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Second Try's the Charm

Chapter Text

     It wasn’t supposed to be like this. It wasn’t supposed to end this poorly.


     It was supposed to be a simple bandit routing. Some bandits in the further outskirts of Garreg Mach. The war was slowly turning in favor of the Church of Seiros once more. His students were happier, livelier and were ready to put a stop to the war.


     It was supposed to be simple.


     What they didn’t expect was those mysterious soldiers orchestrating the event. It was just a ploy to lure the former students, professors, and knights away from their stronghold. And it worked.


     Once lured, they sent these mechanical demons as well as soldiers who were practically super-human. The heroes tried to run, but they were surrounded on all sides. They had to fight.

     And it was a slaughter. And Byleth tried to turn back the hands of fate. But he had run out of energy. He could only stand.


     So there Byleth stood. Watching in dismay as his allies fell left and right. Ferdinand skewered by a rival lance, but not before taking down his assailant in a last stand. Petra was shot down from her wyvern as she yelled for her friend. She died before she hit the ground. Raphael was in a blind rage after Lysithea was struck down by a warding arrow. He soon ran out of energy and was overtaken by enemy fighters. Byleth saw the inseparable duo of Felix and Sylvain as they looked at one another, gazes meeting the other, asking the same question with tears in their eyes: “Is this really the end?” They died at the same time.


     Byleth watched as Catherine took an arrow for Shamir, and Shamir blindly firing through her tears before letting herself get taken out by a sword. Flayn fought as she tried to carry her brother through the battlefield, in an attempt to retreat. She hadn’t realized that Seteth had died earlier from his wounds. She herself could only hold her brother as she heard the meteor roar above them. Mercedes and Annette shot bolts of light, fire, and everything else they could summon, but soon it was purely too much. Annette blasted a bandit only to see Mercedes get struck down by another. Annette fell to her knees in despair, failing to see the axe swinging down at her.


     Linhardt was sobbing as he tried and failed to heal Caspar’s too terrible wounds. He held his departed friend as the mechanical monster struck. Dorothea was surrounded. Too many to take down. Not enough power. She stood tall and summoned the last of her power. She met the professor’s eyes, smiling sadly as the meteor crushed her and the men and women surrounding her. Marianne and Ignatz were trying their best to hold off the impeding forces, but it soon became too much for either of them to bear. They succumbed to their wounds both of them thinking, “I never had the chance to say it.” Hanneman fell against the blade of a fortress soldier, and Manuela immediately took revenge for her fallen friend and professor, tears streaking down her face, scowl angry and up close. She plunged her blade into another bandit as they caught her just above her heart. She spat in their face before she too died.


     Leonie and Lorenz fought valiantly, riding their horses through the melee, but with a single thoron, they were thrown off their mounts, and into the range of the mechanical beasts. They held hands as one of the beasts took their lives. Alois died fighting, tearing pouring down his visage as he felt Jeralt calling to him from on high. Cyril was ripped from the sky by the monster and the last thing he felt was fear. Ingrid could only scream in terror as she heard the wails of Ashe being burned alive by a ragnarok. She felt all the fight leave her, and simply stared at the fighter who’s lance pierced her heart.


     Soon enough, it was only him and Bernadetta. He’d promised that he’d go anywhere with her back at the monastery. He intended to keep that promise. 


     “P-professor….” Bernadetta’s voice quavered, tears running down her face. Her bow shaking in her hands. “Are we going to die here? Do Edelgard and Hubert hate us that much?” She choked back a sob, letting an arrow soar and strike an enemy in the head. Something in the professor’s mind said this wasn’t their plan. That those two wouldn’t stoop this low.


     “I...I don’t think so. They...they wouldn’t do this…” Byleth was so tired. His energy was tapering off. Seeing that many of his friends and allies around him die was costly. It was taking its toll on him. “Bernie, if anything happens to us… I want you to know something.” Byleth swallowed harshly as he sliced a mage’s head clean off.


     “W-what!? What is it?” She asked, surprised.


     “I love you.”




     He waited for a response.


     It never came.


     He whipped his head around and saw his beloved, still standing, but with a sword in her chest. Byleth saw red. He plunged the Sword of the Creator into the opponent’s skull and pushed him away from them. He grabbed Bernadetta before she fell.


     Her shallow breaths were the only thing he could focus on. The army marched closer to them, but he didn’t care. Byleth’s whole world was dying. Bernadetta muttered something under her breath.


     “Bernadetta?” He gasped. “What did you say?”


     “ you….too, Byleth. Thank you.” Bernadetta smiled through her tears, her grey eyes telling him the true depth of her feelings. And then there was nothing.


     Byleth felt utterly powerless. He had the power of Sothis, but what for? It wasn’t fair. This war had stolen everything from him. He felt wetness on his cheeks but he didn’t care. He just cried. Sobs that racked his whole body and mind. Sobs that ran through the army behind him. He wanted to go back. He had to go back. Byleth wanted his friends and lover back. He had a goddess’ power, but it was useless. He was useless.


     As he continued to sob, a bright purple glow captured his body, and then Bernadetta’s. It grew, encompassing everyone and everything in the battlefield. And it kept going.


     And then it was white.

     “Come on, kid. Up and at em.”




     “Byleth! Will you get up? Sheesh, kid.”


     That was….it couldn’t be...


     Byleth opened his eyes and what he saw was his father, Jeralt, who was supposed to be dead. Byleth shot up from his cot, and looked around frantically. This had to be fake...because…


     He was back at the start. The 20th night of the Great Tree Moon. The day when his life was forever changed. 


     He vomited on the floor.

Chapter Text

     “Hey! You alright?!” Jeralt exclaimed, rushing to his son’s side in an instant, rubbing his back in small circles. “Did you eat anything sour for dinner?” Jeralt’s brow furrowed as he examined his son. Byleth stumbled back from his father’s hand, scrambling back before he hit the opposite wall. He was breathing heavily, his pants filling the space in the room. 


     “You look like you’ve seen a ghost, Byleth.”


     That’s because you have. A soft voice echoed in his head. 


     Sothis?! Byleth thought. He had missed her voice so much. It’s been at least 5 years since he last heard her.


     Yeesh! Not  so loud! You’re gonna give us a headache! She groaned. Byleth could almost cry right now. Sothis was back! His dad was alive! It’s almost as if he had a second chance!


     Hey! Pay attention! Your father was talking to you! Sothis scolded the teal-haired man. Oh right. He was in the present. 


     “I-it was just that weird dream again,” Byleth heaved a heavy sigh, standing up. Jeralt took a small step towards his son, concern plastered on his face.


     “You should take it easy for a bit, kid. You did just puke, y’know,” Jeralt huffed a laugh and Byleth found himself smiling despite himself. He missed his father so much.


     As if on cue, a knock sounded throughout the cottage.


     “Huh. Who could that be?” Jeralt asked no one in particular, striding towards the door.


     If we are back in the past...that means… Byleth started thinking before his thought process was interrupted by a new/old voice.


     “Sorry to bother you guys so late, but there are some bandits chasing after us and we could use the help.” It was Claude, the leader of the Golden Deer. Standing on either side was Dimitri and Edelgard. Byleth froze once more. He saw what happened during the war. He knew these kids’ future, even if they didn’t see it. 


     Hey! Byleth!!! Pay attention! They’re speaking to you! Sothis’ ever so kindly chided. After Byleth cursed himself under his breath, he replied.


     “Apologies, I’m battling a mild illness from last night. Could you repeat that?” Byleth commended himself for thinking on the fly.


     “Of course,” Edelgard answered, her gaze studying his body intensely. He noticed that a light blush dusted her cheeks. Huh. He didn’t notice that last time. “The bandits are en route at this moment, and we were wondering if you could order us.” Her voice was elegant and poised as he remembered it. 


     “We’re just students, so it would be appreciated if someone more experienced coul take the lead,” Dimtri added. Seeing him especially felt like a punch to the gut. He died in the future. 


     “ seems you guys are from there..hmm,” Jeralt muttered to no one in particular. “Fine. We’ll assist you. Don’t want to let you kids die.” Jeralt turned to Byleth. “Suit up, Byleth. You’re in command.” Byleth knew how this battle would go. 


     But wait….if I know how this battle goes then… Byleth felt hope in his chest.


     So...this is a unique opportunity for us. Since we know the future, we can put an end to the war before it even begins… and


     Save everyone. Byleth finished the thought for Sothis. They would do it. He made a promise to himself right then and there. 


     He would save everyone. No matter what. 


Chapter Text

     “I gotta say, stranger, you were pretty dangerous back there! It was almost like you knew what they were gonna do,” Claude crowed from his side. It was after the reunion with his new/old students and the battle that took place afterward. It was easy just like last time. But there was a major change from the last time he fought with them. 


     The battle was practically over, but Byleth knew otherwise, as soon as he saw Kostas turn to face Edelgard, Byleth rushed the bandit leader, blade in hand, and stabbed him through his leg.


     The three house leaders stood in shock as they saw their future professor practically predict the future.


     “...I’m just gonna say it, this stranger is pretty hot,” Claude spoke up. Dimitri and Edelgard snapped their heads towards him, mouths agape, but faces blushing.


     “Claude! We just met him! You cannot say such things!” Dimitri protested, gazing at his Almyran friend in disbelief. Edelgard nodding her head in agreement.


    “We were all thinking it, Your Highnesses.” The two heirs had to look away. It was then that Byleth approached them...with a strange gaze on his face. It almost looked like relief. Almost. 


     “You kids, okay?” Byleth asked, monotone voice calling out.


     “Yes, we are fine, thanks to your quick thinking,” Edelgard replied, bowing to her savior. Byleth froze for a second, his mind flashed with the memory of Edelgard leading a military battalion against the church. 


     “Y-yes of course. It wasn’t a problem.”


     Now back in the present, Byleth replied to Claude.


     “It’s just years of mercenary work.”


    That’s definitely a white lie. Sothis crooned in his head. If he closed his eyes, he could easily see her giving him a smug look. He resisted the urge to roll his eyes.


    “I must say,” Dimitri started, hand on his chin. “You seem particularly familiar to me. I’m not entirely sure as to why.” Byleth’s breath stopped short. He hadn’t even considered the idea that the students might remember him from their past-future. 


     You REALLY need to think up a better name for it. Sothis groaned. Byleth was inclined to agree with her. Regardless, it is a good point. Does everyone have a vague idea of who you are? Or is it only those who you bonded with during your teaching days? Byleth pondered these ideas for a moment before tuning into the conversation again. 


     “Y’know now that ya mention it… the professor seems pretty familiar too. Maybe we knew each other in a past life!” Claude laughed out loud, but Byleth was practically screaming in his head. He was pretty sure he heard Sothis yell at him to shut up. Edelgard swatted at Claude’s shoulder causing him to recoil playfully.


     “You two are idiots. He’s obviously the Ashen Demon we’ve heard rumors about.” Dimitri and Claude exclaimed as they agreed. Byleth would’ve leaped for joy if he wasn’t in the presence of others. Edelgard had given him a way out. Or so he thought. He caught her staring with an intensity that he recognized from his experience with watching over her and her fellow students: This conversation isn’t over.


     Byleth and his headspace companion groaned. She remembered more than she’ll say. We’ll have to be prepared for that. Sothis noted. Byleth silently agreed. This was going to become more complex.




     It wasn’t long after that they arrived at the mountain-built monastery of Garreg Mach. It pained Byleth to admit it, but he missed this place looking like it did. It was good seeing it in one piece and not a dilapidated building that suffered from the attack and resulting war. 


     It almost felt like home. Almost. There was something that felt...different about Garreg Mach. But he didn't know what it was.


     You know, I have to wonder…will anyone else remember you here? Or will it just be the old students? Sothis mused quietly. Byleth found himself wondering the same thing. How many would recognize him? If anyone at all? He was taken out of his thoughts by his father stopping next to him. 


     “Rhea’s here…” he muttered so only Byleth could hear. Byleth looked up and saw the imposing figure of Archbishop Rhea. Somehow, she seemed less intimidating. Maybe because he already knew her well enough already. 


     The mercenary company walked into the monastery, the men and women in the company all looking in awe and wonder at everything around them. They’d heard stories from Jeralt, but nothing quite measured up to seeing it in person. 


     “Jeralt, Byleth. The archbishop wishes to have an audience with you,” a baritone voice rang out, and the source was a man in older age garments, dark green hair with matching beard and a circlet on his brow. Byleth froze once more. Remembering the bloodied body Seteth seconds before getting crushed by a meteor spell. He clearly remembered Flayn’s desperation as she tried to drag him along. But here he was. Alive and breathing. Byleth had to resist the urge to hug him. Jeralt noticed the slight pause and answered for them both


     “Of course. We’ll join you,” Jeralt replied, before nodding to his company with a look that said, “be careful” before walking behind Seteth, in step with Byleth. “I wonder what she would want after all these years…” Jeralt sighed under his breath, Byleth had a pretty good idea of what it was. But he feigned ignorance with a noncommittal shrug. Jeralt glanced over at his son with a curious, but scrutinizing gaze. Byleth could hear Sothis’ hum nervously as Jeralt looked at him. Before too long, Jeralt sighed once more and shrugged. “Guess we’ll find out once we get there, huh?” Byleth nodded, Sothis breathing a sigh of relief. 


     “We’ve arrived,” Seteth announced to the mercenaries. “Please be respectful to Lady Rhea, although…” Seteth trailed off. He turned towards them and gave a rare smile. “I… feel as though I can trust both of you, so I doubt it would be any issue.” He turned back towards the door, leaving Byleth dumbstruck. 


     Huh. That’s definitely new, isn’t it? Sothis inquired. I guess he remembers the time you spent together. We need to do research and figure out to what extent this reaches. Byleth felt himself nodding as the green-haired assistant opened the large doors into the chamber where Rhea was standing, waiting to greet them with a smile on her face.


     For once, Byleth found himself smiling too.

Chapter Text

The birds were singing their happy song as the day continued. Most of the students were out of their classes for the day, and they decided to fill up their time by eating, training, or any other of smaller activites.


Byleth sat by himself, in his room, reading a magical tome to refresh his memories of what he learned, and to distract him from his own anxiety. He then felt Sothis hover around him and peer over his shoulder. 


“Studying reason? How strange. I’m used to you studying faith or even bow techniques,” she mused beside him. He gave a non-comittal shrug.


“Since I’ve been given a sort of second chance, I might as well make the most of it. I want to take this chance to learn something new,” he responded with his ever monotone way of speaking. Sothis hummed in agreement.


“What smart ideas from you, Byleth! No wonder you’re such a brillant tactician!” Byleth thought he was going mad. Sothis just praised him for something? Unheard of! He stopped reading and looked up at her, a single eyebrow raised. “W-what?! Is it so rare that I compliment you?” 


“I mean, yes. But it’s a nice change of pace,” Byleth gave a small smile to his floating companion. Sothis turned to hide a small blush from his.


“Hush you…” 


A bell tolled throughout the monastery, signaling the end of the next hour, which also meant that Byleth needed to go meet up with Rhea again. He navigated the halls with practiced ease, dodging out of the way of students, monks and soldiers as he arrived at the meeting hall where Rhea stood, waiting. 


“Byleth, welcome. Thank you for coming to see me today,” she greeted, bowing slightly in gratitude. The teal-haired mercenary returned the gesture.


“Of course. I’m happy to be here,” he gave her a small smile, and her eyes shined a little brighter. 


“That is good to hear. It brings me joy that you’re here with us today. I do have a task for you,” Rhea began. “In order for you to become a professor, you must become acquainted with the students you’ll be potentially teaching. So my task for you is to go out and seek the house leaders for Golden Deer, Blue Lions, and Black Eagles. They will inform you of their fellow students, and after you are done, return to me and we will decide what house you will lead.” Byleth nodded in understanding before bowing, and leaving the chamber. It was just like before. Nothing had changed. However, he still felt worried about what was to come in the near future.


It is, indeed, rather intimidating. Knowing what the future holds. Sothis echoed into his mind. I wonder if there really is anything we can do. Byleth’s brows furrowed in concern. Here they were, with all their memories and knowledge of what the future holds, and he doesn’t know where or how to even start fixing the problem. Should he start talking to Edelgard sooner to attempt and stop her from attacking the church? Or should he start attempting to break down the old ideas of nobility? No matter what option he thought of, they all seemed outrageous. He was only a mere mercenary after all. Who would believe him?


His internal monologue came to a halt as he saw his old students. They were alive again. Breathing air once more. He froze. Flashes of their deaths played before his eyes. Byleth couldn’t feel the ground beneath his feet anymore, his breathing became erratic, and the edges of his vision were growing dark. Was he having a panic attack? He didn’t know. He could only hear the faint voice of Sothis calling to him.


And then he heard a voice. 


“S-sir! F-focus on my voice! Y-y-you’re having an attack! Take some deep breaths!” The voice urged. Byleth complied, slowly breathing in air. He continued for a few moments until his breathing relaxed again. His eyes focused on a mop of purple hair, soft grey eyes, and a small warm smile. “It’s nice to see you again, P-professor Byleth.” She whispered only to him. He couldn’t believe it.

It was Bernadetta. And she remembered.