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sometimes my dreams come true (sometimes they turn to blue)

Chapter Text

In comparison to the recorded history of the previous kings of Faerghus, Dimitri’s coronation is simple.

Not that he minded; if anything, he is relieved as he does not consider himself the type to desire for the fancy trimmings coming with the crown. The wounds left by the five-years long war are far too fresh that it is almost a disrespect to the citizens for his ascent to the throne to be frivolous, discourteous to the lives and homes devastated in the conflict and to those grieving. To Dimitri, the coronation is simply a formality that needs to be completed quickly for the repair across Fódlan to commence, a tradition that was obligatory to the crown and the Church of Seiros.

However, like with the coronations of his predecessors, his is held at Garreg Mach. Seteth had protested at first with the cathedral undergoing reconstruction after the decrepit state it had fallen under in the past years, rubble still blocking the altar and inappropriate for the king’s coronation. There was no time to wait for the end of the construction, not when it could take years for its restoration and the ascent of the rightful king of Faerghus needed immediately.

When the heavy wooden doors part upon his arrival and the choir begins singing a hymn, Dimitri supposes that he does not mind the sight of the rubble; if anything, it reminds him of the fresh wounds the war has left the land with and what weight he must now bear, the work that awaits after the ceremony to restore the continent. Still, he can tell that the priests tried their best to make the cathedral presentable for the ceremony: a blue and silver carpet laid between the aisles, fresh white flowers in the massive white vases, tall candles lit in their silver candelabra. He holds his head steadily, feels the eyes of the spectators on him, hears hushed whispers of he’s here and it’s starting.

Dimitri attempts to not let his gaze wander as the procession begins, but it is inevitable to spot a few familiar faces. Towards the middle of the pews, he recognizes a familiar shock of pink hair, notes the new head of House Gloucester in his customary purple, and the lack of the recognizable gold that usually accompanied them. The corners of his mouth twitch when he identifies his fellow Blue Lions occupying the front most pews, reminds himself to maintain a neutral expression when he notices Annette’s and Mercedes’ subtle little wave as he passes, Felix’s ever-present scowl on his face, and Dedue’s customary bow, his peers dressed in their finery for the occasion.

The archbishop awaits him at the altar at the end of the procession, dressed in the customary white of the Church of Seiros and a gilded headdress nestled atop her head, with her aides Seteth and Flayn behind her, stationed near the necessary trappings for the coronation. Dimitri clamps down the smile threatening to form at the sight of Byleth, ethereal as ever, and his ring around her finger, and reminds himself to be proper for the coronation, though warmth blooms in his chest when she casts him a faint smile that he’s sure only he knows despite the observant sea of witnesses.

Dimitri kneels in front of the altar and the cathedral falls silent when Byleth stands before him with an opened white and gold tome in her hands. “I present to you Dimitri Alexandre Blaiddyd, your true king who takes the oath to become the sworn protector of the Kingdom in front of the Goddess,” she begins in a clear voice, crisp yet almost melodic. He places his right hand on his chest, his other with the silver ring between the pages of the tome, as the pledging of the oath begins. “Will you commit to governing the Holy Kingdom of Faerghus justly according to its laws within the realm of your abilities?”

He holds his head high as he answers in a firm voice, “I will.”

“Will you protect your people and guide them to a path of prosperity, to attend and serve to their need?”

“I will.”

“Will you uphold the laws of the Kingdom, to execute justice and preserve peace across the land?”

“I will with the power given upon me as the king of Faerghus.”

There’s a faint smile on Byleth’s lips at the affirmation, though it fades immediately when Seteth approaches with a small marble bowl of amber-colored oil and Flayn withdraws the tome. Byleth takes the bowl into her hands before approaching him, dipping her index finger into the liquid and extending her hand to slowly draw seamless loops on his forehead. “With your oath, I now bless you with the Crest of the Goddess, she who governs the world. May she protect you as you rule over this land; may she bless you as you serve your people; may she guide you as you lead the Kingdom as you have pledged.”

Byleth returns the bowl to Flayn and Seteth hands her a heavy cape of rich blue with white trimming, which the archbishop drapes around his shoulders and fastens the silver clips, before presenting him Areadbhar. The sapphire and diamond crown of the previous kings of Faerghus follow the Hero’s Relic, sitting on top of a blue cushion, and Byleth carefully takes it in her hands to lift it for the guests to see.

“This is the crown of the King of Lions, blessed by the Goddess,” proclaims Byleth. “From this day forth, it shall be on your head as you are the king of the Holy Kingdom of Faerghus, destined to rule and protect this land evermore.”

Dimitri remains still as the archbishop places the jeweled crown on top of his head, as she declares, “may the Goddess watch over you and the Kingdom forever and always, King Dimitri of House Blaiddyd.”

With the formal announcement, the cathedral is filled with voices reciting “may the Goddess watch over you” in unison, followed by thunderous clapping and cheers of the citizens. Dimitri steadily raises himself, slowly turns to face the guests, his heavy cloak rustling softly at the movement. He lowers his head into a bow for a moment before raising his gaze, feels their silent hopes beginning to mount on his shoulders. The crown on his head meant that the long journey of repair has begun and he admits that there’s a lot to do, though it’s an understatement to describe the restoration that needs to be done after five years of war in the continent, the weight of the responsibilities he must carry as the new monarch of the unified land substantial.

As heavy it all may be, Dimitri feels hope beginning to bloom like a flower in spring, that Fódlan will now find peace after the end of the long war and the renaissance it will bring, the new dawn to mark the beginning of harmony across the land.

Dimitri glances at Byleth and she casts him a polite bow, the emerald ring on her finger catching the sunlight. Anticipation begins to root within him at the sight, only to catch himself seconds later. He supposes it is not very appropriate for him to act selfishly mere moments as he is proclaimed as the King and protector of the Kingdom, but it would be his first and last opportunity to act like so before prioritizing the realm. Dimitri affixes his gaze on hers, seeking for permission, and she returns the look, almost asking are you sure? before smiling softly when she notices his resolution. There’s no need for words, not when her answer is evident on her face, and he nods in agreement.

The applause fades into silence as the guests await the first words of the new king and Dimitri clears his throat. “As the king of the Holy Kingdom of Faerghus,” he begins. “I solemnly swear to rule justly, to protect and listen to the voices of all, and to guide this Kingdom to a path of prosperity. I promise to live for and alongside my people, for our combined strengths is important to help Fódlan heal and grow.”

Dimitri looks at Byleth and she gives him a nod, that smile he’s all too familiar and smitten with present on her lips, and he returns his gaze to the gathering before him. “And with the Church of Seiros, we will work tirelessly to create harmonious land together, one where conflict will no longer exist and the future generations will continue to cultivate. With that, I dedicate myself to this enduring responsibility.

“There is also another lifelong devotion I want to promise myself to,” he admits. “One that has been nurtured with the end of the war. And so, I hereby make my first announcement as the king of the Holy Kingdom of Faerghus.”

Dimitri holds out his hand to Byleth, who places her own on his, and he links his fingers with hers as audible gasps of surprise reverberate throughout the cathedral. He smiles at her, this time more discernible, before addressing the citizens. “I, King Dimitri of House Blaiddyd,” he proclaims in a strong voice. “Hereby announce my engagement to Byleth, archbishop of the Church of Seiros, as of today.”

Chapter Text

Dimitri fights the urge to pace up and down the aisle, impatient at the time ticking by slower than usual. When did thirty minutes feel like an eternity and had it always felt that way? He tries to not let the fretfulness settle in too much, but it’s hard for him to not feel nervous, not when one of the most important events in his life with whom he loves is to commence, and he attempts to maintain his calm, though it doesn’t slip by Dedue’s and Sylvain’s observant gazes easily.

“Your Majesty, are you alright?” The stern retainer asks, startling Dimitri out of his reverie, returning him to the present conversation with his peers dressed in their formal regalia in various shades of blue.

“O-oh, yes, I am.”

“You need to settle down there,” teases the new Margrave Gautier. “It’ll be okay – it’s almost time for the ceremony.”

Dimitri coughs, feels warmth creeping up the back of his neck. "I know and I'm fine, I promise.”

"Are you sure? Seems like you got ants in your pants there."

“Watch your language, Sylvain,” scolds Ingrid with a frown before she turns to Dimitri with an assuring smile. “It’ll be great, Your Majesty.”

Thank you, Ingrid.”

Ashe smiles. “Were you able to rest last night?”

“A bit,” Dimitri admits. “It was difficult.”

“No wonder you wouldn’t be able to sleep,” says Annette giddily. “I was up late in excitement too – I mean, a wedding!”

“Right?” Mercedes beams. “I'm looking forward to the ceremony too; I still can't believe you asked us to take care of the arrangements for your special day."

Dimitri smiles at that. “Of course – we knew you and Annette would do an excellent job.”

It was something he and Byleth agreed upon when they had begun the preparations, choosing Mercedes and Annette to lead the preparations for the wedding. The two had a demonstrated affinity for the responsibilities entailed, and with Mercedes’ connection to various merchants and the collaboration with the townsfolk of Fhirdiad who were more than eager to assist with the ceremony, the impending event and its accompanying celebration was already a sight to behold.

Despite being subjected to Cornelia’s rule during the war, the castle is preserved just as how he remembered it, the grounds cared for and the chapel somehow untouched. It made the preparatory work for the wedding easier: a pure white carpet is laid down the aisle, a grand arch covered in lush greenery and white blossoms decorates the entrance, while beautiful arrangements consisting of flowers in various shades of blue and white decorate each end of the pews and stand on massive, tall vases by the altar. Sunlight streams in from the chapel’s windows, enveloping the site with an otherworldly, almost celestial glow, as though the Goddess herself was blessing the day.

To Dimitri, everything looked perfect, the arrangement far beyond his expectations, and he wonders if Byleth has seen it as well.

The sudden thought of her sends his heartrate skyrocketing again and Dimitri lets out an audible exhale to calm himself, prompting his peers to giggle. “What?” he asks.

“You must be incredibly nervous, huh?” Sylvain grins. “I don’t think I’ve seen you like this – ah, hello Felix, how kind of you to join us!”

The newly appointed Duke Fraldarius approaches the familiar gathering in slow strides, the perpetual stony expression present on his face, contrasting his finery worn for the event. “Nervous? How unbecoming of a boar,” scoffs Felix.

“Almost late and not even a hello,” mumbles Annette with a shake of her head.

Dimitri chuckles. “Nice to see you too, Felix. I almost thought you weren’t going to make it.”

Felix grunts in response, “I said nothing like that – trying to put on this damned ceremonial uniform just took a little bit longer than expected. Why do we have to wear the same thing?”

“Because we’re part of the wedding party,” explains Ashe. “We all have to be coordinated.”

Felix lets out a hmph at the simple explanation as Dimitri smiles. “I’m glad that you made it on time – you’re one of the groomsmen after all,” says the king. “We would’ve started late without you and it has been a while since we’ve gathered like this.”

Annette giggles. “The last time was for your coronation. To think that your engagement would be your first announcement as the king… you surprised everyone, especially the citizens.”

Heat creeps up the back of Dimitri’s neck at the recollection when Sylvain grins teasingly. “You and Professor, huh? How long had it been going on without us knowing?”

The king coughs. “I don’t think I need to divulge that information.”

“That blush on your face is a serious giveaway, Your Majesty. I’d take a gander that –”

“Sylvain, don’t tease His Majesty,” Ingrid interrupts, shaking her head.

“Okay, okay,” Margrave Gautier relents with a wink. “But surely I can’t be the only one who is curious?”

“I hate to interrupt the conversation,” a serious voice cuts in. “But it is almost time for the ceremony.”

The group turns to find Seteth and Flayn, the aides of the archbishop approaching; Seteth in the customary uniform of the Church and Flayn in a dress of blue. “Everyone, we are going to direct you to your positions for the procession now,” informs Flayn with a smile.

Sylvain shakes his head. “How convenient,” he teases, prompting Ingrid to elbow him in the side in retaliation. “Ow! I’m done, I promise.”

The Blue Lions follow Seteth to the gathering of the wedding procession outside the doors of the chapel and guests dressed in various shades of blue pass by as they enter to find their seats, every single one giving their congratulations and best wishes to the king. Dimitri notes the attendance of a few familiar faces: Marianne in her light blue, Raphael with his booming laughter and Ignatz warning him to be quiet, Petra dressed in traditional Brigid attire, Cyril maintaining his serious façade as always as he guides people to available pews. The stream of people trickles down as the commencement of the ceremony ticks closer and Dimitri takes a deep breath to straighten himself, sheds his anxious appearance for one that is regal and composed when the choir begins singing.

Manuela leads the procession, taking her seat on the left of the aisle in the first row when she reaches the end of the aisle. Dimitri follows second, holding his head high as he makes his way to his designated position to the head of the altar, while Dedue is third with a blue cushion bearing the rings in his hands. Groomsmen Ashe, Felix, and Sylvain individually walk down the aisle, followed by Dorothea, Annette, and Ingrid. Flayn carries a basket during her turn, scatters flower petals with a delighted expression, and Mercedes brings the procession of the bridal party to a close.

The spectators gasp in awe as two figures enter the chapel and he feels a lump beginning to form in his throat at the sight before him. Byleth looks divine, dressed in a beautiful white gown with lace detailing and off-shoulder sleeves and a matching sheer white floor-length veil, mint locks arranged into a low bun, and a beautiful bouquet of white flowers in her hands. A tempest of emotions swirls within him as she is escorted down the aisle by Alois; elation, excitement, nervousness, and adoration all at once, overwhelming yet euphoric. There’s a smile on her face when she finally nears him after Alois takes his leave and something within him cracks, his vision blurring with a tear forming, and Byleth gently raises a hand to wipe it away.

“Don’t cry,” she soothes in a gentle voice. 

Dimitri tries to chuckle, embarrassment beginning to wash over him. “I guess I can’t help it; I’m just really happy and you’re just…so beautiful.”

Byleth smiles again, the delightful sight about to stir his emotions into a frenzy once more, and she loops her arm with his as they approach the altar as a pair.

Seteth nods to Dimitri and Byleth before he addresses the couple and their guests in a clear and strong voice, “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today...”

The rest of the welcoming words, opening remarks, and readings are inaudible and pass by in a blur, Dimitri’s attention solely focused on Byleth at his left and unable to stop the fond smile forming on his face, doesn’t even recognize the ache of his cheeks. There were no words to capture how ethereal she looked, almost as though she stepped out of a fairy tale and the sight of her incredibly enchanting. Gratitude and fondness swell in his chest, thankful for her guiding light always reaching out to him even during the darkest times, and pure feelings of love for someone dear to him.

Dimitri doesn’t realize far too preoccupied with gazing at Byleth until she cocks her head slightly to the side and Seteth clears his throat a little too loudly, finally startling him out of his reverie.

“Your Majesty,” the aide says in a low voice. “It’s time for the vows.”

The king tries to fight the embarrassed flush threatening to spill across his cheeks. “O-oh, right.”

Dedue approaches with the cushion displaying the rings and Dimitri steadies his breathing to calm himself and subdue the butterflies swirling inside him. He takes the platinum ring with the half circle of round diamonds and lifts Byleth’s left hand gently. “I, Dimitri Alexandre Blaiddyd,” he begins. “take you, Byleth Eisner, for my lawful wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part.”

He slides the ring around her finger as though to seal his vow, lifting his gaze to find fondness in her eyes as she smiles at him, and his heartbeat quickens when she takes the matching platinum band with three diamonds and his hand in her small, warm one. 

“I, Byleth Eisner,” she repeats, her voice gentle and melodic. “take you, Dimitri Alexandre Blaiddyd, for my lawful husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part.”

Byleth slips the band snugly around his finger and Seteth proclaims, “I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may now kiss the bride.”

With shaky hands, Dimitri lifts the veil over her head as he gently cups her jaw to tilt her face upwards and he leans closer, placing his free hand on the small of her back. Applause breaks out when he feels her warm and soft lips against his, and the delicate weight of her hand on his chest to steady herself. She smiles at him when they separate, eyes twinkling like the stars in the evening sky, and he beams back, heart vibrating with adoration and euphoria.

Dimitri doesn’t even register Seteth’s final blessings anymore, head brimming of thoughts of jubilation and adoration as they face their guests as husband and wife. He’s happy, more than he could ever imagine, no words able to describe the delightful storm of emotions within him at the most beautiful moment in his life. It had been inconceivable for him to imagine such joy in his life, yet here it was, all in its glory, all for him to relish and share.

The applause in the chapel is thunderous and Byleth reaches out with a free hand, intertwines her fingers with his before their first walk as a married couple. “I love you,” she says fondly, a loving smile on her face, and he swears his heart is about to burst with emotion.

Dimitri beams and squeezes her hand in his. “I love you too.”

Chapter Text

It is rare for Byleth to have a sleepless night.

The last instance she recalls was during the war prior to the decisive battle in Enbarr, hours spent lying awake and imagining multitude outcomes out of dread and worry. It feels like it had been eons ago, not as though it was only five moons since, the passage of time upon the end of the war quicker than she had imagined. But this time her cause of sleeplessness is not out of fear of the uncertainty, but from the yearning eating away inside her.

She tries to not move too much out of worry for rousing Dimitri; a glance to her side reveals his peacefully sleeping face and a smile tugs on her lips at the sight. The last few days in Fhirdiad had been busy with the seemingly endless wedding festivities and meeting with the townsfolk, getting to know her people as the queen consort of the king of the Holy Kingdom of Faerghus. But she admits that she enjoyed the revelries, every minute of it spent with him, basking in the sheer joy of their union and sharing it with their people.

But their time together was fleeting.

She has hours until she must depart in the morning for Garreg Mach once more and return to her postponed responsibilities as the archbishop of the Church of Seiros. There is still much to do for the people across Fódlan and her duties couldn’t wait any longer, not when she needs to help with the recovery of the wounds left by the war and to assist with reforms to improve the lives of the citizens and the future generations. It’s a role only she can bear, one that keeps her away from Dimitri, and her chest feels heavy at the thought of leaving his side once more as she gently tucks a stray strand of hair behind his ear. 

Panic washes over her when she notices him beginning to stir from his sleep, eye beginning to flutter open and a soft sigh escapes his lips. “My love…” Dimitri mumbles, voice thick with sleep. “Why are you awake?”

Byleth smiles gently. “I could ask you the same thing,” she answers in a soft voice, smoothing his hair away from his face. “Go back to sleep.”

Dimitri grumbles as he gestures for her to move closer to him and she obliges, snuggling into his chest and humming when he wraps an arm around her frame. He is incredibly warm, she thinks as she slides her arm under his to gently trace circles on the back of fabric of his nightshirt. She’ll miss his comforting warmth and touch during their separation and she sighs at the thought as he presses kiss to the crown of her head.

“Stay with me,” he murmurs. “Don’t go.”

“I’m not leaving until the morning, my love.”

“I know,” sighs Dimitri, buries his nose into her hair. “But I don’t want you to go.”

“I know,” she echoes. “But I must. There is a lot for me to do in the Church.”

“Hm…you should ask Seteth to do the work in your stead.”

Byleth smiles as she deliberates the idea. “I don’t think he would appreciate that.”

He lets out a sleepy chuckle and he agrees, “no, I don’t think he would.”

Dimitri begins to mimic her actions, absentmindedly draws circles on her back with his palm through the fabric of her nightgown, and she emits a soft hum. “You must return to sleep,” Byleth coaxes him. “You have a long day – aren’t you holding a council with Felix and Sylvain and the other lords?”

He lets out a grunt in response, “but if I fall asleep then it will be morning again and we will have to part soon.”

“It won’t be for long. I’ll be back before you know it.”

“Yes,” he answers softly, almost faintly. “You’ll be back home soon.”

A jolt travels down her spine at his words and she flinches involuntarily in his arms, prompting Dimitri to cast her a look of surprise. “Are you alright?” he asks, searching her gaze in concern.

“I-I’m fine, I just felt a shock for a moment.”

Home. The word tastes sweet like honey, feels warm and gentle like a soft blanket. It’s luxury she’s never had in her entire life, growing up on the road and spending her time in various towns in Fódlan, her only source of constancy being her father and his mercenary company. She’s all too familiar with the sensation of temporariness and roots never attaching themselves too deep, possessing nothing she that she could call as “hers”.

She’d cautioned herself from forming attachments with the circumstances she grew up in, especially while taking up post in Garreg Mach, reminding herself that the arrangements were momentary. But it had been hard to not feel a sense of security and stability, not when she enjoyed teaching her students and feeling like she belonged with them, as though she had always been there in the first place. It was the closest thing to something akin to a home, a place she could come back to after a weary day and surrounded by those dear to her, and a new sense of constancy despite how fleeting it was.

And now here she was with him.

Dimitri resumes tracing soft circles on her back and a soft smile tugs on her lips as warmth blooms in her chest. This was her home now, where she can always return to once her duties are fulfilled with someone whom she loves to welcome her. It’s a comforting thought to have a place she could finally call hers and a new constant in her life after the uncertainties of the war. It had been implausible before, something she had never thought about, and she murmurs a soft “thank you” as she buries her face into his chest.

His voice is tinged with curiosity when he responds, “what are you thankful for, my love?”

Byleth looks up, cups his jaw before planting a featherlight peck on his lips. “For you being my home,” she answers with a fond smile.

 


 

Byleth leaves for Garreg Mach after breakfast and Dimitri sees her off at the gates with the castle personnel gathering behind him. She gives him a farewell hug, mindful of the watching eyes of the people around them, and murmurs “I’ll be back” with a fond smile. She turns on her heel, about to walk towards her awaiting entourage before she feels a hand on her wrist, tugging gently to turn her around and her lips part, a question forming on the tip of her tongue.

Instead, she feels Dimitri’s lips on hers, leaving her breathless at the unexpected contact. She doesn’t even register the giggles and gasps of the maids and guards in the background, not when all she could sense is him; the gentleness of his lips and warmth radiating from him, the feel of his hand gently caressing her jaw, and the sound of his heartbeat under her palm.

She’ll miss him, she thinks, but she knows that it’s only a momentary separation and that she will be home to him soon enough.

The moment is cut off too soon when he steps away, cheeks and ears red in embarrassment at his sudden display of affection. “Come home soon,” Dimitri says. “I’ll be waiting.”

She smiles fondly at him. “I will.”

Chapter Text

When Dimitri sets foot in Garreg Mach, he is not the visiting husband of the archbishop. Instead, he is the king of the Holy Kingdom of Faerghus, accompanied by Duke Felix Fraldarius and Margrave Sylvain Gautier. The difference is evident; the look in his eye is serious and head held high as he is guided by a priest to the Cardinals’ Room, the same meeting room used by the archbishop and members of the state. While Dimitri and Felix are both solemn, there’s a smile on Sylvain’s face.

“Aren’t you excited, Your Majesty?” asks Margrave Gautier in a cheery voice as they wait for their hosts. “You will finally get to see your dear wife!”

Dimitri sighs. “Please, Sylvain. We are here under official business.”

“Still, don’t you feel your heart starting to race with excitement after weeks of longing? Don’t you feel your chest aching from yearning for so long –”

“If you are going to talk garbage then go back to Fhirdiad,” snaps Felix with a glare.

Sylvain ignores the jab as he continues, “I’m sure you miss Annette too, Felix – long-distance relationships are quite a test, don’t you think? Especially since you’re always travelling around with His Majesty.”

Felix’s ears and cheeks turn red as he hisses, “keep her out of this!”, and Sylvain laughs, pleased at the predictable reaction he drew out.

“I’m just pulling your leg, dear Duke Fraldarius.”

“Shut up!”

“Both of you,” Dimitri cuts in firmly, shaking his head. “That’s enough – there will be people joining us.”

Luckily Sylvain eases this time, though there’s still a smile plastered on his face, and Felix lets out a hmph as he crosses his arms on his chest. Dimitri sighs once more; he hated to admit that the red-haired man was correct – that he deeply missed his wife after being apart for weeks and that he was looking forward to seeing her again. It was hard to not yearn for her presence since her departure for Garreg Mach; their time together as a married couple too short and evenings in the castle without her presence lonelier and colder than usual.

But Dimitri knows that he did not come to the monastery for the sake of his private life – he is there on behalf of and for his people.

He bows when the archbishop enters the Cardinals’ Room, accompanied by her aides Seteth and Flayn. As usual, Byleth looks regal, dressed in a gown of white with blue trimming and her hair arranged into an elaborate twist, gilded headdress on the crown of her head catching the sunlight and sparkling as she greets them with a polite bow of her own, a faint smile decorating her face as she takes her usual seat at the head of the table.

“Please have a seat,” she says. “As you all know, I have summoned you for something very important. I apologize for how sudden it is but thank you for your swift arrival.”

“Not at all, Your Grace,” answers Dimitri. “Though I must admit that your message sounded very urgent.”

“Yes…it concerns the other side of the border.”

“Almyra?” Sylvain prompts.

Byleth nods solemnly. “We have received a pressing message from the king of Almyra himself and it is something that cannot be delayed any longer.”

Felix straightens in his seat, a grave expression settling on his features. “Is it a threat of an invasion?”

The archbishop’s lips part to answer but her voice is drowned out by the sound of the door to the meeting room opening with a startling bang, and Dimitri’s about to reprimand the uninvited guest for the commotion. But the words barely escape his lips when he registers the familiar figure at the doorway, one he hadn’t seen in so long.

“Oh dear, I didn’t mean to do that,” Claude von Riegan apologizes with his customary smile and wink. “My apologies, Your Grace; I used a little too much force there.”

Dimitri’s mouth falls open in surprise, gaze widening. “Claude?”

The former leader of the Leicester Alliance smiles pleasantly, raises a hand to wave in greeting as he takes his seat across from Dimitri’s. “The one and only,” he answers sunnily. “It has been a while hasn’t it?”

“Since the siege at Derdriu,” the king answers. “I thought you left Fódlan?”

“I did and now I have returned – temporarily.”

Felix narrows his eyes. “What do you mean?”

Claude leans back on his chair with a smile, one that has Dimitri uncertain whether it is sincere or a façade. “Well, I come bearing a message to the people of Fódlan from the king of Almyra.”

“A message?” echoes Sylvain. “Why would the king of Almyra entrust you with that?”

The head of House Riegan’s response comes out as-a-matter-of-factly. “Because I was in Almyra all this time.”

“That doesn’t answer anything,” Dimitri responds, brows furrowing. “Why would the king trust you with delivering this message?”

Claude smiles once more as he answers, “because I’m the king of Almyra.”

The men of Faerghus gape at the Golden Deer, who beams back at them, acting as though he had delivered a commonplace fact. It takes a heartbeat for Dimitri to recover from the surprise and to find his words once more. “You’re…the king of Almyra?”

“Of course, I am! Did you think I was joking?”

“Claude, that’s not something people are just going to know like it’s common knowledge,” Dimitri shakes his head, though the corners of his lips twitch upward in mild amusement mixed with disbelief. “Since when did you become king? You never mentioned you were the crown prince of Almyra.”

“Ah, well it wasn’t something I could freely mention,” Claude responds with a wry smile. “But I do possess the blood of both Fódlan from my mother’s side and Almyra from my father’s. I grew up in Almyra for most of my life, hence why I was formally announced as the heir to House Riegan only a year before I enrolled at the Officers Academy.”

The Golden Deer’s explanation prompts the gears in Dimitri’s mind to kick-start, pieces of information from the past and the present coming together to form a clearer picture and he slowly nods in understanding. “Oh, your uncle…”

“Precisely. And long story short, here I am, now the king of Almyra. Persuading my stubborn old man took a while but he gave in, especially after I told him I have a dream I needed to accomplish.”

“Ah…I suppose that explains your departure from Derdriu.”

“Exactly,” Claude smiles. “I knew that Fódlan was going to be united under your rule; that’s why I stepped down and called for the reunification of the Alliance with the Kingdom. Plus, I had to go back to my homeland to do my part as well to make my dream come to life.”

“What is this dream you’re talking about?”

The mirth transform into seriousness and the king of Almyra straightens himself, holds his head high as he answers in a strong voice, “unity in a world where people aren’t excluded for being different and for being who they are – which is why I am here today.

“I want to forge an alliance with the Church of Seiros and the Holy Kingdom of Faerghus. I want us to tear down the walls separating us so we can live in solidarity,” Claude announces sincerely. “I want us to create a land of harmony and help our people heal from the ravages of war. I can’t do it alone and I am formally asking you on behalf of the people of Almyra if you will join me in making this dream come into fruition together.”

Silence falls in the Cardinal’s Room upon Claude’s grand proclamation and he nonchalantly takes a sip of water from his nearby chalice. It’s an ambitious declaration coming from the head of House Riegan and the king of Almyra, representing both sides of the border, and one that is unprecedented in the history of Fódlan. In hindsight, the establishment of the Officers Academy had been in response to the invasions of the Almyrans and to also raise generations who would lead the continent; peaceful foreign relations for both lands would be the most ideal, though Dimitri speaks up with a solemn look. “Are you serious about this, Claude?”

Claude casts him another enigmatic smile. “Would I lie about something like this, Dimitri?”

“No,” the king of Faerghus admits with a shake of his head. “You wouldn’t because I can hear the truth weighing on your words.”

Sylvain turns to his sovereign, corner of his lip quirked upwards. “That’s quite a grand proclamation from the king across the border, Your Majesty. What is your answer going to be?”

“You already know, Sylvain – because we want to do the same with the people of Sreng,” Dimitri answers before proclaiming in a firm voice, “As the king of the Holy Kingdom of Faerghus, I agree to forge a formal alliance with Almyra and the Church of Seiros.”

With the agreement of the king of Faerghus, the sovereigns representing both sides of the border turn to the archbishop. “Any objections, Your Grace?” prompts Claude with a smile.

There’s a smile on Byleth’s face as she shakes her head and gives her own response, “I, too, formally give my word as the archbishop of the Church of Seiros to agree on establishing an alliance with Almyra and the Holy Kingdom of Faerghus.”

Claude looks relieved and pleased all at once, beaming in satisfaction at the unified answers to his proclamation. “Thank you, Your Grace, Your Majesty,” he answers, gratitude evident in his voice. “Together we can change this world for the better for our people and the future generations.”

This time, it’s Dimitri who smiles brightly at the thought as he nods. “Yes. I look forward to it.”

 

 


 

 

(The archbishop suspends the meeting once the deliberations for opening Fódlan’s Throat reaches its second hour and Dimitri is thankful for the moment to be able to walk around and clear his head. His steps automatically take him to the third floor of the tower overlooking the monastery grounds and he takes a deep breath, inhales the refreshing mountain air.

His moment of solitude ends abruptly and he turns around when he hears footsteps, a smile automatically forming on his lips at the sight of Byleth approaching him. She smiles back and Dimitri automatically takes her into his arms, envelops her in a hug and relishes her familiar warmth.

“I missed you,” he confesses.

“I missed you too,” she echoes before leaning back and reaching out to take his face in her hands, drawing him close and pressing chaste kiss on his lips.

Their tender moment together is short when the couple hears a cough and they pull away, turning their heads to the direction of the noise, and Dimitri’s voice rises in embarrassment, a furious blush appearing on his cheeks and extending to his ears. “W-what are you –”

Claude and Sylvain exchange mischievous grins before hastily retreating into the monastery to escape the impending combined wrath of the Blue Lion and their former professor.)

Chapter Text

Despite their coldness, Byleth prefers the evenings in Fhirdiad.

It is quiet in the quarters she shares with Dimitri, the king out in the training grounds with his lance and Dedue in tow as his sparring partner, the only audible sound in the room is of the fire crackling in the hearth and the occasional rustle of the pages of the book in her hands. She has looked forward to this peaceful and relaxing moment back in the comfort of her home, punctuating the continuous bustle in her days that has grown to be her norm. It is her well-deserved respite after being away for a moon and she relishes it knowing that it is fleeting.

In the protection of her quarters, she is not the archbishop of the Church of Seiros nor the queen consort of the Kingdom subject to the eyes of her people, not a seasoned warrior and tactician. She is just Byleth, head resting on fluffy pillows and comfortable under the covers with a book on the history of the Holy Kingdom of Faerghus. It’s a sense of ordinariness that is rare to come by for someone described to be extraordinary and blessed by the Goddess herself, someone regarded highly by the entire land, and Byleth embraces the commonness like warm blanket, all too aware of the rarity of this moment.

Just as Byleth turns the page of the tome, the door to the chambers opens and she turns her head to find Dimitri entering, running a towel through his damp hair and dressed in his sleeping clothes. He smiles at her fondly, sits on the edge of the bed and leans over to press a kiss to her cheek. “What are you reading, my love?” asks Dimitri curiously.

Byleth sits up and adjusts her position, showing him the cover of the volume. “History of the Kingdom, starting with the King of Lions.”

He smiles once again as he continues to dry his blond locks. “That’s quite a choice for bedtime reading.”

“I don’t get much time to read for leisure,” Byleth admits. “This would be the only time I can do so and it wouldn’t look good for the archbishop and the queen consort to not know much about the history of the land.”

Dimitri’s brows furrow. “Did someone say that to you?”

She shakes her head, reaches out to gently stroke his knuckles reassuringly. “No, it’s just something I thought about myself.”

He settles himself on the bed to sit beside her, loops an arm around her shoulders to pull her to his chest. The corners of Byleth’s lips twitch as she leans into him, hums as she feels his warmth. “You work so hard every day,” mumbles Dimitri into the crown of her head. “You need to rest too.”

“I am resting.”

“Yes, but I’m not sure that reading up on the history of the Kingdom would count as resting.”

I’m not sure if sparring with your vassal before bed would count as resting.”

Dimitri laughs at the return and presses his lips against her temple. “Touché.”

Byleth smiles at her victory, though she wedges her bookmark of pressed flowers created by Annette between the pages of the tome and closes it before placing it on the small table by her side of the bed. “You need to rest too,” she reminds him. “You work hard every day and always train with Dedue and the knights.”

“I need to maintain my form; I can’t lose to Felix.”

“Since when did you have a rivalry with him?”

“Ever since he started to make me spar with him every time he comes to Fhirdiad.”

Byleth chuckles. “Of course, he would. Still, you need a moment to rest – you’ve been working hard ever since your coronation.”

“I know but there is a lot to do,” answers Dimitri, resting his head on top of hers, fatigue seeping into his voice. “I turned my back on my people for so long and I need to atone for my actions. The land is healing but there is still so much for us to accomplish and change so the people and the future generations can prosper and live peacefully.”

Something twinges within Byleth at his weary tone, feels their considerable yet invisible weight. She admits that he is correct, that there is still so much to achieve to improve the lives of their people and change both the government and the Church. It is a slow, uphill progress to their goal, reforms never instantaneous but she knows that their results will bear fruit soon. Regardless, she can’t help but feel concerned at the weight Dimitri is carrying, the unceasing labour to work towards a better future, and wonders if he is pushing himself relentlessly for the sake of atoning for his sins.

Even a king needs his rest and she wonders if he even grants himself a moment of respite when she’s away in Garreg Mach.

Byleth turns, reaches out to take his face in her hands and plants a peck on his lips. “You’re doing a spectacular job, Dimitri,” she assures him. “And you did great today.”

Dimitri gazes at her fondly, a smile breaking out on his face at the sudden compliments, an expression that makes her feel incredibly fond. “Where is this coming from, my love?”

Her fingers lightly brush against his cheeks. “I just want you to know that you’re doing a great job – you always do. But you deserve rest for all you do every day; I want you to spend this time with me and just let things go.”

“That’s a difficult task you are asking of me,” Dimitri jests, that smile still present on his face.

She raises a brow. “Should I instruct you how to have a peaceful moment of reprieve?”

“Like in the old times?”

“Of course,” Byleth nods solemnly. “I believe I am still a capable professor.”

Dimitri chuckles, leans forward to kiss her forehead. “Then I will take you up on it. What should I do?”

Byleth leans against his chest and he instinctively wraps his arm around her frame to keep her close, resting his head against hers again. “Just let your thoughts pass through,” she tells him in a soft voice, gently stroking his hand once more. “Breathe and let go of anything weighing on you at this moment.”

Dimitri sighs and she can feel his posture gradually easing as he does as he’s told, his breathing slowing as they sit in silence together. Byleth closes her eyes and lets her fingers absentmindedly stroke his knuckles, savours the peace enveloping the two of them and a faint smile forms on her lips. She wants to pause the time to remain in this rare moment together, punctuating the bustle in their lives with their respective responsibilities that occasionally separated them across the continent. The weight of their duties weighs heavily on their shoulders every day, both bearing hopes of their people and their own goals to ensure the prosperity of Fódlan. Byleth admits that it is challenging; their roles not quite forgiving, not when the lives and future of their people are in their hands.

Still, it is a reward to be able to take off their titles and enjoy a quiet evening together after the end of a weary day, away from the eyes of the public. It is an ephemeral moment, one that she can tuck in her mind and heart for the times she is away from him, and she sighs softly as she feels his warmth enveloping her.

Byleth doesn’t know how long they’ve been sitting silently together when Dimitri shifts and her eyelids flutter open as she feels him gently cup her jaw before planting a kiss on her lips. His gaze is full of affection and he leans forward once more to press his forehead against hers.

“Thank you,” he says softly. “I love you.”

Byleth smiles. “I love you too.”

Chapter Text

Byleth falls ill a week after the commencement of the Ethereal Moon.

She closes her eyes, steadies her breathing as she rests her head against the plush pillows readied by Mercedes. The start of the day marked her fourth nauseous morning in a row, something that she had prepared herself for yet she was still unable to tolerate. Her former student had instructed her to rest and to “take it easy”, chiding her to be careful in the future, and the corner of Byleth’s lips twitch in amusement at the thought that the professor was now the student

Still, Byleth couldn’t help but be restless and mull over Mercedes’ findings, her hand resting on her belly. It was not a surprise to her, something she had already predicted after she and Dimitri discussed starting a family together, but she admits she feels nervousness mixed with the excitement at the same time. Motherhood was something entirely different from teaching students the art of combat and tactics and the idea of bringing a child – her firstborn – and raising them in the world made her anxious at her inexperience. She wonders if Jeralt had felt the same way after having to raise her alone after her mother’s passing, and an ache begins to bloom in her chest at the thought of her father.

"If he was here, what would he say?" she thinks to herself, fingers curling tightly on the sheets.

But Byleth opens her eyes after a heartbeat and stares at the ceiling as she exhales deeply, hopes to shake off the butterflies beginning to take flight within her. As nervous as she may be, she’s not alone in raising the child, not when she has Dimitri at her side to ensure their child grows safe and sound and to shower with love. The idea prompts her to smile, only for it to vanish a moment later at a sudden realization.

He has yet to find out.

She wonders how she’s going to deliver the news to him; knowing her husband, his response would vary depending on the words she would choose – tearful, excitement, panic, or a combination. But before she could mull over her options, her train of thought is interrupted when she hears the doors to their shared chambers open quietly and she watches Dimitri approach and sit on the edge of the bed.

Dimitri reaches out to take her hand in his, fingers softly brushing against her wrist. “How are you feeling, my love?” he asks. Concern is evident in his gaze and Byleth extends her hand to gently pat his cheek reassuringly.

“A bit better,” she answers with a soft smile. “Don’t worry too much.”

Dimitri shakes his head, though she sees a smile of relief beginning to break out across his face. “You are asking the impossible. Has Mercedes found out what is ailing you?”

Byleth carefully chooses her words as she responds, “yes…though it’s not an illness.”

“What do you mean?”

“Dimitri…” Byleth pauses for a moment as she begins to carefully choose her words before deciding to push through with the admission bluntly. “I’m pregnant.”

Dimitri gapes at her, his mouth falling open yet no sound comes out and Byleth almost wants to laugh at his shocked reaction out of endearment. But she chooses not to and smiles at him instead, patiently waiting for him to process the news. It takes him a moment to regain himself, though the most he can sputter out is a bewildered, “what?”

“I’m with child,” she repeats, a smile breaking out across her face. “We’re going to have a baby.”

Dimitri freezes, his ice blue eye growing wide at the announcement and lips parting once more in surprise. “A…baby?”

“Yes, a baby.”

“Oh…” he breathes, still in shock. “A baby.”

She feels laughter about to escape her lips but she chooses to stifle it as she squeezes his hand. “Our child.”

“Yes…” Dimitri agrees as he nods, looking down at her hand in his. He falls silent for a moment before his head snaps back up, a startled expression on his face. “Oh Goddess, a baby. Our own child. Our firstborn.”

Byleth chuckles at his delayed reaction. “Yes, my love. That’s what I’ve been saying.”

Dimitri stares at her for a heartbeat before he blurts out, “we need to start preparing right now. One of the rooms in the castle needs to be turned into a nursery, the baby will need clothes, we need to convince Gustave to educate them when they’re older – oh! And names, we need to think of names –”

“Dimitri,” she interrupts firmly, squeezing his hand once more to return him to the present. “Slow down. You are thinking ahead far too quickly.”

Dimitri pauses and lets out a steady exhale to calm himself. “O-oh, of course. I’m sorry, my love, I got carried away there for a moment. I’m just…oh Goddess, a child.”

Byleth smiles at him fondly. “I know. You seem to be very excited.”

“I don’t think excitement even covers how I am feeling right now. I’m just…I can’t believe we’re having a child and we’re going to be parents…” Dimitri’s voice trails off as he looks down at their hands and the anticipation on his face shifts into worry. “My love, what are we going to do?”

“What do you mean?”

Dimitri bites his lip as he lowers his gaze again. “I’m…I’m just worried; it’s our firstborn and I don’t know what to expect. We’re going to raise a child – how do we do that?”

The weight of his nervousness and uncertainty is evident and she feels another pang in her chest as she forces herself to sit up, startling her husband when she pulls him into an embrace and buries her face into his shoulder. Dimitri’s posture relaxes and he presses his lips against her temple, her palm draws soothing circles on his back in response. “I’m nervous too,” she admits softly. “I’m excited to have a child but I’m nervous about raising them since it’s going to be our first time. There are many things we need to learn and do to make sure they grow up wonderfully in this world.

“But we’re not alone, my love. We have each other and we’re going to learn together – we’re a family, aren’t we?”

Dimitri pulls away slightly from the embrace to gaze into her eyes, his lips forming a gentle smile as he nods. “Yes, we are.”

Byleth smiles, reaching out to tuck a stray lock behind his ear. “And we know people who are experienced with childrearing – perhaps we can ask Gustave and Lady Dominic for their guidance. It’s going to be a learning process – we’re not going to be perfect parents right away but what we can do is to try our very best to be loving and patient.”

Dimitri is silent as he gazes into her eyes, the furrow of his brow gradually easing and he manages a chuckle. “Of course,” he nods slowly. “Yes. I’m sorry for my outburst – that was quite unbecoming of me.”

“There’s no need to be – I understand you’re nervous; I am too. I think anyone would be, especially at the news of their firstborn.”

He leans in close to plant a kiss on her forehead. “Thank you, my love,” murmurs Dimitri. “I needed to hear that.”

“I need to hear it too,” she admits. “But if my father could raise me on his own while working as a mercenary then we can raise our own child too.”

Dimitri chuckles at that, warmth swelling in her chest at the lighthearted sound, the worry weighing on him dissipating. “That’s true. Didn’t you tell me that you ate parchment once when you were a child?”

“Haven’t you?” asks Byleth with a raised brow. “Every child out there surely has eaten something they shouldn’t have before – whether it be parchment or dirt.”

“I don’t think I have but I do remember trying to sneak out one of the horses from the stables when Sylvain dared me to.”

The couple chuckles together at the memories and Byleth speaks up, “I suppose we need to prepare ourselves for whatever antics our child will get involved in.”

Dimitri smiles at the thought. “We do – but that’s part of the experience of being a parent, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” she agrees, smiling back at him. “Yes, it is.”

“We’ll go through it together, my love. I promise you.”

Dimitri reaches out to capture her in an embrace and Byleth smiles as she buries her face into his chest. His very presence is a reminder that she’s not alone, strong and warm and comforting all at once. The waves of worry begin to subside as she rests in his arms, hope beginning to blossom for the future ahead of them.

 

 


 

 

 

(Seteth receives an owl from Fhirdiad on a sunny day in Garreg Mach, immediately recognizes the archbishop’s familiar scrawl on the front of the envelope when the messenger drops it on his desk during his afternoon tea with Flayn. He sets down his teacup to open the correspondence carefully as Flayn stares at the delivery curiously.

“Who is it from, brother?”

“From Lady Byleth,” he answers, taking out the small piece of parchment. “Shall I read it out loud?”

Flayn nods. “Yes, please do!”

Seteth takes a sip of his tea as he gives the message a cursory glance, only to burst into coughing fits, prompting Flayn to set down her teacup in concern.

“Oh my, what’s wrong?”

He’s unable to formulate an answer as he continues to cough into his handkerchief and she picks up the paper to examine the contents herself, a delighted gasp escaping her lips a second later.

 

Dear Seteth,

I hope you and Flayn are well.

Dimitri and I are expecting a child. Please give us your childrearing advice.

Sincerely,

Byleth Eisner Blaiddyd

 

P.S. I hope all is well in Garreg Mach.)

Chapter Text

The crown prince of the Holy Kingdom of Faerghus is born on the twenty-third day of the Horsebow Moon.

By the time Dimitri makes the public announcement of his son’s birth to the anticipating citizens, half the day has already passed. He barely recalls it, hours passing by like a blur: Byleth going into labor, Mercedes and the clerics ushering him out of the chambers to wait outside after his pacing around got in their way, the overwhelming tempest of worry and excitement within him as he waited, and finally being able to see her and their newborn after what seemed like an eternity. Exhaustion weighs on him, bones aching and eyes puffy from the earlier incessant flow of joyous tears, the adrenaline finally wearing off – but he knows his wife has been through something far more arduous yet also incredible all at once.

His weariness disappears when Byleth smiles at him upon his return to their shared bedchambers, their son nestled against her chest, and he smiles back with his heart full at the sight. “The streets are alive with festivities,” Dimitri informs her. “I imagine they will continue for days.”

She chuckles softly. “I imagine so too.”

As if to agree with them, their son emits a gentle coo as he snuggles closer to Byleth’s chest and she smiles before leaning forward to kiss his head. Dimitri sits on the edge of the bed, the smile from his address with the people still plastered on his face as he watches the small bundle in his arms. “He’s wonderful,” he comments fondly. “I can’t believe he’s ours.”

He watches Byleth gently stroke the newborn's cheek with her thumb, eyes twinkling with adoration at the sleeping bundle in her arms. “He’s perfect,” she murmurs. “He’s everything I imagined him to be.”

Dimitri reaches out to gently play with his son’s tiny hands and a smile tugs on his lips when the newborn’s digits curl around his index finger. “He’s going to be strong when he gets older.”

“Yes…I suspect he inherited your monstrous strength.”

“You think so? Perhaps he will take up the lance just like his father.”

“Not when he’s the child of a mercenary.”

Dimitri chuckles and leans close to plant a quick kiss on her cheek. “What about whichever he wants?”

“That I can agree with,” she answers with a smile, before suddenly following up with a, “here, hold him. My arms hurt.”

Dimitri’s about to stammer a protest but the child is already in his arms, the words failing to escape his lips as he feels his son’s weight and watches the newborn’s ice-blue eyes staring at him. While the birth was already hours ago, it still never ceased to amaze him that their son was finally into the world after nine months of waiting, that he was theirs for them to hold and kiss and coo words of adoration, incredible and perfect all at once. Nothing could have ever prepared him for something so magnificent, the reality of birth and holding the fruit of their love far more incredible than what he had imagined. Dimitri leans close to press a kiss on his son’s blond head, his heart swelling with pride and love.

Byleth gazes at the two of them with a fond expression, her eyes alight and twinkling, outshining the stars flickering in the skies on clear nights. “He takes after you,” she comments. “The blood of the Blaiddyd runs strong.”

He chuckles. “My father would have been pleased – though I’m not too sure about Jeralt.”

“He would probably tell us to try again so something from our side of the family will show up.”

A blush blooms across Dimitri’s cheeks at her words. “T-try again for another child?!”

“Shhh, my love, you are going to startle him,” Byleth cautions. “And it was just a jest – though I wouldn’t be opposed to having another child in the future if you aren’t as well.”

The redness of embarrassment spreads to his ears and he stammers, “w-well if you aren’t, t-then I’m not either b-but we need to learn how to raise him first!”

The infant shifts in Dimitri’s arms, nestling closer to his chest, and the king emits a  whisper in response. Byleth beams at the sight, continuing in a gentle voice, “he still needs a name, my love. Maybe we should try and see if he would react to any of the names we suggest.”

“Will that work?”

She shrugs. “Who knows. If he doesn’t then we will just see which one stays.”

Dimitri chuckles and gazes down at his son lovingly. With the franticness and overwhelming joy of the crown prince’s birth, they still had to decide on his name, despite deliberating on many over the moons leading up to their child’s birth. One had yet to be a good fit and their peers had sent their suggestions to assist with the considerations; Annette was all too eager to generate a list of names while others like Claude and Sylvain had suggested their own (“What’s wrong with my name?” the Golden Deer had demanded when the couple gave him a lackluster reaction at the suggestion) for the newborn. It was challenging to decide a name for their son to bear for the rest of his life, the task almost daunting, though he supposes that it would be worth a try to see if their son would react to a name and claim it as his.

“Do you have any ideas in mind?”

“What about Gabriel?”

Their son makes a noise, almost as though to disagree with the suggestion, and Dimitri offers a, “Lucien?”

When the crown prince stays silent in response, Byleth continues. “Tristan?

The suggestion is met with a yawn from the newborn and Dimitri suggests, “what about Edmond?”

Their son stares at Dimitri for a moment and Byleth is about to suggest another name in response to the silence, but she pauses when his eyes crinkle into crescent moons and a gummy smile breaks out across his face as he coos in response, almost as though approving of the name. Dimitri can’t help but smile back widely at the sight, his heart swelling full with adoration as he kisses his son’s head again. “Edmond…” he murmurs. “That will be your name, my child.”

Byleth smiles lovingly. “That’s a perfect name,” she says. “He needs a middle name too, as per the customs of Faerghus.”

Dimitri glances down at his son, who yawns sleepily, and he smiles again at the sight. “Do you have any in mind?”

“Well, I was thinking of Lambert.”

He freezes in surprise before turning to his wife, the smile still on her face. “What?”

“Edmond Lambert – that’s quite a fitting name, don’t you think so, my love?” asks Byleth, leaning close to gently stroke her son’s hair. “The blood of the Blaiddyd is strong in him and I think it sounds nice.”

Dimitri looks down at his child once more and the newborn smiles again, revealing pink gums, and warmth fills his chest as he murmurs softly, “Edmond Lambert Eisner Blaiddyd. I think that sounds quite nice.”

Edmond coos softly in response and the couple smile down at their child. “Welcome to the world, little one,” Byleth says softly. “We’re so happy you’re finally here.”

“Yes…we’ve waited so long for you,” he adds with a fond gaze. “Happy birthday, Edmond.”

The crown prince yawns, his eyes slowly fluttering close as he falls asleep in his father’s arms, and the couple exchange glances, happy expressions still on their faces. It’s another beautiful moment in their lives, another one for them to share, and Dimitri swears that there’s nothing that can compare with the joy and love he feels for his son as he glances down at the sleeping newborn.

“Sweet dreams, little one.”

Chapter Text

Dimitri doesn’t like being away from Fhirdiad far too long.

It’s been almost two weeks since he departed for Fódlan’s Locket to oversee the opening of the fortress as part of the alliance with the neighboring Almyra, transforming the stronghold into a trading site and a port of entry, signifying a step towards peace between both kingdoms. Dimitri is proud; it is something that would have been deemed impossible in the past, yet it had come into fruition, reminding him that peace between both lands was possible. It was a momentous occasion with merchants and citizens gathered to commemorate and bask in modest festivities, the development of connections and trade already taking place before their very eyes, the hostilities and walls of the past disassembled for unity to take root and grow.

While it is a substantial moment in history, Dimitri admits he longs to return home in Fhirdiad. He’s not used to being away from Byleth and Edmond for extended periods of time; spending the day tending to the affairs of the kingdom was the most he spent separated from them since his son’s birth three months ago. Worries plague him the longer he spends away from them; wonders if they’re faring well in the onset of the cold winters in Fhirdiad, if something has happened while he was gone, how they were doing in his absence. He can’t help but wonder if this was how Byleth felt whenever she had to depart for Garreg Mach to attend to the Church, the pang of missing his family almost painful and the longing a little too much to bear.

But Dimitri keeps everything tucked within him and continues to hold his head high; he is the king after all and as much as he yearned to return home, he had to attend to his responsibilities. Still, the nights in Fódlan’s Locket feel lonely despite his lively surroundings, colder despite it being in a more temperate region of the continent, and he lets out a forlorn sigh as he returns to his designated chambers for the evening to spend another sleepless night.

“Dimitri,” Claude’s voice calls out, prompting the king of Faerghus to pause in his tracks and turn around. The Golden Deer and king of Almyra walks up to him, that perpetual easygoing smile on his face.

“What is it, Claude?” asks Dimitri. “Is something the matter?”

“No, not at all – though I should be asking you that question.”

Dimitri stares at him. “Pardon?”

“You seem…occupied.”

“What do you mean?”

Claude shrugs. “You don’t seem to be quite present, Dimitri. Of course, you’ve been fulfilling your duties ever since you arrived; they’re perfect, but perhaps a little too perfect.”

Dimitri furrows his brows. “Claude, what are you trying to get at?”

“What I’m saying is that you are distracted. Something’s on your mind and as your ally and distant relative, I’d love to hear you out.”

“Are you really going to use our blood lines as a reason?”

“Hey, House Riegan is a cadet branch of House Blaiddyd. What kind of relative would I be if I didn’t offer my assistance?”

A sigh escapes Dimitri’s lips as he shakes his head. “You are frustrating, Claude.”

“I’ve been told!” The king of Almyra laughs. “Now, what’s been on your mind lately? Is it the archbishop and the crown prince?”

The Blue Lion freezes, ice blue eye widening in surprise. “How did you –”

“My my, I got it right, didn’t I?” Claude winks. “But to be honest, it was obvious, Dimitri. Everyone can tell that you are always thinking of your family. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course – anyone would think of their family, especially someone who is a new father – and you have been completing your tasks properly. But I’ll be assertive and offer you a suggestion – no, I’m giving you a command.”

“What makes you think that I will obey with this command of yours?”

“Because my command is for you to depart for Fhirdiad tomorrow and return to your family.”

The order strikes the king of Faerghus speechless and rooted at his spot, the most he’s able to do is part his lips slightly yet no words come out. Claude appears to be satisfied, grinning once more as he continues, “well then! I’ll take your silence as a ‘yes’. I already informed Felix and Sylvain that you will all depart for Fhirdiad in the morning and all that’s left for you is to get a good night’s rest and ensure all of your belongings are gathered before you leave.”

Dimitri manages a sound that is a mix of a croak and a cough at the same time, prompting the king of Almyra to laugh as the Blue Lion tries to find his words. It takes a moment for him to do so, finally managing a “thank you”, simple yet carrying the weight of gratitude at the gesture. 

“No worries, Dimitri,” says Claude with another smile. “Do give my greetings to Teach and little Eddie when you get back, alright?”

Dimitri nods. “Of course. You have my sincerest thanks, Claude.”

Claude reaches out to pat his shoulder reassuringly. “Any time, my friend.”

 

 


 

 

When Dimitri and his entourage return to Fhirdiad on horseback, it is snowing. The entire city is blanketed by flurries cascading from the darkened skies, dusting the cobblestone paths and roofs of the castle and edifices across the capital. It is colder compared to when he left for Fódlan’s Locket, his breath visible as white puffs of air and citizens bundled up in their warmest clothing of wool and fur. As Dimitri dismounts his steed for the stablehand to attend to, he can’t help but grow concerned for his wife and his son; Byleth had yet to grow accustomed to the cold winters of Faerghus and Edmond was still new to the world. He hurries into the castle once bidding Felix and Sylvain farewell, prompting the Duke and the Margrave to roll eyes and laugh respectively at his hurry, taking long strides to his destination.

His heartbeat quickens when he reaches the wing of the castle where his shared quarters with Byleth and Edmond’s nursery room are located, warmth blossoming in his chest when he notices that the door to their chambers is ajar, elation taking flight when he makes out a familiar figure with mint-green hair arranged into a twist standing by the window.

“My love,” Dimitri manages breathlessly, not entirely sure if it is from his hurried strides across the castle or from the love he feels threatening to overflow at the sight. “I’m home.”

Byleth turns around at the sound of his voice, Edmond cradled against her chest, surprise on her features as he approaches closer. “Dimitri? When –”

Dimitri catches her question when he kisses her, lips warm and soft and something he’s missed over the days he was gone, his heart swelling with adoration when she hums against his. There’s a smile on her face when he pulls away, her eyes twinkling as she looks up at him fondly. “Welcome back, my love.”

“I’m home,” he murmurs, leaning down to press a kiss on his son’s head. “Papa is home, Ed.”

Edmond stares at him before his eyes crinkle into crescent moons and smiles widely almost as though to respond to his father and Dimitri smiles lovingly. “I missed you both,” the king confesses.

“Is that why you are back so suddenly?”

Dimitri blushes. “W-well, Claude commanded me to return home.”

Byleth chuckles. “How generous of him,” she comments before looking down at the child in her arms. “What do you think, my sweet? Isn’t your Uncle Claude nice to send Papa home?”

Edmond gurgles and the king laughs, extending his arms out to take his child. Byleth obliges and shifts Edmond’s weight into Dimitri’s arms, the infant cooing as his father adjusts him against his chest. “You’ve grown accustomed to holding him,” she comments with a pleased smile.

He smiles down at the crown prince who stares at him, ice blue eyes mirroring his own. “Of course,” answers Dimitri with pride. “I have to learn to how to hold my child.”

“I think he missed you.”

Dimitri looks down at his child fondly. “I missed him too,” he murmurs. “I missed both of you so much. How were things while I was gone?”

“Cold,” admits Byleth. “It grew colder in Fhirdiad after you left and it would snow sometimes too – but I think today’s snowfall is the heaviest it’s been. How was Fódlan’s Locket?”

“It went well; the fortress is now a gateway into both kingdoms and they can engage in exchange with one another,” Dimitri responds. “Duke Goneril and Claude are both happy that the strife is over and that we can work towards improved relations and livelihood for our citizens.”

She smiles, eyes twinkling. “I’m glad to hear that. You all worked hard to make it happen.”

“You too, my love. The Church helped with the mediation to ensure it would go smoothly.”

Byleth shakes her head. “Only just a little bit.”

“Come now, you must take credit where it’s due.”

You also need to practice what you preach.”

“Baaa!” Edmond chimes in, startling the couple and prompting them to turn their attention to him. The infant smiles at them, showing pink gums, and Dimitri chuckles before leaning to kiss his son’s head once more.

“I think he agrees with me,” he muses.

“I don’t think so,” says Byleth, reaching out to softly tickle Edmond under his chin with her index finger. “Isn’t that right, my little one?”

Edmond burbles and she laughs, a light and melodic sound as she also kisses the top of the infant’s head. Dimitri smiles contentedly, euphoria blooming within him for his loved ones. While he was barely gone for a moon, it felt like an eternity to return to his family, and he relishes their reunion once more, their warmth and touch too real for it to be an illusion. Byleth reaches out and gently pats his cheek, prompting him to turn his gaze towards hers.

“I’ll get tea ready,” she informs him. “You must be tired and hungry after your journey; supper isn’t until later but will some sandwiches suffice?”

Dimitri nods. “Thank you, my love, I appreciate it.”

Byleth smiles. “I’ll leave the two of you for a moment then.”

When his wife departs for the kitchens, Dimitri carefully adjusts Edmond’s position in his arms and walks towards the windows overlooking the snowy landscape of Fhirdiad. “It’s still snowing,” he muses. “I suppose winter is here to stay.”

Edmond stares out at the window, eyes curiously watching the snowflakes drifting down from the skies. “Next year, we can play outside in the snow – Mama’s still trying to get used to the winters here but we’ll make sure she also plays with us. We can make snow people and snow forts and snow angels.”

The crown prince gurgles, almost as though agreeing with the suggestion, and Dimitri chuckles. “And when spring is here, we can go outside together, little one,” he murmurs. “It will be a bit warmer and the flowers will be at full bloom. It’s still a bit cold though but it would be nice if we can take you outside for a little bit.

“When you’re big enough, we can go for a walk around Fhirdiad and if your mother would allow it, a horse ride past the gates. Then you can start taking lessons from Gustave to learn how to wield a sword, just like how I did when I was younger – though I think your grandfather would prefer it if you take up the lance just like us since members of House Blaiddyd in the past have mastered it.”

Dimitri pauses, a wistful sigh escaping his lips. If Lambert and Jeralt were still in the world, they would have been able to hold their grandson in their arms, watch him grow to become his own person just like how they watched their own children grow up. “Your grandparents would have been thrilled to see you grow up too.”

The crown prince lets out another noise, as though sensing his father’s melancholy and attempting to assure him, and Dimitri smiles in response as he cradles his son in his arms, “but I think Jeralt would have wanted you to also learn the sword, just like Mama. It would have been interesting to see both argue over you; I wonder whom you would have preferred? Perhaps they would have even tried to bribe you to win you over.

“But I think you will excel in anything that you want to learn and do and we will make sure we support you and your happiness,” Dimitri says. “The world out there is big, my little one – so many things to learn, see, and do – I’m sure you’ll find something that you will be passionate about. I’m excited for you to explore and to watch you grow into your own unique person.”

His son reaches out with his tiny hand as though to touch his father’s face and mimic Byleth’s gesture of affection. Dimitri chuckles once more and leans forward to kiss his son’s fist before looking out the window to observe the snow-covered landscape of Fhirdiad, flurries continuing to cascade from the skies. In the future, it would be his son inheriting the throne to Faerghus and ruling from the capital city, protecting the citizens and working alongside them towards continuous peace and prosperity. Hope and excitement bloom within him at the thought; he admits he has high hopes for Edmond to become a just ruler, attending to the needs of his people and preventing the cycle of the strong trampling the weak from occurring once more, but Dimitri knows that he and Byleth will need to guide and support him with infinite patience and kindness to get to his destination as he grows older.

Edmond coos as he beams up at him, eyes bright and mirroring his very own, and Dimitri smiles back lovingly as he presses a kiss on the crown of his son’s head again and holds him closer. He wonders if it’s the euphoria of parenthood affecting his thoughts and turning him into a fool for his son, but it didn’t matter.

Not when he would do anything for his son; more than willing to give the entire world, the moon, and the stars just to protect Edmond’s happiness, to ensure his safety, and for a bright future for him and the next generation.

Chapter Text

After Edmond’s birth, the seasons pass by in three peaceful cycles as Fódlan’s wounds heal and the continent begins to rise from the ashes.

In the four years of Dimitri's rule as the king and Byleth's guidance as the archbishop, the continent undergoes a transformation that is steady and continuous, like a tree planting its roots and beginning to grow upwards. While it is gradual, the changes accompany the dawn of Fódlan's new era: the new alliances and improved foreign relations; formerly barren landscapes after the damage of the war gradually improving; ongoing reformation of the government and the church respectively in favor of transparency, equality, citizen involvement; the continuing efforts to uproot embedded prejudices and high values placed on Crests.

There is still much left to do – or rather, to still do, their work towards a more prosperous and peaceful Fódlan continuous. Yet Byleth knows that their efforts are for a better future, one where their people and the future generations can live together in equality and harmony, the idea giving her hope that the peace will continue to spread its roots and grow strong in the time to come. Nevertheless, it pains her to leave Dimitri and Edmond behind in Fhirdiad whenever her assistance and wisdom are called for by those who need help; but it is a small sacrifice she must make to help make strides towards better prospects in a world her son will grow up in.

Still, she is a mother and leaving her child behind is never an easy process, thoughts of Edmond always in the back of her head as she tends to the affairs of the church and to assist the citizenry. Edmond was always under capable hands and observant eyes during her absence, especially with Dimitri taking the responsibility to heart to ensure their son was never alone, but it was different from being around Edmond. It feels like he grows exponentially whenever she departs even for a week, as though she has missed out on a milestone that she should have been present for instead of working.

Oh, and he grows, faster than weeds, and before she knows it, Edmond learns to take up the sword shortly after his third birthday.

Byleth finds herself smiling with pride as she watches Edmond wield his small training sword and learn its proper accompanying stance, his unsteady movements guided by Gustave Dominic after much convincing. It still amazed her that the tiny life she had nurtured in her belly was growing up quickly before her eyes; her son already three years old and beginning to be too heavy to carry in her arms, energy increasing by the tenfold, and his vocabulary continuously developing. Edmond’s personality is also unveiling itself as the time passes – curious and smiling and eager all at once, her sunshine always beaming with positivity and kindness towards those around him. 

In no time Edmond will learn how to read and write, receive riding lessons, and be educated in the affairs of the kingdom, just like his father and his grandfather before him. Byleth admits that she feels delighted at Edmond’s growth as she watches him, but she can't deny that she feels the pang of bittersweetness that he will grow too big soon. Every moment with her son is a reminder for her to cherish the remaining moments he is still small enough to sit on her lap, to put to sleep for the night after reading the same book for the nth time, to satisfy his curiosity about the world around him.

She watches Edmond’s face scrunch in determination as he raises his arms high with his training sword in his hands, swings it downwards for the first time before turning to his mother, eyes alight with excitement as he waits for praise. Byleth smiles and nods approvingly, prompting the crown prince to beam back in delight and for the lesson to resume.

The bench she’s sitting on creaks with additional weight and Byleth shifts her gaze from watching Edmond to face Dimitri, a loving smile on the king’s face as he sits closer to her.

“How is Ed doing, my love?” asks Dimitri in a low voice, leaning close to press a kiss to her cheek upon his arrival and looping an arm around her waist as he observes Edmond repeatedly swing his sword.

“He’s doing well for his first time,” she answers, resting her head on his shoulder. “He is also listening well to Gustave and follows his instructions.”

Dimitri chuckles. “I’m wondering if it’s because you are watching.”

Byleth smiles. “We will see how it goes next time.”

The royal couple sits and silently observe the remainder of Edmond’s tutoring, the little prince practicing his form and swings under Gustave’s observant eye. Pride, relief, and joy bloom within her as she watches her son, growing with each passing day. She had uncertainties about raising her first child, fear stemming from her inexperience, the thought of nurturing her offspring and teaching them the ways of the world daunting. But the sight of Edmond was an assurance that they were doing their best, the boy growing up with so much love and kindness and genuine curiosity for everything around him. Each day with him was always a learning experience for them, something new to take away and help them improve as parents, and something new to discover about their child.

As Edmond swings his sword with a cry that reminds her of Caspar von Bergliez, she has a thought that Jeralt would have been proud, prompting a faint smile to tug on her lips. He would have been pleased with the sight of his grandson growing up and how he was doing with the sword, and she can vividly imagine her father watching over Edmond’s form, just like how he did when she was younger.

Just like a true mercenary, she thinks, the sound of his voice and bark of laughter all too clear.

“Mama! Papa!” Edmond chirps, dashing over to where his parents are sitting once his tutoring ends. A bright smile is present on her son’s face as he launches himself into Dimitri’s open arms and takes their faces in his tiny hands to press kisses on their cheeks. “I’m done!”

Dimitri smiles. “You did well, Ed. Isn’t that right, Gustave?”

Gustave nods with a faint smile of his own on his face. “The more practice you do, the more you will get better as you get older, Your Highness.”

 “Thank you!” Edmond beams, eyes twinkling at the positive feedback.

“That’s all for today, my little one,” says Byleth. “You need a bath before we have lunch.”

The crown prince pouts. “A bath?”

“Yes, you need to be clean before we eat.”

Edmond sighs dramatically in defeat, prompting his parents to chuckle. “Okay. What are we eating?”

“I don’t know, my sweet. We’ll find out when we start eating.”

“Oh, I hope it’s Gautier Cheese Gratin!”

Dimitri chuckles as he sets down his child on his feet on the ground. “I hope so too, Ed. Now say thank you and goodbye to Gustave for your lessons today.”

Edmond bows politely, his gesture reminding Byleth of Dimitri, and prompting her to smile. “Thank you, Uncle Gustave!”

“Excellent work today, Your Highness,” smiles Gustave. “I will see you later.”

Dimitri scoops up Edmond in his arms once more after the couple gives their thanks before their departure from the training grounds. The child lets out a yawn as he rests his cheek against his father’s shoulder, prompting Byleth to reach out and gently ruffle his hair.

“Are you tired, sweetheart?”

“No, I’m not!” Edmond shakes his head almost defensively, but another yawn escapes him, and Dimitri chuckles.

“Just hang there a little bit more, okay? Bath first, then lunch, and then a nap,” his father says. “You had a long morning today, learning about horses and how to use a sword.”

Edmond yawns once more. “Okay.”

Byleth smiles, catching Dimitri’s attention, who smiles back. As they walk back into the castle, her heart feels full with contentment and love towards her husband and their son in his arms. No words could capture how happy she feels, their time together as a family one of the most beautiful moments in her life, and she’s glad to have each time with them despite their work towards a brighter future separating them for brief moments. Nonetheless, it serves to remind her of the kind of world they want to see him and their people to live and prosper in, the one they’re working towards continuously.

As Edmond beams sunnily at his parents, Byleth thinks that she will do anything and sacrifice everything to protect him and his happiness.

 

 


 

 

Dimitri sighs into the crook of Byleth’s neck, wrapping his arms around her sleeping frame and relishing her warmth. It’s rare for her to sleep before him but he doesn’t blame her for growing impatient; his entire day had been spent in isolation in his study and reviewing new decrees devised with the assistance of the citizens before their enactment, his only time for break were meals with his family and to help Byleth put Edmond to sleep. It was incredibly late, even for him, and he welcomes the heaviness of sleep beginning to weigh down on him, the sound of rain pattering against the windows and the low rumble of thunder lulling him. 

But his eyes flutter open when he hears the door to the bedchambers open, followed by the sound of light footsteps approaching, and Dimitri carefully adjusts his position to not wake Byleth and to turn on his side. “Papa,” says Edmond in a hushed voice, standing by the bed with his loved blue stuffed lion in his arms, a present from Mercedes during his second birthday the year prior.

“Ed? What’s wrong?” asks Dimitri in a gentle voice, slowly getting up to kneel in front of his son to meet him at his level. “Why are you awake?”

The child opens his mouth to speak, but he’s interrupted by a booming crack of thunder and lightning, and he launches himself into his father’s chest, small fingers clutching the front of his shirt tightly. Dimitri lets out a soft soothing noise as he envelops Edmond into a warm hug, hand gently tracing reassuring circles on his son’s back.

“Papa, I’m scared,” Edmond mumbles.

“It’s okay to be scared,” Dimitri answers soothingly. “Do you want me to stay with you?”

Edmond nods and Dimitri picks him up in his arms, quietly opens the door of the bedchambers before stepping out into the dimly lit hallway of the castle. He makes his way to his son’s room across the hall as the drumming of the rain against the windows grows stronger and he feels Edmond’s small hands clutch the front of his shirt tightly at the tempest, prompting him to soothingly pat the child’s back.

He sets himself and his son on the bed, Edmond snuggling closer to him with his stuffed lion as Dimitri fluffs up the pillows and surrounds themselves with blankets. Edmond looks up at him, eyes bright with curiosity. “Papa?”

“Yes, Ed?” Dimitri smiles, reaching out to smooth away his son’s blond hair from his eyes.

“Do you love Mama?”

It’s a question posed to distract from the storm outside but Dimitri answers truthfully. “Of course, I do. I love Mama very much.”

“What about me?”

“I love you too, Ed.”

Edmond holds up his stuffed lion. “Even Blue?”

Dimitri chuckles. “Even Blue,” he echoes.

Edmond giggles, pleased at his father’s answer. “Papa?”

“Yes?”

“What do you love about Mama?”

It’s an innocent question, yet it prompts a furious blush to spread through Dimitri’s cheeks, and he’s thankful for the dimness of the room. He’s unsure how to answer the question and he begins to feel overwhelmed trying to formulate a response that his son can understand; the love he has for Byleth something that words could not truly capture or string into a coherent sentence. He’s unsure where to begin, not when there’s many things he’s grown to cherish about her over the time they’ve spent together: her continuous patience and kindness, unyielding determination even during the hardest times, how expressive her eyes were – lighting up at something fascinating and the subtle way they crinkle whenever there’s a fond expression present on her face, her smiles that have grown frequent by the tenfold ever since the end of the war, the warmth of her hands –

“Papa?” Edmond asks as he stares at him, his voice cutting into his thoughts and startling him.

Dimitri clears his throat, feels heat blooming across his cheeks once again as he tries to answer his son’s earnest question. “Well…I love a lot of things about Mama.”

“Like what?”

“I love how Mama is very kind,” Dimitri begins as he gently strokes his son’s hair. “She cares for us and also for everyone who lives all over Fódlan. I also love how happy Mama looks when she’s smiling and when you tell her a story – I think she likes it a lot."

“I like it when she tells me stories too,” Edmond chimes in.

“Me too,” Dimitri agrees. “Mama’s also very brave and very smart and I love how she loves you very much.”

Edmond giggles when his father reaches out to bop his nose lightly. “It’s late, Ed,” Dimitri coaxes, shifting the topic to distract the child. He’s unsure if he’ll be able to answer another question posed by the curious little prince, the embarrassment from earlier still warm on his cheeks. “Let’s go to sleep or you won’t be able to play tomorrow.”

“But what about the storm?”

His father leans in to kiss the top of his head, a gesture of protection and fondness. “I’ll be here to protect you, little one.”

“Promise?”

“Promise.”

Edmond yawns as he makes himself comfortable against his father’s chest, his tiny arms wound tightly around his stuffed lion, and Dimitri gently strokes his hair to lull him to sleep. In no time, the child’s eyes close shut and his breathing evens out as he falls asleep, and Dimitri smiles at the peaceful sight in front of him.

"Goodnight, Ed," he murmurs, adjusts the blankets around his son. “Sleep tight.”

 

 


 

 

(When Byleth stirs just as the edges of the dark skies begin to make way for dawn, she doesn’t feel Dimitri’s usual warmth or weight against hers. Instead, his side of the bed is cold and empty and untouched, as though he didn’t spend the night there. She forces herself to sit up, glancing around the chambers and finds the door open by a crack, an unusual sight. It is unusual for Dimitri to be absent or for him to leave the door open, and she wonders if he rose early to train with his lance.

But Byleth decides to investigate, curiosity getting the best of her as she rises to her feet and grabs a nearby flannel shawl to drape over her nightdress. She could faintly remember the storm passing overnight, a vague idea tugging in the back of her mind as to where Dimitri was, and she emerges into the still dim hallways of the castle, her feet taking her to a familiar room across the hall. Her hand on the knob on the door leading to Edmond’s chambers is light as she carefully pushes it open and a smile forms on her face as she enters.

Edmond is snuggled up to his father while hugging his stuffed lion, Dimitri holding him close while in deep sleep. Byleth quietly approaches, adoration blooming within her at the serene sight of her husband and her son sleeping together. It is a rare moment to catch and she wants to stop the time to remain within it, to keep the memory engraved in her heart. An overwhelming wave of joy and fondness threatens to burst within her as she watches them, a beautiful and heartwarming sight of her family – her very own to cherish, raise, and return to.

Byleth reaches out to pull the covers higher to keep Dimitri and Edmond warm and leans in to press light kisses on the crowns of their heads.

“Sleep tight, my loves.”)

Chapter Text

On the tenth day of the Harpstring Moon, just as the flowers begin to bloom for spring, Byleth goes into labour for the second time.

Dimitri’s lost count how many times he’s been pacing in his study all day in anticipation, his steps an endless loop from the windows to the doors on the other side of the room. He had thought Edmond’s birth almost four years prior would be enough to prepare him for the second occurrence, yet the nervousness and excitement hit him all the same – if not, worse. He constantly reminds himself to remain calm throughout the day as he waits for the news, concern and the need to know what was happening heightening and vibrating throughout him, yet it was his fretfulness that got him removed from the quarters in the first place.

“Dimitri, I love you,” Byleth had managed between gritted teeth, breathing punctuated by the onset of pains accompanying the labour, brows furrowed at the sight of her husband frantically pacing around the room. “But you need to get out.”

He’d barely had time to argue, Mercedes already pushing him out of the chambers before closing the door behind him with a sunny smile on her face. “You’ll feel better once you’re outside, Your Majesty. Someone will fetch you once the baby has been delivered!”

If Dimitri’s being honest, he’s not sure if being absent from the room as his wife was giving birth was making him feel any better, not when it feels like an eternity had already passed and there was still nothing but silence.

Dimitri pauses to look at Edmond, sitting on a nearby armchair with an opened picture book on his lap. While he was restless, the little prince was calm and humming to himself as he read his book, patiently waiting for the news of the birth of his younger sibling. Dimitri can’t fight back the smile forming on his face at the tranquil sight and he approaches his son.

Edmond looks up and he beams at his father. “Papa, do you want to sit?”

Dimitri leans down slightly to pick him up, sitting down on the armchair while seating Edmond on his lap and proceeds to kiss the top of his head. “Are you excited to meet your younger sibling, Ed? You’re going to be a big brother.”

Edmond nods enthusiastically, closing the picture book. “I am! But I think Papa is more excited than I am.”

He blushes at his child’s innocent observation, though Dimitri supposes that his incessant pacing and fretfulness throughout the day was telling enough even to a child almost four years old. “You’re right, Papa is very excited.”

“Mama will be okay, right?” The crown prince asks, staring at him with curious eyes. “She’s been in the room for a long time.”

“Yes, she will be,” he answers. “It was like this when you were born too.”

“Really?”

Dimitri smiles, ruffles the top of his son’s head and earning a cry of protest. “I was so nervous for you and Mama. Your Auntie Mercie told me to wait outside too because she said I got in the way and Mama got mad at me.”

“Just like right now?”

“Just like right now,” echoes Dimitri with a nod, feels embarrassment creeping up once more at his son’s innocent question. He can’t help but wonder if Edmond inherited his insightfulness from Byleth or if his actions made his feelings so visible that the child could understand them right away. Still, he wouldn’t be surprised with either answer.

“Papa?”

“Yes, Ed?”

“Do you think I’ll have a baby brother or a baby sister?”

“I don’t know, Ed. Mama and I are happy as long as the baby is safe and they grow up well just like you.”

“Oh,” Edmond nods slowly, deep in thought as his fingers curl around his chin and his elbow rests on his palm. “Me too!”

“Really? You’re okay with a brother or a sister?”

“Yes! As long as we can play together!”

Dimitri can’t help but smile at Edmond’s earnest answer and he ruffles the boy’s hair again, resulting in a pouty expression to appear on his face. “I’m sure you will have many fun adventures with your younger sibling, Ed.”

Edmond beams at his father’s reassurance, his grin reaching from ear to ear and incredibly bright. Dimitri’s about to press another kiss on his son’s head when the door to his study opens, prompting him to turn and raise his gaze to find Dedue standing at the doorway, pensive as always.

“Dedue,” acknowledges Dimitri, heartbeat beginning its frantic pace. “Is there any news?”

“Yes, Your Majesty,” the loyal vassal answers after a swift bow. “Her Highness has given birth.”

Relief washes over Dimitri and he exhales, feels the tension built up within him over the past hours gradually easing as the news settles in. “Goddess, that’s wonderful! How is she and the baby doing?”

“They are doing well, Your Majesty. Would you like to visit them?”

Dimitri glances down at Edmond, who nods eagerly in response. “Very well. We will go.”

He scoops up his son in his arms as Dedue leads the way to down the hall to one of the spare chambers in the castle prepared for the birth, excitement beginning to bubble within him at the thought of being reunited with his wife and meeting their new child for the first time. The anticipation flourishes when they near their destination, the sound of the crying newborn growing as they approach, and he cautions himself to maintain steady steps with Edmond in his arms.

Clerics bustle in and out of the designated birthing chamber, each bowing quickly in greeting with smiles before resuming their tasks and Dimitri sets down Edmond on his feet, the little prince promptly pulling his father by the hand. “Auntie Mercie!”

Mercedes turns upon the sound of their arrival and Dimitri’s gaze immediately flickers to the crying newborn in her arms, with a full head of blond hair and swaddled in a blue blanket. Relief washes over him immediately at the sight of the baby – his son – and he shifts his gaze to Byleth, a bright and mesmerizing smile decorating her face despite the arduous ordeal, and he feels his heart swell with so much love as he prepares to take a step closer.

But he pauses. 

A newborn in a pink blanket is resting against her chest, sound asleep, and the sight strikes him silent. Dimitri stares at the baby in Byleth’s arms and then back to the baby held by Mercedes, his gaze widening in surprise and his mouth falling open. “What –”

Byleth beams at him and Edmond. “Twins, my loves. We have two new members to our family.”

Mercedes smiles in her usual sunny way, holds out her arms to transfer the baby into Dimitri’s arms. “Congratulations, Your Majesty! Both Her Highness and the twins are healthy. I have a feeling they are going to grow strong just like Prince Edmond.”

Edmond turns his attention to her, blue eyes alight with excitement after looking back and forth between the newborns in his parents’ arms. “Auntie Mercie, who is first?”

“Your little sister came first, Your Highness. And then your little brother arrived about ten minutes after.”

Whoa…” Edmond answers in amazement, his eyes growing bigger. “That’s so neat!”

Mercedes laughs, reaches out and pats Edmond’s head before turning to Dimitri and Byleth. “I will leave all of you to be able to spend some time together but the clerics will be coming and going.”

“O-oh, of course,” stammers Dimitri, finally beginning to recover from the initial shock at the news of the two new members of their family. “Thank you so much, Mercedes. You have my gratitude.”

With another smile and a quick bow, Mercedes departs from the room, leaving them to bask in the joy in the arrival of the newborns. Byleth motions at Edmond and pats the empty side of the bed, prompting the child to climb over the edge and sit beside his mother. “Look, my sweet. Say hello to your little sister.”

Dimitri feels the corners of his lips twitch upwards as he sits on the edge of the bed with his newborn son against his chest, watches his eldest son stare at his younger sister curiously. “Hello little sister,” Edmond whispers. “I’m Edmond.”

The oldest of the twins stirs slightly in her sleep, almost as though reacting to his words, and Edmond turns to his parents with his usual bright beaming smile. “I think she understands me!”

Byleth smiles fondly as she leans to press a kiss on Edmond’s forehead. “I think so too. What about your little brother?”

Edmond obediently follows the suggestion, adjusts his position to turn to the baby in his father’s arms, and whispers a “hello, little brother” in greeting. The soothed newborn yawns as he snuggles closer to Dimitri’s chest and Edmond giggles, eyes crinkling into crescent moons. Dimitri can’t fight the smile on his face, an incredible swell of adoration and delight blooming within him at the sight of his family before him. His heart swells with gratitude – for Byleth’s health after the birth, the safe delivery of the twins, and the growth of his family. His vision begins to blur as hot tears form at the overwhelming onslaught of emotions, and Edmond gasps softly at his side.

“Papa, don’t cry,” their son murmurs, his tiny hands reaching out and gently wiping it away. “It’s okay.”

Dimitri sniffles and manages a chuckle at Edmond’s comforting words, reaching out and patting the top of his head. “Thank you, Ed. Papa is just…really happy. I’m so thankful that Mama and your siblings are safe and healthy, and you are too. I’m just really, really happy.”

Edmond beams at him, taking his father’s face in his small hands before placing a kiss on his cheek. “Me too, Papa! I’m very happy!”

Byleth’s gaze is warm and twinkling with affection. “I’m very happy too,” she echoes, a warm and loving smile forming on her face. She rests her head on his shoulder as they sit together with their children, happiness and tranquility cocooning them protectively, and Dimitri leaves a fond kiss on her cheek before leaning his head against hers.

“I love you,” he murmurs quietly. “I love you all so much.”

Dimitri wonders if it’s enough to truly describe the adoration, delight, and thankfulness blossoming within him, comparable to the flowers blooming from the warmth of spring. There weren’t enough words in existence to capture the love he feels – wider and deeper than the ocean, more vibrant than the rainbow emerging at the end of a storm, warmer than the rays of the sun on a clear day. It leaves him wondering if Byleth and Edmond know how dear they are to him, whether his words and gestures are enough or if he should demonstrate more, uncertainty lingering in the back of his mind.

But his worries dissipate when Byleth reaches out with a free hand to gently pat his cheek, her touch warm and soft, and he can feel that she knows. “I love you too.”

 

 


 

 

The sky above Fhirdiad is clear and blue when Dimitri emerges with Edmond on the castle balcony overlooking the castle grounds and the hundreds of citizens gathered below, the anticipation evident for the king’s announcement. He can still vividly remember standing at the same spot almost four years ago when Edmond was born, revealing to their waiting people the birth of the crown prince. Dimitri feels nostalgia tugging within his memories as he stands before the citizens with his now older son at his side, Edmond’s hand clasped in his.

“Papa,” his son whispers. “Are you going to let everyone know?”

Dimitri smiles and nods. “Yes – everyone has been waiting.”

Edmond beams at him. “Good luck, Papa! Remember to use your outside voice.”

The king chuckles before clearing his throat, straightening himself as he casts his gaze at his people. “Dearest citizens of Faerghus, I thank you all for gathering here today. As you may all know, we have been expecting the arrival of the newest addition to our family. On the fifteenth hour of this day, our dearest Lady Byleth, queen consort of the Holy Kingdom of Faerghus and archbishop of the Church of Seiros, has given birth – to not one, but two new members of House Blaiddyd.”

Gasps and cheers resound throughout the crowd, punctuating the announcement, and Dimitri smiles warmly as he waits for the silence to return. “I hereby announce the safe births of Princess Carine Iris Eisner Blaiddyd, eighteen minutes past the fifteenth hour, and Prince Aldric Jeralt Eisner Blaiddyd, thirty minutes past the fifteenth hour.”

The applause of the people accompanying the declaration is thunderous and Edmond beams at Dimitri when the ovation gradually subsides after a moment. “Papa, you’re doing great!”

Dimitri chuckles again as he ruffles the top of Edmond’s hair before addressing the citizens once more. “Both Lady Byleth and the twins are doing well,” he says. “From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for your well wishes.”

He turns to Edmond and with a nod, they both turn towards the people and bow together in gratitude. The deafening roar resumes once again, still audible even when Dedue escorts them to return inside, and Edmond grins up at Dimitri as he catches his father's hand in his tiny one.

“Papa,” he begins.

“Yes, Ed?”

“You did great out there.”

Dimitri picks up Edmond in his arms and kisses him on the forehead, prompting the child to giggle. “You did great too, little one.”

“I’m not little anymore!” protests Edmond as his father heads to the direction of the twins’ designated chambers. “I’m a big brother now!”

Dimitri chuckles as the child snuggles closer to his chest. “Yes, you are, Ed. You most definitely are.”

Chapter Text

The frown on Dimitri’s face is present, his brows still furrowed even as he observes Aldric and Carine sleeping in their matching bassinets as the sunlight streams in through the windows of the nursery. Byleth reaches out and gently pats his cheek to assure him, but all she receives is a heavy sigh as he nuzzles her palm with his nose, the sound heartrending.

“I don’t want to go,” Dimitri mutters forlornly.

It’s a childish display, unbecoming of a king, but it prompts a smile to form on Byleth’s face as she raises another hand to cup his jaw. “I know,” she acknowledges. “But you must; you are the king.”

Dimitri sighs again. “I know,” he echoes. “But I’m also a husband and a father.”

The heaviness he feels is reflected in his voice, a pang searing in her chest at the weight of his worry. Byleth is no stranger to separation from Dimitri; the early years of their marriage punctuated with her departures to Garreg Mach and his expeditions to other regions of Fódlan. But this will mark the first time that they will be separated days after she gave birth, departing from his family so soon in comparison to the previous. She admits that she also doesn’t want him to leave but she knows that she cannot be selfish, not when their work towards peace within Fódlan and the neighboring nations is still continuous. Sylvain continued to labor tirelessly to improve relations with the people of Sreng and to encourage a shift from the belief that Relics and Crests were of utmost importance; it was only proper for the king of Faerghus to accompany him to work towards amended affairs with their neighbors, especially considering their history riddled with strife.

It is hard to maintain the distinction between their personal lives and their responsibilities to the kingdom, especially with the arrival of Aldric and Carine in their family. But she knows that they must, a peaceful future for their children and the citizens and the future generations shaped by their decisions. Still, while she is also the archbishop and the queen consort of Faerghus, she is his wife, and the yearning and momentary separation were never easy. But she maintains a strong front, smiles at him as she stands on her tiptoes to plant a chaste kiss on his lips, a gesture of reassurance for the both of them. “We will be fine, my love. Don’t worry about us.”

“You’re asking the impossible," Dimitri answers with a teasing tone, one that she knows is an attempt to comfort himself.  “You know I always worry about you and Ed – and now we have Aldric and Carine.”

Byleth wraps her arms around him and rests her head against his chest, relishes his warmth as he pulls her closer to him. “What worries you?”

“Everything – if all of you will be okay, what if something were to happen –” Dimitri pauses for a moment as he turns his head to glance at the sleeping newborns. “And that I’m not here to help you with the children if I leave.”

Byleth hums. “Things will be fine here, my love; we have so much help from the nursemaids and the attendants.”

“I know –”

“And besides,” she continues, taking his face in her hands and squishing his cheeks together. “I am an experienced mercenary.”

He chuckles at that, taking one of her hands in his and brushing his lips against her knuckles. “I haven’t forgotten what you’re capable of.”

“Really? It didn’t seem like it,” Byleth answers with a raised brow, though she continues in a gentle voice, “Dimitri, things will be alright. I know you worry about us and it’s hard not to because I worry too whenever one of us must leave. But you are the king of Faerghus – you are the symbol of peace and the expedition to Sreng is a step towards working a more peaceful relationship with them.”

Dimitri searches her eyes, concern and affection evident in his, and Byleth smiles as she gazes up at him. “It will be fine, my love. I promise,” she reassures.

It’s a simple vow, yet it has an effect as she feels him beginning to relent, his tense posture and hold around her easing before he leans forward to press his forehead against hers. “I love you,” murmurs Dimitri. “I love you so much.”

A tender sensation of adoration blooms within her at his confession, one that she’s grown accustomed to over their years together. Byleth knows, she knows all too well that Dimitri does even without needing to say the words; his affections obvious in every warm gesture, each bright gaze directed her way, and all their shared conversations. Still, his declaration sends a tingle down her spine and all the way to her fingertips as she leans into his touch and her fingers lightly brush against his cheeks. “I love you too.”

Dimitri smiles and he nuzzles his nose against hers, but they pause when they hear an audible whimper from one of the bassinets. He loosens his hold around her before leaning over to pick up one of the twins, coos at the newborn in his arms. “Carine, why are you awake so early? You’ve only been sleeping for an hour.”

Carine yawns and Byleth smiles as she reaches out to gently stroke her daughter’s cheek with a thumb. “Hello, my sweet. Did you have a good nap?”

Their daughter’s jade green eyes stare at her for a moment before her eyes crinkle into crescent moons and mouth forming a wide gummy smile, and Dimitri chuckles, presses a light kiss on the crown of her blond head. “If you’re awake then that means Aldric will wake soon.”

“He will; they always influence one another – if one cries then the other one does too,” she says before beaming at Carine. “Isn’t that right?”

Carine maintains her gaze at her mother and Dimitri begins to gently rock the newborn in his arms. “You and Aldric have to behave while I am gone, little one. Don’t cause too much trouble for Mama and Ed,” he murmurs before kissing the top of her head once again. “I’ll miss you all so much.”

Byleth reaches out and gently pats his cheek, another attempt to soothe him. “You won’t be gone for that long – perhaps for a week or two?”

“I hope so,” he agrees. “I don’t want to be apart from you and the children for too long, especially with how new the twins are to the world.”

Her lips part to comfort him once more, but she pauses when she hears the entrance to the nursery creak open. Byleth and Dimitri turn to watch Edmond peer from behind the door, his eyes alight with curiosity. “Mama? Papa?”

A smile forms on Byleth’s face and she kneels on her knees with her arms open, prompting her son to excitedly rush into her embrace, and she kisses his cheek. “Hello, my sweet. Are your lessons finished?”

Edmond nods enthusiastically as he stares up at them. “Mama, Papa, guess what I learned today?”

Dimitri hums, brows furrowing as he thinks. “Hmm… did you learn about horses?”

Edmond shakes his head. “No! That’s for tomorrow.”

“What about using a lance?” offers Byleth.

Their son shakes his head once more, a beaming grin forming on his face when he reveals the answer, “Uncle Gustave taught me about wyverns!”

"Is that right? You should tell Papa and me what you learned today when we have lunch."

“Okay!” answers Edmond, eyes bright at the suggestion, and he shifts his attention to his younger sister. "Hi, Rinnie! It's me, Ed."

“Rinnie?” Dimitri echoes. “Is that Carine’s nickname?”

Edmond grins and he nods happily once again. “That’s their nicknames! Aldric is Ricky and Carine is Rinnie.”

Byleth smiles at Edmond as she stands up once again. “Did you think of it yourself?”

“I did! Aren’t they cute?”

“They’re very cute nicknames, sweetheart,” she agrees, reaching out and patting his head, smoothing out his blond hair. “Well done.”

Edmond beams once again, before turning his attention to his sleeping younger brother in his bassinet. “Will Ricky be waking up soon too?”

“I think so,” Byleth answers. “When one wakes up then the other one does too.”

“Whoa…that’s so neat!”

Dimitri chuckles at his son’s earnest fascination while carefully transferring Carine into Byleth’s arms, kneels in front of him to meet his eye. “Ed, Papa needs to tell you something.”

“What is it?” asks Edmond, his head tilting slightly to the side in curiosity.

“Papa is traveling to Sreng with your Uncle Sylvain and Uncle Felix for a few days to meet with the people there,” he explains, gently stroking Edmond’s hair. “Can you be a good boy and listen well to Mama while I’m gone?”

Edmond nods in response. “Yes, Papa!”

Dimitri smiles and extends his pinky finger. “Promise?”

Their son mimics the gesture, wrapping his tiny pinky finger around his father’s to seal the agreement. “I promise!”

“Thank you, Ed,” Dimitri says, kissing the top of the child’s head and smiling at him. “Papa feels better about leaving now.”

“I’ll be good and take good care of everyone, Papa,” Edmond assures, hugging his father and kissing his cheek. “Don’t worry!”

Byleth exchanges a glance with her husband, almost to say I told you, as she adjusts Carine in her arms. Dimitri chuckles, straightens himself and pulls them closer to him relief evident in his features and posture at the reassurance. “I love you all so much,” he murmurs. “I’ll be back soon.”

 

 


 

 

Dimitri departs for Sreng the day after.

Byleth had thought of herself as someone who portrayed composure even in during the most arduous times, yet their farewell at the castle gates had been an emotional moment, his warm embrace and protective kiss on her forehead leaving her misty-eyed. She hadn’t expected it to perturb her emotions, not when she’s used to their moments of separation, but she supposes it’s inevitable with his departure taking place so soon after the birth of their children. Still, Byleth knows that everything will be alright and that it will pass peacefully, just like how things in the past had been.

Everything will turn out fine while Dimitri is gone, she thinks, a smile forming on her lips as she watches Edmond sing to himself with Aldric in his arms, because she’s not alone.

“Mama,” says Edmond, turning to her with a beaming grin as they sit together on the daybed in the twins’ nursery room. “I think Ricky understands me.”

Byleth adjusts Carine against her chest, her daughter sleeping soundly after a fitful hour. “Is that right?”

He nods. “He’s staring at me while I sing the teddy bear song Auntie Annie taught me!”

Byleth gazes at the bundle in Edmond’s arms; Aldric’s jade-green eyes staring up at his brother as he resumes singing in a soft voice. She reaches out with a free hand to gently stroke the newborn's soft blond hair, her smile still tugging on her lips. “I think he also likes the song, my sweet.”

Edmond beams and kisses the top of his brother's head just as he yawns. “I’m glad you like the song, Ricky – Auntie Annie made it!”

“We’ll have to let your Auntie Annie know that Ricky likes the teddy bear song when she visits next time.”

He smiles at the suggestion and nods enthusiastically. “I think she will be happy!”

“I think so too,” Byleth agrees, reaching out and patting her son on the head as he resumes cooing softly to Aldric, his head swaying side to side as he sings about teddy bears searching for honey in the woods. Since Dimitri’s departure in the morning and with the end of his morning lessons, Edmond had yet to separate himself from her and the twins, taking his promise to his father seriously. He was like her little shadow, following beside her and observing any slight movement with interest, delivering joy and love to her and his younger siblings.

A fond smile forms on her lips as Edmond continues the song for another cycle, and she extends her hand to gently smooth out his bangs away from his forehead, her heart full with love. There’s nothing that can truly describe the adoration she feels for her children; her love for Edmond, Carine, and Aldric far greater than the universe and deeper than the depths of the oceans. She understands Dimitri’s worry and hesitance to leave, especially when she would also be concerned if they were to be separated, her willingness to do everything to protect them stronger than anything else in the world.

Byleth leans close to press a kiss on Edmond's forehead and the child giggles, turning to her with another bright grin of his. “Mama,” Edmond begins.

“Yes, Ed?”

“Can I tell you a secret?”

“Of course. What is it?”

“Promise you won’t tell Papa?”

“I promise.”

Pinky promise?” Edmond prompts, holding out his pinky finger towards her direction, and Byleth intertwines hers with his own as she nods.

Pinky promise,” she echoes with a smile.

“Okay! Well, I think Ricky and Rinnie will look like Mama,” he says. “But don’t tell Papa, okay? I think he will be sad.”

Byleth chuckles, ruffles Edmond’s hair. “Really? What made you think that they will look like me?”

“I don’t know,” he answers truthfully. “I just think so.”

“That can happen. But they’re still babies so we’ll have to wait for a few years before we find out – just like with you.”

Edmond’s eyes grow wide at the news. “Really?”

She nods. “Yes – back when you were a baby, Papa and I weren’t sure who you would look like but now that you’re getting bigger, I think you look just like Papa.”

Edmond giggles. “Mama, do you think Papa is handsome?”

A blush blooms across Byleth’s cheeks at his innocent question, though she buries the embarrassment threatening to sink in when she responds sincerely, “Of course, I do.”

“Then does that mean I’ll grow up to be handsome like Papa?”

“You most definitely will, my little one.”

Edmond grins, satisfied with the answer, before shifting his gaze down to Aldric in his arms, the newborn’s eyes now closed as he drifts to sleep. “Mama?”

“Yes, darling?”

“When will Rinnie and Ricky start playing with me?”

“Well…probably after their first or second birthday when they are able to walk. Why do you ask?”

Edmond looks pensive, looks down at Aldric then at Carine, before looking up at his mother. “I want us to be able to play hide and seek outside together,” he says earnestly.

Adoration and endearment fill her chest, a warm sensation spreading all the way to her fingertips at his sincerity, and she smiles as she kisses the top of his head. She can understand his anticipation for his siblings to grow, finally having companionship to share a close bond with, something that she didn’t get to experience after growing up surrounded by adults and rarely with children her age. She feels glad and relieved that he’s no longer alone, now with siblings to grow alongside and to share and form fond memories with as they grow older. “I’m sure they will also want to play hide and seek with you, my love.”

Edmond nods. “We can play as a team! Me and Rinnie and Ricky! And then we can play with Aurelie and Glenn when they come with Auntie Annie and Uncle Felix.”

The mention of Annette and Felix’s children prompt her to smile, though she follows up with, “what about Vincent?”

Edmond’s eyes light up at the name of Sylvain and Ingrid’s son. “Yes! And then we can all play as a big group,” he says before looking at his younger siblings with a determined look. “You have to grow faster so we can all play hide and seek outside,” he urges. “We can’t let them win!”

She chuckles while patting Edmond on the head. “I guess you really want to win, isn’t that right, my sweet? Who won last time when Aurelie and Vincent were here a few moons ago?”

“Uncle Ashe did,” Edmond answers with a pout and Byleth laughs once more.

"Then I think you have to be a good teacher to your brother and sister so you can win – there are three people in your team," she comments.

Edmond grins. “I will! I’ll be a good brother and a good teacher to Ricky and Rinnie.”

Deep in her heart, Byleth knows. She can already tell that he will be a wonderful brother to his siblings, growing into his new role in a matter of days after Carine and Aldric’s birth and already showing so much love for them. Her heart feels full of pride and adoration for Edmond, prompting her to kiss his forehead again upon his words, earning a giggle in response. “I know, my little one. You’re already becoming the best big brother ever.”

He beams at the compliment, his grin wide from ear to ear. “Really?”

“Really.”

Edmond giggles. “Mama?”

“Yes, Ed?”

“Can I tell you another secret?”

“Of course, my sweet.”

“You can’t tell Papa, okay?”

“I promise."

Edmond grins as he reveals his secret, “I love you!”

Byleth chuckles at his revelation and she smiles lovingly, patting his head affectionately as he snuggles closer to her side. “I love you too, Ed. I love you so much.”

Chapter Text

While the cold winter is settling in Faerghus, the weather is temperate in Almyra. It is not too hot nor too cold; just moderate enough that Dimitri doesn’t need to wear his heavy furs during his diplomatic visit in the neighboring region. He can’t help but smile at the gentle warmth of the sun and the calm breeze, the tranquil moment prompting his thoughts to wander to Byleth and the children back in Fhirdiad.

They would like it here, Dimitri thinks to himself. He can already vividly imagine Edmond, Carine, and Aldric playing outside and enjoying the moderate weather while exploring their new surroundings. Byleth would also enjoy a visit to Almyra, he supposes, and the corners of his lips twitch at the thought of her engaging in sparring sessions with the strong warriors of the land. He makes a note to himself to bring everyone for a visit once the twins have grown older and they feel more confident in having their children accompanying them outside Faerghus territory, the furthest he can take Edmond is within the kingdom and to Garreg Mach for the time being and the twins still too young to go beyond the borders of Fhirdiad.

“Penny for your thoughts, my friend?” Claude’s cheery voice cuts in, prompting Dimitri to turn his gaze from the view of the beautiful horizon of the villages and mountains beyond the castle. As usual, the former Golden Deer has a jovial smile on his face as he approaches with easy strides, his green eyes alight with curiosity but also with a tinge of mischievousness.

“Just thinking of Byleth and the children,” Dimitri admits. “I think they would enjoy visiting Almyra – especially Ed, he would love to see all of the wyverns.”

Claude grins. “I’ll make sure to give little Eddie an egg from one of the wyverns – that is if his parents are okay with it.”

“I’m fine with it, but you would need to run that idea through Byleth,” Dimitri smiles. “There needs to be a place in the castle grounds for wyverns. But Ed would love it – he's attached to this picture book about wyverns and makes us read it to him every night."

“I’m not surprised; wyverns are majestic creatures. And everyone should come for a visit, it’s lovely here in the spring and the autumn – that’s when the biggest festivals happen.”

“Perhaps when the heir of Almyra and House Riegan is born?”

Claude laughs. “Why not? Little Rinnie and Ricky will be old enough to leave Faerghus next year, yes?”

“It will take Byleth some convincing but if I say that you and Hilda personally send the invite then she will most likely change her mind.”

“Good to know – I’ll send an owl,” Claude grins. “Hopefully Teach will agree to it – she didn’t come for my thirtieth birthday party! That wounded me.”

Dimitri chuckles. “Well, she had things to attend to in Garreg Mach but you received our present.”

“Still, you all missed out on the feast. We do hold grand feasts here in Almyra, you know.”

A sigh escapes Dimitri’s lips, all too familiar with the antics of the former head of the Golden Deer House during festivities in the Officers Academy. “Yes, I do remember how rambunctious it gets.”

“I wouldn’t choose the term rambunctious to describe the reunion of the Golden Deer House – perhaps joyful would be better."

Dimitri shakes his head, prompting Claude to laugh once more. “So, it’s the Ethereal Moon,” the king of Almyra says. “Any plans for your thirtieth birthday, Your Majesty?”

Dimitri sighs and shakes his head again. If he was being honest, he’d barely thought about how he was going to spend his birthday nor paid too much attention about it being days away; the onset of the usual harsh winters across Faerghus on his mind often over the past months. While there had been a bountiful harvest in the autumn, the northern winters were unpredictable and he wanted to ensure all would be prepared for the unforgiving season. “No, not at all.”

“Really? But that’s a special age, you know – thirty.”

“Age is just a number, Claude. It doesn’t always mean anything special, nor does it indicate if one has grown wiser.”

“Are you speaking from experience or –” Claude starts before adding a hasty, “just kidding”, when Dimitri casts him a pointed look.

The king of Faerghus sighs again before answering. "I'll be honest that I haven't thought about it. It will probably be the same as the years before – just spending the day with my family and having dinner together. Why do you ask?"

“Ah, that’s a cozy way to spend it,” Claude nods to himself. “Especially with the winter in Fhirdiad. Oh, and no reason at all, just curious since it’ll be your thirtieth birthday after all. Time goes by fast, doesn’t it? Little Rinnie and Ricky already turned two in the spring while Eddie is six years old now.”

Dimitri finds himself smiling immediately at the mention of his children. It was surreal that they have grown so quickly, the memories of their births and holding them in his arms still vivid in his mind as though it were only yesterday. With each passing day, they were becoming their own in the world as they explore their surroundings and learn something new, pride and joy never failing to bloom within him at the sight. “It is going by quickly,” he agrees. “And they are growing up so fast – watching the twins run around the castle and learn new words reminds me of how much time has passed since they were born.”

“Spoken like a true father!”

Dimitri shakes his head, the fond smile still lingering on his face. “You’ll understand what I mean.”

“It was a joke, but I already have a feeling,” Claude smiles. “I admit I’m already starting to feel the joys of fatherhood and my kid isn’t even in the world yet.”

“It’s very profound,” admits Dimitri. “There’s always something new to learn and discover about yourself and your child. Whenever I see the children, I always think about how I can be a better father. There are many things I want to do for them but I think what the most important is to be able to give them a lot of love and protect their happiness. It sounds silly but once you hold your child in your arms and watch them grow before your eyes, you just want to everything you can to make sure they grow sound.”

There is a thoughtful smile on Claude’s face upon Dimitri’s words. “I can tell. You talk about them like you’re ready to split mountains in half – knowing your monstrous strength, you definitely can – and to catch all the stars in the sky to take home for them.”

Heat begins to spread across Dimitri’s cheeks in embarrassment but he tries to remain calm as he clears his throat. “I’m just speaking from experience as a father,” he explains. “Byleth and I are watching three children grow faster than weeds before our very eyes.”

Claude laughs cheerily. “Don’t be embarrassed. I understand where it’s coming from and I’m sure I’ll feel the same way once my kid is born.”

“You will be a great father, Claude.”

“Ah, that’s a great compliment coming from you, Dimitri. Thank you very much, I will take it,” the Golden Deer winks. “All this talk about your children is probably making you miss them, I’m sure.”

“I always do,” Dimitri answers truthfully. “But Ed understands that it’s important for us to depart now and then to work with the people in the kingdom and beyond to continue to create a better future for all. I’m sure the twins will also understand when they are old enough but it’s impossible to never stop thinking about them.”

Claude reaches out and pats his shoulder. “Well, you only have three days left in Almyra until you have to return in time for your birthday. Let’s get as much done so you can celebrate in peace and have a lot of stories to tell to the little ones.”

Dimitri smiles and nods, the thought of being reunited with his family soothing the pang of the distance he felt since he departed for Almyra a few days prior. He admits that there is a spark of anticipation flickering at the thought of returning home, back to his waiting family in time for his birthday upon the completion of his duties as the king of Faerghus. Still, Dimitri is well-versed in the separation and the wait that accompanies his expeditions outside Fhirdiad, and he keeps the longing tucked deep inside his heart as he follows Claude to their plan for the day.

 

 


 

 

The journey to return to Fhirdiad becomes difficult once Dimitri and his entourage emerge from the temperate lands of the former Leicester Alliance and into the icy northern regions. Winter’s grip is strong across the land; snow and ice carpeting the landscape, temperatures well below freezing, and the winds biting on his cheeks. Despite the frigid conditions, he is thankful that the skies are clear and the sun is shining brightly, dispelling any fears of encountering a storm on their way back to Fhirdiad. While he may not deem himself to be pious, Dimitri thinks that the primarily favorable weather conditions are a sign that the Goddess is watching over the journey to ensure a safe return to Fhirdiad. He can’t help but feel hopeful with each step his steed takes – a step closer to his arrival into his family’s awaiting arms after their moment of separation.

Dimitri returns to Fhirdiad just as the sun sets on the day of his birthday, snowflakes cascading down from the skies and blanketing the rooftops and paths in the city. He tries to stifle the grumble threatening to escape him, the change in temperature once the skies turned darker too drastic for his liking as his breath appears as white puffs in the coldness of the weather. He immediately dismounts his steed and murmurs gratitude towards the awaiting stablehand before hastily making his way into the castle, eager for the warmth of the fire and his impending reunion with his family to spend the remaining hours of his birthday in their company.

He nods and exchanges greetings with several attendants passing by, smiles at their compliments of ‘happy birthday’ as he makes his way to the quarters he shared with Byleth to shed his damp furs and heavy layers for warm, dry clothing. But when Dimitri emerges from the chambers after changing into new clothing, he is surprised by the sight of one of the attendants standing in the hallway.

“Your Majesty,” the attendant greets after a polite bow. “Welcome back. Her Highness is waiting for you to join her with the princes and the princess for dinner in the hall.”

“Very well, thank you very much.”

Dimitri makes his way to the castle’s hall, the designated dining area, his strides quick as anticipation of reuniting with his family bubbles within him. But he slows just as he arrives at the passage leading to the grand doors, the candles at the usually well-lit entranceway lacking their usual flames. It is an unusual sight, but none that is not too rare, and he makes a mental note to remind the attendants in the future. Dimitri shakes his head, places his hand on the brass handle of the door leading to the hall before pushing it open.

The light spilling in from the hall is striking, forcing him to squint but before his vision can adjust, there are loud popping noises and an accompanying booming announcement that startle him. “Surprise!

Dimitri blinks as his sight finally adapts, his lips parting open slightly at the view before him. Byleth’s smile upon his entry is breathtakingly beautiful as always, with Edmond at her side and Carine and Aldric holding their brother’s hands. But she is not alone – surrounding her are familiar faces: Annette with Felix holding a squirming Glenn while Aurelie giggles at her younger brother; Dedue smiling subtly while Mercedes has a bright one on her face, their one-year-old Erwan in her arms and staring at Dimitri with wide eyes; Ashe with a brightly colored party popper in his hands; Sylvain and Vincent with identical bright grins while Ingrid looks exasperated yet happy, her hand on her swollen belly. He gapes at the gathering, the most he can utter is a simple “what?” as his children run up to him with Byleth following them.

“Papa, happy birthday!” Edmond chirps, his eyes bright as he beams up at his father, a circlet of blue and white flowers in his hands.

Byleth smiles at Edmond before raising her gaze to meet Dimitri’s. “Welcome home,” she greets. “Happy birthday, my love.”

Dimitri attempts to form a response yet nothing comes out, his thoughts jumbled at the sudden turn of events before him, and Sylvain laughs. “I think we have surprised His Majesty quite a bit,” he teases.

Felix snaps impatiently, “say something, boar.”

“Erm…” Dimitri begins, grasping at words to create a proper and coherent answer. “I…”

Before he can continue, his vision blurs with a hot tear forming and rolling down his cheek, and Byleth reaches out with a free hand to wipe it away, her touch gentle against his skin. “It’s alright,” she murmurs, “you’re home now.”

Dimitri nods, hastily wipes away the tear threatening to form once more before exhaling to collect himself. “I’m home,” he echoes before looking up and addressing the gathering, managing a smile and a breathy chuckle. “Goddess, everyone is here.”

Sylvain laughs. “Of course! We can’t celebrate His Majesty’s birthday properly if any of the Blue Lions are missing.”

“And it’s a special milestone!” Annette chimes in cheerily. “It’s your thirtieth birthday!”

Carine runs up to Dimitri with Aldric following her, holding out a crown of white flowers in her tiny hands as she stands on her tiptoes. “Papa!” His daughter chirps, her jade-green eyes shining brightly when she beams up at him. “Happy birthday!”

Dimitri chuckles as he kneels in front of his daughter and Carine places the flowers on his head, prompting him to pat her on head lovingly in return. Aldric approaches after his twin sister, his youngest son holding a matching crown of blue flowers. “What’s this?” Dimitri asks, ruffling Aldric’s hair. “Is this for me too?”

The youngest prince nods and stands on his tiptoes to place the flower crown on his head, earning a chuckle from Dimitri, and Aldric scampers over to Byleth once his task is complete and Edmond approaches. “My turn!” The crown prince says, extending his arms and standing on the tips of his toes to place the crown of white and blue flowers in his hands onto Dimitri’s head.

Laughter begins to bubble amongst the gathering of former Blue Lions as Dimitri raises a hand to balance the three crowns on his head, amusement at the sight of the king with flowers in his hair. He can’t help but laugh as well, joy bubbling within him as he is surrounded by his family and friends. It is an incredibly pleasant surprise, one that brings indescribable joy and a spike of energy after an arduous journey, something that is grander than he imagined on the evening of his birthday. 

“Come, Papa!” Edmond says, taking his father’s hand in his small one and urging him to rise to his feet. “You have to blow out the candles on your cake!”

The breathless laughter that escapes Dimitri’s lips is of elation as the six-year-old leads the way to the tables arranged at the center of the hall, his family and friends following. The dining tables are arranged to accommodate everyone for the meal – a beautiful dark blue tablecloth covering the surface and pristine tableware shining against the candlelight. At the head of the table is a two-tiered cake of blue and white frosting, with a golden crown made from sugar paste and three candles positioned carefully around it. Edmond ushers Dimitri to stand in front of the cake as Dedue carefully lights the candles and everyone gathers around to observe the moment.

“Papa, wish time!” Carine chirps excitedly from beside Edmond.

Dimitri chuckles at his son’s eagerness. “Alright, alright, I’ll make a wish,” he responds. He pauses for a moment to think of a request for the new year, something he is hoping to happen and something he has yet to receive, but the image of his smiling family with their dear friends only come to mind.

At that moment, there's only one wish that Dimitri feels strongly towards. An earnest hope for only bright and peaceful days ahead for everyone in the land blooms within his thoughts when he leans over and releases a breath that extinguishes the candles in one attempt. The claps and cheers following his wish are thunderous, prompting him to laugh as the warmth of joy washes over him

The birthday feast commences shortly after everyone is seated, the kitchen staff bringing out various dishes on silver platters for the meal. Dimitri can’t help but smile as he watches his favorite dishes are delivered to the table – onion gratin soup, pheasant roast with berry sauce, cheesy verona stew. Accompanying his favorites are standard celebratory fares such as roasted wild boar, rich mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, mushrooms in red sauce, baskets of freshly baked bread with butter, and wheels of cheese. Complementing the feast are jugs of wine for the adults and fresh fruit juices for the younger ones, poured into goblets and placed on the table for each guest.

Dimitri is about to reach for a dinner roll from one of the nearby baskets when Sylvain clears his throat, raising and waving his hand to catch everyone’s attention.

“Everyone,” Margrave Gautier begins with a smile. “I think there should be a small speech from His Majesty, don’t you think? It is his birthday after all.”

Dimitri frowns. “Sylvain, I’m sure everyone is famished –”

“Just a few quick words to start the meal, Your Majesty.”

The sigh he lets out is one of exasperation but Dimitri relents, pushing his chair back to stand once more. “Well then,” he begins once he feels everyone’s gaze on him. “I…I admit I’m still surprised to see all of you here, making this journey to Fhirdiad to celebrate with us. You have my sincerest gratitude – I’m truly thankful and happy for your presence on this special day.”

With a smile and a nod, Dimitri continues with a, “let us eat, everyone.”

Clapping reverberates throughout the hall as he sits and the feast officially begins with his blessing. Platters and baskets are passed around the table; plates, and bowls beginning to pile up with portions of food as everyone helps themselves with the various fares. Dimitri smiles as he watches Aldric at his side, the two-year-old carefully eating a dinner roll before he begins to help himself to the steaming onion gratin soup. The broth is a delight after the cold journey back to Fhirdiad, the warmth seeping through his bones and sending a jolt of electricity down his spine, a hum of delight escaping his lips.

Edmond shifts in his seat from beside Carine to turn to Dimitri, a smear of berry sauce already on his cheek. “Papa, is it yummy?”

Byleth reaches out with a napkin to wipe the boy’s cheek while Dimitri laughs. “Yes, it’s very delicious. I feel really warm after being out in the cold for so long.”

“How was Almyra, Your Majesty?” asks Mercedes.

“Almyra was great,” he answers with a smile, setting down his spoon. “The people were very friendly and welcoming – I learned so much about their culture and livelihood when I was there. I think Claude’s invitation to visit was at a perfect time since the weather was perfect; not too hot or too cold.”

Silence falls across the table aside from the soft tinkles of cutlery and Dimitri looks up just in time to see Byleth exchange looks with the rest of the former Blue Lions, a faint smile forming on her lips. He shifts his gaze to his friends, chuckle and snickers escaping them – a smirk even gracing Felix’s face when Dimitri casts them a confused look.

“Did I say something funny?” he asks, cutting the pheasant meat into small pieces on Aldric’s plate for him to eat.

Byleth turns to Dedue, who simply nods, before smiling at her husband. “It was all part of the plan for the surprise party,” she answers.

Dimitri stares at her upon her words, more smiles and soft laughs scattering throughout the dining room, and Byleth explains, “we planned it all in the beginning and asked Claude to help us out.”

His mouth begins to part at the admission, brows furrowing at the truth that is beginning to unveil itself, prompting more amused laughs and grins to bubble throughout the group. “So…” Dimitri manages, attempts to grasp the words forming at the tip of his tongue. “My…trip to Almyra was a set-up?”

Sylvain snickers as he helps Vincent scoop a spoonful of mashed potatoes on his plate. “That’s a harsh way of putting it, but let’s go with that.”

“It’s more like an ‘arranged trip,” Ashe chimes in with a smile.

“Yes…” agrees Dedue. “An arranged trip with Claude’s assistance.”

A chuckle of disbelief escapes Dimitri and he shakes his head. It all sounded too incredible to process – his trip to Almyra had been an invitation extended by Claude to continue to deepen Fódlan’s relationship with the neighboring region. Nothing had stood out of the ordinary during his stay; it truly seemed like a diplomatic visit to discuss alliances and learn more about the kingdom. “This is incredibly elaborate,” he comments. “To arrange a trip to Almyra for a surprise party."

“That’s the only way to get you out of Fhirdiad, boar,” Felix scoffs. “It only made sense to ask for Claude’s help.”

“Did he mention anything?” asks Ingrid.

“No…” Dimitri responds, fingers curling around his chin and his elbow resting on his palm as he tries to recall anything out of the ordinary from his visit. “Ah – though I believe he did ask if I was doing anything for my birthday. To be honest, I didn’t think much of it; it genuinely felt like a friendly visit to Almyra the whole time I was there.”

“Well, I think all ended well, didn’t it?” Annette muses. “A friendly visit to Almyra and a successful surprise party!”

Dimitri chuckles as he wipes Aldric’s chin with a napkin. He supposes that everything did fall into place for both parties, the results beneficial for both the kingdom and for his loved ones. “I think so too.”

The birthday dinner proceeds in a lively manner, plates of food passed around as stories are shared at the table. Nostalgia blooms at the sight, prompting Dimitri to recall their days in the dining hall of the Officers Academy, sharing celebratory feasts after emerging victorious in various exercises and mock battles, the smile on his face never fading even as the night deepens. There is no shortage of anecdotes to tell after a considerable amount of time has passed since their full reunion as a group, the dinner the ideal time to catch up with various events in their lives. Mercedes shares stories of Erwan learning how to raise flowers with Dedue in Fhirdiad’s new botanical garden; Annette’s dramatic narration of Aurelie conjuring thunder and Glenn learning the sword, accompanied with Felix’s silent but evident pride; Ingrid’s exasperation at Sylvain’s never-ending boasts about their son Vincent, a smile of her own on her face; newly wedded Ashe discussing his recent visit to the coastal domain of House Edmund with his advisor and wife Marianne von Edmund. Peppered between the adults’ conversations are the children chiming in with adventures of their own: Edmond talking about being able to write his full name independently (“Edmond Lambert Eisner Blaiddyd,” he recites proudly), Aurelie and Glenn’s tales of learning how to care for horses, Vincent’s excitement about becoming an older brother.

It is only when desserts of saghert and cream, sweet buns, and various baked sweets are delivered to the dining table after the main meal that Dimitri realizes that his cheeks are sore from the smiles and laughs shared with his family and friends. It is still unfathomable to him that everything before him is real despite the passing of the years, not a dream or a fantasy, and not the future he expected to have or share with someone so dear to him. His younger self had been unable to conjure thoughts of the future, images obscured by fog and darkness, his path forward only lit by his desire for vengeance and to appease the haunting voices plaguing him. Making promises for the future and seeing them through were for naught, not when he was a wild beast fueled by vengeance wandering down a bloodied and violent path, shadows grasping at him. Dimitri had already accepted it long ago – his fate for the sins he committed to be dark and desolate; an equivalent exchange for the lives he had taken.

Yet the years have been nothing but bright and peaceful.

Fódlan continues to thrive as the continent and the people heal from the scars of war; new reforms in place to uphold equality and equity for all, the land bountiful than ever, relationships with foreign regions such as Almyra and Brigid incredibly strong. He is also surrounded by people dear to him; the bond shared with his fellow former Blue Lions growing stronger with each passing year despite the distance as they tirelessly labor in their territories, their paths still somehow intertwined as they continue onwards to their dreams. Their presence reminds him that he is not alone and that he never really was, their presence and support always felt despite the distance and regardless of the hardships he has faced.

Of course, there was also his family too.

Dimitri steals a glance out of the corner of his eye, observes Byleth helping Carine and Aldric break a pastry into small pieces as Edmond happily eats a slice of the birthday cake, the sight prompting him to smile. He still couldn't believe that he had promised his future to someone – or even found someone so incredibly dear to him to share the remainder of his days with. Yet here she was – his light who saved him countless times and always at his side even during the harshest times with her endless patience and kindness, his true love with whom he was raising a family together with adoration and care.

Everything seems like an illusion, blessings and tranquil days far too good to be true –

but the brush of Byleth’s fingers against his, the feeling of Aldric’s weight as his son crawls onto his lap, the sound of his friends’ laughter are reminders that it is all real. Euphoria blooms within him at the realization with indescribable gratitude at the sight of those dear to him gathered alongside him on his birthday. It is a beautiful moment, he thinks, one that he will cherish for the rest of his life as laughter and stories continue deep into the night.

 

 


 

 

By the time their guests and the children retire to their quarters in the castle, the sky is an incredibly deep dark blue, almost black, and dotted with twinkling stars. Dimitri finally feels the exhaustion of his long journey setting in, a sigh escaping him as he crawls under the warm covers and rests his head against the soft pillows after a warm bath. But he feels incredibly content as his birthday nears its end: having shared excellent food with his dear friends and family members, received thoughtful and memorable gifts, and finally home with his loved ones after days of separation. He supposes that Claude was correct that turning thirty was special and the corners of his lips twitch as he makes a mental note to send his friend a thank-you note and token for his participation in his loved ones’ elaborate scheme.

“My love, are you asleep already?” Byleth’s voice is a gentle whisper as she joins him under the covers, prompting him to turn on his side to face her.

Dimitri opens up his arms and she burrows herself against his chest, buries her face into his neck, and he hums in satisfaction. He loops an arm around Byleth’s waist and begins to gently draw circles on her back with his palm as he relishes her warmth. No words could describe how much he missed her and their children, the pang of longing during his absence almost painful to bear and their well-being always occupying his thoughts. Dimitri is more than relieved to be home with his loved ones in this cold winter, sighing once more as he presses a kiss on Byleth’s forehead.

“Go to sleep, my love,” she murmurs. “You’ve had a long journey to come home.”

“In a little bit,” answers Dimitri. “I want to enjoy the last few moments of my birthday with you.”

Byleth rests her chin on his chest and smiles. “Did you enjoy it?”

“I certainly did. I must say – this was an extremely elaborate surprise to even get Claude in on it.”

“Well, I thought it would be noticeable if everyone started arriving in Fhirdiad and you would catch it right away."

“That’s true,” he agrees. “What about Ed?”

“I didn’t tell him until the guests started arriving while you were gone.”

Dimitri chuckles, an image of their eager son accidentally saying something and unraveling the surprise coming to mind. “I think that’s a wise idea; I love our Ed dearly but he is very excitable.”

“He is. Did you know that he taught Rinnie and Ricky how to make the flower crowns?”

“Did he? They were very lovely; I’ll let them know tomorrow.”

“They’ll be very happy to hear that,” Byleth says with another smile. “The children wanted everything to be perfect today after we told them that we were having a surprise party upon your return today.”

Dimitri smiles back, gently brushes her fringe away from her forehead. "It was perfect,” he assures. “Thank you so much.”

Byleth reaches out and gently takes his face in her soft hands before leaning closer to press her lips against his. He’s lost count how many tender moments like this they have shared over the years they have been together, yet it always feels brand new and never failing to stir butterflies within him, warmth and delight always blooming in his chest. “Anything for you,” she murmurs.

Even without saying, Dimitri knows – every single gaze and gesture more than enough to depict the affection she feels for him. Still, the confession has him giddy and he presses one of his own against her lips and feels her smile at the contact. “Thank you for making my dreams come true.”

Byleth smiles once more, her fingers gently brushing against his cheek, their contact featherlight but still warm. It had been inconceivable to have such a bright and warm future, one that is full of love and accompanied by those important to him, one that he can promise to whom he loves. But Byleth’s warmth and weight against his is more than enough proof that everything was genuine. There are no words able to describe the gratitude and love he feels for all the phenomenal moments in his life that they have shared, yet he hopes that they are enough to let her know how he feels. “I love you,” Dimitri confides, pressing a kiss on her forehead.

She gazes up at him, eyes twinkling and her gaze with so much warmth that his heart feels full that it threatens to burst. It’s more than enough to tell him that she knows, her lips forming another smile as she takes his face in her hands once more and leans close to seal the promise. “I love you too.”

Dimitri pulls Byleth against his chest and she hums as she nestles closer, her fingers curling into the front of his shirt, a sigh escaping him when he rests his hand on the small of her back as they settle for the evening. As sleep begins to envelop them in its embrace, he can’t help but smile contentedly, tranquility and bliss blooming within him as everything fades into the darkness of the night.