The winter that Felix turns nine is a particularly cold one, even by Faerghus standards. But still, his father takes him and Glenn to Fhirdiad as he usually does this time of year. Ingrid and Sylvain are already there. When they arrive, Felix makes his way to Dimitri’s rooms, knowing he would find his friends there. Glenn sticks with their father, probably to go have boring conversations with the king.
Felix’s face lights up when he sees them all, and he makes a beeline for Dimitri. He greets the prince with a hug and a kiss to the forehead.
Dimitri smiles, rubbing his forehead in bemusement but otherwise seems unbothered, and Ingrid doesn’t take any notice of it.
But Sylvain’s eyes widen, and he rises from where he’d been lounging on a chaise chair. Making his way over to them, he ruffles Felix’s hair and says, “Is this the new way to greet His Highness then?”
Felix frowns, fixing his hair as he glances from Dimitri to Ingrid. “I saw Glenn do it to Ingrid.”
That makes Sylvain laugh. “That’s because they’re getting married, Felix.” His voice takes on a teasing tilt. “Are you going to marry Dima?”
“No!” Felix replies hotly, feeling his face go red. He refuses to look at Dimitri, but he hears Ingrid huff in annoyance. He had heard his father tell Glenn to greet Ingrid that way the last time she visited their home to show her that he missed her. All Felix wanted to do was show Dimitri the same.
It wasn’t a silly marriage thing!
Sylvain smirks at him. “Then why no kiss for me or Ingrid? Are we not special?”
Felix just shrugs and steps forward. If they want a kiss, they can have a kiss – what’s the big deal? Grabbing Sylvain’s arm he stretches up, but Sylvain steps backwards with a laugh, making Felix stumble before he regains his balance.
“Felix, stop trying to kiss people.”
Ingrid sighs. “Sylvain only likes kisses from girls.” She wrinkles her nose disapprovingly. “He even tried to get my grandmother to kiss him.”
Sylvain groans. “Ingrid! Stop telling people that!”
“Ingrid’s grandmother isn’t a girl.” Dimitri sounds scandalised.
“Yeah,” says Felix. “She’s old.”
“Really old,” echos Dimitri.
Ingrid appears to be done with the conversation. She sighs and turns to Dimitri, interrupting Sylvain’s spluttering. “Can we go get some food?”
“Yes,” he agrees. “Let’s.” He glances at the other two. “Are you coming?”
Felix brightens up, following them out of the room. “Yes!”
Sylvain rolls his eyes, but slouches out after them.
It’s a very long time before Felix greets anyone with a kiss again.
Felix pushes Sylvain to spar with him, but when it finally happens, he thinks he might regret it.
His sword clashes with Sylvain’s lance and Sylvain, for all his forced nonchalance and attitude, is a force to be reckoned with. Underestimating him would be foolish.
But Felix is still the one who trains more, and he forces Sylvain backwards until he hits the wall of the training grounds. Sylvain makes one last desperate attempt to defend himself, but Felix disarms him, knocking the lance aside, and presses his sword to Sylvain’s throat.
It’s probably a bit much, but Felix’s blood is up and he’s so damned annoyed that it hadn’t been that difficult to disarm Sylvain. Does the idiot want to die?
“Felix,” Sylvain says with dark eyes and with a tilt to his smile Felix that has never seen before. His eyes fall to Sylvain’s lips. “I’m at your mercy.” His voice is low and husky, and it slides down Felix’s back like Sylvain is actually touching him and settles, low in his stomach, a flare of warmth.
Felix wants to drop his sword and grab Sylvain by the collar and tell him to keep talking to him in that voice and… completely flustered, he steps back. When Sylvain retrieves his lance and asks Felix if he wants to go again, all Felix can do is nod in reply.
He does not know if he’s imagining this tension between him and Sylvain as they spar – but he’s sure he feels something that wasn’t there before.
Despite his distraction, he bests Sylvain again, this time knocking him to the ground. Felix extends a hand to help Sylvain up, and is suddenly chest to chest with him. He blinks, looking up into Sylvain’s face. His eyes are dancing and his lips are lifted in a half smile that transfixes Felix.
Catching himself, Felix lets go of Sylvain’s hand, almost shoving him away.
“You need to train more,” he says brusquely, turning away to put away his training sword. “You’ll be a liability if you don’t.”
“I know, I know.” Sylvain comes up behind him to store his lance. “Good thing I have you around to train with, isn’t it?”
“…Yes,” Felix says decisively, despite the whirling of emotions in him. “It is.” He’s sure he can survive training with Sylvain. It’s what he wanted, after all.
Sylvain’s smile in response is blinding and Felix has to avert his eyes.
He can see the self destructive bent of Sylvain – it’s worse than usual – after the incident with Miklan: breaking curfew, missing classes, and seemingly having a never ending parade of girls in and out of his room. It’s obvious to Felix all it’s doing is making Sylvain feel worse.
He drops into a seat beside Felix one day in the dining hall, shadows under his eyes. “Hey, Felix.” There’s an exaggerated cheer to his voice, and that disingenuous tilt of his head that Felix recognises from watching him chat up girls. He hates it when Sylvain turns his fake face towards him. Irritation bubbles up as Sylvain continues. “Want to sneak out with me tonight?”
Sylvain pouts. “C’mon.”
“No, Sylvain. Go away and annoy someone else.”
Talking like Felix hasn’t replied, Sylvain says, “I’ve found this great pub in the village outside the monastery. None of the knights seem to go there, and the ladies are very friendly.”
Felix lets out a hiss of annoyance and stands up. “So go on your own,” he snarls. “You don’t need me for any of that.”
The smile wavers. “Yeah, but… it’ll be fun.” At Felix’s glare, Sylvain’s voice turns cajoling. “All you ever do is train.”
“And all you ever do is be annoying. Go have your fun,” Felix sneers. “But leave me out of it.”
He’s only half surprised when a drunk Sylvain hammers at his door in the middle of the night. Felix lets him in only so that he won’t attract any attention from anyone else. If he hasn’t already.
“Hey,” he says, a mournful slant to his voice. He wanders into the room, and Felix shuts the door behind him.
Felix is snide in response. “Not so fun, then.”
Sylvain sighs, stumbling forward and landing face first on Felix’s bed. “Not really.” His voice is muffled against Felix’s pillow.
“What are you doing? Get into your own bed.”
There’s silence for a moment and Felix grows increasingly annoyed. He’s tired and he wants to go back to sleep.
Eventually Sylvain replies, his voice quiet. “I’m afraid I’ll do something stupid.”
Something in his voice sends a sliver of fear down Felix’s spine. He steps closer. “Like what?”
Sylvain rolls over onto his back, staring up at the ceiling. “I know I can’t cut my crest out of me. I know it doesn’t work like that.” He stops talking and rests an arm over his eyes.
“But you want to,” Felix finishes.
Heaving a deep sigh Felix steps forward and starts removing Sylvain’s boots.
“What are you doing?” Sylvain mumbles.
“If you’re going to be lying on my bed, you’re taking off your boots,” he snaps in reply.
It doesn’t take long for the boots to come off, and Sylvain shucks off his jacket to be more comfortable. After a moment of hesitation, Felix slides in beside him in the bed, pulling the blanket over both of them. His only other option is to go sleep in Sylvain’s bed, but he doesn’t want to leave him alone. Or he could sleep on the floor. That’s not appealing either.
They’ve shared a bed before. They did this countless times as children. There’s no reason for it to make Felix feel nervous.
But it does, especially now that they’re both grown and this bed isn’t made for two adult sized people.
In the darkness they stare at each other. Sylvain inches closer, their legs pressing together, but Felix stays still, rigid with tension. Sylvain doesn’t help when he tentatively reaches a hand out to rest on Felix’s hip. But that’s all he does, and his eyes begin to droop.
Felix by now is wide awake. And he can smell the alcohol on Sylvain’s breath. It bothers him, like he’s only here because he’s drunk.
Is he that drunk?
“Hey, Felix?” Sylvain says quietly, struggling to keep his eyes open.
“I like your hair.”
With that statement, Sylvain’s eyes flutter closed, and it’s not long before Felix hears his breathing even out in sleep.
What the fuck?
Unable to relax, Felix hardly sleeps at all, and he gets up as soon as the sun starts to rise, making his escape to the training grounds, desperately trying to forget the peaceful image of Sylvain sleeping in his bed that’s now been seared into his brain.
He doesn’t see Sylvain until class later that day, when he takes his seat beside him. He looks a little worse for wear, but better than Felix expected.
They get through the lesson, but when Sylvain makes to stand at the end, Felix grabs his wrist.
“Are you alright?”
Sylvain doesn’t bother to lie or give a fake smile. “I’m… I’m alright. Thanks, Felix.”
His grip tightens along with his throat as he asks his next question. “Are you going to do anything stupid?”
“No.” Sylvain’s answer is a sigh, but Felix is sure he's being honest.
“Good.” Felix lets go of Sylvain’s wrist, and while Sylvain stands up, he doesn’t move away. Looking ahead, Felix lets his eyes roam over Professor Byleth’s notes rather than the man standing beside him. “If you ever feel like that again, come find me.”
“Oh.” Sylvain sounds genuinely surprised. He thanks Felix, and Felix doesn’t need to be looking at Sylvain to know he’s got a small smile on his face.
The ball is a stuffy, crowded affair. Felix slinks through the crowds with a dour expression. He doesn’t want to give anyone the impression that they can approach him for a dance. Thankfully, it seems to be working.
Catching sight of Ingrid, he makes his way over to her, but he’s not there long before Dimitri comes along and asks her to dance, whisking her away. When the prince tells him to try and have a good time, Felix only scowls harder.
“This is a waste of time,” he mutters. He catches sight of Sylvain, spinning some dark haired girl from the Black Eagles around the dance floor. To anyone else, Sylvain looks like he’s having the time of his life, but Felix can see even at this distance the too wide set of his mouth as he laughs, the exaggerated tilt of his head. It’s all fake.
He decides he’s had enough of the ball.
The cool night air is a relief, and Felix slowly makes his way back to the dorms. He feels restless, and considers heading to the training grounds despite the late hour.
“Hey, Felix!” The sound of Sylvain’s voice has him turning in the direction he’d just come from and he waits. It doesn’t take long for Sylvain to catch up with him, slightly out of breath.
Felix watches him without comment for a moment. The collar of his uniform has been pulled open and Felix can see where his messy hair is sticking to his neck from sweat. There’s a flush on Sylvain’s cheeks. Not surprising. He’s been dancing all evening. “What do you want?”
“I saw you leave and–“
A noise coming from behind Sylvain makes him startle, and Felix goes to grab his sword, except it isn’t there, because he’s been at a stupid ball. Before he knows it, he’s being pushed backwards, into the shadow of one of the alcoves, his body pressed between a stone wall and Sylvain.
“What the fu–“
Felix’s words are halted by Sylvain placing his hand over his mouth and Felix – Felix who spends so much of his time honing his reflexes and spatial awareness along with his sword skills – freezes with only an embarrassing squeak escaping him.
He’s glad Sylvain is too distracted to have noticed. In fact, Sylvain isn’t looking at him at all, and Felix stares at Sylvain’s profile as he turns away, seeking out the noise he’d heard.
Sylvain’s other hand holds one of Felix’s wrists in a firm grip.
Felix can smell the expensive leather of Sylvain’s gloves as they slide against his skin and he’s furious, he’s absolutely furious because what he fuck does Sylvain think he’s doing? One of Sylvain’s legs is pressed against his and fuck, fuck, Felix realises he’s getting hard.
Sylvain’s not even holding him down; Felix could move if he wants to. But he’s so suddenly turned on and furious about it that he can’t move.
It takes him a moment to get himself under control, and then he pulls Sylvain’s hand off his mouth.
Sylvain turns his attention back to Felix when he moves. He has a sheepish smile on his face, but makes no move to back away. “Sorry about that. I, uh, just want to avoid some people.”
“Some girls, you mean,” Felix replies sourly.
The smile drops slightly. Sylvain opens his mouth to reply, but then stops. Nearby, they hear footsteps and Sylvain shoots a quick look over his shoulder before turning back to Felix with wide eyes.
“Hey,” he says in that low voice that does things to Felix. “Play along, will you?”
Felix should shove Sylvain right off him and let him deal with these girls. He should. But suddenly he’s very aware at how close they really are – Sylvain has moved right against him and Felix lifts his head to look into his eyes.
Sylvain’s throat bobs as he swallows. Seeming to take Felix’s non violent response as an okay, he lets go of Felix’s hand – making Felix realise he’d been holding onto Sylvain’s hand since he’d pulled it off his mouth – and reaches up to his hair. When Felix starts in surprise, Sylvain pauses, but only for a moment before he pulls the hair tie out, and Felix’s hair falls down around his shoulders.
Felix does a full body shudder when Sylvain starts running his fingers through his hair. He’s close enough that he must be able to feel that Felix is hard – and Felix knows he should still be embarrassed and angry about this, but he’s so lost in the moment and the frankly delightful sensation of Sylvain’s fingers in his hair that what he really wants to do is arch into his touch.
Sylvain’s head lowers; one hand still on Felix’s wrist, the other brushing his hair behind his ear.
Felix can feel Sylvain’s breath against his face. They seem to stay like that in an endless moment, right on the precipice. Felix’s free hand curls into a claw by his side, resisting the urge to grab Sylvain’s hip and pull it even closer against him.
“Felix.” Sylvain’s voice is warm, wrapping around Felix. Even in the shadows, he can see Sylvain’s face, open but serious, his eyes on Felix’s lips, a shiver running through him when Felix’s tongue darts out to wet them.
A loud voice behind them makes them both jump. “I can’t believe you, Sylvain!”
For a brief moment, Sylvain’s head drops onto Felix’s shoulder and his whole body seems to sag. Then, with what seems like considerable effort, he pushes himself away and turns to face the girl, empty apologies and a dead smile on his lips.
But the girl is already turning away, and Felix is glad he’s in the shadows. With his hair down, he doubts she’s realised who he is.
The embarrassment and anger hits him with full force.
Sylvain doesn’t even make any effort to go after the girl, but he starts when Felix shoves him as he goes by.
“Hey, Felix, wait!”
Felix doesn’t stop, he keeps going, seething, until he reaches his room. Sylvain follows him just a step behind the whole way, pleading with him to slow down, to wait, to stop.
Placing his hand on the doorknob, Felix spins around and fixes Sylvain with a glare. “Don’t ever,” he growls, brushing his hair out of his face, “involve me in something like that again.” He’s angry, so truly angry it’s easy to ignore how hurt he is that Sylvain would only do what he did to get some girl off his back, or annoy her, or whatever the fuck he was doing with her because Sylvain's an idiot.
Sylvain holds up his hands, looking contrite. “I won’t, I’m sorry, I wasn’t–“
Felix steps forward, so furious he’s almost shaking. He grabs a hold of Sylvain’s jacket, pulling him towards him. Sylvain lets him, eyes widening. “And don’t ever treat me like you do the rest of them.” With that, he shoves Sylvain back so hard he stumbles into the wall.
“Felix, I don’t–“
The sound of Felix’s bedroom door slamming cuts him off.
Sylvain apologises properly the next day, and Felix accepts it, albeit with less grace than he probably should. All he wants is to forget about it and for Sylvain to never bring it up again.
But Felix never forgets it. He never forgets the stinging hurt he’d felt when Sylvain had turned away instead of just kissing him.
And he never stops imagining what would have happened if Sylvain had kissed him.
He doesn’t stop imagining it for over five years.
“I’m sorry, Felix.”
Felix ignores Sylvain’s voice. He doesn’t even pause in his strikes against the training dummy. He’d come to the training ground to get away from everyone, enjoying a meal together in the dining hall, all of them seemingly too happy about Dimitri’s supposed recovery to even care that Rodrigue had–
With a cry, Felix lets loose a barrage of magic, destroying the dummy, sending bits of splintered wood flying around the training ground. Behind him, he hears Sylvain swear.
And then he immediately turns to another one, taking up his sword again.
“Hey, Felix.” Sylvain’s voice is soft, understanding.
Felix can’t bear it.
“Either pick up a weapon and fight me,” he snaps. “Or stop wasting my time.” He doesn’t wait for a response, striking the dummy with a flurry of vicious attacks, remembering how one of the Kingdom soldiers has already called him Duke Fraldarius. Said his father had died a good death. Said Felix should be proud to have a father like that.
“Is it a waste of time whenever we’re not sparring?” Sylvain’s voice can hardly be heard over the sounds of his sword striking the wooden dummy, but Felix can hear the hardly hidden note of melancholy in it and it pulls at him.
Finally he turns to look at Sylvain, leaning against a pillar nearby.
Sylvain shrugs. “It’s all you ever want to do. You hardly even eat with us anymore, Ingrid is–“
Felix sneers, interrupting him. “Is that what you want? For me to go join you to celebrate the return of the boar prince to his senses? We’re at war, Sylvain.”
“No.” Sylvain sighs. “I–We. Miss you, Felix.”
Felix turns away, done with the conversation, not even bothered to point out that Sylvain sees him every day. He knows what Sylvain means. He’s just... done with everything. “Just go away, Sylvain.”
“Hey, you keep saying that to me and someday I might just do it.” Sylvain attempts to sound lighthearted. It falls flat.
“I can only hope.” Felix’s sneering tone falls equally as flat. There’s no bite in it. His eyes drop down to the sword in his hand, his fist clenching over the hilt until his knuckles turn white.
“Hey,” Sylvain says again, and his voice is suddenly very close.
Felix looks up, surprised to find Sylvain right in front of him. Reaching out, Sylvain takes the training sword and tosses it aside. Then he steps closer and wraps his arms around Felix’s shoulders.
Felix immediately tenses up, and tries to pull away, but Sylvain is taller and broader and has more raw strength to work with. His arms are like a very friendly vice grip around him.
It doesn’t feel good, Felix tries to tell himself. Sylvain certainly doesn’t smell good. He definitely doesn’t want to stay in his embrace, no, really he doesn't.
“Let go,” he hisses, struggling.
“C’mon Felix, just let me hug you this once.”
“What? No.” Felix wiggles an arm free and presses a hand against Sylvain’s throat, trying to push him away. He can feel Sylvain swallow against his palm, and tries not to let that distract him. “Let go.”
“Oh, fine.” Sylvain lets Felix go and steps back. “I just thought I’d return the favour.”
Now bewildered, Felix asks, “What favour?”
Sylvain shrugs, that careless one that makes Felix narrow his eyes. “You know, after Miklan. Doesn’t matter.” He’s turned away now and Felix can’t see his face. “I should get going. Try not to wear yourself out.” As he speaks, Sylvain walks towards the entrance to the training grounds.
Felix frowns. He hadn’t done what he did after Miklan’s death as some kind of favour that needed to be repaid. All he’d wanted was to make Sylvain feel better.
Sylvain, almost at the entrance, pauses. He turns back to Felix, not even bothering to conceal his hopeful expression.
Felix huffs. “Wipe that stupid look off your face.” He marches towards Sylvain like he’s going to the gallows, which does nothing but make Sylvain smile wider.
Purposely, Felix crashes into him with more force than Sylvain is expecting. They stumble slightly before Sylvain wraps his arms around Felix again and steadies them.
Hesitantly, Felix slides his own arms around Sylvain’s middle, locking his arms behind him, feeling incredibly awkward. He’s completely rigid. They stand there like that for a moment.
“See? Isn’t this nice?” Sylvain sounds like he’s suppressing a laugh.
“Shut up or I let go.”
“Nooo… “ Sylvain whines, tightening his grip. “Although, I think you might have bruised me. Possibly broken a rib. That was more of a tackle than a hug.”
Felix turns his face into Sylvain’s shoulder, feeling his face burn. “Shut up.” His fingers clutch into the fabric of Sylvain’s jacket and he relaxes, slightly. Just a little.
“I accept your apology, Felix,” Sylvain says, deadpan. “But we have to work on your hugging technique.”
There’s a pause, and they both shift against each other slightly, like they’re finding the best way to slot together. Neither moves to let go.
It’s definitely the longest Felix has ever hugged another person.
“I am sorry,” Sylvain says softly. “About your father.” He must feel Felix become tense again because he hurries to continue. “I know how you felt about him and I’m not telling you to… you know, how to deal. But he was your father. It’s okay to feel something about it.”
“You think I don’t know that?” The words come out less biting than Felix would have liked, because there’s something very comforting about being pressed against Sylvain like this. He can hear Sylvain’s thundering heartbeat under his ear and knows his own is hammering away just the same.
He feels a hand slide up his back, making him shiver.
Pulling back, he looks up at Sylvain, who’s looks like he’s thinking very hard about something. The hand keeps rising until Felix feels Sylvain’s touch against the back of his neck. He’s not wearing gloves and the calloused pads of his fingers are warm and even just that light touch feels incredible. How was it possible for something so simple to feel so good? Felix has to bite back an embarrassing moan. As it is, his eyes fall half closed and he leans into Sylvain’s touch.
A part of him wants more of this.
Another part of him wants to run away.
Something in Sylvain’s voice makes Felix’s breath catch and he tilts his head further up as Sylvain lowers his and then stops. There’s a pleading look in Sylvain’s eyes and his fingers tremble against Felix’s neck but he stills, waiting.
And Felix knows. Sylvain won’t push further than this.
He’ll wait for Felix to bridge that final gap.
Felix swallows heavily, eyes searching Sylvain’s face, a twist of uncertainty in his gut. As he hesitates, he sees a shadow fall over Sylvain’s face, and his gaze drops along with his expression.
The door to the training grounds suddenly opens, and they’re standing so close to it that it slams against Sylvain’s back, also hitting Felix’s arm. They spring apart like they’ve been scalded, but Felix doesn’t even take the time to see who it is or listen to their apologies before he’s brushing past them. He makes a beeline for the dorms at a fast pace, not sure if he wants Sylvain to follow him or not.
Sylvain doesn't follow.
Felix doesn’t stop until he’s in his own room, leaning back against the door.
His fingernails dig into the wood behind him as he tries to get his harsh breathing under control. He can still feel the touch of Sylvain’s fingers against his neck and he wonders if running away is the worst thing he could have done.
Felix sees Sylvain go down, knocked off his horse by the heavy blow of an axe while distracted with another enemy. In a flash, he’s over there, slicing down two soldiers on his way, and then killing Sylvain’s assailant with a burst of magic.
He drops to his knees beside Sylvain, letting go of his sword and for once forgetting the battle going on around him.
There’s blood everywhere. Sylvain’s armour had been no detriment. Felix begins shaking with the realisation that this is a fatal wound. No magic or vulnerary can help this.
“Sylvain,” he gasps, hands touching his face, smoothing back his hair, like somehow it would help.
Sylvain’s eyes focus on his with some difficulty. “Felix,” he whispers. “Don’t think I’m gonna keep our promise.”
His eyes flicker shut. Felix is shaking. He’s not even aware that he’s crying.
He didn’t cry when he father died.
He hasn’t cried since Glenn died.
“Shut up,” he whispers, choking on the words. Sylvain’s eyes flicker open again, that warm gaze that Felix loves–
He kisses him, a soft brush of his lips against Sylvain’s. It’s not the way he’s always imagined kissing Sylvain, when he actually allowed himself to imagine it. But it’s all they have left. He can taste the blood on Sylvain’s breath. He can taste the regret on his own. When he pulls back, Sylvain has the slightest smile on his face. His eyes are half closed and Felix knows their time together left is short.
“If dying is what it took to get you to kiss me, I’d have done it a long time ago.” Sylvain’s voice is weak, but he manages to raise his hand to tangle his fingers in Felix’s hair.
“Shut up,” Felix says again, resting his forehead against Sylvain’s. Then he notices the tears falling, hitting Sylvain’s face. “Don’t– don’t leave me.”
“I’m sorry, Fe,” Sylvain whispers and then he is gone.
His hand falls from Felix’s hair, landing with a soft thud on the bloodied ground.
Felix doesn’t move. He can’t. How can he possibly find the strength to stand ever again?
Footsteps approach and he lifts his head, hand instinctively searching for his sword without conscious thought. Through blurred eyes, he sees the Professor. He blinks, clearing his vision, and he takes in the heartbroken expression on her face.
She lifts her hand.
The world goes dark.
Felix cuts through an enemy soldier and then pauses, disorientated, like he’d just forgotten what he’d been doing.
He shakes his head. A battlefield is no place for distractions.
“Felix,” the Professor calls to him, urgency in her voice. “Get to Sylvain, now.”
He’s off in Sylvain’s direction before she’s finished speaking. He knows better than to question her – they all do – and as he sees the armoured knight raise his axe, Felix directs his magic towards him, killing him instantly. Sylvain lance skewers another solider, and then he turns his horse in Felix’s direction, sending him a grin.
“I owe you one!” He calls out.
You owe the Professor, Felix thinks irritably, and then, you owe me more than one, but the sight of Sylvain’s grin eases something in him, like he’s suddenly taken a deep breath after struggling to breathe.
There’s still a nagging feeling of dread, and perhaps it’s just the effects of the war or a nightmare he’d forgotten about. For a brief second an image of Sylvain rises in his head; broken on the ground, bleeding out, dying.
But he looks up again and it fades away at the sight of Sylvain on his horse, very much alive, still smiling at him.
That night at camp, the Professor finds him where he sits alone at the fire, brooding. Everyone else, save for the lookouts, are asleep. But he isn’t tired, even though he should be.
Byleth’s face seems more solemn than usual. She sits opposite Felix, on the other side of the fire. For a long time neither of them speak.
Finally, she asks, “Are you okay, Felix?”
“I am uninjured,” he replies.
A slight narrowing of her eyes. “Not what I asked.”
He says nothing. After a few moments he raises his eyes from the fire to meet hers. “What?” He snaps. “Say what you came here to say and then leave.”
The corner of her mouth lifts slightly. Felix doesn’t know what she thinks is so amusing. Like she guesses his thought, Byleth says, almost teasingly, “I just wonder what Sylvain sees in you.”
He straightens up, glaring at her to cover up how surprised he is at her words. “Don’t talk nonsense,” he says coldly.
Any trace of amusement on her face disappears, and for a moment she holds an unbearably sad expression, and Felix gets the strangest sensation of déjà vu, but he knows he’s never seen the Professor look like that before. He blinks, and the expression is gone, and so is the feeling. “Just don’t… don’t have regrets, Felix.”
He frowns at her. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
It’s half a lie, and it sits heavy on his tongue. He suspects what Byleth might be talking about, especially if she's bringing up Sylvain.
Byleth fixes him with a look that lets him know she thinks he’s full of shit and Felix can tell there’s more she wants to say, something she’s forcing herself to swallow back.
Eventually she says, “Sylvain’s alright. He wasn't hurt.”
“I’m aware,” Felix replies in his I think you’re being stupid tone that’s usually reserved for the man they’re discussing, and he suspects that whatever the Professor wanted to say, it wasn’t that.
“You keep looking at him like he’s going to disappear.”
Felix throws up his hands and scoffs at her. “Don’t you have better things to do than try and play matchmaker? Go away. ”
She’s completely unmoved by his ire, judging from the mild look on her face, but Byleth does stand to leave. “You should be aware that he looks at you the same way.” With that, she turns and walks away.
Felix is only just able to stop himself calling after her, does he really?
Dimitri’s coronation is even more of a stuffy and crowded affair than the ball at Garreg Mach had been, so many years ago. Unfortunately, this time Felix can’t slink around with a scowl on his face scaring everyone off, because so many people want to speak to Duke Fraldarius, who fought for so long at the king’s side.
It at least lets him avoid his friends. He’d left without saying goodbye not long after the battle in Enbarr, taking his battalion to help put down the small pockets of the Imperial army that hadn’t laid down their arms.
He did it mostly to avoid Sylvain, but Felix has long since realised it was the wrong thing to do.
At some point between his conversation with the Professor and the end of the war, Felix had finally admitted to himself that he was hopelessly in love with his best friend and had been for years. When he realised that, he’d also realised that he’d rather single handedly face down the entire Imperial army alone than speak those words out loud.
He needed time to get used to them in his own head, especially because he had half a notion that Sylvain would look at him that way he did sometimes and the words would come tumbling out before Felix was ready to say them.
And also because no matter what… weird tension so often seemed to appear between himself and Sylvain, and no matter what the Professor had insinuated, Felix couldn’t expect him to feel the same way.
So, Felix had thought that heading off on his way to continue fighting would be the best option.
To miss someone so much is, frankly, embarrassing.
And it's clear Felix has spent too much time around Sylvain, because in this situation it is definitely him that's the idiot. He’d spent the entire war afraid he’d lose Sylvain and now, even though they both survived, Felix has walked away and probably lost him anyway.
At some point today he is going to have to talk to Sylvain. It’s inevitable. But even though Felix bears Ingrid’s scolding and even has a somewhat civil conversation with the boar himself, whenever he’d caught sight of a red head and broad shoulders heading his way, Felix made use of the crowds to disappear.
Felix bears the polite and inane conversation for as long as he can before he slips outside into the gardens of the Fhirdiad palace. Little had changed in them since he’d been a child, so he meanders his way through the smaller amount of people out here until he gets to a spot they’d often played in when they were children.
It’s a small square, surrounded by high hedges. The entrance is an archway that blooms with roses at the right time of year.
Sylvain is already there, reclining on a bench. He doesn’t look surprised to see Felix.
Felix stops and lingers under the archway, unsure. He hadn’t expected to find anyone else here, much less the person he’s been avoiding but also really wanting to see.
Sylvain stands, smiling at him. “I got tired of trying to catch you, so I thought I’d come here and wait for you.”
Felix inspects him – words, smile, posture – for a hint of insincerity. There’s none. “You knew I’d be here?”
“Lucky guess, maybe? But, yeah, eventually. I know you’re not a fan of the crowds, especially not…” He gestures back in the direction of the palace, full of nobles obsessed with crests and bloodlines and who care more for the dead than the living, not needing to finish his sentence. Felix understands.
Sylvain starts walking towards him. “So, you gonna tell me why you’re avoiding me?”
Felix remains silent, torn. He doesn’t want to lie, which is why he’d been avoiding Sylvain. He should have known he’d just been putting off the inevitable.
Sylvain stops a few feet in front of him, a sad smile on his face. “I’ve been trying to think if I did something I need to apologise for, and –“
“You didn’t do anything,” Felix says with a shrug, looking away. “No more than usual.”
“Oh. Well, that’s good. Doesn’t answer my question, though.”
As he looks at Sylvain, Felix realises he’s hurt him with his disappearing act. He sighs. “Do you need an answer if I tell you I won’t do it again?”
“I guess not.” Sylvain seems subdued. “I can’t force you.”
Something coils in Felix’s stomach, and he shifts, becoming annoyed, his eyes drawn back to Sylvain. “Why do you look like someone’s kicked your puppy?”
“Because you weren’t here. I missed you.” Sylvain states the answer like it should be obvious.
“…Oh.” Felix has to look away before he speaks his next words. “I missed you too.”
When he looks back, Sylvain is smiling, truly smiling. Something about it makes Felix step closer towards him. Something about the way Sylvain is looking at him makes him ache.
Felix is tired of waking up hard and wanting, dreaming about Sylvain. He’s tired of missing him, of wondering. So he closes the remaining space between them, and grabs Sylvain’s shirt, pulling him down so that their faces are level.
Stupid, tall idiot.
He only just sees Sylvain’s eyes widen in surprise before Felix closes his own eyes and kisses him.
Sylvain makes a noise of surprise against his lips, but doesn’t pull away. Instead, he responds quickly, almost like he’s been hoping for this to happen, tangling his hands in Felix’s hair–
I like your hair
– and angling Felix’s head to deepen the kiss. Later, Felix would be embarrassed by the loud groan he makes when Sylvain’s tongue slides into his mouth, but right now he’s enjoying himself far too much to even care.
Eventually, he pulls away, gasping for air, but Sylvain follows his lips, like he can’t bear to stop kissing him. His hands slide down Felix’s back, drawing them closer together, while Felix decides to see what all the fuss is about and runs his fingers through Sylvain’s hair.
Sylvain arches into him with a moan, but then he draws back.
“Felix,” he says, his voice rough. “Wh–“
“I love you.” Felix rushes the words out, feeling his already flushed face burning hotter. If he doesn’t say it now he doesn’t think he ever will.
Sylvain’s eyebrows raise in surprise, and Felix squirms, wanting to run away again. But Sylvain holds him tight. “Is that why you ran away?” He asks, a sly smile crossing his face.
“I didn’t run away,” Felix responds peevishly, trying to shove Sylvain away and getting nowhere.
“I think you did,” Sylvain whispers with something like awe in his voice. “Over me.” He leans back down, this time letting his lips trail down Felix’s neck. Sylvain sighs into his skin, before sucking lightly and Felix stops trying to shove him away, instead holding him closer.
“Fuck, Felix,” Sylvain raises his head to meet his eyes. “You have to know I love you, too.”
Felix blinks, digesting his words. “How would– how would I know that? You never told me.”
“I thought you might punch me if I did.”
“That’s still a possibility if you don’t shut up and kiss me.”
“Oh!” Sylvain grins, clearly both delighted and surprised by this side of Felix. “Didn’t take you for the needy type– umph!”
Felix, tired of talking, takes the initiative, and jerks Sylvain against him to kiss him again.
“Margrave Gautier has arrived, my lord. He’s in the usual room.”
Felix, who has been writing a letter to Ingrid, pauses. He glances briefly up at his servant. “Thank you,” he says, voice even. “I’ll be right down.”
With a bow, the servant leaves, and Felix forgets about the letter, making his way down the winding set of stairs as fast as he can without drawing attention to himself. From there, he goes through the large halls and rooms into the smaller, more personal suite of rooms that Felix prefers to use.
He enters the private day room he knows Sylvain will be in, and closes the door behind them.
Sylvain, standing at the window, looking out over the landscape, turns as soon as he hears Felix approach. He smiles, that bright, glorious smile that lights up the room even in the bleak, grey weather they get so often here.
He’s opening his mouth to say something but Felix doesn’t care to hear it. They can talk later. Instead, he pulls Sylvain to him with more force than necessary, sliding a hand into his hair and kissing him.
He feels Sylvain’s smile against his lips.
He wakes as soon as Sylvain presses a kiss to the base of his spine, but Felix doesn’t move. Instead he stays still, lying on his stomach in his bed, head pillowed on his arms, and enjoys the slow progression of Sylvain’s lips up his back. When he reaches the back of his neck, Sylvain brushes away his hair and sucks gently on the sensitive skin, and Felix resists the urge to arch back into him.
“I know you’re awake,” Sylvain says in a sing-song voice, right in Felix’s ear.
Felix feels Sylvain sit back, and peeks out from under his arm, taking in the man straddling him. He’s highlighted by the early morning sun peeking in the window, setting his hair aflame. His eyes travel down over Sylvain’s broad torso, taking in with some satisfaction the marks he’d left on him last night.
“Do you want something?” He turns his head back into his arms, gasping into them when Sylvain rocks forward, letting Felix feel his erection against the cleft of his ass. This time, he does arch back, and he just feel Sylvain’s grin even if he can’t see his face.
“I think it’s you that might want something.”
Felix jerks backwards, knocking Sylvain off him and onto his back. Felix gives him no chance to recover, straddling him and leaning forward to capture Sylvain’s lips in a kiss.
Sylvain seems happy enough with his new position, his hands exploring Felix’s skin, from the curve of his ass, up his back, and around to his chest. Eventually, as always, one hand ends up in his hair, fingers running through the strands. Sylvain had already pulled it out of its tie last night, so Felix is sure it’s a complete mess. He pulls back to look at Sylvain, who raises himself up to follow Felix’s lips.
“Why are you so obsessed with my hair?”
Sylvain tugs him back down. “Because it’s so pretty,” he says against his lips.
There’s a biting response at the tip of Felix’s tongue, but he forgoes saying it so that he can actually bite Sylvain, detaching from his lips to leave another mark on his neck to go with the ones from last night. With a moan, Sylvain grinds against him, his fingernails digging into Felix’s back and Felix is reaching out blindly to the table beside his bed, searching for–
“Looking for this?” Sylvain asks slyly, and Felix raises his head to see that Sylvain already has the jar of oil open in his hand.
“Unusually prepared,” he mutters.
Grinning, Sylvain says, “Nah, unusually motivated.”
It’s not long before Sylvain’s warm, slicked fingers are sliding against Felix as he sits on top of him, working him up and Sylvain only laughs when Felix hisses at him to hurry up, continuing to take his time. Felix's complaints turn into moans, however, when Sylvain presses him backwards onto the bed, and he can only clutch Sylvain tightly, arching up to meet his thrusts as heat builds between them.
Sylvain’s mouth swallows Felix’s moans – or perhaps it’s the other way around, Felix can’t tell, not when they’re so close he's not sure where he ends and Sylvain begins.
And afterwards, when the heat between them is satisfied, for now at least, and has cooled down to something more boneless and languid, Felix curls up on Sylvain’s chest and they both doze for a time.
“Hey,” Sylvain murmurs after a while, his hands sliding up and down Felix’s back. “Do you remember when you kissed Dimitri?”
Felix raises his head, frowning. He reaches over to the table to grab a hair tie, annoyed by all the hair in his face. “Ugh. That was forever ago. Why are you mentioning it?”
Sylvain shrugs, jostling Felix, who pauses to glare. “Just thought it was cute.”
“Cute.” Felix’s voice is flat.
“Yeah, you were so cute and eager.” Sylvain sounds wistful. He snags the hair tie out of Felix’s hands and then starts gently gathering the hair in his own hands. As he works, his tone turns mischievous. “So not much has changed, really.”
Felix isn’t really enjoying this reminder of his childhood self, but he is enjoying Sylvain playing with his hair. So he only raises an eyebrow and replies mildly, “I suppose not. You’re still an idiot.”
Sylvain laughs, shaking them both as he finishes tying off Felix’s hair, and Felix knows something stupid is going to come out of his mouth next.
So he kisses him before he can say it.
And Sylvain, with his hands still in Felix’s hair, ready to undo all his work in tidying it up, happily lets him.