After the last class was over, many students from all three houses scrambled out of the room. The Black Eagles were not immune to its effect either. Their chatters, their laughter, and their stature brightened. They can finally leave! Then again, not only was it a Friday, but today’s lessons felt as if it dragged on forever.
A lengthy lecture on advanced tactical commands and the importance of teamwork were more than enough to drone anyone to sleep despite Byleth’s best effort. It was a dry topic. Extremely dry. Even Byleth herself wouldn’t want to teach it to her students! She had paused several times during the lesson to stifle a yawn! Alas, she and the other professors had built the core curriculum. She could not avoid her responsibilities.
At least the hard part is over. Now all that was left is to tidy up the shared classroom, gather the worksheets that she ordered the students to leave on the teacher’s desk, and trudge back to her office. From there, Byleth would be able to grade some of their assignments and prepare herself for an eventual staff meeting on tomorrow’s practical exercise on the field with the other professors. That doesn’t even include any students hanging behind that might need elaboration on any concept they have or haven’t learned… or any professors and staffs that need assistance. Not to mention Byleth needs to find a gift for Edelgard since it is her birthday today…
A bead of sweat ran down the side of her face as her shoulders slumped. There was so much to do. Last time she checked, being a mercenary was supposed to be harder than a professor! She was so used to being part of a group and following her father’s orders. Now she has a bunch of children and young adults to guide and pass her knowledge. Had it not been a special power that she possessed, Byleth wouldn’t have had her application as a potential instructor rejected. She would outright be banned from nearing the institution!
Byleth snagged one of the two erasers and proceeded to remove the chalky text on the blackboard. If there was anything that she got out of this experience, it was the fact that she was able to meet with new people.
“How lovely would it be for this moment to last forever.”
The eraser pressing against the blackboard paused mid-sentence. Byleth glanced over her shoulders. Edelgard had a textbook and notebook in one hand, and another hand resting on her hip. One of the three well-known nobles in the academy, she naturally exerts a sense of royalty far above Byleth. Though dignified and talented, it was rare for the noble to drop ambiguous remarks. The older female returned her attention to tidying as she questioned,
“Is there something troubling you, Edelgard?”
Edelgard’s eyes lowered, her breath caught in her throat. There was a pregnant pause. Eventually, she faintly smiled and approached the blue-haired.
“Just thinking about the future, professor.” The student rested her supplies on the desk’s surface. Using both palms of her hands, she somewhat sat on the edge of the wooden furniture as she observed her instructor. “We live in a time of peace. Dimitri, Claude, and I are training to become future leaders for our nation, but we are still young and inexperienced.”
“Inexperienced? Don’t downgrade your skills,” Byleth chuckled. “You’re anything but inexperienced, especially in live combat.”
The white-haired couldn’t resist a grin and brushed stray locks of white hair over her shoulder, her body temperature increased.
“I retract my earlier statement then.”
Although Byleth did not push the conversation further, she was curious about the earlier lamentation from Edelgard. Unlike a certain professor who did not know basic common courtesies in socialization with students, she held her tongue and waited for another response. It paid off as Edelgard’s grin faltered. The young lady redirected her gaze at the older female. She opened her mouth, but nothing delivered. She clamped her jaw shut. Her eyes wandered. Then, Edelgard tried again once her eyes found themselves landing on Byleth again.
“Byleth.” Byleth slowed her motion. It was uncommon for any students to call their professor by their first name. Most students who dared to informally call their professors by their names were playful in nature. For Edelgard, she had only done so when all jokes are off the table. “How long do you think this moment will last?”
“That’s hard to say.”
A single moment can’t last forever for sure unless one had the ability to freeze time. It’s a rather morbid question to ask. No matter the circumstances, there is always a sorrowful answer that accompanies such curiosity. Even Byleth finds it disheartening. A faint hum escaped from the ex-mercenary’s throat. That seems to have perked Edelgard’s ears.
“Edelgard,” Byleth lowered the eraser. She turned around to properly face the noble. As her student pushed herself away from the furniture, the instructor walked up to the shorter female and extended a hand outward. “Would you like to have dinner with me tonight?”
Special treatments were given to certain students. Dorothea and Ferdinand were ones she invites to private tea parties for casual socialization. She too invited Edelgard multiple times for tea. But for dinner? Could it be fashioned the same way as lunch at the cafeteria? The young noble gave a slight tilt of her head.
“Are you joining us for tonight then?”
Byleth shook her head.
“I would like to invite you to have a private dinner with me at my office.”
Private dinner? Now THAT is something Edelgard hasn’t seen before. Wait, could this be something that she’s always fantasized? Her stomach fluttered at the idea. Is this…
Oh GOD, she had just blurted it out. The short female’s knees felt weak at the horror. The reaction? Her instructor had blinked. The noble could not help but catch the outreached hand stiffen. Edelgard had forced every fiber of her being to keep her facial muscles from showing signs of disappointment.
Perhaps her teacher had thought differently. Maybe she should have dismissed the reply and deny it anything more than a jest. Though they had spent plenty of time together, it would be a blunt lie to say that the young adult is not starting to develop an innocent crush towards Byleth. She tried to shoo it away and think of it as nothing more than a nuisance. It only serves as a nuisance the more she resisted instead.
Every single time a male student tried to flirt with Byleth, it evoked irritation in the normally stoic female. Every single time she found herself complimented by Byleth, her body would become still, pupils dilated, and cheeks flushed. Every single time Byleth would enter the room, her conversation with her classmates would trail off and she would lose complete interest in their interactions. Every single time Byleth asked a personal question, Edelgard’s voice unintentionally cracked if taken off guard. Every single time she was alone with Byleth, she would ask subtle questions about her mentor.
When did she start to develop this complicated emotional attachment towards her professor? It couldn’t have been the first time they’ve met. Byleth may have saved Edelgard’s life from a bandit slicing her apart with an axe, but Byleth, to gently put it, was extremely inexperienced when it came to teaching methods. Edelgard and many of her comrades were unimpressed with their new teacher’s instructions—or rather, lack of one. The first month was a complete nightmare. Had it not been for Byleth’s position as a professor, Edelgard would have used her noble status to boot Byleth back to her old mercenary life!
But over time, Edelgard saw how hard of a worker Byleth truly is. She was the only professor to work overtime for her students. She was the only professor that lent a hand with students from other houses. She was the only professor to take excruciating time to plan and make sure every single student comes out alive from the battlefield. Byleth was the only one who took time out of her life to get to truly know her students, especially Edelgard.
She could never forget the time when she wrongfully blamed Byleth for the emotional anguish she received from the empire. It was one of the weakest moments she had ever shown to the public. The young lady stormed out during a private examination. She never came back to complete it. Byleth had every right to snap back at Edelgard. She had every right to punish Edelgard for her misdemeanor. She had every right to expel Edelgard. Instead, Byleth spent the entire WEEK alleviating the noble of her pain. The examination was rescheduled. They also went fishing, shopping, and had a tea party together. Sure, Byleth neglected the other students, but the instructor’s eyes were only on Edelgard.
“I’m always here for you, Edelgard.”
Byleth is the definition of perfection. Thus, that led to the current inner calamity of falling for her professor. It didn’t help that same-sex relationships were uncommon these days. Should word travel that Edelgard likes women, her empire would turn their backs against her in less than a second! That’s an even more depressing thought! Right now, this is simply a hopeless, one-sided feeling Edelgard suffers silently from.
In spite of the noble's angst, Byleth isn’t that oblivious to her students. Having spent time with them for months, she knows them all too well. Thankfully, her reaction was genuine, though more from shock than from disgust. The green-haired decided to reach out and grab Edelgard’s somewhat-moist hand rather than wait around. This action startled the Adrestian Empire noble.
A small smirk from the older female. Soon, she leaned down to plant a kiss on the back of Edelgard’s held hand. A fitting scene between a noble and a commoner.
“If you would like to think of this as a date, I don’t mind. I’m sure we have plenty to talk about over dinner. Besides…” Byleth straightened her posture and squeezed Edelgard’s hand. The formal composure the teacher always wore washed away with her contrasting witty attitude. “You’re turning 18 today, am I right?”
If there’s something Edelgard wants to do, it’s to calmly part from her professor for a minute, walk to the nearest cliff, and holler about how stupid she is. How could she have forgotten her birthday?! Her comrades and rivals showered her with small gifts and warm wishes, but they were all over by the early morning. A party had been held at midnight with the Black Eagles to commemorate another year in her life. The students enjoyed fine cake and desserts throughout the night. Once classes were in session the next morning, she automatically had turned off all thoughts about luxury and leisure associated with her personalized holiday. What she had forgotten was whether Byleth had celebrated the special occasion with her or not.
Her face burned up from Byleth remembering the occasion. Though in all honesty, this would buy her some time to plan and give the gift to Edelgard. No shame in delaying the delivery, right? On the other hand, this would also provide additional insight into Edelgard’s feelings towards her. Though Byleth never went out of her way to formulate any romantic feelings towards her colleagues and students, she never really thought too hard about what the students would think of her. Whether Edelgard’s feelings towards her was nothing more than a young adult’s lust or desire to become a significant pair is up for speculations. She had just turned 18, after all. The dinner tonight should clear up any misconceptions they may hold.
“The day is long, Edelgard,” Byleth finally released her hold on the noble. A weary twinkle shone as she circled her index finger in the air. “School may be over, but I still have much to do. Let’s meet at my office tonight, okay?”
Edelgard began to play with her hair as Byleth gathered her belongings, the temperature beneath her cheeks having spiked.
The plan had been set. Now the two can only wait for tonight—and prayers be sent to Byleth as a glance on the nearby wooden clock alarmed her of an upcoming staff meeting. Smoke trailed right behind her heels as she fumbled out of the classroom and into the hallway. Once the ex-mercenary left the area, Edelgard could not help but cover her mouth and whispered, “She’s so cute” under her breath.
A date. She was actually invited on a date with Byleth! It might just be an excuse to celebrate her birthday, but it’s still a date, right? A private one-on-one dinner with her teacher! What should she wear for the occasion? Her school’s uniform outfit? Or maybe something a bit fancier? There is that red dress she’s always hidden in her closet for an exceptional event. What else should she prepare? Wait—it’s her birthday, so is there really anything for her to prepare? Maybe her usual “thank you” speech she gives to those that wished her well for the new year? No… it has to be special. But she doesn’t have to say or do anything, right? Just show up to Byleth’s office and enjoy each other’s company—Though why the heck did Byleth choose her office?
So many questions swimming around in her head and Edelgard feels as though her skull might crack! From the distant, a small number of her classmates all peered from the hallway and into the classroom. The sight of their upcoming lord clutching her head as though she were frustrated is a sight to behold!
“So, she’s definitely got the hots for the teach, huh,” Ferdinand smirked. “Looks like I got a little competition going on with the professor…”
“Ferdinand! Is that all you got in that thick skull of yours?” Dorothea harshly whispered back. “Just because you’re her rival doesn’t mean you should butt into their budding relationship!”
“Lady Edelgard is… in love with another woman… let alone that of our professor…?” Hubert grasped ahold of his own head, his eyes wide and jaw slacked. “I… don’t know what to say…”
“Aren’t you supposed to be her undying loyal servant to her, Hubert?” Petra raised an eyebrow. “Besides, don’t you think you shouldn’t make it so obvious since it’ll hurt her reputation?”
They mumbled amongst themselves, but they made quick haste from the hallway as soon as Edelgard decided to leave the room. Of course, the upcoming lord’s mind is far too occupied with tonight’s reservation. She’s only got one shot at this and anything short of excellence is a failure to her.
“Let’s hope I make it in time tonight—Wait, the professor didn’t mention what time I should be meeting with her!”
Ugh, maybe she should just head over to the office once the sunsets. If there’s anything she would like to change in Byleth, it’s the fact that Byleth can be disorganized.
Spoiler alert: it was actually Byleth who was late to the untimed dinner date. Not only did she earn a scolding from her superior and father earlier that day in the staff meeting, but she also earned herself an earful from the well-kempt and dressed Edelgard.
[ TIME SKIP ]
Ever since they’ve graduated, many things had happened and Byleth had not seen Edelgard since then. Although it was natural for a teacher to miss her student, it was another matter to miss your significant other. From the day they had a private dinner together during the last hours of Edelgard’s birthday, the once-young noble poured out her feelings for the others. It was less elegant and more like torrential rain. Regardless, Byleth had played along in hopes of helping Edelgard sort through her emotions. It might just be youth chewing at their lust and desire for others.
Time told them otherwise, especially for Byleth. Edelgard’s feelings had grown even stronger, and it even sparked something in the instructor. Not that their relationship was that unknown in the first place with the Black Eagles. Hubert did his best to shield the two from the public, but word travels fast in the house. Almost everyone knew about it! The two were in a fleeting, but also scandalous relationship. Pain have accompanied them and that is evident by the countless headbutts they’ve had against one another. It was almost a daily occurrence that they were so different from each other!
That did not mean it wasn’t also filled with passion and good memories sprinkled in between though. They were experts in battle and filled in the gaps for each other. Outside of the academy’s ground, they held hands and treated each other with great respect. Obviously, they were far more discrete on school ground to prevent unnecessary attention. A quick peck on the cheek and flirtatious phrases sweetly whispered into each other’s ears were exchanged. Then, on rare nights, they showered each other in love. Sometimes, they gently embraced each other. Other times, they ravaged like beasts in heat.
Did they regret it? Absolutely not. Byleth had always reminded Edelgard of her bravery in starting their relationship. If the student hadn’t done so, then they wouldn’t be like they are now. They would have never gotten together. Byleth might have been in a relationship, if any, with someone else other than Edelgard. Edelgard would have been left with a bitter feeling of unrequited crush—or unrequited love towards her professor.
But all good things must come to an end. Graduation came and Edelgard had to return to her empire. It was an already pre-determined decision in part with her nation. Their last interaction was at Byleth’s office. They had their last tea together and reminisce the previous years.
“I will return here someday, my teacher,” Edelgard intertwined her fingers with Byleth’s, her eyes longing for more time. “Promise me that you won’t forget me.”
Byleth leaned in to press her lips against Edelgard’s. The ex-mercenary’s eyes twinkled as she murmured, “I promise. I’ll be waiting for you.”
They eventually saw each other. At the age of 25, Edelgard met with her professor once again.
“How lovely would it be for this moment to last forever.”
Those were the same words Edelgard had spoken of back when she was a student. Now, she said them as a true lord.
She guides her people to victory and easily wage skirmishes without blinking an eye. The confident and proud female shines brighter than ever in the face of conflict. Yet she was not as noble as she originally envisioned. Her nation facing off against her old rivals, Dimitri and Claude, in a bloody war painted their once-pure, pristine goals and accomplishments for a better future into a complex mess. Each one of the three wanted nothing more than to uphold their ideologies. Unlike their young selves who would bicker and eventually fall into a compromise, none dare give up their aggressive persuasions. It’s either do or die. One ideology must dominant others.
Those earlier words were tainted with sorrow and irony towards her professor. Dimitri’s spear tip protruded through Byleth’s chest. Countless arrows from Claude’s precise aim riddled Byleth’s back. A fine axe marked with Edelgard’s crest dug itself into Byleth’s side. Their professor, who had once instructed them in the Officer’s Academy, stood between the three warriors. All three of their expressions twisted in pure horror at the sight of their signature weapons skewering, puncturing, and digging into the very person they’ve respected.
She had dropped her sword. Bloodstains sport her dark academic attire. Broken bones are to be expected from the damages she’s received. Her vision became spotty, blackness threatening to overshadow her consciousness. The pain was unbearable. Yet she stood before her three graduated students. Byleth did not fall. She even reached for the axe and tore it off of her own body! The entire battlefield was blanketed with silence, save it for the low rumbling of the distant thunders from the dark cloud overhead.
A shaky exhale. Crimson red trickled from both corners of her lips as she stumbled forward from her wounds. First, Byleth approached the lord from the Holy Kingdom of Faerghus. Dimitri, with his rugged attire and cruel exterior, reverted to his younger self in the presence of his teacher. His mouth dried as he began to gasp for air. The fearsome mentor that stood against all odds had done so once again. He couldn’t even take a step backward once Byleth closed their distance.
“Dimitri, you must remember to stand by your conviction.”
The now-shorter female out of the three extended her hand. Dimitri nearly slapped it away. It reminded him of the very hand that took his eye away. He managed to resist the temptation as the somewhat warm palm rested on his cheek. Byleth gave a weak smile.
“I always knew… you’ve been a good boy.”
Compliments. Ah—When was the last time he had heard of praises? When he brutally slaughtered his enemies in the name of his ideology? Or was it when he tortured war prisoners who refused to betray their nation? Maybe it was that one time he refused to die when he lost his eye?
Tears began to secrete from his exposed lacrimal gland. Dimitri tried to blink them away. More tears sprouted and were shed. He lowered his head, leaving Byleth’s hand hanging, and felt his chest heave. His knees gave way until his hands pressed against the earthly soil. A loud outcry came from him as he clawed at the grasses.
“Teach--! I—I’m so sorry!”
If she had the energy, Byleth would have bopped him on the head for being such a crybaby. Instead, she whispered, “I forgive you.”
Then, the instructor agonizingly shifted her focus onto the lord of the Leicester Alliance. Unlike Dimitri, Claude had taken a couple of steps backward. He shook his head like a terrified child. His leg muscles had tightened, ready to pounce out of the field. Claude didn’t want to do anything with his old mentor. He didn’t want to face Byleth. That didn’t stop Byleth from coming towards him, of course. She had to pause after the second step, the weight of the pinned weapons affecting her speed and balance. The shadows underneath her eyes darkened as she coughed up blood, its metallic substance dripped down onto the moist patch of grasses.
She raised her head and, surprisingly, cracked a forced grin. She may have not been at close proximity to physically touch Claude, but she left it at that. His constant shaking of the head, his lips pursed from holding back a scream or cry, and white-knuckled grip on his bow… The poor lord looked like he could have a mental breakdown if she got any closer.
“Claude, you must remember to be true to yourself.”
He wasn’t responding much. It was a typical reply from Claude whenever someone hit the mark. Byleth could not help but allow a soft chuckle.
“I’m sure Dimitri… and Edelgard would appreciate your hidden wisdom.”
All he could do was call by her title. Just like Dimitri, Byleth was someone dear to him. Even though she taught for the Black Eagles, she had always been by his side when it matters. She was the only one who saw through him. He squeezed his eyes shut and lowered his head. By this time, droplets of rain began to fall upon the land. The soldiers in the background glanced up at the sky as another thunder rumbled. That didn’t stop Byleth from reaching out to the last of the trio.
This one was the toughest for Byleth. She hardly got a step in before her knees gave in. Edelgard caught her teacher just in the nick of time with a single swoop of her arms. The now-taller female gently flipped her professor upright, laying in her grasp. If Byleth could make her usual witty remark right about now, she would tease about how princely the grown woman became. It was replaced with another cough. The blood continued to leak from her mouth as she struggled to speak.
“You must remember… to allow change to happen.”
A pause. Afterward, she croaked.
“Edel… You’ve grown so much.”
Byleth fought to raise her bruised hand up. The light behind her lens dimmed with a morbid comment.
“Where did you go, Edel?”
Edelgard immediately took ahold of the weak hand and pressed it against her own face. She stifled her cries, the floodgates unable to hold back the tears rolling down her cheeks. The lord nestled on the growing cold part of her professor.
“I’m right here, Byleth.”
Her instructor blinked. She lost the ability to search for her alumni. The darkness shrouded her vision, the gods granting her the ability to partially hear and feel in her final moment. Then, the corner of her lips pulled upward.
“You came back.”
Edelgard bit the bottom of her lip. She knew what her teacher would say next. If anything, the best thing she can do is simply mourn. The young woman buried her face into Byleth’s uninjured shoulder and sobbed. As seconds ticked by, the other two lords knew that her time was expiring. Their tears shared the same reason as their old rival’s. Dimitri tore a chunk of grass from the soil as another strangled outcry came from his direction. Claude smacked his knuckles against his own forehead, concealing one eye as he whimpered. Byleth blinked one last time and exhaled.
“I… have always loved you. Please… don’t fight anymore, Edel.”
Whether her students followed through with her advice is up for debate. However, Byleth knew for sure that she accomplished her job as a teacher. If anything, she’s taught them all she could, especially to the very person she loves, Edelgard. In the background, Sothis watched the entire scene unfold. She shook her head and turned her back towards the four warriors.
“You chose not to reverse time, didn’t you, Byleth? I wonder if that’s for the best…”