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Fuel for the Fire

Chapter Text

“You want to what?”

Artorias had to bite back the sigh that wished to escape him at the skeptical and disbelief that colored the tone of the knight commander's question. Instead, he simply repeated his request, taking the time to say it a little bit more enunciated.

“If you are going off to hunt this day, I asked if I could come with you? Tis been a rather slow few days and if I am to be put on another day guarding nothing but air, I'm afraid I might go mad with boredom,”

Ornstein let out a sigh, the only reaction able to be gleamed from the knight as the snarling visage of his helm hid his expression and his body language remained poised and erect as always, one hand curled about his ever present spear.

“That's what I thought you said.”

Artorias had to fight the urge to slouch at such a reaction but he did little to keep from more or less pouting behind the hood covering his own face as he responded, “Is there something strange about this request?”

“Artorias, I do not doubt your prowess as a knight but dragon hunting is, well, it is a complicated art. It is not something you simply pick up without effort. We dragon slayers have honed our techniques over countless battles. These beasts are not just easy prey for any would-be hunter.”

Artorias crossed his arms, “You aren't going to even hunt real dragons as you did in the past. They are wyverns at best are they not? I'm sure I can handle myself just fine. After all, I tangle with monstrosities countless. What difference is there in a dragon?”

“More than you would think,” Ornstein drawled as he leaned against his spear. “Hubris is not a friend to a dragon hunter. Those who do rarely live to see a second hunt.”

“Shall I then cast aside my pride then and beg thee on bent knee, oh commander, and beg thee to take me with you on your hunt?” Artorias asked.

Ornstein chuckled some, his posture relaxing some, “Possibly but I wouldn't hold your breath. A dragon hunt is not something undertaken lightly. This time it is a matter of security.”

“So a mission. A quest that calls upon your skills to handle. Ah, but surely you would not go alone yes? Tis always best to take company with you when brushing with dangers that threaten the kingdom, lord Ornstein.”

That earned a laugh from the lion and he shook his head, “Imagine that! The lone wolf of Anor Londo, he who would rush off into battle alone every chance he gets telling me I should not go alone against a beast I am a familiar enemy of! Truly you are in a fine mood to jest, Lord Artorias!”

Artorias couldn't help but slouch his shoulders this time, all but sulking but really there was no proper retort to the knight-commander's teasing. Really he did often run off alone on missions, much to the chagrin of his companions and he was always armed with a thousand one excuses as to why he had to undertake the mission alone.

“Ornstein, I never ask much of you do I?” Artorias finally asked when Ornstein's laughter had died down some.

“You do not,” The lion knight agreed.

“So if I were to ask you of this one favor, to allow me to go with you, would you truly say no? May I just go to watch if only to relieve part of my boredom?”

This time Ornstein tilted his head, clearly considering Artorias's words before he heaved a sigh, “I only say yes because I know you will pester me eternally about not taking you for days to come and I would rather not endure such a fate.”

“Be that the reason or not, I could care little,” Artorias smiled beneath his hood, his posture straightening up a bit, “I am just glad you are allowing me the honor to go with thee on this quest.”

“Go with, but not to fight. You can watch me and perhaps next time I'll let you wet your blade upon a dragon's hide,” Ornstein said, his tone taking on that slight edge of command he used when giving orders.

Artorias only nodded eagerly, “Of course. I promise only to watch.”

Ornstein snorted, straightening up and hefting his spear as he turned on his heels, “Aye, but your promises are like the brittle wings of a butterfly. Easily torn and made useless.”

“You wound me Lord Ornstein! When have I ever broken my word?” Artorias protested, falling into step beside the lion knight as they headed down the hallway.

“Would you like me to answer that because I do recall you promising you would not engage at the battle of the crimson hill and I look over and there you are, charging the enemy,” Ornstein drawled, “Or perhaps that time we were in negotiations with the witches and you promised not to wander off and lo and behold you come bursting in half dressed and drugged on some sort of incessant, wailing about how a group of witches nearly bedded you?”

“I kept my word! The enemy charged first in that first case. I was merely defending myself and in the second case well,” Artorias could feel his cheeks heating up, “I was not prepared for the wiles and charm of witches and their conniving ways! I thought it was an exchange of culture!”

“Oh, I'm sure they wanted to exchange quiet a bit of 'culture' with you,” Ornstein drawled.

Artorias let out a groan, shoulders slumping forward, “Point is, I kept my word and I will keep it again now.”

“We shall see.”

Ornstein came to a halt and turned towards Artorias, letting the end of his spear thump against the floor lightly, “I will meet you in tomorrow morning at the gate as the first rays of the sun touch the land. Do not be late and remember your word,” the knight-commander raised a finger to point at Artorias, a clear warning in his voice, “You are not to engage the dragon. You are simply coming to observe. Understood?”

“As clear as the rivers of Londor good commander,” Artorias answered, giving a polite bow. “I will be there at the appointed time and will keep close to my word as I always do.”

Ornstein eyed Artorias for a moment longer before giving a snort and turning to head on his way leaving the wolf knight standing there, carefully contemplating the supplies he would need to bring on this outing. Already Artorias could feel a giddy sort of excitement taking root in his soul. For one thing he was getting out of the city once more to stretch is legs, this time with expressed permission. On another point though, he would be getting to go with the commander whom, to be honest, he perhaps was a bit fond of.

Ornstein certainty wasn't the usual sort of knight. Commanding and loyal true, but far less social or good humored, more prone to exasperated sighs and quiet glares of agitation. A fascinating man who very few knew him well and those that did rarely spoke of the man behind the legends. That air of mystery just had the abysswalker all the more interested in learning more about his fellow knight and this trip would be a perfect excuse.

He allowed himself a smile before heading towards the armory. There was much to prepare for and little time to do so. Tomorrow would soon be upon them and he didn't want to disappoint.

After all, he wanted to make a good impression upon the knight-commander for their first dragon hunt together.

~*~~*~

The roar of the dragon echoed in the air, crashing in around it seemed from every direction like an all consuming avalanche of pure rage and Artorias found himself at least conceding on one point to Ornstein from their shared words the day before: Dragon slaying truly was an art form that an amateur shouldn't' stumble into.

However he would not concede on the point that he had somehow broken his word by engaging with said dragon that was now bearing down on him with all intent to roast him alive or crush him into a bloody pulp beneath its feet. The dragon had attacked first and he was merely defending himself. The monstrous beast hat turned its gaze upon him first and he had seen the challenge in its eyes and had of course answered the call.

Ornstein could curse and holler all he wanted about it being a reckless charge forward, that he was being nothing more than a poorly trained, overly eager hunting dog sniffing his first prey and tearing off into the woods but Artorias knew the truth. The dragon bared its fangs and he bared his sword back and so they were enemies.

Well, in a matter of speaking.

After that first charge, Artorias found himself running and dodging more than actually landing a hit against the savage brute, sometimes feeling the heat of fire come so close to hitting him he could swore it was trying to cook him alive in his own armor somehow. He had managed so far a few small hits against the beast's hide, superficial wounds that only served to enrage it. He wasn't even providing a good distraction for Ornstein, the dragon slayer cursing as he ducked and weaved, deceptively nimble on his feet as he tried to get in close to land a killing blow on the beast. Whatever carefully laid plan Ornstein had had for this fight had been thrown out the window when Artorias had rushed in without much of a clue to what he wanted to achieve other than victory.

The dragon though was far too angry and riled up to let anyone close. For such a huge creature it was able to whirl about quiet fast, tail lashing out and claws at the ready to swipe at the smaller prey dancing in its shadow. Fire and teeth snapped close at the heels of the gods and so far Ornstein had only managed a few devastating blows against its wings, lightning ripping the delicate membranes to shreds and at least grounding the dragon.

Still, it fought ferociously and Artorias was finding a new respect for those that bore the title of dragon slayer.

Artorias threw himself forward into a roll, coming up and turning to gauge where the dragon is only to be forced into another rolling dodge as fire laced towards him. He grimaced, trying to circle around and back towards where Ornstein was worrying the dragon's flank.

“A rather riled up beast we have found, haven't we?” Artorias called out as he brought his shield up to parry against a swipe of the beasts claws, feeling his whole arm jolt under the hit.

“Oh it wasn't like that before you came charging in at it!”

The wolf knight winced, just a bit, at the aggravation clear in Ornstein's tone as his lighting spear ripped through scales and flesh sending the dragon howling away with a new cut along its lank, its tale lashing out towards the knight- commander who quickly dodged.

“It attacked first!”

“Less talk and more concentrating on the fight!”

Artorias gritted his teeth, all set to retort only for the dragon's tail to come swinging back suddenly his way. He managed to get his shield up in time to take the brunt of the hit but the large appendage still sent him flying across the ground, landing heavily on his back and skidding across the ground. He winced, feeling his whole arm throb before suddenly a crushing wait was set upon him. Panic rose up hot in Artorias's chest and it was his honed instincts and impressive strength that saved him from being crushed by the paw of the dragon slamming down on him. He managed to get the shield up between them, dropping his sword in order to use both hands in trying to repel the beast.

It was just enough strength though to stop the paw's descent for now, but even Artorias knew he would not be able to hold it indefinitely and already his shield was inching back towards him as shaking arms strained, all but ready to snap and allow for a swift, messy death, splattered below the massive paw of the savage beast.

Artorias though did not stand alone and above the din of the dragon's roar was the crack of lightning and roar of thunder before the beast was staggering away, shrieking in alarm. The spear of the knight was embedded into the neck of the beast, lightning racing along the spear and into the wound sending lethal waves of electricity through the dragon's hide. The dragon wailed in alarm, trying to pull away even as Ornstein held onto the spear, keeping his footing on the ground as he rammed it further in.

The dragon's own weight became its enemy as it staggered, falling back and giving Ornstein more leverage to bear it to the ground, one armored clad foot coming down hard on its windpipe,crushing the passage of air to its lungs. The spear savaged itself deeper beneath the hide, ripping muscle apart and flooding more blood into the beast's throat as it let out wheezing, watery gasps of life.

Artorias sat up slowly, arms aching as the dragon gave a final pitiful flail before shuddering and going still. Ornstein was panting hard, leaned over on his spear for a few moments before stepping back, letting go of the spear.

“I told you to only watch.”

“It attacked first.”

Ornstein let out an aggravated sigh, looking over at his companion, “Are you at least all right?”

“Sore, a bit shaken but it takes more than that to put me down for long,” Artorias answered, wincing as he set his shield down, rubbing at his forearm, “But ah, I can see what you mean about dragon slaying being an art. You make it look easy.”

That earned a slight chuckle from Ornstein as he pulled his spear from the dragon and turned fully towards Artorias, “It would have been a better sight to witness if you had only watched.”

“And leave such a lovely knight as yourself to fight alone and risk injury? Perish the thought!” Artorias gave a vague wave of his hand as he approached the knight-commander. “Besides, it seemed to want to bite me quiet a bit.”

“I can't imagine why. Perhaps it was as annoyed with you as I am,” Ornstein drawled.

Artorias deflated just a bit at the comment, glancing away, “I did not mean to annoy you Lord Ornstein just-”

“Don't apologize. In a strange way, your vexing ways keep my life interesting at least,” Ornstein paused to look back at the dragon. “That hunt was rather exciting. More so than hunts I've had in the past few months. Far more chaotic at the very least and far from routine.”

“Truly?”

Artorias was glad for the hood of his armor that masked his bewildered expression as Ornstein nodded. He could almost feel a smile lurking behind the snarling helm the knight-commander wore. Carefully, the dragonslayer approached the abysswatcher, moving to pat the taller knight on the shoulder.

“And for a first hunt, you did rather well. At least kept yourself alive. I did not think you so skilled at fleeing for your life as you were charging in recklessly,”

That had Artorias blinking some in confusion as his mind slowly realized that Ornstein was perhaps, dare he say, teasing him. The smile on his face was shown more in how Artorias's entire posture perked up and he raised a hand to touch the one on his shoulder, chuckling softly, “I am a god of many skills, my lord. Perhaps if we endeavor to hunt together more often, you shall see what else I can offer.”

Ornstein chuckled, “Well next time we go on a hunt, lets endeavor for smaller prey for you and work up to larger beasts such as dragons, eh?”

Artorias laughed, giving a nod of his head as he leaned a bit into the touch of the other, feeling a tingle of warmth as he felt Ornstein's grip tighten, “I would like that. I would like that a lot. Perhaps as we hunt together we could learn a bit more about each other.”

“I would like that as well. You are a rather unique knight. A unique god for that matter,” Ornstein's hand remained on his shoulder, lingering before reluctantly he pulled it away, “But for now, how say you to carrying my trophy back for all the trouble you caused me?”

“Oh I suppose I shall or you will be using this whole event against me somehow,” Artorias said with an exaggerated sigh.

Perhaps the hunt did not go as well as planned in his mind, but at the very least, there was something gained.

That small lift of nervous hope and giddy anticipation taking root in his soul at what they could discover about each other after all was more than worth the disastrous performance of today.

Chapter Text

Artorias, for all his prowess in battle and his soft-spoken ways when dealing with the smaller folk , was perhaps the absolute worse annoyance in Ornstein's life. It was not that the knight said anything annoying or had some strange habit that made him abhorrent. No, what made him such a thorn in the lion knight's side was that Artorias knew exactly how to rile him up and took pride in being able to get such reactions out of the knight-commander.

This meeting was just another test of endurance in terms of dealing with the abysswalker's horrid games.

It was a typical meeting with Gwyn explaining reports in his usual dull drone, gesturing to the map laid out before them. As always, Gwyn wasn't looking for anyone's opinion but his own and they were there to simply bask in his glory, nod when appropriate, give a word of agreement now and then. Ornstein had more or less perfected the art of looking like he was intensely focused on what was being discussed when he was more or less letting his mind wander to others things. Always arriving in full armor, helm and all, also did wonders to hide his expression as his mind wandered to other duties.

As the commander of the knights of Gywn and the security of the city, he usually got the reports and information to be discussed either before or after the meetings to go over on his own with a more critical eye. The only thing that managed to draw him from his thoughts was the brush of a leg against his own oh so carefully so as not to attract to much attention.

Ornstein stiffened slightly at the contact, turning his head just a bit towards the knight beside him. Artorias was leaned forward with both elbows on the table, hands folded in front of him, for all intent and purpose, looking rather engaged with what Gywn was saying. However one of his long legs had uncurled from where they had been crossed and was now brushing against Ornstein's own with a slow, teasing gait.

As soon as he noticed the offending limb brushing against his own, Artorias seemed to press a bit harder, hooking his lower leg around Ornstein's nearest one to brush more of their leg together. The lion knight bit back a low growl in the back of his throat and pulled away. He only paused to give a sharp but light kick to Artorias's foot, a small warning for him to keep his offending limbs to himself while they were in the middle of a meeting.

There was no reaction from Artorias other than a tilt of his head. Still he did not move to brush his leg against Ornstein's own again and for a moment, the knight-commander entertained the thought that maybe that would be the last he would have to deal with Artorias this meeting.

Of course, that was simply wistful thinking.

The wolf knew when to bide his time and he had the patience to wait until he noted Onrstein had begun to relax again. Slowly Artorias moved to balance his chin in one hand, the other one casually moving to rest in his lap for a few scant moments before slowly, ever so slowly, it began to creep over to Ornstein. The knight-commander stiffened as he felt the long fingers of the other knight click over the armor of his thigh, trailing delicately over the designs embossed in gold before finally reaching the links of the chain mail. The knight-commander didn't dare to move, barely dared to breath as he kept his eyes forward, hands clenching slightly as he felt Artorias dare to slip a few fingers below the chain mail and drag against the leather trousers beneath, rubbing slow circles as they moved towards his groin.

The audacity of the situation had Ornstein burning with a quiet fury born of agitation while another, much more shameful part of his mind was morbidly curious as to how far Artorias would dare to go if he continued to ignore those sly fingers rubbing at the lacing of his trousers.

A part of him wanted to really believe that Artorias would not dare to go further. Not here when so may could see. All Gough would need to do is turn his head and look down and he would be made aware of the hand now slipped into the knight-commander's trousers and teasing cold tips against bare skin. Despite the cold of the gauntlet Artorias wore, the touch burned against Ornstein's skin like a brand and he found himself swallowing hard as his mouth went dry.

He glanced about the table, paranoid someone had noticed but none were even glancing in his direction. Even Artorias remained calm and bored looking despite the fact he now had two fingers slipped beneath the armor and trousers of the dragonslayer, caressing bare, heated skin, slowly sliding lower until fingers were combing through the soft curls of hair there to brush against the base of his length.

That had Ornstein jolting just a bit, his entire body going rigid and he was thankful for the helmet he wore that hid how flushed his face must be and the shock stamped across it. Artorias stilled then, as if anticipating some sort of retaliation. None though was coming. Anger and a strange mix of excitement at what thy were doing and fear at being caught had stilled the knight-commander from lashing out at the wolf knight. Internally though he was cursing himself for allowing this at all.

The humiliation alone if they were caught in such a position would have the knight-commander contemplating throwing himself into the open maw of a dragon rather than face anyone again. What was worse was how he felt a thrill of heat at the very idea of being caught. That feeling alone bought with it more shame even as he felt Artorias slowly teasing fingers around in slow circles.

It was a slow torture as the ache in his loins grew under the infernal wolf knight's light touches. Hands were clenching and he was gritting his teeth beneath the helm of his armor, fighting back every shudder and wayward growl that wanted to fight its way out. He tried to focus on what Lord Gywn was droning on about or on the map spread out on the table but it was hard to do so with such an awful distraction coaxing him towards arousal.

“Lord Ornstein, your thoughts?”

The words jolted Ornstein out of the lull of his mind like a dousing of cold water and he refocused on Lord Gwyn. He felt a seize of panic in his chest mixed with a burning arousal as despite the fact so many eyes were o him, Artorias's hand had not retreated nor had he stopped. A part of Ornstein wanted to shove Artorias away right out the blasted window for doing this to him.

Especially when he was expected to now string words together somehow while he fought to keep his hips from bucking against that infuriating touch against his length.

“I'm not sure yet what to say of the situation. It will require.... a closer look of the reports and analysis of the situation,” Ornstein managed out, practically grounding out every syllable.

It was enough of a strain for lord Gwyn to give his knight-commander a rather scrutinizing look but he did not push forward, merely giving a nod to the answer, “Then I will give you the time to look over it for yourself. For now, I think we can call this meeting to a close. You are all dismissed,”

The sound of chairs scraping the floor filled the room and Ornstein was moving to get to his own feet only after giving a rather hard kick to Artorias's chair under the table and nearly sending the knight sprawling. At the very least, it got that horrible hand away from him and affording him some measure of relief.

He didn't give a glance to anyone as he stalked out of the room with as much dignity as he could muster, more than grateful for the helmet that hid how flustered he no doubt looked and for the thick armor that kept any from noticing the growing problem that Artorias had been causing this meeting.

Halfway on the warpath to the solitude of his own chambers, he heard the footfall of someone slinking up to his side. He didn't have to turn his head to know who it was.

“I should run you through right now,” Ornstein growled.

“And what have I done to cause you such rancor good commander?”

Ornstein let out a growl shooting Artorias a nasty look, “Don't play coy with me, Artorias. Your hands were anything but coy this meeting,”

“Ah, but I thought you were enjoying yourself. It was not as if you asked me to stop,”

The response earned Artorias a rather sharp jab of an elbow into his side, enough to leave him whining and rubbing his side and Ornstein could imagine the pout the taller knight was wearing.

“Lord Ornstein, you do not have to be so violent!”

“And you do not have to be such a nuisance!”

Artorias sighed, sidling back up, leaning his taller frame down some to be eye level with the snarling visage of the commander's helmet, “Would I be less a nuisance if perhaps I offer an apology? A very heartfelt apology?”

Ornstein paused as he arrived at the door to his chambers, hand on the knob of the door. He turned to regard Artorias as he stood there, palms pressed together with an all too hopeful lean to his posture. The knight-commander could almost imagine if Artorias had a tail like a wolf it would be thumping on the ground in anticipation of his answer.

A low growl escaped the lion as he opened the door to hs chamber and stepped in, whirling about on his heels in the doorway. He grabbed a hold of the taller knight by his cowl and yanked him forward into the room.

“It better be a very heartfelt apology, Lord Artorias. I am terribly cross with thee,” He hissed.

Artorias merely chuckled, hands already falling to the knight-commander's hips as he closed the door behind him with a foot.

“Oh, I will be very heartfelt and will leave you more than satisfied,” Artorias promised softly.

A distraction. That is what Artorias was. A terrible, awful, and completely consuming distraction but it was one that Ornstein found he didn't mind indulging in.

At least once in a while.

Chapter Text

Everything hurt. Every muscle in his body was screaming from exhaustion and yet he persisted forward in his maddening training despite knowing he should rest before he simply collapsed from exhaustion. However Ornstein knew he needed the pain, wanted the pain more than anything. The physical pain helped to drown out all other thoughts and by the time he finished his routine, he would be too extenuated to stay awake or even dream. In that way he could try and bury the memories that haunted his soul.

Ornstein knew if he was exhausted, he wouldn't have time to let his mind return to the grief, the raw wounds ripped into his soul as the news of what had occurred in Oolacile finally sunk in. The wouldn't have to listen to the whispers that echoed in the halls of Anor Londo and the fear that gripped the city as talk of the dark started to hum to a new maddening hysteria among the noble gods.

Lord Artorias had fallen, taken by the very dark he had once fought. He had succumb to his wounds and passed away, his soul lost and Oolacile, although saved, was nothing more than ruins, filled witthe bodies of those lost. Many of those that lay now among the dead were so familiar. Many were friends. One was something far more than that. One who lingered in his mind now, the subject of a horrific sentence that tormented the knight-commander's thoughts more than any curse could.

Artorias was dead.

Ornstein's spear swung in a quick arc, lashing through the training dummies with a destructive crackle of lightning as he gritted his teeth, fighting the lump in his throat that was trying to constrict breath to his lungs. He tried to force back the wave of guilt, of all consuming grief that wanted to strangle his soul but even through the physical pain today, that single sentence was being chanted.

Artorias was dead.

Artorais was dead.

Artorias was-

Lightning surged across the room, missing the targets to slam into the stone wall, sending masonry flying. The crack of thunder roared, echoing in the room and vaguely, Ornstein realized it was no thunder but a bellowing scream of pure rage. Anger replaced grief so quickly, or perhaps the two had simply merged into a new force of destruction welling in his chest as he lashed out at anything in hopes of finding some culprit to blame for his pain.

He was enraged at Artorias, the fool who ran in without thinking to take on an enemy that was beyond him, yet Ornstein was also enraged at himself for not going with him. Perhaps if he had been there he could have done something, anything to help. Perhaps he could have pulled him away from that damned errand, held him close, and kept him safe.

Just one last time to clutch onto the other knight and admit to everything, to all these damned years where he had been fond of the wolf knight. He needed just enough time to confess it all, to let Artorias know before the end, before they perhaps both perished in darkness that he-

The entire room erupted with power and the wall was struck again, first by the blade of the spear and then by his fist. Mindless, directionless power channeled by a swarm of ugly emotions, all familiar but now nothing more than a sea of conflict within him, was unleashed against the wall. Each hit was punctuated by a roar of rage that boomed and swelled like the wild peals of thunder in a summer storm.

How much he hated himself for never saying anything. How much he hated Artorias for not giving him that time to confess it all. How he hated Gywn for all he had done to practically abandoned them to a world that was doomed to fall to shadow. How he hated the light that created dark, the life the created death, and all which created time to cause it to pass.

His hand was bruised within the gauntlets as he continued to slam the hand into the wall again and again, a choked cry rising in his throat, no longer those thunderous declarations of passionate rancor, but now simply a whimper. A sob long since coming finally coaxed its way out and once that sound had slipped by his lips, more came.

He was softly gasping as the hits against the walls were merely taps. He slumped forward, helmet against the wall as his legs finally gave way and he sunk to the ground. The fingers of his hands were curled against the stone, leaving trails of scratches along the damaged stonework as he felt the emotional anguish leak in again.

Lost comrades in the past had been so easy to drown out in another sort of pain. He could always train in the past to bury them but Artorias refuse to leave like that. Even in death, he still remained both a beautiful distraction and a terrible curse upon Ornstein. Artorias would always remain, even if a thousand years would go by. He would remain perfectly preserved in memory from his smile to the way he laughed, t the way he scowled and pouted when he didn't get his way. Even the way in which he smirked, all too knowing and so sure of himself. A smug, awful, absolutely wonderful soul that had wrapped himself about his heart.

That thought alone drew a broken laugh from Ornstein that grew more frantic and more distraught as he sunk lower against the wall, hands dropping to the ground listlessly. He sat there like a corpse, only a small heave of his shoulders showing any life as well as the quiet sobs he finally allowed himself.

Artorias was dead, but he was not forgotten.

He was still loved so desperately by one who still drew aching breath within Anor Londo.

Ornstein only wish he could let go of that love if only to not feel so wretched and in pain as he did now. He was sick in soul and it was an affliction that would never fade.

The lion would always share his grief alone for the one he had loved, the only man he had loved more dearly than all the duty, prestigious, and honor in the world.

He would never be able to forget Artorias and no amount of training or combat would ever be enough to bury the lost knight within Ornstein's memories.

Chapter Text

Ornstein let out a groggy groan as he was pulled from the depths of a restful sleep, not by the rumbles of thunder outside, but by the subtle whine of his name against his ear and hot breath against the nape of his neck.

“Ornstein, are you awake?”

The question had the knight-commander growling as he bleary opened his eyes to stare out across the room. It was shrouded in shadows, only occasionally lit up by the flash of lightning followed by a low growl of thunder on the horizon indicating a rather large storm was incoming. Such forces of nature never bothered Ornstein and in fact, he could easily sleep through even the worst tempest without issue.

Artorias though...

The knight-commander grumbled as he rolled over to face his unwanted bedroom intruder. Artorias had moved to settled himself in a kneeling position on the bed, the dark of the room hiding his features but Ornstein knew that the wolf knight most likely wore a pleading look.

“What?”

Even in the darkness, Ornstein could see Artorias's form flinch at the tone in his voice.

“I do hate to wake and bother you but, perhaps, if it is not too much trouble, may I share a bed with you this evening?” Artorias asked in a hushed tone.

Ornstein gave him a bleary-eyed glare, still half asleep as he squinted at Artorias, “Its just a thunderstorm.”

“Yes but I've never been particularly fond of thunderstorms. You know this,” Atorias murmured, jolting a bit as thunder again rolled about them.

“And yet you seek my bed of all people. Do I need to explain the irony of you wishing to hide from a thunderstorm with one who's soul burns with lightning's fury?” Ornstein asked, squinting at Artorias.

Artorias let out a quiet laugh, glancing away, “I don't mind the lightning. It is the thunder I have never liked. It...reminds me of a few things of my youth I'd rather not recall. It sounds an awful lot like....well, other sorts of rather loud crashes,”

Ornstein was silent as he regarded Artorias in the dark. He didn't have to pry about what the other knight meant as he knew all to well of the wars and turmoil that had plagued the lands Artorias hailed from. Such loud rancorous noises like the roar of thunder always had put Artorias on edge. Thus it was with a sigh Ornstein moved to sit up some, throwing open the covers to allow the anxious knight to slide in.

“Fine, but only for the night. This is not to become a habit,” Ornstein grumbled tiredly even though he knew those words were not going to be heeded.

Artorias wasted no time in sliding under the open blanket, tugging it about his frame as he wiggled to get comfortable against Ornstein's side. The knight-commander grumbled some as he tried to settle back down, more than aware of another body against his own as he moved to lay on his side, back to Artorias. It did not help that he himself was dressed in nothing but simple undergarments and Artorias himself was dressed just as light. It was the summer months after all and there was a heat in the air although the storm was already chasing that away.

Below the blanket though, now with more body heat to share, it was rather comfortable.

At least temperature wise. Ornstein was still far too aware of the now bare skin of Artorias's chest pressed to his back, the wolf knight's arms lightly wrapped about his waist and his chin settling onto his shoulder with a hum.

“Comfortable?” Ornstein growled out.

“Does this bother you?” Artorias asked softly against the shell of the dragonslayer's ear, “I can move if it is. Just, I'd rather not sleep curled up on a corner of the bed. I would like to have someone close.”

Ornstein just let out a grunt, rolling into a tighter ball and closing his eyes, “Just go to sleep already.”

The storm was drawing closer, grumbling with thunder and moaning louder as the wind began to pick up and rattle the closed windows lightly. There was a shiver of cold now in the air, courtesy of the draft that always lingered in the palace and soon the downpour of rain began to raise its own racket, slamming off stone and the roofing above.

None of that though is what now kept the knight-commander lying awake in bed, barely daring to breath. What kept his mind awake and keenly aware of his surroundings was the hot breath against the nape of his neck, of lips barely brushing skin, and of calloused, warm hands lingering against his stomach, a few fingers idly tracing over the wisps of hair that led the way from his naval down to the low sitting hem of his undergarments.

Ornstein felt like there was more electricity running through his nerves as he was keenly aware of every brush and movement of Artorias against his back. The restless movements of the other knight indicated quiet clearly that sleep was still eluding Artorias as well.

Or perhaps the wolf knight had never really had sleep at the forefront of his mind.

“Are you awake still Ornstein?”

Ornstein let out a growl hunching his shoulders and tugging the blanket about himself tighter.

“No. I'm not.”

That earned a quiet laugh from Artorias and he could feel the other man snuggle his face against his shoulder, “No need for such spite.”

“There is a need when I wish to sleep and you are being...you,” Ornstein growled.

“And what does being me entail?”

Ornstein shivered slightly as he felt Artorias's long fingers caress against his belly lightly, one hand rising up higher, brushing over his chest with careful touches, almost as if he was testing the waters. The tough was like fire and the lion knight found himself arching against each brush of fingers lightly, a soft sigh on his lips.

“Being a distraction. That is what it entails,” Ornstein murmured finally, turning his head some to shoot the other god a lazy glare.

Artorias merely smiled, leaning in to brush his lips against the knight-commander's chin before dipping lower to press small kisses against the neck earning a low, begrudging rumble of approval.

“Well, in my defense, you are a rather prominent distraction in my life as well. How many times have I had to watch you fight or train or even bath and not be allowed to touch you how I want? Sometimes your presence is like a thorn in my soul, tormenting me. Mocking me in that I cannot have you,”

The wolf knight's lips continued to press soft kisses to Ornstein's neck, pausing only to suck lightly at the pulse point and earned a soft sigh and slight tilt of the head from the knight-commander, a silent permission given for him to continue if he pleased, “Some things are not meant for public eyes, Artorias.”

“But you never let me in private either. You haven't even let me see you in the throngs of your heat,” Artorias murmured, now venturing a nip against his commander's neck as a hand dip lower, slipping down below the hem of Ornstein's undergarments, “You always go lock yourself away. I'm more than sure you would be a beautiful sight, all spread out and panting-”

“Say another word and I am going to push you out into the middle of the storm,” Ornstein hissed.

He was thankful for the dark that hid the flush of his face as he bit his lip. Fingers were grazing low over the soft curls of hair below before stopping just at the apex of his groin where a new desire was currently starting to brew. Ornstein felt his breath hitch as Artorias lazily ran a few fingers up and down his slowly hardening length, carefully feeling out the whole of it.

“You still haven't really explained why you rebuke me so,” Artorias's voice was low and practically a rolling growl as he continued to leave his marks upon the commander's neck. Ornstein shivered and shifted under the attention, pressing his back against Atorias's chest as he arched into the touches he was receiving. He was embarrassed about how sensitive he was to the touch of others and how already his hips were bucking into the warm hand stroking his cock. It was pride alone that had him biting back those groans and whines of pleasure that wanted to make themselves known.

“I am not rebuking you now, am I?” Ornstein growled, one arm moving back to cup around the back of Artorias's head. “My heat is...we will not speak of it,”

“So shamed are you of your own body? Many sun gods such as yourself have it. I'm always here to help you take care of it,” Artorias practically purred, lazily placing kisses against Ornstein's jaw.

Before the knight-commander could snap out another retort, Artorias shifted his hips to grind his own need against the rear of his commander, earning a sudden, shuddering groan for his efforts. Ornstein bit his lip at the quiet laughter that invoked in Artorias, especially when he started to grind back, more from the fact he was trying to buck his hips into the firm strokes of Artorias's hands.

“Did you use the storm as an excuse this evening to come in and seduce me to your insanity?” Ornstein hissed, turning his head away as he could no longer fight the soft pants that began to fall from his lips. Every damnable nerve in his body felt alight under the slow, sensual touch of the other knight and he knew he was coming apart already with how sensitive he was to others touching him.

Artorias chuckled, “No, the storms do bother me. I've been in your bed many times before without feeling for you but perhaps I needed more distraction tonight.” He leaned forward pressing a kiss to Ornstein's cheek as he continued to rock and spoon behind his commander, “Perhaps we both needed a distraction tonight.”

Ornstein's answer came out a groan as Artorias began to stroke him faster, giving a faint twist that hat him bucking and writing more. He was only half aware his undergarments had been pulled down until Artorias's other hand had dipped lower to cup his rear,giving it an appreciative squeeze. The commander turned his head to look back at the other knight, panting softly as he raised a hand to press against Artorias's chest.

“And this is your idea of a distraction? Do you think I'll allow you to go where your fancies want?” Ornstein growled.

The smirk that was revealed in the light of another flash of lightning had Ornstein swallowing hard and a shiver of desire racing through his already worked up body. The knight slowed his strokes down to a near crawl, merely holding the aroused commander's erection in hand and swiping his thumb over the tip lazily. It was enough to have Ornstein letting out a sudden whine before he could stop himself, hips jerking forward to try and get more friction as before.

“I expect you to ask me for what you want as, after all commander, I don't want to overstep my bounds and assume your commands, now do I?”

Ornstein let out a groan, shivering as he felt Artorias shift some to help ease the rest of his undergarments down, taking the time to run his hands up muscular calves and again, cup his rear with a gentle squeeze, “You want me to beg?”

“Command is what I said. I would never want my fair commander to have to beg for the pleasure he wants like he was some sort of desperately aroused wench,” Artorias answered, a sly grin spreading across his lips, only hidden when he pressed his face to Ornstein's shoulder to kiss there, “And what is it my commander desires?”

“Just please me already. I do not enjoy these games with you,” Ornstein barked, turning his head again, “You are taking this far slower than our usual trysts.”

“Maybe I want to enjoy it a little more since we are not trying to steal a mere ten minutes to sate our desires. You are so sensitive commander. The smallest touches have you jerking and when I have you like this, flushed, aroused, and practically radiating desire...”

Artorias trailed off as he gave a sudden flurry of fast, firm strokes that had Ornstein letting out a loud, almost wail of pleasure, arching back against the other knight's chest with desperate bucks of his hips. The reaction sent shame flooding through him and he turned his head away when Artorais' stilled his hand, panting raggedly.

“Are you ignoring my orders to please me?” Ornstein asked, trying to latch onto some semblance of pride.

“I am. At my own pace,” Artorias responded, his other hand moving to caress the dip and swell of Ornstein's hip, “Would you be most helpful Commander and ah, fetch the oil from the nightstand? It is either that or I am going to have to move you into a most unbecoming position to use my tongue to provide a poor man's substitute,”

That had Ornstein flushing, looking over his shoulder at Artorias even as he felt the spike of arousal throb right down to his length, bringing a fresh drizzle of precum with the twitch. He had to bite his lip some as he half wanted to reject the offer of oil just to see if Artorias would go through on his word. Still another part of him was too impatient and worked up and it was that half that won out as he cursed Artorias under his breath before pulling away from the other knight's grip and wriggled to the edge of his bed.

It did not take long to find the nightstand and to pull open the drawer to fetch the flask of oil usually used in the care of armor. It had a faint aroma of steel to it but it worked nonetheless for the purpose at hand.

Artorias had moved with the knight-command although he had taken the time to divest himself of the last barrier of clothing he wore and now Ornstein was even more aware of the wolf knight's desires. The slow drags of Artorias's cock against the cleft of his rear had the knight-command shivering with a fresh wave of desire.

“Here. Just...be quick,” Ornstein hissed, shoving the vial back to his partner.

Artorias tsked slightly as he took the flask, “Be patient Ornstein. I don't wish to fuck you this evening,”

“Then why bother with getting me aroused like this if you aren't?” The commander snarled, shifting restlessly even as he felt the first coated finger start to probe at the tight ring of muscles of his entrance.

“Because I want to make love to you tonight,” was Artorias's soft growling reply.

Ornstein bit his lip as he felt the first finger press into him, slow and steady with a small circle motion that had him shuddering in need. Even when he had adjusted to that first intruding digit, Artorias was ever so slow to add the second one, taking all the time in the world it seemed to scissor them. It was so slow and sensual and completely overwhelming already to the knight-commander although he bit back the sounds that wanted to escape. He had since buried his face against an arm, panting as he rocked back against those long fingers, one hand resting against Artorias's hip as to try and encourage him closer.

The wolf knight merely hummed as he leaned in to press kisses against Ornstein's shoulder, working a third finger in as he crooked them, managing to find and rub against that spot inside that had the knight-commander letting out a muffled gasp of pleasure, his entire body going rigid with the jolt of pleasure.

“You are so quiet now commander, especially when you should be giving me my orders,” Artorias murmured softly, “Tell me what I must do to make love to my commander.”

Ornstein let out a groan, arching back some as he turned to regard the other man, face flushed and he knew he probably looked desperately wanton right now, “Just....just take me...just take me already,” He murmured before looking away, shame and desire creating a dizzying cocktail of arousal that had him squirming even more.

Artorias chuckled, withdrawing his fingers and instead moving to hitch the commander's leg up with one hand, the other dropping lower to coat himself with the oil, “I would ask why you are so shameful of how you react to arousal, but then, I am starting to wonder if being shamed and humiliated is something that arouses you even more,”

Ornstein let out a growl, closing his eyes as he felt Artorias start to push in, wincing at the slight burn that came with it. Artorias was taller than him and was well endowed to match. The greatsword he carried was by no means compensating for anything below.

“I am ah! Not aroused by the prospect of being humiliated,” Onrstein hissed, fingers digging against the sheets.

Artorias let out a quiet sigh of pleasure, his own breath hitched as he finally bottomed out, buried to the hilt in the Commander's heat, “So, tell me, if during the next meeting if I was to bend you over the table and take you there where all can see how wanton and desperate you get when aroused, you wouldn't get aroused? Just imagine you trying to apologize to our lord Gwyn, whimpering and whining, wanting forgiveness for being so desperate a wench as I take you over and over again.”

Ornstein let out a growl that turned into a rising whine as Artorias gave a hard thrust of his hips when he was about to speak. He shuddered and arched against the other knight as he began to finally move, setting a slow but firm rhythm that already had the dragonslayer groaning, bucking his hips in a desperate plea for more of the same.

“Or perhaps, you are being too loud right now. Even with the storm, someone might hear you and open the door to see if you are well,” Artorias whispered hoarsely against the commander's ear, “Then they would see you like this, spread open and whimpering. Perhaps it would be a fellow knight? Or his lordship? Or perhaps the first born of lord Gywn-”

“Quiet your tongue Artorias,” Ornstein hissed, turning his head away. “I will not tolerate such talk!”

“Oh, but it makes you clench up so beautifully around me when I talk about all the ways I could shame you,” Artorias teased but relented as he began to increase his pace.“Not to mention how beautiful you look as you start to come undone with pleasure and drop all pretense of a noble knight.”

Ornstein growled, shaking his head even as he rocked wantonly back against the thrusts of the other knight, wanting more and wanting it faster than what Artorias seemed willing to give at the moment. All it would take is a few words and he could get what he wanted but that would mean giving in to Artorias's game and finally begging and debasing himself, even if it was under the pretense that somehow it was a command. He shuddered more as Artorias's hand closed about his length, stroking him in time with the hard thrusts and earning a louder moan of impatience from the knight-commander.

“You want nothing more than to ah! See me beg you,” Ornstein groaned, leaning back against the other knight.

“I only want to please you. To love you. I am always your humble servant,” Artorias moaned as he continued his slow thrusts and lazily strokes, “Command me, my lord. Tell me what to do,”

Ornstein shivered, teeth clenched and head bowed. He was quaking and shivering with need, so close to the edge of pleasure but not given nearly enough to draw closer to that glorious abyss. It almost felt as worse as when the heat overcame him during the summer full moons with the lack of relief to the wretched hot desire that boiled in his belly. He let out a groan of defeat, leaning back against Artorias, rolling his hips back as he finally spoke again.

“Take me faster, knight Artorias. I need you to stop ah! Holding back. Just...I need more,” He said, trying to sound commanding when his voice was practically failing him under the crush of desire.

“As you command.”

With that, the wolf knight picked up his pace, thrusting harder into Ornstein and earning a louder moan from the knight-commander, “Ah! Faster than that! Please!”

Artorias let out a growl at the please, the wolf clearly riled up by those half commanding pleas as he began to rock harder and faster into his commander. Ornstein was panting and crying out loudly now, unabashed by the desperate calls for more he asked for or how he was now in fact begging Artorias for more. His eyes were closed as he writhed on his side, face buried against a pillow some in a poor attempt to muffle his cries.

Soon all pretense of any sort of rhythm was lost, replaced by sharp, desperate thrusts into the knight-commander, Artorias groaning against his neck as the storm reached its own crescendo outside with gales of wind and rolling thunder. With a final cry, Ornstein arched back against his lover, every muscle going rigid as he peaked at last, spilling out over the hand that now stilled its strokes. Artorias let out a whine at the heat constricting about his length, managing a few more frantic thrusts before he let out a breathy groan, finding his release soon after.

The storm rumbled outside as the two panted, slowly coming down from the high of desire and settled into a comfortable post-coital daze. Ornstein shifted reaching back to pull Artorias's face closer to his own for a soft, lazy kiss that lingered even as they parted.

“Has that distracted you enough from whatever demons of the past chased you into my bed?” Ornstein asked, fingers lightly combing through the messy black hair of his companion.

“More than that. Slayed them where they stood,” Artorias answered.

He nestled himself flush against the commander, pulling out as he slipped his legs between that of the commander's. Ornstein merely grunted some as the motion sent a slight twinge up his spine but he was quick to relax again at the soothing stroke of his belly.

“Then am I permitted to rest now without you bothering me?”

Artorias chuckled, planting a soft kiss to Ornstein's forehead, “Aye, you may return to your beauty sleep although you truly don't need it,”

Ornstein merely snorted as he closed his eyes, lazily rolling over to wrap both arms about Artorias and pull him closer. He managed to tuck the other knight under his chin making sure to keep him close. The storm could rage and howl all it wanted, but nothing it could do would touch the two within and even if it could, the knight-commander would not let it do any sort of harm to the knight in his arms.

One last kiss was placed upon Artorias's brow before the lion knight settled in at last to sleep.

Nothing would ever harm the knight Artorias as long as he was there at his side. Not storm nor memories. He would never let anything harm him.

Chapter Text

It was truly a marvel how Ornstein managed to hide his mane within his helmet comfortably.

Where many a knight would prefer to keep their hair short or at least pinned up, Ornstein wore his hair long and Artorias couldn't fault him for that choice. The knight-commander's hair was a glorious gift and even after being in a helmet for the good part of the day, retained a luscious sheen and slow rise and fall of ruby red waves that perfectly cascaded about his face.

The unruly snarl they took on when release of the helmet's confinements only served to give Ornstein a more handsome and rugged look and the urge to run fingers through the rebellious mane only grew stronger. Still, the lion knight was always particular about being touched but Artorias had his ways of getting cooperation from his commander in order to get his fingers buried in those lovely locks.

“You know, you should tie your hair back, Lord Ornstein. Would save you the time of always having to tuck it back behind an ear, let alone be more comfortable within our helmet,”

Ornstein barely flicked his gaze up from the report he was working on when Artorias spoke, merely letting out a snort, “It is fine. It isn't in the way.”

Yet as if in defiance of his words, a lock of red hair fell free to brush against his jaw and dangle just off to the side before being tucked back again. Artorias sighed, half in exasperation and half in wistful desire as he moved from the doorway to the side of the desk, leaning against it.

“You are also working far too hard.”

That earned a snort from the knight-commander as he flicked his gaze back up at Artorias, “Who else is going to file these reports?”

“Ah but if you work too hard, you'll stress yourself out and then even you can make a few small mistakes.”

Artorias smiled softly as he buried his fingers into the red mane of hair, marveling at how soft it was, like playing with curls of satin. Soon though he was digging his fingers in deeper to rub lightly against Ornstein's scalp, humming softly. It did not take long for the gentle massage to start eliciting the one response that had Artorias grinning wide.

Oh the famed Ornstein fashioned himself after a lion, but truly he was more a house cat for how he purred and few were those that knew the secret to drawing out those low rumbles of approval.

“You have such a lovely mane Ornstein. Really you need to take better care of it, not just wash it once a day,” Artorias tsked, now rubbing the knight's temples lightly.

“Oh? And what sort of care do you propose?” the commander asked, his attention still upon his work.

“How about I comb it out all nice and put it in a nice braid for you? By the time you take it out tonight, your hair will be remarkably wavy.”

Ornstein chuckled some, far too at ease at the massage he was getting, “If you insist I suppose I can't refuse.”

Artorias merely smiled, more pleased to see the ever so faint smile the knight-commander wore. Such a sight was rare given how constantly stressed and irritable Ornstein could be. The knight-commander rarely had any time to himself under all the pressures that came with his rank and the duties he had been fulfilling since as long as Artorias had known him. Just to see Ornstein be able to smile still brought a sense of satisfaction to the knight as he continued to comb his fingers through his commander's hair.

“Well, I did not bring a brush with me so I will ask your pardon that I will only be able to use my fingers but the braid at least is easy to do.”

Th taller knight moved to stand behind the commander, starting to run his fingers through the red locks in more brusque strokes, untangling small knots and being gentle enough to avoid tugging or pulling painfully on any given strand of hair. Luckily there were not too many snarls, at least none that were huge and rather nasty to deal with. In no time at all, Artorias's nimble fingers were weaving a long braid from the top of Ornstein's head down to just past the nape of his neck, smiling contently.

“You are rather quick at that.”

“Hmm?” Artorias glanced up at as Ornstein spoke pausing as he neared the final few weaves of the braid he was working on.

“The braiding. You are quiet quick at it. Have you done it before?” Ornstein asked, sounding honestly curious.

Artorias laughed softly, ducking his head some with the briefest hint of a blush on his cheeks, “Aye, I should b quiet skilled. The youngest child and only son of a family that had only elder sisters tends to grant you access to skills most knights are not prone to learn. Braiding of hair, floral arrangements, and I am just as dexterous with a needle and thread as I am with a sword should you need some decorative doilies for your room.”

That earned a laugh from Ornstein, and the smile only grew as he turned his head to regard Artorias with a quirk eyebrow, “Are you now? So many talents you keep hidden, sir Artorias.”

“Talents I keep for those special occasions I suppose you could say.”

Artorias nudged the commander lightly, peering over his shoulder, “I don't suppose you have a bit of ribbon or the like I could use to tie this braid off?”

Ornstein paused to think for a moment before reaching for one of the drawers and pulled forth a length of ribbon often used for tying up the more important documents meant for the eyes of those ranked above even him and offered it to Artorias with a small smile, “Will that suffice?”

“Perfect and a lovely color as well. Gold really is your color.”

The ribbon was bound about the end and tied into a perfect bow before Artorias patted the commander on the shoulder, leaning in to place a quick peck to the cheek, “Now doesn't that feel better?”

“I suppose so, just one problem I have with it.”

Artorias arched an eyebrow, confusion marring his expression, “Oh? What would that be?”

His answer was the commander yanking him forward into a sudden kiss to the lips, short but firm that had Artorias flushing with surprise, eyes widening. Ornstein pulled back, a smug smile tugging at his lips as he patted Artorias's cheek lightly, “A kiss to the cheek only? Dear sir Artorias, a kiss to the lips is much more appreciated.”

“My mistake commander. Next time I will keep that in mind,” Artorias murmured, grinning shyly. “And I mus say, the braid is fetching on you. Really shows off your handsome face so much more.”

Ornstein chuckled, waving a hand to playfully bat the wolf knight away, “Oh begone with you. Your silver tongue and compliments have no power here.”

“Do they perhaps have enough power to ask for the company of the knight-commander tonight at the evening sup? I depart in the morning to deal with those ruffians raiding the boarder and it would please me most to have you see me off.”

Ornstein paused, glancing up from his work before giving a shrug, “Perhaps. I will consider it at the very least and see if my work allows me the time.”

“I'll wait until the last strike of the bell for the evening hour. After that I am to be fast asleep else I be as hollowed as the dead come tomorrow.”

“Understood. Anything else?” Ornstein asked.

Artorias paused in the doorway of the office about to leave before he turned about to look at the commander, smiling wide, “Give me your measurements. I'll knit thee a sweater on the way to battle as I'll have nothing else to do to pass the time and you always look so cold when winter comes!”

Ornstein rolled his eyes but couldn't keep the smile as he waved the knight away, “Get out before I am forced to throw you out, you cackling git.”

Artorias merely laughed as he left the room, his steps as light as his heart. He was just glad he had managed to get a smile out of his commander and for a bit, brighten his day.

Just a little something to take the edge of stress away.

Chapter Text

The forest was quiet and serene without a trace of the corruption that once swam through it. There was a peace to it now that belayed the terrible events that transpired. Ornstein honestly felt that if Artorias was still alive, he would have found the place quiet agreeable as, after all, the wolf knight had always had a love of the woods and for growing things.

The knight-commander moved through the woods, golden armor standing out against all the green, glinting proudly in the rays of the moon that still manage to poor down. In time though even that would fade but now, Ornstein was too tired to care.

He was so, so tired now as all the world turned and he was left alone, a fading legend of a time of glory and splendor that was barely spoken of now even in miracles. Perhaps in the back of his mind, Ornstein wished that this could be his last journey away and he could simply lay down his spear at the grave of the one man who had meant everything to him and just rest as well. He was so tired of the weight of duty to Anor Londo.

So tired of the existence he had been left with; no duty to attend to but to stand guard until he was inevitably cut down. He felt already more dead than alive.

The large doors parted before him with a grown, admitting him to the open clearing before him. Under the moon, it had a quiet reverence that had the lion carefully removing his helm in respect to the fallen. It only took a few strides to bring him to the large grave that stood alone at the center. Before it, the familiar greatsword of Artorias stood embedded in the earth, still bearing the signs of the corruption that took its owner.

Ornstein did not dare to touch the weapon. Instead he simply settled himself into a sitting position before the grave,spear laid at his side and helmet carefully placed in his lap. For a long moment he did not speak. The knight-commander simply closed his eyes and inhaled deeply taking in the sounds of the night.

It was so peaceful here and if he could forget about the past, forget about the grave that was before him or the long since abandoned sword as well, Ornstein almost felt like Artorias could appear and settle down beside him just as they had done in the past, a smile on his face and nothing but words of comforts upon his lips.

“It has been so long, dear friend, and yet you still haunt me. The ghost of your memories has never driven you far from me.”

His voice echoed in the clearing and there was no response but the chirping of the evening crickets and thrum of the early summer cicadas emerging from their underground burrows. A quiet laugh escaped Ornstein as he slumped forward, shoulders sagging under the weight of centuries of duty that went un-rewarded other than an empty, broken heart.

“I wish you were here. Perhaps then things would be better. No, things would be better with you here. If you had returned triumphant, there is no doubt that the decay of this land would have been pushed back. I would have had so much more strength of soul to carry on had you just been by my side.” He paused, closing his eyes again, taking a deep, shaky breath,”I miss you so much Artorias. Not a day goes by where I can't recall you and wish I would have spoken up about how much you meant to me.”

He laughed then, a broken sound that was tinged with a sob, “How much I most likely loved you all this time and still do.”

Ornstein swallowed hard, feeling the pinprick of tears long unshed at the corners of his eyes. He lifted a hand to wipe at them as he let out another laugh, “I can't even hold to my own word. I promised myself I would not cry over you, that you would be most upset if I did so but here I am, unable to keep strong enough to honor your memory properly.”

He wiped again at his eyes, trying to smile but it came out as more a grimace as he stared at that grave. Anger and sorrow were welling up again even after so much time had passed.

“Why did you go? Why did you not tell anyone how terrible it had gotten? Was the princess worth your life to safe? Was she honestly worth losing your life? Losing me?”

The questions were croaked out past gritted teeth. There would be no answer as the dead no longer spoke and if any spirit of Artorias had lingered in the area, it had most certainly dissipated after so many centuries.

Yet even if Artorias no longer was there, others still lingered, still bound to the memory the knight left behind.

The knight-commander looked up sharply when a shadow was cast upon him, one hand already going for his weapon only to relax, his rage abated to a quiet smile and slight bow of the head as he gazed up at the familiar form of the dutiful wolf companion of the late knight Artorias.

“Sif. So it seems the stories of a great wolf guarding the grave were true and not just the fancies of mortals,” he murmured. “Will you be attacking me as well or do you recognize old friends still?”

The great wolf eyed Ornstein for a moment before jumping down from their perch and quietly moved to rest their head on the knight-commander's lap with a low whine. A smile touched Ornstein's features as he raised a hand to pet the wolf, feeling a fresh wave of pain well up in his chest.

“Have you been here all this time by yourself noble Sif? Guarding his grave?” he asked softly. “You had a home to return to you know. I would have looked after you as assuredly as Artorias would have.”

The wolf let out another whine, eyes closed as their head into the pets of the knight. It must had been a long time since anyone had given Sif any sort of comfort and it just tore at Ornstein's heart more to know that Artorias's dear companion had been left alone all this time to fulfill such a thankless duty.

In that though, Ornstein supposed he and Sif were kindred spirits. They stood guarding old relics of time that none now cared about and desecrated at their leisure. Both of them guarded their final charge, simply waiting for the day they would meet their match and finally be allowed to rest. They were both tired souls waiting for the day their task was completed.

“Artorias would be proud of you Sif. You do his memory justice,” Ornstein said softly as he continued to pet the whimpering grey wolf lying in his lap. “If only you could speak though, perhaps you could tell me more of his last moments and of his story.”

Sif looked up at him at those words, eyes filled with such an unbelievable sadness that Ornstein could not help but to move to wrap his arms about the neck of the wolf and pull them more firmly against them. That look told him so much more of how Artorias had fared. The fight must had been brutal and the lingering corruption that took him-

“I miss him too Sif. I miss him everyday and with every breath and I wish I could have done something to save him. I'm sorry it took me this long to come here.”

Another choked laugh escaped him, “How wretched a lover I must be to have taken so long to come here eh? Centuries after he dies and finally I show up. Truly I am an awful-”

Ornstein was cut off by the paw placed on his chest and the sad eyes of the wolf before him. Sif, without a word leaned forward to give the knight-commander a gentle lick to the face as if to try and sooth the grief of the knight and the regret that he had bore all this time.

This time Ornstein did not laugh. What came out was a low, barely suppressed sob of grief as he leaned forward, burying his face against Sif's flank and finally let his walls crumble. The great grey wolf merely leaned against him in return, whining and pressing as close as they could. Sig merely let out a mournful howl as they allowed themselves a moment of grief.

Perhaps it had taken a while but at the very least, here in this quiet place, grief could at last be held and shared between two tired souls whom had loved the same man so dearly.

Chapter Text

“The commander is rather fond of you.”

“Pardon?”

Artorias glanced up from the armor the helmet he was polishing in his lap, arching an eyebrow at Hawkeye Gough. The giant archer merely chuckled as he continued to carefully attend to his bow, “The commander, Ornstein, he is rather fond of you I said.”

“Ah, well, I suppose he is rather fond of all of us as friends. He always keeps an eye on us,” Artorias returned, a slight flush rising to his cheeks.

Gough could only chuckle again at the reaction of the other knight although he kept his gaze still on his work, “He keeps at least one eye on all of us but for you, he'll always keep two eyes.”

Artorias gave a shake of his head, shoulders hunching as he scrubbed harder at the helmet as if that would somehow grant him reprieve from the tingles of embarrassment fluttering up in his chest, “Do you imply I cause him too much trouble? True I do like to tease him-”

“No, it is because he is fond of you Artorias. You are the only one to get a smile out of the commander, let alone having him personally seek you out. He adores you, anyone can see that.” Gough paused before chuckling once more as he unstrung his bow, “Well, everyone but you.”

“You tease me so Gough. I did not think you the type to do so! The commander,” Artorias shook his head, waving a hand, “He would not think of me in such a way.”

The archer rose to his feet slowly, moving to hang up his massive bow in its revered spot in the armory, “You mean in the way you clearly think about him?”

That had Artorias straightening up and looking everywhere but at the giant, clutching his helmet to his chest like a lifeline, “I-I have no idea what you speak of Gough! I mean, I have every bit of respect for Lord Ornstein. He is a beautiful commander, excellent in battle, and I enjoy being with him-”

“Being with him you say? That is rather romantic of you Artorias!”

“To talk to him! I- I entertain no other thoughts! I am innocent of any transgressions that would link me to any sort of randy thoughts involving the commander!” Artorias protested, sinking further in his seat.

“And what is the dear knight Artorias protesting about now? Has someone accused him of frolicking in forest glades again with all the creatures of nature?”

Artorias slouched further as Ciaran entered the armory, resting a hand against her hip, giving her dear friend an amused look, “Well?”

“Nothing is being said and I am not protesting anything. Gough is just being a terrible tease,” Artorias grumbled.

Ciaran quirked an eyebrow, sharing a glance with the amused giant archer, “A tease about what?”

“Oh, just informing Artorias of the commander's affections. It seems the wolf is not aware that the two of them are being terrible flirts of late. Smiling and shying from small brushes of the hand like a pair of young noble maidens unable to confess their desires,” the giant commented with a shrug.

That had Artorias's face flushing a deep red as he shot the two a pout, especially when that caused Ciaran to laugh a bit, “He is slandering me!”

“I would agree except he is speaking the truth. I've seen the same thing,” the small goddess turned to the knight Artorias, offering him a smile, “To be fair, the two of you make a rather cute if not odd couple. He the stickler for rules and upholding the law and you, the wild child who rather bend the rules to your liking.”

“It isn't like that at all! Both of you are being awful right now and I don't much appreciate it!”

“My apologies lord Artorias. You are absolutely right!”

Artorias eyed Ciaran warily, especially given the wide grin she was wearing even as she said those words, “I am?”

“Oh yes,” she conceded with a nod, “The two of you are certainty not maidens harboring a crush. I think the two of you are a married couple at this point with how you make Ornstein dinner when he skips meals to work, or how he will do your paperwork for you so you can sleep in.”

“By the flame you are right Ciaran! They truly are a married couple! A bonded pair of mates!” Gough declared rising to his feet before shooting Artorias a fake glare, “Why did you two not invite us to your wedding?”

Artorias let out a whine of protest, both hands rising to rub at his temples, “It isn't like that! We aren't- it is just! The two of you are being bloody fools that is what!”

“And what pray tell is all the shouting about when we have a meeting to attend to?”

The knight-commander's voice echoed in the room, bringing the conversation to a halt. Ciaran and Gough though still wore wide smiles, both looking to Artorias as the wolf knight slowly turned to face the commander looking like a dog that was afraid its master was about to kick it.

“I- well, I was on my way, just attending to my armor and these two were going on and on about how well, that we are acting like a married couple! I tried to tell them that they were wrong but they simply would not listen!” Artorias said hastily, bowing his head, “I implore you to set them straight.”

“A married couple you say,” Ornstein murmured softly, raising a hand to his chin to rub it, his famous leonine helmet under one arm. “Well, I suppose the idea is not a terrible one to indulge in. I do not think I would mind such a rumor in all honesty.”

Artorias simply stared at Ornstein as the knight-commander gave him a faint smile, patting the speechless knight on the shoulder, “Now, Lord Artorias, pick thine jaw up from the floor and hurry along. Lord Gywn expects us all to report as soon as we can on the state of the western boarder.”

With that he turned on his heels, leaving the room. Ciaran and Gough were doing their best to hold in snickers as Artorias stood there still gaping, wide-eyed and beat red in the face before he quickly cleared his throat. He shot a half-hearted glare at the two before stalking out.

“That doesn't mean we are a couple by the way!” he growled at the two.

Ciaran merely shook her head, chuckling as she shared a knowing look with Gough, “Of course it doesn't Artorias. Of course it doesn't.”

Chapter Text

“You don't have to go tomorrow, Artorias. You shouldn't have to go.”

Artorias did not turn around as he continued to set the pieces of his armor upon its stand, keeping his gaze upon his task, “It is with pride I ride to Oolacile to carry out lord Gywn's orders. The situation is dire and the princess Dusk herself has been taken captive. If we are to overcome this rampant abyss, I must take up sword and shield to combat it. That is my duty, commander Ornstein.”

He could hear the soft growl escape the knight-commander who stood in his doorway and Artorias could imagine how tense he looked. A sad smile curled Artorias's lips. It seemed almost strange that out of all the knights of Gwyn, it was the one known to bethe most loyal that was the most outspoken against Lord Gywn's orders. The knight of the abyss let his fingers trial over the cowl wrapped about the shoulders of his armor as he gave a small glance over his shoulder, trying to offer a small smile.

“If all of this does not sit well with you, what would you have me do? Defy our lord?”

“You've done so in the past.”

A sigh escaped the wolf knight as he finally turned around towards his companion, “Yes, but in those cases I disobeyed him to head towards the abyss if you recall. For once, we have interests that are in line with one another. This is my calling, Lord Ornstein. Would you have me be a coward to put your mind at ease?”

Ornstein's jaw tensed, his gaze fixed firmly on the ground as both his hands curled into fists, “I don't want to have to watch you leave and never return. I don't want to have to watch another closer to me leave.”

Artorias remained silent, regarding his companion. It was rare to see the knight-commander distraught as the other god was known for his unwavering resolve when it came to serving Lord Gywn. Without hesitation, Ornstein had always done as their lord commanded and had pushed for all the knights to do the same but now, now the commander spoke words that many would consider borderline treasonous.

The wolf knight approached Ornstein and raised a hand to cup his face, letting his thumb slide over the slight growth of stubble upon the commander's chin, “I plan on returning. I am not being banished. I will not leave Anor Londo to never come back again. You know this. This is not the first time I have been dispatched away from the capitol.”

Ornstein raised a hand to touch Artorias's own, eyes closing as he leaned into that caress, “In the past, things were more certain. All of this, it just-” The commander brought his other hand up to clutch at Artorias's hand as if that would be enough to keep the wolf knight there for all eternity, “It does not feel right. We have no information of how bad it has grown in Oolacile. Not to mention I am starting to suspect the lord's state of mind has begun to deteriorate. Where once he spoke wisdom, now it seems he speaks more madness. I am starting-”

“Shhhhhh.”

Artorias raised a finger to press to his commander's lips to quiet the ramblings of the distraught man, “You do not need to have faith in Lord Gywn or his orders, but merely in me. I can overcome what has befallen Oolacile.”

“I want to have faith in you and your words, but I do not. I cannot.” Ornstein inhaled sharply, trying to study his breath, “Must I lose you like I lost-” The knight-commander's words faltered off, unable to finish the thought.

Artorias said not a word as he pulled Ornstein into a tight hug, tucking the commander close against his chest. His own chest was tight with his own grief in that he knew his words were doing little to calm the other man. As the flame had continued to decline, as whispers of the dark grew louder and louder, and the fear of the gods began to trickle down to the mortals, it seemed everything was going wrong. All around them, the glittering facade was falling apart, showing the rot an decay beneath. Even the royal family was not left untouched with the banishment of the heir and the line of succession left in question.

Gywn's first born son's departure though had left even deeper scars on those that called him friend and brother and add to that the number of deaths within the ranks of the minor knights, Artorias could understand Ornstein's fears. The knight-commander was trying to hold onto everyone as the world came down around them and one by one it seemed everyone was slipping through his fingers to vanish into nothing but legends and lore.

“Will you stay the night with me Ornstein?” Artorias asked softly, daring to press a small kiss against the top of his commander's head.

“I would like that yes.”

Ornstein's voice had cracked despite the commander's best attempts to reign in the emotions raging just beneath his stoic demeanor. That sound alone had Artorias's wrapping his arms about the other man tighter, as if he could somehow will away every single one of Ornstein's fears but he knew that was impossible. He slowly guided them both to his bed, sinking down onto the mattress, pulling Ornstein down with him.

The knight-commander was quick to press in close again, his own arms wrapping about Artorias now as he buried his face against the other man's chest. Artorias merely let out a low hum as he continued to hold Ornstein close, his fingers brushing through the unruly locks of red hair gently. Neither of them spoke for there was nothing else to say.

No amount of protest or pleading would dissuade Artorias and no words would be able to truly comfort Ornstein. Just the mere presence of the other though, that at least allowed them to pretend that tomorrow wouldn't have to come and all the world could be fine this night.

Oolacile could wait until tomorrow.

Tonight, they could have each other for one last embrace.

Chapter Text

Ornstein had thought watching Sif would be an easy task as, after all, it was not like Sif was a full grown wolf. They were merely a puppy and despite even that, appeared well train. The little wolf was always at the heels of Artorias, trotting along happily and obeying the commands of the knight.

With all that in mind, Ornstein had seen no reason why not to watch the pup.

Within only a few scant hours though, Sif had more or less proven all those assumptions of a well behaved, easy to watch pup a lie as Ornstein stared in horror at the shredded remains of a rather important document. Sif looked oh so proud of themselves, panting and staring up at Ornstein with bright eyes. The knight-commander just stared back as he picked up the pieces of the document, choking back the roar of rage that was lurking in the back of his throat.

Sif gave a bark rising to their feet, lifting their head expectantly like they were awaiting a pet. Ornstein just stared incredulously at the wolf, waving the shredded document in front of the wolf's snout, “You think this deserves praise? I needed this! This was important!”

The tone of the knight-commander had Sif crouching back with a whine, large eyes staring up at Ornstein. The lion knight though was quick to look away, all to wise to the doe-eyed tactic as Artorias was oft to use it on him when he had aroused the commander's ire.

“Don't turn those sad eyes on me you little devil. I am watching you as a favor to the knight Artorias, not because I am fond of you,” Ornstein grumbled,putting the remains of the document on his desk.

He took a seat and started to pick through the pieces, vainly trying to put them back into some semblance of order, or at least to a point he could read what had been on the report and make a copy. He really didn't want to have to explain to Gywn how he needed another copy of the report on the western front because he let a wolf pup rip it up.

“I swear as soon as Artorias comes back I'll-”

“You'll what? I don't recall doing anything of late to earn this sort of ire.”

Ornstein looked up sharply as Artorias entered the room, already removing his helmet to mop at his brow some, “What is that look for Commander Ornstein? I said I would be gone only a scant two hours and I have arrived exactly at the time I promised.”

“Two hours of hell! Your mutt just cost me hours of work ripping up a report!” Ornstein growled, holding up the torn pieces.

Artorias pursed his lips, for now ignoring the excited wolf pup pawing at his boots and barking up at him, “Well why did you leave important documents in a place where a puppy could get them? My word Ornstein, Sif is naught but a child. If I were to leave a godling between us here, would you give them important documents to play with? Is that how you would entertain the product of your loins?”

Ornstein stared at Artorias for a good long minute before letting out a sigh, “Artorias? We can't have children.”

“Well, with the archduke, I am going to politely say that anything is entirely possible and if not, we can adopt some humans! They always will be small then so never have to feel like they are going to run off and leave us,” Artorias put in cheerfully as he picked up Sif.

“I am more than sure that humans do not appreciate being treated as small children for the entirety of their lives. Not to mention in at least sixty years they get old and worn and end up dead and then you'll get upset because you got overly attached,” Onstein grumbled, shaking his head, “And godlings are a rare birth and even rare to find orphaned ones.”

“In that case, I suppose Sif can be our child? Isn't that right Sif? Who's my fuzzy, wuzzy, ball of destruction and biting? You are!”

Ornstein tried to frown. He really did but it was hard to maintain any sort of anger when Artorias got all sappy with his wolf companion, rubbing his nose to Sif's and making all sorts of cutesy noises without care. If only their enemies could see the knight Artorias now, giggling like a maiden and cooing over such a small feisty wolf pup.

Artorias seemed to have caught the commander's smile out of the corner of his eye as he turned with a grin to hold up Sif to Ornstein's face. The wolf pup wasted no time in starting to slobber and lick the lion knights face earning a sound of disgust as Ornstein pulled away.

“What? Our precious child is just trying to show their love for their grumpy papa!”

Ornstein made a face as he wiped the wolf drool from his face, “I would prefer it if you did not shove your wolf in my face. I don't want a child or a wolf child!”

“Shhh, don't listen to him Sif. Your grumpy papa knows naught what he says,” Artorias murmured, petting the pup now snuggled in his arms. “He just doesn't know how to express his affections.”

“Sif tore up an important report.”

“You left a report where Sif could get it. Sif was just trying to help. Don't blame our baby for your own problems.”

“Artorias-” Ornstein growled, rubbing his temples, “Fine. If I say Sif is our child will you stop talking about babies and family?”

“Only if you let Sif give you a goodbye kiss.”

The knight-commander glanced up at Artorias who only smiled back as he held up Sif, “Come on now papa Ornstein. Show us some love?”

Ornstein let out a sigh before leaning in, rolling his eyes, “There.”

Artorias just chuckled as he brought Sif in again and the pup gave a few happy licks to Ornstein's cheek before being set back down on the floor again. The wolf pup was already rushing about excitedly again, barking and sniffing around as Artorias leaned over to press a kiss to Ornstein's other cheek, “Thank you though for watching Sif. You are a marvelous parent.”

The knight-commander grunted in response,yes going back to his shredded report, “You are lucky I like you.”

“Very lucky indeed, isn't that right Sif?”

Sif just looked up from where they had lifted a leg just beside Ornstein's foot, relieving themselves with a happy yip. Ornstein just stared hard at Artorias as the wolf knight gave a nervous laugh, quickly moving to pick up Sif and rush to the door, “I ah, see I need to housebreak our darling son still. I'll ah, go handle that right now!”

Ornstein just watched him go before letting out a growl shaking his head.

If this was what it would be like to have an actual child with Artorias than he was very grateful that in fact, Sif was only a wolf pup. Otherwise he was pretty sure he would lose his mind.

Chapter Text

Ornstein growled as he stared at the report in his hand, not because of what was written in said report, but more out of a strange inability to concentrate. He felt pent up with agitation that had him shifting restlessly in his chair and his mind unable to focus on the work at hand as his thoughts continued to wander in the face of such stifling boredom.

No matter what he tried to focus upon, inevitably, his thoughts once more strayed to concerns about the knight Artorias who had since been dispatched three days ago to some outlying settlement to deal with some raiders and was not due back for at least another day. Three days though was starting to drag out longer than anticipated for Ornstein. That was three days without listening to Artorias prattle on about some mundane topic excitedly enough to make even Ornstein crack a smile. Not to mention it was time spent without the other knight's usual practice of giving small brushes of the hand and sly touches in less than appropriate places.

It had been even longer than three days since they had been given any length of time to indulge a little further in the more physical aspects of their relationship.

As soon as the thought crossed his mind, Ornstein let out a soft groan, finally putting aside the report and leaning back in his seat. Boredom was a constant enemy when it came to his work when he was at the palace handling the day-to-day tasks involved with keeping the royal guard in line. Rarely these days did he get to enter the field let alone pursue dragons and at times he felt more like a caged beast than a knight-commander with how restless he could get. Artorias, as distracting as he was, at least made the days bearable. The wolf knight at least got his blood pressure up in a variety of ways and kept his life entertaining.

Ornstein slouched back further in his chair, arms draping over the sides and leaned his head back, closing his eyes. He really was missing Artorias. The way he smiled and laughed. The way he spoke, so formal and elegant yet still playful. Charming, yet with a hint of awkwardness socially that made him all the more endearing. Not to mention that mouth of his was talented in an assortment of ways. How he kissed and teased, using teeth and tongue, dragging both down the length of-

Another groan escaped Ornstein as he raised a hand to slide it through his hair, gritting his teeth as those thoughts brought a small pool of warmth to the core of his belly. Thoughts of Artorias's mouth reminded him of his touch and that inevitably lead to reminders of being on his back in bed, the weight of the other knight pushing him down as he rutted away, whispering breathy praises against the shell of Ornstein's ear. Those lusty memories though only served to bring more heat to build within the knight-commander that started to spread out like a blossoming flame to every nerve.

He shifted uncomfortably, more than aware of how the front of his trousers under his armor were starting to tighten as arousal began its slow march through his veins. He gave a glance about the room, biting his lip nervously before carefully he moved to remove the gauntlets of his armor and set them aside where his helmet sat on his desk before moving to loosen his faulds, letting them slip back. For a moment he sat there, unsure and nervous, yet filled with more of that restless energy as he glanced to the still closed door.

Unless there was some huge emergency, no one would come rushing through the door. They would always knock and give him time to get....decent. Ornstein swallowed hard before closing his eyes and sucking in a deep breath, letting his hands undo the front of his trousers and allow his length to slide free.

Idly he began to stroke himself, sighing some in relief, hips rocking lazily with the motion. He let his thoughts wander to Artorias and the few trysts they had so far indulged in. They were quick affairs, usually taking place in the washroom after a training session or in the less traveled alcoves of the palace. Rare were the occasions that they took pleasure with each other in bed but those were the times they spent the longest together, mapping out each other's bodies.

 

Ornstein shivered, increasing his pace as he rocked his hips, recalling how Artorias looked in the moonlight, lithe and pale, eyes narrowed, a piercing cobalt gaze full of hunger. He could appear so gentle and then suddenly seem so vicious and wild. The knight-commander's teeth were gritted as another louder moan tried to escape him as he stroked his cock to full mast. His other hand had dipped lower to give a firm squeeze to his own sac earning another strained moan. His hips jerked and shifted at the movement, unable to really find a rhythm he liked.

He felt overheated in his armor and like the touch he was getting was far from enough to get him to completion. Another glance was spared to the door before he reluctantly pulled his hands away from his length, moving up to undo his breast plate hastily. Soon he was stripped to nothing but his boots and pauldrons, feeling more than a little exposed as he settled back in his chair. One hand moved over his bare chest, fingers seeking out and brushing over his nipples, a soft sigh escaping his lips. The other hand had returned to his cock, working the length with quick jerks to try and hasten himself to his peak.

Precum oozed out the tip with every long pull, his hips eagerly rising to thrust his cock into the hot fist of his hand. He was slouched back, legs spread wide in the chair as the other hand mapped out his own body, elating a soft moan as he tugged at the hardening buds on his chest. Yet it seemed touch alone was enough as the bliss of completion still eluded the commander.

His teeth were gritted in a leer as a growl escaped him as he moved to his feet unsteadily, using one hand to brace himself against the desk as the other one continued to stroke himself quickly and with more force. Golden eyes slid closed as he panted, imagining that he was not alone in this endeavor, that Artorias was there, sliding hands over his exposed back and over his hips, touching everywhere he could with reverence. A strained groan, nearly a whine escaped Ornstein as he slumped forward against the desk, freeing his other hand to snake back, trembling as he slid his fingers over his own rear to rub against his own entrance, shivering with a thrill of need.

At this angle with lube, it would not be the most comfortable way to try and stimulate himself but-

“Lord Ornstein I have-Oh! Oh pardon me!”

The knight-commander's head shot up, eyes wide and the scarlet flush he wore matched the deep red of his own mane as he gawked at Artorias who stood in the doorway. Shame rushed through Ornstein first and yet he found himself unable to move. At least Artorias had some motor functions at least as he stepped inside quickly, closing and locking the door behind him with a sheepish look.

“I didn't know you were ah, masturbating so vigorously commander or I would have knocked,” Artorias murmured with a coy look.

Ornstein felt like his jaw was locked in place even as he moved both hands push himself off the table, unable to meet Artorias's eyes. A hundred angry things wanted to spill forth but none really would take away the awkward embarrassment racing through his veins. He nearly jumped out of his own skin when he felt a hand on his bare shoulder, wildly looking at Artorias, trying to work up his usual irritated demeanor and failing miserably.

Artorias simply smiled back, a gentle sort of gesture if not for the almost wicked gleam in his eyes as he moved down to gently take Ornstein by the wrist, moving the commander's hand back to his length, “By no means though, you don't have to stop just because I am here. I know my commander well. He would never leave a situation half done.”

The tone the wolf knight was low, almost sultry. He reached down to his own pack, rummaging around before withdrawing a vial of clear oil used in the care of armor, sliding it onto the desk, “And if you plan to use your fingers, dear commander, don't go in dry? You'll never get off.”

Ornstein finally managed a growl, looking away, “You are enjoying my shame, aren't you?”

“Not at all. I'm simply enjoying a beautiful, perfect knight pleasuring himself. You, my commander, look absolutely gorgeous right now, so lewd yet elegant,” Artorias answered, his voice filled with a reverence that had Ornstein blushing all over again from something other than just shame. “Now, how about you continue yes? Please, grant me the honor of seeing you like this commander.”

Ornstein watched Artorias out of the corner of his eye as the other knight sat down in the chair the commander had occupied earlier before he turned his head away. He swallowed hard before he moved to uncork the vial granted to him and coated his fingers in the slick. Ornstein closed his eyes and gritted his teeth as he moved to brace himself against the desk with one forearm as the other hand slid back, probing for a moment before sliding one finger inside of himself.

He was trembling and panting softly as he worked that solitary finger in for a few moments before daring to add a second finger. Slowly he began to scissor the two, biting back a groan as he bowed his head. Shame was mixed with a more intense arousal as he heard Artorias's own breath hitched and he could only imagine the view the wolf knight was getting of him, fingering himself spread over the desk like some desperate animal in heat. As the rhythm of his fingers began to settle he shifted to bring his other hand to bear back against his length, stroking himself again, unable to bite back the sounds of pleasure creeping out of his throat.

Soon he was becoming almost frenzied, already so worked up and now the added knowledge of someone watching him do this had the arousal from before burning red hot in his gut. Artorias did not interfered, keeping to his seat although Ornstein could see Artorias had already slipped one hand beneath his own faulds to start pleasuring himself.

“You are doing so well! You should be close to a release now aren't you?” Artorais asked softly, his own voice becoming tight and hoarse with arousal.

Ornstein gave a slight shake of his head, looking back at the watching knight, “It's... it's not enough,” he croaked out. “Just-!”

“Just what commander?”

Ornstein let out a louder groan, head falling back as he closed his eyes, “Just take me! I can't bare this!”

He expected the wolf knight to practically leap at the opportunity given his own state of arousal but instead, Artorias merely shook his head, smiling as he sat back, “No, I know you can finish commander. I want to watch you come undone by your own hands. Don't you want to make me happy, my good boy? My darling commander?”

The nickname had Ornstein groaning louder, bucking harder into his own hand with a desperate want to do as he was told. Curse Artorias for speaking, but when he started to praise him like he was one of his various pets, it sent a blaze of heat rushing right to his groin.

“Artorias....! Please! Just- I'll come undone by my own hand just-just a little help?” He pleaded, teeth clenching as he nearly thrashed upon the desk, fingers plunging nearly to the second knuckle in an uneven rhythm, barely brushing the spot he needed to touch deep inside.

Artorias tilted his head thoughtfully before rising to his feet, “Perhaps I can find you something to use,” he said, voice husky with lust.

The wolf knight paid little to the commander as his gaze swept over Ornstein's desk before settling on a pair of bookends used to keep a few of the commander's personal favorite stories on hand. Mostly books on tactics and the like and one or two collections of poetry Ornstein would reluctantly admit to having a fancy for. The book ends themselves were carved by Gough as a gift, nothing fancy or showy, just basic pillars carved with various designs of dragons. It was one these that Artorias picked up, ignoring the books clattering to the floor and moving to start coating the bookend with the lube even as Ornstein watched, eyes widening.

“You can't be seriously-”

“Oh, but I am.” Artorias cooed, placing the slicked up bookend before Ornstein. “There is the help I offer to you, commander. I know you'll use it well as, after all, none is more talented and skilled with a weapon as you.”

Ornstein stared at the bookend before dipping his head with a flush of shame and burning arousal before withdrawing the slick fingers from his entrance and moving to grasp onto the make-shift sex toy. He would not be able to use this bookend for its intended purpose again, let alone look Gough in the eye if the archer ever asked where it had gotten to. Ornstein was wondering if it would be better to burn it after he, well....

The knight-commander let out a hiss of pain as he worked the tip of the flared bookend in, tensing some at the unfamiliar feel of hard, cold wood pressing in. It took a few moments to work it in, the ridges of the carved dragons setting nerves alight as he shifted some, adjusting to the foreign intrusion. Artorias had settled back into his chair, watching with rapt attention as the commander slowly began to with draw and hesitantly thrust the make-shift toy forward, letting out another strained hiss.

It took longer to adjust to the toy but Ornstein's arousal did not flag, not with Artorias's sweet words of praise echoing in his ear every thrust he made.

“That's it. You are doing wonderfully! Absolutely beautiful,” Artorias said softly, leaned back with one of his hands wrapped about his own length as he watched, “Keep going, my commander.”

Ornstein let out a muffled groan from between gritted teeth as he began to move the impromptu toy faster, hips jerking and his whole body trembling as he rubbed against that spot deep inside that sent a sharper pleasure shooting through his body. In mere moments he was gasping, nearly crying out with a mindless need as he fucked himself on the toy, his other hand palming at his weeping length. His ears were ringing with Artorias's praises, fueling the fire in his blood to new heights, pushing the commander closer and closer to-

A loud, choked cry escaped Ornstein as he tensed up, his body going rigid as he tumbled over the edge into the bliss of orgasm, feeling the hot rush of his own seed spill over his hand and onto the floor. He sagged against the desk, dazed and feeling boneless to the point both hands had to come up to catch himself against the edge of the desk just to keep himself propped up. His legs trembled and he could feel the bookend buried deep in his entrance start to slip further and further to falling out with each spasm of his aching passage.

Artorias let out a soft groan, both hands now running up to cup Ornstein's rear lovingly, admiring the debauched view presented to him as the commander recovered, “That was wonderful my commander. You are such a good boy, so excellent and well behaved and doing all you can to please me. Absolutely wonderful,” he said cheerfully.

Ornstein shivered as he felt the toy get pushed in as Artorias pressed two fingers against the end,”Now, what does such a good boy get for doing so well?”

The knight-commander shivered as he raised his head some to glance back at Artorias, glassy-eyed and flushed. His throat felt tight and he could barely even think of the words to say to voice what he thought would be a justified reward. The wolf knight though it seemed didn't need anything to be said, merely smiling as he pulled the toy free, letting it clatter to the floor before wrapping an arm about Ornstein's hips and pulling his commander flush against his chest.

He eased them both into the chair, Artorias below and Ornstein sprawled out against his chest, leaning back with a low growl as a hand slid up to pull the wolf knight closer. Without a word Artorias obliged the silent request, meeting Ornstein in a slow, sloppy kiss, his tongue darting out to meet that of the commander's.

One hand had dipped down to slide over Ornstein's softening length, earning a soft whine and jerk of the hips from the knight-commander while the other hand moved to hitch Ornstein's left leg up and over the arm of the chair, repeating the action for the right leg. The knight-commander pulled away from the kiss, regarding Artorias through half-lidded eyes, even as he felt the head of the other knight's cock already start to press into him.

“You are still so tight, even after working yourself open like that,” Artorias murmured as he began to slowly thrust into his lover.

Ornstein panted softly, shivering as already over-stimulated nerves began to be rubbed again, this time by a more living and familiar heat that had his flagging length starting to twitch vainly back to life, “Curse thee for speaking!” he managed to say even as Artorias's shifted his grip to grasp beneath the commander's knees.

“Why? I have nothing but praise to give you, commander!” Artorias responded, feigning hurt as he rolled his hips up, setting a slow rhythm into the squirming, panting commander, “You are so tight and hot, like warm velvet wrapped about my cock. Not to mention how compliant you are and so willing, yet remaining so beautiful. Watching you come apart, wailing with my name on your lips, why it never fails to get me riled up.”

The last point was given with a harder, deeper thrust into the knight-commander that had him gasping a bit before slouching back against his lover, groaning in appreciation. He didn't trust himself to speak as he rocked back as much he could against the wolf knight's cock buried in his taint. At this rate, he would probably be begging and agreeing with every damn thing Artorias said just to hear more of that praise and be treated like he was the underling pleasing a commander and not the other way around.

It didn't take long for Artorias to set a faster pace, growling against Ornstein's ear even as he sucked and kissed against the commander's neck. Apparently the wolf knight himself was a little pent up these past few days and his self-control could only take him so far. The pace had Ornstein practically wailing now, arched back against the other knight as he was bounced unceremoniously on the throbbing prick of his lover, one arm slung back around Artorias's neck while the other gripped and stroked at his own length. Vaguely Ornstein realized anyone standing in the damn hallway at this point could hear what was going on but his mind was far too caught up in the daze of lust to truly care about that for now. With a few sporadic thrusts, Artorias let out a deep moan of satisfaction as he finally came, spilling his seed deep within the knight-commander.

A hand moved from holding Ornstein's leg to come around and began toying with the sac of the lion knight, providing enough stimulus to draw out another gasping orgasm from the knight-commander. This time Ornstein slumped back as if all his bones were reduced to a molten liquid, eyes closing as he sucked in breaths of air, trying to cool his body and recover his senses. He let out a croaking purr as he felt Artorias start to brush his fingers through his red hair, far too spent to protest or even feel shame at how compliant and lazy he was getting after not one, but two toe-curling orgasms in such a short span of time. Ornstein was more than content to just lounge there against the warm chest at his back and do little else for the rest of the day.

“I've missed you, Commander Ornstein.”

The words were soft and sincere, almost a touch shy as the wolf knight nuzzled his face affectionately against Ornstein's neck. The knight-commander merely chuckled, lazily raising a hand up to scratch at the base of Artorias's skull, eliciting a soft whine of approval.

“I've missed you too, Artorias.”

The commander knew he should probably consider moving and getting decent again but right then, he was too sated, perhaps too boneless to really consider any of that as he stretched out against Artorias, much like a cat getting comfortable. Artorias shifted some, settling his arms more comfortably about the waist of the commander, a soft chuckle on his lips.

“Shouldn't we perhaps clean up and-”

“Everything else can wait. Nothing has come through today of interest but you and frankly, the state of affairs with the yearly inventory can wait a few hours. Perhaps even the rest of the day.” The knight-commander turned his head to quirk an eyebrow at Artorias, a sultry smirk curling his lips, “Unless, of course, you have any protests Lord Artorias, about staying with me for longer this day.”

Artorias let out a soft hum of approval, nuzzling against the neck of the commander, wrapping his arms more tightly about his lover.

“Sounds like a most excellent plan, commander.” he murmured before pressing a kiss to Ornstein's temple. “A most excellent plan indeed.”

Chapter Text

The situation in Oolacile was a lot worse than reports had said. There was suppose to be only whispers of the abyss at most, a minor outbreak that should have been easy enough for someone of Artorias's skills to contain. Something had felt wrong the moment Artorias left the gates of Anor Londo.

Ornstein did not know what possessed him to leave the palace to go after the others to Oolacile. Call it a feeling of unease that had crept up his spine just telling him everything had gone awry. After all, it was rare for Artorias to request back-up and even rarer for three knights of Gywn to send nary a word for such a long period of time. It was that sense of wrong that had the knight-commander himself coming to Oolacile to demand answers, or at the very least, some plausible excuse for the lack of communication.

The sight that greeted him was nothing short of a nightmare.

Elizabeth's grim words rang in his head as he took in the state of the once verdant city, now a seething cesspool of the black corruption and those inhabitants that had not been fortunate to escape its grasp now lingered as abyss-cursed abominations. The mere sight of it all had a sick feeling settling in Ornstein's stomach and his grip about his spear tightening. There was no sign of his fellow knights at first, nor sign of any friendly soul in the mire of darkness that had fallen upon the city of Oolacile.

The task of picking his way across the city, combating the dark essence itself and risking its taint was a daunting one but in time he had found Gough, poor Gough, fully blind and spending his last moments carving rather than taking up his bow. Even blind, Ornstein knew the giant dragonslayer was more than capable of defending himself but the knight-commander understood the real sentiments to Gough's actions.

Oolacile was a battlefield, good as any to die upon and by the archers own words, one of their ranks was most certainly already dead and gone.

Artorias had fallen. All who were sane whispered of this truth and yet Ornstein had denied it fervently and as foolishly as the Abysswalker, plunged on ahead through the dark corruption of the abyss in a vain quest to prove them wrong. Finding Sif had given him a margin of hope that perhaps Artorias was fine despite the fact his shield had been left behind and how dispirited the young wolf had been. Even in the dark, Ornstein let the fire of hope keep a small, constant spark alive.

He had hoped he could find Artorias, that somehow he could save him. When he had first spotted the wavering form of the wolf knight, he could feel his heart leap into his throat and for a brief moment, he allowed himself a brief respite and to believe that Artorias was well.

“Artorias!”

The name came so easily to his lips, half commanding, half a cry of relief. Any joy though he may have felt was shattered as the wolf knight lifted his head and let out an inhuman gurgle from within his helmet, more like an animistic growl of a beast choking on its own blood.

Artorias had tottered forward like a man drunk, arm hanging limp at his side and head lolling from side to side as he slung his greatsword over his shoulder. Every movement was so unnatural and black corruption seeped from between the seams of his armor to dribble to the ground. There was no hint of recognition in Artorias's postures, no indication that he heard Ornstein and recognized him as an ally, let alone as his lover.

There was just a primal sort of hatred and lust to consume that would have put even Smough's grim appetite to terrible shame.

All Ornstein received in return for his shout was a piercing howl of torment before Artorias was lunging towards the knight-commander with deadly intent.

Reflexes lent their bone to Ornstein and he was already darting away as the wretched beast that was once the man he loved attacked. Centuries of combat and warfare were beaten into every muscle of the lance-wielding knight's body and they allowed him to nimble dance out of the reach of the taller, more powerful knight, dodging the lethal swings of the greatsword. There were so many opportunities to strike though and in that, Ornstein hesitated.

The snarling beast still looked like Artorias and under those inhuman sounds, there was something still so familiar, like a faint whisper of a voice trying to say something in a broken, gentle tone. If but a glimmer of Artorias's soul still lingered, could he truly be the executioner for his lover? Perhaps that in of itself was merely another wretched trick of the abyss in order to have him be unable to win this fight.

Another howl ripped through Artorias, his dead arm swinging limply along like a puppet with a string cut. His motions continued to be unsteady and that black corruption... Ornstein gritted his teeth and felt his very soul screaming from the depths of his being as he parried another blow, sending Artorias's stance wide open.

This was not like their sparring matches. Artorias would never leave such gaps in his defense nor leave himself open to such easy counter-attacks. He was the best fighter of all of them, a warrior without equal who would drag any contender across the practice yard with a laugh and a smile. The only time he had ever left himself open was in jest, to invite a hit, to-

Ornstein's spear was thrust forward, the deadly, dazzling displays of lightning rippling over its surface with a deafening crack as the point pierced through Artorias's armor. The abyss-ridden knight shrieked, body jolting at the blow, dropping the sword to claw at the weapon even as its movements slowed. Then he was dropping to his knees as Ornstein pulled the blade out, sagging back as he watched his lover drop dead to the ground. The last movement from Artorias was a sigh, a soft sound of relief, perhaps a small thank you for doing the deed that had to be done. That deep down inside, that part that still realized who he was still fought to end his own life before he could hurt others. Those holes in his defense were intentional, the desperate cries for help that Ornstein understood and as was his duty, he carried out that last wish.

Still, even though he knew he had restored the honor of his lover by taking his life, Ornstein felt numb. His entire soul had felt like it had raced forward in that final blow, wrapped up in the lightning he had sent hurtling into the body of his companion. The physical form of Artorias was fading away, taken by the wind and leaving behind only a flickering soul swathed in darkness. Without much thought, the knight-commander knelt to cup his hands about the soul, feeling his heart seize in his chest and the soft sob came unabated to his lips.

The soul seemed so small and frail trapped in all that darkness. It seemed nothing like the man who once housed it, so full of life and vigor, a personality that always took up an entire room. Distracting and annoying yet at the same time, there was no man that knew the knight-commander better and could read his thoughts and worries in the smallest gesture and be there to offer comfort.

A friend that was without equal that had in time become a lover he couldn't bare to lose.

Another choked sob escaped Ornstein as he clutched that soul to his chest, dropping to his knees as he lost all the strength to stand. He felt so tired and hollow, not unlike the undead themselves. He did not register the quiet steps of the Lord's Blade behind him nor of the small hand resting on his shoulder as he broke down to pieces there in that forsaken courtyard of Oolacile.

He had taken the life of Artorias the Abysswalker, had put him down like a feral dog but in that final stroke, he knew he might as well have pierced his own heart and taken his own life.

Ornstein knew he had broken and there would be nothing to ease the blow that was made this day, no words that would ever find comfort.

The only emotion that would remain within the knight-commander was a bitterness and slowly growing hate that would lead one day to his own demise when all the world had faded and the fire with it.

Chapter Text

All Artorias wanted now was a hot bath followed by the softness of his bed to pass out into and sleep for a century before waking once more. The fight in Oolacile had been brutal and perhaps his hardest fight yet against the abyss. It was by some miracle of the flame itself that he still stood on his own two legs, somehow managing to avoid the corruptive touch of the darkness. It had though left him feeling bone weary after the whole affair, more tired than he had ever felt in his life.

It was a miracle and he knew it, but by Lord Gywn, he was just glad to be able to head back and bring word of his hard won victory. Well, to at least re-instate it. His deeds in Oolacile were already preceding him and word of his triumph was carried faster to Anor Londo than his weary gait, that was for certain.

That was perhaps why Artorias was not surprised to see the familiar golden armored figure of the knight commander standing at the gate. What was a surprise though was when commander Ornstein, the stalwart dragonslayer himself who showed very little of his emotions under a calm, cold facade, stalked up to him and pulled him into a sudden tight hug.

Artorias stumbled forward some, forced to hunch forward as the shorter man all but bear hugged him. The wolf knight just stood their awkwardly as his tired mind tried to put the pieces of this situation together. Such public displays of affection were rare enough from Ornstein, but a hug like this where all could bare witness? That was so rare that Artorias was more concerned for the well-being of the commander than himself, already pulling back some from the embrace.

“Not that I wish to complain about the greeting, my commander, but ah, are you feeling all right?”

Ornstein let out a growl that did justice to the snarl on his helmet as he tugged Artorias down again into the hug, shaking his head, “I thought you had went galloping off to your doom all this time! Not a single word for weeks and then some casual report back that you are done and coming back. No details. No-” Ornstein's grip tightened. “Oh how I loath how casual you are about your deeds! Your humility is a terrible trait and causes me naught but worry!”

Artorias let out a soft laugh, glad for the helmet he wore that hid the rosy blush that was currently staining his cheeks, “I do apologize for that. Perhaps next time I shall ask Elizabeth to help me in conducting a far greater and more lengthy tale of my deeds to send to you? I did not think you were the type for flowery language.”

This time the knight-commander pulled away and Artorias could all but feel the slight glower being leveled at him but he did nothing but chuckle softly to himself, “And what is that look for commander?”

“How can someone who vexes me so thoroughly be the man I miss the most when he is gone?” Ornstein grumbled, looking aside. “Your presence was dearly missed these long weeks, Sir Artorias. I suppose I have realize I take your company for granted.”

“Ah, I think I am the one who should be saying that, my commander.”

Ornstein's head tilted to the side and Artorias could imagine the look of confusion he perhaps wore under his helmet. That only had the wolf knight smiling more himself as he all but hefted Ornstein up in his arms despite the loud protest of the lion knight.

“I missed you so very much! I carried nothing but thoughts of you, hoping you were doing well and eating for I know you so do overwork yourself. I fretted constantly and had to hold back on sending reports just to make sure you were doing well like some husband off to war writing to the lady as she minds the manor!” Artorias declared, carrying the squirming knight-commander through the gate in his arms. “My terribly grumpy, darling keeper of the house!”

“I take back all I said about missing you! Go back to Oolacile and let them deal with your tomfoolery! I'm more than content to let them keep you!” Ornstein snapped back with a half-hearted kick towards Artorias's shin.

The wolf knight only laughed, only putting Ornstein back down when they were within the eaves of the barrack archway. There, Artoias reached up to finally remove his helmet, revealing his smile,touched with fatigue as was shown in the black bags that had taken up residence beneath his eyes. Polite as ever, he bowed his head to the commander.

“Dreadfully sorry, my lord, but I regret to inform you that you are to be stuck with me for another few centuries at least.”

Ornstein snorted, moving to remove his own helmet and tucked it under one arm. Then he reached up to grab Artorias by the front of his hood and pulled him closer, placing a chaste kiss upon the wolf knight's lips. They held the kiss for what felt like hours but was only a few short seconds before he drew back, a small smile touching his lips.

“A burden I suppose I'll gladly endure,” he murmured softly. “Welcome home, Artorias.”

Artorias could only smile, leaning in to kiss Ornstein again, letting the weariness and tension of the road start to ebb off his shoulders. He was home and safe once more, back in the embrace of his lover once more.

He could finally be at peace once more.

Chapter Text

For so long, he had tried to deny it. It was so much easier to just pretend that dear, noble Sif, still so young and new to this world, had been touched by the darkness. Artorias had simply tried to ignore the signs that it was too late for his friend and simply said it was growing pains that the young wolf was going through.

The heighten aggression was just being cranky and not liking people about at the moment. The whines and long howls coupled with shivers were just Sif's way of saying they were merely ill. The look in Sif's eyes of late, that dark, hungering look was just- was just-

When the young wolf had finally snapped and dared to try and attack Artorias with the intent to do him real harm, daring to draw his blood without remorse, eyes black and dead like staring into the abyss, did he finally relent to the truth. His beloved Sif, his dearest companion had fallen to the corruption he fought against and now, his duty was clear.

Sif would need to be put down to not only ease the wolf's soul but to make sure others remained safe and not fall victim to the corruption as well.

Artorias knew his duty but that did not make this situation easier.

“I will handle this affair if you wish. I know how much Sif means to you.”

Ornstein's words barely registered for Artorias as he stood there, hands clenched, watching his companion how and snarl, savagely attacking the chain that bound them in place. He could hear the pity in the commander's voice as well as the concern. Still, it was not a task nor duty that Artorias would want the other man to ake upon himself.

“I am thankful for the offer, commander, but Sif is my companion and I would not have any other do this task.”

Artorais inhaled sharply before letting out slowly as his hand rose to grasp the handle of his blade, “This is my duty to bear, terrible as it is.” He paused briefly, turning his head a bit towards the gold clad knight beside him. “I am grateful though that you are here to provide your support given the task at hand.”

Ornstein merely nodded, “The others are away on missions assigned by our lord. It would be a terrible crime against you to make you undertake such a difficult duty alone. I am here for you Artorias.”

The wolf knight nodded, swallowing hard. He kept his gaze ahead on the snarling beast that was once his beloved Sif and could not find it in himself to move. Even now, some part of him was crying out that he could do something to help the wolf while another part cursed himself viciously for allowing such a thing to happen. He should have been more careful and watched out for the young wolf pup. He had been so caught up in his own duty he had let someone so dear to him be taken. Pain welled up from the depths of Artorias's soul, choking his throat as his grip tightened once more.

He had his duty to do and to wait another second was to condemn dear Sif to another moment of wretched pain as the abyss drove them further into madness.

Somehow Artorias found the strength to move forward again although each step felt like his legs had turned to stone. His body didn't feel like his own as he brought his greatblade forward readying it for the killing blow. Everything felt so unnatural and wrong and as if he was walking, no, swimming through a heaviness in the air that had not been there before.

Sif howled and snarled, lunging at him like a wild beast, eyes wide and black with hatred and madness. This was not the wolf pup he had raised. This was not Sif. That is what Artorias faintly told himself as the blade came down overhead, cutting through meat and bone wit ha sickening crunch. The death was swift and painless.

There was no more a snarling beast, only a still body of a dear friend and all the world crashing down about Artorias as a keening wail tore its way out of his throat. He left the greatsword embedded where it hit, hands falling away as they rose to his face, trying to stem the tears as he howled. His knees gave way and he might have fallen on top the still abyss riddled corpse if not for the strong arm wrapped about his chest, pulling him back into a tight embrace.

“I've got you Artorias. I'm here for you.”

The gentle words brought forth another sob from the wolf knight and he leaned heavily into Ornstein's embrace, fingers curling against steel with a small shriek, leaving scratches against the golden armor yet the knight-commander did not say a word. He stood firm, holding onto the other knight as he fell apart, unable to form a reply of words. The only voice to his grief was the keening cries and wails that escaped him, echoing up from the depths of his soul.

He wanted to apologize to Ornstein for falling apart like this and that the commander had to even hold and coddle him like this. He was Artorias the Abysswalker after all, the brave knight who could face the abyss and its terrors without a hint of regret or fear. He was a god that walked where mortals would simply be swallowed up. Yet he couldn't say a word, only hold onto Ornstein like the knight-commander was the last rock to hold onto in an ocean that swirled with nothing but a cacophony of emotions, none of them good. Regret, self-loathing, sorrow, and swells of disheartened valor were all he felt. In that storm though, Ornstein held onto him and brought with that embrace, a keen sense of thankfulness.

Ornstein said nothing as he led Artorias away from the gruesome sight. He merely kept his arms about the other knight until they were seated out of sight. Artorias was boneless now, sobbing and heaving as he pressed his face against the other knight's pauldron's teeth clenched as he fought to try and regain himself and speak. All he could do was sob louder with broken words of apologies croaking through the mess of sorrow.

In response,Ornstein merely shushed him lightly, fingers combing through Artorias's hair lightly, offering comfort. With some effort, the knight-commander even gathered the larger man into his arms, pressing soft kisses against Artorias's cheeks as if he could make the tears vanish just like that.

It helped some, but it would take more before Artorias would feel like himself again but he knew Ornstein would not abandon him along the way. Held in the embrace of the commander, he knew without a doubt that Ornstein would never abandon him and for that, Artorias was eternally grateful.

Chapter Text

Artorias had not meant to accidentally get one of his sketches from his last outing mixed in with the report that was handed in to the knight-commander. He had simply been in a hurry to get the report in and had not paid attention to which documents he had grabbed. The embarrassment that flooded through him when Ornstein actually approached him with said sketches in hand had Artorias already stuttering out apologies, having fully expected some sort of reprimanding for such frivolous hobbies during his duty.

He hadn't expected Ornstein to raise a hand to silence his protest, a small smile on his face as he simply stated, “What are you apologizing for? These are rather excellent drawings and give more depth to the creatures you reported.”

“Pardon?”

“I said they are quiet good. You have such mastery of anatomy. It almost seems like these creatures you draw are about to leap off the page.”

Artorias ducked his head sheepishly,looking everywhere but at the smiling commander as he rubbed the back of his head, “Your praise is unexpected commander, but really, is misplaced! I am no master. I am only good at drawing animals but anything else, I'm afraid I'm not the best.”

“Oh? Perhaps you merely need more practice.” He paused for a moment, his look becoming more sly, “Or perhaps just the right model.”

That had the wolf knight glancing up, cocking an eyebrow as his expression became perplexed, “The right model?”

Ornstein gave a nod, “If I may be so forward, I propose that you attempt to draw me. Not in full armor but rather ah, less than dressed.”

Artorias felt his breath catch in his throat but he still managed out a choked reply as he gawked at his commander. “Draw you naked you mean?”

“Well, if you would like me to be undressed, I would not be opposed to the idea,” Ornstein said with a wide grin. “It would be excellent practice for you and we rarely do anything together with how busy we are.”

“But, but I do not have the skills to draw you! I am quiet terrible with drawing humanoid figures, let alone the figures of gods! I'm afraid I'll disappoint you greatly,” Artorias stammered, clutching the sketch handed back to him to his chest.

“So you do not want to?”

“I,well, I wouldn't be opposed just, I don't want to produce something that would fail your expectations,” the wolf knight quickly explained.

Artorias glanced away, knowing full well his face was beat red already and glad for the helmet he wore that hid his reaction. It wasn't so much drawing figures that scared him. He had been wanting to try and improve his ability to draw others and practice on a few live models if he could. The part that had his nerves alight and his heart in his throat was the idea of seeing his commander naked. That thought alone was dizzying given he may or may not have something of an attraction to the commander and the thought of the lion knight undress were often the theme of the lurid fantasies that he pleasured himself to on lonely nights.

Yet here Ornstein was, proposing quiet candidly, to pose naked for him. Artorias did not think he would be able to sit still the whole time and no doubt he would be doing more to try and conceal his obvious arousal from his commander the whole time. He really didn't think showing up in full armor with a pillow across his lap would go without being questioned after all.

He nearly jumped out of his own skin as Ornstein clapped him on the back, bringing his thoughts crashing back to the topic at hand.

“You'll do fine. I'll come by this evening if that time is fine with you?”

“I suppose it is fine. After dinner and ah, don't let others see you coming into my bedroom. I don't want to have to explain this,” Artorias murmured.

Ornstein chuckled, giving Artorias an amused look, “I'll be as quiet as Ciaran is while stalking the halls at night. No one will be none the wiser but honestly, you have nothing to be shy about Artorias. You have a real talent for art.”

The wolf knight gave a nervous cough as he glanced askance, “Ah, well. Then I suppose I should go prepare for the evening.”

He was quick to walk off briskly before the commander could speak more words of praise. Really the problem wasn't that Artorias was nervous about others seeing his art, more the fact that well, it was the commander in his bedchambers. The commander naked in his bedchambers to be more precise. Artorias felt his mouth already going dry at the thought and already swallowing hard at the very idea. He felt hot under his own skin, positively melting in the confinements of his armor.

If it was any other person whom he was drawing in a state of undress, there would be no problem what so ever. He had done that before for the lovely Gwynevere . He had done that as a favor for the goddess who wanted a somewhat special gift for a certain lord Flann as a courtship gift. Drawing Ornstein though...

Artorias just prayed that he could somehow find the talent to capture the perfection that was his commander and managed to do so without embarrassing himself in front of the other knight.

The rest of the day passed in an anxious swirl for the wolf knight. He had managed to find a larger tablet of paper, one that could quiet comfortably cover his lap should his imagination cause unwanted reactions. On the small table beside the chair he would seat himself in were an array of charcoals, all carefully laid out from the thickest pieces to ones nearly as thin as a needle's point. All the supplies he would need for that evening. He was prepared to undertake this task but that didn't stop him from nearly jumping out of his skin when he heard the knock at the door.

The wolf knight took in a deep breath and let it out as he smoothed a hand through his hair and went to get the door, stepping aside to let Ornstein in, “No one saw you?”

“No one is about this time in the evening,” Ornstein drawled, looking amused. “You are acting like we are meeting for some forbidden tryst or the like sir Artorias.”

A blush rose unabated to Artorias's cheeks and he looked away, running a hand nervously through his hair, “Uh, shall we start then?”

Ornstein chuckled as he crossed his arms over his chest, arching an eyebrow, “Where will you have me?”

“Ah, the couch over there is fine. Just...make yourself comfortable. I'm not picky about the pose,” Artorias murmured, ducking his head as he shuffled to his own seat.

He was quick to pull the tablet of drawing paper over his lap. Ornstein followed, lips still curled slightly with a hint of amusement and eyes narrowed some like a cat eyeing something of interest. The knight-commander was far more relaxed about the situation as he took a seat on the couch, already starting to undress. He started by kicking off the boots he had worn before starting to undo the fastenings of the heavy robe he wore. Artorias watched, holding his breath as the clothing was pealed away to reveal more of the knight-commander.

Truly the real work of art was Ornstein's body. Every muscle was honed to perfection through tireless, daily training and years of combat. The golden tone of his skin seemed as warm as the sun itself and the red locks of the knight contrasted against it in a way that had heat coiling in Artorias's stomach. Ornstein had little shame about his body as there was no hesitation as he disrobed, letting the robe pool down off his shoulders to show he had quiet brazenly walked here without wearing anything beneath. After tossing the robe aside, Ornstein leaned back on the couch, one arm carelessly thrown over the back as he glanced to Artorias with a tilt of his head.

“So you want me to pick the pose then?”

Artorias jolted at the question, clearing his throat and keeping his gaze level on Ornstein's face lest his attention drop lower, “As this was your idea, it seems only fair to let you pick,” He murmured.

Ornstein chuckled some before he stretched out like he was going to get ready for a nap and Artorias practically drank in the sight. His gaze trailed down the smooth lines of Ornstein's neck over the swell of his chest and then the tight flat plain of the commander's stomach until his eyes came to linger lower. Artorias had to bite his lip some to keep the whine that practically rose in his throat. Even when not aroused, the commander was more than well endowed. Already the wolf knight knew tonight his fantasies would have even more fuel to edge him on.

“How about this?”

“Fine. Its fine.”

Artorias ducked his head, quickly dropping his eyes to his blank canvas as he fumbled for the first piece of charcoal to start his work. “Just-just don't move.”

“As you wish.” Ornstein's tone sounded almost husky but Artorias chalked it up to his own thoughts wanting to read too much into this situation.

He just focused on drawing and capturing all those perfect lines that sculpted the form of the knight-commander. It was not too difficult at first, at least when he had to only focus on the overall form of the lion knight. The curves of chest and hips to thighs and biceps were rather basic. What brought more coils of heat to his belly though were the details. The slight smirk Ornstein was wearing, that gentle curl of the corner of his lips and the slightly narrowed eye that were almost predatory seemed to peer right through Artorias, as if they could read his thoughts.

With great pains, Artorias drew in the gentle curl of hair that trailed from Ornstein's naval to the neatly trimmed hair nestled about his groin. Then he had to stop for a moment as his hands trembled a bit in the stroke as he peered up.

“Are you this bashful about seeing men naked?” Ornstein asked, quirking an eyebrow.

“What?” Artorias lifted his gaze to the commander's face, unable to hide the rosy blush to his cheeks.

“I asked if you are always this nervous around naked men. You seem rather flustered about something,” Ornstein said, closing his eyes lazily.

“Well, I mean, attractive men are attractive men. Would not anyone get flustered at seeing you undressed?” Artorias asked, trying his best not to stutter.

That had Ornstein opening one eye to regard the wolf knight, “Attractive am I? I did not know you considered me as such.”

Artorias's shoulders sagged as he leaned over is work again, trying to fight the blush on his cheek, “It is merely an observation I'm sure many people make.”

“I really don't care what other people observer or think, but I do care what you observe,” Ornstein shifted to sit up just a bit.

“My humble opinion really is nothing terribly special, I assure you. I am merely a knight, not some scholar or poet or bureaucrat, not someone of words with impact.” Artorias murmured, keeping his eyes glued to his work. “Although you honor me with your kind words.”

Ornstein chuckled some, cocking his head to the side, “You say that and then you speak ever so elegantly Artorias. I think you missed your calling as a poet.”

“You surely must jest commander. I turn a phrase about as well as Seath would running a race.”

Artorias could feel the blush gracing his cheeks and if the nudity of the commander was a terrible affliction for his budding affections to endure, then the kind words the knight-commander were nothing short of igniting that hopefully little spark in his soul even more. Still, he didn't allow himself to put much thought into that hope, focusing his mind on what he was drawing.

The full body picture was more or less done and now he had turned to other sketches to focus on. His hand moved as if it was possessed, the strokes quick, but made with purpose. He let himself become absorbed in his work to the point he didn't notice Ornstein sit up, already shrugging back into his robe as he came around to look over his shoulder.

“Well then. It seems I have inspired you somewhat, haven't I?”

Artorias jolted and looked up at Ornstein, eyes wide before looking back down at the sketches. He had not drawn anything erotic, not like he had feared his wayward mind would take him, but simply had drawn pictures of Ornstein's face, capturing those rare true smiles he cracked on occasion. Those sly, almost flirty looks that were given only in private. That look of absolute peace that Ornstein never seem to wear until this evening as far as Artorias had seen, as if all the world problems had simply vanished.

“I wanted to capture something special,” Artorias murmured, ducking his head.”Forgive me. You asked to be a model but I-”

“But you did most excellent work and practice is practice. Who are we to try and control inspiration?” Ornstein returned, a touch of a smile on his lips. “Besides, it is rather flattering that you find my face the most endearing quality.”

“Not your face. Your smile.” Artorias blurted out before quickly ducking his head. “I mean, it is such a rare treasure to see and I frankly don't think I captured it correctly. These drawings are really only pale comparisons and I don't think my skills are up to par to-”

The ramblings of the wolf knight were cut off rather abruptly by a pair of warm lips against his own, effectively quieting him down and causing his pale cheeks to become nearly as red as Ornstein's hair. The knight-commander pulled back a few inches, eyes half closed, that playful, secretive smile still in place.

“There. You captured one all your own to keep if it so pleases you. A fitting payment for a job well done, as always,” Ornstein said, glancing away with the barest hint of a blush to his own cheeks. “But then, such excellence is always guaranteed from the best knight of Gywn.”

Artorias looked away himself shyly, raising charcoal smudged fingertips to touch his own lips, unable to hide the smile he wore, “If you insist my lord Ornstein,then it must be true for you are never one to lie about such things.”

“And as I am one to never lie about such things, then it is also true that those traits are the same reason I am fond of you.”

Those words had Artorias looking up abruptly, eyes wide and he felt his mouth open wordlessly few times. Nothing escaped though but a few stuttered sounds that had him blushing more, especially when Ornstein leaned in again to steal a quick kiss, giving a pat to Artorias's shoulder.

“If you somehow find your tongue between now and when I go to sleep, I would not say no to your company tonight.” Ornstein said as he straightened up. “Your tongue or your courage to explore this path with me a bit more.”

Artorias nodded mutely, sitting there clutching his drawing tablet as he watched the knight-commander take his leave of the room with a slow gait, pausing in the doorway only for a moment to shoot a positively smoldering look over his shoulder before slipping out. For a long moment the wolf knight sat there before looking down at his drawings, staring at them for a long time. He could spend all day trying to draw Ornstein and capture his perfect, but then, why settle for a picture at all when the invitation was rather clear.

In fact, Artorias was questioning why he was still sitting there like some blushing maiden who had no idea of what to even do with himself. Hastily he rose to his feet, cursing some as he set his drawing tablet aside, nearly spilling the contents of the table to the floor. He straightened his tunic some, daring a glance in the mirror. He wrinkled his nose and did a quick draw of his fingers through his hair in a poor man's attempt to tame the wild mess of black locks to no avail.

He shook his head and looked away from his flustered reflection, clearing his throat and mustered all the poise he could as he headed to the door, heart thumping in his chest.

Perhaps he may not have captured perfectly the smile or the form of his commander to paper, but it seemed he had captured something far more important.

The affections of a lion after all were of greater value than a simple picture.

Chapter Text

Artorias sometimes wished he had been born more skilled with the use of miracles and could bend such energy to his will.

He had never been good at recalling the stories that such abilities relied on, often over embellishing the wrong points and forgetting characters. He was known to rush off on his own tangents and stories which was why at a young age his parents had opted to have him participate in a more martial sort of training.

Now though, the wolf knight wished he had something to fall back on other than the mere basics of tending a wound to fall back on. It would perhaps put him at ease and lessen the guilt clawing in his chest as he cradled Ornstein's head in his lap in a vain attempt to offer the wounded knight-commander some semblance of comfort in the bleak grey landscape they rested within, the corpse of a young dragon laying only a few steps away. Artorias had sent up the flare requesting support but none had yet to come. He only hoped someone had seen it. If no one had well-

Artorias swallowed hard and dropped his gaze focused upon the knight-commander's face, not daring to look further down. The bandages wrapped tight about the terrible gashes across Ornstein's chest were already turning red again with blood but there was little to be done. Artorias had already shredded his own cowl to make what few bandages he could to help. There was nothing else to do but wait and hope someone would come in time.

“I'm sorry. I should have been paying attention.” Artorias murmured softly as he reached down to push a few red locks of the knight-commander's hair aside. “It is my short-comings that have led to this.”

“It's not your fault.”

The response was pained and labor and the wolf knight could see the effort it took to say even those few words in the expression of the knight that lay wounded before him. Artorias could feel his heart clench at the sight and he moved a hand to gently press a finger to the fallen knight's lips.

“Shhh. Don't speak. You need to save your energy Ornstein.”

A wheezing laugh worked its way out of the knight-commander, a delirious smile crooking his lips, “Ornstein eh? That is the first time you've called me by my given name without honorifics,” he murmured. “I think I prefer it spoken that way.”

“You are not well. You are suffering from blood loss. Please, I beg of you, save your strength. I...I do not wish to lose you.”

That thought was the fear that was ripping him apart inside and leaving nothing but a cold numb feeling behind. If Ornstein was to die now because of a mistake he made, Artorias knew he would never forgive himself. It had been him, not the Dragonslayer, who had gotten careless in the fight. The wolf knight had not taken the young dragon they had been stalking seriously and had put himself needlessly in danger to tempt the beast into more aggressive behaviors despite Ornstein's protests.

By all accounts, it should be him lying there, chewed up by savage teeth and laboring for each breath, not Ornstein. The guilt surged up again behind the knight's blue eyes and despite gritting his teeth to fight back the tears, they still spilled over, one or two falling upon Ornstein's face.

The commander let out a soft groan, eyes fluttering open and with effort, he lifted a hand to weakly touch the side of Artorias's face, “We don't need rainfall on top of everything else, Artorias,” Ornstein rasped, with a small smile. “Do you think, perchance, you could smile? Just for now? The sunlight that would bring would be the greatest blessing of all right now.”

Artorias had to choke back a sob but he tried to smile. It wobbled on his lips but he forced it as he let one hand caress the face of the knight-commander. He smiled because Ornstein was smiling back, making the effort more than worth it. The knight-commander looked more at peace even as his shaking hand traced fingertips against the wolf knight's lips almost fondly.

“There is the smile I know.”

“Please sir. You need to rest.”

“You keep saying that. I am not deaf, merely wounded and-” Ornstein paused to suck in another wheezing breath, eyes closing, “I've had worse. Ask the heir if you doubt my words.”

Artorias shook his head, moving to clutch onto Ornstein's hand gently, “I do not doubt your words, but I just- I just don't want to lose you. You are a dear friend to me Ornstein. More so than I care to admit. The kingdom needs you. The heir needs you.” He paused, closing his eyes and pressing the hand to his lips, bestowing a small kiss to it, “I need you.”

Ornstein smiled more although his eyes remained closed, “Then you'll have me. I don't plan on dying.”

The wolf knight simply nodded, still holding onto Ornstein's hand as the breathing of the commander leveled out some as he slipped into unconsciousness. All Artorias could do was to plant another kiss to the hand of the knight and close his own eyes and offer a prayer to the flame or to any forces at work still in this cold, unforgiving world that help would come.

That was all there was left for him to do.

Chapter Text

Sleep was a luxury that Ornstein simply could not indulge in as much as he would like. It seemed every time he closed his eyes to rest, he was awaken mere moments later. At least when he bothered to sleep at all. There were days he would remain awake, tired but unable to rest, his mind buzzing with racing thoughts and anxious hums of what could go wrong, of things to do, and of the well being of his comrades.

When alone with no distraction, those thoughts always grew louder, rising to a cancerous din within his skull. Thus it was not unusual for Ornstein to prowl the hallways, taking long walks in the dead of night to try and tire out his already exhausted mind further until his body simply gave out. Not healthy no, but it was the only remedy that worked. It was rare to encounter anyone or anything on his nightly meandering but not uncommon. He had run into lord Gywndolin at times during the knight, the young man seemed to have an affinity of sorts for the moon. Also at times he could find Artorias out in the late evening, the wolf-knight also being one of those gods who thrived in moonlight rather than sunlight like Gywn and the first born.

Still, it was always a bit of a surprise to run into Artorias in the dark hours of the night after the moon had set, even more so when Ornstein had only found said knight by following a peculiar sound.

The knight commander had been listlessly shuffling along, eyes puffy with a desire for sleep and head heavy with a brain awake and chattering away with a hundred anxious thoughts, when all that came to a halt when he had heard singing in the air.

In the quiet halls in the dead of night, the sound had carried despite being so soft it sounded like a mere tinkle of wind chimes. He had followed the faint song, expecting it to be a servant or some visitor, but there, sitting alonet on a bench in the gardens was Artorias, head tilted back towards the moon and singing softly to himself.

Ornstein stood there in a tired stupor for a few moments, trying to process the fact that Artorias of all people was singing. Not some drunken tavern tune or a raucous folk song, but a soft, pleasant sounding and soothing tune and he was caring the tune very well.

Ornstein couldn’t help a slight smile. Artorias was ever the talented knight it seemed. An excellent knight and friend, and now it seemed, also an excellent singer. Truly the flame blessed the wolf-knight ceaselessly with numerous gifts.

Yet the moment was broken when a soft sigh escaped Ornstein, one more born of contentment but enough of a sound to cause Artorias to stop and look over his shoulder.

“Oh! My lord Ornstein! I didn’t expect to see you this late. I hope I did not disturb your rest?”

Ornstein merely waved a hand to quiet the hasty apology, a tired smiled twisting his lips, “No, I was already awake when I heard you. I don’t tend to sleep well as you know. Honestly, your song was...soothing.”

Artorias relaxed, offering a smile back to the commander, “It was a lullaby, one my own mother used to sing. It always helped to settle down to rest.”

“I can see why.” Ornstein shuffled over, briefly pausing to gesture to the seat beside Artorias. “May I?”

“Go right ahead. Honestly I would like it if you sit. You look one gentle breeze away from keeling over commander,” Artorias responded with a shake of his head and a sympathetic smile. “May I ask what is troubling you so that sleep eludes you this evening?”

That earned a tired laugh from Ornstein as he settled down beside Artorias, shoulders slumping as he leaned forward to rest his elbows on his knees, “I cannot tell you for I am not sure myself. The easiest answer would be to simply say I am worried about everything and anything my mind decides to dig up, be it fear for the first born or for troops or fear of leaving the ink well open so that it would dry up overnight.”

Artorias nodded slowly, giving a soft hum, “A troubled mind then. To be expected as you carry so much weight upon your shoulders. Fortunately though, I may have a cure for that.”

The response had Ornstein arching an incredulous eyebrow, “The healers have no remedy nor has even the duke himself been able to find something to help me rest. What magic do you have?”

“Just a melody,” Artorias responded, pulling Ornstein so that the commander could rest against him, “A simple song of old that will bring your nerves some peace.”

Ornstein sighed but didn’t protest as Artorias began to hum again. Soon the wolf-knight was singing gently again, rocking ever so slightly. He kept one arm about the lion knight’s shoulder as he did so, and soon, Ornstein felt his body start to sag. His mind latched onto the words of the song, turning them over and letting them fill his every thought. It wormed its way in until he found himself humming it, although his own addition was breathy and only half formed. He closed his eyes for a moment. Slowly but surely he felt his mind start to sink and drift and before he even knew it, sleep finally fell heavy upon him.

Artorias didn’t stop singing until Ornstein was naught but a dead weight against him and a soft snore escaped the lion knight. He had to bite back a chuckle at how cute that was. The solemn, stead-fast commander of the knights of Gywn snoring like an infant in his sleep. The wolf-knight merely shook his head before moving to gently scope up the commander and start to head back inside towards his bed chambers. He looked down at the sleeping commander, still smiling softly.

“I must say though, I lied before. I have more than just a melody.”

Slowly, Artorias leaned forward to press a fond kiss to Ornstein’s forehead, letting his lips linger against the sun-touched golden brow of the commander.

“I have that too even if I’ve yet the courage to give it to you when you are still awake.”

The wolf knight allowed himself a gentle smile as he continued his journey towards Ornstein’s chambers. At the very least he could take pride and comfort in knowing that it was he who was able to soothe the trouble soul of the knight-commander.

Chapter Text

A knight’s duties tended to be many things but some were less glorious than others. For example, upon taking his vows to become a knight, Artorias had not thought he would end up playing maid and be sent up to clean out old storage rooms.

Especially storage rooms that he was certain hadn’t been touched since the flame itself came into being with how much dust there was. The wolf knight wrinkled his nose in distaste and pulled the scarf up tighter about his nose as he shifted a box, sending up another fearsome cloud of ancient dust. The abyss be damned, the thing that was going to kill him was all this grime in the air that he felt like he was practically choking on.

As he stepped back away from the dust cloud, he glanced over to the other side of the room, catching only a glint of red amidst the much larger and more furious looking storm of dust brewing over there. Artorias could only shake his head at the zeal it seemed the commander had when it came to accomplishing a task. It was Ornstein that ordered this cleaning for whatever reason and the knight commander seemed far more invested in working through all this.

A sigh escaped the wolf knight, his shoulders slouching before he returned to work, knowing every complaint would fall on deaf ears with Ornstein so engaged in his task as he was.

“Don’t sigh like that Artorias. It is just a bit of cleaning.”

“A bit of cleaning? My lord Ornstein, a bit of cleaning is a rag and a few moments to polish. This is a practical desert of useless junk forgotten in a corner and an invasion of the kingdom of spiders and vermin.”

That garnered a laugh from the lion knight as he paused to wipe his brow, leaving a streak of dust behind, “Well, that is because we kept putting this off Artorias.”

“Aye, putting it off for centuries it seems,” Artorias grumbled in response as he moved to set another box aside.

The box though groaned in protest at the move and ancient wood protested before the bottom gave way with a crack and spilled its contents onto the floor. Artorias was just grateful that by some miracle, there was nothing of worth nor heavy within the box. Only what seemed to be old clothes and a few old children’s books. At the top of it all though was a very old and ratty looking stuffed animal. At one point Artorias supposed it had been a lion by the wisps of matted mane that clung to it. One eye was long since missing, the other dull with age. The fur of it was covered in so much dust it had turned from a bright golded to a faded dull grey as it aged. Really it was nothing remarkable and Artorias merely wrinkled his nose a bit before glancing up.

“Looks like we need to be careful with these boxes,” He murmured, trailing off as he noted the commander’s attention was not on him.

Ornstein had turned at the break, tensed and a question already on his lips that died as soon as his eyes fell upon the dirty plush animal. His eyes widened slightly and Artorias felt a moment of concern wash over him as he set aside the now broken box, “Ornstein?”

The sound of the wolf knight’s voice snapped him out of his daze and he raised his eyes to meet those of his companion. A small, forced smile found its way onto Ornstein’s lips, “My apologies. Are you all right?”

Artorias waved a hand, “You have nothing to apologize for. I should ask if you are okay. You seemed… distant there for a moment.”

“Oh,” Ornstein trailed off, his gaze dropping back to the plush, “Oh, its nothing just, that stuffed animal. I haven’t seen it in many centuries. I thought it had been thrown out.”

That caught Artorias a little off guard and curiously he moved to pick up the stuffed lion, turning it over in one of his huge hands, “Did it belong to someone you knew?”

Ornstein laughed softly, “Well, as I do know myself than yes, it belonged to someone I know,” he said, with a touch of amusement, “It was my toy at one time. At least...for a while.”

The smile and slight mirth began to vanish as quickly as it came as he stepped closer to Artorias, moving to pick up the small toy. Carefully he turned it over in his hands as if he was holding some relic of reverence. Both a bitter pain and wistful happiness were flitting across Ornstein’s face as he held the old toy and Artorias could not help but place a hand on his commander’s shoulder, leaning in some.

“Are you sure you are all right?”

“Yes just,” Ornstein sighed softly. “I have no memories of my mother or father. I was given to Lord Gywn’s family as just a boy to be raised alongside Gywn’s first born. To be his bodyguard, confident, and well...his whipping boy. If the heir was to get in trouble, it was I who was expected to take the punishment,”

Artorias felt a swell of sorrow rise in his chest as he watched Ornstein’s grip tighten on the toy some and a more pained look crossed the features of the lion knight. It was so rare really to see the commander of the knights of Gywn look so vulnerable, his emotions left so bare and raw, the pain could practically be felt.

“I was so young. I didn’t realize they were not coming back. I waited for them, clutching onto this toy. The last thing they gave me. It always smelt of home,” He looked down at it now, trembling before bringing it up.

Artorias could almost see the point where Ornstein looked like he was about to break. The toy had long lost any sort of scent, now smothered in dust and age. The commander lowered it, staring blankly at it before he glanced again at Artorias, “It was taken from me and I thought they threw it away.”

“Well, apparently it didn’t or someone rescued it for you to find here. I think it just needs some love and care and it will be just as good again. We’ll get it smelling just like home again in little time, you’ll see,” He said softly.

Ornstein lifted his gaze up from the toy and even with the sorrow still swimming in his eyes, there was a spark of fire, that small bit of hope that was slowly rousing the commander once more. That spark sent a pulse of heat shooting through Artorias that caused his heart to practically swell out of his chest and a smile to come gently to his lips.

“For now, how about we get out of this dust? This room is only going to keep choking the life out of us. We can send some silver knights to tend to it,” He suggested, moving to wrap a comforting arm about his companion.

Hesitantly Ornstein nodded, casting a look about the room, “For now but I would like to come back. Just to...just to see if there is anything else.”

Again, the lion knight’s gaze fell to the toy, using one thumb to brush the dust off the single eye and bring a small gleam back. Artorias nodded in understanding although he still led the commander towards the door.

“We’ll return after we clean up that fellow. Once he is sorted, we can find more and I’ll be there to help you sort it all out. Whatever memories of feelings we find,” He promised.

The commander of the knights of Gywn raised his head and smiled at Artorias, a small one, but the gesture was filled with so much gratitude. He nodded to the wolf knight, dropping his gaze back to the toy.

“Yes. That sounds fine. Heh. It seems that this old toy is still capable of gathering memories to it,” he paused before glancing towards Artorias, still smiling warmly, “Although this memory is one that is far more pleasant.”

That comment brought a slight blush to Artorias’s cheeks as the commander stepped away heading towards the door but he couldn't’ fight the smile on his own face.

A laborious task or not, it seemed that cleaning was not without its charm in finding small treasures and small glimmers of the past. Perhaps, it seemed, it also brought just a touch of something more.