Hyleigh stood slack-jawed in her mother’s doorway, staring out at the fluffy white creature flying in front of her face.
“R’hyleigh Hena?” Asked the delivery moogle.
She nodded—a short, jerky movement.
“Let me tell you, I thought I’d never find you kupo!” If only he hadn’t, she thought. The moogle began pulling envelopes out of his bag. One, two, three—they kept coming. Hyleigh was sure she knew what these were, even though a glance told her there was no return address. The delivery moogle handed her a hefty stack of letters, tipped his hat to her, and flew off.
She turned slowly around and stepped back into the house, gently closing the door behind her. Her mother still heard her, though.
“Mail?” She asked, holding out her hand toward Hyleigh. Hyleigh nodded, her gaze wandering somewhere to the other side of the room.
“Y-yeah, but they’re for me.”
“Oh!” Her mother’s face lit up with curiosity. “Who are they from?”
Hyleigh managed to shake her head, and she hoped her mother couldn’t see the blanch that grew across her face.
Her mother just smiled.
“Sorry, honey, I didn’t mean to be nosy.” She leaned forward and kissed Hyleigh’s forehead.
Hyleigh blinked, then chuckled quietly.
“What was that for?”
“Can’t a mother just be happy to have her daughter home?”
“Well, you’ve never been one for physical affection.”
Her mother smirked, then brushed a lock of hair out of Hyleigh’s eyes and tucked it behind her ear.
“Your health seems to be improving. It must be the Gridanian air and cuisine. I was so worried when you first got here.”
Then she turned on her heel and left the room, leaving Hyleigh alone. Alone with her thoughts. Alone with the letters. Hyleigh sighed softly, looking through the stack. Most of them were postmarked two years ago, but there were a few scattered more recently. The newest one was from three months ago.
She glanced over at the kitchen counter, where the serum she’d gotten from those Ul’dahn quacks at the Alchemist’s Guild stood. One sip of that, and she could forget these letters ever came. Or at least stop caring. She could forget all about the Warrior of Light again. But do I want to? She didn’t know the answer to that.
Marshalling more bravery than she knew she possessed, Hyleigh sank into the chair at the desk in front of the window and set about reading the letters. The ones from two years ago all seemed to be apology letters, but the new ones held a different tone. Anger? Was he angry that she’d stopped writing to him? She had been rather harsh in her last correspondence.
As she read, one line stuck out more strongly than the others: “Who are you to be shy?” She bit her lip. She thought she understood where he was coming from, and mixed emotions flooded her—anger at the way he’d treated her, sadness at the silence, and amusement at where she thought this question originated. Without thinking, she pulled out a piece of parchment and a quill and set about writing a response.
“Warrior of Light,” she began. She wasn’t going to use his real name. “The stories I submitted to Eorzean Smut weren’t written for you. You were never meant to see them. What’s more, I was under the impression that I would remain anonymous. They were just fantasies sent into the void, at most pandering to your adoring lady fans—but not to you. It doesn’t give you the right to treat me like a fifty-gil wh-” She stopped writing. Her hand shook. Ink pooled onto the page.
She took a deep, steadying breath and placed the parchment aside. She began again.
“Warrior of Light,” she wrote. She was still using his formal title. Memories of past letters flooded her mind. “I may have written about marriage in fiction, but my imagination gives you no claim over me. That’s the only good thing about being alone and lonely. I have the right to flirt with whoever I want. And I’ll always have the right to feel however I feel, when I feel it.”
She stared at the paper. She blinked a few times. Then she sighed and slid the parchment off the desk and onto the floor before reaching for a new one. Time to start over.
“Warrior of Light: I still don’t believe you understand. I wrote to you my deepest secrets hoping that you would realize that my mind and heart are fragile, and that I need you to be careful not to invade my boundaries. Just behave like a gentleman and I’ll be happy. You’re a gentleman to the world. Why can’t you be one with me?”
She groaned and crumpled up the parchment, threw it on the floor. She had no idea what to say to this man.
“Dear Augustine, I hope this letter finds you well.” She really did mean that. Despite their differences and troubled past, she wished only for the best for him. Not that he needed it. Nary a week went by without her hearing more tales of his exploits. His fame grew with every passing moment.
Her eyes wandered to the serum. One sip of that, and she could forget him for one more day. She wouldn’t have to respond to his correspondence. She could forget, and he could just be a hero she heard about from time to time. She didn’t have to feel anything when she heard his name, if she only took one drink.
But she’d been so lonely since they’d parted ways. Desolate. Her mind and heart had withered and dried up in the past two years, and her pervading feeling was that of hopelessness. Since the delivery moogle arrived, though, she had felt both come alive again. Contact from him was like a cool spring quenching her soul’s thirst.
She picked up the parchments from the floor and threw them away. She didn’t need to respond today. Maybe tomorrow she’d find the words. But there was the serum on the counter. No, she didn’t believe she’d be taking it today.