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1.

Felix hadn’t meant to stay so late.

It was all Sylvain’s fault, the asshole. He’d sweet-talked Felix into his bedroom to help him with his armor after their after-dinner training session, and they’d been so close, close enough for Felix to feel the heat of Sylvain’s body through his clothes and smell the sweat on his neck, that he’d been on his back in Sylvain’s bed before he’d even fully registered what was happening.

This isn’t even the first time Sylvain’s used that move on him. What the fuck.

Felix won’t deny that he enjoys it, what he and Sylvain do together. He wouldn’t classify it as a relationship — would barely qualify it as sex — but for all his laziness and skirt chasing, Sylvain is one of the few people he would actually call a friend, if pressed. And so the fact that they kiss sometimes in secret, or fool around to relieve tension, doesn’t feel strange to Felix. Sylvain’s presence is a comfort to him in a world with so few comforts left, and he certainly knows what he’s doing, which is the first time Felix has been able to say that about Sylvain and mean it.

But still. Staying the night is a leap too far.

He manages to worm himself out of a sleeping Sylvain’s arms, throw his clothes back on to have some facade of decency, and slip out the door without making so much as a sound. It’s late — he thinks he heard the monastery bells toll one in the morning not too long ago — and he feels certain he can make it to his bedroom without anyone being the wiser. It’s two doors down from Sylvain’s, after all, separated only by the boar. And the boar, Felix knows from experience, could sleep through an earthquake.

Nonetheless, he treads past Dimitri’s door lightly, keeping his hand on the wall to help him navigate the short distance down the hall. It’s pitch black, the torches having gone out some time ago, and he can barely see past the end of his nose, let alone spot the shadow right in front of him.

“Ah!”

Felix collides with something solid, warm, organic, and he can hardly help himself from crying out in surprise, stumbling backward and clapping a hand over his mouth. He stays still for several heart-pounding seconds, praying that he hasn’t woken up…

“F-Felix?”

Dimitri. That’s the boar prince himself, standing right in front of him, having collided with him in the darkness. Felix’s hackles immediately go up.

“Why are you lurking out here?” he hisses, squinting in the darkness at a Dimitri-shaped shadow. “It’s fucking creepy.”

“I-I wasn’t lurking,” Dimitri stammers, his voice hushed to avoid waking up those around them. “I was… out for a walk.”

“This late at night?” Felix scoffs. “Dedue is going to kill you.”

Dimitri seizes Felix’s arm with some urgency.

“Don’t tell Dedue you saw me,” he says, a sudden edge to his voice. “Please.”

“Why shouldn’t I?” Felix wrenches his arm free from Dimitri’s grip. His heart is still pounding a mile a minute, trying to come up with an excuse for why Dimitri would find him here, on this side of the dormitory, this late at night. He’s come up with none so far, so he goes for the next best thing: misdirection.

“Forget it,” Felix says, his tone dismissive. “I’m heading back to bed, anyway. Looking at your face makes me sick. Maybe I’ll wake up and find out this was all some horrible nightmare.”

His eyes are adjusting to the darkness enough to see hurt fall across Dimitri’s face, shortly before he schools his features back into the dignified, respectful expression that actually makes Felix feel ill.

“Very well,” Dimitri says, his tone overly formal. “Good night, Felix.”

He sidles past Felix to his own room, unlocking the door and pushing his way inside. Felix watches him go, frozen to the spot from adrenaline, still trying to process the oddness of finding Dimitri in the hall so late at night. The prince is notoriously meticulous when it comes to his evening routine (something that Felix has banked on more than once since starting his… thing… with Sylvain). Had he, perhaps, been out late training, perhaps dueling someone in the training grounds?

How else is he supposed to make sense of the fact that Dimitri’s hair had been mussed, or that his stupid shoulder cape had been askew?

Whatever. Felix stalks the rest of the (short) way back to his room, putting his neighbor out of his mind.

2.

Dimitri steadfastly avoids Felix for the rest of the week, sitting apart from him during meals and lessons and electing to spar with Dedue in the afternoons. And it’s not like Felix minds not having to spend as much time with Dimitri as he usually does, but it’s still a bit… odd. He trains with Ingrid instead, throwing dirty glances across the patch of dirt where they all train over to where Dimitri parries Dedue’s ax blow with his own training lance. What does the boar think he’s playing at, anyway?

“Your Highness!” Dedue’s alarmed shout surprises Felix enough that he lets Ingrid get the drop on him, knocking him to the ground. “You’ve been hurt!”

Hurt? Curious, Felix looks up just in time to see Dedue gingerly touch along a spot on Dimitri’s neck. Dimitri shivers before pulling back.

“It’s… nothing, Dedue,” he says hastily, tugging at the collar of his shirt to hide whatever it is has Dedue so concerned.

Dedue’s expression is serious as ever. “Your Highness, if I have hurt you somehow in our training, then I beg you—”

“It’s fine,” Dimitri insists once again, though the tips of his ears are bright red. “I… I think I’m done training for the day. If you’ll excuse me…”

He brushes past Felix and Ingrid, and it’s then that Felix gets a good look at the spot on his neck that had Dedue so concerned. It’s small, right at the junction between Dimitri’s neck and shoulder, shades of red and purple standing out against his pale throat.

Felix knows what it is instantly. He’s given Sylvain enough of them, at this point, to recognize a love bite.

Who in Ailell is going around sucking face with the boar prince?

Felix gets his answer soon enough.

He’s found his way to Sylvain tonight of his own accord, without Sylvain cajoling him. Tonight has been… illuminating, for want of a better word. Before tonight, he and Sylvain have mostly made out, rutting against one another in various states of undress in order to find their release. But tonight… tonight, Sylvain had pleasured Felix with his mouth, his tousled ginger head finding a home in Felix’s lap. And Felix had… well, it would have been rude not to reciprocate, really, especially after Sylvain had swallowed everything Felix had given him…

His heart is still pounding even as he pulls his clothes back on, looking for his boots at the foot of Sylvain’s bed. The corners of his mouth keep twitching upward — he feels giddy, and stupid, and all sorts of feelings he needs to file away neatly as soon as he makes it back to the safety of his room.

“Do you have to go?” Sylvain says behind him. Felix had thought he was dozing off, but he’s sitting up now, still naked, lips finding their way to Felix’s clothed shoulder.

“Someone will notice I’m not in my room,” he says, fishing in the sheets for the hair tie that went missing some time ago.

“Who?” Sylvain wants to know. “Who’s going to notice you’re missing? Feef, who’s going to care?”

Felix is just as gobsmacked by the question as he is by Sylvain tossing out his old childhood nickname. “…Dimitri,” is all he finally says.

“What, just because his room is between ours? I think he’s a bit too preoccupied to notice, honestly.”

“Right, right,” Felix says, himself distracted by the search for his hair tie. “Hey, have you seen…?”

Sylvain sighs heavily, then holds it out.

“Let me?”

Felix finds it easy to oblige him, allowing Sylvain to gather his dark hair back into its bun while he laces his boots back on. It feels… nice, having Sylvain care for him like this, to feel his fingertips massage Felix’s scalp. It almost lets him forget that Sylvain is only using him as a distraction between girls, that there’s no way for this to last much longer than it has already.

“There,” Sylvain says, and tugs playfully on Felix’s ear. “Now I think you’re decent enough to walk the ten feet back to your room.”

“Thanks,” Felix says, and then leans back in to kiss him goodnight. He means for it to be brief, but Sylvain’s arm finds its way around his waist, and he can still taste himself on Sylvain’s tongue, so the whole thing lasts several minutes longer than strictly necessary.

“There,” he says sternly when he pulls back, as though he isn’t the one who kissed Sylvain in the first place. He gives him one more peck for good measure, a punctuation note on the evening. “Now, good night.”

The smile Sylvain gives him in response is positively beatific.

“G’night.”

Felix slips out of the room into the corridor, expecting it to be dark, but there is lamplight coming from about halfway down the hall.

Someone’s door is open.

Felix backs against the wall into the shadows so they won’t see him, sliding his way down past Dimitri’s room, and almost makes it to his own door when he realizes he can hear two soft voices coming through the open door.

“…You can stay, you know.”

It’s Claude von Riegan. His room is on the other side of Felix’s, which he usually doesn’t give much thought to. Claude, for all his charming personality and boisterous housemates in the daytime, is a considerate neighbor who tends to read in his room rather than host company at night. So for all Felix wants to get out without being seen, he can’t help but be a little curious.

“I shouldn’t,” comes a deep, familiar voice, and Felix’s stomach drops right through the floor. “But I thank you for the invitation, and for your… hospitality.”

“Hospitality?” Claude chuckles. “Is that what we’re calling it now, Mit’ka?”

“I…!” The second voice stutters before laughing, self-deprecatingly.

Oh, saints. Oh, goddess. Is this really happening? Really?

Still, Felix doesn’t move.

Dimitri’s silhouette appears in Claude’s doorway, and Felix presses himself against the wall, still silently watching them. There’s a gentle expression on Dimitri’s face that makes Felix’s stomach twist because it isn’t real, isn’t the boar’s true face, but the good man he wants everyone to believe he is.

“I ought to walk you back,” Claude says. “Who knows what shady characters are lurking in the dark between your room and mine…”

“It’s only Felix,” Dimitri says, uncertainly, and Felix shrinks even further back. Surely they haven’t seen him — just making note of the fact that his room separates Dimitri’s and Claude’s. And if he goes back into his room now, turns the key in the lock, he’ll attract both their attention.

Claude just laughs again.

“It’s a joke, Princeliness,” he says warmly, leaning in to brush Dimitri’s bangs back from his face. “Maybe I’m just trying to make tonight last.”

“Mm,” Dimitri says, and Felix sees him lean in, nuzzling his nose against Claude’s. “Alas.”

Claude tilts his face upward to kiss him, and Dimitri sighs into it, fingers sweeping through Claude’s dark hair. From here, it looks soft, almost loving, and the artifice of it makes Felix’s stomach curdle.

He looks away, allowing them to have their moment, their last few kisses, their whispered goodnights. When Dimitri starts to pick his way down the hall in the darkness, Felix almost lets him pass by without a word, knowing he would gain nothing from yet another encounter with the prince in this stretch of hallway.

But Dimitri must hear him breathing in the darkness, because his ears prick up as he passes by Felix’s hiding place and the boar demands, “Who’s there?”

“I am,” Felix says quietly, resigned, and Dimitri all but leaps out of his skin.

“Cichol and Cethleann… Felix? Why are you out here?”

Felix ignores the question utterly.

“So,” he says, a hint of accusation in his voice. “You and Riegan, huh.”

Dimitri looks stricken.

“I… y-yes,” he finally admits. “I apologize for not having told all of you. It is… new, and as you can imagine, somewhat delicate given our positions in the Kingdom and Alliance. Claude and I wished to first simply, well, see what there is between us before sharing it with all of Fodlan.”

“Sharing what?” Felix can’t help but taunt. “Leicester ‘hospitality’?”

He can’t see how red Dimitri’s face is right now, but he hears his embarrassed squeak loud and clear.

“I take it I will not be able to count on your discretion,” he says, sounding resigned.

“Oh, no, I don’t actually care,” Felix says, flippant. “I have more important things to worry about than who or what you’re fucking, you beast.”

Dimitri’s expression, soft and sheepish just moments ago, is suddenly incandescent. The face of the animal who wiped out the western rebellion — the face Felix knows so well.

“Insult me all you like,” he growls in the darkness, “but you will show Claude respect. Or would you like it if I began repeating every rumor in the monastery about Sylvain to you?”

Felix sputters in spite of himself.

“Wh… What does… Sylvain… have to do…?”

“Please,” Dimitri says coldly. “Do not insult my intelligence. His room is next to mine — I have heard you, Felix.”

Goddess. Fuck. Strike him down immediately, let him be buried beside Glenn. Felix wants nothing more than to die, in this moment.

“Although,” Dimitri admits as Felix internally quails, “I did not realize Sylvain’s partner was you, until I saw you in the hallway the other night. You could only be coming from the direction of his bedroom.”

Felix supposes, begrudgingly, that it is a bit obvious; Sylvain’s room is at the far end of the hallway, the furthest away from the stairs. It’s why he works so hard to avoid being seen, every night when he slinks back to his own bedroom.

“Well, fine,” Felix spits. “Congratulations on working it out. Just keep it to your damn self, all right?”

“Why?” Dimitri still sounds angry, though his voice is still soft to avoid drawing attention from Claude nearby (or worse, Sylvain). “You have already been close to Sylvain for some time. I doubt anyone in our house would even be surprised — except perhaps Mercedes,” he admits after a moment’s pause. “But she’d also likely wish to officiate your wedding, or perhaps claim your firstborn as her godchild.”

Marriage? Children? Telling people?! Felix does not like where this conversation is going.

“It’s no one else’s damned business,” he blurts. “Especially not yours.”

He turns and stalks to his bedroom door, fiddling with the lock in the darkness.

“Why are you so upset?” Dimitri wants to know. Goddess, is the bastard following him? Why won’t he just leave him alone? “Surely you can’t think that any of us would… would hate you, or make fun of you, for falling in love with Sylvain…”

Shut up!” Felix all but shouts, biting his tongue when he hears how the words echo around the empty hallway full of sleeping classmates. “Shut up,” he hisses again, getting in Dimitri’s face. “As if you’d know anything about… about love, you absolute asshole. I’m not in love with Sylvain. Don’t make out like this is some bullshit romantic story like something out of one of Ashe’s books. He and I, we’re just… we…”

His jaw works a few moments more, trying to find the words that will help Dimitri understand, but quickly gives up. It’s not for Dimitri to understand, anyway.

“And what about you?” he demands. “I saw you with Claude, acting all lovey-dovey. Why the fuck are you lying to him?”

“I…” Dimitri looks like he’s been slapped. “Lying?”

“The way you looked at him,” Felix snarls, an edge to his voice as sharp as any of his swords. “All sweet and gentle, trying to make him think that you’re a good person.” He steps into Dimitri’s space, his voice low and threatening. “But I’ve seen who you really are, boar prince. Someone as bloodthirsty as you, who’s killed as many innocents as you, isn’t capable of love. So stop lying to Claude, and stop lying to yourself.”

The way Dimitri’s face falls reminds him of the child Felix once knew, the little boy in Fhirdiad who was kind to everyone around him and cried when soldiers trampled the flowerbeds. But that Dimitri has been gone for years, and so Felix steels himself against the guilt he feels at the hurt on Dimitri’s face.

“Now leave me alone,” Felix finishes, finally getting his door open, “and clean yourself up. You look like shit.”

And he slams the door in Dimitri’s face.

3.

Dimitri’s words haunt Felix through the next several weeks.

Part of it is the simple fact that Dimitri knows. He knows about him and Sylvain, when Felix had fought so hard to keep it private. Felix finds himself on edge in the classroom, in the dining hall, whenever Dimitri is so much as nearby, knowing that the boar has the power to reveal his deepest secret to everyone in the monastery. And then he’ll have to put up with Annette and Mercedes cooing over him, Ingrid threatening him not to hurt Sylvain, the professor giving him the talk… All things that make Felix swing his sword that much harder at training dummies, carving deep notches into their wooden torsos.

He doesn’t want others scrutinizing what he has with Sylvain when he’s barely able to examine it himself.

Because the thing is, Sylvain might be a layabout and a whore, but Felix can also see his loyalty, his strength, his courage. He remembers the boy who had held him after his brother died, letting Felix sob into his shoulder without a word. He can see the kind heart that has been cracked again and again thanks to his family’s emphasis on Crests over familial bonds, to the point where Sylvain simply won’t let himself love anyone since he can’t trust they won’t use him for his blood.

And Felix knows, deep down, that the promise they had made to one another as children… that they would die together… It’s a promise Felix will literally die trying to keep, because he simply cannot imagine continuing to live in a world where Sylvain has ceased to exist.

So, Dimitri is right, and he’s furious that Dimitri is right, because how dare the boar prince figure Felix’s feelings out before he himself does? And besides, it’s not as though putting words to these feelings will do Felix any good. Because eventually, just as he has with all his other partners, Sylvain will tire of him, and leave him, and then he’ll be alone with these heavy emotions that he never asked for in the first place.

And so Felix carries on as normal. He snipes at Sylvain in the daytime, and goes to visit him at night, and always, always leaves the moment they both finish. Doing anything else, letting Sylvain get closer than he’s already gotten, is tantamount to admitting defeat.

He no longer tiptoes past Dimitri’s door at night on his way back home, since there’s no longer any point. But he’s surprised to see that, more often than not, Dimitri’s light is still on in his room when Felix heads home, the room completely silent.

He’s been keeping half a suspicious eye on Dimitri since their last midnight meeting, watching who he talks to… but Dimitri seems to have withdrawn even more than he usually does. Dedue is with him, as always, but Felix rarely sees them speak, with Dedue serving as a silent sentinel over Dimitri’s study sessions and lance practice. He makes polite, clipped conversation with Ashe and Annette over dinner, prays with Mercedes in the cathedral, but no longer seems eager to speak with others, whether from his own house or either of the others.

Felix doesn’t think he would have seen anything too different from how Dimitri normally behaves, if not for Claude.

Claude’s always been one of the more outgoing students in the school — certainly the most outgoing house leader. And so, before Felix had realized that he and Dimitri were sleeping together, he hadn’t noticed anything strange about Claude sneaking into Blue Lions lectures to share pleasantries with Annette and Ingrid and throw rogueish winks at Dimitri.

But… lately things have been different.

Felix has seen Dimitri drop his gaze to the flagstones when Claude passes him, not responding to his greeting. He avoids Claude’s invitations to tea, turns Claude down when he asks to spar with him.

And once, during a late training session near the end of Garland Moon…

Felix and Dimitri are the last two to leave the knights’ hall that evening, with Felix hitting his limit before Dimitri does. He goes to put away his training sword, ducking into the corner where weapons are stored, when he suddenly sees Claude approach Dimitri out of the shadows, seemingly wanting to talk. Felix is too far away to hear their conversation, but he catches sight of Claude’s open palms, his pleading expression, while Dimitri’s own face is an unreadable mask.

“…Just tell me why?” he hears as he slips out of the knights’ hall, wishing to remain unseen. “You owe me that much, Mit’ka.”

“Please don’t call me that anymore.” Felix looks back, briefly, to see Dimitri leaning on his lance, looking troubled. “It’s better for us to end things here. Please… trust me.”

Felix leaves before he can overhear more.

That snippet of conversation follows him all the way back to the dormitory, as he picks his way down the hall to Sylvain’s room. He doesn’t know why it troubles him so, knowing that Dimitri and Claude have broken up. Is this why Dimitri has been so pathetic lately, drifting through his life like one of the ghosts he’s haunted by? Why Claude’s smile has become that much more sharp and brittle?

Is… is any of this Felix’s fault, for what he said in anger to Dimitri that night?

Goddess, he’s pathetic. He hopes Sylvain has left his door unlocked, so Felix might find some distraction to what he’s just witnessed.

Thankfully, the handle to Sylvain’s bedroom door turns easily, and Felix steps inside to find candles lit in every corner of the room, and Sylvain lounging on his bed.

Naked. Preening.

“Glad you showed up,” Sylvain says, pushing his hair back and posing on the bed, all while Felix gapes at him. “Was getting a little lonely.”

Felix can’t get out of his clothes fast enough.

“You unbelievable bastard,” he says, arms half out of his uniform shirt while he kneels on the bed, kissing Sylvain deeply. “You were waiting for me, here, like this? All night?”

“Mm… Missed you.” Sylvain wraps his legs around Felix’s waist, plucking at his clothes. “Let me show you how much?”

And Felix does. He takes his pleasure while letting Sylvain take his own, fisting both their cocks in one hand while Sylvain arches against him, groaning “yes” and “harder” and “goddess, Felix” into the shell of Felix’s ear. Felix buries his face in Sylvain’s neck at the embarrassment of it all, the intensity of what he feels for Sylvain, the desperation to have this last forever.

But inevitably, it ends, both of them spent on Sylvain’s stomach while Sylvain clings tightly to him. Felix can’t stay, he knows that, but he still lets himself take a selfish moment where he can feel Sylvain’s heart beat against his chest, feel Sylvain play lazily with his hair.

When he finally moves to get up, Sylvain only holds on tighter.

“Please,” and he’s surprised to hear the emotion in Sylvain’s voice. “Stay this time.”

“You know I can’t,” Felix says, impatient. It’s imperative for his own sanity that he get away as soon as possible to avoid getting more attached to Sylvain than he already has, but he doesn’t know how to tell Sylvain that without pissing him off and making him end this here and now.

He makes to sit up, and Sylvain follows him.

“I want you to stay,” Sylvain says, and reaches out to tangle his fingers with Felix’s. “Doesn’t it matter what I want?”

“No,” says Felix sharply. It’s in response to Sylvain’s first statement rather than his second, but realizes too late what Sylvain heard as his face falls, letting go of Felix’s hand. “I mean,” he says, kicking himself as he tries to backpedal. “It… it does matter, what you want, but that doesn’t change the fact that I have to go.”

He gets up, trying to look for where he threw his clothes during their foreplay.

“You don’t have to go,” Sylvain says, still sulking from his place on the bed. “You just want to.”

“Sylvain,” Felix starts, irritated, but Sylvain cuts him off.

“What even is this to you, Felix? What am I to you?” Sylvain gives a short, bitter laugh. “You won’t stay the night with me, you won’t let me come to you… Saints, you won’t even tell our best friends about us! So, what, is this some kind of experiment to see if you like guys? Or are you just messing with me?”

“Would you shut up for a minute?” Felix snaps, putting his hand to his temple. His head has started pounding, and he tries to massage his headache away, trying to figure out where the fuck Sylvain’s anger is coming from. “You… when did you start caring so much, what I think? I’ve known you my entire life, and you’ve never dated anyone for longer than a fortnight. What in Ailell was I supposed to think, when you started coming onto me?”

Sylvain is shaking his head, eyes glimmering in the candlelight.

“I really thought you were different,” he says softly, and Felix’s heart breaks, just a little, at how sad Sylvain sounds. “But you’re not, are you? You’re using me, just like all the others are.”

“What?” Felix is gobsmacked by this. “I… Sylvain, you know me! You know I don’t give a damn about your money or your Crest—!”

“Maybe not,” Sylvain says quietly, “but that didn’t stop you from coming around every time you wanted a quick fuck. And hey, I’m safe, right? Not like I run the risk of getting attached to you.”

Felix just stares at Sylvain, stricken. He wants to tell Sylvain he loves him — has wanted to say those words for years, in some secret place in his heart — but the words feel too big, too frightening, and he isn’t sure Sylvain would believe him at this point, but he wants to try anyway.

“Sylvain,” he starts again, weakly, but Sylvain shakes his head.

“Just go,” he says, and waves Felix out the door. “Don’t expect me to keep leaving my door open for you.”

And obediently, meekly, Felix does as Sylvain asks. A moment after he crosses the threshold, he hears the door shut and lock behind him.

In the cool stillness of the corridor, Felix crosses to rest his forehead on the cool stone of the opposite wall, trying to get a hold of himself. What the fuck is wrong with him, anyway? Why does he keep making a mess of all the best things in his life?

He’ll never get another chance with Sylvain, now. Sylvain has always been bound by the duties of his house to produce an heir, in a way that Felix has been fortunate enough to avoid. Felix had always known that this would end in his heart being broken, which is why he’d tried so hard to keep his distance from Sylvain.

So why, even though he’s done everything right, does everything still hurt so much?

“Idiot,” Felix curses at himself under his breath, thunking his head once against the hard stone. There’s a prickling at the corners of his eyes that he swallows down, absolutely unwilling to be weak over a boy, of all things. Then he straightens with a sigh, picking his boots off the floor to shuffle the rest of the way back to his chamber.

He crosses Dimitri on his way there.

Dimitri looks… terrible. Far worse than he did when Felix left him in the knights’ hall less than an hour ago. His hair is a tangled mess, his normally pristine clothes stained with sweat, and there are dark circles under his puffy, red eyes. His gaze crosses Felix’s, the look in his eyes utterly hollow.

“Dimitri?” Felix stutters, but Dimitri ignores him, heading back into his own chamber and lighting the lamp within.

Felix only hesitates a moment before barreling into the prince’s room, following him.

“Dimitri!” he says again, and Dimitri’s eyes flash in his direction.

“Leave me alone, Felix,” he says. He sounds so tired. “I’m not in the mood to be yelled at tonight.”

“That’s fine,” Felix says, and he crosses his arms. “Already yelled enough for one night.”

“That so?” Dimitri’s eyes flick over Felix’s form, with his shirt half-buttoned and untucked, his hair loose and boots missing. “You look awful,” he observes dispassionately.

Felix nods in his direction. “So do you.”

Dimitri just nods, slowly, before sitting down heavily on the edge of the bed. Felix hesitates only a moment before following suit.

Part of it is his concern over Dimitri. The man may be beastly, but he’s still Felix’s king, and if he falls apart, so will the rest of Faerghus. But the rest of it… Well. Perhaps, in spite of his protests with Sylvain, Felix just isn’t ready to be alone tonight.

Dimitri breaks the silence first.

“Claude and I are done.”

It’s not a surprise, but Felix looks at him anyway. Dimitri’s eyes are full of such sadness that Felix can’t help but feel for him.

He takes a deep breath. “Me and Sylvain, too,” he admits quietly. The tears prick at the corners of his eyes once more, the shame of his admitting defeat.

Dimitri looks at him, surprised.

“When?” He softens. “What happened?”

“Ah…” Felix sniffs, shakes his head. “You first.”

Dimitri looks away, facing the wall opposite them rather than look at Felix.

“Do you know,” he says slowly, “that Claude and I started seeing each other at the end of Great Tree Moon, and he’s still never been in this room?”

“Really?” Felix is shocked to hear that Dimitri and Claude had been together that much longer than he and Sylvain had. “For two months?”

Dimitri sighs, gaze dropping to his lap.

“There was always going to be something holding us back,” he says. He seems to be speaking more to himself than to Felix. “Holding me back, I guess. I kept telling him that, politically, it’d be complicated, but…” He sighs again. “I was just using that as an excuse, I think.”

Felix is watching him, seeing a kaleidoscope of emotions flicker over Dimitri’s face.

“So what’s the real reason?” he wants to know.

Dimitri takes a deep breath.

“I… have always had trouble letting others get close to me,” he says, haltingly. “You know that. But since the Tragedy of Duscur… somewhat more so.”

Duscur. Felix keeps silent, shoving his own feelings on the tragedy aside so he can continue listening to Dimitri.

“Everyone I loved,” Dimitri says, his voice becoming thick with tears, “cut down, right in front of me. Massacred. So many of them, dead for the crime of protecting me.” Dimitri takes a slow, shaky breath. “I learned, that day, that I cannot keep the people I love safe, no matter how much I wish otherwise. And so I have done the next best thing, instead.”

“You stopped loving people,” Felix said, and feels ill to his stomach, remembering the bitter words he’d spat so thoughtlessly at Dimitri. “Stopped letting them get close to you.”

“I suppose.” Dimitri laughs, hollow, bitter. “So you see, Felix, you were right about me all along. Congratulations.”

“No,” Felix says, and shakes his head furiously. “No, I didn’t… I didn’t want to be fucking right about you, Dimitri! I said that shit because I’m an asshole, because I wanted you out of my face, not because I think it’s true…!”

“Boar prince.” Dimitri scoffs. “You’ve stopped calling me by my name, since that day. Instead, you treat me like a wild animal.” He pauses, contemplating his own hands for a moment. “And perhaps I am one.”

Felix gets to his feet, unable to bear another word.

“Shut the fuck up,” he says, venomously, and Dimitri looks up at him in surprise. “You… you…”

He fists his hand in his hair, struggling to find the right words for once in his pathetic life. And hey, the goddess must really hate him tonight, to decide that tonight is the night that Felix Hugo Fraldarius is going to feel all his most painful feelings at once, but here he is.

“I loved my big brother,” he starts, and Dimitri frowns at him, confused by the change of subject. But still, Felix presses on. “Glenn… you know how much I fucking admired him, Dimitri. Sure, his ideals were fucking stupid, but he was so… so strong, such a capable warrior. I dreamed of finally beating him one day, to prove to myself that I could be even stronger. And then…”

He takes a deep breath, struggling to get it all out. “And then he died, protecting you. Shielding you from those monsters in Duscur. He was in so many pieces that they couldn’t even bring his body home.”

“I remember,” Dimitri says. His voice is shaking.

“But I thought,” and Felix laughs drily here. “I thought that if it had been for something… if the person he’d sworn his life to protect had actually been the kind of prince Glenn thought he was? One who lived up to all his saintly ideals? Then my big brother dying in agony would have been worth something, at least.”

Understanding flashes in Dimitri’s eyes.

“And then we put down the revolt together,” he says, comprehending. “You saw me at my worst.”

“I saw someone I didn’t recognize,” Felix tells him. He’s still trembling with rage. “You… you were one of my best friends, Dimitri, and you were unrecognizable out there. And so I thought, who the fuck is this person, anyway? Was he really worth Glenn getting himself killed over?”

“So that’s why you hate me.” Dimitri takes a deep breath. “I see.”

“I don’t hate you,” Felix says impatiently. “I… I want you to be the person that my hero thought was worth dying for. I just… don’t know that you are.”

Dimitri looks up at Felix.

“I don’t know that I am, either.” He gives him a weak smile. “I don’t really know who or what I am, anymore. Only that I wish to be someone worthy of their sacrifice. Someone strong enough to end the regrets of the dead who left me behind.”

Dimitri’s hands curl into fists in his lap. Felix sighs.

“So, let me get this straight,” he says. “You broke up with Claude because… what, there are too many gravestones around your neck?”

“Something like that,” Dimitri mutters.

“That’s fucking stupid.”

Dimitri’s eyes snap up to his.

“So is breaking up with Sylvain because you can’t tell him you love him.”

Felix gapes at him. “What?” How the fuck did he know?

“I know you, Felix,” Dimitri sighs. “And I know Sylvain. He needs to hear that he’s loved and appreciated, while you’d rather die than tell anyone you love and appreciate them. Not even once.”

“You…” Felix deflates, kicking at the flagstone with his bare toe, unable to ignore the simple logic behind Dimitri’s words. “You asshole,” he finally says, but it’s without heat.

“Right,” Dimitri drawls. “I’m the asshole.” When Felix looks up, he’s actually smirking at him.

“It’s not going to work, you know,” Felix stammers, feeling his face heat. “He’s gotta… you know, Crest babies, and he can’t have those with me… so…”

“Felix, you know Sylvain better than that,” Dimitri says. Were he less restrained, Felix thinks he would have rolled his eyes at him. “When did you ever get the impression that he’d be content living the life his parents want for him? Especially after what happened to his brother.”

“Fuck,” Felix hisses under his breath, crossing his arms even tighter and hunching his shoulders. He really has been the asshole after all. Great.

“Quit running away, Felix.” Dimitri is looking at him sternly, a king commanding his knight — a facsimile of the role their fathers once played. “Tell Sylvain that you care about him. Even if it’s only once.” His expression softens, turning into a hesitant smile. “You might even be surprised how well he responds.”

No, Felix wants to say. No way. It’s too humiliating, the thought of Sylvain laughing at him. He doesn’t think his heart will be able to take it.

“Fine,” is what he ends up telling Dimitri, albeit through gritted teeth. His arms fall to his sides. “But only if you go and make things right with Claude.”

The smile leaves Dimitri’s face, to be left with something more serious and sad. But still, he squares his shoulders, acting the chivalrous noble they both wish he could unreservedly be.

“All right.”

Felix nods, sealing their unspoken promise. “All right.”

+1

It is dawn at Garreg Mach Monastery.

Monks have already begun preparing the cathedral for morning prayers; cooks are already at work in the dining hall making breakfast. But the second floor of the students’ dormitory is, for the moment, utterly silent. Students still sleep in their beds, catching a few more moments of rest before the dawn fully wakes them.

At the far end of the hall, one door cracks open.

Claude von Riegan peeks out of Dimitri Alexandre Blaiddyd’s bedroom door, glancing up and down the hallway. He’s wearing nothing but a certain royal blue tunic that just barely comes to the tops of his thighs. In the room behind him, a voice stirs sleepily.

“Claude…”

“Hey there, Mit’ka,” Claude says, slipping back inside to kiss his lover good morning. “Just heading back to my room to grab some fresh clothes.”

“Mm… come back?”

Claude grins into the kiss, broad, unrestrained, affectionate. “Of course I will.”

He sneaks out, closing the door quietly behind him, ready to stealthily make his way back to his own chambers — when Felix Fraldarius’s door also swings open and a figure sidles out of it.

Claude stops dead in his tracks.

“Sylvain?”

“Ah!” The redhead jumps before realizing who it is. “Oh! Claude! Good morning.”

Claude carefully gives Sylvain the once-over — he’s even less decent than Claude himself is, a dirty bedsheet crumpled loosely about his waist and no other clothing to speak of. Then he looks back up at Sylvain with a grin.

“He finally let you stay the night?”

Sylvain grins back, giddy.

“He did! I’ll give you all the details later—”

“That’s fine,” Claude says hastily, holding up his hands.

“—but it was so…” Sylvain sighs happily. “Falling asleep in his arms… It was just like I dreamed. Is that crazy?”

“No,” Claude reassures him, and smiles at him. “I know exactly what you mean.”

“Sylvain,” comes a deep, grouchy voice from inside Felix’s bedroom. “I’m fucking freezing. Hurry back, already.”

“Yes, dear,” Sylvain shout-whispers back, and grins at the way Felix grumbles.

He and Claude carefully bump fists on their way back to their respective bedrooms, both of them grabbing clean clothes for the day ahead. Both Sylvain and Claude take care, however, not to dawdle.

They each have someone waiting for them, after all.