Chapter 1: Needing to meet
Byleth was silent as she sat at Fódlan's Locket, accompanied by Leonie. She had made the request for her former student to become a knight to accompany her to satiate Seteth’s paranoia over the Queen of Fódlan not having any form of personal guard. She was definitely capable on her own, but following the now infamous Demonic Beast Incident which almost killed her… she couldn’t blame him.
There were many reasons behind why she chose Leonie to be by her side – one of which being that they had grew close after she slept away through five years. They had also bonded over a variety of odd and awe-inspiring tales of Jeralt’s exploits. Leonie was fascinated by the personal stories Byleth would tell, and in return, Leonie would talk about what he had done when he made her his apprentice.
“So, Professor… You, uh, don’t mind me calling you that still, right?” Leonie began, waiting for Byleth to nod as she looked into the horizon over Almyra. “How are things going with you and Claude? Obviously something must be going on if you’re intending to meet him here rather than waiting for him at Garreg Mach...”
With a sigh, Byleth rubbed her forehead and leaned further forward. “Everything is going well… There’s something which I need to tell him – sooner rather than later – which is why I asked to meet here...”
Leonie nodded, and joined her in her leaning forward. “Is it anything to do with Flayn going in and out of your room yesterday morning, looking really worried? Because once that had stopped, that was when you decided that you wanted to meet Claude here.” Byleth didn’t respond to Leonie’s question. It wasn’t that she was annoyed that she didn’t respond… “Hit the nail on the head, didn’t I?”
“Oh please, you simply must get out of bed!” Byleth could hear Flayn flittering around her bed, occasionally prodding at her arm. “My brother shall be very annoyed at having to relegate any tasks you have to do to himself, you know. He is concerned enough about his workload tomorrow when you are waiting for Claude to return!”
It took a few moments for Byleth to work herself up into responding. “Flayn… please… not now...” She eased herself out from under the covers slightly, before she clutched onto her stomach.
Flayn froze when she realised just how pale Byleth was in comparison to usual. “You’re ill! Oh Goddess, you look terrible!” She then reached out and placed a hand on her forehead. “You’re burning up! Since when did you feel like this?”
“Every morning for the past week. Why else could have I been waking up later than usual recently?”
A sudden realisation formed in Flayn’s head. “Oh my! You are pregnant, are you not?” Seeing Byleth’s eyes widen in horror was enough to push Flayn into doing everything in her power to find out if her assumptions were correct.
Byleth had started to fall asleep when Leonie began to nudge her arm. “Hey Professor? I think Claude is visible in the distance!” Byleth opened her eyes slightly in response, before following where Leonie was pointing.
There was a white wyvern in the distance, and straight away a slight smile formed on her face. A white wyvern was a rarity – only one was currently known to exist in Almyra and Fódlan, and that one happened to be companions with her husband. She stood up, and took a few steps towards the stone wall which bordered Fódlan's Locket.
A few more minutes of waiting, and finally, Byleth had the opportunity to reunite with her husband. Claude had barely been off his wyvern for ten seconds before he ended up in an embrace – it had definitely caught him by surprise, but fortunately wasn’t enough to stop him from reciprocating the hug.
“Hello, my queen… I missed you in Almyra these few days I’ve been gone...” He leaned down and pressed a kiss to her head, pretending to blank out the eye rolls from Leonie in the background. “I’m happy that you wrote to me, asking to meet here… It’s an ideal place for us to decide whether we return to Fódlan or Almyra...”
Byleth nodded in agreement. “It is… I don’t think I would have thought to meet here if it weren’t for my master tactician and schemer of a husband having an influence on me though,” she began, followed by a sigh as she rested her ear against his chest just to hear his heart beat.
She could never get enough of his heartbeat.
“However… There is another reason why I wanted to meet you here. But… I would rather discuss this in private,” Byleth eventually finished, before glancing at Leonie. “Please can you take Claude’s wyvern to rest? She looks tired after the journey here...”
As soon as they were alone, Claude took a step back from Byleth and closed his eyes and folded his arms as he leaned against the wall. “Whatever you’re wanting to tell me is weighing heavily on your mind. You were hesitant when talking, and your hands were shaking. It must be something pretty bad for it to effect you this badly...”
Shaking her head, Byleth also went to lean against the wall, but was facing towards the sun setting over the Almyran horizon. A few pinkish clouds covered the bright light and orange skies, and Byleth sighed.
There were times when she was travelling with her father when they were still mercenaries, and they happened to be at this exact location. Jeralt would like to spend a moment with her looking at the setting sun, despite the fact it would stir no emotion in her.
Would Claude ever do such a thing…?
“Come on, tell me what’s the matter… I don’t like seeing that sad look on your face, By.” Now Claude had turned to face the same direction as her, and had draped an arm over her shoulder before giving her a reassuring squeeze. “Byleth?”
“Sorry… I was about to talk but got reminded of something I used to do with my father when I noticed the sunset,” she muttered, leaning into the warmth of Claude’s body. “I… started to wonder whether you would also- No. No, I’m not making sense here...”
Creases formed on Claude’s forehead when he frowned, and decided to turn Byleth around so that she was facing him. “You’re worrying me, Byleth.”
Everything in the Byleth’s head was starting to overwhelm her by this point – nostalgia and sadness were fighting against her happiness and excitement. However, fear was the dominant emotion. She still wasn’t used to feeling so many different things at once. Claude looking so worried though… it had been enough for her to finally break down.
Tear were streaming down her face as her fingers dug into his shirt. She remained like that for a few minutes, her body shaking as her sobs escaped her. He could only rub his hands on her back to calm her down – it was the best he could do in the current situation.
Eventually though, she stepped back slightly, and wiped her eyes. “Claude… I- I’m pregnant. And… And-!” She saw his green eyes open wide with shock. “And I’m scared. I’m… hah… Really fucking scared...”
Soon enough, she felt Claude press a soft kiss to her forehead, and his hands came to rest on the sides of her waist. “That is… Wow...” Despite her confession of her worries, he knew exactly what to do to calm the mood. “This is incredible… A mini version of us… And already you’re teaching them swear words.”
Chapter 2: A reason for secrecy
Claude and Byleth talk about their unborn child in Derdriu.
In Garreg Mach, Seteth finds Flayn reading some concerning books...
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Claude was silent as he held onto Byleth, the two of them sat on the bed which they shared whenever they were in Derdriu. After she had revealed that she was pregnant, he had decided that it would be best for them to go somewhere more comfortable to talk about it. He had retrieved his wyvern (much to Leonie’s annoyance, after she had been able to get her to rest) before telling her his intentions of going to their residence in Derdriu.
Leonie knew she couldn’t talk Claude nor Byleth out of leaving Fódlan's Locket, so decided to venture back to her village before informing Seteth the next day.
“Do we… know anything other than the fact that you are…?” Claude eventually whispered, pulling her closer to him so that her back was resting against his chest, to give him the opportunity to rest his hands on her stomach.
“No… It’s apparently a slight bit early to find anything else out. But… soon. We should be able to… soon.” Byleth slowly moved her arms so that she could rest her hands on his, and closed her eyes. “You’re not upset or annoyed about this, are you?”
Claude sighed, and pressed a kiss to the top of her head. “Of course not! Don’t you remember what we discussed a few months ago? If it happens, it happens. And fate has decided that it has happened.” He then nuzzled his face into her hair. “And I have to say, fate has chosen a wonderful time. Fódlan and Almyra are at relative peace. There are still troubles, but they can be worked out. Plus… This little one… He or she won’t go through most of the difficulties we both went through. I mean, having one parent who is half-Almyran and half-Fódlan, and the other just so happening to be a vessel for the Goddess Sothis will be quite tough, but they won’t go through the harsh stares on the street… the manipulation from those in power…”
As Claude found himself rambling on about the world which their child would be born into, he noticed that Byleth had turned her head so that her ear was resting against his chest. A faint smile formed on his face, knowing that it was her way of keeping herself calm.
“Byleth… I’m not going to leave your side from now on. Wherever either of us go… we go together. Whether we’re in Fódlan or Almyra… I will be with you. With you and our child...”
The pair remained in a comfortable silence after that, after Byleth had finally settled herself down and Claude had assured her that he was delighted rather than annoyed.
Unfortunately, there were a series of loud shouts and thuds outside once they had completely wound down, much to their annoyance.
Byleth stood up with a groan, and went over to the window to look over the streets of Derdriu. Claude remained sat on the bed, looking over at her to wait for her to say what was happening.
All of the colour drained from Byleth’s face.
“C- Claude… There’s one of them...” She pointed in the distance, her eyes wide and her hand trembling. “There’s a demonic beast…”
Almost instinctively, Claude was on his feet, grabbing hold of a bow which he kept in the room as a precaution. He then placed a hand on Byleth’s shoulder, his face serious. “Stay here. After last time… I don’t want you to get hurt like that again. And I certainly don’t want the little one to be lost...”
As much as she despised the idea, she nodded in agreement. She didn’t want to end up in a situation where her life was on the line, and having to use Claude as a crutch for at least a week simply to keep some sort of normality to her life.
She sat down on the bed once more, and crossed her arms over as Claude left. There she would remain for at least ten minutes, the only movement which she would make being a slight tap of her foot, or her pursing her lips together as she thought about how a demonic beast even appeared in the middle of the city.
Eventually though, she grew worried. Worst-case scenarios drifted in and out of her mind.
What if one of those beasts plunged its claws into Claude’s chest?
What if somebody had planned this, and made somebody possess an incompatible crest stone… all for the sake of killing either her or Claude? Or both of them?
What if Claude died?
Eventually, her thoughts became too much for her. She dealt better with situations like this though action, not sitting and waiting.
She was going to join the fight.
With a determined look on her face, she grabbed her sword and made her way towards the streets. When she was finally outside though, she hesitated.
What if she did something that would harm the baby?
Her thoughts were quickly pushed to the back of her mind when she placed her free hand against her stomach. “I’ll protect you… I’ll protect you and your father. I won’t let my family be torn away from me again...”
With a new look of determination on her face, she proceeded towards the front lines of the battle against the demonic beast.
“Flayn! What are you doing in here so late at night?” In the search for Flayn, Seteth had followed a variety of different leads all over Garreg Mach, just to find out why she hadn’t been present in the dining hall at mealtimes that day. “I can understand the feeling of wanting to finish reading a good novel, but is it truly worth missing all three meals of the day?”
When he fad finally caught sight of her green hair illuminated by candle-light in the library, he began to lecture her as he walked over to her. “Flayn, can you hear me?”
Seteth eventually reached the desk which Flayn was sat at, and realised that she had fallen asleep with stacks of books around her, and one under her head. “Goodness, she must have tired herself out...”
He then moved some of her hair out of the way, and his eyes narrowed when he realised what she had been reading. It was a medical book, discussing treatments of an ailment… an ailment which only impacted women. Who were pregnant.
“Flayn!” His voice was louder than it had been before, and Flayn shrieked as she sat up, startled by Seteth’s closeness. “Flayn, what in the name of the Goddess are you reading?!” She had to take a few moments to wake herself up, but Seteth continued speaking. “And why are you reading this?! Is this to do with you? It was that Ignatz, wasn’t-!”
“Brother!” When it sank in what he was saying, Flayn knew that she had to stop him in his tracks as soon as possible. “This is not for me! I would have informed you of anything if that were the case! This is for-!” She paused when she realised that she probably shouldn’t announce anything more. “I… Believe it would be best if I were to not reveal anything more.”
Seteth’s brow creased, and his eyes narrowed. He was still suspicious that she was not telling him the truth.
“Goodness, Brother… You simply do not let up, do you?” She took a deep breath. “The Prof- Byleth is pregnant. She has recently been plagued with morning sickness, and I could not bear to see her suffer as such! It is why she wanted to meet Claude at Fódlan’s Locket, rather than here!”
Seteth’s face softened as he processed what Flayn was saying. He was still concerned at first that she was lying, but unfortunately… it all made sense.
Byleth had been waking up late, and always looked pale when she went about her duties. And if Claude was not aware… She would likely have to tell him before Flayn revealed the news pre-emptively upon his return.
He then pinched the bridge of his nose as he sighed. “Flayn… Do you know just how important this news is? The people of Fódlan and Almyra… They would be getting a new prince or princess. Neither Byleth nor Claude would have much chance to rest, with caring for the child and having to satiate the public’s desire to see their child.”
“Oh… That would simply not do!”
“Indeed… We will have to make sure that this news remains quiet for now, unless they desire to inform the masses.”
Despite this, they didn’t know about what was happening in Derdriu at that exact moment.
Claude groaned as he hid by the side of a building, doing his best to catch his breath. The demonic beast had put up a good fight, that was certain, but it was nearing death’s door. He just needed a few moments to recuperate. To catch his breath and steady his aim.
“Just a few more minutes and I’ll be able to go home… First, however...” He went to grab hold of one of the arrows which he had brought with him, but realised after a few attempts of taking hold of nothing but air, he had ran out. “Damn it-!”
He eyed up some discarded arrows which had failed to meet their mark earlier in the battle, though they were in the open, and also in the beast’s line of sight. He knew he would need to gather them in order to bring the beast down, but as for whether he could do that without getting hurt…
Before he could consider his options further, something strangely familiar shot out from another side-street, and pierced the flesh of the limping beast. A horrific cry echoed through the city, resulting in more people who lived in the houses in the danger area fleeing.
In addition to that… the arrows were no longer in the beast’s vision. He could take hold of them and help the mystery ally in taking down the creature.
He then grabbed hold of the arrows, and prepared to shoot the weak-points. He released his arrows one by one, and each of them hit their mark… except for one. The weapon from earlier covered for him though, and hit the beast.
It crashed down to the ground, all signs of life having left it.
Then Claude realised who the other person fighting had been.
“Byleth!” His hand tightened around his bow, and he briskly made his way over to his wife. “What are you doing here? I asked for you to stay at home!” His bow fell to the ground with a heavy clatter, before he took a firm grasp of her shoulders. “Why…?”
Byleth couldn’t look him in the eye, but she still spoke. “I couldn’t… I couldn’t stay sat around. I was thinking far too much about the why and how and what about the beast appearing… I was scared that what happened to me would happen to you.” She then dropped her own weapon, followed by her fists clenching. “I didn’t want to lose you...”
“And I didn’t want to lose you or our baby!”
Before the couple could speak any further, loud whispers and gasps echoed around them. The people of Derdriu had gathered to see the fallen demonic beast, and just so happened to also encounter the pair and their discussion.
“No way… The King and Queen are going to be having a child? And the Queen was just fighting that beast?!”
“But I heard that the Queen is terrified of demonic beasts! She was almost killed by one in the last Guardian Moon!”
“It’s quite reckless for either of them to have been fighting the beast… it should have been left to the knights!”
“I can’t wait to tell my cousins in Fhirdiad and siblings in Enbarr though, there’s going to be a royal baby!”
Claude mouthed the word ‘sorry’ to Byleth, before he took hold of her hand. “Let’s get out of here…”
“Agreed...” Byleth then leaned in to his ear. “We’ll talk about this more in Almyra.”
He nodded in response, and started walking away from the crowds with her… before he realised what she had just said.
“Almyra…? You want to go… to Almyra?”
“That is what I said...”
Chapter 3: Cultural differences
Byleth still isn't completely used to Almyran culture, but would much rather be there with Claude than endure the chaos of Fodlan discovering her pregnancy.
Today on: two completely inexperienced future parents making major mistakes........ Byleth meets her in-laws.
Despite having been to Almyra a good few times since marrying Claude, Byleth could still never quite get used to the contrast in cultures and environments. Fódlan was known for being cold, and built upon a system of nobility. Almyra, however, was warm and the people were warriors – the more well known in Almyra you were, the chances were, you were a good fighter.
As well as that, there were physical differences. It would be difficult to find a place in Fódlan where there wouldn’t be something to do with the Church of Seiros there – how Jeralt had managed to shield her from it for over twenty years was a complete mystery – whereas Almyra had very intricate decorations and structures.
However, there was one thing which she had become used to… The feasts the people would have after battle in Almyra. Byleth enjoyed them greatly. It was a concept which Claude had introduced to her whilst he was her student, and it quickly grew to become routine on the days where the Golden Deer house went out to battle – they would return to the monastery and have a feast.
Byleth was actually very much in the mood for a large meal when she and Claude arrived in Almyra’s capital. However… Claude had other things on his mind. He had been worried ever since he realised that she had joined him in battle.
“I feel as though I should apologise again, Byleth...” He whispered when he helped her off his wyvern, before jumping off himself. “I shouldn’t have been so angry that you had joined the fight. If anyone… you’re probably the strongest person that I know. I mean, you’re the daughter of Jeralt the Blade Breaker, known as the Ashen Demon, defeater of Nemesis, wielder of the Sword of the Creator… If there’s anyone I can trust to keep our child safe… it’s definitely you.”
A slight blush formed on Byleth’s face, before she took hold of his hand and squeezed it. “You shouldn’t have to apologise… I was quite reckless, going out to fight. You were on the verge of winning when I got there, my presence simply sped up the fight by about a minute. And… it wouldn’t have led to you shouting. And letting the entirety of Derdriu know that we’re expecting.”
The two were at an impasse, attempting to remove the blame from the other for the situation which they had caused. They fell silent when they knew that they weren’t going to get anywhere, but it didn’t stop them from going inside the city hand-in-hand.
It was surprising just how much the city reminded her of places such as Garreg Mach, with the bustling marketplace and towering structures. Of course, there was the obvious Almyran flair to the buildings, including the castle in the middle.
It was still extremely strange thinking that this was where Claude was born and raised, and that his family had lived here for generations (aside from his mother, of course.)
Claude eventually slowed down his pace, and was looking at the sky. He realised that his wyvern was up there, mingling with the others which had decided to fly about that morning. He smiled, knowing that both he and his wyvern were home… He also began to wonder whether Byleth would eventually consider this place as one of her homes.
“She’s really enjoying herself, isn’t she?” Byleth smiled, leaning into Claude’s shoulder as he continued looking up. “For someone who tries to hide his emotions so that he can’t be manipulated… I can read you like an open book.”
“Maybe it’s just that I feel as though I can be open with you, Byleth...” He then let go of her hand, and instead wrapped his arm around her waist. “Now… We’ve been awake all night. We should head home… get some rest, and-”
“You want to eat?”
“Of course, I’ve loved the food whenever I’ve been here, Claude.”
“Right then… We’ll get some rest, then we’ll eat. We’ll have a feast to celebrate the little one…”
When Byleth woke up, she had to take a moment to figure out where she was. She had almost forgotten that she wasn’t in the comforts of home in Derdriu, or taking time to carry out her duties as Queen of Fódlan and vessel of the Goddess in Garreg Mach. She was in Almyra.
Noticing that Claude was still sleeping soundly, Byleth decided to take it upon herself to stretch her legs seeming as she was surprisingly not feeling unwell at that moment in time. Though she had rarely been in the castle, she was vaguely familiar with the layout. The first time she had been there, she had been guided around by a woman who seemed extremely happy with her presence. It had later turned out that the woman just so happened to be Claude’s mother.
When she stepped out of the room, she almost instantly bumped into a figure who seemed to be heading towards the room. Instinctively she grabbed hold of the dagger she had sheathed around her waist (even whilst she slept), and held it towards the throat of the person who was there.
Just as quickly, the person took hold of her wrist and pulled it away from their throat.
“It seems he’s got himself a strong one...” Byleth was concerned as she felt the dagger drop from her hand onto the floor, before there was a deep chuckle. “You are… Byleth. The woman of Fódlan which Claude married?”
Byleth grew pale when she realised that the person knew who she was.
Of course whoever this was would know her – Claude had told the entire country that he was married to her!
“Has he never told you about his old man? I’ll have to have a word with him about that...”
“You are… Claude’s father?!” Byleth then took a closer look at the man after her wrist was released. Distinctly Almyran skin-tone… Dark hair… Looks like Claude… “I am sor-!”
The man laughed loudly then, probably loud enough to wake Claude up despite the door being closed, before she felt a rough pat on her shoulder. “I would have done the same. And a word of advice… Be careful if you want to apologise. Some Almyrans would start a fight to see if you can prove you are ‘sorry’.”
“R- Right...” She then crouched down to recover her dagger, feeling horribly embarrassed that she almost stabbed Claude’s father. “Claude is asleep if you’re after him...”
Claude’s father shook his head. “No… I was after you. People were saying they saw you and Claude in the city at daybreak this morning. I have never been here when you have visited. I want to test you. Claude says you are worthy, but I want to see for myself. I have heard rumours of your strength for many years, after all. One known as the ‘Ashen Demon’, who would cut down enemies without a shred of emotion. The daughter of one of Fódlan's strongest – the Blade Breaker.”
She was quite shocked at what was just said. Both she and her father were known even beyond Fódlan's borders?!
“Come now, Byleth. We shall fight, and hopefully in that time my son will have the sense to wake up.”
When Claude finally woke up, it was to the smell of something familiar and soothing. It reminded him… Of the times where Byleth would invite him to share a drink with him. He opened his eyes slowly, half expecting to see Byleth there, asking him to partake in a teatime with her. Instead…
“Oh Claude, finally awake? You could have at least told myself and your father that you had returned before going to bed with your wife. It’s getting late, and I doubt you would want to be sleeping the whole day.”
Claude groaned when he sat up, and realised that his mother was sat on a chair beside the bed, a drink of tea – Almyran Pine Needle, that’s why it smelled so familiar – in her hands. Another drink of tea was on the small table beside the bed. “Mother… I am a king now. Surely I mustn’t need to tell my parents that I am home?”
“Well, your father certainly was surprised to find out from guardsmen that you had returned with you wife in tow. Now come on, drink up some tea,” she stated matter-of-factly, one of her hands resting on her lap, with her finger tapping against her knee. “Your father has been wanting to test your wife’s strength ever since he discovered that she was well-known for her strength back in Fódlan. As soon as he heard, he made a beeline here to invite her to fight with him.”
Claude was taking hold of the cup of tea after having sat up, before he froze. “So let me get this straight… You and father heard that I returned with Byleth. Father decided that he wanted to spar with her, and you decide to just break into this room just to wake me up for a drink of tea?”
“Put simply, yes.”
All that he could do was groan internally. Of course, not even a day after he had been angered by the fact that she went into combat whilst pregnant, his father had took it upon himself to battle with her. He couldn’t exactly blame Byleth for this though… Neither of his parents knew about their grandchild, and once his father had his mind set on a fight, a fight there would be. Also, the pregnancy wasn’t exactly visible at this point in time...
He took a small sip of the tea, and sighed out loud. “Mother. I have a question, purely out of curiosity,” he received a raised eyebrow in response, so he took that as a cue to continue speaking. “When you were pregnant with me, did you ever go into combat? Either friendly, such as with father, or against others, such as bandits?”
She placed her cup down, a smile on her face. “Of course I did. I even fought against my own father, so I could get my own way in moving to Almyra to live with your father. Your father took it upon himself to make sure that you were a strong child too, so we would fight often. Often fist-fights or wooden weapons though, never with a real blade,” she explained, before a suspicious smile crept onto her face. “You didn’t ask out of curiosity, did you?”
“I- Ah- No...” Claude then did his best to divert his eyes and drink his tea so that nothing more could be asked. However, she saw right through him, and took hold of his wrist so that he would move his drink away from his mouth. He knew that she wouldn’t stop until he explained himself. “Fine, fine… We’re expecting a child. That’s all that we know at the moment, okay?”
A triumphant smile formed on his mother’s face.
This was… definitely where he got his stubbornness with finding information out from.
“Then, my son… I believe that we have a conversation to have with your wife and father.”
He could already tell that despite being king, his mother had complete power over him…
“Fine, mother… Let’s go and find them.”
“I have never been told how the two of you first met!” Byleth raised the wooden sword which she was using up to block an incoming blow from her father-in-law’s wooden axe. “I heard that you were his professor, but you are barely that much older than him!”
She grunted when she had to dig her heels into the ground to keep her balance, before pushing back to send Claude’s father stumbling backwards. “I saved his life. He, and two other students from the Officer’s Academy which he attended-” Byleth then lunged forward in an attempt to incapacitate him through sweeping his legs out from under him, but was met with an axe intercepting the attack. “Were ambushed by thieves who wanted to kill them and steal all of their gold. They encountered myself and my father as Claude made a ‘tactical retreat’, and we helped them defeat the thieves.”
“A tactical retreat? Pah, sounds like Claude...”
A few more blows were exchanged, before Byleth asked a question of her own. “How did Claude end up taking your place on the throne? Other kingdoms I have come across have only had a new king or queen after the previous one dies.”
A wide grin formed on his face, before he tried to take advantage of her talking to knock her down. She anticipated this, however, and stepped to the side.
“Well… When an heir to the throne is old enough and powerful enough, they can challenge for the throne, either on the ruler’s or their own request. I challenged him, to see if residing in Fódlan had either strengthened or weakened him. It was a tough fight… But Claude was victor. As such, I stepped down and allowed him to make his rightful claim to the throne.”
Byleth found this method of ruling quite interesting – the same family would remain in charge, but it would be the strongest who would be on the throne… That meant that her Claude was the strongest.
Would Claude even be awake yet?
She made sure to keep a defensive stance as four successive attacks were made in an attempt to knock her down, before she poised herself ready to attack once more. However, before that could happen, an arm was moved between her and Claude’s father.
“Okay… You two appear to be quite worn out now. Let’s leave it at that, and have a feast to celebrate the family being together, hmm?” Claude’s father lowered his axe when he realised it was his wife who had intervened, and so, Byleth lowered her own weapon. “So, have you made a judgement of Byleth?”
“Oh, she’s a good, strong one. I’m impressed, Claude.” Byleth then turned, and realised that Claude was also present, leaning against one of the stone pillars overlooking the courtyard where she had just been fighting. “Certainly lives up to the tales I have heard. A feast is certainly in order.”
Claude then sighed, and went over to Byleth and wrapped his arms around her from behind. “She certainly is strong…” He then placed his hands on her stomach. “Though, father, I am shocked that you decided to fight with my pregnant wife without waking me up to witness it.”
“Son… Repeat what you just said. Either my hearing is failing me, or you just said that your wife is pregnant.”
Chapter 4: Reality sinking in
Reality sinks in for Claude...
I honestly can't quite believe how positive the feedback has been so far for this fic!!! Thank you all so, so much-!!!!
A week had passed since Claude and Byleth had returned to Almyra. In that time, all sorts had happened. First of all, Claude had noticed that his parents would not leave Byleth alone. It had reached a point where she put her foot down, and Claude had honestly been amazed at how firmly she told them that though she appreciated the sparring and doting, she felt that she was barely able to spend time with him, which is all that she wanted.
In addition to that… It appeared that word of what had occurred in Derdriu managed to spread around Fódlan like wildfire. Seteth and Flayn were essentially the damage control, preventing the masses from flocking to either the capital or Garreg Mach to find out more about the impending child of the country’s queen.
It hadn’t stopped Hanneman from venturing out to Almyra though, after hearing that the bearers of the Crest of Riegan and the Crest of Flames were going to be having a child. It was an intriguing thought to monitor the pregnancy and see if the child would be born with either crest (or almost impossibly both).
Then there was the fact that morning sickness had come back with a vengeance. Claude couldn’t recall just how many times he had to hold back Byleth’s hair as she wretched into a bucket, before holding a damp cloth against her forehead to cool down, followed by comforting her in a gentle embrace before the cycle would begin again.
He had noticed that though extremely slight, her stomach did seem a slight bit bigger… Though he didn’t know if that was down to the pregnancy or the large meals which his parents insisted she have.
Between all of this though, Claude still had to deal with his duties as king of Almyra. Byleth did her best to keep up with her duties as queen of Fódlan, but it was dependent on the falcon which was used to deliver messages between her and Seteth. Claude, however, did not have the excuse of having to rely upon messages being sent between countries.
Currently, he was stuck in the middle of an argument of two well-known figures in Almyra. Not with as big of a reputation as, say, Nader, but still popular. They had been in a fight over the fact that they lived at the border between Almyra and Fódlan. One was arguing that people from Fódlan should be allowed to enter the land from there. The other was insisting that until people from Fódlan proved themselves worthy and not ‘hostile cowards’, as it was put, they shouldn’t be allowed into Almyra.
Claude leaned into his hand on the horribly uncomfortable throne he was sat on, a sigh escaping his lips. How much longer would he have to endure this?
“Your Majesty, you can’t consider such a proposal – the monsters of Fódlan shouldn’t be allowed into our lands! They should be slaughtered, like our ancestors before us!”
Claude sat up, the venomous words which had been said stinging like an open wound exposed to the air. “So you say that the people of Fódlan are monsters?” He rose from the throne, eyes closed as he took a few strides forward. “That they are cowards, and worthy for slaughter?” He stopped when he was a mere few metres away. “Then action your words. Kill your king. Half of my blood is from Fódlan. That must make me a monster, yes? For that matter, why not kill my mother and wife also?”
A heavy silence filled the room as the man stood still, his body trembling but his face angry. “You’ll regret letting those people in our lands, your majesty… You’ll regret it.” The man stormed out, leaving Claude alone with the person who had proposed allowing people from Fódlan into Almyra. The other bowed and gave their thanks, before retreating as they could clearly see that Claude was fuming because of the previous exchange.
Now alone, Claude crouched down and buried his hands into his head. He knew he would look a right sight to anyone who would dare look in, but he assured himself that nobody would be nearby at this point in time.
Once he had cleared his mind and stood up straight, he decided that he would have to get some soldiers to keep an eye on the man who held hatred towards those from Fódlan. And perhaps also see if his mother and Byleth would be okay with a few more guards than usual around the castle as a precaution.
Before he could do anything more, one of the few advisors of the Almyran court entered the throne room. “Apologies, Your Majesty… A man and woman from the land of Fódlan have arrived, and are requesting to see both yourself and your wife.”
A man and a woman? How… vague.
“Did you happen to get their names? Or could you perhaps describe them to me?”
“No. I was simply told to pass along the message of their arrival to you.”
“Right… Take me to them, so I can see for myself who it is.”
Even though he already had an idea on who it could be. A particular pair of green-haired siblings which he believed were actually father and daughter.
As he was led to the entrance of the castle, he asked to make a quick stop at his and Byleth’s quarters. He gently pushed the door open, and noticed that Byleth was scribbling something down in what appeared to be a new, leather-bound journal. “I see that Hanneman has finally given you a break. Want a bit of fresh air for a while? I think that Seteth and Flayn have decided to grace us with a visit.”
Byleth looked up, and smiled when she noticed her husband leaning in the doorway. “Yes… He’s decided to venture to the library to see if Almyra has any form of records regarding Fódlan's crests, or if there is anything similar to them here,” she began, pushing a few strands of hair out of her face. “And okay, I’ll join you. Just let me pull my boots on...”
Soon, the pair were holding hands as they were led to the entrance of the castle. As expected, Seteth and Flayn were stood there, the younger of the two downing a flask of water as she was pouring with sweat.
“Ah, if it isn’t Seteth and Flayn… What brings you both to the wonderful land of Almyra today?”
“It was my request! My brother did not wish to see me venture out here alone, however, so he decided to come along with me...” Flayn was quick to wipe her forehead, before she went over to Byleth and took hold of her wrist. “I finally found the herbs which I wrote to you about in one of the letters we sent by falcon! I wished to see you again and give them to you personally.”
A slight smile formed on Byleth’s face, before she glanced at Claude and Seteth. “I’m going to be going out to the courtyard… It’s much cooler there as it’s shaded, and it does look as though Flayn could do with cooling down.”
One Byleth and Flayn had left, Seteth sighed loudly. “The pair of you have left Fódlan in a state of chaos. In under a day, news of your child has spread across the continent,” Claude instantly tugged as the sleeve of his shirt, feeling somewhat bad that Seteth had been left to deal with the situation as he and Byleth escaped to Almyra. “In addition to that, your residence in Derdriu as well as Garreg Mach have been overwhelmed by...”
“Overwhelmed by what, Seteth? It sounds bad when you trail off in such a way!”
“Gifts. Gifts for your child. Small woollen blankets, knitted clothes, stuffed toys, even furniture. Many have come with notes, saying that their gifts are a thanks for yourself and Byleth ending the war when you did, and saving or sparing their lives.”
People were… sending gifts for their child? It was still many moons before the child would even be born, and yet…
“I… can’t quite believe it...” He muttered, raking his hand through his hair. “I’m sorry that you’re having to take care of all of that in our absence. But we will make it up to you – I promise.” Claude then looked at the large building behind him, before sighing. “I’m not sure when we will return to Fódlan just yet. It may be a matter of days, or maybe even weeks. My parents are both here… they’re both excited in their own, uh… unique ways about their grandchild. But I promise we will return soon.”
Seteth nodded, before he ran his hand across his forehead. Claude had almost forgot that Seteth was also unfamiliar with the heat of Almyra.
“Perhaps for now we should join Byleth and Flayn...”
Byleth was busy talking with Seteth and Flayn about the running of Fódlan as she remained in Almyra in the afternoon. That left Claude to his own devices… Or more specifically, allowed Claude to investigate the journal which Byleth was writing in in their bedroom.
As he stepped inside, he made sure to lock the door knowing that only Byleth could get inside with her own key, before uncovering the windows to allow the bright afternoon sunlight into the room. With that, he sat down on the bed and picked up the journal which had been abandoned on the thin sheets.
He opened up the first page, and his face turned red at what was written.
I have a feeling you would try to read this as soon as you see me writing in this, so I’ve made sure that I’ve included the sorts of details I imagine you would want to know.
Like my father, I kept a diary after becoming a teacher at the Officer’s Academy, and it quickly became a habit. Once a week, or sometimes more often, I would write down in it.
This journal though… I want it to be special. Special to both of us. I want to keep record of how things are going with the pregnancy. Our first child…
If you ever want to add anything… please feel free to do so.
Claude laughed to himself, fully aware that after being with each other for so long, Byleth knew to anticipate him snooping in on the journal.
With a smile on his face, he grabbed hold of the pen which Byleth had been using earlier and started writing his own message underneath.
Oh my dearest Byleth,
You know me so well. So, so well. I’ll be sure to write in here whenever I can. I am already excited for some of the milestones… Finding out the gender of our child, our child’s first kick, and even just the simpler things such as seeing your stomach grow.
I love you too… And I also love Baby von Riegan.
Once he had wrote down in the journal, he placed the pen down on the bedside table, and flicked over to the next page. It was the only page written on, so it was obviously brand new – possibly only bought as early as that morning from the city’s marketplace.
With a smile on his face, he lay back and looked at what had been written on the page.
15th of the Harpstring Moon, year 1189
It has been about a week and a half since it was discovered that Claude and I will be expecting a child. Flayn predicted that I was just over six weeks along at that point, meaning that now… It’s about the eighth week. I’ve been feeling quite sick at times, but Claude has been an angel. Even if he was due to attend a meeting, or deal with anything to do with Almyra… he would cast it aside whenever I felt sick. Flayn has promised to find me some herbs which help with easing the sickness which she will try to get to me as soon as possible.
Apparently the earliest we will be able to find out the gender of our child will be next week, but it is more likely to be in about three to four weeks… I honestly can’t wait to find out though.
Claude closed the journal once he had finished reading it, and let it fall down onto his chest. It was only then that it had really, really sank in.
He was going to be a father. In about… seven months. There will be a small human being made by himself and Byleth, except it would be existing. Existing not in Byleth’s body, but his arms – their arms.
Would he live up to the role of father? He had no clue.
But he was going to be a father.
A small tear slipped down his face as his emotions about becoming a parent steadily became overwhelming, before he covered his face with his hands as the tears became more frequent.
At least nobody could see him in this moment of weakness… A moment of… a wonderful weakness.
Because he was going to be a father.
Chapter 5: Questions needing answers
The day finally arrives for Byleth and Claude to find out whether they were going to have a son or a daughter.
However, events from a few weeks earlier come back with a vengeance.
“I should be able to let you know by this evening… I hope that you can bear with me until then...” Marianne’s voice was a hushed whisper, both through amazement at the fact that her former Professor was pregnant, and that she had been asked, as the medical professional whom Byleth and Claude trusted the most, to help oversee the pregnancy to see if everything was going as it should be.
“Take your time, Marianne,” Byleth smiled, as she stood up and stretched her arms. “I’m probably going to get inundated by questions from Hanneman this afternoon seeming as he is insistent on following me about, so I probably won’t even be free until then...” She paced over to the door, and pushed it open. As expected, Hanneman was stood there, scribbling notes down into a pad before he realised that he had been caught carrying out his research. “Told you.”
Marianne laughed quietly to herself when she saw Byleth leave the room, mumbling something about how ‘just a little bit of privacy would be nice’.
In the background, Claude was stood there, holding back a chuckle as he rolled his eyes. He had to admire just how much stuff Byleth was having to put up with since the pregnancy was announced officially in both Fódlan and Almyra. Constantly having to answer questions, the heckling, and even people asking if they could touch her stomach (which she refused every time, because unfamiliar touches were still enough to make her flinch and possibly turn hostile.)
Claude eventually went over to Marianne, and placed his hand on her shoulder. “Thanks for coming to Almyra for us… It… really means a lot.”
“It’s no problem… And… are you sure about wanting to know before Byleth knows? Wouldn’t you prefer… to find out with her?”
He paused to think for a moment, before shaking his head. “I’d like to know… I’ve been feeling anxious about it for a long time and… I’d really like to see the reaction on her face as she finds out. If we find out together… I’ll miss her reaction.”
“And she will miss yours...”
“I know… But please, Marianne. As soon as you can… Please find me to tell me.”
Marianne then smiled at him. “It was surprisingly obvious when I checked, with the magic which I could use, so I can tell you now… I’ll write it down for you to look at in your own time...” She then took hold of a scrap of paper and a pen, before writing a single word down and folding the paper over. She passed the paper to Claude, before bowing down. “I- I am going to be leaving now… I- I want to look at the horses which I saw in the stables...”
So, Claude was left alone, with nothing but the piece of paper in his hands. A piece of paper which would change his life completely.
Byleth had to hold back a yawn as she continued to be asked questions about all sorts, even things completely unrelated to her crest. It was very fortunate that Hanneman eventually gave up, and decided to go off and do his own thing for a while. That provided her with the chance to stroll around the courtyard.
There was still evidence of the time where she had a battle against Claude’s father. Some earth was dug up, and a tree which was present had scrapes from her wooden sword and his axe.
She pulled herself up to a wall then, and looked up to the sky. A familiar white wyvern was hovering just above the courtyard, and it made a cheerful noise when it noticed her. She landed, and almost instantly was nuzzling her stomach.
“Ah… You can sense the baby, can’t you?” Byleth began to stroke the creature, and it started making a noise reminiscent of purring. “You’re such a good girl…” She then felt her move her head up, and nuzzle her face. Byleth laughed, and continued stroking. “You’re going to look after us, aren’t you? That’s right… You’re going to keep us all safe...”
There was a loud, happy cry as the wyvern then settled down by Byleth’s legs.
She was lucky to have such wonderful allies… Her husband, and his ever-so-devoted wyvern.
With a sigh, she closed her eyes and tilted her head back, allowing the sun’s rays to pour onto her face. Over the past few weeks, she had become accustomed to the warmth of Almyra, and the sun was certainly one of her favourite things about it.
The fact that Claude had called her a ‘Radiant Goddess’ when she had been doing this a few days earlier may have been a contributing factor.
She never realised that she had started to fall asleep until Claude’s wyvern started nudging at her legs. She smiled at the creature, gave her a few more pets, before rubbing her eyes as she decided to head back inside before she fell down onto the floor.
That… was when she noticed Claude walk outside, looking worried. Relief washed over him when they locked eyes, and he ran over to her before pulling her into an embrace. “I’m so glad that you’re safe… So glad...”
“Claude… What is going on?” Byleth reached up to his face, and cupped his cheek. “Has something happened?”
He was silent for a moment, before nodding. “Do you remember the day that Seteth and Flayn arrived here to visit us?” She nodded. “Well… Just before they arrived, I had a delightful conversation with these two people who were arguing over whether people from Fódlan should be allowed in Almyra or not. The one who didn’t like people from Fódlan said something which… made me snap.”
“It must have been something horrific then… It’s extremely hard to push you into getting mad.”
“It… definitely was horrible. Put simply, he said that people from Fódlan should be killed. I responded by yelling that he should kill me then. And my mother. And you. Because we all have Fódlan blood running through us...” Claude looked saddened then. “I asked for him to be watched over… But I failed to anticipate the possibility of him hiring somebody to do exactly as I told him to.”
“Claude… What do you mean?”
“We’re going back to Fódlan. I was just informed that he managed to secretly hire a group of bandits. Mercenaries. Assassins. He has paid these people off just to see us dead. My mother is sticking by my father’s side, so they are staying here and taking charge in my absence. I’m certain they can care for each other if these people manage to get into the castle...” He trailed off, realising that Byleth’s eyes had widened. He then moved his hands down to her stomach, which was certainly beginning to show the signs of a baby bump. “I don’t want us… Want our baby… in danger. I’ve already asked the others from Fódlan to return when possible. I’ve also sent people to try and intercept these criminals, but there are no guarantees that they can be found before they get to us.”
A concerned frown formed on Byleth’s face, but she nodded. Then she froze. “Claude… Does that mean that we… won’t be finding out today? If you’ve told everyone from Fódlan to return home… That will mean that Marianne has left.”
Claude could feel only guilt then. He knew… Byleth didn’t. He would have to be the one to tell her, rather than him feigning shock when they were told together…
But being ever the schemer, he remembered the scrap of paper which Marianne had given to him.
“Don’t get upset… I was given this by Marianne just before she left,” he began, pulling out the paper which he had stashed inside one of his gloves. “She has written one word on here. That’s our answer to the question.”
“You mean to say that… this paper...”
“Yep. You can open it whenever you want...”
Byleth then slowly nodded, before tucking the paper away. “We’ll check when we return to Fódlan. We’re more likely to be in danger the longer we stay here.”
“Agreed...” Claude pressed a soft kiss to her forehead, and then looked over at his resting wyvern. “At least we have our ride right here, hmm? I’ve persuaded Seteth and Flayn to take some of our belongings back to Garreg Mach when they left, so we don’t need to pack anything up. I would’ve asked for them to take our stuff to Derdriu, but it is annoyingly too close to the border.”
Once Byleth parted from him, and approached his wyvern to pry her away from her rest, Claude sighed.
He now felt terrible that he had already looked at the piece of paper. That he already knew the answer to the question they had been asking for weeks.
That… They were going to be having a daughter.
Up until now, I've mostly been updating on a daily basis... It's been a Bank Holiday weekend, meaning I wasn't in work yesterday giving me more time to write.
Updates won't be as frequent through the week as work is a thing which exists. Plus I've got a few ideas for fics in my head which I'm wanting to play about with, so that will likely contribute to my update frequency too.
Chapter 6: By a flame
"Only you could be excited at the prospect of camping out in the wilderness in an attempt to escape assassins, Claude... It's borderline insane."
It's a somewhat short chapter... I was originally going to make this an angst-fest, full of injuries and excessive uses of Byleth's divine pulse, but... Nah. Changed my mind. For now.
There's gonna be an angst-fest soon though~
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Only you could be excited at the prospect of camping out in the wilderness in an attempt to escape assassins, Claude…” Byleth muttered, taking hold of a few berries which they had picked from nearby shrubbery (and Claude had confirmed as not being poisonous) before tossing them into her mouth. “It’s borderline insane.”
Claude raised his eyebrow as he crouched down to the fallen log which she was sitting on, before using his thumb to wipe away some of the berry juice which was dripping from the corner of her mouth. “Well, there’s almost a thrill to it. Adrenaline fuelled excitement.”
“Right, so...” Byleth took hold of the plumpest berry from her small pile, before popping it into Claude’s mouth. “Imagine this scenario. We’re taking turns on watch, with your precious girl here...” Byleth then tossed another berry over to the excitable wyvern who had been curiously looking at the campfire which had been set up. “And it’s your turn to take watch. You begin to fall asleep. You decide not to wake me up because you want me to rest to make sure the baby stays healthy – yes, I know that is your plan Claude, I can read your face – and so, you fall asleep.”
Claude was now sat cross legged on the floor, his mouth pursed together through concern at the fact that Byleth could read him extremely easily now. “Go on...”
“When you wake up, you return to the campsite. The assassins are there. They’ve already gravely injured you wyvern, and are about to kill me as I sleep. How could that possibly be a good scenario?! And it’s entirely possible… Our campfire is sending a smoke-signal into the sky. It is almost screaming ‘Come here, assassins! The Almyran King and Fódlan Queen are here!’. As well as that, most of the foliage is dead – we can be seen from a distance. It’s… not comforting. Far from it...”
Silently, Claude began to stare at the ground. He… definitely agreed with what she was saying. Everything about this situation was dangerous, but… Being in Almyra whilst the assassins were still free was dangerous in itself. They were no more in danger than they were in the capital. If anything… they were safer where they were. No chances of betrayals or opportunities to let their guard down.
Eventually though, he shifted himself to sit beside her on the log, and took hold of her hand. “I know. We’ll put the fire out once we’ve settled down. But for now… Let’s imagine we are not in a dangerous situation. We are just a couple who have decided to go camping for the night. We are expecting a daughter, and are yet to discover the gender of the child… But possess a slip of paper giving a single word which will answer our question...” He whispered, taking hold of her hand.
Byleth looked at him with weary eyes, but smiled nonetheless. “You really want to know, don’t you…?” She then pulled the piece of paper out from where she had hidden it (inside of her boot, of anywhere) and took a deep breath. “I honestly want to know too… I… I really do...”
“Then… what’s holding you back?”
She raised an eyebrow, and laughed quietly. “Because you already know. You gave it away a mere few moments ago. ‘We’re expecting a daughter, and are yet to discover the gender of our child’? Not like you to trip up on your words, Claude...” Her quiet laugh then became a giggle as she watched his eyes grow wide and he began to silently open his mouth to say something, but never actually spoke. “Don’t worry… If anything, I’m relieved that I found out through you instead of a piece of paper.”
“You are…?” Claude then smiled, and leaned against her shoulder before resting his hand against her stomach. “I’m so glad… And at least we know now. One less thing to worry about...”
It was the middle of the night. As Claude had said, the fire had been put out once they had settled down. He had, as a precaution, set up a few traps around the area they were resting so that anyone who tried to hunt for them were greatly hindered, and provided them with a reasonable amount of time to make a getaway.
It was only about an hour or two flying to Fodlan’s Locket from where they were, so they at least knew where they could go if it did come to making an escape. Chances were, Hilda and Lord Holst were likely to be stationed there, possibly also Leonie, Alois and Catherine if Seteth had anything to do with it.
As Claude slept against Byleth, and his wyvern was patrolling around because she had more energy than ever before, she couldn’t help but worry.
‘One less thing to worry about...’
Byleth then let a few small tears slip down her face. There was something which had been worrying her ever since she found out that she was pregnant, and she hadn’t even been able to find the right time or place to talk to Claude about it.
Her mother had died in childbirth. Would she follow suit?
She could remember just how sad and full of grief Jeralt’s diary had been in the entries following her unnamed mother’s death. She didn’t want Claude to have to write in a similar way in the journal they were keeping as they tracked her pregnancy…
She didn’t want to leave Claude and their baby daughter burying her alongside her own parents…
Before she could get too upset about her intruding thoughts, however, there was a loud snap nearby.
One of Claude’s traps had been set off.
They were in danger.
Fun fact: Claude's slip up of words is actually because I made that mistake, caught it when re-reading the first part to make sure I didn't contradict myself, before going with the flow-
Chapter 7: Blade in the dark
The absolute worst happens - Byleth and Claude are found by those who wish to see them dead.
It's not like Byleth is blessed by the Goddess with time-altering powers though, is it?
As a word of warning, the chapter does start with some violence and extremely bad things happening to the best boi Claude...
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Claude’s face was panicked. Though his trap had been set off, it turned out that it was just a ploy. Somehow, he and Byleth had been surrounded by the very assassins they were trying to get away from.
Byleth was also terrified at the fact that in a mere few seconds, she had been grabbed hold of, had her dagger stolen from her, and now it was being held at her own throat. She couldn’t grab it back, or else she would end up having her throat cut by the blade. She couldn’t fight back either, as there was the risk of hurting herself or the baby.
“Well… Some escape you managed to make, Your Majesty,” was snarled from behind the trees, a shadow stepping out. “Such a shame that you made it far too obvious where you were heading. We knew exactly where you were when we saw your traps. And now… it’s time for you, and that dirty Fódlan woman to die-!”
“Let my wife go. Do whatever you want to me, but let. Byleth. Go.” Byleth saw that Claude’s panic had completely taken hold of him, and he was almost trembling as he stared at her. “Please...”
“Why should I? The sooner we spill Fódlan blood into Almyran soil, the better. They spilled the blood of our ancestors, so we should do the same!” The man was angry, and then turned to face Byleth as he started dragging his axe across the ground. “Give me a good reason not to remove her head right now.”
Byleth shook her head, knowing that Claude only had one card left to play if he wanted at least one of them to escape alive. Namely her. But she continued to shake her head, not wanting him to say the words which were built up in the back of his throat.
His normally confident face looked to be in fear – as though he had become the prey as the dagger was removed from her throat, but was quickly replaced with the axe. That had been enough to push Claude over the edge.
The people who had hold of Claude suddenly had sharp elbows to their faces. Then there was a loud yell as Claude tried to punch the man who threatened to kill her. “Stay away from my wife and child!”
Claude was met with a blade to his throat.
Byleth’s world crashed around her as she watched her husband’s limp body crash down to the ground. She closed her eyes just as the axe coated in Claude’s blood was being brought down to end her life too.
“Was that one of my traps?!”
Byleth opened her eyes, and saw Claude clambering to his feet beside her. Before she could have been killed, she used her divine pulse ability to return time to the point where the trap was set off.
She almost cried at the sight of Claude alive, but held back as she knew it was not time to be emotional – it was time to escape.
“It was. But it was a ploy to make us panic. We need to leave now, Claude.” She ran over to his wyvern, who was thankfully also alive and alert. “You can get us away from here quickly, can’t you girl?” She stroked the wyvern’s nose for a moment, before looking at her husband, who seemed puzzled.
“What do you mean by that?”
“… We’re going to die if we stay here. We need to go.” She then clenched her fists, tears finally welling up in her eyes. “Please, trust me.”
“Of course I trust you! But… You appear to know something more about this situation than I do...” He then silently made his way over to her and his wyvern, helped her up, and got on himself. “You used that strange time-altering ability which you have… didn’t you? You know what will happen if we stay...”
Byleth was silent as Claude then wrapped his arms around her tightly, and urged his wyvern to fly towards Fódlan's Throat as quickly as possible.
“Byleth… You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to. But… if you feel that you can...”
“At… at home. Not… here.”
Claude nodded, before looking down at where they had been camping mere minutes before once they were high enough in the air. “Crap… That’s a lot of people.” He saw Byleth tense up when she followed his gaze, so he decided not to look back again…
They just needed to get out of there.
“Oh no… The Professor looks mortified! What happened?!” When he and Byleth reached Fódlan's Locket, Claude was relieved to find not just Hilda there (though this was on her brother’s insistence), but the equivalent of a small army. Hilda had ran straight over to them, and within seconds, Byleth had been in tears. “Claude! What did you do?!”
“I’ve not done anything, Hilda! We were being followed by assassins! There are people back there who have been hired to kill us!” Claude snapped through gritted teeth as he tightened his grasp of Byleth, who was obviously unsure of how to deal with her current flood of emotions. “She saw something horrific, and it’s shaken her badly.”
Byleth leaned further into Claude’s body then, her shoulders trembling. “C- Claude… Can we get away from the border…? P- Please…” She then wrapped her arms tightly around him, her slight baby bump pressing into him.
Hilda folded her arms and tapped her foot briefly, before she gasped out loud. “I know! My family has a house which they go to in the summer, it’s like, really pretty. I go there with Lorenz sometimes! It’s also in the middle of nowhere and nobody except my family and Lorenz know about it. I’m sure none of them will mind if I take you both there for the night.” She then went to try and take hold of Byleth’s hand, but realised that she almost appeared to be surgically attached to her husband.
As Hilda had promised, she took Byleth and Claude to her family’s summer home. She made sure that some guards were brought along to keep watch for anyone who dared to injure the king or queen. The guards also included Leonie, as Hilda ‘accidentally’ went on a ‘detour’ to her village after making sure that the pair were safe in a guest room in the building.
Once settled, Claude gently removed the armour which both he and Byleth were wearing, and pulled her into his chest so that she could cry in the safety of his arms.
“Claude...” Her voice came out as a quiet whimper as she felt his shirt steadily become damp with tears. “It was… horrible...” He fingers were shaking as she tried to grab hold of his clothes to ground herself to reality. “They… They caught us… You said not to kill me… to let me go…” Her breaths were loud and shaky. “You got mad when they tried to take an axe to my throat… A- And you almost punched him, b- but...”
“Byleth… Byleth… Shh… Don’t talk if it’s making you scared,” Claude whispered, rocking side to side as he embraced her. “We don’t need any harm coming to you or our baby girl...”
“Claude… I can still see it.”
“Then I’ll help you to un-see it. I’ll do everything which I can to help you forget.”
“I promise. I’ll help you to forget…” He then moved one of his hands down to her stomach, and ran his thumb across it gently. “Maybe we can talk about this little one for a while...”
Byleth nodded. Yes… talking about the baby might cheer her up…
“Now that we know that we’re going to be having a baby girl… Do you have any ideas for names, Byleth?” Claude whispered, resuming his previous rocking action. “To be entirely honest, I’ve been thinking about names ever since you told me that you were pregnant. I did have an idea for if we had a boy, but that would depend on what you would think on it...”
She looked at him with curious eyes as she did her best to blink away the tears. Her hands then rested on top of his as he continued to stroke her stomach.
Claude took a deep breath, and smiled. “If we had a son, I would have wanted to name him after the man who made my darling wife the strongest woman that I know. Jeralt von Riegan.” Byleth looked down at his hands, before a half-hearted chuckle filled the room.
“He’s probably turning in his grave at the cringiness of that. Yelling at us not to be so sentimental. Yet still being an extremely proud grandfather...” She then closed her eyes, and leaned into Claude’s warmth. “Did you have any ideas for a name for a girl then, seeming as we are having a daughter…?”
“Well… I had two ideas. One is ‘Byleth Jr.’”
“Nope. No way.” As expected, he got a smile and laugh out of her at his joke proposal for a name. “And your serious suggestion?”
Claude then lay back, keeping Byleth pulled against him as she finally yawned. “I did a bit of research in Almyra… I wanted to see if there was anything which could tie a girl’s name to my homeland other than Fódlan. I mean, ‘von Riegan’ is enough of a sign of someone being from Fódlan...” He then sighed, and closed his eyes. “I always saw you as a guiding light when I was a student. Like a star. And you know that the stars took the place of the Goddess for me… I would love to stare out at them every night. Fortunately… There is a name in the ancient Almyran language which means ‘star’. Esther...”
Byleth shivered for a moment, still feeling shaken from the earlier events, but a smile formed on her face either way. “Esther von Riegan… I… quite like that.” She then looked at her stomach, with her tears no longer being held back.
Thankfully, they were happy tears.
“I can’t wait to see you in six months, Esther...”
Not gonna lie, I've been doing a biiiit of background reading into inspirations surrounding Claude and Almyra, and found that there were quite a few ties to Persian culture. I then literally searched 'persian baby girl names' into google and happened to come across 'Esther' which is believed to mean 'star' and I felt that it fitted perfectly for a daughter of Claude's. Plus it sounds so sweet with the surname 'von Riegan'.
I swear though, I can imagine my parents would be horrified thinking I'd be pregnant or something if they saw the sheer amount of baby name searches in my search history which are LITERALLY just for the sake of fic writing lmaooooo
Chapter 8: Returning
When Hilda involved Lorenz in the journey back to Garreg Mach, it's obvious that he and Claude will lock horns.
I felt baaaaad after last chapter and tried to compensate for that with Fluff but I ended up with Lorenz appearing and.... yeah.
I'm generally trying to follow a extremely bare bones plot but wing it the rest of the time lmao-
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Byleth was exhausted. After a night of no sleep, it was no surprise that the only way to return her to Garreg Mach was napping on the back of Claude’s wyvern. Fortunately, Claude remained walking to the side. And they were being accompanied by Leonie, Hilda, and Lorenz, who, similar to Leonie, was picked up on one of Hilda’s ‘detours’. There were also a few soldiers, but they were at a distance to scout the areas ahead and behind.
“I cannot understand how you would put your pregnant wife in the line of danger. It is simply inexcusable, Claude.” And of course, the Almyran king was getting told off by his former classmate. “What if she had injured yourself, and lost your baby, hmm?”
However… Claude was not going to take it. If anything, the fact that he and Byleth had almost been killed was a sore topic. He didn’t want to even consider the thought of losing either of his girls.
“I cannot understand why you would dare bring that up, Lord Gloucester,” he bitterly snapped, stopping in his tracks as he clenched his fists. “Do you think that I wanted us to be in danger? That I wanted to have to return to Fódlan in such a rush? That I wanted to even risk losing Byleth or my baby?! No – I didn’t.” He then looked at Byleth, who was fortunately still sleeping despite his outburst. “I’d rather die… than let either of them get hurt.”
There was a heavy silence in the air after that, with Hilda hissing something into Lorenz’s ear.
Leonie felt really uncomfortable in the silence, so she broke it by asking a question. “When is the baby due? And when are you going to, you know… officially announce it? For everyone in Fódlan it’s still rumours, ‘cause you’ve been in Almyra for the past few months.”
Claude, having felt much more comfort with Leonie’s questions than Lorenz’s, brought his hand up to his chin and scratched it for a moment. “When it comes to announcing… That’s something I’d have to ask Byleth about. Maybe Seteth too, he’s basically been acting as a publicist for us since we slipped out of the country,” he explained, finally deciding to walk forward again. His wyvern chirped at finally moving again, almost making Byleth fall off her back. “As for a due date… We believe she’s due near the end of the Ethereal Moon.”
He didn’t notice everyone else freeze at his words, until Hilda squealed and jumped at him. “A girl? You’re having a girl?! Oooh, I’ll have to make her some pretty accessories and clothes!” She started pulling at his arm quite roughly after that. “Do you have a name? Please tell me that you have a name!”
“No, Hilda. We don’t. Now can we please make a move on? I want to get to Garreg Mach before Byleth wakes up.”
Once he knew that Hilda and Lorenz had gone off ahead (with Lorenz getting quite the earful about being kinder to the expecting couple), Claude leaned into Leonie’s ear. “Like hell I’m telling Hilda that we’re calling her Esther. We’d get an earful...”
“Yeah, I can imagine…”
Claude smiled when he was eventually able to lie Byleth down in their second floor bedroom at Garreg Mach. He personally didn’t feel too happy that this was formerly Rhea’s room before she retreated to live a ‘quiet life’ somewhere in Zanado, but at least there were personal touches which made the room no longer Rhea’s, but their own.
For example, Byleth liked flowers (an apparent similarity between her and her mother). As such, on the window by the head of the bed, were vases of a variety of seasonal flowers. Presently there were a mixture of orchids and lavender. Despite them having been absent for months, somebody had continued maintaining the flowers.
As well as that, there was a small corner which Claude claimed as his own. A desk covered in maps, books and a half-burned out candle. There was a slight layer of dust, but he didn’t really care – he would likely be working away there soon enough. There was also a locked drawer… he would say that there were poisons and concoctions in there, but only he and Byleth knew what was really in there. Namely small bottles of alcohol such as whiskey which they would drink after a stressful day.
Not that he was going to let Byleth even touch them at the moment. Not until after the baby was born.
Then there were the bookshelves. Originally filled with a variety of scriptures belonging to the Church of Seiros, now they contained a variety of personal documents and all sorts of legal nonsense. In pride of place on the highest shelf of the tallest of them were two books…
Jeralt’s diary, and their journal which they used to document the pregnancy.
Claude stopped his moments of reminiscing when he noticed that Byleth was sat up on the bed, dark circles under her eyes from her lack of sleep until earlier, and her hands trembling somewhat.
“Hey… How are you feeling? You slept for the entire journey back here...”
“I… I’m still a bit tired… But I’m hungry...” Her voice was a hushed whisper as Claude went and sat beside her, and took a firm grasp of her hands to keep them still. “Are we safe now?”
“We should be. Seteth set up extra guards just before we arrived. No assassins are getting into Garreg Mach.”
“Good… I’m not in the mood for assassins. Especially now that I’ve got the Sword of the Creator within reach… I kinda missed it in Almyra. If I had it with me then, maybe that whole situation could have ended completely- No… I should get it out of my head. Dad would be laughing if he saw me stressing like this...”
Forget Jeralt laughing at her stressing, he was wanting to have a bit of a chuckle at her rambling.
“Well… I’m glad that you’re feeling more yourself now,” he smiled, before holding his hand out. “Now… I knew that you would be feeling hungry when you woke up, so I sent a request down to the dining hall for a feast to be prepared, ‘cause I know how much you love them, Teach.”
Byleth nodded as she took his hand, before she giggled. He didn’t even realise what he had said until he saw her smile.
He hadn’t called her ‘Teach’ in a long time. But if he managed to get her to smile like that when he said it… Maybe he was going to have to say it more.
Would that make their daughter ‘Teach Jr.’ too…?
Teach and Teach Jr. He was so using those nicknames now.
If anyone wants to see anything in this, do say! There's the equivalent of six months of plot left to write for this fic, after all~~~
Chapter 9: Joys of paperwork
Byleth is busy doing paperwork, and is also craving some chocolate.
“Mmm, thanks...” Byleth was sat at her desk as she looked over some paperwork when Claude placed a plate of a variety of chocolate cakes next to her. She didn’t hesitate to take hold of one and bite into it. “I don’t know why I have been craving chocolate so much these past few days…”
Claude smirked, and leaned his back against her desk as he folded his arms over. “Yeah, you’ve not shut up about it! That’s why I went out of my way to find the closest place which sold any sort of chocolate-y food.” He then peered over his shoulder, and raised an eyebrow. “What’s all that about? Seems like an awful lot of work, even for you.”
Byleth placed her pen down, and a smile formed on her face. There were a few crumbs around her mouth, which dropped off when she spoke. “The Officer’s Academy has been closed ever since Edelgard declared war against the Church of Seiros. That’s already almost nine years ago. I thought that rather than allow the classrooms build up dust or become relegated to storage rooms, it would be appropriate to re-establish the Academy.”
Her project definitely piqued Claude’s interest, so he grabbed his own chair from his desk at the other side of the room and sat down beside her. “Interesting… Will it be the same as when I was a student there, or different?” He took hold of one of the pieces of paper which appeared to have sketches of potential classroom layouts.
“Not quite the same. For one, I believed that the entrance system was extremely unfair,” she began, Claude holding his hand against his chin with his free hand as he nodded. “Most students were nobility. Those of common birth were a rarity. Poor Leonie had to gather donations from her entire village and others, as well as get a commendation from a noble. It is based far too much on a hierarchy of nobility.” Byleth then grabbed hold of a wedge of paper, and showed Claude the first few pages. “So, I proposed a competency-based entrance, or the idea of students being scouted. For the competency-based concept, it involves a written test regarding strategy and hypothetical scenarios, and is given a grade based on efficiency, creativity, and use of resources. There would also be a physical test where they can choose two or three forms of combat – magic and healing included – and they demonstrate their ability to a panel of judges. If they have the skill, or have a hidden potential, it also contributes towards whether their scores.”
After her short essay, she took a deep breath as she looked at Claude, who was nodding along to her words. “So, when they get their scores for the competency-based exams?”
“The best performing ones with the highest overall scores are granted a place in the academy. I’m considering making ties in to other academies around Fódlan, such as the magic school in Faerghus, however. Where if a student isn’t right for the Officer’s Academy, we may be able to assist in applying for other schools appropriate for their abilities.”
“What is your scouting idea then?”
“It’s honestly quite simple. We will arrange for people working for us to impromptu visits to different places in the country. If they see somebody with potential, we will contact them with an offer of a place in the Academy.”
Claude was silent for a moment, thinking over Byleth’s two propositions before pointing at the papers discussing the competency exams. “Go with that one. Scouting can be quite biased depending on who is sent. If we base it on an exam with different stages, we will be able to see who has potential without as much of a bias.”
“Yeah… Plus, Fódlan is still deep-rooted with dislike for Almyra. It will be quite difficult getting an Almyran cohort for the Officer’s Academy aside from Cyril if we attempted to scout.”
Byleth’s words made Claude smile, before he realised exactly what she had said. “You’re opening the Officer’s Academy up to Almyrans?”
“Well, I just so happened to meet an Almyran who changed my life for the better when I taught there. And there is definitely massive potential for bridging some of the gaps between Fódlan and Almyra if we had classes of students from both countries. We may even be able to hire staff from there too, provided that-”
Byleth then fell silent. Something appeared to have caught her by surprise. Claude could tell that whatever it was, it had been somewhat bothersome based on the way she bit her lip. Her eyes fell down to her stomach, baby bump now visible. “That was… weird… Maybe my stomach didn’t like that chocolate cake...” She followed her mumblings with a shake of her head as she returned her attention back to the stack of paperwork.
Claude couldn’t help but be concerned though, as he could see that something was making her slightly uncomfortable on occasion. He didn’t like seeing how she would start furiously tapping her finger against the desk, or will give the plate of chocolate cake death glares.
Eventually though, he wanted to know why she seemed to be happy with her stomach… so he gently pulled off one of his gloves and held it against the bump. He had an idea on what was bothering her, and if it were what he thought it was, it was actually extremely adorable that Byleth was well and truly oblivious.
After a few moments… he felt it. His suspicions were well and truly confirmed.
A grin formed on his face as he stood up, and went over to the bookshelf. He could tell that Byleth’s eyes were on him – they had been ever since he took his glove off. He grabbed hold of the journal they had both been writing in.
“Claude? What are you doing?”
He returned to his place next to her, and grabbed hold of her pen. “Isn’t it obvious? I’m writing something down...” He then looked back at her, and smiled. “You know, most expecting mothers would be excited when their baby first kicks. But then again… you’re clearly not like most mothers.”
“Esther… kicked? I don’t get it...”
Claude raised an eyebrow. “It means that she’s alive, healthy, and growing… I’m surprised nobody even thought of telling you that, actually...” He then grinned, took hold of her hand, and held it against her stomach. There was fortunately another kick at that moment. “You feel that…? That’s her kicking...”
Ever since Claude had told her that the twinging feelings in her stomach was Esther kicking, Byleth had become completely sidetracked from her work as ruler of Fódlan, and was instead constantly looking at her stomach and holding her hand against it. If any former friends or allies ever visited, Byleth would proudly smile about how her baby was a fighter, and was already learning how to kick.
She had even spent an entire afternoon at the grave her parents were resting in, talking about how much she loved Esther despite there still being five months until she was born.
Claude had never felt so in love with Byleth.
He adored how much she expressed her delight over their unborn daughter, and would talk as though she were already there by their sides. He loved how she would pull his arms around her when she felt a kick, just so that he could feel it too. He even loved it at night when she would huddle up against him under the bedsheets, meaning that when there was a kick, he could feel it against his own stomach.
Even when his own parents visited from Almyra once the threat of assassins had subsided, Byleth spent a good few hours gushing about Esther to his mother. That left Claude alone with his father, resulting in him being told that he had better not let Byleth soften herself up because of ‘a few measly kicks’.
But honestly? Claude’s favourite part of it all was seeing the smile on Byleth’s face.
I've wrote some dark shit today so I needed to write fluff to counter it- ;u;
Chapter 10: Finding out secrets
Claude has been acting secretive. Byleth wants to know why.
Look, I... I don't know what this chapter even is. I'm ill and was forced to take a day off work so to distract myself I'm just writing down anything that's coming into my mind
All I knew that I wanted to do was start to bring the whole 'o shit assassins' bit from a few chapters back to a closure-
Claude was always known for not liking being kept out the loop. If anyone tried to keep something secret from him, he would do everything in his power to find it out. More often than not, he would be successful.
Through the years they had been married, he had massively influenced Byleth into acting this way too. She had started to dislike not knowing something being kept from her.
So when he started keeping a secret from her? Well, she would just have to craft a scheme of her own.
She had noticed that he had been doing things in secret around Garreg Mach. Even when they finally returned to their home in Derdriu (on Claude’s insistence), he would still be sneaking around. Hell, he was even avoiding her when she tried to follow him in secret (had to be the baby bump… made her presence a bit obvious at times…)
Byleth did her best to keep her scheme to find out what he was doing subtle, though… there were certainly times where she roused Claude’s suspicions.
It all started over breakfast.
Claude liked to be up early, but as of late, he decided that he actually quite enjoyed sleeping in when he had the opportunity. So, Byleth was the only one in their house up and about. She made sure to double check that he was sleeping, before making her way to the kitchen.
First things first, she needed to make some food… Derdriu was at the coast, meaning that fish were in abundance. But she did not want to cook fish for breakfast – it would be a sure-fire way to both wake Claude up and make her feel sick at the smell. She decided that the simple things would be better… so… Fruit. Fruit and… pancakes? Yes. She was in the mood for something sweet.
Byleth wasn’t much of a chef – she basically knew how to scavenge and to roast food over an open fire. There were a few other things she could do, as a result of her time as a professor, but never anything which could be applied here.
She just had to handle it like a battle.
At least she only had to peel (where necessary) and slice the fruit… It was the pancakes which were difficult. She knew the ingredients which needed to go into them – flour, sugar, egg and milk. The quantities were a bit of a mystery to her, on the other hand.
As she got angry at the food for not miraculously doing what she wanted it to do, she decided to start heating some water up so that she could have a drink of tea. It was no surprise that Almyran Pine Needle was the only tea in their house, so she just went along with that.
During the Great Pancake War of Derdriu in their kitchen, Claude ended up waking up as he could hear Byleth huffing and moving things around in the kitchen almost non-stop. He didn’t bother getting up straight away, he was just chuckling to himself at the colourful concoction of swears she was using. It was only when he began to smell his favourite tea that he decided to start moving.
He silently stood in the doorway as he watched Byleth (who had a mess of flour in her hair) look at the two stacks of pancakes in front of her with her lips pursed together in a pout. She prodded at one of them with a fork, before sighing in what seemed to be relief.
“You seem to be making quite the effort there, By… What are you after, hmm?” Claude had silently walked to behind her, and caught her by surprise by whispering down her ear and wrapping his arms around her stomach. “Are you, perhaps… trying to sweeten me up so that I tell you what I’ve been doing in secret?”
Byleth calmed down when she realised it was Claude who was there, before she sighed at his accurate guess. “You can’t just be leaving me in the dark like this… it’s really frustrating. You get us to move back to Derdriu after acting all sneaky in Garreg Mach, just for you to continue the sneakiness when we get here? It… I don’t know… It just makes me feel really frustrated not knowing.”
With a hum, Claude removed the fork from her hand, and stabbed it into the stack of pancakes closest to him, as well as a slice of banana. He took his time to bite into it, before grinning. “That’s nice that. Maybe I’ll have to be even more secretive from now on just to get these nice breakfasts...”
“Okay, okay! I was kidding! And to be fair, I was actually going to tell you what was going on tonight over dinner, because I found your plans for a scheme to find it out...” He stepped back, and slowly let go of her. “I chose to keep it on the down low because of… what happened a few weeks ago. I… don’t want to see you so panicked again… ever.”
Byleth turned around so that she could finally see her husband, and it was only then that she realised he had a somewhat distressed look on his face. His eyes were looking over every small movement which she did, to see if she knew what he was talking about.
Then… realisation sank in.
“You’ve been working in secret to apprehend those assassins…”
Claude’s eyes met hers for a second, before he looked away. “I… I need to return to Almyra at some point soon… But I refuse to do such a thing before I know that you- No, that we will be safe. I’ve been arranging meetings with Nader to discuss progress on arresting them all. We’ve got most of them… but the ringleaders and the one responsible for hiring them are still on the loose.” He hesitated for a moment, before he took hold of one of the two cups of tea she had prepared, and took a sip before continuing. “Recently, Nader encountered some intelligence that some of the assassins had infiltrated Garreg Mach under the guise of knights. I had to have him confirm the validity of it, and when it turned out to be true...”
“That’s when you decided that we were to return to Derdriu.”
“To be honest… They were caught the day after we got here. I decided not to return for now though, as Derdriu is the capital city of Fódlan now, and also… It just feels cosier here with you. And besides, wouldn’t you rather we raise Esther in a place like this, where it’s mostly calm and peaceful?”
Byleth sighed. “You’re forgetting the demonic beast which appeared a few months ago...”
“It’s why I said ‘mostly’.”
She nodded as she then looked at the breakfast which she prepared, and then passed the plate with the part-eaten pancake over to Claude. “Okay… But for now, let’s just eat. We’ll talk about some happy stuff whilst we eat, but when we’ve finished eating?” She impaled a pancake with her fork, and scraped the metal against the plate. “We’re going to have a serious talk. About the situation with the assassins, king to queen – not as husband to wife. It’s a threat to both of us and the future princess of both lands, so it’s only logical that Fódlan contributes to the efforts.”
“As you wish...” Claude then winked, and picked up a strawberry. “So… I guess that breakfast is on me tomorrow?”
Chapter 11: Reminiscence
Byleth had decided to do some training with Leonie - she may have been five months pregnant, but she didn't see it as an excuse to slack off.
Meanwhile, Claude has been entrusted with something from his Officer's Academy days.
It had felt like a long time since Byleth had picked up a training sword. Despite this, the motions which she moved her hands in still felt natural. She actually agreed with Claude’s parents with the idea of at least still training through her pregnancy. The idea of her participating in actual fights had originally also been on the table, but as of late, she had felt reluctant.
Part of this was down to the fact that she was growing more and more aware of the baby developing in her body. There were the times that she could feel Esther kick, as everyone would know about if it happened. There also happened to be the times where she would feel the need to remain in bed longer than usual, as her back would ache. Normally during those times, however, Claude would lure her into taking a relaxing bath which would often help with any pain.
She had decided that for today, as her body was not aching and Esther was being gentle with kicking, she would have a short training session with Leonie. These sessions always helped Byleth feel more in touch with reality, and reminded her of simpler times. That may partially be because Leonie would fight with her father’s techniques, but she didn’t mind.
“Hey, you ready yet? You’ve been looking at that sword for a while, Professor,” Leonie’s voice snapped Byleth’s attention away from her sword. “Just say when you’re ready. Oh, and also say if you start to feel tired or anything, Claude’s really breathing down my neck about making sure you’re okay. I bet Jeralt would be the same if he were here, actually.”
“That… I wouldn’t be surprised at. Honestly… I may be five months pregnant, but it doesn’t mean that I’m completely fragile.” She then did her best to get into position to start the training session, the presence of a baby bump taking away some of her flexibility. “Anyway… Bring it on, Pinelli.”
Claude stretched his arms as he returned to his and Byleth’s home in Derdriu. He had just returned from Garreg Mach as he decided, to save Byleth a journey, to inform people such as Seteth of their plan regarding the Almyran assassins which were still after both royals.
A joint force was going to be established between Fódlan and Almyra, led by key people who the royals trusted in, and also trusted each other. Namely, Nader and Hilda’s brother, Lord Holst. After the pair had been introduced by Claude back in the days that they were fighting against the Adrestian Empire, they had often met up for drinks and to spar – even after Holst had been injured by Nemesis after his sudden revival and rampage.
They were to root out and eliminate any of the assassins if they were to emerge, and if the royals were to venture to near Fodlan’s Throat or even into Almyra, they would be present for support. Claude had made a point of them being especially wary if Byleth were to be there, considering her past experience with witnessing him being beheaded.
Aside from that, Claude had found himself burdened with a large box by Seteth. He hadn’t looked inside yet, but he was told that he could ‘do with it as he wished’. It was something which Cyril had collected when cleaning out and refurbishing the Officer’s Academy in preparation for its re-establishment in the next month of the Lone Moon.
Now that he was home, and his wyvern was settled down in the stable which was prepared for her in the gardens, he decided to have a look inside the box. He had hoped that he could open it with Byleth, but he had found a note upon his arrival saying that she would be out for a few hours with Leonie.
The box had been sealed shut with some rope, which was fortunately easily cut apart with a dagger. What he saw when he pulled it open was quite a surprise.
“Well, what do you know...” He reached in, and smiled at the familiar object resting on top. “The banner of the Golden Deer...” Claude placed it to his side, before pulling out a few more yellow banners, bearing the emblem of the former Leicester Alliance. There were more underneath though… The banners of the Blue Lions and Black Eagles, as well as the former Kingdom and former Empire.
He then paused for a moment, looking at those ever so familiar blue and red banners. “I wonder how Edelgard and Dimitri would have felt about all of this if they were alive...” What he was referring to was the current, relatively calm state of Fódlan, and that the Officer’s Academy was being revived. His heart, however, wanted him to refer to the fact that he was the one who had the Professor on his side… The one she had chosen to marry…
The one she was having a family with.
If it had been possible to work things out peacefully, would things have been different? Would he and Byleth still be together, albeit as King and Queen of Almyra as well as Duke and Duchess Riegan of the Alliance? Could Edelgard have been able to bring about the political reform she desired, doing away with the importance of crests (an idea he also longed for, but knew it would take many years to carry out)? Could Dimitri have made peace with the dead and his demons, and ruled over Faerghus with a firm fist and confidence?
Could they possibly have had families of their own? Claude could recall how close Edelgard had been to Hubert, as well as Dimitri with Mercedes… And Byleth.
He also wished that it could have been possible to introduce Esther to the pair. It didn’t mean that he couldn’t tell her stories about them though. The girl who wore red with snow white hair… The timid boy of blue who was also a fierce lion…
Claude’s eyes then fell onto the banners, and a smile formed on his face. He had a plan formulating in his head… part of it would have to be something he ran past Byleth, considering the nature of of his plan and the fact that it would have associations to his deceased former classmates… But there was one point he was sure that Byleth would be delighted with.
All he needed to do… was acquire a few more materials.
“Hah… Welcome to the Golden Deer, Esther...” He smiled, picking up his former class banner and going in the search for some needles, thread, scissors and a few buttons.
My personal headcanon is that Claude will 100% be a very wholesome and pure father and make his daughter stuffed toys out of things which are important to him starting with a golden deer made out of the Golden Deer banner from the Officer's Academy (which she will be attached to as though her life depends on it), and a blue lion and red eagle (bc obviously the black eagles are represented by the colour red) out of the other class banners if Byleth lets him-
Wait what no I'm not giving away some ideas I've got planned for the sequel to this for when Esther is born what-
Chapter 12: The 20th of the Horsebow Moon
Claude has to return to Almyra for the sentencing of the assassins.
He has to leave her on an important date, however.
“I promise… As soon as everything is dealt with, I’ll return. I’ll try to be as quick as I can...” Claude mumbled, pressing soft kisses to Byleth’s forehead. “I’ll write to you every day, starting with the moment I return home in Almyra...” His arms around her tightened, in turn ending with him being hit lightly in the chest for squeezing her and the baby bump a bit too much. “Hah, Sorry… I just know I’m going to miss both of my girls whilst I’m away...”
“I know… It’s not even that long to go now, just over three months… You’re not going to be away for that long, are you?”
“No way. Even if I’ve got to ask my father to temporarily lead Almyra in my absence, I’m not missing out on being there when she’s born, or those first few months...” Claude’s hand grew to rest on Byleth’s stomach as he stepped back and smiled. “But the first thing I’m doing when I get to Almyra other than sentencing those low-lives who tried to kill us… I’m going to seriously work on improving the transport between here and there. Can’t keep using wyvern to travel there and back, after all. Especially once Esther is born...”
It was Byleth’s turn to grin. “I’m glad that you said that – I was worried about having to warn you about carrying a newborn child miles up in the air.” She then pressed a quick kiss to his lips, and sighed. “I’ll be waiting for your safe return… Both of us will.”
One week had passed since Claude had left to go to Almyra. One of the main reasons behind his return had been because of the assassins after himself and Byleth had been apprehended, and no action could be taken against them and their crimes of treason without the presence of the king.
During this time, Byleth had decided to return to Garreg Mach. She had made sure to respond to one of Claude’s letters saying as such, so she would only know if he was aware if his letters were to be redirected there. There was one main reason as to why she had returned there though – she desired to visit her parents. It was the 20th of the Horsebow Moon, 1189.
Thirty years to the day, her mother had died giving birth to her. So yes, it was theoretically her birthday too. But Byleth didn’t feel like thirty years old – physically, she came across as a few years younger due to the stasis-like sleep she had been in for almost five years. Twenty-five, twenty-six at most. After many years of not celebrating her birthday, as Jeralt was never really one to care for age, followed by the discovery of what had happened that day… She never liked when the day came around.
Of course, Claude’s presence had always eased some of the pain of the 20th of the Horsebow Moon. But with him being in Almyra… She preferred to be left to mourn alone.
Sadly for her, she would not be permitted the peace which she craved at her parents’ grave.
“So… you’re here. I am so glad...” The familiar voice, at one point a calming and reassuring presence, eventually an additional source to her stress due to the now-fluctuating in power Church of Seiros pushing more responsibility onto her within her role of queen. “I am sure that both of them will be proud of the woman and leader you have become, and of the mother you are going to be...”
Byleth closed her eyes as she gently placed a bunch of flowers down onto the grave, before placing her hands onto her legs to ease herself into a standing position. She was somewhat hoping that she was really alone, and not with company. However, she turned around and saw the familiar green-haired woman stood there with a smile.
“Rhea… I didn’t hear that you would be at Garreg Mach. I thought you were still residing in the peace of Zanado.”
“I could not remain there on a day such as today… Today is a day of great sadness, but also a day in which Fódlan celebrates the birthday of its first queen.” The smile on Rhea’s face was meant to bring calm, Byleth knew that, but she had been around Claude far too much to believe it was completely genuine. “I am unaware of whether anyone else has wished you as such, Byleth… But happy birthday, and may your day be blessed by the Goddess...”
Rhea took a few small steps forward, and offered her hand to Byleth. Byleth knew it would be bad for Fódlan if it was known that she was too tense and wary around the Archbishop of the prominent religion, so she accepted her hand. “You appear sad… Please do not act as such. Did you know of what happened on the day of your birth?”
Byleth tensed up. She was only vaguely aware of the events of that day: her mother had died giving birth, and at some point, the Crest Stone of Flames – Sothis’ own heart – had been placed within her chest.
“I would rather not know… Not now. Not whilst I am expecting a child of my own.”
Rhea nodded in acceptance of her response. However, it appeared that she had more to say based upon the way in which she was glancing towards her, in particular her baby bump. “Is all well with yourself and Claude? How are you faring with preparations for your child?”
Byleth closed her eyes, and raised her head towards the grey skies. “We are doing well… Claude has recently had to return to Almyra to deal with an issue which has been bothering us both as of late,” she began, not wanting to go into the details. “As for preparations for our child… We are as ready as we can be for first time parents. Neither of us had the best upbringings, but we hope to allow Esther a chance to be a normal child, free from having to fight for her next meal, or overburdened with the responsibilities which come of royalty.”
“Esther… so you will be having a daughter then...”
“Yes.” Byleth then freed her hand, and took a shaky breath. It was so strange – though this information about their daughter was known throughout both Fódlan and Almyra, Rhea’s isolation within Zanado meant that she had been shielded from most of it. It felt concerning, having to repeat such information, but she put it to the back of her mind.
Rhea then placed a white lily at the grave, before carefully looking at Byleth. “You appear to be overburdened with stress… Please, come with me and I shall see if I can organise one of those tea parties which you seem so fond of.”
An hour later, and Rhea and Byleth were sat at the terrace overlooking Garreg Mach and beyond, just opposite the room which now belonged to herself and Claude, surrounded by a platter of sweet and savoury treats and a freshly brewed pot of tea. It had appeared that Rhea had been giving herself more independence in Zanado, and as such, had taken it upon herself to brew the tea which she knew Byleth enjoyed sharing with Claude rather than asking one of her attendants.
Byleth took in the comforting smell of the tea, and closed her eyes. She did her best to imagine that she was sat in the bedroom which she shared with her husband in Almyra, however, the familiar church bells and cold stone reminded her otherwise.
“There is another reason why I visited today, Byleth… Not to do with your day of birth or the anniversary of your mother’s death...” The queen opened her eyes as dread and concern began to fill her mind. This is the point where Claude would rub his hands together, sigh, and mutter about there always being about an ulterior motive. “Your daughter is who I would like to discuss...”
Silently, Byleth took hold of her cup and brought it to her lips to take a sip. It was much more mild-flavoured than she was used to having with Claude. Not that she didn’t like it, it just didn’t feel… right to her. “What about her? You aren’t wishing to implant a crest stone into her, are you?” Byleth never meant to let that remark pass her lips, and she only realised as such when Rhea tensed up. “My apologies… I need to watch what I’m saying. The circumstances of my birth are very much in my mind today.”
Rhea silently shook her head. “No, I should apologise to you – I should have considered my day of visiting more than I had done. I should have waited for a quieter time, perhaps when you would normally be in Derdriu.”
“What is it about Esther that you wished to talk about, anyway?” The cool, autumnal breeze appeared to stop as everything grew silent. Byleth didn’t like it – it almost felt foreboding. “Rhea, please… I need to know what you wanted to talk about regarding my daughter.”
The Archbishop sighed, and rested her hands upon her lap. “I assume that your daughter shall be taking on the religion of Fódlan upon her birth?”
And there was the ulterior motive.
“You are asking whether the daughter of two people who do not follow the Church of Seiros will be following the Church?” The question had struck a nerve, based on the way in which Byleth somewhat roughly placed her cup down onto its saucer, before she closed her eyes.
Rhea’s face creased into a look of disapproval. “Byleth. Your Majesty. I believe you do not understand the situation which your daughter will be placed in upon her birth. It goes far beyond you and Claude not being counted amongst the devout.”
“I fail to see it otherwise. When my daughter is old and wise enough to make the decision on her own, then she can decide whether she follows the Church or not. Myself, Claude, and certainly not you should have a say in the matter.”
The silence grew heavier and heavier, Byleth’s shoulders tensing up as her hands started to tremble through frustration.
Rhea sighed loudly. “People will be looking up to your daughter. People will be raising their own children, aspiring for them to be like her. And what’s more, a vast majority of the people of Fódlan still follow the Church – how would they feel if their royal family refutes it? It would… not go down well.”
Byleth wanted to get out of the situation, so she stood up and shook her head. “Rhea… I understand how important this may be for you, as the Archbishop, but this is tough for me to talk about. Yes, religion is important to Fódlan, but you must also consider that Esther will also be the crown princess of Almyra. Almyrans are unlike the people of Fódlan, as they are not religious nor do they have a god or goddess which they follow. The people of Fódlan and the Church of Seiros are not the centre of the world. From what I can see, the situation which my daughter – my family – will be in is that she needs to appease the people of two countries… and religion is not the way about that.”
Once she had said her piece, Byleth thanked Rhea for the tea and dismissed herself. She retreated inside and across the hall into the bedroom, before she locked it. That followed with her sinking down onto the floor and letting a few shaky sobs out. She wished that Claude had been there to help her in that conversation, but given the circumstances, she hoped that she had dealt with it as best as she could.
After taking a few minutes to calm herself down, Byleth pulled herself up and noticed a neatly wrapped package on the bed, accompanied by an envelope bearing the Almyran royal seal. Upon her eyes falling upon that seal, she rushed over and frantically tore the envelope open.
My darling queen,
It feels like forever since I’ve seen you. This week has dragged on horrifically… However, this letter comes bearing good news – I will be able to return to Fódlan in no later than a week. Will you be in Derdriu or Garreg Mach then?
I’m also sending this letter with a gift… It is technically something I have made for Esther, but you can hold onto it until she’s born. It’s to do with the entire reason why Hilda kept getting dragged to our home to get me some crafting materials and resources just before I left. I’m hoping it will make you as happy as I have felt making it. By the way, happy birthday! Didn’t think I would forget, did you?
Your deer-ly beloved,
p.s. - the pun is to do with what’s in the parcel.
A weak smile formed on Byleth’s face as she placed the letter down on the bed, before her attention went over to the parcel which was neatly wrapped with paper and tied with string. She took hold of her dagger to cut the string, and gently pulled the paper away.
Her breath hitched when she saw what was resting on the paper. A small, stuffed deer – and it looked to be made of the same materials as the Golden Deer’s banners from the former Officer’s Academy. Hell, she gasped when she realised that it was the banners.
She gently picked up the toy, and a familiar, comforting smell became present as she brought it closer to her. It smelled just like Claude…
Tears poured down her face as she lay down, and kept the toy close to her chest.
Even when he wasn’t there, Claude made any tough day feel easier.
I kinda got thinking before about how Rhea is still alive post-GD route, but is just pushed away all hush hush and stuff, so I wouldn't be surprised if she is still about even once Byleth is made leader of Fodlan and Claude just yeets himself off to Almyra???
Next chapter will be much more light-hearted and features all the Golden Deer~!
Oh, and happy late bday to Byleth??? Based on Jeralt's diary it should be 20th of September-ish but hilarious when you consider that you can set your own birthday yet it still gives that date from what I'm aware of-
Does feel a bit weird when I use my own birthday in-game (3rd of March/Lone Moon) especially when you consider that Byleth is techniCALLY 6 MONTHS OLD WHEN JERALT WRITES THIS LIKE DAMN THIS IS YOUR KID-
Chapter 13: Gift giving
An impromptu visit to their house in Derdriu leads to Claude and Byleth being given gifts.
There was a chill in the air – but Byleth didn’t know whether it was just her, the approaching winter, living near to the coast, or a combination of the three. Either way, she was sat at a large table (namely the one originally used at Alliance Roundtable meetings, which Claude asked be brought to their home after the establishment of a United Fódlan) with a thick blanket sourced from Fhirdiad around her body.
Also at the table were a large group of people… Namely the ones she held dearest to her. The ones who stuck with her through the thick and thin of difficult times between 1180 and 1185. Her former students – her precious Golden Deer. What had surprised her was that even those who transferred to her class in the Officer’s Academy days were even in attendance. For that matter, even Hanneman, Manuela, Seteth, Flayn, Cyril and Shamir were present. It was that much of a squeeze around the table, there were a few cases of sitting on laps or seat sharing.
“So… I bet you’re wondering why we’ve called you here, Professor, Claude.” Hilda had started the conversation once everyone had arrived and settled, her words reminding Byleth that Claude was sat next to her, keeping a firm grasp of her hand.
“To be fair, Hilda, you invaded our home and invited everyone inside. I’m very much within my rights to call my Wyvern in to ‘escort’ you all out,” Claude muttered, making a few people (Bernadetta and Ignatz in particular) flinch. “But I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt… for now.”
A chorus of sighs filled the room. They had all seen Claude’s wyvern in action, and knew that she was a force to be reckoned with.
Rolling her eyes, Byleth squeezed Claude’s hand, before pulling the blanket around her as best as she could, given the size of her body now. “Please ignore him, he’s just been feeling restless because he’s got nothing to do except gush over the little one in his spare time. He’s even taken up making her little toys-!”
“Byleth, please-!” Claude’s voice sounded like a whine when he tried to get her to stop telling all of his former classmates about his newest hobby. “It was one!”
“Three… I know you made a set of them. There’s two others hidden away in a box under our bed.”
Everyone was stunned by the child-like bickering going on between the couple, before Hilda tapped her nails on the table to get their attention back to the topic at hand. “As I was saying… The reason we are all here. It’s all well and good that the public get to send you gifts for you two and your daughter, but it’s just so… impersonal! They don’t know you!” She began, a wide smile forming on her head. “So, our purpose for today is to let everyone who personally knows you both to give you a gift!”
Byleth blinked for a moment, before giving Claude a confused look. She noticed that he seemed a bit puzzled at the idea, but he seemed to accept it and move on. They were already inundated with gifts for Esther both here in Derdriu, but also in the Almyran capital and in Garreg Mach. They were almost overwhelmed by the sheer amount. They were definitely not short of anything necessary for looking after a baby either. These gifts would be nothing different, even if they were from people she knew.
Hilda looked as though she wanted to start off with giving a present which she had brought herself, but found herself being cut off by Hanneman coughing loudly to draw people’s attention to him. “I believe my discovery will be an appropriate starting point for this gathering,” he stated, rubbing his chin for a moment. “Your Majesties, as you know, I have been assisting with Miss Marianne in any check ups with regard to Her Majesty’s and Her Highness’ health-”
Claude cut Hanneman off by raising his finger. “How many times do we have to say not to use formalities when talking to us when we’re not working? Just Claude and Byleth are fine. And Esther too...”
Hanneman shook his head. “No. I will use your titles as that is who you are, and it feels inappropriate not to.” There was a tense silence for a moment, before he continued. “As I was saying… I assisted with the health check ups. Well, something quite incredible came up in the most recent check… Your daughter will indeed possess a crest...” Byleth raised her eyebrow at that, and Claude sighed. “She will be the first recorded case of a minor Crest of Flames.”
“That is certainly… interesting, Hanneman,” Byleth smiled, before her eyes went directly into his. “But we’re going to do our best to raise her in an environment where crests bear no weight. Though the information is useful for if we need to protect her… so thank you.”
She could see Hanneman seem a slight bit bothered that she hadn’t been more excited over the thought of crests, but that was a discussion she had already had with Claude – crests would mean nothing to the von Riegan family. Yes, they may possess them, but there will be nothing more than that.
“Anyway! Finally, to the other gifts!” Hilda cheered, before she pushed an elegantly wrapped box across the table towards the pair. “This is from me! Oh, and Marianne and Lorenz too! We thought that if Esther is a princess, she needs to dress like one! So we’ve got the cutest of dresses, little mittens and socks, ooh, and a charm bracelet for when she’s older!” Her eyes were wide and eager to watch the box be opened, but she paused for a moment. “By the way… you’re not seriously thinking of calling her ‘Esther’, are you?”
Ignoring her question about name choice, Claude opened the box after some nudging by Byleth. As said, there were a large collection of clothes present. They were a mix of pinks and yellows, and even a few darker dresses which appeared to be inspired by the colours of the usual outfit which Byleth would normally wear before the pregnancy.
Then, he reached in and picked up the charm bracelet which was in there. A faint smile formed on his face. “Somebody has certainly been doing her research… Has our dearest Hilda stopped slacking off, and started to do something remotely useful with her time?” He clasped his hand around the bracelet, and looked at Byleth. “I don’t think you’re aware of this, but in Almyra, people have many different superstitions. One of which is giving a person important to them a bracelet like this. Each charm means different things, such as health, longevity, strength, happiness… The fact that Hilda has been able to pull this off is actually quite incredible.”
After that, everyone else gave their own gifts. Raphael had brought a basket of food, and a reminder that Byleth needs to ‘eat for two’. There were a few groans at that. Lysithea and Mercedes had brought some food-based gifts too, but these were more along the lines of small candies and treats than the equivalent of a small buffet.
Ignatz had done a painting for Esther. Rather than a traditional-style painting which he would often do, he had done something more simple. It was a painting of the night sky, with happy looking stars decorating the canvas. Claude appeared fascinated at the painting, and declared straight away that it was going to be placed above the crib in the nursery which was being prepared.
Leonie had made Byleth tear up with her gift. It was a small carving shaped like some sort of animal (it was hard to distinguish what, other than the four legs) but what had made her cry was the fact that it was made using techniques taught to Leonie by Jeralt. It felt like a gift given to her indirectly by her father, who wouldn’t be able to see his granddaughter grow up…
Despite her thoughts from a few minutes earlier, her mind had quickly been changed. Yes, these were gifts, just like all of the others… But these gifts meant something – thought had been put into them, rather than being seen as an obligation due to their royal status.
“E- Excuse me, Byleth… Um… H- Here’s my gift! I’m sorry if it’s bad!” Bernadetta was the next one to pass a wrapped gift over, before she covered her face. “I- I worked with Seteth to make this… H- He wrote it, and I did the illustrations...”
“Now, Bernadetta, you do not need to fret. Your illustrations for the book were excellent, and I am sure that Their Majesties will appreciate it.”
Seeming as Byleth was still feeling emotional after Leonie’s gift, Claude was the one who unwrapped the present. He raised an eyebrow, before nudging Byleth to look at it. It was a book, which appeared to be a series of short stories. The title of the book gave away what the contents of the novels were about. “‘Stories of The Goddess and The King’… Say, these stories don’t happen to be about a beautiful woman with Sothis’ powers, and a dashingly handsome Almyran king, do they?” He flicked it open to one of the pages with an illustration, before grinning at Bernadetta. “You have certainly captured my likeness, Bernie.”
“Eep! D- Don’t say things like that! You’re embarrassing me!” She shrieked, before taking a deep breath to calm down. “But, um… This gift was actually Flayn’s idea… She said that it would be good for you two to tell stories to your daughter about e- everything you’ve done together!”
After that, there were a few more gifts given. They were mostly simple things such as little accessories like ribbons and hair clips from Sylvain, traditional Brigid toys from Petra, and a ticket for a performance in Enbarr from Manuela and Dorothea.
There was, however, a line which was close to being crossed with some of the later gifts, though fortunately, the reasoning was sound.
Ferdinand had decided that it would be an excellent idea to buy a tea set for Esther. He claimed it would be important with regard to her status as nobility, but also to have a common interest with Byleth for when she grew up. That had let him off from getting the ‘wyvern treatment’.
Felix had stunned them all though. He just placed a dagger down on the table.
“What…?” Claude seemed very confused as to why Felix had decided to gift a dagger. “You do realise that babies have little stubby fingers which can’t exactly… hold weapons, right?”
“It’s tradition in Faerghus. As the Boar once put it… ‘blades are a tool of destiny’. And you two do the whole ‘making your own destiny’ thing, so I bet your kid will too.”
Chapter 14: Ninth Anniversary
Surely nothing could happen when Byleth begs Claude to visit Garreg Mach on the anniversary of Jeralt's death.
Despite how reluctant he had been to leave Derdriu, Claude had caved in to Byleth’s request to venture up to Garreg Mach. It was the 26th of the Ethereal Moon, and the ninth anniversary of Jeralt’s death. In addition to that, Byleth was heavily pregnant now. To be specific, she was due to give birth at any given point.
Claude had tried to persuade her to wait until after Esther had been born, particularly due to the risk of going into labour when travelling. Byleth had been far too stubborn to be talked out of the trip, and so, they worked out two conditions for visiting – they weren’t to return to Derdriu until Esther was born, and that Byleth was not to leave the grounds of the monastery.
Just to ease some of his concerns, Claude had also persuaded Leonie to be by her side (not that she wouldn’t be, she was there to visit Jeralt’s grave too) when he wasn’t with her.
As much as Claude wanted to remain by Byleth’s side, however, he had been distracted with another problem. One which kept him stuck in the stables of Garreg Mach with Seteth.
“Ow-!” Claude yelped out when his gloved hand was bitten, teeth managing to break through the material. “Damn it! That hurt...” He shook off the creature which was trying to chew at him, before there was a loud screech to the side and Seteth getting startled by it.
“We just need to get them back into the stable, then we can figure out what we do from there...”
It took a good few minutes, before finally, the two men managed to push the gate closed. They were exhausted, covered in scratches and bites, and were in shock. Recently, Claude had been allowing his wyvern to venture between Garreg Mach and Derdriu to stretch her wings, as she had been restless and noisy remaining in one place. She had been extremely excited at the opportunity to fly around without her master, however, she had seemingly… become very good friends with Seteth’s wyvern. Hence, resulting in this situation.
“… Claude. What are we going to do? I do not have the capacity to look after a litter of baby wyverns at present, not whilst I am temporarily taking on yours and your wife’s royal duties.”
Claude tapped his foot for a moment, running his hand over his beard as he tried to think. “There are three of them, so...” He trailed off, thinking of possible ideas. “Perhaps Flayn would like one. Wyverns love to eat fish, so she would have many an exciting day fishing with her father and one of these little ones.”
Seteth took a moment, before a gentle smile formed on his face. “Yes, that would… Wait for just one second, Claude. How did you even-?!” His face filled up with horror. “If word gets out about this-!”
“My lips are sealed. Don’t worry. Now, about the other wyverns...” Claude found the courage to extend his arm over the gate, and one of them started playfully nibbling at his glove, rather than viciously biting. “My parents would likely appreciate one of them. They could get especially bred wyverns back at home, but I find the conditions they are raised in harsh. I’m in the process of trying to tighten rules regarding wyvern breeding there, actually. I am sure they would enjoy raising and training one of their own, especially one not born to live a short and brutal life.”
“And the third… Should go to your daughter.”
“You… think that Esther should have one?”
“Yes. There would be a lasting bond, especially considering that it is the spawn of her father’s wyvern. Also, is it not Almyran tradition? I took it upon myself to learn more of your homeland upon your entry to the Officer’s Academy, after all.”
Claude nodded in agreement, before he allowed the wyvern who had been playing with him to jump onto his arm. “Okay… then I believe this one is friendly enough. Maybe the noisy one… Flayn, and the biting one to my parents?”
“Nine years, huh...” Byleth was stood by the grave shared by her parents, before sighing and closing her eyes. “To think… I missed this day four times… I woke up two days before the fifth, and… this time a year ago, I was almost killed by a demonic beast...”
Leonie placed her hand on Byleth’s shoulder. “Don’t worry… At least you’re here, Professor. And I’m sure Jeralt would understand why you missed some years too. I bet he’d be proud of you.” She then patted her shoulder a few times, before leaning down and placing a bouquet of flowers for Byleth, who couldn’t properly crouch down to place them.
After that, the pair remained in silence, though Byleth was feeling highly emotional. The combination of pregnancy and tiredness had not been a good combination for her, and adding grief to the mix was a final push.
Slowly, tears began to pour down her face. She remained silent, but the tears were more than clear. Leonie noticed the tears, and gently placed her arm over her shoulders and squeezed reassuringly.
As she did her best to comfort Byleth, Leonie started looking around to see whether Claude was nearby. She had heard Seteth call him for something ‘important’, but they had been gone for quite a while by that point.
Unfortunately, the situation became very tense and very quickly. Byleth groaned between her tears, and one hand grew to rest on her back, the other firmly against her stomach. Leonie assumed it was simply just a backache, and that it would be best for her to sit down soon. That was not the case.
“Leonie… I think that...” She tensed up a bit, and it was then that Leonie got the hint. “Can you… Can you get Claude?”
Claude had a sleeping baby wyvern in his arms as he sat impatiently outside his and Byleth’s room. He had been found by Leonie moments after he had left the stables, and she had been well and truly flustered over what she needed to say. Eventually she had managed to get the words out, in an eloquently phrased ‘She’s, uh… you know! Baby!’
When he had arrived to see how Byleth was, she was generally okay. She was in pain, as expected when giving birth, but fortunately in the hands of reliable healers, including Marianne. Unfortunately, he couldn’t stay for long. He was asked to wait outside, but he was never given a reason why. It had him scared and frustrated, but he knew that if he needed to be out of the way for the healers to do their thing, then he would stay out of their way.
He just wished… that he could be in there with her. Claude had repeatedly told Byleth that he would do his best to be by her side, and hold her hand. He didn’t want to leave her on her own, even if it was so that those who knew what they were doing could help out.
Eventually, the baby wyvern rolled itself around in his arms, and made a quiet chirping noise as it woke up. It was a slight distraction at that moment in time, especially with the noises coming from the bedroom which sent shivers down his spine.
“You… You’re going to look after my little girl, aren’t you?” He stroked the wyvern under its chin, and it started to purr almost like a cat. “Yeah… You can look after Esther, and I’m sure that Esther will look after you...”
He continued to distract himself by letting the wyvern play with the sash which he normally had around himself, allowing it to be used like a strange combination between a chew toy, scratching post, and comfort blanket. He wanted to smile at the sight in front of him, but his worries over what was going on behind the door were enough to overpower that desire.
After what felt like hours, the wyvern fell asleep once again, albeit on the sash on the floor, so he stood up and started pacing around the hallway, glancing out of the windows. The sun was high up in the sky, so it hadn’t even been long since this had all began.
He just hoped it wouldn’t take much longer… His nerves couldn’t take much more.
Time continued to pass. Claude grew tired of pacing, so he sat down again, his foot tapping against the stone floors. People would occasionally arrive to see if they could find out what was going on, but at the sight of seeing Claude stressing, they kept their distance.
Eventually, when the skies were on the verge of turning to sunset, with hues of orange and yellow starting to tint the clouds, the door was opened, and Claude froze. He had to admit, he was still fearing the worst… but the sight of Marianne with a smile on her face sent relief flooding through his body.
Everything was fine. And everything was going to be fine.
I took the executive decision to not write angst
Angst was earlier in the fic
Now things are happy
And Claude and Byleth deserve to be happy with their little baba >u<
Chapter 15: For the first time
Claude finally meets his daughter.
I've not been able to sleep and this is just a very short chapter so uhhhhh
Here's the last chapter :)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Oh, before you see her… She might be tired, so try not to ask many questions...”
“Right...” Claude nodded, before hesitating as he reached out for the door handle. He had been excited for this moment, but now his concern was as to whether this moment would live up to the expectations he had created.
He was luckily met with something even better.
Byleth was, as Marianne had said, tired. Exhausted, even. But she looked like a goddess, especially considering what had happened over the past few hours. She had been propped up on a pile of pillows in the bed. Her hair was plastered against her face, but generally pushed out of her eyes. Her normally pale skin was even paler than he was used to. However, the sunlight streaming in through the windows helped greatly in making her look calmer and much less rough.
And in her arms… Their daughter. She was so small, even considering the fact that she was wrapped up in a blanket.
“Claude...” Byleth let out a strained whisper, before her eyes moved from him to the child in her arms. “She’s… real...”
Without a moment of hesitation, Claude went over to the bed and sat down beside her. He took that opportunity to finally look at his – their – daughter. For months he had been waiting for this moment, and now…
“She certainly is real… And I have to say, she really takes after you...” Gently, he removed his slightly chewed-up glove, before extending his hand out and stroking Esther’s cheek. “Your eye colour, your mouth, your cuteness...”
Byleth smiled, before closing her eyes and leaning back slightly. The baby remained against Byleth’s chest as she moved, before she quietly laughed. “You say that, but...” She moved her head to press a soft kiss to the baby’s head, before sighing. “She looks more like you… Her skin, nose, hair…”
“She’s got the best of both of us,” he grinned, noticing how Esther seemed to be growing comfortable in her mother’s warmth. “And I’m… so happy that she’s finally here with us.”
Slowly, Byleth nodded and yawned. “Today… started off as a sad day. But now… it’s so happy...” She then did her best to move her head further into the pillows. “And I’m… tired...”
Gently, Claude lifted their daughter away from Byleth, who smiled at him as she closed her eyes. That then left him in a stunned silence as he looked at Esther, who was now staring at him with her little green eyes.
After making sure he was holding her properly, Claude had the opportunity to take in everything about his current situation. The baby in his arms was his child… His little girl, the princess of Almyra and Fódlan. She was so small, but so precious… And he couldn’t quite believe that he had played a part in contributing to her existence.
“Esther von Riegan…” He did his best to blink away the tears forming in his eyes, but it was impossible. “I love you… My daughter...”
Perhaps faster than the news of the pregnancy had spread across Fódlan, by nightfall of the 26th of the Ethereal Moon, many knew of the newborn princess. A messenger had barely had the chance to leave Garreg Mach to let Claude’s parents know, but it was likely that the entirety of Fódlan and Almyra would know by the end of the next day.
Neither Byleth nor Claude honestly cared about the commotion. They intended to remain hidden from the spotlight at Garreg Mach, at least for a few days. Seteth and many others, particularly Leonie and Alois, were doing their best to keep the most determined of the curious at a distance.
The first that those who were closest to Byleth and Claude saw their daughter was the morning of the 27th, when Flayn had decided to bring the couple something to eat, accompanied by a few of their friends.
Claude’s parents had finally decided to visit Fódlan on the 1st of the Guardian Moon. His mother doted over Esther, whilst his father was more focussed on making a reluctant Byleth ‘get back into shape’ before he found himself with his granddaughter. Claude had to constantly intervene whenever Esther would cry at the new attention, or when Byleth just wanted to spend some time resting.
Then came the day which they wished didn’t arrive, but they knew would be inevitable. The people of Fódlan and Almyra wanted to see their new princess, and they couldn’t keep her hidden away from the public. In an event arranged between the couple, Hilda (as well as her brother), and Claude’s parents, they decided to let the people see the princess at the border between both countries.
For what felt like the first time ever, Claude could see everything he had ever wished for and more come to fruition. People of Almyra and Fódlan were together, neither side hostile to the other. People were cheerful, and celebrating. It was almost groundbreaking when friendships were formed between the people of both countries at the congregation…
And all because of his daughter.
There's obviously going to be a follow up to this! Not sure when I'll start working on it, but I'm definitely concocting some ideas!
Thank you for all the lovely comments and support with this fic~