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Blue Bird and the Dragon

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So I haven't played Dragon song yet, I'm waiting for my sis to buy Stormblood for my birth so I can continue on. (yes I know I can continue on but being DPS and it taking 30mins-1h to get into dungeons I need all the EXP I can get.) I was told that Aymeric and Estinien are basically childhood friends but I'm like w/e with that. The setting is still FFXIV but doesn't follow canon at all. They're 25 and both fresh at their posts. Again, the game might or hasn't given us any information on when Aymeric became Lord Commander and the same about Estinein. I'm sure Estinien was probably going to be the AD from birth but like, didn't officially fill the role until later, so we're going with 25 and fresh babies with their roles.

Also forgive my summaries, I'm terrible with them.

 


 

Ishgard was a beautiful city. Tall buildings surrounded by soft white snow. The city itself was grey but there was something about it, that even growing up in, Aymeric loved. He loved walking through the streets looking at the people about their business day by day, he enjoyed just sitting around under the soft snowfall as he watched children play on the grounds, their cheeks and noses rosy red from the cold, smiles spread across their faces.

This morning however was a completely different situation for him. He got up, still incredibly unused to sleeping in new chambers and got dressed. His new attire drastically different from what he used to wear. It was heavy, fancy, showed his rank. To say he was nervous would have been an extreme understatement. Today he was starting as the new Lord Commander of the Temple Knights, a position that he worked his ass off to get. He had to birth rank, to right to this command. He worked day and night to get a position where he could do some good for Ishgard, to be able to help the people and the city he loved so dearly.

It was hard to say the least. Ever since he was a boy he was always looked down upon, the rumor that he was the bastard son of the Archbishop - while not wrong in any extent it was never confirmed and truly never would be- followed him everywhere. He was positive that most people thought that he was given this position simply because of his birth, however; if that were the case then he would not have had to work so hard to work his way through the ranks. Taking on mission after mission, risking life and limb for his city, for his people. It didn’t matter much to him though. He had his accomplishments to back up his credibility of being Lord Commander and if people were going to look down on him, then he was only going to have to work harder to make sure that he proved to them that he was here for the people and not merely for the rank, or the title of Lord Commander.

He took one last glance in the mirror to make sure that he looked proper and exited his chambers, a temple knight waiting outside to escort him to his new office.

“Good morning Lord Commander, I hope sleep found you well.”

“As well as it could when my mind was burdened with making sure that I do my job to the best of my ability.”

The knight smiled at him as they made their way across the city.

“I have a feeling you will do just fine.”

Aymeric had gotten familiar with the temple knights over the last few months. There were few who trusted that he could be a Lord Commander worthy of the title, but there were also a handful who he could say he actually befriended, the knight before him being one of them.

“I thank you for your kind words. I am just very aware of the amount of people throughout the knights and city that still believe that I got this title because of the rumor of me being the Archbishops bastard.”

“People will believe without conscious.”

“I need only to ensure that I do what I can for the city. People with believe, and I hope within a fortnight those same people with believe due to my accomplishments and not mere words that are spoken on the wind.”

Aymeric looked up as they neared the Congregation of our Knights Most Holy, the place where he would sit and plan, the place where he would hopefully be able to gain the trust of the citizens. The knight before him swiftly pushed the doors open, motioning him inside. He stepped past the thresh hold as every knight standing kneeled with purpose, their heads bowed to him as he entered. He stood still as his gaze trailed over each head that bowed to him.

“Stand my knights. I am not one you need to bow before. We all risk life and limb for the same city, the same people. My rank does not deign you to bow, despite what code may require. I hope that we all can become people that our city looks to, to protect. I also ask that you might forgive any mistakes as I get used to this.”

Aymeric crossed his right arm over his body, his fist coming to rest upon his heart as he bowed towards the knights that looked on him. He stood back up straight, resting his arm on his sword.

“Now, back to your stations. Simply because I am new does not allow you all to slack off. I except good work from each and every one of you. If you are in need of me, you know where to call for me.”

Aymeric looked back to the young knight who led him here and nodded, the two of them heading towards the lift that would bring him to his office. Once inside and the doors shut he let loose a sigh, running his hands through his hair.

“Lord Aymeric, I mean not to speak above my station but you do realize that they were actually supposed to bow to you.”

Aymeric just waved his hand in dismissal, shaking his head.

“I was not born a noble, most of the people who work under me have more a more noble bloodline than I. Society dictates that highborn does not bow for lowborn. Regardless, we are all working towards the same goal, I just tell them what to do.”

The knight chuckled, shaking his head.

“You have got to be the most pragmatic Lord Commander we have ever had the pleasure to work under.”

“Does not mean I am any less strict.”

“We expect nothing less.”

The rest of the day was spent in his office, signing page after page of approval and meeting those few high-ranking officials that worked under him. He wanted nothing more than to go and explore the city, to speak to the citizens. However, his current duty would not allow him to leave his post in his chair. Eve fell before he knew it, his duties as Lord Commander coming to an end. He signed the last few papers on desk and stood, stretching his stiff muscles. He grabbed his sword from its resting place before donning it and heading out into the city to do what he desired the entire day.


 

The silver haired male sighed as he walked towards his home, his armor clinking with each step he took. Today was tiring to say the least. His first day under the official title of Azure Dragoon was filled with scouting missions and making sure that there were no attempted assassinations on the newly appointed Lord Commander. He knew that he should have gone to introduce himself to the young lord but he hadn’t the time. By the time his duties were finished he figured the Commander himself was finishing up and getting ready to retire to his chambers, he’d meet him another day perhaps. As he walked towards the small house near the end of the noble district his pace quickened, rather excited to see his brother again. He gently opened the door, stepping inside.

“Alphie, I’m home.”

“Estinien!”

A small boy, no older than eight ran up to him. He chuckled and picked up the boy, hugging him.

“I sense someone missed me.”

“I always miss you when you are not home. It’s so lonely here.”

Estinien set the boy down before taking off his helm, heading towards the small room in the back of the house that housed their beds and wardrobes.

“If I could stay at home with you and be able to provide for you, you know I would. Give me a moment to change and I’ll start on dinner.”

He heard the small boy hum in confirmation as he closed the door, unfastening his armor and placing it on the stand he had made for it. If he was being truthful he wanted nothing more than to wash and sleep, but he had a younger brother to take care of, someone who he had to make sure he fed. Their parents both passed away when Alphinaud was just a toddler, the younger barely remembered them. It left Estinien to figure out how to provide for a three-year-old and take care of himself. He didn’t mind it though. Alphinaud was the reason that he got up every day, the reason that he worked so hard to make sure he was someone who could protect without dying.

Alphinaud was a bright child, incredibly kind, and loving to a fault. He was positive the boy had a brighter future ahead of him, and of course the younger had goals of his own. He knew without a doubt that he would destroy the world if it meant that he could protect Alphinaud. He donned a pair of grey trousers and white undershirt before he exited back into the main room, Alphinaud sitting patiently at the table.

“Esti, what are you making for dinner?”

“Something simple. I haven’t the energy for anything more to be honest. Today has been rough and I only expect similar in the future. Perhaps I should start teaching you how to cook.”

“Oh, would you?”

“If you can show to me that you can work around knives and fire without hurting yourself, then I shall deem you worthy to make dinner if it ever gets too late.”

The smile that spread across Alphinauds face nearly made Estinien just let the boy cook dinner without any form of instruction.

“Come, your training starts now.”

 


 

Aymeric stormed through the doors to the Congregation, startling the few knights whose duties led them through the main room. Many of them raised an eyebrow at him but he currently didn’t deem them worthy enough to even look at. His gaze landed harshly on the lift operator who scrambled to open the lift, Aymerics foot tapping incessantly on the ground, his arms crossed. He was positive that those that were currently witnessing his fit of rage were rather curious as to who incurred such a wrath on their Lord Commander. In the past week, there hadn’t been a single person that was able to upset the Lord Commander, no matter the news and no matter how badly they messed up. He seemed to be the most level headed person they had ever come to know, and yet now he was storming through the Congregation with a fury that they knew to stay away from.

When the lift came Aymeric boarded and told the guard to not let a single soul to his office unless Ishgard was being attacked or the city was burning to the ground. He didn’t have the patience to deal with anyone right now and just wished to be alone with his quill and the endless amounts of papers that he needed to read and sign for. Back inside his office he sat down in the chair letting out a rather exasperated groan. He was tired, frustrated, and horribly angry. In the past week, he couldn’t even keep track of the number of sneers and looks he got as he walked through the town. Apparently, no matter what he was to do people would look down upon him.

If he could, without incurring the wrath of his father he would scream atop the highest roof in Ishgard that yes, he was the Archbishops bastard son but that didn’t mean that he got this title because of that. He was born and his title stripped away from him, he shouldn’t have even been here in the first place. He worked his way up through the ranks to get this damned job and he had the accomplishments to prove that, even though he was indeed born with a silver spoon in his mouth, that was ripped away from him moments after.

He knew he shouldn’t be as frustrated as he was, he swore to himself that he wouldn’t let this get to him, he had been living his entire life like this. It just seemed that the fact that he earned this title, he worked for it, slaved for it practically and people didn’t seem to acknowledge that, it bothered him, it really and truly upset him. He didn’t know what he could do to get the people to trust him. The Brume was a different story, barely anyone there trusted him because he had a status. He could have been born in the Brume, raised in the Brume, then handed a status but the people would only learn to distrust.

From them he didn’t so much care, he was working on that situation but the high houses and every damn noble in this place seemed to think that if you weren’t born with noble blood then the brume was exactly where you belonged. Didn’t matter than many froze or starved to death, less people they had to look at. No, no the nobles are what bothered him. They knew of his accomplishments, knew how hard it was for him to get here, they just didn’t seem to care. It was true that people believed without conscious. Whatever was the majority believed people tended to side with them, even if they at one point thought differently.

He knew that there were knights who worked under him that believed in him, that knew he was going to be a good commander and that he was honestly trying to better Ishgard. Those knights, those few people in the city that believed as well, those people are the ones he tried to remember in times like these. It just got to him after a while, no matter how hard he tried, no matter how much he told himself it didn’t matter, it did. How could he be a good Lord Commander if the townspeople didn’t trust him? He couldn’t, and that was a fact. If no one trusted him or believed in him, then no one would follow him, and all his hard work would have been for naught. It just meant he would have to work even harder, to prove himself even further. Sitting up straighter he grabbed his quill and began to work, his resolve renewed.

Chapter Text

Okay okay, I know Estinien is going to sound out of character this chapter but we don't really know how he would act around siblings. I mean I doubt he would be his stoic self so just go along with it alright? 


 

 

Estinien wiped the sweat from his brow, crouching back down on top of one of the roofs around Ishgard. He placed his helm back atop his head, watching as a rather aggravated Lord Commander walked through the streets. He still hadn’t the time to go meet with him, his duties finding him away for almost the entire day. He’d seen the young Lord about and had never seen him this angry before. It was an honestly amusing sight, if he didn’t value his life and didn’t care potentially being killed for treason he might have gone to talk to him. If he really did go though it would probably only end with him getting yelled at, and he really didn’t wish to be chopped down with the blue sword that the commander always wore.

He decided it best to go and talk to him tomorrow, having finished what he needed too for the next couple of days. He spent the rest of the day sitting atop the roof that housed the Lord Commanders office. Knowing full well that there were people that still wanted to make an attempt on his life. When eve hit, he stood and made his way towards the small house he owned, noting that he hadn’t seen the Lord Commander leave the Congregation. He seemed to be working hard but he couldn’t say, he didn’t deign spying on the Lord Commander.

Approaching his house, he chuckled under his helm as the door was flung open before he even reached a hand out to do so himself.

“Esti, Esti welcome home!”

“Evening Alphie, I expect all is well?”

“There’s something I wanna show you! Hurry up and change, you will be so impressed I know it.”

Estinien walked inside the house and eyed the boy as he made his way to change. He couldn’t even imagine what the boy wanted to show him. The smaller had been very secretive recently, not telling him what he had been doing or working on while he was away. He didn’t bother giving it too much thought, he knew that he was going to find out as soon as he walked outside the door. He waited a little longer inside the room, knowing the boy was getting impatient outside.

“Esti hurry please.”

Estinien just shook his head and left the room, finding Alphinaud with a book open on the table.

“What do you have there?”

Upon closer inspection, he noticed it was a low-level grimoire.

“Alphinaud how did you acquire that and what in the hells do you think you are doing with it?”

Alphinaud shrunk back a little when he noticed the tone that Estinien was using. It wasn’t one that he heard very often, he’d upset Estinien somehow.

“Remember when we went to Lominsa together? I ran into the head Arcanist there and they might have given me this.”

Estinien’s gaze hardened, he reached to grab the book, trying to keep his anger in check.

“I don’t want you near any of this. I’m locking this book away and you aren’t to look for it. If I find it in your possession again I will not be very happy.”

“Estinien why? I want to help you. I want to be able to protect you!”

Estinien whirled around to look at him, a deep scowl ingrained on his face.

“I do not want you near this stuff. You are far too young for it.”

“But the head Arcanist said that I could start with small spells, they said they thought I was ready.”

“You. Are. Not. You are eight years old. I fear for you holding a knife, you are not to start studying to be an Arcanist at such a young age.”

Estinien went to place the book on a shelf until he found a better place to hide it, trying to calm himself down. He didn’t want Alphinaud to be anywhere near this sort of stuff. He was too young. Yes, he was smart, sure he probably could start studying it, but his heart wouldn’t allow the boy to start, even on small spells that couldn’t hurt him.

Alphinaud jumped off the chair, going up to face Estinien.

“Why won’t you let me help you? I just want to be able to protect you. You’re out there risking your life for the city, what if something happens to you? What if you can’t protect yourself? I want to be there for you?”

“I can’t lose you too!”

Estinien yelled at the boy, watching as the other shrunk in on himself, obviously fearful of his elder brother.

“Alphinaud, I can’t bear to lose you too.”

Estinien sunk to his knees, placing his hands on the boy’s shoulders.

“We lost mother and father when we were both young. We lost our parents. I cannot… I do not want to lose you Alphie. You are the reason that I get up every morning. Alphie, please, for me do not do this right now. Just let me protect you a little bit longer.”

Alphinaud sniffled, wiping the tears from his eyes with his shirt.

“I’m sorry Estinien, I didn’t mean to upset you.”

Estinien smiled, bringing the younger boy into a hug.

“No, you must forgive me. I lost my temper with you, I am truly sorry. Wait a few more years and then I will allow it. I promise no harm will come to me.”

He picked up Alphinaud when the boy wrapped his arms around him and snuggled his head into the crook of his neck. He led them into the bedroom, sitting down on the bed.

“Do you forgive me?”

“Of course, I do.”

Estinien laid the boy down on the bed, kissing his forehead.

“Rest, I’ll call you when dinner is ready.”

He spent the entire time while making dinner thinking of the Lord Commander. He really was curious how he had gotten so angry. He’d been keeping an eye on him this past week and no matter what people did or said he had never once gotten upset. No matter he supposed, he planned on going to go meet with him tomorrow so perhaps he would get a feel for what happened. He was interested in him. He thought back again to earlier that day, from high atop the roof the Lord Commander looked much a like a blue bird. He smiled to himself, a nickname he could probably use against him if they became able to banter like that.

He finished up dinner a little while later and went to fetch Alphinaud. He sat down on the bed and moved Alphinaud’s hair from his face, looking down at the sleeping boy. He really didn’t know what he would do if he ever lost him. What he said earlier, it was true. Alphie was the reason that he managed to get up every day. Seeing him smile or laugh gave him joy that he couldn’t find anywhere else. He loved Alphinaud, loved him more than himself. He gently shook the boy, waking him.

“Hey Alphie, dinner’s ready.”

Alphinaud opened his eyes, rubbing the sleep from them. The smaller boy smiled and sat up, Estinien ruffling his hair.

“How about I make a deal with you Alphie. I was thinking maybe you can show me what you’ve been working on and we’ll call it quits until you’re older. I know you were excited to show me and I got upset with you.”

Alphinaud practically glowed after he finished speaking. God his brother was just too cute sometimes. He stood up and let Alphinaud run out into the kitchen area, going to where he put the Grimoire earlier. He got it down and looked at it, he would have to have a talk with the master Archanist in the future. Alphinaud was waiting patiently for him, reaching for the book when he got closer.

“It’s not going to hurt you or I, it’s a really simple spell.”

“Alright, show me while I set the table.”

Alphinaud stood up and opened the book, concentrating. Estinien watched as a green orb pulsated next to him, setting the plates on the table and getting the food. A few moments later a small Carbuncle was flying next to the boy, Alphinaud’s smile wider than he had ever seen it. Estinien looked on, bewildered. He really didn’t think that Alphinaud was capable of such things, it frightened him, worried for his future. He knew the boy had to grow up fast. With their parents passing and himself having to go to work, Alphinaud had to learn how to take care of himself extremely quickly. It shouldn’t have surprised him to see that Alphinaud could already call his familiar. He was a smart kid, someone he was incredibly proud to call his brother.

“I’m proud of you Alphie, you have shown just how good you are already. I shan’t go back on my word however, you will take up the title when you are of age and no sooner. Now, shall we eat?”

“Alright. Goodbye Mr. Carbuncle, I’ll see you again sometime.”

Alphinaud closed the Grimoire and frowned, placing it on the table. Estinien pulled the book towards him before putting the food on their plates.

“Do no worry Alphie, you will see him again. You shall become an Arcanist if you so wish it. I just cannot allow you to start training at such a young age.”

“I understand. I will wait if you wish it.”

The two of them ate dinner, Alphinaud constantly asking how Estinien made this or that. The boy had taken quickly to cooking. He would probably be able to take on cooking himself in the next few months. That would help him a lot. He could trust Alphinaud to get dinner made, get himself fed if he was away for an extended period. There wasn’t anyone he trusted to take care of Alphinaud while he was away. He had to make sure that he could take care of himself.

After he had put Alphinaud to bed he was sitting at the table doing some work, when he heard the soft pitter patter of the boys feet. He turned around as the door opened to their bedroom.

“Something the matter?”

“I had a night terror. Can I sleep with you tonight?”

“Yeah, go back inside, I will be with you in a few moments.”

“What are you working on?”

“A few field reports. I’m going to meet the Lord Commander of the Temple Knights tomorrow and I have several days’ worth of reports to hand to him.”

“Oh, is he not new?”

“Yes, he started a week ago, still fresh at his post, as am I. Now go Alphie, I will be with you before you are able to even close your eyes again.”

Alphie nodded and headed back into their room. Estinien grinned as he finished writing the few reports. It had been many moons since Alphie last asked to spend the night with him and it was something he might never refuse the boy. He feared him growing up to be honest. Feared him not needing him anymore. He finished the reports and gathered them in a stack before making his way to their room, pushing Alphie over so he could get onto the bed himself. Estinien wrapped his arms around the boy as the other snuggled into him, a small smile finding his way onto his face.

“Thank you.”

“Sleep well small one. I will see you when the sun rises in the morn.”


 

Estinien ended up rising earlier than the sun, he wanted to make sure that he did a few rounds around the city before he would go introduce himself to the Lord Commander. He had finished right as the sun rose over the tops of the buildings, he spotted the bluebird he would meet soon making his way towards the congregation, looking much better than he had yesterday. He would wait a little longer, until the sun rose just a little bit higher in the sky. He jumped down from the building, heading back towards his house. He popped open the window to find Alphinaud sitting at the table writing something.

“Hey there Alphie.”

Alphinaud jumped, startled by Estinien presence.

“What are you doing here?”

“I had a few minutes before I was to meet the Lord Commander so I decided to drop by and check on you.”

“You’ve been awfully sweet these past few days.”

“Are you say that as your older brother I am not allowed to dote on you on occasion?”

“I supposed you’re not incorrect in saying that. Now I’m fine, go meet the Lord Commander and come back to tell me all about it tonight.”

“As you wish.”

Estinien waved as he replaced him helm and headed towards The Congregation of the Knights Most Heavenly. He was greeted at the door and shown towards the lift, the Knights already knowing who he was. He was instructed on where the Lord Commanders office was before being left alone to make the journey himself. Once he arrived at the heavy wooden door he tucked the papers he had under his arm and knocked.

“Come in.”

Opening the door, he took a few steps in before closing the door, bowing to the man sitting in the chair.

“Lord Commander, The Azure Dragoon, Estinien Wyrmblood at your service.”

“It’s nice to finally meet you.” 

Chapter Text

“It’s nice to finally meet you.”

Estinien glanced up at the man who spoke to him. Aymeric’s voice was a soft velvet, extremely sultry and nothing like how he expected him to sound. He looked over his features, his face chiseled, his eyes an ice blue that he could stare into for days. This man was inhumanly beautiful, this was trouble already.

“Forgive my lateness. I have been busy with my own work this past week.”

“Do not worry, I believe it. I cannot expect the Azure Dragoon to be at my side every minute.”

“I hope your position is treating you well.”

“As well as it can with all the speculation going around. Come though, we are not here for me. How are you faring? You are as new as I am.”

“Just fine my Lord. Nothing has happened thus far.”

Aymeric nodded, standing and grabbing his sword. Estinien took that brief moment to look over him. It was hard to say how well he was built, but he could image their figures much the same. He was tall, beautiful, and a fresh face for the knights. He can’t remember the last time he had been so superficially attracted to someone before.

“Come Azure Dragoon. Might you accompany me on a walk through the town. I can guess you haven’t the time to take a look for yourself, plus it might get the knights off my back by going out alone.”

“Azure Dragoon is far too long a name, just call me Estinien. I shall accompany you if you request it. You shouldn’t be walking the streets by yourself. I’m sure you know there are people who might try and kill you. “

“Do I look that fragile to you? I am an able-bodied warrior. I can defend myself if the time presents itself.”

“I do suppose that it so, but it does not make it any less dangerous to march on your own.”

“Says the man who does everything purely on his own.”

Estinien huffed, remembering the papers under his arm.

“Oh, before we go, I have my reports from the past week.”

Aymeric nodded and took the papers that were handed to him, placing them on his desk.

“I’ll look over them when I return, for now, I have got to get out of this office.”

Estinien just nodded as he followed Aymeric out of his office and towards the pillars. So far, he was nothing that he expected. He seemed much kinder than a Lord Commander ought to be. Estinien was loathed to be around a man that he didn’t deem worthy, but seeing as his current job was to protect this particular one, he would just have to deal with it. The afternoon was spent with the two of them going around the city, talking to the citizens and just getting a feel for what was happening.

The Dragons were starting to stir, the townspeople were getting frightened. It was the Knights job to protect the citizens, but Estinien didn’t see a reason for Aymeric do be doing something he could send a knight to do for him. He seemed to be shirking his true duties, just one more reason to loath having to work for him. Their last destination was the Brume, Estinien eyeing the Commander as they headed there.

“Lord Commander, I don’t mean to be presumptuous, but you shouldn’t be making trips to the Brume yourself. It’s far too dangerous.”

“Estinien, once again, I am perfectly capable of defending myself. If you find it too disgusting to follow me then I bid you leave. I have no need for someone who doesn’t see the Brume as a major project for the city. Those people have every right to live in comfort that the nobles do.”

“Pray forgive me, I did not mean to upset you.”

Aymeric didn’t respond to that, already frustrated that he seemed to be the only noble in the city that thought that the Brume needed to be repaired, houses built for everyone and food distribute to those that could not earn it for themselves. He knew he shouldn’t be here, he knew that most of those in the Brume loathed to see him walking around, but he hoped, deep down, that if he made rounds here often those people would warm up to him. 

Estinien shadowed him, watching his back as he talked to those that would speak to him. Making sure that no cur came to try on the Lord Commanders life. There were a few he scared away, the giant lance on his back helping with that. His armor and demeanor made him seem much scarier than he looked under his helm.

A while later Aymeric had finished his rounds and was heading back towards the Congregation.

“Thank you Estinien for following me today. I appreciate your help; however, I do ask… If you do not see this city like I do. If you would not give your life to protect the people and this town that I love so very much, then I ask that you not accompany me further. I’m already in bad spirits with many of the nobles because of the rumor of my birth.”

“I have no thoughts on the matter, positive or negative. I will not stop you from the goals you try to complete unless it finds you in the face of danger, does this work for you?”

Aymeric turned to look at the Dragoon, looking him over.

“That sounds fine to me. Now the rest of the day is yours to spend. If you have need of my you will find me in my office. I bid you farewell Azure Dragoon.”

Aymeric turned back towards his destination, swiftly making his way back, knowing that there was going to be a mountain of work on his desk that he needed to accomplish. He greeted the knights as he entered, the lift door already open awaiting his arrival. He thanked the knight and headed up, leaning back against the wall, lost in his thoughts.

The entire time he was with the Dragoon he had to keep himself from asking the other to take his helm off, for some reason he had want to see his face. If his toned body was any indication of his face Aymeric knew he was going to like what was under that helm. He shook his head, trying to get the Dragoon off his mind as he made his way towards his office, scowling at the mess of papers on his desk.

“Tonight may be a long one for me.”


 

“Estinien, how was the Lord Commander?”

Estinien was showing Alphinaud how to cut onions when the question got asked, his mind having never left the man in question since they had parted ways.

“He’s an odd one.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, how do you expect a Lord Commander to act like?”

Estinien stood behind Alphinaud, watching him and correcting his knife if it ever got too out of place.

“Well, I’d imagine they would be extremely strict and work oriented. Probably big and burly as well. Someone who sits at his desk all day filling out paper work and ordering knights around like they’re disposable pawns.”

“Well, I hate to break it to you but he’s nothing like that. He’s kind, gentle. He cares far too much and from what I’ve come to understand works too much as well. I don’t think I saw him go home once before I did. He’s also young, probably around my age. He’s well-built but not brawny, his face his gentle as well, and his voice is velvety soft.”

Estinien stops himself, realizing that’s he going too far into detail for his brother.

“Ahh, forget that last statement. Anyhow, he’s not strict, at least not on the surface.”

Alphinaud put the knife down, having finished cutting the onions while Estinien was talking.

“He sounds awesome, I want to meet him.”

Estinien just shakes his head and places the onions in the pot, stirring them.

“I don’t think I can arrange that, now why don’t you chop up the herbs I’ve placed to the side.”

“Okay. Well, do you like him?”

Estinien had to stop and think about that for a minute, he didn’t like him, and he didn’t hate him. He was in the realm that most everyone was in. He didn’t think him fit to be a Lord Commander but it wasn’t his place to say. He didn’t see himself going to Aymeric for just a chat.

“I don’t dislike him, nor can I say I like him. I have my views on him that I’m sure if I speak I would be arrested for treason. So, for now let’s just finish dinner.”

He really did not think that Aymeric was fit to be Lord Commander. He didn’t seem like he could hold that sword he wore at his hip, no matter how many times he insisted that he could take care of himself. He supposed it mattered not though, it wasn’t his decision and it wouldn’t make him do his job any differently.

Dinner that night was an exciting affair. Estinien had let Alphinaud do almost everything by himself, with supervision of course. It would still be a while until he allowed him to do it if he wasn’t home, but the boy seemed excited to be able to start cooking so who was he to deny him if he could at least make sure that he was safe.

The next few weeks were spent in a frenzy; the dragons were showing themselves more through the lands. Most didn’t show by Ishgard but the few that did were felled by Estinien’s lance. There were many times where Estinien met with Aymeric with dragon blood still glistening on his armor. Most of the time he didn’t even get to wash it off before he headed home to start on dinner. Alphinaud was overprotective as ever. Forcing Estinien to go through his own personal checkup, after finding that nothing was wrong they would make dinner and Alphinaud would help Estinien clean his armor until bed time. It was a tireless routine, one that Estinien found himself getting into, but knowing that Alphinaud was getting tired of.

After that night Estinien started going to the armory to clean his armor before heading back home. It lessened the stress on his young brother and left his mind a little freer knowing that Alphinaud could go throughout the day without worrying that his brother wasn’t ever going to come back home.

Aymeric’s schedule was packed much more after the dragons started to make their moves. There was meeting after meeting with the knights, going over battle strategies and preparing for the eventual battle that was going to happen. Most of Aymerics day was spent in those meetings and his nights spent on paper work and training himself. He rarely found the time to eat much less sleep. Most of the times forgetting too until one of the knights would bring him food while he was in his office.

He was thankful for those few knights that kept watch on him, at the very least he was getting some food in him. He only kept the hour by the number of candles that he managed to burn through during the nights. On those days that the sun greeted him before he ever caught sleep he would only nap an hour or two before returning to work. He knew it was unhealthy but his work as Lord Commander came before anything else, he had to make sure that the knights were prepared and the city protected from anything that might come their way.

On the day that Aymeric managed to find the time to walk the city he was met by a frantic knight.

“Ser Aymeric, the dragons, they are marching.”

Chapter Text

“Lord Commander, the Dragon’s, they are marching.”

Aymeric turned towards him, hand on the hilt of his sword.

“Gather the knights. We march as well.”

The Knight saluted before running off towards the Congregation, Aymeric booking it to the front of the city, he saw a black blur running across the rooftops, Estinien. He knew he had no need to call for him, this was his job, this was what the Azure Dragoon was here for. At the entrance, he surveyed the fields, the dragons were still far off, they needed to get to them before they marched on the city. Moments later he heard the clatter of the knights running up to him. He turned towards them and waited till they formed to speak.

“You all know the formation and what I expect of you. We have been planning this battle for weeks. The Chirurgeon tent will be pitched a thousand alms away from the entrance to the city. Bring any wounded to them, it matters not if they are Ishgardian or adventurers passing through. I expect the best from all of you. Now, temple knights, move out!”

Aymeric saluted them, turning towards the field and heading out, his sword at the ready. The battle was bloody, like any would expect. His knights were being felled left and right, the dragons overwhelming them. Aymeric went from battle to battle. Protecting those that he could and carrying those that he found wounded on the fields. He was covered in viscous red blood from both humans and dragons, on the battle field, it did not matter who your enemy was, you had to fight for your life and your country.

Aymeric found himself a few alms away from the Dragoon, wanting to watch him fight, but facing his own hoard of dragons. He slashed one through the stomach, jumping on his corpse to drive his sword in the head of another. There had to have been six dragons surrounding him. Aymeric feared few things in this world, being surrounded by six sets of snarling dragon teeth had to be one of them. He didn’t let it get to him though, he continued to fight, slowly whittling away the dragons.

He felled four of the dragons, leaving two in his way. He was exhausted, his strength leaving him. He had to have cut down more than thirty dragons at this point, humans were truly not meant to fight them, but they had too. He whirled around slicing at the other dragon, the other reached out a claw, trying to swipe at him, he jumped away, putting his sword in front of his body to protect him from another swing. He slashed when he had an opening, his sword finding the soft spot in the dragon’s underbelly as it rose on its hind legs.

He turned to fight the other dragon, a sudden pain ripping through his side. Looking down, his torso was incased by the dragon’s paw, a claw dug deeply in his side. His knees gave out, the only thing keeping him standing was the dragon. Before he knew it, he was flying through the air, the dragon throwing him nearly across the field. He lifted his head as the dragon roared, running towards him, his body not wanting to obey his wishes. He used his hand to cover the wound, attempting to stand. He couldn’t fall here, he had to finish this fight.

Estinien watched as Aymeric went down, no matter how he tried to spin it in his head there was no way for Aymeric to have protected himself from that attack. The fact that he managed to fell five dragons on his own was a feat in its self. He really had underestimated the Lord Commander. Pulling the lance from the heart of his last opponent he ran toward Aymeric, he had to get to him before the Dragon did. Fate wouldn’t have it though, he found himself up again several dragons, knights trying their best to hold them off from getting to the city. He was torn between going for Aymeric or helping the Knights. The only thing stopping him was Aymeric’s voice ridiculing him for saving himself instead of the knights. He grimaced as he went to help the knights, always glancing back towards the wounded Blue Bird on the field. He shielded one of the knights from a nasty attack, the dragon breaking his contact with Aymeric. He growled, digging is spear in further, the dragon falling to the ground. As he looked back towards the Lord Commanders portion of the field, what he saw nearly made him look twice. Aymeric was standing there, with his sword in the dragon that had moments earlier nearly killed him. He watched as Aymeric pulled his sword out, one of his hand constantly on the wound that needed tending too. Estinien chanced a look at the field, finding the few remaining dragons fleeing. They had won… for now. He didn’t even have to think about it before his feet were moving him towards Aymeric, calling out to him.

“Lord Commander.”

“Estinien, go check on the soldiers still on the field, assist any who cannot make it to the tent themselves. We have to save as many lives as we can.”

“I hope you are including your own life in this situation.”

“I matter not. We cannot lose more knights that we already have.”

“Aymeric look at yourself. You are barely standing.”

Aymeric who was looked at the field around him whipped his head around, nearly falling to his knees. His breathing was heavy, his hand covered in his own blood. He had next to no color to his face, only sheer willpower keeping him going.

“I don’t fucking care Estinien. Do what I tell you to or the minute that the battlefield is cleared I will have you tried for treason. You may be the Azure Dragoon, I may not have much authority over you, but the battle field is my realm. All those on it are under my command and those who do not listen to me are not following my god damn orders. Do I make myself clear?”

“Crystal.”

Estinien turned away, holding his tongue. After seeing what the Lord Commander could do on the battle field he really did not want to incur his wrath while off it. The two parted ways, both going to wounded soldiers. While Estinien was able to carry the soldiers Aymeric had to get assistants from the other knights still able to move. Many of them urged the Commander to go get himself checked out but received similar words to those he had spat at Estinien. Aymeric made sure to steer clear of the Chirurgeon tent, knowing full well that if he stepped foot in it, he would not be returning to finish his duties.

The more time that passed the harder it became to keep himself upright, he found himself stumbling on more than one occasion, and with the dragon corpses and knights strewn across the battle field it made navigating through it a terror.

Estinien found himself trailing behind Aymeric. He stayed far enough behind that the other one would not notice, but he found himself full of worry for the other. He knew that at some point the other was going to collapse. He had lost too much blood, he could see it from this far away. Aymeric was pale, practically a ghost. How he managed to hold on this long was a mystery to Estinien, but he found himself holding more respect for the commander than he had before stepping onto the battlefield.

“Azure Dragoon, how fares the field?”

He turned around to find a chirurgeon behind him, more than likely asking if there were any more wounded that needed tending too.

“I believe we are clear. The only one left that needs attending too is the Lord Commander.”

“A few of the Knights informed me, said he was gravely injured. Do you know his whereabouts?”

“He should be behind me.”

Estinien turned around to look to where the Commander once was, no longer finding him there, upon further inspection he noticed a crumple of blue on the ground.

“Go back to the tent, he’s fallen. I’ll bring him post-haste.”

He charged off, jumping over the carcasses, not having the time to try and dodge them

“Aymeric!”

Estinien found him completely collapsed, his breathing shallow. Bending down he picked him up, holding him tight.

“Stay with us, Aymeric please. We cannot lose you, not right yet.”

He hated having to run with Aymeric so injured but it was the only way to ensure he got to the tent with any chance for him to live. The Chirurgeon who he had spoken too was standing outside, guiding him to a cot to lay the Commander down on. The minute he touched the bed the tent got frantic, almost every Chirurgeon going to assist with making sure that the Lord Commander lived, he was pushed out, along with every knight that was able to stand and head back into the city.

Estinien was at a loss. He hadn’t a clue what to do. He looked down at his hands, his armor. Coated in the blood of dragons and knights alike, the freshest from the Lord Commander. He looked around, other’s already going to expose of the dragon’s bodies and gather the fallen knights, he should be helping, he knew he should be doing something, but his mind was in a tizzy. Everything he thought about the Lord Commander was turned on its head after just a single battle.

How could someone who was so kind be so incredibly strong? Not to mention he was incredibly bull headed, despite having a wound that would down any normal man, he got back up to slay that same dragon and stayed up to make sure that his charges were taken care of. It was clear to him now that Aymeric’s duty was more important than his life. He really did love Ishgard more than anything. And that’s what confused him.

How could a man, who was constantly getting insulted by those very people, give his life for them? Estinien didn’t know if he was that big of a man. If someone didn’t like him, if nearly an entire city didn’t like him, could he give his life for them? No, probably not. Estinien did the only thing that he could think of, stand watch at the entrance of the tent. He heard the yelling, heard the panic coming from the healers. He knew that Aymeric was almost a lost cause when he brought him in, but he didn’t want it to be true.

He needed to speak with Aymeric, needed to apologize, something he rarely did. Their first meeting, he knew he was unkind to him. He doesn’t hide his disdain for those he deems as weak very well. And that first meeting, he deemed the Lord Commander as weak, speaking to him harshly and criticizing him. He was doing exactly what everyone else was, and he felt like shit about it. He stayed outside that tent until the sun descended behind the city, until the healers had finished. One of the Chirurgeon’s stepped out of the tent, summoning him.

“Would you mind taking the Lord Commander back to his chambers? We still have other patients who need our help and currently cannot move him.”

Estinien just nodded and headed back in, going towards the Lord Commander. Scooping him up into his arms he gently walked outside of the tent, not giving a passing glance at the healers he passed. His only focus was on making sure that he didn’t jostle Aymeric too much, walking as slowly as he could. He was thankful that those who still roamed outside didn’t stop to ask. He saw their faces though, they knew what had happened out there on the battle field.

Estinien had a good feeling that in the coming days people’s ideas on him would change. There would still be those nobles that didn’t believe in him because he wasn’t born a noble. Those lesser born, perhaps even those in the Brume, would begin to trust him, knowing that he almost gave his life for them. Hell, he could still pass on in the coming night, even the next few days. He entered Aymeric’s chambers, nestling him down on the bed. He removed his coat, they had discarded his shirt, it wasn’t salvageable. His coat would need to be taken to the weavers. His entire torso was covered in bandages, blood slowly seeping through. He looked away, taking off his boots and setting them to the side, covering the commander with his blankets before exiting.

He was met with a Chirurgeon coming towards him.

“Thank you, Dragoon, you’ve been a great help to us. Someone will be watching him until he is stable. Could I ask why you are carrying his coat?”

“I’m taking it to the weavers before I retire for the night.”

“Very well, while you are there could I ask you to also put in an order for another shirt for him?”

“Might as well.”

He started to walk down the hallway before he was stopped again.

“You are not injured?”

“No, I’m fine.”

Estinien didn’t let the Chirurgeon keep him any longer, exiting the building. To anyone who knew him well, he knew that he was acting strange, but he honestly could not help it. He felt like he just had to do something for Aymeric, to make it up to him. Why he felt like he had to make something up to him, still confused him. He shouldn’t care about the Lord Commander, but perhaps he had gotten to know him over these past weeks, perhaps he felt something like friendship for him, even if he had deemed him as weak. He supposed that is just what happens when you report to someone so often, you get to know a side of them you might or might not have wanted to see.

For Estinien’s case he really didn’t want to have to talk to anyone. He wanted to get his job done then head home to his brother. Yet somehow, somehow Aymeric had snuck his way into his life, subtly and without reason. Now he was worried for the Lord Commander, worried that he might not make it through the night, worried that perhaps the Lord Commander would not deem his as worthy to be his friend with how he had treated him prior.

Friend, Estinien scoffed at the word, he didn’t have friends. He only had people he could associate with for his business. Shaking his head, he got the notion out of his head for now, he had business to attend to and it was already late into the night. Alphinaud was probably worried about him.

Chapter Text

Estinien found Alphinaud asleep at the table when he arrived back home. He put the bag on the counter, too tired to cook dinner so he stopped by to get something already made. He waited to wake the boy until he had changed and cleaned his armor, a few extra minutes wouldn’t hurt, plus he really didn’t want Alphinaud to worry too much over him, he was exhausted and just wanted to sleep. He changed and cleaned his armor, not taking too much care over it, just wanting to get the blood off of it, before heading out into the kitchen. He placed his hand on Alphinaud’s back and kissed the top of his head.

“Hey sleepy, I’m home.”

“Estinien?”

“Yeah, it’s me.”

Alphinaud sat up and hugged Estinien tightly, surprising the Dragoon.

“What’s wrong?”

“I was so worried that you weren’t going to come back home. You took so long and I had no word, I was so terrified.”

Estinien cocked his head, hugging the boy.

“No, I’m fine. I had some business to do after the battle. I’m sorry I didn’t send word to you sooner.”

Alphinaud just hugged him tighter, not wanting to let him go.

“Come on, I bought dinner, let’s eat then you can sleep with my tonight if you wish.”

“Yeah, alright.”

Dinner that night was quiet, Alphinaud was glued to his hip and Estinien was just physically exhausted. He had no energy anymore, the events of this day and the realization about Aymeric were putting his mind in a tizzy. He really hated being wrong.


 

The next morning found Estinien sitting on the roof of Aymeric’s chambers. He had made it through the night and the chirurgeon’s said that he would make a full recovery within the coming weeks. He thought back to his actions yesterday, knowing full well they were extremely out of character for him. He didn’t help people out of the kindness out of his heart, hell he really only helped his brother. Yet somehow, Aymeric snuck his way into his life and they haven’t even done anything.

He growled, laying back against the roof, looking up to the clouds.

“How the hell, have I come to care for a guy I’ve barely talked too. If it’s merely because of the superficial attraction I have towards him, because he’s handsome no matter what state he’s in, then I really am an idiot.”

Yesterday proved that it really didn’t matter what happened to Aymeric, he would still be stunning. Even pale and covered in blood he had an ethereal air about him that pissed Estinien off. He couldn’t even wake up from sleep without looking like he had rolled around on the ground. He’d even agreed to go and pick up Aymeric’s clothing after the weavers were done with it, any knight could have done that, hell, a knight of no status should have been doing it, but he just had to accept.

Days passed in much the same way as the last. Estinien posted himself on the roof of Aymeric’s chambers for a while before going out, settling fights around the town, doing rounds, checking for dragons. It was all mindless tasks that he enjoyed doing. Aymeric hadn’t shown any signs of waking but he did start to look better at least. He’d even gone to check on the person who had taken over Aymeric’s duties while he was away, a young woman by the name of Lucia that swore fealty to Aymeric, she’d shown up almost out of nowhere but her instincts were true to a fighter. He did it mostly to make sure that she wasn’t some enemy spy but she hadn’t done anything to prove that yet, she was smart when it came to dealings behind the desk, a better job to give to someone who seemed knowledgeable to it that any of the other knights.

“Lucia, how goes it?”

“Estinien, welcome. Things are fine here, I’m handling all the paper work I can. Ser Aymeric doesn’t exactly know that I am here, or really even know me but from what I hear, he’ll be understanding.”

“Confused at first, but you are saving him a lot of grief right now. As soon as he wakes I’ll come fetch you, it’s about time you two meet.”

“Yes, thank you. Also, do you mind taking these papers to his room? I’ve had copies made of everything that I’ve signed and written. I’m hoping if he reads over these he won’t worry too much about some random women taking over his job while he is unavailable.”

Estinien takes the papers she hands him, looking over them.

“You’re incredibly thorough with your work. I can attest to that if he has any issues.”

“You’ve got my gratitude.”

Estinien nodded to her and exited, making his way once again to the Lord Commanders chambers. As he got closer he heard voices inside, his heart sinking, usually it was just one, the one of the healer. The closer he got the more he recognized that voice… Aymeric, Aymeric was awake. He stilled himself, listening for a while. It seemed Aymeric thought himself healthy enough to continue working, the Chirurgeon trying his best to get him to stay in bed.

He smirked, he wasn’t going to let the blue bird leave that bed till he was given leave. He knocked, not bothering for a call for summons before entering.

“Sleeping beauty awakens.”

Aymeric stilled, he was in the middle of going through his wardrobe, trying to find something to wear since his usual outfit still wasn’t back from the weavers. Estinien threw the papers on the desk, walking over to Aymeric and picking him, up. Aymeric thrashing around in his arms yelling at him.

“Estinien put me down!”

“Absolutely not. You are on bed rest Lord Commander and if I have to sit on you to get you to stay in bed then so be it.”

He heard the chirurgeon mutter in disapproval, something about opening Aymeric’s wounds again.

“Why must I rest? I’m perfectly capable of going back to work, I’ve neglected it for far too long already.”

“No, you are not. Your face is pale again, your bandages are wet with blood, you breathing is labored. You almost died out there. A few weeks isn’t going to be enough to get you back on your feet.”

Estinien placed Aymeric on the bed, his palm pressing down on his chest, being careful of the wound on his side.

“You will stay here. If I find you wandering about I will not hesitate to carry you back, the only one losing face will be you.”

“But my work.”

“We have that covered. I will bring her here to meet you, but she swore fealty to you, mere minutes after we announced your pardon from work.”

“Who is she?”

“Her name is Lucia Goe Junis, she is not a native of Ishgard but she has already proven herself. As a matter of fact, she has given me a copy of everything she has done for you to look over. If you have a problem with the way she works, then you may relay that to her.”

Estinien felt Aymeric sink into the bed, an exasperated sigh escaping his lips. He removed his hand, staying close in case he tried to make a break for it.

“Fine, I shall stay in bed. I doubt I’d be able to get out anyhow, I have a strong feeling I’ll have a certain Dragoon looking over me for quite a while.”

“That you will. You did something incredibly stupid out on that field Lord Commander. Your life is just as important as every one of those knights on that field, even more so. If you are gone who is going to lead them? Many of those knights look up to you, and those that don’t, are starting to slowly believe in you. Perhaps your stupidity brought people to trust you more, but that doesn’t mean that it was a smart choice.”

He heard Aymeric groan, acting more like a child then he had ever seen him before. Perhaps in his chambers, away from his duties, Aymeric was much laxer then he normally was. It was an interesting thought, and something that Estinien wanted to explore more.

“I hope you are at the very least keeping an eye on this Lucia person. I still am not sure if I trust her. No one knows her, no one knows where she came from. It’s suspicious to me.”

“That I can understand. She wanted to meet you, would you mind if she stopped by?”

“I would feel much better if she did. Bring her when she is available.”

“As you wish.”

Estinien bowed slightly and left the room, giving one last glance at Aymeric before parting. Aymeric had stayed in bed for a few days, eventually trying to make his escape but Estinien not allowing it. No matter when or how, the Dragoon always seemed to be right behind him. It was odd, extremely odd behavior from the Dragoon.

Either way he was grumpy, cooped up in his bed for days on end was killing him. No one stopped by except the chirurgeons, and that was only ever to change his bandages and make sure he was not doing anything stupid. He’d met with Lucia a few days prior, allowing her to continue her work since he didn’t suspect anything. He crossed his arms, groaning when he hit his wound. Maybe the Dragoon was right, and maybe he should stay in bed, but that didn’t mean he was going to like it.

Speaking of which, the Dragoon had been on his mind a lot lately. He had gathered from their first meeting that he did not like him. There was something he had, or hadn’t done to make Estinien put him on his “I do not like list” which basically consisted of the entire town. It baffled him really. How could he dislike most everyone, yet still give his life for them? He didn’t understand Estinien, he wasn’t sure if he really ever would.

A knock on the door woke him from his stupor, the chirurgeons had just left, he wasn’t sure who it could have been. 

“Come in.”

He watched as the door open and the devil walk in.

“You usually come through the window.”

“I decided today to go through the door. If you would like I can always go back out and come in through the window, if it so pleases you that is.”

Aymeric waved his hand, ignoring the sarcasm dripping from Estinien’s voice.

“Do what do I owe the pleasure?”

Aymeric’s eyes followed Estinien, the Dragoon walked over to his desk, pulled out his chair, and sat down, placing his feet ungracefully on his desk.

“May I ask why you are sitting there, and please get your feet off my desk, you are covered in dirt.”

Estinien just shrugged and pulled a book off Aymeric’s desk, opening it.

“You do realize I’m your Lord Commander even though I’m bedridden.”

“I would have thought that our poor, bed ridden Lord Commander would want some company.”

“Has anyone ever told you that you can be incredibly unpleasant to speak too?”

“Has anyone ever told you that you are a damn fool?”

“On more than one occasion, you still haven’t answered my question.”

“I would have thought that you, ever so insightful and full of wisdom would know that answer to that.”

“I might have an idea but I’m not one to just assume things.”

Estinien sighed, putting the book down and looking at Aymeric.

“You yourself can be incredibly unpleasant to talk too. Here I am, taking the time to bring you company, even though I can do whatever I wish, and you are insulting me.”

Aymeric sat up, grimacing, his damn side didn’t let him do anything without pain.

“I would think that someone as smart as yourself would find it impossible to fling insults back to me.”

“You have no dominion over me, except maybe on the battlefield. I do as I please.”

“You are a pain in my side.”

“Actually, Lord Commander, I do believe that a dead dragon is a pain in your side.”

“Oh, look at that, he has jokes.”

The two of them stared at each other for a while before Aymeric broke out in laughter, clutching his side.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck.”

“Perhaps I’ll lay off my oh so hilarious jokes until you are able to laugh.”

“If I could actually stand without you pushing me back down I would beat your ass.”

“Is that a promise or a threat?”

“Both.”

“We could always tussle where you lay.”

“An interesting proposal but I do not bring men I barely know into my bed. For wrestling or otherwise.”

Estinien stopped, looking at Aymeric. He’d learned more about him in the past five minutes than he had ever thought he would know, rather intimate information. Perhaps he could even take the Lord Commander to bed if he ever felt a need. At least it might sate his desire, the Lord Commander was just far too pretty.

“Perhaps we should get to know each other more.”

“Perhaps you should think twice before you bed the Lord Commander.”

Aymeric’s gaze was piercing, it bothered him, in more ways than one.

Aymeric resituated himself, his leg’s hanging over the bed.

“What do you think you are doing?”

“Will you not even allow me to roam my own room? I’ll lose my strength if I don’t get to at least walk.”

“I suppose I can allow that, have at it Lord Commander.”

“Aymeric.”

“Excuse me?”

“Lord Commander is far too long of a title to call me when we are alone and not in front of the knights. I’m allowing you to call me by my name.”

“What an honor.”

Aymeric rolled his eyes, hearing the sarcasm dripping from Estinien’s words.

“You are not exactly the person whom I would have wanted to keep me company, but at least you are entertaining. I can’t remember the last time I have been able to talk to someone like this.”

“Then, am I allowed to take that as summons whenever you are lonely.”

“If you so wish it to be.”

The two of them talked like that until eve hit. Estinien couldn’t contain his laughter on more than one occasion when Aymeric fell flat on his face, Aymeric throwing insults at him as a result. It was an unexpected start of a friendship. He hadn’t expected them to get so close as they had in those few hours. Despite seeming like a carefree guy, Aymeric really was one to let loose information to those that he trusted. It was rarely anything important, and things that one could figure out if one looked close enough. Either way, Estinien left that night in a better mood than most.


 

“Esti what’s wrong with you tonight?”

“I haven’t the faintest what you are talking about.”

Estinien and Alphinaud were at the kitchen table, cooking up some fresh muffins. He had dubbed Alphinaud to be safe cooking dinner on his own so they had moved onto baking, something Estinien actually prided himself in.

“You’re smiling and it’s kind of creepy.”

“Ouch. Are you saying I am not allowed to smile?”

“No, I’m saying that you are doing it a lot more than normal and it’s weirding me out. What happened to you today?”

“Nothing of note. I just… well I had a good day at work.”

Alphinaud looked at him, his small nose scrunched in disbelief.

“You are not going to tell me.”

“I have nothing to tell you, so no, no I am not.”

Alphinaud crossed his arms, pouting.

“Well, in order to make up for this you have to let me meet the Lord Commander. Ever since you talked about him I’ve been so curious to meet him.”

“You know I cannot arrange a meeting with you two. Perhaps if we are on a walk out together, once his wounds heal, I’ll make sure we walk by the house. He loves talking to people.”

“You two walk together?”

“Well, in the most literal of senses. He will go out on rounds, getting word from the people and such. I am just his body guard since he shouldn’t be doing it alone.”

“Isn’t your station better than being his body guard?”

“Indeed. But I don’t mind it, he’s an interesting fellow and I’ve grown fond of talking with him.”

“Oooooooo.”

Alphinaud got a smirk on his face, one that made Estinien understand that he was up to no good.”

“I don’t know what you are thinking but stop it.”

“I haven’t the faintest idea what you are talking about.”

“Liar.”

They shared a look, one that they shared often. They both knew neither of them was going to get information out of other.

“You have some sass for an eight-year-old.”

“I learned from the best.”

The smile on Alphinaud’s face made him look like the devil incarnate.

“Where did I go wrong with raising you?”

Estinien let out a fake exasperated sigh, putting his hand to his forehead.

“I seem alright to me.”

Estinien chuckled, messing up Alphinaud’s hair.

“Yeah, you are alright in my book Alphie.”

Chapter Text

Aymeric’s venture down to the base of the congregation was an eventful one. Those knights that he passed in the hallways bowed to him, he noted that many of them were of those who didn’t exactly believe in him prior to the events on the battlefield. He just shook it off, not really caring to think about it too much. His side, while healed enough to allow him to continue work, still pained him. One wrong step and he was groaning in pain, something that Lucia bothered to mention almost every time. Over the last couple of days, he had gotten to know the strange girl who had become someone of a second to him. He was thankful for her presence, even if she was from Garlemald originally. She had divulged that information only recently, and very unwillingly at that.

However, Aymeric needed to know more about her if he was to trust, and she seemed to understand that deep down. He knew that not everyone from Garlemald was bad, Cid for instance was an upstanding guy and someone he had come to respect. It put him a touch on edge, still on the lookout for any signs of betrayal, and not one came. For now, he decided to put his full faith in her, a decision that he did not take lightly, and even Estinien scolded him for.

The Dragoon was a different matter entirely. They had become close since Estinien decided it to babysit Aymeric. Why he decided to do it, he hadn’t a clue, but he could not say he minded too terribly. He’d grown fond of the Dragoon over the past couple of weeks, despite the man never taking off his helm in his presence, something that bothered Aymeric greatly. Why? Again, he really didn’t have a clue, a rather reoccurring theme. It looked to him that he was beginning to understand less the longer he was Lord Commander.

Once the lift arrived at the bottom he walked out, that very same Dragoon that had been on his mind as of recent waiting for him in the lobby.

“Good to see you around Lord Commander.”

“Thank you Estinien, I am thankful to return to my post. Albeit a light one at that. Lucia is barely letting me do anything despite the fact that the chirurgeon’s have given me the full okay to return to active duty.”

“I do believe their concept of ‘active duty’ is you sitting behind a desk filling out paperwork. I believe it a smart choice that she has you on a tight leash, lest you decide to do something remarkably stupid again.”

“I’m a man of action Dragoon. I go where I am needed and nothing will stop me.”

“Not even a dragon’s claw to your side, that I have seen for myself.”

“I am unsure whether to take that as a compliment or an insult.”

“Decide for yourself Lord Commander.”

Aymeric watched as the Dragoon waved him off casually, heading out the door to continue on with his duties. It was odd for him to have seen the Dragoon at this time, usually the other was out on rounds at this time.

“Lord Commander if we do not get going our meeting time will have arrived with us not present.”

“Yes, yes Lucia, shall we?”

 The women nodded waiting for Aymeric to venture out the door so she could follow. They were en-route to a meeting with House Fortemps, Lord Edmont had something he wished to speak to him about. They spoke to the guard outside of their house, the latter allowing them in. They were met at the foyer by a servant who led them to the drawing room, Lord Edmont and his sons waiting for him.

“Lord Edmont, what a pleasure it is to see you again.”

“And I you. I hope your wounds are healing well.”

“They are fine. What brings you to call this meeting with me?”

Edmont motioned for him to sit, an offer which he gladly took, taking pressure off his side.

“My son, Haurchefant has brought word from the fronts.”

On cue Haurchefant walked through the door, a smile gracing his lips at seeing Aymeric. Aymeric stood to greet him, arms extended in a warm gesture.

“Haurchefant, my dear friend. How are you?”

“Much better now that I can confirm with my own two eyes that you are alive and well.”

“As if a dragon could lay me low. You yourself should know this.”

“That I do dear friend, alas I could not help but doubt.”

“Fear not, I am alive and well.”

Edmont cleared his throat, bringing their joyful reunion to a close.

“If you would leave the pleasantries for later so we can discuss matters which require our utmost attention.”

“Of course Lord Edmont, forgive me.”

Aymeric bowed his head, retaking his seat.

“Haurchefant my son, if you would.”

“Yes father. Aymeric, I’ve come to ask something of you. Supplies are running low. With the attack, just recently we are tending to our wounded and those that got caught in the fray. We ask only for a small portion of what you can grant us. Just enough to get us back on our feet and ready for the next fight.”

“Need you any guards?”

“I haven’t come to ask you of that, however; I would not be unwelcoming to a few extra helping hands, just until we are suitably prepared.”

“You needn’t ask anymore. I shall send troops and supplies your way. You are our front, our most important defense against anything that should come our way. I understand the dragons laid you low as quickly as we were. We fortunately have the aid of an entire city behind us, you have not but barren landscape that you can scarcely rely on.”

“Thank you Aymeric, your kindness shall never be forgotten.”

“I am indebted to House Fortemps, a debt I doubt I will ever truly repay.”

Aymeric’s eyes landed on Edmont, a soft smile gracing both of their lips. Ever since he was but a small child Lord Edmont had done whatever he could to help the boy. He could even think of the elder as his own father, were the world any different, he sometimes wished he was. His eyes returned to Haurchefant, a question in his eyes.

“Pray, how long are you in Ishgard for?”

“Only a few more nights. I haven’t seen my father or brothers in such a time.”

“Would you spare me a night? I haven’t had the chance to sit down with you for quite some time as well. I would like to invite you to dinner, if you would accept.”

 “I would be honored.”

“Perfect.”

Aymeric stood up, bowing to Lord Edmont and his family.

“Thank you for your time. I must return to my duties.”

“Go forth Aymeric. I’m sure you are eager to return to a desk rather than your chambers.”

“That would be so.”

Aymeric bowed and saw himself out, Lucia on his heels.

“You seem close with them.”

“Lord Edmont helped me a lot while I was a child. Naturally I befriended his sons. Haurchefant is one of my closest companions.”

Aymeric’s companion for the rest of the day was a quill and several hundred pieces of parchment. Perhaps it was not quite what he was looking forward too, but it was better than bed rest, that he could assure you. When eve hit, Lucia saw to it that he was out of his office and in his chambers before he could even think about staying overnight. He grumbled almost the entire way there, complaining about how he was being treated as a child. Lucia chose to remain silent, not giving in to his childish antics.

He was not about to stay for longer than a night’s sleep in his chambers however; after a while had passed he decided to sneak out, a guard no longer posted at his door. It was rather easy, he chose to cloth himself in black, leaving his usual blue and gold behind, he would be spotted far too easily if he wore it. The chilly night air of Ishgard hit him, a feeling he had not come to know in quite some time. Winter was coming, the nights were getting even colder than they normally were. It mattered not to him though, he was out, walking on his own without a Dragoon or Lucia to bother him.

He watched as houses were preparing for the night themselves. Smoke coming from most houses, families preparing for dinner. The Brume was rowdy, most of the people coming out at night since the nobles were in their own homes. It was lively, in a way that Aymeric had not known himself. Once or twice when he was younger would he try to sneak out and get a taste of the Brume’s nightlife. The Forgotten Knight’s underbelly thriving with people, he never got far though. Always getting caught by someone. Now it would be unwise to simply waltz in, he feared knife to the gut, or worse. He was Lord Commander now. He passed by a much quieter section of Ishgard. The homes there belonging to neither the wealthy or the poor.  It was amazing to him how Ishgard could hold so many different things all in one city. Things he would never get to experience, things he might even not know about.


 

“Esti, are you going to start on dinner?”

“Yes Alphi, this report needs finishing first. Why are you not cooking? I have given you the go ahead.”

“I know, but your cooking always tastes so much better.”

Estinien just shook his head, writing the final few things before setting his quill down. Getting up he opened the window by the kitchen, letting the cool night air in while he cooked. Getting out a few things he started cutting when he noticed a figure walking by out of the corner of his eye, looking up he noticed a tall well-built Elezen strolling right by his house. He headed towards the window, narrowing his eyes as he recognized him.

“Alphi, do you mind chopping up what I have set out, I need to go fetch someone who should not be outside.”

“Oh who?”

“Just start cutting please.”

Alphinaud obeyed as Estinien donned his boots, heading outside.

“I do believe it is past your bedtime Lord Commander.”

Aymeric turned around, not recognizing the person before him. He was beautiful, long white hair with piercing steel blue eyes. He hadn’t seen him around before.

“Excuse me?”

Who could be talking to him in that tone? Not many people did. Looking him up and down his eyes widened.

“Wait, Estinien? What are you doing here?”

“At your service. It is I who should be asking you that. You are still wounded, and yet you are walking around alone and unarmed. Is that such a wise decision.”

“I have been cooped up in my chambers for weeks, let me have this one moment of free will.”

“It is far too dangerous for you right now. Come, you may rest at my home.”

Aymeric stalled for a moment, still getting used to the Estinien who was in front of him now. In all the weeks they had been seeing each other he had not once seen Estinien without his helm, it was shocking to suddenly see him like this. His house clothing was nothing spectacular, nothing that proved him the Azure Dragoon.

“Come.”

Aymeric startled when Estinien took his arm, leading him into the house that he had just passed by. To think he lived here instead of the knight’s quarters, or even a better suited house for someone of his status.

“I think it unwise for me to enter your home. Someone could see us.”

“We are not doing anything of suspicion.”

“I suppose you are right.”

Aymeric gave in, letting Estinien lead him into his home. The house was small and quaint, everything that Estinien was not. He glanced around, it was so…. Domestic. He noticed Estinien looking at him, unsure of the look upon his face. He walked forward, ready to say something when he noticed a small white-haired boy chopping something up in the kitchen, his eyes widened. Estinien had a son? How come he had never heard of such a thing before.

“Estinien, is that your son?”

Aymeric spoke quietly, not wanting to startle the boy.

“Quite the opposite, that’s my younger brother, Alphinaud.”

Hearing mention of his name Alphinaud turned around, eyes filling with wonder at the stranger in his house.

“Esti, who is this?”

Aymeric had to cover his mouth to muffle his laugh. Esti was not a nickname he would have ever associated with Estinien. He heard the older male growl at his laughter, Aymeric ignoring him completely.

“Hello there Alphinaud. I’m Aymeric, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”

He watched as the boy put the knife down, running over to him.

“Aymeric? As in the Lord Commander Aymeric?”

“At your service.”

He let loose a laugh as the boy jumped around, finding his antics rather adorable.

“Oh, I’ve always wanted to meet you. I kept asking Estinien to let me but he always said that he would not be able to arrange a meeting with you.”

“Your brother was not wrong in saying so. I am quite a hard person to book.”

“And an ever-harder person to manage.”

Aymeric glanced up at Estinien, noticing the way he looked at him as if he was a small child caught doing something he was not supposed too. Though that wasn’t necessarily wrong.

“I seem to have come at a bad time. I should get out of your way so you two can continue going about dinner.”

“No, stay, you can eat dinner with us. Can’t he Esti?”

Estinien looked at Alphinaud then to Aymeric, shrugging.

“I see no reason why he should not stay. All things considering you should not have even been out right now. Think of your wounds Aymeric.”

“My wounds are not a problem.”

“It would seem otherwise to me. I noticed you grimace a couple of times when I was bringing you here, walking agitates it.”

“Must you be so perceptive?”

“Must you be so annoying? Now sit.”

Aymeric just nodded, sitting at the table as he watched the two brothers go about preparing their meal. That was another surprise, Estinien could cook. All in the matter of five minutes Aymeric learned just how beautiful Estinien was, that he had a younger brother, and that he could cook meals for himself. He should not be so surprised on the latter, Estinien seemed like he’d rather be alone, so that usually came with knowing how to cook for oneself. Aymeric himself could cook, not that he did it often, meals were prepared for him now and he had no kitchen in his chambers. Even still, knowing that Estinien was not as much of a loner as he thought he was, was rather endearing.

He enjoyed watching them cook. Estinien was kind to his brother, reminding him on how to do certain things. He was extremely gentle, extremely kind. He saw a bit of this while he was bedridden, though it still had a hard edge to it.

“Estinien, I never did thank you for arranging to get my coat repaired and a new shirt ordered. The thought had not crossed my own, were it not for you I would not have had the proper attire for today.”

“I do believe someone else would have done it had I not. It was no inconvenience; I was heading that way anyways.”

Something told Aymeric that Estinien was lying but he didn’t bring it up. He sat there in silence mostly, just observing until dinner was finished. A few questions were asked of him, but he could tell Estinien was making sure that his brother didn’t hurt himself, he didn’t know how old the younger boy was, but he seemed young. Younger than he should have been acting that’s for sure. When dinner was set on the table Aymeric couldn’t help but smile at the brothers.

“This looks delicious.”

“I’m sure nothing compared to the meals you receive.”

“I highly doubt that; my meals are hardly ever this colorful.”

The three of them dug in, Aymeric confirming that yes, indeed this was a delicious dinner.

“Alphinaud, how old are you?”

“I’m eight!”

“Oh wow, you are extremely mature for your age.”

“I would not be so quick to think that. He is only acting this way because you are here, he must impress you.”

Aymeric laughed, looking to Alphinaud who was glaring at his brother.

“Now, now. You needn’t try and impress me. I’m not that special.”

Alphinaud’s cheeks puffed up as he looked at Aymeric.

“That’s wrong! You are the Lord Commander of the Temple Knights. You are incredibly important; you have some domain over my brother I think. You are the person who I’m pretty sure makes it positive that Estinien get’s home safely. I don’t want to lose my brother.”

“Ahh, I see now. I cannot ensure every day that your brother comes home, but I am sure I will be able to arrange something. I cannot let such a cute boy be without his elder brother now can I? Though you only care about me because of your brother, I’m kind of hurt.”

Aymeric fake pouted, looking at the boy.

“Wait I didn’t say that.”

He watched from the corner of his eye as Estinien had to muffle his laughter with his hand. Clearly he didn’t care that he was teasing Alphinaud.

“Well, you are going to have to speak more clearly. Sometimes I just cannot work around muddled words, I need direct.”

“I think you are important and really cool. Though I’m a bit sour that you are not wearing your normal outfit, I would have loved to see that.”

“Ouch, if it’s not one thing it’s another.”

Aymeric looked to Estinien, his hands clasped together.

“Estinien, my Dragoon. Is there any way that I would be able to satisfy your brother?”

“I fear not Lord Commander. He is a beast, one who is not easily sated.”

The two of them could not contain their laughter as Alphinaud blubbered at the table. Aymeric was glad that he wasn’t overstepping his bounds, however it seemed that the brothers were alike, and Estinien didn’t mind him teasing his brother so. When dinner was finished the two white haired males stood up, gathering the plates.

“Aymeric, go sit on the sofa until we are done with the dishes. I will not have you walking the night alone, no matter how you protest.”

Aymeric didn’t bother at this point, he secretly wished he could stay a little longer, enjoying the Dragoon’s company away from their usual barracks. He could assume that he would not be here for much longer however, night had long since fallen and it was bed time for the three of them. As per usual though Estinien surprised him when he brought a steaming mug to him and sat down himself, having put his brother to bed not but moments prior.

“I would have thought you sending me home soon.”

“I was. However, I decided that what’s a couple of more minutes. We rarely get a chance to talk outside of work or your bedchambers, it’s a new addition to our routine now.”

Aymeric nodded, taking a sip of the warm chocolate inside his cup. He relished the feeling of it. Chocolate, now that was the way to Aymeric’s heart. If you brought Aymeric a few of those tarts from the Crozier, he was positive he would do just about anything for them.

“I love your brother.”

“You cannot have him, he’s mine.”

Aymeric chuckled, taking another sip from the mug.

“I never said anything like that Estinien. Thank you, for allowing me into your home, though I should be in my own chambers.”

“I knew it was a lost cause to send you back. Best you are somewhere safe, somewhere someone can keep a look on you.”

“If I knew that becoming a Lord Commander would put a leash on me, I might not have so readily accepted.”

“You are increasingly not being obedient.”

“Hey, I enjoy having my freedom to roam.”

“Ahhh, that I have come to understand as of late.”

The two of them talked a little longer until they heard a door open, small footstep following. Alphinaud climbed onto Estinien’s lap, almost glaring at Aymeric

“What’s the matter Alphie?”

“I can’t sleep.”

“Another night terror?”

“No, I just don’t seem to be tired.”

“Very well, you can stay up a little longer if you wish. I want you in bed before I walk Aymeric back to the Congregation though.”

“Yes sir.”

Alphinaud got off Estinien and headed to a shorter shelf where he pulled off a rather large book, taking it to the kitchen table before opening it. Aymeric did not bother commenting on that. If Alphinaud was really Estinien’s flesh and blood, that boy was going to be a force to reckoned with in the future.

“Does he have night terrors often?”

“No, not usually, fortunately not tonight or I may not have been able to take you home.”

“At least you are here for him.”

Aymeric’s eyes trailed off, looking at the young boy at the table. Alphinaud really was lucky to have Estinien as his brother. He remembered in his younger days he rarely had a soul. The Fortemps helped him when they could. The nights he spent at their manor, with Haurchefant were some of the fondest of his childhood. Some of the only times that he felt like he had a family, like he was actually wanted in this world and not a product of a thoughtless night.

“Protect him with everything you have.”

Estinien watched the sudden expression change in Aymeric, not mentioning anything about his statement. He couldn’t quite tell what exactly the other was remembering, but he knew it wasn’t something he enjoyed. His eyes softened, smile dropped. Only slightly, and only noticeable to those with keen eyes. Something inside him clicked, he wanted to reach out to Aymeric, to comfort him. He held back though, not positive what he was feeling himself.

“Aymeric, are you alright?”

The other turned to him, shaking his head.

“Yeah.”

Estinien could tell that he wasn’t, he wanted to know why, he wanted to reach out to him and figure out what exactly was going on in his mind, but he didn’t. He wouldn’t let something grow between them, it would be stupid if he did.

Alphinaud glanced over at the two on the couch, noticing how Estinien seemed to put his full attention on Aymeric. He had to make sure that he was not ignored, it was not that he didn’t like Aymeric, quite the opposite actually. He just wanted to make sure that Aymeric also paid attention to him. He wanted to befriend the Lord Commander, if that was something someone as young as himself could do. He noticed that he seemed to make Estinien happy, and anything that made Estinien happy made himself happy. He drummed his fingers on the table as he watched them, trying to think of a way to get on Aymeric’s good side. He smirked when he got an idea, getting up and climbing into Aymerics lap.

Aymeric was startled when he suddenly had a small boy finding a home on his lap, not that he minded. He made sure to keep Alphinaud away from his side, not wanting the boy to accidentally hit him.

“Hey, Hey Aymeric, do you want to know a secret about Estinien?”

Aymeric looked between the small boy and his brother, a mortified look on the elders.

“Oh, I would love to hear anything you can give me on your brother.”

Alphinaud leaned in, whispering into Aymeric’s ear. Aymeric’s eyes widened before he busted out laughing, clutching his stomach. Estinien pulled Alphinaud back onto his lap.

“Why you little, what did you tell him?”

“Nothing.”

Estinien’s eyes grew dangerous, a mischievous smile gracing his face. His fingers moved across Alphinaud’s stomach, the boy screeching. Estinien pulled Alphinaud tight to his chest as he tickled him, the younger thrashing about. Aymeric couldn’t help but smile, Estinien was an excellent older brother. A sudden pain graced his side mere moments after the tickle torture ensued, when a small foot leashed out and hit his side, Aymeric doubling over almost instantly.

“Aymeric!”

Estinien stopped, placing Alphinaud on the floor before kneeling in front of Aymeric. Aymeric tried to catch his breath, Estinien’s hand on his knee a great comfort he didn’t know he wanted nor needed. After a few minutes the pain subsided as he sat back up, hearing Alphinaud sniffle from where he was sitting on the floor.

“Aymeric, are you okay?”

“I think so. I’ll probably need to change my bandages when I get back, I’m sure it aggravated the wound.”

“I should have thought ahead, I am sorry.”

“Do not worry about it. I hadn’t even thought about it until Alphinaud kicked me.”

The sniffling got louder, Aymeric’s attention back on the small boy.

“Alphinaud, what’s the matter?”

“I almost killed you, didn’t I?”

“What no.”

Aymeric tried to reach out for the boy only to find his side getting in his way, Estinien understood and picked him up, placing him on Aymeric’s knee. Aymeric wrapped his arm around Alphinaud’s back, smiling down at him.

“Please, do no worry your little self on this. I should have been the one to mention something about it. I was having too much fun and just forgot about my wound. I do not think an eight-year-old could fell me if a dragon could not.”

Aymeric reached up to wipe the tears from Alphinaud’s face, Estinien’s heart tugging. He hadn’t ever seen anyone treat Alphinaud as kindly as Aymeric was. Most just assumed he was some unruly brat because he grew up without parents. The more he found out about Aymeric, the more he got know him, the more dangerous this became. Estinien pulled Alphinaud off Aymeric, taking him to the bed room.

“Sleep Alphie. I have to take Aymeric home then I will be right back, I promise.”

“He’s going to be okay, right?”

“Yeah, I’ve seen him last through much worse, he’s going to be fine.”

“Okay.”

Alphinaud nodded and rolled over, clutching the stuffed moogle he had gotten when he was younger tight to his chest. Estinien closed the door quietly, moving over to Aymeric.

“I think it’s time we got you home. I’ll help change your bandages when we arrive at your chambers.”

“You needn’t do such a thing.”

“You can’t do it by yourself and I really don’t think we should call on a chirurgeon and say that you were shirking sleep and got kicked in the side by the younger brother of the Dragoon’s whose house you decided to spend a few hours in.”

“Ahh no, I suppose you are right.”

Estinien helped Aymeric up, letting Aymeric decide if he wanted to walk on his own or not. The two of them made their way back slowly, walking in silence with just the company of each other’s presence. Having arrived back at his chambers Aymeric sat down on the bed to take off his shirt as Estinien went to go get bandages. He almost shied away from it at first, there was something different about Estinien seeing him shirtless. There was the Dragoon, the one who wore the armor, then there was Estinien, the long-haired beauty he had come to know tonight. It still baffled him, how someone so gentle looking, so gentle with his brother, could be so brash and so fierce on the battlefield. He was silent as Estinien helped him change the bandages, trying not to move much himself. Despite Alphinaud only being eight he has some power in that foot.

They finished and Aymeric saw Estinien out, he leaned on the threshold of his door, arms crossed.

“Again Estinien, thank you for allowing me into your house tonight. It was fun. Pray, ensure your brother I am fine and if it will make him feel better I can visit him when we are doing rounds one day.”

“It’s not problem Aymeric, just, next time you decide to wander alone at night, at least tell me.”

“That wouldn’t be alone, would it?”

“No, but you’d be safe.”

They quieted down, their eyes locked on one another. Something had happened between them through the past couple of weeks, something that he wasn’t sure if he should follow through with or not, something that he wasn’t even sure if Estinien was feeling. He reached out to grab his arm, stopping halfway before bringing his arm back down. This was dangerous, too dangerous for the both of them.

“Good night Estinien.”

“Goodnight Aymeric.”

“Have a safe trip home.”

Estinien nodded before heading down the hallway, Aymeric closing the door and heading to his own bed. He just couldn’t do it, wouldn’t allow it. He sighed as he got into bed, throwing away the key to his heart.

Chapter Text

“Aymeric.”

“I will not go to bed. I am old enough to do what I wish. You cannot tell me what to do, only advise me. While you are advising me to go to sleep I still will not. If I am to be confined to one room, I’d rather it be here. At the very least I can get some work done.”

“You are a stubborn fool you know that?”

“You and Estinien remind me of that nearly every day.”

“And yet you never seem to understand why we do this. Aymeric, we care about you and would much rather see you healthy than in a bed again.”

“Yet you are ushering me to bed right now.”

“Because eve fell long ago and you are still working.”

“Thank you for your wisdom Lucia, now please leave.”

Lucia just groaned, slamming the door to his office shut as she left. Sighing, he put his head in his hands, messaging his temples. Yes, he should go and get proper rest, yes he knows staying up for extended periods of time is detrimental for his health. Yet, he honestly could not care. He was tired of being in his chambers, if he had his way about it he would not step foot back in there for weeks. The chirurgeons still hadn’t given him leave to continue his normal duties in full. Estinien being the ever-watchful Dragoon that he hadn’t asked for. Sure, he liked it at times, sure he enjoyed Estinien’s company, but he really, really hated being treated like a child.

He was a grown man for fucks sake, someone who could take care of himself without the watchful eyes of others. He had thrown himself into his work lately to get the others off his back, to give himself some space. The others just didn’t seem to understand that, or didn’t want too. Either way, it was greatly upsetting him. Aymeric worked well into the night before he retired to his chambers, getting ready for another day where he couldn’t be his own person.

The next morning however he got the greatest news that he had ever heard, he was cleared for active duty again. He had to watch for his side still, but it was healing well, and with the lack of dragon activity they didn’t see why he couldn’t continue with his work like normal. Aymeric nearly danced out of the infirmary after hearing the news, running into the all too familiar Dragoon.

“And what has our lord commander in such high spirits.”

“I can finally be my own man once again. They have given me full leave to continue on with all of my duties.”

“As if you weren’t doing so before.”

“Yes well, now a certain Dragoon and second in command cannot yell at me for it.”

Estinien just looked at him, poking Aymeric in the side. The other grunting. Aymeric glared at him, brushing his hand away.

“I never said I was fully healed.”

“Well, looks like you cannot rid yourself of me quite yet.”

Aymeric closed in, staring at him.

“I can handle myself.”

“Swing your sword.”

“Say what?”

“Swing your sword. Prove to me that you are capable of holding your own and I will leave you be on whatever venture you see yourself too in the city.”

Aymeric scowled, Estinien knowing full and well that he was still unable to do so without hurting himself.

“The only reason you were given full leave was due to the dragon’s backing off. You are not fully healed and you won’t be for days to come. You cannot tell me not to protect you Lord Commander, it is my own personal mission to see that you live past this wound.”

“You won’t give me a moment’s leave?”

“I give you many moments, when you are safe in your office or your chambers.”

Aymeric rolled his eyes, brushing past the Dragoon only to run into a knight.

“Ser Aymeric, there is a commotion in the pillars, a riot has broken out.”

“Very well, gather our first guard, I will be there soon.”

Aymeric glanced back to Estinien who nodded, the other heading out the door. Aymeric ran back to the infirmary informing them of the impending wounded who would need attending two, both highborn and lowborn alike. Aymeric made his way towards the pillars, finding exactly where he needed to be by the commotion in the streets. He pushed his way past the bystanders, finding Estinien already calming the conflict down. One thing he appreciated the other for was his overwhelming presence, terrifying if you didn’t know him.

“What is the meaning of this?”

As his voice rang out across the group they stopped, turning to him. A man spoke to him, his voice nasally and full of hate.

“We are only taking what you guy’s will not give us Ser.”

Aymeric walked up to him, motioning for the soldiers to hold.

“What pray tell does that mean?”

“I’m sayin’ that we are taking what we want. All you high born alike believe that we should not be livin’ like normal people. I say that’s wrong, me and everyone else here.”

“So, you grow to violence instead of a peaceful conversation with someone who could do something about it?”

“An who might we talk to?”

“Oh, by the fury.”

Aymeric walked closer, Estinien close on his heels.

“Me perchance? Seven hell’s I am trying my hardest to get you all a life that you deserve, you may not all see it, and I have not the proof to show you. But I am trying. I am one man against many, the Archbishop and the nobles will not listen to what I must say. It’s one day at a time, step by step.”

“Well, you damn well aren’t doing it fast enough.”

“I have been Lord Commander for two months. I have been bedridden for practically a month during with wounds. I wish I could show you, to show everyone in the Brume who is suffering that I am trying. If I could open Saint Reymanaud to you all I would, but I cannot. My suffering means nothing to you all, that I can understand. But please, just wait, a little longer. If you have issues bring them to someone who can help instead of fighting. Mindless death will not help your cause any, that I can promise.”

The guy grumbled, turning back to the mob. May people nodded in agreement, others commented on how even wounded Aymeric helped the knights, many other of his accomplishments were brought up. Perhaps his past would help him here, either way he hoped they would listen. Finally, the guy turned around, walking back to Aymeric.

“I suppose that we can listen to ya. Ya seem to be the only trustworthy folk ‘round this place so why not. We’ll give ya the time. All that we ask is some supplies. Winter is coming after all. Blankets, firewood, clothes for tha young. That too much for ya Lord Commander?”

Aymeric sighed, the tension from his shoulders releasing.

“I can arrange that. Now please, before I need to call my knights to arrest you all, leave. I will do what I can to help you all, again, give me time.”

Those from the Brume just shrugged before heading their own way. Aymeric turning to the nobles in the street.

“I care not what you think. Those in the Brume deserve to live just as we do. I will not stand for any of you to think otherwise. As acting Lord Commander, this is my duty, I will see all people of Ishgard brought to peace.”

Aymeric passed by the stunned crowed, he had not spoken to them like that since he started acting. Perhaps it was something he should start to do more often, it seemed sterner words and harsher consequences were something he should start to express. He had a mission now, a mission to finally start work on the Brume. He had talked about it, now it was time work on it.

“Lord Commander there is a fire in your eyes.”

“Estinien you saw what happened out there. My time to act is now.”

“Hmmm, so be it. I shall away, leave you to your work, it seems you are only piling on more.”

“Comes with the territory I suppose.”

They parted ways, Estinien to his Dragoon duties and Aymeric back to his office. Once inside he immediately started writing, Lucia coming in soon after.

“I can assume things turned out well?”

“As well as they could. I need you to send supplies to the Brume. Things for fire, blankets, clothes for the young. Check on them every week or so. Make sure their supplies are replenished when need be. I will not have them freezing to death this winter.”

“As you wish Lord Commander.”

Lucia bowed before heading out to do what was asked of her, Aymeric pouring over his parchment. He worked into the night, Lucia only coming in to deliver him his dinner. She just shook her head as she made her way to the Forgotten Knight to meet Estinien, the two of them meeting for a drink before heading home.

“It was as you assume Dragoon. He is hard at work.”

Estinien took a drink, tapping his knee.

“We must keep watch on him, without him noticing. He got irritated this morning because we were on him constantly. If we can, get him to sleep, bring him meals. We both know that he shirks meals and sleep in favor of work, this is especially a concerning time. This is something he truly cares for. I fear that he will only think of such for the time being.”

Lucia sat, glancing at Estinien’s feet propped up carelessly on the table.

“For now, let us not worry too much. Let us give our bullheaded companion the benefit of the doubt.”

“Oh, I have no doubt he will do everything we ask him not to.”

“Ahh, ever the faithful one you are.”

Estinien chuckled, pulling his feet down from the table.

“I have faith in our commander, that you should not doubt. I just have no faith in him taking care of himself properly. I saw him nearly give his life for those he cared for. Something I wish to never, ever see again if I can so help it.”

Estinien bid Lucia goodbye, needing to get back to his brother.

As they suspected Aymeric shirked the most important things in his life, taking care of himself properly. They both tried not to bother him too much about it, already knowing about how he felt if they were too over bearing. Still, they kept watch, knowing full well what he was doing.

Aymeric, despite being mostly absorbed in his work, knew that he was worrying his companions. Sly as ever he had stashed work in his own chambers, things to do while he was ‘sleeping’. He did take naps, knowing that he did need sleep. However, they were short and spaced rather sparsely. He wanted to get this done before something else happened, no not wanted, he needed to get this done. The people in the Brume were on his mind since before he had ever become Lord Commander. Perhaps he was to caring, perhaps it was something that didn’t befit a Lord Commander. Still, those in the Brume were people, born in unfortunate circumstances, but still people.

There were several other riots that broke out around town, never by the same people, a smart choice on their part. They did no damage, only riled people up. Between trying to get this issue settled and having to physically deal with the riots, he was wearing thin. He couldn’t remember how long he had slept in they passed few days but he knew it was short. He pulled himself from his work, deciding that a nap would help him regain some semblance of strength.

On his way to his chamber he met with Estinien, the other inviting himself in.

“Do what do I owe this pleasure Estinien?”

“I thought to give you some company before you retire for the night. You have been cooped up in your office for days, I can image you might want some company.”

“Is it I that enjoy your company, or you who enjoys mine?”

“Why not both?”

Aymeric rested his hand on his chin, pretending to think about.

“I do suppose you could be correct, honestly though, who would really know?”

Estinien sat down, taking off his helm.

“I would gather you would know the answer to that.”

Aymeric just shrugged, shedding his coat and sitting down on his bed. His gaze landed on Estinien, still unused to him without his helm. Ever since that night in Estinien’s home they had not the time to talk amongst themselves. He wanted to do nothing more than to run his hands through his hair, it drew him in, so terribly. He leaned back on the bed, arms behind his head as he looked up to the canopy. He was attracted to Estinien, in more ways than one. He had figured that out the night that Estinien brought him home.

He was attracted to him both physically and mentally. He found himself at ease around him, found himself being able to just be himself. He loved it. Yet he couldn’t allow it, he would not allow it. It was too dangerous to fall in love when your life was constantly on the line, while he had already fallen hard, he did not want to drag Estinien into this. He did not want to hurt Estinien the way he was going to hurt if anything happened to the other.

He curled up, looking at the other who once again was using his desk as a foot rest.

“Need I remind you that my desk is not where your feet belong?”

“Oh you could remind me, I would just elect to ignore you.”

Aymeric stuck his tongue out, his exhaustion lowering his barrier. Estinien chuckled, finding Aymeric quite adorable at the moment.

“I fear that if I stay here longer I will keep you from your sleep.”

“Mmm that would be so.”

Aymeric’s eyes were already closed, exhaustion taking over. Estinien stood, walking over to the bed. It took every ounce of his will power to not touch him, to just leave him be.

“Change your clothes then sleep Lord Commander.”

“As you will it Dragoon.”

Estinien started to walk out, turning to look at Aymeric, a whisper on his lips.

“Sleep well Blue bird.”


 

Aymeric woke but a few hours later, having not changed his clothes nor changed his position. He got up, stretching his weary body. The nap helped a bit, but he knew he would be able to sleep fully soon. Just a day more and the first part of his job would be complete. He moved over to his desk where some of the paperwork still was, his quill and ink waiting for him to continue on. He moved to his office come the morn, Lucia bringing his breakfast, noting the dark circles under his eyes.

“You’ve been sleeping?”

“My mind is burdened with plenty of thoughts, sleep comes to me, if not very deeply.”

Aymeric lied through his teeth, not wanting to get chewed out by Lucia, or worse, her telling Estinien. He would not put it past the dragoon to march in here in broad daylight and carry him to his chambers. It was just the man the other was. Morning passed into afternoon quickly, Aymeric nearly finished with his duties, just a few more hours. Getting up he went out to find Lucia, he needed her to call a meeting at the Hoplon tomorrow for every citizen of Ishgard.

He found her at the table on the bottom floor, talking with another knight.

“Lucia, I have a favor to ask of you. I need you to call a meeting for tomorrow at the Hoplon, every high and low borne are to attend.”

“Are you nearly done then?”

“Merely with the preliminaries. I still have a lot in store for me after this, pray it goes well.”

Aymeric grabbed a quick bite to eat at the kitchens before reporting back to his office, finding Estinien there waiting for him.

“You look like shit.”

“Afternoon Estinien.”

“How long did you sleep last night?”

“I woke when the sun woke.”

“Lies.”

Aymeric turned around to see Estinien’s glare pointed directly at him.

“You dare insinuate that I lie?”

“I need not insinuate it when your face looks like that of a dead person. You have blackness under your eyes, a clear sign of sleep deprivation.”

“I thought you passed being my nanny.”

“I was never your nanny Aymeric. Only a caring companion whose help you threw in the abyss.”

“Your help was unwanted, I am fine.”

“By the Fury Aymeric, need I escort you to your chambers on my shoulder?”

“You needn’t do anything of the sort!”

Aymeric stood up, his agitation growing.

“I do not need your advice on this, I do not need Lucia’s advice on this. It is my own business how I conduct my personal affairs.”

“Personal affairs? So sleeping and eating is just a thing you think you can choose to do? Are you such a god Lord Commander that you need not feast or rest with us lowly humans?”

Estinien’s voice grew, his own irritation at the others behest only growing.

“I saw you die once Aymeric. I saw you die on that battlefield that day. When you went down, it terrified me. I thought nothing of you then, I cared not if I was your friend or foe, only that I did not have to associate with you. That day changed how I saw you, you became someone who I knew I could trust, who I knew would help me when the time come. Has our friendship meant nothing to you? Have my words of advice, my worry of your health just become an annoyance to your ears? Should I not have bothered?”

“Enough! You are spouting nonsense”

The two of them were in a full blown yelling match at this point, their voices carrying through the hallways to the chambers below.

“Nonsense, so this is nonsense to you. Hah, and I spared my breath on you, I spared my worry, I let you into my home. I did everything I should not have. If you think my words of worry a nuisance, if Lucia’s words of worry were a nuisance, do say so. I haven’t the time to spare on a Lord Commander who does not even take care of himself, who thinks himself dirt compared to the lives of those in the city.”

“Why should my life matter when I am trying to save hundreds of others. What is one measly life compared to hundreds?”

“It matters to everyone you are trying to protect! You are the only one who would do such a thing, you are the only one in this godforsaken city that would ever attempt to repair the Brume, to bring those people off of the floor, can you not see that yourself?”

“I see a changed Ishgard, I see a people who would help those in need and not forsake them.”

“That change will not come about if you are not there to see it through. Postpone your gathering tomorrow, get some damned sleep before I have to bury you in the ground.”

“Enough Dragoon. If you are only here to spout this at me then leave. I need not someone who will not see the future with me. Who will not understand what I am try to do, the change I am trying to bring about.”

Estinien snarled, turning tight on his heel, a few last words leaving his mouth.

“I wish you could see yourself right now. I wish you could see the absolute monster you have become. I know not where Aymeric went, but I want him back.”

As the door slammed shut, Aymeric sat down heavily, his head finding his way in his hands. Just a few more hours and this would all be over.

Chapter Text

Morning greeted Aymeric before he noticed it, him only putting the final touches on his speech moments prior. He tried hard not to think about the fight he had last night. Tried not to hear Estinien call him a monster every time he shut his eyes, but he couldn’t, it rung with him. He knew last night was uncalled for, he knew it was because of his lack of sleep, the very reason the argument started. Talking to the Dragoon now would not help his case. He needed sleep and needed food before he was ready to face his mistake.

Lucia came in to gather the Commander, his speech starting soon. She made no comment on his appearance, only fixing his unruly hair before they proceeded out the door. They met Estinien down at the Hoplon, the tension between the two nearly visible. Neither spoke to one another, Estinien chancing a look at the commander’s face, which only fueled his anger more. 

Aymeric swore he heard the metal groan as Estinien made a fist, he wanted so badly to apologize. Yet he knew his apology would mean nothing until the morrow, until he had slept. He wanted to tell Estinien how wrong he was, how deeply he cared for Estinien’s friendship, how he wanted more. Yet no words would come to him, he could not even offer a passing morning greeting to him.

Aymeric watched as the masses came, pleased with the turnout. At the appointed hour, he stepped up, looking out to the people.

“People of Ishgard, I thank you for meeting me here on this day. Today I come to you to announce a change to Ishgard. Starting tonight things will turn for the better for all the people standing witness to this. These past couple of days I have spent many hours drafting up a plan for a reformation, a reformation that I pray brings peace to our people.

Many of you were there for the riot that happened not but a week ago, the first one, the one that started everything. That day I spoke with a man of the Brume, someone who wished for nothing more than what they deserved, what everyone in our great city deserves. They listened to reason, to me, someone of noble title. That day I grew hope, I grew hope for our city.”

Aymeric looked to the crowd, many coming to the realization of what was to come. He wavered, his sight blurring for a split second.

“Starting today, right after this concludes we are to start work on the restoration of the Brume. To those that are able to work we will give jobs, to the elderly we will give supplies, to the young who have lost their kin, we will give shelter. I pray that you all embrace this change, embrace our city as it should be. We all need to be together if we are to fight the foes that knock on our doorstep. Not just the dragons, but any warring faction that comes. I want everyone to be as happy as they can, while happiness still lives in our city.

“I want those who are able to enlist for the knights, I am not forcing it, merely hoping that once this restoration is completed, we can come together. That those born of noble blood and those born without will fight under the same banner, willingly. I know, many people in the brume fight because it gives them money, it allows them to put food on the table. They do not fight because they wish to see tomorrow, that they wish to help the helpless, it is merely for their betterment. They only do it so they have a stable enough income to hope to see their kin through the next day.

“And yet, there are still those who do not fight, who could but don’t because of the bad blood between us.”

Aymeric looked out to the crowd, specifically looking at those whose clothes were different, whose faces were caked in dirt, who held children thin and barely breathing.

“I hope, that with this, you all can call each other family. That when hardships hit us, they we can come together, protect together, love together. It might be a romantic notion, it might never come to be, but it doesn’t make me wish for it any less. I love this city, I love the people in it, and I want what’s best for everyone. I know that I am not a normal Lord Commander, I know that I am not as strict, or as hard bearing as the other great Lord’s who have come and gone. But I hope, I hope with the deepest recesses of my heart that you all can come to accept me, to accept what I have in store for Ishgard. I promise, no one shall be without as long as I am in command, no one shall go hungry, no one shall go sick.

Until we are able to staff doctors in the brume, until it is cleaned up and ready for a new beginning, any of those who are not able to afford the care that they need, may go see the chirurgeon’s at the Congregation. You needn’t be wary of those residing inside, they are here to protect you, to treat you, and to watch your backs. If any of you find that you are being mistreated, come to be, come to Lucia, come to Estinien. I will ensure that the problem is solved swiftly and that you are treated better the next time. However; I hope that shall never come to pass.”

Aymeric turned to look at the knights and the chirurgeon’s surrounding him.

“All of you, you give your lives for the city, you give your lives and your days to see that Ishgard is safe. I’m sure some of you look down on the people in the Brume, I am sure many of you sneer at them, but no more, not while I am commander. You are to treat them with respect if they seek help, if one wishes to speak to me or any of those that I trust, they are to do so without reprimand. You are to treat them as you would the Nobles, as you would and human on this planet. Should I find any of you treating them poorly, there will be consequences.”

He looked at each and every one of them, all of them giving slight nods. He nodded himself and turned back around.

“And to the nobles, to those that think them better than anyone else in the world. Look at yourself, as yourself what you would want if you were in their shoes. If you have and shred of human decency, you will realize that you would want the same things as they are wanting. I am not doing this for myself, I have no reason to do this, I am not like them, I have a roof over my head, clothes to wear, and food to eat. I have no reason to do this other than the fact that I am a decent human being. I have been in their shoes, I know what it’s like to not eat, to be wary that the cold will take you before the sun rises. It is nothing I would wish on even my greatest enemies. If you all need someone to look too, look at Lord Edmont, he is a fine upstanding noble who treats everyone with respect and kindness.

I shan’t keep this dragging on for much longer. The short of it is, everyone deserves to live their lives without worry for tomorrow. I am seeing to that, and if you have a problem about it do not go to violence, do not go to those you deem unworthy and yell at them, hit them. Do nothing of the sort. I hope that you now all understand what I am trying to do here, what I am trying to make Ishgard. This is my home, I love it with every fiber of my being, and until the day that my body is laid in the ground, I shall see to its happiness and its future.”

Aymeric smile down at the people, hoping that his words get across to them, hoping that they could believe the same things as him. He stepped back, his steps faltering. His legs gave out before he saw the blackness, his body giving in to the exhaustion.

Estinien and Lucia were on him within seconds, the crowd growing ever louder at their Lord Commanders collapse. Estinien slipped his arms under Aymeric’s legs and shoulders, picking him up. 

“Calm them down. Tell them exactly what happened here, what he sacrificed to make peace within Ishgard.”

Estinien rushed Aymeric to his chambers, calling on a knight to fetch a chirurgeon.

“Damned fool, if only you would have listened to us.”

Outside Lucia stood to calm the crowd.

“Everyone, I am Lucia goe Junis, I have become much like a second to the commander in the past month. I have witnessed his passion for this project, witnessed his unyielding passion to see Ishgard reunited again. He cares for all people here, he cares for them deeply enough that he shirked sleep to ensure that this plan be created without a moment left. You need not worry for him, our Lord Commander only fell due to his lack of sleep, this being the only thing on his mind.

I hope that this proves something to you all, proves something to you who live in the Brume. Those words he said to you, those words he snapped at the nobles afterwards. He was not joking, he was entirely serious. In the two months that he has been appointed I have seen him accomplish more for the sake of Ishgard that any other Lord Commander before him. I am not a native of Ishgard, but I know your history, I know your problems. Why must we be divided? Why can we not come together under the same banner, we are plagued by dragons, the threat looming over us every day. I implore you nobles to try and see through Ser Aymeric’s eyes. The children of the Brume have done nothing wrong? Why should they be treated such. The men and women who are able to work but we do not give them jobs, a way to feed themselves and their families, they have done nothing wrong. Everyone in the Brume was born under unfortunate circumstances. So please, for your Lord Commanders sake, the very same person who would die for all of you and be happy about it, try to see things the way he does.”

Lucia stepped down, ending the speech and heading back into the Congregation.

As Estinien expected, the Commanders collapse was due to not sleeping. Nothing else seemed the matter with him so the chirurgeon left to go to his regular duties, leaving a fuming Dragoon behind. Aymeric slept for the entire day, no doubt needing it. The Knights stayed far away from him that day, they could feel his rage. It was apparent now to everyone that Aymeric and Estinien had a friendly relationship, with Lucia’s earlier announcement and their own witnessing his fall it was very apparent what had agitated him.

Alphinaud was waiting for him when he got home, bombarding him with question about Aymeric’s health. He hadn’t seen his brother but he was out in that crowd.

“I wish to not speak about him until I am able to fully tear out his throat when he wakes.”

Dinner and the rest of the night was a quiet affair, Estinien’s rage still seeping from him. He didn’t calm down until later when Alphinaud climbed into his bed, clearly trying to help soothe his older brothers worry.

Estinien rose the next morning with a clear plan of action, he dressed and ate, Alphinaud keeping an ever-watchful eye on him the entire time. His path led him directly to Aymeric’s chambers, meeting those ice blue eyes the minute he walked in. He didn’t wait for him to say anything.

“You are a fool Aymeric. Time after time you brush of mine and Lucia’s concerns, you do it because you think you are doing the right thing but you are not. Your health is just as important as anyone else’s around here. If you are not here to see your plan through, then what is the point of all this? What is the point of your suffering, mine and Lucia’s? What would have happened if we had a battle yesterday? You were not fit to fight, you were barely fit to stand. The moment someone saw your weakness you would have been dead.

I told you that I do not want to have to bury you, I do not want to have to see you die before my eyes again and I damn well meant it. By the Fury Aymeric, do you really think that me and Lucia bother you with these things because we are trying to take you away from your work? That we don’t agree with where you stand on topics so we are only trying to prolong you? Gods no. I think about Alphinaud half the time, I think about what if he was in the situation that the Brume is in. I would want him to live a happy life, a life where he knew he could be warm and safe, fed and healthy. Lucia, she has shown more passion for you than anyone else in this kingdom asides from me. We care about you Aymeric, or is that too hard for you to understand?”

Estinien stepped in closer, not allowing Aymeric to get a word in edgewise.

“You lied to me and Lucia constantly. You lied to us so you would be able to get on with your work. Do you know how much that pains us? To think that you do not trust us enough. Aymeric, not only were you hurting yourself but you were hurting the two people who would put their lives on the line to protect you at a moment’s notice. I just wish I could get that through your stupidly thick skull. Is it not apparent that we care? Have we done something to offend you? Aymeric, why will you not trust us?”

He stopped, taking his helm off to look directly into Amyeric’s eyes, the other clearly thinking about how to reply. Aymeric sat up, pulling his legs in and patting the bed so Estinien could sit down. The other just sighed as he obeyed, feeling a bit more comfort knowing that Aymeric still had some shred of decency left.

“I would first like to start out by apologizing. I know I messed up, truly I do. After that fight we had, I wanted to come to apologize to you, your last words rang throughout my head and even my dreams as I slept. I had become a monster, I had become so consumed in my own need to help the city that I had plain forgotten to take care of my own. Estinien, I want you to understand that I do not brush you aside because I do not care about you, not because I do not trust you. I trust very few in this city and you two are in that group. I want you to understand that.”

Aymeric, despite knowing he shouldn’t grabbed for Estinien’s hand, putting it in his own.

“Ever since I could remember I have been like this. Things that I cared about would consume me and I would shirk everything in order to see it through to the end. I understand that in doing so I am just harming my own health, my body. That day on the battlefield I did much the same thing. You, who had no care about my personal safety tried to urge me to go seek help, I threatened you. I regret that moment to this very day. Not only did I nearly die, I also tore a rift between our blossoming friendship. Because of that moment you yourself cannot trust me to the fullest. Do not say you do.”


Aymeric looked to Estinien for confirmation, the other just looking to the side. Aymeric wasn’t entirely incorrect. Estinien trusted him, he really did, he just did trust him to look after himself properly.

“Every time I got mad at you or Lucia because you were shadowing me was not because of the fact that I did not want you to be around. I wanted to prove to you two that I am capable of taking care of myself, you’ve seen my work with a sword, you know full well that in times of trouble I can fend for myself, yet you have yet to see an ounce of proof that I can take care of myself as a person, a human. That I can understand. I guess despite all my best efforts and my words I had yet to convey that, I am not nearly as good as talking as you might think. I bottle things up, I let things get so tightly packed, my emotions become so balled that I eventually just explode. Not the best attitude for a Lord Commander, I can admit that.”

Aymeric had his childhood to blame largely for that. He had no one to turn to in his times of need. His father was never one to listen to his feelings. They would meet in secret, the other seeming to care about his son, but Aymeric had to wonder. He could never burden the Fortemps, Edmont helped him on so many occasions that he felt it wrong if he relied on them for situations like this. He had learned at a very young age to just bottle things up, to not let others see his problems.

“I have a very deeply engrained issue with telling others of my problems. I think I throw myself so hard into my work so those in the city do not have to go through what I did as a child. I would not wish that on anyone. I still have a large way to go in order to be the person that I want to be, but I cannot do that alone. I need you, I need Lucia, I need the Fortemps. I need everyone at my back, to snap me out of my stupidity, to yell at me as you have just done. Estinien, I want to thank you. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for trying so hard. I know I have not shown any appreciation towards you, I have not once thanked you for constantly trying to help me, for always being there when I needed you, whether I personally wanted you there or not. If you had not been by my beside while I was wounded I might have gone mad. Just… thank you Estinien, for being my friend, my comrade.”

Estinien felt the light squeeze on his hand, his eyes returning to Aymerics. If it weren’t for the look in his eyes, he might have had a hard time believing it. Yet he knew Aymeric was deeply sorry for everything that he had done. He regretted it. At least his yelling seemed to work today.

“I do not need thanks Aymeric, I just need to see you taking care of yourself. If you have to stay up all night to get something done then tell us, but you must sleep the minute you are done. I will not keep you from your duties, but you must not keep yourself from your health.”

The two looked at each other for a time before a loud noise from inside his chambers woke them from their stupor, Estinien up with his lance in hand in a mere moment.

“Show yourself.”

The last person that Estinien expected to see was his brother standing there, hands clasped tightly around his waist, his eyes to the ground.

“Alphinaud? What in the seven hells do you think you are doing here?”

It was clear that Estinien was upset with his brother, he had the nerve to follow him here, and quite well in fact, he hadn’t noticed him.

“Estinien calm yourself. Alphinaud come here.”

The younger boy walked meekly to Aymeric, taking a large circle around Estinien to avoid him. Aymeric couldn’t help but chuckle at that.

“Estinien put down your lance and sit.”

Estinien followed his orders, not really knowing what else to do. He watched as Aymeric picked up Alphinaud, placing him on the bed.

“Do what do I owe the pleasure Alphinaud. I can’t expect you just snuck in here for no reason.”

Alphinaud looked up at him, his small hands finding Aymerics.

“I was worried about you. I was there yesterday when you collapsed and then Esti came home in a rage. He wouldn’t tell me anything so I had to see for myself. I am sorry if I have done something I should not have.”

“Well you are here unannounced and without permission, but I do suspect I’ll forgive you. How did you manage to sneak past the guards?”

“Well Estinien wasn’t exactly friendly looking on his way here so they all kind of backed away and looked in other directions so it wasn’t really that hard.”

Aymeric looked to Estinien for confirmation, the other looking in a different direction.

“Well, I can say that I am glad to have your company. After all your brother can be extremely scary when he wants to be. Now I have a companion to help me if he frightens me too much.”

“I don’t think anything could friend you.”

“I can think of several things my friend.”

The two of them continued talking to each other, Estinien looking on. Aymeric really cared about Alphinaud, that became more apparent the more that they interacted. His eyes softened, thinking about how nice it would be if they could become a family. He had to stop at that though, it tugged at his heart too much for his liking. His attraction to Aymeric wasn’t superficial anymore. He would honestly give anything to protect Aymeric. His image of Aymeric was changing day by day, his scruffy agitated Blue Bird was turning into someone that he wanted to protect, to keep within his sight so nothing would happen to him. Blue Birds had wings, they would fly, perhaps to distances that he could not see and that frightened him.

He couldn’t think about that, not right now, not ever. Aymeric was too good for him, to pure. Estinien’s entire life was to fight the dragons, and should Nidhogg ever appear, defeat him. His life meant nothing more than the slaying of dragons. He couldn’t let Aymeric know, he would not allow him to hurt any more than he would if he lost him now. He glanced out at the window, looking to where the sun rose in the sky.

“Aymeric, it’s time for you to get to work.”

“Oh, you’re letting me work, what a surprise.”

“Don’t sass me. You still look like shit and you will sleep tonight when the eve hits, but I will try to trust you. Come Alphinaud, I’ll take you home.”

Alphinaud got off Aymeric, jumping to the floor.

“Have a good day at work Aymeric.”

“I will. You stay out of trouble while your brother isn’t home.”

“I will!”

Aymeric saw the two off. Staring fondly as the two brothers walked down the hallway. He knew there were going to be rumors flying the moment Estinien walked off that lift with his brother in tow, but he didn’t mind it. Hopefully Estinien wouldn’t either. He was going to do whatever was in his power to protect them, and he did not care a bit what others thought about it.

Chapter Text

Estinien got the news of his trip the day before he was to leave, his worry going directly to Alphinaud. He did want to have to leave his brother at home, not knowing how long he was going to be gone, and he couldn’t bring him with him. His worry led him to Aymeric.

“Aymeric, I need help.”

Aymeric looked up from his papers, a puzzled look on his face.

“I’ve been requested at Camp Cloudtop to help with the dragon activity and I am unsure how long I’ll be absent. I cannot leave Alphinaud at home for that long, I don’t know what to do.”

Aymeric set down his quill, thinking about it for a moment.

“You could ask Edmont to take him in, I trust him as much as you. He would take care of the young one.”

Aymeric could see the hesitation on Estinien’s face. He pushed back his chair, getting up to walk over to the Dragoon

“I’ll arrange a dinner tonight with them at their manor if I can manage it. You can meet Edmont and his sons, then make your decision. Trust me though, Edmont would not hurt that boy in the least.”

Estinien really had no other choice, agreeing to Aymeric’s proposition. Aymeric on the other hand excused himself, explaining to Lucia where he was going before he headed for the Fortemps manor. He was greeted by a knight who led him in, Edmont in his study.

“Do what do I owe the pleasure of an unannounced visit from my Lord Commander?”

Aymeric bowed, smiling at the other.

“Do forgive me if I am imposing. I would like to ask a favor of you. A dear companion of mine has need to away to Camp Cloudtop for a few days. He has a younger brother at home who he wishes to see safe while he is not present. I would first like to ask, would you mind helping this boy?”

Edmont crossed his arms, looking to Aymeric.

“I do not think I would be able to say no to you, after all if they are your dear companion than who am I to decline. You seem to have another favor?”

 

“Yes. He is rather hesitant to leave his brother alone with someone he has yet to meet. I suggested that perhaps we all gather here for dinner tonight, it would give a chance for him to meet you all and decide.”

“An honest proposal. Again, I shall not decline. I will inform my servants of the matter. When eve hits, come, we shall be waiting for you.”

“Thank you Edmont, I owe you yet again.”

Aymeric bowed before seeing himself out, going to find Estinien to tell him of the news. They agreed to meet at the Hoplon. By the time eve hit Aymeric realized he was late for their appointed time. He cursed himself before running to his room, changing into something more comfortable for dinner. He shed his coat, leaving on his blue shirt and grabbing a black fuzzy coat to wear over it. His usual leg armor and boots were replaced with white thigh high ones. He kept his sword at his hip, rushing out to meet the others.

He met with them, red faced and panting from the cold.

“Forgive my lateness, I got caught up with my work.”

Estinien looked Aymeric up and down, appreciating the change in his attire, it suited him well. He had elected to wear a tight-fitting maroon shirt, a long coat decorated with silver metal and black knee high boots. His hair was braided, a few loose strands of hair framing his face. When he chanced a glance back at Aymeric, he found that Alphinaud had positioned himself on the other’s shoulder, Aymeric laughing about something.

“Alphinaud, aren’t you a little too old to be riding on one’s shoulders, and your Lord Commanders at that?”

“He said I could.”

“There is no harm in it Estinien. There are already rumors that Alphinaud is either your child or mine, after the incident a few weeks back.”

“Do not remind me. I have many people come up to me asking me if I had a son, or if it wasn’t mine then who was the women who you sired your illegitimate child with.”

With that they headed to the Fortemps manor, being shown to the dining room right away.

“Forgive my lateness Lord Edmont, I got caught up with some paperwork and did not notice the time.”

“Worry not Aymeric, I had assumed as much.”

Aymeric watched as Edmont’s eyes went up to the child on his shoulder, positive that this was a sight that he had never expected to see.

“I would like to introduce to you Estinien Wrymblood, our honored Azure Dragoon, and his younger brother, Alphinaud.”

Aymeric bent down so Alphinaud could get down and properly greet Edmont, Estinien following his brother.

“When you had mentioned your dear companion, I had not expected to have the Azure Dragoon in my manor. Quite an honor it is. I must say, having the two most influential people in my own home, asides from the Archbishop that is, is rather gratifying.

Estinien shook his head, bowing as he spoke.

“The honor is mine. I should be thanking you for taking the time to soothe my worries. I trust Aymeric with my entire being, but my brother is a differently matter entirely. I worry for him and I do not know how I would have fared if I had no place to keep him while I was away.”

Edmont chuckled, walking to his seat.

“You sure pick your friends well Aymeric. Now come, have a seat, dinner will be starting. Estinien, Alphinaud I would like you to meet my sons Artoirel and Emmanellain. Haurchefant is not currently with us, I have a feeling he would like you young Alphinaud.”

Estinien went to sit on Amyeric’s right, Alphinaud gently tugging on his sleeve.

“I want to sit in the middle of you two.”

Estinien nodded, moving one chair over so Alphinaud could sit in between them. Aymeric and Alphinaud hadn’t had much time together, but they seemed to have grown pretty close. Alphinaud always seemed to worry for the Lord Commander, asked about him when Estinien came home every day. It was a peaceful thought. Then again, who wouldn’t like Aymeric after having gotten to see them the way they have.

He was kind, gentle, always a smile on that face and always making sure that he was never in the way. Aymeric would bend down to talk to Alphinaud, he would do anything in his power to make sure that the boy was comfortable when he was around him. It was something most adults didn’t do, something they didn’t think about or bother with. Continually things about Aymeric made him question how he was as a child, what happened to spawn this action or that thought.

Despite knowing a lot about Aymeric, he still knew very little about his past, about who he was as a child and growing up in the knights. Aymeric never seemed to want to talk about it, always changing topics or ignoring questions entirely. It almost made Estinien believe that he had a horrible childhood, yet he couldn’t be sure on that.

Dinner was exciting. Alphinaud complimenting just about everything, the food, the manor, he really seemed star struck. Estinien started to feel more at ease with the idea of leaving Alphinaud with them, Edmont treated him well, bothered with all of his questions and never demeaned him. He could see that he was strict with his sons, they both needed an upbringing of a certain design, and yes, he would still be strict with Alphinaud but Estinien didn’t fear.

After dinner concluded they were all shown to the drawing room, to continue their chats at their leisure.

“How do you feel now?”

“You were right Aymeric, Lord Edmont is an incredible person. I shall leave Alphinaud in his care while I am away. My only fear is him getting lonely. His son’s have their own duties to attend too and he hasn’t a younger son to keep him company.”

“If you would like, I will stop by after work when I am able to check up on Alphinaud and keep him company until his bed time.”

Estinien smiled, Aymeric really was far too kind to him. Far too concerned about his and his brothers well being, it grew increasingly harder to hide his feelings for him.

“I would love that, as well as Alphinaud I am sure.”

The two of them looked over to Alphinaud who was falling asleep in his chair, Edmont chuckling as the boy tried to keep up a conversation with him.

“You remember when you said I could not steal Alphinaud for myself. I may have too.”

“Don’t you dare.”

Estinien nudged Aymeric playfully before walking over to where his brother was.

“Lord Edmont, I thank you for tonight. If you would be so kind as to allow Alphinaud into your home while I am not here.”

“Of course, Alphinaud is a fine boy. It would honor me to have him here.”

Estinien bowed, going over to pick up his brother, knowing full well he would not be able to wake up to walk home.

“I should get this one home for the night. I will bring him in the morning before I am to depart.”

“Yes, very well. I will make sure to have chambers ready for him when you arrive.”

“Thank you.”

Estinien pulled Alphinaud close, walking over to Aymeric.

“I’ll walk you back to the Congregation, after I get this one in bed.”

“Yes very well. If I could have a moment with Lord Edmont alone.”

“Of course, I’ll be waiting in the foyer.”

Aymeric watched Edmont leave, a fond look in his eyes.

“Thank you Lord Edmont, for doing this.”

“It’s quite alright, Alphinaud reminds me of you when you were younger. Wide-eyed and curious about everything. There are apparent differences but I know that he means no harm.”

Aymeric smiled, looking at the fireplace.

“My time here was well spent when I was younger. I think I might be paying you for that debt for the rest of my life.”

“You owe me nothing dear boy.”

“I owe you everything. You took me in when no one else would, when my father all but abandoned me, when the other noble houses thought I was just scum on the street. You gave me hope for the future, however little that might have been. It is due to you, and your sons that I have turned out the way that I am today.”

“It seems you are still changing, something I can attribute to our young Azure Dragoon I can assume.”

Aymeric looked to Edmont, a puzzled look on his face.

“I know not what you speak.”

Edmont just shook his head, showing Aymeric to the door.

“Go, your companions await. I will see you tomorrow.”


Aymeric nodded, walking out and meeting the other two before heading to their separate homes.

The next morning Estinien dropped Alphinaud off, going to see Aymeric in his office before he departed.

“I hope Alphinaud will be alright.”

“Estinien, he’s going to be fine, you saw how much Lord Edmont loved him. He will do no harm to him, I promise.”

“I just worry.”

“Well you don’t have too. And think of it this way, you’re hitting two birds with one stone. You are keeping Alphinaud safe and me from overworking myself while you are away. I’ll go see him every night after work, which means that I cannot stay here.”

“You have a point. Anyways, I must be going.”

“Stay safe out there.”

“If a Dragon defeated the Azure Dragoon what sort of man would that make me?”

Aymeric looked at Estinien, not a hint of joking on his face.

“Estinien, do not joke about this.”

“Worry not Lord Commander, you will have your Azure Dragoon back when my duties are concluded.”

Estinien waved and set off, leaving Aymeric worried for the other’s well-being. As promised Aymeric finished work when the sun was setting and headed over to the Fortemps manor. He was greeted with the boy practically jumping into his arms, clearly excited that the other was going to be with him while Estinien was not.

Aymeric smiled, walking with him to the drawing room where some sort of game was set up for them to play.

“How was your day?”

“So much fun. Lord Edmont has so many books that I can read. I’m going to prove to Estinien that I can start studying on being an Arcanist despite him wanting me to wait a few more years.”

Aymeric looked down as they arrived, not having known that the other boy was wanting such a thing.

“I think you would make a fine Arcanist, let me guess, he thinks you too young to start.”

“Yeah! I got a grimoire for the head Arcanist in Limsa Lominsa and he yelled at me for having it and studying.”

“He worries for your safety.”

“Well I worry for his.”

Aymeric could see why Estinien would not want the boy to start studying, yet he was so smart. He was positive his skills were being wasted, by not starting right now. He doubted he could change Estinien’s mind on the matter, so he just left it up to the younger one to convince him.

“What have you set out for us to play?”

Alphinaud bounced over to the board, showing Aymeric what it was and how to play. It was a simple game, you had to get your knight to the other side of the board and claim their lands. There were pieces that you picked up depending on what spot you landed on, you needed to build roads and homesteads to further your progress. It was a strategy game, one that Aymeric quite enjoyed. He lost the first time, only having just started to play, the second game was harder for the both of them. They ended up in a tie, the both building so the other could not get through.

Aymeric leaned back, clasping his hands together.

“You are a formidable foe my friend. You have your wits about you. If it continues -this way I will be overshadowed by a mere eight-year-old. How will that look as Lord Commander.”

Alphinaud laughed, leaning in towards the other.

“It just means you are going to have to get stronger my Lord.”

“So it would seem.”

There was a knock at the door, a servant informing them that dinner was ready. The two of them got up and headed out, meeting Edmont along the way.

“Young master Alphinaud, how was your first day here?”

“I quite enjoyed it. Thank you for lending me your library, I do believe I could stay here forever reading.”

Edmont laughed, patting the boy on the back.

“You are always welcome to it. Those books have not seen use in quite some years. I am sure they are happy to have a fresh pair of hands open them.”

Dinner passed rather quickly, Alphinaud taking up conversation with Artoirel of all people. Aymeric watched as Alphinaud was nearly able to keep up with the entire conversation. Only having to ask a few questions because he had not understood. Artoriel seemed pleased to have someone else to talk to as well, despite that person being much, much younger than he. After dinner Aymeric walked with Alphinaud to his chambers, the younger boy seeming to lose energy the closer he got.

“I know it has only been a day but I miss my brother.”

Aymeric frowned, opening the door for him.

“Go get change little one, I’ll wait here for you.”

Alphinaud did as he was told, Aymeric taking seat on his bed. When Alphinaud was finished he climbed under the covers, a small stuffed Moogle finding its way into his lap.

“I am deeply sorry about you missing Estinien. Would that I could, I would bring him back, just for you.”

Alphinaud looked up to Aymeric, forcing a smile onto his face.

“Thank you Aymeric. At the very least I have you here. Do not get me wrong, I am pleased to be able to stay at the Fortemps, it just gets lonely. The brothers are away on business nearly the entire day and it would be rude of me to intrude on Edmont, not that I would have much to say to him anyways.”

Aymeric rested a hand on the boy’s knee, scooting in just a bit closer.

“If I could bring you to the congregation and amuse you during the day I would. Pray forgive the fact that I cannot. At the very least your brother can rest easy at night knowing that you are safe here in Ishgard. We would want not for him to worry.”

“How come you are so kind to me?”

Aymeric was taken back by the question, though he could gather why it was asked.

“Is there any reason I should not be kind to you?”

“No I suppose not. But you are Lord Commander. I would think that you would have no time for someone like me. I mean, I’m just eight. I have yet to find my place in this world, what good am I to you?”

Aymeric’s heart dropped, hearing Alphinaud say such things really proved how utterly horrible people could be to others in Ishgard.

“Alphinaud, my status does not mean that I need to treat others poorly. You are the brother to my Azure Dragoon, to Estinien. If anything that would warrant that I treat you with the utmost respect. I am kind to you because you have done nothing for me to treat you any differently. You are a smart boy, and you will grow up to do wonderful things for those in Ishgard and all of Eorzea. Do not worry about such heavy musings right now. Just live life to its fullest, you will find your place in due time. Now sleep, I suspect your brother should be home in a few days.”

Alphinaud nodded and laid down, Aymeric getting off the bed and pulling the covers over him. He smiled down at the boy, moving his hair from his face.

“I’ll see you come tomorrow. Sleep well Alphinaud.”

“Goodnight Aymeric, have a good day at work tomorrow.”

Aymeric nodded, making his way back to the drawing room to meet up with Edmont.

“You care deeply about that boy.”

Aymeric nodded, sitting down by the fire place.

“I do. He kind of just walked his way into my heart.”

“It seems his older brother has as well.”

Aymeric looked over to Edmont, his eyes softening.

“Aye, it would seem so. To think he hated me at the beginning, and now look where we are.”

“Is he aware?”

“No. I won’t tell him either. If something where to happen to me, it would pain him greatly.”

“You act like he wouldn’t now.”

“I know it will. As long as he doesn’t love me back however, his pain would be manageable.”

Edmont sighed, looking at the fire roaring in the fire place. He could tell within a moments glance that Estinien had similar feelings towards Aymeric. Two young men stubborn and in love, what a combination.

“If you do not seize this opportunity before it is gone, you will regret it Aymeric. I do not want to see you hurting more than you have in your life time.”

“I, I don’t have the strength to do it. Within the first week of our meeting I was almost killed. Yes, purely due to my own negligence but the matter still stands. You know how I am Edmont, I don’t want to hurt him.”

“I really don’t think you would be hurting him. If anything you would more than likely be making him happy.”

Aymeric just shook his head, standing to leave.

“I will stand by my reasoning. I think it best this way.”

“Pray you you don’t regret it.”

Aymeric stopped at the threshold, Edmont’s words hitting a little too close to home for him. He knew he was going to regret it, but he wasn’t sure which was worse, the regret he was going to feel, or the pain that Estinien would.

“I will see you tomorrow.”

The next day once again Aymeric stopped by after work, only to be greeted by a sight he had not expected. He was led to one of the back rooms where Alphinaud and Haurchefant were sparing.

He leaned against the doorframe, watching as Alphinaud was managing to keep up with Haurchefant’s training. An unexpected development and one he knew Estinien would not enjoy, but it didn’t hurt to go ahead and start preparing him, especially if he wanted to be an active member of Ishgard some day.

“I called him over last night after you had left. I figured it would not hurt to have him here to entertain the boy a few days while you and Estinien were away. The two connected almost instantly when my boy showed up and it somehow turned into this. I have to say, I am impressed with the boy’s skills.”

Aymeric had not noticed Edmont arrive, to enthralled by the two in front of him.

“As am I, though I’ve only been standing here for just a few moments. I really will have to convince Estinien to let him start training, he would be protected and no real harm would come to him. It would be wasteful to not allow it.”

“I have to agree with you there. Alphinaud is a bright boy, he mentioned to me earlier that he had managed to summon a carbuncle with the grimoire he was given, though Estinien seemed to have taken that away from him.”

“He is far too over protective; he is just wasting Alphinaud’s talents. I’ll have word with him, perhaps even show him what he can do.”

Edmont stepped into the room, clearing his throat.

“Boy’s, we have a guest, I suggest you two go and wash up.”

The two stopped, Alphinaud running over to Aymeric.

“I know Estinien is going to be mad at me for this but, will you allow this while you are at work and he is gone? It really is a lot of fun, plus it gives me something to do.”

Aymeric bent down, looking Alphinaud over.

“Haurchefant is a terribly hard teacher. He might just break that spirit of yours.”

Haurchefant glared at Aymeric, the latter knowing full well that his statement was not true.

“It does not matter to me. Come on Aymeric, please?”

Alphinaud put on the best pouty face he could muster, leaving the two looking at him laughing.

“Alright, I will allow it. We must have a talk with your brother when he gets home, get you started, even though it still might be a bit early.”

Alphinaud smiled and hugged Aymeric. A surprise for him, but he accepted it nonetheless.

“Now go wash up, you are an absolute mess right now.”

Alphinaud nodded and ran out of the room, Aymeric standing to greet Haurchefant.

“My friend, how have you been?”

“Things are looking much better. I assume you know that the troops you sent out with me last time have returned. We are looking much better out there at Camp, provided we do not get any unexpected visitors anytime soon.”

“Yes, they arrived a few days ago. I meant to send word to you but I seemed to have forgotten.”

“It’s no matter, I would have found out one way or the other. Now I think I too shall go wash up, I’ll meet you in the drawing room?”

“Yes, I’ll see you there.”

They played a few games while waiting for dinner, Artoirel and Emmanellain joining them. Aymeric could not help but feel like they were a family, an odd one, but one nonetheless. After dinner was served and Alphinaud put to bed, Aymeric found himself in Haurchefants chambers, a drink in hand.

“I have to say, when father called me to come entertain a young boy I had not expected you to be close to him. I seem to miss a lot these days.”

“Forgive me, if I could I would visit you more, but I do not currently have that leisure.”

“Worry not old friend, I am just thankful that I can find the time to come back here every once in a while. My men are more than capable of taking care of themselves.”

“Something I wish I had the pleasure to say.”

“Say Aymeric, I hope I am not imposing when I ask this but, by chance are you in love with that boy’s brother?”

Aymeric sputtered, nearly spitting his drink out.

“Aye, I thought so.”

Aymeric tried to act like nothing had happened, all the while knowing he failed at doing so.

“Why do you ask?”

“Alphinaud seems to trust you, he asked for for permission while he was away. Not to mention when you look at him there’s something else in your eyes. You love that boy, but there’s sadness. From what I can assume you are in love with Estinien but do not want to pursue it, for whatever mad reason your mind has come up with.”

“You are far too much like your father. I had just a similar conversation with him last night.”

Aymeric set down his drink, his eyes drifting towards the window.

“I will tell you much the same thing I told him. I will not say anything to him, I cannot. I dare not hurt him, if something were to happen to me, he would not feel that great of a loss. Loser a lover vs losing a friend, they are two different sorts of pain. I would not put him through losing a lover.”

“How are you able to gauge someone else pain Aymeric? How are you able to tell someone something like that? Everyone goes through things differently. For all you know he could gauge his pain similarly depending on who he lost and what exactly they were too him. Not to mention, have you ever thought that he might be in love with you as well? Perhaps losing you before ever truly getting you, might bear a pain greater that knowing. You are foolish if you think this is the best course of action.”

“I am foolish for falling in love.”

“We are all foolish people, very few people are above the yearnings of their heart. Look at your father for example. It was kind of in his job description that he was not supposed to bear children, and yet you are here are you not? No one is perfect, the gods as well. Good things can come out of foolish desire. You are Lord Commander, you rose from where you had been placed, a boy with a fake name, someone who was supposed to hold a title far higher than he was given. You have given hope to this city, you have saved the people of the Brume. Despite your hardships, despite the constant watchful gaze that people look at you with, you are doing everything in your power to change Ishgard for the better.”

Aymeric grabbed for his drink, downing the rest of it in one go.

“I’ve been Lord Commander for seven months and it feels like I’ve done a lot less than you are giving me credit for.”

“What you mean despite you nearly dying within the first week?”

“Yes, asides from the smart ass.”

 “You are the only one who is trying to change the Brume. Not to mention I have heard about what you are trying to do when it comes to the dragons, you do not want more bloodshed. From my understanding you are trying to find a peaceful way to end this god awful bloody war with them as well. Something that you may be the only one to accomplish.”

Aymeric stood, grabbing the jacket he had discarded.

“I sure as hell hope you are right Haurchefant, or you may be going to my funeral soon.”


Estinien has been gone for four days when he showed up suddenly at the Fortemps manor. He requested to not be announced and just shown to where Aymeric and Alphinaud where. He opened the door quietly, seeing the two of them sitting by the fireplace, Aymeric reading something to a sleeping Alphinaud. His heart pulled when he watched Aymeric put the book down, brushing his hand through the young boys hair. If he wasn’t so strong willed he more than likely would have marched over there and taken Aymeric in his arms, expressing just exactly how he felt.

He closed the door quietly and went to sit down by Aymeric, having startled the other. Aymeric looked down to Alphinaud making sure he was still asleep in his lap before he looked up to Estinien, a soft smile on his lips.

“Welcome home Estinien. How fared you?”

“I’m alive.”

Estinien winced, Aymeric’s glare nearly hurting him.

“I’m fine Aymeric. Nothing happened with me and all activity has been dispersed for now. How was your time with my kin?”

“Your brother is incredible. He’s smart, incredibly so. I have a hard time believing he’s eight. Yet he’s still naïve, but just barely. You’ve done an incredible job raising him Estinien. You should be proud.”

Estinien reaches to put his hand on his brothers head, smiling.

“Thank you Aymeric. And thank you for taking such great care of him while I’ve been away.”

“It’s been an honor. Also, I really might steal him away from you.”

Estinien whipped his head around, turning to glare at Aymeric, only to find their noses almost touching. He sucked in a breath, looking into those beautiful blue eyes. Aymeric’s eyes were wide, his breathe hot against Estinien‘s mouth. He could swear he heard Aymeric’s heartbeat quicken, his breathing almost seeming labored. Estinien’s resolve was weakening, their lips just barely touching.

“Hnn Esti?”

The two of them tore themselves apart, their faces beet red, looking in different directions. Estinien cleared his throat before replying to Alphinaud.

“Yeah Alphie, it’s me.”

Alphinaud shot up, nearly hitting Aymeric in the process. The young scrambled over to Estinien, throwing himself in him.

“Welcome home! Why didn’t you wake me?”

Estinien pulled Alphinaud into a hug, savoring the fact that he was back with his brother.

“You just looked so peaceful sleeping there in Aymeric’s lap.”

It was almost like Alphinaud hadn’t realized where he had fallen asleep. He pulled off and bowed to Aymeric, his face red.

“I’m sorry for sleeping on you. I didn’t mean too.”

Aymeric shook his head, stretching his legs out.

“Don’t worry about it Alphinaud. You did seem comfortable and I can’t deny you that comfort.”

They here a knock on the door before Edmont.

“Welcome back Estinien.”

Estinien got up and bowed deeply to Edmont.

“Thank you so much for caring for Alphinaud. I can see he has been well looked after here, and I ask that if anything like this should come up again that you would not mind taking him in again.”

Edmont walked over to Estinien, placing a hand on his shoulder.

“You need not bow so deeply to me. I enjoyed having Alphinaud here, my library had been getting more use these past couple of days than they had seen in quite a few years. He was a joy to have around, and absolutely pleasant to talk with. The both of you are welcome if anything should ever happen.”

“Thank you so very much, again. I will repay you for your kindness someday. I swear on that.”

Edmont just chuckled, patting Estinien on the shoulder.

“You and Aymeric are so alike, you need not repay me. You are doing enough just being the Azure Dragoon.”

Estinien smiled, nodding his head.

“Again, thank you so much. I should get these two home before it gets too late.”

“Very well, you are both welcome whenever you wish, and Alphinaud, you may come over at any time to borrow some books if you wish.”

Alphinaud smiled, nodding to the older man.

“Thank you so much Lord Edmont. I’ve had so much fun these past few days. Thank you for taking care of me and treating me like one of your own.”

Edmont just nodded and watch the three leave the room, a soft smile on his face.

Chapter Text

After Estinien had gotten back it seemed like the knights were plagued with more reports of dragons roaming where they had usually not. He wished this bloody war would end, but he knew is father would think nothing of his suggestion.

The war had started centuries ago, plaguing generation and generation after. It was naught more than for the simple reason of land disputes, the dragons pushed, as did the Ishgardian’s. There at one time seemed to be a talk of peace among them, then Nidhogg came. An unreasonably angry dragon, with a seemingly more unreasonable reason to fight. Truly, they never got an answer, but many stood behind Nidhogg, whether it out of fear, or loyalty for the dragon, Aymeric did not know.

The Azure Dragoon’s place was borne out of necessity, they needed someone strong enough to fight Nidhogg, the creature coming to fight on occasion, but very rarely. It seemed like this was a war he wanted for eternity, they never completely wiped them out, just dwindled their numbers and made many suffering people in the cities.

Aymeric had always wanted to see if he could broker peace, but many of the past Archbishops thought it too dangerous to warrant a mission on it. Even now his father thought it suicide. Perhaps it was, but what was one man’s life for the sake of peace? He’d heard tale of Midgardsormr, Hraesvelgr, and a few other dragons who seemed to heed no mind to their kind, and he wondered… Was peace possible?

It mattered not though, not until Nidhogg fell. He was unsure if that would come in his lifetime, or ever for that matter. Leaning back in his chair he pushed his hair back, looking out the window. Eve had fallen a while ago, him just finishing his work for the day. He wondered if it was too late to visit a certain Dragoon. Shrugging, he decided it was worth a shot.

He bid Lucia goodnight, telling her exactly where he was going before he left for Estinien’s home. After his collapse, he had done well to tell the others where he was going, or if he was going to stay up later than normal to finish work. It worked out well for the three of them, his two companions could rest easy and he could get on with his work without being bothered by the two of them. He knew they did it out of sake for his health and safety, and he knew that being Lord Commander, it was within their right to know where he was going, yet it still mildly annoyed him.

He arrived at Estinien’s house, knocking on the door. He heard shuffling around inside before the door opened, Estinien’s face going from confused to shocked to upset within a few moments. Aymeric couldn’t help but chuckle.

“First off, why are you laughing, and second off, what do you think you are doing here by yourself?”

“Well first off, your face went through so many emotions in one moment that I had to laugh, and second off I told Lucia where I was going and I came here specifically to visit you so, lay off?”

Estinien shook his head, opening the door further to allow Aymeric inside.

“What’s with the random visit?”

“Well, I got done with my work, and I figured because of all the hospitality you and your brother have shown I would come here to cook for you all. That is assuming you have not eaten already? I know I am here a bit late, but I thought I would try anyways.”

The door to Estinien’s bedroom opened as Alphinaud walked out, his hair wet, having just changed from his bath.

“Hey Alphie.”

“Oh hi Aymeric! Estie, is dinner ready yet?”

“I haven’t started on it yet, but we did just get an offer from Aymeric for him to cook for us.”

Alphinaud sat down in a chair at the kitchen table, looking to Aymeric.

“You can cook?”

Aymeric chuckled, taking off his coat, draping it over the back of a chair.

“Contrary to popular belief I grew up primarily by myself, so knowing how to cook was a must. Now I can take that as an invitation to use your kitchen?”

Estinien nodded, sitting down next to Alphinaud.

“The kitchen is yours my lord.”

“Ahhh, thank you Dragoon, how kind.”

The smile they shared was full of adoration for each other, want, need, sorrow. The two of them, stubborn as ever would not let up on their views, what they thought was right. No matter how badly they wanted to break, no matter how badly they wanted to push the other up against a wall and completely mess the other up… They just couldn’t do it.

Aymeric dug around, seeing what they had to cook with, he should have gone earlier to buy some stuff but he was stuck at work and could not leave.

“I will make sure to buy you guys some stuff. I did not have the time earlier to go out shopping for the items for dinner myself, forgive me.”

“Don’t worry about it Aymeric, it’s not like being the Azure Dragoon doesn’t pay me well.”

“Yes, but I feel rude just digging through your things, let me have this one thing please.”

“I let you have a lot of things Aymeric, more things that I should probably allow.”

“Oh, this won’t kill you or I Dragoon, calm your breeches.”

Alphinaud chuckled, looking between the two of them. He had noticed recently that they had started acting different towards each other. He couldn’t place it, but they had gotten extremely comfortable. It seemed even more so after Estinien had gotten back from Cloudtop. He didn’t mind it, not in the least, not like he used too. He noticed that Aymeric made Estinien happy, and that was always something that he had wanted for his older brother.

Ever since they were both young Estinien had done everything in his power for him, he loved his brother, more than anything and he was thankful for him. Yet there were times that he wished his brother would just take some time off for himself. He had not seen Estinien laugh or smile much, at least not before Aymeric came into their lives.

He wanted his brother to find someone that he could love, someone besides himself that is. Estinien deserved everything, he deserved a break, he just deserved to be himself around people. Yeah he was young, yes he did need Estinien so he could get him through life, but that did not mean that Estinien needed to shirk his own life, his own wants and needs.

He watched as Estinien stood to help Aymeric, it was clear that Aymeric had not cooked in a while, Estinien rarely helped people, rarely let people into their home, hell, he rarely let people even meet him. It was clear that Estinien cared for Aymeric, he hoped that it would last. The more than he looked at them, the more than he realized how they acted around each other, Alphinaud began to understand.

He got up, going to fetch a book from the shelf.

“Estinien, I’m going to go read on the bed. Call me when dinner’s ready.”

“Alright Alphie.”

Alphinaud smirked as he opened the door to their bedroom, he may be eight, but he was smarter than most. He knew that Estinien’s feelings for Aymeric breeched friendship, and he was perfectly okay with it if Aymeric became his brother.  

Estinien watched as Aymeric started to cut up the meat, he was going slow, moving deliberately, like he hadn’t done this is a while.

“Aymeric, tell me, how long has it been since you’ve cooked?”

Aymeric stopped, thinking for a moment.

“I would say six months to a year. I don’t have kitchens in my bed chamber at the congregation and before I was formally appointed Lord Commander my meals were still made for me; I had been too busy to even try.”

“Hmmm, that seems to be clear.”

Estinien moved to stand behind Aymeric, his hands going to the top of Aymeric’s, showing him how to cut things without hurting himself. Aymeric was breathless when he spoke.

“I’m not a child.”

Estinien did not bother to respond to him, just continuing to show him how to cut properly. Aymeric was quick to catch on again, loosing a breath when Estinien backed away from him. He missed the warmth, missed the feeling of Estinien so close to him, practically pressed fully on him.

Estinien leaned against the counter, arms crossed as he watched Aymeric cook.

“How did you learn anyways?”

“When I stayed over at Edmont’s place I would sneak into the kitchens and have the servants teach me. Edmont would always catch me but never scolded me. I think he knew that I was going to have to learn one way or another, but it was probably best that way, knowing that I would at least get taught correctly. It wasn’t often, I still cut up my fingers a lot when I was younger, dinner’s sometimes would not turn out edible but I had to eat it anyways. A lot of it was learning on my own, experimenting.”

Estinien glanced down, there it was again, Aymeric’s past. He didn’t know much about it other than he was alone for pretty much all of it, at least that’s what Aymeric says. He never talks about his parents, never even hints that he had any. Of course there was the rumor that Aymeric was the Archbishops bastard, but he couldn’t really assume that, even if he was, it didn’t matter, not to him.

From what he could tell, Aymeric had a rough childhood, rough teen years, hell, he seemed to have a rough life. Clearly if that were the case it did not seem like he was taken care of at all. He scowled, people were naive to think that he got this position because of status. From his understanding, it was clear that Aymeric was nearly a street rat like the rest of the low bloods. Aymeric didn’t have a terrible bone in his body. If he thought about it, it made sense why he had not slept for those nights before the Brume announcement. Aymeric wanted no child to go through what he did, it’s why he made that comment the first night he met Alphinaud. Everything started to click into place, no matter who Aymeric was born too, it was clear he had a shit life when he was younger.

His eyes softened when he looked at Aymeric, he seemed so happy now, so carefree, well at least as carefree as a Lord Commander could be. The more he hung out with Aymeric, the harder it was to hide his feelings, the more he wanted to protect him. The more he wanted to keep that smile on Aymeric’s face. If he could, he would make sure that Aymeric never had another bad day, if he could he would ensure that the dragons never came back, that the riots never broke out again.

He cursed his fate, going to the cabinet to get some stuff out for drinks for the two of them. Why did he have to fall in love with the Lord Commander again? It was ridiculous, he never needed things as trivial as this in his entire life, he was the Azure Dragoon. He needed no extraneous relationships, except with his brother. And yet, this man just snuck his way into his life, well not really snuck now that he thought about it. He more like barged through his window like the blue bird he really was.

He flew in without a care in the world, and was a pain in his ass to get out, yet somewhere alone the line he ended up closing that window, keeping the bird trapped inside his home and his heart. He set a steaming mug of chocolate on the counter next to Aymeric, looking over him. Were things different, were their stations different, he would have already confessed to him, he would have already taken Aymeric for himself. He knew not many people cared about who you bedded, but when you were in a position of power, it looked bad in most cases.

He was sure Aymeric would not care, which is what worried him more. He was far too caution when it came to Aymeric, and that was merely so he could keep him alive. Even if he never got him, even if Aymeric fell in love with someone else, at the very least he would be here to protect him. He could handle whatever lover Aymeric brought home, as long as he was alive, as long as he could see him smile again.

He was interrupted by his musing when he heard Aymeric speak, the mug of chocolate he had made him brought up to his lips, his eyes lingering for a moment too long.

“Is something the matter?”

Yes, I love you and I cannot tell you.

“No, I’m just lost in thought, sorry about that." 

Aymeric eyed Estinien, shaking his head.

“Thank you for the drink. Dinner will be ready in a few minutes, should we get Alphinaud?”

“No, we can wait until it is actually on the table. He’s reading, let the boy be for now.”

The two of them finished dinner quietly, Aymeric and Estinien both lost in their heads. Alphinaud hadn’t read, no his ear was practically glued to the door. He frowned, this was not working out how he thought it might, no, it seemed to be turning out worse than normal. He sighed, going to sit on the bed, his brother was stubborn, and so it seemed was Aymeric.

After a while he was called to dinner, it was tense, a tenseness he could not quite place. The two of them kept looking at each other when the other wasn’t looking, it annoyed the boy. He wanted to say something about it but knew he shouldn’t, didn’t want to say something to them that could set them off. He frowned, honestly unsure of what to do. Adults could be so stupid sometimes.

“How’s work been for you Aymeric?”

Aymeric looked at the boy, shrugging.

“Busy really. The dragons are getting more restless, in turn so does the city. Not to mention I’m still busy with the redevelopment in the Brume. Honestly I’m surprised I managed to find time to get away for the evening. I needed this.”

“I’m glad you did find the time, you need time to decompress like anyone else.”

Aymeric nodded, looking at Estinien then to Alphinaud, an idea popping into his head.

“You’re quite right Estinien, everyone needs to decompress, including your precious little brother.”

Estinien eyed Aymeric, unsure what he was trying to say. Aymeric just sighed and looked at him.

“Estinien, it’s time you let the boy train. While you were away, Haurchefant stopped by and the two sparred while I was at work. I saw a little of it when I arrived, and he’s honestly good at it. Do not worry they are not doing anything life threatening. But you must admit, he’s far more mature for his age than most kids are. I can make sure we find him a good teacher, he’s already summoned his Carbuncle, you’re wasting his talents by not allowing this.”

Estinien looked nearly furious, his eyes darting between his brother and his Lord Commander.

“He’s too young.”

“No, he is not Estinien. Let him have this. You cannot protect him when you are protecting the city, so at least allow him to start learning to protect himself. I see great potential in him, and I know you do too. You are blinded by something, I do not know what it is, nor do I wish for you to tell me, but you need to look past it. You need to realize that we are living in increasingly dangerous times. If you two didn’t live alone I might not be suggesting this, but this is for your own good and his.”

Alphinaud was shocked, he did not expect Aymeric to fight for him so heavily. He was thankful, but he also did not want to upset his brother, he sometimes still thought about that night they fought when Estinien found out that he had the Grimoire.

“Estie, I know you love me, and I love you too. But you must admit that Aymeric is right. I need to be able to defend myself should the worst happen. What happened to mother and father was a horrible thing, if you let me train though, it might not happen to me. Allowing me to sit here daily, on my own, is just risking my own life. The dragon attacks have thankfully not reached the city itself, but you don’t know when it could happen. I don’t want to worry you Estinien, you know that’s the last thing I want to do, but I need this, you need this too.”

Alphinaud watched as his brother went through a myriad of emotions before finally sinking his face into his hands.

“I wanted you to stay a child for just a little longer.”

“I haven’t been a child for many years Estinien, you know this.”

Estinien nodded and looked at his plate, moving the fork around as he thought.

“Fine, I’ll allow it. Aymeric, get your best and brightest to train him. Make sure they are not too tough, yet also make sure they are not too lax. He is only allowed to train for a few hours a day, I can’t have him exhausting himself. I would be more comfortable if they were to train somewhere in the congregation so I would be able to check up on him for the first bit… Does this satisfy both of you?”

Alphinaud smiled, nodding his head.

“Yes it does Estie, and I know, in due time you’ll realize what a good idea this was. I won’t disappoint you.”

“You never could.”

Alphinaud turned to Aymeric, smiling at him.

“And thank you too for convincing my thick-headed brother that having me start training isn’t such a bad idea.”

“Continue talking bad about me and I’ll make sure you don’t start.”

Alphinaud stuck his tongue out at Estinien, causing Aymeric to laugh. They finished up their dinner, Estinien insisting that he do the dishes since Aymeric mostly cooked. Aymeric moved with Alphinaud to the couch, chatting with him.

“So, read anything new lately?”

“Yeah actually! I borrowed another book from Lord Fortemps, it’s about the study of magic and the stars relating to Astrologians. It’s really interesting!”

“That’s awesome, I’ve always thought they had their place here but they’re thought more of Heretics here than actual healers. I wish I could do something about it, but there’s only so much change I can bring right now.”

“I think you are doing a fantastic job. When I go out on walks I hear people from the Brume commending you and the knights that are helping their cause. Of course, some people are still weary, but they are at least thankful. You’re doing something incredible here.”

“I really hope I am Alphinaud. It seems a lot of people don’t like me.”

Alphinaud looked confused, crossing his arms.

“That doesn’t make sense though. When you talked to me while Estinien was gone, you said that there was no reason for you to not treat me well because I’ve done nothing to wrong you. As far as I’m aware you haven’t done anything wrong.”

Aymeric smiled, pulling Alphinaud onto his lap.

“You are right, I have not done anything wrong, not really. However, it’s mainly the nobles. All of them are born with silver spoons in their mouths and think that they are better than anyone born without rank or title. The fact that I am giving these people a life they deserve makes them upset. Adults are really complicated, the nobles do not want to have people who were not born wealthy, being happy and healthy apparently, it’s ridiculous.”

“What about the people in the Brume though?”

“That stems from years and years of nobles stepping on them. They have every right to not like me because before I came nearly anyone else treated them like dirt. It will take time for them to come around, but I’m sure it will happen.”

Alphinaud huffed, hugging Aymeric.

“Well everyone who doesn’t like you is stupid. You’re amazing, I mean you make Estinien smile and that is a feat.”

Aymeric smiled and hugged Alphinaud back, wishing with every fiber of his being that he could protect this boy for the rest of his life.

Estinien had finished washing the dishes at this point, turning to see the two of them hugging. His heart nearly burst out of his cheat at how ridiculously adorable it was. It pained him to break it up.

“Alphinaud, it’s time for bed. I need to take Aymeric back to the Congregation.”

“Awww, do you have to?”

“Yes, now go change, I’ll be back soon.”

Aymeric smiled and kissed Alphinaud’s forehead.

“Be good to your brother.”

“I will!”

The two watched as he jumped off Aymeric’s lap and went into the bedroom, Aymeric standing and grabbing his coat.

“You treat him well.”

“Have I need to not?”

“No, I’m just surprised I guess.”

Aymeric just chuckled and poked Estinien’s nose.

“I’m full of surprises.”

Estinien just rolled his eyes and followed Aymeric out of the house, filling the cold night air with light conversation.

Chapter Text

“You are a fool.”

Aymeric stepped back.

“I think you the fool father. Why do you not want change to come to Ishgard? Why are you letting people rot like this? Why have we been stale for so long?”

“Because change to Ishgard is impossible, we have tried and failed many times.”

“We have not tried in my life time, there are no reports of such a thing being attempted.”

“Because we are at war with the dragons!”

The Archbishop stood up, yelling at Aymeric.

“The war with the dragons does not matter when it comes to reunifying Ishgard! If we are to defeat the dragons then we need to be united as one peoples. Why are you so stubborn, why can you not understand this? What are you hiding from me, from the people?”

“You insolent child. I am hiding nothing from you. I have always wondered how you are my flesh and blood, you are nothing like me, you hold none of my ideals.”

The archbishop spat out those last words to Aymeric, the other cringing.

“I’ve always wondered the same father. I don’t know who you laid with, at this point I do not care. If she’s like you I would never truly want to meet my mother. But I have a job to do in this city, if you try and defy me, despite you being the Archbishop there will be riots. This city will go down with you in it. Are you prepared for that? The other Lord Commanders might have bent easier to your will, but I will not. I will not see this city burn to the ground because of some pretentious old Elezen who wants everything to go his way. You call me the child, but you are the child for not wanting change.”

The Archbishop glared at Aymeric, almost baffled that someone would speak to him in this way.

“I could have you killed for what you are saying to me.”

“Then do it. I have never once mattered to you. You abandoned me when I was born, I should not even fucking be here. I grew up as the town’s laughing stock. I grew up without a true home to call my own. If you are to blame anyone for the way I am now, look at yourself.” 

“You ungrateful fool. I gave you a life and this is how you repay me? Not only am I your father but I am the Archbishop of Ishgard, I do not deserve this disrespect.”

Aymeric laughed, a cold unfeeling laugh.

“You deserve nothing, you do not deserve respect, you have not earned it. Your position, your title, it is yours only because of bloodline. You have done nothing for the people.”

“I protect them!”

“From what?” 

Aymeric threw his arms out, taking a step forward as he yelled as his father.

“You have done nothing father! You sit here day in and day out while people are being hurt, while people do not have food or warmth to keep them alive in our winters. You sit back and watch as the dragons attack. I have told you on many occasions that I would try to help the people of this city, that I would try to bring peace between them and the dragons.”

“That’s a fool’s errand! The dragons would not listen, they never have. You would be going to your death.”

“Why would you care?”

“Believe it or not Aymeric, you are my flesh and blood, I would not like to see you dying.”

“A lie, I’m sure.”

Aymeric turned to walk out, done with this conversation, it was going no where but in circles. He was tired, talking to his father was something he loathed to do, he hated it. Every moment he looked at his fathers face it reminded him of the years of neglect, all those years he was abandoned. Yes, he was the Archbishop, but that didn’t matter to Aymeric. First and foremost, the man should be taking care of him as his son, but he never had, not even in secret. He never would either, he was only his father in name.

He stopped when his father spoke, his tone quiet, harboring his anger.

“I will allow you to commence with the rebuilding of the Brume, if only to prove a point to you. If it goes up in flames though, you will be stripped of your title and thrown out of Ishgard.”

Aymeric didn’t deign a response, his footsteps heavy as they hit the floor, trying to control his anger. He met with Lucia outside the building, the other noticing his irritation and making no comment, a smart action her part. He looked forward as they made their way back to the congregation, noting the Dragoon who stopped by for a brief moment before going back to his duties, whatever those were.

He bid Lucia goodbye at his office door, informing her that no one was to bother him unless it was urgent. He trudged into his office, nearly falling into his chair. Talking to his father always exhausted him. It usually only happened when he thought that he was doing something wrong, which was apparently his entire existence. He was thick headed, he knew that but his father… Well his father was an entirely different category. He uncorked his ink and grabbed his quill, a few hours of undisturbed mindless work might help him calm down.

He had been in his office for a few hours when he heard a knock on his window, exasperated he looked over, finding the Dragoon hanging like a bat. He ignored him until the knocks got persistent, going to open them up to shoo him off.

“I don’t need bats around when I’m working, please leave.”

Estinien’s eyes narrowed, Aymeric usually was okay with his presence, even when he was upset, today was different however and he was making it his mission to find out.

“What happened with the Archbishop?”

“It’s none of your business, now please leave. I have no patience for those that don’t follow orders right now.”

“You can’t really give me orders.”

“Leave.”

Aymeric didn’t close the windows, not wanting to hear the rap of knuckles against glass anymore as he went to go sit back down, ignoring the other. He heard Estinien huff and the shadow disappear, Estinien finally getting a clue and leaving. It was not his last attempt though. He would come back, do nearly the exact same thing but every time Aymeric would brush him off. He really did not have the patience for anyone right now.

The last time Estinien showed up, he came with a few chocolate tarts from the Crozier. Aymeric eyed Estinien for a few moments before he ordered him to leave again, Estinien just grumbled and left, this time through the door. Aymeric looked between the tarts on his desk and the door, his mood improved just the slightest.

When nightfall came he ended his work and headed back to his chambers, finding that someone was already there.

“Have I not given you enough of a hint, I don’t want to talk to you, or anyone for that matter.”

Estinien shrugged, not moving from his napping position on Aymeric’s bed.

“Doesn’t much matter to me. There is something wrong with you and I’m going to figure out what it is. Can’t have the Lord Commander on such a short rope when something terrible could go down.”

“I do not really care what you think. You are in my bed chambers, an area you should not be. I can kick you out by force.”

“Would you though?”

Estinien sat up, looking directly at Aymeric.

“You know you wouldn’t.”

This time the grumble came from Aymeric as he headed to his wardrobe to change into his night clothes.

“Seriously though Aymeric, what’s going on? I’ve seen you irritated before but that’s at the townspeople. I know where you were this morning, something must have happened. Did the Archbishop say you can’t do something?”

Estinien clicked his tongue when the other didn’t respond, standing to go to him.

“Aymeric, you are also giving me an answer by not answering. What happened, maybe I can help.”

“My not answering should be a clue for you to leave. I don’t need or want your help.”

“Why? You don’t have to go through this alone, whatever it is.”

“I do actually, now if you would please leave I would like to get some rest.”

“Aymeric.”

Estinien stood still, watching as the other walked around him to get into his bed.

“Aymeric. Please, what is going on. If you are hiding something that could be harmful to Ishgard I will find out.”

Aymeric huffed, glaring at Estinien.

“It’s nothing of the sort, a personal matter really. Now please, for the last damned time, leave.”

“I won’t until you tell me what’s going on! You don’t have to bottle things up like this.”

“I damn well do. You don’t understand.”

“I’m trying too.”

Estinien flung his arms out, looking much the same as Aymeric had this morning.

“I’m trying to understand, but you keep shutting yourself away and not talking to anyone.”

Aymeric’s rope was short, shorter than he could have held onto.

“How would you feel if your father was lord over this land and didn’t want to do a damned thing to help his people.”

Estinien stopped, the rumors were true. Aymeric froze up as well, unintentionally telling Estinien his biggest secret. He couldn’t tell what the other was thinking, but he was afraid it was not something good. He just spoke, trying to quell the situation.

“Yes, the Archbishop is my father, he should not have had me, I should not be here. But do not go thinking that I got this position because of it. I’m pretty sure he hates me, he only ever talks to me because he wants to yell at me, it’s all I’m good for to him.”

Estinien never really thought that Aymeric got the position because of rank, from what he knew Aymeric did not live the life of someone who was born under the Archbishop. Yet he just got the most shocking news of his life and he couldn’t speak, still utterly baffled.

“Estinien please, whatever you are thinking it’s not true. Don’t, don’t hate me. I’ve kept this secret for my entire life and I want to keep it that way. Don’t tell anyone, I should not have told you. Please.”

Aymeric was practically begging, unable to decipher the look on Estinien’s face. After a few more moment’s of Aymeric’s animated freak out Estinien went to go sit back down on the bed, looking at the other.

“I don’t know who you think I am, but I have never once thought you got this position because of rank or birth right. I just… It’s shocking alright, to hear that the rumors are actually true.”

Aymeric seemed to just deflate, glad that Estinien wasn’t about to go tell his biggest secret.

“I shouldn’t be alive, you know this. The Archbishop should have no earthly ties, should not have children or lovers, yet here I am. He threw me away the moment I was able to fend for myself. I lived like most in the Brume did, I scraped to get by. We would meet in secret when I was younger, but he only ever grilled me and yelled at me for being a nuisance. Edmont knew of my true birth, he would take me in when I wasn’t being stubborn, that’s how I came to know of him.

“I know not who my mother is, but I would rather keep it that was. If she is as slimy and revolting as my father is, then it is better off if I don’t know.”

Aymeric put his head in his hands, sighing.

“Anything I do is never good enough for him. Several times I have spoken to him about trying to fix the war with the dragons, but he won’t ever approve it. He barely approved my change for the Brume today, telling me that if it failed he would strip me of my title and throw me out of Ishgard. He does not want anything here to change, anything I try to do I have to force, I can’t go directly to him in the beginning, and he never seems to catch on to my plans before hand. He knows that if he tries to stop things like this, it will cause unrest in the city. He’s smart about It, but I’m sure he’ll try to sabotage this somehow.”

Estinien moved, unsure how to respond, this was far too heavy a topic for him.

“Actually, you know what he will find a way, he will try his hardest to do it.”

Aymeric sat up, gripping his knees to try to calm himself down.

“I hate him sometimes, like truly hate him. He’s my father isn’t he? He’s supposed to take care of me, and love me, even if I am not supposed to be here. I think I’m trying so hard with the Brume, not only because I can understand how they live, but also because I want to be the best I can be. If I could I would adopt every orphaned kid in the Brume, I would make sure that I am a more supportive father than he ever was, even if I can’t be there all the time. I just, it fucking pisses me off.”

Aymeric ended up getting off the bed, pacing the room. Estinien’s eyes always following him, allowing him to vent.

“I wish that I could just stand on the highest roof top and tell everyone what a truly shitty person he is. I know I am not supposed to say this, I know this is blasphemy or whatever, but I really do not care at this point. He isn’t doing anything to help Ishgard. He just sits, all day, doing whatever the hell he does, and doesn’t bother trying to help. He’s hiding something, something big. It’s like, he doesn’t want to be made out as the bad guy. No one would think that right now because he’s doing what every other archbishop has ever done, sit and do nothing.

“I wish the people could see this, I wish that they could look past their history and everything else and see what he’s doing, or rather what he isn’t. I haven’t been blinded by him like the others, because I know what a horrible person he is. I always tried to place the blame elsewhere as a child, but when I grew up I understood. I understood everything. I don’t know what he’s hiding, I don’t know how I will find out, but I will. Even if I lose my title and my right to live in Ishgard, I will find out.”

Aymeric stopped, sinking to the floor with a loud sigh. He brought his knees up to his chest, resting his head in them.

“God, it feels so good to get that out. Besides Edmont, you are the only other person who knows.”

Estinien sat there, eye’s trained on Aymeric. It was… a lot to take in, that was for sure. It was hard to believe that Aymeric had been shouldering this for years, with only one person he could confide, in, and someone he never did. He knows Aymeric enough by now to know that he would never bother Edmont with his troubles like this. For years now Aymeric had been dealing with this on his own. Knowing that his father at any moment could strike him down, him or his plans.

He really did not know what to do, what to say. He knew what he wanted to do, to wrap Aymeric in his embrace, to kiss him senseless, to prove to him that he had people that cared for him, people that would do just about anything for him, but he didn’t, he held himself back. He shifted on the bed, a sigh escaping his lips.

“I… I don’t really know what to say right now. I’m, sorry I suppose. I’m sorry that you’ve had to deal with this by yourself up until now, but well… I’m here for you. You can lean on me when you are troubled. I won’t tell anyone of this, I swear that to you.”

Aymeric’s laugh was dry, uncaring. Estinien’s heart pulled, his need to comfort him only growing.

“Don’t feel sorry for me. I’ve done nothing to deserve it, it is rather apparent. I have a father who doesn’t love me, and a city who would burn me at the stake if I made one wrong move. Not to mention the dragons, they’ll kill me just because I’m Elezen, just because I’m here in Ishgard.”

“Aymeric, please tell me you do not seriously think that.”

The look Aymeric gave him proved to him that he thought exactly that and more. If Estinien could, he would go and rid Aymeric of any of his enemies. He would ensure that come tomorrow Aymeric did not have anything to worry about anymore. Alas, it was a dream he knew would not come true, at least, not in one night.

Estinien stood up, walking to Aymeric before crouching in front of him.

“Hey, I know nothing is going to get solved overnight, but why don’t you try and get some sleep, and start tomorrow new.”

The face Aymeric made at Estinien when he looked to him put a fire in his heart. He had never once seen Aymeric look so helpless… So, lost. He hated it, hated the Archbishop, hated anyone who has ever made Aymeric feel like this.

“Yeah, thanks Estinien. Sorry you had to see me like this.”

Estinien didn’t say anything to that, knowing it would only upset Aymeric more. He waited till Aymeric got into bed before heading home for the night, fury coating his heart.


Aymeric was woken by a frantic knock on his door.

“Lord Commander, I have urgent news.” 

Aymeric got out of bed, looking out the window, it was barely morning, what could be so urgent at this hour. He grabbed his robe, pulling it around his body before opening the door.

“What could possibly be so urgent that I must be awoken before the sun rises.”

“Dragons.”

One single word had Aymeric’s eyes wide, his mind immediately turning back into work mode.

“Gather the knights, I will be down as soon as I am dressed.”

He slammed the door, going to his wardrobe and dressing. The last time he fought the dragons he nearly killed himself, he knew Estinien was not going to let him do that again. He grabbed his sword and ran out of the room, buckling it to his hip as he waited for the lift. The knights were gathered he yelled his commands and they were off.

This was much the same battle as the last, except they barely could see. Aymeric watched as knight after knight went down. His heart breaking nearly every time, even if many of the knights did not approve of him as Lord Commander, it didn’t make the losses any less on his heart. Many of them had families, friends, he hated it. Hated this senseless war. He didn’t care what it took, he would stop it.

The fighting lasted for what seemed like hours, Estinien and Aymeric hopping between battles to try and quell the amount of knights they were going to lose. When the dragons finally retreated Aymeric wanted to collapse, mentally and physically exhausted. He wavered on his feet when a hand rested gently on his back, keeping him upright.

“Lord Commander.”

“Dragoon.”

They both looked at each other, examining one another.

“Glad to see you are in one piece.”

“For the most part.”

Aymeric walked forward, breaking their contact before he turned back towards him.

“Go to the wounded, I’ll deal with the dead.”

Estinien nodded, making his way forward before stopping.

“If you cannot continue, go to the tent. We cannot have you passing out on the field.”

“Worry not. I am just physically and mentally exhausted, at least I didn’t get a claw to the side this time.”

“That’s not funny.”

Aymeric just waved him away, Estinien snarling but going to gather the wounded. This was in short, a massacre, another one. It took every bit of strength for Aymeric to not just break down in the field. He still had not gotten his head together after yesterday, hoping he would have a few more days before this happened again.

He laughed to himself, verging on the realm of hysterical. He should have just forgone any emotion the moment he took up the sword, it might have made things a little easier on his end. It took hours to gather all the dead, not their names and their stations, and get them all ready to bury or burn, he was never sure. His feet led him to the Chirurgeon tent, checking up on all of his wounded soldiers.

Most of the wounded would live, thankfully. He met with Estinien outside of the tent, sighing.

“Thank you, with your help we managed to lessen the number of casualties. I know it is not in your job, but it’s still an incredibly big help.”

“Think nothing of it Aymeric, I’m here to help you, that’s it.”

Estinien noted the breathless way Aymeric spoke, the bags under his eyes, the amount of effort it was taking him just to keep upright.

“Aymeric, you need to go get some sleep.”

“I will, soon. I just need to make sure everyone get’s transported back to the city safely and then I can sleep.”

Estinien was about to speak but was interrupted by a knight running up to them.

“Lord Commander, there’s a riot going on in town right now, we need you.”

Aymeric’s face dropped, he sighed heavily before running off behind the knight, Estinien at his heels. They arrived to find several nobles fighting with those from the Brume. Aymeric took out his sword and stepped in the middle of them, an idiotic move, but it forced them to stop, lest they harm him.

Aymeric looked around, eyes narrowed.

“What the hells is going on here.”

Behind him, a man piped up, the one he had spoken to the last time there was a riot.

“Ser, I promise we did not start this one. The nobles don’t seem to be very happy that we are finally being able to live like real humans.”

Everyone nodded, Aymeric turning towards the other half, their faces showing clear signs of disgust.

“Are you going to believe them Ser Aymeric? That we, nobles started this. How outrageous.”

It took but a moment for a verbal fight to start, Aymeric clenching his teeth.

“Enough!”

The two sides settled down, staring at him.

“I honestly do not give a damn about who started it, it’s fucking stupid. Why must we fight a battle between ourselves when we are also attempting to live through every attack the dragons make. If you guys are going to continue like this I will force everyone into military service. I lost many good men out on that field today and here I am, quelling a damn fight that broke out because nobles can’t wrap their fucking head around the fact that Ishgard is changing.”

Aymeric’s anger his frustration flowed through every word, not caring that he was being brash about it.

“I want you all to go home and seriously reflect on your lives. I am doing this for the good of Ishgard, so we can come together as one peoples. If we are not together, then the dragons will win this damned fight. I do not want to see anymore fighting, I do not want to see any more of my men get killed.”

Aymeric turned towards the nobles, speaking directly to them.

“You all, if you think that just because you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth and a title that means you have money, that you are better than anyone else in this city, you are wrong. The people of the Brume have more heart than any of you lot ever will. I had to fight my way up the ranks, whatever you want to believe, I lived my younger years much like many in the Brume did. I suffered without food and heat for most of my childhood. You do not understand struggle, you do not understand going night after night without food, fearing that you will die because of the cold. You are all pampered idiots who think that money means everything in this world. If you would open up your damn eyes for once, and look at this world like you actually care about living in it, I think your perspective would change. And you lot.”

He paused to turn around, eyeing everyone from the Brume.

“You lot need to realize that these people are instigating you specifically for this reason. Chin up, ignore them. Trust me, I know it’s hard, I know it’s hard to ignore them when they are doing things like this, but you can be better than them, prove it to me. Prove to me that what I’m doing is not a waste of time and resources. Again, I’m not picking sides on this fight, but I’m damn well pissed off at all of you. Now leave this place, go back to your homes and your families and think about how stupid you all were tonight. I have business to attend to, because believe it or not, good men died out there today.”

He gave them all one last glare before leaving, walking angrily back towards the congregation and back to his office. He collapsed in his chair, sighing heavily.

“Aymeric, are you okay?”

“No, now leave me. I want to be alone.”

He honestly didn’t want to leave, but Estinien knew that Aymeric needed some time to decompress, so he allowed it.

“Well, get some sleep soon yeah? You need it.”

Chapter Text

Aymeric ran his hand through his hair as he walked away from the last home of one of the soldiers that he had lost in battle. He took it upon himself to personally visit each family instead of writing to them his apologies. It felt more sincere to him and the families seemed to prefer that form of contact over a letter that was the same for every soldier lost in battle. It did tighten his schedule up, but it was something he wanted to do. He let out a soft sigh, making his way back to the congregation when a figure in red dropped beside him.

“What’s your plan for the rest of the day.”

“I’ve still got things that I need to work on for the Brume. So, it is back to my office. I cannot have the Archbishop on my ass again. He’s already called me in for my stunt the other day when I broke up the fight.”

Estinien sighed, shaking his head.

“I’m sorry you have to deal with that.”

“It’s not too big of a deal, I knew this was going to happen eventually. He just can’t deal with anything changing in his city. But it’s bullshit and I will fight until I’m dead to get Ishgard to a better and safer place to live.”

In reality, it was a huge deal, but he couldn’t let others know that. Constantly his father drug him through the mud, brought him down because he was a bastard, and tried to control his life. He hated it, it was like being stuck in a prison that he knew he was never going to get out of, he wanted to change it, but he didn’t know how. So, for now, he had to deal with being destroyed mentally by his father’s words and actions towards him.

It tired him out, it made him feel like he was worthless, which, potentially he was, but as long as he could help Ishgard then what was wrong with feeling like you were not needed on this Earth. He was stuck in his own thoughts, not noticing that Estinien had bid him farewell and left him.

Back in his office he sat down, a letter on the desk from his father.

 

Aymeric, I am sure you are aware that what you did the other day in the Brume was uncalled for. We talked about this but you didn’t seem to care about what I had to say. You never do care about what I say, not only am I your father, but I am also the Archbishop. My words are law here in Ishgard and it’s ridiculous that you do not listen to me. If you were not my son, if you were someone who I didn’t hold close to my heart, I would have you banished from Ishgard for your transgressions. If you continue to defy me though, I may have to do it. As much as it saddens me, as much as I don’t want too, I cannot continue to give you special treatment because you are my flesh and blood. Aymeric, for the sake of your job and your life here in Ishgard, stop being so stubborn.

  • The Archbishop

 

Aymeric laughed, setting the letter on fire, watching it burn. What a joke, his father caring about him, he has never done anything to prove that. He placed his head in his hands, something he seemed to be doing a lot lately. He was so tired of all of this, he just wanted things to. Go back to normal, was that so hard? Could he never live a semi normal life again? He groaned, getting up from his desk. He needed a break and he really didn’t care what people wanted from him. He left his office, heading down the hallway towards his chambers, hoping beyond anything that no one would bother him.

——————

Estinien hadn’t seen a sign of Aymeric in a couple of days, he would either lock himself up in his chambers, or in his office. Lucia rarely saw him, hell, the temple knights rarely saw him and it was his job to oversee him, something was going on with him and he needed to find out. If not for himself or for the whole of Ishgard, it was for his brother. Alphinaud had asked him every day if he could see Aymeric again, but he didn’t quite know what to say to the kid except that he was busy.

He couldn’t hide forever though, the winter festival was coming up, and it was the Lord Commanders job to start the whole part of it. For now, he was going to assume the best intent and hope that Aymeric was just busy preparing for the festival as well as continuing his work on the Brume. The city had started to decorate, silvers and blues lined most of the streets, trees went up with twinkling lights, snow dusting everything and making it a wonder to see.

Estinien sat in his living area, feet propped up on the table and a mug of mead in his hand as he stared out the window at the falling snow. Honestly, he was surprised that Alphinaud hadn’t bothered him to go walking during the night yet, this was always his favorite time of year, and every year they would go walking during the night. Watching as the lights twinkled and the city quiet. To be honest he loved it too, loved everything about this particular time of year, it made the everlasting snow seem alright to him.

As if on cue Alphinaud opened up the door to their bedroom, a smile spread across his face.

“Hey brother.”

“Yes brother?”

“Can we go out tonight? They’ve finished setting up most of the decorations and I really wanna see them. Please.”

Estinien turned his head so he could see Alphi, noting that the boy was dressed warmly already and would not take no for an answer.

“Oh alright, let me get my coat.”

Alphinaud clapped his hands together, letting out a loud cheer. Once Estinien had donned a coat and boots the two of them headed out, Alphinaud barely able to contain his excitement.

“This never gets old, it’s always so pretty. I wish they would keep this up year-round.”

“If they did this would lose all its wonder and just become and every day thing. You wouldn’t be excited about it anymore.”

“Well, I suppose you’re right. But I can’t help but hope that they do and the wonder would never disappear.”

Estinien ruffled Alphinaud’s hair, the younger just laughing, his face pink from the cold and his sheer excitement. They walked until they hit the aetherite plaza, a familiar figure standing by the edge, looking out into the distance. Estinien stopped, mesmerized by the way the lights made him seem to glow, the soft snow fall almost making it seem like a dream. The metal of his armor twinkled under the lights, Estinien nearly lost his breath at the sight of him, realizing again just how madly he had fallen for him.

He came back to reality when a hand touched his arm, Alphinaud smiling up at him.

“Go to him, I’ll go walk to the Jeweled Crozier myself.”

Estinien nearly cursed at himself, either Alphinaud was extremely sharp or he was terrible at hiding his feelings, either way he nodded to his brother and set off slowly to meet the man that plagued his every thought. He didn’t speak as he went to stand by him, only noting how the other turned to look at him for a moment before looking back out at whatever had his attention. Minutes passed before either of them spoke, both of them wrapped up in their own head.

“Estinien, what brings you out here?”

“I was on a walk with Alphinaud. He loves taking a walk at night when the festival gets set up. We’ve done this for years now, ever since I can remember, even back when my parents were alive. It’s tradition.”

Aymeric looked at him, then around trying to find the smaller brother.

“He went on by himself, he’s old enough now.”

“It’s tradition though, shouldn’t you be with you.”

Estinien shook his head, looking into the other’s eyes.

“The boy is fine, you are the one who looked like they needed someone.”

Aymeric sucked in a breath, Estinien was as perceptive as ever.

“Thank you. I just… well, I just have a lot on my mind.”

“You don’t need to tell me if you don’t want too, I just want you to know that I am here for you, I always will be Aymeric. If you ever need anything, please, never hesitate to ask, I would do anything for you.”

Estinien nearly cheered when he saw the smile that spread across Aymeric’s face.

“Thank you Estinien.”

Aymeric turned and put his arm on Estinien’s, squeezing ever so slightly.

“Just those words alone have filled my heart with joy. If I ever should need too, I will come to you, I swear on it. I must bid you goodnight unfortunately, I’ve got quite a day ahead of me tomorrow.”

Estinien nodded, unable to form any coherent thought or sentence. He watched as Aymeric turned his back and started towards the congregation, his eyes following him until he turned a corner and disappeared. He let loose a breath he didn’t realize he was holding, his handing going to his heart, trying to keep it from beating out of his chest.

“You’ve got it bad brother.”

Estinien startled when his brother spoke, his heart going crazy for an entirely different reason.

“Are you ever going to do anything about it?”

“I can’t.”  

“And why not?”

“You wouldn’t understand.”

“I think you are being dumb Estinien. Just go for it before you lose everything.”

Estinien watched as his brother walked away from him, sighing. He wanted to go for it, but honestly, he was afraid at this point. Afraid of rejection, afraid of getting Aymeric hurt. It was a bad idea, but it might feel so good.

The day of the winter festival created a lovely buzz in the air. Estinien bid his brother goodbye and promised that he would look for him at the festival. He found Aymeric finishing his preparations in the office, smiling at him. 

“Are you ready to bring in your first winter festival as Lord Commander of the Temple Knights?”

“I’m ready to not talk to my father if that’s what you mean.”

“Oh, his holiness is making an appearance?”

“For a short time, you and I are to be with him at all times while he is.”

“Oh, what fun.”

“Imagine how I feel.”

“It’ll be okay Aymeric, I’ll be with you the entire time.”

“Yes, thank you for that.”

Aymeric nodded to Estinien, heading out the door. Starting off the festivities was easy, he had to make a speech then everyone was free to do as they wish. The city for once, smelt amazing. Vendors lined the streets with various types of celebratory food and wares for purchase, children were running around laughing, red cheeked and pink nosed from the cold, their parents were laughing off to the side, having conversations that ranged widely.

Taking a look around, Aymeric was reminded on why he fought so hard for this city, he fought for this specific reason, to keep everyone happy. He didn’t care what his father had to say about it, and if he had to overthrow the Archbishop just to get what he wanted, well then, he was going to do just that.

After he had made his speech and the festival had finally kicked off Aymeric and Estinien walked to go and fetch the Archbishop, it was customary for him to show, only for a little bit and he never stepped off of the steps of the Cathedral. Aymeric and Estinien bowed deeply when they entered, the Archbishop standing.

“Welcome boys, I expect the festivities are going well.”

“Yes, your holiness, everything started without issue.”

“Very well then, shall we.”

Aymeric dreaded this, but he knew he had to do it. They stood straight and followed the other out the door, both of them looking at each other, Estinien to show his support, and Aymeric to thank him.

In total, they were there for about an hour. It wasn’t the worst thing Aymeric had to do, but it was still majorly unpleasant. He was thankful Estinien was also told to help or he was afraid is father would do nothing but bitch and him when no one was talking to him. They walked the Archbishop back inside and left him there, walking back out to attend to their own duties.

“What’s on the agenda for the rest of the day?”

Estinien walked with his hands behind his back, his eyes wandering the streets as he talked to Aymeric.

“I’ve got to go around and say hello to the nobles, which I’m sure they are just pleased with. After that the day is mine to do with as I please.”

“Want to come with Alphinaud and I after you’re done? I’m still always on duty but I am allowed time to walk around the festival of course.”

“I’d love that. I’ll come find you guys when I’m finished.”

Estinien nodded and waved to Aymeric as he went off to find Alphinaud, heading to the sweetest smelling part of town, knowing that’s exactly where the boy would be. He snuck up behind him, reaching his hands out to tickle his sides. Alphinaud squeaked and turned around, nearly hitting his brother.

“Estinien!”

“Why hello brother, how good it is to see you.”

“Drop the act asshole.”

Estinien gasped, putting his hand on his heart as he leaned back, the entire display entirely far too over dramatic.

“How could my brother use such language with me. What a horrible boy he’s becoming.”

Alphinaud stuck his tongue out, laughing.

“You off for a while now?”

“For the rest of the day, so long as nothing bad happens. Oh and Aymeric is going to join us after he finishes his duties.”

“Oh yay! This’ll be exciting. What do you want to do?”

“I’m fine with anything, as long as you are happy, and Aymeric when he comes, then anything is alright.”

Alphinaud looked up at Estinien, giving him an odd look before pulling him down the rows of sweet vendors to buy some more things. At the end of it, Alphinaud’s arms were loaded up and they went to go find a place to sit.

“You’re going to get sick if you eat all of those.”

“They’re for all of us. Look, I know you mentioned Aymeric really likes chocolate tarts, so I got a few for him.”

“How thoughtful.”

Alphinaud smiled and dug in, Estinien leaning back on his arms and watched the city walk by him. The festival was always a great time to people watch. Everyone in general was happy on days like this, no one had a gripe about things, and everyone from all over the city came out to enjoy the festivities. At times like these, Estinien could understand just how Aymeric managed to keep doing his job, he could see why Aymeric loved what he did, even if he was stressed about it at times.

Alphinaud and Estinien had only made it halfway through the food when Aymeric showed up.

“My, my, am I going to have a fat Dragoon accompanying me soon?”

Estinien looked up, eyes narrowing at the other.

“Not quite, but I’ll probably have a fat brother.”

Alphinaud made the oddest noise of protest, his mouth full of chocolate. He swallowed harshly and dug through the pile, bringing the few chocolate tarts and handing them to Aymeric.

“Look, I got you some stuff!”

Aymeric glanced down, realized just how famished he was, he grabbed the tarts and sat down next to Estinien.

“Your brother is dangerous. How does he know I like these anyways?”

“Oh, a certain someone might have mentioned that you will pretty much do anything if you have those tarts presented in front of you.”

“You are a horrible, horrible person Estinien.”

“I try my best.”

They both chuckled, all three of them digging in to the sweets. Afterwards, they got up and walked around, the two older men allowing Alphinaud to drag them around where he pleased, neither of them caring really where they were going. As the city started to turn dark around them, Alphinaud managed to find a fantastic spot, away from the prying eyes of the city to watch the fireworks that ended the first day of the festival. That spot just happened to be the roof of their home, it was perfect, most people were at the square, or around the congregation, and it seemed this was a pretty common occurrence for those two.

Apparently when Alphinaud was younger they would stay in the city to watch the fireworks, but as he grew older Estinien would climbed with him to the roof of their house so they could watch the fireworks there. Aymeric didn’t mind in the least, he enjoyed being with these two, and the less rumors floating around, the better it was for both him and Estinien in the long run.

Aymeric pulled his legs up to his chest, resting his head on his knees as he waited for the fireworks to start. Estinien was next to him with his legs stretched out, Alphinaud sat further forward, letting his legs dangle off the side as he leaned back on his arms. The first pop startled the older two males, engrossed in their own conversation. Their heads both turned to watch, Aymeric stretching his legs out in front of him so he could get a more comfortable position. A small smile graced his lips, the first fireworks show he was watching as Lord Commander, and he couldn’t complain a bit about it. Sure, the city was still in a bit of disarray, but he was surrounded by people he loved and wanted to protect, it made him want to work harder at his job, to make sure that this city was something that everyone could be proud of, not just him.

He turned to look at Estinien, already finding the others eyes focused on him. The fireworks sounded off in the background, both of them seemingly ignoring it as the sound turned to mere background noise for the two. Aymeric watch the way the lights lit up Estinien’s, face, the way that it reflected off of his pitch-black armor. It was beautiful, he was encased in colorful beauty, more so than he normally was.

Aymeric was weak to Estinien, weak to his advances, weak to his face and his kind soul. He loved every single damn thing about Estinien, he was a great big brother, a wonderful Azure Dragoon, and an incredibly handsome fellow. He thanked the stars every day that he met Estinien, and that this man was in his life.

He was going to go mad with how badly he wanted to kiss those lips of his, he was going to go absolutely crazy if he couldn’t hold Estinien, if he couldn’t tell him just how much the other meant to him. He scooted closer, weighing his choices, thinking about what the others had told him. What did he want to do? What did he need to do? The questions rang through his head as he leaned in closer, unknowingly breaching the tiny gap between the two.

“Estinien.”

The other cocked his eyebrow, waiting for Aymeric to respond. Aymeric’s tongue was tied in his mouth, he didn’t know what he wanted to say, he didn’t know if he could even say anything. Aymeric was pulled out of his thoughts when he felt a hand rest gently on his cheek, their faces mere centimeters apart. He whispered a silent ‘fuck it’ before he leaned in, completely closing the gap between the two of them.

Their kiss was everything and nothing. It left Aymeric satisfied, and wanting more. This was what he had yearned for and it just felt right.

Estinien’s other arm wrapped tightly around Aymeric, pulling him in tight to his chest, making sure not to disturb their kiss. He needed this, he needed this to keep himself sane. Everything seemed to slow down when he heard Aymeric’s small whisper before their lips met. He didn’t notice the fireworks above them, he didn’t notice Alphinaud’s glance and a smirk crossing his face before he continued to watch the show. He didn’t notice anything other than the Blue Bird before him. Aymeric was his, Aymeric was finally, finally his.

The two pulled away for a brief moment before the both of them met in the middle, clearly not satisfied with their first kiss. After a while they both released, breathing heavily, foreheads touching. Aymeric’s eyes were closed, but the smile that was one his face made Estinien want to sing. It was beautiful, it was stunning, it was pure unadulterated Aymeric. Estinien smirked, kissing Aymeric’s forehead, the other opening his mouth to speak.

“I’m sorry that took so long.”

Estinien chuckled, his hand going up to caress Aymeric’s face.

“It’s both of our faults. We’ve been dancing around this for months. Are you sure though?”

“I’ve never been surer of something in my life, fuck what anyone else thinks. I need you, you keep me sane, you keep me alive.”

“I can’t say for sure if you’re not going to be the one to kill me, but I can agree with you for the most part.”

The two took a moment to regain themselves before looking back up to the sky, the fireworks show concluding.

“It was about time you guys, I was planning on a way to force you two together if you weren’t going to do it soon.”

Estinien grabbed a small rock, throwing it at the back of Alphinaud’s head.

“If you want to continue living under my roof, you will shut your trap now.”

“Awww, big bro Estinien’s embarrassed.”

Aymeric laughed, squeezing Estinien’s hand.

“If he ever kicks you out, come find me, I will gladly welcome you.”

“See, Aymeric likes me.”

Estinien groaned, lying back onto the roof.

“I can’t believe my own brother and my Lord Commander are against me.”

Aymeric just shrugged, scooting up to sit next to Alphinaud.

“Alphinaud doesn’t boss me around, of course I’m going to like him more.”

“You’re the worst.”

The three of them laughed, continuing to talk well into the night before Estinien forced Aymeric and Alphinaud to head to bed.

“Hey Estinien, is Aymeric going to be with us for a while?”

“As long as I can keep him around, I’ll try it brother.”

“You love him, don’t you?”

“Yeah, yeah I probably do.”

“Keep him safe.” 

“I don’t need my eight-year-old brother to tell me that. I’ll do everything in my power to make sure that the two of you are in good health for the rest of your lives.”

“I know you will brother, I know.”

Chapter Text


The festival had gone wonderfully. Nothing happened during it, no signs of the dragons, no signs of outside enemies trying to take their happiness and their freedom with them. Aymeric’s mood was at an all-time high. The work on the Brume was getting closer to being completed. Most of the buildings had been restored, several “inn’s” had been built to take care of homes for those without. There wasn’t room to build full on houses for the ones who lived in the Brume, but the rooms in the inns were spacious with enough room for a family of six to live comfortably.

Aymeric visited the Brume often, the residents treating him much differently than past times. Stairs replaced the planks that led to the bottom, facades of broken stores and burnt dwellings were repaired. Life really was starting to begin in the Brume. They were starting to live like normal humans again, and nearly everyone in the Brume was grateful to Aymerics work. They even put in a little work on the underside of the pub. They expanded it as much as they could, replaced the worn-down wood with a newer, stronger variety, built new tables and chairs. Aymeric made sure that those who lived down there had first pick of the work that became available as the Brume was being rebuilt. The fathers and sons who were well enough to build, did their job, and they were paid handsomely for it.

Shops in the market opened up a few positions, even work in the libraries and steel manufactory welcomed those from the Brume. Those who wished an education got one. The children were cleaned, and fed… But most importantly, everyone in the Brume now had a roof to cover their heads at night, they had wood to keep them warm, and clothes to cover their backs. As people started to get jobs, the city funding starting to funnel out. Still though, there was money going to those who could not work, Aymeric made sure that everyone in the city got fed no matter if they had the money or not.

His father had called him plenty of times to bitch at him about how much money he was wasting on this project, but he didn’t care. As the Brume got rebuilt, trading increased because more shops started to open up, therefore more money was coming into the city. It would take a while to rebuild the stashes he had used, but it didn’t matter, not when he saw just how lively his city now was. It overjoyed him.

The one single problem was that he had not seen Estinien in nearly a week. After their kiss on the roof they had parted ways that night and hadn’t been around each other long enough to even say hi. Estinien had given in reports but was out the door soon after to go and check the perimeter. They both knew the quiet time couldn’t last forever, and they were both waiting for the next attack to hit.

Surprisingly enough though, when he had arrived back in his office, he found the dragoon sitting in his chair with his feet propped up on the desk.

“How many times do I have to tell you that your feet do not belong on the desk.”

“Mmmm, as many times as you need too. I’m comfortable.”

“I fear the only thing that is going to keep your legs off my precious desk is to cut them off, something I would rather loath to do.”

“Or perhaps you could come here and sit, that would well force me to take my legs off the desk.”

A blush spread across Aymeric’s face almost instantly.

“Come here you stubborn headed fool, I’ve missed you.”

How could Aymeric honestly say no to that. His feet led him to Estinien who as stated, pulled his legs off of his desk so he could pull Aymeric down on his lap. The two just looked at each other for a while.

“Your armor is not the most comfortable thing to sit on.”

“Sounds like you are just going to have to deal with that my lord.”

Aymeric just smiled before he leaned into kiss Estinien, the other wrapping his arms around his waist, pulling him closer. He didn’t know just how much he loved kissing Estinien until this very moment. He replayed the scene on the roof several times in his head, but nothing was quite as wonderful as actually being able to do it. They stayed like that for what seemed like hours, Aymeric eventually ignoring the poking that Estinien’s armor was doing and just, melting into him. When they pulled away Aymeric sighed, giving Estinien a peck on his nose.

“I wonder why we waited so long?”

“Because my dear Lord, we are both stubborn as a mule.”

Aymeric nodded as he got off Estinien’s lap, unwillingly, but Ishgardian needs came before his own sometimes.

“I truly regret to inform you that you must vacate yourself from my seat. I have things in wish I need to sign, and your wonderful ass seems to be taking up the space which I need.”

Estinien rolled his eyes but got up, going to the other side of the desk to sit down.

“You’re so dramatic.”

“Oh, but would I be myself without all my dramatics?”

Estinien chuckled but stayed quiet, the two sitting in companionable silence while Aymeric worked at his desk. Estinien couldn’t keep his eyes off of Aymeric, truly he was probably one of the most stunning people he had ever met, and he couldn’t believe that he was his. After a while Estinien knew he had to get back to his duties, he got up quietly, Aymeric too absorbed in his paperwork to notice, and left.

The sun was just beginning to set when a knock sounded on Aymeric’s office door. He beckoned the other in, a knight bowing to him.

“Lord Commander, the Archbishop wishes to speak to you post-haste.”

Aymeric had to keep himself from groaning in front of the knight.

“Very well.”

Aymeric got up, grabbed his sword, and followed the knight out. The heavens only knew what his father wanted to speak to him about. As far as he was aware, he hadn’t done anything to warrant another meeting with his father this time. But then again, he supposed his father could find any reason to bitch at him. They arrived at the cathedral far too soon for Aymeric’s liking, but he supposed it was better to get this out of the way quicker. He ascended the steps, then was led into the room that he always met his father in, the other sitting, not looking pleased at all to see him there.

“You summoned me?”

“I have heard rumors spreading around lately that I am not very fond to hear.”

“Pray tell, what is it you are hearing?”

“That a certain Lord Commander has become increasingly close with our cities Azure Dragoon.”

Aymeric stood there baffled, he was certain no one had seen that scene on the roof, but why was his being friends with Estinien such a big deal?

“We have dealings a lot, since he reports his findings to me, we have come to form a sort of friendship.”

“Is that all?”

Aymeric couldn’t let his father find out about the two of them, he absolutely couldn’t.

“It is, nothing more. I do not understand what you are insinuating.”

“I have eyes in the city, as you are well aware. I have heard many reports of you heading out of the congregation late at night, only to be walked home by that certain person. You spent nearly the entire festival with him and his younger brother, I even heard reports that my eyes saw you two… doing rather unsavory things on that very night.”

Aymeric froze, he had honestly forgotten that his father kept watch on the city one way or another. It tended to be nothing he had to pay any heed too, and it had unfortunately slipped his mind.

“What I do in my private life does not concern you.”

“Yes, it does Aymeric! You are the Lord Commander, what you do and with whom has great importance on this city, and how it’s denizens look at you! I would not have cause to worry if you were fraternizing with some noble lady, but the Azure Dragoon. Honestly Aymeric, is it your goal to disappoint me in everything you do?”

Aymeric’s fists clenched at his sides, his eyes hardening into a glare.

“My goal has never been to disappoint you, but there came a time in my life where I realized that no matter what I was to do, you would never approve. It matters not what lies you spill through your lips; you wish that I had never been born. I am a stain upon your sole that you can no longer get rid of, I am too important to this city, and if anything, untoward were to happen to me, people who start to suspect. The rumors of my birth still fly through this city as if it were the first day someone spoke it. As far as my relations with Estinien are concerned, I would think it would have more beneficial bearings on this city than you are assuming. The Lord Commander and the Azure Dragoon are two of the most formidable people in this city, if they were to come together, they would be a force unstoppable. But as I said before, what I do with my private life does not, and will never concern you. You gave up that right the minute you threw me out and ignored me throughout my childhood. I am doing nothing illegal; I am not spending money where you deem it inappropriate, I am doing nothing that is doing any harm to this city or its people.”

Thordan stood up, coming around the table to stand directly in front of Aymeric.

“You are to end your relationship with Estinien, or I will have to do something about it. I will not have you fraternizing with someone who does not have this city’s best interest in their mind. The Azure Dragoon’s only goal is to slay Nidhogg. If he were to die in battle, I can assume that it would destroy you, and I will not let the Lord Commander fail in his duties because of some impertinent brat.”

“You know nothing about him. I will not allow you speak ill of someone just because you have a grudge against me.”

Thordan’s hand shot out, gripping Aymeric’s collar and pulling him off the floor.

“You do not speak out against me. I have had enough with your attitude. You will do as I say or you will never see the Azure Dragoon again, or Ishgard.”

Thordan threw Aymeric across the room, the other hitting the wall, grunting.

“Get out of my sight Aymeric.”

Aymeric got up off the floor, not paying any heed to his father, taking what dignity he had left and returned back to the congregation. His father had never lashed out at him like that before, it was shocking to say the least. Though he supposed that it was only to happen in due time, he really did enjoy pissing his father off sometimes. Entering back into the congregation he was met with Alphinaud and his teacher at the raised floor above the table in the main room. He had honestly forgotten he had already picked out a teacher for him, it had been so hectic lately.

He quietly ascended the stairs, leaning against the wall to watch as Alphinaud played around with the carbuncle he had created. The older man noticed him but Aymeric just shook his head, he didn’t want to interrupt the lesson. He didn’t really know how long he stood there, not wanting to go back into his office and dwell over his father’s threats. The lesson ended, Alphinaud standing to leave when he finally noticed Aymeric. It was a sudden rush of a small eight-year old boy bounding into his arms and he did not really care at all. He hugged Alphinaud, kissing him on the forehead.

“Hey there.”

Alphinaud wrapped his arms around Aymeric’s neck, nuzzling into him.

“How long were you standing there?”

“Long enough to know that my decision to convince your stubborn brother to start your studies was worth it.”

“Thank you for that Aymeric, truly. I’m having so much fun.”

“I’m glad. Now, how about you come back to my office where you really shouldn’t be and entertain me for the rest of the day.”

Aymeric didn’t know that Alphinaud could get anymore adorable, but by the fury, he was really going to steal him from Estinien. Alphinaud was small, unusually so for an eight-year-old, but it allowed him the pleasure of carrying him through the congregation. The looks he got varied from shock to adoration. It was strange, but again, he didn’t care.

As promised, Alphinaud really did entertain him for the rest of the day. Aymeric still had paperwork to do, but he let Alphinaud ramble on through most of it, he replied where he needed too, but he just let Alphinaud do his own thing. For the first while it seemed that his own thing was admiring Aymeric’s office, going around ooing and aahing at this or that, asking if he could touch this or that. It was incredibly endearing, and it really did help him get his mind off of his earlier problem with his father.

The sun was starting to set when he decided it was time to get the boy home. Aymeric wasn’t even sure when Estinien got back to his house, but it was better to get Alphinaud home early so Estinien didn’t lose his mind upon seeing Alphinaud missing from where he should be.

“Hey Alphi, it’s time to get you home.”

“Will you walk me?”

“Of course. Do you have your coat or is it back up where you studied?”

Alphinaud looked down sheepishly, scratching his cheek.

“I uh, might have forgotten it entirely. I was so excited to get to lesson this morning that I rushed out of the house without thinking about it.”

Aymeric just shook his head as he pulled one arm out of his coat.

“Well I guess it’s good that you’re still small enough to be carried and my coat big enough to cover us both.”

Alphinaud pouted.

“I am not small.”

Aymeric gave him a pointed laugh, chuckling.

“Alphi, you are eight, by all means you should not be as easy to carry around as you are. Be grateful of it, you get free piggyback rides.”

Alphinaud just crossed his arms, looking away.

Aymeric rolled his eyes, suppressing another laugh. He took off his coat, placing it over Alphinaud before letting the younger boy climb onto his.

“This isn’t sharing your coat.”

“And you are much smaller and more perceptive to getting sick. It won’t kill me to walk around town without, besides, I have a long-sleeved shirt on.”

Alphinaud didn’t say anything further, just wrapping his arms around Aymeric’s neck as the other used his arms to hold his legs up. If he was being honest, Alphinaud in his coat was probably one of the cutest scenes he had ever witnessed. The thing engulfed him, and it hung extremely long on him. With the amount of time Aymeric hung out with Estinien and Alphinaud, everyone in the congregation was used to their antics, but it didn’t stop the head turns as he walked by with Alphinaud on his back, wearing his Lord Commander jacket. And despite his initial claims, Aymeric couldn’t help the shiver that ran through his body as he stepped outside. The wind had picked up, snow falling from the sky.

Alphinaud just pressed closer to him, saying nothing but letting loose an irritated sigh. Aymeric shook his head, they were only in this predicament because Alphinaud forgot his jacket in the morning, so if Alphinaud was to be upset with anyone, it should be himself. Either way, Aymeric didn’t really mind, he enjoyed Alphinaud’s company and if it meant that he got an excuse to see Estinien, despite his father’s words earlier in the day, he was going to take it.

The trek through Ishgard took a hell of a lot longer than Aymeric thought it was going too, by the time they arrived at Estinien’s house the light snowfall turned into a near blizzard, his face was freezing, and he couldn’t feel half his body. At the very least, he knew Alphinaud was warm, his coat did wonders in the Ishgardian winters. Alphinaud used his foot to kick open the door, Aymeric too stiff to try to use his own hand and balance Alphinaud as well.

Aymeric stepped inside, sighing at the heat, but then near groaning at the look he got from Estinien. Estinien walked over, gently taking Alphinaud off his back before proceeding to push Aymeric towards the bedroom, pushing him onto his bed. No words were said as Aymeric felt himself being covered by an overabundance of blankets before Estinien walked out and closed the door. Despite the fact that he was more than likely going to get a stern talking too, the blankets were warm, and he couldn’t help cuddling into them, his eyes closing.

He heard the two brothers outside talking, Estinien getting onto Alphinaud about not bringing his jacket to lessons. Alphinaud just muttered his apologies before silence took over, a couple of noises could be heard in the kitchen, but not much else before Aymeric slipped off into an unintentional nap. He woke up a while later to someone’s hand running through his hair. He felt the displacement of the bed… Estinien.

Opening his eyes, he looked at him, a small smile gracing his lips.

Estinien just sighed, shaking his head.

“Do I really need to tell you how stupid it was for you to walk all the way across Ishgard in nothing but your shirt?”

“No, not entirely, but I was not going to let Alphinaud freeze. Better it me than him.”

“While I appreciate the sentiment, I’m sure there was something you could have gotten for the boy to wear. Aymeric, you looked like you could barely move.”

“I couldn’t really.”

“Can’t you ever put yourself first?”

Aymeric’s eyes looked away. Estinien knew the answer, and he didn’t feel like voicing it himself.

“Just try, just once please. Dinner’s ready by the way.”

Aymeric sat up, leaning over to kiss Estinien gently. Estinien sighed into the kiss for a moment before pulling away, getting off the bed and heading out into the kitchen. Aymeric still wondered how he had gotten so lucky to have snagged Estinien, but he really wasn’t complaining. Getting off the bed he stretched, it was nice having the feeling in his body again. Without even thinking about, Aymeric went into the kitchen, plopping a soft kiss on Alphinaud’s head before sitting himself down. Alphinaud looked at him surprised. Estinien couldn’t help the smile that spread across his face, god he loved both of them entirely way too much.

Dinner was a pleasant event, Alphinaud talking nearly the entire time about his lessons and then roaming around Aymeric’s office. Estinien eyed him but Aymeric just shook his head. Truthfully, he shouldn’t have let Alphinaud stay up there nearly the entire day, but he didn’t care. If he was going to rebel against his father, might as well do it in full force. Estinien walked him back to the congregation, making sure both of them were well bundled before doing so. The storm outside was getting fierce and it worried him, this was the best time of any for the dragons to attack. They said goodnight to each other, a few kisses between them before they parted.


The blizzard had absolutely stopped any rebuilding on the Brume, and it was evident. Lucia was gone nearly all day for the past two weeks after the snow melted enough to make sure that the rebuilding was back on progress. Estinien was in much the same situation. From sunrise to sundown he was out, vigilant as he watched the horizon for any looming attacks. Dragons came here or there every once in a while, but it was never enough that Estinien couldn’t handle them alone. For Aymeric’s part he managed to keep his sanity cooped up in his office, he’d completely forgotten the fight with his father.

Estinien had promised to visit him that night, which Aymeric honestly wished he hadn’t said. He just kept watching the horizon, waiting for the sun to go down so he could see the silver haired dragoon he had come to enjoy the company of far too much. Alphinaud had hung out in his office every once in a while, if he didn’t feel like going home, he’d given the lift guard specific instructions to let him through if he so pleased. No one seemed to mind, as a matter of fact, having such a young spirit running through the halls of the congregation seemed to life up the knight’s spirit’s as well.

He’d often find Alphinaud entertaining them with his carbuncle, or in a heated debate over the best pastries that the Jeweled Crozier had. It truly warmed his heart to see his knights interacting with Alphinaud like he was one of their own. It also frightened him, Alphinaud almost fit in here too well. It wouldn’t be long before the boy decided that he’d had enough of Estinien’s coddling and forced his way onto the battlefield to help. He’d gotten weekly reports from Alphinaud’s teacher. The boy was progressing at an impressive pace, he’d likely be well above some of the other’s in the congregation by the years end. Still, in times like these it was important to protect oneself, self-preservation seemed to be rare around these parts, and he only hoped that Alphinaud didn’t follow in his footsteps in that regard.

Still Alphinaud was nowhere in sight and Aymeric just kept getting antsy as the sun loomed a little closer to the horizon. Gods, he likes like a young girl with a crush. It was mildly embarrassing if he were to admit it, but he wasn’t about too, and he was currently the only on in his office.

A while later a knock came to his door, bidding the knight entry.

“Lord Commander, Lucia asked me to bring you dinner this evening since she would not be able to come back in time.”

“Thank you, set it on the table to your right.”

The knight did as he was told, bowed and left.

Aymeric kept working for a while longer until his stomach bade him to quit and eat the dinner that smelled absolutely delicious. He grabbed the tray and set it down on his desk, leaning back to watch the fire flicker in the hearth as he ate. The stew was good, hearty, mildly spicy. Comforting for this cold day.
He coughed into his hand, his throat tightening ever so slightly. If he was coming down with a cold, he was going to personally fist fight the gods, he did not have time for this.

He stood, his head going fuzzy before another coughing fit attacked him, he didn’t have time to realize the blood on his hands before his world went black, falling unceremoniously to the floor.



Estinien entered the congregation, smiling as he saw his brother asleep on the chair usually reserved for Aymeric during meetings. One of the knights looked at him, shaking his head, Estinien just shrugged and turned for the lift, the operator having the door open for him already. He was excited to see Aymeric, it had been so terribly long, and he missed him, if he were to admit that to himself.

He nearly bounded down the hall, knocking on Aymeric’s door. When he didn’t hear a reply, he opened the door, looking around.

“Aymeric?”

Aymeric was nowhere to be seen, he must have gone somewhere for the moment. Deciding to just take up his place at Aymeric’s desk he walked forward, stopping when he noticed a black tuft of hair on the floor. His heart nearly burst out of his chest as he walked around the desk. Aymeric was lying there, blood pooling around his head. He knelt down, feeling for a pulse, faint, but there… He yelled.

“Get a chirurgeon, now.”

Estinien didn’t know what to do, didn’t know what to do with his body. He just knelt there, hand hovering over Aymeric’s head as he fought with himself. He knew he should be doing something, but his mind wouldn’t allow it. What happened, who did this? Was Aymeric going to be okay.

Chirurgeon’s burst through the open doorway, getting to work on getting Aymeric to the infirmary. He wasn’t even sure what to do anymore until he felt an arm on his shoulder, Lucia had come back sometime during the whole ordeal and was pulling him up. He stood, following them down the hallway. His confusion was slowly turning to anger. How could someone do this to Aymeric? The only damn good thing in this entire godforsaken city.

They hadn’t been in the infirmary for more than a moment before the call to arms came. A knight rushing in, dragons. Estinien’s anger turned fierce, he was livid. Lucia was the one to take over if Aymeric were to fall, so he let her do her job, and just ran, felling the first dragon he came across. This battle wasn’t nearly as bad as the first one he’d done with Aymeric, but it still wasn’t a jolly skip across a flowered plane. His mind could not leave Aymeric’s bloody body alone, his strikes turned more wild, not really paying attention to anything other than the rage that consumed him.

One after another dragons fell, knights fell, but Estinien didn’t seem to notice anything until a quiet fell over the battlefield, the last of the dragons turning tail and running. He didn’t wait for orders, didn’t really care at this moment, he just ran, still on an adrenaline high and not noticing the wounds on his left arm and leg until he ran into the infirmary and was quickly ushered to a bed. He didn’t notice Alphinaud sitting beside Aymeric until the boy was at his side, tears spilling down his face.

“Esti.”

Alphinaud’s tears calmed him just enough to notice the worry plain on the boy’s face. He sighed, pulling Alphinaud onto the bed, holding him with his good arm.

“Alphinaud.”

Alphinaud shook his head, crying harder.

This must have been hard for him, Aymeric was down and then he had to go and get himself hurt. He didn’t really mean too honestly, didn’t even notice it.

“Is Aymeric going to be okay?”

Estinien’s grip tightened, releasing it a little when Alphinaud squeaked.

“He has to be. We just need to believe in him.”

“Do you know what happened?”

Estinien looked down, shaking his head. He didn’t, but by the seven, when he found out who did, there would be hell to pay. Estinien was bandaged and given leave to rest at his home. The two staying with Aymeric until the Chirurgeons forced them out of the ward and towards their own homes. It was a silent walk. Alphinaud sniffling every once in a while, his hand never leaving Estinien’s. They slept in the same bed that night, Alphinaud clinging to Estinien.

The next morning the news on Aymeric was still grim. None of the chirurgeon’s could figure out what was used on him, they’d come to channeling aether through him just to keep him alive. It worried everyone, there were countless people scouring books, going city to city elsewhere to find something that acted similar, but so far, nothing worked.

Estinien ended up dropping off Alphinaud at the Fortemps manor. The younger one was not alright to be left to his own devices and he knew that Edmont would take care of him. Edmont of course took him in no questions asked. Estinien was probably the one that needed a keeper the most, but he still had a job to do, no matter how much he just wanted to be at Aymeric’s side, or how much he wanted to go out and find the antidote himself.

A few more days passed and the channeling stopping working, nothing was keeping Aymeric alive anymore, and no one was coming up with anything remotely useful. Estinien was at his wits end. The first time he had heard that Aymeric stopped breathing he had rushed so quickly to his bedside that to any one person, it looked like he had superhuman powers. Estinien’s heart broke more and more when he was with the Lord Commander. He looked so peaceful, so… content. It looked only as if he was sleeping, and not as if he was dying, and it killed Estinien. He wanted him to open those eyes, he wanted to kiss him senseless and never leave his side again.

Estinien himself had started to go to the Fortemps manor instead of his own home, Edmont didn’t mind. It was better to be with those you knew during a time like this than by yourself he’d say. Estinien was beyond grateful of his kindness but he couldn’t do more than eat dinner and go straight to bed, his mind and heart too full of unknowing and grief to think or do anything else.

If he was being honest, he was scared, scared of losing the one person he came to know so well and it hurt… It hurt that he let someone get that close to him, it hurt that he couldn’t do anything to Aymeric… and it hurt because Alphinaud had gotten so close to him, what was he going to do if the worst came? What was he going to tell him?

For the first time in his life Estinien was scared of death, and it wasn’t his own.