Chapter 1: sound
Soulmates find each other through their songs. When they sing their voices are heard by their soulmate and they would hear their soulmate’s voice back.
These were beautiful exchanges. Even more so when they finally find each other and sing together in harmony.
In a world where soulmate finds each other through their voices, Byleth is mute.
She doesn’t let this stop her.
The Eisner family was blessed with twins. A girl and a boy. Their faces like dolls and their eyes like the brightest of stars.
The boy, Beleth, was born healthy and whole.
The girl, Byleth, was born healthy, aside from her damaged vocal cords.
Beleth spoke beautiful words. Simple words, but beautiful ones. From “Mom,” to “Dad,” to “Home,” to “Play,” he spoke them all. With all the childish sobriety of a child trying to grow up too fast.
Byleth could say none of those things. Could say neither “Mom” nor “Dad,” neither “Home” nor “Play.” She couldn’t say: “Mom, Dad, let’s go home.” Couldn’t say: “Bel, let’s play.”
“‘Leth,” Beleth had called, light and high pitched. “Let’s play.”
Yeah, let’s, Byleth wished to respond yet she could only nod.
Byleth was taught to write and sign instead. Taught how to use her hands for her tongue. Taught how to substitute her fingers for her damaged throat. Taught how written words and gestures could replace spoken words.
They were a language of their own, she thought. The words and the gestures.
Yet as she writes and practices she finds that they wouldn’t be enough. She finds that she still yearns for the spoken words. She still yearns to use her tongue and damaged throat. Still yearns to speak, to shout, to yell. Still yearns to make sounds, actual sounds that go beyond a mere exhale of air.
“‘Leth,” her brother called as he holds his hand towards her. “Come on, let’s go.”
She still yearns that she could call her brother’s name instead of this.
Yeah, let’s, she signed and takes his hand.
Byleth learns of soulmates through a book.
It was a children’s book, with big bold letters and colorful pictures. With the words “My Soulmate and I” written in a pretty font on the cover and a little girl smiling.
“Soulmate?” Beleth repeated as he peers down at the book. “What does that mean?”
Byleth shrugs as she opens the book to even more colorful pictures. Beleth settling down beside her as he studies the page with the determination of a curious child.
My soulmate is a nice person, she reads as the girl on the page rises from her grand bed. My soulmate has a nice voice.
And oh, that should’ve been the first sign.
My soulmate must have a nice voice, for she sings so nicely, the girl continued as she combs her hair, little icons, music notes, Byleth later learns, they were music notes, appears around her. My soulmate sings to me every morning so she must be nice.
Beleth frowns as he studies the words. “What does that mean?”
She sings a different song every morning, just for me, she girl said as she opens her round lips. And I sing back if I know the words, that is.
The girl in the book begins to sing, the same icons from earlier, music notes, they were music notes, appearing with even greater frequency as she dances around her room. Another girl was drawn next to her on the subsequent page. One with curly hair and tanned skin and a cheerful smile.
I haven’t met my soulmate yet. The girl still smiles. But I know that I’ll like them.
“How can you know that?” Beleth commented as he turns the page. Still frowning.
Because they’re my soulmate! the girl exclaimed as she continues to dance with the other. Because they’re my soulmate and they’ll like me as well!
They turn the page together.
Soulmates stay by each other sides forever, the girl explained. Half of a whole, so they’ll like me just as I’ll like them, for sure!
She’ll be by my side forever! And we’ll get to play with each other forever! the girl cheered. Because she’s my soulmate and she’ll get me!
The last page:
So I’ll find her for sure, the girl declared. Her songs will lead me right to her.
Oh, Byleth had thought then. I’ll never be able to find my soulmate.
She then shrugged together with Beleth as they set the book back onto the shelf.
She still doesn’t know what a soulmate is, but surely they weren’t that important.
Byleth, for all that she cannot speak, can hear perfectly well.
“She’s that girl, right? You know the one that’s mute.”
Her, it was her they were talking about. She was out of their sight, out in the balcony when she ought to be in the center of the ball.
“Right, right, I heard that…”
What did they hear?
“Really? Poor girl.”
Byleth couldn’t speak. That was true, but that was also fine, she could speak with written words and signs instead. So she as perfectly fine-
“It should really be her poor soulmate you should feel pity for.”
Soulmate, there was that word again, Byleth noted as she frowns.
“Right, of course, but…”
Why would they feel pity? Why? Byleth just couldn’t speak, not with spoken words. But she can still speak.
“Jeralt and Magdalena must be so sad.”
She feels her fist gripping harshly on her expensive dress. Wrinkling and damaging the fabric.
“I would be if I had a daughter like that.”
She was sure that she would rip the dress soon enough if they continue.
“What does that mean?” Beleth said as he approaches. “What is that supposed to mean.”
“Oh, Beleth!” a woman said as she stopped speaking in a hushed whisper. Not that it was doing much for her secrecy regardless. “What are you doing here?”
“Doesn’t matter,” her brother answered bluntly. “The real question is, what were you two speaking about.”
She can hear his fury.
“It was nothing,” the other woman replied. “Nothing that should concern a young boy like you.”
“It is,” Beleth snapped. “It is when the person you’re insulting is my sister.”
“We weren’t insulting her-”
“Why don’t you say it in front of her yourselves then,” Beleth interrupted. “She right there, you know.”
Byleth steps out of the balcony then, head lowered and her lips bitten. Her brother rushes to her side as he untangles her hand from her dress and lets his fingers intertwine with hers instead.
“You were right there, Byleth?” the woman spoke, sounding faint and slightly embarrassed. “Oh, why didn’t you tell us, you silly girl.”
Byleth shakes her head firmly. Gaze still set on the floor and burning with heat.
“She doesn’t have to say anything to you.” Beleth grips her hand harder, as though that would stop her tears from flowing. “Now, go on, say what you’ve said earlier.”
They didn’t say anything, yet Byleth’s eyes still burn.
“Not an insult, you say,” Beleth derided. “And yet you don’t dare say it in front of her.”
She could feel his anger and it was infectious in how it caused her to feel the familiar vein of fire rush through her.
“You’ll be sure I’ll tell my parents about this.” Beleth’s fingers relax a tiny bit, to make sure that he wasn’t hurting her. But she was sure that she wouldn’t feel the pain from her hand over the sting inside her chest. “They won’t be pleased.”
“We were just stating the truth,” the woman argued primly before dragging her friend off.
“Terrible,” Beleth said as they watch the women leave. “Terrible and mean, those two.”
Byleth lets her tears fall then.
Beleth instinctively turns around. His hand coming to her cheeks as he, too, frowns. Looking more concerned than angry now.
“Don’t let their words affect you, ‘Leth,” Beleth soothed. “They’re terrible anyway, so their words mean nothing.”
Still, Byleth thinks. Still.
She couldn’t speak to him. No paper nor pen within reach and her hands to busy trying to stop her tears to sign.
Yet, it was as though he could understand her and he sighs. Dragging them behind the balcony as he hugs her. Letting her cry into his arms away from the crowd in the ball, meant to celebrate their birth. Resting her head on his as she cries. No sound to be heard but her tears were real and the way that her heart sting makes her tears all the more burning. As she wished to scream and shout, but the only thing she could do was make irregular breathy sobs.
I can speak, she wants to yell. I can speak. Not through speech, but I can.
I want to speak through speech, she wants to say. I want to speak, too.
But I can speak. Through written words and gestures, I can. I can.
So why does it hurt so much?
“Dad,” Beleth called as he approaches the man with his sister in tow. “Someone made ‘Leth cry.”
Their father’s head immediately snaps to them as Alois lets out an affronted roar.
“Who? Which villain was it?” Alois questioned, his champagne cup tethering dangerously to the edge. “Who made Byleth cry?”
“Two women,” Beleth answered readily. “Lady Reimer and her friend.”
“Reimer and Berlain then,” their father noted taking on a rougher tone. “I’ll be sure to talk to Rhea about them.”
“I’ll exact justice for you, Byleth!” Alois declared as he slams his hand on the table.
“Don’t do that, Alois.” Jeralt sets a hand on Alois’ shoulder.
“I’ll come with you,” Jeralt continued as he pats Alois’ back calmly.
“What’s wrong, darling?” Magdalena asks as she notes her husband’s dark expression.
“Oh, just two coots who couldn’t meddle into their children’s lives now that they all found their soulmate and decided to meddle with our children instead,” Jeralt answered as he gives his wife and quick peck.
“What did they say?” Magdalena asked as she leans down. Her hands laying on both their shoulders.
"How they pity ‘Leth and her soulmate,” Beleth answered as his grip once again tightens around her hand. “How sad you and Dad must be to have her as a daughter.”
“Oh.” A shadow falls over their mother’s face as well. “I see.”
“Darling.” Their mother draws her arms around them both. “Don’t curse in front of our children.”
Alois comes to muffles Jeralt’s yells then. “Done, Miss Magdalena.”
“Why, thank you, Alois.” Their mother gives them each a kiss on their cheeks. “Now, we have some awful people to deal with.”
Before she could fully leave both Byleth and her brother tug on her dress. “What is it, darlings?”
As if reading her mind Beleth says, “What’s a soulmate?”
Magdalena exhales then, softly and somewhat sad. “Oh, darlings.”
“Honey, go and give those women hell for me, won’t you?”
Jeralt nods, “Sure thing, babe.”
Jeralt and Alois left as their mother leads them into a quiet room.
“A soulmate,” their mother began. “Is someone that will complete you.”
They both frown.
“Let’s just say, that there’s a cake, right?” Their mother gestures vaguely. “And if I were to cut it in half, one side would be you and the other would be your soulmate.”
“How do we find them then?”
“Through- through your voice,” Magdalena said softly. Sadly. “When you sing, your soulmate will hear your voice.”
Oh, Byleth thinks. So that is why they pity my soulmate.
She feels the tears welling up then, her heart aching as she realizes, like that cake, she will never be complete.
“A- are they that important?” Beleth asked frantically.
“Some say that they are the most important thing in the world,” Magdalena said as she smooths over Byleth’s hair. “But they don’t have to be.”
“See, ‘Leth?” Beleth turns to face Byleth then, tears in his eyes as he tries to smile for her. “You don’t need them.”
But I want them, Byleth thinks. I want them.
“Oh, ‘Leth, my darling,” Magdalena cried softly. “You don’t, you don’t need them to live a happy life.”
Soulmates stay by each other sides forever, she remembers the girl from the book had said.
“Come on, ‘Leth!” Beleth urged. “You have me!”
Half of a whole, so they’ll like me just as I’ll like them, for sure! the girl had said. Half of a whole. Byleth was half of a whole and she’ll never be complete.
Byleth hates it, hates the way that she can only speak through written words and gestures. She hates how her voice won’t sound and how she cannot yell. Hates how she was born with a broken throat and half of a whole. She hates how she can speak, but not in a way that matters.
Her tears fall once more as she cries. Not even a sob leaving her. Because Byleth cannot say anything. Because she cannot voice anything in her life. Because her voice is missing and in its place was a void, a curse. Something that cannot be lifted. Something that takes the place of her words and left her with nothing but a half of a soul and screams that refused to leave her throat.
She’ll be by my side forever! And we’ll get to play with each other forever!
Byleth realizes on her eighth birthday that she had not only doomed herself to a lonely fate but had also cursed her soulmate to a similar fate.
Because for all that Byleth loves words, she cannot speak them.
Not in the way that mattered.
Chapter 2: a silent world
byleth thinks that her life is fine (the world objects)
Suddenly all the words of her classmates made sense. The way that they would look at her with weird eyes and weirder expressions. The way their faces would twist in childish pondering as they watch her sign. The way they would look at her and then look the other way, as though she was something terrible and exotic at once.
“Can you really not talk?” one girl asked. Blinking up at Byleth as her friends surround her. “Like really, really?”
No, Byleth signed.
“What’s wrong with your hand?” the girl asked. And Byleth purses her lips. “Are you making fun of me?”
No. The girl frowns even further.
“Hey, why don’t you answer.”
I am, Byleth thinks as her eyes burn. It’s not my fault you can’t understand me.
“You really are weird.” The girl pouts as her friends agree with her and Byleth just wants to leave already.
“Byleth.” As if summoned by her thoughts he arrived.
Bel, Byleth thinks as she smiles. You’re here.
“It’s time to go home,” Beleth said as he walks to her side. “What are you still doing here?”
They were asking me some questions. Beleth frowns.
“What were they asking?”
If I can talk or not. Beleth frowns further as he takes her hand into his. “Seems like an awfully conversation for just a quick yes or no question.”
“It’s because she didn’t answer us,” one girl spoke. Byleth thinks she recognizes her vaguely. She was younger than Byleth, by a year or two, so six or seven then.
“She did,” Beleth snapped, his voice angry and hostile. “But you were just too stupid to understand her.”
With that, he drags her off.
That’s a bit cruel, you know. Byleth later told him. They were small.
“Well, they were plenty cruel to you,” Beleth argued stubbornly as he lays down beside her. “And they should learn not to be so mean.”
You made her cry.
“Yeah?” Beleth draws her closer. “Well, they were about to make you cry so it’s just karma.”
I was not. Byleth punches him slightly as he laughs.
“You were.” Beleth pinches her back. “Your eyes were red and everything.”
Beleth laughs. Like bells and birds, Byleth thinks as she smiles. Yet, there was a part of her that sours. Thinking of how beautiful the sounds he makes are and how she can make none of those, even if she were to try.
She hates that part of her.
Beleth, Byleth signed. Don’t do that.
“Do what?” Beleth rubs at his bruising jaw. Making a slight hiss when her fingers accidentally pushed too hard when applying the bandage.
Byleth patted down the thing, watching as her brother squirm some more before signing, Stop fighting those boys.
“They deserved it,” Beleth argued. “They called you weird.”
Byleth exhales softly as she shakes her head. Slightly pursing her lips. You don’t punch people for that.
“Yeah.” Beleth smiles slightly. “I’ll punch them if they even look at you weird.”
Byleth frowns even more as she slight nudge his head. No.
“I would do it again,” Beleth said with all the seriousness of a nine-year-old. “If they even look at you funny.”
You shouldn’t. Look at how hurt you are. She gestures towards the bruises that were lining his arms and face. How am I going to explain to dad and mom?
“Dad would be proud.” Byleth frowns, because she couldn’t really argue against that, as she nudges him again.
What about mom? It was Beleth’s turn to frown then. As no doubt, the image of their mother and her disappointment was appearing clear in his mind now.
He grunted. His version of acquiescence to the fact that she was right.
See? She would be mad. Byleth pokes at another bruise as Beleth hisses. You’re really too reckless, Bel.
“If it’s to defend you?” Beleth smiles. “Nothing is too reckless.”
Byleth would like to say that her heart didn’t turn soft from that at all.
But that would be lying.
Bring me with you next time. Byleth knocks against his head. Wondering if there was anything in there other than bravado.
“But I’m the big brother,” Beleth remarked. “I’m supposed to protect you.”
Byleth pinches him. And I’m supposed to look out for you.
Beleth frowns mulishly. “Don’t want to.”
Byleth pinches him. I’ll find you, either way, so it doesn’t matter.
Beleth huffs as he stands up. “Yeah, well, I’ll be sure to end the fight so quickly that when you find me the fight is already won.”
He pulls her up as they walk side by side. Stupid.
“Just you wait, ‘Leth. I’ll show them.”
But Byleth smiles either way.
Their mother is, predictably, upset that Beleth got into a fight with their classmates. But her scolding wasn’t as bad as it normally were and their father’s approval radiating from his spot next to her.
“Oh, come on ‘Lena,” their father drawled. “Laid off Bel a little won’t ya?”
Their mother, predictably, turns towards their father as she scowls. “Jeralt-”
“I mean, didn’t you do the same thing?” Their father chuckles, not afraid at all with the way their mother was glaring at him. Which was a very admirable trait that they both wishes one day to inherit. “When you punched a boy for insulting Rhea.”
“That.” Their mother flushes. “Is different.”
The twins lean in closer, interested.
“I think not,” Jeralt argued as he shakes his head. “They made fun of her for being tone-deaf and you-”
“Oh, enough with you!” Their mother practically shoves her hand into their father’s mouth. Sealing his lips.
Their father pushes her back. “What I’m saying is, that it ain’t so bad.”
Their mother huffs as she crosses her arms. Still fuming but she had stopped shouting, which had to mean for something, right?
“Mom,” Beleth called as he shuffles closer to her. “Those boys were mean to Byleth.”
“You can’t go punching every mean boy, Bel,” the mother said as she pinches his cheeks. “That’s not how it works.”
“But what am I supposed to do?” Beleth asked as he leans on their mother’s knee and Byleth rests on his back.
“You talk with them, Bel,” their mother answered. “You fight with words.”
“I swear, you’re getting more and more like your father every day.”
“Hey,” Jeralt interjected, affronted. “Do you want me to tell them about that time that you fought off six girls because they teased Rhea for her singing voice?”
Their mother groans. “Will you ever forget that?”
“Never.” Jeralt smiles. “‘Sides that’s when we met, after all. Me, your knight in shining armor.”
Mother rolls her eyes as she draws them closer to her. “More like a bystander who involved himself.”
“You punched me,” their father pointed out. “And I was Rhea’s friend too, you know.”
“Lot of good you did, in that fight,” Magdalena spat. “You hindered me more than anything.”
“You were ten seconds away from murdering Gloucester’s fiancee.” Jeralt shrugs. “With your bare fists even.”
“She deserved it,” their mother spoke derisively. “Talking big about how terrible Rhea’s singing was when she could do no better.”
“See what I mean?” Father grabs Beleth off their mother as he holds the boy up. Comparing their mother’s and Bel’s image. “Exactly alike.”
Their mother flushes once more as Beleth frowns. More like a pout, Byleth thinks.
“So, what I’m saying is.” Their father set Beleth down to his lap as the boy hurried over to his sister’s side. “Bel just wants to protect his sister is all.”
“It’s not a good habit, Jeralt,” Magdalena argued. “No matter how good the intention is.”
“C’mon, you know nobles, ‘Lena,” the father said. “They won’t back down if he just uses his words.”
“That may be true,” their mother agreed reluctantly. “Still…”
“If you just restrict him like this, they’ll get worse, you know that,” Jeralt continued. “Nobles are vicious when they want to be, especially to someone like ‘Leth. So Bel needs to set a precedent lest they think they can just trample all over our children.”
“You may have a point…” Bel’s eyes shine then, but he held back whatever he was about to say as Byleth shushes him.
“So, how about it?” Jeralt snuggles up to his wife’s side. “Let him warn them first then punch them later?”
Their mother did not speak for several moments as Beleth tenses before she sighs. “Very well, but you better warn them well, Bel.”
“Yes, Mom,” Beleth agreed easily as he hooks his arms around her neck. “I’ll warn them before I punch them.”
Their mother sighs. “I swear, if it wasn’t for my hair and eyes you’d be exactly like your father.”
Jeralt laughs. “You say that like it’s a bad thing.”
“It is a tragic thing.”
Their father enrolled them both into mixed martial classes after that. Their mother objected a little, wishing them to enroll into something tamer instead, perhaps judo or something else but relented once she saw their eager gazes.
They would come to take the lessons like fish to water as they would return every day, tired but happy. Eagerly talking about what they did and what they learned. With Beleth carrying most of the conversation and Byleth interjecting from the side to correct her brother. Arms worn out and limb aching but otherwise happy.
Their mother listened with an indulgent smile as their father chuckle lifting them both up as he yells about how strong his children were and how they’ll be able to beat them him soon. Beleth giggles as Byleth smiles back.
Byleth learned many things when fighting. With each punch, each kick. With each dodge each fall and each bruise.
She learned where to hit and when to duck. Where to move and how to swing her fists. How to move her leg in an arc and how to down an opponent.
Byleth learned many things when fighting.
And one of those things is that fighting is perhaps a language of its own. Where Byleth can speak through her punches and kicks. Where she could speak and her brother could answer back the same.
Byleth finds that while she cannot speak, not in the way that the world wanted her to. In the way that she wished to. This, speaking through ways other than written words and hands is possible.
Byleth finds that she likes to speak like so.
Byleth felt fine about her lack of speech. Felt that her life could be okay without it.
And the world wants to remind her that it is not. Wants to remind her that for all the ways that she could live life without a voice, none of those ways would be a happy one.
She is reminded of this fact once a soft song resonates around her, sang by a child. A girl. Sang when she is alone and resting. Sang when there is no one around but her and her sleeping brother.
The girl sings.
And the world reminds Byleth that for all the ways she could live her life with no voice, none of those lives would be a complete one.
Beleth wakes up to his sister crying in the bed nex to his. A strange sight, one that he hasn’t seen in a long time. Not since they were nine and another girl had called her terrible to her face for not speaking back.
They were fourteen now and Byleth has never cried since.
It was a strange sight. But one that is familiar and makes Beleth’s heart hurt as her tears burn through his chest. “What’s wrong ‘Leth?”
He moves out of his own bed, crawling onto hers instead as tears continue to fall. Dripping down her red cheeks and redder eyes as she heaves. Because for all the ways that Byleth wishes to speak, she cannot make a sound.
He feels his own eyes burning as he hugs her, patting her back in a familiar rhythm as he asked, “What’s wrong?”
Her tears are hot as they seem to burn through his skin as she buries herself into his chest. Her tears flowing but her lips remained shut. Not because she wished them to, but because she knows that, even if she were to open them, nothing would escape.
“‘Leth,” he called softly as her tears continue to run. “Tell me what’s wrong, won’t you?”
She stays silent. Her hands shaking as they wound around his back.
“Was it Reimer again?” he gently wipes her tears. “Did he say something mean to you?”
She cries. Her frame shaking and his heart breaks.
“Did he?” His own eyes are ablaze as she cries and cries. Not a single sound leaving her lips as arid tears flow down her cheeks. Her eyes red and puffy and her nose just the same.
She looks ruined, he thinks.
“Who made you cry?” he asked softly. “Tell me and I’ll punch the lights out of them.”
She shakes her head then. She shakes her head softly as she tries to wipe away her tears to no avail.
Song. He sees her signing with her shaky fingers. As she stops trying to wipe away the tears and look up at him with wet eyes. Soulmate.
“Oh.” She didn’t need to say anything more as he draws her into his arms then. As her hands shake and she trembles. She cries and cries. Her heartbreak is his own as he cradles her. Her tears like molten iron as it pierces through his heart. As he realizes that this is the one thing he cannot protect her from.
That, for all that he had trained and sworn, he cannot protect her from her own soulmate.
Beleth thinks that he hates Byleth’s soulmate. Hates soulmates in general.
If there were no soulmates, then Byleth would not cry. Then Byleth could just forget about the way her voice won’t sound and how her throat won’t work. Then she will be able to live a normal life, a happy life, speaking through ways other than speech.
If there were no soulmates, then Byleth would be happy.
Beleth hates soulmates.
Their parents notice immediately when both their children attended breakfast with red eyes and tear tracks.
Before they could ask Beleth says, “Soulmate.”
Their faces collapse at once as they rush to Byleth’s side. Beleth’s hand still tightly woven around hers.
“My darling girl,” the mother cried as Byleth looks up at her with red eyes as she tries to smile.
Their father says nothing. He says nothing, Beleth realizes, because for all his strength, there are somethings he cannot protect them from.
So the only thing their father does is to kneel down as he draws his whole family into his embrace.
Beleth hates soulmates.
Byleth hears the melody each morning as she wakes up. Hears the girl singing softly each morning as she rises. Hears the song and the childish melody. Rarely changing and always sang with enthusiasm.
Byleth wishes she could sing back.
“Come on,” Beleth called softly. “Let’s go to school now.”
Byleth nods as the melody accompany her every step.
Good morning! her soulmate sang. Good morning, good morning to you!
Good morning, Byleth thinks back, yet she cannot say it.
I wish you a nice day! her soulmate sang. The best of days and the greatest of nights!
I wish that to you as well, Byleth thinks back, yet she is unable to say it.
It is raining tonight, her soulmate sang. Raining and raining, will it ever stop?
I wish it would, if that’ll make you happy, Byleth thinks back, yet is unable to say it.
Will there ever be a day where you can reply? her soulmate sang. Where we can sing in harmony?
I would reply, I would, if I could, Byleth thinks back, yet she is unable to say it.
Happy birthday to me, her soulmate sang. Happy birthday dear myself. Won’t you sing it with me?
Happy birthday, Byleth thinks back, yet she is unable to say it.
It’s been a year, a long, long year. her soulmate sang. Can you not hear me?
I can, I can, Byleth thinks back, yet she is unable to say it.
The melody accompanies Byleth’s every move in her life. Increasing their quantity with each passing day. As their singer sang herself hoarse. As their singer sings more and more each day. New melodies and old alike. Sad and cheerful, bright and somber.
Byleth tries to etch these into her memories as much as she can. Tries to carve them so that she will remember them when the time comes, for she knows what is coming.
Byleth falls asleep to a gentle lullaby. Sang with the occasional sobs in between and Byleth knows that it is coming. The lullaby is sung with desperation and the sourness of despair which lines the words.
When Byleth awoke there is no song to await her. Nothing except for the gentle pitter-patter of the rain outside.
“Oh, ‘Leth.” Beleth draws into a hug.
It is raining tonight. Raining and raining, will it ever stop?
Life is silent after that. No songs to accompany her every move except her own footsteps and the rustle of clothes. No silly song as her soulmate would try to talk to her. No questioning melody. No nothing.
Life is silent and Byleth hates it.
Beleth tries to talk to her. Tries to fill the void with his own voice. Tries to talk and talk until Byleth forgets. Beleth tries, and for that Byleth heart breaks even more.
Stop, she told him. You don’t need to force yourself.
Because, she knows that when he is alone, Beleth is a silent person by nature. That he is alike to her and is sparing with his words. That, for all he is talkative around her, he is silent elsewhere. As though he had used up all his words with her and has nothing left to say to anyone else.
Stop, she told him. Stop forcing yourself.
“I’m not,” Beleth argued. “Why would you even think that?”
“Why would I force myself to talk with my sister?” he asked softly. “Rather, it is you that forces yourself to listen to my ramblings.”
Tears fall then, just a bit, for Byleth has run out of tears to give.
“Hey, don’t cry.” Beleth wipes away her tears. “Now you’re making me sad as well.”
“Don’t be silly, ‘Leth,” Beleth said. “There would be no universe where I would have to force myself to speak to you.”
“Are you forcing yourself to smile for me?”
Byleth pinches him.
“That’s what I like to see.”
She pinches him again as they both smile.
Her world is still silent, but Byleth will keep moving. Keep moving until the day that the silence won't bother her anymore.
She is lying to herself.
“Come, Byleth,” her mother said. “Sit down next to me.”
She does, sitting next to her mother before the grand piano.
That, is when her world changes.
haha, why is sibling bonding taking up so much time. But I really want to flesh out Byleth and her life before meeting edelgard bc I think that it's important to write about. so I hoped you guys enjoyed this chapter and all the sibling bonding that came with it lol.
Thank you for reading and please leave a kudo and comment on what you liked, what you didn't liked, your thoughts, your analysis, just anything, really, to make me super happy!
Chapter 3: music
Byleth finds her voice even when she can't speak.
The first notes of the piano were magical. It was as though Byleth’s body was singing with her fingers as she taps. With unfamiliar rhythm and clunky grace. Nothing like the pianists she sees and nowhere near their skill and talent.
But it was magical. How the piano sings with each tap and how her fingers created music from just touch alone. It was magical how her mother’s finger danced over the keyboard. How beautiful music came from her fingertips as her mother plays and she imitates. Awkward and slow, but earnest and sincere.
And it was magical.
It was as though Byleth could sing. With her fingers and the piano. Create music and sound-
And there is no greater joy than that.
“Do you like it?” Beleth asked as he sits next to her. “The piano, I mean.”
Byleth nods as she smiles. Fingers tapping away as she tries to recall what her teacher taught her.
I do, I do, I do.
“That’s good,” Beleth said as he leans against her.
Beleth took violin lessons after that and when she asked him why, he said:
“I want to play a duet with you.”
They practice, just as they did for fighting and anything else in their lives. They practice long and hard. Working harder than others for they know that they started late in their lives. For they had a late start in music and they wanted to practice for all that lost time.
So they played. Late into the night as they would practice and practice. Only stopping when either of their parents tells them to. And even then they would sneak back, even later, to practice some more.
Byleth practices and practices. She learns how to read music and how to coordinate her fingers. She learns how music is supposed to sound and how to play correctly. She learns how to tune and how to pace herself. She learns how to match her brother and how to duet with him. She learns many things.
As her fingers dance over the piano she can hear music. As she hears the sound she is left breathless as she grins. As she continues to play and play as the music fills her ears. As the music created from her fingers fill the room.
Crescendoing into the zenith of the song as they play together. As their music harmonize and her fingers dance across the piano.
Byleth learns many things from playing the piano. But the most important lesson of all is that:
She learns that music is an entire language of its own.
She sits in front of a piano. Unfamiliar and not her own. In a comfortable, but formal black dress with her hair neatly combed and tied behind her. Her heart beating faster than it ever had as she sits in front of the audience. Their gazes boring down on her as she nods to her parents as they wave. Her hands shaking a slight bit as she exhales and inhales in a steady rhythm.
She feels the dread crawling up her spine and the slight tremors in her fingers wearing down on her. As she feels the heat on her cheeks and the utter coldness of her surroundings.
She feels all of this and her fingers tremble and the music notes seem to blur as her vision shakes. As her ears filled with the beat of her heart and nothing else.
Her fingers tremble and her arms turn weak.
“Don’t worry.” A warm hand envelops her own. “I’m here.”
Beleth smiles down at her. With his violin in hand and steady as a mountain.
His hands were shaking, too, she realizes.
She can hear nothing but him and the sound of her heart at that moment. But her vision clears and she could see the music notes once more. With Beleth standing in front of her now, hands shaking and smile twitching yet still reassuring her-
Her fingers stop trembling.
Byleth smiles. Let’s play.
So Byleth plays. As her fingers dance- glide- over the piano. As she feels the notes within her own heart and letting them fill her ears. As she plays like how she had practiced it. As she lets the music guide her fingers and nothing more. As no thoughts remain other than the steady crescendo of: Yes, yes, this note and then that-
As she plays and plays as Beleth stands in front of her. Playing his own song. His own music. She plays as their music comes together, as his song becomes hers and-
And Byleth learns something else.
As she plays and plays. As the music fills her ears just as they do her heart. As her heartbeats to that of a melody and she is left breathless, for her fingers are not her own anymore. For all she knows how to do now is to play. Is to let her fingers sing for her.
Is to let her fingers speak for her.
So she does.
And it is a magical thing.
They stand to the applause of the audience. Bowing as they exit. Her heart beating a staccato beat as her hands wrap around his.
“You’re smiling,” he noted as he, too, smiles.
She realizes that she is.
As she feels her heart resonates to a phantom melody and the sound of the music- her music rings inside her ears, she realizes something.
Byleth learns that she can sing through her fingers. That through this, she can sing just as anyone can. That through this, through this music- through her music, that she can speak. That she can produce sounds. That she can, that she can speak the words that she had so wished to speak when she was young.
Byleth realizes that she can speak, even if it were a different language than what she wanted.
She finds that she can sing, through this, through her music.
She finds that she can make sounds, make sounds that are greater than speech itself. Speak and sing to an audience without a voice- no, that this is her voice.
Byleth realizes that she can have a voice, even with her damaged vocal cords.
She smiles as Beleth laughs. His eyes are soft and gentle. So rare, was he like this, for all he had known, were her tears and despair.
No more, she thinks. No more.
Byleth has a voice now and there is no longer a cause for tears.
“You want to enroll in Garreg Mach School for Music?” their mother asked one day.
They both nod. For where else would they go?
“Well, I’ll tell Rhea,” their mother concluded as she looks at them. A fond smile on her lips. “Really, you two are just obsessed with music, aren’t you.”
They both nod.
“You’ve gone and infected them!” their father roared. “Now they don’t even train with me anymore.”
“Now, now, it is simply not my fault that my music is so much better than your fighting.”
“I still train with you,” Beleth argued as he frowns. A small thing, that, but awfully sincere for someone like him.
“Yeah, but not as much as before-”
Beleth sighs as he drags them both away. Presumably to practice some more, which- well, would’ve agitated their father even more if he’d known.
Garreg Mach, Byleth thinks. Her heart beating for reasons unknown.
Garreg Mach was a prestigious school. With the nobles currently attending and alumni donating a rather sizable sum to the school. Byleth felt slightly out of place in her turtleneck and jeans when surrounded by vests and slacks. But shrugged it off after leaving the pack of noble students and finding that no, there were no hidden dress code or anything of the such that involved vests or blazers.
Her brother waves to her in his coat and equally thin shirt and jeans.
She smiles at him, her heart well and alive inside her chest.
Their first year at Garreg Mach begins like so.
It is not strange for her to be the subject of whispers and rumors. And Byleth has long learned to deal with it by ignoring it entirely or just to stare at the gossipers until they disperse. Not that she had to back in her old school. Not when rumors of her and Beleth’s fight against any rumors spread against her were prevalent.
Now, though, when she is a new student with nothing but her reputation from her contests she was just another subject to be talked about in the grand halls of Garreg Mach.
Byleth had long learned not to let their words hurt her, finding that she no longer had any tear to shed and her heart had long turned cold to their words.
But it still annoyed her though, when they talked behind her back like so. Even if she couldn’t speak, Byleth could hear perfectly well.
Byleth was about to give them a note while they were talking about her. To see how they would like it then, and it is a very tempting idea and a very feasible one.
So she does. As she walks up to them and leaves a sticky note with the words: If you want to talk about me, do it in front of my now. She waits for them to speak, her arms crossed and her lips thinning with her patience. Huffing as they start to sputter out an apology.
“What’s wrong, ‘Leth?” her brother asked as he approaches. Done with his classes for the day. “Are they bothering you?”
They were gossiping about me, she signed. But they wouldn’t say it to my face.
“Ah, so they were cowards,” Beleth noted sharply. “I’ll be sure to talk to Miss Rhea about them.”
Byleth huffs as their faces pale. Turning to leave as she drags her brother away with her.
They were talking about her soulmate.
How pitiable she and her soulmate were.
Byleth finds that they were wrong. That even if she couldn’t hear her soulmate sings now, that even if her soulmate does not sing to her. Her life isn’t a silent echo chamber.
Her life is filled with music, now, even when her soulmate is silent.
Byleth finds that even if the loss of their songs had dug out a hole within her heart. She can live. By filling that space with something else instead. With her own music instead.
She can think of a future where she can live a happy life, a life filled with music and songs. She finds that she can live in that future.
Byleth is twenty and the piano has become her life.
Byleth is twenty and had won numerous competitions, solo or with her brother.
Byleth is twenty and her life is filled with music, even when her soulmate had stopped singing years ago.
Byleth is twenty when she hears:
“Hi, I’m your neighbor.”
Byleth is twenty when she meets a girl with neat brunette hair and amethyst eyes, entirely unnatural, but seems fitting with the girl as she exits her dorm.
Byleth is twenty when she signs:
Hello. I’m Byleth.
Byleth is twenty when she hears the girl say:
“I sincerely apologize, I do not understand you,”
And as Byleth was about to turn to write on her sticky notes the girl shouts, with a flushed face and panicked expression.
“I will remedy this problem quickly!”
Byleth is twenty when the girl slams the door in her face, leaving her blinking with a sticky note with her own name on it.
Her heart beating oddly and her lips twitching upwards for reasons unknown as a phantom melody fills her ears.
Byleth is twenty when she meets Edelgard von Hresvelg, eighteen. Upcoming violinist.
Edelgard is finally here! And this is definitely a lighter chapter than before so I hope y'all enjoyed that! I knew I would have to have the final chapter be the 4th chapter lmao, so I'm glad I've adjusted that haha. Regardless, the next chapter will finally be the end of this series so I hope you'll enjoy that!
Please leave a kudo and comment on what you liked, what you didn't, your thoughts, just anything, really, to make my my day! I try to respond to all comments! <3
Chapter 4: fin
byleth and beleth finally gets their act together.
“Your neighbor slammed the door just like that?” Beleth asked. He was frowning in the way that usually meant another phonecall to Rhea or their parents.
She did, Byleth signed. But I don’t think she was malicious or anything like that.
“She slammed the door while you were introducing yourself,” Beleth restated bluntly. Phone already out and ready to dial. Byleth sighs as she pushes his hand down. Don’t. Beleth shakes his head as he huffs. Stuffing his phone back inside his pocket.
“Really, you’re too nice to them,” he complained as he takes a sip of his tea.
If she were truly mean, I wouldn’t be. Byleth splits up her slice of cake, sliding the other half onto his plate. So don’t call. There is no need to.
“Is this a bribe?” Beleth pokes the cake with his fork. Smeared with chocolate from his previous cake. Which he had already finished. Something that has always astounded Byleth and her father who did not simply understand the endless vacuum that was Beleth’s stomach. Their mother, on the other hand, was the exact same so it was no mystery where Beleth’s black hole of an appetite came from. But still.
Byleth rolls her eyes as she takes a napkin to his lips. Dabbing away at the crumbs and frosting that was nearing the edge of his lips. He leans into her touch, easy as ever. “I’ll take this bribe, I suppose.”
Not bribe, Byleth signed, putting the napkin down as Beleth angles his head back again. Focus now.
“Right,” Beleth said as he twirls his pen. “Music.”
Music now, words later.
“‘Course, what else would be first?” Beleth jested as he takes a bite of the strawberry cake.
Nothing. She gets back to studying the piece.
A week pass by after that. Byleth long putting her odd neighbor out of her mind, if only slightly thinking of her every time she passes the other girl’s dorm.
A week after meeting on Edelgard von Hresvelg there was a knock at Byleth’s door. At approximately five in the evening. A time that no one would come to visit her. Beleth would be in his hibernation by now. And as she checks her phone for any messages she knows that her friends weren’t coming over either, for they were not ones to pull surprise visits like this.
She waddles over to the door, dressed in nothing but a thin shirt and shorts as she peeks through the peephole.
She finds a girl with brown hair and amethyst eyes awaiting her, with her fists by her side and determined expression. And despite the one interaction they’ve had, Byleth recognizes her easily. Whether it be her fetching eyes or cute face would be anyone’s guess but Byleth was not about to think on that now.
Byleth unlocks the door easily.
“Hello,” the girl greeted. Her voice shaking slightly at the beginning before she clears her throat. “I’m sorry for my earlier behavior.”
Byleth blinks at her and somehow her confusion was properly conveyed.
“When I slammed the door on you,” the girl clarified, quickly averting Byleth’s eyes. Her cheeks slightly flushed.
it’s fine, Byleth signed, but freezing midmotion as she looks behind her instead. Beginning to search for paper and pen. Eyes quickly scanning her room for the closest thing she could write on, hoping to not make the girl wait too long for her reply. And as she was about to walk away from the door the girl called out quickly, “Ah, wait, uh, you don’t have to do that.”
Byleth raises an eyebrow as she pivots once more, returning to her place before the open door. Hand placed on the handle as the girl stands perfectly still. Eyes finally matching hers.
The girl raises her hands to her chest, her eyes narrowing as she focuses on them. And then, moving her hands slowly the girl signed: Hello.
She wasn’t speaking this time, not through her voice. She was speaking another language, one that Byleth was familiar with.
Her hands weren’t used to speaking like so. This Byleth can tell. But-
I’m Edelgard von Hresvelg. the girl spelled, a determined look about her as her fingers continue to speak for her. Nice to meet you.
She was clumsy with her words and sometimes it was hard to make out what she was saying, but-
Byleth smiles all the same.
Hello, Byleth replied quickly. I’m Byleth.
Edelgard squints, a considering look on her face now as the gears turn inside her head. “Beleth?”
Byleth smiles even more as she shakes her head slowly.
“Oh goddess, I’m sorry-”
B-y-l-e-t-h, she spelled slowly. Observing the girl as Edelgard focuses on her fingers once more.
“By-leth,” the girl said at last. “Is that your name?”
Byleth nods with quirked lips. Smiling down at Edelgard. Finding that the girl returns her smile, much more confident now. Matching Byleth’s eyes with no troubles and her smile holds no fear or anxiety.
That is a good look on her, Byleth thinks briefly.
“I must apologize at how long it took for me to give an apology,” Edelgard said. “But I feel it necessary that I must not face you with anything less.”
Not signing it this time? Byleth asked.
Edelgard squints at her fingers. “Sorry, can you repeat that?”
Byleth does, and Edelgard squints once more. Hand on her chin and eyes focused as her lips thin. Eyes narrowing and eyebrows creasing with each passing moment. As Byleth stands motionless, hands dropped to her side.
“Sorry, I do not understand,” Edelgard said woodenly, her face pale. Byleth shakes her head helplessly as she smiles. It is jest, nothing serious-
“I will remedy this quickly!” Edelgard announced as she slams the door once more. Leaving Byleth blinking, having her own door slammed in her face.
A huff of laughter.
See you next time.
“Hello,” Edelgard greeted as she exits her own dorm. “Good morning to you.”
The girl was carrying a violin on her back as she smiles. A gentle smile, that. But no less charming.
“Sorry, I do not understand-” Edelgard said quickly, her face paling once more. “I’ll fix this!”
And once more the girl was off.
“Likewise,” Google announced from Byleth’s phone as the girl runs off.
Byleth sighs helplessly.
“Hello,” Edelgard greeted. Hair tied neatly behind her as she exists her own dorm. “Good morning to you.”
A pen was threaded in the girl’s hair as she carries a bundle of paper in her arms. Her bag filled with the same and Byleth wondered which class it was for.
Likewise, Byleth responded.
“Yes, likewise!” Edelgard repeated happily. “That is what you’re saying, correct?”
Yes. Byleth smiles as she gestures towards the stack of paper. Do you need any help?
The girl squints at her hand once more and Byleth debated between using her phone or repeating the sentence.
“... help?... ah, no!” Edelgard answered quickly. “I’ll be fine, don’t worry, Byleth.”
Are you sure?
“Uh, yes, yes I am quite sure,” Edelgard said with the same enthusiasm as before. “I have quite the arms, Dimitri and Claude can attest to that.”
The way that Edelgard refers to them, well, they must be her friends, Byleth assumed.
“My siblings also says the same thing,” Edelgard assured. “So don’t worry!”
Byleth nods, waving to the girl. Watching as Edelgard smile at her elegantly before leaving.
Wherein she promptly tripped over a fallen piece of paper.
Ah, not so strong legs it seems.
“You don’t need to help me!” Edelgard said as Byleth rushes over. “I am perfectly fine.”
Byleth clicks her tongue at the bleeding scratch that was forming on Edelgard’s cheek. Holding up a hand as she digs through her bag, getting out her water bottle and handkerchief.
“You don’t need to, really-” Byleth shushes the girl. And with practiced movements, she dabs over the wound. Edelgard making a tiny yelp to which Byleth lessens the force on her touch. Reminded once more that not all people have the same thick skin that Beleth does.
Once it was cleaned with water Byleth takes out an alcohol wipe prepared exactly for situations like this as she carefully wipes over the wound. Edelgard not letting out a sound as she does so. Mighty impressive for how her brother would’ve complained to high heavens by now.
Once she was done Byleth takes out a bandaid. One that was Hello Kitty themed and meant to humiliate Beleth. She holds up the thing with a tense smile as she gestures towards Edelgard’s cheek, mouthing an, “Ok?”
Edelgard nods absentmindedly. Face slightly flushed. Maybe from her fall or a fever perhaps as Byleth leans closer. Aptly placing the terrible bandaid over the wound. Patting it down as she smiles. There.
She quickly gathers the strown papers that were lying about, neatly stacking them as she places them into Edelgard’s hand. The girl still as a statue as her eyes barely moves towards Byleth. Her cheeks were red and Byleth wondered if her face had hit the floor when she fell.
Here. Byleth places an extra bandaid on the stack of paper. For when you need it.
“Uh, yes, yes,” Edelgard said. Her voice faint. “Yes, I see.”
Byleth wonders what Edelgard sees as she brushes the girl’s hair behind her ear. Does it still hurt?
“Yes, of course, uh, I see,” Edelgard said mindlessly as she jumps back to her feet. “Good day!”
The girl runs. Cheeks red and ears redder still.
Is she really alright? Byleth thinks as she frowns. Shaking her head to clear her thoughts as she locks her door.
She had to focus now.
“‘Leth,” Beleth greeted groggily. Rubbing the sleep out of his eyes as he leans on the door to his own dorm. His shirt gone missing some time during the night and his pants hanging loosely on his hips.
You’re going to get sick, Byleth pointed out.
“It hasn’t happened yet,” Beleth argued as he yawns. “Hey, I don’t look weird, do I?”
Byleth squints. You always look weird.
Beleth pinches her cheeks as she rolls her eyes. A familiar scowl appears as he said mournfully, “When did you get so cheeky?”
When did you get so worried about your appearance? Byleth shot back as she manhandles his hands away from her face. Beleth easily letting her go with a grumble or two.
“My neighbor ran off when he saw me like this,” Beleth said, gesturing towards himself.
Neighbor? Beleth never talked about his neighbor and Byleth never felt the need to ask. Not until now, anyway.
“Yeah, blond-haired, blue eyes,” Beleth described, gesturing around as he recalls. “And about this tall.” He raises his arms upwards. Higher than them both, it seems.
Ah, so your type. Beleth chortles at that. Knocking his hand against her head as he grumbles.
Those prince charmings you were so fond of.
“I was young then, ‘Leth,” Beleth retorted as he rolls his shoulder. The joint letting out a crack as he did so. “And you used to like them, too.”
I was always more fond of the princesses, Byleth replied as she turns on her phone as she hears it ring. A cheery tone that woke Beleth right up.
“Time for practice, then,” Beleth stated as he returns to his dorm. A mess of a room now that he lived alone, with piles of clothes strewn about and random music sheets taped to the walls. With the only oasis being the place where his violin rests and a cabinet where a slew of family pictures was placed neatly.
Beleth slips on a shirt, one that said “I’ll Reel You In” on the front which Byleth heavily dislikes but Beleth adores.
Beleth slips on his glasses as he walks through the door. Violin in hand and windswept hair as he shuts his door gently.
“Let’s go then.” Beleth raises his arms over his head, stretching as they walk side by side. As they walk outside Beleth waves, his smile gentle as he calls, “Good morning, Dimitri.”
A boy with blue eyes and blond hair smiles back, with just the tiniest of a blush.
Beleth laughs. “That’s him. My neighbor.”
The way he said the name, “Dimitri.” The utter softness of the name and the way his eyes would soften and his lips curving. Gentle, her brother looked genlte. A miracle in and of itself.
Your taste hasn’t changed much, Byleth thinks as she shakes her head.
But maybe, maybe.
Byleth ties her hair back. Spinning it into a bun as she sits before the grand piano. Breathing in and out slowly as Beleth preps himself. Preparing his shoulder rest and music sheets placed neatly before him.
Byleth quirked an eyebrow as if asking, “Really?”
And they did.
And Byleth sang once more.
“We should stretch out this note,” Beleth said. Gesturing towards the center of the sheet. “Right here.”
Why? Byleth asked. She had thought that there was nothing else to be fixed. The practice had gone well and Byleth could sense no mistakes nor glaring error.
“It doesn’t feel right,” Beleth said as he leans on his hand, letting his violin rest on his lap. “It sounds alright, but not good.”
Well, Beleth was always the more artistic twin.
Let’s play again.
“No, no, you’re playing too fast,” Beleth said.
And you’re playing too slow.
“Half a note,” Beleth mumbled. “Let’s redo that.”
Byleth was never one to complain about spending more time with her piano.
“Going off tune,” Beleth remarked.
It’s you that’s off-tune, dear brother-
“Let’s stop for today.” Beleth stands up, stretching his legs. “We’re done.”
Byleth grumbles but she stands up as well. Laying a quick tap on the piano before collecting her things.
“Hey, don’t complain,” Beleth said as he packs up his violin. Unwinding it and doing whatever violinists do with their instruments before putting it back into its case. “We got a lot of things done today.”
Not enough. Byleth organizes her music sheets. It’s still off.
“We’ll find a way to fix it, somehow,” Beleth agreed as he drags her out of the room. Knowing fully well that she was not going to leave herself. “Come, let’s go. Professor Flayn is teaching tomorrow and you know how she is if you’re late.”
She wouldn’t mind. Byleth hurries her pace either way.
“You mean she doesn’t guilt-trip you?”
Oh, that was guilt-tripping?
“Oh, goddess Byleth- no wonder Professor Seteth dislikes you so.”
“Returning from a break?” Edelgard asked as Byleth returns to her room. The girl was patting some sweat off her forehead as she gives Byleth a small smile. The Hello Kitty bandaid on her cheek wrinkling with the smile. “I wouldn’t blame you.”
Edelgard returns her quizzical gaze. “I mean, you practice the piano so vigorously earlier so I-”
How did Edelgard know?
“Ah, you want to keep it a secret then,” Edelgard concluded, smiling slyly. “Well, it is to be expected. With how much of an enigma you and your brother are.”
Secret from what?
“Well, good luck with the contest, Byleth,” Edelgard said as the girl enters her room. “I look forward to hearing you play.”
“N- not to be presumptuous of course,” Edelgard amended. “I’ve just heard your music last week and all and- nevermind.”
Byleth soon dismisses the odd conversation from her mind. It made sense that Edelgard knew that she was practicing with her brother. It wasn’t a secret and if Edelgard was really her fan it would be obvious. Added to the fact that Byleth returned so late with music sheets in hand. Well, that was just a reasonable conclusion.
That was surely it, right?
“Ah, you practiced splendidly today,” Edelgard said.
How did she know?
A strange tradition began when Byleth noticed that Edelgard had a sore throat one day. And in some strange act, Byleth had left some porridge and a note hoping that Edelgard would get well soon outside of the girl’s dorm.
The next day she had woken up to find a muffin and another note with elegant: Thank you for consideration.
She had left some pizza that night and, well, a tradition began.
It was another one of Byleth and Beleth’s concert. After the pair had finalized the music score they played as per usual after that. Playing in well-practiced unison and completely in sync. Something that the audience always seem to love was their twin dynamic and how that added to their synergy, or something akin to that.
As she stands to bow she notices a pair of familiar amethyst eyes staring back at her from the audience.
Byleth gives a little wave as she smiles softly.
What a nice girl.
“You played excellently!” Edelgard complimented as Byleth arrived back to her door. “The way you and your brother played together, it was breathtaking, if I say so myself.”
Thank you. Byleth nodded at the girl. It is a lot of practice.
“And the way you played, why, that was better than any of your practices by far!”
Byleth nods, but-
How did Edelgard hear her practice sessions?
Can you hear me practicing from your dorm? Byleth asked one day as they sat in the cafe. Do I play that loudly?
“No?” Beleth takes another sip of the hot chocolate. “The rooms are soundproof, ‘Leth.”
Byleth frowns, the question churning inside her mind. Causing her a headache as she ponders on it.
She shakes her head. Nevermind.
“You know you can tell me anything,” Beleth said. Byleth kicks him. “Ouch, alright, so our next concert-”
“So you’re the ‘Byleth’ that my little sister keeps mentioning,” the woman remarked. Studying Byleth behind her, presumably, designer sunglasses. She was dressed in a white trenchcoat and red turtleneck. Which nice white jeans and similarly colored high heels.
“Did you just say Byleth?” a man asked as he leans over the woman, their features near identical. Wearing a red coat and a black shirt. With red short cutting off at his knees and equally red boots. “That Byleth?”
Byleth was about to really just enter her room and forget this whole encounter entirely when a blur crashes into the pair.
“Eden, Eiden!” Edelgard yelped. Dressed in her usual exercise gear. Making Byleth feel slightly better now in her ‘I Fish For Your Heart’ t-shirt and pajama pants “What are you two doing here?”
The man and woman lift up their sunglasses at the same time, revealing mischevious familiar amethyst eyes lurking beneath. “Why, we’re here for you, of course, Edie.”
“For what?” Edelgard hisses as she unlocks her door. Ripping off her headphones as she spins around to face her siblings.
“Oh, come on, now,” the man, Eiden, drawled. “Don’t be so heartless, Edie. We just want to chat is all.”
“Yes, well,” Edelgard attempts to push them into her room. “We can chat perfectly well in here.”
“Oh, but isn’t that your beloved Byleth right there?” Eden giggles, using her height to maintain her ground against the might that was Edelgard’s very defined arm. “Surely you want to-”
Edelgard shrieks as she pushes them through. Her wrath and embarrassment strong enough to overpower them both as the twins fall headfirst into Edelgard’s room letting out synchronize shouts as they did so.
Edelgard laughs nervously. “Don’t worry about it Byleth, just forget about this entire conversation!”
Edelgard slams the door shuts as shouts erupted from beyond.
Byleth very decidedly turns around and marches right towards her brother’s room.
She knocks on the door insistently. Waiting a moment or two for the door to be opened and finally running out of patience as she opens the door by herself. Having her brother’s dorm key just as he has hers.
She takes off her shoes. Eyes still braced on her phone before looking up when hearing a thump and-
Beleth was laying on his elbows with a boy- Dimitri- laying between his legs and arms trapping Beleth between it.
Oh. Byleth feels her face flushing with heat. So it was like that.
“Byleth!” Beleth shrieked as Byleth turns redder, quickly putting back her shoes. “It’s not what you think it is!”
Byleth averts eye contact with him.
“Y- yes, it’s nothing like that!” the boy, Dimitri declared as he jumps to his feet. Face redder than Byleth’s own.
Now that she can focus on their figures without blushing Byleth can clearly see that their clothes were only slightly wrinkled and there were no signs of passionate, uh, lovemaking on their bodies.
But, well, this was a perfect opportunity to get back at her brother.
She gives them a shaky thumbs-up as she leaves.
So much for not being your type, she texted.
While Byleth was walking back to her dorm there was a slight crackle and before she knew it she was getting drenched. And with all the desperation of a music student, she tried to cover her music sheets with her body as she rushed towards the nearest shelter. Frowning slightly at the way that her shirt sticks to her and how drenched she was.
“Ah, so you’re caught in the rain as well,” Edelgard remarked. Also drenched. Her normally buoyant hair now damped and weighed down by the rain. Her purple ribbons also dripping with water as she unties them. “How unfortunate that neither of us brought an umbrella.”
Byleth nods before trying to shake the rain out of her hair and her everything. Frowning as she holds up her now also wet music notes.
“Unfortunate,” Edelgard noted. Wincing at how the ink smeared. Byleth nods. “I would provide you a dry shirt if I can, however…”
Byleth shakes her head. It’s alright.
“Really, it is a mighty shame…” Edelgard stops speaking abruptly as her eyes drop to Byleth’s once white but now very transparent shirt. “Uh-”
Byleth quirks an eyebrow.
“Nevermind,” Edelgard said quickly as she turns around. Facing forward with flushed cheeks and her brown hair dropping with water despite the heat of her ears.
A moment of silence. As the rain pitters and patters around them both. Hitting on the roof of their shabby shelter in front of the cafe. The wind causing Byleth to shiver slightly and making her very thankful for her heater indeed. For she will be sure to soak herself in warm water after this. To wash out the cold and chill.
“Do you, uh, want to hear something my sister taught me if it ever rained?” Edelgard spoke, apropos of nothing.
“Well, it is a mighty childish thing, I must admit.” Edelgard brings up a hand to cover her flaming cheeks. “But it is a habit by now.”
“Do- do you want to hear?” Edelgard asked softly.
Byleth looks up at the continuous rain as she nods.
“Very well.” Byleth cannot see Edelgard’s face but she can hear her smile. “It goes something like: It is raining tonight, raining and raining, will it ever stop?”
Familiar, the words were familiar.
“Raining and raining. Waiting and waning. As the rain falls away, let it all stop, as we meet under the sun once more.”
Edelgard very pointedly did not sing the melody. But the words were familiar to Byleth. Yet she does not know how.
It frustrates her.
It was currently three in the morning and Byleth should really be asleep right now. And she usually would be, if it were not for the words that were now stuck in her head. Playing in a loop as she tries to recall where she heard it from.
She grumbles as she buries her head in her pillow. Slightly, actually very, miffed at the fact that she cannot remember.
Even her pillow cannot stop Edelgard’s word from echoing around her ears. It is raining tonight, raining and raining, will it ever stop? It is raining tonight, raining and raining, will it ever stop? It is raining tonight, raining and raining, will it ever stop? It is raining tonight, raining and raining, will it ever-
Always, always it was as though Byleth could almost grasp at the memory but it continues to elude her.
Annoying, Byleth thinks as the sound fills her ears once more. So annoying and infuriating and-
A soft violin enters her ears. Gentle and delicate. Tiding over the words that were once bugging her.
The violin guides her into a restful sleep but-
It is raining tonight, raining and raining-
Hush, the violin seems to say. Sleep, Byleth.
Were you practicing last night? Byleth asked as she exits the dorm room. Collecting a cookie that was taped to her dorm with a cutesy note stuck to it. The violin, I mean.
“Why yes,” Edelgard admitted as she titters nervously. “I wasn’t too loud, was I?”
It is very pleasant, Byleth admitted. Very soothing.
Edelgard blushes. “I will play more for you if you want!”
I usually fall asleep before three in the morning, though, Byleth said sadly.
“I will practice even earlier!” Edelgard declared, filled with all the zeal of an eighteen-year-old.
Ah, to be young, the twenty-year-old Byleth thinks fondly. It’s alright, I wouldn’t want to-
“I will play the most excellent piece for you tonight!” Edelgard announced. “What piece do you prefer now Bach or-”
Byleth smiles fondly. Really, now. This girl.
It is inevitable that Byleth would end up in one of Edelgard’s concert. Sitting near the front as she watches the girl. With Edelgard’s hair in a braid and her signature purple ribbon tying it all together as she sets her piano on her shoulder. Her friend, Dimitri, a pianist it seems, ready behind her.
Edelgard looks confident, Byleth thinks. Entirely in her element, as she plays. Her movement smooth and elegant and her grace obvious. She is dashing like so, Byleth thinks. Already imagining how Edelgard could be two years from now. How much more wonderfully she could play.
But, ah, thoughts are for later.
Byleth closes her eyes as she loses herself in the music.
Edelgard plays and Byleth falls. And when the piece stops the glamor of the untouchable violinists falls away as she locks eyes with Byleth. A blush that was less like exhaustion and more like embarrassment lining her cheeks as she stiffly nods towards Byleth before quickly dashing out.
It is endearing, Byleth thinks softly.
That, too, becomes a tradition. As Byleth starts to seek out familiar amethyst eyes in her audience and Edelgard does the same.
Beleth seems to do the same with his own, searching for sky blue eyes instead.
“My, your singing voice is so nice, Bernadetta,” a girl said softly. One of Byleth’s seniors. A harpist. “Especially when you make up lyrics to our score like that.”
“Huh? Y- you heard that M- Mercedes?” Another girl. This one Byleth knew as one of the new students. Cello, if she remembered correctly.
“I’m your soulmate, of course I heard.” Harpist girl laughed.
“Eek! Stop- don’t talk anymore-”
Byleth dismisses the conversation. It was common practice, really, for performers to oftentimes hum or sing their piece. To feel the music or whatever not.
But then a thought occurred to her.
When was the last time Beleth sang?
Byleth finds that she cannot remember.
Beleth, she asked later that day as she tapped on his shoulder to draw his attention. Why do you not sing?
Beleth was in the middle of drawing a doodle on his music sheet when he heard her question. Freezing midstroke as he stops. Freezing, eerily so, as he turns to her. “Why do you ask?”
Curious. Beleth gives her an indiscernible gaze at that. Sitting up as he leans against the wall. “Since when were you curious about that kind of thing?”
“Don’t be.” Beleth waves her question off. Gathering her and his pillow into his arms as he draws her closer. “It’s a small thing, regardless.”
She can hear his heartbeat. Steady and calm as always as he lies to her face. It is not.
He weaves his hand through her hair. “Why not?”
Soulmates. That was all Byleth needed to say. Just that word. A taboo word at this point, a cursed word.
“Since when does soulmates matter?” Beleth spoke derisively, his arms tightening around her protectively. Forming a cocoon around her as though he can protect her from the world itself with his body.
Beleth snorted. “Come on, ‘Leth. You know I’ve never thought much of soulmates.”
“Since forever,” Beleth answered. Threading his hand through her hair once more. Hissing as she pinches him. Don’t lie.
“Why are you thinking about soulmates now?” Beleth asked roughly. His anger is evident. Although it wasn’t directed at her. “I thought you’d forgotten, now that we have music.”
She thought she did as well. And she did. She did put her soulmate behind her as she moved on with music. As she realized how she could never find her and that music could be her substitute for them. With music, she could move on and grow, because she acknowledges that there would never be a world where her soulmate and her can meet.
But Beleth. In this world, Beleth can still meet his.
You, Byleth answered. Why are you being so stubborn now.
“Me? Stubborn? You haven’t looked in the mirror recently,” Beleth snorted.
Byleth breaks out of his arms. Spinning around as she sits in front of him. Knocking her hand against his head. Don’t be so trite.
“Trite?” Beleth rubs at his head. Hissing from her rough hit.
Yes trite, that’s what you are right now. Beleth looks mildly offended at that. “How?”
She frowns. Wondering how was it that she was the owner of their mother’s intelligence. Just sing, Beleth.
“Don’t want to,” Beleth said stubbornly- like the bullheaded fool that he is. “Why are you insisting?”
Don’t you understand, you fool? Byleth asked. Hitting him with his own pillow.
“Aren’t things fine now?” Beleth asked. Trite and stubborn and idiotic as ever. “We have music, isn’t that enough.”
We have each other, isn’t that enough?
That statement wasn’t spoken but Byleth had long learned how to hear between the lines. Her eyes suddenly sting as she realizes why she was being so stubborn about this. Why her heart was roaring with heat and why tears were starting to form.
Because the truth was: Beleth won’t sing because of her. Beleth won’t sing because Byleth cannot. Because Beleth hates everything that makes Byleth sad. Because singing made Byleth sad so Beleth hates singing.
Because her soulmate made her cry, Beleth hates his own.
Because she could not find her own, Beleth refuses to find his.
We have each other, isn’t that enough?
She had always thought that the answer is yes, yes it is enough. But now- now-
Byleth finally realizes that no, no, it isn’t enough.
No, Byleth said, sure as can be. That isn’t enough.
Byleth realizes that there is more to life than music and family. That even though she can live a life with just those two things, there are more things to life than that. That there are more things to life than just her career and her family. That there is more to life, that there is something beyond music and family, like amethyst eyes and carnations. That there are late-night notes written in elegant handwriting and well wishes before concerts. That there exists flushed cheeks and fetching smiles. That there exists a girl with elegant fingers and white violin. That there are things that exists outside of music and family that can make Byleth’s heart sing.
Byleth realizes this. And she wants Beleth to understand it, too.
She wants Beleth to understand that there are things outside of this. Outside of music and family. Outside of his violin and obligation to her.
She wants him to realize that she is fine now. That he doesn’t need to protect her anymore.
Because, she finally realizes that, for all he has lived, Beleth has never lived for himself.
Beleth lived his life for her. From his favorite food to his favorite shirt, it was always her. From his first smiles to his first words, it was always for her.
And he is still living for her. His music are for her and his violin was picked up so that he could be with her, protect her as she enters a new magical world filled with sound and music sheets. That he picked up the violin so that he can follow her now and continue to watch over her.
That, for all that he loves the violin now, he hadn’t started learning it out of his own self-interest.
Byleth has always known this. Had always known how much and how far Beleth would go for her. She had always known yet had never thought much of it. Because- because-
Byleth cries. Tears slipping from her eyes. Hot and burning as they roll down her cheeks.
It was always easier, to have her brother with her. Because Byleth had always feared a life without her brother’s constant presence. Because for all that Byleth tries to act strong, she is a selfish and weak girl in the end.
“Byleth,” Beleth called softly. Rising from his spot as he rushed to wipe her tears away. “Why are you crying? Is it because we were talking about soulmates? I always knew-”
Byleth covers his mouth. Shoving her hands over his lips as she shushes him. Still crying but no longer wanting to hear his words.
Enough. Byleth realizes. I have held you back for long enough.
Sing, she said. With shaky fingers but a resolute expression. Sing now.
“What?” Beleth was still trying to wipe her tears off, frantically wiping with tissues that were quickly running short. “What are you talking about now?”
It is enough, Beleth, Byleth signed. You have done enough for me.
I was a bad sister, and for that I’m sorry. Her tears are slowing now. As her hands stabilize itself.
I am fine now, Beleth, she said. I am fine and happy now. And I can stand on my own now.
She draws in a deep breath.
You don’t need to watch over me anymore. They are long grown now. Both twenty-year-olds already and it is enough. It has gone on for long enough and Byleth is done with being selfish. You need to go on your own way.
Beleth does not speak.
Stop living for me. Her heart feels lighter. And her determination burns brighter as her tears stop. You need to live your own life now.
“I am living my own-”
You are not! she spoke. You are not, Beleth and I am sick of watching you like this.
She leans closer to him, her lips brushing against his forehead. Just like how he did when they were young and fragile.
I want you to be happy, too. Just like how all he wanted was her happiness, now she wanted nothing more than his. I would want for nothing more.
She smiles at him as she brushes his bangs out of his eyes. So sing.
Beleth stares up at her. Starlights in his eyes and his hair mused. So like the child that he once was. A future ahead of him and no obligations to weigh him down.
“You’re fine, now?” he asked. Softly, delicately. Speaking as though he couldn’t register the words himself.
Yes. She smiles. The brightest she ever had and the most gentle as she pecks his cheek. I will be alright, Beleth.
“What do you want me to sing?” he smiles. A sad thing, that. But she was sure that his smiles would only grow brighter from now.
He kissed her forehead as he closes his eyes. She leans against him as she falls asleep to a lullaby. Sang in a voice gone long unused and entirely too raspy.
It is a comforting song.
A beautiful song.
It is another day in the cafe. Beleth humming some note of their piece as he absentmindedly taps the rhythm on the table as idle chatter surrounds them both.
“Claude, are you really not humming?” Byleth hears through the chatter.
“No, of course not, Your Princeliness,” a voice replies blithely. “Why do you ask?”
“I’ve been hearing humming all this morning now,” the other admitted and Byleth thinks she recognizes that voice. “If it’s not you then perhaps there are some troubles with my ears?”
“Or maaaybe,” the other voice drawled. “It’s your soulmate perhaps? With the lullaby you heard the other day well-”
Byleth pushes herself up as she spots blond hair and blue eyes and-
Beleth stops humming.
“Don’t be ridiculous Claude,” Dimitri argued. “You know mine and Edelgard’s situation. And look, it’s stopped so it’s something wrong with my ears.”
Beleth started humming again.
Dimitri scowls. “And it’s continued again.”
“Do you reckon-”
Dimitri holds up a hand. “Wait, it’s getting louder.”
Beleth stops humming and Byleth kicks him.
“Yes, it’s getting quite loud. In fact…” Dimitri stumbles through the crowd. Eyes hazy as he focuses on the sound. “It’s somewhere around… here-”
Dimitri makes direct eye contact with Beleth who stops humming.
Byleth kicks her brother who choked on his tiramisu.
“B- Beleth, would you mind singing?” Dimitri asked. Voice somewhat faint. And Byleth, sensing her brother’s denial about to come out pinches him.
Go, she mouthed. Sing, you idiot.
And he sang.
The goddamn alphabet song.
Dimitri winces as he covers his ears. But his eyes regaining its luster once more as it matches Beleth’s own. “I- it was you? All this time?”
“Hold up, did your soulmate just sang the fucking-”
Byleth stands up and very loudly cracks her knuckles as the boy zips his lips and stops talking.
“I- I can’t believe it!” Dimitri breathed out as the boy smiles. Wide and handsome and wow, he really was Beleth’s type. “Y- you know, it didn’t matter to me before that you were my soulmate or not, I still-”
Beleth does not speak and Byleth gives him once more chance.
“Not that you being my soulmate is bad no- the opposite of such in fact-”
Byleth pinches Beleth and that seems to spur her brother into action as Beleth stands up abruptly, hopefully saying something romantic to stop this slew of second-hand embarrassment from killing Byleth.
Beleth kisses Dimitri.
Dimitri’s friend starts laughing as he very obviously starts filming and Byleth does the same.
Might as well shame her brother for the rest of his life if he was really going to kill her like this.
But she smiles all the same, as embarrassing as her brother is.
Our paths are finally diverging, now, isn’t it.
Byleth misses one of Edelgard’s concert one day. Giving a girl a quick apology and smile before taking off to go visit her parents. Beleth bringing Dimitri along with him. All sappy with their hands intertwined and nonstop blushing, making Byleth seriously doubt her decision to let Beleth find his soulmate so early.
The dinner went well. As per usual with her dad making suspicious glances at Dimitri as the boy blushes under the attention while being all too oblivious to her mother’s threats on his life if he ever breaks Beleth’s heart.
Beleth frowning as he argued against his mother to lighten up on poor Dimitri and their mother starts bemoaning how she had done nothing and how all she was doing was warning Dimitri on how she can accidentally slip cyanide into her food is all.
Byleth leaves then as Beleth screeches and their mother rises to his challenge all the while Dimitri tries to stop the ongoing match.
She lies down on her bed. Finally alone as she was not about to share a room with the new pair. Already missing the violin that would accompany her to sleep before-
Violin hums in her ears. Entirely too real to be part of her dreams and too loud to be her neighbors. In fact-
It sounded like Edelgard and-
Byleth finds that she cannot sleep. Not when her heart was pounding like so.
So Byleth quickly makes her way to Byleth’s room. Knocking on the thing as Dimitri emerged, clothed and wide awake.
“Byleth? Uh, your brother and I are not doing anythin-”
“What is it ‘Leth?” Beleth asked casually as he lounge on the bed. Hand supporting his head as he lays shirtless.
The dorms, she signed quickly. Can you hear music through them?
“No?” Beleth answered quizzically. “They’re soundproofed, Byleth. All the dorms are. In fact-”
It is raining tonight, raining and raining-
Byleth finally realizes where she had heard it from.
Her heart pounding in her chest as the violin comes to a graceful end. As everything clicks together like a giant jigsaw and-
She rushes out. Quickly packing her bags as she grabs the keys to her car.
She needs to go back-
Back to where Edelgard is-
Will there ever be a day where you can reply?
Yes, yes, the day is now, Byleth thinks frantically. Yes- yes-
I’ll reply to you now.
She parks her car quickly as she rushes back to her dorm. Heart pounding a staccato beat as she runs. Her sandals beating against the pavement as her heartbeat fills her ears. As she hears nothing but violin and childish melodies as she can think nothing but: Edelgard, Edelgard, Edelgard-
She slams on Edelgard’s door, knocking frantically as she stands in the middle of winter. Dressed in nothing but a thin t-shirt and shorts. With sandals covering her feet.
Yet she cannot feel the cold over the heat.
“Byleth!” Edelgard greeted as she opens the door quickly. “What are you doing here- and in those clothes no less!”
Edelgard, Byleth thinks. Heart beating a cicada’s beat.
Hello, Byleth signed. Heart full and face lit with fire. My name is Byleth.
She had imagined this once. If she could meet her soulmate and if she had had a voice. She would say this-
But now, even without a voice, she had found her soulmate.
“Has the cold turn you delirious?” Edelgard asked as she frowns. Hands warm around Byleth’s cheeks.
No, no, Byleth thinks.
It is you-
I heard your violin tonight, Byleth said. As the snow falls around them.
“But how?” Edelgard asked her eyes widening.
Raining and raining, Byleth repeated, her feet tapping out the melody. I heard that once before.
“How, you mean to say-”
Will there ever be a day where you can reply? You asked me once, Byleth said. With her hands in place of a voice and her fingers in place of words. I couldn’t reply back then.
“Byleth-” Edelgard’s gasped.
I can reply now, Edelgard, Byleth said sincerely. Her fingers more steady than ever. Can you sing for me once more?
Edelgard laughs, slightly hysterical as she brushes the snow out of Byleth’s hair. “I thought my soulmate didn’t want me, you know. I thought I had forgotten them entirely, you know. But I didn’t- I couldn’t. ”
Byleth leans into her touch.
“Then I met you, Byleth.” Edelgard leans closer. “I met you and for the first time, I thought, ‘maybe I don’t need a soulmate. Not if I have her.’”
I'm sorry, Byleth said. I'm sorry that I couldn't reply to you back then.
"I hated my soulmate for a while, you see. For my world was wholly silent without them and I could not bear the pity and silence combined." Edelgard glances down for a split second. "I should've known that it would be you, really."
Byleth intertwines their hand, quirking an eyebrow at Edelgard causing the girl to laugh. "When I met you, when I heard your first practice, no- the first time you sang to me- my world... it- it was no longer silent. And somehow your melodies have etched it's way into my life and I had thought again: 'I don't need a soulmate. Not if I can have her.'"
Byleth tilts her head down, smiling softly.
I don’t need a soulmate either, not if I can have you.
Edelgard laughs as Byleth leans down for a kiss.
The sound of violin and piano ringing in her ears.
I cannot sing to you with words. Not then and not ever. But it is not a bad thing.
Because can still sing to you, in my own language.
Edelgard laughs. Like bells and violin strings.
In our language.
I hope y'all enjoy that chapter. I promised to tie up all loose ends and i did it lads. to the best of my abilities lol. regardless i gotta at least insert my boy dimitri and claude in there somewhere and dimitri ended up being super important so w h o o ps sorry not sorry lmao. writing this was definitely super fun haha so i might continue with a few extras or drabbles but this is the end for now!
Please leave a kudo and comment on your thoughts, what you liked, what you didn't. just anything, really, to make my day super good and happy! love y'all<3