After a week and a half mostly spent inside of his apartment, the two of them emerged and descended the ramp leading out of the communal dwelling. Wearing freshly cleaned clothes, the two of them looked to be in much better shape than they had eleven days before, ambling out slowly and almost lazily as the two of them descended hand in hand.
A slight limp on Sharimara's part earned her a concerned look from Centrius. "Are you sure your hip flexor is okay?" he asked while pointing toward the joint. He wore a guilty expression in his face despite the rather satisfied, relaxed one on hers. "I think I heard it pop that last time."
Waving her hand as if to signal that it was nothing, she continued to limp down the ramp while shooting him a sultry glance. "It's been a long time since I...you know. It will take some time, but eventually I'll be able to move almost like I used to." Her grin grew even wider as she looked at him sideways. "It was certainly fun to practice all week."
Her grin went unreturned, but the way he looked down coyly spoke volumes. "You're a harpy in the sack," he chuckled lightly yet deeply.
"Oh, like you should talk, mister weirdo. You go crazy when I press my rack up against your chest." Immediately after her joke at his expense, she tensed up, fear shooting through her as she realized that she'd just thrown a stone in a glass home. "Wait, I meant-"
"So I'm the weird one, huh?" he replied, a victorious tone in his voice.
"Cent, wait I didn't mean it!"
"You really shouldn't talk, Shari. Not when-"
"I'm sorry, it was a bad joke!"
"-you go absolutely bonkers-"
"Please, Cent, I'm begging you!"
"-and insatiably wild-"
"-when I kiss your-"
"NnnnoooOOooOoOo!" she whined giddily, covering her face with her hands and attempting to run away.
Big, thick arms wrapped around her waist and pulled her back flush against his chest, holding her back and preventing her from fleeing in embarrassment. For her entire life, Sharimara had always been awkwardly tall; the only men who had suitably long life spans for her to consider long term relationships were elves, all varieties of which were much shorter than her. For the very first time - literally unprecedented for her - she'd been with a partner who was larger and physically stronger than her.
Her heart thumped in her chest as she leaned back into him, very aware of that fact as she found herself unable to escape his grasp even if she wanted to actually fight him. She'd even been submissive for the first time, finding the brand new sensation of finding herself beneath someone so strong and...well, male, to be exhilarating. Hickeys dotted her neck and chest (and buttocks, though her pants covered those), forcing her to wrap a veil roughly around her neck and upper body in order to look decent as they moved to set sail. She continued to cover her face with her hands even as he walked her along toward the gate outside, only revealing herself when she heard the voice of Mahavira and the woman's husband, Zendithir.
"Time to go, lovebirds," the night elf male wearing the slightly dirtied leathers of an animal tamer joked as Sharimara and Centrius joined them on the sidewalk outside.
His wife shot him a dirty look. "Don't encourage them," Mahavira whispered, thinking that her loud troll voice would somehow go unheard. Unfortunately for her, Sharimara also bore a loud troll voice and thus recognized them very quicky. "So Shari - GAH!" the tusked daughter yelped.
In a flash, Sharimara had thrown a punch directly at Mahavira's face, letting her hand hover an inch in front of the younger woman's long, sharp nose. Adorning the warden's ring finger was a shiny tiger's eye gemstone embedded in white gold, shining at the younger woman as if taunting her with the fact that her father had bought a more expensive piece of jewelry for his partner than for his own daughter.
It wasn't an engagement ring; Sharimara and Centrius were both realistic. Despite all the time they'd spent longing for each other, they were still half elves; rushing into marriage after only a week and a half of officially being together would have been improprietous. Regardless, he'd bought her the promise ring, just another token of the long distance relationship they were a little more confident in.
Though Mahavira didn't seem particularly confident as Sharimara literally waved the ring around in the younger woman's face, unconcerned with the fact that Centrius and Zendithir were literally and awkwardly standing right there.
"What did I tell you?" Sharimara scolded the younger woman only halfway sarcastically.
Mahavira's hairless brow ridges furrowed in frustration as she glared at the older woman, but to no avail. After a few tense moments, she gave up. "So...ugh...mom," the quarter elf sighed much to Sharimara's amusement, "we'll set sail to the mainland this morning to see your family in Ratchet and deliver the news personally. I received word that we'll be able to fly overland from the coast; it will only take us two days of travel. We'll stay for a few more days, and then dad will sail out to Balrissa straight from there; the ticketmaster told me it will take him seventeen days from there."
Giving an approving nod and removing her ring finger from Mahavira's face once the point had been made, Sharimara relaxed, knowing that Centrius wouldn't allow her to carry her own luggage anyway. "Good girl. I'll need to remain at work for a while, but my employers respect dedication; after twelve years, I think they'll accept a few months notice as appropriate before I resign." She reached out to hold Centrius' hand again as they walked, smiling at him wryly. "I think I've found a justification they'd accept."
The four of them talked quietly as they walked toward the harbor, enjoying the pleasant night before their temporary parting of ways. Centrius smiled down at her, pulling her even closer as they navigated a shortcut that took them through a few different neighborhoods. "I don't have any jobs currently lined up...I don't suppose it would hurt if I spent a few months down at Chi-Ji. Maybe get some practice for eventually doing the whole house husband thing."
"Dad!" Mahavira cried from behind the two of them. "You didn't say anything about spending literally months down there!"
Without skipping a beat, Centrius chuckled his daughter's objections away. "We'll discuss it on the voyage tonight, Maha," he told her as they all walked.
After an unfairly short amount of time, they'd reached the passenger harbor that featured ships for regular ticket holders wishing to see the world. The docks weren't particularly busy that night, and thus the sentries - who'd remained enamored with Sharimara the entire time - allowed the entire odd party of four access to the pier even though only Sharimara herself had a voyage scheduled for that time. Fashionably late, they were alone on the pier since the other passengers had already boarded.
Zendithir moved first, stepping forward and bowing respectfully as Sharimara turned to face the younger couple. "Elune be with you, Shari," he said softly as she returned his bow.
When her husband got away with calling Sharimara by her first name, Mahavira's eyes lit up. "Farewell Shari - NO!"
In a quarter of a second, Sharimara had shoved her promise ring up in the younger woman's face again. "Ar re he-he-he-he-hem!" she hacked, pretending to clear her throat while pulling a power play on her own future daughter in law.
Mahavira's ears drooped like a child who'd dropped her ice cream cone. "See you later...mom," the quarter elf sighed resentfully.
"I'll see you kids in a few minutes," Centrius told his daughter and his son in law before politely motioning for them to leave; they had hours before their own ship was scheduled to set sail, and didn't need to actually bring their bags yet. Looking content if a bit sad, Centrius played with an indigo lock of Sharimara's hair. "We've already had our time to say our temporary goodbyes...rest assured that my thoughts will only be of you during these next two weeks."
A sad smile and frowning furrowed brow wove their way into her features, but for the first time in as long as she could remember, Sharimara didn't mind the sadness; not this kind. "I waited so long, but...I honestly don't know if I can deal with this now. Two weeks are nothing...minuscule, atomized units compared to how long we were apart. But I just..." She let out a self deprecating laugh as, for the second time in the past century and only eleven days after the first, she began to sniffle. "...it feels so real now. It's here; we're here. When it's not s dream, it just feels so...so much more important."
Centrius leaned down and kissed her between the eyes before hugging her tightly. "It is more important...but it's no longer at risk of being lost," he whispered to her. "I waited for so long to find you...and when I thought I wouldn't, I was ready to die single. That would still be my choice." He pulled back, gripping her shoulders as the foghorn on the cartel ship signaled that it was time for her to leave. Eyes that were almost as sad as hers also bore a near total confidence as he smiled. "I spent a hundred and sixty years trying to find you...and I will never let you go again."
A self deprecating laugh at herself was her only answer as the crew members took her bags from her without interruption, respecting the quiet moment between the odd couple. "Me neither...you're mine, and only mine." The two of them chuckled with each other only briefly before she let him go and departed.
Neither of them lingered; there was no reason to. They'd already sent letters to her family and employers, listing addressed just in case anybody in the chain lost touch or had an emergency. They'd even bought tickets in advance for Mahavira and Zandithir to visit Balrissa, planning everything out ahead of time knowing that there was a measure of certainty about the two of them now. And as Sharimara walked aboard the ramp up to the deck of the ship, the tears rolling down her cheeks were not from despair, but bliss and hope. She made no move to hide them from the other passengers, nor to cling to the railing tensely as the two of them waved at each other one last time. Without walls to hide herself from the world, she found herself more able to accurately judge how much or how little emotion was socially appropriate to display in given situations.
"Tell my family what I said when you reach Ratchet!" Sharimara shouted cheerily as the ship cast off from the pier. "Tell them I'll make up for all the lost time!"
Laughing at how loud her voice was when she wanted it to be, Centrius leaned casually and comfortably against a wooden railing at the end of the pier are following the sailing ship until the end. "I will. And I'll hug every one of your great grand nieces and nephews for you!"
As the ship left the island of Feathermoon in the background, Sharimara was shocked by how even and balanced her pulse was. The two of them locked eyes until they couldn't anymore, relaxed and happy in the knowledge that they'd see each other again soon enough. Nothing would keep them apart, not even her ship sinking on the way there; she'd survived a shipwreck near the Maelstrom back in her darkest days, and not even that type of horror would stop her now.
"You found me, Cent...and I'll never let you go, either," she whispered into the cool ocean breeze just as the island disappeared from her view.
Lingering on the railing at least, she enjoyed the way the stars danced over the ocean waves at night as the breathed easily for once. She wondered, gazing up, if her parents would be proud of her now; if his parents would have been happy that two children of Serenity had found each other after so long.
She smiled warmly, feeling that confidence she'd recognized in him suddenly uplift her, too.
A/N: thank you so much for reading. I'll keep these notes brief.
For those who only planned on reading this and don't intend to continue, I thank you and respect your choice. I'll clarify for your sakes that, indeed, they never let anything keep them apart again; this is one of the few endings I've ever written that are unambiguously good. Breathe easily.
For those who are returning readers...I hope I didn't put you through the ringer too much with the prequel to this. But I wanted to be realistic: for heroes on Azeroth, stable relationships are extremely difficult. This felt like the most appropriate way for them both to find happiness.
For those who intend to continue...this was volume six of seven in the Saga of Sharimara. There's only one left - 'Make or Break,' which consists of six regular chapters and two epilogues. The six are a regular story, and the final (and happy) ending for her, permanently, from adventuring. The two epilogues are more relevant for those who have read all of my other stories; they are the end for my entire continuum that had started with Sharimara's parents, siblings and neighbors. Both of those chapters are...a bit emotional. Probably more for me than even the characters themselves.
Thank you so, so much; I wish you all the best.