Actions

Work Header

Sense of Taste

Chapter Text

Although ambitions for knighthood usually had her rising with the sun, this particular morning Ingrid found herself sleeping in. The night before she and her fellow student, Ashe, had scoured Garreg Mach Monastery’s library trying to find records about renowned knights, famed rulers, fairytales or something in which the hero was Beta but it'd come to naught. Everything they’d found was in line with the grand legends. Like the chivalrous pinnacle of Loog, the Omega King, and Kyphon, his devoted Alpha champion. The stories were always the same– Omegas and Alphas, Alphas and Omegas –never a mention of a loyal and chivalrous Beta to be found in these grand tales of knighthood.

It’d was quite the disheartening discovery. Ever the optimist, Ashe had insisted that if their predecessors wouldn't acknowledge Beta knights that they'd both have to become so notable that it'd be impossible to be left out of written record. At the time Ingrid had fervently agreed, full of determination and positivity, they’d burned the midnight oil staying up and talking about their hopes for the future. She hadn’t stumbled to bed until the early hours of the morning and it was enough to have her lingering in her private quarters of the dorm even after having gotten dressed, despite her friends having told her yesterday about their plan for some early-morning training.

“Ingrid, come quick! Dimitri needs you.”

Ingrid was alarmed when the door slammed open, but hearing those words had her jumping to her feet. “Did something happen while sparring!?”

“Yes, he-” Sylvain was panting hard, and it took a whiff of musky spice for Ingrid to recognize it wasn’t just from running to fetch her. “He’s gone into heat!”

After she grabbed two pillows from her bed Sylvain led Ingrid from her room, the upper floor of the dorms were in a tizzy of students chattering and a few opening windows. Airing the hall out likely because the smell of Sylvain’s rut was undoubtedly overpowering to other Omega students and unbearable for most Alphas. As a Beta her sense of smell wasn’t as sensitive Sylvian’s spicy scent, which reminded her of the ginger cakes served at Saint Serios Day celebrations, was simply stronger than usual.

They briskly walked across half the length of the monastery before reaching the training grounds. At its entrance was a semicircle of knights and mob of students, from the disheveled uniforms and sweaty states likely many who'd been training and then were abruptly kicked out. A hassled-looking Alois nodded to the two of them but kept explaining to the crowd that the grounds were closed until further notice, as Sylvain led her past the throng and through the guarded doors. The moment they stepped on the grounds proper it was obvious what had happened even to her duller Beta senses as a haze of pheromones lingered, though faintly enough that she knew Dimitri wasn’t out in the open.

“You can smell it, huh?” Sylvain smiled when she nodded. “What’s it like to you?”

“It’s sweet.”

His smile widened, “That all?”

Ingrid’s cheeks flushed as she nodded and refused to extrapolate. The scent of Omega's heats had always smelled sweet to her. When Mercedes' cycle hit it was sugary, buttery, and honeyed like those cookies she so often baked. Dimitri’s heat scent was more akin to bread freshly pulled from an oven, warm and mouth-watering. In the past Felix had often laughed and teased at the way Ingrid compared people's scents to food, but she loved food and that meant every comparison was a compliment!

With minimal chuckling Sylvain led her past the sparring pit, target dummies, and archery range into a more secluded corner, where the scent of heat grew thicker and thicker until it blanketed the air. However, the smell was muddied, other strong scents overlapping in a way that just caused confusion. The source of this became apparent as they both had to stop because of a standoff happening between two young men, the larger of which was effectively blocking the way. Felix stood with feet planted and wore a ferocious frown, which was almost comical with how he had one arm wrapped about a parcel of foodstuffs while the other hand carried a large jug of water. Across from him was the royal ‘retainer' and man of Duscur, Dedue. Despite being a Beta he was huge, larger than most of the full-grown adults at the monastery, and though there was nothing overtly threatening in his posture she couldn’t help but feel on edge.

“Out of my way, lapdog.” Felix ordered, voice sharp.

The Duscur man didn’t budge. “Not while His Highness is in such a compromised state.”

“You think I’d touch that beast?”

“Just as much as the Prince would want to touch you, if His Highness were in his right mind.”

At the slight, Felix didn’t reply with words but his lips curled to bare his teeth. All those who presented as Alpha had prominent canines, but something about the major Fraldarius crest made Felix’s even larger than usual— so his baring them was akin to flashing fang in threat. Suddenly Sylvain was moving from beside her to their friend’s side, one arm slinging around the shorter man as the redhead blithely greeted them both. Quick thinking and an effective way to prevent the raven-haired Alpha from launching himself at the blatant challenge.

Felix always became twice as prickly and even quicker to snap when he was in rut, it was hard to imagine anyone being willing to get close enough to spend it with him. Despite Sylvain's terrible habit of flirtation and bedhopping, she'd never heard of him abducting hapless passersby because of rut. Neither of them were knot-brained idiots who couldn’t function around omega pheromones, but she could also understand why Dedue wouldn’t let Felix pass. An Alpha tending an Omega they hadn’t claimed or weren’t bonded to was inappropriate, even Annette and Imperial Princess Edelgard wouldn’t have been allowed near Dimitri while he was mid-cycle. Yet Ingrid’s gut told her this wasn’t simple guarding, considering that he currently postured with an Alpha.

As the royal retainer the Duscur man rarely left Dimitri’s side so he must’ve been present when the prince had gone into heat, just like Sylvain and Felix, and had likely fallen into a mock-rut. Since he was a Beta it’d be a less dramatic and more short-lived fluctuation of hormones than an Alpha’s true rut, but it was still inappropriate to tend in such a state. He couldn’t stay and it was up to her to dissuade him from trying.

After taking a fortifying breath Ingrid forced one foot in front of the other until she’d joined the group of men. Three pairs of eyes turned her way, but Ingrid looked only to the green pair as she said, “None of you have a claim on Prince Dimitri, so it’d be best if you all cleared out.”

Dedue didn’t frown but did lock eyes with her and Ingrid refused to back down and look away. At last he said, with what might’ve been a sigh, “His Highness should not be left alone.”

Ingrid nodded. “Which is why I’ll stay and tend to him. I’ve training and experience caring for Omegas during their cycle.”

“If that’s all that’s needed, I was there when His Highness presented. I tended him through his first heat.”

Ingrid's breath caught, the idea of a younger Dimitri injured and alone in Duscur while overcome by hormone induced weakness turning to a complete stranger for help— she had to swallow down a sympathetic noise. However, not everyone felt such empathy.

“Well you’re off to a nice start, denying the boar food and water.” Felix nearly snarled as he shrugged Sylvain off his shoulder and brusquely set his burdens down on the ground. “We’re all trying to aid your master, but if it’s so unwanted we can take Ingrid and go.”

“Felix,” Ingrid hissed through her teeth, leaving the ’you’re not helping’ unsaid. The raven-haired man met her glare with one of his own, but mercifully held his tongue.

Sylvain took this as a cue to chime in. “We’re Dimitri’s friends, Dedue, you can trust us. Ingrid knows what she’s doing, she’s tended Dimitri before and some of her brothers are Omegas.”

“I am a Beta as well, I can tend-”

“It’s no good!” Ingrid interrupted with an irritated growl. “You’re already in a mock-rut. You’d only further irritate Dimitri.”

For the first time, Dedue’s brow furrowed. “You’ll be the same as me if you go in there.”

“No, I’ve been trained how to avoid that.”

“How-”

Before Dedue could finish asking, Ingrid turned to the Alphas reeking of rut behind her. While Sylvain gave a loud whine as she passed him by, Felix simply locked his jaw and grit his teeth as she stood on her tip toes, moved the shirt collar aside, and licked the skin of his neck over his visibly swollen scent gland. Immediately her taste buds were flooded with Alpha musk, the smoky pheromones of rut, and his own sharply sour tang that always reminded her of yellow citrus fruit. Felix’s taste was eerily close to Glenn’s zesty scent but Ingrid smothered the memories that tried to surface, focusing instead inward.

She felt her body reacting to the Alpha pheromones she’s just taken in. Felt her temperature rising, the morning breeze sending shivers straight through her. Felt her skin getting over-sensitized, the fibers of her jacket and blouse suddenly tight over her breasts, and how her skirt dragged against her leggings. Felt the low ache as it became a struggle not to lean further into Felix and bask in his warm body against hers— all signs that she’d gone into mock-heat. Precisely the state she wanted to be in to fulfilling her duty.

“See?” Ingrid said as she turned back to Dedue. “I’m harmless to an Omega now. Best to comfort Dimitri and tend him through this heat.”

Dedue’s nostrils flared as he scented the air, then the lines of his shoulders drooped as he nodded. “Very well. I leave His Highness to your care, Lady Ingrid.” Without another word the huge Duscur man walked towards the training grounds entryway and away from them.

Ingrid didn't turn to watch but couldn't help but tilt her head to listen to the retreating footsteps. She didn't even realize the action bared her neck until she felt a touch there. She hadn't even spied Felix's arm moving, hadn't noticed until hand was under her braid and on the back of her neck. The span of it was big enough that his grip put pressure on both her scent glands at the same time— a pleasant jolt speared through her as tension drained out and her muscles went slack.

“Relax,” Felix’s tone was firm, but eased the tight grip of his hand.

Chuckling, Sylvain leaned close. “You’ll be no good to Dimitri if you’re a nervous wreck.”

Without that pressure on her glands the wash of pleasure abruptly receded, her senses returned to Ingrid with a soft sort of clarity. Yet even just the weight of Felix’s big, calloused hand at her nape alongside the ongoing mock-heat had Ingrid's normally latent instincts wanting her to curl up and show her belly. She was in mock-heat, the center of these Alpha men’s attention, and thoughts of duty were a hazy second to the urge to ask for more.

It was Felix’s words, spoken in a low voice, that snapped her back. “If you don’t want to go, you don’t have to.”

“W-what’re you saying?” Ingrid swallowed thickly, ignoring the taste of lemons on the back of her tongue as she stepped out of reach. “Dimitri’s in heat, he needs me.”

Felix’s hand hovered in that air and an almost hurt expression flashed across his face, before his mouth set in a hard line as he lowered his arm. Brown eyes flickered between the two of them, as Sylvain gestured to the goods on the ground and asked, “Want a hand with these?”

“No, I can manage.” To prove her point, Ingrid shuffled both pillows to a one-arm hold, balanced the foodstuffs in the crook of the other, and picked up the water jug.

“Guess we should make ourselves scarce.” The redhead looped his arm across the raven-haired Alpha, visibly nudging the other.

Felix didn’t budge, instead holding her gaze with a sharp attention that had Ingrid perking despite herself. He opened his mouth then closed it just as quickly, perhaps changing his mind on what to say, before biting out. “His strength is formidable, so don’t let that boar manhandle you.”

Ingrid couldn’t help but roll her eyes at his belligerent rhetoric. Not dignifying him with a reply she turned and walked toward the secluded alcove, ignoring the sounds of Sylvain and Felix’s argument growing quiet as she put distance between them. She guessed this corner of the grounds was normally used as a storage space for extra and seasonal items. One of the wooden crates among the stacks had been opened, and that's where Ingrid guessed the circled pile of fur-trimmed cloaks had come from. Although it was far from the dorms, Ingrid was glad Dimitri had found somewhere he felt safe enough to construct a nest and turn into his heat-den. Although those winter cloaks might be better off burned than laundered, considering how embedded the heat pheromones would end up in the fur collars.

Ingrid made sure to place each step firmly and noticeably, so that her approach would be heard clearly, and she’d not be mistakenly surprise the prince. She couldn’t even smell traces of Sylvain and Felix’s ruts, not past the heat pheromones, so intense and thickly blanketing the air— making her mouth water at the warm, delicious scent. Thankfully, her body was already in mock-heat and it’d take more than scent alone to knock her hormones into a mock-rut. She’d reached her destination— a mound of cloaks where in the center of the nest a half-dressed Dimitri was curled into a fetal ball, his face hidden by his arms as he shivered and held himself like he was about to fall apart.

Setting down the items, Ingrid made sure to kneel outside the nest as she asked, "How're you feeling?"

The blond didn't answer with words, just choked out a miserable little whimper. Without another word she stretched her arms, arranging one pillow to cushion between his legs and handing him the other. Wrapping his arms around it, Dimitri tucked his face against the blue fabric and deeply inhaled, likely searching for a scent that would be absent with her Beta presentation. But it was the safest way to let him hold something close without a risk of causing self-injury if his control slipped— or the risk of someone else getting bruised.

"Do I have permission to attend, Your Highness?"

Dimitri grimaced, whether from the discomfort of his heat or her formal wording she couldn't be sure, but he nodded. His face was flushed feverishly and drops of sweat were already beading over his normally fair skin. Ingrid poured enough water from the jug to wet a corner of one of the cloaks and then wiped away the sweat. He shuddered at the contact of the cool, damp cloth but also sighed with what sounded like relief. Those eyes, as pale blue as the noonday sky, fluttered but never quite shut.

“I h-hate this…” Dimitri’s voice hitched on a breath but he didn’t appear to be anywhere near tears.

Ingrid wrung out then rewetted the cloth, wiping down his neck and exposed collarbones. “It hurts, but you’ll be alright. I'm here with you.”

As the only high-standing Beta in the Prince’s close peers, Ingrid had tended him through heats years before and she knew he could handle it. He could handle worse than this, normally. The rushing hormones of heat just made him emotional and desperate in more than one way. Even before the prince had presented, almost a decade ago back in Galatea when her father had first trained Ingrid on how to tend an Omega in heat it'd been explained that age effected their cycles, that it'd get more intense and more difficult to ignore as they matured with age. From the way Dimitri clung to her pillows like a limpet, this heat must've been one of his worst ones to date. Thankfully her own mock-heat meant she wouldn't further rile his arousal at least, not like rut pheromones would've.

Once she’d wiped away the sweat Ingrid laid a hand on his head and gently smoothed it back his hair, the fine blond strands having clumped together with his sticky state. She felt how his body trembled and was feverishly hot. As she continued to pet his hair, Dimitri's expression remained grim and had her wondering why he didn't just push into her touch as he'd done in heat tendings before. During their cycles all Omegas craved physical contact, to exchange scents, and emotionally connect. The way Dimitri rigidly refused to respond was unnatural and seemed to only be increasing his discomfort.

“Is something wrong?”

“…where’s Dedue?”

Her brow furrowed at the mention of the Duscur man, but answered, “He’s out on the grounds with Felix and Sylvain. He was in a mock-rut, so has to stay away from you right now.”

Dimitri frowned at her words, hands clenching in the pillowcase until his knuckles were white as his breathing grew quick.

Thinking to remedy his discomfort, she picked up the water jug and offered him its neck. “Here, have some water-”

“No!” Before she could react, Dimitri’s hand shot out and sent the jug in her own flying, its contents spilling onto the ground. Harsh chastisement stilled on Ingrid’s tongue as the prince shut his eyes, curled further in on himself, and began muttering, “No, I don’t need it. Don’t need… no…”

Cursing under her breath, she grabbed the jug and felt only a fraction of the liquid slosh inside. Felix had been considerate retrieving so much food and water, responsibly providing like an Alpha should. With this spill she’d have to go and get more water as an Omega’s heat could last not just hours, but possibly for multiple days. As the one tending it was up to her to keep Dimitri in good health, especially with him acting erratically. Standing, she told the prince that she’d return and then quickly walked back to the grounds to find one of the others.

Ingrid was in such a rush that rather than looking for Felix or Sylvain, when she saw the Beta man she called out, “You!”

Dedue looked to Ingrid, seemingly unphased by her outburst. His stern expression made Ingrid straighten her spine as she met his gaze. Hefting up the jug, she said, “His Highness needs more water. Can you fill this at the well and bring it to me?”

Dedue nodded taking the clay jug, then quietly headed out the doors in the direction of the sauna. Ingrid couldn’t help but release a sigh of relief as he left, more than a little unnerved that’d the Duscur man had been standing so close nearby while she tended Dimitri. It had her wondering where the Alphas had gone, she glanced across the sparring pit and found no traces of them. It was strange enough that she started searching, peeking around bends on the archery range and in nooks near the training dummies. Ultimately it was noise that gave away their position, from a corner almost completely shadowed over.

Ingrid might’ve even passed them by if a loud gasp hadn’t snatched her attention, and the torch set against the wall flickered with enough light that she saw them, together.

Felix had covered Sylvain’s body with his own from behind, the entire ropy length of the raven-haired boy bracketing the broader length of the other with their weight mutually braced against a stone column. His face was tucked against the nape of the redhead’s neck, both of their sweaty flanks heaving as they took deep, ragged breaths and their hips moved in concert. With his greater height and the way his head was thrown back over Felix’s shoulder, Ingrid had a clear view of Sylvain’s face— his eyes screwed shut, mouth slack, and sweat-dewed skin rosy under a hot blush.

She'd heard rumors of what it was like if two Alphas rutted— scratching, biting, shoving, tearing —demands for submission from both ends until one gained the upper hand. But the sight before her was nothing like that, it was tender in the way Felix curled around Sylvain and how the redhead leaned into the contact. If Ingrid went any closer, she was sure the air would be blanketed by mutual scents of their rut blended together into something delicious.

That idea, alongside the sight and sounds sent arousal straight to her core and the ache between her legs became a slow, pulsing throb that echoed her heartbeat. Ingrid tried to rub her thighs together to ease it, but the friction was minimal. Unable to take her eyes off them, she was tempted to slide her hand under her skirt and ride her own fingers until this tension broke. But to use Sylvain and Felix— her brothers-in-arms, her companions, her friends —without their knowledge in that way was unconscionable.

Suddenly Sylvain’s eyelids fluttered open, gaze unfocused for a moment before alighting on her figure in the torchlight. Before those eyes could do more than widen, she turned and hastily walked back to Dimitri’s corner away from the colonnade where her oldest, dearest friends were rutting one another in the shadows. She was reminded of the low ache in her belly and the moisture dampening her smallclothes with every step. But that sort of passion wasn't for her.

Alphas didn't desire Betas.

Chapter Text

The day Ingrid's Crest had manifested her father had wept openly, out of relief and joy. It'd been unexpected as a couple of her older brothers who'd presented as Omegas never showed any signs yet she, a humble Beta, displayed the Goddess' favor. While she was very young, she hadn't understood the significance, after all, her closest friends also bore Crests. Only in her thirteenth year after the tragedies did she start noticing how... she didn't fit the mold.

When proposals began to arrive, proposing to make her their bondmate the diction would always emphasize her presentation— Beta —and its disadvantages. A Beta didn’t possess the fertility and resiliency of Omegas so couldn’t deliver as many children. A Beta didn’t have the instincts of Alphas that’d guarantee her bondmate would want for nothing and certainly wasn’t counted on for protection. They always talked of her presentation as something that required sacrifices, something to be overlooked for the sake of her Crest. It’d made her feel sick just reading them so she’d refused every one on principal.

At Garren Mach Monastery Ingrid had arrived alongside most of Faergus’ next generation of nobility and found the only other Betas in the class of Blue Lions were Crestless or of common birth. When she’d looked into the other classes, she’d found similar cases— Crested Alpha nobles, Crested Omega nobles —only the Aderstian Houses of Vestra and Bergliez had noble Beta sons who lacked Crests, every other Beta student was of common birth. She was an anomaly: noble born, Crested, and Beta. There were times it’d made Ingrid feel like a mistake, question where she belonged.

Then the peace had been shattered and war erupted. Ingrid was a skilled fighter; she’d wanted to go and assist their comrades fighting for the Kingdom’s sake. But her father had forbidden it, terrified over the thought of her dying on the battlefield— the thought of the family losing their only Crest bearer. Galatea was poor, their martial forces small, and so they claimed neutrality while her friends fought and bled only a handful of leagues away. Ingrid hated those years; how trapped and useless it’d made her feel. During them it was difficult not to doubt her dreams. Her worth.

The poor fragile Beta woman, not good for breeding, not good for battle, not good for anything. Even her Crest was worthless if she couldn’t take Luin and face their enemies. So when a letter arrived from Faldarius which reminded her of the promised reunion at Garreg Mach, Ingrid had nodded as her father told her not to go and then had snuck out in the middle of the night on the back of her pegasus. Easier to beg forgiveness because she’d never gain permission.

The letter had listed the place where she could meet up with Felix and Sylvain and then they’d travel together to the Monastery, for safety’s sake, for friendship. It was the first decision Ingrid had made in a long while that didn’t make her feel dead inside. Day was dawning golden as she and her mount descended to the designated spot, her heart racing and mouth smiling as the sunlight gilded a familiar head of red hair.

“Sylvain!” The moment her pegasus’ hooves touched the earth; she’d swung out of the saddle and ran to him. When he’d held open his arms she’d jumped and he easily caught her, even spinning them like he used to do when they were children. They were both heartily laughing by the time he set her back on her feet.

“I knew you’d come Ingrid!” His grin was wide and bright.

She returned it, but couldn’t help glancing around them at one conspicuous absence. “Where’s Felix?”

“He’s procuring extra rations for the trip through the mountains. It’s just a little ways ahead, so it’ll be easy to meet with him.” His gaze wandered from hers and he remarked, “You cut your hair.”

“Yeah…” It’d been in the heat of the moment and initially with a knife. Just after new of Dimitri’s arrest and execution things had looked so hopeless that her father had suggested they find an Adrestian family and ally through bonding. The idea had so enraged Ingrid that she’d begun hacking off her hair, yelling that no one would want an ugly Beta bondmate. For a desperate moment she’d actually considered cutting her face to scar it, thankfully her mother had stepped in and talked them both down. Yet after the length of it had been evened out, she’d decided to keep it short as a reminder for her father while wearing braids of the shorn length to remind herself.

All those thoughts scattered when Sylvain brought up a gloved hand and cupped her jaw, eyes bright as copper coins in the morning light. “Got to admit, it’ll be distracting seeing your neck so bare… so bitable.”

“You’re terrible!” Blushing Ingrid took a step back, only to notice just how long his reach was. “I bet you’d never say something so salacious if Felix cut his hair.”

Sylvain’s smile took a roguish curve. “Just try and guess how many times I got told off for appreciating how he does his hair up. The back of his neck flushes before it reaches his face, you know?”

For a moment Ingrid felt like she’d been caught peeping, gaining a bit of knowledge that was intimate and not meant for her. Then she recalled just who she was talking to and hardened to a glare. “You really are awful, Sylvain. You should at least be more discreet and consider his feelings.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, you shouldn’t gossip about your lovers.”

The redhead’s smile faded as he gave her a quizzical look. “It’s not like you’re a stranger, Ingrid, you’ve known Felix as long as I have.”

She frowned. “I’m sure he wouldn’t want you to tell me those sorts of intimate things.”

Sylvain blinked, mouth opening and closely mutely, before he shook his head. “Ingrid, I swear I’m not boasting or teasing. Felix wouldn’t mind you knowing, I mean, if you asked for a demonstration-”

Ingrid held up her hand, expression stern with disapproval. “Stop right there. I already know Felix doesn’t want me.”

“Wha-” He made an incomprehensible noise. “What makes you say that!?”

“Simple. After Glenn’s death, when our fathers tried to pass my betrothal onto him, Felix refused. Seems like a clear rejection.”

They stood staring at each other for a long, awkward moment, before Sylvain sighed and raised a hand to scratch the back of his head. “You should ask him why he did that.”

“It doesn’t matter-”

“Ingrid, please. Just talk to him, for me?”

The small talk ended with that, both of them climbing onto their mounts and then meeting up with Felix by a roadside inn. Travel through the mountains was treacherous, even while flying, so it was done mostly in silence and their concentration was rewarded with making good time. It wasn’t until the shadow of Garreg Mach Monastery was visible on the horizon, when they’d stopped to let their mounts drink at a nearby creek and rest themselves, that Sylvain forced the issue.

“Ingrid, you had a question for Felix, right?”

She nearly choked on the mouthful of water she’d taken from her canteen, but coughed out a warning. “Sylvain, stay out of it!”

“What?” The man in question eyed them both like they were being a nuisance. “Why’re you two making a fuss?”

“Nothing-”

“Ingrid wants to know why you rejected the betrothal to her.” She was tempted to chuck her canteen at Sylvain, but he’d already taken the reins to his horse and her pegasus and was walking away. “Well, I’ll leave you two to it.”

Despite her anger, the moment amber eyes looked to her an uncomfortable chill settled over Ingrid. Although she broke eye contact, Felix asked, “You want to know?”

She’d made peace with his rejection years and years ago, so it was ridiculous to feel hurt about it now. No good would come from rehashing the facts. “…forget it. Just ignore-”

“It’s because I’m not my brother, and I never will be.” His tone warned not to press him on this statement, and she didn’t want to.

Instead Ingrid nodded. “I understand. Glenn never gave me his claim-mark… its natural for an Alpha to be disappointed about bonding a Beta.”

“Glenn never bit you because you were too young!” Felix bristled, his outburst making her look at him. “At that age you couldn’t comprehend what it’d mean, for you or to him.”

“But we were betrothed to be bondmates. It was… his right.”

“Don’t say such disgusting things.” Felix strode towards her, so Ingrid stood straight and warily faced him. “A claiming bite’s not the same as a bonding ceremony. It’s intimate, primal… an Alpha worth their salt won’t force a claim on anyone.”

He stopped in front of her at arm’s length, just close enough to make her tense. “Perhaps, but what does this have to do with you rejecting me? Other than the obvious.”

“I didn’t want a betrothal you had no choice in, or accepted out of some twisted sense of duty. I,” Felix gave an exasperated sigh. “I want you to willingly give yourself to me.”

Those eyes fixed upon her, bright and hot as the heart of a candleflame. He sent her a look both challenging and full of promises, that had a heated jolt zip up her spine. She couldn’t believe it.

“You, you mean you did want-”

“Don’t twist my words, you heard me.”

“But in the training grounds I saw you rutting Sylvain-” The rest of Ingrid’s words shriveled into nonsense in her throat as she realized what she’d just admitted.

Felix’s expression was pained as he said, “…I know, he told me.”

“What!? When?” Mortification nearly doused all other emotions. Dreading the judgement in his eyes, she almost hid her face in her hands.

However, no angry accusations came, his voice remained even. “That same day, no, more like the next moment. That lech enjoys tormenting me while we’re tied.”

The fact that Ingrid had likely caught the two of them just when Felix had knotted Sylvain, embarrassedly sent arousal simmering through her. Fighting a blush, she insisted, “But you’re together, aren’t you? I wouldn’t dare steal you from Sylvain.”

“No, you wouldn’t. Do you really think Sylvain doesn’t want you as much as I do, Ingrid?” A small long-suffering smile curved his lips. “You should’ve heard all the cockamamie plans he came up with to try and tempt you to join in our next rut.”

That’d mean it’d been going on for years, it couldn’t be true. “Y-you’re lying!”

“No, you’re lying to yourself, Ingrid.”

The only warning was his hand tangling in Ingrid's hair then Felix crossed the space between them and slanted his mouth over hers. Despite her inexperience this wasn't Ingrid's first kiss, Glenn had gifted her that— soft, chaste, and fleeting —almost a decade ago. Felix's couldn't be more different.

The pressure of the kiss was hard and a bit clumsy, his teeth clicking against hers as his tongue pushed past her lips. He licked into her mouth impatiently, his tongue slick and shockingly warm against her own. Felix hooked his other arm around her waist as he leaned over forcing her back to arch and pressing their bodies close. It was enough that Ingrid’s hands held onto his shoulders for stability rather than pushing, and the dominant move sent a thrill to the pit of her stomach.

It didn’t take much longer for her to return the rough kiss, her tongue dueling and then chasing after his. The tart taste of him burst over her taste-buds, incredibly heady and real.

When it finally ended their breathing was shaky and too quick, both of their mouths kiss-bruised and embarrassingly wet.

“F-Felix…”

“Need me to say it again?” Felix asked, voice husky. He drew in just enough to nip and suck at her lower lip.

It’s the slight pain, the drag of teeth, that snapped Ingrid back to her senses. She shoved Felix hard so that they stumbled apart, and when he took a step towards her, she scrambled back shaking her head. His eyes burned and she had no idea what to say, mercifully that’s when Sylvain appeared astride his horse leading her own mount while shouting that there was trouble at the Monastery.

 


 

Ingrid had known Sylvain and Felix all her life, considered them and Dimitri to be her closest friends. That’s why it was painfully obvious when their behavior towards her shifted. It started small, in unrequested gestures. Like Felix sharpening her weapons or Sylvain polishing her armor and oiling her tack. Them assisting her with any camp duties or accompanying her for patrols. On the march when nights turned bitterly cold there’s always extra blankets stacked on her cot, and after particularly trying days she’d be handed cups of mint tea or chamomile. All too often they’re there in the mess hall offering plates with the choicest bits from her favorite dishes. The lattermost offerings of drink and food was what Glenn had done when he’d been alive, gestures meant to flatter and show his capabilities as a provider. It was the sort of thing Alphas did for those that held interest to them, after that talk and kiss Ingrid knew it’d be a lie to say it was strictly platonic in nature.

Only when they started touching, dragging their wrists in ways that’d scent her, did she put her foot down. Sylvain would back off with smiles and apologies, but Felix seemed to take it as a challenge and more often than not it ended with her throwing off his hands and shoving him. While she appreciated their help during downtime, she wasn't about walk around smelling like she belonged to them to appease territorial Alpha posturing. Ingrid made sure to never let them close enough to steal a kiss, with the way she’d lost her head that last time she didn’t trust herself to resist.

Apparently, this was all blatant enough that when Ingrid was assigned kitchen duty to peel potatoes with a couple former schoolmates, it was such common knowledge to be treated as small talk.

“So, both Sylvain and Felix are courting you?” Mercedes asked, voice airy as always.

Nearly cutting a finger with the paring knife, Ingrid muttered, “…they’re certainly trying.”

Annette laughed, but their Omega companion just smiled. “Well, that must be a nice change from the impersonal bondmate proposals sent through letters.”

“Those are easier to ignore.”

Annette looked up from eyeing a potato, her brow quirking. “Do you not want them to court you?”

Ingrid held back a wince as she admitted, “I’m… not sure.”

Five years ago, in the relative stable safety maybe she might’ve been flattered to be courted by not one but two Alphas, however on the march between battlefields was frankly ridiculous! She didn’t understand what Felix or Sylvain were thinking, why they made overtures now rather than before. It was also awkward, knowing they were being watched by the rest in the army and whatever her response it’d be just as public. Despite not knowing what she wanted, it definitely wasn’t to humiliate them or herself.

Exhaling hard, Ingrid asked, “Isn’t it weird though? That it’s… the both of them interested in me?”

Mercedes shook her head. “While people in the Kingdom and Alliance traditionally only take one bondmate, it’s quite common in the Empire to have multiple.”

“But isn’t that more Alphas collecting many Omegas?”

Annette shrugged. “In the distant past, yes. These days it can be any combination of presentations.”

“So there’s no need for you to feel embarrassed to have two handsome Alpha men plying suit,” Mercedes added with a smile.

Face hot with an exceptional embarrassment, Ingrid just nodded and mercifully the topic of conversation changed. The way these two had stated it plainly, made her feel a tad foolish over her own hesitations and dithering. For the rest of the evening she carried on the conversation with half a mind, wondering why it was so much easier when she’d been convinced her friends didn’t want her in that way.

By the time they’d finished helping the remaining kitchen staff cook dinner, Ingrid found herself no more decided but unpleasantly drained. So not wanting to have to deal with Felix and Sylvain flanking her at the table as they so often did these days, she ladled herself a bowl of soup and took it to her room for a little privacy. However, a surprise awaited her there. At first, she wondered if she’d forgotten to put away laundry when she spied a half-cloak and a pair of leggings on the coverlet of her bed. After setting her food down, she gave the articles a closer look and noticed that these had been patched and darned.

Sewing was a practical skill so all the Kingdom's noble children were taught how. Ingrid still remembered when she, Sylvain, Felix, and Dimitri had all learned and practiced by darning old socks. Dimitri had struggled with punching holes and tearing the fabric as he tried to manipulate the needle, and had ultimately given up after the third pair of mangled socks. Sylvain’s fine motor control was clumsy in detail, but he’d eventually got the hang of big stitches that’d achieve his goal if looked a bit of a mess. Strangely Felix was the best hand at sewing, mostly because his stubborn perfectionism only accepted small, even stitches and he’d pull threads as many times as it took to achieve it. Looking at the patches on her half-cape, it was easy to recognize those same small, even stitches. While every hole in her leggings had been closed with big, clumsy stitches which she found she couldn’t even be mad about.

She’d given up on these articles of clothing after weathering a direct burst of Bolganone, and Ingrid had offhandedly mentioned to her friends she hadn’t the energy to try and mend them— they’d gone and done this. She should’ve been getting mad at how they’d invaded her space and rifled through her things to find these, but instead Ingrid found herself fighting a smile as she ran her fingertips over the time-consuming threadwork. It was easy to imagine Felix heckling Sylvain over his clumsy work while taking twice the time to get his own done, all for her sake.

 


 

Those quiet moments were far and few between, however, as the campaign to march on the Empire’s capital pushed them farther and further. Although they survived battling in Ailell, it’d been a harrowing experience. The additional troops from Faldarius also needed to rest from their travels, so Ingrid had guided the army to one of her family’s nearby hunting grounds where it was safe to set up camp for a while. There was a lodge just large enough to accommodate a dozen people when two shared a room, so they were able to enjoy the comfort of four walls and a roof over their heads for a few nights.

Yet the atmosphere remained tense as Prince Dimitri kept insisting that they press on and often argued with Duke Rodrigue, Sir Gilbert, and the others. She’d also noticed that unless his presence was required for talk of strategy and the like, Felix had been avoiding his father and that his expression was quite sour whenever they did converse. Sylvain had volunteered to help manage the horses, of which there was so many that they had to set up temporary stabling. While Ingrid had been busy looking after the grounds and its resources, their absences made her aware of how accustomed she’d grown to her friends-turned-suitors constant hovering. It should’ve bothered her more than it did to admit that she missed them.

On the second night she found herself tossing and turning, unable to sleep as her stomach grumbled at the meager rations she’d substituted for a true evening meal. Finally, giving into the demands of her body, Ingrid got out of bed and grabbed her stitched pair of leggings and patched half-cloak. Donning them quietly, she tried not to disturb the slumber of Flayn, then she snuck out of their shared room and down to the lodge’s small kitchen.

Being the middle of the night, it was dark, so Ingrid fumbled for a moment to locate a candle and lit it. With the light, it was no trouble to rummage through the cupboard her efforts rewarded with a hunk of cheese and stick of hard salami. Slicing both, she couldn’t help but groan at the first bite of salty meat and creamy dairy and found herself hungrier than she’d thought. It was easy to consume salami slices with chucks of cheese, before she wanted a drink and set down the knife to search.

“…Ingrid?”

Her heart tried to jump out of her chest as she whirled and found Sylvain dressed only in a loose shirt and breeches standing in the kitchen doorway. Ingrid felt suddenly under-dressed being caught in just a nightshirt and leggings beneath her half-cloak. Keeping her voice low, she hissed, “You scared me!”

“Sorry,” the redhead mushily replied, clearly half-asleep on his feet.

Not wanting him to possibly nod off in the doorway and block her in, Ingrid took the redhead by the hand and sat him down on a tall stool. He didn’t protest or resist, eyelids drooping as he watched her. When his shirt shifted to one side and gaped at the neck, she was struck with the urge to straighten it. But her hand froze midway as she spotted a conspicuous scar where his neck met shoulder— a jagged oval of teeth-marks. From the four longer pink divots whoever had made it had large canines.

Seeing Felix’s claim in Sylvain’s flesh was a little sobering, and the scar itself didn’t look fresh. It had her wondering just how long they’d been dedicated to one another. Rather than voicing these thoughts, she asked him, “What’re you doing here?”

“Felix heard something. Wanted to check-” His jaw cracked with a wide yawn, and he sighed, “Y’know how he is…”

Ingrid hummed in agreement. Rising in the dead of night to investigate an unknown noise was a very Felix thing to do. Although waking Sylvain so that he could do it in his place seemed strange, so she asked, “Why isn’t he with you?”

“Went to check the other direction-”

Abruptly a loud noise, like something crashing against a hard surface, echoed from the hallway. Sylvain jumped to his feet, suddenly awake, but Ingrid rushed ahead of him with the knife in one hand and candle in the other. The sound repeated in heavy thumps until they were both turning into the entry hall. It was dark save for the light of her candle flame, but she spied two shadowy figures near the front entryway, one seemed to be grappling the other.

As they drew closer, the shorter figure’s head turned and Felix’s voice called out, “Stay back!”

The taller figure moved so fast Ingrid could barely react. In the next moment Felix was thrown off his feet and there was the distinct splintering of wood as he crashed into what was once the front doors.

Terror stuck Ingrid’s throat closed but behind her, Sylvain drew a sharp breath and shouted, “Felix!”

The redhead charged ahead, pushing past the other person to get where the wooden wreckage pinned the other Alpha man against the ground. Ingrid was hot on his heels and felt the breath punched out of her as the candle's light revealed the still-standing figure— tall, blond, and disturbingly familiar.

“Dimitri?” Ignoring the terror still lodged inside her, she approached the prince. He was fully dressed and armored with that fur-trimmed cloak about his shoulders, she doubted he’d slept at all that night. His hair was matted and unkempt as it had been since the reunion; his single blue eye reflecting the light feverishly. While once she would’ve sworn Dimitri would never hurt a friend, let alone throw one with enough force to break a door, he’d been acting erratically and sometimes dangerously.

“Stay out of my way,” his rough growl had her halting just out of reach.

Ingrid was still close enough to smell how the Omega man was mid-cycle, the air heavy with his pheromones. She kept her eyes on him, ignoring the sound of wood being shifted and Felix’s pained protests, and said, “We can’t start marching while Your Highness is in heat, so better we stay here until it’s over. You can make a den-”

“A corpse can't make life, why would it build a nest?” Dimitri’s head fell forward as walked towards her.

Ingrid resisted the urge to step back, dropping the knife even as he came to loom menacingly. “Your Highness, you’re safe here. I’ll tend you.”

Dimitri's heat smelled wrong, not sweet but like aged yeast. As close as he was it mixed nauseatingly with the odors of old blood, musty smoke, and unwashed body. It took all of Ingrid's composure not to recoil when the blond leaned in close enough that she felt each warm puff of his breath.

“Is that what you want? To be with a beast?” His eye narrowed, the skin of his face sickly pale apart from the high color along his cheekbones.

Ingrid kept her eyes on his as she forced herself to calmly smile. “I want to serve my liege. It’ll be just like old times.”

Dimitri stared at her for an uncomfortably long moment, before he smiled crookedly. “Very well, I’ll use your body!”

One gauntleted hand rose, fisting in the collar of her half-cloak and dragging her against his breastplate despite her struggles. Then Ingrid's head was wrenched to the side and an open mouth set against her neck over the scent gland— a scream tore from her throat as unyielding teeth crushed down. A pang of adrenaline ricochet down her spine like a loosed arrow, followed by effusive heat. Ingrid's mind went blank, overwhelmed first with pleasure then pain so intense it blurred into something beyond mere physical sensation.

A hot scraping pain drew Ingrid’s senses back to the present, her body jostled amidst the sound of tearing fabric. She barely felt her legs trembling before her knees gave way and she started to fall— only to be lifted off her feet and held against a solid warmth, surrounded by a familiar spicy scent.

Softly spoken words got past the ringing in her ears. “Don’t worry, Ingrid. We’ve got you.”

It was comforting enough she didn’t struggle as she felt them moving, their darkened surroundings changing until they finally stopped in a more enclosed space that smelled like lemons, nutmeg, and ginger.

“Did he break the skin?”

A big, calloused hand touched Ingrid’s neck and she whimpered at the pressure on the tender flesh. The weight was mercifully removed, but her gland throbbed in time with her still-racing heart.

“No, but it’s a nasty bruise.”

A low growl cut through the air, then two hands cupped her jaw and turned her face out from the warmth she’d ducked into. “Ingrid, look at me.” He had to say it a second time, with authority behind his words, before Ingrid came back to herself and opened her eyes.

Felix’s expression was carved from stone, hard and angry. Even if she’d lacked vision, his furious mood would’ve been given away by smell alone. Ingrid had never been the most empathic of people, not skilled at picking up the shifts in scent that came with strong emotions. But Felix was projecting so hard even the most scent blind of Betas couldn’t have missed it, the sour stench of his anger almost oppressive with its barely leashed aggression.

He wasn’t glaring as he looked at her, instead seemed concerned as he asked, “Are you alright?”

Her breath hitched as she inhaled, recalling what’d just happened and being unable to form a response with her current tangle of emotions and the distractions of her body. It wasn’t just her bruised gland, her joints felt weak and loose, skin tingling, and she was hot enough to sweat. With how horribly she felt, if Sylvain hadn’t had his arms wrapped around her so securely, Ingrid likely would’ve tried to crawl into a hole somewhere. So, Ingrid answered, “…n-no.”

Felix’s frown hardened and amber eyes narrowed. “Would you rather be alone?”

It took a moment to really think about it. How it meant losing the shared warmth and this room that smelled like her closest friends. The thought of them leaving her alone to suffer like this, had Ingrid blinking back tears. “No.”

She swallowed down a whimper as Felix’s hands left her face, but he’d turned and was striding towards the door still smelling sour with anger. “You both stay here. I’m going to pen that boar before he hurts someone else,” he said before slamming the door shut behind him.

“C’mon, let’s get comfortable.” Sylvain let out a long, tired breath but his hold never faltered as he carried her to a corner of the candlelit room where the two beds had been pushed together. He didn’t let go of Ingrid but rearranged her onto his lap as he settled on the mattress with his back against the wall.

Unable to stop shivering, Ingrid half-sobbed, “M-My cloak…”

“Ssshh-shh, it’s fine.” Sylvain’s arm around her tightened, his free hand gently stroking her hair. “The front catch ripped, but Felix can fix it good as new.”

He coddled her and she soaked it up like a sponge, needing the physical contact, reassuring words, and his comforting warmth and scent. Instinctually she clung to him, pressing her face into the curve of his sternum, her ear over the steady beat of his heart. His hand pet the messy strands of her hair, smoothing them down, over and over. Eventually the icy terror and adrenaline wore off, more self-awareness slowly filtering back. It had her realizing Dimitri’s heat pheromones and the bite must’ve throw her own hormones into the worst mock-rut she’d ever endured.

What a mess her attempt to help had ended in, with her the one needing tending instead of contributing. Deserving reprimands, she muttered, “I’m an idiot.”

“Hey, don’t talk about my friend like that. I happen to think she’s pretty smart.” Sylvain’s hand shifted to the back of her head, carefully tilting so that she saw his smile. When he leaned in, Ingrid wasn’t scared and didn’t tense up, but she was surprised as he pressed a light kiss to her forehead.

Even that barest contact sent sudden a wave of longing through her, a pleasant ache gathering low in her belly. The mock-rut had Ingrid’s body tingling all over, aching to be touched. Before this moment Ingrid hadn’t wanted to think of Sylvain differently, as someone who could be a tender lover, instead of an Alpha man who just craved and indulged. Now the thought of her friend withdrawing his attentions had her fingers digging into the fabric of his shirt, clutching handfuls into her fists.

It had her sitting up and brushing her lips to Sylvain’s, letting loose a whine when he pulled back to blink in confusion even as he pulled her a little tighter against him.

“Ingrid…?”

“Please,” Ingrid said, voice pleading and hungry, yearning. “Tend me?”

Chapter Text

Ingrid felt breathless as she watched Sylvain’s pupils dilate until there was only the scarcest ring of brown around the black. His throat visibly bobbed with a swallow, before he said, “Ingrid, this isn’t-”

“Don’t you dare call me rut-addled!” Although she admitted to herself that her body felt hot and too much— tight, like her skin didn’t fit right. The bruise on her neck wasn’t the only thing throbbing either.

With a shaky exhale, Sylvain shook his head. “Not just that. Dimitri’s bite likely ruptured your gland, so your body’s preparing to be mated.”

Mated. That meant lying together and joining their bodies, coupling, rutting. The thought of spreading her legs and taking his knot sent a flush of warmth through her, aching for it. Her mind understood that her friend had brought it up as a detriment, a warning, but her mock-rut bolstered instincts that just wanted him to make good on that promise.

“When I eat because I’m hungry, my enjoyment of the food isn’t false. This isn’t so different,” Ingrid said, flexing so that her front pressed flush to his.

Sylvain’s smile had a self-deprecating edge to it as he leaned a little away. “I know I’ve no place to argue, but it should be more than scratching an itch.”

Her hands kneaded in the cloth of his shirt, she fought the urge to whine as she asked, “Is it so bad that I want this?”

“Of course not, I just,” his tongue wetted his lips and he swallowed again. “I don’t want you to have any regrets about us.” His arm brought her back against him as he leaned and placed a brief kiss on her temple.

Again, Ingrid shivered with the contact but knew it’d take more than just words to convince Sylvain that she was ready. So she forced her body to turn around, his hold going loose around her but comfortingly not letting go entirely. Once she was sitting in his lap, her back to his chest, she reached down. “I’ve been holding back, haven’t I?”

Whatever his reply quickly stuttered into stunned silence as Ingrid raised the hem of her nightshirt to her waist. Satisfied that she had his undivided attention Ingrid slid her hand under her leggings, wriggling to both facilitate her reach and tease him. Her smallclothes were already damp as she slipped her fingers past and touched the place between her legs already sweetly aching. Wasting no time she parted her folds and began moving a finger inside herself.

"Ingrid," Sylvain's voice was husky as he demanded, "What're you doing?"

“That time I saw you and Felix rutting...” Her finger slipped in and out of her core with slick, wet sounds. She only half-stifled her pleased noises at the direct stimulation. “I’d wanted to touch myself, like this.”

Her body was wet, willing, and Ingrid’d had enough lonely nights to know what felt best, finger thrusting while her thumb feathered over stiffening nub at her apex. Only Sylvain's presence and the knowledge that he was watching her every move, the smell of his spicy scent spiking alongside her building arousal, made her motions falter. Yet for some reason it wasn’t enough, even as she slipped in a second finger it wasn’t enough to build beyond the hollow ache. Ingrid felt feverish with arousal, the hormones of mock-rut leaving her both oversensitive and desperate.

She let loose a whine as climax eluded her. “Please, I need it! I-”

The arm at her waist suddenly pulled tight, and a growl rumbled in her ear. “Allow me.”

With surprising speed Sylvain’s hand darted beneath her leggings and smallclothes, until his calloused palm cupped the back of her own hand. Ingrid had begun withdrawing but his fingers wrapped over hers, sliding them back through her soaked curls and between her swollen folds. Their fingers moved together and traced her shape with a slow, teasing speed as he directed her hand with a firm grip. The combined touch was insistent but never harsh, and soon had her panting and swallowing down involuntary moans. When he found the nub at her apex, Ingrid gasped and her hips bucked into their hands as he began to circle their combined fingers around it.

"You like that?" Sylvain's arm drew tight as his weight settled fully against her as he curled closer. Her stomach clenched as she felt how hard his cock was, straining against his breeches and pressed to her covered backside. Thankfully, he kept clear of the bruised side of her neck which made it easier to forget and concentrate on good things.

Tongue-tied with pleasure Ingrid nodded, desperate that Sylvain didn’t cease touching her. Mercifully, when he did pause it was to lace their wet fingers, pointing one of hers, covering it with one of his own, and then sliding the two into her core— they both groaned at her wet, tight heat. The feel of their fingers together was thick inside her, and the rest of their hands pressed against her mound, the heel of her palm in his rubbing over her nub. The sheer sensation of it had Ingrid panting and mewling, especially as Sylvain directed their fingers to thrust inside her while rocking his hips against hers with the motion.

This was what Ingrid needed: another’s touch, surrounded by their scent, and to be teased in a rhythm as primal as the pounding tides of the sea. Pleasure was building past the empty ache of mock-rut, and when Ingrid closed her eyes, she was consumed by the sensations. There was no disturbed Dimitri, no war, only her body and the hollowness inside ready to be filled. It was disarming how she easily let go of those burdens and gave into instinctual desires and carnal pleasure.

Yet she knew it could be better, her own hand and clothing hampering his hand’s movements. She wanted to feel that pleasure everywhere, for that sweet pressure to keep building as Sylvain moved against her. So, Ingrid tugged their interlaced hands back and ignored Sylvain’s plaintive whine, instead she hooked her fingers at the band of her leggings and soaked smallclothes then pushed them down until she was able to part her thighs wider.

“Please, Alpha,” she begged, holding her nightshirt out of the way, not quite able to catch her breath.

A strong vibration rumbled through Sylvain's chest and he purred, "Good girl."

She felt his calloused fingers press against the wet curls between her legs, and sighed happily as he set to touching her again. Everything was tender, sensitive, and eager as he fondled Ingrid, stroked her folds with intense dedication, she was practically dripping with slick.

His lips pressed to the skin of her flushed face, as his fingers plied soft, gentle circles against her stiff nub. Sylvain murmured against her cheek, “You’re going to come for me.”

“Yes, yes,” She panted, wanting it, eyes falling shut. Her body shook with tension and so close she could almost taste the impending climax.

Ingrid moaned aloud as his fingers pressed against her apex before sliding and pushing down until Sylvain slipped two thick fingers inside her core. He pressed into her, stretching his fingers reach until he had nothing more to give and her legs fell open further at the abrupt fullness. The sensation felt so deep inside her it was as if he could caress her entire body with one swipe of his fingers.

“Look at me, darling girl.”

It was such a gentle command Ingrid couldn’t help but open her eyes. He’d hooked his chin over her shoulder and his darkened gaze had her shivering. Ingrid gasped and squirmed as Sylvain’s fingers pulled out and plunged in, faster and faster, and she might’ve sobbed as his thumb danced a circle around her nub. His body was grinding against hers with the rhythm of his hand.

“That’s right,” he let out a purr and nuzzled her neck. “Come for your Alpha.”

He pressed and she felt herself stretched as he fit another finger inside her slick core. Then his hand turned upwards, three fingers curling toward the rest of his fist balled between her thighs. She felt the tips of Sylvain’s fingers cup forward, brushing a spot inside her passage that sent pure pleasure shooting through her entire body. Not one but several climaxes cascaded through her body, washing away everything but that natural high.

After what might’ve an eternity or a few moments, she floated back down to earth. Breast heaving Ingrid trembled with the aftershocks, and the bedsheets twisted beneath them as she lay back against the Alpha man. Sylvain drew his hand free from her still spasming passage with a slow, slick motion. Only now, with the satiation of the mock-rut hormones that’d thrown her into a frenzy, did she again notice how one of her scent glands throbbed and hurt— but she did not regret what they’d just done. In fact, Ingrid could’ve been sore all over and she would’ve wanted more.

It was why she didn’t resist or protest as Sylvain tugged the leggings and smalls down from around her knees. Instead, Ingrid lifted her lower half, letting the fabric slide past her ankles and easily out of the way. He pulled everything free of her legs, then she felt his other hand moving against her rear as Sylvain unfastened the ties of his breeches— then the musky smell intensified as the hard shaft of his bare cock bobbed between the gap of her thighs.

For a moment she simply stared, leaning forward and tilting her hips back to get a better look at all of him. The sac of his stones hung heavy below, while the ruddy skin of the shaft was a little darker than his overall skin tone, the tip was a flushed shade of red, and around the base was a thick band even darker than the head, almost purple. Despite never having seen a naked Alpha man before she knew the base was where his knot would swell, to tie his body with his partner’s when he spent. Fascinated she wrapped a hand around it, felt the throb of his heartbeat against her palm, but he gave a startled squawk and her wrist was snatched up.

“Easy! You can’t just grab a man’s cock with no warning.” Sylvain chided and seemed to be imitating the stern tone she often employed to lecture him.

Ingrid felt her cheeks color with a blush, but she refused to play coy. “Don’t you want your turn?”

Sylvain’s gaze grew heavy-lidded and full of lusty promises as he fairly growled, “Right now, you’re too sensitive for what I really want to do to you.” Her blush intensified at his words and as his other arm settled her hips snugly in his lap. “Let me take my pleasure like this.”

The warmth from his dense, muscular chest crowded against her back had Ingrid sweating. Releasing her wrist Sylvain’s hands nudged her legs together, the flesh of her inner thighs closing around his erect cock. He let out a pleased sigh then placed both hands on her outer thighs and pushed them together more firmly as his hips began to rock away then back, where she felt the entire hot length sliding against her slickened skin. The motion caused his cock’s flushed tip to occasionally peak out only to disappear back between her thighs as he settled into a rhythm of rocking.

The motion wasn’t truly smooth as Ingrid was bounced in Sylvain’s lap, with the grip of his hands pulling her down to meet his hips slapping up against her backside. While he was right that she was still oversensitive from climaxing, each slide of his cock just narrowly brushed past her center and left Ingrid craving more than a tease of contact as the redhead thrust into her thighs. From the way his breathing grew heavy and white beads of seed smeared from his tip onto her skin, Ingrid knew he was enjoying her body— that thought had her gripping his forearms and pressing her upper legs together as tightly as she could.

“Yes, that's it,” He huskily praised. “So good, so gooooooooood.”

Soon Sylvain’s rhythm went choppy as his breathing grew quick and strained. At the height of his thrusts she felt the base of his cock beginning to bulge and each throbbing twitch of his shaft. So it was no surprise when calloused fingers dug into the flesh of her thighs, pushing them together as tightly as possible as with a loud moan his body went tense as a drawn bowstring. She felt warm knot on his twitching cock barely sandwiched between her legs as he came undone, watched thick ropes of hot seed spurt from the red tip— more and more spilling —coating her thighs in white.

Breathing heavily as he finished spending, Sylvain rested his head against her shoulder, his body trembling while he came down from his climax. He finally released the strong pressure on Ingrid’s thighs, one hand stroking at gentle circles at her knee while wrapping the other arm around her waist to keep their sweaty bodies held flush together. Although thwarted arousal burned low in her gut and her bruised gland twinged, mostly she was stunned at having witnessed a man coming for the first time. She couldn’t help but marvel at how hot and slippery his seed felt on her skin, how it slowly dripped down her legs, how the air was thick not only with his spicy scent and Alpha musk but also the distinct smell of sated spendings. She felt the bulge of his knot throbbing as his tip continued to lazily dribble beads of seed, the shaft was still erect where it nestled between her closed thighs.

“You’re still hard?”

Sylvain hummed, and answered with an all too pleased voice, “Yes, and I will be until my knot goes down.”

“You didn’t knot me,” Ingrid said, trying to keep the confusion and disappointment from her voice.

Sylvain raised his head enough to glance at her, blinking slowly before he said, “Yesterday you didn’t want to smell like Felix and I, let alone take our claim. Do you really want me to knot you?”

He was right, she’d been of a different mind not a few hours ago. But her feelings had changed fast— or perhaps she’d simply admitted how she’d felt all along. Ingrid shrugged, admitting, “It’s different now… I’d like to try.”

Sylvain blinked again then broke into a smile, brown eyes gleaming with excitement. The redhead sat up; one arm hooked loosely around her as he leaned his weight back on his other hand. The sudden change in position forced her own hands to brace as she toppled onto the bed and being tucked against his side. When she glared, he just grinned. “Well, no point in trying to force a tie after the fact. That’s just uncomfortable for everyone involved.” His voice pitched low, almost sultry as he said, “You’ll have to ask your other Alpha to knot you, Ingrid.”

She only had time to wrinkle her brow at the redhead when the door swung open. Scrabbling to pull her nightshirt back into place, she thought how this would look— an unattached Beta woman in bed with claimed Alpha man, her father would likely demand them bonded if he found out should Seteth or Alois or anyone less discreet than Byleth walk in on them. Her anxiety eased when Ingrid found that it wasn’t any of those people but Felix that'd returned. The sight of him brought everything back, why she’d been brought to this room in the first place, and had her asking, “Felix, is Dimitri-”

“The boar’s on a rampage.” Ingrid’s heart sank, but before she could try to gather herself and stand Felix had kicked the door closed behind him. “The professor, Sir Gilbert, and my father are dealing with it.”

As the raven-haired man walked further into the candlelit room Sylvain huffed out a laugh, she felt his chest shake against her side. “Got you good, didn’t he? You’re in no state to help.”

Felix pulled a face but made no reply, instead unbuckling and setting aside his belt and swords.

The redhead’s words had Ingrid looking him over for wounds, asking, “Are you hurt?”

Their friend shook his head, and began tugging off his tall boots. His clothes were rumpled and obviously hastily thrown on as it was only his undershirt, breeches, and footwear, but she didn’t see any tears or blood stains. Only when the second boot hit the floor and Felix righted himself to remove his shirt, did she spy how the fabric tented at his crotch.

As the raven-haired man drew nearer to them, she noticed the flush along his cheekbones, sweat at his temples, and the quick breaths he was taking. Then she smelled that citrusy zing and Alpha musk— Felix was in a full-blown rut. The pink starburst of a claiming bite was prominent on his rosily flushed neck, on the opposite side of Sylvain’s. He’d come to his claimed partner to take care of it, the realization smashed through her lingering arousal and hazy longings with disappointment nipping at its heels. Still she needed to leave before she went into mock-heat then riled him up and distracted, which had her moving against the redhead’s hold and trying to get away from his side.

Except the arm at her waist went tight, pulling and anchoring her to his side. “Hey, Ingrid, quit squirming.”

“Sylvain,” she almost whined, exasperated by his thick-headedness. “I should go-”

“You’re not going out there,” Felix’s practically growled words cut through her own. Then he abruptly knelt on the bed before Ingrid, hands to either side as he leaned in a way that caged her between the two Alpha men.

The strong zesty smell of him renewed the low ache in her belly, while the impossible idea of staying in this room and being rut, being knotted, made her knees feel weak. But outwardly Ingrid glared even as she felt herself blushing. “Cause you’ll stop me?”

Felix nods, once, face unmoving expect for his eyes which were trailing over every measure her. Though she’d pulled her nightshirt back down it offered the flimsiest cover, she must’ve looked a disheveled mess and smelled like one too. Sylvain and herself were barely half-dressed and even she could smell their sated arousal in the air— his seed was cooling on her thighs, for Goddess’ sake! She was the interloper and Alphas were always possessive of those who bore their claim mark.

The possibility that he was staring for other reasons had her swallowing thickly, remembering how not everywhere in the world was limited to only one bondmate. Shaking off such fantasies, Ingrid made herself ask, “Aren’t I in your way?”

That had amber eyes meeting her own, his expression morphed into annoyed disbelief.

Again, she felt and heard Sylvain laughing. “He’s not here for me, Ingrid. So, who do you think he wants to rut?”

Ingrid’s eyes went wide, her blush intensified alongside the low ache, her heart speeding as her own senses sharpened in the cloud of rut pheromones. If this kept up, him smelling so good, she was going to go into mock-heat and end up throwing herself at him. There was nothing wrong with intimate tendings, especially with those one trusted. Yet the niggling doubt of his hormone-ridden instincts wanting whoever was at hand when he already worked so well with his current partner had her hesitating. Even if she wanted it, she should offer them an out.

“Felix, I appreciate everything you and Sylvain have done for me. But if this is a one-time thing, I should leave.” Ingrid struggled to get the words out, to not tilt her head in a show of submission. “Everyone understands if an Alpha or Omega loses their head to pheromones. But I’m a Beta! I’m not, I’m n-not—”

Felix’s mouth crashed against her own, just as jarring as the last time, his fingers again threading through her hair. He took advantage of her mouth’s open state to plunge his tongue inside, tangling with her own. It was hot, insistent, almost belligerent as he didn’t give her a moment to breathe until her head was almost spinning. She took air in shaky gasps when he finally released her mouth, her tastebuds reeling at the overwhelming flood of lemons and the low ache having graduated into heated arousal.

Felix spoke against her lips, with the barest domineering hints of Alpha tone, “You belong with us.”

“He’s right, this isn’t just about riding out a rut.” Sylvain placed a nipping kiss behind Ingrid’s ear that had her breath hitching. “We want to be more than that with you, all the time.”

Sylvain kept an arm around her waist even as he moved to kiss Felix as well. Watching her friends’ lips meet and passionately move together while both their hands were touching her had Ingrid blushing, they were so close she nearly went cross-eyed but couldn’t tear her eyes away. The arousal low in her belly went from simmering to boiling, and had her fingertips digging into the sheets below them.

When Sylvain turned toward her and leaned in, she met him halfway. The thrill that slid down Ingrid’s spine was a heady novelty, the difference between the Alpha men felt clear as day. Sylvain’s mouth was softer on hers than Felix’s, less sharp somehow. The raven-haired man was given to rough kisses that sparked against her skin, while the redhead’s slow kisses burned through her like a steady flame. She liked both their kisses, reveled in the attention— didn’t need hormones as an excuse to want more.

Even if this was only once, she wanted it.

“Show me,” she breathed once he broke the kiss, meeting both of their eyes.

Then she nearly swallowed her tongue as Felix splayed his hands over either side of her ribs. Ingrid grew intensely aware of how, like the rest of her body, her breasts ached for touch with her nipples already peaked. She wasn’t given time for embarrassment though, as his hands cupped her breasts through the thin fabric of her nightshirt. She choked out a moan when he squeezed, her own hands fisting in the bedsheets, while the redhead hovered over her shoulder to watch.

“Soft,” the raven-haired man murmured as his hands kneaded, made her moan.

“Mmmhm, she’s soft and perky and just right for a handful.” Sylvain’s hands gathered her nightshirt and began coaxing the hem up and up. “C’mon, Ingrid, no need to hide.” After she shakily raised her arms and let him pull the cloth over her head and off, the redhead whispered into her ear, quietly enough only she could hear. “You’re Felix’s first woman.”

Those words sent a jolt through Ingrid, even more so than the bare hands touching the naked skin of her breasts. Out of the three of them, Sylvain had the most experience when it came to coupling and after having climaxed under his guidance, she had no doubt that he was a skilled lover. But she’d never tended or been tended intimately like this before, as much as she wanted it now. The fact that this would also be new in a way for Felix, strangely somewhat eased her nervousness over his participation. Yet the raven-haired man kept setting her on edge, dragging out moans, sighs, and shivers that she hadn’t intended to give. As his thumbs slid firmly over her nipples, Ingrid couldn’t help but arch into his touch, silently begging for more.

Suddenly those hands withdrew as she fell flat onto the bed, Sylvain’s bracing form gone from her side. Her bruised scent gland twinged as she turned her head to search, but quickly found the redhead reclining within arm’s reach. Her mouth went dry at the way he was intensely staring, propped up on an elbow with one hand lazily touching his half-hard cock. Then a big hand on her knee had Ingrid looking up at the raven-haired man hovering over her.

She’d been in a mock-rut but Sylvain tended her and had satisfied those initial urges, so it was already starting to fade. Now Felix’s proximity and heady rut pheromones were coaxing out the beginnings of a mock-heat, and the conflicting rush of hormones had her feeling more than a little at-war within herself. It was unfair how well being flushed, sweaty, and half-naked suited both her friends.

“Spread your legs.” Felix’s words had too much certainty to be a question, yet weren’t sharp enough to be an order. If Ingrid refused, this would likely stop right there…but if she obeyed, the promises in his heated gaze would be fulfilled. Blushing, she did as he said, forcing her wobbly limbs to obey until she was on her back with coated thighs splayed open in clear invitation.

Shockingly he didn’t immediately descend upon her, instead sending Sylvain a glare and grumbling, “You made such a mess.”

“And enjoyed every moment of it.” There was a smile in the scoundrel’s voice.

Ingrid didn’t appreciate being ignored while on display and frowned her hardest as Felix’s gaze turned back to her.

He let out a little huff of breath. “Will you stop pouting if I clean you up?”

Felix bent low at the waist with his hands gripping the back of her knees which had Ingrid tensing, ready to tell him off. Instead a gasp escaped her as his mouth opened and his hot tongue began lapping up the cooled seed on her skin. The sensation was so strange, so wet, and each swipe of his tongue had her skin prickling. While getting covered in seed and having it licked off might’ve disgusted in concept, it was wickedly tantalizing in practice. Felix hadn’t even finished with one thigh and she was whining and squirming against his hold, desperate to feel his mouth elsewhere. Her hands had flown to his head, fingers digging into the long raven strands, but he didn’t falter even as the tie in his hair came undone.

“Give her a taste,” Sylvain prodded.

Felix ran his tongue through the untouched mess on her other thigh, then he leaned over Ingrid until his mouth slanted against hers. She parted her lips and his tongue swept in, covered by a thick, tacky substance. It was salty, slightly bitter, and had a strong musky aftertaste that made her taste buds tingle like Alpha pheromones did. Only after she’d swallowed Sylvain’s seed did Felix break the kiss, both of them panting heavily.

“Stop t-teasing!” She managed, body in the throes of mock-heat and her core throbbing with the need to have him.

“What do you want?” Felix growled.

She’d been running, scared of the change. Thinking they couldn’t really mean it, that it was better they stay friends rather than risk more. But right then Ingrid didn’t care what her father expected, or that there’d be whispers about the three of them— she wanted this, it was more than worth it.

Recalling what she and Sylvain had spoken of, what he’d told her, Ingrid set lingering doubts aside and declared with certainty. “Rut me, Alpha, I want your knot.”

She saw Felix’s nostrils flare, bare chest flexing as he breathed in deep, and he looked ready to devour her whole.

“The look on your face!” Sylvain laughed. But his own smile was roguish as he sat up and reached a hand to smooth that raven hair out of the other man’s face.

Felix practically snapped apart the ties to his breeches, she licked her lips as his erect cock was bared and revealed to be just as big as his partner’s. Felix had hardly settled his weight before her knees were hooked over his arms and spread her further, then he pushed until she was practically folded in half. Ingrid was flexible enough that it didn’t hurt, but she was taken aback by the suddenness and how the position had her upper back and shoulders bracing all of the Alpha man’s weight. She lost her breath as Sylvain was the one who swept through her sodden curls and parted her folds, guiding Felix to her entrance. The tip of his cock breached her core, hard thickness of his shaft practically gliding from how slick the earlier climax and following play had left her but as he pushed she’d never had anything so deep inside. It had her hissing, fighting the urge to go tense and bear down on the penetration.

A loud growl from Felix caused her eyes to pry open, she saw that Sylvain had caught Felix's hips and kept the other Alpha still. The redhead was whispering something into the raven-haired man’s ear, but she couldn’t make it out. When brown eyes caught her looking, he smiled and gave a wink saying, “This is going to be bigger than my fingers, so try to relax.”

Sylvain’s hands withdrew to stroke over the bare skin of the other Alpha’s hips, torso, and shoulders as Felix began by rocking his hips slowly. Ingrid had to swallow down whimpers at the thick, hard heat moving within her. Yet as he kept the easy pace, the throbbing ache steadily returned until it stopped seeming overwhelming and instead a pleasant sort of fullness.

Sylvain kept his hands on Felix but from the way his heavy-lidded eyes watched, he seemed to appreciate the vantage point as the raven-haired Alpha coupled with her. His voice was husky as he asked, “Do you like it, Ingrid? Is his cock good?”

On the receiving end of a particularly deep thrust, she only managed a nod and noise of agreement.

“How’s her cunny feel, Felix?”

“Wet. Hot.” He grunted, pace faltering. “Fits like a glove.”

Ingrid wasn’t sure how such crude language could send a pleasurable shudder through her, but it did. Suddenly the redhead had moved to kneel beside her and his big hands reached out, calloused fingers dragging over the sensitive peaks of her nipples which caused her hips bucked for more. At that the raven-haired Alpha man pulled nearly all the way out, then slid his entire length inside in one rough, insistent stroke, filling her up immediately. Ingrid cried out with sharp pleasure; hands only able to reach Felix’s forearms but her nails scraped across the skin there.

“She liked that! Go hard and fast.”

The musky smell of Felix’s rut only thickened in the air as he set a harsh rhythm. Felix’s hands moved to grip her by the hips allowing him to pull Ingrid against each of his driving thrusts, his hips pounding against hers. Each of those hard thrusts reverberated through her body with sparks of pleasure, had her moaning, clawing, and canting to meet his motions. There was no gentleness in his movements, though Felix’s amber eyes were wide open and hungrily taking in Ingrid’s every reaction. Meanwhile Sylvain’s big hands cupped her breasts, making her flinch and whine by squeezing and flicking his thumbs over her nipples.

Under their attentions, a slow tightening in her belly shortened her breaths and she strained for the building climax. The tightening became a throb; in her core, and inside her, a longing that ached and ached. Ingrid couldn’t imagine what her expression was, sure that desperation was written all over her face, her moans wantonly loud. Then one of Sylvain’s hand skimmed down her belly, between their bodies, and put a firm circling pressure against her aching nub. That and the stretch of Felix’s cock in her core had Ingrid toppling over the edge with scream— body arching, core clenching, toes pointing as she climaxed hard.

There were two loud, masculine groans. “Look at that, just beautiful.”

Unlike her first climax that night she didn’t quite float away with the pleasure, as Felix kept thrusting even as she spasmed and grew slicker around his cock, his hands tightening on the flesh of her hips. Sylvain’s fingers too kept rubbing, and Ingrid’s breath hitched as a second climax took her, oversensitive yet hurtling towards that lofty high. A thought of the fabled stamina Alphas in rut possessed— doing this for hours, for days —half-convinced her she’d die like this, writhing in pleasure.

“Too much, t-too much!” Ingrid whined and panted until Sylvain’s hands withdrew and Felix’s hips slowed to a roll. Then she locked eyes with the Alpha man still inside her and begged for an end, for him to come. “Please Alpha, knot me. I want it, I-I need it. Please, please-”

She felt his cock twitch, then he was leaning in and nipping at her collarbone. Felix spoke in a rough whisper, “Say my name.”

“F-Felix,” Ingrid panted, threading her fingers through the dark strands of his loose hair. “Felix!”

Over his shoulder she saw Sylvain move behind him, flushing hotter as she felt Felix’s hips flex when the other Alpha’s big hands cupped his rear. “Go on, tie her proper.” The redhead growled, tucking his face near the raven-haired man’s rosy neck. “Ruin Ingrid for anyone but us.”

Felix snapped into a thrust and picked up the pace, letting out heavy breaths and groans that sounded more along the lines of growls. Ingrid tilted her hips so that he could settle in just a little deeper in her core, the abrupt contact taking on a tinge of pain as his thrusts became more powerful— sending sparks of pleasure through her each time. Sylvain was licking and noisily sucking the other man’s neck, right over his swollen scent gland. Felix’s breathing grew heavy and ragged, his hips only barely keeping rhythm.

Her core clenched around his cock as his knot slipped into her for the first time, still too small to catch. Then she watched Sylvain open his mouth wide and bite down over the old claiming scar; her hips quivered when she took the knot on the next hard thrust, big enough that it caught when he tried to withdraw. Sylvain went with him as Felix hunched forward, lifted her leg and slung it over his free shoulder, crooked her other over his elbow as his hands clutched at the bedding— this angle made his tip kiss her on that perfect spot, as his base swelled and filled her to the brim.

He knotted her in full, their bodies tying with hips sealed, and for the first time Felix let out a low moan. She felt him throbbing and spending inside her, seed coming in thick, hot bursts which his Alpha anatomy prevented from running out of her. That liquid heat slid further up and deeper inside her than anything had gone before, rushing over her most sensitive place. The hollow ache that’d made her skin itch was gone, instead she felt entirely filled with him— cock, knot, and seed. Her body shuddered with a not-quite-climax, limbs weak and entirely useless as the redhead got off and the raven-haired man carefully lowered her legs to wrap them around his waist with their hips stuck together.

“Ingrid,” Felix’s hoarse voice had her looking at him, his expression was soft and open in a way that rarely occurred these days. They lay covered in sweat and fluids sprawled together across the beds, sheets below them soaked with their pleasure, while he seemed content to lie still and cover her. Her nipples dragged against his chest with every breath, then she felt the rolling vibrations as Felix gave an almost rusty-sounding purr.

“You did well.” One of Sylvain’s hands grabbed one her own, their fingers entwining as he kissed the back of it. “Taking such a big, mean knot.”

Felix’s eyes flicked to the other man, expression shifting to tired annoyance, but he didn’t stop purring or try to swat at the redhead. She didn’t fight the laugh the bubbled up at their antics, sated and too relaxed to try and intervene. The sounds of her mirth drew two pairs of eyes, and eventually both men helped maneuver her onto her side so that the redhead could drape over her back with the raven-haired man against her front, both of them purring as they waited out the tie.

As Ingrid laid between them, she realized that she smelled mated. Scent marked by both of Alpha men, knotted by one of them. The air was thick with their scents and pheromones all mingled together: sweat, her slick, their seed. It should have felt filthy, but instead it was reassuring— them together. As Ingrid sleepily relaxed, she knew that was how she’d like it to be from now on.

 


 

Waking up to a throbbing gland and sore muscles she’d never used before, had Ingrid reconsidering that last thought. But as she turned towards the noise on the shaking bed and found Sylvain’s head bobbing to take Felix’s cock into his mouth with one hand fisted around the base and the other's hands buried in his fiery hair, her discomforts were forgotten. Brown eyes glance her way and the redhead hummed, making the raven-haired man give a choked moan. He pulled back, free hand moving to stroke what shaft was bared, a spurt of seed landing on his face as the tip slipped from his swollen lips. Once he’d sat back on his heels, Sylvain opened his mouth and showed her the white pooling over his tongue.

"Hungry?" Felix asked, eyes burning and voice as rough as gravel.

Though she blushed, Ingrid didn’t hesitate to crawl over, kiss, and lick up Felix’s salty seed. Ingrid decided a few aches and pains were worth discovering this new world. It took another mock-heat and two more knottings before Felix’s rut finally broke.

Chapter Text

A strange sort of tickle that drew Ingrid out of slumber and made her aware of how tired she was and how painfully her muscles ached, as if she'd done drills for hours. Only as her eyes fluttered open and landed upon a naked Sylvain lay sprawled out next to her asleep and lightly snoring, that she remembered— how she'd been in mock-rut and Sylvain had tended her, how Felix'd been in rut and they’d tended him. Ingrid had coupled with a man for the first time and been knotted more than once, which explained why she felt so tender inside and sore about the hips.

The tickling sensation had her eyes turning and she found a kneeling Felix running a damp cloth over her bare skin of her back, just as unclothed himself.

Ingrid asked with a voice rough with sleep, "What're you doing?"

“Tending.” When she blinked with incomprehension, he clarified, "Cleaning you up."

She almost told him to just let her sleep, but thinking on it she had passed out coated in not only sweat but unmentionable fluids in unmentionable places. Suddenly there was a great appeal to getting clean, even if it required her to be awake and achy. Ingrid had to swallow down whimpers as she tried to roll over, but Felix’s arm supporting her shoulders made turning much less of a struggle— yet even that act had her breathing hard as if winded. She couldn’t help but feel irritated noticing the raven-haired man looked none the worse for wear, despite having been the one ridden by hormones not so long ago.

"Felix, how're you not exhausted?"

He shrugged. "It's the rut. I won't want sleep or food until the pheromones are totally out of my system. Once it is, it'll all catch up to me at once."

He then set to wiping the damp cloth over her front, and Ingrid’s skin felt sticky enough from dried sweat and other things that she didn’t protest. The coolness of the cloth and sensitivity of her tender body, however, did make her shiver. Amber eyes flickered to meet hers on occasion, but his expression remained calm almost contented as Felix worked with prosaic, efficient motions. Eventually she relaxed under his care, focusing on it rather than bodily aches, and had to battle back drowsiness.

Only after he’d wrung and rewetted the cloth a second time, setting to wiping her collarbones and shoulders, did the cloth skim the side of her neck and sent a flare of pain through her. Ingrid abruptly jolted awake, curling in on herself and hissing through her teeth as the sharp pain dulled to throbbing which radiated from one scent gland— right where Dimitri had bitten her.

Felix had caught her when she’d flinched and pulled her against himself, free hand gingerly brushing under her jaw. His voice was tight as he asked, “Does it still hurt?”

Busy catching her breath Ingrid nodded, though the action sent twinging discomfort from the bruised gland. Relieved when Felix didn’t actually touch it, just moved his hand to cup the back of her head, she allowed him to draw her higher and rearrange positions until they sat together. Although the movement renewed the soreness in her muscles, she appreciated the warmth of his body and leaned against the solidity of him. Ingrid didn’t even notice how she was tilting her head until fine strands of hair brushed the skin of her neck— and then his lips lightly kissed.

Unable to forget the last time a mouth had been there, Ingrid went tense. However, Felix’s hold on her didn’t tighten or restrict, instead he pulled back a little and murmured, “Ingrid, I won’t hurt you. Trust me.”

Ingrid had to swallow a lump in her throat but replied, “I-I do, Felix.” Fighting her own nervous body, she ignored the twinging bruise and exposed her neck to him further in a show of submission, of trust.

His chest began to vibrate with a rusty purr as he nuzzled against her uninjured scent gland. The Alpha man’s mouth never opened wide and he didn’t nip, he stuck to gently rubbing and occasionally pressing chaste kisses. The careful pressure felt good, soon had Ingrid relaxing and sighing. It soothed her, made her stiff sore muscles go loose, she simply listened to his purr and breathed in the citrusy scent of him. After a long, hazy while he finally stopped and backed off but Ingrid was perfectly content to stay where she was against him.

“Did that help?”

Focusing, she noticed that the pain in her bruised gland had dulled significantly. “Yeah… but how?”

Felix shrugged, tucking stray strands of hair behind her ear. “Scent glands normally feel good with stimulation, even biting. But you were attacked-” He cut himself off with a growl, face pinching with anger while his hands clenched into fists.

Relaxed and feeling safe as she was, Ingrid caught his hands with hers and pressed at his fingers until he opened them. Keeping her thumbs pressed against his palms, she said, “Dimitri hasn’t been well and he was heat-addled. Leaving myself vulnerable, I should’ve known better-”

“Don’t be stupid!” Felix said and she felt as both his hands spasm, his body tensing. “You’re loyal and trusting, too much so. But he was the one who lashed out like a wild animal, forced his teeth on you. The betrayal is no fault of yours.”

Ingrid found herself blinking back tears, feeling strangely relieved by his reassurance. Dimitri’s attack had scared her, badly, and she’d been all too willing to take the blame. This didn’t fix anything but she felt better, enough so for a short laugh. “That’s a nice way of calling me naïve. You’re too hard on him, Felix.”

He gave a hard exhale and relaxed. His voice was still strained as he said, “You forgive that beast too easily.”

“Dimitri is our friend.” Ingrid looked into his eyes, unflinching. “If we don’t try to help him, who will?”

Felix’s gaze fell away as he grimaced, but she was heartened that he didn’t argue those points. Leaning up, Ingrid pressed a chaste kiss of her own to the corner of his lips and didn’t pull away when his face turned to slant their mouths together. He kissed her without a hint of aggression, closed-mouthed, slow, and gentle, more comforting than tantalizing. She sighed happily when it ended, quite relaxed but again feeling how tired the prior tendings had left her.

Which reminded Ingrid of why he’d woken her in the first place— despite the damp cloth, they were both far from fit for polite society.

“Felix, I want to soak in a tub of hot water. The bathing tent-”

A low growl cut her off. “You’re not leaving.”

Felix abruptly flipped her onto her back, his bare chest against hers, arms and legs to either side, boxing her in and covering with his body like he had each time their bodies had tied. It was such a blatantly possessive move she was momentarily taken aback. Although Omegas were the presentation known to build nests for heat dens and getting upset if the uninvited infringed upon what they considered their territory, it seemed Alphas were just as testy about guarding a rut den— or more precisely what they considered belonging to it. It seemed he hadn’t been lying about still being affected by lingering hormones, but she was out of patience.

“Don’t be stubborn!” Giving a high-pitched growl of her own Ingrid smacked a hand against his bare shoulder, though he didn’t flinch. “This toweling down helped, but it’s not enough to really get me clean!” When he continued to mulishly loom, her own face burned with a blush as she quietly hissed, “Don’t forget you knotted and spilled seed inside me. Not even your fingers can reach deep enough, I need a bath.”

As she spoke she watched as his neck pinkened and turned rosy before the flush finally reached his cheeks. Beside them on the bed Sylvain snorted and shifted in his sleep before snoring again. The raven-haired man had the decency to look sheepish as he gave in. “We’ll dress, then I’ll take you to the bathing tent.”

With a relieved smile Ingrid thanked him, even though Felix couldn’t seem to bring himself to look happy about it.

 


 

“Do sit down.” Manuela ordered, using a no-nonsense tone.

Ingrid wasn’t accustomed to being on the receiving end of that tone, wouldn’t be normally considered disobedient to her elders— but it took all her willpower to walk upright at the moment and the thought of lowering her sore self to sit summoned a whimper to her throat.

“Thank you, but as I said all I need are the herbs for brewing Courtesan’s Tea and the Nightly Blend,” Ingrid replied as calmly as she could. While Manuela was likely the least prudish of the former Professors, every woman and Omega in Fodlan knew that if ingested after coupling Courtesan’s Tea prevented pregnancy and that it was strong enough to apply to after rut or heat tendings. If she began to drink the milder Nightly Blend at the end of each day, it’d act as a similar contraceptive. While Ingrid welcomed the idea of her Alpha lovers turning their attentions to her, the Kingdom was still at war and she didn’t want anything forcing her own hand over the shape this relationship would become.

“Oh, I’ll get you those. But I’m head physician for this camp and it’s my decision that first you need a proper medical looking over.” Maneula leveled a stern look and tapped the seat of a tall wooden stool.

Unwilling to leave without the tea, Ingrid obeyed, flinching despite her best efforts as she forced her over-taxed muscles to lower her body into sitting posture. Once in the seat there was discomfort sitting straight so she had to shift into an uncharacteristically slovenly slump. The way Manuel watched, eyes not on Ingrid’s face— it was obvious the older woman noticed precisely what areas had bothered her.

Manuela nodded, seemingly to herself, and touched the back of her hand to Ingrid’s forehead. “If you’re going to accept the suit of those Alpha noblemen, have one of them study magic and learn a spell for healing. Otherwise tending their ruts will leave you like this each time.” Ingrid’s temperature must’ve increased as a blush rose over her face, but the other woman’s tone remained nonplussed as she lowered her hand and continued, “Omegas have elasticity in their anatomy to handle being knotted multiple times in quick succession, we Betas aren’t so fortunate.”

“How’d you know that I…” It had to be the request for tea. And the fact everyone knew Felix and Sylvain were courting her.

Manuela wryly raised a single well-manicured brow. “Oh honey, you couldn't smell more ravaged by Alphas if you tried.”

If Ingrid’s face had been hot before it was burning now. The fact she smelled like the two of them and like she’d been thoroughly coupled, to the point another Beta could detect it meant that it’d been blatantly obvious to any Alpha or Omega she’d passed by. It wasn’t polite to talk about scents, how someone’s emotions could make it shift and especially in cases like this— when scents mixed and stuck from intimacy. Regardless, this meant their tryst was already no longer a secret, which was strangely liberating… if embarrassing.

“But there's plenty of people in that boat right now,” Manuela quipped, her made-up face containing a strange mixture of flippancy and envy.

Ingrid kept her expression carefully neutral as she realized the older woman was referring to the current state of the camp, or rather the disarray that’d broken out after Dimitri in mid-cycle had run amuck. Normally, the Omega would’ve found a heat den and built a nest but the way the prince had freely moved through the grounds, leading a long chase of those concerned for him, had caused nearly all the Alphas in the army to go into rut and synced a handful of Omegas into their own heats. It was one reason why mid-cycle Omegas were typically guarded and isolated, not only their safety but also that of others.

Ingrid hadn’t been the only wobbly-legged visitor to the bathing tents and neither had Felix been the only over-protective Alpha. While gratefully soaking in a tub of hot water, she’d had to yell at Felix to go back to the room when the territorial posturing had grown absurd. So, the idea that she wasn’t the first and wouldn’t be the last post-tending patient visiting the medical tent only made sense.

“This time my magic can help with your aches and pains.” Manuela’s wistful sigh brought Ingrid back to the present. “But first loosen your collar and let me get a good look at your neck.”

Ignoring the way her hands started shaking, she forced her stiff fingers to undo the buttons on the shirt Felix had lent her and drew the fabric away and exposed her bruised scent gland.

The other woman made a noise of sympathy and leaned in close to examine the injury. "Looks like your tending got intense, but this should heal without complications.”

Her hand raised but not to touch, instead tracing out lines of light until the magic circle was complete and the healing spell washed over Ingrid, reducing the majority of her pains to much more tolerable aches. Those were gone along with all scratches and bruising after the spell was cast a second time.

Ingrid was able to sit straight with a sigh of relief. “Thank you, Professor Manuela.”

The older woman lightly tapped two fingers against her freshly healed gland, and when she didn’t flinch leaned back. “Ingrid, you need to be more careful in the future. If that bite had broken skin, that'd an entirely different story.”

"How so?"

"If someone else's saliva gets into the scent gland it'll change your chemistry, affect your scent and how others smell to you. In creates a sort of innate biological preference for whoever bit you, which is a reason it's considered the first step to bonding."

Ingrid swallowed a sudden lump in her throat and asked, “Would there be complications if more than one person made a claim mark?”

“Oh no, our bodies have lots of scent glands and each one can take in the different chemistry. Little ones at our wrists, larger ones on our neck and upper thighs.” Manuela tapped each mentioned area on her own body to illustrate. “It’s said in the bad old days before Serios, that Alphas lived in packs sharing Omega and Beta mates between themselves. Supposedly it was all claiming and coupling without bonding, less civilized and more like animals.” Her eyes rolled skyward. “Though some Alphas in rut still act little better than that now, the raging knotheads.”

There was the urge to ask if Omegas had ever been known to be the aggressors and just how abnormal such behavior was. But she couldn’t risk exposing the prince, so bit her tongue. Meanwhile Maneula had moved to one of the many supply boxes and fished out what looked to be two satchels. When she walked back, Ingrid could smell the herbs and eagerly accepted them.

“Written instructions for the needed amounts to brew are inside their respective bags.” Ingrid thanked her again, genuinely grateful not only for the teas but also the magical healing and advice. Manuela returned her smile and said with a wink, “From one Beta woman to another, enjoy yourself with those young bucks. But be sure to watch their teeth around more than just your neck.”

 


 

From that night on, one of them was by Ingrid’s side, constantly. Very often it was Felix with patrolling, sparring, or more practical tasks like tallying supplies. Yet when he was called away to strategy meetings or by his father, Sylvain was unfailingly there to accompany her even if he sighed and complained over the menial tasks more often, and whenever she was in the stables to groom her pegasus he managed to find her. It was strangely comforting, though Ingrid wished to think such protection was unnecessary… but it would’ve been a lie to claim the idea of running into Dimitri alone didn’t disturb her on some level.

They were happiest the three of them together though, which was most often achieved during mealtimes, battles, and while sleeping.

Now that Ingrid openly welcomed their courtship and attentions, she shared quarters with her Alpha suitors, whether at the Monastery or a tent on the march. Even without a claiming bite, Ingrid had grown accustomed to their scents and could pick up the subtle changes which came with different emotions. She fell asleep and woke each morning to two handsome men warmly embracing her. It felt surreal after so many years of sleeping alone and had brought back how her younger years had been spent dreaming of being Glenn's bondmate, all the time they could spend together— though they'd all been innocent girlish fantasies, before she'd been aware of what went on behind closed doors and beyond.

Felix and Sylvain couldn't seem to get enough of her. So long as they weren't on the battlefield, no matter the place or time, when there was even the semblance of privacy the Alpha men scented and kissed and fondled, more than once Sylvain had demonstrated his knowledge on discrete trysting. Ingrid enjoyed not only their attentions but the new physicality of their connection, and permitted more than she should. In those moments those Alpha men drove all thoughts of propriety and the stakes of war from her mind, filled her up with themselves and pleasure until she felt giddy as an over-affectionate drunk.

It was a much-needed relief as the march drove them ever farther from home, the stringency in battles mounting. It was something more to fight for, protecting this new precious thing between them unspoken and known all at once. Despite the struggle things seemed better and other improvements happened beyond just the three of them, like taking the bridge, the unexpected reuniting with Dedue, and even besting the Emperor’s personal forces.

Then came Duke Faldarius’ death.

The chaotic retreat away from Gronder plains and the main imperial forces meant that none of them had heard the news until the army had finally reached Myrrdin. The moment they'd been told Felix’s scent had spiked with alarm then he ran until he'd found the wagon that held and transported his father's body. When Sylvain and herself had caught up he’d already been carrying Rodrigue into a shelter by the stables and out of the brewing storm. That'd been hours ago, now the sun had set and rain steadily pelted down cooling even the indoor air, yet the raven-haired man refused to leave.

“Felix, we really should contact the army’s undertaker and get your father shrouded. Would you like me to go fetch Sir Gilbert or the professor?” Sylvain asked, his voice soft with sympathy and his own spicy scent subdued.

Sylvain’s suggestion didn’t merit a reaction, it seemed. Instead the raven-haired man simply stood beside his father’s corpse, staring down at his bloodless unmoving face. Despite holding himself eerily still Felix’s expression was frantic and in denial at once, nearly vibrating with tension while his scent grew heavier and heavier with upset. That look on his face had kept Ingrid at a distance, at a loss of what to do.

Ingrid wished she knew whether this was how Felix had reacted when Glenn had died. But she’d been so wrapped up in her own grief at the time that she had no memory of seeing him before she’d shut herself in the room for days, for weeks. With no comparative knowledge she felt inadequate despite wanting to comfort Felix, felt almost certain that he’d push her away… and that she’d deserve it. Ingrid couldn’t help but wonder if the two of them hadn’t been so fixated upon her and she on them, if they all might’ve been able to somehow prevent this tragedy.

Her body, however, proved not as stalwart as her mind in standing vigil. Her stomach loudly grumbled at its empty state and had her face flushing with mortification. However, not only a set of brown eyes but also amber glanced her way, and the redhead fairly beamed when he noticed. Reaching Ingrid with a few long strides, Sylvain looped an arm around her shoulders and began leading her towards the other Alpha man.

“C’mon, Felix, aren’t you hungry?” Sylvain cajoled, nearly carrying her with the swiftness of his pace. “We can go eat something and warm up in the mess tent, then come back here.”

“Go without me.” Felix muttered, gaze falling from them.

Ingrid couldn’t hold back any longer, stepping forward on her own. “We will not, I’d rather starve! Don’t you realize you don’t have to be alone? We’re here for you, Felix.”

The raven-haired man grimaced but when he began turning back to the body, Sylvain abruptly moved past her and grasped him by the shoulders with a low growl. His voice reverberated with Alpha authority as he shouted, “Snap out of it!”

With a snarl Felix threw his hands off and sent the redhead sprawling onto the ground with the force of his shove. Shocked, her mind thrown back to splintering wood in the dark— it was more by defensive training that Ingrid caught his sleeve and kept him from advancing on Sylvain’s prone form. When the raven-haired man rounded on her with a thunderous expression, she gave a pleading whine. “Alpha, please.”

“Don’t…” He growled, but sounded tired rather than irate. While he didn’t shake her off, Felix did lean away to brace his weight against one of the structure’s walls.

Mentally shaking the ill memories off, Ingrid shifted her hold to rub circles at his wrist with her thumb. “Please, you shouldn’t be alone right now. Your father wouldn’t want that.”

“He can’t want anything,” the Alpha man loudly scoffed, but his voice broke on the last word.

“But we all knew him, how he thought, and can honor his memory still. Duke Rodrigue died-”

“Don’t say it.” The wood under Felix’s white knuckled grip creaked. “Don’t you dare say that he died like a true knight!

“I, I wasn’t-”

“First Glenn, now the old man.” Felix’s scent went almost bitter, he as muttered darkly. “Should I just throw myself onto the pyre and be done with it?”

Fear stabbed through her and had Ingrid shouting, “Don’t say such things!”

His hand turned to grip her own wrist with an uncomfortably tight hold, and despite supple leather covering the big hands rather than unyielding metal, a chill washed over her. When he whirled on Ingrid her free hand shoved at his shoulder but Felix barely budged, eyes narrowing with teeth bared, and Ingrid fell back a step breathing too quickly. Yet before he could do more than tug her arm Sylvain was behind him and grabbed the other Alpha man by both wrists, forcing him to release hers. His spicy scent spiking, matching the urgency in his voice. “Felix, calm down!”

As they both struggled, the stink of Alpha aggression was thick enough to be almost smothering. Letting out a tortured cry, the raven-haired man kicked out and writhed as the redhead yanked his arms behind his back and forcibly kept them there. She nearly yelled at Sylvain to stop hurting him, but it suddenly felt like she was the one being restrained, pinned in place, that the walls were closing in— Ingrid could no longer stand it. She turned her back on them both and bolted. It wasn’t enough to be out the door where she heard Felix abruptly break into ugly, tear-filled sobs and damning Dimitri, cursing Faergus, each profane word wrung out of him like fruit from the rind. Her feet carried Ingrid until the only things she heard were her own rushed breaths, the pounding in her ears, and the fall of rain. Only the ongoing downpour prevented her from leaving the stables altogether, and Ingrid stumbled to a stop at one of outer buildings beneath the eaves.

Bracing her hands on her knees she stooped and caught her breath, slowly calming and regaining some semblance of control. She forced aside her spinning thoughts, simply taking in the sights and smells of the storm, which was why her ears immediately picked up a disturbance. Something was moving through the rain, changing the patter, with footsteps quietly splashing towards her. For a moment she was certain Sylvain or Felix must’ve chased after her, which had both shame and annoyance battling in her breast as she closed her eyes and pulled together her composure.

Once she finally righted herself and opened her eyes to look, Ingrid froze and skin prickled as she found the tall, dark figure of Dimitri stepping under the eaves beside her. The prince was entirely water-logged, cloak dripping and blond hair plastered against his head. She couldn’t detect any traces of miasmatic stench, only the smell of the storm waters.

“Ingrid, pardon the intrusion...” His tone was more polite and formal than it’d been since they’d found him months ago. “There is something I must say to you.”

It took some effort for Ingrid to relax enough for her jaw to work. Mercifully her voice was even as she swallowed past a lump in her throat to ask, "Yes, Your Highness?

"It's... My behavior of late. What I…" Dimitri’s gaze wandered in seemingly every direction, before it finally met hers. His eye was clear and lucid. "Should you wish never to suffer my presence again, I'll ensure there're no objections."

She balked, limbs suddenly loose. "Wait, are you sending me away?!"

“No! I just-” Dimitri cut himself off, exhaling hard. “I'm burdening you with my presence. With what I've done, wouldn't you rather not suffer it?”

Masking her confusion at his wording, she shook her head. "Fighting by my lord's side is a worthy hardship."

"Battle is not what I'm referring to… I mean the monstrous way I treated you during my last heat."

Ingrid went cold. "...you were not yourself."

"That's no excuse, I owe you more than an apology. But I cannot fathom how I could possibly make things right between us, Ingrid. Which is why, should you wish it you needn't attend me."

Gritting her teeth, Ingrid mastered herself enough for a quick bow. She made sure to smile as she said, "Thank you, Prince Dimitri, but I wish to serve. Reparations are not needed. I was not badly hurt."

Dimitri gave a gusty exhale, mouth curling in the barest hints of a smile. "Then there's no scar-" Suddenly his hand reached for her neck.

The memory of his iron hold, being unable to get away even as she pushed and twisted— had Ingrid stumbling back out of his reach.

That single blue eye went wide as he watched her, then his expression fell and composure shattered. “Ingrid, I-” Dimitri abruptly dropped down onto his knees onto the muddy ground. “I’m so sorry! What I did to you… it’s unforgivable.”

“Your Highness, please get up-”

“No, I deserve worse than this!” He contritely bowed his head, shoulders hunched and shaking. “I can’t apologize enough. That night you only treated me kindly, while I… I acted like a beast and hurt you.”

Ingrid didn’t want to think about that night, how frightened and helpless she’d been, how long it’d taken her to feel normal again. But hearing him admit it, she had to ask, “…why’d you do it?”

“I, I, I-” Dimitri violently shook his head, like a horse clearing flies, then audibly swallowed. “I meant to harm you and make you as miserable as I’d been then.”

It hurt to hear that, to see him like this. Her voice was small as Ingrid asked, “Do you hate me?”

“No, of course not!” He snapped up, staring at her with a frantic look in his eye. “It was… terrible, a wrong choice made in anger.” His gaze quickly fell, he looked ashamed. “Back then, watching the three of you so happy together, it made me jealous. I’d despaired that I’d never have that with my own beloved.” One of Dimitri’s hands rose up and tangled into his own hair, his expression defeated. “None of you deserved any of that. It was all my fault. I’ve earned your hatred.”

In the face of his confession and her own ambitions, Ingrid realized recent fears had made her act badly. Turning and running when Felix had needed her support and understanding, it was the opposite of what she’d wanted to do but she’d succumbed to the emotion. He’d forgive her and Sylvain, this she knew, but to see Dimitri so certain he didn’t deserve a second chance— it was enough for her to push past all discomfort and reach out to her friend.

“No,” Ingrid clasped Dimitri’s free hand with her own, felt how he was shaking, and tried to pull him back onto his feet. “Dimitri, I don’t hate you. I refuse to!”

He didn’t budge and wouldn’t meet her eyes, instead muttering. “You should. I deserve it, I-”

“So then your apology is insincere? I’m not allowed to accept it?”

“No, no! I am sorry.” His voice cracked, clearly near tears.

Ignoring that part of her that held onto the fear from that night Ingrid knelt down, threw her arms around him, and hugged with all her might. “I forgive you. I don’t want to hate you. I want you to do better. Get better. I want my friend back.”

With a quiet sniffle Dimitri nodded, then hesitantly returned the embrace and wetted her shoulder with rainwater and tears. She held him throughout, and only once his weeping eased did she suggest they both go and apologize to Felix and Sylvain.

 


 

The morning following the night-long celebratory feast for the liberation of Fhirdiad and coronation of Faergus’ rightful ruler, was accompanied by yet another joyous announcement— King Dimitri was taking a royal consort. Their lord and liege declared his right-hand man and retainer to be his bondmate, their lives to be forever entwined from that day on. The announcement had only been met with cheers, good will with the liberation of Faergus’ captial overflowing into the celebrations. The citizenry’s rosy sentiments likely wouldn’t last into the years not with resentments against Duscur, ones she’d once wrongly shared, but both these men were stalwart and would remain strong together. And so the festivities continued into the day, barrels of mead and wine were opened, the food stores previously hoarded by the traitor Cornelia filling the tables for noble and commoner, soldier and refugee alike. It felt almost like a whirlwind with so many things happening one after the other, but all happy things.

Unlike the coronation which had been open for all to see, the bonding ceremony was a small, private affair in the Fhirdiad Castle gardens where they’d played together as children. Felix, Sylvain, and herself had the honor to witness it alongside their classmates, the professor, Seteth, and Sir Gilbert. With the formal declaration made by the bondmates over, each witness was presenting a gift to the newly bonded. Unlike Felix who’d impatiently handed his gifts over first Ingrid had waited until the end, nervous in more than one way. Her concerns didn’t lie with King Dimitri, reconciled as they were, but rather her rocky history with the man from Duscur. They’d reached their own understanding of late, but she hoped to better bolster the overtures to true friendship.

“Your Majesty, Consort Dedue!” Smiling, Ingrid bowed to both of them. “Congratulations on the happy bonding!”

“Thank you, Ingrid.” Dimitri’s smile brightened his entire face, looking more boyishly happy than he had in a long, long while.

Echoing the sentiment, Dedue’s mouth had the faintest upwards curve, eyes crinkling at the edges. Some would say his facial expression was the same as always, but she now knew it to be his genuine smile. The huge man had been smiling the entire day, practically radiant in his bonding finery by Dimitri’s side.

Similarly, the changes in Dimitri were stark, a far cry from the wild state they’d found him in at the Monastery. No longer did he hunch under some phantom weight but stood straight with shoulders back, and would look and speak with all who addressed him instead of staring off into the distance. His hair had been brushed and trimmed; the blond strands gathered back in a half-tail style that resembled his old self. His skin was no longer sickly pale instead having a healthy flush, the dark bags from his eyes were gone, and the gauntness in his cheeks were beginning to fill out. But even more so than his physical appearance his scent was right, smelling sweet and warm, like freshly baked bread.

Elated, Ingrid handed over her gift, suddenly unbothered by the fact it was wrapped in a plain scrap of cloth rather than festive paper. Dimitri took and unwrapped it, his eye going wide as the old book was revealed. “This cover, I recognize it! Isn’t this illustrated copy of Loog and the Wind Maiden once that your family commissioned, the one you used to carry everywhere?”

“It’s the very same. I’d heard from Ashe that many of the tomes in the palace library that covered Faergus’ founding were missing, including these legends. I wanted to contribute to restoring your collection.”

The blond Omega frowned. “Missing tomes? How troubling.”

“I believe he and Annette were looking into it.” Ingrid pointed to where the pale-haired Beta and ginger Alpha woman stood together and laughed over some jest. “They likely know more details if you want to inquire.”

Dimitri’s frown eased as he nodded. “I believe I will. Please excuse me.”

After a quick kiss to the hinge of Dedue’s square jaw, the blond man tucked the book to his side and briskly walked over to their classmates. Now alone with the Duscur man she’d once resented, Ingrid did her best not to fumble as she reached into her bag for the second gift and held it out. Without a word, the Beta man gingerly plucked the pouch from her palm then turned it this way and that to inspect before looking at her expectantly.

“That contains seeds of the ‘fire flower’, a rare plant that only grows near Ailell. You’ve a green thumb, so I’ve not doubt you can make those bloom in a hot house.”

He nodded, smile never dimming as he thanked her. Despite the sentinel Dedue proved to be in battle, in these quiet moments Ingrid wondered how she’d ever missed that he was so clearly a gentle soul. It steeled her for the final gift, the one she knew might be rejected.

“Dedue, I must apologize… again. For a long time I wanted to be useful, so I pushed you away and took your place tending the prince.” The low collars of the bonding outfits showed off not only the freshly made claiming bite on Dimitri, but also the half-moon scar on Dedue’s thick neck so old it’d gone silvery. It was troubling knowing how she’d come between them. “That was wrong of me. I understand now how important it is to be with the ones you love.”

“Ingrid…”

Ignoring how bashful his voice sounded, she continued, “Dimitri is my king and will always have my loyalty. But you, Dedue, are the man who should stand by his side and make him happy.”

His dark cheeks almost looked ruddy, though she wasn’t sure if he was blushing. Those green eyes were steady on her own, as he said, “It took Dimitri a long time to convince me others would accept us… but I’m glad to be called his.”

“You’re both a credit to Faergus, and Duscur. Together you’ll make more people than myself realize it.”

“We also want you to be happy, Ingrid. Please know that you, Sylvain, and Felix have our blessing.”

Now it was Ingrid’s turn to blush as they both glanced over to where the two Alpha men sat on the manicured lawn, the redhead’s arm slung around the shorter man’s shoulders as he was tucked under his chin— almost publicly nuzzling. When her gaze met with Dedue’s no words were needed, she bowed with a final congratulations, and then went to her lovers unafraid to be witnessed joining them on the lawn.

“Ingrid!” Sylvain fairly chirped as he straightened, patting the grass where Felix had scooted aside to make room for her between them.

Without protest she took the seat and let them crowd against each side of her, warm and solid comfortingly smelling of ginger cake and lemons. Though wrinkled her nose at the alcohol she smelled on the redhead’s breath as he leaned down. He whined when she pushed a finger against his pursed lips, blocking a kiss. “What’ve you been drinking?”

“The fool’s been into the star wine from Gloucester,” Felix replied, his own breath smelling of that Almyran pine needle tea he favored.

“Do you know how costly that wine is? You should both try some, it tingles on the tongue,” Sylvain giggled, tipsy.

“Maybe later.” She slipped an arm about each of their waists, closing the remaining space. “I like where I am right now.”

“You’re so good, Ingrid.” Sylvian crooned then dipped to nuzzle his face against the crook of her neck. Though the bold move had her blushing, she didn’t push him away. After breathing deeply, he sighed out, "I love your smell."

With a fond roll of the eyes, she patted his flank. "Don't lie. I'm Beta, I don't have a scent."

“That's not true, Ingrid!” The redhead straightened to pout at her. “It's subtle but-”

"You smell like moonlight."

Felix’s poetic words and the sincerity in his expression had her floundering, "I, w-what?"

"He's right! Your scent is like cool, clear night air. Refreshing and something you want to breathe in endlessly." As if to prove his point, Sylvain leaned back in and did just that.

Before she could protest, Felix caught her hand in his and raised her wrist to his lips. Kissing the sensitive skin, he murmured, "It's even better mixed with ours."

Both men’s gazes became fixed on her, a too-keen hunger in their eyes that had Ingrid swallowing and resisting the urge to let them start intimacies in the middle of the garden surrounded by their friends and comrades. Instead she gave each of them a light peck on the cheek and quipped, “Like I said, I like where I am.”

That was the day she began earnestly planning their future together.

Chapter Text

There wasn’t a celebration so much as a collective sigh of relief when the Emperor was defeated and Enbarr seized by their forces. Although loyalists, that strange sect of mages, and other stragglers remained at large, the Kingdom’s army was able to slow operations in a manner impossible while on active march. When the majority of the Adrestian army surrendered, the campaign had switched into arranging treaties for peacetime, especially with the Empire and Alliance lacking their previous rulers. Yet Ingrid couldn’t bring herself to be concerned about any of that in this moment, instead impatiently waiting for Felix and Sylvain’s return to the palace room assigned to the three of them.

After all these months of struggle, Ingrid had decided what she wanted and how she’d seize her future. That afternoon Mercedes had taken her to a shop that carried specialty smallclothes, that evening she’d allowed Annette to apply cosmetics to her face, and even a blushing Ashe had retrieved some necessary items from the merchant Anna on her behalf that morning. She was ready for her lovers, who simply needed to arrive.

Usually she was patient and disciplined, but her plans for that night had her too full of excitement and nerves to sit still. Instead she laid on the imperially large bed the three of them shared, with the jar of scentless oil opened beside her. The sorry scrap of lace and ribbons claiming to be smalls was about her knees, while Ingrid unashamedly panted and moaned as her oil-dipped fingers delved and twisted inside her often-untouched back passage. It was almost distracting enough for her to miss hearing the approaching footfalls, but the loud click of tumblers in the lock alerted Ingrid and she quickly made herself ready— wiping off, righting clothing, and then laying back over the mattress as seductively as she was able.

She managed to calm her breaths though her heart began to race as the inner door to the bedroom opened and revealed two handsome, Alpha men.

“Ingrid, why’re you..?” Sylvain trailed off, gesturing to the state of her undress though his eyes were glued to her made-up face.

“The war’s over and we’ll be returning to Faerghus soon. So I… I wanted to…” Nerves had her swallowing against a lump in her throat. “I’ve decided. I want to stay like we are now, to be with you. I want you both to claim me, tonight.”

Even from across the room she heard Felix draw in an audibly sharp breath. Although his expression didn’t change apart from a widening of the eyes, she knew from the way he’d shifted his weight onto the balls of his feet that he was close to launching himself at her. Instead he seemed to have settled on shucking off his clothing as quickly as possible.

As the redhead also undressed, he gushed loudly, “I knew it, I knew you’d join us one day!” Sylvain’s elated grin was so wide, she worried it’d split his face in two as he clapped a hand against the other Alpha’s bared back. “Didn’t I tell you Felix? All those licks weren’t for nothing!"

“Licks?” Ingrid’s brow furrowed in confusion.

“You know, whenever Dimitri used to go into heat you’d lick Felix’s scent gland before leaving to tend. Such a tease drove him craz-eeeeeeeeeeeey!”

The redhead’s explanation devolved into a squeal as the raven-haired man clamped his hands down on the other’s flanks then squeezed and kneaded until he’d squirmed out of the hold. It was hardly the least dignified behavior she’d witnessed from them, yet Ingrid was more shocked by the revelation— all that time she’d never thought her actions could fluster the younger Faldarius. Yet Sylvain claimed she had and the rosy hue of Felix’s neck and blush upon his cheeks was unmistakably embarrassment, no matter how ferociously he scowled and glared.

It had her fighting a smile as he stalked over to the bed. “I, I never meant-”

“It’s your turn now,” Felix growled. But there was no true mockery in his words just heat and the way his hands stroked over her arms could only be called a caress.

Ingrid let the smile break out and reached a hand up to affectionately brush stray strands of hair from his blushing face. “Yes, Alpha.”

Kneeling onto the mattress beside her Felix took the back of Ingrid’s hand in his palm, brought it to his mouth, and licked a hot stripe directly over her wrist’s scent gland. Despite her long anticipation, the wet sensation of it and hungry promises in those amber eyes sent a now-familiar thrill through her. Her face grew hot with a blush as Sylvain settled on the bed at her other side, languidly trailing his wrists over the bared patches of her skin. Both Alpha men’s musky scents had grown heavier with arousal, but her nose was able to pick up clear notes of happiness as well.

“Soon you’ll be ours as we’re yours.” The redhead sounded extremely pleased by the idea, yet asked, “Is claiming all you want…?”

Ingrid shook her head with a smile. “I want to bond too. Though we should wait until we’re back home so our families can attend the ceremony.”

Although having more than one bondmate might cause confusion, her father would be thrilled that she was joining with the richest, most influential heirs in the Kingdom. While once she might’ve been sour over the idea of not living as a knight in Fhirdiad, she now found herself content to serve Dimitri by governing their territories and fulfilling knightly duties therein. There was also something almost dreamy about bonding and settling down with her longtime friends who understood her better than anyone and didn’t have hang ups about her presentation.

Felix lowering their hands with a far-away look knocked her from these thoughts and had Ingrid cursing herself for not being more mindful of his father’s recent passing. But before she could say anything, he spoke in a quiet voice, “My mother would like that.”

“Guess my parents will finally stop despairing over me remaining a consummate bachelor and rake.” Sylvain said with a melodramatic sigh and then snickered. “Wasn’t Dowager Duchess Faldarius upset you denied her a daughter-by-proxy back when you refused the betrothal? Perhaps a daughter-in-law and also a son-in-law might redeem you.”

Felix sent the redhead a cold look, but Ingrid diverted the possible fight by turning her hand to squeeze his. Once amber eyes met hers, she smiled and leaned closer. “My family will be happy too. But this isn’t about them, it’s about us.”

With that night’s first kiss Felix began laying claim to her, deep and savoring. Ingrid was unsure who initiated it or if they both moved in at the same time, but she had left insecurities over his regard behind and instead happily opened herself to his attentions. His tongue slipped past her parted lips and touched everything in reach— behind her teeth, the roof of her mouth, tangling with hers, saturating her taste buds with his citrusy zing. By now she knew to breathe through her nose as Felix feasted on her, yet still found herself feeling breathless.

The raven-haired man had so thoroughly occupied her focus that she jolted when she felt another pair of lips on her, kissing over the back of her bare shoulders with light sucks and kitten licks. The redhead’s warm breaths puffed over her sensitized skin as he said, “Tonight’s all about you, Ingrid. We’ve been waiting for this.”

A larger body then pushed flush against Ingrid’s back forcing the curves of her front up against the other male body, hard with ropey muscle, in front of her. She gasped at the sensation, but the sound was swallowed by insistent kisses. Both of their scents and warm bodies blanketed her, shutting out the rest of the world. When Ingrid managed to finally break the kiss, she pulled back from Felix, twisting to look over her shoulder at their Alpha lover. Sylvain grinned with brown eyes dark and gleaming as his hand cupped her jaw and his mouth caught hers in a kiss that was slow and playful. Sylvain’s lips were soft and brushed hers in feather light teases as often as he let her make more solid if chaste contact.

This teasing enticement had her stretching back towards Sylvain, so that her hands could take hold of the redhead’s face and try to anchor the contact into something solid. Ingrid hadn’t intended for the arch it caused in her back to push up her chest— yet became intimately aware as the raven-haired man abruptly buried his face into her lace-framed cleavage. Ingrid squeaked and let go of the redhead, but before she could right herself Sylvain’s big hand slid along Ingrid’s back and his arm locked her into keeping it arched.

Ingrid started sputtering protests, but Sylvain interrupted her with a kiss and quipped, “Felix loves your tits, Ingrid. Indulge him.”

While she flushed hotly at the crass compliment, said man rumbled a noise of agreement. The raven-haired man’s big hands held the cinch of her waist as he began to mouth through the lacy cups at her breasts with light nips of teeth. That wet heat and slightest sting on her sensitive flesh had Ingrid’s hips bucking, despite being pressed between the two of them. With a quiet groan Felix rolled his hips into hers and her body automatically responded by rocking forward, only for the movement to be exaggerated as Sylvain’s hips pressed to her backside and picked up their rhythm. The friction wasn’t quite smooth despite both men being naked, because of the lacy smalls still covering her mound and rear. After a hitched breath and happy sigh, the redhead tilted her face back to his. This time Sylvain kissed her firmly, the kiss similar to the one she’d been sharing with Felix, though the dance of his tongue a different sort of tease. His spicy taste not overwhelming the lingering zest, but rather melding with it on her tongue. He let out little moans into her mouth and Ingrid’s pleased noises quickly joined his.

She could feel both of their cocks going from half-hard to fully erect as they ground against her. The lace of Ingrid’s smallclothes quickly grew damp, from her own arousal and Felix sucking one nipple then the other through the thin fabric into the wet heat of his mouth. The sweet pressure made her break the kiss to gasp and clutch at them both. Sylvain took the opportunity to kiss down her jaw to the side of her neck, lips feathering over the skin. She'd watched both Alpha men bite down on the other's necks, usually over the claiming mark, in the heights of passion. But like this moment, neither of her lovers had done more than nuzzling or closed mouth kisses with her own neck.

So Ingrid spoke aloud to spur him on, “Alpha, I’m yours. Mark me!”

Sylvain breathed out a curse, his big hand rising to cup the back of her head and tilting it, then he latched onto the side of Ingrid’s neck over her scent gland and sucked harshly. Ingrid felt the patch of skin tingling and growing hot, each of his sucks seeming to reach down to the sensitive nerves in her gland. Once he was satisfied, Sylvain released the reddened skin and latched onto another spot, repeating the process which had her squirming. Felix lightly caught the peak of a nipple between his teeth; it made her aware of just how much larger his canines felt just resting against the swell of her breast. When he bit down with just the slightest pressure, she let out an almost keening whine and began to quiver.

Sylvain made a hungry noise then opened his mouth wider and scraped his teeth over her scent gland. It wasn’t hard, let alone bruising, but the feeling of teeth on her neck— cold speared through Ingrid as her body wound tight and went deathly still. Immediately both Alphas ceased their attentions and backed off giving her space. It took a few deep breaths before she calmed enough to unlock her jaw enough to speak.

“S-sorry, sorry.”

“No, I’m sorry, Ingrid. I shouldn’t have…” Sylvain shook his head, looking sad.

Felix watched both of them with keen eyes, face neutral as he asked her, “Should we stop?”

“N-no! I want this.”

“Do you want us to mark you somewhere other than your neck?”

Ingrid’s mouth fell open but was at a loss of words, so instead nodded fervently. Scrambling to recall that talk months ago in the medical tent, she dropped her hands to her lap and parted her legs wider, touching her inner thighs where the larger scent glands were located. She glanced behind her when Sylvain sounded like he was choking on his own tongue.

Felix also looked up with a raised brow. “What’s wrong?

“Nothing, just…” The redhead licked his lips, still staring at her lace-covered crotch. “Every time Ingrid spreads her legs it’ll show our claim.”

“She wears hose, idiot. We’re the only ones who’ll see.”

“Teeth marks framing her tight, little cunny that’s ours to take. It’s hotter than I’d imagined!” Sylvain declared shamelessly, proudly possessive.

With a revolted expression Felix reached past her and shoved the other Alpha man, hard enough that the bed bounced when the redhead landed on his back with an ‘ooomph’. Giving a hard exhale, he said, “I’ll drag this lech away and leave, if you’d like.”

A laugh escaped Ingrid. “No! I fully expect your cocks to belong to me, so the inverse is also true. As long as all of us are willing.”

The raven-haired man looked shocked for a moment, then flushed hotly as he muttered, “You might regret exclusivity. Sylvain’s far more insatiable than I during the throes of rut; afterwards I’ve not been able to walk straight a few times. Girls at the Academy never came back after being subjected to his out-of-control appetites.”

At that, said man sat up with a cry of protest, accusing their lover of slander and gross exaggeration. Watching their antics Ingrid felt the coldness dissipating, even if she was still more tense than she’d started. Determined, she ignored her uncooperative body and asked, “Who should mark first?”

That shut both Alpha men up. Yet they didn’t immediately look to her, instead seemingly communicating without words with little quirks of the mouth and brow. Finally, Sylvain further scooted back on the bed and Felix curled a hand on the curve of her hip.

Baring the unmarked side of his neck, he quietly said, “You should claim me.”

Ingrid blinked, having expected them to want initial access, but she nodded and swallowed down her nerves as she moved close enough to reach. With hands steadying herself on his shoulders she knelt and leaned up to where she knew his scent gland to be and gave him a short lick. His hand tightened on her hip but he didn’t growl as she did it again. Unable to resist, she murmured against his damp skin, “Give yourself to me, Felix.”

Rather than rolling his eyes or snapping, he shuddered and whispered back, “Ingrid, I’m yours for the taking.” Then further tilted his head to expose his throat in submission.

Shivering with both giddiness and heated nerves, Ingrid opened her mouth and set her teeth against his taunt skin, tasting salty hints of his sweat and feeling the pulse of his racing heartbeat against her tongue. With only that slight hesitation she bit down hard until she tasted Alpha musk and coppery blood, making sure to sink her duller Beta teeth in as deeply as she could. Ingrid felt Felix jolt in her arms with a hitched breath, the taste and smell of him growing thicker, then he grabbed her hips in both hands and slotted his own against hers. The lacy smallclothes prevented his hard cock from sinking into her aching core, but through the thin cloth she felt the heat of him and every twitch as he resumed rocking against her while audibly panting.

The sudden movement jarred her teeth’s position in his neck, so Ingrid gingerly opened her jaw and pulled free not wanting the wound to grow ragged. As she straightened her back and lifted her head Felix’s head abruptly turned and caught her in a kiss, he licked at her blood-stained lips. After only a few more bucks the Alpha man moaned low in his throat while his entire body shuddered, and stripes of heat suddenly spattered over the front of her smalls and lower belly— shocking in that she couldn’t recall a time before this that she’d witnessed the raven-haired man come while outside.

Then his full weight was falling against her and Ingrid broke the kiss with a sound of surprise. “Felix, wait-”

Before she tipped completely back, however, a large and sturdy frame was at her side and long arms wrapped around each of them, bracing their combined weight. A big hand came up and cradled Felix’s head, who didn’t resist even as the hold tilted to bare his neck. If anything, the raven-haired man appeared content: the lines of his body lax, mouth open and panting, long hair barely in its tie, skin flushed and sweaty, amber eyes hazy and half-lidded. It was quite the appealing sight as his neck arced in a way that emphasized the fresh teeth marks Ingrid had left deep in his skin.

“That’ll scar up nicely.” Sylvain breathed, a hot whisper into her ear.

Those words knocked Ingrid from her own lustful haze, and her tongue swept over her teeth and the metallic taste of blood lingered there. Suddenly worried, she asked, “Does it hurt?”

“It is a bite.” The redhead hummed thoughtfully then asked their lover. “Want me to use a spell and heal it?”

Felix made a nonsense-noise of disagreement, visibly swallowing before he murmured, “…want to feel. Leave it.”

“Spoken like a true Alpha.” Felix rumbled a low sound as Sylvain undid the tie to run his fingers through the dark strands of hair. “You claimed him proper and went down the gland. Felix is in a pretty good place right now.”

Taking a deep breath, Ingrid couldn’t deny that the raven-haired man’s scent was sated and lacked any trace of bitter pain. Their hips were also still pressed together, and through the soaked lace Ingrid could feel his throbbing knot and shaft nestled against her mound. She’d never seen Felix so utterly relaxed and malleable, not even while tied with her.

As the redhead brought the other Alpha man forward to rest his forehead against her shoulder, Ingrid leaned back against his chest and peered up. “Sylvain, do you want me to claim you next?”

“I'd pop my knot like Felix just did if you bit me now.” Sylvain met her gaze and grinned. “So how about you claim me when we couple in a position where you can still get at my neck, hm?”

His question had the preparations and plans rushing to the forefront of her mind, Ingrid fought a blush as she said, “Actually, I’d hope that, well… That I might take you both for coupling tonight.”

“Both?” Sylvain blinked, his eyes taking on an excited gleam. “At the same time?”

Although the three of them always included one another in bed, the nature of an Alpha’s knot usually ended the night with only two of them tied at the hips and using hands and mouth to please the third. Yet one specific time stood out in Ingrid’s mind where their coupling had felt evenly shared.

Two months before, at the fight in Derdriu, Ingrid had taken an arrow to the shoulder while guarding Felix's back against an enemy archer. She'd not considered serious as its removal and a healing spell set everything right, but it'd seriously upset the raven-haired Alpha. Felix had not only verbally reprimanded her for taking such a risk but also spent the subsequent night with Ingrid on her hands and knees atop the bed, dominating and taking her from behind. The only thing that’d kept her from disturbing the camp with screams of pleasure had been Sylvain letting her occupy her mouth with his cock. While Felix had knotted her Sylvain had pulled out and come over her face and chest, at the time she’d wished they both could’ve tied with her. It’d been as exhausting as it was exhilarating and had fantasized about it ever since.

“Yes!” Although a hot flush had covered her face, Ingrid gathered her courage. “I want both of you in me at the same time, with my mouth free. And I want you both to knot me.”

In front of her the raven-haired stirred at her words, but she found herself unable to look away from her redheaded lover. With the brown of his eyes barely a ring around his dilated pupil, Sylvain smiled roguishly and spoke in a spine-tinglingly rough voice, “Well then, we’d best claim you. Cause I plan to fulfill that request and then some.”

“Ingrid…” Felix sat straight and looked at her with that same hungry gaze, his hands dragging down the flare of her hips until his fingers brushed the ribbons at the sides of her smallclothes. Deliberately not thinking about how much the scraps of clothing had cost and what a mess they’d become, she nodded then felt as he untied the bows and shuddered as he peeled the wet lace off. Ingrid squeaked when Sylvain’s hands abruptly cradled the undersides of her breasts, but relaxed as his fingers reached for the bow centered between the lacy cups and tugged at the ribbons and lace until she was bare.

They tried to share one kiss on the mouth between the three of them, but it ended in laughter and Ingrid nearly being smothered by the eager press of the Alpha men's larger bodies.

Her lovers solved that problem by moving themselves and her on the bed, adjusting until she laid back against pillows piled against the headboard with her legs parted to comfortably fit broad shoulders between. It was the redhead there currently running his calloused palms over the skin of her thighs, while the raven-haired man sat to the side of them quiet and watching. Ingrid measured her breaths to stay calm, but her jittery nerves at the anticipation weren’t helped by the sultry looks Sylvain kept sending her.

Brown eyes stayed on hers as he pressed a light kiss to her right inner thigh. “Ingrid, relax.”

“I am!” She snapped, then sighed knowing she’d just proved the opposite.

Felix climbed onto the pillows beside her, raising a hand to brush through the short hairs at her nape. “Want help?”

Shakily breathing in as the tension in her muscles grew at the touch over her glands, but Ingrid nodded leaning her head back and neck into his grip. At her unspoken permission, Felix increased the pressure and sent a wave of pleasure through her that drained the tension and melted away her anxieties— quickly letting go and leaving her with a calm clarity.

Taking his hand in hers and squeezing in thanks, she then looked down at their lover and said, “Sylvain, claim me.”

“With pleasure,” he purred, lips parted in a grin.

Although he momentarily kissed and licked the skin over her gland, her calm stayed even as he opened his mouth and she felt the hard points on her skin. Sylvain's teeth dug into her skin until it yielded, sinking through flesh into the scent gland deep and ruthless. Ingrid jolted, a scream dying in her throat as pain swiftly shifted to pleasure and she went limp. Lust, as burning and sweat-inducing as hot peppers, spread under her skin and pooled in her belly, pulling tightness from her muscles and leaving her little better than a ragdoll. All the tension and strength in her body fled as unadulterated pleasure and waves of hormones swept over her. The uncomfortable twinge as Sylvain withdrew his teeth and released her thigh barely registered, the more primal part of her mind instead lingering on the red of her blood staining his teeth and lips. Then how it coated the flat of his tongue as he cleaned away the blood she could felt seeping from the newly made mark and soothed some of the hot prickling in her skin.

After an indeterminable amount of time Sylvain moved from between her legs and Felix took his place, his dark head gracefully dipping towards her other inner-thigh’s untouched scent gland. Almost euphorically, Ingrid watched Felix open his mouth wide and then sink his teeth into her skin, larger canines piercing and reaching deep faster. This time the wave of endorphins carried Ingrid to the heavens and the world whited out around her. Only the deep commanding rumble of her Alpha’s voice was able to penetrate the pleasured fog around her mind.

“Ingrid, come back to us.”

She obeyed, finally sinking back down to Foldan until her eyes fluttered open to find Sylvain’s concerned face hovering over hers. He breathed a sigh of relief and smiled. “I admit, for a moment there I’d worried two claiming bites had been too much.”

Ingrid managed a shake of her head. “M’fine.”

She felt their saliva cooling over her skin and flickers of what should have been pain instead became sparks of hot pleasure that went straight to her core. Glancing down, she found Felix still lapping apologetically at the deep marks his teeth had created in her left inner-thigh, the drag of his tongue flashed through her— and Sylvain’s mark on the other side seemed to throb in time. Distantly she recalled what Professor Manuela had told her, that their saliva in her gland was changing her scent and chemically reshaping to suit her Alphas. What had caught her unawares was how good the bites had felt when it’d happened. The claiming marks had left her core not merely wet, but soaked enough to be dripping and achingly aroused. Idly, Ingrid wondered if this was how slick Omegas got while in heat.

“Ah, such a pretty picture.” Sylvain nearly cooed, watching them with heavy-lidded eyes. “But we’ll heal these.”

She felt the man between her legs heave out a sigh, then he lifted a hand and drew a magic circle in the air over her new wound. The healing spell hit her with a flash of light, Felix’s magic felt like him— a sharp energy that fizzled into sweeter relief. Once Ingrid has blinked away the bright after-image she found his claiming mark scabbed over with hints of shiny pink scar tissue and that it no longer throbbed or hurt. Sylvain was already finishing tracing lines of light over her other inner thigh. The magic of his own spell felt more like being enveloped in a pocket of heat, and left with a nearly hot warmth simmering under the newly healed skin.

Ingrid’s own hands reached down and touched the claiming marks, ignoring the tingling of her skin and heated insides to marvel at the different shapes each of her bondmates-to-be teeth and left on her. For the rest of her life, these scars would remind her of this night, and with that thought, she looked to both Alpha men and said, “Sylvain, Felix, I’m yours. Take me!”

While Felix gathered his legs under him, Sylvain plucked her off the bed and pulled her up to straddle his lap, his parted knees bending to keep her from falling back. Ingrid hadn't been expecting the sudden change and fairly collapsed against his broad chest, which had him chuckling. She gave a muffled reprimand against his warm skin, but quieted as two pairs of big hands began touching her— one pair longer and the other more slender, but both calloused and strong. They rubbed past her shoulders, over her back, ran down her sides; their touches left little sparks that tingled in her skin as they went.

Felix kissed Ingrid on the corner of her mouth, amber eyes searching hers. “You sure you want this?”

She leaned back and kissed him more thoroughly, while looping her free arm around Sylvain. “I’m sure, I want both of you.”

"You're a strong woman." The raven-haired man said, mouth curved in a smile, his hot breath and the sincerity in his voice made her shudder.

“Our woman!” She was pressed close to Felix as Sylvain pushed against her front to nuzzle behind Ingrid's jaw. “Ours to spoil,” the excitement and enthusiasm in his tone was almost childish, which she found both ridiculous and endearing.

Eager for the main event Ingrid hooked her own legs over the redhead’s, using her flexibility to tuck her knees in a position that held her wide open for them both. She moved Sylvain's hand down behind her, between the cheeks of her backside, heard and felt him exhale sharply as his fingertips brushed her furled flesh that was slickened by oil she’d applied earlier. It was a place Sylvain had touched, outside and in, with slickened fingers occasionally during past couplings. He’d once even insisted no part of her was dirty and used his mouth and tongue there, which had been bewilderingly pleasurable and made her curious enough to explore on her own time.

Suddenly nervous enough to stutter, Ingrid asked, "D-do you want..."

However, it was Felix who answered first, "The way Sylvain talks about your ass, he’d like nothing more. But you’ll need to be facing him to make the claim mark, and you want both of us."

Ingrid squeaked at the feeling of a different set of fingertips touching her there. Sylvain hands strayed until he bracketed her hips and one of Felix’s other hand brushed over the curves of her backside. Without warning Sylvain tightened his grasp on her hips, tilted her body, and with a single thrust seated his hard shaft inside her core. Although the move was fast, her prior climaxes and lax muscles eased taking his thickness into bliss.

"Don’t rush her!" Felix sharply chided.

Sylvain chuckled again, "I beg forgiveness. This is simply one of my favorite places to be."

The redhead circled his hips into hers, and had Ingrid breathily mewling at how his cock and the fingers inside her at the same time had her feeling stuffed full. She tried to ground herself by bracing her hands on his shoulders, but moments later the fingers withdrew and she couldn’t hold back a whimper at the empty feeling.

Ingrid looked over her shoulder and found Felix’s amber eyes staring back at her, although her gaze drifted to the half-emptied jar of oil in his hand. “Are you ready for me?”

Heat bloomed in her chest at his patient tone, untangling remaining worry over being penetrated in this way. Ingrid blushed but nodded, “Yes, Felix.”

He gave a pleased noise at the sound of his name then began to pull her into position. She held herself steady with arms locked and hands gripped on Sylvain’s shoulder as she straddled his lap on folded legs. Her eyes slammed shut as she felt her cheeks parted and more oil poured over her crack, then something hot and firm and much thicker than a finger prodded— cracking open her eyes she peered back and canted her hips just so for Felix’s cock.

With how she’d stretched herself open, there was no struggle taking the tip inside and the oil allowed his shaft to slide to the hilt with only the feeling of pressure and heat. Throughout this Sylvain hadn’t moved, big hands merely clenching hard on her hips when he undoubtedly felt Felix’s length so close. She sat on top the men, fully impaled.

Ingrid felt them both inside her, as close as her heartbeat. The fullness of her body was strange yet felt right. Together, they were all more than they were apart. Together they created something new and perfect. Everything in this coupling was more intense with how both of them surrounded her, shared her.

Ingrid curled to rest her forehead against the column of Sylvain’s neck and trembled. Felix leaned forward until his chest was pressed flush with her back, his hand brushed back several short blonde strands which were stuck against her sweaty, flushed face. She kissed at his fingertips when they passed her lips, and whispered, “This feels… so good.”

Sylvain chuckled and she felt it rumble in his chest. “Oh, it’ll get better.”

Felix breathed out an agreement and began to move his hips. Slowly pulled his cock out of her, and slowly slid it back inside. The friction made her gasp, even with the oil. Then Sylvain followed suit, rolling his hips to thrust in and out of her slick core. Felix pushed deep inside her, and Sylvain pulled out, leaving just the tip of his cock inside. Felix pulled back, and Sylvain pushed. She was balanced between them as the men began a relentlessly, agonizingly slow pace. In and out, in and out, the strong hands at her hips and on her rear guiding Ingrid into a smooth roll.

She couldn’t stop reaching for them, one hand tangled in Felix’s hair, her other curling fingers into Sylvain’s back. There was a big hand on each of her breasts: one with sword-callouses alternating between squeezing and pinching her nipple, while the other larger and lance-hardened palming and kneading leisurely. The dual sensations above and below while pinned between them had Ingrid gasping and moaning, the heated ache building as Ingrid went almost liquid to receive both her lovers’ movements. This is how they played tug of war with her, hands and hips and hungry gazes pulling and pushing her willing body in all directions at once. Their scent and warmth blanketing her, shutting out the rest of the world and leaving her nowhere to go, unable to hide from them.

So awash in sensation Ingrid hadn’t noticed her eyes had drifted closed until Sylvain’s other hand dragged up her side and chest to cradle her jaw, his thumb swiping over the cheek and causing her eyes to flutter open. The redhead’s flushed, sweat-beaded face filled her sight and his wolfish grin grew winder as her eyes met his dark ones.

“Still good?” He asked, words little more than a deep rumble. Swallowing down another pleasured moan, Ingrid nodded, fumbling a hand to cup the back of his. Brown eyes went heavy lidded as he said, “We’re lucky bastards to have such a pretty, little Beta so happy to take our cocks.”

“I, I’m n-not—” A shaky gasp broke up her denial over that claim of beauty.

“No? Oh Ingrid.” Sylvain chuckled, deep and rich. “Do you know why our favorite positions while making love to you are close and tight?”

Almost as if to demonstrate, Felix curled even closer against her back and rubbed his face into the crook of her neck. His warm breaths caused her already sensitive skin to prickle, and she couldn’t help but lean into the contact as he began to brush his lips feather-light over her gland. The redhead’s big hand kept Ingrid facing him and aware of just how hungrily he watched the two of them.

“Being able to look, to control you just so, to cover and guard… making you feel good. No Alpha can resist that.”

While their hips continued to rock in rhythm, the men leaned in to kiss each other over her shoulder. The sight of Felix’s tongue stroking along Sylvain’s speared straight to Ingrid’s loins and knocked her from their steady pace and slow build. Her muscles squeezed down on them both, which had them breaking apart with a hitched breath and a grunt.

“S-sorry,” she apologized and relaxed her excited body. A sharp moan escaped Ingrid as Felix shifted his hand from her hip down between her and Sylvain to tease with his fingers.

“That’s playing dirty.” Sylvain gritted through clenched teeth, and the smooth roll of his thrusts hitched whenever she involuntarily spasmed.

The raven-haired man just smirked, directing his long fingers to firmly press against her mound where their bodies met. He cleverly brushed against the both of them and kept her moaning at the circling thumb on her swollen nub. The stimulation had her hips chasing his touch, moans and whines spilling from her throat.

"Faster?" Ingrid heard Felix murmur, and managed to nod.

With eager noises both men’s pace quickened, went deeper until their thrusts shook her. The close contact and constant pressure were making her entire body react, muscles and skin pulling taut as pleasure rippled thought her. Although Ingrid’s legs trembled, her body instinctively tried to meet their thrusts, but was too shaken by the building pleasure to perfectly match them and her control began to fray at the edges. It didn’t take long before the three of them lost coordination, instead movements driving and determined and with one single aim. No longer was the exchange even.

After she gave a particularly wanton moan, Sylvain’s head dipped and his mouth slanted over her own, swallowing down her pleasured sounds. As he kissed her, Felix growled and his fingers firmly pressed against where her swollen folds spilt around their partner’s cock which made Ingrid gasp. The redhead took advantage to deepen the kiss and plunged his tongue inside, flooding her with his uniquely spicy taste so akin to ginger and numeg. More than Ingrid’s knees went weak at the intensity of their attentions, then the men became hilted at the same time.

The moment Felix’s cock angled up against Sylvain's inside her, had his thick shaft rubbing up against her core’s sweet spot, and it became too much for Ingrid— the sensations were overwhelming! Sandwiched between two hard male bodies and dripping with sweat, spit, and slick, she surrendered to climax. Breaking the kiss to throw her head back, Ingrid thought she might've screamed.

Even through the high and whole-body clenching she heard as Felix groaned, noticed how he stiffened, and felt how his cock twitched. His hips ground against her backside with short rocking thrusts, swelling base of his shaft pushing, backing off, then pushing again until she flinched at a brief pinching pain. They both shuddered as his knot breached then flared inside her, stretching her back passage to the edge of discomfort— then Felix gave a sighing moan he flooded her with sticky heat.

When Ingrid came back to herself in the aftermath of climax and being knotted, Sylvain cupped her face with both big hands then tilted his head and drew her upper half forward until her lips touched his exposed neck. His breaths were coming short and heavy, but managed to sound coquettish as he said, “Ingrid, precious thing. Use your teeth on me.”

Coordination somewhat lacking she shakily leaned forward as their lover went lax behind her. and let the redhead’s hands help direct as she licked until she found a patch of skin with a stronger taste and heartbeat. His hips were in a slow roll and breathing quickened further as Ingrid opened her mouth and set her teeth over his gland. With one last deep breath full of his aroused spicy scent, she bit down hard until blood and Alpha musk met her tongue. Just like Felix had, Sylvain jolted and his breathing hitched— but Ingrid was surprised as one of his big hands sank into her hair and firmly kept her head anchored where it was.

Sylvain abruptly pressed heavily against Ingrid’s front, until she was tight against the raven-haired man's ropey frame, without space to so much as wriggle as his hips abruptly kicked into a quick, harsh pace. Unable to move her lower half while tied, Felix’s still-hard cock and knot buried to the hilt inside her spend-filled back passage, she had to relax, ride along— even while pleasure sparked in her belly, her chest, her spine, flaring all the way to her fingers and toes. The redhead kept thrusting into her slickened core, his slim hips slammed hard against her pelvis, his cock angled up against the other Alpha’s inside her through the internal walls of tissue. She felt the chest against her back heave as Felix cursed fervently under his breath and his hands gripped the sheets underneath them, tearing the silken fabric.

“My mates,” Sylvain bit out as one of his hands reached past her and touched the scar on Felix’s neck. Despite the heavy press of him against her, the other hand finally released her head and slipped between their bodies to clutch at the mark on her right thigh. He called out in a voice unrecognizably rough, “Mine!

Ingrid unlatched from Sylvain’s flesh and swallowed against the blood coating her tongue as she felt the first stretch of a knot when the redhead slammed back in, then ground his hips in a hard circle until it’d swelled in full and tied them. Growling bestially as his entire body shook, Sylvain spilled deep inside her, hot and thick— she silently reveled in the feeling of being filled with hot seed. Loved knowing that she drove them over the edge, that she not only received pleasure, but gave it as well. Ingrid’s body spasmed, flexing around two hard cocks that fit tightly inside, spreading her body open, filling her, but the stretching laced with discomfort was a mere undercurrent to the burning intensity of this intimate connection. The Alpha’s fully swollen knots rubbed each other and the utter fullness pressed her sweet spot; the sensation was like a jolt from a thunder spell, making her limbs jump. Her hands clutched at her lovers, pinned between their larger bodies with arms tight around her, Ingrid's toes curling and her eyes rimming with tears as she sobbed with euphoric over-stimulation.

The overwhelming sensations had her drifting for a moment— almost as if her mates’ pleasure echoed back within her. She was brought back as the three of them ungracefully tipped over together onto their sides, a hair’s breadth from rolling off the bed and spilling onto the floor entirely. It might have been more comfortable if they had, with the way both of the Alpha men’s hips locked against hers the bounce of the mattress had Ingrid yelping as it jarred their knots inside her. Felix grunted as he threw out an arm and took the majority of the fall, anchoring them into something more stable as Sylvain’s arms also braced against the bed.

“Goddess-damned,” the redhead heaved out, noisily catching his breath.

Then they gingerly shifted into a more comfortable configuration, with Ingrid sprawled between the two men as they settled against her. Sylvain looped an arm around her waist and the hand that settled on her hip was an oddly comforting presence, one that positively screamed possessiveness. While behind, her the raven-haired man shuffled closer, until they were bodily pressed together, a line of warmth from shoulders to hips.

“Sweet Serios,” Sylvain sighed, with his forehead on her shoulder. “Who knew it could be this good?”

“…haven’t you done this before?” The stray thought fell from her tongue before Ingrid realized.

“Is that what you thought,” the raised brow and smile that curved the redhead’s lips was almost taunting as he asked, “With who?”

Ingrid had to keep herself from squirming under this predatory gaze, instead wiping the blood from her lips as her face heated with an embarrassed blush. “I don’t know… some of your past conquests?”

Felix groaned, burying his face against the crook of her neck as Sylvain laughed hard enough to shake them both. “I’m flattered you think I’m so experienced, but you’re the only woman I know brave enough to try and take two knots at once, Ingrid.”

As if to make his point, one of the redhead’s big hand rested just under her bellybutton and pressed on the taunt flesh until she was overly-aware of the still-hard cocks inside her, reflexively clenching with a gasp.

“Knock that off!” Felix hissed from between clenched teeth, she felt how his thighs and hips were quivering.

“C’mon Felix,” the other Alpha sounded completely unrepentant as he said, “Half the fun of being tied is making them come on your knot.”

“You’re insatiable,” the raven-haired man grumbled but pulled her back against his chest, arms around her, hands on her breasts. He squeezed the yielding mounds and rolled her peaked nipples between his shaking fingers.

“That’s not f-fair!” Ingrid protested, but the breathy tone gave her own enjoyment.

“Our woman. Our mate.” The redhead punctuated the declaration with a shallow roll of the hips and another firm press to her belly. “Ours to spoil.”

“Willingly,” Felix sighed out. “Happily, ours.”

Sylvian nuzzled into her chest and left petulant, greedy kisses; moving up until he was licking salt out of the hollow of her throat. Felix ducked close and coaxed her head to tilt, then his open mouth was on the crook where her shoulder met neck applying hot, wet suction and light scrape of canine teeth. It had her whining and aching, though no more protests escaped her.

It didn’t take long for their insistent touches to bring Ingrid to one last shuddering climax, and as she descended from the high, she became aware of how both Alpha men had molded themselves to her, both rumbling currently with purrs. Ingrid fuzzily noted that warm, sticky seed was steadily leaking from inside her core and back passage, onto her thighs as her mates’ knots were going down with their cocks beginning to soften.

A warm presence to her left; another to the right. Two strong pairs of arms around her, cradling her protectively. As they all calmed and caught their breath, she felt absolutely boneless with satisfaction and had no energy to peel herself away from them. Instead, Ingrid felt the state of her body— not just spread open and stuffed full, but bruised in some places with a few scratches that smarted. Most of all she felt claimed, inside and out, and from the thickness of scents in the air knew they’d be reeking of each other for days.

Still Ingrid mustered enough control to turn her head and kiss them both in quick succession, murmuring, “I love you. I love you.” Sylvain smiled while Felix threaded his fingers up into her hair and carefully pet through the blond strands. They lay together in a tangled pile on the bed, the three of them lazily trading kisses while making promises and plans for the future.

 


 

The territories of Gautier, Faldarius, and Galatea were joined under the three's bonding as mates. It was one of the first steps in a more united Faerghus with a different style of rulership that listened closely to the voices of all its people, rather than the few nobles or Crested Elite. It was said to be Countess Ingrid's influence which ensured opportunities for Betas alongside other presentations in government and public recognition for their service. Duke Felix and Margrave Sylvain’s love for her and each other became a favorite subject for songs of romance, and when their Crestless Beta firstborn was declared heir none objected the choice.