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Time Crackers

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Sothis’ lashes fluttered as her dreams – memories – faded, mind slowly clawing its way back to consciousness. Her eyes had just barely cracked open when her cheek slid from its perch upon her fist, her head jerking upwards in response. Green eyes gazed blearily from left to right in confusion, mind still muddled from what felt like a very long nap.

A barren chamber of ancient stone greeted her questing eyes, though she could not make out much at first glance. A gentle green glow was the only light to see by, and only reached a dozen or so feet in any one direction. Beyond the light’s scope a deep darkness hung heavily, completely shrouding any and all details that might otherwise be found in mystery.

Though her cursory examination was met with less than stellar findings, Sothis couldn’t help but feel that her surroundings were familiar and oddly soothing despite the somber setting.

Rubbing the sleep out of one eye, she shifted until she was seated properly on the stone throne instead of slumped over the left armrest. Covering up a rather large yawn behind her hand, Sothis arched her back and stretched out her arms and legs. Relaxing with a sigh and a wiggle of her toes, her gaze lazily passed over a lump on the floor far below her.

Pausing mid-yawn, her eyes shot back to the lump – no, not a lump, a person. Long black boots, mesh stockings with far too many holes to offer any meaningful protection, short black shorts and half skirt – Sothis sighed, mind suddenly clearing. She couldn’t see a face, that coat with its utterly useless sleeves bunched up over the figure’s head, but she didn’t need to.

“And so, we begin again.” Groaning in exasperation, Sothis flopped her head back onto her fist as she slumped once more into the armrest and muttered. “All these years, and still the same idealistic fool.”

Despite her harsh words, Sothis’ gaze was noticeably fond as she stared at the unmoving form below.

“You know, it is rather rude to just lay there when we can once again speak.” Sothis spoke airily down to the still sleeping woman. “I am sure there are at least a dozen or so reasons for me to scold you that I’ve missed out on, the least you could do is be awake to hear them.”

The figure lay still, no response forthcoming.

“I wonder what did it this time?” She mused aloud, recent events still too much of a chaotic mess to decipher, before snorting in amusement. “Something to do with Seiros again, no doubt.”

A few minutes passed in silence before Sothis sighed, hands moving to clutch the weathered stone armrests at her sides. Heaving herself up on wobbly legs, another yawn tore itself from her lips. Oddly enough, Sothis noted that the soul-deep exhaustion that would normally be on the verge of consuming her this early in the timeline was absent. Despite the normal lethargy that clings to one after too long asleep, Sothis felt… rather good.

Almost… whole.

…It was rather odd.

Slowly, legs shaking, she began to stumble unsteadily down the long stone steps.

“No matter, I will doubtlessly find out for myself before long, as I have for the past… fifty, no, fifty-six? Hundred and…” Sothis paused in her descent, light frown furrowing her brow as she tried to wrangle the mess of timelines into something comprehensible. “There was… But then we… And the whole mess with… The twenty-odd times we tried that instead…”

Sothis fell silent and stared blankly at Byleth for a long moment before flopping down onto the last step, an explosive sigh bursting from her lips. Shaking her head, she murmured. “What a troublesome child you have turned out to be.”

Elbows resting on the next step up, Sothis leaned back even as one of her legs stretched out. A bare foot nudged gently at a clothed side once, twice.

“Awaken.”

Nudge.

“Come now, there is no time to waste.”

Nudge. Nudge.

“Wake. Up.”

Receiving no response, Sothis huffed and dug her toes beneath the figure, into the bared midriff, and pushed.

The figure was rolled onto its side, its position precarious for a moment before another nudge tipped it over onto its back. The odd cross between a coat and a cloak became tangled even further, continuing to obscure Byleth’s head as well as pinning one arm to her side.

A light groan sounded out from beneath the cloak.

“Honestly.” The body was now just out of reach, her outstretched foot just barely brushing against material. Not wanting to get up once more, Sothis huffed, cheeks puffed out. “If you do not awaken this instant, I will… I…”

“I will do something that you will regret!” Sothis blustered after a moment of fruitlessly searching for a threat of adequate consequence.

“Wha-” Byleth spoke faintly, hoarse voice cracking almost immediately. “Where…”

“And finally, she deigns us with her presence.” Sothis muttered, before sighing and gesturing at their surroundings with a cavalier twist of her wrist. “Where else would we be, but back at the beginning?”

“Sothis?” Byleth mumbled, disoriented. “What? Why did you bring us back?”

“What?” Sothis stared down at the prone form as if it had suddenly grown an extra head. “What do you mean ‘why did I bring us back’? You are the one who decided we needed to start over – again - though I’ve yet to discern what happened to necessitate a reset this time.”

“I didn’t.” Byleth frowned doubtfully and tried to wrack her brain for more information. The amount of times they’d lived and reset the same handful of years over and over made differentiating between them somewhat difficult, especially at the beginning of a new timeline. That went doubly so for the most recent attempt; oddly enough, the newer the memories, the more jumbled they were. “Did I?”

“I’m certain it wasn’t me.” Sothis’ voice wasn’t quite as certain as her words portrayed. “What do you remember last?”

“I…” Byleth frowned, concentrating heavily. Slowly, hazy snippets of memories began to float to the forefront of her mind. “I was with Rhea…”

“Shocking,” Sothis hummed dryly in poorly veiled amusement. “Continue.”

“We were… Oh.” Byleth suddenly stopped.

“You were…” Sothis trailed off, brow raised in expectance. “Well go on.”

Byleth coughed slightly, mumbling. “I… don’t think this memory has anything to do with our… current situation.”

“Come now, don’t hold back on me.” Sothis frowned. “You know as well as I that every little detail matters when trying to piece together the past at this stage, less we do something as foolish as overlook something seemingly small yet important.”

“I really don’t think-” Byleth attempted weakly, only to be cut off.

“I’ll be the judge of that. Forgive me, but I believe my mind is a little clearer than yours at the… moment…” Sothis trailed off as a memory burst forth between them. Though still hazy, it was more than clear enough.

Byleth all but mewled as sharp teeth passed teasingly across her neck, fingers grasping and flexing unconsciously at heated skin. Soft whispers of ‘my love’ and ‘mine’ spilled forth from Rhea’s lips in a guttural rasp, each word stoking at the fire within. Snapping, Byleth’s hands rose and threaded through long green hair, pulling and tugging until their lips met and-

A strangled noise escaped Sothis’ lips, both hands waving frantically in the air as if to physically chase away the memory. Byleth’s free arm flopped over her eyes, a second layer to hide her embarrassment. An awkward silence stretched out between them.

Finally, Byleth coughed lightly, muffled voice just barely audible. “…Irrelevant to the current matter?”

Sothis made a slight sound of agreement, her voice unnaturally high in pitch. Rubbing her eyes and praying for the images to go away while outright ignoring the emotions that trickled over, Sothis finally groaned.

“While I fully support your relationship with my daughter,” Sothis grumbled, shooting a disgruntled look Byleth’s way. “Please try to keep those particular memories from spilling over. I may taunt and tease, but there are some things a mother just does not want to know so intimately about her child’s… ugh.”

Sothis made a face. “Quickly, what is something that doesn’t remind you of my daughter?”

“…” Byleth blanked for a moment. “Flow- no... Fea- no... The sn- no…”

“Hubert?” Byleth threw out as a last-ditch effort after a dozen starts and stops, Sothis’ growl causing her mind to scramble frantically.

“That- actually, that works rather well.” Sothis blinked, mind turning to the dour young man. Thankfully, no thoughts of her daughter in any sort of questionable position invaded her mind. “Huh. I’ll have to remember that for the future.”

“But I digress; we are getting off topic, and no closer to figuring out why we have begun again.” Sothis frowned, eyes gazing upwards as a finger tapped her lips in thought.

Byleth finally uncovered her face and propped herself up with one arm. It took slightly longer to detangle her cloak from its twisted position, but soon she was able to sit comfortably with her legs crossed. Pushing a stubborn lock of hair behind her ear, Byleth froze.

She rubbed along the top of her ear once.

Twice.

Shuddered.

Eyes wide, Byleth hesitantly grabbed a lock of hair and held it in front of her.

It was soft, pale green, and almost glowing in the light.

“S-Sothis?” Byleth’s voice was faint.

“Hmm?” Sothis blinked, gaze shifting downwards. The goddess froze. Rubbed her eyes. Blinked again.

“Byleth,” Sothis started, voice unnaturally calm. “Do my eyes deceive me, or is your hair green?”

“It is.” Byleth stated blankly, fingers absently running over the tip of her ear again.

Sothis made a sound of acknowledgment, sharp green eyes catching the slight shudder that passed through Byleth’s form. Her ears twitched unconsciously in response. “And your ears?”

“Pointed.” Byleth replied faintly. “My eyes?”

“Green.” Sothis nodded.

Silence stretched.

“This shouldn’t be possible.” Byleth roused slightly, eyes sharpening into focus as she frowned. “…Right?”

“No, it should not.” Sothis agreed with a shake of her head, voice clipped and eyes glued to Byleth’s inhuman features. “Divine Pulse is not supposed to… Time doesn’t…” She struggled for words before giving up with a grumble.

“Teeth?” Sothis asked instead, then leaned forward for a better look when Byleth dutifully opened her mouth. Sharp canines glinted in the low light, causing Sothis to sigh. “Well, it is safe to say that you are no longer quite as human as you should be at this point.”

The ‘at all’ was left unspoken yet understood quite clearly by both.

“Do you think it carried over into the waking world?” Byleth asked, concerned.

“Oh, now wouldn’t that be a mess,” Sothis muttered. Tugging on one of her braids thoughtfully, she spoke slowly. “It… is possible. Though you come here when you dream, this is a… separate place. More… a meeting of souls rather than consciousness. It is hard to explain; but if that has become the reflection of your soul…”

“You need to wake up.” Sharp green eyes narrowed; Sothis’ tone suddenly brusque. “Now.”

()()()()()

A loud persistent noise slowly roused Byleth from her sleep. Stirring in the lumpy inn bed, her eyes cracked open and drifted to the side only to snag on the seated form of the diminutive goddess she had come to consider family. Noise revealing itself to be small hands clapping slowly together, Byleth yawned and sat up, stretching as she did so.

“I feel that I must congratulate you, for it is no small feat that you have accomplished.” Sothis smiled, sarcastic tone utterly at odds with her bright expression.

Byleth froze, eyes going cross as she mutely examined the single lock of disheveled green hair that fluttered lightly in front of her face with every breath.

“It is not every day that one utterly breaks time as you have,” Sothis continued, though she stopped clapping and instead clasped her hands tightly together until her knuckles turned white. Leaning forward, her voice gained a tinge of hysteria. “This is not how time travel is supposed to work. I should know, since it is one of my domains. Really, I’m quite honestly in a large amount of shock right now.”

Byleth made a dazed sound. She thought it might be one of vague agreement.

“I have no words.” Sothis continued to smile, eyes staring unseeingly into the distance. “For how utterly impossible you are. The things you do are…”

Byleth opened her mouth. Closed it. Opened it again.

“Byleth.” Sothis’ green eyes locked on to Byleth’s lighter ones. “What. Did. You. Do?”

Byleth’s mouth snapped shut with a click. Shrugging helplessly, she gazed back.

“Divine Pulse?” Byleth finally responded, voice weak.

Sothis’ responding stare was utterly unamused.

 

Chapter Text

Green eyes locked mutely from across the cozy inn room, both women silently pleading with the other to somehow make sense of the situation they suddenly found themselves in.

“Nothing comes to mind to explain how this could come to pass?” Sothis questioned exasperatedly. “Nothing at all? Not even a little?”

Byleth shook her head slowly.

“Do you have any idea how hard this is going to-” Sothis’ voice cut off as her ears twitched, the sound of heavy boots approaching sending both sets of green eyes darting to the door. The footsteps stopped uncomfortably close.

“Hey. Time to wake up.” Jeralt’s voice sounded out, voice brisk.

“Your appearance!” Sothis hissed unnecessarily.

Byleth’s eyes widened in panic as the doorknob started to move, the wooden door creaking open. “I’m naked!”

The door froze, half a hand and a foot visible from within.

Byleth flushed slightly in dawning horror as she realized that the voice that spoke was her own. Ignoring Sothis’ poorly smothered giggle, her eyes frantically searched the sparse room for anything that could hide how very different she now was.

“Quick, that helmet should suffice,” Sothis cleared her throat and pointed at a half-hidden helmet tucked beneath the bed. Once upon a time the headpiece probably gleamed, but many years and even more fights had left it scuffed and tarnished.

Byleth grabbed the helmet and shoved it on her head. Paused. Took the helmet off, bunched her hair up, and carefully placed the helmet back on. Tucking in a few loose strands, she lowered the visor. A critical onceover and thumbs up from Sothis had her calling out for her father to enter.

The door slowly opened just enough for Jeralt to warily peer within. Brown eyes landing on the odd sight before him, his brow wrinkled slightly with a confused frown. “You okay, kid?”

There was a pause as Byleth struggled to find an adequate explanation.

“Just tell him that you’re experimenting with heavy armor,” Sothis cut in helpfully after a moment.

“Just experimenting.” Byleth parroted dutifully.

“Ah…” Jeralt took in the fact that his daughter was still tangled up in her sheets, clothes disheveled. Remembered her earlier words. Eyed the oddly familiar helmet hiding her face from view. The late start to the morning. “That, uh- that’s… good? Experimenting is… healthy.”

An awkward silence settled within the room.

Jeralt shifted uncomfortably, mind racing to remember the advice he had been given so long ago by Morgana after Byleth and Robin had gone to bed one night. What was it again? Girls experimenting was just as normal and healthy as when boys did it, and he should be completely supportive. If there was a partner involved, he should make sure they were being safe, that Byleth was happy, and put the fear of the goddess into the boy who dared to touch his daughter.

…Goddess, he had hoped to never need to use that advice.

A horrible thought suddenly crawled its way into the forefront of his mind.

“We, uh,” Jeralt coughed, clearing his throat uncomfortably. “We had that talk, didn’t we?”

“What?” Byleth questioned slowly, a foreboding feeling causing alarm bells to ring in her head.

“The- You know,” Jeralt shifted. “The talk. About life. And… babies.”

“…What.” Byleth’s mind blanked as Sothis devolved into giggles in the background.

“Please tell me we…” Jeralt’s tone was bordering on desperate before he trailed off, eyes boring into a rather distinct dent dug into the side of the helmet. “Wait a minute- isn’t that Kevin’s helmet?”

“…” Byleth continued to stare mutely forward.

“I’m going to kill him,” Jeralt muttered to himself as he swiftly left the room, the door slowly swinging shut behind him.

“I’m curious,” Sothis cleared her throat, eyes shining in unabashed amusement. “Is that Kevin’s helmet?”

Byleth finally slumped. Glad her cheeks were covered and that utterly horrifying misunderstanding was over – speaking of such things was much easier when she was emotionally challenged – Byleth groaned. “I don’t know. Maybe. You know I don’t use helmets.”

“And just how did Kevin’s helmet find its way into your room?” Sothis continued to needle, smile wide.

Byleth took the question seriously and frowned but try as she might she couldn’t for the life of her remember. Finally, she shrugged, only one thing coming to mind no matter how ridiculous it sounded. “I seem to attract lost items.”

Sothis paused, thought about it, then nodded. “Fair enough.”

A high-pitched shriek drifted in from the open window facing the forest. The distant yet normal sounds of camp quieted for a long moment before Jeralt’s booming voice faintly reached Byleth’s ears. “Nothing to see here, carry on.”

“I should… Probably clear that up with Jeralt.” Byleth closed her eyes and sighed, voice fading to a mumble as she heaved herself out of bed and began straightening her clothes. “And apologize to Kevin… whoever he is.”

“Just imagine what his reaction would be should he find out just who you have those particular thoughts about,” Sothis’ grin suddenly grew as Byleth’s face paled. “And that you married her.”

Byleth stared blankly ahead, thoughts swirling as each scenario turned out worse than the last. It was no question which of the two would come out on top in that particular confrontation. “Lets… not mention that right now. Or anytime soon. I’d like my father to stay alive and un-maimed for as long as possible.”

“Mm,” Sothis acquiesced easily as Byleth strapped on her armor pieces. “I suppose, technically, you’re not married yet. Since stopping his assassination is one of many things on our to-do list, I look forward to witnessing his reaction.”

Both heads swiveled towards the door mere moments before another knock sounded, proceeded by a cleared throat.

“I forgot to mention that its time for us to move on,” Jeralt peered inside cautiously before entering. “Our next job is in the Kingdom. It’s pretty far from here, so we’ll be moving out at dawn.”

Byleth’s turned her head slightly, peering out at the false dawn before glancing at her open bag on the small table, a smattering of items surrounding it. “…Of course.”

Jeralt’s eyes followed and took in her half-filled bag before sighing in fond exasperation. “Good grief. Everyone is already waiting for us outside.” His eyes snagged on the helmet she still wore. “I can get you your own, one in better shape than that.”

“About that-” Byleth started only to be cut off as the sudden clanking of steel armor heralded a mercenary bursting into the room.

“Jeralt! Sir!” The mercenary quickly shifted to attention. “Sorry to barge in, but your presence is needed at the camp.”

“What’s happened?” Jeralt’s gaze sharpened, voice losing the warmth of a few moments ago. “And for Goddess’ sake man, knock before entering a woman’s room.”

“Y-Yes, sir! Sorry, sir!” The mercenary stammered under Jeralt’s sudden glare. “It’s… best that you see for yourself. Sir.”

“And so, it begins.” Sothis stated gravely, all traces of amusement vanishing from her expression. “The fawn, the cub, and the fledgling enter the stage - and the world awaits with bated breath for its guiding light, and what choices she might make.”

Green eyes watched as Jeralt shot Byleth a glance before following behind the nervous mercenary.

“Come,” Sothis gestured towards the door. “Let us reunite with your students, and once again set this play into motion.”

Byleth took a deep breath and set her shoulders. Steeling herself, she nodded, Sothis’ words echoing in her mind and bolstering her resolve.

“Perhaps this time, we shall avoid being the protagonist of a tragedy.”

Chapter Text

She hung back for a few minutes as Jeralt approached the newest additions to camp and simply watched.

Watched as the fawn smiled easy, deflecting any inquiry that became too personal with humor, green eyes picking out escape routes should things sour. Watched as the cub stood straight before bowing lowly, apologies and explanations falling from his lips, blue eyes guarded but sincere. Watched as the fledgling stood proud, a practiced smile on her face, words polite but violet eyes silently assessing and reassessing.

“You look utterly ridiculous.”

Byleth frowned. It wasn’t like she had many options to hide her features. Especially on such short notice and with so few materials to work with.

“Oh, I know. I just thought it needed saying, in case you started to have silly thoughts about it looking good. Nabatean you may now be, but you were once a mortal – who knows what odd little quirks may have carried over.”

Byleth rolled her eyes and started forward.

“I can feel you rolling your eyes at me, you know.”

A slight smirk quirked the corner of Byleth’s lips for a brief moment as she murmured lowly. “Which makes it doubly effective.”

Silence greeted Byleth’s words for a long moment.

“Hm. Point.”

Byleth reached Jeralt just as the scout finished his breathless report. Steadfastly ignoring the blatant stares from her students, she kept her focus on her father as he grunted and scowled at the news.

“We’ve been based here a few weeks – only the most dimwitted of bandits would come near this village, and those were all taken care of within the first few days. These ones must have followed you here.” Jeralt glanced at the three teenagers before sighing. “Well, we can’t abandon this village now.”

Jeralt gave the order to move out to the scout, before turning to look at his daughter. “Hope you’re ready. You going to be okay to fight with that on?”

Byleth grimaced slightly – the helmet was rather uncomfortable – but nodded. A few dozen bandits were barely a concern before. Now? Now she was going to have to consciously hold back so as not to garner too much suspicion.

“…After the battle.” Byleth’s words were quiet, but they received Jeralt’s full attention. “I think we should talk.”

“I think we better.” Jeralt nodded slowly, eyeing the helmet. “After the battle, then.”

()()()()()

Byleth paced restlessly around the small inn room.

“Are you certain you know what you are doing?” Sothis asked from her perch atop the table next to Byleth’s packed bag.

“Not at all,” Byleth shook her head with a frown and stopped abruptly before peering out the window for any sign of her father. A cursory scan didn’t reveal anyone fitting Jeralt’s physique, and so she started pacing once more.

“As much as I’ve come to respect your father, and as upstanding as his morals may be, I caution you to be very careful with what information you reveal.” Sothis warned. “Not all secrets are solely yours to share. Think first of who else may be negatively impacted should the wrong information get out.”

“I know.” Byleth sighed and leaned against the wall, arms crossing. She had to consciously stop her leg from bouncing restlessly as her eyes slid over to meet with a serious green gaze. “You know I would never purposefully put them in harms way.”

“I know.” Sothis agreed quietly, the two of them sharing a small smile.

“But that still leaves the matter of my appearance. I can’t go around constantly wearing a helmet for the next year, Kevin’s or otherwise.” Byleth chewed her lip in thought.

“We could perhaps dye your hair. Black, maybe. It wouldn’t be the same color but would be far easier to explain away than pale green.” Sothis offered after a moment of thought.

“Maybe.” Byleth frowned. “Nobody at the monastery has seen me before, so passing off a different hair color is possible. I could probably even get away with the green if it weren’t for the blatant alarms it would raise with Rhea, Seteth, and Flayn.”

“Hm. Their expressions would be quite amusing if you walked in looking as you do now,” Sothis hummed. “But I agree, the questions that would inevitably follow would be hard to answer at this point in time. And it would probably cement the wrong idea within Seiros, who at this point is still convinced that you will turn out to be me.”

Byleth grumbled slightly at the thought. Though Rhea’s preconceptions were the catalyst for, well, pretty much everything, she did not want to reinforce the idea that she was her wife’s mother with amnesia.

“…Are you pouting?” Sothis asked, delight dripping from her words. “You are!”

Moving on,” Byleth stressed, glaring balefully at the giggling goddess. “While the hair dye could work, and I could probably get away with my new eye color with only a few probing looks from Rhea and Seteth, I don’t think my father is so oblivious as to not notice that my blue eyes are suddenly a rather luminous shade of green.”

“I thought it was rather normal for a humans’ eye color to change from blue as they aged,” Sothis tilted her head in thought, finger tapping her lip. “I can’t quite recall where I heard that, however.”

“…I think it was a book in Manuela’s office.” Byleth frowned, brows furrowed. “And only happens to babies.”

“Well,” Sothis shrugged. “Cumulatively, you have only been a Nabatean for a century or two at most. If it weren’t for your unique circumstances, you would still be considered a very young child.”

Byleth sighed. “Considering we’ve already decided to withhold that particular piece of information for now, it still brings us no closer to a solution.” She paused, and couldn’t help but grumble rather petulantly, “Also, I’m an adult.”

“Considering the activities you get up to with my daughter,” Sothis snorted. “I would be concerned if you weren’t. Though I feel it fair to point out that you are a young adult, at most.”

A knock on the door interrupted Byleth’s response.

“Kid, you decent?” Jeralt’s voice sounded slightly muffled.

“Come in,” Byleth called. As had become the norm since the incident that morning, Jeralt almost warily peered inside before finally entering fully.

“You wanted to talk before we left?” Jeralt asked, unable to stop from eyeing the odd sight of his daughter in her normal outfit with the addition of the banged-up helmet.

“Yes.” Byleth nodded. “There is something I need to tell you.”

“Right, well I’m all ears.” Jeralt’s tone was supportive, though he inwardly braced himself.

An awkward silence fell between them. Byleth opened her mouth and closed it more than once, words failing her as her mind blanked. Jeralt’s nerves shot up with every aborted attempt.

Byleth coughed, then mumbled. “This is harder than I thought.”

“You’re not…” Jeralt had unflinchingly faced down many a foe in his long years, but the sudden thought that jumped into his mind scared him like no other. It took all his courage to keep his voice level and force the words out of his mouth. “Byleth, are you pregnant?”

Byleth froze, eyes wide as she stared at her father in disbelief. It was only as his calm expression began to falter did her voice finally return, words sputtering forth uncontrollably. “What- No! No. Why would you even- That is not remotely a concern, now or ever.”

“Well…” Sothis’ amused voice drew out the word teasingly. “I wouldn’t say never.”

Byleth’s wide-eyed gaze shifted immediately to the innocently smiling goddess, mouth gaping open as words formed and died in her throat. Thankfully, Jeralt had closed his eyes in relief at the news and had missed her moment of utter shock.

“We can speak of my future grandchildren another time. Better yet, you should ask Seiros – I am certain she would be more than happy to explain the mechanics to you.” Sothis deflected impishly with shining eyes, before gesturing to Jeralt. “More pressingly, you should gather yourself and focus on what you are going to say to your father.”

Byleth’s mouth clicked shut and she swallowed her questions. Nodded. Took a deep, calming breath, and swallowed again just in time for her father to open his eyes.

“Good. That’s, good.” Jeralt sighed in relief, before realising just how his words and reactions might sound. Awkwardly, he tried to reassure her. “Not that it would be, bad, if you were with child.”

“I’ll… keep that in mind.” Byleth replied, just as awkwardly, Sothis’ words still floating around her mind.

“As long as you’re happy, I’d support you no matter what.” Jeralt added gruffly with a nod, avoiding eye contact. “Even if it- even if that happiness was because of someone like Kevin.”

“Thank you.” Byleth paused, thought about how his tune might change in the future, then made sure to clarify. “But there’s nothing between me and Kevin. And there won’t be. Ever.”

“Oh. Good.” Jeralt cleared his throat. Asked hesitantly, “You sure? I know my reaction wasn’t the most-”

“Father.” Byleth interrupted, voice blank. “Very, very sure.”

“Okay.” Jeralt nodded once. Twice. “Okay. Good.”

Silence.

“I don’t know if this is utterly amusing to watch,” Sothis hummed thoughtfully. “Or utterly painful. One thing is for certain - it is plain to see that I was not the only reason for your emotional awkwardness. Let us hope it is a learned trait, and not hereditary.”

Byleth coughed.

“If it wasn’t because of… that,” Jeralt shifted uncomfortably. “What did you need to talk about? We’re about to head out for Garreg Mach.”

“Right,” Byleth took a deep breath. Exhaled. “I… have a problem.”

“What kind of problem?” Jeralt’s tone was immediately concerned.

Byleth worked her jaw, trying to come up with an easy way to explain everything… without actually explaining everything. Slowly, the beginning of a plan came to her. “Do you… recall what I’ve said about my dreams?”

“About the little green haired girl?” Jeralt questioned, confused. “Yes, you’ve mentioned her more than once.”

Sothis huffed at the description, arms crossed.

“She…” Byleth trailed off, brows furrowed. “No, wait. Do you remember when I was about… six or seven, and we stopped for a week or two in this small village in the mountains? You took a job to help the local blacksmith, had a son about my age?”

Jeralt frowned in thought, hand rubbing absently at his chin. Slowly he nodded. “…Cliff, good man. Turned out to be a band of poacher trapping and setting wolves loose on the caravan shipments. Can’t remember the son’s name- you two used to play by the stream.”

They were both aware that he used the term play very loosely.

“Yes,” Byleth nodded. “Us, and his imaginary friend Sir Boulder. It’s… kind of like that?”

Byleth frowned, slightly bewildered at her own analogy.

Sothis’ displeasure shifted from Jeralt to Byleth, her eyes narrowing further. “I do not like where you are going with this comparison. Pray, tread carefully.”

“Are you… trying to tell me that the girl in your dreams is your imaginary friend?” Jeralt asked haltingly, utterly confused.

“Yes. No.” Byleth huffed. “Maybe. She’s always there even when I’m awake, and only I can see her. Except she’s real.”

Byleth paused, brows furrowed. Muttered to herself, “Maybe that was the wrong comparison to make.”

“Kid,” Jeralt cleared his throat. “You’re starting to worry me here. Just… just tell me what you need to. Lay it on me straight.”

Byleth blinked, thought about it, then shrugged. “That girl is the goddess, and I’m her avatar.”

Jeralt’s expression of concern only deepened.

“Ah,” Byleth’s eyes lit up in remembrance. Taking the helmet off, she shook her hair out with a relieved sigh. “I’m also going to need some dye for my hair before we leave. Do you think the village has anything we can use?”

“What-” Jeralt blinked. Took in the sight of his daughter, hair and eyes impossibly green. He blinked again, before sinking heavily into the nearest chair, mouth working without sound.

Sothis sighed into the palm of her hand in exasperation, head shaking slowly.