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Hope is a fickle thing.

When they were young it was cold fingers and warm palms as they held hands and clung to each other. Sylvain would whisper soft words into Felix’s ear as they shared comfort. That’s what got them through the bad years, that youthful and childlike hope. 

Sylvain’s home life and how they lost Glenn— it all paled in comparison to what they still had with each other.

He can remember it, the way that Felix’s hand felt when curled around his own. The way that Felix’s cheeks would pink when he’d smile back at him, missing teeth and eyes a little wet because he cried at just about anything. 

Sylvain’s heart would practically burst at the sight. 

He’s never loved a person more.

#

Felix went to become a squire, saw some fucked up things, and came back a different man. 

Sylvain learned to drown his desperation between the legs of women because that cold detachment was so much easier than falling into the arms of someone you actually love.

That was their hope in their middling years; that well-cultured and fervent love that the both of them wholly ignored. Sometimes hope is a bitter thing that you don’t want because it lights up your heart when you know you’re doomed.

Sylvain was a little older by then, and somewhat wiser. In their academy years, he knew better than to think that there was a bright future for him. His father wrote letters about wives and expectations, and he knew he’d answer them.

That lingering hope died into barely a flicker, but it was still there. 

Maybe it was enough.

#

Hope turned into cruel vengeance when five years passed between them without a word. 

The moment they meet gazes across the battlefield, Felix scowls. Sylvain loves it, the way that his face pulls into a tight frown and how he shoots him the finger. This is truly the man that he loves more than anything; who haunts his dreams and hands in those lonely, deathly cold nights in Gautier.

It isn’t that Sylvain thought him dead, but seeing Felix alive, alive, alive, sets his heart on fire because for the first time in his fucked-up life, he thinks that he might take the plunge. 

The first thing that Felix does is smack him. Sylvain’s cheek stings hard as Felix berates him with biting words. But then his hand curls into the soft cotton of Sylvain’s shirt and clings there, and for a long and desperate moment, it’s like they’re kids again. 

Felix stares back, angry, but Sylvain knows, he knows. It’s taken five miserable and war-torn years for them to finally realize that this is something they share. 

Sylvain wants to kiss him. 

He doesn’t. 

Felix pushes him away as he calls him an imbecile. 

Sylvain knows an I love you, when he hears it.

#

Edelgard is dead and the night sky is still pitch black. 

Sylvain stands at the edge of the camp, exhausted, but clean. A vast improvement from his blood-stained regalia the entire day before. 

Felix is quiet when he finds him. Silent as a shadow as he moves next to Sylvain, his head tipping back to watch the stars as well. 

“I’m tired.” Sylvain is the first to say something. “Goddess, I’m exhausted. Broken and busted. My bones and joints ache. I feel like I’m forty, not twenty-six.”

Felix still says nothing, but that’s his way nowadays. Gone is the crybaby that Sylvain grew up with, replaced with a man made of hardened steel instead. Too bad it’s all a facade. Felix feels more than anyone else around them, he’s just better at hiding it. 

“You know what the worst part is?” continues Sylvain, a bitter chuckle creeping into his throat. “Where do we go from here? Back to Gautier for me, I suppose. Time to marry and pop out a few kids. Fulfill my divine duty, or whatever dumb bullshit my father is still throwing around out there.”

Neither of them wants that. 

“We deserve a rest,” says Felix finally. It isn’t what Sylvain expects to hear, but it’s a nice thought. Quiet relaxation, and some time to themselves. 

Sylvain wonders what his nights will be like without Felix warming his bedroll or milling about in his tent. He’s come to love it, the strange domesticity even if it’s never been truly discussed. 

Those words, those three little hopeful words are known and felt, but have never been said. 

Sylvain turns to Felix and reaches out impulsively. But then his fingers stop dead because he doesn’t know how Felix will react. Within their tent, it’s only the two of them, and the fabric hoisted around shields them from the rest of the world. 

But out here, under the great and wide sky, they’re so exposed. Everyone is watching, even the stars. 

That deep-seated hope doesn’t just flicker in Sylvain’s heart, it burns bright and deep. He thinks of every heated touch and desperate kiss; every sinful word and sound that’s ever left Felix’s mouth. 

It was never the feel of it, it’s always been more than that. 

Felix doesn’t fuck around with anyone, least of all Sylvain. But there’s still a divide between them and someone has to take the leap. 

One of faith. How ironic as Sylvain’s the least religious man alive. 

“Come with me.” The request is impulsive. Felix’s eyes widen slightly in surprise and Sylvian flounders. “Felix, I’m begging you, stay with me. Don’t leave, don’t—”

Felix reaches out and grasps his hand. He links their fingers together and that hope flares to life. “You imbecile,” he says softly, with affection. And then nothing else. 

Sylvain’s heart feels like it’s in his throat as he tugs him closer. And Felix lets him, pressing his forehead against his chest. Sylvain combs his fingers through Felix’s grimy hair, but it’s perfect, the moment is perfect.

He watches the sky again, littered with twinkling lights. One shoots across the sky before falling right to the earth. 

What timing. 

Sylvain pulls back and takes Felix’s face into his hands. “I always had hope, you know,” he says, “You were that hope.”

Felix looks at him with an expression he’s never seen— one full of soft longing. 

And when Sylvian kisses him this time, right out in the open, Felix pulls him closer to eagerly respond.