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Chapter 2 – The Golden Deer

~Imperial Year 1181~

Sylvain had woken up extra early to go to class this morning. “Why… Just… Why,” he moaned with a groggy head as he trudged out the door, barely remembering to put his blazer on. In his mind, he knew why. Felix had been distancing himself more and more each day from Sylvain – and hanging out more with students from other houses. He especially didn’t like his apparent newfound friendship with Claude.

“Yes, why?” Ingrid has waited just outside the Blue Lions classroom, and had noticed the bad mood Sylvain had been in.

“My head hurts, too..” Sylvain groaned as he sat in his seat, waiting for Manuela to show up. “It’s all that… that… dickhead’sfault.”

“Sylvain, you know that’s just how Felix is.” Ingrid took a seat beside her childhood friend. “How are you not used to it by now?”

“So you knew…” Sylvain groaned even more loudly and put his head on his desk.

“Well, what did he do this time?”

Sylvain noticed that other kids started to file into the classroom. He should have known that Annette would be early to class. “I’d rather not talk about it. Especially since Professor Manuela is almost here. And probably the Felix himself.”

Ingrid had known her friend long enough to know what he really meant. She could tell from his body language – and reddened ears – just what Felix had done. “If it’s stopped you from hitting on all those innocent women, then so much the better.”

Before Ingrid could continue, Manuela had unexpectedly arrived earlier than usual, impressed that her students had come earlier than her. “Good job, everyone, you are all here – and so early, no less! Let’s get started, then!”

As Manuela set up the chalkboard and her students got out their notebooks, Sylvain looked around, noticing something amiss. Just as Manuela was about to begin her lecture, Sylvain interrupted, “Pardon me, Professor Manuela? Felix isn’t here.”

“Oh, that reminds me. Before I begin, I have to make an announcement. As of yesterday, Felix is now in the Golden Deer class.”

This announcement drew numerous gasps from the Blue Lion class. “What? Why?” Ashe couldn’t believe it. “I saw him training with His Highness every day last week.”

“I would know,” Dedue cut in. “Why he would suddenly go to a different class – led by a much laxer leader than His Highness – I will never understand.”

“I think it’s my fault…” Mercedes sounded downtrodden. “It’s because I forced all those sweets on him, isn’t it? I wish I had known he didn’t like them.”

“All right, all right, everyone.” Dimitri, as head of house, stood up before the distress in the room got out of control. “I know you’re all upset that Felix is no longer with us, but it’s in the past.” He then gestured to a few more students in the room. “In better news, we have a few new students – Raphael and Lysithea from the Golden Deer house and Linhardt and Dorothea from the Black Eagle house – starting today.”

When the classroom had finally returned to peace – and Dorothea had her chance to gawk at Manuela and chat with her – Sylvain had picked the wrong time to say, “Why? Why, Professor?”

“He told me he wanted to talk more with Claude and focus on tactics.” Manuela sighed and knit her eyebrows.

“Which is really weird.” Linhardt didn’t look up from the desk on which he had planted his face. “Felix struck me more as a ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ kind of guy. Why would he suddenly be interested in ‘tactics?’”

“I agree,” Manuela replied. “I was against it, at first, but first and foremost – Hey, Sylvain, where are you going?”

“To find my friend, what else?”

“It would do you no good,” Dimitri spoke up. “The Golden Deer have their own mission today. I believe it’s to subdue an uprising in Gaspard territory.”

Ashe sighed at this news. “I’m glad that that is not our mission. I couldn’t face Lord Lonato… Not like this.”

Sylvain breathed an even heavier sigh as he reluctantly sat down and took notes from Manuela’s lecture – today and the day after. And the day after that. And many more after that. The heir to House Gautier had already begun to worry less about his studies and more about Felix’s whereabouts. Nobody took note of this fact except from Manuela, who after one particularly rough day had stopped Sylvain after class. “Hey.”

Sylvain instantly froze. “Oh, no… Professor, am I in trouble? I’m sorry I haven’t been keeping my grades up…”

“No, it’s not that… It’s just… What’s troubling you?”

“Damn, you noticed.”

“Let’s me guess, it has to do with Felix.” Manuela’s tone turned more grave. “He… may not be coming back. Since he’s with the Alliance now, it’s likely he could have gotten caught in one of their arguments.”

After several moons of waiting, Sylvain was too tired; he had already begun to accept this fate. “I guess…”

“You’ve got your friends to support you. His Highness is a good man. And just know that I will never, ever abandon you.”

For once, Sylvain completely ignored Manuela’s charms and paid attention only to her words. “Thank you.”

After Manuela had finally left, he continued, “And if that bastard dared to leave me, he deserves whatever comes to him.”