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Claudleth Winter Wonderland

Chapter Text

Claude carefully crushes the white berries from mistletoe, mixing the slurry into his most recent concoction with a soft hum of approval. Grinning, he caps off the vial with a stopper and gives the vial a shake, watching as the color shifts into the perfect poison to make a certain nobleman rush to the bathroom and stop bothering him during his search for more information. Abruptly, a knock startles him from his planning.

“Hang on a second!” he calls, setting the poison down on his desk before standing and opening the door.

“You didn’t come to practice,” Teach states, startling him as she stands on the other side of his door. Claude blinks, his brain having ground to a screeching halt before shooting off in multiple directions, trying to get a read on the former mercenary.

“Well,” he starts slowly, “You know how I can get, Teach. Find a good book? Gotta read it. See something interesting? Gotta investigate.”

“Find a poisonous plant? You’ve got to make a poison,” she continues for him, nodding toward his desk where a small bundle of mistletoe sits innocently beside the concoction he made. Letting out a startled laugh, Claude scratches the back of his head while leaning against the door frame.

“Got me there, Teach,” he reluctantly admits, watching as the woman enters his room. Part of him wants to shoo her back out and tidy up a little, make his room a little neater so she doesn’t take him for a slob. However, he also knows that she talks with Manuela often in the healer’s personal room, so there’s no real judgment there. Still, maybe he should have straightened up that book pile beside her, or neatened up his desk a little, or even-

“So, who’s name should I start penning for Manuela to know how to help them?” Teach asks, her face blank while her eyes glitter playfully. Claude chokes on his laugh due to his surprise, closing his door to settle, incorrectly, in his desk chair.

“Make sure that the L in Lorenz is extra loopy,” he offers instead, feeling a well of pride in his chest as she huffs out a soft laugh, shaking her head in amusement.

“Of course,” she sighs, whether to who it is or to his joking comment, Claude doesn’t know.

“Hey, c’mon Teach. We gotta get him to lighten up somehow,” he jokes, resting his chin on the back of the chair. Another soft huff of laughter escapes her, followed by a blue-lavender gaze that Claude would love to be in for eternity. That gaze turns back to his work desk, finding the green and white plant set off to the side.

“I think I’ve seen these in bars during the Etheral Moon,” she comments, picking up the mistletoe. Claude shifts eagerly in his seat. It’s rare for Teach to talk about her travels as a Mercenary if it’s not conducive to class, and he greedily wants every little bit that she’s willing to share.

“A boy tried to get me under it with him,” she continues, immediately killing any positive feelings Claude had to listen to her story.

“I punched him in the face when he leaned in and Father laughed himself sick,” she finishes with a shrug. Claude sputters out a laugh, surprised at the turn of her story and internally pleased that the nameless village boy didn’t get a chance to kiss Teach. Her mouth twitches into a small smile, which Claude greedily savors.

“Well, how about we try it?” Claude tosses out with a wiggle of his eyebrows. She turns to him and cocks her head to the side, confused. He grabs the plant and holds it over his head, blowing her an air kiss with another eyebrow wiggle. Her eyes light up with understanding and she moves quickly, too quickly for him to do anything but sit there while she presses a kiss on his cheek.

“Alright, clean up and come down for practice. We need to work on your sword work for the Lord test,” Teach tells him, patting his head as she slips out of his room. Claude blinks, dropping the mistletoe in shock as his face burns.

“Fuck,” he croaks, covering his eyes while groaning, trying to fight off all the very inappropriate images that popped up in his brain starring Teach.

Chapter Text

Claude is sleeping peacefully when a pair of weights fall onto his chest. Choking on a yelp, Claude wheezes as the twins giggle and bounce on his chest and stomach.

“Daddy! Daddy! Snow!” Ayda giggles while Kareem bounces excitedly on his stomach, upsetting it despite being empty of last night’s dinner. Groaning, Claude tries to turn, only cough when Ayda’s jumping presses uncomfortably on his ribs.

“Ayda, Kareem, get off Daddy. You’re hurting him,” Byleth calls, holding Nakia in her arms as the toddler chews on his own hand. The twins share a look of horror before quickly rolling off Claude with matching wails of “DADDDDYYYYYYY!”

“I’m alive,” he manages to croak out, wheezing when the twins immediately jump back on him with happy yells. Claude reaches out pathetically to his wife, mouthing out a request for help. She takes pity on him with a smile and shake of her head.

“If you don’t get off him, I’ll go sledding by myself,” Byleth threatens. Immediately, Claude is freed from the twins as they scramble down the hall, shouting and hollering about riding down the biggest mountain.

“Ugh, they’re getting too big for bed visits,” Claude groans, finally sitting up in bed. His wife sits down beside him, letting his youngest crawl over to him for morning hugs.

“At least they haven’t gotten to the age where we can do nothing but embarrass them,” she points out easily, leaning on his shoulder. Claude hums in agreement, lifting Nakia up enough to blow a raspberry into the toddler’s tummy. The little boy squeals with laughter, slapping both his hands on Claude’s messy hair.

“So, I’m going to take the kids out sledding while you fix breakfast?” he confirms, having seen the weather report last night with her. Byleth nods with a soft hum, turning her face to look up at him with that soft smile on her face, the one he practically tripped and fell for when they first met. He lowers Nakia to his lap before leaning closer to Byleth, pressing a kiss to her mouth. She hums happily against his mouth, pulling back to look at his eyes before leaning in for another kiss.

“EEEWWWWW!!!” Claude and Byleth both jump in surprise while Nakia whines and covers his ears. Both adults turn to the bedroom door, giving the twins disapproving looks. Ayda flinches and pouts at the floor while Kareem hides behind his sister.

“So, kisses are gross, huh?” Claude asks, handing Nakia to Byleth and flinging off the blankets to rise quickly. The twins gasp and run, squealing with laughter while Claude chases after them, his own laughter ringing through the air. Byleth sighs, shaking her head as she settles Nakia back on her hip. Leaving the room, she smiles at the sound of the front door opening and closing quickly.

“Let’s make breakfast, Habibi,” she coos, walking into the kitchen while Nakia claps and cuddles close to his mother.

Chapter Text

Byleth taps her nail rhythmically against the cardboard of the calendar, glancing at the clock every so often to check the date. Being constantly on the move as a child, she and her father held onto traditions that were easy to pick up and go while moving from place to place. Her favorite traditions were the turkey burgers her father would make in the RV’s kitchenet for thanksgiving while their little tv would be playing whatever parade was on public television, the hard boiled eggs and televised Easter mass, and – she glances at the clock again, frowning at the minute later – advent calendars leading up to one “big” present on Christmas.

“Hey, Byleth! I’m back!” Claude calls, finally arriving home from his job. Byleth turns to face him, a smile crossing her face briefly before turning back to the clock with a frown. Chuckling, Claude takes off his coat and shoes before sitting beside her on the couch, resting his chin on her shoulder.

“You do realize you have three more hours before midnight, right?” he teases, wrapping his arms around her waist. She hums, nodding before lifting her hands and signing, ‘I want to open it and text Dad what my first day of December gave me. Then he can text what his is this year.

“Oh, yeah. This would be the first-time you guys started this apart,” he mumbles, tilting his head until his hair tickles Byleth’s neck. She squirms at the feeling, silently giggling at the feather light touches of his hair against her skin. Claude shifts his head, rubbing his hair and stubble against her neck and cheek, grinning as she starts wheezing with laughter, her hands quickly trapped by his own.

“Nothing can stop the tickle monster,” he chortles, pressing his face firmly against her own and rubbing at her skin with the stubble on his cheeks. Still wheezing with laughter, Byleth manages to turn her head and press a kiss against his stubbly cheek. Claude freezes, warming immediately beneath her smiling mouth, before dropping his head with a low whine.

“Byyyyyyyyy, that’s cheating,” he complains, his ears gaining a red color due to his embarrassment. Byleth hums, peppering kisses every where she can reach from Claude’s hold, smiling as her boyfriend practically melts under her affection. Once sure he can see her hands, she gently shakes off his hands to sign, ‘All’s fair in love and tickle fights.’ Claude’s laugh rings through her like little silver bells, making her feel light and floaty with how much she adores him.

“That’s a fair enough point,” he concedes, pressing his own kiss on her cheek, before standing up and heading to the shower. She smiles after him, listening as the door closes behind him and the shower starts running water. Her phone starts blaring Sarajevo 12/24, her dad’s text tone during the holiday season. Blinking, she grabs the phone and unlocks the screen, cocking her head to the side at the pictures he sent. The first is a selfie of himself with a clock, showing 00:00 Dec 1. The second is a caramel sitting in a wrapper. The text he sent is the frowning emoticon. Byleth lets out another wheezing laugh, covering her smile with her hand.

Jeralt blinks awake when his phone rings out Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, his daughter’s text tone. Blearily slapping his hand on the side table of the hotel room he’s staying in, he squints at the lock screen. 3:02 AM. Snorting, he unlocks his phone to get to the texts his daughter sent. The first is her neutral face beside her own clock, the red number reading 12:00 AM Dec 1. The second is a video that has him cackling in bed, grinning broadly. In it, her boyfriend is fast asleep, his mouth wide open as he snores. Slowly, a little chocolate ball rises into the frame, his daughter’s fingers and nails barely visible. Carefully, she aims the little ball before tossing it, going straight into his mouth and startling the brat awake. She does a thumbs up as he looks around in absolute bewilderment, the all too familiar wheeze laugh barely heard through Jeralt’s terrible phone speakers.

“Happy December, kid,” he mumbles, chuckling as he rolls back over to go to sleep.

Chapter Text

It’s very weird, Byleth decides as she watches Sothis slink out of her classroom, to be teaching a class your little sister is in. Then again, she’s also teaching in the same school with her father, so there’s no escape for Sothis. Sighing, she starts going over all the papers she’s received, making sure that everyone turned it in before the winter holidays begin. She glances at over her list, Ashe and Dorothea’s names starred to remind her that their papers are due on the last day before break instead of today (if Christian holidays get school off, she’ll hold off for those who celebrate hannukah and kwanza. Seteth even approved of it, so there) while Dedue had asked for an extension, due to his mother suddenly falling ill. Pulling out a black pen, she marks checks beside each student who turned their paper in. Sylvain and Linhardt both turned in one paper instead of the required two, Caspar didn’t turn his in yet, Petra’s has five spelling mistakes that Byleth caught at a glance, and Raphael wrote about food instead of the topic of how Crests influenced the hierarchy and what changed after Crests lost their meaning. Sighing, Byleth sets her head down on her desk, feeling the growing headache bloom in her head. Not helped when someone loudly knocks on the door to her classroom. Picking her head up, Byleth watches as the only Almyran language teachers strides in a cocky smirk in place. Claude von Riegan is gorgeous, much like the ancestor he was named after, with wit and intellect that normally, Byleth loved to banter with. Today wasn’t one of those times.

“So, how’s my favorite history teacher?” Claude asks, leaning against her desk with a tilt of his hips. His long side band falls into his eye in a way that Byleth’s hand twitches to brush behind his ear, which she’s done before. However, as she’s decided before, today isn’t a good day for banter, or flirting.

“Considering the other two history teachers are my father and a man who threatened to have you castrated if you look at his sister, I’d say you just have a bad selection of history teachers,” Byleth intones, straightening out the pile of reports on her desk. Claude throws his head back and laughs, distracting Byleth with the stretch of his neck and her wondering how it would feel under her mouth, probably remembering how Jeritza threatened everyone when he and Mercedes were first hired.

“Well, your old man is a riot,” Claude points out with a chuckle. Byleth blinks up at him, raising an eyebrow as she waits for the reason he entered her classroom in the first place. Claude clears his throat, scratching the back of his neck nervously as he glances around the room.

“So, the Holly dance is coming up,” he starts, bringing up the one event Byleth never wants to go to again (the last and only time she had gone, her date had been using her to get back at an ex and, when that failed, tried to get sex from her. Byleth had gone from looking nice to looking like a mess when her date got tired of her saying no and dumped alcohol on her).

“And?” Byleth drawls, looking back down at her list, narrowing her eyes at Hilda’s name and skipping over it in annoyance with the lazy girl.

“I was just thinking, why don’t we skip it and go to the dinner for the Holly dance special,” Claude offers with a soft smile. Byleth blinks at her sheet, lifting her head to look up at the man in surprise. He looks nervous, like he’s scared she’ll say no. A part of her wants to remind him that she was the one who helped him set up the confetti bomb in the bathrooms all over the school, that she’s his confidante and best friend, even if it hurts her heart to be stuck in such a position with such an amazing man. Instead, a smile crosses her face as she looks up at him.


Claude would be lying if he said he wasn’t nervous, but there is no one he knows (except They-Who-Will-Not-Be-Named) that doesn’t want to have Byleth to themselves for a whole evening. The history teacher is gorgeous, kind, straightforward, and can see through bullshit like it’s not even there. Ever since that terrible Holly dance, when Byleth had been used and tossed by the son-of-a-bitch, Claude’s wanted to be her man, in whatever sense she’d let him be.

“This isn’t going to work,” Dimitri, the PE and health teacher as well as the only straight man Claude trusts, insists.

“But it will be fun to watch,” Edelgard, the chemistry teacher and Claude’s semi-rival (are they still rivals if Edelgard is now dating someone, letting Claude be single and mingle with Byleth? Does that work?), chimes in with an amused look on her face.

“Look, can you guys just help me for one minute?” Claude pleads, grabbing a horrid Christmas sweater out of the closet and onto the floor. His fellow teachers share a look through Skype, before both replying.


“No can do.”

“You’re both assholes and I don’t know why I hang with you two,” he huffs, leaning out of his room. Nader glances up from the magazine he’s reading at Claude’s panicked flailing, sighing and shaking his head as he stands up and lumbers over to the young man.

“What’s wrong, kid?” he asks, raising an eyebrow at the clothes strewn around the room and the two co-workers waving at him through Skype.

“What’s wrong is that I don’t know what to wear and how to charm Byleth off her feet,” Claude complains, covering his face and groaning as he collapses into his desk chair. Nader looks over at the teachers, raising an eyebrow at the noise. Both of them shrug in tandem, Dimitri shaking his head while Edelgard looks heavenward for answers.

“You do realize that she likes you, right?” Nader asks. Claude sighs, drooping in his seat.

“But what if it’s only as a friend,” he whines, swiveling the chair back and forth. Nader blinks slowly before turning back to the computer screen and jerking his thumb at Claude, a look of incredulity on his face. Both teachers nod. Nader groans and rubs at his face.

“Alright. First, stop moping. It makes you look dumber than you already do,” Nader starts with. Claude lets out an offended gasp while his friends cackle over Skype.

“And second, let’s do this,” Nader tells him, throwing some clothes at Claude and pulling out his old Galaxy phone to start looking through things for the couple to do.

“I promised her that we’d do the Holly dance special at the diner,” Claude calls, pulling on the outfit Nader threw at him. The older man grunts, face still in his phone. Claude huffs, looking down at himself before groaning.

“DAMMIT NADER!!” Claude yells, while his asshole friends laugh at the blinking monstrosity of a Christmas sweater that he had unthinkingly agreed to wear.


Chapter Text

Byleth knows what Myrrh smells like, what it can be used for, and how much to take safely. What she didn’t know, is why Claude always smells like it, mixing with his pine and other scents that are just Claude. Part of her wants to ask him why he smells like that. Does it have anything to do with his habit of mixing poisons? Or is it to do with hanging around so many nobles? Maybe it’s because of the late nights in the library.

(Another part of her wants to see if he tastes like Myrrh too. That part she shoves in the back of her mind because it’s unprofessional. And her father told her many times over that you have to be professional on a job.)

“Teach? You okay?” Claude asks, waving his hand in front of her face. She blinks before nodding, returning to the material before her. The pair are trying to cram some last-minute ideas into Claude for his Wyvern Rider exam, making sure he’ll pass to finally have someone who can tell her what formations their opponents are doing.

“Sorry, got distracted,” she admits, brushing her hair behind her ear as she leans over a book thoughtfully. She runs her finger down the page, frowning at the words on the page. Sighing, she sits back in her chair, frowning softly at how easily distracted she is tonight.

“Hey, Teach. How about with wrap up today? You seem a bit distracted and I’m tired from training,” Claude offers, rolling his shoulders with an easy grin. Byleth hums, nodding again as he has a point. His test is two days from now, and tonight isn’t going to be productive in the slightest. Stretching herself, Byleth closes the book and stands to return it to the bookshelf she had pulled it from. Immediately, she smells Myrrh and Pine behind her, the warmth of Claude at her back as he reaches over her for another book.

“Why do you smell like Myrrh?” she finally asks, turning within his arms to look up at his green eyes. Claude blinks, his face coloring prettily as he takes a step back.

“Ah, well, it’s my old man’s stuff. He gave me some before I came here,” he explains, looking down at her. He shifts, a smirk on his face as he leans closer to her once more, “Why? Do you like it?”

“Yes,” she answers honestly, blinking when his face turns bright red at her answer. Claude chokes and stumbles back against the tables, the book he was grabbing falling from his hand. Byleth cocks her head to the side, concern rising in her.

“Claude? Are you okay?” she asks, using the back of her hand to check his temperature. He laughs nervously, leaning away from her hand as he looks around the empty room.

“You know what, Teach? I think I’ll turn in for the night. Good night!” he rambles, fleeing the room quickly.

“What was that about?” Byleth wonders, looking after her student. Sothis groans in the back of her mind, complaining, “You’re so oblivious! How do you even teach?!”

Chapter Text

Claude stumbles into the flower shop, looking around for a place to hide. The rough looking man standing behind the counter looks up from his magazine and snorts in amusement.

“Byleth, got another hider,” he calls out, returning to his magazine. Claude turns and sees someone wave at him, an invitation to get in the room. He sprints to the room, skidding to a halt and slamming the door behind him. Gasping, he tries to calm his breathing, only to choke at the sound of the women who were throwing themselves at him.

“What do you do?” a woman asks behind him, startling Claude and causing him to whip around. Standing calmly behind him is, possibly, the most beautiful woman he’s ever had the pleasure of seeing, holding a bundle of vibrant red poinsettias. Her mint hair is pulled back by a red ribbon with little white pom-poms, her blue-green-lavender eyes watch him curiously, wide and doe-like.

“Um, what?” Claude asks back, his brain still more focused on the vision before him instead of the words leaving her mouth. Her mouth curves up in a small smile, tilting her head to the side cutely.

“You’re a hider. You all always have something interesting to do or say,” she tells him with her cute little smile. Claude clears his throat, trying to figure out what to tell her, when the door opens behind them. Tensing, he spins expecting to see one of the harpies grinning at him. Instead, it’s the burly man from the counter.

“The ladies are gone. You can leave now,” he gruffly tells Claude, his eyes telling the young man exactly what he should be doing now. Namely, taking ten steps away from the woman in front of him and sprinting down the street before the older man decided to snap him like a toothpick.

“Wait,” the woman requests, causing Claude to turn back to her. A vibrant red bloom appears in the corner of his eye as the woman sets a poinsettia on his ear, cocking her head to the other side with a soft hum.

“It looks good on you,” she decides with a nod, that small smile crossing her face again. Claude opens and closes his mouth, feeling his face burn while his heart pounds rapidly in his chest.

“All right, brat. Time to go,” the man growls, grabbing Claude by the back of his shirt and dragging him back through the shop. Shoving Claude out of the door, the man storms back to the counter with a scowl on his face. Barely stopping himself from faceplanting, Claude hops a bit before turning back to the store. Now outside, he can see that it’s the Eisner Nursery, something of a landmark with how often celebrities duck into it to hide. Chuckling, he briefly wonders how they would react to finding out that they just hid the Crown Prince of Almyra among their blooms, before he gets distracted by a flash of mint green. Looking back at the windows, he inhales sharply as the woman waves at him, a large notebook pressed against the window.

My name is Byleth. Have a happy holiday!

Chapter Text

Byleth blinks at the concoction Claude sets before all the Golden Deer. She can smell nutmeg and bourbon from the pale drink, confusing her as to what it might be. Lorenz turns to the leader with a curled lip.

“And what, pray tell, is this?” he demands to know, flipping his wrist at the drink. Claude grins, sipping from his own drink while skimming his eyes over his old classmates. Lysithea and Marianne eye the cups warily while Leonie and Raphael start chugging the contents.

“It’s an Almyran drink, Lorenz. Stop worrying so much,” Claude taunts, snickering at the appalled face the other noble gives him. Hilda huffs and shoves a mug into the man’s hands, snapping, “I had to beg for this, so you better drink it!” The tall man sputters as Lysithea and Marianne finally take their own mugs along with Ignatz’s, heading over to the table the artist is sketching at. Eventually, Lorenz is dragged over to the table where Leonie and Raphael are enjoying their drinks, Hilda chattering excitedly about how exotic the drink is and how it’s delicious. Byleth takes a sip of the drink, humming thoughtfully at the flavor of the drink.

“So, Teach? What do you think?” Claude asks, having sidled up Byleth while the others start to cause the usual Golden Deer ruckus. She blinks down at her drink, humming again as she rocks her head back and forth.

“It’s… interesting… I don’t know,” she mumbles, taking another sip of the drink thoughtfully. Claude chuckles, sipping on his own drink to watch as Hilda smacks the bottom of Lorenz’s mug, causing him to choke on the drink and spill some of it down his shirt. Leonie laughs loudly at the sputtering of the noble while Raphael chugs down the rest of his drink before declaring he needs meat. Lysithea screams at the other group from the other side of the room while Marianne tries to calm her down and Ignatz nearly drinks his paint water instead of the drink they brought over for him.

“It’s called sharab albyd, or eggnog. It’s got egg in it,” he tells her. Byleth turns to him, blinking at the look he’s giving her. His eyes flicker between her eyes and her mouth, getting a confused look in return, before his hand comes up. His thumb runs across her upper lip, an intimate motion that causes Byleth’s breath to hitch and warmth to bloom on her face, burning brighter when he brings his thumb to his mouth and licks off the foam that had collected on it.

“Sorry about that, Teach. It distracted me,” he apologizes with a look she can’t discern and doesn’t know how to even think right now.

“I need to go fish a cat,” she blurts, slamming the mug on the table before them and scrambling to evacuate the dining hall.

“Ah, Teach! Wait!” Claude calls, nearly tripping over the bench as he tries to catch up with her. Hilda sighs, shaking her head while Lysithea groans and smacks her forehead.

“They’re impossible,” Lysithea bemoans while Hilda hands Leonie some coins. The mercenary snickers, tossing up the coins thoughtfully.

“Bet they won’t get together until after the war,” she throws out. Hilda immediately spins to continue the bets with Leonie while Lysithea groans again, going back to her eggnog and watching Ignatz make his next masterpiece.

Chapter Text

Cyril had been filling a manger for the horses and wyverns when he overhears Claude mumbling to himself. Peeking out of the stable, he sees the Alliance leader rubbing his chin thoughtfully while furrowing his brow. Normally, Cyril would stay out of the other man’s way, but with how the man was about to walk right through the wyvern shit he hasn’t gotten around to scrapping up, he’s decided to put himself in annoyance’s way.

“Hey! Claude! What’s got ya going?” he calls. The man stops just centimeters from the dung pile and turns to look at Cyril. The grin that crosses his face kinda reminds Cyril of the one the Alliance leader gets when he sees the Professor, just smaller and less smitten.

“Hey there, Cyril. I was just thinking about what to do next,” Claude waves off with a shake of his head. Cyril leans against the pitchfork in his hand, frowning a little. With Nemesis gone, there’s just a few weeks to wait for the Professor to be crowned. During this whole thing, Claude’s been more dodgy than usual, avoiding the Professor like he wanted to hide from her.

“You gonna propose to the Professor, or ya pissed at her?” Cyril asks, blinking when Claude chokes and sputters at him.

“Wh-what are you talking about, Cyril?” he laughs nervously. Cyril frowns, leaning the pitchfork against the wall before crossing his arms on his chest.

“Well, it’s obvious ya like her. Everyone knows, even, uh, th- the purple guy. Clorin? Cloutin? Whatever. Even he can tell that ya like her,” Cyril says, the name escaping him for the time being. Claude snickers at his stumbling, but still slowly nods.

“Yeah, I guess it is. Still, I just,” he pauses and sighs deeply, scratching at the back of his neck. Cyril cocks his head, waiting for the Alliance leader to continue.

“I just don’t know if now’s the right time to propose,” he finally says, rocking back to lean against the wall behind him. Cyril nods slowly, knowing that the Alliance leader wasn’t just the Alliance leader. As the crown prince of Almyra, Claude is expected to leave to get the crown within the week, other wise there’s gonna be a fight for the throne with no guarantee that the other heirs won’t attack Fodlan.

“If you don’t do it now, then how are you gonna make sure no one else marries her before you can come back,” Cyril points out, grinning a little at how Claude stills drastically. If there’s one thing that all Almyran men share, it’s a possessiveness over the person that holds their heart. The thought of another man or woman with them is enough to cause most Almyran men to become frenzied with proving that they are the ones courting that person and everyone else has to wait.

“You know what, you’re right,” Claude agrees, turning on his heel to head back the way he just left. Cyril snorts, grabbing the pitchfork back up and turning back to the manger. Part of him wants to watch the train wreck that is sure to happen, but he has work to do for the Monastery. Although, he pauses to squint up at the sky, where Aish is flying, he could probably watch it from the sky. Thinking it over, Cyril shakes his head and returns to his work. If Claude messes up bad enough that Professor gets too embarrassed to say yes, Cyril’ll get the chance to laugh at the older man while scaring off any potential suitors until the Professor goes to propose herself.

Chapter Text

Claude bounces on the balls of his feet, grinning at the absolutely tired looks from most of his dormmates. They’re standing near the Santa photo area in the mall, ignoring the confused and irritated looks they’re getting from parents and children alike.

“C’mon. It’ll be a Golden Deer tradition, or something,” he tries to coax. Lysithea huffs and glares at him while Lorenz sniffs indignantly. Leonie looks like she’d rather be anywhere but here while Hilda is trying to encourage Marianne to do it. Raphael and Ignatz are the only ones who don’t need convincing (Claude promised Hilda that he’d buy her an extra present), both hoping to send Raph’s little sister something fun and funny for Christmas.

“Honestly, Claude. It’s like you’re a child,” Lorenz scoffs, shaking his bangs from his eyes.

“He’s immature enough for it,” Lysithea agrees, rolling her eyes and crossing her arms over her chest. Claude pouts at the dismissal, opening his mouth to argue in favor of getting a group picture with Santa, when someone taps him on the shoulder.

“If you and your group are planning to do a group picture with Santa, please move to the correct line. Otherwise, please leave,” a beautiful woman dressed as Santa’s elf requests, looking up at Claude with her pale green eyes. Swallowing around the sudden lump of arousal that appears in his throat, Claude grins down at her.

“Well, I’m trying to coax my friends into doing a group shot with Santa. So, sorry for the noise,” he offers her easily. She hums, tilting her head in thought as her eyes flicker over his dormmates. While she’s thinking, Claude can’t help but notice the mint green hair peeking out from under her gaudy green hat, complimenting her skin tone and eye color beautifully.

“Every photo costs ten dollars and four of those dollars go to the children’s hospital. If you want to join the raffle, the five dollar fee goes straight to the children’s hospital,” she explains with a nod, looking at the group. Lysithea perks up at that information, looking interested while Lorenz slowly raises an interested eyebrow.

“So? We could donate money to the children’s hospital at any time,” Leonie counters, crossing her arms and looking down her nose at the woman. Claude furrows his brow in confusion at Leonie’s superiority act. The woman blinks at his dormmate slowly before sighing.

“Papa’s playing Santa for the kids,” she tells them. Immediately, Leonie shoves twenty dollars at Claude, snapping, “We’re taking that fucking picture,” before rushing over to the group line. Claude blinks rapidly, turning to the rest of his dormmates for an answer. Everyone else shrugs while the woman chuckles softly.

“Leonie’s the same as ever,” she comments idly, surprising Claude.

“You know Leonie?” he asks while the other Golden Deer walk over to the line. The woman looks up at him, her face blank as she nods once.

“Yeah. Papa taught her how to fight while deployed in the Gloucester territory. She met me when she went to the gym Papa opened upon retiring from the marines. She said we’re rivals,” the woman explains, walking over to the group line. Claude follows, his brain racing as he pulls everything together.

“You’re Byleth? The woman who hands Leonie her ass every Sunday? The lady who dead lifted a guy bigger than Raph over her head, then dropped him? That Byleth?” he asks. The woman stops and blinks up at him in surprise, slowly nodding.

“How’d you know about that?” she asks. Claude laughs softly, nodding toward Leonie, who’s excitedly bouncing on the balls of her feet. Byleth lets out a noise of understanding, nodding before walking once again. Claude bites his bottom lip before catching her wrist. She turns her head to look back at him curiously, tugging lightly at her wrist.

“Would you like to join us for dinner? After your shift? Your Dad can come,” Claude invites. Byleth blinks before she takes his breath away with a simple motion. She gives him a smile, soft and real. She gives him a single nod before turning to a little boy in the single person line. He stumbles over to the group line, leaning on Hilda heavily.

“Oh my Goddess, get off,” she whines, shoving at him.

“Have you ever met a person so pretty that you can’t function?” Claude asks, ignoring her pushing.

“Sure, her name’s Marianne for me. Now get off.”

Chapter Text

Byleth pulls on the red stockings, frowning as she picks at the white fluff wrapping her thigh. Her Santa lingerie is uncomfortable and scratchy, but she can’t say no to the customer that rented her out for the evening. Dorothea is waltzing around, helping primp the other girls for their private shows or their turn on the stage. Edelgard is not too far, eagle-eyed as she whispers to her bodyguard, a man named Hubert who all the girls know is interested in only the handsome ginger bartender/bouncer named Ferdinand.

“Get ready, ladies. Tonight’s a big night. We have some big names in the building and our job is to entertain them,” Edelgard calls, scanning the girls before her. Hilda sniffs and turns back to her mirror to finish her makeup, her pink eyes flicking to Edelgard in the mirror. Mercedes nods, holding her robe closed while Jeritza scowls beside her.

“Byleth, you need to be careful. Your guests are big across the line,” Edelgard points out, telling Byleth exactly who her customer is. Biting her gloss covered lip, she nods once and reaches over for the sheer red robe and little Santa hat that goes with her lingerie. The matron continues to warn certain girls and encourage others, making sure all the girls are ready for the night.

Claude sits in the room, bored out of his mind while Varley tries to weasel his way out of the massive debt and heavy fury the Almyran mob hold over him. After he took loans from Nader and Claude himself, after he beat his own daughter to near death over trying to become an author, after trying to sell his own daughter to the Almyrans, the bastard’s on thin fucking ice with Claude. If this meeting displeases him in any way, the rat will die tonight.

“I-It’s so good to see you again, M-Mr. Von Riegan,” Varley stutters, ringing his hands nervously. Claude gives him an empty smile, cocking an eyebrow at the man.

“I can’t say the same for you, Mr. Varley. After all, tonight is deciding if we let you live in debt, or if we kill you,” he bluntly tells the man, enjoying how he pales and trembles in terror. He can practically feel how happy Nader is to see the man look as pathetic as he is. Varley leads them to a private room in the Black Eagle strip club, looking around nervously as the men and women flow around them. The room is festively decorated, idly reminding Claude that the Fodlan festival of the Goddess is nearly upon them. It still amuses him that when his ancestor opened Fodlan and Almyra to the world, the first thing to be brought in was the holiday called Christmas, and how it combined with the Goddess’s festival to be moved into the Ethereal Moon.

“P-Please, sit down,” Varley offers the plushest chair to Claude. Sharing a look with Nader, Claude regally sits on the chair, crossing his leg regally across his lap. Nader sits beside Claude, looking impassively down at Varley. The man sweats, sitting down himself and presses the button to tell their entertainment to start. An upbeat song starts up, the curtains opening while a woman croons over the speakers about Santa getting her things. Claude inhales, his mouth going dry as he sees the very woman he’s been searching years for. His personal Goddess in human form, covered in make up and wearing skimpy lingerie for his viewing pleasure. Her pale mint hair clashes wonderfully with the rich red of her outfit, matching eyes flitting emotionlessly over the room’s occupants.

“So, h-how can I l-lower my debt?” Varley asks, ringing his hands. Claude tears his eyes away from the woman he’s been dreaming of since she beat the shit out of some no-name thugs to protect him, forcing his brain to remember why he’s here.

“Honestly? You can’t,” Claude drops on the man, watching amusedly as the man sputters and starts to panic.

“Wh-what do you mean? I-Isn’t that what this is about?” he asks.

“No, this meeting is us deciding if we should let you keep your life,” Nader answers for Claude. Both men watch as Varley finally realizes their killing him is very literal, not financial. He shoots up in his seat, startling the woman from her routine, and drops to his knees, pathetically clawing at Claude’s pants.

“Please! Please, I’ll do anything! I- I can’t die!” Varley sobs. Claude scowls, shifting just enough to kick the man off him. Rubbing his temples, Claude looks up only to freeze. Varley had drawn a knife while he had his eyes closed, obviously about to lunge at him and Nader, when the woman interrupted, bending Varley’s wrist at a very awkward angle.

“No violence against dancers or other customers,” she tells him, shifting and swinging him over her shoulder, slamming Varley into the ground with enough force to knock the breath out of the man. Claude’s pants tighten at the casual show of strength, watching avidly as she struts to the phone and types in a code.

“Hubie? Yeah, we need you to grab someone from private room six. Holding, the other customers want him close at hand,” she tells the person over the phone, pausing every so often to listen to them. Varley sniffles on the ground, hiccupping pathetically. The woman’s face doesn’t betray what she’s thinking, but how she carefully steps on the man’s hand and presses hard enough to break it tells Claude exactly how she feels about Varley.

“Alright. Got it. I’ll let them know,” she agrees, hanging up the phone before strutting over to a box hiding in the curtains of the small stage. Rifling through the box, she makes a soft noise and struts back to them, forcing Varley’s wrists behind his back and clicking a pair of handcuffs on him. A knock to the door pulls Claude’s attention away from the woman, seeing a short, teal haired man and a taller ginger open the door.

“Hey, By. Hand him over,” the teal haired man tells her. The woman, By, lifts Varley easily and shoves him at the men. Nader stands, confusing Claude as to what his second-in-command is planning.

“I can tell you gentlemen what happened,” Nader tells the bouncers. The men nod while By turns back to the stage, all three missing the wink Nader sends Claude. Huffing out of his nose, Claude hopes his face isn’t red as he’s left alone with the most beautiful woman he’s had the pleasure to see.

“You can have a free lap dance,” she tells him. Claude laughs in surprise, looking at the woman before him with interest.

“What if I want a date with the dancer?” he asks, resting his elbows on the chair arms and lacing his fingers. By frowns at him, shaking her head.

“We don’t offer that kind of service here… Sir,” she adds on the end, obviously one of the dancers who just dance. Claude hums, skimming his eyes over the beauty before him.

“I’m not asking for a service. I’m asking for a date with the woman who’s saved my ass not just once, but twice,” he argues. The woman blinks, frowning in confusion. Claude chuckles at her obvious bafflement.

“About five years ago, you came across a group of men trying to attack one boy. You kicked their asses and dragged the boy to the only doctor open at the time. Now, I want to thank you and get to know you,” Claude tells her, smiling as recognition flashes across her face. She flushes so prettily, her eyes moving to the side.

“You don’t need to,” she insists, fidgeting with the little white fluff on the top of her thigh-high stockings. Claude reaches out, hooking his finger into that fluff and pulls her toward him. She blinks in shock, dropping onto his lap when he tugs on her stocking.

“I insist,” he purrs, pulling down her stocking, knocking off her heel to pull it off completely. He grins up at her as he pulls her leg up, pressing his mouth against her thigh. The darkening of her cheeks is more than he could have hoped for in this reunion of sorts. Now, he just needs her to agree.

Chapter Text

Claude huffs, slouching down in his front row seat with a bouquet perched in his lap. He wanted to take Byleth to see the Nutcracker ballet, to have an excuse to listen to his dance-obsessed girlfriend whisper about the moves and the music and all the other parts of the ballet that he doesn’t care about but will listen to if it makes her face light up. However, instead of looking excited, Byleth looked upset, apologizing that she couldn’t make it. She had a prior engagement. Leaving him here, with a bouquet for a dancer he didn’t really care about because he didn’t think to change his seat, like an idiot.

“This sucks,” Claude grumbles, glancing around him for someone to tease until this whole fiasco blows over. Dimitri and his group are too far away for Claude to just annoy them, not wanting to bother anyone he doesn’t know. Edelgard and Dorothea are in the balcony, sitting just shy of out of his sight. Jeralt is… right beside him. Claude blinks as his girlfriend’s father settles down in the seat beside him, glancing at him with a raised eyebrow.

“Byleth said you had gotten tickets. I thought you would have sold ‘em,” the older man comments, settling into his chair easily. Claude chuckles, scratching at the back of his head nervously.

“Well, I want to be able to talk to Byleth about the performance, even if I don’t have a fucking clue about what I’m talking about,” he tells the man. If Byleth can show interest in his debates and politics, the least he can do is return the favor with dance. Jeralt hums in thought, nodding idly when his eyes fell onto the mess of flowers on Claude’s lap.

“You brought flowers?” he asks, genuinely curious. Claude colors again, curling in on himself.

“I was going to let Byleth give the prima ballerina the bouquet at the end of the performance,” he explains weakly. Jeralt hums again, before a grin crosses his face.

“Well, you better do that,” he tells Claude with a nod. Claude opens his mouth to ask why, but the lights dim and the performance starts. As soon as the curtain rises on the living room scene, he understands why Jeralt told him that. Dressed in the flowing dress of the elder sister, the character that the prima ballerina plays during the first half, is Byleth. His jaw drops as he watches her dance with the Clara (who is preformed by Sothis. That explains why Jeralt is here. He’s here to watch both his daughters), elegant and beautiful as she moves with her partners or on her own. Byleth spins and jumps, drawing Claude in so well that when she leaves the stage, he groans in disappointment. While the rest of the first half is entertaining, he wants to watch Byleth dance again. The first half wraps up and the lights go back up for the intermission.

“So, you going to give the prima ballerina that bouquet still?” Jeralt jokes. Claude turns to the older man, awe and betrayal probably showing on his face.

“Why did no one tell me Byleth was a dancer? Was I just supposed to know?” he squeaks out in confusion. Jeralt howls with laughter, covering his mouth as he starts to cough from how hard he was laughing at Claude.

“This is a serious matter, Jeralt! No one told me, so I haven’t supported her as well as I could have,” he whines at the older man. That just gets a new peal of laughter from the man, ending in wheezing as the lights go down once more for the second half. This was were Byleth shone, the Sugar Plum Fairy dancing across the stage easily. Her pale green hair worked with the pastel pink the company uses for their costume, a gorgeous combination that Claude misses when she leaves the stage for the other dancers to preform the dessert dances. He shifts and fidgets in his seat, impatient for his girlfriend to reappear on the stage for her solo. Once she does, she doesn’t disappoint. Each spin, each leap, it’s perfectly timed with the music and Claude’s sure he just fell back in love. It takes another twenty or so minutes for the performance to end, but once it does, he’s up and striding up to the stage, bouquet in hand. Byleth turns and blinks, her face lighting up in delighted surprise. Claude smiles back, handing her the flowers and pressing a kiss to her cheek.

“You were amazing, dearheart,” he tells her, watching happily as she blushes shyly and looks at him from under her eyelashes, a small smile on her face.

Chapter Text

Liepard bats at the baubles dangling at the end of Claude’s scarf, purring happily when he turns his attention from Flygon to the Cruel Pokemon.

“You are so spoiled,” he teasingly cooes, scratching at her stomach sweetly. Reuniclus chirps behind him, dancing around Salazzle while Weavile and Ampharos nap under the shade of a nearby tree. Sighing, Claude flops back on the grass, ignoring how Liepard rests her head on his thighs while Flygon lays carefully on his stomach.

“What should I do?” he wonders aloud. After Byleth took down the last of Those Who Slither in the Dark, thus getting crowned Champion and the Savior Queen of Fodlan, the three heirs were left with nothing to really do. Dimitri returned to Faerghus to help with saving the ice and steel type pokemon that had been hunted to near extinction by people following TWSitD. Edelgard left to help Adrestia rebuild from the betrayal of Arundel, or the man pretending to be Arundel, while trying to coax back the fire and flying types that were once abundant in Adrestia. Claude’s already checked up on Leicester, helping delegate the natural expansion of electric and ground types while smoothing over any ruffled feathers of the other high ranking families. Almyra is fine, barely even phased by the whole “war” that occurred. That leaves Claude a little listless, even as the heir to the Almyran throne. Sighing, he closes his eyes to take a nap. The sound of beating wings wakes him from his sleep. Blinking, Claude raises his head curiously as an Altaria lands not too far from his pokemon, who are eagerly circling the dragon type.

“Well… Didn’t expect to see you here,” he comments as he rests on his elbows, watching as Byleth hops off the Humming Pokemon, patting at all of his pokemon while releasing the rest of her team. Her shiny Salazzle immediately partners off with his own, the two practically wrapping around each other in their affections. Claude watches with a small smile before glancing at Byleth, who flopped down beside him. Humming softly, he drops back down, not looking away from Byleth, who’s eyes are closed while she rests.

“It’s tiring,” she says. Claude makes a noise of encouragement, watching avidly as she opens her eyes and turns her head to look at him. Her pale green eyes look at his dark green eyes, looking for something.

“I miss this. Traveling,” she slowly continues, turning her gaze back up to the sky. He waits, tracing her profile as she searches for the words she wants to say. Byleth huffs and rolls until she’s straddling him, her face shading his own. Claude blinks in surprise, his face burning at how she gazes down at him, soft and sad.

“I miss you,” she tells him. Claude’s hands find her hips, a smile crossing his own face as he reaches up one of his hands to rest against her cheek.

“I miss you too,” he confesses. Byleth leans against his hand, her expression softening into something content. He traces how she’s changed in the past month since he’s gotten to see her.

“I love you,” he blurts out. Byleth’s eyes flutter open, a smile on her face. She leans down, chest-to-chest with Claude.

“I know,” she tells him before kissing him.

Five Years Later

Ash practically skips up to the Almyran research laboratory, Pikachu bouncing excitedly on his shoulder.

“Come on!” he calls to the two adults following him. Dimitri, the Ice type Gym Leader and King of Faerghus, laughs at his enthusiasm while his Glalie joins him.

“Calm down, young Ketchum. The Professor is going nowhere,” Edelgard, the Fire type Gym Leader and Empress of Adrestia, calls, her Talonflame crowing out.

“It’s hard to! You said the Professor was a trainer with you guys and you’re super tough! He’s gotta be super strong too,” Ash babbles excitedly. Pikachu nods in agreement, chattering excitedly on Ash’s shoulder. Before either Gym Leader could say anything, the lab’s door opens. Ash spins, ready to meet this strong professor, only to flush. Standing before him, with her Eevee settled calmly on her shoulders, is the Fodlan Champion and Savior Queen.

“By? Who is it?” the professor calls from inside the lab. Byleth, the Byleth, turns her head to look back inside the lab.

“Dimitri and Edelgard brought a challenger,” she answers. Ash opens and closes his mouth, frozen when her pale green gaze turns back to him.

“What do you want?” she asks, not rude, but curious.

“The professor,” Ash manages to squeak out. Byleth blinks down at him before nodding slowly and turning back into the lab, motioning for him to follow. Letting out the breath that got stuck in his chest, Ash shares a determined nod with Pikachu before stepping inside. The room is decorated for Christmas, with a Purrloin batting at a bauble while a Liepard watches from a distance, wrapped in an Alolan Ninetails’ tails. A pair of Salazzle are curled up together, the white one watching them avidly while the black one frets over an egg. A little boy and girl toddle out of a back room, followed closely by an Ampharos and a Mimikyu. Dimitiri steps around Ash to scoop up the toddlers, who cling to him and start babbling happily.

“Do my ears deceive me, or are my twins chattering at Dimitri?” the professor asks, finally stepping into the main room. Ash gapes at the King of Almyra and the Electric Gym Leader of Fodlan, his brain not really connecting that Claude is the Professor of this region.

“Claude, don’t be mean,” Byleth scolds, pressing a kiss to the man’s cheek before she gives Edelgard a side hug. Claude chuckles, watching fondly as she presses kisses to the twins’ heads and pats Dimitri’s head before leaving. Shaking his head, Claude turns to Ash with a grin, clapping his hands together.

“So, how can I help you?”

Chapter Text

“Professor!” Byleth stops and turns as Annette and Mercedes jog up to her, a basket full of pastries hanging from the blonde woman’s arm.

“Annette, Mercedes,” she greets calmly. Mercedes giggles while Annette hops in place.

“We wanted to know what sweet’s your favorite,” the red-haired girl asks. Byleth blinks, tilting her head in thought. No baked good or candy appears in her mind, nor any fruit or similarly sweet thing.

“I don’t have one,” she finally replies with a shake of her head. Annette seems to deflate as the enthusiasm leaves her, while Mercedes appears more thoughtful.

“Well,” Claude starts, appearing beside Byleth and draping his arm around her shoulder, “my favorite is gingerbread.”

“No one asked you, Claude,” Annette huffs, still obviously upset by how the Golden Deer leader had used her words against her in an argument everyone in the Monastery heard, with how loud she got. He gives her a charming grin, that gets Mercedes tittering with laughter while Annette looks away with a bright red flush on her face.

“Still, there isn’t any place nearby for good gingerbread,” he bemoans, leaning against Byleth. She pats his head, either to reassure him or to tell him to get off, before she turns back to Mercedes.

“Well, I was going to offer to teach the Professor how to make some sweets. Would you like to join us, Claude?” she asks, tilting her head at the boy. Annette groans, whining at Mercedes, while Claude makes a show of thinking it over.

“Nah, I think I’ll pass for the time being,” he finally tells them, letting Byleth go to wave at the group while he jogs away, after a Knight of Serios. She watches him leave, a part of her longing to follow him, to bask in his company if only for a second longer. However, she turns back to Mercedes and Annette instead.

“Well, Professor? Would you like to bake with us?” Mercedes asks. Byleth blinks thoughtfully before slowly nodding.

“Can we start with gingerbread?” she requests.

Five years is a long time, Claude muses one night, wandering the wreckage of the Monastery idly. Everyone has aged and changed, either here at the Monastery or on the battlefield, Claude can see the differences. The only one who’s stayed the same is Teach. Sighing, he looks up at the sky in thought, recalling what Teach told him, about sleeping for five years. They theorized that she slept so long to recover from the fall, but since she awoke upon being pulled out of the river, they can’t say for sure. He sighs before taking a deep breath to clear his head. The smell of spices and sugar assail him, making Claude open his eyes in surprise. Turning to the dining hall, he sees a light burning through the window, telling him that someone’s in there and baking. Creeping into the silent room, he looks around cautiously, his hand resting on his dagger just in case. Entering the kitchen, he freezes and stares in surprise. Standing over the stove is Teach, her bangs pulled back into a bun while the rest of her hair rests on her back, her eyes focused on the oven while pulling on oven mitts.

“Hey Teach. Whatcha doing so late at night?” he asks, leaning against the open doorframe. She glances at him before returning her attention to the oven, pulling open the door and pulling out a platter quickly.

“Baking,” she answers, setting the platter down so he can see what was just pulled out. Sitting on the tray are a dozen dark brown cookies, smelling of ginger and other spices. Claude’s mouth waters at the sight and smell.

“Gingerbread?” he asks, delicately taking one off the tray and tossing it between his hands to cool it down. Byleth’s face softens, a small smile appearing beautifully across it, as she nods, her eyes hopeful when he takes a bite. He hums happily at the balance of flavor, how each spice works to enhance the ginger’s flavor while never overpowering the sweetness of the molasses.

“This is great,” he confesses, looking her in the eye with a grin. The look of joy that crosses her face is more than worth the truth, he decides as she grasps one carefully and nibbles on in. They sit in comfortable silence, kicking each other’s feet under the table while eating cookies like children. Claude moves to grab a second cookie, only for Byleth to swat his hand. Jolting back, he holds his hand to his chest and gives her an overdramatic look of hurt.

“Teach! You didn’t need to do that, my friend,” he gasps, unable to hold back his grin when she gives him a huff of laughter.

“Just don’t want you to get sick. More than one could be too heavy before bed,” she explains, standing up and grabbing a basket he didn’t realize was sitting on the counter. He watches as she carefully plates the cookies and puts in the basket, before holding it out to him.

“Here. For you,” she tells him. Claude blinks and looks up at Byleth. While her cheeks are tainted pink, there’s nothing but sincerity and hope in her gaze. He realizes that she made these for him, and only him.

“Thanks, Teach,” he says, grasping the basket. Suddenly, she tugs on the basket, pulling Claude halfway across the table and presses her mouth on his. He freezes, his brain freezing as well, until she pulls back and gives him a sad smile.

“Sorr-” She starts, only to squeak when he lets go of the basket to grab her face and pull her back into another kiss. He licks the seam of her mouth, taking the advantage when she opens her mouth to gasp in surprise to press his tongue inside. The moan of bliss from her followed by the tentative prodding of her own tongue tell Claude exactly how Byleth feels about the kiss.

“Thanks again, Teach,” he tells her when he pulls back, feeling a bit of pride at how out of it Byleth is. He takes the basket again and leaves to his room, his face burning and his mind racing around all the potential future holds for him with Byleth, at his side and wearing his ring.

Chapter Text

Claude looks up from his phone as the shop bell rings over the opening door. He can’t stop the grin that crosses his face at the sight of familiar green eyes peering over to where he sits, the owner of those eyes lighting up in happiness when she spots him.

“Come on in, By. Happy Holidays,” he greets, brushing his fingers lightly across his feathered earing for the calming charm to activate, to calm his racing heart. Byleth steps into his shop, moving around the non-magical magic kits that all stores of his kind stock in. She pauses at the herbs, skimming over them as usual, before turning back to him with that beautiful little smile of hers.

“Happy Holidays,” she finally greets back softly, walking up to the counter and reaching out to scratch at Hilda’s chin. The pink and white cat familiar purrs at the attention, practically melting as the woman moves to scratch behind her ears.

“So, what’ll it be today? Another tarot lesson? Some more talk about astronomy and how it can help shape a being? Or how about we start talking about potions,” he offers, grinning when her eyes turn back to him.

“Actually, I wanted to ask you,” she stops, her eyes flicking away as a frown crosses her face. Claude blinks, turning his head to see what could have caused such an expression. Seeing nothing but the crystals lining the shelf, he turns to Hilda and raises an eyebrow. His familiar sighs, resting her head on her paws.

She’s feeling shy, you idiot, the familiar tells him through their bond. He blinks again, looking back at Byleth and searching her face. Sure enough, once he actually focuses, he can see the pale pink creeping into her cheeks.

“I wanted to know if,” she tries again, stopping once more as she turns her glare to the ground, the pink finally darkening enough for him to be able to actually see her blush. Claude watches as she fumbles around for words, her frown of frustration deepening as she can’t seem to gather what she wants to say.

“Hey, By. It’s okay,” he assures her, gently taking her hand. While the motion smoothed her furrowed brow and frown away, it deepened her blush into a bright cherry red that touches the tips of her ears.

“Pleasegoonadatewithme,” she blurts before yanking her hand out of his and fleeing his shop. Claude blinks, staring at his hand, which just held the universe (or at least, his universe), before slowly looking up and toward the door.

“Did… Did she just ask me out?” he asks rhetorically. Hilda huffs, jumping off his desk to shift into her human form to swat at him better.

“Yes, you numskull. Now, text her yes and ask for details,” the pink haired familiar orders, crossing her arms to watch her witch scramble for his phone.

Byleth sits on the park bench nervously, bundled in winter wear while holding two coffees. Her leg bounces impatiently while looking around for the familiar braid and laughing emerald eyes. Catching sight of the golden yellow Claude wears, Byleth perks up in her seat as he walks over to her, his earrings dangling little clumps of light pink and shimmering yellow.

“Hey, you got me one?” he asks with the easy smile that makes her heart stumble over itself for. She nods, handing him the cinnamon mocha while she sips at her peppermint mocha. He sits beside her, humming in appreciation as he takes a long sip of his drink. Byleth rubs her thumbs against the seam of her cup.

“So, wanna go for a walk?” he asks, smiling at her. Her heart stutters in love at the view of his smile. She nods, watching Claude stand and hold his hand out for her to get pulled up from the bench. He keeps hold of her hand as they start to walk, soft snow falling over them and no where else, his magic blessing them on their date.

Chapter Text

Byleth blinks as she stares up while the white snow falls from the sky, her hands bound in mittens and a scarf covers both her nose and mouth. Father is speaking with a rich-looking Almyran man, a frown on his face while he talks or negotiates. Byleth shuffles through the snow already on the ground, cocking her head to the side at the deep holes Father’s boots left behind.

“Byleth! C’mere, kid!” Father calls, catching her attention. Shuffling through the snow, she stands beside him and cocks her head in curiosity. He huffs and ruffles her hair, turning her head to look at the boy behind the Almyran. The boy is younger than her, wrapped in golden yellow and emerald green clothes, blinking up at her with equally emerald eyes.

“This is your charge while we complete his old man’s job, kid. Keep him out of trouble,” Father explains. Byleth blinks slowly before nodding once, sloshing through the snow to hold out her mittened hand to the boy. He blinks at her, looking between the yarn of her mitten and her blank expression, before hesitantly taking her hand. She squeezes his hand and gives him a nod, accepting her “job”. Father ruffles her hair again before walking off with the other man. She watches them leave before turning back to her charge.

“Byleth,” she says, putting her hand on her chest. The boy blinks, understanding flitting across his face. He mimics the gesture with a cautious grin.

“Claude,” he tells her. She blinks and cocks her head to the side, a little surprised at the very Fodlan sounding name, before simply accepting it and nodding. She tugs his hand and leads him toward where she set up her own “training grounds”.

During the month that Father did work for the Almyran man, Byleth and Claude stuck together. She showed him how to use a bow and arrow after it became apparent that he had no idea how to hunt. She taught him how to prepare meat for cooking and what was poisonous. In return, he taught her some Almyran phrases and how to read lies. By the end of their month together, the snow had melted and Byleth had no more use for her mittens, especially when they got so wet with Claude’s tears that she wasn’t sure they would ever dry.

Years later, Byleth blinks in surprise as a pair of emerald eyes look up at her from between pair of blonds. Father is already calling together the other mercenaries, planning a defense for Remire Village.

“So, what are we doing?” he asks, his hands rising to rest behind his head. Her eyes skim the three of them, stopping to stare thoughtfully at the bow and quiver of arrows on the boy in the center, before returning to the battle ground before them.

“You with the lance, stay close. Keep your lance ready to extend your reach, don’t just start swinging. The ax, take up rear point, keep us covered,” she instructs. The blond boy moves to stand beside her, steadying his lance to point before them. The blond girl shifts to stand behind them, her ax tapping her thigh nervously before she swings it up to hold with both hands. Byleth turns to him, looking him over thoughtfully.

“Claude, aim carefully. I don’t have time to pull arrows from my shoulder again,” she tells him. Claude’s face lights up while his companions look at them curiously.

“Don’t worry, By. I’ve gotten a lot better at aiming,” he promises, swinging his bow in a circle before settling it correctly in his hand, grinning easily at her. Byleth nods and gives him a small smile in return before turning back to the battle before them, her face blank once more. There will be time to catch up later, for now, she needs to focus on the bandits.

Chapter Text

Byleth never had a chimney before she and Claude moved in together. Living in an RV with her father for the entirety of her childhood made it impossible for her to even picture what to do with a chimney. This, she was pretty sure, wasn’t one of the ways it was supposed to be used.

“By, babe, please,” Claude whines from where he’s stuck in the chimney, his legs kicking out of the fireplace. She pokes his red trousers curiously, knowing that he was trying to pretend to be Santa, but more interested in how he got in there in the first place. Claude whines again, wiggling, before yelping when he abruptly falls the rest of the way down, landing hard on his bottom. Byleth blinks at the mess her boyfriend currently looks like, with soot and ash streaking his skin and hair, a fake beard dangling off one ear, and his hat pulled down over his eyes. She lets out a wheezing laugh, curling into herself just to keep balance, while Claude pushes his hat up, pouting at her.

“It’s not that funny,” he tries to argue, a smile fighting its way across his face. Byleth looks up at him with a smile, her hands rising to sign.

No, it’s absolutely hilarious. You look ridiculous right now, she tells him, soft huffs of laughter still escaping her. He gasps sharply, pressing a gloved hand to his sooty chest.

“How dare! I look phenomenal, as always,” he sniffs, tilting his nose up with a huff. Byleth lets out another round of wheezing laughter, rocking back on the heels of her feet. Claude stops pretending and watches her, his face soft and adoring at how freely her laughter is given to him. She looks up at him, her eyes glittering with love, affection, and more than a little laughter.

Whatever you say, Lorenz, she teases, catching his face before he could even gasp in faux-offense, peppering kisses all over his ash covered face. She pulls back, smiling even with the soot covering her lips. Claude blinks before he chuckles.

“Now you’re dirty too,” he teases, trying to wipe away the soot only to smear more on her mouth and cheeks. Byleth gives a silent giggle before catching his hand. She stands, gently pulling him up, and leading him to their bathroom, her eyes promising more than just cleaning up. And Claude can’t wait.

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Claude slumps in his chair, glaring at the forms in front of him hatefully. A number of Almyran nobles have been trying to shove their daughters or sisters at him, attempting to slip an “appropriate” woman into his household, as if he isn’t married to the most beautiful woman in the world. The nobles are probably hoping he’ll follow in his grandfather’s footsteps, as the man had a veritable harem of women along with his “main” bride. Clicking his tongue in irritation, Claude wonders briefly if he can just toss the papers into the fireplace without pissing off anyone actually important, when the door to his office opens.

“Hey kiddo. Just got a letter from Fodlan,” Nader calls, holding up the paper and waving it a little. Claude immediately sits up straight, reaching out both of his hands.

“Gimme,” he demands childishly, his hands making grabbing motions at the older man. Nader laughs, lifting the letter over his head with a mischievous grin.

“I don’t know. You look like you have a lot of work,” he teases, chuckling when Claude whines and continues to make grabbing motions at the letter.

“Please, my wife wrote to me in that. Nader, please,” Claude pleads. Nader huffs out another laugh, but relents, handing the letter to the young King. Claude practically rips into the paper, his eyes eagerly devouring his beloved’s handwriting.


Dearest Claude,

               I apologize for the long period of silence, however it is with good reason, as I bear great tidings. For the past three months, I have been sick every morning. My taste for fish is gone, finding the usually delectable meat disgusting. Yet, my hunger increased to the most bizarre of concoctions. After the initial two weeks of this behavior, I visited Marianne for a trusted healer’s opinion. Beloved, it is with much happiness I pen this letter. I am pregnant. Marianne has told me that she believes that I am with twins, who shall be with us once the Ethereal Moon returns. I ask, selfishly, that you return as soon as you can, to be here to meet your children.


With much love,

               Byleth Eisner-von Riegan


Claude reads the letter over and over, his eyes widening with each passing. Finally, he sets the letter down and immediately sets to working through the other letters on his table.

“I need to be back in Fodlan by the Ethereal Moon,” he tells Nader, not looking up from the work he had once been putting off.

“Why?” the general asks. Wordlessly, Claude hands the letter to him, trusting the older man to keep quiet about this development. He hears the man grumble, squinting at the Fodlanese as he tries to translate it quickly (poor Nader learned Fodlan’s language in just enough time to have Claude introduce him to Holst during the war). He waits for the realization, hearing the hitch in Nader’s breath before a large hand grips his shoulder.

“You need any help?” he offer, his eyes never leaving Byleth’s letter. Claude chuckles, moving the “proposals” toward Nader.

“Help me figure out how to tell them that I refuse their offers. That should help me with my work,” Claude requests, pulling over another chair for Nader to use.

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Byleth blinks awake, furrowing her brow in confusion. Quietly, a song plays into her room, although it sounds muffled for some reason. Rubbing at her eyes, she sits up in her bed and squints around her room. A light shines through her window, a bright blinding white shining on the wall of her room. Rolling out of bed, she shuffles to her window with a frown. Opening the glass pane, she peers out and immediately flushes. Standing on the lawn outside her apartment building, is Claude, holding up an old boombox with Mariah Carey crooning out how she only wants her lover for Christmas. Even at the distance, she can see him wiggle his eyebrows suggestively. Huffing out a laugh, she shakes her head in amusement and settles her head on her arms, resting at her window as the song changes to a soft rendition of I’ll be home for Christmas starts to play. Only to be interrupted by a very familiar throw pillow slamming into Claude’s face.

“I may be fine with you dating my daughter, but turn that shit off!” her father yells from his room next door, slamming his window closed with a grumble. Byleth winces at the loud noise before peering out at where Claude is now lying, collapsed, on the grass of the lawn.

“I’m good,” he calls, shooting up an arm with a thumbs up. Chuckling again, she leaves her room to help her boyfriend get up and recover from her father’s attack.

Claude lounges on the couch beside the most beautiful woman he knows, watching the lovely shifting and twinkling of her family’s Christmas tree. The boombox he brought with him somehow survived the drop onto the semi-frozen ground and now softly plays the soundtrack of the Nutcracker ballet. He sips on the hot cocoa Byleth fixed for him when she felt how cold his hands were, humming happily as she shifts closer to him in her sleep. While this wasn’t his initial plan when he brought over that old boombox, he’s quite content with how his plan derailed this time around. Yawning, he sets his mug down to pull Byleth closer to him, letting sleep take him to somewhere warm with the love of his life.

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Once, Claude thought the biggest miracle he would witness was the female mercenary knocking back the bandit leader, away from Edelgard.

Once, Claude thought the biggest miracle would be that same mercenary picking his house.

Once, he thought the biggest miracle was his house winning the Battle of the Eagle and the Lion.

Once, he thought the biggest miracle was when Teach tore her way back to them, her hair a shimmering green with eyes to match.

Once, he thought the biggest miracle was Byleth returning to them after five years missing. Once, Claude thought the biggest miracle was her saying yes.

Now, holding his children while Byleth looks up at him with a soft smile, Claude has found his biggest miracle yet.

“Thank you, dearheart. Thank you,” he sobs, so full of love and joy that it floods over. Byleth huffs out a laugh while his babes, his twins, his children, sleep peacefully in his arms.

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Sothis stands against the wall, wishing she was with her sister instead of here. But, Byleth is on a potential date with Mr. von Riegan, and she doesn’t want to watch her sister snog the other teacher.

“Hey! Sothis! Where’s the Professor?” Hilda asks, skipping over to the green-haired girl. Sothis groans, covering her eyes at her lazy, rumor-loving classmate.

“She’s not here. That should be enough,” she deadpans, glaring at Hilda. The pink-haired girl pouts when an arm rests over Sothis’ shoulder.

“Are you sure it’s got nothing to do with a missing Mr. von Riegan?” Dorothea purrs, grinning at the excited gasp it gets from Hilda. Sothis groans again, looking to the heavens for help from her namesake.

“I hate this so much,” she grumbles, before jumping at a ding on her phone. Ignoring the nosy girls peering at her phone, Sothis opens the text message and smiles. Her sister is leaning her head against Mr. von Riegan’s shoulder, a small smile on her face, as they stand in front of the Museum.

“Are they doing the Christmas Lights exhibit? That’s so cute,” Hilda squeals, hurting Sothis’ ear.

“That’s adorable,” Dorothea coos, reaching out to touch Sothis’ phone. She pulls her phone away, hating everything about this stupid dance. Spotting her father awkwardly dancing with Mr. Blaiddyd’s father, almost like their flirting, Sothis once again wishes that she was hanging out with Byleth.

Byleth keeps having to fight down a flush, her arm linked with Claude’s as they look at the community’s donated pieces. He’s calm and collected as usual, pointing at a piece to tell her something about the people who donated it, or something funny that happened while they were trying to bring in the piece. She’s not surprised he know all this, with his tendency to poke his nose into other people’s business.

“And that one had five kids crying when it was being set up, because their part looked, and I’m quoting them here, horren-awful,” he tells her, pointing at the piece from the local Children’s hospital. She laughs softly, leaning her head against his shoulder again.

“This is nice,” she comments idly, taking in his soft cinnamon and smoke cologne. Claude seems to lean back against her, his hand shifting so they’re no longer linking arms, but holding hands, fingers twined in a lover’s embrace. Byleth feels her face flush, flicking her eyes up at Claude. He seems at ease, glancing at her and giving her a wink. She smiles up at him and leans back into his warmth.

Claude is seconds away from screaming in happiness. After dinner, they decided to check out the Lights exhibit the museum was putting on, and Byleth has stayed by his side the whole time. Edelgard and Dimitri have been texting him a play-by-play of the Holly dance, but he doesn’t care to look when he’s got a more gorgeous vision by his side.

“Oh, hot chocolate,” she comments, pointing at a small booth set up on the side, carefully tucked away from the lights. Claude lets her pull him over to the booth, grinning when her eyes light up happily at the sight of marshmallows. She buys two cups of cocoa, handing him one while she sips at a marshmallow-topped drink. Chuckling at the little white mustache of sugar that coats her upper lip, Claude leans down and licks it off, grinning at the flush that covers her face. Byleth turns back to her drink, barely hiding the soft upturn of her mouth. Claude is counting this date as a win, and he’s going to rub it in Nader’s face as soon as he can secure another one.

Chapter Text

It was a simple enough drink to throw together, if only to combat the chill of the Etheral Moon into the Guardian Moon. Byleth pours in the cider wine, drops in the slices of apple and citrus, sprinkles in the spices and sugar, and leaves it all to boil in a pot. The smell draws in the Golden Deer, Leonie arriving first with a wide grin.

“Wassail! Gods, it’s been a while since I’ve had some,” the mercenary comments, grabbing a mug and filling it with the wine. Byleth huffs out a laugh and nods, raising her mug for Leonie’s to clink against. Claude enters not too long after, grabbing his own mug and taking a sip from the mulled wine, grinning at Byleth.

“This is pretty good, Teach. Wanna share the recipe?” he asks, leaning toward her eagerly. She smiles and leans toward him, recalling all the ingredients she can.

“Do you think she realizes what she’s doing?” Hilda asks, watching as the two leaders practically flirt in front of all the Deer. Lorenz is turning a wonderfully worrying shade of purple while Ignatz has a page out, flicking his eyes between the pair by the fire and his sketch.

“I think she’s just talking to him. It’s kind of tricky to know how you’re feeling about someone while trying to focus on something equally, or more, important,” Ignatz offers idly, not even reacting when Raphael leans over his shoulder for a peek.

“Then there’s also how the Professor is still pretty reserved with her expressions. Might not be familiar to her,” Leonie throws out before taking a large gulp of Wassail. Hilda hums in thought, watching Claude scoot his chair closer to the Professor, his hand reaching out to rest on her knee. The sound from Lorenz sounds like someone strangling a cat, his hand going up to his forehead.

“How can he be so improper? It’s absolutely unbecoming of the leader of the Alliance,” Lorenz bemoans, motioning with his other hand how Claude’s legs are splayed wide, making room for the Professor to sit closer to him all the while his eyes never leave her face.

“You do realize he’s doing that for her to sit closer to him, right?” Lysithea throws out, nibbling at a cookie Marianne managed to scrounge up. The other woman watches the pair by the fireplace with a small smile.

“I’m just happy that they’re happy,” she tells them all, looking so much prettier to Hilda with that smile on her face.

“Oh, I suppose that’s fine,” Lorenz reluctantly agrees.

“Isn’t that the most important thing? That they’re happy? That’s always a good thing in my book,” Raph points out. Hilda nods with a smile of her own, resting her hands on her hips when the Professor rests her forehead against Claude’s shoulder and laughs at something the leader said.

“Well, I’m planning their wedding,” she announces. Leonie snorts the Wassail out of her nose.

Chapter Text

Claude hums appreciatively at the warm water surrounding him, the scent of frankincense and jasmine filling the room with a soothing flicker of flame. His hand reaches out for the wine set at the tub’s side table, giving it a sip before carefully setting it back down and closing his eyes. It’s been a long day, full of business deals and a few back-alley ones as well, working his ass off just to make sure the cops won’t be looking around the weapons they’re sending through. Sighing, he rolls his shoulders and settles firmly into the water.

“Master von Riegan? There is a woman here to see you. Her name is Byleth Eisner,” a butler calls through the door, his tone telling Claude exactly how the other man feels about his personal Goddess.

“Send her in. And watch your tone. I can replace you easily,” he reminds the piece of shit, grinning at the sputtering apologies the man tries. Opening his eyes, Claude rolls his head to look at the door, just in time to see Byleth enter. Instead of the sexy Santa lingerie he found her in, she’s dressed for comfort (and practicality, he can’t help but notice). A pair of loose jeans held up with a slim belt, a hoodie two sizes too big, and a pair of worn sneakers make up her ensemble. While he’s been looking at her, Byleth’s been looking around the bathroom curiously, making out all the details she can within the candlelight. He sees when she finally sees him, watching in amusement as her face turns a vibrant red and her eyes look elsewhere.

“Sorry,” she mumbles, sounding like a gunshot in the silence of the bathroom. Claude laughs, shaking his head in amusement.

“Don’t worry, dear. This isn’t anything to be shy about,” he teases, leaning on the lip of the tub. She frowns at that, reluctantly turning to face him while still an adorable shade of red.

“Don’t call me that,” she orders, giving him her best glare, despite being so obviously flustered. Claude chuckles and nods, grabbing his wine glass and taking a long sip, watching her over the rim. He sets the glass down once more and crosses his arms over the tub’s rim.

“So, what has brought you to my humble abode,” he can’t stop himself from asking. Byleth inhales deeply before releasing it in a sigh.

“I wanted to thank you for helping my father,” she tells him, her eyes shyly skittering away as she fiddles with the bottom of her hoodie. Part of Claude wanted to coo at how cute she looks, shy and nervous. Another part wanted her naked in his tub, getting pounded with his cock. Shaking his head to clear away those thoughts, he grins up at her.

“Well, that was just me thanking you in return. After all, you saved me five years ago, the least I could do is help the man who raised you,” he answers easily, watching her relax. However, he can’t stop the slow grin from crossing his face.

“But, I need to pay you back for helping me at the club and you insisted that our little expedition didn’t count,” he continues, watching Byleth tense back up. She swallows nervously, flicking her eyes around again. This time, Claude decides to make her look at him, rising from the tub. Her gaze flicks back to him, squeaking and flushing again as he walks up to her, bare and hard.

“So, Byleth,” he purrs, walking her back until her back hits the door, trapping her against the wood, “what do you want? I can give you anything.”

Chapter Text

Byleth’s mouth waters as the baker pulls out the plum puddings, the twins kicking excitedly within her womb. Claude chuckles from where he sits beside her, his hand resting on her stomach and taking a good deal of their abuse.

“Someone’s looking forward to pudding,” he teases, grinning when Byleth whips her head to him, her eyes alight in happiness and excitement.

“It’s pudding, Claude! I haven’t had pudding in,” she stops, mentally counting before shaking her head, “I can’t remember. But, I’m excited!” she emphasizes, bouncing in her seat. Claude chuckles again, leaning over to press a kiss against her mouth. She smiles against his mouth, leaning her head against his shoulder briefly before straightening back up when a pudding is put in front of her. She digs in eagerly, looking so much younger than her years and Claude is smitten.

Ayda and Kareem bounce in their seats, eyes alight as the plum puddings are pulled from the oven. Claude chuckles, sitting beside them while Byleth frets over the puddings, making sure they are properly iced and spiced just right.

“You two are so like your mother,” he laughs, grinning at the confused looks the twins give him, only to have their attention return back to the puddings as it’s put in front of them. His wife slide behind him, wrapping her arms around his neck and settling her chin on his shoulder.

“And how, pray tell, are they like me?” she asks. Claude chuckles, turning his head to press a kiss against her cheek.

“They get excited over plum pudding. Well, they get excited over food,” he corrects himself with a grin. Byleth chuckles against his shoulder, pressing a kiss of her own against his cheek.

Chapter Text

Opening the back window of his shop, Claude fans out the smoke and ash of the failed potion. Coughing and sneezing, he tosses the potion into the sink and runs the water over it. Still spitting and gasping, Claude thuds his head against the metal edge of the sink.

“I should’ve listened to Hilda,” he slurs to himself, his head feeling fuzzy and everything blurring together in splotches of color and vague shapes. He fumbles over to the doorway between the backroom, the shop front and the stairway leading to his apartment. Squinting up the dark stairwell, he contemplates how safe it would be to travel up when the bell tied above the shop door rings.

“Wh’s th’re?” he slurs, slumping across the small hall to stand in the shop. A person gasps at the sight of him while another groans in exasperation. Something moves toward him, slowly clearing into a triad of people he could only refer to as potentially Goddesses, or maybe the Magi reborn.

“Yer pr’tty,” he manages to tell them, before falling forward and passing out upon hitting something soft.

Byleth flushes at Claude’s head, nestled against her boobs, while Hilda looks up to the heavens and throws her arms up in defeat.

“I told him to hold off on the good luck potion, but did he listen? No,” she groans, striding past the pair to look around the back room.

“What do I…?” Byleth starts, only to squeak when Claude’s hand sleepily paw up the back of her shirt to settle around her ribs. Hilda snorts, her hand coming out of the back room to wave up the stairs.

“Drag him upstairs and get him to bed. He’ll have a spell hangover in the morning, but he’ll be fine,” the familiar explains, distracted by the mess. Byleth glances up the stairs before looking down at Claude thoughtfully. It takes a little maneuvering, but, she’s able to lift him up, bridal style, and starts walking to the stairs. Hilda pokes her head out of the back room, cackling when she catches sight of them.

“Oh, my Gods. Wait, hold still. I need to get a picture,” Hilda snickers, grabbing Claude’s phone and unlocking it. Byleth huffs, shifting the snoring man in her arms a little with a small smile, blinking when the phone light goes off and looking up with a frown at the pink haired woman.

“He’s going to whine at you all day tomorrow,” Byleth warns her. Hilda snorts, holding the phone closer to her face, tapping at the screen idly.

“You say that like he doesn’t do that already.”

Claude blinks awake in his bed, his head pounding and the taste of death on his tongue. Groping around for his phone, he holds it up and taps the screen awake, hissing at the blinding light. It takes him a minute or two before he can actually look at his lock screen, but upon finally seeing the image, a whine leaves him. On his phone screen, he sees himself, passed the fuck out, cradled in Byleth’s arms like a fair maiden, while her gaze is on him. It’s soft and sweet and so affectionate that Claude wants to have it off his camera roll and in reality.

“Fuck,” he whines, throwing an arm over his eyes while a burning embarrassment lights his cheeks. He’s going to kick Hilda’s ass.

Chapter Text

Claude had tried to make it back to Fodlan by the first of the Ethereal Moon, he really did. However, there were a lot of things to do in Almyra to help prepare for the final merging of the two countries into a singular country, and to stop the nobles from shoving any “eligible” woman at him in an attempt to make him leave Byleth. However, he managed to arrive within the Ethereal Moon, during the day of the winter solstice. Sliding off Pearl, he starts his trek to the healer’s room, Nader at his back.

“Claude! You’re back!” Hilda calls, waving at him with a huge grin. He grins back, willing to stop briefly to speak with his old second-in-command.

“Hilda! Of course, I’d be back for my wife birthing my children. I would have been back earlier, but you know how nobles can be if they think your bride’s not good enough,” he chuckles. Hilda’s face slowly drops, paling as her expression morphs into one of horror.

“Oh Gods, we didn’t tell you,” she whispers. Claude’s stomach plummets at that, his mind racing as he looks at her with mild fear.

“What? Didn’t tell me what?” he asks.

“I’m so sorry Claude. We tried, but-” she cuts herself off, covering her mouth and looking away, looking so similar to when she had reported what happened to poor Dimitri at Gronder Field. His body tenses in fear, everything he built crumbling around him. Was it his children, was it Byleth? Gods, he needed to know who he’s putting in the ground far too early. He needs to know who he needs to curse for this cruel twist. He-

“Oh, Claude! Welcome back. The Professor is waiting for you with the twins,” Marianne tells him with a sweet smile, unknowing of the fucking heart attack her wife just gave him.

“You bitch!” Claude accuses, looking at Hilda with wide accusing eyes while she howls with laughter.

“I’m sorry, but that was for making the Professor wait, you asshole,” she replies, punching his shoulder lightly. He scowls, but still understands her reasoning for that cruel joke. Being swamped with work made it hard to write letters, and his last one had promised he’d be at Garreg Mach at the first of the month.

“Gods, why am I friends with you, asshole,” he grumbles, ignoring how obviously Nader was in on the joke with how the older man high fives the pink-haired woman. Leaving them behind, he takes off to the healer’s room once again, nodding and waving at people as he passed. Manuela slips him the key while arguing with Hanneman, which he’s both grateful for and reluctant to leave, because their arguments are always a blast to watch. It takes him a few moments to finally make it, but arriving at the healer’s room, he can’t help but be nervous as he unlocks the door. His hands shake as he reaches for the handle, slowly turning it open. Once it’s open enough to look in the room, he loses his breath.

“Shhh, it’s okay, Kareem. Momma’s here,” Byleth softly tells their whining son while their other child softly suckles from her breast. The light shines through the window, making the three of them look holy, look absolutely ethereal as it creates a halo around them.

“Byleth,” he whispers, watching as she lifts her head and her face lights up at the sight of him.

“Claude, come in. Meet Adya Edelgard von Riegan and Kareem Jeralt von Riegan,” she tells him. Striding into the room, Claude pulls a chair over to sit beside her bed, gently taking Kareem from his mother.

“Hey there, you two. Papa’s here,” he whispers, pressing a soft kiss. The little fussy boy quiets down and blinks up at him with dark emerald eyes, a small smile that looks so much like his mother’s crossing his face. Claude lets out a watery laugh, blinking back tears.

“Thank you, dearheart,” he tells her, giving her an equally watery smile. Byleth smiles back, leaning over to give him a soft kiss.

“Happy Solstice,” she tells him, sweetly.