Chapter 1: The Meadow
I do not own SnK/AoT or any of its characters. This story is non-profit and for entertainment purposes only. Duh.
Hope you like it!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
A heavy breeze washed over the meadow, ruffling the head of chestnut hair that rested atop it. The pollen it kicked up tickled at his sensitive nose, causing him to awaken with a sudden sneeze. Bright emerald eyes blinked open to be greeted by a twilight sky, the rich oranges and purples seeping into the scarce cover of clouds.
He sat up abruptly, a stray leaf fragment falling from his matted hair and delicately floating down to the grass. Laying in the warmth of the sun was one of his favourite pastimes, but too often did he end up falling asleep. Eren would likely be scolded for it by his mother for it, and anyone else who cared to voice their opinion.
Eren fluttered his wings to work out any kinks that may have formed during his sleep. The sheer appendages were decorated with an intricate pattern of vibrant viridian green and weathered gold, the shape similar to that of a butterfly.
Everything seemed to be in working order. The brunet got to his feet, kicking off the ground as he took flight. It would be best that his mother wasn’t told the location of his nap, she was wary of the ground and the dangers it held. Eren, however, found it too tempting to resist. It was very different to place they lived, filled with previously unseen beauties that he longed to discover.
Eren’s wings flapped with urgency, it would not bode well if he returned after last light.
Soon he passed over the cascading waterfall that marked the edge of their territory. Eren approached a large tree trunk, creating a small gust of wind as he propelled himself upwards. Ascending over a branch, the brunet landed gracefully on the mossy bark and quietly approached the opening to his home. He and his mother lived in a small hollow in the trunk, nothing overly extravagant, but it protected them from the elements. Carving away at the wood was a long and strenuous task, so forest fairies generally only made it large enough to sleep in and built other structures atop the branches. Peeking inside, Eren watched his mother buzz around with a small feather in her hand.
When Carla was stressed, she took to dusting. Her wings were much duller than Eren’s, but still lovely. The colour of faded bronze, their most remarkable feature would be the more golden highlights of her spiralling pattern. They were smaller, also.
Eren wasn’t sure why his wings were so bold in comparison. As they recently found out, Eren shared the same dynamic as his mother. Omegas usually had more radiant colours and detailed patterns, so it was odd that hers were rather plain. There was elegance in it, though. A simple beauty.
Carla smelt her son’s presence and she turned to him with a weary smile. “Oh, Eren. I was so worried, you know it’s not safe to stay out this late.”
“I’m sorry, mom,” Eren said, lowering his head in apology.
“I hope you weren’t on the ground again.” Her brown eyes scanned over Eren’s body, letting out a quite gasp as she spotted a slither of green caught in his hair. Carla flapped her wings and zipped over in an instant, plucking out the grass fragment and holding it in front of her son’s face. “You were!”
“I know.” Eren blinked several times, forcing away the tears that were starting to form in his eyes. It felt awful to disappoint his mother, he just couldn’t keep his curiosity at bay. “I haven’t seen anything dangerous down there…”
“Danger doesn’t like to make itself known,” Carla reminded him. She had tried her best to deter him from visiting the ground, but the boy never listened. There are many stories that tell of what lives down there, terrifying tales of ferocious monsters that lurk in the shadows. It was even more worrisome now that Eren had presented as an omega. While she did not want to impose stereotypes on her son, it was a simple fact that their bodies weren’t as strong or fast. “There are predators on the ground, Eren. That’s why we live up in the trees. Just think of that poor lady that was eaten by a cat recently, how could I carry on if one of those horrible beasts took you away?”
Turquoise wings drooped in shame. It would’ve been effortless for a cat to snatch him up while he was sleeping out in the open. Ground beasts weren’t common in the area, a reason why the colony lived there to begin with, but they were evidently present. Eren worried his lip as he stared down at weaved flax mat that lined their hollow.
Carla let out a huff of air. She did not enjoy scolding her precious son, but the mother fairy didn’t know what else she could do to keep him safe. “And so late, too! Aren’t I always telling you to keep track of the light?”
Eren sniffled, nodding his head in agreement. Fairies had excellent senses of hearing and smell, but their vision was of standard quality. In the dark, it is difficult to see and easy to get lost. It also prevented the detection of flying predators that silently cut through the air, owls were the greatest concern. They can sneak up in the cover of night, grabbing an unsuspecting fairy straight out of the air without warning. It was much safer within their territory, the dense canopy of trees either preventing birds from entering or made them audible as they brushed past the foliage.
“Be sure to remember,” Carla said, the boy’s silence was taken as recognition of his mistakes. Raising Eren on her own had not been easy, his antics and carelessness always kept Carla on her toes. The remorse in Eren’s watery teal eyes seemed sincere, and she had no reason to doubt it. “I’m not angry at you, Eren, only concerned. You must be more careful while exploring. Now, then… why don’t you go see your friends? Armin came looking for you while you were gone.”
Eren perked up at that, wings twitching with excitement. Armin was born in the same Spring as him, they had grown up together and were now traveling into maturity together. Eren gave his mother a happy trill, expressing his thanks and intent to return shortly.
Hurrying out of the hollow, he took to the air and begun the short flight to Armin’s home tree. It was darker now, especially in the shade of the forest, but the lanterns dangling from the branches allowed him to see. They were convenient light sources and looked quite aesthetic hanging between the leaves. The lanterns were usually made with glowing insects, but some of the older fairies were able to illuminate them with magic.
As he swerved between the trees, Eren spotted many fairies returning to their hollows or resting on the branches. They had a particularly large population, mostly because outsiders seek safety within the forest and ask to join their colony. Their commander, Erwin, was very generous and regularly welcomed newcomers. Erwin was an alpha, as most leaders are. He had a natural talent for planning and leadership, and he deeply inspired all the other fairies.
Betas were much more common than the other two dynamics, which was the case in all fairy colonies. If you care for analogies, they were similar to worker bees in a hive. The number of alphas and omegas was relatively even, which was fortunate, although it did seem that more fairies were presenting as omegas this year. Two of Eren’s friends presented as omegas this season, Armin and Marco, and then it was discovered that he was one also. In terms of proportions, they generally had six or seven maturing fairies each year, and only one or two of those would become either an omega or an alpha. Having three this year was certainly strange. It was labelled as a blessing of luck from the forest.
Eren caught the familiar scent of his best friend’s home tree, his hair blowing up as he landed on one of the branches. Looking around, he spotted Armin close-by, hovering around in the air as he lit the tree’s lanterns. As an omega, Armin also had beautifully ornate wings. They were iridescent, icy blue with pale green details, slenderer than Eren’s own pair. In the light of the setting sun they reflected an almost pink hue and took on some transparency, giving them a glass-like appearance.
Armin’s slightly pointed ear twitched, keen senses picking up on the presence of a visitor. He turned around to greet them, smiling sweetly when he discovered it was Eren. Their personal scents had changed dramatically after presentation, it would take some adjustment before they could become familiar and recognise each other by it. Armin hovered down to the branch, landing gently on his toes in front of the brunet. “Good to see you, Eren. Your mother said you were out late again,” He said, eyes shining with concern.
“Don’t worry, we’ve already talked about it,” Eren replied with a comforting smile. He didn’t need to be told off a second time, especially by his friend. “I heard you came looking for me?”
“I did.” Armin smiled back. The whole colony knew that Eren was fond of exploring and often got into mischief. Armin worried about his friend, but he always came back safety. Pale blue eyes shifted to inspect the freshly hung decorations, giving off a pleasant glow against the leaves. “I was going to ask if you wanted to help me hang the new lanterns.”
Following his gaze, Eren took in the warm lights dangling from the higher branches. Armin was very invested in decorating, as most fairies were, but omegas seemed to particularly enjoy it. It wasn’t an activity that appealed to Eren, but he supposed that he may come to like it as he gets older. Armin’s dynamic traits were more prominent than his own, others likely thought Eren strange for enjoying exploration and adventure. The brunet sighed happily, he was still capable of recognising a job well done. “It’s beautiful, Armin. The pattern looks great, and they’re the perfect height as well.”
“Thank you,” Armin giggled, the sound high and bubbly, while blue wings behind him flapped a few times as he preened over the compliment. Eventually settling down, his tone changed to something more serious. “I have some news as well. I think that, um…” Armin fidgeted nervously, unsure of how he should word it. “I think that Erwin is trying to court me.”
“You mean Erwin-Erwin, as in the Erwin?” Eren was baffled when the blonde nodded in response. Erwin is their leader, not to mention one of their strongest alphas. It was unbelievable, although Eren had to admit that Armin was an incredibly beautiful omega, his fragile glass wings were enough to awe any observer. They would make a very attractive couple. Eren was still cautious, though. “Are you sure, Armin? How do you know?”
The blonde twiddled his thumbs, humming thoughtfully to himself. “I just do, it’s hard to explain... Erwin has been going out of his way to see me more. He stays around just to talk to me, and he’s even brought me a few gifts.” Armin glanced back up to the lanterns, pointing to a sapphire charm that dangled among them, the gem catching the light and glistening brightly. “He gave me that yesterday. It’s so beautiful, I don’t know why else he would give it to me besides courting. There have also been some less valuable items. Petals, honey… things like that.”
“Wow…” Eren gaped up at the deep blue jewel hanging from Armin’s tree. It was beautiful… but precious stone or no, there were still some concerns. “Is that okay? You only presented a few weeks ago. Are you sure you want to court so young?”
“Yes,” Armin replied, voice sure and determined. “I like him a lot, and I feel a strong bond already.”
It wasn’t unusual for fairies to start courting straight after presenting, and Armin had settled into his dynamic fairly fast. Eren was still surprised though, this news had come out of nowhere. He hadn’t even thought about courting himself, let alone his best friend being involved in such activities. However, this wasn’t by any means a bad thing, Erwin was well known for his strength and intelligence, a natural born leader. He was a kind fairy as well, generous and gentle despite his power. Even Eren could tell that he would be an excellent mate, Armin couldn’t have done better. “Then I’m happy for you. I hope it works out,” Eren said.
“Me too.” Armin blushed and looked up at the sparkling charm once more, softly smiling to himself. He was relieved to have his best friend’s approval. It was quite dark now, the last rays of light sinking over the horizon. Blue eyes went back to Eren. “Will you be joining us tomorrow?”
Eren tilted his head, a curious chirp resounding in his throat. “What is tomorrow?”
“A group of omegas are going to collect pollen from the meadow,” Armin explained. It was understandable if the brunet didn’t find these activities interesting, a fairy’s likes and dislikes are determined by more than just their dynamic. He believed that Eren should at least try it, though. “I’ve never done it before, it’ll be good skill to learn.”
Indeed. Flower pollen was very versatile resource, mostly used for medicinal purposes, the healers could do many wonderful things with it. It was also used to colour the tree bark and as a general-use powder. Knowing how to gather it would be very helpful, and Eren enjoyed visiting the meadow. “Sure, I’ll come. What time are we going?”
Armin smiled brightly, he was thrilled that Eren so readily agreed to participate. “We’re going when the sun is highest in the sky, apparently the flowers are more cooperative after a few hours of light.”
“Can I meet you here?” Eren asked. They were likely expected to gather at a specified location, but he would prefer to go with the blonde. The thought of approaching a group of omegas made him nervous. He was supposed to belong with them, be one of them, but Eren didn’t feel that way. Mostly, he was worried that they might tease him for his unconventional hobbies.
“That’s fine. I’ll wait for you and we can go together,” Armin said, knowing what was bothering the brunet. Armin had no difficulties fitting in with the other fairies of their dynamic and he didn’t find them judgemental at all. His friend was worrying over nothing, but Armin was happy to support him until he felt comfortable.
Eren flapped his wings and trilled happily, he really appreciated Armin’s efforts to help him settle into their new world. Bouncing forward, Eren went closer to engulf him in a thankful embrace. The blonde returned with a pleased sound of his own, touching their foreheads together in a friendly gesture. They bid each other farewell, Armin disappearing into his hollow as Eren leaped off the branch and set off home.
Since Armin would be by his side, Eren allowed himself to bubble with excitement for the following day. He didn’t intentionally exclude himself from the other omegas, it was just that he wasn’t sure how to behave. Would they expect him to be like them? Eren hadn’t gotten to know many other omegas, the younger fairies generally spent time with those their own year. That opened the possibility that Eren had been imagining something unrealistic, and the other omegas wouldn’t be the dainty snobs he had envisioned.
Only time would tell.
Eren was unable to stop fretting and spent the majority of the morning helping his mother around the home as a distraction. The chores began with sweeping the entrance to the hollow, doing away with all the dirt and dust. It was taking a long time with the broom, so Eren decided to create a gust with his wings and blow it away instead. After the second lantern was lost to the forest floor, he was assigned to a new task. Weaving was far less entertaining.
As the sun moved higher the young fairy grew more and more anxious. When the chores were completed, Eren found himself obsessing over his appearance.
The unruly chestnut mop on his head was combed into something that just barely passed for tidy, he had run sunflower oil through it to make it more manageable and add some shine. He put on his best clothes. A dark green shirt that his mother had made from preserved clover (supposedly good-luck), a newly crafted pair of black cotton pants, and brown-flax boots that stopped half way up his calves.
It’s true that fairies usually wore brighter colours, but there was method to Eren’s madness. The outfit was topped off with his favourite necklace, a choker of woven grass with gold coloured beads.
Eren’s attention turned to his wings. The delicate appendages were his most striking feature. All omegas had beautiful wings but Eren’s were a particularly unique colour, lost somewhere between ocean-blue and forest-green. Pale or pastel colours were most common, and his were also more opaque than usual. A sparse amount of oil was rubbed over his wings to amplify the colour and give them more sheen. It was important not to use too much, else it could make flying difficult.
He didn’t usually pay his appearance much mind. This was a special occasion. Eren hadn’t been outside his home much since presenting, so this could be interpreted as his official reveal to the rest of the colony. The wings of an omega only became so magnificent during presentation, which is why it was difficult to judge the dynamic of a fairy beforehand. Most of the others hadn’t yet seen the impressive pair he’d ended up with. It’s not that he wanted to make the other omegas jealous, Eren just wanted to make a good first impression and hopefully it would help them accept him.
Finally, Eren put a thin dusting of pollen over the golden structural parts of his wings. The result was a subtle shimmer, as if they were supported by real ore.
Checking his appearance in their pool of water, Eren was pleased to see that his little scheme had worked. The dark clothes he wore made his colours look even brighter, drawing attention to his emerald eyes, necklace and wings.
Eren flew towards his best friend’s tree once again, gliding gracefully through the air and waving at fairies that passed by. They looked impressed. The beads resting against his neck felt cold, but his skin would warm them soon enough. Approaching his destination, Eren was surprised to see two pairs of wings instead of one. The first was Armin, of course, and the other… well, there was no mistaking that large pair of rich blueberry wings, adorned with spirals of shining silver. Erwin was visiting.
Eren touched down on the bark, drawing attention from both sets of pale eyes. “Hey Armin.” He turned to the alpha fairy and bowed his head respectfully. “Commander Erwin, it’s a pleasure to see you today.”
“Wow, Eren!” Armin marvelled, his gaze slowly dragging down the brunet’s figure. “You look incredible…” A quiet gasp left his mouth, the sounds coming close to a whimper. He had just drawn his potential mate’s attention to another omega’s beauty.
Erwin was not by any means oblivious to the situation, mostly due to the self-conscious scent the blonde omega had suddenly put out. “I find you the most radiant, Armin.” He said with a charming smile.
Eren thought the alpha was laying it on a bit thick. Perhaps it had something to do with Armin’s change in smell. It had turned sour, the unpleasant scent reminiscent of an overripe orange. In addition to making Eren’s nose scrunch up, it also stirred a strange feeling in his chest. He received a peculiar look from Erwin, no doubt attempting to tell the other omega that his comment hadn’t meant to offend. Eren smiled back, not offended in the slightest. The alpha was certainly very attractive, but he wasn’t interested.
With his courter’s interest reaffirmed, Armin’s scent returned to its uplifting fruity baseline. “Are you ready to go, Eren?” Armin asked sweetly, as if he hadn’t just imagined using his small fangs to tear his best friend’s wings off. It was wrong, he knew, Eren posed no threat to him. Instincts were most likely responsible, wanting to hold the alpha's recently gained attention. The thought left Armin feeling guilty nonetheless. He should do better to control himself.
“Sure,” Eren replied. The two blondes stepped closer to each other, and he turned around to give the pair some privacy to say their farewells. Several seconds passed before Eren’s ears picked up on a quiet purring. He almost blushed just imagining what they might be doing.
Once the alpha managed to tear himself away, Eren and Armin took to the air with a flutter of wings. They were to meet the group in the meadow. The journey took longer than usual due to the lack of wind, forcing them to work harder as they couldn’t catch a current.
Being forced to fly at a low altitude didn’t bother Eren, it meant that he could get a closer look at the world outside their forest. Teal eyes lit up with wonder as they passed over a trickling stream, the crystal-clear water filled with jumping insects and interesting types of plants. Eren hadn’t seen it before, they must be going to a different meadow than the one he frequents.
The landscape eventually changed into fields of glossy green grass, speckled with dots of white and yellow. Eren begun to feel nervous again as he realised they were getting close, but the refreshing dampness in the air and Armin’s presence calmed him. Both sets of ears pricked up at the sound of joyful chatter below, and Eren followed his friend into a swooping descent.
They flapped to hover above the grass, gradually lowering to ensure a smooth touchdown. With both feet planted on solid ground, Eren inspected the patches of daisies and buttercups surrounding him, spotting a group of fairies to his right. It was relieving to see a familiar freckled face among them. Emerald eyes moved to look at the fairy that was calling out to them and flying over, a strawberry blonde with sheer wings of cotton-candy pink.
The newcomer landed in front of them, flittering her pastel wings and smiling brightly. “Hi there! My name is Petra, I’m the omega leading this little outing. It’s great to meet you.” Her nose flared as she scented the air, taking a step closer with a radiant smile on her face. “Two new omegas, how wonderful! And you’re both so beautiful!” Once she had finished gushing over them, Petra tilted her head to the side. “Come with me, I’ll introduce you to the others.”
Following behind her, Eren recognised yet another face among the group.
“This is Marco, and this lovely little lady is Historia,” Petra said.
This was certainly a surprise, Eren hadn’t known that Historia was an omega as well. “We already know them,” He explained. “We’re all from the same year.” Blue-green wings twitched with excitement, it seemed that Eren already knew several of the other omegas, and Petra was lovely as well. The concerns that the brunet had about fitting in were quickly forgotten, pleased that none of his friends had changed too much after presenting.
A fairy suddenly torpedoed into the meadow, crash-landing straight into a buttercup and writhing around on its limp corpse. They popped up again, completely unscathed but covered in bright yellow pollen. A hand rose to wipe off their pair of shabbily built goggles. “Woo-wee!” They stood up with a squeal, their fluttering orange wings creating a sandstorm of pollen. “We have four new omegas this year? Amazing!”
Armin took a step back and held his arm out to prevent a face-full of flower dust. “Yes… we must’ve been given extra blessings,” He said, cautious of the reckless newcomer.
“Oh sweetie, I don’t think so!” The orange-winged fairy held up a finger, planning to educate the young omega. “It’s all down to random chance and family history. Got lucky, is all.”
The statement made Armin frown. Eren wasn’t sure about all that, but he respected his friend’s right to believe whatever he wanted to. Shifting closer to the blonde, Eren whispered near his ear. “Don’t listen to them, we were totally blessed by the forest.”
Now that the air was no longer polluted with pollen, Eren could detect a smell that he hadn’t expected to encounter here. It made sense, that strange fairy had rather plain wings, a dull burnt orange colour with no notable features besides the odd spot of brown. Eren tilted his head and enquired. “You’re a beta?”
“They are,” Petra said and gestured to the individual in question, who was still dusting the yellow from their clothes. “This is Hange.”
“Correct!” Hange spoke a bit too loudly. The harsh squeal startled a nearby grasshopper, causing it to spring into the air behind them. “I know this is supposed to be an activity for the new omegas, but I just so happen to find it fun. So, I tagged along. And I brought the newest addition to my squad!” They gestured behind them to a fairy sitting in the grass, wings a faded chocolate brown colour. She appeared to be eating something. “This is Sasha. She’s your age too, so I’m sure you already know each other.” Hange hummed thoughtfully as they adjusted the goggles on their face. “She’s the only new beta this year, surprisingly… I usually get three or four.”
“So…” Eren began as his brain reached a shocking conclusion. Sasha’s the only beta from their year, and all the omegas are currently present, which mean… “Jean’s an alpha.”
A huff came from Historia as she folded her arms, lacey beige wings twitching with annoyance. “He certainly has the massive ego of one.”
“Shut up!” Armin shouted and produced that sour stench again, the outburst taking the entire group by surprise. His frosted-glass wings laid flat against his back in aggression, making them look as large as possible with hopes of intimidating. “Not all alphas are like that!”
Petra was quick on her feet, positioning herself between the stroppy blondes and releasing a calming scent. “How about we get started now, hm?”
The routine was fairly simple; taking a twig to a flower and scooping out the pollen within. Hange was adamant that they be careful not to damage the fragile structures, even though they all but crushed a buttercup during their dramatic arrival. It was easier to coax the yellow dust out of the buttercups, as the daisies were flatter on top and had a greater number of petals. Eren still did both in the name of variety.
The sun was much lower when Eren was disturbed from his current flower, a sudden gust of wind blowing away some of the pollen he had collected. The culprit was revealed to be Macro, his reflective silver wings kicking up breeze as he landed nearby. Eren paused to admire him. The colour was really quite stunning, elegant silver shining in the sun. The details were a lighter shade, a metallic grey that was almost white. While Eren appreciated how it looked, he much preferred his bolder viridian and gold. Marco quickly finished with the daisy and took off again, leaving the brunet to continue working on his own flower.
Taking his twig, Eren gently scrapped it against the pollen inside the buttercup, bending the petal to let it slide down into his basket. A scuttering noise caught his attention. Eren turned towards it and found the source to be bumblebee caught on a dead leaf. They were friendly creatures, so long as fairies didn’t hog all the pollen for themselves. Bumblebees were one of Eren’s favourite insects, the sharp contrast of their black strips always fascinated him. He decided to help the poor thing, it only needed a little nudge to make it off the dastardly leaf.
Not wanting to leave his basket unguarded, Eren picked up and started walking towards the ensnared bee. There was nothing to fear from the creature, they were familiar with fairies and never attacked. They are also recognised as important pollinators. This large meadow needed all the bumblebees it could get; their work benefitted everyone.
Getting close to the insect, Eren squeaked in alarm as he started falling, wings going into a panic with the sudden loss of ground. The frantic fluttering wasn’t effective due to the dirt raining down on him, and Eren quickly found himself making impact with a solid surface.
A faint rustling made Eren’s ear twitch as he tuned in to his surroundings. Green eyes opened, then squinted and blinked rapidly as dust attempted to fall into them. Sitting up, he realised that he was in a hole. It was unclear who might’ve created such a dangerous pitfall in the middle of a field, but it was very inconvenient. Eren reached for the basket, but his hand stopped short when he saw that the vessel was destroyed, his hard-earned pollen scattered over the dirt. That’s probably what was floating around in the air.
He climbed to his feet, sneezing twice along the way, and fluttered his wings to shake off the dirt. Thankfully there hadn’t been much on him, just the odd speck here and there. His extensive beauty routine hadn’t been a complete waste and his favourite clothes weren’t ruined.
Using the heel of his boot to push off the dry soil, Eren flapped until he ascended out of the hole and landed on the grass. Another rustling drew his attention; the bumblebee was still trapped in the crisp leaf. Eren made the executive decision to fly over this time, giving the fuzzy creature a firm push on the backside and freeing it from the wilted foliage. With the insect on it’s way home, Eren assessed his surroundings, finding that the sun was getting dangerously low considering the length of the return journey. It was quiet.
Too quiet. The brunet buzzed around in circles as he surveyed the area, confirming his suspicion that everyone else had already gone. Eren felt a whimper trying to claw its way up his throat, feeling rejected and uncared for. They left him behind?
An explanation besides intentional desertion popped into Eren’s head. They must’ve seen that his basket was gone and assumed that he had headed back on his own. The omega huffed in annoyance, even though it was partially his own fault.
No matter. Eren visited the meadow almost every day, and as a result he had the way back memorised perfectly. From the meadow, he always got home by flying east. Turquoise eyes raised skyward, using the sun’s location to figure out the direction. It took a several minutes and he needed to recite his acronym a few times (Never Eat Silly Worms), but eventually he figured it out and took off with a powerful wingbeat.
Warm pinks and reds spread over the clouds and cast a soft glow upon the world. The journey felt longer on the back, Eren was sure that he would’ve reached the forest by now… but he was definitely going east, that much was certain. Perhaps he was flying slower than usual due to exhaustion, he had taken quite the tumble.
Eren’s worry grew as time went on, the rich colours in the sky being steadily replaced by an ominously dark shade of blue. It shouldn’t be taking this long. Even if he was moving slowly, it felt as though he’d been flying for twice as long as it should’ve taken. His wings were aching from the constant effort. Fairies weren’t built for long-distance travel, at least not without regular breaks. What had he done wrong? He was going east, the same as always.
Relief washed over him as he saw tall trees appear in the distance, the promise of home beckoning him closer. The brunet must’ve been flying awfully slow. Peculiar… but it was no longer a concern. He was focused solely on the fact that he was safe now, out of the open before nightfall. Viridian wings flapped faster, propelling him towards the forest as fast as they could manage.
At the treeline, Eren came to a sudden stop.
Wasn’t there a stream?
Yes. There was definitely a stream… but he couldn’t recall going past it again. Eren glanced behind him, eyes studying the darkening landscape for any features he recognised. There was nothing, how can that be?
In theory, it was easy enough to explain. Either he simply wasn’t paying attention and didn’t see the stream, or he had veered off-course and ended up following a slightly different path.
But thinking that didn’t do anything to ease the dreadful feeling prickling at his skin. Regardless, flying anywhere was impossible now that the sun had vanished. The only option is the keep going forward.
Diving into the shadowy forest, Eren struggled to navigate without lanterns lighting the way. With his vision rendered useless, the brunet fell back onto his other senses and begun scenting the air. If this were the correct forest he’d be able to smell his colony by now, but he could not. There wasn’t a single thing about this place that he recognised.
The omega let out a high-pitched chirp, distressed and confused, and took to flying in slow circles as he investigated further. The trees were wrong, he realised. Even with minimal light it was obvious that they were of a different variety, the leaf shape unfamiliar to him. They didn’t seem very healthy either, many branches were bare of greenery and the stale scent of decaying plants lingered in the air.
This is not where Eren was supposed to be.
Night was fully upon him now and being in a forest that blocked out the sky didn’t help the situation. Eren flapped around blindly, eventually managing an awkward landing on what he presumed to be a branch. With panic surging through his body, it took a tremendous amount of willpower to stop himself from collapsing onto the bark and crying.
It smelt him.
It would be okay, he thought. When the sun came up Eren would fly west until he reached the meadow again, and he’d find the way back from there. Hands reaching out into the darkness, he found the tree trunk and settling down against it. It seemed he would be spending the night here.
The colony would be searching for him… Armin would’ve gone to check on him when they arrived home, they would all know that Eren was missing by now. His mother would be crying now, too.
Warm tears escaped and rolled down Eren’s cheek, his body shaking as a string of frightened whimpers and lonely hums started up in the back of his throat. He pulled his knees to his chest, arms wrapping around them, tucking himself into a tight little ball to preserve warmth.
It heard him.
Eren lowered his head to rest it on his knees, closing his eyes and trying to block out the unsettling environment. He usually loved the forest, but now the biome felt far less safe and friendly. With nothing to see, Eren was picking up on every odd smell and rustling leaf, fear of the unknown slowly but surely creeping into his mind.
Sleep would be difficult to achieve, but the brunet was determined to try as it would help time pass. The young fairy had never spent a night alone before, always snuggled up in his hollow with the comforting warmth of family. Eren sniffled and wiped the salty droplets from his face, comforting himself by taking deep breaths of his mother’s scent that still clung to his clothing.
It was watching him.
Still inhaling through his nose, Eren’s blood ran cold at what he detected. There was a repugnant odour in the air; rotting berries and decaying flower petals. It wasn’t the smell itself that was alarming, Eren had picked up on it a while ago and attributed it to decomposing plants. What was frightening, however, is that the source of the sickening stench had moved… closer.
Silencing his whimpers, the brunet froze in place and contemplated whether he should open his eyes. If something was about to jump out of the darkness and chew him up, Eren would prefer not to know about it. On the other hand, his instincts were screaming that he should fight to survive, attempt an escape despite not being able to see properly.
Eren swallowed in trepidation, raising his head up to scan the foliage. With eyes now adjusted from being closed for so long, he could make out the shadowy outlines of nearby trees. That was all he could see with no moonlight breaking through the dense canopy. Full concentration was put into listening, ears focused and alert to detect the faintest of sounds.
A crunch. Eren’s head automatically snapped to the side, it was much closer than he had anticipated. What he found lurking on the branch next to him was enough to make the young omega quiver with fear. A pair of giant blood-red eyes glowing in the darkness, each one nearly the size of his head, staring back at him.
There was no telling what this monster could be. His first thought was a small cat, but there wouldn’t be one up in the tree tops. It must be a bird of some description… a demonic owl?
Eren didn’t want to find out.
The brunet carefully got to his feet, never looking away from the massive pair of eyes that watched him, creepy in the way they were unblinking. How the monster managed to get so close without Eren noticing was a mystery, but it’s proximity would make escape incredibly difficult. Especially if this creature wasn’t blinded by the darkness.
The rotting smell grew more potent. The creature knew it had been spotted.
With his options severely limited, Eren decided that he would jump of the branch and fly for his life until he found somewhere to hide… assuming he doesn’t smack into a tree trunk. Taking a cautious step back, Eren found the edge of the branch. Viridian wings flapped a few times in preparation, silently praying that he was faster than whatever was about to chase him through the perilous forest.
The haunting red eyes edged closer, swaying in the foliage as they shifted towards him. That was the cue to flee.
Eren spread his wings wide, poised to jump, but his body froze when an eerie whisper came from among the leaves.
“Aren’t you just the prettiest thing…”
Click here to see Eren's wings!
Obviously, you can imagine them differently if you want to.
Please leave a comment/feedback if you liked it!
What do you think of the scary creature?
If you're interested in some mild humor (?), Here is a short crack-fic I wrote for this AU (unrelated to this story).
Chapter 2: The Creature
And the monster is... HEDWIG THE DEMONIC OWL?!?!
But seriously, thank you for all the support and amazing comments/feedback! I was a bit shocked by the amount of love the first chapter got, you guys are amazing. I hope you like this chapter just as much!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The night worked to his advantage, the dense shadows providing ample cover to hunt and sneak up on any unfortunate souls that had wandered too far into his territory. Having recently awoken, it was startling to find an unfamiliar scent polluting the air. A bizarre smell that couldn’t be placed, drenched in dread and despair, but not altogether unsavoury due to the sweet undertones. Regardless, it did not belong and needed to be dealt with. He headed towards it, quick and agile as he maneuverer between the trees, concealing himself in the corridors of darkness.
It was difficult to pinpoint the source; the scent had permeated a considerably large area. It must have been here some time, arriving while he slept. Focused ears twitched, picking up on a quiet whimpering nearby. The distressed sounds called to him. Beckoning him closer, like a moth to the moon, although it wasn’t clear for what purpose.
It must have a death-wish to so openly announce its location. Leaves swayed on their branches as he turned sharply, now knowing exactly where to find the unwanted visitor.
Closing in on the disturbance, the source was revealed to be a fairy curled up in the treetops, head bowed and resting on its knees. Obviously not sleeping as it continued producing the snivelling noises… but that position prevented it from keeping an eye on the surroundings, rendering it completely defenceless. How foolish.
He landed on a branch beside it, the motion deft and soundless, crouching down against the rigid bark. This was very unusual. Strangers weren’t a common occurrence in this part of the forest, most that passed by possessed a keen enough sense of self-preservation to keep their distance.
He watched, ready to attack if need be, knowing better than to lower his guard simply because the threat appeared to be harmless. Strangely, the fairy’s distressed scent seemed to be affecting him, making his body restless and unwilling to remain still. Resisting the urge to get closer, he fidgeted between the wilted leaves.
A crunch. Barely audible, but it was enough. The intruder moved suddenly, head turning in response to the sound and staring in his direction. Still shocked by his own carelessness, it wasn’t until the fairy uncurled itself and stood up that he realised... it could see him.
Alarmed at being spotted, his aggressive scent flared up and became incredibly potent, his body preparing for the fight that was sure to come. It smelt like a rotting pile of compost, the vile odour intended to ward off intruders. It clearly hadn’t worked on this one.
Unsurprisingly, the trespassing fairy was put off by the foul stench, scrunching up its nose as it backed away.
A rapid flapping attracted his gaze. The stranger’s wings stretched in preparation for flight, gracing him with successive flashes of vibrant emerald green. He had never seen such bright colouration before, it was certainly very eye-catching. He edged closer, trying to catch another glimpse.
His movement must have spooked it. The fairy spread out it’s wings to take off, and it was truly breath-taking. Being given a proper display, he was enthralled by the shimmering viridian and tarnished gold, lustrous despite the darkness. A hushed whisper fell from his lips, speaking to himself rather than his unexpected company. “Aren’t you just the prettiest thing…”
A struggle of instincts raged within Eren’s head, torn between fleeing and attempting to communicate with the threatening apparition. Not only had it spoken, it had complimented his appearance… hopefully it wasn’t in the way someone might compliment a well-decorated cupcake before gobbling it up.
Timidly scenting the air, Eren found that the foul odour had diminished, partially replaced with what he interpreted as cautious curiosity. Turquoise met the enormous pools of brilliant red, a single question on Eren’s lips. “What are you?”
Silence followed, long enough for the brunet to doubt he had heard the imposing shadow speak at all, but a reply eventually came. Perhaps it had been thinking about what to say.
“The same as you…” The mysterious creature responded in a deep voice, although the words were threaded with uncertainty. Luminous blood-red eyes shifted in the foliage. “Or something similar, at least.”
The words confused Eren. This creature’s eyes were almost as large as his head, it must be of a tremendous size. He had never heard of a fairy being so enormous, nor of one having glowing eyes such as this. Its vision mustn’t be very good after all… or perhaps it was trying to trick him.
The brunet felt a little rude referring to them as an it. The voice was quite deep, a male? Potentially. Whatever it was, it may have a different vocal range to what Eren knows. Viridian wings twitched anxiously, unsure of how to proceed. The creature was unsure too, if the new scent it was giving off was any indication. Normally he couldn’t detect anything about birds, as they all had the same unchanging smell. This one was very unique.
Eren moved back up the branch, towards the tree trunk, putting as much distance between them as possible. The creature was terrifying regardless of its ability to socialise. His palm pressed against the rough bark, a sense of stability in this unpredictable situation. Taking a shaky breath, the omega asked the most pressing question, voice coming out far less steady than he had intended. “Are you… going to kill me?”
It was strange to imagine that a predator would spend time talking to its prey before making a meal of them, but Eren wasn’t going to rule out the possibility. This one might simply enjoy the conversation.
“That depends.” The unnerving set of eyes tracked the brunet’s movements, slowly rotating in the blackness to watch him cower against the tree. “Why are you here?”
“I got lost,” Eren answered straight away, unthinking, not realising until after the fact that his life had been depending on that answer. Being more verbose might’ve helped his case. The eyes rose up considerably, pulling an unsettled whimper from the omega’s throat. Taking the differing height of their respective branches into consideration, the pools of blood were slightly taller than Eren’s head now. He wondered where its mouth would be… was it large enough to swallow him whole? It spoke again, the assertive voice pulling the brunet’s reeling mind back to reality.
“Stop that.” The creature appeared uneasy, shifting erratically as if it were fidgeting around on the spot. “You smell… frightened.” It paused, a quiet snuffling coming from the patch of wilted leaves it resided in. “I don’t like it.”
“I am frightened,” Eren replied. How audacious for it to complain of a scent that it’s very presence was inducing.
Another silence, the creature was taking care with its words. “You needn’t be, I already revealed myself.” The eyes swayed, followed by a wavy motion that appeared disturbingly unnatural. No response came from the brunet. The forest remained quiet as it considered what to do next, eventually producing a deep hum that filled the darkness, intrigued. “Why are your colours so bright?”
Eren’s wings came together behind him, concealed from its haunting gaze. Not understanding the question, the omega voiced his sudden revelation instead. “You can see me.”
“Yes...” The voice had a lilt to it, a hint of confusion. “Can’t you see me?” The pair of luminous eyes tilted to the side, making one higher than the other. The purpose of the movement was unclear, perhaps it was making a gesture in the darkness to test the brunet’s vision. “Oh.” They became level with each other again. “That would be why you’re scared. I can’t do much about it, unfortunately.”
The creature wanted to make itself less frightening for him? How peculiar... Eren watched its fidgety movements, the gleaming eyes casting a subtle glow onto a nearby leaf, accentuating the curve of its dying form. It didn’t seem intent on eating him, for the moment.
The omega was beginning to feel curious despite the potential danger. In reality, Eren knew that he wouldn’t be able to out-fly the larger creature, and that fact was even clearer now that he’d confirmed its ability to see in the dark. The only remaining option was to talk himself off the menu.
“That’s okay…” Eren said. He hadn’t a clue what its previous words meant, but the tone had seemed apologetic. “My name is Eren,” The omega revealed. There was no harm in telling the creature, especially if Eren would be meeting with death tonight. Knowing that he could be seen, the brunet managed to put a meek smile on his face. “Do you have a name?”
“Eren…” The creature repeated it back, a quiet whisper lost to the abyss of darkness. It might’ve been creepy if it hadn’t sounded so reverent. The eyes flinched to the side, embarrassed at being caught talking to itself a second time. “Of course, I have a name.” The brilliant red seemed to wave at Eren, a fluid motion that somehow came across as friendly. “It’s Levi.”
This encounter was certainly very strange. Several minutes ago, Eren had thought himself dead for sure… and now he was engaging in casual conversation with his would-be devourer. It had an interesting name though, and it confirmed that the creature was indeed a male. “Levi.” The brunet repeated to confirm that he had caught it. The large eyes perked up at the sound, apparently liking the gentle way Eren had said his name.
A series of sharp inhales. This Levi must be scenting him again. Now that they had exchanged formalities, Eren thought that the striking red colour was actually quite beautiful, in a spooky sort of way. The rotting smell had died down also, barely detectable, which was appreciated.
Crimson orbs shifted as the sniffing continued. The brunet remained still against the rough tree trunk, waiting to see what Levi would do next. Eren was startled when the eyes suddenly jumped onto his branch, his body releasing a surprised squeak as they landed on the bark with a soft thud.
Judging by the steady swaying motion, Levi was walking towards him now, still scenting the air as he approached. Eren was hypnotised, the gentle side-to-side of the luminous red ovals acting as a strange sort of pendulum. With increasing proximity and the rotting odour dissipating, the brunet was confused by a more attractive fragrance coming from Levi. He smelt like… an alpha. Eren wasn’t sure what to think anymore.
“Your scent is better now, it smells nice.” A loud huff of air left Levi, one of his magnificent eyes jerking with an involuntary twitch. The swaying continued. “I like it…”
Perhaps Eren would be getting eaten after all.
The grisly thought didn’t remain long. Whatever Levi had been intending to do was interrupted by a strong gust of wind whistling through the leaves, the sound stealing both of their attention. The omega grew worried. During the day, the weather had been incredibly calm, a thick dampness in the air that persisted still. It was going to rain.
Falling water made it impossible to fly at all, a barrage of droplets hitting a fairy’s wings mid-flight was enough to send them plummeting to the ground. And then there was the water itself. The forest was already cold, turning his fingers numb and prickling at his sun-kissed skin. Becoming soaked would turn Eren into a frozen corpse by the time morning came… not that he had particularly high hopes of surviving the night to begin with.
“Eren.” Levi’s voice rang out again, bringing the fairy’s attention back to himself. The deeper tone carried an obscure warning. His eyes tilted sideways, questioning. “I can take you somewhere safe.”
The brunet’s jaw clenched at the proposal, unsure of how to respond. It was true that he needed to find shelter… but following Levi to this vague somewhere sounded incredibly dangerous. Those hypnotic eyes could very well be luring Eren to his death, a more convenient place to tear him apart.
But the downpour wasn’t far off, the air steadily becoming more humid with the promise of rain. If the omega got caught in it, he would surely perish. At least if Levi did end up devouring him, he wouldn’t die alone and be left to rot away on a tree branch. Levi seemed polite enough to make it quick, much better than gradually freezing. There was also a chance of not being eaten.
Having decided to put his life in the creature’s hands, Eren remembered a solemn fact. The omega whimpered low in his throat, feeling helpless as the odds of survival dwindled down to zero. “But I can’t see… how could I fly?”
Levi was silent, thoughtful, until his eyes straightened up to become level once more. “You can see me. I’ll guide you.”
“Is that safe?” Eren asked, he imagined that would be a very difficult task.
“Safer than the rain.”
A fair point. Turquoise eyes scanned the forest, considering the dark outlines of wooden trunks in the distance, still unable to discern them properly. “Okay… let’s go.” Eren hesitantly agreed, flapping his wings to warm them up before taking to the frigid air.
Gaze shifting back to his company, the omega was startled to find that Levi had suddenly developed silver freckles and a set of whiskers.
Levi looked much more cat-like with these new features. The patch of pale freckles was situated between and below his gleaming red eyes, where a feline’s snout and jowls would be located. Four whiskers hung off the spotted area, two each side, with a pair of small red blobs clinging to the bottom of them. Very bizarre… but Eren decided to enquire at a more appropriate time.
Distracted by his oddities, the brunet was unprepared when Levi took off and vanished into the night. Left alone on the desolate branch, Eren quickly longed for the visual stimuli that Levi’s presence provided. He called out, a desperate mewl permeating the darkness.
This time, Eren was thrilled to see an eerie red emerging from the shadows. Levi started circling around close by, maintaining lift as he waited for the fairy to join him.
As he stepped up to the edge of the branch, Eren spared the void below a wary glance. It was very dark, very daunting. It caused him to hesitate. His ears pricked up at an interesting noise, presumably coming from Levi. A deep yet gentle warbling that gave both encouragement and reassurance, but also anxious to leave.
Pushing off the bark with his toes, Eren took to the air in a flash of viridian and immediately headed over, albeit quite slowly. Levi broke from his repetitious circuit and set off into the forest, the omega following close behind.
Flying straight as the crow, Eren was relieved that there weren’t many obstacles to evade. Or perhaps there was, and Levi was simply an excellent navigator. It was impossible to tell. The brunet kept a reasonable distance, close enough to catch some tailwind but far enough to allow a sudden change direction if need be. Eren felt a burst of resisting air that was accompanied by a quiet whoosh, suggesting that he'd passed very close to something solid. Knowing that Levi would smack into a tree before he did was somewhat comforting.
Maintaining a higher altitude to look down on the guiding lights, Eren pointedly ignored the fact that Levi seemed to be flying on a strange angle, his large red eyes staring skyward as his silver whiskers quivered in the breeze. Everything about Levi was weird… namely that he appeared to be some sort of speaking owl-cat hybrid. The omega was no longer surprised by his numerous abnormalities.
The luminous red shifted occasionally, as if Levi was rolling onto his side to check that Eren was still behind him. As they were simply flying straight ahead, Eren risked taking his eyes away to check the surroundings. Glancing to the side, he realised that they were still in complete darkness, possibly even more so than before. What could Levi see, he wondered. Was it like daylight for him, or could he only see certain things?
Feeling curious, Eren raised his hand in front of his face and was alarmed that he could barely make out where it was at such a close distance. It gave him the strangest sensation, as if his eyes were closed when they were not, the vast nothingness instilling dread and terror. Frightened, Eren turned back to the one thing he could see, the mysterious Levi that was leading him to safety.
Or so he hoped.
After an unknowable amount of time, Levi slowed considerably before taking to his beloved circles again. The brunet flapped to hover close by, watching the vulture-esque movement until Levi seemed to settle and landed somewhere within the trees.
Following, Eren found himself at the entrance of what he guessed to be a hanging nest, his fingers digging into the wiry texture of entwined twigs and dried grass. The mass of foliage radiated the scent of his new acquaintance. Eren entered, scanning the interior until he found a familiar pair of eyes, although the silver additions had vanished once more. “Is this… your home?”
“Yes,” Levi replied, quiet and uneasy.
Eren wasn’t sure whether he should be pleased about that or not. The journey here had not been a particularly short one, it begged the question of how Levi had managed to find him in the first place. It was warmer now, he realised, the well-insulated structure retaining heat. Being in an enclosed space, the red glow provided just enough light for the omega to make out some vague features in the darkness.
A glistening shine. Eren approach it, hands outstretched, and found it to be a reflective glossy feather. Further inspection revealed it was apart of a pile of cushioning, a bed of sorts. Eren jumped onto the soft material, the downy feathers like satin, and located a dip in the center to curl up in. A nest within a nest.
Lost in comfort, it took the brunet a minute to realise that he had just stolen his host’s bed. His head whipped around to check for a reaction. Levi, who was still in the same place, voiced no objections about the omega making himself at home. The silence was taken as permission to snuggle down.
Laying on his side, Eren wasn’t surprised that he felt exhausted after the day’s activities and the night’s terrors. Speaking of which… it was unlikely that he’d be able to fall asleep with Levi lurking in the darkness, undoubtedly staring. Eren rolled to peak over his shoulder, finding the eerie red still looking back at him. “What are you doing?”
Levi tilted, the answer delayed by his thoughts. “I’m watching you.”
“Oh… kay.” The brunet fidgeted, stroking the soft feathers that surrounded him. A bit strange, but at least Levi was being honest. “Aren’t you going to sleep?”
“No, I’m not tired.” The reply was faster this time, followed by a thoughtful hum. “And if I did, you might try to kill me.”
Eren’s lips pulled into a frown, that statement didn’t exactly instil confidence. He sat up in the nest, turning to face Levi properly. “Should I be worried about that, too?”
“If I wanted to kill you, I wouldn’t have brought you to my nest,” Levi explained. His gleaming eyes lowered, attempting to show that he had no intent to hurt the brunet. “Too messy.”
Eren thought that was an acceptable answer, although messiness surely wasn’t the most off-putting aspect to ending a creature’s life. Since Levi was responding consistently, the omega decided to make a few more enquiries, starting with the most important one. Tilting his head, green eyes looked straight into the pools of red. “Levi… what are you?”
“You’ve already asked me that.” The dried grass crinkling as he shifted on the spot. “And I’ve already given you an answer.”
Thinking back, the brunet recalled that he’d said they were the same. He hadn’t believed it, despite the fact that Levi smelt familiar somehow. Feeling doubtful, Eren’s hand raised to fiddle with a golden bead of his necklace, turning it between his fingers. “I thought you were lying.”
“Why would I?” Levi asked.
Eren breathed deep and slowly released it, preparing to voice his persistent fear. “To gain my trust and lure me into a trap.”
“Yet you were quick to follow me here. Why is that?”
“Safer than the rain.” Eren repeated the simple statement that had convinced him to take part in something so reckless. It still held true, perhaps he had been wrong in his assumptions. Levi saved his life and hadn’t done anything to harm him despite the omega’s current vulnerabilities. Emerald green wings flapped behind him, finding the prospect of a new friend quite exciting. “So, you’re really like me then? A fairy?”
“I suppose so,” Levi replied, it was a bit too vague for the brunet’s liking, but he explained further. “I haven’t met many others, only the few that live in this forest.”
“Well the colony I’m from is huge,” Eren said, hand dropping to rest in his lap. “I’ve met hundreds of fairies, but I’ve never seen one like you before.”
The crimson eyes shifted against the black backdrop as a deep hum came from Levi, thoughtful and considering, and then he went quiet. Several seconds of silence passed before his voice returned, a trace of uncertainty. “Can I… come close to you?”
“Um…” Turquoise eyes examined the darkness as if he would magically find an answer hiding there. Fidgeting among the feathers, the brunet reminded himself that Levi had said he wouldn’t hurt him. Or that he wouldn’t kill him, at least. “Okay…” Eren said, still cautious, but he assumed that Levi wouldn’t have asked for permission if he harboured ill intentions.
The luminous eyes began their slow approach. The faint sound of crinkling footfalls was loud to Eren’s alert ears as he watched them draw closer, until Levi came to a stop and crouched down besides the omega’s stolen nest.
Eren swallowed as he anxiously awaited whatever was to come next, flinching when something suddenly brushed against his hand. It was a warm touch, it felt like… fingers. Levi’s fingers, more or less the same size as his own.
Feeling less frightened now, the brunet reached out, feeling that they were indeed attached to a hand… then a wrist, an arm. All of normal proportion and not at all monstrous. Eren trilled, happy to confirm that Levi wasn’t a ferocious flying cat. He was a fairy, which meant that Eren’s nose wasn’t being deceived by the seemingly alpha scent. It was a little different to what the brunet had experienced before, but still very recognisable.
Hearing no objections to the examination, Eren continued up to a shoulder, searching until he found where a face should be, and there one was. Fingertips patted over a soft cheek and nose until Levi suddenly jerked away. The aimless prodding had gotten dangerously close to his eyes. “What do you look like?” The omega’s asked, head tilted curiously.
“This might work in here…” Levi mumbled quietly, talking to himself again.
Eren didn’t have to wait long to find out what he had meant. The red ovals lowered and came forward, moving on to an angle so that the soft glow illuminated Levi’s face. Taking in the dark hair and sharp features, the brunet promptly came to conclusion, even though the light wasn’t enough to show all the details. Levi was very attractive. It was difficult to determine the colour of his eyes with the warm light reflecting in them, but they appeared to be a metallic shade of silver.
The thought caused Eren’s focus to shift onto the pools of red, which were evidently not eyes after all. Having already determined that Levi was the same as himself, the only possible explanation was that those were part of his wings.
The omega stared at them with wonder, deeply fascinated by the new discovery. Unable to resist, Eren reached out to touch them, fingers flittering over the silken texture of the dense blackness. He moved on to the fake eye, seeing his own hand for the first time in a while as it splayed over the luminous red, smooth but also a little greasy. Being so captivated by the delicate appendage, he hadn’t noticed the rumbling growl that had started up in Levi’s chest.
The warning sound grew louder, startling Eren as his hand promptly retreated back to the nest with a quiet whine of apology. The growling came to sudden stop as the eyespots straightened to their natural position, swaying from side-to-side in a steady rhythm.
Eren pursed his lips, considering the strange movement. It reminded him of a friendly bunny waving its ears around. The brunet couldn’t possibly imagine what the mysterious swaying meant, but Levi had done it before when he was scenting Eren on the branch. At the time, he’d assumed the motion had simply been from walking, but now it seemed like something Levi did intentionally… or perhaps it was a subconscious gesture. Could it be a sign that he’s happy?
Deciding to simply observe the odd behaviour some more, Eren moved on to another question. “Do your wings always glow?”
“No. It’s a natural response,” Levi answered. He noticed that Eren was blatantly staring at them despite knowing that they weren’t his eyes, but it didn’t bother him. They weren’t so easy to ignore. “But I usually have more control over it.”
“I guess it’s been a strange night for both of us...” Eren said, fingers running through his favourite feather once more as he mused over the night’s events. “Wait!” His voice rose with a sudden squeal, the exclamation cutting through the quiet atmosphere. “Why didn’t you tell sooner? I thought you were going to eat me!”
“I did tell you.” Levi leaned back, not appreciating the volume at this proximity. “It’s not my fault you didn’t believe me.”
“You knew that I didn’t, though.” Green eyes narrowed, accusing. “You could’ve shown me like you just did.”
Levi huffed out a breath of air, unsuccessfully concealing an incredulous scoff. “That was before I determined you weren’t dangerous. I wasn’t going to let you touch me, then.”
“I could still be dangerous...” Eren said, voice low in an attempt to sound ominous. It was true that he likely wouldn’t stand a chance against Levi, but the alpha shouldn’t be so quick to assume such a thing. Regardless, this was interesting information. Eren hadn’t considered that Levi had been wary of him as well.
“Oh? I’ll be sure to keep that in mind.” A lilt in his voice sought to tease Eren over the endearing proclamation, but it clearly wasn’t appreciated. The brunet’s face morphed into a displeased pout. “Stop pulling that face.”
The omega squeaked with embarrassment, having forgotten that Levi could see him. Hopefully he hadn’t been making any horrible expressions.
His reddening face was soon forgotten, attention caught by a crackling roar that echoed throughout the forest, angry and threatening in its booming harshness. Eren recoiled further into the nest with a whimper, hiding among the numerous feathers. With light unable to break through the dense canopy, the thunder was startling and struck without warning.
Unexpected comfort came in the form of a gentle cooing, Levi’s wings lowering as the soft sound vibrated in his throat. The reassuring vocalisations eventually stopped, the alpha choosing to speak instead. “It’s safe here, you don’t need to be frightened.”
Eren took in the calming scent that had surrounded him. The sweet-citrusy aroma of ripe berries vastly more pleasant than anything Levi had produced thus far, working alongside the soothing noises to chase his worries away.
Suddenly, the brunet realised that he was all alone with an alpha. Curled up in an alpha’s nest. Following him here had presented a danger of an entirely different kind… fortunately, Levi seemed to be a protective mood. Eren trilled his appreciation of the efforts, but it was careful and timid, not wanting to rouse any more of the alpha’s natural instincts.
Pleased by the apparent success of his comforting, Levi cooed once more as his magnificent red eyespots perked up and resumed their swaying. He watched, sniffing a few times before speaking again. “You should try to get some sleep.”
Eren watched the alpha rise to his feet and turn around, eyes drawn to the silver speckles and whisker-like streaks. Only on the back of his wings, it seems. Levi sat down some distance from where the omega was resting, watching the dark forest through the entrance.
Feathers crinkled as Eren curled up in the nest, the enveloping warmth coaxing him to sleep as the patter of rainfall started outside.
Brightness, a distant dripping sound, the dewy scent of wet soil mixed with the strong aroma of fermented fruits. Eren welcomed these things as he stretched out, turquoise eyes blinking open to find himself among a huge pile of feathers and leaves.
Startled by the unfamiliar setting, the brunet sat up and glanced around, examining the walls of entwined grassy-brown fibres as rays of sunlight seeped in through the entrance. He looked up, seeing that the structure grew thinner towards the top, coming together in a spiral pattern. Remembering what had happened, Eren’s gaze shifted to where Levi had last been sitting. He was no longer there.
The leaves crunched beneath him as Eren rose to his knees, wings twitching with uncertainty as he scanned the surroundings. Sniffing, he detected that the potent fragrance was nearby. His head whipping sideways to where it was emanating from. Levi had moved much closer during the night, his body laying against the edge of the nest Eren was in, apparently sleeping despite saying that he wouldn’t.
Curious, the omega crawled closer and peeked over the side of his cosy bed. There was a wing draped over Levi’s face, no doubt to block out the blearing sun, the pitch-black appendage covering him like a blanket of night. The wing had a sharp apex, but something was missing… Eren examined it carefully, finding that the eyespots had faded to barely discernible shade of burgundy.
Tilting to the side, Eren could see that Levi’s wings lightened towards his body, a dark stone-grey that was speckled with black. Intrigued green eyes moved down to the forewing, discovering that the so-called whiskers were actually silver veins that segmented them. Sadly, the edges appeared to have a few tears and tatters.
He settled back on his knees, curiosity satiated. That aroma was tickling at his nose again, so Eren sniffed the air with full dedication. Levi smelt wonderful… similar to the scent he had made for comfort, except richer. It was spicy and tart, acidic with a faint touch of sweetness, like mulled wine. Most of the fairies Eren knew smelt a lot sweeter, even the alphas, but the brunet quite liked the heady fragrance.
Wondering why the scent was different once again, Eren concluded that it must be because Levi had been suspicious and on-edge before, and that horrible stench from when they first met was likely a sign of aggression. Now that Levi was relaxed and asleep, his natural aroma was uninhibited by caution.
Inhaling deeply, Eren’s wings fluttered at the pleasing scent. The omega found it very attractive, radiating a warmth and comfort that made him feel safe. It was inviting… enticing, even.
Eren blinked down at the slumbering mass of alpha, watching the inky-black wing rise and fall along with Levi’s steady breaths.
Surely it would be okay to get a little bit closer.
And HERE to see what they look like in the dark (poor Eren).
~Fluffyboot's 10 second biology lesson~
Eye-spots can resemble the eye of another animal to deceive predators or prey; to draw a predators attention away from the most vulnerable body parts; or to appear as an inedible or dangerous animal. They may also play a role in courtship or communication.
Thanks for reading and all the love!
Leave a comment if you liked it!
Chapter 3: The Promise
LOVELY COMMENTS MADE ME MAKE A THING.
Sorry if it looks weird, I had to compress it cause I always make really fat paintings for some reason.
View on a computer for best results! My phone makes the colours look yellower, idk why.
Or use ~THIS LINK~ if you're on a phone or something.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Levi?” Eren tested as he leaned over the edge of the nest, although it was quiet and non-committed. The brunet wasn’t entirely sure what he wanted, but he was concerned that Levi’s scent might change to something more reserved when he woke. Fiddling with the edge of a half-wilted leaf, emerald eyes shut as he took in the fragrance of warmed wine.
One of Eren’s legs swung over the nests edge, wings spreading out for balance as he clambered over the feathery perimeter. Eren cringed at the sharp snap of a twig under his heel, he had forgotten to take his boots off before falling asleep. There was no movement. Successfully getting both legs over, Eren carefully crouched down besides the sleeping alpha, settling flat on his knees.
Chocolate brown hair dangled to the side as Eren’s head tilted, curiously examining the expanse of blackness the was flopped in front of him. His hand reached out, only just touching his fingertips against the dark wing. It was soft like velvet, and surprisingly warm… perhaps Levi needed more blood-flow to illuminate his eyespots.
Turquoise eyes moved to the dark burgundy ovals, which looked more akin to aged flower petals now. There was a subtle sheen to them, wet almost. Eren recalled that they had felt greasy when he touched them the last time. Could it be to make the eyespots appear more life-like?
While these observations were interesting, the omega’s focus was elsewhere.
Eren sniffed, attempting to locate the source of the delicious scent. Adding his other hand, the brunet gradually lifted the inky-black wing, trying his best not to disturb the owner as he peeked underneath. Levi was laying on his side. The shadowed face wasn’t given much attention, green eyes locked straight onto Levi’s neck instead. There.
Levi shifted, startling Eren when the wing suddenly slipped out of his fingers and raised up.
Eren’s head tilted back as he followed the movement. The black appendage flicked in the air, a smooth undulation, and then… it was coming back down like an enormous flipper. Eren gasped and leaned back, only just avoiding a slap to the head as it settled over Levi’s face again, the end of the wing curling slightly to prevent further disturbance. Levi’s forewings seemed to be much more flexible than Eren’s own, capable of waving with the fluidity of a flag in the wind.
Undeterred, Eren decided to try a different approach and shuffled further down. He took the bottom of Levi’s wing in his hands again. There was more resistance this time, but he still managed to tilt it up enough. Bowing his head and wiggling up, Eren gradually covering himself with the curtain of night.
With Levi’s wing successfully draped over him, there were no more barriers standing between Eren and what he sought. Except perhaps personal boundaries… but the omega currently didn’t care too much about those, not with the enticing scent of spiced wine laying directly in front of him. Snuffling, Eren craned his neck to get a little closer, and quickly found an ideal spot beneath the alpha’s jaw line. A happy trill chimed out.
The vocalisation made Levi stir, his body jerking awake and a threatening snarl. It was a frightening noise, the ferocious hiss accompanied by a deep growling that made Eren freeze up. The brunet pulled back with closed eyes, scared and worried that Levi would be angry with him. Eren wasn’t sure why he had felt so compelled to get close to the alpha, being a fairy did not necessarily mean that Levi wasn’t dangerous… but he’d just smelt so nice.
Realising that the presumed intruder was in fact his guest, Levi’s snarls cut off abruptly. The omega’s distressed scent caused a tightening feeling in his chest. Levi cooed quietly, soft and apologetic.
Emerald eyes cracked open upon hearing the sound, relieved that the alpha wasn’t mad. Levi must’ve just been startled to wake with someone so close to him. That was understandable, Eren had been nosing at his most vulnerable area, someone less friendly could easily end a life from that position.
Warm light spread over the omega as the living blanket lifted, shifting away to settle elsewhere. With the artificial darkness removed, he was finally able to get a proper look at Levi’s face, seeing details that he hadn’t been able to make out the previous night.
He was much paler than what Eren had imagined, skin like matte porcelain. Inky-black hair that matched his wings, the contrasting stands falling against his face like a frame, and a pair of elegantly thin eyebrows. His facial structure was just as sharp and angular as Eren remembered. But out of everything, Levi’s eyes were certainly the most captivating.
They were a sterling silver with just a touch of blue, the colour iridescent and magnetic in quality. The chrome irises stood out, pronounced by a thin ring of blackness around the edges of Levi’s eyelids. It wasn’t clear whether he simply had a copious amount of extraordinarily thick eyelashes or if it was actually a skin pigmentation, but it was very striking. Eren had seen something similar on a few nocturnal species, perhaps it was related to the alpha’s ability to see in the dark. He was beautiful, really.
A quiet snuffling stole Eren’s attention. His eyes dropped down, watching Levi’s pale nose twitch as he scented the air.
Levi took several breaths, deep and in quick succession as he leaned closer.
It was a little startling when Levi suddenly buried his face in Eren’s neck, the omega letting out a squeak of surprise as hot puffs of air tickled at his skin. Eren knew that it wasn’t at all safe to have an alpha’s mouth, likely equip with a deadly set of fangs, so close to his throat, but surprisingly he didn’t mind it very much. Levi wouldn’t bite… he just wanted to smell. Which was only fair, considering that Eren had all but helped himself.
A soft rumbling started up, not a threat this time but rather a content sound, low and pleased. Levi was purring. It vibrated against Eren’s neck, a subtle tingle on his skin among the alpha’s heavy breaths. The gentle noise was relaxing, up until the moment that Eren felt something brush over the scent gland beneath his ear.
Eren tensed up. That area was very sensitive, and he was unsure about the touch, even though he was certain it was only Levi’s nose. This no longer seemed like just smelling. Feeling a firm pressure on his shoulder, the omega’s eyes flicked down to see a hand pushing against him. Levi was trying to roll them. No… Levi was trying to get on top of him.
Alarmed, Eren yelped in protest as he shuffled away, his knees and palms digging into the wiry grass floor until he was well out of the alpha’s reach. The reaction was probably a bit excessive, but his instincts warned that letting Levi pin him would be a critical mistake. Viridian wings twitched behind him, anxiously awaiting the reaction.
Levi sat up with the crunch of a leaf. Confused, disorientated and quite frankly annoyed by the sudden loss of omega. Looking to the startled brunet, he suddenly realised what had happened. “Eren,” Wings of midnight unfurled from where they were resting, righting themselves behind him before drooping down, crestfallen. “I didn’t mean to...”
Satisfied that Levi was making no move to follow him, Eren released a heavy sigh as he ran a finger over his necklace. “No, that’s okay… It was my fault.” He admitted quietly. Considering that Levi had awoken to an omega snuggling up to him, his behaviour was only natural. Reserved even. Eren’s unbridled curiosity had once again driven him to act recklessly. He sat properly on the dried grass, cross-legged. “I shouldn’t have snuck up on you or gotten so close, especially while you were sleeping… sorry.”
Black wings perked up. The sharp apexes pointing towards the ceiling, pleased that he hadn’t spooked the omega too much. “It’s fine.” Silence, and then a deep hum came from Levi. Standing up, he turned to glance down at the thoroughly messed up nest. “Did you sleep well?”
Emerald eyes blinked, Levi was smaller than he had expected. Those widely set eyespots had given him a large and imposing presence, but his body was actually rather lean. Shorter, too, but the alpha still looked powerful despite it. His body was undoubtedly in top condition. Eren’s wings fluttered as he followed Levi’s gaze, embarrassed by how much he’d seemed to twist and turn during the night, leaving the mound of feathers in disarray. “Yeah, I did.”
All hope he had of it going unnoticed vanished instantly. The brunet watched as Levi fussed around the nest, rearranged it with expert precision, entwining the feathers and wilted leaves with the odd twig or blade of grass. Looking up, Eren realised that the alpha had likely built this entire structure on his own. It must have taken an awfully long time and a great deal of skill. Eren was impressed.
Within his colony, large groups of fairies usually worked together to make new hollows in the tree trunks, but that didn’t seem like an option for Levi. He had said there were only a few others that lived nearby. Eren wondered if he ever felt lonely...
Shifting one more feather, Levi was satisfied with the condition of the nest. He liked to keep his home tidy. Leaving the mound alone, silver eyes turned to Eren, intrigued. “Why are your wings so bright? I asked before, but you never told me.”
Eren chirped in confusion from where he sat, head tilting sideways. The question made more sense than when Levi had asked last night, but the brunet still wasn’t sure of how to answer. “I just do,” Eren said, shrugging with his shoulders. “But if you want a reason… most omegas have beautiful wings, although mine are a bit bolder than usual.”
“Is that why you smell good, too?” Levi asked, his sharp eyes narrowing as the brunet nodded, suspicious. “I know an omega, my friend... but her scent is boring, and her wings look like rotten lily-pads.”
The muscles of Eren’s abdomen twitched, lips pulling into a tight line to preventing a giggle from escaping. Laughing at Levi’s friend would be rude, but the description had been quite humorous, especially with the serious tone he’d used. It sounded as though Levi had only met a single omega before Eren came along, but the brunet supposed that it made sense considering the low number of fairies in the area. Which also means that Levi doesn’t have a mate. Eren blinked, surprised by the thought that had popped into his head. “Do you like my wings, then?”
“I do. The colour is easy to see, because of the blue I think.” Silver eyes traced the outline of Eren’s wings, considering the composition. “Gold helps, too.”
“Helps?” Eren asked.
“Most things are boring to look at, dull and faded. Gold holds the colour together.” Levi said, circling behind the brunet to examine the appendages closer. “I’ve never seen vibrancy like this before, shining even in the dark.” He reached out, finger tips ghosting over one of the delicate emerald wings. “Beautiful…”
Eren's wing twitched from the barely-there touch, his face warming into a blush at the compliment. The words sounded strange, so he turned to look over his shoulder at Levi. “But there’s lots of pretty things outside,” Eren said, remembering glossy yellow buttercups and the bumblebee that had inadvertently led him here. “Mainly flowers, but some insects look nice too.”
A short hum, dismissive. “They don’t look very pretty to me.”
Eren’s eyebrows pinched together, confused but also worried. “Is there something wrong with your eyes?”
“No,” Levi replied quickly, abandoning the viridian wings to walk in front of the brunet and look down at him. “It’s always been like that.” He paused to think, taking a few seconds to formulate a hypothesis. “My eyes are best in the dark, so… maybe I don’t see colours the same as you.”
“Oh.” That made sense, he supposed. Eren decided not to enquire any further even though he was curious, it was probably a difficult thing to explain. The fact that his wings seemed to suit Levi’s vision put a tiny smile on the brunet’s face.
The pair of metallic eyes had drifted lower, Eren realised, and were now staring rather intently at his neck… did Levi like the beads on his necklace? It wouldn’t be surprising, Levi had already expressed his fondness of golden colours. “Are you a different type of fairy?” Eren asked, intrigued by the alpha’s unique features. They were the same, but also quite different.
“I don’t know.” Levi replied.
Eren huffed, unsatisfied by the response. “What do you mean, you don’t know?”
“I mean that I don’t know. I’m not a lore-keeper,” Black wings undulated, waving in the air as Levi spoke. “This is just what I’m like.” He raised an eyebrow, curious and a little bit snarky. “What kind of fairy are you?”
“Um…” Eren paused, thinking for a moment but coming up blank. All the brunet knew was the life he had. “I don’t know, either... I’m just a fairy.”
Levi hummed flatly, the answer wasn’t very insightful. He sniffed, head turning to look out the entrance and squinting at the harsh sunlight. “Are you hungry?” Silver irises flicked back to Eren. “I can find something for you.”
“No, but thanks.” He said, giving Levi a warm smile. While Eren was feeling a bit peckish and the offer was appreciated, there was something far more important on his mind. The entire colony would be trying to find him, especially since his best friend just so happened to be involved with the commander. Eren frowned, imagining about how worried his mother must be. She probably thought that he’d been snatched up by hungry cat.
“What’s wrong?” Levi’s asked abruptly as his sooty-black wings raised, alarmed by the omega’s sudden change in mood. “You smell upset… are you sure you don’t want anything?”
“It’s nothing like that, I just…” A dejected sigh left Eren’s lips. He wanted to spend more time with Levi, but it wasn’t fair to leave his friends and family worrying about his safety. Emerald eyes looked up, meeting with the shimmering silver that was staring back with concern. “I need to go home now.”
That made Levi scowl, thin eyebrows pinching together as the frown pulled at his lips. He stilled, processing what Eren had said, before his voice deepened for a curt response. “No.”
Eren’s eyes went wide. “What?”
“No!” It was more assertive this time, voice louder. His wings rose high, the tips flicking out menacingly before going rigid in the air. “I don’t want you to leave. Stay here.”
Concerned by the alpha’s behaviour, Eren placed a palm on the dried grass for support as he started slowly standing up. Levi growled at the movement. A deep, throaty sound that left the brunet frozen in an awkward kneeling position. He risked a glance up, eyes timid.
Levi was blocking off the exit with outstretched wings. His lips curled with a snarl, exposing the tips of a frighteningly impressive set of fangs. The brunet hadn’t seen teeth like that before. The glistening white canines were slightly longer than any he’d seen, the structures tapering down to a dangerously sharp point that could pierce through flesh with ease. Eren’s earlier assumption had been correct. Those were lethal.
While Eren doubted that the alpha would actually harm him, it was near impossible to be sure. Levi looked, and sounded, like he was dead serious.
The persistent rumbling made it difficult to think. Eren’s instincts urged him to submit, but he fought to repress them. He couldn’t stay here forever simply because an alpha threw a tantrum. Emerald eyes flicked up again, automatically being drawn to Levi’s bared teeth.
Clearly, Eren wouldn’t be fighting his way out.
He wasn’t entirely sure what had gotten the alpha so riled up, but this display was obviously being driven by instinct. It seemed that Levi was alone most of the time and had been enjoying the company, perhaps he thought that Eren would just take off and disappear, never to be seen again… and having recently gotten a nose-full of the omega’s scent would only be aggravating it further. That probably hadn’t been the brightest idea.
Swallowing anxiously, Eren decided that appealing to the alpha’s instincts was the safest course of action. He attempted a series of frightened whimpers, a low whine in his throat that was barely audible over the warnings. Levi seemed to tone it down by half a notch, but he showed no sign of backing down. More drastic measures, then.
Curling in on himself, Eren forced out a pleading mewl that suggested he was in pain, successfully drawing the alpha’s performance to a close.
Levi’s fangs disappeared, lip lowering to cover them as his face relaxed. It quickly changed into one of panic as his eyes darted over the omega’s body, checking for injury. “Eren, are you okay?” He asked, voice husky from the throaty vocalisations.
“Yes,” Eren replied as he straightened up, examining the horrified expression on the Levi’s face. “Are you?”
Black wings lowered, the pointed tips hanging down towards the floor. “I’m sorry, I don’t know why I…”
The sentence stopped there. Either because Levi didn’t know what he had done, or he simply couldn’t bring himself to say it aloud. Regardless, it was clear that the alpha was very upset and Eren thought he should give a few words of comfort, reassure Levi that he hadn’t tried to hurt him. Deep down, Eren had known that he wouldn’t. Green eyes looked down to the floor, following the entwined strands of foliage as he considered the situation.
Despite the raven’s apparent lack of social graces and having mistaken him for an owlish monster, Eren enjoyed the short time they’d spent together. To call it interesting would be an understatement.
Levi was downright fascinating; his life was entirely different to what the brunet knew. In addition to his intriguing physiological differences, Levi also had a good character. Perhaps a bit rough around the edges, unpolished, but Eren could tell that the alpha had been trying his best to make him feel comfortable. Not to mention having saved his life… Levi could have easily flown off and left him stranded on that branch, and he’d have faced no consequences for it. But he hadn’t. Levi had trusted, brought Eren to his home, and taken a risk by letting a stranger get close enough to potentially harm him.
While Eren was somewhat confused by everything that had happened, he thought that he’d want to return. He would come back to Levi. Grass scrunched together in his clenching hand, now he just had to tell the alpha that he would. He breathed in. “It’s alright, I understand… you didn’t try to hurt me, and I didn’t think that you would.” The brunet was met with silence. He continued, turquoise eyes moving up to convey his sincerity. “You don’t need to be upset, I’m going to-” Eren stopped, blinking at an arch of sunlight.
Levi was gone.
When had he left? Eren hadn’t noticed at all, no wonder Levi had been able to sneak up on him on the branch. Flapping his wings, Eren got to his feet and rushed over to the entrance, placing his hand on the woven wall as he peered outside.
The forest looked different during the day; much less terrifying. Rays of golden sunshine filtered through the treetops, casting a mosaic of intricate leafy patterns onto the overgrown ground, where patches of orangey-red toadstools speckled the grass. The vegetation was different to his own forest, a notably higher proportion of moss and ferns, vines winding around the tree trunks like breath-crushing tendrils. Coarse bark was darkened by the remaining wetness, freshly fallen raindrops rolling off the leaves and gracefully dripping down to Earth. Despite the inconvenience and hazards that came with rain, Eren enjoyed the refreshing atmosphere it left behind, the crisp scent of watered soil.
There was no sign of the black-winged fairy, and a strange ache in Eren’s chest seemed to reduce the scenery’s beauty. Levi must be a lot swifter without a night-blinded omega trailing him.
Alone once again, Eren worried his lip as his eyes scanned the canopy. Did Levi want him to leave now? The brunet felt awful to go without saying goodbye… but without knowing where the alpha had gone or when he would return, there was simply no choice. Eren’s loved ones were waiting for him, worried. Viridian wings fluttered as Eren fully emerged from the hanging nest, preparing to take off.
Examining the forest some more, Eren realised that he had no clue where he was. To get back to the meadow, he had to fly west from the branch he was on last night… but where was that? While following Levi in the dark, the omega hadn’t been able to tell which direction they were going in or make out any landmarks. It had been a long flight with several deviations.
Eren sighed as he stepped back into the shelter, begrudgingly accepting his fate. He needed Levi to show him the way back. The alpha would surely remember where he’d found him, Eren just hoped that he didn’t take too long to return.
Waiting was tedious, incredibly dull without anyone to talk to. It was impossible to say what Levi might be doing, perhaps he felt guilty about his behaviour or just wanted to clear his head, but he was certainly taking his sweet time. The alpha clearly wasn’t aware of Eren’s predicament.
Unsure of what to do while he waited, Eren had taken a short nap in the nest, huddled among fluffy feathers that carried the lingering smell of fermented grapes. It was soothing, but the omega was unable to sleep long due to the time of day and the troublesome worries on his mind. Was Levi okay? What would happen if he didn’t come back? Rolling onto his side, he petted the glossy feather that he’d taken a liking to as he sniffed at the alpha’s fading scent. Eren could smell himself there too, his sweet fragrance of peaches with hint of ginger. Mixed together with Levi’s scent… it smelt like desert wine, an aromatic port. The sugary tartness was tantalising…
Eren sat up in the mound of feathers, seeking a distraction from his spiralling thoughts. He settled on tidying the interior of Levi’s home. After scoping out the area, the brunet fluttered around to collect pieces of grass that looked too old. Brown and wilted. He plucked them out with careful fingers, not wanting to disturb the structured matrix too much, and unceremoniously discarded the material out the entrance. Fresh grass would need to be added in compensation, but Eren doubted that would be a problem. Levi would have needed to do this soon, anyways.
As time passed on, the quick tidy-up evolved into full maintenance. Clumped handfuls of dead plant material were thrown out the entrance, falling apart mid-air and sending blades of grass flittering down to the forest floor. Eren considered going out to find replacements himself, but Levi likely used a specific material to suit his preferences.
Turquoise eyes shifted to the nest. His nap had ruffled the feathers a bit. Eren remembered watching Levi rearrange the entwining feathers and was sure that he could do the same… perhaps he could make it even better for the alpha.
Eren’s head snapped towards the entrance, alert. The voice had been feminine. “Hello…?” He called back, tone wavering with uncertainty.
A face suddenly popped down from the top of the opening, scruffy red hair dangling upside-down as a pair of forest-green eyes examining him for a few seconds. The newcomer fell, managing to right themselves in the air and land on their feet with a crunch, the fast movement making Eren squeak as he took a cautious step backwards.
With a clear view, Eren determined that this fairy was indeed a female. She had swamp-green wings with a few spots of murky brownish-orange, the overall colour almost dirty in appearance… This must be the rotten lily-pad fairy.
“Who are you?” She asked. “What are you doing here?”
Eren’s eyes darted around, made nervous by the series of questions. He realised that he must look incredibly suspicious, having just been caught renovating a home that did not belong to him. “I’m Eren. And I’m, um… friends, with Levi.” Both of her eyebrows raised at that, surprised, but she seemed to believe him. “Do you know where he is?” Eren asked.
“Not here, I’m guessing.” The red-head hummed as she glanced around, eyes eventually landing back on Eren. “Name’s Isabel,” A smirk spread across her face. “I saw you dumping stuff outside and thought some naughty critter was tearing this place apart.”
“I was cleaning while I waited for him to come back.” Eren explained, he wouldn’t want her to think that he’d been damaging anything. Inspected the new fairy some more, Eren noticed that her appearance was closer to Levi’s than his own. The swamp coloured wings weren’t black by any means, but they were quite dark and would blend into the forest perfectly. Isabel was also on the pale side, although her skin had slightly more colour, and she too had that thin ring of blackness around her eyes. While looking at them, Eren realised that she was studying him in return.
“Where’d you come from, anyways?” She asked, eyebrows quirking with curiosity. “You look different. Are you some kinda fancy-fairy, or something?”
“I’m from another forest. I got lost yesterday, and… Levi helped me. He brought me here to take shelter from the rain.” That was the condensed version, but it was previously decided that Isabel didn’t require all the details. Eren sniffed, noticing that she had a faint herby scent. Rosemary was the most prominent.
“Well, you’re lucky it was Levi who found you.” Isabel said. Her wings gave a powerful flap that propeled her across the room, making herself at home and settling on a cushion of dried grass. “That storm was nasty, my mate and I have a lot of repairs to do on our own nest.” Head lulling back, she inspected the ceiling. “Looks like this place is fine, though… Levi must’ve reinforced it after the sparrow incident.”
“Oh!” Her head raised back up, an excited smile covering her face. “Yeah, it’s so funny. This silly sparrow kept pinching grass and twigs from here, it came around every few days and pulled big chunks out of the walls.” Isabel’s wings twitched as she snickered to herself. “Levi taught it a lesson once he figured out who was responsible for the damage, I doubt it’ll ever come back after that!”
Eren blinked. “Levi beat up a bird?”
“Only a little bit,” Forest-green eyes glanced over to the nest. “Where’d you think he got all those feathers from?” Eren’s jaw dropped in shock, eliciting a loud bout of laughter from the red-head. He didn’t know whether she was serious or not, but he was certainly not going to answer that question. Once the fit came to an end and she settled, Isabel gave him a questioning look. “You don’t know where he’s gone, then?”
“No, I don’t.” Eren replied, eyes shifting to a random twig that was resting peacefully on the floor. “He… went out. A while ago.”
“Weird, he tends to avoid going out during the day,” Isabel folded her arms, reclining back on the pile of grass with a deep sigh, considering. “I’m not usually up at this time, either. But with the storm last night, there wasn’t much else to do besides sleep through it. I guess Levi did the same.”
Eren hummed in response, he hadn’t the faintest idea what time the alpha had fallen asleep last night, but it probably hadn’t taken too long for him to grow bored of watching the rain. Truthfully, he suspected that Levi had only been sitting there to put distance between them, to make the omega feel safe enough to fall asleep.
Still worried, Eren concluded that talking to Isabel about it might be a good idea. They were friends after all. Viridian wings twitched nervously, not wanting her to think that he’d intentionally upset Levi. Eventually, the brunet found his courage. “He left because… something happened.” Isabel turned to him, eyes demanding further details. “I told him that I had to go home. And he, um… got angry. He tried to stop me from leaving.”
“Really?” Isabel asked, leaning towards him. “That’s unusual. Levi’s usually quite docile… although, he can be a bit touchy sometimes. I guess he must like you.” She smiled, red bangs shifting to the side as her head tilted. “But I’m not surprised, I’m thrilled to meet someone new as well. It’s been the same crowd around here for as long as I can remember, it’s pretty lucky that my mate happened to be included in that.”
The brunet nodded along with the words, he had already known that Isabel was an omega like himself. Except she had already found a mate, which would probably be why Levi thought her scent was so boring. The dull smell of unavailability. Eren personally enjoyed the herby fragrance, it was homey, reminiscent of a soup that his mother liked to make.
“Right, that’s enough about me.” Isabel continued. “You said you’re from a different forest, what’s that like? I’ve never ventured very far from here, I didn’t know there were fairies like you.”
“The plants are the biggest difference, from what I’ve seen.” Eren replied. “And we live in hollowed out tree-trunks, instead of nests like this.”
“Aye?” Isabel gaped. “In the wood? How do you manage that?”
“We work together, it’s not too difficult when you divide the labour among a large group.” He paused, considering what topic to broach next. It would be interesting to see just how similar she was to Levi. “Can you see in the dark, too?”
“Yeah? Of course.” Red eyebrows scrunched together, baffled by the question. “You’re a strange one, Eren.”
It seemed that Eren was the abnormal fairy to them, what an odd notion. Eren was about to enquire about Isabel’s wings, but the crunch of dried grass stole his attention. It had sounded sharp and heavy, as if something had made impact with the side of the nest… hopefully not the fabled sparrow returning for vengeance. His head perked up, ears twitching and alert.
A flash of blackness came from the side of the entrance, then successive flapping accompanied by a breeze of wind as Levi landed. The alpha approached, silver eyes dancing over Eren’s face. “You’re still here.” His voice sounded surprised, but also pleased to see that the omega hadn’t left.
“Big bro!” Isabel shouted. The sudden exclamation startled Levi, who hadn’t taken notice of the second occupant. “Where’ve you been? It’s not polite to ditch your guests, you know.”
Levi frowned at her. “Why are you awake?”
“Slept through the storm.” She provided, smiling brightly despite the alpha’s look of displeasure. “I just came to make sure you hadn’t drowned or anything; our nest took quite a beating overnight.” Isabel winked, her head tilting towards Eren. “But then I met your new friend and decided to keep him company while you were absent.”
“I’m not going to thank you for it.” Levi said, releasing an exhausted sigh as midnight wings stretched behind him. “If your nest is damaged, shouldn’t you be helping Farlan repair it?”
“Ah…” Isabel blinked. “Yeah, probably… I better go.” She turned to Eren with a radiant smile, friendly and elated. “Nice meeting you, Eren. Get home safely!” Isabel jumped up and rushed towards Levi, ensnaring him in a rather awkward-looking hug. “You should come see us tonight.”
“Maybe. You smell like stagnant pond water.”
Turquoise eyes watched as Isabel galloped towards the exit and swan-dived out, taking to the skies with a squeal of excitement, her murky-green wings vanishing among the treetops.
With their energetic visitor gone, the brunet quickly found Levi’s gaze, remorse swirling in his metallic irises. “Are you feeling better?” Eren asked.
“Yes.” Levi replied as he took a step closer, hesitantly. “I’m sorry, Eren. I wouldn’t hurt you… but I hate that I frightened you like that.”
“It’s okay. I wasn’t that scared… more worried, really.” He said quietly. “But why did you take off?”
The alpha sighed, the dried grass crinkling as he sat down in front of Eren. “No, it’s not okay. I’ve never done that before.” Levi ran a hand through his hair, humming deeply as the black strands fell back over his face. “I think… being in here with your scent all night was messing with my head, I needed air.” Silver eyes shifted up to meet with turquoise. “And I wanted to give you a chance to leave without seeing me.” Levi took a deep breath, his expression softening with fondness. “I’m… glad that you stayed.”
Eren hadn’t actually had a choice in the matter, but Levi didn’t need to know that. “I still need to leave.” Eren stated, wanting to make sure the alpha understood.
“I know.” Black wings shifted, waving slightly before settling again. “It was wrong of me to suggest otherwise. I’m sure you have family, friends… people waiting for you. Of course, you need to leave.” Levi sighed again, a dejected sound as he shrugged lazily. “We’ve only known each other for half a day or so, most of which was spent unconscious. You didn’t even have a choice in coming here. I don’t know what I was thinking earlier, telling you to stay… it was ridiculous.”
Eren listened carefully, it seemed that Levi had regained his logic during his outing. While Eren agreed with the words, he also couldn’t deny that he felt drawn to Levi in some way. “I understand… I enjoyed spending time with you, too.” The alpha’s wings perked up at that, starting their intriguing swaying movement again. Levi’s face was usually void of emotion, but his wings were incredibly expressive, even though Eren didn’t know how to interpret the gestures. “I would probably stay longer if I could. But you’re right, my colony thinks I’m lost, dead even.” Green eyes watched the inky-blank appendages sway from left to right. “I’ll come back to visit you, soon.”
“You will?” Levi asked, hopeful with a touch of scepticism.
“I will, promise.” Eren smiled brightly as silver eyes flittered over his face, it seemed as if Levi was thinking about something.
Levi averted his gaze, staring at a random spot on the grassy wall. “You should go now… to make it home before the sun starts to set.”
“Um, about that…” The omega looked away too, inspecting a twig on the floor that was a decidedly interesting shape. His voice lowered, timid. “Can you fly with me to that branch please?”
“You-” The alpha’s black eyebrows came together, a thin crease forming between them. “You don’t remember the way, do you?”
Sucking on his cheek for a moment, Eren considered the probability of being tested on it if he lied. Deciding it wasn’t worth the risk, he replied simply. “That is correct.” Levi squinted at him, suspicious, surely realising now that Eren couldn’t have left even if he’d wanted to. The omega cleared his throat under the scrutinising glare. “Shall we go, then?”
“Fine.” Getting to his feet, Levi huffed incredulously as he eyed the brunet. Wings of midnight stretched out, preparing to take flight once more.
Eren followed him to the exit and peeked out, checking the sky, while Levi thoughtlessly hurled himself over the edge in a flapping mass of blackness.
Through the canopy, the sun appeared to be directly above or somewhere close, which meant that there was plenty of time to make it home. A grumpy warble drew the brunet’s gaze down, and he was greeted by Levi’s figure hovering in the distance, arms crossed and face impatient. Eren hadn’t realised how moody the alpha was.
Leaping off the crisp nest with a kick, viridian wings fluttered as Eren caught up, although it didn’t last long. Levi fell backwards into a spin, darting between tree trunks and assemblages of leaves as the brunet struggled to keep up.
Eren managed to get altitude over him again, Levi seemed to prefer flying low. Looking down on the black sails, he was amazed by their flexibility as they tilted to catch wind beneath them, much like the wing of a bird. Eren smiled, remembering the alpha’s silver streaks that he had mistaken for comically large whiskers. It looked completely different now, Levi was elegant and graceful as he effortlessly cut through the air.
Following the same route in the daylight, it was clear just how many obstacles Eren could have collided with in the dark of night. Many wooden trunks, as expected, but also hanging foliage and skeleton fingers of hanging branches, all off which could have smacked the omega straight out of the sky or snagged on his fragile wings. Levi must’ve taken great care to lead him safely.
A unique trill caught his attention, high and harmonious, a melodic chiming. His eyes fell down to Levi, who had tilted slightly to look up at him, pools of sterling silver peeking out from beneath a jet-black wing. The meaning of the vocalisation was lost on Eren, it was unfamiliar to him, but the pitch had implied that it was a positive sound. The brunet took a moment to enjoy the sensation of flight, the refreshingly cold air blowing against his skin, the dewy smell of a forest post-rain. Perhaps Levi was enjoying it, too.
The journey back was much faster, and soon they found themselves back at their branch of meeting. The brunet didn’t recognise it, but Levi was adamant that it was the correct one. Eren gracefully touched down on the bark, chestnut hair ruffling as the alpha’s wings directed a gust of air his way while landing. Green wings twitched, Eren suddenly felt nervous about saying goodbye and wondered what he was supposed to do.
Emerald eyes turned to Levi, who was already staring back at him. Expectant, but not moving at all. Chewing on his lip with uncertainty, Eren eventually decided to approach, walking forward until he was within the alpha’s reach. Taking the final step, Eren tentatively reached out to wrap his arms over Levi’s shoulders. Levi responded instantly, looping his arms around the brunet’s waist, embracing him in return.
Eren pressed himself against Levi’s firm chest, feeling the warmth radiating off him. His head bowed to rest on the alpha’s shoulder, thoroughly enjoying the comforting closeness. Breathing deep, he took in the alluring scent of spiced wine. Eren would miss it. Levi started shifting, although it wasn’t to escape the contact, instead he was nuzzling, rubbing his face and neck against the omega’s chocolate hair rather vigorously.
Eren chirped happily, liking the strange form of attention, and was surprised to hear a gentle vibration start up in the alpha’s chest. Purring again, he thought, smiling as he listened to the satisfied sound. “Thank you.”
“You’ll come back?” Levi asked, voice a bit rough as he continued pressing the side of his neck against messy brown hair.
Eren lifted his head, eliciting an irritated grunt from the alpha as his nuzzling was cut short. Withdrawing his arms and attempting to step back, Eren heard the purring come to an abrupt stop as Levi’s grip tightened around his waist. “I promised, didn’t I?”
The alpha gave a weak nod, reluctantly releasing his hold. “Goodbye, Eren…” Levi said as he turned, pushing off the bark with a powerful wing-beat.
Green eyes watched his figure disappear within the leaves. That went far better than expected, Eren thought, having not heard a single growl during their farewell. Levi had sounded downhearted, though… as if he didn’t believe that Eren would return. The unsavoury thought was forced away, replaced with determination to make it home to his mother before sun set. Emerald winds spread wide as Eren took to the sky again, following the sun west towards the meadow.
I haven't made a wing design because I spent ages on the other image, oops!
~Fluffyboot's 10 second biology lesson~
Eyes have two types of cells; cones and rods. Animals that can see well at night have more rod cells and less cone cells. The trade-off is that they can see less colour.
Leave a comment, I love hearing what you think!
Chapter 4: Stories
FLUFFYBOOTS RETURNS! Yes, I am free from exams!
Thanks so much for all the comments and support, it honestly means so much & definitely motivates me to write! It's amazing that you're enjoying my story, and I really hope you like this chapter!
Here is art I made of Eren, nothing amazing but yeeeeah.
Or click on ~THIS LINK~ to see it on a phone or whatever you're using.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The sun was preparing to sink into the horizon, gradually disappearing behind the distant trees. The air was still save for the odd breeze that rolled over the field and made the daisies dance, their white petals swaying on slender stems. Thin fingers ran along a blade of grass; the texture was smooth despite the fuzziness.
Wings of ocean-blue move closer, the rich colour that represented affection and happiness now an omen of despair. “It’s time to go back.”
Armin looked up from where he sat on the grass, blonde strands of hair falling to the side as he met the alpha’s eyes. “Just a little bit longer,” He whispered, desperate. “Please?”
Erwin sighed to himself. It was impossible to deny the omega’s requests, especially in regard to this. “Very well.” Inspecting the dispirited fairy, Erwin entertained the thought of scooping him up and attempting to console him, but he kept a respectable distance instead. Armin had already expressed his desire to sit alone. While it was somewhat disappointing that the omega hadn’t turned to him for comfort, he understood that Armin’s mind was elsewhere. “But we must leave soon, before the sun gets too low.”
Icy blue wings fluttered, the glassy surface reflecting a subtle pink. “I know… thanks,” Armin said as his fingers glided along the grass, eyes shifting back to the warming sky. The sunset was going to be beautiful, he thought. With the dampness of rain in the air to scatter the light, the burning orange would glow like heated iron.
He watched it as time went by, fearful of another night passing.
The alert tone gained Armin’s attention, blue eyes shifted back to find Erwin staring straight over his head. Turning to look behind him, the omega gasped at the sight of green wings fluttering in the sky. “Eren!” Armin shouted as he scrambled to his feet, bouncing on the spot as he raised his arms and tried to get the brunet’s attention. “Down here!” He watched as Eren begun swinging his arm in the air, waving hello. The grand gesture was silly and cheerful, as if he hadn’t been missing or presumed dead. Armin felt a pang in his chest, tears threatening to spill from his eyes.
Eren smiled as he descended from the sky, glad to see that his friend had been waiting for him. The journey had taken longer than he remembered, perhaps due to the rumbling that had started in his stomach along the way. In hindsight, he really should have taken up the offer of breakfast before departing. Boots touched down on the ground, the gust from Eren’s wings blowing the surrounding grass as he found balance. Turquoise eye looked ahead, seeing the blonde omega running towards him with the grace of a new-born foal.
“Eren!” Armin cried, followed by a joyous trill as he flung his arms around the brunet.
The sudden impact to his chest made Eren stumble backwards, viridian wings flapping to prevent them for falling over as he returned the tender embrace. Peeking over Armin’s shoulder, he watched the taller blonde approach with much more elegance. “Commander Erwin,” Eren said, greeting him with a smile. “No offense, but I was expecting a larger search party.”
“None taken,” Erwin replied, coming to a stop near the pair of omegas. “We had several groups looking for you in the morning, but it was called off as we didn’t know which direction you might’ve gone in.” His eyes flicked to blonde for a moment, then returned to Eren. “Armin insisted on staying here in case you managed to find your way back, clearly he had the… right idea,” Erwin finished with a grimace, nose scrunching up as if he’d just bitten into a lemon.
“Oh god…” Armin whispered into Eren’s shoulder. Gingerly retracting his arms, he took a step a back and looked to the alpha. “Go ahead. We need a minute.”
Baffled green eyes watched as Erwin obeyed without question, not saying a word as he promptly took off on regal sapphire wings. Armin was wearing a strange expression. An awkward blend of panic and sympathy, and his face looked a shade paler too. Hopefully Armin wasn’t about to tell him off, Eren didn’t feel like being scolded for his carelessness right now. Surely the lecture could wait until after he’d had dinner and a nap.
“Eren, what happened?” Armin’s voice was gentle and calm, but his glassy wings fidgeted with anxiety. “Are you… are you okay?”
“Yeah, can’t you see that?” Eren replied, holding his arms out to show the blonde that he’d suffered no injuries. Armin was overreacting a bit, he was obviously well enough to fly. Oddly, the blonde’s scent remained alarmed despite Eren’s assurances.
“You can tell me if… something happened, you know?” Armin said slowly, taking care with the words.
The brunet’s head tilted with confusion. It seemed like there was a purpose for these questions, a specific concern. “What are you talking about?”
“Eren.” Armin’s tone went quiet, carrying an air of seriousness. Pale blue eyes dropped down to the grass. “It’s obvious that someone has scent-marked you, an alpha. So… just tell me, please.”
Brown eyebrows pinched together. Eren didn’t remember anything like that happening, and he was certain that they hadn’t touched their necks together. They hadn’t touched much at all, really, except for when he’d felt Levi’s face, and also during their goodbye... It must be his hair, Eren thought. The alpha’s fervent nuzzling had been a little suspicious. He sighed, Levi was still managing to cause trouble despite the distance between them.
“Did they do anything to you?” Armin asked. “Did they… hurt you?”
“No!” His hands raised in defense. “He helped me,” Eren said. “I got lost and it was going to rain, he took me somewhere safe, probably saved my life.” Fingers ran through his hair as he sniffed, detecting Levi’s unmistakable scent that stubbornly clung to the brown strands. Eren was surprised by the strength of it, how hadn’t he noticed earlier? He looked back to Armin. “We, um… hugged, it must be from that. It might’ve been an accident, I’m not sure.”
“A hug?” Armin repeated quietly, eyes leaving the grass to meet turquoise again. Two hands raised and covered his face, smothering a sound caught between a groan and a sob.
“I’m sorry,” Armin squeaked, the words muffled by his palms. “You were gone overnight and came back with an alpha’s scent all over you, I thought he might’ve…” Lowering his hands, the blonde shook his head to dispel the sickening thoughts. “It doesn’t matter, that’s not what happened. Listen, I… I didn’t mean to leave you yesterday. You just disappeared, we all thought that you’d gotten bored and gone home. By the time I realised, it was too dark to go looking for you...” Armin blinked tears out of his eye. “I’m so sorry.”
“It wasn’t your fault… you didn’t know, it was just an accident.” Eren placed a hand on the blonde’s shoulder, squeezing gently. “We should get going before Erwin comes back to tell us off,” He said. “And I need to see my mother. I bet she was up all-night worrying.”
“She was, I was with her.” Armin gave a weary smile, imagining how elated Carla was going to be. It had seemed like an endless night; the horrible storm further instilling the thought that Eren would never return. Carla had been inconsolable. The hand on his shoulder disappeared as the brunet made to take off. “Wait,” Armin said, icy wings fluttering behind him. “Before you go home, you should try to wash that smell off.”
Eren stilled, turning his head to meet blue eyes again. “Why?”
“I just think it’s a good idea,” Armin replied.
“But nothing happened, I told you,” Eren said, mildly irritated. He ran a hand through his hair again, the scent of wine becoming stronger due to the disturbance. “Levi didn’t do anything wrong. There’s no reason for me to lie about what happened.”
“I’m not suggesting that you lie, Eren.” Armin sighed, his breath carried away by a light breeze. “If Carla smells it, she’ll jump to conclusions and assume something awful. You can tell her everything that happened, about um… Levi, if you want to. But the scent would just freak her out, she’s already distraught.”
Eren sucked on his cheek, considering the suggestion. It would be terrible if his mother thought that an alpha had abducted him for the night. It wasn’t entirely clear what Armin had assumed, but he’d seemed to think Eren might’ve been forced to do something against his will. In addition to causing needless worry, he didn’t want his mother to dislike Levi... else she might try to prevent them from seeing each other again. “Yeah, you’re right. I don’t want her to get the wrong idea before I have a chance to explain.”
The pair of omegas took off, wings flapping in unison as the colour began to drain from the sky. Eren was glad to see scenery that he recognised, a sure sign that he would soon be home. He felt a little embarrassed for having gotten lost so easily, but at least his accidental excursion hadn’t been all bad.
A smile spread over Eren’s face as they approached the stream that ran along the outskirts of their forest, the light of the burning sunset reflecting off the transparent surface. Armin pointed at the water and descended towards to, delicately landing on a smooth rock that bordered the creek. Eren followed, his smile vanishing along the way.
“I’ll keep a look-out for frogs!” Armin announced from atop his perch of stone, surveying the area for danger as Eren landed on the riverbank below.
Staring at the water, Eren decided that it appeared to be clean. It usually was in that area, but heavy rain and wind could disturb the sediment and push all sorts of unpleasant things into it. Taking a step closer to the trickling stream, Eren’s legs came to a sudden stop.
Generally, he had no problem with getting wet, but this time felt different. The crickets had stopped singing, replaced only by the loud rush of water, and the light gleaming off the surface wasn’t at all welcoming. It reflected back at him, the colour threatening despite its warmth… this water wanted to wash Levi away.
“You okay?” Armin called after a few seconds. He squinted down at the other fairy, raising a hand to shield his eyes from the dying sunlight. “It’s not that cold. Just do it, it’ll be twilight soon.”
“Yeah… right,” Eren said, pushing aside his odd emotions as he stepped up to the streams edge. Sandy grains crunched as the brunet got down on his knees, moving fast to avoid thinking about it any further, and flopped forward as he dunked his head into the frigid water. Armin had lied, it was freezing. The cold prickled at Eren’s face, skin beginning to go numb as he vigorously scrubbed his hair, the strands floating in the water like a viscous chocolate cloud. Whipping out of the stream, sparkling droplets scattered through the air as Eren shook his head back and forth. “Better?” He asked, exhaling sharply to prevent water from entering his mouth.
The blonde chirped as he pushed off the rock, jumping down to land besides him. Armin tilted his head as he scented the air. “I can still smell it… but only just. It’s not so alarming now." Armin straightened up with a smile. “It should be fine.”
Eren nodded. The strange uneasiness remained but he decided not to say anything, it was probably just the onset of exhaustion.
They both pushed off the riverbed with a crunch, kicking up dust as they returned to the sky. The sun had vanished now, becoming nothing but a thin orange ribbon that highlighted the edge of the horizon. It wasn’t an issue; entering the forest granted new light, strings of lanterns lining the branches of their territory. Flying at the back, Eren watched pale-blue wings flicker with iridescence as they passed by the hanging lamps, the warm glow bringing out a variety of pink and yellow hues.
While being able to see in the dark would be exceptionally useful, the burnet wouldn’t want the ability if colours were diminished. It was a shame that Levi and Isabel had to miss out on so much beauty. Eren wondered if they could still enjoy the rise and fall of the sun.
The pair soon reached Eren’s home, although it didn’t smell pleasant and welcoming like it normally did. It was stale, the tree smothered by a thick blanket of sorrow. Touching down on the bark, the brunet dashed inside the hollow with urgency, Armin following close behind.
“Mum?” Eren called as he entered, turquoise eyes scanning the interior until he found a pair of bronze wings poking out of their bed. Unlike the one he had slept in last night, their nest was made of soft cotton and the fluff of dandelion seeds, courtesy of the plants that surrounded the forest.
“Eren?” Carla squeaked. White fibres flew into the air as she abruptly sat up in the nest, turning to face the entrance. Puffy red eyes locked onto Eren with the focus of a hawk. “Eren! My baby!” She catapulted towards him with tremendous speed, the velocity startling both young omegas.
Arms wrapping around her son, Carla cooed lovingly and trilled with joy as she smothered Eren with her scent. The soothing fragrance of apricots. Her bottom lip quivered despite the sounds of happiness, grip tightening around Eren’s form. “Are you okay, darling? I was so worried. I thought, I thought…” Carla sobbed, unable to finish the sentence. “Oh, I’m so happy to see you! Where have you been? Did you get lost?” She nuzzled into chestnut hair, scent-marking him the best she could as Eren squirmed in her arms. “Your hair is damp. And… you smell strange, what is that? Were you caught in the rain? My poor baby…”
Eren whined as the air was squished out of him, tilting his head back to escape the onslaught of tears and apricots. “I’m fine… mum-” He tried to suck in a breath. “Please, you’re... crushing me…” The pleas were effective, and Eren heaved for oxygen as he was freed from the death-grip of motherly love. Carla was surprisingly strong for an omega, even considering the unique circumstances.
“Sorry… I got a bit carried away," Carla said, using the back of her hand to wipe away the tears the clung to her eyelashes.
Armin touched her shoulder, smiling with reassurance. “Don’t worry, it’s understandable.”
Now fully recovered, Eren cleared his throat before speaking. “So, what happened is… I fell into a hole, and I might’ve hit my head or something, because I got confused about where I was and flew the wrong way.” Turquoise eyes shifted to Armin, who appeared just as interested as his mother. “I ended up at a forest, a different one. It got dark and I knew it was going to rain, which was admittedly pretty scary…” Eren sincerely hoped that he wouldn’t ever fear for his life like that again. Considering what to say, the brunet decided to skip the misunderstandings and get straight to the point. “A fairy found me, and… I guess he felt like helping me due to alpha instincts, or maybe out of kindness. He took me somewhere safe for the night, then he helped me find my way back this morning.” Eren’s eyes flicked between their faces, trying to gauge the reaction to his story.
“You spent the night with an alpha?” Carla asked, the shocked tone causing both pairs of eyes to settle on her. “Is that… is that what I smelt? His scent, on you?”
“Yes,” Eren said, keeping his voice calm and steady as not to alarm her. “But don’t think anything weird, okay? Nothing happened, everything is fine.”
But Carla was alarmed, bronze wings flapping with worry for her son. “Eren, that was dangerous! He could have hurt you so easily! Are you sure he didn’t do anything? What about while you slept?”
“No!” Eren objected immediately, frowning as his eyebrows scrunched up, appalled by what she was implying. “Don’t even say things like that. Yes, I’m certain. He was kind and gentle towards me.” It was relieving to see Carla’s posture relax, reassured by the words and Eren’s sincerity. As the issue had already been resolved, he opted to leave out the growling incident. No harm had come from it. “His name is Levi… but he’s a bit strange, I guess.”
An intrigued chirp came from Armin. “What do you mean by that?”
“He’s… different,” Eren said, figuring it was a nicest way to put it. “He has flexible black wings, almost like leaves, with big red eyespots on them that light up. I met one of Levi’s friends, and they were similar to him. I couldn’t tell if her wings could glow or not, but I assume so.” Isabel’s wings had brownish spots on them, so it was plausible that they could light up. Unless it was just an alpha trait, Eren had no idea. “They can see in the dark, too.”
“Eren…” Carla said, uncertain. “He sounds like some kind of monster.”
“He’s not,” Eren replied, meeting her eyes directly. “Levi’s the same as us, just a little bit different.”
Armin tucked a blonde strand behind his ear, humming thoughtfully at the information. “I think he sounds interesting. Glowing wings… I’d love to see it for myself.”
“You can!” Eren turned to him, eyes lighting up with excitement. “I’m going to visit him soon. It’s not that far, maybe you could come with me… or I could bring him here, Levi would probably like to see how we live.”
“You want to go back?” Carla asked. “I don’t think that’s a good idea, Eren.”
Eren frowned, his gaze shifting back to her. He couldn’t understand his mother’s hesitance, it had already been established that Levi had treated him well. There was no need to be so cautious. “I promised that I would.”
“Promises can be broken. I’ve told you that danger doesn’t like to make itself known, not until it already has you in its grasps. If something happened, I wouldn’t be there to help you, I wouldn’t even…” She trailed off, sighing to herself in defeat. Carla had known that her son would eventually take interest in an alpha, but she still wasn’t prepared for it... and she certainly hadn’t expected it to a bizarre stranger from outside the colony. Even with the minimal amount of information she had about this Levi character, Carla was sure that the alpha had ulterior motives for helping her son. “I know you’re not a child anymore, Eren. I doubt I’d be able to stop you from going back.” Honey-brown eyes searched Eren’s face for understanding, her voice taking on an a more serious tone. “Just promise you’ll stay safe. Be aware of what’s going on, especially with outsiders. We don’t know how they do things, he might interpret your return as permission… that alpha could pounce on you the second an opportunity arises, especially if no one is around to stop him. Don’t be too quick to trust.”
Permission? Green eyes blinked, wondering what she’d meant by that. While Eren understood the point she was trying to make, he didn’t believe that such a thing could ever happen. Levi already had several opportunities to hurt him and hadn’t done anything… so it was safe to assume that he wouldn’t the next time, right? Still, if it made her feel more inclined to let him go without argument. “Got it. I promise to be careful.”
“Good,” Carla said with a nod of approval. Passing on her wisdom was the least she could do. “Okay, I need to go get some fresh water. I didn’t bother doing it yesterday.” She smiled before heading outside, being carried away by fluttering wings of faded bronze.
Eren sighed loudly. If he wasn’t exhausted before, he certainly was now. With sudden curiosity, Eren ruffled his drying hair to see if Levi’s scent was still noticeable. He was somewhat disappointed to only detect his mother’s overpowering fragrance, as if someone had spread a thick layer of apricot jam all over him. Feeling agitated, Eren decided to test it with another nose. “Armin, can you still smell him?”
“Huh?” Blue eyes blinked over at the sound of his name, seeing that Eren was fiddling with his hair in obvious frustration. “Oh,” Armin giggled behind his hand, finding the brunet’s struggle quite amusing. “Nope. But if you keep talking like that, I might start to think you liked having that alpha’s scent on you.”
“I just wanted to check,” Eren defended himself. “Stop projecting your fantasies onto me.”
Armin’s head tilted. “What are you talking about?”
“You smell the same as usual, like yourself.” A little smirk appeared on Eren’s face. “I bet you’re just dying to have Erwin rub his scent all over you.”
“Eren!” Armin squeaked, his face flushing a delightful shade of pink. A hand raised to conceal it, muffling a groan in the process. “That’s so embarrassing…”
The brunet snickered, pleased that he’d made Armin blush so heavily.
Eren sucked on his cheek as the heel of his boot tapped repeatedly against the floor, the sound of wood cushioned by the grass mat. It was strange to think that he had been with Levi only a few hours ago, the alpha felt so far away now. Looking down at himself, Eren realised that he had been wearing the same clothes for two days. “I’m pretty tired from flying so far,” He said, eyes shifting back to the blonde. “I think I’m going to have a huge dinner and sleep for half a day.”
“Alright.” Blue wings fluttered as Armin examined his friend. A promising idea had popped into his head, but it seemed that now wasn’t the best time. “I’ll head off, I’m tired too. See you later.”
“Bye.” Eren watched him exit the hollow and gracefully glide from the branch, taking note of the fact that Armin had flown in opposite direction to where he lived.
Immediately removing his boots, Eren groaned as his feet were finally freed from the constricting material. The necklace was next, unclasped and carefully placed with his other possessions.
Eren inspected the shelves of woven containers near the back of the hollow and was pleased to discover several pieces of spiced fruit, presumably left over from the last time Carla made a batch. A chunk was popped into his mouth, the tangy flavour of raspberry and cinnamon making him hum in appreciation.
There didn’t seem to be much else, but it would be sufficient. Fairies generally only ate fruit as the high sugar content provided energy for flight, but they occasionally cooked other things for the sake of variety. Eren loved his mother’s vegetable soup, she simply added whatever was in season along with a wonderful combination of herbs.
Once he had eaten enough and changed into looser clothes, Eren crawled into the nest like a wounded soldier and snuggled into the soft cloud of cotton. He shared it with his mother, but that was common practice. It took a fair amount of effort to harvest enough materials to make a bed, and their one had more than enough space for three. Turquoise eyes drifted shut, and Eren was quickly claimed by the welcoming embrace of sleep.
Eren’s chin rested atop the side of the nest as he peered over the edge with half-lidded eyes, not looking at anything in particular. Just the empty floor. Carla could be heard moving around the hollow, cleaning again, although Eren couldn't determine whether it was out of worry or necessity.
Four days had passed since he returned home, and the brunet’s life had been much of the same. He had spent time with the other fairies from his year, who had been told of his disappearance and were eager to hear all the details.
Thankfully, Eren’s mother had made no real effort to keep him hidden away from the world, so the omega had been able to go out and visit his usual destinations, namely the meadow and cascading waterfall. He and Armin had even gone back to explore the stream some more, where they’d met a charming dragonfly, the flittery creature had been curious about its fairy visitors and allowed them to inspect it closely. The dark metallic green had been pretty, but Eren much preferred the brighter insects.
Sighing, the burnet wrapped a loose strand of cotton around his index finger. It all seemed quite dull when compared to his recent adventure. The good news was that it was nearing the middle of spring, which meant that there would be a batch of little fairies joining the colony soon. Eren had always enjoyed meeting the new babies, young skin glowing with life, and their tiny developing wings were nothing short of adorable. The younger omegas occasionally helped care for them, which was a prospect that the brunet found exciting despite his fears of accidentally mishandling one.
Eren wasn’t completely naïve about the production of babies, he knew that certain events had to occur for a new fairy to be created. Carla had attempted to explain it shortly after Eren presented, but it had been vague at best and basically amounted to you’ll know when the time comes. It wasn’t very insightful. Lucky, the brunet’s natural curiosity also made him observant of others.
The omegas always vanished for a week or so during the summer, hiding away in the seclusion of their hollows, usually accompanied by their mate. It evidently required a pair of fairies, as the ones that disappeared on their own were never successful. The process must be labour-intensive, Eren had deduced, as both parties seemed exhausted and often in poor condition by the time they emerged again. A few of the omegas then huddled away at the end of winter, resulting in the arrival of new life during the spring.
While thinking, his tan fingers tried to wiggle out of the cotton web they had gotten tangled in. What would Levi be doing at the moment? A common thought recently. It seemed that Levi preferred to sleep during the day… but even so, Eren concluded that the alpha would still be working to replace all the grass he’d tossed to the forest floor. A soft giggle came from the nest as the brunet managed to untangle his hand.
Eren rolled onto his back and stared at the wooden ceiling, green eyes tracing the growth rings within the tree. Although it was tempting to go visit Levi soon, the omega wasn’t sure how to go about it. Should he just… show up? It felt a bit rude to just arrive at someone’s home without giving notice, but he couldn’t think of any other option. Could he even remember the way to Levi’s nest? Eren was doubtful… but the alpha had somehow managed to track him down the first time, so he wasn’t too concerned about getting lost.
A gust of wind came through the hollow, and Eren’s eyes followed a stray piece of dandelion fluff as it took to the air and slowly floated away. Propping himself up in the nest, he saw that it had been Armin arriving.
“Morning Eren.” Armin smiled, gaze shifting over to the bronze-winged fairy across the room. “Carla.” Blue eyes moved back to Eren. “Ready to go?”
“Yeap!” Eren jumped off the mound of cotton, dishevelling the material with his hasty movements. It couldn’t be helped. The brunet excited and hopeful, although he tried to rein in his expectations. There was a good chance of coming back disappointed. Eren pulled on his boots as he hopped towards the opening, emerald wings flapping to balance himself as he wobbled on one leg.
Meeting Armin on the branch outside, Eren was pleased that the weather was bright and sunny. Golden rays instantly warmed his skin as he stepped out of the hollow, bathing the forest canopy with radiant light. The air carried the distinct fragrance of spring, fresh and floral.
They pushed off the bark together, wings spreading out as they flew side-by-side. Gliding among the leaves, Eren watched fairies going about their morning routines, most of them carrying woven containers to collect water and fruit. He recognised the majority of them, but there were some that weren’t familiar.
Their destination wasn’t far, an intricately decorated tree soon came into view. Turquoise eyes flittered over the sight, admiring the vast number of shiny trinkets that dangled from the branches around the hollow. They appeared to be made of gemstones, the cut surfaces glinting in the sunlight, held together by woven grass and a variety of other materials. The bright colours hung down to dance among the foliage, gently clinking together like a collection of symphonic wind-chimes. Armin’s affinity for decorating must run in the family.
Eren landed outside the entrance with a soft thud, less graceful than usual due to the shimmering distractions. The display was quite beautiful… Eren thought that perhaps he should invest more time into making ornaments. He had no interest in the activity thus far, but he could definitely see the appeal of having a nicely decorated tree. Chestnut hair ruffled as Armin landed next to him, the blonde heading straight into the hollow.
Following him inside, Eren realised that it must have been some time since he’d last visited Armin’s grandfather. The interior was just as cluttered as the outside, although these items looked much older, maybe even antique. A peculiar scent hit his nose, musty and floral, but largely overridden by the smell of burning smoke.
“Good morning.” The voice came from the corner of the hollow, raspy from decades of use but still gentle.
“Morning Papa,” Armin replied fondly. “I hope you’re not busy.”
“I always have time for you two,” He replied, getting up from his seat as light-brown eyes examined the two young men. “My, how beautiful you’ve both become. The gold on your wings is splendid Eren, I might have to hang you on my tree next.”
Eren chuckled lightly, inspecting the old fairy in return. His wings were a faded beige that was almost white, the colours lost to time, but the sheer appendages still carried some glossiness. The greying beard and moustache seemed longer, too. It couldn’t be said how old Armin’s grandfather was, however Eren was sure it was a rather impressive number. It was no secret that his name was Raymund, but the old fairy insisted on simply being called grandfather or something similar. Quite odd, but Eren wasn’t one to complain about such things.
“So,” Raymund began, clasping his hands behind his back as he looked between them. “To what do I owe the pleasure?”
“We were wondering if you could… tell us about fairies?” Eren glanced over at Armin. “We’ve realised that we don’t actually know very much, history wise.”
The grandfather fairy huffed out a breath. “You assume that I know these things, simply because I am old?”
Turquoise eyes shifted around awkwardly, unsure of how to answer. Eren certainly didn’t want to offend him, but it was true the wisdom often came with experience, and therefore age. “Um…” He said, timid. “Yes?”
“You may be correct.” Raymund smiled, the boy’s hesitance was appreciated. He made his way back to the stool and sighed as he slowly sat down again, the weathered wood creaking beneath him. “Go on then, ask your questions and I will try to answer. But I cannot guarantee anything substantial.”
After receiving an encouraging nod from Armin, the brunet approached the stool and sat down on the floor, the flax mat providing ample cushioning from the hard surface it covered. Inspecting the room, the burning smell was discovered to be coming from an incense of flower petals, thin ribbons of smoke floating up and dissipating into the air. Once Armin joined him, Eren gazed up at brown eyes and asked his question. “Do you know if there are different types of fairies?”
“Types?” Raymund asked, blinking down at the brunet. “You’ll need to be more specific.”
“Fairies that are different to us,” Eren explained. He looked down at his hands, twiddling his thumbs anxiously. “Say, for example… fairies that can see in the dark and have glowing spots on their wings?”
The old fairy hummed thoughtfully, the deep vibration filling the room as he examined Eren. “I know what you speak of.” Emerald eyes flicked up to meet him, filled with a burning interest. Raymund cleared his throat, his wiry moustache shifting with the action. “Unseelie. I’ve heard the word used, although I believe some find the term a bit derogatory.” He sniffed, gaze shifting to a feathery trinket dangling from the ceiling. “Creatures of the night… if we are the doves, they would be the crows.”
Eren frowned, wondering if the words were some sort of riddle. “Do you know anything about them?”
“Not much,” Raymund said. “I’ve never met one myself. But as with most things, there are plenty of stories. The tales are filled with unsavoury depictions; blood, deception, malevolence and murder. Bu-” Armin squeaked in alarm, interrupting him mid-sentence. “But… we must remember that stories are inherently bias, often told from a single perspective and misconstrued over time. It is impossible for us to know the degree of distortion, but clearly these individuals survived to pass on their accounts.” Raymund hummed as he searched his mind for information, pulling details from the few stories he’d heard over the years. “Mostly nocturnal, I believe. They’re clearly adapted to the night, and I suspect their numbers are far fewer. It’s for these reasons that we rarely encounter them.”
“So, they don’t live in colonies like us?” Eren asked.
The old fairy nodded. “Solitary, it seems... but they’ve been known to form small groups, usually familial.”
“But why?” Shiny turquoise eyes looked up expectantly, determined to find out as much as possible. “It’s so much easier to live in a colony, so why wouldn’t they? And you said there are less of them… why is that?” Eren’s lips pulled into another frown, suddenly worried that Levi may be prone to illness or have a shorter life span. “Are they sick? Or did something happen to them?”
“So many questions… but unfortunately, that is the extent of my knowledge. These tales don’t tend to focus on demographics,” Raymund said as he leaned back on the stool, eyeing Eren with an odd expression. “You seem very invested in the topic. Where did you hear about these things?”
Viridian wings twitched in annoyance, this conversation only confirmed the things that Eren had already suspected. He’d been hoping for more details… but in the end, it had just made him worry for Levi’s health.
“Eren has a crush on one of those night-fairies.”
“What the fig?!” Eren’s gaze whipped over to the blonde, whose bright blue eyes blinked innocently. “I do not! And I’ve only seen him once. Stop being weird.”
“Oh, right...” Armin said, his voice dripping with sarcasm. “He’s just your special alpha friend that you talk about all the time.”
“Don’t say stuff like that in front of your grandpa, geez...” Eren scolded as his face heated up, feeling thoroughly embarrassed by his friend’s comment. “What’s wrong with you?”
Armin hummed dismissively and shrugged his shoulders, unaffected by the brunet’s mortification. “You get what you give.”
Eren huffed loudly, deciding to ignore any further remarks from the blonde. Green eyes went back to Armin’s grandfather, who had been polite enough to ignore their little side conversation and was waiting patiently. “They’re definitely fairies though, right?”
“That’s correct,” Raymund answered, his faded beige wings flapping once behind him. “I’m no expert, but we are certainly both fairies… it’s more of a race, if you will. Like how there are different breeds of cat.”
The brunet chirped, head tilting in confusion. He recalled the strange silver whiskers on Levi’s wings. “Cats?”
“Oh… that was only to help you understand. My apologies, it was a poor comparison.” Raymund went silent for a moment, considering, and eventually gave in to his own curiosity. “You know a night fairy, then?”
“I know two,” Eren corrected, although it’ll be three if gets to meet Isabel’s mate. He observed that Grandpa seemed intrigued by the subject, perhaps even disappointed that he had never met one himself. “Everything you said seems to match up… but I’ll let you know if I find out anything more.”
“Thank you, there is still much for me to learn about our world.” Smiling appreciatively, Raymund sighed under his breath. “I’m only sorry that I couldn’t offer more answers.” He stroked his beard, the greyish-brown hairs being pulled down by his hand and bouncing back up again. “It would be wonderful for you to make friends with this fairy. Just make sure you stay safe in you travels.”
Eren’s face fell into an expression of boredom, he was unable to count the number of times he’d been warned in the past few days. But still, Armin’s grandfather was a wise man and may see things from a wider perspective. “My mother doesn’t want me to see him again,” Eren said, dejected. “She thinks it’s too dangerous, but I don’t understand what she’s afraid of.”
“Carla is very cautious… but it wasn’t always that way. I remember a time when she was inquisitive and carefree, much like yourself.” Raymund's hands dropped from his beard to rest on his knees. “Losing your father changed her, made her wary of any potential dangers. Which is fair enough… but your life is your own, what you do with it is up to you. Don’t let your actions be dictated by the fears of another.”
“Thank you.” It was encouraging to hear those words, to have someone recognise Eren’s ability to make his own decisions. Carla may be upset… but he cannot spend the rest of his life hiding in a hollow just to quell her worries. Perhaps she would be more trusting in time.
“Eren, is that everything?” Armin said from the side. “We should get going now, if you still want to visit the stream again.”
“Yeah, that’s all.” Eren's eyes shifted back up to Raymund. “Thanks for your time, grandfather. We’ll come back soon.”
“Oh, don’t worry about me. You two go have fun.” The edges of his moustache curled up as he smiled.
The flax crinkled as the two omegas got to their feet, flapping their wings for assistance and circulating a gentle breeze throughout the hollow. Trinkets jingled as they swayed from the ceiling, a song of soothing chimes.
A familiar colour caught Eren’s attention, the small charm that was dangling near the entrance. Stepping closer, he took the fragile ornament in his palm as he inspected the geometric gemstone. A red garnet... they weren’t rare by any means, but this one was had developed a lovely shape. It had many smooth faces and a remarkable clarity that made it almost translucent, resulting in a brilliant crimson red that caught the light on every angle, sparkling like a tiny chandelier.
“Keep it,” Raymund said, noticing the brunet’s captivation with his old trinket. “I don’t mind, it’ll make room for one of my newer ones.”
Eren blinked over to him, green eyes filled with joy. “Thanks! I’ll take good care of it, promise.”
“It doesn’t need much, just wipe off the dust every now and then.” His gaze shifted over to the blonde. “You can pick one too, Armin. Whichever you’d like.”
Scanning the hollow, Armin found the number of choices were a little overwhelming. Eventually he settled on a light-pink ornament, a shard of rose quartz on a woven string of cotton. “I prefer softer colours,” The blonde said, playing with the charm in his hand as he looked at Eren. “But you’ve always liked bolder shades, vibrant colours that stand out.”
“I suppose so,” Eren replied, eyes falling to the gem in his own hand. The blood-red was truly beautiful. He wasn’t sure where he would hang it, on the branches or in his hollow, but Eren knew that he’d find the best place for it.
Wait... that's the end?
WHERE ARE THE SEXY MOTHS!?
At least Grandpa dropped some old-fairy wisdom.
I made up his name, obviously. Google told me that Raymund is Germanic and means "wise protector", so there ya go.
Let me know what you think! I've been writing heaps of science lately, so was in a bit of a creativity slump.
Who misses Levi? D:
Chapter 5: The Sunlight
Once again thanks so much for all the support, you're all amazing <3
Here are the stats for this chapter:
Well this is awkward 4/10
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Art is at the end because it's of a scene in the chapter!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Aren’t you leaving it a bit late?” Armin looked up from the blueberry he was peeling, hands covered in a thin layer of wax to prevent the dark juice from staining his skin. Fairies had found many uses for the resources they had; the flesh could be used to make numerous products and medicines, and the inky liquid made an excellent dye or paint. Pale eyes found the fairy that was currently lying face-down on the floor of his hollow, restless yet unwilling to move. “The sun’s almost at its highest, didn’t you say the journey takes a while?”
Eren turned his head, bored eyes peering up at the blonde. “Levi sleeps during the day, remember? I don’t want to go too early.” He explained. The plan had taken some thought. It was a bit unfair that Levi could see during the day while Eren couldn’t at night, but this visit was unexpected. He didn’t want to risk the alpha being asleep, unable to help if Eren found himself lost once again. If everything went according to plan, Eren would get there in the late afternoon, leaving a bit of sunlight for him to try find his way. Sitting back on his knees, Eren’s wings fluttered, feeling excited but incredibly nervous. Emerald eyes looked to Armin, asking a question that had been plaguing his mind all morning. “Do you think he’ll be happy to see me?”
“I don’t know,” Armin replied flatly, holding his hands over a wooden bowl to collect the juice that dripped from his fingers. “From what you’ve told me, I’d say so.”
Humming in contemplation, Eren fiddled with the red garnet that rested against his sternum. The grass string had been too long, having to be wrapped around his neck two or three times to make it wearable. He’d decided that a necklace was more practical than a tree decoration, although the moderately sized stone was heavier than what he was used to. Regardless, the brilliant red looked stunning against Eren’s tanned skin, and he’d chosen a white cotton shirt to draw out the bold colour.
Gazing out of the hollow, green eyes examined the sunlight, taking into account that there was more cloud cover today. Eren’s index finger tapped against the wooden floor, impatient. It was reassuring to spend time with Armin, although he wasn’t there simply for a visit. This was his hideout.
Carla had caused a fair amount of commotion when she’d found out where he was going today, and Eren had flown the coop before it could escalate any further. The situation was worsened by the implication that Eren would be staying overnight. He hadn’t understood what the fuss was about, but he’d attempted to calm her by saying that it didn’t count, as the nights were technically days to Levi. It was confusing, really, but Eren would try his best to accommodate the alpha’s lifestyle.
Eren sighed as he glanced down at his hand, bringing the insistent tapping to an end. “Okay, I’m going now." Viridian wings stretched as the brunet got to his feet, preparing himself for the long journey ahead.
“Alright,” Armin said, delicately pulling a slither of skin from the fruit. “I know you’ve heard it enough for a lifetime, but…” Blue eyes tracked Eren’s movements, the brunet straightening his clothing and running fingers through his unruly mop of hair. “Please be careful.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll be fine,” Eren assured. He gave up on trying to fix his hair, the wind would only mess it up while he flew. “I’m not sure when I’ll be home, exactly. Flying back so soon was exhausting the last time.” Staring out at the rustling leaves, Eren thought about how long he’d stay with the alpha. The journey was too long for a day trip, or a night trip… but Eren couldn’t really carry anything that far, he’d probably drop out of the sky before he reached the forest. To minimise the extra weight, he had only a few items on his person. A second shirt, long-sleeved for something warmer, which Eren was wearing over the top of his first one, and a small pouch of his mother’s spiced fruit for Levi to try. The lack of supplies wasn’t at all concerning; where they are fairies, there must be food and a water source nearby.
“I’ll try to keep Carla under control while you’re gone,” Armin said with a slight frown, knowing full well that it would be easier said than done. She had suggested that he go with Eren, but the two young fairies had already decided against it. They should ask for permission before bringing a stranger to Levi’s home, and of course the blonde had his own alpha to worry about. Armin also had no desire to be a third-wing. “Fly safe.”
“I will. Seeya!” Eren waved as rushed out of the hollow, immediately kicking off the branch and taking off in a flurry of dazzling emerald.
Once out of the forest, Eren checked the sky and found that it was earlier than he’d planned. It surely wouldn’t matter, he’d been bored of waiting. There was still a thick blanket of fluffy clouds covering the expanse of blue, but thankfully there was no sign of incoming rain. Passing over the trickling stream, wonderous eyes followed a group of dragonflies that skated over the water’s surface, their metallic thoraxes glistening where they reflected the sunlight. All creatures seemed to be enjoying the spring.
Reaching the meadow, Eren found himself turning sharply to head east. The omega made a mental note to figure out a more direct route, his detour through the meadow added a fair amount of time to the journey. But until then, following his previous path was the best way to ensure that he ended up where he wanted to be.
ren started to feel the strain in his wings all too soon, flight-muscles tightening in protest of the constant effort. The sun had long begun its descent from the top of the sky, gradually slipping to the side as the young fairy pushed on. Eren praised himself for packing light. It felt as though even his necklace was weighing him down, anything more would have been unbearable.
When a stand of trees came into view, the brunet couldn’t stop himself from fretting. He was keenly aware of the fact that he didn’t know Levi very well, and Eren worried that his mother was correct about him being too trusting. Trying to settle his thoughts, the omega reminded himself that Levi had earned some degree of his trust. Armin had agreed that the alpha wasn’t likely to hurt him once Eren had shared the details that he’d left out for his mother’s sake, and the blonde said that Levi’s behaviour seemed typical of an alpha that wanted to protect. It was reassuring that Eren wasn’t the only one who’d gotten that impression.
Slowing down as he entered the shaded forest, Eren looked around with curious eyes, amazed by the difference in vegetation despite not being that far away. It was more alive today, filled with the fresh scent of nature and insects that sung out from among the plants. Keen ears picked up on a few bird songs, but Eren knew that those feathered creatures weren’t as friendly as their melodic warbles suggested. They were given a wide berth.
The omega spotted what appeared to be the same branch and gracefully landed on solid bark, his wings twitching in anticipation. Inspecting the shape of the wooden perch, Eren determined that it was indeed the correct place. A difficult thing, as all the branches looked quite similar, but he’d paid close attention when saying goodbye to Levi. Turquoise eyes turned to scan the canopy, jumping from tree-to-tree as he searched for anything familiar. Staring at a hanging branch, he felt confident that it was the right direction.
Eren’s ears perked up at a faint rustling. His head turned to the side, alert. The sound was coming from a nearby patch of wilted leaves. Eyeing it suspiciously, the foliage stopped shifting. He waited a moment to see if anything would jump out… the leaves remained deathly still. Eren frowned, knowing that the current breeze was incapable of causing such a loud disturbance, especially since it had been localised. Much too large to be an insect.
Wanting to get a move on, the omega promptly took off. He sniffed as he soared through the forest with wide-spread wings, trying to pick up on the scent of warmed wine. There were tiny white mushrooms sprouting from many of the branches, an oddity that Eren hadn’t noticed during his previous visit. He supposed that his attention had been elsewhere during their shared flight.
The occasional crinkle of leaves sounding out from behind him, as if something was brushing past them, gave Eren the uneasy feeling that he was being followed. An optimistic part of him hoped that it might be Levi… but he wouldn’t remain hidden, especially since he’d be able to smell that the omega was frightened by the not-so-subtle trailing. It must be a curious animal, Eren thought, a freakishly large insect or baby-bird.
His nose twitched, detecting the presence of a new smell. It was earthy and quite mild overall, except for the sharp aroma of garlic that cut through the otherwise mundane scent. Eren couldn’t recall any animals that smelt like that. Viridian wings sped to an urgent pace, the brunet unwilling to check behind as it would cause him to lose momentum.
Thinking that he must be getting close, Eren frantically searched the area even though he wasn’t entirely sure what he was looking for. Isabel’s words echoed in his mind; you’re lucky it was Levi who found you. Eren hadn’t thought much of it at the time, but now it led him to wonder what else may be lurking in this shadowed forest.
As he glanced down to examine the ground, green eyes were instantly drawn to something that didn’t belong, the sight causing his heart to thump harder in his chest. There were two shadows. The second one only fractionally ahead of his own… something was flying directly above him.
Eren yelped as he barrel-rolled to the side, aware of the fact that birds tended to swoop down on their prey. The spontaneous tumble ended when he made contact with the tree canopy, the sound and feel of crisp leaves disorientating. He desperately flapped among them to prevent himself from falling to the forest floor.
Regaining some sense of awareness, Eren allowed himself to drop down onto a protruding branch. There was a soft thud as he landed on the bark, alert, crouching as eyes darted around for any sign of danger. The omega jumped in fright as something fell onto the branch next to his own, careless and without a shred of elegance, producing a loud thump and the subsequent creak of wood as the branch swayed beneath the weight. Eren swallowed loudly, eyes glued to the tangle of foliage.
“Hey there, Shiny.” A pair of black ears peaked over the leaves, pointed into sharp triangles. “You lost?”
The decidedly male voice hadn’t sounded concerned in the slightest. It was stern, warning that the answer had better be yes, and that any other explanation was unacceptable. Eren examined the ear tips for a moment, they looked a bit like those of a cat… but things weren’t always as they appeared in this forest. Compliance seemed to be the safest option. “Yes…” Eren said, cautiously. A quiet crunching caught his attention, the sound short and repetitive. Was it chewing on something?
One of the black ears flicked in the leaves before starting to rise, revealing more if its form to the startled omega. Eren blinked, focusing on the points. He saw… tears. They were a rich blue and shaped like falling raindrops.
It only took the brunet a few seconds to realise they were eyespots. Similar to Levi’s, only a different shape and colour. They appeared much less threatening, although that was likely only because he knew what they were, and the sun was still out. If he’d encountered these eyes the other night, Eren was sure that they would’ve been just as terrifying.
Eren allowed himself to feel some relief. If this fairy lived here, there was a good chance that it would know Levi. As he already knew that there weren’t many fairies around here, the brunet suspected that this one might be Isabel’s aforementioned mate. “I lied,” Eren admitted, feeling much safer after the revelation. “I’m not lost.”
“No?” Blue eyespots tilted, confused by the change in demeanour and sudden confession.
“Nope.” Eren watched the luminous teardrops slant further to the side. The motion was rather cute, he thought, although he preferred seeing Levi do it. Most night-fairies seemed to have expressive wings, Eren would need to figure out what the gestures meant. “I’m here to see Levi… are you his friend?”
The blue ovals straightened up and remained still for a moment, considering… then they flapped, noisily pushing the vegetation aside with powerful wing beats. Eren squeaked at the sudden movement and stepped back, watching as a few stale leaves detached from the tree and fluttered away in the wind.
Just as Eren begun to worry that the other might be trapped, the foliage gave way and a male fairy moved out onto the branch. His hair was a dirty blonde, the colour of wet sand, with fluffy bangs that flopped over his forehead. There was something hanging out for between his lips… thin and darkly coloured, presumably what was being chewed on earlier.
His real eyes appeared to be blue as well, except a much lighter shade and with a greyish tint. Eren inspected the new fairy’s wings, finding that they looked very similar to Levi’s. The appendages were slightly paler and weren’t as wide, but appearing to stand more upright, taller. Each one tapered off to an incredibly sharp apex, pointing skyward like a crown of thorns. His hindwings appeared to be fully divided into two overlapping segments, a peculiar feature that Eren had never seen before.
“I’m his friend.” The blonde spat the object out of his mouth, a twig perhaps. It had fallen to the forest floor before Eren had gotten a proper look at it. “My name’s Farlan. Do we know each other?”
“No,” Eren replied. “I only met Levi recently, Isabel too.”
Farlan’s eyebrows raised, his expression changing into one of recognition. “I’ve heard of you. Eren, right?” The brunet nodded, and he smiled awkwardly. “Sorry for scaring you.” Dark grey wings shifted behind him, eyes examining Eren as more leaves were pushed aside. “And since I’ve apologised… there’s no need to tell Levi about it, yeah?”
“Um… okay.” Eren said, slightly confused. The scent of garlic had diminished, likely because Farlan now knew that he wasn’t a threat. Definitely another alpha. With eyes drawn to the dark wings once again, Eren realised that the vibrant blue eyespots had faded to a dull navy, all but disappearing into the darkness that surrounded them. Levi’s had also vanished while he slept. It was safe to assume that it meant they felt comfortable, at ease and relaxed. “Don’t you sleep during the day?” Eren asked, glancing up at the sunlight that was filtering through the canopy. He lamented the simplicity of what he once knew.
“Sometimes I wake up early.” Farlan hummed, following the omega’s gaze to the higher branches. Blue eyes fell back to Eren, a small smile on his face. “I really like grasshoppers, but they don’t come out at night.”
“Oh. Me too,” Eren said, personally finding grasshoppers to be quite charming. But after thinking about it for a few seconds, Eren suddenly blanched. Wide turquoise eyes looked down to the forest floor, searching for the twig that he now suspected to be a decapitated insect leg. Farlan eats grasshoppers. Does Levi do that?
“What’s that face for?”
Wiping away his shocked expression, Eren managed a meek smile. Perhaps it was just a twig after all. He wanted to know, out of curiosity… but ignorance seemed preferable in this situation. “It’s nothing, don’t worry about it.”
Farlan’s head tilted in confusion, but the brunet’s odd behaviour was quickly dismissed. “I can take you to Levi if you want, he should be awake by now.”
Eren was tempted to ask if Levi was partaking in the grasshopper hunt. He decided against it, finding Farlan’s offer of greater importance. “Yes, please... I’m not really sure where I’m going,” Eren said, curiously inspecting the tall tree he had found himself perched in.
“This way.” Farlan turned around, spreading his large wings and leaping off the branch.
Following him on emerald wings, Eren discovered that his sense of direction hadn’t been too far off. They veered to the left, and soon enough there was vegetation that he recognised; thick vines snaking around the tree trunks and patches dark orange toadstools sprouting from the forest floor. His chest felt tight, growing increasingly tense as they drew closer to their destination. Eren wasn’t sure if he was nervous about how Levi would react, or because he was about to finally see him again, but his mouth was beginning to feel overly dry.
Excitement took over when the nest came into view, the familiar structure of intertwined plant material hanging discreetly from a mid-level branch. Eren noticed an accumulation of discarded grass on the ground below, brown with decay, and he promptly diverted his eyes to avoid drawing attention to it.
Viridian wings flapped as Eren descended and landed delicately, fingers clinging onto the coarse fibres near the entrance. It was much more difficult without a branch to land on. The brunet jumped in alarm as Farlan smacked into the side of the nest at full speed, causing a loud thump as the dried grass bore the impact.
Noticing the incredulous look he was receiving, Farlan turned with a breathy chuckle. “Easier than slowing down.”
Eren didn’t feel like that required a response. He climbed to the side, extending one of his legs until he felt a solid surface beneath the toe of his boot, and released his grip to carefully step within the entrance. Green eyes took in the interior, quickly settling on what they were searching for. Against the grass wall sat Levi and Isabel, talking to each other in hushed tones.
Not wanting to interrupt their conversation, Eren simply stood there, waiting. Levi looked just as he remembered. Just as beautiful, stands of jet-black hair draping over his face to contrast with pale skin. Levi’s head was turned to face Isabel, unknowingly showing off his sharp jaw line to admiring eyes. Emerald wings twitched as an army of tiny butterflies fluttered in Eren’s stomach. His mouth somehow felt even drier.
Silver irises flicked over to where he stood, the sudden movement startling Eren out of his daze.
“Eren.” Levi stood up. Midnight wings shifted in the air, his body struggling to decide on a course of action. There was a pull in his legs that urged him to approach, but Levi managed to fight it off. Sniffing a few times, it was shocking that he hadn’t detected Eren earlier. Distracted by Isabel’s stink, most likely.
“Hi, Eren!” Isabel smiled brightly and jumped to her feet, swampy wing practically vibrating with excitement. “It’s great to see you again.” Her moss coloured eyes narrowed, shifting to the blonde that had entered behind Eren. “Returning empty handed, huh?”
Farlan sighed from the entrance, giving her a rather unimpressed look. “Why don’t you find your own breakfast for once?”
“But you’re so good at it,” Isabel said, lips pulling into a pout. “Besides, I know you secretly like providing for me.”
“Yeah, and I know that you just like the room service.”
Red bangs flew to the side as Isabel tossed her head, crossing her arms and huffing dramatically. “You were way nicer before I let you crawl into my nest!”
“Would you both just shut up already?” Levi intervened, the excessive noise beginning to irritate him. It was too crowded all of a sudden. “If you want to argue, do it away from me.”
“What?” Isabel turned to him, eyes squinting in annoyance. “We are not arguing!”
“I don’t care what you call it,” Levi replied flatly, meeting her glare with a disinterested expression. “Go somewhere else.”
Gaze shifting over to Eren, Isabel realised that he was standing to the side rather awkwardly with wide eyes, following the conversation and unsure of what to do. Isabel recognised the cue to vacate. “You know, my alpha seems to be in desperate need of a hunting lesson.” She said, mossy eyes moving Farlan. “Need me to show ya’ how it’s done?”
“Okay…” Farlan agreed, voice completely void of enthusiasm. He wouldn’t hesitate to retort under normal circumstances, to defend his abilities, but he didn’t want to cause a scene in front of their guest.
“Great!” Isabel bounded over to him, a mischievous smirk appearing on her face. There was no harm in having a bit of fun before departing, Isabel considered it payback for the sudden eviction. “Oh, Eren!” She waited until she had the brunet’s attention, relishing the expectant look in his eyes. “Levi’s got a gift for you. Cute, huh?” Immediately diving out of the nest, Isabel let out a villainous giggle as she flew away, disappearing before Levi had a chance to scold her.
“Seeya Shiny,” Farlan said before taking off after her, leaving a gust of wind in his wake.
The breeze momentarily lifted Eren’s bangs, chocolate strands flittering in the air before settling against his forehead. Green eyes shifted back to Levi, seeing that the alpha was scowling in apparent annoyance. “Um…” Eren begun, quiet and hesitant. Sharp gun-metal eyes landed on him again, the frown lifting into a more neutral expression. Levi looked somewhat startled at being put on the spot, embarrassed even. Eren didn’t want to press… but he was undeniably curious. “Is that true?”
“Uh… yes, but I don’t, um…” Aware of his faltering speech, Levi recovered by clearing his throat. “I wasn’t going to give it to you.”
Eren’s head tilted to the side, perplexed. It didn’t help that the alpha’s usually expressive wings remained still, the black appendages hovering slightly lower than usual with droopy tips. “Why not?”
The answer was delayed, metallic irises glancing outside as Levi considered what to say. Eventually he let out a sigh, surrendering to the omega’s hopeful turquoise eyes. “Because it’s garbage,” Levi said. “You can see it, I guess… I’ve never made anything like this before, that’s why it turned out awful. I don’t expect you to keep it.” An object was taken out of his clothing. Levi frowned at it with displeasure before holding it out in front of him. “Here... It was supposed to be a bracelet. Izzy’s idea.”
Eren stepped forwards to take the item, using his fingers to pluck it from Levi’s hand. Inspecting it, he was relieved that Levi had told him what the object was supposed to be. It was an unidentifiable mess. The fibres were coming undone, poking out on all angles and threatening to fall apart. There were charms stuck in it… shell fragments of some description, and what appeared to be tiny chunks of tree bark. It looked more like a bundle of tumbleweed than anything else, and Eren doubted that it was even physically wearable.
Being experienced himself, it was obvious that the greatest mistake was the using an unsuitable type of grass. The variety Levi had chosen was much too thick, rigid and incapable of bending as it needed to. “It’s… um…” Eren struggled for words, eyes glued to the so-called bracelet. Even though Levi had already said it was awful, the omega didn’t want to put him down of discourage him for it. “It’s not that bad, for your first try. It has a… circular shape. Which is pretty good if you’ve never done it before.”
“It’s a piece of crap,” Levi said. “It’s fine, Eren. I can accept that I’m bad at crafting things.”
“That’s not true, no one gets it right on the first try.” Eren fiddled with the crude circlet in his hand, picking at a chunk of bark the was protruding out of the side. “Besides… you made this whole nest, right?”
A thin eyebrow raised as Levi examined the walls surrounding them, a thick matrix of entwined grass and twigs.
“I think it’s great, you built it well enough to withstand storms.” Green eyes looked up at the spiralling ceiling, the structure that had protected him from a deadly downpour of rain. “It’s a lot more useful than a silly bracelet.”
“It’s not strange to you?” Levi asked, tilting his head slightly. Sooty wings perked up behind him, gently waving at the omega’s words. “Isabel told me that you live in a tree.”
“It was at first, but now it’s just… different. I’m starting to like it.” Eren smiled brightly, pleased that Levi seemed to be feeling better now.
“I wasn’t sure that you would come back.”
Eren blinked at the seemingly random statement. “I wanted to see you,” He said, watching as silver eyes were drawn to his wings. “It’s not an easy journey, and I was trying to warm my mother up to the idea. But that didn’t work out very well.”
“Your mother tried to stop you from seeing me?” Levi asked with a prominent frown, annoyed by the idea alone.
“Well… no, but her disapproval was made clear.” Eren’s gaze drifted down. “She’s worried that you’ll hurt me.”
“Are you worried about that, too?”
“I wouldn’t be here if I was.”
As Eren watched the alpha’s wings perform their familiar swaying motion, he considered the oddness of their earlier conversation.
In his colony, all fairies were taught how to weave properly. In addition to making beautiful jewellery, it was an important life skill. All their possessions and tools involved some level of grass work, be it a container or the handle of a hammer. They were taught at a young age, long before their dynamics became apparent, so alphas were just as skilled at it as everyone else. Eren was sure he had seen Isabel wearing a necklace earlier, and she had also suggested the bracelet. It was clearly a part of their lives… yet for some reason, Levi had no idea how. A snuffling sound interrupted his thoughts.
Levi leaned forward as he scented the air, the curve of his lips sinking into the faintest of frowns. It was irrational, he knew, but Levi couldn’t prevent the pang of disappointment he felt at not being able smell himself on the omega. Of course, Eren would’ve washed since then… his alpha didn’t seem to think it was a good enough excuse.
Deciding to follow suit, Eren sniffed around Levi, finding it easier now that the other two had cleared out. Picking it up almost immediately, Eren’s body warmed as the scent of spiced wine washed over him, emerald wings fluttering happily. But as enjoyable as the activity was, the brunet opted to continue their conversation. “Levi.” Spinning the bracelet in his fingers, Eren waited until pools of sterling silver were focused on his face. “I was just wondering, um… my mother taught me how to weave, how come yours didn’t?”
Levi’s reply came after a few seconds of silence, voice quiet. “She couldn’t.”
“Oh,” Eren said, unsure of what that meant. She couldn’t weave herself, or she couldn’t teach him? Feeling like it was a bit too personal, Eren decided not to enquire further. He was just relieved that it wasn’t an intentional gap in Levi’s knowledge. Nevertheless, Eren couldn’t imagine not being able to make the things he needed. “I could teach you, if you wanted.”
“I’m not sure…” A deep hum emanated from Levi’s throat, thoughtful. The black points of his wings tilted quizzically. “We can try it, I suppose.”
“We’ll start with this!” Eren announced, viridian wings twitching with excitement as he held the shabbily constructed bracelet up to Levi’s face. Silver eyes blinked at it with
dwindling interest. “Is there softer grass around here?” The omega pinched the circlet between his thumb and index finger. “This is too thick…” Glancing outside, Eren examined the golden streams of light that were creeping into the nest. “Can we go now? There’s still enough sun.”
The alpha blinked again, observing Eren’s face with intrigued eyes. “Okay.” Midnight wings straightened out, stretching before their first flight of the day.
Eren rushed ahead, fingers clinging to the sides of the entrance as he peaked out. He wanted to make the most of the sunshine, knowing that he’d be unable to see once it disappeared for the night. The view from Levi’s nest was similar to how he remembered it, except the forest appeared brighter without the layer of freshly fallen rain, richer and more vibrant. There wasn’t a large variety of colour, mainly just differing shades of brown and green, but Eren could see the odd speck of warmth hiding among the foliage. The air had more of a floral tone, less damp… not too different to the place he called home.
Sensing Levi behind him, Eren shifted aside to let him lead the way. The alpha took off with a single wing beat; the black appendages undulated up and then pushed down forcefully, creating a strong wind that sent chestnut strands flying and made the omega’s eyes water, very nearly blowing him out of the nest. He probably shouldn’t have been standing so close.
Once Eren had regained his footing and blinked away the wind-induced tears, he took off to follow Levi into the forest. Watching the alpha soar beneath him, Eren was once again fascinated by unique flight style. The dark sails seemed to hollow out somewhat, a concave shape that caught air beneath and allowed him fly without much effort. Eren could glide into a descent by hold his wings out, but Levi’s flexible pair could tilt to gain altitude.
With his eyes the alpha’s wings, Eren was alarmed when the black appendages suddenly caved in, the edges folding skyward as they reversed their shape. Worry turned into surprised when Levi rolled on to his back, the new curve of his wings allowing him to fly while facing up. The omega had never tried such a thing, but he certain that it would end in disaster if he did. Turquoise eyes locked with silver, and Eren appreciated the way Levi’s dark hair fluttered around his face, dancing in the wind like ink in water.
When Levi suddenly dropping out of the sky, the brunet could see patches of lush grass covering the forest floor. It looked strikingly similar to what he used back home, thin blades of dull green. The alpha landed roughly, all but falling into the sea of vegetation, while Eren slowed into a graceful descent and touched down next to him.
Eren looked at the darkness crouching besides him, concealed in the grass except for the black appendages that popped out. To someone flying overhead, Levi could be mistaken for an oddly-coloured mushroom. “I didn’t know you could do that,” Eren marvelled.
“I don’t often.” The grass rustled as Levi stood, wings flicking in the air to regain their flattened shape. “It feels weird.” Levi hummed and glanced around, stretching his wings some more as he tried to erase the discomfort of having them bent oddly. “Are these plants good enough?”
Eren brushed his fingers over the blades of grass, the soft surfaces sliding against his skin. “Yeah, they’ll do.”
The brunet plopped down on the spot, sitting cross-legged as he plucked a few strands of grass from the base of the plant. Tugging off the pointed tips, Eren began the familiar process of pulling apart the fibres, turning one blade of grass into several thinner stands. Turquoise eyes look up, surprised to find that Levi was no longer next to him. Eren’s gaze darted around the clearing until they located him. Standing atop a fallen branch some distance away, Levi seemed to be staring off into the dense forest. Brown eyebrows pinched together, unsure of what was happening. “Is something wrong?” Eren asked, growing concerned.
“No,” Levi replied, his head turning to look in another direction. “Just checking.”
Sighing, the omega turned back to his task. It was fine, Levi didn’t need to know about the preparation just yet. They would start on the basics. Still curious, Eren peeked out the corner of his eye, watching as Levi walked along the log to flap his wings at a spiky shrub. Threatening it, apparently.
Once Eren had finished separating the material, he entertained himself by further examining the area. Large tree trunks encircled them, the wooden pillars extending high into the air. Following one with his eyes, he saw that the canopy was thinner overhead, the sparseness allowing a decent amount of sunlight to break through the mosaic of leaves. Eren was unsure how long it took them to get there, but the sky was already taking on an orange hue as the sun neared the horizon.
Hearing the rhythmic crunching of grass growing louder, the brunet concluded that Levi must be finished with… whatever he’d been doing. “So,” Eren began, his fingers running over the thin strands to straighten them out. “One of the elders in my colony had heard of your kind before. You’re a night fairy.”
Levi scoffed at the name, kicking a small pebble as he strolled closer. “Who’s the genius that came up with that?”
“Um…” Eren sucked on his cheek in thought, remembering that it was Armin who called them that first. Turquoise eyes glanced up at the alpha, who was now standing behind Eren’s shoulder. “It was my best friend, actually.”
“How imaginative. And does your friend call owls…” Levi stared down with a grave expression on his face. A thin eyebrow quirked sardonically. “Night birds?”
“No.” Eren huffed as he looked back to his hands. He gathered all the threads together, making sure the ends were lined up with each other. “Because owls have a proper name. Now watch, this is how you start it.” Manoeuvring the grass, Eren wrapped the strands around his finger and pulled to form a knot at the end. “You need to tie it, see?”
“What makes you think that you’re the standard?” Silver eyes lazily followed the brunet’s hands. “I could be the normal one, and you could be the weird day-fairy.”
“Well… there are just over three hundred fairies in my colony, and I’ve only seen two others like you,” Eren explained. It was impossible to know how many fairies existed in the world, but a few of the outsiders that joined them had come from a different colony. “Okay, now we can start weaving it.” Delicate fingers began entwining the grass together, moving one stand over the others like a braid, and the pattern started to form in Eren’s hands. “It’s basically just repeating the same movement, so you should be able to pick it up quickly.”
“I can’t imagine living somewhere so crowded…” Black wings raised higher as Levi spoke, one of the pointy tips flicking in the air with an irritated twitch.
“Are you paying attention?” Eren asked, hands paused in their motion. The alpha’s tone had sounded thoughtful and far away, distracted by something. An affirmative hum was the only response, deep and drawn out, accompanied by the crinkle of grass as Levi shifted. Suddenly there was a firm pressure on top of Eren’s head, and a heat radiating against his back and shoulders. Levi was kneeling behind him. “What are you doing?”
The deepness of his voice made it sound gravelly. Eren was hyperaware of the vibration it produced, feeling it where the alpha’s chin was resting above him. Having Levi so close felt strange. He couldn’t determine whether the strangeness was good or not, only that it was new. “I don’t think you can see from up there…” Eren said warily, imagining that it would be a horrible angle for observing his hands.
“I can,” Levi assured. His head shifted to get comfortable on the cushion of chocolate hair, making sure that his chin wasn’t digging into the omega. “Keep going.”
Eren moved his hands further forward before continuing. He was using the simplest technique, weaving in a straight line that could then be curled into a circular shape. The plan was to attach the pieces of shell from the bracelet he was gifted, an appealing shade of beige, although Eren decided to pass on the rough bark.
As he was working along the grass, the brunet was forced to stop when something dark fell in front of his face. Eren squeaked, startled by the sudden obstruction. It was Levi’s wing, he realised, limply draped over his shoulder. Confusingly, Eren found himself staring straight into one of the alphas giant eyespots, unsure of when they had started glowing. Was it because the sun was close to setting?
Wanting to resume his task, Eren raised a hand and pushed the wing back over his shoulder, returning it to where it rightfully belonged. The next distraction came in the form on a vocalisation. It seemed to be the same one Eren had heard while they were flying the other day, a melodic warble with a pitch that repeatedly rose and fell. The harmonious thrilling was admittedly very pretty, reminiscent of a bird song. Judging by the vibrations against the back of his head, it seemed to be originating from deep in Levi’s throat. The vocalisation dwindled to a quieter variation of the sound before it cut off completely.
A shadow was cast over Eren’s body as the intrusive wing returned. It hadn’t fallen directly in his face this time, flopping further to the side instead. “Levi, you’re blocking the light!” Eren complained as he tried to shove the black appendage out of the way. It wasn’t so easy this time, Levi was resisting. He had half a mind to toss the alpha off his head. “I can’t see what I’m doing.”
“Oh?” Levi replied from above, flicking the tip of his wing at Eren's cheek. “That’s a shame.”
Eren felt rather than heard the small chuckle that followed. A sigh of acceptance left his lips, Levi had clearly lost all interest in the activity.
Turquoise eyes shifted to the appendage that insisted on remaining. Reaching out to it, Eren delicately ran his fingertips over the expanse of silky blackness. His hand was warmed by its hotness.
He stopped at the perimeter of the eyespot. The last time he’d touched it, Levi had growled at him… but Eren was curious about it, and the alpha seemed to be giving him open access. Fingers hesitantly moved onto crimson red, his touch feather-light over the luminous surface, smooth and glossy. A faint greasiness transferred onto his skin. It didn’t elicit much of a reaction, the only movement being the bob of Levi’s Adams apple as he swallowed. The thick sound made Eren’s ear twitch.
Levi gave a quiet coo of encouragement, although it came out huskier than intended.
Feeling more confident in his explorations, Eren left the eyespot alone and moved to the wings boarder. Running his fingers along it, he discovered that the appendage thinned towards the edges, contributing to their exceptional flexibility he presumed.
The omega paused as he came to a small gap, a tear in Levi’s wing… the corners of Eren’s mouth pulled into a frown as he examined the damage. It looked like a rip of sorts, triangular in shape, as if a tiny wedge had been cut out of the wing.
With fingertips gingerly tracing the old injury, Eren felt the texture become coarser. Unlike the rest, it didn’t feel like soft velvet. The area was toughened by layers of scar tissue. The brunet released a sad mewl, quiet and questioning, as he tried to look up at Levi. Eye contact was impossible with the way they were positioned, Eren soon found.
“Don’t worry about that,” Levi said as he retracted his wing, pulling it from Eren’s cradling hands. The inky appendage settled in the air behind him to match up with the other one. “You’re supposed to be teaching me how to fold the grass.”
Eren’s teeth scraped over his bottom lip, pulling at it as he considered how to respond. He decided to let it go for now, pleased enough that Levi had allowed him to touch somewhere so vulnerable. “Fold?” Eren finally said, his voice carrying a playful lilt. “You obviously you haven’t listened to a word I’ve said.”
Humming his confession, Levi lifted himself from the mess of chestnut hair as he stood up. Silver eyes flicked through the surrounding trees. “Is there anything else you want to do?”
The sudden draft against Eren’s back made his muscles and wings twitch with a short shiver. He tilted his head a few times, enjoying the unrestricted movement. After thinking for a moment, Eren turned to look at Levi over his shoulder. “Do you like sunsets?”
Chapter 6: Fading Colours
Hey, Hey! Sorry if this chapter is sub-par, I was house sitting for a week and I think being in a new environment made it hard to write. Is that a thing?
Here is a beautiful image made by @idealereri on tumblr (Tenebrous on AO3). This may have made me cry a little bit... besides this being a wonderful piece of art, I am honored that someone feels so connected to my story that they would invest their own time and energy into making something like this, just because they want to. THEY ALSO MADE ONE OF LEVI (will be in next chapter but you can see it on their tumblr).
Click on ~THIS LINK~ to see full size image.
~Tenebrous i love you~
Hope everyone enjoys this chapter!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
A thin crease appeared between Levi’s eyebrows, confused by the question. “I don’t see them often,” He replied, gaze leaving the forest to meet glittering turquoise.
“Oh,” Eren said, aware that the alpha hadn’t actually answered his question. They were quite deep in the forest, the vast majority of the sky obscured by foliage. Levi might not leave it very often. Eren believed that everyone should take time to appreciate the sunset every now and then, it would be a shame for something so beautiful to go unwitnessed. “Can we watch it?” Eren pointed out into the trees, indicating to where he knew the sun to set. “It’s this way.”
Levi’s hummed as his eyes followed the brunet’s finger, calculating how far it was to the forests edge. He looked back at Eren with a dull expression. “Wouldn’t it be easier to go up?”
Tilting backwards, Eren looked up at the overhead canopy. “Um… yeah,” His eyes blinked back to Levi, a cheerful grin spreading across his face. “That’s a great idea. Let’s go, I don’t want to miss it!” Emerald wings fluttered as the omega sprung to his feet, carefully sliding both almost-bracelets into his pocket. He could finish the weaving another day.
Eren pushed off the grass, flying straight up at an excited pace. As the canopy was thinner over the clearing, he had no difficulty swivelling around the patches of hanging foliage. The odd leaf brushed against his wings but was of no consequence, a faint tickle that failed to distract him. When he emerged from the canopy, Eren was elated to find himself blessed with a clear view of the descending sun. He flew a bit higher, nearing the top of the tree, and gently touched down on a thick branch.
A few clouds were still hovering in the sky, fluffy bundles of various forms that drifted along at their leisure. Thankfully, they wouldn’t obscure the view. Eren sat down on the branch, getting as comfortable as physically possible on the coarse bark. It wasn’t too bad, there were smooth recesses in the scaly texture that made for a decent seat.
Bright colours already filled the sky. As it hit the horizon, the sun split into radiant oranges and pinks that bled into the pale blue canvas, a combination of shades bouncing off the clouds and dissolving into each other. A thump came from the other end of the branch, alerting him to Levi’s arrival.
Black wings flapped a few times as he righted himself on the bark. Levi’s head tilted as his eyes landed on Eren, carrying a silent question.
Eren sighed to himself, it seemed that the alpha had suddenly lost his boldness. “You can sit next to me.”
Levi glanced at the sky as he approached. “Is that it?” He asked, voice bleak and unimpressed. He took his time to settle down on the branch, letting his legs hang over the edge.
Eren noticed that Levi had left a considerable distance between them. Not too far, but still an arm’s length away and not at all what the brunet had meant. It seemed strange in comparison to the closeness Levi had initiated on the grass. Eren was confident that he hadn’t done anything wrong, and so it was added to Levi’s ever-expanding list of odd behavioural quirks. “How does it look?” Eren asked.
“I don’t know,” Levi said with a weak shrug, his gaze tracking a cloud with a particularly deformed shape. “It looks like the sky.”
“Huh,” Eren said, head turning to the side. “It gets better, this is just the start. Usually it, um…” Eren trailed off as he took in Levi’s appearance. The orange light suited him well, casting a soft glow onto pale skin and accentuating his facial features. Eren followed the sharp line of the alphas cheek bone before his attention shifted upwards. Levi’s eyes, usually a cool silver, were highlighted by gold as they reflected the suns warmth. Dark lashes covered them as Levi slowly blinked, and then they were suddenly staring back at him.
“It usually what?”
“Oh, um… nothing.” Eren looked back to the sky, using an index finger to scratch at the bark. “Forgot what I was going to say.”
The colours gradually became richer, the vanishing sun producing a bright glare as it bent on the horizon. Eren squinted at it, blinking more frequently to compensate. A fiery orange splayed across the sky, fading to a soft purple that appeared violet as it melted into the puffy outskirts of each cloud. Eren’s keen ears picked up on the songs of several new insects, presumably beginning to wake for the night. A wing brushed against his shoulder as Levi shifted. “What do you think?” Eren asked again, hopeful.
“It’s not bad,” Levi said.
“We probably see it differently, then.” Viridian wings drooped in disappointment. It had been an interesting experiment, but the brunet harboured some guilt for making Levi do this. Eren didn’t want him to feel bad for not being able to see it. Turning his head, Eren’s intended apology was forgotten when he saw a deep cringe on the alphas face. Something about him looked weird, and a closer inspection revealed what it was. Levi’s pupils were abnormally contracted. Shrunken into tiny black pinheads that were almost lost within his metallic irises, struggling to limit the amount of light that was allowed to enter. “Um,” Eren said. “Are you okay?”
“Yes,” Levi replied with a few rapid blinks, sleek eyebrows pulling together. “It only stings a little bit.”
“What?!” Eren was alarmed, and reflexively threw a hand out to shield Levi’s eyes. Instead of easing the discomfort, his palm smacked straight into the alphas nose. Eren winced at the contact, while Levi flinched away with a short grunt and covered his face, black wings giving a few frantic flaps to keep himself from falling off the branch. “Sorry!” Eren’s hands were hesitant as they hovered in the air around Levi’s face, desperate to help but fearful of making the situation worse. “Oh god, I’ve taken out your eyes and your nose.”
“Arg… no. I’m fine,” Levi dropped his hand, revealing no visible damage to his face besides a prominent frown, although that wasn’t anything new. He wiggled his nose a bit, bothered by the lingering tingle. “It didn’t hurt much.”
“I’m so sorry, I didn’t me-”
“I said it’s fine,” Levi interrupted.
Eren clamped his mouth shut. He still felt bad about it, but apologies only seemed to irritate Levi further. Turquoise eyes dropped down to the branch they were on, staring aimlessly at the bark. “But why would you do that, if it hurt?”
“It was far from excruciating,” Levi said flatly. After several seconds of heavy silence, it became clear that his answer was insufficient. He released a loud sigh, shrugging as black wings drooped down behind him. “I thought… if I ignored it, I might be able to see what you wanted to show me.”
Brown eyebrows scrunched together, and Eren couldn’t stop himself from frowning. The fact that Levi had done it for him only made it worse. “Never do that again,” Eren said, trying to sound assertive. “I don’t want you to be in pain, no matter what.”
Levi stared at him with a blank expression, vacant, blinking once before turning his attention to the forest. Silver eyes danced over the leaves as they swayed around them, a sudden gust of wind causing them to flutter.
Letting out a huff, Eren took it as a silent acknowledgement and returned to the view. The sun had completely vanished behind the horizon and left a gentle peach in its wake, colours that diffused across the sky like a fading memory. Eren hardly ever took moments to appreciate the beauty of twilight, he was usually home by this time or rushing to get there, but it was definitely worth looking at. There was a shuffle besides him, and the brunet looked over to see that Levi had stood up.
“We need to go,” Levi said, giving the pastel sky a brief glance as his wings stretched out. “It’s dangerous for you to fly in the dark. Last time was fine, but we should try to avoid it.”
The omega’s nod went unseen, Levi swooping off the branch without bothering to wait for a response. While following Levi through the night had been successful the last time, it had been a terrifying experience that Eren did not wish to repeat. There were substantial risks to flying blind, regardless of how careful they were. Namely, getting lost or smacking into something. Climbing to his feet, Eren jumped from the branch to trail behind Levi.
The light became increasingly dim throughout the return journey. Turquoise eyes took in the tendrils of encroaching shadow, dark and ominous as the canopy grew denser above them. It was lucky that they left when they did. Time often got away from Eren, being too distracted by his thoughts and the aesthetic scenery. He was grateful that Levi had thought ahead and saved them from another unpleasant night-flight.
They reached their destination before it became too difficult to see. Landing was still something Eren struggled with, but he had learnt that clinging to the side and jumping in was much easier than aiming for the entrance. As expected, Levi smacked into it with reckless abandon, his heels digging into the wall as he clung to the rough fibres. Green eyes glanced across to receive a curt head gesture from Levi, indicating for him to enter first. Eren complied.
Once inside, Eren darted straight for the nest. His body only now realising that he hadn’t rested much since departing his own home, a dull ache flaring up in his muscles. Pausing next to it, the brunet peeked over his shoulder with questioning eyes. Levi stood near the entrance, staring at nothing in particular. His face looked thoughtful, void of emotion but clearly focused on something, contemplative.
As Levi had made no objections thus far, Eren assumed it would okay to make himself comfortable. He crawled into the nest, releasing a content sigh at the feel of silken feathers beneath his hands. More material had been added since the last visit, the soft mound seeming somewhat larger than before.
Sitting on his knees, Eren reaching behind himself to fiddle with the ties at the back of his shirt. It was warm enough among the feathers to take his second one off, and Eren hoped to keep it clean enough to wear another day. With the garment untied, Eren pulled the shirt over his head and tossed it aside, fluffing up chocolate hair in the process. The omega looked around, pausing when he saw that Levi was staring at him now, silver irises shining in dark blueness. He appeared tense, Eren observed.
Levi exhaled loudly, gaze shifting to the crumpled shirt that had been discarded on his floor. “Do you need anything?”
“I don’t think so.”
“You’re not hungry?” Levi’s head tilted slightly, it was more of an offer than anything else.
“Oh!” Eren jerked forward. The sudden exclamation seeming to confuse Levi, a thin eyebrow raising with hesitant interest. “I almost forgot, I brought something with me,” Eren explained as he patted around his waist with probing fingers, quick to find the pouch he’d attached there earlier.
Levi stepped closer, sniffing, curious of what the tiny bag contained. “What is it?” He asked, wings swaying from side-to-side as he kneeled near the edge of the nest.
“It’s, um…” Feeling unsure, Eren twirled the string of the pouch around his finger. It had seemed like a great idea in the morning, but that was before he’d caught Farlan chewing on an insect leg. Could Levi even eat this? Eren didn’t want to give the alpha anything that could cause him harm. A quiet flap from midnight wings drew his focus back, the motion suggestive of impatience, and lustrous silver eyes were staring at him with expectancy. “It’s something my mother made,” Eren said. “I was going to offer you some, but… it’s fruit?” He motioned to the bag with an awkward hand gesture, hoping it was enough to convey his concern.
Levi blinked down to the bag, eyeing it with intrigue. “I’ll eat it.”
“Are you sure? I don’t-” The pouch was snatched from Eren’s hand before he could object any further. Feeling confident that he’d gotten his point across earlier, Eren decided to settle into the nest as Levi investigated the pouch’s contents, watching with amusement.
Levi held the bag up to sniff at it, a series of sharp inhales. The strong smell of spice was overwhelming. He moved it away from his face, huffing as he examined it with narrowed eyes. It smelt different to any fruit he’d encountered before, with traces of cinnamon and nutmeg that tickled at his nose. Levi pried the pouch open with nimble fingers, selecting a small piece of a pinkish-red colour.
Curious green eyes watched as Levi bit into it rather strangely, using the side of his mouth. The reason became clear when one of the alphas canines sunk into it. It seemed like Levi was attempting to tear it like flesh, but the tooth was obviously not intended for chewy pieces of fruit. Eren sucked on his lip, worried that it might get stuck.
Realising he was doing it wrong, Levi removed his fang from the sticky treat and put the whole thing in his mouth. An intense sweetness assaulted his tongue, the sugary taste almost sickening, followed by a combination of spices that made his nose scrunch up in disgust. Levi wanted to spit it out, but he could not bring himself to do something so revolting. At least not in front of an audience. He swallowed it instead, not bothering to chew.
Eren made a high-pitched chirp, enquiring. The alphas lips were pulled into a thin line, black eyebrows slanted with a crease between them, all together giving the impression that Levi hadn’t enjoyed what Eren had given him.
“Why is it so sweet?” Levi asked, dumbfounded. “Fruit doesn’t taste like that.”
“It’s dried and preserved. We add honey, a few spices.” Green eyes following the tip of Levi’s tongue as it glided between his lips. “It… tastes good.”
Levi gave a short hum, finally ridding his mouth of the taste. “I don’t understand how you could like that.”
“More sugar means more energy. That’s why some animals drink flower nectar, especially the more active ones.” Eren shrugged, looking down as he stroked the feathers. It was a shame that Levi hadn’t liked it, but it wasn’t too disheartening. Eren just needed to learn more about him. “Wait, but…” He said, glancing back up to meet metallic eyes. “My scent is sweet, and you said you liked it?”
“I do like it, a lot, but that doesn’t mean I want to-” Levi stopped, eyebrows pinching together for a moment, confused. He cleared his throat, abandoning the thought. “That’s… different. You’re a fairy-” Levi pointed at the small bag. “And this is fruit.”
Eren hummed to himself, suspicious of what the alpha had been about to say. It was getting progressively darker, but he had still been able to see the peculiar look on Levi’s face. Just as he’d been about to ask, a loud yawn escaped him instead, the sound breathy and drawn out. The omega blushed a little bit, embarrassed that he hadn’t thought to cover his mouth. Levi didn’t seem to mind at all, in fact it looked as though he’d spaced out again.
“I won’t be having any more of this,” Levi said as he handed the pouch back, sparing it a wary glance as he did so. He stood up, the edge of the nest shifted with a faint crinkle. “I’ll be back later.”
“What?” Eren’s posture straightened, clasping the small pouch to his chest as he blinked up Levi, struggling to make out his expression at this distance. A strange prickling sensation crawled over Eren’s skin. “Where are you going?”
Levi cooed, a string of soft vibrations in response to the omega’s worried tone. “You’re safe here, nothing would dare enter. I’ll stay close enough to make sure of that.” Silver eyes flicked down to the pouch in Eren’s hands before returning to his face. “I hadn’t been awake long when you got here. I’m not tired, and I need to eat.”
“Oh… yeah. I understand,” Eren said, relaxing into the nest of feathers. It was no big deal. The brunet often went exploring on his own, he would be perfectly fine by himself for a while. Eren wasn’t sure why he had found the idea so alarming. “I want to sleep now anyways, so it doesn’t matter.”
There was a moment of silence, Levi remaining where he stood. Black wings tilted in the darkness as he spoke hesitantly. “Do you want me to stay until you fall asleep?”
“Huh?” Eren frowned at the proposition. “I don’t need a babysitter.”
Levi backed away a bit, realising that his words hadn’t been the wisest. “I didn’t mean it like that... you don’t know this place very well, I thought you might feel uncomfortable.”
Eren sighed as he ran a hand through his hair, frustrated by his own emotions. He had always valued his independence and was determined to preserve it, even more so after his dynamic became apparent… but Levi was only trying to be considerate. “Sorry,” Eren squeaked, timidly looking up to meet the alphas eyes. “I don’t know why I said that. I’m just tired, I think.”
Levi raised an eyebrow, intrigued as he watched Eren shuffle around in the nest. He rearranged the feathers to form a pillow of sorts, then flopped onto it with a quiet huff. Sniffing, Levi was pleased to find that the omegas scent was already calm and restful. Black wing tips flicked behind him. “I won’t be far away.”
Rolling on to his side, Eren gave a small hum in response. He had forgotten how soft and comfortable the bed of feathers was, his body melting into the cushy material with ease. Eren contemplated stealing a few to take home with him, but he was sure his mother wouldn’t like that… there was no doubt that Carla would be worried at the moment, hopefully Armin kept to his word and was reassuring her of Eren’s safety.
Viridian wings shifted to find a better position. Growing curious in the silence, Eren peeked out of the nest, confirming that Levi was indeed gone. It wasn’t pitch black as he’d expected, his eyes still able to differentiate between the outlines of various shapes, and there was a subtle glow illuminating the entrance. Very dissimilar to the blindness Eren had experienced the last time he was here; tonight’s moon must be bright enough to break through the trees.
Laying down on his side again, Eren’s knees raised up as he curled into a little ball. There was a cricket outside, he noticed, his ears recognising the distinct chirps of stridulation. A single song that echoed in the silence, no others to harmonise with. It sounded lonely… perhaps Levi would eat it.
Eren nuzzled into the nest, the feathers coated with the scent of fermented grapes. It was warm, embracing, almost as if Levi was there with him.
When Eren awoke, he wasn’t at all surprised to find Levi sleeping close by. Stands of jet-black hair were splayed against the edge of the nest, one of Levi’s dark wings draped limply over his face to shield himself from the morning light. Very much the same as how he’d slept the last time Eren was here. The only change was that he was slumped on the other side, a different spot entirely.
Eren felt bad for stealing the alphas bed, it didn’t appear to be very comfortable down on the floor. It was a considerate but unnecessary gesture. Eren wouldn’t mind sharing the nest with Levi, he might even prefer it as he was used to doing so with his mother. Turquoise eyes drifted astray, noticing that Levi was laying quite close to the shirt he’d taken off last night. Eren wondered if that was a coincidence or not.
Resting his chin on the nest, Eren watched him sleep for a while. There wasn’t much to look at, most of his body blanketed by the living curtain, but… Levi smelt amazing.
Eren had no idea why the alphas scent was so strong while he slept, it was as if Levi was unintentionally trying to lure him in for a morning cuddle. Eren guessed it was simply because he’d been in the same place for a long time. It was tempting to crawl over to get a better sniff, but the brunet had already learnt his lesson. Sneaking up on an unconscious Levi was a bad idea. Eren was yet to be growled at, and he would prefer to keep it that way.
Even so, it was difficult to resist the enticing scent. Eren fondly remembered how it felt to have his nose pressed into Levi’s neck. Even though it had only been for a brief moment, it provided a unique sense of satisfaction that had warmed his whole body. But it was still a bad idea, Eren didn’t want to startle him again. Perhaps Levi would allow it when he was awake.
The best solution was to remove himself from the temptation, Eren decided. He carefully stepped out of the nest, slow to ensure silence, and sneaked over to the entrance. He took care to avoid any frail twigs that could snap beneath his feet.
Eren poked his head outside to examine the forest, squinting as the unexpected brightness. Perhaps it wasn’t morning at all. Airborne speaks of dust and pollen were visible in pillars of light that filtered through the treetops, floating back down to the earth with lazy conviction. With the sun concealed by the blanket of leaves, there was no way for Eren to tell how late in the day it was. Although, he supposed it didn’t matter much here. With the light came sufficient warmth, accompanied by a gentle breeze that made for a comfortable temperature.
A sound in the distance caught Eren’s ear, a shrill voice that carried through the forest. He decided to investigate, needing to find some water to drink anyways. Emerald wings flapped as Eren took off, swerving between the dense tree trunks as he headed towards the disturbance.
The voices soon became recognisable as those of Isabel and Farlan. They seemed to be well awake and causing a commotion, prompting Eren to wonder just how long he had slept for. Looking down, the brunet spotted them on the ground as he flew overhead. He circled back, landing with deft movements on a low branch, his arrival going undetected. This was an excellent opportunity to do some night-fairy watching. Eren shuffled to the end of the branch and peered down at the couple below, apparently in the middle of another squabble.
“No way is this my fault!” Isabel waved a hand in the air to dismiss the accusation, then pointed a stern finger at the blonde’s face. “I saw what you did, you little sneak.”
“You’re the little one," Farlan chuckled as he patted her on the head. “Even if you stood on your toes, I’d still be able to see over you.”
“What?! No way! I’m not that short, are-” She cut off with a small gasp, crossing her arms in defiance. “Hey, stop trying to distract me!”
“What if I say I didn’t mean to?” Farlan smiled, dark grey wings flapping as he produced a few quiet chirps.
“I don’t believe you.”
“It was an accident, Is.” Farlan moved towards her, cooing while he rubbed his face into red hair.
“Oi, don’t you-” Isabel stopped with a giggle, leaning into the attention. “Wait! You can’t get off the hook by acting cute. That’s not fair, I’m won’t le- haha!” She laughed, Farlan trilling softly as he wrapped his arms around her.
Eren felt like he shouldn’t be watching this. He decided to make his presence known before they had a chance to do anything weird. Lifting his leg, Eren stomped on the bark to mimic a landing, both sets of eyes being drawn to the noise.
“Hey Shiny,” Farlan greeted, taking a step back from the redhead.
Eren jumped down form the branch, landing on the ground in front of them with a soft thud. “Morning.” Turquoise eyes flicked between them, uncertain. “Sorry… if I interrupted something.”
Isabel scoffed. “He wishes.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Farlan said, raising a suggestive eyebrow at his mate. “I’d never take Isabel on the ground, too dangerous.”
Eren flinched away from the squeal, covering his offended ear as he gave the blonde a blank look. “Um, okay...”
“Watch out for these alphas, Eren.” Isabel crossed her arms again, turning away to hide the faint blush that dusted her cheeks. “They’re nothing but trouble.”
Farlan’s eyes narrowed, wings giving a single flap behind him. “She doesn’t mean that.”
“Yeah, I figured,” Eren said, glancing at the plants around them. Mostly ferns and shrubs, but he noticed a few more unique types hiding among them. There was even a strange flower resting against a tree root, the petals a dark purple with tiny yellow polka-dots. Eren thought it best to leave it alone, not knowing the species or whether it might be dangerous. Green eyes went back to the pair of fairies. “Why are you two awake at this time?”
Isabel chuckled, murky-green wings swaying playfully. “It’s not that early, you must’ve slept in.” She glanced up at the canopy. “And, well… the seasons are changing. It’s getting warmer, which means the nights are becoming shorter.”
“We can’t stay up any later than we already do,” Farlan said. “We always sleep before the sun rises, so the only solution is to wake up earlier.” His eyebrows came together, thinking. “I’m not sure if it’s actually earlier, or if it the sun just stays in the sky for longer… I find it confusing.”
“At least you guys can see during the day. If the sun isn’t out, I can’t be either.” Eren sighed at his own words. He would gladly stay up later to spend more time with Levi, but there wouldn’t be much point since he wouldn’t be able to do anything. But they could always talk, he supposed, and the previous night hadn’t been blindingly dark. Eren wondered if their day vision was similar to how he saw under moonlight. “But why can’t you stay up later?” He asked. “The morning isn’t much different to the afternoon.”
Farlan raised his eyebrows. “I think you already know why.”
“Oh,” Eren said lamely. It was a bit shameful that he hadn’t thought of that, but he had never witnessed it himself, not properly at least. Everyone knew that it was to be avoided at all costs. “Yeah, the dawn chorus…”
“That’s right!” Isabel jumped on the spot, her wings flapping erratically as she started clapping a rhythm. And then she begun to sing, poorly. “Here comes the dawn chorus, don’t try-to-fight! A birdy will eat you up in one-big-bite!”
“What the hell?” Farlan looked at her, cringing at the unpleasant vocals. “Where’d you learn that?”
“I made it up.”
“Just now.” Isabel grinned, smug despite the negative feedback. “Should I make a song about you next, darling? I could call it, Farlan the Fat Blueberry.”
Farlan groaned and raised a hand to cover his face. “Please don’t.”
“Anyways!” Isabel put the musical on her to-do list and turned to Eren, her mouth pulling into a sly smile. “So, how’s it going? Did you like Levi’s bracelet?” Red eyebrows waggled comically on her face, teasing. “I see you’re not wearing it, but I don’t blame you. You’d probably just end up with a bunch of scratches.”
“It was a nice thought, but I think I’m going to make some… slight alterations,” Eren said, placing a hand over his pocket to check that it was still there. “I heard it was your idea.”
“Of course.” Isabel pointed an accusatory finger a Farlan, whose head tilted to the side with an innocent expression. “This one doesn’t know a thing about it either, I couldn’t believe it.” Huffing, Isabel placed her hands on her hips. “Levi took my idea but refused to let me help him with it. That’s why you were presented with a thorn bush. And then he wanted to throw it away, but I managed to convince him otherwise. You seem like someone that would appreciate the gesture even if the gift was shitty.”
Unsure how he should respond to that, Eren shrugged and tried to stay positive. “The shells are a pretty colour.”
“Hah! Who knows where he got those from. You’re lucky to get a bracelet, Farlan used to just bring me random crap. Pebbles, dead seeds…” Isabel glared at the blonde out the corner of her eye. “Oddly shaped sticks.”
Farlan met her eyes, feigning offense. “And you were happy to receive them.”
“I’m still mad at you, by the way. I spent ages making that necklace!”
“Is that what you were arguing about?” Eren asked. It was none of his business, but the way they were speaking suggested it wasn’t anything personal.
“Okay, listen up,” Isabel said. “Yesterday, Farlan told me that he thought my new necklace was ugly. And today he just so happened to grab it and break it. Doesn’t that sound suspicious to you?”
“Oh, um…” Eren raised a hand to scratch the back of his neck. He shouldn’t have asked. “I guess so?”
Farlan rolled his eyes, clearly not bothered by the brunet’s agreement. “Let’s go home then,” He gave Isabel a pointed look. “I’ll make it up to you.”
“You can try,” Isabel said. Swampy-green wings flapped as she turned to face Eren, giving him a goofy wave. “Was good to see you!”
The pair kicked up a cloud of dust as they took off together. Eren used his arm to shield his face from it, eyes blinking away the few particles that managed to sneak in. These fairies needed to be taught some manners, he rarely had these troubles around his own kind. Isabel and Farlan seemed to have an interesting relationship though. Is that what it’s like to have a mate? Eren wasn’t so sure, although the arguing appeared to be mostly in jest.
The omega stuck his nose in the air, giving it several earnest sniffs. General forest smells were the most apparent, that of rich soil and dense vegetation, slightly humid due to heat being trapped beneath the towering trees. When he focused, Eren was able to detect the dampness he was searching for. He took to the sky on fluttering wings, heading towards it.
Eren soon found himself at a body of water. Landing in the surrounding grass, curious green eyes scanned the area. The water was vast and an irregular shape, a crystal blue colour that eluded to its depth, speckled with shimmering pools of golden light. Vibrant fronds of riparian ferns dangled above it, the forks of leaves casting fingered shadows to claw at surface.
Eren creeped through the grass, kneeling as he reached the water’s edge. He examined the liquid, suspicious of its quality. It was good practice to avoid stagnant sources, flowing rivers and streams generally had the purest water. Now that he was up close, blades of several aquatic plants were visible at the bottom, lining the perimeter and wafting up like ribbons of olive-brown steam. Cupping his hands, Eren scooped up some of the liquid to smell it, finding the scent crisp and natural. It was deemed safe to drink. He sipped at the water, enjoying the refreshing coolness as it slid down his throat, and then took the opportunity to wash himself a bit.
When he was done, Eren shook his head to flick the remaining beads of water from his hair. Viridian wings fluttered as he stood up to look around some more. There wasn’t much else of interest, just an abundance of trees and a thick monoculture of grass on the ground. Eren was sure that there must be some unique plants in the area, although they were evidently very skilled at concealing themselves. With such a bland selection of flora, it was no wonder that Levi had chosen to put bark on the bracelet.
As there was nothing else to do, Eren decided that he would go check if Levi was awake yet. A wave of wind rippled over the greenery as he took off and started to back-track through the forest.
For the first time in a while, Eren knew exactly where he was going. He followed the same route, flying at a leisurely pace as he took in the hushed sounds of nature, clacking insects and the whistle of birds. The solitude was enjoyable, a quite calmness that was difficult to find in his colony. There was always someone or something there, the constant movement of life depriving him of a moments silence. It was less grating at night, but then he was stuck inside with his mother and the far-off voices could still be heard. Peace was a rare thing in such a populated area. Eren cherished it now, the whispering wind serene beneath his wings.
It didn’t take too long for him to reach the area surrounding the hanging nest, distinguished by the generous number of burnt-orange toadstools littering the forest floor. Feeling brave, the omega thought that he’d try to land like the others do. Eren flew into the outside wall with open arms. Grunting at the impact, he barely managing to dig his fingers into the entwined grass and avoid falling. Not as easy as it looked. After taking a moment to compose himself, Eren shuffled along and jumped into the nest.
Pushing his hair back, Eren saw that Levi was awake now. He was standing in the middle of the room, motionless as he stared at nothing, the omegas shirt scrunched up in one of his fists.
This was troublesome… Levi had already expressed his concern about how Eren’s scent seemed to mess with his head, and that shirt would be drenched in it. Levi had been sleeping with it, and the fact that it was in his hand meant he’d probably been smelling it. Eren should have been more aware. “Levi… are you okay?” He asked, taking a cautious step inside.
Gunmetal eyes snapped over to him. Levi’s wings spread wide and raised in the air, rigid with tension, the eyespots glowing an intense blood red. “Where did you go?”
The voice was gravely serious and made Eren stop where he stood. It was similar to when he’d tried to stop him from leaving, except this time, the alpha seems to be more conversationally inclined. The tone was worrying, but Levi had also said that he wouldn’t hurt him. Eren wanted to believe that.
“Nowhere, really…” He answered, taking a step back as Levi started walking towards him. “I wanted to let you sleep, so I went out for a bit.” Emerald wings splayed out against the wall as he bumped into it, releasing a nervous squeak. Eren didn’t have much experience with alphas, but even he knew that they could get quite possessive. Perhaps night-fairies suffered from it more intensely. Levi’s scent had changed, he noticed. It was richer, more fragrant and musky, the spicy tones sharp with assertive dominance. Eren never thought that he would be find an aggressive scent so affective, but now it was making his body quiver.
“I thought you’d left,” Levi growled, maintaining eye contact as he closed the distance. He stopped directly in front of Eren, black wings curling forward to box him in. “I thought you were gone.”
“I… I should have told you.” Eren tried his best to ignore the luminous spots on either side of his head. Crimson light was reflecting in Levi’s eyes, pools of heated mercury staring back with acute focus, the pupils dilated with searing ferocity.
Eren swallowed, willing himself to remain calm despite having been robbed of his escape route. “But everything is okay now. I’m fine, see? I was just with Farlan and Isa-” Eren was cut off by a snarl, a crackling rumble in Levi’s throat, the bare mention of another alpha enough to provoke him. His attention was drawn to Levi’s mouth, the side of his lip was curled up to allow the rough vocalisation. It put a single fang on display, bone-white and glossy with saliva.
“Eren…” Levi whispered, dark and languid, the ominous tone sending a shiver down Eren’s spine. Leaning closer, Levi pressed his face into unruly brown hair. He took a deep breath. “Aren’t you frightened?”
Let me know what you think, your comments fuel my ravenous soul :D
Chapter 7: Plum
This chapter is 100% Eren and Levi! YAY!
Reminder that this is NOT my art. I'm sure the artist appreciates your compliments, but please don't direct them towards me personally!
I'm sorry if the quality is reduced *cry*.
I love seeing a different interpretation of Levi's wings! Very moth-esque. ;D
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Eren stilled himself to consider the question. There was a strange and complex combination of emotions coursing through his body, but fear was certainly not one of them. “I’m not,” Eren said. He felt a sudden warmth against the side of his head as Levi exhaled, followed by a faint snuffling. The proximity seemed to be calming him down, although the alphas scent was still thick with tension. “What are you thinking about?”
It was silent for a while except for Levi’s heavy breaths. A quiet response finally came, little more than a whisper.
“Last night, I was going to say that I don’t want to eat you. But that’s not entirely true.” Levi shifted against chestnut hair, closing his eyes and taking in more of the sweet fragrance. “I know you’re not food, Eren. And yet… I want to put you in my mouth. I’m thinking about how you’d taste.”
Turquoise eyes stared Levi’s broad shoulder, at a complete loss for words. With his neck so close, the scent was potent and practically hovering over Eren’s tongue, tempting, eluding to something even better. Eren was beginning to have similar thoughts. Licking his lips, green eyes pulled away from the pale skin. It was clear that Levi was on the verge of snapping and Eren wasn’t sure what would happen if he pushed him further.
“I’m worried I might do something I shouldn’t,” Levi said. “It’s difficult to control myself around you, but I’m…” Levi let out a sigh as his wings relaxed a bit, the black appendages lowering to free Eren from his makeshift cage. “I’m trying.”
Eren’s eyes followed one of the dark wings with interest, watching it slip away and return to its rightful position. “It’s okay.” He reached out to gently press his fingertips to Levi’s side, a careful touch. “You make me feel like that as well,” Eren said. Levi pulled back a little, far enough for curious silver eyes to watch him from behind a curtain of jet-black hair. “I, um… when you were gone last night. It felt… weird, even though I knew you’d come back.”
Levi took a moment to respond. He moved closer, gazing into emerald eyes with wonder. “You missed me?”
“Yeah, I guess I did.” Eren froze when he felt Levi’s nose brush against his cheek, warm breaths ghosting over his skin. The alpha started to make a soft rumbling sound, purring happily as he gave Eren’s face a timid nuzzle. Viridian wings attempted to flutter at the affection but just ended up writhing on the grass wall they were splayed against.
“I’m sorry for behaving like this,” Levi mumbled into the brunet’s cheek. “I woke up and you weren’t here. I didn’t know where you’d gone, when… or why.”
“I know,” Eren said, trying to ignore the tickle of Levi’s voice on his skin. “At least you’re being honest, that’s a good thing. We can work on it, and I won’t disappear without telling you.”
“Honest?” Levi hummed, deep and thoughtful, then moved back to meet the omegas eyes again. “I really like you, Eren.”
“Oh…” Eren blinked at the pools of melted silver that were hovering in front of him. Levi’s expression was softer now, eyes welcoming and lips slightly parted, the aggression in his scent fading to something more vulnerable. “I like you, too.”
“That’s good.” Inky black wings flapped behind him, the movement twitchy and nervous. “Because I, uh…” Levi struggled for a moment, eventually breaking eye contact and nuzzling into chocolate hair again. “I want to court you. Or rather… I think I’m already doing it, but I want to make sure that’s what you want.”
“You are?” Eren felt his face beginning to heat up, the realisation settling into his mind. That bracelet was just like the charm Armin had received from Erwin, albeit less pretty, but the implication seemed to be the same. Had any other of Levi’s gestures had gone unnoticed? There was the possessiveness and reluctance to be separated, but Eren had thought that was just general alpha behaviour.
Levi tilted his head, giving the brunet a gentle nudge. “Is that okay?”
Eren stopped himself from blurting out an answer, this was something that required thought. This meant that Levi could end up becoming his mate, right? The idea made Eren’s heart hammer in his chest as his omega keened with approval, but he was still hesitant. He’d never shown interest in courting before and had even cautioned Armin about it. The sudden insistence of his dynamic was disconcerting… but he liked Levi, there was no mistaking that. A part of Eren knew he wouldn’t have gone to such great lengths just to make a new friend. “I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do,” Eren said, swallowing dryly. “But yes, that’s okay.”
Levi released a sigh of relief, black wings beginning to sway in the air with content. “I’m no expert. So far, I’ve just been following my instincts.” Levi turned his head to look at Eren, metallic irises shimmering with fondness. “It seems like… I’m going to make a fool out of myself, and you need to decide whether you like it or not.”
“Right,” Eren replied with a small nod. He felt like this was something he should discuss with his mother before agreeing to, it was common for an alpha to ask for the parents’ approval in advance, but Carla wasn’t here… she wouldn’t mind too much. Eren’s focus was drawn to Levi’s lips, one of the corners lifted into the tiniest of smiles. They were a nice shape, full and refined, the subtle curves almost sultry. Incredibly soft-looking despite the weaponry that laid beneath. Levi licked them, the tip of his tongue leaving behind a glossy sheen.
“Uh… yeah,” Levi said absently. He stepped back to move out of the omegas personal space, silver eyes looking away as he cleared his throat. When he glanced down, Levi realised that he was still clutching onto Eren’s shirt, the material thoroughly wrinkled in his tight grip. A semi-effective form of stress relief. He frowned, relaxing his fist and tossing the garment aside. “Do you want to go out?”
“Sure,” Eren replied, wings finally able to stretch as he put some distance between himself and the wall. “I love exploring new places, and I bet there’s heaps of interesting things in this forest.”
“I enjoy it, too.”
Eren bubbled with excitement, grinning brightly. “Really?”
“Yes.” Levi raised a thin eyebrow, surprised by the extent of the reaction. “The world is vast, it makes sense to see as much of it as possible. If you never go anywhere or do anything, then what’s the point in being free?”
“Free?” Eren’s head tilted to the side, examining the alpha was curious eyes. “I think it’s possible to stay in the same place and still be free.”
“That depends on where you are.” Black wings flicked in the air as Levi turned to the entrance. “Let’s go. You can lead us wherever you want, I’ll know the way back.”
Eren trilled happily as he dashed over to the opening, the radiant afternoon light beckoning him for an adventure. After waiting for Levi to join him on the edge, Eren made a show of his elegant take-off with swift and gentle wing beats. He was grateful to go first, not having to endure another face-full of wind from Levi’s excessive take-off.
Soaring on viridian wings, the brunet wondered where he should go now that he was free to do so. It felt strange to be leading the flight, he enjoyed watching Levi’s agile movements and so it was a shame that he couldn’t see. Turquoise eyes scanned the surrounding area, deciding to head in a random direction until he spotted something that caught his interest.
The wind blew through Eren’s hair, sending chocolate strands ruffling in every direction imaginable. When the trees became sparser, the omega held his arms out on either side and closed his eyes for a moment, embracing the sensation of weightlessness. It was dangerous, he knew, but the experience was unlike any other and pumped his body with adrenaline. An extraordinary feeling. Eren didn’t dare do it for too long, eyes blinking open after only a few brief seconds. Unable to hear anything from behind him, Eren let out a sharp chirp, questioning. The response came immediately, a reassuring warble as Levi made his presence known.
After some time, Eren spotted a patch of colour on the forest floor, boldly contrasting with the soil and browning grass. Wings fluttered as he descended, feet touching down on dry dirt. Levi dropped down next to him, crouching to absorb the impact of the fall, and Eren frowned. He was going to hurt himself one day. Dismissing it, Eren examined the area. The colours came from an odd type of mushroom, several of them sprouting out of the ground. The stalks and caps were a bashful shade of periwinkle, calm as a lavender sky, but they were speckled with random blotches of pumpkin orange, the spots in disarray like splattered paint. Eren squinted and edged closer to one of them, sniffing. There was no discernible scent, only a hint of dustiness.
Levi scoped out the area, sharp silver eyes flicking through the shadows of the surrounding trees. There was rarely any cause for concern during the day, but one should still be careful. When the inspection was complete, Levi sighed and folded his arms, watching the omega shuffle around the patch of mushrooms.
Eren crouched down, making himself the same height as the bizarre fungus. Holding a hand out to it, he glanced at Levi over his shoulder. The alpha gave no reaction, blinking lazily as he continued to stare. Eren poked the mushroom. Its squishy texture gave way under his fingertip, creating a small crater in the side of it. He prodded it again, giggling at how it collapsed under the pressure like a deflating sponge cake.
Standing up, the brunet found a new mushroom and circled around it, noticing that the spots were slightly darker on this one. Half way around, Eren felt his foot bump into something solid and glanced down, expecting to find a pebble there. Instead, two perfectly round golden eyes stared back up at him.
“Ah!” Eren shouted as he jumped back, startled by the sudden sound. He stumbled, falling back onto the solid ground with a yelp. Keeping his eyes locked onto the glowing yellow orbs, Eren barely noticed the series of flustered flaps taking place besides him.
Levi was in front of him in an instant, midnight wings raised high to emphasize their sharp apexes, releasing a deep growl at the threat.
Still on his butt, Eren peeked through the gap between Levi’s legs to see what was happening. The luminous orbs jolted towards them with a sudden eep. Eren flinched back, a small gasp leaving his lips. Levi must’ve seen its advance as a challenge, and Eren had to duck down to avoid being smacked in the head by his wings as they flapped furiously.
A viscous snarl tore its way out of Levi’s throat, the noise loud and cutting, his nose scrunched up to bare his teeth. Black wings went rigid, tips flicking with menace as the crimson eyespots lit up in a threat display.
The new creature recoiled with a pathetic squeak, apparently losing its confidence at the sight of Levi. Another round of crackling snarls spooked it for good. It released a meek whine as it attempted to scurry across the dirt, the sound like a deflating balloon. The animal soon found itself trapped by a barrier of dense foliage.
Eren managed to catch a glimpse of the creature. A long and narrow body scuttling along the ground in a frantic bid to escape, eventually circling back to cower beneath a mushroom. It was covered in glossy scales, the colour a dark royal purple. Curious, Eren emerged from behind his winged shield to shuffle closer.
Silver eyes widened in alarm as Levi saw Eren appear at his side, crawling away from him and his protection. “Eren, stop. It could be dangerous.” Levi attempted to grab him, failing miserably as his fingers slid across the omegas delicate sheer wings.
Eren approached with caution, slowly inching closer until he was staring into a pair of globular eyes, the golden pools looking back at him with an expression he interpreted as uncertainty. “It looks scared,” Eren said before holding his hand out, trilling reassurances. The creatures head tilted back and forth at the sound, eventually responding with a quiet meep as it came out from under the mushroom. It had a sleek body with four legs, each one ending in a little foot with incredibly long toes. The creatures head was angular and flat on the top, adorned with scales of a lighter purple. A small skink, roughly the same length as Eren’s legs.
Levi scowled, wings still stiff as he watched the animal clamber into Eren’s lap. “It looks like my breakfast.”
“No!” Eren scooped up the lizard, letting it squeak and squirm in his arms. “You can’t eat it.” Splaying one of his hands on the side of the scaly head, Eren turned it to face Levi. “Just look at it, it’s so cute!”
“Cute?” Levi eyed it with distrust. The skink stared back at him, giant yellow orbs unblinking and thoughtless as it let out another high-pitched meep. A long brown tongue slithered out of its mouth, the forked appendage waggling in the air with enthusiasm. Silver eyes narrowed, unimpressed. “I don’t think so.”
“Well, I do. You’ll just have to eat a mushroom instead.” Eren released his hold on the lizard and allowed it to wander off his lap. It paused to stare at Levi again, apparently still suspicious of the alpha. Eren wasn’t at all surprised.
“What should we name it?” Eren asked, eyes following the skinks twitchy movements as it scurried around in the soil, occasionally flicking its tongue out to test the air.
“It doesn’t need a name,” Levi said.
Eren hummed, considering the creature. “How about… Plum?” The skink looked at him, tilting its head quizzically. “Or something cooler? Maybe…” Eren squinted, lowering his voice to an ominous tone. “Shade.”
“You cannot keep it.”
“I’m just having fun,” Eren said as he picked up a nearby peddle, rolling it along the dirt towards the skink. Round yellow eyes tracked the movement, but it must have found the rock uninteresting as the lizard soon went back to lapping at the soil. There was a scatter of smaller scales over the top of its back and head, Eren noticed, reflecting with an iridescent gleam of purple and blue. If the scales were to shed, they would make stunningly beautiful jewellery. Eren placed a hand on the ground, standing up to examine the mushrooms. “Are they edible? I’m kinda hungry.”
“I don’t know, and you’re not going to test it." Levi walked closer to the brunet with a villainous smirk on his face, voice dropping to an eerie whisper. “We could still eat the lizard…”
Eren frowned, crossing his arms in defiance. “I said no.”
Levi let out a sharp huff, his face returning to its neutral expression. “Fine. Wait here, I’ll find you something to eat.” He leaned into Eren’s space without warning, and the omega tilting away in surprise. Silver eyes stared into emerald green. “Please, don’t run up to any strange creatures I’m gone.”
The alpha was gone in a second, leaving nothing behind expect for a turbulent breeze and the faint rustle of foliage. Eren glanced behind him, using the swaying bushes to guess the direction Levi had flown in. Unsure of what to do, the brunet threw his arms over a mushroom, grunting with effort as he hauled himself up and sat atop it. The squishiness made for a comfortable seat.
Pointed ears twitched at the intermittent noises coming from the forest, most of which were caused by wind. It was unusually quiet, not a single insect to be heard. The earlier commotion must have sent them all running for cover. Eren chuckled to himself, imagining an army of grasshoppers desperately bouncing away to escape Levi’s wrath.
Once he grew bored of waiting, Eren addressed the purple creature scuffling about on the ground. “Hey.” The skink scratched at the dirt, paying no attention to the greeting. Eren pursed his lips, wondering what it might be searching for. “I’m sorry for kicking you earlier. You were probably sleeping, right?”
Yellow eyes turned to the fairy, beady pupils staring at him with a vacant expression. It stuck out its darkly coloured tongue, making a subtle hissing sound as it undulated in the air.
“It’s a shame you can’t talk,” Eren said, using a finger to absently poke at the mushroom beneath him. The foamy texture was amusing. “I know Levi said he wants to kill you, but he’s actually pretty nice if you look past the growls and scary teeth.”
The lizard tilted its head, scales shining as it stared at Eren without a shred of comprehension.
“Tell me, Plum…” Eren leaned forward, squinting at the purple creature. “If I sneak you into Levi’s nest, do you think he’d let you stay?”
The brunet jumped with a start, almost toppling off his squishy toadstool.
Levi landed on the soil with a rough thump, the tips of black wings flicking as he gave the skink a withering look. “Were you just talking about me… to that thing?”
“Um,” Eren stalled, wings twitched as glanced to the side. He received a blank stare from large golden eyes. “No, of course not.”
“I heard my name.”
Eren huffed. “It’s not polite to eavesdrop on other people’s conversations.”
“That hardly qualifies as a conversation,” Levi said as he approached, coming to a stop in front of the omegas claimed mushroom. “There's no need for the lizard. You can talk to me instead.”
Turquoise eyes were drawn to the large spots on Levi’s wings, the area still giving off a vibrant blood-red glow. Did he still feel threatened by the skink? It clearly wasn’t dangerous, perhaps the alphas wings weren’t a very good indicator after all. Eren looked at into his real eyes instead, the chrome colour glittering back at him. “But I like Plum,” Eren said with a pout. “He’s cute.”
Levi held out his hand, offering several small pale-pink spheres. “I brought you food.”
“Wow, thanks!” Taking the objects, Eren raised one to his face to sniff at it, the fragrance unmistakably that of a berry. Fresh and fruity, probably straight off the tree.
The mushroom dipped as Levi placed his knee on the edge and leaned forward with outstretched wings, the pitch-black curtain effectively concealing everything else from Eren’s view. The eyespots cast a subtle red glow onto the omegas face as Levi got closer, highlighting his tanned skin.
It seemed like Levi was waiting for feedback on the berries. Eren tore his eyes away from the sheltering wings and popped one in his mouth, the fruit small enough to be eaten whole. He chewed with caution as he was unsure whether it had seeds or not. It was soft and juicy, the flavour more bitter than what Eren preferred but still enjoyable due to a sweet tartness.
Eren put a second berry in his mouth but paused when Levi started to make peculiar noises. It was a deep warbling, repetitive with the occasional high note, reminiscent of an indecisive owl. Turquoise eyes blinked up to where the alpha was hovering above him, like a vulture waiting for its prey to keel over.
Metallic irises flittering over Eren’s face, watching with avid interest. Black hair dangling to the side as Levi tilted his head, quizzical.
Swallowing, Eren examined the two berries that remained in his hand, then looked back to Levi. “Do you… want some?”
Dark wings began to sway as Levi shook his head. “It’s for you.”
“Are you sure?” Eren asked, his gaze following the luminous red pendulum that was swinging in front of him. The eyespots were really quite beautiful, Eren felt a little guilty for ever finding them frightening. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you eat properly.”
“I ate last night.”
Putting another berry in his mouth, Eren hummed as he chewed on it, wondering if Levi had actually eaten that obnoxiously loud cricket. Eren found the fact that he ate animals acceptable, but the deed itself was probably best left unseen. Once the fruit was finished, the swift flap of dark wings demanded Eren’s attention once again. Although the action was redundant as the appendages were encompassing him, making them the only thing he could possibly look at.
Levi jerked his head up a few times, like a backwards nod, the odd gesture making Eren’s eyebrows pull together in confusion. The alpha released a frustrated huff before repeating the movement with more devotion, leaning closer as he did so. Levi gave a short trill, a gentle chiming as he raised his chin again.
It was an invitation, Eren realised, one that he had no desire to decline. Shuffling forward, the brunet tilted towards Levi, giving him an inquisitive sniff. He hesitated, unsure until Levi lifted his head with a quiet grunt, the sound rough but somehow encouraging. Eren leaned in to slot his face beneath the alphas chin, finding a home in the hollow of his neck.
Viridian wings flapped with content as he breathed in the heady fragrance of mulled wine, a serene calmness washing over Eren’s body. Levi still exuded a protective strength from the earlier conflict, the scent rich with a promise of safety. Letting it wrap around him like a warm blanket, Eren soon gave up on supporting himself and rested his head against a sturdy shoulder. Levi was firm, but body heat and the slight give of relaxed muscle made it comfortable enough. Turquoise eyes gave a few lethargic blinks before drifting shut.
Levi adjusted his head, the movement careful as to not cause a disturbance, working to nudge the omega closer to his scent gland. Black appendages flapped with pride as Levi stared down at the motionless tangle of chestnut hair, having to silence a trill as he preened over the level of trust Eren was showing him. Ignoring the strain of their awkward position, Levi let his own eyelids half-close, satisfied with the result. At ease but determined to keep watch.
Levi suddenly became alert as he felt something scratch against his leg, the one that was supporting them from the ground. Black wings lowered as Levi glanced over his shoulder, meeting the pair of wide yellow eyes that were staring back with a hopeful gleam. The skink had its two front feet on him, long toes kneading at his calf as it attempted to crawl up. Silver eyes narrowed into an icy glare. “You little shit,” Levi hissed, shaking his leg until the lizard fell off its perch and rolled onto the dirt with a sad whine. “Get lost.”
“Mm?” Eren mumbled, incoherent as he began to stir.
Turning back to him without delay, Levi held still as a soft coo vibrated in his throat. His reassurance seemed to work, the omega responding with a sleepy chirp and nuzzling in further. Levi’s wings jerking with an involuntary twitch as the tip of Eren’s nose brushed against his sensitive skin, the touch torturously light and a little ticklish. It felt nice, the warm puffs of air making his body shiver.
It didn’t last long; Levi’s muscles soon began to protest the constant strain. His extended leg burned while the other was going numb from kneeling against the mushroom, the squishiness no longer enough to hinder his discomfort. Next time he would be sure to pick a more suitable position. Levi started to shift, gentle as he tried to coax Eren out of his nap.
Turquoise eyes fluttered open to the sound of Levi’s chirps, that along with the alphas scent chasing away his initial confusion about where he was. Eren blinked as he pulled away, not entirely sure how he ended up there. “Sorry,” he said, stretching his arms in the air. “I didn’t mean to fall asleep…”
Once Levi moved back to put some distance between them, Eren glanced around the forest. The light had diminished somewhat, golden rays breaching the canopy at a different angle, both suggesting that he’d been out long enough for the sun to move. Strange, Eren hadn’t felt tired at all. Had Levi’s scent done that to him?
Eren slid off his stool, wobbling a little as he made contact with the ground and gained his footing. The mushroom was damaged, the top scarred by an indent roughly the size of Eren’s behind. There was a slight movement as the sponge-like material tried to bounce back into shape, to no avail. Green eyes scanned the area, looking to Levi when the search came up empty. “Where’s Plum?”
Levi tapped the heel of his boot against the ground, glad to finally regain feeling in his leg. “The lizard went home.”
“Home?” Eren pursed his lips, squinting as he eyed the alpha with suspicion. “You weren’t mean to him, were you?”
“No.” Levi’s eyes flicked over to Eren, sterling silver shimmering with mischief. “Of course not.”
Eren huffed, sure that Levi had intentionally copied him. He was wary of the words, but any serious concerns were dispelled by the fact that Levi had been unable to move while Eren was sleeping on him. There was simply no way he could’ve eaten Plum.
Feeling energetic, the omega decided to look around some more. The mushroom patch had become boring and there was still sufficient sunlight. Viridian wings fluttered with excitement as Eren made his way further into the forest, opting to explore on foot. The vegetation grew denser, thick entanglements of overgrown shrubs and vines, their wiry branches reaching out to scratch and snag at anything that passed by. Eren managed to avoid them, taking extra care to not let his wings drift close enough to get caught.
As he pushed past a creeping branch, Eren paused with it in his hand and glanced over his shoulder. Levi was following closely, silent thus far, although his sleek eyebrows were drawn together in confusion. Eren gently repositioned the twig, ensuring it wouldn’t flick back to hit Levi in the face. Dead plants crunched beneath their feet, the fallen foliage shrivelled and crisp with decay.
“Why are we walking?” Levi asked, voice sharp with irritation as he slapped a leaf out of the way.
“I don’t like flying everywhere,” Eren said. “Being so high up, I’m sure we miss heaps of interesting things.”
“Fine.” Levi watched the pair of vibrant emerald wings sway in time with the omegas steps, admiring the lustrous ribbons of gold. “But we shouldn’t stay on the ground for much longer,” Levi said, his eyes drifting lower. “I’m not in the mood to fight off a stoat…”
“What are you in the mood for, then?” Eren asked with a breathy chuckle, smiling as he glanced behind him. Levi opened his mouth, but he must’ve lost the thought and quickly closed it again. “A cat?”
Levi didn’t seem to find the joke funny.
Eren was unphased by the lack of response, the idea of encountering either of those animals was far from amusing. Fortunately, these larger creatures were dispersive and inhabited a large territory, spread thin and rarely come across… but since Levi said that, perhaps they were more common in this area. Eren had never seen a stoat before, but the stories made them sound like truly terrifying beasts, wielding long needle-like teeth that could impale a fairy without much effort.
Carrying on through the forest, Eren was alert and kept an eye out for holes in the ground. It was carpeted by leaf litter and the remains of seeds that never managed to sprout, the decomposition giving off a faint earthy smell, damp and organic. Turquoise eyes spotted an obstruction ahead, a wall of darkened grey that, bleak among the wild flurry of foliage. As they got closer, Eren discovered it to be a mound of rocks protruding from the side of a small cliff.
The omega hurried over to get a better look, circling around until a moderately sized opening came into view. Placing a hand on the cold rock for support, Eren peered inside and gave the air a few sniffs. It appeared to be a tunnel of some description, the path within extending far further than he could see. Eren didn’t usually venture into places like this, but now he was being accompanied by a night-fairy. There was no better guide.
“How deep do you think it goes?” Eren asked as he took a step within, eyes scanning the walls and ceiling. It appeared to be quite stable.
Levi lingered outside, wings giving a precarious flap as he watched the omega stroll further into the cave. “Why are you going in there?”
Eren paused to look back, meeting anxious silver eyes. “I just want to look around a bit,” He said, tilting his head towards the tunnel. “Coming?”
“No. I’m not going in there, you should come out.”
“But you can see in the dark...”
“I’m aware of that.” Levi said, a little snarky.
Eren raised his eyebrows, baffled. “Then what’s the problem?”
“You shouldn’t just walk into random caves.” Black wings shifted behind Levi, twitching. “Something could be living inside.”
“We’d be able to smell if an animal was in there. It’s empty, I’m certain.” Eren examined the alphas tense posture for a moment, then shrugged his shoulders. “Stay here, then. I won’t take long.”
Eren touched his hand to the wall as he continued into the cave, letting his fingertips glide along the rough surface. The temperature dropped as he left the sunlight behind, a refreshing chilliness seeping into tan skin. Eren’s ears twitched, hearing a quiet tch from behind him and the subsequent echo of footsteps, quickly growing nearer. “Changed your mind?”
“I’d rather come now than have to search for you later,” Levi replied flatly.
“That’s nice of you,” Eren said as he navigated his way around a bend, glad that it wasn’t dark enough to blind him. There was water dripping from the ceiling, a repetitive plip that broke through the otherwise silent passageway. Wet stone smelt metallic, crisp and clean. It must be filtering through the soil above. His progress slowed down as it got darker, feet cautiously searching for purchase. “So,” Eren paused, surprised by the slight echo of his voice. “For you, does everything look the same as it does in the daylight? How do you see this place?”
“It’s difficult to explain.” Levi’s looked around, his thoughtful hum carrying through the cave. “I see less colour in the dark, but the outlines of shapes are more defined. Except… your wings are such a rich colour, I can still see them well.”
Eren smirked as he fluttered them with nimble elegance, showing off to the alpha. “Let me know if I’m about to trip over something.”
The cave suddenly got a little brighter, enough so for Eren to become confident in his steps. The change in lighting was odd, a subtle aquamarine hue that bounced off dull grey. It was emanating from a patch of glowing plants, Eren soon discovered, a blue-green moss that clung to the cave walls and threaded through the cracks in the stone. They were fibrous, fluffy masses that looked like tangled hair, strands protruding from the wall like tiny fingers. The amount of light they gave off was substantial, enough to illuminate a decent stretch of the passageway. Eren’s head tilted as he considered the plants. They would make beautiful lanterns, and it would be much easier than extracting substance from insects.
Tan fingers reached out, planning to test whether the glow was in the plant itself or an excretion of some kind. Eren squeaked as a hand wrapped around his wrist, firmly holding him in place.
“You can’t touch that one,” Levi said.
“Oh… thanks,” Eren said as he scrutinised the plant, wondering what harm the pretty thing could’ve caused him. Poisonous, most likely. With the lantern idea discarded, his attention shifted to Levi’s eyespots. Crimson red was bold in the dimly lit cave, although the bluish glow easily overpowered it. The moss outshined Levi’s wings. “These things are brighter than you.”
Levi blinked with indifference, his irises stretched thin and shining an icy blue in the plant light. He ignored the comment, instead giving the omegas wrist a gentle tug as he stepped back. “Let’s go now.”
“Yeah, okay…” Eren whispered, having forgotten that Levi was still holding on to him. Green eyes followed the brilliant red ovals, the spots swaying in time with Levi’s steps as they backtracked through the tunnel. While Eren enjoyed the physical contact, he thought the pull on his wrist was a bit too firm. “You don’t need to drag me,” Eren said, almost walking into Levi’s back as he came to a sudden stop.
“Sorry.” Softening his grip, Levi moved his palm down to hold onto Eren’s hand instead, hesitantly lacing their fingers together. “There are markings on the wall...”
“Huh?” Green eyes blinked to the side, hopelessly searching in the dark. There appeared to be a pattern on the stone, but Eren couldn’t make it out no matter how much he squinted.
“It looks like scratches,” Levi said. “I can’t tell what from.”
“Why would something scratch the rocks?”
“Animals do it to groom their claws and mark territory.”
Red eyespots shifted as the tips of Levi’s wings flicked, the visual cue giving enough forewarning for Eren to lean back and avoid getting a face-full. A deep warble came from Levi, quiet like a murmur, and then they were moving again.
Eren was compliant, following along at the alphas heels as he was guided back through the cave. Eyelashes fluttered as dim sunlight cut through the darkness. When they emerged from the rocks, Eren glanced over in time to see Levi’s eyes contract drastically, the gunmetal rings expanding to engulf a large portion of his pupils. “So cool…” Eren whispered to himself, then squeaked as Levi’s eyes shifted to dart over his face with curiosity. “Um, thanks for coming with me. I know you didn’t really want to.”
“I find caves unsettling, but… it wasn’t that bad,” Levi said, giving Eren’s hand a soft squeeze before letting go.
The brunet wiggled his fingers as cool air blew between them. That wasn’t unusual at all, Eren supposed. It was natural for fairies to become nervous in enclosed spaces, the impossibility of flight making them feel vulnerable and debilitated. Levi must have a strong aversion to it. Blinking up to the treetops, Eren took in the warm colour that scattered through the leaves, their outlines highlighted by the flare of the descending sun. “It’s going to get dark soon.”
“I’d prefer to skip the bush walk this time.” Inky wings stretched out as Levi glared at the surrounding shrubs.
“Sure.” Eren laughed, pushing off the ground as he took to the sky.
I'd like to clarify something, just in case... when I say "coo", I mean like a Pigeon. (not that gross noise people make at babies).
~NOTES ON SIZE~
I personally imagine them as roughly the size of an adult human hand. But this is AU and humans don't exist here, so since this is from their perspective they are the "normal" size. Are fairies small, or is the world just big? O:
Chapter 8: The Colony
Thank you to everyone reading this fic! It makes me so happy to see people enjoying it, your support is the lifeblood of this story. Even if you haven't left a comment/kudos or anything, I'm thankful for your time and attention.
There is no art this time. I just got a drawing tablet and new programme, and I have no idea what i'm doing.
I hope you all enjoy the chapter!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
True to his word, Levi led them back with pin-point accuracy. It was quite impressive considering they had ended up so far afield, but Eren supposed it made sense for him be familiar with the area. The sky had darkened by the time they arrived back at the nest. Thick treetops concealed the sunset while shadows born from the sharp angle of light stretching over the ground.
Eren sighed as he landed on the woven grass. Exhausted from the long flight, his wings flapped as he glanced back out the entrance. The forest was painted a gloomy shade of brown as night fell upon it. A shiver shot over Eren’s skin, the cloudless day was sure to herald a frosty night. He walked over to where his shirt had been thrown earlier, grabbed the cotton material and hastily pulled it over his head.
Levi paused to watch a mop of chocolate hair struggle itself through the top of the shirt, giving Eren a short hum of consideration. “I’m beginning to understand how you got here.”
“Huh?” Eren managed to get himself through. The material fell from his face as he straightened it out. “What’re you talking about?”
“I did wonder how you managed to get so lost that you ended up in the wrong forest. You’re impulsive. You act before you think, which isn’t the safest.”
Eren huffed as he crossed his arms. The speech sounded painfully familiar, but there must be a reason for Levi to bring it up. “Is this about Plum?”
“If the lizard had been aggressive, it wouldn’t have lived long enough to harm you. No, this is about something else.” Levi stepped closed, his tone becoming stern. “If you ever run into another fairy like us, don’t be curious. Fly away. Come to me if you can.”
“Hold on...” Eren’s eyebrows scrunched together, the sudden turn in conversation leaving him baffled. “Are you saying there are other night-fairies around here?”
“I doubt you’ll ever see another one, I’m only telling you as a precaution.” Levi paused, then let out a quiet sigh as his wings drooped. “I spoke with Farlan last night. Do you remember when you met him?”
“Yeah?” Turquoise eyes took in the alphas posture, thinking that another possessive episode was on the horizon. Surprisingly, Levi was showing no sign of anger or distress. He looked perfectly calm. “What about it?” Eren asked, to which Levi simply raised an eyebrow. “I don’t, um…” After giving it a moment of thought, Eren realised what the problem was. He had assumed Farlan was Levi’s friend as they were both night-fairies, followed a random alpha simply because they claimed to know him. He’d even used Levi’s name first, all Farlan had to say was yes to convince Eren to go with him. “You’re right…” Eren said. If it had been anyone else, who knows what might’ve happened. “I’m sorry. I didn’t even think about that.”
“There’s no need to apologise. As I said, there isn’t anyone else around here.” Levi cleared his throat as his eyes flicked away to stare at the wall, his voice softening somewhat. “It just… makes me feel better that you know.”
Eren gave a slow nod, his own gaze drifting to the side. He did need to be more careful. Judging by the tone he’d used, Levi didn’t seem to think the other night-fairies were very nice. But even so, it was hard to believe another fairy would want to cause him harm. There was no reason for anyone to do such a thing. Humming in thought, Eren approached the nest and propped himself on the edge. “Speaking of meeting people... I want to introduce you to my mom.”
“Uh…” Levi’s eyes floating back to Eren. “Really? You want to take me to your colony?”
“What’s wrong with that?”
“Nothing.” After pausing to consider it, Levi hummed as he rolled his shoulder. “I’ve never been around that many fairies before. I’m not sure how I feel about it, or how I’ll react. And there will be… other alphas, so close to you.” Levi bit back a growl, the corner of his lip pulling down with a slight twitch. “On second thought, it’s probably best I go with you.”
“It’s sort of a tradition in my colony that parents approve of a courtship, but I guess that’s not really a thing for you,” Eren said, examining Levi’s tense posture. Meeting a large group of strangers could be daunting for anyone, but it seemed that Levi had gotten over his concerns. “The point is that she’s important to me. It feels weird that she doesn’t know about… this.”
“And what happens if she doesn’t approve of me?” Levi asked, the tips of black wings waving in the air before giving an irritated flick. “You’ve already accepted my courtship.”
“Don’t worry about that. I’m sure she’ll like you.” Eren said, the reassurance as much for himself as it was for Levi. The alpha inclined his head with a short sigh, a gesture that was taken as reluctant agreement. “How about tomorrow?”
Levi stared without giving a response, the frown on his face becoming more prominent.
“Sooner is better,” Eren continued. “She was suspicious when I first told her about you, it’s probably best that I don’t go too long without seeing her. And she’ll trust you more once she meets you, so it’ll it easier for us to see each other.”
“Fine, if that’s what I need to do.” Levi bit the inside of his cheek, thoughtful. “Am I supposed to say or do anything specific? Give her a gift, or… something?”
Eren couldn’t offer any useful advice. Armin was his main reference for courtship, and he didn’t have any parents. All Eren could do was sigh at Levi’s clueless expression. “I have no idea, sorry.”
Levi ran a hand through his hair, the strands sweep back by pale fingers before falling into his face again. It wasn’t so bad. At least there wasn’t a protective alpha to deal with, Eren’s words suggested that only his mother needed appeasing. Dark wings swaying thoughtfully as he looked out into the forest. “You should sleep. I’ll be here when you wake up,” Levi said as he turned to give the omega a final glance. “Are you warm enough?”
“Yeah, I’m fine.” Eren squeezed the feathers beneath his hand, the downy material already starting to warm as it absorbed his body heat.
Eren watched him leap out the entrance and disappear with a single wing beat. The routine they’d fallen into seemed to work quite well; Eren stayed up later while Levi got up earlier, resulting in a considerable overlap of their days. But tomorrow, they would need to brave the sunlight. There weren’t any health concerns Eren could think of, Levi seemed to function perfectly fine during the day so long as he didn’t stare directly at the sun… but they are yet to venture out of the forest and its dense tree cover. It was impossible to predict how Levi would respond to full sunlight.
Relaxing his body, Eren allowed himself to fall backwards and land in the nest with a soft thud, the feathers welcoming him with a gentle embrace. He pulled his legs in, wiggling around to find a comfortable position. Eren’s eyes grew heavy as he stared at what he presumed to be his favourite feather. Navy-blue with a lighter streak down the centre line, the surface giving of a metallic sheen. Which type of bird it was from, he didn’t know, but it was sure to be a beautiful creature.
Eren was pulled back to consciousness by a soft crinkling, aimlessly blinking into the emptiness that greeted him. It had gotten darker, although it didn’t feel as though much time had passed. Eren peeked out of the nest to see what had woken him, and relaxed when he saw a pair of luminous red eyes hovering some distance away.
Eren watched with interest, but the alpha didn’t appear to be doing anything in particular, just standing there. The eyespots were motionless except for the occasional shift, the movement most likely caused by breathing or a slight fidgeting.
Curious eyes examined the silver details. Eren had almost forgotten about the alphas other markings, the freckles and whiskers that were only on the back of Levi’s wings. Eren didn’t see the back very often, not since before he found out Levi was a fairy, even in the cave he had been too close to notice. They were subtle features, invisible during the day and only seen in darkness. While the feline resemblance was still a bit unsettling, Eren found it eerily beautiful. The speckles where the wings attached to Levi’s back were faint compared to the bold crimson red, the weathered grey fading out along the black appendage, and then there were the two whisker-like lines that ran along each of Levi’s hind-wings. A radiant white-silver, the thin streaks like slithers of moonlight.
Once he’d admired the display enough, Eren sat up and spoke in a groggy voice. “Levi?”
The wings gave a sudden flap, startled by the sound. Levi turned around to face him, the silver markings disappearing as he did so. “You’re awake?”
“What’re you doing over there?” Eren asked into the darkness. He had to consciously remind himself of where Levi’s face was, his attention naturally floating to the visible eyespots.
“I was just… thinking.”
“About what?” Eren listened to soft crunches of grass as the red ovals gravitated closer, the footsteps loud in the dead of night. It didn’t seem like Levi was going to share his thoughts. “Are you worried about meeting my mom? You don’t need to be. Even if she doesn’t like you straight away, she will once she gets to know you.”
Levi came to a stop next to the nest, red eyespots lowering as he knelt near the edge. “You seem confident.”
“I am.” Eren watched the glowing ovals closely, trying to figure out Levi’s position by their movements. They lowered further towards the floor, sporadically flicking in the air as if they were trying to smack away a bothersome insect. “What are you doing now?”
“I’m going to sleep,” Levi said. “You should do the same.”
“Oh.” The wing-flicks must have been from Levi moving around as he tried to get comfortable. Eren laid down on his side, worrying his lip as he stared into the night. He supposed this was as good a time as any. “You can, um… sleep next to me, if you want to.”
“Really?” Levi asked. Once the initial shock faded, he sat up to give a more appropriate response. “Are you sure? I don’t mind sleeping here, I’d prefer you to be comfortable.”
“I’m not offering to be nice.” Eren twisting a bunch of feather fibres around his finger. “I like having someone next to me, and it’s still a bit cold.”
That was all the convincing Levi needed. He all but crawled into the nest, slow and cautious as he manoeuvred around to find an ideal spot. Levi settled down, carefully slotting himself behind the omega.
Eren immediately felt the warmth against his back, and the feathers ruffled as Levi shifted around a bit more. The proximity made Eren’s stomach flutter with a combination of nerves and anticipation. They had been physically close a few times now, but sleeping together felt a bit different. It was nothing like being next to his mother. There was a sense of comfort and safety that came with Levi’s presence, but there was also something else.
“Do you mind if I touch you?” Levi whispered.
Eren shook his head, his throat felt too tight to form words. Eren soon felt a leg brushing against his own as Levi shuffled closer to match his position. A hand came to rest on the side of his ribs, Levi’s fingertips pressing into his shirt to absently trace the bones beneath. Eren felt every movement clearly, almost as if there wasn’t two layers of fabric between them. Viridian wings fluttered, the soft touches sending shivers over his skin.
“Eren, st-” Levi pulled back with a grunt, the sheer appendages slapping him in the face. He managed to catch one of them during the flurry, holding the wing above his head as it continued to squirm for freedom. “Stop moving.”
“Oh, sorry...” Eren forced himself to settle. He had forgotten that Levi was laying between his wings.
Levi shuffled around some more before going still, his arm haphazardly thrown over Eren’s side. He sighed into chocolate hair, closing his eyes with a content hum.
Eren was able to relax now that Levi’s fingers were no longer distracting him. The rhythmic sound of Levi’s breathing induced a strange calmness, as well as the alphas chest ghosting against his back with every intake.
When Eren next woke, it was in a grand tangle of wings. The black appendage draped over his face gave the illusion of night, encompassing them both in the heat it gave off. Curious of the time, Eren used his knuckles to lift it, peeking out from beneath the make-shift blanket to get a glimpse of daylight. A bird was chirping away outside, although it didn’t sound much like a morning song.
As he became more aware, Eren realised his situation. Two arms had snaked around him during the night, a hold that trapped him flush against a solid chest. Perhaps feeling the movement, Levi produced a short coo, but the vocalisation was sleep-weak and came out as more of a gurgle.
Pursing his lips, Eren considered the best course of action. Levi must be twisted into an odd position; his hip bone was digging into Eren’s rear. Finding it uncomfortable, the burnet pushed back with his body to shove it away. Much to his frustration, Levi responded with a soft hum and pressed it against him again, only harder this time.
Huffing, Eren threw the black wing back over his shoulder, its owner producing a sleepy groan as the sunlight washed over them. “Hey,” Eren said as he reached back to tap at the head behind him. “Wake up.”
“No,” Levi grumbled, ducked down to escape the persistent poking.
Eren began to squirm in his arms, eventually managing to free himself and crawl out of the alphas clutches. Sitting on his knees, Eren watched as Levi quickly rolled onto his other side so that he was facing away, one of his wings flicking in the air about before curling over him again. “You need to get up,” Eren said. He got up to circle around the nest and crouched next to the dark lump. “We’re going somewhere today, remember?"
The wing lifted up enough for Levi to glare out from underneath, silver eyes narrow and displeased. “A little longer...”
Humming, Eren considered the alphas plea. While he hated to force Levi awake at an unnatural hour, it was already well past morning and they had to leave soon. Eren was unsure how late it’d been when Levi joined him, but he was certain it was long enough to allow for a sufficient amount of sleep. “Come on, we need to go while there’s still plenty of sun.”
Levi sat up with a grumble. He blinked, shaking dark hair into place before rubbing his eyes. “Those other two wanna come… Izzy wants to see the tree holes.”
Eren held back a giggle at Levi’s groggy speech and horrendous word choice, although he wouldn’t be surprised if that was a direct quote from Isabel. “We call them hollows,” Eren said. He noticed that Levi had changed his clothes at some point and was now wearing a cloudy grey long-sleeve shirt and charcoal pants, both a pleasantly tight fit. That must’ve been what woke Eren during the night. “Yeah, they can come.”
With wings stretched and boots pulled on, the pair headed out in to the forest. Once he took note of the light, Eren worked out that the sun hadn’t yet reached its peak, leaving plenty of time for them to make the journey. Levi tilted as he headed off in a unknown direction. Eren was quick to change paths so that he could follow, falling back a bit to let Levi lead the way.
Eren eventually spotted a nest dangling from one of the trees, the structure similar to Levi’s in terms of shape and size, although this one had had more aesthetic value. Incorporated in the dried grass was a patchwork of colour, burnt-orange flower petals and metallic shards of insect shell, all intertwined in the wiry fibres. An interesting form of decorating, but there was a unique charm to it.
They landed on the outside and clung to the coarse material. Eren’s ears stood alert, hearing a deep rumble emanating from within. Green eyes glanced to the side just in time to see Levi hurl himself through the entrance despite the worrisome noise.
Following suit, Eren entered cautiously and took in the dim surroundings. Levi was standing in the corner, staring down at something with a blank expression. Eren shuffled closer to take a peek, meet by the sight of two fairies sleeping soundly in a feather nest. Isabel was tucked into a neat little ball on the edge, while her mate was splayed out like a winged starfish. The abhorrent rumbling was revealed to be Farlan snoring with his mouth open.
“Oi.” Levi gave the nest a sharp kick with the toe of his boot. “Are you coming or not?”
Isabel awoke with a snort, forest eyes flying open to stare up at them. Sitting up in a rush, she tossed back a mess of loose red hair. “Ah-ha…”
“Whua?” Farlan sat up next, blinking as he wiped the drool from his chin.
Levi clicked his tongue and frowned down at them. “Pull yourselves together. It’s time to leave.”
Eren chuckled at the fact that Levi had been in a similar state only moments earlier. The pair managed to get themselves ready in no time, Isabel struggling to pull her hair into two bushy pigtails being the most arduous task. Farlan simply put on another shirt, the fabric a dark navy-blue that matched his inactive eyespots, although the garment had a crumpled flap of material at the back. “What’s that?” Eren asked, pointing a finger at the loose pouch between Farlan’s shoulders.
“I made it.” Isabel grabbed the material and pulled it up, covering her mate’s head with it. “It’s a hood! To stop his hair from reflecting the moonlight, the colour isn’t very inconspicuous.” Her eyes narrowed at the ash-blonde strands peeking out of the fabric. “Scares away the bugs…”
“Why are you wearing that? It’s the middle of the day,” Levi said.
“I just like it,” Farlan snapped as he shoved the hood off. “Are we leaving now, or should I go back to sleep?”
“Yeah, yeah…” Isabel rolled her eyes. “Don’t get your wings in a twist.”
Eren’s expectant gaze flicked between the trio until he remembered that he was the only one who knew the way. Walking over to the entrance, the brunet stared into the forest as he tried to orientate himself with the new location. The view was basically the same, except the area surrounding Isabel and Farlan’s nest lacked the miniature toadstools that Levi’s had. Eren jumped off the ledge and begun the flight, confident that the others would soon follow.
Not far into the forest, Eren saw the three night-fairies appear below him. They all seemed to fly in a similar manner, a smooth glide that took advantage of the uplifting air. The birds-eye view allowed Eren to get a proper look at Isabel’s wings. The murky green almost vanished into the vegetation on the forest floor, while the pecan coloured spots were mistakable for mushrooms or small patches of dirt. They didn’t seem capable of lighting up, the eyespots must be an alpha-only trait after all. It made sense, Eren supposed. An omega would be more inclined to hide from predators than to threaten them.
Leaving the shadows behind, the suns warmth washed over Eren’s skin and made his wings shimmer. Turquoise eyes scanned the open landscape as they emerged from the forest, a vast sea of wafting grass that stretched out to touch the sky. A high chirp caught his ear, followed by two slightly different ones as the night-fairies communicated. Eren contributed with a small chirp of his own, doing his best to mimic the frequency he’d just heard. Levi tilted to look up at him, peeking over his wing with curious metallic eyes. Seeing no disapproval, Eren smiled with pride.
When they reached the meadow, Eren decided it was a good time to take a break. Perhaps the journey wouldn’t be as tiring if he stopped to rest his muscles. Eren made a gentle landing in the grass, the breeze he produced making nearby flowers wobble on their stems. The two alphas joined him on the ground, while Isabel began chasing a bumblebee, flying after the chubby insect as it buzzed about in the sky. A repetitive flapping noise drew Eren’s attention away from the acrobatics. Levi and Farlan were both beating their wings more often than usual, as if they were irritated by something.
A frown grew on Eren’s face as he walked over to Levi, ignoring the alphas puzzled expression. He reached out to stroke one of Levi’s wings, gently running his hand over the blackness as he glanced up at the dormant eyespots, the patches a dark shade of burgundy. It was warmer than usual, the skin feverishly hot. Eren felt the lean muscles twitch beneath his fingertips.
Levi raised an eyebrow at him, questioning the sudden examination.
“Are you feeling okay?” Eren asked.
“Are you sure? Your wings are really hot…” Eren retracted his hand, eyes flittering over the appendage as it waved in the air. “I said I don’t want you to hurt yourself for me, remember?”
“I’m fine. It’s just the dark colour absorbing sunlight.” Levi hummed as he wings gave another flap, cooling them against the resisting wind. “I feel more lethargic than usual, but that’s perfectly normal.”
“If you say so,” Eren said as his eyes flicked over Levi’s face, the daylight brightening his snowy skin. “You’re not going to get sunburnt or anything, right?”
“I doubt it.”
“Hah!” Farlan cut in from where he’d been listening, pointing a finger at Levi’s face. “Bet you wish you had a hood now, aye?” He pulled the material over his head, shading the smug grin on his face. “Tough luck, your complexion is history.”
“Don’t be so dramatic,” Levi monotoned, dismissing the blonde as his eyes going back to Eren. “But we shouldn’t stay out in the open for longer than necessary. How much further is it?”
“We’re over half way, should be able to see my forest soon...” Eren wrung his hands together as he regarded the daisy next to him, the white petals fanning out and tipped with the faintest splotch of purple.
Levi gave the flower a brief glance as he sniffed, picking up on the sour hint in the omegas scent. “Is something wrong?”
“It’s nothing,” Eren said, trying to avoid doubtful silver eyes. There was no telling how this introduction would go, the uncertainty made him restless, and not only for his mother’s reaction. Eren wasn’t sure if it was even okay to bring outsiders to the colony like this. But voicing his concerns wouldn’t do any good, Levi was already hesitant about going there. “Yeah, we should get going. You might start to shrivel up like a raisin.”
“That’s not possible,” Levi said, black wings giving a powerful flap that threatened to strip the daisy of its petals. “And even if it was, I’m strong enough to handle a bit of sunlight.”
“I know…” Eren stared at him, a little surprised by the behaviour. He hadn’t intended to imply that Levi was weak. In hindsight, Eren supposed he might’ve gone a bit over the top with his questions. He’d just need to trust that Levi knew what his body could tolerate.
A shrill giggle came from above, Isabel still chasing the bumblebee with sporadic movements. Farlan sighed as he glanced up, giving her a few more moments of joy before calling out. “Break’s over, Is’. Ditch the bee.”
Isabel relented, and the traumatised insect wasted no time buzzing away to take shelter in a patch of buttercups.
The group took off with Eren in the front. While flying, the brunet considered the best way to go about this. A flock of night-fairies entering the colony was bound to draw attention, and he wouldn’t want anyone to get worried by their presence. Eren looked down as they passed over the stream. Its water level was lower due to the lack of rain the past few days, the bordering rocks a pale grey in their dried state. Eren wondered if the others were planning to stay overnight. He doubted Carla would want to share a nest with them, although the mental image was rather cute.
It was well in the afternoon by the time they reached the forest. The familiar smell of bark and sweet pollen put a fond smile on Eren’s face. Viridian wings flapped as he made a soft landing on a branch just outside the colony’s territory, his ears already picking up on the faint voices of the fairies that lived on the outskirts. Turquoise eyes looked towards the sounds, but he was unable to spot any of them at this distance.
Eren turned around and was startled by the three fairies standing behind him, having forgotten they were capable of landing silently when they felt the need to. Levi and Farlan’s eyespots were glowing, crimson red and sapphire blue. They must be feeling defensive from being in an unknown place, Eren assumed.
“Geez…” Isabel squinted ahead, her eyes also trying to locate the source of the voices. “This place stinks.”
“That’s to be expected,” Levi said. “There are hundreds of fairies here, each with their own unique stench.”
“That many?” Farlan’s nose scrunched up.
“Over a large area,” Eren said with a shrug. “It’s not like they’re all sitting in the same tree. There’s usually two or three in each hollow, sometimes four if there’s more than one child.”
Levi turned to look at Farlan, the blonde hovering right behind Isabel. “It must be worse for you two.”
“Huh? Why’s that?” Eren asked.
“Being bonded makes other fairies smell even shittier.”
Eren blinked over to the pair. His eyes drawn to a rough scar on the side of Farlan’s neck, the jagged skin slightly darker than the rest. It hadn’t caught his attention before now, although he hadn’t thought to look for it. Not all alphas took a mark, Eren had seen lots couples where only the omega bore one. Personal choice, really. “Um… right.” Eren gathered his thoughts. “I think we should go see the Commander first, that way he won’t freak out when someone tells him a bunch of strangers have entered the colony.”
“Commander?” Isabel raised an eyebrow. “Who’s that, then?”
“The Commander is… our leader,” Eren said. “He, um… decides how we use our resources if they’re limited, organises teams for specific tasks. And I guess if something bad happened, he’d decide how to handle it. All the planning and serious stuff, you know.” Eren tapped at the bark, not entirely sure what he was talking about. “If an outsider wants to join the colony, they need the Commander’s approval. We might get in trouble if we don’t go see him first.”
“Alright.” Levi peered off the edge of the branch, sniffing as his eyes shifted through the forest. “Take us to meet your commander.”
Eren nodded before leaping out of the tree, the leaves erupting into a rustle from their collective take off. It wouldn’t take too long to reach Erwin’s home; the commanders hollow was in the middle of the colony where everyone could easily find him. Eren soon spotted the group fairies he’d heard earlier, five of them on the forest floor collecting seeds, and gave them a timid wave. The majority of them simply stared, while one fairy dropped the grass basket she’d been holding, the seeds scattering all over the grass. Eren frowned. He knew night-fairies looked a little different, but there was no need to be rude about it.
The grand tree became visible as they approached the centre of the colony, the trunk larger than the rest and covered in an excessive number of lanterns, the strings circling around the upper branches like constricting wire. The light-cases were the more extravagant kind, made of transparently thin leaves that were dyed various colours to give the appearance of stained glass. They weren’t lit at this time of the day. Eren doubted his new friends would even know what they were.
Eren touched down on the branch outside the hollow. The bark was chipped away from to reveal the wood beneath, an intricate pattern engraved into the surface. Several gemstone charms dangled from the top of the entrance, cool colours of blue and purple, sparkling as they caught the evening light that creeped through the canopy. Eren peeked inside, the hollow well-lit from the multiple windows carved out of the wooden walls. There was a pair of large royal-blue wings, their silver details glittering as Erwin turned towards him.
“Eren. It’s good to see you,” Erwin said, a warm smile spreading over his face. “I was told you left the colony on another adventure. How did it go?”
“Good, um… that’s actually why I’m here.” Eren’s gestured towards the entrance, where Levi, Isabel and Farlan were busy inspecting the decorative charms.
Erwin’s eyes widened as they flicked between the newcomers. Two of them had black wings, a trait he hadn’t even known was possible, and the third pair were an unusually dark shade of green. The red-head looked back at him, and Erwin was somewhat alarmed by the blackness that surrounded her eyes. “Yes… I see. They are welcome to come inside.”
Eren’s wings fluttered happily as he glanced back, beckoning with his hand to invite them inside. Levi entered first and came to stand just behind Eren, while Isabel and Farlan opted to hang back a bit and take in the surroundings. Eren gave Levi a reassuring smile, although the alpha was too busy glaring at Erwin to take notice. “Levi… this is the commander of our colony, Erwin.”
Crystal blue eyes dragged over Levi’s wings. Erwin took a moment to inspect the large ovals on either side, the brilliant red creating a sharp contrast against the blackness. “It’s a privilege to meet you,” Erwin said, his gaze leaving the spots to meet metallic eyes. “You’re a very strange looking fairy.”
Levi quirked an eyebrow as he regarded the Commander. His scent gave away the basic information; strong, assertive, alpha. Levi thought his wings were odd as well. They were a darker colour, he could tell, yet the silver highlights made them conspicuous to even him. “So are you,” Levi said.
“I’ve heard all about you from Armin. A nocturnal subspecies, how interesting. Or are you an entirely different species that just so happens to be similar, like bees and wasps?”
Levi narrowed his eyes. “I could ask you the same thing.”
Hearing the bite in Levi’s words, Eren decided to clarify the message. “He doesn’t know anything about that.” Eren wasn’t sure what was going on, but the sudden potency of the two alpha scents was making him anxious. It was as if they were trying to outdo each other. Was Levi challenging Erwin, or was it the other way around? Eren couldn’t tell.
“That’s a shame, I do enjoy a good story.” A small smile pulled at Erwin’s lips as deep-blue wings flapping behind him. “I don’t allow fairies join the colony straight away. There is a trial period, however long I find suitable, to ensure that newcomers are trustworthy and able to function in a large community such as ours. It’s for the safety of everyone, you understand.”
“We’re didn’t come here to join your fairy farm,” Levi said.
“Well, then.” Erwin made his back impossibly straighter. “Please tell me the purpose of your visit.”
“My own self-interests.” Levi tilted his head towards Isabel and Farlan. “Those two are just curious. I doubt we’ll be staying long.”
Erwin took a moment to think, blinking slowly at the night-fairy. “I am intrigued by what you mean, but… I’ll allow it.” Blue eyes flicked over to Eren for a second, then returned to Levi. “Our colony is tight-knit and maintains a stable routine, it’s very effective. Do your best not to cause a disturbance, otherwise I’ll have to remove you.”
“Remove us?” Levi said. The commander was implying that he could overpower them, trying to assert his dominance. It was probably what worked on the other alphas in the colony, but Levi wasn’t feeling so compliant. “You don’t smell so tough.”
Eren squeaked in shock, he’d never heard someone talk to the commander like that. “Levi...” He reached out to give Levi’s sleeve a gentle tug. They had already received permission, there was no need to stay any longer.
“And you smell oddly familiar,” Erwin said.
Levi’s tilted his head, ignoring the persistent stretch of his shirt.
“That’s right, you must be the outsider who scent marked one of our newly presented omegas. I saw Eren before he had a chance to wash it off, you see. Although some of the stink remained even after his vigorous scrubbing.”
Eren felt his stomach drop. He hadn’t told Levi about that, and the way Erwin worded it left a lot to be misunderstood. Searching Levi’s face, Eren saw his jaw clench and lips tighten, the emotion vanishing just as quickly as it appeared. The need to explain clawed at Eren’s skin, but it would be better to wait until they were alone.
“You live around so many fairies, yet you still remembered my personal scent? I’m flattered.” Levi finally surrendered to the pull on his arm, giving Eren a fleeting look as he was ushered towards the exit.
“Thank you for your time, commander!” Eren called over his shoulder as they left the hollow, Isabel and Farlan tagging along behind them. He was glad to be out of that situation, although the cause of the tension was unclear. Erwin could be acting with caution, or perhaps there was some sort of alpha-etiquette that Levi was unaware of.
Going outside ended up being even more unsettling. It seemed they had attracted a crowd, either by word of mouth or the competing scents. Groups of curious fairies congregated in the nearby branches, staring as they whispered among themselves. Eren’s wings twitched, unnerved to have so many eyes on him. The dull murmur of voices only made it worse.
“Woah,” Farlan gaped at their brightly coloured audience. “Look at them all. It’s a whole army of shiny fairies.”
Isabel shuffled closer to her mate. “What’s happening? Are they gonna attack us?”
“They won’t,” Eren said. That much he was sure of. His eyes flicked through the faces surrounding them, unable to spot anyone he knew well. “They’re just curious… we should go somewhere else, follow me.” Eren pushed off the wood, flying over the rows of fairies to ascend higher into the canopy.
Eren reached a top-level branch, high enough for him to see out of the forest and into the faded distance. He blinked, sure that he could see the small stream cutting through the landscape. There usually wasn’t anyone else up so high, the sparse tree cover provided little shelter from predatory birds.
When the others joined him, Eren was relieved to see that no one else had attempted to follow. Isabel took the initiative and dragged Farlan away to appreciate the scenery, the pair promptly vanishing from sight.
Eren sucked on his cheek as he met Levi’s gaze, his words delayed by a lump in his throat. “I’m sorry about that… I’ve never seen Erwin be so rude, I have no idea why he’d act that way.”
“He has no authority over us and it pisses him off.” Levi looked down at the bark. “I could’ve been more polite, I suppose.”
Turquoise eyes shifted to watch the leaves dance in the wind, a gentle breeze that made the green blades quivering on their branches. It was silent for a while, long enough for Eren to know that Levi wasn’t going to say anything else. “About what he said, though… It’s not-”
“You don’t need to explain.” Levi said. “I, uh… I shouldn’t have done that in the first place, I’m not sure why I did. It seemed like a good idea at the time. But I understand why you’d want to wash it off.”
“I didn’t want to do that. I only did it because Armin freaked out about it, he smelt you before I could tell him what happened. I was worried everyone would make assumptions and hate you over nothing.”
Levi blinked back up to him, his mind zeroing in on a single thought. “You liked it?”
Eren nodded as Levi came closer, eventually stopping in front of him. Feeling arm wrap around his back, Eren bowed his head the same as he had the last time. Levi press into his hair straight away, rubbing his neck over the strands with languid strokes. Eren smiled as the alpha became more committed to the task, the force against his head gradually increasing.
Levi let out a trill that trailed off into a content rumble, the stimulus on his neck making black wings twitch and curl forward. This would make other alphas think twice, but it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough to announce his claim on this omega.
Viridian wings fluttered at the purr emanating from Levi, enjoying how the deep sound vibrated against his own chest. Eren let out a hum as Levi’s chin start to nudge at him, the demand accompanied by a string of insistent coos, soft but adamant. Intrigued, Eren lifted his face to meet clouded silver eyes, and then his head was shoved aside. Eren tensed as Levi touched their necks together. He was quick to relax into it, sighing at the surprisingly enjoyable contact.
Levi held still for a few seconds before starting to bob his head in a slow rhythm, using firm strokes to repetitively rub their scent glands together. The sudden rush of hormones made Eren feel like he was melting. It was a tingle that spread through him to relax every one of his muscles, and he had to grab onto Levi’s shoulder to keep himself upright.
With the omega being so receptive, Levi lowered them both down to crouch on the branch. He positioned Eren between his knees to find a better angle, cooing assurances as he started to mark the omega with vigorous movements. Their necks became wet, the slick oils reducing the drag of skin, resulting in a smooth glide. Levi could smell it. The fragrance of sweetened wine they were creating together, a scent that made him salivate. “Eren,” Levi said, slightly breathless, and applied more pressure to make up for the loss of friction. “Feels good…”
Eren agreed with a soft mewl as his head lolled back further, encouraging Levi to continue. It did feel good. The rough massage sent sparks of bliss through his body, somehow both relaxing and exhilarating.
He heard Levi sigh and mutter something to himself, the words quiet and indecipherable, and then Eren’s skin was left cold as the alpha pulled away to separate them. Confused, Eren watched him stand up, the faint sheen on the side of Levi’s neck glistening in the sun.
Levi stood there as turquoise eyes blinked up at him, wide and owlish. There was nothing wrong about what they’d done, it would simply inform others of their courtship. Levi was satisfied knowing that his scent would cling to the omega for a while, but he probably should’ve refrained until after he’d met Eren’s mother.
I appreciate all comments and feedback, regardless of content. No need to be shy! ^^
Chapter 9: Lanterns
Sorry for the delay, folks! I had some family shit going on and it gave me terrible writers block.
The majority of this chapter is from Levi's POV, and it switches back after the line break (but it's pretty obvious). I decided to try it out since I haven't really done it so far, so please let me know what you think of it. If it's well received I may write it more often. This chapter is also pretty dialogue-heavy, oops :P
Here are the stats for this chapter:
Moths are confused - 7/10
Armin is a sweetie - 8/10
Sp00ky - 0/10 (we in pixie hollow bitches)
Levi wants that fairy booty - 8/10
#drama - 5/10
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Well, this is it.”
Levi stood on a small branch as he inspected the entrance to Eren’s home. It was a large opening with an overhang, the smooth arch leading into a hollowed-out tree trunk. That must be where the name came from. After watching Eren disappear inside, he followed with caution.
As Levi stepped into the tree, his eyes did a quick sweep of the interior. The entire width of the trunk hadn’t been hollowed out, only about half of it, which Levi assumed was to preserve some sapwood to allow the trees survival. The floor was covered by a layer of grass, the aged material a faded to a brownish-yellow, plaited together to form a uniform criss-crossing pattern. Levi hummed to himself, tilting his head back to glance upwards. The ceiling was bare except for the natural growth rings that rippled out from the center, the woods grainy texture seeming to spiral within them.
Levi wasn’t particularly fond of enclosed spaces. The grass structure of his own home was more convenient, perhaps since he could tear through the walls if need be. If it weren’t for the calming effect Eren’s scent seemed to have on him, Levi would probably be feeling a bit perturbed by it. Silver eyes found the omega, who was watching him with an expectant expression. “It’s feels strange to be inside a tree,” Levi said.
“I’ve lived here my whole life.” Eren gave the walls a quick look-over, the pale wood smooth and recently polished with beeswax. “I should put some more colour in.”
“Isn’t it unsafe?” Levi asked as he glanced back to the entrance. “What if a bird stuck its head through the door? There’s no way to escape.”
Eren blinked, he’d never heard of something like that happening before. “Um… I could probably fit through the window. But that wouldn’t happen, birds don’t usually come into the colony.”
Levi raised an eyebrow. It didn’t make any sense for birds to avoid this place, not with all he potential meals flying around. “Why is that?”
“I’m not really sure,” Eren said with a shrug. “If one does come through, we usually chase it away by throwing seeds and pebbles at it. Works pretty well when a group of fairies do it together.” Eren paused, sucking on his cheek as he thought about it. “I think the decorations confuse them. Gems reflect the light and make it hard for them to see, we’ve even had one tangled up in a lantern string before.”
“I see…” Silver eyes glanced out into the forest, spotting a string of the so-called lanterns dangling from a nearby tree. Peculiar things, Levi thought. It was no wonder Eren was so unaware of danger, this area was rigged with hundreds of little bird traps, and as a result was a great deal safer than anywhere else. Most of the fairies here were probably be incapable of surviving outside the colony. Levi turned away from the strange boxes, watching the omega wander around and fiddle with some objects. “Where is your mother?”
“She usually forages in the afternoon.” Eren dug around in his pocket until he found the two incomplete bracelets and gingerly placed them on a shelf. “She’ll be back soon, it’s almost sundown.”
Midnight wings giving an irritated flap. Levi was aware that he had made this more difficult for himself, all because he’d been unable to resist his instinctual urges and completely smothered Eren with his scent. Levi didn’t feel a shred of regret, but his expectations for this meeting were rather low. He hoped Eren wouldn’t be too disappointed.
After Eren had arranged all the items, he began absently ringing his hands together. “Don’t worry, it’ll be fine.”
Interestingly, Eren seemed to be the most nervous out of the two of them. Levi approached, close enough for the soft coo in his throat to be heard. “It doesn’t matter what she says. I won’t leave unless you tell me to,” Levi said, although even then he probably wouldn’t go quietly.
He’d already picked up on the scent of a few other omegas in the colony, and it would be a lie to say that Levi didn’t find them at least somewhat interesting. But none of them pulled him in like Eren’s did. It was unclear whether there was something particularly enticing about Eren’s scent or if it was simply because they’d already begun courting. Either way, Levi wouldn’t back down without a fight.
As they’d need to wait, Levi took it upon himself to look around some more. There were containers filled with the overly-sweet fruit up on the shelves, and the sight alone was enough to make him frown. How could these fairies could consume something so repulsive? Levi wondered if they ate insects as well. There was no obvious reason why they wouldn’t, bugs were both delicious and nutritional, but it would probably be best to ask at some point.
Silver eyes finally settled on the cotton nest, narrowing as he stared down at it. Eren’s scent was tainted by something far less remarkable. It was similar in a way, except bland and lacking the same depth. The dullness was on par with Isabel.
Eren stalked up behind Levi, ducking around a black wing to examine the nest alongside him. “I think I prefer your bed.”
“Oh?” Levi’s eyes flicked over to the omega, intrigued by the statement. Although he was sure Eren had meant it in an entirely innocent way. “Softer, is it?”
“Sort of.” Eren reached out to brush his hand over the material, a clump of fibres snagging on one of his fingers. “It’s just that cotton can be a bit rough sometimes. Feathers have a silky feel to them, I like that better.”
“In that case, I’ll be sure to-” Levi stopped, thrown off by a sudden increase in that unpleasant smell. He turned around to lock eyes with a fairy that bore a strong resemblance to Eren. Radiant caramel skin with glossy brown hair, except she was obviously older, and her small brown wings looked like a pair of dead leaves.
Levi forced his wings together as not to startle her, watching as she stood in the entrance with a small basket in her hands. Judging by her scowl and the glare he was receiving, she must’ve already noticed that Eren was thickly coated in his scent.
Unsure of how to proceed, Levi glanced to his side, but found no guidance as Eren was simply staring ahead like a startled animal. His eyes went back to the brown-winged fairy. Seeing as no one else was going to speak up, Levi cleared his throat to break the silence. “Good afternoon, Eren’s mother. I’ve come here to inform you that I am now courting your son. I hope you find this information agreeable, as I’d like to receive your blessing.”
Carla gawked, mouth agape and eyes filled with a haunting vacancy. “Excuse me?”
Black eyebrows pinched together, confused by the response. Levi was sure he’d spoken clearly. Eren seemed just as thrown off, his eyes scrunched closed as tanned skin took on a reddish hue. Leaning towards him, Levi lowered his voice to a whisper. “Did I say something wrong?”
“I forgot to tell you,” Eren said, hiding the majority of his face behind his hand. “Her name’s Carla.”
Levi’s head tilted, his eyes flicked over the omega’s blushing cheeks. “Should I say it again?”
Eren dropped his hand to meet Carla’s gaze, her expression hardening as she came out of her shocked state. “No… I think she understood.”
“Eren.” Carla took a deep breath as she dropped the basket, a single berry bouncing out to roll along the grass mat. As a mother, Carla had faced many difficulties over the years. This would definitely make the top of her list. “Have you lost your mind? You can’t just bring home a random alpha you found in the wilderness! And that smell… what did he do to you?”
“Nothing!” Eren glared at her. “His name is Levi. I’ve already told you.”
“And I told you to be careful. How could you agree to this without talking me first? You barely know him, and you expect me to support this?”
“I know him enough to like him,” Eren said. “Most people are still getting to now each other when they start courting. You’re only making a big deal of it because he’s from outside our colony.”
“Fairies in the colony are more trust worthy.” Carla’s bronze wings twitched. It wasn’t that she was unwilling to give this Levi a chance, she just wanted her son to understand what he was getting himself getting into. “It wasn’t long ago that you presented. There are plenty of suitable mates around here, you don’t need to get involved with the first alpha you come across.”
The idea of being replaced didn’t sit well with Levi. With some effort, he managed to prevent the tightness in his chest from evolving into a growl. Black wings gave a few powerful flaps instead, an attempt to show off his physical fitness.
Carla wasn’t very impressed by the display, her eyes widening at the threatening colouration that had previously been hidden from her view.
“It’s not like that,” Eren retorted. “I’ve met heaps of other alphas, I just wasn’t interested in them. Levi makes me feel things no one else has. I’ve always been told to follow my instincts, and that’s exactly what I’m doing.”
“Look at those wings.” Carla nodded towards Levi. “Nature uses bold colours as a warning. Plants and animals are bright to tell others that they’re dangerous, I’ve seen a few birds with spots like those.”
Eren glanced to his side and saw Levi press his wings together, an action that was clearly meant to hide the intimidating crimson ovals. It hurt to see Levi judged for something he couldn’t help, especially since he was making a conscious effort to appear non-threatening. Eren reached out and touched his fingertips to Levi’s wrist. “It’s not intentional, he doesn’t have much control over them.”
Levi leaned into the touch. While the support was appreciated, it would take a lot more than a displeased mother to unnerve him. Although fighting another alpha for Eren’s honour probably would’ve been easier than this. “I will never hurt Eren,” Levi said with as much devotion as he could muster.
The declaration attracted Carla’s conflicted eyes. She was silent for long time, until the turmoil in her expression seemed to diminish. “I suppose… if you wanted to, you would’ve by now. And you did make an effort to come meet me.”
Levi found her change in tone a bit surprising. Either he’d sounded sincere enough to convince her, or she didn’t feel as confident arguing with an alpha. Regardless, Levi was quick to take the opening. “I apologise if I did this incorrectly. I’m unaware of your practices.”
“No, I… that was rude of me.” Carla sighed, bringing a hand up to rub her forehead. “It’s just a bit overwhelming, I need some time to process this.”
The quiet voice stole Levi’s attention. He looked to the side, and immediately felt himself waver at the dejected expression on Eren’s face. Did he do something wrong? Levi’s eyebrows pulled together, unable to understand why the omega would be unhappy.
Before Levi had a chance to say something, Eren took off and flew out into the forest, forcing Carla to duck down as he went over her and through the exit. Silver eyes blinked in surprise, the hasty departure producing a gust of wind that blew Levi’s fringe back.
Carla stared outside for a while, until her gaze finally flicked back to him.
Being alone with her made Levi feel significantly more awkward, and black wings twitched as he met her stern gaze. A peculiar expression swirled in Carla’s honey-brown eyes, it was a stare that he interpreted as a challenge. It was almost as if they were silently arguing over who should go after Eren. Or rather, which one of them had the most right to.
Levi didn’t care if she was his mother, there was no way Carla would be able to out-fly him with those dainty wings.
Perhaps realising that fact, Carla conceded with a loud huff and moved out of the entrance to let him pass. She bent down to collect the berry from the floor, grumbling under her breath in a way that was barely audible.
Giving her a wide berth as he passed, Levi stepped out onto the branch and squinted as the dying sunlight poured into his eyes. A quick scan of the surrounding canopy revealed nothing but lush vegetation and flaky tree trunks. The blanket of leaves was less dense than what he was used to, their sparsity creating shadows that swayed with the wind. His ears twitched at the sound of far-off voices and activities that were never heard at his home, still finding the noise bothersome.
Surprisingly, he could still smell Eren through the fog of other fairies.
Midnight wings spread wide as Levi swooped off the branch. Tracking the scent, he manoeuvred through the forest with swift and agile movements, soundless as he cut through the air. Flying was difficult in an unknown area, Levi was used to knowing exactly where he was going before he even took off. It was a challenge to navigate while moving at a fast pace.
He dropped down onto a random branch with a thump, the impact causing the wood to tremble beneath him. Crouching down, Levi sniffed at the air as he tried to orientate himself. There was a sudden yelp from besides him, a brown-haired fairy that was alarmed by his sudden arrival. Levi glanced at them with a raised eyebrow, but then dismissed them in favour of resuming his search.
When he reached a less populated area, Levi was pleased when the stench of fairies faded away and was replaced by a natural earthiness that was far more familiar. There was running water in the distance, a steady flow that filled the forest with a gentle shushing, accompanied by the muted songs of insects. Finally, sharp silver eyes spotted a spot of vibrant bluish-green among the jade grass, and Levi’s body was flooded with a gratifying sense of relief. Eren wasn’t in any danger, he knew, but apparently not knowing the omegas location was enough to induce stress.
Levi bent his legs as he landed in the grass, only just loud enough to announce his arrival. Eren was looking at a waterfall, he noticed, a thin mist being sprayed into the air as the liquid crashed into a bed of jagged rocks. “Eren?”
Turquoise eyes glanced back at him, wide and shining. “Hey.”
“What happened?” Levi moved closer, examining the omegas face for any sign of distress. “Did I upset you?”
“It wasn’t you.” Eren blinked back to the water. “I got frustrated with my mom, that’s all.”
Levi’s wings flapped as he sat down next to him, still at a loss. “She calmed down in the end.”
“Only when she was spoke to you,” Eren said. “It’s just the way she talks to me as if I’m a stupid kid. She wouldn’t listen to me at all, but she was willing to show some understanding after a few words from you.” Sighing, Eren looked down as he ran his fingers through the grass, the texture sharp and waxy. “I don’t know if it’s because you’re an alpha… or if it’s just because you’re not me.”
Levi watched Eren’s hand, his slim fingers beginning to pluck green strands out of the ground. “I don’t have much experience with these things… but she’s your mother, she probably thinks she knows what’s best for you.”
“You agree with her?”
“I didn’t say that,” Levi corrected. “But I doubt she acts that way just to hurt you, even if it may seem that way.”
Eren released a short huff as he threw the grass away, green blades fluttering as they were captured by the wind. “I just want her to respect my decisions, or at least realise that I’m capable of making them.”
“I know.” Levi glanced at the waterfall, but the spray was reflecting the light and causing it to hit his eyes in an unpleasant way, so he looked back to the omega. “She, uh… mentioned that you only presented recently. When was that?”
Eren slumped forward, emerald wings drooping down towards the ground. “This year...”
Black eyebrows raised, the answer taking him by surprise. Eren must be quite young. Not that it mattered at all; a mature fairy was a mature fairy. It did, however, mean that Eren hasn’t had his first proper heat yet… but now wasn’t the time to be thinking about that. Giving how recent it was, Carla must still be struggling with the idea of her son becoming an adult and leaving her nest. “She just needs some time to adjust,” Levi said.
“You’re okay with that?”
“It makes no difference. I’ve told you before, I don’t have any idea what I’m doing either. My only experience is from watching the weird shit Farlan used to do.”
Eren laughed as he took in the view, short-lived rainbows appearing as the mist of the waterfall was struck by sunshine. Smiling, he turned to look at Levi. “Did you argue with your mother much?”
The question caught Levi off guard. He met Eren’s eyes, the pair of turquoise irises sparkling with an innocent joy that he couldn’t bear to erase. “Not really,” Levi said as he averted his gaze, the tips of black wings giving a small flick. “The sun will go down soon. Is there anyone else I need to meet?”
Humming, Eren tilted his head back to look up at the warm colours that were gradually seeping into the sky. “We should probably go see Armin.”
If Levi remembered correctly, Armin was the one that labelled him a night-fairy without consulting him first. He’d let it go since he was Eren’s best friend, and also because Levi probably couldn’t come up with anything better.
The pair took off, leaving the waterfall behind as they flew back into the centre of the colony. With the day coming to an end, most of the fairies had already retired into their hollows for the night, which Levi was glad for. The absence of curious onlookers made the journey much more enjoyable, having so many eyes on them was unsettling to say the least.
As Eren directed them towards Armin’s tree, they both flapped to gain altitude and touched down outside the entrance.
Levi paused when he landed on the bark, distracted by the little boxes, lanterns, that dangled from the neighbouring branches. Curious of them, he walked to the edge of the branch to get a better look, narrowing his eyes at one closest to him. Unlike before, they were now emanating a white light that made them look like fuzzy blobs, the stark contrast draining the colour out of everything around them. “They glow?”
“Hm?” Eren hummed as he glanced back at the alpha. “Yeah, that’s what they’re for.”
A crinkle appeared on Levi’s forehead as he stared at the string of lights. “I thought they were for the birds.”
“Nope,” Eren said, covering his mouth to conceal a giggle. He found Levi’s captivation with the lanterns kind of cute, especially with how they illuminated his pale skin in an almost ghostly way. “That’s just a side-effect.”
Levi pulled his attention away from the lanterns, blinking rapidly as he tried to dispel the white squiggles that haunted his vision. He’d have to be careful if he flew around the colony at night, those blinding lights could be a serious hazard. Looking at it for only a few seconds was enough to make him feel disorientated.
Eren tapped his knuckles against the bark before wandering inside. “Hello?”
“Eren!” Armin jumped off the wooden stool he’d been sitting on, the beginnings of a grass weave in his hands. “You toad! I’ve been waiting for you.”
“Of course.” Rolling his eyes, Armin placed the bunch of grass strands down on a small table. “I heard people talking about the black-winged fairies that flew into the colony. Who else could it be?”
Levi lingered near the entrance as he listened to the two omegas. Steel eyes squinted to make out the outline of Armin’s wings, the pale appendages appearing almost translucent in the absence of direct light. Uninterested, his gaze shifted to Eren’s wings, the vivid green and gold much more to his liking.
“Is this Levi?” Armin asked as he inspected the alpha in his doorway. “You’ve described what he looks like, but it’s still strange to see him. I guess that’s what happens when you’re so used to a certain appearance.”
Levi blinked away to focus his attention on the wall, finding the rippling texture of wood much more interesting than having to hear how different he looked yet again. It was understandable for them to think that, he just didn’t know what they felt the need to repetitively remind him of it. The blonde suddenly rushed towards him, and Levi stepped back to maintain some degree of personal space.
“Your eyes are so pretty!” Armin wore an excited grin. “They look like a pair of tiny moons.”
The compliment was unexpected. Levi felt the urge to cover his eyes now that he knew someone was staring at them, but he resisted in favour of being able to see. He glanced over to Eren, who gave him an encouraging nod. “That’s an interesting comparison,” Levi said as he met Armin’s gaze again. “Your eyes remind me of water.”
Armin gave a breathy chuckle. It wasn’t the most imaginative thing he’d ever heard, but he couldn’t deny that it was at least a little bit true. “They’re both blue, I suppose.”
Being close to the blonde made Levi’s nose scrunch up.
Armin’s brow furrowed. “What is it?”
Levi certainly didn’t want to be rude to Eren’s friend, but he wasn’t going to lie either. “You smell like crap.”
“Oh my god.” Eren blanched, horrified by the comment. “It’s not you, Armin. He, um… didn’t get along with Erwin very well, that’s all.”
“Oh… right.” Armin blinked, realising that Levi must’ve been put off by the smell of his alpha. Blue eyes took in Levi’s expression, the corners of his mouth curled in disgust. “Honestly, I’m not surprised.”
Pursing his lips, Eren recalled what he had to speak to Armin about. “You told Erwin about how I tried to remove Levi’s scent mark, right?” Eren waited for the blonde to nod at him before continuing. “He tried to upset Levi by telling him about it, he made it sound like I was desperate to get it off me.”
“Really?” Armin’s eyes widened. “Sorry… I only told him because it was an interesting story, I had no idea he’d twist it like that.” Icy blue wings fluttered as Armin sighed. It didn’t pass his attention that Eren had received another scent marking, especially since Levi had clearly been much more thorough this time, but Armin decided to be polite and not mention it. “What’re your plans for the night?”
“What do you mean?”
“Sleeping arrangements,” Armin clarified, raising an eyebrow sarcastically. “Are you all going to squish into Carla’s nest?”
“I don’t care,” Levi said with disinterest. “I’ll sleep on a branch or something, it doesn’t matter to me.”
“Don’t be silly.” Armin gave the alpha a pointed look. “You can sleep here, I’ll stay with Erwin or my Grandpa.”
“Are you sure?” Eren asked. It wasn’t unlike Armin to be hospitable, but he shouldn’t feel obligated to offer up his home.
“Yup, I have plenty of places to go.” Armin’s lips pulled into a shy smile. “I sometimes get a bit lonely on my own… it’ll be nice to stay with someone.”
Turquoise eyes saddened at the reminiscent tone. Eren used to stay with Armin quite often, mostly when they were younger, or they’d both go to Raymund’s hollow to hear a story before falling asleep. They were fond memories, but he supposed there wasn’t much time for that anymore.
Levi looked around, discovering that this hollow was a fair bit older than Eren’s. The encompassing wood was faded and brittle, the passage of time causing it to splinter in some places. A branch might’ve been preferable, Levi thought there was something disturbing about sleeping inside a disembowelled tree. It might be warmer, at least. “If you insist,” Levi said, his gaze shifting away from the wall to land on Eren. “I should go find the others.”
“Okay,” Eren replied with a smile. “Don’t get lost.”
Levi exited the hollow with a quiet tch. It would take more than a new place and scent-polluted air to throw off his sense of direction.
A part of him hesitated at the edge of the branch. It was a heaviness that settled within him whenever he parted from Eren, a not-so-subtle reminder of his unfinished task. After taking a moment to search the canopy, Levi managed to convince himself there were no immediate threats and leaped from the branch.
The colony was almost peaceful without all the noise, and the glowing boxes weren’t too irritating so long as they weren’t right in his face. Levi still cringed as he flew past them, his eyes becoming more sensitive as they adjusted to the dimming sunlight. Little specks of vibrant colour caught his attention. It was from the gems and ribbons that fluttered around the homes of other fairies, producing the occasional clink as the stones bumped into each other.
Levi found his missing friends without much difficulty; their babbling voices could be heard from a considerable distance. The pair were down on the forest floor, standing in the shade of a large tree trunk as they fiddled with something in their hands. Levi rolled in the air, black wings coming together as he fell and landed on the ground next to them, the impact causing them both to yelp in surprise.
“Hey!” Isabel scolded, raising her hand to point a pink flower petal at Levi's face. “You shouldn’t just drop outta the sky like that, you’ll break your leg and scare me to death.”
Levi gave a dismissive hum as he glared at the petal, leaning back to stop it from tickling his nose. It had a strong floral fragrance but wasn’t overly sweet. “What is that for?”
Grey wings flapped as Farlan released a sigh, holding his hand out to reveal the bundle of petals he was holding. “Isabel wants to take these home… apparently they don’t grow in our forest.”
Tilting his head at the flower, Levi realised that it was one he’d never seen before. The petals were flopped limply in Farlan’s hand, a soft magenta with a web of whiteish veins sprawled across it. Levi wasn’t particularly interested in flowers, but he did enjoy seeing new things. There was still a lot to learn about the outside.
“How’d it go with mother shiny?”
“Fine.” Silver eyes drifted down to find the remains of a mutilated and petal-less flower stem, it’s life stolen by Isabel’s incessant need to decorate.
“Come on-” Farlan reached out to grab the edge of Levi’s wing between his fingers, shaking his hand to make to dark appendage wiggle. “Details!”
“Stop it.” Levi flicked his wing to free himself the hold, then brought them together to prevent the blonde from doing it again. “I told you not to do that. It’s weird.” Levi glared at him before releasing a sigh. “She doesn’t hate my guts, but I don’t think I’ll be getting a hug anytime soon.”
A smirk appeared on Farlan’s face. “I doubt you’d want one anyways.”
Levi hummed deeply, considering the situation. Gaining Carla’s approval would make everything much easier, although he wasn’t sure if that was possible given what he’d seen. She is obviously struggling to let go of her son and is very distrustful. Whether it was towards him specifically or alphas in general, Levi didn’t know, but it did make him wonder what could’ve made Carla behave that way. While it wasn’t hard to imagine a few possibilities, Levi preferred to think it had something to do with her absent and possibly deceased mate. Steel eyes flicked over to Isabel, who was still sorting through the impressive stack of flower petals. “One of Eren’s friends offered us a place to sleep.”
“Really?” Isabel glanced up, her hands going still. “I’m glad someone’s actually being nice to us… but we’re gonna sleep outside. Tree holes aren’t as cool as I imagined they’d be.”
Levi shrugged with one shoulder, the action lazy and indifferent. “Suit yourself.”
“Which means,” Farlan began, his eyebrows lifting teasingly. “You’ll be all alone with your pretty little omega.”
Silver eyes widened, a little surprised by how his heart clenched at the idea of calling Eren his, even if it wasn’t entirely true yet. Knowing Farlan, his word choice had been intentional. Levi recovered with a scowl before hissing back at him. “I’ve been alone with him the past few days, you idiot.”
“Hey now.” Farlan held up his hands, defensive, although the playful smirk remained on his face. “Don’t take out your sexual frustration on me, I’m just stating the facts.”
“Ooo~!” Isabel sung in a teasing voice, her murky green wings giving a few exuberant flaps. “Is someone coming down with a bit of spring-fever?”
Levi watched her wings flutter, the rapid movement only serving to annoy him further. “I can’t remember why I agreed to let you tag along.”
“Because otherwise you’d have to take on this whole colony by yourself,” Isabel said. “I dunno about you guys, but I reckon I could take down like… ten of these softies.”
“Isabel,” Farlan scolded.
“What?” Isabel met her mate’s eyes. “I may be an omega, but I can still kick some ass.”
“I know, but you shouldn’t talk like that. We’re trying to be friends with these people,” Farlan said. Isabel simply huffed, crossing her arms and turning away. “Whatever,” he continued, “Anyone else hungry?”
The sun had set by the time Eren had gone home, changed his clothes and returned to Armin’s hollow. It wasn’t too dark for him to see, both the moon and soft lantern-light illuminating the forest in their ethereal glow, tinted blue like an artificial twilight.
Eren was glad to be home, although the conversations had proven to be quite exhausting.
Hearing a soft clunk, the brunet glanced over to where Armin was gathering a few of his things. It was unnecessary, really. Armin insisted on packing in case he’d need to stay away for more than one night, even though Eren thought that was unlikely. The lanterns made it safe enough from them to travel within the colony while it was dark, and Armin even had a miniature one for inside his hollow. The small light source was positioned on the carved table, a spiral design painted onto the side with raspberry juice. Eren shuffled on the cotton pillow he’d stolen from the nest, sitting on it near the entrance.
“How’d Carla take the news?” Armin looked over his shoulder.
“Not very well.” Turquoise eyes stared out into the night, wide and searching. Levi had been gone longer than he’d expected. While Eren knew there was little chance he would take off, he worried his mother’s words might’ve hurt more than the alpha had let on. What if Levi decided he wasn’t worth the effort? Eren chewed on his bottom lip, the thought unsettling him more than he’d like to admit. “She talked as if he was a monster, right in front of him,” Eren said in a solemn tone. “It was okay in the end, I guess. She said she needed time to think about it… It just sucks how her biggest problem is that he looks a little different.”
“Not everyone is so accepting. But I don’t think it’s that simple,” Armin said. “He’s from outside the colony.”
Eren groaned, sick to death of hearing that sentence. “Why does it even matter?”
“With Erwin… I’ve known him for years. Sure, we didn’t really interact or talk much, there wasn’t any reason to before I presented, but I saw him around and heard things about him.” Armin paused to snatch a comb from the shelf, adding it to his satchel of items before turning to face Eren again. “I already had a good sense of his character before we started courting. Levi’s a stranger, and we don’t know anyone who can vouch for him. There’s only you, which might be a bit, um…”
Eren’s eyebrows pulled together, confused and slightly offended. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Nothing. It’s just… alphas generally try to make themselves look good for potential mates. Your view of him is probably affected by that.” Armin pursed his lips, unsure if his words were helpful or not. “I support you, Eren. I’m just trying to help you understand Carla’s perspective as well.”
Viridian wings sagged as Eren’s shoulders slumped. He’d heard enough of his mother’s opinions for one day. Huffing, Eren grabbed the cushion from beneath him and placed it under his head, laying on his back to stare up at the ceiling. Eren sprawled his arms out as he started to trace the darkened growth rings with his eyes. It was a good distraction, one that the brunet found quite relaxing. There were a few charms dangling down from the wood, including the sapphire charm Armin had received a while ago. He must've moved it inside at some point. It sparkled in the light of his indoor-lantern quite beautifully, a deep blue with excellent clarity and a magnificent lustre. “How’s it going with Erwin?”
“Good, I think.” Armin smiled as he brushed back a strand of golden hair. “I don’t have anything particularly exciting to tell you, but it’s going well. I’ve decided to stay with him tonight.”
“Have you done that before?”
“Nope.” Armin’s pale wings twitching behind him. “It’s exciting… but I’m a bit nervous, too.”
Eren hummed thoughtfully, considering what to say when a loud thump came from outside, the vibration felt through the wood he was laying on. Lolling his head back on the cushion, turquoise eyes landed on an upside-down pair of black wings in the entrance. The alpha tilted his head, sharp silver eyes staring straight back at him. Eren squeaked and scrambled to sit up, settling flat on his knees with the pillow clutched to his chest.
A sleek black eyebrow quirked up, intrigued. Levi dismissed the odd behaviour, and then squinted as looked around the hollow. “Why is there a light in here? You should be able to see.”
“Oh, right!” Eren sprung to his feet and walked over to the miniature lantern, carelessly tossing the pillow back into the nest along the way. After it was put out, he blinked a few times at the sudden change in brightness.
“Woah!” Armin was stunned by the pair of giant eyes that suddenly stood out in the darkened room, a brilliant blood-red that cut through the blue of the night. They were admittedly quite intimidating, but Armin wasn’t afraid as he could still see the fairy that stood between them. “That’s incredible…” The blonde stepped closer, the red glow highlighting his face as he reached out to them. “How do you do that?”
Levi’s voice deepened, sharp with warning. “Don’t touch me.”
Armin flinched away with a yelp. “S-sorry! I… I didn’t-” His eyes flicked over to Eren, blue orbs widened with panic. “Have a nice night!” Flinging the small bag over his shoulder, Armin shot out of the hollow.
Shocked, Eren simply blinked out into the silent forest as a gust of wind carded through his hair. A faint crease appeared between Levi’s eyebrows, possibly a sign remorse. Armin wouldn’t hold a grudge over it, in fact the blonde will probably insist on apologising again tomorrow. Emerald wings gave a single flap as Eren clasped his hands together. “I was waiting to say goodnight, but… where did Isabel and Farlan go?”
“They’re sleeping somewhere else,” Levi said. Black wings undulated in the air with a fluid motion, the crimson eyespots waving hesitantly. “I thought… you might want to stay with me, instead.”
There was a soft flutter in Eren’s chest, a pleasant tingle that made his way down to his stomach. Sleeping next to Levi had been far more enjoyable than he’d thought it would be, and it was reassuring to hear that Levi agreed. “Yeah, I’d like that.” Turquoise eyes dropped down to the floor, the days activities beginning to catch up with him. “I don’t really want to be around my mom at the moment, anyways.”
Eren sighed as he approached the nest. It was kind of Armin to let them stay here, even though Eren hadn’t been the intended guest. The mound of cotton looked quite different to his own, mainly due to the hand-made cushions, each of their cases made of a different variety of flower petal. It was nice, albeit a bit excessive. The omega flopped down onto them, but the smell that wafted out of the material made him feel agitated. To fix the problem, all the cushions were thrown out of the nest, eventually forming a small pile in the furthest corner of the room.
Eren huffed, glaring at the stack of pillows until he was distracted by an inquisitive chirp. Turquoise eyes shifted to watch Levi move closer, until the alpha reached the nest and crawled in as well, the soft material dipping beneath his weight. As he settled down on his side, Eren admired how his face was highlighted by the lantern glow that seeped into the hollow. It accentuated his cheek bones, porcelain skin carved by shadows, and made chrome irises glitter in a way that was almost unnatural.
Levi gave the air a few curious sniffs, his nose scrunching up with a slight grimace. The expression vanished quickly, and Levi let out a questioning coo as he shuffled closer, the soft sound laced with a hint of sorrow.
It confused Eren at first, but he soon figured that Levi was probably just bothered by the smell of the nest. Trying to ignore the strange giddiness that was blossoming in his chest, Eren took the prompt and wiggled forward until they were face to face. Metallic eyes stared back for a moment, until Levi leaned forward to touch the tips of their noses together. It was gentle enough to be ticklish, a simple gesture that felt oddly intimate. Eren blinked as he received a tentative nuzzle, but Levi went still before he could even think of reciprocating, silver eyes glancing away with uncertainty.
Instead, Levi chirped quietly as he jerked his chin up twice in a row, a motion that was now familiar. Eren ducked down to press his face into the alphas neck and snuffled at the welcoming scent he found there, a warm and heady aroma that was becoming quite addicting. The omega felt his body relax as tension drained out of his muscles, the rich pheromones having an almost immediate effect on him. Levi cooed with content, then hooked an arm over Eren to absently run his fingers through wavy chestnut hair.
Eren trilled happily as he buried his nose in pale skin, although he soon noticed that there was something different about it. Levi smelt sweeter than usual. It was a subtle change, one that wouldn’t have been noticeable if he weren’t so close. Eren thought it could be clouded by his own scent, but the undertones of various spices were unmistakably Levi. It wasn’t bad by any means, in fact he found it even more alluring. Emerald wings fluttered as Eren breathed deeply, his drowsy state causing him to act without thinking. Eren’s lips parted, the tip of his tongue poking out to swipe over Levi’s scent gland.
The alpha flinched away with a sharp inhale, black wings spasming with several twitchy and erratic flaps.
Eren froze, staring with wide eyes as Levi flustered around and eventually composed himself. Did he just… lick him? Eren’s face seared with embarrassment as his heart pounded away in his chest. His mouth opened and closed a few times, trying to speak past the taste of spiced wine that lingered on his tongue. “Sorry,” Eren finally squeaked out.
“It’s fine.” Levi swallowed thickly, his voice dropping to a whisper as he watched the omega with heated eyes. “I just… wasn’t expecting you to do that.”
Eren responded with a short hum, unable to manage anything else.
As he went back to his original place, the brunet made sure to keep some space between his lips and Levi’s neck. It still tingled on his tongue, a flavour that could only be described as delicious. Eren wasn’t sure what possessed him to do that, but he was secretly glad he did. He never imagined a fairy could be so mouth-watering. There was a pressure against the top of Eren’s head as Levi nuzzled into his hair, and then a black wing curled over to encompass them both in a cocoon of darkness.
I struggled a little bit with this update, so any and all feedback is greatly appreciated.
And let me know what you thought of a more Levi-centric chapter (is that the word??).
Thanks for all the support so far, you guys are amazing! ^^
Chapter 10: Cherry Tree
*falls out of an inter-dimensional portal*
WHAT YEAR IS THIS?!?
Thanks for you patience with this chapter! I've recently adopted a rabbit and it's a handful, but i'm not too late... right? :D
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Insects sung as morning broke, a golden slighter of sunshine flooding through the window. Eren stirred as it warmed his face, the light tickling behind his eyelids. It took him a moment to remember where he was. The scent lingering in the air made him think of another place. There were no arms wrapped around him, but the sound of rhythmic breathing could still be heard.
Eren sat up in the nest with sleep-tangled hair, eyes immediately seeking out the dark figure alongside him. It seemed Levi had given up his hold to lay on his front instead, jet-black strands dangling over his face as it pressed into the cotton bedding. Eren’s head tilted as he inspected the shortly clipped hair underneath, wondering how Levi managed to cut it that way. He might do it himself, although Eren wouldn’t be surprised if Isabel helped him with these things.
One of the alpha’s wings was bent in an odd way, Eren noticed. Appearing to have snagged on the nest and folded in on itself. The position would cause discomfort when he woke. Eren lifted the black wing with delicate hands, cradling the appendage in his palms as he straightened it out. The wing was somewhat responsive, twitching weakly as it was rearranged. Once satisfied, turquoise eyes went back to Levi’s passive face, which was far more peaceful when he slept.
The distant sound of voices caught Eren’s attention, and he turned to glance out the carved window with curious eyes. There was nothing to be seen besides the blue sky and a layer of foliage.
The brunet was eager to go outside and see what was happening today. Fairies were assigned tasks on most days, duties that would aid in the colony’s survival and growth, and there was more to do as Spring continued. Eren’s gaze fell back to the nest. While he hated to disturb Levi, he already knew what could happen if he left without letting the alpha know. An outburst wouldn’t help their case, especially if Carla were to hear about it. Especially since all growling had been omitted from the stories he’d told her.
A tan finger reached out to poke the alpha’s cheek, his pale skin a little squishy beneath the prodding. A quite grumble fell from Levi’s lips, and so Eren proceeded to tap his fingertips against the side of his face with insistence.
There was a groggy hum as Levi’s eyes fluttered. They opened just enough for a thin line of silver to appear between his dark lashes, gazing up at Eren without focus. “Pretty…”
“Um,” Eren said, his wings fluttering at the whispered compliment. Levi probably hadn’t meant to say that. The alpha stared at him, metallic eyes barely open and blinking slowly, but he appeared conscious enough to understand. “I’m going outside to see if anyone needs my help. You can stay here if you want.”
Levi rolled over with a dismissive grunt, content with going back to sleep.
Eren chewed on his lip as he lingered in the nest, concerned about how Levi seemed particularly tired recently. Being awake during the day might be exhausting for him, or it could simply be due to the days becoming longer. Eren hoped he wouldn’t completely destroy Levi’s circadian rhythm.
Once he’d managed to climb over the alpha without causing a disturbance, Eren used his fingers to wrangle his hair into something less unruly as he walked over to the exit. Tiny sunbeams broke through the scattered canopy overhead, the forest whispering as a crisp breeze passed through the vegetation. Eren pushed off the branch in a flutter of emerald wings, the weight of warm air making the journey a little easier.
It didn’t take long for Eren to reach his destination. He descended from the sky to a lower altitude, then landed one foot after the other on a terrace carved into a large tree. This was one of Eren’s favourite places in the colony. The wood and bark were chipped away to form an open balcony. The edge was lined by a decorative handrail made from pale oak, an intricate design of swirling lines etched onto the smooth surface.
Eren picked up on the scent of sweetened rose petals emanating from within the connecting hollow, so he walked over to look inside. It was one of their many communal areas, used for storage more often than not. There were woven grass containers of various sizes stacked against one of the walls, from personal-use bowls to collecting baskets, while another side had giant wooden barrels to store large quantities of pollen and fruit.
A flash of pink caught Eren’s attention, and he called out with uncertainty. “Petra?”
“Oh!” Petra yelped at the unexpected sound, pastel wings fluttering as she straightened up to peek over a basket filled with flower seeds. “Eren,” She began, emerging from behind the shelves. “Listen, I want to apologise for what happened in the meadow. I was the leader and supervisor for that outing. If I’d paid more attention, you might not have gotten lost.”
“Don’t feel bad.” Turquoise eyes landed on the stick Petra was holding in her hand, dark grey and slightly rectangular. Graphite, if it metallic smudges on her fingertips were any indication. “Nothing bad happened, and I made a few new friends.”
“Is there anything I can help with today?”
“Most of the omegas are out at the stream.” Petra hummed as she spun the shimmering stick in her fingers, thoughtful. “But… there’s a beta group in the north-east that could use an extra pair of wings, if you’re up for it.”
“Sure,” Eren grinned. Omegas were usually given the less strenuous tasks, things like weaving or fruit preservation. It would be safe to assume that the others were washing equipment at the river. Eren was eager to try something different, so long as he didn’t have to collect pollen any time soon.
Petra smiled, allowing a brief silence before speaking again. “I hear you’ve started a courtship.”
“Yeah,” Eren said, caution creeping into his voice. “Who told you that?”
“I’m happy for you. Armin too, and I expect one or both other omegas from your year to start courting by the end of the season. You’re all so beautiful, it’s not surprising that alphas are already trying to swoop in and snatch you up.”
Eren’s lips pulled tight. The idea of someone snatching him up was a little unsettling, even if it was a fair summary of how Levi had tracked him down and taken him home. But that was under unique circumstances. Their meeting probably would’ve gone a lot differently if Eren hadn’t been in such a dangerous situation. Or they wouldn’t have met at all, as Eren was now convinced his distressed scent was what led Levi to him in the first place.
Eren shifted on his feet as the silence dragged on, until he eventually cleared his throat to speak. “Do you have a mate?”
“There have been opportunities, but I…” There was a brief hesitation. Petra looked down at her hands, absently trying to rub some of the smudges off her skin. “I’ve never been interested in someone like that. I know it’s unusual, especially for an omega, but I like the way my life is now. I’ve just never felt that pull, I guess.”
“Oh. Well that’s okay, you should do whatever makes you happy.” Eren returned the smile she gave him, small but friendly. Petra stared with a thoughtful expression on her face, as if she had more to say. The brunet prompted her by raising his eyebrows.
“Ah, r-right. Despite my own situation, I’m well informed about these things. So… if you ever have a question and you don’t feel comfortable asking your mother, I’m more than happy to help. Or we could get a little group together and have a chat, if you want.”
“Thanks,” Eren said. It was a relief to have some guidance, but he doubted that Petra would know all that much about night-fairies. How could she? Although most of their differences seemed to be in the finer details, so he supposed it could be of some help. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
Pink wings fluttered with pride as Petra smiled once more, then she walked back to the baskets to continue with whatever she’d been doing.
With the conversation over, Eren spun around and rushed out of the hollow. He paused on the balcony, eyes searching the sky as he took a moment to remember the direction Petra had given him. Working it out wasn’t difficult, Eren only had to find a familiar landmark to orientate himself in the colony. Once he did, Eren leaped from the wooden platform and took to the air.
The vegetation became sparse as Eren approached the edge of the forest, the canopy gradually thinning to reveal more of the baby blue sky and the sunshine spilling out of it. Humid air was warm and sticky on his wings, the once pleasant feel now causing his flight to be slow and lethargic. Eren didn’t mind. He wasn’t in a rush, and it gave him an opportunity to enjoy the buzz of insects and the rustle of leaves that were usually absent in the more populated areas.
A shrill giggle broke the calm song of nature, an enthusiastic sound that gave away its owner’s location. Following it, Eren came across a clearing near the perimeter. From the patch of grass grew several medium-sized trees with large, droopy leaves. They were a lively green, vibrant and cheerful, and quite thin given how the sunlight seemed to pass through them in a radiant shade of lime.
Eren made a graceful landing on a log laying beneath one of the trees and looked up with curious eyes. Clusters of plump fruit hung down from the branches, each one a dramatic glossy red. Among them were trails of fluttering movement, several fairies zipping through the air and ducking between the foliage.
Distracted, Eren didn’t notice the falling fruit until it smacked down next to him. He yelped, head whipping around to watch it bounce and tumble off the log before rolling along the grass.
“Whoopsies!” A pair of burnt-orange wings descended from the treetops. Hange landed in the grass, using their foot to prevent the red sphere from rolling any further. “Didn’t see you down here, Sugarplum.”
“What’re you doing?” Eren asked, watching them adjust the pair of goggles on their face. He’d seen a few other fairies wearing them, either to enhance their vision or to keep wind and pollen from irritating their eyes while flying.
“Collecting cherries?” Hange scratched their head. It wasn’t until Eren’s eyes glanced down to the fruit underfoot that they exclaimed in recognition. “Oh! These suckers are heavy.” To demonstrate, they gave the cherry a soft kick. “It’s easier to let them fall and pick them up later.”
“Can I help?”
“That’d be great, there’s only a few of us out here today. It’s just moblit and Rico, as usual. And-” Hange stopped as a single seed fell in front of them, dark juice and flesh clinging to the gritty surface. “Sasha!” They pointed up at a guilty face that was peeking down from a branch, wide eyed and mouth stained red. “Stop eating the cherries! Are you a fairy or a fat little caterpillar?!” Hange huffed before taking off, orange wings flapping as they flew up into the tree.
Eren chuckled to himself before following. He settled at a low-level branch, however he found the thin stick more of a challenge to land on. Turquoise eyes were quick to spot the other fairies that Hange had mentioned. A male fairy with dark honey coloured wings met Eren’s gaze and waved at him. Moblit, presumably. The omega smiled back, then his attention shifted to Rico. She was wearing a pair of goggles and had pale wings to match her hair. The small appendages were off-white with faint flecks of grey, the pattern reminiscent of a speckled eggshell.
Placing his hands on the bark, Eren looked down to examine the slender stems that dangled from his branch. A bright cherry was attached to end of each one, the round fruit almost the size of a young fairy’s head. Most commonly, they were made into a jam or preserved whole. The striking red was also a popular clothing dye in the warmer months, or the juice could be diluted to give a more delicate colour.
Eren wrapped his hands around one of the stems and gave it a shake, but the stubborn fruit managed to hang on despite his efforts. Huffing, Eren decided to try a different approach, viridian wings fluttering as he shuffled off the branch. He hovered in the air next to the cherry, grabbing hold of it and giving a firm tug. It wobbled, but not much else.
Eren glared at it as his frustration grew, until he took the stem in his hands and placed his feet on the cherry, allowing it to support his weight as he tried to detach it.
The brunet let out a startled yelp as the cherry came loose. Eren fell with it, limbs flailing, and had to perform a disorderly backwards tumble before he could correct himself in the air. Bright eyes watched the fruit plummet towards the ground and land in the grass with an audible thud. Eren stared down at his accomplishment, an ecstatic smile spreading over his face.
The task became easier with practice, although he would encounter a particularly clingy stem on occasion. The other fairies were much faster at it, plucking almost two cherries in the time it took him to do one, but Eren did his best not to let it discourage him. They had experience doing this, and the fact that Sasha took a bite out of every few meant that their totals being near equal.
The sun was hovering in the middle of the sky by the time they decided to take a break. It was tiring work, but thankfully the cover of foliage provided some shelter from the heat.
Eren met with the others on the grass to rest his wings, but he decided to avoid the blaring sunshine and stayed in the shade of the tree. He watched Moblit and Rico assemble the cherries into a poorly organised stack, while Hange struggled to count them as they piled up. Keen ears twitched at a sudden squelching sound. Eren turned to find Sasha sitting up against the tree trunk, a bleeding cherry cradled in her hands.
Voices carried in the breeze as another squad of fairies leisurely floating across the sky, the faint sound of chatter. Their wings were bold against the pale blue backdrop, the colours deeper and more vivid than anything you would see on an omega or even a beta. Eren wasn’t entirely sure what the alphas did from day-to-day, but he often saw them go out in small groups of three or four. Curious, he decided to ask Sasha. “Where are they going?”
“Mn?” Sasha blinked up from her snack, a trail of red juice slithering down her chin. “They go around checking the colony’s territory and marking stuff. It’s important, according to them…” Sasha narrowed her eyes at the swarm of alphas. “If you ask me, they should come down here and do some real work.”
Humming at the new information, Eren found that he felt a little bad for them. Alphas were instinctually driven to protect and defend, but the lack of danger in the colony meant there weren’t many opportunities to satisfy that need, which would probably cause considerable frustration. Checking the area is safe may grant them some relief.
Considering what Eren had seen recently, it was miraculous that the alphas were able to live together and have so few altercations. Given how Erwin had reacted to a single alpha stepping out of line, perhaps their unspoken hierarchy was more complex than it appeared.
Eren was startled by the sudden exclamation. His gaze flicked over to Sasha, questioning, then followed her eyes to the sky. An alpha was flying straight for them.
“Do you think he heard me?” Sasha whispered, the half-eaten cherry dropping from her limp hands.
As the fairy got closer, Eren realised that it was someone he recognised. The omega always knew it was only a matter of time before they ran into each other again, but his body still became tense as he watched the figure approach. It wasn’t that he hated Jean. Eren just wasn’t particularly fond of what came out of his mouth.
Jean reached the tree, flapping as he landed in front of them. “Hey guys.”
“Hi,” Sasha replied, lifting her arm to wipe the juice from her face.
Eren put minimal effort into his smile, the expression appearing dull and lifeless. Jean’s wings were a different colour to what he remembered, an olive green that lightened into a deep spearmint towards the tips, matte except for the subtle reflection of sunlight.
Jean gave Sasha a brief glance before his attention shifted over to Eren, eyes brightening as a smile pulled at his lips. “Wow, I haven’t gotten a good look at you since presentation. I wasn’t expecting you to become an omega… you sure turned out nice, Eren.” He inched closer, leaning forward to sniff at the air. A frown appeared on Jean’s face as he pulled away, the glint in his eyes becoming far less friendly. “Too bad you stink.”
As Eren was about to retort, he was startled into silence by something falling to the ground behind him. Thankfully, he hadn’t missed the sound of alarm that it elicited from Jean. When Eren turned around, he wasn’t surprised to find a pair of black wings looming over his shoulder, held high in the air and rigidly still, threatening crimson eyespots glowing with menace.
Judging by the look on Levi’s face, he’d woken up on the wrong side of the nest. “You shouldn’t be close enough to smell him.”
“Are you kidding?” Jean asked in an incredulous tone, taking two steps back at the same time. “I’d have to be all the way back at the colony.”
Levi raised a sardonic eyebrow, the faintest hint of amusement cracking through his grim expression.
Oblivious, Jean snuffled a bit more, his nose scrunching up at the scent that hit it. “Oh, I see what’s going on.” Accusing eyes landed on Eren. “None of the alphas around here are good enough for you, huh?”
Levi scoffed as his wings flapped forcefully, answering before Eren had a chance to. “If you’re referring to yourself, I’m afraid not.”
“Eren’s always had strange taste,” Jean said. He inspected the black wings and eyespots, feeling more confident now that there was some distance between them. “Of course, he’d go for the freakiest alpha he could find.”
“Jean!” Eren warned, even though he knew it was a terrible idea to get between squabbling alphas. The usual advice for such a situation was to stay well out of the way, but he doubted Levi would attack someone over a few insults.
Eren’s confidence faltered when Levi moved forward to stand slightly in front of him, and he took a subconscious step back.
“Would you like to know what my people call an alpha like you?” Levi stared straight into Jean’s eyes, voice deepening to a low growl. “Pathetically inadequate.”
Jean was thrown off, hesitating for a moment as he fought the urge to break eye contact. “Is that why you stole one of our omegas? None of your own kind wanted to be your mate?”
“Eren never belonged to you.”
“He belongs to the colony.”
“Is that what you think?” Levi asked in a dull tone, thoroughly unimpressed. It was a shame that he couldn’t resort to violence. The personal risk, while minimal, simply wasn’t worth it. For all he knew, those other alphas could all be waiting to fly in and swarm him.
Eren squeaked when Levi turned to grab him, startled by the sudden grip on his shoulders. It was even more surprising when Levi started rubbing his face into Eren’s hair. While the brunet usually found this type of affection enjoyable, it was rather awkward to do it with an audience.
Jean frowned at them. “Gross…”
Unsure of what to do, Eren simply stood there and let Levi do as he pleased. Turquoise eyes widened when Levi made strange sound. It was a deep coo, languid and suggestive of pleasure, a vocalisation he’d never heard from the alpha before. It was enough to make Eren’s cheeks burn red, and he saw a flash of horror pass through Jean’s eyes.
“Ew! Don’t do that in front of me!”
“I’m not going to stop,” Levi said, glaring at Jean as he slowly dragged his neck through chocolate hair. “If you have a problem with it, you should leave.”
Jean froze for a second, realising he was going to be the one who backed down first. He turned away with an irritated huff, grumbling to himself as he took off and disappeared into the sky.
The moment he was out of sight, Levi pulled away to stand beside him again. Silver eyes stared at a random tree as Levi cleared his throat, apparently embarrassed.
Eren was about to question why Levi had stopped despite saying that he wouldn’t, but he decided against it once he noticed Sasha and the others were still gawking at them. “I could’ve handled that myself. I don’t get along with Jean, but he’s never caused any real problems. He’s all talk and no bite.”
Levi’s eyes flicked back to Eren. “In that case, it would be unwise of him to pick a fight with me.”
“Yeah...” Eren said, quiet and dreamy, before his eyebrows pinched together in confusion. “Wait, no. You don’t need to fight anyone.” Glancing up at the cherry tree, another thought popped into the brunet’s head. “Where did you even come from? Your timing was pretty convenient.”
“It wasn’t a coincidence,” Levi said. Dark wings started to relax behind him, the blackness merging into the shade as his eyespots faded to a dull burgundy. “I was watching you.”
“Really?” Levi seemed to do that quite often. Eren didn’t mind at all, he sometimes liked to watch Levi as well, but there was surely a better way of saying so.
“There isn’t much else for me to do. I was watching you play in the tree, then I saw that shithead flying towards you.”
Eren’s eyes narrowed. “I wasn’t playing. I was working.”
“Oh? It’s bright today, I suppose I couldn’t see very well.”
The brunet pursed his lips and released a hum. That was an acceptable enough explanation. It did make him wonder if Levi had seen him fall out of the tree, but Eren chose to be optimistic and assume that he hadn’t been around for that long. “Did you like sleeping in?”
“It was fine,” Levi replied. Metallic eyes blinked up to the tree, squinting at the specks of sunshine that filtered through the leaves. “What were you doing, then?”
“Collecting fruit.” Eren held out his hand and gestured to the pile of cherries. He caught Hange’s gaze as he did so, and they mistook it for an invitation.
Orange wings fluttered as Hange skipped over. They stopped next Eren and pushed their goggles up to rest on their forehead, smiling as they indiscreetly sniffed around the two of them. The nose of a beta was far less sensitive, but it was good enough to pick up on most things at short range. Hange’s grin grew exponentially, wide and wolfish. “Who’s this shadowy stranger?”
“He’s my, um…” Eren blinked, seeing a curious black eyebrow raise in his direction. “This is Levi.”
“What an interesting specimen...”
Levi drew his wings together as Hange came closer. The beta’s movements were skittish, as if they were about to leap on him at any second. “Back off,” Levi said.
“Oh, don’t be so dramatic. I won’t hurt you!” Hange’s fingers wiggled in the air as they fought the urge to reach out and touch him. That probably wouldn’t end well. Instead, they tried circling around Levi to examine the back of his wings, but he rotated along with them to maintain stern eye contact. Once they’d completed a full circle, Hange came to a stop and explained quietly. “I’m intrigued by all things unusual.”
“I’m not so special,” Levi said, flat and lifeless.
Hange hummed as they tapped a finger against their chin. “I’m inclined to disagree.” Hange slid the goggles back into place, their brown eyes appearing larger through the lenses. “Time to get back to work. I don’t want to be out here all day.” With that, they took off to re-join their group.
Eren watched the pair of black wings beside him settle in a more natural position, lowering as they lost their rigidness. Being so used to communal life, it was easy for him to forget how bizarre all of this would seem to Levi. It must be overwhelming to come to an unknown place and meet so many new people, but the alpha was doing alright so far. At least Hange had been friendly. While Eren could think of someone else that would be excited to see a night-fairy, they could probably do with a bit of a break.
Eren’s gaze shifted to watch Levi’s head tilt minutely, silent as he stared back with expectant silver eyes. “Want to see what we’re doing?”
“Why not,” Levi mumbled as he looked up to inspect the clusters of fruit. “It could be interesting.”
Eren pushed off the grass and ascended into the foliage, quickly landing a new branch that was slightly higher up than before. It was wider, bark thick and sturdy, providing enough space to comfortably fit them both. The wood had some breaks in it, cracks revealing light green wounds that smelt of pummelled leaves.
Levi landed on the branch in his usual fashion, the sudden impact causing the branch to creak and sway. Eyes narrows and analytical, he glanced down at the cherries dangling from the branch, then up at the few hovering above their heads.
“We choose the ones with the richest colour. If they’re dull, it’s probably not fully ripe,” Eren said, watching the alphas eyes flick between the collection of cherries. Levi’s expression was pensive and unsure, perhaps finding it difficult to differentiate between the similar shades of red. He clearly didn’t have much experience with fruit, even the berries he’d given Eren in the past had tasted bitter and under-ripe. Taking the initiative, Eren searched the bundle hanging above them until he spotted a suitable cherry, its skin shining a dark scarlet red. “This is a good one.” Eren flew up to it and got a firm grasp, then begun his preferred method of twisting it in his hands.
Levi observed in silence, his interest dwindling the longer Eren struggled with the fruit. The omega was turning and tugging, wings an emerald blur as they fluttered with effort. Upon hearing a groan of frustration, Levi felt the need to interrupt. “Do you want me to try?”
“I’ve got it,” Eren insisted as he let go to pull at the stem instead, but it was no use. Letting out a loud huff, he plopped down onto the bark. “Fine… my arms are getting tired, anyways.” Glancing to the side, Eren’s eyebrow furrowed when he discovered that he was alone on the branch. He scanned the layer of foliage as he spun in a quick circle, seeing nothing besides droopy leaves and a maze of brittle sticks.
A moment later, Eren let out a startled squeak as Levi flew past him, then swung his leg up to give the cherry a harsh kick. The fruit broke away from the stem and shot through the air. Eren watched it vanish among the vegetation of nearby plants, well and truly lost to the forest. The alpha came back to land next to him, face smug, and Eren spoke with some reluctance. “How, um… how am I supposed to find that?”
Levi stood up and met wide turquoise eyes, tilting his head questioningly. “You wanted to keep it?”
The omega pursed his lips, unsure whether Levi was being serious or not. Probably not, considering what Eren had seen of his humour so far. He had no trouble believing that Levi would waste a perfectly good cherry just to tease him. “Why else would we be doing this?” Eren asked.
“Of course. My mistake,” Levi said as he stared in the direction the fruit had flown in, a tiny smirk appearing on his face. “That might’ve been a bit excessive.”
“Maybe a little.” Eren laughed lightly. At least it wouldn’t be wasted, a forest critter would stumble upon the cherry and have its day made. He only wished that one of poorer quality had been chosen for sacrifice. Eren watched black wings sway idly in the air, the rhythmic motion slow and contemplative. “Thank you.”
Levi’s wings gave a sudden flap, silver eyes flicking over to Eren. “For what?”
“Coming here,” Eren said. “Being around all these strangers must be stressful for you. It’s so different to what you’re used to… I really appreciate it, that’s all.”
Levi made a quiet sound, a muted trill that seemed bashful and shy, as he stepped closer to loop his arms around Eren’s back.
Eren leaned into the embrace as Levi’s scent surrounded him. It was protective and uplifting, strong enough to consume him, and Eren took it upon himself to seek out more contact. Touching Levi never failed to fill him with an unusual sense of elation. Eren bowed his head to nuzzle into Levi’s neck, chirping happily when a familiar rumble reached his ears. He felt Levi rubbing against his hair, the strokes slow and lethargic. Eren wondered if he could get Levi to make that noise from earlier.
“It’s not too much trouble…”
The words were spoken in a rugged voice, and Eren had to consciously remind himself of what they’d been talking about.
Levi’s nuzzling came to a stop, arms tightened around the omega as his body stilled. “But I prefer when it’s just the two of us.”
“Me too.” There was a humid warmth against the side of his head, steady breaths that seeped into his hair. The alpha swallowed thickly, the sound loud against Eren’s ear as he felt the muscles in Levi’s neck shift. A gentle nudge sought to coax him out of his hiding spot.
Curious of the silence, Eren lifted his head and was met by a pair of magnetic silver eyes. They were staring back at him rather intently, carrying a question that Eren found impossible to decipher. Viridian wings twitched as Levi edged close, the sides of their noses brushed together until Eren felt Levi’s lips touch his own. The contact was brief, light as a butterfly and disappearing just as fast.
Eren froze, his pulse drowning out the whisper of leaves. Instead of moving away, Levi watched him with rapt attention, although his expression was marred by apprehension and unease. Eren licked his lips and took notice of how Levi’s gaze fell to follow the movement. The twisting of his stomach was almost paralysing, but Eren managed to push past it and let himself lean forward. Turquoise eyes drifted shut, and Levi’s mouth on his a second later.
It was firmer and held more confidence, forcing Eren to use some effort to stop his head from being pushed back. Levi’s lips were surprisingly warm, the heat of them spreading through Eren’s entire body as they started moving in a slow massaging motion. Feeling unsteady, he leaned further in and placed a hand on Levi’s chest for support, solid and hot beneath his fingertips. Eren could feel the thumping of a racing heart, although he couldn’t determine who it belonged to.
Levi relieved the uncomfortable squish of their noses with a slight head tilt, and he raised a hand to gently comb his fingers through chestnut hair. His chest heaved as it welled with pride and satisfaction, a pleased coo vibrating in the back of his throat. Eren’s lips were intoxicating as they eagerly moved along with him, the rising sweetness of his scent making self-restraint increasingly difficult. A muffled mewl from the omega brought on a flood of thoughts that he’d struggled to keep at bay thus far. Reluctantly, Levi pulled back to separate them and ran his tongue over his own lips. “Eren, I…” Hearing how husky his voice had become, Levi stopped to clear his throat.
The words made Eren’s eyes flutter open. He felt euphoric, skin hot and tingling as his inner omega sung praise of Levi’s affections. It urged him to somehow attach himself to the alpha, cling to him and never let go, which Eren thought was both impractical and entirely unreasonable. “What is it?” He asked quietly, transfixed by the gentle sway of Levi’s wings. The eyespots glowied a bloody crimson in the shade of the tree.
Levi hummed deeply, evading the question as he took to scent marking any part of Eren he could reach. It was the only way to alleviate the thrumming of his insistent alpha. He found Eren’s neck and let out a soft coo, snuffling at the sweet skin before rubbing his scent gland over it a few times.
Eren accepted the attention, but he wouldn’t be deterred so easily. “Tell me.”
“I… uh,” Levi stalled a bit, keeping his face hidden over Eren’s shoulder. “I keep thinking about what you did last night, how you put your mouth on me.”
Eren released a shaky breath, his hair ruffling as black wings moved with a sudden flap. Even though licking Levi didn’t seem so absurd now that they’d kissed, he still thought it was embarrassing and at least a little bit strange. He’d seen plenty of couples kiss before, but he’d never seen a fairy lick another. Although it tasted good enough that he would probably do it again regardless. Eren gave a short hum, prompting the alpha to continue.
One of Levi’s wings twitched to the side, fidgety and nervous. “If it’s alright with you, I want-”
Eren almost jumped out of skin, their fragile bubble shattered by the intrusive voice. Turning towards it, he saw Rico staring at them from her perch on a nearby branch. One of his ears flicked at the low growl that emanated from Levi, barely audible but more than enough to convey his displeasure. Eren didn’t need to look to know that Levi had a scowl on his face.
“Why am I not surprised…” Rico mumbled to herself, the words quite as to only reach her own ears. After releasing an unimpressed sigh, she used an index finger to push up her goggles and spoke louder. “If we take anymore we won’t be able to carry them back by sundown. We’re leaving now,” Rico paused to give them a withering look. “If you’re not too busy.”
“Right,” Eren said, then watched Rico drop out of the tree without giving a response. He turned to give Levi a sheepish smile, shrugging when the alpha returned with a rueful look of his own.
Eren hopped from the edge of the branch and let himself fall through the canopy, fluttering to slow his descent as he approached the ground. When his feet found purchase, Eren saw several discoloured nets sprawled over the grass. The woven rope crossed over to form a pattern of squares, the gaps small enough that a fist wouldn’t be able to fit through.
Copying the others, Eren took one of the spare nets and carried it over to his pile of cherries. It was considerably smaller than Sasha’s now, but that was only because he’d had a distraction. The thought made Eren tilt his head back to look up at the tree. It took him a moment to spot Levi among the foliage, his crimson eyespots blended in with the remaining cherries. Levi was loitering on a low branch with his shoulder resting on the tree trunk, peering down with a blank expression, apparently content to keep a distance now that there were no alphas around.
Eren knelt on the grass and started placing the cherries inside his net. The absent task allowed his thoughts to circle back to Levi, the kiss they’d shared repeating in his mind. It was difficult not to feel self-conscious and wonder if he’d done it correctly, especially since Levi seemed to have some idea of what he was doing. He peeked out from under messy chocolate hair to look back up at Levi once again. Still watching. Silver eyes flicked over met his own, sharp and inquisitive, and Eren quickly turned away as a light blush spread over his cheeks.
With all the cherries were inside, Eren wrapped the net around them and brought the edges together to create a large sac. The other fairies had done the same, although they’d all left about half of their fruit on the ground, most likely intending to do it in two trips. Eren didn’t feel too bad about collected fewer than everyone else, after all he wasn’t even supposed to be there. Gripping the net firmly, the omega tugged on it a few times to test the weight. Quite heavy, he discovered. His wings were more for visual appeal than physical labour, but it would be manageable for a short distance.
As Eren adjusted his hands to find a comfortable position, his hair was suddenly blown into his face by a heavy gust of wind. At the sound of a wingbeat, he turned around to look at Levi, eyes wide and questioning.
Levi took a moment to examine the netting, scrutinising, then held his hand out. “I’ll take it.”
“No!” Eren pulled the bag towards himself and out of Levi’s reach, seeing black eyebrows pinch together in blatant confusion. Viridian wings moved with a subtle twitch as Eren realised the other fairies were staring at them. He hadn’t meant to speak so loudly. Ignoring them, Eren lowered his voice a bit. “Thank you, but… I gathered them myself, so I want to carry them myself.”
“Oh, alright…” Levi dropped his arm and backed off, still a bit perplexed. “That’s fine.”
The dejected tone caused a tightness in Eren’s chest. He was sure Levi hadn’t meant anything by it and was only trying to be helpful, but Eren didn’t want the others to think he needed an alpha to do all his work for him. Determined, the brunet readjusted his grip and stretched his wings, the sheer appendages sparkling in the sunshine.
Once Moblit had covered the remaining cherries with a large leaf, presumably to prevent it from attracting birds, the group took off and headed back to the colony. Getting off the ground was the hardest part, Eren found, having to push off with enough force to lift the sac along with him. It became less of a struggle once he’d built up some momentum, emerald wings flapping vigorously as he followed behind the betas. Their wings were larger and thicker, the extra surface area allowing them to get more air resistance and power out of each flap.
The strain on Eren’s arms was bothersome, but the sting of rope between his fingers was the most painful. It was from the roughness of the netting, the movement of flight causing it to rub against his delicate skin. The omega sighed as it suddenly became cooler, the shade of a cloud giving some relief from the exhausting heat. He was thankful for it; the journey was tiring enough without the sun sapping his energy.
A melodic warble rang out, high and chiming. Curious of it, Eren managed to roll enough to glance over his shoulder, discovering it was not a cloud that was responsible for his comfort. Levi was flying directly above him, black wings spread wide to shield Eren from the sunlight. A living parasol. Eren met his eyes, chrome irises darkened by shadows, and Levi made another chirpy vocalisation. As it was difficult to fly while twisted around, Eren gave him an appreciative smile before turning back to the forest.
When they finally reached their destination, Eren landed on the balcony of the storage hollow with a loud thud and little grace. The net was dropped onto the polished wood, cherries bouncing within it as they tried to escape, while Eren let out a dramatic groan and sat down next to it. It was a good thing he hadn’t collected as many as other others, he couldn’t bear to do a second trip.
Turquoise eyes blinked up as Levi landed on the decorative railing, taking a moment to find his balance before crouching down to perch on it. “That’s not what it’s for,” Eren said.
Levi simply shrugged, staring down at the brunet before his eyes flicked towards the pattering sound of approaching footsteps.
Following his gaze, Eren saw Rico walking towards them with Petra close behind. Rico paused to give Levi a critical look, a frown on her face at the misuse of the railing, then she grabbed onto Eren’s net and began dragging it towards to hollow.
Petra’s eyes widened as they landed on Levi and took in the appearance of his wings almost frantically. Once the shock had worn off, Petra spun on her heel to chase after Rico and help her carry the cherries inside. Pastel pink wings fluttered as she took hold of the net and looked back, smiling. “Good job, Eren.”
The brunet perked, praise making his exhaustion seem less severe. Still, he definitely needed to rest for a while. Eren turned to glance up at Levi, who had taken to watching the odd fairy that flew past them every now and then. The way he was perched on the thin strip of wood was oddly similar to a bird of prey, poised to swoop down and make a quick meal of an unsuspecting animal.
Eren wondered if he’d eaten today.
Levi gave him a questioning look, raising a sleek eyebrow as his head tilted slightly.
“I was thinking earlier,” Eren begun, shuffling back to prop himself up against the wood. “We’ve been meeting one person after the other since we got here. I know that’s sort of the point, but, um… why don’t we spend some time alone? I want to introduce you to Armin’s grandpa, but that can wait until tomorrow.”
“Okay,” Levi said, black wings swaying enthusiastically.
Suggestions for the fairy date? ;)
Chapter 11: Dusk
Hey hey! It's finally fairy date time! This took longer than expected... again. Whoops.
I got several suggestions for a swimming theme, but I already have something like that planned for a future chapter. There were a few comments along the lines of whats going down.
After picking cherries all day, it's time for Levi to have some fun! :D
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
It was late afternoon by the time they decided to head off. Eren had helped Petra sort and count the cherries they’d collected, a basic task that gave his wings some much needed relief.
Even though he tried not to, Eren occasionally found the gentle nature of his body to be a hinderance. He didn’t think omegas weren’t seen as less than the other dynamics. Everyone has an important role to play, as Erwin often said. But even so, hearing someone claim that omegas belonged to the colony made Eren wonder about their true mentality.
Standing outside the storage hollow, Eren eyed the surrounding trees as he searched for a pair of black wings. Levi had come and gone while he was busy inside, the alpha’s mind alternating between wanting to escape the boring task to his desire to remain close by.
Behind rows of trees was the golden sun, its gradual descent sending specks of flickering light through the canopy of leaves. Eren wasn’t concerned about the retreating sunshine. There was some time left in the day, and it never became blindingly dark due to the lanterns and thin treetops. In fact, he was happy for it. With all the other fairies going inside and settling down, there was no chance of anyone interrupting their time together.
Turquoise eyes were soon drawn to movement within the trees. Leaves swaying on their branches as Levi soared past them, edges of his agile wings barely clipping the mass of greenery. It must’ve been intentional, a subtle method of announcing his presence. Curious, Eren watched Levi circle around a thick tree trunk, his flight becoming progressively louder in an apparent demand for attention. Eren smothered a giggle at the behaviour, then pushed off the wooden platform to join him in the sky.
The lack of direct sunlight left the forest a pleasant temperature, air cooling as it was stripped of humidity and making it feel fresh beneath the wing. Eren caught up to Levi rather quickly, flying above and behind him, and was elated to catch the moment when Levi glanced back to make sure he was following. Eren had no idea where they were going, but he supposed it didn’t matter much. He was confident in this area, explored it thoroughly in the past, and having Levi by his side only made him feel more at ease.
As he watched the alpha fly ahead of him, Eren couldn’t help but wonder of his origins. There must be a reason no one had seen a night-fairy before. Levi and his friends lived relatively close, and it wasn’t rare for fairies to venture so far in search of new resources. Did they intentionally conceal themselves? Why would they? There were the stories Raymond spoke of, which meant someone must’ve encountered them at some point in the past. The mystery surrounding them only seemed to grow as time went on. It didn’t help that despite Levi’s usual bluntness, he generally preferred to deflect questions than answer them.
Suddenly, Levi did a swift barrel roll in the air, the movement much more precise than when Eren had tried to perform it. The alpha ended up on his back, the pointed tips of black wings quivering in the breeze as he glided along effortlessly, metallic eyes staring up at Eren with an unreadable expression.
It was interesting how omegas were often perceived as graceful, and yet Levi was the most elegant flier he’d ever seen.
Crickets sounded out from the forest floor as they woke, harmonic songs high and strident. Levi had guided them quite far from the central colony, and the landscape became increasingly unfamiliar to Eren. Perhaps Levi was trying to ensure their privacy… that wouldn’t be surprising, especially after Rico had so rudely interrupted their moment in the cherry tree. Emerald wings flapped with new found excitement as he wondered what Levi had in mind for the evening. Exploring would be fun, although Levi didn’t seem to enjoy trekking through the forest.
They eventually landed in an overgrown area, a small twig snapping beneath the brunet’s heel. The usual routine began without delay. Fascinated, Eren watched Levi walk in a wide circle, prowling almost, alert eyes flicking through the trees with wings spread flat against his back, making the threatening eyespots more prominent.
While Levi did his weird alpha stuff, Eren took a look around. Wild and unruly vegetation covered a considerable portion of the ground, curling ferns and a variety of flat-leafed plants, the fresh scent of organic earth lingering in the air. Moss creeped up the tree trunks to meet thin vines, dangling from the branches in differing shades of dark and gloomy green. The untouched state was reminiscent of Levi’s forest, which might be why he’d chosen this place.
It was a little unsettling now that the remaining sunlight was draining from the sky.
Eren worried his lip as he forced the thought out of head. If he wanted to be with a night-fairy, he couldn’t run away whenever the sun started to set. Levi never complained about going out during the day. There was nothing to be afraid of, this part of the forest was neither dark or dangerous.
Finished with his inspection, Levi’s wings relaxed as he turned back around. “Is this okay?”
“I like it,” Eren replied, although he would be fine with almost any location. Silver eyes remained on him, silent yet thoughtful, and Eren swallowed as he clasped his hands together. Even with how comfortable they’d become with each other, his body wound tight with nerves at the thought of being close to Levi again. It only felt awkward due to the expectation, Eren knew. When a chirp started up in the distance, he spoke with a soft smile. “Do you want to go find it?”
Levi raised an eyebrow, one of ears tilting as he listened to the singing cricket. It was loud and obnoxious, blissfully unaware of the danger it was putting itself in. “You wouldn’t mind?”
“I’m curious about how you catch them,” Eren said, pausing before reluctantly tacking on, “but, um… that’s probably the only part I’d want to see.” He wasn’t sure how often a night fairy was supposed to eat, but the last thing Eren wanted was for Levi to skip meals on his behalf. It sounded like something the alpha would do, either out of politeness or fear of repulsing him, which was absurd.
At the very least, it would give them something to do besides stare at each other.
“Fine. Follow me.” Levi’s eyes narrowed, sharp and accusing. “And be quiet.”
With that, Eren was left behind in a gust of wind, the turbulence making him squint as his hair ruffled. Rushing to get himself in the air, the brunet forcefully pushed off the ground and followed Levi into the shadowy forest.
The maze of trees made it difficult to fly fast, the vegetation dense and chaotic with tangled vines dangling from the canopy. There was enough light for Eren to see where he was going, but for the most part he stayed behind Levi and copied his movements, using him as a guide to avoid any obstacles. The alpha flew skilfully, quick and agile as his wings cut through the air like darkened blades.
The chirping grew louder as they carried on, until Eren could tell exactly where it was coming from.
They went a little further before Levi landed on a low branch, deftly silent, crouching to perch on the edge of it. Eren took great care as he touched down with delicate feet, tip-toing along the bark to settle beside him. Looking around, Eren discovered that most of his vision was obstructed by leaves. They sprouted from the branch they were on as well as the one above, dark green and curling to conceal them. The cricket hadn’t heard them. It continued to sing in ignorance.
Levi was still, the only movement being his eyes as they methodically scanned the area. The spots on his wings had faded away, resulting in a featureless black that could easily go unseen. Metallic eyes stopped suddenly, narrow and unblinking, staring into the forest with razor-sharp focus.
It was unsettling. The way Levi could disappear in the shadows, undetectable, his gaze cold and predatory. Eren had no idea what he was capable of. For a moment, he wondered if Levi had been staring at him the same way when they first met.
Eren dug his fingers into the bark as he mentally scolded himself. Levi’s eyes were warm whenever they looked at him, and that was all that mattered. He wasn’t afraid. He was just unused to this behaviour.
Blinking away, Eren followed Levi’s gaze until he spotted a small but rapid movement on the ground. It was the back and forth of ridged wings, rubbing together to produce the repetitive chirping. Its reddish-brown colour matched the soil, perfectly round eyes shining with glee as it went about its business. Cute, Eren thought. He knew Levi only harmed them out of necessity, but he still felt bad for the oblivious little cricket. A bite from those fangs would probably be quite painful.
Levi began his approach. Slinking out of the tree, he used his wings to slow his fall and landed on the branch below them without making a sound. Stayed in the cover of foliage, Levi slowly edging along the bark as he closed the distance.
It seemed like he was using an ambush technique. Cats were known to hunt like this, using stealth to get as close as possible before launching a surprise attack, pouncing on their prey before it has a chance to react. Even though Eren didn’t eat bugs himself, he was thoroughly impressed by Levi’s skill. It was proof of how capable the alpha was, both strong and intelligent.
Eren found it thrilling to watch. This was something no one was supposed to see, an act that would normally be terrifying, and his body was coiled with suspense even with the knowledge of his own safety. The cricket continued its song, unaware that death was silently stalking it from the shadows, unseen and creeping ever closer.
It wouldn’t be so cheerful if it knew what was coming for it.
When Eren’s attention shifted away from the insect, he realised he’d lost sight of Levi. He was no longer on the lower branch. Wide turquoise eyes searched the forest floor for any trace of him, but all Eren could see were small plants and fallen leaves.
Levi must be down there somewhere.
Not wanting to miss anything, Eren started to shimmy along the branch, his eyes flicking from plant to plant as he tried to find the elusive alpha. One of his wings snagged on a twig.
Eren froze on the spot, cringing at the rustle of leaves it caused. The cricket fell silent but did not move. It stood motionless, the alert posture suggesting it was listening carefully, tense and waiting. Only a second passed before Levi shot out from behind a fern, little more than a dark blur as he leapt towards it. Ready, the cricket moved just in time, jumping to the side and straight out from under him. Levi was left to smack against the empty ground, boots and hands digging up the dirt as he skidded to a halt.
It was so close that Eren swore Levi had touched it. The cricket sprung off a tree trunk and bounced into the forest with a speed he never knew they possessed, frantically fleeing into the vegetation.
Levi glanced up to give him an unimpressed look, dusting his hands off before he flew back to the branch.
“Sorry…” Eren said, eyes downcast with guilt as the alpha landed beside him.
“It’s fine.” Frowning at his boots, Levi scraped the soles on the tree bark to remove the dirt.
The brunet sighed in relief, but he was still embarrassed over his carelessness. It would be far easier for Levi to do these things on his own. He would’ve been successful if the cricket hadn’t been warned. “Do you want to find another one?” Eren watched Levi’s face, black eyelashes fanning pale cheeks as he continued cleaning his boots. “I promise to sit still this time.”
“Or,” Levi began, eyes flashing with mischief as he looked up from the branch. “I could hunt you instead.”
“What?” Eren squeaked, the reaction putting a smirk on Levi’s face. “I don’t think-”
“I’ll give you a head start.” Black wings flapped before spreading out, the appendages wide and intimidating. “Ready?”
Eren hesitated, unsure, until a flick from Levi’s wings spurred him into action. He spun around and took off in a random direction, flying fast but not exhaustingly so, not yet. The forest sped past him in a blur of green and brown, indistinguishable as he raced through the trees. Several seconds passed before he heard the distinct sound of a powerful wing-beat.
Levi was coming after him.
Emerald wings flapped with determination as he tried to come up with a plan. Levi was faster than him, more agile, but Eren still thought he stood a chance. Although he had no idea how he was supposed to know when he’d won. Levi hadn’t given any rules. Leaves rustled behind him, the proximity of the sound suggesting Levi was already hot on his tail. Eren didn’t dare look back. He flew faster, the wind almost deafening as it rushed past his ears.
Eren’s heart was pounding, both from exertion and the adrenaline of being chased, his senses hyperaware of the alpha closing in on him. It was impossible to out-fly him like this.
Levi let out a high warble, calling him, but Eren knew better than to fall for it.
In a split-second decision, he dived down towards a thick branch, intending to push off in another direction to gain some distance. When his feet hit the bark, Eren yelped as Levi smacked into it immediately after. He caught a glimpse of silver eyes, wild and glinting in the dusk-light, before Eren used his momentum to launch off the branch, feeling fingers rake against his arm as he narrowly avoided Levi’s grasp.
Back in the air, Eren panted as his wings started to tire. It was hard not to feel panicked as he fled, the situation rousing his fight-or-flight response even though he knew it wasn’t real. Levi was taking this seriously. Rustling vegetation directed him, his path curving to head away from the sounds of pursuit. His stamina was wearing thin, wings growing heavy, and Eren knew he wouldn’t keep it up for much longer.
The next sound came from his right side, loud and sudden as Levi flew through a clump of leaves and sped towards him, forcing Eren into a sharp turn as he tried to escape. He barely managed to get out of the way by rolling in the air and high-tailing it in yet another direction, muscles strained and burning. Shadows spread quickly as the sunlight died, the darkness of the forest presenting a new challenge for him while Levi would only benefit from it. Eren felt a wave of relief as the trees thinned out, a bluish-purple light leading him into the distance.
Eren soon flew out of the tree cover and into a spacious opening, the overgrown area covered in ferns and moss. It was the same place they were before… had Levi intentionally directed him back here?
An impact against his back pushed the air out of Eren’s lungs, more from surprise than force, before he fell out of the sky with a startled yelp. Blades of grass whipped at his skin as he rolled over them, a brief and awkward tumble. Before Eren knew what was happening, he found himself laying on his back with wings splayed beneath him, pinned to the ground by a firm hand on his shoulder.
“I caught you.”
“Yeah,” Eren said breathlessly, his eyes focusing on the figure hovering over him.
“Relax, Eren.” Black wings fanned out to cover the indigo sky and waking stars. Levi’s eyespots glowed brightly, drowning them both in crimson light. “It’s only a game.”
Eren remained silent for a moment, catching his breath as Levi did the same, their intakes deep and rugged. Swallowing past his dry throat, he took a proper look at the alpha. Levi’s hair was messed up from their chase, wild and tousled, dilated pupils reducing his irises to thin rings of silver. “Is it?”
Levi’s eyes narrowed slightly, offering no response as he stared down at the omega. Lustrous emerald wings reflected his own light right back at him, the delicate appendages highlighted the colour of autumn leaves beneath his glow.
It felt intense to have Levi over him. A primal part of Eren’s mind buzzed with excitement, his dynamic approving of being pinned down by a fit alpha. Levi’s matching satisfaction was clear from how his eyes were locked on to him, heated and wanting, his scent taking on a subtle sweetness that only drew him in further. Eren succumbed to the pull of his instincts, slowly turning his head to bare his neck in submission. Levi had caught him.
Although he’d been expecting it, Eren still flinched as Levi’s nose brushed against his neck, sniffing rapidly before exhaling against his skin.
Levi swallowed before doing another pass over, his breaths heavy from the honeyed scent Eren was giving off. “You smell so good...”
Eren closed his eyes as lips trailed along his neck, shivering when he felt the tip of Levi’s tongue flick over his scent gland. His muscles flinched, the experimental touch sending a small jolt through his body. The next lick didn’t elicit such an intense reaction. It still felt incredible, but the sensation no longer surprised him.
Levi continued to lap at him, repetitively dragging his tongue over slick skin. The oils from Eren’s scent gland were sweet and fruity and laced with pheromones, the effect of it prompting Levi to take the patch of skin into his mouth for a better taste.
Eren couldn’t stop himself from whining in approval. Levi’s mouth was hot and wet on him, tongue firm as it massaged his sensitive skin. The feel of it made Eren’s wings twitch around in the grass. A growl started up in Levi’s throat, harsh with dominance, and Eren’s breath hitched when he felt two sharp points graze over him.
Levi released the tempting skin, his growl a low rumble as his mouth ghosted over Eren’s jaw and flushed cheek. Once the omega turned his head back, Levi firmly pressed their lips together. Eren melted into it, eagerly returning the kiss and letting out a muffled chirp of approval. Levi was quick to start coaxing Eren’s mouth open, insistently swiping the tip of his tongue between soft lips. He was desperate to find out if the omega tasted just as good on the inside.
Taking the hint, Eren parted his lips and was a little surprised when Levi’s tongue slid past them. It was wet and slippery, hot, tasting strongly of Levi but also himself, moving around as it clumsily explored the inside of his mouth. Eren followed suit by prodding at Levi’s tongue with his own, awkwardly at first, until they fell into a rhythmic massaging motion. Their lips became wet as they slid together, and Levi gradually lowered down to lay on top of him.
In need of a break, Eren broke the kiss by turning his head slightly. It drew a raspy and confused coo from Levi. He seemed completely lost without a mouth to latch on to, panting as his lips aimlessly trailed along Eren’s jaw.
Opening his eyes, Eren found that he’d been caged in by black wings. They were bending forward to conceal him, the eyespot on either side appearing brighter now that night had fallen. Eren reached for the wing on his left, gingerly stroking the glossy eyespot with his fingertips. The surface was a bit greasier than he remembered. The appendage twitched under his touch, and Eren was momentarily captivated by it. Levi was a literal light in the darkness.
Eren leaned up, head tilting as he buried his face in Levi’s neck. Eren mouthed over his scent gland, feeling Levi’s pulse race against his lips, and eventually gained the confidence to swipe his tongue over it. The taste had somehow become even more enticing. The spiced wine was bitter-sweet, strong and heady with citrus undertones. Eren mewled happily as he started to lick and suck at the accumulation of delicious oils, the mixture of pheromones making his head spin and his blood quicken.
Levi’s neck was just as sensitive, a soft groan falling from his lips as the omega’s tongue caressed his skin. It was bliss, both the pleasure itself and the indication of Eren wanting more from him, the omega’s sweet little sounds further fuelling his desire. Levi pressed closer as his body started to move with a will of its own.
Eren let go, laying back in the grass as Levi rocked into him. He blushed hotly as a hardness started rubbing against his upper thigh. Levi growled deep in his throat as he took Eren’s mouth again, his tongue pushing inside with far less decorum. His breaths were hot against Eren’s face, fast and heavy from arousal.
It was forceful, desperate, and Eren was enjoying it until a sudden pain in his bottom lip had him jerking away. “Ow!”
“Arg, what the-” Eren raised a hand to touch his lip, the sting morphing into a burning sensation as the taste of metal spread through his mouth. He stared up at the alpha with wide eyes. “You bit me?”
“It wasn’t intentional.” Levi sat back on his knees to give Eren some space, wings drooping with remorse as he mentally kicking himself to the moon and back. Silver eyes flicked over Eren’s face, a thin line of red visible between his lips. “Are you okay?”
“I think so,” Eren mumbled as he felt around to assess the damage. It was a shallow cut on the inside of his lip, more of a scratch than a bite, and the pain was already subsiding. “It’s not that bad.”
“Sorry.” Levi leaned down again, relieved and cooing softly when the omega didn’t turn away like he’d feared. Instead, Eren simply giggled as Levi used his tongue to wipe away the tiny smear of blood, gentle as not to hurt him further. “I’ll be more careful next time.”
“You’re not venomous, are you?”
Moving back, Levi quirked an eyebrow. “What do you think?”
Eren sat up with him, hair dishevelled from being on the ground, and squinted at Levi through the low light. “You look like you could be.”
Levi chuckled at that, short and breathy. Perhaps that was what Carla thought when she first saw him. An interesting idea, but he didn’t find it offensive. He was designed to scare things away.
Tanned fingers pulled at the grass, plucking a few long strands before tossing them away. Eren was starting to feel more relaxed, heart slowing to a normal pace, but he kept the throbbing in his lip a secret. Levi already felt bad enough about the mistake. Eren thought it was worth it, though. Kissing Levi like that was one of the most enjoyable things he’d ever done. It made him feel alive, hotter than any amount of flying could, and he couldn’t help wanting more of it. What else could they do together? Eren was excited to find out.
Turquoise eyes went back to Levi, who was sitting cross-legged as he stared up at the crescent moon. Eren used his knees to shuffle closer, settling next to Levi as he watched his wings flap idly, a slow and gentle movement. “What makes them glow?” Eren asked, one of Levi’s wings twitching as poked the red oval with his finger. “Didn’t you say you can control it?”
“Sometimes,” Levi replied with a hint of uncertainty, his eyes falling from the sky to look back at his own wing. “They glow when our bodies get excited.”
Eren gently stroked the luminous spot with his fingertips, his hand highlighted in the darkness. “Excited?”
“It happens when we’re threatened or scared, angry… excited. Anything that makes your heart beat faster, I guess.” Levi glanced away, averting his eyes as he cleared his throat. “It’s probably because of the increased blood flow. I can usually turn them off if I focus on keeping myself calm, and the same principle applies to turning them on.”
“Wow,” Eren whispered. He was curious about the mechanics, the structure or substance that enabled them to glow in the first place, but he supposed Levi couldn’t know everything. Nevertheless, Eren was pleased to confirm it could be a positive sign. “But why do yours glow so often? Farlan’s are usually off.”
“Uh…” Levi’s wings twitched behind him. “They’re also to help attract a mate. Mine aren’t usually this active… they’re glowing because of you.”
“Oh,” Eren said, his brain finally making the connection.
The eyespots were a courtship display. It was a way for night fairies to show off, making themselves more visible while trying to attract a mate with vibrant colours. Levi has always glowed a lot… which meant he’d been trying to court Eren from the moment they met, long before Levi even realised he was doing it. Is that why Levi’s wings moved around so much? He was subconsciously drawing attention to them? Eren was amazed by the new information, his fingers still tracing the crimson oval on Levi’s wing. They were doing a pretty good job of captivating him.
The brunet stroked the glossy surface once more before he pulled his hand away. Rubbing the pads of his fingers together, he felt the small amount of residue from Levi’s eyespot. It was thin and slippery, a subtle sheen on his skin, the texture somewhere between oil and wax. Eren resisted the urge to taste it. He had no idea what the substance was, and Levi might think he was weird for doing it. Eren dragged his hand down his front, wiping it on his shirt instead.
With his hand clean, Eren rested his head on Levi’s shoulder and continued playing with his wing. The black body of it was barely visible, its shape only defined by the inky-blue sky peeking over the top of it. His fingers flittered over it, soft like velour, the heat it gave off a welcomed change from the cool night air. The appendage pushed back against his hand as if it was seeking his touch.
Levi had his eyes closed, still breathing heavily despite his neutral expression. Eren would’ve thought he’d fallen asleep if it wasn’t for the fidgeting of his wings, the small movements clearly conscious and intentional, and the beginnings of a quite purr vibrating in his chest.
As Levi seemed to be enjoying the attention, Eren carried on, although his hand mostly kept to the black areas. Whatever the eyespots were secreting must be there for a reason; he wouldn’t want to damage them by removing too much of it.
Eren eventually stumbled upon the cut on the edge Levi’s wing. His index finger traced the V-shaped injury, the sides rough and bumpy with scar tissue, his touch gentle even though it was long healed. Intrigued, Eren couldn’t resist sticking his finger through the split edges. He could feel how thick the inside of Levi’s wing was, which was admittedly a bit strange. It was thicker than he imagined, which likely contributed to their impressive strength.
“Why do you keep touching me there?”
Halting his movement, Eren turned to find sharp gunmetal eyes staring straight at him. “You don’t like it?” He asked, unsure of what Levi meant. He didn’t think he touched it very often, only once as far as he could remember.
“It’s not that. Don’t you…” Levi trailed off, eyebrows creasing with reluctance. His gaze dropped down to the grass, staring vacantly as he spoke in a quiet voice. “Do you mind that it’s damaged?”
“What?” Eren laughed out of confusion, flat and awkward, not understanding why Levi would ask something like that. His heart sunk as they fell into a heavy silence.
Eren immediately regretted his careless response, realising too late that it’d been a serious question. Levi must be self-conscious of it. That explained why he’d suddenly pulled away and become distant when Eren first paid attention to it. The cut was quite close to one of his eyespots… did Levi think he’d be rejected because of it? For having a scar next to his courtship display? Eren’s stomach rolled at the thought.
“I, um…” Eren swallowed nervously, praying he hadn’t upset Levi with his terrible reaction. “I don’t know what it’s from… but it’s a part of your life, a part of you, so there’s nothing wrong with it.” His attention shifted to Levi’s wing, a collection of stars twinkling through the wedge of missing flesh. “It’s actually kinda cool.”
Silver eyes raised to stare at him, searching for deception, before Levi turned away with a thoughtful hum. “I like how your wings look at night.”
“Really?” Eren asked. He was still concerned, but Levi was obviously trying to steer the conversation away from himself. Twisting around, Eren glanced back at his own wings. The appendages were hidden in the dark, only the edges visible to him as they shimmered in the moonlight.
“I can see the contrast better. Sunlight washes it out sometimes,” Levi said, reaching out to glide his hand over sheer emerald, fingers feather-light as they followed the faint spiralling pattern on the surface. Eren’s wings weren’t delicate enough to warrant such a gentle touch, but he couldn’t bring himself to use any more force. It felt as though he was touching something precious, a treasure that deserved all the care in the world.
Eren’s wings twitched, tickled by the soft touch. Sighing, he leaned forward to rest his chin on Levi’s shoulder, eyes drifting shut as the alpha continued. The petting was pleasurable in a unique way, soothing and affectionate. It was also good for building trust. They were the most vulnerable part of a fairy besides the throat, especially for an omega whose wings were fragile and easily damaged.
The brunet relaxed along with Levi’s scent, melting into his firm cushion as the it became lighter and less sweet. Tilting his head, Eren slumped down to nuzzled into hollow of Levi’s neck, breathing deeply as he took in the calming fragrance.
Eren was roused by a soft chirp in his ear, high and questioning, then grumbled as a chin started to nudge at his face. “Hm?”
“We should go back. You’ll be too tired to fly soon,” Levi said, shifting as he coaxed the omega off his shoulder.
“Yeah, okay…” Eren mumbled groggily, not having the strength to argue. He was exhausted from all the exercise he’d done today, although their game of chase was mostly to blame. Getting to his feet, Eren stretched languidly as a yawn escaped him. It took a shameful amount of effort to haul himself into the air, while Levi followed with an energetic take off.
The journey back was long and sluggish. Beams of pale light peeked through the canopy, the moon glowing bright enough for Eren to navigate without guidance. The forest was peaceful, filled only with the songs of chirping insects and whispering leaves, foliage shaded by the cover of night. Eren hoped they’d be able to sleep outside sometime. Laying under the stars would be a wonderful experience, although he knew Levi would only agree if it was safely off the ground. Levi seemed to have difficulty flying at such a slow pace, evident by the way he kept overtaking him before falling back again.
Eren sighed with relief when a cluster of softly coloured lanterns came into view. The string of lights signalled that he was almost home. Levi immediately dropped down to a lower altitude, taking extra care to avoid the glowing boxes and their disorientating effect. It was funny to think a strong alpha could be deterred by something as simple as a few fairy-lights.
When they finally got back to the hollow, Eren made an unceremonious landing on the outside branch. It felt as though his wings were about to fall off. He put a hand on the carved wood as he peeked through the entrance, seeing no sign of anyone being there. Armin must still be with the commander. Eren was grateful, both for a place to sleep and the lack of obligatory conversation, although he was curious of what his friend was getting up to… hopefully he didn’t mind them staying another night.
While Eren knew he’d need to face his mother eventually, he was glad to put it off a while longer. Having some time to think may be enough to change Carla’s mindset, or at least help her realise that he wasn’t in any danger.
Wandering into the hollow, Eren’s muscles sung with joy as his eyes landed on the fluffy cotton nest. The perfect amount of lantern light snuck in through the entrance and window, dim enough to sleep while still allowing him to see where he was going. Turning on the indoor lantern wasn’t an option; its small size didn’t seem to reduce Levi’s aversion to it. The nest smelt more inviting than when they’d first moved in. Their combined scents were fresh on the soft fibres, even it if was still a little bit off.
When Eren glanced back to the entrance, he saw that Levi was still standing around on the branch outside. The reason became clear when he was joined by a second pair of dark wings, which was in turn followed by a third. The omega listened with alert ears, but he was unable to make out any words in the soft murmur of voices.
Levi’s face eventually appeared through the opening, metallic eyes shining subtly in the low light. “I’m going with Farlan. Not for long, but you shouldn’t wait up.”
Eren simply nodded, knowing it would be seen. He tried to ignore the unsettling crawl of his skin as Levi turned away and disappeared, the sight of him leaving making Eren’s stomach twist with anxiety. It didn’t matter, he was perfectly fine on his own. It didn’t matter at all… but Alpha left us. “No,” Eren argued as he reached up to rub a hand over his face. The physical exhaustion was clearly taking a toll on his thoughts.
“Did you say something?”
Alarmed by the voice, Eren dropped his hands as his head whipped towards its source. Murky green wings were lingering near the door, swaying slow as Isabel watched him with a curious expression. “Yeah, um… I was talking… to myself?” Eren laughed nervously, embarrassed to know he’d been heard.
Isabel replied with a giggle of her own, the corner of her lip pulling up as she strolled inside. “I talk to myself sometimes, too. Especially when Far isn’t around.”
“Oh,” Eren said, unsure how else to respond. It did make him feel less awkward, which had probably been her intention. “Why didn’t you go with them?”
“I’ve already eaten today.”
Hearing that made Eren feel even worse about his negative thoughts. He’d already preventing Levi from eating once today, unintentionally, but it still counted in his mind. The brunet let out a sigh as he walked the remaining distance to the welcoming mound of cotton, wings twitching thoughtfully as he sat down on the edge of it. Turquoise eyes flicked over to Isabel, her face expectant but unimposing. Figuring he could stay awake for a little longer, Eren invited her over with a head tilt.
Murky green wings flapped as Isabel rushed over to join him on the nest. She plopped down carelessly, the sudden impact causing the cotton to squish and scrunch beneath her while raising on the other end. “Huh…” Isabel’s eyebrows furrowed, her cheerful grin crumbling away. “What’s that smell?”
Eren tilted his head with a confused chirp. He couldn’t smell anything unusual, only the familiar scents wafting from the nest and the pile of banished bedding in the corner. “What do you mean?”
Isabel inhaled sharply, eyes darting around as she tested the air, before her narrow gaze landed on the brunet.
Eren squeaked when she suddenly nose-dived into his chest, his concern growing as Isabel snuffled along the front of his shirt. “What is it? What’s wrong?” The invasion of personal space had Eren wiggling away, but Isabel’s face followed him until he almost fell off the nest. Rapid sniffing sounds were starting to cause panic, and Eren feared it was the aftermath of his strenuous flying. “Do I smell bad?”
“No…” Isabel huffed loudly before pulling away, settling back down with a wonky smile on her face. “Don’t worry about it. There’s so many new scents around here, my nose is just being silly.”
“Right, um... okay,” Eren agreed as he tugged the wrinkles out of his shirt. That was bizarre, but he supposed it was possible to get overwhelmed by scents in a heavily populated area. Maybe he’d been laying on a weird-smelling plant. Eren absently spun his fingers in the thin strands of cotton as Isabel glanced around the hollow, his mind slow to decide on a conversation topic. “So, how long have you been with Farlan? I don’t actually know very much about you two.”
“You mean Levi doesn’t talk about us? How rude,” Isabel chimed, a playful smirk pulling at her lips. “This will be our third Summer together.”
The brunet’s eyebrows raised. He’d been expecting a longer time. It was hard to tell with fairies, youthfulness was retained until quite a high age, but he was sure they were all older than himself. “What about Levi?” Eren didn’t know much about the solitary lifestyle, but he even thought it was unusual for a bonded pair to share their territory with another alpha. “Are you related to him?” He asked, recalling Raymund’s speculation of familial groups.
“I call him my brother, but that’s only because he acts like one.” Isabel chuckled as she pushed back a strand of fiery red hair. Noticing the spark of curiosity in turquoise eyes, she paused to think before continuing in a more serious tone. “Levi and Farlan were already together when I met them. They were just roaming around, looking for place to call home… they happened to like the area I was living in, and a lone omega wasn’t ‘bout to chase them off.” Forest green eyes went back to the wall, unfocused and wistful. “I was terrified at first. One alpha is trouble enough, it was just my luck that I’d run into a pair of them.”
Of course, their situation would probably only work if the alphas were friends beforehand. Eren didn’t blame her for being scared, meeting them separately had been enough to make him tremble… although that was mainly because they’d both ambushed him from out of nowhere. “What happened next?”
“Nothing,” Isabel said with a shrug. “I kept my distance, they did too… but at some point Farlan started showing up on his own. He’d perch in the same tree every night to sing like an idiot and cause a scene, add to the pile of junk he was building on my doorstep. I don’t know where Levi was at the time. He must’ve known better than to hang around while Farlan was acting like that.” Her eyes flicked back to Eren, smiling fondly. “Levi came back after we’d nested, and the three of us have been a together ever since.”
“That’s a nice story...” Eren wondered why Levi and Farlan were all by themselves, perhaps it was normal for night-fairies to go out on their own in search of a new territory. “I’ve known most of my friends since we were young, but only Armin is like a brother to me.”
“You and Levi seem to get along pretty well. It’s great… maybe you’ll end up joining our family one day.”
A warm blush spread over Eren’s face. Finding a mate was the whole point of courting, but he tried not to let his thoughts get too far ahead of reality. It didn’t stop the loud thumping in his chest, nor the fidgeting of his hands as the idea settled in his mind. “Maybe…”
“Right, I’ll get out of your hair now.” Isabel sprung off the nest, her feet landing on the floor with a clack. “Sorry if I kept you up, it’s been awhile since we got a chance to talk without an alpha butting in.”
“No, it’s alright,” Eren said quickly. “I like talking to you.”
“Me too.” Isabel smiled, wide and bright, swampy wings melding into the darkness as she headed towards the exit. Once on the branch, she leaped off the edge with arms spread wide, swooping down as her figure vanished in the night.
Eren fell backwards and sunk into the cushy cotton. He turned his head, eyes fluttering shut as focused on his alpha’s scent. It was warm and embracing, and Eren barely managed to pull his legs into the nest before drifting into a deep sleep.
Damn it, Levi. You've been moth-blocking yourself since chapter 3!!
Fun fact: this is now the longer thing I've ever written.