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The first time it happened was after Miklan. The death of Miklan, to be specific, after Sylvain had stood above his brother’s body and tried to differentiate his last memories of Miklan from the human-monster and the demonic-monster, wondering if they really were that different in the first place.

Sylvain had been shaking since returning to the monastery and he had skipped dinner, choosing to just wander and hope that he found something to distract himself so he wouldn’t have to wallow in the misery of Miklan’s face in his mind’s eye. The pity he felt for the death of his brother versus the part of himself that’d enjoyed the agonizing pain Miklan experienced in overtaken by the Lance of Ruin, the disgusting part of Sylvain that was glad to see the bastard suffer. His insides were al twisted up and his memories were at war. Death was never preferable and yet he was happy Miklan was dead. Torturous pain was horrific and yet Sylvain wanted Miklan to know what he’d inflicted upon Sylvain. Everything was all messed up, all wrong, and he couldn’t think, couldn’t clear his head, couldn’t rest like the professor had ordered. He’d been wandering for hours, well into the night, ignoring claims of ghosts and just trying to find some sort of peace so he could sink into the nothingness of sleep and forget.

That was when he’d ran into his highness.

Well, Dimitri had ran into him. Turning a corner and almost slamming into him, blond hair a flurry around his princely face. His gaze was wild until he realized who he’d barreled into, Dimitri’s eyes softening once he saw it was him. Sylvain pulled up the most believable smile he could manage and opened his big mouth to say something crass so he could be left alone, but Dimitri startled him into silence when he pushed Sylvain against the wall in this small corner beyond the library and dropped to his knees in front of Sylvain with grace befitting of a king, pulling at the front of his trousers and placing his lips to the shaft of Sylvain’s cock all before Sylvain could muster up the wherewithal to speak.

The shock came quickly, but was blown instantly away by the sudden warmth of Dimitri’s mouth on him, chapped lips moistened by saliva and hot breath, Sylvain hardening instantly with the stimulation that made his knees weak. He gasped and threaded his fingers in Dimitri’s hair, unsure if he wanted to pull Dimitri away or pull him closer. In that moment, the absurdity of what was happening hit him like a pound of bricks, the mental image of Sylvain backed into a corner with the future king on his knees in front of him, kissing the shaft of his hard cock like it was something they often did.

He wondered what people would think if they saw this— the residential slut getting blown by the prince of Faerghus, goddess above, how was this happening, how was Sylvain’s most sinful and private dream becoming a reality without any prompting on his part? Dimitri had instigated, Dimitri had cornered him and dropped to his knees, and now Dimitri was swallowing down the head, lips parted around the cock in his mouth, blond lashes dusting his cheeks with his brow upturned and almost wanton like he wanted to do this, like he was made to suck Sylvain’s cock. The blond pushed himself further down and began to bob his head like he knew what he was doing. Sylvain whimpered as he saw the sheen of Dimitri’s spit left on his cock as he drew back, the very idea that this was the future king sending the blood singing in his veins. Dimitri had barely just begun and already Sylvain was panting, trying to keep himself together, fisting Dimitri’s hair like he could fly off into the abyss if he let go. And then Dimitri did the worst thing ever—

Dimitri opened his gorgeous blue eyes and looked up at Sylvain with something close to adoration as he sunk lower on Sylvain’s cock and dared to swallow, throat tightening like a vice and sending Sylvain careening over the edge, embarrassingly quick to reach orgasm. Lights flashed behind his eyes as he emptied his load into Dimitri’s mouth, the young prince flinching but staying in place and taking Sylvain’s orgasm like a fucking champion, not pulling away until Sylvain’s hips were hitching with the aftermath of the pleasure. Sylvain moaned and shuddered and tried to bring his thoughts back to the present. His fingertips were tingling and he felt a little like he’d died in the best way. Sylvain smiled breathlessly and, again, tried to figure out how the fuck this had happened.

Then Dimitri pulled off his cock, tucked it back into Sylvain’s pants, stood smoothly, and said, “Now go get some rest.” His voice was hoarse and his words were clipped and impersonal compared to what he’d just done, leaving Sylvain a little bewildered. Then Dimitri nodded sharply at him and turned on his heel, leaving, Just— just leaving. Sylvain watched him go, too stunned to speak, his cock still wet with Dimitri’s mouth and softening in his trousers. Sylvain wondered what the fuck had just happened. Then he was hit with a sudden wave of exhaustion and realized Dimitri was right— he needed to get some rest.

The storm in his mind was oddly quiet as he shuffled back to his room, slipping inside and closing the door, hoping Felix didn’t hear him pass by and wondering if Dimitri was also tucked into bed in the room beside Sylvain’s. He was confused and aching and tired, but he wasn’t thinking of Miklan anymore. He was thinking of Dimitri on his knees, swallowing his cock and seed and not asking for a damn thing in return. The act of being given and not expected to return something was—

Sylvain was so lost. But he was also so tired. In reality, seeing Dimitri show how much he cared enough to put himself in a position of vulnerability was just reason number twenty-six. Sylvain slipped into bed, crawling beneath the sheets still clothed, and considered not bathing tomorrow just so he could have the sordid pleasure of walking around with the prince’s spit still on his cock all day tomorrow as he drifted off into a silent, empty sleep.

. . .

“You came in late last night.”

Fuck, Felix had heard him.

Sylvain tried to keep his expression schooled into his normal disarming grin as he tried to keep his hair from his eyes in the blustering wind atop the monastery while walking to class. The classroom wasn’t far, but Sylvain didn’t really like schedules. Being a minute or so late wasn’t new for Sylvain. It was just a little odd that Felix was walking beside him three minutes after class had started, and not only because Felix never let himself be late to anything. “I had restless legs— coming down from a battle can be hard. Shouldn’t you know that, Mr. Swordsman?”

Felix glared at him and Sylvain wished, just once, Felix would let him banter without feeling like he was going to get a limb severed from his body. The other man stared ahead as they walked side by side and asked Sylvain, “Was it a girl?”

Literally the exact opposite.

"A gentleman never kisses and tells,” Sylvain drawled, feeling like not denying anything or anyone was the safest route. Felix would never be surprised by Sylvain sleeping around, but he would absolutely be stunned beyond belief to learn that the prince himself had sucked Sylvain’s cock like he was gagging for it. Goddess, Sylvain was pretty sure Felix wouldn’t even believe him. Maybe…

“If it was that girl from the market, I’m going to have to tell Ingrid,” Felix huffed. “Who was it?”

“Dimitri,” Sylvain said, looking straight ahead, playing his hand and praying Felix folded. Considering the shocked silence and then a sudden burst of uncharacteristic laughter, Sylvain wasn’t sure if he was relieved or offended. It was good Felix didn’t believe him, but did Felix think Sylvain couldn’t get someone like the prince? Some kind of friend.

“I’ll tell Ingrid you were training for the first time in your damn life,” Felix said, shaking his head, something almost like a smile tugging on his lips. “Seiros— Dimitri. Dimitri. You can’t tell that one to Ingrid, she’ll buy it and break your nose.”

“Hah, yeah,” Sylvain said in a rush. He gnawed on his lower lip, thinking. “Felix— I need some advice.”

“Ask someone who cares,” Felix replied without walking away from him. That was a go ahead.

“If someone did you a favor and didn’t ask for anything in return, should you still return the favor anyways?”

Felix’s nose crinkled in disdain. “Are you asking me if one should allow their self to remain indebted to someone indefinitely? Repay them. Immediately.” Felix shook his head. “A stupid question. And who did the favor?”

“Do you think professor will mind us being late?” Sylvain asked quickly as he suddenly rushed for the classroom doors, throwing them open and interrupting their teacher mid sentence. Professor! Do you mind that we’re late?”

As he rushed into the classroom, the oppressive blank stare of his teacher was nothing compared to the sharp gaze boring into the back of his head. And yet both of these sensations paled in comparison to the way Sylvain’s heart stopped when his eyes met Dimitri’s before the prince looked ahead once more and began writing notes like nothing had happened.

Sylvain took his seat and took a hint— what had happened hadn’t happened. That was an order. He tapped his feather pen on the paper and formed a game plan. It hadn’t happened but a favor was a favor and Felix was right. Sylvain wasn’t going to be in anyone’s debt. He was going to repay the prince and that was the bottom line, orders or not.

. . .

Sylvain got his chance not even a week later, finding the monastery halls empty again, save patrols and a certain prince that should have been in bed hours ago. But with Flayn missing and Seteth losing his mind, pacing and shouting at the goddess herself for letting this happen, Sylvain knew it was risky to be out and about after curfew hours. Rumors of a masked figure that chilled him to the bone, a death knight that lurked around the monastery grounds at peak-Sylvain hours considering how often he snuck of off to be with random men and women. Well, used to sneak off. Ever since Dimitri had cornered him and turned his world on its axis, Sylvain hadn’t had the urge to seek comfort and validation from others. A terrifying change of concept. It was almost as terrifying as the rumored death knight.

Still, Sylvain was more focused on repaying his prince than dwelling on his sudden change of character. He preferred to bury such big and earth-shattering realizations of feelings before he could actually understand them. Let the impossibilities suffocate beneath six feet of soil before he ever actually faced them and let them hurt. Because him and Dimitri? Literally never going to happen.

Speaking of Dimitri, Sylvain found him.

The prince wasn’t supposed to be out this late— none of them were— but like hell Sylvain was going to do something like this in Dimitri’s room with Felix literally next door. Dimitri had started this in neutral territory, so Sylvain would keep it in the same place. Like this corner of the monastery that few people often went, an overlook between the training grounds and behind the classrooms. Private and dark and quiet and definitely the perfect place to get fucking kidnapped. Dimitri was armed, when was he ever unarmed, but Sylvain still felt an inkling of fear at seeing his prince walking these grounds alone after what might have happened to Flayn. He made a mental note to ask Dedue if maybe the man should be keeping a bell on Dimitri so he’d wake the entire student body if he snuck out like this again.

Dimitri was walking slowly, listening intently, his back turned to Sylvain. Sylvain approached cautiously, not wanting to startle the prince despite the fact that he was well aware his intentions for this unplanned rendezvous would startle any straight man out of their hair. Wait, was Dimitri straight? Sylvain didn’t know. Dimitri would tell him if he wasn’t, right? They were friends. Or did Dimitri not think they were anymore? Sylvain was so bad at keeping up with Dimitri, he felt like he wasn’t welcome, but that was his anxieties and not Dimitri’s actions, oh goddess, did Dimitri even know Sylvain still cared about him? What the fuck had Sylvain—

The glint of silver cutting through the night was Sylvain’s only warning before he had the sharp blade of a lance pressed to his pale neck. He froze, staring into the wild look in Dimitri’s eyes that quickly died into mortification, the prince stumbling back with a panicked expression. “Sylvain,” Dimitri said in a gust of air, looking a little shaken. “I could have— why did you sneak up on me?”

“I-I didn’t want to surprise you,” Sylvain said, only just now realizing his hands were in the air in a show of surrender, heart racing in his chest. Holy fuck, Dimitri could’ve killed him. Why had Sylvain thought creeping up on the prince in the middle of the night with a psycho on the loose kidnapping people would be a good idea? For all of Felix’s cruelties, Dimitri was coldblooded when it came to battle, oh goddess, Sylvain could’ve just died if Dimitri weren’t more careful. And then Sylvain’s entire plan—

“You have to be more careful,” Dimitri was saying as Sylvain suddenly remembered why he was out here nearly dying. “Sylvain, these rumors cannot be ignored, Flayn is still missing and the Archbishop is keeping a strict curfew and what on earth are you doing?”

What Sylvain was doing was striding forward, backing Dimitri up against the railing the overlooked plummeting cliffs before, and sinking to his knees with as much fluid grace as he could manage. “Returning the favor,” he murmured as Dimitri fell into silence, at an obvious loss for words, as Sylvain’s nimble fingers undid the clasps of Dimitri’s trousers and he pulled the prince’s cock out of his clothes. There was a hiss above him, likely Dimitri reacting to the cold suddenly touching such a sensitive area. Sylvain thought back to the days when they’d been kids, uncaring of nudity and running out to play in the rivers in the warmer days of Faerghus. Back when Felix had been carefree and Dimitri could sleep a full night without pause. Back before it had all gone to hell.

The melancholy wasn’t allowed with him now, so as Dimitri finally got his words back and tried to say something, Sylvain leaned in and took Dimitri’s cock down his throat without pretense, feeling an inexplicable rush at the taste of Dimitri on his tongue and the gasp that filled the quiet night, long, cold fingers knotting themselves in Sylvain’s hair. He slid his tongue along Dimitri’s length, feeling the young prince harden as Sylvain stroked the base and lapped gently at the head. “Sylvain,” Dimitri whispered, voice already strained. “You can’t— goddess, wait—”

Sylvain ignored him, knowing the difference between someone being too stuck on their moral rigidity as a nobleman or woman and actually wanting things to stop. He sealed his lips around the head and sunk down the shaft once Dimitri was fulled aroused and willing, Sylvain relaxing his throat and taking Dimitri all the way down.

It wasn’t a hard thing to do— Sylvain had sucked cock more than he was proud to admit. He enjoyed it, enjoyed the danger of being caught in such a sordid act, enjoyed the submissiveness that came with having someone force him to take their cock, he loved being used like this even if it made him sick with guilt and self-disgust. He expected much of the same right now, on his knees for his prince, and yet couldn’t bring any of it to the forefront. All he could think about were the noises Dimitri made and the way he was stroking Sylvain’s scalp with shaking fingers, the prince keeping his strength in check with such care that Sylvain felt a horrible sensation of affectionate gratitude wash over him, unwelcome.

“Seiros,” Dimitri whimpered as Sylvain swallowed around him and bobbed his head. “I’m not— Sylvain, please—”

Sylvain could feel it already, the tremble in Dimitri’s thighs, the swell of his cock, Dimitri’s desire coating his tongue. He tasted just like any other man Sylvain had sucked off, and yet it felt so different that it scared Sylvain. He wasn’t being used or subjugated or belittled, he wasn’t be submissive in any way. Even though Sylvain was on his knees, he was the one in charge, bringing his prince pleasure and fighting to ignore how much the weight of Dimitri’s cock turned him on. There was no thrill in the possibility of being caught and no joy in being turned into something lower than his status. All he could think about was Dimitri. All he wanted to think about was Dimitri. And it was horrifying.

“Sylvain!”

Dimitri’s cry was Sylvain’s only warning before Dimitri came down his throat, hips stuttering in a way that could only be described as adorable as Sylvain sucked hard, milking Dimitri for every last drop. The taste was the same as before and yet Sylvain couldn’t get enough of it, wishing Dimitri would pin him down and fill him with his cum until Sylvain was full of it, full of Dimitri, and wrecked by him. A pinprick of agony tugged at Sylvain’s chest, but he shoved it down and insisted he could keep ignoring it as he sucked Dimitri past the orgasm, reveling in the writhe of Dimitri’s body. Dimitri started to whisper a babbling stream, begging, and Sylvain pulled off Dimitri’s throbbing, softening cock, knowing he’d tortured Dimitri with the oversensitivity. He sat back on his haunches, gasping a little, and stared at the mess he’d made of Dimitri’s perfect cock, the member glistening with spit and smeared with what little excess cum Sylvain hadn’t managed to swallow, red tipped and gorgeous.

Sylvain wanted that inside him so badly that it felt like he would die if he didn’t get what he wanted.

“Oh,” Dimitri said softly. Sylvain looked up, eyes wide, wondering what the problem was. Dimitri was flushed a deep red down to his neck, embarrassment and arousal both claiming his pale skin. Dimitri wet his lips, looking incredibly off center. “You’re right,” he said. “I should get some rest.”

Then, just like that, Dimitri tucked his cock back into his trousers and marched away, angling his head down so his bangs would hide his eyes. Sylvain was left there, on his knees, cock throbbing in his pants and wondering just what the fuck that even meant. Even worse, he still didn’t feel used— he felt happy.

“Oh Seiros,” he whispered to himself, the taste of Dimitri still on his tongue and the overwhelming desire to do this again warring for the forefront of his mind. “What have I done?” He needed to talk to someone smarter than him before he ruined everything for good, because he knew now, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this couldn’t be the end of favors. Not with the sounds of Dimitri’s orgasm and pleasure echoing in his ears.

. . .

“Ashe!” Sylvain grinned wide at the smaller boy as he approached, keeping his hands loose at his sides so it was obvious he meant no harm. “Just the man I wanted to see! Could I beg a moment of your time, oh knightly-ness?”

Ashe narrowed his eyes in suspicion at Sylvain, which was fair. “What do you want?” Also fair. Sylvain wasn’t exactly well liked among his classmates for his lack of seriousness and his tendency to butter people up before asking for a favor. At this point, though, Sylvain was opening with needing help. At least no one could call him underhanded at this point. Sylvain made it a point to never be underhanded when it came to Dimitri.

“I need some advice,” Sylvain said, leaning against the wall of the greenhouse, watching Ashe weed the small spot of Duscur flowers. Dedue had been putting a lot of love into these flowers, the right ratio of water and sunlight, and it showed. The flowers were blossoming gorgeously and Sylvain found himself breathing in deep the aroma that was foreign, yet somehow distantly familiar. The scent reminded him of Dedue and he couldn’t help but smile. He was sure it was the same for Ashe. “I have a dilemma.”

“Are you sure I’m the right person to be asking?” Ashe looked skeptical. “I don’t have the same amount of experience as you when it comes to getting out of trouble.”

“What makes you think I’m in trouble?” Sylvain asked with an obvious pout. “I’m just asking about something that involves a lot of— rules. Knight rules.” Not really knight rules, but close enough. “How do you court?”

“You’re the noble,” Ashe said. “Shouldn’t you know?”

Hardly. Miklan’s abuse and the battles with the Sreng region had kept Sylvain from learning quite a few things that were meant for more peaceful times. Then there was the issue of any possible marriage being political and his father more interested in a dowry than Sylvain actually being interested in someone. So no, Sylvain didn’t know a damn thing about courting beyond what he saw Ingrid go through— countless letters and endless headaches. “Just humor me,” he pressed. “Say I have someone I’ve had a little fun with and I want the fun to keep going. What’s the correct way to do this with nobility?” It would probably be different for a king compared to a knight, but close enough would have to do. There weren’t many princes in this academy for Ashe to guess between and no way in hell did Sylvain want Ashe suspecting Sylvain had a crush on Edelgard the Ice Empress.

“You want someone to keep interest in you?” Ashe looked surprised. “In an official way?” Ashe narrowed his eyes again. “How much money do they have?”

Sylvain clutched at his chest and ignored the way it genuinely hurt so he could say, “That stings, my friend,” allowing his genuine feelings to be stated because he knew no-one would believe them to be true. “Just give me a little help,” he begged, not at all above it. “I’m at a loss.”

Ashe huffed. “Well, the way knights would officially court a woman would be to give their full dedication to her and only her. Follow every order she gives, give her everything you have, bring her gifts and shower her with adoration, and not let your eye stray to anyone else.” He looked pointedly to Sylvain. “Are you sure you can do that?”

For any of the men or women Sylvain had been with in the past? No fucking way. For Dimitri? Absolutely. And Sylvain hated it. “I think I can manage,” he said, voice damningly hoarse, suddenly unable to meet Ashe’s eyes. Especially when Ashe looked a little stunned to hear Sylvain admit that.

“Who is she?” Ashe asked. When Sylvain didn’t answer, Ashe hesitated, before adding, “Or him.”

Sylvain flinched, remembering the look Felix had given him yesterday. “It doesn’t matter,” he said, forcing a smile. “It won’t work, but I have to try anyways.” He bowed, hoping Ashe took it as sincere. “Thank you for your time, Ashe. Have a good evening.”

He left before Ashe could read him too closely. Sylvain ran through plans in his mind and wondered if a knightly courtship would be obvious enough for Dimitri to even notice. What was the point in trying when it would only end in rejection? Why would Sylvain willingly allow himself to be hurt?

He paused as he walked to his dorm and remembered the sensation of Dimitri’s hands carding gently through his hair despite having Sylvain at his mercy. Dimitri had been given Sylvain’s submission and he returned it with care. That was why Sylvain was going to do this. Because he didn’t know if he’d ever get the chance to be with someone who actually cared about him in any capacity. It was suicide, but he wouldn’t let this slip through his fingers. That was it.

Sylvain stood tall and clenched his jaw, readying himself to bare his heart and pray Dimitri crushed it quickly.

. . .

“Everyone knows Sylvain doesn’t know what love is,” Ingrid had said coldly while the Blue Lions house ate together, a rare moment of everyone being with everyone, even Professor Byleth present. Sylvain couldn’t remember how they’d gotten to the topic at hand, but goddess knew he wished it had gone somewhere else. “All he does is use women and say he loves them. He’s never actually loved anyone in his life.” She had stared him down over her nose and Sylvain had gotten the sickening feeling she was referring to Glenn. “Unless you want to call me a liar?”

Sylvain had left the table immediately after Ingrid had said that, had left the dining hall in a rush because even his most lighthearted laughing act couldn’t cover up the pain he wanted to keep from his eyes. Everyone had witnessed Ingrid tear his psyche in two with her cutting words and Sylvain wasn’t even the type of person who was allowed to care, let alone fight back or argue. Sylvain had left just as Professor Byleth had begun to open their pretty little mouth, maybe to admonish, maybe to agree, Sylvain didn’t know and he didn’t want to know. The way Dimitri had been staring at Sylvain as he digested Ingrid’s words couldn’t be soothed by anyone coming to defend Sylvain. So much for baring his heart to his prince. Dimitri wouldn’t want to be anywhere near him and whatever that was happening between them was done. Dimitri wasn’t the kind of person who could stomach empty sex. All Sylvain was was empty.

It wasn’t fair, though. Sylvain hadn’t asked for the crest and he hadn’t asked for the countless women throwing themselves at his feet, hoping to be impregnated and given elite status. Didn’t the people of Fodlan realize that the kingdom of Faerghus was cold and unforgiving and barren? Prosperous at one time, maybe, and would be again once Dimitri was king, but it wasn’t the kind of place to shackle oneself into a loveless marriage. Why couldn’t these people leave Sylvain alone?

Because he asked for it. That was why. Carrying himself a certain way, flirting like it was breathing, accepting advances even if he wanted nothing more than to cut off any wayward hand that touched him without permission. It wasn’t fair but it was his fault. And that meant Sylvain was to blame for ruining this, this thing with Dimitri. Whatever it was. Entertainment? Convenience? Maybe an attempt to placate and control him? Why? Just why would Dimitri do this? Why would he lower himself to Sylvain’s level, why would he do something so disgusting as touch him—

Sylvain cut off that train of thought before he ended up thinking the usual awful things about himself he tried to avoid. Self deprecation was healthy until it wasn’t. He looked around, taking in his surroundings, and grimaced. The water of the lake lapped gently at the dock, the world quiet as the monastery winded down, a low murmur coming from the market where people were closing their shops for the night. Sylvain sighed, letting the air gush from his lungs, and leaned his right side against the fishing shack, shutting his eyes and tilting his head back to let the cold breeze chill his skin and center his thoughts.

He let himself take a moment to rest like that, just breathing carefully and not letting anything enter his thoughts other than the gentle sounds of the wind on stone and the waters below. The dock creaked and there was the occasional splash of a fish fin. Sylvain had never really cared about fishing. Glenn had. In a practical way, of course, god forbid a son of Fraldarius ever have a hobby that was purely for enjoyment, but Glenn had taught Sylvain a few things back when Dimitri and Felix had been too young to really understand mechanics. The memory was bittersweet and stung like acid. Ingrid really thought Sylvain couldn’t give a shit about anyone, didn’t she? And she said Sylvain was the cold one.

A hand suddenly touched his own and Sylvain jumped a foot in the air with an unattractive shriek, his eyes wide and his heart pounding as he saw Dimitri flinch away from the noise and violent reaction. “Your highness!” Sylvain gasped, laying a hand across his chest. “Goddess! Do that again and Ingrid will get to see me in that early grave she dug for me!” He instantly smoothed his fear with a smile, pulling on the mask and feeling exhausted for it. “If you’re going to kill me as a present for her, maybe you should make it happen a little closer to her birthday, don’t you think?”

Dimitri didn’t appreciate the joke. His expression went from startled and apologetic to absolutely agonized in the span of a blink and Sylvain wondered when exactly he had failed so badly as Dimitri’s friend that he couldn’t even predict Dimitri’s moods and reactions anymore. After the loss of the king, the Tragedy of Duscur, Dimitri being kept with Rodrigue, and then those two years before the monastery that Dimitri literally never spoke about to anyone— how had Sylvain let himself fall so far away from the boy he’d sworn he’d always be at the side of?

“Sylvain,” Dimitri said, reaching out for Sylvain’s hand, who distantly realized that Dimitri had been going for his hand when he’d been startled. Why Sylvain’s hand? Why not his shoulder? Why had Dimitri come after him at all? The prince had been enjoying the rare camaraderie that hadn’t been weighed down by propriety and labels concerning his future crown. Why would Dimitri abandon that rare warmth and kinship for Sylvain’s sorry state? “Sylvain.”

Sylvain blinked slowly when he realized Dimitri was now holding his hand and staring into him with such earnest concern that Sylvain was sure his heart would stop. “Why?” he asked softly before he could think twice. “Why are you out here?” Why wasn’t Dimitri avoiding him out of disdain? Why was Dimitri giving up his time for a heartless fuck up of a disaster like Sylvain?

Dimitri bit his lip and squeezes Sylvan’s hand. “You’re upset,” he said softly. “She hurt you and I couldn’t speak. So I came to do this.”

Dimitri leaned in and Sylvain almost thought Dimitri was going to kiss him. Then Dimitri was down on his knees again, looking up at Sylvain with those gorgeous, endless eyes, and Sylvain couldn’t take it, not when Dimitri’s hands went to his trousers with something like familiarity. “Don’t,” he choked out, stopping Dimitri with his own hands. “On your knees— Goddess, that’s beneath you, I’m beneath you. You shouldn’t be down there, not for me, not for anyone. Especially not for me.”

Dimitri frowned up at him, the expression oddly adorable despite the twisting pain in Sylvain’s chest. “And if I want to be here? Do I not have a say in my own decisions? My choices? Am I to be controlled by my lineage in every damn way?” Dimitri’s frown morphed into a scowl and Sylvain didn’t know what to do. “Am I really just a slave to a dead king and queen who didn’t ask me if I wanted to be born at all?”

Sylvain’s eyes were huge. “That— is a lot more than I meant to say.” And Dimitri had said a lot more than Sylvain could unpack. Why was he making everyone so upset? Out of everything he could exceed at, why that? “Dimitri. I’m sorry.”

Dimitri’s scowl quickly died, shame overtaking, his sense of duty and the weight of that crown drowning his will to fight. Sylvain hated the shackles Dimitri wore, but he knew he could never free Dimitri from them. No one could. “Let me do this,” Dimitri begged. “Let me make my own decision.”

Goddess. Even if Sylvain couldn’t free Dimitri, he could let Dimitri make a huge mistake and belittle himself for Sylvain’s pleasure. Sylvain would shoulder the guilty for Dimitri. He’d do anything for Dimitri because— because Dimitri would do anything for him. Reason number thirteen. Sylvain nodded with a hard swallow, still wondering why, but too afraid of hurting Dimitri again to ask. “Okay,” he whispered, daring to push his fingers into that gorgeous blond hair that was impossibly smooth to the touch. “Okay— do with me what you will.”

Dimitri made a face, obvious not liking the wording, but didn’t pause again as he undid Sylvain’s trousers and pulled his cock free. Sylvain got a taste of his own medicine as his sensitive member was exposed to the cruel chill of the night. “Oh geez,” he wheezed. “I-I hope you remember the real size from last time. What you’re seeing now isn’t an accurate representation.”

Dimitri looked up at Sylvain with what could only be described as fond exasperation and then kissed the tip of Sylvain’s cock. “It’s perfect,” he murmured, breath ghosting the shaft, making Sylvain’s knees weak. “You’re perfect, Sylvain.”

The pinpricks of tears that suddenly came to Sylvain’s eyes as Dimitri sunk down on his cock were nothing short of humiliating, and yet Sylvain couldn’t bring himself to hate himself any more than he normally would because even now, despite everything, despite Ingrid’s words and Sylvain’s negligence and his imperfections, Dimitri accepted him. Sylvain didn’t know why. Maybe he should stop asking. Maybe he should stop thinking. Maybe he should trust his king.

Sylvain choked on a sob as he tilted his head back and squeezed his eyes shut, willing the tears away and praying Dimitri didn’t see them even though, for once, they were nothing but tears of overwhelming joy at the acceptance he was being given by the man whose opinion mattered to him the most. Dimitri moaned softly around his cock and Sylvain gasped loudly, letting himself enjoy this while it lasted and praying Dimitri would let him have this again.

. . .

“You disappeared.”

Felix’s voice wasn’t exactly welcome, but Sylvain wasn’t about to let himself begrudge his friends actually caring enough about him to notice when he was and was not about. Though there was the distinct possibility Sylvain’s abrupt absconding from dinner last night had been a little more dramatic than he’d intended. Sylvain was currently doing another long patrol through the entire monastery in search of any clues for Flayn and his thoughts were frazzled and exhausted, making the prospect of a conversation with his abrasive swordsman of a friend a little daunting. He winced and tried to quickly think of an excuse when Felix added, “So did Dimitri.”

“Did he?” Sylvain asked, seeing a chance and taking it. “I wonder why he’d leave. Did he have something to do? Someone to meet?” He looked to Felix and hoped his curiosity would come off as innocent enough and not damningly insincere. He knew exactly where Dimitri had been. He just didn’t want Felix to know he knew.

“Your guess is as good as mine,” Felix huffed. “Not like I actually care what the boar gets up to anyways. Probably stepping on some small animal and pretending he’s sorry.”

Sylvain looked to Felix in abject horror. “You get on him all you want for what he’s been through, you’re the one coming up with these disturbing scenarios.”

Felix smirked at him. Sylvain shuddered and turned ahead. “It’s not like it matters,” Sylvain lied. “Maybe he had to leave the monastery for a bit. He is the future king, after all. I’ll bet Gilbert is hounding him left and right.”

“If only that man gave his daughter the same attention he gives Dimitri.”

“It’s not Dimitri’s fault when people choose to do these things.”

Felix scowled. “If you’re upset about something or someone, just say it.”

Goddess, Sylvain really hated how Felix was able to read him. He looked away with a grimace, mindful of others listening in, and lowered his voice. “I think I’m in trouble.”

“Again?”

“I’m being serious.”

Felix looked to him cooly. “So am I.”

“I think I’m falling in love with someone I shouldn’t be in love with.” That was half the truth. Sylvain had been in love with Dimitri to some extent for many, many years, enamored by the gentleness in Dimitri’s eyes and left in awe of his strength and courage, and Sylvain had seventy-seven reasons why he loved his prince. Sylvain was dangerously in love and he was gambling his sanity by allowing Dimitri to touch him like he suddenly was. “There’s this— thing. Going on. Between me and this person. I can’t afford to care about them but we don’t really talk about what we do. I don’t know why they’re coming to me but I don’t want them to stop. And I can’t make them stop.” He looked down at his boots, saw a scuff mark and reminded himself to clean them later. “I’m trapped and I don’t want to escape but I know I should. I shouldn’t be letting them do this. I shouldn’t be so selfish.”

The scuff on his boot was suddenly joined by another as Felix kicked his foot harshly, sending Sylvain into overdramatic wails of faux-pain as he hopped on one foot and looked to Felix with betrayal. “Why does everyone love hurting me?!” he whined as he clumsily cradled his foot to his chest. “I came to you expecting help and instead you wound me!”

“Stop talking about yourself as if you’re lower than dirt,” Felix snapped. “No one’s going to love a man that can’t appreciate his own worth. And if this person is initiating and you’re fine with it, then what’s the problem?”

The problem was that Sylvain was receiving blowjobs from the crowned prince and Sylvain didn’t have a big enough bosom and the lower region to be a fertile queen. Whatever this was between him and Dimitri was hopeless. And that only confused Sylvain even more. “Because I don’t know why this is happening at all!” Sylvain huffed in frustration as he lowered his foot to run his hand through his hair. “I can’t tell you who it is, but trust me when I say I shouldn’t be with them for a multitude of reasons.”

Felix rolled his eyes. “Give me a comparison.”

Well, last time Sylvain had told the truth— “Dimitri’s status.”

Felix gaped at him. “You’re in bed with royalty? Who? Edelgard?”

“If it were Edelgard, I wouldn’t be as confused,” Sylvain said. “If it were Edelgard, at least I’d know the Imperial line would remain intact.”

Felix guffawed. “It’s a man?”

“There’s nothing wrong with me being with a man,” Sylvain defended, cutting his gaze away. “If you remember, there were rumors concerning the late King Lambert and your father—”

“I don’t care what you fuck, I care that you’re getting involved with a male member of royal lineage, talking about love when you can’t make an heir.” Felix looked away, shaking his head. “It’s Claude, isn’t it?”

Oh goddess, Sylvain was weirdly flattered Felix thought Sylvain could be good enough to get a piece of the Alliance Lord. “I just said I won’t tell you,” Sylvain sighed. “But that’s the scenario, regardless of who it is.”

“Then end it.”

Sylvain’s head whipped to Felix, stunned he would suggest that. Felix, though, shrugged. “If you’re no longer consenting, then whoever this is would be a bastard to push you. There’s no future with this person even though you say you’re falling for them. If they’re using you for sex, then that’s just as terrible.”

Sylvain wet his lips and dared to ask, “And if he has feelings for me too?”

Felix looked to Sylvain with something like pity. “That’s not the scenario we’re discussing.”

Sylvain nodded as he looked away. “… It’s my turn to make the move, so I won’t. If it happens, if he pursues me for a night, then I’ll say no. Unless he tells me why he’s doing this, then there’s no reason for it to continue at all.” He swallowed down the hurt at his own words and promised himself he wouldn’t cave. Dimitri deserved better than him. “Thanks, Felix. I can always trust you to send me down the right path.”

“You’re a sex addict and I wish we lived on different floors.”

“I love you too, Felix.”

. . .

After the high of winning the battle of the Eagle and the Lion came the plummeting low of what became of Remire village. The haunting memory of the twisted faces of poisoned villagers and the spray of blood as friends and families tore each other apart under the influence of something truly evil. Sylvain shuddered to close his eyes and see it all again, but he knew who was so much worse off out of all of them.

Dimitri hadn’t eaten since Remire village. And that had been two days ago.

It wasn’t surprising, though Sylvain hated it regardless. He remembered Dimitri whispering to himself, saying the faces of the demented villagers were familiar, the young prince flinching and gasping in pain at something torturing him in his own thoughts. Sylvain knew just as well as Felix that the Dimitri they knew now was a different person from the boy they’d grown up with, but Sylvain felt like Dimitri was fighting valiantly to maintain his old ways while Felix just saw a monster. It was why, when Dimitri suddenly choked on a noise of agony, Sylvain became overwhelmed with a desire to reach out and cradled Dimitri to his chest in his arms while Felix had only looked away with a scowl. Dimitri had insisted he was fine. Everyone had been able to see, clear as day, that Dimitri hadn’t been and was not fine.

Two days. Two whole days without food, without rest, without so much as a moment of pause. Dimitri lived between Sylvain and Felix, who both knew Dimitri hadn’t been in his room at all these past forty-eight hours. Sylvain was terrified and the final happening that broke Sylvain’s resolve was the lost look in Dedue’s eyes when Sylvain had asked the young vassal were Dimitri was and Dedue had only shaken his head in defeat.

Now Sylvain was jogging down the halls, peering into rooms he wasn’t allowed in and searching between desks and trees, desperate. Dedue and Ashe and Annette were also helping the search, but would they really be able to find Dimitri if Dimitri truly didn’t want to be found? He was fast, smart, almost as cunning as Claude. If Dimitri wanted to be lost forever, he’d find a way.

Sylvain thought of how he’d neglected Dimitri these past two months, his own failure to reciprocate whatever they’d been doing, and cursed himself. Had Dimitri been that invested and Sylvain’s sudden rejection make his fragile mind even worse? Or had Dimitri been angered and was isolating himself to keep from lashing out? Sylvain had barely spoken to Dimitri after his conversation with Felix because it had seemed like the right thing to do. Now, Sylvain wasn’t so sure.

He passed Annette in the hall of the upper level of the monastery where the professor rooms were and tried to smile reassuringly at her pale, panicked expression. The poor thing was practically running the halls at this point. “I still haven’t found him,” she blurted out, which didn’t surprise Sylvain.

“Okay,” he said with a patient nod. “Go check out the dorms again and I’ll look in the library and the knight’s quarters.” Annette nodded, taking the direction with gratitude, and scampered off with her skirt bouncing with every step. Sylvain grimaced and turned to face forward again, wondering just how bad things were going to get until they got better. Even Sylvain was suffering from the memories of Remire Village. Ashe was sleeping fitfully and Mercedes smiled less. They’d all been given a sharp dose of a painful reality that day, their first one. The hardest thing for Sylvain to stomach was that Dimitri wasn’t getting a first dose— he was getting a brutal reminder of something he already knew and lived with.

The thought put a new burst of energy into Sylvain’s steps and he rounded a corner to the left, heading for the knight’s quarters and grimacing when he found no one. He hadn’t expected Dimitri to be here, but it still settled badly in his gut to fail again. Sylvain’s eyes went to the door that was to his left— the war room he’d never entered. There was no way. Dimitri couldn’t be…

Sylvain went to the door he’d never opened before and pushed it gently inward, feeling even worse to find it unlocked and the air coming from the room cold. He peered inside and felt a sickening mixture of relief and anxiety when he saw blue and black and gold, Dimitri sitting at the head of the table, facing the windows, his head in his hands and mouth flying a mile a minute as he whispered furtively to himself.

Sylvain crept into the room, scared to make a noise and startle the prince. “Dimitri?” he called out anyways, wincing as Dimitri jumped in his seat and whipped about to stare at Sylvain in genuine terror. “Dimitri,” Sylvain breathed, falling into the room, unable to keep pretense or manners when witnessing Dimitri’s fear. Dimitri’s eyes tracked his movement across the room like a wild animal, caged and trembling, as Sylvain hurriedly moved to his side. “Dimitri, we’ve been looking everywhere for you.”

“Father—”

“It was a single word from the prince, but enough to send Sylvain screeching to a halt. The word hung in the air between them, stifling like poisonous fumes, and Sylvain felt like he couldn’t breathe. He forced himself to take a breath anyways, and started moving towards Dimitri again, this time slower, more careful. “Did what happen in Remire village happen to your father?” Sylvain asked cautiously. “Did you see this before? Back then?”

Dimitri stared into him— through him. Sylvain didn’t know where Dimitri was, but it wasn’t here with him. “It’s okay,” he assured his prince, dropping to his knees in front of him. He laid his hands atop Dimitri’s and felt oddly like he was doing something sinful, even as Dimitri’s shaking fingers curled around his own and held tight. “I’m here,” Sylvain told Dimitri. “I won’t let anything happen to you.”

“Glenn wants me to kill them,” Dimitri whispered, eyes wide and haunted. “The soldiers— the fire— Sylvain—”

Sylvain didn’t know what the hell was going on in Dimitri’s head, but hearing his name told him his prince was still in there despite the terror. “I’m not going anywhere,” he promised as he squeezed Dimitri’s hands and willed some of his warmth into the other man. It took him a long moment to realize that Dimitri’s hands were missing their usual cover, the leather gloves out of sight and out of mind. Sylvain stared at Dimitri’s long, nimble digits, entranced by the sight in an embarrassing way. Since he was the worst person ever, Sylvain thought about those pale fingers wrapped around his own hot, flushed cock and the near-artistic contrast it would behold, reason number forty. Sylvain’s breath caught and he tore his gaze away from Dimitri’s hands to look up and into Dimitri’s face.

Dimitri was suddenly seeing him, unlike before. His brow was pinched and his eyes were shimmering. “You’ve been avoiding me,” he whispered. “Did I do something wrong? Do you agree with Felix?

Sylvain flinched at the question, horrified by the implications. Everyone knew Felix saw Dimitri as less than human, animal and revolting. Sylvain knew Dimitri struggled with his psyche, but goddess, he would never agree with the way Felix treated the young man. “No,” he breathed in reverent denial. “Never, Dimitri. He’s wrong. You’re not a monster.”

“But I am.” Dimitri’s gaze suddenly went far away again and Sylvain wanted to plead for him to stay here with him. “I’m a monster,” Dimitri whispered, almost to himself. “A monster. A monster.”

Sylvain couldn’t take it. He was bad at this, bad at people, bad at trauma because he couldn’t even face his own. He was bad at comfort and being a shoulder to cry on and he was bad at sympathy and empathy because he struggled to look past his own suffering and see the suffering of others. He was bad at everything that mattered, really, and good at only one thing. And if Dimitri thought Sylvain was avoiding him— which he had been— then Sylvain only knew one way to remedy his own mistakes. How this had all started.

Sylvain pulled his hands from Dimitir’s and went for the fly of his pants, undoing the buttons and swaying forward off his haunches and onto his knees, pressing his open mouth to the front of Dimitri’s trousers. The blond didn’t make a sound at first, hands going into the air and away from Sylvain like he was scared to touch him. Then he spoke, voice shaking, saying, “W-wait, the blood—”

Sylvain didn’t know what blood could be on Dimitri, especially down here, but he didn’t care. He knew of the bloodlust that had ravaged Dimitri just over two years ago and had accepted that side of his prince long ago. As Margrave Gautier, the blood that would be on Dimitri’s hands would be on Sylvain’s as well, and he had always been a sucker for couples with matching outfits.

“I don’t care,” he said, not denying the existence of blood, not questioning Dimitri’s wavering sanity, only assuring him of one thing: Sylvain would be here for his king, always and forever, until the day he died screaming and afraid. “I don’t care,” he promised Dimitri as he pulled the man’s cock from his pants and pressed a kiss to the underside, looking up at Dimitri with an agonized expression because Dimitri didn’t deserve to carry the weight of the world on his trembling shoulders no matter the ability of his crest. “I want you, Dima,” he murmured, feeling a shudder lace through Dimitri at the long-forgotten nickname. “May I?”

Dimitri’s hands clenched in the air like he was grasping for something before he nodded. Then those gorgeous, graceful fingers knotted themselves in Sylvain’s hair, holding on tight. “I’m sorry,” Dimitri whispered.

Sylvain shut his eyes against the pain in his chest, knowing what Dimitri meant and hating it. “You have nothing to apologize for— you were right, I was avoiding you. I was wrong to do it. Let me make it right.”

Dimitri nodded, legs trembling beneath Sylvain and Sylvain pressed forward, kissing the head of that gorgeous cock and praying he could use the only damn thing he’d ever been good at to give Dimitri some sort of peace.

. . .

“The professor enlisted me as the dancer,” Felix griped a few days later, sitting beneath a tree without his books as the rest of the class of the Blue Lions sat around him, all of them studying, or trying. It was hard to study when Felix, for once, was being talkative enough to distract. Sylvain didn’t blame him, really. Felix was literally the second-to-last person he’d expected to be the dancing representative for their class. “I can’t beat Dorothea!” Felix huffed, arms in the air. “How am I supposed to win at something that’s been too pointless for me to bother practicing, ever? The House Fraldarius doesn’t dance!”

“Duke Rodrigue is actually quite light on his feet,” Dimitri cut in, trying to be helpful, much to Sylvain’s aching heart. Ever since that night in the war room, it was like nothing had ever happened to the blond. Most people were relieved— all Sylvain could see was the carefully structured wall Dimitri had built to keep anyone from seeing him break again. “He’s a skilled dancer. He taught my father and got him through many ceremonies.”

Felix glared into Dimitri with the sharpness of a dagger and Dimitri wilted in front of everyone’s eyes. Dedue, to his credit, didn’t offer to strike Felix down where he stood for being such an asshole. Part of Sylvain wished Dedue had offered anyways.

“Did I hear that correctly?” came a haughty voice from behind Mercedes, who had been carefully folding the corners of the pages of her book, glancing to Dedue’s own book to ensure she had the right pages saved. Sylvain swallowed down a noise of utter disdain and pulled on a smile, beaming up at Lorenz Hellman Gloucester, in the flesh and as grating to the eardrums as always. “A nobleman that doesn’t know a simple waltz?”

“I’ll be a duke,” Felix replied dully.

“A noble regardless of title!” Lorenz brayed, throwing a hand in the air like it meant something. “Thank the goddess us sane folk were wise enough to break away from the Holy Kingdom of Faerghus while we could, otherwise we’d still be a bunch of left-footed useless ruffians like you lot!”

“My, Lorenz, with words like those it’s obvious you’ve been spending time in the library,” Mercedes admired in her soft voice. Annette’s eyes widened at the backhanded compliment, but Lorenz was too busy preening his own feathers to really understand.

“A nobleman does well to know one’s vocaulary,” he boasted. “As well as knowing one’s abilities and duties! A nobleman— and woman!— must be able to show the utmost care and attention to detail with grace and sensibility! A dance is a common act of breaking boundaries between regions, such as the Prince and the young future-Empress must share at least one dance at the ball to keep up appearances! And perhaps a dance with his Alliance Lord Riegan as well, if anyone can stomach the sight of him.”

“Perhaps a nobleman such as yourself would be wise enough not to insult your own commander in front of his allies,” Sylvain warned, seeing the pinch in Dimitri’s brow and knowing the blond man wanted to speak up but simply couldn’t. Sylvain, on the other hand, didn’t give a shit about expectations of his stature. Lorenz was a prick and Claude didn’t deserve this shit. “I can assure you, in the future, the king of Faerghus will be working with Lord Riegan, not you.”

Lorenz sniffed and turned away from Sylvain, his nose pointed up in the air in disgust. “As if you would know what goes on in regional dealings. House Gloucester is a vital asset to any intended peace summit. Lord Riegan would be forfeiting the support of the other lords should he leave me out of negotiations.”

“I have a feeling politics tend to get a little dirtier than your fine-tuned appearance,” Sylvain hummed, melting his voice over like butter so it was saccharin sweet and as condescending as he could muster. “We wouldn’t want to ruin your perfectly styled hair with something as barbaric and nasty as trade negotiations and dealings with the Almyrans, now would we? No, House Gloucester is better off staying tucked away in its primly little castle, never so much as picking up a quill, let alone a weapon.”

Lorenz turned a sharp eye to Sylvain, who didn’t even flinch.

“Friends,” Dimitri tried to cut in, looking warily between them. “Perhaps we should return to our studies before we risk failing our certification exams. We wouldn’t want to disappoint the professor, now would we?”

“I suppose you know just as much as there is to know about dirty things,” Lorenz said to Sylvain, completely ignoring Dimitri, which earned him several glares from various members of the Blue Lions. “You’re probably the most disgusting person in this entire monastery— both in and out of your dorm.”

Part of Sylvain recoiled at the blatant jab at his privacy. Everyone knew Sylvain slept around, everyone knew he had the self worth of a dead cat, everyone knew he was trying to kill himself slowly in the arms of others. Felix would often get annoyed, Ingrid called him disrespectful, but no one dared to call him disgusting because they all knew Sylvain knew he was. So to hear it out loud, spoken in a way that was meant to cut deep—

“This conversation is over,” Dimitri said suddenly, closing his book and standing, moving in between Sylvain and Lorenz to block line of sight. “Your presence is always appreciated, House Gloucester, but I must ask you leave as you’re causing a disturbance amongst my peers and I am choosing to prioritize their studies above all else.”

“So you’re defending the man that belittles himself and humiliates his house simply for a good time?” Now Lorenz was turning his nose up at Dimitri, and that was something Sylvain wasn’t going to stand for. “I never would have expected the son of King Lambert would be such a weak minded, useless little—”

“Just because I like things a little messy with my lovers doesn’t mean I can’t hand your flat ass to you in a fight with my eyes shut,” Sylvain growled as Lorenz crossed that line, pushing between Dimitri and Lorenz to stare the prick down, eyes flashing and teeth bared, daring Lorenz to lose his perfect stature and lose it. “You can’t even afford to get your partner off because you wouldn’t want to mar your flawless complexion. Goddess forbid you even risk a mark or two left behind— anything for appearances, right?” Lorenz was stunned into silence by the language, and Sylvain smirked. “Look at that virgin’s blush— I’ll bet you’ve never even kissed a girl. How will you carry on House Gloucester with the perfect heir if you can’t even get your hand under a skirt?”

Sylvain’s head suddenly whipped to the side with a loud noise, and he distantly realized Lorenz had slapped him. Immediately, Felix was on his feet and going for Lorenz’s throat, Ingrid just barely keeping Felix from pulling his sword out. Ashe and Annette were shouting something about honor and saving face while Lorenz shrank from sight, Dedue casting a shadow across the man. Sylvain stumbled a little and suddenly noticed his feet were moving, hands holding him and pulling him away, the air smelling of soap and flowers, blond hair ghosting Sylvain’s cheek.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” Dimitri was whispering furtively as he brought Sylvain out of the courtyard and into the quiet cold of their classroom. “I should have intervened sooner, I shouldn’t have let him—”

“Did that bitch actually slap me?” Sylvain asked, wanting to stop Dimitri’s slew of apologies and address what really mattered. “What kind of man slaps someone? Slaps anyone? If you’re going to land a hit, make it matter for goddess’s sake.”

Dimitri stared at him, his expression just bleeding agonized concern, and all Sylvain could do was start to laugh. Lorenz had slapped him. “Goddess, what a disaster!” he cried out between peals of laughter, hanging his head in his hands and ignoring the sting of his cheek. “Dimitri— you cannot deny that this is the most ridiculous thing we’ve ever done!”

Dimitri stood in silent disbelief. Then, “I’d argue the time you tried to convince me to let you dance with my father was the most ridiculous.”

Sylvain’s laughter became almost hysterical at the memory and Dimitri looked worried. “I tried— oh goddess, I remember! Seiros, oh no!”

“Sylvain, are you alright?”

Sylvain had no idea. He was swallowing down the cock of his prince and future king at least once a month and the prince was doing the same. Felix was starting to watch him oddly and his father wouldn’t stop talking about the damn Lance of Ruin and how Sylvain needed to make something of himself or else Margrave Gautier would just have to make another son to replace the worthless Sylvain. So, to be perfectly honest, Sylvain had no idea if he was okay. But when he looked up and saw the honest worry on Dimitri’s face— realized just how hopelessly in love with Dimitri he was despite right versus wrong— he couldn’t keep himself from lying for Dimitri’s benefit, saying, “I’m okay.”

Dimitri nod and looked like he knew Sylvain was lying. “I must speak with Claude,” he said. “I will send Felix to check on you.” For a moment, it looked like Dimitri wanted to say something else. He hovered above Sylvain, staring at his mouth. Sylvain watching Dimitri’s tongue swipe across his lips and wondered if Dimitri was thinking about kissing him like Sylvain was thinking of kissing Dimitri. Then Dimitri swung back on his heels and left. A few moments later, Felix burst into the classroom, eyes alight with fury.

“I’ll gut that bastard faster than he can cry for mercy!” Felix growled.

Sylvain, insanely enough, actually felt like he could be okay just in knowing Dimitri had cared enough to ask. Reason number one.

. . .

Felix won the dance competition and that was how he ended up having to deny well over twenty requests for a dance from their fellow classmates. Lorenz had been fuming, muttering something about a swordsman being unfairly graceful and Shamir being unfairly biased, and Sylvain was stiffing a giggle in his sleeve with every request Sylvain turned down, looking more frustrated by the minute.

Now, though, Sylvain wasn’t able to see the struggles of his friend. He’d stolen away, drawn from the crowds and the lights and the pretty boys and girls by an indescribable, indefinable urge. It felt strange to be fleeing the ball considering Sylvain had been so eager for its arrival, but he couldn’t fight his whimsy considering the swigs of ale he’d managed to charm from Alois, the secret flask tucked away in the knight’s armor that Sylvain had drank from with gratitude and a coquettish wink. Now Sylvain was climbing the steps of the goddess tower, feeling courageous from the alcohol and unsure why he was ascending the steps at all.

He knew the rumors, of course. Go to the goddess tower and meet his soulmate or whatever. Sylvain didn’t believe in soulmates and he didn’t believe in true love, but he did believe in the silliness of a dream and wondered who else he would find up here that agreed with him whether they admitted it or not.

Sylvain gigged to himself, wondering who he would discover. Maybe Dorothea, with her desperation to marry rich whether she loved the person or not? Or maybe Linhardt, with his books and theories and sleepy smile? Or perhaps Petra out of a curiosity streak and wonder towards the Faerghus ways? Maybe even Ashe? Adorable Ashe with the pink cheeks and the soft hair and his endless capacity to believe in the good in man. Or maybe even Dimitri—

Sylvian shut down that train of thought as he climbed the last few steps. The young prince who had once loved fairytales had died with his father and knights four years ago and Sylvain was cruel to wish for anyone else. Dimitri hadn’t read a fairytale— Dimitri hadn’t shown any inclination for love or marriage or even old beliefs since that fateful day. The young boy was dead and gone and Sylvain loved the Dimitri he had now, but he knew better than to think he’d find any Dimitri in this tower with him. Sylvain pushed open the door and told himself to be realistic— then he told himself he must have drank much more of Alois’s ale than he’d thought, because that was unmistakably Dimitri standing by the tall alcove and looking down at the monastery, casted in the ethereal glow of moonlight.

“You had ale?” Dimitri looked to him with worry. “Why in Seiros’s name would Alois do something like that? It’s an official function, the knights shouldn’t be carrying alcohol, let alone sharing it.”

“Goddess, Dima, you look like something out of a legend,” Sylvain blurted out before he could stop himself, entranced by the blue light casted across Dimitri’s pale features, appearing before Sylvain like an angel or something equally distressingly beautiful. “Reason number eleven.” As Dimitri looked to him in genuine concern for his safety, Sylvain realized he should be something other than a total idiot and quickly straightened his stance, folding his fingers behind his head, and grinned, praying he didn’t look like a total lunatic. “Fancy meeting you up here, your highness.”

At that, Dimitri looked a little lost. “Oh, well— it’s not really something I can explain myself.” He looked back out the alcove, light spilling across his features again and making Sylvain’s heart stutter in his chest. “I had this urge. Not a voice or a thought, just an urge. And I followed it here.”

Dimitri turned to Sylvain, lashes casting shadows across his cheeks, expression demure as he bit his plump lower lip and asked, “Are you the man the goddess intends me to love?”

Sylvain damn near had a heart attack. He stared at this beautiful, celestial man and tried to think of the words to what could either be the most tactless teasing Dimitri had ever attempted or the most important question of Sylvain’s life. Sylvain couldn’t fucking breathe and he almost didn’t want to if it would just save him from the crushing weight of the gravity of the situation. Possibilities and consequences flashed before his eyes, Ingrid’s fury and Felix’s disgust, Dimitri’s future as a king and the probability of a diplomatic queen, Sylvain’s only useful talents and how absolutely useless they would be to someone as important as Dimitri. And as all of this ravaged his thoughts, he failed to answer the question at all.

“Ah, I’m sorry, that wasn’t very appropriate.”

Goddess above, why did Dimitri look so disappointed?

“It seems I’ve made things awkward,” Dimitri said, striding forward, eyes downcast with shame that made Sylvain’s chest ache. “Here, let me—”

In one smooth motion, Dimitri was on his knees in front of Sylvain like he belonged there and in the next blink of the eye, Sylvain’s cock was going from his trousers to the cold air to the wet heat of Dimitri’s mouth, stars exploding across Sylvain’s eyes. He staggered, knees giving out, and suddenly he was on his ass on the floor, the stone cold against the bare skin of his behind with Dimitri on his knees between Sylvain’s legs, swallowing down his cock all over again. Sylvain felt like he was in a dream and realized, suddenly, that he hadn’t had a few sips of ale, he’d nearly drank the whole flask before Alois had pulled it from him, laughing boisterously and slapping Sylvain’s back. Sylvain only just realized how drunk he was as he watched Dimitri’s brow furrow before that perfect, tight mouth was sliding all the way down his shaft until Dimitri’s nose was pressed into the soft red curls at the base of Sylvain’s cock. Dimitri swallowed and Sylvain just about passed out.

Everything was a blur of pleasure after that, Sylvain’s hands fisted in Dimitri’s hair and fucking his mouth uncontrollably, arching off the stone floor of the very holy and sanctimonious Goddess Tower, gasping and moaning and begging the prince as his cock hit the back of Dimitri’s throat with every thrust. He felt wild and out of his mind, almost feral as the wet heat of Dimitri’s mouth became the only thing that mattered to him. Dimitri made the softest noises as he struggled to take Sylvain’s thrusts, drooling down Sylvain’s cock and letting Sylvain absolutely ruin his perfect composure, twisting blond hair between his fingers, scuffing boots and uniform on the floor, making those lips red and swollen with precum and spit and the stretch. Sylvain’s moans reached higher and higher fervor, his thoughts bleeding out into nothing as the heat in his stomach curled and bloomed and he reached that edge. At the last moment, Sylvain chanced a glance down and saw the most erotic sight he’d ever seen in his life—

Dimitri, on his elbows and knees, tight ass in the air, laid out between Sylvain’s legs and sucking Sylvain’s cock for all he was worth, looking up at Sylvain with watering, gorgeous blue eyes and cum-smeared lips and mussed blond hair like a halo backlit by the moon. At the last second, Dimitri pulled off Sylvain’s cock and stroked the shaft quickly with his mouth open and waiting, tongue pressing to the underside of the head, begging for it without a word. Sylvain wheezed out the most humiliating noise and dropped his head back as he came hard, clawing at Dimitri’s scalp, his vision whiting out. It went on for ages and ages, Sylvain gasping back to life as his heart hammered in his chest and his fingertips tingled. He sputtered and moaned and curled his limbs, the aftershocks racing through him like fire. “Goddess,” he breathed, clearing his throat when he heard how wrecked his voice was. Then he made the mistake of looking down again and saw—

Goddess,” he choked out again at the sight before him. Dimitri was still between his legs, flushed down his neck and into his uniform with Sylvain’s cum streaked across his perfect features. The milky white remnants of Sylvain’s ecstasy clung to Dimitri’s cheek and the bridge of his nose and his lips, Sylvain physically marking Dimitri in a way that he would have never dared dream of because Dimitri was a prince and Sylvain was nothing.

Oh goddess, oh fuck, Dimitri was a prince, what had Sylvain just done? Ingrid was going to kill him, Felix was going to kick his ass in training every day for the rest of their lives, Dedue was going to cut his dick off, Sylvain had fucked up, Sylvain had fucked up. Sylvain gaped at the sight as Dimitri ran a hand through his hair and tried to straighten his collar.

“Do you have a handkerchief?” Dimitri asked him, unable to meet Sylvain’s eyes. “I would use my hands, but my gloves—”

Sylvain scrambled to his feet, tugging his trousers up gracelessly and fleeing the tower, leaving Dimitri behind, the prince alone and stained and suddenly feeling like nothing more than a whore not even worth the full price

. . .

Sylvain wished he’d drank enough to forget everything that had happened in the Goddess Tower. Sadly, the world had never been very kind to him, and he remembered everything with more clarity than he had for his breakfast the day before. Sylvain’s hands were shaking as he approached the classroom, swallowing down fear. Not only had Dimitri acted like he’d wanted to find Sylvain in the goddess tower, Sylvain had left him after receiving the blowjob of his life. Sylvain had no idea what he was supposed to be doing with Dimitri, but he knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he’d done whatever it was wrong last night.

Goddess, how could he have left Dimitri like that? Vulnerable and exposed, on the floor and stained? How could Sylvain have done that to Dimitri, the most precious thing in the world to him, rare and priceless like jewelry or marble statue. How could Sylvain be so disgusting? He’d always known he was a piece of shit, but this? How could Sylvain have even failed his expectations for himself?

Sylvain felt sick and knew he deserved to feel that way. He couldn’t run anymore and that was why he was here, getting to class early, knowing Dimitri would be here and fully expecting to be either punched or just killed not the spot. Anyone who had ever fucked royalty knew to never love ‘em and leave ‘em. Sylvain was going to be executed.

He took a deep breath and pressed on into the classroom, unsurprised to see Dimitri dutifully stacking books, probably something the professor had mentioned being behind on offhandedly the other day. Dimitri, as always so desperate to be loved, was probably trying to surprise the professor with the work done. Sylvain’s heart clenched as he was reminded of reason number fifty-seven as to why he was in love with the prince. He swallowed down the terror and anxiety and let the door fall carefully shut behind him for some measure of privacy, grimacing when Dimitri jumped at the sound and jumped again when he saw Sylvain.

“Your highness,” he said, hating the echo of his voice and how small Dimitri looked. “We need to talk.”

“Do we?” Dimitri asked. At Sylvain’s confusion, Dimitri went on. “Do we even need to talk? Your rejection is quite clear to me, of course, and I shouldn’t even be surprised that I was rejected, I was honestly more shocked you reciprocated at all, so there’s really no need to talk about anything, I swear, I’ll just take a step back again and stop trying to police you so much and definitely never touch you again and I won’t make you take care of yourself or force myself on you or—”

“Take care of me?” Sylvain interrupted with a frown. “When did—”

Suddenly, it all came together. How every time Dimitri had come to him was when Sylvain had been at a low point, neglecting hisself and his health, running on fumes, exhausted, needing sleep. Dimitri had seen that and— came to him and wore him down with sex and ensured Sylvain took care of himself. And then Sylvain, accidentally, had done the same. Finding Dimitri at his worst and using his body to make it better. What— what did it all mean?

“You were taking care of me,” Sylvain said slowly. “… Why?”

“Isn’t it obvious?” Dimitri asked, smiling a little hopelessly. “I was at the Goddess Tower for a reason, Sylvain.”

Dimitri had asked him if Sylvain was the one the goddess had intended for him. It felt like someone had sucked all the air from the room and Sylvain couldn’t move from the spot. He stared at Dimitri, making a fool of himself and making Dimitri squirm under the intensity of his gaze. “I can see it doesn’t matter,” Dimitri mumbled, tearing their gazes apart and going back to the books, making himself busy to cope. “I should never have tried to cross the line. I’m a prince, for Seiros’s sake, I can’t take advantage of my status and put others into situations where they feel unsafe to deny me, I never should have—”

In three long strides, Sylvain crossed the distance between them and took Dimitri’s hand in his face to kiss him hard. The prince gasped against his lips, allowing Sylvain to delve his tongue inside and taste him, holding Dimitri in place so Sylvain could ravage his mouth and make him tremble. He pinned Dimitri to the professor’s desk, wedging a leg between Dimitri’s thighs, and pressed their chests together, warmth leeching into one another. Dimitri whined into him and ground down on Sylvain’s leg, his hardening cock hotter than metal. Sylvain broke away from the kiss and grinned breathlessly down at the prince, letting go of his face to hold him by the hips and roll Dimitri down onto his thigh. “Normally I like to make out a little before I get my mouth on a cock, but I can tell you’re going to throw a lot of what I know to the wind, my prince.”

“Sylvain!” Dimitri cried out as his hips hitched forward against Sylvain, hands coming up to fist in the front of Sylvain’s uniform, holding on tight. He was rutting into Sylvain’s leg, desperate and wanton. Sylvain wondered if Dimitri had let himself suffer the agony of no relief after Sylvain had left him behind so stupidly last night. “Good, it’s good, I—” Dimitri cut himself off as he suddenly pushed aside the layers of his uniform and shoved a hand down his pants, shockingly lewd. Sucking a man’s cock in public was one thing, but touching himself in front of a man was another, and Sylvain felt like a moan was punched from his lungs as he watched Dimitri rut into his own palm against Sylvain’s leg, blue eyes rolling into the back of his head with the pleasure.

“Now this just won’t do,” Sylvain huffed, realizing he was a poor lover. Dimitri shouldn’t have to work to get himself off, and Sylvain would be damned before he let Dimitri only find relief at his own hand. Sylvain sucked hard on the middle three digits of his hand and shoved his hand into Dimitri’s pants alongside Dimitri’s gloved hand, but bypassed that gorgeous cock completely. snaking between Dimitri’s legs and curling underneath. He felt Dimitri jump as his fingers grazed that hot furl of muscle, Sylvain’s own control hanging on by a thread. “I’ve got you, Dima,” he whispered, kissing Dimitri’s neck before gently pressing a single digit inside. Dimitri’s hand had stilled on his cock and the young prince moaned low in his throat, on his toes and desperately trying to figure out where to seek the friction.

Sylvain moved the finger carefully inside Dimitri, in and out at an agonizingly slow pace, groaning softly as he felt Dimitri relax around him. “Such a good boy,” he praised, kissing Dimitri’s pulse and then his jaw and then his brow as he slid in a second finger and felt Dimitri shakes. “You’re doing so good for me, I’m so proud.”

“Sylvain,” Dimitri choked out, clinging to him. “Sh-should I take something off? You said you like i-it messy.” Goddess, even now Dimitri was trying to do what was best for—

“Wait,” Sylvain blurted out as he suddenly realized that, “You let me cum on your face last night from the conversation with Lorenz?” As Dimitri pitched forward and hid his face in Sylvain’s chest, Sylvain realized the answer and was given reason seventy-eight as to why he loved Dimitri. “You absolutely amazing little thing, I’m going to wreck you once I get you on a bed.” He felt Dimitri’s body jump and hitch and then heard giggle, a light hearted sounded that soothed the edges of Sylvain’s mind. He kissed the top of Dimitri’s head as he worked his fingers inside Dimitri, pumping them in and out of Dimitri, feeling his body accept the intrusion and feeling Dimitri begin to roll down onto the fingers. “I’m gonna make you scream, Dima.”

“Please,” Dimitri choked out, breathless and desperate. “PleaseI”

Sylvain pushed into Dimitri, curling atop him and making Dimitri lean over the desk with their chests still pressed together and fingers still inside. Both of Dimitri’s hands went to Sylvain’s shoulder, holding on tight and spreading his legs wide, the tips of his toes barely scraping the ground. He keened softly and then cried out as Sylvain finally found that spot, digging into his prostate with bruising accuracy, hooking into the bundle of nerves and jerking his wrist hard to force pleasure into Dimitri like a drug. The blond wailed and arched gorgeously, babbling Sylvain’s name before he suddenly went silent, tense, every limb drawn tight, and then he was almost sobbing as Sylvain felt wetness bloom through their clothes, Dimitri coming undone on his fingers.

“Seiros save me,” he whispered as he pulled back to kiss Dimitri and felt how sluggish the man was from his orgasm. “You really tried to mend my concerns by sucking my cock, didn’t you?”

“M-Mercedes told me sex is your love language.”

Sylvain had to shut his eyes to try and salvage some self control. They were in their classroom, after all. Sylvain was going to have a difficult time in class today, looking to his professor’s desk and remembering this very moment.

The press of chapped lips to his jugular had Sylvain looking down at the man in his arms. Dimitri looked back up, blue eyes vulnerable and scared as he said, “I love you, Sylvain.”

Sylvain’s breath caught and he stared back. “… I love you too,” he managed to get out. “I… I love you.” He pulled Dimitri tight to his chest again, hugging the man and trying to get over how stunned he was to hear those words from anyone at all. “I love you,” he whispered.

He felt Dimitri nod. “And I love you.” The prince was saying it again like he knew Sylvain needed to hear it. “Everything I did is out of love for you.”

Sylvain screwed his eyes shut. “I don’t deserve it.”

“I don’t care,” Dimitri replied.

Sylvain laughed wetly and ignored the pinprick of tears in his eyes as he soaked in the warmth of his prince. And when Dimitri returned the embrace, Sylvain stopped ignoring the tears altogether and let them fall. He didn’t know where he was going, what destiny was in store for him, but he knew Dimitri was undyingly loyal and that he would always have the young man for as long as he lived. Sylvain was simultaneously scared and exhilarated to know Dimitri would be able to say the same for him.