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Dark Age

Chapter Text

When Byleth reported the news to Rhea and Blanche, the girl from the future said that the event was new and it hadn’t happened in her time. She was concerned about her mother but Sothis was the one that followed her to her room to ensure she was alright, so they didn’t fuss much over it. Future Edelgard was worried and alarmed so she announced that she would look into it, possibly to apprehend the culprit. She was satisfied with the success that protecting Jeralt supposed, because it meant Captain Jeralt would possibly not be targeted in the future and that he could help in the battlefield. His expertise was a great asset, she insisted.
There were about two more moons before the Monastery was attacked and Archbishop Rhea, with Seteth’s help, was preparing a plan to either evacuate the monastery or ask for reinforcements from the Empire and the Kingdom. Future Edelgard was sure that her father and King Lambert would be willing to provide troops if asked, but they needed a good reason and enough secrecy to prevent Claude from knowing.
The students were a bit shaken and the Conspiracy Group had put all their effort into trying to uncover the identity of the attacker that was able to create troops out of scratch. According to Sylvain, the fellow expert that they were able to contact through Lysithea who had contacted Dorothea who had contacted Ingrid, it required a very high level of Faith to create troops and they were easily killable most of the time.
Edelgard’s relationship with Dimitri was still awkward and she had avoided him as much as possible, while Dimitri was seen most of the time in company of either Ingrid, Ashe, Beth or Seteth and Rhea. The last two had decided to tend to the issue of him hearing voices so they conducted therapy sessions with Seteth’s talent for it to get Dimitri help.
The Conspiracy Group had all taken note of the change in Ashe’s behavior, some people even pointing out he was being nice and sweet which did not fail to startle all those that had fought with him, verbally or otherwise. Dorothea scolded anyone she caught speaking meanly about Ashe and people thought that Dorothea might have been one of the causes of his changed behavior. Dorothea denied it, but she said she would happily be Ashe’s friend if he so wanted.
Ferdinand von Aegir continued his inquiries as a detective and solved what he considered many cases. He found Lindhardt after he’d been reported to be missing from class (he was napping on the ground), he successfully retrieved Bernadetta’s stolen compendium of stories (Sylvain and Felix were reading them) and found Caspar’s missing cat. His latest case had been uncovering why Edelgard was in Rhea’s office during the ball, wearing an eyepatch, when Edelgard had also been spotted by witnesses by Professor Byleth’s side. He had also started to wear an eyepatch, because if Edelgard could while displaying the power to teleport, so could he. People questioned him about it and made theories on how he’d lost his eye, the most intriguing one being Bernie’s: a plant ate it.
Ferdinand felt mysterious and successful in the detective line, so he kept inquiring about things that had absolutely no correlation to him, such as Professor Beth’s ability to teleport and appear shorter and younger at times. He had heard Lysithea and Marianne refer to said subject as Blanche, but he simply considered they were being dramatic.
Other matter he was investigating was Ingrid’s mysterious disappearances. He frequently saw her leave but had no idea of where she was going.
The students weren’t precisely calm but they weren’t excessively alarmed either. They had no clue of who was the person tormenting them but then again there were many questions, such as who the King of Night was and how he had enlisted Hilda’s help. Ferdinand von Aegir, also known as Mr. Meddling, had heard the professors point him out as Claude von Riegan, but Claude von Riegan was dead so he thought it was Dimitri. There was no logical backup for that conclusion, he just made it based on knowing that the King of Night was not a Black Eagle.

Archbishop Rhea was convinced that the students needed more training in case it was necessary to fight during the Lone Wolf Moon or face the Almyran troops. So she ordered Beth and Byleth to go on diverse missions to retrieved Blessed weapons with their students. Sylvain already had stolen his and after Hanneman’s recovery he had had a long chat to apologize to him. Hanneman was still unhappy with the situation, but promised to look into Sylvain’s crest issue using the notes that Linhardt gathered. Sylvain was allowed to participate in some missions after that but not all.
During the month they just went on frequent expeditions to retrieve Blessed Weapons although they knew that the von Riegan family’s was not available.
The team dynamics worked well but both Beth and Byleth realized some students had tendencies to stay close to other certain students. Edelgard and Dimitri usually went separate ways, as one of the most noticeable examples. Ashe was beginning to collaborate with the other students and it was something that made Beth proud.
By the end of the month they had gathered most of the Blessed Weapons. Annette’s father had accepted Archbishop’s Rhea petition to let her and some students visit the Dominic state to get Crusher and Annette’s prowess with axes had just increased since then. After the Fraldarius family visited the academy to see Felix, they agreed to let Felix participate in some missions and to lend the Aegis shield to Ingrid, as she could use it and she was part of the family. Other families, like Ingrid’s and Hilda’s, had also agreed to let them use the weapons for training although their intended use was not that exactly. Jeritza and Mercedes, along a little party of people, had gotten theirs as well.
The only weapons they had left to retrieve were Areadbhar and Aymr, from the Kingdom royal family and the Imperial family respectively. Archbishop Rhea intended to talk to both of them so she required both a very experienced party and small as to not raise alarms that she was going to partake in the mission. To Beth’s surprise, Ashe insisted in going to Fhirdiad because he wanted to speak with King Lambert. Dimitri also insisted and Archbishop Rhea approved the petition just because she knew Ashe would be of help in the battlefield. They added some of the best knights – Alois, Catherine and Shamir – to their group but Future Edelgard and Blanche also insisted in going since they knew how important it was to get the support of the Kingdom and the Empire.
Beth made sure to speak to both Dimitri and Ashe before they left because she knew they were working on their relationship but it wasn’t perfect. Dimitri had been a very different person while living with Cornelia and Beth could tell Ashe was scared that Dimitri would revert to his past self and the ghosts from the past would haunt him again. Sylvain had not forgiven Dimitri yet either although they were working on it too.
To Beth’s joy, Ashe was much more receptive than before and he was willing to listen to her and heed her advice.
``I am alright with seeing… my father.’’ Beth smiled slightly at Ashe’s acknowledgement of King Lambert. ‘’I want to talk to him, I promise I’ll be on my best behavior.’’
She had grounds to believe so. Dorothea and Ashe had been interacting in a friendly way and so had Ashe and Annette. Annette’s brutal nature made Ashe realize she wasn’t less feminine for acting like that, so he assumed he could act the way he wanted too without it being feminine either. He also established a friendship with Caspar over cats, which was good.
They set out to Fhirdiad, not knowing that the biggest threat for the Kingdom resided within the very walls of the palace.

They had to fight some bandits on their way to Fhirdiad, which also made the students stronger. Beth and Byleth also strengthened their sibling bond through working together, although Edelgard and her future self was constantly trailing behind them. The definitive party included the Knights of Seiros (except Jeralt), Dimitri, Edelgard, Ashe, Blanche, Future Edelgard, Archbishop Rhea and the students that had proven themselves worth coming (Hubert, Ingrid, Annette and Lysithea).
Although King Lambert received them warmly, specially his sons, the consort Queen was not the same. She glared at Archbishop Rhea anytime she tried to speak and insisted in getting privacy with King Lambert’s sons. Then again, nobody knew Ashe was King Lambert’s son, except Ingrid. So they were all a bit shocked, except Beth, to see Ashe was included in the `private meeting’. Archbishop Rhea allowed them to have their private meeting with no complaints, trying to be indulging as to get in the king and the queen’s good side.
Hubert told his teammates that Edelgard’s mother had had a weird history with King Lambert but nothing tumultuous had come out of the relationship. Their children were friends so it was fine. Annette boisterously claimed it a happy ending while Ingrid commented that King Lambert suffered a lot after Dimitri’s mother died, or so her parents had told her.
Byleth and Beth were anxiously waiting and Beth noticed how strangely comfortable Blanche was, as if she knew the place. Then the doors opened and King Lambert conceded Archbishop Rhea an audience, but with nobody else went inside with her but Catherine.

The others were forced to wait outside, but Dimitri and Ashe were allowed into the palace. The four other students started training in the training grounds while the professors stayed close to the door to wait for Archbishop Rhea. The doors opened and it seemed as if Archbishop Rhea was going to come out, but she didn’t.
Inside the room, Catherine had just blocked a hit of magic that seemed to have come out of nowhere. Although they both were alarmed, Catherine and the Archbishop both thanked the king and hoped to go outside to investigate the hit, but as soon as they turned around, Catherine saw Cornelia raising her sword to hit Archbishop Rhea. With all the speed she was able to achieve, she got in the way just in time to save Rhea, but she was struck directly in her stomach and the blade was infused with magic, so it easily went through her armor.
For a second, everything stayed at a standstill. Rhea gazed at Catherine in horror, understanding her sacrifice, while King Lambert was unable to believe that his wife would be capable of such thing.
Then Catherine twisted the sword and got it out of her system, but started coughing blood and collapsed, moving out the way so her corpse would not fall on her beloved Archbishop. Rhea was silent for a second before she rose her arms and screamed, making the professors and Knights of Seiros react immediately and go into the room.
King Lambert himself was horrified with his wife’s action, so he did not protest to what happened next.
‘’You rose your weapons against the head of the Church of Seiros and killed a knight.’’ Archbishop Rhea uttered furiously. ‘’You, as the consort queen, swore loyalty to the church just like the King did. You are a disgrace for the Kingdom of Faerghus and all Fódlan. As the Archbishop of the Church of Seiros, I will ensue an immediate execution order against you!’’
An arrow pierced Cornelia’s chest, forcing her to take a step back, but she had been charging a spell. Shamir lowered her bow as tears threatened to ruin her vision, being the first one to listen to Archbishop Rhea’s aggressive muttering. Byleth was extremely sad about Catherine because she had been his mentor in swordsmanship, she’d taught him everything he knew. He put himself together and used his own blessed sword to strike Cornelia down, but apparently she had a plan under her sleeve for that situation.
She, although the arrow was still there and she hadn’t pulled it out, positioned her sword right under King Lambert’s neck. Archbishop Rhea reacted violently, frowning and cursing Cornelia’s name without qualms, while Beth paled thinking how the King’s father would affect his sons.
‘’Take one more step and your dear king is dead.’’ Cornelia threatened them, as more of her allies barged into the room to try and finish the assassination attempt on Archbishop Rhea.
The doors shut closed by Cornelia’s henchmen, that were able to knock the royal guard down. There was a fight in the training grounds between the Blanche and the other four students that were there. Blanche tried to tell them to hide because she knew that she should keep them alive and that hadn’t happened in her timeline so there was no possible way to guess how their deaths would change the future. The four of them were very stubborn, so they launched themselves to battle anyway, with the priority of meeting up with Archbishop Rhea and the professors. Blanche was specially worried about Dimitri, because if they were being attacked, who could say with certainty that Dimitri was not the main target of the attack?
Cornelia’s plan was twisted. She had known that Archbishop Rhea, King Lamb’s dumb heir and all those mindless idiots from the church were headed to Fhirdiad. She intended to destroy the Agarthans’ worst enemy after Sothis: Rhea, the insufferable daughter. However, obtaining the control of Faerghus by killing the king and his heirs was also a tempting and Cornelia wouldn’t just let the opportunity slide.

Although she had sorely underestimated Dimitri’s inhuman strength. During his childhood, he’d always been the perfect wimpy, spoiled and legitimate son of the king that liked to sing in the bathroom and had no redeeming qualities. To Cornelia, he was just a sore thumb that she was forced to deal with because it was part of the plan. A crazed boy who had been handed over the throne because of birthright and his crest.
And was currently heading her way while crashing his subordinates’ skulls with a single hand, one henchman in each. He had no clear sense of direction but he knew that Cornelia was behind everything. He was furious and he had narrowly dodged the hit of magic that Thales had thrown at him but he had advanced enough toward him to take him down in one hit. He thanked Beth for all the training in dodging, it made him quite evasive.
However, the back of his head reminded him Ashe was probably in danger too, even though he usually was unable to think clearly in moments of anxiety, stress and rage. He debated with himself whether to look for his half-brother or not until he heard a scream and any capability to think logically was thrown out of the window. Dimitri rushed into Ashe’s room and saw how Ashe was surrounded by four enemy units, which meant he had probably been forced to evade many hits however he could, because otherwise he’d been mangled beyond recognition. It made Dimitri so unbelievably angry that he did not doubt to use Areadbhar to take them down.
‘’Follow me if you want to live.’’ Dimitri said to Ashe, who still had tears In his eyes. ‘’We must save Father, lest he be killed again by those monsters.’’
Ashe did not understand a word of what Dimitri was saying and his mind pushed him back to the past, in which he had seen Dimitri act ruthlessly and abuse his strength. He knew it was pointless to even try to rationalize Dimitri’s behavior so he just made it his priority to assist Dimitri on his way to save the King.

When Dimitri broke the doors open, he let in clear sight the massacre Cornelia was causing. King Lambert was still alive, but held hostage by the woman who had sworn to love him until death did them apart. Archbishop Rhea’s party was exhausted and they could barely keep themselves upright, but they were surviving thanks to both Beth’s prowess with healing magic and Archbishop Rhea’s support.
``You bewitched woman, hand over my father or watch me tear your head from your shoulders from here.’’ Dimitri said in a tone that was completely new to Beth, but Archbishop Rhea seemed completely unfazed. Shamir and Alois were too tired to react, while Ashe and Byleth were just pale and focused on the enemies.
‘’You stand no chance against me, entitled prince!’’ Cornelia released King Lambert momentarily to properly address Dimitri but that was her downfall because in a very swift succession of movements, Dimitri ran up to her and threw his lance in her direction, effectively beheading her.
Archbishop Rhea laughed quietly while everyone else stared in horror at Cornelia’s head falling from her corpse. Beth comforted a troubled Ashe while the Knights took down the last enemies.
‘’Dimitri… my son… what happened to you?’’ King Lambert was evidently worried, but he approached Dimitri carefully. ‘’Why did you… how did you turn out to be like this?’’
‘’I saw you die, father. I heard your voice calling me for years, and Glenn’s too… I could not allow history to be repeated.’’ The last remnants of the fury that had blinded him left Dimitri’s body as he slumped over, clearly disgusted with himself. ‘’I cannot ever silence them. They torment me.’’
‘’I must ask you, for your own sake, to not undertake this sort of extreme actions in the future. You could have put yourself in danger.’’ King Lambert said solemnly, but opened his arms in a shy offer of a hug for his son. ‘’Yet I must thank you for riding me of the trouble I was facing. You have truly grown in your battle expertise.’’
‘’I have my teacher to thank for that.’’
Dimitri and his father shared a tender moment after a horrifying one, but each person had a different thing in their minds. Beth and Ashe were concerned about Dimitri’s health, the Knights were still thinking of Catherine and Rhea…
Rhea was just furious.

The students managed to fend off the enemy long enough for the professors to arrive and instruct them properly on how to get rid of them. Rhea knew that Cornelia was not working alone and she knew exactly who had been behind the attack… the Agarthans… Those Who Slither in the Dark. She thought that she had defeated them in Zanado, but they kept appearing like a plague of rats.
King Lambert was informed about the threat that the Agarthans presented to the kingdom and agreed to form an alliance with the Church of Seiros and the Adrestian Empire. He entrusted Professor Beth to continue caring for his sons and promised to make the palace safer by adding a larger quantity of guards. Glenn had been there fighting, but Dimitri’s violent streak allowed him to get out safely, so he was able to meet with Ingrid while the adults spoke.
Annette also met her father briefly, who congratulated her for lasting for so long in the battlefield and helping the kingdom’s troops.

They headed to Enbarr next, but the events there were not nearly as bad. Archbishop Rhea had promised to give Catherine a dignified burial upon their return to the monastery and she was tempted to listen to Beth and allow Ashe and Dimitri to stay with their father after the turn of events but she was also wary: another attack could mean they had less units in their favour. Numerical inferiority did matter, Rhea knew because of experience.
Edelgard got to meet up with her parents and her siblings without major difficulties, although Hubert did cause a bit of an scene when the Emperor mentioned him. He babbled on and on about his loyalty to Lady Edelgard but at that point no one really wanted to listen anymore.

Back in the monastery, Mercedes got a letter from Annette in which she explained everything that had happened in Fhirdiad. She was left quite worried, hoping it was only a joke, but it only got worse when she verified that Ingrid had also written a letter. Her letter was addressed to the entire Blue Lions House, but it said specific names (Mercedes, Dedue, Sylvain and Felix).
Due to Annette’s and Ingrid’s absence, Mercedes had been spending more time with Dedue. They spoke about Duscur’s religion and some other miscellaneous topics. Mercedes constantly prayed for everyone to return safely and sometimes Dedue joined her. They also got to speak about their families and Mercedes asked him about being Ashe’s retainer, but he seemed to be displaying a similar behavior that Hubert showed with Lady Edelgard: unbreakable loyalty and a vow to protect the younger boy. She knew Ashe’s entire life story at some point, just like Dedue got most of Annette’s.
Mercedes received letters from her ‘father’ about her possible engagement to one of the noblemen at the academy but that just made her feel frustrated. She was not exactly into men, although she occasionally liked them, she definitely could not stand people like Lorenz. Out of the kindness of his heart, Dedue offered to help her and they both came up with a scheme to pretend they were dating to get Mercedes’ father off her back and relieve some tension from Dedue’s own life, specially after rumours stirred by some students that had seen him at the Goddess’ Tower.

All the other students were busy studying or conspiring together. Ferdinand kept inquiring about several matters with Caspar’s help while Lin slept, Bernadetta stayed in her room for most of the day but Ferdinand bothered her at times, Petra and Dorothea tried to get along with everyone but it seemed each person had their own personal turmoil and they didn’t really want to intrude. Leonie and Captain Jeralt somehow convinced them to go to a trip on some weekend to train and by the end of the weekend, Petra had a bucket full of fish and Dorothea was soaked after almost drowning in the lake. The only thing she regretted was that Petra did not need to reanimate her, because Leonie said: ‘nah, she’s fine.’ The stupid tease was intentionally getting in the way, which Dorothea could barely tolerate.
Marianne had joined the Blue Lions House and spent a lot of time with Sothis, talking about nature and animals. Sothis was quite pleased with Marianne’s devotion to Fódlan’s fauna. At times, Marianne sneaked out to talk to Hilda and take care of her wyvern. Hilda had entrusted her with the location where she kept it hidden and Marianne felt very grateful for it, so she frequently left to fed the wyvern and give it some company.
‘Thank you for taking care of Minerva.’ Hilda had once said, and it was enough for Marianne to ask collaborate with other students to sew a collar that said Minerva. Hilda had teared up when she had seen it and they had spoken a bit about Hilda’s family.
Hilda’s brother had died horribly and Hilda had been forced into terrible experiments in a similar way that Sylvain had. Marianne felt terrible for her and shared her own story with Hilda. She didn’t expect Hilda to extend her arm through the bars of her cell and hold Marianne in hers. It was a very touching gesture and moments like that gave Marianne enough strength to wake up cheerfully everyday hoping to talk to Hilda or spend time with Minerva.

Their personal circumstances did not stop anyone from throwing a party and making one of their infamous banquets once the group returned. The Black Eagles put together a big poster with Professor Byleth, Edelgard, Hubert and Lysithea badly drawn on it while, just as an act of pure defiance, Mercedes got Marianne to collaborate with her to make one about Annie, Ingrid, Professor Beth and Dimitri. Bernadetta had refused to help either of them out of lack of coercion (no one knew her weaknesses, only Lysithea and the professors did). She did stand with Dorothea and Petra although she knew the work they’d done was shameful.
‘’What is with this drawing of Prince Dimitri?’’ Annette pointed at the circle with lines drawn all over it like spaghetti. ‘’He looks like the noddle soup I ate yesterday.’’
Then she started laughing maniacally and Dorothea joined her, because she was very happy to remind Mercedes that their poster was better, thank you.
‘’It’s certainly impressive… I appreciate the effort.’’ Dimitri said as cordially as possible, but no one quite saw him with the same eyes after witnessing the occurrence in Fhirdiad. ‘’Very kind of all of you.’’
‘’You don’t have to lie, Dima.’’ Ingrid patted him on the back. ‘’It was just a competition between Mercedes and Dorothea, nothing big.’’
‘’Which I, by the way, won’’ Dorothea smirked at Mercedes, who rolled her eyes.
‘’Though this woman right here has a boyfriend now, so I’m not sure if who’s the real winner here.’’ Leonie pointed at Mercedes indiscreetly, making Dorothea’s eyes almost jump out of her body because she had not expected that.
‘’Mercie!?’’ Annette gasped at her, completely shocked. ‘’WHO-!?’’
Mercedes was blushing and she felt scrutinized by everyone. All eyes were on her, even Professor Byleth’s, who usually seemed uninterested in the student drama around. He had talked to Dorothea about her affectionate feelings for Petra and advised her to go for it, but he had no idea of students’ love affairs outside of his class. Though he seemed strangely willing to know everything about it.
``The man from Duscur.’’ Ferdinand rolled his eyes, because he could not conceive that someone would willingly chose Dedue over him. He wasn’t a shameless flirt like Lorenz, but he had his charm and yet women ignored him… even with his eyepatch.
While there was a small commotion provoked by the people who didn’t know (Annette, who was angrily screaming; Ingrid, who looked like she’d been told her grandma was dead; Hubert, who started laughing like a maniac; Edelgard, who just stared wide-eyed at Dedue like he had grown two heads and alarmingly glanced at Ashe... and Dimitri, who literally just flopped onto the ground.
Thankfully Dimitri’s sudden clumsiness was enough to get all the attention off Mercedes and Dedue, as everyone chorused ‘Your Highness!’, clearly concerned that the Prince of Faerghus had almost cracked his skull open. He repeated he was fine, but deep down he knew that he was at a breaking point and his family was in shambles… He just hoped Ashe would keep it together.
He didn’t.
Edelgard exercised her big sister role and tried to cover him as best as she could with her little height, as she gestured to Hubert to safely escort Ashe out of the room before anyone noticed anything. Hubert was an asshole and decided to not help, because he did not like Prince Dimitri, and he didn’t like his murderous schemer little brother either. Edelgard enlisted Dorothea’s help and the two were able to get Ashe out even if neither was able to see his face.
``What are you all doing outside?’’ Lindhardt looked like he had just woken up and knowing him, he probably had. ‘’Oh, I know her, that’s Caspar’s friend.’’
Dorothea braced herself for a scream and Edelgard just stayed still as if she would disappear like that. However, Ashe didn’t scream or assault Lin, he just said:
``I’m not a girl.’’ It was calm, but at the same time his voice was thinner than paper and he was clearly about to break into tears.
‘’Oh, my bad. Caspar was under the impression you were a girl. I’d tell him you’re not, just to avoid confusion. I think he might be interested in pursuing a romantic relationship with you.’’
That statement irked both Dorothea and Edelgard. They both were attracted to males and females alike, so Lin’s flippant behavior and his apparent assumption that Caspar would not be interested anymore if he knew Ashe was a boy made their blood boil. Was Caspar going to reject Ashe because he identified as a boy, if he was interested in him romantically? It seemed stupid to both of them, for two reasons mostly: Caspar did not seem to care about romance, let it be with girls or boys, and two, Ashe was suffering his own romantic turmoil so adding more insult to the injury was terrible, suggesting he’d rebound so quickly.
‘’Why would knowing that Ashe is a boy deter Caspar from pursuing a relationship with him? Do you have any idea of what sort of people Caspar is attracted to?’’ Edelgard demanded angrily, her bubble of anger about to burst and become rage.
‘’Not really. Asking would be rude, I think.’’ Lin continued to show he wasn’t really interested in the conversation.
‘’Then, if you have no idea of which way Caspar swings, why are you babbling all that nonsense!?’’ Dorothea huffed, clearly as annoyed as Edelgard.
``Excuse me for wanting my friend to know the gender of the subject of his affections…’’ Lin mumbled sarcastically. ‘’Caspar is quite dense, I don’t think he can figure it out unless Ashe says it directly.’’
‘’…You are dense! Caspar is always following you around like a puppy! Hell, he even got Ferdinand to look for your stupid pillow! If Caspar is crushing on someone, I’d say it’s you!’’ Dorothea exploded at last, unintentionally exposing Caspar. ‘’All he ever talks about with Ashe is cats! We can discuss the inherent eroticism of a mutual love for cats, but how on Fódlan would you come to the conclusion that Caspar is crushing on Ashe, if he didn’t even bother to ask him about his gender?’’
Lindhardt looked taken aback, as if he had been hit with a stone that revealed him all the truths of the universe. It was as if he was having an epiphany, but then he shrugged everything off and fell asleep on the spot he was occupying.
While Dorothea and Edelgard argued with Lin, Ashe had arrived to the lake and he was sitting on the deck that Professor Beth usually used for fishing. Flayn was sitting beside him and to any person that had no context about the situation, it seemed Flayn was talking about fishing while Ashe was forced to endure it, doing a bad job at keeping his tears at bay.
‘’Dorothea, that’s so not cool! Why did you have to expose me like that!?’’ Caspar shouted at her and then left running dramatically.
‘’How did he even hear what I was saying?’’
Annette opened the kitchen’s window and leaned out of it. ‘’To be fair, we’re all listening.’’
Then Dorothea opened the door and saw that Ferdinand, Leonie, Lysithea, Bernadetta, Ingrid, Marianne, Lorenz, Dimitri and Mercedes all had their ears stuck to the door. Petra and Dedue were arguing behind, based on Petra’s frown as she spoke, while Ignatz and Raphael were just not interested.
‘’Someone should start to write a daily paper in which all the rumours appear and then spread it all around so we all could know them…’’ Annette said loudly. ‘’Because sometimes our best friends don’t even want to tell us about their intimate relationships!’’
Mercedes flinched at Annette’s tone. There was no denying Annette was bitter over Mercedes’ withdrawal of information, but seriously, who fast could rumors fly?

Professor Byleth kept assigning group tasks and inviting people over for lunch. His sister did the same, but she was much more subtle about it. He’d meet up with Ingrid and Mercedes at times, then with Marianne and Dimitri, then with Ingrid and Annette… Professor Byleth did not even try to hide he was actively trying to matchmake both Caspar and Lindhardt AND Petra and Dorothea. Caspar was awkward most of the time because everyone knew his embarrassing secret and started hanging out with the only person who understood him, his bro Ashe…
Everyone’s therapy sessions were doubled and even students who usually didn’t go were recommended to meet up with Seteth or their tutors for counselling. Dimitri spent much more time in private tutoring with Beth and in Seteth’s office. He had even had therapy sessions with Captain Jeralt, which was very strange because thanks to Sothis, he was under the impression the prince wanted something with his daughter.
Dimitri tried to explain why he had behaved the way he did but everytime he just deflated and he was unable to do it. He was disgusted with the way he’d acted but a part of him believed he’d been able to save his father because of it. The voices he heard usually spoke about an event called the Tragedy of Duscur. He heard King Lambert’s, Glenn’s, Felix’s (after witnessing his apparent death), Dedue’s, Professor Beth’s and even his own. They warned him about upcoming tragedies. The first three blamed him for their deaths and two of them demanded Edelgard’s head, while Dedue spoke about how he had sacrificed himself for him and not regretting it.
The last two were more confusing. Beth sometimes said encouraging things, making Dimitri think it was the real one saying it, and others said the darkest sort of things. His own voice always called him a monster and a beast, a boar, which he had started to believe it after seeing what he’d done at Fhirdiad.
The voices also defined some aspects of his life, because he felt more attached to Beth, Edelgard, Dedue and Felix because of them. In Beth’s case it was because of the sweet words he heard, while in Edelgard’s, he was just worried he’d lose her. What Dedue said made him think for some reason they had a close relationship even if the real Dedue did not think so. He blamed himself for Felix’s death, but knowing that the real one had forgiven him made him feel infinitely better.
Sylvain, Felix and Dimitri had attended group therapy. Sylvain was strapped to a chair to ensure he would not hurt Dimitri, but he verbally did it anyway. Sylvain blamed him for what happened to Miklan and to the Gautier household, as well as taking away Sylvain’s best friend. Seteth tried to reason with Sylvain that his past abuse by Those Who Slither in the Dark was not Dimitri’s fault and Dimitri was not connected to it, but Sylvain rebutted him saying that Dimitri was their target but they failed and took Sylvain in. Seteth kept calmly discussing it with Sylvain until Sylvain accepted that the blame was not on Dimitri, but Those Who Slither in the Dark’s. Felix and Dimitri tried to explain as best as they could that Felix was not killed by Dimitri -although it looked like that- and it was all a setup to make Sylvain hate him and give in more easily. Sylvain was still combative and aggressive but he forgave Dimitri after many sessions and seemed more calm around him.
Hilda and Sylvain also had a group session and they both shared a similar story. Archbishop Rhea did not ask them to give many details, but it all matched with what she knew. The two of them had been forced to bear crests that weren’t their own and suffered greatly during the experimentation process, before and after. Hilda reported that she was feeling better thanks to Marianne’s support and Sylvain asked for more books to read with Felix, because Ingrid and him were trying to reteach him how to read and some combat stuff they’d learned at class. Sylvain was allowed to rejoin the class if he promised to stay on his best behaviour.
Another person who frequently attended therapy, both alone and in group, was Ashe. He had many issues with Cornelia, Dimitri’s uncontrolled behavior and his father’s abandonment. In a group therapy with Sylvain, Dimitri and Ingrid, in which they discussed the murder plot earlier in the year, they agreed on the fact that Sylvain had orchestrated most of it out of pure hatred and spite to the Those Who Slither in the Dark, receiving a bit of help from them, while he convinced Ashe (although it didn’t take much… he couldn’ really be blamed in what politics entailed) and the others with a series of false promises and reassurances that it was for the better. They all agreed that it was a bad idea and had closure on it, forgiveness finally in the picture.
Felix also needed some therapy but being a wolf made it difficult so Ingrid was mostly in charge of it. Felix was also bad at feelings so they took Annette to encourage him loudly and obnoxiously, creating a very tense atmosphere between them until Felix admitted he liked Annette’s singing voice, it was nice.
As the incorrigible nosy detective he was, Ferdinand tended to listen in the sessions. Future Edelgard had caught wind of what he was doing and sent him to the thinking corner, but Ferdinand wasn’t relenting. He made a deal with Future Edelgard -thinking it was the young one- that he would not snoop if he got to talk for so long with Professor Beth and Archbishop Rhea too.
There was no choice left but to agree.

The students noticed their training becoming significantly more intense and exigent. Catherine’s burial did not fail to raise alarm, but they were not very acquainted with her so no one mourned her in the same way the Knights of Seiros did. Shamir and Alois were barely seen without moping, while Professor Byleth just coped by matchmaking his students.
In fact, he was so unsatisfied with matchmaking his own students that he started matchmaking his sister’s too, after asking for her permission, which went like:
M! B: I will allow you to train my students if you allow me to train yours.
F! B: Deal!
And then Beth was seen eating a gross amount of sweets with Lysithea, fighting with Leonie over Jeralt’s affection as the two daughters he’d never raised, discussing with Hubert his strange relationship with Edelgard, enjoying Dorothea’s opera version of Bernadetta’s written soup opera, hunting with Petra while riding wyverns, studying crestology with Linhardt and brawling with Caspar in the training grounds.
While his brother spent most of his time psychoanalyzing her students. Ingrid opened up to him about her fear to not meet Glenn’s expectations, Sylvain apologized sincerely for ignoring him in the past like he was a gum in his shoe, Marianne made a very compelling case on freeing Hilda because of her good behavior and presented it to him, he tried to investigate underlying causes in Ashe’s irrational fear of ghosts, learned about Duscur’s culture with its number one fan, seriously discussed with Annette her aggressive tendencies and last but not least, got Mercedes to confess to him that she was attracted to women and felt a bit embarrassed about it at times.
(He also contributing in teaching Felix some stuff, but focused mainly on swords. Felix was quite pleased.)
With all the knowledge he’d acquired he set to complete his grand matchmaking scheme but including his sister’s students in it.
Then Blanched walked in on him and gaped at how horrifyingly accurate his schemes were. Almost everything fit. She had known her uncle was smart, but not smart enough to predict the future like that.
‘’You put Dimitri with mom, huh…’’ Her fingertips grazed the drawings that her uncle had made, as she smiled softly at the noodles he’d put on Dimitri’s head. ‘’Even though I told you I’m Claude’s daughter?’’
‘’I might have not known my sister for long, but I want to be in-laws with the King of Faerghus.’’ He shamelessly confessed. ‘’He also has it bad for her.’’
‘’Sounds like a nice prospect, doesn’t it?’’ She giggled, thinking of how similar her uncle was to the man she knew in the future. ‘’But I can’t tell you how much of this is true… sadly, not everyone made it out alive after the monastery was attacked…’’
‘’But Sylvain and Felix survive, don’t they?’’ Blanche nodded, unsure, because she had already said, claiming Sylvain was the key to protect the capital. ‘’Even if they’re the only right match I make, I’ll be happy.’’
‘’Well, keep up the good work. You were probably a big help to all of these teenagers… They are quite different from the future selves, although that was to be expected. It’s just, it can be really jarring at times. Specially Mom. She looks so cheerful and carefree, but in my time… I just wish we can do this right this time. Even if it just for her, I’d do anything to make her happy.’’
Byleth paused, putting down the feather stained with ink he had been using.
‘’She knows that.’’
‘’If that is so, it makes me happy. You and her had a rocky start, but you’ll see how everything gets better. You’re family and family… even if it comes in the way I did… has to stick together. Even if I’m not born in this timeline, at least Grandpa Jeralt will be alive.’’
‘’Speaking about my father, why don’t you spend more time with him?’’
‘’I didn’t think he’d like what I represent… but maybe you’re right. If mom can love me after knowing who my father is, maybe he can love me too…’’ Byleth nodded, with a small smile on his face.

Everything seemed to be going better… but the Lone Wolf Moon was quickly progressing and in no time, the destiny of their timeline would be decided.