Estinien Wyrmblood's days often bled into each other. It wasn't for lack of excitement or chaos-- only that it was only ever the same kind of chaos and it made it all feel the same. Rise before the sun for training, work the day away. Go hither and fro, running across the frozen fields of Coerthas-- across the frozen remains of countless villages and lives buried in the frost.
It had all begun as a normal day like any other: save for the fact that the only thing he knew of that was buried in his near vicinity was Lord Aymeric De Borel's face between his thighs.
The dragoon squirmed and tried to catch his breath, tried to hold it in so that he wouldn't make the noises he was barely stifling. Estinien was a bastion of self control, but there was a hunger in him just beneath the surface that raged and roiled like a fire. The gaping maw of centuries of rancor, of centuries of hunger-- lead him sometimes against his better judgment, as it had this very night.
The Azure Dragoon had but one vice, and he made sure that few knew of it. He chose to take his meals alone, where no one might see that he rather liked the more expensive things as far as food and drink were concerned, and even favored sweets a good deal more than he ought to have.
He was ever able to trust Gibrillont to serve him discretely-- even if he didn't exactly carry what the highborns ate. Estinien had made a hasty retreat to his small slice of solace when he could free himself, and after changing in private to discard the recognizable mantle of Dragoon, he made his way to The Forgotten Knight. He rarely went out for personal matters in his armor, for none knew the face of the Azure Dragoon beneath his helm save for a scarce handful.
It was on one such night that Estinien had been particularly famished and sweet-talked into a little too much of The Forgotten Knight's mediocre spiced wine that he had all but run directly into Aymeric on the way up from the downstairs bar. He blinked owlishly, a spike of panic stirring the Wyrm's rancor within him. It was always there, lingering on the peripherals. He could not allow for weakness or slips of mind. With the eye lingering where it did; dissolved into his aether until such a time as he might need to produce it-- he could fall sway to Nidhogg's rage at any time. There would have been more danger of such a thing if it were not for the years long sleep the Wyrm had fallen into.
The thought of what a fully cognizant Nidhogg might be able to do to his mind was not pleasant, though he couldn't imagine it being any worse than the torture he'd endured while the men above him called it training. He quickly shook the threat of memories surfacing without his permission and swallowed thickly.
Estinien had been avoiding Aymeric for what felt like years. He didn't dislike the man-- quite the opposite in fact-- but he couldn't allow himself to give the man false hope. There was no hope for him, at any rate. He was prepared to die if that was what it took to make Nidhogg pay for the lives he had taken. Again, he teetered on the edge of losing control, or at least fearing that he might, and nearly wailed aloud as he realized that Aymeric was not moving aside, but standing directly before him and smiling warmly.
"My friend-- what a pleasant surprise." He intoned, a sparkle in his baby blues that made Estinien's stomach twist.
"Ah-- yes, a pleasure always Ser... Ah, forgive me what was it?" He pretended as he had for years already not to remember Aymeric's name. They both knew it was a farce.
"Ser Aymeric De Borel, of course my good Ser." He answered dutifully and without an ounce of scorn. "Now that that is out of the way, I should very much like to treat you to a drink. Or a meal if you like. Just as I said I would, on that day out in the Dravanian Wastes."
"I've just finished," Estinien said dully, knowing that Aymeric was the only person he could think of for which his iron willpower was no contest.
"Then join me for dessert, won't you? I can't think of anyone who lacks room for dessert when it's offered," Though Estinien was sure that was really just Aymeric-- a guilty pleasure they shared but often denied.
Stormy grey eyes flicked from the blazing sky blue leveled at him, and Estinien's mouth went dry. "Ah-- I... Ah--"
"Come, I shall have Gibrillont show us to the private room I've grown found of. Rarely do I indulge in the trappings of my family name, but during this unrest and talks of promotions well-- I rather like keeping my head down, not unlike you." In a sweeping gesture, Aymeric brought his hand to the small of Estinien's back, corralling and guiding him all in one motion.
Estinien moved on some bizarre sort of autopilot though he screamed internally at himself. He should not allow this. He should not let himself alone with Aymeric. He had known this from the beginning. The whores he could pay for with his stipend when he needed to forget, needed to bury the screaming inside of his head within the warm flesh of another--but just thinking about how he knew Aymeric looked at him drove him wild.
In a state of near shock, he drifted through the conversation Gibrillont and his fellow Knight had. Before he knew it or could think of any way to protest he was seated in a tiny nook of a room that he imagined had been a broom closet or an office once. There was a day-bed settee that had once been opulent, now somewhat threadbare along with a table and lanterns-- and a modest but plentiful tray of desserts with tea already served, as if someone had somehow beaten them to the room.
Outside, the cold wind howled and showcased the thinness of the timber walls within their stone outer shell. Estinien looked around the space, trying to find something appropriate to fix his gaze on.
"So, is this why you'd trammel me? To feed me cakes and titter on about gossip?" Estinien asked as he sat heavily in the chair across from Aymeric.
As if undaunted by the sarcastic remark, Aymeric looked him directly in the eye before reaching to the slightly tarnished silver tray. He lifted something covered in chocolate daintily in his fingers and leaned over, pressing the confection to The Azure Dragoon's lips.
"Is that a problem for you, Estinien?" He asked playfully.
A part of him wanted to slap the food away and bolt from the room-- again, not due to any displeasure but the deep-seated fear of feeling anything but that. Technically, Aymeric was his superior officer he told himself. It was an excuse, he knew-- but he obediently parted his lips to take the chocolate between his teeth and caress it with his tongue as he avoided Aymeric's gaze.
"No," He managed around the mouthful. "I jus' know you're up t'something."
"You wound me! Have you so little faith in my intentions?"
Having finally managed to swallow, Estinien answered thickly: "I have every faith. Well, leastways as much faith as a man who knows you and yet not at all might have."
He knew Aymeric haunted his steps. He knew his interest. He did not hide it. Estinien spurned him at every turn, pushing him away and building higher and higher defenses against his smiling eyes and plush lips.
He felt himself balling his fists into the slacks he wore beneath his pleated linen tunic, a soft grey blue that was not unlike his eyes. Fury save his soul-- it was not that he didn't want him, it was the absolute terror that struck him at the fact that he did.
"'Tis this madness of the Dragoons' ways that makes you react so." Aymeric said and for the first time seemed somewhat dejected. "I've heard tell of what they do to you, how they try to trap you betwixt the Wyrm's rancor and your own terrible memories. I think it a barbaric practice."
"It... makes us strong." Estinien answered, looking away.
"How should anyone make use of tools if they spend their time breaking their blades in hopes of making them sharper? 'Tis senseless violence." He continued.
"Is that how you see me-- how you see the Azure Dragoon?"
Aymeric blinked, caught off guard as he realized he may have put his foot in his mouth. He took a heavy drink from his mug and swallowed, then shook his head. "Never. I fair despise the thought of it. Of them hurting you as if 'tis normal and good. You have hurt enough, Estinien. You have suffered enough. You deserve none of it."
Estinien's lips parted slightly, disarmed entirely by Aymeric's impassioned speech. They stared in silence at one another until the silence began to stretch too long and then Estinien shook his head. "What is it? Do you want to save me? From myself? My sworn duty? That sounds more mad to me."
"I will, Estinien. I have saved you from your recklessness before and I shall do again, should the opportunity arise once more."
At that, the Azure Dragoon found himself unable to argue. He looked down at his hands, shrouded by the curtain of his white hair as it cascaded over his shoulders in waves. Suddenly, Aymeric was kneeling before him, settled solidly between his parted knees as he looked up at him.
"I don't wish to fight you or pester you, Estinien. I wish only to soothe your suffering. You are not some charity case or a mummer's farce to me. I seek only your companionship. I long only for the sight of your shoulders with considerably less weight upon them."
"By the Fury-- Aymeric do not kneel before me so, I cannot bear it." Estinien ground out.
"No? Then do not bear it." Came the soft reply.
In the end, it felt as though Aymeric always got what he wanted -- and Estinien feared he sank deeper and deeper past a point of no return. His base nature longed for Aymeric beyond what he could find words for, this he knew was true. It was no question of desire-- it was a question of what would be used against him in the future. Of what might be made into a weakness.
He remembered clearly the days he had still been young and green, determined to win his way into the ranks of the Dragoons. He remembered the pride at being turned over to a few members of the Heavens' Ward-- some members now replaced by younger and even fiercer warriors. He remembered the weight of one of their boots against his cheek as they held him down, cheerfully insisting that pain would make his power stronger.
"Aymeric, I have been brutalized in every way possible in the name of this holy war of ours. Of mine. But against your onslaught I am but a reed in the wind."
"By Hallone's Rage, what have they done to you?" Aymeric's voice rose slightly and his fingers gripped Estinien's chin suddenly, tilting his head up with more force than he likely meant to.
He looked at what appeared to be bruises decorating Estinien's neck like a morbid necklace just beneath his collar. He knew what dings from poorly fitted armor looked like-- not like the impressions of thumbs.
Estinien drew back as though he'd been burned. "'Tis a glad thing you chose a different path, Lord Aymeric. Such practices would ill befit a man of your standing."
"This is... this is not training, this is barbarism! Brutality. I will not stand for it."
"So you have set your eyes on the position."
"Estinien, please, how may I help you? How may I soothe the pain? How do you live with it?"
"Is it the truth you desire, my Lord?" He asked coolly, staring down his nose at Aymeric as he spoke.
"Aye. 'Tis all I seek in this matter."
"I don't. I don't live. I fight. I take their beatings and their violations and their constant blaspheming against my family's good name in the name of fostering my hatred, fostering my pain into a weapon-- And I drink to forget. Buy a woman when I can't bear to think anymore. What else is there? What more could anyone do?" He demanded, all of it falling from his lips in a torrent.
Aymeric looked pained, his teeth gritted. Estinien continued speaking, not giving him a chance to edge in. "Pray, do not forget that this is my choice. All of it, I choose. I am choosing it now." He said viciously, and for a moment Aymeric could have sworn that his teeth seemed a bit sharper than they ought to be--- his eyes darker than was right. Estinien's hair shifted as if there was a wind in the room-- but it was gone in an instant as he swallowed it down.
"I know. If only-- if only you would allow me to bandy some of the blows in your name. Let me give you something that isn't pain."
Tired of the conversation-- tired of everything, Estinien slumped in the old overstuffed chair, limply at Aymeric's mercy.
"What else is there, Aymeric?" He asked.
From beneath a heavy lidded gaze he watched him, his hair falling in soft waves over his shoulders and the delicate points of his ears. Aymeric felt as though his breath had been stolen away as he looked up at him, his heart hammering in his chest. It was now or never, it seemed.
"There is this,' Aymeric answered.
He planted his hands firmly on Estinien's thighs as he pushed himself up onto his knees and brought their lips together. The Dragoon tasted of chocolate and sugar still, even as he gasped in a bemused breath against Aymeric's lips.
A warmth surged through him like a dam overflowing, a river leaving its banks as it swelled. Estinien found himself burying his hands in Aymeric's thick curly hair, pulling at it as he crushed into the contact.
Hunger. Void. Voracious desire. These were things he battled against constantly-- to find them channeled suddenly towards something that was not the blood of all he knew and loved was shocking.
"I want you-- I will have you--" Estinien intoned, pausing to nip at Aymeric's full bottom lip: and then in the same breath: "I can't,"
Aymeric ghosted his fingers over the curves of Estinien's full thighs, and shushed him gently. "You're afraid. Be not craven to admit it. You fear losing control. You fear the beast within yourself-- that they've put inside of you. I do not fear it. I will take all that it has in stride."
Estinien couldn't withstand the onslaught. Every defense he placed forward, Aymeric effortlessly bounded over rather than trying to tear down. Finally, he uttered a breathless and desperate: "Please,'
But Estinien didn't know what he was pleading for. Aymeric brought their lips together once more, and he kissed him with just as much fervor, though a bit softer perhaps. Again, Aymeric shushed him. It was such a gentle thing, as though it contained within it a thousand words-- Let me take care of everything.
The act of surrender was not an easy one. Estinien shivered as Aymeric's hands made their way down his body and then slipped beneath his tunic. For years he'd had the doctrine of the Dragoon Knights hammered into his skull by the most brutal means necessary. He allowed himself little comfort, even though his foster-father did his very best to offer it to him. Aymeric had appeared to him as a savior-- and as such, stood in a place where he felt he could never reach.
Aymeric seemed to be the one in the habit of doing the reaching, and that was evident now.
At first, Estinien was embarrassed by how he twitched and shivered at the slightest of touches-- how his pale complexion turned pink as he allowed the other man to peel his tunic up over his head. He wasn't sure how he felt-- it was as though he were afraid Aymeric were mocking him. Then, he felt his fingers pass over a bruise next to a knot of scarring.
"I was there when you received this scar. And these--" His fingertips moved on to a crescent line of puncture wounds from a bite that would have been fatal, had he not had the power of the dragon to knit his flesh back together.
"Why?" It was a simple question. Clearly, it wasn't directed at the question of why Aymeric had been present at these events, but more directed towards the fact that he seemed so resolutely determined to treat his blemishes with such reverence.
"I have longed to touch you thusly," Aymeric said lowly. Estinien could still taste his kiss upon his lips as he plumed the depths of his own courage.
Resolute, he tugged at the leather clasps on the other man's fur-lined jacket and found it was the only way he could find to say that he returned the sentiment though he knew he ought not to: Fury save him, he ought not to.
Being on equal footing-- bare chest-to-chest-- was satisfying, but Estinien nearly turned bashful when Aymeric hooked his fingertips under the waistband of the Dragoon's leggings.
At the hiss of air that passed Estinien's lips, Aymeric hesitated and paused in his actions. "Do you wish for me to stop?"
He tangled with the lie struggling to claim his voice. Honesty won out, if but to shame him with a whispered: "No,"
And Aymeric obeyed.
With deft tugging, he managed to get the fabric down to where it clung to Estinien's thighs. Aymeric did not hide his appreciation or desire-- his fingers passed roughly over the well muscled curvature; reverent of the muscle gained from years of work spent perfecting the complex jumps Dragoons were famous for.
Estinien had lost the will to ask the same question that repeated in his mind over and over-- why? Why him? There were a hundred ladies of much higher status fawning over a man like Aymeric at every turn. He could have had anyone. Why was it him, a bedraggled, unkempt soldier who shied away from all social interaction that drew his eye?
Those impassible walls began to melt like ice in the sun as he gave in to the pleasurable sensation of Aymeric's skin against his-- and his lips suddenly finding his flesh.
Estinien's head fell back against the back of the chair as Aymeric's tongue teased at the tip of his growing erection. A low groan punctuated his shudder, drawn out by the slick pressure of the other man's tongue against the underside of his cock. He watched the top of Aymeric's head from under heavily lidded eyes, and reached out to pass his fingers through the thick, glossy curls.
A thousand pleas languished on his lips as Aymeric began to move, sliding his lips along his flesh-- but they became nothing but whimpers and sighs as he resisted the urge to buck into the warmth of the lips closed around him. He knew that the urge to let go was only something he could fight for so long, and feared what sweet, earnest, Aymeric might think of him.
A soft hum made him shiver from the vibration of it, and Estinien nearly buckled under the guilt of the fact that he was the one being serviced here-- he ought to have been on his knees before Aymeric, not the other way around.
"Lord Aymeric-- please," He breathed.
The other man lifted his head, full lips pink from the work they'd been doing as he looked up at Estinien with want in his eyes.
"Name it, and it shall be yours." Aymeric was ever enraptured by him, willing to give him the world.
"Should you not be the one seeking your pleasure from one as lowly as I?" He managed after a moment of spluttering.
"The Azure Dragoon, lowly? I seem to have missed something in my etiquette lessons. Ah, but Ser Dragoon-- would you give it to me? This pleasure you speak of."
"Yes--" A choked breath passed his lips. "By the Fury take me. Take all that you want and more."
"I will hold you to that, Estinien." Aymeric's voice was dark-- darker than Estinien had ever heard it. It sent a chill down his spine that made the hunger in him all the more palatable.
In the dim lighting of the room, the would-be Lord Commander's eyes seemed dark-- much darker than the crystal clear sky blue they so often were. As if following some wordless command, transfixed, Estinien shakily rose to his feet and transferred himself clumsily towards the settee against the wall.
Aymeric was on him swiftly, the bell like sound of his belt unfastening the only sound as he gripped Estinien's hips-- and pushed him down. He had been aiming or the cushions, but found himself pressed into the bear rug that covered the floor instead, the fullness of Aymeric's weight against him.
It stirred up dreams in him, dreams from the deepest part of his mind that he had pushed away over and over. He'd fought with the fantasy of it-- of Aymeric punishing him for the very nature of what being the Azure Dragoon entailed-- using the power of Niddhog to in turn, fight him and stomp out dragonkind at every turn. How easy would it be for him to become what they hated? How many Azure Dragoons had fallen to such a fate--
Estinien scrambled to support himself on his forearms as Aymeric's palms passed over the fullness of his ass, the callouses of a swordsman's hands rough but not unpleasant to the soft skin. With bated breath, Estinien craned his head around for a better look at what Aymeric was up to, the cascade of his snow-white hair revealing more scars on his back and shoulders.
Aymeric kissed a lazy trail along the ridges of Estinien's spine, and then paused to look around the room. A lucky thing, he thought-- the small carafe of olive oil for his bread. Something painstakingly imported from La Noscea he was sure. He was usually so careful of his indulgences but this was an exception. Aymeric lifted the glass stopper and sat it aside on the table, then began to dribble the cold oil into the little dip at the small of Estinien's back.
He watched as it pooled there, appreciating the impressive lean muscles that his years of spearwork had given him before he dragged his fingers through the oil-- more than was needed. He watched as Estinien's skin took a soft sheen, slick and lovely as he trailed his fingertips down to his entrance.
Estinien drew in a sharp breath of anticipation. He did not fear pain or discomfort. He didn't care if Aymeric was the worst fuck he'd ever had-- he only cared that he was this close to having him like this; to being possessed by him, and by carnal urges more desirable than Nidhogg's rage. He moaned aloud as Aymeric closed his slick fingers around his cock and gave it a rough stroke.
"Is this what you want, Estinien?" He asked, voice low and husky with lust.
"Y-yes-- more I. I want more." Estinien's candor was rare-- and appreciated. Aymeric slicked his own length, now so hard it hurt. He resisted the urge to continue his stroking, the desperation to be buried in something building-- and so he pressed into Estinien instead with agonizing slowness.
"Say it. Tell me what you desire."
"Fuck me. I want you to fuck me, Lord Aymeric." A nigh on wicked grin split the other Elezen's features at the admission.
"With all haste, Ser Dragoon," And he snapped his hips forward so hard that Estinien nearly hit his head where his arms were folded before him.
He desperately hid his face against his arm, so shaken by the force with which Aymeric could move that he could do nothing but fall apart: completely at his mercy. The first thrust was white hot, and then it was a numbness that rose into vaulting pleasure as he tried desperately to meet the wild pace that Aymeric set.
How desperately Estinien had longed for numbness on the nights when Nidhogg dreamed, when he relived with relish the images of those Estinien loved burning and running for their lives. Slick and lewd and everything beautiful that lovemaking could be-- Aymeric was chasing the eternal weight on his shoulders just that much further away.
Aymeric leaned over him, pressing his chest to his back and slowing his pace as he kissed the shell of Estinien's delicate ear. His warm breath drew a whine out of the dragoon as he ground his hips against the supple curve of his ass.
"You must know, my dear-- you feel like heaven."
"Sounds-- ah-- like blasphemy--"
"Then I will go to the pit of the seven hells for this."
"My Lord," Estinien shuddered and lost any train of thought he might have had as Aymeric's hand came to stroke him in time with movements of his hips.
A sound not unlike a sob came from him as he rutted against Aymeric's shapely form, his face buried in his arms.
"Ah, what's that? Are you close?"
"Yes, damn it--"
Aymeric let out a breathy chuckle against Estinien's ear. "Then come for me."
The command was as cordial as anything that ever came out of Aymeric's lips, but Estinien found in that moment he'd have done absolutely anything for the man. His thrusts were erratic and wild as he fucked Aymeric's willing fist, the combined sensations more than enough to throw him over the edge.
He came with a stuttered gasp and a low moan, and Aymeric didn't slow down, even when he was squirming and writhing. The only regret he had was that he couldn't see Aymeric's face as he chased his own climax, in turn drawing Estinien's out until he was a sticky, overstimulated mess.
Collapsing onto their sides in the old dusty fur rug, Estinien didn't know what to do with himself. He tried to catch his beath, but his head was spinning. Aymeric running his fingers along his side in the afterglow didn't help.
"Why?" He asked again, finally.
"I thought I'd made my intentions clear all this time, by how I haunted your steps." Aymeric mused.
"I can't. Aymeric, I can't-- this. This ambition of mine will claim me." He said lowly.
"Aye, and mine might claim me. What evil is there in trying to make the most of what time we have?"
Estinien was quiet for a moment before he spoke, his mouth against Aymeric's shoulder. "I yield, Ser Knight."
"Ah...?" Aymeric waited for further explination.
"I am yours. I will-- I will have this. This one comfort. And would that you know your feelings are not unreciprocated." He said quietly.
"A relief, to be sure."
They laid there like that in a comfortable silence, forgetting about time and place-- until there was a loud knock that made the both of them jump.
"Forgive me my Lord, but it's getting late. I'd rather not have to send for that liutenant of yours to get you back to the barracks-- she scares the piss outta me," Gibrillont's voice was muffled and familiar but jarring.
"No, no-- I'm quite fine just. Lost track of the time. Ah-- Gibrillont, would you have an open room for the night?" Aymeric called out as they rushed to dress themselves and clean up after themselves.
"...Aye, but-- could you not just return to the good Lord and Lady's manor?" It seemed an odd thing to ask.
Exasperated, Aymeric responded. "I would have descretion and peace-- if for a night."
Quiet came as the response on the other side, and something that sounded like a chuckle. "Aye, m'lord. I'll have one made right up for you in a jiff."
When he was sure he'd heard the footsteps retreat, Estinien asked lowly, almost miserably: "I take it you expect me to stay with you."
"N-Not if you do not wish it." But Estinien could read the crestfallen look barely hidden beneath Aymeric's pleasantness.
"....There are nightmares. I am no pleasant bedfellow." He muttered in response.
"All the better reason to have a companion, then." Estinien rolled his eyes at Aymeric, feeling once more bludgeoned by his sunshine-ey nature.
Estinien slipped into the hall leading into the inn's rooms a good long while after Aymeric had gone to turn in for the night. He moved with his head down, his hair swept forward over his shoulder for fear that any seeing them together might start a scandal.
When he entered the room as quietly and discretely as he could manage, Aymeric sat up, clearly having already resigned himself to the thought that Estinien might slip away from him and not bother showing up. He looked a bit stupified, bright blue eyes wide as he moved to the door in a bit of a bluster. Estinien took a half a step back, eyebrow raised.
"We've only just seen each other. 'Tis not as like I've just returned from the front lines." He teased.
"But is it not like that? I feared you would give me the slip, as they say." With little hesitation, as if their earlier encounter had broken invisible floodgates, Aymeric reached out and pulled Estinien into an embrace.
He stiffened for only the briefest of moments before nestling into Aymeric's shoulder. "Are we to be lovers now, is that what all this adds up to?" He mused.
Aymeric pulled back to look at him slowly, trying to see through his veil of cynicism. "Would it be wrong of me to say that I long for nothing else more?"
"Not wrong, no. Perhaps mad at best." Came the curt answer.
"Then mad, I may be. Wild and infatuated and so very in love with you, Ser Estinien."
"...You don't mean that." Estinien shied away again, as though the concept wounded him.
"I do not jest. I would never. I will give my best that you might see it as truth in time." The thought of Aymeric proving himself to him made Estinien's chest twist.
There was no need. "I do not deserve your affections, but I... I will admit that I long for them."
"They are yours." Aymeric kissed him again, light and warm. It was only then that he was coaxed into bed, and into a warm slumber the likes of which he had not known since before the razing of Ferndale. To think of nothing but Aymeric for a night was the only salve for wounds that would soon be impossible to ignore.
Estinien held the moment in his heart, tremulous and ephemeral-- with the smallest spark of hope.