First fanfic I ever write, consistently at least. Sylvain José Gautier has a special place in my heart. ❤
Also in AO3:
ashe from your fire
Sylvain had arrived late to the Godess Tower. Dimitri was already there with Byleth, as everyone should have expected. So he leaves, and spends a whole year alone in Gautier, ignoring Byleth's letters and focusing on keeping his feelings in check. Until Byleth is done with him and pays him a visit.
Or: The S-Support between Sylvain and Byleth never happened and now they have to do something about it.
Tags: Angst, Pining, Mutual Pining, Unrequited Love, Jealousy, Post-Timeskip | War Phase (Fire Emblem: Three Houses), Angst with a Happy Ending, Fluff, Love Confessions, Idiots in Love
To the Margrave Sylvain Jose Gautier,
I hope that this letter, along with the previous others I have sent, finds you well.
Your lack of correspondence has caused the Church of Seiros to find reasonable doubt in House Gautier’s devotion to the faith. Should you continue to withold a response, know that the monthly stipends you receive from the Western Church may cease.
As an officer of the Church, it is my duty to personally investigate your case before such actions are taken. House Gautier is still rebuilding, that much we are aware of. Funds from the Church are required to continue doing so. We will be arriving on the seventh day of this Lone Moon. I hope you will be there to receive us.
Her Grace, the Archbischop of the Church of Seiros,
Please, Sylvain. Dimitri and I
Sylvain crumpled the letter in his fist and slammed his other hand onto his desk.
He could hear the servants pacing anxiously behind the door of his study, awaiting his instruction.
Some snow fell from one of the pine branches in the frozen garden behind the window, where Sylvain played with Felix in his childhood. Felix was in Fraldarius, Ingrid back in Galatea, his friends having now gone their separate ways.
Dimitri and I…
He sighed, slowly opening his fist to smooth the edges of the letter, trying in vain to leave it as he had received it, pristinely folded and with a faint mint smell that had endured all the way from the monastery to the most remote reaches of Faerghus.
She had written the letter as the Archbishop, and had decided to add a note at the end, as Byleth.
And Byleth always talked about Dimitri, which was when Sylvain always stopped reading.
He put the letter back in the envelope stamped with the coat of arms of the Church of Seiros and placed it in the drawer on the left of his desk, adding it to the pile of same open envelopes, with the same smell of mint and the same half-crumpled paper inside. It was time to put away his feelings and begin the preparations to welcome the Church into House Gautier.
A week later, the carriage rolled to a stop in front of the gates of Gautier Manor, and although Sylvain followed protocol and descended the front steps to personally receive the most important figure of the Church, he knew that he would not find her there. Still, he smiled through his disappointment and bowed to Seteth, who raised an eyebrow and looked at him as he did during his school years, when Sylvain would run into him in the corridors whilst chasing after girls whose faces and names he wouldn’t remember.
They exchanged a few words and headed inside, Seteth in front of him, looking as if time hadn't changed him in the slightest. Sylvain strayed behind, having long buried the boy from the corridors of Garreg Mach.
She arrived at twilight, long after the meal in her honor was over. He was waiting in the library, between shelves full of books that he had never read and did not intend to, with a portrait of his parents at his back, watching his every move: the slight tremor of one of his hands when he heard the squeak of wood against the ground, the sound his throat made when he swallowed, hearing her footsteps stop behind him. His father had cruel eyes and a dazzling smile. His mother had not spent a day of her life without suffering, and she had worn her pain like jewelry. He’s wondering if he looks like either of them when he turns around and finds himself face to face with Byleth, after a year of only living through memories that he should have been trying to forget, because there was none that wasnt tinted by the colors of war, and yet he kept relieving if it meant having something of her to cling to.
"You are late, Archbishop. I'm afraid most of my servants have retired for the night, and that I can't offer you the welcome you deserve." She looked him up and down and tilted her head, her long green hair slipping over her right shoulder. It's longer, Sylvain thinks, letting out a forced chuckle. "Seteth already took care of all the formalities. I wouldn't like to think that you arrived late on purpose."
"I suggest you don't think too much about it then, Margrave," the frost on the library's window having seeped into her words. If he was the Margrave, she would be the Archbishop. "I asked, and they told me you were in the library. I didn't mean to cause any inconvenience."
"The head of the Church never causes any inconvenience." He wanted to shed the cape his father had also worn years ago, because it suddenly sat too heavily on his shoulders after a long day of pleasantries and formalities. He wanted to take the painting off the wall and throw it into the fire in the corner, to watch it burn and burn and not have to look at Byleth. She had never been one to look away. "But you must be tired, after such a long ride on a horseback," he said instead.
"I'm used to riding."
"So you haven’t lost your habit to go on long rides, I see?"
"No, things havent changed in that regard."
He stayed quiet, and the only sounds in the room were the crackle of flames dancing in the fireplace and the wind howling outside, where night had already fallen and darkness had swallowed the land. She sighed and turned for the door when he did nothing but stare at her with a fake half smile on his face. She paused then, with one hand on the door handle, and glanced at him over her shoulder. He bowed his head. There was a year of silence and unanswered letters between them, in the small space of the library.
"Good evening, Margrave Gautier," she said.
"Good evening, Archbishop. I'll see you tomorrow." she closed the door and left him lonelier than he had been in a long time.
His footsteps, leading him to the Godess Tower. Dimitri's back, his cape flapping in the evening wind. He couldn't see her from where he was, but he knew she was there. He also knew the legend of the tower. He had used it, many years ago, in another life of afternoons made of walks and dates, not tarnished by the mud from his boots as he walked through the bloody battlefield. And his companions had laughed, or blushed, touched his arm and left him feeling that heat that only lasted until he was alone in his room, and then it was never enough.
He didn't know if Byleth was smiling, or if she would blush at something Dimitri would say to her, or if they would spend the last moments of the day celebrating the end of the war in each other's arms. He heard her say the king's name, and his childhood friend leaned towards her, as he had always done throughout the entire time they had known her, naturally drawn to his professor, and Sylvian knew it was his time to go.
Anyone else would have retired for the rest of the night, to suffer in silence. Not Sylvain. He returned to the great hall, to the music and the laughter of his friends, and did what he did best. He pretended to smile, and left the joy of the other’s drown out the sound of his heart breaking.
She joined him for breakfast the next morning. She arrived late, wrapped in a long wool coat, the mercenary clothes she used to always wear underneath. They ate in silence for a few minutes, until a servant brought another plate full of strawberries and they both reached for one. She buried herself further into the coat, and he smiled and pushed the plate towards her.
“Mornings at Gautier can be as cold as the nights, your Grace," he said.
"I can see that." She took one of the strawberries, seeming to think for a few seconds, and finally brought four to her plate.
"We don't usually light the fire this early, but I can make an exception for your Grace, if you wish," he offered. She looked at him, her lips pursed. His Grace. Sylvain pretended not to understand the reason why her eyes scanned him with barely contained anger."Will Seteth join us at some point?" he asked instead.
"Two knights arrived from the monastery first thing in the morning. An urgent matter demanded our presence, so he left to take care of it"
"He wasn't even here a day. Life in Garreg Mach is still as hectic as ever, from what I see." Byleth nodded, her lips still tight, as she absentmindedly played with the strawberries on her plate "But you stayed."
"I did. I came because I have business to discuss with you, and don’t plan to leave until I've done that."
"Yes, of course. Church affairs," he said bitterly.
"Have you even read any of the letters I've sent?" she seemed more surprised than angry him at the accusatory tone of her words. She straightened in her seat, put her fork on the table and looked back at him "I've never received any answers."
"I apologize for not contacting the Church earlier. As you well know, House Gautier is going through a series of changes that do not leave me much time for anything other than ensuring the prosperity of my lands. We are still recovering from the war. There is too much to do."
"Lord Fraldarius also has a lot to do, and I correspond with the Fraldarius territory at least once every two moons."
"I also have to deal with guarding the border with Sreng," he answered fast. "We have different situations"
Oh yes, of course Felix wrote to her. Receiving a letter every two moons from Felix Fraldarius was a high honor, even if the missives were short and often did not even contain a greeting. Felix had always held her in high regard, everyone in the Blue Lions knew that.
"We are all busy, one way or another. The Church worries when too much time goes by without hearing from the nobles of the Kingdom." she lowered her voice, and Sylvain almost had to lean over to hear her next words "I worry."
He tensed, not knowing what to do next. He looked at his plate, where there was no food left, and then at his glass, still full of the water he had not drunk. Byleth cleared his throat to get his attention again.
"Even King Dimitri ..."
And then Sylvain jumped to his feet, spilling his cup all over the table. A servant appeared out of nowhere to clean up the mess, and he smiled at Byleth, who was looking at him blankly.
"Should I give you a tour of the mansion, your Grace? It was badly damaged during the war, but the servants have done a good job of restoring it to its old glory"
"Very well," she agreed after a small pause.
She followed him silently through the many corridors of the mansion, listening to the same explanations about the history of the house that he had hated many years ago, when he was forced to listen to them from his father. He kept talking without stopping when they passed the room he had made sure to close as soon as he became the Margrave, his steps not faltering, but he should have expected as much from Byleth. She had stopped in front of the door, one hand on the black wood, her eyebrows furrowed. He called her by her name then. Not your Grace, but Byleth. It sounded like a prayer in the cold air of the hall that was anything but holy. She didn't look at him.
"There is magic here." she observed.
"Byleth…" he tried again, this time louder.
"What's behind this door, that needs a magic spell?" She questioned, ignoring him.
"Why do you care?" Sharp, deadly, like a cut from the Lance of Ruin. She did not turn back, did not look at him hurting, and did not take her hand away from the door. "I seem to remember that you are here on Church business. You came to make sure my faith remained strong, not to ask me about closed doors in my house, Byleth."
"So am I Byleth again now?" He didn't answer, and she took a step back, hands outstretched, as if she was about to undo the spell that sealed the door, but finally dropped both her arms to her sides with a sigh, shaking her head "I came because the Margrave doesn't answers the Archbishop's letters, and because Sylvain doesn't answers Byleth's either. And you're right, I shouldn't have asked what's behind the door. This is your house, and you can do whatever you like in it." Then she smiled, a nostalgic little smile, and Sylvain knew that he would no longer be able to resume the tour of the house, that he did not want to tell her about the history of his family. He knew then that was his undoing "It’s just that I am so pleasantly surprised, that your reason has improved enough to be able to cast this spell. I'm proud."
He released the containment spell in that moment, and she watched him approach, curiosity and surprise in her eyes, until he was next to her, so close that his chest was almost touching one of her shoulders.
"This was Miklan's room, Professor."
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