Lives Lost for Futures Found | FE3H Fanfiction

Word count: 2000 (4 to 16 minutes) | Rating: T | Fire Emblem: Three Houses Spoilers| Characters: Ferdinand von Aegir and Hubert von Vestra (Ferdibert)

His partner was many things, some that contradicted and most that inspired. Among his unwavering traits was Ferdinand’s expressiveness. It wasn’t limited to his face by any stretch. There was a way that he rolled his shoulders when he was stressed that Hubert could identify without even looking, not least of all for the light sigh that typically accompanied it. The tired smile distinguished itself from the barely restrained variety, and so on. Ferdinand contained multitudes, and Hubert cataloged them dutifully.

Which was precisely why he woke on instinct—something wasn’t right with Ferdinand. As consciousness came to him completely, Hubert realized his partner’s breath came in sharp inhales and shaky exhales.

“Ferdinand,” he called softly as he sat up, not wanting to add to the alarm of a bad dream. It wasn’t near dawn yet, based on the dim moonlight in their quarters. That was enough light to see his jaw was clenched and a thin sweat clung to his skin. As confirmation of his suspicions, he could hear Ferdinand rustling under the sheets as he struggled in his sleep. Hubert rested a hand on his chest, discovering that the linen nightshirt he favored was damp with sweat. “Wake up, Ferdinand. You’re safe.”

The shift of pressure as Hubert moved closer awakened Ferdinand with a start, tensing and searching in the dark until he saw Hubert beside him. Fear dissolved to sadness and a raw vulnerability that took roost in his own heart. Before their relationship developed over five long years, nearly six, Hubert had been told routinely by Dorothea that, in a truly loving couple, one feels their partner’s suffering as their own. He pointed out then that he hardly needed to feel romantic affection to experience empathy, thinking to dismantle her argument only to find himself teased for his ‘incessant mother henning’ being a unique Hubert special. He knew it was flattery then but let her have the final word. As a generosity.

Yet he couldn’t argue that it weighed on him to see Ferdinand so affected by whatever his nightmares held. Where countless battles and challenges failed, the simple act of sleeping was posing a threat. One Hubert could not fight. Having expressly sworn to protect him only amplified the regret of his inability to make good on that. Resting his hand over Hubert’s blackened fingertips, Ferdinand propped himself up on an elbow and drew sleep-mussed curls behind him.

“Hu… Hubert?”

“I’m here,” he answered only to be immediately embraced, Ferdinand’s arms and solid build pulling them both down to the pillows again. Hubert barely had time to register the change before he noticed Ferdinand was—shaking. His breath hitched and another shiver ran across his shoulders, signaling that he was in tears before the first drops absorbed into Hubert’s sleeve. He repositioned to get his arm out from between them and around Ferdinand, settling in with his hand behind his head. “You’re alright.”

“I keep—” He started, cut off by a broken sob only to try again. Sometimes, very selectively, that persistence of his was more of a hindrance than a help. “Going back, I—”

Of course, the same interruption took the sentence from him once more. Force of will only got one so far. Even for the Empire’s Two Jewels. Hubert ran his hand over his hair to encourage him to relax.

“You can tell me in a moment. Let yourself grieve.” He knew the hypocrisy of it. But Ferdinand had been waking up in tears more often in the moons that followed the destruction of Shambhala. As Hubert’s own workload lessened relatively, Ferdinand’s increased. Nobles scrambled to retain some semblance of power in Her Majesty’s united Fódlan. Claude corresponded with Lorenz over the border of Almyra, and he often received updates on a potential treaty on that front. Petra returned to Brigid as its leader and acted as a representative between her home nation and the new Fódlan, with Ferdinand as her contact.

The time had come for all the dreams he had envisioned, complete with a public education system to ensure all children received the necessary tools to succeed. The finest among them would be provided additional education appropriate to their capabilities as a replacement of what the noble class should have been. First, buildings needed to be established for them across Fódlan, and professors needed to be gathered, interviewed, and selected. That process had to be overseen closely to ensure the institution remained securely in place for future generations. Furthermore, their design must resist corruption so these academies were not simply overrun by similar oppressors as the Church or abuses comparable to those of the former nobility.

He was proud to do it, naturally. Ferdinand von Aegir was destined for greatness, and this was his time to substantiate that claim with action. But the strain was taking its toll.

Ferdinand, with a deep breath, wound down from restrained sobs to idle tears.

“There,” Hubert reassured him, pressing a kiss to his temple. “Would you like some water?” The pitcher waited on the nightstand with a washcloth and tankard at its side. As the nightmares increased in frequency, Hubert took care to bring them in for easy access in the night. Cool water was refreshing after sweating through a horrific dream, and that was one comfort. But drinking water steadied breath intuitively. The human body wouldn’t simply let itself drown, so the introduction of water would force calmer breathing no matter what frenzy the mind had stirred up. A genuine feeling of at least physical peace often followed.

“In a moment,” Ferdinand said, curling closer to Hubert still.

He permitted the silence to speak for him. Words were unnecessary at this point in their relationship. Ferdinand understood, slipping his foot between Hubert’s and draping an arm over him in a loose hug. Being shorter allowed Ferdinand to nestle into him as though he belonged there. Their shared opinion was that he did, clearly. Even so, his comparable strength to Hubert was obvious. He still had his horseback ride at dawn routinely, and it showed in his thighs. Hubert’s longer, lean limbs could not resemble a mage’s more by their direct comparison to his partner’s cavalryman build. They had slept much like this on the evening after Shambhala fell and the Black Eagle Strike Force emerged alive. That recollection of the first in many nights to come only brought a slow smile to Hubert.

It would be the Great Tree Moon soon, and the frogs by the pond beyond their walls signaled the approach of warm weather. Between that and the comfort of their proximity, Hubert felt Ferdinand’s breathing level off further. Almost to where he thought he might fall asleep again.

“I still hear them,” Ferdinand revealed his waking state. “The people in battle.” He brushed his fingers through the hairs at the nape of Hubert’s neck, looking distantly at the ceiling as he continued. “I always discover I am on the Tailtean Plains, where Dimitri fell.”

Ah. That would do it. In their monastery days, before Ferdinand knew what was to come, he had grown rather close with Dimitri. Hubert hadn’t thought anything of it before, but he honestly should have. Ferdinand’s natural disposition was to befriend others where possible, and he didn’t have the necessary knowledge not to seek companionship with those he might meet on a battlefield later. While Hubert had the fortune to see all of the Black Eagles stand with Her Majesty, Ferdinand had friends on all sides of the war. Lorenz was the only friend of his that Hubert gave consideration to, and his territory’s proximity to their borders had guaranteed his fealty to the Empire.

“Had he lived, do you think he could be happy?”

Reports showed that Dimitri had died in Dedue’s arms, as close to happiness as the late King of Faerghus was going to be—and had been in many years. In hindsight, it was only logical that Ferdinand took an interest in him. He carried himself in the refined fashion Ferdinand aspired in his youth, and he had a troubled nature that the Imperial Prime Minister obviously found alluring. Hubert had not been so well acquainted with Dimitri. He had intelligence on the Kingdom’s heir, but that was scarcely interchangeable with personal familiarity.

“I didn’t know him well,” Hubert admitted, well beyond trying to seem all-knowing in Ferdinand’s eyes. “But I do know his opposition to Lady Edelgard was manipulated.”

Coordinated by Those Who Slither in the Dark with the hopes of mutual destruction for two veritable opponents, Dimitri’s hatred of Edelgard was not a willful one on account of the misinformation behind it. That left only one conclusion. Hubert would have preferred to make eye contact when delivering his answer, but he compromised on staying as they were. “If he would have believed that Her Majesty was not involved in the Tragedy of Duscur, I believe he could have found a place for himself here.”

An unsteady inhale indicated that the revelation was hard on Ferdinand, bringing him back to tears rather than away from them. Hubert kissed his forehead lightly as he felt Ferdinand hold tighter onto his nightshirt.

“Is it wrong to mourn him? To miss him so horribly when he stood firmly against us to the very end?”

 “Not at all.” His response came without hesitation, not least of all because the thick sorrow in Ferdinand’s voice was difficult to bear. To be trusted with emotions outside of his usual optimism was an honor Hubert was proud of. Still, he felt compelled to lessen his pain wherever possible. “He was dear to Lady Edelgard as well. In no small way, he set her on the path she walked to unite Fódlan. That it ultimately claimed his life…” Ferdinand sniffled against Hubert, collecting himself amid reassurances that his grief was far from a character flaw. “Remorse for his loss is only natural. Perhaps you would like to memorialize him?”

“Hm?” His grip loosened, and Ferdinand drew back to get a better look at Hubert in the relative darkness of their bedroom. He could see his partner was red-eyed from crying, which led him to reach for his face to wipe away stray tears. Yet Hubert also recognized the curiosity brightening in his eyes through the despair.

“A memorial to King Dimitri of Faerghus might provide some closure to you and others who mourn him.” As he spoke to him, Ferdinand put his own hand over Hubert’s and leaned into his touch. He was very tactile and with that, Hubert found he wasn’t so different himself. Not with the people he cared most about. He ran his thumb over Ferdinand’s cheek and smiled at the quiet hum of contentment that earned him. “I should think Her Majesty would be rather receptive, in light of their bond as children.”

“It is a beautiful thought.” Ferdinand admitted, clearly with more on his mind than he was saying. His hand gradually slid down Hubert’s arm as those heavy thoughts weighed on his brow. “But with all my work, I—”

“Let me handle negotiations with Claude and Petra going forward. Your well-being has value, Ferdinand.”

Ferdinand chuckled, amused more than anything else, although a twinge of sadness still endured below that warmth. “That should be my remark to you.”

“It has been, which is why I can tell you it now.” Hubert used his free hand to sit up alongside Ferdinand, moving to hold his hand in the process. It didn’t feel nearly as confidence-inducing to recount his reasons for the exchange of duties while he lounged in bed. “The removal of ruined Agarthan bases and magical sites is proceeding smoothly. I receive notices on their progress, and that is the extent of my involvement.” Cupping his face once more, Hubert held his attention with the goal of swaying his usually stalwart resolve. “Please leave this to me. Confer with Her Majesty and give your grief the attention it requires.”

Or he feared it would hound his nightmares forever. That, Hubert was familiar with, and he would not wish it on as vibrant and loving a man as the one he’d chosen to spend his life with.

“Thank you, my beloved,” Ferdinand whispered, perhaps tearing up again as he squeezed his hand fondly. They were happy tears this time, he trusted. Hubert moved closer to sit with Ferdinand resting against him and their hands clasped between.


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Intention to Court: Ferdibert FE3H Fanfiction

Word count: 3300 (7 to 25 minutes) | Rating: T | Fire Emblem: Three Houses Spoilers | Characters: Ferdinand, Hubert, Bernadetta, and Petra | Inspired by this art

The monastery staff set the scene for the night of the ball with exacting precision. Full bowls of roses sat in the center of each immaculate table lining the edges of the great hall. Flutes of sparkling juice were readily available as well, though champagne was promised for later in the evening in limited amounts. The stone floor gleamed as if it were marble, and once the orchestra began, students took to the floor in smitten droves. Hand in hand with wide-eyed admiration, the couples of Garreg Mach began their evening of ideal romance.

Some average student, a fourth son to a minor noble house, had taken Lady Edelgard’s hand for a dance. The other Black Eagle students had varying degrees of dread or excitement for this event, and they made no mystery of either. For example, Bernadetta was adamant about spending the evening outside the hall and refused to even approach the door.

Periodically, Hubert would check on her and deliver a fresh glass of juice to replace one she had emptied if Petra had not already done so. Disinterested as she was in the tamer dances of Fódlan, she chose to keep Bernadetta company. Meanwhile, Dorothea had an extensive list of prospective partners and Linhardt could only be bothered to dance with a select few people, Caspar being the most energetic among them.

Despite having talked to nearly everyone in the room at least once, Ferdinand remained conspicuously absent from the dancefloor itself. Hubert took his eyes off Edelgard for a moment to see if he couldn’t locate the future Prime Minister and see how he fared in securing a dance. He felt a sinister twinge of jealousy at the thought of another indulging in a dance with the vibrant, admittedly handsome Ferdinand—but that was not his place as a von Vestra.

Hubert’s purpose was to stand watch over Edelgard, as devoted and loyal as ever. She did encourage him to dance if he felt so inclined but said she would not force him. And he was grateful for her leniency in both regards. Dances were not meant for men like him. If he did grant himself a dance, there could be no doubt that many students and some staff would be so caught by surprise that they would gawk from the sheer incredulity. Hubert doubted he could stomach having that much social attention even partially on him for an entire song.

Certainly not for a dance with someone Hubert had made such a production about loathing when the truth was that he found the son of House Aegir worming his way into his fonder thoughts over time.

From how Ferdinand continuously sought him out for one debate or another and seemed to encourage the professor to partner them up for their weekly duties, he either suspected as much or subconsciously endeavored to annoy him to death with it. Perhaps both.

Beyond a cluster of conversing students Hubert didn’t recognize, Ferdinand caught his eye and waved immediately. Hubert could not stop the faint smile before it was already present and resigned himself to it, nodding in greeting. That would be enough, he reasoned, and Ferdinand would flit about his social evening of romance.

That did not occur.

Ferdinand held his gaze and made purposeful strides to where Hubert had positioned himself for the perfect vantage point to see as much of the ballroom as possible. That was the case until every scrap of his focus was centered on amber eyes and an infuriatingly confident smile of one Ferdinand von Aegir.

There was no earthly reason he could fathom for Ferdinand to seek out Hubert now, of all times. They had no obligation to fulfill, no argument to engage in, and he had his choice of partners for dance and conversation. Having recently won the White Heron Cup, Ferdinand was the center of attention and several amorous designs of the student body at Garreg Mach.

What could he possibly want from Hubert on such a night?

He came to a stop at a slightly-less-than-respectful distance from Hubert, decidedly in far too familiar territory for his noble standards. Hubert found himself frozen and unsure what that could mean. The champagne had not come out already, had it? As the newest dancer of Garreg Mach, he may have been able to sneak a glass early and that compromised his judgment. But this was pure speculation and only delaying Hubert in reaching a logical conclusion for his closeness.

“Hubert von Vestra.” He bowed politely, hand seeking out Hubert’s in what had to be a prank or an alcohol-fueled moment of fancy. Given his disbelief, Hubert permitted his hand to be lifted to Ferdinand’s lips and felt their pressure on the back of his hand through his gloves. Their warmth persisted after Ferdinand straightened and held Hubert to the spot with a glowing smile.

Hubert’s other hand covered his own mouth in a meager attempt to conceal the contorted expression there. Shock. A touch of dread for where this development may lead. Worse: hope. A feeling Hubert was certain was far, far behind him. It was a fruitless effort, however. Hubert felt the blush spread across his face like an unchecked flame, reaching even his ears due to his accursedly pale skin. Normally, that ghastly pallor furthered his intimidating image, but now…

“I am announcing my intention to court you.” He declared it with conviction in the face of Hubert’s uncertainty, ostensibly immune to the hundreds of eyes on them that felt like brambles against his own skin. “It would be an honor if you would say yes to a dance with me.”

Damn Ferdinand for making such a public proclamation. The undivided attention of those within sight rendered Hubert powerless to form any response beyond standing there, as inarticulate and vacant as the training dummies of the monastery. The time it took to collect himself dragged on mercilessly.

“Is this some sort of joke?”

“Not at all! A noble is true to his word. Don’t tell me someone else has already captured your attention?” A worried edge to his voice carried over into an uneasy tension in shoulders as his eyes and smile alike dimmed. Ferdinand was not as resistant to doubt as he projected, but to see it all that openly suggested there was sincerity to his announcement.

A more terrifying prospect than Hubert had encountered in years.

He was sorely tempted to look at Edelgard for guidance. This was a matter they had already discussed when Hubert first realized his feelings for Ferdinand may be beyond simple tolerance or respect. She might have insight here that went beyond the sentimental but unhelpful ‘follow your heart’ she originally gave Hubert.

When he did inevitably look up to seek out Lady Edelgard, he saw only an ocean of eyes to the tune of stifled laughter. Half-hidden faces, piercing gazes over ornate fans. Hubert tried to swallow and found his mouth dry. His mind unhelpfully provided a mantra from his father that he heard more often in his youth than any lullaby or childhood limerick: von Vestras are meant to remain unseen in shadow to protect the Emperor wherever their path may take them.

And no matter how he rehearsed and trained and studied, Hubert never outgrew the paralytic dread of the public eye focusing its intensity on him and him alone.

Rumors could fly and he would hardly spare it a thought. If needed, Hubert could give an impromptu speech to a crowded room. He could command battalions of any size or relay orders to hidden agents with secret codes and signals. But catching the notice of a swarm of gossiping teenagers wiped Hubert’s mind of all but one impulse—to make a tactical retreat.

“I… Please excuse me.”

Abruptly departing, Hubert took his hand from Ferdinand’s and followed his tunnel vision to the nearest exit. Through the chatter of the crowd, he heard Ferdinand calling his name behind him, but Hubert pressed on and opened the door out with an open palm. He doubted he could stop if he wanted to—and he did not. He was drawn to the outdoors like a drowning man sought the shore and similarly took a deep breath of the chilled air once he located Bernadetta and Petra. Suddenly feeling imbalanced, Hubert took a seat beside Bernadetta in what he imagined was a fairly comedic example of their height difference.

“Hubert? Are you not feeling well?” Petra leaned forward, a glimpse of her braid falling into his view. Due to her perceptive nature and relatively short time in Adrestia before arriving at the Garreg Mach monastery, Petra was well aware that Hubert did not find touch comforting and restricted her concern to her tone. Mercifully.

“There are a lot of people in there.” Bernadetta spoke from personal experience, so she naturally maintained the distance between the two of them. “Maybe you should take a break?”

“Perhaps.” He was reluctant to admit to such a trivial weakness, but it was preferable to do so in the present company than in a dance hall containing the whole of the student body.

For a while, that is how the three of them remained. A new song started up from within the hall, muffled but audible from their spot just beyond the peaked windows. Bernadetta sometimes hummed a tune before catching herself and cutting it short. They could not see the Blue Sea Star at present, but the others dotted the sky among the thin clouds of their breath. There was a chill, but nothing uncomfortable enough to merit going back to the hall.

Lady Edelgard told him to do as he pleased tonight, and it pleased him to be away from the raucous festivities at present. Soon, Hubert would grow impatient and feel compelled to watch over Lady Edelgard for the rest of the ball. But not yet.

“Hubert,” Ferdinand appeared, voice coiled tight with worry. When Hubert did not respond, he slowed his approach to wait for some indication to come closer. “Dorothea said you may be on this side of the building.”

“Good evening, Ferdinand,” Petra greeted, not letting the atmosphere interfere with her manners.

Bernadetta was not so focused on social propriety and apparently feeling brave at the opportunity to come to Hubert’s aid. “I, um, I don’t think now is a good time for Hubert?”

“If I remain at this distance, can I at least explain?”

“Oh. Um.” He felt Bernadetta turn to him like a shift in barometric pressure. This was at the upper limit of attention Hubert could handle at the moment, in the relative dark of the open garden area between the dance hall and the house’s common rooms. “Hubert?”

“On the condition provided, you may.” One of his hands rubbed the back of the other, the ghost of that kiss felt again with the presence of Ferdinand.

Ferdinand sat where he was with no regard for his likely tailor-made outfit specifically for the White Heron Cup dance. Just like him to make a grand gesture of prioritizing Hubert over any expense simply by taking a seat.

“While I admire your unseen devotion, I can be somewhat out of touch with it at times.” The admittance of shortcoming came to him with as much ease as a jovial smile or declaring his name for all enemies to hear. How pride and humility could co-exist in one man was an enticing, exasperating puzzle. “In my excitement to announce my intent to court you, I am embarrassed to say this was one such occasion.”

Hubert could sense Petra and Bernadetta’s withheld desire to ask for more details. Thankfully, they kept their silence. He would have to properly thank them later. In a few weeks’ time, he may even manage to acquire gifts they would enjoy. Ferdinand continued on where they held their tongues, more than content to speak enough for everyone present.

“In light of that mistake, I would like to ask you once more if you will consider my offer now that we are in your element. No dance required; you have my word,” he vowed.


“Yes, Hubert?” His tone brightened that instant, evidently pleased at the progress of having gotten any response at all.

“This courtship.” The word felt foreign to him in this context, as a term in application to himself that he never fathomed choosing. If anything, he expected a political marriage in his future on behalf of Lady Edelgard if she needed his eligibility as leverage. “I trust you understand fully now that I am not one to be in the limelight.”

“If you are asking for moderation, please put your mind at ease. I will be moderate.”

“Moderate.” He followed the repetition with disbelieving scoff, happening to turn and face Ferdinand at last. Of course, he’d been watching Hubert in wait for that very moment. A thrill ran through Hubert at the delicate anticipation in that widened smile on his face. Because of Hubert. For him, even. He pushed that feeling down and held his own expression steady. “By your definition or mine?”

“Ours, of course. My courtship is to show you what you can expect from me as a romantic partner.” Ferdinand was too satisfied with that presentation, practically shining in the dark winter night as if the sun had never set. A hand to his chest, Ferdinand squared his shoulders and gave Hubert a new promise. “I will give you nothing short of the full Ferdinand von Aegir experience at a pace that respects your preferences!”

“I suppose—” Through the window nearest him, Hubert glimpsed Edelgard at the dance. She appeared to be taking a break from dancing and standing beside Byleth and beaming, not the least bit worried. Both were a rarity in the years since her return from Fhirdiad.

There was no chance she did not see that debacle between him and Ferdinand, and if she held such care-free confidence in his capability to address this matter, Hubert had to believe she was correct.

“I suppose I can live with that.” Giving his attention back to Ferdinand, Hubert forged ahead with newfound resolve. “If you are certain you can handle the life I’ve chosen to lead, that is.”

“You mean with Edelgard, I assume?” The loving, nearly reverent gaze he was met with came entirely by surprise. Searching his memory as he tried and failed to steady the fluttering in his chest, Hubert could not recall a time when he had felt so positively embraced with merely a look. “I would not have you any other way, Hubert. Your sworn service to her is all part of your charm: your unwavering fealty.”

So Ferdinand did understand. Through all the arguing and endless prodding, he managed to see Hubert for what he aimed to be. Perhaps even more than Hubert himself envisioned. He considered his duty to be everything for Her Majesty, but… There just may be room for one more. Hubert was transfixed by the fondness in Ferdinand’s eyes, a welcoming ray of sunlight warm enough to burn but soothing enough to lose himself in.

“Hubert, I know that you would follow her into the embrace of death itself and face any danger in her name. To see such dedication given so freely with nothing requested in exchange, well,” Ferdinand trailed off and tore his gaze away first, a loss and an act of mercy, since it gave Hubert a glance at the blush dusting across his cheeks.

So expressive, Ferdinand. You would never last in the shadows. There is nothing for it, then… I will have to protect you also.

“It makes me want to devote myself to you in return, Hubert.” Words may have temporarily failed him, but at least Ferdinand managed to face Hubert once again. “Someone must, and I intend to claim the honor before anyone else sees what a fine husband you will be.”

“F-Ferdinand,” Hubert fumbled, cursing his own flustered stutter.

Bernadetta saved him making a greater fool of himself by squeaking in delight, turning to exchange elated whispers with Petra. Most likely on the romantic aspects of this exchange for her anonymously published stories… At least Dorothea did not bear witness to this, or he would truly never hear the end of it.

“Hubert! I don’t believe I have ever heard you stumble over your words before. It is quite endearing.”

“Receiving unabashed flattery is unusual for me,” Hubert half-heartedly explained, his gaze wandering to the celebration again. The dance would end soon, and he was sure everyone in the hall was talking about them to some extent. Half the students in attendance had to have seen their exchange firsthand, spreading the news to the remainder in record time. After all, everyone knew the two of them better for their harsh disputes rather than—this.

“I shall see to that as well, then.” Still so proud of himself, Ferdinand grinned as the song from inside ended. Another would be shortly behind. It may be the last one of the night to preface the mass exodus to the Goddess Tower for the lovers’ legend.

Alerted by the motion, Hubert turned to see Ferdinand offering his hand across a divide greater than either of them could reach without moving.

“I did say a dance was not required, but if you would please you, Hubert, I would be delighted to share one with you here in these gardens.”

He could decline if he wanted. Ferdinand would be content to recite him poetry or tell him the meaning behind every frosted flower in the gardens or whatever distant courtship entailed for a von Aegir. But he had been obstinate enough tonight, and—truthfully, it could be pleasant to dance just once as if he was any other student. As if there was nothing more to concern himself with than courtship and ridiculous flights of fancy.

Hubert chuckled, standing and taking his offered hand. “I suspect we have already become the talk of the evening for the dance we didn’t have. We may as well actually take part in it.”

Hubert was a decent dancer. Just another skill for the Emperor’s vassal and shadow, primarily to be certain he could maintain a vigilant watch and fight directly from a dance if needed. Given the volatility of Adrestian nobility, preparedness for such an event could only help Hubert.

Those dark musings meant nothing to Ferdinand, brimming with delight as he pulled himself to his feet from Hubert’s hand and leading them to the makeshift dancefloor that was the expanse of grass framed in moonlight-washed winter blooms of the monastery.

Hubert knew the steps as familiarly as the hidden dagger on his belt and the sigils burned into the insides of his gloves. But the routine was transformed by sharing it with someone he—loved was the word, he supposed. Their communication transcended words or glances as the weight of a hand on Hubert’s back gently guided them away from unseen obstacles. He followed that direction simply on the good faith that Ferdinand would watch out for him.

Hubert was nearly always in a place of guidance to others. Caspar needed him to advise him to be cautious on the battlefield, Bernadetta required someone to remind her of potential risks in her actions, Linhardt needed regular lecturing, and the list continued on. Relinquishing that role over to another, even in the course of one dance, was dissonant—but freeing. Trust did not come easily to Hubert, but he could deny it no longer.

He trusted Ferdinand. After what would likely be an unusually confrontational, somewhat moderate courtship ordeal, it was possible Hubert may even admit that he loved him.

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You are in Love: Fire Emblem 3H Fanfiction (Ferdibert)

Word count: 4800 (8 to 30 minutes) | Rating: K+ | Note: Spoilers, Ferdibert, and mentions of Edelgard x Dorothea | Characters: Hubert von Vestra, Edelgard von Hresvelg, Ferdinand von Aegir, and mentions of Dorothea

Part 1: Her Blessing

Never before had Hubert lingered at Edelgard’s door, uncertain and adjusting his gloves needlessly. He stared at her door before he forced himself to knock rather than wasting another moment.

Purposeful steps approached from beyond the door, and she opened it just a bit before her expression softened. Opening the door the rest of the way, Edelgard stood aside in her nightgown that was, of course, still effective for combat. “Ah, Hubert.”

“You must be more cautious, Your Majesty.” He stepped inside at her gesture of invitation all the same, turning over his shoulder to continue. “If all an assassin has to do is knock—”

“The war is over now, Hubert,” she chastised playfully, her smile at him coming readily. They were the only family each other had for years now and their bond had been forged in that timeless fondness, empathy, and understanding. So, of course, it was only natural that she noticed he was not quite himself. “…But something is troubling you. If there is anything I can do to help, you have only to name it, my friend.”

She closed the door behind her, following him further into the room. Hubert was satisfied to hear that she had locked the door as well. Peace time or not, precaution was the difference between life and death in many cases.

“You are too kind,” he praised her both genuinely and partly to postpone what he came here to do. Hubert had planned it out in his mind, readied himself for the simple question he had to pose before he moved ahead with the next steps of his plan. His ridiculous, absurd plan. In a way, it may even be a mercy if Edelgard refused him so Hubert could avoid the embarrassment of rejection. Or worse, and admittedly more likely, acceptance.

Sensing his discomfort again, she took a seat in a well-loved reading chair and gestured to the one opposite her that had a tea table between them. A familiar and fond place where he often passed the time with her over one of various strategy games. Edelgard was one of his few true rivals for strategic thinking, so he took delight in their games whether he won or learned a new tactic.

But that was not why he was here.

Hubert had already lingered too long after her invitation to sit, and he felt especially out of place as he lowered himself into the reading chair across from her and the table.

In silence. He set his palms on his knees, staring at the ornate weavings of the rug before him. Hubert leaned back against the chair but still felt the tension knotted between his shoulder blades. This was ridiculous and he knew it, and yet…

“You can trust me with anything.” Edelgard sat forward, her eyes searching his for the faith she knew he had in her.

“I’ve never had any doubt,” he answered, as sure as the sun would set. Perhaps inspired by such a comfortable state of being, Hubert found himself somewhat calmer. He took advantage of that and began to speak before he could question himself further. “There is something I need to ask you.”

Edelgard only nodded to encourage him without giving him an out in her reply. She knew him too well to provide such an opportunity.

“There is… someone I would like to…” He trailed off into a scowl, his grip tightening on his own knees. Something about the pressure was grounding and forced Hubert out of his own way. Edelgard was one he trusted with his life, including matters of the heart—however laughable that very phrase felt to him as her wicked shadow. If he could not even ask the question, he did not deserve the role or the object of his affections.

“Has someone upset you, Hubert?” Her voice was tender, but there was an edge to it as well, a darkness below the gentleness that instilled pride in Hubert. Just when he thought he could not possibly have any more respect for his Emperor, there was always more to found.

“No,” he chuckled. “I would handle that myself with pride, Your Majesty. In this matter… I must consult you before I act.”

Her eyebrows raised as her eyes widened and she took in a sharp breath. Surprised, was she? Well. At least she was not alone in that sentiment, he thought with a wry smile. “How unlike you, Hubert. What could it possibly take for you to hesitate? I’ve no suitors, I trust.”

“None. Your relationship with Dorothea is well-known at this point, and it would take a fool to challenge it.”

That was diversion enough. Edelgard smiled fondly, her hand going absently to a loose strand of her hair. “Too true. So it’s not a suitor of mine you must handle, but you feel you have to check with me. I can guess all night if I must, Hubert, but wouldn’t it be easier to simply ask?”

“So one would think,” he answered drily and sighed, shoulders relaxing at last—though in resignation. Practiced words, carefully rehearsed for every situation from putting her worries at ease to voicing his own, simply fled at the very sight of her door. At least he could spare himself the foolishness of rehearsing his confession to a certain prime minister. Not that he would. Even the thought of going without a plan entirely, even if that plan were to leave his mind the moment he needed it most, churned his stomach where little else could.

Edelgard blinked pensively for a moment, and then the realization dawned on her like the flare of candlelight in her eyes. A realization, in any case. “Oh! Hubert!”

“Hm?” His guard was difficult to get past, but she managed with that elated tone. Edelgard leaned forward even more, resting on the arm of the chair in a most casual manner he didn’t often see now that she was Emperor.

“You are in love!”

Hubert recoiled only slightly but was betrayed by a blush, making a choking sound rather than a comprehensible reply.

“I am so happy for you, my good friend!” Her smile could not get any wider, and he felt his face could not be any warmer.

“I would hold back on your celebration until you hear who it is, Your Majesty.”

“Oh, enough of titles,” she waved that off, settling back into her relaxed posture. “Please, I simply must know who has caught your exacting attention. They must be special indeed.”

Hubert sighed heavily through his nose, feeling the blush recede bit by excruciating bit. What could he tell her? She’d seen him bicker with Ferdinand endlessly over the years, their relationship tempering into a push-and-pull where both had grown. Indeed, continued to grow.

Their courtship was happening in subtle gestures now, no matter how he tried to resist it. There was something captivating about Ferdinand that Hubert ultimately found he could not deny in any regard. And since he could not help but continue rising to his witty, teasing banter and invitations to share coffee and tea together… Hubert straightened his posture and steeled himself. As her closest confidant, he had to get Her Majesty’s approval before their relationship developed too far.

“…Fer…” He sighed again, the embarrassment at the confession overcoming him. The lives he’d claimed, the horrors he unflinchingly committed—and this was where Hubert hesitated, of all things.

“For…?” Edelgard tilted her head, trying once more to catch his attention while he turned away.


“I… Is that right?” He turned back just in time to catch her smile, one of a cat who ate the canary. Hubert sighed again, rolling his eyes.

“Of course it is. Surely, you have noticed by now.”

“I don’t know what you could possibly mean,” she dismissed, resuming her regal posture for the sole purpose of his mockery, it seemed. “The flower he had in his lapel only after his meeting with you paired with an especially radiant smile, perhaps, or the frequent visits you both share in the tea garden, maybe. Oh, or could you mean—”

“You have made my point,” he teased back, though he did feel his heart quicken at her joking. Her observations meant that Ferdinand’s returned feelings were not in his own imagination, since Edelgard herself had perceived his joy at the flower. But if she knew that he had explained its meaning to Ferdinand as well and the glorious blush that blossomed over his freckled cheeks at the revelation… Hubert may very well sink into the floorboards. “And now, I would like your opinion.”

“My opinion?”

“We are both closely connected to the throne, Your Majesty. If anything were to go wrong between us,” he explained, letting the implication hang for her to continue on her own.

“We will handle that if the time comes.” She reached out across the table to him and in a rare moment of vulnerability, Hubert took her offered hand. Edelgard squeezed his hand gently, sharing a soft smile with him. “But you should follow your heart, Hubert. I am confident he is as in love with you as you are with him.”

“I appreciate the sentiment, but… Why?” He looked at her analytically, studying for a telltale sign of how she could be so certain. “You are not especially close with Ferdinand outside of our obligations to the Empire.”

“No, but Dorothea is. And she is a good friend of yours as well, so it is only natural that Ferdinand should seek advice from his dear friend about his potential lover.” Ah, a mirror of their current situation. How clever of Edelgard to call attention to that so Hubert could not even mock the decision properly. “Is it not?”

“I do wish you wouldn’t phrase it quite like that,” he dodged instead of answering, that damned blush returning.

Edelgard laughed, a bright spot all its own. “You have nothing to be shy about, Hubert. Please, be happy! There is no one who deserves it more.” She clasped her other hand over his and he discovered he could not resist the softening of his smirk. “You have my support in this, as in all you do for yourself. It is high time you did.”

The lamps surrounding them cast a warm glow on everything in the room as a stark contrast to the harsh moonlight washing the landscape beyond her window. In the shadows of flickering light, he spotted traces of a more domestic life in Edelgard’s room. A coat rack held cloaks for herself as well as Dorothea, and her war boots were not left out any longer. Instead, they’d been replaced by riding boots for travelling to nearby towns or anywhere the Emperor was needed by the people.

A vase of Dorothea’s favorite flowers sat on the desk of her room.

Edelgard found someone to share her life that was beyond what Hubert could provide… And seeing her now, spending her scant free time to offer him encouragement, he knew she would not begrudge him doing the same for himself. That alone cut through his skin-crawling discomfort at the notion of allowing himself to aspire for something that was solely for his benefit.

“Thank you, Edelgard.”

She patted his hand gently before returning hers to her lap, a fond smile reaching her eyes. “Anytime, Hubert.”

Part 2: His Confession

And now that he had her approval, Hubert had only to face an even greater difficulty. Planning out how to confess his feelings for Ferdinand to the prime minister himself was a snarl of logistics and emotion.

Hubert decided it should be at their typical social call in the gardens for tea and coffee initially, but then that was too public a place where anyone might come along at any moment. If Ferdinand did reject him, he would prefer it to be in private where he could safely pretend the incident never occurred.

But to take him off in a secluded location in broad daylight would introduce rumors. While that never bothered Hubert to any extent, such scandal could potentially affect Ferdinand—who was far more socially connected and attuned and therefore, more susceptible to the impacts of defamation.

And to isolate him in the dead of night would only be a social threat if they were caught without a purpose for being together alone so late into the evening. Therefore, he waited until their last meeting of the day to pull Ferdinand aside and make up some excuse or another about a late-night meeting in the underground areas of the Enbarr palace to seal off compromised secret passages and plan new ones in their stead. This was a task best handled when their concealment in darkness could be seen firsthand, after all.

“Ferdinand,” he simply said his name as greeting, and the prime minister responded with a torturously bright smile followed by a cascade of copper hair as he turned to Hubert. They were underground now with only torches to the light the way, and he somehow managed to be perfectly captivating.

“Hubert,” he answered as if receiving excellent news by his mere presence. “Today was remarkably productive, was it not? With the war behind us, progress has come swiftly.”

“That it has,” Hubert agreed, a distant smile on his face. Suddenly, he felt vulnerable and exposed from the very subject on his mind.

“You know how I adore planning ahead, Hubert,” he answered with his name once again, as if he could not get enough of saying it. Hubert’s imagination, however limited, was determined to be overactive at the most inconvenient time. “But secret passages are admittedly your area of expertise. Before I can coordinate the supplies required, please tell me—what did you have in mind?”

Always in need of an excuse to spend time alongside Ferdinand, Hubert outlined his plans to the prime minister so they could work out the details together at another point. Securing the materials and disguising them among the supplies ordered for other projects, finding workers who could guard the covert nature of their tasks, and so on. Tasks best divided between them with a cohesive understanding.

At the last pathway marked, far from any staff in the castle who might come across them on their evening duties, Hubert turned to Ferdinand. This was the opportunity he had been working toward all night and he could not afford to waste it. Tired as Ferdinand seemed, he did his best to maintain his attentiveness and energy throughout their journey. Truthfully, he was the better suited between them for a march through the corridors of the castle’s basements. Hubert was stronger than he seemed and more so than most would expect of a mage, but he did not even come close to rivaling Ferdinand’s stamina as a horseback rider.

“Are you tired, Hubert? You have been staring at me in silence for some time now,” Ferdinand teased, only a twinge of something undetectable in his tone with his smirk visible even in the low light.

“Not at all,” he confessed. The night was his ally in many regards, and he was more comfortable in the late hours of darkness than the early hours of daylight. “I actually… Have a personal matter to discuss. With you.”

“A… personal matter?” His breath hitched in a way that was either disgusted or hopeful. Those two sentiments should not be as close together as they apparently were, Hubert thought with an exasperated sigh. He brushed his bangs from his face pointlessly, a rare meaningless gesture. It seemed his mind was now at war with itself and determined to sabotage every step.

“That is what I said,” Hubert taunted, though there was no malice to his voice as there might have been in their schooldays. “Unless you are too tired, of course.” Hubert was not so blind to his own flaws that he didn’t realize what he was doing to himself. Here he was, trying to rationalize why Ferdinand was not up for this tonight so he could postpone the question that his blackened heart hinged upon.

“I don’t have your gift for persevering through long nights at work,” Ferdinand admitted and stifled a yawn, demonstrating his own personal growth in an ability to admit that he did not excel in every little thing he did. However unreliable that ability did prove at times, Hubert remarked to himself with an amused smirk. “But for you, Hubert, I can make an exception.”

His tone was bright, welcoming, and yet it seemed so utterly the same as the kindness he showed to every soul that crossed his path off the battlefield. Even on it, at times. He was there when they pardoned Claude and allowed his survival. Ensured it, in fact. Hubert himself would not have shown such mercy, but it turned out to be in their best interest in the end.

“How… Very kind of you,” Hubert answered, resenting the hesitation in his own voice. He had trained nearly his entire life for subterfuge and political strategy, foreseeing assassinations, seeing to it that the right bribes reached the right people (or the wrong ones), and all manner of dark, horrid deeds. Confessing love had never made it into his studies and it had him fumbling over his words with a mind as blank as a new moon. “I had wondered what your plans were for future romantic pursuits.”

“Romantic pursuits?” A squeak bled through his response; one Hubert struggled not to laugh at. “Hubert, I cannot see what this has to do with our work for the Empire.”

“Very well. I shall explain it to you.” Hubert smirked, piercing him with a challenging stare that turned out fonder than he intended. This was their routine, and he had the upper hand for the time being. “Were your heart to belong to a dubious individual, it would compromise the security of the Empire.”

“And you think that I, Ferdinand von Aegir, would have such ignobly low standards?” Hubert had long since learned that ‘noble’ to Ferdinand had its own definition of decency and propriety rather than titles. And his mock offense was just as hollow as Hubert’s mockery. This dance between them was familiar, even comforting. “I would have you know that any partner of mine would only be dubious in the finest of manners.”

Hubert could not help a laugh at that, catching a look of admiration in Ferdinand’s eyes. Or had he imagined that too?

“And what manners might those be?”

“W-well,” he began shakily, though he did not withdraw from Hubert even as he bowed his head and caused those perfectly burnt golden locks to fall forward over broad shoulders. “They would be devoted, utterly and entirely, to all they held dear. Their protection would know no bounds, and there would be no sacrifice they would not make for those they lo-love.”

The word was a difficult for Ferdinand to say as it was for Hubert to hear. At what point had he begun holding his breath as if this were a covert operation that could be uncovered at the slightest sound?

“And I would be their guardian in return. We could serve as protectors of… One another. Hypothetically, of course.” Ferdinand’s shoulders had risen just enough to be noticeable—in self-consciousness or discomfort?

“I… see.” Was it possible Ferdinand had foreseen his plan already? Dorothea and Edelgard spoke daily. Perhaps Dorothea had given him the information in advance? No, Edelgard would never breach his confidence that way. Hubert cleared his throat, awkwardly pushing forward. “Well, it seems you have a very specific person in mind.” And what if it was not Hubert? What if he read too much into it? He couldn’t go on like this.

“Oh, no, I,” Ferdinand trailed off in a frustrated sigh, his hand running through the comparably short bangs across his forehead. “I suppose I do. But I assure you, this person is someone you and Edelgard trust entirely!”

“Oh?” His mind continued ahead without him unbidden once more. Who could that be? The professor? It must be so. Here he was, heart in hand, and Ferdinand belonged to another. His mouth was dry suddenly, and Hubert felt his pulse in even his fingertips. “And have you made your intentions known?”

“Hubert, I… That is,” Ferdinand began, uncharacteristically stumbling for words. “…I have not.”

“Good,” Hubert answered, his motivation returning to him in one thrumming rush not unlike a second wave during an intense battle. “Then I request you consider my offer.”

“Offer? What—”

“To be frank, I—love you.” There, it was done. Hubert felt a chill worse than the embrace of any dark magic he’d channeled, and he was certain some vital function of his body was about to end or at least suffer a brief, crushing interruption. But it was done, and he could put this behind him at last. No matter the answer or who Hubert would be compared to for Ferdinand’s affections.

“Pardon? You love… me?”

“I am as surprised as you are. I have already spoken to Lady Edelgard, however, and she has encouraged me to pursue my feelings… for you.” As if he has not made that clear enough as it was. He shook his head at his own foolishness and yet continued.

“It would seem you have her outmatched in more ways than I originally anticipated. A flaw in my assessment of you I will not repeat,” he ventured a joke but came across too serious. Gifts and flattery were forever cursed to be his failings, weren’t they? “I swear to you, Ferdinand, should you return these feelings, my devotion to Lady Edelgard will in no way lessen or compare to my affection for you. You will know no want—”

“Hubert,” Ferdinand interrupted with a bubbling laugh like a burst of sun breaking through a dull, overcast morning. “You have not even let me answer!”

“Ah. Forgive me,” Hubert requested, antsy once again. And grateful for his foresight for choosing a secluded area where no one would witness that Hubert von Vestra got emotional and lost control. No one save Ferdinand.

“You are not alone in your feelings, Hubert. In the new world we have built, where crests do not rule our society… We are free to take partners without concern for bloodline. In short,” he almost whispered in hopeful reverence like this was a chapel, closing the distance between him and Hubert to tentatively take a gloved hand in his. “I am free to choose you. And the world is a more a beautiful place than ever for it!”

“I can hardly believe this,” Hubert breathed his answer, alight in this moment. It was so clear now. The description that Ferdinand gave and how he vouched for the person he fancied—that was how he viewed Hubert. Not only did Ferdinand look upon his actions with pride, but with love. For him. Unable to meet his gaze, Hubert stared down at their barely clasped hands. “But I am truly happy in ways I never thought possible.”

“And I am happy to be the reason.”

Hubert chuckled, finding his steely resolve back in its proper place at the opportunity to tease Ferdinand. “Eager to jump to that conclusion, are we?”

“Is there competition I should be aware of, my love?” Already reaching for pet names? He would not be Ferdinand if he didn’t. Hubert was embarrassed to admit to even himself the surge of joy that gave him now, in a private moment between them. At tomorrow’s meeting hall may be another story entirely. Hubert would simply have to make do. Ferdinand lived in the light of the world. Center stage was where he belonged, and now he had Hubert beside him.

“None at all,” he promised, taking Ferdinand’s hand up to his lips and placing a firm, tender kiss to the back. “Thank you, Ferdinand.”

“Do not go thanking me just yet! Our courtship has only begun,” Ferdinand said, thinking this to be a cause for celebration. Though he helped forged a new future, Ferdinand was a true romantic and would want to follow every last fanciful dream he’d envisioned over his many years of reading poetry and romantic novels. For Hubert, that led to mixed feelings of elated anticipation and beneath that, a thin but poisonous layer of dread.

“I can only imagine how excessive this process will be with you at the helm,” Hubert drawled, sighing as he lowered their hands. Ferdinand led them back to the main castle area, a smile evident in his voice alone.

“You will not have to imagine for long, Hubert,” he boasted. “You are a man who deserves to be properly loved and courted beyond measure, so excess is simply not possible. I shall see to it that everyone knows the depth of my love for you. It shall ring across the land like a thousand bells!”

“Ferdinand, that is a bit dramatic,” Hubert stuttered, led along like the shadow he was while his newly titled boyfriend continued undaunted. The hallways sloped upward and indicated their return to the main body of the capital palace. Against all odds, Hubert hoped Ferdinand could contain his excitement for decent waking hours if nothing else.

“None of that, Hubert. You do your finest work where none can witness your efforts, and I love you for it. But I will declare my feelings in a way that will leave you with not a single trace of doubt.”

“Who said I had any doubts?” He managed to capture guarded skepticism only once tonight, and this timing was perfect.

Ferdinand stopped at that. He set the lamp down in a convenient alcove recessed into the stone wall and reached for Hubert’s other hand. The intimacy and tenderness of even that had Hubert on a razor-thin edge of overwhelming emotion. He was, perhaps, not as prepared to be romanced as he anticipated.

“I have come to know you very well, Hubert. The meaning behind every incisive stare, every discontented hum. You may not feel doubt now, but there will come a time that you do.” Ferdinand kept his eyes locked on Hubert’s, steady and open and trusting. It was like witnessing his own vivisection even as Hubert cherished that such a look was directed at him from the man he had come to love. “And I will chase that feeling away before it has any chance to take root in your heart!”

His hand found its way to Hubert’s chest as emphasis. Or an expression of his sentiments. Hubert could not place the feelings of himself, much less Ferdinand.

“Ferdinand,” he sighed so warmly, he scarcely recognized his own voice. “Only you would say such a foolish, innocent thing with certainty and not be subject to my most cutting observations.”

Loathe as he was to admit it, Ferdinand did know him. And he was not immune to self-doubt as he led so many to believe. How he could have his heart and soul laid bare before Ferdinand and feel loved rather than at great risk… That was a mystery in itself. “I will give my all to you. I will be worthy of such unwavering support from none other than Ferdinand von Aegir.”

Through the emotional state of his confession, Hubert reached for Ferdinand’s hands to earn himself some distance to recharge for the next onslaught of affection—only to discover that Ferdinand was trembling. “You are… shaking.”

“Yes! Yes, I am.” He nodded, eager as ever, almost as if Hubert had simply observed the state of his cloak or the color of his eyes. “With joy, of course!” The uneven laugh did Ferdinand in completely, his words elated and breathy. “I am overcome with it, even. I… may faint.”

“Please don’t. I could carry you, but I would rather not.” A facetious lie in the face of the very real possibility that the prime minister and he supposed, his boyfriend, might actually fall unconscious in the paths to the lower levels of the Enbarr castle and force Hubert to explain what caused it.

“And you will not have to! From now on, we walk together, Hubert. I simply… need a moment to catch my breath. You had me holding it for much of your roundabout confession.” He rested his forehead against Hubert’s chest with a shaky breath, relaxing into him. Hubert took advantage of his height and their solitude to place an arm around Ferdinand in a loose hug. It was all either could withstand at the moment, he suspected.

“Take all the time you need. I will be here.”

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