okumen: Ludwig & Eduard | Meine Liebe (6)
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Ginyuu Mokushiroku Meine Liebe
Eduard/Ludwig, Orphe, Augusta
Title is Begin the Beguine by Cole Porter.

----

“I do worry,” Orpherus said. He watched his best friend, who was sitting on the edge of the pier in a crouch. Ed looked up, away from the water that stretched far off. It was impossible to see where the other side of the lake met with the grass and rocks, but the hills and forest grew tall into the clear sky. “You said that before but I don’t really get it. What are you so worried about?”

“Ludwig invited you to his cousin's wedding, rather than inviting Naoji, or Camus. Or a lady to be his date for that matter. I doubt anyone expected for that to happen.” Ed hummed, nodding. “I know that. So?” Orpherus was silent for a minute or two, his gaze returning toward the uneasy lake. “It's impossible to know what he thinks.” That was the single sentence that he finally settled on. It didn’t clarify what had him so concerned, in Ed’s mind, but it wasn’t as if he disagreed. So he shrugged. “I know. He's a complicated person. But that makes him Lui. And a complicated person can still be a good person, and Lui is a good person.”

“Well, yes, I suppose…….. You are far too trusting sometimes.” Eduard laughed at that. “Speak for yourself,” he said with a grin. “You’re actually worse than me you know? It’s just that you and Lui are a bit on each other’s toes all the time because of your differences in politics so you’re wary of him. Maybe the both of you should learn how to compromise a little, I’m sure you’ll get along much better then. Though I don’t know, he at least seem to enjoy your arguments. And you get riled up but you’d miss them too right?”

“You…” Orpherus sighed, shaking his head as the air slipped past his lips with the word. “Your good nature and kindness will cause you trouble some day.”

“That’s fine,” Eduard shrugged, grin still in place. “trouble seems to like me.” Which was true, he was pretty good at getting into trouble. But he was pretty good at getting out of it as well, one way or other. That he was quick on his feet and street-smart certainly helped. “Anyway, you still haven’t explained what you’re so worried about.”

Orpherus refrained from making a wry face, though Eduard saw the twitches at the corners of his eyes and mouth and knew he was suppressing one. Always the gentleman even when implying things that might be less polite, his best friend. “You know he will use anything or anyone for his gain. I simply want you to be careful so you are not involved in one of his schemes.”

“He’s in mourning, you know. Besides, what’s he gonna gain from me? My mother’s strudel recipes?” Eduard applied a doubtful expression on his face. Orpherus arched a blond eyebrow at him. “Every kind you make are delicious every time, but that is not what I was talking about.”

“You know I was joking right? I was being sarcastic. Really Orphe. You also know that he’s tried to push us away to not get us involved so I think it’s a good thing that he doesn’t do that this time.” Eduard pushed himself to an upright position, shoving his hands into his jacket’s pockets. “I really think your worry is unfounded, but if I notice anything’s up I’ll keep an eye out. Will that put you at ease?” He really doubted that Ludwig was up to anything at the moment though. At most what he was up to was getting some comfort from someone that had been through something similar, and to get the same for his siblings. From Eduard’s observations, Ludwig didn’t know what to do with himself or his feelings at the moment, and he needed help. Why he had chosen Eduard though, he really didn’t know for sure, it was just a guess and as he had said, Ludwig was a complicated person.

Under Eduard’s determined gaze which still held a smile, Orpherus finally yielded. “Very well, I will accept that. Please be careful though, Ed. A royal wedding will surely be an event unlike any other and I’m not sure you will enjoy it.”

“I know.” Eduard scratched his cheek absently. “It’s a huge deal, and I’m really putting myself in a situation I’ll find uncomfortable but if it helps him and the other two, then it’ll be worth it and I won’t regret it. Either way I don’t regret accepting and I won’t regret it. He’s my - our - friend, and it’s a tough time for him right now. So I’m going to help as much as he lets me.”

*****


“Big brother.”

Ludwig turned away from the newspaper. Breakfast was over with, and he had, for a break from the preparations and the people in black mourning clothes moving through the mansion, retreated to the library where they would leave him alone.

At first he could not find the source of the voice, but then he saw his younger sister and brother peer around one of the massive bookshelves. He frowned a little, unnoticeably, at them. “What are you two hiding there for?” he asked them. Kilian looked down at the floor scuffing a shoe against the floor, but Elise did not turn her gaze from Ludwig’s. She cleared her throat, stretching her entire body - tall for a girl of 11 but not as tall as Ludwig had been her age - and she raised her chin. Her posture was very similar to her older brother’s and her voice contained a certain amount of autocratic tones that reminded him of himself, as did the attitude she showed people as well. “Brother, please read to us.”

For several moments, he looked at the two children in silence. The only sound that was heard was Kilian’s nervous shuffling of his feet. Among several things, the seven year old boy had a bit of a problem with being wholly still, it had been noted early on and it was something that his tutors complained about to each other. Ludwig didn’t like that they used his brother’s inability to pay attention or lack of focus as an excuse to call him stupid and mock his lack of scholarly achievements, which certainly were more than lacking, particularly in comparison to what his older siblings had done at his age. But Ludwig knew that his brother really was clever and talented if something really did manage to catch his attention. He had gotten more than one tutor dismissed because of the attitude they showed towards Kilian when nobody else was looking, and because of comments he had heard them exchange behind their employers’ backs.

Kilian loved fencing though, and it was hard to tear him away from the fencing instructor when he was around. Despite being so young, he could nearly keep up with Ludwig’s swordplay, as well as best his sister’s. She also stubbornly kept joining her brother’s lessons, ever since she decided that she ought to learn as well despite being a girl. Both his siblings could really be a handful, and they had been even more demanding since Ludwig returned home two days ago.

The newspaper could very well wait for a while longer though, even if he needed a break from everything that included liveliness. It had started to contain a too high amount of propaganda, to be to his taste. He wished they contained more unbiased information, so that the truth was unobscured. But he knew that was too much to ask for, particularly in a time such as this, where unrest was increasing. He would still dutifully read all the articles of course, but they did wear on him. Peace, it seemed, might not last much longer. He really did hope that Kuchen could stay out of it but it was unsure if it would be able to remain neutral in the future. His majesty was getting old as well, and with no sons, it was uncertain of what would become of their country, particularly under the leadership of his cousin the princess’ consort, whoever that would turn out to be. It was not the oldest princess that was soon getting married.

He rubbed the crease that he felt growing on his brow and relaxed his face best he could, and folded up the paper. “Very well,” he said. Kilian's face lit up, and he rushed past his sister, nearly knocking her over in his hurry. “Kilian, mind your sister,” Ludwig remarked as he placed the paper to the side on a table. “Sorry, Eli!” Kilian shouted at her and she shook her head with a huff as she made her way over to them. Ludwig managed to not groan when Kilian jumped into the couch and his lap with little heed for how he got where he wanted to be. Ludwig was not very good at physical contact, while Kilian was not very good at boundaries. Well. Being friends with a person like Eduard certainly helped him practice while he was away.

The thought of Eduard made him pause, though Kilian didn’t notice it. Elise, however, much more capable of paying attention than Kilian and much more attuned to their older brother’s moods, did notice. “Brother, your face is weird,” she commented. Ludwig scowled at her and shook his head. Kilian tipped his head backwards, trying to see his face but unable to do so properly from where he sat in Ludwig’s lap. “My face is perfectly normal,” he said. “Kilian, try to bounce just a little less, please. I won’t be able to see the pages well enough.”

Kilian puffed up his cheeks, and chose to slip out of Ludwig’s lap and sit on his other side, pressed up against his side. He knew that he would be unable to keep still, which was why he had elected to not sit in his brother’s lap after all. He pushed the book into Ludwig’s hands, and he turned it right-way up to see what it is they had brought. “The Story of Doctor Dolittle?” He had not heard of the title before. “Very well… The Story of Doctor Dolittle, Being The History Of His Peculiar Life At Home And Astonishing Adventures In Foreign Parts Never Before Printed.” That certainly was a title… “To All Children Children In Years And Children In Heart---

“Don’t read the dedication!” Kilian interrupted. His bouncing was causing Ludwig’s arm to shake a bit, since the boy was holding on to it, but at least it was not terribly difficult to read what was written. Ludwig frowned at his little brother. Reading to the children had been mother’s task, and she had loved doing it. But Ludwig had little experience in this field. Least of all to Kilian, who had little interest in most written word unless it somehow related to fencing. “Am I not supposed to read the work in its entirety?” Kilian shook his head. “You read the story,” he said with much conviction. Ludwig sighed, but obliged and turned to the first page of the actual story.

Once upon a time, many years ago when our grandfathers were little children--there was a doctor; and his name was Dolittle-- John Dolittle, M.D. "M.D." means that he was a proper doctor and knew a whole lot.” Ludwig glanced to the side as he felt Elise snuggle closer to him. She was holding on to his other arm. He turned his gaze back to the page. “He lived in a little town called, Puddleby-on-the-Marsh. All the folks, young and old, knew him well by sight. And whenever he walked down the street in his high hat everyone would say, "There goes the Doctor!--He's a clever man." And the dogs and the children would all run up and follow behind him; and even the crows that lived in the church-tower would caw and nod their heads.

At first he didn’t see why they wanted him to read that particular book - Elise perhaps, she had at one point declared that she would become a doctor, though she had declared she would do several other things as well (such as not getting married) and it was a little hard to know if she was going to stick long to whatever path she had set upon; but not Kilian. This was one peculiar doctor though. Keeping mice in the piano, rabbits in the pantry and a squirrel in the linen closet. Certainly something that might appeal to children, he supposed. And to certain someones, as well. The opinion of preferring animals over the ‘best people,’ as well, reminded him of his friend. He supposed Eduard wouldn’t sell his piano though, except maybe if it was for the sake of his horse.

And now,” he read as his brother fidgeted and his sister pressed close and he himself kept on being reminded of Eduard without even attempting to be reminded of him. “when he walked down the street in his high hat, people would say to one another, "There goes John Dolittle, M.D.! There was a time when he was the best known doctor in the West Country--Look at him now--He hasn't any money and his stockings are full of holes!" But the dogs and the cats and the children still ran up and followed him through the town --the same as they had done when he was rich.” He didn’t understand that. Was the man that likeable? Or were children that uncaring about status? Was it a thing that children of the common people did? He couldn’t say that he ever would have been able to relate to that, even as a child. "I knew that parrots can talk," said the Doctor. "Oh, we parrots can talk in two languages-- people's language and bird-language," said Polynesia proudly. "If I say, `Polly wants a cracker,' you understand me. But hear this: Ka-ka oi-ee, fee-fee?" “Good Gracious!" cried the Doctor. "What does that mean?" "That means, `Is the porridge hot yet?'--in bird-language." "My! You don't----” He was, once again, interrupted by his brother.

“Ka-ka oi-ee, fee-fee?” Ludwig nodded. “That’s what it says.” Kilian stared at him with wide eyes. Then he leapt to his feet. “Ka-ka oi-ee, fee-fee!” he cried. “Parrots say kakaoiefeeefe! I need to tell mother---” Suddenly he fell completely silent. Ludwig felt Elise clutch tighter to his arm and bury her face against it. Kilian crouched down on the floor, burying his face against his legs. Ludwig had not seen him be that still while awake before.

“Kilian, come over here,” he said after several long moments of silence. The atmosphere in the room was heavy, when they were hit all over again with the thought that their mother was gone and never would come back. Kilian didn’t move, still. It was, to be honest, weird. It was annoying at times that he couldn’t stay still when it was important, but this was worse. He didn’t know what to do.

Awkwardly, Ludwig cleared his throat. “Why don’t you ask Eduard to read this to you when he comes? I’m sure you would enjoy it more.”
“Ed is coming!?” Kilian reacted as Ludwig had hoped, face turning up at him with wide eyes. There were tears in his eyes, but they had not started to fall yet. He didn’t get up off the floor, but at least he wasn’t curled up into a ball as much any more.

“...I want to hear brother read it.” Elise’s muffled voice was heard from Ludwig’s sleeve.
“I’m not very good at it,” Ludwig protested. Really, he wasn’t. He could not manage any proper ardour in the words, or make it sound as if different people - or animals, in this case - were talking. He remembered that mother was able of doing that. She had been a very talented storyteller “No, I want brother to read it.” Elise insisted.

“In that case… Once we have read it, you can tell Ed all about it.” Elise nodded. Kilian, after Ludwig asked him to come back once more, finally moved and curled up in his seat again, this time rocking back and forth against Ludwig’s arm.

It was hard, knowing how to deal with everything. His siblings were much younger than him, and had been more dependant on their mother---Kilian most of all. Ludwig missed her too though he didn’t know how to express it. He could deal with it though, he was used to hiding what he felt, both when he did and didn’t understand what those feelings were. Surely he would be able to do it properly with some practice.

*****


Augusta’s home felt much more welcoming than his father’s house. Although he had had more than one serious conversation with his step-mother since the time she attempted to shoot him, things between them were still far from fine, and it was clearly still hard on her that he was around. He was glad that father had taken what had happened seriously and was trying to repair things with her, too. She didn’t glare in that particular, sort of sad way, when he talked to his older sisters any more, she didn’t do that, but she was not completely happy about it either, he could tell.

So it was still a bit uncomfortable to be home, even if the pressure was a little bit lighter. He still went out a lot, with Althea, with Erika, with Orphe, with Augusta. His horse, and his friends, had always been a great support for him and his sister now, too, was trying to help build bridges.

“You’re getting better! Maybe you’ll soon be on my level!” Augusta said in a serious tone with a smile that, on her face, was a good-natured and a bit teasing smile. She brought her horse to a stop beside Althea, and the horses, familiar with each other since years back, calmly spoke to each other about secrets their humans didn’t really understand with body language and snorts. Ed patted Althea on her withers, relaxing the reins to let her stretch her neck.

Eduard laughed happily, feeling the blood rush from excitement in his body. “You honor me!” he said, unable to even pretend to be serious. Augusta’s cheeks were rosy with exercise, and his were surely so as well, even if the color of his skin didn’t show it very well. “Your turn, Augusta.” He held out a hand, and she dropped the stopwatch into his hand. He looked down at the time, noting that indeed, he had gotten better. He turned the hands back to zero, and moved Althea to the side so they wouldn’t be in the way as Augusta guided her horse through the course once more. Her time was very close to Eduard’s, this time she was beating him by only a few seconds. It was not unusual, that they got very similar times on the course, and it was always exciting to see who came out on top and who had to buy the other something to eat. “Oh man, I don’t stand a chance,” he chuckled as he gave her the time. She was smiling brightly. “See, what did I tell you?” she said proudly, a little breathless as she rode up to him on Emmeline. He couldn’t help but laugh more. “Yep, you sure told me. we’ll just have to try even more, huh. Or what do you say, Althea?” He scratched her mane and she snorted, moving her head up and down in a nod. “What do you say, should we try again in a bit?” Again, Althea seemed to agree.

Augusta rested her hands against the pommel of her saddle, observing her friend while he was talking with his horse. If only he wasn’t so oblivious all the time…. Honestly, she didn’t know what to do about that. Was the only way to make him understand by telling him how she felt and hope that, despite no signs of it, he liked her back as more than a friend? She doubted that he did, sadly. He had a lot of love, and he clearly cared for her, but not in the way that she cared for him. Opening his eyes to the fact that there were people that liked him in a more romantic way rather than one that was platonic however, probably needed to be done that way. She squeezed the reins in her hands, and Emmeline twisted an ear in her direction, sensing her mood. She patted her above the shoulder, then straightened her back.

“Ed,” she called, and he looked over at her. “Yeah?” He had to look up a bit, because Augusta’s horse was bigger than Althea. When they were in the saddle was the only time where he had to look up at her instead of the other way around. He wasn’t much taller than her, but he was none the less the taller one out of the two of them. Unless she was wearing high heels, but she wasn’t in the habit of that. Lower heels were much more manageable, and more convenient in the saddle. “Should we take a canter across the meadow before we take the hurdles once more?”

“Oh.” He nodded eagerly. “Yeah, let’s do that. I want Althea to get to run as much as possible while I can.”

-----

Introducing, Ludwig’s siblings. Since they don’t have names or ages as far as I know, I named and gave them ages them after bouncing some suggestions off of my Lui-fan sister, and ended up with 11yo Elise and 7yo Kilian. Elise wants to be a multi-talented woman that won’t care about having a husband, and one of her idols is Elizabeth Blackwell; Kilian is all snowed in on fencing and I was trying to make him ADHD (I don’t know how to phrase that in English, apologies). Since I have Aspergers myself, I want to put in some representation in fanfics sometimes, even if I might not be very good at writing it.

Strudel looks delicious when I google it, but I don’t think I’ve ever had any.

I also named Augusta’s horse. It’s named Emmeline after Women’s Political and Social Union founder Emmeline Pankhurst because I thought it might be suitable if she named her after her.

Next chapter will contain at least the start of the funeral but I have some research to do before I can write it. Buuut I’ll have to research weddings as well. I also need to do some more research on views on ADHD in the 1930’s before I push Kilian out into a setting of more people.

But I started reading that Doctor Dolittle mentioned above so I’m going to finish that first. By the way, I find the thought of Lui saying “ Ka-ka oi-ee, fee-fee” to be hilarious.
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