Linhardt didn’t even flinch when a bag was nearly slammed onto his head, the object harmlessly hitting the cafeteria table instead. It was a common enough occurrence when having a best friend like Caspar (especially when sitting at the cafeteria in the morning, like he currently was), so he learned to get used to it fast. He could even sleep through it (although, as Caspar told him, he could sleep through the end of the world, so being able to sleep through a backpack hitting a table wasn’t much of an accomplishment), and Linhardt debated going back to doing just that, but Caspar was his friend, and conversing with him was the friend thing to do.
That, and he wouldn’t hear the end of it if he did fall asleep.
Slowly opening one eye, Linhardt was able to make out the blurry form of Caspar, who, along with his bag, had his face down on the table. Then again, Linhardt was currently also laying his head on the table, so he was in no place to judge. “What is it Caspar?” he sighed. “I was nearly asleep you know.”
Caspar turned his head so that he was facing the other boy. “You’re always nearly asleep.”
“Fair enough, but you didn’t answer my question.”
Lifting his head off the table, Caspar leaned back in his chair and groaned. “I didn’t study for my test.”
Linhardt raised an eyebrow. “You rarely ever study for tests.”
“Hey, I do study!”
“Times when I force you to study don’t count.”
“...I sometimes study!”
The tired teen sighed. “I don’t see what the problem here is. Just do what you always do for tests.”
“No, you don’t understand Linhardt. I didn’t study for Mr. von Vestra’s test.”
Linhardt stared at his friend for a good thirty seconds before speaking again. “Caspar, I’ve known you for over fourteen years now, and out of every idiotic thing you’ve ever done, I think this one tops them all.”
Caspar groaned again, face falling back onto the table with a dull thud. “I know, I know,” his muffled voice responded. “I messed up big time.”
“That’s an understatement. How did you even forget to study? He told us a month ago when the test was going to be and basically reminded us every single day. I reminded you to study on multiple occasions. And, if anything, fear is as good of a reminder as anything.”
“I don’t know! Sports just got so hectic this past month. It completely slipped my mind!”
“…A test, that you were reminded about nearly every day for a month, completely slipped your mind.”
“I said I don’t know!” Caspar shouted, causing one of the teachers nearby to shush him. Rolling his eyes, he straightened back up again. “This wouldn’t be so big of a problem if he gave us assignments other than homework and tests. Heck, I wish he gave us more tests!”
“More tests? Who are you and what have you done with Caspar?”
“You know what I mean Linhardt.” And he did. One of the factors that made people dread having Mr. von Vestra as a history teacher was the way he did tests. There were only two each quarter, meaning that if you failed one, you may as well kiss a good grade goodbye. This wouldn’t be so bad if he graded other things like projects and class assignments. But no. The only other work they had to be graded was the homework (which was usually just adding more notes to the already multiple pages long notes). Since it was only his second year at the school, all the students who were going to have him hoped he changed his teaching methods from his first year, but no such luck. Having Mr. von Vestra was basically a death sentence for non-studiers and procrastinators, a fact Caspar was feeling the full force of right this minute.
Linhardt sighed, lifting his heavy head from the table. “Look, although I don’t believe that cramming is a good study habit, I’ll help you study until history class.”
Caspar practically jumped out of his seat and tackled Linhardt into a hug, eyes bright. “Thank you, thank you, thank you! What would I ever do without you, Linhardt?”
Cheeks quickly turning from white to pink, Linhardt pushed the other teen off of him. “Probably get yourself stuck in a tree somewhere in the middle of the forest where you’d be lost forever.” Caspar’s laugh at his comment made Linhardt smile slightly. “Now, let’s get started.”
The two studied together at every possible moment, in between classes, during lunch, and even during some of the classes that they shared, until, finally, the dreaded period arrived. Seventh period, the second-to-last class of the day, and, lovingly referred to by Linhardt, Caspar’s grave.
The classroom was rather empty. Most of the rooms had different bulletin boards and posters decorating the dirty walls. The only decorations in this classroom, however, were the giant map hanging on one of the walls and the old clock above the door. Students were forced to look at a parody of the color white for the entirety of the period (they were sure that it was supposed to be white, but, by this point, it was a dull gray color). A pristine whiteboard was at the front of the classroom, the day’s schedule written in neat, black ink. There was only one word on the schedule today, which was the word test. Mr. von Vestra’s gray desk sat in the back of the room. Just like the walls, it barely had anything on it, only a cup full of writing utensils, a stapler, a stack of papers, and Mr. von Vestra’s computer. The students’ desks were single, tan ones, placed in a grid on the gray floor.
Caspar and Linhardt, along with everyone else in the class, had their books and notes open, using their final precious minutes before class started to go over the material. The clock was like a bomb: once it reached zero, everything would explode. At least, that’s what it felt like. And, unfortunately for the group of Seniors, that bomb eventually went off.
The classroom door opened and Mr. von Vestra entered the room a second before the bell went off. He was wearing his usual attire, black shoes, black slacks, a gray shirt, a black tie, white gloves, and a permanent scowl. The sound of the door opening (and the sound of the school bell going off a moment later) caused a few students to jump, and caused every student to scramble to put everything back in their bag, making sure the only thing left on their desk was a pencil.
Once everyone was silent and looking towards him, Mr. von Vestra nodded and walked towards the front of the room, his gaze feeling like it was piercing into every student’s soul. “Today is your test on Units Five, Six, and Seven. There will be no talking, no use of the book or notes, and no partners or groups. If I suspect you may be cheating, the test will be taken away from you and you will automatically get a zero along with a detention. Does anyone have any questions?” No one raised their hand. “Good.” The teacher walked over to his desk and grabbed the stack of papers off of it. “When I give you your test, you will not be allowed to flip it over until I say so. If you do so, points will be deducted off of your grade. If your name, the date, and the period aren’t on the front page, points will be deducted from your grade. Any questions?” Again, no one raised their hand. This response seemed to satisfy Mr. von Vestra and he began to hand out the tests.
Linhardt glanced over to Caspar when he was handed his test, which was a rather thick packet. His face kept switching between the look he had when he was worried, and the look he had when he wanted to fight someone or something. The teen just hoped that Caspar wouldn’t destroy a test…again.
Mr. von Vestra’s voice redirected Linhardt’s focus to the front of the room. “You have until the end of the class to finish the test. If you are still working on it when the bell rings, you are to drop your pencil immediately. If I see anyone still working on the test after that, points will be deducted from their grade. Any final questions?” At the silence, the teacher turned his attention to the clock. “…You may begin your test now.”
The sound of papers rustling and pencils scratching engulfed the room. Taking a deep breath, Linhardt spared one last look at Caspar, wished him a silent good luck, and then began his own test, hoping, like the rest of the class, that he would not fail.
“Ugh, that was terrible!” Caspar complained as the two friends walked towards their next class.
“That’s what you say about every test,” Linhardt replied. He nearly ran into another student and Caspar had to pull his slumped over form out of the way.
“Yeah, but that test was even worse than usual!”
“It’s one of Mr. von Vestra’s tests, so that shouldn’t come as a surprise.”
“It’s not. That doesn’t mean I have to like it though.” Caspar crossed his arms and glared at nothing. “I’m pretty sure that guy hates us.”
“He wouldn’t have become a teacher if he hated kids, Caspar.” Linhardt was used to this conversation. It was basically routine by now. The two seemed to have it every time they left Mr. von Vestra’s class.
“Maybe he wanted to torture us all, so he became a teacher to do it.”
“If Mr. von Vestra wanted to torture people, I’m sure he would have gone into other professions that accomplish that task much better.”
“But here, he can do it legally.”
“Giving difficult tests isn’t a form of torture, Caspar, it’s school.”
“Are you sure? Because giving a chapter’s worth of homework after a big test seems like torture to me.”
Linhardt rolled his eyes. “If I agree with you, will you stop arguing with me about this?” He knew it would only happen again tomorrow, but at least he could be free for today.
“Mr. von Vestra is an evil man who came to this school to torture us all,” Linhardt stated in a flat voice. “There, happy?”
Caspar's mouth formed into the smile that always made Linhardt’s heart skip a beat. “Very.”
Linhardt swallowed before he spoke again. “Instead of moping around for the rest of the day, how about we actually go to the fun class?”
Caspar’s smile turned into a grin. “Heck yeah!” Grabbing his best friend’s hand, Caspar began running down the hallway, pushing other students aside and dragging a stumbling Linhardt behind him. “Let’s go!”
“Caspar! Will you- Caspar! Slow down!”
“Th…that was enough…enough running for…my lifetime,” Linhardt heaved out as he entered the classroom (well, more like when Caspar entered the classroom. Linhardt was practically being carried by the boy).
Caspar grabbed a piece of candy from the candy jar and then sat them both down. “Oh, come on. That was nothing. I barely broke a sweat.”
“I think I broke a lung.”
“This is why I keep telling you to go to the gym with me in the mornings.”
Linhardt managed to send a glare Caspar’s way. “I al…already have to wake up at six for school... …I am not waking up two hours earlier.”
The other boy shrugged, opening the candy and popping it into his mouth. “Well, whatever then. Don’t come crying to me when you need help beating someone up.”
Linhardt took a moment to calm his breathing pattern back down to normal. “Why would I be beating someone up?”
“You never know! What happens if you suddenly find yourself in the middle of a gang war? What are you going to do then?”
“Run the other way.”
Caspar snorted. “Based on what I just saw, you won’t get very far.”
Linhardt’s eyes narrowed. “Well, if we’re talking about a lack of skill, then perhaps we should talk about that time you got your foot stuck-”
“Okay, okay, okay!” Caspar waved his hands in his best friend’s face, eyes wide. “I’ll stop judging your athletic skills. Just don’t bring that up again!”
The teen smirked. “I make no promises.”
Linhardt turned away, but he could sense Caspar preparing another retort. However, it was cut off when the classroom door swung open, Mr. Ferdinand rushing in a second before the bell rang, huffing and puffing much like Linhardt was earlier.
“You made it to class on time! Congrats!” a Senior, Claude, called out.
After catching his breath, Mr. Ferdinand straightened out his tie and grinned towards the boy. “You make it sound like I’m always late.” With a small chuckle, the teacher headed towards the whiteboard, choosing a bright red marker to write the day’s schedule. “Sorry for cutting it so close. Ms. Casagranda needed some help moving instruments in the music room. It was only supposed to take a minute, but then we accidently knocked some music stands down, and when we tried to pick those up we knocked over piles of sheet music, and then-” He cut himself off. “Well, long story short, I’m going to be having paper cuts for a while.”
Some of the students chuckled at that, including Caspar. Linhardt could see his body relaxing and could tell that he was already calming down from his earlier stress. Linhardt couldn’t blame him. Mr. Ferdinand had the ability to make any person he came across smile.
Mr. Ferdinand (or Mr. von Aegir, but from day one the man insisted on Ferdinand. The only reason they knew his last name was because of the little nameplate on his desk) was sunshine and rainbows personified. He brought light into every dark room and color to every bland palate. All the students agreed that his personality worked great with being an art teacher.
The classroom was a good reflection of the type of person Mr. Ferdinand was. His walls were covered with different art pieces students had made throughout his years teaching at Garreg Mach High School (which have been less than two, but still). The walls themselves were a work of art. With the school’s permission, Mr. Ferdinand had last year’s classes paint the walls as their final. Although there were a few places where the paint peeled, the walls still looked amazing, even after nine months. Like all the other classrooms, this one had a whiteboard in the front of the room. Students were allowed to draw on it during the day, so a variety of colored drawings littered the border of the whiteboard.
Mr. Ferdinand’s desk was rather neat, but even that seemed to overflow with personality. Like the walls, pictures were taped all around it. The top of the desk had a multitude of mugs holding different art supplies, piles of different art projects to grade, Mr. Ferdinand’s computer, some pictures of friends and family, a candy jar, and a nameplate. The students’ desks were large, paint splattered tables that fit up to four people. Their teacher truly believed in the power of teamwork, so he tried to encourage it whenever possible. The tables were placed in a zig-zag pattern across the gray floor.
Because of the school dress code, Mr. Ferdinand’s attire didn’t exactly fit his personality. He had on black shoes, black slacks, and a white shirt. However, he always made sure his ties were bursting with activity. He wore some rather crazy ties to work (the more notable ones being the one with streamers, the one that played music, and the one that lit up to look like fireworks) and some of them were even custom made, Mr. Ferdinand’s art abilities helping bring a bland tie to life. Occasionally, he would come in wearing a wacky shirt, but those instances were few and far between. According to Mr. Ferdinand, his husband wouldn’t let him leave the house unless he looked professional, so he could only wear them on the rare days where he was away.
It was no shock that Mr. Ferdinand was everyone’s favorite teacher. It was impossible not to like him. He was kind, funny, fun, understanding, and always willing to lend a helping hand. Even kids who hated art ended up loving the class. So, for nearly every student, it was now a no-brainer to take at least one of his art classes.
Turning around, Mr. Ferdinand capped his marker and put it down. According to the whiteboard, they were continuing their paintings that they had been working on for the past couple of classes. “Now, I know some of you might be getting sick and tired of working on the same project in the same room. So,” he drawled, and nearly all the students perked up, “I decided to change things just a little bit today. It’s a beautiful day out and it would be a shame to waste it all indoors, so I got the school’s permission to let us have class outside today!” Some of the students let out a cheer at that. “I know it isn’t much, but I think a change of scenery will do us good! I already have the easels and paints set up outside, so you just need to grab your paintings.” In a flurry of motion, the kids got out of their seats to grab their pieces; some of them speed walking in their rush to get outside.
“Woo hoo!” Caspar shouted, a bright grin on his face. “Some time outside is just what I needed after today.”
“Outside is usually quiet during the school day, so I can’t complain,” Linhardt said with a shrug.
“Lin, no falling asleep on your painting. I don’t want to have to clean paint out of your hair again.”
“Again, I make no promises.”
The aura of joy followed the class out of the classroom, Mr. Ferdinand shutting and locking the door with a large smile on his face.
The year continued on as normal. The days and weeks went by in an almost boring cycle, but the Seniors’ excitement for graduation was growing as every second ticked by.
Caspar ended up getting a C on his test, and he bought Linhardt a new pillow as thanks. They proceeded to spend the night at Linhardt’s house playing video games. Or, at least, Caspar was playing video games. Linhardt was using the other teen’s leg to prop up his new pillow, making a better sleeping arrangement for himself.
Time continued on for the class, and soon it was the beginning of April. It was during that time when things started to change for some of the Seniors at Garreg Mach High School. Just a little bit.
It was another torturous period of history class. Everyone was hurriedly scribbling down notes, taking any moment of respite possible to look at the clock, desperately hoping it was almost the end of class. It was business as usual.
Mr. von Vestra was in the middle of another long lecture when his hand hit the edge of the whiteboard. The class didn’t think anything of it, until the teacher grabbed his hand and started muttering angrily under his breath. No one in class really knew what to do, so it took a moment for anyone to speak up.
Surprisingly, it was Bernadetta who spoke. “Um, M-Mr. von Vestra, ar-are you alright?”
Mr. von Vestra seemed to remember that he was in front of a class. Straightening up, he ran his non-wounded hand through his slicked back hair with a sigh. “Yes, I’m fine. There was a sharp piece of metal on the side of the whiteboard and I cut my finger. It only surprised me.”
“D-d-do you need me t-to go get th-the nurse?” Bernadetta squeaked out.
“No, I have some band-aids in here. I am absolutely fine.” He sighed and walked over to his desk. “I can’t say the same for my glove, though. Take this time to start studying over the notes you just took.” Grateful for the break from note taking, the class pretended to study over what they had written down while massaging their cramping hands. This relief only lasted for a minute though, and Mr. von Vestra was soon back in front of the class continuing where he left off.
After seeing Mr. von Vestra, most of the students focused on the wall rather than looking at him. Or rather, they avoided staring at his bare hands. The class understood why he wore the gloves now. The palms of his hands were black, as if they had been burned to a crisp, and there were areas of skin that looked as if they were nearly melted off. The ash-like color stopped right before his wrists began, almost like the flames weren’t able to get much higher than that. There were also cuts littered all over the front and back of his hands. It wasn’t a pretty sight. Students looked away out of politeness and so that they wouldn’t get yelled at for staring. No one said a word.
Well, almost no one. One student had something to say, but it wasn’t about the burns.
“Mr. von Vestra! You’re married?!” Dorothea cried out, slamming her hands on her desk and standing up.
Forget politeness. All the students' eyes flew to Mr. von Vestra’s left hand, and indeed, a gold ring sat innocently on his finger.
“Dorothea, do not interrupt me in the middle of a lesson. Don’t yell in the classroom either,” Mr. von Vestra scolded, glaring at the teen.
She ignored him. “But you’re married!”
Mr. von Vestra sighed, closing his eyes in exasperation. “Yes. I, an adult male, am married, just like most of the teachers in the school are. Now that we got that revelation out of the way, let’s get back to the lesson.”
“But you’re married!”
“Ms. Arnault. I am failing to see what the issue is about that fact.”
“Ah, I think she is meaning that she would not expect the person like you to be in marriage,” Petra, an exchange student, piped up.
Mr. von Vestra was full on glaring at the class now. “Pray tell, what about me makes it impossible for you to believe that I am married?”
“Well, I mean, have you talked with anyone about your personality lately?” Caspar asked. “That could definitely use a big improvement.”
Mr. von Vestra turned his glare to Caspar and the teen shrunk back in his seat, fear evident on his face. “You are walking on very thin ice, Caspar. As are you, Dorothea.” His eyes scanned the entire class. “I am well aware of the type of person I am, and I’ll have you know that I am in a happy marriage.”
“Someone is happily married to you?” Sylvain, another Senior, asked in disbelief. Mr. von Vestra looked like he was about to stab the boy and Sylvain held his hands up in defense. “Hey, I’m just saying what everyone was thinking.”
“Yes, they are happily married to me,” the teacher ground out. “And that is all you need to know. My personal life does not concern any of you.”
“Oh, come on,” Sylvain leaned forward and Felix, his boyfriend, seemed to be in the process of accepting Sylvain’s inevitable end. “You can’t spare any of the juicy details? Like what they’re like, how you two met, what the sex is like-”
“Mr. Gautier, I will be seeing you in detention after school today.”
“What?! Come on Mr. von Vestra, it was just an innocent question.”
“Do you want me to make it a week-long detention instead?”
Sylvain was about to respond, but Felix quickly slapped a hand over his mouth and pulled him back into a proper sitting position. The short boy’s glare rivaled Mr. von Vestra’s own.
The man took a deep breath. “Now, unless anyone has any more questions about my personal life,” and the tone of voice he used conveyed that they should not, “let’s continue the lesson. And Dorothea, please sit back down.” With a small smirk, the girl did just that.
As soon as class was let out, the students started discussing Mr. von Vestra’s marriage, and, by the end of the day, the whole school knew. There were already a lot of rumors going around, the popular ones being that Mr. von Vestra was only pretending to be married, or that his spouse was secretly the leader of a gang.
“I still can’t believe that guy is married,” Caspar said as he and Linhardt walked out of the school.
“Like Mr. von Vestra said, there is nothing strange about a man of his age being married, and I agree with him.”
Caspar turned to his best friend with raised eyebrows. “That isn’t the problem. The problem is Mr. Dark and Evil himself. I mean, who would willingly marry a guy like that?”
The school got that answer a couple weeks later.
It was the Friday before Spring Break, and all the students were even more restless than usual. As if to counteract this, Mr. von Vestra became stricter (which the students didn’t think was possible). With the promise of a weeklong break, the class was just tolerable enough to get through, the thoughts of relaxing getting them through the stress. At least, until the last five minutes, when Mr. von Vestra said the dreaded words.
“Now, your homework assignment, which I expect to be completed by our next class, is-” His sentence was interrupted by loud groans.
“Are you serious?!” Caspar cried out.
“Come on, Mr. von Vestra,” Sylvain complained. “It’s Spring Break! Can’t you give us, you know, a break?”
“There are no such things as breaks in the real world,” their teacher responded, not looking up from the words he was writing on the whiteboard. “My job is to help prepare you for the real world, so why should I give you false expectations?”
“But people get vacations in the real world!” Sylvain countered.
“That may be true, but that doesn’t mean-” Mr. von Vestra was once again cut off, this time by the classroom door opening. The students all turned their heads and, to their surprise, saw Mr. Ferdinand in the doorway.
“Ah, hello everyone,” he said with a cheerful smile and wave. “I am terribly sorry for interrupting.” He turned towards Mr. von Vestra, who was giving him a soft glare. Mr. Ferdinand ignored it and held up a brown paper bag that none of them seemed to notice until now. “You forgot your lunch,” he said as an explanation.
Mr. von Vestra sighed. “And you think that’s reason enough to interrupt my class?”
Mr. Ferdinand crossed his arms and a slight scowl graced his face (a look that shocked the class. They couldn’t remember if they had ever seen their bright teacher wear anything but a smile). “Of course it is! Eating is important! And I wouldn’t have had to interrupt if you would look at your phone."
“You know I keep my phone off during school hours-”
“Yes, of course I know, but I still don’t understand why.”
“I don’t want it to interrupt my class.”
“But what if there’s an emergency?!”
“Then they could just call the classroom phone.”
“But what if there’s a time sensitive emergency?!”
“It’s no slower to dial the classroom number than it is to scroll through your contacts and call me on my cell phone.”
“But what if I’m the one who has an emergency and can’t get to the phone, and the person who tries to call doesn’t know the classroom number? Or what if you’re not in the classroom? Or-”
“Ferdinand.” Mr. von Vestra pinched the bridge of his nose. “I am teaching right now. Can we please discuss this when we get home?”
“Oh!” Mr. Ferdinand’s eyes widened, as if he had forgotten where he was. He turned to look at the sea of eyes on them. “Again, I am so sorry for interrupting! I didn’t mean to take up so much of your class time.”
“If you didn’t want to interrupt my class, you could have come in between periods or during my off-period.” Mr. von Vestra’s tone was one of annoyance, but it lacked the usual bite students would associate with it.
“I was planning to do just that, but I got called into a meeting that I have to get to soon. And I was helping students in between classes and on my own off-periods, so I wasn’t able to do it then. I did text you saying that your lunch was on my desk, but someone doesn’t keep their phone on.”
“Are you saying this is my fault?”
Mr. Ferdinand’s mouth twisted into a joking grin. “Yes. Yes I am.”
Mr. von Vestra sighed, a small chuckle escaping with it. “Of course you are.” He reached over and plucked the paper bag out of Mr. Ferdinand’s hand. The art teacher’s smile turned genuine. “Now, you go to your meeting. And no detours.”
“What else would I be doing right now that would cause one?”
A smirk. “Interrupting my class.”
Mr. Ferdinand let out a bright laugh. “Fair enough.” Leaning in, he gave Mr. von Vestra a kiss on the cheek, lingering for a moment before straightening back up. “I’ll see you tonight,” Mr. Ferdinand said as a goodbye. He turned around to leave the classroom, but paused when he saw the jaw of every student dropped. “Um, is something wrong?”
It was silent. Then with a clatter, Dorothea stood up, pointing accusingly at Mr. Ferdinand. “Are you the one who married Mr. von Vestra?!”
“Um, yes…?” Mr. Ferdinand looked between the class and Mr. von Vestra’s, once again, annoyed face. “I-”
Caspar followed Dorothea’s lead, his hands hitting his desk with a bang. “Seriously?! You? And him? Together?”
“Is there a problem with that, Caspar?” Mr. von Vestra asked, voice nearly a growl.
Sylvain continued for Caspar. “Not a problem, just a shock. I mean, Mr. Ferdinand is basically sunshine and rainbows and joy incarnate. And you’re what would happen if death, evil, and darkness had a baby-”
“Oh, he’s not that bad, Sylvain.” Mr. Ferdinand waved the comment off. “Hubie just has difficulties expressing himself sometimes.”
“Hubie?” Sylvain grinned and rested his head on his fist. “Now I’m curious. Please tell us more about what Hubie is like.”
Mr. Ferdinand grinned. “Gladly. Well, for starters, he-”
“Ferdinand!” Red faced, Mr. von Vestra desperately grabbed on to the art teacher’s wrist. “Can you please not talk about my personal life in front of our students? It is very unprofessional.”
“Oh come on, Hubert. What’s the harm in letting your students know a bit about you?”
“Where do I begin? First-”
“B-But wait,” Bernadetta said. “Isn’t your last n-name von Aegir? At-at least, that’s what the nameplate in your classroom s-says.”
“Von Aegir was my birth name,” Mr. Ferdinand explained. “A student from the school I used to work at gave that nameplate to me as a Christmas gift. It was given to me before I got married. My last name is von Vestra.”
“Th-thank you for th-the explanation,” Bernadetta whispered, shrinking back in her seat.
Mr. Ferdinand smiled. “It was my pleasure. Now, where was I?”
“You were currently leaving to go to a meeting.” Mr. von Vestra began to push Mr. Ferdinand towards the door. “If you could actually go to that meeting so that I can finish explaining the next homework assignment, I would greatly appreciate it."
At the mention of homework, the entire class groaned again and Mr. Ferdinand stopped in his tracks, turning to face his husband with a similar expression that the students wore earlier. “Homework? During Spring Break?! Hubert, please tell me that you’re joking.”
“No, I’m not. Homework is an important part of-”
“But it’s Spring Break. Break is literally in the title!”
“That’s what I said!” Sylvain shouted out.
“I’m trying to get them ready for the real world.”
“There are other ways to do that than giving homework over break, Hubert.” Mr. Ferdinand crossed his arms and eyed him. “And I distinctly remember you complaining about the same exact thing when we were in high school.”
Mr. von Vestra’s face got redder. “I still did the assignments, though.”
“So are you telling me that you wanted to have homework over breaks?” The history teacher scowled, but said nothing. “That’s what I thought.” Mr. Ferdinand put his hands on his husband’s shoulders, his eyes pleading. “Come on. Give your students a break, Hubert. They’ve been working hard all year. They deserve it.”
Mr. von Vestra looked to the side, his voice and face losing its intensity. “Ferdinand, I can’t just change what I’m doing at the drop of a hat. It will mess up our whole schedule.”
Mr. Ferdinand frowned, but his expression quickly turned mischievous. Leaning in, he whispered something into Mr. von Vestra’s ear. The students couldn’t hear what was said, but based on the history teacher’s complexion rapidly turning cherry red again, they could make a few good guesses.
Mr. Ferdinand straightened up, expression smug, and Mr. von Vestra turned to face his class. He cleared his throat, but he still sounded wobbly and tight. “There will be no homework for you all over Spring Break. You’ll instead have the assignment after we get back.” The class cheered and Mr. Ferdinand leaned in to give the man next to him another kiss on the cheek. The students didn’t want to ruin the moment, so they chose not to comment on the soft smile gracing Mr. von Vestra’s lips.
The atmosphere was eventually broken by the school bell ringing. Mr. Ferdinand jolted at the sound of it. “My meeting!”
Mr. von Vestra glared at him. “I told you that you had to leave.”
Giving his husband one last peck on the cheek, Mr. Ferdinand darted out of the classroom. “I love you, Hubert!” he called back. “If you’re in my art class, be good for the sub!”
The class laughed and began chattering excitedly with one another, all conversations centered around the strange event and revelation that just occurred. They walked out of the room with an aura of joy surrounding them, something unheard of happening when leaving Mr. von Vestra’s class. And, well, if the students heard their history teacher respond to his husband’s words with a quiet, “I love you too,” they decided to keep that to themselves.
“Well, that was certainly a way to end the day,” Caspar commented as he and Linhardt exited the school after art class.
“Yes. I must admit, it was quite a surprise learning that Mr. Ferdinand and Mr. von Vestra were married.”
“Definitely. I’m not complaining though. It got us out of doing homework, after all!” Caspar laughed. “We should invite Mr. Ferdinand to history class more often, if these are the results.”
“I agree,” Linhardt replied, a small smirk forming on his face. “Class would become infinitely more interesting.”
Hubert looked up from his book as Ferdinand ran into the living room. It was half-way through Spring Break, and he had to admit that he was enjoying the vacation immensely, mostly thanks to his husband. “What is it, Ferdie?”
The man stopped right in front of him, his smile lighting up Hubert’s world. “I just got the most wonderful idea from a student!”
Hubert raised an eyebrow. “And what would that be?”
“We should work together for finals!”
“...I’m not following you.”
Ferdinand jumped onto the couch beside him. “I mean, most of the students in your Senior history class are also in my Senior art class. So, we could kill two birds with one stone and combine our finals together!”
Hubert stared at his husband for a moment. “But not all the students in my class are also in your class and vice versa.”
“True, but it could still count as their final! The school never said anything about not combining an art final with history or a history final with art.”
“Would the school even agree to this?”
“I’m not sure, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask!”
“...And you said a student had this idea?”
“Yes! They just sent me a fantastic email explaining all the ways this could be beneficial for students on both the history and art side of the project. I couldn’t help but agree with them!”
Hubert sighed, closing his book. “Dear, I love you and I would be ecstatic to be able to work with you on a project in school, but I think the student may be suggesting this just to learn more about our personal life. That, or they want to try to get out of doing homework again.”
“And what’s wrong with that? The personal life part, I mean.”
Hubert blinked. “It’s called a personal life for a reason.”
Ferdinand’s smile softened and he placed a hand on Hubert’s leg. “Is it really that bad letting your students learn more about you?”
“I want them to respect me.”
“I tell my students about my personal life and they still respect me.”
“Well that’s because you're you.” The man sat back with a frown. “You can connect with people as if it’s second nature. Everyone you meet falls in love with you, myself being a prime example of that fact.” Ferdinand laughed quietly. “But me...well, you know how I am.”
“Yes, I do know who you are, and I still love you.”
The statement made Hubert’s heart melt. “I know you do, but we’ve had years to learn and understand each other. I only have a short time with these kids and I…” Hubert trailed off, refusing to look his husband in the eye.
“And…?” Ferdinand prompted.
Hubert let out a deep sigh. “And I don’t want to fail them,” he whispered. “It’s my job as a teacher to prepare them for their future, for the real world. If I don’t do that, then what if they don’t learn something I would have been able to teach them? What if they get themselves caught in a situation that I could have helped prevent? I…” He swallowed. “I know the students don’t like me. Heck, lots of them are scared of me. But they respect me. And...and I’m afraid if they learn more about me, I might lose that respect. Then they wouldn’t listen to me and I wouldn’t be able to teach them and then they wouldn’t be prepared and-”
“Hey, hey,” Ferdinand whispered, lifting his hand to Hubert’s cheek. His husband leaned into the touch. “It’s alright. You’re a great teacher. I can promise you that won’t happen. You couldn’t fail your students even if you tried.”
“But what if it-”
“It won’t. And even if it did, you would find a way to turn things around. You always do. I believe in you.”
Hubert smiled softly and leaned onto Ferdinand’s shoulder. Ferdinand began carding through his husband’s hair in response. “What did I ever do to deserve you?” Hubert asked, his voice barely there. Ferdinand still heard it clear as day, though, and smiled.
“I ask myself that same question every day.”
Hubert snuggled closer to Ferdinand, cherishing the warmth and light his sun gifted him with. “I love you.”
“I love you too.”