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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.

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Claude had been walking calmly down the hall after the war council when a hand grabs his shoulder and yanks him into a spare room. His hand shoots for a dagger on his belt, only to have his wrist grabbed and wrenched to his back.

“Hey there, brat. Let’s talk,” Jeralt states, causing Claude to internally panic at the furious smell coming from the older Alpha.

“Yeah? How can I help?” he asks, forcing his stance to relax, keeping his scent close. Jeralt looks at him, obviously unimpressed and more than a little pissed about something. The older Alpha motions for Claude to take the spare chair as he sits behind the Captain’s desk. Slowly, Claude complies, his eyes flicking around the room for some sort of escape.

“So, what’s going on between you and my kid?” Jeralt starts off, a frown on his face. Claude raises his eyebrow and gives the other man a smirk, even as his brain rushes around, trying to find every lie in the book to protect himself from an overprotective father.

“We’re working together to end a war. We’re friends, allies, leader and tactician… Take your pick… Sir,” Claude tacks on at the end, eyeing the Captain nervously. Jeralt narrows his eyes at Claude, resting his arms on the desk.

“I think I’m watching an Alpha who needs to stay the fuck away from an Omega,” he growls. Claude swallows, giving the other man an unassuming grin as he internally screams in terror.

“Come on, Jeralt. There’s no time for that while the war is going on,” Claude jokingly scolds, giving the man a wink. Jeralt raises an unimpressed eyebrow before standing up from behind his desk, towering over the young man ominously.

“If you hurt her, or force yourself on her, I’ll make sure that she gets away with your death. You’ll disappear and no one will realize it until your body’s rotted enough that no one will recognize it. Clear?” he intones, glaring at the young Alpha. Claude swallows again, squeaking, “Crystal.”

“Now, go grab that bourbon over there. I’m too sober for this shit,” Jeralt tells the Alliance leader, waving his hand in the general direction of the cabinet, where a tall bottle of bourbon sits innocently on the top.

Jeralt had been out of Byleth’s room for maybe ten minutes, doing a small lap around the major areas still in use, when he smells the little shit of an Alpha’s scent mixing with his daughter’s sweeter scent of heat. Closing his eyes, he fights to control his breathing before groaning and storming into the cafeteria, looking for something to take his mind off the fact that the Alliance leader is taking his little girl’s virginity. Spotting the pink-haired accomplice of the brat, he strides over to her.

“Are you the reason von Riegan’s fucking my daughter?” he asks, getting a little satisfaction at the woman choking on her food.

“Claude’s WHAT?” she shrieks, turning to look at him with big pink eyes. Jeralt leans back a little at the shrill yell, regretting this conversation already.

“Did you send the brat to my daughter’s room?” he demands to know, crossing his arms. The Beta looks around nervously, clearing her throat and humming, obviously buying time.

Hilda tends to try and avoid anything that could get her in trouble, he recalls Byleth telling him, pointing out this specific young woman. He crosses his arms over his chest, raising an eyebrow at the woman. She looks around nervously before her eyes widen at something behind him.

“Well, you know how us Deer are. Always trying to show the Professor affection and all,” she starts rambling rapidly, flipping her hand back and forth. Jeralt narrows his eyes down at her before spinning on his heel. Frozen in his sight it von Riegan, bitemarks and hickeys decorating his neck. Jeralt gives a slow blink before sighing and shaking his head. Striding up to the tactician, he drapes his arm around the younger man and leans close to his ear.

“You better be treating her right, or I’ll kick your ass,” he threatens, raising his hand and cracking his knuckles with ease. Von Riegan swallows loudly, paling and nodding rapidly while his partner-in-crime watches them in terrified horror. Clapping the Wyvern Master on the shoulder, he starts steering the young Alpha to an empty table, sure that the grin he’s wearing is terrifying if the way people hurry out of his way is any indication.

Despite his dislike of the brat, Jeralt is willing to call the little shit his son-in-law if it keeps making his daughter smile like she’s doing. They stride slowly down the aisle, the white dress looking gorgeous on Byleth while his old Captain’s uniform still fits him well. The look on the brat’s face is as awed as it should be, his eyes never leaving Byleth’s visage. Reluctantly, Jeralt lets his daughter continue to the alter, sitting down on the pew to watch as Claude von Riegan adds Eisner to his name while he slides a golden band onto Byleth’s hand.

“I can’t believe this is happening!” Alois sobs beside him, burying his face into a handkerchief. Jeralt sighs and pats the younger man on the back, blinking back his own tears as his daughter’s face softens in an achingly familiar way, now for her husband as well as for her father.

“Shit, I need a drink,” Jeralt sighs, rubbing at his eyes to wipe away the tears gathering there.

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Clutching Byleth close, Jeralt bares his teeth at the door, smelling the damn brat trying to fight though the other kids to get to his daughter. His little girl, flushed with heat and half aware, arches her neck toward the door.

“Alpha?” she whimpers softly, looking so dazed and love struck that Jeralt wants to let her go. But, he can’t. Not with the brat half-mad and looking at her like she’s the Goddess. Not when Byleth is still recovering from those five years asleep. Not when hell is on their doorstep, painted in a bloody red.

“No, sweet girl. No,” he shushes her, pulling her face back to his chest, letting her get lulled by his heartbeat. She whines a little, but settles against him with little resistance, tapping along with his heart. He waits until her tapping stops and her breathing deepens before carefully sliding out from under her. Exiting her room, Jeralt isn’t surprised at the snarling, spitting beast that once was the Prince of the Kingdom.

“Sir?!” the pegasus knight cries in surprise, glancing at him from the corner of her eye.

“What the hell are you doing, you old coot?” the swordsman spits, his focus never wavering from the pissed and possessive Alpha before him. Jeralt ignores the barb (honestly, Byleth’s said worse as an observation. He’s never going to recover from her explaining to a bar maid he was trying to avoid due to her wanting sex, that his lack of erection is because he’s old. She was twelve) to thrust his hand between the lance and sword the other two Alphas had pointed at the deranged brat to grip the little shit’s throat.

“Listen here, you idiot,” he snarls, lifting the bastard off his feet. The younger Alpha chokes, kicking at the ground while looking down at him with a wide eye, the other Alphas taking a step back in surprise and awe.

“I’ve fought and killed Alphas claiming that they “deserve” to have Byleth. I’ve slaughtered Alphas that tried to drug, kidnap, and rape my daughter. I’ve even killed one of my own men because he decided that Byleth was his to have. Tell me why I shouldn’t kick your ass,” Jeralt threatens, tightening his grip.

“Be…love…ed,” the fallen Prince chokes, raising his hand toward the door, “Don’t… leave… me…” Jeralt blinks, dropping the younger Alpha when he passes out and taking a step back.

“That… was pathetic,” Jeralt states, thinking about that vulnerability and desperation the young man had while reaching for his daughter. The healer woman hurries over, checking over the brat while Jeralt heads back into Byleth’s room, frowning as his stomach drops uncomfortably. The brat isn’t looking at his daughter as an object to own, he’s looking at her like a life support, like the Goddess herself. That’s much worse.

Jeralt is waiting for Alois and Catherine to finally pause, so he can go check up on Byleth, when the Prince stumbles in, looking like he’s just had an amazing fuck. Jeralt’s eyebrows shoot up, uncertain if he should be glade that the little bastard had found another person to hold his affection or pissed for Byleth’s undoubtably broken heart when she catches scent of the Alpha.

“Holy shit, he had fun,” Catherine comments, grinning wolfishly at the dazed fumbling the young Alpha does as he moves to the preserves counter and ordering something. Jeralt snorts in amusement before freezing. That inhale was enough for him to smell Byleth, even though he knows she wouldn’t have left her room. She’s always curled into her nest, staying happily in her room unless…

“Excuse me, I need to go castrate an Alpha,” Jeralt growls, rising from the table while the Prince’s little friends crowd around him, hissing and snapping at him before covering his mouth. Catherine and Alois just watch as he storms over to the piece of shit, throwing his arm around the Prince’s shoulders to hiss something in his ear.

“I told you this was going to happen,” Catherine chuckles, holding out her hand as the Prince pales under Jeralt’s arm. Alois sighs and hands her the agreed upon money, shaking his head as the Alpha pair leaves the cafeteria while the Prince’s friends watch in terror as their leader is probably led to his demise.

Byleth looks in the mirror with a small frown on her face, turning slightly on the stand to let her dress swish slightly around her ankles. Jeralt watches in amusement as Mercedes and Annette both lightly scold her for playing with the dress, messing up the hard work women put into it, while Ingrid fiddles idly with the flowers.

“He’s head over heels for you, honey. Calm down,” Jeralt tells her, grinning at the unimpressed look on his daughter’s face at the term of endearment (she’s only receptive to such names during her heat, and now from Dimitri). Chuckling, he stands up and motions for her to get closer to him. Despite her nerves and worry, she still follows his orders without complaint, cuddling into his arms when he pulls her into a hug.

“Everything will turn out just fine, Byleth. He loves you too much to leave, and if he does, the Knights of Serios will drag his ass back to you to talk it out,” he murmurs against her hair. She presses her forehead against his shoulder, a silent thanks.

“He might be missing something though,” he semi-jokes, grinning at the pinch she does to his ribs in reprimand. Tightening his hug, Jeralt blinks as he fights back the tears that threaten to fall before the wedding. However, after the ceremony and following celebration, Alois would find him silently crying as he nurses a bottle, mourning how he’s no longer Byleth’s favorite man while swearing to be the best damn Grandfather to whatever child comes from the lovely couple.

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Jeralt rubs at his temples, unsure of how to speak with the Emperor privately when someone knocks on his office door. Sighing, Jeralt leans back in his chair and groans low in his throat. Work doesn’t seem to ever finish around here.

“Come in,” he instructs, moving back to a proper sitting position. His eyebrows shoot up at the sight of the Emperor stepping into his office, her head held high and no retainer in sight.

“Sir Jeralt, I would like to court your daughter,” she declares, bowing to his respectfully. Jeralt blinks, his brain not quite caught up with the words coming out of the young woman’s mouth.

“What?” he asks for clarification. The Emperor shifts awkwardly before him, reminding him that she’s still just a little brat, tripping over her feet to trail after his daughter.

“I would like to marry your daughter after the war. However, I do not want to come in conflict with you,” she explains, her shoulders set to make herself look bigger. Jeralt blinks again, before slowly nodding his head in understanding.

“I see… Well, you’ll need to speak with her about that whole… thing,” he finally manages, shaking his head to try and clear out his confusion. The beaming smile he receives from the young woman puts him on edge, especially when she bows enthusiastically.

“Thank you for your time, Sir Jeralt. I’ll make sure she wants for nothing,” the brat says, sending a spark of panic down his spine, remembering all the Alphas who said those exact words before trying to force themselves on Byleth. He stands immediately, slamming his hands on the table and startling the other Alpha.

“… Let’s have a conversation about wording, Your Imperial Majesty,” Jeralt grits out, reaching underneath the table to pull out his flask. He’s going to need a good amount of liquor to explain how bad the words that just left her mouth are, and how she should never repeat them in front of Byleth.

If there is one thing Jeralt has learned about Byleth’s Eagles, it’s that shenanigans are usually the Singer brat’s fault. He sighs as he stands outside his daughter’s door with the Emperor’s vassal, rubbing at the bridge of his nose from irritation.

“Where are the other brats?” he asks the younger Alpha. Without turning from his guard position, the brat points toward the mess hall. Nodding his thanks, Jeralt strides over to where he can hear that one brat shouting.

“…THEN THEY’LL LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER!!!” the Beta yells, pumping his fist into the air. The other brats nod in agreement, mumbling about bets and money. Jeralt stops behind them, scowling as he crosses his arms on his chest. Waiting for a quieter moment, he loudly clears his throat, getting a predatory pleasure from how all the little shits freeze and tense before turning to face him.

“Ah, Sir Jeralt!” the Singer tries to chirp, although the flickering of her eyes show exactly how nervous she is. Jeralt raises an eyebrow at them.

“So, is anyone going to explain why the Emperor is currently fucking my daughter or do all of you want to go through the Eisner training again?” he demands, grinning as they all shiver in fear at the mention of the holy terror that is the training Jeralt put Byleth through when she first presented. His grin grows when the Emperor finally joins the group with her vassal, looking around the mess hall in confusion.

“What’s going on?” she asks.

“Wejustwantthemtobehappyandsafetogetherpleasedon’thurtus!” the singer blurts out, scrambling up from her seat to hide behind the Alpha. Jeralt continues to grin, cracking his knuckles with a chuckle.

“Double training it is.”

He’s looking over some paperwork when the Vestra brat opens his office door without knocking. Looking up, Jeralt raises an eyebrow at the image of the Alpha, standing outside his door, while holding the sleepy brat’s collar tightly in hand with a bundle of papers in his other hand.

“Lady Edelgard has decided to elope with your daughter. She requested that you be one of the witnesses for the signing of the papers,” he explains. Part of Jeralt it confused (doesn’t elopement mean the parent isn’t informed? Isn’t that what it means?), but he’s mostly amused. Standing up from his desk, he chuckles and shakes his head fondly while following Vestra down the hall. Arriving at the war council room, he enters after Vestra and the sleepy brat, walking over to stand behind Byleth. He gives her shoulder an affectionate squeeze while the Emperor signs the two lines before sliding the paper to his daughter. Byleth pauses to glance up at him, sharing a silent smile, before turning back to the paper and signing it clearly for all to see. The sleepy brat takes it and looks it over with a yawn before nodding.

“Congratulations, you’re married,” he sighs, lumbering out of the room. Smelling the happiness and arousal that practically roll of his daughter and her new wife, Jeralt leans down and presses a kiss to her forehead.

“I’ll take care of anything that comes your way for a while. Just go be happy,” he orders, smiling when his daughter looks up, grasping his hand and giving it a reassuring squeeze. He pulls back and gives the Emperor a nod before walking down the hall, looking for something to drink in honor of his daughter’s elopement. He pauses before letting out a series of curses.

“What’s wrong, Sir Jeralt?” Vestra’s boyfriend asks from behind them.

“They still need to have a party or ceremony or some shit,” Jeralt groan, already feeling a headache building at the thought. Vestra huffs, wrapping an arm around his boyfriend’s shoulders.

“That will be reserved for later thoughts,” he insists. Jeralt snorts before taking off to find a drink, if only to push back the thought of helping prepare that disaster.

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Normally, if Jeralt saw a little Alpha shit following Byleth around like a lost puppy, he’d go and immediately set the record straight that she wasn’t something to chased after like a prize. Normally. Right now, though, he’s getting some laughs watching as little Cyril (who isn’t so little anymore) practically falls over himself to “prove” he’s a potential Alpha suitor for his daughter. The brat cleans areas that Lady Rhea wouldn’t go into, but Byleth would sit in. He shyly asks for lunches and dinners to be shared with him, pouting when Byleth invites someone else to join them. Hell, the brat even goes out hunting to get more food for Jeralt’s kid. Chuckling, Jeralt drapes his arm around the brat’s shoulders, grinning meanly when he tenses up.

“Let’s go talk, brat,” Jeralt practically chirps, leading the youngest Alpha to his office. He can feel the kid tremble under his arm, obviously nervous or scared of what Jeralt might do to him. Shaking his head, Jeralt leans close to the brat’s face, hissing, “You hurt her, I’ll be the least of your worries. Am I clear?”

“Yes, sir!” he squeaks, looking around in terror. Everyone else purposefully avoid eye contact with the two Alphas, staying well out of the way. Jeralt pats the brat on the back, steering the brat toward his office.

“So, here’s what you do to court my daughter while not insulting her competence,” Jeralt starts. The kid blinks up at him in confusion.

“Don’t dads usually scare off people?” the brat asks. Jeralt stops, forcing the younger Alpha to stop too. He turns his head to look down at the brat with a raised eyebrow.

“You’ve worked with Byleth for how long? If you think I’m the one you should fear, maybe you’re not the one for her,” Jeralt comments, slowly moving his arm off the kid’s shoulders. The brat shakes his head, waving his hands quickly.

“N-no! Tha’s not what I meant! I meant that usually, dad’s don’t want nobody with their daughters, right?” he tries to clarify. Jeralt snorts, resting his arm back on the brat’s shoulders.

“Kid, I just want Byleth happy, and she seems pretty happy when you’re near her,” he explains. The brat beams up at him, looking excited at the prospect of Byleth liking him.

“What can I do ta make her really happy?” he asks eagerly.

Jeralt enters the mess hall and sighs in amusement at seeing Alois threatening Cyril. The young Alpha looked like he was about to pass out from fear as the self-proclaimed big brother of Byleth. Shaking his head, Jeralt walks up and sets a hand on Alois’ shoulder.

“Easy there, Alois. I’m pretty sure Byleth wanted him to have sex with her,” he soothes, easily smelling his daughter’s scent mixed with the young Alpha’s. Cyril flushed at his words, staring wide eyed at the floor while Alois frowns.

“But Captain-” the Beta starts, huffing at Jeralt’s shake of his head. The knight sighs before shaking his own head.

“Very well. But you better make sure that Alpha behaves himself,” Alois insists, wagging his finger warningly at Cyril before leaving with a grumble of protecting innocents from “predatory Alphas”. The little Alpha lets out a relieved sigh, tensing when Jeralt rests his arm on his shoulder.

“Just remember that I’ll find a nice place to bury you if you hurt her,” Jeralt states calmly. The kid swallows nervously, squeaking out a small, “Yes sir.” Chuckling, Jeralt shoos the brat off, back to his little girl’s room with the food for the next few days.

“Aw, shit. Really? I thought I was going to see something funny,” Cassandra complains. Jeralt turns his head and raises an eyebrow at the woman, who puts her hands up in a placating manner.

“Piss off, bitch,” Jeralt tells her with no heat, raising one of his hands to flip her off. The Alpha laughs, shaking her bangs out of her eyes as her placating hands wave at him while she turns to leave. Jeralt sighs and shakes his head, going up to the counter to get his own food.

If Jeralt knew that he would have a year before Cyril swept his daughter off her feet, he would have spent even more time with her. Perhaps asking if she wouldn’t mind sharing room like their mercenary days, even though they no longer needed to as the Savior Queen of United Fodlan and her General Father. Hell, he might’ve been able to smuggle her out of her duties for a few days of patrolling and protecting some of the villages near Garreg Mach (if Seteth didn’t follow quickly on wyvern, ranting and yelling about proper Queenliness shit). However, as he dances with his daughter, seeing the smile on her face and glancing over to see the absolute love on Cyril’s, Jeralt decides that this is fine.

“Um, Sir? May I cut in?” Cyril asks nervously as the father-daughter dance ends. Jeralt chuckles, coaxing Byleth to spin from him to her husband.

“Just don’t step on her toes too hard, kid,” Jeralt jokes, chuckling as Cyril’s face turns bright red and his little girl laughs, the wind chime laugh her mother gave her. Sitting down, Jeralt watches as the happy couple dances together.

“You seem happy, Jeralt,” the Almyran king mentions idly. Jeralt snorts, smacking the brat in the gut, grinning at the wheeze he gets in return.

“I’d be happier with some of that ale you brought from Almyra,” he mentions. Claude laughs, turning to, hopefully, get him a cup of the spiced ale. Jeralt leans back, closing his eyes.

“She’s so happy, Jeralt. I’m happy for her,” he thinks he hears his wife whisper in his ear. Opening his eyes, he watches as some of the orphans of the Monastery circle the couple, dancing around the pair. Byleth laughs while Cyril tries to scold them through his grin.

“Yeah. She is,” Jeralt agrees, smiling himself.