As Byleth climbed up the stairs to the Goddess Tower, she could barely believe it had truly been five years.
But the Tower was in a destroyed state, as destroyed as the rest of the monastery, as if time had indeed passed. So that man must have been right, right?
For five whole years, she had truly been asleep.
She barely remembered any of it.
The only thing she remembered before waking up was how, five years ago, Rhea transformed into her Immaculate One form and destroyed one of the towers during their battle. It crumbled just as Byleth was charging towards her, and Byleth could only hear Edelgard scream in the distance as the rubble started to fall over her head. She remembered trying to dodge it, getting hit with stone as dust blinded her, and falling backwards as she kept hearing Edelgard scream her name…and then, nothing.
There was just nothing until the day she woke up, as if she closed her eyes to open them a second later.
But it hadn’t been a second.
It had been five years.
She remembered her promise to Edelgard, of meeting her and the rest of her students during the Millennium Festival. But as she sneaked inside Garreg Mach, she saw no one.
On both a whim and a last remnant of hope, she hoped to find them atop the Goddess Tower. Or at least, to find Edelgard. They had met there once before, and she had told Byleth how it was a special place for her…so maybe she was there, waiting, as unlikely as that seemed.
And when Byleth finally got to the top…no one seemed to be there.
She was sad, of course. But she wasn’t surprised.
She wanted to turn to leave, but she heard a voice that made her freeze;
“You…where did you find that jacket?”
She immediately recognized the voice as Edelgard’s, and she felt a rush of joy.
But before Byleth could turn around to meet her, she heard Edelgard shout;
“How dare you wear her clothes! How dare you take her sword!”
And Byleth turned to see someone run towards her as they screamed in rage, a giant axe in hand and ready to swing at her. Byleth blocked the axe just in time before it sliced her stomach, and as she blocked the attack, she could see their scarred face as their features contorted with fury.
“I will kill you for defiling her corpse! I will hang you from the gates of Enba-“ as the woman screamed, she stopped once she focused on Byleth’s face, as if she had suddenly recognized her. Her face was no longer filled with rage but surprised instead, “are…are you really her? My teacher…”
Even if her face had changed, the tone when she uttered her nickname remained the same one that Byleth had always known since she met her.
“Edelgard?” Byleth asked, and the woman retreated as if Byleth’s voice had triggered something inside her head.
She dropped her axe.
“Professor…I thought…we thought you were dead…”
Edelgard’s voice drifted off, and Byleth took a moment to study the woman in front of her.
She wore heavy armor as if she was fighting in the front lines. A huge red cape covered most of her body, and her white hair was messy. Edelgard seemed to have poorly cut it shorter, as now it was shoulder length and uneven, and it seemed like it hadn’t been properly combed in ages. She also wore a crown atop her head, but it was everything short of regal. It seemed more like rough demon-like horns that darted out of a circle of steel around her head, firmly keeping them in their place. But what seemed to strike Byleth the most was her face. Her lavender eyes seemed to have lost some color, and were now close to grey that matched her discolored hair. She seemed to have bags under her eyes, resulting from days without being able to sleep soundly. And the center of her face had a huge and nasty scar that ran from her forehead to her cheek, right side of her face to her left.
“What happened to you, Edelgard?” Byleth couldn’t help letting out, a comment that only seemed to anger Edelgard.
“How can you ask that when you were the one who ran away from us? Do you even begin to realize how much I suffered, thinking that you were dead? The things I’ve done to avenge your death when in reality you were alive and well, and you didn’t say anything!”´
Edelgard’s voice rose as she got angrier at Byleth.
“Every single day for the past five years, I’ve heard your voice! Telling me to find you! Telling me that I couldn’t sleep until I buried you! I’ve destroyed lives just searching for a single trace of you! Every night I’ve heard your voice begging me to bring you home to me! How could you do this to me?”
Byleth watched as Edelgard became furious. And she felt guilty. She felt like it was her fault.
She tried to reach out, place a hand on Edelgard’s shoulder in a desperate attempt to comfort her…only for Edelgard to slap her hand away.
“Don’t touch me!” Edelgard screamed, and Byleth immediately retreated her hand, “how could you even…I became a monster just to find you! I’ve killed so many just to see you again! I couldn’t stand hearing your voice and still, it kept coming back…and now…now it’s stopped.”
Edelgard took her hands to her head, as if she was having a terrible headache. And Byleth saw tears streaming down her face.
“Why have you only returned now, my teacher? You died…and now you’re back…you’re really here… why are you here?”
Edelgard looked up at her. She was crying now. Byleth stood silent as she wished to cry as well.
“You’ve finally come back to me, my teacher. So why does it hurt even more?”
“I’m sorry” Byleth broke down, “I couldn’t…I really couldn’t come back to you until now. I wanted to, I really did…”
Edelgard closed her eyes.
“You’re too late, my teacher.”
With that, Edelgard left the Goddess Tower. She left Byleth alone there, and Byleth crumbled as various emotions rushed inside her. She finally allowed herself to cry at just how broken Edelgard was.
And she wished she could use the Divine Pulse to go back five whole years.
Byleth didn’t see Edelgard the days after, apart from meetings and missions. But even then, she didn’t speak to her. Everyone else was overjoyed with Byleth’s return, but they all confessed to being worried for Edelgard as the Emperor isolated herself more and more.
Even Hubert came to Byleth once, desperate that he could no longer reach Her Majesty.
And Byleth was scared for Edelgard.
They had all told her of how Edelgard threw herself at enemies, fearless and hungry for revenge, killing soldier after soldier as she hoped that someone had kept Byleth captive as a war prisoner despite also believing Byleth was most likely dead. They told her of how ruthless she became when dealing with soldiers from the Church, desperate to plunge her axe on Rhea’s body for revenge. How enemy soldiers started calling her ‘the merciless demon’, and how terrified children told the tale of the ‘widowed Emperor’, said to scream the name of her dead beloved as she wiped out armies of her enemies. How she would often ramble about Byleth to her army. About what she had to so that Byleth could be happy. On some days, she'd tell them she needed to find the professor. On others, she'd tell them they had to avenge her death.
For each story, Byleth only grew more desperate.
She knew she needed to reach Edelgard. She knew the Edelgard she loved and whom she chose to follow was still there, under all that pain. And she knew she had to reach her before she was too late again.
One evening, Edelgard retired to her room, which was now Rhea’s old room on the third floor. And Byleth followed her, much to Edelgard’s distaste. Byleth begged Edelgard to let her talk to her, and after much persuasion, Byleth finally managed to get Edelgard to listen.
Edelgard let her inside the room before shutting the door behind them. And as Byleth entered, she could see that the room had been almost destroyed.
Mirrors had been broken by fists, paintings of the Goddess or Rhea herself had been scratched and torn by nails and the desk had been turned upside down, as if someone had pulled drawers and scattered papers all over the place. It was unsettling, to say the least.
Byleth did notice a drawing sticking out under papers thrown on the floor though, and she picked it up to catch a glimpse of a portrait of a woman with features similar to hers and teal hair, just like Byleth used to have. The portrait smiled gently at her, and Edelgard was quick to snatch it away from Byleth’s hands.
“If you’re here to touch my items, I will make you leave” Edelgard warned, and Byleth apologized for her curiosity.
But Byleth couldn’t help asking her if that was her, drawn in that paper.
And Edelgard could only sigh.
“It is. I drew you, at my time in the Academy” Edelgard confessed.
“But you still have it” Byleth couldn’t help commenting.
“Yes, I do” Edelgard confessed again, as she stared at the drawing. Her hands gripped the paper, and for a moment Byleth was sure Edelgard would tear it into pieces…but she never did.
“It was the only way to remember your face, when you were gone” Edelgard quietly let out, and Byleth noticed how her hands trembled slightly.
The whole interaction made something sting inside Byleth’s heart.
“Do you hate me?” Byleth finally asked her.
“No. I could never hate you” Edelgard told her, as her eyes lifted from the drawing to finally face Byleth, “I did feel betrayed, even if it wasn’t your fault. But I could never hate you and the moment I recognized you and realized you weren’t another hallucination, I was happy. But I also feel empty. I became a horrible monster…and it was all for nothing. I did horrible things while you were gone, my teacher. Just so that I could see you again. But you never showed. And now...you're here. It was all for nothing.”
“It wasn’t for nothing" Byleth told her, "everyone told me that you still protected them regardless of everything, even if it was for my memory. You kept your friends safe, Edelgard.”
Edelgard laughed, but it was a sad laugh that chilled Byleth’s bones. She crumbled the drawing in her hands, throwing it aside back on the floor. And then she spoke again;
“I don’t have any friends. I don’t deserve any friends. Ever since I can remember, my dream has been to create a better world, regardless if I live to see it or not. And then you came along and I wished to survive just to see it with you. But when you were taken from me, I felt empty again…and it hurt more because I had something I had lost yet again, and loss is worse than living in ignorance.”
Byleth stepped closer, closing the distance between them.
“You have me now, Edelgard. You won’t lose me again.”
“You can’t promise that” Edelgard spat, but she didn’t move away. Instead, she lifted one hand to touch Byleth’s cheek, caressing it gently as if she was making sure that Byleth was really there in the flesh and bone. As Byleth leaned into the touch, Edelgard jerked her hand away, “did Hubert tell you to lie to me? To tell me you won’t leave me so that I’ll stop hurting? Is that why you're pretending to like me?”
“No, of course not! I’m only here because I care about you, and I want to be with you.”
Edelgard laughed again. And again, there it was: hurt, pain, disbelief…as if Byleth’s words couldn’t reach her.
“Do you take me for an idiot? You clearly ran away from me for five years, hid somewhere until you either had regrets or you had nowhere else to go. And now, you think that I’m not aware of how everyone feels about me? How they fear their Emperor will snap, and promise me friendship and love in hopes that I don’t destroy them? They’ll probably murder me once this is over. They're only here because the Empire is winning. But I don’t care. If they do kill me like they tried to kill my father, I want you to be the one to do it. I want to laugh in your face as you do it.”
As she heard Edelgard, Byleth couldn’t help feeling horrified.
“Edelgard, no one will kill you! Why are you saying these things? We’re your friends, we…I love you! I really love you!”
“No one could ever love a monster, Byleth. I’m a weapon. I’ve always been their weapon.”
As she uttered those words, Edelgard seemed devoid of emotion. And Byleth could feel tears streaming down her face.
“That’s not true, Edelgard! You’re not like that! You’re not a monster…”
As Byleth’s voice died out, all she could do was lean forward to embrace Edelgard. Edelgard shivered under her touch, but she didn’t pull away. So Byleth merely hugged tight.
“You’re not a monster nor a weapon…you’re Edelgard, and I love you. So please… please don’t say those terrible things about yourself.”
Byleth pulled away slightly to see Edelgard’s face. But she couldn’t see a hint of emotion in her. And she knew that she didn’t believe her words. So Byleth did the only thing she could think of doing; she kissed Edelgard.
Edelgard didn’t move, but the kiss seemed to catch her off guard. Byleth just kept deepening their kiss, determining how far Edelgard would let her go. She kissed her and tried to coax Edelgard into opening her mouth with her tongue, and after a while, Edelgard’s lips did open to allow her entrance. Byleth’s hands moved to cup Edelgard’s face as they shared kisses, and she was surprised to see that Edelgard let her.
But just when Byleth thought that Edelgard wouldn’t react much, she felt Edelgard’s hands on her waist, trying to pull down Byleth’s shorts. Byleth broke the kiss to see Edelgard’s reaction, and she saw that Edelgard looked rather unfazed, but her eyes had a special glimmer to them. It was as if a part of Edelgard was alive again, deep down inside her.
“Will you really let me take you?” Edelgard asked her as her hands paused their ministrations but still rested over Byleth’s shorts, ready to yank them down at Byleth’s word.
“I’ll make you mine” Edelgard warned, her face still stoic and her voice low as her eyes studied Byleth’s face, almost as if ready to devour her, “do you want to be mine, Byleth? All mine?”
Byleth nodded again, answering her with a breathy ‘yes.’
Edelgard pulled Byleth’s shorts down, her tights and undergarments following them so that Byleth’s sex became exposed. Edelgard’s hands then roamed over Byleth’s bosom, armored gloves tracing her skin as Byleth shivered at the touch of cold steel.
“You’ll become tainted by my name…the mad Emperor’s wife. Would you let me make you my wife, Byleth?” Edelgard mused as her fingers traced near Byleth’s entrance, moving to tease getting inside. Once again, Byleth moaned yes.
Edelgard’s fingers finally slipped inside Byleth, much to her delight. They felt cold and stiff, but Byleth still moaned in pleasure as they touched her where she needed it the most. She slumped over Edelgard, arms wrapped around Edelgard’s shoulders as Edelgard started to move her fingers in and out.
“Everyone will think you have lost your mind, marrying a demon like me…but I’ll keep you safe. I’d burn anyone who tried to kill you again. No one will take you away from me” Edelgard kept rambling, but Byleth was only half-listening as she felt Edelgard’s fingers inside her, pumping in and out and sending jolts of pleasure up her spine.
Until Edelgard stopped.
And Byleth cried out in protest, only to feel Edelgard’s hands rise up to cup her face. Byleth could feel her own juices as Edelgard touched her face with the hand that was inside her only moments before. She stared into Byleth’s eyes, her gray and tired eyes boring into Byleth’s.
“Everyone has used me, Byleth. My uncle, the Church, the nobles, the Agarthans…but you never used me, Byleth. You’re different. You made me believe I could be free and I truly love you” Edelgard let out, as she still cupped Byleth’s face, “which is why it’s almost a pity that you love this scarred beast I have become.”
Before Byleth could comfort her, Edelgard clashed her lips onto Byleth’s. She was rough, desperately devouring Byleth’s mouth to prevent the words from being spoken. She told Byleth to shush amidst the kisses, and when Byleth finally gave up, she pulled away.
“It’s alright, my love. This monster will love you in the best way it can. Head to bed, Byleth.”
Byleth did as she was told, undressing under Edelgard’s command before she lied down on her back, on the bed. Edelgard climbed on top of her, still fully clothed as she ordered Byleth not to touch her or try to remove her clothes. Byleth agreed, and it didn’t take long before she found her hands being pinned over her head by one of Edelgard’s hands, as the other darted to Byleth’s sex yet again.
Byleth was still slick and wet from Edelgard’s previous teasing, so Edelgard easily slid three fingers inside her, even rougher than before. Byleth shivered yet again upon being penetrated by the cold steel of Edelgard’s armor above her gloves, but the contrast of the that cold and the warmth of Byleth’s walls proved to become pleasing as Edelgard kept moving her fingers.
As Byleth cried out her name, Edelgard bent down to whisper in Byleth’s ear;
“My wife…you are the most precious thing. So sweet and pure…and I almost envy you. But you’re mine now, all mine…and nothing else matters...”
As Edelgard chanted those words, Byleth couldn’t help calling her name ever so sweetly. Edelgard laughed, her fingers moving deeper and faster as Byleth made louder noises, thrashing slightly under Edelgard. Edelgard couldn’t even resist leaving her marks in Byleth’s skin, her teeth sinking into Byleth’s neck as Byleth cried out in pleasure.
“Did that hurt?” Edelgard asked her, her demeanor now shifting to concern. And Byleth could have sworn she heard the voice of the sweet and genuinely kind young woman she had once fallen in love with.
“No, it didn’t hurt…it feels good” Byleth answered, and as soon as she did, it seemed like Edelgard had changed yet again.
“I’ll leave my mark on you. Mine. You’re mine” Edelgard started to ramble again, as her teeth left more marks in Byleth’s neck and shoulders.
As Edelgard’s fingers moved even faster, the hand that pinned Byleth’s above her head seemed to release her, and Edelgard descended so that her mouth could give some attention to Byleth’s breasts. Byleth felt overwhelmed as her orgasm drew near, her walls clenching around Edelgard’s fingers as Edelgard left bites on Byleth’s breasts.
When Byleth came on Edelgard’s fingers and started to cry out, Edelgard kissed her to shush her. But this time, her kiss was soft and gentle, completely different from all their previous kisses.
Byleth pulled Edelgard close, her fingers combing Edelgard’s messy and unkempt hair as best as she could when her fingers found knots.
And Edelgard turned absolutely tame under Byleth’s touch, her mouth pressing soft kisses on the teeth marks she left on Byleth’s body, as if trying to gently kiss the marks away. Byleth merely hummed as she tried to comfort Edelgard, pretending not to see the tears on Edelgard’s eyes.
She let her Emperor cry, cuddling her and kissing her temple as she saw that scared young woman she loved once again.
She held Edelgard until Edelgard fell asleep on her arms.
Her Edelgard who was still somewhere inside her.
It could take years. It could take her whole life, even.
But Byleth would bring her Edelgard back from this very dark place she was in one day.