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This Time, Let Me Find You

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“My younger brother wanted to come with me so bad,” at some point during the journey, Christophe mentions Ashe for the first time. Dedue’s attention takes a sharp turn away from his current conversation with Dimitri and Felix, totally forgetting the other two teenagers.

 

“Brother? I thought you were Lord Lonato’s only boy?” Rowan’s loud voice shoots from a corner of the entourage. He senses juicy content from that sentence alone, winking at the Gaspard heir. “Good for him!”

 

“Adoptive brother, Rowan. Chris’s dad adopted three kids three years ago. You’ve got that big nose for gossips and you never heard about that?”

 

Christophe frowns, “Why do I think you sound really weird?”

 

“Oh, I thought your father was courting another woman since we never heard of him getting remarried.”

 

Christophe chokes, nearly falling off his horse, “Oh my goddess, Rowan! He would never—Sothis almighty, now you totally tainted my memories.” He shudders at the image of his father bedding a woman, feeling nauseous.

 

“There is nothing scandalous about that. Your father is a virile man with healthy needs—”

 

“Rowan, my oldest younger brother is already thirteen this year—”

 

“And he definitely needs healthy sex li—”

 

Rodrigue coughs loudly, “Rowan, please refrain from this type of talking.”

 

“Your Grace, the Knights talk about handsome men and women all the time! You were never bothered before!”

 

The very tired Duke eyes the four teenagers in the group, then sending Rowan a warning glance.

 

The Knight finally recalls there are kids around. “Oh. Oh! Apologies, Your Grace. My bad, Your Highness. You didn’t hear anything.”

 

“What is healthy sex?” Felix asks.

 

Dimitri doesn’t realize his face has already flushed up after hearing the exchange. He isn’t unfamiliar with the Knights’ preferred topics after fighting alongside in his past life, but hearing Rowan mention Rodrigue, of all people, is very used to the Knights talking about sex sends Dimitri’s brain into a spiral. Does he participate in the discussion? Talking about beautiful men and women he is potentially going to develop a relationship with and finally giving Glenn and Felix a stepmother? Does he talk about… sex with all the other Knights?

 

And when Lambert was working with the Knights of Faerghus, did he do the same? Did he ever—

 

Goodness. Dimitri groans silently. Thinking about Lambert and Patricia’s sex life traumatizes him.

 

And now it traumatizes him even more when he recalls how Alex and Sitri walk in on him making love to Byleth, thinking about how the view is probably going to traumatize the twins in the future if they still remember.

 

“They were probably too young to remember. Don’t worry,” the goddess speaks, lazily.

 

But Alex talked about seeing me being naked the other day.

 

The goddess’ next words die when Rodrigue diverts his inquiring gaze at Dimitri, who finally realizes he’s appeared too fluttered at the mention of sex. The 13-year-old Dimitri should still be pure at heart. He shouldn’t understand what sex means.

 

So the Prince feigns an innocent, curious look, tilting his head just so slightly as if asking the same question in silence.

 

Some Knights struggle to muffle their laughs. Some look amused. Christophe has his mouth covered by both hands, holding back a chortle, while Cassandra laughs out loud. Dimitri knows what Rodrigue feels right now since he’s been through the same scenario—the Duke wants to die.

 

“When you’re older, Felix.”

 

Luckily, the younger Fraldarius let the topic slide and asks no further questions.

 

Dedue doesn’t seem to be listening. Dimitri knows he’s thinking about Ashe and how they might potentially meet again one day.

 

And they will save Christophe from his tragedy.

 

Byleth stirs awake in front of Dimitri, waking to the end of this awkward exchange. He looks confused. The older teen has been riding with Dimitri as of late after feeling too constrained inside the wagon.

 

“Byleth, how are you feeling?” Dimitri slightly adjusts his position, trying to make Byleth more comfortable.

 

Byleth is still too tired to respond. He hums and drifts back to sleep again, unaware of how worried his conditions make the Prince. Dedue notices, frowning his concerns.

 

Sothis, do you know what’s going on?

 

It takes the goddess a while to answer, “Give me some time, Dimitri. I’ll need to observe him more.”

 

And with how much time Sothis also spends sleeping, Dimitri sighs, wondering if he will ever get an explanation.

-------

Dimitri can see the spires of Garreg Mach shining with gold from a distance. As if fate is playing with the Prince once again, the group has taken the exact same route Alois and the three house leaders took in his last life, bringing the professor-to-be to the monastery for the first time.

 

Right now, at Remire Village, the Knights are restocking supplies since the Garreg Mach market is always more expensive. The four teens sit outside of a small restaurant, Dimitri coaxing Byleth to take one more bite of his fish sandwich.

 

“We might miss dinner at the monastery. There is still quite some road to ride, so it may be a better idea to eat a bit more.”

 

Byleth hums again, tired to talk. He takes another bite, chewing slowly.

 

Fortunately, the boy with green hair isn’t hard to budge on this matter, miraculously finishes half of his food in the end. Dimitri wraps the leftover up to save it for the road, just in case Byleth needs it.

 

“Dimitri, if you’re ever hungry, just open that sack of yours. I’ve packed enough food for you.”

 

The Prince freezes, suddenly recalling what Byleth used to do during the war, and yet he was a total jerk, barking insults at the love of his life for months. It was a miracle that Byleth still loved him. Now with the role reversed, fate must be punishing him by giving him the same burden Byleth took on years into the future.

 

But Dimitri thinks his mission has been too easy to be an actual punishment. Byleth doesn’t bite or barks. He only sleeps.

 

“I’m sorry that I keep troubling you,” Byleth mutters.

 

“No, please, don’t apologize. I love doing this for you—” he suddenly realizes how weird he must have sounded since Felix turns with a weird look on his face. “No, I mean… Ugh, my apologies. I didn’t mean to…”

 

“Hey kid,” a coarse voice silences the Prince..

 

Fate seems to be repeating itself yet again, bringing Dimitri another familiar face.

 

Jeralt and two mercenaries stand in front of the group of four, looking a bit ragged from the road.

 

“Cap—” he shouldn’t be aware of his identity yet. Dimitri almost bites his tongue when he quickly corrects his mistake, gaining a weird look from everyone. “Good afternoon, sir. May I help you with anything?”

 

“Ah cut that shit, Prince. I’m here for my son before you all take him to that monastery.”

 

“Your son?!” Felix is in the middle of chewing a strip of beef jerky, turning his eyes to Byleth, shocked.

 

Byleth, on the verge of nodding off, blinks several times to keep himself awake, “I thought you read my letter.”

 

“I’ve got it seared into my guts. Nearly gave me a heart attack. Now, let’s go.”

 

“Is there a reason you wouldn’t let me go to the monastery?”

 

“I thought I’d made it really clear before. I don’t care if you fly off to Almyra or Dagda or somewhere that isn’t even on the map, but never central Fódlan. And don’t ask me questions.”

 

“You’re not answering my question,” Byleth says, visibly exhausted. “Those people wielded strange weapons and tried to kill me. I need to figure out who they are and what they want at least.” He has to take a deep breath in the end, as if breathing itself has given him trouble.

 

“Are you alright, son?” Jeralt frowns.

 

Byleth only hums. His father knows the boy wouldn’t say anything even if something is wrong, and instinct tells him to check his temperature.

 

Jeralt’s hand freezes on the teen’s forehead.

 

“I’m fine, Father.”

 

“No, you’re freezing.”

 

Dimitri feels insulted, immediately putting a hand on Byleth’s forehead. He has been staying with Byleth all the time, and he has made sure to bundle him up with extra layers of cloaks, and now Jeralt is telling Dimitri that he has neglected Byleth’s needs? “His temperature seems to be normal, sir.”

 

Jeralt rolls his eyes, “You’ve seen him as a dragon. His body temperature should be significantly higher than any human.”

 

“Oh,” Dimitri nods but then, when realizing what that means, raises his voice, “Byleth, why didn’t you tell me anything?” And he finds his hand still in contact with Byleth’s skin. The Prince flushes from head to toe, withdrawing as if he has been burnt. “I’m… my apologies. I shouldn’t…”

 

And yet Byleth doesn’t respond. He has drifted off to sleep, head leaning on the Prince’s shoulder.

 

“Alright kids, I’ll take over from here,” Jeralt picks Byleth up. “I don’t remember if I’ve said this… probably not, but thank you for saving him. Anyway, why do I bother? He saved you all, too.”

 

“Where—where are you taking him?” Dimitri panics. He finally sees Byleth again. He can’t just let Jeralt take him away.

 

Jeralt quirks a brow at the overeager Prince.

 

Oh. He shouldn’t worry so much about a person who he just met a few days ago, and he can’t possibly tell Jeralt that Byleth was his wife and his love of life. “My apologies. It shouldn’t be my place to inquire but…” but Dimitri doesn’t get to finish the sentence. His mind stops, heart drops, drops, and drops into the chasm Byleth fell into. He sees blood dripping from Byleth’s clothes, tainting the ground crimson. Dedue and Felix notice, too, eyes widening, any sound of fear silenced down in their throat.

 

“What is it?” Jeralt frowns, placing Byleth on his horse. Then he sees it. The former Captain finds both of his hands covered in blood. His gaze snaps to the unconscious boy—the fabrics where Jeralt held on to have blood seeping through.

-------

“What in the world is this ruckus—goodness gracious what happened to the poor boy?” when the crowd burst into the infirmary at around four in the afternoon, Manuela has already poured herself some wine, ready to drink the night away, and yet the sudden appearance of a frantic prince and a worried duke and a very pale father, along with two other teens still in shock and a bunch of confused knights, really ruins her plan. Dimitri doesn’t have the energy or mind to wonder if another man has just rejected her once again.

 

Upon seeing Byleth, the former songstress immediately puts everything away, rushing to settle him in a bed.

 

Dimitri’s fists clench. How could he never notice a thing? Was Byleth in pain all the time? Why did he say nothing?

 

The Prince tries to get an answer from Sothis, but the goddess is sleeping on her throne again.

 

“My son was attacked by a—a bunch of weird assholes wielding weird weapons. At first, his new friends didn’t notice anything but just now after lunch, we thought he fell asleep and then… we found him bleeding everywhere,” Jeralt explains, his voice near inaudible in the end, trembling. “Please… save him.”

 

Dimitri has never seen the Captain so helpless before.

 

It is all my fault. I should have noticed. It’s all my fault. My fault and Byleth will die in front of me once again and I can’t save him

 

“And does nobody else have the same symptoms? Bleeding?” Manuela starts channeling white magic into his body, hoping to stop the rapid blood loss. The crowd collectively shakes their heads.

 

“I only found his body temperature lower than usual,” says Jeralt, on the verge of choking.

 

Manuela frowns. She pauses the magic flow for a second, checking his temperature, “His body temperature is normal.”

 

The former Captain has made it clear to everyone in the group—Byleth as a dragon must remain a secret. “No, you don’t understand…” frustrated, Jeralt turns to Dimitri and Rodrigue.

 

Dimitri blurts out at once, “He was always sleeping, easily tired. When we just met him, he was healing fine, and he even managed to put down many of our attackers with ease. At that time, he had about fourteen hours of sleep every day, including the naps in the afternoon, but recently he rarely stays awake. His appetite has been worse. At first, he could finish half of his portion for two meals a day. Now he barely eats anything. And—”

 

He notices everyone in the room is looking at him, and Dimitri suddenly realizes how ridiculously elaborate his account is—almost like a worried husband. Yet he can’t quite register the look on Jeralt’s face.

 

“Thank you, Prince Dimitri. This is indeed very strange…” Manuela doesn’t seem to pick up the strange atmosphere in the room. “Now, can someone be a dear and grab Lady Rhea for me, please? She should be in the audience hall right now, by the staircase in case you don’t know.”

 

No,” Jeralt suddenly raises his voice, “Not her.”

 

Rodrigue looks shocked, “Jeralt, this is…” Dimitri blinks. Does Rodrigue know who Jeralt is? But then he recalls Jeralt was already the Captain of the Knights of Seiros years ago when the Duke and the late King were studying at the Officers Academy.

 

Manuela cuts off the Duke to address the former captain, exasperated, “Well, excuse me sir, you want me to save your son, and here I’m bringing in another expert—”

 

“You don’t understand—”

 

“He’s dying! What do I not understand?”

 

The door opens. Rhea and Seteth enter the infirmary, and their sudden appearance silences everyone. Jeralt freezes at the sight of the archbishop, and then he turns his face away.

 

“Good afternoon, my guests from Faerghus,” Dimitri cringes at her iconic, decorous smile. After what happened at his funeral, the Prince can’t look at the archbishop with the same reverence he held before anymore. Then she turns to Jeralt, “And Captain Jeralt, it’s been years since you left the Knights of Seiros.”

 

Felix and the Knights gape at the two, but no one questions a thing when the archbishop is still speaking.

 

“Yeah, yeah. It’s been years, Rhea.”

 

Seteth clears his throat, “Lady Rhea.”

 

Jeralt sighs but relents, “Please, Lady Rhea, take a look at my son.”

-------

The things that happen next are blurry for Dimitri. Lady Rhea has been somewhat confused after checking Byleth’s conditions as if she has been expecting something different, something more. It only alarms the Prince, and the thought of Rhea might do something to Byleth haunts him since she finished the exam.

 

He can’t leave Byleth. Not after they finally met again, not after he so pathetically failed to notice something went amiss, and definitely not when Byleth’s life is still in danger.

 

“It seems his—energy, has been greatly interrupted by a strange force. He has a very peculiar power that will heal himself automatically, and so it did, but the new force eventually breaks the newly healed tissues, and so his wounds return,” Rhea says, and then her voice has something strange in it, “How was he injured, may I ask?”

 

“Like I said, it was the bandits who wielded strange weapons,” Jeralt speaks, stressing the words.

 

“And his general health?”

 

“He hasn’t been very healthy, but some children are just like so, aren’t they?” Jeralt says. The question alarms him.

 

The archbishop hums, thinking, and after a moment, “What was he like, when he was injured?”

 

“I’m not sure what you mean, Rhea,” Jeralt narrows his eyes.

 

From the corner of his eyes, a bloody Glenn stands, grinning just so widely at the unconscious boy. His cruel murmurs echo in the room. “Glenn—” Dimitri mutters quietly. He was taken into the monastery after the attack, right? And this Glenn is still bleeding, half of his body burnt with his bones exposed and…

 

When a hand touches Dimitri’s shoulder, his survival reflex brings him to pin that person to the wall. He hears a yelp, “Di—Dima!”

 

Dimitri’s vision clears, the fog of voices fades, and under his hand, he could’ve snapped Felix’s sternum if not Dedue held him back.

 

He loosens his grip immediately, hands sweaty, eyes full of terror, staggering back away from the younger boy. Felix slumps to the floor, coughing.

 

“Felix, I—” Dimitri stutters, unable to even mutter a coherent sentence, “I’m so… it’s all my… so sorry.”

 

Dedue pats the younger boy’s back, and Felix finally breathes normally. Everyone else in the room hears the commotion, which brings Rodrigue to them.

 

“Your Highness, are you alright?”

 

Dimitri snaps, “You should check your son, not me.”

 

“But—”

 

I nearly killed him, Rodrigue!

 

The room falls into silence. Manuela nearly drops a jar, shooting Dimitri a glare, and even Rhea pauses and turns her gaze to the Prince. There is something in Rhea’s eyes that Dimitri can’t register as if he is an object, a thing she has been searching for, but he doesn’t have the energy to think about it.

 

It happened again. I lost control even in the new world. Dimitri tries to turn the time back as Sothis did, and yet the flow of time continues. The goddess is still asleep, unaware of anything that just happened.

 

“Dimitri—” Rodrigue is in utter shock.

 

“I’ll… get some fresh air,” Dimitri mumbles before reaching for the door. Dedue tries to follow. “No, Dedue. Stay here, please.” Stay here for Byleth, for me.

 

Dimitri rushes out of the building. He can’t even pull himself together when he needs to stay with Byleth. He has hurt Felix, and Felix will hate him like in the last world, and he will hurt people again and…

 

“Dimitri,” a familiar voice calms back to him, a voice belongs to someone who occupies his life, body, and soul. The Prince turns around to find Byleth, the female mercenary turned professor, looking at him with mint eyes, voice gentle. “Dimitri, breathe with me. Focus on your breaths.”

 

He blinks, and Byleth disappears.

 

Right, breathing. Dimitri takes a long breath, in and out. He remembers Byleth told him to guide his thoughts back to the breathing and nothing else. Don’t panic when your mind drifts again. Just bring it back to yourself and try again.

 

Dimitri doesn’t know how long he has stood in the courtyard, but at some point, long after sunset, he blinks and sees Alex and Sitri sitting at the dining table in Fhirdiad.

-------

Dimitri the ghost realizes it is only hours after he departed from this world. Sylvain just returned that morning. He finds himself in the dining room, and lunch is on the table.

 

Flayn and the King Regent’s new family of four (Dimitri has a sour taste in his mouth) are right there, sitting on the opposite sides of the table—Flayn and Felix sitting next to Sitri, and Sylvain next to Alex. He is a bit confused by the sitting order because as the Regent, Felix should be sitting…

 

Dimitri finds the head of the table empty, with a single white rose sitting in front of his usual seat. The same arrangement is made for Byleth’s usual spot.

 

The atmosphere is weird. Something must have happened before he comes back. Felix treats Sitri’s fish fillet with great hatred, cutting through the soft meat as if chopping off an enemy’s head. (The last time Dimitri sees that expression from the raven-haired was five and half years ago in Enbarr.) Sylvain silently cuts Alex’s food with a steak knife, not even throwing a single joke at the table and simply putting sliced meat into the toddler’s plates.

 

Flayn, already sensing the tension in the air, still tries to be cheerful around the children, but Alex and Sitri are quiet, too quiet for Dimitri. He remembers how he and Byleth had to spend half an hour putting the twins into their high chairs, and usually, that process ended up with either twin (or both, when life hated him) breaking down into dreadful tears (“I want to plaaaaay!!! I don’t want fooood!!!”). For a second Dimitri thinks maybe they’ve grown up, grown out of the phase of dining table tantrums, but then he sees how disturbed, how scared the two children look.

 

“Felix! Sylvain!” Dimitri drifts to the two adults in the room, voice dark. “Did you terrorize my children?!”

 

For the living humans, of course, the late King is inaudible, invisible. And yet suddenly Alex shoots his head up.

 

“What the f—what did your father mean, Sylvain?” Felix spits the word out, almost blurting out the curse word in front of the children. “Why did he say he wanted to meet us all and then he’s late?”

 

Alex keeps looking at Dimitri, which comes to everyone’s attention. “Daddy,” he points at Dimitri. The ghost freezes on his spot.

 

Felix turns around to see where Alex is pointing at, and he simply frowns when seeing nothing.

 

“What’s wrong, Alex?” Sylvain pulls a very tired smile, trying to look happy around the children.

 

“Daddy, right there.”

 

Sylvain looks up then back at Alex, “Is he? Huh, how nice.” Obviously, he sees nothing.

 

Felix is rather tired, “Alex, eat your food.”

 

“Felix, that’s not nice—” Flayn protests.

 

“I really see him! He’s here!”

 

“Probably just his imaginary friend,” Felix sighs.

 

“Maybe it’s the goddess’ power!” Flayn says excitedly. “I’ve heard such a miracle.”

 

Felix resists the urge to roll his eyes, “Yeah? Making a child’s imaginary friend his dead parent? Pathetic.”

 

No! I can see him! I can see Daddy right there!

 

Felix drop the utensils on the plate. The “clack” sound throws Sitri out of her own thoughts. The girl has been looking longingly at the spot where Alex has been pointing at. Dimitri wonders if she can see him, too. They are twins after all...

 

“Alex, please... stop this,” Felix sounds so weak.

 

The boy looks deflated, dropping his head to the chest, but says nothing more.

 

“I heard some commotion in here just now, so I hope everything is alright” another man enters, the person who no one wants to see right now. “Or, Your Grace, you failed to provide suitable company for my son again?”

 

The former Margrave Gautier steps into the dining room, in his finest clothes—too grand for a guest.

 

FATHER,” Sylvain’s voice tightens, rage simmering.

 

“Did I? I find another person here rather unsuitable. His tardiness and intrusion have made him a rather terrible guest,” Felix says, voice strained.

 

“That depends on how you define the word, ‘guest.’ Some people regard themselves as the host, but they’re never aware that their presence is only temporary, and their arrogance will cost them a great price in the end.”

 

Is that a threat?” Sylvain stands up, palms slamming on the table. Sitri gets startled, nearly jumping out of her seat.

 

Dimitri rushes to his daughter immediately. Don’t worry, Sitri. It’s only the grown-ups fighting. They really are annoying, are they not?

 

But he’s not sure if Sitri can hear him. She’s rather quiet today. The ghost glares knives at Aldric Gautier for scaring his daughter. They should have had this fight elsewhere when the children aren’t around.

 

“I see that you are back from Gautier,” Aldric says, voice calm. “The travel shouldn’t have been even necessary in the first place if you’d found yourself an obedient, suitable woman as wife.”

 

Felix has to cut in when Sylvain is clearly going to punch the man, “Sylvain, sit down. Eat your lunch.”

 

Sylvain’s face clenches, but he relents, sitting down silently. Dimitri wonders if anger has granted Sylvain the Crest of Blaiddyd, since the younger Gautier nearly breaks his fork in half when he returns to his meal, his steak knife screeching against the plate.

 

Sylvain doesn’t have the appetite anymore—probably never in the first place, because the couple was aware Aldric was right here in the castle, planning something they’d never want to know.

 

The servants in the dining room steal a peek or two at the lords in the room. Anyone can tell the tension between these family members. Felix wants to kick them all out, but they will serve as witnesses if anything goes wrong. He doesn’t want Aldric to leave the castle and start telling everyone that they beat him up or something.

 

“Ah, Lady Flayn,” Aldric tilts his head when greeting the priestess, pretending he hasn’t been aware of her presence, “Please forgive me for not paying you a visit earlier.”

 

“Why are you here?” Sylvain bites every word before Flayn can say anything.

 

“Then, let’s talk about business,” Aldric settles down on Dimitri’s seat at the head of the table. He looks far too comfortable to be a guest as if this is his castle.

 

Sitri jumps out of her seat before anyone can say anything, nearly falling from the high chair. Dimitri hurries to pick her up but his hands grip in the air. “That is Father’s seat!” Sitri isn’t crying, isn’t angry, either; she is firm, never so determined. For a second Dimitri sees Byleth in her, standing in the middle of the battlefield, shouting orders to the Lions, generals, and soldiers.

 

Aldric pauses for a moment, a hint of shock shines in the deep of his eyes. Then he regains composure and smirks—this dastard smirks at my daughter. He turns to Felix, “Any suitable guardian should properly discipline their children, especially telling the girls when to talk and when to shut up.”

 

“In case you forgot, Lord Gautier, before Prince Alexandre takes the throne, this castle belongs to both the crown prince and the princess. You should probably respect the hosts’ rules,” Felix retorts. “If the Princess wants to mourn her parents in her own way, then she has the right.”

 

“Let’s talk about inheritance since we’ve mentioned it. Sylvain, are you going to sire an heir?”

 

Flayn grows uncomfortable, “Please allow me to remind you, Lord Gautier. Sylvain and Felix’s wedding was witnessed in front of the goddess. What you suggested is utterly...”

 

“I will not betray Felix.” Sylvain snaps. He really is in a mood of cutting people off today. “King Dimitri’s children are under our care now, and when Sitri comes of age, we will officially name her the heir to both Fraldarius and Gautier—of course, if she wants to.”

 

“A crestless—girl,” the former Margrave hums.

 

“Mind your next words if you’re going to shit about Crest and inheritance and all the bullshit.”

 

“I have expected this outcome, Sylvain, and I have no objection to this arrangement,” Aldric’s next words surprise the couple.

 

“But?” Felix huffs.

 

“But on one condition,” Aldric says, taking a vial of strange liquid out of his inner pocket. “I procured this concoction from a sage, who has the skill to ensure crestless children a promising future. The girl will start medical treatment today. The sage will continue providing the potion until she is deemed—complete.”

 

Even Felix snaps, “Why does inheritance have anything to do with medical treatment and potions?”

 

“Please rest assured, I hold my utmost respect and loyalty to the late King and, therefore, to His Highness. I will not do anything inappropriate to the girl.”

 

“The girl has a name,” Felix slams his glass to the table. A few servants shiver in the corner.

 

Aldric completely ignores him, “Someone will have to wield the Lance of Ruin one day. Someone will have to protect the border between the Kingdom and the barbarians from Sreng. I’ve heard about more drastic approaches from the sage to solve the problem, and yet I refrained from them, though tempting, and resorted to the second. Slower, but with lower risks, since the girl is the late King’s daughter after all. Therefore, it is the most significant for the girl to bear children as soon as possible—children with Crest. With this potion, she will bleed in five years, and by then, I would recommend you to take care of the matter to ensure her children bear the Crest of Gautier,”—even the sweet, kind priestess’ face is painted with utter disgust and disbelief—“but if you have concerns bedding the girl, I will personally handle such a matter...”

 

Felix, on the other side of the table, can’t stop Sylvain from lunging at his father. “Sylvain!”

 

You fucking monster!” Sylvain punches Aldric in the face, and Felix hears something crack. “She is only a CHILD!

 

When the Regent rushes to father and son, yanking back Aldric’s collar to separate the two, he sees blood—too much blood for a broken nose or tooth. Sylvain’s face and upper chest is all red. Felix almost thinks Sylvain is hurt, but then Felix sees both of his own hands are soaked in blood, and crimson is oozing through Aldric’s chest.

 

A steak knife sits in Aldric’s chest, halfway through his sternum.

 

The older man struggles to mutter a few words, but none is audible, muffled by the blood he wheezes. He tries to grab the knife, tries to tighten his grip on Sylvain’s throat, tries to throw more insults at his son, and yet all ends with futile. His hands go limp, his head slumping to the floor, and he is still.

 

Servants scream. Alex faints. Sitri falls into complete silence, watching the horror with widened eyes. Sylvain finally comes to his sense, realizing what he has done. He takes a few steps back until he sinks to the floor, face absent of all trace of blood.

 

Flayn rushes to their side, trembling to channel faith magic into Aldric’s motionless body. Felix takes a deep breath, snapping at the servants, “What are you gawking at? Summon the healers! Take the Prince and Princess back to the nursery!”

 

The healers arrive, trying their best to save the former Margrave. Twenty minutes later, Flayn turns to Felix, quietly shaking her head.

 

“Fuck,” Sylvain chokes, his eyes red.

 

Felix drags him to the empty hallway where no one will overhear them.

 

Sylvain can’t help shaking. “I… fuck, what did I do? It’s… it’s all my fault…”

 

“Sylvain, hey, look at me,” Felix has a hand on his husband’s cheek, wet with tears. He forces those amber eyes to meet his gaze. “This is not your fault.”

 

“Not my fault? I wasn’t assaulted. He didn’t threaten our life. There is no way for me to get out of this,” his face is sweaty, his voice trembling. “I should’ve expected this… The nobles have been trying to find any excuse to prove we are incapable and unsuitable as the twins’ guardians. And now I... did this. They just got all they wanted, Felix. What do you think will happen to Alex and Sitri? I can’t… Sothis. We can’t fail Dimitri and the professor—"

 

“This is not your fault,” Felix repeats. “Any parents would kill anyone who tries to abuse their children. I won’t let them take you to Essex. We will fight this together.”

 

“How? Felix, how?”

 

“We will take them to Almyra. I will talk to Claude. He will take us in—”

 

“Then who will handle Fódlan? We fought the war and Dimitri worked so hard to try to bring the continent together. We can’t just abandon everything he cherished. And by sheltering us, Claude is risking a war between Fódlan and Almyra—"

 

“I don’t fucking care about what the dead boar thinks. I don’t give a damn if I have to wage a fucking war to protect the kids, but I will not let the assholes take you away, and they will not take the little boars. Never.”

 

“IYou think they’ll let us simply flee? We’ll have to cross the entire Alliance territory or Ailell. We’ll need to get past Fódlan’s Throat, where we have the highest level of security. How are we even going to run?” Sylvain’s voice peters out. “You… you didn’t do anything. You have nothing to do with this—”

 

“Sylvain, don’t—”

 

“I’ll turn myself in. Then you are still the King Regent. You are still their guardian.”

 

“No, please Sylvain. Please don’t do this to me—” Dimitri has never seen Felix so helpless, so desperate before. “You promised you wouldn’t leave me alone. You can’t… You can’t…”

 

No, no. Sylvain can’t go to Essex.

 

“Your Highness—"

 

They will rip him apart. They’ve been waiting for this,

 

“Your Highness.”

 

He did this for Sitri… He…

 

“Prince Dimitri.”

 

Dimitri gasps for air. When he turns his head back, the Prince is back at the monastery. Rhea stands right there, smiling as usual. “Are you unwell?”

 

“No, I…” Dimitri pants then shakes his head, hard. “How is he? Is he…”

 

“Yes, your friend is well,” the archbishop says, voice gentle.

 

“I’ll… I’ll go to the infirmary now.”

 

“Dimitri, for now, I don’t want anyone to disrupt his sleep. Professor Manuela and Captain Jeralt will take good care of him.”

 

“I…” Dimitri wants to argue, but he recalls how violent he was towards Felix. He himself is unwell now. He doesn’t want to hurt Byleth by accident, either. “Very well. Where is Sir Glenn resting? I shall visit him.”

 

“Oh, Sir Glenn left the monastery just yesterday, after his conditions stabilized. He asked me to send a letter to Faerghus. I shall have it delivered to your room later.”

 

Right. No Glenn, either. Dimitri nods.

 

Rhea speaks again. “Did you know Captain Jeralt before this incident? You didn’t seem to be shocked.”

 

“No. We only first met in Remire,” something in that voice alarms the Prince. “Stranger things have happened recently, have they not? I don’t think Captain Jeralt’s identity should have surprised me that much after I witnessed his son’s incredible skills.”

 

Rhea nods and pauses for a second, “If that’s the case, I’m wondering if you’d like to join me for tea. Would you do me the honor, Prince Dimitri?”