Chapter 1: What's Done in the Dark
After a week of waiting, Lady Rhea finally calls upon Byleth, Edelgard, and Claude to discuss the events of last Sunday.
As I've stated in the story summary, this is a direct squeal to my story No Good Deeds Go Unpunished. If you haven't read that story than a lot of the things in this one won't make sense, so I would suggest going to read that one before reading this.
Also, I've stated in the tags that this story is not canon compliant. SPOILER, for anyone who hasn't gotten to this point but this mainly pertains to Jeralt not being killed after the dance, Byleth not yet fully absorbing Sothis, and some other things that will be later explained in the story.
Alright, my little speech is done now! Thank you for reading and I hope you all enjoy!
“Here have some meat for being a good boy,” Byleth cooed as she tossed a raw piece of beef into the air. Twig, her beloved Wyvern, chirped happily as he swooped down and gobbled up his reward. Byleth watched with a small smile as he soared back into the air and let out another happy noise.
Byleth rested her hands on her hips as she watched the small Wyvern loop around the air with a look of glee written across his face. The two had been training for the past four hours in the large grassy field that stood right outside of the Wyvern pens and now Twig was enjoying himself, saddle and Byleth free as he flew around.
Byleth couldn’t help but smile softly despite how she was feeling. Her thighs were currently burning from being in a saddle for so long and her chest was heaving as she pulled in sharp breaths. Her face was bright red and large drops of sweat were pouring down all sides of her face.
“Have some more beef,” Byleth called as she tossed another strip up towards Twig. She laughed as he immediately dived for it. In his eagerness to get his treat he wasn’t paying attention to the ground or how close he was to it and crashed right into it causing dirt and grass to go everywhere.
“Smooth!” She laughed as she jumped back to avoid getting run over. Almost immediately Twig snapped his head up and craned it in her direction as if sensing he was being teased. With the beef hanging out of his mouth he quickly crawled towards her, only causing Byleth to laugh more as he pressed his wet muzzle against her neck.
Reaching up she ran her hand along his scaly muzzle. Twig was rather runty for a Wyvern, tinier than the average size in Garreg Mach. The moment Seteth had walked her into the pens and she saw him, Byleth knew that she had to have Twig as her partner. A lot of people in the Wyvern unit liked to tease them about Twig’s size but they were the fastest on the field which meant they took down the most enemies when on a mission.
Pulling back, Byleth began to rub the front of his muzzle causing him to let out a noise akin to purring in a cat.
“I know, I know I love you too,” Byleth said softly as Twig attempted to press his forehead against her own. He might be small, but his head was nearly five times the size of Byleth’s and the motion caused her to stumble back and almost topple over. “Calm down will you!” She laughed as she ducked under his chin and moved back towards the bucket of meat with Twig happily stomping behind her.
Reaching forward she grabbed another piece of beef and threw it into the air as hard as possible. Twig roared happily before running forward and launching himself into the air taking off after it. As she watched him, Byleth felt her mind slipping as it had been all week.
One week had passed since the horrible events of last Sunday. After running an errand for a student a rumor had spread around the monastery that she and Lady Rhea were a couple. On the surface, it seemed like an innocent thing but unfortunately for Byleth, her students found no humor in the rumor.
The Head of her House, star student, and lover Edelgard had believed the rumor and because of it had lashed out at her. In the end, they had discussed it and Byleth was quite easily able to convince Edelgard that the rumor was nothing more than that. After that the two had a long, exhausting conversation discussing the perimeter of their relationship and the new terms of it going forward.
That was all after a six way duel in the mess hall. Dimitri, Dedue, and Leonie had all taken on Byleth, Edelgard, and Claude. Byleth and her team had managed to win but not after Dimitri had cracked open her skull. Thankfully Mercedes and Linhardt had managed to heal her before she could suffer any real damage. The same, however, could not be said for Dedue who was still in the infirmary suffering from injuries Edelgard had given him.
Dimitri had only been released yesterday and Leonie had been released a week ago. Byleth was still confused as to why one simple rumor about her dating Lady Rhea had caused Dimitri to go off the deep end and she hadn’t asked him yet either. While they were recovering Byleth had sent him, Dedue, and Leonie flowers in an attempt to mend their fences. She had never wanted to fight them in the first place and wanted to make things right with them but didn’t know when a good time to approach them would be. A week later and the wounds were still fresh, she didn’t want to risk another fight breaking out.
As for Edelgard, things seemed precarious at best. The two at the moment were good but they were still in that tense place after a fight where one wrong move could cause things to backslide. Byleth believed with all her heart that Edelgard would work on her trust issues and their communication but only time would tell if Edelgard could live up to Byleth’s expectations.
“She hasn’t failed me yet…” Byleth thought as she tossed another piece of beef into the air. As thoughts of Edelgard continued to run through her mind, Byleth failed to notice a figure approaching her and Twig.
“You spoil that thing,” Byleth froze at the sound of Seteth’s steely voice. Slowly she turned to see Lady Rhea’s right hand standing behind her with his arms folded behind his back and a scowl etched into his face.
“That thing has a name,” Byleth reminded him with a soft smile. “And he isn’t spoiled, I show him the appropriate amount of love and affection. You just ignore your Wyvern and treat her like a weapon and not a living creature.”
“We both know from experience that two of us could get into a long debate about how the other treats their Wyvern and what is the correct and incorrect way to do so, but right now I’m afraid we haven’t the time,” Byleth felt a cold feeling unfurl in the pit of her stomach, knowing what his next words would be.
“From the look on your face, I can tell you’ve already worked out what I’m about to tell you,” Seteth kept his face neutral as he spoke his next words. “Lady Rhea wishes to speak with you about the duel that occurred in the mess hall last week, among other things that occurred there as well.”
“I’m surprised it took so long,” Byleth said maintaining her smile.
“Yes, well I’m sorry we didn’t conduct our full investigation on your time table Professor Eisner but if it pleases you we’ve finished the majority of it and now must conduct the last of the interviews,” Seteth said sharply. “If you would put your Wyvern back in its pen and meet us in the Archbishop’s Chamber we would be ever so grateful,” Byleth watched with a frown as Seteth spun around and marched back the way he came not waiting for her response.
“Professor Eisner…no one ever calls me that.”
“Upset he didn’t say Professor von Hresvelg?” Sothis teased.
“This is bad, I wonder if Lady Rhea plans on firing me,” Byleth said with a frown, ignoring Sothis as she spoke.
“Bad news for you but great news for the Imperial Princess,” Sothis announced. “No more Professor Byleth, no more secret relationship, and she gets to announce her ownership over you to the entire world.”
“Enough,” Byleth said strictly as she tilted her head to the side and began to smack her ear as if she was waterlogged.
“That won’t shut me up,” Sothis said before, ultimately, shutting up. Shaking her head Byleth began to whistle to Twig her stomach twisting as she got ready for her possible termination.
The walk to the Archbishops Chamber was a slow and agonizing one for Byleth. Her knees felt like nothing more than bags of water and her chest was so tight that it hurt. With every step she took, she felt like she was going to throw up.
It was a struggle to walk up the stairs and when she got to the second floor, she had to take a second and breathe. Byleth might not have originally been prepared to take this teaching position but now she wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. Her students were her family and she didn’t want to lose them.
Not even Dimitri, Dedue, or even Leonie. Byleth didn’t know what she would do if Lady Rhea sent her away. Where would she even go? Taking in another deep breath she opened the doors of the Audience Chamber and walked in. The room was void of the usual nuns and priest that occupied it. As usual Lady Rhea stood at the front of the chamber while Seteth stood by her right side looking as if he had just smelled something foul.
The two were not alone. Standing with their backs turned to her was Edelgard and Claude. At the sound of the doors opening they had turned and both seemed to relax at the sight of her. This week Byleth hadn’t seen Claude much but Edelgard had been hanging all over her when she could. Every night, she would come to Byleth’s room to be held and kissed. Despite the fragile place they were in Byleth didn’t mind, in fact, at this moment she would give anything to be safely under the covers of her bed being held tightly by her lover.
“Great for you to finally join us Professor Eisner,” Lady Rhea said curtly only causing Byleth’s worry to deepen. She and Edelgard exchanged a look at the use of Byleth rarely used surname.
“Hello my friend,” Claude greeted happily. “We were worried that you might have cut and run.” Edelgard scoffed and rolled her eyes.
“Speak for yourself Claude, I know my teacher would never do something so cowardly.” Claude cut his eyes over to Edelgard.
“I was just teasing, do you have to be so goddamn serious all the time?” He snapped causing Byleth to frown.
“That’s enough,” Lady Rhea said cutting off Edelgard before she could retort. “You three have been called here already due to fighting, there will be no more here today.” Byleth felt her mouth go dry as she moved to stand between her best friend and lover. Her fingers itched to wrap themselves around Edelgard’s hand.
“We’ve had nothing but rampant reports about the six way fight that took place in the mess hall last week,” Seteth said with a deep frown. “Dedue is still suffering from serious injuries. Three cracked ribs, a broken nose, and a concussion just to name a few,” His eyes snapped over to Edelgard as he spoke. The Imperial Princess shrugged, looking as if she cared not for the state of her foe.
“That’s the least of what she wanted to do to him,” Byleth thought as she glanced over to her girlfriend. She remembered Edelgard's promise of beheading all three of their foes last week, Byleth had managed to talk her down from doing it but just barely.
“Every week that girl gets closer to beheading someone in your name,” Sothis remarked. Byleth began to smack her ear again, gaining odd looks from everyone in the room but Edelgard who was used to this kind of odd behavior.
“As for Dimitri he has just been released from the infirmary, Manuela managed to heal his cracked jaw but he’s suffered a few missing teeth.” Seteth continued on with his report.
“Dimitri was the one who challenged Professor Byleth,” Edelgard said quickly cutting Seteth off. “He came storming into the mess hall because, for whatever odd reason, the rumors of Lady Rhea and Professor Byleth had sent him into a frenzy.”
“Who can feel sorry for the fool?” Edelgard asked as she continued to speak. “He made his poor decision, she didn’t want to fight but in the end, she had to do so in order to protect her own life.”
“As we’ve heard,” Lady Rhea said her annoyance slowly melting away. “We’ve spoken to Dimitri and Leonie already both, according to Claude, had a big role to play in the fight. They will not escape their rightful punishment. Still, the involvement of you three is concerning, chiefly the fact that none of you came to Seteth or I after the events.”
“Teach was hurt badly,” Claude jumped in. “Dimitri broke her skull open, we took her to her dorm in order to heal her.”
“Why not got to Manuela?” Seteth demanded.
“We weren’t thinking at the moment,” Edelgard said. “We just picked her up and went straight towards her dorm before getting Mercedes and Linhardt to heal her.”
“And what about after she was healed? Why not come to us?” Lady Rhea demanded. “Or in the week that followed?” All three exchanged a look, none having a good answer for her.
“As expected,” Seteth scoffed. “From students, I would expect such behavior but as their Professor, you should know better.” His words caused Byleth to hang her head low and for the first time since arriving she spoke.
“You’re right,” she said softly. “I should have known better and come straight to you both after I was fully healed, whatever punishment you chose to give to me, I shall accept without complaint.” Seteth’s displeased face now turned smug.
“I'm glad in this you can see reason,” he said proudly before turning to look at Rhea. "I think we're both on the same page when it comes to Professor Eisner's punishment."
“Yes after taking all things into consideration from here until the rest of the year Professor Byleth, I expect to see you every Sunday in this chamber from eight in the morning to noon stamping my letters and sealing them.” Seteth’s jaw hit the floor while Edelgard, Byleth, and Claude’s eyes slightly widened with surprise.
“As for you two, for the rest of the school year you will be tasked with weeding out my garden on the third floor,” she said firmly. “I expect the next time something like this happens you will report it immediately.”
“Slaps on the wrist!” Seteth gasped.
“I said taking all things into consideration,” Lady Rhea said firmly. “Yes they brawled in the mess hall but they did so in defense. I do not see it fit to give them equal punishments to those of the attackers.”
“And what about the Professor?!” He demanded.
“The least guilty of them all,” Lady Rhea proclaimed causing Seteth’s eyes to almost pop from his skull. “From all the eye witness accounts we’ve gotten Dimitri came in swinging for Professor Byleth’s life, she had no choice but to defend herself.”
“I- I-!” Seteth could hardly speak. "But she never- she didn't come- we just spoke about-!"
“We will gladly take our punishment,” Claude informed Lady Rhea, cutting Seteth off as he dipped into a low bow. “And we will never not report such an incident again.” He promised as Edelgard dipped into a bow and repeated a similar sentiment.
“Good, Claude you may leave.” Lady Rhea said. “However, Edelgard and Professor Byleth I wish for you both to stay.” Claude frowned and quickly glanced at Byleth, he looked as if he was contemplating if he should speak up and attempt to stay as well. In the end, though, he bowed once more before turning and heading out. Once the doors closed behind him, another sour expression crossed over Seteth’s face.
“For the real troubling news,” he said darkly causing Byleth to give him a troubled look. As quick as her relief came it went as she heard Seteth's words.
“Reports of the fight were not the only information we got from what took place in the mess hall,” Lady Rhea said. “Edelgard, many onlookers told us they heard you call the Professor ‘baby’ as you rushed to her side. Is this true?”
In her entire life, Byleth had never had to fight so hard to keep her expression still and calm. It took all her might not to wheel around to her lover with a mortified expression.
“Of course not,” Edelgard said as if Lady Rhea had just said the most prosperous thing in the world. “I called out ‘Byleth’ nothing more.”
“Using such an informality with a teacher,” Seteth tsked.
“Professor Byleth is close in age to myself and all the other students in our class,” Edelgard explained. “We see her more like a friend than an actual Professor, it’s not uncommon for us to use her first name without the title.” Byleth nodded quickly at Edelgard's words, almost believing them herself.
“I’ve never observed this,” Seteth shot back. “In fact, I’ve only ever heard anyone refer to her with that title or simply Professor but never Byleth.”
“It’s not something that I allow to happen out of the classroom,” Byleth said quickly. “In public, I like to keep things more professional but in the classroom, things are far looser.” Seteth narrowed his eyes as he looked between the two.
“I would think that would be the opposite,” he countered.
“Yes, well we don't always do things by the book in our class,” Byleth said.
“In the moment I was scared,” Edelgard admitted. “I slipped up and called her Byleth by mistake, surely though you can understand why I did such a thing.” Lady Rhea was quiet as she carefully examined the two to see if they were lying.
Eventually, she came to her decision.
“Very well,” Lady Rhea said. “I believe you both but as a reminder Professor Byleth, despite the closeness in age you share with your students to engage in a romantic relationship with one is highly inappropriate and grounds for termination.”
“I understand,” Byleth said.
“Make sure you do,” Seteth said bitterly.
“Now that we have that all cleared up, you both may go.” Lady Rhea said. As she spoke her eyes connected with Byleth and the younger woman felt a feeling of dread spread throughout her. She could see it in her eyes, Lady Rhea knew the full truth.
“But why isn’t she firing me?” Byleth thought as she froze in her spot. "Or calling me out?"
“I suppose the answer lies with why she hired you in the first place,” Sothis said somberly. “But right now your escaping by the skin of your teeth, these questions are one for another time.” Byleth nodded before turning and retreating with Edelgard.
It didn’t feel like she was escaping in the slightest.
It was around midnight when Byleth heard soft knocking on her dorm room door. She had been pacing the floor for the past hour, waiting for her expected visitor. Spinning towards the door she quickly reached down and opened it to reveal her lover on the other side. Byleth quickly pulled Edelgard in before shutting and locking the door behind her.
“Did you really call me baby or did those people misunderstand you when you said my name?” Byleth demanded, despite already knowing the answer. Edelgard frowned and her lack of words was enough for the Professor who let out a low groan.
“I’m so sorry,” she said as Byleth dropped down onto the side of the bed with her head in her hands. “I was scared, I just watched you get you skull bashed open. For a second I thought I had lost you I’m sorry-”
“Why didn’t you say anything earlier?” Byleth demanded with a scowl.
“Honestly, I had forgotten I said it until Lady Rhea had brought it up just now, with everything that happened that day and the stress of this week it just slipped my mind.” As Edelgard spoke she leaned against Byleth's desk.
“Edelgard you can’t make mistakes like that,” Byleth said quickly. “I saw the look on Lady Rhea’s face, she knew we were lying.”
“I know,” Edelgard said, Byleth wasn’t surprised to hear her lover had caught it too. “I’m sorry. I’m only human and when I saw you bleeding out on the floor...I didn’t think of anything but getting to you.” Byleth scrubbed her face and long seconds ticked by with neither of them speaking.
“You and I have no business being in a secret relationship,” Byleth chucked in an attempt to break the growing tension. When Edelgard said nothing Byleth picked her head up to see a worried look on her girlfriends face. “Hey, it’s okay. I’m not mad I understand where you’re coming from, it’s just we need to be more careful that’s all. Especially now that Lady Rhea knows, I'm not sure why she isn't saying anything but now more than ever we need to be vigilant with how we speak and act.” Edelgard slowly nodded and pulled herself up so she was sitting on the desk.
“What are you thinking?” Byleth asked worry growing in her voice when Edelgard remain lost in her thoughts.
“Last week you told me you wanted nothing but honesty and transparency right?” Byleth nodded, trying to figure out where Edelgard was going with this. “Well, there have been a few things that I’ve been hiding from you.”
“Please Byleth, I’ve been struggling with how to tell you these things all week.” Edelgard’s voice sounded small as she spoke. “I, I want our relationship to work so badly and I want nothing but trust and honesty between us.”
Byleth sighed heavily. She wasn’t sure what the correct thing to feel in this moment was, but she couldn’t help but feel afraid of whatever Edelgard was going to say next. Fear and annoyance to know that her lover had been hiding things from her. Still, Byleth didn’t want that to show, so she took in a deep breath and rolled her shoulders back. She couldn’t meet Edelgard’s attempt to be honest with hostility. That wouldn’t be fair and only prompt lying in the future.
“Okay,” Byleth said as calmly as humanly possible. “Tell me everything.”
Chapter 2: Edelgard's Confessions
Edelgard reveals all her truths to Byleth.
“I can not explicitly forbid you from doing anything,” Hubert chose his words very carefully as he followed Edelgard closely. “But I am strongly advising you not to do this,” the two were heading back from the mess hall, towards their dorms.
“I need to do this,” Edelgard said with determination clear in her voice. “Byleth herself was explicit in the conversation we had. Honesty or nothing.” Hubert shook his head as they hurried up the steps that lead to the second floor dorms.
“This can only end badly,” Hubert informed her. “How do you think she’s going to respond?” Hubert’s question echoed in Edelgard’s mind now as she looked at her girlfriend. She was sitting on Byleth’s desk, heart hammering a mile per minute as Byleth looked at her with questioning eyes.
Now more than ever she had been struggling with how to tell Byleth the truth about everything she had been hiding. Dimitri and Claude’s knowledge of their relationship, her true identity as the Flame Emperor, and her ambitions for reuniting Fódlan and overthrowing the Church.
Edelgard had never been so nervous in her life.
“Just tell me everything,” Byleth repeated causing Edelgard’s throat to tighten. “It’s okay, I promise.” Edelgard tapped the tips of her nails against the desk as she held her lovers gaze, attempting to gather what courage she could to speak.
“The first thing you need to know is that Claude and Dimitri are aware of our relationship,” Byleth physically recoiled as if she had been slapped across the face, her dark blue eyes growing wide at the news. “Let me explain.”
“How do they know?” Byleth’s voice shook as she asked the question.
“Three weeks ago, before our certification exams, when I was helping you grade those papers Claude walked into the room and found me naked underneath the covers.” Byleth’s face began to pale. “That’s why I was missing in the morning and the papers were scattered everywhere, I had to chase him down in order to make sure he said nothing to Rhea or anyone else who could attempt to get between us.”
"That was around midnight, why the fuck was he walking into our room?!" Byleth demanded.
"I didn't ask," Edelgard admitted. "I was so focused on making sure he kept his weaselly mouth shut that the question escaped my mind."
“What about Dimitri?” Byleth demanded as her breathing got heavier and heavier.
“The night in the classroom-”
“Oh, Edelgard are you kidding me?!” Byleth exploded jumping to her feet as her face went completely red. “I told you! I told you we shouldn’t have been having sex in the classroom but you had to insist and now he knows! No wonder he's been calling me a pervert! He’s probably the reason Lady Rhea knows too!”
“Don't yell at me,” Edelgard snapped, giving in to the feeling of defensiveness. “I might have had the idea but I certainly never forced your head between my legs, you went down eagerly so don't act like this is all on me.”
“Secondly, Dimitri didn’t tell anyone-”
“Why because you threatened to behead him,” Byleth shot back a scowl pulling at her face as she continued to pace along the floor.
“Yes,” Edelgard said honestly. “I will say you’re onto something, I’m sure his rage at you and him starting the duel in the mess hall is all tied into his knowledge of our relationship. He thinks you’re taking advantage of me.”
“Oh no, no, no, no, no, what are we going to do?”
“Nothing baby, I’ve already taken care of it,” Edelgard assured Byleth as her shoulders slumped forward.
“Why didn’t you tell me this as soon as it happened?” Byleth demanded as she began to run her slender fingers through her hair, pulling and tugging at it as her breathing grew more and more labored. "I deserved to know, you had no right to hide it from me."
“Byleth you need to calm down,” Edelgard instructed as she slipped off the desk.
“Don't tell me to calm down!” Byleth shouted her eyes bouncing back and forth as her thoughts started to race. “I can’t believe this- they saw us- they caught us!” Edelgard remained quiet as she moved forward and gently cupped Byleth’s face in her hands. She half expected for her lover to swat her away and found herself relieved when Byleth did not and instead leaned into her hands.
“Take in a deep breath, you’re going to work yourself into a panic attack,” Edelgard whispered as she began to press her thumbs against the balls of Byleth’s jaw and slowly rubbed them. “I’ve taken care of it, you know Claude loves you and he won’t say anything, he cherishes your friendship too much. Dimitri is too afraid of me to say anything and if he wasn’t before than what I did to Dedue should be enough for him to understand what will happen to him if he breaks his silence.”
“Is that why you hurt Dedue so badly?” Byleth whispered. Edelgard’s eyes dropped to the older woman’s stomach, watching as it quivered.
“No, I hurt Dedue so badly because I was taking my anger on what Dimitri did to you out on him,” Edelgard answered honestly. “But it works as a message either way, don't you think?” Byleth’s answer was a pained whimper.
“I’m- Edelgard I’m scared that they saw us,” Byleth whispered. “I know we had plans but I wanted to stay here for a few more years at least and teach for a little while longer, I wanted to at least see you guys graduate I- I-” Edelgard gently shushed Byleth as her girlfriend began to ramble, tears welling in her eyes. Edelgard wrapped her arms around Byleth and pulled her into a tight embrace, feeling her heart twist as Byleth nuzzled her face against her neck and began to cry.
“I know you’re upset now baby but think about this logically for a moment,” Edelgard said softly as she began to gently rub the back of Byleth’s neck. “What can Dimitri tell Lady Rhea that she doesn’t already know, didn’t we agree that she sniffed out we were lying? If she knows the truth than whatever she’s planning by keeping this information close to her chest isn’t going to be influenced by Dimitri.”
“And I already told you, I have his silence,” Edelgard promised. “As for you staying here, you have for whatever reason, gained Lady Rhea’s favor. I think for the time being your position is safe, although if we’re being honest I don't like that you have her favor. I don't know how safe that makes you.”
“I know, I know you don't like Lady Rhea,” Byleth sniffled causing Edelgard to squeeze her eyes shut tightly as she prepared herself for her next confession.
“This is so much to throw at her but if I don't say it now, I never will.” Edelgard thought as she tried to push herself away from Byleth’s tight grip. Her heart tore when Byleth pulled her back, not wanting to leave the comfort of Edelgard’s arms.
“Byleth, I still have more to tell you,” Edelgard said as she managed to successfully pull away from her lover. When their eyes met Edelgard had wished she had kept them in their hug, it was hard to look into Byleth’s eyes. They were so filled with fear and sadness that Edelgard wanted nothing more than to hold her tightly again and protect her against anything that might hurt her.
“Someone else knows…?” Byleth’s voice sounded so childlike and innocent in that moment that Edelgard lost her voice and was only able to shake her head.
“That’s not what I need to tell you now,” Edelgard said when she was able to find her voice again.
“It’s about Lady Rhea and the Church,” Edelgard whispered. Byleth brows pulled together in confusion. “I- it’s not easy for me to tell you this and trust me since the moment we’ve met I’ve wanted to tell you, so don't think I enjoyed keeping this secret from you.”
“Oh, Edelgard…” worry tinted Byleth’s watery voice as she searched Edelgard’s eyes, trying to figure out what she was going to say next. “She would never guess it,” Edelgard thought somberly.
“I’m the Flame Emperor.”
Silence. A beat passed, then another. Byleth froze as the full weight of Edelgard’s words hit her. And then she moved, Edelgard jumped out of the way as Byleth doubled over and began to wretch, her dinner spilling all over the floor as she became sick.
“Byleth,” Edelgard said as she knelt down so she was level with her lover. Byleth picked her head up and Edelgard could see the anger and understanding within them as all the pieces began to fall into place for the older woman.
“You kidnapped Flayn.”
“You sent us to fight the Death Knight? Without you, do you know how many times I to-” Byleth cut herself off and squeezed her eyes shut.
“I wasn’t responsible for that,” Edelgard said softly.
“What about what happened in Remire Village?!” Byleth demanded.
“I already told you I wasn’t responsible for that!” Edelgard said. “Just like I didn’t kidnap Flayn or send you to fight the Death Knight, those were the actions of the people I’m associated with. I do not dictate or control what they do. I find them as vile as you-”
“Then how can you work with them?!” Byleth demanded.
“We’re using each other,” Edelgard explained more calmly. “It’s not an arrangement I’m fond of but sacrifices need to be made in order to secure a better future for the whole of Fódlan.” Byleth turned so she was fully facing Edelgard.
“I should have known!” Byleth slapped herself upside the head. “After we fought the Death Knight and you showed me your Flame Crest, you told me your ambitions about building a new world where...gods your siblings...Sylvain’s brother...it all makes sense. You spoke just like him- her- you!” Byleth let out a scream of frustration as she began to slam her hands against her hand as her rambling came to a stop.
“Baby, stop it. Stop.” Edelgard spoke firmly as she crawled into Byleth’s lap and took hold of her wrists.
“I should have known!” Byleth cried, fresh tears slipping down her face. “You told me...you said it to me and I-I-”
“It’s okay,” Edelgard whispered tears now threatening to slip down her own face at Byleth’s reaction. She had been expecting something like this, but that didn’t make it any easier to watch.
“It isn’t...I was so blind…” Byleth shook her head and kept her eyes trained on Edelgard’s lap. Then,
“WILL YOU SHUT UP!” Byleth roared smashing her hands against her head now causing Edelgard to fall over in surprise at her sudden outburst. “Right now is not the time for joking!” She added as she continued to smack and hit herself.
“Byleth stop it,” Edelgard said strictly as she repeated her earlier actions by getting back into Byleth's lap to grab her hands. By now Edelgard was used to Byleth hitting her head and whispering to herself, although it had always been a little concerning this was the first time such an outbreak had occurred.
“She’s not telling me everything either,” Edelgard thought as she restrained Byleth. “That’s not important now.” Edelgard could deal with Byleth’s mental health later, right now they had to process her own secrets before going forward. Edelgard held onto Byleth's wrist for a long time as she waited for the older woman to calm down.
“So what are you planning?” Byleth finally asked when she regained some of her composure. Her question came out as a whimper as she attempted to take everything in.
“To make Fódlan as equal as possible, to reunite it underneath the Adrestian Empire, to dismantle the Church and its power, and to slay Lady Rhea but not before exposing her true form to the world,” Edelgard whispered her heart racing as she spoke. “I never want what happened to my siblings to ever have to happen to anyone else, I want to build a future where everyone can make their own choices and think for themselves, not be lorded over by the Church and the monster who runs it.”
“You’ll have to start a war to do that,” Byleth concluded and when she saw the look in Edelgard’s eyes she turned her head to the side and became sick again. Reaching forward Edelgard gathered up Byleth’s hair and held it back for her as she threw up. The younger woman whispered soft words of comfort as she waited for her Professor to finish. When Byleth turned back she looked far more fearful than before.
“You’re going to start a war?” She whispered.
“I don't want to but the only way to dismantle the current system is through violence and bloodshed,” Edelgard whispered. “The Church will never willingly give up an ounce of their control and The Holy Kingdom of Faerghus and the Leicester Alliance will never be willing to rejoin the empire, and as much as it pains me to admit in its current state the Adrestian Empire can not take on the Church and both the Kingdom and Alliance and hope to be victorious.”
“Is a spineless coward who will do anything to avoid conflict,” Edelgard said knowing already where Byleth was going. She herself had thought of it and quickly came to her conclusion that when the war started Claude wouldn’t join arms with her. Even with Byleth her side.
"But won't starting a war with the Church provoke the Kingdom and the Alliance to attack the Empire?" Byleth asked.
"I have a plan," Edelgard promised. "It's not as black and white as you might think." Byleth groaned, her head pounding terribly as she tried to sort everything out.
“I need some air,” Byleth said softly. “This is so much to take in at once, I just- I just need some time to think.” Edelgard nodded and slide off of Byleth’s lap.
“Do you want me to leave?” Byleth was shaking her head.
“That’s the last thing I want,” Byleth said to Edelgard’s relief. “We still need to talk, I'm still confused but before you explain more I just need to take a walk or something.”
“I’ll be here when you get back,” Edelgard promised as pulled out a handkerchief and began to wipe the vomit off of the corner of Byleth's mouth.
“Thanks,” Byleth pressed a kiss to Edelgard’s cheek before standing. “I, I just don't know what to say or think right now.”
“I understand,” and truly Edelgard did. At this point, the conversation was going far better than she had expected it to. If the positions were reversed and Byleth had dumped all of this on her, Edelgard wasn’t sure herself how she would react or if she would be asking Byleth to stay.
“I’ll be back,” Byleth said as she stepped towards the door. “Promise not to go anywhere.”
“On my life, I’ll be here when you get back,” Edelgard said once more. She watched as relief washed over Byleth’s face at the double promise before the older woman slipped out of the door.
Chapter 3: Into Murky Waters
Claude embarks on a midnight walk to clear his troubled mind.
“Where are you going?” Claude froze at the sound of Bernadetta’s voice. Slowly he picked his head up to see her looking at him. She had caught him hunched over, pulling his pants up as he attempted to quickly get dressed. “Claude?”
All around Bernadetta’s room, candles were slowly burning down to the nub creating a soft glow throughout it. Through the dim light, Claude could see the worry etched out across her face. She had been looking at him like that all week.
“I didn’t mean to wake you up,” Claude said softly as he pushed a small smile across his face. “I was hoping to make my great escape without disturbing you, my apologies.” He had been attempting humor but Bernadetta’s frown only deepened.
“Where are you going?” Bernadetta asked again as she pushed herself up until she was sitting, the covers around her falling to relieve her nightgown. “It has to be around midnight, what could you be up to at this hour?”
“I’m always up to something,” Claude chuckled, this time his laughter was genuine as he pulled his pants over his hips. “No matter what time day or night, your boy toy Claude always has some kind of scheme or plot up his sleeve.” Again, Bernadetta didn’t smile much to Claude’s disappointment. He hated when he made her upset.
“Claude.” Her voice came out as a whisper but still, her tone was firm. Claude had come to know this as her ‘last chance’ tone. This was his last chance to be serious with her before she got fed up and annoyed.
“Right, why am I getting up in the middle of the night and trying to wiggle my way out of your room?” Claude asked with another soft smile. “Don't worry, I have every intention of coming back I just can’t sleep right now.” He said honestly. He was relieved to see Bernadetta relax just a little.
“You haven’t been able to sleep all week,” Bernadetta pointed out as she adjusted herself on her bed and crossed her legs over each other. “You haven’t been yourself all week either, not since the duel in the mess hall.”
“Oh, that might be a bit of a stretch,” Claude teased. “I haven’t been acting too differently.” Claude knew he wasn’t being truthful but the look on Bernadetta’s face was causing unease within him. He just wanted to make her smile once before he left, unfortunately, he was going about it the wrong way as Bernadetta’s frown returned.
“Claude, can you be serious for a little bit?” Bernadetta’s asked causing Claude’s bright smile to drop. “All week you’ve been distant. No matter what we do, where we go, you’re a thousand miles away.”
“Claude you were inside me tonight and still I felt as if you were somewhere else,” Bernadetta snapped her patience finally wearing out. “What in the world has been going on with you? Open up to me for once and let me help.” Sighing Claude trudged his way back over to her bed and plopped himself down on the edge of it.
“You know I don't like bothering you with these kinds of things,” which for Claude was only partly true. “I’m clearly your hero, I don't want to cruelly rip the image you have of me away.” He said dramatically and though he was attempting to extract some kind of good feeling from his girlfriend with his theatrics, that was a full truth.
Bernadetta rolled her eyes.
“Get on with it you goof,” she scolded before giving his side a sharp poke, causing him to jump in the air.
“Alright, geez.” Claude turned his head away from her. “I guess, the duel last week was a lot. Seeing Professor Byleth in that state shook me to the core, I haven’t been able to get the image of her on the ground out of my head. Or the image of Dimitri going ballistic out either, not to mention what Edelgard did to Dedue…” Claude trailed off as he gave her another half truth.
“And I can’t get myself from under this soul crushing guilt,” he thought as he dropped his eyes to his hands. This was the part he couldn’t tell Bernadetta, how deep his involvement in the fight had gone.
Last Sunday he had carelessly spread and breathed life into rumors he knew to be false in order to create a rift between Byleth and Edelgard. Then he went to Dimitri and told him the rumor of Byleth and Rhea’s alleged affair. He had hoped it would make Dimitri do something foolish in order to put another nail in the coffin he was trying to build. Dimitri had done something foolish alright, but it wasn’t what Claude had been expecting.
As a result, Byleth had almost lost her life. Claude couldn’t sleep, could barely eat, and all he kept seeing when he closed his eyes was the torrent of blood spilling from Byleth’s head from the devastating blow Dimitri had given her.
Byleth was fine now but that didn’t change how Claude felt. And as much as he wished he could share these feelings with Bernadetta he held his tongue. Though the relationship between Byleth and Edelgard was supposed to be a secret, he had learned from all the time he had spent with The Black Eagles that they were all privy to it, so he knew that Bernie knew. However, The Black Eagles seemed to have a silent agreement, none of them spoke openly about the relationship between the Professor and the head of their house.
What’s more, Claude himself wasn’t supposed to know about the relationship. He had found out by mistake and for it, Edelgard had threatened his life. After what she did to Dedue, he had no doubt she would make good on her threat should he ever admit to the knowledge of their relationship to anyone.
“Claude, I know it must have been hard to have seen Professor like that,” Bernadetta said softly pulling him from his thoughts. “And trust me I know better than anyone just how scary Edelgard is but you have to remember Professor Byleth is okay now. All healed up and walking around like business as usual, don't torture yourself with what has happened and what could have been.”
Claude smiled softly and turned to look back at her.
“You’re pretty smart you know that?” He asked. “How did I ever get so lucky to have someone like you in my life?” And then success. Bernadetta smiled as a soft blush began to color her cheeks.
“Professor Byleth, actually.” Bernadetta reminded him. “But that’s not important.”
“Not right now at least,” Claude sighed as Bernadetta wrapped her arms around him and rested her head between his shoulders.
“You know Claude, you are my hero in so many ways.” Claude’s eyes widen a little as he glanced over his shoulder to look at her. “I don't care how much you plot and scheme, no matter what anyone says your a good guy and friend.”
“And where does this sudden praise come from?” Claude stammered as his stomach tied into knots. Bernadetta shrugged and placed a soft kiss on his left shoulder.
“Just thought it was good to remind you every once in a while,” Claude forced another smile onto his lips as he turned his head away from her. The last reason he refused to tell Bernadetta the truth.
“How will she look at me when she knows what kind of person I really am?”
Once Bernadetta went back to sleep, Claude slipped out of her grip and this time was able to escape without waking her up. As he walked outside, he took in a deep breath and found his shoulders sagging as he took in the cool midnight air.
He slowly made his way towards the pond that sat right outside the mess hall. Whenever he needed to clear his mind that’s where he headed. He was only mildly surprised to see another figure standing at the edge of the dock when he arrived. Byleth’s figure was illuminated underneath the moonlight. Her back was turned towards him and he watched as Byleth skipped a stone along the water. Shifting from one foot to another he contemplated if he should approach his friend or not.
This afternoon was the first time he had seen her since the duel. He had been attempting to stay away from her while he thought of a way to properly apologize to her. It wasn’t that Claude didn’t know what he wanted to say. The words had been on the tip of his tongue all week, it was all about how he was going to say it.
How could he possibly explain his actions if he wasn’t supposed to disclose the fact that he knew about her relationship? “Something about lying in my apology just doesn’t feel right,” Claude thought with a small smile.
“I came out here for some fresh air,” Claude froze at the sound of Byleth’s voice. It was tinged with irritation and tiredness. “I would like to be left alone.”
“I didn’t come sniffing around for you so don't feel too good about yourself,” Claude teased her gently and he watched as the situation reversed and Byleth froze at the sound of his voice. He supposed she wasn’t expecting for it to be him. “I only came out here to get some fresh air as well.”
“I see, well this spot is taken by me so go and find fresh air from somewhere else,” Byleth grunted before skipping another stone. Claude was taken aback by her curt tone.
“There’s enough fresh air to go around,” Claude said stretching his arms out wide. Apart of him was tempted to retreat, he wasn’t sure if he was fully prepared to have an actual conversation with Byleth just yet but a larger part of him kept his feet planted in their spot. Something was clearly bothering her and he was curious to see what that was.
“I want to be left alone,” Byleth informed him as she skipped another rock.
“Then I’ll leave you alone,” he lied as he slowly approached her. “We don't have to talk.” He added when she turned to pin him down with an annoyed look. Reaching down he picked up one of the stones she had collected at her feet and skipped it along the pond.
“That was my stone,” she pointed out with a frown as it disappeared across the water.
“No talking remember,” Claude whispered as he tapped the side of his pointer finger against his lips. Byleth scowled but remained quiet as she picked up another stone and skipped it. They said nothing for quite some time and the more that time passed the tenser the feeling between them got.
“You know at first I thought you were just upset,” Claude began as he picked up the last stone. “But now I’m getting the feeling that you’re specifically mad at me about something.” Claude knew that Byleth didn’t know how involved in the duel he was. No one did but perhaps she had gotten wind of him telling Dimitri about the rumor.
“Well spotted,” Byleth snapped watching as Claude attempted to skip the stone in his hand. It made it two hops across the water before sinking to the bottom of the pond. He turned to look at her to see a look of anger in her dark blue eyes.
“I would just like to preface this potential argument with this.” Claude began as he raised his index finger. “One: I had no idea that me telling Dimitri that you and Rhea were dating would cause him to blow his top. Two: I’m sorry, if I knew I would have never told him. Three: I have been avoiding you all week because I’ve felt so guilty about what I did, I need you to know I took no joy in what happened last Sunday.”
“What,” Byleth’s eyes went wide as she listened to his words, her anger slowly building as she fully realized what he was saying. “You told Dimitri that I was dating Rhea, why in the world would you do something like that?”
Claude began to rapidly blink at Byleth’s question.
“Wait, you didn’t know about that?”
“No,” Byleth barked.
“Oh. So then why are you mad at me then?” He asked with a frown. His mind was racing a thousand miles per minute as he attempted to find a way to pull himself out of the hole he had just jumped in.
“I should have stayed with Bernie, I knew I wasn’t ready for this conversation.” He thought with a grimace.
“Why would you lie to Dimitri and tell him something like that?” Byleth demanded taking a very threatening step forward. Claude inched back, snapping his eyes behind him for half a second to make sure he didn’t fall into the murky water of the pond.
“At the time I didn’t know it was a lie,” Claude lied. “It sounded like an exciting thing you and the Archbishop and well...it kind of made sense because you and Archbishop Rhea spend so much time together and you seem to really only have very nice things to say about her.” Byleth’s scowl deepened as he rambled.
“How unlike you to start making up a lie on the spot,” Byleth spat out causing Claude to recoil in shock. She never spoke to him like this, to anyone like this really. “I would have thought you would have an excuse already planned out before you lied to Dimitri.” Little did Byleth know this was the exact excuse Claude had come up with before lying to Dimitri. He just wasn't fully prepared at the moment.
Claude shifted as he stared into Byleth’s eyes. Almost immediately he found what he was looking for.
“You know,” he said quietly. “She told you.”
“You didn’t,” Byleth hissed. Claude immediately found himself going on the defensive.
“She made it clear that I wasn’t to tell anyone!” Claude snapped. “Edelgard threatened me, she stalked me, she ran faster than the speed of light to get her hands on me. After what I saw her do to Dedue last week I’m beginning to think I might have escaped with my life that night.”
“That isn’t an exaggeration,” Byleth said, shocking Claude with her agreeance. “But I would have protected you if you came to me at an appropriate time, you want to explain what the hell were you doing walking into my room that late at night?”
“No offense my friend but I don't think you have the handle on Edelgard that you think you do,” Claude said softly. Byleth snorted and crossed her arms over her chest. “And I was there because I found something on the Immaculate One, or at least I thought I had. And you told me to come to you as soon as I did!”
“I didn’t know I had to put the disclaimer not to waltz into my room at the stroke of midnight, kind of figured that might have been implied!” Byleth shouted. “And despite what you think what I say matters to Edelgard. If I tell her not to touch you she won’t, why do you think Dimitri’s head isn’t currently hanging on the doors of my classroom right now?”
Claude was quiet for a moment as he tried to think of a witty rebuttal.
“You got me there,” he muttered when none came to him. “I was wondering why he was still walking around.”
“You should have just come to me,” Byleth’s voice dropped as it filled with disappointment.
“I’ll apologize for entering your room without permission so late at night but I’ll be damned if I’ll apologize for not crossing The Imperial Princess,” Claude said with a sigh. “I had to think of my safety and I know once you calm down you’ll understand that. But listen, that’s in the past now anyway and I’m not sure we should harp on it. Let’s just call a spade a spade and start fresh,” he said smiling as brightly as he could manage as he stuck his hand out for her to shake.
“Oh no, no, no, no,” Byleth said with a shake of her head as she swatted his hand away. “I very much would like to keep harping on the past. Why did you lie to Dimitri?” Claude felt his stomach begin to twist with fear as he dropped his arm to his side. Taking in a deep breath he began to speak the words he had been preparing all week.
“The truth is, I was attempting to break you and Edelgard up- but before you punch me let me explain!” In a preemptive move, Claude hopped to the side to avoid any sudden act of violence his confession might provoke from his friend. He was stunned to see Byleth stayed frozen in her spot. Claude waited for her to move, when she did instead of advancing on him she tilted her head back and began to scream up towards the night sky.
“I swear to the goddess if I have to hear the phrase ‘let me explain’ one more time tonight I’m going to lose my mind,” she shouted with her head still pointed up towards the sky. Claude’s interest piqued and he made a note of that statement for later.
“Don't call me that,” Byleth hollered finally wheeling around to face him. Four words had never hurt Claude so much. “I don't care what you have to say, how dare you. How dare you! There is no explanation or excuse that I could ever accept from you, my relationship is not for you to meddle in.” Claude winced at her words and felt his face begin to heat up and his eyes begin to sting.
“I don't care what you say,” Claude shot back. “No matter what you’re my friend and I need to look out for you. Edelgard isn’t the right person for you she’s violent, possessive, and controlling.”
“I don't care what you think of her Claude, that isn’t your decision to make!” Byleth snarled as she advanced on him. “You both need to realize that I’m an adult and you can’t go around making choices for me!” Claude had no answer as he backed away from her, still making notes of what she was saying.
“Not only that but look at what your actions caused!” She roared. “Dimitri almost lost his life I could have split his head open, Edelgard was ready to kill him! And look what happened to Dedue!”
“I’m sorry!” Claude shouted back. “I know what I did was wrong but I don't think it’s fair to blame me for how far each individual went in that duel!”
“My words did cause Dimitri to go crazy and yes you had to defend yourself but Edelgard was in her right state of mind! She didn’t have to brutalized Dedue in the way she did, you can't blame me for that!” He continued before Byleth could say anything.
“If you had kept your fat mouth shut that duel would have never happened,” Byleth’s words felt like daggers in his chest. “You better than anyone know that actions have consequences.”
“And these are yours, keep out of my sight,” she warned. “Edelgard was right about you,” she added before spinning around and storming off. Claude stood at the edge of the dock, stunned at the confrontation and Byleth's departing blows. He had been expecting her to be angry and to lash out but he still wasn’t prepared for the full brunt of it.
“Didn’t you learn from the last time?” Edelgard asked as Claude walked into Byleth’s bedroom without knocking first. He frowned at the sight of her, sitting in the middle of his friend’s bed as if she owned it. His eyes immediately scanned the small room but saw no sign of Byleth. Only puddles of vomit and a very annoyed looking Edelgard.
“She went out to get some air,” Edelgard said. “What do you think you’re doing?” She asked as Claude walked into the room and shut the door behind him.
“I need to talk to her,” he said stubbornly as he went to sit at her desk. He kept his eyes peeled on Edelgard as he moved across the room. He didn’t like the idea of being alone with her but his fear of losing Byleth’s friendship outweighed his fear of Edelgard.
“The conversation Byleth and I are going to have is far more important than whatever it is you need to say to her,” Edelgard explained causing Claude to frown.
“What in the world was Byleth needing to get some air from before I found her?” Claude thought.
“Why do you want to cause a wedge between Byleth and all of her friends?” Claude demanded causing Edelgard to, oddly enough, chuckle.
“I’m not trying to cause a wedge between Byleth or any of her friends. If I was you, Alois and the Gatekeeper would make fewer appearances in my life,” Edelgard sighed. Claude scowled but said nothing. “Leave.”
“No.” Edelgard matched his scowl and opened her mouth to say something when a pounding came at Byleth’s door. They both immediately turned and watched as it began to shake on its hinges.
“Shit,” Claude whispered under his breath. He glanced at Edelgard to see what the best course of action was. No matter what way one might look at it, them both being here at this hour would, at best , be suspicious to anyone with half a brain cell.
“Let’s just ignore it,” Edelgard whispered. Claude nodded but not a second later the door swung open and Dimitri walked across the threshold.
“Looks like the gangs all here,” Claude said weakly at the sight of the prince.
“What is with you two?!” Edelgard demanded as he walked into the room and shut the door behind him. “You just enter a room whenever you please?”
“Where is Professor Byleth?” Dimitri demanded. Claude and Edelgard shared another look at his question. Slowly they both began to stand up. “I need to speak with her urgently.” He added as he looked back and forth between the two.
“You have some nerve,” Edelgard said returning to her senses. Claude felt his heart begin to pound at the tone of her voice.
“Do not speak to me of nerve Edelgard von Hresvelg,” Dimitri hissed matching her tone. “I would speak to that disgrace of a teacher and I would speak to her now!”
“My teacher is the only reason you're currently walking the face of this earth!” Edelgard said her eyes going wide with anger.
“More importantly, what do you think, we’ve hidden her under the bed or something?” Claude asked. “She’s not here, maybe it’s for the best that you weren’t here either. It might expand your life expectancy.”
Dimitri made no acknowledgment of Claude’s last comment, though for Byleth’s absence he merely nodded. Awkwardly he began to shift in his spot as he lost the initial fire he had coming in.
“Then, if it’s all the same, I shall wait here for her.”
Chapter 4: These Wrongs
Dimitri seeks out to do what he believes Archbishop Rhea cannot.
Sorry for the late upload! I hope you guys enjoy the new chapter.
“Slaps on the wrist, can you believe this!” Dimitri demanded as he paced around Manuela’s Infirmary. His heart was slamming against his chest and he was beginning to shake with rage at the news Leonie had just delivered him. “Stamping and sealing envelopes! Weeding out the Archbishop's garden! I can not believe this,” he huffed anger swelling within him as he wore out the infirmary’s floor.
“I’m confused, what happened?” Dedue asked with a grimace as he turned his head in the direction of Dimitri’s voice. He had been sleeping peacefully when the sound of it had woke him.
“The Professor and her two most beloved bootlickers have been given their punishments today as well,” Dimitri seethed.
“As well...does that mean we’ve been given a punishment today to?” Dimitri growled like a feral beast as he nodded his head. Though, Dedue could not see the action he picked up from the noises his friend was making that his question had been answered.
Dimitri began to speak again and Dedue tried to pay attention but it was hard. Really hard. It had been a full week since Dedue had been admitted to the Infirmary but still his healing was slow going, even with Manuela’s magic. The swelling of his head had gone down immensely yet his eyes were still swollen shut and his lips were puffed up and expanded painfully, as if he had gotten attacked by a swarm of bees.
His rib was no longer cracked but still bruised terribly making breathing slightly less but still very painful, so much so that he had to take small shallow breaths to attempt to alleviate some of his pain. The only thing fully healed was his nose but it now sat crooked on his face. Manuela had promised that within the next week all of his wounds would be fully healed and Dedue wished he could turn the hands of time forward and finally be released from this bed and the pain he was in.
“This morning Lady Rhea handed down our punishment to Leonie and I,” Dimitri said pulling Dedue from his thoughts. “We are barred from next month's mission, we are no longer allowed to train within the Knights Hall for the time being, we no longer have free days, and we are to clean the stables every day from now until graduation. She’s made it clear that it would be remiss to argue these punishments or forego them.”
“If we miss a day of stable duty, train within the Knights Hall, do anything other than the tasks Seteth gives us on Sundays, or attempt to attend next month’s mission we shall be expelled and sent away from the monastery, can you believe this?!” He shouted his voice echoing against the walls of the infirmary. Dedue attempted to frown but with his swollen lips it came off more like a grimace. He was quiet for sometime as he took in what Dimitri said.
“I can believe it,” he finally said softly.
“What?” Dimitri demanded as he spun around to look at Dedue.
“I said I can believe it,” he repeated this time a bit more loudly. “I know you believe your actions last Sunday to be justified and if they were or were not is quite irrelevant, you provoked the situation and attacked the Professor with the intent to do serious damage. It seems like we’ve all escaped with slaps on the wrist, I know that’s not what you want to hear.” He added at the end as Dimitri went silent.
Dedue’s heart began to race a little as Dimitri remained quiet. He feared his truth had upset his friend but he couldn’t say his words were regrettable. Dedue’s ears twitched at the sound of Dimitri moving closer to him. He heard the prince sigh as he dropped down into the chair by Dedue’s cot.
Dedue felt himself relax as Dimitri reached forward and threaded their fingers together, squeezing his hand tightly.
“I see what you’re saying,” Dimitri muttered softly. “I wish I was able to but I couldn’t make Lady Rhea see reason. I tried but she would not allow me to speak what she believed to be an excuse, though as you say my reasoning doesn’t matter does it?” Dedue shook his head as best as he could.
“Claude was right, wasn’t he?” Dimitri asked softly.
“Most likely not,” Dedue said seriously. “I’m not sure what you’re speaking of but Claude The Schemer is hardly ever right.” Dimitri chuckled and squeezed Dedue’s hand once more.
“When he said that Professor Byleth and Archbishop Rhea are in a relationship,” Dimitri said in order to rejog Dedue’s memory. “All week everyone’s been saying it’s just a rumor and for a few spare moments I felt guilty for reacting in such a way on something that might have been false, but it wasn’t a rumor was it?”
“I’m not sure.”
“I am,” Dimitri said darkly. “Lady Rhea clearly has a bias towards Professor that isn’t natural, I believe she has gotten caught in the Professor’s web as well.”
“As well?” Dimitri simply nodded, not that Dedue could see.
“That conversation with Claude was just the straw that broke the camel's back,” Dimitri said cryptically. “After this morning and after what Leonie just told me I’ve come to a conclusion I’ve feared for some time, Lady Rhea will never seriously punish Professor Byleth which means she’s free to do as she pleased with whomever, whenever. She basically has run of this monastery.”
“Hold Dedue and allow me to finish,” Dimitri said firmly as he squeezed his friend's hand again. “With the only person truly able to bring punishment on the Professor wrapped around her finger then Professor Byleth will continue to take advantage of people.”
“I sense something dramatic is about to fall from your lips,” Dedue sighed.
“Not dramatic but necessary!” Dimitri snapped, pulling his hand free from Dedue’s as he pushed himself to his feet.
“Those two things are not mutually exclusive,” Dedue said quietly but Dimitri was working himself up again, no longer fully hearing his bedridden friend.
“I will not let this kind of lewd behavior stand!” He barked as he began to pace again. “If Lady Rhea is content to sit by and let this disgustingness go on then so be it but I shall not be so idle.” Dedue sighed.
“Prince Dimitri you must think clearly before doing something rash,” he said, feeling exhaustion seep into his bones.
“This isn’t rash, I’ve been thinking this over for sometime now,” he promised. Reaching up, he ran the tips of his fingers over the deep scar that now marred his chin. “She won our last fight by a hair's breadth, we might not be permitted into the Knight’s Hall but certainly we are still allowed to train!”
“I will not stop until I’m able to best the Professor and take her head from her shoulders!” Dimitri hollered. “I will right these wrongs, I will declare war upon Professor Byleth and bring justice over her head.”
“It won’t be so easy,” Dedue began.
“Listen to me,” Dedue said firmly. “Have you not learned anything from last Sunday? Edelgard has made herself clear that they do not fight fair, Claude The Schemer...must I go on? The rest of The Black Eagles class...you aren’t just declaring war on one person.” Dimitri placed his hand on his sword.
“I’ll cut a bloody path through them all,” Dimitri promised.
Dimitri left the infirmary later that night. Dedue had fallen asleep a few moments prior and Dimitri was heading towards the training yard to practice his newest combat art. He was walking past Jeralt’s office when he heard a series of small gasps from inside. Freezing for a moment he turned towards the door, his interest piqued. He gently rapped his knuckles against the door before speaking.
“Hello, is everything alright in there?” He heard another gasp and some rustling around. Frowning he twisted the door knob and carefully opened the office door. The office was dark save for the small light of a single candle that seemed to float in the air. Dimitri squinted his eyes and was able to make out a figure standing in the middle of the room but only saw the rough outline of another person.
“Dimitri?” He immediately recognized the voice as Leonie’s. He heard a soft thud before the light of the candle began to move forward.
“Before you ask I came here hoping to speak with Captain Jeralt, hoping to speak with him about everything that’s been going on.” Dimitri frowned and grabbed his chin, thinking over what Leonie was saying.
“I’m getting the feeling you didn’t reach your goal,” Leonie shook her head and stepped into the dim light of the hallway. Dimitri’s eyes went wide as he took in the full look of her face. All the blood had drained out of it and she looked as if she had just seen a ghost.
“I did something I shouldn’t have,” Leonie’s voice dropped into a hushed whisper. Dimitri felt his heart began to speed up as he took a step forward. “I went into Captain Jeralt’s office without his permission and found what turned out to be his journal and I….”
“You read his journal,” Dimitri asked with wide eyes. “Leonie that is a horrid breach of privacy!” Leonie winced and nodded quickly.
“I know! I know!” She said. “Trust me I feel horrible about it but...well I couldn’t help myself. I was leafing through the pages and...I…” she trailed off again causing a great deal of worry to spread through him.
“I found out somethings about Professor Byleth,” Dimitri’s eyebrows shot up to his hairline. “That woman...that thing isn’t natural…Lady Rhea she....she did something to the Professor,” Dimitri’s frown deepened.
“When she was just a baby!” Leonie said leaning forward. “Jeralt’s journal said that-” Leonie was quickly cut off by heavy footsteps heading their way. Reaching forward Dimitri grabbed Leonie’s wrist and quickly pulled her back in the direction of the infirmary, they slipped back into the clinic to hide.
The two held their breath for a few months before they heard a door shut. Building up the courage they both peeked their heads out of the doorway and saw the hallway was now empty. Dimitri motioned for Leonie to follow and as they tiptoed back down to where they had been standing before they saw Jeralt’s office door was now shut.
Dimitri lead Leonie back down the hallway and past the Archbishops Chambers. They took the stairs to the Reception Hall two at and time and neither of them breathed easy again until they were outside.
“Leonie tell me-”
“I’ve said enough,” Leonie cut him off before he could finish. She didn’t sound annoyed or angry but utterly exhausted. Dimitri watched with a frown as a shiver ran through her. “I’m going to bed now, I’ll see you around.”
“Leonie wait!” He reached his hand out for her but she dashed out in the direction of the dorms. Determined not to let her go Dimitri hurried after her but came to an immediate stop in front of Professor Byleth’s door. His eyes snapped over to Leonie who was getting further and further away and Dimitri made a rash decision.
Turning around quickly he took a few steps towards Byleth’s door and knocked on it hard enough to cause it to shake on its hinges. He pounded on the door a few more times, with no answer before his hot head got the best of him. Reaching forward he turned the doorknob and quickly invited himself into the Professor’s room.
The first thing that hit him was a foul scent.
“Looks like the gangs all here,” Dimitri’s eyes snapped forward at the sound of Claude’s less than enthused voice. He saw his fellow house leader sitting at the Professor’s desk.
“What is with you two?!” Dimitri turned his head to see Edelgard sitting in the middle of Byleth’s bed. He felt his anger intensify at the sight of her there. “You just enter a room whenever you please?” Dimitri had no time for pleasantries. His conversation with Leonie and Dedue began to bleed together and he now only cared about one thing.
“Where is Professor Byleth?” Dimitri demanded in a low voice. He watched as Claude and Edelgard exchange a look before they slowly got to their feet. Dimitri immediately dropped his hand to the butt of his sword, preparing for any fight they might bring his way. “I need to speak with her urgently,” he added when neither of them said anything.
“You have some nerve,” Edelgard said in the same low tone he had adopted. Dimitri felt his right eye twitch and he tightened his hand around his sword until his knuckles turned white. “She dares says something like this to me? After I walk in to find her on that defilers bed?” Dimitri thought with wide eyes.
“Do not speak to me of nerve Edelgard von Hresvelg,” he spat back with disgust. “I would speak to that disgrace of a teacher and I would speak to her now!” Edelgard’s eyes narrowed and she began to tense.
“ My teacher is the only reason you're currently walking the face of this earth!” Edelgard said her eyes going wide with anger. The words took Dimitri back and he leaned forward ever so slightly as he held Edelgard’s glare.
“More importantly, what do you think, we’ve hidden her under the bed or something?” Claude asked drawing Dimitri’s attention away from Edelgard for a second. “She’s not here, maybe it’s for the best that you weren’t here either. It might expand your life expectancy.” Dimitri ignored his first comment as he still digested what Edelgard had just said. Shifting from one foot to another he nodded slowly.
“Then, if it’s all the same, I shall wait here for her.”
“No you shall not,” Edelgard hissed before slowly stalking forward. Dimitri instinctively took a step back. “She looks like a lioness ready to jump on her prey,” he thought as a bead of sweat slowly ran down the side of his face. “Both of you need to leave, now. ”
“No,” both Dimitri and Claude said. The boys exchanged a tense look before turning back towards Edelgard.
“I have to speak with Byleth,” Claude sounded as if he was pleading with Edelgard.
“As do I."
“You both think you get to parade into Byleth’s room in the middle of the night and just demand to have an audience with her,” Edelgard snarled. “Byleth and I were having a conversation and even if we weren't you two aren’t entitled to converse with her whenever you please just because you deem it important.”
“Get off the high horse Edelgard,” Claude snapped causing Dimitri to frown. “This is more than just having a conversation about the weather!”
“It doesn’t matter what the conversation is about!” Edelgard shot back. Dimitri stayed quiet as he pressed his back against the door content to let them fight it out as he watched on. “You have no respect for boundaries!”
“I can’t believe I’m getting a boundaries talk from you,” Claude barked back. Edelgard went quiet and a deadly look crossed her face. Dimitri’s eyes snapped over to Claude whose face resembled Leonie’s not too long ago.
“Bold,” Edelgard said. Dimitri watched as Claude’s face morphed and the fear quick washed away and in its place was something like determination.
“Listen we have the rest of the year to have this fight during our weeding duty,” he said softly before sticking his thumb out towards Dimitri who suddenly froze. “Instead of ripping each other's throats out right now let's turn our attention back to our common enemy, our fellow house leader.” Dimitri felt true fear go through him as Edelgard quickly nodded. They both turned back to him and Dimitri tried to step back only to find he had nowhere else to go.
they do not fight fair... Dedue’s words from earlier echoed through his head.
Dimitri jumped when the door suddenly bumped into him. He quickly scrambled to the side and it swung open to reveal Byleth standing there. His eyes went wide as he took the woman in.
Her hair was messy and her eyes were red from crying. She looked lost as her eyes bounced from one house leader to the next. Edelgard let out a worried sound as she took a step forward. Byleth spoke before her lover could.
“I see the gangs all here…” she said with a tinge of sadness in her voice.
“Oh, sorry teach I already said that joke,” Claude sounded subdued as he spoke. Byleth sniffed as she turned her attention over to him.
“What are you doing here Claude?” she demanded with a sad sigh.
“Stealing your jokes apparently,” Claude said with a weak smile. “Teach I-”
“I told you at the pier, I don't want to see you,” As Byleth spoke she clutched onto something she was holding in her hands. Dimitri's eyes traveled down to see she was holding a thick leather bound journal.
“...could that be?! Were her footsteps the ones we heard in the hallway?” Dimitri wasn’t sure, he hadn’t seen Jeralt’s journal but he had a feeling deep in his stomach, that was it. He was tempted to reach forward and snatch it out of her hands not longer worried about privacy, he needed to know what Leonie had read to make her react in such a way. He was beginning to regret not following her instead.
“The pier?” Edelgard asked with a frown. “You saw each other tonight?”
“Yes,” Byleth said hanging her head low. “We had a disturbing conversation.” Edelgard wheeled around towards Claude, their short lived truce quickly breaking apart. Byleth’s attention, however, was now on Dimitri as she turned towards him.
“I’m surprised to see you here,” Dimitri frowned but had nothing to say. While in the clinic with Dedue he had many things planned out to say to the Professor but now that they were face to face all those words eluded him. He was expecting nothing but pure, unfettered rage upon seeing her again and though he felt anger he also felt the unexpected feeling of confusion. Edelgard’s words stuck in his mind as he stared at the Professor.
“Is it true you asked Edelgard to spare my life?” He blurted out. Byleth seemed to be taken by surprise by his question. “Even though last week I attempted to take yours?” Edelgard stepped forward but Byleth put her hand up to motion for her to stop.
“You’re still my student,” Byleth said softly. A moment between them passed before Dimitri began to slowly shake his head.
“You may have the others fooled but not me,” he hissed. “You shall not ensnare me in your web!” Byleth looked confused but none of them had a moment to truly react. There was another knock at the door and once again it swung open.
“Byleth...what in the world is going on here?” Jeralt asked with confusion.
“You should really invest in a lock,” Edelgard sighed. Jeralt frowned but made no comment.
“I don't know what's going on here but I just got word from the guards there’s been sighting of Demonic Beasts at the abandoned chapel and we need to move now, gather your students and meet me at the front gates,” he said before heading off in that direction.
“Edelgard we need to go,” Byleth said her mindset shifting. “You both leave for now.” She added as she motioned for Dimitri and Claude to get out. They both wanted to argue but knew despite their own feelings now wasn’t the time. Silently both boys quickly head out and back towards their own dorms. Byleth quickly slipped Jeralt’s journal into the top drawer her desk before moving to pull out her armor and weapons.
“Wake everyone else and make sure they prepare themselves,” Edelgard nodded and moved to give Byleth a soft kiss on the cheek.
“We’ll talk later?” Byleth nodded silently.
“Now go,” Edelgard nodded and quickly left to gather the others.
Chapter 5: Mortal Fool
As the group makes their way to the abandon chapel, Sothis and Byleth have a conversation regarding the Imperial Princess of the Adrestian Empire.
Dawn was slowly beginning to break over the horizon as the Knights of Serios and The Black Eagles class began to depart from Garreg Mach. Jeralt, Alois and the small unit of knights lead the way on their mounts. Sylvain rode with the unit and above them Ingrid flew on her Pegasus.
Byleth lead the rest of the group traveling on foot. She was sandwiched between Edelgard and Hubert both of whom seemed lost in thought. Above the trio, Twig soared through the early morning sky letting out happy squawks as he enjoyed the feeling of freedom. For the most part he stayed above their heads but every once it a while he would pull out a little further than the three. When he got too far ahead he would circle back around until his shadow was covering them once more.
“Are you well enough to ride your little dragon?” Sothis asked. “You’re exhausted I can tell, you probably should have sat this battle out.” Byleth’s only response was a put out grunt, she was too tired to properly retort. At the sound of this, Edelgard was pulled out of her own thoughts from last night.
“Is everything alright my teacher?” She asked softly as she glanced up at Byleth. The older woman flared her nostrils as she took in Edelgard’s question. She wasn’t quite sure what the proper response was so she bit her tongue for a moment before giving Edelgard the kindness one she could muster.
“I’m just tired,” Byleth responded softly. “So much happened last night and I wish I had enough sense to come back to the room and sleep instead of wander around after my argument with Claude.” Hubert lifted his eyebrows at this and glanced down at Byleth as he quietly listened to her speak.
“You had an argument with that fool...my poor teacher, last night must have been incredibly taxing for you.” Edelgard said softly, her voice laden with guilt. Byleth smiled softly as her eyes connected with Edelgard’s.
“To say the least, our conversation might have to hold when we get back to the monastery,” Byleth said quietly. “I need rest, especially if we’re about to face demonic beast. I have a feeling I’m going to spend what’s left of my energy on the fight ahead.” Edelgard frowned as she brushed the side of her hand against Byleth’s.
“You shouldn’t have come,” Edelgard said echoing Sothis’s words.
“Edelgard, I can’t send my class into a battle well I nap.” Byleth said firmly. Her voice became gentler at the look of concern that crossed her girlfriends face. “Don't worry, I’ll be fine trust me I’ve fought well I was in worse conditions.”
“If you insisted,” Edelgard sighed. “But I’ll be by your side the entire time.”
“When do I ever position you differently?” Byleth asked causing the smaller woman to blush.
“Oh I see we’re doing this now,” Sothis’s voice dripped with judgement.
“Doing what?” Byleth asked.
“Hm?” Edelgard lifted her eyebrows at the question. “What do you mean?” Byleth blushed realizing that she had answered Sothis’s question out loud.
“Nothing, I thought I heard you say something,” Byleth stuttered. Edelgard smiled and nodded but Byleth could see there was a glint of doubt in her eyes.
“You’re true love confirmed to you last night that she was the Flame Emperor, intends to wage war on the Church, and has been lying straight to your face since the day you met.” Sothis went on once that awkward exchanged past. “But somehow your just going along like everything is fine and normal.”
“And how would you like me to be?” Byleth shot back. “I shouldn't have asked that question, I already know you want me to angry but I’m not. I’m confused, I’m scared and I want answers. Not fighting. Especially not during a mission.”
“You’re a fool.” Byleth could imagine Sothis rolling her eyes.
“To bad you’re stuck in my head,” Byleth responded. “Maybe I’m having a delayed reaction...maybe...I don't fully understand how I feel yet either but it isn’t exactly like I had much time to process my feelings last night anyhow.”
“You seemed to have processed your feelings about Claude’s betrayal just fine,” Sothis pointed out. “Why do you deem his lying worse than hers? When Claude spread those rumors he did so with the intention of breaking you and the princess up, foul but not harmful. The duel was an unintended effect of what he did.”
“Edelgard on the other hand has been actively working in the shadows with people who cause such atrocious as what happened in Remire Village, she might not have given the order but she’s guilty by association with those who did.” Sothis went on to say. “Why do you not see this as a betrayal of trust?”
“I never said I didn’t-”
“Don't lie to me!” Sothis shot back. “I don't just live in your head Byleth. I can sense what you feel! You aren’t angry because you don't feel betrayed. Tell me why, take your feelings of love out of it and think-”
“I can’t take my feelings of love out of it,” Byleth’s her eyes automatically drifted back down to Edelgard. “But it’s more than that...everything I’ve learned about Edelgard’s past, things I’ve seen and witnessed during my time at the monastery...things from my own past…”
“You sympathize?” Sothis sounded flabbergasted as she spoke.
“I want to listen to what she has to say,” Edelgard feeling the stare of Byleth turned her head up to look at her lover once more. “She said she wants to unite Fódlan underneath the Empire-”
“She wants to dismantle the Church and kill the leader Archbishop Rhea, your friend.” Sothis added just in case Byleth forgot Edelgard's words from hours earlier.
“She doesn’t want what happened to Sylvain’s brother, Mercedes, or her own siblings to happened to other families.” Byleth pointed out feeling herself becoming defensive.
“Are you foolish enough to think war isn’t filled with such horrors? She’ll rip apart thousands of families just to avenge her own...you know how she feels.” Sothis’s voice had dropped. Her ire had fallen away to quiet resentment. “She will sacrifice innocent as long as she believes her cause is just.”
“And how many millions of people is Lady Rhea willing to sacrifice in order to keep the status quo?” At Byleth’s question the goddess in her head stayed silent. Edelgard was still looking up at Byleth with a curious look.
“You’ve been having your own doubts about the church for some time now,” Sothis said as Byleth reached forward and in a rare moment of public affection tucked a piece of blond hair behind Edelgard’s ear, causing the younger girls face to go completely red.
“Edelgard wants equality, how can this be bad?” For a moment Byleth’s second question was once more met with nothing but silence.
“She’ll wet the ground with blood of innocent lives in order to do it,” Sothis said darkly. "I wonder if you can live with being apart of that."
Chapter 6: Good Idea, Bad Idea
Byleth and Edelgard are lesbians, they make poor decisions, and I laughed more than I should have when writing this chapter.
The Black Eagles and The Knights of Serios all stood together at the edge of the woods were the abandon chapel was located just a few miles or ahead of them. They all waited patiently for the scout they sent ahead to come back with news of the enemies position and their numbers.
Byleth was standing in the center of the crowd flanked now by Jeralt and Edelgard both of who remained quiet as they mentally prepared themselves for battle. Byleth was doing the same, she had her silver axe resting against the ground as she tried to calm her nerves and wandering mind. Pushing Sothis and the rest of her mounting issues to the side, Byleth took in deep calming breaths.
“Professor, I don't want to interrupt you but I was wondering if perhaps-” Bernadetta’s inevitable question was cut off by the sound of a blood curdling scream in the distance. Bernadetta jumped and let out a frighten squeal as they all turned in the direction of the sound.
“What the hell was that?” one of the Knights demanded, his voice quivering as he spoke. More screams followed the first one, creating a chorus of spine chilling howls.
“I thought there weren’t any people around here,” Ignatz said softly, inching closer to Raphael who was standing beside him.
“People aren’t making that sound,” Byleth said darkly as the memory of their battle with Sylvain’s brother came rushing back to her mind.
“Those are the demonic beast,” Edelgard added finishing Byleth’s thoughts. The two exchanged a look and Byleth could tell that they were thinking of the same thing. Byleth had no doubt that the rest of the class who had been present at the time were thinking about that fight as well, none of them would ever forget that horrible sound.
“If you listen closely you can hear the difference in their shouts,” Hubert said quietly. His face was pulled into an intense look as he concentrated on the screaming in the distance. Bernadetta let out another whimper before stomping her feet on the ground.
“Of course you can!” she snapped. “Only you would be focusing on listening to those sounds, I’m sure you’re enjoying it!”
“Hush!” Hubert snapped back. “I’m trying to listen so I know how many demonic beast we might be facing, shut up you fool and let me.” Bernadetta frowned but made no retort as she allowed Hubert to focus.
“No need to be rude about,” Jeralt grumbled.
“I’ll deal with it later,” Byleth said waving away Jeralt’s annoyance. “Right now we have bigger fish to fry than Hubert being an ass.”
“I can hear you,” Hubert said as he picked his head back up.
“Well, she wasn’t exactly being quiet.” Raphael said with his large hands resting against his hips. “Did you pick up on how many beasts are crying out?”
“It’s difficult, they all sound almost the same but so far I can make out four subtle distinctions.” Hubert said.
“We have more than enough to take on four of those nasty beasts!” Caspar shouted with his fists raised high in the air. “What are we waiting for? Let’s go out there and make some mince meat out of these monsters!”
“Not so fast,” Sylvain said reaching forward and grabbing Caspar by the back of his neck as the shorter boy rushed forward. “Have you already forgotten our fight with...our last fight with a demonic beast?” He demanded.
“Those things are hard to bring down,” Dorothea she reminded Caspar with a frown, just in case he had. “It’s like they have an unlimited amount of health and on top of that they can heal themselves between exchanges.”
“Just because there’s a lot of us doesn’t mean we’ll win,” Jeralt said. “We need to think this through, charging in blindly will get us torn to shreds.”
“We just need Young Henry to come back!” Alois exclaimed. “He’s usually our fastest scout, he should be back by now.”
“Maybe he was killed,” Marianne said quietly but still everyone heard her.
“Nonsense, Henry his too agile to be caught,” Alois said with a frown.
“Agile or not he’s been gone longer than necessary,” Jeralt said.
“Professor, please let me stay back!” Bernadetta begged.
“I’m sorry you can’t,” Byleth said firmly. “There’s possibly four demonic beast out there Beradetta, we need as many long range fighters as possible.” The screams were beginning to get louder now and at the sound of them Bernadetta looked as if she was going to have a heart attack. Byleth scanned the rest of the faces of her class and saw similar looks of fear, though some tried to hide it.
“I’m not sure how much longer we can wait for that scout to return,” Jeralt said looking down at Byleth. “We should head out now.” Byleth nodded and turned to the rest of her class.
“Four demonic beast, that’s a lot to handle,” she began as she turned towards them. “We’re going to need all the fighting power we have. Listen when we get closer my father and I will assess the situation and come back with a plan of attack.”
“If we all want to make it back to Garreg Mach you’ll follow what we say to the letter, no hesitation, no being a hero, no going off script, got it?” Everyone nodded.
“No need to be dramatic,” Jeralt said softly. “As long as we all stick together everything should be fine. No one’s dying here on my watch.” Byleth frowned but simply nodded, she wasn’t sure how he felt comfortable making a promise like that.
Once they got a few miles away from the chapel Byleth and Jeralt instructed everyone else to stay back while they crept ahead. There was no sign of their scout as they came to a stop at what Byleth could only assume use to be the archway that lead into the chapel. Byleth had a feeling that this building was once beautiful but now all that stood here were ruins that were slowly crumbling to the ground.
Byleth and Jeralt both tensed as another series of chilling screams filled the air. They exchanged a look before glancing through the archway. Byleth felt her heart climb to her throat as she caught a glimpse of the first demonic beast. It looked different than the monster Sylvain’s brother had transformed into. It had a long serpentine neck and tail, a thick black hide, a mouth filled with jagged fangs but was missing a set of eyes.
Jeralt motioned for Byleth to follow him and quickly the two snuck in closer. They split up and took cover behind two wide crumbling columns, they scanned the area as best as they could from their position. From here Byleth could make out another identical demonic beast to the left of the first one and yet another a few feet behind the second one.
She flashed up two fingers to Jeralt before pointing them in that direction. He nodded before showing one finger to Byleth and pointing in the opposite direction.
“Hubert was right, there are four of them here.” Sothis said softly as if afraid the beasts might hear her.
“Help me! Please you have to help me!” Byleth and Jeralt snapped their heads up and looked at one another with wide eyes at the sound of a young woman crying out.
“Help! We need help!” A young man shouted soon after.
“Please! Please help!” Another young woman screamed. Jeralt jerked his head back to the archway and as quietly as possible Byleth followed him out. Apart of her wanted to go back and help those crying but knew that would only result in all of them being killed.
“I thought no one else was supposed to be out of here,” Byleth whispered once they got to a safer distance.
“I guess we were mistaken, we need to act quickly.” Jeralt said.
“This chapel is far away from anything,” Byleth said as the two hurried back towards the Knights and Black Eagles. “It’s abandoned and falling apart, who would be out here?”
“We can question them later,” Jeralt snapped causing Byleth to frown. Not by his tone but because she was begin to feel uneasy.
“What are you thinking?” Sothis asked, Byleth was sure with a frown.
“I’m still confused as to why anyone is all the way out here in an isolated abandoned ruin,” Byleth thought trying to catch up with her father. “Furthermore don't you think it’s odd that people are calling out for help...all the way out here? They didn’t see dad or myself nor did we see them.”
“You believe this is a trap?” Sothis questioned.
“I think it’s something,” Byleth thought and uncontrollably the image of Edelgard’s face flashed across her mind. Byleth frowned and felt guilty before pushing the paranoid thought away.
“Well?” Hubert asked when the two returned to their waiting units after some time.
“You were right,” Byleth informed him. “We made four beast similar in size to the last one we fought, could be more but we couldn’t get much closer without provoking a fight.”
“What’s more is that there’s people there,” Jeralt said with a scowl. “While there we heard three different people calling for help, we need to move as fast as possible if we have any hope of saving them.”
“I don't not understand,” Ferdinand said with a frown. He took in a breath to say more but Byleth picked her hand up.
“Neither do we but we have no time to discuss it now,” she said her eyes automatically catching Edelgard’s intent stare. “We need to move fast.”
“My teacher if I may,” Edelgard said stepping forward. “With a group this size we might not be able to make it there in time.”
“What’s your idea?” Byleth asked, seeing one slowly forming in Edelgard’s mind.
“Together you and I make a strong pair, we struggled a bit with the last demonic beast we fought against but in the end, you and I were the two who managed to bring it down,” she reminded Byleth softly. Neither noticed Sylvain wincing slightly or the odd looks some of the newer classmates were giving the two as they got caught up in their conversation. “We’re far stronger than we were back then.”
“I already know what you’re going to say,” Byleth said her brain running along the same track as Edelgard’s now.
“We can take Twig and fly ahead of the others to provide immediately relief,” Edelgard said still intent on finishing her thought.
“What if each student is pinned down by a different beast,” Hubert asked with a frown. “Lady Edelgard you are strong but not strong enough to fight a demonic beast of this caliber by yourself.”
“I won’t be by myself,” Edelgard assured him. “Beside we have no idea what the position of those people are, whatever the case Byleth and I can certainly think of something when we get there.” Edelgard promised.
“And beside you lot won’t be too far behind,” Byleth said. “Edelgard and I will go ahead, in the meantime dad will come up with a plan of attack, he knows the basics of your abilities but still Hubert you can help him figure out the formations.”
“I don't like this idea,” Jeralt said. “I know your still going to do it,” he added. “But for the record I don't like it.”
“Edelgard and I are a strong team. We’ll be fine,” she promised before moving forward and craning her head up towards the sky. Twig had yet to land and was still circling above. She began to sharply whistle.
Everyone but Edelgard and Byleth instinctively stepped back as Twig landed down on the ground. Without another word the two lovers climbed onto the wyvern, Byleth in the front of the saddle and Edelgard behind her.
“You’re kidding me,” Sothis scoffed as a giddy feeling rushed through Byleth as Edelgard wrapped her arms around her middle. “You need to get it together.” Byleth ignored this and whistled again. Immediately Twig leaped forward and took to the sky. Jeralt sighed and placed his hand on his head as he watched them go.
“Wow,” Alois said with a small wistful smile. “It’s so nice to see a close friendship like that, it’s inspiring really, almost reminds me of you and I!” Alois said ribbing Jeralt gently, as he did so he gained an exasperated look from almost everyone in the class and Jeralt himself.
“Right...well let’s forge ahead,” Jeralt said. “No time to waste.”
“That’s two for two,” Byleth shouted back to Edelgard. “The Bat was right, they’re all pinned down- is that Monica?” She asked with a frown. Byleth couldn’t make out a face but from here could see a person freely moving around the ruins with the same blood red hair.
“It would seem so, do you think she was one of the people calling out for help?” Edelgard asked sounding equal confused. “Are the rest of the people down there students? Why are they here, what’s going on?”
“Stu- oh right I forgot Monica was in our class,” Byleth said.
“She never comes to lecture,” Sothis said.
“Is it me or does it look like those demonic beast aren’t really attacking the possible students?” Edelgard asked. “Doesn’t matter,” she decided quickly. “The one in front of the entrance doesn’t have anyone pinned, let’s land in front of the one closer towards the back of the chapel and move forward from there.”
“Right,” Byleth said with a nod. She let out a series of whistles informing Twig of the direction they needed to head in. She squeezed her thighs against his flank for him to speed up. She didn't need to give him a command for what happened next. As they got closer she felt his body begin to heat up and a second later she heard him take in a huge breath of air before releasing a torrent of flames. Twig’s breath of fire hit their target square in the back causing it to spin around.
“I have an idea babe,” Byleth shouted at the top of her lungs. “Lean your body back with me!” Edelgard nodded and together they leaned back causing Twig to barrel up straight towards the sky. Once they were out of range of any attack they leaned forward causing him to stop.
“We’re going to fight the beast while Twig picks up the trapped people and carries them to safety,” Byleth panted, adrenaline was coursing through her caused by Twig’s fast flying.
“Good idea,” Edelgard said. “Bad idea, however, was antagonizing that demonic beast and then running away while a person is right next to it.” Byleth blushed, she hadn’t thought of that. Wordlessly they both leaned back down and began to head towards the ground. This time however they landed in front of the woman before they both dismounted.
“Thank the goddess your here!” The girl cried, indeed she was a student. “I thought I was- hey what are you doing!” she demanded when Byleth snatched her hand forward and grabbed her uniform. She whistled for Twig’s attention and when she got it she let out a series of whistles and snaps as she motioned with her right arm around ruins.
Twig nodded and leaped into the air again. Byleth let go of the girl and gave her an apologetic look as Twig rushed forward and grabbed the shoulders of her uniform with his claws before picking her up in the air. She let out a ear splitting scream as Twig carried her off to safety.
“How is he going to know to get to the other students?” Edelgard asked with a frown.
“I told him to carry away anyone with that uniform, I’m assuming they're all wearing the same thing,” Byleth said seriously.
“You conveyed that all through clicks, whistles, and arm movements?” Edelgard asked with a frown. Byleth nodded with a proud look. “At that point, you would think that it would be easier for him to understand human speech.”
“He can!” Byleth said as the demonic beast in front of them began to turn around, all the noise gaining its attention. “But the way I do it is cooler.”
“You’re an idiot,” Sothis sighed, Edelgard looked like she was tempted to say the same but had no time. Both turned their attention to the oncoming demonic beast!
Chapter 7: Byleth's Worst Fear
In an effort to take down the first demonic beast Byleth's worst fear is realized.
There are some graphic images of death at the end of this chapter.
Edelgard and Byleth immediately moved out of the way jumping in opposite directions as the demonic beast brought its head forward. A moment later there was an explosion of dirt and rock as the beasts head crashed into the ground with great force. Running a full speed Edelgard and Byleth went down opposite sides of demonic beast, swinging with all of their might and bringing the sharp blades of their silver and killer axe against the side of its hide.
They both attempted to cut their blades into its scaly skin but it had no effect, their blades merely scraping down the beasts side. The demonic beast barely noticed as it picked its head back up.
With their first plan failed both Byleth and Edelgard rushed forward with the intent to meet and regroup. They ran as quickly as they could while the demonic beast began to move.
“So my very expensive silver axe had no effect,” Byleth panted as she and Edelgard joined back up.
“Neither did my killer axe,” Edelgard said with a scowl. “My guess is that it’s scales act as an armour but like all armour it must have a weak spot.” As Edelgard spoke the demonic beast let out one it’s blood chilling screams as it reared up on its back legs. Byleth froze as she watched it tilted its head back and began to shot a quick succession of fire balls towards the sky.
“Holy shit!” Byleth said as the fireballs began to fall towards the ground. It looked like a rain of fire and brimstone.
“Byleth!” Edelgard shouted and suddenly Byleth’s world turned sideways as she hit the ground. She immediately understood what was happening and curled into herself as Edelgard used her body to cover her as best as possible. Just as soon as the attack had started it stopped and just as quickly Edelgard rolled off of Byleth and hauled her professor to her feet.
“Are you alright?” Edelgard asked as she righted Byleth.
“Yeah, you?” Byleth asked more out of habit than of actual concern. Since Byleth had known Edelgard she hadn’t once see her girlfriend be affected by any kind of fire attack. Still, Byleth felt an obligation to ask.
“Of course,” Edelgard said as the two of them backed up from the towering monster as it slowly turned around to face them.
“You said every piece of armour has a chink it in,” Byleth said softly as she picked her silver axe off the ground. “Maybe its belly,” she said more to herself than to Edelgard. An idea sparked in her head as she turned to look at her lover.
“Cover me with your throwing axes,” Byleth said as the demonic beast let out a roar as it fully turned to face them.
“I don't like what you’re thinking,” Edelgard said concern coloring her voice as Byleth banished her axe. “You don't know if its stomach is its weak spot.”
“Only one way to find out,” Byleth said before reaching forward to kiss Edelgard’s cheek. “I’ll be fine as long as you watch my back.”
“How are my axes going to protect you if they only bounce off it’s skin-” she was cut by another howl as the demonic beast swiped it’s large clawed paw forward aiming for Byleth. In response, Byleth rushed forward and dodge the demonic beast’s talons by dropping to the ground and sliding forward. As she did so she felt the skin of her shins tear away, pushing past the pain she slide through the arms of the beast and swung once more with all of her might.
The demonic beast reared back on it’s legs once more as it darted its head towards Byleth repeating its first attack. Seeing this Edelgard reached down towards her belt and pulled out one of her throwing axes. She let out a frustrated holler as she pulled her arm back and threw her axe with all of her might. She watched as it flipped handle over blade before striking the red glowing spot in the middle of its forehead.
The attack had the intended effect. Edelgard watched as the demonic beast pulled it’s head back and shouted towards the sky in pain at the same moment that Byleth swung her axe forward and sliced through the soft flesh of the demonic beast underside.
“Aha!” Byleth shouted.
“Get over here!” Edelgard shouted when Byleth didn’t immediately move and instead stayed rooted in her spot. Edelgard felt her heart slam against her chest and she fought every urge in her telling her to disregard the command that Byleth had given her. Her fingers itched to wrap themselves around Byleth and drag her back over to the relatively safety of this spot.
Byleth, as Edelgard thought she would, ignored her and swung her axe again cutting deeper into the wound she had already created. The demonic beast screamed again and began to do what Edelgard feared the most. It began to swing it’s arms around wildly as it started to shoot fireballs in every direction.
“You fucking idiot!” Edelgard cried out as she began to dash forward watching as Byleth continued to hack away at the beast. Byleth wasn’t paying attention to Edelgard however as she continued her assault. Edelgard zig zagged back and forth as she dodged the sharp talons of the wild beast amazingly unscatched. Her heart almost jumped into her throat as one of the monsters claws brushed just above the hair on Byleth’s head. Edelgard pulled out another throwing axe and pulled her arm back again.
“Move!” Edelgard shouted at the top of her lungs. This time, thankfully, Byleth heard her and moved as Edelgard threw her second axe. Edelgard zig zagged back and forth once more avoiding the wailing arms of the monster as her axe buried itself into the wounds Byleth had inflicted in it. Reaching forward Edelgard wrapped her fingers around the leather straps of Byleth’s armor that went over her shoulders.
Using all of her might she began to drag Byleth away from the flailing monster causing her lover to shout out!
“I can move myself!” Byleth snapped. Edelgard was about to retort but the demonic beast let out a horrid, ear splitting scream as it toppled over onto its back. “We won!” Byleth exclaimed her annoyance of being dragged by her girlfriend disappearing as she watched as the beast let out it's dying screams as it twitched on the ground. Cascades of thick black blood came pouring from it's wounds and watered the ground all around it.
Then something truly disturbing happened.
The monster began to slowly shrink down until it’s hideous form disappeared and in its place was a twitching form of a human. Byleth felt her blood run cold as she pushed herself up to her feet and pulled away from Edelgard. Her legs felt numb as she stumbled forward fear growing in the pit of her stomach.
Byleth let out a strangled cry as she dropped down to her knees besides the stilling body. The pale face of the boy below her was a familiar one to Byleth. He was wearing a standard officers academy uniform with red buttons taking the place of the usual white ones. It was custom for most students to somehow incorporate their house color into their school outfit.
Byleth eyes went wide as she took in all the red that was now soaked into his uniform. Byleth felt her stomach twist as she forced herself to look upon the look of her former student.
“Emil,” she whimpered as she reached forward and cupped his cheek. It was slowly beginning to lose any warmth. Byleth began to run the side of her thumb against his cheek as tears began to run down her cheeks.
Edelgard was silent as she slowly sank down so she was crouching beside her lover. Byleth remained quiet as she looked down at his face. Emil was a quiet boy, the son of a lesser known noble family. He wasn’t the smartest student she had but he was kind and always eager to learn.
“He just asked me to switch his focus to the warrior class last week,” Byleth said softly, her voice croaking as she spoke. “I told him no…I didn't think he was ready,” Edelgard reached forward and threaded her fingers through Byleth’s.
“His death won’t be in vain,” she promised. Byleth let out a pain sob as she sank forward resting her head against Emil’s chest as the full weight of what she had done began to push down on her, crushing her conscience as guilt hit her like a wave leaving the Professor breathless.
“I killed a student…” she sobbed her worst fear becoming realized. Edelgard wanted to reach forward and wrap her arms around Byleth to provide her some comfort but couldn’t. Not when the cries of the other demonic beasts were drowning out Byleth’s.
Chapter 8: Hold The Line
With Byleth currently unable to battle, Edelgard must figure out a way to fight the next classmate turned demonic beast while they wait for reinforcements.
There is another graphic depiction of death at the end of this chapter.
Edelgard didn’t know what to do and right about now was regretting making the suggestion of going in to this kind of battle, just the two of them. Edelgard was trying to keep her attention on both Byleth who was sobbing uncontrollably in her arms and the demonic beast in front of them that was slowly beginning to turn around.
Up until now the other demonic beasts on the field had been unbothered by their presence, only moving to attempt to attack Twig as he flew in front of them to retrieve one of the trapped students.
Now with one demonic beast, Emil , dead they were on the move. At least the one closest to the couple was. Edelgard didn’t quite understand why it had decided to wait while they fought the first one but at the moment didn’t have time to make any major deduction. Right now Byleth was unable to move as she cried and the only words she could manage to mutter were ‘what have I done…’ over and over again.
Edelgard’s heart broke not only for her lover but for Emil who was lying lifeless in front of them. Her heart broke for the other three students they would have to kill. Edelgard tightened her grip around Byleth as she thought of what to do next.
She wasn’t sure where the rest of the class and the knights were and she knew Byleth didn’t have another fight in her. Scanning the skies quickly Edelgard didn’t see Twig, he had left with the last student on the field. That left Edelgard to fight the oncoming beast by herself.
“Lady Edelgard you are strong but not strong enough to fight a demonic beast of this caliber by yourself.” Hubert’s words echoed in her mind. “But I don't have a choice…” Edelgard thought as she looked down at Byleth who was sobbing on her shoulder.
“Stay here,” Edelgard said softly as she detached herself from Byleth, she was positive that her lover couldn’t hear her but still Edelgard continued to speak. “I’ll be right back, when Twig comes back I’m going to have him take you off the field.” Edelgard said softly as she pushed herself to her feet. She watched as Byleth slumped forward, her body heaving as she mourned over Emil’s body.
“She can’t take much more,” Edelgard thought as she moved and took hold of her killer axe. “She’s going to break soon, if she sees the faces of the other three students...Byleth,” Edelgard squeezed her eyes shut as she attempted to push away the mounting guilt on her shoulders.
This wasn’t her fault, Edelgard knew that. She had seen Monica...or the girl who looked like Monica earlier but whatever insidious plot that Kronya had cooking up her sleeve Edelgard was not privy to or responsible for. Still, Edelgard knew that in the past twenty four hours she had been a cause of immense stress for her lover and this whole battle was the straw breaking the camel’s back.
“I can’t think of that now,” Edelgard thought as she cracked her neck and turned back towards the oncoming monster. “Not monster,” Edelgard had to remind herself. “A classmate of mine.” Edelgard took a deep breath as she readied herself.
“I will avenge you,” she said softly as she craned her head up to look at her former classmate. “I swear it, when I get a hold of Kronya I will make her pay for what she’s done to you. And when I’m in the position I will wipe the rest of Those Who Slither in the Dark off the face of this earth.”
The demonic beast screamed at the top of its lungs as if it was responding to Edelgard's quiet declaration and then it began to move towards her at a quicker speed than the one before. The ground shook beneath Edelgard’s feet as she began to take off at full speed.
As it got closer the beast lunged forward and attempted to swipe Edelgard’s head off her shoulders. The princess ducked and rolled underneath it’s sharp talons and slide forward imitating Byleth’s move from a few moments earlier. Bringing her arms back she tried to aim for the stomach but this beast was far faster than the one before.
Darting its other hand forward it smacked Edelgard off her course causing her to grunt painfully as she hit the ground and rolled towards the side. She almost came to a stop when the beast batted her again with it’s other hand like a cat playing with a mouse.
Edelgard’s world began tumbled around and the wind was being knocked out of her as she went back and forth. Edelgard was sure she would be stuck being tossed like a ragdoll but suddenly there came a little ramulus intervention to save her from her situation. Edelgard was being knocked around for the third time when suddenly the demonic beast stopped and let out an ear shattering scream.
Edelgard took the opportunity to scramble backwards to get out of the beasts reach. She could barely make out up from down but still she moved as quickly as she could. Once she felt like she was out of attacking range, Edelgard squeezed her eyes shut in an attempt to regain her bearings.
After a few moments she pushed herself to her knees and opened her eyes again. She was still horribly dizzy but she could make out what was going on. She watched with relief as Twig flew around the demonic beast’s head shooting bright orange flames at it hitting the side of the beasts face and shoulders. The creature screamed and flailed it’s hands at Twig but the wyvern was far too quick for any of the beasts attacks to land.
Edelgard saw her opening. She had one more throwing axe, reaching forward she quickly pulled it off her belt and rushed forward. Pulling her hand back Edelgard threw her axe with all her might right at the belly of the beast!
With Twig distracting it Edelgard’s axe easily found its home in the center of the demonic beasts stomach. It let out another scream as it stumbled backwards, blood gushing out from its wound. Twig took the opportunity to circle back and land beside Edelgard.
“Go! Go to Byleth and get her out of here, carry her to somewhere safe,” Edelgard demanded as she glanced up at the wyvern. It looked back down at her and tilted its head to the side as if it was confused. “Go!” Edelgard said louder now as she pointed towards her incapacitated lover. Twig didn’t move though, he just stared at her.
“Byleth said you can understand human speech, so go! Go to your master and take her somewhere safe!” The demonic beast let out another scream and Edelgard snapped her head to look at it. It was still standing on two legs, it’s head craned up in the air as it hollered towards the sky. Edelgard thought it would start to shot fireballs up into the air like the other one had before but instead it kept crying out.
Edelgard looked back up at Twig to see him still staring down at her intently. She felt her heart began to pound against her chest as she pointed towards Byleth and began to whistle and click her tongue, trying her best to point and use hand signals as she had seen Byleth do earlier. She tried to convey to him as best as she could to get Byleth and go but still Twig stood there staring at her.
Edelgard was quiet for a moment as she looked into his bright yellow eyes. She immediately felt her heart stop in her chest as she saw it. Edelgard carefully moved forward, ignoring the wailing beast a few feet away, as she looked deeper into Twig’s eyes.
“There’s a great deal of intelligence there...I’ve never took a moment to look into his eyes like this before…” She thought with a frown. “He knows exactly what I’m saying...he understands like Byleth said,” A cold feeling spread through Edelgard as a new realization came rushing through her. Twig wasn't going to take Byleth off of this battlefield. Not as long as Edelgard was still on it.
“That idiot told you not to leave my side if something happened to her didn’t she?” Edelgard wasn’t sure why she was asking. Already she knew the truth but as Twig began to nod his large head up and down she felt her knees buckle. For all the research Byleth had the class do on wyverns Edelgard never knew the creatures possessed this much intelligence.
“Disregard her command, go and take her away from here,” Edelgard said as she turned to look back at the demonic beast. It had fallen over to all fours and was panting heavily. Twig took in a deep breath and let out a loud snort causing Edelgard to glance back over at him to see the wyvern shake its head back and forth.
She wasn’t surprised. Byleth after all was his master, her order would come before all others even if Edelgard’s own command was to protect Byleth.
“Fine if you insist on fighting by my side then so be it,” Edelgard said angrily, she didn't have time to fight with him. “Go back and start to distract the beast again, aim your flames for that red dot in the middle of its forehead it seems to be a weak spot for it.” Twig turned forward and a second later took off to finally follow Edelgard’s orders.
“I could use a wyvern who obeys me,” Edelgard thought as she took off towards the beast once more. Above Twig was doing as she said and breathing jets of flame at the creatures head, right towards the center its forehead. He quickly dipped and dodged it’s long claws as it tried to make a swipe at him.
For a second time Edelgard got in close to the beast but this time it paid no mind to her as she approached as full speed and when she pulled her axe back and swung with all her might her blade met its target. Cutting through its stomach, Edelgard was sprayed with thick black blood but that didn’t stop her. She continued to swing as fast as she could with all of her might hacking away at her former classmate until she heard a defeated cry.
Edelgard began to dart backwards as the large creature fell over on its back as the one before had. A second later Twing landed back her side. Out of breath Edelgard watched with a sick feeling as the beast began to shrink down until it was human once more. Forcing herself forward Edelgard moved over to her dying classmate.
Sinking down to her knees she looked at the still twitching form of a first year student. Kiel von...Edelgard couldn’t remember the rest of the girls name and she hated herself for it. Reaching forward she took Kiel’s hand in her own and squeezed it tightly.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered as Kiel gasped helplessly for air. The girls eyes were unfocused and Edelgard knew she was miles away, unable to understand her. “One day I’ll right the wrong done to you.” She promised as Kiel let out her last breath. After a moment had passed Edelgard reached forward and shut Kiel’s eyes.
There was another scream in the distance and Edelgard brought her head up. Slowly she placed Kiel’s lifeless hand on the ground before forcing herself up from her knees as she watched the demonic beast at the entrance start to turn in her direction. She glanced over at Twig who was looking at the beast as well.
“Come on,” Edelgard began but as soon as she moved she saw something moving quickly from the side of her eye. Turning her head she watched as an arrow soared through the sky before hitting the side of the demonic beasts head. It bounced off, causing no damage to the beast but still got got its attention.
“Come on!” Edelgard felt her heart lift at the sound of Jeralt’s voice. Turning she saw him leading his Knights of Serios and her Black Eagles. Bernadetta was in the saddle behind him, aiming her bow right for the heart of the beast. It was an odd but reassuring sight and Edelgard found herself flooded with relief as her reinforcements came rushing in.
Chapter 9: Back Stabbed
Edelgard and her reinforcements continue their fights with the demonic beasts!
“Come on Twig!” Edelgard said as she ran forward towards Jeralt and the rest of the class. She felt a rush of wind as Twig launched himself in the air, her blonde hair whipping to the side as Twig flew past her. She didn’t notice him doubling back or him craning his head down.
One moment Edelgard’s feet were on the ground as she headed towards her reinforcements and the next she was being lifted into the sky as Twig picked her up by her crimson cape. Edelgard let out a very unintimidating sequel as Twig flew forward. Edelgard swung her legs and arms around as she hollered.
The Knights of Serios and The Black Eagles all turned and watched with wide eyes as Twig swooped towards them with Edelgard dangling from his mouth. Hubert immediately ran forward with wide fearful eyes.
“Lady Edelgard!” He shouted. A second later Twig landed in front of Hubert and very gently craned his head down and dropped Edelgard. Despite the hectic ten second ride, Edelgard landed on her feet.
Twig let out a happy cheer before taking off again towards the demonic beast. Edelgard adjusted her cape and hair before rushing past Hubert and towards Jeralt who was giving her a perplexed look, the demonic beast forgotten for a moment overshadowed by Edelgard’s unplanned entrance back into the group.
“I’ve never seen anyone ride a wyvern like that before,” Sylvain laughed but Edelgard ignored him as he rushed to Jeralt’s stead. There were more important matters at hand.
“The demonic beast are students,” she said as she slid to a stop beside him. Her face was red from shouting and she was a little out of breath. “I don't know how it happened but the two Byleth and I have taken down were Black Eagles.” Jeralt frowned as he snapped his eyes back towards the beast in front of them. It had yet to move but was screaming at the approaching group.
“Oh no, what are we going to do?” Bernadetta asked as the rest of the group began to collect around them.
“We have no choice but to put them out of their misery,” Edelgard said softly. Her voice was mournful and she couldn’t look the little archer in the eyes as she turned her head away from Bernadetta.
“Wait, what’s going on? Whose in misery?” Caspar asked as he ran up to Edelgard’s side. Frowning, she repeated the information she had just given Jeralt back to the rest of the group. “Are you kidding me...how did this happen?!”
“I don't know,” Edelgard said sternly.
“Perhaps it was the same situation that happened last time we fought a demonic beast,” Petra suggestion. Sylvain frowned and turned to look at the towering beast in front of them. It was on its back legs now, still screaming towards the sky but not moving or attacking.
“I doubt it,” Hubert said. “Sylvain’s brother turned into a beast because he was wielding a weapon he had no business using, I doubt there are four Hero Relics just laying around for students to be wielding at will.”
“It doesn’t matter,” Sylvain snapped. “Let’s just end our former classmates suffering.” At this everyone seemed to agree.
“The red dot in the middle of their forehead is a weak spot for it,” Edelgard explain. “Their stomach seems to be the only place you can inflict a wound on them, or at least that’s the only place Byleth and I were able to inflict damage.” Dorothea frowned as she looked around the group.
“Where is the Professor?” She asked her voice tinged with worry.
“She took the first demonic beast turning into a student hard,” Edelgard said. “It’s been...an already taxing day for her, she’s okay physically but can’t fight any longer.”
“Did she leave the battlefield?” Jeralt asked his face hardening at the news.
“No, she’s over with the first students body she’s...in a fragile state.” Edelgard didn’t know any other way to put it. She saw the looks of concern cross everyone’s face, even Hubert’s, it was Jeralt who spoke next.
“And the people we heard calling for help?” Jeralt asked.
“Twig carried them away to safety, they were students as well.” Jeralt nodded and turned his head back to still unmoving demonic beast.
“We can talk about everything later, right now we need to deal with these things.” Jeralt said. Edelgard bite her tongue to keep from correcting him. They weren’t things, they were Black Eagles and how they ended up this way she wasn’t sure. But she did know she would get answers one way or another.
“You and your Knights take this one on and The Black Eagles will deal with the other one,” Edelgard said. Jeralt scowled, Edelgard was sure he wasn’t fond of her giving him orders. If he planned on commenting as much Edelgard would never know, she turned away from him before he could say anything and lead her class towards the beast on the far side of the chapel.
“What about me?!” Bernadetta called out.
“Stay with Jeralt!” Edelgard called back. Bernadetta whimpered, no doubt wanting to be released from any fighting. Edelgard would scold her for it later. As they approached the fourth demonic beast on the field it let out a blood curdling scream as all the others before it had.
With so many people the fight didn’t last long. From above Ingrid and Twig attacked its head giving Edelgard, Sylvain, and the others more than enough of a distraction to attack its belly. Hubert, Ignatz and Marianne provided cover for the rest of the class while Linhardt stood on the side ready to give anyone assistance.
It took minutes to bring the beast down. With so many of them going to attack the belly of the beast at once while it tried to protect its head it was an easy fight. The student turned creature let out a mournful cry as it fell backwards.
After the information Edelgard had shared it didn’t feel like a victory and when the body of the student turned demonic beast began to shrink back down to its human form, Dorothea let out a pained gasp as they all gathered around their fallen classmate.
“Elyse!” She cried as she knelt down next to yet another Black Eagle. Dorothea sobbed as she looked down at the younger girl. Unlike Kiel, Elyse was already dead by the time she had transformed back into a human. “How...I was just giving her a voice lesson last night?! I don't understand how this could have happened!” She shouted her voice echoing throughout the chapel. Ingrid quickly dismounted her pegasus and hurried over to her friend’s side. Reaching forward Ingrid wrapped her arms around Dorotha and pulled her close as she cried.
“I just saw Elyse to,” Felix said with a frown as he looked down at her. “Not too long ago, yesterday maybe...what in the world is she doing all the way out here?” Lindhart frowned as he grabbed his chin.
“Yesterday...I feel as if I saw Elyse right before departing on this mission...I must have, we were speaking, she was going to the library to study all day…” Edelgard frowned as she looked up at Lindhart.
“That can’t be possible,” she said softly.
“Who were the other two students who...died?” Hubert asked giving Edelgard and inquisitive look.
“Emil and Kiel,” Edelgard said trying to remain stoic as possible.
“All younger students, weren’t they in the same year together?” Ignatz asked as he inched closer to Raphael.
“Yeah, first years,” Raphael muttered his voice almost drowned out in Dorothea’s sobbing. Marianne frowned her eyebrows pulled together.
“But...we saw Emil this morning, Ingrid and I,” Marianne said softly. “At the stables he was cleaning them out with…”
“Druella,” Ingrid said when Marianne had trailed off.
“And Kiel was at the dining hall this morning eating breakfast,” Sylvain said with a blush. “I think she was hitting on me...it seems a little dirty to say now but still. It’s not possible for them to have gotten here before us even if it was just four of them moving.”
“What are you implying?” Hubert asked with a curious look.
“Nothing I...I don't know what’s going on,” Sylvain said turning away from Hubert’s dark eyes. “But I know that we all can’t be imaging we saw these people, right? I mean okay maybe one of us thinks we saw something but-” whatever Sylvain was going to say was cut off. The final beast let out a shrill cry causing them all to turn and watch as it fell.
“We can't stand here forever. Here, I’ll carry Elyse.” Edelgard said after a moment of silence. Beside her Dorothea was sobbing into Ingrid’s neck and seemed to be unaware of the fall of the last beast.
“And take her where?” Felix asked.
“To the front of the chapel,” Edelgard said. “We’ll need to move all the bodies, we aren’t just leaving them here and certainly we aren't burying them here. We’re taking them back to Garreg Mach to have their bodies returned to Adrestia.”
“I’ll carry her,” Hubert said softly. “You shouldn’t have to.”
“Of course I should,” Edelgard said sternly. “I am the leader of this class and…” the rest of Edelgard’s words died in her throat as she looked away from Hubert. She wanted to say she was the future Emperor, she would have been their Emperor but somehow that didn’t seem to matter. All that mattered was that Edelgard was the leader of The Black Eagles and… “She died on my watch, it’s my guilt and burden to carry.” Hubert looked like he wanted to argue but said nothing as Edelgard reached down and wrapped on arm underneath Elyse’s neck and the other under her knees.
She carried the younger noble like a groom carries their bride and began to head towards the front of the chapel. Jeralt frowned once they got closer, a dark look crossing his face as he saw the limp body in Edelgard’s arms.
“Lay her down here,” Jeralt said pointing to the spot next to the other fallen student. Edelgard kneeled down and very carefully placed Elyse beside…
“Druella,” Bernadetta said causing Edelgard’s eyes to go wide. “I…”
“Just saw her?” Edelgard asked looking up at Bernadetta with an intense stare. The shorter girl nodded quickly as she brought her fingers to her mouth. “In the Knight’s Hall with Claude, he wanted to give me some pointers yesterday afternoon and Druella was there.”
“We saw Druella hanging around The Archbishops Chambers this morning,” Ignatz said as he glanced over at Marianne with huge eyes. “We went this morning to get a blessing from Lady Rhea before our mission...she was right there with us!”
“How is this a coincidence?” Felix demanded. “We each saw them all around the monastery either this morning before we left or the day before…” Edelgard screwed her eyes shut as she thought of this.
Emil, Kiel, Elyse, and now Druella. All four of these students were first year Black Eagles students. They were all kind, quiet, and mostly kept to themselves but always seemed open to conversation and eager to join in any group activity or to help another student. Especially another Black Eagle. They were all children of lower noble families… “They wouldn’t be missed immediately…” Edelgard’s eyes snapped open as realization came over her.
“Lady Edelgard?” Hubert asked seeing the wheels in her mind turning.
“Just like with Monica last year…” Edelgard thought. Her heart was being to slam against her chest. “When she disappeared no one noticed for a few days, then there was search and when that yielded no results everyone spoke about it for a few days but then…nothing. It was forgotten about until ‘Monica’ reappeared again!”
“My Lady,” Hubert said softly as he knelt down beside her.
“We need to gather the rest of the bodies,” Jeralt said clearing his throat and breaking Edelgard’s thoughts. “I can-”
“No,” Edelgard said pushing herself to her feet. “I will carry them back here.” Jeralt nodded a look of understanding in his eyes. “I’ll get Byleth as well.” Edelgard began to move to where Kiel’s body was laying and Hubert got up to follow her. Edelgard stopped and turned to look at him and the rest of the class.
“Stay here,” she said before turning around and making her way back to her second fallen classmate. When she got there she picked Kiel up in the same manner as Elyse and moved back to the rest of the class. She laid her down on the other side of Druella before silently turning around and heading over to the first body: Emil. When she got there Byleth was still crying, completely unaware of the fight that had went on around her.
“Byleth,” Edelgard said softly as she reached forward and touched her shoulder. Byleth jumped and looked up Edelgard with watery eyes. “The fights done...we’re heading back to Garreg Mach now.”
“I took down the second beast while you were mourning Emil and reinforcements came shortly after. The Knights and Bernadetta took down the beast at the main entrance and the rest of The Black Eagles took on the last one.” She explained softly.
“Oh...I’m sorry,” Byleth cried. “I should have-”
“Hush you couldn’t have,” Edelgard said softly. “You don't have any more fight left in you right now.” Byleth sobbed and looked down at Emil, her eyes glassy and filled with pain as she stared down at his face.
“Who were the other three?” Byleth finally whispered.
“Don't try to protect me,” Byleth said snapping her head up at Edelgard. She didn’t look angry just...intense. “Please…” as Byleth spoke again her voice came out strangled.
“The one I fought myself was Kiel, the one The Black Eagles took down was Elyse, and the one the Knights took down was Druella.” Byleth’s face immediately crumbled as she let out another series of sobs. They sat there for a few moments in horrible silence as Byleth cried and Edelgard watched unsure of what else to do. Eventually, Edelgard spoke again.
“We need to start moving,” Edelgard said softly. “We need to take them back to Garreg Mach now.” Byleth nodded before reaching down and running her hand through Emil’s dark brown hair.
“I’m sorry,” she told him before Edelgard moved to pick him up. Byleth stopped her though. “No, let me.” She said. Edelgard wanted to argue but felt like now wasn’t the time. Byleth started to move but stopped when she caught a glimpse of red out of the corner of her eye. Edelgard saw it to and turned her head to see Monica skipping towards Jeralt.
Jeralt was standing with his back towards them, speaking with Alois. Edelgard felt her mind began to race again her stomach begin to burn. When she and Byleth first arrived and saw who they thought was Monica, Edelgard had been confused. Now Edelgard was thinking she had a better idea.
“What the hell is she doing here?” Byleth said in a low voice. Edelgard knew now was not the time to share her thoughts. Instead they watched, both confused as Jeralt moved his head side to side. Monica was right behind him.
Everything moved so quickly after that. They heard Jeralt let out a scream and suddenly Monica was running away. Everyone was frozen in their spot, unsure of exactly what had happened. But then Jeralt fell to the ground and just like that Byleth was moving running so quickly that even Edelgard couldn’t catch up as she quickly got to her feet and followed.
“Dad!” Byleth shouted as she sprinted to his side. Alois was beside him shouting but Edelgard couldn’t make out his words.
“Damn...looks like this is the end,” Jeralt grunted as Byleth fell down beside him. “Didn’t really think I was going to die like this.”
“You’re not dying today,” Byleth shouted at the top of her lungs. “No one else is dying today.” She bellowed as she took in a deep breath and squeezed her eyes shut. For Edelgard and everyone else the world went black.
Chapter 10: The Fastest
*Byleth's External Screaming*
“We need to start moving,” Byleth’s eyes snapped open and she picked her head up to see Edelgard kneeling across from her. Emil was laying between them and the sight of her former student laying there lifeless caused her stomach to roll. Byleth swallowed hard before turning her head to look in her father’s direction. For a moment relief flooded through her to see him still standing there speaking with Alois.
“We need to take them back to Garreg Mach now.” Edelgard said but Byleth was hardly paying attention as she pushed herself up to her feet. “I can carry-” Byleth turned away from Edelgard and began to search for her Silver Axe.
“I need my axe, where’s my axe?” She demanded.
“What’s going on?” Edelgard asked with wide eyes as she pushed herself to her feet. Byleth said nothing as she snapped her head in the direction she knew Monica had come from to the ground as she looked for her axe.
“Fuck?!” Byleth exclaimed. “Do you have your axe on you?”
“No I left over where we fought Elyse,” Edelgard said as she moved closer to Byleth. “But there’s no more enemies on the field, what do you need your axe for?”
“Because…” The explanation fell away as Byleth caught a glimpse of Monica skipping across the field. Without thinking she darted forward running as fast as her feet would take her. But she wasn’t fast enough. Monica was closer to Jeralt and was almost behind him while Byleth was still halfway across the field.
“I didn’t go back far enough!” Byleth exclaimed as Monica moved behind him. Squeezing her eyes shut she felt the familiar rush of her Divine Pulse.
“You don't have any more fight left in you right now.” Edelgard said. Byleth’s eyes snapped open as she doubled over. Turning her head to the side she got sick in the grass as exhaustion began to seep into her bones.
“This is your last shot!” Sothis said. “We can’t go back a third time! You’re far too weak, I hate to agree with your blushing bride but you have no more fight in you.”
“The hell I do,” Byleth said as she pushed herself onto her feet. The moment she did she felt her mind began to swim as dizziness took ahold of her. She swayed to the side but Edelgard moved as quick as whip and was there to catch her before she fell.
“You don't need to fight baby,” Edelgard said softly. “There are no more enemies on the field, it’s time to go home now.” Byleth swallowed back the bitter taste of bile and vomit as she shook her head.
“I need a weapon,” Byleth muttered as she pulled away from Edelgard’s grip and began to scan the ground hoping now that she had more time she might be able to find her weapon. Her legs felt numb and only her will to save her father kept her going. Edelgard frowned and reached forward to stop Byleth but the other woman pulled herself away, almost falling over.
“You need to sit down,” Edelgard said.
“Again your forcing me to agree with someone I don't like!” Sothis snapped. “Give your dog a command and let her handle the threat.”
“Shut your mouth will you,” Byleth snarled at the voice in her head but caused Edelgard to recoil.
“I’m just trying to help you,” Edelgard said, clearly offended.
“Then get me an axe,” Byleth demanded as she continued to look around the ground for the one she had discarded. Hadn’t she dropped it around here?
“I don't answer to you,” Edelgard said coldly as she turned her back to Byleth and went to go towards Emil's body. Byleth paid her no mind, too caught up with her task to notice. Instead she scanned the field around her for her silver axe while snapping her eyes up and scanning around for Monica to make her appearance.
She was switching back and forth when she caught a glimpse of something shimmering in the grass. She moved quickly and felt her heart lift at the sight of one of Edelgard’s discarded throwing axes. Tears began to pour down her face at the sight of it, it felt like such a reprieve from her helplessness.
Kneeling down she scooped her weapon up just in time to see Monica skipping across the field as if she had no worry in the world. It was a struggle but after a moment of stumbling forward Byleth managed to stand up. Monica was halfway across the field when Byleth aimed Edelgard’s axe and threw it with all her might.
It would have hit her target to but just as the axe was about to strike the side of Monica’s head there was a flash of purple light and suddenly there was a grotesque looking man standing there. He easily deflected the axe before narrowing his white milky eyes at Byleth and smiling. A second later she heard Jeralt scream. Byleth’s knees went weak and she found herself falling to the ground. She threw her arms out in front of her to catch herself. Hanging her head low she squeezed her eyes shut and for a moment felt the divine pulse working before it stuttered.
She was still in her spot and all around her she heard chaos and screaming. Byleth shook her head and tried again. It felt like her divine pulse went a little further, she felt the familiar pulling sensation that came with the power only to have it disappear out a second later.
“You don't have the strength!” Sothis shouted as Byleth tried for a third time. “I know you want to save him but you need to stand up and accept this might be fate!”
“No!” Byleth shouted as she tried again. She thought she felt hands on her shoulders but she tried her best to focus on going back.
“You can’t go back a third time!”
“JUST WATCH ME!” Byleth screamed at the top of her lungs before she felt the sharp tug at the base of her spine.
“You don't have any more fight left in you right now,” Edelgard said softly. Byleth’s eyes snapped open and she pulled in a sharp breath as she gasped for air. The Professor felt her head began to swim as she doubled over. White, burning pain was coursing through her as she attempted to catch her breath. Groaning she squeezed her eyes shut as she reached forward and braced her hands onto the ground.
"Byleth!" Edelgard was beside her in a second. The older woman felt Edelgard wrap her arms around her shoulders. "I know it's hard, I know." Edelgard said softly as she pulled Byleth in closer, tighter.
"You better move and move quickly," Sothis hissed her voice sounding faint and far in Byleth's mind. "If you stay like this any longer you'll have risked everything only to have your father killed a third time!" Byleth's only response was a painful groan as she attempted to wiggle her way out of Edelgard's tightening grip.
"Don't move," Edelgard said softly. "Relax, we'll get you back to Garreg Mach."
"No...dad...no!" Byleth's words came out slurred and as she protest and used the rest of her strength to wiggle and push away from Edelgard, she felt something warm and slick begin to trickle down her face.
"Jeralt's fine we're all- shit Byleth your nose is bleeding," Edelgard said with a frown right when Twig let out a cry. A second later the little wyvern landed in front of the couple and craned his head down to look at Byleth with concern.
"Twig!" Sothis shouted her voice sounding much closer now! It caused an aching wave of pain to course through Byleth's head.
"Twig?" Byleth questioned as she used all her strength to look up at her faithful steed.
"Squawk?" Twig squawked as he tilted his head to the side.
"Twig you moronic idiot! Twig! Twig! Twig!" Sothis shouted over and over again. Edelgard frowned as she watched the interaction between her lover and her lovers weird dragon. Byleth frowned as she stared at Twig trying to understand why Sothis kept screaming his name over and over again. The concentration only caused Byleth's head to throb worse but a moment later it paid off.
"Twig..." Of course! "Twig...my dad...pick him up please!" Byleth croaked out her voice coming out strangled and hoarse. "Please...hurry..." Byleth coughed and that was enough. Twig turned around quickly and took a running start before launching himself into the air. Byleth felt relief flood through her as she watched Twig fly. Halfway across the chapel, she watched as Monica skipped across the field and towards Jeralt. Instead of apprehension, Byleth felt relief as she sagged against Edelgard's body.
"Why do you want Twig to pick up your father-" Edelgard caught herself off as she caught sight of Monica. "...So that was Monica we saw earlier...what is she doing?" Byleth only grunted as she watched Monica get closer and closer. A moment later Jeralt let out a horrified scream and Byleth couldn't help but smile weakly as she watched Twig take a hold of him and lift him up into the air, out of harm's way!
The Professor didn't stay conscience for much longer after that.
Chapter 11: Torn
Five days have past since the battle at the abandoned chapel and Byleth finds herself torn in two.
Oof it's been a week since my last upload and I apologize very much! I did mean to upload this chapter yesterday and of course the week before but somethings came up and I couldn't. Hopefully you folks enjoy this chapter!
“Well, despite the constant nosebleeds you seem perfectly healthy,” Manuela chirped as she carefully tilted Byleth’s head back and pressed a towel to her currently bleeding nose. Both Professor’s were in Manuela’s clinic, Byleth sitting on the edge of her cot and Manuela standing in front of her.
“But why does my nose keep bleeding?” Byleth asked because she thought it would be something Manuela expected to be asked. She had a feeling that she knew the answer, she had Divine Pulsed one too many times and pushed the limit, these nose bleeds were probably just a nasty side effect of that. At least that was her theory, she wished she could run it by Manuela but for obvious reasons couldn’t.
“I’m not sure but you don't seem to be dying,” Manuela said as she took a step away from Byleth. The younger Professor frowned at the response. “So, in my Professional opinion I think you're fine to leave and go back to your day to day activities.” Byleth sighed and for a second expected to hear a quip from Sothis. When none came Byleth felt her stomach twist.
“The response isn’t too reassuring,” Jeralt huffed. He was laying, propped up in his cot across from the one his daughter was sitting on. For the past five days, since last Sunday, both he and Byleth along with the three students Twig had saved had been in Manuela’s clinic recovering from their wounds or in Byleth’s case her exhaustion.
“Well it’s the best one you’re getting,” Manuela said as she took Byleth’s left hand and pressed it against her new towel. “You can’t laze around here forever Professor, you need to start teaching again.”
“I’m not sure I would call this lazing around Manuela,” Byleth said feeling the need to defend herself a little. “I’m trying to recover from our last mission.”
“I hate to break to you kid but you’ve been recovered for the past two days,” Manuela said truthfully. “It’s time you head out and start teaching again.”
“But Manuela-” Byleth began only to have Manuela raise her hand up to cut the younger woman off.
“You can’t hide here forever, some wounds you can’t heal with magic or a potion,” Manuela said with a soft smile. “Now I am discharging you and giving you a clean bill of health and I’ll make sure to let Lady Rhea and Seteth will be the first to get the news,” Manuela added with a wink.
“Okay,” Byleth said gently. “Can I at least wait out my nose bleed?” Manuela frowned as folded her hands in front of her stomach.
“Very well but after that it’s time to leave,” Manuela said softly. “Now I’m off to update Lady Rhea on your current condition, I’ll be back later...but try not to be here when I came back.” Manuela suggested before heading out of the clinic.
“Well, there’s certainly something to be said about her bedside manner,” Jeralt grunted once Manuela had left.
“Yeah,” Byleth said with a frown as she kept her eyes peeled on the ceiling.
“At least you get to get out of this depressing little clinic,” Jeralt said turning his gaze on Byleth. “Someone of us aren’t afforded such a luxury.” Byleth made no comment and began to feel uncomfortable under her father’s heavy gaze.
“You’ll be out soon enough,” Byleth said softly because she was unsure of what else to say. Things between her and Jeralt had been tense since last Sunday. The whole reason that Jeralt was in the clinic was technically her fault, the same could be said for the students she had Twig lift into the air and take away from the battlefield. All four of them suffered from the same injury. Twig had left three identical gashes on their shoulders, their wounds were slowly healing but they couldn’t move their arms or move much in general without feeling horrible pain.
The students themselves were grateful to have escaped with their lives. Jeralt on the other hand was resentful.
“Soon?” Jeralt grunted again as he turned his head away from Byleth, wincing as he did so. “I shouldn’t be here at all and you know that.” Byleth stayed quiet knowing she couldn't say anymore. She had no way of explaining herself without sounding crazy.
She had tried when she and Jeralt had first spoken after what happened during their mission. She had tried to tell her father that she had seen Monica with a knife going after him. Jeralt however had his back turned towards Monica and no one else had seen her! From what Byleth could figure, Monica had managed to slip away in all the comotin that followed Byleth giving Twig the order to pick her father up.
“I don't care what you say dad, I did the right thing.” Byleth said softly. “I-” her voice broke for a moment as she held back what she wanted to say. “I watched you die two times and I couldn’t watch you die again...not when I had the power to save you.” Byleth thought to herself.
If only she could tell her father that. If only she could tell anyone that but who would believe she had the power to Divine Pulse? Or that she had Sothis living in her head? It would only create more problems and Byleth currently had enough to deal with. She would just have to weather this storm and wait for her father to forgive her.
“You what?” Jeralt asked.
“I love you,” Byleth said softly. Jeralt snorted and dropped his eyes to his lap, he let an unbearable silence lapse between them as he thought of his next words, he had so many.
“Yeah I love you to,” Jeralt finally said. “Even though sometimes I think your decisions are questionable.”
“My room smells horrible,” Byleth said softly, she found herself frowning when she didn't get the snarky remark in her head that she was waiting for.
"Sothis...are you sleeping?” Byleth wondered but the moment she asked the goddess the question she felt foolish. “If she’s sleeping, she won’t answer me back will she?” Byleth thought with a shake of her head.
Byleth, who still had her bloody towel held up to her nose moved further into her bedroom. The vomit had been cleaned up but still the smell lingered. Pinching her nose Byleth moved around her room to start gathering some of her things. A few fresh changes of clothes, her toiletries, and a few other necessary supplies she would need. Grabbing a small knapsack she packed a few things away before throwing it over her shoulder. She moved towards her bedroom door but stopped herself as a thought occurred to her. Turning around she moved to her desk and threw open the top drawer.
She quickly grabbed Jeralt’s journal, pleased to see it was undisturbed, and slipped it into her knapsack as well. Making her way out of her room she headed towards the second floor dorms. Jogging up the steps she made a Beeline for Edelgard’s door, It was around noon now and Edelgard would still be in class so she didn’t bother to knock.
Byleth slipped into Edelgard’s room and felt herself relaxing as she shut the door behind her. Despite everything that had happened between them, Edelgard and the spaces her presence filled always brought Byleth a degree of comfort and a feeling of safety. Byleth wasn’t sure if that was right or not, all things considering, but it was how she felt and she wasn’t sure she could change it- or if she wanted to.
Sighing softly, Byleth gently placed her knapsack beside the door and kicked off her shoes. Moving to Edelgard’s bed she carefully lowered herself onto it before laying down. Staring up at the ceiling Byleth found herself feeling conflicted as she had been since last Saturday night, even more so now after what happened at the abandoned chapel. So many questions were nagging at her but one weighed more heavily on her than the others.
“Did Edelgard know what was happening at the abandoned chapel?” Byleth thought to herself. “Monica was there...what she did to dad...she had to have had something to do with what happened to my students. Edelgard and Monica spend so much time together, could Monica be apart of that group Edelgard is connected with…” Byleth scowled as she felt anger begin to fill her at the memory of Emil’s lifeless face in her hands. Anger at whoever was responsible for torturing and mutilating her students until they were feral beasts.
“It has to be Monica who was responsible it has to!” Byleth thought angrily. “But when we were riding Twig together, Edelgard seemed shocked to see her there.” Byleth thought again baulking at her own...thoughts.
“But maybe she was just acting? Maybe she was pretending?”
“Or maybe she wasn’t, maybe she had no idea?” Byleth thought once more. “She said she wasn't responsible any of the things that her secret group took part in.” “But maybe that was a lie in an of itself...why would she be honest about something like that?” “But why would she tell me she was the Flame Emperor then? She’s trying to be honest with me...wouldn’t she tell me the whole truth?”
“Or maybe she’s just giving me some of the truth to placate me…” Byleth let out a frustrated scream as she glared up at the ceiling. She felt so lost and confused, so torn. Was Edelgard involved in this or was she innocent? And how on earth would Byleth ever find out the truth, how could she trust if Edelgard was laying to her or telling her the truth.
"I guess I'm going to have to trust me own instinct," Byleth finally said to herself. "I just hope I'm not wrong."
Chapter 12: tête-à-tête
Byleth and Edelgard finally have their unfinished conversation.
It was dark out when Edelgard finally came back. Byleth hadn’t managed to get any rest, her mind far too restless with thoughts of Edelgard, Sothis, and just about everything else that had been going on. Byleth was so lost in thought she didn’t hear the door handle twist or slowly open. It wasn’t until Edelgard shut the door that Byleth was pulled from her mind. Byleth blushed gently as she pushed herself up to her elbows.
“Hi,” Byleth said softly as she looked up at her girlfriend. Edelgard had leaned back against the bedroom door and was looking down at Byleth with raised brows and a bit of a teasing smile.
“Hello,” Edelgard said softly as she crossed her arms across her chest. “I was wondering where you slipped off to, I went to the infirmary after class today and you weren’t there. Jeralt said you got discharged.”
“Yeah,” Byleth said with a nod. “I’m still getting nosebleeds but Manuela said I would be okay to leave."
“I’m glad,” Edelgard said.
“I’m sure you are, I'll be lecturing class again tomorrow.” Byleth said with a soft smile, her heart was hammering against her chest and every few seconds her throat would clench against her will as her nerves began to build. “When Ingrid and Dorotha stopped by earlier in the week all they could do was complain about how boring Professor Hanneman's lectures are.”
“Oh Hanneman isn’t too bad,” Edelgard said causing Byleth to chuckle, she had a feeling Edelgard would defend her substitute. “I’m glad he filled in for you and not Manuela, well there was that one day she had to fill in for him because he needed a bit of a break from our class.”
“Oh?” Byleth asked surprised to hear Edelgard say something like that. “Has the class been acting up in my absence?”
“Not any more than usual,” Edelgard said with a shrug. “But sometimes our version of tame can be a lot to take for people who aren’t us.” Edelgard added with a small smile. Byleth nodded and felt her stomach begin to turn uncomfortably as their words fell away and the silence between them grew.
Until this moment the tension between them had taken a bit of a break. With the heavy loss they were dealt on Sunday and Byleth being in the clinic recovering they had gone into a state of suspension. They had both turned their heads away from the conversation they needed to have while they attempted to recover and so for the past few days, the two had been moving around one another like normal. Or, at least as normal as they could be around other people.
However, now it was clear things had shifted and their momentary reprieve had ended. The tension between them was growing steadily and as the silence grew along with it, they both knew they could no longer turn their heads to the conversation they had yet to finish. And Byleth knew she could no longer stay silent about the thoughts she was having.
“How long have you been here?” Edelgard asked finally breaking the silence.
“A while now,” Byleth said softly. “I didn’t want to stay in my room.”
“Because it smells like vomit?” Edelgard asked in an attempt to lighten the mood but the words came out flat and lifeless.
“That’s certainly part of the reason,” Byleth said. “But...I didn’t want to be alone and I figured there are still many things we need to talk about.”
“That we do,” Edelgard agreed. Byleth took in a deep, calming breath and dropped her eyes for a moment.
“Before we finish our conversation about your...plans, I need to know something,” Byleth said softly as she pushed herself up so she was fully sitting up. Taking in another deep breath she steeled herself over. “Monica was there at the abandoned chapel, I saw her and I know somehow she’s responsible for what happened to my students.”
“How do you know that?” Edelgard asked.
“Because she-” Byleth stopped herself, knowing that she couldn’t tell Edelgard exactly what had happened during their battle on Sunday. “Because I know Edelgard, you’ll just have to trust me.” Byleth said softly causing Edelgard to frown. She said nothing however as she listened to Byleth.
“I need to know if Monica is apart of...she is one of...your group? Is Monica apart of your group?” Byleth was flustered by the time she finished speaking and her stomach was now twisting painfully as she watched Edelgard waiting for her to answer.
“She is,” Edelgard finally said, confirming Byleth’s fears. The Professor let out a shaky breath as she ran her fingers through her hair. “But I swear to you Byleth I had no idea what she was doing out there, if I had I would have stopped her.” Byleth squeezed her eyes shut as Edelgard spoke to her.
“You’re saying you had nothing to do with this?” Byleth whispered trying her best to remain calm and not give into her emotions.
“I swear,” Edelgard said once more. Another silence fell between them as Byleth attempted to gather her thoughts. If she slipped now she knew she would lose complete control over the conversation.
“You said you didn’t kidnapped Flayn,” Byleth said her voice coming out gravelly as she spoke.
“Because I didn’t,” Edelgard said.
“And you said you weren’t responsabile for us going in and fighting The Death Knight, you said you had nothing to do with Remire Village either,” Byleth continued as if Edelgard hadn’t spoken at all. “Now you’re saying that you had no idea what Monica was doing.”
“All of that is true,” Edelgard said fiercely feeling herself becoming defensive. “I know what you’re thinking Byleth but it isn’t like I’m involved in their schemes and plots, not when it doesn’t directly involve my own schemes and plots, you have to believe me that if I knew Monica would...I would have stopped her.”
“How do I know that’s true?” Byleth demanded finally bringing her eyes down to meet her lovers.
“You’ll just have to trust me,” Edelgard said echoing Byleth’s words from a few moments earlier. “And trust that I’m not just a monster that is involved with these people for the hell of it, I’m trying to create a better world- a fair an equal world that isn’t being suffocated underneath the thumb of the church.”
“Archbishop Rhea...she isn’t like you and I Byleth,” Edelgard said pushing herself off the door and moving to sit on the edge of her bed. “She isn’t human Byleth, she’s a monster whose been alive for countless millennia ruling over the world of men. You saw what happened to those in the Western Church how easily she gave the order to have them killed, how many more do you think met the same fate?”
“Can you fathom what I’m saying to you Byleth?” Edelgard demanded as she watched a look of shock take a hold of her lover. “Can you fathom how much blood of innocent people have been spilled so that Lady Rhea can maintain that ill begotten power? So that she can maintain the status quo of the church?”
“How do you know this?” Byleth asked suddenly feeling as if she and Edelgard had switched positions. She wanted to tell Edelgard she sounded crazy but had to hold her tongue. Considering her own circumstances she had no room to talk.
“This information is passed down from Emperor to Emperor in Adrestia,” Edelgard said softly. “The first Emperor, a coward that I am unfortunately descended from, made a deal with Rhea and her ilk. He would become the Emperor of Fódlan and in exchange he would let Rhea truly rule from the shadows.” Byleth let out a shaky breath at Edelgard’s words, letting them sink in.
“If Rhea isn’t a human...then what is she?” Byleth finally asked. Edelgard’s face stayed passive at the question but Byleth could see the shock in her eyes. Byleth was sure that Edelgard wasn’t prepared for Byleth to believe her so easily.
“Her true form is that of a fearsome dragon called the Immaculate one,” Edelgard said swallowing hard after she spoke.
“What,” Byleth whispered her eyes going wide.
“I know it’s hard to believe,” Edelgard began as she watched Byleth fall back against her pillows.
“I can’t believe this,” Byleth said to herself.
“I know but I promise I’m telling you the truth,” Edelgard said quickly. “Please believe me I wouldn’t be doing this, starting a war and working with those people if I didn’t have a good reason.” Byleth shook her head as she turned back to Edelgard.
“Do you remember when you told me that Claude walked into our room and caught you in my bed?” Byleth asked speaking as if Edelgard hadn't said anything and once more took Edelgard by surprise.
“He needed to show me something Edelgard!” Byleth said quickly. “That day before we had been doing research trying to find information on the Immaculate One.” Edelgard’s eyes went wide and mouth fell open.
“How did you two find out about her?” Edelgard demanded.
“Well we didn’t know that it was Rhea at the time,” Byleth said. “Claude was in the library and I stumbled upon him looking over a picture of a dragon, the paper was titled ‘The Immaculate One’ Claude and I were discussing it when Seteth came over and took the picture from us.”
“Why was something like that in the library?” Edelgard demanded.
“I have no idea,” Byleth said with a shrug. “But Claude and I began looking to see if we could find anything else.”
“So he thought he found something when he caught us?” Edelgard asked. “Did he?”
“No,” Byleth said with a shake of her head. “Just a children’s story.”
“Idiot,” Edelgard said under her breath. Byleth shook her head, her mind now racing faster now. Edelgard turned to look at Byleth and winced. “Sweet Pea,” she said gently as she pulled out a handkerchief and leaned forward to press it against Byleth’s bleeding nose.
“Damn,” Byleth said softly. “I didn’t even notice,” she added sheepishly as she took the handkerchief from Edelgard and kept the pressure against her nose.
“What are you thinking?” Edelgard asked after a moment or two.
“I don't know,” Byleth said honestly. Never in a million years had she thought their conversation would end up here. "I think...I understand a little bit better now of why you want to start a war but…” Byleth trailed off and Edelgard turned her head.
“You can’t support me,” Edelgard whispered.
“I don't know,” again it was an honest answer. “I know you, so I know damn well I can’t talk you out of starting a war but I also know that if I join you it means going against my students and I...I can’t kill another student Edelgard it will break me.”
“I know,” Edelgard said as she reached forward and took Byleth’s free hand in her own. She watched with a breaking heart as tears began to well in Byleth eyes. “But you have to know that if you stay here and side with Rhea then you’re against me and either way you’ll have to battle against your students...against me.”
“I don't want that,” Byleth said softly tears running down her cheeks.
“Neither do I,” Edelgard said. “But I’m not sure if you have any other choice.” Byleth squeezed her eyes shut and turned her head away from Edelgard.
“That’s not true,” Sothis said suddenly causing Byleth’s eyes to fly open. “There’s another option she’s not considering.”
“Sothis?!” Byleth said completely astonished by the goddess sudden reappearance. She was so shocked that she forget where she was and who she was with. “Where have you been?” She demanded causing Edelgard to frown.
“Sleeping idiot,” Sothis snapped. “With that little stunt you pulled I’m shocked I woke up at all!” Byleth frowned and shook her head.
“I’m sorry I went against what you said but I couldn't watch my father die...I had to save him,” Byleth said.
“Tell me the sob story later,” Sothis quipped. “We have bigger fish to fry at the moment. I’ve been listening to this conversation very carefully.”
“And?” Byleth asked her heart picking up speed once more, anxious to hear what Sothis was going to say.
“Lover girl is trying to pin you into a corner by giving you two options as if you don't have three,” Sothis said.
“A third option?” Byleth asked. "What?"
“Easy where do you think Edelgard is going to sleep tonight?” Sothis asked and then immediately answered before Byleth could consider the question. “Right beside you correct?”
“Of course,” Byleth said.
“So wait until she falls asleep and then put a pillow over her head and smoother her, problem solved,” Sothis said as if she was reporting back the weather. Byleth scowled as she felt her anger begin to rise at the suggestion.
“I thought you were going to give me a real suggestion!” Byleth snapped.
“That-” Byleth was cut off by two hands slapping her cheeks- hard . Byleth jumped and turned to look at Edelgard with a look of pure horror. Edelgard was looking at her with a look of confusion and fear.
“She’s looking at me as if she just heard our whole conversation,” Byleth thought as she looked down at Edelgard's worried face.
“I think that look is from hearing just half of it,” Sothis whispered.
“You’re talking to yourself again,” Edelgard said her voice quivering as she spoke.
“Again?” Byleth asked with a frown. Edelgard looked like the question was ready to make her cry.
“You asked me to be honest with you Sweet Pea,” Edelgard said softly as she began to rub her thumbs against Byleth’s cheeks. “It’s time you start being honest with me now, what's going on in your head?”
Chapter 13: Byleth's Confessions
The tables have turned and it's time for Byleth to finally tell Edelgard some truths of her own.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
“What’s going on in that head of yours?” Edelgard asked again when Byleth didn’t speak right away. Reaching forward Edelgard began to gently brush the tips of her fingers along Byleth’s forehead and pushing her bangs out of her eyes. “You’ve asked me to be truthful with you and I’ve laid it all on the table, it’s your turn to do the same.”
“Shit what do I do?” Byleth asked Sothis as she looked down at Edelgard with wide, fearful eyes. “I can’t tell her the truth, she’ll think I’m crazy!”
“Relax moron, the Flame Emperor just told you that Lady Rhea is an evil dragon and she plans waging war on all of Fódlan.” Sothis said in a less than reassuring voice. “I’m not so sure that having me inside of your head is going to be too unbelievable.” Byleth squeezed her eyes shut tightly as she began to rub her forehead.
“You have no idea,” Byleth sighed as she finally answered Edelgard’s question. “I just...even after everything I don't want you to think I’m crazy.”
“Tell me and let me decide for myself,” Edelgard said. “It’s only fair that we’re both being truthful.”
“I know, I know,” Byleth said before swallowing hardly and opening her eyes. In her quest to get Edelgard to be more truthful with her she hadn’t even considered telling Edelgard about Sothis. The thought had never once crossed her mind.
“Hypocrite,” Sothis whispered harshly.
“Shut up you bridge troll!” Byleth shot back. “Can you be quiet while we speak?”
“Hey this conversation is about me!” Sothis said with indignation. “I should be allowed to make some comments.”
“Can you make the comments after our conversation?” Byleth asked. Sothis didn’t say anything and for now Byleth had to push what Sothis silence meant out of her mind. Edelgard was looking at her with hard expecting eyes and waiting for something.
“It’s complicated and a little unbelievable,” Byleth finally began. “I don't know how long you’ve noticed but I do tend to talk to myself quite a bit.”
“I’ve noticed a lot, especially recently,” Edelgard said softly. “That and I’ve noticed you tend to hit your head a lot, like your trying to get a particular thought to stop...or a voice.” She said gravely. Byleth blushed as she turned her eyes down to her lap.
“I’m not exactly talking to myself,” Byleth admitted causing Edelgard’s eyes to widen. “But before you jump to conclusions and try to get me committed to some kind of asylum hear me out!”
“I am,” Edelgard said gently. Byleth remained quiet for a few moments as she collected herself.
“I have a...voice that lives inside of my head,” Byleth finally said. “Well maybe voice isn’t the best way to describe her...it’s just that most of the time I only ever hear her voice.”
“Her?” Edelgard asked.
“Right...I have the-”
“Essence,” Sothis suggested.
“Essence?” Byleth questioned.
“Essence of what?” Edelgard asked as she watched Byleth closely. She could see that Byleth looked confused as well and if apart of her seemed to be...somewhere else.
“The essence of the goddess,” Byleth’s voice shook as she spoke the words. Edelgard’s eyebrows almost shoot off her forehead at what Byleth was saying.
“The goddess?” Edelgard said faintly.
“The goddess,” Byleth confirmed. “Sothis.”
“Fuck off,” Byleth hissed. She tensed when she heard Sothis chuckle, as if this was all some kind of joke. Byleth remained quiet however as she finally picked her eyes up to look at Edelgard. Her girlfriend looked completely gobsmacked at Byleth’s confession. Edelgard cleared her throat before speaking again.
“Let me...let me understand what you’re saying,” Edelgard began. “You th- you’re saying to me that you have the goddess Sothis living in your head?”
“Yes.” Byleth said with a nod.
“How?” Edelgard asked her brows scrunching together as she fully absorbed what Byleth was saying to her.
“There’s a lot of room to rent up here,” Sothis said gleefully.
“Oh my-” Byleth cut herself off before she could exploded at the goddess. She felt pulled in two different directions. She was horribly annoyed with Sothis and her petty comments and fearful at the look on Edelgard’s face.
“I don't know how or why she’s here,” Byleth said honestly once she calmed down enough to speak. “Before I started to hear her voice in my head and became aware of her presence I would have dreams about her but I never realized she was the goddess or that she was living in my head.”
“So when did you find out about her...the goddess living in your head?” Edelgard asked.
“The night I meet you and the boys actually,” Byleth explained. “More specifically when we were fighting the bandits and I stepped out in front of you to stop their leader from striking you.”
“She started to speak to you then?” Edelgard questioned.
“Yeah see...well having the goddess in my head provides me with more than just a little headache,” Byleth said causing Edelgard to smile faintly. “She gives me the power to turn back time and when I stepped out in front of you I didn’t do it in time and if I didn’t have Sothis I would have been killed.”
“That moment that I was struck down is when Sothis intervened she began to speak to me and gave me the power to turn back time,” Byleth added. Edelgard said nothing for a long time as she just stared at Byleth. The imperial princess was speechless and looked as Byleth could have knocked her over with a feather.
“I don't know what to say,” Edelgard finally admitted after Byleth gave her a pleading look. “Out of all the theories I came up with as to why you speak with yourself this...it was never within the same realm of what I thought of.”
“I understand,” Byleth said before laughing nervously. “I feel much the same way about the things you've told me.”
“Yeah,” Edelgard said laughing nervously herself. “So you have the goddess in your head and you have no idea why...she also gives you the power to turn back time. Do you do it often?” Edelgard asked.
“Only when we’re in battle,” Byleth said. “Like last Sunday, the reason I knew that Monica was there was because she...she tried to kill my father. She stabbed him in the back and I had to turn back time to stop her, it took me three times before I was able to.”
“Really?” Edelgard asked astonished.
“I watched her kill him three times...it would have been four if I didn’t have Twig lift him into the air,” Byleth said gently. “That’s why I was in Manuela’s clinic for so long, I pushed myself past the point of exhaustion and Divine Pulsed too many times.”
“Spirits that sounds awful, to watch your father die so many times,” Edelgard shook her head as she spoke. “I couldn’t even imagine.”
“Sothis was angry because I Divine Pulsed past my limit but...I couldn’t sit by and watch Jeralt die,” Byleth said causing Edelgard to nod.
“I would have done the same,” Edelgard promised. “You did the right thing.” Reaching forward Edelgard wrapped her arms around Byleth’s neck and pulled her into a tight hug.
“You’re both idiots,” Sothis said but Byleth wasn’t paying attention to her.
“So you don't think I’m insane?” Byleth asked when they pulled away from one another.
“Well considering everything that I’ve told you...no,” Edelgard said with a shake of her head. “It’s shocking but I believe you.” Byleth completely relaxed and found herself smiling widely at Edelgard’s words.
“So you call this power Divine Pulse, does that mean you can only go back in short periods of time?” Edelgard asked.
“Well so far I’ve only gone back in short periods of time but I actually have no idea how far back in time I can go,” Byleth said as she leaned back against Edelgard’s pillows. “When I’m not physically and emotional exhausted I can go back more than just three times.”
“I see,” Edelgard said. “What an incredibly strong power. What’s the most times you’ve been able to go back?”
“During our fight with the Death Knight I had to go back nine times,” Byleth said. “That was pushing it though but still it didn’t drain me as much as what I did last Sunday. I never pushed that power so far, I’m not sure what would have happened if I kept going.”
“Don't think too much about it right now,” Edelgard suggested.
“Just next time you fight,” Sothis advised.
“If you had to go back nine times does that mean a lot of our classmates died during that battle?” Edelgard asked hesitantly.
“Not a lot,” Byleth said with a sad look. “Lindhart got killed many times because he was our healer therefore the biggest target, he usually is during a battle, and Bernadetta because she was the strongest archer we had, everyone else was able to survive without me intervening.”
“So when you go back to use a Divine Pulse it’s always to save someone’s life?” Edelgard asked with a frown.
“In both a direct and indirect way yes,” Byleth said with a nod.
“Divine Pulse is a strong power but it comes with a large drawback it sounds like,” Edelgard said thoughtfully. “You have the power to save the people you love but in the process, you have to watch them die at least once if not multiple times.”
“Even after I save them the image still sticks with me,” Byleth said sadly. Edelgard nodded before pulling Byleth back into a tight hug. The two held each other for sometime before Edelgard pulled back.
“I feel exhausted,” Byleth said with a small smile. “Our conversation...it was a lot.” Edelgard nodded in agreement.
“I still have some questions but maybe they would be better to talk about in the morning,” Edelgard said and as she spoke she pushed herself off her bed and moved to her wardrobe.
“Agreed,” Byleth said distractedly as she watched Edelgard begin to undress. “I still have things I want to ask you,” she added a blush coloring her cheeks as she turned away from Edelgard.
“Sounds like a date,” Edelgard said with a yawn as she slipped on her nightgown before heading back over to the bed and curling up to Byleth's side. “Goodnight Byleth.”
“Goodnight,” Byleth said back as she leant down to drop a kiss on the top of Edelgard’s head.
“So, now what?” Sothis asked. “You’re all curled up with her, does that mean you accept her as the Flame Emperor and her want to start a war?”
“The truth?” Byleth asked as she stared up at the ceiling.
“I can handle it,” Sothis said back.
“I don't know,” Byleth admitted as she tightened her grip around Edelgard. Sothis thought perhaps that was answer enough.
The ending there had a little reference to Big Trouble In Little China. Hope you folks enjoyed the chapter!
Chapter 14: All Roads Lead Back to Rhea
Byleth and Sothis read Jeralt's journal in the middle of the night.
A loud ear shattering roar split through the night sky. Above Byleth a giant white dragon loomed over her with its mouth wide open, from its maw came a bright blinding light. Byleth was rooted in place as she looked up at the monster above.
“You will not be forgiven!” A voice echoed out from all around.
Byleth’s eyes snapped open as she woke up from her dream. Her heart was slamming against her chest as she rolled over on her back. Byleth was not surprised to see the other side of the bed empty. It was still dark out and Byleth had no doubt that Edelgard had taken a walk to clear her head of her nightmares.
Byleth shut her eyes for a moment and thought about her own dream. A shiver ran down her spine as she thought about the dragon and the strong voice that echoed throughout the battlefield.
“The Immaculate One...is that what Rhea really looks like under all that...human?” Byleth asked herself as she thought back to the picture she and Claude had found in the library, she briefly wondered what Claude would say if he was privy to the information that Edelgard had shared with her.
Byleth pushed the thought of her mind quickly however and rolled over onto her side. She attempted to go back to sleep but found quickly that it eluded her. Letting out an annoyed huff Byleth got out of bed and began to walk around the room.
“If you had actually been working instead of hiding in Manuela’s Clinic then you would be able to distract yourself with grading papers,” Sothis pointed out.
“You got me there,” Byleth said with a sigh. Byleth began to move around the room and examine objects she had seen a hundred times before trying to distract herself until Edelgard came back.
“Hey maybe you should get some reading material to help you fall asleep,” Sothis suggested.
“Oh yeah, Edelgard does have a lot of books in here,” Byleth said as she turned her head to the stack sitting on the corner of her desk.
“No, no not those, let’s read something interesting- like Jeralt’s journal.” Sothis whispered in a conspiring tone.
“Oh right,” Byleth muttered before moving over to the bag of things she had brought from her room. “After everything Edelgard and I talked about, I completely forgot,” Byleth said as she fished her father’s journal out of her bag.
“I’ve been interested to see what was in this since we took it,” Sothis said gleefully as Byleth took a seat on the edge of the bed.
“I haven't,” Byleth said with a frown. “I wish I hadn’t taken it in the first place.”
“Why?” Sothis asked.
“I don't know, I feel guilty,” Byleth said as she turned the journal around in her hands. She had come across the journal after investigating weird noises coming from Jeralt’s office. She had found the journal on the floor wide open and had swiped it without much thought.
Byleth couldn’t deny she had been curious at the time and in a worked up state after her fight with Claude, leading her into making a questionable decision.
“You haven’t given it back to your father yet,” Sothis pointed out.
“Well how can I?” Byleth asked with a blush. “I would have to admit to stealing it in the first place and even if I don't read what’s inside of it you know he’ll never believe that I didn't.”
“So then let’s read it!” Sothis said. "Besides no matter what you say you still decided to bring it from your room to Edelgard's."
“I know, I know but when I have a kid I wouldn’t want them reading my journal. What if we run into something...not meant for our eyes?” Byleth asked.
“Unless we’re Jeralt none of this is meant for our eyes,” Sothis pointed out. “Plus if he’s going to think we read it in the first place we might as well read it anyway!”
“That seems like flawed logic,” Byleth said with a frown as she began to open the book. “But I guess I can’t pretend like I’m not interested to know what’s inside...what if there’s information about my mother in it?”
“Then come on...let’s get on with it!” Sothis said. Byleth nodded and began to flip through the pages of the journal.
“Look how much is here, my father must have been writing in this for a long time.” Byleth muttered as she ran her fingers over the yellowed pages.
“Your father’s handwriting it a lot prettier than I would have thought- oh wait- stop there, read that part Horsebow Moon, Year 1159…”
“Okay. Day 20 of the Horsebow Moon. All is cloudy. I can’t believe she’s dead…” Byleth trailed off as she read the second sentence. “He must be talking about my mother...Lady Rhea said she died during childbirth...But is that the truth?”
“Why would my father doubt that?” Byleth asked as she read the question over a second time.
“Jeralt has always seemed uneasy of Rhea, I know this must be hard to read but let’s keep reading.” Sothis said gently. Byleth nodded and continued to read on.
“And still, the child she traded her life for doesn’t make a sound. Didn’t even cry at birth. The next passage says: Day 25 of the Horsebow Moon. It’s raining. The baby doesn’t laugh or cry. Not ever. Lady Rhea says not to worry, but a baby that doesn’t cry...that isn’t natural. I had a doctor examine the child in secret. He said the pulse is normal, but there’s no heartbeat. No heartbeat!”
“A pulse but...no heartbeat? How could that possibly be?” Sothis asked. “How could you have blood pumping through your veins and arteries with no heartbeat to pump it?”
“I don't know...but it seems that I was an unsettling child,” Byleth said with a frown. “I didn’t cry...or even smile…”
“Go on keep reading.”
“Right. Day 2 of the Wyvern Moon. Sunny. I feel I must take the child and leave. But the Church is always watching us...I don't know what Lady Rhea has planned. I used to think the world of Lady Rhea. Now I’m terrified of her.” Byleth out a shaky breath as she finished the passage. “I’m starting to share my father’s sentiment.”
“Day 8 of the Wyvern Moon. More rain. I used the fire that broke out last night as to fake the child’s death. Lady Rhea is in a state over the news. But I can’t change what I’ve done, I’ve got to take the child and leave…”
“Your father faked your death! My I wonder what Lady Rhea must have been thinking when you appeared all these years later,” Sothis said astonished. “What is her connection to you?”
“More importantly what did my father suspect her connection to me was?” Byleth asked with wide eyes. “He was so frightened that he had to fake my death and go into hiding. He never told me anything about the Church, not much about Fódlan either or its history, he never even told me my mother’s name...now I know why!”
“He was trying to keep you in the dark to hide you away from Rhea,” Sothis said. “Your father doesn’t seem like a man who shakes easily either.”
“It kind of makes me feel as though Edelgard was right,” Byleth said with a frown. “Everything about Rhea...is she truly the monster Edelgard paints her out to be?”
“I think you already believed Edelgard before you read these entries,” Sothis said. “Or at least were willing to go along with her...but I must admit reading this does raise some questions about the Archbishop.”
“Do you think perhaps...maybe this is all far fetched...but maybe Lady Rhea is tied to the reason you’re in my head,” Byleth said with a slight frown. “I mean she is the Archbishop of the religion that dedicates itself to you, she delivered me perhaps back then it wasn’t an odd occurrence but in all the time I’ve been here I’ve never heard of Rhea delivering a baby.”
“Plus it seems like she was heavily involved in my mother’s pregnancy and when I died- or when she thought I did, she was in a state over it.” Byleth said her words becoming more confident as she spoke. "And why was the Church always watching my father and I? Why was I so important?"
“But you have to remember Lady Rhea expressed that she was always grateful to Jeralt for saving her life way back all those years ago, when he wrote this he would have been the Captain of the Knights of Serios, and he said he used to think the world of her. They were probably once close friends- wouldn’t it make sense that she was involved to ensure her dear friends wife had a safe pregnancy and childbirth?” Sothis asked.
“Well she failed,” Byleth said.
“How? Are you not here alive and well?”
“But my mother isn’t.” Byleth snapped. “And Rhea isn’t a healer as far as I know, nor is she a midwife or a doctor.”
“If Edelgard is to be believed Rhea is a being with immense magical power that has lived a few thousand years now, I’m sure she’s well versed in all the schools of magic,” Sothis said.
“Yeah you’re probably right and I bet she would know how to make an infant into a host for her goddess.” Byleth shot back.
“But why? What would the point of that be?”
“I don't know. That’s the problem! There’s so much we don't know and yet so many things happening at once,” Byleth said with a frustrated huff. “How are you in my head in the first place? It all has to tie back to these journal entries, in some way shape or form we're all tied to Rhea- my parents, you, me...even Edelgard,” Byleth said with a shake of her head.
“Alright fine so maybe Lady Rhea did place me within you, that’s no reason to take up arms and join in a war,” Sothis said hotly, seeing clearly where Byleth’s line of thinking was going.
“No her putting you in my head isn’t a reason to take up arms against her- but the why just might be,” Byleth said as she pushed herself to her feet. “And we’re going to find that why out come hell or high water.”
“You’re just going to go right up and ask her?” Sothis asked completely astonished.
“Not yet,” Byleth said. “First we need to go and talk to my father.”
“You’re going to admit to stealing then?”
“I have to,” Byleth said as she headed for the bedroom door. “This is bigger than me taking his journal and reading it Sothis- you know as well as I do what this all is going to lead to. What this all has been leading to since Edelgard told us about her plans.”
“And what if Rhea had a perfectly good reason?” Sothis demanded as Byleth slipped out of Edelgard’s room. “What if you agree with her?”
“Then that will only make things that much harder.” Byleth said before heading down the hallway.
Chapter 15: The Break of Dawn
A conversation is had about what was revealed in Jeralt's journal.
Dawn was just beginning to break when Byleth crept down the hallway that lead to Manuela’s clinic. Poking her head into the room, Byleth found that everyone within it was sound asleep. Byleth was careful as she walked across the wooden floors, wincing everytime she stepped on an old creaky floor board.
As she came to a stop beside Jeralt’s cot, Byleth reached her hand out to grasp his shoulder. Before she could however, Jeralt opened his eyes and turned to look up at his daughter with an unimpressed look written across his face.
“You should be more quiet when you’re sneaking across a room,” Jeralt advised with a disapproving frown. His voice was raspy from just waking up and apart of Byleth felt guilty for disturbing his much needed rest. The last time Byleth was here Jeralt’s wounds from Twig were still healing slowly and he still wasn’t fully mobile.
“Folks are trying to rest and heal, what are you doing here so early anyway?” Jeralt asked with an annoyed huff. Byleth felt her heart begin to quickly beat against her chest and her knees felt weak at his question.
“He’s still pretty upset with me for having Twig pick him up,” Byleth thought sadly. “He’s going to completely lose it when he finds out I read his journal…” Byleth felt some of her nerves from a few moments ago begin to tighten as she felt her father’s glare on her. It didn’t help that for once, Sothis remained silent. It would be nice to not feel like she was about to jump into it headfirst alone.
“Cat got your tongue,” Jeralt demanded as quietly as one could. “Spit out whatever it is you gotta say.” Byleth blushed and dropped her eyes to her feet. Guilt began to well up in the pit of her stomach.
“I need to talk to you about something important,” Byleth finally said. She attempted to keep her voice down so as not to wake the others. They didn't need an audience for any conversation- least of all this one.
“So early in the morning?” Jeralt demanded. “Can’t this wait til later when I’m more awake and in slightly less pain?”
“No,” Byleth said softly though it took just about all of her courage to say as much. Byleth felt a rush of nerves as Jeralt narrowed his eyes at her.
“What’s going on?” He demanded. Byleth’s hands shook as she slowly lifted up Jeralt’s journal in lieu of saying the words out loud. Jeralt’s eyes went wide as he realized just exactly what his daughter was holding.
“Where did you get that?” He demanded.
“From your office,” Byleth admitted quickly. She felt a new wave of shame crash over her as her father gave her a disgusted look. Byleth felt stupid for rushing into this conversation. She should have given herself more time to prepare for it.
“You went into my office and went through my personal items?” He shouted completely outraged. Byleth watched as he winced in pain while all around them she heard the wounded students begin to stir.
“Please keep your voice down,” Byleth said swiftly. “Obviously I’ve read-”
“Oh obvious is it?!” Jeralt shouted once more. “How dare you! What gives you the right to go through my personal thoughts and feelings, first you put me in this infirmary and now you do something like this?! I swear child I have no idea what’s gotten into you!”
“I don't want to hear it give that back to me right now,” Jeralt demanded. Byleth hesitated as she grasped his journal tightly.
“We need to talk about some of the things I found in here,” Byleth said.
“Talk?!” Jeralt demanded. “Oh we need to talk alright but not what’s about the contents of my journal! The arrogance...Byleth I swear if I wasn't confined to this bed...” Jeralt’s tone was dangerous as he glared at his daughter.
“Don't you think I have the right to know about some of the things in here?” Byleth demanded. “The things about my mother-”
“Enough!” Jeralt bellowed making sure that anyone who might not be awake was now. “You have the right to my fist upside your head that’s about it! Now give that journal back to me right this instant!”
“Fine.” Byleth said as she handed the journal back over. Reaching out Jeralt snatched it from her hands. “You know eventually we’re going to have to speak about it. You’re going to have to tell me something about my past eventually.” Jeralt’s scowl deepened as he turned his attention away from his journal and turned a nasty glare towards Byleth once more.
“Don't speak to me that way,” Jeralt said. “Everything I’ve done I’ve done to protect you, maybe I could have- No! No! I’m not even going to explain myself!” He shouted. For a moment he had forgotten himself but he quickly remembered why this conversation had started.
“Enough just leave me alone,” Jeralt said as he turned his head away from Byleth. Byleth frowned and turned her head away from her father as well. Without another word Byleth turned and headed for the door. She could feel the eyes of all those who weren’t her father on her.
“Wait,” Jeralt called out causing Byleth to stop and turn around. She was unsure what Jeralt’s parting words would be but she had a feeling it would no doubt be a blow. “I...I need you to start being careful about the company you choose to keep.” He warned completely throwing Byleth for a loop.
“What?” She asked. “What does that have to do with anything we were talking about?” She demanded, feeling her own ire begin to grow.
“Everything. Now get out of my sight, I don't want to see you for sometime.” Jeralt said causing Byleth to flinch at his words. She said no more as she turned around and headed out of the infirmary.
Byleth was moving so fast that she almost ran right into Seteth! Reaching forward he placed his large hands on her shoulders to stop her.
“Watch it!” Seteth exclaimed though his tone quickly changed as he saw the look on Byleth’s face. “Is everything alright-”
“Yes,” she answered to quickly as she shook off his hands.
“Oh, well I’m glad I ran into you- almost literally,” he said softly. “I just got word from the Adrestian Empire. The parents of the fallen students plan on burying them within the week, Lady Rhea thought it appropriate to hold a ceremony for them on Saturday.” Byleth let out a small breath at the sudden news.
“That’s very kind of her,” Byleth said gently.
“Well I don't have to tell you that the Archbishop has taken an uncanny liking to you and by extension your class and the students within your house,” Seteth said. Byleth picked her head up quickly at his words as a thought quickly crossing her mind.
“Why is that Seteth? Do you know?” She asked, causing Seteth to scoff.
“Dear Professor, if I knew that, I could start sleeping peacefully again at night.” Seteth informed her. “Please pass the message to your students. The Black Eagles classes will be cancelled on Saturday for the service.” He said before turning his back to her and sweeping away.
Byleth found Edelgard at the wyvern pens only half an hour later. The professor wasn’t looking for her lover but wasn’t unhappy to see her either. Though she was intrigued by Edelgard’s unusual presence here.
“Edelgard, what are you doing here?” Byleth asked as she came to a stop by Edelgard’s side. “I would have thought you would back in your chambers by now.”
“I did head back there after my walk,” Edelgard said as she turned to Byleth. “You weren’t there though, I thought perhaps I could find you here after I exhausted all your other haunts.”
“Well here I am,” Byleth said stretching her arms out half heartedly before dropping them back to her side.
“I see,” Edelgard said frowning slightly at Byleth. “Where did you go?”
“To speak with my father.” Byleth said with a sigh.
“So early in the morning?” Edelgard asked. “Was he annoyed? Is that why you seem upset?” She asked as Byleth walked past her and towards Twig’s pen.
“Yes, yes, and a very big whopping yes.” Byleth said keeping her back towards Edelgard as they walked past the other pens. “We got into a fight but not because I woke him up so early in the morning.”
“So what was so pressing that you had to disturb your wounded father at the wee hours of the morning and cause a fight?” Edelgard asked her voice taking on a critical tone as she spoke. Byleth frowned and came to a stop so she could turn and finally look at Edelgard.
“I don't appreciate your tone,” Byleth informed her.
“Byleth,” Edelgard pressed causing the older woman to frown.
“I read his personal journal,” Byleth confessed causing Edelgard’s eyes to grow wide.
“What?” She asked with a frown. “You read his personal journal, why in the world would you do something like that? How did you even get it?”
“I took it from his office after my fight with Claude,” Byleth confessed as she leaned against the gate of an empty pen. “I guess...I...I just wanted to know what was in it! I’m not proud about reading it and I wish I hadn’t but...I did alright! And I needed to speak with him about what I found there.”
“What in the world could you have found in that journal that would make you do something like that?” Edelgard asked. Byleth sighed and turned to look at Edelgard with an unreadable look.
She wanted to tell Edelgard. In fact she felt as if she had to, yet at the same time she felt embarrassed about what she had found. What would Edelgard think of her when she found out about the odd circumstances of her birth?
“Darling,” Edelgard said gently as she reached forward and cupped Byleth’s cheek. “Tell me, please.” Byleth blushed and with an audible gulp nodded. Whatever Edelgard thought Byleth would just have to deal with it.
"Edelgard should know, shouldn’t she? " Byleth thought to herself. With a soft sigh Byleth began to explain to Edelgard everything that had happened.
“Basically, in the section of the journal I read my father detailed some of the weird things that happened around and after of my birth apparently I wasn't...some of the things that happened...they weren't exactly normal.” Byleth said as she turned her eyes to the ground. Edelgard began to rub gentle circles against Byleth’s jaw silently encouraging her girlfriend to continue.
“I was born here at the monastery, my father was the Captain of the Knights of Serios at that time. Lady Rhea assisted my mother all throughout her pregnancy and my birth, my mother didn’t survive,” Byleth explained as she kept her eyes focused on her shoes.
“I guess I wasn’t a normal baby, my father said I didn’t cry or laugh...it was like I had no emotion but that’s not all. He took me to a doctor in secret, according to my father Lady Rhea and the church were keeping close eyes on me, anyway the doctor told my dad that I had a pulse but no heartbeat.” Byleth continued on to say.
“How is that possible?” Edelgard asked with a frown.
“I’m not sure...neither is Sothis but that’s not all that I read,” Byleth said. “Apparently my dad was so concerned and freaked out over Rhea’s...obsession with me he faked my death and ran away from the church.” Hearing this, Edelgard's eyebrows shot up.
“That's intense...I wasn't expecting you end with something like that,” Edelgard said. “The fear Jeralt must have felt for you because of Rhea and the church...I wonder if he found out the truth.” Byleth shrugged.
“I don't know,” Byleth said. “From his entries he seemed scared and confused...but to have to fake my death…”
“Rhea is dangerous,” Edelgard was quick to say. Byleth said nothing however and the two lapsed into an uncomfortable silence.
“What do you think?” Byleth finally asked.
“What do I think?” Edelgard parroted back with a slight frown.
“What do you think of my birth more specifically,” Byleth asked nervously. “After everything I just said it seems like...Lady Rhea... we have this-” Edelgard swiftly cut Byleth’s ramblings off with a soft kiss on the lips.
“If you think I look at you any differently because of something that monster did to you then you're wrong,” Edelgard said causing Byleth to sigh in relief.
“I was worried for a moment,” Byleth confessed feeling better than she had since waking up.
“Don't be silly,” Edelgard said.
“Okay, I won't.” Byleth whispered. Reaching up, Edelgard pressed her thumb against her lovers forehead sparking a thought in Byleth’s head!
“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” Byleth asked quickly.
“I'm not sure, what are you thinking?” Edelgard murmured softly causing Byleth’s blush to intensify.
“Well...I thought maybe you were thinking about something I was thinking about earlier,” Byleth stammered.
“What were you thinking about earlier?” Edelgard asked their positions from a moment ago now flipped. Edelgard was still rubbing her thumb against Byleth’s forehead.
“That Lady Rhea could possibly be responsible for Sothis being in my head,” Byleth said sheepishly. Edelgard thought this over for a second before she began to nod her head.
"That makes perfect sense," Edelgard said causing Byleth let out a breath she hadn't realized she was holding.
“Sothis seemed skeptical by the idea,” Byleth said feeling relieved to have her thoughts validated.
“Really? Is the voice in your head dense?” Edelgard asked.
“No,” Byleth said with a shake of her head as Sothis made a displeased noise.
“Perhaps Sothis is blinded because you're accusing her top bootlicker of placing her within you,” Edelgard said with a shrug.
“Are we really talking about bootlickers?” Sothis finally snarled. “Should we talk about you first or Hubert, I think you're both in competition for the Princess’s top bootlicker. ” Byleth cleared her throat. Edelgard took note and continued on.
“Either way it seems like that could actually be the most logical conclusion as to how Sothis ended up in your head.” Edelgard said. "I think anyone with a working brain could come to such a conclusion.
“That little cu-”
“Shut up!” Byleth snapped before Sothis could finish her insult. Edelgard seemed taken aback for half a second before realizing what was going on.
“Did she not appreciate the comments?” Edelgard asked in a taunting tone. Byleth shook her head as she turned to look back at Edelgard.
“No and for the sake of my mind I would appreciate it if you didn’t make comments like that again.” Edelgard nodded and looked as if she was about to say something when she was swiftly cut off by a twig snapping in the distance. Byleth didn’t seem to notice but Edelgard’s eyes narrowed in the direction.
The younger woman began to move towards the entrance to the pens. Byleth quickly followed as she dropped her hand to her saber, her attention peaked by Edelgard’s sudden actions.
The two came to a stop to see no one standing in the doorway. On instinct Edelgard poked her head up and turned it to the left just in time to see a golden cape fluttering around the corner. At the same moment Byleth poked her head out and turned it to the right to see a blue cape fluttering around the opposite corner.
They both moved at once.
“Dimitri!” Byleth called out the moment Edelgard called out, “Snake!” They both moved in opposite directions as they hurried after the eavesdroppers!