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Claudleth Winter Wonderland

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Claude carefully crushes the white berries from mistletoe, mixing the slurry into his most recent concoction with a soft hum of approval. Grinning, he caps off the vial with a stopper and gives the vial a shake, watching as the color shifts into the perfect poison to make a certain nobleman rush to the bathroom and stop bothering him during his search for more information. Abruptly, a knock startles him from his planning.

“Hang on a second!” he calls, setting the poison down on his desk before standing and opening the door.

“You didn’t come to practice,” Teach states, startling him as she stands on the other side of his door. Claude blinks, his brain having ground to a screeching halt before shooting off in multiple directions, trying to get a read on the former mercenary.

“Well,” he starts slowly, “You know how I can get, Teach. Find a good book? Gotta read it. See something interesting? Gotta investigate.”

“Find a poisonous plant? You’ve got to make a poison,” she continues for him, nodding toward his desk where a small bundle of mistletoe sits innocently beside the concoction he made. Letting out a startled laugh, Claude scratches the back of his head while leaning against the door frame.

“Got me there, Teach,” he reluctantly admits, watching as the woman enters his room. Part of him wants to shoo her back out and tidy up a little, make his room a little neater so she doesn’t take him for a slob. However, he also knows that she talks with Manuela often in the healer’s personal room, so there’s no real judgment there. Still, maybe he should have straightened up that book pile beside her, or neatened up his desk a little, or even-

“So, who’s name should I start penning for Manuela to know how to help them?” Teach asks, her face blank while her eyes glitter playfully. Claude chokes on his laugh due to his surprise, closing his door to settle, incorrectly, in his desk chair.

“Make sure that the L in Lorenz is extra loopy,” he offers instead, feeling a well of pride in his chest as she huffs out a soft laugh, shaking her head in amusement.

“Of course,” she sighs, whether to who it is or to his joking comment, Claude doesn’t know.

“Hey, c’mon Teach. We gotta get him to lighten up somehow,” he jokes, resting his chin on the back of the chair. Another soft huff of laughter escapes her, followed by a blue-lavender gaze that Claude would love to be in for eternity. That gaze turns back to his work desk, finding the green and white plant set off to the side.

“I think I’ve seen these in bars during the Etheral Moon,” she comments, picking up the mistletoe. Claude shifts eagerly in his seat. It’s rare for Teach to talk about her travels as a Mercenary if it’s not conducive to class, and he greedily wants every little bit that she’s willing to share.

“A boy tried to get me under it with him,” she continues, immediately killing any positive feelings Claude had to listen to her story.

“I punched him in the face when he leaned in and Father laughed himself sick,” she finishes with a shrug. Claude sputters out a laugh, surprised at the turn of her story and internally pleased that the nameless village boy didn’t get a chance to kiss Teach. Her mouth twitches into a small smile, which Claude greedily savors.

“Well, how about we try it?” Claude tosses out with a wiggle of his eyebrows. She turns to him and cocks her head to the side, confused. He grabs the plant and holds it over his head, blowing her an air kiss with another eyebrow wiggle. Her eyes light up with understanding and she moves quickly, too quickly for him to do anything but sit there while she presses a kiss on his cheek.

“Alright, clean up and come down for practice. We need to work on your sword work for the Lord test,” Teach tells him, patting his head as she slips out of his room. Claude blinks, dropping the mistletoe in shock as his face burns.

“Fuck,” he croaks, covering his eyes while groaning, trying to fight off all the very inappropriate images that popped up in his brain starring Teach.