A/N: Well, here we are. The Epilogue. I have so much I want to say but I'll leave that for the end. For now, let's see how Matthew and Gilbert have been since the trial.
Disclaimer: I do not own Hetalia. The rights all belong to him and I owe him for creating the characters that inspired this story.
~6 Years Later~
I sit in the passenger seat of Bear's car. As we drive, I think back on all the things that have happened in the last six years. Gil and I graduated high school a year and a half after the court case was closed, since we'd been juniors when it had happened. He gave me the surprise of my life when, after they were all done handing out diplomas, he'd gone up and Principal Winters had handed him the microphone. Gil had turned towards where I was sitting with the rest of our graduating class.
He'd grinned and said, "Matthew Williams Bonnafoy-Kirkland. You are the light of my life and the love of my heart. I probably seem like an idiot to most of the people here by doing it like this, but," He'd then taken something out of his pocket and gone down on one knee before continuing, "will you make me the happiest man alive and grant me the honor of calling you my husband?"
It had been quite the shock, but I had, of course, said yes, running up onto the stage to tackle him with a hug and smash our lips together, which led to the entire room erupting into cheers. It may not have been the most romantic way to propose, but in my opinion, it couldn't have been more perfect.
We had stayed together as we went off to college. Both of us had decided to go to a college up in Canada, where I could get a degree in fine arts and Gil was able to get a degree studying music. He got a record deal when we were in our senior year, when an agent had heard him preforming at a local fair. That was almost two years ago, and since then, we've both graduated and moved back to the states, though staying close to the border.
We'd gotten married not long after graduation. It wasn't a huge ordeal; just our families and some close friends had come. We had it in the clearing with the old hallow tree, since it was a place that held so many memories for us.
For our honeymoon, I surprised Gil by getting us a trip to Germany. He'd been ecstatic at the thought of getting to show me around his homeland. The first place he'd taken me was to see his parent graves. We brought red lilies and blue cornflowers to leave since Gil told me that they'd been his mother's favorites. He talked to their graves like their spirits were still there, introducing me to them and telling them about our wedding. The last thing he'd said to them was, "I know that you guys are looking down on me and Ludwig from heaven, you and old man Fritz, and…well, I hope I've made you guys proud."
A breeze had gone through the graveyard then. It had ruffled Gilbert's hair, and it was as if his parents were there with us saying, "We'll always be proud." It brought a smile to Gil's face.
After our honeymoon, we'd returned to America and settled into a nice place just outside of New York City, since Gil has to go into the city to be able to work on his CD. I work as a freelance artist, with a good job working at a café Antonio and Lovino had opened up, which they named "Il Pomodoro Rosso Scarlatto" which apparently means the scarlet tomato in Italian. Antonio had gotten to choose the name so long as it was in Italian.
We're not very rich, but were not poor. Either way, we're happy knowing that we have each other. Today, though, our little family will hopefully be getting a little bigger. For a while, Gilbert and I have talked about the possibility of adopting a child together. We'd thought about having one through a surrogate mother, but we eventually decided that we want to adopt instead, as we both know how it feels to lose our parents, and we want to be able to give a child who's been left without parents or any family to take them in another chance at having a family.
We applied for approval not too long ago so that the agency could look over our credentials, making sure that we were good people who would care for the child, and that we have a stable income to be able to provide for them financially. We spent the last month cleaning out our storage room and getting a bed and clothes. We don't know if we're going to adopt a boy or a girl, so we stuck to mostly gender neutral stuff. Yesterday, we finally got our letter of approval, saying that we can adopt a kid, so we're on our way to the orphanage now.
I'm a bit nervous- okay, scratch that. I'm a lot nervous. What if the little kid doesn't like me or I'm a bad parent? There's just so much that could go wrong.
Gilbert seems to sense my inner turmoil, for he uses one hand to hold mine and tells me, "Hey, relax, Birdie. Everything's going to be fine, I promise."
"I know, Bear. I just can't help it," I reply, sighing, though I do take some comfort in the hand holding mine.
He smiles and stops the car, leaning over to place a kiss on the side of my head and saying, "You are just too adorable. It's going to be okay."
A blush paints my face as I try to change the topic from my so called "adorableness" and ask, "Why did you stop the car?"
"Cause we're here," he answers, getting out of the car after turning it off. Following him, I see that he's right when I find myself looking up at the old building.
"How come these places always seem to be either really old or in some state of neglect?" Bear asks. I just shrug my shoulders in response and follow him up the stairs to the entrance.
Upon entering, we find a young woman chatting with a ten year old boy who is sitting on the desk she's at. The girl has mocha colored skin and black hair pulled into two long pony tails with bright red ribbons. She's in a pretty sky blue dress. The boy is in a sort of sailor outfit, complete with a hat.
Gilbert clears his throat, causing both of them to jump a bit in surprise.
"I'm so sorry, sirs. I didn't see you come in. My name is Michelle, and this is Peter. May I ask you names?" the girl asks, turning to face us.
"I'm Gilbert Beilschmidt. This is my husband, Matthew," Gil responds. I give a small wave and a smile.
Michelle gives me a bright, warm smile of her own in return. "I remember you now. You called last night about coming to adopt a child. I take it you have paperwork that says you've been approved and everything?"
Gil nods and hands her the envelope of the documents that we'd received via email this morning. Michelle takes the envelope from him and turns to the boy, Peter.
'Peter, can you go take them to the playroom? I think that all the kids should be in there."
The boy nods and hops off the desk, motioning for us to follow him.
"I'm Peter, like Chelle said. I help out here when my parents come and volunteer," he tells us.
"Oh, really? So you don't live here?" I ask, having assumed that he was one of the orphans.
He shakes his head, answering, "Not anymore. I used to, but I got adopted by Mama and Papa about six years ago. They're police officers, but they volunteer here a lot. Mama reads stories and plays with the younger kids, while Papa helps do repairs to the building if it needs any, since he's really good at making things and stuff. He even made the desk that Chelle was at since the old one was really wobbly and bad."
Peter rattles on about how his parents sometimes help with the cooking on special occasions since they can both cook really well. He leads us down several hallways until we eventually reach a large room full of children running around and playing. One wall is mostly windows and has a large set of French doors that open onto an extensive yard, where more children can be seen running around. Peter skips over to the corner of the room, where a man in his mid-thirties is reading a story to some kids.
"Mama, there are some people here who wanna adopt someone," Peter says, once the man finishes the story and the children who'd been listening have run off to play elsewhere.
The man looks up, and I find myself gasping as I see a face that I haven't seen in years. Lilac eyes look up at me from a kind face, topped with pale blonde hair. Though it's been nearly sixteen years since I last saw it, there is no mistaking that kind almost motherly smile. Said smile turns to a look of shock when the man sees me and he drops the book he's holding into his lap.
"Matthew? Is that really you?" Tino asks in disbelief. I nod and he stands, stepping forward to embrace me.
"Oh, my, look how much you've grown," he says, beaming up at me. "I can't believe that it's you! Oh, but you probably don't remember me. You were only six when we met, after all."
"Of course I remember you, Tino," I reply. "I could never forget you and Berwald. How is Berwald, anyway? And, if you don't mind my asking, of course, why does Peter call you Mama?"
"Berwald's wonderful. We got married about eight years ago, I think it was. We adopted Peter two years later. Berwald's actually in the other room, fixing a broken chair. The Mama thing... well, that's a long story," he answers, laughing a bit.
Gilbert, who, up until now, had been looking on at us with confusion, cuts in, "Hold up. He's Tino? As in, the one you told me about in your letter?"
I nod. My suicide letter from all those years ago is something that Gilbert and I rarely talk about, if ever. It was burned in the fireplace the night that the court case was closed. Tino takes a step back and looks at Gilbert before turning back to me and asking, "And who might this handsome young man be?"
"Forgive me! I haven't introduced you two yet. Tino, this is my husband, Gilbert. We met back in high school. He helped me through a really hard time."
"No need to tell me. Our friends, Matthias and Lukas, told us all about it," Tino says.
"I remember those two. Lukas was my doctor, and Matthias was the hyper cop, wasn't he?" Gilbert asks.
"Yeah, that's them. They told us about what happened. Berwald and I wanted to go to the trial, but we'd just adopted Peter, and he was only four, so we just couldn't make it. I'm so happy that your awful cousin got what was coming to him," Tino says.
"We all are," Gilbert says, wrapping a protective arm around my waist and hugging me a bit. Even after six years, he still gets protective of me at the mere mention of my cousin and what he had caused.
Just then, a door on the opposite side of the room from where we'd entered opens, and two men enter the room. One is very tall with a strong build, short blonde hair, glasses, and sea green eyes. He still has that expression on his face that looks like he's constantly scowling, but he smiles when a little girl runs up to him wanting got be picked up, a wish he quickly grants, lifting her up with ease. The man besides him looks to be around Tino's height with even paler blonde hair and indigo eyes. He also has a puffin on his head, which is odd, and for some unfathomable reason, he reminds me of the doctor from when Gil was shot.
"Berwald! Emil! Come over here! There's a couple here that you need to meet," Tino calls to them. The two men come closer, and Berwald looks at me with an unreadable expression on his face.
"This is Matthew and Gilbert," Tino introduces, causing Berwald's eyes to widen barely.
"Matthew Williams?" he questions, though it's nearly impossible to tell through his thick Swedish accent.
"It's Beilschmidt now, actually, but yes. It's good to see you again, Berwald," I reply with a smile.
Berwald smiles back and places a hand on my shoulder. He's a good foot taller than me.
"I heard about what happened."
"I know, but it's all better now. I have Gil by my side to help me, and that man won't ever bother me again," I say.
The other gentleman clears his throat, and I exclaim, "Where are my manners? My name is Matthew, and this is my husband, Gilbert. We wanted to adopt a child, and we finally got our approval yesterday."
The shorter male nods and says, "My name is Emil Steilsson. I, for all intents and purposes, run the orphanage."
"You've met Emil's brother before. His name is Lukas Køhlar," Tino tells us.
"I thought you seemed familiar. Your brother was my doctor," Gilbert says.
Emily just nods and continues, "I know. Now, do you have any idea what age child you want to adopt? Or whether you want a boy or a girl?"
Gil and I look at each other. Bear turns back to him and tells him, "Not really. We just want to be able to give a kid a good home after losing their own."
The little girl in Berwald's arms speaks up, "They should adopt Lia."
All five of us look at her in surprise.
"Why do you say that, Sophia? Don't you want to get adopted?" Tino asks her.
"Of course I do, but Lia is always so sad, cause the bigger kids say no body is gonna adopt her cause she has funny hair, even though it's really pretty. I want her to be happy, and I thought that they wouldn't mind her hair, cause the tall man's hair is just like hers. So please misters, adopt my friend," she says, looking at Gilbert and I with pleading eyes. All five of us stare at her, amazed that a little girl of no more than four or five would beg for her friend to be adopted rather than herself.
Bear takes a step towards her. "Well, where is your friend, little one?"
Sophia wiggles in Berwald's arms until he sets her down. She grabs Gilbert's hand and leads him outside. I follow as well. She leads us towards the trees that are scattered around the edge of the field. There's a swing on one of the trees, and a little girl who looks about five years old sits upon it. She has a sketch pad on her lap, focusing intently on her drawing, and doesn't notice us approaching. She's in a simple white dress that's much too big for her thin frame. One shoulder is hanging down, revealing a mark on her shoulder that looks similar to the eagle on the Prussian flag that Gil has hanging in our bedroom. He has long white hair that goes past her waist and very pale skin.
Sophia stops a little ways away and points to her, tugging Gilbert down to whisper, "That's her. She's really sad cause her mommy and daddy died in a car crash. I really want her to be happy."
Gilbert nods and asks softly, "You said her name was Lia, right?"
Sophia nods in response before running back into the building. I can see Berwald, Tino, and Emil watching with her from the doors. Looking back at Gil, I see him slowly approach Lia. Staying just behind, I follow him. When he's close enough, he kneels down in front of her.
"Hey, your friend told me that your name is Lia. Is that true?"
The little girl jumps a bit, and her head shoots up so that she can stare at Gilbert with wide eyes. We can see now that her eyes are a pale lavender color, similar to my own. She looks a bit scared as she nods her head to answer Gil's question, her eyes switching back and forth between his eyes and his hair.
Bear smiles warmly. "That's a very pretty name. Mine's Gilbert, and that's Matthew,' he tells her, gesturing to me.
I do my best to give her a warm smile as I sit on my knees next to Bear. She takes a moment to look at me with the same shock that she did Gilbert. When she remains silent, I tell her gently, "It's nice to meet you, Lia."
She just nods, and I glance towards Gilbert. In that moment that we make eye contact, I can tell that he's thinking the same thing as me. This little girl in front of us is the one that we want to adopt.
We turn back to Lia, and I say, "Lia…Gilbert and I would like it very much if you became a part of our family as our daughter."
Her eyes widen even more, if that's possible, and she looks back and forth between me and Gilbert for a moment before asking, "R-really?"
Gil and I both nod our heads, and he says, "We would like to be your Papa and Vatti."
"What's a Vatti?" she asks.
Chuckling a bit, Bear replies, "Vatti means Daddy in German. I would like to be able to be your Vatti. So, what do you say? Do you want to come home with us, Lia?"
Tears fill her eyes as she nods her head furiously. Out of some unknown instinct within me, I hold out my arms to hug her, and she practically launches into my arms, crying her little eyes out into my chest. Gil picks up her sketchbook, which had fallen out of her lap, closing it and setting it down gently before wrapping his arms around both of us.
He strokes her hair and speaks to her in a calming voice. "Shhh, don't cry. You're gonna be happy with me and Mattie from now on, so no more crying. You're too awesome for silly tears."
She nods, and, after a bit, is able to stop her tears, wiping them away. "Okay, V-vatti. D-did I say it right?" she asks.
Gilbert beans and says, "Yes, you said it awesomely. Now come on. Let's get your stuff and leave."
I stand, picking up the sketchpad and handing it back to her. She holds it tightly to her chest, her other hand gripping tightly to mine, as if afraid that I'd disappear if she let go. She, Gilbert, and I head back into the building. Sophia runs up to hug Lia. "Make sure to come and visit us, okay, Lia?"
Lia nods. "Of course."
Emil leads Gilbert away so that he can fill out the paperwork to officially adopt Lia. I crouch down so that I'm on eye level with her and say, "Where's your room? We've gotta pack up all your things so that they can come home with us."
She nods and leads me through the halls to a room lined with six beds. Each bed has a nightstand beside it and a box underneath. She runs to the bed furthest from the door. Dragging out the box, she takes out all her clothes and puts them into a bag that TIno brings in. She also has a few notebooks and drawing pads that she packs. She takes a picture off her nightstand. The image depicts a younger version of her with a happy couple holding her.
"Is that your mom and dad?" I ask.
She nods, telling me, "Yeah, but I know that they're looking down on me from heaven, and that they'd want me to be happy with you and Vatti as my new parents."
I feel my heart fill with warmth at her words. Placing my hands on her shoulders, I turn her to face me. I kneel down and hug her.
"I promise you, Lia. Your Vatti and I are going to do everything in our power to make sure that you are the happiest little girl in all the world," I promise her. She beams up at me, hugging my neck tightly with her little arms. We quickly finish packing up her things and head out. She gets to the door of the room before running back to the bed and grabbing a shabby stuffed wolf that's on it before returning to my side. I smile down at her and we head towards Emil's office.
Gil's signing some papers when we enter. I sign where I need to once he's done. Lia looks up at us, holding her wolf to her chest. The bird on Emil's head flies over to sit on a stand and stares at her.
Emil chuckles and reaches into his desk to pull out a tin. Standing, he moves to kneel down next to Lia and asks her, 'Would you like to feed him a cracker?"
Her eyes go wide and she nods. She takes a cracker from the tin, and, after he shows her how she's supposed to hold it out to the bird, he lets her feed it to him. Gilbert and I are done signing all of the papers, so we watch the transaction with warm smiles.
Once she's done, Emil says, "Well, you're not going to be alone any more, little one. Now, you promise me one thing, okay?"
She nods her head.
"Promise that you will be a good girl, and don't forget all of the people here care about you, even though you're gonna have two wonderful fathers watching over you," he says.
"Of course I won't forget you, Mr. Emil!" she cries.
He smiles and pats her head, giving her a small piece of licorice. She takes it and says, "Thank you, Mr. Emil. You're a really nice man, no matter what the big kids say about you."
Chuckling lightly, he pats her head again, replying, "Well, the big kids are wrong about a lot of things. According to Sophia, they also said that you wouldn't get adopted, and look at how wrong they were. You have two wonderful people who are now your parents."
She beams, nodding her head. Tino, Berwald, Sophia, and Peter appear at the door. Sophia runs forward to give her friend another hug.
"I'll miss you, Lia. Don't forget us, okay?"
"I already told you, Sophia. I won't ever forget you, I promise," Lia tells her, returning the hug.
Peter gives her a hug next and tells her, "See, I told you that you'd get adopted."
Lia nods, "I know. You're always right, Peter."
Peter beams, and Tino steps forward. He takes a red ribbon out of his pocket and wraps it around the neck of her stuffed wolf before giving her a hug.
"You take good care of him, you hear? I won't be able to patch him up when he gets hurt. Make sure to take good care of yourself, too."
She nods and hugs him back, "I will. Thank you for always fixing him for me, Mr. TIno."
"Of course," he replies, kissing her head. Berwald pats her head, simply saying, "Be good."
Smiling, she replies, "I'll be good, I promise. And you're not scary like all the big kids say. You're really nice, and I like you."
Her words bring a smile to his lips as he says, "Thank you. Now go on. Your new papas are waiting for you."
Lia nods and turns, hurrying to me and Gil. Bear picks her up and asks, "You ready to go see your new home?"
She nods again and wraps her arms around his neck. We exit the building and get into the car, waving goodbye as we drive away. The drive home is filled with answering Lia's questions. We tell her about the two cats that we have and Gilbird and Kuma, making sure to ask if she's allergic to any animals. She says that she's not, which is a relief. The more we tell her about them, the more excited she seems to grow. We tell her that we don't have many cloths for her, since we wanted her to be able to come with us to pick out some clothes herself. We also tell her that she'll be able to meet the rest of our families tonight.
Gil and I had invited all of them over for dinner so that they could meet whatever child we decided to adopt. She seems to grow nervous at this news.
"Lia, are you okay, sweetie?" I ask her, sharing a worried glance with Gil at her sudden silence.
"Well…um…what if they don't like me?" she asks me, clutching her stuffed wolf to her chest nervously.
I can't help the small chuckle that escapes my lips. Turning so that I can look at her, I give her a warm smile.
"Don't worry about that, sweetie. They are going to love you just as much as your Vatti and I already do, because now you're a part of our family, and no matter what happens, you always will be," I assure her. She smiles back at my words.
By now, we've reached our home. Gil gets her bag, and I carry her in. I don't want her to get jumped by Gilkatz. He's Gil's cat, and like his namesake and master, is very rambunctious. When Gilbert opens the door he whistles loudly, calling, "We're home!"
Maple shoots out towards us from the living room, being chased by Gilkatz. I sigh and say, "Gilkatz! Stop bullying Maple!"
Gilkatz is a thin cat with white fur, a scar over his eye, and a tattered black and white striped ribbon around his neck. Maple is a smaller cat with poofy, pale blonde fur with a darker color around his neck, a little curly bit of fur on his forehead, and marks that always kinda make it look like he is wearing glasses. Gilkatz stops chasing Maple when I yell at him and hangs his head. He approaches maple, who is hiding behind my legs, slowly. He mews a little sadly and nuzzles against Maple as if asking for forgiveness. Maple nuzzles back, and I smile.
I kneel down and say, "We have someone for you two to meet." Both cats look at me before turning their gazes to Lia.
"This is Lia. She's going to be living with us from now on. Lia, this is Gilkatz and Maple," I introduce. I show her how to hold her hand out so that they can sniff it. They lick it and I smile, setting Lia on her feet. Both cats sniff her and nuzzle against her, making her giggle.
I hear footsteps behind me and see Gil coming from the steps with Kuma following him. He's got a little ball of yellow fluff in his hands. Gil approaches Lia, kneeling down and saying, "Hey, you wanna meet Gilbird?"
Lia nods and Gilbert holds out his hands. Gilbird looks up at her with tiny black eyes, just like he had when I'd first been introduced to him all those years ago. After a moment, he flies out of Gil's hands and lands on Lia's shoulder, rubbing against her cheek. Lia giggles and says, "he tickles."
Kuma pads up and looks at Lia curiously. He then looks at me and says, "Who?"
"Kuma, this is Lia. She's our daughter, now. You cannot bite her, understand?" I tell him.
The bear just turns back to Lia and waddles up to her. He sniffs her and bats at her leg a bit. Lia holds out her hand to him so he can sniff it, just like I'd shown her to do with the cats. Kuma licks it and she pets him, scratching behind his ears. He nuzzles against the hand before giving a sort of yawn and going off to find a place to nap.
Lia looks a little sad at him leaving so suddenly. I place a hand on her shoulder.
"Don't worry. He likes you. He's just lazy and does stuff like that."
"Yup, so don't worry about it. He likes you a lot," I assure her. She begins to clap happily. Gilbert suddenly picks her up and twirls her around, making her shriek with laughter.
"Do you want to see your bedroom, sonnenschein?" Gilbert asks her.
She looks at him with confusion. "What's that mean?"
Gilbert chuckles, "Sonnenschein means sunshine in German. If you would like, I can teach you how to speak German. Also, Your Papa and I both know French, so we could teach you that, too, if you want. Would you like that?" he explains.
"Yes!" She answers excitedly.
"Well, we can do that later. For now, do you want to see your new room?"
She nods, and the three of us head upstairs and down the hall. The room that we set up for her is at the opposite end of the hall from our own. It's a nice room with a single bed, a dresser, a nightstand, and a desk. There is also a decent sized closet and a large window on the opposite wall from the door. We'd left the walls white so that whoever we adopted could choose what color they want.
Lia looks around in wonder as Gil sets her down. After a moment, she turns around and hugs Gil's legs tightly. He kneels down and she quickly moves to hug his neck.
"How do you say thank you?" she asks.
"In German, thank you is 'Danke', and in French, it's 'Merci'."
She nods and says, "Danke, Vatti." She then releases Gil and approaches me. I kneel down, and she hugs me tightly, saying, "Marci, Papa. Thank you both for adopting me."
I smile and return her hug, and Gil wraps his arms around us both.
"You shouldn't be thanking us, sonnenschein. It's us who should be thanking you. We didn't know who we were going to adopt, but then your friend Sophia showed us to you. When we first saw you, you looked like a lost little ray of sunshine with nothing to shine on. We knew immediately that we wanted to bring you home and make you a part of our family. We wanted you to be our little girl and no one else's. So thank you for agree to be a part of our little family, for being our little ray of sunshine. We promise that we will always love you, no matter what, Lia." I tell her, placing a kiss on the top of her head. Gilbert copies the action, placing a kiss of his own on her forehead.
It's not that all my fear of being a bad parent, of the trails we will no doubt face in the future, vanish, because we will face them together, as a family. In this moment, I can feel more love in my heart, for Lia and for Gilbert, than I've ever felt before. I just know that no matter what happens, with our families later tonight, or any problem that may arise later on down the road, that everything is going to be okay, because we will face it together.
A/N: Wow…It's finally done. Honestly, when I started this fan fiction a year and a half ago, I never thought that it would become what it is today. It has helped many people and has made many of your cry and laugh and I hope that you all have enjoyed every minute of it as much as I enjoyed writing it. This has been a journey to express myself and to stretch my own limits, to know what I was truly capable of as a writer, and all of you, my faithful readers, weither you've been with me from the very beginning, or stumbled on it half way through or near the end, and even those who have yet to read it, I want to thank you for giving me the encouragement and a reason to continue on with this story and to not let it just end. You are all the reason that this story now has and ending and I want to thank every single one of you and I hope to find that all of you will buy a copy of it when I rewrite it and publish it as an official book. The characters will be different but the story shall, for the most part, stay the same.
I look forward to hearing from you all in future stories, but first, one last time, a word from my amazing Beta Sakura414:
Thank you all for supporting this story! I know it really means a lot to Wolf-chan. It's been a pleasure working on this story, and I'm glad I got to put my grammar-nazi-like tendencies to use! Thanks again, everyone! Arrivaderci!
Now, at last, I bid you all farewell and remember, My pm inbox is always open to someone who wants to talk, about anything. I look forward to hearing from you.
Until the next story.
Wolf-chan out, one last time.