I am so sorry that it's been such a long time since I've updated! Due to my hectic schedule, I haven't had the time to sit and truly write Meine Liebe, even though I have my outline thoroughly polished and glistening. I am so happy to know that all of my readers enjoy Meine Liebe, and I will make time to write if it's the last thing I do. Because I feel like such an asshat, I'm giving you this little mini oneshot to tide you over until Thursday, when I will be updating the actual story. I've actually been thinking about writing this as a side oneshot to explore the thoughts and feelings of Erik and other characters toward Anne as they are at the moment in the story. I hope you enjoy this little insight into how Erik feels about her. Again, so sorry for my epic fail as an author! I want to thank Lavinia Black for messaging me and reminding me that there are people still reading Meine Liebe. :) If you all enjoy this oneshot, let me know and I'll be glad to write more from any requested POV. Think of it as a character study of sorts to help with understanding the characters as I have written them.

Erik POV

The sunlight was soft and warm, illuminating her soft skin as she walked mindlessly through the gardens. A halo of light formed around her hair, bringing out the subtle red hidden within her dark locks. She walked barefoot in the grass despite the morning dew on the manicured lawn not being quite dry yet. It was a habit she'd formed since coming to the manor, and it resulted in a ritual for Erik as well. He'd come to the study every morning with his black coffee, drained from yet another fitful state of dreaming, and he'd sit in the leather chair by the window just to watch her. It was a rather foolish habit, he would admit to himself, but it was one he couldn't bring himself to break. He knew her true face whenever they spoke, something few were able to say they'd witnessed; however, there was another side to Anneliese he could only ever witness during these moments in the study.

She was beautiful. He preferred her as she was now, natural and unkempt. Not that he didn't find her lovely with her face immaculately painted and her hair painstakingly curled, but there was perfection in her mussed hair and untouched skin. But it was a sad beauty as well. There were dark circles under her eyes, telltale of her nightmares and dread of sleep. Anneliese didn't smile on her morning walks, and she always looked deep in thought. Erik remembered when they were younger that she missed walking barefoot on the grass, and he wondered if she ever thought about when they were children, unable to play in the grass and be carefree.

In all her beauty, she reminded him of a bird. She was free and wondrous, someone to cherish and protect. Like Erik, she knew of cages and she'd had her wings clipped before. She was owned and handled by unkind hands, the owner cruel and manipulative. Now that she was free of one cage, he feared that she'd been thrust into another. He didn't trust the humans, and while he believed in Charles, their goals were not one in the same. Erik knew coexisting would never happen, and that Charles was too hopeful for his own good. The humans would turn on them, and that would put Anneliese in danger. She would be caged yet again by those lesser than her.

As he watched Anne stand idle in front of a bed of lilies, he knew what he had to do. He would protect the one thing that remained beautiful to him, even if it turned the world against him. But what he didn't realize was that, were he not careful, he would be the one to cage her.