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I Don't Want To Be Saved By You

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Convict Info
Prisoner No. 627
Crime: Treason, Attempted Murder of Her Imperial Majesty, Edelgard von Hresvelg
Verdict: Guilty, Eleven in Favour, One Opposed
Presiding: The Honourable Lord Eustace von Rohm
Sentence: Death, later commuted to life imprisonment by word of the Adrestian Emperor
Name: Marianne von Edmund
Occupation: Former heir to the von Edmund family
Confinement: Enbarr Keep, Solitary
Notes: Prisoner is an extremely talented sorcerer, and as such at least two personnel capable of subduing the prisoner via a Silence spell are required on site at all times
Disciplinary Record: -Prisoner bit hand of guard who was handling restraints, was deprived of food for two days.
-Escape Attempt No.1: Prisoner froze bars of cell while unobserved, which loosed them from their holdings. Prisoner was apprehended after a few minutes, was given five lashes, deprived of food for three days, guard on duty who neglected their duties was posted to latrines for one month.
-Escape Attempt No.2: Prisoner faked an illness, then assaulted the guards which attempted to treat her. Prisoner briefly escaped the confines of the keep, but was recaptured in less than one hour, given ten lashes, deprived of food for five days
-Prisoner began refusing food, was force-fed by personnel on site.
-Prisoner began smearing faeces on the walls of the cell and refused to wear assigned garments. Prisoner and cell were forcibly cleaned.
-Escape Attempt No.3: Prisoner without warning blasted the bars of the cell open with a burst of Thoron. The Prisoner was restrained immediately afterwards by personnel on site, given fifteen lashes, deprived of food for one week.

As of Harpstring Moon, 1185, Prisoner has apparently ceased all malicious activity, but continues to remain under heavy guard and watch at all times.

…….
The distant sound of footsteps on cold stone and harsh voices briefly arouse interest from Prisoner No. 627. She sat back against the freezing wall, hands and feet chained together, unable to see well into the dark halls with loose clumps of matted blue hair hanging in front of her face.

“...and lately this Prisoner has been a model captive, cooperative, quiet, and calm, why, I wish we had more like her!”

“And whose fault is that? Warden? I’ve read your reports… and the obviously fake ones you sent me.”

“Well when dealing with a subject as harsh as-”

“I’ve heard just about enough coming from you, go and clear out your belongings, I don’t ever want to see you in this city again.”

“But-”

“Guard, remove this filth from my sight as once!”

A pair of steps were heard walking away from the Prisoner’s cell, followed by a set of new ones closing the remaining distance toward her.

“Open the cell.” Someone walked up and she can hear the clicking of the locks give way, and the gate makes a horrid screech as it slides open. Immediately after the Prisoner hears frantic steps of feet as someone rushes to her side and drops to their knees beside her, their small warm hands cupping her frigid cheeks.

“Marianne… Marianne are you ok? Please answer me!” They speak to her, but the Prisoner does not talk back. Through the gaps in front of her eyes, she can see the one before her, a lady with platinum hair and pink eyes… it looks familiar… but she can’t quite remember who it is.

The Prisoner can also see that she is crying.

“Oh Marianne… when we heard what they had done to you we came straight away… they should never have sent you to a wretched place like this… you should’ve stayed with us, at the Monastery!”

Another person steps into her cell, she can just make out her boots on the ground… they look eerily familiar, and she very slowly tilts her head up.

“Lady Marianne, you have my deepest condolences and regrets for allowing this treatment to take place… I take full responsibility, and I swear it will never happen again.” This new figure states.

The Prisoner’s head is up far enough to get a better look at the new person before her, she’s wearing a long crimson dress with equally colour matching armour… and the crown upon her head.

She recognizes her, it is the Emperor standing before her once again.

Prisoner No. 627 slowly starts rising to their feet, the other lady in the room helping her stand up so she could look Edelgard in the eyes, they were hardened, but clearly full of guilt for her. Without anymore words among them, Edelgard takes hold of her left hand while… Lysithea- she’s just remembered who she is, takes hold of her right, and they begin to walk with her out of the cell.

“Big sister El is gonna take you to the palace to stay with us… no more of that cold dark cell! Ok?” Lysithea tries to comfort her, the Prisoner doesn’t react, she just keeps walking.

A thick cloak is wrapped around the thin garments covering her now frail and malnourished frame just before they are about to head outside, but she is wholly unprepared for her first sunlight in months. The resulting shock is essentially blinding, her vision restoring in small bits all the rest of the way to her new cell, purpose built right within Enbarr Palace to house her, Lysithea opens the ornate wooden door on the outside, while Edelgard unlocks the iron grate situated right behind it.

The Prisoner is let inside and she begins to take in the new surroundings slowly, the first hint of luxury being a decent looking bed in the far center, the Prisoner can’t even remember the last time she had slept on anything other then stone. Other furnishings included a table with three chairs, a desk with some parchment and ink, a small wooden bookcase filled with readings and a posh looking armchair placed just apart from a fire stove.

There was also an old looking grandfather clock ticking away next to the desk, it was just after eight in the morning.

“That door over there leads to a private bath,” Edelgard explained, pointing to the entrance just next to the bookcase. She then walked over to a set of sliding doors to the side of the bed and opened them up, revealing a large opening to the outside world, though still protected from her by reinforced bars.

“A small balcony, so you can get fresh air.” Edelgard stated.

All throughout this the Prisoner hadn’t moved or made a sound, just turning her head and eyes to view all as many parts of the room as she could, the Emperor soon returning to her side and further explaining the new conditions of her confinement.

“You’ll be brought three meals a day, and be permitted to have guests whenever you’d like, you’re allowed to write letters to whoever you’d like and any replies will be brought to you.”

Lysithea fetched a keyring from Edelgard and began undoing the shackles on her hands and feet, slightly wincing as each removal revealed the deeply bruised skin they had been hiding, but everyone kept their composure.

“The walls of this room are filled with several magic dampening charms, so you’ll find casting any spells to be completely impossible. Access out of this room may be temporarily permitted on the recommendation of either myself, the Minister of the Imperial Household, or Professor Byleth.” Edelgard further explained.

The Prisoner wasn’t wholly paying attention to what the Emperor was saying, but the sound of that last name stirred something within her.

So… the Professor is here too.

Edelgard added one last comment, “If you have any requests for something, whether it be food, entertainment, exercise, or anything else, pass it along to whoever comes to check on you, it will find its way to me and I’ll look into it.”

Lysithea then tenderly grasped her hands, looking once more into her tired eyes, “You probably want to get some real sleep, right? Or I could help you run a bath if you’d prefer, I just want to make sure you’re ok."

The Prisoner kept her silence, the most amount of communication she had done yet just being to just slowly shake her head, Lysithea understood and let her go, saying they would bring her a nice filling meal later before exiting the room with Edelgard and locking the room up behind her. Now truly alone for the first time in months, she slowly shuffled her feet towards the ultimate prize in the room, that luxurious looking bed.

She slowly discarded the rags that covered her and fell bare onto the covers, its softness was like nothing she had ever experienced, and she rubbed herself all over it, flipping onto her back and repeating the same. Awkwardly the Prisoner began to slip her body underneath the blanket, head finally resting upon a pair of fluffy pillows once again.

And then, Marianne began thinking.

She had surveyed the room, been told her limitations, the features, the expectations.

It was time again to plot her revenge.

For she would kill Edelgard with her own hands, even if it cost her everything.

Chapter Text

LONE MOON, 1185, THREE MONTHS AGO

A lone, cloaked rider slowly trots the road leading all the way from the Great Bridge of Myrddin to Garreg Mach Monastery, where the Adrestian Empire’s main headquarters was located. She had been riding nice and silent for days from Edmund territory, trusted steed trodding the path ahead of her, sword bobbing at her hip, eyes hard and focused.

Marianne was on a mission, and she wouldn’t rest until it was completed.

Travelling through to Garreg Mach through the newly conquered Alliance territories had thus far been easy, her adoptive father was a known supporter of the empire, and thus simply showing her family’s insignia to any Imperial inspectors was enough to allow safe passage. Security around the Monastery itself was a bit contradictory, there were fewer personnel checks, but they were more thorough. Apparently a major battle had taken place the previous month and now scrutiny was at an all time high, Marianne was still able to pass without incident, but the increasingly lengthy stops for questions were beginning to tire her.

“Halt! State your business here!”

“I am Marianne von Edmund, heiress to the von Edmund family, I come to offer my services to the Empire in their crusade against the Church of Seiros.” Marianne instinctively replied in a drab and monotone form.

“May I see some identification?”

She opened her cloak to retrieve the folded paper slip from within her pouch, Marianne’s hands lightly brushing by a small charm adorned with a knot of soft pink hair attached to her waist as she handed the slip to the soldier. He and a fellow colleague took a moment to read it before handing it back.

“Where are you headed?”

Marianne couldn’t help but roll her eyes at such a pointless question. “To Garreg Mach, where else?”

“And where have you come from?”

Again, pointless. “From my home in Edmund territory.”

“Is anyone else travelling with you?”

“Just Dorte here.” Marianne tenderly patted the side of her mount’s neck.
The two soldiers whispered to each other for a few more moments, before one of them looked back at her and instructed. “Wait here.” And he marched off.

Marianne drummed her fingers across the hilt of her sword as she waited as patiently as she could for the inspector to return, only the tiniest amount of worry as usually she was allowed to leave after the last question. Gutting these two watchmen if they suddenly decided to detain her would be no matter to Marianne, but she didn’t want to raise an alarm before making it to Garreg Mach, she was so close, she could already see the walls of the Monastery in striking distance.

After a few dreadfully boring minutes the soldier who had left came jogging back into view, followed by the approaching gallop of another cavalry unit. “Oh great, more questioning?” Marianne asked aloud, but very quickly she realized this was probably not the case. The rider now approaching her was wearing a very familiar orange coat with a bow slung over it, and had orange hair as well.

Oh. She realized. It’s her, this is an escort.

“Marianne…? Marianne is that really you? It’s been years!” Leonie exclaimed as she pulled her horse up just apart from hers.

Marianne figured Leonie couldn’t see her very well with her hood up the way it was, so she begrudgingly pulled it down, revealing her long, wavy, unbraided blue hair, and her tired but firm brown eyes. Leonie squinted to she could see her former classmate better, and then frowned as she made out all the different facts about her look, she then told the guards they could stand down, and beckoned to Marianne to follow her the rest of the way.

The two riders silently traversed the remaining path for a few minutes before Leonie decided to talk to Marianne again, as she struggled to come up with the right words to say to the visibly sour woman. “I um… I’m glad you’ve decided to join us, Marianne… Lys and I missed you.”

Marianne didn’t offer any reply, instead just flipping her hood back up to obscure the growing anger and discomfort across her face. Is that really all who’s left? She thought, riding just behind Leonie with her hand gravitating toward her sword hilt out of sheer instinct.

Leonie wasn’t her friend, she had no friends left. She was just another enemy.

“So… what made you decide to come, anyway?” The Paladin innocently asked, with Marianne quickly removing her hand from the hilt just in case she turned around to look at her. She didn’t want to answer her, but Marianne figured continuing to remain silent would probably arouse at least a little suspicion, it was just going to be hard to try and hide the obvious scorn in her voice.

“I read the Emperor’s manifesto, and I also wish to destroy the Crest system.” She came up with on the spot, it wasn’t untrue, per se, which made it an excellent cover for the disgust trapped within her speech.

This time Leonie looked back and nodded, returning her eyes afront, she added, “I made a promise to Captain Jeralt to protect her daughter… so here I found myself, fighting my own countrymen…” Her voice was weary as well, but it didn’t have any malice in it, unlike Marianne’s. Both decided not to speak to each other for the rest of the trip up, and Marianne felt a new surge of energy enter her exhausted form as she finally laid eyes upon the Monastery gates yet again.

“Well… I have to return to my watch now,” Leonie explained, trotting her horse around her so she was now facing the other way again. “Say hi to Lys for me, please?” She pleaded just before departing into a canter.

Marianne remained silent, there was too much else on her mind.

Her first bit of business was returning Dorte to his stable, so she hopped off the saddle and started leading him by the hand through the mostly quiet marketplace, being nowhere near as busy as it had been five years prior. Marianne could see Imperial soldiers all around her, either resting, chatting or carrying various goods and boxes, no one seemed to be paying attention to her, however, which was just fine.

Upon reaching the stables Marianne was displeased but not surprised to see any of Dorte’s old companions inside, instead the space inside was almost completely empty aside from a couple old work horses and an errant mule. She figured that with the Monastery’s heightened security and losses from the previous battle nearly every remaining workable steed had been deployed.

Marianne led Dorte into the enclosure and he immediately whinied, obviously sensing Marianne’s distress and what she was about to do. She shared Dorte’s sentiments but didn’t waver at all, unhooking her mount’s bridle and saddle and pulling them off, letting them fall with little grace to the straw floor, not even bothering to collect them. Marianne then came to Dorte’s side and gave the horse a firm hug around his neck, “I’m sorry… but this is goodbye now… I hope you have a good time without me.” She consoled, giving her last friend a small kiss on the nose before leaving and shutting the stable doors behind her.

Marianne was sad to say goodbye to Dorte, but she knew there was little chance of her returning alive from this mission, and she hadn’t prepared for it.

It was now time to confront the Emperor.

She asked a soldier as inconspicuously as she could where one could find Edelgard, and was directed to the Cardinal’s room on the upper floor of the main building, as apparently there was a small meeting between key members of the so called “Black Eagle Strike Force.” Marianne tried not to let herself run or jog towards her goal, but the anticipation and adrenaline was filling her rapidly, and so she settled on an extremely brisk walk, nearly barreling over one drunk soldier’s legs as he lie against the stone wall laughing.

Marianne was thankful that security inside the monastery itself was leagues behind that of Garreg Mach’s outskirts, as so far no one had stopped her or asked her anything as she made her way up the steps to the academy offices. There she couldn’t hold back any longer, and Marianne ran the last stretch to the room where her destiny awaited, knocking forcefully on the door. She couldn’t hear much of anything through the thick oak of the door, but after a moment’s wait she heard the lock click open, and the door swung wide to reveal Lysithea in front of her.

The gremory’s eyes widened in shock as she recognized the hooded, cloaked figure standing ready at the door, and Lysithea leapt forward and pulled Marianne into a wholly unwanted hug. “Oh my lord, Marianne! I can’t believe it’s you!” She wailed as Marianne swallowed a lump and returned the embrace to keep her charade up. “It’s me, Lysithea… I ran into Leonie on the way here, she says hi.” Marianne sung back to her, trying her very hardest not to throw up.

Lysithea lead her into the room and announced her arrival, with Marianne removing her hood so the few people seated around the table could see her better. Scanning for herself revealed Professor Byleth at the far head, with Hubert sitting arms crossed in the closest chair to her.

And the Emperor… Edelgard was standing right in the middle between herself and Lysithea at the door, and Byleth and Hubert at the far end of the table.

“Ah, Marianne von Edmund, is it not?” Edelgard pondered aloud, “To what do we owe your visit today?”

Marianne had to fight tooth and nail to keep every muscle in her body from charging Edelgard right away, it was too risky, she thought, she had to get closer, keep everyone’s guard down. So she gave a formal curtsey and repeated her earlier lie to Leonie, “I’ve come to offer my services to the Empire on behalf of House Edmund.” Marianne announced. “And on a personal note, I too share your dream in seeing the Crest system destroyed and abolished.” She added to hopefully complete the disguise.

Edelgard visibly raised an eyebrow but made no further movement, “Well I’m very glad to hear that, we can always use more talented individuals, and I heard from your former classmates about your troubles with your own Crest.” She stated, appearing to buy Marianne’s lie.

Then, she had a further idea.

Marianne unhooked the scabbard from her belt and held it with both hands as she slowly approached Edelgard, all eyes on her as she closed the range to the Emperor. Once she was in spitting distance Marianne dropped to her knee with her head bowed and held her blade aloft before Edelgard. “I offer you my life, and my relic for your service, please use me as you see fit.” She spoke in a mock display of fealty.

To this Edelgard couldn’t help but chuckle somewhat, Marianne had hit the jackpot, the Emperor put a hand on her shoulder and asked her to stand back up. “There is no need for such formalities, Marianne, we are all among friends here.”

Then she turned her back toward her, and it was time.

Without a moment’s hesitation Marianne unsheathed Blutgang from its scabbard and ran its length straight through Edelgard’s heart, it was done.

Or at least that’s what she was sure had happened.

Instead she was shocked to find the tip of the Sword of the Creator knocking Blutgang from her grip, Marianne then turned and saw Hubert leaping over the table, barely able to react before he tackled her to the ground. “Let go of me, fiend!” Marianne screamed, giving up all her subtlety as Hubert wrestled with her arms, pinning her to the floor.

“Who! Who put you up to this, answer me!” Hubert demanded as he ground Marianne’s face into the floorboards. She tried to struggle as hard as she could but the sorcerer’s lock was too much, and she could only weakly lift up her now bruised head to see Lysithea struggling against Byleth’s grip herself, protesting vociferously and asking that they all stop. Marianne had one last recourse, and she began to plead with Lysithea from her position on the ground.

“Don’t you see?! She has to die! She killed our friends… she killed Hilda!”

After that final outburst, Marianne felt Hubert’s boot drop down on her head, and everything went dark.

Chapter Text

Marianne lied down alone on her bed within the Monastery’s dormitories, oil lantern flickering as she went over every word on the piece of parchment held between her hands. Her blue hair was let out of its braid and sprawled all across her pillow, while her dress and coat top were littering the floor, leaving Marianne only in her undershirt and tights. She was trying to relax, to calm down, but between the situation out on the field, and the lines written down on her summons, it looked like that would be impossible.

Suddenly Marianne heard her door start to open, and she quickly pulled a sheet over her semi-immodest form, only letting go once she realized who had come to see her. “Sorry for not knocking, but I know you’re not especially keen on others knowing when I come to see you like this.” Her visitor explained, shutting the door and immediately peeling off her boots.

“It’s ok Hilda, I’m just glad you came.” Marianne replied, already feeling the knots in her heart begin to unwind as her greatest joy had arrived. Hilda hovered over Marianne and the two exchanged a brief kiss before the pink haired girl sat on the edge of the bed, Marianne partially covering her face with the parchment in her hands almost as if she was embarrassed by the open display of affection. “What have you got there, Mari?” Hilda questioned as she began removing her stockings, bringing the knots back into the blue mage’s heart, bringing reality back to bite her.

“It’s from my adoptive father… he wants me to return home immediately.” Marianne sighed, trying not to blush or stare too hard at her secret lover as she continued to strip down to her underwear. “Well… that’s not so bad, right?” Hilda questioned, pulling the blanket over herself and Marianne as she settled into bed next to her. “We’re all probably going home soon… what with the imminent battle on the horizon, so we’ll still be able to see each other!” She added, draping a strong arm across the lithe healer and giving her a wet kiss on the cheek.

Marianne sighed yet again, however, as there was another part to this document she had to reveal, “He said he’s going to side with the Empire, Hilda.” She grimly revealed.

The mood quickly turned sour between the two of them in bed, as they both knew that House Goneril was staunchly on the other side of that argument. Earlier Hilda saw their house leader, Claude inundated with piles of letters about the growing political instability in the Alliance, and he wasn’t even Duke yet, Hilda could only shudder at what her father or brother must be going through right now.

“Mari… please, let’s just not worry about this right now,” Hilda stated, yanking the paper from Marianne’s arms and flicking it across the room before pulling her close under the covers. “I’m here for you, and nobody is going to stop me from seeing you.” She declared, using one of her hands to softly stroke Marianne’s hair.

Marianne moved to wedge her head beneath the crook of Hilda’s neck, her breathing now adding the faded scent of perfume, she wanted to enjoy this so badly, but she was just too scared and anxious over what was going to come in the future. “I saw Lysithea preparing to leave earlier today, she told me she’s going to support Edelgard’s cause.” Marianne revealed, trying to hold back tears as her fear threatened to take over her body.

Leonie had already departed weeks ago, she had been Byleth when they went to the Holy Tomb and never returned after the Black Eagles fled, having been branded a fugitive by the Church. Now little Lysithea was leaving as well, she had quickly grown enamoured with Edelgard not long after the two met and had formally transferred to her house months ago, yet she had always tried to find time to spend with the Golden Deer whenever she could. One day Lysithea and Edelgard had even come to see Marianne, both imploring her to transfer as well, to which she had begrudgingly agreed, not willing to refuse a request from both a friend and the future Adrestian Emperor.

Only, Professor Byleth had rejected that proposal. “I just don’t think you’re the right fit for my class.” Had been the formal reason, but deep down Byleth could see that the sad, tired girl didn’t really want in, she was just being pressured by her peers, and to her detriment, given the few moments the Professor had seen her light up around Hilda. The day before going to the Holy Tomb Edelgard had knocked on Marianne’s door and repeated the same offer, but this time Marianne had the confidence to refuse.

Though it could have been residual courage coming from the beautiful woman lying next to her in bed that day.

But now such seemingly frivolous acts appeared malicious in hindsight, this looming war wasn’t just threatening to tear the Alliance apart, it was already ripping apart their class.

Hilda grapsed Marianne’s cheeks and looked directly into her weeping brown eyes, “Mari, stop, everything is going to be ok, I promise.” She affirmed, sealing the statement with another loving kiss on her lips. With that, Marianne curled her head into Hilda’s bosom and began to wail, with Hilda tenderly rubbing her lover’s back and trying to soothe her as best she could.

“Oh… Hilda… I really don’t deserve you… you’re always taking care of me… when all I can do is make mistakes.” Marianne sobbed. “You deserve better than a broken girl, Hilda, you-”

Hilda interrupted Marianne with a finger to her lips, smiling as brightly as she ever did and looking back at her, Marianne’s eyes darting back and forth as she found it hard to keep eye contact. “I- Love- You, Marianne, I always have, and I always will, no matter what.” Hilda affirmed, wiping the tears from the blue haired girl’s cheeks.

“I… I love you too, Hilda.”

And then Marianne awoke from her dream, or maybe it was a nightmare, she couldn’t decide.

It was the sound of tumbling locks and keys that had awakened her, and so Marianne raised her head to see a suited individual pushing in a wheeled cart, followed by Lysithea. Marianne let her head fall back down to the pillow, she didn’t want to get up yet, every part of her body ached and all she desired right now was to rest until it all went away. She started to hear the click of the steward’s shows exit the room followed by the enclosure of her doors, and Marianne began to dread having to now spend her time alone with Lysithea in this room.

But then, a curious smell began to tickle her nose, a sweet and savoury draw that began to subconsciously lift Marianne out of bed. Lysithea heard the rustling coming from the bed and upon seeing Marianne’s bare torso rising out she quickly bolted to the nearby wardrobe, retrieving a soft robe Marianne could slip into just as her feet reached the carpeted floor. Silently Lysithea grieved at the brief glance she had of Marianne’s bare, battered form, she was dreadfully thin, pale, bruised, and lined with scars from a bullwhip’s lick. It reminded Lysithea… of herself, tragically, and she fought hard not to cry on her friend’s behalf as she took her hand and led her to the table where a hot meal awaited.

Taking a seat at the table, Marianne saw confronted with a bowl of ‘creamy tomato soup’, as described by Lysithea, alongside some hearty, crusty looking bread, and a steaming pot of tea. It was a godsend compared to the only foodstuffs she was given in prison, tasteless hardtack, and cold, watered down boney fish broth, the occasional fish eye floating within being a rare treat. And that was only if her guards were in a good mood, sometimes she was deliberately given moldy tack that would only make her sick, and one demented individual always seemed to get a rise out of kicking the bowl of broth from Marianne’s hands, spilling the pale fluid all over her cell and clothes, which she would then try to suck dry.

Marianne wanted nothing more than to gorge herself on this delectable looking food, her stomach definitely demanded it as it started screaming the moment she began smelling it, but she hesitated. Lysithea was staring at her from her seat across the table, a second bowl seated in front, spoon at the ready. The look was agitating her greatly, but Marianne didn’t want to tell her, so she just sat, eyes down, waiting for something to happen.

Lysithea eventually noticed Marianne’s discomfort, but didn’t have the right idea about it’s cause. “It’s perfectly fine! Look!” She stated, dipping her spoon in her bowl and taking a hearty gulp, giving Marianne a thumbs up over the taste. The display was a bit infantilizing to Marianne, but at least Lysithea wasn’t staring at her anymore, she stuck her index finger into the thick red concoation and then sucked it clean, she had never used utensils in her cell and had forgotten to do so now.

Upon tasting her meal for the first time Marianne felt ready to cry, it was even better than the smell had suggested. The soup was rich in savoury tomato flavour, balanced with fresh cream and with just the right amount of sweetness and seasoning. But that wasn’t just it, the soup tasted… like home, like something you would make on a miserable rainy day to cheer everyone up.

It was like drinking liquid gold, and Marianne couldn’t get enough of it.

“Umm… maybe you should slow down a bit? You might get sick?” Lysithea cautioned as she witnessed Marianne pick up the bowl forthright and begin tipping the contents into her mouth, only stopping a few times to pant and catch her breath before resuming. Seeing what was probably going to happen, Lysithea stopped consuming her own soup and instead slid the bowl on its placemat to Marianne’s side of the table, the hungry woman not hesitating nor asking anything before picking up the offering and slurping it down in turn. With the main portion of the meal finished Marianne then turned her attention to the bread, taking pieces and using them to mop up the more viscous remains of the tomato soup. It wasn’t as tasty or satisfying, but the bread had a nice collection of rustic seeds and nuts baked within it, providing an appealing contrast to the richness of the soup.

With all the food now finished, Marianne leaned back in her chair, eyes shut and breathing heavy, she was indeed a little queasy from her gorging, but that was distant to the long forgotten sensation of a full, warm belly. Eyes still closed, Marianne felt warmth return to her cheeks as well, her body so pleased with her new acquisitions that it forced her to smile genuinely, even though she had no reason or intention to do so ever again.

When Marianne next opened her eyes Lysithea was gone from her seat, but quick observation showed the bath door open, letting in the faint sound of running water. She decided to wait until the bath Lysithea was assuredly prepping for her was finished, pouring herself a cup of tea. The smell of the brew was Bergamot, which wasn’t her preferred, but Marianne probably would’ve drunk thrice used leaves if they were available, this was just another luxury which Marianne hated that she was grateful for.

She was interrupted in her tea gazing reflection by Lysithea’s hand on her shoulder, startling Marianne somewhat. “Sorry, it’s just… you… really need this, please…” The gremory apologized, grabbing the pot of tea from the table and beckoning Marianne to follow her into the bath. Once inside they placed their respective items on a small table next to the tub, and Lysithea politely turned her back to Marianne so she could disrobe and step into the honey scented hot water.

The scorching water badly stung on Marianne’s skin, but it was nothing she wasn’t used to, having taken baths like this regularly both at home and at Garreg Mach. “Just the way you like it, I hope?” Lysithea asked, her pink eyes looking into Marianne’s drooping brown ones from above. Marianne nodded silently, and Lysithea walked around the tub to sit on a stool just behind her back, where she began the work of carefully unravelling Marianne’s badly matted hair. She started by drawing water to her scalp through a sponge, then applying a generous amount of conditioner to every lock of hair upon her scalp, which would only give a small reprieve from what was about to come. Lysithea then began to work out the larger knots as delicately as she could with her fingers, Marianne calmly laying in the tub, sipping her tea, occasionally wincing whenever Lysithea pulled too hard or grabbed the wrong strand, she apologized each time.

Then came the comb, Lysithea began very slowly and gently drawing it through her hair as best she could, but every piece of resistance caught up sent a flash of discomfort through to Marianne. Eventually something called within the blue woman to spare herself the pain and just have Lysithea cut her hair, but she shut that voice up immediately.

Hilda loved her hair, and she loved braiding it, Marianne would never defile something she had loved so dearly.

After about an hour, and copious amount of extra condition and tears, something that could be described as clean, combed hair emerged from Lysithea’s efforts. Marianne dunked her head under the water and saw her wavy locks cascade around her head like the waves of the ocean, which was how Hilda had often described them. It felt good to have that finally taken care of, and Marianne could finally lean back and relax under the warm waters in the tub, with Lysithea continuing to comb a final few bits, then switching to giving Marianne’s scalp a gentle massage.

But after a few more minutes of this, Marianne relaxing in the tub while Lysithea washed and cleaned each part of her upper body, she suddenly stopped, let out a great sigh and leaned back in her seat.

Marianne waited patiently for Lysithea to resume, thinking the younger woman was just taking a short break, but the only motions or sounds that were being made was the drips of the tap and the ticking of the clock. Eventually Marianne felt she had to see what the issue was, but as soon as she tried to turn around Lysithea asked her a question she wholly wasn’t expecting from her.

“Do you despise me, Marianne?”

Despise? That was probably too generous for how Marianne truly felt, she hated her. Lysithea had betrayed her and all their friends, she had fought against them, inflicting untold pain and misery. Leonie had as well, and Marianne felt a similar level of scorn for the Paladin as well, but Lysithea had an additional charge under her belt. The young gremory had Edelgard’s trust, she could have her killed at a moment’s notice, she could’ve killed her with Marianne on the floor pleading for her to do so, she could’ve avenged Hilda and all the Golden Deer.

But she didn’t.

“Yes.” Marianne emphatically answered after a torturous wait, the first word she had spoken to anyone in months.

Another pregnant delay, Marianne hugged her knees close to her chest, the water beginning to lose most of its warmth, and then suddenly she felt her back being scrubbed again. No further words were exchanged, Lysithea finished her wash of Marianne and then helped her out of the now cold tub to dry off, wrapping her body and hair in towels. Once back in the main room Lysithea walked over to the stove across the room and started a warming fire for Marianne, who briskly moved over and took a seat in the armchair opposite it.

Lysithea then placed her hand atop Marianne’s shoulder, and the sitting woman turned her head to lock eyes with the gremory. Marianne could tell she was thinking of something, anything to say, her expression a mixture of pity and guilt, so she waited, having nothing particular to say on her side. Then Lysithea took a sharp breath as if to start a sentence, but nothing came about, instead she abruptly turned and left the room without a single word, dragging the wheeled cart with her through the rooms locks.

Marianne felt a tiny hint of remorse after Lysithea left, thinking maybe she should have tried to say something, or at least thank the girl for doing her best to look after her.

But Marianne quashed that feeling immediately, she wasn’t here to heal, or to be saved, this was an opportunity.

 

And that was all that mattered.

Chapter Text

The next day, Marianne had a new visitor rather early in the morning as she was sipping some more Bergamot tea.

This wasn’t a gentle, caring visit like Lysithea’s had been though, instead came crashing in Leonie, who without warning walked up to Marianne and hoisted her up by the collar of her dress. “You bitch!” She cursed, Marianne’s cup of tea falling to the floor and shattering. “What the fuck did you do her? Yesterday I saw Lysithea crying her life out alone in her room, right after she had seen you!” Leonie accused, getting even angrier at the fact that Marianne didn’t seem to be fighting back at all. Instead she just looked at Leonie with all the scorn she could muster, telling the whole story in a single glance.

Leonie moved one of her hands to squeeze Marianne’s throat. “Why you-”

“Stop. Leonie, put her down.”

Just overtop of Leonie’s shoulders Marianne could see the Emperor, dressed in her finest, minus her crown, coming to her aid once again. She wanted to puke.

After a moment's hesitation Leonie ‘put Marianne down’ by more or less dropping her from high back onto the chair she had been sitting in, the battered prisoner gasping for air as she was released from her chokehold. Leonie quickly stormed out of the room while Edelgard made her way to Marianne’s side and lightly grasped her shoulders, checking her for any injuries. “Are you alright, Marianne?” She questioned, Edelgard could see a slight bruise on Marianne’s neck but was otherwise ok, still she wanted to be careful.

“This ugly incident is my fault, again, I was supposed to come in with her, but I got distracted by business, I should’ve asked Leonie to wait with me, I’m sorry.” The Emperor confessed, and now Marianne really couldn’t help but heave off to the side.

“Let go of me.” Marianne calmly requested between heavy breaths, a puddle of her breakfast now on the ground next to her chair. The Emperor did so and now took a seat opposite of Marianne at her table, watching as she took a serviette from the tea tray and wiped the last bits of sick from her face. They sat trying not to stare at each other for a few moments until Edelgard breathed a, “Do you mind?” and poured herself and Marianne a cup of Bergamot using the two remaining vessels.

“...Lavender, could you get some Lavender blend?” Marianne dryly asked, still taking a sip out of her cup to keep up a good appearance. Edelgard was intrigued, “Is that what you prefer? Not even Byleth knew what you liked, and she knows everyone’s preferred tea.” She asked for clarification, Marianne nodded. Silently she cursed, there had only been one other person who had known that, and now that special connection, like many things, was gone. “I’ll make sure we get some for you…” The Emperor confirmed, taking another sip of her Bergamot, “How are you finding things here?”

“It’s comfortable.” Was all Marianne said, Edelgard was a little disappointed by how little she was opening up, but not surprised.

“Is there anything else you need?”

“...Bit cold at night.”

“I’ll get you a thicker blanket.”

At that point Marianne’s tired, bruised head finally realized who exactly was in her room alone with her. “Why are you here, Edelgard? I tried to kill you, remember?” She sharply asked. The Emperor didn’t immediately respond, just finishing the last drop of her tea and placing the cup down with a clink. “Hmm, yes, you did, but I’m not afraid of you, Marianne, I want to help you.”

What.

Marianne was fuming, how dare she? How dare the architect of all her sorrows pity her like a schoolgirl who got picked on in class? She was trying her best to calm her nerves and remain cordial, all in a purpose to her mission, but Marianne could not steady her hands, and she could feel her cup of tea shaking as she took a sip, spilling a bit of the warm liquid in the process. And Edelgard, she didn’t react at all, she just continued to sit there stoic in silent judgment, no- this had to be answered for, by her hand! Without any warning Marianne leapt to her feet and attempted to fire a lightning bolt at the Emperor, but nothing came out, her hand simply tingled a bit, so either Edelgard was right about the room being magic dampening, or she was simply too weak to access her magic.

Edelgard didn’t flinch at all, in fact during all this she was busy pouring herself a second cup of tea.

Marianne slumped back in her chair, utterly defeated, this was honestly worse then her cold cell in the keep, at least there she didn’t have her prize dangled before her like a cat’s toy. The Emperor then pulled a small bundle of letters from her pocket, not even acknowledging Marianne second attempt to kill her. “You’ve got mail, this is everything that was sent to your old home in Edmund while you were away, plus the parcels that should’ve gone to you in Enbarr keep.” Edelgard slid them on the table over to Marianne before returning to her steaming cup of tea, not noticing how hard Marianne was fighting back the urge to wail, and unleash all of her feelings toward her sworn enemy.

No! The Marianne who shed tears died that day!

When she finally unclenched her eyes after fighting everything back, Edelgard was gone from her seat. Marianne looked to the side and saw the Emperor cleaning up her sickness with a towel, having just finished assembling the shattered remains of her tea cup on a plate. Now she almost wanted to laugh. “The Emperor of all of Fódlan, cleaning up a sick girl’s vomit? I bet King Dimitri would have loved to see this!” Marianne cheered, fully expecting a serious reprisal from Edelgard at the crass statement.

Instead, she laughed along.

“Hmm, I bet he would’ve,” Edelgard agreed, mockingly voicing in her best Dimitri impression, “The Flame Emperor, mopping the floors like a poor servant mistress? That is truly where you belong, Edelgard!” And then they both laughed in unison even harder. But as Edelgard stood up to throw the now thoroughly soiled cloth in the laundry bin, Marianne felt a deep bit borrowing into her stomach. Dimitri was just another innocent man this monster had murdered, and he was something of a friend, having taken the time to try and understand and sympathize with her rather then ‘fix’ her.

Marianne grieved for him just as hard as her fellow classmates, and now they were both using him as the punchline of a joke.

“...I have to go now, Byleth is expecting me.” Edelgard then stated, giving the hem of her crimson dress a quick tug downwards before turning towards the exit.

“Wait, Edelgard,” Marianne interrupted before she fully stepped out, she needed to make sure the Emperor would continue to come here, to this room. “I… I wouldn’t mind speaking to you again....” She whimpered out in a close approximation to her old, meek self’s voice.

“I plan on it, Marianne, and I’ll make sure you get the things you requested.” And the Emperor exited the room, with the sounds of bars and door locking following soon after. As soon as she was gone Marianne took her cup and tea pot to the bath’s sink and flushed both their contents down the drain, from now on she was only drinking the Emperor’s brew if absolutely needed, her mind busy with ways to turn this prison against its creators.

Edelgard and the others were clearly confident that without her magic, Marianne was helpless, especially in her withered state at the moment, but if there was anything she learned from Claude in her time with the Golden Deer, it was how to incapacitate and defeat a physically overpowering opponent like the Emperor. Figuring out the how to could wait until later, she still desperately needed to recover her strength, only being able to stand up on her own legs unassisted for short periods of time at the moment, but the theory was something she was hard at work on.

For one Marianne knew of a few seemingly harmless plants that if procured and treated properly, could produce a debilitating poison that would surely achieve her goals, perhaps she could convince the Emperor to spend some time in a Greenhouse? Or, even just a few potted plants for her balcony would be enough if she could get the correct seeds.

All this thought was tiring her head out though, she needed a break from thinking about the Emperor constantly, she’d just been brought some letters, why not take a look at them?

The first in the pile she recognized anyway, it had to be from her adoptive father since it beared the von Edmund family insignia, Marianne easily broke the wax seal and unfurled the parchment inside to read.

My Dearest Daughter,

I have heard unthinkable news, that you made an attempt on the Glorious Emperor’s life? Why would-

Marianne stopped then and tore the paper to shreds, it would make a nice addition to her fire later, he never tried to understand what she really wanted, who she really wanted to love, so why should she make any attempt to explain herself to him?

The next letter was a bit odd as it contained no identifying marks anywhere on it, not even in the seal, so it must have been hand delivered by courier rather then any postal service.

Dear Marianne,

It’s me, Claude, I know, you probably think just like everyone else that I perished at Derdriu, well in actuality Teach and Emperor decided to spare my life, they must think I’m some long lost Almyran prince or something- too risky to kill in battle during a war.

Marianne was aghast, so for Claude the Professor and Edelgard decide to show mercy, but not her beloved Hilda or any of the other Golden Deer? She was absolutely furious, but steeled herself to read on.

Honestly I’d love nothing more then to tell you the crazy adventures I’ve been up to since then… but really I just want to let you know how sorry I am.

The paper started to crumple in her hand, Claude was their leader, he was supposed to protect them all! If he wanted to be sorry, to truly apologize, then he should’ve traded his life for Hilda’s that day!

I know there is nothing I can say or do that can possibly make up for how much I screwed things up, you and Hilda, you were the absolute sweetest together, and officiating your wedding definitely counts as the proudest moment in my life. I fought hard with her that day, I tried to stop her from taking to the field- she was in no condition to seriously fight, but Hilda wouldn’t budge, I should’ve tried harder.

Yes, Claude, you should’ve, how can you claim to be a leader if you can’t even command your troops? Every word of this letter was just filling Marianne with more regret and rage, but there was a bit more left on the paper.

Anyway, I can’t leave any incriminating evidence in this letter, you never know what rogue agents of the Empire may be looking for a chance to off me, so if you want to write back, just ask for the letter to be brought to, “the fireman” at Snelly’s Tavern in Derdriu, they’ll handle the rest.

And again, my deepest condolences, if I could trade my life for hers, I would.

~Claude

Marianne strongly considered ripping this letter to pieces in turn, she was just too heartbroken and frustrated to think about it. But she eventually relented, folding the paper back up and putting it in its sheath, she though that later it might be good to write to Claude, and blow off some steam by giving him a piece of her mind. The third letter bore a seal she didn’t immediately recognize, but eventually she realized that the wax was emboldened by the Crest of Blaiddyd, was this letter from Dimitri?

To Marriane von Edmund,

At the urging of His Royal Majesty, King Dimitri Alexandre Blaiddyd, I’m writing to you at your home in Edmund territories to request your aid against the Empire. We recognize that your family is supportive of Emperor Edelgard, which is why you thus far have not joined the Alliance forces in their skirmishes with Imperial troops, but King Dimitri feels this is a sentiment you do not share with your father, and that perhaps if he wrote to you directly, may enlist your aid.

I share my liege’s sentiment at the grim future that beholds the Alliance, we do not think Duke Claude is capable of winning the upcoming battle at Derdriu, and we are unable to provide direct aid due to the enemy controlling Garreg Mach as a stronghold. I know it is bad form to ask someone to abandon their country, but we both feel that if we, the Kingdom and the Church work together, we can slay Edelgard and bring peace to Fódlan.

I hope you will consider our offer.

~Field Marshall Dedue Molinaro

Marianne thought it a pointless offer, everyone lost the war the moment Professor Byleth reappeared on the battlefield, having her present at the Tailtean plains, or Fhirdiad would’ve just delayed the inevitable. No, she was more useful in her plan to assassinate the Emperor, Dimitri should never have engaged her in open battle.

Her heart skipped a beat when she saw the immediately recognizable Goneril seal on the last of the four letters, was it from Holst? Or was her beloved communicating with her from beyond the grave somehow? Fingers trembling, she cursed as she accidentally tore the envelope slightly while trying to break the seal, but eventually it was open, and Marianne began to read the contents inside.

Hey Sweetie! I-

Marianne slammed the letter shut, she couldn’t read this right now, or ever, she was sure it would destroy her. She carried the folded parchment and the ruins of her first letter to the stove, Marianne gave considerable thought to burning the letter from Hilda as well, to remove any temptation of reading it and thus breaking down.

But she wouldn’t defile her love like that.

Instead she only added the scraps of her adoptive father to the pit, then moving in with enough kindling and chopped logs to ensure a cosy fire. Marianne then sat in her armchair and cradled her final letter in her arms, she suddenly felt very exhausted, all the emotions of the past hour having sapped her energy, and she fell asleep in front of a comforting blaze.

Some time later, Marianne was awoken again by the screech of her cell’s bars being opened and shut behind the visitor. She didn’t want to get up to check whoever it was, she had fallen asleep so Marianne just assumed it was her lunch, but the footsteps of this person were a bit lighter then her regular steward’s. Then she was surprised by some draping a blanket around her, whoever was there probably didn’t realize Marianne was awake, as they were tucking in the quilt to her sides and making sure it wouldn’t slide off. Then Marianne turned her head to look at her visitor, shocking them greatly.

“M-Marianne! I thought you were asleep!” Lysithea shrieked, looking as though she had seen a ghost.

Marianne didn’t say anything, just giving the young gremory the same dead stare she had the previous day, Lysithea quickly calmed herself from excitement by instead turning to despair, her small hands clenched together as she slowly brought herself toward Marianne.

“Um… big sister… said you needed an extra blanket… so I… I brought you one.” Lysithea explained, now distressingly close to Marianne in her seat, fight or flight instinct beginning to take effect in the blue haired woman. “I’ll… I’ll go now, but I just wanted to make sure you were ok.” Lysithea stated, but all Marianne could register was how close she was, it was really stressing her out. “I know how you feel about me… but I just figured… if you knew you still had someone who truly cared about you… that would help.”

And then Lysithea put a warm hand on Marianne’s cheek, and she kissed her on the lips. All the lights went out in Marianne’s head.

The next time she registered anything was when the steward snapped his fingers in front of her face, “Hey, your food is here, wake up.”

What the hell had just happened.

Chapter Text

The next day Marianne discovered that Lysithea had gone back home to Ordelia, back to her parents, Marianne wasn’t sure if she would miss her or not.

Weeks began to fly by and Marianne slowly regained her vitality, no longer the pale husk of a woman looking as though she would fall to a stiff breeze, she was regaining colour and weight, and was no longer aching under her own existence. Marianne had also started growing a small assortment of flowers on her balcony to break the first waters of her plan, just simple cultivation of lilies, lavender and carnations, apparently the latter was Edelgard’s favourite flower, she was on the right track.

The Emperor was in fact her most consistent visitor, showing up at least once a week to have tea, and sometimes share a meal. Trying to avoid the ever present scorn and disgust when talking with her always proved a challenge, so Marianne typically remained a passive partner in their conversations. She simply sat back, sipping her tea and letting Edelgard ramble on and on about her work, just nodding and answering the occasional short question to keep appearances straight. “I appreciate our chats, Marianne, I feel like I don’t have to walk on eggshells with you, I can be as blunt as I want and you’ll give me your honest opinion.” The Emperor had professed to her at the end of one such tea visit, Marianne had awkwardly smiled and thanked her.

Above everything else she was going through though, was restlessness, while alone she would often pace her room, unable to contain her thoughts. Marianne yearned to go outside for a horseback ride, to feel the wind blow through her hair again, she couldn’t help but think about Dorte, and she hoped that wherever he was he was having fun and making new friends. “Absolutely not,” had been the response from Hubert, “why not hand you the key to your cell as well?” He mockingly added. Edelgard was a little more sympathetic when she had next visited her, “I’m sure we can figure something out… but you know how protective Hubert is.”

The Emperor took an ample sip of her tea, and then proposed an alternative for the time being. “Tomorrow, would you like to join Byleth and I in the garden?” Marianne readily agreed, as she was curious as to why they’d both want her in such a private place with them.

Leaving her specially crafted room required a rather cumbersome set of short chained manacles to be attached to her wrists, again incorporating magic dampening features. Hubert then led her by the arm out of the room where the Emperor and former Professor were waiting, along with a couple of other guards. There after a momentary pause the two women led the way, followed by Marianne and Hubert in the middle, and the two guardsmen taking up the rear. Edelgard and Byleth were chatting about something and laughing intermittently, Marianne wasn’t really paying attention to it, she was more intrigued by the Professor’s appearance, had she died her hair back to its original colour? Or did something else happen?

And then, slowly, she saw their hands start to drift together in their walk, until finally they were held tightly together, and Marianne finally noticed the glittering silver ring adorning the Emperor’s left hand. Marianne couldn’t help but smile a bit, pretty much everyone at Garreg Mach had noticed how close the enigmatic Professor Byleth was with her favourite student, but to blossom to this? It explained quite a lot, why Byleth would turn against Rhea and the Church, and why she would follow Edelgard through her bloody conquest across Fódlan.

Marianne couldn’t, she wouldn’t fault the Professor for that, love isn’t something you control, and its power can compel even the strongest to deplorable acts, it was something she herself was very familiar with. If what was implied before her was true, then Marianne felt sorry for Byleth, sorry for what she was going to have to do to her love.

“And what are you smiling about?” Hubert suddenly cackled at her, Marianne wincing as he harshly tugged on the chains binding her before shoving Marianne face first into the wall. They all suddenly stopped moving as Edelgard and Byleth spun around to look at the new commotion, “Hubert? Stop that!” The Emperor commanded her Minister. The two started arguing back and forth while Byleth came over and put a protective arm around her back, telling her she’d be ok. Seeing an opening to take advantage of the situation, Marianne let herself fall into the Professor and begin crying, her strong arms now wrapped around and holding her tight.

“Hubert! You are dismissed!” Edelgard was furious.

“But Lady Ed-”

Now!” She interrupted.

Hubert clearly thought about protesting further, but eventually he relented, clenching his teeth and storming off in a huff. Meanwhile Marianne was still convincingly sobbing in Byleth’s embrace, so the Emperor directed her two guards to depart as well, adding her own arms to comforting Marianne from the other side as soon as the two soldiers were far enough away. “I’m sorry, Marianne, I didn’t bring you here to hurt you.” Edelgard apologized, and Marianne knew to let up her tears somewhat, the Emperor gently stroking her hair as she calmed down.

“...Good girl.”

Hook. Line. And sinker. Marianne knew completely that Edelgard thought she was harmless now.

She couldn’t help but smile while her face was buried between the two women, thinking about how much silent congratulations Hilda would be giving her if she’d been able to witness how well she had suckered Edelgard into doing exactly what she wanted. Soon they all let go of each other, with Edelgard and Byleth each taking one of Marianne’s arms, walking wordlessly side by side down to the palace garden.

As she arrived, Marianne was a bit taken back over how beautiful the scenery was there. Baskets of flowers and ivy hung from marble columns in a large oval, while in the middle lay a small arching bridge over an interior pond, fountains jutting from columns next to it feeding the water level. And surrounding the edges of the pond up to the opening and closing of the bridge was a ring of rich looking soil mostly bare, aside from a few errant weeds. Lastly, from above lay expertly angled crystal glass, letting light rainbow in and produce dazzling rays of sunshine from no matter which angle you looked.

Marianne slowly strode in and around the enclosure, taking in all the plants smells and hearing the soft flow of the fountain, it was so peaceful, so soothing here. She turned back to Edelgard and Byleth, who were silent, watching her from the side. “Why did you bring me here?” Marianne asked.

“Well, the thing is… El and I…in a couple months...” Byleth started.

“You’re getting married, right?” Marianne finished, the two lovers blushed immediately at the accusation. “H-how did you know?!” Edelgard panicked, to which Byleth simply raised grabbed and raised her hand, “You’re still wearing the ring, love.”

Marianne then realized she hadn’t failed to notice the ring on the Emperor’s hand before this, she wasn’t even wearing it while she was seeing her, Marianne theorized the two were probably keeping their relationship somewhat of a secret at the moment, what with one of them being a commoner and the other, well, being the Emperor of Fódlan.

“...Anyway, yes, it’s going to be a small, private affair, here, before we go public, when the Ministers will inevitably start fighting and bickering for months over the legality before I have to step in, reign them in line, and then they force us to book an entire week off for some pointless celebration.” Edelgard confessed.

“I don’t think I'll be pointless, El… I love spending time with you.” Byleth retorted, arms crossed in defiance.

“Yes, well, I just don’t feel comfortable taking that much time off my work… is all.”

“You can afford a few days to indulge, my heart, I think we’ve both more then earned it.”

“...Hmm… I suppose you are right once again, my teacher...”

Goddess, these two really are hopelessly in love, like we…

Marianne shut that thought out of her head before it spiraled out of control and consumed her mind and body.

“What does any of this have to do with me?” Marianne interjected, trying not to let the anger and despair show in her voice, the couple paused to look at each other before turning to her. “Well, El said you were interested in doing some gardening, so I thought maybe you could help us in preparing the garden, we still need to finish preparing the display.” Byleth revealed, with Edelgard soon after adding, “We already have most of the flowers grown, we just need someone skilled to help us transplant them from the greenhouse to here.”

This was even better than Marianne had hoped, access to the Greenhouse, no matter how well supervised, would surely allow her to gather samples of whatever potentially dangerous and hostile flora they had present for her own use. And besides, there was always the skill she had just demonstrated to get her captors to loosen the guard.

“...Of course I can help, Professor, Edelgard.” Marianne confirmed, and then she thought, why not press her luck a little? See how much her acting had granted her.

“...May I also attend the ceremony?” Marianne sheepishly asked, this was risky, and it could potentially blow up in her face, but taking risks was what you had to do when you were scheming. Byleth began to take a breath in order to give her opinion but was cut off by a very approving Emperor.

“Yes, absolutely, I want you to be there!”

Byleth didn’t end up saying anything.

Soon after Marianne was escorted back to her room by the couple, only this time they held each other’s hand and let Marianne walk freely ahead of them as they talked about their plans for the rest of the day. The Emperor left once they reached her cozy abode, but Byleth stayed with her, “Do you want to share some tea? I made sure to pick up the blend you wanted.” She asked, Marianne wholeheartedly agreed, just more opportunities to sucker in the eventual royal couple.

Marianne accepted the small pouch of tea Byleth offered her and the two walked inside, the Professor sitting at her table while Marianne prepared the brew. “...You have unopened mail here, you realize?” She very quickly asked, obviously seeing the resealed, Goneril stamped letter that had laid undisturbed on her table since she halted reading it. Marianne froze a bit, slowly turning around, and she saw Byleth reading the parchment within, the envelope sitting open in front of her.

“AHH!!! Professor that’s very private!” Marianne screamed, nearly knocking over the tea kettle as she ran over and snatched the paper from Byleth’s hands. “Oh… I’m sorry…” Byleth apologized, looking incredibly flustered, Marianne took a set and neatly folded the paper back up. “This letter was from… is from…” Oh, oops, she said too much.

Byleth immediately capitalized on Marianne’s mistake, “The letter wasn’t open, how do you know who it’s from?”

They both sat across each other in silence, neither making a move until the kettle began to bubble over and squeal, and still Marianne was frozen in place. Byleth eventually got up and began the process of pouring out the tea into the pot, small basket of the dried lavender bulbs she had procured inside. Byleth brought the tea pot to their table for it to steep, then picked up her chair and moved it so she could sit next to Marianne, placing a hand on her shoulder for comfort.

“You couldn’t read it... because it was from H-”

“Don’t say her name!” Marianne abruptly interrupted. Byleth paid the assertiveness no mind, and just continued to sit by the blue woman’s side, gently rubbing her back and shoulders.

“El is… feels… incredibly guilty over everything… as do I… just thought you should know.” Byleth choked out in explanation.

Marianne couldn’t help but clench her fists, she hated being pitied, it was insulting, her grief was hers alone, no one else could possibly understand what her pain was like. “I’m sure she does…” Marianne spat back, not holding back any of her true feelings this time. Byleth, sensing the new hostility, took her hand off Marianne and instead rested rested it on her chin. “I’m sorry, we’re not making things easy for you, are we.”

After a couple more minutes of awkward silence Byleth took the basket out of the pot and began divvying up the lavender scented tea between them, Marianne perked up at the smell, it was always so soothing, just like her love had been.

“...I think you should read it,” Byleth advised, sitting back down beside Marianne. “The longer you put it off… the more it’s going to hurt.”

Marianne hesitated, the parchment shaking in her hands, she wanted to read it, she would give anything to feel Hilda’s warmth one more time, even if it destroyed her afterwards, but the Professor was right there.

As if on queue Byleth raised a hand to her mouth and doubled over clutching her stomach. “I-I have to use your bathroom, sorry!” She panicked, getting up and running out of the room, leaving Marianne temporarily alone again.

No time like the present.

She unfurled the parchment and began to take in Hilda’s curly, looping, adorable writing once again.

Hey Sweetie! I’m sorry it’s taken a while to write back to you… and to see you… and to hold you in my arms once again. 🧡

Things have been really tense here in Derdriu! The Imperial Army seized Myrddin bridge last month, so now they have a clear path to our doorstep here, scary stuff! But… I’m not afraid, we’ve got Claude here, and he’s cooking up a scheme so big it’ll leave the Emperor speechless!

Shame about the Professor though, I wish we didn’t have to fight her.

If anything’s got me down it’s my damn tummy! 😣 Always so sick and complaining lately, Claude keeps telling me to take it easy, he doesn’t want me to fight while I’m sick, but he’s put his trust in us, so I’m putting my faith in him, I have to stand by his side!

Anyway, I’ll make sure to come see you once all this blows over, my bed’s been soooo cold without you to snuggle in it, I wanna give you the biggest 💋 and see you giggle like you always do.

I hope you haven’t been missing me too much!

~Your Eternal Love, Hilda 🧡

The first indication to Marianne that she had started crying were the mysterious water stains appearing on the parchment, she quickly blew the page dry and placed it carefully on the table, feeling every bone in her body shaking violently. There was nothing but despair filling up her being, so much that she didn’t even register Byleth re-entering the room, shaking her shoulders, calling out to her, trying to make sure she was okay. Instead Marianne sunk her face into her hands and felt her tears drip out around and in between her fingers.

This is really it.

She’s really gone, this is all that’s left, and...

Marianne got up and ran to her dresser, Edelgard told her they had retrieved the possessions she had with her before ending up in Enbarr keep, so it should be in there, somewhere. She frantically pulled garments and loose items out of the way, scrambling to find the last real evidence of Hilda’s being in this world to hold. Eventually, near the back of one drawer, she felt a familiar softness, and carefully pulled it out.

In her hand rested a soft, braided cord of Hilda’s vibrant pink Hair, beaded at the ends to prevent unfurling, and topped with a looser tuft of hair to better simulate its feeling whenever Hilda wasn’t around for Marianne personally. They had exchanged such gifts as wedding vows in place of rings, with Hilda possessing herself a cord of Marianne’s hair, likely now buried with her.

It was Marianne’s idea, both to rub her wonderful marriage in the disapproving Lord Edmund’s face without him realizing, and because, “Rings don’t fill your heart or provide comfort by themselves… but with this we’d each have a piece of the other to protect us no matter where we ended up.”

Except hers had failed Hilda.

Marianne fell to her rear, back resting against the dressed and clutched the charm to her cheek, still crying her heart out, desperate to feel Hilda’s warmth again.

But it never came.

“...You weren’t really crying back then, were you.” Byleth suddenly accused.

Marianne froze in fear, looking her still wet eyes up and trying not to let them fill with dread as she looked at the Professor. “I know… what real tears are like, and that was certainly not genuine.”

Byleth crossed her arms and looked inquisitively at her, “Especially after I’ve seen the real thing.”

They both continued to stare at each other, Marianne on the floor, Byleth leaned against the wall. After a solid minute and without another word, she turned and left Marianne to her devices, door and bars shuttering behind her, but the intentions were clear, the former Professor had her suspicions.

Perhaps this was going to be more difficult than she realized.

Chapter Text

A page walked down the dimly lit halls carrying a small bundle of letters to the small office where Hubert, spymaster of the Empire, and the Minister of the Imperial Household worked. He tersely knocked on the wrought iron door and a small slit near the top opened up almost immediately, the dark mage’s sharp lime eyes peering through at the visitor. “Um, the outgoing parcels from Prisoner No. 627, as you requested milord.” He nervously offered, almost no one enjoyed having to report to such a dangerous individual.

“You can give it here.” Hubert instructed, closing the top slit and pushing forward a chute on the bottom, his work was very secretive, and he didn’t allow anyone inside his office unless it was absolutely necessary. Once the parcels were dropped in Hubert retrieved them, immediately going to his desk where he was ready to discreetly open and see just what was going through Marianne’s mind. He knew the Emperor was against spying on the prisoner’s mail, but she didn’t need to know about it, Hubert decided, he could tell the blue haired girl was up to no good, and there might be a clue in one of these envelopes.

To Margrave Edmund,

This is but a formality, as I am legally no longer your heir, but it has been a long time coming.

I hereby renounce you, and disown you from my family.

Sincerely, Marianne Goneril

Hubert disregarded this letter without a second thought, he cared not for the family matters of Marianne, just her intentions, and this carried none.

Still, he couldn’t help but smirk, Hubert actually somewhat respected Marianne for going against her father in pursuit of her own goals, it was similar to his own experiences in dealing with unsupportive parents.

Dear Claude

I finally got to reading your letter some weeks ago, it’s taken me awhile to fully articulate my feelings towards it, but I believe you are owed at least response.

Hubert’s brow furrowed, for he thought the Duke was dead, at least, that was what Edelgard and Byleth had told him. Did they actually spare him? Or did Claude manage to fake his death convincingly enough? Hubert knew his first action after this would be to question Her Majesty.

I’ve lost my heart with Hilda’s death, I have the whole of the Golden Deer to thank for inspiring me, giving me confidence, confronting the truth about my crest, but only Hilda loved me, got me to love myself, and I am lost without her.

All that keeps me going in life is her memory, I know were she here Hilda would probably tell me to move on, find something or someone new for me in life.

But I can’t, I’ve lost everything, and all I really desire is to join her.

Hmm, so Hilda and Marianne really were in love with each other? In their investigation into the latter they didn’t find anything to suggest otherwise, so Hubert surmised from this and the previous letter they must have been together in secret. And that last line, while he wouldn’t feel bad to wake up to news that Marianne had offed herself, it did make him think about his own situation, were something to happen to Lady Edelgard.

But only for a moment, for he would never allow that to happen.

You weren’t responsible for her death, Claude, but you were responsible for her, you could’ve done more, you should’ve done more.

Yes, what a foolish strategy from Claude, hinging everything on an all-or-nothing gambit with the Almyran Navy, which had immediately fled the battle the moment their general was challenged. Did the Duke really think he could make such bitter enemies work together? They had tried another incursion past Fodlan’s Locket just a few scant weeks later, so obviously there was nothing long term planned between them and the Alliance.

I know you are sorry, but I don’t accept your apology.

~Marianne

Hmph, and Hubert would never accept Marianne’s attempt at acting docile, someone who had so callously betrayed their friend’s trust to try and assassinate the Emperor could not be trusted. And he didn’t care what Edelgard’s feelings were, it was a mistake to remove Marianne from her previously fitting location. But he would leave her be, Hubert may not agree with the Emperor’s decision, but when Edelgard made up her mind he would not dare go against it.

Hubert was a bit surprised to find that the next letter was addressed to Lord Holst, interesting...

Dear Holst.

This is Marianne. I’m not sure why I’m writing to you except that I feel as though I should. We may not have spoken much, but you still supported my marriage to Hilda when neither of our fathers would, I owe you for that, and I want to thank you again.

As you’ve probably heard, I’m currently being kept in detention indefinitely in Enbarr, per the Emperor’s wishes. She believes I can be rehabilitated, but I won’t, I don’t want to be saved be her, it was Hilda who saved me, gave me purpose in life, but now she’s gone.

I miss her so much, I miss my heart, I’m sorry I know you must grieve too as she was your family, I’m just so lost.

I don’t begrudge you for choosing to cooperate with the Empire, as I know your family’s duties run beyond that of just the Alliance, just know I’m going to find a way to properly honour her, Holst, I can’t give up until I do.

~Marianne

Well, this was certainly more in line with what he was hoping to find, clear evidence of Marianne conspiring on Edelgard’s life again. But nothing in here was concrete, and Hubert doubted raising this letter’s contents to the Emperor would result in anything other then another tongue scolding for meddling with her pet prisoner.

There was just one more letter, would this have the incriminating evidence Hubert seeked?

Lysithea

Tell me what the kiss meant, you ran away right after, I want to know why!

Just, write back to me, I need to know.

~Marianne

Hubert grinned, if there was anyone that Edelgard cared for as deeply as she did with Professor Byleth, it was Lysithea. Maybe this was actually the ticket he needed to remove Marianne from the palace, he would have to investigate this thread further…

“...It’s… different… soothing, yes, but I think if I want that I’ll just stick with Chamomile.” Edelgard claimed, resting the lavender tea cup back on its saucer. “Hmph, well I think it’s rather lovely, El.” Byleth retorted, clearly enjoying the pale, purple brew. Edelgard looked at Byleth with a cocked eyebrow, claiming. “By… you like every tea.” To which the former Professor chuckled a bit. “Is there any you dislike? Any you’d call your favourite?” Edelgard asked her fiance, who shook her head, brazenly claiming, “I think all tea is lovely, no matter what the brew, El.” And they both laughed.

Marianne for her part sat quietly in her seat while the royal couple drabbled on, silently fuming at her misfortune. Ever since the Professor had caught her crying while reading Hilda’s letter she had accompanied the Emperor whenever she was with her no matter how trivial the matter. She would also personally accompany Marianne whenever she left her cell to the garden, clearly intent on keeping her eyes on the blue-haired girl, and unlike Hubert she couldn’t very well rely on her doing something that would make the Emperor send her away in anger.

And thus Edelgard and Byleth’s private wedding had come and gone with Marianne clearly in attendance, chained up, but smiling and clapping for the happy couple.

But that was the worst, seeing Edelgard constantly happy with her wife, almost as if the two were intentionally shoving it in their face, it was infuriating. Marianne needed to be alone with Edelgard if she was to enact any sort of plan, she wanted to be alone with her! In her stewing Marianne wished that Lysithea would come and visit her instead of the couple, hell she would take another violent, threatening visit from Leonie over this blatant romantic display.

The only thing Marianne seemed to be interested in during these visits was the Professor’s condition. Byleth seemed somewhat ill, and would occasionally rapidly excuse herself to the bathroom, sometimes with Edelgard accompanying, and the faint sounds of heaving and groaning coming through. “Are you seeing a doctor, Professor?” Marianne asked after one such experience, “You seem rather unwell.” Edelgard immediately agreed, “Yes, By, Marianne is right, you need to see someone about this!”

“I’m fine, it’s just a stomach bug.” Byleth insisted, with Marianne thinking she was either being brazenly stubborn about her health, or she simply didn’t want any physician’s orders to keep her from guarding the Emperor.

Marianne saw the two stare at each other for awhile before anyone spoke up again, Edelgard’s eyes full of worry, while Byleth looked as stoic as ever. Marianne thought maybe she could force Byleth’s hand by playing them against each other, and thusly suggested. “Professor, one visit to the doctor isn’t going to hurt you, look how upset you’re making your wife.”

Byleth peeked back at Edelgard’s still worrisome face and immediately broke into guilt, with Marianne hiding the resulting smile with her hands, happy that she could still manipulate things into her favour. “Fine, I’ll go tomorrow morning, but I’m sure it’s nothing important.” Byleth finally relented, with Edelgard extending her ring adorned hand to squeeze her lover’s, thanking her and Marianne. “I’m sorry, I just don’t want to lose you again, I can’t go through that again.” Edelgard confessed, looking very close to tears, and obviously holding back for appearance's sake.

No need to let the mood get too dour though, Marianne thought. She should be a good host, and keep a lively conversation.

“Um… did you get a chance to mail off the letters I gave you last time you were here?” That had been around two weeks ago, so Marianne was hoping that maybe she had a reply to read, something to keep her occupied. As expected, the Emperor nodded and predictably revealed that there were some new parcels for her, including some form of small book. “It was originally wrapped, but we had to check to make sure it wasn’t anything dangerous, I hope you don’t mind.” Edelgard informed upon handing the bundle over.

Marianne didn’t really care that the Emperor had gone through her mail, she was too interested in going through this curious book that had been sent to her, just not in front of Edelgard or especially Byleth. “Also, with regards to your other request, we’ve talked to Freya, and she’s agreed to let you work in the stables with her while she’s around, if you so desire.” Edelgard then added.

The bluette glanced at Byleth, expecting her to protest, but she was quietly sipping her tea and seemed somewhat disinterested, which only intrigued her further. “Are you going to accompany me like you do in the garden, Professor?” She inquired, she wanted to know why Byleth was suddenly ok with something like this.

“Hmm, no, I don’t think I will.” Byleth flatly answered.

Marianne was a bit confused at Byleth’s response, but she could just be playing the long game, saying she wouldn’t be there only to suddenly show up, or even spy on her, she wouldn’t put it past the Professor to do so. Still, she thought it would be nice to look after the horses, it would give her more things to do in her downtime besides reading, sleeping and tending to her flowers.

And… there was always the possibility...

“...What about Dorte? Is he still at Garreg Mach? Could I see him?” Marianne excitedly asked, thinking there was a good chance her old friend might already be in Enbarr if Freya was here, her steed Juno having been very good friends with Dorte.

Except, Byleth and Edelgard went noticeable pale. No one spoke a word for at least a minute, the only noises in the room being the gentle crackle of a fire in the stove, eventually Marianne cracked.

“Just, tell me what happened.”

Edelgard took a ginger sip of the lavender tea and then stood up, walking a few steps away before turning her back. “When we found Dorte within the stables we had every intention of letting him live there peacefully, but then…” Edelgard paused for a moment, and took another sip of her tea, Marianne could just barely see her hand twitching. Byleth ended up continuing the explanation, “Dorte started freaking out when you were being taken out of the Monastery, he broke out the paddock, kicking Freya really hard in the chest, and he tried to go after you.”

Marianne swallowed the growing lump in her throat, she could already tell how this was going to end, but to hear it…

“Some soldiers tried to rein him in, but during the scuffle two of Dorte’s legs were broken.” Byleth continued after a pause.

Edelgard concluded, “We tried to help, but Dorte’s never healed correctly, and it was clear that he was constantly in pain, so we made the decision to put him down.”

Another silence permeated the room, until the sound of a cup cracking and shattering broke it. Marianne never noticed, but she had broken her tea cup in a death grip, the hot liquid scorching bits of her fingers, with shards of the porcelain striking bloody stabs in their wake. Byleth saw Marianne’s hand bleeding under the cuts and got up intending to help, but then she simply spoke.

“Get out.”

Byleth and Edelgard stopped briefly to look at each other before deciding it would be best to honour Marianne’s wishes, calming getting up and exiting her room in an orderly fashion.

The next few hours passed by in a haze, the only interruption being when Marianne was brought dinner, vegetable stir fry. She just kept in her seat, feeling heartbroken once again, except this time no tears came, figuring they had all been used up for Hilda. But she wanted to cry, Dorte was her oldest friend, and now he was gone too.

Eventually she just got up and crawled into bed, wondering if any of this was even worth it anymore.

The next night, Edelgard sat alone at her dinner table, slowly poking at a baked pike she was meant to enjoy with Byleth, but she had been held up day with her medical appointment. But more troubling was the visit she received in her office by a grinning Hubert and an irate looking Leonie just before departing to eat. They had made some rather troubling accusations about Marianne, that she had hurt, and later sexually assaulted her dear sister Lysithea?

Edelgard wanted to ask her about the reported incidents, but shortly after the wedding Lysithea returned home again, so now Edelgard had to decide just based off the testimony of Leonie, and that very strange letter Hubert had shown her.

And then her beloved wife finally burst in, immediately digging into her plate of food.

“They gave me… nothing to eat… the entire… bloody time!”

Edelgard smiled, she could worry about this new problem later.

Chapter Text

“Marianne, please, you have to eat something.” Edelgard pleaded next to Marianne’s bed, staring at the back of the once again sickly looking blue-haired girl. The Emperor had been visiting every day for the past week trying to break Marianne out of her self imposed hunger, but she wouldn’t budge, just turning away from Edelgard at every opportunity and waiting for her to leave, clutching Hilda’s knot of hair by her heart. Even Hubert came in one day to try and break Marianne out of her mood, albeit in a somewhat unique way.

“I can tell you’ve given up, you had a good show, but it’s over now.” The spymaster taunted as Marianne lay motionless in bed. “If you’d like, I’ll bring you some of the lilies of the valley you were growing in the greenhouse, there’s no need for you to suffer needlessly anymore.”

She didn’t say anything, and so Hubert slowly paced around the increasingly messy room, eventually coming to a stop when he noticed Marianne’s unopened parcels on the table. “You should read this,” Hubert taunted, holding up the small book, and walking over to Marianne’s bedside. “I guarantee you’ll feel… better.” After which Hubert placed it onto the night table with a pat, and exited the room, locking the doors behind him.

Marianne sighed, reaching out her hand to the small tome and bringing it over. She opened it up to a random page, wondering what it could possibly be.

-and I haven’t even heard from her in months! Forget it, I’m going up to see Mari tomorrow, and there’s nothing anyone-

She stopped, frozen in terror.

It was Hilda’s writing, she was writing about the time she came to see Marianne after the war had started. Marianne didn’t even know that her love had kept a journal, she had never talked about it, and she had never seen her writing anything like it.

Marianne held the book close to her heart, and buried herself back into bed, eyes fluttering, breathing choked until she fell back asleep, dreaming back to that day.

23rd of Red Wolf Moon, 1181

Marianne was sitting solemnly at a dinner table with the elderly Lord Edmund across from her. She had barely touched her vegetable medley, poking randomly with a fork while her adoptive father was reading a book. Marianne had been kept cooped up in her house for months, no one letting her leave, or letting anyone else come visit her. The official reason given was ‘sickness,’ but any shrewd mind could tell that as a staunch member of the pro-Empire faction within the Alliance, Lord Edmund was just keeping her away from anyone who might sway the Edmund heir to their side.

Marianne missed all her friends from the Golden Deer so much, even tho two who had left to join the Empire’s forces, but what made today especially hard was being her birthday, spent completely alone, aside from the adoptive father she hated. Lord Edmund didn’t even try to say anything to her the entire day, he would just sit nearby constantly, a waking reminder of who held all the keys to Marianne’s life, and wasn’t giving any of them up. She had resisted plenty in the past, including one night climbing out her bedroom window with a sheet rope, which had resulted in iron bars being added to the opening, and another where she had tried to sneak out inside a mound of hay driven by horse cart, whereupon Marianne was forbidden from visiting the stables.

Now she just sat, and tried not to think about how much time was flying past, spending each morning combing, braiding her hair, getting dressed, putting on makeup as though she might be going out, and then spending the entire day doing nothing but reading Lord Edmund’s selected materials on politics, governance and diplomacy.

But then today ended up being different after all.

“Milord, there is a visitor here who just arrived on wyvern, claims to be Lady Hilda of House Goneril.” A servant came in and announced, with Marianne immediately perking up. Lord Edmund sighed, “I thought I informed you all, no visitors.”

“Well… I was just concerned over sending a bad message to Lord Goneril, refusing to house his sister for even the night after the trip here.”

Marianne shot out of her seat, “Lord Father… please, let me see her, Hilda’s certainly here because it’s my birthday.” Margrave Edmund deliberated internally for a few seconds before handing down a verdict, “No,” and then instructing the servant to return Marianne to her room.

“No! I won’t let you, I have to see her!” Marianne began to run to the double doors of the dining hall, but Lord Edmund simply snapped his fingers and a pair of armed guards came from around the corner to physically restrain her. But Marianne fought back, screaming, until with a burst of light she overpowered and knocked down the two men, breaking off into a sprint down the halls, Lord Edmund screaming for someone to stop her. Marianne run towards the entrance hall as fast as she could, dodging the occasional manor staff member and throwing back anyone who tried to stop her.

And then she saw it, the unmistakable glow of Hilda’s vibrant pink hair, her back was turned as she was speaking to someone, and Marianne tried to call out to her, “H-!”

But someone snuck up behind her and pressed a smelly rag into her face, muffling her calls and knocking her out within seconds.

When Marianne awoke it was the middle of the night in her room, she felt dizzy, and her head was pounding, more interesting was the strange rapping sound coming from her window. Marianne slipped out of bed and stumbled a bit to the wall, opening the curtains and then immediately covering her mouth in shock. Outside her room was Hilda, hovering on a great wyvern and tapping her window with a tree branch. She waved upon seeing Marianne, who opened up the glass in disbelief.

“Hilda… is that really you? I’m not dreaming?”

“Of course it’s me, Mari,” Hilda answered, before hanging something off the end of her tree branch and passing it through the bars of the window. “Happy Birthday.”

Marianne took the gift off the end, it was a beautifully decorated bracelet, obviously one of Hilda’s own creations, and she wasted no time clasping it around her wrist. But when Marianne looked back up to the window, Hilda and her wyvern were gone. She peered out as best she could through the barred window but they were nowhere in sight. Marianne began to despair, was she really just dreaming? The bracelet was still felt on her wrist, so Marianne sat back down on her bed, trying not to cry. She wanted to hold Hilda so badly, to kiss her, and profess her love again. But after a few minutes, Marianne was startled by a light knock on her door.

“Psst, Mari! It’s me, don’t freak out, I’m coming in to see you!” Hilda whispered through the crack in the frame, with Marianne holding her ear close in order to hear better. “Um, the guards lock the door from the outside at night, Hilda, so you’ll need the key.”

Hilda laughed quietly, “There’s no lock that can stand up to someone taught by the best. And I’m not letting anything get in the way of seeing you.” Marianne felt her heart begin to flutter, and urged Hilda to be quick, “Someone always walks the halls at night, be careful!”

The doorknob rattled and shook while Marianne started hopping on her feet, unable to contain the anticipation. Then, with a click, the door quietly opened, and Marianne saw her love standing before her again after nearly six months, both staring longingly at each other.

“Hi Mari… I missed you.”

The two then finally raced to and met each other in the middle, hugging in embrace and Marianne muffling her sobs in her love’s shoulder. Hilda kept the taller woman in a strong embrace for as long as she needed, only pausing to carefully shut the door behind them. Marianne then pulled back in order to give Hilda a long overdue kiss, tasting each other, and ending up sharing hot breathes, Marianne resting her hand on Hilda’s bosom, while the latter gripped the blue girl’s rear.

“Hilda…”

“Mari…”

A pause, as the two stared at each other in hunger.

“This probably isn’t the best time…”

“We can continue later, when you come visit me in my home."

The two shared a few more longing kisses, until Hilda held up Marianne’s now bracelet adorned hand between them.

“It looks good on you, Mari.”

Marianne smiled, “All your jewelry is beautiful, Hilda, like you.” The pink girl blushed and laughed, “You’re beautiful too, Mari.”

“I’m not-” Marianne stopped herself, and took a long breath. “Thank you, I love you so much, Hilda.”

“I love you too, my Mari.”

Hilda left soon after, sneaking back out of Marianne’s room to the guest suite that had been provided to her for the night. There was no regret, however, as they would both see each other again in the morning, as Marianne defiantly walked in on her adoptive father while he was having breakfast with the guest visitor from Goneril.

“Daughter! What are you doing… out of bed?!” Lord Edmund shrilled, with Hilda soon adding, “Marianne! I was told that you were too sick to be out of bed or receive visitors!”

The blue girl tried not to smirk too obviously as she walked up to Hilda’s side and took hold of her hand. “I’m feeling much better today, lord father, as everyone here can see.” The Margrave sat stewing, wondering how Marianne managed to break out of her room, though the answer became fast apparent with what Hilda said next. “So, Marianne, since you’re looking so much better, how about you come back with me to the Goneril manor and visit for awhile?”

“Oh I think that’s a lovely idea, Hilda!” Marianne continued to play, then looking at Lord Edmund and directing, “And it would surely help build ties between the Edmund and Goneril houses, don’t you think, father?”

There was really nothing Margrave Edmund could do to refute that logic, especially since if Hilda returned alone and revealed what exactly had been happening in his house, his reputation among the lords would be ruined. Still, he sat and fumed for a good minute before admitting defeat.

“It will… you may go.”

Later that day, as she finally felt the wind blow through her hair again, flying away on Hilda’s wyvern, Marianne laughed for what felt like the first time in her life, joined just as strongly by Hilda. She then wrapped her arms around the shorter girl, hugging her tightly as they soared through the skies. “Thank you for rescuing me, Hilda.” Marianne praised, rubbing the back of her love’s neck with her cheek.

“Marianne, you saved yourself! It was all your idea, I just provided the opportunity.” Hilda retorted, then struggling to hold back her laughter again as Marianne began peppering her back with kisses. Then the blueberry haired girl began using their hug to fondle Hilda’s breasts, and the flier began to moan. “M-Mari… I love you… but I’m kind of busy...”

“Let go of the reins, Hilda, the wyvern will fly itself..” Marianne coolly instructed, slowly moving a hand lower, and creeping up underneath the pink girl’s skirt.

“Mari? What are you... Mari-ah!”

She let go.

…..

When Marianne next awoke, she was surprised to find another visitor in the room, coming into view as her eyes fluttered open. Edelgard was here, head resting on crossed arms by the end of her bed, completely asleep. For some reason Marianne couldn’t help but smile, she looked so peaceful, nothing like what the Adrestian Emperor had been like previously, or even back in the academy.

But that smile quickly gave way to conviction, she slipped out of bed as quietly as possible, still clad in nothing but a nightgown, and stepped behind behind Edelgard.

Deep breath.

Marianne quickly latched her hands around the Emperor’s neck and started squeezing as hard as she could. Edelgard immediately woke up and clamped her own hands around Marianne’s, coughing and sputtering, gasping for air. For her part Marianne made no noise at all, just gritting her teeth and continuing to apply pressure… at least until she noticed that Edelgard wasn’t really fighting back.

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing, Edelgard? Are you just going to let me kill you!?” Marianne screamed at her, the Emperor now on her knees, still not trying to pry off the blue girl’s hands.

She managed to gasp back, “Get… it out… get it all out…”

Marianne immediately let go and took a step back in sheer disbelief, letting Edelgard catch her breath and stand back up. Almost immediately the Emperor was back at her usual composure, straightening out her dress and turning around to face Marianne. “I know you’re not done, I want you to unleash all of your anger and frustration, that’s why I’m here.”

She was still in shock, but Marianne took a few cautious steps toward Edelgard, looking the shorter woman dead in the eye, she had no expression on her face, completely neutral. Marianne then growled, and drove her fist straight into Edelgard’s stomach, the Emperor gasped and flinched only a tiny bit, still looking as stoic as ever. Marianne wanted to hear Edelgard scream, or wail, anything to break her composure, and one idea came to mind, she grabbed the Emperor by the shoulders and threw her onto the bed, climbing overtop soon after.

Still, Edelgard didn’t react, not after this, nor when Marianne grabbed her neck, or tore open her tights.

“I’m not stopping until you feel every bit as awful as I do, Edelgard.”

Marianne began to pry open both of their undergarments, and open seeing her growing intention, the Emperor surprisingly smiled.

“Good.”