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How Not To Re-Raise Demonic Children

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    Okay.

    It’s just my brothers and a girl who was blessed with our father’s magic that none of us knew existed living in the same space as the Seven Deadly Sins and everyone is leaving me on my own with those three. It’s fine. We’re fine. It’s all good.

It absolutely was not all good, but Meliodas was the last person who would ever admit that under any circumstances. The first issue with this was that his younger brothers, who had fought against them since the first Holy War, were now living in the recently-remodeled Boar Hat with their not-so-long-ago mortal enemies, who still did not completely trust them. The second issue was that Merlin, ever since being revealed as his sort-of-adopted-power-wise-at-least sister, had been acting less like the calculating, charismatic Merlin he’d known for forever and more like the mischievous (if still brilliant and terrifying) child from three thousand years ago, even staying in her childlike form for most of the time that he saw her. The third was that Estarossa had returned to the smaller form that mirrored his, and that literally no one was comfortable watching a smaller version of himself with silvery hair trotting around.

And the fourth was that the others expected him to--well, the most accurate word would be babysit --those two plus Zeldris while Elizabeth was negotiating treaties with the Giants (escorted by Diane and King, who had officially been crowned the Giant Queen and Faerie King respectively). Ban and Elaine were off enjoying a festival (and they deserved to, after everything they’d been through; he was incredibly happy for them) and Escanor was busy closing down his bar so he could work at the Boar Hat full time. Gowther was doing… he honestly had no idea and he wasn’t sure he wanted to know. And Hawk was on vacation, having spied a sow of questionable origin and gained permission from Hawk Mama to go court her--and Meliodas definitely didn’t want to know about that.

Which left him, and a bar, and two millennia-old demons that acted like children, led by a warlock who was too clever for his sanity to remain intact.

“Meliodas, you’re extremely pale,” Elizabeth remarked. He jerked his head up, meeting her eyes with a sheepish grin. She looked beautiful, as always, with her hair pulled back and a small diadem settled on her head. But it wasn’t about how she looked both perfectly competent and exquisite, or the fact that her hair was a shimmering waterfall of pure moonlight in the glow of the Boar Hat’s lanterns. She looked happy, as if she was in her element, born to complete the mission ahead of her. She was complete .

All she ever wanted was to bring peace, and now she actually gets to negotiate with the Five Clans. A small smile tugged at his mouth and he stood on his toes, kissing Elizabeth on the cheek. Ban and Elaine were already gone, Diane and King waiting for her just outside. “Don’t come back until you have the first inter-clan peace treaty, okay.”

Elizabeth laughed, the sound shining in the air like the peal of a bell. “What if I have two?”

“Then we’re throwing a party and drinking until we all die of alcohol poisoning.”

Her eyes twinkled. “A fitting way to die for us heroes, I suppose.”

Obviously.” He crossed his arms and gave her a trademark grin, cocky and bright and full of a confidence that he wasn’t sure he actually felt (he could feel three pairs of eyes, two black and one gold, boring into his back with barely-hidden malice). “Go on. You’ll be late at this rate.”

“I’ll be back by tomorrow night at the latest.” She winked, turning to stalk out the door. “Thought it’ll be sooner, I suspect--they’ve never met a diplomat who’s run a restaurant during a war.”

Meliodas blinked at her and wondered how the hell, after everything they went through, he was still lucky enough that this woman loved him. “No, they certainly haven’t,” he agreed, walking around and kissing her again. “Don’t worry. Everything will be fine.”

“I trust you,” she murmured, touching her forehead to his; he heard Estarossa retching behind his back and rolled his eyes, leaning into the touch, before stepping back and watching her go. She’s off to change the world and I...

I am...beyond lucky.

The door closed, and he was alone with the three children-who-were-not-actually-children. With a sigh (he was going to die tonight, honestly), he turned to the trio, who were perched on the bar in a row like a flock of evil little birds who had Horrible Plans for him. Merlin smirked and kicked her feet back and forth, Zeldris rolled his eyes, and Estarossa merely looked mischievous. Business as usual then. “Don’t you have to run the bar tonight?” Merlin inquired innocently.

Well, when you put it like that ...I don’t trust you whatsoever, but okay. “Yeah,” he agreed, narrowing his eyes warily at her. All three of them sat straighter, looking as innocent as it was possible for them to look--which wasn’t very innocent at all. Zeldris, I honestly thought better of you. What the fuck. “So either help or keep out of the way, alright?”

“We’re not actually kids, you know,” Zeldris huffed, hopping off of the bar. “Well, I have my doubts about Estarossa, but--”

“Hey!” Meliodas narrowly resisted the urge to bang his head against the wall as Estarossa followed his younger brother, Merlin snickering with an undoubtedly evil glee. “I’m not a child--”

“But you are remarkably childish,” Merlin argued, and yeah, that wall was going to have a lot of dents in it by the time the night was over. He shook his head with a snort and grabbed the broom from where it leaned against the bar, heading back out to the seating area to tidy up. Please don’t do anything crazy, he silently pleaded. His adopted younger sister glanced back as if she’d heard his thoughts, a gleam in those catlike golden eyes of hers, and he groaned under his breath as she followed the boys into the kitchen. That is not the look of someone who isn’t going to do anything crazy.

Shoving his trepidation aside, he set to the (admittedly kind of daunting) task of cleaning up the tavern, sweeping the dust into little piles before burning it away with an ember of black fire. While Ban, surprisingly, kept his kitchen nearly spotless, the others were more inclined to create sprawling messes that were only cleaned up before opening time, and opening time was now just an hour or so away… and why the fuck had King let Oslo in here? The Black Hound had slobbered over everything . Everything. “Next time, King, you’re cleaning up after him,” he muttered, fetching a wet dishrag and scrubbing at it with a sigh. Still, he could feel a smile spreading over his face--he’d missed this, missed running the tavern and providing people a place where they could sit and talk. It had been because of a need for information that he’d bought it in the first place, but he’d genuinely come to love it, to miss it when it was gone and be happy when it came back. It was something he’d never been able to do as a demon prince or even as a knight--to make something with his own two hands rather than tearing it down, to make people happy instead of angry or devastated, to provide safety and comfort instead of fear and uncertainty. The Boar Hat was kind of famous now too, which meant more customers and more time doing what he loved.

There was no noise from the kitchen, so he figured everything was fine and kept going, wiping down the bar before polishing the tankards. He even started humming as he went, pausing to pour himself a glass of water (because even if it took him ages to get drunk, he wasn’t about to risk it when he was watching three not-actual-children and running a bar) and gazing proudly over his tavern. The walls were noticeably bare of anything but lanterns, but he planned to fix that by painting murals on the walls. Of what, he wasn’t sure yet (Gowther and Escanor probably had a lot of ideas; they were the artists of the group), but he had the paint and the plan and the time and...well, Fate seemed to be on his side for once. He grinned, taking a sip of the water--and choked on it as a yell of “ MERLIN WHAT THE FUCK!” rang through the room. What in the--

Glass of water forgotten, he rounded the line of shelves that hid the kitchen from view, skidding to a halt and scanning the room frantically, immediately assuming the worst. He’d heard of what happened to Belialuin, how she’d caused its destruction, and if she’d somehow tricked Estarossa and Zeldris into doing something that made them angry enough to recreate that carnage… well, he certainly didn’t want to shove them to the ground again, but he would.

And if she hurt them, I won’t fail to protect them. Never again.

Of course (of fucking course), when he saw it, he quickly comprehended that it wasn’t remotely as bad as his instincts assured him it was. On the other hand, what had actually happened was completely and utterly ridiculous, and his brain was quietly telling him that it could not be possible, knowing how they felt about being regarded as children. Except it was both possible and ridiculous, and it had actually happened, and all he could do was stare for a good few minutes.

Merlin had somehow (he didn’t want to actually know how) upended a pot of leftovers prepared by Ban for the customers’ meals (because even you couldn’t fuck up something as simple as heating food, he’d grinned, and Meliodas had chucked a mug at him good-naturedly) over Zeldris’s head—presumably with Estarossa’s help, judging from how he was laughing uproariously in the corner. His youngest brother was fuming, dark magic rolling off him in waves even as something that looked like gravy dripped down his face, one black eye twitching as the pure darkness collected behind him and formed claw-like wings—

“Okay, I’m not going to ask what happened because I’m fairly sure I already know,” Meliodas huffed, crossing his arms. Authoritative. Like you’re ordering the Sins as their Captain, not your siblings as their… babysitter. Hell, this makes it official. Except Merlin never listened to him unless there was something in it for her, Estarossa never listened to anyone regardless, and Zeldris was used to giving orders, not taking them. Brilliant. The three people who ignore authority the most in the same room with the brother they already resented. Oh, gods, Elizabeth, save me. “Merlin, I honestly expected better. You’re older than Liones itself, not…  six.”

“I look six,” she grinned.

That’s not an excuse you little— “I look like I’m fifteen, but I don’t act like it,” he retorted. Merlin rolled her eyes and Meliodas huffed again, glancing at Estarossa. “I have no clue why I expected better from you, ‘rossa, but I did. And Zeldris…”

Not one word,” his brother hissed between gritted teeth. “Not. One. Word.”

He raised his hands in surrender. “I was going to say go clean yourself up, but sure.” The glare that comment earned him was nothing short of vicious, but he’d seen worse from all manner of creatures stronger than Zeldris, so he shrugged as the black-haired demon whipped around and marched out of the room. “As for you two, clean up the mess you made. We open in twenty minutes and I need to start cooking.”

“Please, spare us,” Estarossa muttered, and Meliodas genuinely considered punching him in the throat to shut him up, before sighing and trotting back out to the front. Happy place happy place happy place happy place…

The wall was looking exceedingly good right about now, but he squared his shoulders, grabbed the towel, and set to polishing the tables until he could see his own reflection in them.

He got through about half of them before another yell filled the air, this one strangely muffled. Meliodas stopped moving the towel (which was practically a rag at this point, worn through from many years of usage), resting his head on the cool wood before exhaling roughly. “What the hell have you done now, Merlin?” he murmured—because really, who else could be the culprit? —before lifting his head and reentering the kitchen. It can’t be as bad as what she did before… he reassured himself, squeezing his eyes shut before opening them cautiously. Surely not.

And then, oh great, it’s worse .

Merlin, perched right next to the stove ( that’s dangerous, too dangerous, she could get hurt or DIE-- He managed to shut those strange, overprotective instincts up before they overran him, focusing on the armor of his exasperation. After all, she was nearly as ancient as he was, and almost as powerful. There was no need to fear her proximity to a stove— then why do I? He wondered) and was grinning like the cat who ate the canary, golden eyes glittering like she knew something he didn’t. She spun a test tube in her hand as she did so, humming cheerfully. And Estarossa… Estarossa was nowhere to be found.

“Where is he?” Somehow, he managed to keep his voice from hitching slightly; as horrible as Estarossa had been (and he’d been absolutely awful ), the man was still his little brother and someone who had sided with him when it had counted most. And even if he hadn’t, Meliodas would still move to protect him, because it was instinct and his nature (horrible and cruel as a demon’s nature could be, as he had been) was to protect the people that were his. Estarossa had been the first person who he’d considered part of his family, and Zeldris the second...and then the Sins. Huh. Family. He’d never had the nerve to say it out loud, afraid they’d be taken from him again--most things were--but it was true. “Where is he,” he growled, and he could feel the darkness forming a shadowy aura around him.

Merlin apparently had the good sense to look mildly apologetic. “He got irritating, so…” She shrugged playfully, then tossed the test tube at him. “Catch, Meliodas.”

His shadows snatched it out of the air for him, cradling it with as much delicacy and finesse as Ban wielded a kitchen knife. He pulled on the magic, dropping the tube gently into his hands, and stared. Again.

Estarossa hammered on the glass, black eyes like saucers and mouth wide open as he screamed in fear and fury.

His brother.

In a test tube.

He wasn’t sure whether to laugh or throw Merlin through a window. He chose instead to open the tube, letting his brother out, before setting his gaze on the bored-looking Sin of Gluttony. She huffed, looking put-out—as if she had something to be upset about when she’d trapped someone else in a tiny glass bottle. The magic imprisoning his little brother vanished, and the test tube broke as he was thrown unceremoniously onto the floor, gasping for air (did Merlin not understand what suffocation was, for the gods’ sakes?). Meliodas helped him up with a sigh. “You okay?”

“Wanna—stab—her—"

“Sorry, ‘rossa, but that violates the terms of agreement when it comes to staying at the Boar Hat.” His brother grumbled, hiding his face in his arm, and he huffed. “I’ll handle Merlin, don’t worry. Go check on Zel.”

“But—"

“You owe me for killing me.”

Estarossa rolled his eyes. “You call that one thing in every time—"

“Because you actually killed me,” Meliodas reminded him, earning a dark look. “Don’t give me that, because you did and it kinda freaking hurt. And my coming back doesn’t negate the fact that I died and everything went to shit while I was gone, so you owe me for basically the rest of your life. Now shoo.” He gave him a gentle shove, and the silver-haired demon scoffed before trotting off. Now that that’s sorted… “Merlin, what the actual fuck?”

She shrugged. “It’s odd, isn’t it? The others take on childish forms and are treated like actual children as well--but doing it to me? After everything I’ve done for your crusade? That’s just rude , Captain.” Despite her irritated words, she didn’t look at all angry—just mischievous. So, it’s business as usual. “Of course, as my childhood was largely spent doing the same things I do now—"

“Tricking people, mocking people when they fall for your tricks, manipulating everyone you meet—" He ticked them off on his fingers as he spoke, mentally casting about for more.

“So, I figured that I may as well act like an ordinary child.” Merlin gave him another wicked, catlike grin. “And don’t children play pranks? I must say, it’s rather fun. I think I’ll stay like this for a while.”

“Okay, first off, ordinary kids don’t put people in test tubes .” Meliodas was barely resisting the urge to slam his head against the wall again , and again and again until he finally knocked himself unconscious. “Second, if you’re going to act like a kid, you’re going to be properly treated like one, so…” He drew himself upright, taking a deep breath. I can’t believe I’m doing this. I’m going to sound like Bartra, of all people… “Go to your room.”

“My what .” She sounded appropriately affronted, raising her dark eyebrows as she stared him down.

“Your room, your lab, whatever.” He ran his fingers through his hair, grimacing. Oh, gods, I sound ridiculous . “Seriously, Merlin, this isn’t your base of operations anymore. The war’s over and it’s an actual, functioning tavern, and I would like to be able to run it again.” Please.

She looked miffed. “I don’t think so.”

Elizabeth, look what you’ve left me with. Look. I’m going to actually cry; gods, what a mess. With a sigh, he wove raw shadow magic around his hand before wrapping it around Merlin; she let out an undignified yelp and immediately started clawing at it. Okay, so this seems to be working. Maybe we’ll all get out of this in one piece.

Or, he thought, already on the second floor and watching in horror as she Absolute-Canceled his magic out and started rummaging through the nearest storage closet, humming, not. What’s most likely to get her to stop, what’s she afraid of—

Me. “Merlin,” he snapped, letting the shadows rise, forming markings on his skin. She glanced up at him, blinking innocently—and froze as his eyes flashed deepest black. So now she gets it. Great. Why does it always come down the fear tactics? “Just stay out of the way. Please.”

He could see her weighing the pros and cons, the calculations flickering in those golden eyes as she tilted her head, crossing her arms. The boar symbol on her neck seemed to burn red, giving him another idea, and he added, “Captain’s orders.”

Merlin huffed again. “If I must,” she grumbled, before stalking off—still managing to look regal and all-knowing, somehow— towards her lab, looking for all the world as though it had been her decision to leave. Meliodas couldn’t even find it in himself to be irritated, simply sinking down against the wall with a sigh of relief.

Surely it can’t get any worse than this.

---

For a while, it seemed as though everything was fine. There was enough food left from what Ban had made that the customers (of which there were many, people standing when they couldn’t find tables or bringing their own stools) were kept happy, his selection of booze was declared by the nearby city’s food critic as “the greatest in the land”, the chatter was constant and the brawls were few and far between. The few fights that did crop up were easily defused by a quick chat with both parties, and everything seemed peaceful. Best of all, he hadn’t heard a single complaint from any of the three (horrible, awful, cruel) not-really-children upstairs.

In hindsight, that should’ve been what tipped him off. Instead, it was the complaint of a young woman whose coat was stolen on the way there, only to find it returned in an unflattering color. “It’s quite odd,” he overheard her telling her friend. “I was just walking up here, and I’d brought it since it’s supposed to get chilly tonight when--bam! It vanished out of my arms, like the night had snatched it away. And I’d spent so long saving up for it, too...” She shook her head with a sigh, and her friend squeezed her shoulder. “And then it was dropped on my head--in an awful lime green! I look terrible in lime green, and I can’t return the coat to the tailor, either!”

Thieves, maybe? Or some kind of sprites? I’ll set up some wards around the Boar Hat tomorrow, just in case. He poured the poor woman a tankard of his best ale, murmuring “On the house” as she wrapped her hands around the mug with a grateful smile. He offered a quick grin in response before hurrying back to the kitchen, pulling the next order from the oven and trotting back out into the tavern. Meliodas set a meat pie down in front of the man who’d ordered it, snorting at a joke that another patron sitting at the same table told, before pausing as the voice of someone behind him rang in his ears.

“...swear something tripped me on my way up here. There were no brambles or anything, but when I tried to walk around this big puddle, somethin’ shoved me straight into it!” The man grimaced, and he noticed for the first time that his shirt was dripping with mud. “Could’ve sworn I heard laughter, too… ghosts, maybe?”

“Nah, man, it was probably the wind,” his companion shrugged. “‘Least it’s warm and dry in here, right?”

“Yeah…”

That sense of uneasiness grew, but he shook it off and started taking orders from the newcomers. Sprites and spirits are easy. Maybe I should set up those wards today.

But the rumors kept coming and the weird feeling grew, until he was barely focusing and a man suggested (not unkindly, but the sympathy still made heat rush to his cheeks until he was certain he was blushing—a rare enough occurrence) that he let another employee take over until he could clear his head. “No, I’m fine,” he managed, before swearing as the smell of burnt food reached his nostrils. “Oh, fuck, fuck—"

“Ah,” the man remarked from where he sat at the bar, watching as Meliodas rushed into the kitchen and pulled the stew free of the stove. “Only one working tonight, hmm?” Dark eyebrows quirked upwards as he returned to the front of the tavern, aching from the few hours’ worth of trying to do what he’d done alone for so long… and failing. Failing, for the first time in ages, at running this restaurant he loved. The thought was enough to make tears spring to the exhausted demon’s eyes, but he forced them back and squared his shoulders. Come on, man. If you could run the Boar Hat alone for ten straight years, you can run it alone for a few more hours.

“Yeah, but I can handle it.” He gave the man a weak grin. “Anything I can get you?”

A snort came from him. “No, it’s enough to be out of the cold and you’ve clearly got enough on your plate. I suggest that you take a bit of time to rest. Owning a restaurant, running it alone—that can be draining. I’ve struggled with it myself.”

Gods, this man was a fucking saint. He took a moment to mentally thank the Fates for sending this one understanding customer his way, before closing his eyes a moment. But I’ve got to keep going. Meliodas shook his head. “No, it’s… just not normally this busy. It’s gotten a little bit famous since the war ended; one of my waitresses kept it up and running when demons were ravaging everything and people spread the word, and now…” He shrugged. “I love it—bought it myself, helped rebuild it—but I forgot how hard it is to handle alone. Out of practice, I guess.”

“And distracted?” He got an amused look. “Those rumors of ghosts flying around… well, it’s just say I’ve seen something as well. A girl, maybe six, being carried by the night itself… except she had a tattoo on her neck. Sound familiar?”

Meliodas blinked, before tightening his grip on the bar’s polished, knotted wood, barely suppressing a growl. “God damnit--!” And then he was off and running, throwing the dishrag aside as he flung the door open and pelted into the night.

Those BRATS, he seethed as he ran, shadows writhing around him. I am going to KILL them for this. Fuck, I shouldn’t even be chasing after them; I should just lock the windows when they come looking for food and tell them to SUCK IT because they don’t fucking deserve it. A giggle that sounded suspiciously like Merlin came from behind him, and he whirled around, baring his teeth. Golden eyes flashed in the darkness and vanished as he changed direction, speeding up. And fuck, there’s no one left in the tavern--damnit, who cares? Another snicker sang through the air and he spun, feeling like an idiot, as moonlight glimmered off of silvery hair and disappeared. Oh, I am going to kill them. I’m going to kill them ALL--

Except for the first time in what was a long history of victories and losses and wild hunts, his quarry escaped him again. And again, and again and again until he was fairly sure that they had returned to the Boar Hat and that he was lost in the forest like the idiot they’d made of him. The lights of his tavern glittered, looking incredibly far away even though the customers were gone, and…

Elizabeth. The mere thought of her name relieved some of his exhaustion, and he stood, brushing himself off with a sigh and starting the seemingly impossible journey to that warm, open door. Tonight had been an absolute disaster, but he was pretty sure he could cobble together a congratulatory cake for her success (he had no doubt that she’d succeeded). Surely even he couldn’t screw up cake, he thought, stumbling into the comforting surroundings of the Boar Hat. It looked a bit...okay, ransacked, but Elizabeth’s long blue coat (the one he’d bought for her, dignified and elegant and perfect for her) was hanging on the coat-rack that King had pestered him to put up.

“I’m home,” he murmured, and grinned reluctantly because despite everything, he was . The grin, however, was wiped off of his face was soon as he stood outside the door to his and Elizabeth’s shared room and could hear the conversation within. It sounded like Elizabeth was (of all the ridiculous things) reading a story.

...’DEATH OR GLORY!’ yelled Gobber. ‘DEATH OR GLORY!’ yelled eight boys back at him fanatically. Death, thought Hiccup and Fishlegs, sadly …”

“Sounds remarkably like you when training first started, huh, Zel—”

“Shut up , Estarossa.”

“I almost don’t believe it.” Merlin’s voice, now, amused and tired and bright despite all that shit she’d just put him through and stop you’re going to end up strangling her at this rate , he scolded himself, tightening his fingers around the doorknob. “Zeldris the Executioner, the Ten Commandments’ Piety, son of the Demon King, is curled up next to his sworn enemy and listening to her read a bedtime story.”

He could picture Zeldris flushing bright red at that, a sleepy-but-mischievous grin crossing Estarossa’s face, but Elizabeth’s voice floated through the door again, a silvery laugh filling the air and effectively dispelling the (admittedly kind of adorable) image. He shuddered, feeling indignant. How come she can get them to sit quietly? This is unfair and awful and they should be sleeping on the floor. For a week, at least. Rude little brats… “Leave him alone, Merlin, and stop acting like you’re not enjoying the story as well.”

“Yeah, shush, Merlin,” Estarossa chimed in, sounding sleepy.

You were the one talking—”

 

Shh,” Elizabeth repeated, and he pictured her running her fingers through Merlin’s hair soothingly, lulling the three of them to sleep. “… Gobber paused dramatically with the horn to his lips …”

Meliodas listened to her read, listened to Estarossa’s yawns turn to quiet snores, to Merlin’s soft murmurings about dragons turning into peaceful silence, Zeldris’ breathing slowing. He knew instinctively that this was one of the first nights that they’d slept without nightmares, one of the first true rests they’d had since the war’s end, and his resentment lessened a bit. I’m glad…but they didn’t have to ruin my bar to get tired enough to sleep properly, damn them. With a sigh, he pushed the door open, making sure not the turn the lights on as he entered, his gaze falling on Elizabeth. She looked tired, but fulfilled, her blue eyes glowing in the half-light with the kind of euphoria only success could bring. “I assume you succeeded?” he murmured, casting a glance towards the bed. A novel rested on the small bedside table, a page marked down on it—maybe for a future reading session? Will their pride even allow it? He wondered, glancing at them…and a small smile crossed his face despite his annoyance. Merlin was nestled into Elizabeth’s right side, small fingers knotted into the sleeve of her tunic. Zeldris was curled up on her left, his head pressed against her shoulder with Estarossa sprawled out and snoring quietly next to him. It’s kind of…cute, I guess. Not that I’ve forgiven them, of course.

Elizabeth gave him a wide smile. “Absolutely.” She stroked Zeldris’s hair absentmindedly, then pulled back, seemingly realizing what she was doing. “I assume from their tales of triumph that things weren’t quite as good here.”

“Speaking of which, I have no idea why you’re letting them sleep in our bed after the trouble they caused.” He leaned over his brothers, kissing Elizabeth on the cheek. “Never leave me alone with them again. Ugh.”

“We might have to,” she warned mischievously, and he groaned with not-entirely-mock horror. “I can wake them up and ask them to move, if you’d like.”

He glanced over them—three children, not three warriors. Three kids that had been forced to grow up too fast over the millennia, who seemed to finally be able to relax, who had never had the chance to properly be children and were now trying to figure out what that was like. “Nah, let them sleep. I’ll deal with the bastards in the morning.” He waved a hand dismissively before pulling some blankets out of the closet, shooting another glance at them over his shoulder as he did. Her eyes glittered, and he grinned reluctantly, gaze sweeping over the three.

“You’re a good man, Meliodas,” she murmured, and he leaned in and kissed her goodnight before heading downstairs. He trotted into the kitchen, folding up the blankets before lying down on them, staring up at the ceiling.

A good man.

For the first time in…well, ages , Meliodas believed it.

(He was still very, very fucking pissed—but that could wait until tomorrow.)