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and all of this devotion was rushing out of me

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It was late in the evening when Hubert finally arrived at the doors of Edelgard’s bedchambers.

He didn’t know why he had been summoned there, but the instructions his lady’s wife gave him that morning were fresh in his mind. 

“Edelgard wants you to come to our room tonight.”

The request had been a simple one, yet it prickled at Hubert’s conscience throughout the day. The issue wasn’t the request itself, of course. The Minister of the Imperial Household would do anything for Edelgard. It was rather… the implications. Though he had known and served the emperor since she was a small child, he hadn’t ever been invited into her chambers. 

What could it be for?

Hubert frowned, bringing his hand up to stroke his chin. Edelgard might have been standing slightly closer to him over the past few weeks, or smiling at him a little more than usual. One time, he swore he even heard her talking to Byleth about him over tea in the Imperial gardens, though he couldn’t catch what the two of them had said through the thickets of rose-bushes. He knew that the emperor always valued his company, but something had clearly changed with the way she acted around him. 

Or maybe it was just him projecting deep-seated feelings onto her. Every now and then, Hubert’s affections for Edelgard would resurface, gently grazing his heart. Yet, he had long accepted that the emperor had given her own heart to Byleth, much as she had been honored by his quiet confession during the war.

His lady was happy and safe. In the end, that was what really mattered to him. 

Hubert folded his arms behind his back and continued to stand by the doors, eerily still. A moment later, the shadowy man heard a small creak. He turned, and found Byleth’s gaze peering back through the opening between both doors. Her eyes widened slightly when they met his, and she gave him her distinctive subtle smile.

“Come in.”

The opening grew wider with another creak, and with a gentle sweep of the arm, the minister was beckoned inside by the empress.

As Byleth stepped back to shut the door, Hubert took his first look around Edelgard’s bedroom.

It was a vast, ornate space - one certainly fit for the emperor of Fódlan. Two additional doorways stood on the northern and eastern sides of the room, which Hubert assumed led to Edelgard’s boudoir and private bathroom. On the floor lay a beautiful Almyran rug; a gift from Claude von Riegan to celebrate the newly founded alliance between Fódlan and Almyra. Around the space was an ornate set of stained wooden furniture; a writing desk, a chest of drawers and several complementing chairs. Carnation vases, historical records and stuffed animals were arranged around the room; the flowers in perfect rows, the books and toys in neat little piles.

Most impressive of all was the grand canopy bed at the western side of the room, carved from the same beautiful wood as the other furnishings. Sweeping crimson curtains hung over an elaborate headboard engraved with flowers and the sigil of the Adrestian Empire. Propped against the headboard was a tower of the softest silk pillows in Fódlan.

On top of the bed lay Edelgard, clothed in her nightgown. Her hair, released from her tight buns, pooled down onto the sheets beneath. Her hands were folded neatly across her lap, hidden by frilly sleeves. Catching sight of her retainer, she sat up and welcomed him with a gentle smile.

Byleth returned and sat herself on the edge of the bed. She gave the duvet an inviting pat.

“You can rest with us, if you’d like,” Edelgard said softly. 

Hubert had never idled with his lady before. He frowned. There was no doubt now that his emperor had something on her mind. 

Noticing the minister’s hesitation, Byleth added, “El’s serious. Come on over.”

Sighing, Hubert carefully perched himself beside Byleth on the bed. As he adjusted his seat and unbuckled his boots, Byleth kicked off her own shoes, before sliding over besides Edelgard. The empress gently folded the emperor in her arms, pressing a soft kiss to her temple. Hubert couldn’t hear what the former mercenary murmured afterwards, but he assumed it was something affectionate. 

Then, Edelgard coughed, and she immediately had her vassal’s attention. 

“I apologize for the… unusual nature of this meeting,” she said, giving Hubert a mildly embarrassed smile. “I know how important your work is to you.”

“Not at all,” Hubert replied. “This is no inconvenience.” You are no inconvenience, he added inwardly.

At his response, Edelgard looked away for a moment and… blushed? No, it must’ve been a trick of the candle-light. 

There was a pause. The emperor turned her gaze back. When she next spoke, her words were tinged with a gentle fondness.

“Hubert, do you remember when I asked you if you had... romantic feelings for someone?”

Hubert’s heart jumped, but his expression did not change. 

“Yes, I do.”

Another pause. Then...

“Do you still feel the way you did back then?”

Hubert froze. Not wishing to deny his lady her answer, he replied automatically.

“Why do you ask, Lady Edelgard?”

“I…” Edelgard trailed off. 

The emperor stopped, took a deep breath, then slowly started again. “I was wondering if we could… work out an arrangement together.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well…”

The tips of Edelgard’s ears turned red. Noticing this, Byleth turned to Hubert.

“I think El has romantic feelings for you too,” the empress finished for her spouse. She gave Edelgard a small squeeze, and the emperor nodded.

“Yes,” Edelgard frowned. “As you know, I trust you very, very deeply. You’ve shown your devotion to me far more than anyone else I know.”

Byleth gave her wife a withering look. 

“Anyone else I know, besides my wife,” the emperor corrected herself, sighing. “Though you still have the upper hand in terms of how long you’ve known me. But I digress.” 

Edelgard paused once more, and turned her gaze to meet Hubert’s. Her eyes shone with a beautiful, hidden passion that her vassal knew all too well.

“What I’m trying to say is… I don’t just need Byleth. I need you, too.”

As Edelgard nervously clasped and unclasped her hands under the soft sleeves of her nightgown, Hubert remained speechless. That little part of his heart was happy that his feelings were mutual, but he was nothing but overwhelmed by her sudden confession.

A flurry of questions raced through his mind. How would this arrangement work? Did the empress mind all of this? Was he to be a consort to her?

Noticing the subtle hints of conflict in her retainer’s expression, Edelgard started again. 

“I can tell that you have a lot of questions, Hubert. But I invited you here so that I could give you a... thorough explanation of my feelings.”

Still overwhelmed, Hubert nodded silently. His lady was nothing but thorough. 

Edelgard cleared her throat once again, and continued.

“As you know, I am no advocate for maintaining tradition. I will make myself clear: this will not be a relationship between emperor and consort. I wish for a bond like that between my wife and I, legal arrangements aside.”

Edelgard turned to Byleth, and nodded for her to carry the discussion onward. Byleth nodded back, and spoke.

“Remember when you told me that we’d be ‘a couplet of birds, flying along the sovereign of black eagles’?”

Hubert nodded again. Internally, he winced: the description was rather... cloying in retrospect. 

“That’s basically what the relationship would be like,” Byleth said. “I don’t really have... those feelings for you like she does. But I do trust you a lot. Especially with El.”

The empress paused, and then said more softly, “And El wants to be there for you too, if you’ll let her.”

Hubert was at even more of a loss for words than before.

Should he nod? No, that would be too simple. 

Should he smile? No, that would be too on the nose.

Should he thank his lady for her kindness towards him? Why would he need to thank her for something she had wanted? 

He might as well be honest with her.

“Lady Edelgard… to say that I am touched by all of this would be a grave understatement. I simply... don’t know what would be an appropriate response to such generosity.”

“I don’t mind how you respond,” Edelgard smiled. “I did say that I trusted you, did I not?”

Hubert nodded. “Indeed you did.”

“Then, Hubert,” continued the emperor. “Let me know how you feel.”

Hubert closed his eyes, and took a deep breath.

“When we had that conversation during the war, I didn’t know what your impression was of my… feelings for you. Granted, you never pushed me away, but you announced your union with Byleth as soon as the war had ended. Because of that, I assumed that you had wanted a romantic companionship with her alone. So, to tell me all of this now is rather… surprising.”

Edelgard gently shook her head. 

“I apologize for that, Hubert. I’ve never been the best at expressing my own feelings.”

Hubert had to agree, though he would never say it to his lady’s face. As much as she could rouse inspiring rallies and give powerful political speeches, the emperor was remarkably dense when it came to her own emotions.

Byleth groaned, interrupting the silence that had once again returned after their confessions. “I don’t think this is going anywhere,” she said with a small frown. “What’s the verdict, Hubert?”

As if on impulse, Hubert gave his final answer.

“Lady Edelgard,” he said, his voice quavering ever-so slightly. “I would be honored to share my life with you.”

He turned to Byleth. “And with you too. But not in that way, of course.”

Byleth chuckled, and Edelgard’s expression softened. Her eyes glistened, and she tilted her head downwards.

“I appreciate it,” she muttered softly. “This feeling is... overwhelming.”

Noticing how her wife’s voice began to tighten, Byleth gave Edelgard another squeeze. 

“I’m sorry,” Edelgard mumbled, drying her tears with one of her sleeves. “I know this is so unlike me, but…”

“It’s alright,” Byleth whispered, kissing her temple.“It’s just the three of us, El.”

The emperor drew a shaky breath, and composed herself. Slowly, she looked up to face Hubert again. 

“...There’s actually another request I would like to ask of you.”

The minister smiled, “And that is?”

Again, Edelgard’s ears turned pink. 

“If you see it fit… would you spend the night with me?”

Hubert went still.

“In... what sense?”

The emperor coughed, gaze averted and cheeks dusted with a glowing blush. 

“Interpret it as you will. I don’t really know what I have in mind either. But... I would appreciate your company.”

“Of course,” she quickly added, “If you must occupy yourself with other things, do not let me restrain you. I was just…”

But before Edelgard could finish, she felt the soft press of her retainer’s lips against her own, and the velvety fabric of his glove against her cheek.

“My lady,” Hubert murmured. “I’d be more than happy to spend the night with you.”

Edelgard froze at the contact. A small smile bloomed on her face, and she leaned forward to return her vassal’s gesture. The emperor cupped Hubert’s face, and he could feel the plush cotton of her sleeves stroke against his own jaw. The minister brought his other hand to the back of his lady’s head, running his fingers through her bone-white locks.

Hubert couldn’t help but notice the silkiness of her tresses, and wondered if it was her subtle act of defiance against those people.

He remembered when he had reunited with Edelgard after their vile experiments. How she had run her fingers through what little remained of her hair. How she had tugged at the ends of her gloves, hoping he wouldn’t see their handiwork on her. How she had always looked away from him. 

Ever since that day, he had vowed to always keep his liege safe. Not out of his duty to her as a Vestra, but out of his own free will. 

He would not fail her again.

A flurry of emotions swelled inside of Hubert’s heart, compelling him to press more gentle kisses to his lady’s lips. 

She deserved this. More than anyone, she deserved to know happiness.

Hubert heard the nearby rustle of sheets on the bed. Byleth had seated herself right behind Edelgard.

“El,” the empress murmured, gently raising her arms around the smaller woman. “May I?”

The emperor smiled, and nodded. With a quiet hum, Byleth wrapped herself around Edelgard’s waist. Then, Byleth spoke again.

“Is this okay, Hubert?”

“I don’t mind,” the minister said. “We’re both supporting Lady Edelgard, are we not?”

“Yeah,” Byleth answered, before nuzzling her face into the crook of her wife’s neck. “Oh, you don’t have to stop kissing her,” she added.

Edelgard nodded in agreement, before closing the distance between her and Hubert once again. Her vassal relaxed, and soon, they were back in their previous position.

For the next few moments, Hubert and Edelgard simply enjoyed each other’s presence in this new way. There were faint touches, warm gazes and little hints of blush graced both of their pale cheeks. Throughout all this, Byleth gently held her wife from behind, nestling into her soft warmth.

At once, Edelgard ventured further, beginning to trail her kisses down Hubert’s cheek to the hollow of his throat. Hubert’s eyes widened at the bold gesture, but quickly eased into it, letting out the smallest of purrs. At the noise, the minister felt Edelgard smile against his skin, and he fell in love with her all over again.

Not wanting to be outmatched, Byleth leaned up to kiss at the sliver of Edelgard’s throat uncovered by her nightgown. The emperor gasped quietly at the contact, but continued to focus her attentions on Hubert. The empress frowned at her wife’s underwhelming response. She’d have to get more daring.

Trailing her hands upwards, Byleth gently cupped her wife’s breasts through the soft fabric. Edelgard shivered, and the former mercenary took that as a cue to lean further upwards, lips reaching the shell of the smaller woman’s ear. 

“Is this good?” Byleth whispered, her breath hot against Edelgard’s skin.

The emperor nodded. “Yes,” she whispered. 

An idea suddenly dawned on the smaller woman. 

“Hubert,” Edelgard said softly. “Would you be alright with watching Byleth... tend to me tonight?”

The minister’s heartbeat grew even quicker, but he maintained his characteristic sangfroid. “I would be honored, my lady.”

The emperor turned to her spouse. “Is that alright with you, my love? 

In response, Byleth scooped up Edelgard to gently settle her onto her lap. “Yeah,” she mumbled, pressing a bevy of kisses to her temple. 

Edelgard beamed, and Hubert could only gaze as the emperor leaned back into her wife’s warmth. Byleth gave her that subtle smile, and trailed her hands back up over the emperor’s chest. The empress’s calloused fingers ghosted the peaks of Edelgard’s breasts, soon settling into gentle, rhythmic kneading over the velvety cloth. 

The smaller woman shuddered, and Byleth felt the peaks quickly harden under the pads of her fingertips. She cooed at her wife’s sensitivity, and continued to give them special attention. 

As the empress’s ministrations grew more and more intense, Hubert watched as Edelgard began to unwind. From his vantage point, the minister noticed things that were out of Byleth’s view; how much his lady trembled, the way her cheeks and neck flushed with pinkening arousal… and her voice. He never knew someone’s gasps and moans could be so enchanting. From this alone, he felt the room grow warmer.

The empress went further still. One of her hands gently glided down Edelgard’s body, the other still preoccupied with her chest. With a lick of her lips, the former mercenary brought her fingers to the skirt of her nightgown, and began pulling at the hem. 

“My love,” the emperor quietly panted, “Are you going to...?”

“Yeah,” Byleth murmured, before hiking the soft material up to rest on her knees. Edelgard hummed in response, and parted her stocking-clad legs so that her wife could have better access underneath.

Edelgard’s gaze returned to Hubert.

“Hubert,” she breathed. “Please kiss me again.”

At her request, the room set ablaze for Hubert. He tentatively closed the gap between him and his lady, brushing his lips against hers once more. Edelgard pushed back with a satisfied moan, deepening their kiss.

As emperor and vassal kissed, Byleth snuck her hand underneath the soft cloth of her spouse’s nightgown. The empress brushed the tips of her fingers up the inside of one of Edelgard’s legs, feeling the warmth of her body underneath all of that clothing. 

Not wanting to be outmatched, Hubert slowly brought one of his own glove-clad hands down to wander underneath the emperor’s nightgown. He tentatively trailed it up the inside of her other leg, eventually resting it opposite Byleth’s hand at the join between hip and thigh. The gesture earned him a soft gasp against his lips.

Yet for all of his earlier boldness, Hubert was at a loss for what to do next. For the first time in his life, he felt woefully underprepared.

Noticing his hesitation, Byleth spoke. “Is something wrong?”

Hubert averted his gaze and shook his head. “No. I’m quite alrigh-”

“You’re hesitating,” the empress cut in. “Usually, you’re more thorough.”

Hubert winced. Trying to hide his feelings from a woman as perceptive as Byleth Eisner was a fool’s errand. 

“Hubert,” Edelgard continued. “If you’re nervous, you can just tell me.”

“I’m not nervous,” the minister frowned. For someone who had built his entire reputation on his cool, ruthless exterior, confessing his occasional hesitations to his liege was incredibly humiliating. “I just…”

“You don’t know what to do next,” Byleth finished. 

Hubert nodded. “Yes.”

“That’s alright,” the empress smiled. “I wasn’t expecting you to.”

“You… weren’t?”

“Yeah,” Byleth said. “You’re so busy all the time, so we didn’t think you’d have time for… this stuff.”

Hubert nodded again. The minister hated to admit it, but his former professor was right again. He was so dedicated to prioritizing Edelgard’s safety that he never explored his own desires.

“If it helps,” Edelgard added. “I can reframe it a little for you.”

“How so?”

The emperor leaned forward ever-so-slightly. 

“I’ve just given you my heart,” the emperor murmured. “What we’re doing right now is one way you can preserve it. Just like you’ve protected me.” 

“I see,” Hubert said. “In that case, I will do my utmost.”

“Knowing you as well as I do,” Edelgard smiled. “I think you’ll enjoy this too.”

Hubert gave his lady a small smile back. 

Then, he looked down, and immediately remembered the business he had left unattended to. “Lady Edelgard, I apologize for the interruption-”

“It’s not an issue,” Edelgard said with a wave of her sleeve-covered hand. “We all got sidetracked.”

“Do you want me to help?” Byleth offered. “I can tell you what El likes.”

Hubert blushed faintly at the thought. “I suppose I still have a few things to learn from my old professor,” he chuckled. “Shall we?”

Byleth hummed in agreement, and let Edelgard lean back against her once more. The former mercenary then resumed where she left off; teasing the emperor’s slowly-softening peaks to hardness again with her one uncovered hand. At this touch, the smaller woman let out a sweet cry. 

Hubert swallowed hard at the noise. Taking care not to bump Byleth’s other hand, he began to cautiously rub his hand against the small window of skin uncovered by Edelgard’s stockings. At this new touch, Edelgard quietly gasped the minister’s name. Suddenly, Hubert felt the room simmer with heat again.

“Yeah, just like that,” Byleth commented. “Keep going.”

The minister nodded, and gently traced his fingers over the bumps and ridges scattered across the emperor’s skin. As he did, he leaned forward to pepper soft kisses across Edelgard’s cheek.

Byleth’s hand reached down to take his own and guide it to warm, damp fabric. Edelgard whimpered at the contact. Hubert felt that wetness press against his gloved fingers, dousing their tips in what he now realised was his emperor’s arousal. 

“Could you…?” the emperor whispered.

Immediately understanding what Edelgard wanted him to do, Hubert’s blush grew even deeper.

“Okay, Hubert,” Byleth said. “Bear with me.” 

Once more, the empress’ hand guided Hubert’s. He felt her hand slip his own underneath the silky fabric, trailing past soft curls to settle onto wet lips. 

“Now,” Byleth instructed. “El, tell Hubert what you want.”

“Please…” the smaller woman breathed. “Please use your fingers.”

Achingly slow, Hubert pushed a finger in, up to the first knuckle. Edelgard shuddered and quietly gasped at the contact; and for a second, the minister was afraid that he had hurt her. The subsequent rock of his lady’s hips and the flush on her face soon told him otherwise.

Observing Hubert’s technique and Edelgard’s reactions, Byleth encouraged him further, “You can add more.”

His emperor nodded in agreement, “Go ahead.”

Hubert tentatively slipped in a second finger, eliciting another shudder from her. He paused again; as if to check whether he was experiencing an uncannily vivid dream. Then, he moved his fingers in and out of Edelgard. With each gentle thrust, his glove grew damper, and from that alone, he knew everything was real. 

“That’s good,” the empress smiled. “You’re doing a good job, Hubert.” She brought her own hand down to press on Edelgard’s clit. “As are you, my love,” she murmured.

Hubert could see how overwhelmed the emperor was. How she pressed herself against his fingers, how her back arched, how her body quivered, how she whimpered both of their names over and over as she draped her arms on his shoulders and pressed up against Byleth. Though he dared not show it, he felt an indescribable, yet familiar emotion well up inside of him. One that made itself known in those few moments he saw Edelgard laugh, or smile, or at peace.

The minister certainly had no faith in the goddess. 

But goddess, his emperor was so beautiful. 

A sudden jolt of desire compelled Hubert to move his fingers faster. His strokes grew more intense, and he leaned forward to bestow dutiful kisses on his emperor; on her cheeks, her jaw, that small sliver of neck, and her soft, pretty lips. 

Idly, he felt Byleth’s hand graze against his in concert, her calloused fingers rubbing quick circles into the sensitive, hard nub above. He could hear her murmuring to Edelgard as she continued to play with the peaks of her breasts. Whatever words the empress had murmured, they finally pushed his lady over the edge. 

Hubert could only watch as Edelgard came with a ragged cry, every muscle in her body tensing up. Her climax was over in a matter of seconds, but the image of his emperor, overcome with pleasure, would forever be seared in his mind. She collapsed against Hubert, trembling and panting, and he couldn’t help but notice how drenched his glove-clad hand was with her arousal. 

Carefully, he slipped his fingers out of his lady, causing her to softly shudder. His clean hand soon made its way to her hair once more, combing fingers through the silky strands. As the smaller woman’s breaths ebbed back to a peaceful calm, Hubert pressed a soft kiss to the crown of her head. 

For the first time in a long while, he felt at ease with himself. The content smile on his emperor’s face only made that feeling stronger. He was glad he could make her happy in this way.

Suddenly, Hubert felt a pair of hands wrap around him, pulling both him and Edelgard closer together. Slowly, he looked up, and realized that Byleth was embracing the both of them. Her face was nuzzled into Edelgard’s neck, lips pressing languid kisses to the skin as before. 

Though he’d never say it out loud, the minister wanted to stay like this. He remembered how often he had been told to rest by the other members of the Strike Force. Too often, he ignored their concerns, deeming rest unnecessary in favor of helping his emperor achieve her ambitions.

Now that her rule had become stable and prosperous, he began to truly appreciate the few moments of rest that had begun to appear for him. This was one of those moments.

A quiet cough broke the comfortable silence, and his lady had his attention once again. Edelgard had fully recovered from her climax, but the apparent heaviness of her eyelids told Hubert that sleep was beginning to take its hold on her. He gave her hair another soothing stroke, earning himself a comforted hum from his liege.

Hubert then looked to Byleth. To his surprise, the empress had fallen asleep, still nuzzled against his emperor’s neck. He was pretty certain he spied the beginnings of a trail of drool there, but Edelgard didn’t seem to mind.

Since his emperor and her wife were drifting off, Hubert figured he’d put them both to bed. Carefully, he pulled at the velvety blankets underneath Edelgard and Byleth, ensuring not to move the sleepy pair. Then, he gently draped the blankets over the two women. 

The minister’s task here was finished. He began to make his way to the entrance of his lady’s bedchambers. 

A tug on his coat stopped him short. He turned around, and found Edelgard’s hand clinging to the fabric. She was strong enough to keep him still with only of one of her arms. 

“When I said you could spend the night with me,” his emperor murmured, smiling. “I meant it.”

Hubert paused. At his emperor’s behest, it wouldn’t hurt to rest a little longer. Slowly, he shucked off his coat, letting it pool onto the carpeted floor. He carefully slipped underneath the blankets, and settled right beside Edelgard.

As soon as he joined her, the minister felt his emperor wrap her arms around him, languidly pulling him into an embrace once more. He wasn’t used to being touched, and from how painstaking Edelgard’s gesture was, he figured that she wasn’t either. Deep down, he relished in her comfortable warmth, and how it made him, too, slowly sink into slumber. 

Before Hubert fell asleep, he peeled off his gloves and wrapped his arms around his liege. Briefly touching her waist, his hands grazed another pair, belonging to Byleth. At some point in her slumber, the empress had rolled over and wrapped herself around Edelgard in a protective hug. Indeed, as the minister had suspected, she continued to drool. He sighed as he thought about the messes they’d have to clean up the next morning, dribble included.

Hubert wasn’t sure what would happen next in this new arrangement between him, his emperor and her wife. He knew the three of them still had many challenges to face, whether from matters of the throne to those of the heart. For now, though, he was content with resting with the imperial couple, making sure that the both of them enjoyed their peaceful slumber. 

He was sure that they wished the same for him.