Wide of the Mark
Lightning crackles through the air, striking the ground not far from his feet. Sylvain stops dead, his grip tightening around his axe as he glances around frantically. Navigating the battlefield is hard without his horse, but it saves his life in that moment. It doesn't change the fact that he can barely see shit in the din around him, though.
A scream rips through the air, followed by another bolt. This time, the ground ten paces to his right lights up, and he turns to find the soil burnt black. Sylvain can't believe his luck. Twice a bolt has flown, and twice it's missed him.
The Goddess must love him, he thinks. His eyes dart around frantically, looking for who is possibly the world's worst mage. The Goddess must--
He's so surprised by the sight of Felix, that he actually falters in his step, tripping in the mud and slick of the ground below him. The other man, his once closest friend , glares back, his face rigid. His fingers crackle with electricity as his other hand rests on the pommel of his blade, and Sylvain knows intent when he sees it. Felix isn't one to sugar coat things. No, he's precise and to the point, and the man’s resolve is incredibly clear in that moment.
The Goddess hates him, Sylvain realizes bitterly.
Five years has always seemed like a long time, but as they stand there on the bleak field and stare at each other, Sylvain is surprised by how familiar it is. Like nothing has changed, like it’s still the old days .
Those moments in the training grounds with meager wooden spears and training blades between them.
But this isn't a training ground, and the magic that gathers at Felix's fingertips isn't for show. He has a sword of Zoltan at his hip, and Sylvain is suddenly conscious of the Lance of Ruin laying across his own back.
Still, Sylvain lets a smile slide across his face. It isn't full; it doesn't fill out his cheeks, or even look genuine, but it's familiar. And he can tell that it rattles Felix to the core.
"Hey Felix," he calls out, trying to keep his tone neutral. He can't stop the waver in his timbre though, or the slight hitch in his breath. His voice doesn't hide the way that his hands shake though, tightening around the grip of his weapon.
" Don't ," Felix immediately hisses.
They stand about twenty paces from each other, and Sylvain barely hears the snap of his voice.
But Sylvain tries. He wants, he's always wanted , and maybe it's too late for that. But he's going to try anyway, because there wasn't a point in not doing so.
Sylvain knows with crushing certainty that Felix will not let him live. Either his old friend feels the same, or he will strike him down were he stands.
He can think of worse ways to die.
"Felix--" he starts again, but the other man snaps his arm out.
Sylvain can smell the bolt through the air before it snaps down and sets fire to the ground beside him. But… it has missed again, and it dawns on Sylvain that Felix actually has the best aim of any mage he's ever seen. Thoron is a bitch of a spell, and its wild nature was notoriously difficult to control. He could have killed him the moment that he saw him.
The spell lands right where Felix wants it though, barely missing Sylvain, heat searing the side of his face.
It must mean something, Sylvain reasons. Felix wasn't the kind to hold back, to hesitate . There must be something there, buried deep in this cold, hardened version of himself.
Sylvain risks a step closer. He doesn't let his guard down, the leather of his axe grip squeaking under his sweaty palms, but he takes the risk. "Remember when we were kids?" he asks. "Remember the promise that we made?"
Felix has already started the sequence of the spell again, but stops dead. Hesitating. It's odd, seeing the man so unsure, so torn. His posture is rigid and he's ready, but something holds him back.
"We were children , Sylvain!" Felix finally yells back. His tone is berating.
"We promised to die together," Sylvain reminds him. The fighting continues around them, but it's like they are the only ones there, frozen in the middle of the battlefield and trained on each other.
"We were young and stupid!" Felix snaps.
"Stupid, huh?" Sylvain laughs. Its bitter and foul tasting as it bubbles up through him. "Any stupider than we are now? We're on opposite sides , Fe."
Felix bristles at the familiar nickname. "You were the one who left. You were supposed to be loyal ."
And like most times, Felix is right. And like most times, the words sting. He should have been loyal to Dimitri. He should be fighting along Felix's side to bring the kingdom back, but--
That isn't what he wants. Sylvain dreams of a future without crests and the weight of his bloodline pressing down on him. He wants a future where no one will ever suffer like Miklan did, all because he was born wrong .
Sylvain dreams of many things, actually, and those things will never be found in Faerghus, or with Dimitri. Claude has promised the moon and back, if they manage to pull a victory in this bleak and bitter war. And Sylvain isn’t stupid, he knows it will be a miracle to change the world-- but he’s willing to risk it.
For them. For Felix . Really, it's always been for Felix.
"For all your bravado, you truly don't hate the Boar as much as you claim," Sylvain finally says, his tone cool, knowing that it’ll anger Felix.
“ Sylvain-- ” the other man snaps, his fingers crackling with lightning once more.
“Really Fe, magic?” Sylvain taunts. “Can’t we settle this like old friends?”
Felix pauses again and the spell dissipates. “Shut up--”
“Don’t I deserve at least that?” Sylvain asks, eyeing the sword at Felix’s waist. He motions to it casually. “Just like old times?” It's a stupid bluff. Sylvain can hold his own when it came to spells, but it seems so impersonal.
Felix huffs, but drops his hand to his sword. It slides from the sheath effortlessly, the metal singing through the air. “I expect the same courtesy,” he finally says, and Sylvain knows what he means. He drops his axe and shield to the ground, before reaching for the Lance of Ruin.
It’s heavy in his hands and it thirsts for blood. He hopes desperately that he won’t have to use it.
Felix makes the first move and Sylvain expects it. He pushes back against the solid weight, swinging the lance in a high arc, but ultimately misses. Felix is too quick on his feet, dancing around Sylvain’s side and slicing toward a weak spot in his armor. Sylvain drops his stance a fraction, the blade meeting the metal of his armor before glancing off.
It hurts though, and he grimaces at the dull pain that thrums through his ribs.
Felix pulls back again, flicking his sword around with deft ease, as he slides back into a stance. Sylvan follows suit, gripping the lance like it's a lifeline. Not that he wants to.
"Seems like we're about to kill each other," Sylvain says, and this time he can't stop the slight choke to his words. He watches as Felix tightens his sword grip, as his stance tenses-- and then as his lips turn downwards into a familiar frown.
Felix is uncomfortable, and Sylvain's gaze softens.
"Fe, I don't want to do this," he tries.
" Shut up--" Felix starts, but he can't finish the sentence. He shakes with rage, his sword rattling in his hand. He shakes with rage, and frustration and feeling . And Sylvain knows how much this hurts. " Fuck ," Felix snaps bitterly. "I don't want to do this either, I don't want to--"
Sylvain lets him have a moment to compose himself, and before long Felix is rigid again, his stance reset and his sword balanced at the ready.
"I'm sorry Sylvain," he says, his voice quiet with regret. "You'll die first."
"I'm sorry, old friend. I won't allow it."
They meet in the middle again, Felix's sword scraping along the grip of the lance. Sylvain barely has a moment to let go and avoid losing his knuckles to the graze. His weapon is too heavy for one hand though, so he swings it in a wild arc to recover his stance.
Felix takes advantage, sliding close, pushing at him. Sylvain loses his grip, and Felix clocks him hard in the ribs with an elbow. The impact is immediate and he drops the Lance of Ruin.
But Felix pauses again, his sword grip uncertain and his gaze annoyed.
"We don't have to do this," Sylvain says.
"You've forced my hand," Felix bites back. "You've got no one to blame but yourself." There's a dangerous edge to his voice that Sylvain doesn't like, and he worries that Dimitri has rubbed off more than anticipated.
Sylvain makes no move to retrieve the lance, instead pulling his fists up. "Let's go back then," he says. "To all those years ago, before swords and lances. To when were stupid kids fighting in the mud."
Felix considers this for a moment, and then sheathes his blade. His fingers make quick work of the fastenings of his sword belt, and soon it's tossed to the ground. "This won't give you an edge," he taunts. "I won't let you leave here alive."
"I don't doubt it," Sylvain chuckles darkly.
Sylvain isn't as good at hand-to-hand as Felix, but if he's going to die, he'd rather it be up close and personal. He tries to remember the grappling techniques that Raphael has taught him. He mentally lists off the forms and drills that the Professor runs them through.
He likely won't win this, but he can at least put on a good show. He wants Felix to remember this day forever.
As expected Felix moves first. He's light and quick on his feet, throwing himself at Sylvain. He's heavier though, grappling onto Felix easily, throwing him to the side. There's no finesse to it, it's not like Felix's calculated steps, but it manages to topple him.
Felix recovers quickly, striking out again, hand held firm and his arm snapping out like a snake. Sylvain grabs him by the arm and twists, throwing him again. There's a crunch under his fingertips, and Felix's lets out a snarl in pain. A grimace is thrown across his face, but Sylvain holds firm.
Neither of them move, and Felix manages to say, "I won't yield."
"I don't want you to," Sylvain replies. This is the closest they've been in years, and he can see the tiredness that stretches across the other man's face. Dark lines etched into his skin, and gray circles that line the underside of his eyes. He’s more handsome than ever.
Felix is tired of the fighting too. He's exhausted, and he wants everything to end. And still he struggles against him despite his pain, scrambling in Sylvain's grip.
"Fe," Sylvain says, holding firm. "Stop," he pleads. "It doesn't have to end this way."
But the smaller man slips from his grasp and the tables are quickly turned. Felix throws his weight into Sylvain, causing his feet to slip. The rain ended hours ago, but the mud hasn't dried yet, and he falls heavily to the ground with a thud.
Felix holds him down firmly, his legs slotted around Sylvain's hips. One arm hangs limply at his side, broken and useless, but in true Felix fashion, he ignores it. “You--” Felix starts, but stops.
Sylvain gets it; he understands. There’s a million things that he wants to say, and not enough time. Felix has always been apathetic at his best, but there’s none of that here. Instead, he looks tortured, like he doesn’t know what to do.
Sylvain moves to push him off, and it’s as if the spell that had fallen over Felix has lifted. He’s faster, despite his injury, and his hand whisks to his hip. And then there’s the press of cold metal against Sylvain’s gut, settled carefully between the plates of his armor.
Sylvain’s breath catches. He is stupid, he’s so stupid . He shouldn’t have let his guard down, but--
But this is Felix .
At this point, Sylvain doesn’t care if it’s ill placed romanticism or not, he holds out that Felix might still change his mind. Even if he’s holding a sharp blade to the fleshy part of his stomach.
They each wait for the other to make a move. Sylvain is stock still, just looking , and that pisses Felix off. “ What ,” he snaps, but his words have less bite than his pinched expression does.
“I’m…” He’s what? They’re in the middle of a battlefield and Sylvain is about to die. It doesn’t matter if there's a war raging around them, they are solely trained on each other, and the cold steel that Felix presses harder and harder against him.
But still not hard enough.
Finally, Sylvain settles on, “I’m just trying to remember it.”
But it’s already too late and he’s babbling, ignoring Felix’s plea. “Your face, I mean. Commit it to memory, or something stupid and sappy like that--”
Felix shifts above him and the blade moves, this time slipped between the plates at his chest. At his heart. Sylvain falls silent. Felix breathes heavily, his chest heaving, like he’s one shred away from hyperventilating. Sylvain knows that it isn’t the rush of battle. Felix’s hand shakes, the knife knocking against his plate armor with a soft tinkle.
Stupid , Sylvain thinks. His hands never shake. Felix is always sure of everything .
“What do you have to say for yourself?” Felix asks, cutting into the tense moment.
Sylvain wants to think of something witty, but there isn’t enough time.
“Any last words, for a man as pathetic as yourself?” Felix continues. Instead, Sylvain just looks at him, which pisses Felix off. There’s a crinkle to the man’s mouth, as his lips press flat into a thin line. Sylvain is silent for a moment too long, because the blade digs deeper, pricking his skin and he winces.
“ Say something!” Felix screams at him, and his voice cracks.
Finally. There it is, the chip in his carefully maintained facade.
“Fe,” Sylvain says quietly. He finally moves, his hand sliding up Felix’s good arm.
Felix can sense the words about to come. His reaction is instant and he tenses, his shoulders stiffening. His arm already pulling away. “Don’t--” he starts.
“You know, I’ve always been pretty late to the party but--”
“ Don’t you dare Sylvain ,” Felix begs him. His face is red and tortured looking, as he shakes above him. Trying to decide whether or not to plunge the knife in.
“Felix.” Sylvain’s hand finds his face, resting there gently. Felix’s cheek is dirty and caked in mud, and he thumbs at it softly.
“ You can’t, ” Felix snaps, his eyes welling up. Felix has always been able to read him well, and this moment isn’t any different, it seems. Sylvain can’t remember the last time he saw the man cry though, and he can’t stand to see the tears that slip down Felix’s cheeks.
“Felix, I love you. But you’ve always known that, haven’t you?”
Felix answers him by plunging the knife deep into his chest.
He’s bad at people. He’s even worse with those he actually cares about. Sylvain finally says the words that he’s wanted to hear for longer than he’d ever care to admit, and he responds by killing him. Let it be known that Felix still lives up to his reputation.
He panics because he wasn’t planning on actually doing it -- not really. But with the shaking of his limbs, unable to catch his breath and then-- He’d spared a glance upwards during Sylvain’s idiotic diatribe, only to see Dimitri thirty paces away with a bland look of expectation .
Felix knows that the Boar would have killed Sylvain without a second glance, before moving on to the next head to crack. Felix also knows that it wouldn’t have been pleasant. Really, he'd meant protect him.
Sylvain doesn’t even look angry, the bastard. His breath hitches as the knife slides into his flesh, and he lets out a groan of pain. He has this stupid placid look on his face, like he’s pleased with himself, like he’s finally done something right his life. Felix hates him in that moment.
And he’s about to tell him that, when Sylvain’s eyes grow glassy.
Felix panics again. “No,” he snaps, throwing his knife to the side. “No, no, no .” He buries his fingers between the plates of his armor, trying to find the fastenings, but this suit isn’t like the ones Sylvain wore when they were younger. He yells in frustration, as his gaze snaps back up to look around them.
Dimitri is gone, having watched Felix take care of the problem .
He’s made a mistake, Felix has made the mother of all mistakes.
“Stop,” Sylvain groans from underneath him.
“ Shut up ,” Felix demands.
Sylvain opens his mouth to laugh at his predictable response, but he coughs instead, blood bubbling up over his lips.
It’s too late, Felix realizes, it’s too fucking late and it’s all his fault. He’s killed the only person he’s ever really cared about.
“At least…” Sylvain manages weakly, but then his eyes droop slowly, before closing. And then Sylvain goes slack underneath him.
The blood in his veins turns ice cold, as Felix regards him for a second. And then he grips him by the shoulders hard, shaking him harder , begging him to wake up. Cursing him when he won’t. His screams are lost in the battle and the water in his eyes blur everything in front of him. He can’t see Sylvain’s face anymore, he’ll never see his face again and--
There’s a hand at his shoulder and he jumps a foot in the air. It’s so unlike him, all of this. He’s a pathetic and sobbing mess, and he really doesn’t want anyone to see that.
It’s Mercedes at his side, covered head to toe in mud and blood, circles under her eyes and her breath ragged from exhaustion. “Dimitri is looking for you,” she says quietly.
“To hell with that Boar,” he snaps, and she sighs. Her face is caught in a look somewhere between pity and sorrow. She’s about to open her mouth to say something else, when a pitiful sob wracks through him. “ Please ,” he pleads.
He watches her stiffen with the request. Felix has seen her perform miracles before. He’s heard of the time she brought someone back from the dead. It’s an impressive tale, that even years later, he hasn’t forgotten.
And Sylvain is still laying there, fresh in his arms.
“Felix I--” But her words cut short as her lip trembles. It’s a cruel thing to ask her, he knows. Mercedes has a bleeding heart, and she and Sylvain had been close . His betrayal to Dimitri had cut her deep.
“Mercedes, please,” he tries again. “I shouldn’t have-- Dimitri --” Words fail him though, and he can’t articulate what he means.
Mercedes reaches out again, pressing gentle fingers against his forehead to push back his sweaty bangs. “I know,” she says. “ I know , Felix.” She saw him do this, he realizes-- she saw him kill Sylvain. And yet, instead of being by Dimitri’s side on the front lines, she’s here, comforting him.
The boar might have been a violent shell of who he once was, but Mercedes cares . She loves .
“Mercie,” he sobs, and he knows he looks and sounds so fucking pathetic. “I can’t do this anymore,” he finishes. “I thought I could, I thought I’d just move on-- I thought that I had . But then there he was and now he’s gone. I’ve fucked this up, I always fuck it up.”
He knows he’s babbling about things he’s never really shared before, but she nods, smoothing out his hair gently.
“Fix it,” he pleads. “Mercie, fix it .”
Something comes across her face in that moment. He knows what he asks her is a lot. He knows that Dimitri wouldn’t be pleased if he found out. Felix watches Mercedes weigh her options. He knows though, that she’s tired of all of this , just like he is. He was born with a sword in his hand, but he’s tired of the death and despair. He’s tired of blindly following the Boar.
And she is too.
Mercedes manages a small smile, tucking a bang behind his ear and patting his cheek lightly. Her fingers are cold and clammy against his skin, but her smile is as warm as the sun. “Of course,” she finally says, “But I’ll need your help moving him.”
Felix has never realized how big Sylvain really was in comparison to himself, until trying to move his dead weight. Mercedes notices his wrecked arm, but he brushes it off. He sees her frown, but she doesn’t push him. She knows it’s pointless.
“We have to move quick,” he tells her and he isn’t sure why-- Mercedes knows that better than anyone.
He kneels in the mud, his feet slipping slightly as she helps him shoulder Sylvain. It’s awkward, but she does her best, as she arranges his body across his back. Sylvain is heavy and lifeless against him, as Felix readjusts his grip the best he can with only one good arm.
Mercedes holds him up from the other side. “Our forces are to the north,” she says, glancing that direction. “Dimitri will be holed up there.”
“So Southward,” Felix grunts softly.
“More Westward,” Mercedes says instead. “Dimitri will expect us to go south, but if we head towards the Empire--”
“That’s suicide,” Felix snaps.
Mercedes is quiet, and then says, “What we’re doing now is suicide.”
Felix snaps his mouth shut and heaves a heavy sigh. “Southwest it is,” he begrudgingly agrees, as he heaves a heavy breath. They manage an awkward shuffle towards the tree cover, and the confusion of battle works in their favor.
A half hour later, Felix can’t hold him anymore. Mercedes says nothing as his knees buckle, and he throws Sylvain to the ground with little grace. Felix tumbles down beside him, laying across the ground, not caring how dirty it gets him. He’s already coated in mud and blood, what’s a little more?
Mercedes checks Sylvain first, throwing a concerned glance around them. “It can’t wait any longer,” she says quietly. “It isn’t safe here, but--”
“Then get on with it,” Felix replies harshly, but immediately grimaces at his tone. Mercedes has thrown herself into this with him, and therefore her future. He should treat her with far more respect. Sitting up, he wipes his brow with his sleeve, trying to get the sweat out of his eyes. “I’m sorry Mercedes--”
He’s cut off by gentle fingers on his bad arm. His mouth snaps shut, as Mercedes wordlessly pulls at his tunic closure, pulling it half off. His arm is purple and swollen near the elbow, and it’s clear that it’s broken clean through. Felix barely spares the injury a glance. “Sylvain managed to--” he starts, but Mercedes interrupts him.
“I know,” she says, pulling his arm into a certain position. It’s a searing pain, and he yelps.
“I don’t deserve it,” he murmurs. He doesn’t deserve his arm to be fixed. It would serve him right, for his arm to be mangled the rest of his life, for what he’s done.
The healer tuts at him. “Don’t be ridiculous.”
“But Sylvain--” he tries instead.
“One moment won’t make a difference. Yours is a simple matter.”
It isn’t often that Mercedes is firm with her words, but he hears the finality of her tone. She won’t take no for an answer, no matter how he tries to persuade her. Instead, Felix finally looks at her, and then at her hands. He watches as her fingertips glow warm, caressing over his skin. He grimaces as his bones knit back together, but she soothes the irritation with soft words. Kind words. Words that he doesn’t deserve.
“You must think me a fool,” he finally says.
She lets out a soft hum and then, “You are a man with very clear values.”
“He left us, Mercedes.” He can’t hide the pain in his words.
She doesn’t immediately answer. Instead, she pokes and prods at his arm, carefully making sure that she’s repaired most of the damage. His arm aches bone deep, but he can still feel the warmth of her magic as she checks for leftover cracks.
“Why did you stay with Dimitri?” she finally asks.
Felix blinks at the unrelated question. “What does that--”
“You hate him,” she says simply. “You love him as well. You admire him and he’s your friend , but you also hate him. Despite everything, you care for him. And so you did for Sylvain as well.” She deems her work done, motioning to his tunic once more. She helps him slip it back on and refasten it. “What was the one thing in the world that Sylvain wanted?”
“The be free of his responsibility,” Felix snorts. He shakes out his arm and then rotates it, seeing his range of motion.
The look that Mercedes wears is a strangely calculating one, like she’s disappointed with him. “Perhaps you didn’t pay enough attention then,” she surmises.
Felix stills, his heart pounding. It wasn’t that he never paid attention, it’s that he ignored it. He ignored the closeness they had. He ignored Sylvain quite entirely, because of all the things that he thinks about himself, it’s his glaring inadequacy that stands out the most.
And now he regrets it.
He’s about to reply, when she stands up carefully, moving to sit beside Sylvain. “There was only one thing Sylvain ever wanted, Felix, and that was you . He knew that wasn’t a possibility if the Kingdom won.”
Felix stares at her back, his lip trembling slightly. He’s underestimated Sylvain, it seems. The man probably bemoaned his woes to the woman, and Mercedes had probably listened with an open ear.
Part of him is jealous, and part of him is relieved.
He moves to her side, helping slip off his armor without a word. And as she works, he protects. He will protect them with his life, if he has to.
It’s the least that he can do.
It’s been a long time coming, Mercedes thinks.
Sylvain is cold to the touch, but there’s a little color still clinging to his skin, so it’s not too late. She hopes.
She is perhaps the only person who was not surprised by Sylvain’s departure, but honestly, Felix should have known better. Felix isn’t stupid, he’s just fucking blind , and yes, she means the swear.
Really, these boys.
The wound that Felix left is messy, so unlike his usual precision. It’s a testament to his shaking hands and barely contained rage. Bringing someone back from the dead isn’t an easy ordeal, and even if she’s been successful before… Well, she’s almost positive that it was a fluke. Felix at the time had only been mostly dead, not entirely dead .
And Sylvain was definitely entirely dead.
Felix is off to the side, cradling his arm, his fingers wrapped around his elbow gingerly. She knows that it hurts. Resetting a bone isn’t hard, but knitting it back together is a painful process. Despite Felix holding a strong face and barely flinching, she knows that there’s a residual ache that is hard to ignore.
And still, he sits there on a rock. Ever vigilant. The tree cover around them is thick, but they aren’t safe . If Dimitri realizes that they’ve deserted and comes looking for them this way… Well, she tries not to think about it. He sits with a knee up, his sword across his lap and ready for a quick draw, and his eyes dart around frantically. High alert.
She turns back to Sylvain and smiles weakly. He’s grown so much, she thinks, her fingers sinking into his grimy hair. Handsome as ever of course, but his face is relaxed in a way she only saw when he was in the presence of a certain someone.
Mercedes remembers a certain night suddenly. Sylvain drunk beyond compare, bemoaning his family and general existence.
I don’t know what to do, Mercie. They want me to marry off, and then there’s crest babies, and I just don’t care much for that.
It hadn’t been anything new to her, she remembered thinking, but she had listened all the same. And then Sylvain had uttered words that surprised her.
I’m a fool aren’t I? To love him so much.
Felix, of course. Who else?
Mercedes has nowhere to go, so she follows Dimitri with blind faith. And Dimitri has led to Sylvain’s death and his cold body before her. The anguish on Felix’s face, as he shoved the knife between the armor plates, his scream when Sylvain fell limp in his arms.
Fix it , Felix sobbed, tears streaming down his cheeks.
Another memory had struck her in that moment. A different man, red hair and blood-stained armor, cradling someone close to his chest. Felix had looked so small in his arms, broken and mostly dead.
Fix him , Sylvain had begged, barely able to stand in the medical tent. “ I don’t care how, just find a way, Mercie.”
Of course she will. Her heart aches for these two, her precious boys. They always seem to do things backwards.
Dimitri was so lost that she wasn’t sure that she could find him again. He was beyond healing.
But there was still hope for Sylvain.
Everything really fucking hurts .
He feels like he’s been put through a mortar and pestle, ground to a fine dust and then somehow put back together. The groan that rips out of his mouth is barely a sound. His throat is dry and parched, and he feels like he hasn’t had a sip of water in a year.
It feels like he--
Suddenly he remembers. Felix’s handsome face, dark circles cut deep under his eyes and his signature sneer replaced by red-hot frustration. The glint of metal and the sharp prick against his skin, just before Felix goes rigid and--
Sylvain throws himself into a sitting position and immediately regrets it. There’s a lancing pain across his chest and it’s almost as though the breath has been kicked out of him. He presses a hand to his chest and tries to suck in air.
He remembers floating through the dark and cold. He remembers the feeling of nothing .
He should be dead.
Felix stabbed him and he should be dead. Really, really dead .
There’s a gentle hand on his thigh and he jumps. It’s Mercedes, all serene smile and soft fingers. She squeezes his leg softly. “Shh,” she soothes, guiding him back against the pillows.
He wants to ask, but he can’t find the words. His throat feels like the grinding papers that Felix--
“He’s right over there,” she says quietly, jerking her head in a direction past him. Sylvain turns, barely able to make out a person shaped lump on another bed, wrapped tightly in blankets. “He needed rest, so I cast sleep on him. He won’t be happy about it when he wakes.”
That makes him laugh, but it comes out like an awkward squawk. Still, how very like the both of them. Mercedes pats his knee gently, before she lets go and leans closer. She presses her fingers against his forehead, testing the temperature.
Which implies that he had been cold. Which implies that he had been dead.
Why wasn’t he dead anymore?
“Mercie,” he manages finally. The words are dusty, but understandable.
She smiles in return. “It was a close call,” she admits. Sylvain realizes that her smile doesn’t quite reach her eyes.
“I’m pretty sure that it was past close.” It’s the first full sentence he’s managed, and it’s difficult to articulate. It’s kind of like his mouth doesn’t want to move, and he has to really work at it.
He wants to ask about Felix, but he can't. Not yet. Not when his head is still spinning, and he has to think to make his body work. So instead, he asks, "Where--?"
"Nowhere safe," she murmurs. "But we've left the company."
The implication of her words isn't lost on him. If they aren't on the battlefield any longer, then that means that they've deserted. And as far Dimitri was concerned, he probably views that particular complication as a death sentence.
“Felix--” Sylvain finally manages, but the question remains lodged in his throat.
There a sudden dip in her expression, a slight furrow in her brow. “Sylvain,” she starts, and moves to interrupt her, but he stops when she grabs his hand gently. Her fingers are soft, and her skin is warm against his palm. “Don’t hate Felix.”
"How bold of you to assume," he says with light humor. His voice cracks slightly as he chuckles. “Mercie,” he continues, unable to hide the fondness in his tone, “I could never hate him.”
It’s a long moment as she watches him, but finally she smiles. She reaches out, straightening the collar of his his dirty and torn shirt. “It’s not that I doubted you,” she says lightly. Her laugh is a balm across the tense moment.
“I’m angry,” he admits. “I’m so angry but… I love him, so it’ll be okay.” And then Sylvain paused, a pained grimace coming across his face. He wasn’t sure if it was wound, or Mercedes’ kindness, or the idea that maybe things won’t actually be okay, despite it all.
Then he realized exactly what he had said, and while it’s not like Mercedes doesn’t know , it’s still pretty embarrassing. But the crook of her mouth in response lights up the room, and for the first time since he’s woken up, there’s a small sense of peace.
“He’ll need time,” she finally says.
If there’s one thing about Felix, it’s that everything he does is wholeheartedly, but he doesn’t know how to articulate those feelings. Sylvain would bet the rest of his life that Felix will avoid him for as long as possible, so he doesn’t have to come to terms with things.
Still, it’s endearing, if anything, and Sylvain’s expression softens. “Yeah well, I would say that he’s worth the wait, you know? I’ve been to death and back at this point, what’s a little longer?”
Mercedes laughs quietly, before telling him to rest.
Sylvain sleeps for nearly three days straight and the next time he wakes, it’s not Felix by his bedside.
Not that he really expects him to be, if he were to be honest. What he doesn’t expect however, is a hearty slap on his leg and the charming laugh of Claude .
“You look like death warmed up,” the man says with humor, pulling away when Sylvain hitches slightly in pain. The ache is still there, but it’s better. He thinks.
“Well, I mean--”
“No need to explain,” Claude cuts him off, holding up a hand. “Mercedes already did.” Then something somber falls across his face, and he continues with, “When the battle was over and we couldn’t find you, we thought the worst.”
“Ah well, you know me,” Sylvain jokes, “Spurned lovers and all of that. Figures it’d be Felix to finally do me in.”
“Felix?” Claude asks, and Sylvain realizes that he’s made a mistake. While Mercedes had filled him in , as it were, she hadn’t given him specific particulars. Such as Felix being the one to do him in. When Sylvain doesn’t answer immediately, Claude presses his fingers to his chin in thought. “I suppose it’s not surprising,” he says carefully.
“It’s… complicated,” Sylvain replies.
Claude taps his chin. “Is it though? Or is that an excuse?”
It isn’t the first time that Claude has imparted his surprising and unwanted wisdom. Sylvain sighs, pressing back into his pillow and staring at the ceiling. “Claude, why are you even here?” he asks, desperate to change the topic.
Claude regards him carefully, but obliges. “Who do you think I am?” he asks, affronted. “You’re one of my men Sylvain. We looked for you in that blasted field for more than a day. I was expecting to have to bury you in pieces.”
“You split off on your own,” the other man admonishes. “You ignored Teach--”
“I was thrown from my horse,” Sylvain interrupted. “A bolt of Thoron spooked her, and with all the mud and fog, I got lost. And then there was--” He pauses, swallowing thickly. “There was Felix . It wasn’t that I didn’t think he wouldn’t… It was more that hoped that he wouldn’t… well, you know.”
Sylvain watches Claude think. He watches as his eyebrows draw tightly, and as he takes a deep breath. “Don’t take this the wrong way,” Claude says, “but the two of you have always read like an open book. I mean, have you seen the both of you in a room together? Whatever it is between the two of you… you could literally choke each other with it.”
Sylvain turns his gaze towards the golden-skinned man who sat at his bedside, his arms crossed smugly. “Honestly,” Claude continues. “It’s about fucking time for the two you to start talking about feelings .”
“Claude, he murdered me in cold blood.”
“I mean, yeah, that’s pretty bad as far as arguments go. Makes for a good story to tell the grandchildren, though.”
Sylvain groans at first, but he can’t help the smile that spreads across his lips. “I think that we both know there aren’t going to be grandchildren.”
Claude hums thoughtfully. “Do you remember what you told me a while back, when we met at Garreg Mach again?” Sylvain blinks, because no, he doesn’t quite. That was months ago, and time seems to drag on forever when war was involved. Things are lost and easily forgotten, when you’re so distracted. “You told me that you wanted to forge a world who didn’t give a crap about who you are. You maintain that your motivation is entirely selfish, but it isn’t. Everything that you’ve done, has been so no one will have to suffer like your brother did. Like you still do . And that’s my goal, you know? I want people to live the life that they want to, not that is expected.”
“Claude, if this is another one of your unwanted snippets of advice--”
“You’ve been given another chance, and you really shouldn’t waste it.”
Sylvain looks to Claude, whose green eyes glimmer back at him. He’s amused. And slightly annoyed, but mostly amused. He slaps at his knee again, and then says, “Now then. When are you cleared for field duty? It’s high time we get back to base.”
Claude stands up, stretching his arms high above his head, prompting Sylvain to lean forward in the bed. “You can’t expect me to leave him here,” he says, his voice wavering just a tiny bit. Not when they’ve just found each other again. Not when they haven’t even properly talked about it all.
And Claude blinks back at him, baffled. “What? Of course not. He’ll come with us, of course. I won’t take no for an answer.”
The trip back to Garreg Mach takes longer than expected, and it’s mostly Sylvain’s fault.
Mercedes imparts her delight whenever she can, as to how well he’s recovered thus far. Not that he feels any useful. He can barely stand, let alone walk on his own, and he’s quarantined to the supply cart under the guise of easy transport .
Even if he’s doing better than expected, he’s not happy to be sleeping next to wheels of sharp cheese and eggs that are slightly past their prime.
Felix still keeps to himself. Sylvain still expects it, and he tries to tell himself that it doesn’t really hurt, but it does. It stings, and that burn gets worse every day. It’s because he misses that man’s stupid face, even if he can imagine the expression that he’ll carry.
But Dimitri is dead , he’s learned, and until very recently, he was too. Felix’s mind must be reeling with emotions that he really doesn’t want to deal with .
Shame and embarrassment, Sylvain thinks. Claude banks on utter disregard instead, touting that Felix was a prime example of someone who internalizes everything. He isn’t wrong, per se. Regardless, Sylvain aches , and he’s not sure if it’s because he’s recovering from being very dead , or a severely broken heart .
“It isn’t broken,” Mercedes hums. It’s their last night on the road, and they should see the monastery cresting the horizon sooner than later.
“ Yet .”
It isn’t often she frowns, but she directs one right at him, pulling his bandages just a smidge tighter than usual. He yelps slightly in return. “I told you to give him time,” she reprimands softly.
“It’s been over a week,” he says morosely. “I really am a fool,” he sighs. “Muttering such stupid things in the haze of death. He probably thinks the worst of me.”
Her fingers pause momentarily and she sighs. “He thinks worse of himself,” she says, and the moment the words leave her mouth, Slyvain knows them to be true.
“He should know me better than that,” he replies.
“Whatever does that mean?”
“It means that he should know that I forgive him.”
She finishes the rest of her mending in silence, before helping his shirt back on. It’s a spare from Claude, and it’s a little tight, but he makes do. Once he settles back into the cot, she fusses over his hair, brushing back his bangs. “It’s not you that he’s worried about,” she finally says, “And you know that. He won’t come to you until he’s forgiven himself.”
“ Fantastic ,” Sylvain groans. “I’m to be single forever, then. Spend the rest of my life in lonesome misery.”
Mercedes gives him a gentle smile, before slapping his shoulder hard. “Oh don’t be so dramatic.”
He doesn’t say anything back though, just smiles at her as he rubs at his bruised shoulder.
It’s been two weeks, three days and about four hours, since the last time Sylvain has seen Felix. He’s been bored enough to count, and worried enough to think that the time actually means something. It doesn’t, really. He knows this. Claude knows this, Mercedes knows this, the entire Golden Deer house knows this. And everyone knows by now. No one really talks about it and they’re careful about what they say around him, but their encouragement lingers. Their kind words mean something at least.
And then Hilda says something that actually tips the scale. “All this time you spend complaining about his dumb ass,” she says to him one night, “when you could have easily just gone to him instead. Your legs aren’t broken as well, are they?”
Yeah, he was pretty stupid to not think of that, but he’s also distracted. He still hurts and he still feels off sometimes, and he spends most of his time trying to be normal again. It’s harder than he would care to admit.
Felix is predictably at his usual haunt. The training grounds are hot and humid, and smell like day-old sweat. Felix has his back to him. He throws around a blade in familiar arcs near the center of the room, but his footwork his sloppy and his efforts seem half-hearted.
Something about him looks broken.
“Go away,” Felix calls out, not even bothering to look. “I’m tired of your pity and pep talks. I don’t care who it is, just leave me be.”
Sylvain sighs, stepping closer. His footsteps seem loud in the room, but Felix ignores him. Instead, he slices at the training dummy. The blade slaps flat against it with a dull thud. There isn’t any heat to his strike, and it’s so unlike Felix that it damn near breaks Sylvain’s heart.
“Felix,” he finally says, and the other man stops dead. Sylvain can see him trembling, he can see him about to run away, like a startled deer. “No,” he says before Felix can do so. “Don’t--”
“I said to leave me be,” Felix snaps, still not looking at him.
“We need to talk,” Sylvain replies.
“ Go away !” Felix says once more, his voice heated.
A swell of emotion falls over Sylvain, and he snaps as well, a rare moment of anger. “You owe me that much,” he yells back, and even though Felix is looking away, he can see the way that his jaw clenches. “I said some things,” Sylvain continues, his voice falling quiet. He’s close enough now to see the tired sag of Felix’s shoulders. “And it wasn’t easy, Fe. None of that was easy for me.”
“Fuck off,” Felix replies, moving to hone on on the dummy once more. His voice lacks bite though, and it wavers with frustration.
“Stop,” Sylvain asks, but the other man makes no move to do so. When he strikes this time, it’s harder, with intent, and the blade cuts into the wicker of the trainer viciously. “ Felix --”
“I won’t warn you again,” Felix cuts in with. There’s another thwap and his blade slices clean through the arm on the dummy.
“You’ve already killed me once,” Sylvain jokes, but the words taste sour in his mouth. This isn’t how this conversation is supposed to go. “What could you possibly do to me now?”
Felix hesitates, his sword dropping an inch. Then he tenses again. “Then you should know better than anyone that I follow through on my threats.”
“You don’t mean that--”
“I’ve killed you once, I can absolutely kill you again.” The other arm falls from the dummy, Felix’s blade slicing through like butter.
“Don’t be ridiculous. You lasted like two minutes before you changed your mind. Admit it, you love me.”
Felix lets out a growl, and Sylvain winces. Yeah, he doesn’t like his tone either, but he wasn’t good with things like feelings-- neither of them were. He masks his discomfort with badly timed humor, and that rarely actually works for him.
Felix pushes harder, sword swinging faster and sweat dripping from his brow. His form is sloppy again, his footwork slipping and--
“Felix,” Sylvain says, reaching out to grab at his wrist. “Stop, you’ll hurt yourself.”
Felix yells out in frustration, but drops his blade. It clatters to the ground, metal scraping across the stone floor. And then he pushes at Sylvain. His hands are hard against his chest, and Sylvain grunts slightly. The area is still tender and aches, but he holds his ground.
It annoys Felix. “You had to ruin things,” he finally snaps. “With your fucking feelings . Why couldn’t you--” He growls and pushes at Sylvain again. “You should have just-- I don’t know why--” Felix lets out a groan of frustration. “You left . You promised me, and then you just left .”
Oh . That’s what this is about. Sylvain catches his forearms before he can push at him again. Felix’s face is red, contorted in anger, like a feral beast. He tries to pull away, but Sylvain is bigger and stronger.
“You’re so stupid ,” Felix hisses. “So fucking stupid. So-- so--”
Sylvain shifts, pulling Felix in close. Felix fights the grip, prompting Sylvain to quiet him. “Hey, it’s okay.” One hand threads through Felix’s hair. It’s thick and oily because it hasn’t been washed, but he doesn’t care. Felix crumples under the touch, allowing himself to fall into his chest.
“You trusted me,” he says against Sylvain’s shirt, his voice hoarse. “You shouldn’t have trusted me. You know that I don’t bluff.”
“Yeah, I know,” Sylvain murmurs, pressing his cheek to the crown of Felix’s head. His fingers dig into his scalp, and Felix sighs.
“You really are stupid,” he repeats.
“Yeah,” Sylvain says. “But I meant them, you know?” His voice is quieter this time around. “All those things that I said at the end.”
“And I mean, if I’m going to die, I’d rather it be by your hand you know--”
“ Sylvain --”
“It wasn’t so bad. I mean, it fucking hurt, but it really wasn’t--”
“For the love of the Goddess, stop .”
Sylvain does. Felix is gripping shirt tightly in his fingers now, and they just stand there. And then Felix tenses under his hands and then he’s shaking, and suddenly his shirt is wet, and Oh God no, please don’t do that .
“Mercie told me you begged her,” Sylvain says. He rubs his hand along Felix’s back, trying to soothe him with the gentle circling of his fingers. “That’s something I’m trying to imagine, you begging.”
Felix snorts, but Sylvain feels a chuckle shudder through the man. Well, that’s an improvement at least.
“I get it though,” he continues. His cheek still rests against Felix’s head, and there’s hair in his mouth, and it’s kind of gross, but it’s also what he needs. It’s what Felix needs. “I did the same, all those years ago. I literally couldn’t think of living without you.”
“I panicked,” Felix finally says.
Sylvain blinks at that, and then he laughs. It’s short and curt, half amused, half insulted. “That’s one hell of a way to panic.”
“I wasn’t going to, of course. As if I wanted to-- but then there was Dimitri, and he gave me this look . And I knew that if I didn’t, he would…” His voice trails off, and they both know exactly what he means.
“So you understand then, why I left,” Sylvain asks him.
“You didn’t ask me to go with you,” Felix accuses. “All this talk about how you didn’t want to live without me, but you left me behind.”
Sylvain pulls away to look at him, but Felix refuses to meet his gaze. He’s not surprised; Felix has always been bad with eye contact. Instead, the man wipes at his nose, his face ruddy and tear-stricken. Sylvain takes his cheeks into hand, wiping at them with his thumbs. Felix snorts, somewhat annoyed, but he doesn’t pull away.
“Yeah, that wasn’t very smart of me,” he says. There’s a moment between them, and Sylvain watches Felix fidget under his touch. “Hey Fe,” he finally says. “Look at me?”
To his surprise, Felix does. He looks tired, and heavy bags under his eyes show that he hasn’t slept in days. Red-faced, with wet cheeks and a stern scowl that tugs his lips downward. But he’s gorgeous, Sylvain thinks as he rubs at his cheeks again, thumbing over the soft skin.
And Goddess, he wants to kiss him. But the moment is tense, and they still have more talking to do, and he thinks that it needs to wait.
“I love you,” he says, and something flashes across Felix’s face, as he makes a move to say something. But Sylvain holds his face firm. “And I forgive you,” he finishes, and then he leans forward and kisses his forehead.
Felix doesn’t say it back, but he doesn’t need to. Sylvain pulls him close again, and Felix just hangs on. He hangs on for dear life, like he’s afraid that he’s just going to disappear from under his fingertips.
Things are weird, for Felix.
There's a part of him-- a very large part-- that craves for Sylvain's constant attention. And there's this other part that just wants to run away and never see him again. That's a small part of him, minuscule even, but it's enough to give him pause.
The crux of it is pretty simple. It’s not that he doesn’t want to see him, it’s that he has no idea how to approach the man. It’s stupid really. He’s waited years to see him again, and yeah, he’d hoped it would be under better circumstances. He’d hoped that it would be off the field, Sylvain coming to Dimitri’s aid, like a knight coming home .
Instead, they’d met as enemies on the battlefield and Felix had killed him. His hand still shakes at the thought, at the memory of the biggest fucking mistake he’s ever made in his life. He swallows thickly. What if Mercie hadn’t found him? What if she hadn’t been able to save him? What if--
No . What-if’s won’t change anything.
Sylvain has forgiven him, but how can he? Were it Felix killed and Sylvain at fault, he’d never--
Well no, that’s a lie as well. Felix will forgive the man for literally anything-- and really he already has. Why else would he consign himself to a life of misery by loving the most well-known philanderer of their school days? Even now, Sylvain still flirts with anything on legs. Provided he doesn’t sneak them back to his room anymore but…
Well, once a duck, always a duck, Felix supposes.
Felix is sitting in the courtyard, polishing a blade, when Sylvain appears and drops a satchel before him. Felix blinks at it momentarily, before turning his gaze upwards. Really, it was ridiculous how tall the man was.
“What’s this?” he asks, nudging with the hand holding an oil cloth.
“Tea,” Sylvain says simply. “It’s high time I take you on a date.”
Felix is almost positive this is a dream, because there was absolutely no way in seven hells that Sylvain just offers something like that. But the man waits, his gaze lit by excitement and expectation and--
Felix drops the cloth and settles the sword across his lap, moving to open the gift. His gaze narrows as he regards the other man shrewdly. “You don’t even like this brew.”
“Well, no , but you do.”
“Sylvain, I’m not sharing tea with you.”
“I have other things to attend to.”
“If it weren’t a date, would you?” The question is quiet and while Sylvain doesn’t seem angry, there is a slight strain to his tone. Things have been… weird since their moment of bonding the training hall the week before, but Felix prefers to not think about it. In fact, he prefers to just ignore anything regarding Sylvain.
Clearly the other man is taking the opposite approach.
Felix sighs. “That’s not-- no,” he finally manages. “It’s not the date that’s the problem.”
“Perfect. One hour--”
“ Sylvain--” Felix starts, standing up from his seat.
“By the docks.” Then a cheeky smile spreads across his face. “Unless you’d prefer my room--”
“Two hours,” Felix snaps, resting a hand on his hip. “At the training hall.” He can’t meet Sylvain’s face because he’s embarrassed by how easily he’s given in, as well as the other man’s bold insinuation. Even if he’s not wrong, that doesn’t mean he’ll give him the satisfaction of knowing it.
“Outside the training hall then,” Sylvain amends. “That little bench off to the corner. There’s a nice view.” He pauses and blinks. “Then again, anywhere you are is a nice view--”
“I swear to the Goddess Sylvain, never say something like that again, otherwise I will gut you.”
“Well, it’s not as though you haven’t before.” He snatches the satchel back up, leaning forward to press a kiss against Felix’s cheek. It’s a quick peck but Felix turns red and blubbers, and before he can push him off, Sylvain is already gone.
His tone had been teasing, amused even, but his words cut deep.
It’s not as though you haven’t before .
Ridiculous, to joke about such a thing, but isn’t that what Sylvain has always done? He’s always been a master at hiding his true feelings, manipulating people to think what they want. Felix is mildly annoyed that he’s used the tactic on him , of all people.
The words settle deep into the pit of his stomach, souring his entire mood.
Felix doesn’t show up for their date.
It’s a shitty thing, he knows. At first it’s because he loses track of time. When he glances at the clock, he cringes. He’s always thrown himself into his training, but it’s been different lately. He looks at the dummy next to him and cringes again.
Shamir wasn’t one to get annoyed, but if he keeps up with his current rate of destruction, she will.
He’s sweaty and gross, hair sticking to the back of his neck. There’s a mirror that he glances in before he moves to leave the grounds, and Goddess above , he’s a mess. He can’t see Sylvain like this, so… unkempt .
Besides, he’d overstayed his promised session by nearly two hours. There was no way that Sylvain was still--
He is absolutely still there, sitting on that bench. A tray with a teapot and cups sitting by his side. He’s not angry, he’s jittery , bouncing his leg up and down, running his hands along the fabric of his pants. This is an emotion that Felix knows, but rarely sees on the man.
Sylvain is nervous .
Felix pulls back into the grounds, closing the door behind him. No, no, no , he definitely can’t see him like this. He owes the redhead that much at least.
Climbing isn’t his specialty, but he manages to scale the wall and pull himself through a window. He shimmies along the ledge and around the corner to the side of the building opposite Sylvain.
Yeah, he’ll go freshen up in the bath. Rinse off, put some fresh clothes on and then he’ll meet his doom.
But even after his bath, he doesn’t go to him.
Nor does Felix show up for dinner.
He wants to, Goddess knows that there actually isn’t anything more that he wants. Just-- the problem is-- Anxiety is a pesky devil. Felix can’t forget. He can’t forget what he’s done, and even if Sylvain has forgiven him, it digs deeper and deeper and deeper and--
So he sits in his room, a fidgeting mess. He’s like Sylvain earlier, but for an entirely different reason. At least he’s clean. His shirt is a little large on him, hanging loosely on his frame. His hair is wet and heavy, limp around his face. At least he’s not stinking of sweat any longer. He can finally try to relax, to think, to try and sort things out.
He’ll figure out an excuse to feed Sylvain.
A knock at his door snaps him from his thoughts.
Of course. Felix’s fingers tighten, twisting his pants leg.
“I know you’re in there,” Slyvain says quietly, his voice muffled by the door.
Despite everything, Felix cannot refuse him. He’s tried over the years, and it’s left him a miserable heap of shit , but he’s always drawn back to Sylvain. And the one time he held his ground, the one time he followed his own path-- Well. It was a path that didn’t end so well.
And like always, he immediately regretted it.
He stands wearily, shuffling over and pulling open the thick oak door. Felix tries to find the judgement on the other man’s face, but Sylvain has the gall to not be angry. He just stands there, that stupid goofy smile stretching wide across his face, looking at Felix like he’s some sort of fucking treasure.
Felix immediately scowls, falling into his familiar habits. “Look, I--”
“It’s okay Felix,” Sylvain says easily.
Felix can’t do this, he can’t. He moves to shut the door, but Sylvain is quicker. He wedges his boot between the door and the jam. “Felix,” he says again, reaching out to grasp at his hand. Felix let’s him, calloused thumbs smoothing over his knuckles. He can’t stop the shaking of his fingers. “ Felix -- hey, will you look at me? It’s okay .”
Felix does look at him. There’s a furrow in Sylvain’s brow, and that smile is suddenly pulled tightly at one corner. The squeeze around his hand, anchoring him and--
It’s odd, Felix thinks, for Sylvain to be worried. “Can we talk?” he finds himself asking before he can stop himself. “I mean-- what I mean is that I want to try --”
“Whatever you want, Fe,” Sylvain cuts in, still rubbing his thumb across the back of his hand. His tone is so earnest that it warms Felix down to the core. He pulls his hand away and steps back from the door, motioning him in.
Sylvain does as he’s told, and Felix shuts the door behind them.
“It’s been years since I’ve been in here.” There’s amusement in his voice, but it’s underlined by a tight sadness. “It looks the same.”
“It’s not like I’ve had time to redecorate,” Felix snaps.
“Yeah, I suppose that’s right,” Sylvain says quietly, and Felix immediately regrets his words.
Sylvain stretches his arms high over his head, before falling onto the bed unceremoniously. Felix starts at that but-- but what’s he going to do? Kick him out? Sylvain won’t budge, he’s certain of that. The man is stretched out across the mattress, already snuggled into the blankets.
Felix swallows thickly. He’s imagined this scenario more times than he can count, and in varying degrees.
“Mercie told me to give you time,” Sylvain suddenly says, his voice muffled slightly by Felix’s pillow. He turns slightly, pulling himself up from the mattress, and moving to sit across the bed proper. “But Felix, you can’t hide from me forever.”
He can, Felix thinks. He can absolutely try. He’d been fairly successful the entire day, in fact, until Sylvain had come right to his door and-- Oh . Felix is still standing there, trying to find something to do with hands in the awkward silence, but fails miserably. There’s nothing natural about randomly dusting things in a messy room, or moving to pick up errant and dirty laundry.
Sylvain watches him. It’s without judgement. It’s with patience, something that Felix isn’t aware that Sylvain even possessed. Finally the other man decides that he’s had enough of Felix’s fidgeting. He reaches out and grabs his hand, only for Felix to yank it back quite suddenly. And Sylvain isn’t offended, but there’s a cloudy expression of something there and--
Oh, there it is, Felix thinks. This is that moment, the one where Sylvain realizes what a mistake everything is. Felix can’t do this, he can’t, he can’t and--
“Felix, talk to me,” Sylvain pleads, interrupting his thoughts.
“ None of that was easy ,” Felix finally says, unable to meet his gaze. “That’s what you said the other day about-- well, when you said some things . That’s how you described it.” Felix lip curls slightly at that. “As if you’re the only one who has suffered through this. Do you think it was easy for me? Sylvain, I was the one who-- I--”
His hands find his hair, yanking at it, as he lets out a frustrated yell. “I never wanted to, I fucking swear it. But I did . I did , Sylvain. I killed you, and it’s my hands that is stained with your blood. It doesn’t matter how much I wash them, or scrub at them, they will never come clean.”
He’s breathing heavy when he pauses, his words just bubbling forth. He can’t stop them, he won’t stop them, but it doesn’t make it feel better. All the pain, the regret, the guilt . He’s at a tipping point, and it’s only a matter of time before he falls right over that cliff.
“Oh, Fe ,” Sylvain whispers. He stands and before Felix can push him away, he pulls the smaller man to him, hugging him close. “I didn’t know,” he says. “The burden that you’re carrying, I had no idea.”
Felix thumps his chest with his hand, but then his head falls forward, his brow resting against Sylvain’s collarbone. “How can you love me?” It’s a question that’s been burning in him for weeks now. Sylvain is such a wondrous man, with his smiles and his feelings, and this new-found intimacy.
It’s too perfect and Felix is still waiting for the dream to end, and for him to wake up. For Sylvain to be dead and bloody in his lap. “How can you possibly bear the sight of me?” he continues with. “I called his Highness a Boar , but I’m no better, I’m worse , you should hate--”
“Don’t tell me how to feel about you.” Sylvain’s polite tone practically cracks Felix’s heart in two. He pulls away from the other man, intent on putting as much space between the two of them that he can.
“ Don’t-- ”
“No, you’re going to listen,” Sylvain cuts in firmly.
Felix blinks, but falls onto his bed without question. It’s Sylvain’s turn to fidget. He paces across the room, trying to gather his thoughts.
“I was a dumb kid,” he finally says. Felix resists the urge to agree. “I was really dumb. I thought that if did what my father asked, flirted with whatever girl came my way, losing myself in late-night trysts and--” He sighs, the hand he’d been gesturing with falling to his side. “It was hopeless though,” he admits, a wry smile falling across his lips. “I was already in so deep, when it came to you.”
Felix shifts on the bed, opening his mouth to reply, but Sylvain shot him a warning look.
“I couldn’t fool anyone, really. I mean, Mercie knew, and if you think she was the only one…” Sylvain slides a hand through his hair, tugging at the red locks. “My father knew,” he says next, and Felix felt his blood run cold.
Finally, Sylvain looks at Felix, his brown eyes simmering with old hatred and barely contained anger. “I knew that the Kingdom would never allow us to be… Dimitri is--” He pauses, winces . “ Was a good man, but even he wouldn’t be able to change things. If the Kingdom survived, I’d have to go back home and do my so-called divine duty .”
Felix’s throat is dry. This is something he knows well, being a Duke .
“So I left.”
“You abandoned Faerghus--”
“There’s no future for me, without you in it, Fe. Which means there’s no future in a bitter-cold Kingdom, who won’t allow people to love .” Felix snaps his mouth shut at that. “Claude proposed a united front,” Sylvain says next. “He promised change. He promised a place , for everyone.” He pauses. “He promised freedom .”
“I should have told you,” Sylvain cuts in. He goes to Felix, dropping to his knees before him. Sylvain is shorter this way, but they're on a closer level. “I should have asked you to come, but for all I knew, you didn’t feel the same. I thought-- Well, I thought if I had a plan at first, maybe you’d actually listen. But it was wrong of me to leave and not tell you.”
“I was angry,” Felix starts, “when I saw you on that battlefield, but it wasn’t--” He pauses and takes a deep breath. “The Boar-- Dimitri changed, and when he did, I felt that I had made the wrong choice. We were marching through the mud and the rain for what seemed like the thousandth time. Battle after battle, and it wasn’t ever getting better.
“And then there was you. You looked good , and I just wanted to go back to when we were young, to turn back that clock and just forget .”
“I would have asked you to come, but you never gave me the chance.”
Felix laughs at that, at the bitter irony. “Sylvain, I-- You must know that I care for you.”
Sylvain is still on his knees before him, and the floor cannot feel good against his bones. But the other man looks at him fondly, his hands pressed against Felix’s legs, squeezing them. “I mean, not exactly what I want to hear, but I suppose it’s as good as I’ll get, coming from you.”
“He would have killed you,” Felix whispers. Sylvain cocks his head to the side, waiting to hear more. “Dimitri. I was about to stop, about to throw the knife to the side but-- there he was, and I knew if I didn’t do it, then he would have. And it would have been worse .”
Sylvain hums at that, stroking his thumb along Felix’s thigh. “I was prepared to die by your hand. I mean, I didn’t want to, but if it had to be someone… Well, I wasn’t lying about that part.”
“We’re pretty dumb, aren’t we?”
“That’s what Mercie says. Even five years ago, when I was in my cups and crying to her about you.”
Felix reaches out, pressing his hand into Sylvain’s hair. It’s coarse and thick, so unlike his own silky strands. He curls his fingers into the tresses, pulling at them lightly. He loves this man, truly he does. More than anything.
And he believes Sylvain, when he says that he left to carve a future where they could be together.
“I love you,” Sylvain says, as Felix’s hand ghosts down his cheek bone.
“I… am rather fond of you,” he replies, and Sylvain laughs, turning to press his lips against Felix’s hand.
Eventually, they both find their way into his bed. It’s a tiny double, not meant for two full grown men, but they roll onto their sides and Sylvain pulls Felix close. It’s too warm under the covers, but Sylvain smells good, like his sandalwood soap and saddle leather. Felix smoothes a hand over the other man’s chest, and opens his mouth to say something else but--
Sylvain is already asleep, his face relaxed and peaceful.
Felix decides to let it be.
Sylvain’s lips are moving, but there’s no sound. His eyes are wide as he suddenly winces in pain, blood bubbling over his lips. Felix feels the panic swell in him. No, no, no, this isn’t supposed to happen, this was never his intention. Sylvain isn’t supposed too-- What on earth has he done?
This was a mistake, Felix thinks, shaking Sylvain. The other man struggles to keep his eyes open, and Felix shakes him harder. A mistake, a mistake, a mistake. Felix is so fucking stupid, but it’s too late. It’s too late, as Sylvain falls limp in his arms. Felix cries out, he screams, tears streaming down his face.
When he looks down at his hands, all he sees is blood, Sylvain’s blood, running red. They can’t die without each other, they can’t. And so Felix pulls the knife from Sylvain, turning it towards himself, plunging it in without a second thought. The blade rips through him, through skin and muscle and sinew, straight into his--
Felix jerks awake, his hand flying to his chest. It hurts, everything hurts. This is wrong, this is wrong , Sylvain is dead and he’s supposed to follow. He cannot live alone, he cannot do this, how can he live with himself, he promised --
There’s shuffling on the mattress next to him, as it dips under someone’s weight. “Felix--” Sylvain starts, his voice tired and full of sleep, but he doesn’t quite register it.
Felix’s stomach recoils and he heaves, but nothing comes up. His sweaty bangs are stuck to his forehead. Such pain, he thinks. Goddess above, such pain and--
Sylvain surely must have felt more. He’s--
“Felix,” Sylvain says again, this time more awake. His hands move to cradle his face, large and warm and comforting and--
Sylvain is alive, Felix remembers. Sylvain is alive, alive, alive . He can’t help that sob that rips up through him, his throat tight, his breath catching. Soon he’ll be a snotting mess, like when they were children, and Felix would come running to Sylvain to cry just about anything .
Sylvain thumbs his cheeks softly, pressing their foreheads together, offering sweet words. Felix focuses on them, on his comforting voice and the warmth of his being.
Sylvain is alive.
“Shh,” Sylvain says, “It’s okay, Felix. I’m here, I’m not going anywhere.”
“Yeah,” Felix finally says, his voice cracking. “You’re here.” He says it, like he’s trying to convince himself. His fingers find purchase in Sylvain’s shirt, gripping it tightly, pulling him closer.
Sylvain hugs him close, running his fingers through his long hair, scratching lightly at his scalp. “Felix, talk to me,” he whispers into the crown of his head.
“This is-- the dreams ,” he finally says. “Every night. It comes back-- the blood on my hands, Sylvain. Your blood on my hands. It’s all I can think about.”
“Felix, look at me.” Sylvain pulls away, gripping his cheeks again, forcing Felix to do so. His brown eyes are inviting and so full of love, and Felix wants to crawl into them, and never leave.
Felix was a fool to never ask for this. He was a fool to wait so long. Even stupider to pick a fight on the battlefield, to think that he could actually live without Sylvain. “I don’t deserve this,” he manages.
Sylvain doesn’t pull away. He caresses his cheek with a soft thumb, his lips spreading into a smile. “Felix, you deserve the world. That’s why I left-- the entire reason. You refused to carve a path for us, so I did instead.”
Felix throws all caution out the window, pressing a hand to the back of Sylvain’s head and pulling him closer. He presses their lips together, his other hand tightening its grip on the other man’s shirt. It’s their real first kiss, not a peck on the cheek or head, but an honest to Goddess kiss . Sylvain is surprised, but he falls into it, a hand slipping to the back of Felix’s neck.
“Stupid,” Felix whispers against his lips. “You should have said something.”
“Yeah, I can be pretty dumb,” Sylvain admits. “But you can be as well. How long Felix? You said that you were angry that I left you behind but--”
“Forever, you dolt." Felix, for once, isn't embarrassed by the words. Sylvain looks at him like he’s just given him the entire world, and his chest just fills with this warmth . Felix presses his hands against Sylvain’s chest, pushing him back. Sylvain follows, resting against the headboard, his pillow propped against his lower back.
“For as long as I can remember,” Felix continues, sliding up along Sylvain’s body, arranging his legs on either side of the other man’s thighs. This is dangerous territory now, Felix can tell. Sylvain’s breathing has caught, his hands finding Felix’s hips, squeezing gently. Wanting to pull his hips forwards, just a little bit closer . He doesn’t though, settling for gripping at Felix tightly.
Felix drags his hand up to the linen shirt Sylvain wears. It’s open around the neck, falling loose and showing off his collarbone. His fingers run the length of it gently. “I’ve dreamt of this,” he says to Sylvain, “of you below me like this.” He’s dreamt about this man underneath him, in the throes of passion, wanting him. It’s been a pathetic five years for him, with only his memories and his hand to accompany him.
Sylvain looks like he’s on fire, like he wants to eat him alive, and Felix thrives on it.
“Felix, you don’t have to--”
“I want to,” Felix interrupts, pulling back slightly to catch the edge of his own shirt in his fingers. “Idiot,” he adds as a punctuation. But then there’s that fear again, that hesitation, and he can’t stop the words before they leave his mouth. “Unless you don’t--”
“Don’t finish that sentence,” Sylvain cuts in. “ Goddess , Felix, as if I couldn’t want you.”
Felix hesitates, before pulling his shirt over his head, throwing it to the side. Sylvain follows suit, but then pauses, his hands halting. “I can-- I can keep the shirt on,” he says quietly. “If you’d prefer.”
Felix’s gaze falls to his chest, confused, as his hand slides along Sylvain’s abs.
“There’s a scar,” Sylvain murmurs. “It’s healed well enough, but it’s uh… It’s not exactly handsome.”
“Sylvain, I have terrible scars as well. It doesn’t--”
“No, that’s not what I mean.” Sylvain sighs, thumbing at Felix’s hip bone. “I mean from… you .”
Oh. Oh. It hits him at once, that Sylvian's worried about him. It's evident there, in his concerned gaze, the way that his thumb runs circles into the skin near his waist.
"I cannot run--" Felix cuts himself off. "I will not run away," he finishes. He rucks the shirt up Sylvain's chest, ghosting his fingers over his golden skin and old scars. Up his chest to his heart and--
It's a nasty scar, still pink with freshly healed skin. Puckered and jagged at the edge, showing how Felix had stabbed him with shaking hands and immediate regret. His fingertips smooth over it. "This is a part of you know," Felix says, his voice suddenly hoarse. Then he leans over, pressing his lips to it in a gentle kiss. "It's a part of me as well."
And then his tongue snaked out, licking over the ridges of the scar. He felt Sylvain shift under him, his breath hitching as his hands found his hair, yanking --
Felix smirked against his skin, pressing one more kiss to it, before leaning back to pull off the shirt entirely. Sylvain helps, pulling away from the headboard, frantically trying to pull the linen away.
"Easy," Felix tells him, running his hands back down Sylvain's sides, taking in the hard muscles there. "I'm not going anywhere." A pause. “You aren’t going anywhere. We have plenty of time.”
“Felix,” Sylvain says, sliding his hands from his hips, dragging them down his thighs, squeezing and-- “You’re killing me here.”
“I’ve already done that.” The joke feels strange on his tongue, but Sylvain cracks a smile.
“Yeah, well, at least I’ll die happy this time.”
Felix hums. “That depends on what you’re expecting.” His fingers drag along the waistband of Slyvain’s sleeping pants, hooking just barely into it. “Come on Sylvain, use your words.”
Sylvain’s moves to grab him by the hips once more, pulling them down, forwards, closer and oh -- He’s already hard against him, and Felix’s cheeks burn at the idea, but he can’t pull his hips away from that delicious friction.
Felix rolls his hips forwards again, but stops just short of where they both really want him. “Felix- -” Sylvain starts, but his words come out strangled when he feels Felix lean over to press his lips against his throat.
“Better,” he whispers against the skin there. “But not enough.”
“ Felix .”
Felix smiles against him, kissing the length of his neck, his tongue snaking out along the softness there. His hand is bolder though. “Tell me,” Felix says. He pulls his hips back, his fingers brushing across the top of the bulge in Sylvain’s pants. “ Beg for it.”
It’s delicious, Felix thinks, that broken tone of his. It’s better than anything dreamt up, more so than he has ever imagined. Sylvain, pink in the cheeks and breaths already heavy, hard under his hand and--
If Felix has any doubts whether or not Sylvain actually wants him, they’ve flown right out the window. He knows that Sylvain won’t bare himself like this for anyone else.
He palms Sylvain’s cock through his pants and the man keens under his touch, his head falling back against the headboard with a thud. Felix presses harder, his fingers cupping him, squeezing lightly and--
Sylvain’s already grabbing him, already pulling his hand away.
“So soon,” Felix chides.
“No, no , but Goddess get these pants off of me.” Felix doesn’t move, only squeezes him again, and Sylvain bucks against his hand. “Fuck-- Please ,” the man grits out, and Felix smiles at him.
He pulls off of him, and Sylvain manages to get his pants to his knees, before Felix has his hands on him. Thick and long, perfect against his hand-- Felix drags a finger along the side of Sylvain’s cock. The sound that rips from the man flows through Felix, settling low in the pit of his stomach.
He grips him tighter, fingers wrapped around him. Up and down, pulling at his skin, twisting around the crown and spreading the moisture there. Sylvain’s eyes are closed and his face red, as he surrenders to the touch. His hips buck into his grip and Felix let’s go.
Sylvain is immediately alert, eyes open and frantic when he meets Felix’s gaze. And then they see where Felix’s fingers are hooked into his own pants.
Felix pauses, slipping his fingers just under the waistband, trailing along the dusting of hair underneath his bellybutton. Sylvain just stares dumbly, his eyes wide and bright. “What is it?” Felix asks, teasing him.
“That’s… that’s my shirt,” Sylvain replies dumbly.
Felix looks down at the garment, a grey cotton shirt that’s far too big on him. He scalped it from Sylvain in their school days. “Oh this old thing?” Felix finally replies, bringing a sleeve to his face, rubbing it along his cheek. “You know, the things I used to do with it-- It’s kept me a lot of company, over the years. Rutting into it was sometimes a better alternative to my hand-- but it was always with you on my mind--”
“I must be in Heaven,” Sylvain murmurs. “Or actually, this is hell. There’s no way you’d actually admit to something like that.”
Felix decides to leave the shirt on. He slides his pants off smoothly, throwing them to the side, and then he’s over Sylvain again, slotting their hips together. Sylvain’s cock is hard and heavy against him, and Felix can’t resist a slow grind, skin already slick with sweat.
Then he reaches between them, only for Sylvain to bat his hand away. “I want to,” he says, his fingers pressing against the base of Felix. “Goddess, please I--” But Felix only laughs, pulling his own hand away.
Sylvain swallows and licks his hand indelicately, before pressing their lengths together. It’s Felix’s turn to moan. Sylvain’s hand wraps around the both of them, wide and warm, and calloused and fucking perfect and--
“Sylvain,” he moans, rutting into the grip, trying to get more friction.
The other man tightens his grip, sliding his hand up and down, squeezing at their bases. Rolling his wrist near the top, collecting the precome, spreading it wide with his palms. Felix’s hand joins him, squeezing tighter, moving faster, trying to set a more frantic pace.
Sylvain thrusts into the tight grip, his thighs tensing underneath Felix. The moan that rips from his throat is worth one thousand deaths, Felix thinks. Sylvain is worth one thousand deaths. He would die for this man, and he would do so over and over and over again because--
“ I love you .”
Sylvain pauses the motion, staring back up at him with wonder, and it takes Felix a moment to realize what exactly had slipped from his mouth.
"Goddess, I love you," Felix repeats. He grips Sylvain's hand around their cocks again, his other threading their fingers together. "And look at you under me, perfect and all mine. Always mine. Forever mine."
Sylvain works a slower rhythm and Felix chases his hand with his hips, pressing into his fingers frantically.
"Again, please," Sylvain begs.
Felix says it again, because he can't deny this stupid man anything. Sylvain's hips thrust faster, his hand gripping tighter as Felix holds on. Their other hands are clenched and finally, Sylvain throws his head back, tumbling over that edge.
His come is warm and slick, and Felix ruts into the grip several more times before following, pressing his sweaty forehead into the crook of Sylvain's neck.
Sylvain's stomach is a mess. Felix pulls away long enough to pull his shirt off, wiping him clean.
"That…" Sylvain pauses, breathing like he's run the length of a battlefield. "Felix, there aren't words to describe that ."
"Are you saying that I've fucked you speechless?"
Felix is only teasing, but then Sylvain smirks. "Oh darling, you haven't fucked me yet. That was just a teaser."
Felix turns into a red and sputtering mess, pushing away from the other man. Sylvain laughs, pulling him back closer. "I'm only teasing." Felix allows himself to be pulled flesh with him, Sylvain pressed against his back. "Except for the fucking me part. That can happily be arranged."
"Insatiable," Felix half-snarls, but it lacks heat.
Sylvain hums in response, pressing a kiss to the back of his neck. "Only for you."
"Right back at you." The banter is so… primary school , but it brings immense comfort. Sylvain can tell that he's thinking though, because he asks, "Feel better?"
"I--" Well, anyone would, after a performance like that. There's no use in denying it. "Yes." Sylvain hums at that, noting along the soft skin of his neck.
"It will take… awhile, for things to get better," Felix says into the quiet room.
"I know Fe. But I'm not going anywhere. I'm here to stay."
Felix tries not to cry at his words, really he does. He's done a lot of terrible things in his life he doesn't deserve this but-- Well, Sylvain does, at least.
Felix turns around, pressing his cheek against Sylvains chest. The other man runs soothing circles into his back, murmuring words of endearment.
Yeah, he doesn't deserve this, but maybe one day he will.
It’s weird to think that her bloodline will end with her.
It’s not a bother. It doesn’t keep her up at night. She doesn’t need her own children, she already has plenty. She keeps a watchful eye over dozens of them, and her orphanage is a refuge for an ever growing number of bedraggled bodies that roam in off of the street.
But still, it’s a weird thought.
It’s also weird to think that it will be the same for the houses of Gautier and Fraldarius. Felix has never cared much for his own blood, but Sylvain was raised to do so. And even if he still brushes it off to this day, he cares, he will always care -- just a little bit. That part of his life has brought him too much pain and loss.
It’s impossible to separate from it.
But-- But -- The fire is warm, and the room is cozy, and there she sits with a soothing pot of tea--
“ Ugh , Bergamot?” Felix sounds positively offended. His voice is quiet, but still holds the sharpness he’s so well known for. Even if it’s been softened around the edges a little bit. He looks older, the circles under his eyes cut deeper. His hair is long enough to hang over one shoulder, loosely braided. The silver that streaks through it, sparkles in the firelight.
“What did you expect?” Sylvain scoffs. “ Holiday tree needles?” Time has been better to him. There are wrinkles and crow's feet, but he looks largely the same, aside from his short-cropped hair and generally tired disposition.
“Almyra Pine Needles are a perfect brew, and--”
“The only places those leaves belong, are on a Yule tree. Preferably with presents underneath it--”
Felix launches himself from the other end of the settee, swatting at Sylvain. The red-head yelps with supreme exaggeration. “ Mercie ,” he cries. “Tell him-- tell him that he’s wrong. ” The words come out in a rush, because he’s laughing as Felix swats at him again.
Mercedes feels the smile spread that spreads across her lips, deep in her bones. “Now, now, the both of you know that I prefer fruity blends-- which is precisely what I’m brewing. Behave , or I’ll leave before we even get to enjoy our visit.”
Both of the men pause their teasing, but Felix is the first to sit back down. Business as always; some things never change. It’s not far to their estate in the north, but it’s far enough to be inconvenient. Mercedes doesn’t get the chance to visit nearly enough.
Sylvain tugs at his collar slightly, but he practically glows. “ Behave is my middle name.”
At that, Felix scoffs, crossing his arms over his chest. But then he leans against the arm of the furniture, pressing one his feet into Sylvain’s side, and the red-head yelps, jumping. “Fucking Goddess-- your feet are like ice .”
“‘Behave is your middle name’,” Felix taunts, but his voice is smooth and amused. Endearing . It’s an amazing look for him, a brilliant way that he holds himself and Mercedes feels blessed to watch it. And despite the decades that have passed, he looks younger than she’s ever seen him.
Sylvain laughs though, pulling that foot into his lap, kneading the arch of it. Felix relaxes, practically melting against the soft fabric of the couch. Mercedes has never seen him relax, she’s never seen him just drop his guard like that and--
Really, these boys . Time has done them well, and she cannot believe that she’s privy to seeing them like this. Content. Happy. In love .
It’s hard to think that there was a time that Sylvain was dead, and that there was a choice that had to be made. Often she thinks of what might have happened if she had refused. Where would Felix be then?
Dead as well . He would have never left that battlefield, and that’s a fact, not an opinion.
No, this is far better; it’s everything that she could have ever hoped for.
They fall into a comfortable silence, as she pours out a cup for each of them. Sylvain likes fruit blends, even if he pretends not to. Felix despises them, but will drink it without complaint. He doesn’t disappoint, sipping at the cup with little issue.
“And so,” she says quietly.
“And so,” Sylvain parrots.
“I think I might have found a match.”
Felix drops the cup in his hand almost immediately. It hits the parlor table, smashing into dozens of pieces. He doesn’t even care about the spilled tea. “What--”
“I know it’s not what I came here for, but--”
“A match,” Sylvain repeats quietly. Felix is sitting up straight again, both feet flat on the cold stone floor of their sitting room. He reaches out, pressing a hand to his husband’s leg, trying to ground him.
“I know it’s sudden,” Mercedes says. “I know that you just wrote to me about this barely a few months ago but--”
“What makes you think that we’re suited?” Felix asks. Sylvain is still quiet, his adam’s apple bobbing as his disposition turns severe. It’s rare to see him look so serious , but it’s a sight to behold. And probably something he picked up from Felix.
“He’s older than the others. Rough around the edges, but educated. He can read and write. He’s run away from home. Something about expectations and bloodlines and crests . I think you know why.”
Despite a United Fodlan front, under the careful guise of Byleth, there were still traditionalists . They clung to those old ideals, the ones that most saw as long-lost and outdated. The ones that Sylvain and Felix stand against, just by their relationship alone, and the combination of their lands. They’ve worked so hard to get to where they are.
Mercedes wonders if it’s cruel, to bring it up.
She watches Sylvain swallow thickly. “ He .”
She nods. “He’s ten. Good kid though. He’s been settling in well, and he helps the younger ones--”
But she already sees the look on his face, lit up with wonder. Felix sees it too, because he’s already leaning forward, a warning already tumbling from his lips. “Sylvain--”
“Felix ,” Sylvain practically croaks. And he reaches out and takes Felix’s hands, and that’s all it takes for the man to crumble.
The Felix of a war-time gone past would absolutely hate himself at such a pitiful display. Mercedes loves it, she loves them. She loves to watch them, it will never get old, knowing that she’s given them this chance.
And now, there is this boy.
“What’s the boy’s name,” Felix asks. There’s a scowl on his face, but Mercedes has learned over the years that every scowl is in fact, different. Loving . Annoyed. Exasperated . This one is Tender , and he fingers at Sylvain’s palms with a nervousness usually found in someone like Annette.
“Spero,” Mercedes says. “He’s of a minor house I believe, but he won’t tell me which one--”
She doesn’t even finish, when Sylvain interrupts. “ Spero Fraldarius-Gautier ,” he tests.
“We haven’t even met the kid yet, and you’re already dreaming,” Felix hisses. But he’s hopeful too. This is something they both want. They’ve discussed it at length with her, even if it’s taken them a long time to get to the point of seriously considering it.
“Well he wants to meet you,” she says. Both men freeze, looking toward her. “He’s got the beginnings of sword training,” she continues. And then she turns to Felix alone. “And of course he’s heard of you, everyone’s heard of you. You’re somewhat his hero.”
“He’s perfect,” Felix immediately says, and that causes Sylvain to finally gather himself, bursting into laughter. Felix levels him with a half-hearted glare. “ What? ”
“Nothing, nothing,” Sylvain swears. “You just never disappoint you know. You’re always so… you.”
“Is that a problem ?”
“Why would you think that it is?
Felix shifts on the settee, turning towards his husband. “Because you’re so--”
“Hey remember that time that you killed me?”
“ Fuck off, Sylvain,” Felix hisses. “I’ve done it once, I’ll do it again--”
“How convenient. Mercie is right there to fix your mistake then, Goddess knows you make enough of them.”
They’re arguing again, they always argue, but it’s not like the old days where it was nothing but hard jabs and heated words of anger. This is lighthearted and teasing. It’s entertaining. It’s love .
“Do you think this is a mistake?” Felix asks quietly. “Thinking about raising a kid?”
“Of course not,” Sylvain says, squeezing the other man’s hands. Sylvain leans forward, pressing a kiss against Felix’s forehead, before resting his own against it. “Nothing has ever been a mistake with you.”
It’s almost like they’ve forgotten she’s there, the moment is so tender.
Felix struggles with this, even now. Even with all their joking and everything they’ve overcome-- he will always struggle with this. And she’ll always see him, on the muddy battlefield and a very dead Sylvain, begging for her to fix it, to fix his mistake.
She’s never told him this, or Sylvain, but she almost didn’t.
There was a very small moment, where she remembered her loyalty to Dimitri and their cause, and she very nearly turned on her heel and walked away.
She’s ever so glad she didn’t, because she would forever have hated herself. She’s absolutely convinced that she chose the Goddess’ will.
“Well arrange something then,” she finally says. “But I’m sure that it will all work out. It always has for the two of you.”
Sylvain starts at that. “Mercie--”
But she holds her hand out and he stops. “None of that,” she says happily.
Her bloodline will end with her. And Sylvain’s with his. And Felix’s as well. But they aren’t losing, they’re winning-- they can forge a new future, with new blood. A family that is truly of their own making. This wasn’t a future that could have ever been realized, with a mad boar on the throne. She likes to think that the real Dimitri, the one that Sylvain and Felix had grown up with-- would have preferred this.
She wonders if fate exists. No, she knows that it does.
Mercedes watches as Sylvain leans forward, trying to press a kiss to Felix. The shorter man shoves his hand out against his face, pushing at his cheek, using what could be seen as excessive force. But his cheeks burn red, and it’s only that he’s too embarrassed to indulge around her. Sylvain retaliates by leaning his entire weight on the man instead.
Mercedes leaves her seat to pick up the broken shards of the teacup from earlier. She blots at the wet floor with her shawl.
She’s tried again, over the years. She’s tried to bring other people back from the dead, but she could never manage it. Only twice, only with these two stupid, dearly beloved boys. After that, her miracles faded away into obscurity.
Both of the men have fallen silent, and she turns, only to find that Felix has finally accepted the kiss. He’s muttering what sounds like stupid, and idiot and oaf against Sylvain’s lips, and the red-head laughs. There isn’t a more perfect picture, she thinks. Not a single more perfect moment.
That is, until Felix smiles.
Chapter 2: Epilogue
While I am confident in my writing, and i loved the way Wide of the Mark turned out, I was nervous about how it would be receieved.
From the overwhelming praise that I got, and so many kind comments, to the one person on tumblr who labled it #impickyaboutmyficsespeciallysylvix and screamed that it was best sylvix theyd ever read-- I'm FLOORED.
Thanks to everyone for such love and support. I wasnt planning on writing an epilogue, but well...
This one's for y'all.
The decades haven't been easy for either of them.
Even so, Sylvain wouldn't do anything different. Even if it meant dying again, he would happily, happily do so. Especially if it meant waking up to a certain face every morning.
Felix lays in their bed, asleep. The harsh circles under his eyes never disappear fully, but the worry lines around his mouth are smoothed. He's always so peaceful like this.
It's taken a lot, for them to get to this point. Even with a United Fodlan front, even with Claude as the Almyran King-- There was an adjustment period.
Eventually however, they'd found themselves holding the North against Sreng, their lands combined. The Gautier homestead had always seemed empty, until Felix had arrived. Now it was home .
Felix's brow crinkle in his sleep, causing Sylvain to reach out with a soothing hand, smoothing his bangs back. The bed sags slightly under him. There were still nightmares and memories of certain things . But… they managed.
There had been lows. A lot of lows, arguments, jokes with ill-placed humor that would cause Felix to pull away and grow distant. Sylvain thinks of a particularly nasty time.
You must regret it, how I begged to bring you back, only for us to end up like this, Felix had snapped at him. A petty argument in the end, but Felix never pulls his punches. They'd slept in separate rooms for nearly a week and it had damn near killed Sylvain.
But he came back, he always came back, murmuring flushed apologies and warm hands that Sylvain would just melt into.
Felix stirs under his touch, blinking out of his sleep with a bleary expression. His hand reaches for the opposite side of the bed, only to slide right over it. "Syl…"
"Shh," Sylvain soothes, "I'm right here."
Felix grunts, pressing his face back into his pillow. "Why aren't you in bed?" Then he pops opens tired eye. "Why are you dressed?"
Sylvain laughs. "Felix, it's nearly afternoon." Felix is about to protest at that, but Sylvain smoothes a hand across his hair, fingers digging into his scalp. Felix huffs softly, allowing the touch without fight. "You didn't sleep well, so I let you be."
Felix huffs at that too.
"He's arrived," Sylvain says next. He feels Felix coil tight underneath him, before springing up in the bed.
Felix has a lot of anxiety about bringing a child into the home. Sylvain knows that it's stupid and irrational, but he doesn't question it.
He knows that Felix will be the best thing to ever happen to this kid, so it'll turn out alright.
"Mercie was right, you know. Seems like a good kid, at first glance."
But Sylvain knows it'll take time and work. Good thing they had a lot of experience with that.
Felix sits in the bed, and with the sheets wrapped around him, he almost looks like a child himself. If you ignore the worry lines and streaks of silver in his hair.
"What if we're making a mistake?" He asks quietly. "Sylvain, what if we aren't suited for this? What if--"
"If we let what ifs run our life, we wouldn't even be here, Felix," Sylvain says quietly. He leans forward, pressing a kiss against his forehead. "Nothing we've ever done has ever been a mistake."
Even the whole… dying thing. Felix still lets it lord over him, even if Sylvain is totally over it. Mostly.
"Sap," Felix snaps, but he sighs into Sylvain's soft touch, smiling into his hand.
Sylvain pulls himself from the bed before looking back at Felix. He watches as the other man dresses without a word. When Felix is done tying his hair into a sloppy braid, he turns to Sylvain with nervous energy.
And then he pulls him close, holding him tightly, pressing his face into Sylvain's chest. He's so rarely like this, but Sylvain treasures it every time, rubbing a gentle circle along his back.
It's amazing, this kind of love.
You must regret it , Felix had once said in anger.
"Never," Sylvain says quietly, and he can feel the lines around his mouth pull tight with his smile.
Felix pulls away. "What?"
"Oh, nothing." Sylvain laughs at Felix's annoyed expression, brushing his bangs back. He presses a kiss to his forehead.
He pulls back to open their bedroom door, and Felix hesitates again. Sylvain is patient though, reaching to take his hand, thumbing along the knuckles affectionately.
"Are you ready to meet our son?"
Felix's smile would look like only a quirk of the lips to anyone else, but to Sylvain it was blinding.