A quick way to start a fight in Fódlan, Felix learned, was to ask people what to call Unification day. One would think that people would get over a war that happened thousands of years ago, but up to this day, depending on the person, fall break was either Unification or the Fall of Enbarr.
Felix’s family, like so many other families with the last name Fraldarius—one of the most common ones in Fódlan, called it Unification. Naturally the western part of Fódlan called it the Fall of Enbarr. Despite the name, the Fall of Enbarr celebration in west Fódlan was actually pretty fun, with tournaments and massive red paint fight in downtown Enbarr that Felix watched on TV with great envy. In east Fódlan the most they got were parades and some fireworks and too much church visits. It was mostly a family holiday here, about the ones still with them and remembering the ones that passed.
Honestly, the east Fódlan tradition was depressing for the side that actually won the war thousands of years ago.
Felix would trade for the west Fódlan celebration if not for their yearly visits to his mother’s grave. There wasn’t much to it. The Fraldarius tradition was always to have one celebratory meal for the people who were still kicking the day before, follow by grave visits, and then a commemoratory meal after. In between all of this, they watched TV for the parade at Fhirdiad or the superior option of the sword tournaments at Enbarr.
Felix’s family stopped being religious after his mother’s passing. Apparently now they were going to be religious on the holidays.
“My parents pray often and go to church once every weekend still,” Sylvain said when Felix’s father asked. “I don’t though.” He shrugged, taking the basket of rolls that Felix handed to him.
“You don’t have to pray if you don’t want,” Felix’s father said. “That goes for Glenn and Felix too. I mostly only do it in memory of Charlotte, anyway.”
“Mom wasn’t even that religious.” Felix huffed.
“We visit grandpa’s and grandma’s graves every year though.” Glenn pointed out.
The thought viciously flashed in Felix’s mind. ‘Good to know you’re sober enough to remember, Glenn.’ He wisely did not say that aloud. No, everyone was here, and they were doing better. “We didn’t pray.” Felix chose to say instead.
“Your mother and I would go to church early in the morning when you guys went to school,” Felix’s father said. “She didn’t want to force you guys into it.”
“I remember going with you guys when I was smaller, but I think you guys stopped taking me some time after Felix was born.”
“Oh,” Felix said. He honestly never cared enough about church this or church that or no church, and his parents never really talked about it. It always seemed to be all such a hassle to him, and when it came to praying his extended family did enough to cover them all.
It was nice to be able to talk about his mom again without his father saying that the Goddess had a plan for them all or the Goddess worked in mysterious way or Glenn walking out to get a beer when he couldn’t handle it anymore.
“I’d like to join in your prayers, if that’s okay,” Sylvain said. His voice sounded kind. It brought a smile to Felix’s father at least.
Felix himself didn’t give any weight to prayers, and who knew what Glenn thought of it now. But Felix wanted to do this one thing for his father who was doing so much better.
It was nice of Sylvain to join, especially since Felix had a feeling that Sylvain wasn’t exactly fond of it.
They hold hands in a circle. The feeling of his father’s hand in his was unfamiliar. Sylvain had Felix’s other hand. Felix didn’t know how to feel about this new thing they were trying, but he told himself that changes could be worse than this.
Felix focused on the cadence of his father’s voice and the warmth of the hands in his. His father had mercy on Felix because the prayer was short.
The food looked good. His father made the signature roast pheasant with berry sauce, and the sweetness of the berry never clicked with Felix. Felix probably wouldn’t eat much of it, but luckily there were meat skewers.
“Pheasant is actually one of my favorite things to eat,” Sylvain said. “Careful Mr. Fraldarius, you might never be able to get rid of me.”
“Like I told you before, Sylvain, please call me Rodrigue.”
“You’re welcome to take my share,” Felix said, making quick work at a meat skewer. He let out a groan when his teeth sank past the crispy skin into the tender meat, the juice hit the back of this tongue with a burst of spiciness.
Shit. This was really good. “Where did you buy this?” Felix asked. He might try to stop by whatever restaurant that sell this and buy some on the way back.
“Sylvain brought it,” Glenn said. “Made them himself. He’s a pretty handy guy. Right, Sylvain? Sylvain?”
Felix got halfway through a skewer before he noticed Sylvain’s stare. He looked away, feeling flustered with the embarrassing noises that he made while eating. It was worse knowing the Sylvain brought the meat skewers. Felix didn’t need to like Sylvain more than he already did.
“Y-yeah.” Sylvain cleared his throat. “Roasted them myself. I’m glad you like them.”
Felix stared at the plate of meat skewers. Sylvain chuckled, nudging Felix with his elbow. He seemed to be a really touchy guy, Felix noted. “You can take more if you want. Don’t be shy on me now.”
Felix scoffed and took two to prove that he wasn’t shy, damn it.
“I like to go camping a lot,” Sylvain said. “So I got pretty good at roasting meat and fish over a fire.”
Felix blinked. He thought of wind chill prickled at his skin, but the sight of Sylvain whistling over the campfire as he roasted the meat over the open flame warmed Felix from inside out. Felix watched Sylvain’s wrinkled but sturdy hands as he turned the meat and the line of his strong back no longer clad in armor but the soft stole Felix knitted for him. Soft fire light danced on Sylvain’s silver hair, and Felix’s fingers itched to run through the soft strand. ‘I could watch him forever,’ Felix had thought. ‘Like this, always.’ Sylvain would turn to him then and smiled, and he had and would always watch Sylvain’s back now and forevermore, but nothing was quite the same as feeling the full enormity of Sylvain’s love through his gaze and knowing that he could make Sylvain happy by his existence.
Felix blinked again, and the thoughts slipped from him. He tried to grasp at them, but they trickled through his fingers like sand.
A nudge at his elbow pulled Felix back. Sylvain looked worried. “You alright there, buddy?”
“The meat skewer isn’t half bad,” Felix said.
Sylvain chuckled. Felix felt a little proud that he was the cause of many of Sylvain’s happy sounds today. “It’s okay to admit that I leave you speechless.”
“You think you’re so charming,” Felix scoffed even though okay fine, Sylvain was just that charming sometimes.
“I’d say he’s doing a pretty good job of charming you,” Glenn, being the awful brother that he was, chimed in.
“Shut up, Glenn.”
“What are you going to do if I don’t?”
“Boys,” Felix’s father cut in.
“Felix, you should try the pheasant,” Sylvain said. “I think you’ll like it.”
“I’m not a fan of berry sauce,” Felix said.
“Felix doesn’t really like sweet,” Felix’s father said, saving Felix from sugar suffering because Felix might have caved in if Sylvain prodded him enough.
“You should really try it,” Sylvain said. The firmness in his voice surprised Felix. “You’ll like it.”
Felix reluctantly took a piece of pheasant that had the least amount of sauce touching it and took a small nibble. It was a breast piece, so it didn’t have as much flavor as the more fatty pieces. However, the moment he took a bite, he was pleasantly surprised by the taste of Derdriu spices.
Felix looked at his father in shock. It was no secret that he loved Derdriu spices, but he didn’t really get into Derdriu flavored food until he started college. He didn’t think his father would notice.
Rodrigue smirked. “Well, thank you father, for noticing my favorite kind of spices,” he said, looking more and more amused by what Felix would guess was a pretty dumb look on his face right now.
Felix looked down at this plate. It was hard to breathe all of a sudden. His eyes stung. “Thanks,” he mumbled.
“It’s really good,” Sylvain said, and then Glenn said something that sounded like an agreement, and conversations became lively once more. Felix was glad that no one commented on his silence, on the fact that he felt so touched and sad and happy and so full of feelings all at once. It was so stupid that a piece of meat could undo him like this. But Felix thought of his father, who wasn’t going to say anything about the pheasant that was one of mom’s recipe that he obviously modified to Felix’s taste. It made Felix so angry and so happy at the same time.
It was the best meal Felix had ever had in a while.