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Survival of the Father

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He thought time would never feel this slow again. After the year of his wife’s death, Jeralt thought he would blink through time, only noticing the passage by how Byleth grows beside him. However, with his daughter dead missing, these past five years crawled by. During these years, he left the Church to look for his daughter’s body, finding work mostly in the villages that needed protection from brigands. He refused to join in this war, this hell that stole his child from him and acted as though his world hadn’t practically ended. However, he turns his horse back toward Garreg Mach on the days leading to what would have been the Millennium festival, if only to see the brats Byleth held so dear.

Arriving, Jeralt frowns at the bandits fleeing into the distance, how they screech about a demon’s return. Sighing, he slides off his horse’s back, patting the stallion on the neck, before climbing the damned steps once more. As he climbs, he hears the brats Byleth adored cheering about something, talking excitedly to each other. Arriving at the top of the steps, he stops in shock, his breath leaving him in a single exhale.

“By? Is that you, kid?” he calls. The woman jolts, turning and showing him that it is his daughter, his little fighter.

“Papa?” she calls back. Jeralt doesn’t even think about it, he strides up to her and pulls her into a hug, fighting back tears as he mumbles thanks to who or whatever looked after her. Byleth clings to him just as tightly, his shirt getting wet where her face meets the material. He wants to see if she’s crying (Goddess, he keeps making his daughter cry. He just hopes that it keeps being these happy tears instead of the sad ones after the assassin stabbed him), but part of him fears that if he lets her go that she’ll vanish into thin air. The brats look happy at them, smelling content and joyful, like he was feeling now that his daughter is back in his arms.

Re-establishing himself in the Captain’s quarters, Jeralt looks over all the information he and the brats have gathered about the war efforts. However, his brain is more focused on the Alpha shit circling his daughter like an over-eager vulture. Sniffing at her and staring after her when she leaves the room, it’s annoying and anger inducing to the older Alpha.

“Shit, I need a drink,” Jeralt groans, rubbing at his temples as a headache builds quickly behind his temples. There is a loud crash behind his door, followed by someone calling out an apology, making his headache worse.

“I need a lot of drinks,” he decides, turning from his flask to the bottle of whiskey he smuggled into the room.