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Dark Age

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"I welcome all of you, students of Garreg Mach, to the Monastery. I hope that you can grow into better versions of yourselves during this academic year. May the Goddess bless you all, and know, that your professors and the Knights of Seiros will look after all you, and so will the Goddess and so will I." Archbishop Rhea stood proudly in front of all of the students of The Academy of Officers, giving a speech to mark the beginning of the academic year.

Next to her, the professors, Manuela, Hanneman, and Byleth were looking at their students. Manuela would be in charge of the Golden Deer, Hanneman would stand with the Blue Lions and Byleth was in charge of the Black Eagles house. Despite his young age, Byleth had proved himself capable in the battlefield and Archbishop Rhea had decided to name him Professor of the Academy. She had seen the boy grow and she trusted greatly in his ability to transfer his knowledge to other people, and she trusted she would be able to help his students develop their full potential.

After all, Edelgard von Hrservelg, the Emperor's daughter and the heir of the Empire would be attending the Monastery on that year. Rhea was determined to maintain the relationship between the Church and the Empire and so she had chosen the professor that fits best to teach in the Black Eagles house.

When the speech ended, the brunette approached Rhea excitedly, hoping to get a chance to speak to her before she left with Seteth. Fortunately for her, she reached Rhea and was able to greet her and initiate a conversation.

"Good morning Archbishop Rhea." She said in a happy voice, looking at Rhea with hope in her eyes. "Thank you for welcoming us all. I heard that Professor Byleth is in charge of our house this year. May I get the chance to speak to him, please? I have heard about his deeds and I would love to get a chance to speak to him."
"Oh, Edelgard, of course, you can speak to him." Rhea laughed in delight, amused by the girl's excitement. "In fact, one of the tasks I was going to assign to him consisted of speaking to you. After all, you are the House Leader of the Black Eagles."

Edelgard's cheeks flushed since she felt a bit embarrassed over how overeager she was being. Archbishop Rhea and her had known each other for a long time, and almost like it had happened to her with Byleth, Archbishop Rhea had grown fond of Edelgard, from seeing grow since she was a little child. Edelgard's mother, Patricia, was good friends with her.

"I was wondering, however, what happened to Prince Dimitri? Do you happen to know anything about him, Edelgard?" Rhea asked since she knew that Edelgard and Dimitri were childhood friends. She wanted to know ti Edelgard knew what had happened to Dimitri, to make him miss the Opening Ceremony, and to make him unable to assist to the meeting between the students to declare who he House Leader was.

In the Golden Deer, Lorenz had taken the charge while Edelgard didn't want to at first, but the others (sans Ferdinand) proposed her and she accepted.

"I have no idea." Edelgard confessed sincerely, a bit of concern leaking through her tone although she clearly wasn't meaning to express how worried she was, as to not make Archbishop Rhea be worried as well. "I think nobody knows."

That statement did anything but appease Rhea's concern. She nodded and tried to keep a straight face, succeeding at doing so, but she was asking herself what had happened back in the Kingdom to make Dimitri unable to assist.

Many nobles in the Kingdom were known to despise Prince Dimitri. The youngest son in the Gautier family was one of them, and he expressed it openly. The House of Galatea had been in a good relationship with Prince Dimitri for a little while, but after Ingrid got engaged to the oldest Fraldarius son, she had never been seen in the company of Prince Dimitri again. In fact, among the Academy students, only Edelgard was known to have a good relationship with Prince Dimitri.

Rhea wondered if Prince Dimitri had been attacked on his way to the Academy. She wished to think that it was a mere delay and that he would be soon to arrive. She turned to Edelgard and accompanied her to where Professor Byleth was standing, chatting with Catherine.

"Professor, Edelgard wishes to speak to you. She admires greatly your work. If you were so kind as to spare some time to her, then the two of you could chat."

Professor Byleth shot a smile in the Archbishop's direction and apologized to Catherine to then leave with Edelgard, who was practically beaming with joy over the chance to talk to her hero. She flashed thumbs up at Hubert before leaving to talk with the professor.

The Black Eagles were happy they got the chance to have Professor Byleth in their class. They watched Edelgard go with smiles on their faces and then got out to chat in the playground.

"We get to have Professor Byleth! Aren't we the luckiest?" Caspar shouted happily. "We get to have a knight of Seiros teach us! A hero! Man, this is gonna be so good!"

Petra, who didn't understand very well what Caspar meant, had Dorothea explain to her who Professor Byleth was. Since she was from Brigid, she didn't know Professor Byleth was a household name and a hero among the youth. Dorothea also liked Petra better than the other nobles because she was different and she was kinder and nicer.

"I hope Professor Byleth doesn't expect too much from us." Bernadetta whispered with fear in her voice. She wanted to leave but she didn't know where her room was yet so she was forced to bond with her classmates.

"Surely he's capable of teaching us with a rhythm we can follow." Ferdinand pointed out, to then be pushed and almost taken down by Raphael, who had approached the Black Eagles quickly, all to quickly.

"Hey!" He greeted everyone. "Lorenz thinks that the houses should eat together today so he sent me to fetch you so you could join us and have a nice first meal!"

Some of the Black Eagles seemed excited at the prospect. Dorothea surely was, relieved that she wasn't the only peasant in the school. So were Ferdinand and Caspar. Specially Caspar, who as soon as he saw Raphael, wanted to know what his exercise routine was.

The group left to the dining hall with Raphael, who led them to the Golden Deer table, and that mixed them all together. Dorothea found herself squashed between Petra (who didn't really annoy her, to be honest) and a mysterious blue-haired girl with blue eyes that wore the Academy Uniform, but it was the first time she had seen her.

To her side was Hilda, who was just as quiet and didn't utter a word to anyone. The two loners seemed happy with each other's company and they didn't bother to talk to anyone. While Lysithea was trying to get the quietest ones to speak up with chats about sweets (namely Bernadetta and Marianne), she somehow ignored those two girls. Curious, Dorothea decided to speak to the mysterious girl.

"Hey, what's your name?" The girl didn't reply, her blue eyes just bore into Dorothea's green ones. "Are you... are you from any noble house? If you're not, don't worry, I'm not either. I'm friendly, you can talk to me."

"I'm not a noble." She quietly mumbled, with a raspy voice that made Dorothea wonder how much she used it. ".... I'm Blanche. Nice to meet you."

Dorothea couldn't help but feel pity for the poor girl. She was probably intimidated by all those nobles. Though she was from the Golden Deer. She shouldn't be that scared, many people in the Golden Deer weren't nobles. Though, with a house Leader like Lorenz surely she was scared.

"Petra!" The girl turned to Dorothea as soon as she heard her name and raised her eyebrows in interest. "I want you to meet my new friend Blanche. She is a bit shy, but surely we can help her to loosen up."

"Of course!" Petra said excitedly. "I know good ice wreckers! I'm from Brigid, so if you want, I can tell stories about Brigid."

The girl, Blanche, nodded but she seemed off. Dorothea listened attentively to Petra go on and on about Brigid, occasionally glancing at Blanche to make sure she was listening as well. Blanche would look at Petra sometimes but she tore her gaze away almost as soon as she laid it on Petra. Dorothea knew she was weird, but then again, everyone there had their own quirks.

Sometime later, Edelgard reached them and joined the meal. She took a spot next to Hubert and gestured wildly while speaking about her chat with Professor Byleth. She then turned to her fellow Black Eagles and made sure to include them all in a group conversation, to then turn to the Golden Deer. She talked a bit to Lorenz and she praised his idea to have them all eat together because she considered it was good for bonding between houses. Edelgard opened a debate and invited everyone to join in, which they did.

Everyone joined in, but Hilda and Blanche. Dorothea noticed Blanche's fixed gaze on Edelgard from the very first moment she stepped into the room. However, she decided not to mention it to Edelgard, because perhaps Blanche didn't even know who she was. Perhaps Blanche was only curious. Her gut told her that was not true, but Dorothea ignored it.

"Hilda," Marianne said softly from the other side of the table, she was next to Hilda. "You have barely touched your food. Do you want some of mine?"

"No. It's fine, Marianne." Hilda said simply, not even looking at Marianne in the eyes.

"Here you go." Marianne dropped something on Hilda's plate and Hilda threw a look at Marianne before eating what she had given her. Marianne smiled brightly and that made Hilda's serious face twist into a slight smile.

Leonie observed the exchange with curiosity in her eyes. She looked at Dorothea and immediately turned to speak to Raphael and Ignatz, deciding she'd ask Dorothea about it later.

 

As a house leader, Edelgard considered it very important to help everyone feel integrated. She had spoken to all her house members and to other golden deer members. Admittedly, she liked some more than others (Lysithea, for instance, was very nice to her) but she made an effort to speak to everyone. It ticked her off that no one from the Blue Lion house was there, so she asked Lorenz about it.

"Didn't you invite the Blue Lions?" She asked Lorenz as soon as she got the chance.

"We tried." Lorenz said, trying to ignore Leonie's scowls. "But we didn't see anyone from the blue lions."

"That's weird. Dimitri isn't here either." Edelgard mused under her breath. "Where are they..?"

"Maybe they already ate," Ignatz suggested, trying to disperse the tension in the ambiance. "So that's why they are not here."

"That's impossible." Leonie grumbled, glaring at Ignatz for saying such stupidity. "How could they eat before the opening ceremony?"
"I agree with Leonie, something doesn't quite fit here." Lindhardt joined the skeptics that were looking into the situation.

"Should I go and look for them?" Edelgard asked, looking at everyone for confirmation. "This is worrying me quite a bit."

"If that is so, then I will accompany you." Hilda stood up, which surprised everyone since practically nobody but Marianne had spoken to her in all day and it was the first time for some
Of them hearing her speak.

"I must insist to accompany her Highness as well." Hubert also stood up. "I'm not letting you go alone."

 

The three of them left the dining hall and went to the Cathedral since it was likely for the Blue lions to be around there if they hadn't received the call for eating. Edelgard was able to identify two blue lions, Annette and Mercedes, two girls that had been to the magical academy with Lorenz. She knew they were Blue lions because of the pins they wore in their uniforms.

"Are you two from the Blue lions House?" Edelgard asked them, approaching them quickly.

Annette looked scared but she relaxed when she verified it was only Edelgard. Mercedes didn't seem fazed, just a bit rigid.

"Yes, we are." Mercedes spoke up for Annette. "You must be Lady Edelgard. It is a pleasure to meet you."

Edelgard was frankly surprised that Mercedes was able to recognize her but she hid it well.

"I used to live in the Empire." Mercedes supplied. "I believe I saw you when you were just a baby. You have truly grown over the years. I am Mercedes, and this is Annette. Why were you looking for us, your Highness?"

"We were all sharing a meal. However, we couldn't get hold of the Blue lions. Do you know where the House Leader is?" Edelgard didn't even know where they were, or who they were. She knew nothing and that contributed to being unable to find them.

"They are busy." Annette swallowed, as her eyes trailed from Hubert to Edelgard. "I wouldn't interfere. As for Mercedes and I, we would gladly assist to the lunch."

"Busy? With what?" Edelgard pried, out of confusion really. What could motivate the Blue Lions into missing a meal?

"Important matters." Mercedes replied simply. "Shall we go?"

The four of them headed back to the dining hall, but Hubert noticed something was wrong. Hilda was missing. She had left for some reason, one they couldn't really understand. Before he voiced his suspicions to Edelgard, Annette cut him by asking questions about the Black Eagle members. Edelgard knew them the most so she started telling her everything she knew about them.

There was one thing that Hubert was sure about: Those two girls were very suspicious.

Chapter Text

Still, Edelgard didn’t seem to notice, and Hubert didn’t want her to interrupt her while she was talking so passionately about their housemates, so he would rather not tell her and inquire about Hilda, Mercedes and Annette on his own.

And Hubert definitely wasn’t the only person that suspected Hilda. Not only that, but Leonie also thought that girl Blanche definitely had a lot of dirty secrets. Leonie wasn’t one to get in other people’s business but she did meddle sometimes and that Dorothea girl was perhaps too posh for her liking but she would sacrifice herself if that meant uncovering a threat to Captain Jeralt. After all, Blanche was looking at Professor Byleth the whole meeting and if she was trying to hurt him, that meant she would try and hurt Captain Jeralt as well. After all, Byleth was his son.

When she thought Blanche was distracted chatting with Lorenz, she got up from her seat and sat between Petra and Dorothea. Dorothea seemed bothered but Petra just smiled at her amicably.

“Is it just me or is there something wrong with these two?” Leonie whispered, enough for the two girls beside her to hear her.

“No! What do you mean? They’re just shy!” Dorothea immediately decided to defend Blanche, regardless of the fact that she barely knew her.

“I agree with you, Leonie.” Lindhardt said from across them. “There is something fishy here.”

“Did you just say fish?” Caspar looked around, searching that fish his friend Lin was talking about. “I don’t see any fish.”

“Were you even listening?” Lindhardt huffed at him, annoyed.

As the two continued to banter, Dorothea reflected about Leonie’s words. Why did she think that Hilda and Blanche were strange? Why did she think something bad about them? Deep inside, Dorothea knew that if it had been a noble criticizing Blanche, she would have lashed out. But it was Leonie, and Leonie had no reason to hate Blanche. Lindhardt didn’t seem like an average noble either, it seemed like he cared more about sleeping rather than hierarchy.

Leonie had already returned to her seat by the time Dorothea thought of something to tell her, and Blanche was staring blankly at the table. Perhaps Leonie was right. And why was Hilda missing, Dorothea wondered? Perhaps she could ask Edelgard about it. She was very nice. Dorothea had met her a little while ago but Edelgard seemed very kind.

“Psst, your Highness. Can we speak in private?”

Confused, Edelgard raised from her seat and walked over to Dorothea, who also stood up. They left the table together, to talk in a corner.

“Are you feeling Ok, Dorothea? I trust anyone has been rude to you.” Edelgard checked with her whether someone had insulted her and whether she was comfortable. Dorothea thought that was very nice of her.

“No, it’s fine, really, thank you. It’s... where is Hilda?”

“Oh dear.” Edelgard realized right then Hilda’s absence. “I didn’t even notice she left.”

“You mean she just... wandered off?”

It seemed that Dorothea’s gut was right. Her stomach was clenching painfully and she was sure that it wasn’t because of the food. Something was definitely wrong about Hilda and Blanche.

“I think so.” Edelgard breathed in amusement. “I can’t believe I didn’t notice she was missing.”

“It’s alright, surely you have a lot in your head right now.” Dorothea tried to comfort her, since she honestly liked Edelgard and she kind of felt bad for making her feel bad.

“I-I... I honestly don’t know what to do. Should I tell Lorenz about this?”

“No, no. She must have left because of something. She must have a reason to do this, right? Sure, her behaviour was... a little bit weird. But... maybe she’s just an introvert. Maybe she was looking for a friend that is in the Blue Lions.”
“You are right.” Edelgard smiled at Dorothea. “The Blue Lions must be somewhere. Surely Professor Hanneman has everything under control.”

 

Then, after lunchtime, they were shown to their dorms. Bernadetta finally got out of her nervous crisis and she locked herself inside her room happily, with 5 locks. The others stayed outside for a little while or even invited some of their same-sex friends to their rooms just because they were closer.

However, some people that definitely didn’t sleep in nearby rooms joined together in a conspiracy group. Not as a group that conspired, but rather as a group that investigated conspiracies. Leonie, Lysithea, Lindhardt (who apparently included a Caspar in its pack), Ferdinand and Hubert reunited in the same room to speak about conspiracies. Meanwhile, the remaining girls were hanging out together. Raphael and Ignatz were doing something, probably not something good, but at least everyone could see them, unlike the Blue Lions. Annette and Mercedes just locked themselves together and no one heard of them for the rest of the evening.

Then, late at night, the Blue Lions arrived. The conspiracy group had stayed outside to wait for them, except Lindhardt, who fell asleep while waiting.

The missing Blue Lions were a bunch of intimidating people. First, there was a boy (or a man?) that was about two meters tall and had white hair and green eyes. A mountain of a person, with a bulk that wasn’t obtained through lounging in a chair. Then, there was a white-haired man who was also tall and bulky, but not as much as the previous one, whose skin was whiter and his eyes were darker. The third one was a short boy with grey hair and green eyes, who was intimidating basically because of the people he was surrounded by. Lastly, there was a blonde woman, whose face was so serious that it seemed like she would slice in half whoever stood in her way.

Since she was the bravest member of the group, Leonie went to have a little conversation with them. Ferdinand followed her because he didn’t want to look like a lesser man.

“Hello there, fellow... classmates.” Leonie started awkwardly, as the men and the woman in front for her did not seem fazed by her aggressive greeting.

“Just... who are you?” The dwarf asked, but his patience ran short too quickly and decided Leonie wasn’t worth his time. “Never mind. Can you please move? We want to go to our rooms.”

“I am Ferdinand von Aegir.” Ferdinand tried to control the situation when Leonie was too flabbergasted to react.

Out of all people, why was the dwarf the one replying?

“I am well aware of who you are, Mr. von Aegir and I couldn’t care less.” The petite boy said, and then gestured to the whole group. “Can you gather your herd and get out of here?”

That made Lysithea finally step in. She didn’t like it when people acted all that high and mighty. And if it was going to be a banter between short people, then so be it.

“We just wanted to get to know all of our classmates, but you didn’t even show up at lunchtime. Now we are trying to know you better but you treat us like this?” Lysithea tried to reason, like she always did.

But that didn’t seem to get through.

“These hours don’t seem the best to be chatting, von Ordelia.” The albino of dark eyes said. “Now, get out of the way or we will have to do something about it.”

Speechless because of the threat, Lysithea moved to the side and the whole group passed. They dispersed and each went to their rooms, completely ignoring the rest of them.

“What is going on with them?” Leonie cried after seeing the exchange.

“I don’t know.” Hubert sighed, thinking about what he would say to Edelgard about the Blue Lions the next time he saw her. “Anything but good.”

 

The next day, the Professor formally introduced himself to his students. Hubert was tense over his encounter with the Blue lions and so he wasn’t as excited as the others. In fact, he suspected the Professor. Someone had clearly enabled the behavior of the Blue Lions. Maybe Professor Byleth had had a hand in the absence of the Blue Lions.

However, Edelgard did not seem to mind the very least. She was happily taking notes and encouraging Bernadetta to participate in class. The poor girl had a book on her face and refused to even look at the Professor. Ferdinand had taken a seat next to Hubert but he could tell that Ferdinand was watchful too, because it was weird that the Blue lions could do whatever they wanted and not get called out on it.

They weren’t even able to recognize that group. Sure... the girl was probably Ingrid Brandl Galatea, Glenn Fraldarius’ fiancée. As for the other three, there was no way to tell. The noble families in the Kingdom were all in strange situations. Fraldarius had lost a son and only Glenn remained, but he had already graduated. The Gautier siblings were both redheads, so there was no way Gautier was there. And Prince Dimitri was a tall, blonde boy (at least, Edelgard described him as such) so Hubert knew that he wasn’t among those people.

So that only meant that those were commoners. It was strange for commoners to behave like that. Acting with such superiority, as if they were much stronger than them.

And anyway, where was Prince Dimitri? His absence was worrying, specially since King Lambert had replied formally to the Archbishop, claiming that Dimitri was on his way to reach the Officers Academy.

 

Professor Byleth was very focused on his class and his students. His teachings were greatly appreciated by the Black Eagles and soon they all discovered how much he was helping them to develop talents they didn’t even know they had. He was preparing them for the Mock Battle, which was to happen at the end of the Month. Since he was the strategic head of the class, he decided to do some digging and find out about the other students in the other houses.

Lorenz had been very kind to explain him some things about the Golden Deer. He made an effort to get to know all of his housemates, except for Hilda and Blanche. Byleth had tried to talk to the two of them, but they were never around the Monastery during his free days. For the first month, he had been told that the seminars weren’t available yet and his only choice was to walk around the Monastery. That had given him time to talk to his students and to know them better, as well as some from the other classes.

From the Golden Deer, Byleth got to talk to Ignatz, Raphael, Marianne, Leonie and Lysithea a few times. The last two were very sceptic and they wouldn’t hesitate to point out how weird it was that Hilda and Blanche were always gone. So much that Byleth had never even seen their faces. Leonie seemed to trust him simply because he was Captain Jeralt’s son, and so, she told him everything about her suspicions.

“Hilda is almost never in class.” Leonie started off. It was the week before the Mock Battle, and since Manuela wasn’t giving them too much work, she had a lot of spare time. “I don’t know what she’s up to, but it can’t be anything good. I saw her yesterday next to the Mausoleum. I think she might try to go in there. If I were you, Professor, I would keep an eye on her.”

Everything that Byleth could do then was just nodding. He didn’t like talking much and he was always brief when he spoke. He didn’t know what to think about Leonie’s suspicions, but they were something to take in account if Hilda was really lingering around the Tomb.
Since it was the third week since the classes had begun, Rhea decided to send the Knights of Seiros to look for Dimitri. She feared that Dimitri had been attacked while he travelled to the academy and she was determined to rescue him if that had been the case. Byleth missed Alois’ presence a little bit, he missed Shamir and Catherine too.

Byleth sometimes saw the Blue Lions’ house members acting strange too, like some of his students (Ferdinand) had pointed out. They always walked together. The four of them. Mercedes and Annette were much more open to talking to him, and they were usually found in the dining hall together, which made it easier for Byleth to talk to them.

They had both recommended him to not talk to the other Blue Lions because they didn’t really like talking. They barely interacted with Hanneman, only enough for him to not report them to Seteth. Fortunately, Mercedes and Annette had agreed to talk about their housemates and they told him the identities of the mysterious members of the Blue Lions’ house.

First there was the oldest of the bunch, Sylvain Jose Gautier. Byleth hadn’t recognized him at first because he had thought he had red hair, but Sylvain’s hair was white like snow. Byleth had never seen such a color, since Dedue’s looked much more... natural. There was something weird about him, like Ferdinand had said.

Then there was Dedue Molinaro, a man that did not hail from nobility but had enough connections within it to be part of it, even if it was just as a vassal. As to whose, among the nobles he walked with, vassal he was, no one knew.

The only female of the group was Ingrid, who was to be wedded to Glenn Fraldarius after she graduated. Mercedes and Annette had only been able to talk to her about that. It was the only topic that she liked to talk about, and the only kind of talk that made her smile and let her guard down. She was still mourning the death of Felix, who was to be her brother-in-law and a good friend of hers.

Lastly, there was Ashe. He was from a noble house but no one knew from which. Some said he had a crest, but no one knew it for sure. He, as well as Sylvain, was the most inaccessible of the bunch. In Dimitri’s absence, he had taken the role of House Leader.

Professor Byleth was willing to fight them during the Mock Battle, and not only that, but he was willing to emerge victorious.

While Professor Byleth tried to get to know the students in the most amicable way possible, the other either got out of the way or, in the Conspiracy Group’s case, investigated them. They tracked Hilda’s every step and Lysithea had managed to recruit Bernadetta into the team, through giving her cake. Bernadetta was to watch the dorms and the greenhouse to see if Hilda or Blanche went there. So far, she had only found Blanche there once. Blanche had been talking to a small, dark flower. Bernadetta ran away as soon as she spotted Blanche, but she had seen her talking to the flower and reported that to Lysithea.

As for the others, each one had a spot to watch. Lindhardt and Lysithea watched the library (they fought over that), Caspar watched the training grounds, Leonie watched the pond, Ferdinand the stables and Hubert over everything else. Edelgard didn’t have a fixed route and she always walked around everywhere, so Hubert always followed her and had a chance to check on every place the others weren’t in. Since Leonie suspected Hilda could try to barge into the Tomb, she also stood there for long, using the excuse of talking to Marianne, who was usually inside the Cathedral.

Professor Byleth was oblivious to their operations, but he was glad that even though they all weren’t in the same house, they got along so well. It was too bad that they would have to fight each other in the Mock Battle.

Byleth picked the students that he thought would do best. He chose Petra, Hubert, Edelgard and Lindhardt (because he was the only healer, if not, he would have never been chosen). He was to join the team as the strategist and also as an actual member.
On the Golden Deer, they didn’t seem to go all out. Lorenz was there of course since he was the House Leader, with Leonie by his side. A bit forward there was Raphael and Ignatz. Blanche, Hilda and Marianne decided to not join in (or perhaps Manuela did not consider they were fit to fight). In the Blue Lions, the four participant members (aside from Hanneman) stood at the back. There was Ashe, carrying a spear (though Byleth considered that his body seemed to be that of an archer’s), Dedue carrying an axe, Sylvain likewise and Ingrid carrying a sword.

Byleth and his group came forward, as Ignatz and Raphael advanced. Since Edelgard and Hubert got there first, they easily defeated the two Golden Deer members, and advanced towards Lorenz and Leonie. The other two were a harder bone to pick, but they managed to defeat them anyways. Manuela exited her area as the Leader of the group, but before Byleth’s group reached her, she was knocked out. Someone from the Blue Lions had casted a spell on her, although Byleth wasn’t able to identify who it was.

Then the Blue Lions finally moved from their spot. Byleth sent his units that were specialized in magic after Dedue (Lindhardt and Hubert), while Petra was to fight Ingrid. Even though Petra managed more or less to have an even match with Ingrid, Dedue easily swept off Hubert and Lindhardt, to then advance toward Edelgard, who was trying to fight Sylvain with no results.

In a matter of mere seconds, the previously in perfect health Black Eagles were defeated by the Blue Lions. Byleth was impressed by the magical potential of the members participating, and how, even though Byleth had considered that it was impossible for Dedue to tank the magical shots, he did. He intended to ask Hanneman about it later.

Chapter Text

Irked, specially since her house had been defeated, Dorothea decided to actually listen to Leonie for once and see what the suspicious people were up to. Not only Blanche, but also the whole Blue Lions House. Sure, Mercedes and Annette were more accessible than the other four, but they still behaved weirdly, as if they were scared.

But why, Dorothea wondered. She decided to do some snooping, but she didn’t feel well doing it in her own, so she picked someone who knew what they were fighting against, but at the same time, someone whose presence wouldn’t be easily noticed (like Edelgard) and someone who didn’t know about the Conspiracy group.

So she chose Petra.

“I need your help for a mission.” She said in Petra’s ear. “Help me, please.”

“A mission?” Petra lifted her head from the table happily, her attention caught by the flamboyant word that promised great things. “Is this Professor’s assignment?”

“No, it’s just a thing, the two of us, don’t tell anyone.” Petra blushed lightly. “No, no! D-don’t get me wrong! I meant... I meant that only us will be in the mission because it’s a secret. It’s not a d-date.”

“Oh.” Petra said, though she looked like she was a bit crestfallen. Her mood lightened up immediately after however. “OK! I will help Dorothea with the mission.”

“Aw, thanks, Petra! You’re the best!”

Petra got up from her seat and helped Dorothea sneak out of the dining hall.

“You saw the Blue Lions, right? They’re totally weird! What kind of magic were they even using?” Dorothea liked reason particularly and she had never seen the spells that had been used during the mock battle.

“I never seen magic like that before.” Petra confirmed, remembering how it had hurt the fire ball that someone had shot at her. “It was very powerful.”

“See? I think that there is something wrong with the Blue Lions. So that is why we are following them. are you with me?”

“I think something is wrong too.” Petra would have never snooped on other people’s business, but it was indeed a strange situation. “I will come with you.”

 

The Blue Lions weren’t in their classroom, like it could have been expected. They weren’t around the dorms either. Petra and Dorothea walked around the garden, hoping to find clues about their whereabouts. Petra, who was used to hunting, had an eye for details and she spotted an open door to the private quarters of one of the knights.

When she stood there, looking at the door, Dorothea noticed and saw the door was open as well.

“There is literally no other place they could be, right...?” Dorothea hesitantly asked, searching an answer in Petra, a confirmation to sneak into the quarters. “We have to... we have to go in there.”

Petra just nodded. They had a big purpose, said purpose being to find out what the Blue Lions were doing. Dorothea took the leap of faith and went into the quarters. They were dusty and it seemed that there was nothing out of the ordinary, but if they were abandoned, why was the door open?

Then Petra leaned against the wall and it turned around.

“Oh no.” Petra gasped, not wanting to know what hid behind the wall. “I think I found secret passage.”

Dorothea stopped pulling books from the shelves and pushed the wall lightly, until the passage was big enough for the two of them to go through.

They arrived at a large, cryptic room. They started hearing voices as soon as they stepped in, so they hid consciously as to not be seen.

“We can’t declare for certain that Dimitri is dead.” Sylvain was saying, as if Dimitri’s name was poison on his tongue. “We should send someone to check if the deed was done.”

“That is a good idea.” Ashe answered. “After all... my old man knows nothing yet.”

“Why would King Lambert know before us?” Ingrid interjected, sounding hesitant. “Shouldn’t we be told as well?”

“Dear Ingrid, you have no idea of how nobility works, do you? Lambert will always know before I do, because he’s who he is and I’m a nobody. As to the upper charges in Faerghus, none of us means anything to them. We are just walking crests. Gold mines to be exploited.”

“Are we really going to talk about that?” Ingrid swallowed saliva hesitantly. “I thought we were over that. No discussing Crests anymore.”

“Well, I thought it was relevant to this situation.” Ashe shrugged, he didn’t seem to care about the touchiness of the subject. “Anyway. Who are we sending to check on Dimitri?”

“Mercedes’ brother could help us.” Sylvain said quickly. “I propose him to go.”

“Alright, no objections here.” Ashe said and Dedue nodded.

“B-but, why Jeritza? Does he even trust us?”

“No.” Sylvain said simply but his serious face turned into a twisted grin. “But he trusts his sister. That is enough.”

“I like the way you’re thinking.” Ashe returned the evil grin.

 

Petra and Dorothea were livid by the time the two noble males were exchanging grins. They understood what the conversation they had just heard meant. Those four had planned an assassination, they intended to kill Prince Dimitri. And, by the looks of it, Ashe was somehow related to him.

“We need to tell Archbishop Rhea right now.” Dorothea mouthed to Petra, but Petra didn’t seem to understand.

Frustrated beyond belief, Dorothea pulled Petra’s arm and ran away from the scene. Petra followed Dorothea without asking questions, probably hoping to get to the Cathedral.

 

When they went outside, they were in a hurry to reach the Cathedral. On their way there, they bumped into Edelgard, who was worried and looking for them.

“Where were the two of you? I was worried sick!” Edelgard exclaimed, but Petra and Dorothea looked like they had seen a ghost.

Perhaps the ghost of Prince Dimitri if they didn’t hurry and tell Rhea as soon as possible. Dorothea wanted to tell Edelgard but she felt like she was running as risk and if the Blue Lions were going to hear her snitching on them, she thought it would be better in Rhea and Seteth’s presences.

“Come with us!” She told Edelgard in the end, taking her hand and urging her to run.

Edelgard hesitantly followed them.

 

Fortunately, they soon were in Archbishop Rhea’s room and she was there, exuding her calm aura. She looked concerned when she saw the three girls rushing into the room, panting because they needed more air to breathe.

“We know what happened to Prince Dimitri!” Dorothea cried out quickly. “Petra and I... we just heard... something terrible!”

“Calm down, Dorothea.” Seteth was even shaken by their panic. “What have you just heard?”

“They were talking about sending someone to check if Prince Dimitri is dead! They were talking about it as if they sent someone to kill him!” Dorothea shouted hurriedly, tripling over her words several times before being able to get out what she meant.

The statements were dropped like bombs. Archbishop Rhea’s calm face quickly dissolved into anger, confusion and panic. Seteth took a deep breath in with furrowed brows, not wanting to believe what Dorothea had just said to be truthful.

“Who was talking like that?” Rhea asked, trying to get answers midst the chaos.

“I-it was... the Blue Lions... Ashe, Sylvain, Ingrid... I think Dedue was there too, but... but... it was the four of them!” Dorothea shouted. “We didn’t want to snoop but... they were acting strange! Very strange! And looks like I was right. They are plotting to murder Prince Dimitri...!”

 

Seteth tried to help Dorothea calm down, but she cracked under the pressure and had a panic attack. Rhea soothingly stood by her side, not wanting to force her to say more. The news were worrying indeed and the matter had to be investigated, but there was still no evidence against or in favor of Dorothea’s claims.

 

That was why Seteth and Rhea decided to assign a mission to Byleth. He was to visit the last village that Prince Dimitri was seen at. The class would be sent to help get rid of the bandits in the way in, but if some serious fighting were to occur, Byleth and the Knights of Seiros would take care of it.

Byleth consciously prepared his students for the tryst. Since Petra had been able to tell Seteth and Rhea that the Blue Lions planned to send Jeritza, they kept an eye on him and made him stay.

At the end of the month, Byleth was ready and he trusted his students to be ready as well. Dorothea wanted nothing but to leave, fearing that the Blue Lions would know she snitched and would go after her. She felt safer in a village miles away from the Officers’ Academy, rather than in the monastery.

They reached The village finally. Some monsters tried to fend them off, but Byleth’s training allowed them to go through. Byleth started asking around about Dimitri to the villagers, while the students stayed with the knights.

Edelgard insisted in accompanying Byleth. She considered Dimitri a brother to her (maybe it was because she had many siblings) and she wanted to find him as soon as possible. Byleth allowed her to tag along, because her discreet appearance didn’t stand out in a village of Faerghus. Anyone could have brown hair and purple eyes.

Asking around only let them know that Dimitri did stay there, but he had left. Byleth made sure to visit each and every house, but none of them provided enough leads as to the prince’s whereabouts.

So Byleth took the decision to start checking on the inns. It was unlikely, but it was the last thing they had left.

And Dimitri was there, having what seemed to be chamomile tea.

“Dima!” Edelgard cries in pure joy. “You are alive!”

Dimitri trembled as Edelgard’s hug, probably reminiscing the circumstances that led to Edelgard being afraid of him not being alive.

“What happened to you?” Byleth asked, sitting down with him.

“It is not a matter to discuss openly.” Dimitri said mysteriously. “I will tell you when we can leave.”

“Why can’t we leave right now?” Edelgard asked.

“Because I’m waiting for my companion.” Dimitri said, and if he said ‘parents’ instead of companion, it wouldn’t have changed much, it seemed that he was too scared to leave without whoever was going with him.

“A companion? Who? Someone from Faerghus?” Edelgard was then asking, impatiently. She clearly wanted to know who was traveling with Dimitri.

The answer to her question appeared in a matter of seconds. A woman arrived to the dining hall, clad in an armor, which had a gap in the stomach. She carried a jacket over her shoulders, with strange patterns drawn all over it. Her hair was blue and so were her eyes, making her look exactly like... Byleth.
“... oh Goddess.” Edelgard gasped first, noticing the obvious similarities between Byleth and the mysterious woman.

To further increase her surprise, the woman sat down next to Dimitri.

“Dimitri, who are these people?” She asked, glaring oddly at her look-alike.

“This is my old friend, Edelgard.” Dimitri pointed at the brunette. “And I’m assuming that’s Professor Byleth.”

With a nod of confirmation from the man, the woman’s frown only got deeper and bigger. She had a hard time piecing together who that man was, and she was just told he was a professor. That made him older than she was... right?

“Well.” She cleared her throat. “I am Ashen.”

“Wait, you just said...” Dimitri was punched in the gut by the strange woman, who turned and smiled at the newcomers. “Ow.” He winced in pain.

“I want to know what happened. Can we go somewhere else so you can tell me about it?” Edelgard’s eyes were directed toward Dimitri, who just nodded.

The group of four got to one of the rooms of the inn. That room apparently belonged to Dimitri and his strange companion, because ‘Dimitri was too scared to sleep on his own’. Understandably, he had just survived an assassination attempt.

As soon as it was ‘safe’, Dimitri told Edelgard and her teacher what had happened to him.

“I was in my carriage and it suddenly stopped. One of my vassals got outside to check what was going on, but they were shot with a fire ball. I was told to try to flee, but there were too many enemies and all my vassals just... sacrificed themselves for me. I was only saved because B... Ashen, appeared to save me. She was able to fight off the mages and she took me here. We’ve been hiding since then.”

“Do you have fighting expertise?” Professor Byleth asked the woman.

“Of course!” She scoffed. “I’m a mercenary.”

“I thank you for saving Dimitri, but if you want anything in exchange, I’m sure my father would be willing to afford your fee on Dimitri’s behalf.” Edelgard said slowly and shyly.

“Oh. No. I don’t want any payment. I saw this poor boy in trouble and I just decided to help him.” Ashen shrugged it off flippantly, but Dimitri blushed and looked down.

“That is very kind of you, Ashen.” Edelgard smiled brightly at the woman. “But I must ask: Are you aware of Dimitri’s real identity?”

“Uh... what identity?” Ashen rubbed her head in confusion. “Isn’t he just a noble?”

“I didn’t want to tell you, because I thought you would stop treating me like an equal. I am Dimitri Alexander Blayddid, crown prince of Faerghus.” Dimitri then pointed at Edelgard. “She is Edelgard von Hresvelg, heiress to the Adrestian Empire. We were both to attend to the Officers’ Academy, but I was unable to get there.”

“And it was no coincidence.” Edelgard’s eyebrows furrowed together. “It was planned by your own housemates. By your old childhood friends. I can’t believe it.”

“Well, I can. And in fact, I suspected it was them from the very beginning. In the last years they haven’t been precisely happy with me. I suppose this has to do with Felix’s death.”

“That’s definitely shitty friends.” Ashen commented, biting her lip, still processing what it meant to have saved the crown prince. Would she be named a knight? She didn’t want to be a knight? Would they drag her to the Academy to thank her?

As for Dimitri’s friends... did they hate him just because someone died? Knowing Dimitri, Ashen doubted it would be in him to kill somebody, so she just assumed it was an accident. If they were blaming him because of that, they were, as she said, shitty friends.

“Anyway.” Edelgard shook her head, shaking unpleasant thoughts away. “You should come back with us to the Officers’ Academy. I doubt they would dare to hurt you in there.”

“I agree.” Professor Byleth said. “You could even join our class if you don’t feel comfortable around them.”

“No.” Dimitri said, straightening his shoulders. “I won’t leave the Blue Lions House. I am meant to be there. But since I must to go to Garreg Mach, I insist that you accompany me, B... Ashen.”

“Me?” Ashen asked in pure surprise.

“Yes. I think you are very talented. Surely, Archbishop Rhea would be able to assign you a better paying-job than being a mercenary. I would like to have you close to me, because you really make me feel safer.”

That made Ashen think. It was true that being a mercenary was a very taxing job that barely got her any money, just enough to survive. She didn’t know who Archbishop Rhea was, but she seemed important. She liked Dimitri, so she wouldn’t mind to be around him, and he hadn’t explicitly said she would be a knight. Maybe she would have a tamer job, like singing in the chorus. She considered herself a good singer.

Also, there was that... Professor Byleth. He looked like her so much that it was scary. She had to look into that and if he worked at that place as a professor, there was no doubt she would be able to investigate him.

“Alright.” She accepted, which made Dimitri smile at her and Edelgard beam excitedly.

Since she had helped her friend, there was no way Edelgard wouldn’t like her, despite her rough mannerisms.

They got prepared to leave, and while Edelgard and Dimitri chatted happily, Professor Byleth noticed Ashen grabbing a strange sword. It was green and it had a golden handle with pink specks. Byleth had never seen a sword like that before, and he wondered where Ashen had gotten it from.

 

When the four of them joined the group, the Black Eagles were incredibly shocked to see Prince Dimitri and Ashen. She was too similar to Professor Byleth, there was no way to deny so.

“Professor! You’re back!” Bernadetta chirped happily. “W-Wait? Who’s that?”

“My fellow classmates, this is Prince Dimitri and Ashen. She helped Dimitri while he was in danger so you can trust her.”

“Wow! That sword is so cool!” Caspar’s eyes directly went to the sword in the woman’s hand, not even looking at her face.

“Caspar, why aren’t you noticing the obvious?” Lindhardt huffed, whining because he was scared no one else would see.

“This woman is truly a sight to behold.” Ferdinand said next to Lindhardt, which made Lindhardt hope he would notice the resemblance between Byleth and her. “I must introduce myself. I am Ferdinand von Aegir.”

“Are we introducing us? I am Petra!” Petra jumped. “I give you my thanks for helping Edelgard’s friend.”

“In that case, I am Dorothea, I must also thank you.” She blinked a few times. “Are you and Professor Byleth related?”

“No.” Professor Byleth quickly answered.

“That is weird.” Hubert mused under his breath, but he smiled at Edelgard when she looked at him, as if nothing was happening.

Chapter Text

Archbishop Rhea received Prince Dimitri and Ashen with the utmost secrecy, since Professor Byleth had been very careful to help them sneak into the Monastery separately, in case someone was attempting against Dimitri’s life once again.

“Oh dear. It has been long since I last saw you.” Archbishop Rhea whispered somberly. “The two of you...”

“Do you know me?” The woman asked in confusion, since she was certain she had never seen Rhea in her life.

“But of course I do, Beleth.” Rhea gifted the two of them a warm smile and a soft tone. “I was there when you and your brother were born.”

“My brother is Professor Byleth? Why didn’t my mother ever tell me?” Beleth looked hurt and even more confused than before.

“Your mother ran away with you to keep you safe. It was a hard decision for your parents, but they decided that splitting the two of you would be the only way to keep you safe. They’ve been communicating through letters, but neither your brother or you knew about each other. It seems that you have grown into a strong woman. I am very glad you made it.”

Beleth didn’t have to ask about who was behind her, because she knew it. In her time as a mercenary, she had been attacked by all kinds of unusual enemies. She knew that the Agarthans were after her, because she bore the Crest of Flames, but she didn’t exactly know the story behind her crest.

“As for you, Prince Dimitri.” Rhea turned to Dimitri. “I am also very glad that you were saved. It is truly the work of the Goddess what made possible having you back here, in the academy, safe and sound. And our dear Beleth’s too.”

“I can’t believe my parents named me Beleth and named my brother Byleth... so original.” She scoffed under her breath while Rhea was speaking, praising the Goddess for her kindness.

“I am impressed by your skill and your clear connection to the Goddess. She has clearly blessed you. I would gladly give you any reward you ask for.”

“Uh... I was hoping for a job here in the academy. Being a mercenary is quite rough... but if you don’t have anything for me, then that’s fine.” Beleth sighed in defeat.

“Of course you can stay here. In fact, I was thinking of hiring more knights to ensure Prince Dimitri’s safety. If you want the position, I would gladly give it to you, since you’ve remarkably proven your capability to protect him.”

“Alright.” She nodded.
“Now, please, settle down here. I will continue to investigate who perpetrated this heinous crime.” Rhea said, and it seemed like she would faint.

Dimitri and Beleth stepped out of Rhea’s room. When they were outside, the Blue-haired woman turned to Dimitri, sighing heavily.

“This is insane. I... didn’t even know my father was alive.” She expressed, crestfallen.

Dimitri looked at her with sympathy in his eyes. He knew his mother was dead, but if he was suddenly told that she wasn’t, it would make him feel very unsettled.

“I want to talk to him.” She continued. “Do you want to come with me?”

Hesitating, Dimitri slowly nodded. He wasn’t really sure whether he wanted to intrude in a family moment between his new friend and her father. However, there was a group of his classmates threatening to hurt him. The only person he trusted was Beleth, so, even though he didn’t like to be a third wheel, he felt safer around her.

 

Captain Jeralt was in his room and when he heard the knock on the door, he allowed the people knocking to come in. The surprise on his face was majuscule, when he noticed it was none other than his daughter coming in. She was the vivid image of her mother and Jeralt thought there were tears prickling his eyes when he took his eyes off her.

“Father, why?” She asked, voice stuttering. “Why did you leave me?”

Jeralt said nothing. Beth, like her mother referred to her in the letters, stepped forward and Jeralt caught her in a hug, the two of them sobbing lightly.

After the emotive hug between father and daughter, Jeralt noticed the elephant in the room. The blonde boy, with blue eyes, looking at him like a lost lamb.

However, he chose to ignore it for a moment and give explanations to his daughter.

“I never wanted to. I just wanted to protect you.” Jeralt said sternly, then his eyed flickered towards the boy, and his impatience got the worst of him. “I’m assuming this is Prince Dimitri. What relationship do you have with him?”

“I’m kind of a knight now.” She announced proudly, which made Jeralt realize she was much expressive than her brother was. “And I saved Prince Dimitri, so I will be his escort now.”

“As long as you’re happy.” Jeralt mumbled nonchalantly, not wanting to think beyond what his eyes could see. “How’s your mother?”

“She’s fine. Well, always complaining about me getting in danger, but fine overall. I think I’ll go back to my village soon and fetch her back, because I doubt she can go on too long without me.” Beleth smirked smugly, as if it made her happy to think about how much her mother cared about her.

“That would be...” Jeralt gulped at the thought of seeing his wife again. “...nice.”

“OK!” Beth chirped happily. “So tell me about your job, dad!”

 

Meanwhile, Professor Byleth wasn’t doing so good dealing with the fact he had a sister. He had been trying to hide his conflicting emotions, under a mask of indifference. He had been tutoring each of his students privately with even more might, wanting to prove that he wasn’t weaker than his father or his sister, despite losing the mock battle.

He had also been watching the Blue Lion students more closely. Sylvain seemed to be the strongest, so his analysis had told him. He knew very advanced levels of dark and black magic and he was one of the highest ranks in reason. He surpassed even Annette, who had received specific training in the magic academy. Strangely enough, he wasn’t interested in having Hanneman tutor him with magic, but rather, he was more interested in learning how to ride a wyvern and handling an axe. Those two activities seemed useless for someone who had such a talent for magic.

Ingrid was training to become a Pegasus knight. She was fast and agile, perhaps because she had trained with her fiancée before arriving at the academy. She wouldn’t be too hard to beat, if he trained well Bernadetta with her bow. As for Ashe, he still had the physique of an archer, but was learning magic nonetheless, like Annette and Mercedes. Dedue was a very strong unit, the shield of the team.

The only problem was Dimitri. Byleth had no idea of what he was aspiring to be. He discovered shortly after that his sister was acting as an escort and a private tutor for him, because she was very proficient in swords, and Dimitri was being taught swordsmanship by her.

 

Byleth thought Edelgard had much more potential than him. She was a excited student, who really wanted to learn. She was also trying to become a lord, focusing more on handling an axe instead of a sword yet training for both nonetheless. She was strong and dedicated, so Byleth didn’t doubt her capabilities.

As for Hubert, he wanted to be a dark mage. Byleth suspected he was better than Annette but deep inside he knew that Hubert would never surpass the secret potential of Sylvain. How he had achieved that, Byleth would never know.

Petra was very good handling swords, Bernadetta was training to be a bow knight, Dorothea trained for both reason and sword, while Ferdinand was... he wanted to be a paladin, but Byleth wasn’t sure about him. What he knew is that he had a healer in his team (Lindhardt) and a brute force unit, aka Caspar.

 

The Golden Deer didn’t scare him too much. Raphael was the brute force of their team, Leonie was training with a bow but she aspired to be like his father (so she would be a paladin), Ignatz was... he didn’t even want to fight, Byleth didn’t see him as a threat. Marianne was the healer of their team, while Lysithea was a very quick unit whose art with the bow rivaled Bernadetta’s.

As for Blanche and Hilda, they were the trump cards. Byleth had no idea of what those two girls were up to. He had never even seen Blanche, while Hilda made incredible efforts to hide herself but still Marianne seemed to like her so she always found her and dragged her out of whatever hole she hid in.

 

Another reason why Byleth was investigating students was because Rhea had asked him to. Someone had planned to murder Dimitri and Rhea had directly intel pointing at the Blue Lions.

Rhea was also carrying out her own investigation, so she informed him early in the month of his monthly mission.

Surprisingly, he called his sister in as well. She had tried to talk to him a few times, but Byleth didn’t want to. He was too busy.

“We have found who was behind the murder attempt.” Seteth announced, looking at the twins. “This was the Western Church’s assassination plot to take over the throne of the Kingdom. As such, the culprits must be apprehended.”

Byleth had already participated in missions to punish those who the church considered to be criminals, so he wasn’t too surprised.
“Why did the Western church want to kill Prince Dimitri?” Beth asked in confusion.

“They’ve been straying away from the Goddess’ path for a while now. Lord Lonato’s son conducted a serious of uprisings against the Goddess and he was put down, for his heresy. Lord Lonato also fostered one of our students, who seemed to dislike particularly Prince Dimitri.” Rhea explained.

That made Beth sigh while Byleth glared at her.

“The Black Eagles house should be appropriate for his mission.” Seteth looked at Byleth, and nodded. “As for you, Beth, your request has been approved and the Knights of Seiros will accompany you.”

Beth smiled lightly, which made Byleth wonder what mission she had requested to take.

“It is a shame that you two do not seem to get along. If not, Professor Byleth might have been assigned to go with you.” Seteth said, looking at Beth.

Professor Byleth’s serious face didn’t break for a second, as he waited until the two of them were dismissed. He saw hurt briefly flashing in his sister’s eyes, then proceeded to walk off while huffing. He didn’t know her, there was literally no reason for him to get along with her.

When he arrived to the Cathedral, he found Mercedes there, praying. It wasn’t frequent to see her alone, without Annette’s little figure following her. Byleth realized that he had never seen Mercedes looking so vulnerable, with her eyes closed shut as she held her hands together.

The cathedral was almost empty. Some employees of the church were chatting at the back, namely the choir director and the lady that managed the mail. Mercedes thought she was alone, until she turned around and saw Byleth there. Frightened, she left running.

Byleth wanted to ask her why she was so scared, but he knew he rarely had chances to speak to her. She was clearly shyer and much more timid than Annette, which only made it more difficult to approach her. She was rarely seen alone, much like Dimitri, who was always either with Byleth’s sister or with Edelgard and Hubert. Edelgard spoke highly of Dimitri, but Byleth didn’t know him too much.

Defeated, Byleth then sat down, to reflect. He felt that someone was looking at him, perhaps because he heard footsteps behind him. There he saw his insufferable sister. However, unlike all the other time she approached him, she was completely silent and she seemed to be wearing the girl’s uniform.

“What do you want?” He asked, clearly annoyed, furrowing his nose.

To his surprise, Beth didn’t say anything sarcastic or one of the responses she would normally give him. She spoke, with a much lighter voice than she normally would.

“Are you heading to the Leicester Alliance anytime soon?”

Byleth didn’t even understand why she was asking that. She had been at the meeting, she was supposed to know. However, looking at her more closely, Byleth noticed that there was something that was different to her normal face. Her eyes were wider, and her lips were slightly puffier. Her hairstyle was different too, seemingly longer and curlier than usual. How did that even happen?

“No, why?” He grumbled, wondering what’s kind of joke she was trying to make.

“Just curious.” Again, her voice was softer than it had ever been. She walked off slowly, moving her wrists and swinging her legs like a child.

Unbeknownst to Byleth, it was the first time he had ever seen Blanche.

The next week, Byleth noticed his sister was already gone. At least, Catherine told him so, annoyed because she had taken Alois and Shamir with her, leaving her completely lonely and with no one to talk to but Jeritza. However, Jeritza was a weirdo, according to Catherine, and she didn’t really like him.

As for Byleth, he didn’t know him personally, but apparently Jeritza had an older sister he was very fond of. He was always brooding in his quarters.

 

The rest of the month progressed tensely. The Blue Lions were aware of the fact they were being investigated and their behavior was impeccable. Ashe even befriended Lorenz during that period, while Dedue decided to take over the kitchen and cook for everybody. Ingrid was seen more frequently hanging out with Annette and Mercedes, and with Marianne too. The fact they loved horses helped their friendship a lot.

The only one who acted like he normally would was Sylvain. As everyone grew to know, he was always reading books, whether it was in the library or his room. Byleth figured
that was how he became so proficient with magic.

Edelgard just frowned whenever they walked anywhere near her. Her gut told her that it had been them, that they were linked to the murder attempt somehow, or so she had told Byleth. The conspiracy group also grew more weary, and Leonie decided to tail Lorenz to make sure Ashe wouldn’t do anything to him. Lysithea and Lindhardt watched Sylvain in the library for suspicious behavior, but he only read. Also, Lindhardt fell sleep more often than not. Caspar started sparring with Dedue and Raphael but he got beat up so often he was beginning to hate it and heavily considering quitting. Dorothea and Petra didn’t like being around them, so they just stayed out of harm’s way. Dorothea even started hiding at Bernadetta’s room sometimes, sporadically, so it was an often occurrence to not find her in her room at night.

Ignatz started hanging out with Flayn, Seteth’s sister. Flayn encouraged him to paint, so he was frequently found around the monastery working on paintings. Leonie had taken the duty to inspect paintings to find clues of unnatural events happening.

 

One week before Byleth departed with his students, Beth returned. He briefly saw her walking with a tiny woman walking beside her.

“We are going to see Rhea now.”

“Oh! It’s been so long since I last saw her! I wonder if she’s doing fine.”

“I’d say so, she’s the Archbishop now.”

“I never understood why she changed her name. Does she have any idea of how long it took me to come up with her name!? I mean, it’s not like I don’t like her name now, but...”

“It’s better than mine.”

“I’m sorry, dear, it wasn’t my fault.”

They walked in, to find Rhea. Rhea was holding a statue and she immediately dropped it in surprise, her green eyes wide as saucers. She composed herself slowly, taking deep breaths.

“Mother!? Beleth, what is the meaning of this!?” Rhea turned to Beleth.

“What? Sothis is my mother.” Beleth explained, not quite understanding why Rhea was so surprised.

“Mother! What happened to Beth’s real mother?” Rhea asked, in a silent scream.

“Ran off somewhere, I’m not sure. By the way, I love how you decorated this place, it’s so nice!” Sothis said, awing at the decoration in Rhea’s room. “Also, saw the mural of the Goddess and I gotta say she looks nothing like me.”

“Can you focus, mother, please!?” Rhea screamed desperately. “How did you find Beleth and what happened to Jeralt’s wife?”

“See, I was in my temple.” Sothis began reminiscing. “I was sleeping. Then I heard this... attack. I have no idea what it was. But it was loud. Real loud. Then I went out and I found a baby with the Crest of Flames. There was a woman with green hair attacking the Knights of Seiros and right then I knew I had to protect the baby of the Crest of Flames. I am pretty sure the knights fell in battle, but I managed to save the baby from those monster’s claws. I’ve raised her in my temple ever since, but we moved to a village so she would meet boys and she would wed.”

“wasn’t it because you wanted be to live like an adult and have a life in the human world?” Beth was suddenly taken aback, because she didn’t know that Sothis’ real purpose had been to make her find a husband.

“Well, that too. But seems like you have that blonde boy, so I’m guessing my purpose has been achieved now.”

“Mother!” Rhea screamed. “Oh dear. Please excuse her, Beth, she’s always been like this.”

“I know. She literally raised me.” Beth crossed her arms. “And saved me from my deranged birth mother, apparently.”

“I have to ask you to not talk like that about your mother. She wasn’t like that. I have no idea of what happened for her to do that... if I had known it would happen, I would have never allowed her to leave with you. I’m terribly sorry, Beth.”

“If I hadn’t known better, I would have said those were Agarthans. What did you do with Nemesis, ‘Rhea’?” Sothis dragged out the vowels in Rhea’s name.

“We killed him, after he tried to kill you.” Rhea recounted. “I have no idea of what happened to the Agarthans.”

“I think they were after Beth because she has the crest of flames. If my theory is correct, then they are after all the people you shared your blood with, Seiros.” Sothis’ green eyes locked with Rhea’s.

“I believe that as well.” Rhea said, sighing heavily. “If I had known this would happen...”

“You can’t dwell on it now! However, I must say that his place is extremely nice. With all this guards and knights, I would say that it’s even safer than my temple! Do you have anywhere I can stay?”

“You want to stay, mother?” Hope shone in Rhea’s eyes, as her voice grew softer. “That would make me unbelievably happy.”

“Well, I should fix some things here and there but overall it should be Ok if I am not wrong...” Sothis mumbled thoughtfully. “What is Beth’s position here about? Is she a teacher? A private tutor for her boyfriend?”

“Mother, it’s it’s not like that.” Rhea sighed forlornly. “She’s a security measure. The blonde boy, Dimitri, he’s the prince of Faerghus. He was almost assassinated. Beth is protecting him.”

“Oh. Sounds better than being a mercenary.” Sothis nodded, satisfied.

 

Byleth saw them go out, Sothis laughing loudly while Rhea’s expression was grim. Seteth awkwardly saluted the tiny woman, who waved back excitedly. Byleth wanted to ask his sister who that woman was, but he didn’t want to talk to her.

“Professor.” Edelgard and Hubert arrived, followed by Dimitri, who was more often than not scared to be left alone. “Hubert and I were wondering if you could solve a doubt we have about a new magic spell. I’ve been trying to tell Hubert it’s like this, but he won’t listen.”

“Oh, it’s him!” Sothis pointed at where they were excitedly and ran towards them, as fast as her little legs could take her. “Beth, introduce us at once!”

Byleth thought they were talking about him, so he opened his mouth, but Rhea spoke up again.

“Mo... I mean, Sandra!” Rhea made up the name quickly. “You can’t molest our students!”

“But I want to meet my son-in-law!” Sothis protested.

Dimitri realized Sothis was talking about him, making the quick connection about Sothis being Beth’s mother, and his face turned red.

“So, you are the prince of the Kingdom of Faerghus. That is actually wonderful but I don’t care about how much noble titles you have, before I approve of you I must be certain that you will treat my daughter...” Sothis had to stop speaking because her own biological daughter lifted her in the air and dragged her away.

“I’m sorry about her.” Rhea apologized. “Terribly sorry. I will make sure to help her improve her behavior.”

Edelgard turned to Beth with a bright smile.

“Your mother is a very cheerful person, isn’t she?” Edelgard said happily.

“Such cheerfulness makes me feel sick to the stomach.” Hubert said dully, and Edelgard glared at him.

“She is exactly like me.” Beth said proudly.

Byleth scoffed. Of course, that wasn’t his mother.

 

Before the departure, Byleth visited the cathedral to pray like he always did. He saw the Blue Lions reunited there, except for Sylvain and Ashe.

“I think that this is useless.” Annette mumbled defeatedly. “They will never go back to normal.”

“We can’t lose faith.” Mercedes replied soothingly. “We can hope the Goddess will guide their hearts back to their rightful places.”

“I miss Felix too.” Ingrid said somberly. “And I miss Dimitri too. Seeing him here, but not being able to talk to him... it’s crushing my heart. I’m sure you feel the same.”

“I do.” Dedue sighed. “But I must be faithful to Lord Ashe.”

“I’m worried about him.” Ingrid mentioned off-handedly. “Lonato was his mentor. If he gets hurt, then Ashe will...”

“I will make sure Ashe doesn’t lose control.” Dedue promised Ingrid. “I’m ready.”

 

Byleth didn’t want to think about what would happen after they killed Lord Lonato. He didn’t really want to do it, but if Rhea said it, then it would be done.

He walked out of the church and saw Ashe’s green eyes stabbing daggers at him.

“Why aren’t you with your friends inside?” Byleth asked.

“They’re not my friends.” Ashe scowled. “And you are not my professor, so why should you even care?”

“Maybe I’m not your professor, but I am a professor of this school and you are a student. Are you sure they’re not your friends?”

“I can’t be friends with people that have perfect lives and don’t understand what’s it like to carry a burden.” Ashe rolled his eyes and turned away.

 

Catherine led the Knights of Seiros when they charged against Lord Lonato’s troops and didn’t hesitate to strike a blow directly on his head with her magnificent sword. Edelgard watched the spectacle with fear in her eyes and horror in her face, as if she didn’t want to take part in the assassination of a person for religious reasons. Of course, she was furious that they had tried to kill her friend, but she believed that if an eye was sacrificed for another eye, the world would go blind.

Though she had already been taking down mysterious creatures that lurked around the village where Dimitri was hiding with her friends, it was the first time she was fully aware of how the church could dispose of anybody just because Rhea wanted. She didn’t agree with the way things were being done, and as Lord Lonato’s head was hit with Catherine’s sword, she let out a whimper. Then she looked at the bodies around her and realized all the damage they were causing because of a disagreement between the western church and the church of Seiros and realized how much she hated violence.

“Are you alright?” Hubert asked her, with concern written all over his features.

“I am alright.” She said, but her voice was shaking. “I don’t like this at all.”

“Nobody here does.” Hubert ignored Ferdinand’s victorious screech when he realized he’d taken down more soldiers than Edelgard. “But it’s necessary to maintain peace.”

“Peace, through violence?” Edelgard sighed.

 

One of the soldiers of the church found an assassination plot directed to Lady Rhea and informed Catherine, who took with a grain of salt. Catherine showed Byleth the paper and stomped on the ground.

“These anarchists!” She scowled, waving the paper around. “We need to tell Lady Rhea right away.”

“Doesn’t this seem like a ruse to distract us? Isn’t the Goddess’ Rite of Rebirth coming up soon?” Byleth asked.

“THIS CLEARLY MUST BE A RUSE!” Catherine screamed, as if it had been her idea, and all the knights of Seiros gaped at her, amazed by her capability to guess what was really going on.

Well, that was how Catherine took the credit. They left for the Monastery and Lady Rhea was informed of the paper they had found. Lady Rhea shared Catherine’s theory and talked it out with Seteth. Together, they decided to send the Black Eagles and Beth to investigate the situation, because they were the only ones they could fully trust.

“We think that there must be something specific that the Western Church is chasing.” Seteth told Beth and Byleth. “So that is why we want you to make a list of the places that could run risks and decide how to guard them.”

 

When Byleth exited Rhea’s room, he felt weird, as if someone was watching him. Beth didn’t seem bothered and she engaged a chat with her mother right away, who was quick to suggest places she could go, because apparently Beth’s mother had been looking around because she was new to the monastery.

Byleth eavesdropped on their conversation.

“I must say, there are a few interesting places. The Goddess’ Tower, seems important, and it is actually a very romantic place I’d say, so when Dimitri confesses you should tell him to-“

“Can you please focus, mom?” Beth sighed, a light blush coating her cheeks.

“Oh, right. There’s also the Mausoleum, you know, the place I was supposed to be buried in.” Sothis whispered.

 

Byleth didn’t hear that last part and turned away, to go and speak with students that would actually provide important information.

The first person he found was Lysithea, who seemed to think the library was very important and many important books could be stolen from there. Then he found Raphael, who suggested that the kitchen was an important place to raid.

But then, there was Leonie, who actually mentioned something important.

“I’ve watched Hilda for a while now.” Leonie confessed. “I just think she behaves strangely. She’s always lingering around the Holy Mausoleum, as if she was waiting for it to be open. I think that someone -like Hilda- could use the chance to infiltrate in there.”

“Do you believe Hilda is allied with the Western Church?” Byleth asked.

“I’m not sure, but she seems very suspicious.”

Byleth took note to ask Lady Rhea about the Mausoleum. But he asked around some more, in case someone had important information to share.

“Hi professor.” Marianne shyly said. “Have you seen Blanche? I’ve trying to find her but... it looks like she’s vanished. I’m worried about her and Hilda, I haven’t seen them in a while.”

“Who’s this Blanche?” Byleth asked, feeling beyond curious.

“Oh. I think you already know she’s a golden Deer student. She’s very shy and she’s my friend, so please help me find her... Professor Manuela is looking for her because she has an assignment to do in but she’s been gone since yesterday...”

“And Hilda?”

“I haven’t seen Hilda since this morning.” Marianne’s brown eyes pleadingly looked at Byleth. “Please, help me find them.”

“Alright.” Byleth nodded. Marianne’s sad face lit up and she smiled for half-second, before her face reverted back to her usual serious expression.

 

A few meters away from Marianne, Leonie was eavesdropping on the conversation, similar to what Byleth did sometimes. Her admiration for Byleth and Jeralt went that far as to have her do the same things they did.

 

It didn’t take long for Byleth to share the situation with Edelgard, who gave her input immediately. Hubert was with her as per usual, while Dimitri wasn’t there, meaning he probably was with Byleth’s sister, being a dog as per usual.

“I think that the Holy Mausoleum could be a place the Western Church would be interested in raiding. I’ve heard the Goddess was buried inside in there.”

Edelgard told the other Black Eagles and they all agreed that they would guard the Holy Mausoleum, because not only the Western Church was after it, but also Hilda, by the looks of it. Leonie approached Byleth and practically begged him to help in the mission because she needed to confirm her suspicions about Hilda. She was also his biggest fan -perhaps after Edelgard- and wanted to be under his mantle, so she practically begged him to join his class. Knowing Leonie’s prowess with the bow and her capability as a knight, Byleth accepted her into his class.

The other Golden Deer also were aware and soon Lysithea wanted to switch classes as well. However, Lysithea wanted Leonie to do field work and she would join after Leonie’s suspicions were confirmed.

 

At the end of the month, the Black Eagles were all in their positions to guard the Holy Mausoleum. The battle began as soon as Western Church members began flocking in, and a mysterious knight appeared and joined the Western Church.

The armor the knight wore was completely black. The knight’s face was completely covered by a black mask with horns on their sides. However, the knight’s Mount was none other than a wyvern... a phantasmagoric wyvern. It floated in the air, flapping its translucent wings, with eyes devoid of life and a flame shining in its tail.

The knight held an axe, a huge axe with a chain that meant that it could be used for attacking from afar.

Byleth had been consciously preparing his students to face the battle, but that enemy wasn't one they could take and he was fully aware of it.

“Everyone!” Edelgard noticed Byleth’s panicked look and talked to her classmates. “Stay away from the wyvern knight!”

The Black Eagles nodded and prepared to fight all the other enemies. They needed to stop the priest that had arrived to the tomb.

“We need reinforcements.” Hubert said and Byleth remembered that his sister was around, but he hadn’t told her they were heading to the Mausoleum.

He realized he needed someone to go quickly and tell Beth to help them.

“Bernadetta!” He screamed, looking at the archer, who was standing next to the entrance. “Go and fetch my sister!”

Bernadetta nodded and scrambled away, as quick as she always ran whenever she found herself in a situation she couldn’t stand.

They were quick to wipe the church members before the stairs, but the wyvern knight was blocking the stairs, meaning they couldn’t go up and stop the priest from robbing the tomb.

The knight seemed to be growing impatient, and Byleth was sure that whoever was under the mask was going to attack his students. The knight was about to toss their axe in Edelgard’s direction, but Byleth stood before her and blocked the hit, getting severely wounded.

And before he collapsed, someone healed him. Byleth looked around, but Lindhardt, the only healer of his team was as shocked as he was.

In the entrance, there stood Beth, with Bernadetta and Dimitri by her side. The wyvern knight was going to attack again, but Beth managed to get there and blocked the hit with her sword.

“Go!” Beth told her brother. “Go and stop them, quick!”

Byleth nodded and the Black Eagles continued advancing, now accompanied by Dimitri, who, Byleth was shocked to learn, was exceptionally talented with his lance. Byleth turned around just once, and saw his sister blocking the blows the knight was throwing at her, with her shiny, golden sword. That sword seemed strangely powerful and Byleth knew he’d have to ask her about it.

 

Eventually, they reached the tomb and Byleth knocked the priest out before they could steal whatever was inside the tomb.

But the tomb was open, and there was nothing but the same exact sword his sister was carrying. The priest got up and tried to fight him, but the sword shone and a chain took down the priest.

The wyvern knight noticed Byleth was holding the sword and fled while Beth was too weak to attack them.

 

“That’s a holy weapon!” Edelgard said excitedly, and she took Dimitri’s arm and shook it. “It’s the same that Beth carries!”

“Why are there two?” Hubert questioned aloud.

“I have no idea.” Edelgard mumbled, curiously eyeing the sword in her teacher’s hands. “Can I hold it?”

“No, I will hold it first!” Ferdinand ran over to the shiny golden sword and tried to snatch it from his teacher, but Byleth pulled away and he fell down.

“What a fool.” Hubert snickered under his breath, while Petra excitedly ran and asked if she could hold the sword. Sighing, Byleth allowed her to hold it and Dorothea asked her to pose for a painting that Bernadetta could make.

Bernadetta just screeched and hid behind her teacher, tightly grasping the jacket that hanged off his shoulders.

The Black Eagles were all very excited to hold the sword. Leonie even came up with the theory that only Jeralt’s blood could hold the cool weapons, but Edelgard explained that some families had holy weapons and perhaps that was Byleth’s, which made Leonie feel proud of her theory, since it was correct.

 

“Aren’t you going to ask Byleth if you can hold the sword?” Beth asked Dimitri, who seemed oddly quiet, away from everyone else. From what Beth knew, Dimitri had problems talking to other people because it had been long since he had lost his friends and he didn’t feel enough confidence in himself to try to make new friends.

“No. It’s... the same you’re carrying. Professor Byleth seems awfully quiet and I doubt he would be interested in engaging any kind of relationship with me. If it doesn’t bother you, Professor, May I ask why Professor Byleth seems to be so distant with his own sister?”
“I wish I knew.” Beth mumbled sadly, which made Dimitri feel the need to hug her.

“I think that he’s being a fool.” Dimitri said clearly. “Ignoring his own sister, not even caring about how much a wonderful person she is. It is both enraging and unbelievable. If I had the chance to get along with my brother, then I...”

“You have a brother?” Beth asked, curiously.

“Oh, but he wouldn’t like to hear me referring to him as such. I apologize, please forget what I said, Professor, it is nothing important. There are shadows in my past and he’s just one of them.”

“You are very cryptic, Dimitri.” Beth told him straightforwardly.

“I am, am I not? Please excuse me if I keep secrets from you. I simply do not want to lose anyone else. I will tell you when I am ready to hold the weight of my past. It would be very selfish of me to make you share with me the burdens of my past.”

“Alright.” Beth nodded, respecting Dimitri, because she understood, he had to get over his own problems on his own.

 

When they made their way back to Rhea’s chamber, Sothis was there. The little woman immediately noticed Beth’s presence and rushed to hug her, glad she had made it out safely.

“I see you dealt safely with the bandits. Good job.” Rhea smiled at them, happy her mother had such a good relationship with Beth. “Oh. What is that sword you are holding, Byleth?”

“I found it in the tomb.”

When Sothis heard that, she started giggling under her breath, while Rhea remembered that she put that sword in there to keep it safe, because it was a legacy she had from her mother and she wanted to keep it safe. When she saw Beth held the same sword, she understood how much Sothis loved Beth.

“I see. That is a Holy weapon, blessed by the Goddess herself.” Rhea told him solemnly. “As it seems to have chosen you, you can keep it.”

Over the years, Rhea had grown to see Byleth as her own child. She appreciated him and felt like she had been the one to raise him. Seeing him wield her sword filled her with pride. It was like it was meant to be, a weapon meant to be passed down generations like all the other holy relics and Rhea felt like she was giving her sword to her son.

While Byleth faintly smiled at that, Beth approached Rhea and, as per usual, spoke without any kind of mannerism. She was saying something trivial, but for some reason, it made both Rhea and her adoptive mother laugh. Byleth turned away to leave, but someone stopped him.

That someone was none other than his father.

“Heard you faced some danger. Don’t look at me like that, kid. Leonie told me.” It was no wonder Leonie would tell his father. “She’s very worried about the mysterious knight that appeared in there.”

“What mysterious knight?” Rhea popped into the conversation, reverting back to her usual, serious self. “Byleth, would you care to explain what that means?”

To Byleth, Rhea was the mother figure he’d been missing since forever. So getting scolded by her infused as much fear as it would getting scolded by his real mother.

“I will explain.” Beth stepped in and Byleth hated himself for not being able to speak up. “There was a mysterious knight accompanying the western church members. The wyvern they rode was... a ghost. They held a strange axe that could be thrown around. I consider myself lucky to have survived a fight against them.”

“A mysterious knight.” Rhea breathed in. “Fine. I will inform Seteth of this news. We must look into the matter immediately. We cannot allow an unknown enemy to linger around the Monastery. Byleth, please aid the Knights of Seiros in our investigation. As for you, Beth, continue taking care of Dimitri. We do not know if the knight could be targeting him.”

The group dispersed. Sothis and Rhea went back to their chambers while Jeralt asked his two children to have a private chat with him.

“You two are going to be careful, alright? I had never heard anything wyvern ghosts before. Such strange thing only brings danger.”

“I’m glad to be with you, father.” Beth hugged him and Jeralt’s cold facade broke, as he returned the hug. “I will be careful.”

“That is all I’m asking for. What about you, kid?” Jeralt asked Byleth.

“I will be careful.” Byleth promised, tightly grasping the Holy weapon that Rhea had gifted him, although he wasn’t even aware of that.

Right after him and Beth exited Jeralt’s room, Dimitri was waiting for Byleth’s sister, looking at her like a lost puppy, with a lovestruck look in his eyes. Byleth thought he was pathetic and did not understand why his sister was leading on a seventeen-year-old, four years younger than her.

“Are you alright, Beth? Were you hurt?” Dimitri asked, and Byleth hated him because he looked like he was a very nice person. Why else would Edelgard keep up with him?

“I’m fine.” Beth just smiled at him. “Have you thought about what class you would want to promote to?”

Dimitri looked taken aback by the sudden question, but he had an answer ready. Though he wasn’t ready to share it with Byleth.

“I have an idea, but we should it discuss it with Professor Manuela.” Dimitri said.

Beth nodded and walked away with him, while Byleth scowled and wondered what Prince Dimitri would have to do with a woman like Professor Manuela.

 

But he had more important stuff to take care of, such as tutoring his students and dealing with the Conspiracy Group’s farfetched theories. They invited him the weekend after the fight with the wyvern ghost knight and instead of theorizing about the knight’s identity, they were talking about Ashe and Dimitri, because apparently Ashe had cursed Dimitri but Mercedes had fixed it before any teacher knew.

“He literally tossed a beam of strange light his way, and Dimitri fell to the floor.” Lysithea was recounting. “Then Mercedes healed him, but the damage was done, and it was not pretty.”

“I’ve heard Ashe has been very irritable since Lord Lonato’s death. He’s been scowling and being mean all the time, even more than before.” Caspar contributed to the beef-sharing session.

“Anyway, that does not excuse his behavior.” Byleth commented, careful to not add any remark that could possibly indicate he disliked Ashe, because he was a professor and he couldn’t bring himself to hate a student.

“Ashe is a strange person but I don’t think he’s bad.” Ferdinand pointed out, since Ashe had the same behavior to the people that weren’t nobles as Ferdinand’s. “He’s just suffering because someone close to him died.”
“Ashe is suspicious, I’m calling it now!” Lysithea banged the table with her little fists. “Professor Byleth, may I join your class? You know, it’s been a while and I have grown very close to your students, so I think that you could help me to be as talented as Bernadetta is with her bow.”

The request took Byleth by surprise but it was not unwelcomed. He had talked to Lysithea a few times and she definitely seemed interested in working with him, so he was willing to take her under his wing and teach her archery. He himself practiced sometimes but Shamir had taught him everything he knew and so he transmitted the knowledge to Bernadetta.

“Alright, Lysithea, if that is what you wish.” Byleth said amicably.

“Alright! Now we can all investigate this weird stuff, all as a joined class!”

“I would thank you if you were so kind to keep all this... conspiracies away from Her Highness. Lady Edelgard is already occupied and worried with her duties, so burdening her with our baseless suspicious would be adding unnecessary stress to her.”

“But if the Blue Lions are dangerous, shouldn’t she know?” Lysithea complained.

“You are all creating imaginary scenarios now. If Edelgard doesn’t suspect anything, leave her to figure out things on her own.” Byleth commented.

Chapter Text

And meanwhile, Edelgard was indeed too busy to think about the Blue Lions’ strange behavior.

“Go to the backside, Edelgard! To the backside!” Dimitri screeched, as he threw a brush her way.

From her side, the brunette showed him her tongue in the most mocking manner possible.

“I will take care of Dorte however I want!” Edelgard caressed the horse and did not move an inch. “You take care of the backside!”

“I don’t want, I’m scared!” Dimitri whined, but Edelgard grinned evilly. “Oh, Goddess, help me.”

“Beth isn’t here now to help you!” Edelgard said mockingly, making raspberry sounds as she made mocking gestures at Dimitri, like she did with her youngest siblings so they would laugh.

To Edelgard, Dimitri was her brother. That was why she was so concerned about him and so worried about keeping him safe from the other Blue Lions that were tormenting him.

“Shut up, El!” Dimitri blushed and stuttered an incomprehensible string of words. “Take care of Dorte’s tail, someone has to brush it!”

“I-I will!” Marianne arrived, followed by Beth. She had been moping around the cathedral, because someone was already on horse duty.

Beth had found her and she had managed to get Marianne to tell her that she missed Hilda because she couldn’t find her and that she wanted to be with Dorte, her favorite horse, but she didn’t know who was on horse duty and she was too scared to go on her own.

“Beth!” Dimitri lightened up when he saw her, but the one who said her name was Edelgard. “Ooooh, looks like the Goddess heard your call.”

She winked at Dimitri totally not discreetly, as Beth convinces Marianne to go to where Edelgard and Dimitri were standing.

“Thank you so much, Professor Beleth.” Marianne said gratefully. “I am very grateful you accompanied me here, I wouldn’t have been brave enough to do it on my own.”

“No problem, Marianne, you are very nice, you should try to speak to more students, surely they will appreciate being around someone as kind as you are.”

Marianne smiled at her shyly, while Edelgard was too busy thinking of ways of how to tease Dimitri about his more than obvious crush on her teacher’s sister.

“You know, Dimitri is just as shy as you are.” She said reassuringly to Marianne, who turned to Dimitri in surprise and raised her brows.

“Well, maybe, but I-“ Dimitri started stuttering and blushed even more than before, under Marianne’s curious gaze. “Ah... we can be friends, sure, Marianne.”

“Yes! Let’s all be friends!” Edelgard said happily.

 

Over the next days, Marianne spent more time with Beth. It was mostly because Marianne needed specific tutoring for healing magic and while Professor Manuela was instructing Dimitri on some things, Beth taught Marianne what she knew about healing magic. Sothis was most of the time with Rhea, but she also followed her adoptive daughter around, hoping to talk to Dimitri, but Beth was quick to shoo her away when she started acting strange.

On his side, Byleth spent more time with his own students, Lysithea and Leonie taking active parts in his class, and the Conspiracy Group kept asking him to join them but Byleth needed to spent time with his other students, like Edelgard, Petra and Dorothea.

 

Though everything seemed normal. Ashe was crestfallen, but he hid his pain well through indifference. The one who was about to snap was Sylvain, and everyone began to notice. Ingrid was so worried she even warned Beth about it.

“I know it seems improper for me to ask this of you.” Ingrid said. “And I should really watch over myself, because I will graduate and I have my fiancée waiting for me, but, I...”

The blonde girl broke down crying before she said what she was intending to say. Beth comforted her, rubbing her arm reassuringly, telling her that it was Ok, that the monastery would watch over her and that there was no danger.

“I know I seem like a terrible friend because I’ve been ignoring Dimitri ever since he came back. But I really do care about him, and I have to ask you to protect him as well as you can. I know, I know for certain that he’s in danger. So hide him. Tell him not to come to class. Please. Don’t tell him it was me, just do it. If you don’t then, I’m afraid...”

The noble trailed off. She knew she couldn’t tell Beth exactly why she was fearing for the worst, but there was a completely plausible reason for her to. She did not doubt that she would help Dimitri and that would redeem her behavior.

“Thank you for telling me, Ingrid.” Beth said softly, as to not throw the girl off. “I will do whatever I can.”

 

Unfortunately, Ingrid was right. Thanks to her warning, Beth told Rhea and Rhea allowed Dimitri to have private classes and not go to Hanneman’s any more. Due to that, nevertheless, the victim to the attack that was targeted to Dimitri was none other than Hanneman.

Even Ashe was shaken by the sudden attack, and he responded to it by hiding behind Dedue, who was sitting beside him. Mercedes was frozen by the shock, Annette let out a little cry and Ingrid just closed her eyes to not look. The whole class witnessed their teacher getting vaporized by a beam of purple light.

Then Sylvain got up from this desk and simply walked away from the classroom.
Even though the other students heard the ruckus, the knights of Seiros were not able to stop Sylvain from escaping the Monastery. His objectives were unclear and Ingrid was almost certain that he would try to murder Dimitri, but for some reason he didn’t.

Hanneman was taken to the infirmary and treated with outmost care but that did not help him much. He was a very grave state and would need to recover during the following weeks. Rhea asked Beth to take over the Blue Lions and since the main threat to Dimitri’s health was gone, he could come back to class.

However, that wasn’t the last they’d seen from Sylvain. A little while later, they received a call for help from the Gautier Territory stating that their Blessed Weapon had been stolen by none other than Sylvain. Sylvain had broken into the territory forcefully and taken the Lance of Ruin through killing the guards that were watching over it. Margrave Gautier said that Sylvain could be heading to the Monastery and advised the Knights of Seiros to be prepared to fight him.

Indeed, he did.

Dimitri was confined inside the safest place of the Monastery with Sothis and Beth, while the Knights of Seiros were above prepared to fight Sylvain. Byleth had Shamir, Catherine, Alois and Gilbert backing him up alongside his students.

If Sylvain was already a threat without the Lance, having it only made him a bigger threat. As to why he considered that he needed it to get revenge on Dimitri, no one was certain, but they were all doing their best to fight both him and his spectral soldiers, created by his magic.

The students swept the soldiers off easily as Byleth and the knights advanced towards Sylvain, who was fixated on continuing although he clearly was not strong enough to break through the monastery’s defenses.

Byleth was ordered to kill Sylvain and Margrave Gautier had expressed that he was aware of what Sylvain’s punishment deserved to be for his behavior. He didn’t really want to, but when he was finally capable to do it, because of his magnificent Blessed Weapon...

It didn’t work.

Byleth looked at his sword and then looked at Sylvain, who was grinning maniacally. His white hair was falling on his face and his brown eyes were completely devoid of life and emotion, but somehow were glinting evilly. He just started cackling, what eventually broke into a laughter, as Byleth’s frustration and confusion grew.

“What? Can’t kill me?” He was just laughing. He was in danger of death, and all he did was laugh. “Of course you can’t. I have no soul.”

Because of the fact they were unable to kill him, the Knights simply reduced him and got him locked in a cell, wondering what to do with him. Rhea decided that they had to ask Sylvain why he wished to kill Dimitri and to investigate his two crests, because they might be the reason why he was acting so strange.

Since the Crest scholar was out of cold and unable to look into the issue, Rhea asked the second greatest crest expert in the monastery to accompany her, Beth and Byleth to interrogate Sylvain and discover the truth behind the two crests he carried.

“How did you even get these cuffs. I had never seen stuff like this before.” Sylvain said, and for both Beth, Lindhardt and Rhea, it was the longest they’d heard him speak.

When he was a student in the academy, he barely ever uttered a word to anyone. Hearing his voice when he was behind bars, cuffed to a wall and unable to use magic, made him look unexpectedly dorky. Specially if the fact that he wanted to kill the heir of the Kingdom of Faerghus was forgotten.

“Sylvain Gautier.” Rhea began. “Your acts against the Church are enough reason to give you a death sentence. However, if you cooperate with us, we might grant some mercy to your judgement.”

“Mercy?” Sylvain started laughing. “Mercy. Sounds funny. Like I’d care about that.”

“Why did you attack Professor Hanneman?” Rhea began to ask.

“He’s been pissing me off for a while. Also, I had prepared a spell for Dimitri and I had to use it. A collateral victim he was, if you might.”

That made Beth realize Ingrid was right and both her and Rhea were glad they had listened to Ingrid. Otherwise, Dimitri might be toast and the Kingdom of Faerghus would be submerged into a worse panic than it already was.

“And why did you steal the Lance of Ruin from your own family?” Rhea continued.

“Because I need a weapon to fight the sword you have.” Sylvain looked at Byleth and Beth when saying that. “But it wasn’t strong enough. Fuck.”

“And what crests do you exactly have?” Rhea asked.

“I don’t want to answer that question.” Sylvain grunted.

“If you don’t tell us, we will see ourselves obligated to inspect your body. If you wish to avoid that, you must tell us at once.”

Sylvain’s eyes trailed around the floor, as if he were thinking of a way to escape the situation. He knew he had to tell the truth because otherwise they would strip him naked and watch for themselves.

“During the battle you had with Byleth, we observed the use of two different crests... the Crest of Gautier and another crest that amplified the damage you made and healed you...” Rhea suspected what Crest that was but she wanted Sylvain to say it.

“Yes, the Crest of Flames.” Sylvain whined lowly. “You two should know, you have it.”

“And how exactly did you obtain the crest of Flames?”

That was the reason why they had brought Lindhardt. Lindhardt was the expert of crests so he could tell them in case Sylvain lied or made something up. Sylvain was inoffensive at the moment so they trusted he wouldn’t be able to hurt Lindhardt.

“Experiments.” Sylvain simply answered. “They took me and experimented with me. They practically sewed this second crest into my skin. Told me I’d die. I don’t care. I don’t have anything to live for, not anymore.”

Then Rhea tried to speak, but Sylvain cut her off.

“I won’t tell you who did it. I hate them, but I won’t tell you about them because if there is someone I hate more than I hate them, it’s Dimitri. You are protecting him. Therefore, I cannot trust you. Try to kill me if you might, but you will achieve nothing.”

The Archbishop tightened her fists as she glared into the albino’s brown eyes. She held back a little shrill of fury and simply contented herself with walking away with the two bearers of the Crest of Flames and the crest expert. Since Hanneman was unable to conduct the investigation, Rhea was forced to ask for help from Lindhardt, to uncover who had the capability of adding different crests into one’s skin.

Chapter Text

Unluckily, Seteth had other plans. He ran towards Rhea as soon as he saw her, with the twins in tow, and completely disregarded their presence.

“Archbishop Rhea! I can’t find Flayn! I think she’s gone missing!”

Knowing everything that was going on with the wyvern knight, Sylvain and Professor Hanneman’s injury, adding something else to the list wouldn’t just stress Rhea further. Of course, she was concerned about Flayn, but it wasn’t the heaviest preoccupation heaving inside her head.

“Byleth, Beth. Please help me find her.” Seteth finally turned to them. “There is a rumor that the wyvern knight might have taken some students but... I... please, help me look for her.”

The desperate look in Seteth’a eyes got Beth to crack immediately and nod in empathy, while Byleth just shrugged.

 

During the month, Beth gathered clues with Marianne, Ingrid and Dimitri, since none of them had nothing more interesting to do and were concerned about Flayn. They split up in two teams, Marianne and Ingrid, who mostly spent their time by the stables, and Dimitri and Beth, who just wondered around trying to find clues but got constantly side-tracked.

Byleth had a whole team of skeptics analyzing every mini detail to obtain any clue about Flayn’s location.

“There were footsteps on the ground her size by the botanic garden, so it must be her the one who walked around there.” Lysithea announced proudly, sure of the fact that the garden hid a secret passage inside it.

“Your shoes are the same size as Flayn’s.” Hubert pointed out, sighing because he thought he was the only intelligent person left in the monastery.

“No. She’s shorter, therefore, her shoes must be smaller.” Lysithea contradicted him, but Hubert was right and her claim had no base.

Still, Lysithea would fight anyone if it meant being right. She was smart and her parents had spoiled her a lot, taking her to archery classes and all kinds of classes to further solidify her intelligence and her skills. However, detective work was not her forte.

“I think that I know who took Flayn.” Leonie spoke her, from her spot, smiling happily. “It was Hilda!”

Everyone gasped, and some people (Ferdinand) shook their heads, flabbergasted and unable to believe her, but Byleth asked her to explain her idea.

“Hilda has been missing for a short while. Not to mention, the wyvern knight appeared in the Mausoleum, the place Hilda was lingering around all the time. I think she’s the wyvern knight and I think she took Flayn.”

“But Hilda is a student here. Where could she have possibly taken Flayn to?” Hubert questioned smartly.

“Well, I don’t know, that’s for you intellectuals to figure out!” Leonie shrugged, looking directly at her professor, her eyes gleaming as she thought of solving a mystery with her hero.

Surely, Edelgard would not like that. Nevertheless, Edelgard was too busy hanging out with Petra, Bernadetta and Dorothea.

 

Byleth decided to look into the issue and he discussed with Manuela Hilda’s whereabouts. She’s missing from class a short while. Byleth talked it out with Rhea, to see if there was some secret place Hilda could use to hide Flayn.

“...” Rhea thought about it. “I think that there is a place in the monastery, where Hilda could hide Flayn. I think that Jeritza’s room has a secret passage that leads to my... working room.”

“Working room?” Byleth questioned.

“Yes, my working room.” Rhea refused to further explain. “I have passages everywhere leading up to there. No one knows about it, and if they do, they shouldn’t. I suggest you try looking around Hilda’s room, in case there is a passage leading up there.”

 

There were only two people that could take the mission of inspecting the female bedrooms in case there was a passage around there. Leonie and Lysithea’s bedrooms were closer to Hilda’s, so Byleth went to them and asked them specifically for help. However, when he approached Lysithea, she was engaged in a conversation with Edelgard, the two of them amicably speaking.

“My younger sister reminds me so much of you, Lysithea, you two are so bright and funny, it’s wonderful to be around you.” Edelgard was saying, and Byleth got to hear it. “Oh! Professor, is there anything you need?”

“Yes, actually. I have a little assignment for Lysithea. May we... speak in private?” Byleth remembered well that Hubert had expressively asked all of them to not tell Edelgard anything about their conspiracies until there was solid information and a base to justify their suspicions.

Since Byleth himself was pretty intimidated by Hubert, he decided to actually listen to him and not make him angry. Luckily for him, Lysithea followed him without asking any questions, but she let her thoughts out when Edelgard was far enough.

“Why can’t we tell El anything? She’s very nice, we shouldn’t leave her out of this!” Lysithea complained, clearly worked up over the fact that Edelgard knew nothing about the conspiracy group. Everyone in the Black Eagles knew, except for her.

“Edelgard has enough to worry about, we should not bother her with baseless suspicions.”

“They’re not baseless, we have proof! Ashe is so mean! They’re definitely hiding something, and Sylvain attacked Professor Hanneman. We are not wrong! She should know, she could help us!”

Still, Byleth refuses to get Edelgard involved, because of her own safety and to keep her away from all the dangers he was getting himself into.

 

Leonie listened to him with much less complaints. Leonie was hanging around the pond, and by the time Byleth told her, Marianne and his sister were sitting by the fishing area, staring at the fish swimming inside there. Beth noticed him but did not say anything, as Marianne kept pointing at fish and laughing at how adorable they looked.

Though Byleth couldn’t have guessed it, they both heard his conversation with Leonie. Marianne was putting special attention to it, since she was specially concerned about Hilda and wanted to know her whereabouts.

 

Leonie and Lysithea didn’t do much, because they couldn’t sneak into other students’ room, so they only investigated their own rooms. Marianne, however, knew exactly where Hilda’s room was, so she went inside and inspected everything until she found the mechanism that activated the entrance to the secret room.

Gasping, Marianne quickly left to tell Professor Beth, who was the person that she trusted the most.

Beth wasn’t with Dimitri, and the only reason why she wasn’t, it was because Edelgard and Dimitri were hanging out together. She was with Sothis instead, inside her room. Marianne knew that was the professor’s mother and she had talked to her a few times, but she seemed to be more interested in talking to Dimitri for some reason, rather than any other student.

“Hello Marianne!” Professor Beth greeted her happily, as Sothis’ green eyes analyzed her. “Are you alright?”

“Oh my. You really should try to get some sleep! I taught Beth some nice spells that help to put people to sleep, I could help you to have more sleep...”

“It’s not that.” Marianne said, sighing sadly. “It’s another thing. I’ve found a passage to a secret place. I think Flayn might be hidden in there.”

“Ooh! A secret passage! I wonder what is hidden inside there. Maybe two people could use it to get some priva...”

“Mother!” Beth cut her off.

“Oh. Alright. This seems serious. I will let you deal with this, I trust you.”

“Thank you.” Beth sighed, getting up and following Marianne, who had a concerned expression.

However, as they were making their way to the other dorms, they walked into Ingrid, Annette and Mercedes. Professor Beth had begun to teach them both reason and faith, so they had greatly improved their magic skills. Mercedes definitely liked Beth more than Annette did, perhaps because she trusted people more easily.

“We think we know where Flayn is.” Professor Beth told them. “One of you, please go and tell my brother about this.”

Ingrid looked at Mercedes and Annette. Annette huffed, while Mercedes stepped closer to Beth, seemingly giving out the message that she preferred to be with the larger group and not go off on her own.

Beth was almost completely sure that her brother already knew about the passages, since she’d seen him talking to Rhea when Sothis had called her because she was bored. However, Beth had Marianne on her side, and the shy girl was willing to share information with people that she trusted rather than with people she did not know, like Professor Byleth.

As Ingrid walked away, Mercedes asked her teacher about her theories on the matter and Beth did not say much, because she didn’t quite know what to expect. Annette gave her input, stating that she suspected that Hilda had to do something with everything. She’d become much more daring and talkative since Sylvain had been captured, now she wasn’t scared of pissing him off. Ashe, on his own, wasn’t much of a threat.

On their way there, Beth wondered what Ashe was doing, because she never saw him in communal areas. Annette and Mercedes had talked to her much more than those two, and Mercedes seemed to like her much. Beth could say that she liked Mercedes too, because she was a very gentle and nice person, despite how scared and how dull she’d been during the period she’d been threatened by Sylvain.

They eventually reached Hilda’s room and Marianne went inside without second thoughts. Probably, she was too scared of backing down once her rational side overcame her emotions. She had had a surge of bravery and she would use it, because she knew that Hilda was hiding somewhere, and she would be a bad friend if she left Hilda behind. Something very bad and wrong had happened to her, but Marianne didn’t know, and she hoped that Hilda, one day, would open up to her.

She rushed down the stairs, hearing Beth’s hurried steps after her and ran until she reached the large room, Rhea’s working room. The room was completely dark and there were shelves everywhere. Some books had fallen to the ground and there was a trail of blood on the ground.

Marianne gasped, hoping Hilda wasn’t hurt and she clang to Beth’s side as soon as she arrived, trembling. Professor Beth tried to reassure her, but it didn’t work, because Marianne let out a horrified gasp when the lights turned on, because Annette lit up the candles of the ceiling using her fire magic.

There was Flayn, on the floor, in the middle of the room, surrounded by blood. Next to her, there was The Wyvern Knight. The knight’s armor was pitch black and almost impossible to see in the dark, but there were runes in it that made it shiny. The knight’s wyvern stood next to them, in all its ghostly glory. Its purple fangs and white skin were brighter in the dark center of the room.

When the knight noticed them, they made some kind of signal and some enemy soldiers started trudging through the passage ways. One of them directly threw an axe at Mercedes, but Annette blew it up with magic before it even made contact with her friend. The little redhead girl stood in front of her friend protectively, as they engaged in a fight against the soldiers.

“You are too late. The ritual is about to begin...” The Wyvern Knight said darkly.
Beth tried to advance toward whoever was behind that armor and save Flayn, but it was too hard. She was surrounded by soldiers and there was no possible way that she would make it on time, without her students getting hurt, as they were only four, and there were a lot of enemy soldiers.

Midst her desperation, she saw her brother descending down one of the passages, the one that came from Jeritza’s room, followed by some of his students. Dorothea and Petra leaded the group. Lysithea descended with her bow in hand and prepared to go to where the knight was standing, knowing she had advantage over the flying unit.

The last one in arriving was Ferdinand, who announced his arrival for everyone to hear.

“I am Ferdinand von Aegir.” He said, because he wasn’t completely sure as to whether Beth knew his name or not. “And if I am here, we will win for sure!”

Ingrid and her pegasus rapidly joined her teacher’s side and helped to keep both Mercedes and Marianne safe, as the offensive side of their team (Annette and Beth) tore the enemy lines down.

Unbeknownst to them, Lysithea was running ahead of them and she was standing close to the Wyvern Knight’s area, her bow in her hand, as Ferdinand kept other units away from them. Dorothea and Petra were wiping all the units that prevented Lysithea and Ferdinand from advancing, as they were playing dirty and attacking from behind.

Lysithea was about to shoot an arrow to the wyvern knight, when suddenly the lights brought by the candles flickered, and the atmosphere of the room completely changed. A dark mist surrounded them, and suddenly, another figure clad in an armor stood beside the Wyvern Knight.

“It’s time to go.” The mysterious figure said. “You must retreat now.”

The Wyvern Knight vanished in the air, and its mysterious boss turned to face both Byleth and Beth, completely disregarding Lysithea’s proximity to him, and talked to them.

“You two should stop interfering with my plans.”

To Byleth’s surprise, Beth lashed out on the mysterious subject.

“Who the hell are you!?” She cried, more confused than scared.

“I am the King of Night. Now, stop interfering or you will perish.”

The mysterious person, just like The Wyvern Knight, vanished in thin air. Fortunately, Flayn was still there, despite the fact she was severely injured. Lysithea, who was the one closest to her, gave the voice of alarm and Dorothea, the closest mage with knowledge of healing magic, tried to heal her fruitlessly, as more experienced healers made their way to Flayn.

Mercedes and Marianne tried to step in and help, but they were stopped by their teacher. Beth seemed to know very advanced faith, so she kindly asked Mercedes and Marianne to let her handle everything. Mercedes tried to say that Beth might need help, but Annette grabbed the taller girl by the arm and dragged her away, not willing to be exposed to more mental damage having Mercedes heal a bloodied Flayn.

As for Marianne, Ingrid kindly told her that they had to trust Professor Beth, because she was a experienced healer. The Blue Lions made their way out, since their professor asked them to, accompanying Marianne.

The Black Eagles didn’t leave, because Byleth hadn’t say anything, and they were quite curious to investigate the secret place that no one knew of, but was too big for it to be something built recently. Ferdinand and Lysithea started running around, as part of their conspiracy group work.

Dorothea and Petra were more interested in knowing what the function of the room was, for the monastery as whole.

“Maybe this room is a secret sorcery place where Archbishop Rhea practices reason...” Dorothea was discussing with her professor, while Petra picked up one of the books that had fallen down and read what it said.

Since she barely understood what it meant because it was not what she was used to read, she asked Dorothea what the words in the book meant. Dorothea took the heavy volume from her hands and started reading to answer her friend’s question, but her face turned beet red midway through the lecture, as her eyes quickly assessed the names of the books in the shelves and she began to understand why Rhea didn’t have that room open to the public.

“Well? What did the words say?” Petra asked Dorothea, curiosity shining in her bright purple eyes.

“...” Dorothea sighed heavily. “It was nothing, Petra, don’t worry about it.”

Dorothea heard a horrified scream from Lysithea, followed by a thud that sounded like the noise a book would make when falling to the floor, and then what sounded like Lysithea running up the stairs to flee Rhea’s reading lair while screaming that the room was filled of FILTH. All the books that Seteth had banned seemed to be hidden in there, where possibly only Archbishop Rhea had access to them.

“Let’s just go, please, please.” Dorothea pleaded to her professor and Byleth accepted just because Dorothea seemed very anguished.

The three of them left, as Ferdinand was left to pick up the book Lysithea had dropped and read its contents. Unlike the two girls that had understood the books and their content, Ferdinand was not horrified, but indignant. He slammed the book against the shelf, making a loud noise, and then left stepping down strongly.

 

Beth sighed in pure relief when she saw Flayn’s green eyes opening. She had thought the girl was dead and she had started reanimating her. Luckily, it had worked and she had managed to bring Flayn back to life before it was too late. The faith that Sothis had taught her worked her out, and she helped Flayn get out of Rhea’s reading room, effortlessly carrying her weight.

A few minutes later, Flayn was safely reunited with her ‘brother’, and Seteth was thanking Beth for using her healing prowess to save Flayn and thanking Byleth for figuring out her whereabouts and helping to defeat the wyvern knight. Flayn knew that she wouldn’t be safe as long as she was alone, so she asked Seteth if she could join the Black Eagles, as to be in Professor Byleth’s class and learn from him. Seteth didn’t roll his eyes, but Byleth saw something like that, and asked her if she didn’t prefer to join Professor Beth’s, because she was better at healing magic than Byleth was and she could learn more from her. As it turned out, Flayn was a fan of Professor Byleth as well and she had been dying to join his class since the year began.

Chapter Text

With a new addition to his class, Byleth was ready to commence preparing his class for the commemoration battle for the independence of the Kingdom of Faerghus. Edelgard was very excited about winning the battle, so Byleth had more than enough motivation to go for the win as well.

But getting ready for the event did not only involve preparing his students. He also had investigate the other teams. Sylvain was out of the Blue Lions, which was a big bonus, but Dimitri was the new addition to their team. Also, Marianne seemed in the verge of joining them, so she might switch from the Golden Deer to the Blue Lions.

While Byleth knew all about the event, his sister was having trouble figuring out what to do. Her students were explaining her what it was about.

“We just have to beat the shit out of everyone.” Annette expressed without fear, ready to do what she wasn’t allowed to do when Sylvain was in charge of the strategy of the team. “I am the offensive power!”

“No way!” Ashe complained. “I am the offensive power!”

“I think the two of you are getting it wrong, you two barely have mobility, I have my Pegasus so I’m a better option as to what offense entails.” Ingrid said, unintentionally getting involved in the quarrel.

The three of them turned to see their classmates. Ashe looked at Dedue, knowing the gentle giant would support him, while both Annette and Ingrid turned to Mercedes, looking at her with crazed eyes, as if they were going to kill her if she didn’t agree with them.

Next to the blackboard, Professor Beth watched her whole class. The distracted group of five was engaged in a silent civil war, while Dimitri looked at her with his innocent eyes, looking like the nicest student to ever step on Garreg Mach.

When people (Sothis, Edelgard) said Dimitri had a crush on his teacher, they definitely had grounds to believe it.

“You all are offensive units, why are you all complaining? Dedue is our tank and Mercedes is our healer, there is no need to fight over who is the offense because you all are the offense.” The young teacher sighed and she saw Ingrid raising her arm to ask a question.

“What is Prince Dimitri going to do?” Ingrid was the nicest person to Dimitri and she was the person aside from Edelgard that was closest to being his friend. Ashe looked at him, with interest sparkling in his green eyes.

“He’s a singer.” Beth said, as clear as the day, and Mercedes’ eyes were suddenly very wide, while Ashe fell from his chair. “He’s going to support us.”

“What the...” Ashe was going to curse, but Dedue lifted him from the ground and sat him in his chair, glaring at him because Ashe’s mouth was very loose and he would slip in any given moment.

“That’s wonderful!” Mercedes cried, because she really liked singing. “We have a singer! That’s an advantage for us!”

While Mercedes celebrated for everyone to hear, Annette did a little dance on her chair, ready to win the battle and demonstrate her power, as Ingrid wondered when Dimitri had taken interest in singing.

 

In the Black Eagles, the strategic meeting was much more chaotic. Byleth and Edelgard ended up hiding under a desk while Hubert fired fire balls at Ferdinand, who was running around the classroom. At the same time, Ferdinand was chasing Caspar, who was being chased by Lysithea and Dorothea.

Bernadetta was scribbling on a notebook while Leonie sat on her desk, using all her willpower to not join the fight and show Professor Byleth the good student she was and how much she deserved to be Jeralt’s apprentice.

Why some people were chasing other people, and why Petra was suspended in the air, was a mystery. According to the official version, Caspar messed up using Lindhardt’s spell book when trying to show how talented he was with magic, and Dorothea was furiously chasing him to make him pay for it. Ferdinand was angry at him because he had said that “being Ferdinand von Aegir” did not give him the right to take the bridge in the field, and he had said that he was better than even Lady Edelgard, which awoke Hubert’s rage. Lysithea was just chasing Caspar because she wanted.

“How are we supposed to beat the Blue Lions when we are fighting over who takes the bridge?” Edelgard sighed, as she tried to get out of the desk, but Ferdinand almost knocked her down, so she ran back to the desk.

The situation was only solved when they saw Mercedes and Annette spying them through the window, making them hastily correct their behavior. In less than two seconds, Byleth was in the blackboard writing down strategic tactics and everyone was back in their seats.

 

“Fuck! They are working in an organized way!” Annette cursed, knowing that her class would never be as calm as the Black Eagles’ class.

Mercedes winced at the curse word and almost fell over, but managed to stay in balance digging her hills into the ground. Spying on the Black Eagles had purely been Annette’s idea, because Ingrid thought that was not a noble thing to do, Ashe and Dedue didn’t care about their enemies, for whatever reason Annette could not explain, because winning meant everything. Her father was a very loyal guard in Faerghus and he had taught her to have objectives. Annette, however, had taken it to an extreme and she had become much more violent than he could have ever imagined. Instead of playing with dolls, she tossed them around and stole his axes to train with them. Annette’s mother had convinced her to go to the sorcery school, but her physical strength was beyond what someone could imagine looking at someone her size.

“We are not doing anything useful here, why don’t we go and discuss strategies with Professor Beth?” Mercedes suggested, since she liked her professor and she didn’t mind spending time with her.

The redhead turned to look at her and scowled. “You are not being a good spy, Mercie. If you want to leave, then leave, but know that I’m staying here and no one, not even the Goddess herself with be able to move me! I am unmovable and you want to move me, you are going to face my will of steel!”

Sighing, Mercedes effortlessly lifted her (since Annette, despite the muscles in her arms) was quite light.

Caspar was seeing the scene unfold and he giggled, but Lindhardt slapped him in the arm to get him to pay attention to Professor Byleth.

“Mercie, drop me!! You can’t move me!” Annette screamed, kicking and fighting against her friend’s grip. “I will not be moved!”

“There, there, Annie.” Mercedes tried to get her to calm down, and her face was starting to flush because Annette was thrashing so much that Mercedes feared she would end up touching somewhere she shouldn’t.

“Ughhh! Why are you warm!?” Annette whined, noticing how Mercedes’ body temperature had increased because she was nervous. “I don’t like human warmth!”

“Go back to class with me and I will stop!” Mercedes was practically dragging her away from the Black Eagles’ classroom door, but Annette was opposing so much resistance that she stuck her hand to a wall to keep herself grounded and unmoving.

Inside the Black Eagles’ classroom, some people were watching. Bernadetta seemed confused and her face was colored pink as she wondered what was happening in there, while Dorothea was quickly scandalized and she moved to cover Petra’s eyes, but Petra wasn’t fazed by the spectacle outside.

Some other people, like Ferdinand, Flayn, Leonie, Lysithea, Hubert and Lindhardt, had kindly decided to stop watching because it wasn’t interesting for them at all, but since Lady Edelgard wouldn’t just stop looking, he had to see why it was so interesting. When he did, he just scoffed and shook his head, feeling less capable of obtaining Lady Edelgard’s attention than such depravation.

Professor Byleth noticed that his students weren’t paying attention -once again-. Even Edelgard was distracted, so he asked her what was going on.

“I think two students are fighting outside...” Edelgard meekly explained, trying to not make Professor Byleth think she was a pervert. She made up what she thought the situation was quickly, but in truth, she was right.

Once he understood what was causing his students to be disperse, he went out of the classroom to fix it. However, as he stood by the open door, he wished he hadn’t.

“You won’t ever grab me again! You hear me!? No more using my light weight against me!” Annette was screaming at Mercedes, who was laying on the floor.

Annette’s foot was on the older girl’s chest and she held the blonde’s hands over her head. It would have looked like a very violent scene, if it weren’t for the look in Mercedes’ face, which Byleth could not even describe with words.

“Y-yes!” Mercedes weakly said in response to Annette’s taunt.

“Swear you’ll never do it again!” Annette seemed to squeeze Mercedes’s wrists with her fist.

“I won’t ever do it again!”

By that time, Byleth was already back inside his classroom, with the door shut, telling his students that if he caught someone, anybody, getting distracted again, they would get a super special training, which consisted of running laps all over the monastery. No one ever looked to the window again until the class was over.

 

Fortunately, in the Blue Lions there were people that were working hard to beat the other classes. Ingrid and Dedue were doing push-ups. Ingrid had two boxes full of apples on her back, while Dedue had Ashe sitting on his back. Despite the obvious difference in the weight each one lifted, Dedue was still managing to be faster than Ingrid.
“Hey, where are Annette and Mercedes?” Dimitri asked his teacher, who was tutoring him on lance use, despite she was learning from other experts and she wasn’t an expert herself. They were stabbing dummies to practice precision. However, Beth did it normally, Dimitri seemed to put a lot of effort in it.

“They were supposed to be practicing magic!” Professor Beth frowned, as she exited the classroom to go fetch her two missing students.

Dimitri debated on whether following her or staying, but he didn’t have time to decide before he heard a scream that definitely sounded like it was Beth’s.

As the dashing knight he was, he ran to see what was going on, and Ingrid followed him, panicking as well.

Dedue tried, but Ashe didn’t let him.

“You still have one hundred push ups left.” He said, voice as cold as ice.

 

To the ones outside, there was something much more strange happening. Annette’s face was stuck to the window of the Black Eagles’ classroom, while Mercedes was laying on the floor, as if someone had attacked her. That wasn’t very far from reality, but the truth behind her deplorable state was other.

“Are you alright, Mercedes!?” Ingrid asked, as the concerned friend she was.

 

The incident was completely forgotten by everyone, or so they would say if asked about it. Both Byleth and Beth kept tutoring their students, as Manuela seemed to grow smugger as they reunited to talk about their students. Ignatz had no interest in fighting, Raphael was less intelligent than a plant and Marianne seemed on the verge of switching to another class, so what would make her so smug, no one knew. She had a trump card, Blanche, the student Byleth had never seen, but she didn’t know if a single person had enough power to beat his students, or Beth’s unnecessarily overpowered ones.

All of them had agreed that none of them could participate in the battle because otherwise it would be unfair. Byleth and Beth both held very strong weapons and had more prowess than any student, so it wasn’t very fair to put them to fight against the students.

The times Byleth saw Edelgard and Dimitri meeting up, Edelgard wouldn’t stop saying how her class would crush his, and how sorry she was because Dimitri wouldn’t be able to impress Beth. That kind of comments did not fail to tip the boy off, as he expressed that his aim wasn’t to impress Beth, but rather learn and earn experience through battling and learning from his classmates as well.

“That is a very nice way of saying you want to call Beth’s attention.” Edelgard smirked at him, because she found funny how anyone would believe there was something between them, while it was pretty obvious that her friend had a crush on his teacher.

“Stop saying that, El, it’s not funny.” Dimitri complained. “Why is everyone so obsessed with me liking Beth, hey?”

“Because you trail after like a lost puppy.” Edelgard giggled. “It is a adorable sometimes, though sometimes I wonder why she doesn’t call you out on it.”

Dimitri blushed for a second, but then he hanged his head low, sighing forlornly.

Hubert, who was watching everything from afar, just laughed at him. Unfortunately, Hubert was not alone and a flock of students suddenly arrived to watch him laughing maniacally. Bernadetta hid behind Ferdinand, Dorothea stared at him without saying anything and Ferdinand used the opportunity to say how he would protect all the ladies from Hubert.

“You get worse everyday, Hubie. Why won’t you admit you want to marry Lady Edelgard? If you propose to her formally, then perhaps...”

Hubert glared at her in a way that was so scary that Bernadetta jumped and squealed.

“He’s going to kill us, all of us!” Bernadetta announced alarmingly, clinging to Ferdinand harder.

“I was merely enjoying the troubled expressions that Lady Edelgard provokes on the poor unfortunate souls that do not reach such a level of relevance in her life for her to consider them potential suitors, or perhaps a physique that is enough to make her interested.”

“What have just said?” Ferdinand did not understand a word of the stuff that Hubert had said.

Dorothea, however, was well versed in theatre and books where such grandiloquent words were used, so she peered at Edelgard, who was chatting with Prince Dimitri and started forming ideas in her head.

“He has just announced our death sentence! Quick, if we go now, we’ll be able to get to Brigid before the sun sets tomorrow!” Bernadetta was pulling Ferdinand’s arm, prompting him to flee to safety. “A single inn room will be enough! You can guys can hide inside the room and I’ll take the closet!”

“Bernadetta, I have no intentions of committing homicide, if that is what you are suggesting.”

“Really, Hubert? Wouldn’t you kill for Lady Edelgard?”

“It depends. I will have to evaluate how worth the death of the person it is for her. If it is a minor subject that will get me prosecuted and taken away from my charge in the Empire, then I most likely would not do it, because it would prevent me from performing tasks of more importance for Lady Edelgard.”

Dorothea just interpreted that it meant that Hubert had such a huge crush on Edelgard that he would do anything for her and anything to not get separated from her.

Meanwhile, Ferdinand and Bernadetta had already run away. Dorothea envied them, because she had to sit through a long explanation about Hubert’s feelings towards Edelgard that clearly weren’t romantic.

 

Due to Hilda’s absence, Marianne felt incredibly lonely in her class. She was afraid of Blanche and she found it extremely difficult to talk to Ignatz and to Raphael. Lorenz was a whole different world that Marianne was very far away from comprehending. She liked being around Ingrid, Dimitri and Beth much more. However, she was too shy to ask Professor Beth whether she could join her class, because she felt it would be disrespectful for Professor Manuela.

She had the chance to see for herself why Manuela trusted her students so much. She believed it was entirely because of Blanche. Blanche had a crest, which crest, Marianne didn’t know, but it made her extremely powerful. She was very talented in reason, perhaps to Sylvain’s level, and she was constantly learning and gathering information that Professor Manuela gave her.

Chapter Text

At the end of the month, the three classes met at Gronder Field. Beth and Dimitri (despite him not being the House Leader) leaded the Blue Lions, Edelgard and Byleth stood at the front of the Black Eagles and Lorenz and Professor Manuela leaded the last group.

On the top of a hill, Archbishop Rhea was overseeing the battle, feeling extremely proud of both Beth and Byleth. Seteth, on the other hand, desperately wanted Flayn to win.

Before they headed to battle, each Professor spoke to their class.

“We are going to win this battle because we have strength, we have intelligence and we have worked hard for this. Do not give up now, my dear classmates, because we will show everyone how much effort we put into becoming great warriors, the best version of ourselves and capable people that will lead our nation.” Edelgard gave a speech while everyone listened. “Everyone is here so we have to show them how much we work!”

Edelgard had seen her parents briefly before heading to the battlefield, as well as some of her siblings. She was very excited at the prospect of showing them how much she had learned under Professor Byleth’s wing.

“Our parents are here!?” Bernadetta started cowering. “Can I go back to the monastery!?”

“Don’t be scared, Bern, surely they’ll be happy when they see how good you are with the bow!” Dorothea tried to reassure her, but Bernadetta chose a hiding place behind Professor Byleth.

In fact, most of them had seen their parents. Caspar and Lindhardt had been called by them and they had taken at least ten minutes to talk about the monastery and how the two of them were doing. Ferdinand had met up with his father, carrying a long face all the time. Lysithea had also met her parents and she had hugged them excitedly while people around wondered how much Lysithea had to love her parents to do that so effusively.

“Do you really believe we can win this battle? Not to be pessimistic, but yesterday I saw Dedue doing push-ups with Ashe on him.” Lindhardt commented, looking at the Blue Lions. “I think it’ll be hard to beat such a strong team.”

“Hey, that’s a nice idea of a training regime!” Caspar beamed. “Lindhardt, maybe you could help me...”

“Don’t even think about it.” The taller boy cut him off.

“The fact that they have brute force should not matter to us. We have something much more valuable and useful than that, we have strategy and we have a plan fleshed out to be able to counter any ridiculous idea they come up with. They are quite lacking in the strategy department, both the Golden Deer and the Blue Lions.”

“I don’t know about that, Hubert.” Edelgard said. “We should not be too presumptuous. They have Professor Beleth leading them. We should not underestimate our enemies. Now, that should not mean that it has to undermine our confidence in the possibilities we have of emerging victorious in this battle.”

“Well said! Approaching this is with a positive attitude is everything we need! You shouldn’t be so pessimistic, Lin!” Lysithea said happily.

“I am not being pessimistic, I only said...”

“No more crying!” Petra stopped him before he justified himself. “The victory is coming to us!”

“That’s the attitude, Petra!” Edelgard praises her. “Now, on my mark!”

“We should wait to Professor Byleth’s Mark.” Leonie pointed out. “He’s our commander... right?”

“I think Edelgard can handle this.” Getting a smile from the brunette, she stepped forward and led the team on to the field.

 

At the Blue Lions, things were much tenser. Ashe wouldn’t just look at Dimitri’s eyes and Dimitri was stiffer than a wooden post. He had met up with his father and King Lambert had wished him luck, but the weight of expectations was making him want to puke.

However, there was someone who wanted to puke more than him. Sothis had followed them all the way to Gronder Field and when Rhea was distracted, she had run away from Rhea’s side and practically attacked King Lambert. Sothis had introduced herself as Dimitri’s professor’s mother and Lambert had been quite courteous with her, but Sothis was pulled away from the King when her adoptive daughter had finally realized what she was doing.

Annette’s parents had also made their way to Gronder Field. Annette had caused a ruckus as she ran to meet them, with Mercedes trailing behind her because Annette’s mother wanted to meet her. In the end, Annette’s mother was glad that her daughter had much more peaceful friends than her rambunctious daughter.

Ingrid’s fiancée had made a long travel to see her participating in the battle. He was there with Ingrid’s parents and his own father, the Duke of Fraldarius, Rodrigue. Rodrigue left his son’s side to talk for a little while to see both Lambert and Dimitri, who greeted him with different expressions. Lambert was joyous to see him, while Dimitri seemed scared.

The real tension had come when Ashe had seen King Lambert, which made him immediately turn away and be on his own while all his other classmates talked to their relatives. To his surprise, Dedue noticed he was alone and dragged him all the way to where his parents were so he wouldn’t be alone. Still, Ashe was moody and angry.

“Do you believe we can win, Professor?” Ingrid asked the teacher, who was still livid after having to fight Sothis to get her away from Lambert.

“Of course.” Beth thought that it was mostly because she had been able to restrain Sothis, and if she was capable of doing that, she was capable of doing anything.

“I see you believe in us. Well, that makes me happy.” Dimitri smiled at her, which made Ashe groan. Oh well, another person that believed Dimitri had a crush on his teacher.

“We will beat them AGAIN!” Annette cried “and this time, it’s going to be because of me entirely! You will regret leaving me out of the mock battle!”

“Annie, you shouldn’t hold a grudge against them, it’s not their fault, Sylvain was the one in charge of strategic planning...” Mercedes tried to explain, but Annette was too furious.

“I don’t care! My revenge will be ejected with its outmost power!”

“Don’t be surprised when they say we are all brute force and no strategy.” Ashe sighed, making Annette turn and glare at him like a possessed woman.

“Ha! As if it were for me! It’s all Dedue’s fault! Which is your fault, because it’s been you who’s been training Dedue all this time.”

“Annette, I kindly ask you to not blame anyone about my physical conditional, because that holds no relationship with our strategic planning. In fact, I would say that Professor Beth is in charge of strategy, because she is our professor.”

“Damn right.” Professor Beth intervened. “Having physical bulk is an advantage, not a disadvantage.”

“Physical bulk? The only physically strong members we have are Dedue and Annie.” Mercedes pointed out.

“Anyway, it doesn’t matter. We will win and that’s it.” Ashe said dismissively.
However, on the battlefield, everyone was trembling and stuttering. The battle officially began. Everyone had a clear strategy, but in a real battle, it all boiled down to acting correctly in response to enemy advances.

The offensive Blue Lion units (aka Ashe, Annette and Ingrid) launched themselves to danger, despite their smaller number. As a result, Dedue, Dimitri and Mercedes made their best to follow after them quickly, but Ingrid with a pegasus was just too fast.

Ingrid was confronted with both Lysithea and Bernadetta in the front lines, each carrying their bows. Lysithea’s bloodlust look made Ingrid cower so much that she dismounted her Pegasus and waited for Annette to reach her, which didn’t take long.

In a lower part of the field, Caspar was advancing towards Dedue with the sole intention of beating him with his fists, followed by Lindhardt and Leonie, who were desperately trying to prevent having Caspar knocked down quickly.

Caspar didn’t manage to break through the enemy lines, because he was attacked by a magic spell before. He thought it would be Annette’s or Mercedes’, forgetting Ashe knew reason, and thus he was taken out after a second blow reached him.

“We are going to die.” Lindhardt said in the most pessimist way, peering at Leonie, who effectivley recognized Ashe’s weak defense and used a bow technique to take him out.

Lindhardt was impressed by Leonie’s power, but she was almost tackled by Dedue, managing to escape his attack range with a very low health. Lindhardt healed her but they had to continue moving upwards, where their allies needed them.

Annette was destroying their archers, and she didn’t even need magic to do it.

“I am inevitable!” Annette was screaming as she broke through the enemy’s army, followed by a distressed Mercedes and a confused Dimitri. She had effectively taken down both Bernadetta and Lysithea, while Ingrid was a simple bystander that was locked into another fight with Petra, whose skill, speed and strength matched Ingrid’s.

Annette headed to the Golden Deer’s area next. She effortlessly swung her axe and destroyed both Ignatz and Raphael, following Lorenz as he tried to escape. She was alone, since Mercedes and Dimitri recognized that she didn’t need help, and they were dealing with Dorothea instead.

“Stop moving, damnit!” Dorothea cried in confusion, as Petra finally emerged victorious from her battle with Ingrid and joined her side to help her. Lindhardt had healed her, so she was back to full health and about to go on a rampage.

Mercedes recognized the threat and called for Annette, but Annette was too busy slaughtering the Golden Deer on her own. Dedue reached them in time and thanks to him, they were able to hold Petra and Dorothea off until Annette came back from her rampage.

However, Annette encountered an unexpected foe that impeded her total win like she was expecting. A single lighting struck her and she was left to a single health point. She looked around, wondering who had done it, but found to no culprit. She ran away to Mercedes, who was able to heal her, but Annette had already lost her confidence and was acting more consciously.

Dedue was taken down by Dorothea, who managed to get a hit on him with reason, and Petra kept trying to get their weakest member, Mercedes, but she was ferociously defended by Annette.
Flayn joined the group and started healing both Petra and Dorothea, making it harder for Annette to take them out. She landed a critical hit on Dorothea, the only way she managed to get her out and Dimitri landed a double hit on Petra, which finally beat the two girls.

The Blue Lions had only three members, the Golden Deer had one and the Black Eagles had five. Their superiority in number should grant them victory, but when Hubert used his dark magic to eliminate Mercedes from the game, Annette just seemed to get angrier, causing her to plunge through the Black Eagles, beating Lindhardt, Leonie and Flayn single-handed.

Then she reached for Hubert and took her revenge while the older male wondered how it was possible that such a monster was part of the monastery.

Annette ran head-first to Edelgard, who was finally able to overcome her physical strength and her magic, and able to finally beat her. Just like that, the only two visible fighters in the field were Dimitri and Edelgard.

Byleth said that he liked to think that Edelgard won on her own, but he knew in reality that Dimitri had not put up a fight. Instead, he had just her won. As for why, Byleth did not completely understand, but his class won thanks to Edelgard and they all celebrated.

In fact, pumped up because of her victory, Edelgard proposed herself for all of them to have a meal together, similar to ones they’d shared in the past. She was blissfully unaware of the fact that they had left one member of the Golden Deer that had surrendered on her own, without doing any effort to fight and had simply left the battlefield as soon as Dimitri had been defeated.

They made their way back to the monastery and the bonds between the classes became clear. Lorenz and Edelgard chatted amicably about House Leader business while some of the members of their classes mingled together. Caspar insistently asked Dedue about his work out routine, who simply said that Ashe was the one that came up with it, but Ashe was no way interested in talking to Caspar and simply refused to leave Ingrid’s side, sheltering himself from the strange people.

Lysithea was impressed by Annette’s battle power and Annette was glad to have an admirer. They chatted amicably as Mercedes and Bernadetta joined them, the shyer girl feeling safe around a motherly presence like Mercedes.

Ingrid was not alone, because Dorothea reached out to her and complimented her on whatever she could find.

Ferdinand practically tripped over himself as he pulled himself and Petra to speak with Dimitri.

“I am Ferdinand von Aegir.” He introduced himself to the Prince of Faerghus, to then start saying how talented he was and how complete he was, while Petra asked him on tricks with the Lance, making the prince chat with them and feel less lonely than he did when he had just arrived and Sylvain was after his head.

However, before they left Gronder field, King Lambert made a last attempt to talk to Ashe, who had tried to ignore him since he had arrived. The King did not manage to reach him, so Glenn instead asked Ingrid to tell Ashe to go to talk to his father.

Ashe stopped walking, ending up at the end of the group, where the Professors were. Professor Byleth and Professor Manuela walked by, but Professor Beth, Ashe’s tutor, waited to see what was happening by to him.

“I heard what happened to Lord Lonato and I’m really sorry.” King Lambert was saying, and Beth was frankly impressed because he looked a lot like his son. “It was never a right choice for me to send you off to his domain, I’m not even certain about why I acted the way I did after I recognized you as my heiress, but Ashe, you are my child and I know I never did the right thing, but I wish for us to reconcile and be a happy family...”

“Shut up!” Ashe cut him off and Beth was very confused, but more thrown off when she saw the tears streaming down Ashe’s face. “You don’t know anything about me! You abandoned me! My parents died and you just left me behind! You’ve never been a father to me. I don’t care if he was a traitor to the church, but Lord Lonato was my real father, not you!”

Beth saw King Lambert sighing deeply, but Ashe lashed at him once more before he even got a chance to speak.

“You don’t even know who I am!”

“Of course I know, Ashe, you’re my daugh...” Beth didn’t hear him finish the sentence, because Ashe stopped him before he could get the words out.

“If I didn’t have a crest.” Ashe’s voice was shaking with anger. “You wouldn’t even recognize me as your son. Because that is what I am, whether you like it or not. You just care about crests. If I didn’t have the crest of Blaiddyd, I would just be another commoner. You have never wanted me to be part of your family. That is why you prevented the news from getting out for the whole kingdom to hear, and you sent me away to one of your servers... I am my own person now and you’re too late to be my father.”

Then Ashe walked away, leaving Beth speechless. She wondered the implications of the conversations she’d just heard. While Ashe just passed her by, glaring at her briefly, King Lambert noticed her presence and talked to her.

“You are Professor Beleth, are you not? Dimitri has talked a lot about you in the letters he’s sent me. I could never thank you enough for saving Dimitri’s life. I apologize profusely for the conversation you’ve just heard, and I have to ask you to not tell anyone about it. It is a family matter that I wish to resolve privately, without anyone else involved. Can I get your word that you won’t spread it around?”

“Yes.” Beth knew it was none’s business but Dimitri’s family. Still, both Ashe and Dimitri were her students and she was concerned about them.

A little part of her wanted them to get along, because as it seemed, they were the siblings. The mysterious noble house that Ashe belonged to was none other than the King’s himself. It seemed that he was illegitimate son, or daughter, judging on what King Lambert thought of him.

She would have to talk it out with Ashe later, when he was less angry and more willing to open up to her. Since he’d come to the monastery, he’d been around people he knew and felt comfortable with, but Beth knew it was time to change that.

 

Back in the monastery, the dining hall was a mess. Everyone sat together and they were all talking together as a huge group. Byleth, Catherine, Alois and Manuela were gleefully speaking about it, but Beth went to meet up with Sothis, Seteth and Rhea instead.

It was a good day, for everyone.

Chapter Text

Yet good days were bound to bring darker ones.
The first indication that something was brewing in Fodlán, something worse than anyone could have ever fathomed, was the attack on Remire Village. That was the village where Sothis raised Beth and when the Knights of Seiros arrived with the news that the village had been attacked and there was a strange disease among the villagers, Rhea was deeply alarmed.

Before telling anyone else rather than Seteth, who was ordered to keep quiet about it, she held a secret reunion with Beth and Sothis.

“Wasn’t Remire Village the place you came from?” Rhea looked at Beth’s eyes with deep worry in her heart, feeling heavy and pained.
“Yes! It was...” Sothis sulked, remembering how the villagers had welcomed Beth warmly, making her feel at home although she had lived most of her life inside a temple. “Those poor people... Rhea... do you think that they knew we lived in there? Do you think they did it because of us?”
“It could have also been because Prince Dimitri was hiding in there. If they didn’t receive the news that he left, perhaps they thought he was still in there and their aim was to take his life. In either case, it means that you two have to stay here, because I’m not willing to risk either of your lives.”
The firmness in Rhea’s voice made Beth realize how it wouldn’t be possible for her to try to convince her of another idea.
“I am going to send Byleth to help the villagers. As far as we know, they shouldn’t be able to link him to us. I’m sure that Captain Jeralt will also be willing to help the village that provided a home to his daughter. Any of the Blue Lions are allowed to go to Remire Village. We are still investigating their links to the prince’s assassination attempt and although Sylvain has a clear connection, we do not know about the others. Watch your students carefully, Beth, for your own safety as well.”
Beth didn’t quite understand why Rhea seemed to care so much about her. Sothis was Rhea’s mother and Sothis had raised her, but that didn’t necessarily mean that Rhea had to be fond of her.

If she cared about Byleth, then that was understandable, because Byleth had lived with her for a long while. But her? They barely knew each other. They didn’t share any family ties, like Beth did with her father.

Beth knew something was off about Rhea and she wanted to know why Rhea was so interested in her.

 

Professor Byleth got called by Rhea and Seteth’s to receive the mission of saving Remire Village. He was to go with no more assistance than the Knights of Seiros, because Rhea wanted as less students as possible involved.

However, he wasn’t doing the most important inquiries in the Monastery. That his sister’s job, who was investigating every single detail, with Sothis’ assistance, to work out the mysteries that Rhea was hiding.
“We should split.” Sothis suggested. “I’ll go to talk to Dimitri and you go talk to everyone else.”
“Why?” Beth simply questioned, making Sothis chuckle.
“I have a few doubts I need to clear. Wait for me back in your room, Ok? It might be long. I promise I won’t harass him.”
Somehow, Beth felt that Sothis wasn’t being completely honest with her. She left to do what she said, she went to talk to the other Blue Lions, but halfway through her path to meet Mercedes, the closest person in the area, she decided she she would go and talk to her father instead.

When she opened the door to his office, he found him there, reading some papers on his table.

“What is that?” She asked him, as he quickly made an effort to hide all of them, but they were too many. Beth got close enough to see his father’s name in one of the letters and a signature that said Sitri.
“I’m still wondering where your mother is. I know that Sandra says that she found you, but what happened to her exactly? In her letters, she speaks as if nothing happened. As if she had raised you. Did she believe we wouldn’t ever find you?” Jeralt sighed, thinking about his missing wife and why she had continued writing letters and pretending their daughter was still with her.

“Maybe they’re false.” Beth suggested, since she had no idea of who her mother was.
“That’s impossible. It’s her handwriting. Curiously enough, the letters stopped coming when you arrived to the monastery... until now. I was checking the handwriting, to see if it matched. It’s the same. It’s her’s. Just... what happened to her?”
“What does the letter say?” Beth asked curiously.
“It says that she misses me.” Jeralt chuckled. “This time, there isn’t anything about you, kiddo. I thought your brother was jealous because she raised you, but.... it was Sandra, wasn’t it? I don’t know why your brother is being such a jerk, but I will try slap some sense into him. Maybe someday, the three of us can go and find where your mother is.”

“Does the letter have an address?”
“It comes from the Leicester Alliance. The exact place, it doesn’t say. My surprise was majuscule when Rhea told me they found you in Faerghus and I began to suspect something was wrong. I know that Sandra says she found you abandoned... but didn’t see Sitri?”
“No, father.” Beth sighed sadly.
“Do you like Sandra? Has she been nice to you?” Jeralt looked almost concerned, but his gruffy tone hid his emotions well.
Beth smiled softly at her father.

“She’s the best.” And Jeralt’s face reflected relief, even if it was just for a brief moment.
Then, when she was done, she headed over to talk to some of her students. the first student she found was Ingrid.
“Lady Rhea is very nice. I like her a lot! I met her when I was around five years old, when my father brought me to the monastery for the first time. She was very kind to me when F...” Ingrid stopped herself and sighed sadly. “I’m sorry, Professor. It’s very hard for me to speak about this.”

 

Then Mercedes and Annette voiced their opinions about her too.

“My younger brother, Jeritza, has been working under her wing for quite a while. I’m very grateful to Lady Rhea, more than one could imagine just looking at me. She’s done so much for my family and she’s been so nice to Jeritza...”
“I have never talked to her personally.” Annette said. “But if Mercie likes her, I’m sure she’s not bad!”

Hearing so many people speak so nicely about Rhea made Beth realize that Rhea was held in high-esteem by most of the students. However, there was one person that was harsh and critical about everyone, someone that would not hesitate to voice any suspicion about Lady Rhea.

And so, Beth went to the dungeon of the monastery, to talk to none other than Sylvain.

“What are you doing here?” Sylvain asked as soon as he saw her. “Have you lost anything here?”
“I want to know why you hate Dimitri so much.” Asking him directly about Lady Rhea was not the proper way to start talking because Beth didn’t want Lady Rhea to dislike her.
“Oh, so someone wants to hear my tragic story. Alright, if that is what you want. Though you probably must be wondering what kind of dark secrets Dimitri is keeping away from you, if he’s not willing to share the truth about what happened to Felix.” When Sylvain said that name, it looked like it caused physical pain to him.

“Who is Felix?” Beth was not exactly an expert on Faerghus nobility, although she knew about the royal line.

“Felix Hugo Fraldarius, Glenn Fraldarius’ younger brother, Ingrid’s fiancée. Does it ring a bell?” Beth knew it did, Ingrid frequently talked about her fiancée and Beth had seen together at Gronder field. “You must know about his tragic death. And if you don’t, I’ll tell you. The short story is that Dimitri killed Felix.”

Beth’s heart missed a beat as she felt it pulsing uncomfortable against her chest. She didn’t believe that Dimitri was capable of murdering someone, much less a friend of his.

“Believe or not. I will always remember how it felt to hold Felix’s dead body in my arms. How... even when he was dying, he asked me to not blame Dimitri. I will never be able to forget how I saw Dimitri slicing Felix in half with his Lance. He’s not a human, despite what it may seem. He’s a monster.”
Then Sylvain, before Beth could say anything, as per usual, cut her off by speaking.
“I promised to him we’d die together and I’ve trying to meet him for forever now, but I can’t die.” Sylvain seemed sad about it. “This world sucks. At least Felix escaped from it.”

Beth was at a loss. She had no idea of what to say.

“Crests is all that matters. Nothing else. People like Archbishop Rhea only continue spreading those ideals and making the world worse.”

In the end, Beth didn’t have enough courage to ask Sylvain what he knew about Rhea, but she had obtained some information about Felix and Dimitri’s past. Somehow, the next time she looked at Dimitri, she wouldn’t see him in the same light.

 

However, parallel to her chat with Sylvain, someone had started to talk to Byleth. Byleth supposed it was his sister, but he didn’t quite understand why she was wearing the students’ uniform.
“Please, let me come with you!” The girl cried, with a softer voice than Beth’s. Beth’s was quite raspier, quite graver than her voice.
“Why don’t you ask Archbishop Rhea?” Byleth grunted.
“She said that students are not allowed to go. But I’m your sister.” She seemed to hesitate while saying those words. “I think I’ll be great help.”
Byleth chuckled for a second. Well, if Beth wanted to come along, he was nobody to oppose her will. At least, he could use some help.
‘Beth’ walked out of the cathedral and bumped into Edelgard, who was coming inside.
“Oh, Au... Princess Edelgard, I’m sorry.” She apologized, and left running.
The confused brunette walked over to Byleth and started telling him about a new tea she’d found, while Byleth listened to her with a soft smile on his face.

 

The trip to Remire Village was long. Beth was unusually quiet, rigid, intent on not speaking to anybody. No one called her out, but many had noticed her strange behavior. Jeralt was the first one, and he headed over to talk to her.

“Are you alright, kiddo?” Jeralt blinked once or twice, thinking that Beth’s skin was paler than the tone he was seeing. “You seem... very lonely. Why don’t you talk to your brother or some of the other kids? There must be someone, aside from your students, that you’ll like.”

“No, thanks.” She replied quietly and Jeralt, despite not knowing his daughter for long, knew something was terribly wrong with that girl, who definitely wasn’t his daughter.
There were many differences that only a keen eye would notice. That girl’s hair was greener than Beth’s and her eyes were greener as well. Her skin was slightly darker, as if she had been more time under the sun and the shape of her face didn’t quite resemble Sitri’s as much as Beth’s did.

He didn’t want to raise the alarm, but if she noticed anything strange, he would say it aloud for everyone to hear.

Meanwhile, Dorothea was busy theorizing about Beth’s presence and her unusual behavior.

“I think she’s coming because she feels guilty, she’s quite adorable, isn’t she? I mean, the professor’s cool, he’s got this cool charm to him but Beth is just so cute.” Dorothea kept on rambling on Bernadetta’s and Leonie’s ears.

“I think I know someone you consider cuter than Beth.” Leonie smirked smugly, as Dorothea sharply turned around and glared at her.
“Who, if I may know?”
“Oh please, Dorothea, you’re always following Brigid’s princess like a lost puppy.” Dorothea’s ears blushed red as she tried to come up with reasons to justify why she was so fond of Petra, hoping Petra wasn’t hearing them.

Luckily for her, Petra was too busy talking about Brigid cuisine with Edelgard and Byleth.

“Caspar, drop Lindhardt, what the hell are you even doing?” Catherine approached Caspar and tried to lift Lindhardt off his shoulders, but Caspar was holding the sleeping boy tightly.
“I’m training, like Dedue.”
“Dedue is roughly two meters tall, you are not even half of his height and lack the muscular mass he possesses, how on Fodlan do you plan to carry out the same training regime he does, with a heavier subject?” Hubert scowled. “Pathetic.”

Catherine leaned over to where Shamir was standing and whispered quite loudly to her ear how rude Hubert was being.

“I think that is very nice that you want to give a gift to Bernie, but you should take into consideration that carnivore plants are dangerous and you could lose a finger if you’re not careful.” Lysithea was saying, but then they arrived to the village and she clasped a hand over her mouth to keep a cry from escaping.

The village was on fire and the villagers were acting like undead people.

“Come on, kid, let’s save your sister’s village.” Jeralt said to Byleth, who nodded to him and ran ahead into battle.
The perpetrator of the attack was none other than the Emperor of the Night himself, standing in the village with a phantasmagoric horse, next to his ally, the Wyvern Knight. They were standing over the village like they were its leaders or something, making the Knights of Seiros grimace at how horrifying the scene was.

To everyone’s surprise, ‘Beth’ ran ahead of them and directly to the Night Emperor’s position. Jeralt knew it was dangerous, specially because there were many enemies in the area and they would all launch themselves at ‘Beth’ if they weren’t stopped.

“She’s going to die if we don’t intervene!” Catherine voiced Jeralt’s thoughts. “We should hurry!”
“Alright, kid.” Jeralt looked at his son. “You call the shots.”
Byleth nodded and entered the battlefield. His main mission was saving his sister and preventing the enemies around her from slaying her. He directed the students dutifully as to prevent them from getting in danger and to sweep off as many enemies as they could.

As Beth advanced, Byleth noticed how she was relying mostly on reason to fight. She was quicker than normal, dodging the hits with ease as she was constantly surrounded by enemies. Edelgard and Dorothea were always running after her as to stop the enemies from cornering her, while Lysithea was taking care of flanking. Leonie and Petra were trying to save as many villagers as possible and although Ferdinand had been ordered to help take out enemies with his higher mobility, he was also trying to save the villagers.

Byleth was most of the time ignorant to how the girl that was with them was different to his sister, but when she shot a beam of light to an enemy, he saw a crest that he was unable to recognize, that definitely wasn’t the crest of Flames. He thought it could be the crest of Seiros, since their father had it, but somehow that didn’t feel right either.

The crest that flashed in the air looked like a new moon. Byleth only saw the shape briefly and he was unable to understand how it was possible for Beth to have to two crests. As far he knew, she only had the crest of flames. Hanneman had never said anything and the only subject that was confirmed to have two crests in the monastery was Sylvain.

Beth eventually reached the Night Emperor, bypassing the Wyvern Knight, who tried to attack her but was stopped by Byleth and Jeralt. Once ‘Beth’ stood in front of the mysterious subject that was so interested in bringing chaos to Fodlan, she channeled the strongest spell she knew, but the Night Emperor survived the hit without major difficulties and simply laughed at her face of confusion.

“You are not the one I’m looking for.” The Emperor said, and ‘Beth’ tightened her fists, because she knew she wasn’t. “Who are you?”

‘Beth’ did not reply and just stood still, digging her heels to the ground and biting her lip until it started bleeding.
“That does not matter. I will kill you anyway.” The Night Emperor lightened up his fist and the hit was sure to struck ‘Beth’, but before it did, someone stood in the way.

It was a figure clad in red, with a flamboyant mask to cover whoever’s face was hiding under the armor.
“I will deal with him.” Byleth sucked a breath in, because he recognized that voice, but he looked at his students and knew it was impossible for a person to be at two places at the same time. “Go and catch the Wyvern Knight.”
As the two armored subjects, one in red and the other in black, fought each other, the group of the Knights of Seiros and the students of the academy concentrated in reducing the Wyvern Knight and trying to capture whoever it was.

 

When the fight was over, the Night Emperor managed to get away, while the person that was in a red armor talked to Beth and then left as well. They were able to capture the Wyvern Knight and the first they did once they were sure that there was no threat, they took off the mask.

None other than Hilda was behind the mask.

“Hah! I called it!” Leonie shouted. “It was Hilda since the very beginning! Now, give me a round of applause everyone.”

Impressed, Dorothea, a Edelgard, Petra, Ferdinand and Lysithea clapped, because Leonie was absolutely right. Hubert just snickered under his breath while Bernadetta was freaking out because she had figured out something but didn’t want to say it. Lindhardt was sleeping and Caspar was talking to the villagers, so he wasn’t present during the reveal.

“It is relieving that we finally were able to capture Hilda.” Catherine said. “Though it is a shame she was able to cause so much damage before we did.”
“We should head back to the monastery now, before they call in reinforcements. This village shouldn’t suffer anymore.” Jeralt said wisely. “Byleth. Are you alright, son?”
“Beth...” Byleth simply mumbled, lost in his thoughts.
“I noticed as well. We should speak about that privately, where no one can hear us.”

 

Yet back at the monastery, Beth was having tea with Marianne, Ingrid and Sothis. Marianne shyly sipped on her tea as Ingrid kept talking about Glenn, motivated because Sothis had asked about him. Sothis listened attentively to Ingrid, while shooting side-glances at Beth.

The Knights and the Black Eagles arrived at the monastery and they were greeted by Lady Rhea. Professor Byleth and Jeralt advanced slowly towards her, to report the result of the mission. Hilda was being restrained by Alois and Catherine, who had her face bare for everyone to see.

Marianne’s heart clenched inside her chest as she saw Hilda’s pink eyes looking at her with sadness. Hilda was probably going to be questioned, because she had done a long list of questionable actions, and possibly the executed. Marianne still remembered her first encounter with the Wyvern Knight and knew that she’d been risking her life then, but still felt pity and sympathy for her friend.

But before Hilda was questioned, Byleth and Jeralt needed to tell Rhea about the mysterious girl that had impersonated Beth.

“There is someone here that looks strangely similar to my daughter.” Jeralt was saying. “But she came with us to help us capture the Wyvern Knight. As it seems, she was more interested in the Night Emperor, but she wasn’t able to defeat him.”
“So I see.” Rhea sucked a breath in. “I explicitly told Beth to not join the mission and I know for a fact that she stayed in the monastery. I will now ask you to find the student that resembles Beth and bring her to me so I can speak with her.”
Seteth was not present in the scene, that conversation was too private for anyone else to hear. There was only Rhea, Jeralt and Byleth. As soon as Byleth left the room to search for the student, Rhea and Jeralt were left alone.
“You have some explaining to do, Lady Rhea. Why did you forbid my daughter from joining the mission?” Rhea tensed, but she straightened herself up rigidly.
“I thought she might be in danger. I simply wished to not put her in danger.”
“You seem oddly concerned for my children. Both of them. Not to mention, your close relationship with that ‘Sandra’. Did you know her, already?”
“In fact, I did. But that is no reason for accusing me of anything. Sandra is simply a follower of the church, which is why I knew her. Excuse me for worrying about a child that I practically raised and for a devoted worker like Beth.”
“I just think that it is very strange that your friend winds up with my daughter in tow, while my wife is gone and there are no news of her...”

“How dare you accuse me of causing any harm on Sitri? I would never, never in the world willingly cause any harm to someone as dear to me as Sitri! A nun of the Church, nothing less! Seteth and I are still investigating what happened to her, but I assure you, we’ll get to the bottom of it.”

“I’ve been tying things together. This student comes from Leicester, where the letters of my wife came from, and she looks exactly like her, this cannot be a coincidence...”

“What are you implying? Do you think that Beth is not your daughter? I assure you that it’s her. No other subject in the monastery has ever possessed the crest of flames but Sitri and Byleth, there is no way that could have substituted Byleth’s twin sister, not when I didn’t even know something happened to Sitri...” Rhea’s words were filled with rage, as her green eyes furiously looked at Jeralt.
“Fine... I see that you are right. I apologize for being so inconsiderate. I know how much Sitri mattered to you. She held you in high esteem as well.”

“Captain Jeralt, I’ve trying for long to keep this a secret, as to protect Sitri’s identity, but you have only shown devotion for her. I think I can reveal the true nature of my relationship with Sitri. She was... my daughter. I know it might seem strange for me to be so watchful over Byleth and Beth, but the truth is that they’re blood of my blood and I must protect them. I felt my soul crushing the day I had to send Sitri away, but I thought I would keep her safe... I was wrong. The only thing I have left to do is find where Sitri is, and you can either help me or get out of my way.” Rhea’s last words, though she had been previously speaking with softness and sweetness, were punctuated by anger.

“There is nothing I want more than seeing Sitri again.” Jeralt sighed. “By whatever means.”
“It seems we share this sentiment.” Rhea nodded, pleased with the outcome of the conversation, as a little smile worked its way up to her mouth.

 

Byleth was hurrying to find Blanche, but he couldn’t seem to find her. On his way there, he encountered many students that offered to help him, while some were asking why he wanted to find Blanche.

“Professor!” Edelgard seemingly did not notice he was in the middle of a mission. “I cannot seem to find Dimitri anywhere. Do you have any idea of where he could be?”
“No.” Byleth noticed how distressed Edelgard looked like, as she breathed in deeply and sighed.

“If you see him, please tell me. I’m very concerned about him. He was supposed to be in his quarters but he just left a note.”

Edelgard gave Byleth the note so he could see it. The note was very brief, and it simply said: I’ll be back. And then it was signed with the crest of Blaiddyd. Byleth sighed in desperation, thinking how someone could be so utterly stupid (or secretive) to write a note like that. Without further information like where to find him.

“I have to look for Blanche right now. But I’ll help you look for Dimitri later.” Byleth promised.
“Wait! What if they’re together? What if Blanche plans to hurt Dimitri?” Edelgard was making you scenarios in her head that looked each more horrible than the last. “Or worse, what if Blanche has pretended to be Beth so she could lure Dimitri somewhere dangerous and kill him?”
“Calm down, Edelgard.” Byleth sighed.
“I must get to it immediately. Where is Hubert when you need him? I need someone to hold me or I will faint! Goddess, why is Hubert always around but never when he’s necessary?” Edelgard continued panicking and speaking stupid things, much to Byleth’s amusement. “Where could be possibly be? I think my heart won’t be capable of handling this anymore, I need, to do, something!”

 

Meanwhile, Hubert was in Rhea’s secret working room, with the Reading Association. The reading association was in reality a group of people that went to Rhea’s working room to read the books that she hid in there. Bernadetta was cross-referencing them with the stories she wrote herself, diligently working on a table while Lysithea wiped her sweat.

“I need another tissue!” Lysithea turned to Ferdinand, who gave her a tissue. Ferdinand was reading a book with two tissues up his nose, both soaked in blood. For some reason, Ferdinand had started bleeding randomly. He told Hubert he was reading some old lore stories from Rhea’s secret archive, but the name of the book he was reading did not suggest that. The book he was supposed to be contrasting with the one he was reading was upside down, implying he wasn’t really using it.

Also, if Ferdinand had paper tissues instead of the tissues with his initials was because a single tissue could not contain all the blood.
“Look, Mercie, there is a dragon in here!” Annette pointed at the dragon in the book, as Caspar tried to lean over and see, but Annette was holding the book out for only Mercedes to see, who was herself busy with another book.
“What is that?” Mercedes questioned, perplex.
“I don’t know but it is amazing!” Annette kept skipping pages without reading, only to see the drawings. Her father had taught her to do that.
“Annette, let me see that...” Mercedes tried to grab the book and she was able to because Annette released her grasp on it, so Mercedes started reading the lore.
Meanwhile, Annette took her book and read a few words. She put the book down and stared at Mercedes judgmentally, while Mercedes read about the white dragon in the book Annette was reading.

 

But on the surface, Edelgard and Byleth were looking for Blanche and Dimitri like crazy. They left no stone unturned, but they were unable to find the place they were hiding in.
The thing was, Blanche and Dimitri were not hiding. They had left the monastery and were heading to Fhirdiad.

The only person that saw them leave was Ashe, who was casually strolling around the monastery with Dedue, but did not bother to say anything because he was not asked. Luckily, Dedue was more level-headed and he went to report what he’d seen to Beth, his professor, while Ashe followed him and voiced very convincing threats.

“No more Duscurian food for a week! I’m serious! I will talk to the chefs and since I’m the ‘Prince of Faerghus’ sister’ they will listen to me!” There was a very mocking intonation to the part of being the Prince of Faerghus’ sister. Ashe had just hurt himself instead of threatening Dedue.
“You don’t care? Fine. Then I’ll tell everyone your feet smell! Hah! How do you like that? No one will ever look at your feet the same way!”
“Ashe, I do not care about my feet.” Dedue sighed.
“Then I’ll tell them you’re afraid of ghosts and everyone will believe you’re a coward! A big man like you scared of ghosts? Hahahaha, it will be ridiculous!”
“Ashe, it’s you the one who’s afraid of ghosts.” Dedue once again did not even turn to look at Ashe, but with his smaller, more agile legs, Ashe ran past him and stood in front of him, trying to be a human shield to stop him, but Dedue easily lifted him and was about to put him in the ground, but Ashe shouted “WAIT!”
Then Dedue expectantly looked at him. “Is there anyway I can change your mind?” He said, in what tried to sound like a seductive tone, but ended up sounding like a mixture of hopeful, desperate and worried.
To his chagrin, Dedue gently left him in the floor and continued advancing. In one last attempt to stop him, Ashe tried to tackle Dedue but failed miserably as he was unable to overcome his weight and simply hanged off his waist.
Dedue turned around, so he could see Ashe’s eyes of puppy under the rain.
“Why do you want me to not tell Beth?”
“Tell me what?” Beth seemed unimpressed by the scene in front of her, Ashe hugging Dedue’s waist with his face in a place anyone would question and Dedue completely unaffected by it.
“I saw Dimitri and Blanche leaving the Monastery.” Dedue’s said.
Beth’s eyes grew wide as she panicked and ran to tell Lady Rhea, while Ashe just fell to the floor with a solid puff.

“You are the worst b...” Ashe was in the middle of saying, when suddenly Petra appeared in the hall as well.
She saw Ashe’s face on Dedue’s shoes as his body was sprawled on the ground. Dedue bent over to pick Ashe up, as the younger boy protested and tossed him over his shoulder.
“Oh-oh! I say apologies for intruding!” Petra screamed, as Dedue marched down the hall.

 

Beth practically tore the door down when she arrived at Rhea’s office. Her father was there too, sipping on a beverage that the Archbishop had prepared for the two of them.

“Two students have left the monastery unreported.” Beth collapsed from the effort of running so quick and so much in such a short time.
As for Rhea, she felt a shiver up her spine.
“Who were those students?”
“Dimitri and Blanche.” Beth had never seen Blanche, but she figured it would be someone from the Golden Deer class.
Rhea dropped her teacup and got up immediately. She started shouting Seteth’s name as the Knights in the area and the professors sprang up. Manuela asked Beth what had gotten Rhea so shaken up, while Catherine ran after her.

 

“Lady Rhea, the preparations for the White Heron cup...” Seteth was climbing the stairs with a stack of papers on his arms.
“I don’t care about the White Heron cup!” Rhea’s angry voice boomed in all the room. “The prince of the Kingdom of Faerghus and the impersonator of one our professors have left the monastery unnoticed. Who was guarding the door?”

“If I’m not wrong, it was the usual Gatekeeper...” Seteth trailed off as Rhea’s green eyes narrowed dangerously.

“Send the execution order immediately. We must prepare a search party right now and find the prince.” Rhea only grew more and more angry as she mouthed the words. “Catherine!”

“Lady Rhea?” Catherine asked.

“Tell Professor Byleth that he does not need to look for Blanche any longer.” As Catherine took her leave, Archbishop Rhea turned to Seteth. “We need the flying patrol to locate Dimitri and Blanche. Who was patrolling this week?”

Seteth said the names of some students from Golden Deer as Rhea’s fists tightened so much that her nails dig into her skin and drew blood. The situation was dire, Rhea had no idea of who Blanche was, but if she posed any threat to her family and everything she’d been building for over a thousand years, she would obliterate her in a second.

“Lady Rhea.” Shamir arrived, followed by Alois. “We have successfully put Goneril in her cell. Is everything ready for the interrogation?”

“I’m sorry, Shamir.” Rhea said, her voice deep and that of a maniac. “The interrogations have to wait for now.”

Professor Byleth was ordered to help as much as he could locating the missing students and Rhea had given him permission let some students of his choice participate in the search mission as long as the students promised secrecy.

Professor Byleth chose some of his students to help him search from the skies the nearby locations of the monastery. Meanwhile, Hubert and some of the other students (Lindhardt, Lysithea, Bernadetta and Ferdinand) had stayed behind to assess the situation and come up with possible routes Dimitri could have followed.

The two main suggestions were that Dimitri and Blanche had either fled to Faerghus or Leicester. Leicester, because Blanche was from there, and Faerghus because Dimitri wouldn’t have easily accepted leaving with a stranger unless he knew where he was going. Lysithea and Lindhardt were in charge of reconstructing a route from The Monastery to locations in Leicester while Bernadetta and Ferdinand were studying possible locations in Faerghus.

Since Ingrid and Professor Beth were leading some of the search teams in Faerghus, Annette, Mercedes, Dedue and Ashe were allowed to participate in the route constructions and deconstruction. Annette was specially useful because she knew Faerghus very well, while Mercedes kept her grounded and preventing her sharp tongue from angering those around her.

Ferdinand interrogated Dedue to get all the details from the scene he’d seen while Hubert intimidated Ashe into helping them, which surprisingly worked.

“And what color was that flag that they passed by?” Ferdinand was asking.
“Why would that be relevant? It doesn’t show any information as to....”
“DID I STUTTER?” Ferdinand shouted, as he willed Dedue to carry on saying what he’d seen. “The color of the flag could be crucial for this investigation.”

“I doubt it.”
“How dare you? I am the detective in charge of this...”
“You’re not a detective.”
“That’s right, I’m Ferdinand von Aegir...!” Ferdinand said proudly, completely ignoring Dedue’s scornful look.

“Your partner is having a seizure, Mr. von Aegir.” Dedue pointed all calmly, gesturing at Bernadetta, who was dragging the figurines over the map on the table, as she shook because she was uncomfortable being surrounded by so many people.

If Bernadetta was so uncomfortable, it was because she didn’t know Ashe and she didn’t know Dedue other. Having them suddenly in the classroom had tipped her off considerably, but she was still trying to do her work.

When she figured out something, she screamed it loudly and Ferdinand almost fell off his chair. “I KNOW WHERE THEY WENT.”

Then she ran away while shaking like crazy. Annette got up from her seat to chase her, claiming that she had found it and if Bernadetta stole the credit she would pluck her hairs one by one and feed them to the horses. It wasn’t a death threat, like some students were used to. It was a bald threat, softened because Bernadetta was sensitive and deep down, Annette knew and she cared.
Dedue looked at Mercedes.
“You are doing a really bad job restraining her. Professor Beth said that...”
“I know what Professor Beth said, Dedue, don’t remind me.” Mercedes sighed, closing her eyes “She’s too uncontrollable, I doubt that even Seteth would be able to make her see reason. Back in the magical academy, Annette would usually got into trouble because the kids picked on her because of how much she spoke of Gustave...”

When Mercedes opened her eyes Hubert and Dedue were fighting while Ferdinand was looking at her as if what she was saying was the most interesting thing in the world.

 

Bernadetta reached Byleth’s office and went inside before Annette could get to her. When Bernadetta was inside, she sighed in relief, but the strong knocks on the door said otherwise.

Byleth shot a questioning look at Bernadetta as Bernadetta stuck herself to the wall, cringing in fear. When Byleth opened the door, he saw Annette standing in front of it holding an axe.

“Here’s Ann- Oh, hello professor!” Annette said, switching from terrific to sweet and happy in a second. Luckily, Professor Byleth did not notice.
“Do you carry an axe everywhere?” Byleth asked, surprised.
“Uh. Well, my father recommended me to take one, you see, it is a simple measure of protection. I hang a lot with Mercie and men like her very much, so it’s impossible to know when things are going to become dangerous...” Annette explained, as if it was usual.

“And where do you hide it?” Byleth asked curiously.
“Oh, I have a strap in the inside of my jacket, it’s quite useful...”
“I should think of something similar.”
“Right? The surprise factor is really important, no one knows what could be hidden inside a jacket! Hahaha!”

Byleth let her in and walked to where Bernadetta was standing, hugging her knees.

“Bernie, what did you want to say?”
“Annette and I” Annette smiled. “Found where Dimtri might be. We think that sending troops to Fhirdiad might be a good idea.”
“Why Fhirdiad?” Byleth asked.
“Maybe Dimitri just wanted to go home. Sometimes, I wanted to go home too, I was very scared. Maybe Dimitri is scared too, with all that happened with Sylvain and all...”
“That makes sense.” Byleth agreed.

 

The next step consisted of asking Ingrid about Fhirdiad, since she was the closest person to Dimitri and the person that had been there more times. Edelgard had met Dimitri outside Faerghus many times so she wasn’t as familiar with the Kingdom’s Capital.

To Ingrid, it was a bit strange that Dimitri would decide to head for Fhirdiad with a stranger like Blanche. Perhaps Dimitri thought Blanche was Beth, but that was unlikely, because Dimitri knew Beth better than anyone, second to Jeralt and Sandra perhaps.

However, Ingrid thought that they wasted nothing going to Fhirdiad. If Fhirdiad wasn’t where Dimitri went, then they were out of ideas. The Leicester Alliance was too big for them to pin point any spot where Blanche would want to drag Dimitri. Unless it was somehow related to Sitri, which was the theory Rhea and Sothis had been elaborating with Jeralt’s help.

Still, they dispatched a team leaded by Professor Byleth, accompanied by the Knights, Professor Beth, some students from the Black Eagles and the Blue Lions. Ingrid was the second-in-command because she had to pinpoint specific locations where Dimitri could have gone to.

The obvious places were a no-go. The were full of people and eventually someone would have reported seeing Dimitri. The team of scouters and fighters (Petra, Bernadetta, Hubert, Edelgard, Annette, Mercedes, Dedue and Ashe) were trying to pinpoint specific locations.

Then Ingrid had a flash of inspiration. There was only one place left and she felt her skin tingle with anticipation. There was the place where Felix died...

Sylvain, Dimitri, Felix and her had gone to do an exploration with Miklan and Glenn. They had heard that there was a rumor of an underground city, under Fhirdiad. The tunnel that led there was supposed to be in a cavern, the Cavern of the Undead. It was a place where, in times of war, the armies buried their dead. Many people had reported seeing moment around the cavern, even though it was desert, leading to the rumors of people that were buried alive were still there, lurking.

Ingrid did not see how Felix died, but she had trusted Sylvain’s words. Glenn, on the contrary, trusted Dimitri and decided to not blame him, while Miklan did the same just to piss Sylvain off. By that time, Miklan was alive and Sylvain’s hair was a fiery red.

“It is a dangerous place.” Ingrid began. “But I think that I know where Dimitri might be.”

The girl was still trying to figure out why Dimitri would want to go there.

“Well? Speak up.” Edelgard was clearly worried and wanted to know where Dimitri was.

“There is the place where Felix... where Felix died. I’ve tried to think of other places but they are too public... I think... maybe Blanche lead him there because she wants to... Or maybe it’s just... to get over his past or something like that.”

“What are we waiting for?” Catherine asked. “Come on, let’s go.”

 

On their way there, Dedue and Hubert started fighting again, Bernadetta accepted Annette as her personal bodyguard because Annette had good references from other clients (Mercedes) and Petra shared Brigid jokes with Edelgard, who didn’t understand half of them but laughed anyway.

Then they arrived at the cavern and the cheerful atmosphere they had been trying to build suddenly died down. It was a dark place and it was fairly obvious that no one wanted to go there, ever.

However, bravely, Edelgard stepped inside, followed by Hubert. The professors and the knights marched in, as some students were a tad bit more hesitant to go inside.

 

However, once they were inside, they noticed rocks gleaming in the darkness. Ingrid frowned, because she didn’t remember that. She had carried torches the last time she’d been there.

Everyone was quiet. They were trying to listen, in case there was someone inside. As it turned out, there were living beings inside, but they weren’t Dimitri or Blanche. They were wolves, ridiculously sized wolves.

The professors pulled out their swords and tried to advance, but teamwork was required as to reach as far as possible. Worryingly, Beth realized that Dimitri could have been hurt in case the wolves had appeared.

It seemed that the cavern had no bottom. The wolves kept on appearing, but there was no sign of Dimitri. Ingrid started to worry, thinking that she had needlessly leaded her classmates to danger.

However, a while after the flock stopped and the battlefield seemed calm, a last wolf came. It was white, unlike the others, and it had blue fur. There two figures next to it, that were not easily seen in the dark.

Byleth raised the sword in a fighting stance, but one of the figures stepped forward.

“Don’t attack!” It was Blanche, wearing an armor that wasn’t either Beth’s or the academy’s. “Please.”

Everyone dropped their weapons in confusion as they saw the wolf and Dimitri coming forward, Dimitri’s hand intertwined with the wolf’s fur.

“What is that wolf?” Annette wondered why it was so different to the other wolves.

Ingrid, however, realized exactly who it was. She dismounted her Pegasus and walked to the wolf’s side, as it started wagging its tail.

“We don’t have much time. We should leave before another horde comes.” Dimitri said, looking at Ingrid.

She nodded and left to the entrance with everyone else. Catherine kept turning around to see if the wolf would attack them, but it was being pacific. Byleth kept an eye on Blanche, trying to make sure she wouldn’t do anything strange.

“Explanations, Dimitri, now.” Beth demanded as soon as they were in a relatively safe place.
Dimitri cowered in fear and took a deep breath, as to prepare what he was going to say.
“This is Felix.” The wolf seemed to flinch at his own name. “He’s been trapped here since we found a false version of his body. Felix never died and Felix had been here all this time.”
“Wait!” Catherine cried. “How could this... thing... be Felix?”
“Of that, I’m not sure.” Dimitri admitted. “But I know for a fact that it is him.”
“Are you playing us for fools, your Highness?” Shamir asked.
“No. It-It really is Felix.” Ingrid came closer to the wolf and petted it. “I don’t know how to explain it, but... I know it’s him.”

“He has the Crest of Fraldarius too.” Dimitri pointed out, as if suddenly he knew everything. “No other animal has been ever able to naturally present any crest. When Blanche and I were attacked by the horde he belonged to, he used it.”
“How did you know he was here?” Byleth asked, frankly impressed by the outcome of the rescue mission.
“I’m afraid I cannot disclose that information.” Dimitri said cryptically.
“Why not?” Beth seemed annoyed.
“It’s all on me.” Blanche stepped in his defense. “Don’t harass him. I’m sure you want to interrogate me, after what happened in Remire Village, so I will answer your questions, if you allow us to bring Felix along.”
“You want to take... that thing?” Catherine asked in amusement.
“Yes.” Blanche answered simply.
“Please, we have to!” Ingrid insisted. “It’s really Felix! We can’t abandon him. Not again.”

Just like that, Blanche promised to allow them to interrogate her and cooperate. They went back to the monastery, everyone in one piece, much to Rhea’s relief, who had been waiting for them.

The students headed to the dorms while Beth, Byleth and Blanche went to Lady Rhea’s office. The Knights were going to look for a place to leave Felix in.

Sothis and Seteth were inside Rhea’s office when the siblings and the mysterious girl came inside. Sothis asked Seteth to leave because she’d seen Flayn being harassed by a boy. Seteth left immediately.
“Just... who are you?” Archbishop Rhea first asked, as she came to stand toe to toe with Blanche. “Why are you similar to Beth? Are you a daughter that Sitri had without telling anyone?”
“No. It’s quite harder to explain than that. According to the academy files, my residence is Derdriu, which is technically true because I was born there. However, the place I’m from is the same as it is now. I... I am from the future.”
“Oh dear!” Sothis exclaimed. “Does the Divine Pulse have so much power to do something like that? Wait. You came using the Divine Pulse, didn’t you?”
“Or a derived mechanism, but the same essentially.” Blanche chuckled.
“Wait. You said you were born in Derdriu. That means that there it is not possible for you to be Beleth from the future.”

“That is true. My real name is Blanche and I’m not even a bearer of the Crest of Flames. I’m... Beleth’s daughter from the future.” She revealed, quite meekly. “And I’m here because I want to stop the war that will fall upon Fodlan.”
“A war!” Rhea screeched. “But you could have told us. Why did you go to Remire village without saying anything? And why did you leave with Dimitri?”
“I’ve been trying to fix the future discreetly.” Blanche explained. “Tried to kill the Night Emperor before he even started the war. In my timeline, the Wyvern Knight was captured much later, so I believe we are on the right path. We also saved Felix, so that is another problem less for us!”
“How does saving Felix change anything?” Rhea asked, in amusement.
“Sylvain was bribed into joining the enemy army because they had Felix. If we tell him that Felix is alive, I’m sure he’ll agree to help us.”
“Isn’t that too far-fetched? Sylvain is an enemy of the church, a criminal and he tried to killed Prince Dimitri. Will he really swear loyalty to us and fight on our side if we give him Felix?”
“Yes. Because the enemy army does not know how to turn Felix back into a human, but we do.” Blanche explained. “In fact, that is how we got Sylvain to help us. If we managed to save the Empire’s capital it was thanks to him...”
“I... will consider your idea.” Rhea said, wondering what kind of relationship her future self had with Blanche. “Yet this matter does not fail to impress me. Did we help you come here, to solve everything before it even began?”
“You and the Goddess, indeed.” Blanche nodded, eyeing Sothis discreetly. “Is Grandfather alright?”

“You mean Captain Jeralt? He... he should be. He’s in his office right now.” Rhea answered, quite surprised. “Did something happen to him?”

“Yes. In my timeline, he was killed after the ball. By an enemy spy, called Kronya, who disguised as a student. Luckily, I already disposed of her, but I fear they might try to send another assassin to kill him.”
“Hm. I will look into the issue. As for now, we have the Wyvern Knight to tend to. The interrogation is still pendent and it will be crucial as to reveal what the Night Emperor’s plans are.”
“I only know about the attack in a few months... but the Wyvern Knight might know something else.”

 

Somehow, Sothis and Rhea completely believed Blanche. Sothis perhaps had a heightened sense of institution because of her divine powers, while Rhea’s reason for knowing was unclear, perhaps it could simply because she trusted her mother.

But the twins had a harder time coming to terms with it. Byleth was scared she was just an impostor, since she carried an unknown crest, while Beth hadn’t quite assimilated the fact she had a daughter. She had no idea of who she had it with, and that made her a tad bit suspicious, but Blanche did look a lot like her, except for the minor characteristics that possibly came from her father, whoever it was.

The news she carried were worrying as well. A war was a very concerning matter, specially since the enemy they had had acted with a little group. Where would his troops come from? Was he really that powerful to start a war on his own? Blanche seemed to know that the Night Emperor was a male, but as to who he was, Blanche might know or might know. She hadn’t said anything and Beth did not want to pressure her, neither did Rhea or Sothis.

 

In the prison of the monastery, there was Marianne looking at Hilda, with a sad look in her eyes. Hilda wasn’t looking at her, staring at the floor instead.

“What are you doing here, Marianne?” Beth asked, not angry because Marianne was not supposed to be there, but worried because she knew how attached Marianne was to Hilda.

“I-I’m very Sorry, Professor. Lysithea told me s-she was here, but I couldn’t believe it was really her the one who....” Marianne stuttered out, as tears formed in her eyes and she cried her heart out.

“I’m sorry as well, but we have to ask you to leave. We have important matters to tend to.” Archbishop Rhea intervened, with a hint of compassion in her voice and in her eyes.

“You’re not going to punish me?” Marianne was surprised.
“I don’t believe there is any need to do that. Also, It’s a matter for your professors to decide.” Rhea said, looking at Beth and Byleth.
“It’s alright.” Byleth nodded dismissively.
“Take care, please.” Beth seemed worried.

 

Then Marianne left, making the big family turn to Hilda. Hilda wasn’t looking at them, her eyes were solely focused on the ground, as she didn’t move an inch despite the people mumbling about her.

“Miss Hilda Valentine Goneril.” Archbishop Rhea commenced. “If you do not wish to meet your early end, you will cooperate with us. Do you accept your terms or do you refuse?”
“I accept.” Hilda said in a squeaky voice, full of resentment.
“Very well. We know who the King of Night is.” Rhea discretely eyed Blanche. “However, to test your trust, you have to state his name, region of origin and ancestry.”

“You can’t possibly know who it is.” Hilda seemed frankly astonished.
“But we do.” Rhea affirmed. It was merely a bluff, but Hilda seemed scared, so it was a smart way to learn who their enemy was.
“You don’t know it.” Hilda said firmly, as she insisted. “You can’t know it.”
“Miss Goneril, this is a test and I’m afraid I must inform you that you are not doing precisely well at it.”
“I don’t even know who the King of Night is!” Hilda cried, frankly distressed. “I was never told... my brother... he knew but I...”
“What happened to you brother?” Archbishop Rhea was doing well leading the conversation.
“My family, my brother...” Hilda’s voice was expressing so many emotions that it was hard to identify all of them: grief, pain, panic, anger... “I have two crests, just like Sylvain. They implanted a crest on me... The Crest of Blaiddyd... and now I... will die. Like my siblings. My elder brother Holst... they tried to implant a crest on him but he couldn’t bear it and he just... died.”

Blanche was watching Hilda come unhinged with compassion in her eyes, perhaps kindness. Sothis wondered if she knew Hilda back in her time, since the others were too absorbed in Hilda to pay attention to their youngest member. Beth was tense, gripping her sword tightly, while Byleth looked at her with an unreadable expression. Rhea’s eyes showed no mercy.

“Who did that, Hilda?” Rhea tried a more understanding tone.
“I’m not sure yet. But the King of Night saved me. He’s not bad, I swear. I only allied with him because I... felt grateful, because he saved me. I didn’t want to hurt anybody. I’ve been having nightmares since I was kidnapped and experimented with. Now I also hear the people screaming and I can’t stand it, but I swore loyalty to the King of Night.”

“Was Sylvain allied with the King of Night as well? Were you allied with him?”

“No. Sylvain had his own goals, but I was asked to try to get him to collaborate with us. He refused. He just wanted to kill Dimitri.”
Somehow, no one was surprised when they heard those statements.
“What does the King of Night pretend to achieve?”
“A unified Fódlan. Where one’s precedence does not matter, where there are no barriers between people because of what race they belong to. Where the differences between the people in Almyra, Brigid, Dagda and Fodlan are forgotten...”
“That sounds very nice but how does he exactly plan to achieve it?” Archbishop Rhea seemed skeptic about it.
“Overthrowing the Church.” Hilda responded. “The Church is an old system, he says. Crests create social inequality and people are considered inferior because they do not carry crests...”

“The church is not to blame for the importance of crests in noble households. In fact, we are strongly against the idea of disinheriting offspring because they lack crests. It is a tradition that nobles installed themselves, not a tradition pushed by the church. We have no control over societal rules, we only want to share the message of the Goddess.” Archbishop Rhea’s brows gently furrowed, as her delicate face changed to one that reflected pure anger.

“I do not really understand the King of Night’s real motives and plans.” Hilda confessed. “But I did agree with his ideas.”
“There is no need to be violent when making changes. We think we have an idea of what the King of Night plans to do and we strongly disagree, but do you know what army will support him?”
“He didn’t share much information with me.” Hilda admitted.
“I see. Thank you for cooperation, Ms. Goneril.”

When they ended Hilda’s interrogation, Byleth and Beth were ordered to help Seteth organize the ball, while Rhea and Sothis had a discussion with Blanche in private. Rhea also ordered the knights to watch over Jeralt, so Alois, Catherine and Shamir were lingering in the corridor of his room almost all day long.

The students were all occupied with Felix. The search team that found him spread the news to their closest friends, so a big part of the students was speaking about it. Ingrid asked the Knights for permission to see him, so she was the first one that was allowed inside the room they put him in.

“Felix!” Ingrid cried, running to the big wolf and wrapping it in a hug. “I missed you so much! You have no idea of how hard it has been to live without you all these years!”
Ingrid was crying freely, like she had never been seen. Only Glenn had seen her crying like that, after Felix’s funeral.
“Have you taken good care of Glenn?” Ingrid thought she heard the wolf ask. She blinked in confusion and looked at him.
“You... can speak!? Why didn’t you speak before? Dimitri has surely been worried sick about you, and there you were silent. I don’t really appreciate this, Felix, I really don’t.”

“I talked to Dimitri before you arrived. You still haven’t answered my question.”
“Yes, I have. We are going to get married after I graduate. He came to see me at Gronder field and it was quite nice, it made feel less lonely. I’ve been actually feeling lonely at the academy, because of what happened with Sylvain...”
“Oh? What happened to that idiot?” There was no bite behind Felix’s scornful tone, it was his usual tone.
“Sylvain has changed, Felix. A lot. After you died, he started to blame Dimitri for it. Then one day, he came to visit us and he had... white hair instead of his red hair. I have no idea of why it became white, but Sylvain’s behavior changed.”
“So he’s not an incorrigible flirt anymore?” Felix did not allow his true emotions to show through that phrase, his voice just sounded serious.
“He lost all interest he had in flirting. At first, I thought it was because he was mourning you and too sad to do anything, but he really changed. He didn’t smile, unless it was to say violent, aggressive things and he just wanted to get revenge. He said it was against Dimitri, but I don’t think it really is that... There is something he never told us.”
“I want to see him.” Felix decided, not choosing to comment on the changes that Ingrid was speaking about.
“I don’t think you can. He tried to murder Dimitri... then he escaped and stole the Lance of Ruin... The Church gave the order to execute him, but...”
“But what? Is he dead?” Felix sounded a bit worried.
“No. They couldn’t kill him. Professor Byleth tried to execute him with the Holy Sword but... it was useless. He’s the monastery’s prison now.”
“Who is ‘Professor Byleth’?”
“Oh. The Black Eagles’ teacher. There’s Professor Beth too -that’s our Professor-, we had Professor Hanneman before her but Sylvain attacked him.”
“Goddess. What happened to Sylvain? He went from flirting with your grandma to becoming a homicidal maniac.”

“He’s been very weird. When I visited him in the prison, he was saying things like: ‘I don’t want to break the promise I made to Felix’, ‘Figure out a way to kill me, Ingrid, please’. ‘I would rather die in your hands than Archbishop Rhea’s...’”
“Our promise...” Felix sighed, feeling nostalgic. “Can I see him?”
“Maybe I can convince Professor Beth to let us bring him here.” Ingrid proposed. “Would you like that?”
“Alright. I just want him to tell me what’s up with him.”

 

Right after Ingrid exited the room, Ashe appeared in the door. He walked to where Felix was standing and sighed.

“I heard you talking to Ingrid. About Sylvain. I just wanted to tell you that it’s... not that bad. I mean, what he’s doing is justified, in my opinion. Dimitri... m-my... brother... he’s not ... he’s not fine, Ok, Felix? He’s... he’s sick.” Ashe stuttered when affirming it was his brother and his voice broke as he spoke, repeating words to make sure Felix was hearing alright. “Whatever Sylvain did, or tried to do, was justified.”
“So Dima is insane now, huh...?”
“Felix, I really mean it. This is not a joke. He might seem like he’s fine. He might stir some kind of compassion within you, because you haven’t been here for long and you have no idea of what Sylvain and I had to go through. Hell, even Ingrid feels sorry for him. I’m telling you because you are my friend, Felix. Dimitri has some... issues. There is something seriously wrong with him and I can’t quite tell you what, because it is hard to put it into words, but...”
“What has he done?”
“It is something only Sylvain and I know.” Ashe sighed. “Do you really want to know? Sylvain... tried to kill his teacher after.... what happened.”
“You mean something else happened aside from Dimitri ‘killing’ me?”
“Let’s just say his... our stepmother is not precisely the kindest woman in the world.” Ashe thought that anyone who knew her personally would immediately understand why he was saying that but Felix has not been around by the time King Lambert remarried.
Ashe himself had never interacted with Cornelia for more than a few minutes but getting called a bastard by her was denigrating enough to swear he’d never talk to her again. Nobody knew he was a bastard and even though King Lambert was trying to create some semblance of a family with them it was not working because no one but him was putting effort on it.
“If you want to know more, ask Sylvain about it. I can’t say more, it feels like I’m choking.”

With his big feline eyes Felix stared at Ashe and he could tell that the younger boy was struggling to keep himself together. He was trying to appear normal and collected, hadn’t said anything about Felix turning into a wolf or nothing about seeing him after so long, but he was just repressing his emotions. Felix knew that it was something Ashe tended to do since they were kids but it was more even heartbreaking to see it with an older, broken Ashe.

Ashe turned away as if he was going to leave but Felix decided to speak before he did. “It was nice seeing you after so long.”
Of course Felix would never allow himself to say anything further, because he was just not the type to do so. Living between wolves for such a long time had made him be more quiet and less emotional than before, but he still cared about all the people he knew in the past.
However, Ashe seemed to smile for a brief moment, as if he was happy that Felix showed that he still cared. “It was about time you came back.”

 

When Ingrid approached Seteth, Byleth and Beth to talk about letting Sylvain talk to Felix, she was a bit hesitant so she stayed by the doorway instead of walking inside the room. She spotted Flayn sitting nearby, excitedly coming up with ideas for the ball, but Archbishop Rhea was mysteriously absent. Ingrid could not even fathom why she was missing from a supposedly important reunion, until her head got out of the gutter and realized that she was most likely contacting the Fraldarius to tell them about Felix. Which meant that Glenn could potentially visit the monastery, which made her feel a bit giddy.

So giddy she didn’t realize Sothis was poking her from behind. Still tiny, with that gigantic green hair of hers, but still somehow unnoticeable to Ingrid. Blanche was beside her, wondering how Ingrid was so different from her future self.
“Are you alright, Ingrid?” Sothis asked, making Ingrid jump and clutch her heart as she turned to face Sothis. It was like a jumpscare and had it been a stranger, Ingrid would have collapsed.
“Y-yes! What are you two doing here?” Blanche’s face went pale as she thought that Ingrid would suspect something for sure while Sothis just played it off cooly.
“You know, we wanted to contribute in the ball! Now if you don’t mind me asking, why are you here?”
Blanche sighed in relief as Sothis controlled the situation and put Ingrid on the spot. She was quite a schemer herself, but she was completely caught off-guard by Ingrid. Luckily Sothis was devious enough to come up with a reason on her own.
Then Sothis kindly let Ingrid to talk to the professors and got all the attention off Blanche. Ingrid was probably too concerned about Felix to even question why Blanche was there, with Beth’s supposed mother and why she was so similar to them.

Due to Blanche’s quiet insistence, Byleth approved the petition to let Sylvain visit Felix, while Seteth just looked like he had heard the most ridiculous thing ever. Sothis glared at him from the distance which got him to not say anything and they all agreed that Lady Rhea would be alright with the proposition, which made Ingrid a tad bit suspicious yet happy because her plan was working.

She walked away quietly and went down the hall but grimaced when she heard a thud behind Captain Jeralt’s door. She nervously reflected on what that could possibly have meant when she suddenly saw an axe go through the door and screamed. Her scream alerted all the guards down the hall and soon Catherine, Shamir and Alois were standing there. Alois took the most direct approach and asked Ingrid directly, while Shamir stared at the axe and Catherine broke down the door.

Captain Jeralt was inside the room with a person that was wearing a golden armor and a face mask. The person was carrying a large shield too, which they were using to protect Jeralt, from a seemingly unknown threat. The guards immediately surrounded Jeralt and assessed the possibility of another attack, but the armored subject said that the danger was gone... for the time being. The knights asked Jeralt and that mysterious person about it but they just said that the attack came from a stranger that the armored person had followed.

Archbishop Rhea was told about what had transpired while the mysterious person and Blanche pleaded for her to not incarcerate the red armored person because they were only there to help. Rhea agreed to Blanche’s terms and allowed them to plot a plan to keep Jeralt safe without interfering too much in the course of history. Although they had to change it for sure, there some things that should remain as they would be.
Sylvain was surprised to receive a visit to his cell. He was isolated, even from Hilda, which made him wonder why Archbishop Rhea was letting people in. However, it was only Ingrid and Blanche accompanying the Archbishop. Sylvain gasped in surprise at seeing Ingrid, but said nothing.

“Due to novel developments, we have hereby decided to offer you a deal.” The archbishop’s voice rang in the walls and Sylvain just rolled his eyes at how serious she always was while speaking. “We believe that you might want to collaborate with us in exchange for a reunion with a person you hold close to your heart.”
Sylvain thought that he appreciated no one, except Ashe and Ingrid maybe, but neither of them were gone. He caught himself thinking about a certain boy that was gone, but that was impossible. Rhea could not bring back the dead.
“It’s true, Sylvain! I promise it’s true, we’ve found Felix!”

If it was all a cruel joke Sylvain didn’t know what he’d do. It was the first time he felt something akin to hope but it was just too painful to think that that little spark would die down. He wanted, he wished so dearly to believe in Ingrid but a part of him was holding him back.

“I want to see him first.”

 

All eyes were on him as he was escorted by Archbishop Rhea herself to see Felix. Blanche, Ingrid and a few guards were surrounding them as to make sure nothing could go wrong. Sylvain thought that if it was all a lie he’d just snap and all the dark magic he was holding in would just explode. The crests made him powerful, but those monsters had messed up with more than that.
Most of the students caught wind of what was happening and the Conspiracy Group banded together to see why Sylvain was out of his cell. Some of them started taking notes on scraps of papers and Caspar grabbed Lindhardt’s spell book to pretend he was contributing but he was just doodling. Lysithea snorted in disappointment when she glanced at that.
For some reason, Ashe was speaking with Flayn but they were not arguing. It was a calm conversation. He saw Sylvain, Sylvain looked back at him and Ashe felt so uncomfortable with the situation in general that he just asked Flayn to warp him to the kitchen.

 

When they finally arrived to the place where Felix was being kept, Ingrid got jittery and started sweating because she hoped that the reunion would be as beautiful as she was picturing it to be. Blanche was quite shocked to see Ingrid reacting like that because in her time, Ingrid was a very composed woman that was rarely ever fazed by anything.

Sylvain stepped inside the room and saw Felix immediately, but did not understand what was happening at first. Then he saw the crest of Fraldarius in the animal’s leg and his eyes suddenly became watery. Ingrid had never seen Sylvain cry and she thought he’d be the kind of person that cried beautifully but he was sobbing uglily and loudly, clearly having issues with his respiration.
Even though Felix was usually aloof and cool, he felt the need to console his friend and started curling himself around Sylvain as if beckoning him to stroke his fur. Sylvain did not say anything about being lied to or demanded Rhea to explain Felix’s state and instead sank his face inside the fur as he hugged Felix with all the strength he could muster.

“That hurts, you idiot!” Felix whined, but that wasn’t what started Sylvain.

“You can speak?” Sylvain’s voice was broken and he barely could utter words but he did anyway. “You have no idea of how much I’ve missed you, Felix...”

The hard glare in Felix’s eyes seemed to soften as he started purring and Ingrid’s eyes went wide, because she thought Felix was a wolf but after a second consideration she realized he was quite feline and looked like a big cat. Ingrid has not been as effusive as Sylvain, but she doubted that was why Felix was reacting differently.

“I was alone for years, so I think I can get a grasp of it.”
“I’m so sorry, this was all my fault, please forgive me, Felix... I wanted to keep our promise so bad and thinking that I failed was torturing me so much...”
“You remembered our promise...”
Sylvain sobbed even louder as he wiped his tears with Felix’s fur, dragging his face all over what seemed to be Felix’s mane. Felix tried to not say anything but deep down he was a bit concerned about getting drenched in Sylvain’s tears. A part of him was moved by how much Sylvain showed that he cared about him.
“This is getting very uncomfortable for me.” Blanche whispered in Rhea’s ear and Rhea wanted to agree but leaving a highly dangerous criminal alone seemed to be a stupid course of action, but then again hearing Sylvain speak so tenderly about how much he missed his best friend was both uncomfortable for everyone else and oddly endearing.

“Can you stop sniffing? My ears are very sensitive.”
“Geez, Sorry for crying, I’m just happy. The real question should be why you aren’t crying.” Sylvain realized he couldn’t see Felix’s face so he turned to see it. “Oh! Would you look at that!”
“You idiot, I haven’t seen any human in years....”
“But where’s my little Felix? The one that liked following me around and cried when he missed me! Deep down you’re still the same, come on, just admit it.”
“Well, yes, I missed you. You took the fact that I’m a monster better than the others.”
“Of course I want to know why you’re like this but I got too caught in the moment, you know. We can talk about that later or whatever, now let us thrive in this moment of happiness.” Felix started complaining about not being able to see what Sylvain was doing and therefore could not stop him from climbing on his back. “I’m sorry, it’s very fluffy! There, we can speak about everything.”

Rhea and Blanche listened to the story about Felix being captured by those who slither in the dark while Ingrid was just too emotionally distraught to focus. They were interested in Sylvain’s reaction to knowing Dimitri wasn’t responsible for what happened to Felix.

“I resented Dimitri because I blamed him for what happened to you, that’s true. I was wrong but... after Cornelia married King Lambert, he just changed. He said he heard voices and acted strange... Bad things... happened. No one could stand him... not Ashe, not Dedue and not me... he pushed all of us away...”
Blanche was quite surprised to learn that but Rhea just tightened her fists, worried about the voices Dimitri was hearing.

Chapter Text

The next days seemed to go by in a blur. Sylvain was allowed to regularly meet with Felix and Ingrid if he cooperated with what he was asked (helping Lindhardt to study his crests, answering to questions about Dimitri’s behavior, etc). The professors were busy planning the ball, while the students were preparing for it.
Mercedes and Annette tried to get Ingrid to put make up on and dress up, as they simultaneously chased all the students in their class to offer help with their looks. At one point they caught up to Dedue and asked him if he needed help (a clever attempt to put make up on him) and Ashe and Ingrid tried to make signs at him to say no, Ingrid shaking her head vigorously while Ashe made a cross with his arms repeatedly. Unfortunately, Dedue was not able to interpret them correctly and got dragged into their scheme while Ashe and Ingrid made the run for it. Dimitri and Dedue somehow ended up in the same room as Annette and Mercedes while the girls tried to put make up on them, braid their hair and convince them to dance. Dimitri got a little braid that Edelgard made sure to compliment while Dedue looked so ridiculous that Ingrid and Ashe laughed for at least an hour while Marianne giggled discreetly.

Bernadetta was determined to stay in her room but Lysithea told her that her fans were waiting for a new chapter to be published and that was how Bernie was kidnapped by the girls in the Black Eagles (except Leonie) to get ready for the ball. Ferdinand tried to get Caspar and Lindhardt to do something, anything, to demonstrate they were better at dancing than the other houses, but Lin fell asleep and Caspar was just really bad at dancing. Ferdinand offered himself to take part in the White Heron Cup but the contest was cancelled and Ferdinand wept in Rhea’s office for the remaining of the month.

For the ball, everyone tried to partner up even if it was just for dancing. Annette and Mercedes agreed to go together, Ingrid decided to not go and hide with Felix until it was all over, Dorothea somehow convinced Petra to go with her with a very persuasive statement (‘I dance better than the others’), Caspar promised to help Lindhardt go back to his room after he fell asleep, Ferdinand managed to deceive Lysithea into going with him, Hubert glared menacingly at anyone who tried to ask Edelgard while Edelgard told Dimitri to go with Marianne because Marianne was alone.

Some people among them were very unhappy. Seteth tried to keep the atmosphere calm but Leonie kept asking when Captain Jeralt would appear and distracted him. Edelgard eagerly asked Byleth to dance with her while trying to get Dimitri to dance with Beth but Beth was speaking to Flayn most of the time.

At some point some people started disappearing and Edelgard guessed it was because they were going to confess in the Tower of the Goddess. Sothis was hidden among students exaggeratedly winking at her adopted daughter whenever someone mentioned that and Edelgard thought it was her opportunity at last to do it, but Professor Byleth was a very demanded person. Even students from the Blue Lions wanted to dance with him.

Detective Ferdinand realized that people were missing so he decided to investigate the case which made Lysithea feel very relieved because she had never intended to be his partner for the ball. She eagerly ran to Byleth to ask him for a dance.

“This ball is terrible.” Dimitri said and Edelgard could not nothing but agree. Nothing was going right, all the plans she’d made were crashing and burning.

“Raphael ate all the food, Marianne dumped you for the birds outside and Hubert is hiding behind a pillar thinking I can’t see him. Yes, I would say that it is indeed, terrible. The only good thing I can think of is that Ferdinand stopped embarrassing all of us with his dancing skills.”

“At least some good things happened... I made a friend. I think Dedue and I are getting along... although he insists I should not eat the weeds.”
“Look, Dorothea and Petra are sneaking out! Let’s follow them!” Dimitri felt the need to stop Edelgard but she was very strong and capable of dragging him out of the ball at a scathing speed.
The girls were heading to the Tower of the Goddess and one would be blind to not realize what one of them intended to do.

Still, it didn’t stop Edelgard from wanting to see if Dorothea’s efforts and pining were going to be met with a happy ending, so she, as a good wingman, had to see for herself how the confession went.
However, when she and Dimitri sneakily hid behind a pillar to watch, with Hubert hiding behind a pillar a few meters further, they saw Dorothea trying to speak until Petra spotted some people she knew and reacted quite strangely.
``What is it, Petra?’’ Dorothea noticed Petra’s focus wasn’t on her and it was both annoying and unusual, Dorothea was used to Petra’s attentiveness so she was admittedly upset.
``But I was thinking they dated!’’ Dorothea was quite startled by that blunt statement and how badly phrased it was but she got the gist of what Petra meant, so she glanced at the direction in which Petra was looking and her brain malfunctioned for a few seconds.
Then she started squealing and her squeals made Petra’s eyes widen as she tried to process what was happening and attracted all the attention toward her.
``It all makes sense now! Ashe was so moody because he had a crush on…’’
Before Dorothea could finish what she was saying, Ashe ran to where she was standing with a very red face (although it was night-time so no one could see it) and started babbling.
``Look, it’s not what you’re thinking, and if you could be a bit more discreet about it…’’
Dorothea caught herself and straightened herself. She considered herself a professional matchmaker, as she had uncovered Hubert’s interest in Edelgard, Ingrid’s crush in her fiancée and the special relationship between Lindhardt and his pillow. However, she had never even considered Ashe could have feelings for anyone, but thinking back it was obvious.
``I only see one problem, where is he?’’ She asked anxiously, forgetting her own confession in favour of the drama.
``What are you assuming? How would you even know why I’m here? You know nothing about me, just like I know nothing about you…’’ He paused for a second. ``But I’ve been hearing your crush on Petra is very obvious.’’
Dorothea choked as Petra started speaking, maybe unfazed because she was already aware of Dorothea’s feelings for her.
``I was seeing you do intimate things. I am thinking it is clear you are liking him.’’ Petra spoke up in defense of Dorothea and Dorothea would have been swooning if it weren’t because she had to focus on breaking Ashe’s wall down.
``Well, you are wrong, just because we’re friends doesn’t mean anything.’’
Edelgard gasped from her spot and Dimitri was confused because he didn’t know what was happening and he had no idea of what Petra was talking about. He turned to Edelgard for guidance.
``I have no idea but this is better than I expected!’’ Edelgard chirped excitedly and suddenly beckoned Dimitri to stay quiet as they both heard heavy footsteps headed their way.
Dimitri choked an attempt to call Dedue’s name as Edelgard slapped her hand over Dimitri’s mouth and pushed him even further so he wouldn’t intervene.
``Can you two leave me alone, please?’’ Dorothea thought it was strange to see a noble behaving like that but she was not willing to just go because she was too invested in Ashe’s emotional turmoil and sudden reveal of humanity and heart to just never know what happened.
However, she took pity in Ashe’s distraught appearance and decided to go easy on him. She took Petra’s hand although they both blushed as soon as it happened and they walked away, but Dorothea bumped into Edelgard as they made their mad rush.
``Edie! What are you doing here?’’ Dorothea seemed genuinely startled. ``Oh, hello, Prince Dimitri… eh… we’ll just stay here for a little if that’s OK.’’
``But I am thinking Dorothea was wanting to say something to me?’’ Dorothea mumbled something about `later’ as the four of them watched the developments in the scene, some of them (Dimitri and Petra) feeling more uncomfortable than others (Edelgard, Dorothea and Hubert).

None of them properly heard the conversation, because they were too far. Edelgard caught some separate words and phrases (`we’re not friends.’ And `you forced me to do things I didn’t want to do.’ And some other scandalous statements whose tone did not fit in any shape or form a love confession). Dorothea was eagerly trying to catch what was happening but she was only able to understand bits of it (`You act like you hate me’ and `How do I know you’re not playing a joke on me?’) which made her very concerned about the ending of the confession. Dimitri was probably the most nervous one because he was watching his si… brother, who hated him and contributed in a plot to murder him (although he didn’t blame Ashe), and did not know what do in case it went wrong but everything was pointing out it was going to go wrong. From the bits of `I am thankful to you but it is not fair on any of us’ to `my loyalty to you will not be shaken but I cannot do this.’ Dimitri was already predicting the end result and all he could think of was that he wished Beth were there to help all of them.
Then, the five of them watched Dedue leave while Ashe was just as stiff as a rock statue and did not move an inch. Then Edelgard, with her eyesight that could rival an eagle’s, saw tears in his face and started panicking.
``I think my heart just broke.’’ Dorothea was too emotionally compromised to make a confession herself and she did not think that Petra deserved a sad Dorothea for the confession so she just started crying out of pity and pain. Petra was so kind that she hugged her while Dorothea absorbed some of the pain of the scene she’d just watched.
``That was awful…’’ Edelgard clutched her heart as she thought about how she’d feel if she was rejected and it was turning her stomach upside down. She turned to see Dimitri and Dimitri was walking toward Ashe, although absolutely everything indicated it was a bad idea. She followed Dimitri in case something bad broke out and he needed emotional support.

``What are you doing here? Are you going to laugh at my misery?’’ Ashe wiped his tears quickly and sniffed through his nose, hoping Dimitri wasn’t going to stay for much longer to see him cry. He would have tried to leave if his legs responded to him.
‘’No… I know I haven’t been the best brother you could ask for, but I care deeply about you and I regret that our interactions in the past hurt you so much. I am trying to change for the better and I want to demonstrate to you that I’m here for you.’’
Edelgard didn’t expect what happened next. She was quite befuddled to see that Ashe accepted Dimitri’s hug and let his walls down even if it was just a second. Maybe it was just because Ashe was feeling vulnerable, but then again who could say that Ashe’s real self was that, a vulnerable, timid person that acted aggressively as a defence mechanism?
``No one took me seriously. I’ve been a bastard child all my life and I hated so much when everyone insisted I was a girl. You had everything so easy, handed to you and Father sent me off to hide me, because he was embarrassed of me. I thought Dedue was the only person that cared about me…’’ He sobbed and suddenly he was unable to speak because his throat constricted as it became harder for him to breathe. ``I’m sorry, Dimitri, I can’t do this, I can’t pretend we’re a happy family because I’ve been alone all of my life and having you here now… I can’t.’’
``I know that this is difficult for you but I want you to remember I will always be here for you, alright?’’ Ashe nodded, still in shock because he had not expected Dimitri to console him and show support.
``I’m sorry to intrude.’’ Edelgard gasped as Beth appeared and hoped Dimitri to flip out, but he didn’t, he just seemed relieved. ``But I think you could really use my help, Ashe.’’
``Why would you be of any help?’’ Ashe asked a bit defensively.
``I think you need someone to talk to. I might be your teacher, but you can trust me, and I believe I could help both of you.’’
She extended her hand and Ashe hesitated before he took it. She led him away from all the people that had crowded at the Goddess’ Tower.

Dimitri sighed in relief as he saw that Ashe would not be suffering alone or freaking out because of him. Edelgard seemed very satisfied with how the events had turned out, even if Ashe had been rejected and Dorothea had missed her chance.
``Looks like your Goddess showed up to save the day.’’ Dimitri looked at her for a second, and then sighed again, sadly.
``I think I should be truthful with you, Edelgard.’’ Edelgard flinched at the use of her full-name, since she’d grown used to nicknames like El, Edie and even Lady Edelgard from Hubert. ``You mistakenly believe I have feelings for my professor, while the truth is that I…’’
Edelgard did not like how the conversation was progressing and wanted some kind of eject button so she would be freed from any repercussion that what was happening caused.
``I have feelings for you.’’ Edelgard’s head was stuck in a repetition of the same word over and over (no, no, no)… She didn’t want to ruin their friendship over unrequited love…
``I’m sorry, but I do not feel the same way. You are like a brother to me.’’ Edelgard tried to explain but she felt as if she was just making everything worse so she just left, unable to think of anything to repair the damage that their friendship had suffered.
Dimitri did not cry like Ashe did, but he was admittedly annoyed by Hubert’s distant laughter. He sulked in his loneliness, until his peripheral view caught both his brother and his teacher heading his way.
``What is with that face?’’ Beth asked worriedly, immediately noticing Dimitri’s uneasy expression. She raised her eyebrows as if asking Ashe to do something.
``Do you need a hug?’’ Ashe asked unsure, and he was not prepared for the answer because when Dimitri nodded, he awkwardly wrapped his smaller arms around the larger boy. ``Professor, don’t just watch us. I need help.’’
Beth also joined the hug, which made both of the brothers feel better. She was happy with how her conversation with Ashe went. It was something like:
B: I have noticed that you are not very friendly toward your classmates.
A: No. I don’t dislike them, it’s just, I learned to be like this. No one ever took me seriously among the nobility and I had to grow stronger if I wanted to endure what they put me through.
B: What was that?
A: Name-calling, mostly. My stepmother wasn’t very kind to me. However, I think that the thing that upset me the most was that I was separated from my siblings. I lived with my mother and her husband for a little while, but then they died. I became a street rat to feed me and my siblings but the royal guard caught us. I had the crest of Blaiddyd so I was taken to King Lambert… I spent a bit of time with Dimitri in the court but…
B: You were kicked out
A: Yes. The King couldn’t let his reputation be tarnished. I was taken to Duscur at first, to keep me as far away as possible, but I was part of a murder plot just like my brother recently was. Dedue saved me… so they offered him to become my retainer and move with me to Lord Lonato’s home. I thought he cared for me, but it seems I was wrong.
B: That’s not true. Hubert said he rejected you, but that does not mean he doesn’t care.
A: Maybe. I don’t know. By the time I met him, I was already broken. I was tired of being called a little girl, so I overcompensated on my aggressive behaviour. I thought that people would take me for a male if I acted more like them. Less like I was before and more coldly.
B: You should just be yourself.
A: I think I’ve forgotten how. I’m so bitter over everything, my siblings, Dimitri, King Lambert… and now Dedue. Losing my father… Lord Lonato… was like losing the last part of me I had left.
B: We can help you.

By the end of that conversation, Beth had been able to agree with Ashe that they would try to get him to leave his walls down, be more honest with himself and everyone else and to try to fix his relationship with Dimitri. Beth was aware of Dimitri’s problems with hearing voices because of Rhea and Sylvain, but she was willing to help the brothers regardless of how difficult it was.
Edelgard had went back to the ball but almost everyone had retired to the dorms. Manuela was among the people that had remained there although she seemed to be crying over some date that had gone wrong. Professor Byleth was there, so Edelgard took the chance to spend time with him.
``You don’t look very happy, professor.’’ Edelgard pointed out as soon as she saw him.
‘’Hubert came by and told my sister some strange news.’’
‘’The confessions didn’t go too well today. At least in the Blue Lions house, that is.’’ Edelgard smartly avoided including herself in that. ‘’But some of them seem to be having fun.’’
Annette and Mercedes were spinning around together while laughing. Ingrid and Felix were probably OK too, so it was relieving to think that some students were at least happy.
‘’I wish things could stay the way they are now…’’ Professor Byleth said cryptically, as if guessing something bad was supposed to happen, but Edelgard did not question him about it.

Archbishop Rhea, Captain Jeralt, Blanche and Sothis were meeting with the person that wore a red armor and was set on protecting Jeralt, although enemies had been constantly appearing to attack him.
‘’We think that if we knew your identity, it would be much easier to collaborate.’’ Archbishop Rhea said but Blanche was not convinced.
‘’If that is so, then I shall reveal myself. If that is alright with you, Blanche.’’ The young girl thought about it before she nodded.
She removed her mask and Edelgard’s face was visible under it, although she looked much older than the girl that was at the ball. She was wearing an eyepatch and had some little scars spread across her face. Blanche nodded, glad she could remember her face correctly, while the others were worried.
‘’The princess of the Adrestian Empire had to abandon war to come here… how dire is the situation in your time?’’ Sothis asked.
``Very much so, I’m afraid. It is in my best interests to protect both Captain Jeralt and Blanche, so I must insist in staying here for however long I am allowed to. We do not have much time before the Almyran forces strike.’’
‘’Almyra is involved?’’ Jeralt’s gruff voice asked, already conceiving how the scale of the conflict could go much beyond a continental war.
‘’I’m afraid so. The King himself will lead the troops that will attack the monastery. Did Blanche not tell you this?’’ The three adults shook their heads, unsure. ‘’Blanche, I know how much you struggle with your identity, but they are your family and they trust you.’’
Blanche sighed as she reflected briefly on the consequences that revealing the information she’d been withdrawing had. She wanted to help, and her main priority was to keep her mother safe, so she had to tell them the truth.
‘’My name is Blanche von Riegan. I am the daughter of Claude von Riegan, the commander in control of the Alliance and Almyra’s troops, that will strike during the Lone Wolf Moon. My mother will be kidnapped, then, too grief-stricken by the death of my grandfather to oppose proper resistance.’’
‘’At the cost of anything.’’ Future Edelgard continued, to Blanche’s relief. ‘’We must prevent Captain Jeralt from dying and we must protect Beth. Were she to fall in the hands of the enemy, the Kingdom of Faerghus would fall. It took ten years to reconquer Fhirdiad and we narrowly managed to defend Enbarr thanks to Sylvain Jose Gautier, but we hope that we will be able to avoid the fall of Garreg Mach and protect both the Kingdom and the Empire from being occupied by the enemy forces.’’
‘’But that is impossible…’’ Rhea mused. ‘’Claude von Riegan died years ago! If he were alive, he would have enrolled the Officers Academy…’’
‘’Von Riegan…’’ Edelgard eyed Blanche briefly and uttered an apology. ‘’is collaborating with the Agarthans. He is deliberately hiding himself as a means of protection, as he does not trust the Church of Seiros or any of Fodlan’s current leaders.’’
Rhea knew that the stakes were high. If the Agarthans were involved, it meant that they were seeking revenge for what happened in Zanado. She had already beaten them once and she was prepared to do it again.

Although Beth told Ashe and Dimitri that they should head back to their rooms because it was getting late, she could feel something was wrong as she said it. She felt as if someone was watching her from afar and for a second, she considered that Sothis could be lurking in the closest corner to make one of her annoying yet funny comments on her relationships with her students. Nevertheless, something was telling her that it wasn’t as simple as that and that Sothis was not the one watching her.
She turned around half-hoping that the person that was watching would reveal themselves but nothing happened. She knew people were around – Dorothea and Petra hadn’t left yet – but her alertness was not caused by them. There was a dark aura nearby, which she could feel even if she did not quite understand why.
Then she finally understood why she felt the way she did. Green eyes were staring at her from the distance, as she could see between the obscure trees that limited her vision. She had a very short time span to warn Dimitri and Ashe about it, because they were attacked shortly after.
The ball of dark energy hit Ashe and Beth panicked for a fraction of second before she used the Divine Pulse, which she had mastered because of Sothis, to rewind time and block the hit with her Blessed Sword. She wondered if Sylvain had broken free but she knew for a fact she was in his cell and he would not break the deal with Rhea, so she was unwilling to believe it was him.
Nearby students saw the scene play out and instead of running, joined Beth to assist her in case a fight broke out. Dark mages appeared from the shadows, as if they were not real people, but illusions created by the skill magician that was watching them. It was an unfair fight because they were roughly five people against twenty or more units, some of them with no weapon considering Dimitri and Petra did not usually carry their weapons around.
The guards posted nearby sought for help but some people that had left the ball were quicker to join in, such as Marianne, Lysithea, Annette and Mercedes. They were far from the group that was surrounded but they did not hesitate to help.
Then, as the enemies received reinforcements, Professor Byleth and Edelgard (and Hubert) were also able to finally reach them and help them clear the mysterious enemies to reach the commander. Professor Byleth struck him down and forced him to retire, but before he did, he whispered a very creepy message in Beth’s ear.
I know you miss me, Teach.
Beth’s blood went cold as people surrounded her, asking her if she was alright. Her brother met her confused look and he comforted her even if it was just showing interest in her state.

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.

Chapter Text

The evacuation plans were set early. There was no point in defending the monastery, if they could keep the students safe by sending them home. Rhea and the Knights had already arranged a way to give all the students that resided in the Leicester Alliance a home in either the Empire or the Kingdom. They were not explained why, but they highlighted the importance of the evacuation.
By the last week of the Lone Wolf Moon all the students were supposed to be safely travelling to their homes, or, to wherever they’d been assigned. Marianne and Hilda were invited to the Fraldarius territory, since Rodrigue was friends with Margrave Gautier and wanted to protect a victim that had suffered similar consequences to Sylvain’s, while Leonie insisted in following Captain Jeralt and his family to the Adrestian Empire and Lysithea was invited by Lindhardt’s family to stay with them… although it had all been on Lin because he wanted both her help and Professor Hanneman’s for his research on crests.
Everything was set and nothing was supposed to go wrong, the plan was supposedly perfect. Archbishop Rhea nervously looked at the carriages, because she knew that the students were supposed to leave at different times to not augment suspicion. No one had left yet and the first carriage would depart the following day, but that did not quell the Archbishop’s nerves.
Professor Byleth and Professor Beth were spending the last days they could with their students, noticing how the ambience was tense and sombre. It was as if everyone was saying their last goodbyes, to depart and never see each other again. Some people like Ingrid were not very concerned, because she knew she could meet up with most of the people she had befriended, but others, like Dorothea, feared that it was time to part ways forever.
That was why, while Ignatz, Raphael and some other people that studied at Garreg Mach were getting ready to leave, Dorothea decided to bare her heart for Petra before life inevitably pushed them away from each other.
‘’Petra, I have something I want to tell you and I’ve been meaning to do so for long.’’ Even before Captain Jeralt had noticed and laughed about it with his son, much to Dorothea’s embarrassment. ‘’I have feelings for you and I do not want our lives to go separate ways… I… I love you.’’
Petra looked at her for a second, then blushed and glanced away. ‘’I have feelings for you too… I… was thinking we could go to Brigid… together…’’
So Petra wasn’t as dense as everyone gave her credit for. Dorothea felt her heart soaring in the heavens, happy that the emotional turmoil she’d been experiencing for so long had finally reached a conclusion and Petra reciprocated her feelings.
Then Leonie had to break the moment, because of COURSE she had. She stumbled into the room announced and told everyone else to come in, making everything much more awkward than it had to be. Unfortunately Leonie and Annette shared a love for violence and weapons, so Annette was the first one to stroll into the room.
‘’Would you look at that! Another couple right under our noses!!’’ She announced loudly. ‘’I hope they don’t keep this from their best friends!!’’
As if ‘best friend’ were some sort of summoning ritual, Edelgard made her way into the room by practically pushing everyone else away.
‘’IT WORKED! I don’t usually do this, but thank the Goddess for this!’’ Edelgard shouted happily as she pulled the two girls into a hug and celebrated as if it had been her confession that turned out successfully.
‘’Congratulations, I guess.’’ Ferdinand said, knowing Dorothea hated him but had gotten over it a little bit, so it was better?
Dorothea pulled him into the hug and it made Edelgard shout: `Black Eagles hug!’ Which immediately made Lysithea, Leonie, Hubert and Caspar join in, with more reluctance on both Lindhardt’s and Bernadetta’s side.
‘’No matter what, we’ll stay together. Even if we live in different corners of the continent, our bonds will persist for the rest of our lives.’’ Edelgard announced happily and everyone had no choice but to agree.

The situation in the Blue Lions was not quite that lovely. Marianne had successfully integrated herself in the class but that had only dragged her into the problematic relationships the members had. She got along quite well with Ingrid, Mercedes and Dimitri, but she was a bit scared of the rest.
Her fear only intensified when Ashe asked her to meet him in the library. She accepted, because Ashe was really nice when he asked, but she had been tempted to say no.
Annette, Ingrid, Sylvain and Professor Beth were there too.
‘’You might be asking yourselves why I asked you all to meet here.’’
‘’Unofficial Blue Lions meeting?’’ Ingrid cheered, thinking of the moment she’d seen between the Black Eagles.
‘’What? No. It’s much more important than that. I need your help to break Mercedes and Dedue up.’’
Annette eagerly agreed to help, Ingrid was just very confused and Sylvain agreed because Ashe was a friend and what damage could it cause to make them break up? Professor Beth was a bit disappointed with seeing Ashe revert to his old self, the schemer with iron guts and icy heart.
‘’Ashe, I thought you were changing for the better.’’
‘’Why did you invite the teacher? As far as I know, this is an evil plan and teachers do not usually get to participate in them.’’ Beth glared at Sylvain and Sylvain shrugged, because he knew he was right.
‘’Because it’s not evil, or at least I don’t intend it to be.’’ Annette sighed in disappointment. ‘’I know that they’re not happy with each other, I just want to give them a push in the right direction.’’
‘’Whatever your intention is, I’m in! Mercedes never said a word about crushing on TheDude, so I doubt she’s happy! I will do anything to ensure her happiness, even if it’s getting her to break up with the guy she’d never even spoken to before.’’
Annette was clearly annoyed, no one was doubting it. Felix and her had spoken about their feelings in their own ways and they seemed to understand each other, but not even Felix could handle her temper.
‘’I think that your intention is fine but you’re going the wrong way about it.’’ Ingrid declared. ‘’Unless you are only doing this because you want Dedue to love you back… What? I talk to Dorothea, she is quite fond of me.’’
‘’I KNEW IT! You never said it but I ALWAYS knew! You were in love with the Man from Duscur since the day he baked you a cake! I had never seen you smile like that before.’’ Sylvain started mumbling about how he’d known all along but no one was really listening.
‘’Thank you for exposing me, Ingrid, very nice of you.’’ Ashe should at least be thankful Dedue wasn’t in earshot. ‘’But no, I just want to ensure Dedue is happy.’’
‘’That is very nice, but if Dedue wants to be with Mercedes, shouldn’t he decide what to do? If their relationship isn’t working out, I think they should be the ones to break it…’’ Marianne spoke shyly and for a second she was worried everyone would scream at her.
‘’You’re right, Marianne, absolutely right.’’ Beth agreed with her.
Marianne cheered internally and received a reassuring pat from Ingrid that made her smile. Ashe and Annette sighed in disappointment, exchanging knowing glances while everyone else -except maybe Sylvain but he kind of wanted to be on Beth’s good side so he’d better not help? – was oblivious to it.

Everyone was sleeping but Ashe and Annette had met up to make the master plan to get Mercedes and Dedue to break up before they left. Mercedes was going back home with her brother and Annette had already managed to convince her father to visit her but she suspected Mercedes would still try to see Dedue. That was why she thought it was important to prevent an engagement from being solid because she knew how Mercedes’ father was.

The Conspiracy Group was not resting because they suspected the early end of their year at Garreg Mach was prompted by some mysterious circumstances related to the King of Night.
``I think that Archbishop Rhea might be scared that the King of Night might try to attack the monastery. Dispersing us would contribute to decreasing the chances of a large-scale attack and protect us.’’ Lysithea let everyone know, making most of the group agree.
``Tomorrow the first carriage leaves.’’ Leonie sighed. ``I was supposed to be there, but since Captain Jeralt took me under his wing, I’m headed to Enbarr. I think it is a tad bit suspicious that everyone is leaving at different times.’’
``It is likely that, were Lysithea’s thesis correct, there is no intention for our families to know that we are coming home soon. While it is unclear whether the King of Night is involved or not, it might have to do with a situation putting us potentially in danger…’’

As the first carriage was getting ready to leave, students from all houses banded together to see their classmates leave. However, it was not a sad moment because it meant they were going to be separated, but rather because the wheels of the carriage suddenly broke down and it exploded and became a burning pile of fire and wood.
Manuela was horrified seeing her students burnt to a crisp, but it only got worse when enemy soldiers that had previously been invisible appeared suddenly at the doors of the monastery and flocked in. Archbishop Rhea had little time to prepare, but she quickly identified the enemy commander and set to destroy him to earn enough time for the students and the Knights to leave. She had already made a mistake during an invasion before and she was not willing to be captured again… she’d leave with Edelgard, her grandchildren and her mother even if meant leaving the Monastery in ruins.
``My dear professors.’’ She said calmly to both of her grandchildren, looking at them with a determined face. ``Our top priority is to rid ourselves from the King of Night. Byleth, I entrust you with the task of leading an assault group to take the enemy commander down… and you, Beth, your task will be to make it out of here safely. We know that you are the King of Night’s main target, so you must leave… I will send Shamir and Alois to guard your backs.’’
Sothis nodded, but Future Edelgard and Blanche were not willing to just leave at that.
``I am sorry, Lady Rhea, but I cannot allow this. I propose that Blanche and I shall guard the two of them. They are both in danger, so we must protect them.’’
Archbishop Rhea had planned other things for them, but she had no chance to convince Edelgard once she’d set her mind on something. She saw the four of them leave accompanied by the Knights of Seiros and hoped nothing would go wrong.
Meanwhile Byleth had to meet up with the students, take down the commander and lead everyone to safety.

Blanche and Future Edelgard were leading Beth out of the monastery, but they did not expect that they would be stopped by none other than Blanche’s father. Claude was there, standing much taller than the man Beth had previously faced, with a black armour that exuded a dark aura. His ghost horse was nowhere to be seen, but both Blanche and Edelgard knew what had happened to it. With no need for a cavalry attire anymore, the armour had gotten heavier until the point that it was mostly focused on defence and it was very strong to break past it, as both Edelgard and Blanche had learned. He also effortlessly knocked both Alois and Shamir down, with a powerful spell.
‘’Dear daughter, I have missed you dearly.’’ Claude said in the tone that Edelgard was so used to, he had grown to loathe Claude immensely, so much so that the only reason why she was not actively trying to end his life was Blanche.
‘’Father, you must let Mother go! You have no right to imprison her, she deserves to be free and to make her own choices!’’ Blanche shouted, stepping forward to keep Claude from reaching her.
‘’I have no intentions of hurting your dear mother, Blanche, that is not why I came here. My sole purpose following you to the past was to bring you back home. Your meddlesome aunt might have gotten in my way, but I sworn to myself to get my daughter back and that is what I will do.’’
‘’You are not my family anymore! You never treated me like you cared about me, you just taught me dark magic and used me to fight in your battles!’’ Claude lowered his head as if he was hurt by that but did not say anything to show his feelings, fearing his voice would crack.
``That is quite enough, Claude. Blanche has a family now and you’re not part of it. Remove yourself from the way or I will do it myself.’’ Edelgard pointed at him with her axe and Claude started laughing at her.
‘’Those baseless threats will not do you any favor. In fact, they might persuade me to end my unfinished job… You know, your other eye.’’
Claude’s armour did not make his smirk visible, but with a snap of his finger a dark portal swallowed him, Blanche and Edelgard. That left Beth utterly defenceless, as she tried to run out of the monastery already fearing what would happen to her.
As if Future Claude’s appearance had been a prelude to her destiny, the Claude in the present was in the yard right before her. His henchmen were keeping Byleth and the students busy enough for him to sneak off to kidnap Beth.
With Blanche and Edelgard gone, there was no way to guarantee the future wouldn’t just repeat itself. Beth lit her fists in magic and she readied her sword to fight Claude for her freedom, but it was pointless as soon as Claude struck her with his own bolt of magic. She fell to the ground, unable to withstand the pain.
However, when everything seemed lost, a lance hit Claude’s head hard enough to knock him out. Beth’s blurry vision tried to focus on her saviour, but she just saw flashes of a blue cape and yellow as she was lifted off from the ground and taken to safety.
In the monastery’s grounds, not everything was so calm and although the enemy commander was out of cold, the underlings were presenting a significant threat. The Leicester Alliance had declared war on both the Empire and the Kingdom since the archduke’s son had forcefully acquired power and was sending all the troops along the agarthans to assault the monastery.
Byleth tried to lead the students out of the monastery but there were more enemies everytime. He had even lost sight of some of his sister’s students, but he had seen Sylvain escaping on Felix’s back, clearly taking advantage of the cat’s size.
Edelgard was staying strong and fighting for her friends to make it out before her. She was willing to even put her life on the line to save everyone else.
Even if Byleth had lost sight of the Blue Lions, they were holding off just fine. However, Annette had grown tired of simply tearing through the enemy lines and weakened a demonic beast enough to jump on its back. Still feeling betrayed by Mercedes, she made the decision to ride the demonic beast and use it to get away as quickly as possible. However, during her mad dash she saw Ashe in trouble being surrounded by enemies and quickly swept her way up to him and offered him a ride.
``You look like you could use my help.’’ She was pulling the demonic beast’s hair to get it to listen to her and got it to kneel to let Ashe jump in with her.
They left together.

Mercedes and Dedue were shocked to see them go but kept fighting nonetheless. Mercedes had her brother’s support but even then numerical inferiority was a great disadvantage, so they were having trouble keep themselves upright.
They saw Marianne and Hilda flying over their heads, which distracted them enough to not notice Claude was making his way back to the battlefield. With one of his deadly spells, he quickly destroyed Jeritza’s armour and proceeded to shoot two spikes of magic to his head, making it seem as if he had horns. Mercedes screamed and tried to attack Claude, but Claude was ready for it and was charging a counter attack. Mercedes did not have enough resistance or defense to withstand the hit, so Dedue got in the way to save her in the last moment.
Edelgard, Professor Byleth and Hubert realized they were the last ones standing so they made it their task to keep Claude distracted long enough for them to flee. Claude was not forgiving or merciful while attacking them, and did not doubt in sending his strongest attacks.
Hubert was not willing to let Edelgard die in his watch so he stood in the way and absorbed all the damage so nothing could get to her. As a result, he received a lethal wound and require immediate curing, but Professor Byleth delivered a deadly blow to Claude before that, forcing him to retire.
It gave the three of them the window of opportunity to flee, which in turn made Rhea, Seteth and all the other people remaining in the monastery resume search for Beth and when they realized she was nowhere to be found, but recovered Alois and Shamir, left.
In the following days, Annette and Ashe were able to reach the palace and meet up with King Lambert and Gustave. They asked why Ashe was alone, with no Dimitri and no Dedue. His answer was that Dimitri and him got separated in the battlefield (not wanting Lambert to blame Beth for Dimitri’s disappearance) and that Dedue abandoned his side, which made Annette swoop in and save him. The King thanked Annette for helping her son, which she accepted gratefully, but he was dubious on whether Dedue had really did that, because he knew how loyal he was to the crown. He’d lost his family during the murder attempt and all he’d ever known was the court’s people, so Lambert doubted greatly that Ashe was telling the truth. There was something else, probably, that he was missing.
``Perhaps he went to look for Dimitri. You told me you’ve been on better terms.’’ But their relationship was regressing, because Dimitri was regressing too. ``I do not think he meant to abandon you, or at least, he did not do it intentionally.’’
``Really?’’ Annette snorted, rolling her eyes. ‘’He dumped everyone for his girlfriend.’’
``Dedue has a girlfriend?’’ King Lambert seemed quite shocked with the news, momentarily forgetting that his kingdom was at the brink of war, his only legitimate heir was missing and the royal retainer was MIA… well, a girlfriend would explain deserting from the Kingdom army.
``Yes, it’s my best friend, Mercedes!’’ Gustave gasped something about Mercedes and Annette nodded to her father fervently.
``But I thought that you…’’ King Lambert muttered, but kept himself from saying anything that could potentially harm his son further. ``Well, if he comes back, that’ll prove his loyalty.’’
``… I would not be sure that he would be able to come back on his own… not with the Alliance’s army flooding the monastery… We did send support, but Archbishop Rhea’s plans were mostly focused on evacuating the students… if Dedue survived the assault, it is likely he will choose a nearer destination…’’
Suddenly, the guards opened the main door of the palace and for a second, King Lambert feared there was some intruder or that Cornelia’s friends had infiltrated the palace. However, it was neither.
The prince of the Kingdom of Faerghus stood by the main entrance severely wounded, carrying Captain Jeralt’s daughter in his arms. Annette quickly approached them both to heal them and so did the court’s healers. She wished that Mercedes were there, but a part of her knew that Mercedes no longer trusted her and that she should stop worrying so much about her.
Having Beth in the palace equated having a flaring target on their heads, but then again, King Lambert had been a target of the Agarthans so it did not change much the situation. Dimitri clearly disregarded his own safety in order to bring Beth safely, so there was that.

During the following days, Rodrigue sent the king a letter saying that Ingrid, Sylvain and Felix had all made it home safely, along with their guests. Archbishop Rhea also made sure to send her own letter thanking him for the support, which was delivered with the outmost secrecy. With war waging in the borders of the Empire and the Kingdom, they both were extremely busy. Although most of the people in the palace except Annette were injured, they tried to contribute as much as they could. Once she recovered, Beth did not doubt to lend her knowledge and help the King, earning quickly his respect as a grandmaster. She did not have her brother’s training, but she was a quick learner and Sothis had raised her. Archbishop Rhea demanded Beth go to the Empire and meet with her family but no one was quite sure it was safe. Surely a quick means of transport like Felix or Minerva would help, but there were enemy troops everywhere, since Almyra had joined the frail and quickly invaded the borders through the Alliance.

Back in Enbarr, the capital, Archbishop Rhea was conducting an investigation to determine who had told Claude about the change of plans. He had no possible way of knowing, specially after Hilda had stopped working with him. She got her answer as soon as the great bridge of Myrddin was threatened and the enemy forces tried to control the stronghold. Professor Byleth and Edelgard alongside some other allies had been sent to help and the enemy commander had been none other than Lorenz, which did not fail to amuse Rhea. She ordered his execution, but unfortunately the allied army only was able to defend the territory and not undertake an offensive stance.
Once she received the news that Beth was at the palace, she started creating a search party to retrieve Beth. The Empire’s army was stronger than the Kingdom’s, so they had a much better chance of protecting Beth if they kept her safely secured in the capital. Sothis, still playing her role as a mother, insisted in being part of the party. All the most capable units, including the Knights and even Seteth, were fighting in the forefront but Beth was also important so Rhea saw her priorities divided. She decided to send Professor Byleth alongside the available knights, Flayn and Petra, as to not disturb the Empire’s army.

When the party arrived at the castle, they were allowed in without any disputes, thankfully. Ashe, due to being severely injured and therefore unable to take part in battle, saw the great gates opening from the balcony and thought it might have been Dedue but he was disappointed to see it wasn’t the case. Sothis, Byleth, Petra, Flayn and some other knights were making their way inside.
``We have come with the intention of retrieving my sister.’’ Byleth spoke, after going over with Sothis what he was supposed to say. Everyone thought he was the most imposing member of the group and Sothis had practically rehearsed with him what he had to say.
King Lambert ceded to the petition without major complaints, but Dimitri was clearly unhappy with the prospect of letting her go. He pleaded Byleth to let her stay and help the Kingdom, specially because the Empire had the entire Church of Seiros’ support. Byleth looked like he wanted to agree with him just to get him to shut up, but everyone else wanted to get Beth back.
She didn’t know what to do. She was attached to the Kingdom because she’d spent a lot of time with the people that were protecting it. She wanted to help and she wanted to aid the king, but at the same time, she didn’t want to let her family behind. She was reconnecting with her father and her brother, and she couldn’t leave Sothis after she’d done all the effort of raising her.
Annette was out in the battlefield, but if she were there, she’d have loudly demanded to let Beth stay. Dimitri was looking at her with sad eyes, as if she held all the hope in the world, while Ashe stood quietly much further away.
``I am sorry, but there is no way either of you get to keep what belongs to me.’’ A mocking voice suddenly rang through the palace’s walls and King Lambert paled, thinking that augmenting the security had been in vain. ``Do you have any idea of how long it took me to find her? There is no way the Charming Prince or the overbearing mom and the deadass brother get to have her. Neither of you deserve it, clear as day.’’
The King of Night stood with his face completely visible, revealing his identity as Claude von Riegan, who had been presumed dead. All part of a scheme created by the Agarthans’ upper spheres after the second divine pulse to safekeep Claude and keep him from learning about Beth. It was all pointless in the end, because the chain of command had been destroyed by Dimitri and Claude easily got rid of the last remnants of the prior commandants. He was in control of the Leicester Alliance, the Agarthans and Almyra. As much as the agarthans had tried to keep him from being interested in Beth, he’d developed his sick obsession anyway, stalking her even if she had no idea of who he was.
``You fiend! How did you even make your way inside here?’’ Prince Dimitri screamed at him, reacting much quickly than the others.
``Nothing gets past me, your princeliness. Now, how many of you do I have to take out before you give me what I want?’’
``I won’t let you keep up your deranged plan any longer. Even if I have to sacrifice whatever is left of my humanity, I will ensure that you never lay your putrid hands on Beth! You are nothing but a sick monster.’’
``Said the kettle to the pot.’’ Claude sighed, almost looking as if he was bored. ``Are you having fun with your voices, huh? Are they telling you everything there is to know?’’
Dimitri gritted his teeth angrily, wondering how Claude knew about the voices. It was likely he had learned where Beth was because he was a stalker, but the Agarthans had clearly given him information.
``Let’s end this mess of timelines now, shall we? Hand over the Goddess and the pretty lady or prepare to get burned to the crisp.’’
Everyone gasped because there was no way the Goddess was among them. Beth briefly glanced at Sothis, already guessing what Claude meant, but never quite saying it aloud.
``I do not know what happened after my daughter and Blanche used the Divine Pulse.’’ Rhea had told Sothis she’d used the divine pulse to revert time and Sothis was beginning to understand why and how it had happened. ``But what I know for certain is that I will not allow you to hurt my family or my creations any longer.’’
``Goddess releasing her fangs?’’ Claude asked mockingly.
``I sacrificed most of my power back in Zanado, but I will end you even if it the last thing I do with my life!’’
Sothis and Rhea knew the Agarthans would not give up in their war against the nabateans. That was why Sothis had poured most of her power in the Blessed Weapons, to ensure that Rhea would have a tool to fight them once they inevitably rose again. Sothis knew that she had not been meant to survive Zanado, which meant that she had overstayed her welcome in Fódlan, but she was grateful to the heavens that she had spent her last moments with her family, raising her great-granddaughter and in Rhea’s company. She could not wish for a better family, although she wished that Sitri could have spent time with them too… before she gave into the dark side.
``I am not your mother, Beth, but I am sure you already knew that.’’ Sothis turned to the woman that she had raised and cared for very deeply, time froze and it seemed only the nabateans were conscious of it. ``I tried to make you happy, I tried to give you a push in the right direction, to get you to find love and to make meaningful connections with people. I never took the right approach and I should have taken care of you too, dear Byleth. What I am about to do is very risky and it might not last forever, but I am hoping that it will last long enough for you to get a better grasp of your capabilities and harness enough power to face their weapon… I love the two of you dearly, as I do love Seiros and Sitri… so please… do this for me.’’
``Mother, no….’’ Beth started crying.
``Use my powers after I disappear… and take care of Fódlan for me. There is no one I trust more than you two for it… I’m afraid Seiros’ grief keeps her from doing the right thing, but you two are not the same… You will do good and I can be proud of that.’’
Then Sothis turned to Byleth.
``We might have not spent time together, but you are part of my family, too… I know that your connection with your sister seems shallow to you, but I know how deep it really is. You two are my last hopes and my greatest pride. Though not my own children, blood from my blood and you have more than enough heart to lead the continent…. Keep everyone safe… upon his return.’’
Then time unfroze and Sothis started glowing. It was as if she was dissolving and parts of her flew to Beth and Byleth, morphing with them. She became a portal that swallowed Claude and the light on Beth and Byleth became brighter, until their hairs that had been previously been bluish turned greener, shiny, even more than Sothis’.
They were the vessels of the Goddess and Sothis had trusted in them to give them her power. She had sacrificed herself to keep Claude away…
Beth started crying louder, making everyone move to comfort her, except her brother, who was frozen because of the speech that Sothis had given them. Flayn hugged him tightly, saying that she trusted him too.

After Claude’s apparent disappearance, the enemy troops were at a disarray. Their tactics became significantly sloppier. Beth gained enough strength to face them in the battlefield, which gave a significant advantage to the Kingdom’s army. Still suffering from the grief caused by Sothis’ death and the frustration that Sothis had hid such crucial information from them, Beth decided to postpone their return to Enbarr. Dimitri, Annette and Ashe joined them on their journey to help the Kingdom get rid of the enemies at the borders too.

Delivering the news to Rhea was the hardest part. Rhea was not only upset, she was enraged. She considered forcing either of them to use the divine pulse, but it was pointless, they would not let themselves be controlled again. In the past, after Claude’s victory over Dimitri and Edelgard, she had been able to convince Byleth but it was not working any longer. They were two, with different mindsets and different loyalties. Rhea grew disdainful on both of them, but did not show coldness or apathy, because deep down she loved them as her family. Her relationship with Byleth was different, after raising one of them and protecting the other on her mother’s wishes. She wished she could unleash her rage on them, but she knew it was not going to work… keeping her mother from dying was impossible… it was going to happen no matter what. She had to embrace the opportunity that she had been given, to stay longer with her and the twins that had substituted the aloof mercenary raised by her father and teacher of a significantly more cheerful Golden Deers’ house.
She allowed Beth to leave because her heart clearly laid with the Kingdom of Faerghus. The prince and her had developed a strong bond, while she had many friendships among the citizens and even the King. Beth no longer required safe-keeping, seeing as Claude had been trapped by Sothis.
The war did not last long, because Almyra retired with Claude, and Lorenz was quite incompetent as a strategist and he was not comparable to Hubert. With the last of the Agarthans only support him, and most abandoning him because Claude was no longer there to fear him, he was easy to get rid of. Lorenz died at the hands of the woman that had, in another life, been his professor and guided him through life… perhaps to a path less misguided than siding with the Agarthans.

Rhea informed Beth and Byleth of Shambhala’s existence, which lead them to go there with their previous students, now allies. There was still no sign of either Dedue or Mercedes, but most of them had made it back and were ready to raid Shambhala with them.
They were quite impressed by the technological developments in Shambhala, as opposed to the rest of the continent. Most of the leaders were gone, but the weaponry and the demonic beasts were still around, so it was necessary to fight them before they declared victory over Those Who Slither in the Dark.
Hilda and Sylvain suffered severe PTSD seeing the people that had subjected them to so much pain but it made them stronger to fight alongside their allies. They found support in each other and in their own networks of people… Professor Beth, Felix, Ingrid, Marianne… all of them were willing to lend a helping hand.
The entire continent rejoiced after the ending of an impromptu war that finished as abruptly as it started and thought that another period of peace would follow… but Archbishop Rhea, Byleth and Beth knew better. Even as if they returned to Enbarr and Fhirdiad, respectively, they were still thinking of Sothis’ words… and how she knew that Claude would not stay trapped forever.

Prince Dimitri and his brother met up with the king after what seemed an eternity and reported to him their success. Annette was named knight, much to her delight because she was following her father’s footsteps, and Ingrid received the title too after her contributions to the Kingdom.
However, before the ceremony ended, a person arrived at the palace. Dedue’s heavy steps finally stopped once he reached Ashe, who was sitting in the rows at the back. Ashe glanced at him briefly, trying to act coldly, but quickly realized his mistake. Dedue did not like his mask, not the pretences, he liked the real Ashe… which was what really made Ashe love him.
``You’re home.’’ He said softly, a tone that Dedue had probably never heard in a very long time.
``I am.’’ He agreed, not wanting to elaborate further. He half-expected Ashe to ask him right away where’d been.
``I missed you.’’ What was he said instead, which honestly surprised Dedue. ``You were away for long… I’ve changed. I’m not… evil anymore. I don’t expect you to love me because of that, but maybe we could try being friends again?’’
Dedue started laughing and for a second Ashe frowned because he thought Dedue was laughing at him, but quickly realized it was not the case.
``You were never evil. Misguided, yes. Vengeful and resentful, a little. However, I am happy that you seem to have found yourself again. I also missed you… and not because we were apart, but because it feels like I’ve spent an eternity without my best friend.’’
Ashe blushed even though he clearly did not intend to. He knew he’d changed a lot and the peak was when he helped Sylvain in his plot… Dedue and him had been becoming more distant until Ashe ruined everything in a poorly timed confession.
``I know you’re in love with Mercedes, and I want to say that I support you… Marianne said that you know what’s best for you and that you will break things up if you’re not Ok with what you have… I understand that you were protecting her… because you love her and stuff.’’
``…It was not that… not at all… I remain loyal to you, no matter what. I just could not find you… that is why I took so long in coming back… I thought you were captured.’’
Ashe’s heart melted at that and deep down, even though his heart was still aching at the thought that his feelings were not reciprocated, he knew everything would be alright.
Dedue wished he could tell the truth to Ashe but he did not know if that would get Mercedes in trouble and how it would affect their relationship. He didn’t want to lead Ashe on.

Although it was stupid and all his previous reasoning was falling like a castle of cards. Ashe was very sweet, which he had forgotten after all the years stuck with his traumatized self. It was easy for him to forget Ashe ever changed, because they frequently spent a lot of time in the kitchen cooking for everyone else. Beth liked to eat a lot and the King was very fond of her so she frequently stayed in the palace, to help the court and to guide her previous students.
Mercedes soon appeared at the court, outraged with her father and still grieving her brother. She was there to look for Annette, since she wasn’t in the Dominic state. Annette had been working as a knight so she did not drop by home. She was busy swinging her axe around.
It broke Dedue’s heart to see Ashe intentionally pulling himself away to give him space and time with Mercedes, but Dedue knew he didn’t want that. He had been quite conflicted with himself because he did not quite understand his feelings for Ashe, but once Ashe had dropped his icy façade he found it very pleasant to be around him and it made his heart flutter.
``Dedue, we don’t need to pretend anymore.’’ Mercedes said, although she looked like a madwoman because her hair was a mess and her makeup was completely ruined. ``I left my mother and my father. I cannot lose the most important person in my life.’’
``Wait, pretend? What do you mean by that?’’ He asked Mercedes.
``My father was trying to get me married but Dedue kindly offered to keep up a pretence so he would leave me alone. It does not matter anymore, because I lost my brother and my mother.’’
Ashe looked at Dedue and sighed. He should have known, he really should have known that Dedue, in his ever gentlemanly nature, would help a distressed friend. Mercedes and him were friends that mutually bonded over their aggressive best friends, although Ashe was becoming calmer and sweeter. Annette was like a wildfire and she was as destructive as Gustave, if not more.
``You can keep him to yourself, Ashe. I doubt that there is anything that he likes more than talking about Duscur and you. Now, where can I find my best friend?’’
Before Mercedes could get an answer, Annette appeared from behind a pillar and jumped to her arms, squeezing her in a deathly hug. Mercedes hugged her back with as much strength, but it did not faze Annie much.
``Beth told me that physical expression of your feelings can be more useful than words at times. She also said that it’s nice to hug people when they’re upset.’’
Dedue did not remember having any conversation of the sort with Beth so he guessed it was a private conversation between Ashe and her. Probably after Dedue had stupidly rejected Ashe because he was sorting out his feelings….
``I am upset, not angry and not sad, but kind of upset.’’ Ashe was expressing his feelings which was totally a success, a merit that should probably go to Beth. ``This is as subtle as I can be when I’m asking you to hug me. I’m making an effort, please cooperate with me.’’
Dedue hugged Ashe but Ashe almost choked because of the size difference. Ashe had never grown much because he’d got short genes from his mother. It bothered him at times, but it made him more inoffensive, a useful skill when considering people used to be a bit scared of his past behavior.

Dimitri was a bit tired of having Annette following him around all day and by extension Mercedes although Mercedes was more quiet so it was more bearable.
``Why are you following me?’’ He eventually asked, because he’d admittedly gotten a lot better, the voices were speaking less than before, and he no longer felt violent impulses. The self-loathing was bad but it could be worse, Beth was helping him with it.
``I think you have something really important to do and you are forgetting about it so I’m going to follow you until you do it.’’
``Meeting with Edelgard and apologizing for my deplorable behavior?’’
``Eh… no. I meant confessing to Beth… what has happened with Edelgard, your Highness?’’ She asked as formally as she could.
``Just some misunderstanding provoked by my naivete… don’t worry yourself too much…’’ Then Dimitri realized what Annette had said and blushed like a tomato.
``Confessing to Beth…? Why is everyone under the impression I have feelings for her?’’ He seemed very nervous and fiddly all of a sudden.
``Because you do, duh.’’ Annette rolled her eyes. ``At least your brother’s smarter than you.’’
``Oh? Did Ashe tell you about it?’’ It was supposed to be a secret, but Annette was a knight so it was most likely alright.
``Yes, he did. I’m his new listener now. He speaks and I listen. We’re quite good friends! Sometimes, the roles are reserved. Also, I’m the King’s favorite knight, so how would he not tell me?’’
Dimitri and Ashe got along better and so did Dimitri and Dedue. They spared together at times and Dimitri eventually told Dedue about the voice he heard sometimes. Dimitri being more open about his issues made it easier to treat them. Dedue said he also felt a strong connection to Dimitri and they became good friends over a short period of time.
Ingrid was also at the palace quite often, to speak about books with Ashe and spar with the knights and Dimitri. She was going to get married soon and she had invited some people from the other houses, which was an exciting prospect.

In the Adrestian Empire, things were quite calm. Hubert was still recovering from his deadly injury but he usually exchanged confidential messages with Edelgard. They were stupid things, like Edelgard asking him what surname would fit her better after marriage, but it made them feel closer. When they were invited to Ingrid’s wedding, everyone was surprised but not displeased. They accepted and promised to assist.
Dorothea would have been heartbroken if it weren’t because she was with Petra being part of the royal court of Brigid. She was preparing operas with Manuela, who also moved to Brigid at Byleth’s suggestion, and travelled to the Empire at times. That allowed her to meet up with people she got along with, like Bernie, Ferdie and Edelgard.
The others were doing fine. Bernie was working on sewing and painting, Ferdinand was dealing with his duties as a noble, Lin and Hanneman were working on a way to save Hilda and Sylvain from early deaths with Caspar as their secretary and Lysithea had gone back home but frequently visited.

Most of them gathered together for Ingrid’s wedding with Glenn. Everyone was happy, except Edelgard maybe because she wanted to get married to. She had thought about confessing her feelings to Byleth but it was a bit soon so she dropped it. In the wedding, she met up with Dimitri to speak finally after so long.
``We should send each other more letters.’’ Dimitri started out. ‘’I would have, but I felt like I needed to say something important to you first.’’
``Really? What is it? Actually, I do too.’’
``Annette has been bugging me about it and I realized that you were right. I’m in love with Beth. It’s not just because she saved me… numerous times… and taught me very important things, but because I just love everything about her. I’m sorry I bothered you with that stupid confession, I was confused and I was trying to tell myself that Beth was not everything to me… she is, but I don’t depend on her.’’
``I was going to say something similar. I like Byleth. There is not much to explain. I admired him when I was kid and I listened about this child prodigy that fought with the knights while I could barely lift an axe, but it became something different when I started talking to him. He’s sweet and attentive… and really soft. I don’t think I could handle you… no offense, Dimitri.’’
``None taken. If this time we go right, we’ll be in-laws, right?’’ Edelgard laughed and nodded, liking the idea. ``Family sticks together.’’
``Yup, family. My brother, my husband’s sister’s husband. Sounds nice.’’
Everyone, except Bernie who was sitting at the back, was dancing and it truly became a problem that Felix was a giant cat because he was ruining the dancefloor. Sylvain tried to remove him, but Felix was bored and he had smartly decided to terrorize the boring wedding.
``They’re going to get married before us, just look at that.’’ Dorothea complained to Petra as she watched Sylvain pet Felix, making the cat purr. ``PUT A RING ON HIM ALREADY!’’
``Hah! I already have! Too late for you, Dorothea!’’ Sylvain gestured at the collar Felix was wearing that said: ‘If lost returned to Sylvain.’
``What? Why didn’t you tell me? Aw, you little—‘’
``It was you who proposed me, you said we’d stay together until we die, that sounds like a marriage proposal to me.’’ Sylvain started laughing and Felix just gave up.
``Alright, but it’s going to a private thing. With two people, maximum.’’
Their friends started complaining that no one was invited but Sylvain cheerfully said that he’d gladly not invite anyone if Felix agreed to elope. He had been working on a spell to make Felix a human and he was making great progress, specially after raiding the TWSITD’s headquarters.

Over the next year, Dimitri and Edelgard both confessed their love and got positive reactions. Beth told Dimitri it was quite obvious since the beginning but she’d been playing dumb, which befuddled everyone. Byleth said yes without giving any explanation. Ingrid and Glenn also had a son, which did not fail to make everyone else jealous.
Claude did not reappear, much to everyone’s relief. They kept training.
Edelgard and Byleth got married at the end of the year and everyone was invited. Captain Jeralt cried and his daughter comforted him, but it only made him mad and ask why she wasn’t marrying the prince yet.
Dorothea whined at seeing that Edelgard beat her to getting married first and got so angry she married Petra in Brigid and only invited Bernadetta, who just wouldn’t stop crying the entire wedding, and Ferdinand.
Hubert also disappeared mysteriously.
The fact that Beth and Dimitri were getting married was eclipsed by Edelgard and Byleth’s son, who was called Edelgard in honor to his grandfather. Jeralt accepted It gratefully and told Beth -now you can’t do it!-. It made Beth mad, but she forgave him after silent treatment for weeks.
Her wedding was also very nice, specially because Felix could turn back into a human and not ruin the dancefloor anymore, but he had gotten married secretly at some point and all the people that hadn’t seen him started talking about it. Sylvain’s hair was also red after removing the crest of flames from his system, and Hilda’s had turned pink. She still owned her Wyvern Ghost and took her everywhere with her.
King Lambert was overjoyed to see his first granddaughter be born not long after the wedding. Jeralt and him had an entertaining rivalry and it was fun to see that Jeralt had zero qualms about arguing with the king of Faerghus. Rhea cried when she was told the girl’s name was Sitri.
Claude did not reappear yet, although everyone kept training. Annette and Mercedes moved together to a house close to the palace, much to Gustave’s relief.
For the third year of peace, nothing very interesting happened. Dedue was still having trouble with his feelings so Annette got so mad that by the fourth year she locked both him and Ashe in a room until they spoke about their feelings for each other. Dedue thought Ashe had gotten over him but he could not be more mistaken and Annette was forced to listen through a conversation about opening a diner together but Mercedes was delighted. Annette got a seat in the first row for her wedding, beside Dorothea.
King Lambert and Beth were sponsors for Ashe’s project and she frequently dropped by to announced that she loved the diner, which gave it very good publicity. Dimitri was forcefully dragged at times into it. He was a little sleep-deprived because of his daughter and frequently sent letters to Edelgard to ask her to come by and help and be Aunt Edelgard.
By the fourth year, Felix adopted a panther and said to Sylvain that it was their child, seeing everyone else was having children. Sylvain was a bit concerned about having such large cat in his home but Felix could transform into a cat so they spoke sometimes. Sylvain had no idea of what they were saying but Neofelix (the panther’s name) seemed to think Sylvain was his mom. Sylvain asked why he couldn’t be the dad, but Felix said he was the dad.

In the fifth year, the royal family welcomed both a pair of twins on Dimitri’s behalf and a girl in Ashe’s side. King Lambert said he understood how Dimitri was ready to be the king and retired to leave his son step up. Beth did fantastic as the queen, but she did not let that stop her from training. Rhea also decided her to make her the Archbishop which also gave her a larger workload and when she confronted her brother about him taking the charge, Byleth said that after killing Claude he was planning to move with Edelgard to the furthest corner of the continent and never hear about politics again.
Beth was more faithful than him, anyway.
Nothing overly exciting happened until the seventh year, in which Byleth had a daughter. He was beginning to think Claude would not be back for a long time, so he was letting his guard down, but Rhea lived in the imperial palace and constantly reminded that was wrong. He sometimes went to the monastery but he was no longer working there, new professors were in charge of the houses and the Archbishop rarely stayed for long there.
Fódlan was changing, but the greatest change would arrive after Claude’s return.