Chapter 14: A Night on the Town

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The dining hall was more packed than usual for the Tuesday lunch hour. It seemed like everyone from each of the houses was either sitting at a table eating, or waiting in line to eat. There was no special occasion or recipe to speak of; word around campus was that the food was especially good.

Monica needed the extra energy after finishing her promised practice duel with Ferdinand following the end of Byleth's latest lesson. Monica conceded that he had grown a lot better with lances than she was at her peak, but he complimented her on her steady improvement with swords.

Ferdinand was called to Byleth's office before he had a chance to see what all the fuss at the dining hall was about, so Monica wound up going by herself to sneak a slice of pie out to one of the benches. It was too crowded inside and too nice outside for her not to take advantage of it.

As Monica went outside to the garden, she noticed Edelgard and Claude sitting across from each other under the gazebo. Claude was savoring a bite of fried fish he had recently eaten, while Edelgard looked lost in thought as she ate a spoonful of soup.

"Every time I see you, Princess," he said, "it always seems like you're thinking about something. Sometimes I wish I could figure out what goes on in that head of yours."

"I could say the same of you, Claude," Edelgard retorted. "I hope you didn't come to chat with me in a thinly-veiled attempt to get me to reveal my battle strategies."

"It's not like that, really! We don't get many opportunities to chat after classes or missions. Heck, I rarely see you talk to anyone outside of the Black Eagles."

"Forgive me. It's true that I have a lot on my mind, and that hasn't given me much time to socialize with others. As the future emperor, there is much I need to consider. Not just for today, but one, two, five...even ten years ahead. I'm sure you and Dimitri must have the same concerns."

"Okay, you got me. I've been known to do a fair bit of strategizing myself. I'm probably not thinking as far ahead as you are, though."

"'Strategizing', you say? That's an interesting way of putting it."

Claude chuckled as he saw the look on Edelgard's face. "Was that a grin I just saw? So the princess does show emotion every once in a while."

"Forget you saw that," said Edelgard, using the napkin by her plate as a way to wipe the smile from her face, as well as the drop of soup beneath her lips.

Claude peered around the hedge behind him and spotted Monica listening to the two lords' conversation intently. "Looks like we've got company," he said. "It's a shame there are only two chairs here."

"True... One of us would have to give up their meal in order for all of us to hang around this table," said Edelgard.

"That sounds like a problem with an easy solution," said Claude as he hurried to finish off his fish.

With one of the chairs freed up, Monica took her pie plate and sat down in the chair across from Edelgard. "Thanks!" she said to Claude. "You didn't have to do that for me, though... I was just sitting at that bench, enjoying the view...and this pie...and..."

"Waiting to occupy the best seat in the house?"

"Uh...sure. Let's go with that."

"I'd love to stick around, but I'm off to get some more of this delicious fish while there's still some left." He gave both Black Eagles a quick salute and started to walk back into the dining hall with his plate in his hand.

"If you're still hungry," said Monica, "would you like some of my pie? It's really good."

"No thanks," he said, "but I appreciate the offer."

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