Eruri Week Drabble: Family (Day 1)
“Levi,” he rapped his knuckles on the door. “Are you ready?”
Levi wrenched open the door, his shirt unbuttoned, bootless, jacket flung carelessly on the bed. He glared at Erwin and stomped back over to mirror. Erwin took in a deep breath and then followed him into the room, pushing the door closed behind them.
“I don’t see why I have to go to this shitty thing,” Levi huffed, staring at Erwin in the looking glass as he hastily fastened his shirt buttons and reached for his cravat.
“Because he’s a friend,” Erwin offered, resting back against the desk.
“He’s not my friend.” Levi stated, fumbling with his cravat in irritation.
“Here, let me.” Erwin offered, stepping in close and tying the cloth, pulling it into place and flattening it down against Levi’s chest, his fingers rested a little longer than necessary above Levi’s heartbeat.
“Well then, he’s a commanding officer, and he has presented you an invite. It is only professional for you to accept.”
“Load of fucking bollocks, spending my day off going to a christening.”
“It’s my day off too, Levi.” Erwin countered, as he picked up the jacket and held it up for Levi to step into, the royal blue complementing his pale skin and dark hair perfectly.
“I know one way I’d prefer to be spending this day.”
Erwin knew that look in Levi’s eyes and his gut clenched slightly in anticipation of something they wouldn’t be doing for at least the next seven hours.
“At least your arse looks nice in those trousers.” Levi continued, wistfully.
“Ditto,” Erwin said, moving to the door before he could be further tempted by Levi. “The carriage is waiting.”
Levi scowled at him one last time, and then ducked under his arm and out into the corridor, setting a fast enough pace for Erwin to keep up with. Levi dosed off in the carriage, his head softly lolling on Erwin’s shoulder. The journey was longer then he remembered and in the warm morning light, watching the life go by outside the window, he too found himself lulled.
When the carriage jerked to a halt, Erwin’s chin jolted against Levi’s head and Levi moaned. They both looked at each other for a moment, and then the carriage door opened, and Levi jumped out ahead of him. The church was bathed in bright sunlight and he could see the colour from the stained glass windows fragmenting everything inside.
“You OK?” Levi asked, his tone was unconcerned, but his eyes showed the opposite.
“Yes, darling.” Erwin replied, slapping himself mentally the second the endearment was out of his mouth. They were in public. He had to be more careful. It was a slip that made Levi’s eyes narrow. “I’m fine.” Erwin reassured, placing a hand on his shoulder, close enough that he could brush his thumb along Levi’s jaw.
“Erwin,” he turned at his name being called, only to have Marie launch herself into his arms, hugging him tightly; he tensed and then let it go, embracing her back. “You’ve been such a stranger recently, I’d almost forgotten what you looked like.” she chided.
“I’ve been -”
“- busy,” she concluded for him. “Yes, I know.”
It was an old excuse.
“You look well.”
“If you mean a don’t look like a bulbous whale anymore, you’re right. My ankles were huge, Erwin.” she demonstrated the size of her ankles with her hands. “Huge.” she reiterated. “And it was all his fault.” Marie added loudly as she saw Nile push his out of the church and make his way over to them.
“It takes two, dear.” he muttered into her hair as he kissed her head. “It takes two.” he said to Erwin with a smile. Admittedly, one of those two did need to be a woman. Nile reached out a hand and Erwin willingly took. “I’m glad you came.”
“I wouldn’t miss it.”
Nile glanced at Levi, who stood just a little behind Erwin’s right shoulder.
“We’re about to start.”
People began to file in, filling the circle of the church. Pastor Nick stood in the centre by the font of water, ready to bath the baby’s head. Erwin had been christened here, or so his mother had told him; he’d been named under the protection of Maria, Rose and Sina. Not that it was surprising considering how much of a devote wallist his mother had been. His father, on the other hand, had always been more of a devote scholar. Erwin had ended up somewhere in between, both searching for proof and wanting to believe; often times, calling on the walls to protect him, while at the same time knowing that it was his job to protect them.
“Are you asleep?” Levi asked quietly beside him and Erwin smiled, peering sideways at him.
“I’ll wake you, if you do nod off,” Levi said helpfully.
“Thank you, Levi.”
Erwin hated having Levi and Marie near each other, those two parts of his life that should never mesh, and it wasn’t because of any fear of jealousy; Erwin had proved to Levi time and again that he had nothing to worry about on that score. It was only that when they were together, he couldn’t help but compare.
The life he could have had, with the life he had now.
All of this. All. Of. It could have been his, right down to woman now holding the wriggling, screaming baby in her arms. It could have been him standing beside her now, smiling at her, holding her tight. That baby; well, not that exactly baby, but it could have been his.
The wife. The baby. The family.
He could have chosen that life, but instead he’d chosen this one.
Erwin reached out and gently brushed his fingers with Levi; Levi linked their little fingers together.
He wouldn’t change it for anything. The choice he’d made back then had been the right one. That being said, he did still want a family. And that was reinforced a little later on when Marie handed him the baby and he took the precious, tiny little thing in his arms; so small that if he’d held her along the length of his arm, she wouldn’t even have reached his shoulder.
“You’re a natural,” Marie said, a sadness in her eyes; a sadness for him.
Erwin looked passed her at Levi; Levi who was watching him with an expression Erwin hadn’t seen too often before; soft almost.
“You want kids,” Levi said once they were safely ensconced back in the carriage. “I didn’t know.”
“It doesn’t matter.”
They sat apart. Levi changed that quickly, moving to climb onto his lap, straddling his thighs.
“Well, we could give it a go.” his eyes laughed as he rubbed forward against Erwin. “Maybe if we try enough times, a miracle might happen.”
“You can such a bastard sometimes,” Erwin breathed into his neck, holding him tight against his chest.
“How about it though, wanna make a baby with me?”
Erwin looked up at him and Levi kissed him; gentle and deep and slow, hands caressing each side of Erwin’s face. They were never going to make a baby, but it sure would be fun trying.
Levi slumped into the chair beside him, reaching for Erwin’s hand, entwining their fingers together.
“You’ve been quiet, what’s wrong?”
Erwin looked at him sideways and smiled.
“Hanji dropped this by earlier.”
It was the latest article the gazette had run on him: ‘how to successfully take down a government without getting excuted’. It had an artists impression of him which was fanciful to say the least. Levi picked it up and flicked through the story, snorting in amusement from time to time.
“At least it’s better than the other one.” he quiped. “What was that?”
He looked at Erwin for help, but he’d be damned if he was going to give it.
“Oh, I got it. ‘what to do if a titan’s got you by the arm: a survival guide.”
Erwin shook his head: “I have no idea who writes this drivel, or who reads it for that matter.”
Levi rubbed his thumb lightly over Erwin’s knuckle.
“It’s going on the wall above the counter, like the other one.”
“If that’s what you want, darling.”
They both stared out at the garden.
“Hanji also dropped this by.” Erwin said after a while. “I haven’t opened it yet, she said it was for the both of us.”
Levi frowned: “I don’t like the sound of it, you open it.”
“You open it.” Erwin insisted and Levi did, moving aside the brown paper to see the placard inside: “Smithermans Teashop.” Levi laughed and held it up for Erwin to see.
“I like it, it’s got a certain ring to it.”
It had been Levi’s slightly peculiar wish to open a Teashop once the fighting was over, and so that’s what they’d done. It had taken months of planning and permissions and permits and then there’d been the building and decorating, but they were finally ready to open.
No frills, quaint and dainty. Just like Levi.
They’d debated for a while whether they should just sell tea, or if they should also serve tea and in the end they’d decided to do both; although Erwin had a sneaky suspicion that it’d more than likely be him at front of house, while Levi stayed happily out back taking inventory.
“We can put it in the kids room.” Levi suggested, slipping the placard onto the table. “It’s accurate enough.”
Erwin liked that idea.
“Molly’ll like it, I think.”
“As long as they don’t start thinking it’s their surname.”
Erwin laughed softly. He had been reading: ‘how to acclimatise to life outside the military: learning how to be a civilian.“ but all things considered he much preferred Levi’s company. And life outside the Military wasn’t so bad, especially considering he’d never expected to make it out alive.
“You’re going to let them go, aren’t you?”
This time Erwin had no idea what Levi was talking about, until he caught the direction of Levi’s gaze. The rabbits. They’d taken up residence about a month ago and in that time a family been born; tiny, blind, helpless creatures, entirely dependent on their mother. Erwin had spent a lot of time watching them, seeing how the mother would stand guard over the warren, uncovering the hole to allow them to feed, frantic, crazy, hungry mouths all vying and fighting for milk, before she tucked them back into the ground, safe and away from predators. It was only when Levi mentioned that he’d seen a family of foxes also in the garden, bouncing and dancing and prancing on their mother, biting her tail and ears, that Erwin had decided to put up a fence around the warren to keep the bunnies safe. He hadn’t thought anything of it until a few days ago, when he’d gone a little too close and petrified them, too terrified to move. They’d been at the edge of the fence, reaching up to try and see what was on the other side.
“Yes, I am.” he replied eventually.
“Even though you know that the foxes will likely eat them?”
“It’s the chance we all have to take,” Erwin muttered.
Levi squeezed his hand.
“Ok, but you’re the one explaining to Samuel where the bunnies have gone?”
They sat for a while longer and then Levi sighed.
“It’s getting cold, c'mon.”
The kids were tucked up in their beds, snug and warm and so very beautiful. Erwin kissed them both on the forehead and then fixed the covers around them. It was one of the best decisions he’d made, letting Levi talk him into adopting.
“Hey,” Levi whispered from the end of the corridor, leaning against the door frame of their bedroom, arms crossed loosely in front of him. “Wanna make a baby with me?”