageless woman, her cheeks had thinned, allowing her cheekbones to show, accentuating her eyes to even greater effect. Her brow and skin remained smooth and unblemished, though the shape of her face had changed slightly, its contours defined, elegant, alluring.
She leaned back, tilting her face from side to side, examining it from several angles. So this was who Khadgar had looked at when he came to her room last night. She had wondered at his sudden tumult, his deep conflict. Idira couldn't help but gaze at herself, fascinated by the subtle, yet astonishing changes, thinking once more of Khadgar's tormented expression as he turned away. Yes. It explained much. He must have been watching her transformation through his raven, while she remained oblivious of herself. She smiled, seeing herself—her old self—in the shadow of her younger face. She smiled again, this time with pleasure. She far preferred the woman before her now, perhaps aged ten years older, but still bearing the verdant flush of youth. She glanced up at the raven, aware now of her changed appearance and how well she looked in her glittering gown. Khadgar would be undone if he saw her this way. But he had seen her, who knows how long he had stood over her watching her sleep, feeling the same things she had felt as she stood over him. She bit her lower lip, watching herself in the mirror, trying to see herself with his eyes. She examined herself, critical, unable to understand how biting her lip could affect him so. Myra had once said men could find the strangest things arousing, admitting VanCleef had liked to watch her mouth when she talked, and once he started doing that, he didn't last long before he was taking her into his arms and carrying her up to his bed. Idira sighed. It didn't matter how much she bit her lip, Khadgar wasn't going to be carrying her anywhere. Khadgar was another type of man entirely. A man of honour, restraint and responsibility, irrevocably bound to his duties. Nothing like VanCleef at all.
A fresh spear of longing slammed into her heart. She waved her hand. The mirror and her dress disappeared. She went back to the chair and put her old dress on, not yet ready to let him see her in all her finery. At least now she knew how to make the clothes she wanted. Tonight she would conjure herself a shift to sleep in. Something pretty. No. She arched an eyebrow, a naughty thought slicing through her, enticing her. Something transparent and sensual, just in case Khadgar came back in the night to look at her while she slept. She couldn't be blamed for what she did while she slept, could she? And if he was looking at her when she slept, he was cheating, too. She would have to stop sleeping under a blanket as well. Very well. It didn't matter to her if she shivered all night long, if he came to her, he would get to see her. All of her. And then maybe, just maybe, he would stay.