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Who is that?

Who is that?

Don’t know your face, don’t know your name

Why don’t we play a little game?

 

“Lady Edelgard, he is doing it again.”

 

The princess of Adrestia quirks a brow at her best friend. “Well, The Masked Singer does air new episodes at 8 PM on Wednesdays.” Hubert flicks their gaze away, grumbling under his breath. “If you want to watch something else, I am sure you can ask Ferdinand to record the episode.”

 

Edelgard had spent her own money on a DVR for the television in the Black Eagles common room, after all.

 

However, Hubert is silent, and she knows why: They don’t want to watch something else. They don’t want to have a television in the common room.

 

Also, they think the entire Masked Universe is stupid.

 

Edelgard is inclined to agree, but she would rather have Ferdinand with his nose in a singing competition than have him sniffing around their business. He is like a dog, she thinks. He does not know when to back away from the porcupine . Well, that is unfair to dogs. The ones at Garreg Mach are very well-trained. She should know; she helps train them. But Ferdinand von Aegir is not a pedigreed security dog. He is more like a golden retriever.

 

“I cannot be the only one,” her best friend snaps. Edelgard cocks her head at them. To come up with the golden retriever comparison? Actually, she got it from Dorothea. “I cannot be the only one to see through the hollow facade of mass media.”

 

Ah, they’re angry. Ferdinand has a way of getting under Hubert’s skin like that. She thinks it’s the golden-retriever-like quality of Ferdinand’s of being unable to fathom how he might be disliked.


It is true: Lorenz Hellman Gloucester spends a lot of time in the Black Eagles house. While he knows that Claude enjoys concocting theories about him doing secret negotiations with the next generation of Adrestia’s nobles, he knows that Claude, like the rest of the Golden Deer house—no, like the rest of the academy, at this point—knows the truth: Lorenz’s partner is in the Black Eagles house, so Lorenz goes to the Black Eagles house to spend time with him.

 

It is not that he dislikes the rest of the Black Eagles. Bernadetta, when he sees her, seems like a fine girl. He respects Petra. Linhardt is undeniably intelligent.

 

And, yet, they have to compete with Ferdinand von Aegir . No one can compete with Ferdinand von Aegir. (His father, who believes him when he writes about his negotiations with Adrestian nobles, does not know about Ferdinand von Aegir.)

 

Still, Lorenz is a noble, so he knows them all. So he knows to be on guard when he sees Hubert approach him in the dining hall. And Edelgard is not even with them! He scans the cafeteria and finds her moving to sit with Lysithea. Well, at least they will not be worried for her safety.

 

(Yes, that’s what it was: worry. Lorenz will never forget how Hubert flung themself onto the dining hall tables, stomping and shouting, when she was late for lunch and entered with Professor Manuela. The Lorenz of even only two years ago would have called them ignoble for that, but this school is changing him, and, sometimes, it scares him.)

 

Hubert drifts into the seat across from him. Lorenz decides that he better get credit for seizing the initiative. “May I help you, Mr. Vestra?”

 

They answer his question with another question. “Do you consider yourself a man of taste, Mr. Gloucester?”

 

What kind of question of that!? “I am a man of noble culture .”

 

“Ah, so you agree.”

 

“Agree with what?”

 

“You agree that The Masked Singer is inane.”

 

Lorenz glances around quickly. He knows that Ferdinand told him he would be helping Marianne with the horses for the first part of lunch, but… Phew, he is still out. When he looks back at Hubert, he can see a glint in the eye behind their hair. Lorenz sighs, admitting defeat. “It is not my favorite television program, but it makes Ferdinand happy.” And, to be honest, he watches Ferdinand more than the television.

 

Hubert frowns. “It is very easy to make Ferdinand happy.” Before Lorenz can defend his partner- “I once saw Ferdinand grin and skip away after picking up a worm from the street and putting it in the grass.”

 

Before he can stop himself… “With his bare hands!?” Oh no, he does not like that look on Hubert’s face. “What are you trying to tell me to do, Hubert?”

 

Following his lead, they shift to his first name. “What am I saying, Lorenz, is that I can help you reclaim your Wednesday night dates.”

 

I do not want anyone involved in our dates. Besides… “Whatever caricature you have of my partner in your head, if you truly desire to watch The Masked Singer by yourself, Ferdinand can watch his recordings later. If you speak to him directly, you will find him very reasonable.”

 

The main doors to the dining hall open. Marianne peels off to get on the line for food, while Ferdinand beams at him. “Lorenz!”

 

Lorenz would like to say that he beams back solely because of his partner’s radiance, but it would be ignoble to lie. He also beams at the glower Hubert gives him.


Ferdinand von Aegir wonders why Hubert looks so nervous . Nervous is a weird look on them. Determined fits them well. So does anger. And, although they would get determinedly angry at him for saying so, he catches worry on their face commonly as well.

 

“Is something the matter, friend?”

 

“My name is Hubert,” they mumble, looking for someone behind him.

 

“And you are my friend! So tell me: Is there something I can help you with?”

 

A flash of anger. Ah, Edelgard must have walked away. “I have an assignment that I want to do Wednesday night.”

 

Ferdinand’s eyes widen. “Ah, I will wait to watch my episode then! Thank you for telling me! I would be remiss to cause a friend to struggle with their schoolwork!” Something in their face twitches. Ah, yes, Hubert does not want anyone to think that they struggle .


On Wednesday, at 8 PM, Hubert listens. Sweet silence. Still, they need to check. They step out of their room and look at the television. Blessedly black.

 

They go back into their room. They do actually have an assignment to do, after all, although it is not schoolwork….


Who is that?

Who is that?

Don’t know your face, don’t know your name

Why don’t we play a little game?

 

It is Thursday morning. 8 AM. Hubert hears Caspar. “I didn’t know they were airing re-runs of this show! Hey, Lin, remember this guy? His cat mask is super cool. Oh, do you think Ashe will want to watch with us too..?”

 

And then he hears Ferdinand clap. “I did not know that you also watch this show! I didn’t know you had a television in your room!” Linhardt mumbles something incoherent. “Ah, but yes, you’re right, Linhardt. If we’re going to invite all of our friends over, we should have food!”

 

“Wow, Lin, that’s a great idea!” Caspar cheers. “I’ll get on the all-school Discord! Ferdinand, what time do you want to watch?”

 

“Oh….” Ferdinand demurs. “Let’s say 8:30. I can go over to the dining hall….”

 

Hubert turns away from the door. They look over at Edelgard’s bed. She has awoken. “Lady Edelgard, they are doing it again.”