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Count Varley Has Failed the Vibe Check

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Seteth was sitting in his office writing a report about something the Lady Rhea simply couldn’t be bothered with when the door burst open to reveal a very angry-looking professor. Her usually calm face was filled with rage, which worried Seteth very much.

“Professor, what is-” he managed to say before she cut him off.

“How much trouble will I be in if I were to punch a student’s parents in the face?” From most people, Seteth would have regarded this question as some kind of jest, but from Byleth, he was not so sure. 

“Well, I am not sure of the context, but inflicting physical harm on a parent of one of our students is most likely frowned upon, Professor.”

Her eyes narrowed. “What if that parent really, really deserved it?”

Seteth was flustered by the professor’s behaviour. In the time that she had been teaching at the academy, he had always been wary of her for her seeming lack of emotion (among other things, of course), but he was actually slightly afraid of the amount of anger in her eyes at the moment. 

“May I inquire as to the reason that this parent supposedly deserves to have some kind of physical harm inflicted upon them?” he asked lightly.

She sighed. “It isn’t just one parent. I’ve been talking to my students a lot recently, and a few of them have opened up to me about their lives before coming here. I was already really angry that a lot of them had parents that treated them that way, but I guess Bernadetta talking about her father pushed me over the edge.” Seteth didn’t really know what she was talking about specifically, but he was starting to suspect what was making the professor so angry. She continued, “Hearing their stories, it just… I don’t understand what kind of parents would do these kinds of things, especially to these kids. I care so much about them, and when I hear about how they’ve been treated, I… It makes me furious.”

Hearing Byleth so openly declare her affection for her students was a bit shocking. Seteth had certainly seen that she was fond of her students, but her vehement declaration was beyond what he had thought her capable of. Perhaps he had judged her too harshly. 

However, the matter at hand was that Byleth wanted to punch her students’ parents in the face, which Seteth could not condone, no matter how bad they were as parents. She was a teacher, and she was a member of the Church. Punching her students’ parents would not paint the Church in a very positive light. “Professor, I can understand your anger at the mistreatment of your students, but it would be incredibly unwise for you to inflict bodily harm on the parents of your students, no matter how deserving you believe them to be of it.”

 She gritted her teeth and the anger flashed in her eyes again. “That’s what I thought you would say. What if I were to simply go and confront the parents about their behaviour and yell at them for a little while?” 

“I do not think that would be advisable, Profe-”

“It’s either yelling at them or punching them, you decide.” The fierce determination in her eyes let Seteth know that she was completely serious, and there was no force in all of Fodlan that could stop her from confronting these parents. 

“I suppose that if I cannot stop you, yelling would be greatly preferable to inflicting bodily harm,” he conceded. She nodded and began to leave the room. “Wait, Professor. How do I know that you will not let your anger get the better of you?”

“Fair question.” She thought for a moment. “If you’re really that concerned about it, you could come with me to help keep my anger in check.”

“Professor, I do not think I can spare the time, nor can you. You have a class to teach, and I have my duties here.” 

She stared into his eyes, almost as if seeing right through him. “Seteth, I know how much of a caring and doting father you are. I know that the idea that these parents are treating their children like this angers you about as much as it angers me. Can you really tell me that you don’t want the opportunity to give them a piece of your mind as well?” Dammit, she struck a nerve there. He didn’t want to admit it, but she was right. He cared about his daughter so much that he would lay down his life for her without question, so to think that there were fathers out there who didn’t even care about their daughters, who would go so far as to hurt them. It really did fill him with anger. 

“Seteth, the Church won’t fall apart if you leave for a week. Manuela and Hanneman have offered to take over my class whenever I need them to, and considering that I’ve stolen most of their students, they’ll essentially just be taking them back for a little while.” Seteth was still apprehensive about leaving his post, and it showed clearly on his face. “Seteth, if we take your wyvern, we can go, yell at some parents, and make it back here in a week. You can tell Lady Rhea that you’re coming with me on my journey to make sure that I’m alright, which isn’t actually a lie, and I am sure Rhea won’t begrudge me a trip to clear my head, after everything that has happened recently.”

He thought about the situation a little more. Byleth was right about Manuela and Hannemen; they were both capable professors, and their classes were currently very small. They could probably just have all of the students in one classroom and teach jointly for a week, as long as they could refrain from their bickering. Byleth was also right that Lady Rhea would easily allow Byleth to take some time for herself to clear her head; and Lady Rhea would appreciate knowing that Byleth was safe with Seteth. Byleth’s reasoning was sound, and he could find no way to refute it. “Fine, I will accompany you, as long as Lady Rhea gives her consent to the two of us leaving Garreg Mach on such short notice.” 

The professor nodded and left the office. Seteth sighed and sat back down at his desk. Tonight he had seen a whole new side to the professor; she was not just a stone-faced warrior with a bit of a soft spot for her students, she was a fiercely protective person who would do anything for the people that she cared about. She reminded him of someone in that way.

 

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The next morning, Seteth walked over to the wyvern stables, a pack of supplies slung over his shoulder. He had asked Lady Rhea for her approval the night before, and she had almost instantly given her assent. She hoped that this trip would be just what Byleth needed to have some kind of epiphany, and she was glad that, even though she could not accompany the professor, someone she trusted could. 

When he reached the stables, Byleth was already there, wearing the clothes that she had arrived in, opposed to the academy wear that she had favored since her arrival at the monastery. The Sword of the Creator was strapped to her belt, and she had a pack of supplies of her own on her back. “Hanneman and Manuela agreed to take over my class for the next week, along with some help from Shamir and Catherine. I informed my students this morning that I am taking a trip, and many of them actually encouraged it, saying that I needed to take some time for myself.”

“It is good to know that the students are in capable hands, though I am slightly concerned about the students that only you seem to be able to keep under control.”

Her smile was faint, but Seteth saw it as clear as day. It made his heart twist a little, but he could not figure out why. “Don’t worry about my students. I told them that if they misbehaved too much while I was gone, I’d make them do stable cleaning duty with Lorenz. I love all of my students, but that boy’s constant talk of nobility and duty is quite frankly annoying. I truly hope he grows out of that one day.”

“Well then, are you all prepared, Professor?”
“I am, and you?” He nodded, which she returned. He mounted his already saddled wyvern and helped Byleth up. “Our first stop is going to be Gautier territory. I have a few words for the Margrave.”

Seteth nodded and motioned for his wyvern to take off. As the pair ascended, Seteth could feel the fear emanating from Byleth. It seemed the normally stoic professor was afraid of flying. Because he was a sympathetic man, and he owed a great debt to the professor for saving his daughter, he said nothing as Byleth wrapped her arms around his midsection and held him tightly. He pointedly ignored the warm feeling in his chest.

 

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They arrived in Gautier territory around lunchtime. Before going to confront the Margrave, the pair decided to eat lunch in the area around the Margrave’s castle. 

Seteth knew that their current mission was to confront the toxic parents of Byleth’s students, but he didn’t know any specifics, and was quite curious. “If it is not too invasive, may I ask why you have chosen Margrave Gautier as one of the parents to be reprimanded?”

Byleth took a deep breath and stared into the empty space in front of her. “I am sure you are at least slightly aware of the situation with Miklan, the disinherited Gautier son.”

“Yes, he was the one that stole the Lance of Ruin. I believe he ended up being killed by his own brother, am I correct?”

Byleth shook her head. “He was the one who stole the lance, but Sylvain wasn’t the one who actually killed him. He fought his brother, yes, but the one who ended up killing Miklan was actually Felix. Everyone just agreed to say that Sylvain did it because Sylvain didn’t want his father to find out what really happened. He went to land the final blow, but he froze. He just couldn’t do it. Felix ended up stepping in at the last minute.” She wrung her hands. “I asked Sylvain later what happened. He had been so adamant that he would be the one to kill Miklan, but he didn’t when the time came.” Her hands stopped wringing and clenched into fists. “That’s when he told me about his childhood.”

Seteth really didn’t like where this was going. 

“He told me that his father always viewed crests as the most important thing in life. Once Sylvain was born with a crest, the Margrave essentially threw Miklan away. Miklan was intensely jealous of Sylvain, projecting all of his hatred onto his younger brother. He even tried to kill Sylvain on several occasions.” 

Byleth went silent for a moment, as if she could not even comprehend it. Seteth could not either. “After Miklan was disinherited, the Margrave essentially treated Sylvain like the only important thing about him was his crest, and that everything else didn’t matter. Sylvain was so tired of the expectations and the constant pressure that he was going to go out of his way to disappoint people. He started acting stupid, even though he has one of the most brilliant tactical minds I have ever seen, on par even with Claude. He started sleeping around with women because he knew his father would hate it, among other reasons that he and I have had lengthy discussions about.”

Seteth was beyond furious. The Margrave treated his sons like objects, one to be discarded because it wasn’t useful, and one to be used for personal gain. It made him sick, and he had a few words he would like to say to the man as well. “I must admit that I have judged Sylvain too harshly, all things considered. I will strive to do better in the future.”

Byleth nodded. “I understand. Sylvain actively tries to make people judge him. It can be a little difficult to see past his facade, but he really is a good man underneath the act. He deserves far more than to be treated as a stud horse by his father and a punching bag by his brother, even if he himself can’t see it.”

Seteth and Byleth walked in silence to the doors of the Margrave’s estate. The man at the gate yelled, “Declare yourselves and your intention.”

Seteth spoke up, “I am Seteth, second to the Archbishop, and this is Professor Byleth. We have come to speak with Margrave Gautier on urgent business.”

The guard nodded, and opened the gates. Another guard came to escort them inside. “I hope you do not mind waiting for just a moment. The Margrave is meeting with Duke Fraldarius at the moment, though they should be done with their business soon.”

Byleth nodded. “If you would not mind, could you please ask Duke Fraldarius to wait a moment while we meet with the Margrave? I would like to speak with him about something. Nothing too serious, but it needs to be said nonetheless.”

“Of course Professor. I will let him know that you asked to speak with him.” The guard brought them to a room and stood at the door. 

Byleth and Seteth sat in silence, waiting for the Margrave to be ready for them. After a short while, the guard turned to them. “The Margrave is ready to see you know. I will be sure to inform Duke Fraldarius of your wish to see him as well.”

“Thank you. May I ask for your name?” Seteth inquired. 

“Uh, it’s Kieran, my lord.”

“Thank you, Kieran. You have been most helpful.” Seteth replied. 

As they were led to the room where they would be meeting the Margrave, Seteth began to feel slightly nervous. He was a man of high station, and would likely not suffer consequence should the Margrave’s ire be invoked, but Byleth was a commoner. A commoner favored by the archbishop of the Church of Serios, but a commoner nonetheless. If the Margrave was made too angry, he may be able to punish Byleth severely for daring to insult him. Of course, his apprehension did not stop him, merely made him wary. 

When they reached the Margrave’s office, he looked at them with annoyance. “Why have my son’s teacher and an official of the Church come to see me? Has my son done something again?” he asked, though it was obvious from his tone that he didn’t really care. 

Byleth’s back straightened. “Actually, Margrave Gautier, our purpose here is not to discuss Sylvain acting out. In fact, he has been doing so with far greater rarity of late. The real purpose of our presence here today is that I am quite displeased with the way you have treated Sylvain. I am aware that my input is unwelcome, but this is something that you need to hear: Your son is a brilliant and talented young man who should be appreciated for being who he is, not for having a crest. You treated Miklan like a piece of garbage to be thrown away, and both he and Sylvain suffered for it. You have much to answer for, and you have no right to try and control your only remaining son’s life. He acts the way he does specifically because he wants to have some level of control over his life because you have taken almost all of it away from him. The only reason your nose is not broken at this very moment is that the second in command of the Church of Serios is standing right over there, and he came for the express purpose of preventing me from inflicting severe bodily harm upon your person.” 

Byleth’s face was filled with the same anger Seteth had seen the previous night, and that anger spurred him into speaking. “Children are not your property to be used and thrown away. You are his father, and your job is to protect him and love him. You have failed on both fronts. You do not deserve to be called a father, and you certainly do not deserve to have a son like Sylvain.”

Margrave Gautier’s face was red. “How dare you try to lecture me on the way I raise my children. The affairs of my estate are none of your business, and you have no right to pry!”

Byleth’s voice was calm and cold, reminiscent of the days when she had been known as the Ashen Demon, “It became my business the moment Sylvain became my student. My students are the only family I have left, and I will not allow anyone to hurt my family, even their parents. I will do whatever I need to do to protect him from you should the need arise. Remember that.” 

“Is that a threat?” the Margrave cried indignantly.

“Only if it needs to be,” Byleth warned, “I would recommend that you do not let it become one.”

“Who do you think you are?”

Seteth decided it was a good time to chime in, “Professor Byleth has the unwavering favor of the Archbishop, and she has recently been given the power of the Goddess herself, and wields the Sword of the Creator. It would be unwise to find yourself even further at odds with her, Margrave Gautier.”

The Margrave’s eye twitched in anger. “I will take your words into consideration, but I recommend that you leave my office so I do not do or say something that I will regret.”

Byleth and Seteth both nodded and left the room. Seteth tried to break the tension in the air by saying, “All things considered, that was not as bad as it could have been.”

Byleth smirked a little. “Yeah, considering that his face is still intact and we left the room with him still having all of his fingers, I would say that did not go as badly as it could have.”

Seteth shivered. 

As they reached the end of the hallway, Duke Fraldarius was waiting for them. “I was told by a guard that the Professor would like to speak with me?”

Byleth nodded. Seteth was completely unfamiliar with whatever Byleth wanted to talk with the Duke about, so he decided to watch this conversation in silence. 

Byleth set her shoulders before beginning to speak. “Duke Fraldarius, I wanted to talk to you about your treatment of Felix. I can say that I am not as angry at you as I am with the margrave, but there are a few things I would like to say to you, though I think you already are aware of what I am going to say.”

The Duke nodded, but stayed silent. 

“I am aware that you lost your elder son, and I feel the utmost sympathy for your loss. But your younger son was grieving as well. Felix had just lost his older brother, his role model. And you pushed him aside. I know that you were trying to help Dimitri, and I appreciate everything that you have done for him, but you set aside the needs of your own son to take care of Dimitri. Felix hates to admit it to anyone, but he has always felt like Glenn was your favorite and he was your backup son. I am unsure if it is even possible now for you to mend that relationship with Felix, because he knows that you see Dimitri as more of your son than you see Felix, and I honestly do not know if there is any coming back from that.”

Rodrigue’s face was lined with regret. “You are right. I have always pushed Felix aside, and I have realized recently that it was wrong of me, but Felix has refused all of my attempts to atone for my mistakes.”

Seteth stepped forward. “Lord Rodrigue, I can see that you dearly wish to make amends to Felix. Felix may never truly accept your attempts to make amends, which is a decision that he has every right to make, but you should not let that stop you from trying to be a better father, because, even if Felix does not accept your apology, he will at least know that you cared enough to try, which I think is a step above what he knows now.”

Rodrigue nodded. “Thank you, Seteth.” He turned to Byleth. “And thank you. It is nice to know that there is someone who truly cares for Felix in a way that I did not until it was too late. From what news I have heard from the Academy, you have been a remarkably good influence on him.” He bowed his head to her slightly. “I must take my leave now. I would like to make it most of the way home before nightfall.”

Byleth turned to Seteth as Rodrigue disappeared down the hallways. “It was a good thing that you said back there, that Felix doesn’t have to accept his father’s apology. Some people would have said that Felix should immediately accept his father’s attempts at reconciliation.”

Seteth shook his head. “People are not obligated to forgive the people that have hurt them, especially not just because of a minor apology. It is important to move on, yes, but forgiving is an entirely different matter.” Byleth nodded, but didn’t say anything. She looked at Seteth with an indiscernible expression, then turned her attention ahead.

“I think if we fly fast we can get to Galatea territory before nightfall, so that I can lecture Ingrid’s father about pressuring her to give up her dreams so that she can marry and pass on her crest.”

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That night, after Count Galatea had taken his turn being on the receiving end of Byleth’s anger, Byleth and Seteth had set up camp somewhere between Galatea and Gloucester, their next destination.

Their campfire was relatively quiet until Seteth decided to ask Byleth some questions. “How have you been holding up recently? I am sure you must get that often, but I was just curious about how you have been handling everything that has happened in the past few months.”

Byleth looked down at the fire. “I honestly don’t know. Losing my father was the most painful thing I have ever experienced, but then…”

“Fusing with the goddess?” he guessed. 

“That is a part of it, but the hardest thing about that is that it feels like I have also lost a friend.”

“What do you mean?”

Her face turned to him, and her serious expression made him feel like he needed to devote all of his attention to her. “Seteth, if I tell you something, can you promise me that you will not tell Rhea?”

What? What kind of secret would she entrust with him that Lady Rhea could not find out about?

Byleth could see the obvious apprehension on his face and amended her question. “I can promise that it really has nothing to do with Rhea, I simply know that she would pry if she found out, and this is something I consider private.”

He took in a deep breath. “I promise that, as long as what you are about to tell me does not put Lady Rhea or my daughter in danger, that I will keep whatever you wish to tell me strictly between us.”

Byleth nodded. “I promise you this is nothing dangerous.” She went back to looking into the fire, but her gaze was a thousand miles away. “Up until the day when I met Claude, Dimitri, and Edelgard, I was every bit the Ashen Demon that the rumors talked about. I could barely feel any kind of emotions, and pain never bothered me. But then the leader of the bandits threw an axe at Edelgard, and, without thinking, I dove in front of it.” Seteth’s brow furrowed; in the version of the story he had been told, Byleth had pushed Edelgard out of the way, not jumped in front of her. Before he was able to ponder the discrepancy, Byleth continued, “That axe was supposed to have killed me, but right as it was about to tear into my back, time froze. I saw a green-haired girl on a throne who told me that I was an idiot, and that jumping in front of an axe was a stupid decision.” 

A green-haired girl on a throne? That sounded like- No, it couldn’t be.

“The girl sent me back in time by just a few moments, enough that I was able to push Edelgard out of the way and deflect the axe.”

Turn back time? Seteth was very confused and concerned, but he decided to let Byleth finish speaking. 

“Eventually, the girl introduced herself to me as Sothis. That day was the day she awakened within me. I didn’t find out until much later that Sothis is the name of the Goddess. She was the first friend I had ever made. She talked to me all the time, making jokes, commenting on dinner, calling me an idiot, things like that. She even helped me when my father died.”

Seteth felt like he knew what was coming next, and he could feel his heart break a little for the woman next to him. 

“When I got stuck in that darkness, Sothis told me the only way to get us both out was for her to fuse herself with me, but in doing so, I would no longer be able to see or hear her. So now, I have a great deal of her power, but I would trade it without hesitation to have my friend back.”

Seteth was shaken. Here was the professor that he had always had a difficult time trusting, telling him that she had been able to hear the voice of the Goddess for months, and didn’t even know it. He could understand why she didn’t want Rhea to know. Rhea seemed obsessed with Byleth getting some kind of revelation from Sothis, and would most likely be enraged to find out that Byleth had been able to speak to her all along. But there was one thing in particular that stood out about her story. “When you say she turned back time, did she ever do that again? Certainly there would have been other times that would have been useful.” He did not have to say which times; Byleth knew exactly what he was talking about.

“She gave me the ability to turn back time at my discretion, again, only for a few moments. I tried when my father was killed. I tried over and over again, but Sothis forced me to stop. She told me that, even if it was possible to turn back time, it was not possible to completely alter fate.”

“She gave you the ability to turn back time at your discretion?”

Byleth nodded. “I have only ever used it in combat, when someone is killed. Thankfully, such an occurrence is rare, but accidents happen. I am simply able to take the steps to ensure that they don’t. I have never used it for another purpose, and have no intention of doing so.”

He could not explain exactly how, but Seteth knew that Byleth was not lying. He trusted her, which was fairly unfamiliar to him, but something told him that Byleth was telling the truth, about all of it. He reached for her hand and took it gently. “Your secrets are safe with me, Byleth.”

She smiled at him, and his heart felt like it almost stopped beating. 

“Thank you, Seteth.”

Wordlessly, they each went to bed in their bedrolls, and they both slept soundly through the night.

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In the morning, both Seteth and Byleth acted like nothing had happened the night before, as they traveled to Count Gloucester’s lands. When Seteth inquired as to the reason for this stop in their journey, Byleth replied, “I just wanted to tell the Count that he needs to stop putting so much pressure on his son and that teaching his son that nobility is all that matters was a foolish mistake.”

“It seems like many of these parents act like nobility and crests are all that matters in the world, and their children seem to suffer greatly for it.”

“They do, which is why almost all of the students have varying degrees of hatred for crests and the system that they create. Did you know that many of my students to whom relic weapons have been given entrust their weapons to me because they hate the fact that they are supposed to use them?”

“I was aware that your students defer to your judgement in regards to crest weapons, but I did not know that it was because they hated crests. I suppose I cannot blame them. Flayn’s crest has put her in danger many times. I sometimes wish that she had been born without it.”

“Maybe this class of students will end up changing the world for the better. I certainly hope so,” she remarked, “I see so much potential in each and every one of them.”

“You are a very good teacher. I am sure that your students will live up to every ounce of the potential you see in them, if not solely because you saw it.”

Byleth smiled again, and Seteth’s heart reacted the same way that it had before, and he began to suspect why. He pushed all of those thoughts from his head, knowing that they would only cause problems for all parties involved.

They continued the rest of the journey to Gloucester in a comfortable silence. Even though the reason they were there was not quite pleasant, the scenery of the Alliance in the early morning was quite beautiful. Times like this often reminded Seteth of his wife, and as he thought about her, his mind also went to the woman holding him tightly from behind. He had judged her quite harshly in the beginning, regarding her with so much suspicion, but now, she was quickly becoming someone he trusted very much. It seemed that this strange, green-haired professor had an effect on every person that she spent time around, and Seteth was no exception. 

As their ride through the skies continued, and Byleth buried her head in Seteth’s shoulder, he found that he was having a very hard time minding at all.

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By some kind of miracle, Byleth was able to conclude her business with Count Gloucester relatively quickly. Seteth hadn’t said a single word the entire time she lectured the Count, instead simply watching her take the man down several pegs with words alone. There was something oddly interesting about it, in a way that Seteth was trying not to think about.

After they left the Count’s home, Seteth asked where they were headed next. Byleth pondered for a moment. “I had been considering going to yell at Claude’s grandfather for being a racist ass, but the old man is probably going to die soon anyway.” Seteth looked affronted at that, so Byleth responded, “Oh, don’t try to tell me that I’m wrong. Claude himself said that people are expecting his grandfather to die soon.”

“Be that as it may, I do not believe it proper to hope for the death of the sovereign duke of a nation.” Byleth shrugged and said nothing. Seteth shook his head in exasperation, but also stayed silent. 

After a few more moments of consideration, Byleth decided on their next stop. “I really want to go scream at Bernadetta’s father. I had planned to save him for last, but I don’t want to wait that long.”

Seteth remembered that hearing about Bernadetta’s father is what prompted Byleth to go on this journey in the first place, and he was very concerned. “Are you certain you will not let your anger get the better of you?”

She laughed a bit. “That is what I have you here for. Your job is to make sure I do not rip that man’s head from his shoulders. I may have wanted to punch Margrave Gautier, but I want to kill Count Varley. I give you my permission right now to hold me back if necessary.”

Seteth blinked but nodded. “Noted. I will do my best to ensure that we leave with Count Varley’s head still attached to his neck.”

As the pair mounted Seteth’s wyvern, neither said a word. Byleth seemed a little less afraid of flying this time, likely due to some combination of anger and getting used to it. Seteth was a little saddened by the fact that she was not holding on quite as tightly, but he tried to ignore his disappointment. 

As they approached the Varley estate, night began to fall. Seteth knew that his wyvern needed a break, so they landed about a mile away from the Varley estate. Seteth decided that now was as good a time as any to find out what the Count had done to invoke Byleth’s wrath to such a degree. “If you do not mind my asking, what exactly has the Count done that angers you so greatly?”

Byleth did not meet his eye. “I cannot tell you that in good conscience, Seteth. Bernadetta is not a very open person, especially about this. I highly doubt that she would be happy with me telling you about her father’s actions.”

Even though he was intensely curious, he understood. Byleth held her student’s trust, and she did not want to break it. Telling him about the other parents was not a breach of those students’ trust, as many of them were far more open about their parents’ treatment of them, but Bernadetta was closed off to everyone. Telling the professor about this must have been a very difficult thing to do, and the Professor would never betray her like that. “I will not pry. I respect the trust that your students have placed in you, and I will not ask you to betray that trust.”

“Thank you.” She looked over in the direction of the estate. “At first light, we are going to go in there, and I am going to tell that piece of shit exactly what I think of him, and if I am about to kill him, you are going to stop me.”

“Understood.”

As Seteth prepared to go to sleep, he noticed that Byleth was still sitting at the fire. “Why are you not preparing to sleep?”

“I can’t sleep right now. Not when I know that a monster like that is so close. I just… looking at my students, I cannot imagine being their parent and not caring about them. It’s just… it’s incomprehensible to me. I think that, even though Sothis was my first actual friend, it was my students who taught me what love feels like. I love each and every one of my students so much. I would do anything to protect them. So, when I find out about someone like Bernadetta’s father, it fills me with rage. I don’t know what it feels like to be a mother, but I can imagine it feels a little bit like what I feel towards my students.”

Seteth stood from where he was in the process of laying down and sat beside Byleth. “I think your students would be honored to know that you care so much about them. And, for what it’s worth, I think you would be a great mother.” She smiled softly and leaned into him.

They sat in silence as they drifted off to sleep. 

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In the morning, Seteth woke first. Byleth was still in his arms from the night before, and she was sleeping so peacefully. As the morning light hit her hair, it almost seemed to glow. Seteth’s heart panged, and he did not even try to silence it. He could not deny it anymore: the Professor was beautiful, inside and out, and she reminded him so much of his wife. 

She woke slowly, comfortable in Seteth’s arms. Her bleary eyes were endearing to Seteth, as was her messy hair. 

She ran her fingers through it and readied herself for the confrontation to come. Right then, she was a far cry from the gentle woman that had slept in Seteth’s arms. There was a fire in her eyes that could strike fear into the most hardened of warriors, and could turn a weaker man’s legs to jelly. As they flew the short distance to the estate, Byleth was completely lacking in the fear she had previously displayed.

As they reached the gates of the estate, Seteth did all of the talking, knowing that Byleth was already having difficulty restraining herself as it was. A nervous young guard led them to Count Varley, who was sitting at his desk reading a report. 

Seteth decided to speak up first. “Count Varley, I am Seteth, and this is Professor Byleth. I believe the Professor would like to have a word with you.”

The Count put down his papers and gritted his teeth. “What is it? I am a busy man, so could we make this quick?”

Byleth stepped forward, face tight with barely-restrained rage. “I don’t care how busy you are, Count Varely. I am going to speak, and you are going to listen. I am Bernadetta’s professor, and I am not at all okay with the way you have treated her. The only reason I do not kill you where you stand is out of respect for the man standing next to me, so you better be grateful that he is here to protect you.”

Fear creeped into Count Varley’s eyes.

Byleth continued, “It’s bad enough that you treated her as if her only purpose in life is to be someone’s wife, but the way you went about it is something that I cannot accept.”

“It is none of your business how I raise my daughter!” The fear in the Count’s eyes was joined by indignation. “I have every right to raise my own children how I see fit, and no one has the right to criticise my methods.”

Byleth’s hand unconsciously drifted to the hilt of her sword, and Seteth stepped a little closer, ready to stop her if things got out of hand.

“‘How you see fit’?” she cried, “You saw fit to tie your daughter to a chair and deprive her of food until she would obey! No father should ever see fit to treat his daughter that way!”

Seteth’s mind went almost blank. He did what?  

“Bernadetta told me about the kinds of things you would do to train her to be a good, submissive wife-”

Byleth wanted to continue ranting, but she was cut off by Seteth’s fist colliding with Count Varley’s nose. The Count fell over, unconscious, and Byleth gaped at Seteth.

Seteth was in a similar state of shock, looking back and forth in disbelief between his fist and the unconscious nobleman. Byleth composed herself first. “Seteth, we need to get out of here. The Count is going to be very angry when he wakes up, and we really shouldn’t be here when that happens. Seteth nodded and let Byleth drag him away. 

When they exited the estate and reached Seteth’s wyvern, Seteth had mostly regained his composure. He looked over at Byleth who was giving him an indiscernible look.

He was caught completely by surprise when she took him by his collar and kissed him.

It took his brain a moment to register what just happened, but, when he did, he buried his hands in her hair and kissed her back with a fiery intensity. It seemed that all of his inhibitions had suddenly flown out the window.

When they finally parted for air, they were panting and still holding onto each other. Byleth managed to catch her breath and say, “You punching that son of a bitch was the hottest thing that I have ever seen.”

Seteth laughed. “You, my dear, have odd ideas about what is attractive.”

“Maybe, but that doesn’t change the fact that you punched that douchebag and looked incredibly hot while doing it.” Seteth just rolled his eyes and kissed her again, though far more lightly than before. 

“You know, Professor, I think you may be a very bad influence on me.”

She smirked. “I disagree. I think I am just the right influence on you. You needed to loosen up a bit. Nobody can be that uptight all the time.”

“I am not uptight!” he exclaimed, “I simply care about my duties.”

Byleth rolled her eyes. “Just shut up and kiss me again.”

Seteth found himself unwilling to argue with her further, instead obliging her request and pulling her in for a kiss once more. 

After a few moments, Byleth pulled away with a spark of mischief in her eye. “Does this mean I’m allowed to punch Duke Aegir when we confront him.”

Seteth shook his head. “I’ll think about it.”

“I’ll take that as a yes.”

He rolled his eyes and kissed her again.