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If Aymeric hadn’t been haunting the chirurgeon’s offices, he would have missed the one patient he wanted to see—as it was, when he arrived at what had of-late been Estinien’s room, he was already nearly packed to go. Given that Estinien only had a handful of belongings it couldn’t have taken him long, so even a handful of moments could have meant his spiriting away in the middle of the afternoon.

“Were you not even going to leave me a note?” Aymeric asked, and Estinien froze in the midst of shoving a shirt into his bag. The Gae Bolg was propped up against the wall, clearly ready to be picked up. “I was unaware you were being allowed out of bed, let alone cleared to leave.”

When Estinien pointedly did not look back at him, Aymeric sighed, shut the door and came into the room. The other man didn’t push him off as he tugged the shirt back out of his hands, set the bag aside. He neither responded nor pulled away, and, after a moment, Aymeric set a hand atop Estinien’s shoulder. “The man I knew of late would never fain run away,” he said at last, and Estinien dropped his head with a hoarse laugh.

In the time Estinien had been not himself, his hair had gotten even longer than it had been before, and it hung down to his midback, curling slightly from being tied back while he was convalescing. Aymeric hesitated, and brushed his fingers through it—only for Estinien to lean away from him, shift out of arm’s length.

“Forgive me, Lord Commander, but I’m not the man you knew.” Estinien picked his things back up. “I’m not the man I knew.”

“Is that why you’re going to leave, then? Some kind of adventure to find who you are?” Estinien continued to not look up at him. “The Azure Dragoon may not exist in the way it did before, but that does not mean that Ishgard no longer has need of her best and brightest.” When Estinien still did not respond, Aymeric hesitated, before continuing, “That does not mean that I no longer have need of you.”

Finally, Estinien’s shoulders softened, and he sighed. “I thank you for the sentiment, Ser." He turned to face Aymeric, and it was strange, to see so much of his face after he had spent so many years with it hidden beneath the metal of his helm. Aymeric was not used to Estinien's expressions being such open books, but at the moment, he looked raw and, perhaps, frightened, and he set his hand on the other man's arm, squeezed it.

"Estinien? Is something the matter?"

"Aside from by having been recently near-dead with exhaustion after being possessed by a dread wyrm for the better part of a year?"

Aymeric resisted the urge to roll his eyes. He was too old to roll his eyes. "You know what I mean," he gentled, and sat on the edge of the bed, pushing Estinien's things aside and pulling the other man down with him. "There was a time not long past when you would have shared your burdens with me without hesitation. I had hoped that we might return to such companionship once you were freed of your bonds." Estinien seemed to be torn, at war with himself—half of him was pressing into Aymeric's space, into the warmth of his side, and the other half was pulling away, afraid even for that much touch.

"I'm not," Estinien began, and then dragged a hand over his face, his skin, still sagging with lost weight and exhaustion, stretching. Aymeric could so clearly see the hollows beneath his eyes. "Of course I want that," he murmured. This time, when Aymeric reached to take his hand, Estinien did not pull away—instead, he tangled their fingers together, leaned into his shoulder, and sighed. "But I am no longer the same man that I was before. Nidhogg—changed me."

"You must think me shallow indeed to believe I would be so base as to find you less the man I love for a few small changes," Aymeric laughed. "But cease; let me see, and I shall endeavor to remind you of your worth to me ere you depart, if you insist upon it." Estinien still seemed hesitant. "Please," Aymeric added, soft, and Estinien sighed.

"If I must."

Aymeric was not sure what he had been expecting—he had seen the scars on Estinien's forearm and shoulder that had been left behind by Nidhogg's eyes, the longer canines he'd gained from the wyrm's influence—but Estinien shrugged his shirt off, laid bare the raw, raised welts that scarred his skin where the eyes had bonded through his armor. And then he kept going, bending over to wrestle his boots free, toeing off his socks. Beneath them his toenails were now blackened claws, trimmed short. There were even some faint scales at his ankles.

And, finally, he undid the fly of his breeches, shucked them along with his smallclothes and kicked them to the floor, revealing—

"Ah," Aymeric said, after a moment. Estinien let out a short breath.

"Ah, indeed," he replied. When last they had shared a bed, Estinien had been built—well, as a man was. He still was that, certainly, but not an Elezen man. Where his cock had been before there was now a small, scaled purple barb, furled low and tucked away but unmistakably a bulge. Aymeric glanced at Estinien, to be sure he would not flinch away, and reached out.

Estinien did not stop him from touching it, hissed softly at the contact. "Does it...get hard, as it used to?"

"Truth be told, I've not tried."

"Well, then, it seems I've my work cut out for me." Aymeric undid the buttons at his collar, glad he had left off his official uniform for what was, effectively, a personal matter, and slid off the bed to the floor. Kneeling, he glanced up to Estinien—who was staring down at him, eyes wide and apparently awestruck—and rolled his sleeves up. It seemed despite whatever draconic change had overcome Estinien's cock was certainly fully functional as such, because it was already getting larger, burgeoning beneath his touch. As it filled Aymeric's hands, unfolding, scales rolling into place, Estinien shifted, flustered.

It seemed that in a matter of minutes it had gone from a scaled nub, cleverly tucked close to the base of the stomach for protection, to Aymeric sitting between Estinien's knees, holding the strangest cock he'd ever seen in his life. It was larger than Estinien's own flesh-and-blood one had been, thicker about the base, curved up at the tip to point backwards. Halfway up the scales faded into hide, ridged and roughened with what seemed to be barbs. Or, at least, scales that were oddly placed, and uncomfortably sharp-looking.

Aymeric wrapped his hand around the middle of Estinien's cock, and started by stroking from tip to root, following the grain of the scales, before doing so in reverse; more careful this time, avoiding rucking them the wrong direction. When he reached the tip, Aymeric brushed his thumb over it—found that, instead of rounded like an Elezen's cock was, this dragon dick was pointed, drew to a taper at the end, with a wider flare and a deeper slit, almost wide enough that he could slide his fingertip into it. The more he stroked it, the hotter it became, and Estinien kept trying to bite back noises, leaning back on one elbow and watching him.

"Is it too much?" Aymeric asked, the third time that Estinien bit back something like a moan, and he got a wide-eyed stare in return.

"Not enough," Estinien murmured.

"Much obliged," Aymeric huffed it under his breath, smiling, and pulled Estinien to the edge of the mattress. His cock was just long enough that seated fully on the floor Aymeric could not comfortably get his mouth around the head, so he rolled up and stood full on his knees, took the head in his mouth. Now, the scalding heat of it was fully on display, a burn against his tongue and the roof of his mouth not unlike that of fresh coffee. It tasted completely foreign; rather a little like leather and more like cinders, and the sharp underside of the ridge of the glans was rough enough that Aymeric accidentally dragged his teeth over it.

Estinien shook, trembling with the force of his noise, so Aymeric did it again with intent, first the gentle drag of teeth and then biting down around the underside of the glans as gently as he could, sinking his teeth in. Dragonhide was a much thicker substance than skin, so it made sense it needed more stimulation, and Estinien cursed as he did it again, letting his molars brush the sensitive head. Curious, Aymeric pressed his tongue into the wide-open slit, into the passage there, and Estinien jumped on the bed, grabbed reflexively at the back of his neck.

“What,” Estinien started to say, as Aymeric tongue-fucked the open, hungry gape of his slit, fingernails scratching over his scalp. His voice cracked as he tried to continue speaking, choking on, “Are you doing,” but Aymeric was focused entirely on his task, taking to it with gusto. He squeezed the base of Estinien’s cock as he lapped at the slit, and the squeeze made something slide up the length of it, burst like a bubble onto Aymeric’s tongue.

It was pre, he was almost certain, but thicker and more viscous than he had expected, and hotter, too, that same fresh-made coffee burn. It tasted almost metallic and somewhat of ash, bitter, and when Aymeric swallowed it it warmed him all the way down. Without meaning to, he moaned, the vibrations surrounding Estinien’s cockhead and making his his jerk up off the bed, grabbing reflexively at the back of Aymeric’s skull. Now his slit was wider, looser, and Aymeric could slide his tongue almost all the way in, feel the heat of Estinien’s cock around him.

“Aymeric,” Estinien finally cracked. He was shaking. “Please.”

Aymeric pulled back, out of breath, his own flesh-and-blood erection pulsing in his smallclothes, and he pushed his hair out of his face, looked at Estinien’s cock again. It was even bigger now, certainly longer than his forearm in total, the slit oozing what Aymeric belatedly realized was purple pre, dripping down the length. The base had swollen, too, the barbs on the side partly raised, and Aymeric, curious, dragged his hand up the length, brushed them in reverse. They weren’t sharp, per se, merely sturdy, and it felt like they would not be willing to reverse direction easily. Estinien’s entire cock was getting wider, so with the barbs raised it was easily bigger around than his fist at the widest two spots, in the middle and the base.

For a moment, as Estinien lay sprawled half-back on one elbow, Aymeric considered the possibility that he might not be able to take it. Then, he reconsidered. They had never been much a couple for either one way or the other in the past, trading off as the need struck them, but Estinien was clearly terrified Aymeric would not be able to take him, and Aymeric fucking him, while a simpler setup, would like as not be unhelpful. No, that was not what Estinien needed.

“Is there something here we can use?” Aymeric asked, unbuttoning his shirt the rest of the way, casting it onto the floor behind him and shrugging out of his undershirt. Estinien took a moment, eyes blown wide with arousal, to recognize what he was asking, and then shifted to the bedside table and started to fumble until he found something, pulled it free. Standing to get his trousers off, Aymeric went and made certain the door was locked, then pulled free the curtains to cover the window. He struggled his boots off and took his trousers with them, shook free his smallclothes and came back to the bed.

Estinien had two fingers slick and was already reaching behind himself. Aymeric only barely caught his hand at the wrist before he pressed his fingers into himself. “I think you misunderstood,” he murmured, leaning one knee onto the mattress and climbing over Estinien, straddling his thighs just below the long, dripping line of his burning-hot cock. “I have no intention of not being up for this challenge. Should it prove to be too much, we can always solve it some other way.” Estinien stared at him, his eyes wide, his mouth open and panting. His lips were red from biting them, and Aymeric dragged him over, one hand knotted in his long hair as Estinien’s fingers pressed back behind him.

He wasn’t sure which happened first: Estinien’s fingers pressing into him, three at once, or Aymeric kissing him, but it hardly mattered. What did matter was the feeling of it, of Estinien in him again, at last, at last, and the pressure of those swollen lips on his own. With Estinien’s cock pressed up between them, the tip oddly high on Aymeric’s stomach, above his navel—he tried not to think too hard about how deep it would go in him—it was even better, Estinien wheezing into his mouth as the rapid rise and fall of their chests as they panted granted him friction, Aymeric’s own cock dwarfed even as it butted halfway up Estinien’s, his tip red and his slit dripping.

They had been almost the same length before.

“Aymeric,” Estinien whispered, when he clenched down on the two fingers within him, dragging his nails down Estiien’s chest, over some of the scarring that stretched from his shoulder, made Estinien shudder. “Your stomach.”

Aymeric glanced down at the jagged scar that had healed ill on his abdomen. “It’s hardly a trifle,” he replied, rocking back on the fingers within him as Estinien added a third. “You would not believe the hysterics over the injury, but it healed fine.”

“I hardly care about that,” Estinien hissed it, grabbed Aymeric’s shoulder with his free hand and kissed him, desperate. “I abandoned you. I left you, in your hour of greatest need.”

“You hardly were willing, I do not fault you.”

“I fault me,” Estinien said, into their kisses, and Aymeric pressed their foreheads together, laughed into his mouth.

“Learn to bathe, my knight. Save us all a great deal of trouble the next time around.” Estinien dragged out on his rim in rebuke, and Aymeric felt his breath tremble, reached himself for the oil, slicked his fingers. Two was fine, and he reached behind himself, slid them in next to Estinien’s and shuddered at the strain on his rim, pressed his face into the powerful muscle at the slope of Estinien’s shoulder, bit down on it to muffle the noise that threatened low in the back of his throat.

Estinien pulled his fingers out, got more oil, came back with four fingers and the full width of his knuckles tantalizing at the edge of Aymeric’s rim. “That’s enough,” he gasped, voice shaking. More than enough, he was almost certain.

“Are you certain?” Estinien was watching him wide-eyed, trembling. They both looked down at his cock. As aroused as he was, the head had expanded flaring at the glans, the slit pouting. His base was practically a knot certainly bigger than Aymeric’s fist. “You can still—“

“I know what I’m doing,” Aymeric replied, with far more surety than he felt. But he had always enjoyed it rougher, loved the strength Estinien had gained in his time as Azure Dragoon, the way the other man would hold him down upon the occasion and ride him until his arse would hurt for days, his scalp would prickle. So this would certainly only be better, he was almost sure of it—if they could make it fit. “Lay down,” he murmured, pressing back on Estinien’s shoulder until his back hit the pillows, his hair scattered all around his face and sticking to his shoulders and chest with sweat, his cock standing proud and dripping between his thighs. “Hold the base for me.”

It took the both of them to do it, Estinien holding the bottom of his cock. It got slightly smaller as he did so, arousal lifting for the sheer absurdity of the mechanics of sex, his other hand balancing Aymeric’s thigh, while Aymeric leaned over him. But they got it, finally, Aymeric spreading himself as he pressed the tip against his hole. Less rounded than an Elezen’s cock, it slid in easier, didn’t need to stretch until it hit the base of the glans. As loose as they had gotten Aymeric even that wasn’t too hard, and he bit his lip as the hard edge hit his rim, ground back on it, felt himself stretch.

It popped in, and they both moaned.

“You’re burning,” Aymeric murmured, swallowing. He felt so open inside, his rim not able to close back up around the rest of Estinien’s cock with that impossibly broad glans within him. Hesitant, he slid up, felt it drag against his rim from within, and shut his eyes as he pushed back down, felt it hilt up into him more. He bit back a noise as he felt something gush into him, and Estinien whined, a noise wholly unlike anything he had ever made before, his hands atop Aymeric’s hips trembling.

More of that same pre from before, but inside Aymeric it was almost like boiling, and it pumped into him, slicked him better than any oil ever had. The next thrust down and Estinien slid up into him deeper, the rough grain of the hide of his cock like sandpaper against his rim but fantastic, fantastic, with every ilm. Aymeric could hardly stop himself, not taking the time he had expected to need, the way eased by the pre Estinien’s own body was supplying.

He felt like his hole was looser than it should have been, his muscles lax and easy. His balls, drawn up hard and tight, were trembling and tingling with the heat in the base of his stomach. He could hardly stop pushing down for a moment, even as he felt full and fuller, desperate for the entire length of Estinien within him. “This should not be so easy,” Aymeric half-laughed. He should have been too tight, but whatever it was that Estinien’s cock kept filling him with was doing the work of weeks of stretching, and Estinien was sliding almost impossibly deep into his body, pushing deeper than Aymeric had ever taken a cock, until he felt like he was choking at the back of his throat. Estinien’s cock was so hot inside him, and yet there was still more coming, the flared head pushing its way, invading deeper into his bowels, rearranging him to fit. Aymeric could hardly breathe, even when he slid further downward and moaned helplessly as the spines popped inside him, their ridge dragging strangely at his rim.

Left untouched, his cock hung heavy and dripping, and Aymeric barely spared a thought for it, too focused on the pleasure of being what felt like broken-open by Estinien’s length. He was almost at the base now, the full width of that knot beginning to press up into his rim, and it felt—

“Aymeric,” Estinien’s voice cracked. He looked wild-eyed, striking and close, so close. “You can’t possibly,” he tried, and Aymeric bit back a moan as Estinien dragged his fingertips around the width of his rim, feeling the stretch. It did burn, an ache that had settled low in the muscle, even as his body gave way for more and more of the impossible length of Estinien’s cock it still had to widen for it. “I’ll tear you.”

“I can make that decision for myself,” Aymeric reminded him, rocking back and back, breathing deep and even to relax himself as he focused on forcing himself to open, to take that knot. He desperately wanted it within him—at first, it had been a desire to prove to Estinien that he was not as unwanted as he thought, that Aymeric could take him. Then, it had become a challenge. Now, he was hungry. His body felt like it was crying out, that he could not possibly go on without that knot in him no matter the effort it took to get it in. He had to have it, had to feel Estinien stretch him so wide he’d never possibly close up again, to feel Estinien’s cock literally invade and rearrange and conquer.

And it happened. In single, gasping breaths it happened. It happened. Aymeric opened, and Estinien hilted, and when he was able to drop that last little bit, to feel his rim peel open around the impossible, boiling heat of the knot at the base of Estinien’s cock, so Aymeric could feel the full length of it pressing up his spine and almost into the back of his throat, painfully deep within him.

When he settled with his arse to Estinien’s thighs, it was all Aymeric could do to gasp. He felt—so full.

“I can see it,” Estinien whispered, and he glanced down, followed the other man’s gaze to his own abdomen. There was a bulge, a lump, halfway up his stomach, and Aymeric shuddered, clenching reflexively, lifted his hand to press to it. Estinien yelped and Aymeric himself shook, gasping open-mouthed at the pressure he could feel within him.

That was Estinien’s cock. And having it so deep—it should have hurt, and yet, and yet, and yet, he was still full of that hot pre, that thick, viscous slick making his body open just like he wanted to.

Well, at least Aymeric now understood more about how dragons mated now. More than he had ever expected to understand. More, in fact, than he was sure he wanted to understand.

When he finally felt comfortable, Aymeric pulled up slightly, as far as he could comfortably go, his thighs trembling. It was not far, and still a great deal of Estinien’s cock remained embedded in him, the head just barely feeling like it was peeling back out. When his thighs gave up he dropped down, hard, and threw his head back blindly gasping.

It was a far cry from riding, what he did then. It was more bouncing as best as possible, slicking off and back onto Estinien’s knot, the tapered head of his cock thrusting halfway between the pain of a dagger and the pleasure of an orgasm within him. Every motion ground the knot inexorably, impossibly, into his prostate, until he could hardly see with it. He felt so full, so full of slick, and there was no stop to it—every time he pulled up more puddled beneath him, sliding down Estinien’s base to stick to his stomach.

At some point, Aymeric came, without even really meaning to, shuddering and whining atop Estinien, ducking his head into the hand that the other man pressed to his cheek. When he sat up, his cock slipped deeper into him, and Aymeric sobbed aloud, scrabbled at Estinien’s shoulders for something to hold onto as the other man grabbed his hips, hands slid lower to grasp the tops of his thighs.

“Think it’s safe for me to come in you?” Estinien asked.

“We shan’t know unless we try.”

Estinien moaned into his mouth, and took his pleasure then, thrusting as deep into Aymeric as he could go, until he was choking on it, unable to breathe from the pressure within him. It was not long until he shuddered, dragging Aymeric closer, biting at his lip as he tensed, and his knot grew, the barbs higher up unfurling just at the angle that they hooked on something tighter within him, deep enough that Aymeric yelped, shaking, his prostate crushed by the width of Estinien’s knot.

Something within Estinien tensed, and surged, and Aymeric took in a quick breath as something pushed within him. Estinien was trembling almost as hard as he was, and weaker, too. Aymeric held the other man to his chest, fingers pressed flat against the base of his neck, as they both were locked together, experiencing—everything. Everything, so much of everything.

“Aymeric,” Estinien sobbed, and then that something burst free, and it was nothing like Estinien coming inside him had ever felt before. It was almost more like a flood, filling him until he felt bloated, thicker than semen. Thicker, even, than the lube of his pre. And hot, so hot that Aymeric felt almost lightheaded.

Something felt strange on his abdomen, and Aymeric glanced down, gasped, as his stomach, slightly distended from the weight of Estinien’s cock and come within him, put the scar from his stab wound on stark display. And it was vanishing, clearing away. “Estinien,” Aymeric touched the side of his cheek. “Look.” Indeed, as they sat there, Estinien buried within him, stuck on his knot and his barbs, the injury that Aymeric had taken of late disappeared completely, gone.

“What,” Estinien finally managed, tongue leaden in his mouth. Aymeric laughed, sort of, and then wheezed when it was too much for his sore body. He leaned back against Estinien, one arm slung around his neck.

“Pray don’t question it too much,” Aymeric told him, gently. “I suppose you have more powers than you thought. Whatever that may mean.”

“So the next time you get hurt, what am I to do, come in you?"

Aymeric laughed. “I cannot think of any reason I would say no.”