During their travel, Nessa found herself waking up, more than once, thrown over her father's shoulders. She always had difficulty waking, he often compared her to a lazy house cat in that regard.
"Isn't she heavy?" She heard one of the students asking. Edelgard, if she remembered correctly. She was the pretty one from the Empire...
"Nah," she felt her father say. "I've been carrying her for years now, so I guess I could be used to the weight by now."
"For years? Does she sleep that much?" That was Claude of the Alliance.
"She just has a lot of trouble with sleep in general. So, we've adapted. Let's just say, this kid can sleep anywhere. And, nine times out of ten, if you pick her up and carry her, she's probably going to get tired."
Even in her half awake state, Nessa snorted. She then shifted slightly so that she could get more comfortable and fall back to sleep.
"Stop squirming, you're going to fall!" Her father told her.
That made Nessa open one eye, and turn her head towards him. She stopped moving for a moment, and then started her squirming again. Once she was comfortable, she flopped back down across his shoulders and covered her eyes with an arm.
"As you can see, we often compared her to a cat." One massive hand ruffled her hair as lightly as possible. It was the little things that she and her father did to express their affection that just made her happy. Even if she wasn't one to show her affection.
"How adorable," Edelgard commented as Nessa leaned into her father's touch.
Blood rushed to Nessa's face and she shifted again, only to cover her face from view. She was not adorable. She was a feared mercenary. Mercenaries were not adorable.
With that, the conversation turned to something else that Nessa didn't care to pay attention to. But, as the conversation went on, the words because nothing more than background noise, and, just before Nessa fell asleep, she heard a faint whisper.
It became a widely known fact that the newest professor would sleep in the strangest of places. More often than not, she was found asleep by the fishing pond, usually on the lap of Jeralt (which every student found to be undeniably cute), but there were instances were students actually found her asleep on her desk. Not in her seat with her head on the desk, but her entire body on the desk with her limbs hanging off it. There were rumors of her sleeping in the greenhouse, on a table out in the courtyard, and another student swore they saw her napping railing of the bridge that lead to the Cathedral.
Though given the source of that last place, Edelgard was unconvinced that was true. Caspar had to be telling tall tales there, no one in their right mind would sleep there of all places… Edelgard just kept telling herself that it was a joke.
And she tried to believe that was a joke, until today.
"Captain Jeralt," she said when she noticed his large figure wandering towards the dormitories.
It was late at night, and sleep wasn't coming easily, so she decided to take a walk, she just needed to feel the wind on her face again. Something. Anything. She could be locked away in her room, not when she got like this.
"Ah, Edelgard, right? It's late, you should be in bed." He said, drawing nearer to her. In his arms he held her sleeping professor. Even in sleep she clung to him like a child holding on to their blanket. It was one of the most precious sights Edelgard had seen.
"I decided to take a walk," she said lamely, "sleep was not finding me very easily this evening."
He hummed in understanding before looking down at his child.
"She's like that too. Someone said that she was sleeping on a balcony, so I had to go get her down and bring her back to bed before the word got out."
He paused for a moment, shifting the professor a little so he could better carry her. Despite the jostling, Nessa didn't even stir. Her head rested against Jeral's shoulder, and her fingers were holding on to his shirt.
"When we were mercenaries, she and I usually slept in the same tent, or the same room… It just made things easier, logistically, having my kid and I bunk together. So being so far away is a bit weird for both of us." Jeralt explained to her after a moment. It was sweet to see how much he cared for his daughter.
"Why not bring her to your quarters?" Edelgard asked curiously. If they both felt uncomfortable, logic said they should just bunk together.
"Ah, people would probably talk. I don't want that for her. She's… not really used to a normal society, and that's probably my fault," Jeralt admitted, looking oddly sheepish. "We didn't live the most normal of lives. Either way, she needs to get used to this sooner or later. I won't be here forever… but enough about that. You didn't need to listen to an old man's grumbling... I'm gonna take this one to bed so have a good night."
Before Edelgard even knew it, she blurted out, "would you like company?"
Jeralt gave her a confused look.
"Back to the dormitories," she clarified quickly, now trying to come up with a valid excuse. "I should probably go to sleep soon… any fill you in on her usual sleeping areas, just in case."
"I don't know what's worse, that she has regular nap spots, or that her students know them," Jeralt mumbled, looking down at his kid. "Well, come along. Someone should probably make sure you get back safe too."
That made Edelgard grin.
As they walked, Edelgard raddled off every place that the students caught the professor sleeping. The more she spoke, the more thoughtful Jeralt became.
"You said she was half hanging off?"
"Almost everything," Edelgard confirmed. Every single time she found the Professor, she was always hanging off of something, like her desk, the balcony, the docks, even a table in the gardens. Yes, Nessa has a favorite table to nap on.
"Bah, it's like when she was a baby all over again."
That earned him an interested look from Edelgard.
"When she was a baby, she refused to fall asleep unless she was carried. She never cried or fussed, but she would have angry eyebrows, as the men called them. For awhile her eyebrows were the only way we could tell how she was feeling. When she got old enough, she would just throw her arms up to demand to be picked up. She was carried a lot, and I'm still carrying her around now, come to think of it… I guess she's trying to make it feel like I'm carrying her again so she can try and get some sleep."
"You did say she had a great difficulty when it came to getting sleep," Edelgard commented, remembering the first time she witnessed a sleeping Nessarose Eisner thrown over Jeralt's massive shoulders. Who knew she could be ever cuter than then? Not Edelgard.
"I was just hoping she grew out of this."
Edelgard hummed, not quite knowing what to say to that. On one hand, it was nice to see that the Professor was human and had her own weaknesses, but on the other hand, her particular sleeping habits were not exactly ideal. Needing to be carried to sleep well? That could present a huge issue, not only to the Professor, but also to her classmates in the event that the professor was exhausted.
It wasn't until they got to the Professor's room, did an idea strike Edelgard.
The room was sparsely decorated, if one could say that. She had her lesson plans on her desk, papers, and a few other class related items, but aside from that she had nothing except for what looked to be a thick blanket on her bed, and a few musical instruments in the corner. Apparently Nessarose Eisner had some musical background. It was something Edelgard would note, and store away until she had a chance to speak with Dorothea.
"Someone could use a few more pillows," Edelgard commented offhandedly. And then she realized that it may actually help her Professor's situation.
"You think?" Jeralt asked her, gently placing the professor on her bed.
Almost instantly Nessa reached out to grab something in her sleep. After a moment of two of flailing, Edelgard unclipped her shoulder cape and placed it next to her professor. It took a second, but she sleeping woman found it and then pulled it right to her chest, trying to curl into it.
"I think my point has been made," Edelgard told him.
"Huh… well I'll be… good thinking. Now I know why Byleth thinks so highly of you."
That made Edelgard's heart skip a beat. Her face flushed, only slightly, and she looked towards Jeralt.
"She- she thinks highly of me?"
Jeralt nodded, covering his daughter with the thick blanket that was folded at the edge of her bed.
"Yeah. When I gave her advice for picking classes, I told her to go for the Golden Deer house because they seemed easier for a new professor to handle, no offense," Jeralt explained after he tucked his child in.
"None taken," Edelgard knew how unruly their class could be. Honestly, how could such a small group of people be such a headache?
"But she said that you struck her as a person that she could count on when it came to this, and she was convinced from the start to take on your house. So I'd say that you played a major role in swaying her to your side." Also it didn't hurt that Edelgard was a pretty girl, and his child was absolutely useless and shy when it came to pretty girls. Edelgard didn't need to know that… and she also didn't need to know that his daughter woke him up at four in the morning because she was scared to have breakfast with the Princess of the Empire.
"I see…" Edelgard mumbled, taking in the new information. "You called her Byleth. I thought her name was Nessa?"
"Caught that, did you?" Jeralt asked. He cast one last look at his sleeping child, before walking out the door with Edelgard trailing behind him. "Long story short, her middle name is Byleth. It was supposed to be her first name. Her mother chose it, but after she passed away… well, it was hard to use it so I swapped her first and middle names."
"So her name was supposed to be Byleth Nessa?"
"Byleth Nessarose," Jeralt corrected. "We all just call her Nessa to keep it short, but it's actually Nessarose. But honestly we tend to swap her name's around depending on where we are, or the situation at hand. She's either Byleth or Nessa… or Nessarose Byleth if she's in trouble."
Nessarose. Edelgard would be filling that little bit of information away for the next forever . Of course a beautiful woman like her would have a beautiful name.
"Anyway, thanks for helping me with her. I'll keep an eye out around the monastery. And if you catch her sleeping in weird places again…"
"I'll be sure to send someone to tell you."
"Thanks," Jeralt replied. "you're a good kid. I'm glad she has you to help her out."
"Of course," Edelgard answered, not really knowing how to take that compliment. "Goodnight, Captain."
As Edelgard walked out of her Professor's room, she could hear Jeralt,
"Goodnight, By. Papa loves you. Sleep tight, kiddo."
Well if that wasn't the cutest thing, Edelgard didn't know what was.
"Good morning, Edelgard," Nessa said her class leader entered their classroom. "The strangest thing happened to me this morning and--"
"You woke up in your room instead of on a balcony?" Edelgard asked, unable to keep even the smallest of smiles off her face.
"Yes, how did you guess?"
"I saw Jeralt carrying you back to your room and I accompanied him," Edelgard answered honestly, "I thought he should know all the strange places you keep sleeping."
"Oh…" Nessa looked away, blushing ever so slightly. "That would likely explain why I have this." She held up Edelgard's shoulder cape. "For a moment I thought I may have been walking in my sleep, but I do not usually do such things."
"I must have dropped this last night," Edelgard lied through her teeth, wishing to save her professor some embarrassment about her need to cuddle something, despite how utterly adorable it was. Despite being emotionless on the outside, Edelgard had it on good authority that the woman did get embarrassed.
(Jeralt was all too willing to share funny stories about his kid, and Edelgard ate it up.)
"Then I am happy to have found it for you," Nessa answered. While her facial expressions remained virtually unchanged, her eyebrows shifted just slightly.
"For awhile her eyebrows were the only way we could tell how she was feeling." That little tidbit of information suddenly became the most useful thing that Edelgard knew about her professor.
"Thank you, Professor."
"I am always happy to assist," the young woman answered. And, judging by a quirk of her eyebrows, Edelgard guessed that she actually meant it.
Three days later, Nessarose Byleth Eisner woke up on top of a rather large mound of pillows. Not that she minded, they were quite comfortable, but she was fairly certain that she fell asleep on the breezeway by the Golden Deer classroom. Who in the hell managed to get her down?
Her answer was found in the form of a small note on her bedside table.
Perhaps these will help you find a better night sleep in your own bed.
Please stop climbing things to sleep on, it took longer than we care to admit to get you down.
It was in Edelgard's handwriting.
"Who is we?" Nessa asked, now sitting up in bed.
She would get her answer in class when all her students looked at her eagerly. While she didn't understand human mannerisms quite well, she did know enough to determine that something was up, as they would say.
"How are you liking your pillows, Professor?" Petra asked Nessa.
"Petra!" The entire class yelled, sans Hubert, who just rolled his eyes, and Edelgard, who smacked her head on the desk.
"Oh!" Petra flushed, realizing her mistake, "I mean, are you being well rested?"
"It's too late, you ruined it, Petra," Caspar grumbled, resting his cheek against his fist.
"I knew I should have never come to you all," Edelgard stated, now lifting herself off her desk and turning to face the class. "What did I explicitly tell you all?"
"Don't say anything to the professor," the whole class chimed in a sad sort of monotone voice.
"And what did you do?"
"It was technically Petra who did it!" Caspar protested quickly, rising from his seat to point to the Brigid native.
"And if she didn't say anything were you planning to, Caspar?" Edelgard asked, glaring at Caspar with her arms crossed.
"Well… um… I'll sit back down now."
Satisfied, Edelgard sat back down and looked back up at Nessa.
"I did not wish to draw any attention to it, but all the same, Professor, I do hope you enjoy your pillows. Bernadetta put quite a lot of work into stitching them."
"Oh no, you hate them! I'm sorry Professor! I knew it! They're horrible! For shame, Bernie!" She was cut off by Nessa interrupting her poor anxiety riddled student.
"They are squishy," Nessa said, mostly so Bernadetta would stop chastising herself. Her eyebrows shifted so that they rose ever so slightly, and her ears even moved up as well. All subtle signs that were caught by an ever watchful Edelgard.
"I like squishy," Nessa finally said. "They are quite nice. I have never been given a pillow before. I like pillows."
"You don't have to lie to make me feel better, Professor!" Bernadetta whined.
"She isn't lying Bernadetta," Edelgard declared, looking back at the daughter of House Varley.
"Why would I lie?" Nessa asked her students.
The whole group just sighed, their Professor still had a lot to learn.
After class, the Black Eagles all found flowers on their beds. Except Bernadetta, who had a small pot filled with a small pitcher plant sitting on her desk.
Armed with brand new squishy pillows, the Black Eagles traded one problem for another. Now their professor was no longer sleeping in strange places… as much. But instead she was sleeping almost as much as Linhardt!
"Professor! Wake up! Class starts in ten minutes!" Edelgard hollered through the door.
"We could just break it down," Ingrid suggested. She was new to the Black Eagles, but she (along with Felix) quickly followed Sylvain to their class. Partially to keep him under control, and also because of the Professor.
"Just because you broke down Bernadetta's door doesn't mean I'm breaking down our professor's door," Edelgard told her pointedly.
"She's probably still sleeping," Ingrid said. "Dimitri told us she slept most of the way to Garreg Mach, and nothing short of getting dropped could wake her."
Edelgard remembered that. She watched Jeralt even jump with her thrown across his shoulders and she didn't even stir. The group encountered a few bandits on the way back to the Monastery, and Jeralt had to drop Nessa to draw his weapon, and that was the only thing they found that could wake her.
"How long do we have now?"
"Uh, about nine minutes," Ingrid answered. "Hope it doesn't take too long for her to get ready."
Sighing, Edelgard backed up a few paces. "I cannot believe I'm about to do this," she mumbled before running as hard as she could at the door.
The poor door didn't stand a chance, splintering open when Edelgard hit it. And, to no one's surprise, their professor didn't stir at the commotion. Instead she was curled around one of her many squishy pillows, with her overly thick blanket pulled over her. If Edelgard wasn't so annoyed at Nessa and her napping, she would have thought it to be cute.
"Come on, help me pick her up," Edelgard ordered.
"Why are we picking her up?"
"So we can drop her." The Empire's princess declared. "I will not have my instruction time delayed because she doesn't know how to wake up on time."
Between the two of them, they managed to throw Nessa over Edelgard's significantly smaller shoulders relatively easily. Clothed in just her sleep wear, Edelgard was painfully aware of every little delightful curve of Nessarose Eisner that was now pressed against her back and shoulders.
"Are you just going to drop her on the ground?"
"No offense to you, Edelgard, but Captain Jeralt is about twice your size. If you want to simulate that height, you're probably going to need to stand on a desk or something."
"Is that really necessary?" Edelgard asked her.
"Class starts in six minutes, so you tell me."
In that particular moment, Edelgard hated Ingrid and her ability to actually make sense. She was starting to miss being one of two people (the other, naturally, being Hubert) in her house that made any sort of sense.
"Help me up."
And that was how Nessarose Byleth Eisner received one of her rudest awakenings in her entire short life.
She leaped to her feet and instantly lunged at her attacker with the intent to kill. Unfortunately, the only thing she managed to accomplish was to knock Edelgard off of the desk, and throwing Ingrid to the floor before pinning the both of them down with her hands on their necks.
Thankfully Nessa realized what was happening before she could crush either student's trachea in her fist, and she sprang backwards.
"I- um. That was not good," Nessa stated, very red in the face. "I apologize."
Ingrid coughed a few times before speaking. "Class is in three minutes, Professor…"
Both of Nessa's eyebrows raised, not much, but enough to show surprise. Well, perhaps not to Ingrid, but Edelgard could tell. She started being more attuned to her Professor's facial expressions, as limited as they may be.
"Of course. Please, lead a review over yesterday's lessons and I will arrive shortly," Nessa said in an even tone. "We will continue our discussion on effective urban tactics, so try and focus on that, please."
"Of course, Professor!" Ingrid said quickly.
She didn't hesitate, fleeing from her Professor's room as fast as she could, massaging her poor neck in the process. It was Edelgard who remained, still on the floor and looking up at her Professor in shock. A whirlwind of emotions flew through the princess. Fear, shock, arousal, wait! Why the Hell was that there? Nothing about that was arousing! Nothing! At all!
"Edelgard," Nessa stated, now standing over the princess her hand outstretched. The same hand that nearly crushed Edelgard's throat.
Gingerly, Edelgard reached out, and she was carefully pulled to her feet and right into the chest of her teacher. She steadied herself on Nessa's shoulders before stepping back a little, but leaving her hands in place.
"I apologize for my actions," Nessa told her class leader in what seemed to be a regretful tone. "Should you need a moment, I will not penalize you for taking some time to yourself before you return to class. The fault is mine, after all."
Edelgard could feel her Professor's hands resting lightly on her hips, like the woman had no idea if this was an acceptable action. Though, knowing her Professor's limited social skills, she probably didn't. All the same, she was trying to be careful and Edelgard was touched by just how hard her professor was trying, even if she didn't quite understand. Gloves hands slowly slid down muscular arms until they came to rest on Nessa's biceps. It was rare to see Nessa in such a state of undress, and she couldn't help but let her eyes wander up the defined muscles of her arms, up to the smooth skin of her neck. As she continued to stare, she noticed that her Professor had quite pink ears. Actually, her entire face was slightly more pink than Edelgard realized.
Oh! She's blushing!
"I'm sorry," Edelgard said quickly, removing her hands from Nessa. "I didn't realize I was making you uncomfortable, my teacher."
Nessa quickly removed her hands from Edelgard's hips and crossed her arms over her chest. Her body language said she was embarrassed, even if her face was as impassive as ever. Her face was still a little pink, and she made it a point to be avoiding Edelgard's gaze.
"I am not used to being in close proximity to others, outside of my father. I am learning," Nessa stated after a moment.
"If you don't like it, Professor, it's completely acceptable to ask people not to touch you."
"It is not that," Nessa explained, now looking back at Edelgard, "I think I like it. I just… I do not know. It confuses me."
Nessa twitched her head, as if she heard something, but she quickly shook her head. Perhaps she had a strange thought. The inner workings of the great mind of Nessarose Byleth Eisner were an enigma to Edelgard.
"Well if you need help, my teacher, I am more than happy to assist you… but perhaps after you get dressed for the day," Edelgard teased with a small smile on her face.
Nessa cocked her head to the side, and then looked down to realize what she was wearing.
"Ah, yes. I should probably dress myself in something that is not my father's shirt…" She paused, "I should probably return this…" she muttered, picking at the plain white shirt. It was massive on her smaller frame.
How was one person so precious?
"I won't say anything," Edelgard replied with a smile. "I should go to make sure the class isn't being… well you know."
"I do not know, but I trust you to handle whatever is happening all the same." Nessa told her, already pulling her clothes for the day.
"Of course, Professor. Uh- Hey wait! Let me leave before you start changing! The door is wide open! Are you trying to give the entire monastery a show?"
"Show?" Nessa asked, now clad in just her underwear. "I am not in a show, Edelgard. Dorothea is in shows. At least, that is what she says."
"Ugh, nevermind." There was an image Edelgard would never get out of her head ever again.
And she definitely wasn't going to be sleeping well the next few nights.
On the occasion when the Black Eagles were sent out on missions, Edelgard would share her tent with the other girls in the class. However with other students transferring into the class, Edelgard found the girl's tent to be a little cramped, which was how she ended up bunking in Nessa's tent.
"It is a little small," Nessa said as Edelgard crawled in with her bedroll.
"Seems plenty large for two," Edelgard commented as she unrolled her bedroll.
"Not if you are my father," Nessa stated simply.
The statement made Edelgard snort, and then she realized what had happened.
Nessarose Byleth Eisner made a joke.
A funny joke!
She had a sense of humor? She had a sense of humor! She was learning!
"Was… that a joke?" Edelgard asked after a moment, completely ignoring that she let out the most unladylike snort in this history of the Adrestian Empire. If she didn't mention it, then Nessa might not, and that was all that mattered.
"Can a joke also be a fact?"
Edelgard sat down and thought about that statement.
"I suppose they can," she finally said, "Either way, I am going to count it and if you will excuse me, Professor, I have to let everyone know that you made a joke."
After all, this was a momentous occasion! The professor made a joke! Albeit a very sarcastic sort of joke, but it was progress. They would make a person out of her yet!
"I hope your time is enjoyable," Nessa said as Edelgard scrambled towards the entrance of their tent. "I believe I will go be bed."
Edelgard crawled out of the tent, then turned. "Good night, Professor. I will do my best to be quiet upon my return."
Nessa nodded, and the second that Edelgard was gone, she pulled her blankets over her shoulders, and pulled one of the many pillows that Bernadetta made her, to her chest to cuddle it. She found that it helped her sleep better, especially since her father was no longer there to carry her all over the camp as she slept.
By the time Edelgard returned to the tent, Nessa was dead to the world (and wearing another of Jeralt's shirts, so she assumed Nessa never returned the shirt to him). If she wasn't breathing, Edelgard would be convinced that she was dead.
With the Professor out like a candle light, Edelgard changed out of her battle wear and into a high collared, long sleeve nightgown, and slid into her makeshift bed.
When Edelgard woke up, she was sweltering. She was sweating up a storm, and it felt like she was sleeping right next to a fire. Why was she so hot?
Cracking open an eye, she got a face full of hair that definitely didn't belong to her. Upon further investigation, the hair belonged to her professor, who was currently curled up, half on top of Edelgard. The woman was dead to the world, but seemed to be happy snuggling Edelgard. If she wasn't so overheated she would find the Professor's antics absolutely adorable. She was rather precious.
Edelgard kicked her blankets off and made a move to try and extricate herself from her Professor's cuddly grasp. A small whine of protest escaped the older woman's mouth, making Edelgard's heart melt just a little. After an inward debate that lasted a literal eternity (at least to her), Edelgard still crawled out from under her sleeping professor, only to slip on her gloves and some longs socks. While she may have told Nessa about what happened to her, she didn't want her Professor to be seeing the scars.
(Though if she did, Edelgard was convinced her professor would not even bat an eye at them. The woman tended to just accept things as the are without much question. One could say that she rolled with the punches well.)
Once she was sufficiently covered, and now significantly cooler having temporarily escaped from the furnace that was Nessarose Eisner, she set about crawling back into the professor's warm embrace.
"C'me back," she heard Nessa mumble in a sleepy voice. "Warm."
It was starting to get cold out now, and it seemed that Nessarose Eisner was not a fan of the cold.
Edelgard couldn't help but smile at how adorable her Professor looked.
"Has anyone ever called you cute before," Edelgard asked, crawling back under the covers. Almost instantly Nessa attached herself to Edelgard's side, curling up as best she could.
"Shh, pillows do not speak," Nessa mumbled, already making herself comfortable with her head resting on Edelgard's shoulder.
"Is that what I am to you? A pillow?"
"Shhh pillow student. Byleth sleepy."
Edelgard what was cuter, Nessa's slurred speech or the fact that she was so gosh darn cuddly.
"Seems like you got over your fear of being close to people," Edelgard mumbled.
Out of nowhere, Nessa's hand pressed into Edelgard's cheek awkwardly and gently pushed it back down onto the pillow behind her.
"'s night night time," Nessa mumbled quietly.
Edelgard did her best not to laugh, and soon enough drifted off to sleep.
"Professor! Are you alright?" Edelgard asked after class.
Nessa was standing with both her arms outstretched and bracing herself against the desk. It almost looked like she was trying to keep herself from falling over, which was a strange though, really.
"No," Nessa answered honestly. "I am not feeling very well at all."
"Perhaps we should go see Professor Manuela," Edelgard said quickly, concerned coloring her features.
"I did earlier." Nessa stated, "I was told to take it easy. What am I supposed to be taking easy? Manuela does not make sense."
Edelgard sighed. They really needed to work on Nessa's understanding of common phrases. She was just as bad as Petra!
"It's a figure of speech. It means you need to not work as hard as usual. You need to relax so your body can fight whatever sickness it caught."
"I understand," Nessa mumbled. She tried to stand up straight, only to violently slam her hands back down on the desk. Her eyes were clenched shut and for the first time since Edelgard knew her, Nessa was actually showing a pained emotion on her face.
Without hesitating, Edelgard scooped Nessa up, carrying her bridal style. For a brief moment, she imagined Nessa garbed in a traditional Empire wedding gown, but she shoved that thought right out of her head as quick as it came. Her teacher was sick, and Edelgard needed to get her back to her bed immediately. Not fantasize about marrying her.
But… no, focus.
"Edelgard, I do not believe this is appropriate. At least, Seteth said it is--"
"Sickness trumps whatever nonsense Seteth said," Edelgard declared. "Do you think you could have walked all the way back to your room?"
"... Eventually," Nessa answered after a moment.
"My way is faster."
Nessa couldn't argue with that. In all reality, Nessa couldn't do much, other than hang on to her student and be carried back to her room. With every step Edelgard took, Nessa found her eyes slowly drifting shut. A few minutes later, Edelgard could hear the soft snores of a sleeping Nessarose.
"It seems Jeralt wasn't kidding," Edelgard mumbled as she pushed her teacher's bedroom door open.
She gently placed Nessa on the bed, and took great care in removing certain pieces of armor that should not be slept in. There was a part of her that said she should probably get the professor into some nightwear, but considering that Nessa wore nothing but her underwear and one of Jeralt's old shirts to sleep in, Edelgard decided that was likely not the best idea. So she settled on removing anything overly uncomfortable… and putting one of Jeralt's shirts out on a chair next to the bed, that way Nessa didn't have to get out of bed.
Soon enough, Nessa was curled up around her massive amount of pillows, with her overly large blanket thrown over her. Satisfied with her work, Edelgard left her adorable sleeping teacher, but made a mental note to come back with some soup for her. Soup always made one feel better.
She was asleep on his grave.
It was still raining and the class had spent all morning looking for her amidst the storm. Nessa was rarely late to class. So when she didn't show after an hour, they knew they needed to hunt for her. It was Edelgard who found her sleeping on the cold stone, curled underneath her cloak in an attempt to keep the rain off her.
Sighing, Edelgard took a seat on the cold wet ground next to her instructor. She could feel the residual water on the grass soaking into her shorts and tights, but ignored it. Clothes could be washed after all. At least she had an umbrella to fight off some of the rain.
"I do not need company, Edelgard," Nessa croaked from under her cloak. Her voice sounded raw, like she had been sobbing. The thought of Nessarose Eisner sobbing was a strange one to be sure, but it was something Edelgard saw with her own two eyes… along with enraged screaming that turned into sobs, and then hiccups as Nessa sobbed over her Father's dead body on the day of his death.
"Perhaps I would like some company," Edelgard answered her, in a quiet voice that could hardly be heard over the rain.
Nessa seemed to accept that answer (even though they both knew it was a lie) because she didn't reply. Instead she pulled herself further under her cloak.
"How are you feeling?" Edelgard asked after a moment of awkward silence.
Nessa didn't respond immediately. Instead she tried to pull the edges of her cloak around her, minimizing the amount of openings. Eventually she spoke and just said:
Always so literal.
"Cold." The woman added after a moment.
Wordlessly Edelgard held her umbrella over her teacher's prone form, letting the cold rain hit her skin. It was sad, but also a bit refreshing in a way. If she was feeling poetic, Edelgard might say it felt like washing away the sins of her past. Might. She was never one for poetry, though. That seemed like something that would lie in Dorothea's realm of expertise.
Nessa popped her head out from under her cloak when she felt the rain stop. Her eyes met Edelgard and confusion was written all over her eyebrows. Edelgard said nothing, opting to shrug instead.
Nessa sat up, and pulled her cloak over her shoulders. It was clear she was soaked to the bone, and while her eyes might be red and puffy, her lips were blue and teeth were chattering. Her hair stuck out in strange directions, but the bulk of it was plastered to her face and the back of her neck.
"I do not mind the rain," Nessa finally said looking at the grave of her parents. "Papa once said that rain brings growth and growth is just part of life. When we grow, we become strong, so really, rain brings strength. He said that when it rains, we should reflect on our growth and our new strength that has come with it."
"Wise words," Edelgard said. Definitely not something she would have expected from Jeralt, but she liked the saying all the same.
"Papa said many things," Nessa answered, pushing Edelgard's umbrella back so that it covered the young princess. "He liked the rain… it makes me miss him."
"The rain is refreshing," Edelgard agreed. She opted to put her umbrella by her side instead of holding it. Like she said, there was something refreshing about just sitting in the rain. And she was already wet, so what did a few more raindrops matter to her?
Nessa simply nodded.
"Would you like to be left alone?" Edelgard asked her after a moment of staring at the headstone.
Nessa didn't answer for a moment, when she did, she avoided looking at Edelgard.
"No." She said when she finally answered. "It is nice…"
Neither knew how long they sat in the rain. It was certainly long enough for them to be shivering profusely, blue lips, and huddled together with arms wrapped around each other and heads resting on shoulders. It was also certainly long enough for Professor Manuela to give them each an uncharacteristically stern lecture and forcing them to stay the night in the infirmary due to profuse sneezing from both girls.
That night, as Nessa tossed and turned in the uncomfortable infirmary bed, she heard scraping across the ground. When she looked over to it, she saw Edelgard pushing her bed right next to Nessa's. Once the beds were pushed together, Edelgard crawled back into bed and awkwardly pulled her professor into an awkward hug.
"I'm sorry if that was uncomfortable, but you looked like you needed it," Edelgard told her quietly when she let go of Nessa.
Nessa also said nothing, but she scooted herself just enough so that she could rest her head against Edelgard's chest and curl into her side.
Once she was settled, she spoke.
"I like it," Nessa whispered. "It is nice."
Edelgard smiled, "I'm glad."
For the first time since Jeralt passed away, Nessarose Byleth Eisner slept peacefully through the night, letting Edelgard's heartbeat lull her to sleep.
Nessa was surprisingly light.
Of course Edelgard had picked her up multiple times since Nessa arrived at Garreg Mach, but still, she couldn't get over how light she was. For some reason Edelgard always expected her to be much heavier. Like the time she picked Nessa up and dropped her off a desk, Edelgard was very aware of the professor's body pressed against her back, and the feeling of her breath upon her neck. With every breath Nessarose Eisner took, Edelgard felt her face heat up even more.
"Do you require assistance, Lady Edelgard," Hubert asked from beside her.
"I'm fine, Hubert," Edelgard said quickly, trying to ignore the blush creeping up her neck. "Let's just return to the monastery… The Professor may need medical attention."
"Of course, Lady Edelgard."
They walked back in silence. The rest of their class flanked them, ready just in case anyone else decided to try something while their professor and class leader was down and out for the count. Petra and Ingrid flew ahead to ensure the path was clear, while Caspar and Ferdinand stuck close to Edelgard, since they would offer the most protection.
"She seems fine, just tired," Linhardt spoke as they drew closer to the monastery. "I understand the feeling."
"Linhardt," Edelgard all but growled at him.
"I'm serious. Whatever happened to her likely put a large strain on her body, and she passed out. Nothing so dramatic as you're thinking."
"Either way, I'm taking her to Professor Manuela," Edelgard told the group.
However before they could even get to Manuela's office, they were cut off by an oddly concerned looking Seteth.
"I will take the Professor from here," he said, "you all can go rest."
"No!" Edelgard argued quickly.
When all eyes turned to her, she felt her cheeks heat up slightly. Talking back to Seteth was probably not the best idea she's ever had.
"I mean," she started off.
In that moment, Nessa shifted, mumbling something unintelligible before burying her face into Edelgard's neck. If Edelgard wasn't red earlier, she certainly was now. Off to the side Edelgard could hear Dorothea doing her best to hide a giggle.
"Well, the professor has been having difficulties sleeping with all that has happened," Edelgard said quickly. "I just think jostling her around might wake her when she needs to rest and recover."
Of course that was all bullshit. Nessa, once asleep, was damn near impossible to wake unless she wanted to be awake. But still… if Seteth bought her bullshit excuse, it just meant that Edelgard got to hold the woman just a little bit longer, and she was alright with that.
"And I can give my report in the events that transpired," Edelgard added as a just in case.
"As you wish," Seteth finally said after a moment. "Come with me… the rest of you get cleaned up and take the day to relax."
The next thing Edelgard knew, she was in the Archbishop's chambers and her Professor was being lifted from her shoulders and carefully placed on the Archbishop's bed. Instinctively Nessa's arms reached out, and without hesitation, Edelgard parted with her shoulder cape so that Nessa could curl around it. It was precious to see her professor clutching it like a child would hold their baby blanket. Though Nessa didn't have a baby blanket or anything sentimental to give her comfort as she slept. She had Jeralt. And Jeralt was dead.
"She likes to cuddle things," Edelgard mumbled when Seteth and the Archbishop looked at her, each with one brow raised. She had no intention of telling them how she knew that particular tidbit of information, and they didn't seem to care enough to press her on the issue. For that, she was thankful.
Quickly Edelgard rattled off her report of what happened out in the forest, making a mental note of any and all reactions that Seteth and Archbishop Rhea made. She would have to tell Hubert everything that happened.
"Then the professor fainted and we rushed to bring her back here. Linhardt theorized that what ever happened to her during the forbidden spell was just too taxing for her body to handle, coupled with her inability to sleep well this past month, is what resulted in her passing out, but we weren't sure so I had every intention to take her to Professor Manuela until we were intercepted," Edelgard finished.
"You did well, child," Archbishop Rhea told her. "I will tend to the Professor myself, you may leave… and you can take your--"
"She'll sleep better with it," Edelgard said quickly before Rhea could wrastle Edelgard's shoulder cape from a sleeping Nessa's grasp. "I have a spare."
Edelgard offered a quick bow, "Archbishop, Seteth," she said quickly before leaving. She cast one look back at her sleeping Professor, who had her face buried into the shoulder cape. The sight brought a small smile to Edelgard's lips and warmth to her heart as she made her way back to her dorm room.
"Fuck, I'm in too deep," Edelgard whispered, leaning back against her door. All the same, she couldn't bear to wipe the smile from her face.
Hubert was going to kill her.
When Nessa awoke, she was not in her room back at the monastery. Instead she was in a crappy tent in some run down fort deep in Empire territory.
"Edelgard," she whispered to the newly crowned Emperor of Adrestia. She was wearing her typical high collared nightgown with long socks and gloves. After months of sharing tents with Edelgard, Nessa was unphased by her clothing choices and simply accepted that this is how the young woman was most comfortable.
The young Emperor looked up from the book she was reading. It wasn't any book. It was Jeralt's journal. Nessa managed to take it, and a few other needed supplies, from the monastery before the students all made their escape.
"You are crying," Nessa mumbled sleepily, now sitting up. "Why do you cry?"
"What did she do to you?" Edelgard whispered in horror, looking at her Professor as she tried to furiously wipe away her tears. She placed the book down and crawled closer to Nessa.
"I do not know…" Nessa mumbled almost sadly, hanging her head. A hand went to her chest, trying to feel for a heartbeat that was never there. "I have never had a heartbeat, but I have a pulse. I suppose it is her doing..."
She held out her wrist for her former student to see. Gloves fingers carefully pressed down on the skin just below Nessa's thumb. Despite the thin layer of fabric between their skin, Edelgard could still feel Nessa's pulse beating. It was strong and steady, just like Nessa. With that confirmed, Nessa moved Edelgard's hand to her chest, where she felt nothing.
Furrowing her brows, Edelgard leaned her head closer, stopping just before she met Nessa's chest. Lilac eyes looked up at her, silently asking for permission which was granted with a nod. Her teacher's calloused hand guided Edelgard's ear to her chest to listen for something. Anything!
Yet, there was nothing. Just the sound of Nessa's breathing and the feeling of rough fabric from one of Jeralt's old shirts against her cheek.
"I am broken," Nessa finally said, her voice barely above a whisper, and her hands now falling to her side.
"No," Edelgard spoke firmly. She pulled back so that she was sitting up and looking at her Professor… or tried to, but the woman was doing a rather good job at avoiding her gaze.
Even though Nessa's face was rather impassive as always, the twitching of her eyebrows, and the slight flush to her cheeks (that could only be seen thanks to the faint firelight outside their tent) told Edelgard of a new emotion that her Professor was feeling. This was not one Edelgard had seen before. Her body language screamed embarrassed- no… perhaps shame.
Gloved hands reached to cup Nessa's cheeks, forcing her light green eyes to meet lilac.
"You are not broken. Anything but that," Edelgard told her sincerely, letting her thumbs brush against Nessa's cheek.
"Perhaps shattered beyond repair, then," Nessa mumbled back.
Edelgard's eyes narrowed for a moment, ready to give the woman a piece of her mind, and then she saw the hint of a smile on Nessa's face. She made a joke!
"The only thing wrong with you might be your terrible sense of humor, but I have known those with worse," Edelgard replied with a small grin. It was good to see Nessa attempting to make jokes, even if she felt down in the dumps.
"Perhaps there is redemption for me, yet," Nessa commented.
"Only if you can get some better jokes," Edelgard deadpanned.
"Perhaps I should ask Alois."
That made Edelgard laugh. A genuine laugh. Her hands pulled away from Nessa's cheeks as she fell into a fit of giggles. While the sight brought a smile to her face, Nessa found herself missing the warmth of Edelgard's hands. But, at the same time, she couldn't help but let out a little giggle of her own.
Almost instantly Edelgard stopped and looked back at Nessa. Her eyes were wide, and cheeks just a tad bit pink.
"Did you just laugh, Professor?" She whispered in what sounded to be awe.
"I believe so," Nessa answered, her smile still plastered on her face. Then she stopped. "Did it sound bad?"
"No!" Edelgard said quickly! "No not at all! It's just, I've never heard you laugh before… it was… nice, actually."
"I'm glad," Nessa answered. "I think I have only laughed once."
"Oh?" Edelgard commented, looking at Nessa curiously, silently asking for the tale.
While Edelgard spent the entire year learning Nessa's facial expressions, and her tells, Nessa did the same with her student. Edelgard didn't need to ask for Nessa to tell her story, like she might have only a year ago. Nessa just knew, now.
"I was fishing with my father," Nessa started off, "and he was trying to wrestle a fish, but was pulled into the water. I remember there was quite a bit of splashing before he stood up. When he did, he was waist deep in water, completely soaked, but he had his fish. It was the largest fish I had ever seen in my entire life and he was carrying in his arms like it weighed nothing… well, he was until the fish used its tail to hit him in the face and knocked him back into the water. It took him a bit more time to properly wrestle and secure the fish, but when he finally succeeded, I laughed… and her smiled… it was a good day."
Just the thought of Jeralt wrestling a massive fish was enough for Edelgard to snicker slightly. The sad thing was, she could imagine that entire situation playing out without Nessa's help.
"How big was the fish?" Edelgard asked, deciding that the night air was a little too chilly for her, and she tossed what few blankets they had over her small frame. She laid down on her bedroll, letting her elbow prop her up so she could look at Nessa.
"Bigger than Papa," Nessa said with a straight face.
"Surely you jest!"
"I am not a jester, Edelgard. I am a professor."
Edelgard snorted. It was easily one of the most unladylike snorts in the history of the Empire, but Edelgard couldn't bring herself to care. Clearly the Professor brought out the unladylike side of Edelgard
"I imagine you ate well that night."
Nessa nodded. "It was good fish."
"All fish is good fish to you," the Emperor pointed out from her spot on her bedroll.
Nessa shrugged. Fish was delicious. But fish could wait. It was getting late and Edelgard clearly had the right idea, so Nessa shimmied under her thin blankets. Since she opted to get sentimental items from Jeralt, Nessa left her Bernie Made Pillows, and overly thick blanket back in her room. So all she had was her father's old traveling gear… which worked, but Nessa missed her pillows.
Cloaks didn't make good pillows.
"Are you going to toss and turn all night?" Edelgard asked her.
"It is quite possible," Nessa said, turning to face Edelgard. "I blame my students for spoiling me with very squishy pillows."
"That's the last time I do something nice for you," Edelgard teased her.
"Technically it was Bernadetta," Nessa pointed out with a twitch of her left brow. It told Edelgard that she was teasing her back.
"Then I'll tell Bernadetta to stop making nice things for you."
"Now that is very rude, your majesty."
"I'm the Emperor. And you are just a professor."
"I am your professor," Nessa stated.
That made Edelgard grin. "That you are, my teacher."
Edelgard reached her hand out, and intertwined her fingers with Nessa's. One thing led to another and Nessa was scooting her bedroll so that it was touching Edelgard's. Then, Nessa threw her armover Edelgard and pulled her into an awkward hug.
"I apologize if this is uncomfortable, but you look like you need it," Nessa told her, remembering how Edelgard gave her an awkward hug that night in the infirmary.
Edelgard snuggled closer to Nessa and tossed her blankets over both of them.
"I like it," Edelgard whispered, looking up at Nessa. "it's nice."
Nessa gently squeezed Edelgard's gloved hand in response, "I am glad."
In a rare moment of what she could only describe as sheer unadulterated recklessness, Edelgard tilted her head up ever so slightly, letting her nose brush against Nessa's. It caught the attention of Nessa, and soon enough her eyes met Edelgard's. Her face was red, actually, both of their faces were red, for even Nessa's cheeks were slightly pink. Edelgard's free hand moved to settle on Nessa's hip and after an incredibly quick mental pep talk, Edelgard let her eyes flutter shut and she gently pressed her lips to Nessa's.
For a moment, everything was forgotten. The cold ground, the distinct lack of pillows, the war, and even the Jeralt shaped hole in Nessa's heart. All that she could think, feel, and care about was Edelgard .
When Edelgard pulled away, Nessa found herself needing more. She moved her head just enough so that her lips brushed against Edelgard's once more. It wasn't much, but it was still good.
"Goodnight, my teacher," Edelgard whispered to her when they finally pulled away.
"Goodnight, Edelgard," Nessa whispered back, almost sadly.
It made Edelgard grin. She quickly kissed the tip of Nessa's nose before saying, "we can do more of that once we capture Garreg Mach. Call it a reward for our victory," she joked.
"That will be the first thing I do when we take the monastery," Nessa whispered back. "It is a very motivating thought."
Edelgard grinned at the other woman, "I look forward to that, Professor."
"As do I."
"Goodnight, Professor," Edelgard whispered to her.
"Goodnight," Nessa whispered back, now curling around the young Emperor... "pillow Emperor."
Edelgard snorted, remembering 'Sleepy Byleth and the pillow student' moment from months ago, but she said nothing. Instead she opted for pulling Nessa closer to her and nuzzling into her chest.
Despite the lack of pillows, and the cold ground, Nessa had to say that she slept rather well.
She didn’t want to wake. She never really did though, did she? Sothis, ever the annoying gremlin in her head shouted at her enough that she had begun to open her eyes. Once Nessa was awake, she regretted everything. She should have just let Sothis scream at her.
Everything hurt! She tried to move and her muscles just screamed in protest.
“Hey, are you alright?” A man’s voice asked her.
Groaning, Nessa turned her head to see a common man looking down at her. He had sweat on his brow, like he had been carrying something heavy.
“Glad to see you’re awake,” He added, crouching down to where she lay on the ground. “When I found you drifting down the river, I was worried you won't wake up, but I’m glad to see you did.”
It certainly explained why she was soaked through her clothes. And it must have explained the sweat on his brow, he likely carried her out of the water.
“Here, let me bring you back to the town. You look pretty worse for wear, and I bet you’re starving.”
That she was. Now that he mentioned it, Nessa never felt so hungry in her entire life.
“C’mon,” the man reached for her arm and pulled it over her shoulder. When he grabbed her, Nessa realized why she was likely so hungry. She was all skin and bone! Practically emaciated! It probably explained why her whole body hurt. It was like she had been crushed! How long was she asleep, even?
“It won’t be too far,” the man promised her, “I’m sorry if I hurt you.”
At this point, Nessa couldn’t even complain. She likely wouldn’t be able to stand on her own anyway. So she let the man carry her. And, like always, the moment he started moving with her in his arms, Nessa found herself drifting off to sleep.
When Nessa awoke again, she was in a small home, seated in a wooden armchair, bundled up next to a fire. Her clothes, which were nothing more than rags now, hung over the open flame in an attempt to dry them out. Her hair, which apparently was now down to her waist, was thrown over the shoulder closest to the fire, in an attempt to dry it faster. It was strange having long hair now, and Nessa wasn’t sure if she liked it or not.
“Hey, you’re awake. Good. I have some soup here. Didn’t know what you would be able to stomach, so we figured soup would be the best thing. And it’s easy to make.”
The same man from before moved to sit on a stool at Nessa’s feet. He was armed with a small bowl of soup and a simple spoon. The man offered her a small bite to eat and Nessa didn’t hesitate. Her stomach was growling, her body was demanding the sustenance. The soup itself was watered down, but it was the greatest meal she could have asked for. The two sat in silence, with Nessa slowly eating every small bite that the man offered her.
“Thank you,” Nessa said in a raspy voice when she finished her soup. It hurt to talk, like she hasn’t spoken in awhile.
“Not a problem. You aren’t the first person I’ve found that hasn’t eaten a decent meal in awhile,” The man told her. “We get a lot of people passing through. The war has done a number on everyone these last five years.”
Did he say five years? HAD SHE BEEN ASLEEP FOR FIVE YEARS!? What in the name of...
“What?” Nessa rasped out before descending into a coughing fit. Talking was not good, clearly.
“Whoa, are you ok???” He ashed, putting the empty bowl down and taking her hand. It was so small and frail looking, if Nessa couldn’t feel him she would be convinced that it wasn’t her hand. “It’s alright, don’t push yourself. Honestly, you need to take it easy or you might just fall over dead. It’s a wonder you were able to carry on as long as you did, especially with that sword on your hip.”
Sword. The Sword of the Creator! Nessa’s head jerked around, looking for the ancient blade, relaxing only when she saw it resting in the corner of the room. Apparently no one decided to try and use it, thank Sothis… or, well her? Either way, it was good they didn’t try.
“Where am I?” Nessa asked after a moment. She let her head fall back against the wooden armchair, and her body slump into the blankets. It wasn’t all that comfortable, but given Nessa’s current physique, she doubted anything would feel comfortable to her.
“Just south of the monastery… Though I guess it isn't a monastery anymore, now that the Emperor has taken over and declared war on the Church… It’s nothing more than a fort for the Emperor herself. It’s a shame, the Millenium Festival was supposed to take place today.”
Edelgard. Even after all this time she was keeping up the fight. Nessa couldn’t help but feel proud of her student… and then that crushing feeling of guilt because she left her students behind while she was apparently asleep for five years… And, to make matters worse, she didn't even get to kiss Edelgard when they took the monastery.
Talk about some bullshit, as Caspar would say.
Millennium Festival? Five years? Her promise! She had to get up there before the day was over. She promised Edelgard she would.
“I need to get to the monastery,” Nessa finally told him. “I have to see them.”
“I doubt the Emperor will have the time to speak with you. I mean, she’s the Emperor. And-- hey! You need to rest!”
Nessa shook her head as she unwrapped herself from the blankets. The air in the house was cold, even right by the fire, but Nessa didn’t care. She reached for her clothes that hung over the fire, and pulled them over the threadbare scraps of fabric she had on now.
“I have to go,” Nessa declared weakly, making a move to go and grab the Sword of the Creator. Despite her weakness, the Sword of the Creator still felt light in her hands. For that, she was thankful.
“You could die!”
Nessa shook her head. She could do this. She needed to do this.
“My students need me,” Nessa mumbled, pulling her tattered cloak over her shoulders.
“What!? There haven’t been any students since-- nevermind at least just take this blanket. It’s freezing out…” the man mumbled as Nessa stumbled to the door.
Nessa threw the offered blanket over her shoulders, making sure to keep it as close to her as she could before walking out the door. After walking a few steps, Nessa turned back to the man. “What is your name?”
The man furrowed his eyebrows. “Uh, Lukas. Lukas Seitz.”
Lukas Seitz. Nessa would remember that. She would make sure that Edelgard, or someone repaid the man for his kindness.
Slowly, as Nessa made the trek up to the monastery, she could feel the wind whipping past her, causing her to stumble and fall more than once. Every step was agony, from years of not using her muscles, but Nessa was a woman on a mission. She made a promise five years ago, and she would see it through.
And, for a brief moment, a smile graced the oh so impassive Nessarose Byleth Eisner as she wondered how her students would react when she said she slept in a river. Out of all of her strange sleeping spots, Nessa was certain that sleeping in a river took the cake.
Nessa couldn’t wait to tell Edelgard.
It truly had been five years. Nessa didn't believe it when Lukas Seitz told her, but now she couldn't deny it. Seeing Edelgard proved it. She had lost what little baby fat she had around her cheeks, her features now sharper and more defined. She… grew up.
They all grew up. Grew stronger, even! And here she was…
Weak. Frail. Looking a little bit like some war-torn commoner who wasn't sure where her next meal would be. How embarrassing… Even when they welcomed her back with jubilant cries and excitement, Nessa couldn't help but feel the burning shame deep inside her.
That is until strong arms pulled her into a hug. Being as weak as she was, Nessa couldn't resist, but she didn't quite mind. While she may be weak, and wobbly, Edelgard was strong and steady, keeping Nessa upright with ease.
"I missed you," A choked up Edelgard managed out after a moment.
They had been left alone, mostly thanks to Hubert ushering everyone away. They blamed Nessa's weak condition, and decided that Edelgard would explain their current situation to their beloved professor before forcing the woman into bed to aid in her recovery. But for now, the two stood on the balcony overlooking the rest of Garreg Mach.
"I am sorry I could not have been there after the battle," Nessa mumbled, head resting on Edelgard's shoulder. "I was very excited for my reward for our victory."
Edelgard was silent for a moment, and then she laughed.
"And all this time, I thought those words were said in jest," Edelgard said when she finished laughing.
"I am a professor, Edelgard, not a jester," Nessa said, now holding her head up to look at Edelgard. She then paused, "... Though I suppose I am not a professor anymore… if I am not a professor, what am I now?"
Edelgard didn't even answer her. In that moment, her teenage recklessness returned, and she crashed her lips into Nessa's.
It may have been five years late, but was that kiss worth the wait.
"You are mine," Edelgard whispered to her. "That's what you are."
That made Nessa beam .
"I am very glad I woke up," Nessa said in a tired, yet very satisfied voice. "But," she yawned, "I am very tired."
That made Edelgard smile at her.
"C'mere, Professor," Edelgard said softly, shifting so that her hand rested on the small of Nessa's back, moving to guide Nessa to bed, "You need to rest, and I'll see about getting some soup brought up for you. You look exhausted."
Nessa felt exhausted. Every movement she made, was made with a significant amount of difficulty. The pain of overusing what little muscle she had left, made everything difficult. Her steps were small, and slow, but Edelgard was patient, guiding her as gently as she could. After all, the young Emperor was not known for her tenderness.
The more Nessa walked, the more worn out she felt. Making the trek to the monastery took more out of her than she expected, and now she felt completely drained. How pitiful she was. Five years asleep completely drained not only her strength, but her body too.
Nessa's legs wobbled as they came to a set of steps. She knew there was absolutely no way she could take them again. Not with how weak she was feeling.
"Here, allow me," Edelgard spoke quietly. She slid one of Nessa's arms over her shoulders and scooped her former professor right up as if she weighed nothing. Though, judging on how thin she was, Nessa imagined she probably weighed nothing to the young Emperor.
"Is this alright, my teacher?" Her former student asked.
"'s fine," Nessa found herself saying. Instinctively her head moved to rest on Edelgard's shoulders, silently wondering when her former student had gained so much muscle. Out of the corner of her eye, Nessa could see a small grin grace Edelgard's face.
"Is sleepy Byleth needing her pillow emperor?" The woman said in a teasing voice.
"No," Nessa protested. Unfortunately the yawn that followed that made her sound most unconvincing.
"You can rest, Professor, something tells me that you're going to need it."
"'m fine, Edelgard," Nessa tried protesting.
"Hush now," the young Emperor said, her voice soft and soothing, "rest, my teacher. I can take it from here."
If Edelgard said anything else, Nessa didn't catch it. She was out like a candle in the wind. It made Edelgard smile even more.
"... And, nine times out of ten, if you pick her up and carry her, she's probably going to get tired …" the woman laughed a little, "Seems like those words still ring true today, Captain Jeralt…" Edelgard mused as she made her way along the familiar path to the dormitories. Something told her that Nessa would be quite pleased to curl up in her own bed, with her own pillows, and her own blanket.
Not that the current blanket that Nessa had was bad, but… actually, no, it was terribly thin, scratchy, and probably did nothing to help keep Nessa warm (honestly, where the hell did she even get it from?) Since her teacher had lost so much body weight, Edelgard had no doubt that Nessa was going to have great difficulty retaining and body hear whatsoever. So having her old blanket back would do wonders for the professor.
As Edelgard made her way to the dorms, she couldn't help but remember all the silly times they had a students. The time Edelgard and Ingrid busted the professor's door open, though that was mostly Edelgard and she blamed Ingrid for putting that idea in her head. Or, the time her teacher was sick, and Edelgard carried the woman back to her room, only to have her fall asleep, not unlike how she was now.
As Edelgard passed through the breezeway by the old Golden Deer classroom, she was reminded of a time when Nessa had fallen asleep on top of it, and it took the entire class to get her down and safely curled up with her Bernie Made Pillows. Edelgard was hard pressed to find a place where she didn't see her professor once napping. Even as she passed their old classroom, she couldn't help but grin as she imagined Nessa asleep and half hanging off her desk.
When Edelgard turned the corner to make her way to the dormitories, she couldn't help but remember the time she walked this path with Captain Jeralt. It definitely brought her back to a simpler time, when the most pressing matter wasn't the outcome of the next battle, but 'Where was Professor Eisner sleeping this time?' How the world had changed.
Edelgard pushed the door to Nessa's old room open. It was exactly as she left it, except cleaner since she had given the order to Hubert to tidy it up after they met with everyone. As Edelgard dressed the professor in some more comfortable sleepwear, and pulled that overly thick blanket over Nessa's sleeping form, she couldn't help but think...
Despite all the changes happening in Fódlan, Nessarose Byleth Eisner still falls right to sleep when you carry her, and that small little insignificant seeming quirk made Edelgard smile.