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The Recluse and the Mercenary

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Bernadetta hurriedly shoved a spare outfit and a set of her pajamas into a small messenger bag. Her movements were marked with the sort of low-key anxiety that she had become accustomed to as her more acute panic had become far more managed. Her nerves buzzed inside of her. Nervous excitement. She could get used to this.

A kind smile on his face, Byleth placed a hand onto her shoulder. “Are you sure you’re comfortable doing this? I know you don’t like to leave the monastery.”

Bernadetta gave a firm nod in return. “I want to do this. I can handle it.”

The two were standing in their new accommodations. With their honeymoon coming to a close, they had made sure to move into the faculty rooms before they had to start rebuilding the monastery in earnest. The room they stood in now was much larger than Bernadetta’s old dormitory room that they had bunkered in together. A much larger bed dominated much of the space, though at this point the two hardly needed the space, given how closely they tended to cuddle at night. The relics of the two’s early courting were placed along the shelves, stuffed hedgehog and Byleth-bear reminding the two of the simpler times before the war. A few of Bernie’s favorite carnivorous plants from the garden had been re-potted and placed into their room, silent guards of the quiet couple. Their weapons were hung near the door. They hoped not to need to use them often, but as Byleth now held a valuable position, it was better safe than sorry.

Today, the two had little time to dawdle. The light of their post-wedding time of freedom was growing dim, and they had a little adventure they wanted to experience together before that time was up. With that in mind, the two were packing up what supplies they would need for a few-day excursion. Bernadetta packed her things into her messenger bag, and Byleth counted out the supplies they would need. He had to sneak these, not because he wasn’t allowed to have them, but because he didn’t want to tell Seteth about his plan until it was too late for him to scold him over it.

Their things collected, and the day still young, the two prepared to set out. A quick stop at the greenhouse allowed Bernadetta to ease her worries about her garden, making sure every plant was topped off with nutritional soil and water. After that, Byleth expressed their plans to Seteth, earning only terse words in response. Still, he had no power to stop the new archbishop, no matter how unwise, silly, or dangerous he thought their plan for recreation might be. Hand in hand, the two set out into the rolling hills that surrounded the monastery.

The plains and forests that surrounded the monastery were truly beautiful when one could take in their beauty without the constant threat of warriors ending your life. (The two had their weapons on them, but they prayed they’d remain unnecessary, as they heard or saw no one else as far as they could see). Almost as if symbolic of Fódlan’s rebirth, the ground they walked was flush with plants of all types. Bernadetta took great joy in explaining what she knew about each flower they came across, especially those she knew had romantic meanings in flower language.

“Red camellia.” she stated, matter-of-factly. With a quick pluck, she took the flower from the ground and placed it behind Byleth’s ear. “You are the flame in my heart.”

“Is that what the flower means, or are you just saying that?”

“It can be both.”

They spent some time laying together in the grass. They were finally started to become less tense. They could go out without fear of skirmish or battle. Perhaps that would fade as Byleth’s position as leader of the Church became more well known, or perhaps they could keep the peace in the land that had experienced such tumult.

As day passed into night, the two gazed up at the stars, their hands clasped. This area may not have been that far from the monastery, as they’d got their in less than a day, but it still felt like such a carefree adventure compared to what they’d done in the past.

Her voice quiet, but calm, Bernie spoke. “Thanks again for taking me out here, Bylie. I couldn’t have imagined doing this years ago. I couldn’t imagine being with you as anything more than a fantasy.”

He pulled her close. “I made a promise, didn’t I, Bernie-bear? Together, we’d see all the lands of Fódlan. Tonight is step one.” He thought for a moment, then laughed. “Though, we may have to plan out future excursions a little more. Seteth was quite cross with me. Plus, we’re going to be busy. Do you feel confident enough to be the archery tutor at the monastery?”

Instinctively, she flinched, before coming a bit back out of her shell. “Maybe I could start by doing a seminar? Teaching immediately sounds scary.”

“Whatever pace you find acceptable. I’ll support you however you need it. I love you, Bernie.”

“I love you too, Byleth.”

A kiss held exquisitely long, and they set up their tent, and cuddled together beneath the night sky. Tomorrow, they’d return home, the day after they’d begin setting the monastery up to reopen for students and churchgoers alike. Tonight, they were together, and that was all they needed.