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Byleth knew that while Dimitri seemed completely gone, his mind lost in nothing but a haze of rage… He knew that in reality it was far from the truth. Yes, he was angry. He was angry beyond the comprehension of most people, with grief aching in his heart every single moment of his existence. But too far gone to understand his own actions? Hardly. He was compelled by his morals to kill to protect the weak, but killing itself was an evil act, so he himself must be evil. Therefore, if he was evil, he too shall die, and thus there was no point in being good to others, to appear happy, to make any more bonds with people that they were just going to lose in the end. 

It was selfish and selfless all at once. He refused the help of others, refused to let others in, both to protect them and to punish himself. And if they were in pain, it simply validated his position to distance himself, feeding into an endless cycle.

But Byleth also knew Dimitri still cared. He might try to claim he didn’t, claim he was just using them until their hearts stopped beating and all the flesh fell from their bones. Yet, he was the one who pushed Byleth out of harm's way, shouting “Professor, get down!” his voice rough and panicked. He was the one who purposefully killed enemies as Felix’s back was turned to them, so they couldn’t harm the raven haired man. He was the one who took all the hits and killed the most enemies to spare as many as possible the horror of taking a life. Others may call it bloodthirsty, desperate for gore and violence by his own hands, but Byleth knew it was out of protection. If one of them fell, he would be broken, he would mourn just as painfully as he did his parents.

Which is why Byleth stays. He stays in the hopes that he can be of use to him, though he wants to be more of use setting him on the right path where he will be loved and safe rather than be of use simply as a weapon. He wants so badly for Dimitri to be better, to expose that raw, painful wound of grief and let Byleth and the others tend to it and heal it. He knows Dimitri will never be whole again, but he doesn’t need to let it fester and rot. 

So Byleth would occasionally come to the cathedral, watching over him. Typically from the back, as silent as he can be. Honestly, getting past the gate without making too much noise was the hard part so late, but it could be done with practice. 

Dimitri mainly prayed and talked, he found, as he heard Mercedes claim. It was quiet, mainly, praying for salvation, praying for peace, and speaking to several of the ‘ghosts’ haunting him. At times it was incoherent, but that was a given, as he only heard mutterings of half the conversation. The other half was silent, deafening nearly, only Dimitri’s breathing and whimpering between them.

After a while, he grew quiet, before finally lifting his slumped head.

“How long do you intend to stand there and watch me?” He demanded, his voice echoing through the nearly empty cathedral. 

“I just want to make sure you’re alright.” Byleth replied, deciding now to walk forward toward the prince. 

He huffed in response. “‘Alright’?” His arms remained crossed. “As though anything about me is ‘alright’. I am nothing but a corpse.” 

Byleth had plenty he wanted to say in disagreement, but he knew the prince would not take any of them to heart. Instead, Byleth simply ignored the statement. 

“You should get some rest tonight.” Byleth stated, and Dimitri growled.

“Rest is for the weak. I have more important matters to attend to.” He frowned in response to the prince’s words.

“I don’t want to see you falter in battle.” 

“If I falter from something as pathetic as that, then I deserve my own end.” That Byleth was not going to let go. 

“You will not fall.” His eyes were hard, serious, and Dimitri turned to meet his glare.

“You are correct, because I will not fall from something so pathetic.” He tilted his head up to glare down at him properly. “Now leave.” 

“Dimitri--” Byleth grit his teeth. “I just--” 

“Just what ?” 

Byleth remembered how he wasn’t always like this. He has seen the love letters fall from his notebooks, never returned because he knew how flustered Dimitri would be. He remembered longing touches, his own hands resting near his closed up wounds long after the healing magic did it’s task. He remembered stroking his blond hair, carefully styled and cut, now overgrown and ragged. He remembers the shakey kiss shared between them in the goddess tower, as since there was no way for two men to make a wish, they might as well indulge themselves a bit. His lips were so cautious too, hands holding his arms in a grip slightly too tight, and his eyes looked so loving and so sad all at once.

How desperately Byleth wanted those moments back, or anything resembling them. He knew though, that even back on the right path as Rodridge asked him to put Dimitri on, he couldn’t ask of that from him. No, those were stolen kisses in a different time, a time when he didn’t have to think about kings and succession, wars and family lineages. Back when he was still a little ignorant and naive, despite how much it pissed Sylvain off. 

… Another part of him wanted more, still. Another part of him wanted a life after this war, just himself and Dimitri, and a family. He had the… Anatomy for it, despite what others tended to believe. But that was it, it would raise too many questions about him, and it would have too many people doubting his gender. Not to mention he was… Well, the vessel for Sothis, and important to the church. The people would never trust him as the King’s consort, not after the Empire declared war on them and stated they were merely controlling the continent through politics.

Besides, Dimitri was a different man now. A man hardened by war. A man who would need to focus on getting a good wife for his kingdom. A good wife for a good family. 

“Go on, say it. I can see it in your eyes.” Dimitri’s hand had grabbed him by the front of his shirt. “Say it. Say you miss the pathetic boy I was back then. Say you want him back.” His voice was cynical, taunting, and Byleth knew what his answer would be if he said as much.

“That Dimitri is long dead. If you truly hate what I have become, then strike me down, kill me.” 

Instead, Byleth simply leaned in closer, before Dimitri had a chance to shove him away, and kissed him. At first, Dimitri did not respond, stunned by the affection, before quickly he shoved Byleth away. In his eyes there was a panic, he was startled, his rhythm thrown off, confused. It was slowly processing in his head as he brought one hand up to his mouth, running his fingers across his own lower lip. 

Byleth wanted to apologize, but before the sound could make it’s way out of his throat, Dimitri all but growled and lunged at him, grasping him by the shirt once more, and Byleth nearly fell back onto the tiled ground if not for the hand keeping him upright. 

“Do you pity me, Professor?” His eyes were so jaded and hard. “Is that it? Is that why you think you can kiss a beast?” 

“I don’t, Dimitri.” He answered honestly, though afraid. “I just--” 

“Nostalgia, then? You think you can self project your feelings of the past onto me?” He brought Byleth in even closer, until he could nearly feel the prince’s hot breath against his face. It was terrifying, Dimitri was wild and unpredictable like this, but he also couldn’t deny the excitement stirring inside him. 

“I don’t, I’m still--” Dimitri growled, trying to drown out his voice and stop him from saying it. “I’m still in love with you.” 

Silence followed, after that. Dimitri it seemed didn’t know how to respond. It crept on, seemingly endlessly, nothing but the sound of their breathing and the distant sound of crickets outside. 

Finally, the silence broke, as Dimitri brought him forward once more, placing a kiss onto his lips. It was much rougher than Byleth’s gentle, cautious one. Much, much rougher. Byleth still accepted it, holding onto his arms as he kissed the blond back with everything he had.

“I will use you,” He whispered, between fervent kisses. “I will simply use you, your body, and your heart.” 

“Then use me.” Byleth replied, the kisses stilling briefly. “Use me as you see fit.” 

The cathedral floor was not where he should be doing this. Then again, the crown prince of Faerghus was not who he should be doing this with . The whole situation was wrong, deeply wrong on many levels, not to mention risky . Still, he didn’t push Dimitri away. Perhaps he would simply stop once he stripped Byleth completely, stunned by the realization of his anatomy. 

He knew Dimitri wouldn’t tell the others though. That would be a waste of time when Byleth was still an asset to kill Edelgard. 

His armor and coat came off first, Dimitri kissing down his neck hastily, leaving a trail of bitemarks and bruises across any exposed skin, as his tunic came off next, his white shirt now exposed. Byleth would still drink up all of those, passionate, desperate kisses and marks from a man who needed sweet release if only for a moment. 

Once his shirt was undone, he paused briefly at the cloth binding his chest, before unraveling it impatiently. Byleth wondered what his next course of action would be, if he would climb off and leave Byleth there but…

His mouth ran down the expanse of his chest, kissing and nipping. He hissed, his teeth were so rough on his nipple, and he feared almost they would break skin, but he gave a whine of delight as Dimitri’s tongue soothed them, rolling around each one as he hurriedly undid Byleth’s belt and pants. Byleth helped as well, between moans, kicking his boots off as his leg armor went to the floor with a clatter. 

Dimitri undressed slightly as well, unclipping his cloak and letting it fall to the floor, before tossing the armor on his torso to the ground with a clatter in the other direction. Once he had more freedom of movement, he slid between Byleth’s bare legs, pulling them open to stare him down. 

Byleth’s face felt hot, being watched like this. He could only glance down to look at the prince eyeing him up those brief seconds, before he felt his tongue lick up his cunt firmly. It was a shock, certainly, and Byleth cried out as his hands buried themselves in Dimitri’s hair. 

Again, Byleth was reminded Dimitri was still there, still conscious. If he was just doing this for his own pleasure, genuinely, there would be no need for this, no need to go down on him, lapping at his lips eagerly, rolling his tongue against Byleth’s clit. It was honestly much better than any hurried and clumsy attempts at pleasuring himself that he resorted to. Dimitri’s mouth was so much hotter than his hands could ever be. Wet, firm, wild, a fire lit up in his eye that Byleth recognized as similar to the look he had back in the Holy Tomb five long years ago, but… Different somehow. Better. 

He was crying out Dimitri’s name in ecstasy, his voice growing more and more hoarse. Dimitri didn’t show him a shred of mercy, however, moving his tongue faster and harder, only taking breaks to lick up him long enough to seemingly make his body more sensitive and wanting. As it started to reach its peak though, the breaks of slow, hot licks up him ceased and he was mercilessly rolling around his clit with passion, eye twisted shut in focus, humming against him. 

“Dimitri~!!” He screamed out his name so loudly he honestly feared the rest of the ceiling will begin crumbling down on them, but it doesn’t, thankfully. His back arched, legs wrapped firmly around Dimitri, and the prince of lions did not even let him catch gasping breath as he forced Byleth to ride it out, his tongue still teasing at his hyper-sensitive body. 

Thoroughly pleasured, all of his joints feel weak, and he didn’t know if he could stand. Dimitri pulled up and gave him just enough time to recover as he began the work of marking up Byleth’s thighs next with messy sucking and bite marks. He could only whine weakly at the treatment, trying to focus on the world around him. 

Just as his head was beginning to clear from his orgasm, Dimitri pulled himself up, only briefly admiring the flustered mess he made of his old professor, before he rolled Byleth onto his cloak laying beside them and raised his hips. 

“Beasts,” Dimitri began, undoing his own pants to free his straining cock, and laying across Byleth. “Should fuck as beasts do.” A shiver ran down Byleth’s spine. The closest he has heard a swear fall from the prince’s pretty lips was the word “damned”, but to hear him utter out the word ‘fuck’ with his cock sliding against his dripping hole was enough to make him go mad. 

He didn’t ask, as he slipped inside, if this is Byleth’s first time. Perhaps he didn’t want to know, afraid of the act being any more emotionally intimate. Perhaps he simply assumed the answer was no, as Byleth groaned into the rough fur of his cloak and took inch after inch inside without complaint. Perhaps he did not care, and was content to imagine whatever he wished to make the experience more palatable. 

Byleth, of course, knew the answer. While he had not been above drunken kisses at inns while he traveled, attractive men and women alike eager to show him how to french kiss, wondering if they could make that stoic face flush and his cock aroused, sex was never on the table. Probably because they all failed to get the results they wanted, and Byleth had other things to worry about than building trust enough to be bare in front of people he would probably never see again. 

He wondered, biting down on the fur, if Dimitri was the same. If this was Dimitri’s first time, or if in the five years they’ve been apart Dimitri laid with another and took them just like this.

Dimitri wasn’t too rough to start with, which Byleth was grateful for. While the orgasm had done an excellent job making him soaking wet and slick, Dimitri was still huge. His cock was stretching him more and more as he thrusted, his body slowly giving way to accommodate him. It was so thick too, delightful in how much it almost hurt each thrust powerful and slow. He got deeper and deeper though, with every thrust, until he hit Byleth’s cervix in a way that he never thought could feel quite that good. 

As he picked up speed, panting, Byleth didn’t have to worry about keeping his hips up any longer as Dimitri had now taken over that. His hands were firm on his hips, nails digging in and Byleth knew he’d be seeing the crescent shaped bruises for a while after this. Now freed somewhat, he shifted his arms so one was supporting his head more comfortably, slipped under the fur so he could still inhale the scent of leather and Dimitri, his other sliding down so he could shamelessly rub his own clit. 

This is risky, he reminded himself, listening to Dimitri growl and moan in delight. How risky, he didn’t know, as he hadn’t bothered yet to find out. He always assumed if he were to do this with someone they would have time to talk, to prepare, giving Byleth ample time to research it. But he assumed from talks in villages of women trying for months to have a child that it shouldn’t be that bad. 

Though perhaps that was just him trying to stop the thoughts making his body ache in desire as another orgasm approached.

He wanted, every time his judgement started to lapse as Dimitri ground his cock so deeply into him, to have his child. He wanted the cathedral floor and blue cloak to be Dimitri’s bed, the prince pinning him down to fuck him long and hard just like this, whispering tenderly about how much he wanted Byleth and only Byleth to carry his child, his heir. He was getting wetter every second it crossed his mind, and it was getting harder and harder to reason with the thoughts as Dimitri’s hips thrust against his own, both holes of his body producing such unholy sounds in such a holy place.

“Dimitri~” He moaned out, without a care that Dimitri didn’t moan out for him. He had half a mind to warn the prince to pull out, to think clearly, but he couldn’t. He couldn’t pry himself from such dirty, terrible thoughts of the prince knocking him up, breeding him, taking his body for himself completely. He and the prince were not even married--could never be married as archbishop and king--but Byleth wanted nothing more than to bear that child. He wanted it so badly his eyes were watering, mouth drooling, orgasm just threatening to overtake him once more in bliss. 

Dimitri’s voice was rising too, getting louder and louder, before he spoke. 

“Take every last drop!” It was loud, rough, and commanding as his hand tugged Byleth’s head into position to bite down right where his neck and shoulder met. It’s more than enough to send Byleth crashing over the edge as white hot heat poured out into him, so very deep inside him. 

He did take every last drop, gasping and moaning in delight, thankful that the cloak is muffling all of his words of passion. Dimitri didn’t need to hear some of the things falling from Byleth’s lips, his begs for Dimitri to use him, to fuck a baby into him, to knock him up with the next prince of Faerghus. He doesn’t even want to hear those sinful words himself, but he couldn’t stop moaning them if he tried. 

Dimitri waited, catching his breath, before pulling out. Byleth whined in protest, feeling his seed drip out of his abused hole. He wanted it inside, he wanted it so very badly. Then, Dimitri fliped him over onto his back, silencing any words that would have tumbled out with a kiss. 

Byleth wondered if he’ll continue, or if he just wanted to messily explore Byleth’s mouth now that he’s fucked the professor raw. He clung to the blond either way, letting him use Byleth as he saw fit, as promised.

Eventually, Dimitri parted, one hand almost tenderly caressing the back of Byleth’s thigh, staring him down. His bright blue iris looked almost clear now, warm with satisfaction and--

No, Byleth won’t make assumptions on Dimitri’s feelings toward him. Not right now. Not after this, this moment of release, this moment of nothing more than give and take, of two beasts fucking. To believe there was requited love after all these years would be too much for his heart to bear when this all came crashing down on him the following day. 

Dimitri rose first, climbing off him to put his own armor back on in silence. Byleth laid there for a few more moments, fingers running along the embroidered cloak under him, before he too rose to redress and slide his armor back on. His legs still felt weak, but he would survive the trek back to his room in the dorms. After redressing, Dimitri sat on a pew, and once prepared to go, Byleth walked toward him once more. He stroked the blond locks with care, and Dimitri didn’t smack him away. He leaned into the touch ever so slightly, and Byleth enjoyed the last bit of affection he knew he would get away with, before retreating out of the cathedral. 

As expected, the next day the prince was cold as always, barely responding to Byleth or even Rodridge. It was as if the events the previous night had never happened, and Byleth would have been inclined to believe it was all a passionate dream if not for the marks riddling his body and the cum he needed to clean from himself the next morning. But that was to be expected, this was war, and their crown prince only really wanted one thing: the Emperor’s head in his hands, severed from her shoulders.

Soon, they would march to Gronder field where inevitably a battle awaited them. He didn’t have time to think about anything else besides training drills, planning supplies, and battalions. 

Besides, he mused to himself, it wasn’t as though anything were to have come of that night anyways.  

Chapter Text

Dimitri did tend to act as though nothing ever happened, cold to him and barely speaking, at times more content to pretend as though Byleth was not there at all. Still, Byleth continued to worry and watch him, intending on making sure the prince was at least somewhat safe, that he was eating, that he was getting something resembling sleep. 

And when there was no one else around, Dimitri would find him at times. In the dead of night, after observing Dimitri in the cathedral, he would turn to find the man quiet as a ghost behind him as he returned to his room. 

“Let me in.” He would command, eye clouded. Byleth would only nod.

“Of course.” He replied knowingly, as Dimitri shoved him into the room and locked the door behind him. It was more dignified than the cathedral floor, he would admit, but also he had to be more quiet here, biting into his own pillow to silence his cries. 

The more time it went on like this, messy, heated exchanges with no further words of things such as endearment or love, the better Dimitri got. Byleth couldn’t even tell if it was intentional or not, or if Dimitri simply enjoyed the act of it. He kissed and bit on his thigh with hunger, riddling him with more and more marks. Then, the prince would go down on him once more, lapping at him with glee, even at times sliding his tongue inside him or fingering him nice and hard while sucking on his clit. Goddess, the things the man could do with his mouth… He always looked satisfied too, before moving up so Byleth could lap and suck at his cock as well, but Dimitri would never let him suck. Just enough to pleasure him slightly as Byleth came down from the high of his orgasm, though Byleth was always more than happy to return the favor.

And of course, sex was rough and hard, Dimitri pounding into him rhymically. It was mind-numbing, wonderful, and satisfying.

Well, not emotionally. But close enough.

And every time, he came inside. Byleth never bothered stopping him in the act, as both himself and Dimitri seemed to be enjoying it. Byleth especially. 

Still, one evening as Dimitri put his armor on once more, Byleth spoke up while laying in bed. 

“... It is risky, to do… That inside.” He felt so awkward to say, tumbling out of his lips clumsily. But still, it was his duty to remind him, wasn’t it? Byleth was still a teacher, someone to guide him. 

“... So what?” Dimitri replied, strapping his armor on his thighs. “It matters not.” 

Byleth felt cold at that, covering himself with the blanket. 

That’s right. He was here to be used as Dimitri saw fit. He knew himself that Dimitri was not that far gone when he was like this, he knew what he was doing. There were only two ways this ended: either Dimitri dying after gaining his revenge, or Dimitri leaving him to lead his country and taking a proper wife and having a proper family. There was no room for Byleth, and no need to get attached to him or care about any child they produced. Those were the conditions he knew from the start.

“You’re right.” Byleth replied. “Do as you please.” 

Dimitri grunted in response, now strapping his chest armor back on. Always, always, only his armor came off and his pants unzipped enough to fuck him. Nothing more. 

He left after that, Byleth dozing off under the blankets still filled with his seed and covered in his marks. A routine he would adjust to. 

--

After the battle at Gronder, Rodridge was lost, and Dimitri mourned. Mourned in a way that was painful for Byleth to see. In a way that was self destructive, violent, and heartbreaking. 

So he offered him comfort and solace, however he wanted. He offered him the only words he had and the warmth of his hands and gentle kisses. 

They didn’t have sex, but that didn’t matter. What mattered was Dimitri was still alive, and here, safe in Byleth’s arms, drinking up his warmth. It was more intimate than the sex they would have anyways, more comforting, more gentle. He was relieved Dimitri accepted at all, instead of dying, and he wasn’t going to fail him now.

The next few days, Dimitri began to open up to the others, apologies spilling from his lips instead of growls and curses. He asked for forgiveness, and asked to lead them, which they all accepted, and with a cheer they turned their sights away from Edelgard for the first time in months and instead sought to take the kingdom capital. 

He was relieved that Dimitri was back on the right path, the path Rodridge wanted him on, a path of something besides reckless bloodshed and self destruction. He started sleeping more, eating properly, and training with the others. 

But another part of him was slightly disappointed. He exchanged kisses and nights of passion for simple nods and praise. At times their hands would brush, and their eyes would linger longer than they should, or Dimitri stood closer than necessary. But that was all, and nothing more. That was all there could be, the acknowledgement of a teacher and student, the trust bond of a king and his advisor. There was distant there between them so suddenly, and it felt as though something had been ripped from him. 

Foolish, getting so attached. He offered himself to be used by Dimitri as he saw fit, and now he was upset he was being tossed aside when no longer needed. Foolish, foolish, foolish. 

Still, he had the pleasure of watching Dimitri smile, occasionally laughing with the others. Mercedes, Marianne, and Flayn would dote on him as well, and he would return with kindness and comfort the best he could, and Byleth wondered briefly if any of them would become the next queen of Faerghus. Jealousy bubbled in his stomach at the thought, which he quickly tried to squash and muffle, instead faking a smile to match the scene as though nothing was wrong in his mind.

--

It’s after they took Fhirdiad, a delightful celebration going on, that Byleth felt particularly weak. He’s felt off for the past few weeks, but now his nausea was reaching his peak as he was surrounded by nobles and workers in the ballroom with party favors and alcohol. He hurried out suddenly feeling blisteringly hot and dizzy to a balcony, before vomiting indecently over the edge and into some hedges. Disgusting, but he was at least glad it wasn’t in front of anyone to raise concern.

“Professor! Are you alright?” A familiar voice called out, a blur of black, blue, and blond in his vision.

Nevermind. 

“... Fine.” He replied, though he still felt painfully hot. He would simply get himself to his bed to rest, as it seems as though he had fallen ill. Perhaps he should have been more careful when eating rations…

“You are not.” Dimitri’s hands were on him now, trying to hold him steady. The last thing Byleth wanted was that, however. He couldn’t live with himself if he made a mess of the crown prince here, at a celebration in his honor. 

“Just ill, that’s all.” He has gotten ill very rarely in his life, a blessing he took for granted. Maybe it was catching up on him by coming at such inconvenient times now. 

“Then let’s have Manuela look you over.” Dimitri was supporting him still. “She should be in the infirmary still. I’ll take you over there.” Byleth groaned, but compiled. If seeing Maneula would put his worries at ease for something minor like food poisoning, then he would. After that, he’ll retire to his room in peace and the prince can return to his people. 

“Please, Professor Manuela, Professor Byleth is unwell. He needs help.” Manuela was in the infirmary, as Dimitri expected. He was lucky there is no one else here at the moment and that Manuela was not drunk yet, having only just poured herself a glass of wine. She is annoyed by the interruption of her reward after a long day of patching people up and healing, until she saw how pale Byleth is and the sweat on his brow, as well as the worried look from Dimitri. 

“Alright, let me look him over while you return to the party.” Manuela replied, laying Byleth down after after setting her glass of wine to the side. Dimitri was still tense, before Byleth looked up at him with a glare.

“Return, Dimitri. You can at least tell the others I’m ill and getting treatment.” He frowned in response, before sighing. 

“Very well, but… I am worried about you, Professor. I don’t want anything to happen to you.” He did leave, slowly and reluctantly. Byleth heard his footsteps down the hall after the door shut, before he finally relaxed into the bed.

“So what seems to be the issue?” Byleth was relieved his nausea was subsiding slightly, the waves of it getting smaller as he laid down. Maybe now that whatever was upsetting his stomach was gone, he’ll recover quickly. 

“Nausea, vomiting, dizziness.” He listed simply, eyes shut. 

“Well, that could be any number of things.” Manuela sighed. “But the prince sure does look worried, so I should check you over properly. Besides, it’s been a few years since you had a proper physical anyways. 

He’s had one physical by her, after gaining his position as teacher here. He assured her it wasn’t necessary, but Rhea had insisted on it and assured him the utmost confidentiality with the faculty. Looking back on it, she probably knew from the beginning the history of his gender, given she was the one who helped his mother give birth to him in the first place. 

Manuela let him rest, instead looking over some minor wounds that were healing, old scars to ensure they didn’t obscure his movement, and then began the process of resting a hand a few inches over his body, and it began to glow. She began it over his head at first, focusing around his ears and mouth to ensure it was no infection causing the nausea, before moving down his chest and his stomach. As she passed his stomach and moved to his lower abdomen, she paused, her brows furrowing.

“... Did you find what has been causing it?” Manuela’s hand stopped glowing, settling into her lap.

“... Potentially…” She had a deep frown settled on her face. “Tell me, Byleth,” Byleth was expecting her to ask him what it is he ate, but a different question came instead. “When was the day of your last menstrual cycle?” 

Hm. With the business of war, he hardly thought of that. If it came, it came, more so an uncomfortable reminder and annoyance now compared to all the death and bloodshed he had to deal with on the battlefield. It was only now that it was brought up that he realized… 

He hasn’t had one since before Rodridges death and Dimitri’s recovery. He couldn’t place the day exactly, it had been so long but… It was closer to the start of the month just before Dedue returned. 

“... A few weeks before the battle for The Great Bridge of Myrddin.” Manuela’s eyebrows only furrowed further. 

“Byleth…” Maneula looked back at the glass of wine over at the other table off to the side briefly. She’ll definitely need alcohol after this. “There isn’t… A way for me to say this easily.” She sighed heavily. “Byleth, you do know you have been… Sexually active, right?” 

It clicked. It suddenly clicked in a way he didn’t want to. While he was mentally counting over the rations and whose job it was to cook and pack the rations he ate and how old they might have been, the dots connected. 

His face went pale again and his eyes shot wide open.

“I…” He swallowed, nausea and panic running through him, “Wait—Are you—Are you certain?” He didn’t sit up quite yet, instead his hands gripping the cot until his knuckles went white. 

“Fairly certain. There’s a specific… Anomaly of energy that only shows up with that kind of thing, distinctly not a disease.” She stroked some of his bangs away from his damp face. “If you want, I have some herbs that ease nausea. And also I could make a remedy to… Terminate it.” 

“No!” Byleth sat up, a bit too fast, gripping her hand tight. The older woman jumped a bit in surprise. “No I… I want…” His other hand moved to grip his tunic where it laid across his thigh tighty. “I would… Like to keep it. The herbs for nausea are enough for now.” 

“Of course, Professor.” Maneula was not skilled with this sort of thing. She never wanted children of her own at all, let alone understand why other people would want them. Especially Byleth, when it could… Reveal things she was certain he didn’t want out in the open. They were also at war, and fighting in battle while carrying a child was something she would never advise. “Those are fairly simple, some ginger and mint to chew on. You can even inhale the scent to help, and I have a little charm to help with dizziness.” She removed it from her wrist. She could do with the hangover dizziness for now, when Byleth needed it more. Byleth placed it on himself, as Manuela helped him up. “I’ll deliver the herbs to you tomorrow. Get some rest and drink some water tonight.” Byleth nodded, getting up and walking toward the door.

“Professor,” She began, and Byleth turned to look back at her. “Do you mind if I… Ask who the father is?” Byleth looked at her, not breaking eye contact for several long moments. 

“I do mind.” He replied simply, before walking out the door. 

As he turned, there was a familiar sight down the hall from him, leaning against the wall. He frowned. 

“I told you to return to the party.” Dimitri pushed himself off the wall, his face still twisted in concern.

“I could not… Force down my concern. At least allow me to escort you to your room.” He uncrossed his arms as Byleth approached, slightly relieved to see he was steadier on his feat. “What did Manuela say it was?” 

Byleth did not allow his face to crack, remaining stoic like it had so many years ago.

He could not reveal it. If he did, Dimitri would know it who was the father, and it would push more distance between them. Instead of just professor and student or a king and his tactician, he would be nothing more than an embarrassment. An old fling that should have never happened. A forgotten ‘mistress’. He said so himself, it did not matter the consequences of those nights. Bringing them up now would be the death of this relationship he had with him now, as lacking and incomplete as he felt it was. And he wanted—needed that right now. Any more distance and he would crack. Dimitri was already going to leave him and move on with his life, the least he could do was cling to this with everything he had. 

“An ear infection.” He stated. “Not too serious, but it set off my balance. I’ll need to take medicine to clear it up and use herbs to mitigate the nausea. But it’s hardly anything serious.” Dimitri’s shoulders slumped completely in relief.

“Thank the Goddess…” He muttered under his breath. “I… Don’t know what I would do if something happened to you, Professor.” His smile was warm and inviting. “After all you have done for me, I…” He stepped forward, one hand resting on his shoulder, “I want you to be around for a long time.” His expression was warm and inviting, something shimmering in his eye that Byleth tried his best to ignore. Again, he couldn’t get too caught up in imagining what that might be, pushing his own wants and desires onto Dimitri’s emotions. That was how he was going to get himself hurt even further. 

“I will be. I will not fall from something so trivial.” Dimitri chuckled.

“Yes but,” He glanced down at the ground. “You can always rely on me if you need to, Professor. In a way, for months, I was… Relying on you. Relying on everyone but…” He swallowed, his hand tightening. “I cannot thank you enough for that. For believing in me. So if there is anything, anything at all, I want you to rely on me. Even if you’re just sick, I don’t want you to feel as though you have to act strong just for my sake.” 

That tender expression and the way his thumb ran against his armor made his heart give in the slightest. The temptation was certainly there, to tell Dimitri the truth, that their union had produced a child he wanted more than anything and that Dimitri didn’t have to recognize it or want it either. 

But he couldn’t. He knew already how that ended for him. 

This was enough. This gaze full of warmth with a delicate, slightly lopsided and awkward smile but genuine all the same, his eyes glistening in candlelight, and the scent drifting off his cloak… It was so much less than those nights of passion and so much more all at the same time. But he wanted more of it all the same. He couldn’t bare that blue iris growing cold at him and his smile turning into a scowl quite yet. 

“I know, Dimitri.” He placed his hand on top of Dimitri’s, and missed the way he swallowed at the action. “I appreciate it as well, but it is nothing to be concerned over. I’m a grown man.”

“Y… Yes. Right you are.” He laughed once more, letting his hand slip off. “Forgive me, though, if I worry just a bit.” He smiled, before turning. “Let me take you to your room. Dedue already knows I will be helping you and informed the party, so don’t worry about that. I’ll return once you’re settled. 

Chapter Text

Claude had requested their help on behalf of the alliance. The capital city would soon be under siege by a marching army, and they had a limited window to arrive; roughly three weeks. Due to this, they left Fhirdiad after only a few more days. Several of the blue lions were at a loss. They had just returned home, and wanted to visit family and check in on their home territories, but there was no time. They needed to return to Garreg Mach to prepare for marching to the Alliance.

Byleth was not looking forward to the march back himself, still struggling with nausea. “Morning sickness”, he understood it, yet why was it always in the afternoon and evenings, keeping him awake? Regardless, he knew the longer they delayed, the more the others would worry for him and the more time he left to be discovered. The last thing he wanted was Dimitri discovering he was with child, but equally more humiliating would be the whole military doting on him despite how much Dimitri would despise it. Even if it was a bastard prince, a stain on the reputation of the nation, he knew the other Blue Lions would relegate him to being off the field exclusively, worried about every little injury. They didn’t have time for him to be laying in bed pathetically sipping tea and holding his stomach, they needed him involved. 

He did, however, spend more time relaxing. He also sent them on missions as well, hunting, chasing down bandits, and gathering information, but he avoided the battlefield for now.

“Professor,” Caspar approached him, with the bandits now chased off and their items confiscated. “You good? You’ve been in the back this whole time.”

“He’s right,” Mercedes now joined him. “You usually lead us on the battlefield. Is your ear really alright?” Byleth sighed. 

“I am perfectly fine.” They didn’t seem content with his answer, so he continued. “This is just practice, the upcoming battles may get incredibly chaotic, and I want to test your skills without me.” He didn’t understand why they were so suspicious, he has sent them off to complete missions on their own plenty of times, in order to give them training on new abilities and practice formations without him. Was he really acting that strange? 

“Well, if you want to, I can make you some ginger candy!” Mercedes offered with a gentle smile. Byleth didn’t smile in return, simply nodding. 

“It would be appreciated.” Honestly, chewing on herbs and inhaling the scent of ginger was growing tiring. While he didn’t like candy, something sweet to round it out would be more than welcomed, but he didn’t want them to worry. The others eyed him, before turning away, while Mercedes’s eyes, kind and gentle as always, seemed to stare right through him. Another pang of guilt ran up his spine. Of course she of all people could see something was not what it seemed, but this wasn’t the time to tell her. “For now, let’s return. You have all earned a hot meal and plenty of rest.” The group laughed and cheered. Their morale had been better since the war seemed to make a turn around. After assisting the Alliance, they would march to Enbarr after all, and win this war once and for all. 

--

For most of his life, Byleth had one kind of dream, being alone with Sothis. As Sothis was now absorbed, unable to criticize him or give her own thoughts on the war, he was left alone with just his thoughts.

Perhaps it was the hormones coursing through him or the pressure to maintain his secret, but either way, his dreams were not pleasant. 

He was alone, in the monastery. Around him were people constantly shuffling, acknowledging him but simply passing him by. Clerics, priests, and students, all without a care. Not malicious, just passive. Normally he would be delighted by the sight of the school open and operating again with no conflict at the monastery, no war meetings, but… 

He felt empty, as he drifted around. He felt so painfully empty and isolated. He kept looking for a familiar face, not seeing any. None. Not until he finally wandered to the cathedral. 

There, standing by rubble, was Dimitri. A sight he has seen so many times. A sight he welcomed in its familiarity. The question box was empty for him, but Dimitri was still waiting, standing there. He approached, slowly, a small smile tugging on his lips. Perhaps they’d talk, talk about why Dimitri was here, about the war or kingdom, about… Anything.

He called out Dimitri’s name, and the other turned and smiled.

“Ah,” He was smiling passively. “I didn’t think you’d come.” 

“It’s always nice to see you, Dimitri.”

“Yes, well… I just came here for a visit.” That didn’t seem right. What did he mean just a visit? “I should have to leave, attend to my business for the kingdom.” 

“W-wait,” Byleth’s voice cracked. “Is there anything I can help with?” Dimitri only offered a small, empty, polite smile. 

“There’s nothing I need help with. Why don’t you just go take a break? The war is over professor.” The cathedral around him seemed to darken. “No one needs your training anymore, or your advice for battle. You’ve taught us all well enough. It’s over.” Byleth’s blood felt frozen in his veins, and despite how much he tried to speak, nothing came out. Nothing at all.

He sat up from bed quickly, gasping. 

Why?

Why when he has been plagued with so much death, did that dream disturb him? It didn’t make any sense, he should be happy this war was over. He hated this endless battling, the constant worry over his students, the risk of losing any of them! He hated it more than he could describe, so why was he fearing the end of this long, painful war? 

It dawned on him, as a single tear rolled down his cheek. It caught him by surprise even, he wasn’t expecting to actually cry over something so trivial and pointless as a little dream. He wiped the tear away quickly, before the hand fell to his stomach. 

What he was afraid of wasn’t the war ending. He was afraid of not being needed anymore. That all of his students were just going to move on, every he knew would just… Move on. Sothis was gone, his father was gone, and if there was no reason to keep him around then… He would fall to the wayside. Certainly, if Rhea was alive, she might have plans for him but he was still suspicious. He wasn't sure how much of her future plans he had in mind when she had already made his life so miserable in her own way.

What he really wanted was to be needed by someone he loved. He wasn’t content to just be kept by their side passively, to just exist there. If he was just there, he was replaceable when someone else with purpose came. None of them were students anymore, so they didn’t need their teacher. When the war was over, none of them needed him to be an advisor. 

He laid back onto the pillow, face stern, hand still resting on his stomach. 

He really needed this child to stay sane at this rate. If there was no one else who needed him, a child would. A child would not simply outgrow their parent that easily.

A selfish desire. A selfish reason to have a child, he was aware, and the guilt built up in his throat. 

He closed his eyes once more, trying to will the painful feeling away, and slept.

--

The battle in Derdriu was chaotic and confusing. It seemed as though the Alliance soldiers were fighting almost incoherently, scattering and reforming at random, as though they had no plan. Except, regardless of where they were, they seemed to be forming paths for the Kingdom army to go deeper into the city. 

As Byleth suspected from Claude, riding slightly behind the front on horseback. In fact, he had doubts if this really was desperation, or just one of the leader's many plans. Though what else he would have in store, Byleth had no idea. 

But what else he wasn’t expecting was Arundel, riding up into battle as well. It seemed the noble was dangerous in battle, much more so than he was expecting from the sounds of him before. He was calculative, skilled in dark magic, and was hell bent on getting Claude’s head.

As they journeyed deeper into the city, the beautiful waves of the sea were a stark contrast to the blood soaking the streets. Claude was riding on his wyvern, assisting them as his men flew and ran into formation around the troops of Arundel, now trapped in a bottleneck formation. Arundel didn’t seem to notice, or if he did, he simply did not care. Instead, he pushed onward, and just as Byleth was about to speak to Claude in the midst of battle as his wyvern lowered toward the ground, Byleth saw the man on horseback galloping up at a different angle. Because he couldn’t breach the wall of troops to the Alliance leader quite yet, he seemed he was more content to go after the Prince of Faerghus, who trying to keep that line strong. While Dimitri knocked away his troops with ease, Arundel prepared a spell, and Byleth turned sharply away from Claude.

“Ah, how cold tea--” Claude stopped as he saw what Byleth was going after, and watched as the man charged full speed at the line of troops, quickly stood up off the horse, and leapt with the force leftover of the horse quickly stopping in front of the wall of men. This sent him flying above them expertly, adrenaline pumping through him, and while midair he grasped the sword of the creator from its hilt, and swung. With Arundel grinning sadistically, just moments before casting his magic on the prince, the end of the creator sword pierced from him. He turned, shocked, the magic dissipating as blood gushed from the wound, the sword removing itself from his chest. As the sword drew back into its proper shape, Byleth prepared himself for the landing as now even Dimitri was watching in surprise, before rolling as he nearly hit the ground. He wasn’t too far up that it would cause any damage, but the roll really disoriented him. Once finished, he could only barely raise his head to realize he was now beyond the formation of men, and while he had dealt a lethal blow to the leader of the Empire troops, they could make the playing field equal and kill him. He debated using the divine pulse as his head was spinning, but as the red clad soldiers approached, a blur of blue blocked them. The Alliance defense wall as well opened up, before moving into formation as Claude gave a signal in the skies, and the Blue Lions joined the fray.

“Professor!” Dimitri turned, now that the combat was passing, “You could have been killed.” 

“And I was not…” Byleth mumbled, relieved he didn’t have anything to eat before battle as he was certain it would have come back up by now. The combination of gore and death on the battlefield, the scent of blood, and the roll had made him feel positively sick. Dimitri kneeled to help the other man up, supporting him with ease, while Byleth groaned. In a few minutes, he would be upset by the fact he was being helped. In a few minutes, he would be angry at himself for doing something to make himself so vulnerable and weak, when he was supposed to be strong in front of everyone. In front of Dimitri.

But this was now, and goddess, he wanted to enjoy Dimitri’s arm around his waist and the scent of leather from the animal fur on his shoulders. He wanted to enjoy the comfort in his vulnerability, selfishly, as he felt like his whole world was a daze.

“Still,” Dimitri sighed, leading him back to his stead. “You are ill, and should take care not to do things like that.” The horse came as Dimitri called, and Byleth continued to steady himself on Dimitri. “But… Thank you, Professor. You saved me, did you not?”

“You are my student.” He replied simply. Yes, student, not king or prince. Though in his heart he knew it was also because it would shatter more than if any other member of the Blue Lions met their end. It would hurt more, because of how badly he knew he had it for the tall haired blond. “It is my duty to ensure your safety.” 

Dimitri chuckled softly, as Byleth found his ground and settled himself onto the horse. With Lord Arundel dead, the battle was swift. It seemed Claude did have quite the plan in mind for the Kingdom Army to join him in, and as Byleth trained them, the others were doing quite well on their own. Medics from the Knights of Seiros looked him over as Dimitri ran back into the throws of battle, spear in hand, and Byleth watched as they cast a few spells on his minor injuries. 

Byleth rejoined them as the battle came to an end, knocking down several of the battalion leaders before the army retreated, now down several units. The city had not taken many losses, having all been boarded up or evacuated. Claude was prepared to keep them safe. Byleth was impressed he grew into a fine, if not sly, leader even without his guidance. It was much nicer to see than what had become of the girl with ribbons in her hair. 

It was after that Claude barely gave them a few moments of rest before hopping back onto his Wyvern, and leaving the Alliance to Dimitri, before flying off. Byleth’s jaw dropped open, but before Dimitri could really chew him out, he was gone. Where to, that was a mystery for most of the Blue Lions and church. But Byleth had a feeling it had something to do with the man’s mysterious past and knowledge of Almyran customs. It was still shocking though that he would leave the Alliance to be absorbed into the Kingdom after all of that trouble. Still, there wasn't much they could do about it with the leader now gone.

--

Back at the monastery, there was one thing really left to do: prepare for the march toward Enbarr, to end this war. Or well, that was what Byleth had assumed, until one evening Dimitri came to him as he worked on strategies. It caught him off guard, his heart catching in his chest when he opened his bedroom door to see Dimitri standing there with his armor removed. 

He didn’t want to hope, he didn’t want to indulge with all the “what ifs” racing through his head, but it was hard to ignore them. 

“Do you… Mind if I come in and speak with you, Professor?” Byleth swallowed, and nodded. 

“Come in.” He let Dimitri pass and shut the door behind him, briefly considering locking it. No, nothing would happen! Nothing would happen.

“I know that… I have not always been the best leader. Not by any measurement.” He sat down on Byleth’s bed slowly, cautiously, before sinking into the quilt as he saw he wasn’t reprimanded. “But there is something I wish to do. Something I want to do before we enter the Empire and begin our march to Enbarr.” Those thoughts were racing again with Dimitri bathed in nothing more than candlelight, his eyes warm with emotion deep in them.

“What is it you want, Dimitri?” Byleth crossed his arms subconsciously, keeping his voice level. 

“Professor, I want…” He looked pleading now.

“... As selfish as it is, I want to speak with Edelgard. I want to hear why she has started this war, and I want to try and reason with her. There is no reason this war needs any more bloodshed.” 

Byleth let out a sigh, his shoulders relaxing. Just as he expected, this was not some kind of silly love confession, Dimitri here to profess those moments of passion were something more. No, he was worried about her. Edelgard, Dimitri’s half sister, but before that, his first love. For all the talk of how much he despised her and would have her head, it was easy for Byleth to see as the war went onward he had some apprehension toward ending her life. He was kind, underneath it all, and wanted to believe in the best of people. Byleth didn’t doubt he genuinely thought words could end this, that she would be desperate enough on the losing side of this war now to see her life meant more than her ideals. 

Byleth knew that was nothing more than wishful thinking. With how headstrong Edelgard was, and how much she was willing to sacrifice, he doubted she would turn the whole thing around because Dimitri agreed to hear her out. If she even showed up to this proposed meeting he would be surprised. But still, Byleth also knew that no matter how much Byleth told Dimitri this, Dimitri would spend his whole life wondering if anything would have changed.

“If that is what you wish to do, I support it.” Byleth replied. Dimitri’s eyes lit up further. It seems he was prepared to be rejected. “Just know it is potentially dangerous. But if that is what you wish, I want to support you. It is best we at least hear out her reasons, if she shows up at all.” Her reasons might lead to fixing the large issues that lead to this happening in the first place, to prevent another war from taking place again. 

“I agree, I just…” Dimitri sighed. “She wasn’t behind Duscur, I know that know. Maybe I always knew, but… At the very least, she worked with them. I cannot fathom why she would work with the same people who killed her mother, why she would pile up so many bodies as the foundation of the future she hopes to bring…” Dimitri’s hands balled into fists. “I have so many questions I want answered, and even the chance to get some answers is all I ask, Professor. I know everyone else would deny such a request as childish or believe it is simply a plot of mine to kill her. But I do want to hear her out. I need to, even.” There was that look in his eyes again, so warm with conflicting emotions and love. 

That unwanted emotion came bubbling up inside Byleth again, uncalled for, and selfish. Envy boiled in his stomach and stained his mouth with its bitter taste, but he did not react. Why should he be so upset that Edelgard was his first love, and not Byleth? Byleth was never a candidate for his affections, there was no second chance to be given to him like was being given to Edelgard. Those actions in the church and on the bed the prince was seated on were just in service of him, to care for him, and Dimitri returned the favor already by pleasuring the ex-professor. It was nothing more, he reminded himself, nothing more. 

“I’m aware.” Byleth stepped forward, uncrossing his arms to pet Dimitri’s head gently. A gesture he had done before in class when Dimitri would succeed on tests and Byleth would praise him. His blue eyes and lopsided, embarrassed smile easily chipped away at the numbness around Byleth’s heart before he fell completely for the prince. Dimitri seemed to be enjoying it, his cheeks and ears dusted lightly with pink.

“Thank you, Professor, for your support.” He rose, a delicate smile on his lips, and stood a bit closer to Byleth than he needed to. Still, Byleth calmed his nerves that tensed in anticipation, smiling back softly. “I cannot… Ever repay you for all you have done for me. Not in one hundred lifetimes.” One of Dimitri’s hands rested on his shoulder, and since he was not wearing his gloves, the only separation of skin on skin was his thin nightshirt. His thumb gently rubbed against the fabric and his skin under it, a warm smile Byleth struggled to return with only a soft, reserved one as he resisted the urge to swallow roughly, and the butterflies in his stomach grew. Ah, how touch starved these hormones pumping through him were making him, and what a nuisance they were. Before, he doubted he would have such an uncontrollable reaction for something so simple. 

“There is no need to pay me back, Dimitri.” Byleth replied. “I am following you because that is what I wish. I believe in you.” Dimitri’s eye widened slightly, swimming with warmth and feelings Byleth couldn’t quite read. “I am your teacher, after all.” With that, the emotions slowed to a simmer, and Dimitri’s eye shut in satisfaction. 

“I’ll send word to the empire. Get some rest, Professor.” With that, he left quietly, standing in the doorway slightly too long, before walking off back to his own room. Byleth locked the door behind him, looking back at the plans at his desk, before sighing. His stomach was a mess of fluttery knots and vicious envy, and there was no work he could do in that state. He submitted to letting that be the end of his evening, snuffing the candle out, before curling up under the blankets painfully aware of how empty it felt without the blond there. 

Chapter Text

It was a common day off the battlefield, preparing for their march. Common in that Dimitri was once more pacing the nearly empty meeting room well into the afternoon, lost in his thoughts.

To say there was a lot on the crown prince’s mind would be a massive understatement.

The talk with Edelgard had gone poorly. She did arrive, though she made it clear it was only because the professor had accompanied him. It seems as though she was intent, even so far into this war, to ask if the man had changed his mind. Would she really accept Byleth with how much he had decimated her troops? He was a man who had killed her generals, ended lives, took out hundreds if not thousands of battalions with his strategies and weapons. Why ask him to join? Were his actions not clear enough?

Still, she let him talk, and responded the same. It seemed as though she refused to compromise, and refused to explain herself further. Dimitri was still left wondering just what had shaped her sense of morality this way, what had turned her from the girl he was proud to know if only for a year into the hardened woman she was now. There were so many questions Dimitri had that he knew he would never have answers too. 

But if that and the war were the only major things on his mind, that would be one thing. In his hands he had a ring, belonging to his birth mother. When his father remarried he gifted Patricia a new ring, and entrusted the older ring to Dimitri. It was silver, with a large, bright blue sapphire in the middle, smaller clear crystals on either side. The detailing was superb, even with the Blaiddyd crest, their family seal, around those stones. 

Dedue watched him, knowingly, as the prince once again looked at the ring, gripped tightly between his fingers, before he began pacing again, tucking it away. It wasn’t long after the prince had recovered that he told Dedue everything between him and Byleth, about the night in the cathedral, and the nights in Byleth’s room, before their final affections after Rodridge’s funeral. 

Dimitri was still amazed after how rough and careless he had been, that Byleth would still take him soaking wet in the rain, dry him off, and hold him dear after everything that happened. The kisses peppering his face from the other man made him feel the most alive he had in years. He was so gentle too, easing every worry, wiping every tear, swearing he’ll be by Dimitri’s side as long as Dimitri wished… 

Oh, Dimitri wanted that. Dimitri wanted that so very badly. To have Byleth kiss him that tenderly even once more was much more than the prince ever deserved. He wanted so badly to indulge himself like that once more, to pull Byleth aside in the hall and kiss him once more, kiss him as gently as his body could allow him, and ask Byleth to come to the kingdom with him. Maybe the ring would be far too strong, too fast, despite all they had been through, but he could at least ask him to be his lover… 

Or well, he couldn’t. He felt intense shame and guilt over everything he did to Byleth. He remembered it all very well, every single night. In the cathedral, part of him was simply waiting, waiting for Bylet to refuse him, waiting for Byleth to tell him to stop. He was nothing more than a beast, a murderer, soaked in blood, yet defiling Byleth’s body as much as he desired. But again and again he would seek the other out to get some semblance of relief, to indulge in him. He loved listening to the other man moan as he ate him out, working every moan out he could despite their circumstances, and would allow Byleth to tease him, but never properly pleasure him with his mouth. He didn’t deserve it. He didn’t even deserve this at all, but he couldn’t stop. He wanted more and more of Byleth, and even still, after every time he came so close to cracking and letting him in, he would shove the professor away from him with harsh words. It was no wonder Byleth kept letting him back into his room at all. 

He couldn’t ask Byleth to be his lover after that, not when it seemed since Dimitri had stopped pursuing, Byleth didn’t respond back. Dimitri only wanted to do it all again if it seemed like Byleth genuinely wanted it instead of… Letting himself be ‘used’ as he put it back then. So many times he would approach Byleth, closer than necessary, silently asking for intimacy. Brushes of the hand, locking eyes, licking his lips, sliding his hand across his shoulder… But nothing. The man hardly reacted at all, and Dimitri couldn’t tell if that was better or worse than loudly and clearly rejecting him, slapping his hands away. Maybe that would be better, as Dimitri would at least know and accept the rejection he honestly deserved. Right now, all he could do was debate in his own head if he should be more forward, if he should kiss Byleth again, if he should get him flowers, or write him a letter outlining his feelings… But that fear always pulled him back in.

Dedue was, unfortunately, not of much help either. He simply told Dimitri to do what he feels is right, and reassures him the professor could never really reject him, but that wasn’t fair. If Dedue saw him in those moments, having such rough sex with the professor and saying such harsh words after, he would know that being so forward would be horrible! 

He sighed. Maybe when the war was over he would know if he should ask or not. They weren’t sure if Rhea was alive or not still, though they suspected alive and captured. If she was dead, Byleth would remain archbishop by default and would have his hands full learning to manage the church entirely without her there to guide him. He couldn’t ask him after that to leave but… If Rhea did take back her role as archbishop, and Byleth wasn’t sure what else to do, then maybe… Maybe he could simply ask Byleth to take on a role as his advisor. Surely if the man already despised him that much he wouldn’t have comforted Dimitri at all. 

“No, that won’t work…” Dimitri muttered aloud.

“What won’t work, your H--Dimitri?” Dedue asked, pouring Dimitri a cup of chamomile tea at the table. Dimitri snorted softly. Dedue was still adjusting to calling him just by his name when it was the two of them alone.

“It would be… Abhorrent of me to ask Byleth to come to the kingdom with me as an advisor of some sort just so I can question him later to be my… It would be disingenuous.” 

“Ah, perhaps.” Dedue set the teapot down. “Unfortunately, despite all the Professor has done for me, I believe I am blind to what really goes on in his heart. You are the only one I know of who may know about that.” Did he really? He felt like he only understood him less after all the passionate nights they shared. How could the man go from kissing him like that and having sex with him to just… Nothing at all. Was he only doing what he felt Dimitri needed? Did he really not care either way about sex with him? Or was it he did not care about who his partner was in the act, so long as he also got pleasure out of it? 

The man was a puzzle. A puzzle with pieces scattered and hidden all over the room. It made understanding him all the more difficult. 

“Your Highness--” Gilbert opened the door quickly. “We have word about the front. The Professor has already drawn up battle plans, so prepare tomorrow for the briefing. We march soon.” Hm, it seemed as though the war was rushing along, with Byleth pushing out plans and battle formations quickly. Of course he trained them and sent them on missions, and rested plenty as well, but… Dimitri was a bit concerned about the man overworking himself. He shouldn’t be rushing along faster than needed just for their sake. At this point, roughly the same amount of people will die regardless. Edelgard refused to call off her army, and was going to force them to cut their way through it. 

Perhaps it was time for another talk with him, though the professor tended to just brush off his concerns. It seemed as though something was troubling him, probably his illness and anxiety over the war, but Dimitri just wanted Byleth to rely on him a little more. Byleth had seen him at his most vulnerable, and Dimitri never felt he had the opportunity to see him in the same. Even if Byleth rejected his romantic feelings, just once Dimitri wanted Byleth to be open and to rely on him, to let Dimitri shoulder the burden of his despair. Even if it was just to complain to him about his ear and his nausea and illness. Even if it was just to speak with him about how hard the war was on him. He just wanted that closeness. He knew more than anyone how painful it was to never be vulnerable like that. 

--

In the end, the final blow to end Edelgard’s life was from Dimitri, and Byleth could tell how much it killed him to do so. Even in the final moments of them walking out to join the others who left to return to battle outside the castle or have their wounds tended to, Dimitri paused to go back. To hold her corpse and cry and scream and let himself fall, but Byleth grasped him by the hand, pulling him back. With just a look, Dimitri turned once more to face the door, nodding, and followed him outside of the castle littered with imperial bodies. 

Once more, the professor has pulled him back into the light. Once more, the professor has saved him, the warmth of his hands through his gloves giving him so much comfort and grounding him here. Here, in the land of the living, not the land of the dead. 

The battle in the capital eventually subsided, once the news of the Emperor’s death finally reached everyone. Many surrendered, though a few kept fighting. And Rhea was found alive, though in bad health and hardly steady enough to stand on her own. They would march back to Garreg Mach to celebrate, and to decide the organization of the church. 

The ring was still in his bag, and the question was burning inside him the whole march back and in the halls of the monastery. 

He needed to take that risk. To at least start to ask him what his future held, and then go from there. 

Byleth was out of his usual attire the whole dinner, Dimitri realized when he followed him out of the feast in the dining hall. Before, Dimitri simply assumed it was different armor more suitable for his mounted position in the back, but to see him outside of his usual coat and armor even at the monastery was unusual. Instead, he wore looser, more comfortable clothing, a large tunic over a less tight white shirt, and if Dimitri had to guess from the small swell of his chest under the cloak he was also wearing, his chest unbound. Perhaps he simply wanted to… Relax now that the war was over, but still, he looked so odd that Dimitri couldn’t help but think it over. 

“Professor,” He called, walking over to the shorter man. Byleth waited for him on his way out into the gardens to head back to his room. “I… I wanted to ask you what your plans were, now that the war is over.” He smiled brightly, standing close once more. 

“Why exactly?” Byleth asked simply, though not at all harshly. Instead he looked curious, one eyebrow slightly arched as he crossed his arms, concealing his chest with Dimitri so close. While the nausea has subsided, he feels even worse in other ways, slightly faint and weak, with the changes in his body becoming all the more apparent. He had two nosebleeds yesterday, binding his chest outright hurts, but he can put off laying in bed if it is to speak with Dimitri. After all, this could very well be the last time he will get to ever speak to the other man alone like this. 

“It’s just…” Dimitri’s cheeks are dusted pink, his heart racing, while Byleth can’t quite make it out. Evening is upon them already, with few lanterns out in these gardens, cloaking him and Dimitri in darkness. “You have done so much for me, if there is… Well if there is anything I can do for you after this, I want to know.” Dimitri tries to pull back, but his mouth just keeps on moving, words tumbling out as soon as his brain thinks of them, “I mean, all you would have to do is ask and you could come to the kingdom with me. Having you as an advisor would be a great honor, and if memory serves you did say when we first met that Faerghus was…” His cheeks grew darker, hands that were clenched into fists trembling. “M-My apologies, Professor, I just… Ah…”

Silence followed at first, as Byleth thought it over. It was strange, the prince asking him to come to Faerghus with him? While Byleth would enjoy being near him, the man he loved so dearly… Well, holding himself back here was hard enough. Even if he wasn’t pregnant, he couldn’t deny the attraction he felt to Dimitri, and he knew it was likely he would be selfish once more. Maybe he could hold back, he mused, for years and years he could hold back and help Dimitri select a wife, submitting himself to doing nothing more than supporting him as Pan did for Loog all those years ago, but…

Well the reality was he was with child. If he stayed in Faerghus, he if he stayed with Dimitri, the crown prince would soon discover his ‘advisor’ was pregnant with his child. He would truly humiliate the prince then, in his own home, before being rejected. He’d rather Dimitri just never know.

“A kind offer, Dimitri.” Byleth smiled softly, and Dimitri felt his heart skip a beat in excitement as he could hear just how warm his tone was. Was the professor really considering? Was the professor going to say yes? “Unfortunately, I promised Seteth I would remain and help Rhea until she is well enough to take over as Archbishop.” Dimitri’s heart sank, though… That wasn’t an outright no, was it?

“Then…” Dimitri took Byleth’s hand in his own, squeezing it, just as Byleth had done for him after the final battle. “After that, if… If you can…” Dimitri swallowed his anxieties. “If at all possible… Please consider coming to Faerghus. You will always be welcome there, in my castle. The offer always stands, Professor…” His voice dropped softly, Byleth’s hand in his own. He could see those eyes, inhumanely beautiful with their soft green glow looking up at him. The sounds of their companions eating with glee and crying tears of joy that the hard war was over seemed to fade into the background, as he watched, waiting. He squeezed a little tighter, licking his lips once more to invite him once again for a kiss.

Byleth did watch him, overwhelmed with emotion. He knew he couldn’t take that position. There would be too many questions, who did he have a child with and why, if it was really Dimitri’s, if they had a crest… Byleth could try to hide those facts, but Dimitri would probably learn if he got too close. 

Instead, Byleth allowed himself a moment of selfishness, wrapping his arms around Dimitri in a firm embrace. This was in fact probably going to be his last chance to do this ever, in this lifetime. He may as well take it, to memorize the scent of Dimitri the best he can, and give himself a moment of peace. 

Dimitri wraps his arms around him quickly. It isn’t a kiss, but it’s more than enough. He’s still so warm in Dimitri’s arms, pressed against his chest… 

Then, they pull away softly, smiling once more. 

“Allow me to walk you back to your room, Professor.” Byleth nods, and they do walk quietly. There, Dimitri lingers at his door as they say their goodbyes, waiting to see if Byleth would let him inside. He doesn’t, but the warmth from the hug will keep him more than satisfied for the evening. It wasn’t a no either, Byleth may very well turn up at his castle in a years time, greeting him with another embrace just like that… He laid down on his bed in his own room, content with the fact he made something resembling progress. Not a kiss, but a warm embrace. It was good enough for now. 

Byleth, on the other hand, threw the cloak over the chair in his room, and curled up. A few stray tears fell from his eyes in pain, but he refused anymore. He wouldn’t cry over Dimitri. Their paths were set in stone the moment Byleth agreed to keep the child. It was too late to go back. He didn’t need to cry when seeing Dimitri off. He needed to hold himself together just a bit more, until everyone went home.