She was sitting in the corner when Grimory walked into the tavern. Her eyes a cool lavender, her elven dress a shade to match. She looked up to catch him staring and smirked, then turned away so the black cascade of hair would shield her face from the rest of the room. Grimory watched for a long time as she sipped her wine and played chess with herself. Every so often her gaze would flick back to him and he’d look away as though he hadn’t been staring. But he knew she knew he was, so his coy little game was highly unnecessary.
She tugged on a chain about her neck, pulling a fob watch from between her breasts. She checked the time and sighed. Grimory saw his opportunity and went to her, taking up the seat across the chess board. She jumped as though startled, then gave a coy smile.
“Friends running late?” he asked, nudging a pawn across the board.
She put her wine to her lips, the smallest curve of a smile gracing the red pillows. “Who said I was meeting friends?” She moved her knight to take the pawn he’d just moved.
Grimory chuckled. “I’m Grimory.”
“Are you, now?” Her eyebrow raised with a sort of challenge.
The Illidari studied her, taking in the slight flush of her face and the pink tips of her ears. She’d already been drinking quite a bit. He leaned back to relax with his mug of ale. “Have been all my life. What about you? Have you got a name?”
She laughed, throwing back her head and showing off a perfect set of shining white teeth. His eyes scanned down her neck of their own accord, taking in the curve at her collarbone and the porcelain hue. The sudden desire to run his sharp teeth along her skin caught Grimory off guard. She finished her wine in one final sip and set the glass on the table.
“Everyone’s got a name, sweetheart.”
The demon hunter smirked. “If I buy you a drink, can I have yours?”
She twisted her lips in thought, checked her watch, then snapped it closed and smiled. Her long, delicate fingers reached out for the glass and she held it out to him. “I like the Silvermoon Red.”
Grimory grinned. “Who doesn’t?” He took the glass and went to the bar.
While his back was turned, she reached into her bag and swallowed a small vial of liquid, then stowed the container and returned to acting natural. She smiled up at Grimory as he returned, holding the glass out to her.
She laughed softly. “Kel’ori,” she replied with slight hesitation.
Grimory handed her the wine, but held the glass as she tried to take it. “No, it’s not.” He smirked and sat down. “So, not Kel’ori, what brings you here?”
“Just taking a break from the Hall of the Guardian. Change of scenery.” She fiddled with the chain around her neck. “How do you know my name isn’t Kel’ori?”
He chuckled. “Let’s just say, I’ve been given the wrong name before.”
Her cheeks reddened. “Right. Oh. I’m-I’m sorry. Heh.” She hiccupped and covered her mouth, her eyes going wide. “Sorry.”
Grimory narrowed his eyes and smirked. “Must be a mage thing…”
She finished her sip of wine and blinked at him. “Hmm?”
“Nervous laughter. Hiccups when drunk.” He leaned closer. “But I bet you hate libraries, right?”
“Me? Oh, no, I love libraries. There is nothing more precious than a tome of knowledge just waiting to be read!” Her eyes sparkled as she smiled.
Grimory chuckled and drank his ale. “Were you waiting for me?”
Her cheeks flushed pink. “N-No, I was—”
“You’re not a very good liar.” He leaned forward then, a devilish grin on his face. “It’s okay. Just for tonight, we can keep pretending.” He winked and she averted her gaze, taking another sip of wine.
“Not much gets past you, huh?”
“Put on a cute illusion, but you can’t change who’s underneath.”
Her blush deepened. “Cute? O-Oh, why, thank you.” She bit her bottom lip and looked away.
He grinned at her flustered state. “What say we cut the shit and get a room?”
She coughed into her wine, then pressed the back of her wrist to her lips. “R-Really?”
“Oh, come on. Unless you’re suddenly too shy?”
“N-No!” she said too quickly. “I-I mean…sure? Heh.”
“Gods, you’re cute when you’re flustered.”
He stood and held out his hand to her. She took it and followed, as though caught in a daze, until he opened the door to the room. “Give me just one minute,” she said, snapping her watch closed. “Please.” She backed toward the bathrooms nervously. “J-Just have to… Heh.”
His eyebrows shot up and he nodded. “Right. Don’t get lost on your way back.”
In the restroom, she swallowed another vial, then chased it with a red liquid from a tiny bottle. She gagged on the taste, then rinsed her mouth in the sink. She looked at the woman in the mirror and made a few faces; first shy, then flirtatious, then sultry. She finished with a big smile, then went back to the room. Grimory was waiting casually on the bed. When he saw her, he jumped up and pressed the door closed, then pushed her against it. She gave a small noise of shock as he crushed his lips desperately to hers. Once the shock had worn off, however, she leaned into him. He unclasped her dress and it fell to the floor—she blushed deep red as realization finally hit her, but she said nothing as his charm stayed the fear on her tongue.
Grimory observed her body and smirked. “I don’t care if it’s fake, you look amazing.” He lifted her and spun to lay her across the bed, then pulled his lips away. “Don’t tell Ali.”
“O-Of course not,” she whispered urgently before his lips crushed into hers once more.
Time skipped and flowed as she swirled around in his embrace, half lost and half found. Her mind ecstatic and guilty at the same time.
Afterward, he lay catching his breath, eyes closed beside her as she stared up at the ceiling, her violet eyes wide with wonder.
“I don’t know how you do it.”
“Do what?” she asked.
“Keep me coming back. And every time you find a way to surprise me.”
Her brow knit together in confusion, but she said nothing.
“Oh, gods, Ana…”
Her eyes widened, then narrowed. “Um, e-excuse me. I…I have s-some…important r-research to—”
“Racing off, as usual. All right. Just…this stays between us, right?”
“O-Of course! Heh.” She finished clasping her dress, grabbed her bag, and raced from the room.
Grimory smirked. “Guess the death knight just isn’t enough for her.” He wrapped his hands behind his head and smiled triumphantly.
The woman raced from the inn as politely as she could, stopping to let others in the door before she tore out of it. She ran past the guards, who nodded their greeting, then rushed into her room. She eyed the sleeping figure on the little bed against the far wall. In a hurry, she threw off her dress and pulled on an oversized pair of trousers and a long shirt. Using a mirror, she carefully peeled away the black wig and pulled out the pins to let her straw-colored hair fall free around her face. She stowed the dress and wig in a chest, then sat on the larger bed to stare at her reflection in the mirror. She drank down a green potion, then opened her fob watch.
“Three…Two…” she whispered. “One,” he said in his low voice.
He looked back at the mirror and pursed his lips at the man staring back at him. After a moment, he uncorked and dumped all of the vials down the drain of the small sink. He gripped the sides and shook his head at himself. He grabbed the wig and dress and anything else that might bring the truth to light—or tempt him to do it again—and shoved them into a pillowcase, then ran them to the area where trash was collected. He smiled nervously at the Human that took the bag.
“You’re up late. Lots of research on Aszuna, still?”
“Yes, lots,” he replied. “But, I think it’s time I turned in. Goodnight.”
“Goodnight, Mr. Nightheart.”