All things considered, the whole affair started out totally innocuously. Noble, even. It went like this: a year after the end of the war, when everyone was still consumed with the rebuilding process, the Kingdom Knights who were tasked with clearing out any lingering dissidents in the old Imperial territories found some notes formerly belonging to Hubert, which detailed a mysterious group of subterranean people he had named Those Who Slither in the Dark. Thus, it was decided that the Kingdom Knights, along with the Knights of Seiros and other former generals from the war, would join forces to root them out once and for all. The whole thing was overseen by Byleth, the new archbishop, along with Dimitri, the new king, and so of course all the former Blue Lions decided to come together too, almost like a reunion of sorts.
After the fighting was done the Blue Lions agreed to stay behind in Shambhala to help assist with the ongoing research on Agarthan weapons and technology, led by Lysithea, who had recently become an expert of sorts on the subject. What this meant was that they decided to set up camp just outside the entrance to Shambhala, and with each new day they explored a different part of the city, or conducted different kinds of experiments under Lysithea’s watchful gaze.
Sylvain enjoyed the work, but mostly he just liked being together with everyone again. He hadn’t seen many of his friends since the war ended, what with everyone being occupied with their respective new roles, and it was good to spend time with all of them: Annette, who had accepted a teaching position at the school of sorcery in Fhirdiad; Mercedes, who had moved to Garreg Mach and formally joined the Church of Seiros; Ashe, now the head of House Gaspard; Dedue, who still remained steadfastly by Dimitri’s side; Ingrid, who had finally fulfilled her dream of joining the Kingdom Knights; and, of course, Felix.
Felix mostly spent his days travelling back and forth between Fraldarius and the capital now, balancing his duties as the new Duke while also settling into his role as one of Dimitri’s royal advisors. Sylvain, who was mostly occupied with the gargantuan task of normalizing relations with the Sreng region these days, rarely got to make trips outside of Gautier territory, and so mostly kept up with Felix through letters. Even then, they were slow to come by, not to mention the fact that the written word was a poor substitute for Felix’s flesh-and-blood presence. Also, Felix was terrible at writing.
All this to say that Sylvain more than welcomed the chance to spend time with Felix again, and on official duty, no less. He’d missed Felix dearly, his dry humor and wry smile and hair-trigger temper. And if sometimes he found himself wishing for more, well, that was par for the course too. It was just part of the Felix Fraldarius Experience, a well-worn and practiced routine for Sylvain by now. It was fine. It was good enough just to have Felix by his side.
And then, in typical Sylvain fashion, everything went to hell.
They were exploring a new part of Shambhala today, a labyrinth-like structure that seemed to contain an endless number of twists and turns and secret passageways. They had paired off and assigned themselves to different parts of the building. As with the rest of their subterranean explorations, they scarcely had any idea what any of the things they found were meant to be, much less what their effects might be on a regular human. Extreme caution was advised, as Lysithea and Byleth and Dimitri had all said a thousand times each.
Sylvain, however, was not particularly well-known for his ability to listen to instructions. Which is why, when he saw a mysterious glowing orb the size of his fist lying innocuously on the ground, he didn’t hesitate at all before bending down to pick it up.
The sudden flash of light bursting from the orb was so bright that Sylvain found himself momentarily blinded. He stumbled back, his back hitting a wall, rubbing furiously at his eyes with his free hand. It took a few long moments before his vision returned. He blinked furiously, eyes watering. He was still holding onto the orb, and when he looked down at it he realized it was no longer glowing. Huh. Weird.
“Sylvain?” Annette’s voice called from a distance. “Are you okay? What’s going on?”
He looked up just as Annette rounded a corner and came into view.
“I saw that flash of light—” she started to say, and then stopped when she set eyes on him. An odd look crossed her features. Sylvain had never seen her look like that before. Her pupils were dilated, blown so dark that there was barely any hint of blue. Her fingers twitched imperceptibly, like she was stopping herself from reaching out to grab something.
“Annette?” Sylvain said.
Annette started walking towards him, her footsteps slow and deliberate. There was an uncanny sway to her hips that Sylvain never would’ve thought her to be capable of. Much more disturbing was the way that she was looking at him. Sylvain knew what lust looked like on other people. He’d never seen that look on Annette’s face.
“Uh,” Sylvain said.
“Oh, Sylvain,” Annette sighed, now right in front of him. She crowded him up against the wall, one of her hands coming to rest on Sylvain’s chest. There was a faint flush tinging her cheeks pink, and she looked up at him with her eyes half-lidded, gaze heavy and—Sylvain never thought he’d ever say this—downright hungry.
“Has anyone ever told you how handsome you are?” Annette asked. “I don’t know how I never noticed before.” Her hand on his chest started sliding down lower. What the fuck, Sylvain thought distantly.
“Because you are,” Annette continued. “You’re so tall, and broad, and handsome, and—”
Her hand grazed Sylvain’s navel, which immediately jerked him back into awareness.
“Sorry,” Sylvain said, before shoving Annette to the ground and running for his dear life.
He had no idea where he was going. He wasn’t great at navigation; he’d mostly been relying on Annette to lead them back to the entrance, except that was no longer an option, because Annette had apparently been possessed by a malevolent spirit. Which is why, despite the fact that Sylvain had no idea where any of these hallways actually led to, he forced himself to keep running anyway. Annette was tiny and Sylvain could probably take her down in a pinch if he really needed to, but it wasn’t like he particularly relished having to incapacitate his friends. And also, if she really was possessed by a crazed sex demon, he would probably die if she found him. Escape was clearly the only option.
It felt like he’d been running for ages when he finally caught sight of another human being: Dedue, thank the goddess in all her mercy. Dedue had his back turned so Sylvain couldn’t see what he was doing, but that wasn’t important right now. He just needed someone.
“Dedue!” Sylvain yelled, sprinting up to him. “You have to help me, something happened to Annette and she—”
Dedue turned around, and there was that same look on his face: dark, ravenous, wanting.
“Let me help you,” Dedue said, his deep, gravelly voice somehow even deeper and gravellier than usual. He looked straight at Sylvain and licked his lips.
“Never mind!” Sylvain shouted, and then turned right back around and fled.
Okay. So maybe it wasn’t Annette that there was something wrong with. Maybe it was Sylvain. Maybe he was the one causing everybody he came into contact with to fall maddeningly, unabashedly in lust with him. That orb. It must’ve done something to him when he’d picked it up. Sylvain was such an idiot. Maybe Felix had been right, all those times he’d yelled at Sylvain for his complete lack of any self-preservation instinct. Sylvain really should’ve listened to Felix more often—
And then, lo and behold, there was Felix, standing right in the middle of an open space.
No, Sylvain thought miserably. Not him. Felix was the last person Sylvain wanted to see right now. He didn’t think he could bear to see desire writ clear on Felix’s face, desire for Sylvain specifically, but not have it actually mean anything. That would be the worst part of it – the proximity to what Sylvain had wanted all this time, only for it to be a mirage.
Except Felix just glared at him like he always did. There was nothing different about the look on his face. He certainly didn’t look lustful. Mostly, he just looked annoyed.
“What’s going on?” he asked. “I heard you yelling.”
“Felix,” Sylvain said, coming to an abrupt stop in front of him. “Do you want to fuck me right now?”
The look on Felix’s face went from annoyed to confused to embarrassed to incandescently furious within all of two seconds. Sylvain almost wept out of sheer relief.
“I’m leaving,” Felix said, starting to turn around, but before he could Sylvain grabbed him by the wrist.
“Wait!” Sylvain yelled, his voice rising in panic. “I can explain!”
Felix’s eyes snapped to where Sylvain was holding onto his wrist. Sylvain let go, and Felix’s gaze immediately cleared.
“Talk,” Felix instructed, looking back up at Sylvain and scowling.
“Okay,” Sylvain said. “You’re not going to believe me, but I think I got hit by some Agarthan spell or something, and now everyone I’ve come across has wanted to jump my bones – except you, that is.”
Felix made a face like he couldn’t decide if he should laugh or if he should deck Sylvain across the face.
“Please,” Sylvain begged. “You have to help me get out of here.”
There was a long pause before Felix finally answered. “Fine,” he snapped. “Only because even you couldn’t have made something like that up.”
“Thank you,” Sylvain said, almost dizzy with relief. Felix just grunted in acknowledgment before he stalked off, letting Sylvain follow behind as he led the way back to the entrance. Along the way they passed by Ingrid, who immediately turned bright red the second she laid eyes on Sylvain, and Ashe, who looked between Felix and Sylvain and immediately asked what he thought about having a threesome. The look on Felix’s face would’ve been more hilarious if the whole situation wasn’t so harrowing. At least Felix definitely believed him now.
With Felix’s help Sylvain managed to make it out of the building mostly intact. Felix didn’t stop there, however, and dragged Sylvain all the way out of Shambhala and back to their base camp, practically shoving him into his tent once they were there.
“Stay here while I figure this out,” Felix ordered. He didn’t wait for Sylvain to respond before he marched right out of the tent and disappeared from view.
Okay, Sylvain thought. He lay down on his cot, trying to collect his thoughts. Okay. Complete and abject horror from being propositioned by some of his closest friends aside, Sylvain found himself also wondering what this meant for him. How long was this going to last? What was going to happen after he returned back to Gautier? Would he ever be able to have a normal conversation with another human being again? And the irony of it all wasn’t lost on him either: the fact that he’d spent most of his early twenties sleeping with women who only wanted him for his Crest, and now it seemed like nobody would ever want him again for any reason other than some freaky Agarthan sex magic. Except for Felix, of course, who was the one person Sylvain actually wanted to be with, and who was also the one person who would never want Sylvain back. Surely this was some cruel act of divine retribution, because there was no other explanation for this. It was all just unnecessarily cruel.
Sylvain was left alone for so long that he must have dozed off. When he awoke, it was to the sound of Lysithea’s voice calling his name. Sylvain blinked, but there was no one around him.
“Sylvain! Did you fall asleep?” Lysithea called. It was only then that he realized she was talking to him from outside the tent. That wasn’t particularly reassuring.
“Sorry,” Sylvain replied, pushing himself up into a seat. “I’m awake now.”
“Good,” Lysithea said. “Felix told me what happened.”
Sylvain buried his face into his hands to muffle the sound of his groan.
“And as unbelievable as it sounded, his story was corroborated by Annette, Ashe, Dedue, and Ingrid,” Lysithea continued. “Who all want me to extend their sincerest of apologies to you, by the way.”
Horrifying as it was that they all remembered their encounters with Sylvain, at least it meant that the effect of that magic was only temporary, and that it seemed to only operate whenever someone was in the vicinity of Sylvain. Which was probably why Lysithea was talking to him from a solid ten feet away right now. Smart.
“There was this orb—” Sylvain started to explain, but Lysithea cut him off.
“I know,” Lysithea told him. “Annette helped to retrieve it. It seems to have served as the conduit for some sort of magic, which activated when you touched it.”
“Do you know what it is?” Sylvain asked hopefully.
Lysithea hesitated before answering. “We don’t know the full extent of its power, or what it might have been used for,” she said. “But I was able to find some relevant literature in the texts I’ve been translating, and…” She trailed off. Sylvain felt his pulse jump nervously.
“And what?” he asked.
“The thing about Agarthan magic is that it works very differently from the forms of magic we’re used to,” Lysithea said, her words suddenly coming out at rapid-fire speed. “While our magic largely functions via the user input and energy output system, Agarthan magic seems to rely on the basic principle of equivalency, which means that—”
“And what, Lysithea?” Sylvain repeated, his voice rising hysterically.
There was a long pause before Lysithea spoke up again. “The only way to cancel out Agarthan magic is to go through with the magic’s intended effect,” she said slowly. “Which, in your case, means…”
“No,” Sylvain said, immediately understanding.
“Yes,” Lysithea said grimly. “You’ll need to have sex with someone in order to undo the spell.”
“Lysithea!” Sylvain cried. “I’m not doing that!”
“What’s your problem?” Lysithea asked. Though Sylvain couldn’t see her right now he imagined her stomping her foot, like she always did when she got annoyed. “Shouldn’t you of all people be fine with that?”
“First of all, I’m not screwing any of our allies,” Sylvain said. “Second, I’m not going to force anyone into having sex with me while they’re in that state!” He flapped his hands for emphasis, even though he knew Lysithea couldn’t see him either. “I might be an asshole, but I’m not that kind of asshole.”
“That’s fair,” Lysithea replied, her voice much gentler now. There was a pause before she spoke again, seemingly having made up her mind about something. “Fine. I’ll look for a cure.” Sylvain’s mood lifted instantly. “But it’ll definitely take a while, because there’s still so much about Agarthan magic that we just don’t know,” she continued, but even that wasn’t enough to dampen Sylvain’s newfound good spirits. “And in the meantime, we’ll need to figure out what to do with you, so you don’t cause any other… problems.”
“Do your worst,” Sylvain told her, grinning wildly. “I’m at your mercy.”
Not only did the goddess have something against Sylvain, so did Lysithea. At least, that was the most logical conclusion Sylvain could think of, because apparently Lysithea’s idea of a contingency plan was to make Sylvain leave camp along with Felix, so that he could be separated from the rest while they tried to figure out a way to reverse the spell.
“Why do I have to go with Felix?” Sylvain protested, when Lysithea had arrived at his tent with the news.
“Because he’s the only person who’s immune, and it’s too dangerous for you to be alone in your current state,” Lysithea replied as if this was obvious, which to her credit, it kind of was. “Aren’t the two of you friends? What’s the problem with that?”
“Nothing,” Sylvain answered, because I don’t want to be left alone with my best friend whom I’m in love with, because I don’t know how I’m going to be able to bear spending that much time with him before it actively tears me apart wasn’t something he could just say out loud to Lysithea. “Did Felix agree?”
“Yes,” Lysithea said. “So there’s no issue, right?”
“Right,” Sylvain echoed, but his voice sounded oddly strangled even to his own ears. “Of course not.”
There was no more room for argument once Lysithea was done talking to him. There certainly was no room for argument with Felix, who just snapped at him to hurry up and pack his things. The plan was for them to switch places with some of the knights who were camped out at the perimeter of the entrance to Shambhala, just as a precautionary measure against any rogue bandits who might get curious and start sniffing around the place. In other words, it was going to be boring as hell. It wasn’t like they had an objective or a target, really. They were just supposed to sit there and poke at a campfire and make sure nobody else showed up. There was a reason why the knights who had previously been assigned to the post were practically children, fresh blood who had joined up after the war had ended. It certainly didn’t befit veterans of Sylvain or Felix’s stature. Sylvain thought Felix would’ve complained more about the whole thing, but maybe he’d already gotten all the complaining out of his system by the time he came to collect Sylvain. Either way, he remained as stony as ever as the two of them trudged away from camp, tents and supplies on their shoulders because they hadn’t even been allowed to take a horse with them.
Sylvain, being Sylvain, had to try and lighten the mood.
“Weird that you’re the one person who’s immune to this whole thing,” he said. “Why do you think that is?”
“I know why,” Felix muttered under his breath, not looking at Sylvain.
“Huh?” Sylvain asked. “What did you say?”
Felix cut a glance at him. “I said, it’s because I am not and will never be attracted to you, you dolt,” he said simply.
Ouch. That hit right in the center of a sore spot like a perfect bullseye, not that Sylvain could ever reveal just how much that seemingly innocuous insult cut him up on the inside. He grinned instead to cover up the hurt, and tried again. “So, stuck with me again, huh?” he said. “Almost feels like we’re back at the academy again.” Felix just ignored him this time.
“Aw, come on, Felix,” Sylvain tried again. “Are you mad?”
“Of course I’m mad,” Felix finally replied, glaring at Sylvain out of the corner of his eye. “I’m being forced to babysit you instead of doing what I actually came here to do, all because you’re too much of a moron to know not to pick up suspicious objects that might kill you. You’re lucky you’re not dead.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Sylvain said, and the smile on his face had turned genuine. “Yell at me more about how I need to take care of myself better. I missed those lectures of yours.”
“Insufferable,” Felix muttered, but he looked mollified by Sylvain’s words.
Maybe things would actually be okay, Sylvain thought. He just needed to think of it as a chance to catch up with Felix, rather than as the exquisite form of torture he’d been psyching it up to be in his mind. Because Felix was still his friend, first and foremost. Before Sylvain had decided that he actually wanted to spend the rest of his life pining away uselessly for Felix, Felix had just been that tiny child who would burst into tears at the slightest of provocations, whose bottom lip would tremble every time Sylvain carefully thumbed the tears away from his cheeks. And even after they grew older, after tragedy struck their lives, Felix was still always there, a constant, reassuring presence.
Before Sylvain had realized he was in love with Felix, he’d just loved Felix, plain and simple as that. So maybe everything would be fine. They’d spend time together, and gossip, and spar, and before Sylvain knew it Lysithea would turn up with the cure clutched in her tiny hands, and then things would just go back to normal. Yeah, that would be nice, actually.
That was the thought that carried Sylvain throughout the rest of the day. It stayed with him as he and Felix pitched their tents. It stayed with him when they built a fire to make themselves a simple dinner. It stayed with him as they sat around the fire afterwards, the sun starting to set around them, talking idly about their respective lives. Felix had so many stories from Fhirdiad, where so many of their friends had moved after the war. Sylvain had practically nothing to share in comparison, but Felix listened intently as Sylvain told him about his travels to the Sreng region, his attempts at learning more about the people. Felix just looked at him, fire shining bright in his eyes, and never looked away.
Felix looked good, Sylvain thought. He had been growing out his hair since the end of the war. It was spring, and the climate out here was much warmer than it was up in Fhirdiad, so Felix had traded in his elaborate coat for a simple collared shirt and vest instead. He looked so much like he had back at Garreg Mach, just older and wiser and with an impressive collection of battle scars now. But Felix also looked much more relaxed, out here in the wilderness, than Sylvain had ever seen him. He hadn’t looked like that at all throughout the long years of war. Felix looked good in peacetime, Sylvain thought. He looked good anywhere, but he looked especially good now.
No, Sylvain thought. I can’t do this. But it was too late, because then Felix was smiling gently as he said, quietly, “You’re going to be a better margrave than your father ever was.”
And Sylvain knew then and there that he wasn’t going to make it out of here unscathed. And if that was just how it had to be, then so be it.
Their days together passed uneventfully. The most exciting thing that happened was when they thought they were being approached by a band of thieves, but it turned out to actually be a herd of deer instead. That was still pretty exciting, though. There weren’t many deer up by Gautier territory.
By day four, Sylvain was already bored out of his skull. He’d recently shed his armor in favor of just wearing a simple cotton shirt each day—it was too damn hot, and besides, it wasn’t like he really needed to be defended against anything anyway—and Felix hadn’t even bothered to deliver his usual speech about remaining vigilant, which was how Sylvain knew the threat level out here was truly nonexistent.
In a last-ditch attempt to stave off his boredom, Sylvain ended up begging Felix to let him go back to the base camp just to see how things were going, despite knowing how useless the endeavor was going to be. As expected, Felix responded by expressly forbidding him from doing so. Normally Sylvain wouldn't have been perturbed by Felix’s sternness at all, but the cabin fever was starting to set in and making his temper shorter than usual. “You’re just jealous that Annette wants to bone me now,” he told Felix out of spite, which he knew crossed a line even before he’d gotten all the words out of his mouth, and succeeded in pissing Felix off so much that he walked off into the woods, only to return grudgingly five minutes later after remembering that he wasn’t supposed to leave Sylvain alone.
They hadn’t really talked about the whole Agarthan spell thing up until that point. It was a pretty awkward thing to bring up. But Sylvain had cast the first stone, so to speak, and now it seemed Felix finally felt free to say whatever it was he wanted to say.
Which, apparently, was this: “Obviously, you of all people would’ve been the one to get hit by a magical sex spell.”
“Rude,” Sylvain said. They were sitting idly on the grass. Felix still wasn’t really looking at Sylvain, probably still upset about what Sylvain had said earlier, even though Sylvain had already apologized. “It’s been a long time since I last had sex, you know,” he added.
“It’s true!” Sylvain protested. “I didn’t really sleep around much during the war, you know, and I haven’t been with anyone since I took over as margrave.”
“I should hope not,” Felix muttered. “Bad look for a noble to be sleeping with all of his subjects.”
“Well,” Sylvain said, getting annoyed now. “I’m not doing that. So.”
Felix grunted, which was his way of acknowledging whatever it was that Sylvain had just said without actually having to dignify him with a proper response.
“Besides,” Sylvain continued, “it’s not like I wanted this to happen.”
“No?” Felix asked. “I thought you would’ve loved being surrounded by people who all just desperately wanted to fuck you.”
“Okay, consent issues aside,” Sylvain said. “Maybe I actually want to be liked for who I am, instead of just constantly having meaningless sex.”
“You didn’t seem to have a problem with that before,” Felix shot back.
“Oh, come on,” Sylvain snapped. Felix still wasn’t looking at him, and all Sylvain wanted to do was grab Felix by the shoulders and shake him until he finally looked up. “That was years ago. We’ve fought a whole war together since then. Are you still going to punish me for that?”
“I’m not punishing you,” Felix said, finally looking back at Sylvain, eyes narrowed. “You’re the one who’s so convinced that everyone who’s even vaguely interested in you is just a Crest-seeking social climber.”
“Well, it’s not like anyone has ever given me a reason to believe otherwise,” Sylvain retorted.
And then Felix’s face twisted up into an unrecognizable expression, one part fury and one part something Sylvain couldn’t quite put his finger on.
“What?” Sylvain asked, all the anger suddenly draining out of him. Felix was still staring at him like he was figuring something out. He kept opening and closing his mouth, like he was trying to decide what to say.
“Nothing,” Felix finally said, and let out a long breath. “It’s nothing.”
It very clearly wasn’t nothing, but Sylvain decided to let it go. Anything to make Felix stop looking so absolutely wretched, when Sylvain had no idea why.
The fight had changed things, slipped them out of balance. Sylvain blamed the long year of separation between them. There was a new Fódlan now, and apparently along with that came this new version of Felix, twitchy and irritated and perpetually upset with Sylvain. Maybe things would have been different if Sylvain had visited Fhirdiad more, if he’d spent more time with Felix and Dimitri and Ingrid and everybody else. Or maybe Sylvain was just projecting past insecurities onto present misfortunes. It was honestly hard for Sylvain to tell sometimes.
Either way, things had suddenly turned strained between them. They weren’t fighting, per se. They still sparred and talked and sat around their campfire eating rations. But there was also this fission in the air every time they looked at each other. Sylvain could feel it, and he knew Felix could feel it too, even though neither of them were saying anything about it.
This went on for two days, until Sylvain finally sat Felix down one night and asked, “Are you still mad at me?”
“No,” Felix replied, but the way he said it was like pulling teeth. Felix always was a terrible liar.
“Okay, let’s try this again,” Sylvain said. “Why are you still mad at me?”
Felix glared mutely at Sylvain.
“Come on, Felix,” Sylvain pleaded. “We don’t get to spend a lot of time together these days. I don’t want to ruin this for us.”
The look on Felix’s face visibly softened. He looked down at the ground for a long time, twisting a blade of grass between his fingertips before he finally spoke up.
“We don’t get to spend a lot of time together,” he echoed. “That’s the problem.”
Sylvain had no idea what Felix was talking about, but he could sense acutely the fragility of the moment, like if he made one wrong move it would shatter to dust in his hands.
“Felix,” Sylvain started to say, but then stopped.
“Do you hear that?” he asked.
There it was again – that faint rustling sound. There was barely any wind so that couldn’t be it. It could just be an animal again, but somehow Sylvain knew that that wasn’t it either.
Felix nodded, his gaze suddenly sharp, eyes glinting like moonlight on steel.
The both of them stood up. Felix always had his sword at his side, and he picked it up now to grip it in both hands, braced for an attack. Sylvain was an idiot and had left his lance in his tent, not to mention the fact that he’d stopped wearing his armor for days now, but he wasn’t about to go get either of those things. At least he still knew some basic black magic spells, and if worst came to worst, he had his fists.
It was quiet. The rustling had stopped, but the hair on the back of Sylvain’s neck was still standing straight up. Sylvain turned to face Felix, about to chalk the whole thing up to his imagination.
It was in that moment that he saw it: a pale figure, an abnormal blue tint to its skin. When Sylvain made eye contact with it, he realized its eyes were all white with no iris. There was a dagger in its hand.
An Agarthan, he thought, as the figure started charging at them, unnaturally fast.
Sylvain didn’t even think. He stepped right in front of Felix, arms raised in front of his face, which did nothing to protect him as the dagger slid right into his belly with a sick, wet noise. The Agarthan pulled the blade back out, and Sylvain sank to the ground like a marionette with its strings cut.
“Sylvain!” Felix yelled. Sylvain clutched at his belly, and when he looked down, he saw that his shirt was stained with a rapidly-spreading pool of blood.
“You killed my people!” the Agarthan roared.
“Shut up,” Felix snarled in return. Sylvain heard rather than saw the clashing of blades, the sound of metal on metal. Sylvain opened his eyes just as the Agarthan’s dagger came flying right past him, clattering on the ground just a few feet next to him.
“You’ll pay for this,” Sylvain heard Felix say, and then the sound of his blade cutting through flesh, and then silence. Felix’s efficiency with a sword really is something else, he thought distantly.
“Sylvain,” Felix said again, more panicked this time. Felix dropped to his knees next to Sylvain, sword falling to the ground, and his terrified face instantly filled Sylvain’s vision. Blood was spattered across the front of his vest, but Felix didn’t seem to notice. Some of it had gotten on his face.
“There’s blood on your face,” Sylvain said weakly, raising his hand to wipe the spatter away from Felix’s cheek. Felix’s face screwed up like he was about to cry.
“Fuck you,” Felix spat. “We fought a whole damn war, and you still—” He cut himself off as he cast a heal spell, hands shaking the whole time. Some of the pain instantly lifted, but Sylvain still felt weak. His ribs ached with every breath he took.
“Can you stand?” Felix asked. Sylvain nodded, and relief instantly flooded Felix’s features. “Here,” he said, and then he was lifting Sylvain up, supporting him with Sylvain’s arm slung around his shoulders, walking them back to Felix’s tent. When they got there Felix lay Sylvain down on the cot. He was going to get blood everywhere, but it seemed like a bad idea to bring it up now.
“Sorry,” Sylvain muttered as Felix started unbuttoning his shirt, carefully peeling the bloodied cloth away in the dim light of his oil lamp. Felix’s face went hard, although Sylvain wasn’t sure if that was in response to Sylvain’s apology or the sight of the stab wound on his belly. It didn’t look that bad, honestly, plus the heal spell had managed to stop the bleeding. All good signs. Sylvain had suffered far worse.
Sylvain said as much to Felix, but it clearly didn’t make Felix feel any better. Instead he pinched his eyes shut, exhaling loudly, before he turned away to retrieve the jar of healing ointment he’d brought along with him. It took a while for him to find it and return to Sylvain’s side, bottle in hand.
“You’re a fool,” Felix told him.
“I know—” Sylvain started to say, but cut himself off with a sharp gasp when Felix started dabbing the ointment onto his wound. Holy goddess, that hurt.
“I’ve told you a million times to stop trying to protect me,” Felix continued. Sylvain looked at his face, but Felix was staring resolutely down at Sylvain’s wound as he cleaned it, the gentleness of his hands belying the harshness of his words. “I thought, after the war ended, that I’d never have to worry about you trying to pull some stunt like that again. Clearly, I was wrong.”
“I’m sorry,” Sylvain repeated. Felix moved away again, and when he returned this time it was with a roll of bandages. He really had come prepared, Sylvain thought, even though they both clearly hadn’t expected there to be any danger. Who was the one protecting whom? Sylvain shut his eyes, suddenly shamefaced.
“Instead of apologizing,” Felix said, starting to dress Sylvain’s wound, “you could just stop protecting me.”
“I could never stop protecting you,” Sylvain murmured. Felix’s hands stopped.
There was a long beat of silence before Felix spoke up again. “I’m not some girl, you know,” he replied. His hands started moving again, making quick work of Sylvain’s bandages. “You don’t have to use lines like that on me.”
“I know you’re not some girl,” Sylvain said. He opened his eyes, and finally got a good look at Felix’s face again: wretched, wanting. Sylvain’s pulse suddenly skittered under his skin, his heart soaring. He pushed himself up into a seat, ignoring Felix’s protests.
“I know you’re not, Felix,” Sylvain said again. Felix just stared back at him, his expression crumbling open helplessly, and suddenly everything was clear on his face, all laid out and bare right in front of Sylvain.
“You can’t—” Felix was trembling, almost indiscernibly, as he balled his hands into fists. “You can’t just say that. That’s not fair, Sylvain.”
“What’s not fair?” Sylvain asked, although he thought he knew the answer. Maybe. He couldn’t be sure – couldn’t allow himself to be sure. Not until Felix said it out loud.
“I haven’t seen you in a year,” Felix was saying, face red now from a mix of effort and anger and leftover adrenaline. “A full year, and then when I see you again you get hit by this—this spell that makes everybody want you, apparently, which is just such bullshit because I—” Felix inhaled sharply, words tumbling into one another now from how fast he was speaking. “And then we come out here and spend all this time together, and I have to watch you get stabbed right in front of me again, and I’ve never met anyone as foolish, and reckless, and self-centered, and oblivious—”
“Felix,” Sylvain said, but he wasn't done.
“—and the worst part,” Felix continued, breathing heavily, voice rising, “the worst part of it all is the fact that your stupid spell didn’t even do anything to me, because I already—I’ve always—”
Sylvain reached up to put his hand on the back of Felix’s neck, and Felix went down effortlessly, letting Sylvain drag him down and slot their lips together into a perfect, breathless kiss.
Felix’s breath was hot against Sylvain’s mouth. There was nothing shy or hesitant about him. He crawled into the cot too, knees bracketing Sylvain’s hips as he leaned into Sylvain, hands gripping onto his shoulders. He opened his mouth and let Sylvain slip his tongue inside. Felix tasted acrid and smoky, but there was something irresistible about it that made Sylvain want more. He smelled like pine trees and fresh blood. It was dizzying, intoxicating, everything Sylvain had ever wanted but never dared to even dream of. He tried to pull away but Felix caught his mouth again, biting down on his lower lip, making Sylvain groan.
“Fuck,” Sylvain said, when Felix finally pulled away. He licked his lips, and Sylvain’s heart slammed against his ribs. “You really want this?”
“Obviously,” Felix replied, leaning in again, but Sylvain stopped him, pressing one hand to Felix’s chest.
“Wait,” he said. Felix looked annoyed now, but Sylvain had to ask. He had to know. “How long?”
Felix turned pink.
“How long?” Sylvain repeated.
“Bastard,” Felix muttered. He pushed Sylvain down until his back hit the cot, and then leaned over him, the loose strands of his long dark hair coming to frame Sylvain’s face. “Always,” he finally confessed, and kissed Sylvain again, deep and slow.
Always, Sylvain thought, the word reverberating in his mind like the defeaning thrum of his pulse. Always. Sylvain thought about all the different ways he’d learned to speak in code about his feelings for Felix: I missed your insults meant I missed you; I’m jealous of how often you get to go to the capital meant I can’t believe they get to have you; I will protect you meant I love you. He’d perfected it right down to an art, but never did it ever cross his mind that Felix might have had his own set of code words too, that they’d been talking at cross-purposes all this time when they had really meant to say the exact same thing.
Sylvain had no idea how long they spent pressed together like that. Time didn’t seem to matter in the face of Felix’s miraculous revelation, in the face of Felix’s warm, pliant body, free for Sylvain to touch and hold as he pleased: the curve of his spine, the fullness of his lips, his silky-smooth hair, now free from its hair tie, that Sylvain couldn’t stop trying to wind around his fingers. They'd gotten Felix's bloodstained vest off at some point, which was just as well, because it just meant that Sylvain could hook his fingers into the soft fabric of Felix's shirt to drag him closer.
The only thing that finally managed to jolt them back to reality was when Felix accidentally brushed his hand against Sylvain’s bandaged wound, making him wince, and Sylvain finally remembered that he’d just been stabbed a scant twenty minutes ago. Oh yeah. He’d totally forgotten about that.
“Shit,” Felix muttered, his gaze finally clearing, although his face was still flushed, and his lips were still red and swollen. “You’re still injured, I should…” He started to pull away, but Sylvain grabbed his wrist.
“Stay,” he said. “Please.”
The corner of Felix’s mouth twitched.
“Fine,” he acquiesced. He made himself sound so unwilling, but there was nothing at all unwilling about the way his hand started drifting lower, past Sylvain’s bandages and down to his crotch, where a bulge was starting to form in the front of his pants.
“Only you,” Felix said, “would be able to get hard right after suffering a mortal wound.”
“Hardly a mortal wound,” Sylvain said blithely, but at the look on Felix’s face he realized it probably wasn’t in his best interests to argue right now. Instead he placed his hand on top of Felix’s, holding him down.
“What are you going to do about that?” Sylvain asked instead, and Felix’s gaze turned dark. There was that look again, the one he’d seen on Annette and Dedue and Ingrid and Ashe, but it looked so much better on Felix’s face, especially when he knew that that look was for him and him alone – no magic, no spells, just Sylvain and Felix and all their mutual history.
“Can I…” Felix started to say, and Sylvain nodded, guiding Felix’s hand to the buttons at the top of his pants.
“Please,” Sylvain said again.
Felix swallowed, but his movements were steady as he unbuttoned Sylvain’s pants, pulling it down along with his undergarments just low enough so that he could take Sylvain’s cock in his hand, already half-hard and heavy.
“Somebody’s excited,” Felix murmured, thumbing the slit, making Sylvain hiss.
“Of course,” Sylvain said, breathing heavily as he watched Felix start to stroke him to full hardness. “I’ve wanted this for a long time too, you know.”
Felix looked back at Sylvain’s face, and whatever he saw there made him drop his gaze immediately, like he couldn’t bear to keep looking at whatever emotion Sylvain currently had plastered all over his face. But that was fine too, especially when Felix scooted back down the cot so that his head was in Sylvain’s lap, breath hot against Sylvain’s cock.
“Felix,” Sylvain breathed. “You—” and whatever else he was about to say instantly evaporated as Felix closed his eyes and started tonguing the tip of Sylvain’s cock, shallow kitten licks that somehow still managed to make Sylvain’s toes curl.
“Lie back,” Felix instructed, and sucked a kiss to the side of Sylvain’s cock.
“Fuck,” Sylvain gasped. Emboldened by Sylvain’s reaction, Felix started licking along Sylvain’s length, from root to tip, and then put the tip of Sylvain’s cock into his mouth and sucked. Sylvain buried one hand in Felix’s hair, tipping his head back as Felix pulled off again to press kisses along the underside. He kept going like that, alternating between sucking the tip and more teasing touches that were slowly but surely driving Sylvain crazy. He tightened his grip on Felix’s hair, tugging gently, and Felix moaned around Sylvain’s cock.
“Come on,” Sylvain said, pulling Felix’s hair again. “Come on, suck me,” and Felix fixed him with his hungry gaze, never straying from Sylvain’s face as he lowered his head to slide as much of Sylvain’s cock as he could handle into his mouth. Sylvain swore loudly as Felix started to move, bobbing his head slowly, then speeding up as Sylvain’s breath quickened, chest heaving. Felix didn’t hesitate to set a punishing pace, one hand stroking the rest of Sylvain’s length in tandem with the movement of his mouth. He shut his eyes, focusing on the feeling of Sylvain’s cock in his mouth, and when Sylvain stroked Felix’s cheek with one hand he could feel the vibrations from Felix’s whimper shoot all the way up his spine.
“I’m close,” Sylvain warned, but instead of pulling off Felix took it as a sign to redouble his efforts, and he slid an inch lower, taking even more of Sylvain into his mouth. Sylvain groaned, holding Felix’s head in place, and came right down his throat, with Felix swallowing him down all through the waves of his orgasm.
Sylvain had to squeeze Felix’s shoulder before he finally pulled off, releasing Sylvain’s cock from his mouth with an obscene pop. He sat back up on his heels, wiping his lips with the back of his hand.
“Fuck,” Sylvain said, and his voice sounded absolutely ravaged even to his own ears. “Where’d you learn to suck dick like that?”
Felix raised an eyebrow. “You’re not the only one who got busy during the war,” he said.
Sylvain couldn’t help the wave of jealousy that crashed through his entire body right then, dark and ugly and uncontainable. The thought that somebody else had gotten to have Felix before he did, that there was some nameless guy running around the continent with the knowledge of what it was like to kiss Felix and touch him and fuck him—
“Stop,” Felix commanded, grabbing Sylvain’s chin with one hand. “I am not letting you spiral.”
“I’m not spiraling,” Sylvain muttered, but he knew how childish he sounded. He knew he was being unfair – it wasn’t like he was the pinnacle of chastity either, but still. “I just wish I’d gotten to have you earlier, that’s all.”
Felix softened. “You have me now,” he said quietly.
Sylvain sat up again, drawing Felix back in with one hand on the back of his neck. The kiss was relaxed and languid now, devoid of any urgency. Sylvain couldn’t believe how soft Felix’s lips were, how good it felt to have Felix’s tongue licking slowly into his mouth. It had been a long time since Sylvain had been with anyone, but he didn’t remember it ever feeling this good. There was just something about the fact that he was doing it with Felix that seemed to heighten every single sensation, that made the kiss unbearably sweet, that made Sylvain never want to go without this ever again.
Still, it was clear that just kissing wasn’t enough for Felix any longer. When Sylvain pulled away it was to the sight of Felix with his face flushed, panting slightly. Also, he was very obviously hard.
“Do you want me to fuck you?” Sylvain asked, squeezing the bulge that had formed in the front of Felix’s pants. Felix’s hips hitched forward involuntarily. Cute, Sylvain thought.
“You’re injured, you moron,” Felix said. “You can’t—”
“Then ride me,” Sylvain said, whispering the words right into Felix’s ear. He could feel it as Felix shivered against him. “You think you can do that?”
“Yeah,” Felix said. He paused to lick his lips. “I can do that.”
They took their time with it, letting Sylvain get hard again. Felix pulled Sylvain’s pants off all the way, flinging it to the side, before undressing himself as well. Sylvain had seen him shirtless before at the monastery, at the baths and on particularly hot summer days, but somehow he was still woefully unprepared for the sight of Felix, naked and waiting right in front of him.
One day, when Sylvain wasn’t recuperating after being stabbed, he would spread Felix out and explore every single inch of his body, run his hands over every scar, make Felix tell him the story behind each and every one of them. Even just looking at him now he recognized some of them: the particularly long one running up his left side was from a bad run-in with some monsters back in their academy days, the first time Sylvain had ever been genuinely afraid for Felix’s life. The one on his right shoulder was from the Battle of Gronder. There was a small burn on Felix’s thigh that Sylvain had put there himself, a freak accident from when he’d first started learning how to use magic in combat. But there were other scars too that Sylvain didn’t recognize, scars from the five years of war that they had spent apart from each other. Felix’s body was a map of his history and all the different ways it had intersected with and diverged from Sylvain’s own timeline. But it was also, more importantly, beautiful – a body made not just for war, but for the long trek towards peace, too.
“Stop staring,” Felix muttered, suddenly self-conscious.
“Sorry,” Sylvain said, smiling, even though he didn’t really feel sorry at all. “Come here,” he told Felix. He held out his arms and down Felix went, letting Sylvain kiss his brow, incongruently chaste. Then he grabbed the jar of ointment he’d been using earlier on Sylvain’s wound and spread it over his fingers. He caught and held Sylvain’s gaze as he reached behind himself to push his fingers in, spreading himself open.
Sylvain reached for Felix’s hip, holding him in place with one hand while he stroked himself with the other. In this position he couldn’t see Felix’s fingers as they slid inside of him, but he had a perfect view of Felix’s face, the way his eyes were screwed shut in concentration, the way his mouth hung open in a perfect ‘o’. The sounds he was making filled the small space of the tent, all quiet sighs and breathy moans, and Sylvain found himself staring, transfixed. Just the look on Felix’s face was enough to get Sylvain hard all over again, and by the time Felix was pulling his fingers out Sylvain was raring and ready to go.
“Are you okay?” Sylvain asked. Felix nodded, looking determined. He got up onto his knees, stroking Sylvain’s cock too to get it coated with the ointment, then held it in place as he sank down on it, thighs shaking, swearing under his breath. It seemed to take forever, and it took every ounce of self-control in Sylvain’s soul not to just thrust up into the tight heat of Felix’s body, but eventually Felix settled down on Sylvain’s thighs, fully seated on his cock.
“Fuck,” Felix panted. “You’re big.”
Sylvain grinned, squeezing Felix’s ass in his hands.
“You can handle it,” Sylvain assured him.
Felix snorted, tucking his hair behind his ear. “Damn right I can,” he said, and then started moving. Sylvain tipped his head back, groaning loudly. Felix was maddeningly tight around him, and the slow drag of his cock inside of Felix was a particularly torturous kind of pleasure. Felix was taking it slow, rocking his hips almost experimentally. Sylvain wanted more, but he needed to be patient. He wanted it to be good for Felix too – and it obviously was, judging by the noises he was making, the involuntary sighs and moans that wouldn’t stop falling from his lips. It was a marvel to discover what Felix sounded like in the throes of pleasure, what it was like to watch him unravel at the seams.
“Sylvain,” Felix gasped, starting to move more vigorously now, bouncing on Sylvain’s cock with reckless abandon. He was sweating, face turning red from exertion.
“Let me—ah—help you out, sweetheart,” Sylvain said. He moved his hands to grip Felix’s hips instead, and then held him firmly in place as he thrust up just as Felix slid down onto his cock. Felix moaned brokenly, back arching impossibly, ribs heaving. Sylvain just tightened his grip and started thrusting faster. Felix was putty in his hands, groaning and trembling, eyes glazed over. He was barely even moving his hips anymore, but that was fine, because Sylvain was fucking into him now with renewed energy, vicious and unforgiving.
“Are you close?” Sylvain asked, and Felix nodded, clearly already past the point of words. Sylvain lifted one hand to stroke Felix’s cock, the other hand still maintaining its bruising grip on Felix’s hip, and it barely took anything at all before Felix was coming with a choked-off groan, come spattering messily on Sylvain’s belly, some of it getting on his bandages too. Not that Felix seemed to notice, because then he was slumping forward, resting his forehead in the crook of Sylvain’s neck.
Sylvain paused, his hips stilling, but then Felix licked the side of his neck and said, “Keep going,” his voice rough and raspy. Sylvain started thrusting again, careful not to be too rough, mindful of Felix’s oversensitivity, although that didn’t stop the tiny hitching sounds that kept escaping from his throat. Felix kept kissing the side of his neck, kept groaning right against Sylvain’s ear, and it was that more than anything else that finally tipped Sylvain over the edge, sighing Felix’s name as he kept on fucking him right through his orgasm, coming deep inside of him.
Felix dozed for a while on top of Sylvain before he finally regained enough presence of mind to ease off of Sylvain’s cock. Sylvain stared as his come dripped out of Felix. He briefly fought the urge to slip his fingers right back into Felix and push his come inside.
“You’re bleeding again,” Felix suddenly said.
Sylvain looked down at his stomach, and true to word, there was a large red stain pooling in the front of his bandages. He hadn’t even noticed. It didn’t hurt either, although that might have been the post-orgasmic haze talking.
Felix sighed and cast another heal spell. That should have done the trick to stop the bleeding, but he still looked dismayed.
“I can’t believe…” Felix muttered, but Sylvain dragged him back down by the wrist until they were pressed together chest-to-chest.
“No,” Sylvain insisted. “Totally worth it.”
Felix pulled a face. “That’s disturbing.”
“It’s true,” Sylvain said, shrugging.
Felix still looked actively scandalized, so Sylvian reached up to push his hair back, tucking it securely behind one ear.
“I love you,” he said softly.
The look on Felix’s face instantly dissolved into something else, something quieter and gentler.
“Well, I know that now,” he replied, and leaned down to kiss Sylvain again. Sylvain wrapped his arms around Felix’s waist, anchoring him in place. When Felix moved away he was smiling, just the tiniest upward curve at the corners of his lips, but the sight of it was still enough to knock Sylvain flat in an instant.
“So I guess that means we undid the spell,” Sylvain said. Felix snorted.
“Good,” he said.
“But,” Sylvain continued, “that also means we’re going to have to tell everyone that we had sex.”
Felix turned white, then a dark, beet red.
“I hate you,” he said. “I hate you so much.” But it was okay, because after he was done raging he changed Sylvain’s bandages and then crawled back into the cot with him. And then after that, when they walked back to the base camp together hand-in-hand, nobody was even surprised, which just made Sylvain grin sheepishly and Felix turn even more different and fascinating shades of red. But even that was fine too, because after all the fuss and fanfare was over and it was just the two of them alone again, Felix pressed himself up against Sylvain's side and said, almost shyly, “I think I’d like to go back to Gautier territory with you for a bit.”
"Okay," Sylvain said in reply, grinning broadly. "Sure, yeah, okay." And, in fact, it was.