Chapter 1: Abnegation
Felix Hugo Fraldarius was never one to confuse and mix his emotions with what is rational in the moment. There was never a choice he made that was in direct response to his feelings, no matter how impulsive he may be.
So why did he let it this time?
“Sir, may we ask where you are headed?”
Felix slows his horse as he holds the bundle in his arms tightly. He pulls the hood of his brown cloak further over his face. He hasn’t stopped, but the two knights are still following behind him. Felix looks down at the sleeping child in his arms just as one of the knights come to his side.
“Is that your child sir?”
“Do you bother all of the citizens carrying their child?” Felix snaps in return. His hand tightens on the reins of his horse, itching for his sword. He can’t pull it out now without dropping the child.
“By no means do we mean to cause you harassment however given that the princess of Fodlan has been kidnapped, we must check all who enter and leave the areas of the Kingdom.”
Felix takes a deep breath, stopping and carefully unmounting his horse. Then he pulls the cloak from off his head,
One of the knights immediately moves with his lance pointed but Felix’s reflexes moves him out of the way in time.
“I am carrying the King’s daughter so you better watch where you swing that lance. I am sure he would want his child back alive.” Felix sneers.
The knight ignores him, holding his lance back at his side, “Duke Fraldarius. By the King’s orders I am to bring you both back alive.”
Felix scoffs, grabbing his teal cloak from over his bag and placing it on the ground for the child to lay on. Ensuring the child is safe, Felix grabs his sword, the itch in his hands feeling soothed immediately.
“That boar doesn’t own me. He lost his right to me long ago.” He states before moving at the knight. It doesn’t take long to disarm the knight, his lance flying across the path. It takes even less time for his sword to drive through the man’s armor and push him to the ground.
The second knight immediately turns on his horse, taking off towards the Kingdom. This elicits another scoff from Felix as he holds his hand out, readying a Thoron spell. Impatient, Felix shoots him down, watching the knight instantly become ash.
“What are the King’s knights if they run away?”
He is pulled from his thoughts when he hears a cry and moves quickly to the child. He picks her up, trying to soothe her as he looks around.
Death. He needs to stage their death, or at least something that would imply it.
He glances briefly at the pool of blood the knight lay in before grabbing his bag from the horse’s back. He pulls out a small shirt belonging to the child before zipping it back up and placing the child on top.
He quickly grabs his cloak from the ground and moves to the knight, smearing as much blood on his cloak as possible while else making deliberate blood stains in the baby’s shirt. After doing that Felix glances near to river they are next to and stomps his boots into the blood before walking all the way to the edge of the lake.
Good, it would at least look like he had jumped with the child.
Bending down, he quickly dumps the bottoms of his boots into the water to wash off the blood before making his way back to the child and horse.
As he gathers the child back into his arms and gets back on the horse, Felix takes a look at the scene he’s left.
This was it. The deed was done. He had taken Dimitri’s child and never looked back.
No, he did look back once only for a moment. When he took off from the Fhirdiad Palace, he had glanced up at the balcony when he heard a loud cry: The queen. She was screaming, bent down with tears as Dimitri stood beside her trying to ease her crying and panic. Felix almost turned around; he almost went back. He was wrong and he knew it.
But in his moment of hesitation, Dimitri’s eye out turned towards him and Felix felt everything else turn to fire. All of the world’s burden and anger came through Dimitri’s eyes and all of the bitterness and anguish thrummed through Felix’s veins.
Dimitri had looked upon him in anger before. He had looked at him as if he were a ghost. Even merely a walking corpse sometimes. All of this was only during the war. Never before and never after.
But this look of hurt was something new to Felix. Something he did not and could not face.
This has to be done. He had thought as he urged his horse faster out of the palace.
Now, having been on the run for a few days, the reality of his actions have sunken in and the consequences of his actions are clear.
He took a child and that child is now his sole responsibility.
“Welcome sir, how can I help you?” A women smiles as he enters. It’s a small inn located in the middle of a quiet town right between Blaiddyd and Fraldarius.
“I need a place to stay.”
“Of course, how long do you need to stay?”
“Lovely. Let me get the room prepared for you.” The women nods. Felix moves to stand against the wall, facing the door to watch who comes in.
“Oh what a lovely baby you have there! She looks precious!” A random woman comes up to his side. Reflexively, Felix moves back from her, holding the child away cautiously. The women doesn’t seem to notice this, too enamored by the child.
“What is her name?”
Felix frowns and eyes the woman, “Why do you need to know that?”
Oblivious to Felix’s glaring she continues, “Oh… have you not named her, yet? She does look like a newborn. Is the mother not near?”
Felix takes a deep breath and ignores his hand itching for a sword again. The woman is harmless and none of the people in this small town would be aware of Dimitri’s missing daughter. At least not of yet.
“My wife died while giving birth.” The lie comes out, he peers down at the girl in his arms and feels guilt build back up in his chest as little hands come up grabbing the air.
“That’s… unfortunate. For a child to never meet or get a chance to remember their mother. There are children who live with that missing piece of their heart.” The woman sighs.
Felix frowns as he thinks of his own mother. He doesn’t recall anything about his mother at all and his father and Glenn never spoke of her really. The only thing he was ever told was that she died shortly after he was born. Dimitri’s birth mother also died when Dimitri was very young to the plague that came over Faerghus. Felix assumes that same plague took his mother with it.
“Isabelle.” He says suddenly, looking down at the baby. Isabelle Celia Fraldarius. His mother’s name which would now be this child’s name.
He feels something eat at his gut again when thinks of how Dimitri had not even the chance to give their daughter a name.
“Isabelle? What a beautiful name!” The woman pauses when a voice calls out for her across the room, “Well, I wish you both the best. Please stay well.”
Felix nods at the woman before training his eyes back to the child. “Isabelle, huh? Do you like that name?” He mutters. She makes a few babbling sounds before giggling in laughter. Felix cannot help the small smile that crosses his face, “We are in agreement then.”
“Sir, your room is ready.”
By the time Isabelle turns eight, Felix has settled them within a small village in the old Alliance territory. It’s very open, knights passing through often, but still perfect to keep Felix and Isabelle hidden. No one would suspect such an open village to be keeping the King’s daughter and the Duke within its space.
Isabelle typically plays freely with other children of the village while Felix either helps the villages with anything they need fixed or he works in the marketplace preparing food.
“Oh~ You’re here early this morning, Felix.” He glances up from his task of planting vegetables to look up at the head of the village: Erza.
“Isabelle woke me up and demanded I let her play outside.” Felix shakes his head.
“And you couldn’t tell her no?” Erza looks at him in amusement as she chuckles.
“She is very stubborn.”
“Well she is her father’s daughter, after all.” Felix bristles at her words for a moment, trying not to look affected by her words. It has been eight years since he ran away with Isabelle. He shouldn’t get so worked up this easily.
“Am I really that stubborn to you?”
“Oh like you wouldn’t believe.”
“Father!” Felix turns around to find Isabelle running up to him looking as though she would burst into tears.
“What happened?” Felix asks as he bends to the ground to be at her height.
“He took my toy sword…” Isabelle sniffles and points over to where a group of children are playing, “said girls can’t hold swords.”
Felix is about to stand before Erza places a hand on his shoulder and nods before walking off towards the young boy, swinging around the wooden toy sword that Felix had bought Isabelle.
He is about to speak to her, tell her that the boy was wrong, but stops. Out of the corner of his eye, he sees a group of knights crossing by the village and he freezes. He stands, looking over at the road in mild horror.
They’ve been found.
“Father, is something wrong?” Isabelle asks from his side. Felix squeezes her hand protectively before looking at her. Her gold eyes peer at him in concern and fear; she looks on the verge of tears even more, wondering what’s bothering him. She must be able to feel his hand shaking.
Felix glances back at the knights who have stopped their movement before speaking to Isabelle, “Listen to me very closely. I want you to go in and grab the bag that is underneath your bed.”
“The blue one?”
“Yes. Don’t take anything out of it but you can add some of your favorite things.”
Felix sees Isabelle glance past his shoulder before looking back at him, “Are we in trouble?”
“It’s nothing I can’t handle. I’ll be in there in a moment. Now go.” Isabelle looks like she is about to retort but when Felix hears footsteps behind him, she yelps before turning on her feet and running to their house.
“Why are you here?” Felix sighs as he stands back up and turns around, glaring at the man in front of him, “Sylvain.”
“You kidnapped Dimitri’s daughter and you’re asking me that?” Sylvain laughs but the bitter tone behind it is clear, “Come on now, Felix. What the hell are you doing?”
“You didn’t answer my question.”
“I suggest you answer mine first. You don’t get the right to speak.”
“Of all things. To... No matter what happened between you and Dimitri, you didn’t have to do this, Felix.”
“It has been eight years, Sylvain. I’m not thinking about the past. What’s done is done.”
Sylvain sighs and in that moment, Felix can really see his age and the stress that must have worn him down.
“Why didn’t you let me help you before you did all of this?” Sylvain says quietly, looking at Felix with pleading and tired eyes, “Eight years. That’s how long I’ve been looking for you. That Dimitri has been looking for you.”
“Should I feel bad or something? My eight years have been fine without either of you.” Felix states. It’s not entirely true. Felix knew from the moment he killed those knights that he would have to suffer for the sin he committed. He took a child from its mother and father. He knows he can never truly atone for that act, but the best he can do is raise Isabelle the best way he can. He has to. Isabelle is-
“Fine eight years raising someone else’s child?”
Felix swallows the lump in his throat but doesn’t respond.
“That girl I saw you speaking to. Is that Dimitri’s?”
“I don’t know who you’re referring to.” Felix growls. His sword is in his home while Sylvain stands with his lance of ruin ready for attack. He couldn’t use his magic standing in the middle of a village with civilians around either. There would be no getting out of this easily.
“Did you know that the Queen died not long after you took her daughter?” Sylvain suddenly states.
“She went into a depression and fell ill not too long later. We could have saved her but she did not want to continue living knowing her daughter was potentially dead. Dimitri had to make the decision to let her die.”
Felix shakes his head as another wave of gut blowing guilt comes over him. He takes a silent deep breath as he stands his ground. “You mean that he killed her.”
“What, no—That’s not what I said.”
“You don’t even know the full story. Whatever. It is unfortunate for the Queen that she passed. I send my sincere condolences.” Felix says slowly as he glares back at Sylvain, “But I refuse to go back to that boar and act as a replacement for his wife and I refuse to give up that child.”
“Felix, you’re saying things that could dig you in an even deeper hole.” Sylvain says just as carefully. Felix can see Sylvain’s hand twitch around his lance, “Come back to Fhirdiad and turn yourself in. Just say you… got mad and took Amber Egitte Blaiddyd without meaning harm. Dimitri is king, so you know he won’t punish you horribly.”
“Going back within his reach would be worse than the sin I’ve committed!” Felix snaps loudly. He takes a deep breath, remembering where he is as more of the villagers stop to glance their way. “I’m not going back.”
“Yes you are.”
“What’s going on here?” Felix turns to see Erza moving to stand next to Felix, her arms crossed with a glare at Sylvain.
“Apologies miss,” Sylvain eyes briefly leave Felix’s so that he can bow, “I am here on request of the King. This man here is someone we have been trying to track down for years, so—”
“So you storm into my village wreaking havoc and scaring my civilians?” Erza interrupts.
“I don’t mean to scare anyone and I am immensely sorry if I have. However I need this man and the child he is with to come back with me.”
Erza’s hands shoots out to Felix’s arm for a moment before she directly places herself between the two of them, “On what grounds do you have to take a person and their child out from my village? Do the King and Queen think they can just handle people like dolls?”
Yes, Felix wants to answer but stays silent.
“I’ll go back with him.” The statement surprised both Erza and Sylvain. Felix crosses his arms as he glances towards Erza. She peers back at him with confusion before it registers and she quickly fixes her expression with a nod,
“Are you positive?”
“Then you know you cannot leave the village until we have discussed your removal.” Erza states, glaring at Sylvain again, “Let me speak to him as he gathers his things.”
Sylvain looks like he wants to argue but holds back, settling with a nod as he takes a few steps back. Erza turns to walk away but Felix doesn’t move for a moment, instead speaking loud and clear,
“Her name is Isabelle Celia Fraldarius, if you must know the child’s name.” Sylvain just scoffs in shock at him as Felix turns away walks to his home. On his way there, he can feel Sylvain’s stare burning into his back.
As he enters, he can see Erza moving around quickly, “Erza—”
“While you were talking, I placed a basket of food, water, and some of your clothing in a bag and prepared it along with your horse in the back. I also made sure your swords were packed on top for easy reach.”
Felix stares at her with slightly wide eyes, unsure of what exactly she’s doing. Is she really going help him escape?
“You… This could incriminate you.”
“I know.” Erza looks at him in both disapproval and sympathy, “When you first came here with Isabelle, I knew when I laid eyes on that child that it was His Majesty’s.”
“If you knew, why did you let us stay here?”
“Because as you held Isabelle and took care of her, I knew she was in good hands. I didn’t feel like you would cause her any harm. You may be rough in personality but the love and care you’ve raised Isabelle with shines through intensely. From the moment Isabelle began taking her first steps, she became the life of our village. I couldn’t bring myself to separate her from you.”
“Even though I took a child from their biological parents?”
“Felix, did I ever tell you that I was a mage for the empire back when the war was going on?”
“I don’t think so, but what does that have to do with anything?”
“I know that there is more to this story than just the duke of Fodlan kidnapping the crowned Princess. As a mage for the Empire, I saw various horrors bought upon people with the use of magic. We were close to the Agarthans after all. Those Agarthans… they even created fake humans to pose for them and do their dirty work.” Erza scoffed in disgust. Felix though could slowly feel the blood drain from his system.
“Isabelle is yours, Felix. That I know clear as day.”
“Am I? The queen who died… the remaining Agarthans that are alive created her. When the queen was introduced, seeing her face, I could just tell.”
“Stop saying things that could get you killed.” Felix tries to stop her. He knows the truth. He knows it all. But he doesn’t need it repeated to him.
“Why? Should the world not know the truth? Should you keep feeling guilty for something that likely hurt you rather than her? That the Agarthans planned to use your blood and the King’s to incite a coup and overthrow the Kingdom just like they planned with Edelgard von Hresvelg. Placing another innocent girl’s life in danger for their fulfillment. You’re in denial because of what—”
“I kidnapped Isabelle. That is the story.”
“No… You took your child and ran away out of fear for your life and Isabelle’s and dare I say it, the King’s life too. If you keep lying to yourself, you are going to drive yourself mad. Now leave. There is a village north from here that both Almyran and Duscurian families escape to. When you get there, call for the head of the village and mention my name. She will let you live there for the time being.”
Felix watches as Erza grabs what Felix can tell is a sword wrapped in cobalt blue leather. She pushes it into his hands, “In the meantime take this with you. For Isabelle. In the coming years, she may need it. The Agarthans will not let go of Isabelle that easily.”
Felix opens and closes his mouth, not sure what else there is to say. Soon a pair of feet come running across the room, “Father!”
“Go now, Felix. I will hold the knights off briefly.”
“Thank you.” Felix states before picking Isabelle up. Before he can move, Erza stops him again with her words,
“That ‘guilt’ that you are feeling isn’t true guilt. That is anger and sadness. The only guilt you feel is leaving your King behind and letting him down. Remember that.”
A knock at the door takes him out of his trance as he gives another nod to Erza and turns to leave out of the back door, holding Isabelle tightly. When he gets them both situated safely, he takes off on the path right in front of the knights, who don’t notice him and are watching Sylvain speaking to Erza.
“Father, will we ever see Erza again?”
Felix looks down at Isabelle as she peers up at him with familiar gold eyes. Her hair is poking out messily from her hood and by instinct, he brushes her blonde hair back and pulls the hood further over her head.
“I think we will. I owe her quite a lot it would seem.”
“Where are we going?”
“A safe place…” Felix trails off before a thought comes to mind, “Isabelle, how do you feel about learning to fight with a real sword.”
Isabelle jumps up in excitement and Felix shoots out a hand to keep her stable as she looks at him in complete fascination.
She truly does remind him of himself sometimes.
“I want to fight just like you, father!”
“Right. Well, you still have a lot to learn.”
“So this is the village…” Dimitri sighs as he looks around. In such a small village, Felix and his daughter had been leaving here right under their nose. With as many knights that walked through here, the fact Felix remained unnoticed was incredible.
“Your majesty, the village head requests to speak with you.”
“Requests? How does she know I am here already?” Dimitri blinks at his knight in surprise. That is until a flash of red crosses his eyes and turns to look at what must the Erza that Sylvain had mentioned:
“She was crazy intimidating, Dimitri. She looks like walking fire. Everything about her even fits her name: Erza. I’m almost positive she’s fought in a war.”
Well, for once Sylvain wasn’t wrong about a woman.
“Nothing gets by me and my village,” Erza smirks at before bowing deeply in respect, “I take it I am to be arrested? Before you do, I implore you hear my case first.”
“I… won’t be arresting you,” Dimitri had considered it. She essentially aided in holding his child and allowed Felix to escape. Helped him even. But he knows he can’t draw Felix back if he takes Erza away. It would just make Felix keep running. “However, I do wish to speak privately with you. At the place Felix stayed.”
“Of course, your Majesty.”
Dimitri had gotten to the village a mere four days after Sylvain’s return. He would have expected most of Felix’s things to be gone, but it looked plenty lived in. As Dimitri looks around, he can tell his daughter made herself plenty at home too. Dimitri almost felt bad to be essentially pushing them from here, but Felix did run off with her. Dimitri wasn’t going to stop looking for them, so Felix was going to have to either run all of his life or face Dimitri.
“Chamomile?” Erza places a cup of tea down on the table.
“I appreciate the tea, thank you.” Dimitri clear his throat as lifts the cup to his lips.
“That’s Isabelle’s favorite tea.” Dimitri coughs after this, but Erza seems to willingly ignore him as she continues, “She also like Almyran pine needle too but I think she only does because her father drinks it so much.”
“Is… Isabelle your child?” Dimitri asks but he knows the answer already.
“Such a crazy question. Me ever having kids?” Erza laughs loudly, “That’s a good one. But… No. Isabelle Celia Fraldarius is Felix’s daughter. Though I suppose she feels like a step-daughter to me. I watched her grow up. Saw her first steps, the first time she said ‘father’, oh and the first time she activated one of her crests and broke the leg of a chair. Gosh, Felix was such a worry bug that day. Afraid she had hurt herself with the chair but the funny girl was just laughing her heart out. Isabelle is truly a brave little thing with a big heart.”
Dimitri wasn’t sure what all he was feeling. He just felt his body tense and he had to put down his tea before he broke the cup from holding it.
He speaks slowly and calmly with a dark glare. Normally this intimidates people but Erza just looks at him impassively as she sips more of her own tea.
“You realize you were homing a man who kidnapped my child, right? Then you willingly set up an escape for him.”
“Oh quit the shit, will you?” Erza suddenly states with a cold look in her eyes as she slams the cup down, “That girl is as much Felix’s as she is yours and you know it. You both keep being in denial of what that woman has done.”
“I would like to press again that I am the one in a position of power. It would be in your best interest if you watch the way you speak to me.”
“So you don’t deny that the little girl is Felix’s?”
“I am not here to play frivolous games.”
“And I don’t run a village full of families trying to stay alive for fun either, Your Majesty. Isabelle loves her father and yet you refuse to give him even that despite everything else that horrid woman took from him.”
“Tell me, Your Majesty.” Erza stands and begins busying her hands with tidying the couch she was on, “Why did it take you so long to find them? During the war, you hid away for five years where no one could find you and then you reclaimed a nation in a single year. Yet you couldn’t find the Duke and your daughter living in a village out in the open? If Felix were Edelgard… would you have been successful?”
“How dare you…” He growls.
“You could call your men to arrest me now. Better yet, you could do that all on your own but you aren’t because you know I am telling the truth.”
“How do you know of my time in the war? Who are you?”
Erza smirks before picking up their tea from the table, “I am the reason you could find out the truth. The reason you could get rid of your fake queen and keep those two alive. If not for them leaving the palace eight years ago, Felix and Isabelle would have been dead and used by that vile woman.”
“The night before Felix left, I was given a report that someone had met the guard under the pretenses of being my uncle, Rufus. However… he has long been dead since the war.”
“You’re an Agarthan, aren’t you?”
“I am the child of one. And the child of three parents. Like Isabelle.”
Eight Years Later -
“Bella you have to come with us!”
“You’re the only way we can get into the festival! Please…”
“Hmph. If you want to go to Fhirdiad and cause trouble at the King’s festival, please do it yourselves.” Isabelle sighs as she practices her swings in the air.
“There will be a sword tournament. I hear the winner gets awarded a sword by Zoltan from the King himself!”
Yeah, like her father would allow her to do that of all things. The idea of winning against the Kingdom’s own knights sounds fascinating though.
“No. Go ask someone else. I’m trying to train…” Isabelle stops to put her hair up in a ponytail, frowning at her pouting friends.
She ignores them for a while longer until her strikes quickly become distracted and she makes her way home, ‘’I’ll think about it only if you two stop pestering me.”
“But you have to actually think about it, Bella!”
Isabelle watches as her friends take off to their own homes as she steps inside. She places her wooden sword near the door before making her way to the kitchen, stopping when she notices her father there already preparing food.
“I could starve you.” Felix jokes back. If anyone else who didn’t know him heard Felix’s jokes, they’d think he was dead serious.
“You love me too much to do that.”
“Unfortunately.” He smiles at her as Isabelle grins from the cup of water she’s made herself. She watches him silently for a moment, taking note of how pale he looks.
“Father, have you been taking the medicine the healer gave you?”
“You’re a really horrible liar, you know that?”
“I am fine, Isabelle.” Felix frowns at her as he sits a bowl on the table, essentially making the conversation mute, “Eat your food.”
Deciding not to upset him, she sits down and begins eating her food as her father makes his own bowl and sits down across from her. She watches closely as he takes small bites, not looking necessarily happy with the meal he cooked. He looks like he hates his food.
She glances over towards the trash bin where she can see a white towel with the obvious signs of blood being spit into it.
Felix was sick again. And it was likely because he stopped taking his medicine daily like he’s supposed to. If only he’d just go to the market near Fhirdiad where he could get adequate help but no. Felix made it very clear to her that he isn’t going near there. He never said it explicitly, but Isabelle knows that’s a rule for her too, if not evident by her next attempt.
“My seventeenth birthday is coming up and I want to do something different.” She states. Felix acknowledges her words with a hum but continues eating.
“Me, Eva, and Victor were thinking of attending a festival. They are having a sword competition there as well.”
Her father’s glare is intense when looks up at her. Without even saying it, that is a clear no.
“I’ll be with friends, father! I won’t even be noticed!”
“You’re going to take part in a competition and think you won’t get noticed? In Fhirdiad of all places. I know exactly what festival you’re talking about and it’s a no, Isabelle.”
“Oh come on. The king won’t even be there… well, okay he will.” That earns a small growl, “but like… I’ll lose on purpose just to not meet him.”
“That doesn’t even make sense.”
“Father why are you so adamant on us not going to Fhirdiad?! Hasn’t it been sixteen years? No one is looking for us anymore. We aren’t being chased anymore.”
“If it were Enbarr, I would permit you to leave there. But any place in the Kingdom’s old territory is off limits.”
“Aren’t you tired of this, Father? You told me before that Faerghus was our home. When will we stop running and reclaim what is ours? Reclaim Fraldarius? You’re already suffering because the medicine you have, when you actually take it, hardly does anything but stop you from puking blood every hour. This is stupid, hiding away—” Isabelle stops herself. She knows she’s said too much but it was bound to leave her lips anyway.
“I’ve made myself clear.” Felix coldly replies as he stands, leaving his bowl of food sitting on the table. She watches him walk off before reaching over to look at his bowl. He hardly made a dent in it.
“I’m not going to let you kill yourself, Father.” She whispers, glaring back where she last saw Felix with determination in her eyes.
“Bella?” Eva says her name very carefully, as if worried of startling someone.
“Hm?” Isabelle looks innocently at her friend, braiding her hair before twisting it into a bun.
“Does… Does Felix know you’re here with us?”
“Your father is going to kill all three of us when we return, isn’t he?” Victor groans.
“Probably. You’ll be the first if anything happens to us. You’re the man here.” Isabelle grins at him as he balks at her.
“Hold on, you’re stronger than me! You’d be doing the protecting if anything—You know what? Let’s go back. I don’t want to die. My gravestone will be hidden away in the dark somewhere. I have too much life left—”
“Oh quit being a drama queen, Victor.” Isabelle laughs.
“We are almost to Fhirdiad anyway, We may as well get this over with,” Eva states with a nervous smile, “Though I am scared of what your father will do to us when we return.”
“You better win this tournament. Make it worth our death.”
“Did you two forget that you both asked me to come here first?” Isabelle shakes her head in disbelief as she runs a hand through the mane of her horse. Well… Felix’s horse to be exact.
“Besides… I am winning this tournament. That sword will be mine.” And the King will see me.
Isabelle wins the tournament.
It comes as no surprise to her. The tournament attendees were very little challenge as well though it was funny that some of them were selected to eventually serve the King’s army.
It was kind of pathetic.
She just wants to get to the king. She expected to win and the king would instantly come out to give the award. Not for her to spend so much time get congratulated by nosy strangers inquiring who she was and where she came from.
“Oh, the King is there.” Isabelle turns towards the voice to see a young man point upward. Following their pointing, Isabelle looks up from where she stands to peer at the unmistakable presence of the King. His eyes seem to cut across the crowd, as if looking for someone specifically.
“Did you know… The Princess of Fodlan was kidnapped by the Duke of Fodlan from that very spot. They even engraved it into the ground where the duke and his king last eyed one another.” She hears more whispers. Isabelle takes a moment to look at the ground. Right beneath her feet she notices the pavement where she stands is painted much darker than the ground around her.
“I heard the king ordered that part of the ground be painted onto. Some say he comes out to look at that very spot every night.”
“Why don’t people mind their business instead of trying to discuss other’s?” Isabelle mutters to herself before suddenly she feels a shiver run own her spine and eyes on her. Instantly she looks in the direction her instinct tells her to, right back to the balcony, and finds piecing blue eyes staring straight at her.
“Hey, Isabelle! I think we should head back. I know you wanted to see the king but if he takes too long…” Eva comes to her side, Victor right behind her.
“She’s right. Your father will be angry.”
Isabelle removes her eyes from the King’s as she shakes herself from a trance, looking into the eyes of her concerned friends.
“Just a while longer.”
“Bella we have to—”
“Excuse me.” The three of them turn around as guard bows slightly, “The King has requested the presence of the competition winner.”
“Has he now?” Isabelle smiles brightly, glancing at her friends, “Will they be allowed to come in with me? They are my ride home and we like to stick together.”
“They may stay in the waiting hall but they cannot enter the King’s office.”
“That’s fine.” Isabella states before walking in the direction of the entrance to the palace, her friends and the guard quickly following along.
Dimitri had no interest in the festival. It was something that happened every four years and never ceased to tire him out though he felt bad for admitting that.
The only time he participated was during the sword competition. He figures that if Felix were ever to come back or try to get into the palace, surely the festival would have been that opportunity.
But after he waited for that moment every four years for the last sixteen years, he’d given up on trying to seek out Felix this way.
He almost wanted to call off his appearance this time until he heard his guards speaking. They were watching the competition while they guarded the balcony, not knowing their King was listening.
“Did she just use a crest?!”
“But that one was different from the last time she activated it. Am I crazy?”
“Yeah, that time was definitely different. Is it even possible for a person to have more than one crest?”
“I have heard of it occurring in an experiment but the only two pieces of proof we have are… dead.”
“Huh. Well, I wish we could see the shape of the crest from here. Maybe that would give us our answer.”
Dimitri could have ignored that if it weren’t for the one blaring statement he recalls Erza telling him.
“I watched her grow up. Saw her first steps, the first time she said ‘father’, oh and the first time she activated one of her crests and broke the leg of a chair”.
Instantly, Dimitri shoots up from his seat to open the door to the balcony, startling the two guards into bowing. Dimitri moves look over the balcony as he peers down at the people. The tournament had just ended and he could see the host holding up the arm of a young woman with blond hair.
Could that actually be…?
“That winner of the tournament.” He turns towards his guards, “I would like to speak with her in my office.”
“Do you not wish to go down there as planned?”
“No. I will be need to speak with the winner privately. Be sure she comes at all cost. Do whatever she requests so long as it isn’t too out of line.”
“Yes, Your Majesty!”
Dimitri looks back over the crowd as he tries to look for any signs of Felix being there. He couldn’t have possibly allowed Isabelle to be in Fhirdiad alone, could he?
Or what if she isn’t Isabelle? He only saw that her hair was blonde and that wasn’t proof enough. There were plenty of people with blonde hair.
The young woman is moving around, obviously trying to avoid conversation, but with so many people it’s inevitable. Soon enough she stops right on top of the darkened tile of ground. The tile he specifically ordered be painted over.
Suddenly, the young women looks up and in that moment he sees Felix’s eyes staring back at him.
“I finally found you.” He whispers. There was no doubting who those eyes belonged to.
When he sees that one of his guards finally makes it to her, he turns away and enters his office, closing the balcony door as he wills himself to calm down. He can feel anger and happiness all in one. Anger that it had to take this long but happiness that at least he found her. He was a bit concerned that Felix didn’t seem to be around. He highly doubts Felix would have risked her coming here if he spent sixteen years trying to flee from Fhirdiad in the first place.
“Your Majesty, we have bought the winner. Two friends of her are in the waiting hall.” A guard states.
Dimitri fights to stay seated as the young woman walks in, carrying all of the confidence of the world. She looks exactly as Felix does after every competition when he wins.
“Thank you for bringing her here. You may leave.” Dimitri dismisses the guards. Isabelle takes to seating herself at the at the small table at the middle of his office. She folds one leg over the other as she crosses her arms at her chest.
Those were definitely Felix’s mannerisms.
“Have… your parents ever taught you how to sit in the presence of authority?” He finds himself asking, careful not to allude to too much at one time.
“Am I too un-lady like for you?” She quips with a mischievous smirk, “My father raised me very well, thank you.”
“Your father? I take it he is the one who taught you how to carry a sword. You really managed to take out all of my knights in-training.”
Isabelle smiles widely at him before standing and walking right up to his desk,
“I am not one for patience so I will cut to the chase, Your Majesty. The name is Isabelle Celia Fraldarius, daughter of Duke Felix Hugo Fraldarius,” She covers her mouth in a fake yawn to smile behind her hand, “But I suppose you would know all about that. Am I right… father?”
Chapter 2: Deception
Chapter 2 – Deception
[Sixteen Years Ago – Fhirdiad Palace]
What had Felix been thinking? What could have possibly happened to make him run away with a newborn child?
Then to kill dispatched knights and stage a death in order to throw Dimitri off. To leave nothing but a show of blood behind.
Dimitri snaps his head up at the sharp whisper of his name. He looks at Sylvain before eyeing the rest of the nobles in front of him, all eyes on him in confusion.
Sylvain, who is sitting in Felix’s designated place, stands up to address the table, “Our talk today was great however we must cut things short.” Sylvain looks at Dimitri to dismiss them completely.
“Right. We will continue these discussions in time.”
With the room clear, Sylvain pulls his seat over closer to Dimitri, “What’s gotten you in your head today? If it’s about finding Felix and your daughter, Ingrid has been keeping tabs on every report. You know she’d tell you right away if they found them.”
“Sylvain, can I ask you something?”
“Prior to the day Felix left, had he been acting strange to you?”
Sylvain frowns for a moment, considering the question, “I don’t think so. The days leading up to the kidnapping, he seemed fine. Though there is that one time the month before. He was standing at Rodrigue’s grave. It’s not completely odd to find him there so I brushed it off at the time but… now that I think about it, his words were strange.”
“He said, ‘It won’t end with me. She will make you prouder than I ever did.’”
“She will make you prouder?” Dimitri repeats as he furrows his brows. Who could Felix have been referring to when speaking at his father’s grave?
“I figured he was talking about bringing home a woman. That he found someone to marry.”
Dimitri shakes his head immediately and speaks before considering the implications, “Felix wasn’t seeing anyone nor was he available to.”
Sylvain laughs at this, “Come on your majesty. I know Felix had his mind in a lot of places, but it would not be impossible for him to date and eventually want to marry. Besides how would you know…” Sylvain trails off as he stares Dimitri down with wide eyes. “No way.”
“Sylvain—” Dimitri puts up a hand but Sylvain is already standing, running hands through his hair with a shocked expression,
“That can’t be. Dimitri, you have a queen. You and Felix could not have possibly been sleeping together. There’s no way…”
“It was an agreement between us and the Queen. There was no cheating, Sylvain.”
Lilah was her name. They had met when a noble brought his daughter with him. Since her noble bloodline was going to die out with her and with Dimitri’s obligation to carry on the Blaiddyd line, he saw no reason not to marry her. Lilah and Dimitri had both agreed they could have their separate relationships so long as it was kept secret.
“The circumstances of our marriage is not something we want to reach in the public eye. Not even Dedue knows about it.”
“This opens up an entirely different set of issues. You and Queen Lilah were both sleeping with different partners and now suddenly a child between you two is missing. You do know how this will sound if people were to find out, right? They would assume Felix got jealous or something.”
“I know, Sylvain. There is a reason me and Lilah decided not to speak of it. It is personal therefore didn’t need to be shared.”
“You and Felix didn’t fight or anything, did you? You don’t think he did this out of spite?”
Dimitri frowns, “You know he wouldn’t do that.”
“You asked me if he was acting strange. Did you notice something different about him?”
“He was not coming around as often and would stay in Fraldarius as much as he could. Lilah had become a point of contact between us. Even when I did go to Fraldarius to see him, he would not meet with me.”
“Lilah, huh? You don’t think an argument took place between them, do you? Whatever caused Felix to make that decision… Something had to have happened. I just wish he had talked to me before running off.”
“Your Majesty.” The two turn their heads towards the door where a guard was standing. “Queen Lilah told me to seek you out when your meeting was finished. She is requesting your presence.”
“Of course,” Dimitri stands and turns to Sylvain, “We’ll talk again soon.”
When Dimitri finally approached the room, he was caught off guard by Lilah speaking with someone outside of their quarters. It did not seem like they were expecting anyone else to be around. Instead of interrupting, Dimitri follows his inclination to hide and listen.
“Please give me more time. I promise I will get that girl to you.” He hears Lilah speak.
“We keep giving you chances. Do your job diligently or just crawl up and die. You have delayed us enough. We need that child.”
“The king has sent out various men to track them down. It may take time—”
“We don’t have time. If you cannot get that child, then find a way to get a child with a crest. Emilia Molinaro is your next shot. We won’t keep waiting.”
Then silence. Never one to be patient, Dimitri turns the corner with a glare as Lilah jolts at his sudden presence. He sees the exact moment a fake smile slips on her face.
“Darling, did you just come back?”
“What was that I heard just now?”
“I am sure you heard what I said.”
Lilah’s smile finally leaves her face only to be replaced by a sneer. She looks him up and down, eerily similar to Cornelia.
“I highly suggest you pretend to know nothing, my darling. It’s dangerous to inquire about things that are none of your concern.”
“Pretend to know nothing.” Dimitri gloomily repeats, “You should be aware by now, I am not one for jokes.”
Lilah glares at him as she raises her hand to cast a spell. Dimitri growls as he grabs that hand and pushes her against the nearby wall, his other hand at her neck but not putting any pressure.
“What did you do?”
“You ask that now. Kind of late, your majesty.” Lilah smirks, eyes wide and crazed.
“Tell me everything and I will not kill you. Not right away.”
“Kill me and you’ll never reach your dear Felix or the little girl.”
Dimitri presses her throat just long enough that he can make her pass out. Watching her fall to the ground, Dimitri takes a few steps back and has to grab his head as a migraine appears. He tries to take a few deep breaths.
“I don’t want you going down that path again, Dimitri. Promise me.” Felix’s voice fills his mind.
Choosing not to indulge in the bloodied thoughts forming in his mind, Dimitri focuses instead of what his next course of actions should be. First, he moves Lilah’s body into the room. He can lock her in at least until he decides what to do with her.
Suddenly then, Dimitri remembers a conversation he had with an old acquaintance. One about Cornelia and some of the ways that she had been involved with some unknown forces. The two of them had not been able to speak much about it as Dimitri had only a few seconds to spare in his time.
He needed to visit the Abyss immediately.
“Oh, Didi! What are you doing in this place?”
“Hapi, I need your help.”
“Something must be up if you traveled from Fhirdiad just to see me. What is it?”
“I… This may take a while.” Dimitri replies. Hapi shrugs, gesturing to the seat in front of her,
“I have time. Let me get you something to drink. Chamomile tea am I right?”
“Yes, that would be nice.”
“Coming right up!”
Hapi returns moments later with a hot kettle of tea for the two of them, closing the door for privacy before sitting down and preparing their tea. When she finally motions for him to begin, he starts from the beginning. He tells her about his marriage, Felix’s disappearance, and the conversation he overheard from Lilah.
“Do you not realize it yet? History is repeating itself. I have never met King Lambert but… you two sure seem to miss things that should be obvious. Well, I guess if you are always kept busy managing a country, you would forget to manage your personal life too.”
Hapi eyes him for a moment before sitting her cup of tea down, “You mentioned that Lilah started to become the point of contact between you and Felix. You even mentioned Felix seemed paler each time you did manage to see him. How often did Lilah go to Fraldarius?”
“Not often at all. She has only been there twice, and that was with me. However… She does travel places on her own. As for correspondence between me and Felix, Any news she brings me from Felix is from a Fraldarius knight to her. I tried on multiple occasions to see Felix myself but he would never answer me.”
Hapi looks lost for a moment, “I don’t think I’ll ever understand you nobles and sending other people to spread correspondence. Anyways. Me personally? I think something was happening to Felix when he was in Fraldarius. Something that might have kept him… locked away in a sense. Going by everything you have told me… Yep. Someone is trying to recreate history.” Hapi makes an expression between worry and anger as she speaks,
“Lies have been fed to him more than likely and it’s making him stay away from you. Just like Anselma made the decision to kill Lambert in order to see her daughter. It seems Felix has done the same but this time… he did it to protect you rather than hurt you.”
When Dimitri doesn’t say anything else to that, Hapi stretches her arms outward, a symbol of a sigh, before grabbing the kettle and pouring more tea into Dimitri’s cup,
“Didi. I think it’s about time you really learned about those who slither in the dark. The people Cornelia worked with and… the ones responsible for the Tragedy of Duscur. We’ll be here a while.”
[One Week Later]
“I am sorry for your loss, Dimitri. She was such a kind woman.” Sylvain says as they stand in front of the queen’s grave. Dimitri only hums in response. Sylvain continues,
“For the queen to have made such a decision to lose her life because of the unknown of where her child is. I… What on earth was Felix thinking?”
Dimitri remains silent. He glares at the headstone, there to cover an empty grave.
He cannot speak of the truth. Not until he can find out more about the Agarthans and until he can find Felix.
He tries to swallow down the anger as he recalls seeing that monster, the one who had killed his real wife and replaced her body. The way she felt no remorse about doing so. The way she spoke of Felix.
“It was great posing as the queen. Lilah was such a sweet woman too. I made the right decision in killing her and taking her body as my own. Oh but poor Felix… He tried to hold on for your sake. It’s too bad. I relish in breaking men like him. Oh the look on his face every time I made him call out for you. It almost made me want to cry. Hah, I don’t think I’ve enjoyed torturing a man as much as I have him.”
Hapi had been the one to pull him away after he saw red and ended the monster’s life right then. Hapi was the one to stop him from reverting back into starting a blood-path. She readily cleaned up the mess while he looked at what was left of the monster, wondering just how he could bring her back to life only just to kill her again.
“Calm yourself, Dimitri. Do it for Felix.” Hapi had said when trying to keep him in the present, “Do it for your daughter.”
If he couldn’t find Felix and the child to be sure they are alive… Dimitri was not sure if he could hold off the part of him screaming for blood.
“I refuse to believe it. That she did those things right under my nose. That I didn’t see Felix was being tortured or that I didn’t save him.” He growled.
“I know you don’t want to believe it but if you deny what she did, you are denying your daughter’s ties to Felix. Felix is the one who has to bear the pain for the rest of his life. Your daughter is the direct result of his torture. He was the experiment and the baby was the final conclusion. You have to realize that.”
“Thank you for your support Sylvain,” Dimitri says slowly with as much a smile he can muster, “I think I need to rest for a moment.”
“Take your time. I know this must hurt you.”
Hurt is nowhere near close to describing how he feels for that thing.
*[Sixteen Years Later – Present]
“I am not one for patience so I will cut to the chase, Your Majesty. The name is Isabelle Celia Fraldarius, daughter of Duke Felix Hugo Fraldarius,” She covers her mouth in a fake yawn to smile behind her hand, “But I suppose you would know all about that. Am I right… father?”
“Father?” Dimitri manages to speak, having been completely thrown off guard by that statement. Isabelle frowns at him for a moment as she pulls her hand back to cross her arms.
“You spent sixteen years trying to track me and father down, but now you act shocked that I call you father?”
“It’s just that I did not expect you to be aware of…”
“Father may do questionable things and he can be a pain to read, but he isn’t a bad person as you know. You thought he wouldn’t tell me who I am and whose blood I carry?”
“Father needs you. He won’t say that, but I know he does.” Isabelle changes the subject. Dimitri pauses again unsure of where she was taking this. There are so many things to be said. So many things Dimitri wanted to say to her but it is obvious she wasn’t going to let him speak until she got her piece through.
“Is Felix not here with you? You did not really come here alone, did you?”
“I came with two friends of mine. However, father does not know that I am here. He’d be livid if he knew.”
“I am sure he would be.”
“I normally do not go against his word. I trust that what he does is to protect me but it’s time he’s protected for a change.”
Dimitri tenses, “Protected from what?”
“I... cannot tell you right now. But I would like for you to come with me to get father and have him treated by your healers.”
A sense of dread drops at his gut. Did the Agarthans already reach Felix?
“Is he injured?”
“Will you come to his side?”
Felix would probably rather die than to see Dimitri’s face again, that he knows. Isabelle seems to sense his dilemma and speaks again.
“Something bad is coming, I feel it. I don’t know why. Maybe because of the blood that runs through my veins from that woman. I am not sure but… I need to protect my father from the forces trying to take us away.”
Dimitri sighs as he leans forward on his desk, looking at his relic hanging on the wall and then back to Isabelle’s pleading eyes. Those eyes stemming from the man he could never truly hate and could never forget.
“You and father have to stop living in denial. Just admit that woman took advantage of father and took his blood in order to create me. To create a monster with the blood of Fraldarius and Blaiddyd, all in the aims to take down what you spent your life building.”
Suddenly he recalls Edelgard. Everything she went through to make a world she thought was right all the while having to be under the influence of those Agarthans. Having to appease them as she tried to go forth with her own goals. So much so she even turned herself into that hegemon husk form.
“You are not a monster nor will you become one. Felix and I would ensure that does not ever happen.”
Isabelle frowns at him, dropping her arms at her side, “You and father denying all of this? Denying me and how I was created? It sure makes me feel like one. I know I am not normal. All I need is for you and father to stop pretending and working so hard to make me… make our situation normal.”
“You spent sixteen years never getting even a grasp of us. Are you really going to let this opportunity slip from your fingers?” When the expression of hesitation crosses his face, Isabelle adds with a sigh, “If I walk out of that door without you, know that I will not come back. You won’t get this chance again. Especially once father finds out I was here.”
Dimitri stands up slowly, looking down at his desk silently for a near minute before standing straight, looking at Isabelle fully, “Take me to Felix.”
“That’s what I’m talking about.” Isabelle smiles, though Dimitri can still see the sadness and fear lingering in her eyes, “Let’s get going. Father is going to kill me the longer I’m away.”
“But first, I want the sword I won.”
As soon as Isabelle leaves the room, Dimitri follows behind her. Two young teens immediately jump when they see Isabelle.
“Father, these are my friends Eva and Victor. I’ve known them since I was eight.” Isabelle turns to Dimitri with a grin. Victor and Eva immediately bow their heads when Dimitri looks their way.
“It is nice to meet you, your majesty.” Eva states but Victor immediately stands back up and looks between Isabelle and Dimitri with wide eyes, “Father?!”
“I’ll explain it later.”
Dimitri chuckles before holding out his hand, the two friends nervously taking turns to shake it, “Thank you for being wonderful friends to my daughter.”
After watching Isabelle’s friends get through the initial shock of Isabelle introducing Dimitri, they immediately take off on horse from Fhirdiad for the village. For the duration of the ride, Dimitri watches in amusement as Isabelle tries to convince her friends that they won’t be in trouble much to the dismay of her friends who panic about the ‘wrath of Felix’. It makes him smile that Felix still made impressions even now.
Before they even reach the entrance to the village, he can hear various people shouting for the young teens.
“Oh Isabelle. You’ve done it now. Did your dad really get our entire village looking for us?” Victor whines from next to her.
“Come on, Victor. I’d rather hear a mouthful from our mothers than stand in front of Felix’s sword again. We will see you later if we’re still alive, Isabelle.” Eva laughs as she and Victor say their goodbyes to Isabelle before taking off to their homes.
“Victor! Eva!” Dimitri looks over to a pair of women stomping over to them with glares. In the distance, Dimitri can see a villager stop and stare at them with wide eyes before taking off into a nearby home.
“Sorry for all of the chaos,” Isabelle slows down her horse to ride next to Dimitri, “Father is uh… very overprotective at times.”
“I see nothing wrong with that,” Dimitri smiles as he glances around again, “He isn’t out looking for you?”
“Well, we have been away for nearly two days and I took his horse. He probably tried looking for me but got weak and had to get the villagers to help. Everyone here is aware that dad is the Duke Fraldarius. He almost runs this place just as the village master does.” Isabelle laughs.
Eventually they stop right in front of a house that Dimitri had seen the villager from earlier run into. He is staring at the exterior of the home before a throat clearing draws him from his thoughts to his daughter.
“Uh… Yeah you’ve already made the villagers aware you’re the king. I think they’d be a little less intimidated if you were unmounted. You look like you’re about to bring an army into the village.”
“Right, apologies.” Dimitri moves to get off. As soon he does, the door to the home swings open roughly to reveal Felix’s panicked expression that goes from fear to anger all in one second. He’s so focused on Isabelle, he doesn’t even notice Dimitri near them.
“Isabelle! Where the hell have you been?”
“Cursing? From you, father? That’s surprising.” Isabelle laughs nervously with her hands up.
“Don’t play games with me. Where were you this entire time—” Felix stops as soon as his eyes fly to Dimitri. Immediately, Dimitri sees all of Felix’s guards go up and to that, he feels a horrible heartache.
Felix pulls Isabelle behind him, glaring menacingly at Dimitri, “What are you doing—Did you follow her here?”
“Felix, If I may—”
“Leave right now before I cut you down.” Felix growls, “and don’t think I won’t.”
“Father, calm down!”
Felix rounds on her so fast, Isabelle has to take a few steps back, “What did I tell you? I said that Fhirdiad was off limits.”
“I…” Isabelle glares as she raises her own voice, “You aren’t taking your medicine. I had to do something!”
“That doesn’t matter. You weren’t supposed to go anywhere near Fhirdiad. Of all things you chose to ignore, the one for your safety was it? What if something happened to you on your way there?”
“Safety? What safety were we going to have if I sat here watching you die knowing you can get support? You cannot be serious—” Dimitri and Isabelle notice it at the same time when Felix suddenly stumbles a bit. Dimitri can’t see Felix but he knows something is wrong when Isabelle visibly pales and jumps forward, “Father!”
Dimitri orders the healer he has with him close as Isabelle tries keeping Felix upright. As the healer begins trying to find what wrong, Isabelle turns to Dimitri with a scared expression,
“This is the first time he’s randomly fainted like this. Can we take him back to Fhirdiad? He can’t heal here. I don’t care what he says, I can’t let him get worse.”
“Don’t worry. I won’t let him get any worse.”
Felix is lying in Dimitri’s personal infirmary, Isabelle glued to the chair at his side. Dimitri is frantically looking between them and Hapi as the woman tries to use her own healing skills.
“He will not die. That is for sure.” Hapi says and Dimitri breathes a small sigh of relief.
“However, his condition will do more harm to him if not treated now. Had you two not bought him in, he would have likely fallen into a coma.”
“A coma?” Isabelle looks at Felix’s sleeping face. For a moment, Dimitri sees a younger Felix in Isabelle’s eyes. She looks the same as when Felix had learned about Glenn…
“Didi.” Hapi’s voice brings him back to reality, “He is fine.”
“I… Are you able to find out what his ailment is?”
“Well, it’s definitely a result of the Agarthan’s experiments so it is not a normal sickness. He isn’t spawning wild beasts, so I guess that’s good.” Hapi stands up, stretching her arms over her head, “but he needs to be put on a strict diet. He hasn’t been eating enough, that is if he was eating at all. He also cannot be put under stress. It will only wear him down and tire him even more. Unfortunately, this is all I can do. I healed his lungs, so he should breathe easily now. I will go and call in Mercie. She is much better at this than I am.”
Mercedes was the only other person he eventually made aware of the entire situation. He wanted to be sure she would be ready in case something were to happen and Hapi made it clear she doesn’t want to be relied on since her healing isn’t always dependable.
With Felix and Isabelle here now, he would have to tell the others. Starting with Dedue.
“Thank you Hapi. I really do appreciate the kindness you have given.”
“Oh you don’t need to thank me, Didi.” Hapi smiles at him before giving Isabelle a soft pat on the shoulder, “Your dad will be fine. Don’t worry too much either.”
Isabelle only gives Hapi a small nod in response, never looking away from Felix. When the door shuts after Hapi, Dimitri moves to stand next to her.
“It’s my fault,” Isabelle asks in a low murmur, “His condition suddenly got worse because I made him stressed out. I should have done this differently.”
“Don’t blame yourself. As Hapi said, his condition is the result of the experiments. Nothing is your fault.”
“You say that, and it may be true, but in the end I left him for two days and didn’t tell him where I was. He’s always worked up enough about who is around us, so for me to disappear like that… I was only trying to get him help. What if I had gone back without you? I wouldn’t have known what to do.”
“But you are here now, Isabelle. Don’t worry about things that did not happen.” Dimitri places a comforting hand on her shoulder, “You did the right thing. You wanted him to heal.”
“In all honesty it is also for a reason a bit more selfish than that,” Isabelle glances up at him with a sad smile, “I am tired of hiding and I know he is too, but of course father would never be the one to say that.”
“That… is Felix for you.” Dimitri sighs as he looks over to Felix. His skin doesn’t look as pale as when he first saw him. Dimitri wants to reach out towards him but he holds the urge back. Instead, he turns to Isabelle and says, “I have some things I need to deal with momentarily.”
“You don’t want to wait for him to awaken?”
“I think seeing your face when he first wakes up will be much better. He’ll need to process where he is when he wakes up.”
Isabelle frowns for a moment, considering his words as she glances at Felix. “You’re right.”
“I’ll be back.” Dimitri pats her shoulder again before waking off to the door. Just as he opens it, he hears Isabelle’s voice,
“I have yet to eat.” She states. Dimitri turns to look at her as Isabelle stares at him with a heavy frown. It was much like an expression Felix would wear if he were stuck on what to say, “That is… I would like to have a meal with you. You don’t have to, of course. It’s just… me and father always eat as a family and…” Isabelle trails off, looking away.
“I would love to, Isabelle.” Dimitri smiles, “You also need not be awkward around me. You can ask for anything.”
Isabelle looks back to him in surprise before slipping on a smile, easing the air around them, “Anything? You should be careful. I might want a stack of Zoltan swords.”
“I’d buy double. For you and Felix.”
Isabelle covers her mouth as she laughs, “Well that’s one way to make father listen to you. You’d render him speechless.”
“Then I guess I need to request them now,” Dimitri chuckles as he moves to leave, “I am down the hall. Come get me if something sudden is to happen.”
“Of course, father.”
Waiting to get back to the infirmary ends up feeling like another seventeen years has gone by for Dimitri.
He tries to hurry through the small meetings with nobles, filing and checking papers, handling the issues he has missed and all the new ones coming in. He’s never felt so ready to walk out of his office as much as he wants to right this moment.
So when his last meeting is over, he goes straight back to Felix and Isabelle. Dedue had come by his office earlier, so Mercedes should have already been by the infirmary by now.
“Father!” He suddenly hears Isabelle. He rushes to enter but stops with his hand on the doorknob when he hears Felix’s voice loud and clear,
“Loud. Why are you yelling my name…?” Felix grumbles.
“Sorry, father. You shocked me is all. I thought you were still asleep. Are you in pain?” Isabelle asks, worry apparent in her voice.
“I’m fine. Just… Help me sit up.”
“Right,” Dimitri hears shuffling for a while, Felix directing her where to place the pillow. Not even a moment later, Isabelle’s voice comes back a bit a bit more sternly, “Please stop saying you’re fine. You passed out on me and father out of nowhere! And the nurses have even told me—ah.” There’s the soft sound of a pop.
“Ouch… why’d you flick me in the forehead...” Isabelle huffs out. Dimitri almost laughs as he imagines the pouting glare that’s likely on her face.
“Firstly, lower your tone at me. Secondly, are you actually lecturing me when that should be you? You’re still in trouble for what you pulled, Isabelle.”
“You were being stubborn! What daughter would let her father get worse in his health?” Isabelle tries to reason, “Okay fine, I’m sorry for disobeying you. Just… don’t punish me too roughly later? Last time you had me do work around the village carrying barrels of clothes and pulling up weeds. I’d rather not do that again.”
“According to you, they weren’t even heavy since you have those crests. You just didn’t want to because, as you put it, you don’t like to do work that makes you break a sweat. The excuses you make up hardly make sense when it comes to you.”
“What, I don’t like smelling like sweat. Heavy lifting leads to just that.”
“And practicing with a sword every day does not?”
“You have to pick battles in life sometimes. You’ve told me that.”
“You sound exactly like someone I used to know.” Felix scoffs at her.
“My point still stands.” A chair scrapes across the floor, “I’m getting water. Would you like some too, father?”
As their voices go quiet, Dimitri remains by the door with back pressed against the wall. He cannot help but feel out of place and like he was invading their privacy. To hear Felix speak so casually to Isabelle, it made Dimitri’s chest flutter with happiness and joy.
“Can I be honest with you, father?”
“It was time for us to come back. You and I both know it. This is our home… our real home.”
Felix doesn’t say anything to that. Isabelle continues speaking regardless,
“May I eat dinner with father later?”
“Why are you asking me? That is up to you to decide.”
“Fine. But will you join us?”
“No.” Dimitri can hear the restraint in Felix’s voice and he tries not to feel hurt by his words, “Not right now, Isabelle.”
“I understand.” Isabelle sighs, “I hope you two can face each other soon. That’s all I want as well as you to getting better.”
When their voices fall silent again, Dimitri steps away from the door quietly. He only gets a few steps down the hall when he hears a door. He turns back to see Isabelle walking towards him. She has a smile on her face but even Dimitri can see it’s just her trying to fight off other emotions.
Before they can both speak, Mercedes comes right around the corner, stopping in surprise at the two of them.
“Oh, you guys are here,” Mercedes gives an apologetic smile, “I apologize for being so late. I had to keep Dedue off my tail. I think he knows something is going on.”
“Ah, no wonder he kept looking at me earlier. It should be me to apologize, however. We did call on you suddenly.” Dimitri offers.
“It’s no trouble. When Hapi told me Felix and your daughter was here, I rushed over as fast as time allowed. But speaking of,” Mercedes’s gaze moves over to Isabelle, “This must Isabelle. Such a beautiful young lady you have grown into!”
“Nice to meet you.” Isabelle nods her head in greeting, her face a little red in embarrassment. Mercedes giggles as she looks between her and Dimitri,
“You look like the perfect combination of Felix and Dimitri. It is hard to say who you look most like. Though you certainly have Felix’s eyes! Oh, excuse me for putting you on the spot like this. It really is a blessing to meet you, Isabelle. My name is Mercedes, but you can call me Mercie if you like.”
Isabelle nods with a smile towards Mercedes, “Father has mentioned you before. Thank you for coming to see him. I think he would be happy to see an old friend.”
“I am looking forward to seeing him after so long. I am glad to have gotten a chance to meet you. You and my daughter are the same age, I believe. Hopefully, you get to meet her soon. I’m sure she would enjoy being around someone her age here for once,” Mercedes steps away towards the infirmary, “We will see each other soon, Dimitri. You two be easy now. I will be sure Felix is comfortable.”
“Thank you.” Dimitri and Isabelle speak at the same time. When Mercedes disappears into the infirmary, the two of them stand awkwardly for a moment. Dimitri turns to Isabelle as he gestures down the hall opposite of the infirmary,
“We should hurry before the food gets cold. You aren’t allergic to anything, are you?”
“I’m fine,” Isabelle grins at him, “So long as there’s meat involved, I’ll eat anything.”
“You two really are exactly alike. You keep surprising me.”
[One Week Later]
“You do realize that you will have to speak to Dimitri, eventually right?” Hapi says to Felix in the middle of a healing spell. “It has been a week since you’ve been here. How long are you going to let this silence keep going?”
“He will survive,”
“Brutal,” Hapi says sarcastically as she shakes her head and she pulls away, letting Felix get comfortable again, “I hate having to serve as mediator. It’s always a recipe for disaster that way if even one person takes advantage of miscommunication. Anyways, Dimitri went to see Ingrid and Sylvain today. He said he is going to tell them everything.”
“So he decided to tell them. How does he know whether I want to see them or not, because as soon as he tells them, they’ll both run right into this room and start interrogating me.”
Hapi throws a slightly annoyed frown at him, “Well it’s your fault if it happens, Fe.”
“I told you to not call me that. I’ve heard Sylvain say it enough to me years ago.”
“I know.” Hapi grins, “It’s punishment for making me run back and forward between you and Dimitri.”
“I’ll talk to him eventually. Just not right now.”
“Well when you do, I know he’s ready. I’ll let Mercie know I’ve checked on you.” Hapi says as she gathers her things.
Hapi only laughs as she leaves, “Don’t thank me. Just talk to Dimitri already.”
As Felix predicted, it did not take long before Sylvain and Ingrid showed up. He is surprised to see that Sylvain walks in on his own first.
“F-Felix…” He steps towards the bed slowly, “This is real right? Like you are actually sitting right there.”
“It’s nice to see you too, Sylvain.” Felix says in response as Sylvain moves to sit in the chair near the bed.
“I didn’t think I was going to see you ever again. When Dimitri broke the news to us… It was a lot. I am just glad you’re here right now.”
“I’m surprised you didn’t come sooner.”
“Oh, I have so many questions, Felix, I do. But I know I shouldn’t overwhelm you. So I won’t ask you about anything else at this moment. Well, except for one thing. I just need your answer to this one question.”
Felix sighs, “What?”
“Why didn’t you tell me? Why did you take on all of that alone? You could have come to me. You could have confided in me. We have known each other since we were children. We even promised we’d die together as kids, Felix. If I had known about what happened, I would have given my all to help. You know that.”
“Yes, I do know.” Felix replies as he looks away, “But that’s exactly why I didn’t tell you. I didn’t want you risking your life either.”
“I just… I know this is selfish but I really wish you would have tried to talk to me.”
“Even if I did, they would have made you stay quiet. You wouldn’t have had the chance to help me because they’d get to you before you could even think about it.”
“I know. You’re right. Still...” Sylvain trails off to give Felix a warm smile, “I’m just glad that you are back.”
“Did Ingrid not want to come? I was half expecting her to be first so she could yell at me,” Felix chuckles.
“Oh she’s coming alright. She got caught up but with something. I did want to mention that Ashe and Annette were sent a letter but, since Ashe is all the way in Derdriu and Annette is focused on running her school, I’m not sure how long it’ll take them to get here."
“I’m in no rush to have a lot of visitors.” Felix replies, “Just you and Ingrid are a good start.”
Not even a second later, Ingrid storms right in, the most panicked expression Felix has ever seen from her, “Felix!”
“That’s all you have to say to me?!”
White roses dipped red in blood. Blue trimmed in black. Metal bars adorned by vines.
“Do you want to know what insanity feels like?”
This silver needle etched in skin felt no better than a sword cutting slowly down his back.
“Come on. Lose it, already. I know you want to scream.”
He felt comfort in the arms of the beast. Those claws were less intrusive than the fake flesh of the Agarthans.
“Scream for us, Felix. Scream. You owe this crest to us.”
Something was wrong. His ribs… lungs... Weren’t they already crushed? Did they heal him and plan to do it again?
“Don’t worry, you’ll be in the arms of Dimitri soon. Don’t you want that? Be good so you can see him. Your blood is very precious to us.”
Dimitri. Dimitri. Dimitri,
What would happen to Dimitri? What would happen to the child? The child that he-- That’s right. Isabelle. Where was Isabelle?
“Please wake up, Felix.”
He could pretend. The warmth around him. He can pretend. No… that warmth—
Felix jolts, eyes shooting open as he gasps, finding himself grasping onto nothing but air before a hand shoots out to grab his own. It doesn’t feel cold. It’s not cold.
“Felix, I’m right here. Try to breathe.” Felix hears as the arm around him tightens. When he can just barely grasp onto reality, he grasps onto the warmth. He forces himself to try breathing slowly.
“Where are you, Felix?”
“Infirmary.” He answers weakly, “Fhirdiad.”
The room shifts a bit. He is being moved but slow enough not to startle him, “Can you tell me what you hear?”
“The bed is creaking. My voice. Your voice.”
“Can you name something you see?” Felix remembers he has to open his eyes. The natural light of the room contrasts with the darkness he’d expected. He names what he can see without turning his head.
“Ceiling, Edge of window, tips of blonde hair.” He answers. Felix then realizes that the head of hair was coming from the person holding him so closely. He doesn’t freak out. He has no reason to.
“Do you know my voice?”
Dimitri gently lets Felix go, helping him sit up on the bed. “Do you need me to get you anything?”
Felix watches as Dimitri moves around. He still feels like parts of his body haven’t caught up with reality yet.
When he is handed the water, Felix readily takes it to drink. Dimitri doesn’t say much else for a while until Felix is holding an empty cup and he reaches to grab and refill it.
“You know I have a second room that hangs off my chambers. I know me and you have yet to fully speak but… I would feel much better if you were near me. At least there you can still have your own private space.”
Felix doesn’t have it in him to say no. Nor does he even really want to. So he just nods his head and drinks more of his water.
“Do you need me to get anything else for you?”
“I need to be alone. Just to cool my head.”
“I… understand. I’ll check on you in an hour or so.”
Before he walks away, Felix reaches out to grab Dimitri’s hand. He feels hands tighten around his own and lets out a noiseless sigh. He glances up at Dimitri, squeezing his hand,
Sitting down for afternoon tea became an everyday routine for Isabelle and Dimitri, with Felix joining in every other day when he wasn’t on medicine. It made time for them to sit together as a family and learn more about each other. Isabelle was mostly the one talking, telling stories of her growing up or about the results of her latest training session.
Dimitri is happy that Isabelle is adapting quite well, even becoming friends with Mercedes and Dedue’s daughter, Emilia Molinaro fairly quickly.
“She’s so… I dunno. Interesting? She speaks so sweetly, like she wouldn’t hurt a fly, but when she fights with an axe she’s like a totally different person!” Isabelle had once told him and Felix.
“Oh, does Isabelle have a crush?” Felix had teased her.
“It’s okay to admit your feelings.”
“You’re the last person I want to hear that from!”
“Felix does have a point. You shouldn’t feel the need to hide things like that. You can take interest in others if you like.” Dimitri added.
“Not you agreeing with him. I don’t want to have this conversation with my fathers.” She whined.
It had all been going well. Nothing seemed amiss. But Dimitri should have known something was wrong when Felix began leaving early due to ‘sleepiness’. His nightmares were more frequent and Dimitri was at his side every time. He never pushed Felix to tell him about the nightmares, knowing from experience it’s a bad idea to ask someone to talk about their trauma when they didn’t want to. Dimitri did whatever could to make sure Felix was still comfortable. And it seemed to be good.
However, Felix had always been good at hiding his emotions and feelings.
Isabelle and Dimitri are too late to notice the shift in Felix’s behavior. It isn’t until one of the healers frantically enters the dining space where they were having tea. The healer apologizes profusely, saying she had failed her work. She hadn’t been making sure Felix was taking his medicine. Dimitri tries to calm her down, but all he gets is her placing a sheet of paper on the table:
I do not hate you. But I have to go.
Please take care of Isabelle.
She is happier there with you.
I have some things I need to sort out.
Dimitri’s blood runs cold as his eyes roam the letter. Isabelle is frozen next to him.
Felix’s nightmares… He should’ve known how the nightmares would affect him.
“Your majesty!” A knight runs into the room, “Someone said they saw Duke Fraldarius leave on horseback just a few moments ago!”
Chapter 3: Paroxysms
Chapter 3 – Paroxysms
“I have to go find him!” If we let him disappear now, we’ll never see him again!” Isabelle doesn’t stay any longer to hear Dimitri’s words, running out of the room.
“Alert Dedue and Ingrid both that I will be gone for a while.” Dimitri states to the knight and healer before running after Isabelle. He tracks her down to the stables where she has paused by Felix’s horse.
“Why do this again? Why… He even left her here,” She says as he runs her hands through the mane of the horse, “This is the only thing me and father have ever disagreed on. Pushing me away isn’t going to get the result he wants.” She says as he mounts onto her horse, Dimitri having already mounted on his own. They share a brief stare of understanding and move.
Felix wasn’t going to disappear this time.
“Father is probably heading back towards our village but he’ll take a small detour to the city near it. If you plan to be in the run for a long time, you have to think quickly on your feet and consider every option.” Isabelle glances toward him, “At least that’s what father would tell me all the time.”
They don’t say much else as they move, trees and small homes passing by in a blur.
Soon, Isabelle and Dimitri see something the outline of a person standing near their horse. Isabelle and Dimitri immediately pick up their pace.
Felix’s head shoots around, eyes wide in shock, apparently not expecting them to catch up to him.
“What are you both doing here?”
Isabelle suddenly comes to a halt a few feet from Felix, Dimitri stopping right next to her. Dimitri freezes for a moment, seeing the stream of tears that were already falling down Isabelle’s face. Just as he is about to console her, she suddenly glares tearfully in the direction of Felix.
“Do you hate me that much?” Isabelle shouts. Her head drops down as she begins squeezing the reins in her hands. “I’ve tried so hard to figure out what to do! The two most important people in my life are hurting because of me and yet… What am I supposed to do to make you stay?!”
Dimitri opens his mouth to disagree just as Felix takes a step toward her, clear shock written on his face. Isabelle continues, eyes never leaving her hands.
“When I was little, learning more about our situation, I thought… I thought if I did everything you told me to—If I didn’t get into trouble, I could at least make you somewhat happy you had me. That I wasn’t just a monster that caused you burden and pain. No matter how I felt or how much I wanted something, I put into my mind that my needs were not important.”
“I was mistaken and also a hypocrite,” Isabelle laughs through her tears, “This whole time I thought you both were in denial but really… It was me, wasn’t it? Believing I could be your daughter—You don’t even want me.”
“What?” Felix voices weakly, “That’s not true.”
“Really? It’s not?” Isabelle lets out another mirthless laugh, “You’ve spent sixteen years trying to convince yourself that I’m just a kid you kidnapped, remember? You didn’t even want to admit to yourself that I was of your blood.”
For a moment Isabelle falls silent. Dimitri and Felix are still too shocked to do anything or to say anything. One wrong move. One wrong word and it felt like everything would shatter.
“It would have hurt me so much less if you had just abandoned me instead of taking me with you. At least then that woman… my mother… would have killed me.”
Dimitri tries to reach out to Isabelle, but she turns away from them and takes off onto a path. A sharp intake of breath changes the course of Dimitri's thoughts as he sees Felix suddenly bending over. Quickly unmounting his horse, he moves to hold Felix up. “Felix—”
Felix’s hands automatically fall onto Dimitri’s lower arms as he breathes heavily, “I need—We have to get Isabelle.”
“We will,” Dimitri begins leading him towards his horse. Felix suddenly tries to pull away but is stopped by Dimitri’s arm falling around his waist, holding Felix closely.
“I can ride on my own,” Felix sounds so weak and out of it. If he lets Felix try to ride himself, Felix will just end up falling off and hurting himself.
“No. You will stay alongside me. That aside, if we ride together, we will be able to find her faster.”
Felix seems to consider this, looking up at Dimitri in what must be his attempt to glare but he just looks even more in pain. Felix stops trying to move away, breathing out in defeat, “Fine.”
Dimitri gets on his horse first before helping Felix mount and situate himself behind him. Felix’s arms automatically move around Dimitri’s waist as Dimitri takes off in the direction Isabelle went.
The anxiety gets to the point of being suffocating the longer their ride is. There were too many paths that Isabelle could have taken. No matter how they searched one path, she could be on the other moving to the next.
It was almost nightfall and it would only become harder to find her the darker it gets. Eventually Dimitri’s horse gets tired and Dimitri has to stop completely. They are surrounded by trees with only one path to their right and another at their left.
“Dimitri…” Felix’s arms get tighter around Dimitri’s waist as he fists his hands in front of Dimitri’s stomach. Dimitri automatically moves one hand off the reins to grasp onto Felix’s hands. It’s only as he is holding Felix’s hand that he realizes he is shaking.
“We will find her.” Dimitri says softly. He’s unsure if he’s saying that to reassure Felix or himself. For the both of them.
“What if she’s in danger?”
“That won’t happen, I promise. We will find her and bring her home. I’m bringing both of you home no matter what it takes. No more of this… We’re going to face each other. You and me along with Isabelle.”
Felix doesn’t say anything else to that, instead maneuvering their hands so that Felix is holding Dimitri’s between his own. For a moment, there is no sound. Neither of them even want to breathe, afraid to break the air. But the world around them continues, not stopping for them. So when they suddenly hear the unmistakable sound of a horse’s neighing, they jump in alert. Dimitri moves them quickly toward the sound, turning down one of the paths, and stopping when they see Felix’s horse walking around. Dimitri and Felix unmount quickly, the latter moving to calm his horse.
“She has to be near.” Felix looks around though he can only see so well with it being near dark. Ahead of him through the bushes they both hear the sound of water being hit, possibly someone throwing pebbles. Dimitri and Felix glance once at one another before pushing their way through the various branches. As soon as they make it through, they stop in front of a river.
Isabelle is sitting right at the edge, arms around her knees and head down. She doesn’t move, not even to acknowledge that her fathers stand behind her.
“I guess I’m really bad at staying hidden when I’m alone, aren’t I?” She mutters quietly, “I’m still crying even. Not only am I a monster but I am a pathetic one.”
“Stop.” Felix suddenly says sternly before moving to Isabelle, squatting down as he places his hands on her shoulders and turns her towards him, “Stop saying you’re a monster. That is not what you are. Stop talking like that.”
“What am I then?” She snaps at him, trying to pull away but failing, “What do you even want me to say?”
“Isabelle. You are Isabelle. That is who you are. Get the idea of being a monster out of your head because I can promise you that you are far from that! I have seen beasts walk around in human skin. Humans who lose themselves only to never come back from it. You are not that. Say anything you want but stop speaking about yourself that way.”
Isabelle doesn’t respond back, looking down as Felix continues with a less stern voice,
“Do you really think that I didn’t want you as my daughter? That I didn’t want you to live? I wouldn’t have ran away with you if I didn’t love you. I took you with me because I wanted you. I wanted to make sure you lived.”
“Then why… Why did you never call me your real daughter? If you wanted me—”
“It was never about that. I promise that I have always wanted you. You are my daughter. It was—” Felix pauses as he gently places his hands on the sides of Isabelle's face to make her look at him, “I took you away from your home. Away from the rest of your family and people that would have taken care of you. I didn’t think I deserved to call myself your father.”
“You raised me. Why would you feel guilty about being my father when you were never a bad one?”
“But what about Dimitri? Dimitri didn’t get that chance to be your father. You realize I took that connection from him and you, right?”
Isabelle's eyes widen a bit but not just at Felix’s words. She’s focused on his face watching as a tear comes down his face, “You’re crying. I’ve never seen you cry before.”
“What parent cries in front of their child? Mine sure didn’t.” Felix chokes out a scoff as the tears continue to fall.
“You know, Isabelle…” Dimitri moves from where is standing and moves behind Felix to sit. He reaches over to place one of his hands over Felix’s where they remain on Isabelle’s cheek, “No matter the circumstances, me and your father have always loved you. Nothing will change that.”
“You’re our daughter.” Felix adds.
Isabelle looks at her two fathers for a moment, words stuck in her throat and more tears ready to fall. As soon as their hands fall away, she jumps at them. Felix’s arms shoot out to catch her but her weight throws him back into Dimitri’s chest, leaving Dimitri to keep them up right. Isabelle’s arms are strewn about, trying to hold tight to both of them.
“Are you alright Felix? You look like you took a blow there.” Dimitri chuckles as Felix places a hand over Isabelle’s head while using his other hand to wipe at his face.
“I’m pretty sure she activated your crest so I may have a broken rib.”
Isabelle lifts her head from Felix’s shoulder and pouts at him while glaring, “I don’t feel bad. You shouldn’t have tried to leave us.” She huffs before putting her head back down.
“Such a brat…” Felix says with a small smile as Dimitri’s hold around them gets tighter, “You both know it is getting late, right?”
“I don’t want to move yet.” Isabelle mutters.
“I must say, I would like to enjoy this moment longer as well. Just the three of us as a family.” Dimitri adds and Felix just lets out a short sigh, dropping his head back onto Dimitri’s shoulder, “Fine. Have it your way.”
“You know Felix…” Dimitri speaks softly, “You can cry with us. You don’t have to keep your heart guarded with us.”
When the three of them return to the palace, Dedue and Emilia are the first to come running out to them at the stables. Emilia practically crashes into Isabelle and pulls her into a hug as Dedue approaches Felix and Dimitri.
“Apologies for leaving you to my duties for so long, Dedue. I hope nothing caused you any trouble.”
“I am fine. Nothing happened I could not handle” Dedue nods before turning his gaze to Felix, “Emilia was quite concerned for you as well, Felix. Isabelle was quite distraught when she left. Emilia thought something had happened.”
“I…” Felix glances towards the two girls as he mutters, “I did not mean to cause her worry.”
Dedue doesn’t say anything else, choosing to give him a nod. Felix mutters to himself before speaking, “I’ll leave you two to talk.”
When he turns, Dimitri’s hand suddenly shoots out to touch Felix’s shoulder, making him look back with furrowed brows. Dimitri almost looks shocked at his own actions and instantly let’s go.
“I’ll see you in your chambers.” Is all Felix says before walking off, leaving Dedue and Dimitri to speak.
By the time Dimitri comes into the chambers, Felix is standing outside on the balcony. Dimitri is rustling around the room for a while before Felix hears a set of feet coming closer to him.
“That is an interesting choice of clothing.” Dimitri chuckles as Felix looks down at himself. When he went to his room, all he had to change into was a long white button down shirt and some black shorts. He remembered then that he took a bag of clothes with him and dropped them in the haste to get to Isabelle.
He didn’t feel like dwelling too much on what to wear when his wardrobe was limited and what he did have was dirty. He’d just have to get clothes at a later date.
“I didn’t have any clothes readily available.”
“You could have asked the healer or a guard. They would have bought something,” Felix just hums as Dimitri adds “Are you not cold?”
“I am managing.” He answers and takes this moment to eye Dimitri’s clothes. He wears a tight black turtle-neck and teal pants with the only armor being on is his armored chausses.
“You are done with any work, I presume.”
“For now. I do have a new stack of papers that need my attention. However, I wanted to be with you, tonight.”
Felix hums, looking out from the balcony as Dimitri moves to stand next to him. It is quiet for a while, the two of them listening to the crickets echoing through the air as they watch the movement below the balcony. Felix finds himself being the first to break the silence.
“When Glenn passed away, my father slowly withdrew from me. I hadn’t realized what he was trying to do then.” Felix breaks the silence, keeping his eyes out to the sky, “Being as young as I was, I just thought it was him not caring about me or about Glenn. When he made that statement about his death, repeating it for weeks like a damn mantra. It made me so angry. I couldn’t stand to even breathe the same air as him.”
Felix lets out a tired sigh as he peers up at the sky.
“When I got into the academy, that was when I realized what his goal was: to push me away. He had lost many of the people he loved already: Glenn. Mother, and Lambert. If he could withdraw from me, my death maybe wouldn’t hurt him as badly.” Felix scoffs, “My damn old man. I was the last person he had and yet he thought throwing me out of his heart would really change things? Would make him or me feel any better about Glenn? Him doing that just made me angrier. Made me want to stay away longer even though I knew that’s exactly what he wanted me to do.”
Felix shakes his head, stealing at glance to Dimitri, “I hated him for doing that and yet I turned around and did the exact same thing to Isabelle. What sense does that make?”
“You are only human, Felix. You have to allow yourself to make mistakes.”
“Those mistakes almost cost us our daughter.”
“The only thing you can do is learn from the mistakes you make.” Dimitri places a hand over Felix’s holding onto the edge of the balcony, “Do you remember what you used to tell me? That you can’t dwell on the past. All you can do is look to the present and future.”
Felix hums, turning his hand around so that they can grasp one another’s hand tightly, “I never would have imagined you having to tell me that.”
“Me neither,” Dimitri chuckles, “Mercedes has always told me that it’s easier to give advice than follow through with that advice for yourself.”
They fall quiet again and Felix focuses on the feeling of Dimitri’s hand in his own.
“To be honest with you, when you first left with Isabelle I was angry but… also hurt and confused. I just could not understand for the life of me why you would kidnap Isabelle. Until—” Felix lifts his head to look at Dimitri when he suddenly stops talking.
“When Sylvain found us eight years ago, he told me about the queen dying. But I knew better than to believe that. I knew… you killed her. How did you find out who she was?”
Dimitri’s expression changes into one of anger as he looks away from Felix, “That woman… I overheard a conversation from her. Had I not stopped her, she would have taken Dedue’s daughter.”
Felix startles at this for a moment, “Emilia? Why would she try to attack her?”
“Emilia bares Mercedes’s crest. With you having taken Isabelle away, I believe the Agarthans were going to try to experiment on Emilia. They still have the blood that they took from you.”
“Disgusting. To take another innocent child to experiment on. Were they really planning to implant my crest into Emilia?”
“I believe so. I also came to know that these Agarthans are the exact same group who experimented on both Lysithea and Edelgard. If the information I received is correct, their experiments were only successful in the cases where a minor and major crest were given. Lysithea, Edelgard, and Isabelle are the proof of that. Mercedes passed on the minor crest of Lamine to Emilia. With your blood still being available and holding the major crest of Fraldarius, the Agarthans likely figured Emilia would be the easiest person to replace Isabelle’s role in their plan.”
“Dimitri. When Isabelle was born, were you already aware that she was carrying two crests? That she was… both of ours?”
“Of course not,” Dimitri frowns at him, “Do you think all that has happened with us would have transpired if I knew that?”
“Right because babies do not activate their crest that young. Not at a few months old. With Isabelle, I see how they knew she had two crests but how would they have guessed Emilia held one when she was born only months after Isabelle? Dedue doesn’t have a crest, so there was a high chance that Emilia would not. How are the Agarthans keeping track of who exactly bears a crest when they are born?”
“I am still unsure. Byleth believes there is someone secretly working within the palace but we have no way of knowing that no matter how we check who walks down each hall.”
“So Byleth is aware of all of this?”
“They have been investigating the Agarthans as well.” Dimitri nods as Felix lets out a frustrated breath before leaning his elbows on the balcony and fisting his hands together to lean onto,
“This is why I kept Isabelle away—why we weren’t supposed to turn back to this place so soon. Those Agarthans will come back for both Isabelle and Emilia. If we don’t figure out who is giving out information then what.”
“You and Isabelle have been fine for sixteen years and Emilia has never gotten hurt. They won’t get them so easily. Especially with that woman gone now.”
Felix falls quiet for a moment and doesn’t move when a hand comes to rest on his shoulder. Felix tries to relax but he can’t make himself even take a breath.
“Is Dedue aware of what could have happened to Emelia?” Felix asks. The hand on his shoulder tenses, giving Felix an answer before Dimitri really can.
“Since I had dealt with the situation and nothing happened to her, I did not find it necessary to tell either Dedue or Mercedes.”
“You’re going to have to tell him now then,” Felix turns to look at Dimitri, “He needs to keep Emilia safe just in case. The Agarthans won’t hesitate to take her too even if Isabelle is here. Having the both of them will only increase their chances of successfully getting what they want.”
“She is also his daughter, Dimitri. He deserves to know.”
“I… You are right. I should not keep this from Dedue any further.” Dimitri says before crossing his arms with a slight frown, “But speaking of. Why did you not tell me about Lilah being killed and switched with the Agarthan woman? You knew what their plans were yet your thought was to run and not tell me? Did I not also deserve to know?”
Felix tenses, looking away instantly. “That was different.”
“It just is.” Felix grits his teeth.
“When did this become a habit of yours? The Felix I have known never ran away from problems. Rather, you had a habit of running straight into them even when you shouldn’t. Now you just run away from everything and expect the people around you to know what you are thinking.”
“You know what I mean, Felix. I am only trying to know what you are thinking so that I can do what I can for you.”
“What else is there for me to say, Dimitri? You already know the entire situation and everything that happened with Lilah.”
“You misunderstand me. I am not talking about the Agarthans anymore. I am talking about you, Felix. Why did you run away?”
“I told you it was because I needed to protect you and Isabelle. What other meaning is there? I have told you everything you need to know that’s important.”
“There is something else you aren’t telling me. It’s not about misunderstanding the situation, as I have already stated. It’s you that I am trying to understand. What caused you to run away then is the same reason you walked away from me and Isabelle just some hours ago. What was that reason? Are you afraid?”
“This discussion is mute.” Felix turns away but Dimitri moves to stand in front of the doors.
“I want us to trust each other.”
“Some of the trust between us has broken. It’s only a matter of time before the remaining crumbles away if we don’t address this.”
“Are you saying you do not trust me?”
“The question here is whether or not you trust me.”
“What makes you think I don’t?”
“You trust that I will protect you and Isabelle. And I trust you will do the same.” Dimitri states, stepping closer to Felix, “But that seems to be where our trust ends.”
“You don’t trust me enough to let me into your heart. To know what’s hurting you—what has hurt you. And I cannot trust that you won’t disappear from me again. That you won’t abandon our relationship in fear the next time something happens. Please, let me be here for you.”
Felix doesn’t say anything in response, at a loss for words. Dimitri reaches out hesitantly as if gaging his reaction. Felix doesn’t move away, instead dropping his hands at his sides as he looks over Dimitri’s shoulder. Swallowing, the sensation of a lump in his throat has Felix’s squeezing his hands into fists.
“You must be tired, Felix.” Dimitri says softly as he places his hands on Felix’s face. He runs his thumbs over Felix’s cheeks, “You’ve gone through so much. Please allow me to carry some of that pain. Allow me into your heart to heal it.”
“You have also gone through a lot.” Felix can feel his voice betraying him and closes his mouth. He knows the effort to hide it is pointless. Dimitri knows him best.
“And you helped me through it all. You stood by me every step of the way. I only wish to do the same for you.”
Felix only remembers to breathe when Dimitri’s hands suddenly come to his upper arms, giving a gentle squeeze. Tight enough for Felix to know he’s there not just physically, but emotionally and mentally.
“They can’t hurt you anymore. You are safe. You are home.”
Felix furrows his brows, mouth hanging slightly ajar as he tries to find his voice but nothing but a small, choked sound escapes. Dimitri gently pulls him into his chest, one hand at his back and the other at the back of Felix’s head.
“Despite the way it happened, I am glad we can share a daughter together. That is something I could never hate you for.”
“I betrayed you.”
“You did not betray me. You were running for your life and protecting Isabelle. I would never fault you for that. You were being held against your will.”
“She told me to kill you.” Felix says suddenly as images begin flashing in his eyes. Dimitri’s grasp of him keeps him present, “She said to kill you or she would use my body to do it herself. I couldn’t… I tried…”
“You held on and you made it. You conquered everything and raised Isabelle into a wonderful person. You didn’t lose grasp on life. Isabelle is alive because you didn’t give up.”
Felix tries to turn his mind away from the pain. But then Isabelle’s crying face enters his mind, “Isabelle… I denied Isabelle. I denied my own daughter because I didn’t want to believe what happened to me. I don’t want to lose either of you. All I have ever wanted for the last sixteen years was for it to just be us.”
Dimitri squeezes him tightly, voice shaking, “It’s just us now, Felix. There is no one else. No one will hurt you. I promise you I won’t let it happen again. I’m so sorry I didn’t hear your cries.”
Felix wants to tell him it’s not his fault but all he could do was wrap his arms around Dimitri. He was here. They wouldn’t be apart again. He was home. A home that he didn’t have to build alone anymore.
“Just promise me you won’t leave again Felix. I can’t,” Dimitri’s voice hitches, “I cannot bear to lose you again.”
“…I promise.” Felix whispers, “I’m home.”
“A home that is always yours.” Dimitri voices as the two pull away from each other just enough to look at one another.
“…You named her.”
“Amber Egitte Blaiddyd. Sylvain called Isabelle that name when he came to the village. I assume you named her that after your father.”
“I… Goddess, it’s been eight or so years since I’ve heard that name or used it myself.”
Felix shakes his head, “You really forgot about that?”
“When Sylvain came back, he told me the name you gave her. I hadn’t thought too much on it, since Isabelle is what our daughter would answer to.” Dimitri explains, “Though, how did you come up with her name?”
“It was my mother’s name.”
“Really? It’s a beautiful name.” Dimitri says but Felix flinches a bit. The guilt of it eats at him immensely and it must be obvious on his face with Dimitri’s words, “But why do you look sad about that?”
“You named her after your father. I took that decision away from you.”
“Isabelle is your child just as much as she is mine. You needn’t feel guilty for naming her. You gave her your mother’s name. That is special.”
“That’s not just it and the name you gave her was special too.” Felix sighs, “I mean that we should have named her together.”
Felix hadn’t realized he was looking away until he felt Dimitri’s hand brush the hair at the back of his neck. Looking up, he finds a smile warm enough to melt him away if it were possible.
“I think her name suits her perfectly.”
“You gave our daughter a wonderful name. Even sixteen years ago, I would have said the same.”
Felix is at a loss for words, feeling heat creep up his neck. They don’t say much else as Dimitri pulls him back in. Just as Felix closes his eyes, he feels the warm press of Dimitri’s lips on his own. Dimitri’s hands fall to his waist as they tilt their heads into the kiss, hardly trying to pause for air.
When Dimitri pulls away, Felix has to force himself not to pull him right back in.
“I love you, Felix.”
“I love you too.” As soon as the words leave his lips, Dimitri bends down to capture his lips. Felix gasps at the sudden passion behind it. The intensity of just Dimitri’s body heat alone is enough to make Felix swear he is dreaming. He moves his hands to Dimitri’s chest slowly moving up to his shoulder, reminding him that Dimitri was there in the flesh.
“I’ve missed you immensely.” Dimitri pulls back with an exhale as he brushes a piece of Felix’s hair from his face. When Felix looks up at him he finds Dimitri’s eyes shifting down to his parted lips. Dimitri moves his hand from Felix’s bang to the back of his head, tugging the hair tie off his hair. Felix shakes his head, letting his hair fall haphazardly around his shoulders and back.
“You never used to let your hair grow out to such a length.” Dimitri comments as he brings a hand to rest on Felix’s cheek. Felix leans into his touch with his eyes closed as Dimitri gently runs his thumb across Felix’s lips. Felix focuses on memorizing the feel of Dimitri’s hand before opening his eyes to answer him.
“Isabelle liked to copy me when she was young. I cut my hair once and she somehow found the scissors and decided she would cut hers so that it would look like mine. It was a disaster,” Felix finds himself chuckling a bit, “I decided it would be best to leave my hair alone so she didn’t get scissor happy again. As she got older, I eventually found myself comfortable keeping my hair as is.”
A smile crosses Dimitri’s face and for a moment, Felix feels a soft tug at his heart as the air feels just a bit warmer.
“You should tell me more stories about you and Isabelle sometime, Felix. I would love to hear all of them.”
“All of them? You sure you have time for that?”
“I’ll always have time for the both of you.”
Felix knows his face begins turning red as he stammers for a moment. Dimitri lets out a laugh as Felix has to take a deep breath, turning his gaze downward to glare at the ground, “I’m too old to get flustered like this. Stop laughing at me.”
Dimitri stops laughing after a second. It’s quiet only for a few seconds before Felix hears him hum, a hand hooking under his under his chin to lift his head up.
“For now Felix, all I want is you. You’re the focus.” He says as he leans down just a breath away from Felix’s lips. Felix stares into Dimitri’s eyes for a moment before he pokes his tongue out, slowly licking his top lip, knowing his eyes will follow the movement closely.
Felix wraps his arms around Dimitri’s neck as a pair of hands find their way to his waist, pulling him so that they’re flush against each other. Felix tilts his head with a small smirk as he glances at Dimitri’s lips, “Well then, are you going to keep me waiting?”
Dimitri wastes no more time, diving down to take Felix’s lips. Felix lets out a breathless sigh as his hands move to grip at Dimitri’s arms. It’s addicting, Felix thinks. He wants those lips everywhere on him, never stopping and never leaving. He misses this. He misses them being together.
He opens his mouth to groan but it’s rendered back to gasps as Dimitri pulls him deeper into the kiss. If this continues, Felix might just—
Felix moans before pulling away from the kiss, “We need to go back in.”
“Lead the way,”
As they enter, Felix eyes the door of the room before turning to Dimitri, pointing to a chair where the fireplace is burning, “Sit there. I’ll check the door.”
“Why not the bed?” Dimitri wonders though he moves to sit anyway. Felix doesn’t answer him, instead smirking to himself as moves around to lock the door. He glances over to Dimitri, his back in Felix’s direction.
Knowing Dimitri can’t see him, Felix takes his time walking back towards Dimitri. He allows himself the moment to be enraptured by the way the fireplace hits Dimitri’s form.
Felix toys with the waistband of his shorts before slipping them off, smoothing his shirt over his hips as he stops behind the chair. Dimitri’s head lifts just a bit, aware of Felix’s presence behind him. Before Dimitri can turn in his seat, Felix tosses his shorts into his lap, pleased at the surprised breath that leaves Dimitri.
Felix walks around the chair, relishing in Dimitri’s attention as blue eyes move across every inch of him. He looks speechless. Like he really had not expected this from Felix.
“Pay attention.” Felix says before slowly dropping to his knees. He leans forward on his knees, shirt covering his lower half. He moves so that his hands are on the ground between his knees.
“This is quite a bold side of you if I must say.” Dimitri says but Felix can hear him trying to hold himself back. But Dimitri holding back is not what he wants even in the slightest.
Felix pulls Dimitri’s knees apart just as slow as he had been moving. When he looks up, he finds Dimitri’s eyes boring into his, a dark glimmer to them. Felix holds his gaze, tilting his head just slightly as he opens his mouth. He licks his top lip agonizingly slow, his hands moving from Dimitri’s knees all the way up his thighs.
“Felix… You. You are not being fair.”
“When have I ever played fair?” Felix responds. Dimitri’s eyes darken as he leans forward, hooking a hand under Felix's chin to lift his head. Felix keeps eye contact as pulls back and softly bites Dimitri’s thumb.
“Do you know what you do to me?” Dimitri asks with a much lower voice. Felix raises a brow, looking down at Dimitri’s hand before staring back at him,
“I don’t know, your majesty. Why don’t you show me?”
When Felix wakes up, he groans at the brightness of the room. Pulling the covers over his eyes with a frown. He hears a chuckle before the bed shifts and the covers are pulled down from his face. Before Felix can complain, Dimitri silences him with a gentle kiss.
“It seems you rested well last night. I’m glad.” Dimitri says before laying his head back on his pillow.
“I guess.” Felix turns to fully face Dimitri. He can see the small circles under Dimitris eyes and frowns at him, “You didn’t go to sleep.”
“Ah… Not for long.” Dimitri smiles shamefully.
“You’re still having trouble with sleep? After all of these years?”
Dimitri hums as he closes his eyes, “I’m much better about sleep now than I was back then. I think last night was a special case.”
Felix sees the shifting frown the instant it crosses his face. He stares at Dimitri’s closed eyes briefly before moving a hand to push blond hair from his face, Dimitri opening his eyes to look at Felix
Felix speaks as softly, “Dimitri. I am not going anywhere. I told you I wouldn’t.”
“I trust your word.” Dimitri smiles but the sadness swirling in his voice was clear, “I was more afraid that this was all a dream. That I’d wake up and you and Isabelle wouldn’t be here.”
Felix pauses, for a moment, unsure of how to respond. Letting out a sigh, he shifts close to Dimitri so that he can easily lean in. He presses a kiss to Dimitri’s nose and then to his lips, leaning back just enough to speak, “We will always be here. Nothing will happen.”
The sound of a fist banging against the door startles the both of them. They look at each other in confusion for a moment before they sit up together, rushing to grab their shirts and pants.
“Come in!” Dimitri calls once they are presentable and completely clothed. When the door is thrown open, Felix and Dimitri are both alarmed by Emilia’s frantic state as she walks in. As soon as Felix sees her eyes, he feels a horrible twist in his gut.
“Isabelle. She was—We were going to eat breakfast and there was this… a mage suddenly appeared and started threatening her. I tried to help but they used something on me and I couldn’t move. The person took her and disappeared. I couldn’t do anything.” Emilia explains frantically.
“Emilia, breath.” Dimitri says slowly but it sounds more like he’s the one out of breath, “Did you see who they were?”
“No. They were wearing some strange mask and a long black cloak.” She responds.
Felix curses under his breath, leaning onto the nearest things as he speaks, “Did you tell Dedue this yet?”
“No. I thought it was more important to tell you two first. I came straight here when I could finally move.”
Felix takes a deep breath before standing straight, “You need to go to Dedue. You need to stay by your parents, got it?”
“We’ll handle it. You need to get to safety.” Dimitri speaks up as he moves to the door to call in a knight to escort Emilia. Felix moves back over to the bed, legs too weak to stand any longer.
“It’s not your fault, Emilia. Do not blame yourself.” He hears Dimitri say. It isn’t until he sees a pair of feet in front of him that he fully remembers where he is. He couldn’t waste time sitting around. They need to find her.
“I shouldn’t have taken my eyes off her. I knew it. I knew this was going to happen.” Felix stands up, glancing down at himself, “I need clothes. Of course my wardrobe is limited at this moment.”
“There are some clothes here that I am sure would fit you fine. It’s just that those clothes were the garments your father left in the room designated for him.”
“We don’t have time for me to be picky. I’ll wear them. We need to get to her as soon as we can.”
“You know where she is?”
“I don’t. But they wouldn’t have gone too far out. Their business is here in Fhirdiad. They wouldn’t plan their attack at a far distance.”
“Um guys.” They turn toward the door, Hapi walking in alongside a knight holding a mage on the ground, “We seem to have a visitor.”
[Conand Tower Grave Tomb]
“Did the Agarthan really say this was where Isabelle would be?” Felix asks as he looks across the field. The Conand grave-site was an underground grave site made specifically to easily bury knights underground while keeping the area wide for a battle. It wasn’t as big as Gronder field but was adequate for a battle location for war.
“If the marching of those Agarthans over there are anything to go by I would say we got the information right,” Hapi speaks as the three of them look towards their left. From the set of trees, dozens of Agarthan fighters run at them.
“Get ready.” Felix pulls out his sword as Dimitri orders their battalion forward. As soon as they engage, a shrilling scream pierces through the air, the sound of stones breaking following. From the ground, branch-looking stems shoot upwards in the air, wrapping around itself.
“Gah—The Pain…. Save me…” They hear a growling echo as the form takes shape. Felix and Dimitri’s blood run cold as they watch, a wave of déjà vu forming. Soon enough the watch as Isabelle’s body takes on a form close to Edelgard’s hegemon only now, this form becomes the embodiment of the Aegis Shield.
“We are the Hecatomb Corpse,” A garbled combination of voices speak but Isabelle’s can be heard among the voices clearly, “Prepare to serve your role as our sacrifice. Perish.”
Chapter 4: Hecatomb Corpse
Chapter 4 – Hecatomb Corpse
When Isabelle opens her eyes, all she sees around her is darkness alongside the creeping feel of cold air. There is not a single thing she can make out except for her own body. She can feel the ground under her feet but she doesn’t see what she is standing on.
She hears the inhalation of breath before the voice of a woman speaks through the void.
“You are stuck in the heart of Fraldarius and Blaiddyd: Aegis. You must be careful.”
“You are the Hecatomb Corpse. You carry with you the sacrifices of the dead.”
“Hecatomb corpse? What are you saying? Show yourself!”
“You must know your duty, Isabelle. You are the only way to end the Agarthans.”
Isabelle grips her head when she feels a sudden migraine, leaning forward at the pain. She sees a flash of red before her body jerks forward until she is bought face to face with another woman.
In her mind’s eyes, she sees blood and the form of a woman holding an axe.
“I am Edelgard von Hresvelg.” She states. Though she stands in front of Isabelle, her voice still surrounds the void as before.
“No this…” She stops, eyes wide as she begins recalling what all happened before she got here.
Her and Emilia had been planning to get breakfast together. Out of nowhere, a mage showed up demanding Isabelle to follow them. When she and Emilia tried to leave, all she saw was a flash off magic before Emilia fell to the ground and then Isabelle blacked out. She could not remember anything from that moment to now. Was this the moment her father had warned her about?
“You are not dead.”
Isabelle looks back at Edelgard, recalling some of the stories Felix had told her. A woman clad in red, leading an army down a path she believed was righteous. A bloody path to forage a future.
“There is no way that you should be alive. Father said he watched you die. That you—”
“I will say it again, you are what makes the Hecatomb Corpse and you are the heart of the Aegis shield. All those who have died in the name of Fraldarius and Blaiddyd rest upon your shoulders. All those whom your blood have killed, shall too become a part of your cursed tomb.”
“So you’re saying, because my father—because Dimitri took you down, I now carry your spirit within me?”
“The Agarthans have mastered something so powerful; it can bring immense harm to all life. Your birth was only just the beginning. They have been planning to make you the heartbeat of this corpse. Your crest holds the greatest shield in all humankind. Nothing can break through the barrier built by a Fraldarius. The added strength of the Blaiddyd blood provides you with the ability to fight back. You are the ultimate weapon.”
“This still doesn’t make sense. What are the Agarthans trying to do? Can't you tell me that much?”
“I may be with you in spirit; however I am still dead. I can do nothing more than be a voice. I am here when you call but my soul will die when you relinquish control.”
Suddenly, Edelgard’s voice became deaf to her ears. Images flash through her mind. Scenes that she should not be able to recall. The scenes that flash through her mind appear sporadic and unknown.
That is until they begin to align with the stories she has been told from Felix.
“The mages are retreating! So, they weren’t Imperial troops after all…”
“Stop yammering. We must advance, boar!”
The death of Edelgard, the end to the war. Flashes of her two fathers. Felix stands at Dimitri’s back with the Aegis shield as people surround them all around. Felix is always there. Her father had always protected him.
“Fine. I’ll help you…in my father’s stead. But in return you must win. You know that, don’t you Dimitri?”
“I do. And I swear on my father’s lance that we will prevail.”
“I’m not immune to emotion, you know. Far from it. I haven’t gone a day without questioning why my father and brother had to die, while I survived. I’ll bear this pain until the day I die, but I refuse to wallow in it.”
Rodrigue—her grandfather’s death. Isabelle can see him lying in Dimitri’s arms. Felix is standing at a distance. She can usually read his face but there’s nothing there. Nothing on her father’s face aside from withdrawal from everything around him. Nothing but the crushing sound of a heart being thrown away.
“We tracked the boar for five years. I thought he was dead. In the state he’s in, he might as well be.”
“I have been dead. More or less.”
What happened to Dimitri—
“The report… Dimitri is to be executed for the murder of his uncle, Rufus Blaiddyd.”
“Tell me that it is not true. He wouldn’t do something like that!”
“Felix. You need to calm down.”
“Calm down? That’s funny coming from the man who forgets he even has a blood son! Why aren’t you running to go find him?”
“Please stop. I don’t want to see anything anymore!” Isabelle screams to the void, hands over her ears. But it all keeps coming to her. Blood. Bodies. War. Insanity. Loneliness.
“Stop showing me this.” She gasps to no one.
“That was our first battle. I remember it vividly… I suppose the Dimitri I once knew died during that slaughter in Duscur along with my brother.”
An academy? Her father… Felix looks to be around her age at this time. Dimitri looks very different but somehow something is lurking there. What is it? No... she just saw it, didn’t she? She was seeing memories in reverse. These memories were too much to keep up with. She could hardly breathe now. How much pain did her fathers have to go through with each other. Were these really moments that happened?
“You’re not my Dimitri anymore.”
“What do you mean?”
“You look… You’re scaring me.”
“Don’t touch me. Stay away from me you… you… just get rid of that look in your eyes!”
Suddenly, Rodrigue pops back up standing near Felix. They stand at a grave, with only two others with them.
“Glenn... He died like a true knight.”
Was she feeling anger? Why was she suddenly angry?
Before Isabelle could think further on that, the feeling of anger leaves her and the overwhelming feeling of warmth takes over instead. Suddenly she stands in the second village she remembers growing up in. Felix is there, combing and braiding her hair as her younger self babbles on about random things from her chair.
“Papa, does father not love me?” A young Isabelle suddenly asks. Felix has stopped combing her hair, a frown forming on his face as he moves to around to sit in front of her.
“Of course he does. Why would you think he doesn’t?”
“Because you said he wouldn’t come see us anymore. And that it would be dangerous for us.”
“I meant that it would be unsafe for all of us, including Dimitri. He would never harm you, Isabelle. Never. He loves you. I can promise you that much.”
“But… Why can’t he visit? Or know where we are?”
Felix looks to be piecing his words together carefully, like he wanted to avoid setting off a bomb, “Dimitri and I needed some time apart. That meant taking you with me.”
“So you don’t want to see him?”
“Not right now.” Isabelle can hear Felix’s voice crack a bit. Her younger self is oblivious to it.
“Does that mean you don’t love father anymore?”
Stunned by her question, Felix doesn’t speak for a moment. It takes hearing the little sniffles out of her to pull him out of whatever trance he fell into,
“There is not a day I have gone where I don’t think about Dimitri. I still care about him and love him.”
“It would hurt me to lose the both of you. I can’t lose anyone else.” Felix says. Before young Isabelle can say much else, Felix stands up to finish her hair. Isabelle can see the slight shake of his hands as he finishes her hair. Young Isabelle sits quietly, something of a thoughtful and worried look on her face.
“Done. Do you want to go outside while I prepare food?”
Felix smiles at her, but of course the little girl can’t see how broken it is, “Make sure you come back before it gets too dark.”
“Yes, Papa!” Isabelle giggles before jumping out of her seat and heading straight for the door, stopping to put her shoes on before leaving out.
Isabelle looks back to where Felix is now sitting in the chair her younger self had been in. His hands are over his face and his breathing seems to shudder. It takes Isabelle a moment to see the tears coming down Felix’s face as he just sits there silently.
“You’re crying. I’ve never seen you cry before.”
“What parent cries in front of their child? Mine sure didn’t.”
As soon as Isabelle shoots her hand out to reach for Felix, everything falls to blackness and Edelgard appears in front of her again. “What was… what was that?”
"As your crest reacts with the Aegis shield and your father’s blood. It will trigger his memories within your own. If you activate your Blaiddyd crest, you will inevitably see Dimitri’s memories as well."
“I knew there was a lot that my fathers went through but I hadn’t realized…”
Isabelle; Do not let those triggered memories take you down a path you do not belong.
“How can I stop this? Isn’t there a way to get out of here?” She ignores Edelgard’s words.
Not with the way you are acting. You will fall further into the darkness never to return.
“Why are you helping me? Why are you asking me to take down the Agarthans? What is the point in all of this?
“Do you not hear them?” Edelgard’s voice comes back even louder, as though she was ready to command an army,
“All of the people who love and care for you are out there fighting in order to get you back. They are risking their lives in the hopes to pull you out from the clutches of the Agarthans. You need to wake up. You are meant to live. You are meant to be here. To lead Fodlan, Isabelle.”
“I can’t possibly do that.” Isabelle looks up at Edelgard.
"It's unfortunate, but you have no choice in the matter."
Felix and Dimitri continue to try fighting off the mages. Isabelle had not moved and she was no longer aimlessly throwing spears of light. Though the Aegis shield’s glow was getting steadily brighter, the crests of Blaiddyd and Fraldarius beaming from it.
It was a struggle for them, knowing that they couldn’t do anything. Isabelle had to reach outside of herself first. The fate of her life, and theirs, was ultimately up to her.
“Felix, behind you!” Felix turned, his sword coming into contact with an axe aimed at his shoulder. He sees the gremory behind the attacker too late and ends up taking the blunt of a ragnarok spell.
She is still in the void. She can see nothing around her and Edelgard is long gone. How long would the Agarthans have her sealed like this?
“Felix!” She hears her father’s shouting and stands up in shock. Her instincts suddenly become filled with worry. Dimitri sounded shocked and fearful.
Something happened to Felix. She needs to wake up. She can’t let them die.
Isabelle tries to use some spells but with only the darkness around her, what can she hit? She cannot escape from this void this way. Her physical body is asleep and trapped inside the aegis heart of the hegemon.
“Panicking will only strengthen the heart of aegis. It will only continue to shield you away if the stones detect any fear from within.”
Isabelle jumps at the sudden voice. She looks around her for the source, but the darkness renders that effort pointless. The voice was too deep to be Edelgard’s. Could those mages have placed someone else’s heart within the shield as well?
“Who is it this time?”
“I would have preferred staying at rest however it is a great privilege to get to meet you.
This time, Isabelle doesn’t feel the strange pull she had with Edelgard. Instead, a tiny blue light appears in the darkness. It grows until it forms into the shape of a person.
Isabelle can practically feel every bone in her body freeze. Edelgard had been one thing but… The man stands in front of her now renders her completely speechless and immovable.
“I get the sense that you are aware of who I am.”
Isabelle releases somewhere between scoff and huff, “How could I not, it is quite easy to see. You look exactly like my father.”
“You shouldn’t tell Felix that. I don’t think he would agree.” Rodrigue says with a small smile, “Though you may need to keep this entire exchange to yourself.”
“Are you really…” She leaves the question hanging in the air.
“My remains were taken from my grave and used in the crest experiment for the tomb. However, I cannot say how the Agarthans were able to do so. I am certainly not alive, though my spirit has been revived through magic.”
“What are these experiments supposed to achieve? Desecrating graves? How much more are they going to do?”
“Their fate is all in your hands, Isabelle. You have enough power to wipe away the rest of the Agarthans. The first act to doing so however, is to get rid of any fear or hesitation. If you pick up a sword, you must be willing to swing it. Are you up to that?”
“What must I do?”
“You will need that sword.” Rodrigue points over to where a soft yellow light glows. Where it glows, the light swiftly changes into the form of a silver sword with a teal and gold hilt. Isabelle recognizes it instantly, moving towards it. She can feel Rodrigue following her closely.
“This sword looks exactly like the one Erza gave me. Father and I thought we lost it a long time ago.”
“Think of this sword as somewhat of a relic. Created specifically for those bearing a Blaiddyd or Fraldarius crest. With that, you can gather enough magic energy and use it to force through the Aegis heart.”
“Magic energy.” She frowns as she looks at Rodrigue, “I do not know how to use magic let alone channel the energy for it.”
“You will see it’s easier for you than you think. I will also help you by giving the rest of my energy.” Rodrigue says as he reaches for the hilt of the sword and holds it out to hand to Isabelle, “Do you remember what I said before? That you have to be willing to swing.”
Isabelle furrows her brows at him, “Are you about to ask me to swing at you with this?”
“Keep in mind I am no longer alive. My spirit would just transfer into the sword. As I said previously, think of this sword as a relic. But instead of bones, it is made of spirits instead.”
Rodrigue steps back, “Remember. Don’t hesitate.”
“I hope you know. Asking the granddaughter that you only just met to swing a sword at you is just about the craziest thing to ever be done.”
“Circumstances can create causes for many things, whether we think there is sense in it or not. --We shouldn’t continue wasting time. The longer we stand, the stronger the Aegis is soon to become.”
Isabelle nods, eyeing the sword in her hand before pointing it out toward Rodrigue, “I am… glad to have met you. But I wish it were way different.”
“I have the same thought.” Rodrigue replies. Isabelle lifts the sword just as Rodrigue begins to fade back into the blue light from before. As she swings into the light, it curls around the sword for a second before disappearing. After a few seconds, the sword glows a bit and Isabelle can feel the vibration of magic.
She looks at the blade of the sword, noticing the mark of Fraldarius engraving itself onto it.
The migraine she’s felt before suddenly comes back but this time not as painful. Through blurring vision, she can see something else engraving itself onto the sword before an array of images fill her mind.
She can see the faint image of a tall man with blond hair. If not for her seeing Rodrigue standing almost as tall near him, she would have thought it was Dimitri. Given the way the man dresses and styles his hair is indication enough that it’s not her father but Dimitri’s father instead.
“They say that when someone close to you dies, a part of you dies along with them. That you no longer feel whole.” Rodrigue says.
“Oh? Is this your way of saying you’d be crushed if I died, my friend?” Lambert answers back with a laugh.
“I wouldn’t be getting too flattered, Lambert.” Rodrigue throws a glance towards him, “You’d probably haunt me with your death. There’d always be a piece of you with me somehow.”
“You always have a funny way with words, Rodrigue. But I suppose your entire family is that way.”
The memory fades and Isabelle brings herself back to the present moment. She looks back to the sword and smiles as she sees the finished engraving of the Blaiddyd crest glowing just as intensely as the Fraldarius crest,
“Thank you to you both.”
She stands and holds the sword in front of her with closed eyes. With the sword vibrating with magic, Isabelle channels her own and quietly waits, putting her instincts first.
“Isabelle!” She hears two voices shout and turns in that direction. She sees the flicker of red and gold and without any hesitation, brings down her sword.
Felix had been able to recover from the unexpected magic, however it continued to leave him slightly disoriented and sensitive to any magic energy. They continue fighting off more and more Agarthans but there would always be a group to respawn. Every time they’d get even slightly closer to Isabelle, there would suddenly be more Agarthans.
When he hears Isabelle’s hecatomb form yell out again, he sees a sudden flicker in the ground and the magic pulses in his skin intensely. A weak spot.
Closing his eyes, Felix focuses his magic on syncing with energy around him. Within a second, he finds a point in the ground. The flicker continues as Felix closes his eyes and focuses his magic on finding the target. Within seconds finds the mark and jabs his sword right into the ground, casting a thoron spell. Just as he does so, Dimitri comes behind to grab his hand, placing his own energy in and making the spell stronger.
“Pull back!” They can hear Hapi in the distance. Suddenly a blast of energy blast upward at the hecatomb form, a startling scream in the air. Felix notices the Agarthans they’d been fighting were turning into ash and disappearing. Just as the Agarthans fall, the hecatomb falls down off its feet, the thorns breaking off and separating.
Felix and Dimitri watches with harbored breaths as the hecatomb corpse disappears into thin air. When Isabelle’s body becomes clear, both of them charge forward as she falls into the grass.
Dimitri gathers her into his arms, “Isabelle!”
Isabelle grunts, barely able to open her eyes all of the way, but she looks weakly between them, “Am I... out? Is this another…”
“You’re safe now, Isabelle.” Dimitri says, “It’s over. It's all over.”
Isabelle smiles weakly and closes her eyes. “…Everything is over. We can finally be happy."
A Tranquil Ending
Queen Celia Blaiddyd-Fraldarius of Fodlan took to the throne only five years after reclaiming her title as the Princess of Fodlan. Succeeding her father, Queen Celia went on to continue the peaceful rule her father had left for the nation.
Though Emilia Molinaro is appointed by the queen herself to be her advisor and representative Duke (Duke Molinaro of Duscur), the lands of Fraldarius remain under debate as Queen Celia waits to make a final decision on who she will give the land to.
Already under Queen Celia, relations with Duscur, Brigid, Sreng, and Almyra have strengthened greatly and trade routes have been highly successful for all countries.
Most notably, Queen Celia has found and approved an ethical way for couples unable to bear children to still have a child of their own blood. With the help of approved mages, Queen Celia aided in the production for the safe production of children. These tests took four years to successfully bring into production. Using such a method in a way to harm another person is deemed criminal.
“Queen Celia! It has been quite some time since you have come to the Fraldarius estate!”
“Oh come now, I don’t mind if you call me Isabelle. No need to be formal when you are close to my fathers. They are home aren’t they?” Isabelle asked.
“Of course! Should I call on them for you?”
“No thank you. I want to surprise them.” Isabelle says before giving the woman a farewell and making her way into the home.
“Big sister!” Isabelle sees a flash of black hair fly her way.
“Is that Amber-Egitte I hear?” Isabelle grins, pretending to look around, “I don’t see her though. I wonder where she is.”
“You’re mean!” Amber pulls at her dress as Isabelle looks down at her little sister with a laugh.
“Not my fault you’re a baby.”
“I’m five! I’m not a baby.” Amber pouts. Isabelle snorts as she ruffles Amber’s hair.
Isabelle looks up when she hears a pair of feet come in their direction, “Amber, I said you had to eat before playing—Isabelle?” Felix pauses in the hallway, blinking at her in surprise, “I didn’t know you were coming.”
“I wanted to surprise you and father.” Isabelle says as she picks up Amber, “Where’s Glen?”
“Sleeping, fortunately.” Felix sighs tiredly as he looks at Amber, “This one wants to play outside every second she gets the chance.”
Isabelle snorts, “You guys were the ones who wanted twins.”
“Isabelle, it’s rare to see you here. We usually have to come visit you instead.” Isabelle turns around to Dimitri, just walking into the door.
“Surprise?” She laughs as Dimitri pulls her into a tight hug.
“You’re staying long enough for dinner, I presume.” Dimitri says, “You should have a meal with your family. Especially since your little brother and sister don’t see you often.”
“Sure. That was already my plan when I got here.”
“Good. We have missed you.”