In Fhirdiad, many say that the castle’s garden rivals no other. Seasonal blooms tended to by Dedue, roses colored royal blue, and several other snowy flowers and plants decorated the area like a natural bouquet.
Though none can compare to the gazebo found in the middle of the gardens, where the young Prince Dimitri sat, seeming to have a mock tea party. Gilbert sat in front of him, carefully watching the young man and making note of his posture and how he presented himself. “Do not worry of breaking your teacup, Your Highness,” the older knight advised. “You will only end up breaking it of your own accord.”
“R-right,” Dimitri responded. His body still visibly tense, he nevertheless took a small drink of the tea before relaxing a bit as he set down the cup. “It’s so warm…”
“Chamomile, Your Highness. King Lambert told me that was your favored tea.” It made Dimitri smile, and Gilbert couldn’t help but let out a warm laugh.
The sweet moment was soon interrupted by a young woman running from what seemed to be a knight trying to catch her, only to trip and fall on her face. Suddenly that warm smile was replaced by a distraught gasp as Dimitri quickly ran to help her with a panicked, “Byleth!”
Gilbert looked at the knight chasing her as Dimitri helped her up, guiding the blunette to his chair and helping her with scuff marks on her knees. “Pardon me, but what happened that caused such a frantic chase?”
“Miss Byleth was watching her Father train,” the knight began. “Despite his orders for her to stay away.”
“Again…?” Gilbert’s tone was exasperated, but there was a lighthearted hint in there. “It seems His Highness is rubbing off on her.”
“Rubbing off on me?” Byleth soon spoke up. “He hasn’t been rubbing on me.”
“‘Twas an expression, Miss Eisner,” Gilbert fondly said. “It means that you’ve been taking on some of His Highness’ habits. Like running off to the training grounds to see your Father.” The orange-haired man gave a smile to the two children before returning to his usual taciturn demeanor. “You need not worry. I will make sure she does not get into such trouble again.”
“Thank you, Sir Gilbert,” the knight said before returning to his duties, much to the young bluenette’s annoyance. Gilbert thought he saw a pout on her face.
“Now then, Miss Eisner,” the seasoned knight began. “Care to do me a favor?”
“Yes, Sir Gilbert?”
“You see, I’ve been teaching His Highness some etiquette on behalf of his Father,” Gilbert began. “However, there is one problem. I’m… I fear that I’m not doing a well enough job, given my age and expertise. Perhaps you would be a better partner for him.”
“I get to have tea with Byleth?” Dimitri suddenly piped up, glacial blue eyes sparkling with hope as he started to rock on his heels in earnest. A soft pink graced his cheeks, something that made Gilbert chuckle.
“If she accepts,” the older knight would say, turning to their guest. Byleth would think for a moment before quietly nodding, and Dimitri’s expression seemed to light up even further. “I suppose you have your answer, then, Your Highness,” Gilbert added on as he got up from his seat so the prince could replace him. The corners of Byleth’s mouth seemed to twitch upward as she watched.
“Now, then,” Gilbert began. “What do you do first when you invite a lady to tea?”
A warm smile seemed to spark as Dimitri sat upwards. “Lady Eisner, would you care for some tea?”
“I’d be honored, Your Highness,” Byleth responded, and Dimitri shakily took the teapot and poured tea for his guest.
“Would you like any cream or sugar, Lady Eisner?”
“No thank you, Your Highness. I prefer my tea to be pure,” Byleth responded with a warm look as she took a sip. “It’s quite relaxing,” she assessed after a few moments. “Thank you for inviting me, Your Highness.”
“No need, Lady Eisner,” Dimitri said. “... O-oh, um, sorry Byleth…” Gilbert let out a sigh at that.
“Normally one would continue addressing the lady in the proper manner… But I suppose since you are friends, I can turn my eye this one time,” Gilbert would speak up. “Now, then, Miss Eisner, perhaps you may show the fruits of your communication lessons.”
“Of course, Sir Gilbert,” Byleth would respond. “Say, Your Highne—“
“Dimitri! Please call me Dimitri!”
“Prince Dimitri, apologize for interrupting your guest,” Gilbert sternly chided, and the younger would bow his head. “Good. You must never interrupt a lady whilst she is speaking; a simple rule of courtship you must learn if you are to be a proper gentleman.”
“Sir Gilbert, it’s fine,” Byleth would calmly say. “I apologize for addressing you by title, Dimitri. I know you’d prefer not to be reminded of our statuses.”
“And I sincerely apologize for interrupting you, Byleth,” Dimitri responded. “N-now then, you were saying?”
“I was wondering what kind of sweets you like,” Byleth would say. “I.. I want to treat you for your hard work, after all.”
“Byleth, please, your company is already a treat,” Dimitri would compliment. “But as for favorite sweets… I enjoy fruit tarts.”
“Tarts, huh? I don’t really have a preference, but I like cheesecake… I think,” Byleth would respond. With a hum, the girl would take another sip of her tea.
“What kind of books do you like to read, Byleth? If I look hard, I can probably find something you like in the library,” Dimitri would say.
“Books I… Like?” Byleth would repeat, a finger to her chin. “... Well, I enjoy reading books with plenty of fights and action. Father said it’s the knight in me,” she’d respond. “What kind of books do you enjoy?”
“The same kinds as you, Byleth! I love tales of knights rescuing princesses from danger, or questing to find a mythical blade or jewel,” Dimitri chirped out, bringing a smile to Gilbert’s face. “Can we read one together sometime, then?”
“Of course,” Byleth responded, ever so calm and patient. “Perhaps we can even do it over tea. It sounds… soothing, to say the least.”
Dimitri smiled at that. “Y-you’d do this again with me? Have tea, I mean!”
“Whatever makes you the happiest,” the blue haired girl would respond, eyes softening. “Your company is a treasure that I’m honored to have.”
“I feel the same!” Dimitri chirped, eyes brightening considerably. “W-would you like to go to the library with me now, then? I’m sure we can find something new today, after the recent shipment of books we’ve gotten!” He’d add on.
“Ah, Prince Dimitri, what do you say before you end a tea party?”
The reminder made Dimitri tense for a moment. “Thank you for having tea with me, by the way. This was quite enjoyable.”
“No need,” Byleth would respond. “I had a lovely time, Dimitri. I look forward to the next time we can do this.”
“Which should be soon,” Gilbert cut in. “His Highness has weekly etiquette lessons, after all.”
“Will you be my partner again, then? It’s far more enjoyable having you around than Ingrid or other noblewoman,” Dimitri chirped.
“Your Highness, what’s the matter with Lady Galatea? Is she not your friend too?” Gilbert asked.
“All she does is rant about Sylvain and Felix’s arguments!” Dimitri protested. “Byleth, on the other hand, she’s so calm and kind and—“
“Y-Your Highness, you risk embarrassing her,” Gilbert says. “Regardless, Miss Eisner, would you care to be His Highness’ partner during his etiquette lessons? Not only is he required to learn how to conduct himself around a lady, King Lambert has also issued that he must learn how to dance and how to present himself in both political and social circles.”
“Well, if that is the case, then it is my pleasure to help,” Byleth said. “Though Father has to approve first.”
“I’m sure he wouldn’t mind, especially if it’s for the benefit of the Kingdom,” Gilbert said. “I will speak to him later on. For now, you two go ahead and enjoy yourselves.”
“Of course!” Dimitri chirped as he happily stood up, helping Byleth out of her seat before the two would run off in the direction of the library. Gilbert let out a chuckle as he watched before heading off himself in the direction of the training grounds.
He and Jeralt had a lot to talk about.
. ~ . ~ . ~ .
“So, you and the Prince are gonna be partners from now on?” Jeralt had asked, leaning in the doorway of his daughter’s personal quarters. “For… etiquette?”
“Sir Gilbert must have spoken with you about it, then?” Byleth would question with a hum as she continued reading the book Dimitri had gotten for her. “Is it a yes or no?”
“It’s a yes, but— Well—“ Jeralt lets out a huff of amusement before continuing. “I didn’t expect you to be interested in etiquette, of all things. In fact you haven’t taken an interest in anything before this.”
“But it makes Dimitri happy,” Byleth would reply.
“Does it make you happy, then?”
“Mhm.” The reply was curt and forward, just as usual.
“... I suppose if you’re starting to enjoy yourself,” Jeralt said. “Guess that means I’m gonna have to spend a chunk of my paycheck…”
“On what, Father? More drinks?” Byleth would ask.
“No, no, not alcohol this time. Since you’re going to be spending time with the Prince, I can’t have you looking like a commoner, lest the nobles start to gossip,” Jeralt would say with a sigh. “Tomorrow, how’s about you and I go into the market? We can pick out a dress suited to tea parties for you there.”
There was a small spark in her eyes, and Jeralt felt happiness swell within him as he watched the scene unfold.