There are a lot of things that needs to be done with it's Christmas and Winter. Today, we'll follow the troublemakers as they receive their punishment. Can you guess who it is?
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«I do not own any of the following pictures, music, characters or the original universe. Nor do I own the Christmas Calendar or its content. I only own this Christmas story and the mixing idea.»
For practical purposes, Hange Zoë will be referred to with female pronouns. The character's gender has not been confirmed by the creator, so there is still a mystery about what is the truth of it. However, because it is hard to write around the pronouns, I chose the female gender because this is what they used for the English dub of the Anime. I hope that you all understand my reasoning for this, and that if you have another opinion on the gender, you can still replace the pronouns while reading.
The snow had fallen heavily since yesterday, and as they woke up, they found a thick layer on the ground. On any other day, this would have brought nothing but sighs, but today was different. Today was the day they all had their day off - well, except two people:
"It's not fair." Connie complained as he pushed with everything that he had to move the snow blocking the passage from the house to the stables. "Just because we ate a little snack."
"I know," Sasha pushed her weight into Connie's back, and the snow slowly moved.
Sasha had been looking forward to returning to this place. Sure, it had been a good thing to get away for a little while and to be able to go back to see the walls and the city, but she had soon began to miss all of her friends. The city had never been for her. She had grown up far away from the nearest town and spent much of her life hunting down animals for dinner. This whole city thing was nothing like that. There were too many people and not enough animals. Not that she hated it, but it was almost as if the presence of so many around her squeezed all the juice out of her. So, when she had been told that they would leave that morning, she had felt relieved.
There was one catch with the return, though. She didn't know until the evening before, but Rico sat down with her and told her the news. She would not return to the scouts, but instead head to back to the garrison and make sure to share what she had learned of the time she had spent with the scouts. Instead, someone else was to travel back in her stead, and veteran scout would lead them as a guide. These news had been sad to hear - Sasha had grown fond of the white haired woman. However, the sight that met her the next day had been the nail to her coffin.
"Cadet Blouse… I see you still hold a fondness of potatoes"
"K-Keith! Instructor Keith Shadis!"
The travel would have been an utter nightmare if it hadn't been for Annie. Sasha had never gotten to know the blond girl well, and the little she got, wasn't promising a heartwarming friendship. Still, in this situation, Annie was like a safe haven - something familiar and safe.
Pushing yet another portion of snow off the path, Sasha let out a sigh. To think that she would have to spend her first whole day back with her friends removing the snow… Well, at least she was not alone, and she couldn't really complain about the company either.
Although they had had their ups and downs throughout the years, Sasha had grown to consider Connie her best friend. The tiny, monkey of a boy had always been able to make her laugh.
It was strange, she had never been able to get along with someone to that degree before. Well, she thought to herself, it was probably something in what they said about relationships growing when they were facing dangers and death. Death. There had been so much death in the last couple of years. Living in the village, they had had accidents once in awhile that had ended up with the deaths of a few villagers, but this, it was a totally different thing. In the village the death was caused by animals winning the fight - the fight that was self defense. But this… There was no reasons for the Titan - human war. It was a mystery in itself, and it was the meaningless fight and the many lives that were lost that burdened the huntress the most.
Still, although the recent years had been horrible for the human race, something good had come out of it. She had been able to see more of the world, and she had been able to meet new friends. Connie, Krista, Ymir - all of them. It had been the first time Sasha had created such strong bonds. However, if those bonds were to break, if she was to lose any of them… It would be worse than before, she knew that. When the mist of the battle of Trost district had cleared up, and they had found what remained of the 104th Training Corps, it had been all they could do to keep together and cry for their losses.
Thomas, Hannah and Franz, Samuel, Nac, Mylius, Tom, Mina Carolina and Marco...
"Sasha, you alright?""
Without her noticing it, tears had appeared in her eyes.
"Oh, yeah." She hurried to wipe them away. Turning to look at their work achievement, she noticed something. "Look at the snow! There's so much of it!"
And there was. The snow had kept coming down as they removed it, and it now covered the paths they had created with a thin layer of frost .
"Oh, man." Connie hit his forehead. "Don't tell me we have to do it all over again?"
"What?" Sasha put a smile on her face. "And I thought you were good at this." The smile grew more genuine, and a wickedness grew into it. "What was it that you called yourself? The Overly Attentive Scrubbing and Sweeping Master?"
"Ey!" Connie blushed. "How about you - you said you were the Master of all Brooms and Buckets."
"Only because I didn't want to shame you to death."
Before she could react, something white hit her in the face.
"Haha, I got you there, you big mouth-" Connie's laugh ended abruptly by a snowball blocking his mouth.
"Big mouth, did you just say that- Eyh!" Pulling her hat down over her ears, Sasha chased after Connie. It was an impossible task though. The monkey of a boy was far too light on his feet, and before she could even reach the corner of the tower, he was all the way over at the next one.
"Can't catch me!"
Poorly chosen words came out of Connie's mouth, and soon they were running around in circles.
Without warning, Connie stopped and, being too close, Sasha crashed into him.
Irritated, Sasha gave her friend a small push."What?"
"How about we make an igloo?"
Sasha's eyes lit up. "Yes!"
The two of them got to work. Forming the snow into huge snowballs, they discovered it was perfect for igloo making, and the two troublemakers felt more encouraged than ever; continuing at an even quicker pace.
As they finished up, they went inside, hungry after the tiring work, finding Erwin unfolding a scrap of paper:
The eleventh of December: Balthazar
… many people are terribly frightened
when they see one of the angels of the Lord …
Five sheep, two shepherds, two angels, one king of Orient, and a little girl from Norway were speeding up the Valley of the Rhine 1199 years after Jesus was born. They could just glimpse a church tower on the other side of the river. Ephiriel told them it was Mainz Cathedral.
'We have to cross the river,' said Joshua. 'It's a pity, because we shall have to frighten another poor ferryman and explain that we're pilgrims on our way to the Holy Land.'
'We shall have to try to do it gently,' said Ephiriel.
'I can see a boat down there,' exclaimed Impuriel.
He ﬂew high in the air, beating his short wings in the direction of the boat, with the rest of the procession after him, and started talking to a man who was sitting on the river bank.
'Can you row us across? We're going all the way to Bethlehem, and we don't have much time if we're to get there before Jesus is born. We're on a godly errand, you see, so we're not just anybody.'
Ephiriel hurried after him. When he had caught up with Impuriel he nodded apologetically at the ferryman and said to Impuriel, 'How many times do I have to remind you that ﬁrst of all you must say, "Fear not"?'
But the ferryman, who was unusually and splendidly dressed in a long red cloak, was not scared by the cherub. He turned to Ephiriel and said, 'My name is Balthazar, Second Wise Man and King of Sheba. I'm going the same way as you.'
'Then you are one of us,' said Ephiriel.
All the same, he had to give Impuriel a little scolding.
'This time things fortunately turned out well. But you must always start by saying, "Fear not". Don't you realise that many people are terribly frightened when they see one of the angels of the Lord, at any rate when we beat our wings.'
'Sorry!' said Impuriel.
'All right, all right,' replied Ephiriel.
'But isn't it odd that they should be so frightened just because they've seen an angel?' argued Impuriel. 'I've never so much as harmed a cat. In fact, I couldn't count all the times I've helped a poor cat down from a tall tree. Of course the cats ought to learn once and for all not to climb too high up in the trees, but when we do come and help them, they're not in the slightest bit frightened. It's always humans who are so terribly nervous.'
The two Wise Men had embraced each other.
'It's been a very long time,' said the one .
'And it was a very, very long way from the Rhine,' answered the other.
'But it's very, very, very pleasant to see you again.'
They had their arms round each other, so it was not easy to say who had said what. But now the whole of the pilgrims' procession went on board the boat. The Kings of Orient each took an oar and rowed across the river, which was almost as wide as a stretch of ocean.
On the other side Ephiriel pointed up at the beautiful cathedral. It seemed a little dumpy and hadn't such a tall tower as many of the other churches they had passed, but it was much older.
'The year is 1 186 after Christ. Work on this cathedral began more than two hundred years ago. At that time almost a thousand years had passed since the one seed was sown in the earth so that a ﬁeld of churches and cathedrals should grow over the whole world.'
'A whole ﬁeld of churches!' repeated Impuriel. 'It would be fun to work out how many kilos of stone and timber have been used to celebrate Jesus's birth, not to mention how many cakes have been baked or how many parcels have been packed. Christmas is the world's biggest birthday party, for everybody in the Whole world is invited to join in. That's why the party has lasted for so many years.'
Joshua struck the ground with his crook.
'To Bethlehem! To Bethlehem!'
The pilgrims hurried along the west bank of the Rhine. It was early in the morning, so that very few people would be scared when, in the course of a short second or two, they saw ﬁve sheep, two shepherds, two Kings of Orient, two angels of the Lord, and a little girl dressed in clothes very different from those that were usual in the Middle Ages.
When they tumbled into the town of Worms in the year of Our Lord 1162, they met a rider on horseback — a soldier who had been out on night duty, perhaps. The angel Impuriel ﬂew over to the man, buzzed round him like a excited bumble bee, and repeated 'Fear not! Fear not! Fear not!'
The poor man was extremely scared. He spurred on his horse and gaIIoped away round some low buildings. He didn't even have time to say 'Alleluia' or 'God be praised'.
'You only need to say it once,' Ephiriel chided Impuriel, 'but you must say it in a gentle, soft, heavenly voice. "Fe-ear no-ot!" you must say. It's a good idea to keep your arms down too, to show you're not carrying a weapon.'
Balthazar the Wise Man pointed up at a cathedral with six towers.
'Everywhere and at all times people have stretched their arms out to God,' he said. 'The church towers point up to heaven too, but they last much longer.'
The shepherds bent their heads respectfully at these wise words, and Elisabet felt she had to repeat them to herself before she was quite certain what he meant.
Joshua said, 'To Bethlehem! To Bethlehem!'
In the city of Basle on the southern bank of the Rhine they stopped in front of another big cathedral.
'The time tells us that 1119 years have passed since the Christ-child was born,' announced Ephiriel. 'This cathedral with ﬁve naves has just celebrated its centenary. But for hundreds of years Basle has been an important crossroads for travellers who have journeyed through the Alps between Italy and Northern Europe. We are going to follow the same route over the St Bernard Pass.'
'To Bethlehem!' said Joshua the shepherd, striking his crook on the ground. 'To Bethlehem!'
Whereupon they set off upwards through the Swiss mountains.
Folding the piece of paper, Armin had a strange smile on his face. What was written about freight, was true in more than one way. It got him thinking. How had the human first reacted to the existence of Titans? He pondered this, however, he was not allowed to linger in these thoughts for long.
"WOW!" Connie's outburst made many turn their head. "That was the best thing I've ever tasted!"
A few of the others headed towards the source of the sound, and curious, Armin did too.
Standing in front of the stove, Connie was close to hovering, if his ecstatic face was a hint. His eyes were rolled back in his head, and there was a heavenly grin on his lips. Other than that, the energetic boy seemed just as usual. The only thing was what he was holding in his hands.
"What's that?" Armin sniffed, trying to get a good take on the scent, but, although there was something about it that he recognized, it wasn't something he could name.
"Hot chocolate," Petra smiled at him. "Seems the Commander didn't hold back when ordering new supplies."
"You mean..." Armin gazed into the large kettle that was on the stove.
She nodded. "Yes, the chocolate was one of the things that the Commander added to the list. The barley for Mike as well. Who knows, maybe even more?"
That surprised Armin. He couldn't claim to know the Commander well, but from what he had learned, the Commander was a man among the wisest and most tactical leaders of the whole army. He was one that wasn't afraid of challenging the system if he meant that it would lead to something better. He'd seen it personally back in the courtroom. Had it been any other officer, Eren would undoubtedly have been taken by the military police and killed after being subjected to countless experiments. But, because the Commander Erwin Smith chose to stand up and play a dangerous game, Eren was able to walk away with only a bruised body.
The Commander was known for things like that. He bent and stretched the rules until there were close to nothing left to resemble what had once been the rule. But this, the strange order of importing luxurious - and straight up luxuriant goods - that was something that didn't fit into the story. What would the leaders say when they found out about it - or the people themselves? That was maybe even worse; having their money go to the enjoyment of the soldiers instead of life-important supplies.
Still, what was done was done, so, shaking these troubling thoughts out of his head, he got in line to receive his own cup of brown liquid.
"Here," Petra handled him the cup. "It's still pretty warm, so it might be better to wait a minute or two."
Armin nodded, and then took place at the table beside his friends. They all waited - all except Eren that had been a bit too eager and had burned his tongue. At last the liquid seemed of a good temperature, and Armin carefully put the cup to his mouth and drank.
It was amazing. Never before had he tasted anything like this.
He was about to take another sip, but as he raised the cup, his eyes caught onto something happening outside. Was that Bertolt and Reiner? What were they doing? Looking through the window, he saw a sudden push from Bertols, and then, before he could blink, Reiner had thrown his tall friend over his shoulder and down in the snow.
"Are they fighting?"
Eren, sitting next to him blinked before sending a carefree look at the two. "Ah, yeah. But I wouldn't take it too seriously."
"Yeah, it looks like a little thing. Anyway," he took another sip. "I just saw them with Annie."
"With Annie?" Armin asked.
"Yeah, they walked up to her, and then they went into the igloo. Seems like they're out now though."
Had Annie gone with them into the igloo? Not that it was anything wrong with them doing that, but Armin just found it strange that the asocial Annie suddenly seemed to have such a close bond with Reiner Braun and Bertolt Hoover. Also, Eren had said that they had went inside together, however, right now he could only see the boys. What about Annie? Could she still be inside of the igloo?
Still in thought, Armin got up from the bench and over to Petra.
"Can I have another cup? I want to bring some for Annie."
"Thanks." Armin accepted the cup, and then moved as carefully as he could towards the door - doing his best not to spill any of the delicious drink. The path, although plowed, was still a bit slippery, and it took Armin more effort than he had thought to get over to the iglo. Stopping in front of it, he bent halfway down, calling into it: "Annie?"
At first there was no answer, but when he tried again, Annie called back.
Carefully, Armin ducked and crawled through the opening - cups first.
"Here," he told Annie as he reached the inside. "For you."
Annie raised a brow, but accepted the cup offered to her. "What is it?"
"It's something called warm chocolate." Armin explained. "Have you heard of it?"
"Yeah..." Annie muttered, taking suspicious sniffs at the cup. "There was talk about it within wall Sheena." Finally she turned to look at Armin. "How did you get it?"
"Commander Erwin put it on the lists as a special item for Rico to buy. Didn't you know? I mean, you were in the sleigh."
Annie shook her head. "No, I just joined at the last moment."
Armin nodded unsure. "Why, though?" He finally asked. "Why did you come with them? I know we didn't talk much when we were training to be soldiers together, but I can say that I have heard you say many times that you wanted to be a top student so that you would be able to get inside the walls and be able to live there without having to fight the Titans."
"It might not be my place to ask you this, but I've been wondering about it ever since I heard about you coming here."
Annie stayed quiet, but then, just as Armin had given up hope for an answer, she took a sip and begun to talk.
"It wasn't like I volunteered to come here. I never would have done anything like that. However, the girl I share a room with, she told me that there was a higher up that had just returned from a mission with the scouts."
"And she convinced you?"
"Not exactly. She didn't say much, but when I said I was in the same group as you, she opened up a bit." Annie took a sip, and Armin could swear that he saw the hints of a smile.
"Did you miss us?" he teased.
"..." Annie froze, and for a moment Armin thought he'd upset her, but then she looked back down at her drink. "Not really..."
Well, Armin thought, that was a 'no' at least. Still, he could feel there was something beneath the surface here, something that she wasn't telling him.
"But Reiner and Bertolt…"
Her lips pursed together to a straight line.
"I didn't know you were friends. I mean, you didn't spend much time with them earlier, did you?"
"... I guess not."
A silence fell over them, and to Armin's surprise, it was Annie who chose to break it.
"It's the same with you."
"What?" Armin blinked. "What do you mean?"
"You and me."
"I assume you base your assumption on what you have seen. Yes, I have talked with them, but if you were looking at yourself in this moment, then that would IDENTIFY the two of us as friends."
Armin thought about what she had said. It was true what she said. Besides the two times he had seen the tall girl in conversations with Reiner and Bertolt, he had nothing else to base their friendship on.
"I see your point. "
Armin scratched the back of his head. "Still, I wouldn't mind considering you a friend."
The look Annie sent him sent shivers down his spine. He didn't know why, but there was something holding in her eye; almost like a conflict of colors clashing together. "Not that I expect you to feel the same way though," he hurried to add. "Everyone have their own definition of-" "I hope that you don't mind me thinking so."
She didn't return his declaration of friendship, but Armin didn't need her to. In truth, the fact that she hadn't denied any friendly bond between them, was more than enough for him. He knew that she wasn't a talkative person, and that he had never seen her acting like a friend around anyone. Could it be that she didn't have any friends? No, that wasn't possible, was it? Everyone had a friend - one way or another.
"Annie..." Armin hesitated. There was a chance that she wouldn't like the question, or rather that he wouldn't like the answer, but still… "Who… Who is your best friend?"
It had been wrong to ask, and Armin was about to say he was sorry and that he didn't need to know, that he took the question back, when:
"Hello? Anybody in there?"
Through the tunnel came a bush of blonde hair, followed by the face, bangs and head of Mike Zacharias.
"There you are, Armin." Mike greeted. "I've been looking all over for you."
"Oh?" Armin was puzzled. "Why?"
"Krista wants to hear today's paper story."
"But-" Armin began, but then it struck him. They had been many gathered to read the chapter today, but when he thought of it, he didn't remember seeing Krista among them. "Oh..."
Getting down on his knees to crawl out, Armin turned to Annie to explain himself, but before he could do so, Annie gave him a nod. Nodding back at her, Armin crawled outside.
He felt bad. From the very first day, Krista had been one of the few that had taken an interest in the calendar from the very first, and she had been there every day to listen to a new part of it. But not today… They had been so many gathered, that he had just assumed that they were all there. But Krista hadn't been, and he had forgotten to inform her. With a feeling of guilt, her hurried over to the house, and hurried into the kitchen to find the goddess.
"Oh, Armin. Hi."
The little, blonde girl was sitting by the fire; stretching her hands out in front of her to warm her fingers.
"I'm so sorry!" Armin bowed. "I thought you were there and-" No. That sounded even worse than just forgetting to tell her about it.
He was about to make it right, but Krista shook her head.
"It's okay. I understand. I know you didn't mean it."
Armin smiled at her. "Well, still, it was my fault, so I should make it right." Saying that, the two of them smiled, and then headed off to Armin's room to find the calendar.
Watching them, a small smile spread on Ymir's lips.
"You're not joining them?"
"Neh," She stretched and found a better position on the bench.
Reiner looked at her, wondering. Ever since he had first med the dark skinned girl, there had been few things to learn about her except the fact that she didn't care for much besides Krista. They had arrived at the training camps together, and had also spent most of their time together when there. Reiner couldn't help but feel jealous. To have to see his goddess being constantly being tracked down by that woman, never being able to talk to her alone for more than a few minutes at a time - and that was if he was lucky.
But now, Reiner could not understand Ymir's action - or rather; the lack thereof. Whenever someone else had grown close to Krista, Ymir had alway made sure to step in between and make it clear that Krista belonged to her. Not only had this been done when the men came to close for her liking, but even Sasha had been pulled off of Krista when Ymir felt it was too much. But not now. Now she was just sitting there while smiling, watching the little princess walk up the stairs to go to a boy's bedroom.
"You're really gonna let them go up there by themselves?" Reiner tried. "What if they end up alone on the bed?"
"They will be fine." Ymir snorted before turning her head to look out the windows and into the snow outside. "I trust Krista."
Question of today: Have you ever seen 'The Journey to the Christmas star'?
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