"How is he...?" You heard Gilbert whispered as you slowly and silently shut the door behind you as you exited.
You smiled slightly. "He should be fine as long as the dogs don't start barking again."
Going back into the living room, you sat beside Gilbert on the couch, looking towards the lit up and decorated tree beside you. "Is Ludwig going to be coming home this Christmas...?"
Gilbert shrugged, letting you snuggle up to him. "Who's to know. He could be back today, next week or next year."
"Will he ever come back...?"
Gilbert sighed, holding you close and kissed your head. "Of course he will...I thought you knew him. He may be my younger brother but he's stubborn as an ox but he's tough."
"Gilbert...it's been almost four years..." Tears began to collect in your eyes. "I never told him about...anything going on here..."
"Maybe you should write a letter..." Gilbert suggested, getting up to fetch you a pen and paper. "At least let him know he has something waiting for him when he gets back...or at least gives him something to fight for..."
You nodded, watching as he got you a pen and paper, laying it out in front of you. He smiled and ruffled your hair,"when you're done, just go to bed. You've been working hard this year, you deserve some shut eye."
"Night Gil..." You mumbled as he walked away. He went into his room silently and shut the door. Your three dogs lay asleep on the rug, basking in the warmth of the house and trying to enjoy some sleep.
For a short while, you wrote but after some time passed, you started to fall asleep by the coffee table. Pulling a blanket over your shoulders, you continued writing until you had fallen asleep with your face on the paper.
Ludwig opened the door with ease, being silent as to not to disturb you in your sleep. What surprised him was seeing you asleep with your head in your arms, crossed in front of you on the coffee table in the living room.
He smiled, slowly coming over and trying to be light on his feet to not wake you. A light kiss was planted on your cheek and he noticed your scribbled, nearly unreadable words.
I know it's sudden, but I've been keeping something important from you. For the lonegst time, I've deen meaning to tell you adout thIs. I hope you understnd why I never tod yo
The pencil trailed on from there. He smiled, seeing the mistakes and thinking how you usually were unable to write when tired and made the dumbest mistakes when you did.
He then noticed his brother's blanket draped over you. Now assuming that his brother was visiting for the holidays, he went into the hallway. Firstly, he wanted to check his old office which was probably collecting dust by now.
When he opened the door and flicked the lights on though, he saw a bedroom, painted a darker blue decorated with children's toys on the floor and posters on the wall. On the nightstand next to the bed, a picture of Ludwig saluting in his uniform stood. That was taken before he left for the army. And in the bed, a young boy began to stir.
His eyes opened and Ludwig stepped back. The child's eyes were a mirroring image to his own, icy blue and shimmering. His hair was like his wife's own (h/c) but shorter and tussled from sleep.
Both of them stared towards each other in shock. The boy looked at the picture then back at Ludwig. Tears brimmed his eyes as he slowly got out of bed and slowly went over to him. "D-Daddy...?"
Ludwig watched as he came over, eventually hugging his legs as if he were going to leave. "Daddy...? Y-You are my daddy right...? L-Ludwig...mama told me that's my daddy's name..."
He lifted the child up into his arms, holding him close. His eyes were still wide with shock. 'How came she's never told me...I've had a child this whole time...'
"Ja..." He said softly with a smile. "I'm...I'm your vater...I'm your dad..."
The child began to cry loudly, chanting 'daddy' repentantly. That's when you awoke, thinking that your son was having another nightmare in which Ludwig died. It made your stomach tie in knots, thinking about loosing him.
"Erich...it's okay honey...mommy's com-" you paused, seeing someone dressed in a military uniform turn around. Your husband, after four years, had returned and was holding your-both of your-bawling child in his arms.
He smiled, opening one arm for you to step into which you did contently. You stood numbly in his arms before you started crying too, just trying to get a grip on reality. Erich put his hand gently on your cheek, making you look towards him.
"Mommy...pease don't cry...daddy's back...s-see..." His voice started to shake. "I-I don't want you ta cry anymore mommy..."
Taking him in your arms, you shook your head. "Sh...I don't want to see you crying either...I'm just happy...I'm so happy our family is together now..."
Ludwig leaned over, pressing a soft kiss to your lips before brushing the tears from your eyes. Then he looked towards your son...his son and smiled. "You shouldn't be crying. You're a tough little soldier, aren't you...?"
"Y-Yeah...!" He quickly wiped the tears away from his eyes. "I was the man of the house. I-I made sure everything was in order...!"
Ludwig saluted,"Then I relieve you of your duty. I'll be taking over from here on out." He took Erich in his arms, jouncing him slightly. "You've done a good job watching over your mother for me..."
He nodded, grabbing Ludwig's jacket and shutting his eyes. You smiled, seeing how happy both were with each other. "How about you sleep with your mother and I tonight...?"
Erich nodded, barely able to keep awake. Ludwig carried Erich to your room, laying him down and tucking him in. You waited by the door, smiling as your husband kissed his head with a smile on his face.
He came out into the hallway with you, going into the living room and sitting silently together. He pulled the blanket over you, rubbing your arms gently. "I...I don't know what to say...when...?"
"He was born after you left...I found out a few weeks after you left for the army but I was worried how you would feel about starting a family..." Turning to your side, you pressed your ear to his chest to listen to his heart. "I called Gilbert when I find out and he's been living here ever since...but I always told Erich stories about you. He always wanted to meet you, you know? He loves that picture of you in his room..."
Ludwig smiled, kissing your temple. "Well, I've decided that I'm not going back to serve...I can't now...I have so much here now...I'm not signing up for another tour..."
A smile came on your face and tears began to fall once more. "H-How about we go lay down...Erich is going to begin wondering where we are..."
He smiled back, nudging your cheek gently with his. His arms went under your body and lifted you up bridal-style in his arms, carrying you to bed and laying you carefully beside your son.
Ludwig threw off his jacket and boots before climbing in beside you both, managing to wrap you and your son in his arms. "You better not leave me again Luddy...your family needs you..."
His hand gently pressed against your cheek, lightly brushing it with his thumb. "I promise you I won't be leaving you anytime soon. I love you more than you can fathom."
Both of you shared a quick kiss before falling asleep in his arms.
Gilbert woke up early, peeking into your door to see you curled up with Erich, his little brother right beside you. He noticed how peaceful Ludwig's face was in his slumber.
Going over to your bed, he shook awake Erich. The child looked at him, confusion in his tired eyes. "You know that's your daddy, right?"
"Mhm..." He mumbled, resting his head on your stomach. "Daddy came last night..."
Gilbert lifted him in his arms. "Just give them a little time to themselves when they wake up, okay? Your mommy missed daddy a lot."
"I know..." He mumbled, resting his head on Gilbert's shirt, starting to fall asleep again. "That's the best present I ever gots..."
"I know..." The German whispered back as Erich finally fell asleep again. He laid the child back down with Ludwig, smiling at the reunited family. "You're gunna be a real good dad little bro..."
Walking out of the room, he gently closed the door, trying not to awaken the sleeping family.