The voyage back home couldn't go fast enough. Crossing the ocean seemed to take an eternity and the horse ride across the lands was hampered by bandits, a sudden tumble off a horse, a burning house, and a mudslide. By the time Blood Pledge Castle came into view, Yuuri was distraught and pissed off at the world for making his trip back home take far longer than usual.
Gunter and Conrart had tried their best to calm Yuuri down, but they had failed miserably. They shouldn't feel too bad about their failure, though, because Yuuri was sure that if anybody else had tried, they would have failed just as bad. The letter Yuuri had received from Gwendal that said that something had happened to Wolfram worried him. No details had been given, only instructions that told him to come home. Yuuri knew that whatever it was that had happened to Wolfram had been bad because only something horrible would have Gwendal ordering Yuuri back home despite the importance of cementing a treaty between Shin Makoku and Dai Shimeron.
Gwendal was waiting on the steps by the time Yuuri's horse had reached the castle. He jumped off his horse and bypassed a proper greeting to get answers from his brother-in-law.
"What happened?" he demanded.
Gwendal's face was blank, revealing nothing. "You said you figured out Wolfram's secret. What did you think it was?"
Yuuri stared at the question. "What?"
"Tell me. It's important."
He didn't understand why the question was so important. "Gwendal, is Wolfram okay?"
Now Yuuri was scared. Rarely did Gwendal refer to Yuuri by his name. The older demon was just like Conrart in that aspect, calling him by name only when they were too worried or too angry to even think of formal titles. "Pregnant. Wolfram is pregnant."
Gwendal closed his eyes briefly. "Wolfram hadn't wanted you to know just yet."
"What does this have to do with anything?" he demanded. "Do not tell me that you ordered me to come back just for that, because if you did—"
"He lost the baby."
Yuuri blinked, tongue forestalled from spilling the rest of what he had been going to say. Had he heard right? "What?" he managed to ask.
There was a twinge of regret in Gwendal's eyes. "He was feeling some abdominal pains last week. A few days later, Gisela said that he had miscarried."
"He lost the baby," Yuuri echoed. He took a step back, putting a hand over his chest. He tried to wrap his head around that but he couldn't. It just seemed impossible that this could have happened to them, to Wolfram.
"Wolfram," he whispered. He looked at Gwendal. "Where's Wolfram?" He heard the hollowness in his own voice and didn't care.
"In your bedroom with Gisela."
He nodded. "I need to be with him right now."
"Wolfram will not want to talk about it."
"I don't care. I just . . . I just need to see him."
Without another word, Yuuri bypassed Gwendal and made his way inside his home. He headed towards their bedroom with no followers, something he was grateful for because he was in no mood to be shadowed by Gwendal, Gunter, or even Conrart. His main concern was Wolfram and nobody was going to stall him from going to his husband. When he reached the door of his room, he opened it slowly and spied Gisela sitting on a chair next to the bed as she murmured too softly for Yuuri to understand her words. Wolfram lay in bed under the covers on his side, back to the door.
Gisela paused and looked up, smiling softly at Yuuri's presence. She stood up and headed towards him. When she was close enough, she whispered, "Can I talk to you before you see him, please?"
Yuuri hesitated. But when Gisela added another 'please,' he said, "All right."
Gisela walked out into the hallway and Yuuri took one more glance into the room before he joined her, closing the door. "Is he okay?" was his first question. "Health-wise, I mean."
She nodded. "Yes. There was a lot of blood but I was able to heal him. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to save the baby."
Yuuri ran his hands down his face. "No trauma to his body?"
"Not that I could tell. I've explained to him that he needs to rest for a couple of days and eat before he could do anything strenuous." She sighed sadly. "But while he has been resting, eating is another matter. I was trying to convince him to eat something before you came but he didn't respond. All he does is lie in bed. He barely talks."
Yuuri clenched and unclenched his fists. "Why did this happen?"
"There is no real explanation." Gisela shook her head. "Sometimes there's never a reason. It just happens." She glanced at the closed door, no doubt thinking of the blond on the other side. "His Majesty needs to eat. He's losing too much weight."
He acknowledged the words with a single nod. "I'll see if I can get him to eat something."
Gisela nodded. "Welcome home, Your Majesty." She glanced at the door again. "I just wished you had arrived home under different circumstances."
"Me, too," he murmured as Gisela walked away. He turned towards the door but took a moment to compose himself. He wasn't sure what he was going to do or say, but what he did know was that Yuuri needed to be with Wolfram.
He entered his bedroom and shut the door behind him. "Wolfram?" he questioned softly as he walked towards the bed.
Wolfram didn't respond. He stood uncertainly by the bed before walking around it. He crouched down so he could look at Wolfram's face and the blank look broke Yuuri's heart.
They stared at each other for several moments before Yuuri whispered, "Why didn't you tell me?"
Wolfram lowered his gaze. "I wanted the moment to be perfect," he whispered back.
"I could have been here for you."
His husband simply shook his head. "I don't want to talk about it."
Yuuri was at a loss of what to do or say. Eventually, he crawled on top of the bed and drew Wolfram into his arms, perching his chin on top of the blond's head. Wolfram didn't lean into his touch but neither did he pull away. Yuuri wondered where they would go from here.
As days passed, Wolfram remained resolute to not talk about the miscarriage. Yuuri has tried many times to open up a discussion about it but his attempts were shut down. He could tell that the blond was slowly withdrawing into depression and it frightened him to see Wolfram lying in bed all day, barely eating, barely moving. He wanted to make things better for Wolfram but he didn't know how, especially when he didn't seem receptive to Yuuri's attempts at comforting him.
Yuuri was out on the terrace leaning over the balcony, the vast scenery of the castle gardens before him, but he couldn't concentrate on the beauty the scenery offered him. In fact, he hasn't been able to concentrate much on anything. All he kept thinking about was the baby he will never get to meet, and the husband who didn't seem to want him around. The blond had told him to go away after Yuuri yet again tried to talk to him about the loss of their baby, and rather than push the issue Yuuri had followed his husband's wishes.
But it wasn't easy staying away. His instincts were screaming at him to go to Wolfram, to take care of him, to hold him and kiss him and make all the bad things go away, but he couldn't do it. Yuuri felt so damn helpless, more helpless than he's ever felt in his life.
What could he do to make this better?
Yuuri didn't move at the sound of Conrart's voice. He could hear the worry and if he turned around, he knew he'd see the worry on his godfather's face, too. But he stayed put. "He kicked me out of the room," he said. He didn't have to say who the 'he' in question was.
Conrart approached until he was leaning against the balcony next to Yuuri. "He still hasn't talked about the miscarriage?"
"As far as he is concerned, he was never pregnant. He pretends that the baby never existed. Whenever I do manage to get him to talk to me, he avoids the subject altogether. He won't even mention the word 'baby.'"
"Perhaps he needs time."
"And I want to give it to him, but he can't just avoid the subject. He can't pretend that we didn't conceive a baby."
"Wolfram is rather good at that, isn't he?" When Yuuri shot him a confused glance, Conrart elaborated. "Pretending. He likes to hide away from the truth when it's possible. It's why he doesn't talk about his birth father. As far as he is concerned, our mother conceived him all on her own. It's better than accepting the fact that his father simply didn't want him."
That was true. Yuuri had only approached the subject once, but Wolfram's answer had been a simple "I don't have a father" and that was the end of that.
Yuuri sighed and rubbed at one of his temples. "I can't stand to see him looking so . . . so broken."
"He isn't the only one who looks broken."
Again, no names were needed. Yuuri knew whom Conrart was referring to. "The day I left to Dai Shimeron, I felt the baby." Yuuri turned to look his godfather. "I felt it. I didn't know it at the time but when I touched Wolfram's stomach, there was something that tugged at me. That's why I was so sure that he was pregnant when I talked to you about it." He looked back out into the gardens, eyes roving over the flowers that were just beginning to bloom. It was such a beautiful day. The sun was out, the skies were clear. A colorful butterfly fluttered by him.
The darkness within him didn't let him enjoy such beauty.
His eyes suddenly blurred. "This is not fair," he muttered. He buried his face in his hands and tried to control himself, but how could he when he felt so miserable, so hollow, so damn mad that his baby died before it had a chance to be born?
Yuuri didn't make a sound as his tears escaped the edges of his eyes, slipping down his cheeks and hitting the rail of the balcony. A hand was placed on his shoulder and Yuuri accepted that small token of comfort, grateful that his godfather didn't try to pacify him or try to make him feel better about the situation. For a few minutes, he just wanted to grieve for his unborn child.
When he managed to pull himself together, he sniffed and placed his hands on the railing, his eyes still wet and a few tears still falling, but he was better composed.
"Your Majesty, I cannot say just how sorry I am for your loss."
"I know," Yuuri croaked. He cleared his throat and used his palms to wipe his eyes. "You don't have to say anything, Conrad." He turned to his godfather and gave him a small albeit shaky smile. "I just needed to cry a little."
There was understanding in Conrart's eyes. "Gwendal is coming to grips with the situation himself."
Yuuri nodded. He had been told that Gwendal hadn't left Wolfram's side throughout the whole ordeal, from the moment Wolfram began feeling the pains to the moment Wolfram had learned that he lost the baby.
Conrart added, "Gwendal is grieving in his own way. His collection of stuffed animals has doubled over the past few days." Conrart looked out towards the castle gardens. A light breeze slightly ruffled his brown hair. "During our trip to Dai Shimeron, Gwendal had made a few stuffed animals to give to Wolfram for the baby. He still wants to give them to Wolfram but . . ."
"But it'll just remind Wolfram that he doesn't have a baby to give those stuffed animals to." Yuuri sighed and looked up towards the castle windows, seeking out his bedroom window. The curtains were opened but he doubted Wolfram has even left the bed to get close enough to it. Wolfram usually hated being cooped up for long periods of time. Yuuri could remember the few times Wolfram became sick and always complained about staying in bed all day for a "tiny little fever." Yuuri couldn't say for certain, but he didn't think that a fever that went up to one-hundred and five degrees was tiny, even for a fire-wielding demon.
"You know how I panicked?" Yuuri said. Conrart made a tiny noise of acknowledgement. "I know you and Gunter thought that I was panicking over the fact that Wolfram was a man who was going to give birth in a few months, but that wasn't it. I panicked because I was going to be a father. There was going to be this tiny, little life that I would have to take care of. Every decision I made would somehow affect that little life. It was just so scary, the idea that someone was going to depend on me for everything." He took a deep breath, remembering the fear, the knot of anxiety that he couldn't shake. "When we decided to take a trip into Dai Shimeron's cities, we passed by a couple. The woman was carrying a newborn baby." He smiled briefly, remembering the scene. "They looked so happy, so proud to be parents. I imagined me and Wolfram being like that, and suddenly the panic went away." He looked at Conrart miserably. "I was so excited at the fact that I was going to be a father. I wanted that baby, Conrad. I wanted it."
Conrart nodded. "I know, Your Majesty."
Yuuri wiped away the rest of his tears. "What makes it worse is how Wolfram is pushing me away. I mean, I know this is hard on him, but I just wish that he talked to me. Vent in some way. Yell, cry, hit me, I don't care how, so long as he does something besides sit in bed and stare at the wall." He brought up an image of Wolfram, looking at the world through blank eyes and not making any effort to take care of himself. "He looks so fragile, and I feel like if I don't do something soon, I'm going to lose him." He clenched his hand, clutched it to his chest, right over where his heart beat. "I already lost my baby. I'm not losing my husband, too."
And just like that, he knew what he had to do. It was such a gamble, such a risk, but he knew that if he didn't do something, Wolfram would just continue to withdraw until there was nothing left but an empty shell. Wolfram was so full of life, an inner fire inside of him that made him shine as bright as any star in the sky. Even when Yuuri had denied the possibility of them ever getting married, that inner fire had drawn him towards the blond.
Yuuri refused to let that fire die.
Determination had fueled his courage, but as Yuuri reached their bedroom, his steps faltered and his courage wavered. What if Yuuri was letting his own selfishness and fears cloud his judgment? What if Yuuri made things worse by pushing his husband into dealing with something he wasn't ready to deal with? What if Wolfram simply needed more time?"
What if, what if, what if. So many variables. So many outcomes.
"I love him," he whispered to himself. That he was sure of, and he drew strength and courage from that. He was doing this out of love.
Straightening his shoulders, he entered the bedroom, firmly closing the door behind him. Predictably, Wolfram was in bed, staring at the wall. He looked horrible. His hair was a mess, his skin a pasty white. His body was no longer slender; instead, he was unhealthily skinny, having eaten very little since his miscarriage. He seemed lifeless, ready and willing to give into death if death came for him. Yuuri feared that one day, he would walk into his room and find his husband on the ground with slit wrists, or hanging from a noose of some kind, or splattered on the concrete floor outside after jumping out a window. He didn't want to believe that Wolfram would kill himself, but with how he seemed to allow his body to disintegrate into nothing but skin and bones, wasn't that what Wolfram was doing? Yuuri was just afraid that Wolfram would get tired of waiting for death to get him and decide to speed up the process and go to it instead.
Yuuri approached the bed and sat down. Only then did Wolfram turn to look at him. "I told you to leave me alone."
Even the words were lifeless, hollow. "I can't."
Wolfram stared at him. "Yuuri, go away."
It was a precarious situation, and Yuuri bravely shook his head. "I love you. You know that." He looked Wolfram over. "I will not let you do this to yourself any longer."
"I don't want to talk."
"We need to."
Wolfram's hands slowly clenched. "No, we don't. There is nothing to talk about."
"Of course there is," Yuuri said. He wanted to reach out, to touch, but he knew Wolfram would just reject it. "There is a lot we have to talk about."
His husband bowed his head. Hiding. "Why don't you just leave me alone?"
"I've been doing that for the past several days. I don't want you to kill yourself."
Wolfram's head snapped up. There! Yuuri could see a spark in his green eyes. A spark of anger? Disbelief? His words answered Yuuri's silent question. "What makes you think I am going to kill myself?" The words held a combination of anger and disbelief.
Yuuri was glad to see that spark. It was a start. "What do you call starving yourself, making no effort to make sure your body has food?"
"Damn you," Wolfram hissed. The spark grew. "That doesn't mean I'm killing myself. Just because I'm not eating three meals a day—"
"A day? Try a week! How many meals have you eaten in the past week? I can count on one hand how many meals you've eaten."
"Get out." Wolfram climbed out of bed and glared at Yuuri. "Get out."
The king didn't budge. "No. You're starving yourself to death and you may not care right now but I do! I am not going to allow you to sit here and wither away right before my eyes." He took in the way Wolfram shook in outrage, and while the emotion was more than Wolfram has shown in days, Wolfram was getting angry about the wrong thing. "We just lost our baby, Wolfram."
The blond flinched and turned away. "Shut up."
Yuuri stood up. "We have to face it."
"It doesn't matter anymore. Stop talking," Wolfram tried to order, but his words were shaky. His whole body began to shake. The walls were cracking. Wolfram backed up and Yuuri could see the way Wolfram was trying to fix the cracks that Yuuri had chipped into the invisible walls surrounding him. Yuuri was determined to break them down, so he got up and followed Wolfram. The blond must have realized what Yuuri was doing because he backed up further, but Yuuri simply stalked him, like a panther.
"Stop it, go away," Wolfram growled.
"We're never going to meet that child."
"It's gone. Forever."
"What part of shut up do you not understand?"
"Why did it die? Did we not deserve to be parents? Is that it?" Gisela had said that many miscarriages simply happened with no explanation, but Yuuri couldn't help but wonder if the miscarriage was nature's way of telling them that parenthood wasn't meant for them.
From the way Wolfram reacted to the question, he had had the same thoughts, because his eyes suddenly began to fill with tears. Tears of rage? Tears of sorrow? "Why are you doing this?" Wolfram finally backed up into a wall and he looked at Yuuri as though he were a monster.
"I feel numb inside, is that how you feel?" Wolfram whimpered, the sound heartbreaking. Yuuri's swallowed, his throat suddenly thick, tight, burning with emotion. Seeing Wolfram like that, Yuuri felt like a monster. "Why did the baby die?" Yuuri asked again. He stopped just a few feet away from his husband. "It shouldn't have happened, but it did. It happened to us."
Wolfram closed his eyes. "You bastard," he whispered. "Why can't you just shut up?"
"I wanted the baby, Wolfram. I wanted it so much, you can't even imagine how I feel."
And that was apparently the last straw because Wolfram suddenly froze and looked at him incredulously. Then he launched himself at Yuuri, pushing him with all his strength. It wasn't strong enough to knock him too far back, but it was enough to make him stumble. Wolfram was furious, his tears now were falling, his eyes filled with outrage, despair, pain. So much pain.
"Can't imagine?" Wolfram pushed him again. "Can't imagine? I was pregnant, Yuuri. It was inside me." Another push. "I knew for weeks that I was pregnant! Weeks. You only knew about it for a fraction of that time!"
"And that means that I don't give a damn?" Yuuri placed his hand over his heart. He kept his voice soft. "That was my baby too, Wolfram. I loved it the moment I realized that you were carrying it."
"Not as much as me!" Wolfram yelled. "You can never love the baby as much as I had. I felt it grow inside me, I felt like I knew the baby, that it was a part of me, and now there's nothing in there. There's nothing. A part of me just died and I'm never going to get that part back." Wolfram's breathing grew harsh, tears falling faster than Wolfram could wipe them away. "I'm never going to hold my baby. Never!" Wolfram shrieked and he hugged his shaking body, falling apart, unable to stop. "How can you stand there and say I can't imagine how you feel when you can never know just how much this hurts me?"
Yuuri took a step forward, wanting to hold him, but Wolfram just lashed out, slapping his outstretched hand. "You'll never get it Yuuri," he said, voice raw with emotion. "You'll never get how it felt to just lay on a bed and feel that pain as your baby died inside of you. I had to lie in bed for days as it happened . . ." He cried in earnest now, but he continued to talk, continued to let everything out. "It's my fault, it's all my fault."
"What?" Yuuri shook his head furiously. By this time, his own eyes and cheeks were no longer dry. The loss was painful, and there were no answers or explanations as to why it happened, but one thing Yuuri did know was that Wolfram was not the blame for any of it. "No, this is not your fault."
"Yes it is," Wolfram choked out. His words were getting harder to say, Yuuri could tell. "It's all my fault! I was supposed to make sure the baby grew, that I gave birth to it and I didn't. I didn't. This is all my fault!"
Wolfram fell to his knees, fists on the ground, hitting the floor. "It hurts," he cried. "I want it to stop hurting and it won't stop hurting and I keep asking why this happened! Why? Why? Why?"
The last word was screamed out so loud, filled with the raw agony that Wolfram was feeling, the sheer heartache at the loss, and Yuuri knew then and there that his own pain was nothing when compared Wolfram's pain.
Yuuri went to him, falling to his knees, gathering the blond to his chest. As expected, Wolfram jerked away, rejecting his touch, trying to escape him, escape the anguish, the heartache, the world, but Yuuri didn't let go—not this time—and eventually Wolfram collapsed against him, sobbing, screaming, hurting.
"I wanted the baby so bad," Wolfram cried into his chest. "I wanted it!"
"I know," Yuuri whispered. He closed his eyes and placed his cheek on top of Wolfram's soft hair, soothing him with his hands, his murmurs. "I know," he repeated again.
Wolfram continued to cry for a long time afterwards.
Night had fallen. The room was dark, only a sliver of the moonlight penetrating through the window. The crickets were chirping and on occasion, the howl of a wolf could be heard.
Yuuri sat against the headboard on the bed, legs outstretched. Wolfram lay on the bed curled on his side, but his head rested in Yuuri's lap, allowing him to run his fingers through the blond strands. They hadn't spoken just yet but Yuuri was content to wait. They had a break through earlier, with Wolfram finally releasing all his pent-up anger and grief. Yuuri wasn't going to push for more.
"You were right."
Yuuri's head had been pressed back against the headboard, eyes closed, but now he opened them and looked at his husband. "What?" he asked in response to the blond's words.
Wolfram kept his gaze on Yuuri's stomach, not looking at his face. "About killing myself."
Yuuri's heart skipped a beat. He swallowed. "So you were trying to kill yourself?"
"No, never." Wolfram's voice was thick and rough, evidence of his long crying session. "But to tell you the truth, after losing the baby, I wanted to die. Nothing seemed to matter. Not my brothers, not my body, my health." He paused. "Not even you. I just wanted the pain to go away."
Yuuri continued to run his hands through Wolfram's hair. "I didn't want to push you," Yuuri whispered. "I wanted to give you time to process or grieve or whatever, but you weren't doing anything. I didn't want to lose you. You're the love of my life, Wolfram. How can I possibly stand on the sidelines and do nothing?"
Wolfram didn't answer that. He was quiet for a few moments before he said, "I never thought of having kids."
"No?" Yuuri questioned softly.
Wolfram shook his head, the head rubbing against Yuuri's lap. "I had goals set for my life when I was really young. I was going to be the best soldier in Shin Makoku, follow in the footsteps of Conrart, Big Brother, even Gunter. Marriage was not a part of those plans."
"Then I came," Yuuri murmured.
"Then you came," Wolfram agreed softly. "But even when I married you, children had never entered my mind."
Yuuri chewed over those words. "You're good with children, though."
Whenever Yuuri and Wolfram visited the orphanages in the capital to provide food and presents for the young children, Wolfram always entertained the kids with made-up stories or read to them from the books Wolfram personally brought himself. If the kids wanted to play, Wolfram happily obliged them, even if it meant rolling around on the ground. The blond helped bottle-feed and change the diapers of the babies, feeling far more comfortable around babies than Yuuri was.
"Yes, with other people's children, but I never thought of having my own. I was content with my life. I had everything I wanted." Wolfram paused. "Don't stop."
"Don't stop what?" Yuuri asked, confused.
Realizing that he had stopped caressing Wolfram's hair, Yuuri continued the action. Wolfram sighed and snuggled a little closer, making Yuuri smile. Wolfram looked like a child, his body language clearly expressing his vulnerability, but still feeling safe because Yuuri was there. Yuuri had missed him terribly, had missed holding him, talking to him, touching him. Yuuri didn't plan to let Wolfram go anytime soon.
"Do you really think this wasn't my fault?" Wolfram whispered so quietly, Yuuri barely heard him.
Still, he heard the fear behind the words. "I don't think, I know." Yuuri wished Wolfram would look at him so his husband could see the truth in Yuuri's eyes. "This wasn't your fault. You did everything you were supposed to do."
"Big Brother told me I should rest more—"
"He was being paranoid, just like I would have been if I had been here. But from what Gisela told me, you ate right, when you were tired you rested, you didn't overexert yourself. This was not your fault."
The silence spoke volumes of how little Wolfram believed his words, and as much as Yuuri wished Wolfram would believe him, all he could do was hope that one day Wolfram would look himself in the mirror and see that he was never the blame for the miscarriage.
Silence reigned for several minutes before Yuuri asked, "Wolfram, if you didn't want me to know about the baby, why did you sneak that book into my baggage? You knew that the chapter on male pregnancy would catch my attention."
Wolfram sighed. "You weren't supposed to figure it out on your own. That book was just supposed to give you the idea of male pregnancy, give you time to adjust to it." Wolfram finally shifted his head, looking up at Yuuri. His eyes glowed in the darkness, filled with emotions of several kinds. They weren't as blank as they had been hours earlier. "How did you figure it out anyways?"
"The morning before I left, when I was kissing down your body, I felt something." With his free hand, Yuuri slowly pressed it against Wolfram's stomach. There was nothing there, but his fingers tingled remembering the moment of the past when something had been there.
"You sensed the baby?" At Yuuri's nod, Wolfram said, "I wondered if you did. But I still didn't think you'd connect the dots." Wolfram stopped talking and then began to move. He pushed himself up and sat in Yuuri's lap sideways. Yuuri wrapped his arm around him to give him support. "When I read in your letter that you knew my secret, Big Brother tried to assure me that you didn't know about my pregnancy, but I remember thinking that if you knew, I was going to throttle you for figuring it out."
"Throttle me? Why?"
"Because I had it all figured out how I was going to tell you about the baby."
"Tell me," Yuuri requested softly.
Wolfram shook his head and looked away. "It's stupid."
Yuuri reached out, cupped his chin, and angled Wolfram's head in his direction. "Tell me."
Wolfram's eyes roved over Yuuri's face for a moment before he ducked his head. He muttered, "Private lunch. Just you and me, no one else, out on the terrace. Then we'd walk in the gardens. I would casually bring up the book, ask you what you thought about it. I knew the male pregnancy concept would be the first thing you'd bring up. We would talk about it. Then . . ." Wolfram reached out and grabbed Yuuri's hand, bringing it to his stomach. "I would do this," he whispered, his breath hitching. "I would do this and tell you that I'm pregnant." Quickly, Wolfram buried his face in Yuuri's neck.
There was no sound but Yuuri could feel the wetness of tears against his neck. Yuuri said nothing and waited.
When Wolfram stopped crying, he sniffed and admitted against his neck, "I had two different guesses of how you would react. One would be that you would jump for joy, hug me, swing me around, demand that we tell others, and spend the rest of the day fussing over my belly." Wolfram pulled away from Yuuri's neck and used his arm to wipe his eyes. "My other guess was that you would look at me like I was this brand new creature you had just discovered existed in this world and then faint."
Yuuri made a noise that was almost a chuckle. "Which one did you think would happen?"
"The second one." Wolfram's lips curved slightly and Yuuri couldn't have been happier to see that smile. It was small, barely noticeable, but there. It was the first smile Yuuri has seen in a while and at this point, he would take whatever he was handed.
Yuuri smiled back. "You wouldn't have been wrong." He ran a finger down one satiny cheek. "When I realized what you were keeping from me, I was not at my calmest, I assure you."
Wolfram placed his head on Yuuri's shoulder. "You don't need to assure me, I can just imagine it."
Yuuri cuddled him closer. "I've missed holding you," he whispered.
"Yuuri? Do you think I would have made a good father?"
To say he was surprised by that question would have been an understatement. "Of course. Didn't you hear me when I said you are good with children?"
"And didn't you hear me when I said that I'm good with other people's children?" Wolfram's words were filled with insecurities. "With other people's children, or even with the children in the orphanages, I don't have to deal with them every single hour of every single day. I can leave when they cry, I don't have to punish them when they are bad, and I don't have them depending on me for love or guidance or support. It would have been different with my own child."
"And what makes you think that you wouldn't have been a good father?"
"I don't know. I mean, I was mostly happy and really wanted the baby, but I was scared too. What if I messed up?"
It relieved Yuuri on some level to learn that Wolfram had had the same fears that Yuuri had. "Even if you did, it wouldn't have made you a bad father. I think a lot of parents mess up on occasion, but so long as the child is well cared for and well loved, and that you have your child's best interests at heart, then you are a good parent." Ironic how Yuuri realized the truth in those words after they lost the baby. His parents weren't perfect, but they loved him, had taken care of him, and Yuuri would have done the same for his own child. At the end of the day, there really had been nothing to fear.
He slightly shifted so he could look at Wolfram's face. "You would have loved that baby with all your heart. You would have held him, kissed him, sung lullabies. You would have watched him grow and teach him things that I couldn't. You would have disciplined him for being bad because you know I would have allowed him to get away with murder." When Wolfram allowed his lips curl upward in another tiny smile, Yuuri's heart cheered. Wolfram's smiles always brightened even the darkest of rooms.
"You would have let our child get away with anything," Wolfram said with certainty.
"I don't think I'm wired to discipline anybody. I might have spoiled our baby rotten." Yuuri kissed his forehead. "The same way I spoil you."
"But you like spoiling me," Wolfram pointed out.
"Yes, I do," Yuuri agreed.
Wolfram sighed. "You would have made a wonderful father. I'm sorry I couldn't give you a baby."
"Wolfram . . ." The guilt, the shame, Yuuri just wanted to take all that away from his husband. "You make it sound like we'll never have the chance to be parents again."
"I will most likely not get pregnant again, and if I do, who's to say that I won't miscarry again?"
"And who says that the only way for us to be parents is for you to give birth?" He cupped both of Wolfram's cheeks, making sure Wolfram was looking at him. "We can always adopt."
Wolfram looked surprised by that. "Adopt?"
"Yes. We frequently visit the orphanages. You've seen all the orphans who are just waiting for someone to take them home, to welcome them into a permanent, loving family. They don't need to be our biological children for them to be ours."
"Adopt," Wolfram repeated. He seemed to be contemplating the idea. "I didn't think of that."
Yuuri tapped his nose. "We can go there and find a cute little baby to bring home. Or perhaps we can find a bouncy, giggly toddler. Then there are the older children who would be more than happy to be in our bed while we read them a children's book. Any age, any race, any number. I'll love them just as much as I love you."
Wolfram closed his eyes and pressed his lips together tightly. Yuuri remained silent as Wolfram had an inner struggle not to cry again. He took a shuddering breath and said in a soft voice, "I want that." He opened his eyes, face open and honest. "I want to raise a child with you." He sniffed. "But not yet. I'm still too emotionally distraught to deal with a kid right now."
Yuuri nodded. "I know. Not yet. When we're both ready emotionally and mentally and when we feel like we are ready to be parents one hundred percent, then we'll go about finding a son or daughter to bring home, okay?
Wolfram cupped Yuuri's cheek, ran his thumb across the king's cheekbone. "I love you so much. How did I get so lucky to have someone like you in my life?"
Yuuri covered the blond's hand with his own. "I think I'm the lucky one."
Slowly but surely, Wolfram began to heal. His appetite returned and everyone's worries eased a little more each time Wolfram ate a full meal. Initially, he had taken his meals in his room, not ready to face the rest of the world, but Yuuri eventually coaxed him out to join the others for meals.
Everyone had been wary, unsure of what to do or say, treating him as though he were glass. It was difficult for anyone to treat him any other way when Wolfram held an aura of devastation around him, as though he could shatter at any moment. They soon realized, though, that while Wolfram was grieving, he wasn't broken. It became particularly apparent one day when Wolfram had bypassed a window and saw his men training. Gerard, the same soldier Wolfram had scolded the day he miscarried, was doing the same exact thing Wolfram had told him not to do, and everyone was more than a little relieved to see the blond march right down there and begin to whip Gerard and the others back into shape, accusing them of slacking off. Yuuri hadn't been able to stop smiling as he watched from his office window at the way Wolfram took charge, and that had been Wolfram's turning point. His stubborn, fiery personality had been reignited.
Wolfram and Gwendal had talked about the day he lost the baby, and it brought them closer than ever before. Yet it was clear that even though Wolfram was dealing with the loss and was slowly accepting it, he was far from being done grieving. Gwendal had finally showed Wolfram the stuffed animals he had made for the baby and he promptly began to cry. Gwendal had held him throughout the ordeal.
It wouldn't be the first time that Wolfram would suddenly succumb to tears without warning. There were times when Wolfram would be training his men, or eating with his family, or even just walking down the hall, and he would think of how he didn't have his baby. That would cause him to break down and Wolfram, usually so cautious about appearing weak in front of others, didn't care who saw him cry. Neither did he resist or withdrew from those who wanted to comfort him as he let out his sorrow, even if that comfort came from a maid.
To help him heal, Wolfram had a shelf built into the wall of their bedroom. He had taken all the stuffed animals Gwendal had knitted and lined them up on it. Wolfram hadn't attempted to guess what they were, knowing that he would have gotten them wrong, but it didn't matter. They were a small reminder of the little baby that he had lost, but who will always be loved. That was all that mattered.
It was exactly four months later when Wolfram was roused from a deep, peaceful sleep by something nipping at the tips of his fingers of the hand very close to his face. He scrunched his eyes shut, not wanting to wake up yet, but the nipping kept going, making his fingers twitch. He groaned and slowly opened his eyes, wondering what had decided to disturb his sleep.
The first thing he saw was a black, small muzzle before a tiny, rough tongue licked his nose. Wolfram jerked back in surprise and blinked several times before he realized that perched on the bed right next to him was a puppy. It was fawn-colored, with a black snout, curled tail, and drooping ears. It barked, indicating that this puppy was definitely not from this world. Dogs of this world made different sounds.
"Do you like him?"
Wolfram lifted his eyes to see his husband kneeling by the bed, arms crossed on top of the covers and chin resting on them. Black eyes watched him mischievously. "What's going on?" he asked as he sat up, the puppy wasting no time before jumping right onto Wolfram's lap and standing up on its hind legs, little paws pressed against his chest as it tried its hardest to lick at Wolfram's face. "Where did it come from?"
"Him. It's a male. And Shori brought him." Yuuri stood up and climbed on the bed, lying down on his side and putting his head on his palm. "My family arrived a few minutes ago."
"They're already here? I thought they were going to arrive later."
"So did I but apparently they couldn't wait any longer. They really wanted to see you, wanted to see how you were doing."
Wolfram gathered the puppy in his arms and the tiny body wriggled with his paws up in the air and the belly just waiting to be scratched. Wolfram obliged the little critter. "So the puppy is a gift or something?"
"Yes, for you." Yuuri reached out and joined Wolfram's hand to scratch the belly. "I asked Shori to bring a puppy for you the last time he and my parents came to visit."
"Why?" Wolfram couldn't help but cuddle the puppy to his chest. He twisted and managed to get a foothold against Wolfram's chest before licking frantically at Wolfram's face. He tried to avoid the tongue but the puppy was determined. The tail wagged just as fast as the licks.
"Because he is going to prepare us for when we really have children." Yuuri grinned. "A puppy needs love and attention, guidance and discipline."
Wolfram gave him a droll look. "A puppy and a child are two very different things."
"Not necessarily. Besides, a dog is a nice addition to our family."
"Hmm." Wolfram eyed the dog. "What kind of breed is it?"
"Puggle. A cross-breed between a pug and a beagle." Wolfram wasn't sure what those breeds were, something Yuuri obviously noticed because he rolled his eyes. "Why did you ask when you don't even know most of the earth breeds?"
"I know some of them!" Wolfram defended himself. "I just don't know those two."
Yuuri laughed as he got up on his knees. "I'll make sure to have a book of earth dog breeds brought to you one day so you can know them all." He deftly took a hold of the puppy, planting him on the bed. "So? Do you like my surprise?"
Wolfram glanced down at the puppy before taking in the loving look Yuuri bestowed upon him. He cupped Yuuri's cheeks. "You are without a doubt the best husband there ever was."
"I'll take that as a yes." Yuuri leaned forward and kissed him deeply. Wolfram wrapped his arms around Yuuri's neck to bring him closer, reclining back against the pillows to have the king's weight fully on top of him.
Yuuri made a strangled noise and pulled away. Wolfram blinked. "What—?"
"Your puppy is on my back."
Wolfram blinked again, peeking over Yuuri's shoulder to find the little dog prancing on the broad back. He couldn't help it. He laughed.
Yuuri smiled softly as Wolfram's laughter rang throughout the room. His laughs have been few and far in between these past few months, and although Wolfram seemed a lot better, there was still just a shadow of sadness behind the hidden depths of his eyes. Every laugh from Wolfram was a cherished sound.
Yuuri carefully swayed his body just enough to encourage the puppy to get off his back. It jumped off and wiggled in between their bodies, making it clear that he was not to be ignored by either of his two new owners.
"Well, what are we to name this little beast?" Yuuri asked as he got off Wolfram.
"I'm not sure. Any ideas?" Wolfram remained on his back, the puppy nuzzling his neck.
"Pochi," Yuuri proclaimed without preamble. He didn't even need to think about it.
Wolfram gaped at him. "Why do you always want to name any animal you see Pochi?"
"Because that's a popular name for pets in Japan." Well, not for all pets. It was a popular name for dogs, but it was a cute name. Yuuri certainly didn't see any problems with it.
"Well, this isn't Japan, and Pochi most certainly isn't fit for a royal dog." Wolfram sniffed in a snobby way and looked down at his puppy. "He shall be named Wilmot."
"Huh?" Wilmot? That was the strangest name Yuuri has ever heard of. "Seriously?"
"Yes, seriously. He's my puppy, I can name him whatever I want."
"Yeah, but . . ." Yuuri gave him a dubious look. "Wilmot?"
Wolfram merely stuck out his tongue. Yuuri growled softly and leaned forward, intending to show Wolfram what he could do with that tongue, but Wilmot promptly got in the way and licked Yuuri's slightly opened mouth. He jerked back at the feel of the tiny tongue and sputtered. Wolfram laughed again.
"Good boy," Wolfram crooned. The dog gave a happy bark at the praise.
Yuuri glared, but his glare went completely ignored as Wolfram began to play with Wilmot, looking just like a little kid. Yuuri wiped at his mouth and sighed, smiling wryly at the scene. He didn't appreciate having a dog's tongue in his mouth and he was still very unsure of having a dog named Wilmot, but he figured that if Wilmot could make Wolfram's eyes sparkle just as brightly as they were doing now, then Yuuri could live with it.
A knock on the door went unnoticed by the blond so Yuuri quietly got off the bed and padded across the room to open it.
Shori stood on the other side, along with his parents, Conrart, Gwendal, and Gunter.
"Did he like the puppy?" Shori asked, looking a little anxious.
Out of Yuuri's entire family, the one who had been most concerned about Wolfram had been Shori. His older brother hadn't approved of Wolfram at first, concerned that Yuuri was being forced into a marriage he hadn't been ready for or had wanted in the first place. Over time, though, Shori had begun to love Wolfram like another brother. When Yuuri had finally decided to reveal to his family about the loss of the baby, Shori had been ready to drop everything to come see Wolfram and do what he could for him.
When Yuuri had taken Shori aside during their last visit to ask him about finding a puppy to give to Wolfram, Shori had been more than happy to do as asked and promised to look for the perfect canine companion for the blond.
Before Yuuri could answer Shori's question, Wolfram laughed again, loud enough for those outside in the hall to hear, followed by a few more barks.
"I guess that answers my question," Shori said with a chuckle, looking relieved.
Yuuri opened the door a little so they could see Wolfram at play with Wilmot.
"Looks like you and Wolfram are going to be just fine, Your Majesty," Conrart commented, looking at the direction of the bed with a small grin.
"I believe so." Yuuri glanced at the shelf where the little stuffed animals were placed. A pang of sadness hit his heart at the reminder of what they had lost but when he looked at Wolfram and their brand new puppy, laughing with so much joy, the sadness in his heart diminished.
Oh yeah, they were going to be just fine.
A/N: This was difficult to write. Getting into Wolfram's head after the miscarriage wasn't easy. I did research on miscarriages, read various personal accounts on how women felt after a miscarriage, but even then it was hard to show that raw emotion. Not sure how I did but if it made your heart twinge just a tiny bit, then I think I did my job right. And yes, I am aware of writing another story with a weepy Wolfram, but in this case, I'm pretty sure all of you can forgive me, considering the reasons behind Wolfram's tears.
I hope this was worth the lack of any published stories in the last few months. Reviews and constructive criticism is highly appreciated!