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By death's door once more

Chapter Text

Though she had been acting as the Archbishop for almost a year and a half, since her return to the world following her five year slumber, Byleth had never been officially coronated into the position. With it being deemed that it would be impossible for the Church to continue under Rhea’s lead, and with new leadership of Fódlan under the King of Faerghus, Dimitri, it felt only right that Byleth be given the title of Archbishop officially.

It had taken months after the victory against the Adrestian Empire for the event to be arranged, given that Fódlan needed to rebuild and recuperate, but finally, the day had arrived. Exactly six years to the day that Byleth became the professor of the Dimitri and his closest companions.

“It’s far too fancy... Please tell me that I can at least take off some of this headwear, or replace the flowers with-!” Byleth was giving herself a glare in the wall-length mirror in front of her, before there was a quiet laugh.

“Never took you to be somebody so into fashion, my dearest...” At those words, Byleth’s glare in the mirror shifted from her own reflection to Dimitri's. He laughed again in response.

“You know that I prefer efficiency over looks. I mean, what if some of the Adrestian army stragglers emerge during the coronation? I would be held back wearing all this... Damn it, can you please get Seteth and ask if I can remove some of this, and maybe wear some of my armour?”

“Now now, Professor...” Dimitri rose to his feet, took three big strides over to her, before enveloping her in his arms from behind. “Both Claude and I will be present, and we shall be the ones who fight in such an occurrence. As for your clothes, you look wonderful, and you only need to wear them on ceremonial days such as today, or the Saints days. Please... wear them for today, and I shall treat you tonight when the festivities die down, my promise.”

Byleth did her best to settle into Dimitri’s warmth, revelling in his lack of armour as it meant that she could feel his heart beating against her back. He laughed for a third time, albeit it being much softer and more affectionate than the other times. That was followed by her taking hold of the edges of his cloak and pulling them against her.

The moment of peace was disturbed by a knock on the door, before a knight – of course it was Alois – entered. Dimitri grunted whilst Byleth giggled at his reaction to the intrusion. “Aha! You are both here! Your presence is needed in the Cathedral, as the ceremony is about to begin.”

With a few choice words Byleth could hardly imagine Dimitri muttering a few years ago come out of the King’s mouth in the form of a whisper, she was left alone with Alois. Dimitri had to be there for when she arrived, so she decided on waiting for a few minutes.

A beaming grin was on Alois' face, so she raised an eyebrow. “What’s the matter with you?”

“Well, you look beautiful in your outfit, and... Jeralt would be proud of you, you know.”

“I'm sure he would be...” Byleth sighed, her gaze shifting back towards the mirror for a moment. It saddened her that she wouldn’t have her only family member with her on such a momentous day, yet at the same time... she did have a new family with her. The former Blue Lions, and the few people from the Church who she grew close to during the war campaign against Edelgard. She would finally have a family again in a few months though, for her marriage to Dimitri was also looming.

Fortunately, she did have a few mementos of her father with her... The ring which he held so dear, as it belonged to her mother... that was on a chain around her neck. She would have given it to Dimitri, but his fingers were rather large, and he had insisted that she kept it, with it being something of sentimental value to her father.

“It is perhaps time that we leave for the Cathedral, Byleth.”

“Oh, yes... of course...”

Everything had been going smoothly during the coronation. All had been well, the people had been excited to finally have an official Archbishop after all, none more than her former Blue Lions.

However, there was a slight feeling of something... not being right. Every once in a while, Byleth would glance between both Dimitri and Claude, who were stood at opposite sides of the cathedral. Everyone had been surprised at the former Leicester Alliance leader being present, but upon learning of his new position as King of Almyra, and him wanting friendly relations between the two countries, it was more than understandable.

It was only when the ceremony grew to a close, when Byleth was seconds away from being sworn into the role by Seteth that things fell south quickly.

Something caught Byleth’s eye near to the roof, and during a moment she could afford to divert her eyes, she saw two people crouched on the recently built wooden supports. They both wore the armour of the Adrestian Army, and both of them had bows. One, she noted, was aimed directly at her. The other...

The crowd erupted into cheers when Seteth finished speaking, at the same time that Byleth cried out the name of the other target.

Upon the realisation that they had been caught, and their other target was about to be warned, the attackers redirected their bows to face the new Archbishop.

“Dimi-! Ugh...” Her shout had been stopped when two arrows were deeply embedded into her chest and stomach.

The crowds grew silent, followed by loud screams of fear.

As the crowds ran away, aside from the former Blue Lions and the knights, two other arrows flew through the air, but this time, they were intended for the assassins. Claude had caught sight of them attempting to make an escape, and stopped them in their tracks.

In a mere few seconds, everything had fallen apart.

The sound of Areadbhar clattering to the ground was the only thing Byleth heard as a shiver went through her body. The blood seeping into her white ceremonial robes was the only warmth she felt. Her veins felt like they were throbbing, and her body lost the energy to stand within seconds.

She also cursed the fact that she hadn’t been wearing her usual outfit, as that had armour which would have deflected the arrows.

The only saving grace was that she was caught by two familiar, comforting arms as she fell.

One day had passed since the attempted assassination occurred. Byleth had been unconscious ever since she fell into Dimitri’s arms, with it being possible for her state to take a turn for the worst at any given moment.

A horrifying revelation came about whilst Flayn and Mercedes had been going about trying to heal up the new Archbishop’s wounds – the arrows had not just been any arrows. The arrowheads were blunt, meaning that more damage would be caused upon their removal. They were also coated with poison, so if they were left in, that too would cause more damage – possibly even kill her.

It was fortunate that Claude had been present, as if he hadn’t been, the poison would not have been identified in addition to its cure. There had been many flowers growing in Garreg Mach's greenhouse which had medicinal properties that could help with removing the poison from her body, so he and Dedue had taken on the task of gathering them and preparing the antidote.

Mercedes and Flayn had been working tirelessly to keep Byleth’s state stable once the arrows had been removed from her body. They had decided to take alternate hour long shifts so that they would not strain themselves when using the healing magic.

Seteth and Alois had taken up station outside the Archbishop’s chambers where Byleth rested, to keep her safe from anyone else who may still have been out to finish the job started by the two assassins.

Speaking of the assassins, they had been imprisoned below Garreg Mach, the majority of remaining Blue Lions standing watch over them so that they wouldn’t escape. Not that they could, they were still wounded after Claude stopped them from escaping after they fired their own arrows. Of everyone though, Felix made sure to be present whenever Dimitri emerged, knowing that with Byleth’s life on the line, it would not take much for the King to snap, and attempt to murder the pair before they could find out any more information from them.

Then there was Dimitri. He had been extremely difficult to keep in one place. If he was not at Byleth’s side, clasping her hand between both of his and whispering words of reassurance as well as begging for her to hold on, he was demanding to know how the antidote was doing, or was interrogating the assassins with Felix.

However, at present, he was tired and just wanted to rest. Normally when at Garreg Mach, he would rest beside Byleth in her bed, but that was impossible given that she needed almost constant tending to, and when she was in enough pain, she would start to thrash about. He didn’t care for his abandoned dormitory room either, the bed had been broken for many months as it had not taken well to five years of no use and rot. He had never cared to replace it, as he would either sleep in the cathedral or by Byleth’s side...

He had resorted to dragging a seat out to the terrace opposite Byleth’s room, for if he was needed if the worst was to happen. He would look in one of three places... at the sky, towards Byleth’s room, and towards the gates of the cathedral.

A place he once found comfort in was now somewhere he loathed. The place where his beloved was almost murdered.

Yet... it did not scare the people off. News had rapidly spread of the new Archbishop being almost killed at the moment she had been officially given her title. But they would still come. Even families with young children would visit, offer a prayer to the goddess to help Byleth recover quickly, before placing flowers and a candle by the gate.

Come nightfall, there was a constellation of flickering lights by the gates, and Dimitri felt both overwhelmed and saddened by it. Everyone cared so much for Byleth... yet such a show of support would not have happened if not for the horrible events that had occurred.

But for now, he was reassured that there was support for her. He could only hope that it grew only stronger when she becomes queen of the land... when she becomes his wife.

If she lives until then.

His nails scraped against the stone of the balcony, not caring if it hurt him. He would go through the pain he went through in her five year absence over and over if it meant that Byleth could recover from her pain.

Before he could damage his fingers any further, there was the sound of footsteps behind him. The silence which lingered once they had stopped gave Dimitri enough indication of who it was.

“Dedue... Have you and Claude finished the antidote to the poison?”

“Mercedes is administering it as we speak.”

Dimitri sighed, the noise sounding frustrated when in reality it was a sigh of relief. One of the dangers to Byleth’s health was out of the way.

“However, Your Majesty, it is going to take a few days for it to fully take effect, the resources available only allowed for a weak antidote. Fortunately, the arrows were removed quickly, so there is not much poison to be dealt with.”

That... was not as reassuring as what Dedue had previously said, but knowing that one problem was dealt with was enough to bring a slight sense of relief.

A t least Flayn and Mercedes will only have to focus on healing the wounds now.

“Dedue... thank you. Thank you for helping her...”

“It is Claude who deserves your thanks.”

“I will thank him later... Right now, I am thanking you.”

After that, Dimitri was left alone once more, but he found that he was no longer liking the silence or his thoughts when he was alone.




He decided that maybe those bastards who dared hurt her could do with another… ‘talking’ to.