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High Tide

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Feliciano Vargas was known for being scared about small things. He was known for the small incidents of being too scared of going to jump with the dolphins and staying behind at home. He was known for going up to shore and collecting shells when everybody else was collecting memories of their friends and families that surrounded them. But despite all the rumors that were going around about him, the stories that brought shame to his name, Feli had never been this scared.

Ludwig hadn't shown up for days now. He promised that he would come down everyday to see him, but for the past week nothing. No word, no dogs barking next to their very attractive owner, no amusing and reckless brother, nothing. And it scared Feliciano to the core. He didn't know if he was hurt, if he was in trouble with his grandfather, no news to soothe Feliciano's anxious thoughts.

And at the same time of him being absolutely frightened, it hurt him. His heart felt like it was going to drown with all the tears that he had been crying. The beating was either too fast or too slow, his heart couldn't make up it's mind. It hurt him to think that Ludwig would disappear like this, maybe he found somebody better. Maybe he found somebody that was human and could actually do things with him.

Feli's family was worried too, but they were also angry. Lovino told him repeatedly that he should've known this was going to happen, that he couldn't expect anything else from his stupid human friend. Grandpa Roma was more understanding and sympathetic, but all the same was a bit cross with Feli for getting so far into love that it hurt him like this. Antonio offered to take him to find more shells, and Feli declined politely. He knew that Antonio was only try to cheer him up, which he gladly appreciated.

So there he sat on the rocks, soaking up the sun. The waves carefully rolled up to resoak his shining blue scales and fins. He had been sitting on the rocks, waiting for you know who, every day the past week for hours. Today was a very nice day and he could feel the sun drying his hair. Maybe he would actually see what it felt like to have dry hair for once. He never stayed too long to find out before he met Ludwig, but he was more than willing ready to find out today if that meant seeing the cute blonde that affected his life.

He opened his eyes briefly to watch some seagulls playing over him. The annoying flying rats squawked at him a few times, but he never really payed them much mind. He learned to tune out a lot of things in his life that he didn't want to hear. Especially when it came to the words of others that he only knew would hurt him and leave emotional scars.

Which is probably why he didn't hear the approaching footsteps, coming at a fast pace.

Feli lazily flicked his tail through the water. It was a nice day and he couldn't help but daydream about what he and Luddy would do if he were there. Maybe he would take him to see the baby dolphins that would be coming here later in the year. They were pretty small and the moms chased you if you weren't too careful, but that only made it a bit more fun.

Just as he was thinking about their last kiss, a human hand grabbed his shoulder. His eyes snapped open and adrenaline rushed through his system like fire finding a dry field. He turned around quickly and struggled in the grip, screaming in a very feminine way that he would be embarrassed about later on. But in the meantime, he couldn't focus on anything but the human with white hair and a worried expression on his face. Wait-

"Ve, G-Gilbert?" He squeaked out of his petrified mouth.

"Ja, Feli. Jeez, I've been calling your name for, like, a few minutes. I know that you're not as awesome as me, but shouldn't your fishy hearing at least pick that up?"

Feli sighed heavily and looked at Gilbert with a suddenly anxious face. "Gilbert, where's Ludwig, is he okay, what happened? I haven't seen him in a few days and I'm really worried, did something happen?" He rushed the words, desperately trying to get any information at all out of Gil. Anything, anything was better than the nothingness he was experiencing. He always did hate being kept in the dark about anything, especially when it involved the love of his life.

Gilbert reached up with his hands and grabbed Feli's frantic arms, which were waving everywhere. The albino German said nothing and just watched Feli's eyes, which were now filled with tears of all the emotions he had experienced in the past week. The ever present smile of Gilbert was no longer present, in it's place was a small frown that made the merman's heart clench further. Something really did happen. Even if Ludwig had twisted his walking appendage again, whatever that was called (uncle?), his brother would find some way of making a joke out of it.

With a deep sigh, Gilbert moved his lips, saying something that Feliciano couldn't comprehend. It was like the entire world went silent when the words passed through his mouth. He couldn't be right, he saw Ludwig the other day. What Gilbert was saying didn't make any sense.

"W-what?"

"He's in the hospital right now, though, don't worry. They said he's going to be okay. Grandpa died, thank god, nobody liked him,, but Ludwig hit his head really hard." He paused to analyze the fish in front of him. "I'm sorry I wasn't down here sooner, they needed me to fill out some forms for my little awesome-ish bro."

"When can he come back?" Feli sobbed. "I miss him."

"Well, Feli, that's the thing." Gilbert let go of one of Feli's arms and rubbed the back of his head. He paused in everything he was doing and cursed under his breath. "How am I going to say this to you?" He pouted and turned back to Feliciano.

"Ludwig lost his memory. He still has bits and pieces of things, but the docs think that he lost the last three or four years." He let that sink in for Feli for a moment before continuing on. The look on his face was already like he was telling him Ludwig did die. Maybe it would've been better if he told him that. "He won't come to the beach anymore. He's scared of the water again. He doesn't remember you, or anything that happened in the last couple of years..."

Silence.

Feliciano couldn't move. He couldn't move from his paralysing status of numb pain he felt in his heart.

Then the numbness faded, bit by bit. And it began to kill him.

Feliciano couldn't find the air surrounding him anymore. It was impossible to breathe anymore. He couldn't see clearly with the tears in his eyes now streaming down his face. He was dimly aware of Gilbert apologizing with agony written on his face, a few tears escaping his own "awesome" eyes. But Feliciano couldn't. He really just couldn't do anything. Eventually he was aware of pain filled screams filling the air and only realized that they belonged to him when the pain from screaming so much filled his throat.

Gilbert stayed and comforted him for a while, but had to go back to the human world eventually. Feliciano simply stayed on the beach and cried.

It was like an out of body experience. He was a fish zombie, if that was actually a thing. He briefly wondered if it was, but gave up. What was the point? What was the point of anything anymore, really?

He was aware that months flew by, he was aware that he wasn't eating. He was aware that he went up everyday for almost the entire day waiting for Ludwig.

He never came.

He wasn't aware, however, that his family was far from being angry with the human anymore. After they had literally dragged Feliciano back into the sea, they were now scared. They were now struck with great worry about what would happen to Feli if he remained in his depressed state for too long. They tried to talk to him, tried to engage him in things, but their words were heard like they were muffled. As if somebody was trying to speak to him in water if he were...human. That word still stung him, months after never saying goodbye to his old Luddy.

He did however, see Gilbert one time after everything. He gave him something very important to him and made Gilbert swear that once Ludwig remembers that he would give it to him. Gilbert swore and also promised to deliver a "sappy chick flick message" to Ludwig. It was enough to put Feli back into a mild state of awareness, but it didn't last for long.

Word travels around the ocean like currents. The phrases of gossip swished around the water, changing direction almost instantly if it so choose to do so. It reached all living things if they were anywhere near the place of origin and would help spread it by swishing their tails, or simply breathing it. And eventually, word of a new, safe, area arose and reached the Vargas pod.

"Feli?" Roma called out to his grandson, who was currently sitting on the bottom of their cave on the sand.

Feli barely turned his head towards him, the only indicator of being aware that he spoke.

Roma took a deep breath. This would sting his grandson, but he had to hear this. He really needed to just hear this.

"Feli, I have endured the death of your mother and father. I will not stand to see an empty shell of a once full of life boy simply breathe." Feli didn't move. "We are leaving to go to another safer place."

Feli's head lifted up.

"We're going to be safe from the humans, Feli, no living creature for miles around us." Roma informed him as he watched panic fill his youngest family member's eyes.

"N..no." Feli choked out. This can't be right, it couldn't' happen. Despite it being the first time he's said anything in a long time, he couldn't give up in this. Ludwig might return and remember! What if he wasn't here?!

"Feli," Roma sighed. "It'll be okay. It's a new place, new shells you can collect-"

"NO!" Feli screamed.

"Feliciano!" Roma roared back. "This is not up for discussion. We are leaving."

"Then leave without me."

"Feliciano!"

"I can't leave him!" Feli pushed himself up from the ground and got in his grandfather's face. "I can't just give up on him like you did mom!"

A flicker of quick fear and regret filled him and he backed up. "Grandpa, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to say that."

Roma simply took a deep breath and looked at Feli with a stern look. "Feliciano, listen to me, we have been through this for many moons." He watched Feli with sad eyes in his expression. "He's not coming back."

The young merman shook his head and sobbed. "I'll stay. I stay until Ludwig remembers me and-"

"And let yourself be killed?" Roma shook his very old head with distaste at what Feli was saying. "No. I forbid it. You will come with us. It's not up for discussion." He turned and began to swim away. "We leave tomorrow."

"Grandpa, please!" Feli sobbed and chased after him. "I can't leave him. He might remember. I love him, I need to stay. Please, Grandpa," he sobbed. "Please."

"Feliciano." Roma sighed. "Listen closely. Even though Ludwig is...gone." He tried not to notice Feliciano flinch at his name. "The memories of you two remain with you. If you look back on those and make new ones, ones with your family, he will remember one day. You have to be happy again. Wouldn't he want that?"

Feli solemnly nodded, lip still trembling.

"The memories are still there, Feliciano. Maybe not with his head, but with his heart. His love is pure, just like you. He will remember in time. But we are out of time, my little one." Feli looked up at his grandfather. "We must go."

"But wouldn't it be better if I stayed? It'll be easier to find me!"

"Feliciano, if you stay you won't care for yourself. You'll waste away. If he ever does remember, don't you think he'd want you to be okay?"

Feli didn't say anything, he just simply nodded again. His heart felt like it was betraying Ludwig.

"We leave in the morning."

Feli felt a tear escape from his eyes as he simply floated there. "My Luddy." He sobbed again.

Feliciano said goodbye to everything he loved that night. He went up to the shore to wait for his family there, they promised to pack his things, as he said goodbye to his favorite rock, the place where he would meet Ludwig, everything. The waves even seemed to sad to move much that night. It was so still, Feli swore that it was the calm before the storm. But no storm was coming, he could usually sense the weather instinctively for protection.

The waves might've been calm, but Feli was far from being calm. He didn't think his heart could truly handle this. It felt so wrong, it felt like he was going to do something insidious or something. What would Ludwig have him do? He couldn't leave, but he had no other choice without harming himself. He had to be okay if Ludwig did remember one day.

"Feliciano?" Roma's voice carried through the waves all too soon. He wasn't done saying goodbye. "We have to go. Are you ready?"

"Yes." He called back and swam out.

No. He would never be ready to leave his Ludwig. It was the one thing he loved that he wasn't able to say goodbye to.

A few weeks had passed, and the group of four mermen were still swimming to the new home they would be living at. It had apparently taken more than they were expecting, but they were still able to hunt properly and made good time.

Feliciano was still hurt, it showed on his face, but it seemed like he was accepting that Ludwig would have to be okay if he left and he had to make sure that he himself would be okay too. Feli knew that he would go back and made it very clear that he would go back to visit Ludwig again soon. Even if he didn't remember he wanted to go back.

The family had passed a few memorable sights. So far, jumping with Dolphins was the funnest, but Feli was still shy enough only to do a jump or two with them. A baby dolphin had taken a liking to Feliciano though and had begun to follow him around before the mother caught sight of it and chased it back to their own pod.

Feli named the dolphin Ludwig.

Currently, no pun intended, they were swimming in mostly clear water. It was a nice day in and out of the water, so no problem there. The kelp was a nice shade of green and the fish were reflecting the sun off of their scales with almost an intended purpose. The family could feel it in their gills that they were close, the water was getting bluer and more purified as they went along. No humans had touched this area, which was a blessing for the group. Well, all but one.

Feliciano was minding himself. He didn't intend on what happened next to happen, far from it.

Regardless, it happened.

They were swimming along in the current, enjoying the sun on their backs. If somebody were to peer into the water above them, the water was so clear they would be able to see the four of them swimming with the water reflecting on their backs. They would be able to see the colors of their scales and the designs of each merman. It would be the most beautiful sight anybody would ever see, a sight one would never forget and think of on their deathbed.

Feli was by far the prettiest one in the group. But his heart was already gone, but don't worry ladies (and/or gents), he might even flirt with you once he was with…

He tore his gaze away from his family to off in the distance. It was still too hard to think of his name. As he was looking away, he noticed something far off in the distance glimmering back at him. With a curious mind set, he turned for it. It was wedged in the sand pretty good so he had to dig for it a bit, but he was able to pull it out:

A fishhook.

Huh. Maybe some humans had been here before.

Before he was able to tell the news of his newest discovery to his pod, a familiar roar reached his gills and made everything still. He knew that roar, he knew that sound. It was a very dangerous sound to hear out in the wild. It might've been cute in the zoo or wherever, but this was not the zoo. These things were dangerous and it had it in their name what they were.

Killer whale.

Feliciano took off before it had the chance to even get closer to him than it already was. Feli turned his head to see the frightening sight behind him: it was following him. He was going to be the next meal of this whale unless he was able to outswim it. He was the fastest he ever met, and he intended to be able to make it out alive.

The whale roared again, Feli slipping behind some rocks with a sharp turn. The whale, sadly, was able to make the same turn and even found a shortcut to Feliciano through the rocks. The teeth were mere inches away from Feliciano when the whale tried to take a bite, but he was able to jump back just in time. Feliciano swam faster around the whale in circles to try and confuse it, but when he tried to swim down on one of the turns, teeth pierced his tail. Immediately pain filled his system, but he had to ignore it.

He had to be okay for Ludwig. Feli hit the whale repeatedly, managing to get the whale to loosen his grip just a little.

Feli took the chance and was off like a rocket, a red trail following after him. The whale roared louder and Feli fought back tears. If he made it to the surface he might be able to crawl on top of some rocks for a while to wait out the whale.

He pushed harder than he had previously, imagining Ludwig to be up there, waiting for him. He had to make it to his love, he had to make it, he had to make it. Just a bit closer, he reached out with his arm to touch the rocks and glide atop.

The killer whale howled it's hunting roar. It filled his entire being and he was pretty sure that a few ribs were shaken at the sound vibrations alone. He was so close to the rocks, only a few more feet and he would've made it. He cursed himself for being so slow. He wanted to be able to see the beautiful face of him again. Feliciano's entire being shook with both pain and shock. His last image was of him.

"LUDWIG!" He screamed at he barely touched the rocks with his fingertips. The teeth that were dug into his body tugged him back into the water. So close, he was so close.

More red filled the water.

Feli sighed as he felt his body slowly give out. His last thoughts wee of Ludwig's smile and his deep voice. The way the sun reflected off of his perfect body when it was wet, when it was with him. Feli smiled to himself as he drafted closer to the darkness. It was a fantastic reunion in his mind.