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make a monster out of us

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Felix Hugo Fraldarius was never one to confuse and mix his emotions with what is rational in the moment. There was never a choice he made that was in direct response to his feelings, no matter how impulsive he may be.

So why did he let it this time?

“Sir, may we ask where you are headed?”

Felix slows his horse as he holds the bundle in his arms tightly. He pulls the hood of his brown cloak further over his face. He hasn’t stopped, but the two knights are still following behind him. Felix looks down at the sleeping child in his arms just as one of the knights come to his side.

“Is that your child sir?”

“Do you bother all of the citizens carrying their child?” Felix snaps in return. His hand tightens on the reins of his horse, itching for his sword. He can’t pull it out now without dropping the child.

“By no means do we mean to cause you harassment however given that the princess of Fodlan has been kidnapped, we must check all who enter and leave the areas of the Kingdom.”

Felix takes a deep breath, stopping and carefully unmounting his horse. Then he pulls the cloak from off his head,

“You’re--!”

One of the knights immediately moves with his lance pointed but Felix’s reflexes moves him out of the way in time.

“I am carrying the King’s daughter so you better watch where you swing that lance. I am sure he would want his child back alive.” Felix sneers.

The knight ignores him, holding his lance back at his side, “Duke Fraldarius. By the King’s orders I am to bring you both back alive.”

Felix scoffs, grabbing his teal cloak from over his bag and placing it on the ground for the child to lay on. Ensuring the child is safe, Felix grabs his sword, the itch in his hands feeling soothed immediately.

“That boar doesn’t own me. He lost his right to me long ago.” He states before moving at the knight. It doesn’t take long to disarm the knight, his lance flying across the path. It takes even less time for his sword to drive through the man’s armor and push him to the ground.

The second knight immediately turns on his horse, taking off towards the Kingdom. This elicits another scoff from Felix as he holds his hand out, readying a Thoron spell. Impatient, Felix shoots him down, watching the knight instantly become ash.

“What are the King’s knights if they run away?”

He is pulled from his thoughts when he hears a cry and moves quickly to the child. He picks her up, trying to soothe her as he looks around.  

Death. He needs to stage their death, or at least something that would imply it.

He glances briefly at the pool of blood the knight lay in before grabbing his bag from the horse’s back. He pulls out a small shirt belonging to the child before zipping it back up and placing the child on top.

He quickly grabs his cloak from the ground and moves to the knight, smearing as much blood on his cloak as possible while else making deliberate blood stains in the baby’s shirt. After doing that Felix glances near to river they are next to and stomps his boots into the blood before walking all the way to the edge of the lake.

Good, it would at least look like he had jumped with the child.

Bending down, he quickly dumps the bottoms of his boots into the water to wash off the blood before making his way back to the child and horse.

As he gathers the child back into his arms and gets back on the horse, Felix takes a look at the scene he’s left.

This was it. The deed was done. He had taken Dimitri’s child and never looked back.

No, he did look back once only for a moment. When he took off from the Fhirdiad Palace, he had glanced up at the balcony when he heard a loud cry: The queen. She was screaming, bent down with tears as Dimitri stood beside her trying to ease her crying and panic. Felix almost turned around; he almost went back. He was wrong and he knew it.

But in his moment of hesitation, Dimitri’s eye out turned towards him and Felix felt everything else turn to fire. All of the world’s burden and anger came through Dimitri’s eyes and all of the bitterness and anguish thrummed through Felix’s veins.

Dimitri had looked upon him in anger before. He had looked at him as if he were a ghost. Even merely a walking corpse sometimes. All of this was only during the war. Never before and never after.

But this look of hurt was something new to Felix. Something he did not and could not face.

This has to be done. He had thought as he urged his horse faster out of the palace.

Now, having been on the run for a few days, the reality of his actions have sunken in and the consequences of his actions are clear.

He took a child and that child is now his sole responsibility.

“Welcome sir, how can I help you?” A women smiles as he enters. It’s a small inn located in the middle of a quiet town right between Blaiddyd and Fraldarius.

“I need a place to stay.”

“Of course, how long do you need to stay?”

“One night.”

“Lovely. Let me get the room prepared for you.” The women nods. Felix moves to stand against the wall, facing the door to watch who comes in.

“Oh what a lovely baby you have there! She looks precious!” A random woman comes up to his side. Reflexively, Felix moves back from her, holding the child away cautiously. The women doesn’t seem to notice this, too enamored by the child.

“What is her name?”

Felix frowns and eyes the woman, “Why do you need to know that?”

Oblivious to Felix’s glaring she continues, “Oh… have you not named her, yet? She does look like a newborn. Is the mother not near?”

Felix takes a deep breath and ignores his hand itching for a sword again. The woman is harmless and none of the people in this small town would be aware of Dimitri’s missing daughter. At least not of yet.

“My wife died while giving birth.” The lie comes out, he peers down at the girl in his arms and feels guilt build back up in his chest as little hands come up grabbing the air.

“That’s… unfortunate. For a child to never meet or get a chance to remember their mother. There are children who live with that missing piece of their heart.” The woman sighs.

Felix frowns as he thinks of his own mother. He doesn’t recall anything about his mother at all and his father and Glenn never spoke of her really. The only thing he was ever told was that she died shortly after he was born. Dimitri’s birth mother also died when Dimitri was very young to the plague that came over Faerghus. Felix assumes that same plague took his mother with it.

“Isabelle.” He says suddenly, looking down at the baby. Isabelle Celia Fraldarius. His mother’s name which would now be this child’s name.

He feels something eat at his gut again when thinks of how Dimitri had not even the chance to give their daughter a name.

“Isabelle? What a beautiful name!” The woman pauses when a voice calls out for her across the room, “Well, I wish you both the best. Please stay well.”

Felix nods at the woman before training his eyes back to the child. “Isabelle, huh? Do you like that name?” He mutters. She makes a few babbling sounds before giggling in laughter. Felix cannot help the small smile that crosses his face, “We are in agreement then.”

“Sir, your room is ready.”

________________________________________________________________________________________

 

By the time Isabelle turns eight, Felix has settled them within a small village in the old Alliance territory. It’s very open, knights passing through often, but still perfect to keep Felix and Isabelle hidden. No one would suspect such an open village to be keeping the King’s daughter and the Duke within its space.

Isabelle typically plays freely with other children of the village while Felix either helps the villages with anything they need fixed or he works in the marketplace preparing food.

“Oh~ You’re here early this morning, Felix.” He glances up from his task of planting vegetables to look up at the head of the village: Erza.

“Isabelle woke me up and demanded I let her play outside.” Felix shakes his head.

“And you couldn’t tell her no?” Erza looks at him in amusement as she chuckles.

“She is very stubborn.”

“Well she is her father’s daughter, after all.” Felix bristles at her words for a moment, trying not to look affected by her words. It has been eight years since he ran away with Isabelle. He shouldn’t get so worked up this easily.

“Am I really that stubborn to you?”

“Oh like you wouldn’t believe.”

“Father!” Felix turns around to find Isabelle running up to him looking as though she would burst into tears.

“What happened?” Felix asks as he bends to the ground to be at her height.

“He took my toy sword…” Isabelle sniffles and points over to where a group of children are playing, “said girls can’t hold swords.”

Felix is about to stand before Erza places a hand on his shoulder and nods before walking off towards the young boy, swinging around the wooden toy sword that Felix had bought Isabelle.

He is about to speak to her, tell her that the boy was wrong, but stops. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees a group of knights crossing by the village and he freezes. He stands, looking over at the road in mild horror.

They’ve been found.

“Father, is something wrong?” Isabelle asks from his side. Felix squeezes her hand protectively before looking at her. Her gold eyes peer at him in concern and fear; she looks on the verge of tears even more, wondering what’s bothering him. She must be able to feel his hand shaking.

Felix glances back at the knights who have stopped their movement before speaking to Isabelle, “Listen to me very closely. I want you to go in and grab the bag that is underneath your bed.”

“The blue one?”

“Yes. Don’t take anything out of it but you can add some of your favorite things.”

Felix sees Isabelle glance past his shoulder before looking back at him, “Are we in trouble?”

“It’s nothing I can’t handle. I’ll be in there in a moment. Now go.” Isabelle looks like she is about to retort but when Felix hears footsteps behind him, she yelps before turning on her feet and running to their house.

“Why are you here?” Felix sighs as he stands back up and turns around, glaring at the man in front of him, “Sylvain.”

“You kidnapped Dimitri’s daughter and you’re asking me that?” Sylvain laughs but the bitter tone behind it is clear, “Come on now, Felix. What the hell are you doing?”

“You didn’t answer my question.”

“I suggest you answer mine first. You don’t get the right to speak.”

“Sylvain—”

“Of all things. To... No matter what happened between you and Dimitri, you didn’t have to do this, Felix.”

“It has been eight years, Sylvain. I’m not thinking about the past. What’s done is done.”

Sylvain sighs and in that moment, Felix can really see his age and the stress that must have worn him down.

“Why didn’t you let me help you before you did all of this?” Sylvain says quietly, looking at Felix with pleading and tired eyes, “Eight years. That’s how long I’ve been looking for you. That Dimitri has been looking for you.”

“Should I feel bad or something? My eight years have been fine without either of you.” Felix states. It’s not entirely true. Felix knew from the moment he killed those knights that he would have to suffer for the sin he committed. He took a child from its mother and father. He knows he can never truly atone for that act, but the best he can do is raise Isabelle the best way he can. He has to. Isabelle is-

“Fine eight years raising someone else’s child?”

Felix swallows the lump in his throat but doesn’t respond.

“That girl I saw you speaking to. Is that Dimitri’s?”

“I don’t know who you’re referring to.” Felix growls. His sword is in his home while Sylvain stands with his lance of ruin ready for attack. He couldn’t use his magic standing in the middle of a village with civilians around either. There would be no getting out of this easily.

“Did you know that the Queen died not long after you took her daughter?” Sylvain suddenly states.

“What?”

“She went into a depression and fell ill not too long later. We could have saved her but she did not want to continue living knowing her daughter was potentially dead. Dimitri had to make the decision to let her die.”

Felix shakes his head as another wave of gut blowing guilt comes over him. He takes a silent deep breath as he stands his ground. “You mean that he killed her.”

“What, no—That’s not what I said.”

“You don’t even know the full story. Whatever. It is unfortunate for the Queen that she passed. I send my sincere condolences.” Felix says slowly as he glares back at Sylvain, “But I refuse to go back to that boar and act as a replacement for his wife and I refuse to give up that child.”

“Felix, you’re saying things that could dig you in an even deeper hole.” Sylvain says just as carefully. Felix can see Sylvain’s hand twitch around his lance, “Come back to Fhirdiad and turn yourself in. Just say you… got mad and took Amber Egitte Blaiddyd without meaning harm. Dimitri is king, so you know he won’t punish you horribly.”

“Going back within his reach would be worse than the sin I’ve committed!” Felix snaps loudly. He takes a deep breath, remembering where he is as more of the villagers stop to glance their way. “I’m not going back.”

“Yes you are.”

“What’s going on here?” Felix turns to see Erza moving to stand next to Felix, her arms crossed with a glare at Sylvain.

“Apologies miss,” Sylvain eyes briefly leave Felix’s so that he can bow, “I am here on request of the King. This man here is someone we have been trying to track down for years, so—”

“So you storm into my village wreaking havoc and scaring my civilians?” Erza interrupts.

“I don’t mean to scare anyone and I am immensely sorry if I have. However I need this man and the child he is with to come back with me.”

Erza’s hands shoots out to Felix’s arm for a moment before she directly places herself between the two of them, “On what grounds do you have to take a person and their child out from my village? Do the King and Queen think they can just handle people like dolls?”

Yes, Felix wants to answer but stays silent.

“I’ll go back with him.” The statement surprised both Erza and Sylvain. Felix crosses his arms as he glances towards Erza. She peers back at him with confusion before it registers and she quickly fixes her expression with a nod,

“Are you positive?”

“Yes.”

“Then you know you cannot leave the village until we have discussed your removal.” Erza states, glaring at Sylvain again, “Let me speak to him as he gathers his things.”

Sylvain looks like he wants to argue but holds back, settling with a nod as he takes a few steps back. Erza turns to walk away but Felix doesn’t move for a moment, instead speaking loud and clear,

“Her name is Isabelle Celia Fraldarius, if you must know the child’s name.” Sylvain just scoffs in shock at him as Felix turns away walks to his home. On his way there, he can feel Sylvain’s stare burning into his back.

As he enters, he can see Erza moving around quickly, “Erza—”

“While you were talking, I placed a basket of food, water, and some of your clothing in a bag and prepared it along with your horse in the back. I also made sure your swords were packed on top for easy reach.”

Felix stares at her with slightly wide eyes, unsure of what exactly she’s doing. Is she really going help him escape?

“You… This could incriminate you.”

“I know.” Erza looks at him in both disapproval and sympathy, “When you first came here with Isabelle, I knew when I laid eyes on that child that it was His Majesty’s.”

“If you knew, why did you let us stay here?”

“Because as you held Isabelle and took care of her, I knew she was in good hands. I didn’t feel like you would cause her any harm. You may be rough in personality but the love and care you’ve raised Isabelle with shines through intensely. From the moment Isabelle began taking her first steps, she became the life of our village. I couldn’t bring myself to separate her from you.”

“Even though I took a child from their biological parents?”

“Felix, did I ever tell you that I was a mage for the empire back when the war was going on?”

“I don’t think so, but what does that have to do with anything?”

“I know that there is more to this story than just the duke of Fodlan kidnapping the crowned Princess. As a mage for the Empire, I saw various horrors bought upon people with the use of magic. We were close to the Agarthans after all. Those Agarthans… they even created fake humans to pose for them and do their dirty work.” Erza scoffed in disgust. Felix though could slowly feel the blood drain from his system.

“Isabelle is yours, Felix. That I know clear as day.”

“You’re wrong.”

“Am I? The queen who died… the remaining Agarthans that are alive created her. When the queen was introduced, seeing her face, I could just tell.”

“Stop saying things that could get you killed.” Felix tries to stop her. He knows the truth. He knows it all. But he doesn’t need it repeated to him.

“Why? Should the world not know the truth? Should you keep feeling guilty for something that likely hurt you rather than her? That the Agarthans planned to use your blood and the King’s to incite a coup and overthrow the Kingdom just like they planned with Edelgard von Hresvelg. Placing another innocent girl’s life in danger for their fulfillment. You’re in denial because of what—”

“I kidnapped Isabelle. That is the story.”

“No… You took your child and ran away out of fear for your life and Isabelle’s and dare I say it, the King’s life too. If you keep lying to yourself, you are going to drive yourself mad. Now leave. There is a village north from here that both Almyran and Duscurian families escape to. When you get there, call for the head of the village and mention my name. She will let you live there for the time being.”

Felix watches as Erza grabs what Felix can tell is a sword wrapped in cobalt blue leather. She pushes it into his hands, “In the meantime take this with you. For Isabelle. In the coming years, she may need it. The Agarthans will not let go of Isabelle that easily.”

Felix opens and closes his mouth, not sure what else there is to say. Soon a pair of feet come running across the room, “Father!”

“Go now, Felix. I will hold the knights off briefly.”

“Thank you.” Felix states before picking Isabelle up. Before he can move, Erza stops him again with her words,

“That ‘guilt’ that you are feeling isn’t true guilt. That is anger and sadness. The only guilt you feel is leaving your King behind and letting him down. Remember that.”

A knock at the door takes him out of his trance as he gives another nod to Erza and turns to leave out of the back door, holding Isabelle tightly. When he gets them both situated safely, he takes off on the path right in front of the knights, who don’t notice him and are watching Sylvain speaking to Erza.

“Father, will we ever see Erza again?”

Felix looks down at Isabelle as she peers up at him with familiar gold eyes. Her hair is poking out messily from her hood and by instinct, he brushes her blonde hair back and pulls the hood further over her head.

“I think we will. I owe her quite a lot it would seem.”

“Where are we going?”

“A safe place…” Felix trails off before a thought comes to mind, “Isabelle, how do you feel about learning to fight with a real sword.”

Isabelle jumps up in excitement and Felix shoots out a hand to keep her stable as she looks at him in complete fascination.

She truly does remind him of himself sometimes.

“I want to fight just like you, father!”

“Right. Well, you still have a lot to learn.”

 

________________________________________________________________________________________

 

“So this is the village…” Dimitri sighs as he looks around. In such a small village, Felix and his daughter had been leaving here right under their nose. With as many knights that walked through here, the fact Felix remained unnoticed was incredible.

“Your majesty, the village head requests to speak with you.”

“Requests? How does she know I am here already?” Dimitri blinks at his knight in surprise. That is until a flash of red crosses his eyes and turns to look at what must the Erza that Sylvain had mentioned:

“She was crazy intimidating, Dimitri. She looks like walking fire. Everything about her even fits her name: Erza. I’m almost positive she’s fought in a war.”

Well, for once Sylvain wasn’t wrong about a woman.

“Nothing gets by me and my village,” Erza smirks at before bowing deeply in respect, “I take it I am to be arrested? Before you do, I implore you hear my case first.”

“I… won’t be arresting you,” Dimitri had considered it. She essentially aided in holding his child and allowed Felix to escape. Helped him even. But he knows he can’t draw Felix back if he takes Erza away. It would just make Felix keep running. “However, I do wish to speak privately with you. At the place Felix stayed.”

“Of course, your Majesty.”

Dimitri had gotten to the village a mere four days after Sylvain’s return. He would have expected most of Felix’s things to be gone, but it looked plenty lived in. As Dimitri looks around, he can tell his daughter made herself plenty at home too. Dimitri almost felt bad to be essentially pushing them from here, but Felix did run off with her. Dimitri wasn’t going to stop looking for them, so Felix was going to have to either run all of his life or face Dimitri.

“Chamomile?” Erza places a cup of tea down on the table.

“I appreciate the tea, thank you.” Dimitri clear his throat as lifts the cup to his lips.

“That’s Isabelle’s favorite tea.” Dimitri coughs after this, but Erza seems to willingly ignore him as she continues, “She also like Almyran pine needle too but I think she only does because her father drinks it so much.”

“Is… Isabelle your child?” Dimitri asks but he knows the answer already.

“Such a crazy question. Me ever having kids?” Erza laughs loudly, “That’s a good one. But… No. Isabelle Celia Fraldarius is Felix’s daughter. Though I suppose she feels like a step-daughter to me. I watched her grow up. Saw her first steps, the first time she said ‘father’, oh and the first time she activated one of her crests and broke the leg of a chair. Gosh, Felix was such a worry bug that day. Afraid she had hurt herself with the chair but the funny girl was just laughing her heart out. Isabelle is truly a brave little thing with a big heart.”

Dimitri wasn’t sure what all he was feeling. He just felt his body tense and he had to put down his tea before he broke the cup from holding it.

He speaks slowly and calmly with a dark glare. Normally this intimidates people but Erza just looks at him impassively as she sips more of her own tea.

“You realize you were homing a man who kidnapped my child, right? Then you willingly set up an escape for him.”

“Oh quit the shit, will you?” Erza suddenly states with a cold look in her eyes as she slams the cup down, “That girl is as much Felix’s as she is yours and you know it. You both keep being in denial of what that woman has done.”

“I would like to press again that I am the one in a position of power. It would be in your best interest if you watch the way you speak to me.”

“So you don’t deny that the little girl is Felix’s?”

“I am not here to play frivolous games.”

“And I don’t run a village full of families trying to stay alive for fun either, Your Majesty. Isabelle loves her father and yet you refuse to give him even that despite everything else that horrid woman took from him.”

“You—”

“Tell me, Your Majesty.” Erza stands and begins busying her hands with tidying the couch she was on, “Why did it take you so long to find them? During the war, you hid away for five years where no one could find you and then you reclaimed a nation in a single year. Yet you couldn’t find the Duke and your daughter living in a village out in the open? If Felix were Edelgard… would you have been successful?”

“How dare you…” He growls.

“You could call your men to arrest me now. Better yet, you could do that all on your own but you aren’t because you know I am telling the truth.”

“How do you know of my time in the war? Who are you?”

Erza smirks before picking up their tea from the table, “I am the reason you could find out the truth. The reason you could get rid of your fake queen and keep those two alive. If not for them leaving the palace eight years ago, Felix and Isabelle would have been dead and used by that vile woman.”

“The night before Felix left, I was given a report that someone had met the guard under the pretenses of being my uncle, Rufus. However… he has long been dead since the war.”

“Hm.”

“You’re an Agarthan, aren’t you?”

“I am the child of one. And the child of three parents. Like Isabelle.”

 

________________________________________________________________________________________

Eight Years Later -

 

“Bella you have to come with us!”

“You’re the only way we can get into the festival! Please…”

“Hmph. If you want to go to Fhirdiad and cause trouble at the King’s festival, please do it yourselves.” Isabelle sighs as she practices her swings in the air.

“There will be a sword tournament. I hear the winner gets awarded a sword by Zoltan from the King himself!”

Yeah, like her father would allow her to do that of all things. The idea of winning against the Kingdom’s own knights sounds fascinating though.

“No. Go ask someone else. I’m trying to train…” Isabelle stops to put her hair up in a ponytail, frowning at her pouting friends.

She ignores them for a while longer until her strikes quickly become distracted and she makes her way home, ‘’I’ll think about it only if you two stop pestering me.”

“Deal.”

“But you have to actually think about it, Bella!”

Isabelle watches as her friends take off to their own homes as she steps inside. She places her wooden sword near the door before making her way to the kitchen, stopping when she notices her father there already preparing food.

“It stinks.”

“I could starve you.” Felix jokes back. If anyone else who didn’t know him heard Felix’s jokes, they’d think he was dead serious.

“You love me too much to do that.”

“Unfortunately.” He smiles at her as Isabelle grins from the cup of water she’s made herself. She watches him silently for a moment, taking note of how pale he looks.

“Father, have you been taking the medicine the healer gave you?”

“Yes.”

“You’re a really horrible liar, you know that?”

“I am fine, Isabelle.” Felix frowns at her as he sits a bowl on the table, essentially making the conversation mute, “Eat your food.”

Deciding not to upset him, she sits down and begins eating her food as her father makes his own bowl and sits down across from her. She watches closely as he takes small bites, not looking necessarily happy with the meal he cooked. He looks like he hates his food.

She glances over towards the trash bin where she can see a white towel with the obvious signs of blood being spit into it.

Felix was sick again. And it was likely because he stopped taking his medicine daily like he’s supposed to. If only he’d just go to the market near Fhirdiad where he could get adequate help but no. Felix made it very clear to her that he isn’t going near there. He never said it explicitly, but Isabelle knows that’s a rule for her too, if not evident by her next attempt.

“My seventeenth birthday is coming up and I want to do something different.” She states. Felix acknowledges her words with a hum but continues eating.

“Me, Eva, and Victor were thinking of attending a festival. They are having a sword competition there as well.”

“Where?”

“…Fhirdiad.”

Her father’s glare is intense when looks up at her. Without even saying it, that is a clear no.

“I’ll be with friends, father! I won’t even be noticed!”

“You’re going to take part in a competition and think you won’t get noticed? In Fhirdiad of all places. I know exactly what festival you’re talking about and it’s a no, Isabelle.”

“Oh come on. The king won’t even be there… well, okay he will.” That earns a small growl, “but like… I’ll lose on purpose just to not meet him.”

“That doesn’t even make sense.”

“Father why are you so adamant on us not going to Fhirdiad?! Hasn’t it been sixteen years? No one is looking for us anymore. We aren’t being chased anymore.”

“If it were Enbarr, I would permit you to leave there. But any place in the Kingdom’s old territory is off limits.”

“Aren’t you tired of this, Father? You told me before that Faerghus was our home. When will we stop running and reclaim what is ours? Reclaim Fraldarius? You’re already suffering because the medicine you have, when you actually take it, hardly does anything but stop you from puking blood every hour. This is stupid, hiding away—” Isabelle stops herself. She knows she’s said too much but it was bound to leave her lips anyway.

“I’ve made myself clear.” Felix coldly replies as he stands, leaving his bowl of food sitting on the table. She watches him walk off before reaching over to look at his bowl. He hardly made a dent in it.

“I’m not going to let you kill yourself, Father.” She whispers, glaring back where she last saw Felix with determination in her eyes.

 

________________________________________________________________________________________

 

“Bella?” Eva says her name very carefully, as if worried of startling someone.

“Hm?” Isabelle looks innocently at her friend, braiding her hair before twisting it into a bun.

“Does… Does Felix know you’re here with us?”

“Nope.”

“Your father is going to kill all three of us when we return, isn’t he?” Victor groans.

“Probably. You’ll be the first if anything happens to us. You’re the man here.” Isabelle grins at him as he balks at her.

“Hold on, you’re stronger than me! You’d be doing the protecting if anything—You know what? Let’s go back. I don’t want to die. My gravestone will be hidden away in the dark somewhere. I have too much life left—”

“Oh quit being a drama queen, Victor.” Isabelle laughs.

“We are almost to Fhirdiad anyway, We may as well get this over with,” Eva states with a nervous smile, “Though I am scared of what your father will do to us when we return.”

“You better win this tournament. Make it worth our death.”

“Did you two forget that you both asked me to come here first?” Isabelle shakes her head in disbelief as she runs a hand through the mane of her horse. Well… Felix’s horse to be exact.

“Besides… I am winning this tournament. That sword will be mine.” And the King will see me.

 

________________________________________________________________________________________

Isabelle wins the tournament.

It comes as no surprise to her. The tournament attendees were very little challenge as well though it was funny that some of them were selected to eventually serve the King’s army.

It was kind of pathetic.

She just wants to get to the king. She expected to win and the king would instantly come out to give the award. Not for her to spend so much time get congratulated by nosy strangers inquiring who she was and where she came from.

“Oh, the King is there.” Isabelle turns towards the voice to see a young man point upward. Following their pointing, Isabelle looks up from where she stands to peer at the unmistakable presence of the King. His eyes seem to cut across the crowd, as if looking for someone specifically.

“Did you know… The Princess of Fodlan was kidnapped by the Duke of Fodlan from that very spot. They even engraved it into the ground  where the duke and his king last eyed one another.” She hears more whispers. Isabelle takes a moment to look at the ground. Right beneath her feet she notices the pavement where she stands is painted much darker than the ground around her.

“I heard the king ordered that part of the ground be painted onto. Some say he comes out to look at that very spot every night.”

“Why don’t people mind their business instead of trying to discuss other’s?” Isabelle mutters to herself before suddenly she feels a shiver run own her spine and eyes on her. Instantly she looks in the direction her instinct tells her to, right back to the balcony, and finds piecing blue eyes staring straight at her.

“Hey, Isabelle! I think we should head back. I know you wanted to see the king but if he takes too long…” Eva comes to her side, Victor right behind her.

“She’s right. Your father will be angry.”

“Bella?”

Isabelle removes her eyes from the King’s as she shakes herself from a trance, looking into the eyes of her concerned friends.

“Just a while longer.”

“Bella we have to—”

“Excuse me.” The three of them turn around as guard bows slightly, “The King has requested the presence of the competition winner.”

“Has he now?” Isabelle smiles brightly, glancing at her friends, “Will they be allowed to come in with me? They are my ride home and we like to stick together.”

“They may stay in the waiting hall but they cannot enter the King’s office.”

“That’s fine.” Isabella states before walking in the direction of the entrance to the palace, her friends and the guard quickly following along.

 

________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Dimitri had no interest in the festival. It was something that happened every four years and never ceased to tire him out though he felt bad for admitting that.

The only time he participated was during the sword competition. He figures that if Felix were ever to come back or try to get into the palace, surely the festival would have been that opportunity.

But after he waited for that moment every four years for the last sixteen years, he’d given up on trying to seek out Felix this way.

He almost wanted to call off his appearance this time until he heard his guards speaking. They were watching the competition while they guarded the balcony, not knowing their King was listening.

“Did she just use a crest?!”

“But that one was different from the last time she activated it. Am I crazy?”

“Yeah, that time was definitely different. Is it even possible for a person to have more than one crest?”

“I have heard of it occurring in an experiment but the only two pieces of proof we have are… dead.”

“Huh. Well, I wish we could see the shape of the crest from here. Maybe that would give us our answer.”

Dimitri could have ignored that if it weren’t for the one blaring statement he recalls Erza telling him.

“I watched her grow up. Saw her first steps, the first time she said ‘father’, oh and the first time she activated one of her crests and broke the leg of a chair”.

Instantly, Dimitri shoots up from his seat to open the door to the balcony, startling the two guards into bowing. Dimitri moves look over the balcony as he peers down at the people. The tournament had just ended and he could see the host holding up the arm of a young woman with blond hair.

Could that actually be…?

“That winner of the tournament.” He turns towards his guards, “I would like to speak with her in my office.”

“Do you not wish to go down there as planned?”

“No. I will be need to speak with the winner privately. Be sure she comes at all cost. Do whatever she requests so long as it isn’t too out of line.”

“Yes, Your Majesty!”

Dimitri looks back over the crowd as he tries to look for any signs of Felix being there. He couldn’t have possibly allowed Isabelle to be in Fhirdiad alone, could he?

Or what if she isn’t Isabelle? He only saw that her hair was blonde and that wasn’t proof enough. There were plenty of people with blonde hair.

The young woman is moving around, obviously trying to avoid conversation, but with so many people it’s inevitable. Soon enough she stops right on top of the darkened tile of ground. The tile he specifically ordered be painted over.

Suddenly, the young women looks up and in that moment he sees Felix’s eyes staring back at him.

“I finally found you.” He whispers. There was no doubting who those eyes belonged to.

When he sees that one of his guards finally makes it to her, he turns away and enters his office, closing the balcony door as he wills himself to calm down. He can feel anger and happiness all in one. Anger that it had to take this long but happiness that at least he found her. He was a bit concerned that Felix didn’t seem to be around. He highly doubts Felix would have risked her coming here if he spent sixteen years trying to flee from Fhirdiad in the first place.

“Your Majesty, we have bought the winner. Two friends of her are in the waiting hall.” A guard states.

Dimitri fights to stay seated as the young woman walks in, carrying all of the confidence of the world. She looks exactly as Felix does after every competition when he wins.

“Thank you for bringing her here. You may leave.” Dimitri dismisses the guards. Isabelle takes to seating herself at the at the small table at the middle of his office. She folds one leg over the other as she crosses her arms at her chest.

Those were definitely Felix’s mannerisms.

“Have… your parents ever taught you how to sit in the presence of authority?” He finds himself asking, careful not to allude to too much at one time.

“Am I too un-lady like for you?” She quips with a mischievous smirk, “My father raised me very well, thank you.”

“Your father? I take it he is the one who taught you how to carry a sword. You really managed to take out all of my knights in-training.”

Isabelle smiles widely at him before standing and walking right up to his desk,

“I am not one for patience so I will cut to the chase, Your Majesty. The name is Isabelle Celia Fraldarius, daughter of Duke Felix Hugo Fraldarius,” She covers her mouth in a fake yawn to smile behind her hand, “But I suppose you would know all about that. Am I right… father?