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Drumming Song

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===

“You seem to be holding back. Thank you for that.”

“Hmph. Do not flatter me. My power is not what it once was. The best I can do nowadays is have fun meddling with humans who wander in here.”

“I see. I was hoping you may be able to help us, but it seems perhaps it may be you that needs assistance.”

“I-- What is it that you mean to imply?”

“Come back with us. Seiros is unwell, she may not live much longer. I know that you have longed to meet Cethleann as well.”

“Ah... Cichol, truly you are cruel. Fine... I will consider your proposal.”

===

“I should tell you that Seiros is in a precarious state right now.”

“I will not assist you. I have lived apart from the world of man, which disgusts me. This war disgusts me also.”

“I thought you might say as much. This is regrett-- Flayn, you must stay back!”

“Uncle, please! I beg you, reconsider! The humans of now are not the same as the humans you knew.”

“Ah, that face takes me back in time... You have not changed one bit, Ceth--”

“Uncle, keep your mind on task!”

“Why the rush, Ceth--”

“Uncle!”

“Sigh... If it is for my darling niece... perhaps I will reconsider....”

===

Chapter Text

With Rhea as weak as she is, Byleth is surprised that Seteth elected to leave her side for even a moment. He was diligent in looking after her, allowing no one but himself and Flayn by her side for so long. Then, suddenly, he all but begged Byleth to take over for him while he and Flayn searched for something. He never properly explained. Byleth isn’t certain he knew exactly what it is he was looking for, or maybe it was that he wasn’t sure what he was going to find. 

They take a few battalions with them, a few former-students even volunteering to go, but it’s a small party. Seteth says he doesn’t know when they’ll return and Byleth promises to take care of his sister, his real sister, in his absence. Perhaps not in the way he intended, the first thing she does is open her windows and doors. Rhea smiles when the sun’s warmth hits her, though, so it cannot be that terrible of a decision. 

Catherine and Cyril both weep when they see her, both from joy that she is alive and sadness that she is so frail. She gathers Cyril into her arms as if he were the same small boy from five years ago, eagerly asking him about his studies. Even some former students visit, with Mercedes especially building a strong bond with the former archbishop. It makes Byleth happy, remembering the times that Rhea expressed her deep loneliness. Especially after five years in captivity, to have people seeking her out, to comfort her, to bring her flowers and tea and other trinkets, must be such a relief (now, if only they knew she preferred cold drinks!). 

For an entire moon, Seteth and Flayn do not return. Rhea asks often about them, even some of the soldiers as well. Byleth doesn’t have answers. All she can say is that they will return when they are meant to, with the grace of the goddess. Garegg Mach being the central church, most people take that answer. Some don’t. Byleth doesn’t blame them. How could she? The answer makes her quite anxious as well. 

Finally, Flayn returns. She is with Petra, on the back of the Brigid girl’s wyvern. Her grin spans from ear to ear, which Byleth hopes means their mission was a success. 

“An astounding success!” she proclaims later. They are in Rhea’s room, and it is only the three of them with some tea and light snacks. “Father sent me ahead with Petra to tell you all! We must prepare two rooms for them at once!”

Rhea sets her teacup down and smiles softly. “It has been so long since I have seen them... Flayn, where on Earth did you manage to find them?”

“Well, it was certainly not easy!” Flayn munches on a scone before continuing. “Uncle Indech was in Lake Teutates! And Uncle Macuil was all the way in Sreng! It is a good thing Sylvain was with us.”

Byleth’s eyebrows draw together. “Wait a moment. You and Seteth were looking for the other... but I thought they had died?”

“Oh, no,” Rhea says softly. “We had all faked our deaths, to move on.” She fiddles with her fingers for a few moments. “I suppose it is possible they could have perished since, but... I am glad that they had not.”

“It would have been awful. We should not dwell on such terrible what-ifs! Professor, will you help me prepare their rooms? They should be in here in only a few days!”

Who better to prepare a room for a saint than a saint? Flayn does most of the work, while Byleth just does whatever the girl instructs of her. While the monastery has certainly seen better days, they are able to spare a little expense to make certain that Indech and Macuil will be comfortable. Flayn insists that they have to make an impression, as the men haven’t been in their human forms for over a thousand years. Byleth tries hard not to think too carefully about that; she doesn’t quite think her mind is capable of understanding what that means. 

When they come back, they are absolutely haggard. Seteth is the same as she remembers from a moon ago, if a bit worn from the road. They all are, after an entire moon. The two saints, though, are something else. They stick out like sore thumbs, neither of them wearing any armor at all. They’ve got weapons, though it seems they hadn’t needed to use them. The clothes they wear are pristine as if brand new, though rather plain. Seteth must have made haste to dress them in whatever he could find. It’s their hair, that truly gives them away. That unhuman green that Byleth has come to associate with the Nabateans, whoever they are. One of the men has a deeper shade, like Seteth’s, and the other’s is lighter, like Flayn’s or Rhea’s.

Byleth is meant to unofficially meet them here. Later, privately, she’ll officially meet them. Real names and everything. No more lies, Rhea promised, only the truth from now on. 

She steps forward, Flayn at her side, and gives a shallow bow. “Welcome back, Seteth.” She gives a slight smile to her former students in the little camp as well. “Everyone.”

Some of them try to wave to her as Seteth steps forward, the two saints following behind him. “Byleth. I’ve recruited these men as members of Garegg Mach Monestary’s staff.”

It’s a terribly flimsy excuse. Seteth will have to explain himself sooner or later, to the others. He would not simply up and run to recruit faculty, not with Rhea in such a state. For now, they seem content to wait. They will not stay so for long. 

Byleth nods. “I trust your judgment.” She turns to the man with the deeper shade of green hair, and Byleth notices he has it weaved into a long braid. “Your name?”

“Coatl,” he says. 

A man of few words. Byleth can respect that. She turns to the other, meeting his eyes, and suddenly forgets entirely what it is she wishes to say. Her head is filled with noise, some sort of awful drumming. His cheeks dust pink and Byleth is suddenly acutely aware that she is staring at him. 

“And yours?”

“Horos,” he says, awfully and terribly softly. “Thank you, for taking my brother and me in.”

Beside him, Coatl sneers, but Byleth is still staring at Horos. She tries not to be quite as intimidating, though she knows it’s rather hard to tell with her. It’s something she’s still working on, with Dorothea as her guide. 

She turns her gaze to Coatl and prays no one notices her favoritism. “Thank you for coming to us in our time of need.”

The drumming noise follows her long into dinner. 

Chapter Text

Byleth meets Macuil and Indech officially that evening, over tea. They’re in Rhea’s room so that she can see them as well. Evidently, she was the entire reason they’re at the monastery in the first place.

“I’m sorry to rouse you both from your solitude,” she said as she had hugged Coatl around his shoulders. His hard eyes and stinging grimace softened at her touch, and Byleth would swear he may have even been smiling. “I’m sure Cichol told you why I asked you here.”

“He did,” Coatl said. “I find it hard to believe you, out of all of us, are in such a state. You seem to be healthy now.”

Flayn had grabbed Byleth’s hand. “It is all thanks to the hard work of our professor!”

All eyes were on her, then. Rhea and Seteth were smiling at her fondly. Coatl seemed to be examining her, while Horos... Byleth wasn’t sure what was going on in his head. He seemed detached, out of reach. Byleth wasn’t sure if he wanted to be at the monastery, or go back to where they had found them.

“Thank you,” Coatl said, “for taking care of our sister.”

Byleth wretches her eyes from Horos. “It is thanks to her own strength that she is as well as she is.”

Rhea shakes her head. “Please, let’s sit. Cethleann and I prepared tea.”

And so now Byleth is sitting nearly across from Horos, trying desperately not to steal too many glances at him. He seems like he isn’t sure of where he is. Flayn poured him a cup of tea, but he hasn’t touched it, other than to hold it. He’s got it wrapped in his hands like it’s some special trinket, but he hasn’t even looked down at it.

Rhea, sitting on her left, places a hand on Byleth’s. “Professor, allow me to properly introduce you to my brothers.”

Her smile is far brighter than Byleth has ever seen it, even in the past moon while Seteth was gone. She gestures over to Coatl next to her, who sips his tea and offers Byleth a pointed gaze. “This is Macuil. He was my tactician, my closest confidant.”

Coatl, Macuil, sets his teacup down. “Your babysitter.”

Rhea pushes him teasingly. To Byleth’s right, Seteth chuckles. On Coatl’s other side, Flayn encourages him to fight back, but he merely smirks. To Flayn’s other side, Horos continues to stare. It is entirely domestic, what Byleth would picture from a normal family.

“And Indech,” Rhea says. She gestures to Horos, and he blinks. His eyes focus and he offers Byleth a smile.

It lightens up his face, softens his eyes and causes that drumming sound to come back into Byleth’s head. She thought she’d gotten rid of it, whatever it is. It had left her alone, after dinner. She had eaten with her students, wanting to catch up with the ones that had been gone. She didn’t know what the drumming sound was, she thought perhaps it was the start of a migraine, but it had vanished after eating. Now it’s returned. Returned with Horos’s soft smile and gentle gaze upon her.

“Indech is a master battle strategist, in his own right,” Rhea says with a smile.

Horos laughs. “I tend to think of my strategies in the moment, rather than beforehand.”

Coatl snorts into his tea. “And how many times have you almost died for it?”

“It’s worked out for him so far,” Seteth says. “He’s here, isn’t he?”

He is here, Byleth agrees, and he is doing something to her that she cannot explain. Perhaps she needs to see Manuela, but she also cannot help but think Manuela is the last person she should be seeing.

Horos smiles and claps a hand on Seteth’s back, causing Seteth to spill a bit of his tea. “Ah, Cichol. I can always count on you to back me up, eh? You miss your little brother?”

“Of course,” Seteth sets his teacup down and uses his napkin to wipe up the spilled tea. “I have missed both of you, more than you know.”

“As have I,” Rhea says with a smile. She clasps Coatl’s hand in hers and gives them both a smile. She, like Horos, hasn’t touched her tea. Perhaps he also prefers cold drinks. “I am so happy to have you both here. Please tell me you’ll stay.”

They both turn silent, again. Horos hides his expression by leaning into Seteth, using his shoulder as cover. Coatl merely sighs, using his free hand to pinch the bridge of his nose.

“I cannot speak for Indech,” Coatl mumbles, “but you know that I detest humans. It is bad enough Cichol has had me travel with them for nearly half a moon.”

Rhea pouts. It occurs to Byleth then that she did mention, some time ago, that she was the youngest. “Macuil, please. At least until I pass.”

All of them shout some form of shock then. Seiros!; Rhea, please!; Auntie, you cannot be serious! Byleth just... watches. She has seen Rhea this past moon make remarkable steps in her recovery, but she has also held her at night while she struggles to keep the fragments of her mind together. It’s jarring, to see her so vulnerable. Rhea, who has led her own church for a thousand years, the picture of poise and confidence, reduced to nothing more than a gibbering mess. Her fingernails digging into Byleth’s arms, leaving crescent moons and red lines and she tries to reign her draconic instincts in. Perhaps it is something she can overcome, perhaps it is not.

They are all silent for a spell. Quietly, Macuil begs, “You cannot be serious, Seiros.”

“I am quite serious,” Rhea says as she plays with her teacup. Byleth imagines it is around the temperature she likes, now, but she does not raise it to her lips. “You two have not... seen me, these past few moons. I imagine Cichol has not told you of my behavior.” The fact that Seteth does not meet her eyes, chooses instead to fiddle with a scone on his plate, speaks wonders. “I would ask the professor to show you her arms, but... to ask a lady to disrobe in front of three men would be quite rude.”

Byleth wouldn’t mind, truly, except that she knows it would embarrass Rhea. So she keeps her jacket on. Uses Rhea’s excuse of propriety to help save some face.

“Suffice to say I have been having trouble... containing myself.”

Coatl’s eyes narrow, he examines Rhea as if she would turn in front of them now. “Seiros, please, you speak as if to imply this is something you cannot overcome.”

“Macuil, I know my own body.” She releases his hand and cups her hand around her tea. Byleth wonders if she should leave. “I have pushed myself too far, after my imprisonment. I acknowledge that it may not come to pass, but... it is quite possible I may lose control of myself. Should that happen, I do not wish for you to attempt to bring me back.”

Ah, so that’s it. Rhea wanted to be with her family, in case her final moments were peaceful. She wanted them around as well, if they were not, because who else would be able to defeat her? Perhaps the monastery staff themselves would be able to, but it would be a difficult battle. Challenging, for sure. Byleth isn’t certain how strong Coatl and Horos are, if the years have caused them to wane or if they’ve only polished their strength, but surely they know Rhea’s weaknesses.

It makes Byleth’s stomach ache, to think about.

“You cannot lose hope just yet, Auntie,” Flayn’s little voice, shaken by the harsh topic, brings them all back to reality. Horos turns from hiding behind Seteth to placing a gentle hand on her arm. “You have made such incredible progress!”

Rhea smiles at her. “Cethleann... yes, that is true. I am much healthier, thanks to Cichol and our dear professor both. I only want to be prepared for the future. For all possibilities.”

Coatl stands, rattling their table, upsetting their teacups, and nearly throwing their teapot onto its side. “I did not come here to kill you,” he spits. He kicks his chair back, nearly knocking it over, and storms to the door. “I came here because Cethleann begged me! Told me Seiros was near death, and that we needed to be here for her as a family!” He turns back towards Rhea. Despite his stance, his jabbing finger, he does not sound angry. “You are not near death, Seiros. I see you sitting there, perfectly fine. Perfectly sane. Perhaps I ought to return to Sreng where I can live in damned peace.”

Flayn stands from her chair, far more delicately than Coatl. “Uncle, please, you must not leave!” She runs over to him and wraps her arms around him. “Even if I must hold you here myself, I shall!”

He doesn’t seem to know how to respond to that. Quite honestly, none of them do. They stare at the scene before them, Flayn adamantly holding onto her flustered uncle, unsure of how to respond. Even Seteth is flabberghasted.

Finally, Horos speaks up. “Just a moon, Macuil,” he says. Then, he looks at Rhea. “We will stay for a moon. And then we will say our goodbyes.”

She closes her eyes and sighs deeply. “I... I can concede to that. If that is what will give me time with you both.”

Coatl wraps his arms around Flayn, in a loose hug. “Alright,” he mumbles. “Alright. With our darling Cethleann by my side, I can put up with the humans for another moon.

Beside Byleth, Seteth breathes a sigh of relief. It catches her attention, and as she looks over to him, she notices something else. Horos is no longer looking at Rhea. Now, his gaze is fixed on Byleth.

The drumming starts again, suddenly, and Byleth isn’t sure she ever realized it stopped. She and Horos stare right at one another for what feels like hours. What is it that he sees? Does she have a piece of scone on her chin? Has she got some sauce, leftover from dinner, smeared across her lip without realizing? The drumming increases at the thought of looking like a fool in front of him, though she does not let her face tell that she is experiencing this strange sensation.

Suddenly, he looks away, his eyebrows drawn, and Byleth is left alone with her drums.

Chapter Text

When Byleth had made her miraculous return to Garreg Mach, the first thing she and Seteth had done was route out some bandits. Her students and the Knights of Seiros miraculously returned, their second order of business was to make sure the old dorms and living quarters were in an acceptable state. After that, the facilities. With Linhardt’s ample donation, stolen from his father, they were able to hire various craftsmen to return to the monastery and return the plumbing to working order. They were also able to pay them off, hopefully ensuring they wouldn’t tattle off to the empire that they were there. 

Of course, that was months ago. The empire has since been toppled. Poor Edelgard’s head cleaved from her shoulders. Byleth wonders if things could have been different. If only she had known that their true goals were so similar, peace for Fódlan and all her people... But it’s far too late now. 

Regardless, Byleth finds her way to the sauna, hoping for a few moments of respite. Seteth has once more taken over watching Rhea, leaving Byleth alone to consider his proposal of her becoming queen of a united Fódlan. For someone raised as a commoner, it’s a daunting thought, but not the only one bothering her. 

Coatl and Horos, Macuil and Indech, have agreed to stay for a full moon before potentially leaving once more. Whether it’s to entertain Rhea in her last weeks of life or to accompany her while she makes her recovery. While the purpose of their visit is expressly for Rhea, she herself has expressed a desire for them to interact with the others in the monastery. Coatl, of course, was greatly opposed to this and has chosen to spend anytime away from Rhea locked up in his own room or in a hidden corner in the library. The only other person he would go out of his way for was Flayn, but no one was particularly surprised by this. Horos, meanwhile, spent much of his time shrowded in mystery. He could often be spotted sharing a meal with Seteth or Flayn or both of them. Byleth would sometimes join if she wasn’t already eating with someone, but he rarely spoke up or continued the conversation. Besides his brief appearances at the dining hall and he was by Rhea’s side, his whereabouts were a mystery. 

So both of the brothers are proving to be daunting tasks as well. In addition to that, Byleth also isn’t expecting a certain someone who brings drumming into her mind to be in the sauna late at night. She strips bare and grabs a fresh towel before heading in. She doesn’t even notice another person is in the sauna until she sees the movement of them trying to hide under the water. 

“Oh, I’m sorry,” she says. “I didn’t see you there.”

She doesn’t even recognize that it’s Horos until he peaks his head back up, his eyes looking away from her and to the side. “It’s alright. I’ve been here a while. I’ll go.”

Byleth settles into the water, sitting on the rock letting out a satisfied hum. “You don’t have to go, you seem quite comfortable. I do not mind.” Traveling most of her early life with a mercenary group taught her that personal boundaries are a luxury. She’s grown to live without them, for the most part. “Unless it bothers you...”

He shakes his head, finally meeting her eyes. “No. I had just noticed, when I was traveling with the humans before, they avoided being bare around one another.”

Byleth shakes her head. “I’m not like other humans.”

Horos’s lips twitch into a smirk. “I’ve noticed that, yes. You smell... sweeter. Not like them at all.”

She hadn’t expected that response at all and cocks her head to the side. “What do you mean, sweeter?”

He merely shakes his head and looks away from her again. “Please, pay it no mind. It simply means... nothing at all.”

It certainly can’t mean nothing at all, Byleth thinks, for him to have brought it up. Best not to push it, if he’s already receding back into his shell. They sit in silence together instead, enjoying the steam of the sauna and the quiet of the night. Byleth can’t help but wonder if she smells sweeter, whatever that is, to the other Nabateans as well. 

When next she looks to Horos, he has significantly relaxed, draping his arms over the edge of the sauna. His eyes are closed and his head leaned back as well, as if he were asleep. So, Byleth doesn’t feel particularly bad about examining him in a less than innocent manner. To say that Horos is anything but well built would be an insult. One would be better off describing him as sculpted, as though he were born from a marble statue. Perhaps he was. No one has bothered to tell Byleth how the Nabateans came to be. He doesn’t even carry scars on him, something Byleth has noticed on Seteth and Rhea as well. Do Nabateans not scar as easily? It’s certainly not that their skin does not cut; Byleth has seen Seteth take many unfortunate wounds. Perhaps they have a different sort of healing factor. Speaking of cut, though, Indech does seem to have one imperfection.

“What happened to your arm?” Across his bicep is a deep, clean cut. Red, and probably angry from being in the hot water. “You shouldn’t have that in the water, you know.”

He hums at her. “I forget. In this form, being in the water doesn’t heal me as well as in my other form.” He pokes at it a little bit, but no new blood spills. It must already be healing well. “I’m working on a sica. The spine was warped, and so I tried to beat it straight. The blade slipped out of my hand and cut my arm. I’m lucky it didn’t cut my face.” He gives her a wolfish grin that stutters the drumming for a moment but, ah, she hadn’t even realized it was there! 

She chooses to ignore it and instead wades closes to him. “Allow me,” she says. She places a hand over the cut and spreads what little faith magic she has over it. “What’s a sica?”

He looks down at her hand, watching the magic for a moment before answering. “It’s an old Nabatean sword. It’s curved towards the top.” He pulls his other arm up, mimicking the shape of the blade by bending at his wrist. “The curve allowed its user to reach behind enemy shields to attack. Or to disarm weapons on a front swing before going in for the kill on a backswing.”

He mimics the movement, pulling an imaginary weapon towards him before slashing an imaginary enemy. Once his invisible foe is defeated, he returns his hand to the water. By then, his cut is finished healing. Byleth does not remove her hands from his arm. 

He smiles softly and turns his face towards her. It’s the happiest she’s seen him, his eyes light up like stars, his cheeks dusted a soft red from the warmth of the sauna. He looks at ease. “It’s been a very long time since I’ve been at a forge. It feels good. To be making Nabatean weapons, especially. I’ve been practicing by making knives, not wanting to waste steel. But this sica... it feels like home, in a weird sort of way. Once I get back into the swing of things... I can really start back up to where I was.”

Byleth cocks her head to the side. With where she’s positioned it basically has her resting her head on Horos’s arm. It’s not an uncomfortable position. “You smithed before?”

He nods and repositions himself so he can face her much easier. She notices, perhaps a touch too eagerly, that he keeps his arm positioned so that she is able to stay where she is, with her head nearly laying on him. “When I was younger. Before... before everything. I smithed weapons, mostly. But also ceremonial weapons, with hidden and finely carved detail, with dull edges not meant for war. Armor and accessories, too. Headpieces, girdles. I made my own helmet, you know? It was one of my first pieces.” He beams his bright smile, showing off his sharp canines. 

Byleth can’t help but give him a smile in return. Though it’s her version of the same intensity, it’s much more subdued. It’s simply how she is. “That’s very impressive. I’ve seen your armor illustrated. It’s very striking.”

Horos pulls his bottom lip between his teeth, and Byleth is reminded of a young Sylvain, attempting to flirt with a girl he’s particularly interested in. “I’ve also made jewelry. I made much of my mother’s jewelry.”

She blinks, a bit taken aback by that admission. She recalls the image of Sothis in her mind, adorned with a gorgeous golden headpiece and various matching accessories. All of those, made by Horos? “Really?”

He nods, suddenly sheepish. “Yes. I traveled with Ci-- er, Seteth, when I was younger. We were often away from home, so I wanted to send her things. At first, I would buy her things and send them back. As I started to learn metallurgy and jewelry making, I found that she much more enjoyed things that I had made.”

Byleth nods. “That makes sense. You must be talented.”

He shrugs. “I was, once. Now....” He flexes his hand, the one to the arm that Byleth is all but lying on. “Now it’s been centuries since I’ve forged or smithed anything. I would have never been so foolish as to lose my grip and slice my arm open, before.”

Perhaps unconsciously, perhaps on purpose, Byleth gently squeezes his arm. “It’s alright to make mistakes. You’re out of practice. It’s alright.”

He tips his head towards her, ever so slightly. Just as he opens his mouth, the door to the sauna opens, and the chattering voices of Annette, Lysithea, and Mercedes break Byleth and Horos’s sweet silence. 

“Professor!” Mercedes says. She quickly covers herself with a towel upon noticing Horos, who has sunk back into the water. The other girls, already covered by their towels, pull them up higher. “I’m so sorry, we didn’t realize you were in here.”

“It’s alright,” Byleth says. She stands from the water and taps on Horos’s shoulder. “We’ve both been in here a while. We should get going before the steam gets to our heads.”

The girls leave the room for a moment, allow Horos a moment to become decent. Though, Byleth would certainly be an idiot to not notice Mercedes peeking behind the door a moment longer than necessary. That girl, for as pious as she acts... Well, she’s cute. 

Byleth and Horos part with a simple goodnight, and the drumming in her head does not stop under she calms herself with breathing exercises before bed. 

 


 

Flayn invites them all to family tea again, which shouldn’t be at all surprising. Byleth supposes she is just a little surprised that she’s considered family. Perhaps, after all that they’ve been through together, this strange gaggle of the last Nabateans is the closest thing Byleth has to a family. 

“I have had a most wonderful idea,” she says, once the last cup is poured. 

Coatl and Horos are utterly enraptured and eagerly await for her to continue. Rhea simply smiles, and Seteth hides his own smile behind his teacup. Do they already know what she’s thought up? How rude that she would share with them first, though perhaps she wanted their opinions. 

“Well... Uncle Macuil, Uncle Indech, I know you’ve had trouble... with the humans. Making friends with them. I thought, to encourage friendship, we could plan a wedding!”

She claps her hands together and gives a wide grin. Coatl sneers and Horos just seems terribly confused.

“A wedding?” Horos mumbles. His eyes flicker across the table, for a moment Byleth wonders if they land on herself, but they return to Flayn. “Who... is getting married?”

“Dorothea and Petra!” Flayn lays her hands across the table, on top of Coatl’s. “Uncle, you used to officiate women’s weddings all the time, did you not?”

Coatl sighs, “I did. Before the humans betrayed our kin.”

Flayn gives his hands a squeeze. “Dorothea and Petra have fought by our side. Well, not that they were necessarily aware of who we were, but... Oh, Uncle, please! It would make them so happy!”

His eyebrows pinch together, and Byleth wonders if perhaps there are limits to even Flayn’s powers. “Surely there is someone much more suitable to officiate their wedding.”

She shakes her head. “Your alias is that of an acolyte of Macuil! Not to mention that you are Macuil himself. It would be such an honor for them!”

Byleth wonders if Dorothea and Petra even have much of a say in this matter. She does recall them becoming engaged, but only behind closed doors. Saving it until the war ended, until they were all safe and sound. Well, with the Agarthans gone, this is probably as safe and sound as they may be. Perhaps a wedding is what they need. It would be a royal wedding, too. They’ll have to plan accordingly. 

Poor Coatl didn’t even have the opportunity to try his tea before this was sprung on him. He simply sighs, tapping his fingers against the table, and sighs once more. “Alright. If they have no one else in mind that they would prefer, I will officiate the ceremony.”

Flayn claps happily. “It is settled then, I shall let them know in the morning--”

“What shall I do?” Horos says softly. 

Flayn’s smile drops, ever so slightly, into confusion. “Uncle? What do you mean?”

He picks at his fingernails. Byleth notices that Rhea’s and Seteth’s smiles have both vanished, and neither of them looks toward Horos now. “Macuil will officiate. I’m certain Seiros and Cichol will have their rolls as well. Even Ms. Byleth. I would like to contribute, if I may.”

Flayn scrambles for some sort of purchase. “Of course you may, Uncle, I simply had not thought--”

Byleth thinks back to their moment in the sauna. He’s been smithing, lately. Getting back into metalworking, forging, crafting. The joy that had sparked in his eyes as he had talked about that sica he’d made, as he described what he used to make. He said he used to make jewelry for their mother, didn’t he?

“You could make their wedding rings,” she says. “You used to make fine jewelry, right?”

He blushes as if surprised she’d remember it. The conversation was only a night or so ago. “Yes. It’s been many years. I would need some time to practice again. If they would even want me to make them.”

“I think that’s a lovely idea,” Rhea says. “We’ll make sure you have plenty of time, Indech. Planning a wedding takes time, after all.”

Seteth nods and offers his poor brother a smile. “I concur. It’s since been replaced, but you designed Seiros’s original headpiece, didn’t you?”

Horos chuckles at that, and that damned drumming returned once more to taunt Byleth. By now she has a sinking feeling on what it is, but there’s certainly no time at all for it. Not when they have a wedding to plan for, and not when Horos may not even stay after his promised one moon. 

“So it is settled then,” Flayn’s says, with her earlier enthusiasm returned. “They will be so excited! I cannot wait to tell them!”