“New spices here! Imported all the way from Kugane, and cheaper than anything you'd find in the markets of Ul'Dah!”
“Freshly made furnishings for your homesteads! Or if you're an adventurer, we've got the best in traveling odds and ends this side of the forest!”
“Come get your armor here! The best the wood wailers wear is now available for you! Protect yourself as you travel through the shroud!”
The hawkers of the Gridanian markets never failed to bring commerce into the halls of the Shaded Bower. Their wares, although mostly local, were of high quality, and the overt friendliness of the local merchants always brought a smile to the faces of the people they sold to, who in turn gave them reason to smile by the weight of their coin. Such was the way of any marketplace, Xion thought as she squeezed past the crowded culinarian's stall as he sold off his arrays of Doman Spice.
She'd come to Gridania with a purpose today, a purpose that had seen her frantically approaching her fellow scions for aid before they'd managed to slow her down enough to gain an understanding of just what she needed. Thancred had laughed when he'd heard what, and Urianger had smiled knowingly before offering his best advice, which had been to trust her own feelings on the matter. The twins...well, both had many an idea on what method to use, but their lack of experience made for less than feasible advice, starting a small fire before Thancred finally stepped back in to offer some tangible advice.
“I can't say I've ever had the pleasure of being the one invited out to dinner by Y'shtola, but suffice it to say that the best place to start would be to sort out your attire. I'm sure Tataru knows some people who could help with that on short notice. I'd also bring a gift if it were me—though unless you're trying to wheedle information out of her, I'd refrain from my usual favor of alcohol. It would be in poor taste for a first date, after all~.”
That had made Xion blush. A date?? Oh twelve help her, she'd been worried that's what it was. She had no idea what to even begin to do for a date. Bless Tataru for her quick thinking in finding an appropriate outfit for the evening, but as for Thancred's other advice, Xion wasn't sure. She'd already been to three markets across the world in the span of two hours, hunting for nothing in particular as she'd tried to find something she thought Y'shtola would even begin to appreciate. Gridania was a last ditch effort, hoping that perhaps the handcrafted wares might help somehow.
As she passed by the official stall in the markets, she began to lose hope. Nothing had really glared out at her, nothing that inspired Xion to think of her...crush? No, no, they were going out tonight. Just the two of them. Surely crush was the wrong word to use for such a setting? For her date, then. Nothing stood out that made her think Y'shtola.
“Please, let the retainers stalls have something...”
Stall after stall, smaller in size than the interior stalls of the Bower, lined the outside of the building, and it was through them that Xion perused, passing over each one she came to as her worried frown slowly deepened. Surely there must be something...something…
She stopped as she spied an old-looking tome, the leather-bound cover cracked some with age. After asking permission from the retainer selling it, she carefully opened the book to inspect it's contents.
Her eyes widened as she read, the frown she'd been wearing evaporating in seconds as a grin lit up her face. “How much for this book, my friend?”
The retainer looked at it for a moment, referring back to the notes from their master before answering. “Let's see...that tome will run you...237 thousand gil after fees, ma'am. I'm afraid my master believes it to be worth quite the pretty penny despite it's condition--”
Xion barely hesitated as she handed two pouches of gil over, handing a third, slightly smaller pouch over. “There's 250 thousand. Keep the excess, and thank you so much!” She took the book once the retainer verified the amount and practically sprinted to the inn on the other side of the city. Sunset was soon, and she didn't want to be late, especially now that she'd found what she believed to be the perfect gift.
Dingy and dark. The Forgotten Knight often got described as such and worse by many of it's patrons, and the general residents of Ishgard, over its many years of service. But despite the less than stellar opinion of the populace, something always drew people back. As far as Xion was concerned, it was a nice tavern, and most importantly, it was quiet. She gave a small wave to her friends and regular patrons, chuckling as she watched Rielle poke their mutual friend and mentor, Sidurgu, when the elder man barely waved in return. Looking around, she spied Y'shtola sitting in the corner table by the stairs, and quickly made her way over.
Y'shtola stood with a smile as she saw Xion approach, waiting for her to get closer before moving to pull out the seat next to her own, and sitting when Xion did. “You're as punctual as ever. I'm...glad that you could make it. I hope the short notice wasn't a bother.”
Xion shook her head as she slipped her backpack over the shoulder of her chair, smiling as she responded. “Not at all. If anything, I was worried I'd put you out. I didn't even know what to wear for...this.” She blushed as she spoke. “I hope I haven't kept you waiting too long. I know I'm on time, but...”
The sorceress laughed as she took Xion's hand on the table, giving it a comforting squeeze. “No, not at all. I'd just sat down when you walked in. I ordered us some wine, if that's alright. Ah...and you look lovely, just as you always do.”
Xion blushed deep crimson at the compliment, stammering out an affirmation to Y'shtola's question about the wine before managing to recollect her wits. “I was surprised you wanted to meet here. I would have thought you'd prefer a Gridanian inn, or even Ul'dah. Are you comfortable here…?”
“I am. I quite like the quiet atmosphere. It feels more intimate, and it's far more welcoming than anything that Ul'dah offers, to be quite honest. I'd heard you also liked this establishment, so I thought perhaps it would be an ideal place for dinner.” Y'shtola moved their hands back towards them some before letting go, turning to accept the wine that was brought to their table by Gibrillont, who left the bottle with a wink before sauntering back to the bar to handle a new patron walking down the stairs.
“Well, the food is rather good. It helps to have a warm meal with the cold air after all.”
“I agree. Now, should we place an order? We'll have plenty of time to talk once we do, and it won't hurt to give our wine a moment longer to breathe, hmm?”
Xion nodded, and the pair stood up to make their way to the bar once more.
As the night wore on, and the bottle grew to be empty, Xion felt much more comfortable, a thought she only recognized when she eventually found herself holding Y'shtola close to her, standing by the bar after paying Gibrillont for the food and drink. Y'shtola purred ever so lightly as she stood by, their bags hanging loose from her shoulder, and leaned up to whisper in Xion's ear.
Xion smiled, and the lights of her teleportaion magics began to swirl around the pair, enveloping them in light. The scene of the Forgotten Knight blurred, then faded to white as it did, and Xion felt the familiar tug of movement across space as she concentrated. The light dimmed as she felt her feet reconnect to solid ground, and she gave Y'shtola a gentle squeeze as she guided her inside her house in the Mist, having been repaired since the last time they'd been here together, thanks to Y'shtola's offers of aid.
The two made their way to the Xion's couch by the fireplace, dropping their bags in front of them as they fell onto the cushions, Xion humming softly as Y'shtola curled up to her side, laying her head on the others' shoulder.
“Mmm, I have something for you.” Xion murmured as she turned, absently nuzzling the top of Y'shtola's head and tickling her ears as she reached blindly down, finding her bag and pulling it open. Another moment of rummaging in the bag earned her her prize as she lifted the book she'd bought out, slipping it into Y'shtola's free hand, as the other had made itself busy gently scratching just under the hairline at the back of Xion's head. As Xion dipped forward to give her better access, Y'shtola flipped the book open, admiring the cover only briefly before digging into the words filling the pages.
"Oh, Xion...This book...where on earth did you find this…?” Y'shtola paused in her reading to look up, meeting Xion's smile with one of her own. “Do you know how rare this is? Records of the ancient Mithra barely exist in such a state anymore, and I don't think I've ever seen this one is nearly as good condition outside of the Great Library...”
The dark knight chuckled softly as she snaked an arm back around Y'shtola's waist, giving a gentle squeeze. “I thought you'd enjoy it. Thancred mentioned a gift would be a good idea for a date, so...I searched all over for something you'd have liked.”
Y'shtola paused, the response on her lips dying as she stared briefly at the other woman. “Oh...”
Xion felt her breath freeze in her lungs as panic began to bubble up. Had she said the wrong thing? Was this not supposed to be a date? Oh blast, she shouldn't have mentioned Thancred, his advice might be taken the wrong way by Y'shtola who'd seen all of his playboy tendencies and--
Her rambling thoughts were stopped by the feeling of something soft and warm, directly on her lips, as well as the sudden proximity of Y'shtola's face, eyes closed and skin warm to the touch. Xion's eyes drifted shut as the hand behind her head pushed ever so lightly, and she slowly encircled Y'shtola in her arms, relishing in the moment of the kiss. They stayed like that for a minute before pulling back slowly. Y'shtola's eyes were half lidded, a small smile lighting up the small space between them.
“Thank you, Xion...But in full honesty, I'm afraid I don't have anything nearly as special to offer you. I'm...not well versed in these things, and the idea of a gift simply slipped my mind...”
Xion giggled at Y'shtola's revelation, nuzzling their noses together gently. “Nonsense...you gave me a wonderful evening, and my first kiss...I can only hope there's repeat performances in our future...that is, if you..wanted to.”
Y'shtola smiled wider at that, draping her other arm across Xion's shoulders, the book left forgotten on the nearby table as she pecked Xion's lips with a bit more energy than before. “Mmm, so long as you're my partner for those performances, I'd be full glad to. But it's dreadfully uncomfortable to continue on this couch...and far too warm for our current attire. Shall we…?”
Xion wasted little time in lifting Y'shtola up, earning a peal of laughter that lit her heart up in a blaze of warmth and joy. As the lantern lights of the Caelum residence flickered off for the night, no one who spared a glance towards the house would ever see the light shared between the new couple, warm and bright and growing ever stronger as they lost themselves to each others loving embrace.