Although the war was over, there was still plenty of work that needed to be done to unite F ó dlan and take out Those Who Slither in the Dark. As a result, Hubert found himself seeing his beloved Ferdinand less and less. It was just one assignment after another, and stacks of paperwork and arrangements that needed to be made and filed in between. Even though the two had since moved into the Vestra estate together, by the time they were both home, they wanted to do nothing more than eat and sleep. The two had not even had enough time to spare a moment for a coffee or tea time with one another. As much as Hubert was a workaholic and wanted nothing more than to see her majesty succeed, this schedule was becoming too much for even him to bear.
Falling in love with the one and only Ferdinand von Aegir had been both a blessing and a curse on poor Hubert. He now had someone to come home to, someone to miss while he was away and should be working. Ferdinand was a distraction and Hubert had found himself thinking of him at some quite inappropriate times, but at the end of the day he knew he would get to go home and lie in bed with him. He would get to be kissed by him, loved by him. He would get a side of Ferdinand that was reserved only for him, much like a side only Ferdinand would get of him. However, this only made the countless hours of extra work that needed to be done all the more frustrating. Hubert wished to be home with Ferdinand, not hunched over his desk trying to piece together what “noble” needed what, watching as the sun set and the evening hours rolled in.
There was a knock on the door of his office, pulling him from his, admittedly distracting, thoughts of his beloved. Before getting a chance to respond however, the door was opened and in walked Ferdinand, immediately bringing a smile to Hubert’s tired face.
“What brings you here, my love? Has it truly reached that late of an hour that you must fish me from my work and take me home?” Hubert asked, although he was sure it had not gotten that late.
“Unfortunately not,” Ferdinand replied with a pout. “For I still have quite the amount of work to finish myself.”
“Oh? Then to what do I owe this distraction?” Hubert continued as he put down his quill and rested his elbows on his desk, chin resting on his hands.
Ferdinand let out an exaggerated sigh as he walked over to Hubert and took a seat in his lap, stealing a quick kiss from his lips. “Can’t a man just take a quick break with his beloved before a long night of work?”
“Not when that man’s usual definition of a quick break is sex over a desk covered in important paperwork, leaving his beloved to rewrite it all all night,” Hubert remarked. He tried to sound annoyed, but failed. How could he not with the embodiment of sunshine seated in his lap.
“How unnoble,” Ferdinand gasped. “I would never suggest such a thing… again.”
Ferdinand pressed another kiss to Hubert’s lips. It was chaste, no lust or hunger and yet, it brought forth a warmth in Hubert’s heart that only Ferdinand could unlock. Every kiss, every smile, every action Ferdinand pointed in Hubert’s direction was always so full of love and admiration. A Hubert of the past would find it sickening, but this one sought for it.
The moment was over far too soon as Ferdinand stood up from Hubert’s lap. He took one of Hubert’s hands into his own. “Do not pout,” he said. “Come, you’ve probably been seated in that chair for far too long. Share a dance with me.”
“A dance?” Hubert questioned even as he stood from his chair. “But if I’m not mistaken, we do not have any music.”
“Who says you need music to dance?” Ferdinand said as he pulled Hubert to the open space in the middle of the office.
Ferdinand wasted no time pulling Hubert flush against him and placing a hand to his lower back. Hubert easily fell into place with one hand in Ferdinand’s and the other rested on his shoulder as Ferdinand led their little dance, which was nothing more than the two swaying side to side.
“Do you remember how I officially began my courtship of you?” Ferdinand asked.
The two had essentially been together before the courting had started. They had already been giving each other gifts and had had sex on the rare occasion, but Ferdinand, being the noblest of nobles that he is, insisted on an actual courtship. Their “relationship” before had been secret, although they saw their more intimate moments to be nothing more than a shameful release. Ferdinand however, was going to make his courtship public. He was going to make it grand and special as a noble should and decided to begin that grand gesture on the day of her majesty’s wedding of all days.
Hubert chuckled. “I do believe you asked me to share a dance with you. The last one of the evening in fact.”
“Yes, and you confessed to me that you did not know how to dance,” Ferdinand replied. “Do you remember what I told you then?”
“You told me not to worry because you would lead,” Hubert said with a smile. “And you’ve led every dance since, though we haven’t had much opportunity to dance.”
Ferdinand sighed and pulled Hubert’s head down so their foreheads could press together. “And what a shame that is.”
There was a silence between them as they swayed to the music in their heads. Everything was calm, peaceful. A moment in which Hubert would have never even dreamed of just two years prior. He had been in love, but not to Ferdinand. It was unrequited and, looking back, he feels that is how he wanted it to remain. Back then, he would not have wanted moments like these. He never wanted to act out on his love, just remain by her side. Ferdinand changed that, he softened the poor fool. Hubert now hoped for moments like these. He longed for the warmth in his chest whenever he and Ferdinand were together. Ferdinand made him feel that perhaps the world did not rest upon his shoulders, and even if he did, Ferdinand would help him carry the burden.
Hubert could have remained in this position forever. Foreheads touching, chests pressed against one another, fingers laced together. Hubert was utterly in love and this was all he wanted, now and forever.
“Hubert,” Ferdinand whispered, breaking the lovely silence. “I wish to marry you.”
Hubert was taken aback. “What?” He knew courting was a pursuit of marriage, but he never truly believed he would hear the words from Ferdinand’s mouth.
Ferdinand took a step back and got down on one knee, pulling a simple golden ring from his pocket. “Hubert von Vestra, would you do me the honor of becoming my husband?”
Hubert instinctively put a hand over his mouth and turned his head to the side. He could not find a response, he was still in shock from the question itself.
Ferdinand stood back up and pulled Hubert close again, fingers brushing up and down Hubert’s sides. “I know your love and emotions are strange and complicated,” Ferdinand said softly, “but I wish to have every bit of them..” Ferdinand pulled Hubert’s face so he was facing him and wiped a tear away with his thumb. He had seen Hubert cry before, but it was not an often occurrence. However, he knew that at this very moment, the tears were just from Hubert being overwhelmed by his own feelings. Ferdinand smiled fondly at the memory of Hubert’s almost identical face the first time they truly made love, tears and all.
With Ferdinand’s thumb brushing against his cheek, Hubert finally spoke. “It will spoil your reputation,” was all he said.
“You know as well as I that I no longer have a reputation,” Ferdinand replied. He placed a kiss upon Hubert’s chin and smiled. “You must also realize your own worth to the empire. If reputation was still truly involved, I would still proudly marry you.”
“Just say yes,” Ferdinand continued. “You know it is also what you want and I can assure you, I won’t take no for an answer. If you say no now, I’ll just need to try harder to sway you.”
Ferdinand grabbed Hubert’s hand and slipped the ring onto his gloved finger. He then pressed a kiss to his knuckles. “I love you more than I could ever express Hubert,” he said. “I need you as much as I need my next breath. Let us step into the future together as one and create a legacy all our own. Just this once, do as your own heart wishes.”
Hubert looked down at the ring on his finger and smiled. After a moment of silence, he sighed. “I suppose if there was one person I’d want to marry, it would be you,” he said. He leaned down and kissed Ferdinand’s lips. Without pulling away he added, “Yes, I will marry you.”
Their lips met again as Ferdinand wrapped his arms around Hubert’s neck. “I can not even begin to express how happy that makes me,” he sighed.
“I must admit,” Hubert started, “I had always assumed that if you were to ever propose to anyone, it would be some grand gesture for all to see.”
“While that is definitely more my style, it is not yours,” Ferdinand replied. “I know you will have some reason to keep our engagement a secret for a time and I will just cater to your wants so that you will have to cater to my later.”
“Oh? And what might those wants be?” Hubert questioned.
“Why, our wedding of course! Perhaps I will finally be able to exceed her majesty. We shall hold a grand wedding ceremony, maybe during the Great Tree Moon between our birthdays,” Ferdinand stated. “And perhaps we could host a ball after the ceremony. Oh, it is going to be such a wondrous event, that much is certain.”
“But most importantly, you will be there, with a smile upon your face,” Ferdinand added. “And I will be smiling as well, although right now, I do not think I will stop smiling until the day I die.”
“I think you’re being over-dramatic now,” Hubert said.
“I might be, but I also might not be. That is for you to decide,” Ferdinand said as he rested his head on Hubert’s shoulder.
Hubert brushed his fingers through Ferdinand’s silky hair as they stood in silence. He was at peace. He was… happy. He had not realized how much he truly wished to marry Ferdinand himself until he was proposed to. Ferdinand had changed him, but it was for the better. Hubert could now envision himself in a life where he does not always have to hide in the shadows. A life where he could show his love and affection to Ferdinand without fear of it causing the loss of him. Soon, Those Who Slither in the Dark will be gone and his war will be over. Then, he could settle down and make a life with Ferdinand.
“I love you, Ferdinand.”
“And I love you. Come, let us head home. We can finish our work tomorrow. I wish to give you a proper engagement gift,” Ferdinand said as he took Hubert’s hand.
Hubert did not protest. He blew out the candle on his desk and let Ferdinand lead him from the room. He was sure her majesty would understand. He had already followed his heart once this evening, so where was the harm in doing so once more…