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4th Day of the Red Wolf Moon 1168

Despite the harsh snap of an inevitable Faerghan winter, Dimitri and his friends choose to play outside today.

Dimitri ducks into an evergreen shrub, driven enough to win this round of hide-and-seek that he makes sure to avoid leaving tracks in the snow. He can’t imagine Sylvain will think to look for him here.

A slight shift against the scratchy leaves of the shrub tickles his nose, and he’s forced to fight back a sneeze. Just when he thinks he’s reigned himself in, he hears loud, incessant chirping erupt from somewhere by his feet.

Dimitri looks down and finds a baby bird. It looks pitiful. Weak. Like it had been abandoned or forgotten.

Without even thinking, Dimitri very carefully scoops the bird into his hands, intending to take it into the castle to warm it up. As he trudges up the snow-dusted trail towards home, he hears something again. The beating of wings overhead.

Optimistically, his first thought is that it might be the baby bird’s mother, returning to take care of it. But when he looks up, he sees a large eagle mid-swoop, ready to steal the little life from his palms, likely driven to hunting scraps by the impending winter.

“No!” Dimitri cries, clutching the baby bird to his chest to protect it. He runs.

When he reaches the castle gates, his own heartbeat louder in his ears than the flapping of the eagle’s wings, he feels warmth seeping through his mittens.

He pulls his hands from his chest to look. They are stained red.

 


 

12th Day of the Wyvern Moon 1180

Dimitri wakes slowly, the remnants of a dream lingering on the edges of his consciousness.

A dream? No... a memory, a precious one. About the professor.

He almost feels silly for cherishing something so seemingly inconsequential. All the same, he closes his eyes again and pictures that scene for what might have been the hundredth time by now. It is not so unexpected he finally dreamt of it last night.

He’d done particularly well on a test, so well that the professor had praised him... and ruffled his hair in what had been an unmistakably fond manner.

Weeks later and Dimitri’s chest still tightens when he remembers the sensation of the professor’s touch, albeit fleeting.

He’s not sure if his visceral reaction is more to do with his hopeless crush on the professor or with the fact that he can hardly recall the last time someone had touched him so casually.

Some obscure part of him, long locked away and neglected, stirs at the idea of more. Eyes still shut, he imagines the professor holding his hand to readjust his sword grip. He imagines the professor pressing his body close to guide his bow stance.

He imagines touching the professor in turn, tucking his hair back as he grades papers, or brushing their legs against each other under the table while they have tea.

But his fantasies soon become clouded by fear—familiar, cold, consuming.

Does someone like him deserve a kind touch, especially from someone like the professor? Does he deserve to reciprocate that sort of contact freely, considering the harm he’s capable of inflicting?

Hands tightening into fists, brow furrowing, he feels his heart grow heavy. If the professor learns the depth of his darkness, will he allow him to stay by his side?

He thinks of the disgust in Felix’s eyes two years ago, back when they suppressed that rebellion in western Faerghus. Felix knows his true nature, lashes out at him for it, whether it’s with his sword or his sharp tongue. But, for one reason or another, his old friend still stays.

Dimitri is almost certain that if the professor ever comes to understand the violence woven into his hands, if he sees the hatred caging his thoughts, he will look at him with that same disgust and leave.

He lets out a trembling breath, opening his eyes.

But goddess above, he wants the professor’s kindness and the comfort of his touch. He wants it so much he could choke on it.

If he scores top marks, will the professor praise him again? Pet his hair again? Maybe squeeze his shoulder this time, pride in his gaze? He doesn’t feel like himself when he indulges these thoughts, so used to ignoring his desire for the monotony of isolation to break.

Dimitri rubs at his bleary eyes as he tries to put himself together again. But, somehow, his mind wanders farther down this path.

He figures this memory of the professor’s gentle touch will plague him for years to come, a reminder of what he can’t allow himself to have.

He remembers when Edelgard taught him to dance. His hands shook in hers. But their friendship and Edelgard’s reassuring strength saw him through to the end of her lesson. A wonderful memory from happier times.

He remembers when Dedue first came back with him to Fhirdiad, back when his dearest friend could barely speak common. Their second night in the castle, Dedue cried for his fallen country, his dead family. Dimitri had hugged him, swallowing his fear to share his pain and offer support.

He remembers when his stepmother once kissed his cheek, when he’d fallen ill as a child. To this day, he is unsure what drove her to grant him that affection. She had always been kind to him, but at the same time, equally as distant.

But these memories are special for their rarity, a stark contrast to what he truly knows: the sickening crunch of a human skull under the effortless grasp of his hand, the thrum in his muscles when he stabs his lance into a body, the chilling voices of the fallen begging he exact their ruthless vengeance.

Dimitri's desperate wish to touch the professor tenderly is overshadowed by fear—fear of his own strength and the cruelties that come with it.

He lays in bed for a while longer and pretends the professor might look his way, that he might be worthy of that if not for the ugliness he tries to hide.

 


 

29th Day of the Horsebow Moon 1185

The weeks following Edelgard's demise are utter chaos. Dimitri is at least grateful that it is the type of chaos of simply having too much to do in so little time. There are still a number of Empire nobles to bring to heel, but these skirmishes are far removed from the hellish war they've endured for five years. They can take their time subduing them as peacefully as possible.

He knows he needs these distractions after the battle with Edelgard, which easily pushed him to his very limits, both physically and mentally. Even if things are looking up, part of him still fears the idea that her voice might someday haunt him, whisper vitriol into his ear, cause him to spiral again.

Whenever he feels close to losing himself, he’s fallen into the habit of thinking of the professor.

Though disappointing, it isn’t unexpected that he hasn’t properly spoken with the professor since they rescued Lady Rhea. What truly left Dimitri a tad taken aback was the haste with which Lady Rhea stepped down and appointed the professor as the Church of Seiros’s new archbishop. Far from an unfavorable course of action, naturally... just that it had unfolded much quicker than he’d expected.

He’d been trying to get a hold of the professor since his arrival in Fhirdiad this morning. But apparently, there is much for the Church of Seiros to prepare for a king’s coronation.

Despite himself, he imagines how tomorrow might play out. He pictures himself kneeling before the professor, their backdrop the impressive stained glass of Fhirdiad’s oldest cathedral, surrounded by the people of Faerghus, all eyes on the two of them. He wonders if the professor’s fingers might card through his hair as he lays the crown on his head.

His chest tightens in the way it only ever does with the professor, but he forces himself back to the present.

It's getting late and the training grounds are chilly, but the longer he stays inside during the day, listening to reports and signing off on tedious paperwork, the more he needs to expend energy.

He swings his training lance with practiced motions, the shaft of the weapon coming down on a training dummy with a dull thud. The wooden stand it’s perched on appears to splinter.

“Aren’t you overworking yourself?” an all-too-familiar voice asks, cutting through the cold night air.

“Professor...” Dimitri utters as he turns to meet his gaze, surprised yet pleased all the same. He’s already forgotten about practicing his footwork, moving closer to properly greet the archbishop. That thought suddenly reminds him that the professor’s change in station commands not just a new level of respect, but a new title as well.

“Ah, forgive me, would it be more appropriate to refer to you as ‘Your Grace’ now?” he asks, sheepish.

“Perhaps. But you already know I hardly pay that sort of thing any mind,” the professor replies, pausing for a moment before switching the topic, “Would you like a sparring partner? Those poor training dummies are no match for you.”

“Yes, thank you,” Dimitri agrees easily. He can’t think of a better way to catch up.

He sets his training lance to the side and procures wooden swords for them to duel with. It all still feels so routine that before he even realizes it, he and the professor are crossing blades.

He parries one of the professor’s strikes just barely, feeling sweat start to bead at his temple.

“Nervous?” the professor asks, casually.

Dimitri thrusts his sword before responding, the power behind his swing calculated. The professor sees right through him and blocks the attempt cleanly.

“A little, I suppose. But it is long overdue,” he replies, trying to keep his breathing even as he closes some of the distance between them. He endeavors to strike at the professor’s blind side, but he is far too capable. In barely a few seconds, the professor gracefully dodges his assault and steps an entire pace back.

It’s awe-inspiring, truly. The professor’s skill is a large part of the reason why Dimitri feels at ease sparring with him like this. He typically maintains a measure of restraint whenever he practices, but he doesn’t have to worry as much when he’s fully aware his opponent is leagues ahead of him.

“I know you’ll make a fine king,” the professor says, warmly, even while snapping his blade upwards to disarm him.

Dimitri is so taken by the professor in that moment that he’s more than disarmed. The blunt edge of the professor’s wooden sword slams into his closed fist and his own training weapon goes flying. It’s no surprise that blood immediately begins to drip through his right gauntlet.

He frowns at the sting, but is otherwise unperturbed.

On the other hand, the professor abandons his sword and hurries closer to him, worrying his lip. “I’m sorry. Are you alright, Dimitri?” he asks, concerned.

“Do not worry yourself, Professor,” Dimitri assures, pulling his gauntlet off carefully to assess the damage. Though he doesn’t wince, he cannot deny it looks... quite gruesome. The nails of his index and middle finger are bloodied and badly bruised, but despite the swelling, he can tell nothing is broken.

When he looks at the professor again, the professor’s expression is stormy. “Sit,” he says, insistent, pointing at one of the benches to the side. “I’ll dress that for you.”

Dimitri doesn’t argue and nods, obediently sitting where he’s told. He watches the professor leave the training grounds.

When the professor eventually returns to his side, he’s carrying a large wooden basin of water in one arm, a cloth and some bandages in the other. He’s not sure why it comes as a shock, but when the professor removes his gloves to wash his hands, Dimitri’s heart starts racing.

He supposes it’s a rare sight. He swallows, trying to stare as imperceptibly as possible. He notes the scars that litter the professor’s fingers, the callouses that roughen his palms—they’re the hands of a mercenary, through and through. But not so unlike his. He wonders what it would feel like if he laced their fingers together.

When the professor gently takes his right hand, Dimitri prays his expression reveals nothing of his tumultuous feelings for him.

He can’t help recalling that fateful rainy night, when the professor offered his hand to him and saved him.

But without gloves and gauntlets separating them, Dimitri can now say he’s known the professor’s touch, unquestionably, skin upon skin.

He watches the professor work diligently, washing away the blood, checking for broken bone, applying a healing salve to the bruising. The professor is the strongest person Dimitri has ever known, so seeing him like this—caring and attentive—it makes him fall for him all over again.

“Is it painful? Too tight?” the professor asks as he slowly wraps bandages around Dimitri’s fingers.

The soon-to-be king is so distracted by the sensation of the archbishop’s touch that he almost forgets to answer.

“No. It’s perfect,” is all he can manage to say.

Before long, the professor straightens up and sighs, looking satisfied with his handiwork.

“I’m going to go clean this all up,” he says, throwing the now blood-soaked cloth he used to clean Dimitri’s wounds into the basin.

“Your hands truly are so warm, Professor... Thank you for your help,” Dimitri says, sincerely.

“It was my fault. I’m glad you’re okay,” the professor replies.

It must be a trick of the low light, because when the professor stands and turns to leave, Dimitri thinks he sees a blush dusting his cheeks.

 


 

18th Day of the Ethereal Moon 1185

Against his advisors’ recommendations, Dimitri travels to Garreg Mach Monastery a few days earlier than planned. He doesn’t think it’s too unreasonable of a request, to take some extra time to really enjoy the monastery’s first Establishment Day festival in five years. From what he’s seen of the preparations so far, it’s sure to be a simple yet joyous occasion.

Much of Garreg Mach is still under heavy renovations, but the fact that they are honoring its anniversary on the 25th is a testament to the glorious reality that the war is finally over.

Though it’s only been a few months since he’d last been here, stepping into the familiar landscape of his old school fills Dimitri with nostalgia.

He had, of course, asked for the professor upon his arrival, but it’s no surprise that the archbishop is so busy that he is unable to grant even the King of Faerghus an immediate audience.

It matters not. Dimitri is capable of waiting. And as he waits, he finds himself wandering the monastery grounds. Ultimately, he gravitates to a specific place, one he’s not sure he can avoid. He keeps his eye on the horizon in the distance, admiring the view as he walks down the familiar steps leading to the graveyard.

The setting sun casts vivid colors onto the sky.

He is still watching the sun sink past the mountains by the time he stops in front of a painfully familiar grave.

Only when the sky is dark enough for the stars to come out does Dimitri read the grave marker.

Rodrigue Achille Fraldarius.

He remembers Ingrid’s wish to have Rodrigue buried in Fraldarius territory, but now that his bones are resting with the monastery, it doesn’t feel right to move him anymore.

Keeping his eye trained on the marble stone by his feet, he reads Rodrigue’s name over and over in his head. He wonders if Rodrigue would be happy to see what’s become of him now, if he would be proud. He knows this line of thinking is dangerous, but he can’t stop himself.

He wonders if Rodrigue is resting peacefully, and if he cares to know that Dimitri is king now, striving to do right by Faerghus, right by the entirety of Fódlan. He wonders if Rodrigue has already found his father in the afterlife, if he’s maybe found Glenn, too.

For the first time in a long, long while, Dimitri feels ice and darkness clutch at him, not merely the brief flashes he experiences in battle, but the sort of cold that penetrates to the bone and encompasses everything. He hears anguished voices fill his ringing ears. Though this is supposed to be a resting place for the dead, Dimitri remembers that he will never know for sure if they are undeniably resting.

His pulse quickens as death overwhelms him. The lives he’s taken, the lives he’s failed to protect. Their hatred, their regrets, it all comes rushing back to him. How could he have thought that it would be acceptable for him to live like this? Who else could possibly take up the dead’s cause?

The harder his heart beats, the more he disgusts himself.

It’s not fair. It’s not fair. It’s not fair!

He clutches his head in his hands and falls to his knees on the grass, choking out a labored breath, losing himself.

But like a torch in a thick fog, light pierces through the haze in his mind.

“Dimitri, come back to me.”

A plea. That voice.

“P-Professor?” Dimitri whispers, confused. He keeps his head buried in his hands, but peers through the web of his fingers to make sure he’s not imagining things.

The professor’s face, his expression uneasy, almost frightened, swims into view.

Grasping the reality that his mental state had strayed off-path, nearly to the point of disaster, almost feels like getting struck by an enemy’s Thoron from across the battlefield. It’s a chilling reminder that, while things are better now, he won’t be able to overcome his trauma so easily.

He slowly lowers his shaking hands from his face, but he is unable to meet the professor’s eyes.

“Professor, please forgive me, I—”

Before Dimitri can finish his sentence, the professor practically throws himself at him, joining him on the grass, enveloping him in a tight embrace.

Dimitri stays frozen for several long moments, his heart pounding frantically in his chest—with fear, with excited disbelief at the professor's closeness? He is not certain. Though he does not recoil, he cannot bring himself to return the professor’s hug.

He feels conflicted, torn between a lifetime of avoiding this kind of contact and wanting nothing more than to hold the professor, to thank him for always catching him when he stumbles.

The professor doesn’t seem bothered by his lack of reciprocation, reaching up to pet his hair, comforting him. It reminds Dimitri almost painfully of... a precious memory, one he’s locked away for years.

The professor carefully guides him to rest his head on his shoulder and Dimitri can do no more than let out a shuddering breath, taking solace in his touch, too vulnerable in that moment to turn away. He feels the professor’s gloved hand rest on the nape of his neck, gentle and reassuring. The gesture nearly breaks him.

He can’t think of a single good thing he’s done in his life to warrant this, to deserve the professor’s light.

Though he still cannot convince himself that someone like him is worth saving, he realizes he doesn’t want to be consumed by darkness anymore.

His body shakes at the sheer emotion that fills him with that thought. Even if he must fight tooth and nail to keep his head above water, even if he must face his demons every day, he will do everything he can to keep living his life for what he believes in.

He wants to ask the professor if he will continue to lend him his strength, if he will save him if he falls again.

As if reading his mind, the professor murmurs, “Shh... I’ve got you, I promise.”

Dimitri shuts his eye and trusts him.

 


 

1st Day of the Harpstring Moon 1186

He’d been hoping for clear skies tonight, but Dimitri still waits where he and the professor had agreed upon earlier—the highest turret in Fhirdiad’s royal castle.

After a long day of negotiations and planning and sitting at council tables with their advisors, he is relieved that they are finally allowed a moment of respite with each other.

Technically speaking, the professor is here on official Church of Seiros business. The trips to Fhirdiad are easier in the summertime. But with how busy both of their lives have become, Dimitri knows that if he ever hopes to be alone with the professor, he needs to steal him away at any opportunity that presents itself.

He looks up at the cloudy sky, leaning against the stone wall of the turret. The torches by the entryway don’t serve much use in illuminating the entire area, but the overcast weather has made it so that the moonlight is hiding as well. He hopes the professor doesn’t trip on his way here.

Before much longer, he hears light-footed steps echoing from the stairwell. Try as he might to seem casual, he turns around, eager to greet the professor.

“Have you been waiting long?” the professor asks as he walks over to stand beside him.

“Not at all. Thank you for making the time to indulge my request, Professor,” Dimitri says, still feeling a little embarrassed.

Something flickers in the professor’s eyes, and Dimitri realizes that he recognizes it easily as amusement. Sometimes, he surprises himself with how much better he’s gotten at reading him. “You say that as if I haven’t been looking forward to this, too,” the professor says, the ghost of a smile playing on his lips as he moves closer to the turret wall.

Silent for a long moment, Dimitri watches him, entranced by the way he props his chin on his palm as he looks out towards the distance.

“It’s too bad it rained. I would’ve liked to see the stars,” the professor muses aloud.

“I was thinking the same when I arrived. Perhaps it will clear up before we have to leave,” Dimitri says, hopeful, to which the professor just hums, noncommittal.

A peaceful silence lapses between them, but the professor eventually speaks up again, “So, tell me... how have you been adjusting to things, Your Majesty?” There’s a hint of a tease in his tone at the title.

“I could ask you the same thing, Your Grace,” Dimitri retorts, light-hearted.

“Yes, well, I asked you first,” the professor replies, turning to look at him with a crooked little smile.

“Fair enough,” Dimitri concedes with a soft chuckle. “Well, where to start? Not unexpectedly, being king of a reunified Fódlan keeps one very busy. I wrote to you previously that I’ve been trying to instigate talks with Duscur. It is proving difficult, but I’ve no intentions of backing down.”

He continues, “I also have plans of establishing the groundwork for better trade routes between the three regions, a long term project. Shorter term, I want to do my utmost to ensure no one in Faerghus starves this winter.”

“Ah, hence your wish to improve trade routes. You can better distribute resources to the poorer regions of Faerghus,” the professor says, thoughtfully.

“Indeed. But it is not a solution that will do much at present. We’ve invested in new research that I’m hoping will help rejuvenate many of our infertile lands. I pray the goddess makes this year’s harvest a bountiful one,” Dimitri says, thinking of all the children in Fhirdiad’s slums. “There is so much I wish to do.”

The professor seems to ponder his reply before asking, “What do you envision for Fódlan’s future, Dimitri?”

“Put simply, I wish for Fódlan to become a place where the weak aren’t preyed upon by the strong. Whether it’s through political reform, or the alleviation of poverty, or the quelling of oppression... I just want to help those who are unable to help themselves, Professor,” Dimitri replies, unwavering.

The professor holds his gaze, as if studying him, before offering a smile. Dimitri feels his chest tighten.

“Dedue once told me that he believed you were too kind to be king. Now more than ever, I can see what he meant by that. Dimitri... I’m going to rebuild the Church of Seiros. Once we’re back on our feet, you will have the full extent of our power to help you realize your dreams,” the professor promises.

Dimitri gapes, hardly daring to believe that the professor would say something of utmost significance like it’s the simplest thing in the world. He’s not certain how to react.

“Professor... those types of things are better said after proper consultation with your advisors and other church officials... People will claim I’m swaying you for political gain if we don’t go through the motions,” he tries to reason, knowing painfully well how dispassionate those in seats of power could be. King though he may be, he understands that keeping the support of the noble houses will allow him more freedom to further his ambitions.

“I didn’t become archbishop to indulge in ridiculous politics. I want to change Fódlan for the better. What you believe in, Dimitri, I believe in, too,” the professor responds, firmly.

Dimitri already knows what kind of leader the professor is—trustworthy, inspiring, with causes and goals you would give your life for. He can’t imagine anyone from the church successfully dissenting the professor’s intention to aid him if he is this serious about it.

“I understand... Professor, you have my deepest gratitude. I will dedicate my life to making the Fódlan we believe in a reality. Please, allow me to continue depending on your strength,” Dimitri requests, pressing a hand to his chest and bowing in earnest.

The professor looks like he’s going to reply with a fond word, but as if to solidify their promise, moonlight breaks through the dark clouds above. Both he and the professor look up to admire the moon’s glow in comfortable silence. Dimitri humors the idea of this perfect, peaceful moment stretching on forever, with just the two of them.

At the risk of being caught staring, he turns to look at the professor and has his breath stolen away by how beautiful he looks like this, bathed in moonlight, his hair taking on an ethereal quality, his expression serene.

He’s watching the professor so intently that he notices the slight change in his eyes right away.

“Dimitri, look,” he murmurs in awe, pointing upwards.

Dimitri doesn’t miss a beat and looks to the sky. Exactly where the clouds have parted to let moonlight through, he sees dozens upon dozens of shining streaks of light decorate the night sky.

“Falling stars,” he says, quietly admiring them, unable to shake the feeling they’re being shown something so incredible for a reason.

He can’t imagine that falling stars really have anything to do with the divine or heavenly, but with an almost childlike hope, he wishes on them. And as if they’d been waiting for him to finish, the lights fade just as he offers up his final wish.

“I never thought I’d get to see anything like that in all my life... Did you make a wish?” the professor asks, curious.

“Well... yes, a few,” Dimitri admits, his cheeks tinging red.

“Let me guess, you wished that you might fully realize our dreams for Fódlan, end all suffering, maybe even grow old enough to step down from the throne to open up an orphanage of your own,” the professor says, teasing but fond.

Dimitri laughs quietly, genuine mirth warming his expression. “Things to that effect, yes. And for your good health, too, of course, Professor. And that we might see each other again soon after we part ways tomorrow. I often find myself missing that smile of yours.”

The playful quirk on the professor’s lips fades away as he seems to process his reply. Dimitri starts to wonder if he’s said anything inappropriate.

But then the professor suddenly moves closer to him, reaching up to cup either side of his face in his gloved hands. Dimitri is more than a little confused, unable to parse his emotions fast enough for the abruptness of the professor’s touch.

Before he can say anything, the professor pulls him in and presses their lips together in a kiss.

Despite the crashing wave of emotion that fills him, threatening to burst out, all Dimitri can think of is the professor, the softness of his lips, the way strands of his hair tickle his cheeks, the warmth of his hands on his face.

‘Finally... Finally...’ he thinks as he melts against the professor’s mouth, moving his lips slowly against his.

Though shaky and fearful, he carefully presses a palm against one of the professor’s hands cupping his cheek, reveling in the fact that he allows himself to seek this out. In the grand scheme of things, it is not much. But in that moment, to him, it means he is growing, changing.

It feels like an age before they part.

“Professor, I... I’ve always—” Dimitri begins, only to be cut off by another kiss. His feelings for the professor crescendo inside him as he lets him lead their kiss, years of what he thought to be one-sided pining coming to an end at last.

He barely notices when the professor pulls back a second time, so caught up in the wonderful sensation of his kisses that he just about leans back in for more out of reflex.

“Me, too,” the professor murmurs in return, his lips just inches away. He cards his fingers through Dimitri’s hair, tender and sweet.

Dimitri is so overcome that, even as his lips spread into a bright smile, he feels his eye well up ever so slightly.

The professor gazes at him, seemingly stunned for a long, quiet moment, as if in disbelief over his expression. But, eventually, the professor leans in to kiss away some of the wetness gathering in the corner of his eye. The gesture is so affectionate and adorable and just so much that Dimitri is nearly certain he’s dreaming.

But when the professor presses close enough to hug him around his waist, resting his head against his chest warmly, Dimitri realizes that this is all very much real, and it’s the happiest realization he’s had all his life.

“This is... for me?” the professor speaks up, his ear undoubtedly pressed against Dimitri’s frantic heartbeat.

Dimitri can hear the cautious hope in the professor’s voice.

“Yes,” is all he needs to say.

The professor smiles like he’s been given the world, and it’s the most beautiful thing Dimitri’s ever seen.

 


 

31st Day of the Verdant Moon 1186

“Is this alright?” Byleth asks, his voice low and rough as he rids Dimitri of the last of his clothing. He is situated comfortably above Dimitri, who lies on his back on their bed.

“Yes,” Dimitri confirms, his answer breathy but certain. Tentatively, he reaches up to tuck some of Byleth’s hair behind his ear.

Like with most things whenever they try something new, he is eager to allow Byleth to lead the way. And this? Well, most of it is terribly new territory for him.

Byleth leans down to press a kiss against his parted lips, soon trailing lower, breath hot and heavy against his neck, his chest.

Dimitri feels his cheeks heat up with a dark flush, color undeniably spreading through his entire face the more attention Byleth lavishes on him. A little uncertainly, he sets a hand on Byleth’s back, using his other arm to wrap around his bare torso.

Byleth looks pleased at the contact he initiates and that fills him with confidence. Dimitri moves his hand up to the back of Byleth’s head, trailing careful fingers through his hair before guiding him back down to kiss him again, slow and loving.

Eventually, Byleth deepens their kiss hungrily, nibbling at his bottom lip before sliding his tongue inside his mouth. Dimitri muffles a moan against his mouth as he kisses back, eager to reciprocate. Arousal begins to build quickly in his gut, and the fact that he’s already laid bare beneath Byleth makes him self-conscious.

But Byleth seems overjoyed to partake in his body, stroking up his sides, kissing his chest, nipping at his neck, teasing his nipples. Dimitri is more than a little confused about what to do other than lay there and moan as he’s pampered.

“Can I touch you?” Byleth rasps, his eyes dark with need.

Dimitri swallows thickly. He can argue that Byleth has been touching him, but he knows exactly what he means. Too embarrassed to verbalize anything, he merely nods, his expression earnest.

When he feels Byleth’s hand, warm and firm, wrap around his cock, he tips his head back with a low moan, a shudder wracking his body. Byleth strokes him steadily, using the pre flowing copiously from his slit to slick his movements. They’ve barely done anything and he already feels close.

He looks up to watch Byleth, his breath taken away by the mix of focus and affection and lust on his usually stoic face. Letting out a rough gasp at a particularly talented stroke, Byleth’s calloused touch stimulating his sensitive tip, Dimitri screws his eye shut and tightens his fists in their sheets.

Byleth pleasures him further, using his other hand to massage his balls, leaning back down to lick and bite at one of his nipples.

Dimitri’s hips jerk out of reflex as he hurtles towards completion, sweat dripping from his brow.

“What do you want?” Byleth urges in a quiet voice.

“Ahh... You— I want you... I want... want to come inside you,” Dimitri groans, emboldened by need.

A lovely moan passes Byleth’s lips, as if he can’t resist imagining how it might feel, taking Dimitri deep inside him.

“You’d like that, wouldn’t you? Spreading me, filling me... making me yours,” Byleth whispers, speeding up his pace on Dimitri’s cock, tugging almost feverishly.

Dimitri can’t muster a reply more coherent than a low, desperate moan, his arousal aching and weeping in Byleth’s capable touch.

“Come for me, Dimitri,” Byleth all but demands, stroking his thumb against Dimitri’s slit and skillfully pumping him from tip to base.

Dimitri is helpless but to obey, gritting his teeth and letting out a strained groan as he releases in Byleth’s hand, dirtying his fingers. His head spins with the sheer bliss of it, the high of his orgasm lasting for the longest few seconds he’s ever experienced.

By the end of it, his chest rises and falls with heavy breaths, the look in his eye faraway yet satiated as he gazes up at Byleth.

Byleth leans in to kiss his forehead and then gently over his scarred eye.

“Dimitri...” he murmurs.

“Yes, my heart?” he answers, with devotion and reverence.

“I love you.”

“And I you, Byleth. Most fervently.”

Dimitri hopes to offer Byleth the same incredible pleasure, but Byleth is quick to lay down next to him, looking happy and content.

His expression must have betrayed his confusion because Byleth offers an explanation, “We have time.”

He nods and cuddles Byleth’s smaller frame closer to him.

Once upon a time, he wouldn’t have thought himself capable of any of this.

The violence of his strength he believed innate. His soul was ripped to shreds by the Tragedy of Duscur, his mind clawed at and torn by the voices of the dead. And his heart was blackened by revenge.

Even now, more than a year after everything has come to pass, he doesn’t know if a lifetime of atonement—five lifetimes, a hundred lifetimes—can make up for what he’s done. It is something he will take with him to his grave.

But when Byleth whispers his name in the quiet of their room, Byleth’s eyes soft and his mesmerizing smile softer still, Dimitri feels something sink into his chest... something warm, like sunbeams filtering through trees—comforting, gentle.

He caresses Byleth’s cheek.

He is healing.