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To Rule the North

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“Don’t sulk Levi, it’s important to greet and know the wards of our kingdom,” Queen Kuchel scolded as she sat upon her satin-dressed throne, her silver eyes clear as she watched her young son.

Levi huffed, blowing stray strands of hair up out of his eyes as he rolled them in response to his mother’s words. He’d had to miss a training lesson for this, (in his opinion), waste of time. He was already nine summers, practically a man half grown; he should be learning the intricacies of battle so that he could go with his knights in the campaigns of the future. He didn’t want to babysit or make friends with the boy from the South his Mother had decided they should house; not that he’d been given any say in the decision.

“Why?” He asked finally with a suffering sigh, crossing his arms over his chest petulantly and trying to stand as straight and tall as possible to prove he wasn’t ‘sulking’; he was displeased.

His mother smiled, her eyes shimmering with amused knowing, “You never know, you might be married to one of them someday.”

Levi wrinkled his nose and made a sound of disgust, “I’m never getting married.”

Kuchel hummed in response, her smile broadening, “We’ll see.”

Before Levi could argue further, there was the sound of a trumpet heralding the arrival of their guests and he couldn’t say anything else because his mother was standing up to greet them as the party came forward.

“Queen Kuchel,” Queen Carla greeted, stepping forward with open arms to hug the woman, wearing a green dress in the Southern style woven with golden thread and embroidered roses, “It is so good to see you after all these years.” They embraced like long lost sisters, and they were, two Queens come to merge their houses in friendship or perhaps more.

Only the Gods could know.

As Carla pulled away, she looked down to the boy at Kuchel’s side and smiled. “And this must be Prince Levi… I can already tell the North flows strong in his blood. You must be proud.”

The raven-haired Omegan Queen returned Carla's smile with one of her own, settling an affectionate hand on her son's shoulder as she replied, “Yes, just like his father, though he gets his temper and wit from me.”

Levi pursed his lips, but didn't move or argue as the two women talked about him. He looked away boredly, catching sight of a boy probably half his age peeking out from behind Carla's dress and narrowed his eyes.

“And this shy little thing must be your Eren. He looks just like you,” Kuchel continued, following her son's gaze and giving his shoulder a subtle squeeze.

“I’m not shy!” The little boy cried, stepping out from behind his mother, glaring up at the woman with eyes as green as the great forest that separated their kingdoms and with the smooth tan skin that frequented the South landers.

“Don’t be rude, dearest,” Carla said as she bent down, gently placing her hands upon Eren’s shoulders to guide him towards Levi. “Remember what we talked about,” she whispered into his ear as he kept his eyes on the ground and bit his lip.

“You brought a gift for the Northern Prince, didn’t you? Why don’t you give it to him?” She asked, honey brown eyes lifting to meet the grey of the boy before her. Eren was still for a moment before he nodded his head, untying the too large and ornamental sword from his hip to hold out towards the other boy.

Everything was still for a moment then green eyes lifted to meet grey.

Levi almost snorted, but his mother’s firming grip on his shoulder kept him from letting the reaction show. The little green-eyed boy could barely hold the sword and certainly not in a proper manner; he was practically still a baby. Levi had to feign clearing his throat before he could actually talk without laughing at how stupidly big the weapon looked in the kid’s clumsy hold.

“How gracious of you, little lord. It must be heavy,” he managed, pursing his lips to keep from smirking as he reached to accept the gift, smugly lifting it in a proper grip.

The smaller boy had begun to smile brightly, impressed with the way the older boy held the sword so easily. It was heavy and his mother wouldn’t even let him take it out of the scabbard on their grueling ride in the carriage. But then that smile instantly fell into a frown and then a scowl. “I’m not little,” he shouted, hands curling into fists as the other boy smirked down at him.

“Eren!” Carla responded instantly, her tone filled with scolding, “Lower your voice.”

“But he-” Eren started, his head whipping to the side to look up at his Mother.

“No buts!” She finished, giving Kuchel an apologetic smile.

Kuchel waved off the other Omega’s apology with a smile of her own, “I miss when Levi was of that age. Now, he just broods and gets into mischief. Unfortunately, he’s at the age where he’d rather his mother not dote on him anymore.”

Levi scowled, finally shrugging off his mother’s hold so that he could take a better look at the sword and pretend to ignore the lot of them. The sword was really the most interesting thing at the moment anyway. He unclasped the little latch on the scabbard and slid it down a bit to inspect the blade hidden within as he’d been instructed by Swordmaster Erwin.

Eren instantly brightened again, stepping on his tiptoes away from his mother and closer to Levi in an attempt to see too. “Woah!” He exclaimed, as enamored by the weapon as Levi was, “I bet that could slice through an entire watermelon! I’ve always wanted a sword that could do that!”

“It’s not that sharp,” Levi replied, not looking up from the blade, “I can tell.” Obviously, Eren wouldn’t know how to check. The other boy sidled even closer and was reaching out a too curious hand when Levi finally did look at him.

“Don’t touch it idiot!” He hissed, swiftly shifting the sword away from Eren’s reach, “It’s not a toy for babies to be playing with.”

Eren pulled back his hand like it had been burned, looking up at Levi with wide, hurt-filled eyes. “I’m not a baby! I wanna see too!” Eren cried, stepping around Levi to try and get closer to the sword.

Levi huffed in exasperation, relatching the scabbard to hide away the silvery blade and taking a step back, shifting the weapon out of the younger boy’s reach once again teasingly and glancing at their occupied mothers. “You’re too little to see. You don’t even know how to use one yet. In fact, I bet you only just learned how to use the privy by yourself,” he argued arrogantly, watching amusedly as Eren reached for the sword, idly holding it out of his grasp, “And that, little lord... makes you a baby.”

Eren’s eyes began to well with tears. “But that’s not,” he began with a sniffle as his hands tried to furiously wipe away the tears that began to fall, “That’s not fair!” With that, his head tipped back and he began to wail in earnest, drawing the attention of their mothers.

Levi's eyes widened in panic as the little Prince began to wail and he didn't even have to look to know-

“Levi!” He winced as his mother's voice cut through everything else; he knew that tone.

He cursed inwardly, sending an accusing glare Eren's way before he turned towards the two Omegas. “I didn't do anything. He was trying to play with the sword and I told him he couldn't,” he summarized. This was exactly the reason he despised brats.

“I-I-I-I just wanted to-to-to-to see!” Eren cried harder running to his mother's open arm for comfort though she was already shaking her head in exasperation. “It was my idea! He would’ve got a stupid book without me!”

Patting Eren on the back, Carla tried to soothe her tantruming son. “I’m sure Levi didn’t mean it dearest. Now, now, there’s no need to make such a fuss.”

His mother was looking at him; Levi could feel her expectant gaze even as he kept his own on Carla and the sobbing boy. “Apologies my lady, I might have been too harsh in my warning,” he excused, hoping to appease his mother and adequately make amends so that maybe, just maybe he wouldn't have to spend the rest of the afternoon listening to Eren cry.

“See, Eren? Lord Levi was worried about you hurting yourself, just like I am. I bet once you’re older, he will teach you everything he knows and you both will become the best sword masters in the world.”

Eren stayed hidden in his mother’s skirts for a moment before he pulled away to peek his tear-soaked face at Levi. “Really?”

“Sure, when you aren’t so little anymore little lord,” Levi replied, faking a pleasant smile. He didn’t exactly fancy the idea of having to spend more time now or in the future with the younger boy, but he couldn’t very well tell Queen Carla that. And his mother would be angry if he did. Even so, Levi hadn’t been able to resist reminding Eren just how much of a child he still was.

Kuchel smiled again, pleased that Levi had at least attempted to diffuse the situation, even if she was certain he was not being as genuine as she’d have preferred. She came to stand behind him and settled both hands on his shoulders, giving them a squeeze as she added, “In a few more years, Lord Eren will be coming to live in the branch wing, so you’ll be spending plenty of time together.”

“Yes, I’m sure you two will become the best of friends,” Carla assured her son, wiping his tears away.

Eren looked from his mother to Levi, and gave the prince a shy smile. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if they were to be sword masters together.

Levi returned the younger boy’s smile with a tight one of his own; probably, it was the least favourable outcome, but he couldn’t really argue when it was his mother’s word. At least he still had a few years to himself until then.

Kuchel continued the conversation with the other Omegan Queen as she led the way to the courtyard for lunch. It was the warm season and she was adamant to take full advantage of it while their guests were visiting for the next few weeks.

Unfortunately for the Queens, the Princes did not get along those seemingly long several weeks. Lots of tears were shed, mostly by Eren for the elder Prince had no patience for the duckling that had decided to follow him around. No matter what the young Prince did, Levi would tease him relentlessly and leave him behind. But the boy was determined; he could do anything that Levi could do, even if he was little.

Eren wouldn’t be little forever.

***

It was nearly a year to the day that Levi had first met the young Prince that would be a ward of the Ackerman Kingdom and he’d all but forgotten about those few hellish weeks of the summer previous. It was almost like they’d been just a dream once the foreign Prince and his mother had gone back home. All he could really remember about the younger was that Eren cried about everything. And he’d been glad to see the backs of their guests when they’d gone.

When he arrived for breakfast, he had to pinch himself to be sure he wasn’t still asleep and having some terrible nightmare because there at the table sat Eren and both their mothers as if they’d never left at all. Attendants and servers flitted about fluidly as the two Queens chatted amiably and he just stood there staring in almost disbelief for several long moments. No one had told him he’d be spending his summer with the little brat Prince again this year.

He inhaled a calming breath and let it out before he approached the table.

“There he is now. Levi come say hello and have some breakfast,” his mother greeted him cheerfully.

Levi scowled and crossed his arms, “I'm not hungry.” He wasn't feeling very generous at the moment; she could have at least warned him.

He glanced at Eren then Carla and said a flat, “Hello,” then looked back at his mother, “I've said hello, now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to practice in the courtyard.”

His mother narrowed her eyes at him and smiled too widely as she responded, “Take Lord Eren with you. He's been waiting all morning for you.”

It was very difficult to keep his expression from showing his disdain, but he managed a nod and even a false smile. His mother may have won the battle, but he was not going to give her the satisfaction of being party to her gloating.

He abruptly turned on his heel and didn't wait for Eren to catch up, sure when he looked behind him next, the brat would be doggedly stumbling after him. The other Prince didn't even seem like he’d aged, didn't look as if he’d grown at all since last Levi'd seen him, though Levi himself was proud to be another several inches taller and broader than he’d been the year previous. Eren still looked like a baby to him and Levi was well on his way to becoming a man; what man kept babies for company?

For every one step Levi took, Eren had to take two, running after the older boy as quickly as he could. “I’m bigger this year!” Eren declared excitedly, “I’m six now! We can go on adventures together!”

Levi halted suddenly, closing his eyes and heaving a sigh, prepared when, as expected, Eren bumped right into him and fell back onto his ass. The raven boy turned to face him and gave him a skeptical once over as he extended a hand to the younger and replied, “You still look pretty little to me, are you sure you can keep up?”

Eren blinked up at Levi for a moment, holding in the hurt from falling to the ground. “I can keep up! I promise! I trained back at the castle and everything!” The boy assured proudly, reaching forward to take Levi’s hand.

Hauling the little boy back to his feet, Levi narrowed his eyes and agreed reluctantly, “Right, I guess we’ll see then.” Maybe it wouldn’t be as awful as he thought it would be; Eren hadn’t burst into tears yet, at least. Either way, it wasn’t as if he’d have a choice; his mother evidently expected him to be responsible for the younger Prince while in his company over the next few weeks, so he might as well get used to it.

He let go of Eren’s hand, straightened his tunic and took a deep breath, letting it out before he ordered, “Follow me then,” and turned to lead the way to an old trail off to the left of the courtyard. It passed through a densely wooded thicket that Levi had explored so often, he knew the way even with how overgrown the path had become over the years. He didn’t talk any more as they made their way through it, offering assistance when the other boy stumbled only because Eren was already slowing them down by at least half. Levi knew if they weren’t back in time for lunch, someone would come looking for them. Where they were going, they weren’t technically supposed to be.

“You aren’t scared of ghosts are you?” Levi asked, casually breaking the quiet as he helped Eren over the last fallen tree and tugged him towards the modest, cobbled stone building that housed the staircase to the royal burial chambers. He liked visiting the Kings of the past and he wasn’t afraid of anything himself, so he never worried about the dark, the creepy crawlies, the whispers of ghosts, or the hell his mother would give him if she caught him down there again.

Eren’s eyes grew dangerously wide before he looked down, bit his lip, and shook his head. “There’s… No such thing as ghosts,” Eren said, parroting what his mother had told him over and over again. Still, he didn’t let go of Levi’s hand that time, standing so close to the older boy, he caught a whiff of his scent. No matter how mean Levi was to him, that barely there scent he gave off always managed to comfort Eren.

The older Prince scoffed, leading Eren to the heavy oak door, untangling his hand from the other boy's so he could push it open,“That's just what adults tell you when you're little so you won't be scared.”

“Don’t let go!” Eren cried, diving to grab Levi’s hand once again and hiding behind the older boy’s back, “And I’m not scared! There’s no such thing as ghosts so stop trying to make me cry! I know what you’re doing and it’s not gonna work!”

Levi took pause, brow burrowing as he frowned, “Don't be an idiot. I was warning you in case you hear or see anything strange. I thought you weren't a baby anymore. If you can't handle it, you don't have to come.”

“I’m not… I’m not a baby,” Eren answered petulantly, finally letting go of Levi’s hand and stepping out from behind him. “I can… I can handle it,” he added, though it didn’t look like he believed his own words, staring at the opened door warily. “What is this place?”

Sighing and shaking his head a bit, Levi took a few steps inside the structure so he could light one of the oil lamps kept just there. He blew out the match before he turned back to Eren to answer, “The royal crypt. It’s where all the dead Kings and Queens of the North that came before my mother and I are resting. Come on, I'll show you.”

Levi didn’t wait for Eren to answer, continuing forward while the younger boy hesitated. Before he could lose sight of Levi completely, Eren threw himself forward into the darkness against his better judgement to catch up to the other boy. The hallway was pitch black other than the light from Levi’s lamp and Eren couldn’t help but feel uneasy. “Um,” Eren began, mostly to break the eerie silence, “Do you come down here a lot?”

“Often enough. I'm fond of the statues and the stories that go with them. Everyone from the North is fierce, even Omegas like my mother. I'm going to be a fierce Knight and a fiercer King,” Levi answered as he led the way down the stairs at the end of the short, tapestry-clad hall to the cool depths below.

Once at the bottom, he offered Eren his hand again, “Here… so you don't get lost.” It wouldn't do for the little Prince to wander off; they’d be late and caught for sure.

Eren took Levi’s hand and, illuminated by the lamp, beamed brightly up at the Northern Prince. “I’m going to be a great Alpha too,” Eren agreed, giving Levi’s hand a squeeze, “And I love stories! Tell me about your ancestors!”

“Shhh, not so loud Eren, you’ll wake the dead, literally,” Levi murmured coarsely, leading the younger boy along through the dusty darkness to the statues of the first Kings. He settled the lamp on the floor then looked at Eren and gestured,“If you sit down and be quiet, I’ll tell you about the first King in the North.”

Eren quieted immediately, then tugged Levi down so the smaller boy could sit with his back to the older boy’s chest, wiggling around and snuggling up to Levi. He didn’t feel scared like this, wrapped up in the Northern Prince’s warmth and that not-quite there scent. Resting his head on Levi’s shoulder, Eren looked up at the Northern Prince, ready to listen to his story and hang on the older boy’s every word.

Levi didn’t complain, let the younger curl up to him, mostly because he didn’t think it was worth an argument and if it kept Eren from getting scared and crying, even better. He was actually a bit impressed with how the little Prince was handling it so far.

He made himself comfortable too before he started talking, recalling the tale as it had been told to him. He’d never had the pleasure of telling the stories to anyone that didn’t already know them and Eren was a captive audience; it was actually kind of fun. And after the first tale, they moved on to the next and the next after that. The morning hours were whiled away as Levi talked and Eren listened with that wide-eyed awe that was starting to make Levi feel particularly proud. Maybe if he’d had a little brother, it would’ve been like this; Eren might not make a half-bad little brother.

He was just getting into the best parts of the fourth King’s bloody crusades when the sound of quick steps echoed and the glow of multiple lanterns lit the other end of the crypt.

“Shit,” Levi cursed as he heard his mother’s voice alerting the party, including Eren’s mother, that she’d found them and only moments later, they were surrounded by a group of frantic adults and his mother was silent; she was so angry.

Eren had no idea what was going on, at first he was listening intently to Levi’s stories, wanting to find out who'd tried to poison the fourth King and then they were surrounded by a group of angry adults. The angriest being his own mother.

“Eren!” She called, her voice shrill and wavering as she snatched him out of Levi’s arms, “We thought you’d both been kidnapped for ransom! What in heaven's name possessed you to play down here? This crypt is a labyrinth… You could have gotten lost!” She squeezed the boy to her chest so hard, Eren couldn’t breathe. He had never seen his mother so frightened and angry before; it made him start to panic and cry himself.

“I-I-I…” Eren started, trying to explain himself then began to bawl, “Levi said if I didn’t come with him then I was a big baby!” Which was true, sort of…

Levi looked shocked and a little hurt, brows lifted as his mouth opened. He took it back; Eren would make a terrible little brother and a worse friend.

His hurt quickly turned to anger, looking from Eren to Carla and his own mother as he argued, “That’s not what I said at all!”

“That’s not the point Levi! What were you thinking bringing Prince Eren down here when you know very well, you’re not to be down here either unaccompanied,” Kuchel wasn’t silent any longer and Levi was scowling, crossing his arms over his chest and desperately wanting to argue further, but she wasn’t finished, “You’re confined to the house for the rest of the summer.”

“Mother! You can’t just-- I have lessons with Swordmaster Erwin!”

“You still will darling, just within the walls of the house where you can learn what lessons of battle and swordplay can be found in books instead. Perhaps, you’ll think better of it the next time you consider making such a foolish decision.” His mother wasn’t lenient and he knew it was futile to attempt swaying her, so he kept stonily silent instead of arguing further.

Looking away from her and back to the little boy, his expression darkened further. This was Eren’s fault and Levi wasn’t going to take his betrayal lightly.

Eren realized what he’d done the moment after he’d already done it. He didn’t mean to blame Levi, he just didn’t want to be yelled at by their mothers. He felt so bad for hurting Levi that all he could do was cry harder, hiding his face in his mother's chest and trying to avoid the Northern Prince’s icy glare. Everything had been going so well too… How would he ever make it up to Levi?

Though he tried valiantly, Eren failed to make it up to the other boy; Levi did little more than ignore him for the rest of the summer. He was cold towards him, only addressed him when it was absolutely necessary and spent as little time as possible in the little Prince’s company whenever he could escape him. Even so, the younger boy constantly sought him out, shadowed him incessantly to the point that Levi was certain he’d go mad with annoyance. Then the summer ended and Eren went home again. And Levi began counting down the days until his own personal hell would begin again.

Chapter Text

The following year was no better, worse in fact since Eren didn’t stay just for those weeks in the summer, but several after until the first snow. Levi had begun to worry they’d not leave at all and ruin his twelfth birthday too. They didn’t and the year after, finally twelve, he was lucky enough to be away for training with Erwin, participating in his first tournament and getting to know his new squire when Eren and his mother came again. It was the best summer he’d had in a good long while and he’d grown again. The summer following was as the last and he’d barely the time to think of the other boy.

Then autumn came and went and another birthday as well and the summer after. Fourteen then, proudly and expectedly showing Alpha pre-presentation characteristics. It would only be a handful of years at most before he’d fully present and enter adulthood and he was looking forward to it. The first three weeks of that summer were spent away again; he won three events. He was so looking forward to rubbing Eren’s nose in it.

Unexpectedly, Eren wasn’t there when he’d returned, wasn’t there all summer in fact and oddly enough, Levi found himself acutely aware of his absence. He felt like something was missing that summer without the younger boy stumbling along in his shadow. And he didn’t know it then, but it would be the last summer he would spend to himself.

The season came to an end and as autumn came again, it was made known that Eren, now ten, would finally come to live in the North as a proper ward should. Even so, Levi did not see him until weeks after Eren had settled into the branch wing.

It was a few weeks before the winter solstice and his birthday would be celebrated as it usually was, winter setting in with each day that passed, darkness creeping in earlier and bringing with it the snow that the North was so known for. He didn’t realize until he'd entered the ballroom for the mandatory lesson his mother had scheduled for he and Eren that he had been misled. He’d assumed it would be a training lesson, indoors due to the chill that the younger Prince was surely still sensitive to. But he was wrong.

His mother stood next to the stern female Alpha that had given him his formal dance instruction when he’d been Eren’s age and he knew with sudden and dreadful clarity that this lesson was less for him than for the other boy and he would no doubt be playing the role of his partner. From the cheshire and too bright smile on his mother’s mouth, his suspicion was only confirmed. There was no point in arguing now and he came to stand straight and expressionless next to her; it was the least he could do and he entertained himself by imagining how upset Eren was going to be when he found out Levi would be leading. And he would be leading.

Eren swore to the Gods he was going to freeze to death. His mother had just left him here in a foreign freezing land by himself. No matter how he'd tried to convince her, whether it be through pleading or tantrums, the Southern Prince was stuck whether he liked it or not and it was very much or not.

Wrapped up in his warmest, fur-lined cloak, he made his way to the ballroom. It was the first time Eren had been in this wing of the house and he hoped that whatever Lady Kuchel had summoned him for, it would be quick. He had no idea the Northern Prince’s icy glare would be on him the moment he stepped into the ballroom and he was so surprised, Eren paused as soon as he entered.

It’d been so long since Eren had last seen him and Levi was so… Different. Taller and broader, Levi stared down his nose at the Southern Prince, sending a shiver down Eren’s spine and a spark of excitement in his chest. But Eren wasn’t the little kid that Levi knew anymore. This time, the Northern Prince would not make him cry. So Eren straightened his spine and held his head high as he stepped gracefully in front of Kuchel and bowed elegantly in the southern style.

“Your Majesty,” Eren greeted, not sparing Levi a second glance. He’d show the pompous Prince that he wasn’t a little kid, even if Levi still had four years on him.

A dark brow rose in response to the obvious slight, but Levi's lips twitched as if he wanted to smile. There was something different about Eren, a challenging maturity that hadn't been there before; it seemed he hadn't been the only one growing over the past few years. It might be interesting to know how much.

He didn't wait for the instructor or his mother's prompting when he offered the other boy his hand and he did smile then as he bent some to greet the shorter Prince, “It's been some time Little Lord. I must admit, it's not been the same without you trailing after me.”

Eren’s eyes darted down to the offered hand a few times, looking bewildered then suspicious. He had expected Levi to ignore him like the Northern Prince always did. It must be some sort of trap for Levi to make fun of him again; Eren knew it.

“You were the one that kept telling me to find better things to do with my time,” Eren snapped, cheeks growing red as he purposely crossed his arms and refused to take Levi’s offered hand though he had to silence a part of himself that yearned for the Northern Prince’s warmth. “Riding, sailing, drawing, reading… I’ve learned all sorts of things since I stopped stupidly following you around,” Eren added for good measure.

“And now you’ll learn to dance,” Kuchel interjected, reminding the Princes they weren’t alone.

Eren jumped a little as his head snapped in the Queen’s direction. He had totally forgotten that she was there. “Forgive me m'Lady… You want me to learn how to dance?” He repeated in confusion, though he continued to sneak glares at Levi out of the corner of his eye.

Kuchel inclined her head and smiled sweetly, “Why yes my dear, your mother wrote that you’d not yet received the customary education. Since Levi is already well-practiced, he’ll be your partner for the duration of the lessons. I trust you are mature enough to set your differences aside to properly learn the steps.”

As his mother explained, Levi retracted his hand, settling both at his back idly as he watched realization dawning on the younger boy. This might actually be better than teasing him.

Eren’s face burned even brighter. Dance? With Levi of all people? The boy had to get out of this. “I’m sure Lord Levi has better things to do. There must be someone else that is as well versed as he is my Lady.”

Levi answered before his mother could, mercury gaze dancing with a sort of mischievous delight, “As a matter of fact, I don’t. But if you’re afraid I’ll step on your toes, I give you my word, I won’t. I learned my lessons well.”

He looked away from Eren a moment to address the instructor, “Madame, the music if you would.” He turned back to the other boy to offer his hand again as the first lilting strains began to sound, “Come now, no need to be shy Eren, just follow my lead, like you always have.”

Eren scowled at Levi, but knew there was no way to get out of this. Even if he ran, he was sure he’d only be dragged back. Heaving a dramatically petulant sigh, Eren took Levi’s offered hand and didn’t resist when the Prince dragged him closer. Oh, I was right, Eren thought as he lifted his gaze to meet Levi’s, he is warm.

Levi had been sure there would be more of a struggle, some awkwardness at least, but the other boy fit against him oddly well as he pulled him into position. Though still several inches shy of Levi’s height, Eren had gotten taller, slimmer, somewhat gangly in the period between childhood and adolescence, but somehow still fit against the older boy with unexpected familiarity. And there was something else…

He didn’t remember the faint scent that clung to Eren now. He couldn’t figure out where it had come from or what it was exactly, but it was pleasant and that was the strangest part of it all. No part of Eren should have that kind of effect; he’d spent years resolving his dislike for everything the Southern Prince was and suddenly he appeared with a scent that made Levi want to be closer to him. It was senseless and too faint still for him to catch it and know what it actually was.

Kuchel cleared her throat and Levi suddenly remembered he was supposed to be doing more than just holding the other boy against him; and he certainly didn’t need to be sticking his nose against Eren in search of the elusive scent. Abruptly, he began to move with the tune, stepping with surprising grace and attempting to lead Eren even though the other boy didn’t know the steps.

Eren scrambled to follow when Levi abruptly began to move. He stumbled but the Northern Prince surprisingly held him up and didn’t let Eren fall flat on his face. It made his cheeks burn even brighter and his head tilt slightly, not even realizing what he was doing or why he was doing it. “You’re… good at this,” Eren mumbled only for Levi to hear, finally staring down at their feet to try and learn and exposing the nape of his neck completely.

Levi hadn’t really meant to look down, but when Eren did, he did as well, just not at their feet. His gaze caught on the vulnerable flesh of Eren’s nape and his mouth felt dry. It was very odd. He had to swallow once or twice before he could get words out in order to reply to what Eren had said and he still couldn’t get his eyes off that soft, golden skin. His voice came out less teasing, and more unsteady than he’d have liked, “I know… Don’t stare at your feet, you’re supposed to look at me.”

“I’m trying not to stomp on your stupid feet,” Eren hissed through gritted teeth, knowing that if he did, Levi would never let him forget it. He continued watching the steps Levi took and tried to memorize them as they went so that maybe they wouldn’t need to do this again. Why did he have to follow Levi’s lead anyway? Shouldn’t he be learning the Alphan steps instead for when he presented as an Alpha?

Only when Levi’s grip turned bruising did Eren finally lift his head, a shout of indignation on the tip of his tongue, but the moment their eyes met, Eren was silenced. The Northern Prince was staring at Eren in a way he never had before, grey eyes filled with fire. It was enough to force a small whimper from Eren’s throat though it wasn’t due to pain or fear. Eren was transfixed and something inside of him urged him to bare his neck. It took everything he had to ignore it.

The growl was rumbling in his chest before Levi had the chance to even decide to voice it and it cut off just as abruptly as heat, which might (unadmittedly) be embarrassment, flared in his ears. Why’d he even do that? He wanted something from Eren and he didn’t even know what it was and suddenly he was growling like some kind of animal. He was just grateful that his mother hadn’t seemed to hear it.

“Just do what I said, I’ll lead you. You can’t lead until you learn to follow. I’d think you were well-practiced in that,” he murmured as he repositioned his hands and turned Eren as the dance dictated, falling back onto the familiarity of rivalry and teasing that was comfortable between them. Better than whatever had just happened… Now if he could just ignore that scent that was there then not, then there again like it couldn’t stay away and it was starting to make Levi’s heavier in response to whatever it was. Maybe it was because he was going to be an Alpha; and Alpha or not, Eren was someone he could dominate.

“Maybe if you were a better leader,” Eren spat, struggling to keep up with Levi’s pace and falling behind in the steps. He was so distracted by how weird Levi was being that he wasn’t ready for the Northern Prince to spin him, tripping over his own feet and falling backwards to the ground, dragging Levi down with him.

Levi grunted as he quite literally toppled onto Eren, still tangled with him when the other boy lost his footing. It might have been partially his own doing, but it was mostly Eren. “If you weren’t such a clumsy brat,” he grumbled as he tried to push himself up, hands sinking into the folds of Eren’s cloak and slipping against the polished ballroom floor, inevitably ending up in a worse position than he’d begun. Embarrassment flared again as he heard the clatter of approaching steps, no doubt his mother and the instructor coming to assist them.

“You did that on purpose!” Eren cried, struggling to push Levi off, but only managing to tangle their cloaks even worse, somehow ending up with the Northern Prince’s chest pressed to his face and their hips flush together. “Get off,” Eren screeched, beginning to kick to try and buck Levi off.

“I didn’t… And I’m trying!” Levi gritted, attempting to get ahold of the other boy’s flailing limbs before one of them (Eren) got hurt. “If you would just be st--ill,” his voice cracked roughly, breath hitching sharply as he finally managed to pin Eren’s wrists to either side of his head. For some inexplicable and obviously irrational reason, the rub of their hips had made a strange and not entirely unfamiliar warmth pulse in his lower half. He went completely still himself, eyes widening in mortified panic. That was most certainly not supposed to happen in response to Eren.

Eren couldn’t move, no matter how much he struggled. Levi had him completely pinned. It was embarrassing and frustrating and Eren couldn’t keep himself from lowering his eyes and turning his head to the side away from the boy on top of him. He was submitting even if he didn’t exactly understand what he was doing or why he was doing it. Maybe if he listened to his instincts, Levi would let him up off the ground.

Levi didn’t move, couldn’t, lost with his gaze glued to the offered column of Eren’s throat as his mouth watered. He wanted to bury his nose there with an abrupt and sudden need, wanted to know if that was where that maddening scent that wasn’t came from. He couldn’t hear properly, static in his head as his blood rushed and the heat in his guts pulsed a little hotter. He wet his lips, wrapped his fingers a little tighter around Eren’s wrists and leaned in as his eyes became lidded. He might have followed through with it too, if his mother hadn’t intervened; a shrill and demanding call of his name along with a wash of her scent had him rearing back.

He blinked and staggered to his feet, yanking his cloak around him and looking panicked as he excused, “Apologies, I… Need to clear my head.” And he didn’t wait for a dismissal, his mother busily assisting Eren back to his feet and looking him over concernedly. She’d been afraid for Eren, afraid of what he might do to the younger boy and he couldn’t really say he blamed her; he wasn’t even sure what he’d been doing. Ashamed and embarrassed for reasons he couldn’t even begin to fathom, he turned and briskly fled the ballroom, then the house altogether, intending to do just as he’d said. He obviously needed to clear his head.

It all happened so quickly and Eren was dizzy with the speed at which Levi scrambled off of him. He didn’t know why, but he could feel more whimpers and whines leave his throat, trying to call for Levi, to bring the Northern Prince back. Eren would have even chased after him except Kuchel kept him rooted to the spot as she checked him over.

“Are you well?” She asked, her voice filled with concern though Eren didn’t exactly know why.

“Y-Yes… I’m fine,” Eren answered, eyes still on the ballroom doors through which Levi had disappeared.

“That… That is good. We will… Continue your lessons another day,” Kuchel said, trying to calm herself down. She hadn’t expected that to happen. The Queen would have to send word to Carla about this strange event. “You are free to do as you please for the rest of the evening…”

“Thank you my Lady,” Eren whispered, still shaky as he walked out of the ballroom and through the halls to his own bedroom where he spent the rest of the day in a daze.

***

Levi eventually returned to the house, taking supper in his quarters at his mother's suggestion and avoiding everyone, especially Eren. He felt restless and frustrated, guilty and concerned even though his mother had taken the time to assure him it was perfectly natural and even expected for pre-presenting Alphas to begin expressing dominance. She alternatively cautioned him as well, that the urges may be difficult to keep control of for the time being, so he should be more vigilant. Just how he was supposed to do such a thing, she’d neglected to say.

Unable to rest easy, he'd donned a fur-lined winter cloak and boots then snuck back through the halls to escape out of the now quiet house and make his way to the crypts, hoping he might find some peace there.

Meanwhile, Eren was restless as well. He’d been hoping to see Levi at dinner to make his grievances heard and maybe force the Northern Prince to grovel for his forgiveness. But Levi’d never shown up and Queen Kuchel wouldn’t tell Eren anything. So he’d plotted to wait until everyone had gone to bed and confront Levi in his bedroom. But when Eren was about to sneak out of his own room in his slippers and nightgown, he saw a Levi shaped shadow slink down the far end of the hall. So Eren decided to follow him, all the way down to the crypt.

Levi was too preoccupied and lost in his own thoughts to notice that his missing shadow had found its way back. There was a lamp already lit and he took it up before he slipped down the steps, boots quiet on the stone as his feet led him. He’d been there so many times, they knew the way even if his thoughts were elsewhere, mainly on how he could both see and avoid Eren at the same time. And he was quite sure he was losing his damn mind.

He settled in front of his favoured King, leaning back against the cool stone as he laid the lamp next to him. He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply, hoping to let the familiar whispers soothe him. And he could have sworn that infuriatingly elusive scent was with him again, but that would mean…

“Come out Eren, I know you’re down here.”

Eren huffed, popping out of his hiding spot behind one of the Queens by the stairs. He could've sworn he’d been silent this time, his slippered feet even quieter than his boots would have been. Maybe Levi heard his shivers?

“Why do you always come down here?” Eren asked, moving until he stood in front of Levi and hugging himself against the chill. “It’s dark and dreary and musty… And freezing.”

Levi opened his eyes and sighed, “I like it down here; it’s where the legends of my blood live. And it’s a good place to think.” His gaze narrowed as he caught another breath of the scent, and exhaled heavily, “It’s usually a good place to be alone too…” He paused for a second, eyeing the shivering boy almost suspiciously before he opened his cloak and offered, “You’re an idiot for coming down here dressed like that. Come on then.”

Eren wanted to argue, say that Levi was the idiot for liking the crypt at all. But the Northern Prince’s warmth was calling to him and Levi wouldn’t offer twice so Eren dived down into Levi’s cloak, making himself comfortable pressed to the older boy’s side. “How are you so warm all the time? I swear I’m going to freeze to death by the time I’m allowed to go home,” Eren whined, pulling Levi’s cloak so that only their faces were showing.

“Mm Northern blood. That’s what my mother always says. You’ll get used to the cold, eventually,” Levi replied, shifting to wrap his arm around Eren comfortably. He was supposed to be avoiding him, but he couldn’t very well let him freeze to death and Gods knew Eren was too stubborn to go back on his own; he didn’t even bother to suggest it.

“You’re always so full of questions, don’t you get tired of asking? Maybe you should answer some instead like, why did you follow me down here when you don’t like it?” He continued talking, mostly so he could focus on something other than how cozy it was with Eren curled up with him in Levi’s cloak like that. And in the lamplight, if he were being honest, Eren looked kind of… pretty. And that was all the more reason to distract himself and Eren with conversation, lest he have another one of those urges his mother had been talking about.

“How am I supposed to learn anything if I don’t ask questions?” Eren fired back, turning his head to glare at Levi with wide green eyes that almost glowed in the fire light. “And I followed you down here because you owed me a proper apology and you weren’t at dinner and the Queen wouldn’t let me go find you so I waited until everyone was asleep and I was going to kick at your door until you let me in, but then I saw you pass my room so I followed you and so here we are,” Eren rambled, punctuating his words with a couple jabs to Levi’s ribcage. He held Levi’s gaze for a moment longer before he looked forward once again. “But... I’ve already decided to forgive you… Since you let me share your cloak,” Eren finished, nosing into the fur lining as his cheeks filled with colour.

Levi shook his head vaguely; he should have remembered better just how much Eren talked. Ignoring the heat in his ears and unable to look at Eren proper, he watched him sidelong instead as he answered, “You'd learn twice as much if you listened on occasion…” He paused for a breath and perhaps out of guilt or something else, he added, “Even if you've already forgiven me, I do apologize for earlier. Are you warmer now?”

“I am, thank you,” Eren answered almost too politely. Suddenly the air between them became awkward and Eren didn’t know how to deal with a Levi that was nice to him. “And are you… Feeling better? Um… The Queen said you weren’t… Feeling well or something,” Eren struggled to ask, burying his face even further into the fur.

Levi's breath hitched unexpectedly when Eren's shifting sent a wash of that haunting scent over them and he had to swallow twice before he could answer and his voice sounded strangely low when he did, “Or something… And no, I wouldn't say it's better. It's an Alpha thing apparently.”

“Oh… Oh,” Eren said in sudden realization. Levi was going through the change... Ew. The younger boy’s face instantly scrunched up at the memory of his mother trying to explain the birds and the bees to him. It was not a conversation he'd wanted to have. “So… You’re just gonna get weirder,” Eren remarked with a sigh and pity in his voice as he faced Levi once again, “Go around making kissy faces at Omegas and stuff… Bleh... I’m glad I don’t have to deal with that for a long time.”

“No! Well, maybe, and you don’t have that long,” Levi argued reflexively, though his expression was more perplexed than irritated. He wasn’t even interested in kissing… Well maybe a little, but he couldn’t well say so now.

“How would you know what kind of faces people make when kissing anyway? It’s not like you’ve done it,” he continued, defensive to cloud the curiosity that was steadily growing. Eren couldn’t possibly have kissed anyone before he had. And that made him look at Eren’s lips, which in turn made him bite his own, wondering what kind of face Eren would make.

Eren’s nose scrunched up and he shook his head hard. “Of course I haven’t done it,” the young Prince said, thoroughly disgusted by the idea, but needing to prove he was knowledgeable so Levi wouldn’t act all superior again. “But I’ve seen people do it… It’s kind of disgusting, but it’s not like it’s difficult,” Eren explained, wrapping his arms around his body to simulate someone rubbing up and down his sides then closing his eyes to make wet smacking noises with his lips. He’d seen tonnes of guards and maids do it when they thought no one was around. “There… That’s how it’s done,” Eren said, oddly smug since he seemed to know more than Levi.

“You look like an idiot. Obviously seeing and doing are two very different things,” the older boy replied, watching Eren, expression stuck between amusement and something more akin to interest. That scent was around them again and Levi’s got heavier as he shifted to lean in a bit more towards Eren, “What do you suppose you’d do if someone wanted to kiss you?”

Eren’s eyes widened, unprepared for the question and confused by Levi’s sudden intensity. “No one wants to kiss me,” Eren answered, narrowing his eyes at Levi as he leaned away.

“Fine,” Levi huffed, meeting Eren’s gaze with his own finally and holding it, “What if I wanted to kiss you right now, what would you do then?”

Eren snorted then began to giggle, “You wouldn’t want to kiss me.”

Levi hummed, “Yes, but what if I do want to?”

Eren glared at Levi for a moment, trying to figure out if the older Prince was making fun of him or if they were playing some sort of kissing chicken game? Honestly, it made no sense. But then he really thought about it, biting his lip and tilting his head. “I guess… since it’s you,” Eren started then paused for a moment as Levi hung on his every word, “I’d be okay with it. You always smell good and never have bad breath or anything. It wouldn’t be as disgusting with you than it would be with someone else, I suppose.” With that, Eren gave Levi a shy smile, completely embarrassed by the whole conversation.

He shouldn’t even be considering it, and certainly not following through with it; Eren wasn’t someone Levi should be kissing. Neither of them were truly of age to be participating in such activities, but no one would know if they kept it between them and it was a little thrilling really. He wasn’t sure if he should be offended by Eren’s words or not, but it didn’t matter because regardless of the context, it sounded like permission.

He didn’t say anything else or give any forewarning before he quite abruptly leaned in further, shifting on his knees and pulling the cloak as he settled a palm to either side of Eren. His eyes closed of their own accord and his nose bumped against Eren’s as he suddenly pressed their lips together. Eren’s were cold and a little chapped, but soft and Levi didn’t think it was half bad, though it was somewhat awkward given how far back Eren was leaning.

Eren squeaked in surprise, unprepared to be kissed and shoved Levi back on instinct, but not away completely. He was dazed, breathing hard as his hands gripped Levi’s shoulders. “You… you should have warned me you were going to kiss me!” Eren chastised, but licked his lips and tasted Levi on them. It was exciting. It was thrilling. It was disgusting, but Eren wanted to try again. So he shifted so that his body was facing Levi and he wasn’t at an awkward angle then closed his eyes, waiting for Levi to initiate once again.

Levi might have argued that his questioning had been warning enough, but he forgot as he watched Eren close his eyes, the curious expectation in his expression matching Levi’s own and drawing him in again. He moved to accommodate the new position, settling back on his knees so that he could cup Eren’s face between his hands, maybe to hold him still or maybe just because he kind of wanted to know what the younger boy’s skin felt like as he leaned in to kiss him again. He was sure the second time was better.

Their noses bumped together again, so Eren turned his head a bit so that Levi could press his lips to the younger boy’s more comfortably. Eren even pressed back a little, planting his own brief chaste peck to Levi’s lips when he had begun to pull away. It wasn’t what Eren had seen back home between young couples… But it was nice. Much nicer than he’d thought it’d be. Enough for Eren to wrap his arms around the Northern Prince’s shoulders with an excited giggle, and give Levi’s cheek an affectionate nuzzle to display how giddy he felt. He didn’t understand the effect he was having on Levi since all of his actions were made with a still childish naivete.

Something strange happened when Eren reciprocated and nosed against him, a low thrumming vibration that Levi was sure he had never ever felt before began to sound in his chest. And the scent, Eren’s scent, seemed more insistent somehow, lingering on Levi’s lips and on his tongue when he wet them. It was…

He pressed forward again, forcing the other boy to lay back as he hovered over him, gaze hooded as he leaned in to kiss Eren again, quite suddenly desperate for another taste. There were other kinds of kisses, he knew, ones meant for lovers and though Eren wasn’t by any means his lover, he was curious and interested enough to try anyway.

Eren was stunned when he was suddenly pushed backwards with Levi on top of him, pinning the younger Prince like he had that afternoon. He didn’t like it. The floor was cold and damp and Eren wanted to just keep kissing the way they were at the beginning. But when he was about to voice his discomfort, Levi dove down and shoved his tongue into Eren’s mouth, clicking their teeth together and effectively gagging the younger boy. Eren really didn’t like it. So he made unhappy noises, tapping on Levi’s shoulders to try and make him pull back. When that didn’t work, Eren bit down on Levi’s tongue.

Levi fell back with a dark growl, wiping bloodied saliva from his mouth on the back of his arm, confused and angry. “What the hell did you do that for?” He questioned irately, frustrated though he couldn’t really understand why. It wasn’t really because Eren had bitten him; it didn’t even hurt that much, but he hadn’t wanted to stop…

Eren’s heart felt like it was beating out of his chest and he immediately sat up to scoot backwards so that he was out of Levi’s reach. “You… You were doing it wrong,” Eren yelled back, wrapping his own cloak protectively around his body, suddenly feeling too exposed and vulnerable in front of an angry Levi. “I couldn’t breathe and you hit my teeth and I thought I was going to choke on your… Your disgusting tongue!” Eren didn’t tell Levi that he was frightened.

“I…” Levi didn’t even know what he meant to say. He didn’t have any excuses, didn’t know why he’d done it in the first place and why he hadn’t wanted to stop, not that he knew exactly where it was going to begin with. He was so lost and it didn’t help, he couldn’t really argue when Eren said it was awful; it must have been. He was embarrassed, ashamed, angry and frustrated and it was easier to fall back on the defensive as he got to his feet suddenly, picking up the lantern with him. He was sorry he’d ever kissed the younger boy and it was Eren’s stupid fault for making him want to in the first place.

“It’s no wonder no one wants to kiss you. I certainly won’t make that mistake again,” he was unable to swallow the blow to his pride and had simply wanted to have the parting word, no cleverness to the retort of demeaning defense though he really didn’t mean it even as he said it. Then he turned on his booted heel and fled, leaving Eren in the crypt alone and in the bitter darkness.

***

Kuchel caught Levi sneaking into his room in the early morning, looking miserable and covered with hay which meant he'd spent the night in the stables. He looked like he was about to try and give her his usual excuses, but Kuchel hushed him immediately.

“Was Eren with you in the stables?” She cried, still in her night clothes with her hair barely tied up like it should be, “The guards can’t find him! He’s not in his room or anywhere in the castle! It snowed last night! You know he can’t handle this weather!”

Levi nearly jumped out of his skin when his mother had accosted him outside his quarters, expecting a scolding that never came. He was exhausted, still restless and feeling oddly awful which only worsened when the Queen’s words registered.

“He didn’t come back…” He hadn’t even meant to voice it and he didn’t give his mother time to question it before he took off back down the hall.

He didn’t find any trace of the other boy in the thicket and though he grabbed a lamp on his way into the crypts, he didn’t waste the time lighting it as he made haste down the steps. He smelled it, that scent, faint, but there and he knew Eren was still down there, probably right where he’d left him. He’d called Eren a child, but he’d been no better; he just hoped the chill hadn’t killed him in Levi’s absence. He would be to blame. What had he been thinking, leaving him there in the first place? He’d just been so upset…

He didn’t need the lamp to see even in the dark, waking Alpha traits facilitating his frantic search. He dropped to his knees and nearly dropped the damn lamp too when he found him just as expected. Eren looked like he was sleeping, but his skin was pale even in the dimness and Levi probably was too rough when he grabbed him, shaking him as real fear crept into his voice though his words were harsh, “Eren! Wake up! You can’t sleep in this cold, you’ll die… Don’t you know anything you stupid brat!”

“L-L-L-Levi,” Eren whispered through blue tinged lips and chattering teeth, unable to feel the Northern Prince’s warmth like he usually could. “It’s c-c-c-cold.”

Eren had spent the night crawling in the pitch black abyss of the crypt. He’d only been down there with Levi and his mother was right; the tunnels were a labyrinth and he couldn’t seem to find his way. In the end, he'd decided to hunker down and wait for the morning light to trickle in so that he wouldn’t get even more lost.

That’s where Levi found him, curled in a ball and feeling too tired to move his shivering limbs.

The relief that the sound of Eren’s weak voice brought was short-lived; just because Eren was awake didn’t mean he wouldn’t still die. Given the state of him, Levi knew it was still a real possibility and he couldn’t move Eren yet. The younger boy needed to be warmed up first before he could even attempt it. He growled under his breath, prying his grip off Eren so that he could light the lamp finally, fingers shaking as he tried to do it as swiftly as possible.

He turned the flame up as high as it allowed, looking over the younger boy again and remembering training he’d received for this. Eren’s eyes were closed again and Levi began to talk loudly as he stripped off his cloak and clothing, “Hey don’t close your eyes, you gotta stay awake. I’m gonna make you warm again, but you have to stay awake Eren.” He should’ve never left him on his own in the cold; Eren had Southern blood.

Once undressed right down to his underwear and bare chest he moved on to divesting the barely conscious brunette of his own nightgown, propping Eren up with one arm while he drew his cloak around his shoulders with the other. Then he pulled him in against his own chest, flush skin to skin, Levi’s hot as the rhythm of his heart pulsed almost painfully hard and quick in comparison to the worryingly slow beat of Eren’s as he tucked the cloak in around the both of them. And he was still talking, “You can’t die, okay? I didn’t mean what I said… I still want to kiss you even if you’re a stupid brat.”

“Y-You’re s-s-stu-pid,” Eren answered, shivering hard against Levi’s body and nuzzling into the warmth. It felt so good for his numb limbs to thaw, but it was still hard to keep himself awake. “T-T-Tell m-me a st-st-or-y.”

Levi chuckled; of course that would be Eren’s response. Even when dying, the younger boy just had to argue and make demands. He wasn’t really wrong; Levi was stupid sometimes…

“Fine, you win brat,” he agreed, shifting and readjusting his hold on Eren so that he could wrap himself more firmly around him beneath the cloak, “I never told you about the Sixth Queen of the North, she’s my mother’s favourite…”

Levi made it through perhaps less than half the tale before Eren had dozed off and he didn’t wake him again, words tapering off into soft crooning instead, another sound he’d never produced before, but he hardly cared to be concerned. Eren’s skin was warming, the healthy colour returning as his temperature rose. He wouldn’t die now; Levi had saved him.

Once he was sure Eren was safe enough to move, he redressed the both of them and wrapped Eren in his cloak before he hefted him into his arms. He wasn’t exactly light, but Levi was strong enough to carry him and he did, up the stairs and back through the woods where several guards and his mother met them in the courtyard. He wouldn’t let them take the other boy from him either, insistent that he would take Eren all the way to his room and tuck him in. And he did.

When Eren awoke hours later, he was greeted by the fuzzy image of black hair and grey eyes.

“Levi?” He asked then blinked, “Oh, Queen Kuchel.” The young Prince tried to sit up, but the Queen gently pressed him back into the covers.

“Save your strength, Eren,” she said as she smoothed his hair over his forehead, “You’ve had a long night.”

Eren settled back into his sheets and nodded his head as he bit his lip. “Very long… Levi, he…”

“He found you yes… What were you doing in the crypt? You almost died Eren. I have half a mind to send you home.”

Eren’s eyes widened and he shook his head, though he didn’t know what to say. He didn’t want to rat Levi out even though the older Prince had been so horrid to him. The Northern Prince did come back for him. “I just wanted to explore,” Eren answered, looking off to the side.

“Well, there will be no more adventures of that nature. The healer brought some broth for you to drink and will be here later to check you for frostbite. You will rest until then.” With that, Kuchel stood up from the bed and walked to the door, hearing a faint yes milady as she opened then closed the door behind her.

“He’s awake,” Kuchel said to Levi who had been standing guard in the hall ever since the Northern Prince had brought Eren back to his chambers, “He should make a full recovery.”

Levi nodded, acknowledging his mother’s words. “I’m not staying am I?” He asked, though he already knew the answer.

His mother watched him for a long moment before she answered, “I think… that will be up to you. Eren didn’t say, but you are responsible for him being in the crypt, aren’t you?”

“I am… I think it would be best for Eren if I went away again,” Levi’s answer was solemn, voice low and serious. He’d been thinking about it all morning. What had happened could happen again… His mother had warned him, those odd yearnings were too strong and he didn’t think he had the control yet. He and Eren may not have been friends, but he wouldn’t put him in danger again. It would be safer for him to go… For now.

His mother nodded, “I’ll arrange it.”

Chapter Text

Eren was distraught when they finally told him that Levi had left while he was recovering. It opened up an ache deep inside of him that quickly turned to anger. So what if Levi had left because Eren was a horrible kisser? Eren didn’t care. He would enjoy having the castle all to himself with no other Prince to bother him.

Eren spent the next three years learning to ride, learning to fight, along with military strategy. But as he got older, he began to learn more arts, such as drawing, writing, needlework, sewing, things he didn’t really think necessary until Kuchel explained to him it was better to be a well rounded ruler.

Eren reluctantly agreed. Though his dancing lessons were a lot more monotonous without Levi there to tease him.

On the day of Levi’s return, the people of the North welcomed their Prince with much celebration. Eren was set on ignoring him completely, but then couldn’t help himself when he heard the bell ring to announce that Levi was home. The Southern Prince had deserted his lessons and ran to the throne room without a second thought.

Levi entered the throne room looking every bit the part of handsome Prince, raven's armor polished and fitted familiarly like he’d been born to wear it. His boots were quiet on the stone floor, steps measured and confident. Gone was the awkwardness of adolescence, the insecurity of youth. Three years had made him the man, the Alpha he’d always expected, disciplined, brave, unafraid and assured.

He'd presented not long after his fifteenth birthday and since had learned control, matured and more capable, he’d grown into his Northern blood, skilled in battle and leadership, proud and respected by comrades and mentors alike. He'd barely had time to think of the younger boy and what had happened as if it was a distant and unimportant memory.

He was seventeen, soon to be eighteen to Eren's thirteen and though it was still only a handful of years separating them, Levi was no longer a boy where Eren was only just entering adolescence. There was no reason for them to even spend time together anymore; Levi had more pressing matters to attend to than entertaining children. Aside the prospect of doing just that, he was happy to be returning home after so long away.

His mother left her throne to meet him, yanking him into a hug and chastising him embarrassingly for growing up so much while he'd been gone. He only wrapped his arms around her in return and chuckled into her hair; he’d missed her too.

Eren was out of breath by the time he burst into the room, filled with fire and ready to give Levi a piece of his mind. He had been waiting for this moment for three years, but when he saw Levi, everything he wanted to say escaped his mind.

Levi was… Handsome.

Eren hadn’t expected that.

Nor had he expected Levi’s scent to surround him and make his mouth water. It also made his knees feel weak and Eren tripped over his own feet, stumbling in the back where he hoped no one could see him. The Southern Prince righted himself as his face burned scarlet, approaching the royals at a much more reasonable pace before he stood awkwardly to the side, wondering how to get their attention.

Levi’s gaze found Eren over his mother’s shoulder and narrowed, an amused smirk hiding in the corner of his mouth as the red tinting the younger Prince’s cheeks caught his notice. He gave his mother another squeeze then stepped back so that he could greet Eren proper, inclining his head, “Eren, it’s good to see you’ve finally been growing.”

It was teasing though not untrue. Eren had grown, and prettier than Levi had expected or remembered; that scent was present too, stronger, but without the innocence there’d once been between them, replaced by maturity and understanding on his part, it was too young to spark any real interest in the Alpha. And even if it had, Eren was certain to be Alpha as well; he had no business plotting dalliances with other Alphas. Speaking of dalliances, perhaps while he was home, he should consider courting an Omega or two; he was at that age, though marriage was not high on his list of priorities.

Eren perked up at Levi’s attention and promptly became tongue tied, having a hard time thinking with Levi’s scent in his nose. “I have… It’s good to-to see you, Le-my Lord,” Eren managed to splutter then stepped closer without even realizing he had, completely enamoured with the man. His eyes flickered down to Levi’s lips then back up, biting his own bottom lip and tilting his head as he fidgeted under Levi’s gaze. Did he remember? Maybe Levi would want to do it again? Just the idea made Eren’s heart beat even faster. A tongue down the throat didn’t seem so bad with this Levi.

The elder Prince’s smirk broadened briefly, aware that Eren was admiring him, bemused and perhaps, unadmittedly a little flattered; his return had obviously thrown the younger Prince off-balance which was oddly satisfying. He’d always enjoyed messing with Eren, but it could wait. He didn’t say anything more and instead turned his attention back to his mother and the other guests, “Apologies, but if there’s nothing more pressing, I’d like to settle in. It was several days ride to get here; I could certainly use a bath…”

The queen smiled brightly, even swaying some in her apparent elation as she agreed, “Of course my darling, take your time, we’ll plan the welcoming banquet for tomorrow evening. It is so good to finally have our Prince home again.” She couldn’t resist giving him another brief hug before she was shooing him off to his quarters which were just as he had left them.

Eren blinked then blinked again, watching Levi like a kicked puppy when the Northern Prince simply dismissed him then walked out of the room. But that was okay. Surely Levi was as tired as he'd said. Eren could be patient and wait for the man’s attention to fall on him; it always did.

***

So Eren became Levi’s shadow again, following his scent around the castle for the rest of the day and into the next, though he kept his distance. He knew if Levi caught him outright, he’d be sent away and back to his studies. Eren lost track of Levi a couple of times when his scent seemed to disappear completely, but then it would return and Eren would be back to following. Even during the ball, Eren watched from a distance as Levi was swarmed with Omegas to dance with, leaving the young Prince dejected in the corner.

Eren was hoping he’d get to dance with Levi, but every time he thought there’d be an opening, another Omega would step up before he had the chance.

Levi knew he was being followed, knew Eren had been pursuing him since his return and was becoming annoyed enough to purposely lose his shadow at every possible opportunity. It’d been amusing at first, but it was becoming rather difficult to woo any of the interested and eligible Omegas that had approached him when Eren was stalking his every move. He shouldn’t be surprised that the younger Prince had become so attached; he’d saved Eren’s life when last they’d met. Even so, he was becoming frustrated with the dogged attention. He had other things to concern himself with and he was getting tired of maintaining the still young Prince’s innocence. If Eren was so set on watching then he should be prepared to see the things adults were capable of.

She was a pretty thing, hair the colour of sun-kissed strawberries and freckles on her cheeks and her chest, shorter than him by whole heads with a waist he could wrap his hands around, delicate and firm in all the right places. She smelled good too, like honeysuckle and spring rain, attractive and witty enough to hold his attention, and most importantly, not interested in a marriage proposal or baring his bastard offspring. Petra was saving herself for someone else, but they both desired the experience and the relief.

It was just passed mid day when he slipped away to the stables to meet her. He had her pressed up against a thick oak beam, surrounded by fresh hay, secluded in the back of the stable while the hands were off to lunch. He had a hand up her skirt and his lips on her collar, smiling against her skin as she giggled and arched against him. He could feel eyes on them and though he couldn’t smell him when his senses were clouded by more pressing interests, he knew Eren had followed him there. Even knowing they had an audience, Levi did not reconsider; some lessons were meant to be learned harshly.

Eren had been lured to the stables by Levi’s scent, hoping that maybe they could go riding together and he could show Levi just how much he’d improved while the Northern Prince was away. He heard the couple before he saw them; playful giggles, moans, and little gasps that forced Eren to duck down and hide himself before he could even think about it. He had the perfect view, though he didn’t exactly want to see.

Eren knew he shouldn’t be watching and he tried to force his eyes away, but he couldn’t make himself move from his hiding spot when his nose was filled Levi’s commanding scent. It kept his feet rooted to the floor and it was so strong that every stroke Levi made to the woman in his arms, Eren could almost feel it across his own burning skin.

Why was Levi touching her? Why wouldn’t he even spare Eren a second glance? Was kissing her better than kissing Eren? It looked like it. In comparison to her, Eren was a baby and that realization was enough to fight the hold Levi’s scent had on him. He needed to get away.

Clutching his cramping stomach, Eren dashed out of the stables and ran, refusing to even glance back at the couple to see if they saw him. Something was wrong with Eren and he needed to stay away from Levi until he figured himself out.

Though his attention was mostly elsewhere, Levi knew when Eren left. He could scent upset and something else in the wake of his mad escape, but he did not pursue him, did not seek him out even after. And ignored the odd stirring of yearning that came intermittently in the younger Prince’s absence. Levi wouldn’t say he missed him, but it was almost a little lonely without his shadow. Even so, it was better that Eren had learned his lesson.

Chapter Text

After what had happened in the stables, Eren avoided Levi like the plague for the entire year they were stuck at the castle together. It was quite easy for him too. Whenever he scented that Levi was near, the younger Prince would just go in the opposite direction. The only time they were stuck in the same room was when Kuchel forced them both to sit down and have a meal with her. Eren would just sit as far away as was polite, holding his breath and keeping his eyes on his plate so as not to catch Levi’s scent and be bewitched once again. He’d always finish much quicker than everyone else and beg to be dismissed so that he could go find the stable boy.

Eren had found an unlikely friend in Jean Kirstein. He was annoying and they fought like crazy, but they were on equal ground since they were the same age. Sometimes, Jean would be weird when they got too close, sniffing at Eren and blushing whenever Eren hung off of him too much, but the young Prince didn’t really mind. He was just glad he was no longer lonely.

Right before his fourteenth birthday, Eren was called home by his mother.

Three quarters of the way to his fifteenth birthday, Eren presented as an Omega and his entire life changed. He was forced to wear dresses, take etiquette classes, learn all about his heats and the process of bearing children.

For a while, Eren was angry. So very angry. He was supposed to be an Alpha and someday rule his kingdom. Now, he knew he was going to be married off to some far away lord and never see his home or family again. His mother promised him that it wouldn’t be so, but she’d also assured Eren he would be an Alpha, so what did she know?

At first, being an Omega didn’t come naturally at all to Eren, but towards his sixteenth birthday, he was finally getting the hang of it. How to control his scent. How to ignore Alphas that tried to force him to submit. How to turn those same Alphas into his toys with one smile and a slight tilt to his head. Eren discovered the power there was in being an Omega and finally grew into himself.

He was fierce and beautiful.

Eren had blossomed into the rose of the Southern Kingdom and Queen Carla couldn’t be more proud of her son. So after they celebrated Eren’s sixteenth birthday, she sent a message to the North, informing Kuchel that it was time for their sons to reunite.

***

Levi didn’t learn that Eren had left until after the Southern Prince had been gone weeks past. He spent the following years too busy to think much of Eren’s absence, only in passing thoughts and whispered gossip that filtered from the courts did he spare a moment for the emptiness to be recognized. But it faded as swiftly as it came upon him, whisked away in the day to day of learning responsibilities, knowing his people, training, tournaments and though Petra had been wed the summer after they’d met, he’d had no shortage of other partners to learn from, though he’d not yet shared a rut or mated with any of them. It was only a way to pass the small pockets of time he had to himself as he became the man that would be King.

He should’ve guessed that it would only be a matter of time before he’d be expected to take the throne and a Queen of his own, but he pressed any and all concerns in that regard to the back of his mind along with the thoughts of the Southern Prince. He’d really never been interested in that particular duty and as his twenty-first birthday steadily approached, he was called away himself to assist in some skirmishes on the western border.

It’d been perhaps three months he’d been there in the thick of it, killing men and leading his own, taking back land and running out bandits and rebels to spare the people that farmed those borderlands and supported the Northern Kingdom, his people. It’d been thrilling, terrifying, exciting and inspiring, perhaps the time of his life, but as it always did, it came to an end with a summons from his mother. He was expected back home for a celebration; non-negotiable.

So he’d waited until he could wait no longer, rode out and arrived home with more scars than he’d left with only hours before the event would begin. He barely had time to change to something more suitable, though his mother had prepared for that, probably aware of how near late he would be arriving, and had new finery waiting for him. He’d taken his time dressing, sure she’d give him a proper scolding if he didn’t put in the expected effort to look presentable. For some reason, she was excited for this event, though for the life of him, he couldn’t figure out why. Not that it mattered; he didn’t much care for the things himself.

Nothing, nothing could have prepared him for the reception he received upon his arrival; he hadn’t even considered that Eren might be there.

Queen Carla and Queen Kuchel were waiting for Levi in the ballroom together, having already begun the festivities earlier that day and were now seated on their thrones with two empty seats beside them as they watched the dances commence. The sun had long since set and people were starting to wonder when the guests of honour would arrive since neither Prince had been announced.

“You’re late,” Kuchel chastised when she saw Levi slip into the room beside her, having obviously dodged the grand entrance the heir to the throne was supposed to have. “You’ve almost missed your own party completely.”

“All's well that ends well,” Queen Carla said, leaning forward to smile at Levi herself in greeting, “It’s good to see you, Prince Levi. It’s been such a long time.”

The tall raven Prince smiled in that vague handsome way he’d mastered over the last few years as he bowed to both Queens and took Carla’s hand to properly greet her, “Likewise my Lady, though I can’t say I was expecting to be meeting you here…” He paused, his gaze slipping over to his own mother suspiciously, “I wasn’t aware this was a celebration in my honour.” He had this terrible feeling of dread like he had so many times before, knowing, just knowing there was more to this whole thing than she’d let on. Every time he’d met Eren, it’d been like this; how many times had the other boy incited this feeling of foreboding? Speaking of Eren...

He smelled him before he saw him, eyes dilating as that scent that had been there but had always been more elusive than not and too pretty for an Alpha weaved its way around them. It was not the scent of an Alpha; that understanding he’d lacked before was no longer lacking and he probably should have realized it sooner… Eren was an Omega.

And when he turned to finally lay eyes on him, his breath caught and he forgot for a moment, just for a second, just whom it was he was looking at; Eren had grown up beautiful.

The Omegan Prince had long since abandoned his Queen mother’s side to be swept across the dance floor by many a Northern Alpha, following the steps effortlessly as he was spun and then lifted into the air. His beauty and grace kept all eyes within the ballroom on Eren which was the only reason Levi’s arrival had gone unnoticed.

How could they look away when the Southern Prince was practically glowing in the firelight; exactly as Queen Carla had intended. She had commissioned his gown months in advance with little input from the Prince himself other than that it couldn’t restrict his movement; blood red yet sheer fabric with a delicate pattern of golden roses. It was almost impossible to make Eren wear any sort of jewelry so Carla had to beg him to wear a gold circlet on his brow.

The Queen was even more proud of herself the longer Levi stared.

“I wouldn’t dare miss this for the world,” Carla said smugly as the music faded and Eren bowed to his partner then stopped dead in his tracks. The subtle tilt of his head across the room signaled the moment Eren scented the Northern Prince then green eyes met grey as the Omega made his way back to the royals.

Levi’s thickly dilated and hooded eyes stalked Eren’s approach, unable to pull away even though that dread was growing in equal parts to the interest that was quite suddenly making itself known. He couldn’t want Eren; they were barely more than enemies at this point…

He saw his mother from his peripheral and the pit in his gut became heavier and he knew with abrupt and horrific clarity what was about to happen before it did. This had been no coincidental encounter, no summons for some obscure family gathering. It was a goddamn coup.

He didn’t even hear it when she actually announced it, his gaze already seeking out Eren’s, to know if he had known, if he had been party to this farce. He couldn’t even argue with the Queen either, object at least, something because the gathered guests were a cacophony of sound and the music began again in earnest and his mother was pushing him forward to dance with his future bride as was only proper on the occasion of one’s engagement. An engagement he certainly did not recall consenting to in the first place.

While Levi was busy glaring at the Omega, Eren was busy looking at the Queens with complete and utter betrayal. How could his own mother marry him off to such an Alpha? One that, at worst hated Eren and at best was completely indifferent to the Omega. One who had probably already knocked up half the Omegas in his own Kingdom and already had someone else in mind to bond. One who, by the way he was staring at Eren, was already blaming him for everything like he always did. How did they expect this to be anything but a disaster?

The Omega’s eyes flickered from one exit to the other, like a trapped animal trying to escape a predator. But there was nowhere to run, not without making a total fool of himself in front of two kingdoms worth of nobles. The only option was to get this over with and argue with his mother behind closed doors, allowing himself to be pushed onto the dancefloor with his just as unwilling partner.

In the middle of the floor, Eren curtseyed to Levi, though not as low as etiquette demanded, then stood stiff as a board when the Alpha pulled him into a hold. The Omega was determined to hold his breath through the entire dance, unwilling to let Levi know how much his scent still affected him. If Eren could fucking smell that stupid delicious scent across a crowded ballroom, he didn’t want to know what would happen if he could smell it from inches away.

Levi stumbled and nearly tripped gracelessly as he was thrust onto the dancefloor, managing to catch himself and straightening back up rigidly. So awkward, worse probably than any other time as he approached Eren to offer him his hand. He could feel the heat at the back of his neck and in his ears, could smell Eren and couldn’t stop now that they were so close. And that’s what he’d really been missing. But he didn’t have time for that now. He was so angry…

He pulled Eren in tightly and the younger Prince fit perfectly like he always had, fell into step with practiced fluidity though Levi’d only done it so he could ask without being overheard, even if he was fairly certain that he already knew the answer, “You didn’t know, did you?”

Eren's eyes fluttered up to meet Levi’s for a moment before he lifted his chin in defiance. “I thought you were already mated,” Eren hissed under his breath, following Levi’s lead perfectly so that none of the hundreds of people watching them could tell there was anything amiss. “If you are, then you had better tell our mothers this instant.”

The Southern Prince hadn’t answered his question directly, but his stupidity was answer enough. Levi scoffed, rolling his eyes as he continued to lead them through the dance, voice low and husky as he replied, “Don’t be thick, if that were so, I’d be wed to them, not you…”

He spun Eren out, giving the Omega a good view of the two Queens for a long moment before he drew him back in, “You see? They’ve probably been plotting this for years. I never planned to marry, did you?”

“The red head…” Eren began, looking back at Levi with wide eyes that reflected the hurt of years past. “I thought…” He trailed off, then gave his head a good shake, opening eyes that were greener somehow, filled with rekindled anger.

“Heaven forbid you wed the Omegas you bed,” Eren snapped back, smooth, tan cheeks filling with colour at his own naivete. “Why wouldn’t I plan to marry? Do you really think me so heinous that I would have no suitors at all?” His voice was rising at the perceived insult, purposely stomping on both of Levi’s feet so there was no way to claim accident. Eren stood on his toes on top of Levi’s boots to glare directly into the Alpha’s eyes, their lips almost touching. “Any Alpha would be lucky to have me as their bonded mate,” Eren spat, fingernails digging into Levi’s shoulders.

Levi’s boots protected him from Eren’s spiteful attempt to pain him and he simply firmed his arm around the Omega’s waist and carried on with the dance as if Eren wasn’t perched on his feet. Eren was obtuse as ever, purposefully and perhaps just naturally and Levi had so little patience, already on edge and irritated. “Why must you be so unreasonable? I hardly think you planned to take me as your damned husband even if you planned to marry. I certainly wasn’t expecting to be calling you my Queen. I should think you would have learned by now not to believe what gossip you hear in the courts, I’ve no bastard offspring to claim… Surely, I could not boast such if I’d been warming as many beds as you seem to believe. I daresay, you sound a bit jealous Little Lord,” Levi met Eren’s glare with his own, flame dancing in the mercury depths as his breath ghosted over Eren’s mouth.

It was at this moment that Eren made a fatal mistake; he took a breath. All the insults he was about to spit back instantly died on his tongue as his pupils dilated and he melted, allowing Levi to lead him across the dance floor without struggle or stiffness. “I’m not so little anymore, my Lord,” Eren breathed, cocking his head to the right and watching as Levi’s eyes latched onto the sight of smooth, unmarked, soft skin that smelled of roses. “What if I was jealous?” The Omega’s voice lowered to a whisper, “What if I did wish to be your Queen, spend every night curled up in your bed, soothe your ruts and bare your heirs… What then, my Lord?”

“Do you?” Levi replied with only half-feigned and unadmitted curiosity, unabashedly eyeing the vulnerable and alluring flesh of Eren's bared throat. He did not, however, falter in the graceful movement of his feet across the floor and he did not bury his nose there as the Omega was so obviously inviting him to, though his scent deepened dramatically to dominate and claim, “You should not play games you are not prepared to lose Omega.” He was not so little anymore either. With the exception of ruts, maturity and discipline had taught him how to control and ignore what urges the fairer sex might incite. Eren may have learned what power there was in his Omegan wiles, but Levi was not so easily lured as he'd once been and knew what wiles an Alpha had to make an Omega tick.

Eren’s breath hitched and his eyes dilated even further, only a ring of green visible as he was lured by the scent that had haunted him for years. “Maybe... I haven’t decided yet,” Eren answered, his tone losing it’s teasing as he was unable to resist openly scenting the man, “Are you still a horrible kisser, Alpha?”

The Alpha chuckled quietly as he took Eren into the final turns of the dance, “Here’s not the time or the place I’d wager to find out. I won’t make a spectacle of it, though I’m sure our mothers and the court gossips would be ecstatic with it.” His hands slid down Eren’s sides to his back, coming to rest in the dip comfortably, the warmth familiar as the music tapered and the steps slowed to stillness.

He pulled away after a drawn moment, releasing his partner from his hold and bowing shallowly, reaching for Eren’s left hand in a fluid gesture and pressing his lips to Eren’s knuckles instead, watching his fiance from beneath thick lashes, “Perhaps another time.” It might not be such a terrible idea to kiss Eren, at the very least he could prove to the fiery little Omega just how skilled he’d become.

Eren looked off kilter, a little stunned, and very confused as he stared down at Levi. How did they go from fighting to flirting? Was that flirting or was Levi teasing him again? Once again, all the Alpha managed to do was make Eren feel more lost than ever; bringing his hand up to hold to his chest and watching as Levi turned on his heel and left him behind on the dance floor. He wasn’t alone for long since both of their mothers swarmed the Omega along with multiple courtiers while Levi seemed to just disappear into the crowd.

Did that bastard seriously just leave me alone to deal with all of this nonsense? Eren seethed in silence as the Queens began to discuss how many hundreds they would have to invite to the wedding. He definitely wasn’t going to let Levi get away this time.

Eren knew exactly where that stupid Alpha would be.

***

Levi had slipped away in the chaos that had become the dance floor and as most often when he wanted peace, to be alone with his thoughts, he went to his favourite place. An adult for some time now, he had no fear of a scolding for being down there. He chuckled to himself as he made his way down the steps with a lit lamp and left a second lit at the top of the steps as had become habit since Eren had been lost down there.

Perhaps it was because he’d seen him, held him, spoke of and remembered the kisses they’d shared there, but he hadn't much considered just when or why he’d developed the habit of lighting two lamps before then. Odd that, he’d been doing it for years now, even when Eren had not been there to follow him; maybe he truly had been missing Eren more than he cared to know.

Strangely enough, he wasn't surprised when he caught Eren's unique scent on the air, finding the nostalgia almost comical considering. How could he have known the last time Eren had crept down to the crypt after him that the next time, they would be promised to wed. What a profoundly twisted irony...

“You might as well come out brat. You can't hide from me,” he called out, not even looking up from the leather bound and well-loved journal he was writing in, propped back against the statue of the first King and stretched out upon the smooth stone as if he belonged there.

“I wasn’t hiding, you ass,” Eren answered with righteous indignation as he stepped down the last couple steps of the staircase. He had only paused on the steps to try and figure out what to say and perhaps fiddle with his hair, straighten out his dress, and pinch his cheeks to give them some colour. Unfortunately, the pinching seemed unnecessary since he turned bright red with fury as he stomped his way to stand before the Alpha. “You left me to deal with our mothers all by myself!” He spat, accentuating his words with a stomp of his foot glaring daggers down at the perfectly calm Alpha, “You don’t even know how hard it was to break free of them… You... You should be on your knees kissing my feet and begging my forgiveness for your little disappearing act!”

Levi couldn't help but laugh in response to the Omega's accusations. He settled his journal in his lap and finally looked up at Eren, “You didn't have to stay… What stopped you from following me out? Perhaps your knees were too weak?” He paused to smirk at the fuming male, completely unruffled by Eren's ire; he wasn't unused to the other male's temper. “At any rate, I'm sure you handled yourself well. If you're expecting an apology, you're going to be disappointed. As far as I'm concerned, we're equally fucked here. We might as well be allies against the common enemy.”

A look of hurt flashed across the Omega’s face before Eren’s head dropped to stare at the ground in front of him while his hands fisted in his gown. Equally fucked? Levi truly didn’t want anything to do with Eren let alone to marry him. The Omega had felt a sliver of hope when they were dancing, but of course the Alpha had to squash even that. “Why should I ally myself with you?” Eren asked petulantly, crossing his arms over his chest and refusing to meet Levi’s eye, “Like you said, all you’ll ever do is disappoint me.”

“That’s definitely not what I said. I just wasn’t apologizing when you were the one not coherent enough to go while the going was good. You could have come with me if you’d wanted. I wouldn’t have refused. You still don’t listen so well though, hm?” The Alpha replied, crossing his own arms lazily over his chest and watching Eren. He was confused as to why Eren seemed more angry at him than at the situation they’d been thrust into, “I don’t see why you must take offense to every little thing when I meant none. What choice do we have but to be allies? We certainly didn’t get the choice to be married. Aren’t you angry?” It hadn’t crossed his mind that Eren might actually want to marry him.

“I’m… tired,” Eren said, deflating before the Alpha and dry scrubbing his face for a moment. Heaving a gigantic sigh, Eren dropped his hands then flopped down beside Levi without a care for his beautiful dress, sitting with his back against the wall and his knees bent, the entire expanse of tan smooth skin on display from his toes all the way to mid thigh. “I’ve been angry since I presented. It gets exhausting,” he said with a humourless chuckle. “She promised me she wouldn’t marry me off to some faraway Lord… I guess you were her compromise.”

Levi's gaze followed Eren's movements, pupils dilating as the Omega's scent washed over him and he had to swallow as he eyed the skin on display; Eren was most definitely no child anymore. He wet his lips and forced his eyes away, stalling as he closed his journal and reached for his previously discarded cloak, throwing it around Eren's shoulders casually as he finally replied, “I wasn't even given that, but if it had to be someone, you're better than most. I never expected it'd be you though, I never thought you'd present Omega.” He paused to settle back where he'd been, ducking his head and smiling a bit as he finished the thought, “Even that time I kissed you, I thought I must be mad for wanting to fool around with another Alpha. Makes sense now though. You smelled the same then, just stronger now.”

Eren turned his head towards Levi and smiled, his first genuine smile of the night. “Don’t beat yourself up too badly. We were children… Children like to experiment… I did like it you know, at least at first,” Eren giggled, reminiscing on that moment, and all the other moments they shared together. “I showed none of the usual signs of being an Omega and even now, it doesn’t come naturally to me. If I didn’t have a heat every three months, I’d question my own dynamic.”

The Alpha shifted, watching Eren sidelong as the Omega giggled; he looked pretty like that, maybe prettier than Levi had seen him yet. He chuckled too because it was funny, and he shook his head a bit as he answered, “Yes well, I didn't much know what I was doing back then. I am better practiced now, I assure you. Surely you can say the same?”

Eren’s eyes widened then he bit his lip as his blush darkened. “Yeah… Maybe not as practised as you though…” Eren admitted, looking up at Levi through his lashes, “Just some stolen kisses here and there.”

Levi raised a brow, curious about the who and when, but mostly about the performance, and humming thoughtfully as he replied, “You sound disappointed, were they not any good?”

“They were… Adequate. Few and far between due to my mother being hell bent on protecting my chastity,” Eren said with a shrug of his shoulders. “I just wanted…” He began, then looked up to meet Levi’s half-hooded gaze, “I wanted more.”

“Just adequate…” Levi echoed teasingly, blinking lazily as he held Eren's gaze, and leaned in closer much like he had the last time the two of them had been in the crypt together, “I could show you what real kisses are if you wanted. I'd wager I could even weaken your knees with just one.”

Eren watched as the Alpha bridged the distance, feeling a rise of anticipation. “Yeah? I’m not so sure,” Eren answered as he leaned back to draw Levi closer, “Only one way to find out…”

Levi took the invitation for what it was, didn't consider what might come of it; it was only a kiss, but he was determined and more than confident that he would win the wager. He moved then, coaxing the Omega back against the wall as he settled an arm aside his head and cupped his jaw with the other hand. Holding his eyes as he wet his lips, suddenly so close to Eren's that they were sharing breath and their scents had become flirtatious and competitive as he replied, “I do hope you're prepared to lose because I can assure you, you're going to…”

As the last word whispered from between his lips he brushed them deliberately, tauntingly over Eren's, reveled in the hitch of the Omega's breath and anticipation in response for a moment before he kissed him proper. He slotted their lips together, tilting Eren's head and caging him in against the wall protectively, hands roaming possessively with promise and arching him into the kiss that was neither chaste nor open-mouthed, but in that place that left one wanting another despite being drunk off the first.

Eren tried to fight it if only out of spite, but he melted the moment Levi guided him to arch. It was so much better than any kiss he'd had before and though it pained him to accept it, he wanted more. Without conscious thought, the Omega’s hands migrated to press to the Alpha’s abdomen, smoothing up Levi’s torso to fist in the fabric of the Prince’s shirt if only to hold onto something and maybe to pull him closer. He wanted Levi to shove him down and pin him. He wanted to gag on Levi’s tongue. He wanted the Prince to hike up his skirt and feel the heat building between his thighs. He wanted so much more, but Levi pulled away.

Levi chuckled breathily against Eren's mouth as he withdrew, catching the Omega's hands in his own and coaxing them away. “I think… I win…” He swallowed and licked his lips, still hovering over the other Prince and watching him with heavily clouded and warm eyes, wanting to give in and kiss Eren again, but unwilling to forfeit his victory so easily. This could be an entertaining game to play with the Omega.

Eren kept his eyes closed for a moment, his chest rising and falling quickly as his heart pounded within. “Kiss me again,” Eren demanded, eyes flickering open and piercing Levi with challenge and determination, “That didn’t count! You cheated, I wasn’t ready.”

The Alpha's laughter sounded again; of course Eren would make such claims and demand another, he expected nothing less of the Southern Prince. He settled back on his knees, looking over the flushed and disheveled Omega with unabashed interest. Eren clearly wanted to play the game.

“Come here then,” he ordered huskily, a challenge behind the words as he offered Eren a hand, curious if the Omega would be so bold as to straddle his lap of his own accord.

Eren swatted Levi’s hand away to shove the Alpha back against the wall, hiking his blood red skirt up to climb into the man’s lap and seat himself without hindrance. The Omega was already staring at Levi hungrily, trying to figure out the best plan of attack to give the Alpha as good as he got, no matter his inexperience. Eren leaned in slowly, just like Levi had, lips ghosting over the Alpha’s mouth and stealing his breath. He held himself like that for an impossibly long time until they were both desperate for it and he gave in, capturing Levi’s lips with his own and arching his body into the Alpha’s.

The moment Eren gave in, Levi took control of the kiss again, pressing back into the liplock, but stubbornly refusing to deepen it. His hands braced heavily on the Omega's hips, encouraging him closer as Levi rolled his hips up against Eren's backside teasingly. His scent became thick with demanding arousal and Alpha dominance as he took Eren's mouth more aggressively, nipping at his lips, pulling away before the Omega could give chase only to attack them again a breath later, without tasting though he could not deny that he wanted to. He didn't want the game to end too soon and though Eren's eagerness was endearing, he very much doubted the Southern Prince was ready for what came after no matter how Eren might argue. All they seemed to have was time, what point was there in rushing?

Eren was a quick study, mirroring Levi’s movements perfectly, chasing the Alpha down every time he tried to pull away and even getting Levi to chase him back once or twice. It felt so good, so right, but no matter what he did, Levi refused to deepen the kiss. It was frustrating, Eren wanted more, though how much more, he couldn’t decide. He wanted the Alpha to feel as out of control and as desperate as he did. So desperate, he didn’t realize how hard he was grinding his hips down against Levi’s and how good the friction felt. That is until a full body shiver swept through him and he gasped into Levi’s mouth as he slicked.

Eyes blowing wide, Eren froze against the Alpha, feeling the liquid roll down the back of his thighs and soak Levi’s breeches. “Fuck,” Eren hissed into the Alpha’s mouth, then was up and across the room in one breath, holding his skirt out in front of him and feeling the slick slide down his legs. “I have to go,” he said, then bolted to the staircase. He was only three steps up before he whipped around to hiss, “This isn’t over,” and then he was gone.

Levi fell back as soon as Eren had scrambled away from him, looking a bit dazed and wild and smelling like sin. He leaned back against the wall to catch his breath, carding his fingers through his hair and chuckling breathily as he felt the fresh wetness cooling on his thighs; he'd definitely won that round too.

He stayed down in the crypt for some minutes after, ignoring whatever instincts urged him to pursue the Omega. Eren most certainly wasn't ready for that and even if his instincts disagreed, Levi wasn't ready to give chase. Just because they'd kissed didn't mean he'd suddenly forgiven the fact that he'd not had the choice in marrying him, even if Eren was a good match. Besides, Eren had said it wasn’t over; Levi wasn’t about to forfeit that challenge.

Chapter Text

It had been two days since their betrothal and Eren had spent them both hiding in his chambers, going so far as to claim he was ill, so that he could take his meals in his room as well. It wasn’t that he was mad at Levi for what they'd done, in fact, it was quite the opposite; Eren couldn’t wait to continue their little game further. It gave him hope that maybe he could change Levi’s mind about marrying him. Eren could admit, at least to himself, he had a crush on Levi. That knowledge was enough to make him hide, not knowing how to approach the Alpha with everything that had happened since they’d first met all those years ago.

On the morning of the third day, Carla had had enough of Eren’s hiding. She dragged him out of bed, shoved him in a bath filled with rose petals and a touch of rosehip seed oil then supervised as the maids dressed him in a brown bodice with an emerald dress underneath. His mother called it a riding dress, but of course it was as cumbersome as all dresses were in his opinion. Eren decided not to fight her on it though, slipping on his brown riding boots along with his leather gloves and a brown cloak to keep the Northern chill at bay. A ride might clear his head and soothe some of his restless energy; Eren always enjoyed being outside and he could use some fresh air.

The Omega made his way down to the stables slowly, completely lost in thought and oblivious to the many eyes of Alphas that leered at him as he went. It wasn’t until he was right outside the stables that he noticed the scent of a familiar Alpha.

“It’s good to see you, my Lady,” Jean said, standing up from where he leant against the stable door, almost like he’d been waiting for Eren to show up. “Do I have to call you 'my Lady'? It’s fucking weird.”

“Jean!” Eren greeted in surprised excitement, then ran to close the distance, throwing himself in the Alpha’s arms to give him a big hug. “You grew so tall! I didn’t think you’d still be at the Northern castle!”

“Yeah, you’re looking at the newest stable master! Pretty good for just a humble hand, huh?” Jean said, hugging Eren back, perhaps too tightly, scenting the Omega’s hair subtly so that Eren wouldn’t notice. He knew his attraction to the Southern Prince wasn't totally insane. Eren had presented as an Omega, a beautiful Omega, and he wasn’t married yet.

“That’s great! I knew you’d be good for something,” Eren teased, pulling away from Jean completely then punching him in the arm before he walked passed the Alpha into the stable. He was completely oblivious to the interest his childhood friend was displaying.

“I got your horse ready for you,” Jean said, running to grab the reins to Eren’s mare, a feisty brown creature that had taken forever for the Omega to break. She was as willful as her master.

Eren smiled brightly at Jean until he noticed the side saddle and his face scrunched in confusion. “I ride hunt seat,” Eren commented, nodding to his discarded saddle.

“O-Oh…” Jean spluttered, “But you’re-,”

“I’m what,” Eren interrupted, narrowing his eyes at the Alpha.

Jean rubbed the back of his neck for a moment, not wanting to explain that it just wasn’t proper for an Omega to ride any way but side saddle. It was different when they were younger and Eren had not presented yet.

“You’re wearing a dress,” Jean finally said, trying to find another excuse.

“So? I can just hike it up,” Eren explained, grabbing his skirt and lifting it to mid thigh to demonstrate.

Jean’s eyes widened then his pupils dilated, staring at the tan exposed skin of Eren’s shapely legs with a gaping jaw. He was trying to find the words to respond when another dominant and angry Alphan scent filled the stables.

Levi was irritated before he'd ever made his way to the stables. His mother had been insufferable, pestering him for the last two days. She'd been adamant he was in a mood; he wasn't, he was just frustrated and restless. He was sure Eren was avoiding him which was annoying for reasons he couldn't even begin to find words for and it wasn't like he wanted to see the Omega. The suggestion for a ride had come from his mother too and that should have been suspicious, but he was too preoccupied and glad to escape her overbearing hovering to question her motives.

He smelled them before he saw them and heard them soon after. “I should think my future Queen is capable of deciding which way he'd prefer to ride his horse. It's for you to keep your eyes from wandering where they shouldn't Kirschtein,” he commented as he rounded the corner, tugging his gloves on and narrowing his gaze on the other Alpha, his heavily spiced scent dominating the immediate area, and unsubtle with warning. He knew Eren and the eldest son of their horsemaster were acquainted, had heard plenty enough gossip over the years and he'd even been glad once that Eren had a friend his own age to keep him occupied when Levi'd had no time for him. But that was then and now… He did not care for how the other Alpha was looking at Eren nor the way his grassy scent clung to the Omega as if it belonged there. It did not.

“My Lord!” Jean exclaimed too loudly, bowing low in greeting to Levi, his movement jumpy and skittish. He had known the Northern Prince would be coming down to the stables as well, but he had hoped he would have more time to talk to Eren before Levi got there. “Of course, my Lord,” Jean said more modestly as he stood up, then took a shaky step forward towards Levi, “It’s just that... Riding hunt seat can be… Dangerous for Omegas… He could-could get injured uh between his legs and not… Be able to bear young.” He had lowered his voice like he was telling Levi a secret that Eren hadn’t heard a million times.

Eren's rose scent was heavy in the stable, tainted with rage as he glared at the back of Jean’s head with eyes that promised death.

“That is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard and you are a fucking idiot for even suggesting it… I am not a broodmare!” Eren shouted, stomping to stand beside Jean and give him a hard shove before he stared at Levi. The Northern Prince had seniority, so technically Eren should have to ride any way that Levi deemed; not that Eren would listen anyway. He just wanted to see how Levi would respond to such nonsense.

Levi chuckled, tightening the leather straps on his gloves idly as he smirked knowingly at the other Alpha; even he knew better than to restrict the Omega. Eren would make a fine Northern Queen, unquestionably. “A Queen of the North is not meant to be controlled by their King, but stand aside them, or perhaps you've forgotten who currently rules this Kingdom. Have you ever known my mother to ride side saddle? Eren can do as he likes or do you presume to question your future Queen's word?” He inquired snidely, raising a challenging brow at the other Alpha.

“No, my Lord,” Jean begrudged, glaring down at the ground, looking like he wanted to argue, but he wouldn’t dare try it. The Northern Prince was not known for his patience when it came to insubordination.

“What happens between my legs is none of your concern, horseface,” said Eren, lifting his chin before he stepped to wrap himself around Levi’s arm, blatantly showing the other Alpha who he belonged to. “I’ll switch the saddles myself,” Eren added then looked up at Levi with a beaming smile and flushed cheeks, “Are you going for a ride too? Does the stable master need to ready your steed?”

Levi's expression was nothing short of smug with pride as he smiled as well, reveling in the victory he'd just claimed over the rival Alpha. Obviously, Eren preferred him to the horse-faced stableboy. He watched Jean for a moment longer before he dismissively turned his attention to the Omega as he replied, “I'll ready her myself while you switch saddles, Kirschtein has other duties to attend to, after all, the elk shit won't shovel itself… I suppose we're meant to ride together then?” It was quite clear now that this meeting was no coincidence; it was no wonder his mother had been so keen on him going for a ride this morning.

Eren cocked his head to the right, blinked, then it clicked in his head as well and he deflated. “Oh… I didn’t realize… You don’t have to escort me if you have more pressing matters,” Eren said, bowing his head and biting his lip as he looked up at Levi through his lashes. He knew this kind of shit annoyed the hell out of Levi so Eren was worried the Alpha would be angry and blame the Omega for their mothers’ meddling once again.

The raven Alpha noticed the change in Eren's tone and shook his head, “No, a ride sounds like just what I need. Unless you'd prefer not to have company, I thought I might make a day of it. No need for it to be spoiled just because our mothers have decided to make a game of it, wouldn't you agree?” He let go of Eren as Jean finally stormed away fuming, red, and stinking of humiliation, smiling inwardly as he turned to tend to the strong, antlered female elk that had been his since he was a boy, affectionate with his familiar and eager steed as he greeted her.

He looked back towards Eren as an idea came to him; he hadn't been skating on the lake in so long, but it would certainly make a good way to pass the day and he was sure the Omega would find it entertaining; Eren never had shied away from a little adventure. “Actually, you might as well never mind changing your saddle. Where we're going, your mare would never make it. Since you don't have one of your own yet, you can ride double with me on Rhoswyn for now,” he directed idly as he settled the well worn winter saddle on his Elk's back and gingerly tightened up the straps as Rhoswyn lipped at his cloak approvingly. It seemed she was as much in favour of a ride as he was; it'd been some time since they'd last had one. Hopefully, his fiance would be as agreeable to the change in transportation.

Eren immediately lit up like a firework, his smile so bright, it rivaled the sun. “I would love too! I was never allowed to ride the elks!” Eren exclaimed, practically vibrating with excitement as he followed Levi around his beautiful steed. Rhoswyn shifted her gaze from her master to Eren, sniffing at the Omega’s face and then his neck, making Eren giggle. He lifted his hand for her to butt her nose into and cooed softly to her before pressing a few gentle kisses to her nose. “She’s beautiful.”

Levi's gaze softened as he watched Eren interacting with his longtime steed and friend, smiling broadly as Eren laid a few kisses to her white speckled nose. “She is… She must like you. I suppose we'll need to consider getting you one of your own once you've had some practice riding. It's traditional in the North, horses are not native here and the Queen is as much entitled as their king to the traditions of the Kingdom. Even if they have delicate Southern blood,” he teased, gaze and tone flirtatious while he finished up with the rest of Rhoswyn's riding gear and retrieved the ice skates from the hook in her stall, packing them away in her saddlebags. He was fairly sure his mother's skates would fit Eren; they were of a similar build after all.

Eren scrunched his nose at the Alpha then stuck out his tongue before he gave one last kiss to Rhoswyn’s nose. He didn’t wait for Levi to finish, hooking his foot in the stirrup and pulling himself up to a standing position in the saddle so he could begin the arduous process of seating himself. The Omega had to hike up his skirt and the petticoat underneath to mid thigh level just so that he could sit comfortably in the saddle without the dress hindering his movement. It would be so much easier if his mother would just let him wear pants again…

Once situated, he looked around for Levi, seeing him standing there staring up at the Omega in what Eren thought was amusement. “I know how silly I look,” Eren said in exasperation, his plump lips forming a pout, “My mother insists I wear dresses now. Are you coming or shall I steal your ride and head out on my own?”

“She always did wish for a daughter, didn't she?” Levi commented with a chuckle, eyeing Eren’s exposed thighs idly, “Even if you're pretty in it, the length isn't very practical, is it?” He was already reaching for the sword secured at his right hip, sliding it free of its sheath with practiced ease as he stepped over to Eren's side and reached with his unoccupied hand for the excess fabric, perfectly glad and perhaps a bit eager to remove the hindrance. The view was certainly not one to complain about.

Eren’s eyes blew wide in surprise, then he threw his head back and laughed, the sound ringing through the stables like bells in a church. “Do it,” he said, grinning down at Levi with pink cheeks and tears in his eyes from laughing so hard. “I have hundreds more to replace it. Maybe I should set you loose in my chambers to rip up the rest!” The Omega continued to giggle, already imagining how cross his mother would be later.

Levi flashed the Omega a roguish grin and sliced clean through the material in his grip without preamble. “As fun as that may be, it might be more prudent to just get you some breeches, love. As my Queen, you can wear whatever you want. I can't say I'll mind much either way,” he answered, resheathing his blade and wrapping the fabric in his hand into a ball before tossing it towards the stall he knew Jean was likely eavesdropping from. He didn't look away from Eren as his freed hand lingered over the Omega's thigh, giving it a playful squeeze before the Alpha pulled himself up into the saddle behind Eren.

Goosebumps swept across the Omega’s entire body as his face burned vermillion, the blush even extending down his neck at Levi’s playful squeeze. Eren wanted to ask him if he was getting used to the idea of marrying the Omega, but knew it would ruin the atmosphere. Levi was probably only saying it for Jean’s benefit, who was more than likely listening to their conversation. But Eren could feel his heart fill with hope.

The moment Levi settled behind him, Eren leaned back into his chest and reached for the Alpha’s arms to wrap around his small but curved waist. It was comfortable like this and the Omega was sure he wouldn’t get cold; he never did wrapped up in Levi’s arms.

Approval rumbled huskily in the Alpha's chest when Eren made himself comfortable against him as Levi took Rhoswyn's reins in hand. He leaned into the Omega in return, keeping him secure as he set his heels to the elk's sides, murmuring close to his ear, “Hold on, it's a bit of a ride.” With that, he made a low sound in the back of his throat and Rhoswyn began moving, seeming to know the destination her master had in mind.

Rhoswyn was much faster than Eren could've imagined, forcing the Omega to suppress a squeak as she bounded through the stable doors, across the field and into the forest in a matter of moments. She seemed to be much more agile than a horse, able to leap great distances to pass obstacles and jump from place to place, almost weightless even with two people on her back.

It was nerve wracking at first, forcing Eren to squeeze his eyes shut and turn to hide in the soft skin of Levi’s neck every time he saw she was about to make another jump. But soon enough, he grew used to her movements though he continued to nuzzle into the Alpha’s neck. Levi didn’t make him stop, so the Omega figured he might as well indulge while he had the chance, especially pleased that he could replace the smell of Jean with the Northern Prince’s scent instead. How he’d managed to get his friend’s grassy scent on himself so heavily, Eren didn’t know.

Levi was smiling again, enjoying the whipping of the winter breeze and the sweetness of Eren's scent on it as the Omega nuzzled against him. Though he wasn't about to admit it aloud, it was almost as if he were actually courting Eren and he wasn't exactly minding it. Eren wasn't like other Omegas. It didn't make a difference though, admitted or not, he preferred his scent on the Omega over anyone else's.

It was perhaps half an hour or so before they reached the frozen over lake Levi had frequented since childhood. The assorted fir trees split around it, hugging the frosted shores as the crystalline surface sparkled in the dappled sun and Rhoswyn slowed with Levi's subtle tug on the reins. He hopped down once she'd stopped and reached up to offer Eren a hand down as he asked with mischievous interest, “Have you ever been skating?”

Normally, Eren would ignore any attempt from an Alpha to help him off his horse; he could get down fine by himself. But this was Levi, so Eren took his hand and hopped down, shaking out his now short and jagged dress. “Skating? No, it doesn’t get cold enough in the South for the lakes to freeze over completely,” Eren admitted, about to let go of Levi’s hand, but the Alpha held on instead, beginning to lead him down to the shore where the ice met land.

Levi's grin broadened his lips again, pausing to retrieve the skates and sling them over a shoulder before he led Eren the rest of the way, answering as they moved along to the shoreline, “Well it's a bit like dancing only… better. You'll see.” He paused by a large, smooth rock and gestured as he continued, almost boyish excitement in his voice and in his eyes, “Here, sit and I'll fasten the blades on for you.”

“You better not laugh at me if I fall,” Eren groused though there was no real bite in his tone as he seated himself on the rock. Eren lifted one boot without a care for how short his skirt was and looked up at Levi expectantly, kind of excited to try. He had always wanted to go skating, but Jean didn’t have any skates that fit his smaller feet back when he was fourteen. “I remember my first dance lesson. I would say I hope your teaching skills have improved, but you’ve already demonstrated that yourself,” the Omega said then began to giggle. Levi was at least an excellent teacher when it came to kissing.

Catching Eren's foot in a firm grip, mercurial eyes trailed down the expanse of leg on display without conscious decision; Levi simply couldn't not appreciate the exquisite show of skin. When his eyes finally met the Omega's, he could feel heat beating at the back of his neck, his scent was definitely too eager, but interested and he was half-smirking again. “I’ve gotten better at leading,” he replied huskily, fingers nimbly lacing the skate blade to the sole of Eren's boot tightly, switching to the other without warning, “And you don't have to worry, I won't let you fall so long as you hold onto me.”

Eren tilted his head and grinned back. “If you do, then I’ll just drag you down with me,” Eren shot back, challenge in his voice and a mirrored arousal in his scent. It was easy enough to get lost in that charming smile and that seductive scent and Eren was tempted to open his legs in invition while Levi was down there. He didn’t, though he couldn’t help but wonder what Levi would’ve done if he had. Instead, his eyes lifted to look passed the Alpha and out into the frozen lake. “How did you learn? I’m surprised I’ve never managed to follow you out here when we were younger.”

“My mother taught me when I was little,” Levi replied, releasing Eren's foot finally and kneeling to tie on his own skates while still looking at the Omega, “You weren't ever here in the winter, but since you are now, I'll teach you.”

He finished with the skates and straightened up, balancing with practiced familiarity on the blades and stepping onto the ice before he offered the Omega a hand up, catching him and smiling when Eren faltered.

“Don’t let go,” Eren ordered, slightly frightened now that he was up and trying to slide across the ice with baby steps while Levi was skating backwards effortlessly. He was holding onto Levi’s hands with a death grip, squeaking with every slip, but he was beginning to get the hang of it. When he was able to push forward and glide steadily from one foot to the other, Eren finally looked up at the Alpha with a triumphant grin before he tripped and face planted into Levi’s chest.

Levi's chuckle vibrated in his chest, warm and thick against Eren's cheek as he caught him, firmly getting a hold around his waist. He smiled as he towed the Omega along out to the middle of the lake and once there, he adjusted his hold so he could keep Eren close like when they'd danced. “Don't be afraid of falling. It's just like dancing, let me lead you and you'll be fine,” he said quietly, dipping his head to catch Eren’s eyes again, his own assuring and alight with what might be affection as he began to gently guide them over the silvery ice.

Looking up at Levi through his lashes, Eren wrapped his arms around the Alpha’s neck then followed his lead. “Okay,” Eren whispered, looking down then back up and offering Levi a shy smile, “I trust you.” And it was true. Eren had always trusted Levi, followed wherever the Alpha led for better or for worse. The quiet of the frozen lake and the way Levi smiled back at him was enough for the Omega to wish the moment would never end.

Eren learned quickly and soon enough, Levi was chasing him across the ice rather than guiding him and it was easy enough to forget what had brought them here or why. Even time passed easily, spent carelessly through the morning and into the afternoon. When they got hungry, Levi hunted and lit a fire; they didn’t need to go back if they didn’t want to, not yet. It served their mothers right if they were worried in their absence and they were enjoying themselves too much to leave the lake before the sun had begun setting anyway.

The frosty chill of Northern night was setting in as Rhoswyn carried the couple back to the stables where the lamps had already been lit. They were empty when Levi and Eren entered them and Levi was glad for that; it had been peaceful, familiar and simple with just the two of them, he wasn’t exactly sure he was ready to give it up just yet.

He hopped down, grinning up at the Omega cheekily, and without a word of warning, Levi's hands slipped up Eren’s sides to grip firmly about his waist and lift him down rather than offering him a hand as he had before. It had always been fun to catch Eren off guard; there was no reason he should stop doing it now.

Eren made a startled squeak, unprepared to be lifted, but then he laughed as he fell into Levi’s arms. “You pull me around like I weigh nothing,” Eren said breathlessly, his feet still dangling off the ground as the Omega clung to Levi’s shoulders. The thought didn’t bother him; he kind of liked the idea of Levi overpowering him.

The Alpha chuckled, giving Eren a playful squeeze around the middle as he replied, “I wouldn't say nothing, but I kind of like that anyhow.” He hummed as he hitched Eren up further, gripping under his thighs to get a better hold on him, “Swinging a damned heavy sword around daily helps.” Now level, with their faces maybe inches apart, he grinned at Eren again, running his tongue across his teeth unconsciously and kneading at the firm, smooth flesh in his hands as he shifted his feet to press the Omega back against one of the beams of Rhoswyn's stall. Eren certainly wasn't heavy, especially without all that excess fabric weighing him down.

Eren couldn’t help but arch his back against the pillar, squirming in Levi’s hold. The Alpha probably could guess that no one had touched Eren like this before, it was enough to make his eyes flutter closed and force the Omega to bite his lip to stifle a gasp. Squeezing Levi closer with his thighs, Eren’s head tipped back against the wood as his eyes opened to reveal dilated pupils, his scent heavy with arousal. “Alpha,” Eren purred, tilting his head to display his neck, “Tell me… Do I feel as good in your arms as the redhead did? Do you want me now like you wanted her then?”

It took a long minute for Levi to comprehend which redhead Eren was referring to, distracted by the Omega's scent and the column of his throat. He knew what Eren was doing.

He dipped his head to brush his nose along the soft, sweetened skin and vaguely rolled his hips up against Eren's backside. His lips and breath ghosted along Eren's pulse as he finally answered in a gravelly murmur, “I knew you were watching… Are you still jealous? You shouldn't be… You were too little to play with me then, but you aren't so little now… Are you, Omega? You make me want you like you always have…”

Ah,” Eren gasped, unable to stop himself from rolling his hips along with Levi’s as his hands grasped for purchase, one fisting into the Alpha’s tunic and the other tangling in Levi’s hair. The Omega savoured the feeling of soft lips moving across his sensitive skin, before he yanked Levi back to glare into glowing silver eyes. “I know you knew. You sent me into preheat with just your scent, you bastard,” Eren hissed, but his scent contained only arousal, no anger whatsoever, “I’ve waited years to know what this feels like… Can you make me feel as good as she did? If you can’t then…” Eren’s voice trailed off so he could close the distance, his kiss biting as he enticed the Alpha closer. “You lose.”

Levi growled gutturally into the kiss, smirking against Eren's mouth as he slid his hands further up the undersides of the younger male’s thighs only to grip them twice as roughly. He broke away from Eren's kiss to reply, still close enough for their heated breaths to mingle and their noses and lips to brush as he spoke, “Oh love, it will be better… I know so many places and ways I could kiss you…”

He demonstrated by taking Eren's mouth in a demanding kiss of his own as he rocked up against him, breaking away purposely, tauntingly too soon to instead begin mouthing down the side of the Omega's neck, nipping with his teeth and tasting honey on his tongue, “You have a lot to learn…”

“You always think you know everything about everything,” Eren moaned, then bucked against the Alpha’s hold, forcing Levi to slam him back into the pillar, “But I… ah... Bet… you’ve never been with…mmn... An Omega like me… So teach me already! I want more.”

Levi pulled away to look at the Omega, eyes predatory, heavily dilated and hooded as he kept Eren firmly pinned to the beam. He licked his lips and chuckled breathily as he watched the Omega squirming, tasting his frustration in his scent; he didn't doubt Eren's desire, but…

“I think... you only say that because you know so little. It seems a little hasty to move on to more advanced lessons when I'm not convinced you've mastered the foundations yet… Why don't you show me just what kind of Omega you are and I'll consider it,” he challenged, calling Eren's bluff. It was too soon to end the game anyway and he was sure the Omega would rise to the bait.

Fucking hell,” Eren swore, hand snapping down to grab Levi’s wrist and shove it up his skirt himself, forcing the Alpha’s fingers to rub over his soaking wet small cloths. “I don’t care what you think! All you do is talk! Just touch me, kiss me, do something!” Eren demanded, too far gone to care if he seemed desperate. He was desperate, on the edge of ecstacy and he wouldn’t let Levi deny him. It was like a dam had burst and Eren could no longer be patient and play Levi’s game.

Another deep growl rolled through the Alpha's chest as Eren forcefully guided his hand beneath the tattered hem of his skirt. He hadn't exactly been expecting it, but he wasn't exactly complaining either, still intending to do little more than tease the younger Prince. Even if his own skin was throbbing with the desire to give the Omega everything he asked for and more. He wasn't going that far; he had discipline, control… no matter how fucking tempting Eren may be. It wasn't part of the plan. At least, it hadn't been.

He shifted his stance to wedge a thigh up between Eren's, pinning his hand between the press of their bodies, fingertips rubbing teasingly against the slick fabric that separated them from where Eren no doubt wanted them. With his leg supporting the Omega, his other hand could freely roam and it did, right up along Eren's side, following the lines of his lithe chest and to his throat, holding him still when the Alpha kissed him again aggressively. It was not quite open-mouthed, but certainly not chaste, bruising and demanding. Then, just for a breath, and at the same moment he rubbed his fingers a little harder, the tip of his tongue traced Eren's bottom lip and dipped inside before it retreated and the Alpha was growling his appreciation for the taste again.

Eren had begun to tremble, breath hitching when Levi finally gave him a taste of what he wanted. But the Northern Prince pulled away too soon, tearing a high pitched whine from Eren as he chased him and kissed him desperately, trying to draw Levi back. “Alpha, please… please, please, please, Alpha! Just… a little more?” Eren pleaded, between kisses as he looked at Levi with tear filled and black eyes.

Levi hummed, looking from Eren's eyes to his mouth and then to where his gloved hand still held the Omega's throat. He listened to Eren's breath and his whines for a lingering second before he abruptly used his grip to turn the Omega's head as he leaned in to press his mouth to the swollen and flushed scent gland there. A guttural sound between a purr and a groan rolled through his chest as he pressed his teeth and tongue to the scent-slicked and sensitive flesh in the same breath. Perhaps not the kiss Eren had been demanding, but Levi couldn't say he minded the compromise.

Eren allowed his head to fall, completely baring his neck to the Alpha as he began to pant, his breaths quick and high pitched like he was hyperventilating. “Levi, mmn, I can’t-I’m gonna- ah, Ah, AH,” Eren cried, then tensed up as he came untouched, a slosh of slick coating Levi’s hand and what was left of his dress. Eren could see stars as he relaxed bit by bit then all at once, going completely limp in Levi’s arms.

The Alpha pulled away from Eren's neck when the pitch of his voice changed and Levi watched in fascinated interest as Eren came. He hadn't been expecting it, but it made his chest warm with a sort of satisfied and possessive pride as he felt the wetness on his hand even through his glove and felt Eren relax against him. It was oddly endearing too, that Eren trusted him so freely. He'd spent so long thinking they were meant to be enemies, he hadn't realized how compatible they would be as lovers...

That was the only title that seemed appropriate. They were betrothed, engaged, but this was something else, something Levi was not yet ready to share with anyone else.

He gently freed his hand and wrapped both around Eren, settling the nearly boneless Omega against him securely before he carried him over to the fresh hay piled across from the stall. He laid him down and stripped off his cloak to tuck around him, pulling off his gloves and pocketing them as he crouched down next to him.

He crooned quietly, fingering Eren's hair and ghosting his knuckles along a flushed cheek, ignoring the stubborn arousal still throbbing beneath his own skin. Eren really was so lovely. “You just have a rest here then love,” he murmured quietly when Eren finally opened his eyes again, and he smiled softly at him as he finished talking, “I’m going to brush down Rhoswyn and get her bedded down for the night before we head back to the house.”

Eren gave Levi a dazed smile before he reached out to tug on Levi’s shirt and gently pull the Alpha down to nuzzle into his neck and jaw. He pressed a sweet kiss to Levi’s cheek then again to his lips. “Okay Alpha,” Eren said agreeably before he relaxed back into the hay and snuggled into Levi’s cloak with a content sigh. He was probably more pliant and submissive now then he’d ever been before, his Omegan instincts still in control.

Levi left the Omega there curled in the straw with his cloak and moved back to Rhoswyn's stall purposely. He had to force his feet to move him, to not stay and hover over Eren, keep touching him, kissing him; it was better to wait. He could be patient. He began to sing to him quietly as he worked, the repetitive and familiar motions of the task helping to calm the heat in his blood as Eren rested. The Omega looked peaceful there, soft and pretty in the lamplight and in turn the Alpha felt at peace.

But as all good things do, it ended. They had to return to the house.

Chapter Text

Eren dozed while Levi worked, but managed to come back to himself as the Alpha was finishing up. Sitting up, Eren brushed the hay out of his hair then sat there completely mortified before he groaned to himself and hid his face in his hands. How could he have finished so easily? He was still completely covered in slick! There was no way he could go back to his chambers without Levi being blamed for defiling him. The Omega began stinking of distress, too lost in his panic to notice that Levi had finished his task.

It was perhaps a handful of seconds before Eren's abruptly distressed scent reached him and no more than a breath after that, that Levi was at his side again, a low croon building in his throat. He knelt in the hay next to the Omega and reached out to pry Eren's hands away from his face as he spoke, “Shh, hey settle down love, what's the matter?”

Eren wrestled with Levi for a moment before he finally allowed the Alpha to see his beet red face. “I’m… Sorry… I didn’t mean to… And… I don’t want you to get in trouble for it,” Eren said haltingly, bowing his head and biting his lip as he avoided Levi’s gaze.

Levi blinked then shook his head with a quiet chuckle. “It's alright,” he assured; it was a perfect opportunity to tease the Omega, but Levi didn't much feel like it anymore. He wet his lips before he stood back up, “Give me a moment…” He went back into Rhoswyn's stall and disappeared from view for a minute, rifling around in the stored items that were kept in the chest at the back of the Elk's stall.

“Here, put these on and keep my cloak, it'll help cover the scent,” he directed upon his return, offering the Omega a pair of spare pants he'd made a habit of stashing for just such occasions.

Eren felt like a newborn foal, standing up on shaky legs and stumbling a bit before he managed to straighten and smiled at Levi in relief. He turned his back to Levi and removed his slick soiled small clothes, rubbing off as much as he could before he reached back and took the breeches too, pulling them over his sticky skin. Looking back at Levi over his shoulder, he said, “They are a bit snug in the hips and big everywhere else, but it’ll have to work. I don’t suppose you have an extra shirt as well? I think it might be better than the dress…”

Eren turned away again to survey the state of the torn and slick coated material. “I’ll need your help untying the bodice,” Eren added then realized after a moment what that sounded like then began to giggle. He turned his head just enough to side eye the Alpha and smirk. “I’m sure you already know how to undo a lady’s corset…”

Levi hummed, stepping back into the stall briefly to retrieve the requested shirt, mulling over his answer. A hundred teasing comments came to mind, but he wasn't in the mood even if Eren was goading him.

He dropped the shirt next to the Omega and sidled up behind him to begin unlacing the clothing nimbly. “I'd think you'd be more bothered that I've had such practice,” he commented as he tugged the laces free, watching the fabric come loose and droop to show more enticing, unblemished caramel skin.

“M-Maybe,” Eren said, trying to keep calm as he held the loose bodice up to his chest and allowed Levi to stare at his back for a moment. “But it’s the only thing I can tease you on! You are beyond reproach in all other aspects!” Eren remarked, puffing up his cheeks as he tilted his head up to try and catch Levi’s eye. He hadn’t meant to anger the Northern Prince, but he didn’t know how to act without their usual banter.

The Alpha chuckled, pressing a swift kiss to Eren's brow when the Omega looked back at him pouting. It may have been a roundabout way of giving it, but there had been a compliment in the Omega's words. He drew away to finish the task as he answered with a smile, “There are more pleasant ways to tease me. I don't care to compare past lovers to my present one.”

“Not really,” Eren’s face scrunched up as he thought, completely missing the lover comment. “You’re witty and charming… handsome... You have a keen mind for strategy and even though you are only going to be one and twenty, you’ve earned the respect of your most hardened Knights on the battlefield… Your Kingdom loves you greatly…” Eren huffed, stepping away from Levi to pick up the shirt and slip it over his head, covering his body expertly as he began to shimmy the bodice and what was left of the skirt over his hips and let it drop to the ground.

Levi’s shirt was much too big for Eren’s Omegan frame, slipping off one shoulder as he turned around with his hands on his hips. “It’s really not fair! You didn’t even touch me properly and I still... How am I supposed to win when I don’t affect you at all,” Eren blurted out then covered his mouth. He hadn’t wanted to voice that particular insecurity.

Feeling heat at the back of his neck again, Levi ducked his head, running a hand through his hair as his brows rose and his smile broadened unconsciously, flattered by the Omega's observations. He'd heard those things before, but not from Eren and somehow they meant more from him than they had others. He wasn't as unaffected as the younger Prince seemed to believe, but he didn't say so.

“I guess we'll just have to keep practicing until you get better then,” he murmured thoughtfully, scent giving away the enthusiasm for the suggestion he was attempting to ignore.

Eren’s eyes widened in surprise. “Really? You’ll let me keep trying?” He asked, hope replacing frustration in his eyes as he took a step closer. “You aren’t annoyed with me? 'Cause I didn’t…”
Eren said as he began to wildy gesture downwards to Levi’s breeches. When the words wouldn’t come, Eren’s eyes drifted down to the floor and he began to chew on his bottom lip with anxiety. “You won’t tire of my inexperience and find someone else to play with?” He finally managed to say as his hands tangled in the excess material of Levi’s shirt, looking up at the Alpha through long cinnamon lashes.

Levi's smile faded as he looked back at the Omega, brow furrowing as he watched Eren fidget, the tone in his voice making Levi's chest feel oddly tight suddenly. He reached for one of Eren’s hands, holding it between his own as if he hadn't actually meant to take it, like it was something precious he shouldn't be touching, trapping Eren's gaze with his own as he promised, “You're to be my Queen, I will be faithful to you.”

Eren lifted his gaze to look at Levi head on as his eyes filled with confusion. “But… You don’t even want to marry me… I don’t understand-,”

Before Eren could continue his thought, two enraged Queens burst through the stable doors.

Had he been able, Levi would've argued that it hardly mattered the circumstances by which they'd come to be betrothed, he would be the sort of King that did right by his Queen. The unexpected marriage was not Eren’s doing and though Levi wasn't agreeable to having the decision made for them, as he'd said before, he was glad it had been Eren. It was strange that they had gone from veritable enemies to lovers in a matter of days, but the Alpha didn't see reason to complain about that. It was much more pleasant this way… At least when they were left alone.

In retrospect, all the times they had enjoyed each other's company had been when it was just the two of them, no meddlesome mothers or obligation. Perhaps if they could find enough moments just for themselves, the rest of their marriage might actually be successful. If their mothers would just leave well enough alone…

Levi looked at his mother in question and she was looking back at him and she didn't say anything, but he knew she was livid. Really, he'd already known she would be; he'd just been hoping he and Eren would have more time before they had to face the wrath of the two Queens who'd no doubt had other plans for how the couple would spend their day. Neither was pleased that their sons had escaped them and then to have found them in the stables the way they were. No doubt, his mother knew what he'd been up to, but she didn't confront him in front of the other Queen and confirm it.

Pursing his lips a moment and still sharing a stare with his mother, Levi shifted his weight and spoke up before Eren could start making excuses; the Omega was awful at it if memory served. “Apologies, we hadn't intended to worry you. I thought my future Queen might enjoy some time away. We spent the day ice skating and we were enjoying it so much that the time simply got away from us,” he excused confidently; it wasn't really a lie afterall. He could see his mother's fury growing; she wanted to argue, but she kept her silence stonily.

Eren kept his lips clamped shut and nodded his head furiously in agreement, not trusting his mouth. He had a habit of blurting out the truth under pressure even if what Levi had said was mostly true.

“Do you think us deaf, dumb, and blind?” Carla snarled, stomping forward to snatch Eren’s wrist and drag him from the stables. The Omega didn’t fight her except to stumble a few steps on shaky legs, looking back at Levi with forlorn filled eyes. He hadn’t wanted to leave the Alpha’s side just yet.

Levi might've liked to go after them, to assure Carla that nothing so nefarious had taken place; he wouldn't dishonour his bride to be in whichever manner she suspected, but his mother's hand on his shoulder stayed him. It was not so long until they would be wed and he'd been waiting this long, what was a little longer, besides he had no intention of bedding Eren, at least for the time being. They were just getting to know one another… He'd have thought the two Queens would be thrilled.

He'd been mistaken.

His mother released her grip some minutes after and waited for him to move before she followed. She stalked him silently all the way to his chambers and once the door shut behind her, Levi did not even get to say a word before she was hissing in that tone she always used when he'd done something she was particularly disappointed about, “It must be the devil's luck that you've fathered no bastards…”

“Luck has no part in it,” the Alpha scoffed; he’d fathered no bastards because, despite what the court gossips might say, Levi had fucked no Omegas. He wasn’t innocent by any means, but there were other things lovers could do that didn’t result in more responsibilities. What had happened with Eren had been unexpected, but it hadn’t been anything too shameful. It hardly mattered what the truth was, of course; his mother would believe what she wanted. She only narrowed her eyes further and pursed her lips in displeasure rather than addressing his argument. And he could tell she wasn’t finished and he exhaled a harsh breath as he waited for the rest. In future, he and Eren would, no doubt, have to be more discreet with their trysts if they wanted to avoid lectures like these.

“What were you thinking?! Eren is not some milkmaid or lesser Lord's daughter! I thought, and God knows why given the history between the two of you, that you might actually be taking this betrothal seriously. But instead, you find every opportunity to shirk the responsibilities of your title you find unappealing. An honourable King takes all of his responsibilities seriously, Levi, even the ones that require sacrifice…” She had her fists on her hips and anger on her face as she ranted until she’d ran out of breath, her chest heaving vaguely.

Levi crossed his arms over his chest, mirroring his mother’s expression as he finally got the chance to break in before she could lay into him again on the next breath, “Do you or do you not want us to marry? I should think it would please you for me to court my Queen, or perhaps you had plans on how that should be done as well?”

“Don’t act like you didn’t know what you were doing wasn’t proper!” Kuchel hissed darkly, “You were in the middle of the stables where anyone could have walked in and seen you, stinking like sex with the boy barely dressed. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t actually dishonour him. All that matters is the perception... What do you think will happen if Eren’s reputation is ruined and he’s labelled a whore? What priest would marry you to make him your Queen?” Kuchel held Levi’s gaze for a long moment, giving him time to let her words sink in before she stepped forward to press her hands to his cheeks. “I should’ve known you’d lose your head around him… Tell me, what is it about that boy that makes you so… Reckless?”

Stepping away from her, Levi glared at the wall next to his door and replied coldly, hardly feeling generous after her attack, “It wasn't planned and I was a gentleman. I just wanted some time with him, is that so terrible? Are we not allowed to want to be together? We aren't children, surely it's expected to some degree. People believe what they want to believe mother. I am to be their King and I would bleed for them, why should Eren and I not at least be allowed this? Or is it you that can't trust in me?”

“This isn’t about trust!” Kuchel rebutted as she tried not to grit her teeth, lifting her hands to rub circles into her temples, “This isn’t about your relationship with Eren either! You’ll have an eternity of time to spend getting to know one another and fill his belly with heirs once you are married. Do you really think the Northern Lords are happy you are betrothed to some Southerner instead of your cousin? Say what you like about the pompous idiots and their idea of blood purity, you still need their support to keep your arse on that throne, Levi. They will use anything to wreck this alliance that I’ve been cultivating for years just to spite me!” With that, she turned her back on her son to swipe a pitcher of wine left by the servants to pour herself a large glass, downed it, then poured another.

Swallowing the last drop, Kuchel pressed her palms into the smooth wood of the side table then leaned into it heavily, taking a deep breath and cursing herself for raising a son as stubborn as she was. “I was young once too, you know. The first time I met your father was on our wedding day. The first words we spoke to one another were shared after the consummation which was witnessed by the entire court.” Kuchel gave a dry laugh at the memory then continued, “I’ve saved you from that fate. All I need is for you to think of the consequences… And maybe find some better hiding spots for heaven’s sake. You may not know her well, but the Southern Queen is as quick to anger as Eren is and she will not take any slight against her lightly. And yes, your hand up Eren’s skirt has definitely been taken as a slight.”

Levi snorted and shook his head, not bothering to argue. Of course he had somehow been the offender, no accounting for just how his hand had ended up between Eren's legs to begin with. He could have argued further about what she'd said, but he knew when to retreat. His mother obviously wasn't going to be reasonable, and neither was the Southern Queen it seemed. He and Eren would just have to find ways around them; the game had just become more thrilling and he almost smiled, but caught himself.

“Fine mother, what would you have me do?” He conceded, though his scent was still harsh with annoyance and defense; he didn't like to be forced to submit though his mother always seemed to have her way one way or another… or at least, she thought she did.

Looking over her shoulder, Kuchel narrowed her eyes at Levi; she was expecting a bigger fight. “From now on, your time spent with Eren will be chaperoned, whether that be by me, Carla, or someone else of our choosing. You will be supervised just until the ceremony and then you may do with your new bride as you please. You will not disappoint me in this matter again. If you do, you will be separated completely and you will not see Eren until your wedding day.”

Levi frowned, but agreed, “As you say.”

~~~

Being dragged through the castle, Eren pleaded with his mother. “I don’t need to go to the healer! Nothing happened, I swear it!” Eren said, digging in his heels as Carla's nails began to sink into the skin of his wrist.

Carla wasn't having it, tugging him harder as she replied, “Nothing hardly requires a dress change. You've left me with little choice Eren. Perhaps, you should have considered the consequences of your decision before making it. You're impulsiveness is unbecoming and I won't have it. Do not make this more difficult than it has to be.”

“It ripped while we were riding, mother,” Eren argued through gritted teeth, “It’s your fault for dressing me up like a doll and forcing me to be something I’m not. He was actually nice to me for the first time in ages and you both ruined it.”

“I’m sure he was,” Carla scoffed, “You don’t think that might have been because he wanted something from you? Alphas are often plenty charming when they’re hoping to be invited up your skirts.” She paused to take a breath and look down the hall, making sure there weren’t any prying eyes or ears listening to the two of them, adjusting her grip and beginning to pull him along again as she continued, “As for what you are and are not; you are Southern royalty, not a whore. A bastard is still a bastard even if the mother and father are expecting to be wed. You’d do well to remember that the next time Prince Levi takes you riding.”

“Don’t talk about him like that! Levi didn’t do anything,” Eren hissed, using his other hand to try and pry off her fingers, but she refused to budge before she turned a corner, ripped open a door and pulled him stumbling inside.

“Perhaps not, but he wanted to. You have no control around him and that is dangerous. This is for your own good,” Carla said as she thrust him forward into the healer’s examination quarters where two blonde Alphas, obviously father and son were pouring over some documents. They looked up as the pair entered and the elder of the two stood up as if he’d been expecting them.

Green eyes widened in shock when Eren scented the healers' dynamics. He had never been examined by an Alpha before, especially not since he'd presented. Whipping his head around to glare at his mother, he hissed, “No.”

Carla's lips thinned to a line as she narrowed her gaze right back at her son, "It's not up for negotiation."

She gestured to the healer, dismissing Eren as she stepped towards and spoke to the elder Alpha briefly. He looked at Eren, nodding to the Queen's words, well-practiced and clinical when he addressed her. Then he gestured for the younger Alpha to come over as well before he finally said, "Well then, if the Princess would be so kind as to remove the required garments and seat himself on the examination table, we can get started."

“My mother is mistaken, sir. If she insists on an examination, then it will be by an Omegan healer. Call for one,” Eren ordered, lifting his chin and straightening his back. If she thought he would suffer this humiliation quietly, then his mother didn’t know him very well.

Healer Braun chuckled heartily and shook his head, "I'm afraid we don't have one at the moment, but I'm sure your mother will be overseeing the examination so you've no need to worry about propriety my dear. The quicker we get to it, the quicker it will be over."

Carla heaved a sigh and settled her hands on her hips, "Enough Eren, you will be examined one way or another. This is the consequence for your impulsive and selfish choice. You only make it worse for yourself the longer you remain stubborn. Do as Healer Braun says or there will be repercussions you'll like even less, I can assure you."

“What kind of healer doesn’t have an Omega under their employment? I’ll be sure to look at your station once I am married,” Eren said, quick to lash out and threaten his way out of this predicament, “How about he examines you instead and I’ll supervise, mother? Find nothing but cobwebs, I suspect.” Eren took a step back as the younger of the two Alphas began to step towards him, palms out like one might corral an animal.

His mother shook her head and sighed her frustration huffily, "You forget yourself. You are no Queen yet. Remember that you made this decision." It was a harsh lesson, but Eren needed to learn it.

She then looked to the healer again and ordered, "Proceed." And the healer looked to the other Alpha that had been approaching the defensive Omegan Prince steadily and nodded.

The blonde Alpha lunged but Eren was faster, dodging him to run passed, jostling tables as he went since the room was small and filled with glass vials and instruments. The Omega knew that he couldn’t get away or stop this from happening, but he definitely was going to make them pay as much as possible before the inevitable. Sweeping his arms wide, he knocked as many glasses off and they shattered on the ground as the Alpha was hot on his trail.

Reiner's boots crunched the glass underfoot as he pursued the disgruntled Omega purposefully. It wasn't the first time he'd had to assist in this way for one thing or another while apprenticing under his father. He didn't particularly enjoy it, but it was part of the job. He just couldn't get why they fought so hard when the result was inevitable. He would corner him, catch him, pin him and his father would examine him on the Southern Queen's order; there wasn't another way this ended.

Carla placed herself in front of the door in case her son looped around and attempted to escape that way, a deep unimpressed frown on her lips. She was not at all pleased with his behaviour. Eren had always struggled, more so after he'd presented Omega, but he was getting far too old to be throwing such tantrums and he needed to learn to take responsibility for his mistakes.

There was a crash and a yelp, some snarling and colourful cursing as Reiner finally tackled the smaller Prince into the far wall, pinning him there and subduing him before he dragged him kicking and hissing to the examination table. His father and the Queen came to assist then since it was no small feat to get the vicious little Omega onto the cushioned tabletop; Reiner had the bite marks to prove it.

“You bastards! I’ll get you for this! I swear it! Just wait until the Prince hears what you’ve done to his betrothed! He’ll have your heads!” Eren screeched at the top of his lungs, straining his neck to watch with tears streaming down flushed cheeks as they struggled to strap his limbs down and stick his feet into the stirrups. But eventually they had him immobilized, and no matter how he struggled against the leather straps, they did not release, only digging welts into his skin as the healer began to cut off clothes. He resorted to banging his head hard against the table and swearing a multitude of curse words at them until he felt something stab him in the crook of his arm then burn through his veins, making the world feel dark and fuzzy.

“What did you give him?” Carla asked, finally showing concern as she stepped towards the top of the bed, brushing sweat plastered hair from Eren’s face as her son looked at her with glazed over eyes; not quite awake but still aware.

“Milk of the poppy,” the Healer said with a reassuring smile, “Just enough to calm him. Even strapped down, we cannot examine him properly if he does not relax.” With that, he gestured for Reiner to bring over a set of tools. “Now Reiner,” healer Braun started as he moved the stirrups to spread Eren’s legs wide open, ignoring the strong scent of dry slick that flooded the room, “What are the signs that an Omega has lost their maidenhood to an Alpha, hmm?” His young apprentice had not gotten the chance to do such an examination yet so it was a great opportunity for Reiner to learn.

The younger Alpha stepped over to have a look as his father instructed, feeling awkward for it being that the Omega wasn't his and was their future Queen; it didn't seem right, though he understood why they thought it necessary. He swallowed as he peered down at the rosy and vaguely swollen pucker. There wasn't any tearing that he could see, no blood or seed mingling with the sluggish slick that was escaping, no obvious bruising or stretching. He didn't list the observations, feeling too improper to recite them out loud and said instead, "He's still pure. There are no signs of penetration."

The Queen heaved a large sigh of relief, not realizing that she had held her breath and began to tremble as she awaited their answer.

“Good, very good,” Healer Braun complimented, “The slick is also clear and with no scent of infection or disease. That’s a good sign for fertility. The young Prince has nicely flared hips for his age, good to bear a healthy Northern heir. Hand me the speculum, and my Queen we will just take a quick look inside to make sure everything is in order and then our examination is complete.”

The Queen cringed on the inside, but nodded her consent, “Yes, yes of course.”

Reiner stepped back again, retrieving the requested tool and offering it to his father, watching with a clinical eye and trying not to think about how he would feel if this were being done to his own Omega; he didn't think Eren was wrong about how the Northern Prince would react to the news. He was just grateful he wouldn't be the one delivering it.

“With this procedure,” the Healer explained, readying the clamps with oil so they would slip in, “You have to have a delicate touch. You don’t want to hurt the Omega.” Placing the device at Eren’s entrance, he slowly pushed it in with a gurgle and a whimper from Eren. With that, he pulled on the handles, stretching the Omega’s hole wide. Eren began to twitch like he was trying to struggle, head flopping from one side to the other while the healer was looking inside of him. “You told me his heats are regular, yes? You see the inside is pink and spongy. Nice and healthy. He should have no problem catching.”

With that, the healer removed the device and placed it on the table. “That should be just about it. Reiner could you just check his neck for any bite marks that pierced the skin? After that you may help bring Eren back to his room. I'll begin tidying up.” He was anxious to get things back in order and send word for an audience with the present Queen and future King; they would no doubt be interested in the results.

Reiner nodded and did as instructed. Then he gently removed the straps entrapping Eren's limbs, undressing him and redressing him in a plain nightgown with the Queen's assistance before he picked the limp Omega up and followed Carla out of the little medical room.

Chapter Text

Levi was pacing again or perhaps he'd never stopped; he couldn't recall and he'd been at it for days now, two since the night his mother had followed him back to his chambers. He'd started pacing after she'd left that night and it certainly seemed like he hadn't stopped since, even when he'd been summoned to meet with the healer the morning after. He couldn't rightly remember, but he was sure he had not been still during the entire duration of the elder Alpha's report.

It had been phenomenally worse than he could have imagined and he'd been so angry, he couldn't talk, not that his mother would have allowed him to anyway. It had been completely unnecessary and uncomfortable did not even begin to encompass what it must have been like for the other Prince. Knowing Eren as he did, it must have been the worst sort of humiliation and Levi was angry for him. It was too much; the Southern Queen had gone too far in punishing Eren when Levi was willing to take the blame. Wasn't the chaperoning and meddlesome intervention by the two Queens enough?

And he'd been angry since then, especially because he had been kept away from Eren for days. The Omega refused to see him, refused to leave his room, not that Levi could blame him, but it only fueled his own irritation further. And now he was so restless and wound so tightly that he wanted to crawl out of his own skin. He needed to see his Omega.

He was done being patient.

He didn't bother attempting to sneak through the halls to Eren's quarters, well aware his mother had eyes everywhere, and instead slipped out the large paned doors of the balcony veranda attached to his quarters. He scaled the cobbled stone with familiar ease and made his way to the one he knew belonged to Eren's room, hopping off the stone ledge with a muted thump once he'd made it there.

He let himself inside without hesitation, lingering just inside the doorway as he called out in a hushed tone, not wanting to startle the Omega too badly, "Hey brat, you awake?"

Eren had been dozing, curled in a ball under a mound of blankets after he'd cried himself hoarse once again. The moment he heard movement, the Omega was instantly awake, snapping up to kneel in his bed and grab a ceramic pitcher, ready to chuck it at his mother's head, but froze when he saw Levi instead. His hair was even more unruly than normal, sticking up in all directions as his nightshirt hung off his shoulder, with bloodshot eyes and a puffy face from crying.

It took a few breaths of them staring at each other with the ceramic still raised high above Eren’s head before the Omega put down the pitcher and picked up a pillow instead. “Come to laugh at me, huh?” Eren hissed, watching as Levi ducked then grabbed two more pillows to whip at the Alpha, “Call me a crybaby? I’ll cry if I want to! Go away!”

Levi barely heard the words, dodging the projectiles and swiftly moving towards the obviously distraught Omega, a deep croon already rumbling in his chest. He tackled Eren back onto the bed as soon as he was close enough and cupped a hand over his mouth as he pinned his arms above his head with the other. He leaned over to order in a low murmur next to the Omega's ear, "I'm not going anywhere, now be quiet. I can't be caught in here."

Eren still struggled for a moment then winced in pain; his bandaged wrists and ankles still raw and sore. Unable to break Levi’s hold, and exhausted with the effort of it, the Omega began to whimper under the Alpha’s hand and fresh tears began to stream from his eyes, wetting them both. He hadn’t wanted Levi to see him like this, but Eren could admit he’d been yearning to see the Alpha since they’d been separated.

The Alpha's hold immediately gentled, releasing Eren's arms and his mouth to instead cup his face between them. He tenderly thumbed away the fresh tears as his crooning began in earnest, gaining depth and resonance as he attempted to soothe his Omega, the actions more instinctive than conscious. He began to scent him too, protective and apologetic as his words when he spoke again, "I'm sorry they did this. Your mother went too far. I'm sorry I could not stop her."

Eren didn’t even try to fight it, wrapping his arms around Levi and shoving his face into the Alpha’s neck for comfort. He needed to be covered in Levi’s scent even if he would have to wash it off later so no one realized the Alpha had been there. “You were supposed to be the first Alpha to touch me there,” Eren said into Levi’s skin bitterly, “Why weren’t there any Omega healers? It wouldn’t have been so bad if… The one wasn’t even mated.”

A growl rumbled in Levi's throat; he'd known from the healer's report that his apprenticing son had been present, but hearing Eren's upset over it freshened the irritation. He held Eren and shifted to cover him better as he replied breathily, "The healer's wife died last winter and they had no Omegan children to replace her… I'll see that that changes."

“I won’t forget this. When I am your Queen- hic, I’m going to make them pay for what they did to me,” Eren said, voice shaky before it dissolved once again into whimpers then out right trembling sobs. “Don't let another Alpha touch me! Only you! Even if you have to marry me when you don’t want to! Promise me!”

"You have my word love," Levi promised, not bothering to attempt convincing the emotional Omega that he could not punish the healers when they had only been doing their duty; an argument for another time when Eren had had time to soothe his hurt pride. "It's alright… It won't happen again. We just need to be more discreet when we meet. The chaperone certainly makes it more challenging, but it's not going to stop me. I wanted to see you. You don't have to hide from me; we're in this together, aren't we?" He continued after a moment, kissing away the new tears that trailed over Eren's cheeks and petting his hair and skin comfortingly.

“Yes, we are... You promised so now you’re really stuck with me,” Eren said through his sniffles, giving Levi a watery smile then a soft kiss to the Alpha’s lips.

It wasn't the most thrilling kiss nor the most sinful Levi'd ever shared, but there was something in it, a depth that had been lacking from others. It tasted like promises, salt and Eren, and it was kind of perfect. He reciprocated with a warm hum, giving the Omega a brief squeeze before he pulled away again.

He could've teased him then, argued that he'd always been stuck with Eren, but instead, he smiled down at him, brushed some damp and tangled hair from his cheeks and murmured sincerely, "There are worse fates…"

Eren flushed cheeks darkened, finally realizing their position. He was barely dressed with the Alpha pressed between his thighs though the Omega knew Levi would never try anything at this moment. Not with Eren so upset. He was still getting used to Levi being so nice to him. Truly, Eren thought the Alpha had come to scold him as well. It was nice to find comfort in someone else.

Eren sat up just enough to lean back on his elbows for support. “You mentioned something about chaperones?” Eren asked, cocking his head as his nose scrunched, “So we are stuck with babysitters now? Even though they proved you didn’t touch me…”

"Essentially, until we're wed… then apparently I'll be allowed to ravish you as I see fit," Levi replied with a low, humourless chuckle, "We're to pretend we don't want to fuck until such a time as is convenient, to put it delicately."

Eren turned an impressive shade of scarlet, spluttering to find words before he reached back for a pillow to smack Levi in the face with it. “Don’t say it like that!” Eren said, getting ready to hit the Alpha again, “I never said I wanted to-to-to… that with you!”

"You didn't have to love, I could smell it and so could everyone else," Levi scoffed, grabbing the pillow in the Omega's hands, pressing it between them so Eren couldn't use it as a weapon again and smirked at him, "It's nothing you have to be shy over. Even if I want to, you're not ready to be taken."

“I just wanted you to give me a proper kiss and touch me a little… Is that really so bad?” Eren whined, flopping back onto the bed as he began to pout. “I would have stopped you if you went further… Probably… Maybe…” Eren’s blush began to spread as he looked off to the side and bit his lip. “I don’t see what the big problem is… We are getting married anyway, so what does it matter if you sneak up my skirt again?”

"Mmn it matters if you end up birthing a bastard heir. It's timing. I guarantee they'll be changing tune soon as the vows are said. Everyone will be telling you how best to take my seed, just you wait. So unnecessary… But," Levi paused, shifting so he could give Eren's sides a playful squeeze, "What they don't know, won't hurt them or us. You can trust me."

Eren lowered his gaze as he began to chew on his bottom lip, squirming under Levi’s hands. “I know… But…” Eren started then stopped, trying to find the words, “Our wedding night… You’ll take me…” The Omega paused for a drawn out moment before he lifted his eyes to look at Levi through his lashes. “What they did… It hurt. It still hurts. Is it going to hurt with you too? I was curious before… Now I’m a bit…” Eren’s voice trailed off since he didn’t want to tell Levi he was scared. It was his duty as Levi’s Queen to give him heirs even if it was painful. “Did it hurt for the other Omegas you’ve lain with?”

"I wouldn't know…" Levi replied, hands stilling their wanderings to instead simply remain holding Eren's waist as he looked away and back again, heat building in his ears when he explained, "Despite what the gossips would have you believe, fucking too easily complicates what should be simple. I have no desire to father any bastards and there is pleasure to be found elsewhere. I don't know if it will be painful, from my understanding, some discomfort is to be expected at least the first go around…" He paused again, wetting his lips and swallowing before he assured, "In any case, I'm not in any rush if you aren't, so don't make it into something it doesn't have to be. You don't have to be afraid of me." And if he was honest, he was a bit nervous himself.

Eren’s eyes widened at Levi’s admission, watching the Alpha fidget nervously above him as his smile grew until he was outright beaming. The Omega couldn’t help but reach up and drag Levi down against him without warning, wrapping his arms and legs around the Alpha in a vice like grip so he couldn’t get away. Eren immediately began to giggle, purr and nuzzle into Levi’s face and neck. “I’m not afraid of you… We’ll figure it out on our wedding night,” Eren said excitedly into Levi’s neck before he set his teeth to the skin instead with small claiming nibbles he couldn’t stop himself from doing.

Levi was happy enough to get lost in the tease of Eren's teeth and the returning pleasantness of his scent rather than consider their impending nuptials and subsequent consummation too deeply. He wasn't too certain if he'd be ready then or not, but it didn't matter at the moment. Eren was making pretty little purring sounds that made Levi's skin buzz and his sweet little mouth was tracing over Levi's pulse and the Alpha was properly pinning him again. They didn't have to talk about any more of that…

Eren hadn’t meant to start anything intimate, just following his instincts to shower the Alpha with affection. But Levi was pressing hard against him, finding his bandaged wrists to pin above the Omega’s head as the Alpha’s scent strengthened. He couldn’t resist licking a stripe up Levi’s scent gland, tasting the Alpha before his head fell back onto the bed. “You smell so… good,” Eren breathed, licking his lips and savouring the tingle in his mouth, “Usually I don’t really like the smell of Alphas. My half brother scent marked me a couple times after I presented. It made me ill every time.”

Levi pressed his mouth to Eren's collar and hummed his response gutterally, "Suppose he's just not your type...The others too…" He nibbled a trail up the side of Eren's throat before he pressed his own against it instead to mark the Omega and himself again as he finished his thought with a secretive little smirk, "You never did mind a mark from me though."

“If you knew how much I liked it, you should have done it more,” Eren said, rubbing his face into Levi’s mark as his own rosebud scent heightened. “I don’t really understand it… Your mark is the only one I can wear without throwing up or making me want to claw off my skin.” The Omega breathed a happy sigh as he squeezed Levi’s hips with his warm, silky thighs. “I think… I think the Southern lords wanted me to marry my brother… But it didn’t feel right.”

The Alpha shifted back, settling his weight against Eren comfortably and propping himself on his forearms to either side of the Omega as he looked down at him with a heavily lidded silver gaze. "Some of the Northern Bannerman would see me marry my cousin. She's not yet presented, but I think the irony should be quite sweet when she comes to be an Alpha like me. That match is ill-fated regardless of what they wish. Northern and Southern blood will mix. It's my mother's will and mine," he said seriously, filling Eren in on some of what he'd just recently been told and his own conclusions, "Had I been given the choice, I'd rather not wed at all, take the vows and become a proper Knight. But, that's not to be, so if I'm to marry, it will be to you and no one else. And we'll have an heir when we're goddamned good and ready if you're agreeable."

Eren gaped up at the Alpha, feeling like a bucket of ice water had just been dropped on his head and all his affectionate purrs and nuzzles came to an abrupt stop. He recoiled without thinking, shoving Levi’s face away with an open palm while he bucked and kicked to get out from under the Alpha’s pin. “Why do you always have to ruin everything?” Eren yelled when he was able to sit up properly, across the bed from where Levi knelt looking bewildered.

"Shh," Levi hushed harshly, eyes widening with abrupt panic in response to the volume of Eren's voice, looking to the door and back as he put his hands up in surrender; he did not even want to think of the depth of shit he would be in if he was caught in Eren's bed. "I'm sorry, you can be mad at me just don't yell, alright… You'll bring down Hell on the both of us," he wasn't sure what he'd said wrong, didn't dare guess either, but he was fucking sorry; he definitely hadn't meant offense.

Eren glared at Levi for a drawn out moment, chest heaving up and down with nostrils flared in anger. Finally he turned his back on the Alpha as he got out of bed, standing rigidly with his arms crossed over his chest. “Get out,” Eren said quietly through clenched teeth, heeding Levi’s warning, “I have to wash off your stupid scent before someone comes to check on me.”

Levi heaved a thick sigh, but climbed off the bed and stepped back towards the balcony, looking back over his shoulder as he slipped out. He was perhaps more frustrated than when he'd arrived and restless too. He didn't like leaving things as they were, but Eren was right; he shouldn't stay. There'd be another moment to make amends… Maybe by then, he'd know what he was apologizing for.

~~~

The next time Eren was forced to see his betrothed, it was at a card game organized by their mothers after dinner. The Omega refused to acknowledge either his mother or Levi, snubbing them both completely, but speaking to Queen Kuchel when he was spoken to and only enough to be polite. The next was an afternoon stroll around the grounds where Levi offered him his arm and Eren stepped passed like the Alpha hadn’t spoken at all. They walked in stony silence followed closely by an entourage of courtiers whispering and snickering behind them the entire way.

The last was a chance meeting in the yard, Eren walking with Jean as the Alpha gave him an update on his mare's hoof and Levi in his armour with his group of Knights. They both happened to pause at the same time, green eyes catching grey, glancing away, then looking back to see Levi still staring. The Alpha looked confused, asking silently what he had done to deserve Eren’s eyre. It was enough to somewhat melt the ice that had frozen his heart. The Omega was just about to walk over and greet the Northern Prince for the first time in days when a familiar redhead turned up at Levi’s side. It was enough to make Eren’s blood boil, seeing red as his fingernails dug into his palms. Grabbing Jean by the arm, Eren whirled away, dragging his friend back to the castle where he wouldn’t have to witness such displays of disrespect.

Levi was angry, well, angrier than he'd been previous to the last encounter he'd had with his betrothed. Eren was being unreasonable and Levi was running low on patience, frustrated with the Omega's refusal to even give him a moment to apologize, and irritated by his own inability to understand his lover's motives.

It'd been made worse because Eren had left with an Alpha that wasn't him and then Petra had given him shit for being jealous then scolded him and called him three times an idiot when he'd explained what had happened in Eren's room. Apparently, Omegas weren't too keen on being given the compliment of consolation by their future husband. She hadn't went on to say how he might amend it aside groveling, which he was not about to stoop to… yet. At least he understood what he'd said wrong; it was a start.

But he was still restless and too wound up to seek Eren out; he wouldn't be able to talk to him properly. He didn't remain with his comrades very long after and retired to his room for the rest of the afternoon. He removed his armour, stripped right down to bare essentials and downed not one but two glasses of dark cherry wine in the hopes of relieving even a fraction of the tension writhing under his skin. It didn't work and he found himself pacing unproductively once again. And finally, growling under his breath and annoyed with himself, he pulled his sword from its sheath and went out onto the balcony to run through his routines in the early afternoon chill.

Eren could smell him before he saw him, having opened up his own balcony to let the chilly air soothe the fire of his rage. He had ditched Jean in the foyer and decided to hole up in his chambers again, maybe read a book or something, but the scent was rich and calling his name. Stepping outside, his nose led him to the side railing where he saw Levi practising two balconies over and one down. He couldn’t help but lean over the railing, trying to catch Levi’s scent from downwind and get a better look. Even at a distance, it was enough to make the Omega’s eyes dilate at the smell of pheromone filled sweat. He didn’t think Levi would notice him watching…

As it so happened, the Alpha didn't realize he had an audience, too lost in his thoughts as he stepped and swung, pivoted, feinted and parried his way through his usual practice, then continued into more complex maneuvers of his own. Even if he had noticed the Omega watching him, it wasn't likely he'd have acknowledged him just then, in retaliation for Eren's blatant snubbing. He moved with fluid familiarity, graceful and light on his feet, his sword like an extension of him, a part of him, fine sweat beginning to sheen the pale and scarred expanse of his naked torso even in the winter air as his blood rushed and throbbed in time with his heartbeat. He was in another world, the one meant for steel and blood where he could forget the more delicate battles he was currently waging.

Eren hummed, watching Levi like he was in a trance. But then he started to feel more and more bothered as the sight of his naked torso brought on flashbacks of Levi and the redhead in the stables. He wasn’t able to get mad at Levi in front of an audience for the things the Alpha had said when they were alone, but now was as good a time as any. All he had to do was get to Levi’s balcony without anyone seeing… Or falling.

Standing up on the railing, Eren bent low then leapt to the next railing, cursing the white shift and the dark blue corset he hadn’t changed out of yet. He couldn’t turn back now, crossing the length of the balcony to sit on the railing then gently lower himself so he could swing to Levi’s balcony below. Only, he'd misjudged the distance and with a panicked squeak, he was just able to grab the stone railing before he fell to his death.

Levi heard the sound and froze mid-motion, looking over his shoulder in the direction it had come from. Sharp mercury eyes did not miss the whitened fingertips that clung desperately to the ledge. Before he knew it, he'd moved, reaching over the railing to hoist his unexpected guest up and over onto the balcony singlehanded with a grunt. And he caught him when the Omega stumbled into him upon landing, surprised and somehow elated, the previous anger fading swiftly; he'd been waiting for this moment. He wasn't even sure where to start.

For a moment Eren was stunned, staring wide eyed at the sweaty, half naked man that held him as he tried to catch his breath. All he wanted to do was shove Levi down and lick off every glistening droplet and he could even feel himself leaning in, but he paused just shy of Levi’s lips.

Eren’s pride wouldn’t let him close the distance.

“You shouldn’t be out here half naked… You’ll catch your death,” Eren scolded, forcing his eyes to lift from the Alpha’s lips to meet his icy gaze, saying the first thing that popped into his head.

A husky chuckle sounded from the Alpha and he shook his head vaguely, scenting the interest in Eren despite his lover's attempt to cover it up. "And you had to nearly fall to yours just to tell me that?" He questioned with a knowing half smirk and raised brow, teasing and flirtatious because it seemed the easiest and most comfortable way to begin, "You needn't worry, Northern blood remember. Do I feel cold to you?"

“No, you don’t… But then again you could have had the warmth of that redheaded harlot to fight away the chill,” Eren snapped back, trying to pull away except Levi kept his hold on the Omega’s hips firm, forcing Eren to bend backwards instead. “I came for the apology you owe me, but clearly that was a mistake!” He added, still squirming to worm his way out of Levi’s arms.

"The only mistake is in your childish accusations. It's been years since she and I played lovers; Petra belongs to Hange, always has, even back then. You don't need to be jealous. I've not been unfaithful to you with her or anyone," Levi replied, words serious and honest though his mouth was still smiling as Eren seemed to be both trying to escape his hold and remain in it at once. "And I do owe you an apology. Let me make it up to you?"

“You were standing quite close to her in the courtyard,” Eren justified, voice filled with petulance as his bottom lip began to protrude. Levi’s offer intrigued him however, so he stopped struggling and allowed the Alpha to press in close, his hands ending up resting on the pale skin of Levi’s chest. “How?” the Omega asked, looking up at Levi through his eyelashes as his cheeks began to burn; he’d never been so close to Levi in such a state of undress before.

Levi hummed in feigned consideration as he watched the Omega with a cocked head and flirtatious mischief in his eyes. "How long has it been since you've been allowed to play with a proper sword?"

Eren blinked, then a spark of fire ignited in his eyes. He could tell where Levi was going with this. “Forever,” he answered in eager anticipation, “It’s been forever.”

"Go pick one of mine that suits you then and we'll see what skill you have," the Alpha replied teasingly, grin broadening his lips again, and with equal parts desire and excitement in his scent as he finally released the Omega from his hold.

Eren scrambled away, practically skipping inside then reappearing with a familiar great sword in his grip. “Do you remember this one?” Eren asked with a grin, twirling it around his hands then around his body, his shift billowing out as he moved. The Omega clicked his tongue at himself when he wasn’t maneuvering quite as smoothly as he used to, then looked over his shoulder at Levi. “It’s weighted for when you were younger. It’s still a bit heavy for me. I favoured duel wielding in the South before I presented.”

"Mn it's too light and short for me now, but I still keep it sharp enough to cut what was it you wanted, a watermelon? We don't have those here, but it cuts through winter melons like butter," Levi replied, smile boyish and handsome as he looked sidelong at the Omega, shifting his own sword from one hand to the other, "I'll see what I can do about getting you something that suits your taste better for next time, this is just a friendly bit of practice…" He paused a second, gaze running along Eren's form with interest, "Your dress isn't going to be a hindrance?"

Eren looked down at himself then blushed. He had completely forgotten what he had been wearing when he came to seek out Levi. It was little more than his skivvies. “It’s not a dress… It's a shift... The part that goes under the dress,” Eren explained, though he didn’t know why since Levi wouldn’t care. “I’ll be fine,” he added, spreading out his legs and lifting the sword in a battle stance with determination in his eyes, “If I win, then you’ll have to import some watermelon for me. It’s one of my favourite desserts and winter melon doesn’t even compare.”

"Ambitious," Levi murmured in response, turning his sword in his hand and falling into an offensive stance; there was little chance Eren would win fairly, but the Alpha thought he might just get the Omega that watermelon anyway. He looked lovely all fired up like that and though it wasn't quite the apology he'd planned, he just had to tell him before he attacked, "I should have said before, you are not the consolation, for me, you are the best part of this marriage. I would be honoured if you could say the same of me." And even before the last word had left his lips, he'd moved, lunging and swinging the heavy sword in his grip without warning; lover or not, Levi certainly wasn't going to go easy on him.

Eren lost his focus for a half second in sheer bewilderment, but managed to block Levi’s attack, the clash of their swords ringing out. It took all of Eren’s strength to hold Levi back from advancing before he pushed him back and their swords met again. “You fight dirty,” Eren observed, his rose scent filled with excitement and the sweet smell of rising desire as their swords scraped in a cross between them. “Maybe I will one day, when you manage to learn how to keep your foot out of your mouth.”

Levi chuckled, gaze alight as their blades broke apart and met again, bringing their faces close to one another as he made his reply, and even winked as he said it, "Lots of things are done dirty love, fighting is the least of them..." Breaking away again, he abruptly switched sword hands, pivoting around Eren's approach to elbow him in the gut before he stepped away again, showing off as he turned his sword in his grip idly and grinned at Eren.

All the air whooshed out of Eren, and he took a few steps back, hand raised to pause as he doubled over, coughing and wheezing, the sounds loud and grating to the ear.

It took a long minute for the Alpha to drop his stance to approach the Omega, equally suspicious and concerned. He hadn't thought he'd hit him that hard, but perhaps the corset worsened the impact…

Right when Levi was an arms length away, Eren lunged, thrusting the hilt of his sword up and into Levi’s stomach in revenge, smiling up at the Alpha with watering eyes. Levi’s hit had hurt and his tender abdomen would most likely be bruised but it wasn’t enough for the Omega to actually be in such hysterics. He was raised an Alpha after all.

Levi was not as moved as Eren had probably intended, corded muscle cushioning the blow, though he grunted and fell a step back, immediately taking up his sword again, voice roughened as his smirk returned, "That's more like it. For a moment, I thought you might have gone soft since presenting." Eren was as feisty as ever and Levi would have him no other way.

Getting to his feet, Eren wiped his face then smiled cheekily. “I’m softer in all the ways that count, Alpha,” the Omega said as his fingers brushed down his neck and chest then trailed down the cinched curve of his trim waist, ending their journey at his hip. “But I guess you already know that, what with your wandering hands.” With that, Eren ran at the Alpha, their swords meeting in a flurry of blocks and parries.

A low, but pleasant growl rolled in the Alpha's chest, scent spiking with intent wanting; he remembered… And the fact that the Omega was proving to be a rather skilled opponent only made it stronger. It might be the first time Levi wanted to both fight and fuck a sparring partner, the attraction adding a strangely exhilarating depth to the battle. Probably because of that, his moves became bolder, flirtatious and teasing, hands lingering unnecessarily and he even managed to evade an attack only to give the Omega a swat to the ass with the flat of his sword a second after, laughing as he spun away from him again.

Eren rubbed his smarting bottom, chest heaving as he wheezed. The corset was restricting his diaphragm, not allowing the Omega to breathe as deeply as such exercise required. But he paid it no mind, chasing after Levi with a wide swipe, slashing a rip in the Alpha’s breeches with a victorious shout. “You’re not as good as you think you are!” Eren proclaimed though a tad out of breath, holding his sword up to point at the Alpha.

Levi was laughing again as Eren pursued him, turning to face him as Eren pointed his blade at him, looking wild and a little winded. He circled the Omega with lazy steps, still eyeing him heatedly as he argued with his own sword raised, "Or perhaps I just want you to think that, so you'll let your guard down."

Feeling his strength fading, Eren tapped the edge of Levi’s blade with his own. “You’re not that good of a liar,” Eren said, taking one step and then another before he threw himself at the Alpha, forcing Levi to drop his blade to catch him as Eren slammed their lips together. They tumbled to the ground with Eren on top, but the Omega paid the fall no mind, straddling Levi’s hips as he bit his way inside the Alpha’s mouth.

Levi grunted and growled into the aggressive and not wholly unexpected attack, his hands firmly finding their places on the Omega's hips, squeezing as he took swift control of it. Pressing his own tongue fearlessly between Eren's teeth, he breathed harshly through his nose as he flipped their positions in order to pin his lover under his weight, unwilling to forfeit the fight just yet.

Eren was beginning to feel dizzy, his vision going blurry, but he refused to surrender, opening his mouth wide to draw the Alpha in so their tongues could tangle. He managed to wrap his legs around Levi’s hips to grind their fronts together, working them both into a frenzy before he forced the Alpha to lose his balance and they rolled again, both fighting to be on top.

Finally managing to force Eren down again with a thundering growl, Levi slammed him back onto the cobbled stone roughly as he pressed him down with his full weight and kissed him again.

Eren couldn’t help but moan as he began to slick, enjoying the kiss that Levi had denied him for so long, but somehow he didn’t lose his head completely. As the Alpha began to thrust against him in return, Eren reached out with one hand, blindly searching for a discarded blade before he managed to grasp a hilt. He lifted the sword with one hand as he shoved the Alpha back, pressing the blade to Levi’s throat, breathing hard and grinning up at the Alpha in victory. “You lose.”

Levi blinked slowly, licking his lips as he stared at the Omega with fatly dilated eyes. That was fine; he was willing enough to concede this round's victory to his lover so long as he could keep kissing him. He was already leaning in again, despite the blade at his throat, predatory as his hands crept up along Eren's thighs again. The spar was over, but their game was not; Levi owed him another lesson.

Eren really, really wanted to kiss Levi, even opened his legs wider for the Alpha, inviting him. But his wheezes were turning to gasps, unable to catch his breath and Levi’s weight on top of him wasn’t helping. Realizing what the problem was, Eren dropped the blade and began to claw at the ties of his corset though he was far too late. His eyes abruptly rolled into the back of his head and his body went limp, fainting underneath his betrothed, still smelling of victory and slick.

Chapter Text

The Alpha's reaction to Eren's unexpected fainting spell was immediate, like a splash of cold water, he was suddenly and intensely concerned for his Omega, arousal doused as adrenaline took its place. He was moving, using the discarded blade to make quick work of the accursed garment that had caused the mishap to begin with and tossed it aside. He watched the Omega for a moment in silent anxiety before Eren drew in a sharp breath then began breathing more naturally again and Levi sighed in relief. He let out a soft chuckle and shook his head before he gathered Eren into his arms and took him inside his bedchamber to lay him gently on the downy bedding before he retrieved the blades.

He left them by the door, stripped out of his torn breeches and slipped a fresh shirt over his head, and he'd meant to put on a new pair of pants too, but he heard the Omega shift on the bed and was distracted.

Eren had rolled on his side and without the corset to hold the loose fabric firmly in place, the shift had been pulled down by the Omega's weight. He hadn't really meant to see, but so much of Eren's neck, shoulder and torso were on display and he looked so fucking beautiful there in Levi's bed, the Alpha's mouth had gone dry and he'd stepped closer without realizing he'd moved at all. He bit his lip and reached out to tenderly tug the material free in an attempt to return his lover's modesty. It didn't seem right to be looking without permission and he didn't want to be tempted while the Omega was not conscious; he was not that sort of man, no matter how perfect Eren seemed there.

It was at that moment that Eren’s eyes fluttered open, seeing Levi in only a shirt reach down and tug on his shift. Immediately, Eren sat up and slapped the Alpha’s hand away before gathering his shift to his chest in defence, glaring daggers at Levi.

Levi blinked a handful of times, confused and silent in the wake of the Omega's stinging slap before he seemed to realize what Eren must've thought. Turning his face away abruptly, he swallowed hard and rubbed the back of his burning neck as he apologized, "Apologies, I wasn't attempting to… How are you feeling? I had to cut your corset off."

Eren’s eyes widened, looking down at himself then back up as his scowl turned sheepish. “The maids always tie it too tight. I used to faint all the time when I first started wearing them,” Eren said before his hands came up to hide his burning face. “So embarrassing! And you finally kissed me properly too!”

"It was fairplay, though next time we spar, perhaps, you dress better for it so you don't sleep through the best part," Levi replied, watching Eren sidelong for a drawn moment before he stepped back towards the bed again. Boldly settling a knee on the mattress and leaning in a bit towards the Omega hiding in his hands, Levi's scent weaved around them warmly, spiced with rekindling desire and affection as he finished, "And who's to stop us from trying again now that you're awake? I'm sure my bed is more comfortable than the stone if you'd care to find out. It was your win after all."

Eren held his breath for a moment then peeked through his fingers. “It is more comfortable,” he agreed, thighs pressing together as he stretched out his legs with pointed toes. “You’ll kiss me properly, won’t you?” Eren asked as his hands fell away to reveal his reddened face, reaching out to grip Levi’s shirt and tug to draw the Alpha closer.

The Alpha hummed as Eren lured him further onto the bed, hands already seeking out the Omega's sides, and pressing in to take Eren's lips as he replied in a husky murmur, "As you say love."

Eren’s breath hitched as their lips met, but then he whined in frustration when there was no tongue at all. “That’s not a proper kiss!” Eren complained as Levi crawled over him, pressing him to lay down on the bed.

"Impatient," Levi breathed, smiling against Eren's mouth before his tongue flickered out for a teasing taste. He palmed Eren's sides, kneading at the supple flesh through the barrier of clothing that kept his fingertips estranged from Eren's skin for some breaths before they began to wander. They found their way purposefully, sneaking beneath the hem of the shift and smoothing along the Omega's legs as he coaxed them apart once again and settled himself comfortably back between them as he pressed in to kiss him proper, open-mouthed and consuming. And his hands were hardly idle, creeping up further in search of the unexplored and no doubt sensitive skin that hid beneath the flimsy undergarments as he let himself get lost in the kiss they'd both been craving. He could admit now, if only to himself that in Eren's absence, Levi had been missing him.

Eren gasped into their kiss as his knees fell open, leaving himself to the Alpha’s mercy. He’d been yearning to explore Levi’s mouth, to feel his tongue, taste him and it was everything he had dreamed of and more. Their lips slid together languidly as Levi’s tongue danced over his own. It was enough to forget about Levi’s wandering hands until they reached somewhere delicate. “Levi,” Eren managed to whimper, pulling away from the kiss to look up at the Alpha with dilated eyes, unable to keep himself from arching his back off the bed. “What’re you-ah!”

Levi chuckled, licking his lips and watching the Omega with arousal hazy and hooded eyes. He brushed a thumb over a peaked nipple once again as he replied breathily, "Touching… You did say you wanted to be touched… Unless, you've changed your mind?"

Eren shook his head hard. “No, please touch me,” Eren said before his eyes fluttered closed and he bit his bottom lip, focusing on the movement of Levi’s fingers. His own hands began to feel restless upon Levi’s shoulders and a sudden urge struck him. “I want to… Touch you too,” Eren said, opening his eyes halfway to see how Levi would react.

A slow smile broadened on the Alpha's lips and he hummed his appreciation as he continued to tease Eren's chest with his fingertips. "I never did say you couldn't," he murmured, giving a proper answer as his scent clouded the already charged space with his eager approval and his hips fidgeted between the press of Eren's thighs.

“It’s different… I’ve never… Touched anyone before,” Eren began, watching his hands slide down Levi’s torso then pause at the Alpha’s abdomen. Gaining courage, Eren reached down to cup Levi’s erection overtop his shirt much too lightly, face scrunching at the size. “It’s not gonna fit,” Eren looked up at Levi forlornly. Maybe they wouldn’t be able to consummate their marriage after all?

The Alpha's breath hitched and low growl of encouragement rumbled in his chest as he pressed his cloth-clad cock harder against Eren's hesitant hand. "When the time comes, it will, trust me… Don't worry about it right now, it's just touching love," he assured roughly, pressing his mouth along Eren's jaw and rocking vaguely against him as his shift was pushed up while Levi's hands palmed along the Omega's ribcage then his soft-firm belly on their way to his hips and lower.

Eren hummed like he wasn’t convinced, head lifted to look between the press of their bodies and watching as Levi thrust into his hand. Even with fabric separating them, Eren could feel the Alpha’s pulse pound through his cock which made the Omega want to explore more.

Looking up to meet Levi’s gaze, Eren gave the length a squeeze just to see how the Alpha would react. He knew what he liked when it came to his heats, though he usually was much more focused on his slick hole rather than his small and insensitive Omegan cock.

Levi made another pleasured sound somewhere between a growl and groan when the Omega gave a curious squeeze. "You don't have to be so gentle, I won't break," he said teasingly, nipping at Eren's ear as he groped along the undersides of his thighs to cup his backside in retaliation.

Eren responded by grinding the palm of his hand directly into Levi’s cock then gave the length a rough tug. The Omega grinned when Levi moaned out loud, clearly proud of himself. It was nice to be on the giving end of things for once where the Alpha was the one to lose his head.

Hands snaking their way beneath fabric to grope Eren's backside skin to skin, Levi's thrusts became heavier, desperately seeking more delicious friction. He was making more sounds too, growls and breathy moans, beginning to sweat as he rocked against the Omega under him, burying his face against Eren's throat and chasing the sweetness that clung to his skin with his tongue.

The more Levi rubbed against his hand, the more Eren wanted him to rub somewhere else. It was an impulsive decision to pull his hand out from between them and on Levi’s next thrust, his cock slid roughly between the Omega’s cheeks instead.

Levi wasn't expecting it, lost as he was when the Omega withdrew his hand, but he didn't have the chance to complain. The new position felt pretty good to him. A pleasured hum thrummed in his chest instead as he pulled Eren into his next harshening thrust and touched his teeth to the sensitive gland at his lover's throat as his tongue massaged at it and greedily lapped up the honeyed oil it produced.

It was good like this, perfect actually; Levi couldn't remember an experience that had been more thrilling. Eren was in his bed, just the two of them, secreted away and freer for it, no hesitation or concern. He forgot who was winning, didn't care to wonder either as he found new ways to make Eren writhe and whine under him. And he didn't think he'd last much longer given how long he'd gone without; he didn't think Eren would either.

Even as the barriers between them were pushed away, Eren couldn’t think of anything else, but Levi’s cock sliding over his delicate entrance. It felt so unbelievably good, Eren was tempted to beg for the Alpha to penetrate him instead. Biting his lip to silence that request, the Omega threw his head back and began to pant, his fingernails digging into Levi’s lower back, encouraging him to thrust harder.

“Le-vi… Don’t stop, just like-Ah!” Eren cried out as he came, slick sloshing out onto Levi’s cock and cum staining the shift hitched up about his waist.

The Alpha grunted huskily as Eren's nails dug into his back, spurring his movements on and he growled when the Omega came, thrusting swiftly between the slick cheeks, losing rhythm as his own peak approached. His grip became almost bruising and he made a guttural sound that may have been Eren's name as he abruptly stiffened against him, adding to the mess between them and leaving a dark mark on the Omega's collar because he couldn't help it. His eyes were closed though he didn't recall shutting them and he caught his breath against Eren's neck as his taut muscles began to relax and tingle with pleasant numbness.

Eren's eyes were glossy with the aftershocks of pleasure as he began to nuzzle into Levi’s face with small chirping purrs. Even as the Alpha relaxed against him and he could feel Levi’s sticky release slide between his cheeks, Eren’s arms remained wrapped around Levi, holding him close and unwilling to let go. He was a little afraid Levi would get mad at him for how far they'd gone. Their mothers could be right about their recklessness, but it was hard for the Omega to care when he was wrapped up with his mate.

The Alpha crooned throatily in response to the sounds Eren made, not wholly conscious of it as he shifted his weight off of the Omega to lay aside him instead, not breaking contact and tugging Eren in against him as soon as he'd settled. His still hazy eyes found Eren's and a slow, but decidedly fond smile stole over his lips, lifting a hand to brush stray strands of cocoa from the Omega's damp brow. "You alright love?" He asked after a second, voice still gravelly and a little hoarse as he spoke. Eren hadn't said anything yet and his silence seemed more anxious than the Alpha would have liked.

Eren looked up at him for a long moment then bit his lip. “That felt…” He started then buried his face into Levi’s chest, “Really, really good.” His voice was filled with embarrassment and anxiety, like he hadn’t expected it to be so wonderful and worried that he was already craving more.

Levi chuckled, stroking Eren's feathery hair idly as the Omega hid his face, ignoring the warmth that filled his chest and heated the back of his own neck and ears. "Good," he breathed in return, watching his lover from under his lashes, still smiling, "You're lovely, you know that? I've never told you, but I've always thought so.”

Eren paused his fretting to peek up at Levi with glowing forest eyes filled with doubt. “Really? Always?” He asked, cocking his head to the right then scrunching his nose, “You’re not just saying that ‘cause I let you up my skirt and I’m covered in your cum?”

"I'd think it would've been in my best interests to have told you before and gotten up your skirt much sooner if that were the case. But yes, I've always thought so… Even when you were little, I thought you were cute... At least when you weren't covered in snot and wailing," Levi replied with a grin, giving Eren's hip a playful squeeze and watching him warmly, "You grew up beautiful though. Had I been given the option, I think I'd have liked to court you the right way."

Eren gave Levi a poke in the ribs. “I think you just liked making me cry,” Eren said, but a red flush was already spreading across his cheeks before he wiggled up to nuzzle the Alpha’s cheek. “You still could… Court me, you know. Even if we are doing it backwards,” he suggested, then hid his face once again in the crook of Levi’s neck. He’d never thought the Alpha would say something like that to him. It made his heart pound in his chest and he couldn’t stop from squirming where he lay beside Levi, too excitable to stay still.

Levi hummed thoughtfully, shifting some to accommodate the Omega's fidgeting as he admired him. "Suppose that's what I've been doing. I've just had to improvise. It would be easier if our mothers weren't making such an ordeal of it. They're afraid for you," he answered quietly, rubbing his fingertips along Eren's side lazily.

“They shouldn’t be,” Eren said, lifting his head once again to look directly into Levi’s gaze, determination in his eyes. “You’re… You’re a good match for me… You aren’t frightened by my temper and you rise to any challenge I give you instead of cowering away like a lesser man,” he continued as he sat up to throw his leg over Levi’s hips and seat himself, still dripping, in the Alpha’s lap as his hands lifted to press to Levi’s cheeks.

“I’ve decided that I want you to be my Alpha, not just my King,” Eren declared, green eyes burning into grey, putting weight behind the declaration.

Levi's hands found Eren's hips as soon as the Omega straddled him, staying him, but he didn't push him away. It was probably inevitable; they'd be bonded one way or another, but he was becoming confident this way was the better of the two.

He looked up at Eren, eyes soft as he reached a hand up to cup a flushed cheek and found the words to answer, "The sentiment is mutual love, but despite what obligation there is with our betrothal and what others might argue, bonding isn't something to be rushed. I don't want to learn to love you after. You deserve better than that."

“I’ll decide what I deserve,” Eren argued, smiling as his eyes became hooded, leaning forward to nudge their noses together. “I’ll be your Queen…” He purred, breath ghosting over Levi’s lips, “Wear your mark… warm your bed… Soothe your ruts… Bear you children… Because I've decided you are deserving.”

"You're not just saying that because you liked having me up your skirt?" Levi replied teasingly, though he held onto Eren a little tighter and the warmth in his chest got a little warmer. All those things he'd never particularly wanted, they really didn't seem so unpleasant when he imagined them with Eren; if he were being honest, he was starting to want them.

“That’s part of the reason,” Eren said with a giggle, smirking against Levi’s mouth before he gave the Alpha a sweet kiss. “The other part is that I want you to do it again,” their lips met a second time, “And again,” a third time, “And again. And I want you to be the only Alpha that does it. That goes for healers too. Only you should see.”

Levi hummed lowly, pressing into the kisses and sitting up with Eren in his lap so he could slide his hands up the back of his shift and touch the soft skin beneath. "You have my word. You're mine because you want to be," he breathed against Eren's mouth, cupping his nape with one hand as he kissed him again. It was so easy to get lost with Eren as if the Omega were made for him. Perhaps he had been…

Eren’s scent was filled with victorious pride, preening that the Alpha agreed to his demands. He didn’t think Levi would ever admit to feeling anything more than indifference towards him, let alone allowing the foundation of their relationship to be built on more than some silly game. It was enough to send his heart soaring and deepen the kiss to explore Levi’s mouth once again until he could no longer hold his breath and had to break away. “You better be able to keep up! I want a large family, you know. No less than five!” Eren declared breathlessly, bouncing where he sat in the Alpha’s lap.

Levi chuckled and squeezed the Omega in his arms, warm muscle flexing around Eren's smaller form as he answered, scent responding pleasantly to his lover's, "Let's start with one and see how it goes. You have a way of getting what you want, so I don't expect you'll be disappointed."

“I expect nothing less than to be spoiled rotten,” Eren said, beaming down at the Alpha before he leaned down once again to rub his neck over Levi’s face, covering the Alpha in his rose garden scent. He stayed like that for a few moments longer before he whined petulantly, “I don’t want to leave now!”

"Mmn then stay a while longer. We've time until anyone comes looking for us," Levi answered with a rumbling purr in response to the Omega's marking as he kneaded at Eren's back. The afternoon was theirs and Levi was in no rush to be anywhere else at the moment.

A shiver swept down Eren’s spine, suddenly aware of Levi’s hands roaming his bare skin. It felt like the Alpha was marking his path with fire and the Omega couldn’t help but arch his back as Levi squeezed the flesh of his waist. “I like the way the calluses on your hands scratch my skin when you touch me… I like when you squeeze… I like… When you pin me down and I can’t push you off,” Eren breathed absently then kissed Levi’s bottom lip, pulling it into his mouth to suck on then letting it pop out. “I guess I’m strange though. All the Omegas I know like to be treated gently. I’ve got hand prints from you all over my body and I like the way the bruises pattern my skin.”

"What's so strange?" Levi echoed questioningly, groping Eren's hips firmly as the Omega rocked vaguely in his lap and teased him with another brush of their mouths before he finished, "Passion is hardly gentle. You may have Southern blood, but perhaps you were born to rule the North. You certainly aren't lacking in fierceness or beauty."

Eren’s head tipped back as his eyes fluttered closed, still grinding his hips in Levi’s lap. His motions were unpractised, but instinctive, moving in a way that attracted his mate. “Don’t you want a soft little Omega that submits to you?” Eren questioned, “You should know by now what I am and what I am not. I’ll never be… easy to deal with.”

"And I would have you no other way," the Alpha hummed huskily in response, rolling his hips lazily up against the press of Eren's, "Easy is fragile and I, like passion, wasn't made to be gentle."

“I noticed,” Eren said with a giggle, burying his face into Levi’s neck and setting his teeth to nibble on the Alpha’s scent gland. “Alpha… I feel so… Empty. Do you really think it’d be bad for us to mate now? Even just like… A little bit?” he said, maneuvering his hips so that Levi’s cock was pressed between his cheeks once again.

"Nnm, how exactly does one mate just a little bit?" The Alpha teased lowly, a rumbling purr vibrating in his chest as he shifted under Eren and tried not to think too deeply about how easily a simple change of angle could drastically accelerate their pace. But Levi wasn't as impatient as his younger lover. "And yes, I think it would be problematic for us to mate now. We would be caught for certain and if you became pregnant, it could put our betrothal in jeopardy. Besides, there are still other things for you to learn anyway," he finished with a half smile as he ran the fingers of one hand down Eren's spine and between the still slick cheeks of the Omega's backside to meet his cock at Eren's invitingly slick entrance.

“You just… Don’t put it in all the way… Just a little?” Eren whined as he began to pant, squirming in Levi’s lap.

The Alpha snorted, "That would never be enough for you and what then, hm?" His fingertips pressed and rubbed against the slippery and twitching little hole as if to prove his point, smirking when the Omega shivered and whined again.

“It would be though,” Eren said, wrapping his arms around Levi’s shoulders and pressing his chest to the Alpha’s as he arched his back. “Just a little bit, Alpha…” He added, nuzzling into Levi’s cheek and jaw with imploringly wide doe eyes.

"It wouldn't. And you aren't ready for it anyway, even if you think you are," Levi argued huskily, though he did not stop rutting up against Eren and the pressure of his fingertips increased, dipping inside teasingly.

It took a moment for Eren to reply, too busy focusing on Levi’s fingers instead of his words. The sensation was enough to make him gasp and send his eyes rolling, but not enough to make him forget what he was actually craving. Opening his eyes once again, a pout formed on Eren’s plump lips as he cocked his head at the Alpha. “Don’t you want me too?”

A deep growl rumbled in Levi's chest, watching Eren as the Omega baited him. "I think you know very well that I do," he murmured throatily, fingers sinking in further as he thrust his cock up between the slick cheeks of Eren's rear.

Eren couldn’t help but press back onto Levi’s fingers, seeking more pleasure and finding pain instead. The Omega flinched hard with a startled and pained squeak, then fell forward on top of the Alpha to escape the burn. “You didn’t have to hurt me to make a point!” Eren cried, turning watery, hurt-filled eyes on the bewildered Alpha.

Levi went completely still, gently pulling his fingers from inside his lover, meeting Eren's pained gaze with concern in his own. "I didn't… I wouldn't… I'm sorry love. It shouldn't hurt." They'd went in so easily and it was just two and not even all the way, but somehow it had caused his Omega enough hurt to bring tears and that drove Levi's instincts from arousal to protective in less than a breath. He carefully rolled Eren, cradling him back onto the bedding and beginning to look him over. Maybe he'd somehow injured him before.

Tears rolled down the sides of Eren’s cheeks and into his hair as his legs instinctively clamped shut to protect himself from the Alpha. But Levi was right; it shouldn’t hurt, never had before during his heats or even when he pleasured himself alone. There was no reason Levi’s fingers should hurt more than his own so why did it hurt so badly?

Forgetting that he had an audience, Eren propped himself up on one elbow then snuck his free hand under his shift to reach between his legs to plunge a finger into his still wet and twitching hole himself. Instantly, he was met with the same stinging, burning sensation, making his breath hitch from pain. With an agonized whimper, he pulled his fingers out then looked up at Levi with panicked eyes. “It hurts… It hurts really bad. It’s never… Not during my heats…” Eren said, working himself up at the idea there was something wrong with him since there was no way he’d be going back to the healer.

Without thinking it through, Eren rolled onto his stomach and lifted his hips in the air, about to pull up his shift before he thought to ask, “Can you… Can you look? I don’t… I don’t want anyone else to see,” looking back at his Alpha imploringly. It was horribly embarrassing, especially because Levi hadn’t really seen any of Eren uncovered yet, but it was an emergency.

Chapter Text

Sitting back on his feet, Levi watched Eren with a furrowed brow as the Omega shifted positions. The pose should have been one that incited arousal, but Levi's erection was already flagging and forgotten in his concern. He leaned forward upon Eren's request, scenting the embarrassment and upset on him and settled one hand tenderly at the dip of his spine as he murmured assuringly, "Of course love, you can always trust me."

He was gentle as he examined the little hole between the still slick cheeks of Eren's backside. Carefully wiping away the fluids with his shirt sleeve to better see, he frowned, "It seems irritated and a bit swollen…" He thumbed lightly around the area, unhappy with the rawness and vague bruising, "Because you fought the examination probably." It certainly wasn't anything he'd done; he may not be made for gentleness, but he was not without compassion. "I'd never leave you like this. Do you want something to help love?"

“Y-Yes,” Eren said glumly, hiding his face in his bent forearms. “I’ve had many examinations before… Dozens back home since I presented… And I was never injured…” The little Omega made a growling sound foreign to his dynamic as he became angrier and angrier. “Is mating going to hurt now because of them? What if I can’t catch?” Eren demanded, lifting his face to show that he was flushed with anger instead of arousal.

The Alpha shook his head, shifting to retrieve a little jar of salve from the table next to his bed. Settling back behind Eren, he began applying it with careful efficiency as he replied, "No, the damage won't be permanent, somewhat like a muscle strain love. If I mated you now, it would certainly be painful and probably worsen the damage, but I don't imagine it would inhibit your chances of catching. I don't intend to fuck you now though, nor would I care to cause such discomfort even if I did. If it hurts, you won't want to do it again and I won't take you if you don't want it."

Eren made an annoyed sound like he was about to argue with the Alpha, but the soothing feeling of the salve was enough to force a relieved sigh instead. The Omega pressed his face into his forearms once again and shifted his knees apart then finally arched his back into the press of Levi’s fingers, obviously enjoying the Alpha’s care. He was glad that Levi had something to help since there was no way he was going back to the men that had harmed him in the first place.

Levi hummed lowly and pressed a single finger inside to apply the salve where it had seemed most painful, tender with his ministrations and happy enough to care for the Omega. Not because Eren would be his Queen or because it was an obligation, but because Eren was his lover first and foremost. It was only natural that he should care for him; only for Eren.

Nnn.” Eren couldn’t help but press back into Levi’s fingers as a shiver swept up and down his spine. He was quiet for a few moments just enjoying being touched before he lifted his head and looked back at the Alpha through his eyelashes, biting his lip. “Now that you can see me… Am I… To your liking my Lord?”

Levi hadn't really been looking, but he answered honestly, "I think it'll be better when it doesn't look painful anymore, but I will say, I had a feeling you'd be pretty everywhere." His fingers retreated and he wiped them on his shirt as well before he pulled the garment off altogether and tossed it aside, smiling boyishly at the Omega, "I wasn't wrong."

Eren blinked owlishly at the Alpha, mouth gaping open at the sight as he turned a brilliant shade of scarlet. He couldn’t help but sit up and turn around to get a closer look, eyes roaming hungrily over the Alpha’s battle-hardened body. The Omega knew Levi was strong, but seeing the evidence of that strength shamelessly on display was enough to bring back his arousal. He didn’t even notice that he had shifted closer once again and was squirming where he sat, pressing his knees together underneath himself.

The Alpha's smile broadened as Eren's scent became sweeter again, alluring as the Omega shifted closer, eyes glued to Levi. Eren's interest was apparently rekindled though it hadn't really been Levi's intention to arouse his lover again. "Enjoying the view, are you love?" He teased, shifting his position so that he could lean back lazily on his palms and watching Eren knowingly. They couldn't do much more than they had already. They hadn't the time and even if they had, now knowing of the Omega's injury, Levi didn't think it'd be wise to get carried away again.

Dilated green eyes met grey before Eren blinked once again and shook his head hard. “I’ve… I’ve never seen you in such a state of undress,” Eren said, becoming embarrassed at Levi’s teasing, “I was just… Looking at your scars… That’s all.” He forced himself to turn away from the Alpha, gripping his loose shift more securely around his body as his insecurities took hold. Levi didn’t want to bed him and it barely moved the Alpha to see him undressed and leaking slick. That would be a blow to any Omega’s ego.

Levi had called him lovely, but that was before he'd seen Eren naked.

He hadn't meant to, but Levi knew the moment Eren turned away that he had said something wrong. He didn't waste time following after him, slipping his hands around the Omega's middle and pulling him back against his chest, murmuring his response next to Eren's ear, "You can look as you like, I'm yours, aren't I? As you're mine. Don't misunderstand and mistake care for disinterest, I'm only thinking of you." He wasn't even sure if he'd made the right connection, but he thought he might be getting the hang of things, finally. Maybe…

Eren stiffened for a moment then allowed himself to be pulled into Levi’s arms. “You seem so… Unaffected by me,” Eren said with a sad sigh, tilting his head back to rub his face in Levi’s neck. “Just your scent is enough to make me slick… It’s unfair,” the Omega whined, “It’s like I’m thirteen all over again, chasing after an uninterested Alpha.”

"But you're wrong," Levi argued quietly, laying the both of them back into the plush bedding, confident the bolted lock on his door would keep any uninvited interruptions out, "I purposely learned to control it better. Do you remember what happened the last time I lost it with you? You were too young then to give me what I wanted and I hurt you."

Eren’s face scrunched up with confusion as he looked back at the Alpha. “You’ve never lost control with me...?” The Omega said, but his tone sounded unsure.

"Mn, I have," Levi hummed, breaking the eye contact to instead nose into Eren's hair and gave him a squeeze, "You nearly froze to death. You remember."

Eren snorted. “You didn’t lose control… I was just stupid enough to wait for you to come back. And then I couldn’t find my way out in the dark… And… It wasn’t your fault.”

"Perhaps, perhaps not," the Alpha conceded, rubbing an unconscious hand up and down Eren's side, "Nonetheless, it scared me enough to learn better."

Turning around to face the Alpha, Eren slowly pulled off his shift, then flopped on top of the Alpha before he could actually see the Omega's body. Burying his face in the Alpha’s neck, Eren said, “You shouldn’t have left for all those years… You left me all… Alone.”

Levi's arms found their way around the Omega, holding him skin to skin comfortably; it was oddly familiar. "You were safer without me here. But that was then, things are different now, even if our mothers still worry for you," he replied quietly, pressing his lips to the crown of Eren's head.

Eren shook his head but hugged Levi tighter. “Don’t leave me alone again.”

"I can't make such a promise, but I'll do my best," Levi assured honestly. He would be King and there would no doubt be times when he would have to leave his Queen and home for their kingdom. Such is the duty of a good King; that did not mean that he would be happy to go and he hoped his words conveyed it.

“If you can’t promise to stay, then you’ll just have to take me with you,” Eren said, peeking out from Levi’s neck to fix his glowing green stare on the Alpha.

The Alpha hummed, meeting Eren's gaze through lowered lashes, "I suppose that would depend…"

“Depend on what?” Eren asked eagerly, shifting forward on top of the Alpha.

"If you were with child or not," Levi's lazy smile returned, palming Eren's sides affectionately as the Omega shifted atop him. Eren probably hadn't been considering that.

Eren rolled his eyes hard then poked Levi in the cheek. “Pregnancy is not an illness! I’d only not be able to fight in the last couple of weeks and that is only because the extra weight on my abdomen would throw off my balance.”

Levi chuckled and shook his head against the pillow, explaining before his lover could become angry, "That's not why love. I won't be able to knowingly put you in such danger when you are vulnerable. I could compromise my Knights or our people because you and our child would always take precedence. You don't understand what's going to happen once we're bonded, how it will change us. It's already begun, maybe for a while even…"

Pressing his hands to Levi’s chest, Eren sat up straddling the Alpha’s stomach. “You don’t understand. I’m safest by your side, even if that happens to be in the middle of a battlefield. Do you really think these walls will protect me from harm when you are gone? They are just stone. We have a castle made of stone in the South and I was never safe there.”

Snorting quietly and shaking his head again, Levi argued, "Maybe so, but I would leave you where I trusted you were safest and should anyone succeed in finding you, I would trust you to protect yourself and our child. I cannot think as an honourable King if my mind is clouded with you. You aren't weak, but you are a weakness and there are those that would not hesitate to use you against me."

“And if my brother comes for me when you are gone? When I’m thick with your child and I can’t fight back?” Eren spit, crossing his arms and glaring down at the Alpha. There were some things he hadn’t told Levi, things his mother had yelled at him when he was throwing ceramics at her stupid head after the examination. He had hoped she was just trying to scare him into line, but the fear in her eyes had said otherwise.

"I'll kill him before he should have the chance then," Levi growled, fingers firming on Eren's hips possessively, not liking the threat and he would do as he said too. Eren did not belong to the South any longer; he belonged to the North and Levi would not take kindly to any threat against him, now or in future.

The Omega instantly deflated, smiling in relief at Levi’s declaration. He flopped forward to nuzzle into the side of the Alpha’s face and began to purr, trying to soothe any upset. “Sorry, Alpha. My mother told me some things that made a lot of other things clearer. But her words shone a light on an enemy I didn’t even know I had. The South has not been a safe haven for me for a long time. I could feel it, but I didn’t know why. You cannot let me go back there.”

Levi hummed lowly, returning to kneading at Eren's skin soothingly as they settled back against one another. "If and when you must return there, I will be with you, I can assure you of that," he promised and he would keep it, "I'll keep you safe."

He would protect Eren above all else as he always had. Maybe it had not always been gentle, but from their first meeting, hadn't he always done so? He'd certainly never wished real harm on him even if they had played enemies back then. Perhaps, he'd always loved him… Oddly enough, he couldn't say he was surprised by the realization; it'd been so easy to fall into the role of lovers even though they'd never quite been friends.

“I should enjoy showing it to you when the time comes… I could bring you to my birthplace, and we could go sailing on the ocean,” Eren said with a sigh, arching like a cat then relaxing further into Levi’s ministrations. “We should... Take it back…” Eren said in an almost whisper. It was treason to even think it, with their two kingdoms now allied together. The North would have Eren’s dowry, he was a bought and paid for broodmare that should have no inclination for the Southern throne, however… “You would look good sitting on the Southern throne… Much better than my brother.”

"I had intended too," Levi replied with a devilish little grin, giving Eren a playful squeeze as he finished his thought, "Seems fair that you should have it since it was meant to be yours. You are of the North now and Northern Queens are not to be taken lightly even in the South, no?"

Eren’s eyes widened as he pulled back. “You would take my kingdom back for me?”

"Why not? Blood does not lie, Omega or not, it's yours to rule," the Alpha answered, still smiling at his lover as Eren pulled back to look at him again.

Eren broke out in a beaming smile then kissed the Alpha hard, pouring all of his feelings into the action, wiggling where he sat on Levi’s abdomen and coating it in a fresh layer of slick. He couldn’t help but be aroused by the notion; Levi really was the perfect Alpha. “When did you decide to go to war for my birthright?”

That was a good question… it hadn't really been conscious when he'd decided it, but perhaps… "When your mother made you powerless. You should not be made to suffer such again," Levi said thoughtfully, voice husky and a bit rough with the memory of the report he'd been made witness to.

Eren bit his lip and looked down at the memory of his shame, but only for a moment before he met the Alpha’s eyes with even more determination. “She didn’t take all my power away, not truly. If she had, you wouldn’t have me alone in your bed completely naked,” Eren said with heat in his gaze.

"True," Levi snorted softly, shifting some and reaching up to brush his knuckles along Eren's jaw fondly, "But should she catch you again, what's to stop her from locking you away or having you examined everyday until we're wed? With power comes freedom love and that's something you don't have nearly enough of right now. But you will."

Eren’s eyes hardened. “They touch me again and I’ll slit their throats in their sleep.”

"And would you then take responsibility for their families? And the next that your mother would have sent? If they refused her, don't you think your mother would do the same? You cannot punish the peasant for the King's pride. It would be unjust and mend nothing," Levi argued, fingering Eren's hair idly and watching him, endeared by the brash naivete of his younger lover; still such a brat. "I've already demanded an Omega healer be hired immediately. We cannot punish anyone else for your mother's fears however unfounded they may be."

“My pride… my pride?” Eren hissed, face twisting in rage as he slapped Levi’s hand away. “Maybe I should have them strap you down to a table, drug, and violate you!” He immediately scrambled to get off the Alpha, snatching back his shift since he had nothing else to put on no matter how sullied it was. “You are well versed in the art of stuffing your foot in your mouth,” Eren barked, stomping towards the balcony in all his bruised, love bit, and naked glory, slick leaking down his tanned thighs and dripping on the floor.

Levi didn't hesitate giving chase, uncaring of his nudity as he caught the Omega by the wrist and pulled him back. Eren's offense hadn't been wholly unexpected and the Alpha could relate, but Eren had misunderstood. "And you are well versed in the art of half-listening. The words are not meant to be literal. You cannot rule on fear or pride. Your mother will only retaliate more harshly against you should you rebel openly further now. Would the vengeance not be sweeter from upon your throne while your kingdom bows before you, while your mother bows her head to you?" He spoke lowly next to Eren's ear, grip firmly holding him against the Alpha and unafraid of his lover's temper.

Eren struggled against the Alpha’s embrace, but Levi only held him tighter, allowing the Omega to kick out with his feet and strike with his elbows. He didn’t stop until he was completely worn out. “You were supposed to protect me! You let your own men hurt your Omega and now you are saying you will not punish them in any way!” Eren cried, tears streaming down his face.

"I did not let them hurt you, your mother ordered them to. If anyone's to be punished, it's her," Levi stated, a growl beneath his words and protective possession in his scent, holding the Omega tighter as Eren's tears soaked his skin, "If she weren't the Southern Queen, she'd be in the dungeons already. I heard the report, I know what she's done. Make no mistake love, when I am King, she will pay for her trespasses."

That made Eren pause. “She’s… My mother,” he said, the words torn from his throat in anguish, unknowing if they would defend or condemn her. His words hung in the air as the Omega stood with Levi at his back with his chest heaving for a long moment before he sagged back into the Alpha’s embrace. “Southern Queen… more like a puppet. I didn’t know it before, but it makes sense… Omegas don’t rule the South. It’s surprising she has kept her title for this long…”

"Probably because they believed you an Alpha. Now you see what she's so afraid of, for her and for you," Levi hummed, unsurprised by the information, "But you will have no fear when you take the Southern throne because you will have the North at your back. Your mother's penance will be yours to order love, along with the rest."

Eren nodded his head but felt drained, his scent sour like his mood. It was too much to think about… Tilting his head, Eren nosed into Levi’s neck, breathing in his scent to calm himself. He would never admit how quickly it did work.

The Alpha didn't hesitate to bare his neck further for Eren, coaxing him back to the bed as a low croon rumbled in his chest. "Come lay with me for a while until we can sneak you out…" He was glad enough to drop the topic and spend the rest of the afternoon cuddling in his bed instead. Maybe he'd read to Eren; he'd always loved stories.

“Nn,” Eren answered, allowing himself to be directed back into bed and then curled against Levi’s side. He snuggled back into Levi’s neck then searched for the Alpha’s hand until their fingers were intertwined, feeling the upset drain from him. It was nice being Levi’s Omega…

Levi smiled against Eren's hair and squeezed his hand as the Omega settled against him once again. "Would you like to hear a story love?" He offered, reaching with his unoccupied hand for his journal resting on the night table closest to him, already quite sure Eren would accept.

Eren smiled against the soft skin of Levi’s neck. “I’ve always loved your stories.”

"I know…" Levi hummed, opening the journal to the first page, "This one is about the Thirteenth King…"

Chapter Text

Walking through the halls of the castle, Eren’s deep burgundy dress swished as he moved. The Omegan Prince had paid a lot more attention to his appearance this evening than he normally would have, allowing himself to be primped by his maids as he preened in the mirror.

Everything felt different after the day spent alone with Levi tucked away in the security and solitude of the Alpha’s bedroom. They'd even snuck Eren back to his own hand in hand and the Alpha had given him a quick goodbye kiss at the door.

Yes, everything was different and yet he had to act as if nothing had changed, walking to the Queen’s parlor to play card games at the behest of Kuchel and his mother. Levi had coached him to not give away their increased affections, but it was going to be hard, especially with Eren feeling so giddy.

The Omega took a moment to give his head a shake at the door then waltzed in, noticing he was the last to arrive (probably from how long it had taken him to get ready). He hurried his steps to curtsy to the Queen, outright ignoring his own, and trying to put on a cloak of indifference towards Levi. It was especially difficult when the Alpha took his hand and bowed low, pressing a kiss to his knuckles as was customary for engaged royalty. It took everything in Eren’s power to rip his hand away instead of swoon like his weak knees were telling him too.

That previously detested smirk was on the Alpha's mouth as he watched Eren, amused by the Omega's dramatics. "Princess, you look lovely this evening," he greeted proper, aware of the hawk like attention from both of their mothers. "Shall we?" He offered his left arm to Eren, intending to escort him to his seat at the card table.

Eren didn’t have to pretend to scrunch up his nose at that. No matter how feminized he’d become since presenting as an Omega, his proper title was still Prince. Lifting up his chin, he gave the Alpha a warning glare, filled with the fire of his temper before he took Levi’s arm and was led to his seat. Technically speaking, he knew as far as their mothers were aware, he was still ignoring Levi outright, and this little game was supposed to warm him up to the Northern Prince.

If they only knew how much warmth there was between them, Eren wouldn’t be likely to see Levi until their wedding day.

As soon as Eren was seated, Levi slipped around the table to take his own seat across from him, unruffled by the glare his lover had set on him and effectively playing his part. His mother was smiling too widely, obviously pleased by the show whether she believed it genuine or not while the Southern Queen looked at him with lingering suspicion like he might strip Eren and have him on the table right before them. If he could have rolled his eyes without notice just then, he would have.

Instead, he smiled at her and said, "I've heard there are games played only in the South, will you teach us?"

"That's a wonderful idea," Kuchel chimed in pleasantly, "Please, you must teach us Carla."

Carla blinked in surprise. She hadn’t expected to teach anyone a game, so sure she’d spend the night scrutinizing the children to see if anything had changed. Smoothing out her dress in her lap, she said, “How about we play Kings and Liars! It’s quite an easy game to play. You call out what card you are setting down, but you can lie. Everyone else has to guess if you are lying or not. If you are caught, you have to pick up the entire deck, if they are wrong they have to pick up the deck. First person to get rid of their hand is crowned King.”

Eren groaned. “This game is the worst,” he said with a pout, slumping into his chair.

“You just don’t like it because you are terrible at telling fibs,” Carla quipped back, “And sit up straight.”

Eren turned his glare on his mother, but did as he was told as he watched the Queen shuffle the deck then hand out the cards. He was an excellent liar considering everything that had happened over the last few days. With that thought, he couldn’t help but glance across the table, green eyes meeting steel grey as Levi lounged regally in his seat.

Why did Levi have to look at him like that? It was enough to send a wave of heat through his body, forcing him to bite his lip and look away. It was going to be a long night.

Levi hid his grin behind his cards, keeping an eye on Eren as he shifted in his seat. Carla wasn't wrong, Eren was an awful liar, but rather than infuriating as it'd once been, the Alpha found it both endearing and amusing. Should be an interesting game.

"Deception is an art few are able to fully master, or so I've been told," he commented, shuffling a couple of cards in his hand around idly, "Perhaps Eren should be the one to start us off…"

Eren bristled at the challenge, picking up his hand with determination then slamming down a card in the middle of the table. “Queen of hearts!” he called as he kicked off his slippers to jab Levi in the shin with his foot. He held the Alpha’s gaze with burning green eyes, daring Levi to call him a liar.

Ignoring the smarting in his leg, Levi chuckled in response to the Omega's competitive stare. Instead of calling bluff, he plucked three cards from his own hand and set them on the pile to continue the game cheekily, "Three Kings." Even if Eren was lying, Levi figured it was better to further the game rather than call him out so soon.

Eren pouted, unhappy that Levi hadn’t called him out on his turn. He wanted the satisfaction of Levi being wrong and picking up his card.

The turns went by quickly, the Queens chattering amiably, and barely paying attention to the game while Eren focused on his betrothed intently.

He really wanted to catch Levi in a lie.

When the Alpha played his turn, Eren saw a minute shift of the corner of his mouth he hadn’t seen the entire game.

Liar,” Eren accused, leaning forward over the table, vibrating with excitement in his seat.

Eren saw exactly what Levi wanted him to and the grim set to his mouth only lasted as long as it took for him to flip the last King he'd called face up. He may never have played before, but it was always a good strategy not to send all your soldiers to one battle. He'd had a feeling his Fourth King would be better kept for just this moment. "Better luck next round love," he said with that devilishly handsome grin.

Eren’s eyes blew wide in shock as his mouth popped open. He’d been so sure! “You-! You cheated!” Eren accused, glaring at the card like it might change to something different and make him a liar.

“Eren! The Northern Prince would never cheat. Besides, that’s the whole point of the game,” Carla reprimanded immediately, throwing Kuchel an apologetic look.

“But-,”

“No buts. Come now, don't be a poor sport, pick up your cards, it’s Queen Kuchel’s turn,” Carla said, her tone final.

Eren swiped the considerably stacked deck into his hand then flopped back against his chair as he crossed his arms tightly over his chest. He had managed to play directly into Levi’s hand which made him seethe while his Alpha continued to smirk at him from across the table. Eren needed to get Levi back no matter what and he already had an idea to break the Alpha’s resolve.

Maybe if Levi was distracted, he would make a mistake…

While Kuchel took her time deciding her play, Eren schooled his face into a blank slate and kept his eyes lowered on his cards while his stocking covered foot reached to find Levi’s boot. When he made contact, he trailed his toes up the inside of Levi’s leg to his knee, green eyes glancing up through long lashes to see the Alpha’s reaction.

Levi's gaze flickered up from his own steadily dwindling hand to catch Eren's, raising one singular brow in challenge. Otherwise seemingly unaffected by what Eren's curious toes were doing beneath the table, the Alpha sank down further in his seat and spread his legs some. He definitely wasn't opposed to playing the game Eren was initiating. He didn't even think he'd mind that much if he lost.

Eren bit his bottom lip to hide his smirk, eyes darting back to his cards and cocking his head to display his unmarked scent gland like he was deep in concentration. He was, just not on the cards.

Inch by inch, Eren’s toes slid up the inside of Levi’s thigh, and just when he was about to touch something that was radiating heat, he’d pull back to the other knee and start again. They’d gone through Kuchel’s turn, then Carla’s turn, then Eren’s turn without any fuss. But when they reached Levi’s turn, Eren’s foot snapped forward to gently put pressure on his already half hard cock.

Eren's tactic was good, Levi gave him that as the Alpha fought the urge to fidget in his seat and snuck heated glances at his lover whenever their mothers' eyes were elsewhere. He nearly let out a growl when Eren's foot was quite abruptly rubbing against his manhood, but cleared his throat instead, looking back at his cards purposefully before he finally put down a pair of fours, some of the last cards in his hand. It was probably more luck than strategy that got him through the round given the fine distraction Eren was providing.

Eren’s distraction seemed to be working since Levi seemed a lot more open and the Omega could even tell that the Alpha hadn’t lied. But what he hadn’t realized was that he had become too distracted himself; much too focused on rubbing Levi’s cock through his trousers. The Omega wasn’t even paying attention to the game anymore, throwing down cards recklessly as he hyper fixated on every twitch Levi made. It was enough to make his own scent sweeter in the air. Luckily, the Queens had been into their wine and were much too focused on the game that they didn’t notice what was happening between their sons.

It was all very exhilarating.

Their mothers may not have noticed the change in Eren's scent, but Levi did, pupils thickening in response to the increased sweetness. They should end the game sooner rather than later…

"Liar," he called out Eren's obvious bluff, more than certain the Omega was more wrapped up in his own distracting than he was in winning cards.

Eren startled, foot stilling as he pulled out of his own daze to realize he hadn’t been paying attention at all.

“Looks like Eren is out of the game,” Carla sang happily, taking another hearty sip of her wine while Kuchel did the same. “Pick up your cards. We are almost done.”

With an impressive pout, Eren picked up the massive deck then fanned out the cards to hide his furiously red face behind and slouch in his seat. He acted like the sore loser was expected to be, except now he was free to really focus on his ministrations under the table. Kicking off his other slipper, both feet were now at the task of teasing Levi, one foot rubbing up and down the twitching shaft while the other teased at the loose delicate skin of the Alpha’s knot through his trousers.

Eren knew he should probably back off before the thrill made him slick, but he couldn’t seem to stop. He was enjoying playing with fire.

Levi leaned forward on his elbows, jaw twitching ever so subtly as he stubbornly kept his expression stoic and his scent level which was becoming increasingly difficult. Especially with the sweetness of Eren's lingering between them.

He cleared his throat again and took a sip of wine before he called both Queens' bluffs and left them pouting as he laid his last three cards down with a grin that was entirely for Eren. He was quite finished with cards…

Eren glanced at his mother who was quite red, then his eyes darted to Kuchel who was swaying in her seat and giggling when she accidentally knocked over her empty goblet of wine. Kneading into Levi’s cock one last time, Eren met Levi’s eyes before he sat up and whimpered, slumping dramatically into his seat.

“I-... I think I drank too much wine,” Eren whimpered, managing to lace a touch of distress into his scent.

“Oh! Are you alright?” Kuchel asked, knocking over her goblet once again to press her hand to Eren’s flushed cheek.

“Do we need to call the healer?” Carla asked, also looking quite worried.

“No!” Eren blurted, shaking his head hard, “I just need… To go lay down. Forgive me, I think I might need to cut our evening short.” The Omega began to stand up, then pretended to lose his footing and fall back into his chair.

“Maybe… Maybe Levi should escort you back to your room to make sure you get there safely,” Kuchel finally said, against her better judgement.

“No! I don’t wish to inconvenience the Prince,” Eren said, managing to look both worried and demure.

“I think it'd be for the best,” Carla finished begrudgingly, “You can barely stand and neither can we.”

Levi kept his chuckle to himself, watching the dramatics with interest as he snuck a hand beneath the table to adjust himself while everyone's attention was on his Omega. It wouldn't do for him to blow Eren's whole plan with the tent in his britches.

"I'll take him. Gods know where he might end up if we send him on his own," he broke in, tone teasing as per his usual fashion, getting to his feet to retrieve Eren. He had no doubt that the Queens would send someone to check that he kept his word, but that was fine enough; there were ways around that. "If I might be excused the rest of the evening as well, I think I'll take a bath after he's put to bed." No one was going to wander in on him while he was bathing, especially not with the door latched...

"As you like. His maids will be along shortly to assist him with dressing. You'll be free to go then," his mother agreed, affirming his suspicion.

He smiled and inclined his head before he reached for Eren, "Time for bed then little lord."

Eren allowed himself to be hauled up, slumping his dead weight onto Levi. It wasn’t that hard to pretend to be drunk since he was dazed off the Alpha beside him. The Omega even managed to trip on his skirts halfway out of the room almost falling flat on his face, but Levi managed to catch him around his cinched waist.

Levi hitched Eren upright again, inviting the Omega to lean heavily on him as he bid their mothers goodnight before steering his drunken lover out of the room. A safe distance down the corridor, he chuckled, "Well played love. My compliments, you certainly have a flare for the dramatics."

“You said I couldn’t lie… I wanted to prove you wrong,” Eren said, beaming up at Levi with a flushed and overly excited expression. “Where are we-... Do you still want to-...,” he tried to ask then clammed up, easily embarrassed.

"Do I still want to what love?" Levi answered with a knowing grin, leading Eren up the set of steps to the corridor that held his room.

Eren immediately began to pout at the teasing, shoving his elbow into the Alpha’s ribcage in reprimand. “I wanted to finish what I started… But if you don’t want to… I guess I’ll-,” Eren started, his cheeks glowing in embarrassment, “I’ll have to satisfy myself! It’s true that your hands feel far better than my own, but I’ve got some heat aids and your scent, so I bet I could figure it out!”

Levi's smile broadened and he looked down both sides of the hallway before he crowded the Omega against the nearest wall. A low growl rumbled in his chest as he replied with his hands groping along Eren's sides, "You shouldn't taunt me like that… You heard my mother, we've not the time to finish now."

He paused, pressing closer to the Omega and leaning in to brush his lips along Eren's neck teasingly, "But once your maids have left you tucked in bed, there's no reason you couldn't come join me for a bath."

Eren’s breath hitched as shivers swept up and down his spine. Tilting his head to give the Alpha even more access, Eren began nodding his head in agreement. “You… Want me?” He asked, hands twisting into the fabric of Levi’s doublet, trying to remember why they couldn’t just continue right then.

"Of course I want you… Did you really have doubts?" The Alpha murmured against Eren's skin, nibbling and tasting the sweetness there for some moments as his hands smoothed along the attractive dips and curves of his Omega's body.

“You aren’t… Easy to read,” Eren breathed, arching his back away from the wall, “Always teasing, barely reacting when I touch you…” The Omega sighed, feeling content in Levi’s arms. “Take me to my room, my Lord… I want you too.”

"As you say love," Levi agreed, pulling the both of them away from the wall. He led them the rest of the way to Eren's room, keeping the Omega close and using every opportunity he could to playfully grope him along the way.

It wasn't more than a few minutes once they'd reached the door to the Omega's chambers that Levi could hear the whispers and steps of his maids on the stairs. He leaned in for a final kiss and promised, "Come to me once you're free, I'll be waiting."

Giving Levi one more heat filled look, Eren ducked into his room and quickly began tearing off his dress, ordering his maids to hurry up when they soon followed. Even with them all dashing around him, it still took too long to get out of his corset, rubbed down with rose scented oils and put into one of his nicest embroidered nightgowns. He could barely lay still while the last maid doused the candles. The moment the door closed and the Omega was alone, he kicked off the covers and padded his way to the balcony before he snuck to Levi’s room the same as he had the last time.

The balcony door was left unlatched and so too was the door of the Northern Prince's bathing chamber, vague wisps of steam escaping from within. Levi'd already run the water, filling the large basin and adding some salts and oils. The water was always kept warm in the North, the fires stoked day and night beneath the monstrous reservoirs in the bowels of the castle, it would freeze too swiftly otherwise.

Already bare chested, he was in the process of removing his britches when he heard the telltale creak of the door behind him and smiled.

“It’s freezing,” Eren cried, practically running into the room on bare feet and slamming the door shut. He had meant to walk in seductively, but he was only wearing a very thin white nightgown and he couldn’t seem to stop his teeth from chattering. At least the hot water of the bath made the room warm and humid.

Levi chuckled and looked over his shoulder at his lover, holding his pants up with one hand. "You never dress for the weather when you come to see me, might be part of the problem love," he teased cheekily as Eren shivered, "Come over here, I'll warm you up."

Eren bit his lip and pouted for a moment before he stepped to Levi’s side, still shaking. He could feel the Alpha’s body heat though they weren’t even touching and the Omega couldn’t help but relax the moment he inhaled his Alpha’s comforting scent. Looking up at Levi with a shy smile before he rested his numb hands on the Alpha’s bare chest, Eren’s eyes fluttered closed for a moment before they opened halfway once again.

The Alpha surrendered his grip on his drawers the moment the Omega was close enough to touch, the loosened fabric pooling at his feet and leaving him bare against his chilled lover. His hands settled on Eren's sides instead, kneading and pulling him in even closer to scent him with a rolling growl of satisfaction.

"Mn," he breathed against Eren's collar, purposefully pressing his stiff arousal against the Omega, "Do you still have any doubt what effect you have on me love?"

Another shiver swept through Eren’s body for an entirely different reason than the cold, goosebumps spreading across his skin as he tilted his head to give Levi better access to his exposed neck and chest. He could feel the Alpha’s cock press into his smooth abdomen, dampening his nightgown and making his insides squirm with delight.

“You disliked me for so long…” Eren said, lowering his eyes to stare at where Levi pressed into him before he lightly trailed his fingertips over the soft, vaguely reddened skin, “It’s still odd to think I can affect you like this.” When he reached the tip of the Alpha’s cock, he used the pad of his thumb to spread a drop of precome around the head before he finally looked up at Levi through his lashes.

Levi shifted his weight, a husky rumble of encouragement sounding in his chest as Eren tentatively teased him. "Things change. I feel differently now," he answered, voice rougher than it'd been as he met the Omega's shy gaze with genuine desire in his own. Eren wasn't wrong; it should feel stranger, but it seemed only natural to the Alpha. Afterall, the Southern Prince had always caused a stir in him, was it really so odd it'd turned out this way?

Eren smiled up at the Alpha. “Yes… Soon we’ll be married and I won’t have to sneak into your chambers any longer,” the Omega said, lowering his eyes and biting his lip as his cheeks filled with colour. He wrapped his hand around the Alpha’s pulsing erection and gave it a small squeeze, feeling it twitch in response. “And soon you’ll fill me with your seed and I’ll become round with your children,” Eren added, the thought sending an intense wave of arousal through him and making his scent even sweeter.

"Soon…" Levi echoed, inhaling deeply as Eren's fingers squeezed and made his blood pulse beneath his skin, the heady scent of his arousal overlaying Eren's sweetness in the humid air. Soon was too soon, but not soon enough at the same time. Even so, soon wasn't now, so the Alpha chose not to think too deeply about the implications and the way Eren talked about it…

Chapter Text

"S'good love," Levi murmured, canting his hips vaguely into the Omega's grip, his own hands rubbing and groping at Eren's hips, down his thighs and beneath his nightgown in search of warm and sinfully alluring skin.

Eren’s smile turned smug at the way Levi was falling apart in his hands. Usually, it was the other way around since the Alpha rarely lost control and let the Omega take the lead. Eren wanted to savour it, but he didn’t really know what to do next, so he let go and turned to the steaming water instead, leaning over the side to test the temperature. “It smells good. What kind of oil did you use?” Eren asked, keeping his red face focused on the bath and trying to hide his inexperience.

The Alpha exhaled a thick breath, a mix of relief and disappointment; relief because Eren's teasing was torturous and disappointment because Eren's teasing was torturous. Both were short-lived because he couldn't fault his lover, watching as the Omega retreated shyly. He was so…

Levi stood for long moments just watching him before he finally moved, unembarrassed by his still very much present arousal (not that he could have hidden it even if he were). He answered as he came to stand behind Eren, reaching to thread his fingers through the unruly mop of chestnut atop his head, "Winter Lavender and spearmint. Will you be joining me?"

“I-um-yes,” Eren spluttered, arching his back from where he was bent over as Levi pulled gently on his hair. He couldn’t help but whimper when he felt the Alpha’s body heat through the thin material of his nightgown.

Levi smiled knowingly and leaned down to murmur next to his ear, one hand still in his hair while the other slid along the Omega's chest idly, "Take off your nightgown then, let me see you."

The Alpha’s warm breath sent shivers throughout Eren’s body until they were settled deep within the Omega’s abdomen. “In the South,” he tried to breathe around the fluttering of his heart, “Omegas wear gowns to bathe…” He didn’t know why he'd said that, knowing that this was a much different situation than he’d ever been in. So Eren clamped his mouth shut and began to pull his gown up and over his head until he was left bare in front of the Northern Prince, then used it to cover his chest defensively as he looked over his shoulder to meet Levi’s eye.

“Hm, in that case,” Levi hummed as he again approached the obviously skittish, but interested Omega, meeting and holding his gaze, “It is lucky we are in the North...” Leaning in while his hands found their way back around Eren to coax the gown out of his grip, he pressed his lips to his nape and along his shoulders as he finished huskily, “Where body heat is best shared skin to skin… Don’t hide love, there is no shame in beauty.”

Goosebumps swept across Eren’s skin at the feeling of Levi’s lips, making the Omega’s knees quiver. “It’s… embarrassing,” Eren whined, then bit his lip to quiet any other shameful noises from escaping. It was difficult when Levi’s hands started to wander up and down his arched back, brushing over his ribs, circling his tiny waist, then finally gripping his flared hips and squeezing, dragging a lust filled whimper out of the Omega. “What are you…” Eren breathed, turning once again to meet Levi’s eyes only for the Alpha to already be staring back at him, seemingly awaiting this reaction.

“Don’t tease!” The Omega groused, wanting to pull away out of indignation but unable to move, not with the way Levi’s hands pressed into his skin and held him in place. It satisfied so many of his instincts, even his prideful nature couldn’t force Eren to move away.

“You aren’t very convincing love,” Levi breathed over the dampened skin at Eren’s collar and watched him with such heat, surely the other Prince was no longer chilled, and perhaps his warm wandering hands may have eagerly assisted as well.

“Besides, this isn’t the sort of teasing you’d truly want me to stop, now is it?”

“You’re such a… Bastard,” Eren managed to hiss, confirming the Alpha’s words. It was true, he didn’t want Levi to stop. If his instincts had their way, he’d be on his knees begging the Alpha to continue. Why was he freezing up when he was getting what he wanted, what he'd promised Levi he was ready for?

Gaining all his courage, Eren turned in Levi’s arms to face the Alpha head on, revealing flushed cheeks and a petulant pout. He couldn’t think of what to say so instead, he wrapped his arms around the Alpha’s neck then nosed against Levi’s jaw, requesting a kiss he couldn’t ask for aloud.

The elder Prince laughed breathily, tilting his head in a taunting motion a moment or two before he gave in and sought Eren’s mouth with his own. Perhaps he was a bastard, but Eren was the one that had come to be in love with him. Levi could not find it in himself to be sorry in the least; spoiled as Eren may be, Levi had come to love him too.

He pressed his lips to the Omega’s, tender, but more aggressive as Eren pressed back and opened his mouth in desperate invitation and it was too damned easy to lead the Omega into the water while he was adequately distracted from his shyness. By the time Levi pulled back for breath, the fragrant water was around their hips as surely as his hands held Eren’s in a most provocative manner and he grinned roguishly in that way that seemed to make the Omega lose all sense, “Still nervous pretty?”

Maybe Eren would feel more confident exploring if it was underneath the water…

Eren hummed, chasing after Levi’s lips and loosing an adorable little frustrated growl when the Alpha denied his advances. “I wasn’t nervous!” Eren declared petulantly, still trying to reach Levi’s mouth and getting only a corner instead. Without thinking about it, he lifted up onto his tippy toes then slid one knee up to hook around Levi’s hip, determined to climb the Alpha to get what he wanted.

Levi let out a low and husky growl unlike the more playful and flirtatious ones that had been building previously as the Omega’s innocent attempt to chase after his kiss brought his naked backside in direct contact with the Alpha’s equally bare and very much aroused cock. His grip on the Omega firmed and he pulled him closer without real conscious decision, giving Eren what he wanted as he began to rock against him rhythmically.

Eren’s eyes blew wide as he gasped into Levi’s hungry kiss, the slide of Levi’s wet cock against his slick ass surprising him. It was enough to make him lose his balance, his toes slipping on the wet tile and falling into the Alpha only for Levi to catch him under the thighs as they both fell back into the tub. Water sloshed over the edge as Eren settled into straddling the Alpha’s lap looking startled until he began to giggle. “You saved me,” Eren said, smiling down at the Alpha then, wiggling his hips to trap Levi’s cock between his cheeks once again, “My Alpha knight…”

The Alpha rumbled his agreement as he rubbed up against Eren and squeezed his hips beneath the warm water and met the Omega’s gaze with hazy, hooded eyes. He didn’t say so, but he was beginning to think that maybe Eren had saved him just a little bit too. He’d always been so restless and there was never peace, never enough exhilaration, not like in battle... Except, he was finding, in chasing Eren.

He slid his palms up the Omega’s sides and back down and his voice came out rough and low when he spoke, “Do you still have doubts?”

Eren hummed as he looked down on the Alpha from his perch in Levi’s lap. Brushing his fingers through the wet fringes of the Alpha’s hair, Eren thought hard about his answer again.

“Yes, I still doubt you,” the Omega finally answered accusingly, sliding his body up the Alpha’s torso before capturing Levi’s mouth once again in an open mouthed kiss. “You’ll have to prove how much you want me every day for the rest of our lives,” he explained, breathing his words into Levi’s mouth with green eyes filled with wicked glee, “That won’t be too hard, will it?”

The Alpha chuckled huskily, “It should be my pleasure,” pressing into Eren’s kiss and slipping his hands around to grope at the Omega’s backside as he drew him in flush and bit at his lip.

“I’m greedy you know,” Eren said with a giggle, pulling away every time Levi tried to take his mouth. He forced the Alpha to chase after him until Levi was seated upright and Eren was bent back away with nowhere to go. “I want it all, all of your lust… I want to drive you crazy with how much you want me.”

“Mm, though it can be easily mistaken, what drives a man to madness is not his lust,” Levi argued, pausing his pursuit of the Omega’s kiss, “But his love…” He was watching Eren again, something intense in the heat of his gaze as his movements beneath the water’s surface slowed to a gentle rolling.

“Which is it do you suppose that I truly feel for you?” He’d been wondering if Eren had realized yet.

Eren blinked, thrown off by Levi’s question and suddenly feeling unbalanced though his thighs were anchored in Levi’s grip. Dropping his eyes, he bit his lip as he anxiously thought about it. There was no real reason for Levi to have fallen for him yet even if they had accepted each other as mates.

Lifting his gaze, he looked at Levi with pure determination. “Even if you do not love me yet, I will make you fall in love with me,” he promised, smiling at Levi as if he knew he'd solved some sort of riddle.

"That’s not what I asked you," Levi tilted his head, narrowing his eyes some at the Omega, the look lazily scolding, “Do you really not know?”

Eren’s face scrunched up in confusion for some seconds before it clicked, and the Omega stared owlishly at the Alpha. Pushing on Levi’s shoulders until he slammed back onto the side of the tub, Eren lifted up on his knees to stare down at the Alpha. “Don’t tease. Are you saying…" Levi couldn't possibly mean... "You love me?” He asked, tone serious.

The Alpha winced and let out a growl as his back impacted the hard stone, but he didn’t let go of Eren and he kept his gaze as he answered, “I would not tease about love. It probably began long ago. You have always been different and I did not understand before, but I do now. I must have always been falling for you Eren. It was never something I thought I wanted, but I can’t say I regret it now that I've realized it.”

“You… Love me?” Eren repeated, slowly deflating until he was seated in Levi’s lap once again. It took a moment for the idea to sink in before Eren turned bright red from the tips of his ears to the pink of his nipples. He couldn’t help but hide from Levi behind his hands, covering up the smile and the tears that gathered in his eyes. Whenever Eren thought he had gained the upper hand, Levi always managed to turn everything around and strike the Omega speechless.

It was frustrating and wonderful all at once.

“I do,” Levi affirmed without hesitation, a soft, handsome smile of his own beginning to spread across his lips, “And you, you’ve always loved me too, haven't you? I’m sorry I didn’t see it before.” He paused, wet his lips and tried to catch Eren’s eye again, “Are you alright love?”

Eren nodded his head affirmatively, but remained hidden with shoulders beginning to shake along with the sound of little sniffles.

He should’ve known he’d make Eren cry, even if the tears were happy for once. Levi wasn’t sure what else to do, so he just held the Omega tighter, rubbed his hands over his skin and began pressing affectionate kisses wherever he could reach, ignoring the throbbing of his cock as it remained pinned under his lover's weight.

“That tickles,” Eren managed to say, his voice watery as he squirmed in the Alpha’s lap. Slowly Eren’s hands began to fall until his tear streaked face was revealed and he leaned forward to wrap his arms around the Alpha’s neck again. Nudging the Alpha’s nose with his own, he whined a little, pleading for another kiss.

Levi slid a hand up into Eren’s damp and tangled hair, pulling him in and tilting his head as he gave him the kiss he was begging for, probably more intimate than any others they’d shared, as much as they could be at least for another ten days. He and Eren had had no part in any of the planning, but he had no doubt their wedding would be taking place as orchestrated by their mothers followed immediately after by his birthday and Coronation. But he didn’t even have the mind to be angry any further, especially when it was better to be lost in his lover. He would marry Eren now even if it had not been the Queens' will because he loved him and they belonged to one another.

"Spend the night?"

“Yes,” Eren breathed, moving to nuzzle into Levi’s neck as his rose petal scent permeated the room. He was much too emotional to control it at the moment.

The Alpha smiled against his skin, but didn’t say anything more, spending some moments simply holding Eren and scenting him, breathing him in as they settled into the new understanding of what they were to one another. Deciding they should finish up in the bath, he began assisting his mate in actually cleaning up and getting out before they settled into Levi’s bed for the night.

He was propped up by a pile of plush pillows with Eren resting against him comfortably, Levi’s fingers combing through his hair lazily while they watched each other. “Rhoswyn will give birth in the Spring. The calf will be yours. You could have your own Elk to ride by our Anniversary next year,” he murmured, sharing the bit of pleasing news he’d received not so long ago; he was sure Eren would be interested.

Eren smiled into Levi’s neck where he'd remained tucked the majority of the time since they'd gotten out of the tub. Their evening had gone a lot differently than he’d imagined, but surprisingly enough, this was better; no games, just enjoying one another.

“I remember you would practise riding for hours. No matter how much I begged, you wouldn’t ride double until your mother made you… And then I promptly fell off and almost broke my arm,” Eren recalled, beginning to giggle as he recounted the story, “You said it was because no Southerner should ride an Elk, but now I guess you were more worried for my safety…”

“Well yes, though I’d never have admitted it as such back then. You were my responsibility,” Levi replied with a soft smile, his hand gliding down Eren’s back from his hair and back up to repeat the motion idly, “And you were a terribly clumsy little thing. Do you remember how afraid of the ghosts you were when I first brought you down to visit the Kings? I thought you’d trip the both of us and we’d break our necks on the way down with how you clung onto me.”

“You were always so warm even with the chill,” Eren explained, nuzzling his nose into the soft spot behind the Alpha’s ear, “I was the moth and you were the flame. No matter how much you tried to burn me, I couldn’t stay away.”

Throwing his leg over Levi’s hip, Eren straddled the Alpha then leaned forward, staring at Levi’s mouth, stopping just before their lips touched. “You remember our first kiss? You said you did...” he asked, cocking his head to the side.

“I remember,” Levi assured, looking up at the Omega from beneath his lashes as his hands came to settle on Eren’s thighs and kneaded there, “What of it?”

“I wasn’t sure for the longest time,” Eren started, hands cupping the Alpha’s face as one thumb glided along Levi’s bottom lip. “It didn’t make sense, the yearning I felt for you before I presented. And even after being separated for years, you were the Alpha I called for during my first heat…” Eren bit his lip and turned his head to the side, avoiding Levi’s gaze. “I tested it in the South, thinking that any Alpha could make me feel the way you did. But I was wrong… If I felt anything other than indifference, it was nausea when others kissed me.”

The Omega paused for a second before he faced Levi head on, filled with determination. “None of that makes sense…” he repeated, willing Levi to take him seriously, “Unless I… Claimed you… When you kissed me for the first time, or maybe even before… I don’t know if you even have that in the North, it’s very rare in the South especially for an Omega to…”

“You mean the promise marking,” Levi chuckled quietly, flattered by all that Eren had said, but having some understanding of what had truly caused it, “It was when I marked you as mine. I didn’t know back then that I could do such and once I did, I never was sure if it actually had taken or not, but it works as you described. Because you are a promised Omega, promised to me.” He paused in his response, tilting his head to the side some as he kept Eren’s gaze, rubbing his hands up and down the Omega’s thighs and sides soothingly, “I’m sorry if it caused you distress growing up. You marked me as well so there was really no reversing it since you'd obviously accepted. And I certainly don’t regret it now.”

Eren’s eyes widened and he slowly, then all at once fell off Levi into the bed. “Of course you would claim me before you even understood what you were doing,” he scolded, smacking at the Alpha’s chest while Levi tried to defend himself though they were both laughing, “You never could share a goddamned thing with anyone else! Why did it affect me so badly while you could galavant off doing whatever you wanted!” In the end, Levi managed to roll on top of the Omega and grabbed hold of both of Eren’s wrists, stopping his halfhearted attack and pinning him onto the bed playfully.

Levi smiled down at him, humming in thought, “Mostly? Because I am an Alpha and you are not and I'm older,” he answered after a second, kneading at Eren’s wrists as he rested a little more of his weight on his lover, and wedged himself pretty familiarly between Eren’s thighs. “When we were young, you had not yet presented as Omega, but I was already beginning to present as Alpha and able to mark you. Though you marked me as well, you were too young for it to have such a profound or lasting effect, it wore off pretty quickly,” he explained further, not wanting to upset Eren or lead him to some misunderstanding when he meant no offense, “It’s different now. I’m yours as much as you are mine. Your claim is much stronger. I have no interest in any other Omegas aside you because I am meant to belong to you.”

Eren bit his lip, wanting to be cross, but unable to summon his anger when Levi was looking down at him like he was the most beautiful, precious thing the Alpha had ever seen. “You did say you were never fully intimate with another Omega,” Eren reasoned, smile turning smug, “I guess I did have an effect in some small way…” Squeezing Levi’s hips with his thighs, he turned his head to display his neck and enjoyed the instant draw of the Alpha’s eyes to his unblemished throat.

“So you did,” Levi murmured as he leaned in to press his lips to Eren’s exposed neck, slipping a hand down to grope at the Omega’s thigh as he supported himself on the elbow of the other, and shifted his hips between the press of Eren’s legs, “Perhaps not so small…”

Eren hummed, smiling as Levi nosed along his throat. “And now you’ll never be rid of me. In ten days, you will be stuck with the snot nosed brat you've hated since you were a child.”

“Mm funny that, in ten days, everyone will know how much I’ve come to love that same brat instead,” Levi’s words were warm against Eren’s kiss-dampened skin as the Alpha continued to map a path along his throat and collar, rocking his hips vaguely into Eren’s, “You won’t have to sneak into my sheets at night and you won’t have to wait any longer…”

“Yeah?” Eren said with a teasing giggle, “Finally ready to marry me and make me your Queen? Or are you still plotting your escape?” Everything about the Omega was glowing, feeling incandescently happy.

Levi’s breathy hum echoed in his chest as he made his way further down the Omega’s torso while sliding his hands beneath Eren’s nightgown and drawing it up so he could press his mouth to the skin that was revealed from underneath. “There is no escape, you find me even in my dreams love. The question is, are you ready?” He murmured against the silky smoothness of Eren’s taut belly ticklishly.

Eren’s abdominal muscles tensed under the attention as he looked down at Levi with curiosity. There was a challenge in the Alpha’s eye and Eren knew they were playing another game.

“I am,” Eren answered, lifting his chin stubbornly to display how unwilling he was to back down.

Levi had expected nothing less of Eren’s defiant nature and chuckled low and quiet against the Omega’s skin as he slipped a little lower. His hands groped along Eren’s thighs and maneuvered them to rest over his shoulders as he trailed a string of damp, open-mouthed kisses along the sensitive insides, continuing on his way elsewhere.

Breath hitching, Eren began to squirm as his scent became uncertain. His thighs squeezed against Levi’s head, but the Alpha just smirked and sucked marks into them until he let go. Even then, the Omega couldn’t help but wiggle with every teasing touch and breath.

“Don’t be shy, love,” Levi breathed over Eren’s now marked skin, “It should be only natural to know the taste of you.” His hands kneaded at the Omega’s hips and sides, soothing away nervous tension and shifting them ever so slightly as he began to press his lips to Eren’s thighs again.

The Omega felt like his heart was in his throat, swallowing down the beats as his thighs quivered where they rested on Levi’s shoulders. He had an idea of what the Alpha was going to do and Eren thanked the Gods they had literally just bathed. As it was, he couldn’t help but be worried about the cleanliness of this particular act. But he couldn’t shove the Alpha away, not when Levi’s tongue and lips were trailing over such delicate skin and his hands were roughly kneading at the rest of his body.

It was enough to make the Omega begin to slick with anticipation.

A husky chuckle sounded from the Alpha between Eren’s legs, certainly aware of his lover’s reservations. He was sure the Omega would forget all of his concerns soon enough.

He hummed appreciatively as the scent of fresh slick made his mouth water and he gave Eren’s inner thigh one more nip before his tongue wound a bold trail down its seam in search of the source of that sugary sweetness that begged for so much more.

“Levi- Fuck!” Eren cried, hands flying down to tangle his fingers in the Alpha’s hair. It felt amazing already and Levi had barely even started yet, clever tongue licking up the slick that was leaking out. But all that did was make Eren slick even more as the Omega’s heels rubbed up and down Levi’s back.

The Alpha made another low sound of encouragement as he lapped up the fresh slick, following it to the source and pressing his mouth to the eager little hole without hesitation. He held Eren’s hips steady as the Omega’s thighs shook and hugged his head between them while those pretty fingers tangled themselves in his hair and pulled just hard enough to make his cock throb against the bedding beneath them. His tongue explored with unrushed and thorough curiosity, dipping inside teasingly before burying itself deeper. Eren tasted so very sweet like rose wine and honey and Levi was already drunk…

“Ah!” The Omega cried out again the moment his entrance was breached. He had no idea what to do with himself, squirming where he lay with his mouth open and panting. All that he knew was that he didn’t want Levi to stop what he was doing. In fact, Eren wanted the Alpha to reach deeper inside of him, but there was no way just a tongue could. Not like Levi’s cock. But thinking of the Alpha fucking him just made him moan even louder, rocking his hips slightly against the slide of Levi’s tongue.

Levi’s hands gripped at Eren as he thrust his tongue as far as possible inside him, withdrew and did it again, the lewd sounds of his appreciation colouring the humid space while his lover writhed and cried out wantonly. Eren was hardly coherent, but it didn’t matter because Levi didn’t need words to know just what he was doing to the Omega. Eren tasted so exquisite and Levi was parched.

Eren was drooling, whining at the stimulation and the build-up of pleasure. The wetness of Levi’s tongue was something he’d never experienced in his entire life and the Omega was fast approaching the edge of a cliff. Then the Alpha sucked on his twitching hole and Eren cried out as he was thrown over the edge.

The Alpha hummed as he cleaned Eren up with his tongue, maneuvering the now boneless Omega as he liked. Some moments later, he sat up, settling Eren’s legs back around him more comfortably with his own cock still hard between them as he looked down at his spent and beautifully flushed lover with arousal blown and glowing eyes. And he smiled at him, hands adoring as they ghosted over Eren’s body, “You’re so lovely. It’s going to be the longest ten days.”

Eren was panting, eyes still closed as he floated somewhere high in the clouds. “It’s gonna be torture,” he finally sighed, stretching languidly under Levi’s caresses. “You haven’t even seen the dress I have to wear… It’s being stitched onto me. I won’t be able to move at all.”

“Hnn,” Levi looked pensive, considering the information, “Am I to tear it off later then? Is that tradition in the South?” Like a gift for unwrapping…

Eren cracked an eye. “It’s a part of the bedding ceremony…” he said cautiously. He thought Levi knew. “Where… Well, I am hauled off by the Alphas’ of the court, and you the Omegas’… Neither of us will keep our clothes through that…”

Though he knew he hadn’t misunderstood, Levi narrowed his gaze and asked, “You mean to say that Alphas who are not me will be undressing you on our wedding night?” He paused, but not long enough for Eren to actually muster the affirmative, “And you won’t mind that the Omegas will do the same?” Eren was jealous and Levi was possessive, how were they to perform such a tradition without bloodshed?

Eren opened both his eyes fully, cocking his head with a mischievous grin. “My Mother expects it… And I expect you to help me make sure it doesn’t happen. No one but you should be ripping that horrible dress off of me. My Mother will never get a say in my body again.”

Levi’s large, calloused hands settled around Eren’s hips and squeezed as he met the Omega’s gaze with steady devotion, “As you say love. Perhaps it’s time I have some decision in this madness.” He leaned over to press a kiss to the side of Eren’s mouth, promising in a breathy growl, “I’ll make some demands.”

“Good,” Eren said, wrapping his arms around Levi’s neck and dragging the Alpha down against him. “We’ll get through this torment together.”

“I do hope you mean for that starting now.” The Alpha chuckled, pressing his mouth along Eren’s jaw to his throat as the Omega invited him, “I am in desperate need of consoling.”

Eren giggled as he tightened his hold on Levi. “I guess I can stay longer, since my Alpha is so distraught! We have until sunrise after all.”

Levi only growled playfully and put more of his weight on the Omega in response. Sunrise was still a long way off.