It’s becoming something of a routine now.
Hermann gets up first- if Lars has gone to sleep at all. The house is very quiet as he pads downstairs. The kitchen larder is full now. Lars either buys random things off the internet- which explains why they a box powdered durian fruit nearly topples off the top shelf when Hermann opens the door- or just gives Hermann a few hundred dollars and tells him to buy what he likes.
Which is why Hermann can ignore the powdered durian fruit and pull out a few eggs and half a loaf of bread, and dig through the fridge for eggs.
They’ve got a few cartons of leftover takeout, but Hermann feels like bacon and eggs.
He cracks the eggs, puts in the bacon, sets the toaster and plugs in the kettle. He’s got two cups of tea steaming, and toast browning and the eggs cheerfully bubbling away when Lars comes in.
He looks crumpled, but not too tired, which means he fell asleep at his desk rather than working through the night. He gives Hermann that familiar, vague smile- as though he isn’t sure who Hermann is, but is glad he’s here anyway.
“You don’t have to do that.” He gently takes over the eggs, which sets Hermann free to go and get the butter and pepper.
“I don’t mind.” And he doesn’t. He’s always had to cook for himself, and now, he actually gets thanked for it.
“The books says children shouldn’t cook,” He tries again, which a small smile.
Hermann shrugs, whoever wrote those books never met Lars. “I don’t have to.” He reminds him.
That seems to relieve Lars. “I should probably oversee you though.” He looks worriedly into the pan. “In case you- set yourself afire, perhaps?”
“You don’t know how to cook.” Hermann tries, because Lars really, really doesn’t. The last time he tried, he’d spent the entire time first digging through the larder, then online, trying to find some things he called ‘garam’ and ‘tansy’, which turned out to be ancient roman fish sauce and a semi poisonous plant.
He’d had no idea what to make of that, but had taken over the kitchen afterwards.
Lars sighs and slumps, looking reproachfully at the little pile of parenting books on the kitchen table. “I’m sure we’re doing something wrong.”
“I’m happy-” Hermann starts, then stops. It’s true. He is.
They go to Innsmouth a few times a week, and Lars goes to do research while Hermann plays with Newt and his friends. They’ve been fishing off the pier and swimming out to the reef. Even when they’re at home, Lars takes them out to funny old libraries from here to New York, and doesn’t mind the occasional sidetrack to a museum. This summer has been better than any he’s ever had before.
He wonders about calling Karla and Deitrich, and telling them Lars was better now- but what if seeing them turns Lars back into that- that person he was before? Hermann doesn’t want to risk it. It’s too good now.
“I really am.” he repeats, and Lars smiles.
It isn’t that vague, distant smile. It’s warm and happy, the sort of smile Hermann had never dared dream he would see from his father- even now.
He puts a hand on Hermann’s shoulder. “Then we can’t be going too wrong.” He agrees.