Why did I come here again? you thought exasperatedly, staring blankly at the pink, frilly collared shirt your blonde friend was shoving into your face with a determined expression gracing his features.
Your friend thought it would be a great idea to take you shopping with him. Clothes shopping, the one pastime you could not stand. It was something that you saw as an individual thing to do and only in necessary circumstances. You honestly could not understand your friend’s means to go to the mall and drag you along, especially since you were not willing to go in the first place.
‘Come on, _____! It’s totally cute, right?’ he shouted, his mouth split in a genial grin. You repressed a grumble. ‘I think it would look totally hot on you, girlfriend!’
‘Feliks, no,’ you mumbled, rolling your eyes as you raked through the endless clothing frames, wrinkling your nose in disgust at the majority of the styles hanging there. ‘Not my thing, mate.’
‘Aw, but you’ll be so adorable!’ Feliks exclaimed, his jade orbs round with enthusiasm. ‘Besides, you want to look good for when your Mr Right returns from his trip tonight, don’t you?’
The bottom of your stomach dropped as you pictured yourself wearing the hideous thing that Feliks held in his grip when your fiancé came through the front door. Cheeks going warm in embarrassment, you shook your head to clear your mind of the incriminating image.
‘Yeah, not happening, Feliks,’ you reprimanded, glaring lightly at your eccentric, Polish friend. ‘I would not be caught dead in that thing.’
Feliks shrugged and put the top back in its original spot with a defeated sigh. ‘Whatever, _____. I’ll just find you something else!’ he proclaimed and he hurried off in the direction of the women’s skirts.
A part of you doubted that he was going to hunt down a skirt for you – rather, you were positive that he was looking for that pink, plaid one he had told you about over the phone earlier. Despite the situation, a smirk spread across your face and you began to follow him, your brain focused on the one person you were longing to see.
You could almost sense his presence there and then, with his stern appearance and strong stature guarding you like a dragon protecting its treasures. However, you knew that demeanour hid his true nature: a kind, warm-hearted man with a bashful side and loving embrace. His azure irises were constantly filled with affection and tenderness, and his toned arms were always open to you. You loved him with all your heart and you were still giddy whenever you thought about the pair of you getting married.
The proposal had been simple and profound: it had left you feeling jittery and whole. You couldn’t wait for him to come back home.
‘Like, oh my God! I’ve found it!’
Oh dear God.
‘Look, _____, look! Isn’t it, like, totally hot?’ Feliks yelled, causing many of the other shoppers to gawk at him in alarm.
Once your (e/c) spheres laid upon the item, you groaned. Trust Feliks to pick something like that, you mused, getting ready to go over to Feliks and scold him when something caught your eye.
Usually when you went to the department store, you overlooked the section you were currently staring at. You never really considered that one day you were going to be married, have kids and be a mother until your most recent visit to the doctor. Regarding the particular area, your heart softened at the sight of tiny dresses and pants, shoes and socks, blankets and shirts. Fingering a sunny, flowery outfit, you thought of your fiancé, of little, pattering feet echoing around the house, of a petite one calling you ‘mama’.
‘Hey… you okay, girl?’
Not looking away from the attiring, you nodded, a small smile adorning your cheeks. ‘I’m fine, Feliks. I’ve just remembered that I have to tell Ludwig something when he gets home tonight.’
After chewing Feliks out about the rosy, tartan skirt – much to your failure as he bought it anyway – you had journeyed home, feeling incredibly excited. Ludwig was coming home later that evening, which gave you plenty of time to prepare for his arrival.
To think it’s only been a few weeks since he left, you mused, humming to yourself as you slid a tin of cake batter into the steaming oven.
Ludwig had been in Russia for a business trip – something about a “super important meeting” as he put it, but he nevertheless called you every night with an amorous façade and the promise of returning home to you. He would also tell you about his friends Feliciano and Kiku, an Italian and Japanese pair of associates who drove him up the wall. You loved hearing his stories and, occasionally, you had gotten the chance to have a chat with the two. The first time you talked to them both, Feliciano had tried to flirt with you and exclaimed that he wanted to meet you whereas Kiku had asked bluntly how on Earth you managed to tone Ludwig’s strict manner down, at which Ludwig spluttered so badly that he choked on his coffee.
Smiling fondly at the memory, you started to set the table for dinner, twirling around with cutlery in your hands, your (h/l), (h/c) strands fanning out behind you. Whilst doing so, you almost tripped over from the bounding forms of Berlitz, Aster and Blackie, Ludwig’s dogs.
‘Boys! Watch where you’re going!’ you admonished, setting down the forks and knives in their respective places. You heard them whine apologetically and felt one of their noses brush up against your leg.
Bending down to their level, you got knocked over as they leapt at you, sending you sprawling backwards onto the wooden floor. They licked at your face energetically, causing numerous giggles and squeaks to escape your lips.
‘Boys! Boys!’ you shrieked, laughing from their wet tongues and playful yaps. ‘Stop, you silly dogs!’
Managing somehow to sit up, you wrapped your arms around the nearest canine and moved him over. The three calmed down a little, their tails drumming against the ground vigorously, their panting husky. Aster, the Dachshund, hopped into your lap and nuzzled his snout against your stomach, yipping. He peeked up at you, his brown eyes glinting with knowledge.
So they can tell, huh? you thought, your fingers scratching behind Aster’s ears. Blackie and Berlitz laid their heads on your thighs, apparently reading the mood from Aster’s actions. Their fur felt soft underneath your tips and they provided warmth as the temperature dropped suddenly. You gazed out the window and saw that the sun had set and the stars were shimmering brightly.
‘Vati’s coming home soon, boys,’ you cooed at the dogs. ‘That’s right,’ you added as they got excited again. ‘He’s coming home.’
No sooner had the words left your mouth than the front door lock clicked. Berlitz, Aster and Blackie went in the direction of the hallway, giving you the leeway to get on your feet again. You could hear the eager barks of the dogs and a thud that told you that whoever was at the entrance had been bowled over by them.
‘Oi, oi – let me get in!’ a deep, accented voice yelled, muffled slightly to your ears. As you turned into the corridor, you saw, much to your delight, Ludwig – though he was currently being conquered by a Golden Retriever, a German Shepherd and a Dachshund. Their tongues made contact with Ludwig’s cheeks and ears, thrilled that their master had come back.
‘Come on, boys, let him get up,’ you told them, grabbing Blackie’s and Berlitz’s collars and dragging them away from Ludwig’s spread-eagled figure. ‘He needs my love too!’
Ludwig chuckled as he wiped his face with his sleeve, getting up from his spot on the floor with Aster in his arms. The puppy wriggled around in his grasp until Ludwig got the hint and put him down. You took the chance of enveloping your arms around his neck and pressing your lips to his.
‘It’s good to be home,’ he said, returning the barter. ‘I missed you.’
The dogs gave indignant whimpers, to which Ludwig replied, ‘Ja, ja, I missed you lot, too.’
You giggled, taking in Ludwig. His golden locks were a little bit dishevelled – likely from the dogs colliding into him – but still impressively slicked back in his usual fashion. Dark bags bordered his cerulean irises but they shone with ardour nonetheless. Suit rumpled, tie undone and his shoes kicked off to the side, he looked glad to be home. Lips curved in a tender grin, he leant his forehead against yours, resting his hands on your hips.
Suddenly, a low yet raucous grumble came from the pits of Ludwig’s stomach. You raised an eyebrow and he flushed in embarrassment.
‘Dinner?’ you offered, pecking his crimson cheek and taking his hand.
‘Bitte,’ he responded with a sheepish expression.
Dinner went by quicker than you thought. You listened to Ludwig as he told you about the meeting he had to attend, along with his stories about Feliciano and Kiku. You winced when he described the flight back: he had to sit next to a man who wouldn’t stop talking to him and who took up two seats. Then, the flight attendant had split scorching hot water onto him when the plane took a sudden turbulence and he ended up misplacing his bags through Customs.
‘I’m just glad to be home,’ he had said with a tired smile. ‘Especially since you’re here.’
Your face had resembled multiple tomatoes and beetroots at that.
After you had washed up and made two cups of tea, you settled yourself in Ludwig’s lap on the lounge. Berlitz, Blackie and Aster had made themselves comfortable on the other end, Aster’s head on your knee and Blackie’s and Berlitz’s forms coiled around each other. Warmth seeped through your jumper from Ludwig’s stocky chest and his arms around your waist.
‘How was your day, schatz?’ he whispered in your ear before kissing it. His soft touch never failed to send a jolt of pleasure down your spine. Large, calloused palms with surprising gentleness and a jealous edge whenever some other guy flirted with you or looked your way, you thought that Ludwig was the sweetest, most lovely man you had ever met.
‘Feliks took me shopping,’ you groused, sipping at your tea. ‘He tried to get me to try on this hideous pink, frilly shirt that he thought would look hot on me.’
Ludwig laughed loudly but subsided into sniggers when you smacked him.
‘In any case,’ you continued, craning your neck to look at him fully, ‘while he went to find this skirt he told me about, I came across the baby section. You should’ve seen the clothes, Ludwig. They were tiny.’
Your voice took on a wistful tone as you explained in detail the patterns and styles of the clothing you had seen. Ludwig didn’t say a word as you spoke, just merely hummed in interest seldom as you described flowery dresses, shoes that could fit into the palm of your hand and lace-embellished socks.
Tracing the rim of your mug, you murmured, ‘Imagine a little one around the house, Ludwig.’
You heard the dull thunk of Ludwig’s teacup being set upon on the coffee table beside the couch. Confused, you put yours next to his and peered up at him. He sent you a grin and clasped your hands in his, placing them on your abdomen.
‘You would make a wonderful mother, _____,’ he said in a susurrated voice. ‘I know it.’
‘Really?’ you queried, sounding doubtful. He nodded and nuzzled his nose in your neck.
‘Ja, really.’ You could feel his mouth curve in your décolletage. ‘Perhaps I should prove it by, say, making it happen?’
Aster woofed at that moment, catching both yours and Ludwig’s attention. He clambered up your leg and poked at your joined hands, yipping pithily, his tail wagging hurriedly.
‘Yes, I know, Aster. I was just about to tell him,’ you stated, patting his head.
‘Tell me what?’ Ludwig inquired, his fingers scrabbling under Aster’s chin. Berlitz’s and Blackie’s ears perked up and their heads turned towards the both of you, suddenly fascinated.
‘Tell you that as much I would love to take your offer, it won’t be necessary,’ you answered, shifting your position so that you faced Ludwig. ‘It’s not necessary because… it’s already happened.’
Ludwig’s fine brows contracted in puzzlement before shooting upwards into his hairline. His spheres went wide and his jaw slacked. The dogs squeezed between the pair of you, their muzzles rubbing against your middle affectionately.
‘I was going to tell you over the chat line and all but… I thought I should wait until you came home,’ you said, your slender digits disappearing into Ludwig’s blonde curls.
‘Y-You’re…’ he began, his voice cracking with an emotion you couldn’t quite put your finger on. ‘You’re… pregnant?’
‘Yes, Ludwig,’ you replied, your crown on his. ‘I’m pregnant.’
There was silence following your response. The butterflies turned into a stampede of cows and your hopes started to crumble. Is he… thinking twice about all this? you mused, moving backwards. You were startled to see Ludwig in deep thought – in deep thought with a smile to rival the happiest person alive.
‘Mein Gott,’ he mumbled, ‘you’re pregnant. You’re pregnant!’
Without another second wasted, the dogs hopped off the settee as Ludwig picked you up and spun around, your squeals and his laughter ringing in the space. Berlitz, Blackie and Aster barked in tune, running around your twirling forms. Your squeaks turned into full blown giggles as you clung onto your fiancé’s shoulders.
Once he had set you down, Ludwig showered all the exposed parts of your skin with kisses before planting his lips on yours firmly.
‘You make so happy,’ he breathed, his cobalt eyes shimmering with sentiment. ‘Ich liebe dich, _____.’
‘And I you.’
Berlitz pawed at your limbs, followed by using all his weight to push you into Ludwig, who, once again, fell over.
‘Yes, okay! I love you too, you jealous bunch of mutts!’ you cried, attempting not to squash Ludwig.
Ludwig crowed with amusement, the corners of his irises crinkled in happiness. He brought you down to meet his mouth with one hand while the other drew patterns along your belly.
You knew that Ludwig was going to be a great father and that the dogs would protect the little one as they grew up. This is going to be one crazy family – with Ludwig’s relations and these wild dogs! you thought. But I love it already.