The prince turned to stare at his mother's gravestone, lost in his own thoughts. Varian finally broke the silence. "It is good to see you, Son. I think you've grown at least a head or more since…" Varian caught himself. "I take it draenei food suits you?"
"Master Velen says that I grow in all directions," Anduin replied, still staring at his mother's grave. "Velen keeps reminding me that 'We each must grow in every direction, every day.'"
Varian nodded. "Wise and worthy advice. Especially for a king… or future king."
Anduin winced at that, then looked up at his father, his eyes flashing a deep azure blue. "Is the world dying, Father?"
Varian was caught off guard by the simple intensity of the question. It reminded him of the innocent, yet profound, queries Anduin used to ask when he was a young child. Even then, the boy's deep wisdom was clearly evident.
Varian tried to answer carefully. "I hold no deep philosophy on such things, but I know the world cycles, just as do the seasons. Everything has its time, and things must come and go in the circle of renewal."
He thought about how to describe it better, and then pulled out his sword. "Just like a great weapon, Son: the edge must be renewed every now and then if it is to retain its full power."
"That's how Velen talks too. He says death and rebirth are part of the same wheel of the stars. And his people have seen the long march of time like no other."
"Then he must know that kings and kingdoms come and go, but truth, honor, and duty last forever."
"And love," Anduin said, barely glancing at his father.
The king thought about that, and nodded. "Yes, love."
Anduin continued, "I think love outlasts everything."
Suddenly Varian knew what he must do. He had the silver locket in his hand and was speaking before he even knew what he would say. "I have kept your mother's locket all these years to remind me of my responsibilities as king. To remember that actions have consequences, and a leader must live with his choices, both good and bad, because so many are counting on him."
He held out the locket.
"I want you to—" He stopped himself. "I mean, I thought maybe you would want to have it now. If you like."
Anduin nodded, and Varian slowly placed Tiffin's locket around his son's neck. The prince held the locket in his hands and rubbed his fingers over the engravings in exactly the same way as Varian had done for so many years.
Varian handed him the silver key, and the moment stood still. Even the breeze in the graveyard seemed to hold its breath in reverence for the event. Varian felt as if he was passing some sort of torch, some sense of belonging, a powerful symbol of growth and adulthood that would somehow aid his son in the future. "It is yours now," he said. "You can open it when you are ready."
Anduin thought about it for a moment, then put the key away in his pouch. He would find a time to make peace with the past on his own terms.
"She loved that locket, Anduin," Varian said. "She loved beauty, and the people of Stormwind… but the thing she loved most of all was you."
Anduin's eyes glistened with moisture in the afternoon light. Varian looked deeply at his son, seeing more than he had ever seen before. "I have been a bit… blind… in not seeing the man you have become."
With that, the boy's tears welled up and came gushing, along with the words he had always wanted to say. "I wish so much that I were more like you, Father. I do want to be a great king. But… I am not… as strong." He wiped his tears angrily as if they were a sign of weakness.
Varian put his arm around his son. "No, Anduin. You have more courage than I do, and it flows from a place deep within your heart. Remember what your uncle Magni used to say? 'Strength comes in many forms…'"
They both repeated the last part of the line in unison. "'Both small and large'!"
Anduin smiled at the warm memory. Varian continued, "I stand rigid and inflexible against the storm, but you feel the wind—you bend with it and make it your own—and thus become unbreakable."
Varian turned to Tiffin's memorial. "Your mother had those same qualities. She had perfected the art of gentle persuasion, and her love moved the world."
The prince stared at his mother's final resting place, trying to control fresh tears that flowed. Varian found himself saying things without thought, not as the king of Stormwind, but simply as a father to a son.
"It is good that you can cry over her, Anduin. I have never had that… strength." They both stood for a few moments, looking at the grave of the person whose mutual love was their deepest connection, even deeper than blood.
"I miss her." Anduin finally said. "I know I was just a baby, but I can still feel her."
"And that is why you will be the greatest of Wrynn kings," Varian said, patting his son's back. He wished the moment could last forever, but knew it could not. Looking up, he scanned his surroundings. "So, tell me, from what direction do you think the ambush will come?"