The festival was in full swing when he arrived; the early snowfall glittered in the light of the torches and bonfires on various street corners. There was laughter and cheers ringing from every direction he cared to turn, complete strangers recognizing him and welcoming him with enthusiasm, wishing him a good new year.
Claude hadn't been able to properly appreciate Firdihad when first he'd walked its streets; the chaos of war, starving citizenry and bloody battle had cast a black shadow across the ancient city. Even in the immediate aftermath things were a sad sight; hope was there, steady and holding with Dimitri returned at last, but the sheer destruction and loss wrought by their enemies was devastating, inescapable.
Now...now he could see the beauty of Dimitri's homeland with his own eyes. There was nothing he'd ever seen that could begin to compare. The Alliance had mild winters, Almyra had none unless you traveled far to the north. He'd thought, originally, that the lands up north were frigid and unwelcoming, a place that could only be truly loved by those who called it home. What a short-sighted teenager he had been! He kept stopping in his tracks just to take in the architecture, elegant in its simplicity and blanketed in glittering white; the blazing auroras painting the black sky overhead, the color in everything from the blankets sold in sidewalk carts to the banners hanging from streetlight lamps to painted rooftops of humble peasant homes.
It was nearly enough to make him forget he was in a bit of a hurry.
“You said it would be no worse than Deirdru!” His cousin hissed, wrapping her new coat tighter.
He smiled cheerfully at her and replied, “Did I say that? I distinctly remember warning you that winter in Faerghus was nothing to trifle with.”
“You said it would be no worse than Deirdru!” Aisling repeated, blazingly indigent.
“You're the one who wanted to come!” He laughed, wrapping an arm around her shoulder. “Even Nader decided to sit it out after I warned him the second time!”
“Oh, and miss you attempting to woo the King of Lions and his bride?” She smirked at him, grabbing his hand when he moved to retreat in embarrassment. “How could I pass up watching my madman of a king attempt such a thing?”
“I -” Claude groaned. “I'm not planning to officially offer my suit, Aisling. They...they may well already be married.” Knowing that had nearly caused him to choose the coward's route, but he'd never been one to give up easily, especially when it mattered most. “I'm here to see my dear friends face to face, without any of that tedious propriety in the way. Honestly, that's half the reason I gave the lot of you an out. There's a time for the King of Almyra to approach his allies about Unification, and there's a time for me to reunite with old friends.”
“Friends?” Aisling snorted. “I think that is your poorest attempt at a lie yet, Kovu. No one so loves a friend that they would place the woman of their heart in his hands, knowing he desires her too, with a smile and a compassionate laugh, without even hinting at what lies in their own heart so that friend would not feel guilty for it. Even if my own father had not loved two hearts, that is painfully transparent.”
“I don't know about that,” Claude managed after a second of strangled breathing, his mind going back to Ingrid's expression while watching Sylvain and Mercedes dance around each other. “But c'mon. You can't be so cold you can't appreciate the sky at least.” He looked upward again, watching the aurora ripple and shiver far above them. “We've never seen the likes of that before.”
“It's true,” Aisling said, her faintly disgruntled tone making it clear she wasn't amused by his attempts to change the subject. “I can see why father believes the people of the North have ice in their veins instead of blood, yet, if I saw that as a child, I would not want to leave this place either.”
Claude chuckled, squeezing her shoulder. “You haven't even seen Castle Bladdiyd yet. We're almost there; give or take a few minutes.”
“Oh, good,” His cousin groaned dramatically, trying to shove her hands even deeper into her pockets. “My fingers are starting to go numb! This is all your fault.”
“My fault? I distinctly recall warning you, three times at that!”
“You offered me a chance to see the King of Lions and Queen of Liberation again! After the battle for Shamballa, what could I possibly have said except yes?!”
“There isn't going to be any fighting here, Lii; it's not that kind of celebration.”
“But there will be dancing! Even these silly, tight 'formal' clothes are worth getting at least one dance with one of them.”
“Careful, Lii, your father's going to be heartbroken if he knows my Mitya and Lethe have replaced him in your heart.” Claude chided, laughing when she attempted to jab him with her elbow multiple times. Aisling had always had stars in her eyes, and she'd hardly been the only one to pause mid-fight to gawk at Dimitri or Byleth as they carved a bloody pathway through the enemies at Merceus and Shamballa. Hell, it made convincing them, as a crownless prince, to continue assisting in the war effort until all was settled so much easier; even the warriors still looking down their noses at Fodlan couldn't help but be awed by the sight.
“Shut up, Kovu,” She grumbled.
He laughed, the sound only easing when he lead her around a corner and the castle they'd taken back from the Empire a mere year ago came into view.
The emotions hit him hard and fast, distracting him enough that he didn't even tease Aisling's strangled noise of amazement. Light shone from every stain-glass window, casting beautiful light across the snow and stone. He could hear music and laughter both inside and out, and even in the low light of the evening the building was a marvel to behold. Again he was glad that he'd come here without an escort, without official knowledge, because how else could he stop and admire the place Dimitri called home?
“The music is so slow,” Aisling murmured, standing on her toes as she strained to listen.
“It's a waltz, Lii,” He said, breaking out of his daze. “Didn't I tell you? This is the music of Faerghus. Slow so you can time your heart to your partners, intimate as you never leave each other's arms until the dance ends, passionate in that the steps can speak for your heart where words fail.”
Claude looked at the window again, then grinned at her. “Shall we go in?”
“Okay,” She says, a little awe in her voice.
He thought he'd have to argue with the men guarding the gates, but to his immense surprise, both of them recognized him and let him in with awestruck expressions. The sheer amount of recognition he'd been getting from citizens and soldiers alike among here baffled him...but it was nice. Very nice. Being welcome isn't something he'd ever take for granted.
Claude slipped his hood off – resulting in another round of random retired soldiers and citizens spotting him and swarming curiously about him, asking what had brought him to Firdhiad and how long he'd be staying and who Aisling was. The answer to the latter – that she was his cousin – was met with a strange sort of relief, followed by one soldier actually recognizing her as well and explaining that she'd saved him from a Titanus. Claude was left with the odd feeling that he was in the dark, and after leaving their coats with one of the valets, they made their way through the entrance hall. Aisling preened the entire way, enthusiastically recalling the fight as uninformed civilians hug on her every word.
Given how crowded the entrance hall was, Claude had feared the worst when they passed through the double doors to the grand ballroom. Fortunately it wasn't overcrowded at all; he spotted Dedue and Flayn on the dance floor among the many other couples after a few moments of searching, then Sylvain and Mercedes too. All of them looked quite well, their joy so tangible he can see it in the air. He spotted Catherine and Shamir lingering by one of the dessert tables, each nursing a glass of wine, Catherine laughing about something that caused her wife's stoicism to crack just enough for a smile. Seteth was playing the piano, which surprised the hell out of him – he hadn't known the bishop to have any musical talents at all – all while Dorothea sang a beautiful aria about enduring love in the face of adversity.
He'd heard this particular song before; it had been played at the annual ball back when he was a student at Garreg Mach. It had been this tune that he'd swept his Teach away to, this symphony through which he'd dared Dimitri to dance with him as well, this music ringing in his ears when he looked between these people he so enjoyed teasing and started to realize that he might actually be in trouble.
Deep, deep trouble.
Claude let out a nostalgic sigh, then chuckled to himself as Aisling darted over to the desserts, her gaggle of listeners hot on her heels. “Well, I don't have to worry about her keeping herself occupied,” He mused, walking forward to dodge a would-be dance partner he didn't recognize.
Looking about, however...he couldn't seem to find who he was looking for. The throne sitting at the far end of the room atop the stairs was empty; Manuela was leaning on it, nursing a drink (as always)...but there was no sign of Dimitri. Granted, the dance floor was a bit crowded, but the king was hard to miss if you were looking for him in earnest.
“May I have this dance?”
Distracted as he was, her voice didn't sink in right away. It wasn't until he turned around, a polite rejection on his lips, that his eyes settled on her and all thought came to a screeching halt.
Byleth Lilah Eisner looked at him in utter wonder, as if he was a vision of heaven instead of her. Rather than the semi-formal evening wear she'd worn to the ball those years ago, she was clad in a silver backless dress straight out of a fable painting. Her hair was tied back in a single braid with a crimson ribbon wound through it; a sapphire necklace graced her pale throat. Mercedes must have tied her to a chair to prepare her for the night, because her soulful blue orbs were accented with eye shadow, her lashes darkened. Byleth had always been beautiful, even dressed in a man's clothes or covered in mud and filth from a mission; being so presented in a way that not only acknowledged her beauty but emphasized it was overkill of the highest order, and Claude dared anyone who laughed at him for gaping at her to not have done the same in his place.
“As you wish,” Was the only response he could manage. No jokes, no teasing...how could he ever make a jape if the face of such radiance?
She beamed at his response, taking his hand in hers and leading him onto the dance floor. Claude swallowed hard, all the words and thoughts he'd carefully organized on the road scattered to the wind. He had missed her every day of the year he'd spent winning the crown and convincing the more belligerent of his people the virtues of joining with Fodlan in any capacity, yet seeing her again hit him like a rampaging wyvern.
The music picked up a bit – ah yes, hadn't this been the very moment he'd approached her back then? The very same? Had she planned this? Had they planned this?
“You came,” Byleth whispered, resting her head on his shoulders as they slid across the floor. “I so hoped you would.”
“And here I thought I would surprise you,” Claude managed to chuckle. “Who told you I was coming?”
“Hilda did, who else?”
He rolled his eyes and pouted. No wonder the pink-haired menace had seen him off so cheerfully after arguing that he should announce himself. “Should have seen that coming. She is so off the winter solstice celebration list.”
“I'll buy her two presents to make up for it,” Byleth responded, a mild note entering her voice. Claude sucked in a short breath. There was something mingled with that genuine amusement in her eyes when she looked up at him, something intense and razor-sharp – he tried to read it, tried to understand, but even as she changed there had always been an enigmatic edge to Teach's expressions, and he couldn't quite parse it. “I'd wondered if I'd ever see you again.”
“That's...awfully dramatic,” He said cautiously. His heart lurched threateningly, leaving him with the sudden and very strong sense that he was missing something. “You didn't think you were rid of me, did you? I know the letters from the fist six months got waylaid – Almyran nobles aren't above petty sabotage, apparently – but I was always going to come back. Didn't you...?” That unease intensified further at the confused surprise on her face.
“You did write,” She breathed, “oh...I'm glad to hear that. Though less glad that they were deliberately misplaced.” The music changed, picking up a bit; Claude nearly tripped over his own feet, but Byleth saved him, guiding him throughout the noble waltz that he'd never quite been able to master. “Claude, please tell me...how is one meant to interpret 'I have made all the use of my Fodlan blood as I can', if not a goodbye?”
It took a moment for the mark to drop, but when it did, it dropped hard. “Oh,” he managed, eyes widening. “It...Lethe, I swear, it was not intended that way! All I had meant by it was that I needed to go home for a time, because there were some things I could only achieve in my capacity as a prince.”
“That would have been nice to know before you left,” Byleth informed him plaintively, leaning forward so her forehead rested against his. “I have missed you so much...and I had spent far too much time regretting not being more honest with you.”
“Honest?” He repeated, right before nearly tripping again.
“If I didn't know any better, I'd say you had two left feet,” Byleth whispered teasingly, changing her grip on him so her arm was around his waist. “Come on. Let me show you; I've gotten better since last time.”
Unable to argue with that, his mind racing to uncover this fresh secret she'd laid before him, he let her carry him around the dance floor as the music sped up and slowed down in a hypnotic rhythm. Soon, even trying to focus on the mystery was a challenge; she was there in his arms, smiling and laughing and gazing at him with that same intense look throughout the song, deftly avoiding the partner change so they could stay together.
Her eyes were warm and deep and adoring; he was practically burning within his skin under the weight of that gaze. Did she know what she was doing to him (what she'd always done to him)? Could he dare to hope that it was teasing, that all those feelings he'd carefully concealed so as to not interfere with the beauty of the love shared between his two dearest might have been perceived after all?
Byleth watched him carefully, as though committing every inch of him to memory. Her hands shifted just a big occasionally, tenderly brushing against his side and the small of his back. Claude swallowed and prayed that Aisling wouldn't tease him too mercilessly when he did, at last, stumble off the dance floor.
The sound wound to a close in a crashing cord, and as they came to a stop Byleth leaned forward and pressed a soft kiss against his upper lip.
He froze, blood boiling and heart racing, as she gently nipped at him and then pulled back, a pleased, content smile on her lightly blushing face. Before he could even attempt to form a response to that, a hand lightly touched his wrist.
“May I cut in?” Dimitri's deep, smooth baritone was unmistakable. Claude slowly turned to look at him and was once again treated to a dangerous, heavenly sight.
He so rarely saw the King of Lions (so Almyra had taken to calling him after the Battle of Merceus) in anything other than armor or training leather. He wondered, with what little brain power was available to him in that moment, what precisely Mercedes had bribed the self-conscious king with in order to work her magic on him. The formal clothes were simple yet elegant, emphasizing his muscular form while hiding most of his scars. His permanently messy blonde hair was tied back, his ruined eye replaced with a magical recreation of the original (Flayn and Linhardt's greatest success). Dimitri seemed somehow both the king he knew now, and the shy, self conscious prince who'd blushed all the way through the dance Claude had dragged him into back then.
“Very well,” Byleth said with a merry smile, placing Claude's hand in his. “I think I may have the beginning of a headache coming on...I'll go get myself a drink.” With a teasing smile – a truly teasing one, the likes of with Dorothea had wielded with great success before reserving them for Petra – she slipped off the ballroom floor as the orchestra began the next piece of music.
“I'm very glad to see you again,” Dimitri said softly, an intent look on his face.
“I'm certainly glad to see you too,” Claude said a little breathlessly, his wildly spinning mind clapping onto the oddly familiar-sounding melody coming from the orchestra pit. It was odd because he didn't know many waltz's, only the ones the king in his arms favored due to them being used as morale boosters.
“The girl who came with you bears a strong resemblance. Is she family?” The blonde asked, leading him to the middle of the floor.
“Yup. Cousin.” He followed Dimitri's eyes and grinned when he caught sight of Aisling standing in front of Byleth, gesticulating eagerly. “She wore me down until I agreed to take her with me, and then complained vehemently that I had failed to adequately warn her about the weather.”
Dimitri chuckled easily; the warm sound did treacherous things to his stomach. “We'll have to see she leaves with better mittens,” he said.
“Maybe, but it's the wind that's giving her the most trouble, and...” Claude trailed off. Dorothea was singing again, and the verse flowing through the air had taken the song from 'might have heard it once before' to 'I have certainly heard this before and I'm going to claw up the walls if I can't remember the name'. What was particularly telling was when he glanced over at the orchestra, then back at his partner, Dimitri's smile had widened. “I'm missing something.”
“Are you?” The king purred; somehow, the words sounded like both a question and a statement. Claude scowled at him as their dance increased in tempo (that was sort of odd, not many waltzs did that...)
Then Dorothea sung the first part of the chorus, 'I need you like water, like breath, like rain,' and it hit him. He did know this song. It was an Almyran wedding tune. More importantly, it was his mother's favorite song, it had been sung at her wedding to his father, and he had shared it with Dimitri and Byleth after the attempted assault on Deirdru. This was an Almyran love song, translated into a Faerghus waltz!
The look of stunned comprehension on his face must truly have been something else, because Dimitri was visibly restraining a very attention-getting fit of playful laughter. “I wasn't sure if you'd like it,” he confessed through a sheepish smile, “but when I learned you would be here, I couldn't help myself. I had to steal a dance to it.”
“I'm sorry for laughing,” Dimitri added thoughtfully, “but I can't quite help it. After all the times you've left me speechless, I thought I'd never be able to surprise you in turn.” His arm shifted around his back in a way Claude may have identified as possessive if he were paying the gesture the attention it deserved. As it was, the borderline attack-inducing pace of his heartbeat and the fire in his blood commanded his attention.
“You wrote this version?” Claude whispered.
Dimitri blushed lightly at the question. “I should give most of the credit to Dorothea and Manuela; I wouldn't have known where to start without their help, and they were constantly correcting my missteps. If you do enjoy it, they'll be pleased to know their hard work paid off.”
He listened to the as the music filled his ears, so numb with amazement he was relying on the blonde to lead him through the dance. It was the same song, yet different, mixing the gentleness of northern hearts with eastern frankness; it suited him, suited his own heart that had been so torn in both directions.
“I love it,” He said honestly.
“Oh! Oh...I'm glad,” Dimitri stammered a bit, though he maintained his confident grip on his fellow king.
He couldn't bear this any longer. He'd been a coward about this for far too long, failed to be truthful with the most important people in his life, and if any of this meant what he thought it did, hoped it did... “You know,” he whispered, “that's a rather romantic gift for your best friend.”
At that, Dimitri sighed and rested his forehead against Claude's. “What am I to do with you, Kovu of Deirdru?” He wondered. Claude very nearly stopped breathing at the sound of his other name on the man's lips. “I know not what to say to convey what's in my heart; I'm not an eloquent man like you. I hoped this song would speak for me.”
“M...Mitya...” Words failed him. How often did that happen?
He'd resigned himself to giving up the only two people he'd truly love and all along they'd both returned the sentiment? How much time had he wasted? How close had he come to denying all three of them happiness, having failed to trust them with his heart's desires?
“It's not your fault,” Dimitri murmured. His lip curved upward. “Not wholly your fault, that is. I knew. I knew for a while, but I never felt worthy of you; certainly not enough to ask that you share my love with another.” He sighed softly, his breath warm against Claude's lips. “I nearly let you slip away. I won't make that mistake again.”
The music was winding down. Dimitri lead him to the side of the dance floor, cast his gaze around in a somewhat exaggerated manner, and chuckled. “Byleth has retired, it seems. Her head must truly be troubling her to leave the floor while you are here. Shall we go check on her?”
Claude was not a fool.
Taking a shaky breath and wearing his famous smile with a force of effort, he responded, “I couldn't leave without making sure Lethe's alright. Though I'd be grateful if someone can stick around and keep an eye on Aisling. I wouldn't her to wander off while I'm...preoccupied.”
Dimitri grinned. “That can be arranged.”
Dimitri lead him up two flights of stairs and through the halls to the ornate door of his bedroom. They hadn't said a word since leaving the dance floor; it was a comfortable silence for the most part, though there was a strong undercurrent of emotion. Claude was in a daze, reviewing his memories up to the day the left for Almyra, wondering how he could have not known, not even suspected...
He thought they cared about him. He hadn't thought himself loved, not by one, certainly not by both of them. Years of being told that no one could possibly love a half-breed had jaded him to the concept of romance, it was true...yet...
The door swung open, revealing a sizable room within. Claude's heart all but lodged a formal complaint when he looked at the bed, large enough that four people could sleep comfortably on it; of course, he didn't get to dwell on it for too long. After all, there was a prettier sight to hold his attention.
Byleth was kneeling in front of the fireplace, tending to the sizable blaze within. She had changed out of her dress to simple white nightclothes and traded the sapphire necklace for a simple chain along which were strung three rings. She looked up at their entrance and her eyes brightened.
“I'm sorry,” were the first words out of his mouth. She blinked in surprise, and he hesitantly went on. “About leaving the way I did. I'd...I'd always intended to come back, but I – I can see why you thought I wouldn't. I needed to do it, but I should have – um, should have been more clear. More honest.” He hesitated, and felt Dimitri squeeze his wrist in appreciation. “I missed you two.”
Byleth straightened up and stepped into his arm's reach; her gaze turning gentle. “It's alright...we both knew that going back was important to achieving your dream. That's why we didn't say anything that might have taken you away from it, even in the face of loosing you.”
“What was that?”
She reached up and stroked his cheek. “Stay,” She responded, soft and pleading. “Stay with us.”
Claude took in a deep, shaky breath. “I'm here,” He said in return, clasping her hand in his and pressing a kiss against her palm. He met her gaze with only a slight tremble betraying the depths of what he felt. “Do you still want me to?”
“Yes.” Byleth's arm snaked around his neck and pulled him into an aggressive kiss. Claude stumbled back a step, his back hitting Dimitri's chest as he fumbled to catch her and hold her up. He felt rather than heard the king laugh, the insistent press of her tongue against his lips and in his mouth as he surrendered to her. She tasted like red wine and dark chocolate, and something soft and sweet that was decidedly her. He regained his balance against Dimitri's shoulder and kissed back fervently, a groan embarrassing in how lustful it was escaping him in the process.
Byleth broke the kiss and did her best to smile confidently; the attempt was rather undermined by her pleased blush. She retreated from his arms and walked toward the bed, grabbing the helm of her top and pulling it off. Claude instinctively went to follow her, only to suddenly be obstructed by an arm around his waist.
“Mitya?!” He half-protested, half questioned, twisting in an attempt to free himself and follow Byleth, who was still standing with her now bare back to him. She let out a light, nervous-yet-playfully malevolent giggle, causing Claude to freeze in place.
Dimitri said nothing, merely nuzzling his neck. His arms slid down to Claude's stomach, the famed Blaiddyd strength pinning the brunette against his chest with trivial ease.
Byleth glanced over her shoulder, then slid her pants off as well, slowly climbing onto the bed. She rolled over onto her side, gently grasping the sheets next to her with a sigh of longing. “I didn't understand what all those tales meant by being able to 'feel' someone's absence.” She murmured. “It seemed like such silly hyperbole...” She stroked the blanket, once, twice, then drew her hand up her stomach. “But I could feel it. All those months and it lingered there, always at the back of my mind. I could only imagine you. Imagine your laugh and your smile and your hands.”
Claude choked on a dozen different words as she grasped her breast, rubbing her thumb against her pale flesh. He made an abortive attempt to pull away from Dimitri – a hopeless prospect if there was any – and managed, “I know, I know, Lethe, I felt it too...”
She smiled at him – it might have been a smirk, or intended to be a smirk, Claude's brain wasn't a hundred percent devoted to its usual keen insight – and slowly drew her fingers along the inside of her thigh. She let out a soft, keening whimper as she fully settled her hand between her legs and slipped one finger inside her womanhood.
“L-Lethe,” Claude gasped; he was tense enough to shake, rapidly stiffening at the sweet, tempting display of pining before him. He squirmed in those unyielding arms, desperate to reach her, touch her, drive away all those lonely memories until all she was full of his warmth, his love –
“Shhh,” Dimitri murmured, his breath hot in Claude's ear. The brunette couldn't fathom how his sweet, shy Mitya wasn't falling to pieces at the sight in front of them as Byleth pressed in another finger, then another as she began to slowly move her hand. “Shh.”
“Mitya,” He pleaded, unable to form a coherent protest as she started to moan earnestly. “M-Mitya, why, I can't, please...”
“You left with barely a goodbye,” Dimitri murmured in response, pressing his lips against the curve of his ear. “Don't make such sounds, beloved. This won't last. We've missed you too much for that.”
Claude's sputtered response died halfway from his throat when Byleth's thighs squeeze against her arm. She rolled her head against the pillows and bucked her hips up as if to meet his thrusts, her ankles curving around each other as though trapping his legs. Her thumb traces lazy circles around the tip of her breast; she tilted her head far enough to kiss her shoulder, pressing back against the mattress. She pushed her fingertips hard against her walls and breathed out a heavy whine that went directly to the schemer's groin.
“I need you,” she whispered sweetly, “can't you feel how much I need you?”
His eighteen-year-old self would have been mortified at the pleading, desperate noise that dragged out of him.
Byleth looked so pleased by it, her shyness melted away by the effect she was having on him. She rocked against her hand in a slow, tender rhythm, so clearly imagining his weight on her his presence all around her... Claude trembled, held up more and more by their mutual lover's iron grip rather than his watery legs.
“She'll have you first,” Dimitri murmured, one hand shifting down and tracing the belt buckle of those now painfully tight silk pants. “It gives me a little more time to figure out what I want to do with you, before I share you with her...” He pressed a hard kiss against the column of his captive's throat, then another, gently nipping at the gorgeous bronze skin. “I'd never desired a man before you...though Byleth was kind enough to give me an idea of what you might like.”
Claude managed a breathless laugh at that, the noise somewhere between an attempt at smugness and the shy disbelief of a boy who could hardly believe his ears. “S-since when do you talk like that, Mitya?” He chuckled, “Where's my blushing, stammering lion?”
“He fell too in love to be afraid of properly pleasing his dearest,” Dimitri responded in a low, husky growl. There was a faint edge of the shyness beneath that bravado, but Claude could hardly notice, with how his legs were buckling under the force of this new approach. “Ah, what has tormented me more...your fine ass or your clever mouth? I'll take both before the night is out, but I wonder...”
“Mmm, Dimitri, not fair,” Byleth protested breathlessly, her hips jerking at his voice. “Don't tease me as well as him...he's the one in trouble...”
Dimitri's rumbling laugh was the death keel for Claude's ability to stand unaided; he'd been hanging on by a thread, but that was the final push over the edge. “I'm sorry, beloved.” He said, contrite. “I couldn't help myself.” The blonde nuzzled his captive deer, murmuring, “Plead, my beloved. Let us hear you plead in turn...”
“Please...” Claude whispered, shutting his eyes to stave off the overwhelming ache of longing. “I'll never leave you again...I'll wake up next to you every morning, lie with you every night. No matter how many lifetimes I live, whatever world I'm born into, my soul is yours, it'll always be yours, please, Lethe, Mitya, please...”
Dimitri lets out out a soft noise as he kissed his throat again; Claude thought it might have been a sob. He can see shimmering in Byleth's eyes as her head tilted his way again. “Always,” Dimitri whispered, then slid his wandering hand beneath the opened belt and gently stroked the length of his manhood. “Always, my beloved.”
The edges of Claude's eyes burned with tears; he slumped back against the blonde's chest, could feel the other man's cock pressing against his hip (damn him for being so bloody tall) as he watched Byleth draw near the edge of her endurance. Dimitri lightly bit his shoulder and gave him a particularly firm squeeze right before Byleth's strangled cry filled the room and she collapsed against the sheets.
Claude whimpered sympathetically as she fought to catch her breath and removed her slick fingers to gaze dazedly at them. His frustrated whine when Dimitri's hand retreated broke down into a yelp when the blonde released him entirely, causing him to crash down onto the floor as his legs gave out. “Oh,” he panted, “alright then,” distantly he was disappointed he'd failed to be witty or clever at any point up until now, but that could yet be remedied.
Righting himself, he crossed the room, discarding the now-confining evening wear one piece at a time until he was naked as her and crawled onto the bed. “I missed you too,” Was all he said before lying on top of her and kissing her lips again.
Vaguely he was aware of Dimitri walking slowly around the side of the bed, watching intently as Claude drew all the air out of his darling professor's lungs and fingered the silken strands of her hair. He drew back after a minute, his tongue flicking her upper lip as he moved, drinking in her flushed cheeks and beseeching eyes. All those dreams, and yet I never imagined her teasing me... That thought gave him a spark of inspiration, and he smirked.
Byleth eyed him warily, but that was quickly set aside when he pressed another bruising, searing kiss against her mouth, then her jaw, then her throat as he rolled his hips down against hers. She whimpered, ruined and pleased as he drew it out, kissing and sucking on her breasts while her body still trembled – oversensitive. Dimitri's content sigh as he sank into a chair next to the bed, eyes sliding up and down their entangled bodies as he negligently tossed his shirt and belt off to the side, felt like a caress.
She tried to run her fingers through his hair, but he quickly grasped her wrist and pinned it to the bed, breathing hotly on her stomach. She let out a small sound of protest, but he merely grabbed her other arm and did the same, tracing her abs with his tongue. The involuntary noise Dimitri made at that sight was even louder than her own reaction, and she could feel Claude's smirk as he slid further down her, momentarily giving her hope of his manhood only to pull away.
“Clau-ah,” Byleth gasped when he kissed the inside of her thigh; for all she had playacted confidence so far, she and Dimitri had only been intimate a few times, too keenly aware of his absence to fully enjoy themselves. “Ah...” She twisted her wrists, wanting so badly to stroke his head when his tongue teased over her entrance, but he held her sure. She barely had a moment to think, disgruntled, you think that's funny, Kovu?, before a thick wet swipe quite succinctly distracted her.
“Ah!” Her eyes fell upon Dimitri, one arm propping him up against the arm of the chair, the other stroking his sizable manhood while he watched Claude begin to eat her out – deliberately slow and thoughtful, as if testing a new delicacy.
“Got you,” He murmured, his words muffled in the space between her legs. He was too worked up to draw it out as he might have liked; he pressed his face deeper into her, rubbing his tongue back and forth against her clit. One wet swipe brought her legs around his neck; the added weight and pressure made breathing harder, but that was just another nice perk. He thought about letting go, of taking her large breasts in his hands again...it was tempting, but he wanted to pay her back just a bit for so viciously teasing him like that.
“Kovu,” She whispered between gasps, thrusting her hips up against his mouth. She whispered fragmented pleas, curses, and praise as he worked her, her fingernails digging into his wrists. Claude heard it all, his heart so full he swore it would burst; she's so close, how long can she last if I take her right now, should I wait, should I...?
A warm, calloused hand settled between his shoulders as he curled his tongue inside her to a particularly delighted shriek. He moaned as that hand rubbed circles on his back, pressed lightly against his neck, then slid into his hair. He heard an intense sigh, then felt a sharp tug on on his scalp just as Byleth's slick began to fill his mouth. “Come, love,” Dimitri murmured. “Don't wear out your jaw just yet.”
Byleth whimpered as Claude retreated, letting Dimitri tug him to the edge of the bed and into his lap. The brunette blinked a few times to refocus on his other lover, smiling dazedly, and lunged forward to kiss him. Dimitri's moan was heartfelt; he pressed Claude against his chest, guiding him until he was crouching on the floor again with the blonde sitting upright.
“Decided?” Claude asked coyly when they finally broke apart, the taste of her and each other on the tip of the tongue.
Dimitri laughed, raking his fingers through the brunette's messy locks. “As a matter of fact, yes.” He shifted a bit to accommodate, watching hungrily as Claude sank to his knees between his legs, green eyes glittering.
Claude exhaled heavily, taking a lazy moment to admire the blonde's manhood; it earned him a warning growl, but he thought it was worth it. “Confidence looks good on you,” he managed, before darting his tongue out and brushing from halfway down to the head. A taste, an experiment. It had been quite some time since he'd seduced a man; his king deserved the best he could do... He moved a bit closer and licked a long stripe from the hilt to the top, gratified by the content sound Dimitri made, then took the tip into his mouth and swallowed him down.
Dimitri is long and thick, and Claude was running off of vague memories and several fantasies; as a consequence, he nearly choked when he felt the head of his lover's cock brush against the back of his throat. “You're alright?” The blonde panted, stroking the top of his head. His worry was gentle and tender, as ever.
Claude drew his mouth back halfway, quirks his lips upward, and hummed his response. The vibration sends a violent shudder through the other man, who's grip on his hair tightened nearly to the point of being painful. “Good,” He whispered in turn, tugging on those locks as Claude took all of him in again.. “very good...”
The brunette hummed again, feeling almost shy at the praise (lord, it was like he and Dimitri had switched heads). He slid his tongue along the length, retreating a bit again and sucking lightly. A rough tug pulled him back down, the sensation of the tip hitting his throat less overwhelming already. He took it slowly a third time, breathing out threw his nose as he did so...and then began to bobble his head more quickly, licking and coiling his tongue around his prize, shuddering whenever a rough tug shifted his movements.
Dimitri growled and moaned; shifting his fingers in Claude's hair and, with a small movement being his warning, thrust back into his schemer's mouth. The strangled, overwhelmed noise and flinch made him pause, pat his head and murmur an apology; he waited, watching half-sensible as that wonderfully clever mouth darted up and down. When he found the rhythm, he thrust in better time with it, and was thoroughly pleased by the resultant moan of pleasure.
“Don't finish without me,” Byleth murmured, her voice faint as she watched them with ravenous eyes.
“Haven't forgotten you...love...” Dimitri responded, twisting so he could kiss her. It was tempting to let go then and there, but tonight wasn't about him. He tugged pointedly on Claude, reluctantly throwing him back and off his manhood.
Claude looked up at his king, torn between disappointment and curiosity. “I said we'd share you,” Dimitri murmured; Byleth delicately licked and sucked on two of his fingers. “Didn't I?” He lightly pressed down on her tongue, then pushed her back onto the bed, kissing her mouth and neck as he settled her among the pillows. He slid off her as Claude crawled onto the mattress, dilated green eyes somehow growing wider still as Dimitri guided him over her.
Claude hesitated, murmured “I adore you”, and then slipped into her; the overwhelming tight heat not quite enough to distract him from the two fingers carefully pressing into him and slowly moving, working him open in a way he'd only idly done to himself a few times. Byleth saw the war between pleasure and discomfort in his face, and she drew him into a deep and distracting kiss as Dimitri continued his work.
“Well?” Dimitri whispered when he was satisfied, gripping Claude's hip and kissing his shoulder blades. Byleth let out a quiet whine at the extra weight; they both moved a bit to accommodate her without saying a word. “All you imagined?”
“I love you two,” Claude uttered from the crook of her neck, where he was hiding tears of a joy he couldn't put to words. “Please...”
Dimitri kissed him again, murmured what few words of love he knew in the Almyran tongue, and pushed into the brunette – slowly, carefully, until he was in to the hilt. Claude let out a sound a halfway between a sob and a laugh; 'I love you' spilled from his lips over and over, his eyes shut with greater pleasure than he'd ever felt. Knowing that it wouldn't last – that Claude was too worked up to take much more stimulation before he was finished – he kissed Byleth over his shoulder and the two of them began to move in concert.
Byleth briefly feared that Claude was in pain when she saw his tears; he smiled at her then, kissed her and pulled a deliriously happy laugh from both of them. Their mutual lover was quickly beyond coherency, babbling out strings of praise and pleading in his native tongue, tears dripping down his cheeks as he drank in the mutual love in every small touch and rough thrust. Dimitri tried to listen, to understand, but he was hanging on by a thread; he could only take the brunette harder and hoped that conveyed his understanding, his reciprocation. Byleth's eyes quickly rolled up into her head as the room was filled with overwhelmed cries.
“Love you,” She whispered the two words she knew in the tongue of the east, and while her accent lay heavily on them, they were not misunderstood; Claude thrust into her once, twice and came with a shuddering cry. As he filled her, the warmth and feeling of it dragged her over the edge too; Dimitri lasted a bare few more seconds before spilling into his lover and collapsing against his back.
They stayed there for a moment, dazed; then Dimitri carefully slid out of Claude and helped him off of Byleth, letting him slump onto the mattress between them. Byleth grabbed the heavy blanket she'd pushed aside after taking off her dress and pulled it over them, planting a gentle kiss on Claude's cheek as she settled at his side.
“'arry m,” Claude murmured, his voice all but inaudible.
“What?” Dimitri asked, his heart skipping as he lay down as well.
The brunette turned over slightly, hazy green eyes loving and hopeful. “Marry me,” he whispered again. “Please, please, my loves, marry me.”
Dimitri smiled weakly at him in turn, his own vision faintly blurry now. Byleth fumbled with the necklace she'd worn throughout their encounter until it came unclasped and slipped one of the rings off of it. “Of course,” She responded, sliding the silver-and-purple ring, carefully cut and custom made to resemble the one given to her by her father, over one of his fingers. The blonde felt a little foolish for not having done the same.
“As you wish,” He promised too, kissing his neck. “Sleep now. We'll plan more in the morning.”
Claude hummed happily, placing his ring hand on Byleth's hip. He rested his head against the pillow and closed his eyes, drifting away all at once.