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High Tide

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Ludwig carefully stared at his brother. How did he even know his name? It wasn’t like Feli had introduced himself to Gilbert before, had he? But because Gilbert hadn’t freaked out like he did, and he knew the merman’s name, he had to know him somehow?

He crossed his arms over his chest and avoided Gilbert’s gaze. “I don’t know what you mean, I was only trying to help the creature back into the water.”

“Cut the bullshit and tell me the truth,” Gilbert stepped closer to him and gave a dark look, one Ludwig rarely saw. “What do you know about Feliciano?”

Ludwig uncrossed his arms and sighed. His brother didn’t even need to see through his words this time. It was stupid to think he could pull that one off. He closed his eyes and shifted mindlessly in the tide. “I think we should have this conversation at the house.”

Gilbert carefully studied his younger brother to try and find any lies behind his words before nodding. “Then let’s go.” Without waiting for a response, he turned and started to the house. Gilbert didn’t even hear Ludwig say anything,only hearing his footsteps following him.

It was a very silent and awkward walk back to their house, and Ludwig swore he could feel his brother’s anger seething through the air. Gilbert rarely got angry, but when he did you were in trouble. Before their grandfather came to get them, a child had bullied Ludwig where they were waiting, making fun of his German accent and looks, calling him names and making horrible jokes. Gilbert had enough of it, got pissed off, and had punched him so hard he broke his nose.

Once they reached their house, Gilbert took out a key and unlocked the door. He turned and waved Ludwig to go in. “Look West,” he followed him inside and slammed the door, “I get that you have secrets. But now we have to be honest, okay?” Ludwig hesitantly nodded. “How the fuck do you know Feliciano?”

Ludwig glanced around the room, as if somewhere there was a hidden answer for this situation. “I helped him back into the water before.” He finally muttered under his breath.

“And he magically got in trouble again? You’d think he had learned his lesson,” Gilbert sneered as he went to the kitchen and brought out a beer.

“H-he did, but he wanted to see me again and,” Ludwig stopped when his brother glared at him. “Gilbert, I know that you are angry-”

“I’m not angry, Ludwig!” Gilbert snapped. He set down his beer with a shaking hand and took a deep breath. “I..I just didn’t think I’d ever see him again.”

Ludwig creased his eyebrows and stepped towards Gilbert. “You saw him before?”

Gilbert shook his head and swallowed. Ludwig saw tears swimming in his eyes and carefully walked over. “Bruder, what’s wrong?”

“I saw him the night they died.”

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Lightning flash above the two young boys in the water. The waves were starting to get wildly out of control and Gilbert was scared that he would lose his brother in the currents like their parents. “Ludwig! Hold on to me,” a young albino shouted over the wind. “I don’t want anything to happen to you!”

“Gilbert, I’m scared!” Ludwig cried back.

“Don’t be, I’m here. I promise, we’ll get out of this.” He flashed him a smile and grabbed his arm. “Now, swim.”

The two of them held onto each other for dear life, looking for land. The storm raged on, soaking the two even farther. The waves started to crash into each other as if it were a contest. Ludwig was struggling to keep up with his brother, but Gilbert made sure he was okay. “Come on, it can’t be much farther ahead!”

“Gil, I don’t see any land!”

“It’s okay, we’ll mak-” Gilbert stopped talking as a huge wave crashed over the two of them. It pushed them down deep into the water. Still grasping his hand tightly, Gilbert managed to push the two of them up to the surface, only to be pushed back down again into the water. Kicking his way back to the surface, Gilbert had pushed Ludwig along up to the surface to find that he was unconscious. “Ludwig? Luddy?! Luddy,” he shook his brother harshly. “Wake up!”

Gilbert started to cry and held onto his brother tightly, not even noticing the wave behind him forming until he was knocked into the water again, this time his sight darkening as well. With a grunt of determination, he began to try and fight the current, but to no luck. With no energy left, he wasn’t able to move as well as he could’ve. He continued to try until he felt nothing in his hands anymore. Shouting, and losing all of his remaining oxygen, he turned to find his brother had disappeared into the dark depths of the stormy water.

He began to panic and tried to search the water for anything, something, that would lead him to his brother. But the only effect that had was that he soon began to drown himself. He didn’t have any energy left to drag himself back to the surface for air, nor any air left to spare himself. His lungs were on fire and it felt like somebody was squeezing his head. The albino felt himself begin to drift off into the darkness when he saw a flash of something.

A young merman watched the two from nearby. He had saw their boat go down and wanted to investigate what had happened to the humans occupying it. When he saw the parents drift away from the children, he went after them to try and help them. The two adult humans shook their heads madly, screaming to save their children instead. They didn’t even question why a baby fish-boy had suddenly appeared, instead more concerned for their kids’ lives.

With a regretting glance to the humans, Feliciano swam back to where the kids were as fast as his young body could and saw that they had been pushed underwater. The one with silver hair was barely conscious while his brother, with very odd hair, was already gone. He paused for a second in his thoughts and tried to process why humans had such weird hair colors. He decided to save that thought for later and with a push of his tail, set off towards the two.

He grasped the younger one first then swam quickly to the conscious one. When he grabbed his hand, the boy’s eyes widened in shock and he tried to say something, but Feli was too busy trying to pull their weight up to the surface. Gilbert tried to help, but with what little energy he had he wasn’t much help.

Still, Feli smiled at him for trying and swam towards calmer waters. When he finally managed to get them to a safer place, he brought them up to the surface. Gilbert took a sharp inhale of air and coughed out the water that had been drowning his lungs. Feli gave Ludwig to him and watched as Gilbert checked to see if he was okay. Ludwig’s heart was still beating and he was breathing, but it was labored. Gilbert turned to Feli and swallowed deeply. “D-do you know where any land is?”

Feli blinked slowly as he tried to remember where some was. He knew where they were, but it was a while before they could actually get to some land. It would be about a full night before they could reach anything.

Gilbert mistook his confused silence as not being able to understand him. “Of course you don’t speak English, you’re a fish, what would you know?”

Feli looked up and frowned. “I can speak English, I’m trying to think!”

Gilbert shrieked like a little girl who just saw a mouse. “It talked!”

Feli sighed deeply and shook his head. He grabbed Gilbert’s shaking hand and started off towards the land. Gilbert was shaking his head and panicking so badly he cried.

After a few hours of treading water, Feli stopped and turned towards Gilbert and a still unconscious Ludwig. “The land is just over there,” he pointed to the beach. “Do you think you can make it that far?”

Gilbert nodded and began to swim but stopped. “Wait,” he turned to Feli once more. “What’s your name?”

Feli grinned slightly. “Ve, Feliciano Vargas, but my friends call me Feli. What’s yours?”

“I’m the awesome Gilbert. And this is my not so awesome of a brother, Luddy.”

“Those are weird names.”

“Says the fishy boy!”

The two of them laughed until an awkward silence took over them. Gilbert glanced towards the shore and back again. “Thank you for your help with this.” Feli nodded and watched as Gilbert took them back to the shore before disappearing into the water.

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A silence fell over the household as Ludwig watched his brother drink his beer awkwardly. Ludwig couldn’t process this. Feliciano, his Feli, had saved him and his brother before when their parents had died? Gilbert had said that he brought him to the shore and waited until he woke up before he searched for somebody to help them. His brother...lied to him?

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Gilbert looked up to see his brother glaring at him with his arms crossed. “You lied.”

“No, I just left out some of the truth. Feliciano and I did take you back to the shore, but I said only I did.”

Ludwig shook his head and left the room. “Ludwig, wait.” Gilbert stood up and tried to go after his brother, but his only response was a door slamming from upstairs. He sighed and threw his beer bottle across the room. “This is so not awesome.”

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Feliciano Vargas was swimming faster than he ever had before. Not only did he attack his brother for a human, but he left with the human and he knew his brother had saw him go onto shore for him. Not only that, but when he went back into the water, his brother was gone. Meaning two things, one that Lovino was mad (but he always was anyway), or two that he had told Grandpa about this (which was another likely option).

When he finally reached their home he knew he was too late. His grandpa was waiting outside for him and he swam up so fast he nearly swam into Feli. His Grandfather brought him into a strong hug and began sobbing. Feli instantly felt the guilt seep into him as he awkwardly “stood” there. “Grandpa? Grandpa, I’m fine, I just-”

“I thought you died!” Roma sobbed. “When Lovino told me what happened and how you didn’t come back for hours, I thought you were killed!”

He brought Feli out of the hug and grabbed his shoulders tightly. “Don’t you ever do that again! Do you understand me? Never again!” He brought him back into a hug and squeezed tightly. “I don’t want to lose you too.”

Feli hugged him back and watched the light dance under the water for a bit as his grandpa babbled on about how dangerous that was, how risky it was, how he could’ve died, the usual speech he received when he was on shore or too close to the land for too long.

After a while, Roma released him from their embrace and let him be while he thought over the situation. While his grandfather was doing that, Feli tracked down Lovino. Something wasn’t right, if Lovino had told Roma what had happened, things would’ve been different. He wouldn’t be able to leave their cave if something like that had happened and Roma heard about it.

“Fratello,” Lovino called from his section of their cave. Feli swam over to him and watched his brother rise up, anger clearly written all over him. “What the hell was that?”

Feli took a deep breath and crossed his arms to try and look braver than he was. “I could ask you the same thing, why did you try and hurt Ludwig?”

“The human?” Lovino swam closer to him with his gills flapping angrily. “Why do you know that human’s name?”

Feli looked to the ground and rubbed his hair absentmindedly. “He’s uh...my friend.” At the look of his eyes widening, Feli realized his mistake and quickly tried to cover it up. “He wouldn’t ever hurt me, Lovino, he’s a nice guy! You would like him, really, he’s so nice and...and..”

His brother’s glare stunned him and he gulped. “Lovino, really, he wouldn’t do anything to hurt me. I swear.”

After a moment of tension, Lovino shook his head and raised his fist. Feli flinched and held up his arm to defend himself. Lovino shook his head and put it down. “If I ever see something like that again, I swear I’ll tell grandpa the truth, got it?” Feli nodded vigorously. “I protected you before and I sure as hell will do so later.”

Lovino swam past him without another word and Feli only glanced over his shoulder at him. He sighed in relief and swam over to his part of their cave. Once he rested on the sand, he smiled and finally relaxed. He had spent way too much time on land lately and he needed some rest.