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Triple Lutz

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By the time Byleth and Edelgard arrived at the door of the locker room, they were breathless from skating away and giddily lightheaded from their kiss. Their eyes met, their lips parted with words waiting to be spoken.

“Byleth...” Edelgard murmured, “I—”

“Hello again!” The two jumped at the sudden voice. “Anna, from Roundtable News, do you two have another minute to spare?”

Byleth looked to Edelgard. “Are you up for it?”

Edelgard shrugged, giving her partner an easy smile. “I don’t see why not.” What she wanted to say will have to wait.

“Great!” Anna beamed and like the first time, signalled her cameraman over to them. He handed her the wireless microphone and the interview commenced.

“That was quite a final skate from you two. I already thought the technical was impressive, but boy was I in for a surprise!”

“Thank you,” Edelgard smiled gratefully. “It’s always rewarding to have the training payoff in the end.”

“What I’d give to see you two training. To pull off what you did in just two weeks is nothing short of a miracle, I’d say.”

“Miracles had little to do with our efforts,” Edelgard gently countered. “But I will say that I found one when I met Byleth. Not only did she go along with my ambitious decisions, she brought them to fruition in earnest and...” she turned to look at Byleth, “I can’t begin to thank you enough.”

Byleth smiled as her hand sought out Edelgard’s and their fingers laced together.

“And that brings me to what’ll no doubt be at least one of the many talks to come of the whole competition,” Anna continued, “Tell me, what made you want to attempt the triple twist lift of all things? There is nothing natural about that maneuver, any expert judge and skater alike knows about that, and yet you two pull it off like it ain’t no thing.” She held the mic out between the two women for either one to give an answer.

“This is our first White Heron Cup and I wanted to leave a lasting impression on the judges,” Edelgard answered confidently. “The opportunity never really presented itself with my former partner because, as you said, it’s very complex. But with Byleth it all seemed to fall into place.”

“Well, mission accomplished, Miss Hresvelg,” the reporter praised. “And what was going through your head when you two were winding up for the move? Surely you had to have been worried that it might not’ve gone well.”

At that, Edelgard shook her head with a smirk. “Hardly. I had all the confidence in the world in my partner.” She squeezed Byleth’s hand. “There was no doubt in my mind that we would be able to do it.”

Byleth felt heat creep up into her cheeks at the praise, and she squeezed Edelgard’s hand in return.

“Oh you two are absolutely adorable,” Anna gushed before she turned the mic to Byleth. “So what made you agree to attempt one of the most complicated elements in the sport?”

“It’s what Edelgard always wanted to do,” Byleth answered. “She was excited to try, so I did my best to learn it.”

Anna nodded. “I’d say you’d definitely brought your all, Ms. Eisner. Your background in hockey really came in handy in those lifts huh?”

“I didn’t want to drop her. Of course I put everything into it.”

“I think it’s safe for me to say that we’re all glad you did. Congratulations to you both for becoming one of the few skating pairs to pull it off.” 

“Thanks.”

Then Anna’s friendly smile turned into a mischievous grin. “Now. About what happened at the end of your routine there.”

Oh, here it comes , Edelgard thought wryly and braced herself.

“Are you two a thing now?”

Byleth and Edelgard exchanged looks. A silent question tugged Edelgard’s lips into an uncertain frown, and Byleth met it with a soft smile. She didn’t take her eyes off her partner as she replied in a voice that was just barely audible, “I want to be.”

An internal squeak broke through Edelgard’s thoughts and a rising heat crawled up to her cheeks. Why was she so surprised to hear that? It’s not like they literally kissed in the middle of the rink or anything. “I’d like that as well,” she reciprocated.

The reporter looked between the two with a fond gleam in her eye. She signalled her cameraman to be ready to wrap things up. “Alright one last question, I’m sure they’re about to call you back for the final results here soon. Do you think you’ve taken the gold here today?”

Edelgard chuckled airily. “At this point... even if we came in last, I’d still feel like I’ve won. This is the most fun I’ve had at a competition, and I hope they’ll allow us back next year.” In a spur of boldness, she released Byleth’s hand and wrapped her arm around her partner’s waist, pulling her in closer. When Byleth did the same, she felt like she could just burst with affection.

Anna brought the mic back towards herself and gave the duo an encouraging nod. “Thank you both for your time and best of luck.”

Less than ten minutes after the interview concluded, they were called back on to the ice. But they lingered at the edge of the locker room exit, their hands still joined tightly together where their pulses raged against their pressed palms. 

“Thank you, Byleth. For everything.”

“You’ve been saying that a lot,” she said, brushing the pad of her thumb over Edelgard’s knuckles. “You really don’t have to, you know.”

“I feel like I’m going to be saying that for as long as I know you.” She grinned up at her toothily to hide her underlying sheepishness. “I hope you don’t mind it.”

“I don’t.” Byleth returned the smile. “Cuz I’m thankful for you too. I’m glad Dorothea gave you that time slot at the rink.”

“Believe me, not a moment goes by when I don’t think about how all of this could’ve ended differently.” Her lips pressed together as a thought dampened her light mood. “I hope that you don’t feel obligated or pressured into all this, Byleth. I had hoped to speak with you about this properly, but I suppose my impatience won out and...”

“You kissed me,” Byleth finished for her.

Edelgard blushed, clearing her throat. “Yes, I kissed you.”

At that, Byleth pecked her temple with a soft giggle. “I don’t feel pressured. I feel...” She paused to consider her words. “When we first met, I felt weird around you.” 

Edelgard raised a brow, and she smiled reassuringly. “It was a good weird. I didn’t know what it was, but it was good. My heart did this thing in my chest whenever I was around you, or when I thought about you.”

She laid a hand over her chest, like she’s done so many times over the course of two weeks, and just like all those times before, her heartbeat was rhythmically fast. “My face would get warm and my ears would feel hot like I rubbed it too much like I used to do as a kid. I still feel it, but... now I know why. I want to be with you, Edelgard. It feels right, like it’s what I’ve been waiting for this whole time.” Byleth grimaced. “Did any of that make sense?”

Wordlessly, Edelgard nodded and fully embraced her, rising on her toes to give her a chaste kiss. “Call me El,” she said in a soft breath.

“El?”

A light dust of pink appeared on Edelgard’s cheeks at the nickname. Another nod. “Please?”

“Okay,” Byleth said before she kissed Edelgard’s forehead. “El.”  Kissed her nose. “El.” She thought she heard a small choked noise sound from the back of Edelgard’s throat. She continued on with a kiss on her cheek. “El.” And finally kissed her lips, rendering Edelgard a blushing, flustered mess as the woman buried her face into Byleth’s shoulder.

Her embarrassment was soon snuffed out, however, when Byleth’s laughter reverberated against her ear.

How had she gotten so lucky?

***

“Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for the final results!” Alois bellowed. Shamir and Manuela stood on either side of him, applauding along with the audience. “I’d like to first thank you all for coming out and showing these talented skaters support. 

“And to you skaters,” he made a sweeping gesture to them all as they were lined up according to their division on the ice. “Thank you for making this year’s White Heron Cup memorable. You’ve certainly made our job difficult.” A round of chuckles filled the rink.

“As always, we’ll start with the singles’ division.” At that he gestured for Manuela to take the lead.

The woman raised her microphone up and looked to the line of single skaters on one side of the rink. “Well done to all of you. You’ve all demonstrated exceptional skill and creativity and it’s been an absolute honor, and pleasure, to see the fruits of your hardwork and dedication to the sport.”

She lifted a piece of paper up and smiled, “Ladies first. For third place, we have Mercedes von Martritz.”

Applause and cheering rang out as Mercedes skated towards the judges and accepted her bronze trophy with a beaming and grateful smile.

“An energetic, yet elegant skate, Miss von Martritz. Very well done, congratulations,”  Manuela praised. When she skated off to the side, the judge called out, “Our second place winner is Marianne von Edmund.”

A woman with light blue hair jumped in place, her eyes wide with shock and awe. Louder cheers filled the rink and she slowly skated over where a silver trophy awaited her. 

“Beautiful, simply beautiful; a very melancholic, almost haunting performance, Miss von Edmund, it was nothing like we’ve seen before in this competition. It moved us all to tears.”

Edelgard sought out Dorothea in the line up as Marianne joined Mercedes at the sidelines. The two shared hopeful looks. 

“And last, and certainly not least, our first place contestant is none other than Dorothea Arnault.”

Edelgard clapped, cheering Dorothea’s name as the woman enthusiastically accepted the gold.

“Miss Arnault, your skate delivered in theatrics as it did in charm and grace. Congratulations.”

Alois called for one last round of applause for the winners before Manuela moved on to the men’s division. Byleth hardly paid much attention though, her thoughts kept drifting. She usually didn’t care about winning much when she played hockey. Sure it was nice and it definitely made her parents and teammates happy, but she was in it for the sport and the fun. Here, it was different. She wanted them to win. They worked hard for this, and she wanted to win not just for herself, but for Edelgard too. This was her passion and it got them on this path in the first place.

She barely heard Alois’s announcement of the pair’s division and Shamir’s subsequent awarding of the third place trophy. It wasn’t until Edelgard’s grip on her hand tightened considerably that she was finally pulled from her thoughts.

“Second and first place gave us the hardest time to judge. So whoever takes the silver, take that as a complement,” Shamir said with a hint of a smile. “Ultimately, it came down to how well a pair worked off each other, how creative their skates were, and who took the most risks. Both pairs showed great synergy in the technicals, and the freeskates were exceptional to watch.” 

She paused.

Byleth exhaled a shaky breath. Her palms were sweating, but if Edelgard minded she didn’t say. 

“Felix Fraldarius and Annette Dominic, you’re our second place winners.”

She bit her bottom lip. They didn’t place second, but that doesn’t automatically mean they won either. They were still two other pairs in line with them. 

Then she felt a bump on her shoulder. Playful, but still consoling. 

“Final results are nerve wracking, aren’t they,” Edelgard said. 

“Yeah. At least with hockey games you know that you win right away. This waiting sucks.”

“Yes, these judges do seem to have an air for the dramatics,” Edelgard giggled.

“And finally, our first place winners,” Shamir introduced and the audience leaned forward in their seats. “Despite all odds and the short amount of time to train for this Cup, this pair demonstrated phenomenal skill in both routine and style. As Alois described it during our deliberation, ‘their technical surprised us, and their freeskate engaged us. From the song choices to their chemistry on the ice, it doesn’t get much better than this.’ 

“So let’s have Edelgard von Hresvelg and Byleth Eisner come on up.”

Uproarious applause filled Byleth’s ears. Her father’s signature sharp whistling cut through for a second before being drowned entirely. Edelgard jumped in place, nearly tackling Byleth with a bone crushing hug. She returned it, if only to ground her in the moment as her head spun with disbelief. They... they won. They actually won.

Laughter bubbled from her lips and she lifted Edelgard up into a full embrace, spinning them about in jubilation.

They skated over, hand in hand, to collect the gold trophy Manuela held out. She gave her congratulations to them and motioned for them to join the rest of the winners to give their final bows. She and Edelgard lifted the trophy up above their heads in unison as cameras flashed in all directions. 

But those flashing lights couldn’t compare to Byleth and Edelgard.

Their matching smiles could light the whole city if they could.

***

The group waited for them outside and showered them with praise, hearty pats on the back and hugs, and a few hair ruffles courtesy of Caspar. 

Meredeth pulled the girls into a proud embrace, gushing to them about how beautiful they were. But that was a calm before the storm as she soon reprimanded them for not warning her about the triple twist lift and how they almost gave her a heart attack. The rest of the group snickered at the display, making the duo avert their gazes sheepishly as they apologized to the woman with an embarrassed drawl in their voices.

Their apology was further cemented by letting Meredeth take an obscene amount of pictures with their trophy. Dorothea squeaked when she was also invited to join the duo in their impromptu photo op. Oh Edelgard was going to have fun teasing her friend about this in the near future.

Edelgard hardly remembered the drive home, her mind still buzzed with the skate, the kiss, the interview, the announcement, all of it.

At Byleth’s stubborn insistence, the trophy sat in the passenger seat. Also at Byleth’s insistence, the seat belt buckled it in place. The sight made Edelgard shake her head with a quiet chuckle. 

Her apartment was quiet. The contrast between it and the still lingering cheers in her ears was jarring. Adrenaline and excited energy pounded in her bloodstream, which was to be expected. She gets this way after a competition for as long as she could remember. 

She was so restless she wasn’t even hungry, though she did force herself to at least eat a peach. 

She contemplated texting Byleth. Was she feeling the same as Edelgard right now? If she was, maybe she’d rather be left alone to decompress. She settled on taking a shower, but while the hot water relaxed her muscles, it didn’t quite quell her erratic energy level. 

As irrational as it was, there was someplace that she’d rather be... Her night can’t end without going there first.

And so, she swiped her keys off the table and jumped back in her car. 

***

She pulled into the parking lot of the local skating rink, the rink she’d spent the better part of two weeks in. It was still an hour or so away from closing time, and with the excitement of the White Heron Cup in the midst of winding down no one had much incentive to skate late, making it mercifully empty. Or at least, she assumed it was. 

What she didn’t expect was to see a mess of teal hair and a body sprawled like a starfish at the center of the ice. She giggled incredulously to herself and got to work lacing her skates on.

“You know, this is usually the time when competitors relax for a few days,” Edelgard teased as she skated towards the center of the rink. “I’d hate to be the reason why you grow tired of the ice.”

Byleth raised her head, greeting Edelgard with a smile before pushing herself up to sit. “If I ever get sick of being on the ice, it won’t be because of you,” she grinned.

“That gives me peace of mind at least, but you’ve still made me curious. What brings you here?”

Byleth shrugged. “I get like this all the time after a game. I get restless and need to blow off some energy. It’s better than pacing at my house and making my parents anxious.” She laughed under her breath, as if recalling a memory of having done exactly that before. “You?”

With a soft grunt she eased herself to sit beside her partner. A slight shiver ran down her spine as the chill of the ice seeped through her tights. “The very same reason. How long have you been here?”

“Not long...”

Edelgard tilted her head. “Is there something on your mind?”

“Hm? Oh, no not really. Just... I can’t believe it’s over. It doesn’t feel like it’s been only two weeks since we met.”

“Ah. Yes, I can understand that.” She glanced about the empty rink, feeling a ghost of wistfulness as she recalled that fateful night that not only saved her spot in the White Heron Cup, but garnered her an amazing partner now turned girlfriend. That title, so new and almost too good to be true, sent a wave of giddy warmth through her.

When she looked back at Byleth, she was met with the soft gaze of cornflower blues and her cheeks pinked. “What is it?” she asked.

Byleth, with her expression unwavering, pushed herself up to stand and held out a hand to her. “Skate with me?”

“Oh? Trying to recreate the night we met, are you?” Edelgard surmised.

“Maybe.” And with that, she signaled to the operator in the booth, who saluted her in turn, and a drone of trumpets filled the rink before a jaunty electro swing tune followed after it.

Edelgard laughed as Byleth helped her up. “Did you plan this?” 

“No. But I’m glad it worked out this way.” She grinned crookedly, melting Edelgard’s heart all over again. “You’re not too tired, right?”

“Hardly.”

The two fell in stride with another and let the beat of the music guide their skates. There was no routine to recite, or choreography to plan out; it was simply two skaters taking full advantage of having the rink to themselves.

When Edelgard spun under Byleth’s arm, Byleth didn’t hesitate to mirror her. She’s come a long way since that first night. And there will be more to come, Edelgard certainly had that much to look forward to.

She twirled into Byleth’s waiting arms where she was dipped low and brought back up in a smooth flourish. A silent conversation passed between their locked gazes, and just before they separated, Byleth pecked Edelgard on the cheek, earning a bashful snicker in response.

Side by side, they circled the perimeter of the rink, building speed faster and faster. With synchronized precision, the duo turned, dug the picks of their skates into the ice, and leaped, twisting their form into a perfect triple lutz.