Author's Notes: written for my friend, Zapp's, Could Have Been collection. where we write ships for chars who didn't get an A support in 3H. sylvain/marianne is one of my BIG 3H otps. im really sad it didnt get one...

Marianne really was something.

Sylvain grimaced at that thought. Come on, he could definitively think of something better than that. If he used that on some other girl, he would be disappointed in both of them if it somehow worked! It wasn’t like him to struggle with saying something. Especially when it came to women.

It was just...

When it came to Marianne von Edmund? He just wasn’t sure where to begin. Garreg Mach had so many wonderful girls. Common, noble, whatever else... He wasn’t exactly the pickiest when it came to players in his so-called “cruel games”. His feelings could be genuine!

He loved Ingrid, in his own way. It was impossible to ignore life without her. He liked Bernadetta, her writing, and all her weird quirks. She was kind of like Marianne... Just more erratic.

Though, it was messed up to go around comparing girls he knew to the other girls he knew like this. Part of him wondered “Why does it matter though?” Maybe Mercedes was rubbing off on him. Or Dorothea with her sharp wit and even sharper words. Maybe.

Part of him wanted to say it was Marianne who was rubbing off on him but that didn’t feel right. It just wasn’t true. She was, however, the first one to challenge his worldview since coming to the monastery. She wasn’t impressed by his status and crest. Quite the opposite, actually. At first, he thought it was because her father not wanting her to fraternize with anyone and ruin any potential engagements he was arranging. That turned out to not be the case. She told him to avoid her from now on.

He apologized and meant it then.

Just like he meant it when he said that a person’s smile is more important than someone’s status or crest. He meant it when he told her it showed a person’s sincerity, personality, and perhaps everything else about them. He meant it when he told her he couldn’t wait to see her best smile. The only time he wasn’t honest? It was when he first saw her first smile. Her stiff, awkward, and terrible smile... and yet it made his heart flutter all the same.

She smiled sometimes, even if she didn’t realize it. Marianne didn’t notice when he’d notice it, however. The first time he saw her genuine smile was in the stables. He was checking on his mount and she was there tending to a horse. Her lips were curled into a small smile. Her teeth barely peeked out through her lips as she whispered to someone named Dorte. He assumed it was the horse.

He’d later realize that his assumption was right during one of their outings.

They were sitting in the gazebo on a particularly misty afternoon. The air was nippy and thick. Humid enough to make the ends of his meticulously styled and purposely wild hair curl at its very ends. Her typically messy hair didn’t seem to be affected by the wet weather. He didn’t know if he should be jealous or not. Maybe things would be different if she wore her hair in any other way than the tight yet messy braids styled it in. He wondered how different she’d look with her hair down.

Surely, she’d look like art.

No one else was stupid enough to have a tea party on a day like this. It was why it was perfect for Marianne and him. He sat beside her under the small, mysterious gazebo that their professor liked to hang around. There were no chairs and tables there so they sat on a blanket on top of the cobblestone. A small basket of sandwiches and tarts he managed to convince the kitchen maids to part with before lunch sat between them. In front of the basket was a particularly tacky and homely tea set that he imagined his fellow nobles wouldn’t be caught using. However, Marianne was not like his fellow nobility.

“I promise that I wasn’t spying on you or anything the other day... but who is Dorte?” he asked as swirled the tea in his cup to try to get the sugar cube to melt. “Heard you say his name when I was checking up on mine.”

“Oh, um, Dorte is a horse,” she said before taking small, bird-like nibbles on the crust of her sandwich.

“Dorte the Horse,” he repeated. He took a long sip of his slightly grainy tea as he took in this information. It made sense. She liked animals. She liked animals a lot more than she did people. He and a small handful of people just seemed to be special exceptions which were something he took great pride in. “I gotcha. He a friend of yours?”

“Y-yes, I... I’m sure you think it’s strange...”

“I mean, I don’t talk to my horses so maybe I’m the weird one. I never thought to ask my mount his name or anything. You mind askin’ Dorte to talk to him for me?”

She laughed at that and it was the most wonderful sound in the world.

Five years.

Five years the sound of Marianne’s laughter and her smile haunted him. Haunted was probably the wrong way of putting it. It wasn’t as if it bothered him. Quite the opposite. The only time it was an inconvenience was during spars with Felix or war missions where he needed to focus.

“Get your head out of the clouds or go home,” Felix spat. “I don’t have time for games.”

“You never did.”

The dark-haired man snorted at that. “Well, it should be obvious to you by now then. Go home. Come back when you’re able to focus longer than five minutes.”

Reluctantly, he did. The trek to Gautier Territory was a long one. One filled with thoughts and memories about Marianne. The sound of her small, shaky, and yet spellbinding voice during choir rehearsals when he managed to get a spot next to her. The sight of her little nibbles on his sandwich crusts. The way her eyes lit up when he saw a small stuffed bear in a town shop and gave it to her—his date at the time thought it was for her and he lied and said it was for a young girl at the monastery. The tiny, almost secret smiles she only showed to him and presumably Dorte when it was just the two of them.

He longed to see them all again.

A letter waited for him once he arrived home. When the maid told him it was from Margrave Edmund, or at least his territory, he nearly tore it while tearing it away from her hands. His heart throbbed as he steeled himself. It had been a while since he received a letter from her. Letters in general were infrequent. He couldn’t blame her nor the couriers for it. Things were always difficult during wartime. His hands trembled as they grew clammier by the second.

Was it a letter between friends? A love letter? A letter that he should expect the worst from?

Dear Sylvain,

I pray that you have been safe. I apologize for the long period of silence. I had been trying to make a decision for the last four months. My classmates and I made a pact before the war ended. It was to return to Garreg Mach on the Millenium Festival. Things were different then, as you are fully aware, so I worried that no one would show up if I did. And yet, I do not want to abandon anyone who was brave enough to show up. So, I will be in Garreg Mach to reunite with them. You do not have to join us as you are probably busy with the efforts in the Kingdom... but I would be happy to see you again. If you wish to see or write to me again, try to contact me at the monastery if you can. If not, my father will be sure to make sure your words get to me.



And with that, he was on the road again. This time to Garreg Mach Monastery.

“It... it almost feels wrong to be out here trying to enjoy ourselves when things are like this,” Marianne whispered as the two of them walked through the war-torn town. Buildings were in various states of disrepair as every time they’d be fixed another group of bandits or soldiers would tear through things. Food, things that weren’t small fish and stale bread, was scarce, and what little food there was either went to the monastery to feed the troops or was horrifically overpriced by profiteers. Flowers didn’t decorate store windows as there was no time to tend to them. Trampled dandelions and other weeds struggled to grow in the cracks of the street. What little colour was left in Garreg Mach was just as scarce as the food. “Maybe we should head back...”

Sylvain hummed in slight agreement. “I getcha. Let’s maybe grab a few things before heading back first. We’re already here, after all. It’d be a shame to come here for nothing.”


Bread, as stale as it was, tea leaves, and verona were bought. On their way out of town, Sylvain stopped in front of a shop. “Let me treat you, we don’t have to stay long. I promise.”

She nodded and followed closely behind him.

A small tea shop. So small that one might call it cramped. He lead her to a table in the corner that faced the window in the front. He even pulled out her chair for her before sitting at the table across from her. He smiled. “So, we’ll get whatever you want. I don’t think you were a big fan of the kind I typically got.”

She shook her head. “It wasn’t that I disliked them or anything. I just...”

“You just prefer the ones that make you sleepy is all,” he teased before giving her a wider smile.

A faint blush dusted itself across her cheeks as she went to tuck a loose hair behind her ear... But it wasn’t there. That embarrassed her even more as she stared at the small menu.

“The... fruit blend sounds lovely. If I remember correctly... You liked that one more than the cinnamon one I picked out in school,” she mumbled. Her eyes flickered toward his as her lips twitched into a teensy smile. “You mentioned it was too spicy.”

He snorted. “It wasn’t spicy... It just... had too many spices in it. Completely different.”

She giggled. “Of course.”

The sight and sound of her laughter made his heart flutter. His hands grew clammy once again inside his gauntlets as he got up to tell the owner their order. Within minutes, he and the teapot were back at the table. Marianne’s gaze was on the window outside. The muffled sound of children, some crying while others were laughing, could be heard even through the worn-down stone walls. Inside the shop, one could only hear the bubbling of hot water and the rustling of boxes as the owner and his wife headed to the back.

A faint smile was on her lips as she watched the people pass by outside. They couldn’t see her inside the dark shop but she could see them clear as day, even if Sylvain sat in front of her. The way her dark eyes lit up whenever she noticed someone carrying a pot of lilies or a child with a stuffed bear that matched the one he got her all the years ago made him smile.

“You still have yours?”

“Y-yes, he’s safe in my dormitory. I thought about leaving him at home but... I decided against it.”



“What made you bring him along?”

She swallowed as she clasped her hands tightly together. Her thumb stroked the other one as she mustered up the courage to confess to him. “I... I wasn’t sure if you were going to come to the monastery or not. Or if you got my letter at all. I... He reminds me of you. It’d make me happy to have him here while weren’t.”

He blinked. Words were caught in his throat as he tried to still his heart or at least quell the butterflies swarming in his stomach. He had no idea that she felt that strongly about that silly bear!

“I-I apologize, I’m sure that was... strange to hear.”

“No. Don’t apologize. I... I’m happy. I’m happy to hear that you cared about him enough to bring him.”

She smiled. This one was more nervous and embarrassed than her normal one but it made him sigh softly nonetheless. “I see. I...” she sighed in turn as her smile faltered. “I still feel a little guilty.”

“About having fun?”

“Yes... I realize that dwelling on the negative and painful doesn’t help anyone. It might burden others. I am trying to see the positives but there’s precious little in times like these.”

He nodded. “Well... Pretending that everything is okay isn’t the way to go either. So I can agree with you there. But, that ‘precious little’ you call it... only seems all the more precious because of the bad. People are coming together to try to rebuild Fodlan, even if the war is still going on. People might be trying to profit off the war and take advantage of the innocent, yet others are making as much food as they can to feed the hungry. I heard Ashe and Caspar arguing over feeding cats the other day.”

“Ah, I wonder... if that’s the happy, fat cat I saw this morning... The black one with little white socks on his paws...”


“Oh, um, just... that his legs were white. So it appears that he’s wearing white socks.”

He snickered. “That’s a cute way of putting it.”

She giggled once again. “I suppose so... But, you’re right. People are trying to fix things. The least I can do is try as well.”

“Exactly. You’re out there with me fighting every other day. Plus, I heard you help with the garden which feeds the troops. You’re doing your best just like I am,” he said as he grabbed her hand from across the table. “And... I promise...”

“P-promise what?”

“I’ll... help fix things so that you can have a reason to show the world your best smile.”

A long and heavy minute passed before Marianne squeezed his hand back the best she could through Sylvain’s gauntlets.

“I... I would like that,” she whispered before giving him a bright and wide smile.