Author's Note: This is something I actually wrote on a whim well before the game came out, inspired by Bernadetta catching my eye in the February Nintendo Direct segment for Three Houses. It was the day before Valentine's Day and that and the school setting gave me this idea. Given how little I had to go on at the time there's a few things that in hindsight are inconsistent with the game and bug me, including Bernie being a little more forthright and less skittish than she is as a student, though I think I did well for pretty much just having the shot of her hiding under a book and a few barely audible voicelines to judge her personality on. Her enjoying cooking and liking sweets and Dorothea nicknaming her "Bern" were lucky guesses. Finished February 19 2019.
Bernadetta laid the lid on the lilac-colored box, over the carefully-arranged chocolates she'd made, and tied a purple ribbon around it. She sighed. "Maybe this really is too childish?", she muttered to herself. "...Well, come on now Bernadetta. Here goes nothing."
She stood up, walking to the door of the potions lab – not many other places students could use for things like cooking – and stepping out into the corridor, seeing two of her classmates as she did. "Oh, hey Dorothea, L- Edelgard...". No matter how many times Edelgard told her it was fine to dispense with formalities she didn't feel comfortable with it, not when she was speaking to the heir to her country's throne. The Princess nodded in response. "Hello."
"Hey, Bern!", Dorothea said. "What's up today?".
"Oh... Nothing much really", she replied. "Hey... Do either of you happen to know where Professor Byleth is?".
"The professor?", Edelgard responded. "I believe they went to the faculty rooms upstairs."
"Thank you". Edelgard gave her another curt nod as she left, chocolates in hand. As she walked away, Dorothea caught a glimpse of the box. "Hmm...? Oh no, she isn't!". She giggled. "...Something funny?", Edelgard asked.
Bernadetta turned the corner at end of the corridor, crossing the foyer and starting up the broad steps, evening light streaming in through the windows above her and casting shades of gold on the stonework. Her footsteps and heartbeats echoed a bit as she went, turning as she reached the landing only to see Byleth, cool and confident as ever, standing at the top of the next flight of stairs. She stopped.
"Hmm?". Byleth looked down at the girl on the landing, fidgeting a little with her hands behind her back. "Oh... There you are, Professor Byleth."
"Did you need to speak with me about something, Bernadetta?", they asked.
"Umm, professor I... Please take this". She produced a box of chocolates from behind her back. "I... I made them myself, ok? Because... I really like you". She searched for the right words. "Maybe a little more than 'like' you actually, so...".
Byleth blinked, processing what she'd said. It was a bit unexpected for, of all people, Bernadetta to confess to them like this; she was usually so shy and quiet. Certainly she was cute in a way, but maybe not quite in that way. Personal feelings towards her, whatever they might be, aside though, such a thing would hardly be professional, and even on those grounds alone a romantic relationship would be impossible. "I'm sorry, but I can't accept this from you. Not like this."
A look of disappointment grew on Bernadetta's face. Even if she'd known it was a longshot, the feeling of going out on a limb and doing something bold only to wind up like this was just as bad as she'd feared. "...Oh, is it no good or-".
Byleth shook their head. "No, it's not that. It's just that a relationship like that between us is impossible right now. I'm a teacher, and you're my student. That's not-".
"T-That's the best part...!", she stammered. "Oh gods-", she whispered under her breath, hiding her face in her hands. "-Oh gods I really said it out loud...".
Byleth blinked again, not really sure they'd caught that right. Well, everyone has their own... proclivities. "That's final."
...Maybe better not to let her down so hard, even if they didn't want to lead her on either. "Maybe after you graduate we can talk abou-".
"P-Professor...!", she looked straight at them, mustering up all the determination she had in her. She'd already embarrassed herself enough to not have much left to lose, may as well try and just spell it all out. "I... I'm not a child and I'm not naive... I am training as a soldier of the Adrestian Empire, and I know that on the horizon... There could be a war soon. And I... Both of us could die."
A few teardrops fell from her eyes, but she ignored them and continued. "I'm not going to just put away the feelings I have for you. I want to be together with you for as long as we can, just in case...".
Byleth took a step, walking down to the landing in front of Bernadetta. She instinctively stepped back, but caught it and planted herself firm, not breaking eye contact and trying to read Byleth's face, their expression even now as harsh as ever.
Byleth's face softened a little, and they reached out and patted her head. "Bernadetta". They rested their hand on her shoulder. "Trust me. I'll keep you, and everyone, safe. I won't let anyone die. I swear it."
They patted her on the back, cracking a smile. A very slight one, but a smile all the same. "This must sound odd coming from me, but try to cheer up. Let the future hold what it will, but here and now things aren't so bad, are they?".
Byleth stepped away, continuing down the stone staircase. As they passed, Bernadetta pressed the box of chocolate into their hands. "Even if... Even if we can't have that kind of relationship right now, please take this... I really put a lot of effort into it. Oh, I don't mind if we want to share it with the other teachers; just think of it as something because I appreciate everything all of you do...". Byleth nodded. "Alright. I can accept that, Bernadetta."
They looked over their shoulder as they turned to walk down the corridor at its bottom. "And believe me; perhaps I can be too... stern at times, but I do care about all of you too". And with that, they left.
Bernadetta felt her heart pounding in her chest, even harder than before. She'd actually gone through it, even if it hadn't turned out like she'd hoped.
"...So cool", Bernadetta muttered to herself as she watched Byleth walk away. She thought over their promise in her mind, and as well she knew no one could promise her such a thing in this lifetime, in that moment it felt like the truest thing in the world to her.