Chapter Ten: Hurt
_____ grinned as she closed the front door behind her. “Yo, guys! I’m back!”
The house looked to be empty, but _____ knew that at least one person was here because the door was unlocked. She walked into the vacant living room and sat down on one of the two couches.
Maybe they’re all out somewhere, she thought.
“Couldn’t stay away, huh, Fräu?”
She looked up to see Gilbert leaning on the wall near her. She stood up, smirking at the albino. “Miss me, Herr Awesome?”
He smirked back. “C’mere, you.” He grabbed her sleeve and hugged her tightly. He sighed softly. “Ja,” he mumbled. “I missed you.”
_____ relaxed herself and placed her hands on his shoulder-blades.
Gilbert suddenly pulled away, and his smirked returned. “But I wasn’t the only one who missed you. I think mein bruder missed you the most.”
_____ raised an eyebrow, but it did little to hide the fact that her cheeks were turning a light shade of pink. “I was only gone for two days, you know.” She turned her head to each side. “By the way, where is everybody?”
“West took Feliciano und Kiku out training. Und Toni dragged Lovino off somewhere. Probably to go see Bella.”
Gilbert flopped down on a couch. “West und the others should be back in a few. It’s almost time for training to end.”
As if on cue, the two heard the front door open, followed by a high-pitched male voice say, “Hello~! We’re home~!” Footsteps sounded from the foyer to the living room, stopping when the owner of those feet saw something that made him stare.
“Sorella?” muttered Feliciano. A wide smile crawled onto his lips, and he ran to the couch _____ was sitting on and wrapped his arms around her tightly. “Sorella! You’re back!”
_____ smiled at the Italian. “Yeah. I told you I’d come back, didn’t I?”
Feliciano let go of her. “Sì, but. . .I was kind of worried that you wouldn’t come back because. . .you wanted to go somewhere else. . .”
_____ blinked at him, then smiled warmly. “Hey. When I make a promise, I keep it.” She gave him a peck on the cheek. He blinked and felt the spot she kissed with his fingertips. “Besides,” she went on, “I wanted to see my little Feli again.”
Feliciano smiled. “And I wanted to see mia sorella again.” He repeated her gesture, kissing her lightly on the cheek.
“Good to see you again, Fräu,” said Ludwig as he and Kiku passed through the doorway.
_____ smirked. “And good to see you again, Luddy. You, too, Kiku.”
“Hai,” said Kiku. “Please excuse me, Ludwig-san, and Feliciano-san. We were just out training.”
“I know,” she replied, wiping her arms and hands to get Feliciano’s not-yet-dried sweat off.
“By the way, Fräu,” said Ludwig as he headed toward the kitchen, “you still haven’t done your part of our deal.”
“What’re you talking abou––oh. . .”
“Ja. You will come training with us tomorrow morning.” With that, he turned and left for the kitchen.
_____ groaned and lay fully on the couch, her head on the arm. “I don’t wanna.” She glanced at Feliciano. “But if you can make it through, I guess I can, too.”
Feliciano laughed tiredly. “Sì. But I barely make it. He works us really, really hard.” He stood up. “Well, I’m going to go shower. Lunch is already made in the kitchen.”
_____ shifted in her bed, trying to get comfortable. She was careful in her movement as not to wake the sleeping Italian beside her. She peered through the dark at his face. His eyes were softly closed, and he wore a peaceful smile. Sighing quietly, she slipped out of bed and walked into the hall. She wandered about in the hall for a few moments, then, for reasons she did not know, she silently went into Ludwig’s room.
She saw the German lying on his back in his full-size bed. She stepped over to his bedside, just looking at him. His face was relaxed, so much so that _____ had to do a double-take and make sure it was Ludwig in the bed in front of her. _____ smiled softly at him and ran her fingertips gently across his tousled blond hair, then pulled back suddenly as his eyebrows furrowed for a moment. Slowly, his eyes opened, and they widened slightly when they directed their focus on _____. “_____,” he said, sitting up and turning on the bedside lamp. “What are you doing in here?”
_____ blinked, then a light shade of pink colored her cheeks. Embarrassed, she muttered, “I-I, um. . .”
She rubbed the back of her neck. “I had a bad dream. . .”
Ludwig’s confused and agitated expression softened, and he stayed quiet for a moment. “Oh. . .” He glanced down at his bedsheets, then shifted over to the other side of the bed. His cheeks turned red as he gently patted the space beside him.
_____ hesitantly slipped into the bed and sat beside him. A long and awkward silence fell over the two.
Ludwig suddenly cleared his throat. “Do you. . .want to talk about it?”
_____ smiled slightly. “Alfie told you about my brother, didn’t he?”
“. . .Ja.”
She sighed deeply. “I dreamed that I was walking home from school, and when I got home, he was there. He was just standing in the living room, waiting for me. He looked at me with this. . .insane smirk and said, ‘Hey, sis. What’s up?’ Then he tied me down to a chair and. . .made me watch him kill himself. And it wasn’t like how it would’ve actually happened. It was. . .slower. . .” She held her face in her hand. “When I tried to close my eyes, he would pry them open and say, ‘What’s the matter, sis? Don’t you wanna see what you caused?’” She let out a shaky breath. “God, there was so much blood. . .”
Ludwig kept his gaze on _____ as she began to cry. Her shoulders were hunched as she hung her head. Tears fell from her eyes and onto the clean bedsheets. Ludwig slowly raised his hand and placed it gently on her back, moving it up and down her vertebrae. “Es tut mir leid, Fräu,” he mumbled.
_____ furiously wiped her eyes. “It’s––I just. . .want him to leave me alone. Dammit, why can’t he just leave me be?!” Before she could wipe them away, new tears spilled from her eyes.
Not certain of what to do, Ludwig took her in his arms and held her gently, shushing her quietly as he rocked her back and forth. He closed his eyes and furrowed his brows, his chin resting on the top of her head.
_____’s tears subsided and her breathing became normal again. She leaned her head on Ludwig’s collarbone, her body relaxing in his arms. Her eyes closed slowly.
“_____?” Ludwig looked down to see that she was already fast asleep. He sighed softly and gingerly placed her on the bed next to him, patting her head. He glared upward. “You’re hurting her,” he said quietly, and edge obvious in his voice. “You need to stop. I’m sure she only wants to remember the good things you did, not the bad. Und definitely not the last thing you did. As her friend, I want you to stop. I did not know you––I do not even know your name. . .but I’m begging you to let her be. She has suffered enough, und I do not think you would want to see her suffer anymore.” He leaned over _____ to turn off the lamp and forced himself to go to sleep.