Byleth sat alone in the dining room, idly flipping through the pages of Adrestian Tactics as he occasionally took a bite of plain toast or took a sip of his lukewarm, unsweetened tea. Students that passed by him usually spared a glance his way, either out of curiosity of what the rumored new teacher looked like, or perhaps due to his choice in lunch.
"I must say, your meal might just be as plain as you are."
Sothis remarked in his ear, followed by a little giggle.
Byleth chose to ignore that, giving her no more than a sigh in response.
"What are we doing here, anyways? You've hardly taken a bite of your cooked bread nor taken a sip of your herb water. I hardly see the point."
Byleth took a sip of his tea.
"I need to study," he mumbled, hiding his words behind the rim of his cup. "I won't be much of a teacher if I know less than my students."
"And that can't be accomplished in your room? Or the library? Where it's quiet? And not so… smelly."
He could hear the disdain in her voice. Apparently Sothis wasn't much of a fan of fish.
"Can't people watch in those places," he replied, this time covering his lips with his toast. "Now, be quiet. I'll look insane if someone catches me talking to the air."
"Fine, fine," Sothis yawned. "I suppose I will just have to nap until something interesting happens-oh?"
Her curious hum caught Byleth's attention.
The teacher glanced up from his book to see the leader of the Black Eagle House, Edelgard von Hresvelg approaching him.
"Only a few weeks here and you've already caught the eye of the ambitious one," Sothis chimed. "Maybe this meal of bread and leafy water will prove intriguing after all."
Edelgard came to a stop across from him with a plate of food in hand. Unsurprisingly, it was very plain, a meal covering all the major food groups. Meat, dairy, vegetables, fruit… but the slightly larger portion of today's desert did pique his interest.
"If you weren't too busy, I was hoping you wouldn't mind if I joined you?"
"Not at all." Byleth closed his textbook and motioned to the empty seat beside her. "Please, sit."
"Thank you," Edelgard said with a slight bow, accepting his offer.
The professor gave her a once over as she spread out her meal, placing all of her silverware in the "appropriate" spots.
In the few weeks since he took a teaching position here at the monastery, Edelgard had always been somewhat of a closed book to him. Byleth could gleam a personality trait here or there through their meetings and lectures throughout the week, but other than that, he knew next to nothing about the young woman.
He knew she was Adrestian. That was one thing. He knew that she was next in line to become the emperor. That was another. He knew that she carried a very stern demeanor, and often appeared very cold, arrogant, and somewhat distant…
But, other than that, he really knew nothing.
Oh! She appeared to fancy sweets. That was one more thing to remember.
"What can I do for you today, Edelgard?"
Last but not least, and probably the most important thing to remember about the Black Eagle, was that she never did anything without a purpose.
"Well, I realize it's been near a month since you joined us, and I have yet to give you my thanks," she stated plainly as she took a very reserved bite of her fish.
"Yes, for coming to my aid the night we first met. Were it not for your timely intervention that night, it's very possible I could have been seriously injured- or worse."
Byleth rose an eyebrow.
Now he knew that was simply not true. As the Black Eagles' new professor, he made a point out of studying each student individually. Their likes, their dislikes, their strengths, their weaknesses… Everything.
He's seen Edelgard fight. He's even sparred with her a few times himself, and it was safe to say that a mere bandit would have been no match for the future emperor in a one-on-one bout. Her speed and strength even outclassed that of the mercenaries he's come to know in his travels. If he didn't jump in front of that axe that night, he was fairly confident she would have been able to defend herself. Even with a dagger.
And then he met her eyes. A pair of bright purple orbs that have never stopped evaluating him.
"Ah, she is testing you…" Sothis muttered, coming to the same conclusion he was.
This was more than a simple question, then.
"It was nothing," he replied. "I would have done the same for any one of my students."
If he wasn't watching her closely, he might just have missed the slight narrowing of her eyes.
"I had a feeling you might say that," she smiled briefly. "But, if you don't mind my asking, I wasn't your student then. To jump in front of an axe for a mere stranger almost seems…"
"Your words, not mine," Edelgard smiled again, this time a bit more genuine.
"I suppose that's just the way I've been taught," Byleth shrugged, taking a sip from his tea. "My father always told me that good mercenaries took a job for the right reward. Great ones took a job to help others. I've always strived to be a great mercenary."
Edelgard blinked a few times, her fork hovering just a few inches from her lips.
"Pardon me for saying this, but that doesn't sound like some of the hired swords I've met over the years."
Byleth shrugged. Smiling or laughing didn't come as easy to him as it did others, so this was the best he could do.
"My father is of a different breed. The jobs we took usually involved helping those who needed it. Protecting towns from bandits, clearing out a den of thieves. Stuff like that."
"And what about you?"
"What about me?"
"Which mattered more to you, the money or the people?"
Once again, Edelgard's eyes adopted the same look they always did whenever she asked him a question. Firm and unmoving, as if they were just waiting for a response. There were obviously two choices here, and one of them was clearly the wrong one.
"I wanted to help people-"
Her features relaxed. Clearly the response she expected.
"-but, I also saw it as a way to test myself. You can't achieve anything of importance in life if you don't have the proper strength to seize it."
Edelgard's eyes widened. For the first time in this conversation, he felt like he caught her off guard, something which he did very rarely.
The corner of her lips tugged upwards.
"While some of the other, more naïve students here might take offense to your statement, I myself agree with you."
"It's a good thing I chose your house, then."
"Indeed it is," she replied, her smile growing. "Thank you, Professor."
Even though Byleth was the teacher and Edelgard the student, he couldn't help but feel he was the one being tested whenever one of these types of conversations came up with her. It wasn't something he disliked about her, quite the opposite in fact, but it was something he always had to be wary of.
After that brief exchange, the two went about the rest of their lunch in relative silence. Occasional bits of dialogue were exchanged here and there, things such as if Byleth was growing accustomed to his new home, or inquiries about some of Edelgard's fellow students. Outside of their first discussion, nothing else they spoke of was something unbefitting for a student eating a meal with her instructor.
"Well, I am afraid I must be going," Edelgard said, wiping the corners of her mouth with a napkin. "I must thank you for having me, my teacher. I found myself rather enjoying our conversation."
"As did I," Byleth answered, his eyes drifting to the untouched cake on her plate. "Are you not going to finish your dessert first, Edelgard?"
"Oh, I was saving that as a treat for later-"
The princess blushed, her eyes darting back and forth between the sugary treat decorated with little flowers made of icing and her amused professor.
"Er, I meant to say that I am full! Yes, very full! I am afraid the rest of my meal filled me up. A shame, really."
"Truly a shame. Today's cake looked rather good today, too" Byleth smirked. "Make sure your full stomach doesn't make you too drowsy for our next class."
"O-of course not. Farewell, Professor!"
Byleth nodded his farewell, his gaze following Edelgard as she hurried out of the dining hall. As expected, her slice of cake was saved from the depths of the trash can.
"Aren't you an amused one?" Sothis giggled. "And here I thought that your face only had one emotion."
"I suppose not."
Byleth went back to his book on Imperial tactics, this time with an ever-so-slight grin on his face as he read.
Rumors spread like wildfire around the monastery about the sight of the new, mysterious professor smiling alone to himself in the dining hall. While many that were there that afternoon swore up and down they saw a hint of a smile on the teacher's lips, there were some that disagreed with that notion, stating that "nah, you must have looked at him from the wrong angle."
This was a topic of heavy debate up until the end of the school year.
Thanks for reading!
I'll try and update this regularly, but for the next two weeks don't expect much as I am in the middle of moving. But, after sinking like 80 hours in this game in the span of a week, I had to write something to fill my need of more Edelgard and Byleth.
Expect there to be many a spoils in this story. While this first chapter is a bit short and doesn't touch on any of the story, I plan on that to change further down the road. But, enjoy these cozy scenes for now!
Disclaimer: The picture I used for this story is drawn by sasaki, who you can find on danbooru or pixiv(I assume?) And obviously I don't own Fire Emblem.