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Low Rising

Chapter Text

Felix hasn’t seen Sylvain all day. Not like he hasn’t been looking. During dinner, his eyes scan the faces in the dining hall. Once, the sight of red hair makes his heart skip a beat, but when the person turns around, it’s only Ferdinand, who, much to Felix’s dismay, interprets the look on his face as an invitation to join him for a meal. Later, at the training ground, once his arms begin to ache so badly he can barely hold up his sword, he heads back toward the dormitories, to find that the door at the end of the hall has been left just slightly ajar.

With a deep breath, Felix raises a hand to knock, then changes his mind and pushes the door open. He finds Sylvain seated on his bed, feet on the ground, with the Lance of Ruin pulsating eerily in his lap. He is staring at the Lance, turning it over in his hands absently. Felix quietly clears his throat, and Sylvain finally looks up at him. His warm brown eyes are bloodshot and ringed with dark circles. Felix had never seen him look so weary, and the sight makes him want to weep.

“Sylvain-” Felix starts.

Sylvain smiles weakly at him. “Yeah, sure. Come on in.”

“I wanted to check-” Felix starts again.

“I’m fine,” Sylvain says. “Really. I just needed to-”

“You look like shit,” Felix scolds him. “Have you even slept?”

“Not since...not since Conand Tower.” Sylvain frowns. “Why are you here anyway, just to insult me?”

Felix huffs. “No. I just thought that if I don’t look after you, no one will.”

Sylvain looks back down at the Lance. “I can’t really believe it,” he says quietly. “After everything, everything he put me through, I shouldn’t mourn him. And yet -”

“It was an unfair way to go,” Felix says.

Sylvain nods. “I knew it was hard for him, always was. I never thought...I never could have even imagined…” He trails off.

Felix clears his throat. “I’m...sorry.” He wants to touch Sylvain so badly, to comfort him somehow. Instead, instead he jams both of his hands into his pockets so that they don’t betray him.

Sylvain continues. “I’ve been thinking - more than usual - about what would have happened if I had been the one born without a Crest. About how my life might have been different. Would I have grown up happy? Would my parents have disowned me like they did Miklan? Would I have met the same fate as he did?”

“Don’t talk like that,” Felix replies. Sylvain ignores him.

“My life could have been really different, Felix. I’ve always known that. And sometimes...sometimes I even wish for that. A life without this Crest, without this...expectation.” Sylvain sighs deeply.

Felix stays quiet. He’s never heard Sylvain talk this openly about his Crest before. Maybe to Mercedes, or Dorothea, but never to him. It feels like a privilege, but at the same time, it is tearing at his chest.

“There’s one thing I’m sure of, though,” Sylvain says. “If my circumstances had been different, I know that I would have-” His eyes meet Felix’s. “I would have still had you.”

Felix swallows. “What are you talking about?”

“We would have still been friends, because you wouldn’t have cared if I had a Crest or not. And even if I had gotten my hands on this weapon, right here, and it corrupted me, had transformed me into one of those...Black Beasts. If I ended up killing everyone I loved. You would have been right by my side through it all. Wouldn’t you, Felix?” Sylvain places the Lance on the ground, and stands to face Felix, regarding him carefully.

A palpable silence fills the air, and lingers like smoke.

“I thought so,” Sylvain says, quietly. 

For once, Felix doesn’t have a cutting remark, a sarcastic deflection. It’s the truth, and it makes him feel exposed, vulnerable. So he tries to change the subject.

“Have you eaten anything today?”

Sylvain shakes his head. “Well, come with me to the dining hall, then. There might be something left over from dinner.”

Sylvain smiles up at him. “See? You’re always looking out for me, aren’t you?”

Felix scoffs. “Well, if you die from hunger, then our class will be down a body on the battlefield, and I already cover for you enough as it is. Now come on.”

He takes a few steps towards Sylvain and holds out his hand. Sylvain takes it, and Felix is shocked by how soft it feels in his, so calloused and rough from all of those hours at the training grounds. They both stand there for a moment, hands clasped together, and Felix can feel his heart beating in his throat.

Suddenly, there is the sound of footsteps behind them. Felix whirls around to see Dimitri and the Professor standing in the doorway, looking concerned.

“I am sorry, I uh - I hope I am not interrupting,” Dimitri clears his throat.

Felix realizes he is still holding on to Sylvain’s hand, and lets go of it with a start.

“What is it, Professor?” Sylvain asks.

“It’s Flayn. She’s gone missing,” Byleth says, in her composed manner.

Felix and Sylvain exchange looks.

“We’ll help you search,” Sylvain says, stifling a yawn.

Dimitri looks concerned. “No, Sylvain, there is much on your mind right now. I believe you should think about getting some rest.”

“We have looked everywhere, rest assured.” Byleth says. “We just wanted to let you know, in case you had any ideas about where she might be.”

“Perhaps she eloped,” Sylvain quips. Felix glares at him.

Dimitri opens his mouth to speak, but is interrupted by the Professor.

“I’ll let you think about it,” Byleth says in a measured tone that might express disapproval, then again, might not.. “Rest assured, we will do everything in our power to find her as soon as possible.”

Felix nods, and just as suddenly as they arrived, the two are gone. He turns back to Sylvain with an exasperated look on his face.

“Of all the ridiculous things-” he starts.

“Relax. I was just trying to make you smile,” Sylvain says, with a wink.

Felix does relax, because as uncouth as he’s acting, it’s more like the old Sylvain. A Sylvain he doesn’t need to worry about.

“Let’s go get something to eat,” Felix turns on his heel and walks out of the room, knowing that Sylvain will be right behind him.

That night, Felix dreams of a giant, lumbering beast, holding Flayn in its talons. Felix is there as well, sword in his hands, shouting at the beast to let the girl go. With a swing of its mighty tail, the beast launches Felix into the air, and he plummets to the ground. As he struggles to get back on his feet, the beast approaches him and gives him a pleading look, its eyes weary.

“Please, end this suffering,” the beast begs.

With a powerful scream, Felix stands, raises his sword, and with one deft movement, plunges it through the beast’s belly. The beast staggers and falls to the stony ground, letting go of Flayn, who tumbles head over feet and lands in a pile of rubble. Felix scrambles over, not to Flayn, but to the beast, who is prostrate, breathing raggedly.

The beast raises its head, and it is Sylvain’s face looking back at him.

Dream-Felix lets out a wail that originates somewhere deep in his chest. Tears cut through the blood that stains his cheeks.

“Sylvain-” he pleads, reaching for the human-beast. “I’m so sorry. Please don’t die.”

The creature with Sylvain’s face just smiles, peacefully . “Felix. I knew it would be you. I’ve always been able to count on you.” He closes his eyes. “Thank you.”

The beast dies, and the real Felix wakes with a start, covered in sweat, his cheeks wet, and feeling as though he were the one stabbed through the belly. He does not sleep any more that night.

Over the coming weeks, everyone is preoccupied with Flayn’s disappearance, and trying to find out who has taken her. Accusations are hurled about, amongst the professors, the knights, and even the students. Byleth herself, despite her efforts to keep the peace, has to step in and prevent Caspar from hauling off and punching Lorenz in the middle of the dining hall over a comment from the latter regarding “good breeding.”

Around mid-moon, realizing the students are in desperate need of a distraction, Byleth arranges a mock battle with some of the Knights of Seiros. The day of the battle is a crisp and sunny day, and the Blue Lions are almost jovial as they head out to the field. Felix, as always, is bragging about how many knights he plans to fell, Ashe is feeling grateful for the opportunity to learn from such experienced fighters, and Annette and Ingrid are just looking forward to rewarding themselves with sweets later.

As the battle is about to begin, Byleth deploys Felix and Dimitri to the front lines, followed by Dedue, Ashe, and Sylvain. She keeps Ingrid, Mercedes, and Annette in the rear, and positions herself directly in the middle of her students. Other than that, she doesn’t need to give much more direction. After only a few moons of being their teacher, Byleth has learned where her students’ strengths and weaknesses lie, and how they best compliment one another.

Especially Sylvain and Felix. Off the battlefield, Sylvain acts careless, uninterested in training or studying. With a lance in his hand, however, he is quick to dodge and slash, somehow managing to find the weakest point on his opponent and taking them down almost effortlessly. The drawback is that he is only able to focus on one adversary at a time, whereas Felix seems to have eyes not only in the back of his head, but all over, and can spot an approaching enemy before they’ve even had time to plan their attack. Where Sylvain has strength, Felix has awareness and speed, and together, they are formidable.

Except for today. Sylvain has been distracted, and not by women, for a change. Byleth had hoped putting him on the battlefield would help him focus, but he is attacking at only a fraction of his usual might, and the Knights are landing blow after blow on him.

“Sylvain!” Felix yells, as he uses a Wrath Strike to take out the knees of the sword-wielding knight rushing at him. “What are you doing?! Pull yourself together before you get seriously hurt!”

“I’m trying-” Sylvain grunts as he dodges an axe blow that comes perilously close to his head. “These knights aren’t taking it easy on us!” He strikes with his lance, hitting the knight square in the chest and toppling them over.

Felix rushes to fill the space where the knight previously stood, standing with his back to Sylvain and scanning the field for incoming foes. “And the real enemies? The ones who kidnapped Flayn? Will they go easy on us?” he spits.

“It’s a mock battle, Felix. No one’s going to die. You need to relax,” Sylvain turns to face him, just as another knight emerges from the bushes behind him and strikes Sylvain right between the shoulders. He crumples to the ground and doesn’t move.

“Sylvain!” Felix howls, brandishing his sword. “Goddammit, Sylvain!” He strikes again and again, until the knight has gone down. Then, with one hand, he deftly hoists Sylvain up over his shoulder and takes off across the field, slashing haphazardly with his sword hand as he does so. Byleth notices, and sprints after them, yelling for Mercedes to follow.

Felix comes to a halt beneath a large oak tree and gently sets Sylvain down, fumbling to remove his chest armor. He is in such a panic that he doesn’t notice Sylvain slowly stirring and his eyes fluttering open, and it isn’t until he begins to cough violently that Felix finally stops what he’s doing and inhales sharply.

“Sylvain, you’re...are you okay?” he gasps.

Sylvain groans in response.

“Are you hurt? Sylvain...Mercedes, where are you, damn it!”

As if on cue, Mercedes appears behind Felix and readies a Healing spell. Sylvain’s eyes widen and he sputters out a protest.

“No, no, ‘m good,” he says. “Just...knocked the wind out of me, ‘s’all.”

“Are you sure, Sylvain?” Mercedes asks gently. “That looked like a really bad hit!”

Sylvain coughs again, and Felix reaches out to lift his head from the ground. “Can we get some water, please?” he asks, with desperation at the edges of his voice.

Byleth has been standing off to the side, and she steps forward, handing Felix a small canteen. He looks at her with such gratitude, she can’t help but smile a little. Felix uncaps the canteen and lifts it gently to Sylvain’s lips, and Sylvain takes a few small sips and lets out a breath.

“You’re okay, Sylvain,” Byleth says. “I saw the whole thing, and I plan to speak with that particular knight about his tactics.”

“No, please,” Sylvain says. “It’s my fault, I wasn’t paying enough attention to my surroundings.”

Felix’s expression shifts from concern to annoyance almost immediately. “No, you weren’t, you fool,” he scolds. “Were that a real battle, you would be dead right now.”

“Lucky I had you to save me,” Sylvain quips.

Felix lets forth a string of expletives as he gets to his feet, and without another word, turns and leaves the field.

Byleth shoots Sylvain a look, and for once, there is a hint of remorse on his face.

“I’ll go,” Byleth says. “Mercedes, please escort Sylvain to the infirmary.”

“Professor, please, I don’t-” Sylvain starts, but the Professor shakes her head firmly.

“Not an option,” she says, and turns on her heel. She signals to the knights that the battle has concluded, and calls to Dimitri to round up the rest of the Lions. With that, she hurries after Felix.