Ferdinand knew Edelgard wasn’t fond of his antics. If her tone wasn’t a dead giveaway it would always be her facial expression. It stung a bit, knowing that she found him a bother. He had positive intentions with his constant challenging though. But telling her what they were would be..embarrassing to be honest.
And he had to succeed, to prove to her that he was capable. Not just dead weight to the Black Eagles and the Empire. And to himself.
So when Edelgard disarms him, knocks him off his feet or takes the wind out of him, he gets up. Not caring that his lungs are burning, his bones screaming and not acknowledging the blood dripping from his nose. Twirling his lance with determination burning in his eyes.
The blood made its way down his face at a snail’s pace. Finally dripping onto his white cravat, staining its once pearly white color with a crimson red. Panting, Ferdinand charged.
Thrusting his lance in the white haired princess’ direction, gripping it tightly so it didn’t fall out of his hands. Edelgard swiftly maneuvered her body weight away from the dulled tip. As much as the training weapons didn’t fatally harm, they still hurt like hell.
Edelgard skillfully used her axe and swung. Ferdinand moved his lance to deflect it before the blow made contact with his upper body. His hands gripped the weapon so tightly it should’ve snapped right then and there.
The impact caused Ferdinand and Edelgard to stumble backwards a bit, before regaining their composure and continuing their brawl. Edelgard rushed at the ginger before her.
Ferdinand quickly sidestepped the oncoming attack. Edelgard predicted this and swiftly stopped her attack to turn to Ferdinand and used the butt of her axe to hit the noble’s stomach. She may be small, but by goddess does she not have one hell of an arm.
Ferdinand let out a grunt as he dropped his lance and crumpled to his knees.
“Your determination is admirable, Ferdinand,” Edelgard twirled the training axe in her hand cockily. “but no amount of determination can change the outcome of a battle.”
Ferdinand shakily arose to his feet and nodded.
“Blast, I suppose you’ve bested me once again!” Ferdinand gave a half hearted laugh, wincing in pain when he realized that laughing seemed to hurt.
“Yes, and that means you have to hold up your end of the bargain.” Edelgard agreed.
“Of course, we did shake hands on it after all,” Ferdinand paused as the pain of her blow subsided. “I, Ferdinand Von Aegir, will no longer pester you on my challenges.”
Edelgard gave a small smile and nod before she headed to the exit of the training field. Ferdinand stood there in confusion as she waited at the exit.
“Well? Allow me to accompany you to the infirmary to take care of your nose.”
Ferdinand hastily touched his nose. As he recoiled his gloved hand back he saw the tips of his fingers now stained with velvet. Blood now seeping into his once white gloves.
Ferdinand chuckled quietly to himself. He took off his gloves and uses his cravat as a way to wipe off the thick red liquid on his face. Not caring if it seemed unbecoming of a noble of his status.
“Thank you, Edelgard. I shall take you up on your offer.”
Ferdinand never held a grudge against her after his defeat. He had no need too, but it only strengthened his uselessness to himself. Battle after battle happened. He fought valiantly and was the MVP of some fights.
Yet it still wasn’t enough. Of course, Ferdinand was still grateful that he was recognized in their fights. But what about outside of fights? His focus changed from becoming better than Edelgard, to becoming better than himself.
The Professor often praised Edelgard’s and his teamwork. Calling them “Quite the formidable duo.” Both of them still didn’t quite know what that meant until Dorothea explained it.
“You’re kidding, right Edie?” Dorothea looked dumbstruck. Edelgard shook her head.
“Dorothea, we would not be asking you if we knew what it meant.” Dorothea had to contain her laughter.
“Have you two not seen yourselves battle? Your teamwork is practically what the professor would like to achieve.”
Ferdinand and Edelgard gave a side eye at each other. Confusion evident in their eyes. Dorothea gave a sigh.
“What the Professor is saying is you two seem to be working well together. I agree too, you guys seem to have each other’s backs more than ever. I wonder why?” Dorothea pondered as she walked away, leaving a somewhat puzzled house leader and cavalier.
“I am just doing what I would do to any other ally?” Ferdinand scratched his head.
“As am I.” Edelgard responded. They both shrugged before heading their separate ways. Ferdinand would say they were friends at this point of time, not the best of friends but they cared for each other.
The turning point was that night. Ferdinand could remember it so vividly. From the position of the moon to the direction of the wind. He didn’t know why, but he heard that during a life changing moment you’ll always remember exactly where you were and what you were doing.
Ferdinand didn’t know why, but he was restless that windy night. The moon high in the sky, illuminating the world. No stars were out tonight, the moon being the sole source of light in the empty sky.
As Ferdinand made his way down the dorm hallways, soft sobbing broke his train of thoughts. He stopped in his tracks, trying to verify if it was just a figment of his imagination.
No, it was there. Barely there to be exact. He slowly crept towards the sound, leading him to Edelgards door. He can’t quite remember what he was feeling, a mix of emotions.
Mostly consisting of panic, worry, and confusion. He stood in front of her door like a deer in headlights, an internal debate on whether to knock on her door or not. Eventually he balled his hand into a fist and softly knocking on the Princess’ door.
The crying seemed to stop immediately. There was silence, pure silence. It was as if the entire monastery held their breath. It must’ve been minutes before the click of the door opening stopped his fidgeting.
“Ferdinand? What are you doing here at this hour?” Edelgard Said through the crack opened door.
“Well, I was restless so I decided to take a stroll, and it seems I overheard some sobbing coming from your room.”
Edelgard stayed silent. Even after the ginger finished talking.
“I-I did not mean to intrude! I was just making sure you were not getting assassinated or something of that sort.” Panicked Ferdinand, earning a soft chuckle from Edelgard.
“Not to be perverted but, this looks a bit odd, don’t you think?” Their faces burned as they avoided eye contact.
“O-oh. H-how about we meet outside?” Ferdinand stuttered. She nodded before closing the door. Ferdinand’s legs carried him out of the dorms, a path he practically does on auto pilot now.
He approached the docks and watch the lake. It was a calming scene. The moon reflecting off the water as it gently waved back and forth. Ferdinand stuck his hands in his pockets to keep them warm, as the night brought a breeze.
The sound of footsteps behind him caused him to turn his head, Edelgard in her normal attire walked up to him.
“Good evening Edelgard.” He greeted.
“Likewise Ferdinand.” She responded. There was an awkward silence as they both gathered the courage to discuss why they were out here.
“Are you alright?” Ferdinand’s voice was full of concern. It caused her to chuckle a bit.
“I suppose someone would find out eventually.” Edelgard gave a tired sigh. Still staring off into the horizon. Ferdinand raised a brow.
“I’m afraid I do not know what you mean—”
“Ferdinand, we’ve gotten closer since our duel. I want you to know I trust you.”
“Let me finish, Ferdinand,” Ferdinand quickly shut up. “I often have...nightmares. I hate them, I’m helpless against them and often wake up in tears.”
Ferdinand listened attentively, all his focus on his House Leader.
“They’re more like memories, really. Just twisted into something worse.” Edelgard hugged herself. Having a sudden interest with the dock below her feet.
“Edelgard, did something happen?” Ferdinand asked, worry dripping from his voice.
“I-I,” Edelgard took a deep breath. “I used to have many siblings, Ferdinand. I’m sure you were told they all died from ‘sickness’ or other lies like that.”
Ferdinand nodded and urged her to continue.
“They all either went mad or were killed during testing.” She fessed. Ferdinand recalled a memory all of a sudden.
He was younger, maybe 10 or 11. Back in the Empire, in the comfort of his estate. He didn’t know why he was up at such a time, maybe to get a drink or something of that sort.
He walked through the dimly lit hallways of their home, finding himself passing his father's office. Duke Aegir seemed frustrated as he talked with an advisor.
“We lost another one, sir.” His advisor spoke. Ferdinand stopped to listen to the conversation.
“Cause of death?” Duke Aegir asked.
“This one fell into madness, sir.”
“How many of the Hresvelgs have they lost in total?” Questions plagued the mind of the young boy, what did he mean by that statement?
“That marks 5 now, sir. But we’re making progress.”
“Well that’s good news. Send my regards to Patricia and the rest of the children.” Duke Aegir laughed.
Ferdinand didn’t want to hear anymore of that wretched conversation. He quickly and quietly scurried off into his room. Pulling the covers over his head and closing his door.
He didn’t want to know what was going on. Is this why his father never let him see the Hresvelgs? What were they doing to them? How horrible must it be for one to fall into madness?
Ferdinand did not sleep well that night. Why had he forgotten this memory? Was it so traumatic that he blocked it out?
“Ferdinand!” Edelgard snapped her fingers in front of his face.
“Huh? Oh, I apologize, Edelgard. It seems I zoned out.”
“As I was saying, I am the only Hresvelg child left,” The air became solemn as she continued. “My siblings and I were lab rats.”
Ferdinand felt his heart skip a beat.
“T-that’s,” the reality hit him harder than the butt of Edelgard’s axe during their duel. “My father knew.” He said breathlessly.
Edelgard gave an affirming nod.
“And he never stopped it?” Ferdinand felt a lump form in the back of his throat.
“Duke Aegir didn’t care, Ferdinand. He used my father as a figure head with the other lords and controlled the Empire. Believe me Ferdinand, I didn't want our discussion to come to this.”
Ferdinand always had a nagging feeling in his mind. Always telling him his father was not an honest and honorable man. But letting these children, the children of the Emperor no less, suffer as lab rats?
“I-I am so sorry.” He croaked. Hot fresh tears forming. “I should have done something, I should have stopped this, I-”
“Ferdinand you were a child-”
“So were you!” He cried. Emotions were never Edelgard’s strong suit. She’d practically tried to numb herself. A lump formed in her throat as she watched the son of the man who made her life hell, apologize for something he had no part in.
She watched as his tears fell down his face and drip onto the wooden dock. She gently took off her gloves and linked a hand in Ferdinand’s.
“Listen to me, Ferdinand,” She gave his gloved hand a squeeze. “I don’t hold you accountable for what your father did. You had no idea what was going on behind the scenes.”
“Why do you not resent me? I am the son of the man who let you suffer, yet you have been nothing but kind to me. I do not understand.”
Edelgard found herself often asking that question. The only answer she could formulate was that Ferdinand was nothing like his father. He was kind, caring, humble and a hard worker.
“Believe me, Ferdinand, I often ask myself that question,” she watched as Ferdinand’s face sunk. “But the only thing you have in common with your father is your looks. Your personalities are drastically different, in a positive way.”
Ferdinand gave a small smile. He blinked away the tears and squeezed her hand.
“Oh, look at me! I am supposed to be the one comforting you!” Ferdinand scolded himself. Edelgard chuckled in amusement.
“No, thank you, Ferdinand. Your presence is refreshing.” The two stared at the horizon, witnessing the inky blue turn into a warm orange. Daybreak was upon them.
“Edelgard,” The ginger broke the comfortable silence. “I ought to make this a fair exchange.”
The shorter girl quirked an eyebrow.
“Oh? And what is that?” She pestered. Ferdinand sighed.
“The reason I have strived to be better than you were so you never had to go through this isolated. As the future Duke it is my duty to be someone you rely on.” His eyes glued to wooden planks below his feet.
“Not just as Duke, but also as your friend. If I could be better, I could hand you excellent advice. But it seems I find myself failing at that.” He sighed.
“Are you calling yourself useless? Because if so I will not stand for that, Ferdinand.”
“You need not worry about my internal conflicts, Edelgard.”
“Stop that nonsense, Ferdinand,” Edelgard tightened her grip on his hand. “You have done so much for the Black Eagles and I.”
Ferdinand said nothing. Edelgard took in a breath.
“Look at Bernadetta for example, you’ve coaxed her out of her shell. You’ve made progress with Dorothea, you and Hubert haven’t been arguing as often too. Need I continue?”
“No..” The noble whispered. “All I desire, is to be helpful to you and the Empire.”
“And you will be, I’m sure of it, Ferdinand,” Edelgard tugged his hand and brought him into an embrace. “but one step at a time, for now.”
Ferdinand slowly wrapped his arms around her waist. He was much taller than the princess, Edelgard reaching to his chest at most. But they paid no mind to that. They stayed there until the sky turned from orange to a peaceful blue.
“Thank you, Edelgard. I truly mean that.” Ferdinand let go of the petite princess.
“And thank you, Ferdinand. Moments like these are precious to me, I truly cherish them.” There was a comfortable silence as they watched the first lot of students enter the mess hall.
“Are you going to let go of my hand now?” The noble blushed. Edelgard quickly retracted her hand and failed to fight down her blush.
“A-anyway,” She cleared her throat. “I shall see you at breakfast, Ferdinand.” Edelgard nodded at him before walking towards the mess hall. The ginger watched her stride away, thinking of a story his mother told him.
Derick Von Aegir, his ancestor, was also bested by Edelgard’s ancestor. The man had practically proposed to the woman. He decided to opt out of telling Edelgard that story.
There was a time and place for everything, and that story was not meant to be shared today.
But as Ferdinand watched the rest of the student body pile into the mess hall, he couldn’t stop and wonder.
He had lost all respect he had for his father, grown closer to Edelgard and was beginning to discover a new sense of purpose. But what does all this mean?
As he joined the Black Eagles for the first meal of the day, he found the answer was right in front of him. He was just so blind to see it.
He often recalls that day. It sparked something in him, something he never knew he had. The memory brings him joy, and pushes himself to be a better friend to his comrades.
What was he so blind to see, you ask? Well, it’s simple.
Ferdinand Von Aegir fell for Edelgard Von Hresvelg.