It was a brisk, snowy morning that Valentione’s Day, the sun only just colouring the cloudy sky above in splashes of pinks and oranges. Aymeric hurried through the streets, eager to reach the sanctity of his office before the day really began. Valentione’s Day was always an Event in Ishgard, one Aymeric dreaded each year more and more.
He had nothing against a day set aside for pursuing love – it was just that like everything the Holy See had touched, it had gained a somewhat… oily edge to it. The Dragonsong War had dealt a massive impact against Ishgard’s population – if people weren’t being outright killed, they were defecting or deserting, bleeding their ability to stand up able-bodied soldiers. So, to keep population levels up and encourage people to start families young Valentione’s Day was heavily encouraged and endorsed by the Holy See, especially amongst the lowborn, to ensure that everyone paired up as quickly as possible to squeeze out as many cannon fodder babies as they could before the inevitable (and sometimes literal) jaws of death came snapping down on them before they hit their thirties.
It was a morbid bit of history behind the holiday, but one that Aymeric somewhat understood. If it hadn’t been for that bit of propaganda, why, Ishgard would’ve fallen to attrition centuries ago. It was simply… well, Aymeric was a favourite on Valentione’s Day. An awful, terrible, unwilling favourite.
Maidens would litter his doorstep with love letters, lusty admirers would have flowers and chocolates delivered to his office at the Congregation of the Knights Most Heavenly, blushing noblewomen would approach, timidly asking if he would be amenable to attending a not-at-all-thinly-disguised-marriage-proposal-trap dinner at House so-and-so, and Aymeric would die a little more inside at having to fend off these persistent, heartfelt confessions with a heavy feeling of guilt and annoyance.
Each year, he had to creatively figure out ways to avoid the whole damnable holiday. Sometimes he could beg Lord Commander duties and go hide in Camp Dragonhead hiding in Haurchefant’s office until night fell. Unfortunately, Aymeric doubted his half-brother would find it as amusing as Haurchefant to suddenly host the Lord Commander in his halls without so much as a warning, so that option was barred to him. Also, he had a meeting with the House of Lords that afternoon so he couldn’t wander far from Ishgard anyways (damn it).
So, he was reduced to this instead: all but powerwalking to his office before the morning foot traffic in a vain hope that he could just lock the door to his office and pretend the world didn’t exist for the next twelve hours. He was a little miffed about this too, because he had to wake up before Aza did, had to leave his lovely partner behind in his warm bed, who had been sprawled out on his belly in such a provocative way and-
Aymeric heaved a sigh wistfully. That was another hope: the fact that he was openly in a relationship would keep the more moderate of his admirers away…
The Knights guarding the front doors of the Congregation greeted him by bracing to attention. Aymeric nodded at them, entering the building and making a beeline for his office. This early in the morning, barely anyone was around except those from the night-shift, and even his door lacked its usual guard. No doubt they were still dragging themselves out of their bunk.
He slipped into his office – and immediately let out a loud, pained groan at seeing the pile of envelopes on his desk. A little less than last year’s, he was a little pleased to see, but it was still a considerable pile, all stacked nice and neat. Resigned, he dragged his feet as he approached his desk, picking up a few. It was always easy to see what type of person sent them. Some of the envelopes were soft and cream-coloured, scented lightly with lovely perfumes and sealed with bright red wax – nobles, or daughters/sons of rich merchants. Then you had the coarse off-yellow envelopes, neatly sealed with a glue that the lowborn commonly used in lieu of wax for their own correspondence. These were not scented, but the neat, careful way they folded the envelope and sealed it was a declaration of their devotion all on its own.
Aymeric sat down heavily on his seat, carefully peeling open one of the lowborn envelopes. They put in so much work he felt bad if he simply ripped it open, so he undid it, and, because his decency wouldn’t let him do otherwise, began to read them all.
A few years back, Lucia had asked him why he simply didn’t just dispose of them on sight. He didn’t want them, didn’t want to read them, yet he wasted his time on them anyway. Well, Aymeric’s response was that these people put in time and effort to write their feelings to him, and whilst he didn’t return them the very least he could do was validate their efforts. It settled wrongly in him, to just callously trash these letters like they were worth less than nothing – and it wasn’t all bad, honestly. Most of the letters were of hopeful admirers, but some were pleasantly worded, expressing their respect and admiration of him.
He was halfway through the pile when Lucia walked in.
“That time of year again, sir?” Lucia said blandly, eyeing the envelope pile almost wearily, “Persistent admirers…”
“They are indeed tenacious,” Aymeric agreed wryly, “Quite a few have stated they’re quite happy to be a ‘mistress’. Goodness…” he tucked the letter he’d been reading – a sweetly worded, naïve gushing from a very young maiden, he was suspecting – back into its envelope and set it aside, “None for you, Lucia?”
“I will have more than a few complimenting my ‘Radiance’ sometime before noon,” Lucia said, utterly stone-faced.
Aymeric hummed but didn’t prod her further. He was aware Lucia had an admirer who regularly sent her something this time of year, but forever remained anonymous and mysterious. He wrote incredible poetry though, it made Aymeric somewhat jealous of his skill. Lucia seemed to like the mystery and unknown nature of her admirer though, so he just left it well enough alone. Lucia could handle her own private affairs well enough.
“Have nothing planned for Aza today, sir?” Lucia questioned when Aymeric picked up another envelope.
“Aza is somewhat ignorant of Eorzean holidays,” Aymeric said, “I doubt he knows it’s Valentione’s Day.”
Lucia suddenly looked a bit shifty.
“…unless you told him,” he sighed, “Lucia…”
“He noticed people were preparing for it,” Lucia said a little stiffly, “So I told him that it was a day to encourage people to approach their object of their affections and confess, or to spend time with loved ones. He seemed a little excited at the prospect of it.”
“Lucia,” Aymeric groaned, dropping the envelope to let it flutter to his desk, burying his face into his hands, “Why.”
“He asked me, sir.”
Oh, Halone have mercy… Aza was probably expecting something now – and Aymeric felt very guilty for not thinking about it. Couples did spend time together on Valentione’s Day, yet here Aymeric went to work without a thought, thinking Aza’s ignorance would mean that his partner would believe it to be another day. But then, he would’ve left his home eventually and be confronted with the celebration at the marketplace, and Aza would have no doubt felt a bit slighted at not being told. Or hurt.
But now he was expecting something, and so wouldn’t he be hurt now anyways? Aymeric was a short-sighted fool.
“Sir, pardon me for saying so, but,” Lucia said, “You’re a fool.”
“I know,” Aymeric dropped his hands, leaning back in his seat as he thought. Aza was still asleep when he left, and his partner had complained of exhaustion last night, so he should still be asleep now. He could race back before he roused… but, no, he had work. He had a meeting with the administrative officials in the next hour or so, to do battle with the great enemy that was Ishgard’s Economy and it’s ally The Recession, and after that he needed to conduct the monthly inspection of the armoury, and after that he had an informal meeting with Lord Artoriel to discuss their battleplan for the war they were waging with the House of Lords over the Adventurer Guild Discourse, and then after that…
“I’m too busy,” he said miserably, “There is simply no flex in my timetable…”
“I think the late Countess Arabelle de Valentione would tell you to make flex,” Lucia pointed out with the slightest of smiles, “You have both been ‘too busy’ in recent days to spend much time together. One would think Valentione’s Day would be where you'd at least try to make an effort."
“I didn’t take you as a romantic soul, Lucia,” Aymeric sighed with fond exasperation, “But, truly, I don’t have time-”
“I will take up your duties for today, sir,” Lucia offered, “I can speak to the administrative officials and inspect the armoury at the very least.”
That would give Aymeric the morning with Aza. Still, something in him wriggled uncomfortably at the thought of abandoning duty to rush off to his partner’s side because it was a particular day. Then again, Lucia had hit the nail on the head: they had been ‘too busy’ lately. Aza only recently came back from Clan Centurio business, sore and tired, and Aymeric had only been able to spend brief moments in him, running around as he had juggling the many duties that came with propping up a democratising country. They tolerated it, because they knew one day there will be a time where they could be together properly, but…
Well. Could he be blamed for wanting the morning with Aza, at the very least?
“For the morning,” Aymeric said uncertainly, “A few hours-”
“Until your visit to Lord Artoriel,” Lucia corrected.
That wasn’t until mid-afternoon, Aymeric thought, but he didn’t deny her, “Very well. Until then.”
“Very good, sir,” Lucia said drolly, “Now, may I suggest rushing to the Warrior of Light’s side before he wakes and wonders where you are?”
Aymeric huffed, but he found himself smiling, pushing up from the desk, “Lucia… thank you for this, truly.”
“Your happiness is just as important to me, sir,” Lucia said warmly as Aymeric left behind his many letters from admirers, “Consider it my own Valentione’s Day gift to you.”
Aza woke up feeling quite contented and comfortable.
The curtains were parted enough to let the soft, morning light spill in, cutting a warm line of sunlight across the bed. Aza purred quietly as he basked in the pleasant warmth, nuzzling his cheek into the soft pillow as he lazily rolled onto his belly, idly kicking the sheets off his legs. Aymeric had kept the window closed, the lovely man, so the room was that nice, almost hot temperature. It was such a wonderful state to wake up in, that Aza just let himself enjoy it for several long, selfish minutes.
He didn’t have anything planned for today, anyways. Aymeric would be at work, no doubt, so Aza would be left to entertain himself. Perhaps he could do a lazy day? His body was still a little sore and achy from chasing down that S-Rank hunt with Clan Centurio. He was getting too old to go running up and down mountains anymore. Not far off forty now… what a thought.
Aza frowned a little to himself at that, resting his cheek against the pillow as he opened his eyes to stare at the window. From the bed, he could see the rising spires of one of Ishgard’s many churches, the sloping roof of the mansion across the street, and a pale, steel grey sky, with flecks of snow clinging to the window. Snowing again…
He was going to be too old for that stuff soon, he thought sadly. Too old to go climbing up mountain peaks and see the whole world stretch out before him, too old to race across vast steppes and plains on Chocoboback, too old to lift his blade and fight wonderful, terrible creatures.
Too old for adventure.
It was a sobering thought, and one he was turning over in his mind more and more often these days. Each morning he woke up with his bones aching and his muscles stiff, and his blade felt just that little bit heavier than usual. Not to say Aza thought he was going to become a decrepit old man by the end of the year, but… he was very much aware that he was moving beyond his prime now. Hmph, figures Time could do what no man or beast could.
“Stop being gloomy,” he muttered to himself, closing his eyes and languidly stretching. Whether he gets old or not, at least he’ll have Aymeric. Maybe when Aza gets too old to romp about the realms, he’ll let him join the Temple Knights as a trainer or something… he already helped the green recruits with training exercises and he found them enjoyable enough. Or, maybe he could work in the Holy Stables, surrounded by Chocobos…
Aza settled, nuzzling into his pillow again and let himself imagine a lovely life of retirement spent warming Aymeric’s bed, drinking with his party, and raising Chocobos, drifting into a contented doze when he heard the door to the bedroom creak open. His ear flicked, instantly alert – only to relax when he heard Aymeric’s voice.
“Aza?” his partner murmured softly, his boots treading lightly over the carpeted floor. The mattress sunk slightly when Aymeric sat on the edge, and Aza hummed when he felt his partner gently rub behind his ears, mussing his hair, “You awake, love?”
“Mmhm,” Aza smiled, feeling his cheeks warm at the petname, and turned his head enough to nuzzle into Aymeric’s palm, “Had a nice sleep, was dozin’.”
“That’s good,” Aymeric said, pulling his hand away.
Aza opened his eyes, peering up at Aymeric sitting on the edge of the bed half-turned towards him. He was half-dressed, like he’d rapidly changed out of his armour in a rush, leaving the form-fitting, sleeveless dark tunic that rested underneath his breastplate, his breeches, and his elbow length, scaled gloves. It was a lovely sight to look at, especially with the sunlight behind him, accentuating his handsome face and casting a subtle halo behind his dark hair. His blue eyes looked down at him with open warmth, and Aza doubted he could love anyone more than he.
“What are you thinking about?” Aymeric asked him with a smile, the corners of his eyes creasing slightly. Even age was beginning to take an effect on him, but he just looked handsomer. Aza was willing to bet the moment grey started turning up in his hair, he’d make it look dashing and lovely.
“How handsome you look,” Aza said honestly. He lazily rolled onto his back, felt a thrill go through him when Aymeric watched his languid movements with dark, warm eyes. He went so long always feeling tense and wary when people looked at him like that, but with Aymeric – he felt emboldened, pleased. Aymeric looked at him with lust, but with love and admiration, and he was secure in knowing that if he ever told him to look away, he would do so without question in a heartbeat. There was something amazing in having that kind of trust in someone, “And how you’ll look with grey hair.”
Aymeric laughed, “Thinking about me getting old already? Well,” he smiled wryly, “It wouldn’t surprise me, considering the stress of this job…”
“I think you’ll look dashing with grey hair,” Aza told him, “You’ll be a… what’s the term? Silver wolf?”
“Mm, fox,” he corrected fondly and slowly leaned down. Aza watched him with heavy-lidded eyes, watched as Aymeric sprawled carelessly over him, as confidently languid as any Miqo’te, bracketing him between his arms and pinching a lock of his pale brown hair between his forefinger and thumb. In the sunlight that spilled over them, it glittered like gold.
“It won’t be as handsome as your hair,” Aymeric said, letting the lock of hair drop. He leaned down a bit more, his fingers curling into Aza’s hair and gently cradling the back of his head, his thumb rubbing just behind his ear, “Yours would glitter like starlight, I would think. It’d be beautiful.”
Aza felt himself blush, his stomach fluttering as it always did at such straight forward flattery, “Stop being a sap,” he muttered, imagining himself with long, grey hair. He almost wrinkled his nose in distaste, “I think I’d cut it short.”
“Oh?” Aymeric didn’t express disappointment – he seemed contemplative, “I’ve never seen you with short hair.”
“Bluebird says it makes me look like a dweeb.”
Aymeric laughed, deep and low, and it sent a thrill all the way to Aza’s tone to hear. It really was unfair how handsome Aymeric looked in whatever he did, but he didn’t mind it, really.
With a smile, Aza reached up to curl his fingers against the nape of Aymeric’s neck. His hair was soft – and a little curlier than usual. He tilted his head back a fraction, temptingly, as his partner’s chuckles died down. Aymeric was watching him, with eyes both fond and dark with want, so he let out a quiet, encouraging noise, digging the tip of his canine against his bottom lip to make it redden just so…
Aymeric’s gaze instantly dropped to his mouth.
“Aymeric,” Aza murmured, feeling something heady and hot every time he had Aymeric like this. There was something very pleasing about having his partner wrapped around his finger like this, where the slightest noise, or movement, instantly had him at attention like a dog waiting for its master to give it a treat.
“Mm…?” Aymeric hummed distractedly, leaning down a fraction but obediently pausing when Aza tightened his grip in his hair. Good boy that he was, he didn’t press – he (im)patiently waited, watching him heatedly from beneath those pretty, dark eyelashes of his.
“As lovely as this is, I’m just wondering…” Aza trailed off and relaxed his grip a little, delighted when Aymeric instantly tried to lean in again. He let him, tilting his head to meet the firm kiss his partner pressed against his mouth. He groaned, softly, and very nearly lost his train of thought when Aymeric pressed his advantage, deepening it until they parted flushed and panting and with a warm, pleasant heat already curling low in his belly. “Wondering… um…”
“Yes?” Aymeric purred teasingly, proceeding to immediately nip oh so gently at his bottom lip.
“Nh…” Gods, Aymeric always made thinking difficult when he was frisky like this, “Mn, y-you- ah, work?” he managed to get out, past the short, insistent kisses Aymeric was peppering his mouth with. It was so damnably distracting.
“Lucia is… covering,” Aymeric murmured breathlessly, kissing the corner of his mouth. Aza groaned quietly when his partner began to kiss a lazy, open-mouthed trail along his jaw, then, down, lower, over the column of his throat, his breaths hot and short against his skin, teeth grazing lightly over his pulse, making his heart jump and…
Aza found himself rapidly not caring why the fuck Aymeric was here and not at work. Something scratched at the back of his memory, about a day or something, but his brain merrily regarded it as Unimportant and ignored it. All that mattered was Aymeric, here, pressing him down, his mouth hot and insistent against him, Aymeric making that low, satisfied noise right in the back of his throat, like an imitation of a purr, fingers curled into his hair, scratching that sweet spot just behind his ears, making his inner thighs tingle and his hips start to rock, just so…
Aymeric suddenly stopped, lifting his head and smiling down at him. Aza very nearly whined.
“I’ve gotten a little ahead of myself,” Aymeric confessed without looking at all guilty or sheepish. In fact, he looked unfairly ravishing. His cheeks were slightly flushed, his lips kiss-swollen and his hair a dishevelled from where Aza had been pawing at it.
Aza stared at him in a flushed daze.
“What?” he said blankly.
“I saw you sprawled out on the bed and…” Aymeric cut himself off with a wistful sigh.
Some wits began to trickle back into Aza’s skull, and he found himself laughing huskily, “Are you sure you weren’t a rabbit in a past life?” he teased, “It’s fine. If I wanted you to stop, I would’ve told you so.”
“I know,” Aymeric let his hand move from where it cradled the back of Aza’s head, until it cupped his cheek, his thumb rubbing against Aza’s plump, kiss-swollen bottom lip. It tingled pleasantly, and he parted his lips with a soft, wanting noise, “But it seems a bit crass, to instantly bed you for Valentione’s Day.”
And just like that, the Unimportant thing his brain had cast aside earlier returned wildly swinging bells around. Of course, Valentione’s Day. The Day of Lovers, if he remembered rightly. No wonder Aymeric had begged off work – it was a special day and Aza… completely forgot about it. To be fair, last night he’d been so tired he walked into the bedroom door so perhaps he could be forgiven for that minor… memory lapse. Still, he felt a guilty squirm in his belly.
“I wouldn’t complain,” Aza said hurriedly, before Aymeric realised he’d completely forgotten about it. He heard it was a pretty big thing in Ishgard, after all. Wouldn’t do to disappoint Aymeric if he held it near and dear to his heart.
“Hm…” Aymeric moved his thumb, leaning in – but stopped just short of kissing him. Aza waited in open anticipation, lips parted, quivering – but his partner simply murmured, “Bathe with me?”
Oh, the tease!
Aza groaned quietly, knowing he could just lean up that last ilm and kiss him – but he refrained, “I suppose… if the water’s hot.”
“Almost scalding,” Aymeric promised, leaning away with a smile, “Rest here while I draw the bath. Maybe take a moment to, mm… compose yourself...”
Aymeric emphasised his words by very lightly, teasingly, pressing his finger- oh. Aza drew in a sharp breath when his partner’s warm fingers pressed against the tip of his arousal, rubbing over the sensitive slit gently enough to make him squirm and pant. That heat that had been curling so nicely in his belly clenched, hot and tight, and Aza curled his fingers into the bed sheets beneath him, not bothering to hold back his moans and whines when Aymeric took pity on him and took him into his hand, stroking slow, then sure, then firm, pausing only to rub his thumb over the slit, until precum dampened the tip, smearing—
Aza whined, low and needy, into his hand, and Aymeric’s eyes darkened, his partner leaning back in, as if to pull his hand away and kiss him, stroking him that little bit faster, more insistently, squeezing just so, a little, enough to make a tremble go up Aza’s thighs, until he was whimpering and gasping, teetering, almost- almost- almost-
His orgasm blossomed with a rush of white pleasure and a soft cry of Aymeric’s name. Sticky, wet warmth splattered his belly, and he squirmed and shuddered before slowly relaxing into his orgasm, groaning quietly as his hips clumsily rocked with the slow, gentle movements of Aymeric’s hand. He felt almost boneless as he finally shivered to a halt, opening his eyes to blink dazedly up at his partner, who was looking down at him with a wry smile.
“I really didn’t mean to do that,” Aymeric confessed, pulling his hand away to wipe it on the bed, “But you seemed to enjoy it so much, I thought it a shame to stop.”
“M’glad you didn’ stop,” Aza mumbled a bit stupidly. He slowly stretched, his muscles feeling pleasantly relaxed. It was a nice feeling, though his legs felt a bit wobbly. “Mm… I wanna… definitely need to bathe now.”
“You are a little… sticky. Hm, should get the worst off now, at least…” Aymeric murmured, shifting until he was leaning over Aza’s belly. For a moment, he wasn’t sure what his partner was doing – he was too relaxed to really care… only to jump a little when he felt Aymeric’s warm tongue suddenly drag through the cum on his stomach, lapping it up like-!
Aza made an embarrassing squeaking noise, one that made Aymeric chuckle low in his throat, and looked down in stunned amazement to see his partner bent low over his stomach, occasionally seeing the pink flash of his tongue as he lapped up a bit of cum. It was – kind of obscene and… and…
Aymeric straightened up once he was done, licking a smudge of cum off his bottom lip with a very satisfied smile. He didn’t look even the slightest bit flustered or embarrassed about what he just did.
“You… that…” Aza began blankly, “…that was hot.”
“Thank you,” Aymeric said, licking his lips before leaning in and – ah. The kiss was bitter, Aza tasting himself on his tongue, but it was – something. It made his pulse flutter nicely, and he groaned when his partner eventually pulled away, disappointed.
“Time for that bath, I think,” Aymeric murmured, though he seemed reluctant to pull away, “Before we keep getting distracted.”
“Mm… carry me,” Aza demanded.
Aymeric laughed fondly, but obeyed, taking him easily into his arms, “As you wish, my Warrior of Light.”
“And,” Aza continued as Aymeric straightened up from the bed, holding him in a very comfortable bridal carry, “I heard this day has chocolate.”
“Mm, it does.”
“Will we have some?”
“As many as you want,” Aymeric promised, beginning their journey to the bathroom. Aza shamelessly snuggled against his firm, warm chest, “This morning can be spent however you wish, love.”
Aza flicked his tail at that, pleased, “Mm, then let’s…”
“Hm?” Aymeric prompted when Aza trailed off.
“I’ll tell you after the bath,” Aza said cheekily, amused to see Aymeric almost pout, “A bit of mystery is good for you, handsome.”
“Then I await with baited breath,” Aymeric said dryly, but he was smiling.
It was kind of silly, how they were acting, but if today was a day of lovers, then a bit of loving silliness was just what was needed. Aza flicked his tail again, something warm and happy settling in his heart. Yeah, even if he grew all old and had to resign himself to staying in Ishgard, so long as he was with Aymeric… well, he’d feel young at heart at the very least.