A Union of Kings | FE3H Fanfiction

Word count: 1500 (3 to 12 minutes) | Rating: T | Fire Emblem: Three Houses Spoilers | Characters: Dimitri Alexandre Blaiddyd and Claude von Riegan (Dimiclaude)


Residing at Fódlan’s Locket for the summit with Almyra, it was easy to forget what brought the fortress into being. It was well-regarded as a bulwark, Dimitri knew, yet he could only find beauty in the surrounding landscape. Even the rocky cliffs that added to its natural defenses also contributed to its serene aesthetic. Wooden bridges provided breathtaking views and a calm sway that unnerved some, but soothed Dimitri. As sole king of a newly united nation, he had been told much about what to expect from the Almyran party sent to negotiate peace with Fódlan. Their customs, what they deemed offensive, how they dressed, all down to the tea they liked despite the dining menu not being his to oversee. His advisors and close companions would leave nothing to chance in the name of avoiding more war in their lifetime.

No one, of course, was expecting their old classmate Claude. The last they’d seen of him was in Derdriu. At the close of his particularly optimistic plan, if one could call it that, he had the typical brazen levity to call them soft-hearted suckers for coming to his aid. Then he proceeded to disband the Leicester Alliance with nearly as much aplomb. Dimitri smiled at the memory, crossing a bridge with Claude as a chance to stretch their legs during a rare break in negotiations.

“I vowed I would not let you die that day in the Aquatic Capital,” Dimitri interrupted their silence, speech being every bit as comfortable as quiet between them. Claude glanced his way, a new helix hoop piercing catching waning sunlight as he turned. “And as I recall, you chastised me for my lateness. Yet I was so relieved to find you were safe.”

“Hey, no one made you drag your feet to snatch me from the jaws of death! Hilda really let me have it for leaving her to defend the bridge,” Claude shook his head and answered in plainly false despair. Their unbreakable bond was legend in the former Alliance. He was very likely to be the only individual in all of Fódlan and beyond who could get Hilda Valentine Goneril to stand as a second to last line of defense in a risky battle.

He stopped on the bridge and Dimitri did as well, looking over the lush valley as Claude raised a hand to hold the rope at the bridge’s edge.

“When you left that day…” He sighed, stepping forward to be at Claude’s side. Perhaps it was strange, but the edge of that sentence brought more apprehension to him than the precipice so close to his feet. “I thought I might never see you again.”

Another rarity graced Dimitri as he faced Claude, watching him as he came forward. His smile warmed and reached all the way to his eyes at last. He’d been grinning, smirking, smiling, and trading out expressions in that vein all meeting long without exhaustion, and not one had been sincere until then. The light of it was more of a comfort than any cloudless afternoon he ever encountered.

“Oh, come on, Your Majesty! Like I could leave you to run Fódlan all by yourself.” Almost together, Claude and Dimitri looked out past the mossy stones and dirt paths winding through the grounds of Fódlan’s Locket. Much like the two of them, the people of Fódlan’s party and that of Almyra mingled to mixed effect. Peace took time. The others present did not share the understanding Dimitri and Claude did as former classmates. Here, on the bridge together, there were no princes or kings present. All that was missing was Claude’s braid from his youth, although there was no polite way to mention that he missed it. “And you have my loyalty. No matter what happens in our future.”

“Our future?”

Royalty often referred to themselves in the plural first person, representing their nation in the very pronoun “we”. Claude had never done so before. It struck him as unusual to begin the tradition during their time alone together. But what else could he mean?

“I’d like to unite Almyra with Fódlan.” He rested another hand on the rope, bringing that smile to bear on Dimitri once more. Claude gave no sign that he knew how impactful that expression was. But who ever could say what the Master Tactician chose to show or not? “For that, I need you.”

“You are—” This must be it for his mind. After hours of debate and negotiation and returning to debate to re-negotiate, Dimitri was obviously burnt out beyond reason. But he could not dismiss the idea that Claude was recommending a unification of a whole new kind. “You can’t be proposing…?”

“Even I can’t answer a question that doesn’t have an end.” That wink broke through his defenses as accurately as Failnaught itself. Wherever he went, there were aspects of Claude that did not change, at least. It was very hard on Dimitri that it happened to be the habits that melted his knees outright.

“Ah, no. Never mind.”

“Oh? Oh,” he pitched that second one higher in recognition. Dimitri hoped vainly that his fluster was invisible to the man beside him, an impossible wish. Claude rested a hand on his hip and gave an appraising stare in his direction. “Huh. That would be the fastest way to go about it. I didn’t think you’d be interested.”

“I apologize, Claude, I read into your meaning and I should not have. Please, you are under no obligation.”

The insistence might have been firmer if Dimitri weren’t straining to look as though he were pitiable enough to show mercy to. Truly, he did not know if he could take it should anyone but them at the negotiation table became aware of this moment. All he could hope for was that Claude would forget this talk altogether and never mention it to anyone. Why did this keep happening to Dimitri, no matter how he grew?

“I’m glad you did. How else would I know that you’re interested in marrying me?”

“Claude,” he pleaded, embarrassed already. Burying his face in his hands would not remedy that and that was the only reason he didn’t resort to it.

“There’s nothing to be shy about, Dimitri.” Strategic as always, Claude knew precisely what to say to restore his confidence in the exchange. He had wanted the titles and formality gone long ago, he supposed. But it meant more that his companion chose this exact time to do away with all the forms of address that came with the throne. “In fact, you should be proud! You’re realizing two of my dreams in one fell swoop.”

Taking his hand from the rope, Claude offered it instead to Dimitri. The hearth-like glow of the late afternoon sun caught the richer browns in his hair, lighting the depths of green eyes more precious than jade with greater life in them than entire valleys and glades.

“If that could prove true,” he began, resting his gloved hand in Claude’s own. Secretly, Dimitri hoped he may one day do so more directly. “It would be my pleasure.”

“And speaking of pleasure,” Claude started and summoned an impish smirk that Dimitri recognized only too much. His shock was at the eagerness he felt at the sight rather than nervousness over what was to come. He reached up with his other hand to cup Dimitri’s face, brushing a thumb over the cheek below his eyepatch. A twinge of regret twisted in his stomach only to be drowned out in elation. “Might I have this kiss?”

In a peaceful oasis so vast, Dimitri truly believed he would never find its limits, he discovered the strength to speak his honest feelings.

“Yes. Of course.”

A new side to Claude appeared again, fond and almost fragile in his hope, as he closed the distance between them until their lips were only just out of reach. Suddenly, all of Sylvain’s silly romance novels carried renewed meaning. Those scant centimeters were impossibly large and entranced him utterly.

“I’ll need you to lean down, Dimitri.”

As surely as he’d been struck, Dimitri jumped. How could he be so foolish? At least Sylvain would never come to hear of it. He had his ammunition with the dagger incident.

“Ah! Yes. My apol—”

Once he’d done as he agreed to, Claude pressed a tender kiss to his lips. He felt his own scars across Claude’s and closed his eyes to cling to this new terrain. Perhaps… The remainder of these negotiations would not need as much of his undivided attention. Dimitri suspected a certain Almyran king would be distracting him periodically when they reconvened—whether he meant to or not.


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You Will Live Ch. 6: Both Monsters | FE3H Fanfiction

Word count: 4200 (10 to 34 minutes) | Rating: M | Note: Fire Emblem: Three Houses Spoilers | Characters: Dimitri and Hubert

Read the previous chapter.

To be sent to bed early with a cup of tea from Ferdinand, who fussed over him the entire way, was merely the second most embarrassing event to occur to Hubert that day. The guards badly pretending not to notice how generally disheveled Hubert was inarguably took first.

After extensive reassuring, Hubert finally persuaded Ferdinand that he was fine on his own and the two people posted outside of his quarters would be more than sufficient if he did require assistance. And it was half-true. Shamir stood guard with Cyril, and they regarded Hubert with starkly differing treatment. Cyril would surely let him meet his end in any manner, he was not particular, but Shamir was more level-headed about their task.

Regardless, there was nothing troubling him that they (or anyone) could assist him with.

Sleep came in fragments, as ill-fated as any cresting wave. When he heard birds overheard as an indication of morning, he left bed with a heavy sigh and readied for the day. The scattered hours he got would have to do. Dressing in his Imperial wear felt wrong somehow, the disquiet settling in as a tightness in his throat, but the lack of a suitable alternative gave him no other choice. Once he had finished, Hubert left his quarters to see the guards had rotated sometime during his rest. Byleth nodded to him, and Alois, of course, had to speak.

“Ah, Hubert! You look positively ghastly.” He looked so fraught with concern that Hubert was nearly offended. Knowing his fear of ghosts as he did, it was possible this fear had more to do with his appearance than any other factors. Alois should want him dead just as all the other Knights of Seiros undoubtedly did. Regardless, it mattered little what a simpleton of the Church saw in him. “Shouldn’t you get more rest?”

“Oh, yes, I hadn’t thought of that. Wherever did you come up with such a brilliant idea,” he deadpanned and went down the hall toward the stairs.

“Let him go,” Byleth stated as he began down the steps and made his way to the kitchen. No doubt the Imperial staff had already been given instruction by the invading forces and they would be preoccupied with breakfast preparations. Even so, he could brew his own coffee unassisted and remain out of their way.

Upon arriving, he discovered he was not the only imposition on them this morning.

King Dimitri leaned against the counter right beside the place Hubert needed to be, naturally, his hands resting against its edge on either side of him. He watched as the Adrestian staff, renowned for their efficiency, went about their business with fresh bread and perfectly carved meats prepared at various degrees of redness to accommodate their guests. Say what you will of them, they would never disgrace the Adrestian name with a poorly prepared breakfast. Even their sworn enemies would leave the table contented.

His arrival and proximity to Dimitri turned only a few heads, and Hubert became acutely aware of the fact that how he conducted himself there would carry to the rest of the nation by nightfall.

He had best set a good example, then.

“Good morning, Your Highness.” He did not bow, as Dimitri was not his king, but he did regard him as Hubert himself would have insisted anyone address Her Majesty—with formal titles and basic respect.

Dimitri tensed, whipping his head to look at the source of the greeting, and recovered with a self-conscious chuckle. “I did not hear you approach. I apologize.”

“Few ever do,” Hubert offered, smirking. “Would you care for some coffee?” He strode past Dimitri to collect the coffee beans, recently ground by the staff in anticipation of his needs. Routine as usual.

“I believe I will take some, since you offered.”

“Bold of you,” Hubert observed, taking out two cups and weighing out the necessary grounds. “Many would not be so readily trusting of me.”

Oddly, Dimitri smiled at that. The king was not nearly as easily read as he was in his academy years, and Hubert was rather certain he didn’t appreciate that change.

“If you were going to poison me, Hubert, I doubt I would be standing here now.”

Still, he chuckled in response. “Best not let Dedue hear you say that.”

“He will worry regardless of what I say. If I will not, he must, or so he says.” Though Dimitri waved it off, that was not a criticism, but an observation… They must have remained close despite Dimitri’s only somewhat exaggerated behavior in his exile. For a time, they were both believed to be dead as well. Lesser men would have given up all hope for a reunion or emotional recovery, he would grant them that.

As Dimitri spoke, Hubert rinsed the coffee filter at the nearby faucet after a few pumps of the handle. He could muddle through the papery aftertaste if that step went overlooked, but why would he willfully do so? Continuing the process of making coffee as Dimitri looked on, Hubert formed his reply.

“He is not wrong.” And that was all he could truthfully think to say on that subject. Pointing to a tin on the counter behind Dimitri, Hubert explained its purpose. “I prefer coffee black, but the sugar is there for you to use. It’s imported from Mach, so there may be a difference in taste than what you are used to in Faerghus. I can also call for cream if you require it.”

“Thank you, but—I admit, I am curious. I had expected you to be angry with me or at least distant.”

The implied question could wait until Hubert was not actively preparing coffee.

He was wise to have acquired a self-heating kettle for the kitchens as well for all the time it saved him in moments like this one. Now there was only to wait as the proper extraction took place from the grounds into the water. As it gradually trickled through the filter, Hubert had nothing more pressing to attend to than Dimitri’s concern.

There could be no doubt the staff were eavesdropping as they attended to their duties now, even without any unnecessary delays in their work. It was apparent in their furtive glances towards the two of them and looks of unspoken concern passing between them if they caught another’s eye. He could hardly blame them. They were with Adrestian, and the people of a nation that lost a war were not often received well by the victorious forces—or vice versa. How the next few weeks unfolded would determine the rest of their lives.

Therefore, Hubert would say the truth of the matter for their benefit. If the gossiping of even the most capable staff could be relied upon, then the Adrestian people’s betterment would be seen to as well. Like it or not, they would have to accept their position in the united Fódlan ruled by His Highness, or they would lose it in exchange for a more miserable lot.

“Why would I? If Her Majesty saw fit to end her reign at your hands rather than surrender as you offered, I will stand by that decision as I have with all her choices.”

Dimitri only blinked, a wisp of blond hair falling into his face as he tilted his head in examination of Hubert.

“You are an odd one.”

“Flattering,” Hubert answered levelly, giving the grounds within the remaining water a gentle stir to ensure the correct flavor of the brew.

“It is not bad, exactly, and I am grateful,” Dimitri amended somewhat hastily, “but I cannot say I understand it in the least.”

He did not look like the feral beast that Imperial soldiers trembled to hear of all while they sought the stories out. A demon wandered the countryside, as the tale went, gruesomely slaughtering any soldiers of Adrestia whether they were fierce warriors or field cooks. That this beast of legend was one and the same as the puzzled man standing beside Hubert was difficult to believe, but no less true for its unlikelihood.

“You do not need to understand.”

He poured one cup, then another, and lifted his own to his lips. Its heat bordered on uncomfortable, but Hubert welcomed the sensation. This moment was not another splinter of a nightmare lying in wait to turn on Hubert with merciless brutality, but a regular morning in which his coffee was somewhat too hot for drinking.

“That seems fair enough,” Dimitri relented.

He left it at that and took his own cup as if it was made of thin glass, not ceramic, moving it closer to the bin of sugar. He heaped in several spoonfuls but made no request for cream. Even so, he grimaced at the first sip. Unwilling to request Hubert’s assistance, was he? The most probable motive was security reasons. King Dimitri had evidently learned something after what the Empire and Cornelia did to him and the stability of Faerghus.

“Thank you for this. I could use the energy,” he said, taking another tentative sip with an equal amount of mild disgust. “Sleep does not come easily to me, and it has not for many years.”

“Rest was never one of my preferred pastimes,” Hubert only agreed, taking in the fragrant aroma of his cup for the time being.

Dimitri’s genuine laughter came as a surprise yet again. Hubert studied him over his mug, watching for some indication of an ulterior motive in his agreeability.

“I shall have to phrase it that way next time someone lectures me about getting more sleep. I may get different results for once.”

“You won’t. Not in any meaningful way,” Hubert advised from personal experience with Her Majesty and especially Linhardt, ending that subject by savoring another drink of his own coffee.

Smooth, even, but full-bodied, this blend was leagues above the readily accessible blends that acted as an average, crowd-pleasing coffee. Even Ferdinand, who compared coffee to mud more than a drinkable substance, had once admitted to its refined flavor.

“Hubert,” Dimitri prompted with a hesitant weight to his words. There was only one topic that could follow such an ominous tone. “Have you given any thought to her funeral?”

Hubert took a weary breath, turning away from Dimitri to stare at the scarred field beyond the windows across the room. Her body could not remain in her quarters indefinitely for Hubert to postpone arranging her funeral service. Yet his mind resolutely sabotaged any to-do list he might mentally compile by summoning up the sprawling implications of any one choice Hubert could make.

“I do not want to rush you,” Dimitri prodded him once more, “but with the upcoming plans and current upheaval, your time to plan is limited.”

“She will be cremated.” That much, he could say without any hesitation. With her enduring fear of rodents and other such creatures, Hubert could never allow her to suffer the slight of being lowered into the earth for an eternity or locked away in a stone casket within a mausoleum.

“I trust you know someone loyal to Adrestia to carry out the task,” Dimitri suggested, almost relieved at what he assumed was the pleasant discovery that Dimitri did not go unheard up until this point. “I will assign Kingdom soldiers to reinforce the guard surrounding her transport.”

“Well, that is a far cry from hanging her head from the gates.”

“Ah. Yes. I—I was beside myself.” Dimitri put it lightly, staring into his coffee with a far-off gaze. Lady Edelgard described him as outright psychotic when he uncovered her identity as the Flame Emperor, felling soldiers faster than she could count their bodies. In short, he had cause to be horrified at the memory. Hubert had more of his drink as the silence continued.

“Hanneman has theorized that my Crest may affect my temper, but there can be no excuse for my conduct back then.” Placing his cup down with far too much care, Dimitri gave his undivided attention to Hubert as a chivalrous knight of Faerghus might when swearing a vow of fealty. “I assure you, I will do no such thing to the remains of someone I have held so dear. What her opinion was of me after so beastly a display, I dare not even begin to guess.”

…This was where someone more adept in social spheres would offer comfort. Not Hubert’s area of expertise by any consideration, but who could offer that information to Dimitri except for Hubert? Her Majesty determined from their meeting before the fall of Enbarr that she and Dimitri would never agree with one another’s methods, but she also thanked him. Hubert could only conclude from that decision that she would want to give him a measure of consolation after her passing.

“She did admire you.”

He sensed Dimitri’s gaze on him, as real and oppressive as a sudden spike in humidity so common at the close of Fódlan summers. If he faced that head-on, Hubert would surely drop the subject and banish it from memory if at all possible. In interest of completing his thought, Hubert looked either at the fields outside or the depths of his coffee, but never the man he spoke to.

“She rarely mentioned you or the professor after the Holy Tomb, but on the few occasions when she did, I perceived a certain… Reluctance.“ He swirled his coffee idly, bringing it up for another sip. The temperature of it now was perfect and that made the situation Hubert found himself in nearly bearable.

“I never confirmed it with her, but I suspect she wished her path could have been beside your own.” And now it was Dimitri keeping Hubert in suspense with his silence. Assuming this answer was giving him the peace of mind he desired, Hubert resolved to say as much about Her Majesty’s regard for him as he was able. She was not present to express the value of her childhood friendship with the king of Faerghus, and it fell to Hubert to do so in her stead.

It was simply another duty for the Minister of the Imperial Household to uphold.

“When she accepted your offer to meet and discuss the war, I told her it was utter madness,” he admitted. They agreed to disagree that day on the condition that he attended with her, since neither one willing to yield to the other beyond that. “In hindsight, I assume she hoped to reach a resolution where you might walk side by side.”

“Years ago, I might have argued that it could have been possible with the right mindset,” Dimitri confessed, and picked up his coffee again. “But in light of the news you shared yesterday, I must believe it was not that simple.”

Hubert would have attributed that understanding to how Her Majesty explained herself to Dimitri during their discussion rather than the news of Shambala and the Tragedy of Duscur, but that was a pointless distinction to make. Whatever Dimitri chose to hold as true that caused him to stand against Those Who Slither in the Dark with Hubert in attendance, he benefitted from it. He would not risk potentially encouraging Dimitri to question his value and support.

“It was not. That aside, your point was not without merit. The path we carved was for the strong, and the strong alone.”

A bitter revelation if Hubert had ever tasted one, and one he never discussed with Lady Edelgard out of respect. She was also correct in that this path encouraged strength in the people to stand without the false goddess and twisted corruption that victimized them all. Every second wasted in suffering its existence only led to more lives claimed in its insatiable hunger for power. The society as it had been made victims of people like Jeritza, whose sanity would never return to him, and Lysithea, whose years of childhood innocence were cut short alongside her life.

But that did not make Dimitri incorrect. There were those who prospered under faith to an imagined deity—or fealty to a beloved liege. Lady Edelgard was exceptional for her strength, and it was perhaps unfair to expect everyone in Fódlan to match that willpower.

“Did she ever tell you that she taught me to dance?” Dimitri brought up the memory abruptly, a wistful smile following the change in subject. Even another drink of his coffee could not displace it.

Hubert recovered from the brief interruption in his thoughts with a curt shake of his head.

“Pardon?”

“In Fhirdiad, she… Well, she tried. We were close friends by then, but that did not change that I had two left feet with finer arts.” He spoke with a fond lightness, his tone as gently inviting as a well-stocked library lit by the last rays of daylight. Hubert felt distinctly that this was a vulnerable moment he was not meant to witness, but it was no mistake—who else was present? For an unknown reason, Dimitri elected to reminisce with the servant to the woman he killed because she left him no other choice.

“There was little to do for it; I have always had a gift for strength over grace. But she was—” He paused, searching the ceiling for the word with a poignant laugh. “Strict, let’s say. She truly would not let me yield until I had followed her instruction exactly as presented.”

Conveniently, he was willing to speak without a reply. As it was, Hubert was inclined to simply hear about the time she spent in Fhirdiad uninterrupted. Lady Edelgard herself rarely mentioned those memories, and he knew better than to broach the subject. Hubert took her avoidance to mean those years had been difficult for her. Instead, she was dancing and finding kinship when she was far from home—a time too blissful to recall considering its juxtaposition to the darkest days of her past. He could relate, if truth be told.

More importantly, it would seem Hubert owed Dimitri a debt for bringing happiness to Her Majesty while she was held at Arundel’s whim.

“Before our friendship, I found her to be difficult and stubborn. But in a short time, that impression gave way to her true self beneath.” Dimitri returned to the present, turning that mournful smile to Hubert as the faint impression of tears gave his eye a glassy look. “Those memories were the time of my life in many ways.”

Hubert blinked, completely at a loss in this situation. Handling this cathartic revelation with poise was well out of reach for his talents.

Although, thinking on it now, Dimitri had few other options for those who might listen. Most of his closest allies resented Lady Edelgard for her ruthlessness in pursuit of what must be done. Byleth was even less proficient with emotions than Hubert. And Dimitri had never been especially close to the Black Eagle students. Mercedes, having originally been from the Empire, was the only possible candidate who would not reject his grief outright.

And so, perceiving the sorrow in Hubert, he chose him. What an unfortunate decision.

“It’s kind of pathetic that I am still thinking of it after everything that has come to pass since then. I know,” Dimitri excused himself for what he must have assumed Hubert’s lack of response meant. And although Hubert would be considerably more at ease leaving the king to his own misconceptions, he could not leave Her Majesty’s old friend alone with his anguish.

This was not his element, however. Frowning, Hubert forced himself to piece together a sentence that was at least tangentially related to the topic.

“If you would like your dagger back as a keepsake, you may collect it from her nightstand. I cleaned it of your blood last night.”

“I may take you up on that. The blade I gave her does have a lot of meaning for me.” Anticipating an explanation from him, Hubert waited and was not disappointed. “In Faerghus, we’ve long considered blades to be tools of destiny. As a way to cut a path to a better future.”

That phrasing… Hubert’s scowl shifted almost imperceptibly to sincere interest. The thrill of two seemingly disjointed facts coming together at last was not unfamiliar, but something he experienced more often in a library, magic lab, or with his intelligence network. Not in the baring of two hearts over the death of another.

When Lady Edelgard first emerged as the sole survivor from the experimentation done on her in Enbarr, sickly and weakened from confinement, her aspirations were exactly what Dimitri had just described. By extension, they became Hubert’s as well. How many times had he sworn to cut a bloody path for Lady Edelgard without even knowing the origin laid with the king they fought so viciously against?

While it was true that no one knew Her Majesty better than Hubert, this new information shed light on how she came to be the commanding emperor and beloved companion he devoted his life to. Both of their coffees went neglected in favor of the aspects of Lady Edelgard only they could share with one another.

“I saw her being dragged all over Fódlan, unable to live the life she wanted, and I thought the dagger could help her cut a path to the future she dreamed of. I suppose she did.”

There, the conversation turned. This was the danger of nostalgia—the idyllic past one could not reclaim was all too often more desirable than the present. He finished off his coffee, knowing it would only be wasted otherwise, and sighed as he placed the cup in the sink to be cleaned.

“If it gives you any peace, most of the blood painting her path is on my hands. A leader ought to be looked up to as an inspiration,” he said, recalling that he told Her Majesty that shortly after they arrived at Garreg Mach as students. How intriguing, that leaders would benefit most from being reminded of that fact. “I saw to it that she would never again be mired in bloodshed and death by taking her place in that role.”

With a dark chuckle, Hubert relaxed into his habitually menacing demeanor. “There is a reason I am reputed to be Her Majesty’s monster in the night.”

“A man who believes himself a monster… Why is that familiar?”

The hypothetical question and wounded expression were equally unexpected. Hubert was under the impression that the demonic rumors about Dimitri did not bother him, given how he encouraged them with his actions. If one did not want to be seen as a monster, why take out soldiers in such a horrific manner for so many years?

“I’m not certain I follow. What do you mean?”

Dimitri set his cup down too, turning to completely face Hubert now with sharp solemnity. “So many people I love have died to save my life, and I only had less to show for it with each sacrifice. I needed their loss to mean something.”

How he growled that emphasized word said more to Hubert than any lecture could. It spoke to a gnawing feeling in the whole of one’s very being that drove them to commit atrocities in the name of retribution… Yes, that was a matter he knew all too much about. That the Savior King and the Shadow of Enbarr would have anything in common, much less that sinister desire, was the true mystery. Hubert crossed his arms, maintaining a watchful stare to conceal any other sentiment that may seek to rise to the surface. He was apparently not quite finished being emotional, of all things.

“In order to make their deaths worth my existence,” Dimitri continued, not letting up that steadfast gaze, “I let go of my ideals. I became more monstrous with every kill.”

This was certainly in keeping with the reports Hubert received, but he could not see the point Dimitri was trying to make. The journey from man to monster was one Hubert understood perfectly without explanation. When the king’s intensity dissolved into a self-conscious laugh as he rubbed the back of his neck, it only confused Hubert further.

“What I am saying is, even if you are a monster, it doesn’t change my opinion of you. With all that we have done, you and I are both monsters, both stained.” King Dimitri was eager, almost supportive, in offering that observation. Despite his efforts, Hubert eyed him uneasily for it. What was his angle with this?

Oblivious or undaunted, Dimitri persisted. “Perhaps we might find companionship in one another with that knowledge. Even those stained red with blood must find a place to belong.”

“I… Suppose.” He had no other means of answering that, but Dimitri quietly accepted that reply as all Hubert could give. It was acknowledgement enough that he stood beside Hubert with a contented grin and a liveliness from the king he’d yet to see or hear of since the war began, though that may just have been the half-cup of coffee.

Hubert settled for an uneasy smirk in turn.

I hope you are as satisfied as I am uncomfortable, Your Majesty. If the revenge to come does not give you the peace you deserve, may this connection between your oldest friends ease your pain.


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You Will Live Ch. 4: Negotiations | FE3H Fanfiction

Word count: 4400 (11 to 36 minutes) | Rating: T | Note: Fire Emblem: Three Houses Spoilers | Characters: Ferdinand, Dorothea, Linhardt, Caspar, Hubert, Seteth, Shamir, Catherine, Alois, Dimitri, Dedue, Felix, Claude, and Hilda

Read the previous chapter.

At the professor’s summons, the various leaders of victorious forces gathered in the Imperial council room. There was minimal damage from the battle in this area of the castle, given its distance from the throne room. Conveniently so for Hubert—he was not sure he could handle seeing her body as of yet. And that was on the assumption that they left her where she fell, a comparably merciful act next to what typically happened to the corpses of fallen enemy leaders.

He didn’t linger on that thought long.

Dimitri and Dedue stood across from him, surrounded by the King’s friends on either side, and the former Black Eagles seemed to naturally gravitate to Hubert (save for Petra, who he knew from his network to be attending to business in Brigid). They stood alongside him as a barrier separating him from the more resentful people present, whether they did so intentionally or not.

The Church and Alliance allies filed into the conference hall until every chair was spoken for, although few had taken a seat. From the Church of Seiros supporters, only Rhea and Flayn were absent, with one resting and the other seeing to the archbishop’s recovery. The doors to the room were closed to keep passerby from overhearing, given the sensitivity of the subject at hand. On that, Hubert and the Church agreed: no one could discover the Agarthans or their abhorrent experiments.

It was courteous of them to remove his cuffs, a promising gesture, even if it was on the condition of a magic-disabling silence spell being cast on him. He would have done the same. Speaking to the professor, Hubert laid out the foundation of his proposal for an alliance.

“I am sure you must recall Monica and Tomas. Their allies yet live.”

And if they were in that room, Byleth’s focused glare would have turned their bones to ash. Unfortunately for them, that particular occurrence was inevitable, and the world would be better off for it. Five years did nothing to lessen the pain of her father’s death, it seemed. Perhaps retribution would alleviate both of their suffering… Doubtful, but Hubert would concede that there was a sliver of a chance.

Her continued anguish at the loss of one she held dear and found solace in like no other was not an omen in favor of that chance. The probable outcome was that the wound would never heal, only dull to an eternal ache forever in the back of their minds and forefront of their hearts (however blackened his own might be).

“They bear deep resentment against the children of the Goddess and the people of the world, and they are biding their time until they can exact revenge.”

The contents of the letter came back to him easily, which was helpful since the agent he entrusted it to would almost certainly be destroying it now. Everyone present focused on him without a shred of skepticism or even resentment, so they must all have a piece of the puzzle he completed that led to his credibility. All the better for his chances of success.

“If left to their own devices, it is certain they will eventually bring unimaginable calamity and suffering to the world.”

“How did you come to know about them?” Seteth was not the first person he expected to speak, but his stern attentiveness indicated that he was more concerned with the task before them than revenge. As he should be, in light of the fact that the Agarthans were exceptionally spiteful toward the Nabateans.

“Initially, it was because Her Majesty allied with them for their strength to stand against the Church. We shared an enemy, nothing more.” Hubert let a fraction of his contempt bleed into his tone at that as an assurance that his target had already shifted to suit current events. He was no threat to the people who won against Her Majesty, that was simply war. This new objective was righteous vengeance.

“That introduces another question. I have not forgotten that you placed Flayn in danger during her kidnapping, and I cannot forgive you for that,” Seteth warned, accompanying it with his most evaluating stare that he once used with errant students at the academy. It was a laughable thought if Seteth believed that would have any effect on him, but Hubert had more critical objectives to pursue. “Do you still wish to destroy the Church of Seiros?”

He could provide the detailed context surrounding her kidnapping, but it was simply too much work to explain with very little reward. True, Hubert and Her Majesty knew about the kidnapping, but the original plan devised by the Agarthans was markedly worse.

They were only convinced to keep her alive for her blood and hold her at the monastery due to Hubert’s strategy to test how extensively the Knights of Seiros knew the monastery grounds. Their search would reveal any gaps in their knowledge effectively, he reasoned, and they agreed to adjust their plans.

Or so it seemed. There was no way to know if they had devised the illness for Remire Village before or after Hubert hastily made his suggestion to spare Flayn from becoming a Hero’s Relic. Though she wasn’t human, neither Hubert nor Her Majesty were willing to stand idly by for her needless death and worse, desecration into a weapon turned on her own family.

“You have a right to your grudge, so I will not justify my choices to you. I find your false church to be a contemptable institution designed only to subjugate humanity,” Hubert answered honestly in part because he didn’t care if they were offended by his poor opinion of their ‘goddess’, but also as further evidence that Hubert would be truthful even with facts they did not wish to hear. Every bread crumb he left for them brought his plan closer to realization. It was not enough to send them after the Agarthans, he had to be present.

“But as it stands now, you must reform or risk losing what power you have left. Dismantling the Church of Seiros is not my purpose any longer.”

Although socializing was not Hubert’s specialty by any extent, he was especially capable of reading people and assessing their next actions. Unexpectedly, Seteth appeared to accept his testament more willingly than Catherine. Alois was as absent from the neck up as always, and Shamir’s loyalty had never been to the Church to begin with. The Alliance and Kingdom parties alike seemed to share in Shamir’s stance.

Intriguing. Even their direct allies are in doubt of the Church.

But Hubert’s work was not yet finished. Neutral acceptance would not secure his position on the battlefield against the Agarthans.

“I aim to avenge Her Majesty against those who first set her on the path that claimed her life by destroying Those Who Slither in the Dark.” To say nothing of the cure for Lysithea that had to dwell within their base of operations. Though Her Majesty could no longer benefit from it, she would still want that to go to Lysithea. Hubert turned his attention back to Byleth, who he believed would be instrumental in convincing anyone left in doubt after he said his piece.

“This is my final service to Her Majesty, and I will have no cause to return to any war once this last threat has been addressed.”

“You say that,” Shamir deadpanned, idly spinning an arrow as she tended to. They were not on especially good terms before the war, when he respected her skill but believed her to be a threat to Her Majesty. He had been right, of course, but Shamir was more interested in delivering threatening advice and talking down to him as a child. She called him fragile, unstable, and humored him more than anything. It appeared her perspective on him changed little over the years. “But revenge has a way of feeding into itself.”

“Right on target,” Claude pitched in without hesitation. “So, how do we know you won’t decide His Royal Highness is to blame next and go after him?”

That came as a surprise. Claude and Dimitri were companionable at the academy, but not particularly close. But since the Kingdom was the greatest political power at the table and therefore, the source of stability in Fódlan, Hubert had to admit it made sense to be protective over him.

“It’s simple,” he answered, his mind wandering absently to the final message he received from Her Majesty before blacking out. “That would go against her last wishes.”

“Which would be?”

Hubert lapsed into silence and scowled, loathe to disclose her private last words to this group. It felt like a defilement to her memory.

“My, what a scary expression! Touch a nerve?”

“Hardly.” How Hubert felt about it was irrelevant, ultimately. If this was what Claude asked of him to secure his support, so be it. “To keep the message simple for you, Her Majesty’s orders were to surrender in the event that she fell and I survived.”

A subtle yet palpable shift in the atmosphere suggested a change to their outlook on him. Mixed contempt and sympathy, if Hubert had to guess, but he could work with that.

“While I normally would not object to disobeying in favor of her best interests, her last command is one I must follow without question.” Wherever Her Majesty was, if there was such a thing as an afterlife and souls, he hoped she could hear this. Still in recovery, recently unshackled, Hubert delivered this speech to the victors as if Edelgard were among them to see he was still devoted to her. “There is no better interest to serve, no greater outcome to be achieved. All that remains is to destroy Those Who Slither in the Dark as she intended from the start. This is a matter of paying my respects.”

The former Blue Lions exchanged looks behind King Dimitri, who leveled an intent gaze at Hubert no less powerful for his eyepatch. Unlike others at the table, his transformation was so complete that Hubert could hardly rely on any past knowledge to theorize on his mindset. All he had was the generally tolerant reception he experienced so far that he previously attributed to His Highness.

“Oh, Hubie,” Dorothea pulled him from his thoughts, and Hubert glanced over his shoulder to see her delicate hand on his arm. “That’s sweet of you, but… Please tell me you didn’t make nice with those horrible people all this time.”

A change of subject. Deliberately done or not, he was grateful to be back on the proper topic.

“Far from it. I made no secret of my hatred for them, and they were rather fond of answering that with a portion of their abilities demonstrated in such a way as to cause me harm. An inefficient form of intimidation, as each of their displays yielded new information.”

Among the more dangerous and insightful had been when Lord Arundel sent Hubert and a battalion to fend off beasts that he claimed resulted from an experiment gone awry in the Sealed Forest. Had he any reinforcements to take along, he would have, but they were all spread thin across the front lines as it was. The mages in the employ of Lord Arundel perished in his scheme that day, which he had the nerve to feign disappointment at, and nearly all of Hubert’s battalion had gone the same way. But he had learned more about his mysterious benefactors all the same, and Hubert could make good on their sacrifice at last.

“They tried to kill you, and you remained their ally?” King Dimitri finally spoke, incredulous at the very notion he described. Given the rumors of a merciless murderer haunting the Imperial countryside close to the monastery and single-handedly slaughtering entire outposts, he supposed that made sense. He was unfamiliar with holding on to dangerous allies rather than ending their lives. There was not much room for grey in his view on the world, after all. Whatever space there was for it, Hubert seemed to reside there based on the sincerity in His Highness’ surprised expression. Few people had cause to hate him more than the new king of united Fódlan, but even so… Hm.

“We both knew our allegiance was one of convenience,” Hubert reminded him. “Once our shared opponent was defeated, we would have immediately set upon one another. They were only attempting to get a head start.”

“If I may,” Seteth interjected, “you have said you aim to defeat them, but where do we begin? I believe the likes of Monica and Tomas have plagued our people for generations, and we were never able to uncover a central base of any kind.”

Their people? Such transparency in front of all the ruling leaders of Fódlan and yet not one responded. Hubert’s intelligence network informed him that in Rhea’s absence, Seteth took charge of the Church and any Knights still true to goddess. They were not enough in number to confirm that he had evidently adopted a policy of greater honesty than his predecessor.

Hubert chuckled over his concern regardless. Of course they never managed to find anything before he came along. Even as victors, they had no plan beyond what sat directly before them.

“You can learn a great deal by sinking into the dark beside your enemy,” he explained. “Their various attempts to keep me in line with the threat of physical danger gave me ample opportunity to study their magic.”

Reaching into his cloak, Hubert retrieved a scroll and laid it out on the center of the table. Picking up the paper weights always awaiting the latest map, he placed one in each corner so most people could get a clear view. Their audiences were not typically this large before now.

“When you took Fort Merceus, I detected their sorcery.” As a reference, he indicated where the fort once stood on the map. Tracing from there, he continued, “I have deduced the location of their stronghold, Shambhala, using that as a trail.” His fingertip rested at the marked location on the map he lost several agents acquiring and transporting in secret.

The network of Those Who Slither in the Dark was vast and escaping their detection had been impossible. To their credit, his agents never went dark alone and were always found near the corpse of their killer. The allies of Lord Arundel still believed he was unaware of their base thanks to their vigilance.

“Incredible,” Seteth said, leaning to look at the spot as if he could see through time. Hubert had to wonder all that Seteth has lost to these people and for a moment, felt a distant pang of remorse. It passed soon enough. “We have searched for so long to no avail, and you managed to find the heart of their society within only five years.”

“It had to be done,” he emphasized. The fact that his investigations began well over five years ago was beside the point when the bulk of his progress occurred within that timeframe. “There is no question that they are the enemies of everyone in Fódlan. Whatever you think of me or Her Majesty, I must implore you all not to allow yourselves to forget that.”

“Hubert, you sly little devil!” Claude took the opportunity to weigh in before the others, hardly a surprise. The leader of the Alliance certainly did love to hear his own voice. “Are you suggesting we all team up with you to bring these guys down?”

“Exactly. I see you live up to your newfound title.” Oddly enough, the exchange did remind him of Claude’s fearless approach to him when they were students. They’d hardly been considered friends, but he made a fine adversary for the strategy games Hubert was so fond of and enjoyed taunting banter almost as much as Hubert himself. The memories were distant but not altogether bad.

“The Master Tactician? Such high praise,” Claude teased, but that was no acceptance of his offer. He could be noncommittal for an exceedingly long time, having refined that ability in keeping the Alliance together as long as he had.

“I am not convinced you don’t wish His Highness harm,” Dedue cut off any potential reply from Hubert or Claude at that point. The diligent silence from before was quickly eroding into a free-for-all.

“I doubt it,” Linhardt answered for Hubert, stifling a yawn. “This is all for Edelgard, and he wouldn’t risk something so important to him just to get even with anyone. Especially not for actions they only took because of the war he helped start. Right, Hubert?”

What had the world come to when Linhardt was giving him thinly veiled commands? Still, Hubert nodded.

“Not how I would have phrased it, but it’s accurate enough. This was our plan after the war ended regardless, and the war is indeed at its end.” Hubert gave them all that he had, and there was only to hear their decisions. “Am I to understand that we have an agreement?”

“You have our support,” Seteth agreed somewhat coolly. The Knights beside him raised no objections, at least not out loud. With the most challenging alliance secured, Hubert had ample reason to believe the rest would follow.

“Alright, Hubert,” Claude grinned and winked, as nonchalant as he remembered. More accurately, he was presumably pushing Hubert’s boundaries to see if he could find a spot of weakness. “I’m on board.”

Everyone had turned to Dimitri then, who only stared at the map at the center of the table. His slightly off-balance stance pointed towards the existence of a recent injury on his left side, and Hubert nearly smiled at the thought that Her Majesty fought through to the last.

“Hubert,” Dimitri said, finally making eye contact. “No matter your answer to my next question, I have every intention of seeing El’s wishes through. I want you to know that I offered her a chance at surrender, and she stood by her cause until the very end.”

A likely subconscious roll of his left shoulder confirmed that His Highness was probably injured there, the healing magic restoring it to the point where it was not serious but may still scar. More urgently, Hubert did not expect the conversation to take this turn. He presumed he was the only one who would genuinely mourn Her Majesty, not simply wish it had been different. As a result, Hubert was woefully unprepared for anyone to offer their condolences in a tasteful description of her death taking place on her terms.

He felt his taciturn frown sliding into a softer, worried look he vehemently did not want to be seen with here.

“I have ensured that her body has been properly guarded as well, so she won’t suffer anything further now that she is at peace.” This compassion was unduly cruel. Hubert clenched his jaw and did his best to present at least an air of calm indifference if he could not manage his typical harsh image. “When you are ready, we can discuss how to handle her funeral.”

No. Too soon.

Hubert felt stripped bare and beaten bloody with every word that left King Dimitri’s mouth. Her Majesty’s funeral plans. She was proud in her final moments, never accepting surrender just as Hubert knew she wouldn’t. Every beat of his heart wounded him further as he tried time and again to wrap his mind around the uncompromising truth: Edelgard was dead and he had survived. He said as much himself moments ago, but to hear it said to him reached a very different result.

The map in front of him was nothing more than the last act of a desperate servant trying to make amends to the Emperor he had failed. All her work, all her sacrifice, and this was all Hubert had to show for it. What first felt like a renewed sense of purpose in the face of devasting loss was revealed to him for what it truly was—pathetic grasping at a fleeting sensation of serving Her Majesty.

“But I must know: are these people responsible for the Tragedy of Duscur?”

Grateful again for a new distraction, and the implication that the crisis in his head was not apparent to those in the room, Hubert forced his grief down one last time. He instead latched onto that diversion to dedicate his efforts to a reply that would rally King Dimitri and his allies to his cause.

“Yes, Your Highness.”

A familiar darkness swam into view within the king’s eyes, but it was a controlled shift in his demeanor. Willful and decisive. This insidiousness was not the unbridled madness he witnessed in the Holy Tomb, but the determination of a man who sought to level the scales. Hubert could see why he and Lady Edelgard had gotten along in their youth.

“Then it’s decided,” Dimitri nodded. “We will seek out this threat together and put an end to them once and for all.”

“That’s it?” Hilda skimmed the group for anyone else still not convinced and no doubt, she saw others who agreed. “He just gives us a map and we’re all friends now?”

“I would not say—”

“Hold on, Hubert, I’ll take care of this.” Claude held up a hand like he was nothing more than a courier, and on the grounds that he was actually less than one, Hubert allowed it. “What’d you have us to do him? He didn’t commit any war crimes.”

Hilda tried to play off her indecision as lightly as she could, playfully tapping her chin like she was giving Claude’s answer some thought. He did give her a chance to form an answer before finishing up his own point. One that Hubert had to agree was well-explained and thought out.

“Look, I don’t like what he and Edelgard did any more than you do, but he’s not a criminal. We’re just as bad if we use our power as the winners to punish him for picking the losing side.”

“I agree,” His Highness stepped in to provide his support once more. He looked to his allies rather than Hubert himself, but that was to be expected. His fate was in their hands, not his own. Hubert recalled that he was once a friend of Lady Edelgard’s, of course he did, but the pervasive kindness from King Dimitri still unnerved him. “Hubert is not inherently worthy of distrust. He has shown tremendous fealty, even when the odds of success were slim. That is an increasingly uncommon trait. Is that not deserving of our respect?”

“You guys are way too quick to forgive,” Hilda admonished, but she shook her head and accepted it. “But it’s too much work to change your minds. Guess we’re all in this together now.”

“The Church will not pursue you either, even after the deed is done,” Seteth insisted, eager to solve a concern Hubert had not even bothered with. “I will see to that myself.”

Begrudging acceptance, he anticipated. Threats of execution after the fact, that was almost a given. This unwavering support and understanding were far from Hubert’s list of possible outcomes of this proposal. His head throbbed, knees buckling, and he braced himself against the table as Caspar and Ferdinand rushed to spot him.

“—bert, are you unwell?”

“A near-death experience is very tiring, Ferdinand,” Linhardt explained flatly, casting another healing spell over him to only minor effect. Small enough that it could even be considered a placebo effect on his part. “He shouldn’t even be awake now, but that’s Hubert for you. What did I tell you?” That remark was directed at him, but Hubert had enough to do without contending with a conversation on top of it. “You need to rest more.”

“Ugh,” he groaned back instead, his voice echoing painfully in his head. That would only encourage him to talk more if left as-is, so Hubert cast him a cursory glance and answered in actuality that time. “It would seem I have no other choice.”

“You can rest as we regroup. No shackles,” King Dimitri advised, his voice taking on his traditional comforting tone in its deeper qualities. The second remark was not entirely well-received by the group, but it was not a request from him either. “There is more work to do before we are ready to lay siege to Shambala besides.”

“Your room will be guarded,” Dedue warned, glaring at Hubert without any heat behind it. A logical assessment of him as a threat, was it? A wise guard for a trusting king. Hubert chuckled.

“I would consider you a fool if it wasn’t.”

“And you’d still have a higher opinion of us than we do for you,” Felix shot back, his scorn etched into his frown.

“Felix,” King Dimitri called him off, at least for the time being. Felix scoffed but yielded, stalking out of the room. That act left Hubert for Dimitri to focus on next. “If you would like to say your farewells to El in private, she is also under guard in her quarters. The guards posted there will let you in.”

He pointedly avoided referring to her as dead or a corpse while still addressing that he may wish to say goodbye. Dimitri was a bizarre man.

“Very gracious of you, Your Highness. I will take my leave.”

“And I am right behind you!” Ferdinand stepped up to get the door ahead of Hubert. His familiarity with the Enbarr castle layout led him to the exit closest to the private quarters of the Emperor and the Minister of the Imperial Household on instinct. “You are still under watch, and I believe it will be more comfortable to be guarded by someone you know.”

“You’re not the only one here that I know,” Hubert reminded him, stepping through the door regardless. He would much rather be alone on his visit to Her Majesty, but it was something of a miracle he managed to coordinate that treaty as deftly as he had. He knew better than to demand solitude on top of that. And so it was that Ferdinand accompanied Hubert on the long walk to where Her Majesty’s corpse had been temporarily laid to rest.


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