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Claude despised the atmosphere that clung to Garreg Mach lately, it made butterflies fill his stomach and his scales feel hot. Every dragonet seemed to be head over heels for someone else, except for Claude, it made him jealous almost, even more so now that he had a front row seat to the public display of affection between a certain Skywing and Nightwing, the two males rubbing their snouts together and purring lowly. 

Ugh, it made him sick, he would eat a cactus if there were any here.

“GET A ROOM!” Claude yelled from the wall he was lying on, laughing as Ferdinand jumped with a squeal, hitting his head against Hubert’s due to the hasty action. Claude laughed from where he was, nearly rolling over onto his stomach from laughter as Hubert huffed out a small plume of fire from his nostrils. 

“Leave him Hubie, he’s not worth your animus magic.” Ferdinand grumbled, Claude sticking his tongue out, Ferdinand grimacing.

“That much I can agree on.” Hubert grunting, nudging him with one of his wings before they walked away, Claude huffing as they left the courtyard below him. Claude wouldn’ve stretched his wings and gotten ready to fly off had he not heard a quiet exchange below him, the Sandwing hybrid looking down to the path below him. 

“Afternoon, Dimitri.”

“Afternoon you two.” Claude slammed his rump down at the sound of that perfect, quiet voice, ears pricked up. Dimitri, the dragonet of his dreams, the only guy he wanted to spend the rest of his days with, oh to hold his talons in his own and put a wing over him and-

Claude stopped mid fantasy, a frown on his face.

Oh Goddess, what in the hells was THAT-

“Gross, gross, gross.” Claude gagged, the Sandwing shook himself, spreading his wings to take in the heat of the sun, casting a long shadow below him. He kept his gaze trailed on the path and he finally saw him.

The perfect dragon was right below him, the Nightwing-Seawing hybrid walked confidently, claws clicking against the cobblestone below him, his almost abyss blue scales shine in the afternoon sun, the faint patches of luminescent scales forming a trail from the back of his head to his flank, the silver spikes that ran down his head and back laid flat, the prince of the holy kingdom relaxed, a rare sight indeed. His wings were tucked neatly into his body, and his tail’s tip flicked, he was in a pleasant mood it seemed.

Claude heard him chuckle softly, oh what a heavenly sound, he wished he heard it more often. He saw the prince’s retainer walk out into the courtyard behind him, the Mudwing-Nightwing speaking about the conditions of the greenhouse it seemed, judging how much the usually quiet dragonet spoke. 

He froze as he saw the retainer spot the shadow and look up, “Claude?”

“Dedue!” Claude nearly sang out, standing up, curling his barbed tail. “Hey! How’s the weather down there?”

Dimitri looked up, those wonderful baby blue eyes softening at the sight of the other house leader. “Claude! What are you doing up on the wall?”

“Relaxing, taking up the sun’s rays, bothering Hubert and Ferdinand.” Claude said, dramatically draping a talon over his eyes, wings flopped against the stone wall. He heard Dimitri laugh quietly from his spot in the courtyard, when he peeked through his talons, he saw the prince sit down, tail tucked around his legs neatly.

“That would explain why they were grumbling after they greeted us.” Dimitri muttered, his retainer huffing slightly. “You may want to tone it down. I wouldn’t put it past Hubert to curse your mouth shut with a spell.”

“Not if I poison him first! He can’t curse me if he can’t move.” Claude joked.
“Claude!” Dimitri yelped. 

“Relax your princeliness.” The Sandwing laughed, smiling as the prince relaxed below, haunches no longer tense. “Edelgard would have my head if I pestered her retainer too much, and I’d rather not be burnt to a crisp by the Skywing Empress.”

“A mutual feeling, my friend.”

“I have something to attend to your highness, I’ll return shortly.”

“Understood, Dedue.” The retainer bowed to Claude who teasingly repeated the motion before the huge dragonet left, Claude leaping down from the wall to join Dimitri on the ground. “Were you really up there to soak up the sun? I though Rainwings were the ones who basically worshipped it.”

“Everyone needs a little sun. Besides, I miss the afternoon sun in the Alliance’s territory. You can’t tell me you don’t miss the cloudless nights in Faerghus, hm?” The Sandwing retorted lightheartedly, making the hybrid prince’s ears prick slightly.
“Touche.” Dimitri chuckled. “But there’s more to it than that, correct?”

“Have you not felt it Dima? This place feels like how the dining hall smells on mystery meat night.” Claude waved his wings around for emphasis, pouting as Dimitri tilted his head in confusion. “Claustrophobic.” 

“How so?”

Claude was baffled by the obliviousness of the holy kingdom’s future leader, maybe there was a bit of truth in what Felix said when he called Dimitri a boar. Although, boars were maybe less oblivious than this. 

“It literally stinks of horny teenage dragonets, Dimitri, you can smell it.” Claude wailed, shaking Dimitri’s shoulders as the other yelped, he could feel him grow hot, Claude resting his head on Dimitri’s chest, oh Goddess he wished he could keep it right where it was, right above Dima’s heart. “It reeks, Hubert and Ferdinand, Leonie and Ingrid, hell, I’m sure you’ve seen Sylvain following Felix around like a love sick wolf, right?”

“Well…”

“Even Hilda! My own best friend, sneaking off with Marianne in the dead of night to gossip and talk about flowers and how much of a gorgeous hunk I am-”

“Claude!” Dimitri sputtered, clearly embarrassed, Claude couldn’t contain the laugh he tried to bite back. 

“You get the idea right? It’s no fun being alone.”

“You’re lonely?” Dimitri asked.

“I am, I guess.” Claude huffed, tucking his wings in. He yelped as Dimitri nudged his shoulder with his snout. 

“Come on, let’s go train.”

“Train?!” Claude whined. He had already had to go out with Seteth and Byleth earlier that day, the bruises on his flanks and ribs were proof enough of how the massive Nightwing and lithe hybrid had tossed him around like a ragdoll all morning long. 

“Would you rather be alone?” Dimitri suggested, the dragonet smiling slightly. Oh, oh clever boy.

“Oh fine, but just because I can’t say no when you smile at me like that.” Claude chuckled, letting Dimitri lead the way before he matched his pace. 

“Promise you’ll go easy on old Claude?”

“I’ll try my best.” The dragonet laughed quietly, and Claude nearly melted where he walked.

 

---

 

Claude didn’t know how it happened.

Those little meetings in the courtyard that always led to walks, to training, to flies around Garreg Mach, Claude hadn’t really thought much about the time they had spent together. Really, Claude had brushed it off as Dimitri being polite and trying to get to know him better, since they were both house leaders and all, but no.

Goddess no, it hadn’t been that at all.

Now Claude was curled up with Dimitri , the larger dragonet’s wings curled around him, covering him, drawing him close to the prince’s warmth as he was held dearly, Dimitri snoring softly. 

If this was a dream he didn’t ever want to wake up.

Maybe he was jealous, just a little, but holy shit it had been for a good reason. This was divine, being held, loved, to have someone to confide in you all their worries, their secrets, their fears.

Claude was in love.

In love with Dimitri Alexandre Blaiddyd.

But in love nonetheless. 

Claude purred softly, a low, happy sound deep in his chest, Dimitri shifting beside him and pulling him closer. Claude saw the faint glow from his scales in his sleep, probably a response to someone in his dreams.

Claude smiled, and he closed his eyes again.

May the Goddess bless them both. 

 

---

 

Dimitri.

Where is Dimitri, where is he, oh Goddess, oh no, please, please don’t let him be dead, please Serios-

Claude raced down the paths of the monastery, he could hear the battle going on outside, sharp cries of pain, roars of anger, wails of agony, screams cut short. Claude bounded up the stairs, wings already unfurling from his sides as he came to the roof, taking a running start before he lept into the air, wings flapping and lifting him into the skies, a flash of gold in the murky sunrise. The whole of Garreg Mach was a warzone, he spotted Byleth amongst the dragons, dispatching foes quickly and moving to catch up to Annette and Dorothea it seemed.

He spotted the familiar blasts of frost breath below, Felix and Sylvain fighting off imperial soldiers together, Sylvain blasting them with fire before Felix hit them with a cold, deadly ice breath. Caspar and Ashe were double teaming a larger dragon, both of the smaller dragonets efficient and sorely underestimated by their now screaming opponent. 

Ignatz raced towards Raphael, the tiny Rainwing hissing before he spit a blotch of corrosive acid into an imperial Skywing’s eyes, the dragon roaring in agony and withering on the ground as the two raced away. Goddess, he even spotted Hubert clawing at Ferdinand’s flank and biting his leg, Ferdinand wailing in agony before he kicked him off, the Skywing racing away with the other retreating Black Eagles that had joined the Blue Lions, Byleth more specifically. Hubert tried to follow him, but Byleth blocked his way suddenly, tackling him down and giving him a few good slashes across the snout and flank before sending him running with his tail between his legs before she raced off once more. 

Goddess bless that dragoness for keeping all of his friends safe. 

No sign of Dimitri.

Goddess where was he?!

“PROFESSOR!”

Oh no.

Claude saw him, he saw Dimitri by the gorge, he saw Dedue pull him away from the edge, the larger dragonet saying something to him before shoving him away from the edge and back into the fray. Dimitri roared in what Claude could only describe as the rage of Serios herself before he launched himself into the fray, dragons scrambling to get out of the way. Claude saw Edelgard nearby, the dragoness clearly looking for Dimitri, her enemy, if anyone was in her way for total control of Fodlan, it was Rhea, and Dimitri, and as far as Claude knew Rhea was either captured or already dead. 

He saw the white Skywing narrow her eyes and race forward, cutting down everyone in her way, friend or foe alike.

She had seen Dimitri. She was going to kill him.

Claude had to save Dimitri.

Claude tucked his wings in and dove into the battle, landing on top of a very surprised Icewing and flinching as he heard her back snap and her legs buckle beneath her weight as he shoved himself off her and bounded toward Dimitri with the momentum. “Dima!”

Claude couldn’t feel his legs, his wings, his anything, it felt like it took forever to reach his Dimitri, his prince, and the moment he got to him he regretted every life decision up until that point. 

Claude got a perfect view of Dimitri silencing a scream of pain from an imperial Skywing by snapping his neck between his maw, Dimitri dropping the limp body before he lunged at another imperial soldier, this Icewing not having time to even make noise before Dimitri made his skull collapse in on itself beneath his claws, Claude wanting to retch up the measly breakfast he had that morning. Dimitri was killing every dragon that got too close, a Mudwing tried to burn him, fire hitting Dimitri but almost seeming to bounce off before Dimitri blast him with his own flames, the Mudwing screaming in agony before racing away, still on fire, companions screaming as he tripped and cannoned into them

Claude wanted to say something, anything to snap Dimitri out of this rage, he wanted to calm him down, hold him, soothe him, but when Dimitri looked at him he didn’t see warmth. He saw bloodlust, a fire raging so brightly Dimitri could’ve gone blind. Dimitri’s snout was stained with blood and so were his claws, and he had his sights set on Claude now. 

“DIMA!” Claude roared, as Dimtri bowled into him, the prince hissing, his talons around Claude’s throat, Claude trying to claw at him, kick him off, fucking stab him with his barbed tail but gods dammit he had no poison! Dimitri was going to kill him thinking he was an enemy, he was going to snap his neck or suffocate him, or-

Dimitri suddenly let go, Claude gasping for lost breath as Dimitri roared in agony and Claude then saw it. His left wing was dissolving, the leather slowly being eaten away by acid . He saw a flash of pink before something shoved him up. 

“Hurry up, by the Goddess, that won’t hold him for long!”

Hilda. 

Claude looked back at Dimitri, who was still roaring in agony, his wing was missing more than half the leathery skin that let dragons fly, Dimitri could never regrow it, he was landbound now, by the Goddess, Hilda had sentenced Dimitri to death. Edelgard was going to be able to catch him and kill him.

Hilda shoved him again, taking to the air before Claude followed, shaking as Dimitri tried to follow them, leaping into the air only to fall to the mud again, Claude wincing. 

“CLAUDE, HELLO, I’M SAVING YOU LIFE, GODS DAMMIT!”

Claude finally turned to fly away with her, to where he could see the other Golden Deer were hiding and waiting, licking their wounds and cowering like kicked dogs. He heard Dimitri roar in agony again, and the faint start of a new conversation between someone and the holy kingdom’s prince.

“Why, if it isn’t Lambert’s boy~”

“Cornelia?!”

Claude closed his eyes, and he prayed to whatever would listen. 

Please.

Please let him see Dimitri again.

Chapter Text

Claude’s talons dug into the dry dirt beneath him, the Sandwing looking out into the distance with a sense of dread. Beyond him, miles and miles away was the imposing Garreg Mach, in ruins, towers had collapsed and walls looked ready to do the same. It had been five years since he was last here, almost six since he had walked this same path with his fellow house leaders, captain Jeralt and Byleth. Now, Jeralt was dead, Byleth had disappeared, Edelgard was slowly conquering Fodlan and Dimitri was likely dead.

Well, that’s what he had thought two weeks ago.

Claude had hired some bandits to investigate Garreg Mach for him, the Sandwing hadn’t been recognized, he looked like any other Sandwing, really. He had told them he needed to find out what kind of dragon was supposedly haunting the place, and they could keep all the loot they found. They had gladly agreed, and Claude promised them a bonus if they promised to come back all tell him what they saw. In the end, only one came back, wings torn off her back, missing chunks out of her tail and one of her legs, and pale, even for an Icewing, blue blood pooling underneath her as she staggered to his camp. She had collapsed, muttering something about a gigantic beast, with the strength of 20 dragons and a mane like a lion’s. It had bled into shadows after taking down her companions before a flash of blue scales drew her attention away and led to her pathetic state now. Her wounds had been infected badly, her leg fell off, followed by her tail before they found (rather smelt) her three days later, stiff as a board, dead. 

Hilda told him he was crazy, told him it wasn’t who he was looking for, that if he died she was going to kill him again. Claude knew she was right, he was crazy, but he wasn’t going to just leave now, not after coming so far. 

Dimitri was there, he knew it, deep in his scales. The Almyran hadn’t been able to sleep at all last night, a poor move on his part, but he was here, Dimitri was within reach.

The Sandwing was no fool however, he hadn’t expected to just run into Garreg Mach and hope the prince was happy to see him. Dragons had gone to Garreg Mach and as far Claude knew, only the Icewing he had hired had come back from a company of 12. Dimitri’s claws were stained with the blood of looters, Knights of Serios who came to take down the Damned Beast, imperial soldiers and even members of the Alliance who had been dumb enough to go behind Claude’s back and come here.

Dimitri had killed. He had killed so many, enough to be labeled a monster. Claude wasn’t stupid, Dimitri had nearly done the same to him when the Empire had invavded Garreg Mach. To top it all off, Dimitri’s genetics were probably the most dangerous mix known to dragons. Nightwings were immensely strong, and their bites contained a venomous saliva, the Icewing had learned this first hand, her wounds and death a direct result of the killer bite. On top of that, Nightwings fire was the second strongest, second only to Skywings, Claude had watched Dimitri set foes ablaze before, his fire was not something to take lightly. Dimitri’s Seawing genes only granted him more strength, and he could breathe underwater, one whack from Dimitri’s tail could shatter bone if he put enough force into a swing. 

Claude had to be careful if he wanted to survive this. 

“Claude, what in the name of Serios are you doing out here?” 

Claude looked over, twisting his neck slightly to spot Hilda, the Rainwing yawning lowly as she padded over, stretching each leg out as she slowly made her way to Claude’s side, sitting down beside him. He hadn’t heard her wake up.

“Thinking.” He sighed.

“There’s a chance that it isn’t him, Claude.” Hilda huffed, curling her tail around herself, wings against her sides.

“And there’s a chance it is, Hilda. I need to see it with my own two eyes.”

Hilda scoffed, her colors shifting to a hot pink, red stripes on her tail. “I still don’t know why I can’t come with you.”

“Gee Hilda, I wonder why in the name of the moon I’m not going to take you to see my estranged boyfriend whose wing you melted off .” Claude gasped dramatically, Hilda snorting. “It’s not like I want to keep him calm or anything, I rather value my head, and my legs, and my wings and my tail, Hilda.”

Hilda sighed deeply, rolling her shoulders and whacking the back of his head with a wing, the Almyran yelping and rubbing the back of his head, glaring at the Rainwing who smirked smuggly back at him.

“You’re childish.”

“And you’re stupid and in love.”

Claude rolled his eyes, “I’m going to get ready.” He heaved himself off his haunches, bumping into Hilda with his flank and knocking her down, the Rainwing hissing at him as he laughed. 

“I hope he eats you!”

“I hope so too!” He called back, ducking as a stick flew past his fins.

 

---

 

Oh gods this was so much harder that he was here.

Claude adjusted the scarf around his neck, the bag around his shoulder shifting as he gulped. No turning back once he walked past those gates. Only a fool would make such a choice and make themselves known to the beast of Garreg Mach.

Guess Claude was a fool.

He stepped through the arch, a shiver running down his spine as he walked through the monastery. Vines were creeping up the cobblestone walls, some of them were turning brown, covered in frost like most of the grass, and shrubs nearby. Claude had come back in the worst time, the dragon was built for desert heat, not forest winter, he was going to be in trouble if Dimitri decided to fight him. A sluggish dragon was a dead dragon.

Claude stepped over a fallen pillar, the dragon walking past the old dorms, his own old dorm. He detoured for a moment and pushed the slightly ajar door open for a moment, a wave of nostalgia flooding through him. The sickly smell of dying fungi and herbs filled his nose but it barely bothered him, the dragonet squeezing through the door, looking around the room. Old papers littered the ground, with sketches and notes, his bed was still unmade, the blankets in tatters, likely from the rats and mice he had seen nearby. His beakers and vials were still on the table, some slightly cracked, from what, he didn’t really know.

Claude remembered working here with Dimitri some nights, Dimitri on his bed, looking through his notes, slowly dozing off to the scribble of claws on paper and the smell of smoke from lit candles. Claude would either be studying or working on some new poison. He would shoot up when he made a breakthrough or whenever something failed miserably. At the end of the night, Dimitri would move his wing for Claude to worm his way beside him, the Sandwing’s natural warmth a comfort to both him and the prince. Those were simpler times, now Claude might find Dimitri again, only to have lost him to insanity. 

He left the room and closed the door, exploring the rest of the monastery for a good chunk of the morning. Nothing had disturbed him yet, save for the one rat that had scrambled out from underneath an old rug and darted between his legs for cover. Claude was getting worried, maybe the thing that had haunted this place had died from old wounds, or finally gotten tired of all the disturbances and left.

No, no he had to be here. There was one place he hadn’t looked yet though, and Claude prayed to something that his Dima was there.

Claude nearly sprinted to where the entrance to it was, no guards stopping him from slowly making his way up to the top. Claude had to stop half way as the rotting smell of flesh filled his nostrils, the Sandwing shaking his head violently as he snorted. Something was definitely here, and judging by how strong the smell got the closer he got to the top, he was sure Dimitri had to be here.

Claude panted as he made it to the top, the Sandwing trying his hardest to not retch, eyes watering as he looked around. Nothing stood out, there were bodies in the corners of the room, either this dragon was very messy or very smart. The potent smell masked the scents of any dragon who would be living here, Dimitri maybe feral but he was smart.

Claude slowly padded out into the center of the tower, looking up at the broken ceiling. Sun filtered into the center, and Claude sighed loudly as he soaked up the sun’s rays on his golden scales.

Then the Sandwing heard the dragging of scales, and Claude whirled around, barbed tail raised. 

If Claude hadn’t pissed before coming here he would’ve pissed himself now. 

Green eyes met an icy blue one as he cowered, a massive dragon, easily two times his size, towering over him, looking down his scarred snout at the intruder. This was Dimitri, it had to be, his scales had dulled into a dark, almost black, abyss blue, but this giant’s left wing bore the marks of Rainwing venom, and his entire body was scarred, showing the signs of war proudly like a general would his medals.

“Leave. Now.”

The Almyran shuddered, but stood his ground, even though he smelled like fear. The dragon before him didn’t seem to like this little display of courage though. “Are you deaf? Leave!” Dimitri bellowed, Claude flinching. 

“... Dimitri.” Claude whispered, shaking himself before standing straighter, the dragon in front of his narrowing his only eye. “It’s me. It’s Claude.”

Dimitri let out a beastily snarl, Claude jumping as he slammed a foot down, baring his teeth. “Lies. Claude is dead.”

“Do you take me for someone who is easy to kill?!” Claude yelped. Oh sweet, merciful Goddess he wished he hadn’t said that, why couldn’t he keep his mouth shut.

Dimitri roared, Claude barely avoiding his lunge and snapping jaws, the two having swapped places, Dimitri now in the sun, giving Claude a better view of the prince. 

He had been right, Dimitri had grown, and he had grown a ton. He wasn’t even standing straight and Claude didn’t reach his shoulders. His horns had curled slightly upward, fading from a dark gray at the base to pure white at the tips, his back spikes doing the same, the crown behind his head raised in anger. Scars littered his body, but two caught Claude’s attention, the one on his chest, x-shaped and badly scarred, and the four claw like ones on his face, covered by an eyepatch he had tied, covering his right eye. He wore a heavy cape, black and white in color, it was tied around his chest by a clip, to any other dragon it would’ve been a hassle, what with flying being a thing and all, but Dimitri couldn’t fly, even if he wanted to.

“Gods, Dima, what happened to you…” Claude whimpered softly, Dimitri growled lowly at the mention of his name. “You look terrible…”

Dimitri stayed crouched, watching Claude intently as the Sandwing shifted uneasily on his feet. “You’re not like the others, you speak and you move like I do.”

“Others? I sure hope you don’t mean the corpses…” Claude shuddered. 

“You’re no ghost.” Dimitri whispered, ignoring Claude. “You must be a spy, an imperial hound, or even worse, an illusion!” The Sandwing yelped as Dimitri shot up, his wings flaring open, the glowing marks on his back glowing mutely. 

“Dima, I’m no ghost.” Claude pleaded. “I’m flesh and bone, ask me something only Claude would know, anything!”

“I don’t need to prove what I know.” Dimitri hissed, baring his fangs, making Claude flinch. “I don’t need proof to snap your neck.”

Claude shot between Dimitri’s legs as he lunged again, narrowly avoiding a bite to his tail. “Dimitri if you’re not going to listen, I’m going to have to take drastic measures to get you to stay still!”

Claude saw the unmistakable glow of Dimitri’s chest, the Almyran leaping away without a second to spare as the prince unleashed a plume of flames, snorting out smoke once he shut his jaws. Claude had scrambled onto one of the support beams on the ceiling, clawing at the sides to maintain his balance. “Dima! Goddess above, listen to me!”

“The Goddess can’t hear you here!” Dimitri roared, rearing on his hind legs and snapping at Claude again, the Sandwing a good bit out of reach, sighing in relief. Dimitri eventually gave up, Claude thankful that Nightwings only had enough energy for one blast of fire every few days, the exertion too draining on their large bodies. 

“Will you listen to me now, Dima?”

“SILENCE!” Dimitri roared, turning around to pace the tower angrily.

“I guess not.” Claude sighed.

 

---

 

Claude had fallen asleep on the beams, the Sandwing waking up with a quiet keen, stretching his wings lazily. He looked down once had blinked the sleep out of his eyes, spotting a dark lump curled up under the opening in the roof. The last of the sun’s rays were bleeding into the tower, making Dimitri’s scales glow a regal gold almost.

He didn’t look asleep, and once Claude shifted in the beams above, he saw Dimitri lift his head slightly to look up at him, eye narrowed, pupil a needle-like slit. Had he been waiting for him to jump down mindlessly, perhaps even roll off the beam in his sleep? Dimitri was persistent, he’d give him that.

“Afternoon, your kingliness.” Claude cooed.

Dimitri snorted, lowering his head to put it over his talons once more. Claude pouted, still not wanting to talk, huh? Alright, fine. Baby steps it was then, Claude had his ways.

“Are you always like this?”


“Keep talking and I’ll eat you.”

“You can’t reach me, Dima. And even if you could, I could fly out of here, unlike you.” Claude hated rubbing salt on an open wound but if it helped, he had to do it. Dimitri snarled, looking back at him, teeth bared.

“You test my patience, Sandwing.”

“Good! Hopefully I get you to leave this tower from hunger! You can’t eat me, there’s no food here-”

Claude yelped, startled as Dimitri heaved himself onto his feet with a rough grunt, padding towards a corner. Claude ears pricked up, watching the prince- no, king - sniff around in the dark curiously, squinting. Claude saw his luminescent scales suddenly light up, and the king snapped his jaws around something, slowly backing up from the corner with something in his mouth, the Sandwing unable to make it out until Dimitri turned around.

Claude nearly threw up there and then, in the king’s mouth was a chunk of another dragon, it looked liked a Mudwing by the looks of it, and it stank, but Dimitri dropped onto the ground, wrapping his talons around it to hold it in place before he dug in, Claude gagging. Thank the Goddess it was a small chunk of meat.

“Goddess, that’s disgusting!” 

“If you won’t provide me with a fresh meal, I’ll simply eat something else.” Dimitri said through a mouthful of meat.

“You’re going to be sick!” Claude protested, wanting desperately to pry it out of Dimitri’s claws and chuck it out of the tower. “You’ll come down with something, or worse, die a slow, painful death! It probably has worms!”

“You’re stupider than you look.” Dimitri hissed, Claude feeling a growl rumble in his chest. “You know of that saliva Nightwings produce, I assume?”

“I sure hope I do and I didn’t avoid your stupid maw for no reason.” Claude grumbled, Dimitri snarling to silence him. 

“It’s disgusting to anything else. Not even flies will get near meat tainted by our saliva or rot.” Dimitri continued, Claude almost felt like he was normal and not some crazy feral piece of shit who threatened to eat him. “Our stomach acids are more potent than that of other dragons, it helps out fire but rasps our throat far too much for us to use it too often. It ends up burning off all our taste buds, fries our nerves.”

“You can’t taste.” Claude concluded, Dimitri grunting in agreement. “Incredible. That’s why you can only use your fire in short bursts, you risk cooking yourself alive.”

Dimitri said nothing before digging back into his meal, Claude standing up on the beam awkwardly and spreading his wings. “I’ll be back, don’t do anything stupid.”

“I already did letting you live.”

Claude huffed before taking off. He’d have to tell Hilda to wait at camp for the others, this was going to take a long time and he had to let her know he wasn’t dead.

Chapter Text

Hilda nearly clawed Claude’s snout off when he came back, tears pricked her eyes before she finally caved and hugged him. Thank Serios that Sandwing scales were always so freaking warm.

“I thought you were you dead you lump of scales.”

Claude smiled warmly as his friend hugged him, the Sandwing nudging her shoulder teasingly once she let go. “Really, Hilda? You have such little faith in me?”

Hilda huffed, but didn’t shy away from his touch, the Rainwing glad to see he was okay and uninjured.  “Was he there?”

Claude nodded, Hilda not being able to contain a quiet gasp. 

“By the Goddess…” 

“No kidding.” Claude walked past her, towards their supplies. “Hilda, do we have any fresh fish or fruit?”

“We should have some. Why?”

“Dima’s eating other dragons. He can’t hunt with his lame wing, and he doesn’t want to leave the Goddess Tower.”

Hilda had only been half paying attention until he said, oh, she didn’t know “Dimitri Alexandre Blaiddyd is eating other motherfucking dragons like one would eat a boar or deer.”

“Excuse me, Dimitri is eating WHAT?!”
“I want to get him some fruit and fish, he might be more willing to trust me if I bring him fresh food.” Claude said, ignoring Hilda’s shocked response. “I’m bringing my paralysis poison with me too, Dimitri is unpredictable and I can’t risk him hurting me while he’s in this state. If I can sting him and actually do something to him when I do it’d be great.”

The Sandwing let out a soft “ah-ha!” as he pulled out a vial with a clear liquid, opening it and dripping some of the poison onto his tail barb. Hilda watched, scales having faded into a pale white, reminiscent of a Icewing.

“You hadn’t brought it last time?!”

“I was fine! I slept on the roof beams.”

Hilda dragged her talons down her face, groaning as Claude leapt into the air with a quick “Bye Hilda!”, and flew back to Garreg Mach, leaving her to greet the students and facility who would soon be arriving. Goddess give her patience until her wife got here.

 

---

 

“Dima! I’m back!” Claude announced, landing on the beam he had been on, getting the attention of Dimitri, who was sunbathing underneath him, now in the Sandwing’s shadow. Claude could count every little star like spot on his wings from here, well, if there weren’t more pressing matters to attend to.

“Go away.”

“Aw, come on, Dima! I brought you food!” Claude reached into the satchel, claws grasping around an apple it seemed and showing it to the Nightwing. Claude smiled as he tilted his head, ears perked. Now that Claude thought of it he probably hadn’t seen an apple since their academy days. “Yeah! See, I’m not so bad, I care about your health, crazy digestive system or not.”

Dimitri got to his feet, crouching before leaping into the air suddenly and catching Claude off guard. With a roar, he brought the beam, and Claude, down to the floor of the Goddess Tower with a crash, Claude letting out a terrified yelp. Before he could unfurl his wings and bolt, Dimitri slammed him into the ground, one talon on his chest and another around his neck.

“You dare poison me?!” Dimitri snarled above him, eye crazed, ears drawn back against his head. Oh Goddess he was mad.

“P-Poison?! N-No, no! They’re not poisoned!” Claude wheezed, his talons weakly clawing at Dimitri’s front legs, his own legs kicking against the king’s gut. Dimitri’s back leg had pinned Claude’s tail in place, the Sandwing unable to prick him, and he didn’t think he’d like the idea of being crushed to death by a two ton dragon.

“Prove it.” Dimitri hissed. “Eat it.”

“But I brought these for you!” Claude weakly protested.

Eat it or I eat you and use your measly bones as a TOOTHPICK!” Dimitri roared, Claude squeaking before he removed himself from on top of, talons slamming against Claude’s tail.

“OW!” Claude wailed. “Dimitri, I’m not going to run away, gods dammit!” 

“EAT!” The Sandwing huffed, pouring out all the contents of his satchel, and letting them plop to the ground, glaring at Dimitri while he did so, the hybrid only giving him a silent snarl as a response. 

Claude picked up a pineapple instead, biting into it like if it were an apple or banana, swallowing and then outstretching his arms, mouth still full of fruit. “See!”

Dimitri snapped his jaws at him as he let go of his tail, making Claude fall over with a startled squeak. He looked over as Dimitri nosed the fruit, finally snapping up an apple and sitting down, head bowed as he ate. Claude sat a little ways away, watching him eat the fresh food before pulling away with a burp. 

“Gross.” Claude grunted, sticking his tongue out. 

Dimitri didn’t respond as he turned towards the stairwell, Claude right behind him before the king swirled around, teeth bared. “Don’t follow me.”

“Why not?!”

“Follow me, and I’ll have your head on a pike, just like the bitch who cast me here, into this damned place of ruin.” Dimitri warned quietly, eye wild and voice dripping with venom. 

“Bitch? You mean Edel-”

Claude was pinned to the floor before he could blink, claws digging into his scales as he let out a cry of alarm, panic setting in. He was back in the field five years ago, a crazy Dimitri over him, about to snap his neck with his talons, or his jaws, about to kill him like had killed those imperial soldiers. 

“DO NOT SPEAK HER NAME! NEVER SPEAK HER NAME.” Dimitri roared as Claude gasped for breath, he felt light headed, his limbs weak, heavy, and it suddenly all rushed back into him like a punch in the gut, Dimitri letting go of him and turning back to leave, Claude curled up on the floor, a talon around his neck. 

Fuck, yeah, that was for sure going to bruise.

 

---

Claude decided to fly back to camp while Dimitri was doing who knows what. He had some poultice he could apply to the bruises he were sure were around his neck. Goddess dammit all, why did Dimitri have to be going through this, why had fate been so cruel, why had it done all of this Claude’s prince.

He flapped his wings down with more force than he meant, being launched into the air current above him, above the clouds of the later morning sky, with a cry of frustration, his talons rubbing at his temples. “Serios be damned, why is this so hard!”

Dimitri had been a bit stubborn when they were students, whenever the students had intramurals or mock battles, Dimitri would pick out the most likely threat from each house and go for them, even if he had a severe disadvantage. Claude will never forget the look on Hubert and Ferdinand’s face that one time Dimitri launched into them with a battle cry and distracted them for the whole fight while the Golden Deer swept the rest of the houses off their feet. Edelgard had been furious. Dimitri a bit embarrassed, and Claude had enjoyed the perfect material for his teasing of the Holy Kingdom’s prince. 

Now, Dimitri was like an immovable object to Claude’s unstoppable force. It was a miracle he didn’t rip Claude to shreds the moment he brought the beam and unsuspecting Claude down to the ground, and that he had had enough restraint when Claude nearly mentioned Edelgard.

He had to be more careful, he realized. Claude wasn’t naive enough to believe Dimitri wasn’t traumatized, he was. He had heard Dimitri had been executed. But no, he was here, in Garreg Mach, haunting it like a ghost might haunt the place it died. What had happened to Dima in the five years since Edelgard’s army invaded Garreg Mach? What had made him snap?

The Almyran sighed, this was making his head hurt, he needed some tea, some food, and maybe a nap that didn’t make him sleep with one eye open. He flew back down beneath the clouds, tilting his wings to bank towards the cliff that led to he and Hilda’s secluded camp. He noticed immediately that Hilda wasn’t perched there, like she had been when he returned earlier that day.

Something was wrong. 

Claude had told her to stay here and wait for anyone who came back from any of the houses, or from the facility, even. He knew the professors were devastated about losing Byleth, he knew they’d be looking for a ray of hope after losing them and Rhea.

Claude landed quietly, ears perked as he stalked forward, body low. He kept his tail up so the scales wouldn’t dragon on the dirt, steps light on the rough terrain.

“Oh Goddess, that’s hilarious!” He heard the familiar boom from Raphael. 

“Ignatz, pass me that crate over there! Yeah, that one, orange galore!” Lysethia beamed, the squeak that has usually spruced her sentences up (and that Claude had teased) gone.

“Can you not descale the fish right in front of me, Lorenz?! Just eat the damn thing!” Leonie snarled, her voice was a bit deeper, and her burst of laughter only left him imagining what Lorenz looked like.

Claude burst through the brush, earning himself many yelps of shock, and an especially loud squeal from Lorenz. Claude felt like his chest would burst like a pinata, he could feel tears brimming in the corners of his eyes. 

“Claude thank goodness you scared me!” Hilda roared from her spot beside Marianne, the pale blue Seawing giggling from beside her wife, their talons laced together. 

“Are you crying?” Ignatz yelped, the pale green Rainwing’s frills turning orange in alarm.

“N-No… Okay, yeah, yeah, I am. Come ‘ere!” Claude wailed, unfurling his wings and outstretching his arms as the Golden Deer crashed into him, all of them squealing as Raphael scooped them all up into his arms. Claude let the frustration from dealing with Dimitri, the pain, the hurt, go. He let a much needed sob rack his body was he was held by the students he had learned to call family.

The Golden Deer had reunited.

The excitement and joy died down slowly, the dragons starting a fire and eating a large meal as they caught up on five years of being apart. Leonie looked a bit sad, her wings tucked tight into her body and her voice heavy with grief. Claude realized she and Ingrid were together, and Ingrid still thought Dimitri was dead. The grief of the supposed heir’s death was more widespread than Claude thought.

Oh shit, wait-

“Dimitri’s alive!” He blurted out, rushing to his feet, his housemates gasping in shock, a chunk of bear falling out of Raphael’s mouth.

“HE WHAT?!” Lysethia squeaked.

“Dimitri! Dammit, I haven’t gone to check up on him! Shit!” Claude rushed to a crate, letting the curses tumble out of his mouth. He plunged his snout in to look for food to stuff into his satchel to bring back lest Dimitri resort to eating more rotten meat, the dragons behind him still in silent shock.
“But everyone said he was dead!” Leonie yelped, breaking the quiet. “Cornelia sent messages throughout all of Fodlan when it was announced they had given into the Empire!”

“Do you take Dimitri for a man whose easy to kill?” Claude hissed, flinching as Leonie dropped her gaze. “Sorry. Sorry, I’m a mess right now.” He rubbed at his temples again, sighing deeply, taking a few deep breaths. 

“Obviously.” Lorenz huffed.
“He’s not himself right now, he’s more like a rabid bear than a dragon.” Claude sighed.

“You’ve been visiting him?” Raphael asked. “Where is he?”

“Garreg Mach. I need to go back, I’m the only whose left there twice now and lived. You should see how many bodies are there, I have to clean all that up.”

“Can we come with you?” Marianne asked softly. 

“NO!” Claude yelped, making everyone jump out of their scales. “No, no, no! Dimitri nearly killed me the first time he saw me, I can’t- I won’t - Let Dimitri lay a talon on any of you.” He looked around at his friends, pleading to every higher power he knew that they would understand.

He let out a sigh he didn’t know he had been holding in as they nodded. 

“Alrighty lover boy, you win.” Leonie laughed. “Go and help the miserable lump of scales.”

“Do try and be… Dignified in your approaches.” Lorenz hissed. “Please.”

“I’m going to get such a good dicking-”

“CLAUDE.” Hilda and Lorenz roared at the same time, Claude laughing as the other Golden Deer held in their giggles. 

“Stay safe!” Marianne wailed as Claude took off, the Sandwing waving good-bye without turning around, diving down into the valley below. 

Claude felt excitement bubble in his gut as he flew back, blood roaring in his ears as he spotted two groups travelling towards the direction he came from, both with only six dragons. The Blue Lions and Black Eagles had arrived.

---

 

Claude hovered over the ceiling entrance, pondering how the hell he would sleep here if his precious beam was now splinters of wood. He finally decided to take a risk, and landed on the ground, a grunt greeting him. 

“Oh, splendid, you’re not dead.” Dimitri grunted out angrily. 

Claude stayed where he was, finally realizing where he was, curled up in a corner, eye glowing in the dark of the tower, an icy blue that sent shivers down his spine. “You’re back! You okay?”

Dimitri snorted, not answered the question as he sniffed the air aggressively. 

“Ah, you smell the food huh?”

“You insist on feeding me fresh food, despite the fact I have food here.” 

“About that.” Claude said, emptying his satchel. “No more decaying dragons. I’m not letting that habit get any worse. That ends tonight.” 

Dimitri growled lowly, eye narrowed. “What makes you think you’ll stop me.”

“I’m staying here.” Claude said, matter-of-factly, Dimitri’s growled deepening. “And I’m going to toss out all the bodies, somehow.”

“No.”

“No to staying here or to dumping of bodies, because I’m sure everything goes here-”

“No to everything.” Dimitri hissed. “I refuse to share my lair with a…” He didn’t know what to finish that sentence with, biting his tongue. 

“Oh, really, calling this a lair?” The Almyran huffed, “It smells of decay! Worse than my old room, have you even been in my room, Dima?”

“You’re not staying!” Dimitri roared.

“You don’t get a say in this!” Claude snapped. “I’m going to help you, even if it takes the next 50 years, I’m going to help you.”

Claude only slightly flinched when Dimitri stood up, shoving his snout into Claude’s. “You will die here if you stay.”

“I’d rather be by your side than anywhere else.” Claude hissed, surprised when he saw Dimitri move back. “I will get my old Dimitri back, even if it’s the last thing I do on this miserable continent.”

Silence filled the tower, before Dimitri turned away, flopping back down, side-eyeing the fruit and fish. Claude huffed before he heaved himself off his haunches, Dimitri following him with his gaze as he gathered some of the splintered wood from earlier.

“What in the hells are you doing?”

“Gathering firewood.” Claude used his left leg to claw a small hole into the cobble, the stone crumbling underneath the pressure. He placed the wood there before he let his chest glow amber, feeling the warmth into his belly turn into a molten hot as he spewed out flames into the hole, a fire starting in the center of the tower, snapping and hissing. 

Dimitri growled lowly, Claude looking over. “I contained it, Dima, it’s fine. It won’t spread.” 

Claude reached for the pineapple he had seen earlier, and placed his talon over the fire, his chest glowing again as he let out a weak stream of fire onto it, he heard Dimitri snort in confusion behind him. 

“What the…”

“Have you never eaten roasted pineapple?” Claude asked, shaking out his arm, brushing off the small embers that had clung to it. 

“Nor do I want to.”

“Oh no! You made me eat earlier today, now I get to, too!” Claude huffed, going over to him, the dragon presenting the king the roasted pineapple. “Try it.”

“No.”

“You can’t even taste anything, try it!”
“No.”

“Dimitri Alexandre Blaiddyd you WILL eat this pineapple or so help me!”

Dimitri curled his lip, snarling out his disapproval. 

“Eat the damn pineapple!”

“Shove it up your ass, Riegan!” Dimitri snarled, swatting it out of Claude’s talons, Claude yelping and catching it before it landed on the ground. 

“Asshole.”

“Is what you are.”

Claude swore he saw the tiniest smile of victory on Dimitri’s face as he watched Claude eat the roasted pineapple angrily, arms crossed, sitting on his haunches. It was a small development, maybe Claude really was seeing things, but judging by how Dimitri didn’t tear his scales off and wear them as a cape when they fought over the meal, he assumed it was a step in the right direction.

 

---

 

Hilda was left in charge of the Golden Deer again, night had fallen by the time everyone had eaten their share and fallen to quiet chatter. The Rainwing heard the faint snap of branches nearby, lifting her head from the spot beside her sleepy wife. The dragoness stood up and growled lowly at the direction at had come from, the fangs at the roof of her mouth slowly unhinging. 

The other Golden Deer tensed behind her, and she heard the drag of scales as they took up defensive positions around her. Marianne cast her a worried glance, twining her tail with Hilda’s as she tensed her shoulders. 

“Speak up or I’m going to make you look a whole lot uglier!” Hilda warned, a quiet snarl building up in her throat. 

“Hilda?”

Hilda recognized that voice.

Oh Goddess, save her.

Everyone relaxed when they saw Ferdinand step out of the forest, the bright copper of his scales glowing in the light of the fire. They heard a grunt beside him as Felix stepped out, the hybrid Seawing-Icewing standing tall, even if short compared to Ferdinand. Behind them, most of the other house members stepped out, Hilda noticing how Dorothea looked behind her, Linhardt yawning beside her. 

“Linny, honey, where’s Caspar?” The Seawing asked.

“Caspar?” Linhardt echoed, sighing softly. The group heard the thundering from the forest, and a long, deep scream. 

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA-”

Linhardt moved closer to Dorothea as Caspar came cannoning out of the woods, running snout first into Raphael, who let out a grunt from the weight that him, the short cyan Seawing now face first in the dirt laughing gleefully. 

“There’s Caspar.”

“Sparring partner!”

“Sparring partner!” Raphael beamed, Caspar getting up and running around him, questions tumbling out of his mouth as the others looked back at Hilda. 

“Is your own house leader late to this?” Felix huffed. “What an example, to be upstaged by you.” She could feel the smugness from here, and she yawned, stretching her arms and legs, dipping down much like a cat or dog would. Time to wipe the smirk she knew he had off that stupid lil’ face.

“He’s with Dimitri.”

Hilda smirked when she saw Felix’s jaw drop, the Blue Lions going quiet.

“His Highness is alive?!” Ingrid gasped. 

“Impossible. The boar died on the execution block.” Felix retorted, but his voice betrayed him, shaking. 

“No, he’s alive. Why do you think Claude isn’t here?”

The Blue Lions looked at each other before Sylvain started laughing, the Skywing-Seawing nearly falling over. Felix and Ingrid both glared at him, Hilda rolling her eyes but knowing what he was about to say.

“Oh Serios, he’s getting dicked down!”

There it was, Hilda snorted as Marianne sighed from beside her.

“SYLVAIN!” Ingrid roared, Sylvain ducking away from a swipe to his snout but yelping as she shoved him down. “Asshole!”

“You know he probably is!” Now Felix swiped at him, stomping on his tail.

“Dimitri is full blown rabid right now, Claude is trying to help him to his senses. He’s staying in Garreg Mach with him until then. No one can go over there.” Hilda repeated what Claude had told them, Felix snorting.

“So he finally snapped.”

“But he’s alive…” Ingrid whispered, Annette beaming as Mercedes sent a silent thank you to the Goddess. 

“Claude will keep coming back, I’m sure of it, the fact he isn’t dead yet is a good sign.”

The groups nodded, Hilda sitting down as Ashe walked towards the front of the group, looking around. “W-Where’s Dedue?”

“Wait, he isn’t with you?” 

Ashe shook his head, the other Blue Lions looking at each other in worry.

“We’ll find him!” Caspar assured Ashe. “Maybe it’s too dangerous for him to get here right now! He wouldn’t have forgotten and he couldn’t have died!”

Ashe whimpered, but he nodded. “R-Right. Right. Dedue isn’t dead.”

“Just a little late!” Caspar said with a toothy grin. 

Ashe giggled, Hilda smiling before she looked over at what was left of the Black Eagles. Of course, since they had defected from Edelgard, their leader wasn’t there, but she noticed the usually not so empty spot beside Ferdinand. 

“No Hubert?” Hilda asked the copper Skywing. 

“He personally saw to running us six out of the Empire.” Dorothea hissed. 

“Told us to never show our faces again else there’d be hell to pay.” Ferdinand finished. The sadness dripped from his words, Hilda felt sorry for the poor Skywing. She knew he and Hubert had been very close.

“Bastard.” Linhardt said bluntly. 

“I nearly lost my tail to him, he will pay for the biting of it.” Petra snapped, the Silkwing snorting out dust. 

“Trust me, Gronder Field is going to be littered in red in three months.” Hilda said with a smile.

“And hopefully Edelgard will be one of them.” Bernie said boldy, Hilda snorting out a plume of fire.

“For sure. This isn’t a battle for territory, or for kingdoms, or glory, or fame, not for any of that!” Hilda spread her wings. “This is a battle for Fodlan’s future.”

“Indeed.” Ferdinand purred.

“It was always for that.” Felix added.

Hilda felt… Powerful. All these dragons agreed with her, they agreed with what Claude thought, with what Dimitri hopefully thought too.

“It’s good to be back, ya know.” Annette chirped. “I missed you all!”

“The feeling is shared, Annette!” Bernie squeaked, her tail curling happily, her scales shifting to the calm lilac purple she loved so much.

The dragons nodded, beginning to mingle and talk with one another before Hilda coughed loughly, getting their attention. The Rainwing got up and swooping her wing towards the fire, “Now, we have a lot of catching up to do. Sit down, we have a ton of food, and plenty of embarrassing stories to tell.”

Chapter Text

It had officially turned into the sixth week Claude had been here, in Garreg Mach with Dimitri, and Claude was making a surprising amount of progress, at least in his opinion. The Sandwing was pleased with himself, he couldn’t be prouder of Dimitri, either, the king was showing progress, he was returning to his old self at last.

Claude had been taking notes of the little changes he saw in Dimitri since he had arrived here, in a tattered notepad that was used more for notes on poison than the recovery of a somewhat insane dragon. The last three weeks had been the most impressive, Claude remembered being more than a little giddy about writing down what had happened. By the start of the second week, Dimitri no longer had any venom in his snappy remarks whenever Claude left and came back, the threats of gutting him alive, or tearing off his scales and horns had ceased as well. The Tuesday of the third week, Claude had nearly burst into tears when Dimitri had muttered a quiet, but sincere “Welcome back.” 

Dimitri had made his most impressive step towards recovery when he no longer sulked into a corner of the Goddess Tower to sleep, when the two finished eating that night, Dimitri had grunted out a slurred, sleepy good night and curled up right there. Yeah, his back was to Claude, but Claude had to stop himself from dancing in joy.

Dimitri trusted him enough to sleep right next to him.

Memories of sleeping together after a rough day of classes flooded back, Claude falling asleep to the happy memories he had so happily reminisced with in the past five years.

Week five wasn’t as exciting, but Claude had come back from a trip back to base camp to find Dimitri waiting for him, a freshly caught boar at his feet. Dimitri had gotten up off his lazy bum and hunted for them. He didn’t hunt for another dragon, or those disgusting rats that crawled in the shadows much like the king had.

“I thought we could share.”

Claude beamed, wings twitching. “Of course, thank you for thinking of me!”

Claude had never tasted a boar so good.

Week 6 is when Dimitri seemed to take a leap of faith. 

Claude had been ready to fly back to base camp after brunch, Dimitri having turned to walk down the stairwell before he heard the king grunt. Claude looked over, Dimitri was looking back at him, eye narrowed, but no anger visible in the icy blue.

“Where are you going?”

“Back to the others.” Claude chirped. He had only told Dimitri that the house students had reunited, and assured him that the Flame Emperor (he avoided saying her name, fearfully that all the progress would’ve been for nothing) wasn’t with them. Dimitri had been on edge afterwards, looking to the skies, or down to the courtyard, as if expecting the students to come to the ruins of the academy looking for the fallen king. However, it didn’t take long for him to relax and forget about the worry all together. There still had to be  apart of him that loved and trusted his fellow students, Blue Lions or not.

Dimitri was silent for a moment before he motioned toward the stairwell with his wing. “Come on, you’re coming with me.”

Claude’s ears perked up, his wings folding back into his body. “W… What?”

“I won’t repeat myself, come on.” Dimitri waited for Claude to cautiously make his way over, the hybrid starting to go down the stairs, claws clicking as they found purchase on the worn out stone. 

This was a first, a very, very important first, if Claude thought. Dimitri had never invited him outside of the Goddess Tower, Claude knew that if he tried to snoop around, Dimitri would scent him and that trust they had built for each other would shatter. The fact Dimitri was letting him join him on what Claude assumed were his daily rounds only made Claude’s abdomen fill up with tons of butterflies. 

The Sandwing followed him all the way down to the courtyard, working up the courage to ask a question. “What are we going to do?”

If Dimitri had heard him, he made no effort to show it. The king brought them towards the large pond in the castle courtyard, the king yawning as he stretched, arching his back down and stretching every one of his claws slowly, tail curling above his back. Claude chuckled, and decided to do the same, shaking out his back legs and unfurling his wings, letting them catch on the late fall sunbeams. 

With a low keen, Claude stood up again, giving himself a little shake as Dimitri rolled his shoulders, his dew claws stretching on his wings as well.

“Feeling less sleepy?” Claude teased.

Dimitri snorted, not in an angry way, just a mildly annoyed one. Seeing as how Dimitri rarely spoke, Claude had learned to tell them apart, the Almyran becoming a master of Dimitri’s unspoken language. 

The two walked out to the dock, Claude looking into the water, if anything had remained pure over the years of war and chaos, it had probably been this. Claude could only assume Dimitri was careful to keep his only source of fresh water clean and free of decaying corpses, even a feral dragon wanted water, more-so a Seawing. 

“Getting a drink-” Claude didn’t get to finish his sentence as Dimitri launched himself into the water, Claude yelping as water splashed all over him, his fins drooping as they soaked it up, covering one of his eyes. “DIMA-”

Claude’s anger melted away as he heard a hoarse, deep laugh fill the chilly autumn air. The Sandwing looked down to see Dimtiri laughing, the king’s head was poking out of the water, wings floating above the water and tail lazily swishing in the water. His eye screwed shut, mouth curved into a smile. Claude couldn’t believe his ears or eyes at first, Dimitri was fucking laughing. A genuine, not maniacal laugh that suddenly made Claude feel hot in his scales, made those damned butterflies come back to invade his chest, and then he was laughing too. Claude doubled over with a snort, collapsing onto the dock with a wheeze, wings flopped over on either side of him, dew claws skimming the water.

They both finally wheezed weakly for air, Claude smiling happily as he curled up on the dock, trying to make his fins stand up straight against his skull again. “You ruined my fins.” He huffed, pouting.

“They’ll dry.” Dimitri grunted. 

“Yeah, in like, a day! I look ridiculous!” 

“You always look ridiculous.”

“Hey!”

Dimitri chuckled, turning away and dipping into the water. Claude brushed his fins out of the way, looking around for one of the rods nearby, hopefully the looters that had used to come here before haven't taken them all. Claude remembered looking over most of the school when he first came here, searching for Dimitri, and sadly noting a lot of valuable art, sculptures, and more were gone, shattered or torn to pieces. He always vaguely wondered if the destroyed art had been Dimitri’s doing, in one of his mad crazes, but never brought it up. That was a conversation for another time. 

Before he could turn around to look in the fishing shack, Dimitri surfaced, dropping something on the docks. He heard the king shake himself, Claude frowning as droplets of water hit his already soaked scales.

Claude turned to see a pile of fish on the docks, Dimitri shoving them away from the edge as they twitched, still gasping from the lack of water. “Whoa!”

Claude hurried over, sinking his claws into them to stop their flopping, Dimitri floating in the water watching much like a crocodile would. “Dima, this is great, it’s fresh fish!”

“It’s almost winter, I know the Alliance isn’t growing crops or fishing anymore.” Dimitri grunted. “I heard you grumbling on and on one night about how the Alliance can’t keep straining its resources with winter coming.”

“You heard me?” Claude whispered, eyes wide.

“You talk very loudly.” Dimitri snorted.

Claude sniffed, ignoring the would be insult, looking down at the fish. “Thank you. For even worrying about me, or the Alliance even.”

“You’ve helped me. I should return the favor.”

Claude smiled, “Are there any more?”

“One big one. Should I get it?”

“Yeah, leave the rest, these fish breed like crazy anyway.” Dimitri nodded, disappearing back into the water as Claude went back towards the fishing shack to look for a basket to put the food in.

The shacks magic torches weren’t lit, Claude snorting out a plume of flame to illuminate the room somewhat. He let out a strangled cry before his breath was suddenly knocked out of him, the Sandwing having spotted the dragon in the shack a second too late. Something large had slammed into him, Claude rolling on the ground as he was shoved back outside, a sharp pain on his shoulder making him wail. “AGH!”

He kicked out his back legs, a grunt from above him and a weight lifting off him letting him know the attacker was off him, Claude stumbling onto his feet, wincing as he tried to put as little weight on that shoulder. 

“Bastard is putting up a fight!” Claude spotted a Mudwing, it’s belly clawed, maw dripping blood from where he had bit Claude’s shoulder.

“Well?! Kill him then!” An Icewing flew down to stand beside the brute, slapping him upside the head. “He’s just one Sandwing! Supposed ghost of Garreg Mach, I could take him with my eyes closed!”

“Oh yeah, then do it boss!” Another Sandwing. Not good.

“Yeah boss!” A scrawny looking Nightwing joined them, bones visible from under its scales.

Bandits.

Fucking great.

“Attacking the Alliance’s leader? You must be missing a few brain cells, huh?” Claude chuckled, curling his tail. Four against one, and there was a Nightwing with them too. One wrong move and Claude could end up with a rotting bite, crushed skull, frozen body or poisoned cut. Not good.

“What did you say?!” 

“That’s the Alliance’s leader?” The Nightwing croaked. “He’s a mutt! Look at his horns!”

“Oh yeah! You’re right! He’s Almyran!” The Mudwing bellowed, Claude stiffening. They spotted his horns? In the name of the Goddess, HOW?!

Wait. Claude grumbled a curse, looking at the Sandwing in front of him, her horns were a pearly white, beige at the tips, his were a pure black, exactly like a Hivewing’s. All of Fodlan knew Hivewings were Almyran.

“Filthy Hivewing mutt!” The Sandwing sneered. “What are you going to do, Hive Mind me? Oh! So scary!”

The four cackled as Claude growled lowly, crouching low, claws digging into the dirt. 

“Oh please, what are you going to do, stab me?” The Icewing hissed.

“I bet you don’t even have any poison!” The Sandwing added, her tail curling upward, stinger protruding from its sheath. “Come at me, oh great and powerful Alliance leader! Show me what a stupid mutt like you’s got!” 

Claude’s ears swiveled forward, he heard the splash from behind them, the four dragons unaware of the noise it seemed. Claude’s eyes narrowed, his face unable to hide its smirk. 

“What are you smiling about?!” The Nightwing snarled.

“Oh, just thinking.” Claude purred slyly. 

“About what.” The Icewing hissed, serrated claws scratching against cobblestone.

“About how you’re about to die!” Claude roared, launching himself at the Icewing as Dimitri cannoned into the Mudwing with a terrifying roar, the bandits screaming as they were ambushed.
“Holy shit, that thing is huge!” The Sandwing screeched.

Claude’s jaws snapped close around the Icewing’s shoulder, the Almyran clawing at his underbelly as he wailed. He felt the rush of cold travelling up his opponent’s chest, Claude kicking himself off him and blasting him with a shot of fire, the Icewing screaming in pain. 

“Can’t ice me if you’re too hot, bastard!” Claude snapped, rushing the dazed dragon and raking his claws down his sides, blue blood staining the ground. He yelped as the pale white dragon bit his tail, Claude snarling and rearing on his front legs, bucking his back ones straight into the dragon’s jaw, hearing a deafening crack and broken scream.

Claude whirled around, noticing the dragon’s bottom jaw was lopsided and a long slash decorated his throat, having effectively severed the jugular artery by how much the poor bastard was bleeding. The Icewing trying to scream but only blood gurgled around it’s mouth. Claude had broken his jaw, the bone jutting out awkwardly from the white scales, staining his entire mouth blue.

Claude knew this dragon wouldn’t be able to blast him with ice breath anymore, let alone attempt to fight him at all, so he scrambled away to help Dimitri, the colossal dragon taking on all three of the other bandits by himself, Goddess forbid Claude have to watch his estranged lover die from a Sandwing’s sting.

The worry was quickly silenced though.

He heard a screech of agony as Dimitri tore himself away from the pile of scales, wings, and talons, a full tail in his mouth, the unmistakable bard of a Sandwing on the end. He spat it out like one would a foul taste, the king snarling, teeth stained red.

“MY TAIL! MY TAIL!” The Sandwing screaming in a panic, the other two looking at her in horror as blood spurted from the wound, the stone beneath her turning red.

“Goddess above!” The Mudwing hissed.

“This is a lost cause!” The Nightwing snapped. 

Before they could take off both of house leaders tackled one of them, Dimitri taking the Mudwing, Claude the Nightwing. Claude avoided a swipe to his eyes, biting the Nightwing’s snout and tugging on it, only a hard shove from the dragon’s wings prying him off, the taste of iron stinging his tongue. 

“Street mutt!” The Nightwing hissed. “All of you Hivewings are rats!”
“Say that to my face!” Claude roared, headbutting the dragon’s chest, both tumbled onto the ground, Claude shoving his face into the ground. He noticed the earring in his ear suddenly, and he saw it, the unmistakable plated rubies and gold, in the shape of two headed eagle.

The Empire insignia. 

Claude’s shock left him open, the Nightwing kicking him off, and beginning to charge a blast of fire, his underbelly glowing a bright orange. The Sandwing kicked off into the air quickly, the blast hitting the dragon’s two companions instead, the Sandwing screeching in agony as she was set ablaze, the Mudwing’s scales only glowing a dull red at the heat hit him.

Claude watched in horror as her screams faded into a quiet whimper and she collapsed, no longer moving as the flames died down, the two looking at the body of their companion in horror. Dimitri took that as a chance to get his jaws around the Mudwing’s neck, the large dragon trying his best to shake the king off before Dimitri flicked his head to the right, the familiar snap of a neck filling the air before the Mudwing fell to the ground as well, Dimitri spitting out blood.

The Nightwing gulped as Dimitri and Claude looked at him, whirling around and ready to get the hell out of there, but the bandit was underneath Claude’s talons before he could even spread his wings.

“Who sent you!?” Claude demanded, holding the squirming body down as snarled. “Answer me, rat! You have an earring with the insignia of the Empire! Tell me who hired you to come here!”

“I’ll never snitch!” The Nightwing hissed, Claude slamming his head down into the stone. 

“You tell me or I let my friend here eat you!” Dimitri snarling his agreement.

The Nightwing hissed, eyes glimmering, as if he were considering the offer, his struggles ceasing. Claude growled lowly, the tension didn’t leave the air, something was wrong. Dimitri tensed behind him, snarling lowly before he roared, shoving Claude out of the way as something zipped past his ear. 

Claude was being held in one of Dimitri’s arms, close to his chest, Dimitri’s wings flaring, stance ready to attack had it not been for the fully grown dragon occupying his arm. Claude saw an arrow, a brilliant glimmering red in color, lodged in the Nightwing’s skull, the dragon’s tongue lolling out of his mouth, blood pooling underneath him.

Claude panted, pulling on Dimitri’s arm but the king only snarled, pulling him closer. What was this big oaf protecting him from-?

“Well, how troublesome, I had hoped to take out two annoying birds with a very effective stone.”

Claude flinched, eyes wide. Dimitri roared, shifting his feet as he followed the king’s gaze to a pillar nearby. Claude felt the color drain from his face, now understanding why Dimitri was protecting him. Anger was replaced by fear.

Sitting atop the pillar, poised like a cat, tail curled around the pillar’s trunk-

-Was Hubert von Vestra.

Chapter Text

“So.” Claude felt a growl build up in his throat as the lean Nightwing spoke, snout up as he looked up at them from the side, amber eye narrowed. How much Claude wanted to leap up there and claw that know it all look off his dumb face. “This is where you’ve been hunkered down, your Highness.”

Claude felt Dimitri put him down, the larger dragon shielding him, his body protecting him. Claude reached for Dimitri’s wrist, squeezing it, reminding Dimitri he was here. The snarl from above died down into a growl, but Dimitri’s stance didn’t change. “What are you doing here, Hubert.”

Not a question, a demand.

Dimitri isn’t playing games.

Hubert took to looking at one of his talons, inspecting each finger, the limb suddenly more interesting than the dragons beneath him. “Lady Edelgard sent me here to investigate. The Empire received reports of a ‘ghost’ haunting Garreg Mach. Once I found it was just Dimitri I hired some imperial soldiers to clean up. I would rather not get my claws dirty if need be, you see. Obviously my money would’ve been better spent elsewhere.”

Hubert huffed as his tail flicked, looking down at the four bodies between him, the Alliance leader, and Holy Kingdom’s lost king. Was that anger? Disappointment? Claude couldn’t pinpoint what he was feeling but whatever it was it looked like it was eating away at him.

Claude glanced back at the magic arrow still lodged into the dead dragon’s head, then back at the Nightwing. That’s right, Goddess dammit all, Hubert was an Animus. Claude’s whole strategy did a 180, trying to figure out how to fight this asshole without dying. Animus dragons could use magic, but their spells had to be verbal, and depending on the size and complication of the spell it would drain on them heavily. Everyone knew the more magic an Animus used the more of their soul they lost. Goddess, could that be it? That emotion? A fear of being a husk of a dragon, a crazed puppet?

Claude shook his head furiously. Not the time Riegan. Figure out how to kill him, not his psychological issues.

Hubert seemed to have caught on to what Claude was thinking though, letting out a snort of annoyance. “Oh please, if I wanted to kill you, you would already be dead.” He said bluntly. “I don’t play games. Well, not here at least.”

Claude tensed as he spread his wings, the pitch black dragon snorting, eyeing him with interest.

“You could join us.” Claude wheezed. “I’m sure Ferdinand would love to have you by his side again.”

Hubert froze, and Claude watched his gaze go far away. Reminiscing on what could’ve been? Claude suddenly felt bad for all the teasing he had made him endure during their academy days.

“Tell Ferdinand I miss him.” He churred thoughtlessly, turning away from them. “Know that Lady Edelgard sends her regards.”

He launched himself into the air, disappearing into the afternoon sky, a speck of black in the horizon. 

Claude let out a breath he hadn’t realized he was holding in, the Sandwing slumping to the ground, lying flat on his stomach, Dimitri sitting on his haunches above him, careful to not squish Claude. Goddess above, he felt like he was having a stroke.

“She knows we’re here.” Claude whispered quietly, his snout in his talons, blue and red blood still stained them, but he could care less. “She’s waiting.”

Dimitri’s chest rumbled, Claude not hearing what he said. “I’m sorry, Dima.”

“What for?” Dimitri snorted.

“Had I not found you, maybe Edelgard wouldn’t have either. I put you in danger. This wouldn’t have happened.”

Claude feels the snarl deep in Dimitri at the mention of the Empress’ name, but Claude could care less, only snapping out of his thoughts when he feels teeth around his horns, pulling him onto his feet forcibly.

“Ow, ow! Dima-?!” 

“No moping. I won’t let you become a sorry lump of scales when there’s work to be done. Come on.”

“What?”

Claude looked up at him, Dimitri snorting out smoke, eyes narrowed. “We have an Empire to destroy.”

Claude’s eyes widened, and he grunted as he was shoved forward, Dimitri limping forward, steps slow and heavy. “Let’s get your wounds tended to.”

Dimitri moved forward, tail dragging on the ground as Claude followed him, wincing as a sharp pain made him stop, panting. He whined as he looked up, and he felt like roots had grabbed his feet and held him there.

Claude was frozen in place, he was awe-struck, his wings flopped lazily on the ground beside him as he looked at Dimitri. He felt like his heart had stopped beating, had it stopped beating? He felt nothing in his chest, not even the usual hammering he felt whenever he looked at Dimitri. Was he dead? Is this what death felt like?

No. 

Dimitri stood straight, tall, no longer hunched,the pain and the hurt no longer like an aura around him, no longer damaged. His head was held high, wings tucked neatly against his body. He was injured, but that did little to hamper the image in front of him. The past and present seemed to intermingle, he remembers a younger Dimitri, just like this, after the Blue Lions had won their first mock battle, before the war, the pain, the fear. 

Before they lost each other.

The Dimitri from then held a light in his eyes, one that made Claude blush, made him feel like a puddle when them and a smile were directed at him. 

Now, that same Dimitri was before him, taller, his shoulders broader, his scars, mental and physical littering his body and his mind. Claude knew it wasn’t so easy to erase the trauma, the memories of what had happened in their five years apart, it would forever be present, even if only a small, whispering voice in Dimitri’s memories. Claude saw the glimmer in the king’s icy blues as they met his emerald green, the smile tugging on his snout, a little strained due to the pain, but like white against darkness. Like the white moon to his golden sun.

Dimitri was back. 

His Dimitri was back.

Dimitri, Dimitri, Dimtiri-

Claude barreled into him, the two falling onto the ground as Claude buried his head into Dimitri’s chest, crying. He let real, hot tears escape him as he held Dimitri close, let his wings drape over them, let their tails twine and let Dimitri’s snout press against his forehead gently. He heard the larger dragon coo lowly, his chest vibrating underneath Claude, Claude not hearing the faint words he said into his ear, soft, warm, it made Claude want to cry all over again. He didn’t want to let go, Serios, please, don’t make him let go.

“Don’t cry.” Dimitri muttered softly, Claude let him find his talons, let Dimitri, Goddess bless him, hold his talons and give them a gentle squeeze. Reassuring, comforting and warm when everything else had seemed hard and cold. 

“You have given me every reason to cry, idiot.” He chuckled, voice shaking, Claude melting into his embrace as he felt his chest rumble. Was he always this warm, had it always felt this natural to be this close to him?

“I’m sorry.” Dimitri whispered, quiet, voice fragile. Claude wanted so much to make that go away, to make him feel strong, to be his rock, his everything, Goddess let them live long enough for that to happen, let him be Dimitri’s everything for the rest of time. “For leaving you alone for so long, for doing what I did. My actions are inexcusable, I can never apologize enough for what I did-”

“I forgive you,” Claude murmured. “Goddess strike me down if I’m lying, I forgive you.” Claude almost sobbed, his grip around Dimitri’s talon tightening, the larger dragon returning the gesture. 

“I missed you so much. I-I missed you…” Claude heaved.

Dimitri nuzzled his face, Claude purring lowly, sniffing as he was comforted. Serios, how he missed being held like this. 

“Come on, we need to tend to you injuries before they get infected.” 

Claude nodded, sniffing as Dimitri helped him onto his feet, letting him lean on him as he lead him back towards the cathedral. He didn’t want to move away from him, he pressed as close as he could without hurting himself or Dimitri.

“Wait, what are we-”

“I keep herbs here, They grow on the ground and the walls throughout the seasons.”

Dimitri nudged Claude to sit down, Claude wincing at his shoulder wound as Dimitri went to find herbs, Claude pulling his satchel towards his chest and taking out some bandages. Dimitri came back moments later, herbs in his mouth as he settled beside Claude.

They sat like that in silence for what felt like hours before Dimitri drew an exhausted Claude in with his wing, pressing him close to his chest. It was dark now, the sky above littered with stars, the moon thin as a claw in the canvas of the night. The Sandwing let out a soft sigh, nestled closer to him, letting Dimitri nudge him into lying down, Claude whimpering before the king settled beside him, stretching his back legs so they wouldn’t be crushed under his body.

“I’m not going anywhere.” Dimitri chuckled softly.

“Mhm…” Claude yawned.

He rested his head on Dimitri’s talons, purring once more as Dimitri rested his head behind his own. The weight behind his head felt amazing, he missed this so much, physical contact, another dragon’s touch.

No…

He missed Dimitri’s touch. His Dimitri’s touch. No one else's.

Claude smiled, closing his eyes, Dimitri letting out a content sigh, shifting a bit but settling quickly, Claude already snoring softly.

It had been a long day.

 

---

 

“Alright guys, here’s Dimitri.”

The students were crowded behind him, Dimitri having promised to wait in the courtyard for Claude to come back. Everyone was in silent shock as they looked up at what had once been a dead dragon to them all, unmoving. Goddess above this was awkward, Claude felt like he had ants in his scarf.

Bless the Goddess for the angel known as Annette.

“Dimitri!” Annette squealed suddenly, Dimitri laughing as the tiny dragoness rushed to him, hugging him, wings trying to wrap around him but barely getting around his haunches. Claude laughed as everyone quickly followed, Dimitri yelping as he was engulfed by dragons either much smaller or bigger than he was. It was a sight that would be burned into Claude’s memories.

And be used for teasing later in their lives, for sure.

“You’re going to suffocate him, Felix!” Ingrid yelped. 

“That’s the plan.”

“We just got him back, don’t go killing him again!” Hilda hissed, whacking Felix.

Claude rolled his eyes, watching Dimitri reunite with his house members, with the other students who had missed him just as much as Claude had at first, it filled his heart, gave him hope.

Let Edelgard come.

They were stronger than she could ever dream of.

Chapter Text

Claude had his talons full, now that everyone was reunited. The awaited reunion date was closing in on them, they had a month and a half to get ready for Edelgard and her army. The Golden Deer, the Blue Lions and the Black Eagles had to be ready to fight for their very lives in a month and a half.

This was going to be a hell of a battle.

Dimitri didn’t have much time to catch up with his former classmates in a normal, more expected way, no, he let his actions speak for him. Felix was caught off guard by the king’s strength, ending up pinned beneath him and snorting out his reluctant approval at his sparring partner having gotten stronger. Sylvain by his quickness, the hybrid Magrave knocked off his fee byt a swipe to his legs he hadn’t been expecting, brushing off the beating he had gotten with a laugh and an eagerness to learn what Dimitri had done to get so light on his talons. And finally Ingrid by his cunning, the Skywing nobel ending the spar with a face full of dirt after the king had burst out of the shadows, gracefully admitting defeat and bombaring her friend with questions on how she could learn to do that.

Claude had to admit, the years alone in Garreg Mach had not dulled Dimitri’s senses, or his skill as a fighter. He had experienced the strength, the speed, the cunning all first talon, it always made him smile when Dimitri caught someone he would train with off guard.

Claude felt a swell of pride whenever he saw it happen, Goddess he was in love.

Claude couldn’t get distracted by his lovely partner though, he had his own housemates to help, besides, he and Dimitri helped the Black Eagles together, what with them not having their leader or her second in command. He wouldn’t miss him for very long most days, anyway.

“Aim higher Lysethia,” Claude barked as he walked by the Icewing, her wings twitching in anger. “We want to be dislocating shoulders, not busting kneecaps!” 

“I’ll bust YOUR kneecaps!” She roared, her crown of spikes rattling in anger as she slammed her talons on the ground, a blast of energy shattering the training dummy a good dozen feet away, one of her crest’s (it looked like Charon to him) glowing on the ground faintly before she looked over at him. He grinned as she snorted an angry mist of frost. “That was you. Those were your kneecaps.”

“Noted.” Claude said with a chuckle, padding off and leaving her to her practice. He froze as Lorenz raced past him with a yell, Marianne blushing like crazy as she raced after him, hissing loudly.

Claude rolled his eyes, knowing Lorenz he probably said something he immediately regreted, and now he was going to get his ass kicked, He chuckled as he reached Hilda, the dragoness looking at her talons as his hips hit against Hilda’s, making her jump and squeak in surprise. The Rainwing glared at him as he started walking away, hissing and whacking the back of his head with her tail, making him yelp. “Asshole!”

“I need you to patrol the perimeter, get some exercise, spread those wings.”

“You’re one to talk! I don’t see you going out to fly!” Hilda huffed.

“My shoulder hurts like hell! Would you like to see what it’s like to be in agony?”

Hilda stuck her tongue out at him, shoving him playfully as she rushed off, tail flicking in irritation. 

“Take Leonie and Lorenz with you!” Claude called after her. “I can’t let Marianne kill the poor bastard just yet!”

“Hmph!”

He shook his head, smiling as he saw her take off into the air to look for the two dragons, the Sandwing looked over to Raphael and Ignatz sparring, the Rainwing on the Mudwing’s back, trying not to get shaken off by the larger dragon as he squealed. Ignatz relied a lot on his acid, so his best friend was helping him learn how to use his small size to his advantage, Ignatz ducking and quickly avoiding what could be dangerous blows could prove life-saving in battle.

“Just like that! Nice, Ignatz!”

“T-Thank you! Now get me off!”

Claude smiled before looking over at where the Blue Lions were, Dimitri was talking quietly with Ashe, the dusty scales of the Sandwing a sharp contrast to Dimitri’s abyss blue. He knew what they were talking about. It still hurt him to think about it.

Ashe had learned from Dimitri that Dedue was dead, having sacrificed himself to save his king from execution. The heartbroken wail that had ripped through the cathedral shortly after reuniting a sharp reminder of the horrors of war. Claude had been lucky that Dimitri was still alive after everything that had happened to him, the Almyran didn’t take that fact for granted after everything he’s seen and experienced.

Ashe had not.

Ashe wasn’t eating, he wasn’t sleeping, Claude was sure he hadn’t even tried to groom himself since finding out the news. He looked like he was ready to fall over and give up. Dimitri had heard of it somehow, or put two and two together and confronted him about it. If anyone knew grief, it was Dimitri. The Almyran was sure that the king didn’t want Ashe to suffer just like he had.

Claude saw the king give Ashe a reassuring nudge, Ashe sniffing, wings pressed close to him as Dimitri hugged him, the Sandwing returning the gesture before he went back to training, Annette scurrying over to get him to help her train her magic.

“Is he doing okay?” Claude asked, sitting down next to Dimitri. 

“He’s grieving, they were very close.” Dimitri grunted, “I have no doubts that he will grieve until the end of his days.”

Claude frowned, “We’ll do our best to make this easier for him.”

Dimitri nodded, “You up for a spar?” Claude asked, ears perked.

“Challenging me?” Dimitri grunted, brow raised.

“You say that as if you think I’ll lose!” Claude said with a grin.

“Your Highness!” 

The two dragons looked over, Ingrid racing over, Felix behind her. The Skywing’s eyes wide, Felix panting behind her. 

“What is it? What’s wrong?” 

Ingrid just nodded towards the gardens, and raced back, as if knowing Claude and Dimitri would follow her, and they did. The two leaders skidded to a halt in the gardens, Ingrid and Felix taking up positions behind their lord.

In the gardens were a large group of dragons, it had to be at least eight, and Goddess dammit why did one of them have to be her . Claude was slowly backing away before he flinched, the dragoness spotting him and beaming.

“BOY!” The Hivewing exclaimed, letting out a loud laugh as she rushed over, grabbing Claude and pulling him into a chokehold, letting out wheezy churs as he struggled in her arms. 

“Judith! Lemme go, we’re in public!”

“Oh no, you’re not getting out of this one so easily. You good for nothing son of a landwyrm! I’ve been looking up and down for you!” She snapped, “Why couldn’t Sothis bless me with a more obedient godson.”

“Judith!” He whined, finally scrambling away from her hold, shaking himself. “I told you where I was going! Hells, all of the Alliance should’ve known!”

“Oh, they knew! And so did the whole of Almyra!” She hissed. “News spread faster than the dark in Fodlan’s Throat! The Kingdom’s in shambles, and YOU haven’t been there to come clean it up, mister!” 

Claude ran his talons down his face, groaning. “I said I’d be back once the Empire was overthrown.”

“You don’t have time to go have a tea party with Ms. Burn Your Face Off!” Judith roared, a buzz filling the air, the Hivewing in him screaming its protest. “Boy, your father is DYING, you need to formally ascend the throne before someone decides to do it for you!”

“Ascend the throne?” Dimitri echoed, dumbfounded. “Claude, what is she talking about?”

“Whose this?” Judith snorted, eyes narrowed. 

“Dimitri. Please don’t impale him, PLEASE.” Claude pleaded, Ingrid and Felix snarling behind the king. “Can I breathe for TWO MINUTES and put everything together?”

Judith huffed, the Hivewing finally giving him space, the other dragons having come together. Claude finally recognizing a good deal of them, stood a little straighter, clearing his throat. “Um… Welcome home?”

Cyril, the scrappy half Skywing, half Hivewing, an ‘Almyran mutt’ like Claude stepped forward. He had grown a considerable amount, and compared to Claude he showed more Hivewing than he did, the stripes like those of a hornet’s running down his body, a nub of a horn resting between his eyes and horns that curved upward instead of down. “What… Happened here?”

“I would like to ask the same thing.” Seteth stepped forward, Flayn right behind him, the green-black Nightwings an odd sight against the others. Well, odder than usual what with Seteth being huge, even bigger than Dimitri. “This place is in ruins.”

“Thank the boar.” Felix huffed.

“Did five years really tear this place apart?” Flayn whispered, wings drooped, green eyes scanning the monastery behind Claude. “Time had truly been cruel.”

Claude swallowed what felt like a rock, shuffling awkwardly on his feet. “It could really be worse.”

“If you ask me this place looks just as bad as it did when we worked here.” Manuela. The Icewing’s voice like crystals in a cavern as she looked around in disgust. Claude was happy to see that despite the war she looked as pristine as she had when he was a student. The medic must’ve been really lucky or really lazy to not have been scarred by the war. “I hope the wine cellar is still intact.” The dragoness yelped as Hanneman whacked her with his tail, the two beginning to bicker, headbutting each other as Seteth simply moved Flayn away from the two and covered her ears with his talons, Cyril awkwardly shuffling away.

Felix and Ingrid both glared at Dimitri at the mention of the wine cellar, Dimitri looking away in embarrassment. Images of shattered bottles and talon prints stained by wine filled Claude’s mind. Dimitri had either been very angry, very drunk or a bit of both to have left the wine cellar like that .

“About that.” Claude chuckled. 

Claude turned to look at the last two, one was a heavy built Sandwing, literally what every young Sandwing wished they could look like. He wore armour, an oddity for those who weren’t knights, like Ingrid or Ashe. Claude was stumpted, he had no fucking clue who this dragon was or why he was-

“Gilbert!” Dimitri yelped, rushing past Claude and going up to him, the Sandwing chuckling as his king gave him a rough headbutt against the shoulder.

“It is good to see you are well again, milord.” The Sandwing rumbled, Dimitri smiling. 

Whomst??? ” Claude whimpered out, Dimitri laughing as Claude grumbled, rubbing at his temples. He was lucky he was so fucking cute when he laughed.

“Claude, this is Gilbert, Annette’s father. He’s been in the service of the Blaiddyd family since my father was my age.” Dimitri cooed, the Sandwing beside him bowing. 

“A pleasure to meet you, your Highness.”

“Oh, you don’t have to call me that-”

“Yes he does, you’re a king-to-be-” Judith started.

“Will you let me finish?! Goddess above.” Claude sighed. “As I was saying, you don’t have to call me that, not yet, anyways.”

“Understood.”

Only one dragon remained, an Icewing, his wings were an oddity, a deep inigo at the tips that faded back into white near his dew claws. Now that Claude thought about it, if he squinted he kind of looked like-

“Felix!” The dragon churred, “My son!”

“Father.” Felix spat, venom dripping from his voice. His father seemed unphased at least. 

Dear Serios, Claude needed some tea and a nap.

“We should take this inside.” Cyril piped up, “It’s about to rain.”

“How do you know?” Hanneman asked, brow furrowed. 

BOOM

Claude let out a roar of frustration as it started pouring , the Almyran storming into the Cathedral, every other dragon outside doing the same (even if Claude didn’t fail to notice that Dimitri and Hanneman lingered in the rain for a bit).

---

 

The students and facility (as well as parents) had started a fire, the Seawings of the group having gone out to hunt in the rain since unlike Claude, who very much hated water and didn’t want to be anywhere near it if he could help, they thrived in the wet and the mud and the EW.

Dimitri had settled beside him once he had dried off, Claude resting his head on Dimitri’s shoulder, sighing heavily. 

“Poison barbs?”

“No.”

“Oh, oh, that awful stench then, I hate that stuff!”

“N-No?”

“AGH.” Judith shoved another angry mouthful of bear into her maw, bone snapping under her teeth as Cyril chuckled nervously. She had spent the last hour or so asking every hybrid in the room if they had powers. Animus powers, breed powers, it was driving Claude up the wall and he wanted to stuff cotton in his ears after so long. “Hybrids. It’s all or nothing with you lot.”

“Sorry my lovely sperm donor of a father didn’t pass down any of the good stuff.” Claude huffed, Dimitri choking on the meat he was eating and whacking Claude’s head. “OW-”

“Oh, you do have something.” His godmother said, voice muffled from the food in her mouth. “You got that Hive Mind whatchama-call it.”

“The Hive oh what now.”

“What books have you been reading boy?!”

“Obviously not the right ones? I’ve never heard of the Hive Mind!”

“All Almyran royalty has it! It’s like the Vestra’s holy, sacred Animus genes! Every dragonet of the royal bloodline is born with it!” Judith spat. “You could control of Almyra with a snap of your talons!”

“I don’t think that’d be very pleasant.” Claude admitted, grimacing.

“It’s only used in emergencies, usually to pass important information to the whole of the country in comparison to sending out a message on paper.” Judith swallowed. “Your father only used it twice while he was king, both times fairly recently too.”

“He did?”

“Once to announce the war in Fodlan, another to reveal you as his son and that he was dying.”

“How come I never got that message?”

“I don’t know! I thought you had!” Judith roared. 

Claude sighed again, “Goddess, this feels unreal. Too much is going on.”

“You could say that again.” Manuela snarled, rubbing at the bump on the back of her neck beside Hanneman, the Seawing beside her flashing his luminescent scales in what Claude assumed was Aquatic for every swear word known to dragon kind.

“If my reports are correct, the Empire is already marching.” Seteth said, Flayn having fallen asleep against him, wings draped over her small body, one of Seteth’s over her. “A large number of Skywings, Icewings and Silkwings are marching here.”

Petra growled from where she was, Claude doing the same. Silkwings were from Brigid, Edelgard dared to drag them into this, a fight that wasn’t theirs. The Empress must either be very stupid or very desperate for troops, because Claude knew Petra would convince the Silkwings to fight for them the moment she announced it on the battlefield. 

“Gronder Field is going to be a bloodbath.” Ferdinand whispered, curling up tighter, his tail flicking. “Edelgard has everyone who opposes her in one place, we’ve played right into her talons.”

“She isn’t going to win.” Hilda snorted. “She’s going to meet a slow, painful death, be it from my claws or my fangs, or my acid! I’d pay money to spit on her and watch her melt!” 

“Gross.”

“Be as hopeful and optimistic as you want.” Judith hissed. “You aren’t going to win this fight just by willing it so. The powers of friendship and harmony and peace are bullshit. This is war and you aren’t going to win it unless you’re ready to get your claws dirty.”

The Hivewing torn into another scrap of meat. “Tell me boy, do you have backup or are you planning on taking Edelbitch and her whole army with just 30 or so dragons?”

“The Alliance is already moving here, oh great and wise godmother.” Claude assured her. “We’re at least 300 strong. Sandwings, Mudwings, every kind of dragon wants Edelgard out of power, one way or another.”

“The Kingdom has been nursing a rebellion for years, thinking their king was dead only fueled their fire.” Gilbert huffed. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they came here at the news of Edelgard being present alone.”

“We made sure to bring at least 600 dragons into this. The Kingdom will not be crushed by iron claws so easily.” Felix hissed, claws flexing. “Gautier actually put his skills to use for once. Every Nightwing, Seawing, and Mudwing whose tired of Edelgard is on their way here to beat the shit out of the Empire.”

“You flatter me.” Sylvain laughed. “I only sweet-talked a few politicians into joining us and our little campaign.”

Claude smiled, 900 dragons? That was pretty impressive, he couldn’t wait to see the look on Edelgard’s face, knowing that she had underestimated them. If anyone was playing into someone’s claws, it was Edelgard into theirs.

“I hope you are right about this.” Seteth sighed, tense. “But know that we stand by you.”

“We all do.” Gilbert added.

“Thank you.” Dimitri rumbled from beside Claude. “All of you.”

They nodded, all the students letting out snorts of approval.

Gronder Field would be the beginning of the end.

---

 

The field was immense, the brown grass underneath Claude’s claws was being torn up and out of the dirt as he flexed his claws. Dimitri stood tense beside him, every exhale leaving behind a cloud of mist as he breathed.

In the distance, in the hills, was a sea of red, white, and specks of colors Claude didn’t even know existed. The strategy for this kept playing over and over again in his head, trying to distract himself from the impending sense of doom he felt hanging over every dragon’s head.

One: Silkwings weren’t to die here, Petra had made it very clear that Silkwings were to be forced out of the chaos if they attacked. Claude knew that if he had to fight Hivewing’s he wouldn’t want their blood staining his claws either.

Two: Edelgard was to be taken down as quickly as possible if negotiations didn't work. She was the reason they were here, once her body fell to the ground this would be over. Claude could take care of things in Almyra without worrying she could come find him and kill him in his sleep.

Three: Don’t die. Claude had made Dimitri promise he wouldn’t do anything stupid. Made him swear on his dead parents, friends, citizens, ancestors that he wouldn’t die. He had looked him in the eye and promised.

He only hoped he kept it.

Claude bit back the growl he felt in his throat as he saw her, the bane of every sane dragon’s existence. 

Edelgard.

The dragoness was the image of royalty, she made Claude and Dimitri look like commoners in her presence. Her white scales were sharply contrasted by the red she wore, the cloth on her shoulders, the chest piece, the intricate crown like piece that adorned her head, its horns curved upward. Claude saw the faint stains of blood on them. Edelgard would not be easy to kill, she made a point of showing that to them now.

Hubert flew down to stand behind his charge, the Nightwing casting them a knowing glance as the white dragoness huffed, the rubies under her eyes glimmering in the morning sun. Felix, Sylvain and Ingrid stood behind Dimitri, all wearing their armour, Lorenz and Hilda behind Claude. He could practically feel the anger radiating off the small Rainwing behind him as she glared Edelgard down.

“Claude. Dimitri.” She said simply. “It’s good to see you again, a shame it’s under these circumstances.”

The two lords stayed quiet, the Skywing glaring at them through narrowed eyes.

“Do you have nothing to say?” She asked. 

“Only that this has to be the damn worst class reunion in history.” Claude laughed darkly. “I wish I didn’t have to get my claws dirty, much less with your blood, El, but a lot of good dragons died waiting for this moment. I’m about to make sure their sacrifice wasn’t in vain.”

Edelgard looked at him silently, before looking up at Dimitri, the king glaring at her with his one good eye. “Do you feel the same, Dimitri?”

Exactly the same.” Dimitri hissed, Edelgard nodding, looking down at the ground for a moment. 

“I will do what is needed to take down this damned Crest system. If you two must die for that to happen, so be it. I promise to make sure your deaths are quick and painless.”

She unfurled her wings, raising them so that her dew claws seemed to reach for the sun before she beat them down, taking off into the sky, her lacky following as the sea of dragons charged forward with a loud roar. 

“CHARGE!” Dimitri roared beside him, Claude roaring as he and his mate rushed forward, the dragons behind them yelling a mix of “For the Kingdom, “For the Alliance” and even a few screeching “For Fodlan”. 

Claude locked talons with a Skywing, his barbed tail having been dipped in a deadly mix of poisons just for this battle, the Almyran stabbing the Skywing in the chest before shoving the convulsing body away and racing forward, glancing up at the sky for the white Empress. 

Beside him Dimitri was slamming dragons into the ground and trampling them, pressing forward as dragons began to clash from all sides, on the ground and in the air. Lorenz and Hilda left his side to tackle down a pair of Icewings that had gotten to close to Claude, the screams of agony letting the Sandwing king-to-be that he was safe. Dimitri’s childhood friends had scattered, Felix blasting a group of dragons with his frost breath, Sylvain scorching everything in his path as Ingrid tore at the wings of her foes. 

No sign of Edelgard yet.

Gods dammit, where had she scurried off to?!

Claude slashed at the snout of a Sandwing that had decided lunging at him was a good idea, biting his shoulder and only letting go once he yowled and scurried off. In the distance he saw Seteth throwing a dragon into the air only to bring his massive talons down on the poor thing. Manuela was making use of her lithe body to dizzy the Mudwing she was fighting before blasting her with her frost and rushing off to take down more imperial soldiers.

Claude saw the Golden Deer were scattered but doing great, he heard Hilda chanting her own name as she sprayed venom onto a group of Skywings, laughing as they screamed. The Blue Lions were holding their own as well, Ashe screeched in anger as he tackled down an Icewing and claws relentlessly at her, only launching off her when she went limp beneath him. Claude knew that one was for Dedue. The Black Eagles, although small in numbers were doing amazing, Ferdinand yelling out commands with an assurance he hadn’t had a month and a half ago, even getting his own claws dirty as he fought for the future he believed in. 

“Von Riegan!” He heard someone roar, the Sandwing barely had time to register where it had come from as something barreled into him from above, the Almyran yelping as he rolled on the ground, suddenly pinned down by Edelgard, her eyes wild, wings flared. 

“Your highness, fancy seeing you here!” He quipped, narrowly avoiding a snap of her jaws aimed for his neck. He bucked her off, the Empress thrown into the mud, rain beginning to fall, just as Cyril had predicted earlier that morning as they waited for the Empire. Rain meant no fire. No fire for either of them.

“You will not get in my way!” She hissed, lunging at him, their talons locking as they reared on their hind legs, Claude snorting as he headbutted her chest, forcing her down, exposing her belly. 

“That’s my line!” He snapped, tail striking and barely missing her, the Skywing rolling to the side. 

“My future is the best for Fodlan, my vision has the best in mind for every dragon.” She wailed. “The Crests are to blame for this, you must understand!”

“Oh, I know Crests are to blame, El.” Claude snarled. “But I don’t like how you’re ‘fixing’ it all. Killing dragons? Conquering the continent? You’re insane!” 

“If wanting the best for all dragons is insane, then I am a maniac.” She whispered, Claude tensed as she launched herself at him, but a blur of black crashed into her side, catching her in its jaws. 

“Dima!” Claude beamed. “You’re late!”

Dimitri yelled out something muffled as he landed, Edelgard struggling in his jaws as he threw her aside, the Empress crashing into Hubert, the Nightwing scrambling out from underneath her and rejoining the fray. 

“I’m not late!” He heaved. 

“Say that to my shoulder, bastard!”

“Can’t this wait?!” 

Edelgard struggled to her feet, racing away, Dimitri and Claude bounding after her, the Empress and the lords in the middle of the battle, dragons fighting around them, but the noises of battle drowned out as Claude focused on the white Skywing. 

“It’s over, Edelgard.” Dimitri snarled. “It ends here.”

“I refuse to die.” She hissed, tail lashing. Rain made her scales glisten, her eyes glowing now as the sun hid behind the clouds. “I refuse .” She spat.

The lords cast glances at each other, Edelgard growling, hackles raised. “You will be the ones whose bodies lie here!” She was about to run forward, but suddenly a roar above made them freeze.

Something landed between them, Claude saw the faint flash of light green scales, and as Claude blinked away the water he saw a dragon he didn’t think he’d ever seen again. All three lords tensed suddenly.

It couldn’t be.

Three different expressions were etched into their faces.

Three different emotions.

Shock.

Relief.

Joy. 

A simultaneous yell of the same word.

“Professor!” 

Byleth stood in front of them, the dragoness looking over her shoulder slightly to look at Claude and Dimitri with a slight nod before she whipped around to look at Edelgard. 

“Stand down.” Were the first words he heard from her after five years. Claude would be lying if he said it hadn’t sent shivers up his spine.

Edelgard looked like she was in shock, her beloved professor was in front of her, but on the wrong side, fighting against her not with her. The Skywing took a moment to blink before she snarled and sprinted away, Claude and Dimitri growling and rushing after her once more, hot on her hee;s before they heard her bellow.

“RETREAT!” She screeched, Claude saw hundreds of Skywings and Icewings freeze midfight and begin to run or take to the sky, their foes chasing after them to make sure they left for good. Best leave them with something to remember them by while they ran like the rats they were.

“Gods dammit why is she so fast!?” Claude hissed, Edelgard a few paces ahead of them, but the two had more stamina, they were catching up, she was almost within their talons, they could end this right here. 

And then Edelgard had to be a little bitch.

She tackled Hubert into the ground, the Nightwing having been in her way as she ran, tearing one of his wings as he screeched. The Empress shoved him into the ground and used him as cover as she kept running, launching into the air and flying away, leaving Hubert behind as masses of imperial soldiers retreated over the hills and out of sight.

Claude and Dimitri slowed to a stop, panting as Hubert withered in agony, his torn wing stretched out behind him, the Nightwing glaring up at the two lords as they reached him. 

“We chased the last few stragglers off, Claude!” Hilda chirped, landing beside him. Her scales were stained in blood, but none of it seemed to be hers. Classic Hilda, leaving chaos in her wake, and giving every foe she fought that had managed to run and live to see another day nightmares about the streak of pink that had beat their asses to a pulp.

“Put anyone who's still alive out of their misery.” He ordered her. “It’s the least they deserve. Tell everyone to help you.”

“Got it.” She nodded and rushed off. Claude turning his attention back to the Nightwing at his feet. 

“Kill me.” Hubert growled. “It’s the least I deserve after what I’ve done.”

“It doesn’t have to be like this-”

“KILL ME!” He roared, wincing as pain shot through his wing, Claude growling lowly.

“Claude.” Dimitri said gently.

“Yeah, I know, I know.” Claude sighed. “Alright, we’ll-”

“NO!”

Claude yelped as he and Dimitri were shoved aside, Ferdinand suddenly standing above Hubert, his wings spread, shielding the injured ex-Black Eagle.

“You can’t kill him. I won’t let you.” Ferdinand whispered, pupils needle like. His copper scales were drenched, he looked like he had been dragged through hell and back. “You have to kill me before you can kill him.”

“Ferdinand-” Hubert started.

“SHUT UP!” Ferdinand burst out, Hubert flinching. “You didn’t listen to me as students, you didn’t listen to me when El attacked Garreg Mach, you didn’t listen to me in the forest- For once in your GODDAMN life will you LISTEN TO ME?!” 

Claude’s jaw dropped as he and Dimitri watched in shock, Ferdinand a shaking mess in front of him as he squeezed the bridge of his snout with a bloodstained talon. He was crying. Ferdinand von Aeiger was crying in front of them. 

“Please…” He wheezed, voice shaking. “J-Just. Just listen. Let me protect you .”

Claude knew better than to fight with a mated pair. And he let his wings flop in defeat, a sigh escaping him. 

“Alright, enough.” Ferdinand tensed, claws digging into the ground. “Help him back to camp, let Marianne and Mercedes look at his injuries. He stays. It’s clear Edelgard doesn’t care enough about him if she just left him for dead like this.”

Claude glared at Ferdinand. “He’s your responsibility now.” Claude huffed. “If he does anything, even thinks about doing anything that would do us, or anyone else in this army harm, it’s going to be on both you. And there will be consequences.” 

Ferdinand looked at him as if expecting him to take it back in a split second, but he nodded slowly, turning to nudge Hubert to his feet, letting his mate lean on him as they limped off, the lord watching them leave as Byleth landed beside them. The hybrid coughed out a plume of fire, not looking at them as she scanned the battlefield. Bodies from both sides littered Gronder Field. Claude, Dimitri and Edelgard had all suffered a large amount of casualties, only for Edelgard to run away like a coward.

Claude sighed, there’d be time to settle this in the future. He was sure. Next time he wouldn’t leave Edelgard’s fate to chance.

“Welcome back, Teach.” Claude chuckled, rolling his shoulders and looking over at the mercenary, her expression blank as she cast a quick glance at him. “We missed you.”

“As did I. It seems I’ve missed a lot, correct?” Byleth churred. “I don’t remember Dimitri missing half a wing.”

“Correct.” Dimitri affirmed. “And it was Hilda.”

“Oh?”
“Boy, do we got a story for you. Walk with us.” Claude purred.

Chapter Text

Claude limped through the bloodstained grass as he analyzed the aftermath of the battle. Bodies from Alliance and Kingdom soldiers were being taken off the field, members of the Empire being buried where they laid. Hilda had reported 100 dragons at first, the number had tripled by the time Claude had finished his own report. Their numbers had taken a huge hit, a third of their army lost to the Empire, but from the number of graves he had stepped over, it seemed the empire had lost double what they had.

Edelgard’s army was, or would be, in ruins.

Claude finally took into the air with a wince, flying the short distance back to the army’s camp, landing near the forest. A roar of pain made his ears perk, before they settled down to a low hiss of annoyance. 

“Oh, will you sit still? Marianne can’t help if you keep squirming like this.”

Another roar, and then Claude heard a thwack, the Sandwing chuckling. 

“Why you-”

“Shut up. Sit still. Else I’ll hit your head a little harder next time.”

He sauntered away from the tent the three dragons were likely in, he was going to fish around one of the rations crates when Leonie stopped him, her unusually warm scales pressing against him as she shoved him away. He let out a whine of protest, but she just shook her head. 

“Oh no, you’re getting your wounds checked up on, Claude. I’ll bring you food after I visit ‘Grid.”

“I’m fine!”

“You’re as stubborn as an ass, have you seen yourself?” She quirked an eyebrow at his pout. “Go on, I promise I’ll get you some vipers to eat if you go now.”

Claude couldn’t say no to vipers.

He sighed in defeat, grinning as she rolled her eyes, the Almyran heading to the medic tent, pushing the flap aside with his wing as he looked for a spot to lie down.

The tent was full, Manuela barking orders to the medics they had, students included, as they scurried to treat soldiers. He spotted Hubert, Ferdinand and Marianne in the far corner, Claude’s Seawing companion seeming to try and repair the tear in Hubert’s right wing as Ferdinand looked on in worry. Leonie had pushed past him and hurried over to Ingrid, her mate having her wounds bandaged as her Skywing partner sat down beside her, the two cooing happily. Linhardt was stitching a slash on Caspar’s shoulder shut, the small Seawing clearly having a hard time containing his tears of pain.

“Claude!” 

Claude looked over, smiling when he saw Dimitri, Felix and Sylvain beside him, one of Sylvain’s wings in a sling and one of Felix’s legs in splint. 

“Goddess, who had their way with you two?” Claude snorted in amusement, Felix baring his fangs in a silent snarl, face flushed blue as Sylvain laughed.

“Felix thought fighting a Mudwing was a good idea.” Sylvain heaved.

“It was. He died didn’t he?”

“Yeah, once I got there! That guy could’ve used you as a toothpick!” Sylvain snorted.

“Yet he didn’t.”

“Only ‘cause I let him break my wing instead of your back!”

“I was fine!”

“You broke your leg!”

Dimitri rolled his eye as the two bickered between him, not even minding that their king was in their presence, Claude pressing his and Dimitri’s snouts together. 

“I kept my promise.” He chimed, smiling, Claude huffing.

“Barely. Thank you for saving my ass back there.”

“Anything for you. You’re fine, right?”

“My shoulder doesn’t feel fine. I’m waiting for Marianne to finish with Hubert so she can give me my diagnosis.” He chuckled. “What about you?”

“A Rainwing might’ve broken my tail.” He sputtered, Claude bursting into laughter, Dimitri roaring his quiet protest, shoving his good shoulder. “Don’t laugh! That thing had serious jaw strength!”

“Obviously if he broke your tail!” Claude wheezed.

“It hurt like hell!”

“I can imagine!” Claude snorted, Dimitri groaning in embarrassment, hiding his face with his wings. 

“Claude!” Marianne squealed in warning, Claude wasn’t fast enough as Judith shoved her horns against his, their faces smushed together, the Hivewing snarling. 

“You’re an idiot!” Judith roared. “You could've died out there! More so when you decided to fight that stupid Edelgard!”

“Everyone took a risk going out there, it isn’t my fault that Edelgard decided to track me down and fight me when Dimitri was right there!”

“Edelbitch knows when a fight is unwinnable, Dimitri is three times her size and just as fast as her, that much he proved.” Judith gave the king’s head a pat of approval before unlocking their horns, poking Claude in the chest with a talon. “Playtime is over. We’re going to Almyra as soon as your company has healed.”

“We’re fighting a war!” Claude roared, wings flaring, every dragon in the tent now looking at them. “There will be time to deal with Almyra once Edelgard is dead, Judith.”

“No! No there won’t!” Judith roared, Claude snarling. “Your father is dead boy. The Almyran Court has given any possible heirs 7 days to show up, else his crown will pass to his closest advisor, and those dragons have had it out for you since they learned you existed. You either inherit the throne like your dead father wanted you to or I’m dragging you to his grave myself so you can apologize to his corpse and tell him why you decided this fight was more important than HIS.” 

Claude froze, gasps erupting from every corner of the tent. 

His father…

His father was dead…?

“Do you see how urgent this is now, boy?” Judith hissed. 

Claude couldn’t find his words, only nodding slightly. 

“Good.” Judith huffed, “Get yourself looked at while I prepare.”

Judith pushed her way out of the tent, whispers filling the air once the Hivewing was gone. All eyes were on him, he could feel every individual pair trained on him as he looked down at his talons, tail curled.

“Claude is a prince?”

“He’s Almyran?”

“What you never knew? It’s obvious enough.”

“No wonder the Alliance is the way it is.”

“Takes a mutt to rule mutts.”

He heard Dimitri snarl at where the voice had come from, but it was faint, it felt like he was underwater, everything blurred together, every sound was faint, every voice muffled. It took him a moment to notice he was shaking, he was unsteady on his talons and he felt the tips of a wing brush against him, making him jump.

Claude shied away from Dimitri’s touch, he felt like he was choking, the Almyran needed air, he needed to breath, he needed to get out of here.

Dimitri cried out his name as Claude rushed out of the tent, Mercedes squeaking out her protest as he raced past her, probably spotting his injuries, which he was  sure were still bleeding. He rushed into his tent, Judith snapping at him as he rushed past her, quickling closing her mouth when she saw what he knew were tears in his eyes.

Dammit it all, dammit it all, dammit it all, DAMMIT IT ALL.

He barreled into his tent, the moment the flaps were closed he collapsed on the deer pelt rug, a sob racking through his body as he wailed into the dark of his tent, the scream long and only stopping when he had to gasp for breath. Tears dripped down onto the ground, onto the talons covering his eyes, stupid tears he had held back for so long, tears that he never shed even when alone, even when with Dimitri, even when it was the only thing tht felt right,

He had no right to be crying. He had never met this man, this man was not his father, he did not raise him, no one had, he had been a rat in the streets before Judith found him and took him into the Alliance. His grandfather on his mother’s side had been more of a father than any Almyran king had ever been.

Yet- it all hurt so much, it hurt, it hurt it hurt

And he was crying all over again, another wail ripping through him.

The cries only stopped when he passed out from exhaustion. 

 

---

 

Once his tail had been snapped back into place, healed and bandaged Dimitri had rushed towards Claude’s tent, the king perking his ears up to listen inside for any sign of his mate, anxiety pricking at his belly. 

He sighed in relief as he heard a shaky breath being being exhaled, the larger dragon pushing in slowly and quietly only to spot Claude curled up on his rug, wings covering him as he sniffed and trembled, claws flexing in his sleep.

The hybrid sighed as he saw his mate like this, what had happened in the medic tent was repulsive, it was too far, even for Judith. Dimitri made a mental note to speak with her tomorrow and tell her to apologize, it was the least he could do to help Claude. 

But that was for tomorrow.

He had to help him now, too.

Dimitri carefully settled down beside the Almyran, Claude only stirring slightly as he used his wing to pull him close. The king felt a purr rumble in his chest from the contact and warmth, tucking his talons under his chest. Claude curled up against him, letting out his own shaky, sleepy purr. 

Dimitri didn’t want tomorrow to come, not for him or for Claude. Gilbert had told him Cornelia still ruled the Kingdom illegitimately in his stead, and with the news of his survival likely spreading with Faerghus, Gilbert was likely hinting that Dimitri would have to be doing his own crusade for justice soon. Not only did he have to reclaim the Holy Kingdom from Edelgard’s control, but his own place as king. Goddess, why must he be separated from Claude after so little time, why couldn’t he have him by his side while they did this?

Claude grumbled in his sleep, pulling Dimitri out of his thoughts as he looked down at him, the Sandwing digging his head deeper into his talents with a whine. 

Dimitri put his thoughts to rest as he lowered his head, resting it beside Claude’s and curling up around him, wings over them, his body like a shield around the much smaller dragon he had fallen in love with.

He could only pray that nightmares didn’t plague Claude’s dreams tonight.

Chapter Text

“We’re splitting up.” Judith announced. “Two groups, one is going to Almyra with the boy and I so he can ascend the throne, the other leaves with his Majesty and Gilbert to Faerghus to reclaim the kingdom and shake off Imperial rule. Time is of the essence, the faster we can take control of the kingdom and Almyra, the faster we can kill Edelbitch.”

Claude looked out into the small group of dragons from his spot beside Judith, only students and faculty were to present, soldiers were to remain in the camp and keep it in the hold of the “United Fodlan” as Byleth had put it so kindly. “I’m only taking a few dragons to Almyra with me, they’re not too friendly to outsiders. At the most I’ll take two dragons from every house.”

“Boo!” Hilda snapped, scales a hot red from where she sat, Marianne giving her a quiet, but harsh ‘shush’.

“The rest of you are to go with Dimitri and the other Blue Lions to reclaim his rightful place as king. If he tells me any of your misbehaved, I’m going to kill you. Looking at you Lorenz, Lysethia.” Claude cast the two dragons a playful glare, knowing that he was serious and would go through with said threat.

The two dragons huffed their disagreement, but no one protested. 

“You’re dismissed ya fucking gremlins, get to packing up, and be here bright and early tomorrow.” Judith snapped. “I’ll leave without ya!”

“I still don’t understand why we can’t just do two trips together.” Claude hissed as the group broke off, preparing supplies for their departure tomorrow morning. Byleth walked past him, giving him a small, proud smile before going to join the students and help with packing. “More dragons would benefit us both.”

“No, Claude.” Dimitri sighed. “I’m landbound. I will only hinder your travels, and Judith said Fodlan’s Throat can only be flown over, not walked through.” Claude saw the sadness linger in his eye.

“I don’t want to do this without you though.” Claude admitted fearfully, eyes wide as a frown found its way onto his face. “And I don’t want you to be doing this without me either, we’re stronger together, Dima.”

“I believe in you. We are stronger together, that I’m certain of, but you are strong on your own as well. Remember all the things you did to get here, everything you did for the Golden Deer, for the Alliance, for me.” Dimitri hissed, the king nudging his shoulder lightly, touch lingering for a moment. “Almyra could not have a better dragon as their leader. I am sure you’ll prove that to them.”

Claude gulped, claws flexing underneath him, anxiety pooling in his gut. Dimitri’s words did wonders to make him feel at least a little more at ease, how was he so lucky. What did he do to deserve such a good partner? “And I’m sure the Kingdom could use a king like you right now.” He smiled, it was a sad smile, but it made Dimitri beam.

“Promise me you won’t die.” Claude whimpered, tugging on Dimitri’s talons with his own. “If I find out something stupid killed you, I’m going to bring you back just to kill you again.”

Dimitri laughed, Claude’s scales feeling hot, all the way up to his ears. “I promise not to die, and I promise to keep everyone travelling with me safe as well.”

“I promise the same, I won’t let anything happen to them.”

His partner nodded, Claude’s lovely king smiling. “We should enjoy this bit of time we have left. What little it may be.”

“Yeah.” Claude purred, “OI, Hilda!”

“WHAT.”

“Get some hunting parties set up, we’re having a feast!”

“Oh Goddess, finally, some good news!” The Rainwing praised.

The entire company enjoyed a large dinner together, laughing, teasing, and just being close. If this was the last time they saw each other, they wanted those memories to be good ones, not ones of war, of pain, of misery, only happiness. If the last thing Claude remembered about Dimitri was the way he laughed, or the way he would twine his tail with his absently, thinking Claude wouldn’t notice, or the way he would melt when he leaned against him, he would die being the happiest dragon in all of Fodlan.

Not everyone had the energy to get up after hours of conversation, Sylvain had to carry his sleeping mate back to their tent, Marriane ushering a grumbling Hilda back to their own tent to call it a night.

Claude fell asleep leaning against his partner as the last of the housemates sat around the fire that night, not waking up as he was carried back to their tent to get some proper rest by his equally tired mate.

 

---

 

Claude woke up to Dimitri getting up beside him, the Sandwing whining at the loss of warmth as Dimitri nudged him with his talon. “Wake up.” The king chuckled fondly, Claude’s ears folded against his head as the larger dragon yawned above him, his stretches accompanied by the cracks of several bones.

“I would rather not…” 

Claude yelped as teeth caught his horns, hoisting him up onto his feet. “Dima!”

“Up and at ‘em.” His partner snorted, chuckling as Claude pouted.

Claude finally relented, sitting on his haunches before Dimitri let go, the Sandwing stretching his arms, cracking each talon before he rolled his shoulders. “Goddess above, I slept like a hatchling.” He yawned. 

“Did you now?”

“Mhm… Time to never sleep so well again.” Claude yawned, keening as one of his back legs cracked, the Sandwing pressing it into the ground to splay his claws out. “Is everyone already outside?”

“You were the last to wake up, yes.” Dimitri snorted, Claude freezing mid stretch as the king snorted in amusement.

“...” Claude sighed, “I’ll be out in a bit.”

Dimitri chuckled, leaving Claude to finish his stretching as he left the tent. When the Almyran was sure the king was gone, he sat down, closing his eyes and muttering a quick prayer to whatever higher power would listen. 

Claude did not like leaving things to chance, he was always swearing on the Goddess, saying her name as frequently as Felix and Ingrid yelled out Sylvain, but he himself was not a holy dragon. Gods were a gamble, he had admitted to himself a long time ago, one truly had to be desperate to seek out their wisdom and blessings, not that Claude didn’t mind it, to each their own. It just wasn’t his thing. But the odds were against them, dragons were going to die if they weren’t careful, the least Claude, a non-believer, could do was do something to ease his own nerves. 

No dragons would be dying if he could help it, that much he had promised to Dimitri.

He stepped out into the camp, joining the dragons who were all packed, many only with a  bag slung over their shoulders, Byleth pacing in front of them, making sure they had packed light for the journey ahead of them.

She decided she would travel with Dimitri, promising Claude she would keep an eye out on him and the other students as well. Goddess bless their old teacher, who knows how the battle in Gronder Field would’ve turned out had Byleth not saved their sorry asses. 

Judith coughed from beside him, pulling him away from his thoughts. The Almyran nodding towards the rock were they made all their announcements. Claude jumped onto the boulder in the center of the camp. “Alright gang!” He called out. “Let’s get this shit show rolling!”

 

---

---

 

Dimitri watched Claude leap onto the boulder with practiced grace, wings slightly open to let him balance. His mate yawned again before making his announcement, tail curling over his back. “We got a lot of traveling to do. Teach is going around making sure you only packed the necessities. This is a fly to and from Almyra. We want to be back in Fodlan and heading to Faerghus as soon as the trouble in Almyra is resolved. It’s hot there. We’re talking deserts known for melting scales off if you aren’t a dragon known for their heat resistance. So I’m taking Hilda, Marianne, Ferdinand, Hubert, Sylvain and Ashe! You’re coming with Judith and I.”

“Oh hell yeah!” Sylvain churred from beside Dimitri, the king glancing at his childhood friend. The Seawing-Skywing looked ecstatic, dancing in place. “We’re going to Almyra, Ashe!”

Ashe chuckled quietly, the gray Sandwing smiling, “It is exciting, isn’t it?”

“Do try and not run your tongue while you’re there.” Felix hissed to his mate, shoving his tail into Sylvain’s chest. “Because I’ll find out, and I’ll make sure you pay for it.”

“I promise, babe! My maw is sealed.”

“...” Felix glared at him before looking over to Hubert, the Nightwing sitting beside Ferdinand. “You wouldn’t be able to seal his jaw magically shut, would you?”

“Not for free.” Hubert snorted, Ferdinand rolling his eyes.

Dimitri chuckled, Claude waiting for the buzz to die down. “Everyone else, you’re heading to Faerghus to overthrow some Cornelia lady and make Dimitri king again, got it? Remember, make as much of a mess as you can for the Empire, the more attention we draw to Faerghus and the Holy Kingdom, the more strain we put on Edelgard, and the easier it’ll be to remove her from power once we’re all together. Does everyone understand?”

There were roars of agreement, Claude smiling, Dimitri looking over at him fondly as he leaped down from the boulder, Judith herding the dragons he had called to the edge of camp. “Stay safe, okay?

“You already made me promise.” Dimitri reminded him gently, chuckling as he felt him tense when he put his snout to his forehead.

“I know, I know. Just, come back to me, alright? I don’t want to rule Almyra if you aren’t ruling Fodlan.”

Dimitri nodded, holding Claude’s talons in his own. “I love you.”

He laughed as Claude froze, spotting the flustered blush spreading across his face. “Dimitri, you can’t just say that right as I’m about to-”

“I love you.” He repeated, more of a tease this time as Claude whined. Dimitri pulled his mate into a hug with his wing. “Now go, I’m sure Judith doesn’t need more reasons to be mad at you.”

Claude nodded, Dimitri reluctantly letting him go and watching him rush off to join his company. Dimitri sat back on his haunches as he saw them take off, Judith and Claude in the lead.

“Don’t look so sad, you Highness.” Dimitri looking over to see Mercedes pad over, the Icewing smiling. “You’ll see each other again, I’m certain of it.”

Dimitri nodded, the specks of color against the sky finally fading away. “You’re right, I should be more positive.” 

Mercedes purred, the dragoness looking up at him fondly. Dimitri always joked she was like the dragonets mom when they were small, Mercedes was a few years older than even Sylvain, and she was always so gentle, soft-spoken and sweet. Whenever someone was sad, Mercedes was always the first to put her rosy-gold wings around them and comfort them. Be it with hugs or with her famous sweets. 

“Ey, Boar.” Felix snapped, pulling him out of his thoughts, Mercedes looking over as well. “We need you to, oh, I don’t know, lead us.”

Dimitri stuttered for a moment, Mercedes giggling behind him. “Right, right.”

He got up, leaping up onto the boulder and looking down to the dragons beneath him. “We’re going to enter Faerghus from the south-east. Our goal is to get to the capital, and kill Cornelia.”

“Finally!” Caspar huffed.

“It’s about time she’s overthrown.” Dorothea snapped. 

“We’ll be travelling by foot,” Dimitri continued. “I apologize for hindering what would be a three day flight.” He added sourly, pulling in his mangled wing closer to his body. He was sure that if Hilda had been here she would’ve muttered a sorry.

“We could all stretch our legs!” Annette chirped. 

“We fare better anyways, archers won’t have clear targets to shoot.” Bernendetta added. “This will work in our favor, for sure. No one will see us coming until it’s too late.”

Dimitri snorted in agreement. “I know many of you have ties to the Empire, we may come across your families. You may need to kill them to live another day.”

“They aren’t our families anymore.” Caspar snarling. “The Empire isn’t something someone should be fighting for voluntarily.” 

“You don’t need to warn us about what’s going to happen.” Ingrid said gently. 

“We’re aware of the danger the Empire gives us.” Petra added.

“And that some of us may die.” Felix huffed. “We aren’t stupid.”

Dimitri sighed. “It’s not that, I know none of you are stupid. It’s just-”

“This is war, Dimitri.” Lorenz said with a huff, . “Lives are always going to be lost, regardless of the side.”

“We know what we signed up for.” Linhardt piped.

“Now,” Felix snapped. “Are we going to start marching, or not?”

Dimitri chuckled. “You took the words right out of my mouth.”

He leaped off the boulder, the dragons moving out of the way as he moved to the front of the group, heading in the opposite direction that Claude had. He looked behind him, the dragons behind him looked ready to rush an entire army, Claude had either riled them up or they really were willing to help Dimitri retake the throne.

“Get moving boar, we aren’t going to walk in front of you!” Felix hissed, but Dimitri heard none of the usual sting that usually accompanied his quips. “You’re king after all.”

Dimitri snorted, beginning to walk into the forest, the camp quickly abandoned as the last pair of wings disappeared into the forest.

Chapter Text

“Goddess above, are we going to rest soon?!” Hilda wailed from behind Claude, the Almyran laughing as he turned his head to look behind him. The pink Rainwing was flapping her wings quickly, much like how a sparrow might trying to fly a short distance as quickly as possible. She was the shortest of the group, meaning her wings were equally as short, which meant she struggled to catch up with everyone. It was hilarious, but Claude quite valued snout, so he decided against laughing louder.

“It’s not my fault you have short wings!”

“Yes it is! I’m the slowest one here! Even Hubert is flying faster than me, and his wing is barely healed!” Hilda retorted sharply, flailing her arms towards the Nightwing, who only snorted in response, resorting to flying faster, much her to alarm and anger. 

“Oh, come on, his husband is literally a Skywing, do you think Ferdinand would really stay cooped up in a castle with wings like those?” Claude snapped playfully, “They’re as long as I am!” 

Ferdinand looked up at the mention of his name, ears perked, compared to everyone besides Hilda and possibly Judith, he looked flawless, no sign of fatigue as he flew. “Hm? Did I miss something?”

“We’re just talking about how lazy Hilda is.” Claude sang, Hilda roaring out her anger.

“If you’re so strong carry me!”

“Oh shush, we’re resting soon, we all need a good meal after how long we’ve been flying.” Claude huffed, rolling his eyes, “Oh wise and powerful Godmother, have you spotted a good place for us to rest our wings?”

“You bet your ass, curve right, I see a canyon with a stream nearby, we’ll rest there for now.” The Hivewing flapped her wings before swooping down, the dragons following her down and touching down on pebbles and sand. Thank Sothis for solid ground, Claude’s bones felt like gelatin. 

“Thank goodness, I can’t feel my legs.” Ashe whined, stretching his legs, arching his back like a cat, tail curled over his back. “I never want to fly so long again. Even the flight to Fhirdiad isn’t this long!” 

“Already tired? Come on Ashe, it’s like back in the academy! We used to fly all the time!” Sylvain teased, Ashe grunting as he collapsed on the ground, rolling onto his back. “Professor had us fly from the border of the Kingdom and back some days!”

“Did Teach spoil you with flight lessons?” Claude churred. “Dimitri never told me she took you out flying.”

“She said it was important to be able to maneuver in the air like we did on land. She’d fly in the lead and throw things at us to make sure we avoided at them. Annette ended up with a faceful of pie one day.” Sylvain cooed. “Dimitri was always super clumsy in the air especially, even Dedue could fly with more skill than him. Felix flew circles around him, as did Ingrid, but she’s a Skywing, so she has an advantage.” 

“He always used to fly so well though…” Claude sighed, remembering about their evening flights that ended perched atop the reception hall, overlooking the school. Dimitri had been the one to teach Claude how to do loops and twirls in the air, before then Claude had flown probably as well as a flamingo. 

“Hey, maybe he just needed some motivation to do his best. Some handsome motivation.” The red Seawing laughed, Ashe giggling a bit as Claude’s face went hot.

“Boy, the Skywing, Nightwing and I are going to fish, don’t go causing us trouble while we’re gone, huh?” Judith snapped, Claude nodding. 

“I promise I won’t light the whole canyon on fire.”

Judith rolled her eyes before she and the two mentioned dragons headed downstream towards deeper water. 

“Don’t let any fish eat you!”

“Shut the fuck up!”

Claude snorted out smoke in amusement, turning back to look at the group. “Alright gang, let’ s get a fire set up and see if we can find anything soft to put over the ground. I don’t know about you guys but I don’t want to have a scratched up underbelly.” Claude rolled his shoulders, yawning as he stretched his wings. 

“I’ll take the sand! I sleep just fine in it!” Ashe cooed. 

“I’ll sleep in the stream with Marianne, leaves more room for you guys on land, anyways.” Sylvain yawned, Marianne cooed her agreement from beside her wife.

“Thanks Syl.” Claude purred. “Alright, Hilda, mind helping me find some ferns?” 

Hilda cast him a glare, the Rainwing curled up beside her wife, fins folded against her head. Her scales slowly shifted from the usual pink to a dark red, and Marianne cast the house leader an apologetic glance. 

“Alright, Sylvain, want to help me find some ferns for the others? I doubt Ferdinand will want to sleep on pebbles.”

“Of course, your Kingliness.” He chuckled, “Come on, I thought I saw a cave connected to the stream nearby, we can find some moss to dry, if not any ferns.”

Claude nodded, knowing the two dragonesses and young Sandwing with them would be fine, before he left Sylvain, wading through the water and easing into a paddle to get towards the cave, Sylvain dipping into the water with a flash of his luminescent scales.

The cave was dark, and Claude soon found he couldn’t see in front of his snout within a few moments, the only thing that kept him from swimming into a wall was the flash of Sylvain’s scales underwater, they dimly lit the way as they went deeper and deeper inwards.

Claude finally scrambled onto a secure ledge, whining as he shook his scales, fins drooped and obscuring one of his eyes annoyingly. Sylvain leapt onto the ledge with him, shaking himself off as well as he looked around. “Hm… Aha!”

The Almyran moved a talon to move his fin from his eye, he watched as Sylvain’s wing markings glowed, revealing a wall full of moss before Sylvain pawed it off, collecting it on the ground in strands. “This should be enough for two of you guys, let’s see if we can find some more.” Sylvain leaned on the wall, leaning on his back legs to look up at the ceiling, Claude heard him huff as he strained a talon towards the ceiling. “I don’t think you can reach this stuff, since you’re a tad bit too small. There’s another batch over there from what I saw, try getting some from that growth.”

Claude would’ve stepped on his tail if he could see in front of his snout, so he chose to to just dip back into the water and swim over, doggy paddle slowly and somewhat pathetic getting him to the little island against the cave wall.

There was a large amount of moss, perfect, more bedding. Claude began to claw it off, strips falling towards the ground as he collected it, humming a quiet tune under his breath as he was lost in the work. He ran out of moss eventually in front of him, and stood on his hind legs to see if there was any he could still reach.

Then something brushed against his half submerged tail.

Claude looked down, his eyes having slowly adjusted to the dark and not revealing anything to him under the water. He shrugged and went back to sniffing the wall, but he hadn’t even gone a minute back into his moss collecting duties when something brushed against his tail again, much more forcibly this time.

“Sylvain?”

“Hm?” He heard the dragon’s voice from somewhere deeper in the cave, and Claude’s ears swiveled forward in alarm. 

If Sylvain was over there, then what had-

Claude let out a screech of alarm as something pulled him into the water, Sylvain yelping as Claude disappeared into the water, the surge of bubbles replacing the air he exhaled sharply. Claude kicked his back legs out, wings flapping madly as he tried to resurface, lungs already screaming for air. 

He finally found purchase on something and hauled himself up, gasping for air as he tried to scramble away, but something bit down on his leg, hard, and dragged him down again. The hybrid clawed at whatever maw was hanging onto him and kicked again, but Goddess dammit this thing was persistent!

He felt the air get knocked out of him, quick to close his jaws as the thing hanging onto him let go in alarm, the flash of scales near him alerting him that Sylvain had come to his rescue. 

Claude rushed to the surface once more, beginning to paddle away as a new flash of scales now accompanied Sylvain’s. Another Seawing?! Had the Empire followed them all the way here, were they stationed nearby?

Claude’s mind was racing as he got close to the entrance, a splash behind him and a yelp of shock accompanying it. Claude was out of the cave by the time Sylvain rushed to join him, covered in scratches and bites as he headbutted Claude’s flank. 

“FASTER!”

Claude finally pebbles underwater to grab hold of as he raced towards where Ashe, Hilda and Marianne had been, Claude tripping and rolling onto the sand as Sylvain skidded to a halt and whirled around facing the cave as he snarled, his wings unfurled and his Crest flaring. 

Splashing was heard from the cave and a dragon burst out, roaring angrily and rushing to them much more quickly than Sylvain must’ve anticipated because the hybrid’s chest was only NOW beginning to glow before something landed in front of him, large, black and equally as angry. 

“I cast that the dragon in front of me obeys my every word!” Hubert. His voice echoed in the canyon before he flared his wings. “FREEZE!”

The dragon had lunged before Hubert had said his command, the dragon falling to the ground like a rock would and landing in the shallow water with a grunt of pain. Hubert glared down at him, but his wings folded into his body, Sylvain panting behind him. Claude heard Judith and Ferdinand land behind him, Ferdinand rushing to Hubert’s side and gagging a bit at the sight of the dragon now frozen in front of them, stiff as a board. 

Claude struggled up, peaking at the dragon from beside Sylvain, the dragon at his side breathing heavily, lips curled back into a snarl.

“It can’t be…” Sylvain hissed through gritted teeth, the dragon in the water was snarling, and now that Claude had a better look at him, there was something… Familiar about him, somewhat. It was a hybrid, much like Sylvain, actually, he was larger than Sylvain, and Claude grimaced at what looked like crystals growing out of the right side of his body. They were sharp, black, and a red eye glowed unnaturally within a deep socket, painful was the best way to describe how they looked. His wing was gone, leaving a single, sharp crystal in its place. 

His left side was rather normal, dull red scales, the blue luminescent scales on him were a dark, dark teal. A scar ran down his face, even the crystal like side of him had chips in where the scar probably continued. Sylvain padded forward, and grabbed the dragon by his chin, the hybrid’s snarl getting louder, Sylvain only snarled back in response, Hubert rolling his eyes as he watched.

“Will you tell us who this is before I stab him for making me waste a spell?”

“You aren’t going to believe this but…” Sylvain took a deep breath, Claude tilting his head, ears folded against his head. “This is Miklan.”

Ashe gasped from behind Claude, rushing over, eyes wide in shock, the dragon looking over at him and snarling louder, what sounded like a roar trying to build up in his chest at the sight of the gray Sandwing. 

“He’s my supposed to be dead brother. I stabbed him so many times I thought he had melted into the puddle of blood underneath of my talons. But here he is, alive, still baring the damage of what trying to use a Heroic Relic without a crest can do to you.” Sylvain dropped his head, Miklan snarling as his head hit the water again. 

“Miklan… The dragon Rhea took you to kill for stealing House Gautier’s Relic?” Claude yelped. 

Sylvain nodded. “We killed him that day though. Dimitri was there, thinking I needed comfort, Byleth pried his lance from his talons and gave it to me. The Seawing-Skywing slammed his talons down on Miklan’s snout, claws curling into scales and finding gaps in the crystals. “HOW ARE YOU ALIVE?!”

Claude winced, Ashe cowering behind him as Sylvain snarled, teeth bared. 

“You may want to let me remove the freeze spell on his mouth before you start asking him any questions, Gautier.” Hubert huffed in annoyance.