Edelgard knew no one would believe her if she was to tell them that Hubert von Vestra did not like to be alone. Not in a romantic sense, but simply that he often required the presence of another human being. He also would never admit to this. She puzzled over this bizarre contradiction of a man as he sat at her writing desk metaphorically pulling his hair out over a letter. He'd done this before. Not the letter writing, but simply coming into her room with little to no explanation and silently working through whatever it was that was vexing him. She'd gotten used to it over the years.
"Care to tell me what has you so concerned?"
Hubert crumpled up the parchment and threw it over his shoulder to join its previously discarded brethren. He did not respond.
"Very well," she said, approaching the pile. "I'll just have to see for myself."
He froze. He whipped his head around to look at her, his face panicked. "Wait, Lady Edelgard, I-"
Too late. She already held an uncrumpled letter in her hand. "Dear...Ferdinand? Hubert are you..." she read more of the letter. "You are. Hubert, is this a love letter?"
"It is none of your concern."
"It most certainly is! You both are my most trusted advisors! How long has this been going on?" She gasped. "Is this why I found him drinking coffee?"
"Nothing is going on. Not..." he blushed and turned back to his page. 'Not yet. I am doubtful it ever will."
"I am pleased you both have been getting along more as of late. You used to hate each other. I honestly thought he'd turn up 'accidently' dead one day."
"He is a capable person who I initially misjudged."
She sat on the edge of her bed. "I think we all did. So. When did he catch your fancy?"
Hubert knew exactly when. It was when his fantasies about pinning him to a wall to slit his throat turned to kissing him instead and his imagining Ferdinand begging for his life became him begging for something entirely different. He remembered laying awake in bed, eyes wide, unable to sleep for hours. He shook his head. "It's hard to say. One day he just...looked different than he had before and I was pleased to see him. That feeling has not left me since."
"You should put that in your letter."
He shook his head. "No, I cannot."
"Why not? What are you trying to tell him?”
Hubert groaned. "I'm not even sure anymore. He frustrates me. I finally get the nerve to tell him how I feel about him and he calls it unsettling. He then immediately requested it in writing."
"Did you do that thing that you do?" She asked as she looked through his discarded drafts.
"I’m not sure what you mean."
"Your compliments are hardly...warm. They're sincere and I do love that you're giving them to more people than just me but honestly, Hubert,” she held one his letters up so he could see it. “You addressed this one "To Whom It May Concern""
He frowned. "...it concerns him."
She smiled gently as she watched him return to his work. She stood behind him and placed her hand gently on his shoulder. "He means a lot to you, doesn't he?"
"Then tell him as much. It shouldn’t be so hard. Pick something about him you like and go from there.”
“You’re right, as always, Lady Edelgard. Thank you.”
Once his letter was completed, Hubert left Edelgard’s room and headed toward Ferdinand’s. His heart pounded harder with each step closer. He wasn’t sure how Ferdinand would even react to his letter. Would he like it? Laugh at it? Give an awkward smile and thanks? Oh his smile. Not an awkward one, but Ferdinand’s pure, genuine smile. It used to annoy Hubert to the point of wanting to punch it off of his stupid face, never mind the fact that Ferdinand could take him easily in a physical fight. Now he couldn’t stop looking away from it.
He stared at Ferdinand’s door as he arrived. He raised his fist to knock but stopped just short of doing so. He swallowed hard. He couldn’t do it. He couldn’t face Ferdinand with his heart on his sleeve, or rather in writing. He looked down at the letter in his hand and back to the door. He thought about incinerating the letter in his hand. No one would see it. No one would have to read it. Most importantly, he could easily lie to Edelgard about having delivered it and pass it off as Ferdinand being disinterested in anything but their newfound friendship. All problems solved. Who was he kidding? She’d see right through that. Still, he felt he couldn’t look Ferdinand in the eyes. There was only one solution. He took a deep breath, slid the letter under Ferdinand’s door and took off down the hallway towards his, eternally thankful he was only a few doors down.
The next morning, as every morning, Hubert accompanied Edelgard to the dining hall for breakfast. Normally he had some bread with his coffee, but today he didn’t feel he could stomach it. The bread. Not the coffee. He needed the coffee.
“Well someone looks pleased,” Edelgard mentioned as she nodded her toward Ferdinand, who had just entered the hall.
Hubert’s breath caught in his throat. There was Ferdinand, smiling broadly and walking with his head held high. He caught Hubert’s eye and his grin grew. He waved as he approached them. "Edelgard, Hubert, good morning," Ferdinand greeted, his voice as bright as his smile.
"To you as well, Prime Minister. You seem in good spirits today."
Hubert simply nodded in his direction. He couldn't bring himself to say a word, though Ferdinand’s chipper mood was typical, Hubert couldn't be sure of if it was due to his letter or not.
"I am.” He sat across from them. “You will not believe it. The most wonderful-" He stopped as his gaze went past Edelgard's shoulder. "Dorothea!" he waved her over. "Please, join us. You will want to hear this."
The songstress excused herself from the people she was with and sat next to Ferdinand. "Well good morning to you all as well. Edie," she smirked in Edelgard's direction and Hubert swore she blushed mildly. "What has you so excited, Ferdie?"
Ferdinand reached into his breast pocket and produced an envelope. "I have received a letter."
Hubert froze and tried not to choke on his coffee. Ferdinand was going to show everyone? Didn't he understand Hubert was a man who kept his personal affairs as personal as he could? He calmed as Edelgard discreetly placed her hand gently on his thigh, shooting him a quick look. It spoke volumes and he'd seen it before. A simple look that told him all would be fine. She quickly shifted her gaze to Ferdinand. "Good news I hope."
"Ah, yes, well, I think it is good.” His cheeks turned lightly red as he looked at the envelope. “I, Ferdinand von Aegir, have an admirer."
Hubert wanted to sink slowly into the ground and disappear forever. Instead he remained still, and silent, thankful of his ability to maintain a stoic calm under the utmost pressure.
"Oh, Ferdie, that's wonderful. Who is it?"
"I have no idea!" he responded, beaming.
"What!?" Edelgard and Hubert exclaimed in unison.
Ferdinand laughed. "I know! A secret admirer. Romantic, is it not?"
"Oh, how exciting!” Dorothea said, clapping in delight. “What does it say?"
"Allow me to read it! Dearest Fer-"
"That is not necessary," Hubert interrupted and quickly found all eyes upon him. "Surely you would save us from such sickening frivolities."
Ferdinand laughed. "Hubert, please. It's fairly short."
Dorothea waved him off. "Come on, Hubie, let him have this."
Hubert exhaled from his nose. “If you must.”
Seeing you is the brightest part of my day. I cannot tell if you notice me or how I cannot help but watch you the moment you enter into a room. I find myself in awe of your brilliant radiance as if I have seen the sun take human form. I never wish to look away.”
With every word Hubert slumped further into his chair. He should have incinerated it. How could he even think to write something so utterly embarrassing? He looked over to Edelgard next to him who was very clearly trying not to laugh.
“And that is it!” Ferdinand said as he folded the letter and tucked it safely back in its envelope. “No signature, no hints at all as to who it may be from.” He sighed and smiled as he rested his chin on his hands. “I really wish I knew who it was so I may properly thank them.”
Dorothea elbowed him in the side. “And just how would you do that, Ferdie? Just say thanks and a friendly handshake?”
He chuckled and tucked his hair behind his ear as he blushed. “In all honesty, I would probably kiss them.”
Hubert felt as if his face was on fire. Edelgard kicked him under the table and he scrambled to sit up straight. “Say something!” she whispered harshly to him.
Hubert nodded and cleared his throat. “Ferdinand, I… “
Ferdinand gasped and reached across the table to grasp Hubert’s hands, his long hair cascading in front of his shoulder. “Hubert, you are brilliant!”
He nodded, enthusiastically. “Of course! Who better to find someone than the Emperor’s own spymaster! You will help me, will you not? It certainly will not be a difficult task for a man of your talents.”
Hubert scoffed. “My targets typically wind up dead, I’ll have you know.”
Ferdinand laughed. “Oh, you terrible man, how I hate you.” Hubert smiled at that. The phrase had become common from Ferdinand recently, developed as a playful jab in response to anyone questioning their newfound friendship. It quickly became the primary way Ferdinand expressed his friendly affection. Hubert found it endearing and often shot back how much he hated him in return. “You will not kill this particular target.” He looked over at Edelgard. “I assume the Emperor does not mind me using the Minister of the Imperial Household in such a manner?”
“Far from it, Prime Minister. Use him as you see fit,” she responded with a mischievous smile on her face. Dorothea could not contain her laughter.
Hubert, very certain his face was as red as the Empire’s banner, simply nodded. “Very well. I shall report to you any findings.”
Ferdinand nodded and stood. “Thank you. I shall begin my search as well.”
Dorothea stood and linked her arm with Ferdinand’s. “I think I’ll come with you, Ferdie. Maybe I can help too.”
Hubert and Edelgard sat in silence after Dorothea and Ferdinand left. Edelgard sipped at her tea. “That letter was terrible.”
“I am aware,” he said with a nod.
"You also forgot to sign it."
"So it would seem."
"You agreed to help him find his 'secret admirer."
"I fear I did, yes."
She set her teacup down on its saucer with a gentle clink. "You could resolve this simply, you know."
"It is not simple."
"It very much is. Tell him before you get in too far."
"It would break his heart. Do you see how happy he is?” Hubert rested his chin on the back of his hand as he watched Ferdinand flit around showing off his letter to anyone who would listen. He couldn’t help but smile. “It’s cute.”
“Cute, hm? Never thought I would hear you say that word.”
“There isn’t a better one. Either way, I can’t ruin this.”
“What do you intend to do?”
He leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms. “I suppose keep writing. He’ll figure it out eventually.”
“And if he doesn’t?”
“Then I’ll have said all I’ve needed to say and will have gotten away with it.”
“Ferdinand is right. You are terrible.”