Felix isn’t the first student of their year to come down with the illness, and he’s not the second. He knows, personally, that he is probably the third, though he keeps enough of a lid on it that he could perhaps be mistaken for the fourth. It’s Garland Moon, after all, and it seems a popular season to come down with it.
He hates it. It’s stupid. They call it something flowery like “The Goddess’s Tears”. Felix calls it “fucking annoying”.
It started slow enough. He had woken up with a feeling like there was something in his eye, just sleep in the corners. His eyes were watery, and that was all. But they kept watering throughout the day.
By the time class was over and he’d gone back to his room to drop off his books before training, he had blinked out the first tinkling tear. It clinked onto his desk and rolled until he caught it with a reflexive slap of his palm.
It was very pretty; a perfect little orb the size of a pea, hard and crystalline, with a glittering swirl of color through it that caught light as he shifted it this way and that. It was very pretty, and he hated it, because it was going to mark him a fool before, ultimately, making him blind.
The popular, romantic myth of the illness is this: love is a Gift from the Goddess, and she sorrows when it is hidden. Her sorrow is enacted through glimmering tears, exposing the Beauty of Love. It’s a message to the afflicted that their love Should Be Shared, and for those who ignore the message, the eventual blindness is a comment on their Blindness To Her Blessing.
It’s all trite bullshit—no one knows really how the illness started or how to prevent it, only the root cause of an un-confessed affection, and Felix scowls and doubts the Goddess was involved, unless she was cruel, or very stupid, or both.
Hidden love isn’t always requited—that’s usually why it’s hidden. And simply confessing is no cure for the tears, and in Felix’s case would just be heaping insult on top of humiliation.
He drops the stupid tear into a flower bed as he passes, far from the dorm, and continues on to train. He keeps to himself and no one approaches him to spar, because he’s exerting his fury and, yes, some small amount of despair upon the dummy. He’s careful to wipe his eyes when he feels like another tear might spill over, and by the time he gets back to his room he has three more little shimmery crystals to drop into the foliage.
The second day is harder, because there’s no real surreptitious way to wipe at his watering eyes for hours of class; Felix sits at the back of the room and manages to hold off until lunch. He would have avoided that altogether, but Ingrid is so particular about skipping meals, and he’s dragged to the dining hall against his protests.
Then, everything all goes to shit all at once.
He’s sitting between Ingrid and Ashe, keeping his head down as he shovels spicy fish and turnip stew into his mouth as quickly as possible, and Dimitri sits down across from him. Felix glances up, catches the look on his face that says he’s about to try and talk to Felix, so he scowls and glances to Dimitri’s left where Sylvain is—and predictably, Sylvain is winking across the room at some random girl.
The moisture building up in his eyes coincidentally flows over in one fat, glimmering tear that rolls perfectly down his cheek to bounce off of the table and into Ashe’s stew.
A thick silence falls over Felix’s friends as Ashe gingerly spoons the tear—a little bigger than a pea this time and swirling with green toned shimmers—out of his bowl for everyone to see. Felix manages two more quick mouthfuls of his own stew, stubbornly, before Ingrid inhales, and then he shoves back from his seat.
“I refuse to discuss it,” he says, grabbing his dishes and, yes, fleeing before Ingrid or Goddess forbid Dimitri tries to follow him to talk about his feelings.
So, they do the very adult thing, and rat him out to Byleth and, through Byleth, Manuela.
He sits, arms crossed and fuming, on the edge of an infirmary bed while Manuela rolls a tear in her palm. It’s still only slightly bigger than a pea, with a thin spiral of lavender glitter through its center.
“Well, we’ve certainly caught this early, it seems,” Manuela says, and he glares at his knees. “You’ve had no pain or dizziness? Fatigue? Spots in your vision, loss of color?” He shakes his head even as his fingers clench around his upper arms, because he hadn’t thought about how this was going to happen.
He had only been thinking about his childhood, every salt-tear he had spilled on Dimitri’s sleeves and into Sylvain’s shirt-fronts, how he had given up crying while they buried a coffin with only armor inside. He’d been dwelling on how weak he would look because of this, how weak he would feel, and not about the end consequence.
He is not sure if he can come to terms with going blind because his stupid heart chose to fixate on Sylvain.
They leave him behind when they go to face Lonato.
He understands it, but it doesn’t change the feeling of betrayal, the feeling that they have written him off as weak and useless. He spends all of the time they are gone at the training grounds, learning to ignore the feeling of liquid dripping over his lower lashes and the tinkles and clinks of tears hitting the tile.
They will not leave him behind again, not while he can still see.
He doesn’t write to his father. Felix had promised he would, had sworn up and down that he would so that no one else would—it would be better for his father to hear it from him, wouldn’t it, he had argued.
But he doesn’t include the news in his usual letters home, because he can’t find a way to put it to words, that he is going to be a Blind Duke, yet one more way that he will never live up to Glenn.
His father doesn’t write that he is coming to the monastery, simply shows up to aid in the recovery of the Lance of Ruin.
By this time, the tears are near constant, his lower lashes swimming with colored sparkles like stars, and he has learned to tune out the colors at the bottom edge of his vision. His father looks at him, and Felix curls his hands into fists against the judgement he knows is coming, the slow staccato of plinks as one solid tear and then another and another bounce off of the stone in the entrance hall—but Rodrigue only puts a hand on his shoulder and looks at him.
He looks, silent and conflicted and clearly unable to offer Felix anything, until Felix shakes his hand off of his shoulder and stalks away.
He doesn't go to the training grounds, because he wants a moment to himself, and it's the first place anyone will look for him. Instead, he stalks off to the stables, because anyone who knows him has learned he isn't fond of horses, and he can probably manage at least ten minutes of being without human companionship.
This is a mistake—he had forgotten that Sylvain thinks of the stables in the same way Felix thinks of the training grounds: a place of comfort.
He halts in one of the doorways and wipes his eyes to keep his tears from giving him away as he watches Sylvain lean his forehead against his horse's neck, paused in brushing the great beast's mane. Felix scowls, suddenly furious with himself—he has been too preoccupied with this stupid damn affliction to properly look at Sylvain, which is so ironic it burns. Of course Sylvain is in the damn stables hugging his awful horse, they're supposed to face Miklan—
Felix has a chilling thought.
He turns on his heel and seeks out Byleth, because he cannot risk—can not risk—being left behind as he had been with Lonato. It's a real possibility, with a Relic involved and his father here, but Felix can't abide the idea of being anywhere but where Sylvain needs him when Sylvain must face his monstrous brother.
They do not leave him behind, though Sylvain weakly attempted to talk him into staying; Felix knew he would, but he was still furious enough that he had offered to kick Sylvain's ass and show him who should stay behind, even as he leaked tears so full of red and orange and gold they practically glowed in the noon sun.
“Worry about yourself,” Felix had said, instead of I’m worried about you. But Sylvain knew him well enough, knew how to translate Felix, and he had dropped his arguments; he knew better than to expect Felix to back down from protecting something.
And maybe Sylvain had been right, maybe all of his classmates with their worried looks had been right, and Felix doesn’t belong here on the winding steps of Conand Tower—it doesn’t make any difference. Felix relies on training and instinct and the surprise on the faces of Miklan’s men when they see his star-lined glare and focus on that instead of his sword angling for their gut. Felix is not in top form, but his top form is phenomenal, born of a lifetime of hard training, and he is certainly well enough to face bandits.
He's well enough to be at Sylvain's side when Miklan collapses in a howling heap of writhing darkness, well enough to drag a frozen, horrified Sylvain back out of claw range as the beast that was always Miklan stares them all down.
The horror is momentary, the distraction just a tiny blip, Sylvain sliding into a grim resignation that he wears too well, and maybe he would have been fine without Felix here but Felix could never have chanced it. What if he hadn't been there, and Sylvain had been frozen just a moment too long? Who else but Felix would have been right there to notice, putting Sylvain first?
Who else but Felix would have been there next to Sylvain, when Miklan was defeated and shrunken back into the shape of a man, catching Sylvain's mask slipping? Who else but Felix would have glared the others away from their questions and condolences, who else but Felix would have helped Sylvain drag the hated corpse outside and bury it, every step punctuated by clinks of furious crystal on stone?
And he doesn't do it for Miklan, of course, he does it for Sylvain. He thinks even Sylvain does it for Sylvain—some tiny proof that he's not the awful creature Miklan made him out to be his whole life, not if he goes to the trouble of burying the bastard. Felix wants to tell him that he's always been a better person than Miklan, that Miklan wouldn't have done this, but even Felix is sensitive enough to know that it's the wrong time for your brother would have killed you and left you to rot.
The grave dirt is salted with little sparkles of angry red and weary lavender, and Felix almost hopes some scavenger might see a bit of glitter and dig Miklan up. Only almost. He knows Sylvain too well; some day Sylvain might be back, just to remind himself he had done this, so Felix helps him dig deep and helps him pile stones and prays silently that Miklan is roasting in the Eternal Flames.
When it's done, Felix is the one who makes Sylvain wash the grave dirt from his hands, and sit for Mercie to heal and bandage the blisters from using the point of a shield as a makeshift shovel, and eat a bowl of the dinner Ashe had made. Felix does all the same, because it's easier to take care of Sylvain when he doesn't think you're taking care of him, and the reward is Sylvain's soft sigh when they finally lie down to sleep in the tent they're sharing.
"Hey," Sylvain says, just above a whisper, and Felix knows he's lying on his back with his head turned to stare at Felix, on his side facing away. "You didn't—" have to do that, but he stops himself, because even Sylvain must know that won't fly. "It means a lot. I know you—well. Everyone, I guess, hated him." Everyone but Sylvain, he means, because Sylvain had hated himself instead, just the way Miklan had taught him.
Felix glares at the side of the tent as another goddess-cursed tear rolls over the bridge of his nose to drop with the tiniest muffled noise onto his bedroll. "I know," he says after a moment. "Go to sleep."
Sylvain laughs, a soft soft soft whisper of a chuckle, and Felix squeezes his eyes shut and bites his lip. "Good night, Felix."
Felix doesn't answer, just lies there in silence and tries to memorize the sound of Sylvain's breathing for the day he eventually goes blind, until sleep steals in and claims him.
The exhaustion starts to set in after they return from Conand Tower.
Just little dizzy spells at first, frustrating but not wholly debilitating, and then a bone deep weariness he associates with a full day of training, or a hard battle. He had scoffed internally at 'exhaustion' as a symptom, 'exhaustion' as a concept, because he has never allowed something like being tired to stop him before.
He had not counted on the reality of exhaustion.
He struggles to get out of bed. To concentrate. To lift and hold his sword for training. He tries to push through as though everything is still the same, his new 'normal' of tears, and he is mortified to find he can't. He is mortified to practically collapse outside of the Lions’ classroom, and even more so to find himself ushered to the infirmary by Dimitri.
This is part of a development that Felix finds both infuriating and unsurprising; the general assumption is that Felix is weeping idiotic crystals over Dimitri.
It's infuriating for the obvious reasons, but unsurprising because… well, he always had loved Dimitri, from the time they were born, practically. Dimitri was his first and closest friend, before the Tragedy had stolen him and replaced him with something… other. Cold, and polite, and distant, and Felix had told himself that was grief, it was how Dima was grieving, but then the rebellion—
Well. Felix isn't in love with Dimitri, even if he had loved him their whole childhoods. He loves Ingrid the same way, and told her as much when she tried to pry a confession out of him. Of course everyone thought he was lovesick over Dimitri, his most complicated and warped relationship. Of course everyone decided it is complicated and warped because Felix is in love.
He scoffs and is just glad no one has put things properly together yet, especially not Sylvain, who is always at his cleverest when you desperately want him to actually be stupid.
Manuela orders bed rest and fluids; the tears come now even in his sleep, waking up covered in shiny baubles like some mythical princess, and they’re drying him up. “The moisture has to come from somewhere,” she tells him, and it’s only the promise that if he rests now, does as he’s told, he should be back on his feet soon enough. Not that it means much, he’s still going blind, but he’d still rather do it on his feet than in a bed like he’s dying.
So, grudgingly, he accepts bed rest, and lies back against an infirmary bed while Manuela pulls a curtain around to imitate privacy. He hears her speaking with Dimitri, her tone low, but the boar has always been rather artless, and his reply is clear enough.
"Oh, no, Professor, you misunderstand; I am not the person Felix yearns for." Felix cringes at his phrasing—yearns, fucking Seiros—but he's gratified a bit to hear at least Dimitri knows Felix isn't in love with him. There's another murmur from Manuela and then, "No, I'm quite certain. We are not as close as we were," and Felix can just imagine the sad face that goes with that mournful tone, "but I do still know Felix well."
Felix sits bolt upright in the bed, because, yes, fuck, Dimitri does know him well, and if he's certain that the popular theory is incorrect, it's because he knows who Felix 'yearns' for.
He practically leaps out of the bed, tearing the curtain back with a furious hiss of, "Dimitri!" The boar looks at him, startled, but Felix hardly notices over the yellow sparkle of panic in his lower field of vision. "If you say anything to—I swear if you spill this I'll kill you. I will actually kill you."
Dimitri looks at him, takes in his clenched fists and his wide eyes and the brilliant yellow crystals bouncing across the infirmary floor, and he looks disappointed and hurt. "I would never betray your confidence, Felix; you have no need of such threats." He frowns before turning back to Manuela. "I will let Professor Byleth know your recommendation. Good afternoon, Professor, Felix."
He turns and leaves before Manuela can stop him, and after a moment she turns to look at Felix with a hand on her hip and a raised eyebrow. "Well, back to bed with you, then, please." He goes back to the bed as another wave of exhaustion hits him, but he can't sleep through uneasy thoughts that Dimitri might not intend to give Felix's true feelings away, but…
The boar is artless.
Manuela's order of bed rest extends long enough that he is sent back to his room rather than taking up an infirmary bed, and the rest of the Lions drop by constantly with meals and excuses about keeping him company, though he knows really their goal is to make sure he's actually staying in bed. It's his own fault, in a way, for getting caught sneaking off to train by Sylvain of all people.
So, he stays in his damn room and endures Ashe and Annette's well meaning visits, Mercedes's little checkups, Ingrid's sisterly nagging. Dimitri knows better than to try and visit beyond delivering notes and assignments from Byleth, and Dedue surprises Felix by dropping off a tea that is supposed to help his exhaustion; it tastes foul, which he supposes might be some small revenge, but it does help.
Sylvain, though, drops in daily, sneaking Felix swords and daggers to maintain in a kind of apology for ratting him out, teasing and complaining about girls as usual in between sharing jokes and gossip about people they know. Felix doesn't care about the gossip, and he really doesn't care about the girls, but the weapons are welcome and so is Sylvain's presence.
This lapse into weakness, of course, comes back to bite his ass.
Felix's eyes had started to change.
He noticed it in the mirror one morning, when he finally managed to make eye contact with himself, and at first he reeled back in surprise. Then, he leaned in again to make sure he hadn't imagined it.
There were little shining flecks in his pupils, like sunlight on mica, and he swore because he was getting closer to full blindness. He'd already been losing colors, but he knew from reading about it and from Manuela’s lecture on the progression of the illness that the starry darkness of his pupils would expand and overtake his eyes whole as his vision succumbed to complete darkness. It was said to look strikingly odd, strikingly beautiful, but so were the stupid tears.
Felix wishes he was removed enough from it all to find any kind of beauty in it.
Instead he is furious, and he keeps his eyes down around other people; it's not hard, he's never been a fan of excessive eye contact, but of course it's Sylvain who startles him out of it. Sylvain, lounging back in Felix's desk chair pulled up by the bedside and recounting some gossip when his tone goes sly and teasing and he starts, "So, His Highness said something I could hardly believe—"
Felix's head jerks towards him in shock, tension snapping into him so quickly that some of the stupid tears piled in his lap go flying onto the floor. Sylvain's mouth snaps shut on his words and then falls open, and Felix turns wincing away, knowing that there's no way Sylvain didn't see the rim of amber almost swallowed by pooling, glittering black.
"Sylvain," he starts, but Sylvain's intake of breath stops him.
“Felix, your eyes—” Sylvain says, awed and horrified, and that’s when Felix turns back to glance at him and the color drops out of his vision. The color, his favorite, Sylvain’s hair suddenly a deep grey, and…
Felix can’t help it. He lets out a sob and claps a hand over his mouth. He can hear the muffled sound of tears falling onto the carpet, his lap, the minute clinks as they knock into each other. He closes his eyes, opens them again, but the color is gone, gone, and it’s a theft. It’s a spiritual robbery.
The blue of their house banner, the teal of his father’s cape, the green color of his own envy dripping out of his eyes, those had been hard to lose. But this is the first thing that touches Sylvain, that forces Felix to understand he is going to lose Sylvain, the whole entire sight of him. And it will happen piece by painful piece, slow and patchwork and unpredictable. Every new loss another little stab knocking the wind out of him.
“Felix, please,” Sylvain says, leaning in and wiping Felix’s cheeks, shimmers of colorless glitter running down his palms and wrists to drip off his arms onto Felix’s lap, “please, can’t you try?”
“What is there to try, Sylvain?” he growls, helpless, and he pushes at Sylvain’s chest until he leans back and has to stop holding Felix’s face. “It’s not like training, I can’t just get better at it, I can’t make—make someone who doesn’t love me love me.”
“It’s not His Highness?” Sylvain asks, and Felix groans— “Ok, I know, I’m just—I just have to check! I have to, fuck, Felix, I’ve got to do something." Sylvain scrubs a frustrated hand through his hair. "I can’t just sit here and watch you go blind.”
“It’s not like I’m going to die, it’s just…” Just his eyesight. The sword. His independence, for a time. Sylvain’s stupid fucking smile. Felix puts his head in his hands.
“Who is it, I’ll help you.” Whatever gossip he'd had about the boar wasn't about this, then, and Felix's fingertips press against his forehead.
“You can’t help.”
“Try me,” Sylvain says, and Felix looks up at him through his fingers and laughs bitterly. “Fine, don’t tell me, I’ll figure it out. Don’t look at me like that, I know you, there’s only so many people it could be.” Felix doesn’t say anything, but there’s a clatter as he shivers and the tears in his lap clink together and roll around.
“So it’s not His Highness,” he starts, and Felix drops his hands to his lap, brushes the tears there over the sides of his thighs and doesn’t bother to track where they end up, “and I don’t think it’s Ingrid.” Felix wrinkles his nose. “Ok. Any hints? No? Hm.”
Sylvain crosses an arm over his chest, grips his elbow, brings his free hand to his chin. “You get along with Annette and Ashe.” He watches Felix like he’s expecting to catch some kind of tell, as if it’s that easy. Felix just rolls his eyes. “I don’t think Mercie is your type? Right. It’s… not Dedue?” That earns him a scoff. “I know, you can’t stand each other, but opposites attract!” He tilts his head, narrows his eyes.
“I’ve got it. Byleth.” Felix huffs, but Sylvain cuts him off. “You’ve been weirdly obsessed with them since they got here, come on, Fe.” His fingers twitch in his lap.
“Byleth is good with a sword, Sylvain. I barely know them, I’m not going to—” fall in love with a stranger, at the drop of a hat, that’s not how Felix works, but he catches himself. “It’s not Byleth. Will you drop it already?” It’s Sylvain who sighs this time.
“Well it’s got to be someone! The only person left is me, and I know it’s not—” his half-laughing tone dies abruptly when Felix winces despite himself, and Felix wants to fade from existence at the strangled noise Sylvain makes.
“I told you you can’t help,” he mutters instead, his fingers curling in the blanket as he stares at the floor, littered with stupid, embarrassing crystals formed out of his stupid, embarrassing, unwanted feelings.
“I love you, though,” Sylvain says after a moment, and Felix’s stomach tightens. He very carefully turns to look at the wall straight ahead of him, instead of Sylvain at his bedside.
“Not the way that—”
"Felix, I love you," Sylvain interrupts, leaning towards him to try and catch Felix’s eye, and Felix grimaces against a sudden, rising fury. He cuts his gaze back to Sylvain.
"Don't." He should have known—Sylvain is only trying to help, Felix knows, but he should have known Sylvain would take Felix's feelings too lightly. That he would think he could solve all of this with a lie—
"Don't what, Felix?" There's an edge to Sylvain's tone, but Felix is too angry to pay it any attention.
"Don't—I know you want to help, but it won't fix anything, lying about—”
"I'm not. Lying," Sylvain bites out, brows drawn in against hurt, and it looks genuine but Felix knows Sylvain too well. He knows Sylvain would sacrifice himself a million times over for his friends because he doesn't think he deserves better. "I wouldn't—I would never lie to you, Felix."
And alright, lie was the wrong word for it, Felix knows, because Sylvain isn’t exactly lying. It’s just... Sylvain drops the word ‘love’ like it’s nothing, Felix could find any number of girls Sylvain has loved, and Felix knows that Sylvain does love Felix, but not in the way that Felix loves Sylvain. Not in the way that would fix this entire fucked up curse, but he’ll still try. And Felix hadn’t wanted him to know, because Felix knows Sylvain too well; if he can’t fix this—and he can’t—he’ll blame himself, as if he’d poked Felix’s eyes out instead of just… being. Just Existing. Sylvain already has enough guilt about existing, without this on top.
Felix tries to gather himself, breathes calm and patient through his nose before he turns towards Sylvain. “This isn’t your fault. And I know you care about me, but—”
He cuts off because Sylvain leans towards him, a hand on his cheek, and at first he thinks Sylvain is just wiping his tears again, but Sylvain just keeps leaning in and then he is kissing Felix.
For a second, Felix lets it happen, for a second, he lets himself feel Sylvain's mouth, lips soft and pressing insistent against his…
He punches Sylvain in the chest. It's almost a miracle his Crest doesn't activate considering the absolute chaos inside him, screaming to just take what he can and screaming to beat Sylvain's face in and screaming to curl into himself and never unfurl again.
Instead, he says, voice shaking with rage and hurt, "Get. Out."
"Get out!" He snarls, eyes so full of sparkling liquid that Sylvain is just a blessed blur, and that's good because if he could see Sylvain's face right now he would launch himself off of his bed and he really has no idea whether he would kiss Sylvain or try to strangle him.
"Felix," and Sylvain's not out of the room yet but he's backed off, because he knows Felix is volatile when he's upset like this, "what can I do to prove it?"
"Get out, get out—"
"Ok, Fe, if that's what you want.” His tone is faint and defeated, and Felix doesn’t even have time to hiss at him again to get out before he hears the door open and then click shut.
Felix rolls over, pushes his face into his pillow, and for the first time since this goddess forsaken illness had started, he genuinely cries.
Sylvain tries, twice, to talk to him after, but Felix can't handle it. He can't handle his grey hair, his grey eyes, the fear of what will be grey next.
He can't handle that fucking kiss, formed out of pity and still perfect.
He also can't handle how everyone knows, now, because a stunned Sylvain had bumped into Ingrid in the hall after and it had all come spilling out.
The only good thing is that his course of bed rest is lifted and he's finally free to go back to the training grounds—alone, which he manages by both threatening to Thoron anyone who tries to coddle him, and telling a hovering Annette that he'll have to put up with enough fussing when he's fully blind so may he please have a little time to himself?
It's probably the uncharacteristic plea that really does it.
He's heading back to his room from the baths after one blissfully solitary afternoon training session when he hears voices drifting from the courtyard that borders the dining hall. Sylvain, of course, and his steps falter as he hears a soft and feminine voice, before he recognizes Mercedes and realizes he's probably not overhearing a tryst.
Still, his steps slow as he tries to sneak past as quietly as possible—he doesn't want to see Sylvain right now, and of course that only makes it easier to hear what they are saying.
"We're all upset about Felix," Mercedes says, and Felix barely manages not to flinch.
"But it's my fault.” Felix still doesn’t flinch, but he stops in his tracks, eyes squeezing shut. He knew Sylvain would blame himself, as if he had any control over Felix’s feelings—
“Sylvain,” Mercedes begins, ever patient, but Sylvain doesn’t let her comfort or convince him.
“It is. I screwed everything up. He’s still sick because I’m such scum he can’t believe I actually love him.”
“Sylvain,” she says again, softer, kinder, “you aren’t scum.” Sylvain laughs and Felix has never hated a sound more in his life, it’s so wretched and mirthless.
“Sure I am. Fuck. I wish it was someone else, anyone else, someone who deserves it. It would’ve hurt, but I could—I’ve been ready for it, y’know? Expecting some day he was going to meet someone, I’ve been ready for it. And instead it’s me. It’s me, and I can’t even cure him, because I’m such a bastard he can’t believe I’m not lying.”
This is it, this is too much—
Before he even realizes he's moving, Felix is stomping through the gate and into the courtyard; Mercedes and Sylvain are seated on the nearest bench, Sylvain's face in his hands and Mercie's comforting hand on his shoulder. "Get up," Felix says, before Mercie can greet him, and Sylvain jolts and turns to stare up at him. His eyes are wet, all of him awful tones of grey, and Felix's fingers curl. "Come on, getup."
"Felix, I—" Sylvain starts, but he's smart, and his mouth snaps shut with a nod as he stands. He looks miserably at Felix, resigned, as if he's waiting for something. Felix frowns and then—his frown becomes an absolute scowl as he realizes Sylvain is expecting to be hit again. That twists Felix's guts, because of course part of him is sorry for his physical reaction to Sylvain kissing him, but even worse, Sylvain is just standing there waiting to accept a blow…
Felix reaches out and grabs his arm instead and tugs him towards the gate. "You're such an idiot sometimes, Sylvain."
"Yeah," he answers, and that only makes Felix angrier.
"Don't agree with—shut up and just come with me." Felix doesn't let go of his arm even though Sylvain follows, Mercedes entirely forgotten, and it’s for the best that he still has a grip on Sylvain when they both turn in different directions. Felix turns to continue back to his room, while Sylvain turns towards the training grounds, and he makes a noise of surprise when they’re both brought up short. “Where the hell are you going?”
Sylvain blinks at him and jerks his head, “Training ground’s that way.”
“I know where the training—that’s not the point, why are you going—” it hits him that, much like standing there waiting to be punched again, Sylvain is following with the idea that Felix just wants to drag him off to a more convenient location for kicking his ass. If he had eaten anything recently, Felix might vomit at the idea of Sylvain expecting Felix to hurt him, at the idea that Sylvain would just allow it as though he deserves it; instead, he drops Sylvain’s arm to drag hands over his own face, scrubs through his bangs in frustration, before sighing and looking at Sylvain.
He’s just standing there, watching Felix morosely. “Look,” Felix says, “I’m sorry I punched you. What you did was shitty and I just, reacted, but I shouldn’t have hit you.” Sylvain looks like he’s going to protest, and Felix glares at him; it’s difficult, looking at him with all of the colors washed out of him, but Felix knows he won’t get through to Sylvain without looking at him. “Don’t say it’s ok, because it’s not. I never should have hit you." Sylvain blinks at him, drops his gaze, and Felix sighs. "And I’m not dragging you off to, to beat on you or something, we need to talk. But,” his glare drops into something pained, his mouth a grim line, “if I was, you shouldn’t just let me.”
“Just shut up and come back to the dormitory with me, I’m not having this conversation in front of the entire monastery.” And he is tired, already, and not interested in collapsing again and being forced back into bed rest in his last precious sighted days.
“Ok, Felix, whatever you want.” That just reminds Felix of kicking Sylvain out of his room, and he swallows and turns back towards the dormitory and stomps off, Sylvain following. When they get to the stairs, he grudgingly allows Sylvain to offer a shoulder for him to grip as he sweats and pants his way ridiculously up the pathetically short flight of stairs.
“Don’t tattle,” he puffs, “I’m just tired from training.” Sylvain is quiet, just nods, and he doesn’t say anything the whole way to Felix’s room, or when Felix pushes him inside and then closes the door behind them. Felix points at his desk chair before dropping onto the edge of his bed with a weary sigh, absently wiping tears from his streaming eyes.
Sylvain is quiet, his hands clasped together on his thigh, eyes on the floor, and Felix just looks at him for a moment. He lets his eyes trace the line of Sylvain’s nose and his jaw, his mouth, thinks about that kiss.
“Do you think I’m stupid, Sylvain?” Sylvain looks up at him, startled, and Felix glances out of his window. “Honestly. Am I stupid?” Because Sylvain is the smartest person Felix knows, which is why it’s so unfortunate when he decides to be a dumbass, and if anyone would know whether or not Felix is stupid, it’s Sylvain.
“What—no? No, Felix, you aren’t stupid.” Felix turns back to look at him, and he’s watching Felix with a concern that makes his teeth ache. Felix nods, looks at his own fingers, laced together.
“Ok. Then, stop…” he grimaces, brings a hand up to pinch the bridge of his nose. “Stop calling yourself things like, like scum, and saying you don’t—look, I didn’t choose you, because if it was up to me I wouldn’t have any of this nonsense at all, but I’m not stupid, I know what you’re like.” He looks up, can’t quite make it to Sylvain’s face but focuses on the rise and fall of his chest as he breathes, a little fast. “I know you, and I don’t think I’d fall for someone who didn’t deserve it, and that’s not your call anyways.”
Sylvain’s breathing picks up, and Felix barrels on. "And you have to stop blaming yourself and stop—I know you care about me, but just because I'm going blind doesn't mean you have to convince yourself you love me—"
"Oh, come on, Felix,” Sylvain finally breaks through, and when Felix glances up he looks annoyed. “You're an idiot sometimes, too, you know that?"
Felix stares at him for a second, and then scoffs. He can just imagine Sylvain convincing himself the affection he’s carried for Felix since childhood is romantic love, purely because it would save Felix from a hardship. "What, so I'm supposed to believe you thought you loved me before you found out—"
"Yes!" Sylvain doesn’t rise from his seat, but he leans forward, breathing hard now. “Yes, Felix, I did, alright?” Felix’s eyes drop to Sylvain’s fists, curled in frustration, and, “You used to trust me, why can’t you trust me on this?”
And… why can’t he? It would make everything so simple, to just trust that Sylvain is telling him the truth, but Felix just can’t wrap his head around it. He can’t wrap his head around Sylvain loving Felix, not when he has an endless stream of girls and has never looked at Felix that way. Never looked at any man that way, that Felix has seen.
Felix lets out a long breath. “Explain it to me, then. You love me,” he says, and his tone says convince me. “Why. How.”
“Explain—how?” Sylvain’s brow crinkles in bewilderment, and Felix shrugs.
“You’ve never shown interest in men.”
“Not when—” Sylvain stops, drags a hand through his hair. “Not when you were around, maybe, but there have been a few. It just… I don’t notice other guys when you’re around, alright, and don’t look at me like that, it’s the truth.” He looks earnest and pained enough about it that Felix actually believes him, at least about being interested in men. But not noticing other people when Felix is around?
“What about the girls, then?”
Sylvain finally does stand up then, pacing in the small space in front of Felix’s bed, eyes on the floor to avoid slipping on the tears scattered there. “I didn’t think you would ever—” he cuts off with an frustrated huff and another scrub of his hand through his hair, still pacing, his hand waving in time with his words. “My parents are going to marry me off someday, I might as well make the most of the time I have before, and it’s good practice for a loveless relationship.” He sounds resigned, and Felix believes him, because he’s known Sylvain all his life and the Margrave’s expectations for his heir have never been in doubt. He knows how Sylvain feels about marriage, knows the kind of marriage the Margrave and Margravine have.
Sylvain continues, quieter, “And maybe I’d eventually find the miracle girl, someone tolerable that didn’t feel like a nightmare to spend my life with.”
Sylvain stops pacing to look at him, and Felix’s breath catches in his throat: Sylvain’s eyes are honey-brown again, and Felix feels his hands shake in something like terror and something like relief. He turns away, busies himself brushing tears out of his lap and then off of the bed beside him. “Come sit, already, all the pacing is hurting my neck.” Sylvain comes over and perches on the very edge of the cleared bedspread, like he’s ready to jump up the second Felix changes his mind. Felix looks up at him again, finds Sylvain looking down at him and his eyes are so— Felix rips his gaze away and looks back at his lap.
“Ok, fine, that’s how,” he says. “But why?” Sylvain actually laughs, small and surprised, and Felix turns back to look at him, shoulders hunching.
“Felix, are you kidding? You aren’t,” Sylvain says, eyes wide, and then his whole expression goes soft. Felix is expecting something about how he looks, or how he handles a sword, the regular superficial compliments Sylvain gives girls. He isn't expecting a tilt of the head and, “You know, you’re the only one who ever apologizes? I mean, I know what I’m like. You know what I’m like. Most of the time I’m pretty sure I deserve the shit I get, but you’re the only one who ever apologizes for—”
“That’s it? I apologize?” Felix stares at Sylvain, stunned.
“No!” Sylvain says with another laugh, “That’s not it, that’s just part—Fe, come on, do you have a ready answer for why?” Felix thinks about it, and he really doesn’t, can’t distill it down to any one thing, it’s everything, but.
“Give me something better than I apologize.” Sylvain looks at him, eyes roaming his face, and Felix can't help the little shiver from how warm his gaze is, and the little smile curling across his mouth.
“As far back as when we were kids, you’re the only person who ever wanted me.” Felix frowns, and Sylvain shrugs. “My parents didn’t want me, they wanted my crest, just like all the girls I screw around with. Obviously Miklan didn’t want me around. And Ingrid and Dimitri were happy to see me, sure, but I was never the one they were looking for, y’know? They had Glenn for that.” He looks down at his hands in his lap, fingers twisting together. “But you—sometimes it felt like you were the only person who cared that I was alive, like, me, not the Gautier heir.”
“Don’t be stupid, Ingrid and the boar care if you’re alive—”
“Yeah,” Sylvain cuts him off, waving a hand, “but I’ve never thought about kissing them.” Felix glances up at him and oh, his freckles are warm browns against his skin, and Felix shivers because he’s really starting to believe Sylvain. “They never made me promise not to die without them.”
“I didn’t make you promise,” Felix starts, but he runs out of steam because Sylvain smiles, warm and soft, and leans just the smallest bit toward him.
“You didn’t force me, but. Well, I wouldn’t have made that promise to anyone else, and you’re the only one who makes me want to keep it—”
That’s too much for Felix, with Sylvain all warmth in his smile, all warm colors in his eyes and his skin, and Felix turns and tugs him by the lapels to kiss him.
It is nothing like the first time, when Sylvain had pressed firm but gentle and still to him; Sylvain startles at the grip and tug on his jacket, but the second their mouths meet Felix feels a shiver run through him and then Sylvain's pulling Felix in with a hand in his hair like he's desperate for it, and Felix melts into him. His grip on Sylvain's jacket becomes more of a support than a means of control as he clings, pulled into Sylvain's chest by an arm around him, one big warm hand in between his shoulder-blades. Sylvain is the one who finally breaks the kiss, leaning back to start with, "Felix," before Felix follows and nips at Sylvain's bottom lip and earns a truly incredible whine from the back of Sylvain's throat.
Felix lets him lean away, and his hair is beautiful, autumn red—
Felix covers his face, sobs once into his hands, and he would be embarrassed if he wasn't so overwhelmed; he feels foolish, and ecstatic, and—
"Fe, oh, please, hey," Sylvain says, mournful, arms around him, pulling him in and rocking him like he would've when they were children and Felix ran to him upset. "I don't know what else to do, wish you could believe me—"
Felix starts laughing and Sylvain leans to see his face, and Felix can’t help grinning like a fool through his fingers, reaching up to pull Sylvain down for another kiss; it’s a little difficult through his smile, but he manages, and this time Sylvain is the one who chases Felix's mouth.
“I believe you,” he says, when Sylvain finally lets him, and Sylvain smiles wide enough to match his own. His smile only lasts a second, before he goes bewildered, and Felix can feel his eyes welling up even more than they had been for the last months.
“Oh, your eyes—all the, the star is going…”
Felix feels a change in the tears, like a thickness to the liquid pouring down his cheeks, and Sylvain reaches out and catches the crystal as it drips off his jawline. Sylvain holds his palm up for Felix to see, and this tear is the largest yet, not a pea or an Albinean berry; it’s almost the size of a Morfis plum, and instead of swirling glitter it’s filled with huge flakes of shimmering color that change with the shift of light. While Felix stares at it, Sylvain catches the corresponding tear from the opposite cheek, and then…
There’s nothing. Felix blinks, his eyes dry, feeling odd after getting so used to the constant wet welling of tears. He touches his face, damp from constant tear tracks but not wet with actual tears, and a weariness hits him; he drops his forehead to Sylvain’s shoulder with a tired groan.
“Felix? Are you ok?”
He almost snorts at how worried Sylvain sounds, but instead he just presses closer, a little smile curving the corners of his mouth. “Told you I’m just tired, I was training on top of the stupid crying—”
“You should rest, then,” Sylvain says, and Felix does snort, and when he shifts back Sylvain is rolling his eyes. “Right, I know, since when do you listen about resting.”
“I spent two weeks in this very bed—”
“We practically had to force you—”
“Alright,” Felix snaps, “I’ll take a nap.” He untangles himself from Sylvain and starts brushing crystals—the very last of them—out of his lap and off of the bed around them. He looks at his floor, the rug littered with the damn things, and sighs. “I’m too tired to clean all this up right now, anyways. And I guess I should see Manuela, eventually, let her know I’m cured.” The fact hits Felix all over again, sudden and undeniable, and he can feel his face going hot and red all the way to the ears.
“I’ll help you clean in here later,” Sylvain says, smirking as he stands up, a few tears rolling off of his lap, and he takes two steps before Felix makes a dismayed noise.
“You’re leaving?” Sylvain turns to look over his shoulder, an eyebrow raised, and Felix does not squirm in embarrassment at how pathetic he’d sounded, how pathetic he feels. He's not ready for Sylvain to go anywhere yet, feeling suddenly raw and a bit vulnerable, as emotionally drained as he is physically tired.
Sylvain takes another step and stops at Felix's desk, setting the two large, final tears on the wood, before turning fully to face Felix. "You're gonna take a nap, right?"
"That doesn't mean you have to leave," he snaps. It's a moment of bravery that flickers out the second the words are out of his mouth.
Sylvain puts a hand to his chest and mock gasps, “Why, Felix, are you propositioning me?” Felix's earlier blush was nothing compared to the fire he feels in his face now as he shoots to his feet.
“Forget it, get out—” Sylvain laughs and is across the room before Felix can finish, arms around him.
“I’m teasing, Fe, come on. Do you want me to stay and nap with you?” Felix doesn’t look at him, his ears burning, and Sylvain brushes his bangs back from his face and cups his cheek, an arm still snug around his waist. Felix feels stupid, positively foolish—he had just torn into Sylvain without any problem, he had kissed him, so why is it so damn difficult and embarrassing to admit he wants to spend time with him?
Maybe it’s easier when he’s focusing on Sylvain, on how Sylvain feels, instead of his own desires and weaknesses.
“If you want,” he manages, and Sylvain must correctly interpret that as yes please I'd like that very much because he hums and presses a kiss to the top of Felix's head, before releasing Felix with a little nudge towards the bed and a lean to tug at his own boots.
“Alright.” He pauses in taking off his jacket, looks at Felix, sitting frozen on the edge of his bed watching Sylvain, and he smirks again. “Gonna nap in your boots?” He laughs when Felix snaps into action, yanking his boots off and throwing them into a corner before he unceremoniously lifts his blanket and wriggles under it. Sylvain stands next to Felix’s desk, neatly folding his jacket and grinning while Felix scowls.
“Well?” A little of his nervous prickliness melts under the way Sylvain’s grin crinkles the corners of his eyes—he hasn’t seen Sylvain smile so much, really smile, since they were kids running around in the summers in Fraldarius or Fhirdiad. He’s thinking about that when Sylvain comes over and motions for Felix to scoot further onto the bed, make space for him, and it’s almost like being kids again, Felix exhausted after a cry and Sylvain humoring him with a cuddle and a story so he won’t feel as though things are happening without him while he sleeps.
But this is different, too; it’s still comforting when they lie in the bed clearly made to fit one person, face to face and knees bumping together, but it’s a different sort of tenderness when Sylvain brushes his thumb down Felix’s dry cheek. “I never could stand it when you cried,” he says, quiet and half to himself, looking thoughtful and dipping towards sad, and Felix sighs.
“It wasn’t really crying, just… stupid leaking.” Sylvain’s lips quirk, but he isn’t smiling yet.
“Well, it looked like crying.” His fingers brush beneath Felix’s eye, down his cheek, trace the curve of his lip. “And I thought, y’know, it was the first time I couldn’t help you stop. Silly,” he adds in a whisper.
And Felix thinks, it is silly, all of this some tasteless cosmic joke, that all of his life Felix has always sought Sylvain when he cried and Sylvain always managed to fix it. Even this.
So he pushes forward to kiss Sylvain again, softer, threads a hand through his hair, and when he pulls back Sylvain is blinking at him, dazed, even off of something so chaste and subdued. Felix traces a fingertip around the shell of Sylvain’s ear, twists a lock of hair through his fingers, marvels at how warm and comfortable and easy it is to fall into touching Sylvain, how swiftly their casual intimacy born of years of familiarity can become this.
Later, he will have to clean up all these crystal tears; later, he will have to explain he is cured, deal with all of his friends and classmates and their reactions—most likely positive, well-meaning, but still annoying because Felix would rather keep things private; later, he will have to write a letter to his father, explaining he will not be coming home any time soon, and especially not blind, and—Seiros have mercy on Felix—give him some bit of warning in case any of the finer details actually make it back to the Margrave.
But for right now, Felix is curled knee-to-knee with Sylvain, warm and sweet and tipping towards sleepy, and he’s not going to think about any of that. He can practically see Sylvain thinking about all of it, when he’s pressed in so close without wearing one of his fake masks.
“Stop thinking so much,” Felix mutters, and before Sylvain can quip no one ever accused me of thinking too much, he brings his fingers down Sylvain’s cheek in a mirror of Sylvain’s exploring touch, presses his fingers over Sylvain’s mouth. “Go to sleep.” He feels more than sees the smile under his fingertips at his tone, slightly grumpy the more tired he gets.
“You first,” Sylvain says, muffled with Felix’s fingers still pressed over his lips, and Felix snorts, because he’s not a child anymore, and besides he’s too tired to play at competition. He rolls his eyes and pulls his hand from Sylvain’s face, makes a show of closing his eyes, and again he feels more than hears Sylvain’s quiet laugh—the puff of his breath on Felix’s cheek as he wraps an arm over Felix to pull him closer, presses a kiss to the dry course of his tears.
Felix falls asleep to the rise and fall of Sylvain's chest under his palms as he breathes and the thought that when he wakes again, the first thing he sees will be Sylvain.