It’s late, and Felix has sighed five times in the span of time it took Dimitri to review and sign the latest request—for grain, from a small village near the old Adrestian border—he’d taken from the seemingly never-ending pile Dedue had had handed him earlier in the day. The entire scenario reminds him of idyllic days back at the monastery, when the Professor would stubbornly assign him and Felix to do chores together in an attempt to bridge the gap between them, and Felix would grumble and sigh, complaining the entire time and leaving Dimitri to do all the work.
Nearly eight years have passed since then and while a million things have changed, it seems that Felix’s obnoxious sighing will stay the same. At least Felix is actually doing his work now, Dimitri reasons, so maybe he can deal with the sighing, except—ugh, no, he refuses to deal with this. He’s done his time and Dimitri’s not going through this, not again.
“Felix,” he says, breaking their self-imposed silence and earning himself a scathing glare, which he deftly ignores. Felix glares as he breathes. Dimitri’s learned over the years not to take it too personally, so he carries on, meeting Felix's flinty gaze for half a heartbeat before focusing on the fireplace instead. “If—“
But before Dimitri can figure out how to phrase if you’re going to be such a little bitch about doing the paperwork, then maybe you should go without getting stabbed in his other eye with a pen, a familiar knock sounds from the door, immediately followed by the sound of it opening. Seeing as one of the two people who will come inside Dimitri’s office without so much as a by-your-leave is already sitting across from him, he’s hardly surprised when Sylvain peeks inside.
“Knock, knock,” Sylvain calls out, a wide grin stretching his lips. “Sorry to interrupt," he continues, not looking sorry at all as he steps inside the room and lifts up what appears to be a bundle of blankets in his arms, "but Tori wants you.”
It takes Dimitri an embarrassingly long while to figure out what Sylvain means, and by the time he does, Felix has already made his way across the room and coaxed Sylvain’s bundle into his arms. From his seat, Dimitri can just barely make out Felix’s murmurs, voice softer than he’d ever thought him capable of, as Tori—Victoria Annette Fraldarius—emerges from the blankets, all dark curls and freckled cheeks—an adorable amalgamation of two of Dimitri’s oldest friends.
“What’s wrong, sweetling?” Felix asks, settling down on the settee in front of the fireplace with Sylvain following close behind, and Dimitri takes that as his cue to turn away and reach for another pile of requests.
It would be very unbecoming if the King of Unification is caught eavesdropping, after all.
Of course, Dimitri can’t help but glance at them from time to time. It’s impossible not to, if he’s being completely honest, especially when the sight of Tori, with her Fraldarius blue eyes and Gautier complexion, still catches Dimitri off-guard. He knows it shouldn’t, because Goddess knows he still has the scars—physical, emotional, and mental—from those fraught six months when the Margrave lost his mind and trapped Sylvain up in Gautier and Felix nearly drove all of Fhirdiad insane by virtue of being himself, but it does.
It’s still so novel, so strange, and so surprising that out of all them, Sylvain and Felix are the first ones to have a child, unplanned though she may be.
And Tori had been very, very unplanned.
Dimitri hums, leaning back on his seat as he watches Ingrid pace across the room. He’s lost count of just how many times Ingrid has said the words ever since Mercedes had told them cheerily that despite throwing up his lunch, Felix was completely fine, just three months pregnant. “Yes, I do believe we’ve established that,” he says, once Ingrid had taken another turn and was opening her mouth to repeat the words again. “Ingrid.”
Letting out an aggrieved sigh, Ingrid stomps towards the seat next to him and sits down so violently, Dimitri worries for the upholstery. And then she’s reaching for the bottle of wine, pouring herself a generous measure, and throwing it back in one breath. “I expected this from Sylvain, not Felix!” She grouses after downing another glass.
“Well, Sylvain had quite a hand in this.”
It does, unfortunately, take two to tango, and as much as Ingrid would like to pretend—judging from the grimace she’s giving him—that Felix somehow produced a child all on his own, Sylvain had more than just a hand in this entire thing.
“I just can’t believe it!” Ingrid has abandoned her glass and is now drinking straight from the bottle, all pretense forgotten as she continues to rant, sounding more like a beleaguered mother than a concerned friend. “And I can’t believe Felix is keeping it—her—him—either!” It’s a decision none of them had expected from Felix, except— “Okay, maybe I can, because of how Felix is,” virtuous and steadfast, knightly even as he renounces knighthood. “But—” Ingrid sighs, putting down the bottle and running a hand over her face. “I can’t decide if he’s crazy or incredibly brave.”
“Can’t he be both?”
Dimitri’s pretty sure both words have been used to describe Felix, anyway, and there are really no better words to describe the entire impossible situation.
“Goddess, can you imagine if Glenn was alive?” Ingrid asks in a guffaw after a beat of silence, before quickly adding, “I only meant—how furious do you think he would have been?”
“He’d be halfway through Gautier already.” For all his teasing of Felix, Glenn was fiercely overprotective of him, and had, on more than one occasion, challenged a minor noble for Felix’s honor. “But,” Dimitri continues, the beginnings of a laugh tickling his throat, “not before reassuring Felix that it’s not him he’s mad at.”)
“Dada, lessgo to bed," Tori is saying when Dimitri emerges from his reverie, in a tone so reminiscent of a younger, whinier Felix, that Dimitri finds himself biting down on a laugh as he signs another request.
“I can’t, sweetheart.” Felix makes a sound as if he’s been punched, running a gentle hand over Tori’s back as she begins to sniffle. “I still have to help Uncle Dima sign papers." The last bit is said a bit too pointedly that Dimitri’s hardly surprised to see Felix shooting him a quick glare when he looks up, before he turns back to Tori.
Puffing up her cheeks, Tori leans back, arms crossed over her chest. “But I want you to tell me a story.”
“Papa will tell you a story tonight instead, and we'll go feed the cats first thing tomorrow.” Which means Dimitri can take his time at the training grounds, because Felix and Tori’s Cat Time, as Annette calls it, has the tendency to extend until noon. “Okay?”
Tori sniffs, rubbing at her eyes before turning to Sylvain, who quickly disengages from where he’s had his face buried in the crook of Felix’s neck, and asking, “What story?”
“Uh—” Sylvain begins, swiping a hand over his suspiciously red mouth, and oh Saints, Dimitri does not want to think about that. “You can pick one from the new book Uncle Ashe gave you.”
Sylvain makes a considering noise. “Two,” he counters, in the voice Dimitri has only ever heard Sylvain use on the more difficult diplomats and it’s a bit jarring to hear it used against a three-year-old. “You have to wake up early if you want to go feed cats with Dada, and that means sleeping early, starshine.”
A sigh, a whine, and then, in a move that would make Dorothea proud, Tori collapses into Sylvain’s lap in a dramatic pile of blankets. “Fine. Two stories.”
This time, he’s unable to fight the laughter bubbling out of his throat, a loud, unrestrained thing that has him doubling over and wiping at his eye. When Dimitri looks up, all three Fraldariuses—Sylvain had, quite happily, denounced his family name and taken on Felix’s when they got married—are looking at him with varying levels of amusement, ranging from very (Sylvain) and not at all (Felix).
“Alright, let’s go,” Sylvain huffs, saving Dimitri from further embarrassment as he wraps Tori back in her blanket cocoon and hefts her up. “Say goodnight to Uncle Dima.”
“Night-night, Uncle Dima!” Tori chirps, one tiny hand coming out of the blankets to wave at him as the three of them make their way to the door.
He gives her a parting wave, smiling when she bursts into giggles, and if Dimitri didn’t know any better, he’d wonder how Felix and Sylvain raised such a happy child. “Goodnight, Tori, Sylvain.” But then again, he does know better. They all grew up carrying the brunt of their fathers’ mistakes, and instead of succumbing under its weight, Sylvain and Felix have not only learned from it, but they’ve torn it all down and built upon its remains, something brighter and better, and so there’s no doubt in Dimitri’s mind that if Sylvain finally succeeds in wheedling Felix for another child, they’d be just as happy and just as loved as Tori.
“Goodnight, sweetling,” Felix says, voice taking on that soft quality again and Dimitri looks away just as Felix leans down to press a kiss to Tori’s cheek.
And he’s glad he did because he hears Sylvain let out an affronted gasp, followed quickly by, “what, I don’t get a kiss?” Which, of course, is followed by a sound that Dimitri immediately purges from memory. He can’t help but echo Tori’s eloquent, “ew!” as the sound lasts way too long for a goodnight kiss, at which point, Dimitri tunes out and fixes his gaze to the moon outside his window.
He’s broken from his trance by the sound of the door closing, signaling Sylvain and Tori’s departure. Still, Dimitri counts to ten before turning to see Felix sitting back in his seat, red-faced and rumpled, and ah, it really had been a good idea to look away.
“Shut up,” Felix grumbles once the silence has taken on an awkward quality, reaching for his pen and starting to work on another request.
“I haven’t said anything.” It’s a protest that’s half-hearted at best, especially when he continues, “But if I had—” He trails off, earning himself a kick to the knee which he returns with equal fervor. “It would only be to say that I am very happy for you both. Tori is lucky to have you two as parents.”
Felix sniffs, giving him a conciliatory tap to the shin. “Thanks.”
"Let's stop here tonight,” he says the moment he’s sure he won’t sound too emotional over Felix thanking him. “You have an early day feeding all the cats in the castle tomorrow after all.”
For a moment, Felix looks like he’s going to argue, but then his lips twitch into a quick smile.
“Good night, Dimitri.”
“Good night, Felix.”