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Looking back on it all, Jeralt supposed that Byleth's bouts of eccentricity (insanity) could be traced back to even before she was born.

 

"The baby keeps kicking me. Why does the baby keep kicking me?!" His wife had bemoaned on a near daily basis as she'd rubbed a hand over her bulging stomach. "That's good and all, but do they have to do it so strongly? At all hours of the day and night?! I swear! They get it from your side of the family," she'd accused him every single time with a look that could set coals aflame.

 

"Really? My family?" Was what he'd always respond, with a pointed look at the nearest holy object for good measure.

 

Because, truth be told and never mentioned, Rhea could pin him down in five seconds flat if she wanted to, and that she had done it. Without a single strand of hair out of place. In broad daylight. And had just left him there like an errant pebble whilst she'd gone off to attend to her duties without so much as a second look back.

 

The topic of their baby's ceaseless kicking had gone on to the point that it became a common thing to laugh at or rant about to each other or with others who were willing to lend an ear to them.

 

And then, suddenly, Jeralt had found himself assigned with a mission that would take him weeks away from his wife who looked about ready to pop out their kid. He'd left, of course, not because he'd owed Rhea that much or because it was his duty as the Captain of the Knights of Seiros.

 

He'd left, because his wife had looked at him in the eyes and said,

 

"We'll be fine. Get going, Jeralt, because the next time you see our baby and I, you won't have to feel their kicks through my belly."

 

So he'd left. He'd left his pregnant wife with the assurance that he'd have a family when he came back.

 

Only, three months later, he returned to the sight of Rhea standing near his wife's gravestone and his daughter who did nothing but cry and cry and cry in her arms and—

 

"You may leave her in my care," had been the first thing Rhea had told him when he'd approached her. Not 'I'm sorry for your loss' or 'We'll get through this together' or even an angry 'Why didn't you come home sooner?'.

 

Instead, she'd smiled kindly at him and offered to take care of his child whilst all the while never straying her gaze away from his daughter with the air of somebody who'd finally gotten what they'd wanted.

 

She'd looked nothing like the leader who'd saved his life, nothing like the Archbishop who took in orphans and worried over the less fortunate, and not even close to the woman who'd pinned him down because he'd gotten a bit too handsy with his yet to be wife.

 

A shudder had wracked its way down his body at her words and at her eyes.

 

Who are you, his mind screamed even as he took his wailing daughter into his arms and said, quite firmly,

 

"No."

 

It all really went downhill from there.