Hubert von Vestra from Fire Emblem looking down and to the side

Nightmare: Ferdibert Week 2020 FE3H Fanfiction

Word count: 2100 (5 to 17 minutes) | Rating: T (Referenced child death in the context of the nightmare and intrusive thoughts)| Fire Emblem: Three Houses Fanfiction | Characters: Ferdinand von Aegir and Hubert von Vestra


The war was over. Had been for years. Ferdinand was even better suited to peacetime than he was to war, clad in polished armor and his stately ministerial uniform and charging proudly into battle. Now he spent his days in the latest Adrestian fashions, penning letters to Lorenz and diplomats from territories outside of Fódlan. He championed the educational system he discussed at length with Linhardt and Edelgard, where several of their allies now taught—Hubert included.

He was far less equipped for peace, however. The strongholds of the Agarthans were destroyed, and any useful information was distributed to the person most suited to designing constructive inventions from it. Hubert maintained his network and his vigilance, but that demanded far less from him than active warfare with two nations and a religious power over the course of six years or so.

With less to apply his mind to, his intellect evidently chose to turn on him directly.

He was not the only one, of course. Manuela had opened an institution of healing through words commonly referred to as counseling, which Hubert had determined was a less private version of the advice box. Caspar went regularly, as did Linhardt. Most of the Strike Force, in fact. Even if Hubert wanted to go, and he didn’t, he simply could not bring himself to disclose his most vulnerable moments to either a perfect stranger or someone he knew professionally.

So when the nightmares crept in, he sat in the reading chair in the central room of their house and waited for dawn. This seat was more familiar with their two children, watching him intently as he read through Bernadetta’s latest children’s story. The last stretch of summer sunlight peeked through arched windows and across the ornate rug depicting some legend of old beneath a thin coat of Aegir hound fur.

But tonight, even though smiled faintly in the dark, it was his security post. Only bugs waited outside at present and he knew that as an unmovable fact. In the heart of Enbarr, there was no chance of an attack on the ministers’ estate. That changed nothing. Only when the first staff members came in to see to the first tasks of their day, Hubert would retire for a few hours of sleep. Lately, he’d awakened Ferdinand on his return, and he knew the conversation about where he was all night was not far off.

The candle on the engraved table beside the worn seat flickered weakly as Hubert wove thin traces of dark magic through his fingers. He opened and closed his hand around it, prepared for whatever may come in the night to threaten the peace he’d carved out for himself. There, in the late hours of the evening or early hours of morning, it meant nothing that Hubert did not have any right to the idyllic domesticity of his life. It was his, given to him by the man he loved and the children they adopted who found it in their hearts to see past his many layers to find a suitable father. He fought this far for it, and he would fight again if ever the need arose.

“Darling?”

A sensation not unlike nausea roiled in his stomach, but Hubert gradually brought himself to look at Ferdinand waiting at the edge of the candle’s light. His hair was in a loose ponytail, curls falling free to frame his face. He still had a healthy tan and a light dusting of freckles that always intensified in the summer. Perhaps he wasn’t quite as sculpted as he was when he was a general in field rather than a minister at his desk for the majority of his day… But his was a beauty only enhanced by the passage of time. His loose nightgown swept around him while he approached, resting a warm hand on Hubert’s forearm.

“My love, it’s late.” The flames danced in his eyes, melding with the open concern there. Even in Hubert’s peripheral, he could see the furrow of his brow. Even before the gentle, reassuring squeeze on his arm, he sensed that distress as if it were his own. Such was the effect of falling in love, he supposed.

“I’m aware,” Hubert answered.

“And yet you are not in bed.”

“No,” he agreed. Conversations about Hubert’s emotional state always began like this: roundabout and simple statements of fact as Ferdinand endeavored to find his way to the heart of the matter.

Correctly interpreting Hubert’s stillness as permission, Ferdinand moved closer and slid his hand up his arm and around his shoulder to have a seat on the sturdy arm of the chair. They purposefully chose it to support the children plus one of them, and as a result, it supported the two of them at once with ease. And in the gravity of moments such as these, that was invaluable. Hubert shifted closer to lean into Ferdinand’s embrace, take in the scent of him. Tea and sleep and that herbal soap Dorothea introduced him to. Of course, there was the unshakable traces of hay and horses as well. His ponytail rested over his shoulder and between them, the culprit for every stray orange strand he found on his black blazers and cloaks.

“Is there no way I can persuade you to bed, my love?”

Patient as always, Ferdinand waited in the pensive silence Hubert left. It took time to assess his mental state, determine the path he wished to take from there, and gather his words in his mind to communicate that effectively. Hubert spent years training himself to ignore the ghoulish recollections that haunted the chambers of his heart, forging ahead at any cost to himself. The safe path was meaningless to him if it endangered Her Majesty and those who allied themselves with her when she made her stand in the Holy Tomb. It was as though that was a separate lifetime, as distinct and severed from the rest as his childhood before the incident that tore Lady Edelgard from his side.

It could very well be that was where the problem found its origins.

“As a child,” he began, snaking an arm around Ferdinand as well to rest on his waist. “I dreaded the notion that the goddess would punish me for any misdeed. Failing to better protect Lady Edelgard. Disappointing my father and all the Vestras who served before me.” The very mention of such an abhorrent creature as the late Lord Vestra set him on edge. With a bracing breath, Hubert did manage to continue regardless. “Even when that was behind me in the later portion of my childhood, I feared what grudges the dead might hold.” There was no need to elaborate from there. Ferdinand knew well that Hubert was quite young when he claimed his first life.

“But now, when there are few situations to speak of that could strike noteworthy fear in me, I encounter it merely by existing.” Hubert had done nothing exceptional that day to invite that nightmare into his dreams. There was no cloaked assignment to stir up memories of contacts and agents murdered in service to Hubert, or the lives he’d cruelly cut short in the name of Her Majesty.

All those who survived them may bear him ill will and the easiest, most sensible target was his family. It would be very tactical and efficiently done. They had a routine, like most families, and discovering it was an effortless task. Hubert ordered his favorite coffee from the same merchant as always, their preferred housekeeping staff had been the same since the war ended, the children had school nearly every day of the week with schedules that were readily accessible simply by pretending to be a parent. With no warning or reason to it, all Hubert could see on certain days was the various ways he could one day come home to their dead bodies—or worse.

Ferdinand would die defending their children. Against the right soldiers or simply outnumbered, he would fall. They were all out of practice and for the sake of their happiness, they should remain so. But that meant leaving an obvious risk of being outmatched by even a single well-trained assassin striking from the shadows. The children would never stand a chance.

All in all, that horrific possibility distorted to a certain, inevitable reality on those occasions when Hubert could not clear the weighted fog from his thoughts.

“Zealots and grudges of the living. If those led to my death, it would simply be reaping what I have sown.” He wouldn’t lay down and accept it, not with his family waiting for him to return safely each day, but Hubert would prefer it to the cursed visions his sleeping mind conjured for him. Tightening his grip on Ferdinand, his voice strained taut while tears pricked at his eyes. Fatherhood had made him soft. “But if anything were to happen to you or the children, I—”

He brought a hand stained by dark magic to his mouth reflexively, biting back tears as Ferdinand gently shushed him.

“My dear, it’s alright to be afraid.” This was a reminder he was familiar with. Hubert had found Ferdinand furiously maintaining retired weapons on more than one occasion, or having tea go cold in his hands as a far-off look took hold of his normally sunny husband. They all had ghosts left behind from the war, but Hubert could not just choose to see himself in the same light as the others. As if reading his thoughts, Ferdinand offered another practiced reminder with as much affection as the first time he shared it. “You don’t need to bear this burden alone any longer.”

He placed a delicate kiss to the top of his head, the curls of his ponytail brushing against Hubert’s shoulder as he did. He closed his eyes in an effort to center all his attention on only Ferdinand there alongside him. “We shall check on our little ones and the defenses of our home, and we can retire to bed when you’ve seen all is well for yourself.”

Drifting his eyes open once more, he was greeted by Ferdinand smiling down at him. Even weary from partial rest, the man was a beacon of light and warmth. That smile reached his eyes as visibly as the reflected candlelight from the table opposite him.

“Well? It’s a promising plan, is it not?”

“It is,” Hubert relented. He’d done as much himself twice that night already, but together, it may be different. There was certainly nothing better he could be doing with his evening. His eyes seared with exhaustion and now, remnants of tears that didn’t quite fall. “I’m very tired.”

“I know,” he acknowledged, sympathetic as ever while he smoothed his hair. Hubert chose to grow it out somewhat after the war and parted it to show both of his eyes at the behest of Ferdinand and Edelgard. Or more of his face, at least. Progress was progress, and they accepted his compromise gladly. “Tomorrow, we can discuss arranging a meeting with Manuela. She can help you find a counselor you can trust if you so choose.”

He almost laughed. Trust was eternally a battle for Hubert. But Ferdinand simply wanted to help him and if nothing else, he could humor the chance that such a task was possible. “Perhaps.”

“Thank you, Hubert.” He stood, drawing his arm away to trail his hand back down to Hubert’s with the goal of leading him to stand. A rather successful method, considering he took Ferdinand’s hand in his and essentially guaranteed that outcome with that gesture.

“Shouldn’t I be thanking you?”

Gently, Ferdinand pulled Hubert to his feet and bestowed another kiss onto Hubert with soft lips on the back of his marred hand. With enough repetition, the sight inspired a sense of peace in Hubert at last instead of the previous crawling apprehension.

“The highest form of gratitude I could ever hope for is your presence beside me throughout the night, side by side as we are in our hearts.”

That did earn him a breathed chuckle from Hubert. “So dramatic. But if you wish it, then… For you, I will do it gladly.”


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Recovery: Ferdibert Week 2020 FE3H Fanfiction

Word count: 2000 (4 to 16 minutes) | Rating: T | Fire Emblem: Three Houses Fanfiction | Characters: Ferdinand von Aegir, Edelgard Hresvelg, Dorothea Arnault, Linhardt von Hevring, and Hubert von Vestra


Day 1:

Hubert is still unresponsive. He never was especially fond of Lord Arundel, so I cannot help but be suspicious of this secretive procedure he performed at Edelgard’s request to save his life. She’s assured me that his white hair is a normal side effect and I should not be alarmed, but how can I not be? Hubert in such anguish, yet every inch as stubborn as usual. He clung to consciousness to order me about as though we are not both ministers to Edelgard and as such, we are equals.

I had no interest in what he had to say about the event of his death. I insisted that he would be fine as always. Hubert has overcome more injuries and adversaries than most full battalions ever will, and that is based only on what I am permitted to know. None of us ever imagined he would fall in battle. It just did not seem possible. And then he was lifeless, stained with his own blood for—

But he is alright now. Linhardt and Dorothea are both seeing to him now, and this time, there is a life left to restore. I should be grateful.

Day 5:

Excellent news! Hubert has begun reacting to his environment! Dorothea was all smiles and even hugged me as she relayed the update to me. True, it is only a glance or a nod, and he does not speak still. But he is present in the moment! He even rolled his eyes when I arrived with a full bouquet to wish him well and bizarrely, I was thrilled with that reaction.

There may have been a trace of a smile there as well. Or perhaps I had only imagined it in my eagerness to see him well, giving orders to his agents, having his morning coffee in the meeting room, even hearing that foreboding laugh of his in the halls… I have missed him terribly. I simply wish to tell him as much, whether he scolds me to be less theatrical or maybe something kinder. Over the course of the war, I have seen glimpses of his compassionate nature that is as hidden and enigmatic as the rest of that infuriatingly enthralling man.

And whether the statement is excessive in his eyes or not, his brush with death and subsequent absence while Edelgard’s uncle saw to this mysterious treatment has it made it very apparent how much I rely on him. How much we all have come to.

Not that the Empire has been greatly hindered. His agents are presently carrying out various contingency plans to uphold the network and their own assignments from Hubert while he is in recovery. How ever does he manage such far-reaching foresight? Someday soon, I hope to ask him myself.

Day 7:

As expected, Hubert is progressing well on his recovery! He is speaking articulately but unable to recall anyone, not even Edelgard. Although his personality does appear to be intact… He did try to conceal his lack of awareness as long as possible. Even asked directly, Hubert claimed to know who was present and did know the titles of those in his company. But he could not offer even a single birthday!

We have all been receiving small gifts and calligraphed cards discreetly on our birthdays for years. Typically, it was an item we had needed for some time and put off acquiring or was unattainable through all available to channels—to us, at least. Who else could have kept track of all that and a war while observing us to select gifts we would all appreciate? Still, no one expected him to be completely recovered within a week of his return. There is time yet!

Day 12:

Hubert was concealing more than the disconcerting state of not remembering the people dearest to him, which I suppose I should have anticipated. While he does recognize his fellow Black Eagles now, he doesn’t acknowledge his own name. He understood that people said Hubert in application to him and consciously chose to respond to it rather than recognizing it instinctively.

The discovery came gradually in several mundane events, such as when he was called out to while reading and did not even answer. No one could accuse him of being particularly friendly, but even Hubert was above purposefully ignoring someone for no cause whatsoever. Of course, he held to this ruse as long as possible as well.

When he could not any longer, he admitted to Edelgard that it was because we all seemed distressed enough as it was. Even without his memories at his disposal, Hubert adamantly placed the needs of others above his own while he remains confined to a cot. As concerning as his condition is, I’m finding myself impressed at the breadth and depth of his attentiveness to those around him. Come what may, I know now that Hubert will always be just as I remember him. And admire him, truly.

Day 19:

In a week’s time, Hubert has made remarkable progress yet again! He greeted me today before I even spoke to him, and so fondly at that. The sharp perception of his eyes has returned, and his smirk is perfectly done. This, I am confident, is no ruse! He is no longer confused by people he was close to, although he seems generally disoriented in areas too far removed from his usual places now that he can go for walks. While supervised by an upstanding ally, naturally.

We can visit the library and the specific table we usually occupied for our tea breaks, although I refuse to bring him to his office lest he be tempted to overexert himself, but the fishing pond or the stables leaves him staring at me for guidance. Or he may be hoping to ground himself in seeing a familiar face? I didn’t dare ask and risk his recuperation.

As it is, he is acting unusually despite his persistent sacrificial character. Why, just at tea today, he apologized to me! In broad daylight and plain sight and earshot of our peers! Hubert expressed his remorse for a perceived failing as a minister to serve alongside me and lead Edelgard together. He even referred to us a couplet. A couplet! I was disgracefully flustered into a broken answer to reassure him, but it did seem to do him some good.

…Then again… Oh, dear. Perhaps that was not enough. I shall just have to work harder to prove that taking time to restore his health is no failure! And when he is ready to return, we shall move forward as impressively as ever—together.

Day 23:

Abruptly, today did not go well for Hubert. Linhardt explained that magical procedures may sometimes regress sharply like that, but there was a weariness in his eyes that suggested he was despairing at this turn of events. From what I have heard, he experienced some kind of hallucination and forgot himself entirely. It must have been a horrid vision to inspire him to attack a medic working under Linhardt in a grand, if misguided, attempt to escape the palace.

He’s been restrained to his cot now, of course, and he is being kept asleep magically in the hopes that this will put his mind at ease.

Healing is a long, difficult path, and I knew this before he returned to us. I wish I understood more of what he was suffering through. The stripped clean white of his hair, the tormented hallucinations that plague him, his displacement in his own life and mind, I just… I desire nothing more than to reach out and hold him. Considering where we began at the academy, it is a relatively new impulse to protect Hubert, but how could I not? He has always been so capable and logical, regardless of how viciously we fought in our youth. Now that he is in need, it is all I can do to be at his side however I am able.

Which, at present, is shamefully little.

Linhardt theorized that his Crest’s power flared due to a weather event or celestial change beyond our understanding, something conditional like with the Crests of Lysithea or Catherine. It is Linhardt’s belief his mind is trying to reconcile the new existence of the Crest. Should that be the case, that would mean memories are stored within Crests as well, but they go unnoticed to those born with them while potentially causing madness in those granted them.

I can think of nothing more horrific than Hubert von Vestra losing his mind due to a risk we took without his knowledge or approval. Did Edelgard truly make the right choice by sending him away with Lord Arundel? Did I, by remaining silent?

Day 25:

Yesterday, Hubert was utterly vacant, and the entire medical wing of the palace had the atmosphere of a crypt. But the update that he was non-verbal and responding to friends anew has broken through that gloom like a vibrant parade. …My heart is simply not in characteristically poetic analogies just yet, but I am grateful for the joy others have found in this. All I feel is terror that we will be trapped in this loop of restoration and loss forever as punishment for our decision.

Day 28:

I went to visit today, and Hubert was extraordinarily cross at being restrained. How strange, that his glower made me beam with delight. Just to witness it reinforced my faith that he would be himself again for good this time around. The process of helping him drink coffee went more smoothly than I expected, and he did seem soothed by my reading of the latest heroic tale from my favorite author. He claimed he would rather hear the reports from his agents, of course. That soft look in his eyes spoke to the truth of the matter, however!

I dreaded that he would hate us for our choice to save him by any means. Instead, it may very well be that we are closer than ever.

…Focus, Ferdinand! Now is not the time for flightful fantasies of the heart.

Day 35:

I ran into Hubert unattended in the halls today! He dismissed an agent for assignment and greeted me with the warmest smile I have ever seen grace his expression. We walked together to the stables, and he went out of his way to confess he had no business whatsoever there but to be with me.

We spoke of how Linhardt noted that it was remarkable how quickly Hubert has adapted since the last jarring episode. There is no evidence yet to confirm if it’s the Crest acclimating to his body and vice versa or Hubert being “too smart and stubborn”.

Vastly inspiring as that is, the true miracle is what came next.

When we were alone in the stables, Hubert stood so close to me that I imagined I felt his heartbeat syncing with my own. Those piercing green eyes lingered on me in a way that revealed such devotion and admiration that I was locked in place as though I was a statue. He brushed my hair from my face so tenderly, bringing his slightly chapped lips to rest against my cheek with such lightness that I barely know if it happened or I dreamt it from moons of longing for that very act.

But I could never forget the brush of his breath against my ear as he whispered his gratitude for my support before withdrawing in a sweep of his black cloak to Goddess knows where. Saints, my face blazes just to write it out! Wherever our journey takes us next, my heart swells with pride that we will see it through together, hand-in-hand, shining for all the world to see. If our love for one another is the only deed of mine that is ever documented, I will be honored beyond measure.


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Fears: Ferdibert Week 2020 FE3H Fanfiction

Word count: 1800 (3 to 15 minutes) | Rating: T | Fire Emblem: Three Houses Fanfiction | Characters: Ferdinand von Aegir and Hubert von Vestra


At the initial assault on Garreg Mach following the Holy Tomb, Hubert’s carefully laid strategy built on the full Black Eagle house joining their ranks moved smoothly. It would have been just as successful without them, of course, but at a steeper cost. Bernadetta and Dorothea devastated enemies from afar while Petra and Caspar tore through their front lines. Linhardt kept everyone well enough to move their troops forward, pressing onward to where Edelgard and the Professor would challenge the head of the Church of Seiros in a blaze of legendary glory.

As always, in every strategy reviewed by Her Majesty, Ferdinand and Hubert were placed close together. They were accustomed to one another’s fighting styles due to it and remained vigilant for the areas where their ally was habitually less than attentive. Even Hubert had his blind spots, and of course, his strategic weaknesses. Ferdinand knew many of them, but there were still those he remained fortunately ignorant of. It was one matter for Byleth to know about Hubert’s aversion to heights through the advice box at the monastery, but Ferdinand?

Conjuring another spell, Hubert took out an archer aiming for Ferdinand and smirked. No, it was better he didn’t know. Their friendship had grown out of intense animosity to something perhaps defined as more than friendship… Particularly after talking out numerous personal matters in private when they returned to their base of operations. Throughout the evening after the retreat from the Holy Tomb, they remained in one another’s company over the last meal before the siege on Garreg Mach.

At present, they focused their joint efforts on clearing the area surrounding them of enemies, and Ferdinand strode up to him with energy to spare despite the long battle. His horse was likely behind the front lines for safety—he spoiled that beast rotten in Hubert’s opinion.

“Hubert,” he called unnecessarily, but it was a relief to hear something other than his own orders and the cries of the battlefield for a moment. “Have you seen Edelgard? Or the Professor?”

“They’ve led the attack on the archbishop ahead.” For them, that was communication enough. They made their way to the heart of the monastery, where Byleth and Edelgard fought alongside one another to defeat the leader of this false religion.

They only barely arrived in time to see a flash of green light, which Hubert recognized solely from studying forbidden books on the Immaculate One. “She’s about to change form,” he explained to Ferdinand, harsh and curt. There was no time for anything else, and already, the demands of battle were making themselves known through the invigorating haze of adrenaline.

Raising up her long, serpentine neck, the Immaculate One reared up. Her voice, distorted by her new form, resonated in his chest and shook the stone around them. “You will not be forgiven!”

“Hubert? What is—?”

“Professor!” Edelgard cut off Ferdinand unknowingly, reaching out for Byleth as the first stones began to fall. “Look out!”

“The castle is crumbling,” a soldier cried out, pushing his helmet down over his head further as if that would spare him as he fled. “We must escape!”

“Everyone, take cover!” Hubert ordered, lamenting the debris already piled up between him and where the Professor stood with Her Majesty. They would have to fend for themselves, and knowing they were perfectly capable of that did little to comfort Hubert as he grabbed Ferdinand’s forearm to pull him into a west-facing archway of the monastery.

“Professor!” Edelgard’s desperate shout followed him as if chastising his choice. A true vassal to the Imperial throne would find a way through, over, or around the debris. He knew that was foolish. Hubert likely would’ve died trying something so brazen, but still, his grip on Ferdinand tightened while he followed his tactical retreat.

Abruptly, their roles of leader and follower changed. He felt Ferdinand stop short and pull Hubert back before the rocks above tore apart the stone bridge in front of them leading to safety. “Be careful,” Ferdinand did chastise him, frowning. “I have told you before, you are too quick to put yourself in harm’s way.”

“You would have made it,” Hubert insisted flatly, keeping his distance from the crumbling ledge to examine the gap. With each roar from inside, more fell away. They would have to jump, and they were running out of time. He had scarcely turned to Ferdinand to say as much when the blur of brilliant reds, golds, and long curls of orange hair blurred past Hubert to the other side with a solid thump. He spun on a heel, grinning and arms open wide.

“And now for you!”

“Yes,” he agreed, swallowing. “Now for me.” He slid his foot out towards the ledge, careful not to lift it and place it anywhere that might be unstable. His feet should be positioned shoulder-width apart for stability. The distance he had to jump was just shy of two meters, nothing to be concerned with. Hubert could jump up to two and half with a running start, which he didn’t need. All he had to do was make the leap.

“Yes, now would be delightful,” Ferdinand encouraged, the unspoken question dappling in his eyes like sunlight across a pond. Hubert noted that he should read less poetry, regardless of what Ferdinand insisted upon.

“I’m simply preparing,” Hubert spoke over another distant roar that shook the nearby window, rattling through his legs unhelpfully. He must have blanched at it because the next response he saw from Ferdinand was realization. Eyebrow-raising, surprised discovery that Hubert, the cunning spymaster with a sinister reputation shrouded in shadows, was afraid of heights.

“Well, I advise you to use that brilliant mind of yours to prepare faster, Hubert,” he aimed for keeping the mood light, mixing paralytic dread with an unsolicited compliment that merely served to make his heart pound faster.

“Not now, Ferdinand,” he hissed, analyzing the gap again. All he had to do was push off and prepare himself to land uninjured on the opposite side. Locking his legs or freezing up mid-jump would almost surely lead to a sprain or worse, and Linhardt would never let him hear the end of it.

“Actually, now is the perfect time,” Ferdinand answered, somewhat strained and entirely missing the point.

“I meant you shouldn’t distract me!”

The silence that earned him was promising, but it didn’t last. Not due to the falling stones or the dragon within the castle they were attempting to escape, but—of course—Ferdinand.

“Is it distracting when I compliment you, Hubert?”

Lifting his attention from the gap to the smiling prime minister in front of him, Hubert thought the phrase don’t you dare with such intensity that he was certain it would be conveyed directly to Ferdinand. Sadly, that wasn’t so.

“Then perhaps you should use those long, graceful legs of yours to cross this gap to safety.”

The strangled noise that came from him was both embarrassing and indignant, but at least it got Hubert to move again. Moving to where the gap was smaller and out of the reach of any new rocks that might fall, Hubert bent his knees and—planned. Ignoring Ferdinand, he did his best to focus on the best method to safely cross that distance rather than the grinning man holding his arms open from a safe place.

“Surely, you must know I am very capable of catching you as you leap into my arms! Your impressive height is exceptionally attractive, I will grant you that,” he said lightly, but his faint, enduring blush suggested there was more honesty to it than he meant to share. Which only intensified the effect it had on Hubert’s ability to think. “But I’m certain my considerable strength will be more than enough to support you.”

Ferdinand,” he scolded, or tried to, but it was difficult to take himself seriously when he felt warmth creeping into his face to replace the dank chill of fear.

“What is it, Hubert? I am only eager to assist you. After all, I could never allow harm to befall someone as beloved to me as you!”

“That’s quite enough of your mockery,” he attempted to enforce his prior stance, but it felt strained and disjointed even in his own mind. The one fear he could never shake, and the one bright-eyed noble he could never fully resent no matter how venomous their arguments, and now Hubert had to contend with both. Once more for good measure, Hubert cursed the goddess for her wanton cruelty.

“It’s no mockery,” he corrected, smiling as though they weren’t on a crumbling bridge and every second Hubert wasted was another when they were all in danger. “But if you truly wish me to stop, you must jump, Hubert.”

“Do you think I’m not trying?!”

“I know you are, as you apply yourself with all that you have to every task you undertake,” he praised freely while an ominous crack carried through the stone wall running alongside the former bridge, bringing down a cloud of dust behind Ferdinand. “And I know I’ll have you in my arms, safe and sound, not a moment too late.”

At last, the discomfort of his very sentimental, dramatic, and very public proclamations overpowered the fear of falling. It didn’t even matter that there was no one in sight but them to hear it. Hubert ran ahead, pushing off as the stone gave way beneath him and he stumbled into Ferdinand’s steady arms. For a second, they simply stared at one another, Ferdinand with his arm behind Hubert’s back for support and Hubert with his hand using Ferdinand’s shoulder for balance.

“Now you see how insightful I am,” Ferdinand masked his relief poorly, the concern fading from his marigold eyes and smoothing out his wrinkled brow. “Don’t I get a reward for rescuing such a handso—”

“The castle is still falling,” Hubert interrupted, rushed and repositioning to stand on his own.

“And I must insist you follow me to safety!”

Allowing Ferdinand to take his gloved hand with his gauntled one, Hubert went along with his heroics. He did rescue him, after all. But that would be reward enough. If he wanted more than that from Hubert, Ferdinand would no doubt find a way to those results with his usual persistent optimism. As for Hubert trailing after him, hand-in-hand down unstable staircases and over a notably sturdier bridge into war-torn fields, he was rewarded by the knowledge that he’d been correct about overcoming his fear of heights in one regard. The view was certainly something to behold.


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Ferdinand von Aegir from Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Confessions: Ferdibert Week 2020 FE3H Fanfiction

Word count: 1800 (3 to 15 minutes) | Rating: T | Fire Emblem: Three Houses Fanfiction | Characters: Ferdinand von Aegir and Hubert von Vestra


There was a war on, and Hubert was very much preoccupied with all that entailed. Security for the monastery grounds. Close correspondence with his agents acting against Those Who Slither in the Dark. Protection for the members of the Black Eagle Strike Force when the professor travelled with them to address minor issues that came up seemingly every week.

Byleth took over managing the supplies for Her Majesty’s forces and the strategy for the Strike Force, and at first, Hubert was somewhat disquieted by that. But when that had passed, silent gratitude took its place. That spare time afforded him the ability to take a clandestine trip to a secured but abandoned chapel near the monastery grounds, where he could rehearse a vital speech in private.

This was his third time through that evening, but there could not be enough repetition. Past experience with the Adrestian prime minister suggested that Hubert was likely to forget the true nature of his sentiments when the subject of his affections was in front of him—he would either say nothing at all or something else entirely. Ferdinand deserved better from him, and if Hubert could not muster the focus to accomplish that, then Ferdinand had many other prospects to consider.

Turning to pace down the space between the pews again, Hubert continued his rehearsal. “I had hoped to wait until the war had ended, but it seems my heart will not allow it. And Her Majesty has urged me to follow that impulse—to you.” He held a gloved hand out to the open space in front of him, dark and cast in colored moonlight through dusty stained glass. Sighing, he ran that hand through his hair. “This is foolish.”

The unsteady nervousness disappeared once Hubert saw motion in the shrubs outside the window, conjuring a molten dark spell in his palm. “Who’s there? Name yourself.” They would come forward or they would attempt to flee. Regardless, Hubert would have the culprit and answers for how they got so close without him realizing their approach.

“Hubert, wait! It’s only me.” The tension of battle readiness fell away as he dismissed the spell, and a sickening twist of dread at Ferdinand in the open doorway took its place. How much had he heard? How long had he been there? Hubert heard about his solitary escapade into enemy territory on behalf of Mercedes, and Ferdinand heard at great length precisely what the Adrestian spymaster thought of such an excursion, but it never once occurred to him that Ferdinand could sneak up on even him.

“…Ferdinand. What are you doing out here at this hour?”

Smiling sheepishly, he ducked his head and scratched at his cheek absently. Every little thought that went through his intrepid mind played out in each gesture, every expression. They always had, but Hubert had taken years to see past his disdain to the truth of his colleague’s nature. Hubert didn’t believe in any deity, but the present situation certainly felt like divine retribution for how he’d originally treated Ferdinand.

“I confess, sleep eluded me. I was on a walk with my horse when I saw someone in the abandoned chapel.”

Looking out the window to his favorite horse secured to a tree branch, Hubert only nodded numbly. He was not an easy man to frighten, but his heartbeat refused to slow even though there had never been any danger to start with. “I see.”

“And I feel it is only fair to admit that I heard you as well.” That snapped Hubert’s attention back to Ferdinand, looking repentant but not particularly in favor or disgusted either way beyond that. So much for that awareness of Ferdinand’s thoughts and feelings… Something so inconsistent truly felt devised to torment Hubert.

Ferdinand continued in the coiled silence that followed his announcement, either undaunted or ignorant of the concerns competing for Hubert’s attention. “The portion of your confession I heard was exceptionally romantic, Hubert. I’m sure whoever has captured your heart will be delighted.” Although… Now it was Ferdinand who sounded stiff and rehearsed. His typically outgoing behavior, which was even tactless at times, could only be dispelled due to awkwardness or obligation. Neither boded well.

“No. It’s not—” Hubert exhaled through his nose, closing his eyes. How would he recover from this? It was simply a matter of strategy, which cleared a path to an honest response. Looking to Ferdinand and crossing his arms, Hubert took pride in the level tone of his reply. “It’s not ready yet.”

“Oh, so you are practicing? A wise decision,” Ferdinand praised, still somewhat forced but more sincere than the previous remark. He looked towards Hubert directly, at least, and that had to be considered a success. “Would you prefer to speak to—someone?”

The offer took a moment to reach Hubert, who studied him in silence and dimly lit shadow. “Pardon?”

“I mean, you could rehearse your confession with someone willing to help. With me. If that is agreeable to you,” he tacked on, smiling and uncertainty obvious in his eyes even at their distance.

If this were a strategy game, this would be a timed turn. An embarrassing parallel, to be sure, but none but Hubert had to know about it. This was not an obliged reply, and far more than what one would expect even a close friend to offer. Awkwardness would have encouraged him to end the conversation as soon as possible, not continue further into the subject matter that caused the discomfort to begin with.

“Very well. I accept,” Hubert said more calmly than he felt. He was less distressed than when he first discovered Ferdinand, but he still had no concrete evidence to suggest he was in familiar emotional territory.

“You do? Ah, yes,” Ferdinand regained his footing in the conversation, drawing himself up and joining Hubert between the rows of abandoned pews for a false religion they had already begun to dismantle with this war. Whatever came of the evening, there was potentially a measure of symbolism in this. Confessing his feelings to Ferdinand, whether he knew it or not, in the forgotten chapel of a derelict religion they were helping destroy… It did appeal to him. “I am ready whenever you are.”

As he suspected, much of his lengthy speech vanished from his mind now that he was here to give it. What he could manage, he shared. “I appreciate you taking the time to answer my summons. I’m well aware that we both have extensive obligations to tend to,” he acknowledged, gesturing to Ferdinand, who stood equally uneasy and eager. “Therefore, I will keep this brief. My original intention was to discuss this matter with you after we brought an end to the war, but it would seem my heart will simply not allow it.”

The unsettled wavering warred with Ferdinand’s bright-eyed optimism right before Hubert, leaving them both to struggle making eye contact. All at once, Hubert realized there was a potential scenario that Ferdinand had asked to practice with Hubert because he wanted to hear what it was like to have him confess those feelings. Which he would only want for mockery or to play out a personal daydream, and Ferdinand would never resort to such low conduct as taunting him for emotional vulnerability. He’d had ample opportunities before this if he were interested in doing so.

And if Hubert was mistaken, that would be easily forgiven and forgotten. He had done so much worse to Ferdinand and with intention behind it at that. This was nothing next to his extensive history of cruel indifference to Ferdinand’s feelings.

Taking another step forward until they were barely a hand length apart, Hubert finished the part of his declaration that he recalled. “After bringing this to Her Majesty, she has urged me to follow that impulse—to you. And I believe you may suspect this already, but I love you—” A moment of hesitant breathlessness suspended between the two of them as weighty and charged as any spell. And was it not a certain kind of magic that they’d evolved from vehement hatred in their academy days to this instance, where Hubert could bring himself to take a risk offering only a marginal chance for positive results? “Ferdinand von Aegir.”

Staying put, Ferdinand answered with a shaky laugh that pulled Hubert’s heart down through his ribs. He had mistaken the atmosphere and his motive after all. “Yes, that—that was very touching, Hubert.” Fussing with his cravat, he could barely hold his gaze on Hubert for more than a second at a time. How had he gone from so rapt to so ashamed? Was he genuinely that repulsed by the prospect? “I, for one, am impressed. Quite so. She is fortunate. Or he. Whoever they are.”

“Ferdinand,” he tried again, more desperate now than hopeful as he was prior. But what was there to lose now that he’d already made a fool of himself? The last effort he could give was to make it painfully clear what the truth was.

“Yes, Hubert?”

“It’s you. The confession is for you.”

Wide-eyed with a frozen smile, Ferdinand simply stood there as if actually encased in ice. The change from that paralytic state to lifting Hubert up with built, powerful arms was so abrupt that Hubert scarcely had time to brace himself on Ferdinand’s forearms. Just as suddenly, Ferdinand spun them in a circle and dropped Hubert down in the opposite place from where he began. Hands still on his hips, Ferdinand laughed light and free as a bird on the wing.

“I could not help myself!” A poor apology and ingenuine, but the most Hubert could expect. He didn’t enjoy the unannounced aspect of it, but the demonstration of Ferdinand’s strength and enthusiasm did serve him well. “All of that was for me? Sincerely?”

“Y-yes.” Hubert rested his hands on Ferdinand’s arms still as well, unsure of if or where to move them. Everything had changed in more ways than he could account for.

“I thought someone as exacting as you, and someone I have fought so bitterly over the years, that you would never—but I am rambling.” Shaking his head, Ferdinand relaxed his grip on Hubert but did not release him. By then, it would be preferred that he didn’t. “You hold romantic feelings for me, and I do for you as well!” Leaning in and tilting his head up, Ferdinand placed a gentle kiss that lingered on his cheek. Soft and unsure but heartfelt, and their first. What else did the kiss need to be for it to be treasured? “I love you, Hubert. I have for many moons now.”

“Moons, you say,” he teased, resting his forehead to Ferdinand’s with a weightless smile. “Then I have you beaten there.”


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You Will Live Ch. 8: The Vote | FE3H Fanfiction

Word count: 1426 (4 to 15 minutes) | Rating: M | Note: Fire Emblem: Three Houses Spoilers | Characters: Count Bergliez, Ferdinand, Claude, Dedue, Dimitri, Byleth, Dorothea, Hanneman, Linhardt, Caspar, and Hubert

Read the previous chapter.

The great hall of the castle was far too public for a lecture for Hubert’s preferences, but he’d lost the right to correct errors of that nature when the Empire lost. Count Bergliez remained adamantly unhelpful with an impish smirk and more silence than he’d ever known the man to display. Various allies had already gathered, most from the former Black Eagle house, and they’d already summoned His Highness and Byleth to join them shortly.

Hanneman, of course, led the scolding due to his misguided and unwanted endeavor to be paternal with Hubert. If that habit wasn’t so irritating, Hubert it would almost have been impressed that he’d held onto it for so many years. “Why would you not retreat to the palace? We might have defended you here, my boy.”

Hubert didn’t hesitate in his barbed, methodical response. Since they insisted on dressing him down publicly, he would return that favor. “And bring assassins straight to the gates? Never.”

Next in line was evidently Dorothea, who was markedly more likely to give as good as she got. Stepping into his space and jabbing a finger on his chest, she took her turn with the expected determination. “They were obviously not willing to attack directly, Hubie,” she observed, pouting in such a way that was designed for devastating effect—despite her awareness that these effects were meaningless against Hubert. Just as his intimidating frown glanced off her to no avail. “They waited for you to leave, so coming back would have kept you safe.”

“Hardly.” He was used to having to explain himself and strategy alike, so this conversation had taken a very slightly easier turn. “Once they realized where I was headed, my pursuers would have only become desperate to finish the job before I entered the palace walls.” Caspar looked worriedly at Linhardt for confirmation, who simply shrugged permissibly. At least he had the logical disposition to realize Hubert was speaking to reason. Crossing his arms and adamantly not looking at Ferdinand, he concluded, “Worse, if they believed they were identified, it could push them to act rashly when they had nothing to lose. What if they had aimed for more than only my life?”

Never one to be ignored, Ferdinand burst through to Dorothea’s side with a fire in his eyes. “Only?!”

The shift was subtle but instantaneous, and Dorothea quirked an eyebrow as she glanced between them. Hubert tensed the moment Ferdinand approached, attempting to draw his guard up only to find it faltering. Something had changed since Ferdinand sat beside him and Her Majesty, perhaps irredeemably, and now Dorothea had sensed it. She was a good woman with a caring heart despite her burdens, but she was also insufferably nosy and horrid gossip.

This was precisely why lectures did not take place in the great hall.

“He’s correct,” Dedue interceded, possibly unaware of the surrounding circumstances. King Dimitri, Byleth, Seteth, and Claude arrived with him, although Hubert supposed it was more accurate to state they arrived with His Highness.

“That he is,” Claude nodded, confident and smiling as if the idea were his. He probably would have done the same. “Not that there were many left to come after you.”

Praise or criticism, it scarcely mattered to Hubert. Whatever they wanted to discuss, he would have preferred to be looking after Her Majesty rather than drawn into it. Count Bergliez was popular enough with the people to dispel any misconceptions of his fealty to Lady Edelgard. Furthermore, the victors of the war had more to contend with than assassins hunting down the vassal to the fallen enemy leader. In a way, allowing it to go unchecked would do them a favor.

“Perhaps we should consider the contributions Hubert can make to our cause,” Seteth remarked as they made their approach. He wore a mask of neutrality, but the cold undertone of his voice revealed his true agenda. Seteth wanted Hubert removed from the strike team laying siege to Shambhala. “Now that he is a target for treason, he will draw unwanted attention.”

Before Hubert could utter a syllable about where Seteth would find himself if he tried to stop him, Lord Bergliez let out a single, boisterous laugh reserved for jokes that are more offensive than they are entertaining.

“Look at you, talking like a proper big fish. We all know the Church doesn’t have enough power to tell a peasant where to put his chamber pot,” he barked in a characteristically brusque manner, grinning up at Seteth like he’d just won his house in a bet. “If you think you’ve got the might to force the issue, I invite you to go for it. I could personally defeat what remains of your knights before it was time for lunch. Show some of that sagely wisdom you project and bear that in mind next time you get the brilliant idea to open your mouth.”

Seteth took the advice and kept quiet, allowing everyone to hear Caspar loudly whispering to Linhardt. “Ooh, my father got him good!”

No doubt intent on playing peacekeeper, Byleth broke the silence. “We should decide by vote.”

“An excellent suggestion,” Ferdinand agreed, more serious than usual regardless of his steady smile. There was a grounded quality to his voice that was an unmistakable sign that he was sharing an idea he’d given extensive consideration to. Gesturing to King Dimitri, he made his case. “As well, it would benefit us to restore the Empire’s trust in Hubert. Peace is built on stability, and Adrestia is at turning point in history. With this much change, providing more certainty by addressing these concerns is better than allowing rumors to spread.”

“You’ve both done exceptional work here,” Dimitri spared the time to commend them. “Let us move forward with both.”


The council session was comprised of representatives to best capture the current political terrain of Fódlan: two for the Alliance, two for the Empire, one for the Church, one for the Kingdom (at Dimitri’s insistence) and one for Brigid with Petra’s recent arrival.

Hubert was not permitted attendance, of course. He was under review as a potential security risk and his presence with the committee was evidently a hazard. By which, Hubert knew they meant he would frighten dishonest votes out of the representatives merely by being in the room. It was something of a compliment despite its profound inconvenience.

With no duty to occupy his time aside from his final commitment to Her Majesty, which he had no direct oversight of, Hubert preoccupied himself with assessing the likelihood of his success in a random study of the Enbarr palace. His office was no longer his, naturally. Hubert was not to be told who was taking vote, but the conference hall was closed, and the process of elimination made quick work of determining some of the representatives for himself.

Petra was obviously voting. Her return from her home country with reinforcements came earlier than expected and led to the inclusion of Brigid in the vote to begin with. Ungratefulness to Her Majesty aside, Petra had a sort of friendship with Hubert before the war began. But then again, there was the fact that Petra had declined Lady Edelgard’s personal invitation to their side of the fight. With a sip of coffee cold from neglect, Hubert resigned himself to the reality that her vote could go either way.

Next were Lorenz and Claude, whose votes would negate each other if the past was any indication. Lorenz was almost guaranteed to vote against him, and Claude’s tactical side would encourage him to vote in favor of Hubert.

He was unable to determine the Empire or Kingdom representatives, since everyone he initially assumed was either tasked with various duties and therefore not guaranteed to be in the conference hall or so far removed from the leading officials that Hubert hadn’t considered them. With Seteth’s clear disdain taken into account, that left him with narrow odds of success. While Hubert was well-acquainted with those, his influence over the odds was usually more direct.

Even if they voted that he should remain behind, Hubert decided he would personally ensure the downfall of the Agarthans regardless. That was the very last service he would ever see to for Her Majesty, and Hubert could not possibly recover from permitting anyone to carry it out without him. The path to that end would certainly be easier if they accepted his role in this, but since when had the temptation of an easy path held any sway over Hubert?


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You Will Live Ch. 7: To Ashes | FE3H Fanfiction

Word count: 3275 (7 to 26 minutes) | Rating: M | Note: Fire Emblem: Three Houses Spoilers | Characters: Count Bergliez, Ferdinand, and Hubert

Trigger Warning: Thoughts of an Honorable Death/Martyrdom

Read the previous chapter.

Her Majesty’s cremation had been arranged that same day through the finest of Hubert’s remaining agents—all of whom he’d had to disclose to Shamir, naturally. In the state of Fódlan following the fall on Enbarr, it would be safest for them to be monitored by the allies of King Dimitri. If any rebellious factions existed within the new rule, clear communication between the Empire and the Kingdom would accelerate their demise should they act against one power or the other.

All things considered, Adrestia’s ongoing integration into the surrounding nations of Fódlan led by King Dimitri was sudden but painless. There was none of the rampant violence against the losing party and political plundering that typically marked such shifts in power. Of course, Hubert had been stripped of his title and was effectively penniless and homeless without the current support he was permitted from King Dimitri. His court was not comprised of fools, and that act was no mistake. Hubert was in no position to bite the hand that fed him.

And he was well fed in that hypothetical sense.

The most loyal of Dimitri’s men was assigned to Her Majesty’s travel alongside Hubert’s own agents, a gesture of impressive goodwill. Still, that did not discourage Hubert from going as well. Serving Her Majesty was his sworn purpose and he would oversee her care even now.

Affixing his travelling robe in his quarters for that trip, Hubert was interrupted by a short knock.

“Enter,” he allowed, knowing that regardless of who it was, he likely did not have enough sway in the new regime quite yet to turn them away.

“Good morning, Hubert!” Ferdinand greeted, his smile every bit as bright as it should be, but the faint wrinkle in his brow revealed that he was moderately worried. Years spent watching him and learning his tells rewarded Hubert with near-perfect clarity into Ferdinand’s mental state that was likely not one-sided.

Naturally, or why would Ferdinand be concerned? He chose the side that won the war, achieving his standing both in history and close to the newly established government. Recent events were in his favor. The solitary unpredictable aspect of his life was Hubert himself.

“You are preparing to head out, I take it. Where are you headed so early?”

Hubert was well past trying to confine himself to viewing Ferdinand as a captor or bitter former friend—bawling in front of him like an infant and grasping for his hand to completely expose his fragility saw to that. Now, Ferdinand was only an awkward reminder of Hubert’s own shameful weakness and instability.

He did not look at Ferdinand to respond, checking on clasps on his robe instead that did not particularly need to be checked. “I have been up for hours, Ferdinand. There is business I must attend to.”

“Ah, of course.” The careful pause there essentially guaranteed Ferdinand was acutely aware that Hubert was withholding something. Gracious as ever, he did not mention it but simply stood in the doorway of his room. “If there is anything I can assist you with, I would be more than happy to contribute my support.”

“And I am grateful, but this matter is one I must handle personally.” He turned from the mirror, his black and red cloak sweeping with the motion, and waited for Ferdinand to move aside as he approached. When that did not happen, Hubert frowned and crossed his arms to make his stance on this even clearer. “Urgently.”

“It is for Edelgard, then?”

Tight silence pierced the space between them. Whether from true irritation or grief and the irrational sentiments accompanying it, Hubert did not know and didn’t care to find out when he did have a timeline to keep.

“I apologize,” Ferdinand offered in contrition, shaking his head. From how carefully he was put together today, one never would have guessed he had been in combat with the same man he spoke to only yesterday. Subtle traces of cologne hovered about Ferdinand as though he were a walking garden, pleasant but not overpowering. His hair shone with what Hubert recognized as the hair oil commonly used in Brigid (a gift from Petra, then).

In place of his ornate combat gear was an expertly tailored crimson jacket accompanied by a white silken cravat secured with a black crow pin. Next to Ferdinand’s usual aesthetics, it seemed somewhat out of place, but it hardly came as a surprise that he had to make do during a time of widespread war.

“I did not mean to open any wounds, Hubert. I thought you may wish to talk about it, nothing more.” Awkwardness replaced the tension as Ferdinand stepped aside, continuing the conversation heedlessly. Hubert could have communicated as much by walking away before he was done, but—

It did not matter why he remained, only that he did. He could muster that much.

“To be honest, I came only to invite you to afternoon tea,” his voice lightened, smile widening. “The rain will keep us from the gardens, but there are covered awnings by the dance hall that will serve nicely for privacy and a splendid view.”

“While that is thoughtful of you,” he answered flatly, stepped out into the hall with the confidence Ferdinand would not take advantage of his absence to rifle through his quarters (especially when both the Alliance and Kingdom guards had already done so). Pausing to glance back, he gave Ferdinand advice he would hopefully be wise enough to take. Any affiliation between them was not only uncomfortable for Hubert but unwise for Ferdinand. “I have far too much to consider at present. You might invite Dorothea in my stead. I am certain she would be delighted.”

“Yes. I understand.” The crestfallen falter of his posture and smile indicated otherwise, bearing an unsettling pressure down on Hubert’s chest. That dejection was how Hubert thanked him for his consolation last night when no one else offered. Or even potentially could have—Hubert was a forbidding man on a pleasant day. “Well, if your schedule changes—”

“You will be the first to know.”

By then, the pressing need to be away from that conversation overpowered Hubert, who departed without so much as a goodbye. He descended the staircase and left through the palace foyer entrance, not once turning back. A step in the right direction to his reputed strength of will no matter the crushing darkness surrounding him. The sooner Ferdinand accepted it, the better off both of them would be.


Their destination was at the edge of the capital’s market district, isolated enough to make anyone who should not be there stand out easily, but populated enough as to not leave room for a close-quarters ambush. The woman overseeing the cremation of Her Majesty was a long-time friend of the Hresvelg line, sharing a similar lineage as House Vestra. His agents and the Kingdom’s reinforcements were placed in formation to ensure a swift response in the event of an attack en route.

The recent rain left a metallic trace in the air and made certain pathways slicker than usual, but any damage from combat had been primarily contained to the portion of the city between the invading armies and the palace. Headed in the opposite direction, they had no cause for concern. Enbarr was a resilient city with stout buildings that did not fall easily. As the citizens came back now that the evacuation orders preceding the siege had lifted, the capital’s routine was returning to normal. Whatever else might occur, the Adrestian people would not be severely hindered by their loss.

Strategically, the resulting environment was a challenging one for moving her body. With citizens and foreign powers settling in, it was all too easy for a malicious entity to sneak past unnoticed. Therefore, every aspect of Her Majesty’s transit, down to the carriage transporting her from the palace to the crematorium, had been carefully planned and reviewed to the fullest in the short time Hubert had to prepare it.

Hubert himself took up the rear guard so he could secure their safe passage by delaying pursuers if necessary. His recovery was far enough along that if he didn’t sustain any direct attacks, he would be more than capable of handling several opponents. Linhardt was not awake before he departed, so that was Hubert’s best assessment. The alternative had been to ask Dorothea and he could not risk the chance that she’d want to socialize or question him, refusing to take no for an answer as only the former opera singer could.

There were other healers, of course, but… Hubert would just as soon not speak to anyone who was not of the Black Eagle House if he could avoid it. There was no sense in potentially stirring up animosity at such an uncertain time.

The beginning of their voyage was unremarkable. A glance was sufficient to determine their agenda—what else but funerary plans would bring the Imperial Minister out accompanied by Kingdom guards?—but the residents of Enbarr had their own business to attend to. The city did need repairs, and the Alliance soldiers were lending aid to that end. Shops were re-opening and families returned to their homes. Life continued on.

It wasn’t until they reached the less populated region of the city, nearing the crematory, that Hubert fully realized they were being tailed. He suspected as much before then, since these were hardly professionals with any nation or the Agarthans. But their flanking formation once they reached the outskirts of the market was all the confirmation that they were certainly targeting them.

More accurately, they were looking to isolate one person from the rest: Hubert himself.

Very well. If that is what they want, they will have it.

With a gesture pre-established with his agents, Hubert ordered them to go ahead while he lingered further back. His team coordinated the new formation with Dimitri’s soldiers, as expected, and they obeyed to best represent their king. The quiet that fell as the carriage and entourage went ahead without him was as brief as it was taut.

Seeing their opportunity or realizing they’d been made, the people tailing them closed in on Hubert almost immediately after the carriage was out of view. A close-range cast of Miasma rushed through him, and the first attacker died swiftly in the blast. Seamlessly, he conjured an outwardly aimed Dark Spikes that either wounded or slaughtered a handful of the others drawing close. He was alone, but hardly an easy mark.

Still, other than his magic, Hubert was unarmed. In the magically charged lapse following his initial defense, he stole a spear from the corpse closest to him, turning in time to skewer one of the enemies who survived that attack. Over his shoulder, he blindly cast another charge of Miasma and based on the wailing behind him, he hit his mark.

“Traitor,” the man pierced by spear fought out, grunting. Hubert had missed his lungs, then. “You traitor!”

Hit by a nauseating sense of freefall, crushing despite its distance in his mind, Hubert kept his outward calm. This was a battlefield, city or not. But the very idea that he had betrayed Her Majesty was so widespread a rumor so soon after her passing—

In the short time following the fall of Enbarr, enough like-minded citizens from Adrestia believed Hubert to be a conspirator against Lady Edelgard that they could gather and piece together a plan that made this ambush possible.

“You fool.” Hubert could afford derision when he was dealing with the last enemy currently capable of standing. The remaining were still assessing their injuries or laying deathly still in the dirt or on the stone streets. Did it matter which? Revulsion at their assumption blended with dread at being stripped of his legendary devotion to Her Majesty by her very own people, their people, and Hubert sneered at the pierced man in front of him. “I remain alive on her ord—”

An arrow pierced his left shoulder, killing the rest of his sentence with the sudden pain. The spear remained steady in his hands, but he would have to choose between that and casting a spell at the overlooked archer.

Sloppy.

The assailants previously held back by the magic spikes had recovered, as much as they were going to, and they were advancing once more. The archer, wherever they were, would be nocking another arrow.

Hubert drove the spear through the man before him, pushing his inevitable corpse away to call upon Mire for its greater range. This area was too narrow for a spell broader than that dark magic raining down on them, but it would have to suffice. Hubert would not survive the assault if they all reached him at once. Before he could crush it, the thought occurred to him that a fate such as that might not be so terrible. He could die in Enbarr, defending Her Majesty just as he originally intended.

Regardless, it would not be by surrender.

The next arrow to fly landed in the leg of an enemy, dropping her to the stone street and scattering the others as they tried to identify the source. They only encountered another wave of guards blocking their retreat, whose armor was marked with the sigil of House Bergliez. Hubert barely had time to dismiss the next spell he’d been calling on before the head of that house approached from the opposite direction.

Of course Count Bergliez had known where he would be. He knew that Her Majesty perished in the battle, and he knew where the Imperial crematorium was. And there was no doubting he’d be certain that Hubert would attend. He might have worried that he was present for the same reason as the original attackers if his guards weren’t blocking them in. No, he was here strictly to defend Hubert in an unsurprising moment of foresight (that Hubert was ashamed not to have shared). Much like Caspar, Count Bergliez was not especially intellectual, but he possessed exceptional instincts along with an innate understanding of the people.

“Hubert, my boy,” he began, a chastising lecture waiting in that boisterous greeting. Despite his ranking, Caspar’s father was all too likely to treat Hubert as an honorary son rather than an Imperial minister. “The Empire loses a leader yesterday, and you try to follow her into the dark, is that it? Not sure what else you’re trying for, wounded and fighting alone out here.”

“Count Bergliez,” he answered, winded. “Good morning.”

That booming laugh he got in response really did remind Hubert of Caspar. No wonder the two were on relatively good terms despite the situation that led Caspar to enroll at Garreg Mach monastery. A shame his eldest son was such an indolent, avaricious fool. “Good morning, he says! For a mage, you really know how to work through pain.”

“Call it a gift,” he dismissed, not sharing in his good humor. Count Bergliez was a good man—there was a reason he had not been displaced during Her Majesty’s reign—but Hubert was short on patience. “Now, I must attend to Her Majesty’s—”

“Oh no,” Count Bergliez essentially forbid, pressing a hand to Hubert’s lower back to steer him while staying well clear of the arrow buried in his shoulder. “We’re going to heal you up, then send you back to the palace.”

“No, I—”

“If any of you are Adrestian,” a wounded woman interrupted hoarsely from the blood-stained street, “you’ll kill that bloody traitor!”

“Wait your damn turn,” Count Bergliez ordered as if she was just another of his many children being demanding. Waving someone over from beyond his line of guards, he went ahead with his own agenda. “Healer! Get over here.”

Placing another hand in front of Hubert’s shoulder, framing the site of the injury from the arrow, Count Bergliez looked Hubert in the eye. The worst was yet to come. The initial shock of the wound had passed to an aching throb, but that would change shortly. “Ready?”

“By all means.”

He grimaced as the shaft of the arrow shifted with the force Count Bergliez had to exert in breaking off the fletching. The easiest way for the arrow to be removed was the way it was intended to work in the first place—the point leading out. Splinters would be minimal and work themselves out over the course of a few days.

“One more to go,” Count Bergliez needlessly pointed out, polite in his own gruff manner. With a swift yank, he pulled the arrow out with a small grunt from Hubert, and the healer was on him in instant to cast faith magic and close the wound. He would be sore, but still operable for their journey to Shambhala.

“Well done,” Caspar’s father praised, a hearty smack to his back that caused Hubert to stagger in catching himself. “Now let’s see what this young lady has to say, hm?”

Of course, that is when the injured women on the ground chose to shrink away and fall silent. She tried and failed to pull herself up, a hopeless effort with an arrow in her leg and the rush of battle long behind them. “I won’t give you any names.”

“What the hell would I want names for?” Count Bergliez laughed, kneeling down to the woman. She was certainly Adrestian, light brown hair matted to her face with blood from her fall after that arrow pierced her thigh. If she got help soon, she’d recover within a week. “I just want you to finish your little speech. And don’t get smart about it, no one wants this to get messy. So, what’ll it be?”

Hubert barely glanced her way, feigning disinterest even as he direly needed her insight to piece together how far this perception of him betraying Her Majesty had spread. If it had taken root in the whole nation or spread swiftly enough, it may as well be an official exile. But to where? Adrestia was his home and where Her Majesty would be laid to rest. The sooner Hubert discovered the severity of this rumor, the sooner he could devise a strategy to counter it.

Keeping her attention on the count, she bit her lip and weighed her options. “He… he’s a turncoat and an impostor. House Vestra protects the emperor, but the moment she died, he’s working with the Beast King,” she spat through a snarl, finding her courage again despite the tremble in her hands. “He doesn’t deserve to live!”

In combat, Hubert had internally all but agreed with her. He glanced away from her, staring instead at her peers in shackles provided by the Bergliez Guard. They covered a range of people within the Empire, although some were in better condition than others. The degree of their tans or scarring helped Hubert place if they worked indoors or out, primarily with their hands or with their minds. Most of them stared straight ahead, an unyielding resolve in the face of failure that pointed to a powerful belief in their cause.

The thought sickened him once again, and Hubert scowled on instinct. There were a few who glared back at him, but that made no difference to him. Him, Hubert von Vestra, betraying Lady Edelgard? It was difficult to distinguish the indignant rage at the accusation from the genuine fear that the rumor was strong enough to be viewed as fact. He did not care that he lost his title and all his holdings, but to lose his reputation as her unwaveringly devoted minister? That was the one part of him that mattered most to Hubert. If she were alive to stand beside him, it would not have mattered nearly as much. All he needed was for her to believe.

But she was not here. Only he was. That was what she wanted for him. He was following her will. That consolation next to such a loss was as far-removed as seeing light from the bottom of a well.

“Right,” Count Bergliez dismissed her behind him, his disbelief obvious. “Acting fast only works if you think, you know that?” Standing up to the sound of his armor plates moving together, he strode forward to appear in Hubert’s vision and gesture to his available guards. “Round up the wounded and take them to the cells of the palace. We’ll sort this blasted mess out once we clean up the street.”

Putting a guiding hand on Hubert’s ‘good’ shoulder, Count Bergliez pulled him in. “And you stick with me until you’re inside palace walls. You always did get a little stupid without Lady Edelgard around.”

Hubert scoffed, but there was no effective method to telling Caspar’s father no. Besides, he would know all too well what Hubert became without Lady Edelgard. As one of few who got through to Hubert during Her Majesty’s absence in their youth, Count Bergliez was uniquely qualified.


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Web of Love | Claude Edition Ch. 1: So it Begins

Word count: 840 (2 to 7 minutes) | Rating: T | Note: Fire Emblem: Three Houses Spoilers | Characters: Hubert and Claude


“Hubert, my friend,” Claude greeted, striding into the makeshift poisons lab he and Hubert carved out of one of the abandoned ruins dotting the vast Garreg Mach monastery grounds. Getting supplies from the greenhouse and making poisons in his room just wasn’t cutting it anymore… Seteth almost caught him last time, and that’d be a big mess to pick up, even for Claude.

The self-sacrificing servant to Edelgard barely glanced up from his workstation, where he was mixing some elements or another together at a safe distance.

“Claude,” Hubert acknowledged, returning to the task before him. He ran a tight ship, that Vestra. Compared to Claude’s intuitive chaos system, Hubert kept everything in order even in the neglected remains of a modest chapel. All supplies were sorted, labelled in code, and stored for easy concealment from wild animals and nosy explorers alike. Never knew when Ignatz would pick this place as the site of his next painting for the divine goddess herself, after all.

The ride by horseback to the workshop wasn’t long, sadly, so that was all the more reason to be cautious. Claude would just have to set aside time for leisurely rides on his own later. Really, he should be grateful for how close it was since the summer rains of Fódlan were just getting started at the turn of the Verdant Rain moon.

And because it would have to rain fire before Hubert considered not concocting new poisons for his sinister inventory, Claude had to make it out there somehow.

“Dutiful as ever, I’ll give you that.” He took off his cloak and after a couple good shakes, he hung it from an outcropping in the wall to dry for his ride back. Who knows what it used to be in its glory, but it made a good coat hanger in the present!

“So, how do you manage to get here before me when I never see your tracks on the way or a horse of yours nearby?”

“I am certain you would love to know,” Hubert taunted and gave not a hint or a clue, as usual of Edelgard’s most devoted.

“Oh, come on!” Claude went over to his table opposite Hubert’s, set up a good distance away for safety. Even guys as familiar with poisons as them had to be careful. “Our regular retreats for whipping up poisons have gone on for weeks now—your brews being quite a bit more deadly than mine most days, I might add—and we’ve even taken breaks for those board games you’re so fond of. Don’t I get a little hint?”

Claude grinned across the gap, packed with uneven rocks, stragglers from cleared rubble, and warm torchlight. And on the other side of the divide, a certain pale-eyed shadow peered at him, of course.

“Not a chance. You will simply have to employ that strategic mind of yours if you want to find out so badly.”

“Testing the limits of my skills, huh? I’m on to you,” Claude teased, picking out the bottles of mushrooms and crushed plants he needed for the mildly debilitating mixtures he had in mind. Hubert barely touched the low-grade stuff like that, and if it bothered him that Claude was hogging it, he didn’t say anything. And if he wanted to, Hubert would volley his absolute worst criticisms at Claude. He did, in fact. Often. So, anyway, it was probably fine.

“I very much doubt that.”

“Said like someone who doesn’t know just how close I am!”

“Is that so?” Ah, that got a rise out of him. Hubert stood back from his work, crossing his arms and sneering in that way he did when an argument struck his fancy. Or an appealing target, that too. “Tell me, what have you uncovered about me?”

“For starters, I can tell from your chats with Ferdinand outside the Officer’s Academy classrooms that your sour view of him is starting to turn sweet. Or is it spicy?”

Got him again.

Hubert fumbled his practiced scornful smirk, barely covering it with a scoff.

“What a ridiculous suggestion,” Hubert tried to recover, but it was too late. Claude was just as perceptive as Vestra himself, and his guard wasn’t as perfect as he thought. Supposed that was true of both them now, since they’d been cataloguing each other’s tells anytime they were together.

“Right, of course,” Claude agreed mockingly. He measured out the right amount of ingredients as easily as always, getting to work as he kept taunting Hubert. “How silly of me! I’ll drop the notion straight away, sir.”

“Be quiet,” Hubert hissed, digging back into his work too. The smell was foul, even at that distance, and Claude had to wonder how Hubert managed not to even cough a little.

Yeah, he was going to need help if he was ever going to capture the attention of the unstoppable sunbeam that was Ferdinand von Aegir. Lucky for Hubert that he had such a caring and invested friend in Claude!


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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

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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. 5: Not Alone | FE3H Fanfiction

Word count: 3800 (10 to 30 minutes) | Rating: M (Suicidal Thoughts)| Note: Fire Emblem: Three Houses Spoilers | Characters: Ferdinand and Hubert

Read the previous chapter.

In the hall beyond the war room, Ferdinand followed Hubert towards the staircase to the personal quarters. Passing soldiers with the gathered powers that conquered Enbarr regarded Hubert as if he were invisible or filth. It made no difference to him how he was perceived at present, though it would likely have to be addressed eventually.

For now, Hubert waited at the bottom of the stairs leading to Her Majesty’s room and beyond that, his own. The staircase hugged the wall, acting as a secure vantage point for archers in the event of a sudden siege. Pale sandstone steps framed the rich, deep red carpet like drying blood running down the center. The carpet was the same color as always and the steps were the same in number. And yet, Hubert could not drive the visual of this being her blood out of his mind, could not shake the feeling that this staircase was insurmountable.

“Hubert?” Ferdinand’s hand hovered just out of touch, and his aversion to contact drove Hubert to take the first step. He slid a gloved hand along the smooth railing as he ascended without replying.

This crushing sensation in his chest was nothing in comparison to the suffering Hubert would visit upon her first and final enemies. Her Majesty elected to die at Dimitri’s hands for her cause, and he would honor that however he could manage to. Any rage he might have felt for the King of Faerghus transferred instead to the inhuman filth that ripped Her Majesty from him not once, but twice, by giving her no option but to take the path that ended her life in more than the literal sense. As if her unnaturally shortened life was not agonizing enough on its own.

Hubert hesitated again at the top of the stairs. This was where he typically bid Lady Edelgard good evening, swore he would go straight to bed, then brewed coffee in his room and continued to work. She generally looked tired from the constant effort of the war, so her rest took priority. If that meant a series of late nights for Hubert in exchange, that was a price he gladly paid.

And now, she will never feel the weight of over-exhaustion again.

It was little comfort, staring at the guards before her door and knowing she lay lifeless within. Hubert could not rest without seeing her, and he would not rest if he did.

Fortunate, then, that he was familiar with sleepless nights.

“I will go alone,” Hubert stated, his gaze fixed on the dark double doors to her quarters. They had originally been more elaborate, but Her Majesty had them moved to upgrade the doors to the soldiers’ barracks and changed hers out for a sturdier, more practical design.

“Are you certain?” Ferdinand’s tone was sure but gentle, hardly the one of a captor or begrudging former ally that Hubert adamantly tried to perceive him as. Yes, Her Majesty’s death was simply a result of war and her express orders were for Hubert to build his own life in the aftermath. But he would not become the sort of delicate fool who would immediately throw himself at the compassion of the first old-time companion to walk beside him.

He conjured up imagery of the fight, magic and blood charging the air, to steel his heart against weakness. Hubert clenched his jaw, locking his focus on the sturdy doorway to Her Majesty’s quarters at once so close and separated by a thick smog of dread. How would the memory of her being alive that very morning reconcile with the sight of her corpse? Anticipating her presence only to be met with the cold certainty of death? She was gone to a place Hubert could not follow. Where their paths had forever been side by side, they diverged here, never to cross again. Sweat lined the palms of his gloves and Hubert held his voice steady on force of will.

“There will be two guards posted outside, so your orders will be met. I will be under supervision.”

“I did not mean strategically, Hubert. I think—”

“It does not matter what you think. You have your orders, and that should be enough,” he echoed the remark from Ferdinand at Enbarr’s gates. However much he had to injure the former Prime Minister’s pride or dignity to force him to leave, Hubert would stoop to that level.

“Since you can recall what I said before our fight with such precision, you might also remember what I said to you when I stood as your guard in the great hall.” Ferdinand spoke with conviction, firm but not harsh, the way one might address a promising soldier who had lost his sense of purpose. Infuriatingly perfect for the present situation.

“I will still forgive what you have said because I understand what your true intentions are with such cruel words.” He recognized the beginning of a Ferdinand speech when he heard one and could only hope the posted guards couldn’t overhear the outpouring of sentiment Hubert was about to be faced with. The less that was known about the nearly romantic nature of his connection to Ferdinand, the better.

“Loath as you may be to admit it, you are hurting, Hubert. You may be ill at ease in that role, but you cannot drive me away no matter what you attempt.” A hand rested lightly on Hubert’s back, threatening his emotional guard at the barest pressure. An exaggerated recoil would likewise betray his fragility and so, Hubert remained. “I will only take your pain as my own, so that sharing in it may lessen what you bear.”

The words washed over him, a rushing tide of so many things Hubert had been denied and denied himself in turn. The moment all the Black Eagles abandoned them, Hubert resolved to shut his heart on any attachment he had to them. Without their presence, it was a simple task with only a rare reminder of their companionship.

Now… How easy it would be to sink into the depths of this offered kindness and let Ferdinand shield him from the pain. It was a mercy Hubert did not deserve. If he could not keep his vow to secure Her Majesty’s victory at any cost, the penance of his suffering would have to suffice.

“As a compromise,” Ferdinand continued, ever willing to fill the silence presented by Hubert. “I will wait outside her door. If you find yourself in need, you can simply call and I will enter.”

Hubert scoffed but did not decline. If that would give Ferdinand peace of mind, he could indulge it. He stepped away from the hand against his back and just behind, Ferdinand followed his approach to the guards stationed at the entrance to Her Majesty’s room.

The guards deferred to Ferdinand, stepping aside with a nod to him alone. They let Hubert in as wordless and imperceptible as a shadow. The doors shut behind him on Ferdinand’s companionable chatter to the guards (who he no doubt knew by name).

The room was lightless, of course. In the shadows, Hubert could make out all the untouched elements of her quarters just as they always were. A cushioned bench sat at the end of her bed where she typically rested to read or sat before a specialized easel to draw in private. The easel was currently folded in a corner of the room below a mounted sigil from the Adrestian flag. Books on governmental history and flowery poetry lined a shelf beside her bed. A modest vase of fresh carnations sat on the opposite end table.

In the center of the bed waited Her Majesty. A sheet in the color of Adrestian gold rested over her form, an unnervingly still silhouette that filled the room. Her commanding presence persisted even in death. Hubert expected no less.

Calling on a fire spell with just a finger, Hubert lit a lantern on the corner table where she might call on Hubert to challenge her in a strategic board game.

The light revealed a dagger beside the vase, the wrapped handle confirming it was the one gifted to her upon her departure from Fhirdiad. Later, they came upon the knowledge that it was from Dimitri himself, but that did not discourage her from carrying it even as the war continued. He walked to the nightstand, his steps inaudible due to the carpet and Hubert’s own skill for stealth, and picked up the humble blade. The metal was stained with what Hubert assumed was Dimitri’s blood.

To the last, Your Majesty.

Hubert smiled weakly at the sight of it. King Dimitri had told the truth, then. If she resorted to this, that was as an effective refusal to surrender as any.

Still, they ought to be more careful with such a precious substance as the blood of someone bearing such a powerful Crest.

“Fortunately for me, there is always a use for my capacity to plan for the dangers no one else can see,” he remarked to Her Majesty and brought the dagger to the vanity in her room. As a gift, he’d had a magical washbasin installed on it so she could freshen up every morning in the privacy and comfort of her own quarters.

It also served to clean the dagger of Dimitri’s dried blood. He rested a hand against the sigil carved into the side, activating it with a whisper of magic in his hand. Water filled the bowl and Hubert submersed the knife, flaking away blood with studious efficiency. The water swirled into a thinned red shade as his work came to its end. Flicking droplets from the blade, Hubert emptied the water by deactivating the sigil and the removed blood disappeared with it.

He returned the dagger to its place beside the vase, and again, he was left alone with her shadowed form beneath the sheet.

Hubert pressed a hand to his chest and lowered into a formal bow. “Good evening, Your Majesty.”

Their daily routine drew him in and with no one to guard himself from, Hubert allowed himself that weakness. He straightened, striding to her armoire and opening one of the doors. Uniforms for combat hung beside lavish ballgowns and practical equestrian wear, all in the striking crimson Her Majesty looked best in. Not quite the exact color from the Adrestian flag, but it hearkened to it enough to encourage patriotism at the sight of her.

“What outfit would you like set out for tomorrow?” The Adrestian farmers’ guild reported recently that this fall would likely be wet and windy rather than the mild, comparably dry spell they’d hoped for. “Equestrian gear is a wise choice. Our unlikely allies will need firsthand experience on riding horseback across the terrain of Adrestia if we are to reach Shambala swiftly and without incident.”

Their travels would not be limited to the lands of Adrestia, but considering that it was their starting point, the guidance would be welcome. Tomorrow, Hubert would give the pertinent details to whoever seemed the most capable of relaying it to the strike team making for Shambala. He laid her riding clothes out in their usual place by her armoire for easy access come morning. Saving her even one extra step made her day more convenient from the outset. On occasion, that spare time permitted Her Majesty to indulge in simple pleasures as she often wanted to. Perhaps he discouraged her from that too often. His hands lingered on the hangers of her clothing, trembling despite himself.

“I’ll put on a pot of Hresvelg Blend.” That was all he needed. One last distraction. Hubert reached for the familiar corner table and picked up the enchanted self-heating kettle—another gift of convenience.

“After such a trying battle, a small indulgence should ready you for the day to come.” Hresvelg tea was a favored blend for them both, and Her Majesty seemed to better enjoy a warm cup with company. At the end of the day, seated at the quaint table in her room, Lady Edelgard could speak to him as not only an Emperor but a friend.

Now, of course, she could not sit at the table where the teapot began to heat the fresh water gathered from the basin. To accommodate as any good vassal would, he pulled a chair over to her bedside and took a seat where she waited now.

“I admit, it is jarring to see Dimitri in such condition but still insistent on his chivalrous ideals. You are better acquainted with him than I, of course.” He waited a pause where she might speak if she could, and he chuckled at what would have surely been a clever reply.

“The Black Eagles do appear to be in good health, at least. Perhaps they did listen to our advisements after all.” His wry smile did not break the illusion but contributed to it, even. Lady Edelgard would encourage him to have greater respect for their peers. They chose their path and their resulting strength was earned on their own merit.

“I suppose you are correct,” he relented to his imagined dialogue with Edelgard. “Bernadetta even approached me herself to fight. I find it difficult to not take pride in their successes, even when they are at my loss.”

The conversation would turn here. She would talk of the smell of autumn leaves, the latest ballroom adornments or heavy armor designs, a pastry she has been longing for that he could send agents across Adrestia to track down… And Hubert would listen dutifully. He was not one to speak socially unless prompted, and she could give him ample opportunity to talk as much or as little as he liked. About whatever he required.

He leaned forward to put his hands on his knees, examining the matter he needed to address.

“…And yet, now I find myself in need of your direction. You asked that I live my own life with the knowledge that you would sacrifice your own.” He swallowed thickly, tears yet to fall pricking at his eyes already. Hubert was disappointed in his own vulnerability.

“Beyond revenge against those who murdered your family and led to your eventual death, I do not have the slightest idea what that means. You are my purpose, my reason to exist. All I have done, I have done for you.” Words tumbled out of him now, instinctive and unfiltered. Hubert looked at his hands as if they had anything to offer either of them. In this moment, there were no strings to pull or daggers to position against her enemies in the shadows where he thrived. No dark spell or sinister scheme could alter this path. Hubert lifted his gaze to stare at the ghostly form of her face below the sheet. Outlines of her nose and the indents of her eyes remained all too clear in the lantern’s light.

Hubert rested a single hand on the bed beside her as he moved closer, imploring and desperate.

“You may wonder what my life could have been without you, but I never have. Not even once. Faced with that prospect, I am at a total loss. Your Majesty, I…” Too soon, he cried and blinked as the first few tears dropped and disappeared into the sheet. “Edelgard, I cannot do this without you. I have prepared for every eventuality but this, this horrific—”

His words fell off with the next wave of teardrops, and he was not far behind. Hubert folded onto the bed to bury his face in his forearms, seated at the edge of the chair as his fingers twisted in the sheets. Some part of his brain warned against disturbing her rest, a concern that was not even possible. Would that he could.

At some point, the teapot had begun to whistle on the table, but Hubert did not move. The door opened, the whistling stopped, and he did not move.

The door clicked shut and Hubert lifted his head, expecting to be alone with Her Majesty once again. Instead, cast in a halo of lantern light, Ferdinand stood by the table where the tea waited.

“I know I am fond of tea, Hubert,” Ferdinand began, stilted but affectionate as he tried to imitate their typical banter. “But I had not expected you to call for help with a kettle.”

“There is enough for two,” Hubert advised and sat back in the chair. He kept a single hand on the sheet now damp with his tears, staring blankly at the white against gold. “Cups are in the cabinet.”

“I did not come in here for tea.” Ferdinand brought the other chair over, feigning ignorance of the tears that he could undoubtedly see even in the lantern’s distant light. His arrival brought them to a stop as some means of preserving his image, if that could be managed.

The government of Adrestia reunited at last, Her Majesty and her two Ministers. They were carrying out her orders by ensuring the defeat of Those Who Slither in the Dark just as they were intended to. By sitting with him in his grief, Ferdinand was once more stepping in to serve her will where Hubert himself could not.

She wanted him to live but in his heart, Hubert wished he had died at the gates. That was the sinister truth, another secret burden he would take to his grave. Somehow, Ferdinand knew of the weight on him regardless and helped Hubert carry it without compromising his privacy.

“I will only take your pain as my own, so that sharing in it may lessen what you bear.”

Where Hubert could not meet Her Majesty’s demands, Ferdinand supplied the inexhaustible positivity to transform her wishes into reality. A world where she had failed but Hubert still took breath. Someday, he would acquire a new profession. Reform prior connections. And in the end, move on from her death. It was unthinkable.

“She means everything to me, Ferdinand,” Hubert ventured to explain the mire of despair consuming him. “I planned my every action to support Her Majesty. Once Shambala falls, I will have nothing.”

The rustle of his cloak prefaced Ferdinand’s hand on his shoulder again.

“You will have a choice, Hubert. Based on Edelgard’s cause for this war, that is what she wanted for you: to choose for yourself what your life will be now that we are here.” Few moments were as surreal and enlightening as discovering Ferdinand had a point Hubert did not uncover first. The former Prime Minister could speak of principles and ideals from Edelgard with irritating ease because, as painful as it had originally been to admit, Ferdinand did understand her vision. The methods to achieve them were just too much for him.

“Under her reign, people who would otherwise be overlooked were elevated to positions of power by their own skills, not their lineage or birthright.” The crisp buoyancy to his voice brightened the room. Even now, having chosen to stand against Her Majesty, Ferdinand was proud of her accomplishments. The sentiment shined in his every word.

“If she wished that for the citizens who had not always been at her side as you have, does it not make sense that you would deserve the same in her eyes?”

“Deserving it is not enough,” Hubert deflected. “If I cannot find out how to deliver the results she desired, it is pointless.”

“Hubert, please look at me,” he requested, and Hubert turned his head only enough to see the soothing smile from Ferdinand. “This is not a battle strategy to serve Edelgard. You are always planning three steps ahead, but that is not how matters of the heart are.”

Not content to merely say the word, Ferdinand brought his other hand up to rest on Hubert’s chest. The warmth of the palm over his beating heart changed the atmosphere of the room as if by an unknown magic. The effect could not be measured, categorized, or defined, but he could detect it in the instant that they made contact. The air was lighter, easier to breathe, and it somehow led him to feel more present in the room than he had been beforehand. If the change remained after Ferdinand had to take his leave, perhaps Hubert could yet find a path beyond Shambala.

That speculation was only the pathetic hope of a simpleton that found its roots in the reliability of another, something Hubert had absolutely no control over. And still, he longed to reach for it. The task was as straightforward as mounting a Pegasus and taking flight, a skill he could master if only he could overcome the fear that seized him at the very notion.

“You must begin with the present. Assess yourself with emotion, and you may decide where to go from there.” Ferdinand took his hand back and piece by piece, the difference it made eroded. “But you do not need that answer now. Now, you must allow yourself to grieve.”

“I am lost without her, Ferdinand.”

Hubert had not sounded so small in years. Not since he was a boy and the soldiers wrestled him back to Enbarr, and finally, acceptance of his defeat hit him. He was just a child then and made no effort to conceal his spiteful despondency. To think applying that effort made next to no difference in his voice was almost laughable.

“Then we will come to find you.” When his hand reached for Hubert this time, it found Hubert’s own. And it was Hubert who laced their fingers together and found peace in it. “Wherever you may be, Hubert, you will not be alone.”

The time they spent in that position was interminable. When his spirits were restored enough, Hubert stood and folded the sheet down to see her face. The serenity came as a surprise, especially next to the lingering disfiguration from her transformation that he’d heard whispered among the soldiers: a brown-grey smear down her left cheek. He smoothed her hair back, placing a kiss to her forehead as he did when she was feverish or frightened as a child.

“Edelgard, I would never have chosen this life without you in it. But now that it is here and you have given my orders to live it for myself, I will—” He fought back even more tears; Hubert had more than enough of that as it was. “I will try.”

When the sheet covered her face again and they were both seated, Hubert himself sought out Ferdinand’s hand in the dark.


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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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