Book 2 – Chapter Fourteen

“Sorry, doll, your belongings are unavailable until the transfer is complete. We don’t wanna lose anything. Even one coin will ruin our counts.” The goblin says, reaching up to pat her forearm.

Alisbeth drops onto a bench and puts her chin on her fists.

“Ignore them,” he says with a gentle pat on her shoulder.

She shoves into the crook beneath Grimory’s arm and wraps her arms around his waist. “I can’t. She’s really nice and I shouldn’t have done that. I mean, you saw my gold! I don’t need her free stuff. Though, free stuff is nice.” She tilts her head up and rests it on his shoulder. “I just want to have fun with you. I like having fun with you.”

Grimory gives a shrug as he embraces her. “She’ll get over it. Because she’s nice. And regardless of how much gold you have, free stuff is pretty nice.” He chuckles and looks down at the top of her head. “We can have all the fun you want. Doesn’t have to be at Ana’s expense, either.”

Alisbeth stands and turns to smile down at him. She leans in and plants a delicate kiss on his forehead. “Thank you. You’re my best friend ever, Grim.” She takes his hand and pulls. “I don’t have any money. My account is closed until they’re done relocating my stuff and cataloging every item to make sure nothing is missing. We don’t have a token for free drinks…but do you still want to dance with me?”

Grimory gives an endearing smile and stands when he’s ushered to. “I have money, you know. But if it’s dancing you want, dancing you’ll get.” He leads her from the bank. “I know the perfect place, too.”

“Lead the way!” Alisbeth wraps both of her arms around one of his and smiles eagerly.

He peels the death knight off his arm and turns her. Bending slightly, he hoists her into his arms and spreads his wings. “Hold tight.” His feet leave the ground and he takes off over the buildings, weaving through spires and chimneys.

She squeals and kicks her feet in excitement. “This is amazing!”

Grimory wobbles in the air; he pulls her tightly to him to make her stop. “Yeah, please don’t do that, though. Balance and all.” He takes them to a lone floating island just on the city’s border, overlooking the ocean. Setting her down, he breathes in the damp air. “Pretty, yeah?”

“Breathtaking,” Alisbeth responds, her eyes not on the scenery, but rather on the demon hunter. She looks away quickly to avoid him noticing.

Grimory grins, oblivious to her gaze, and holds out a hand. “Don’t need music, do we?”

Alisbeth bites her lip and takes his hand, a sudden blush coming to her cheeks. “I suppose not. Okay Grim, impress me.”

Grimory lifts his eyebrows and smirks, placing his other hand on the small of her back and pulling her closer. “I thought we were past impressing one another.”

She sighs into him and smiles. “But if we stop impressing each other it could get boring. So…impress me. I demand it.” She laughs.

Grimory shrugs. “As you wish,” he says quietly, releasing her waist to twirl her, then pull her back in to tilt her backward. He runs a palm down her thigh. “Like this?”

Alisbeth’s smile widens as she lifts her leg to wrap it around his thigh. “Very graceful. What else have you got?”

The demon hunter steps away from her again, twirling her by the hand, then pulls her close again to spin together. He laughs. “Not a word I’m used to hearing.”

Alisbeth bites her lower lip, then closes her eyes to start humming the tune of an old Quel’dorei ballad her mother had sung. When he doesn’t object to her humming she starts to sing, keeping her eyes shut tight as her nerves promise to close her throat to see him look at her with disapproval. She follows the shift in his body to know where he’s going and prevent losing her footing, though her hand grips his tighter.

Grimory smiles at her humming and listens intently as they twirl through the long grass together. Fireflies rush to get out of their way as they approach. At the climax of her song, Grimory picks her up by the waist and tosses her briefly into the air, catching her by her hip bones and grinning up into her face.

Alisbeth gasps, then continues her song, a smile on her face. She can’t help but open her eyes to see him smiling up at her and butterflies take flight in her stomach. She leans down to press her forehead to his, her singing lowered to just above a whisper.

Grimory slowly lowers her back to the ground, foreheads still touching. He hums a laugh through his nose, feeling genuine happiness for the first time in a long while. He pulls away to resume their slow waltz, saying nothing and enjoying the music.

Alisbeth’s smile wavers, her voice falters until she stops singing altogether and steps back away from him. She stares at the demon hunter with pursed lips. “I need to go back.”

Grimory blinks then sobers. “Okay, sure, but…can I ask why?”

Don’t say anything. Our little secret. Alisbeth gives the most impercievable of nods. “I need to go back.” She turns away from him. He’s not going to take you back. Jump! She shakes her head. Gate. “I need to go.” She opens a gate to Acherus.

Grimory’s eyes widen and he lurches forward to grab her around the waist and hold on as best he can. “Ali, no! You aren’t allowed back there, remember?”

She covers her face and drops into the grass. “I need to go. I don’t understand. I need to go.”

Grimory holds onto her tightly until he’s certain she either won’t run through the portal or closes it. “But why? I thought we were having fun. Did I do something wrong?”

Alisbeth balls her hands into fists and presses them to her forehead. “No. Yes. No. I…” Shh! “I have to go.”

Grimory sighs and nods. “Okay, yeah. But I’m taking you back to the inn, all right? They’ll kill you back at Acherus.”

“Okay.” The death knight nods, keeping her eyes shut tight.

He nods again and takes Alisbeth up into his arms as he had before. He flies them back to the balcony of the Legerdemain Lounge and sets her down gingerly. “Are you okay?” he asks in a hushed tone.

Alisbeth nods and sets her hand on the middle of his chest. “I need you to leave.”

Grimory furrows his brow and brings a hand up to rest on her back. “Like…for tonight?”

Alisbeth moves her hand away from him and turns away. “I don’t know.” She goes into the room and sits on the other side of the bed, where her back is to the Illidari outside.

Grimory clenches his jaw and resists the urge to sigh in frustration. He walks across the room and leans on the opposite side of the bed, hand on a post. “So…forever?”

Alisbeth swallows, a tear rolling down her cheek. “Maybe… It’s for the best.” She says it more as a reassurance to herself. “It’s…for the best.” She sniffs and flicks a tear from her cheek.

Grimory turns his torso as if to leave, face contorted in confusion and turmoil, then jerks back around with a growl. “I’m not doing that. No.”

Alisbeth’s tears fall harder at his refusal. I can’t do it. But Koltira. No! He has to leave. Alisbeth stands, her fingers wrapping around a vase on the dresser. “Get out.” She hurls the vase across the room at him. “Get out!

Grimory leans out of the vase’s path and flinches as it explodes behind him. He whirls around after a moment, eyes filled with hurt and anger. “I see what’s going on here. Fine. Whatever.” He turns back to the balcony, fists clenched. “Good night, Ali.”

“I don’t ever want to see you again!” she shouts. Alisbeth runs across the room to shut the balcony doors and lock them. Her chest heaves with her sobs as she leans her head back against the pane of one, then runs across the room to shove her face into a pillow and scream until she runs out of air. She takes a huge breath and screams again. And again. And again. She gathers the blankets around her and hides within them, gripping the pillow to her chest.

Grimory leaps down from the balcony, nails digging into his palms. Seething, he makes his way down the paved street to the familiar tavern hidden away behind the pet shop. He sets himself at the bar and orders the strongest drink they have. He refuses to look at anyone. It’s all he can do not to hurl his cup across the bar, so he drinks, quietly with trembling fingers.

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