You know when everything is perfect and you're totally enjoying yourself doing something you love? Yeah? Well, get ready to have it crushed down XD
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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.
There had been many requests from the soldiers, and finally the Commander had given in. Ever since they had heard of the training area, the subject had been swirling around the house. At first he had hoped that it was the enthusiasm for the ground itself and the chance to get in some proper training, but that seemed to be wrong. No, what everyone was talking about was not the training ground, but what laid beside it.
"I can't believe that we're doing this!" Sasha squealed as she flew by Mikasa on the ice. "Awooo-ho-hooo."
Watching her roommate spin around on the ice , Mikasa had to smile. It was true that Sasha was the freest spirit among them, but seeing her out in the free like this was something else.
Having heard the news, of those wanting to being able to go out to spend some time at the little lake, Mikasa had begun wondering. All that she had ever wanted since she moved in with Eren and his family, was to be able to go away somewhere - away from all the fighting and all the Titans - to a place where they could just let down their hair and relax their shoulders. She knew that this wasn't it. This was not something that could be forever, but still, even for just a day, Mikasa wanted to try out the life that she had longed for for such a long time.
He looked up at her. "Yeah?"
"Do… Do you want to build a snowman?"
A few seconds it looked as if he might say no, but then… it was as he brushed off all the quarrels and conflicts, and turned into a child again.
"Yeah, sure." He got up from the log he had been sitting on and walked over to her. "But I'm making the body, okay?"
"Okay." Smiling from ear to ear, Mikasa followed her re-discovered brother over to a flatter area. "How big should we make it?"
Looking up at her, a childish grin spread across his face. "How big do you think we can make it?" Then, without any warning, he fell to his knees and began gathering the snow. He formed it to a snowball, and then began rolling it around in the snow. Mikasa watched as it grew. Only a little at a time, but soon the ball was the size of her head.
"What are you looking at?" An annoyed wrinkle appeared on Eren's forehead. "If you don't start soon, I might as well build this entire snowman by myself."
Mikasa had to fight to hold back the laughter. Even if she started now, she would probably be able to finish before him - and probably have a bigger snowball. "Let's race."
And so they did. Eren pushed with all his might - making the snowball jump rather than roll across the snow. His eyes had narrowed, and looking at them, Mikasa could see the stubbornness and the willpower in them. Even though it was not her favorite part of him, it was still good to see him at his forte. Smiling, she looked down at her own hands, and soon she was rolling her own snowball.
Reiner couldn't help but smile too when he saw them. He had been like that too, back when he was still young. Watching the two childhood friends play, he was brought back to when Bertolt and him had played and how Marcel had been there as well. The dark haired boy with an upturned nose had always been the slowest of them, and had always lost when running against his friends. However, Reiner blamed that on his constant need to bring his backpack with him. It had contained food and drinks, but instead of saving them, it had been the death of Marcel...
Letting out a sigh, he turned around and looked back on the ice. He hadn't wanted to try his luck on it. Chances were that it would hold him, but he didn't want to take the chance. Still, he had wanted to come along. They had lived in the new headquarters for almost two weeks, and other than taking a walk in the courtyard, they hadn't been outside. Reiner hated that. Hated the feeling of being held in a cage of stone and being unable to run or ride a horse.
"Why are you so mopey?" Jean sat down beside him. "I thought you'd be happy getting outside."
"Oh, I am." Reiner told him. "Just… This got me to remember playing as a child."
"Oh?" Jean asked, intrigued. Reiner didn't talk much of his background or his family. "So?"
"I had a friend. We were playing everyday - being real punks too. But now..."
Interested, Jean was about to make him continue on his story, but he saw the shiver in his muscular friend's eyes. "Oh-… Ehm.. How did… Did the Titans get him?"
Jean understood. Although he hadn't dealt with the loss of anyone close until Marco, Jean could imagine how it felt now. He had experienced death before, it wasn't that, but it hadn't been anyone close to him. If he had had anyone like Marco back then, and then lost him… Just the thought of it was too much. Not only did Eren and MIkasa still have each other, but they had Armin as well. Looking at them running around like kids even made him feel sad.
He sighed. Then, putting his hand in his pocket, he seemed to search for something. "Here. Armin gave me this as we left the house." He pulled out a piece of paper and handed it to Reiner. "I don't know why he did it, but I think you should read it. Just make sure Armin gets it back when we return."
With that, Jean got onto his feet and walked back onto the ice again.
Seeing the horse faced man leave, Reiner took a second to consider, but then he unfolded the paper and read:
The twelfth of December: Quirinius
… for there's no sense in believing what's right
unless it leads to helping people in distress …
The five sheep had crossed a ridge and begun to run down into a fertile agricultural district. Impuriel ﬂuttered round the little ﬂock, and after the sheep and the cherub came Jacob and Joshua, Caspar and Balthazar, Ephiriel and Elisabet.
They passed Lake Biel and then several more lakes. The biggest and most beautiful was Lake Geneva. It glittered so that it looked as if a piece of heaven had fallen down to earth. Only when Elisabet looked up and saw that there was no hole in the sky was she able to be quite sure that the picture of the sky in the big lake was only a reﬂection.
Again they ran along an old road alongside a river in a deep valley. Ephiriel told them that the river was called the Rhone and that all the water it carried with it from the Alps ran down ﬁrst into Lake Geneva, and later right down to the Mediterranean.
They ran across an old bridge to the other side of the river and stopped in front of a monastery called St Maurice. There were high Alps on every side with snow on their peaks.
'The time is 1079 after Christ,' said Ephiriel. 'The monks have lived here among these tall mountains, praising God and His creation, ever since the seventh century. The monastery is built around the grave of the holy St Maurice who was killed here in this valley in the year 285 because he refused to worship the Roman gods.'
He had only just ﬁnished speaking when a monk walked out of the monastery. He greeted them with a slight nod.
'Gloria Dei,' he said.
'And the same to you,' said Elisabet, even though she had not understood what the monk was saying. She thought one of them ought to answer him.
Only then did the monk notice the two angels. He knelt on the grass and said, 'Alleluial Alleluia!'
It was clear that they weren't used to angels visiting them at the monastery, even though it was so high up in the Alps that it was close to the angels in heaven.
Impuriel rose above the ground, ﬂew towards the monk, gently beating his wings, and said in a voice soft as silk, 'Fear not, and be in no wise afraid. We are only going to Bethlehem to greet the Christ-child.'
Then King Caspar of Nubia strode up to the monk. He said, 'Peace be with you and your monastery. It is true what the angel has said. We are on our way to the Holy Land to pay homage to the King of Kings in Bethlehem, the city of David.'
With those words they set off again. They came to a little place called Martigny where there was an old Roman theatre.
'The Romans used this route over the Alps too,' explained the angel Ephiriel. 'Much later Napoleon crossed the Alps with his army.'
'To Bethlehem!' called Joshua, and they sped upwards towards the high mountains. The air was so thin and clear that Elisabet thought she must be on the way to heaven. From time to time they saw a mountain hare, a marmot or an Alpine goat. Up in the air circled crows and vultures, and now and again a grouse started up from the bushes.
At the top of the mountain pass stood a large house.
'The time is 1045 years after Christ,' said the angel Ephiriel. 'That house is a hospice whose purpose is to look after people who are crossing the Alps. It's brand new and has been built by Bernard of Menton. From now on and for the rest of time the Benedictine monks will live up here and organise a rescue service for people who are lost in the mountains. They are helped by their clever St Bernard dogs.'
'Right!' said the cherub Impuriel. 'For Jesus wanted to teach humans to help one another when they were in distress. Once he told a story about a man who was on his way from Jerusalem to Jericho, and was attacked by robbers who left him half dead at the side of the road. Several priests passed by, but none of them bent down to help the poor man, though he was in danger of losing his life. Jesus thought there wasn't much point in being priests if they couldn't even be bothered to help a fellow human being in distress. They might just as well forget all their prayers.'
Elisabet nodded, and Impuriel continued, 'But then a Samaritan came past, and Samaritans were not very popular in Judea, because their religion was a bit different from that of the Jews. But the Samaritan had compassion on him and helped the unfortunate man so that he saved his life. Yes, indeed! For there's no sense in believing what's right unless it leads to helping people in distress.'
Elisabet nodded again and hid the cherub's words in her heart.
At one point where the pass forked, a man was standing with a large sign in his hand. He was wearing a long red tunic. If he had not moved, one might have thought he was a petriﬁed Roman from the Roman Empire.
On the sign was written 'TO BETHLEHEM ' in capital letters. An arrow had been drawn in as well, to show which path they should follow.
'A living road sign!' exclaimed Elisabet.
Ephiriel nodded. 'Verily I say unto you, that road sign must be one of us.'
Impuriel was so excited that he ﬂew right up to the man and shouted at him, 'Fear not! Fear not! Fear not!'
But the man with the sign was not at all affrighted. He took a step towards Elisabet, offered her his hand and said, 'Congrat… no, no, that wasn't quite correct. I mean, at your service, my friends! The very ﬁrst thing I must remember to do is to say my name because I, too, have been allowed to take part in this Advent calendar. My name is Quirinius, Governor of Syria… attractive appearance, closer acquaintance desired .. . well, well, the most important thing is, of course, to be good and kind. Dixi!'
Elisabet couldn't help laughing; he talked so oddly. It was as if there were two people talking at once, for he interrupted himself the whole time. He handed her the sign. He had perhaps been standing and holding it for an eternity with the wind ﬂapping in his tunic. He said, 'And this .. . I am asking for your attention, my friends . . . for here I have the actual prize . .. I ought to say that this prize is for you. Dixi!'
'Am I to have the sign?' said Elisabet in astonishment.
And Quirinius replied, 'Only on the one side . .. I mean you must turn it right round, you understand. Dixi!'
Elisabet didn't understand why he said Dixi all the time, for there was no dog or cat anywhere near. But the angel Ephiriel whispered that 'dixi' was Latin and meant that he had ﬁnished speaking.
Elisabet turned the sign round and saw to her great surprise that what she was holding in her hand was an Advent calendar with twenty-four doors to be opened. Above each door was painted a picture of a young woman with fair hair. She was standing in front of a church with a large dome on top.
'The ﬁrst twelve,' said Quirinius. 'You may open the ﬁrst twelve doors, for we've come exactly so far on our journey. Dixi!'
Elisabet sat down on a rock and opened the ﬁrst door. Behind it was a picture of a lamb. Behind the next door was an angel and behind the third a sheep. Then there followed pictures of a shepherd, another sheep, a King of Orient, a sheep, a shepherd, a sheep, a cherub, and another King of Orient. Elisabet saw that they were pictures of everyone who had joined the pilgrimage on its long way through Europe.
But who was the lady?
'Thank you very much!' she said.
Quirinius shook his head. 'On the contrary! What you said last was quite wrong, because you're not the one to say thank you .. . I am. I thank you and others here for allowing an old Roman like myself to join this godly group which is on the right way to Bethlehem. After all, it was not I — in fact it was you - who set off ﬁrst after the delightful lamb. Dixi! Dixi! Dixi!'
Elisabet looked up at Ephiriel and laughed.
'But you haven't opened the twelfth door,' said the angel,
Elisabet opened the twelfth door as well, and now she was looking down at a tiny picture of a fair-haired woman in front of the big dome of a church.
Joshua struck his shepherd's crook against a cairn.
'To Bethlehem! To Bethlehem!'
'How far is it to Bethlehem now?' asked Elisabet.
'Not very far!' said Ephiriel.
Reiner kept staring at the piece of paper. He had been present for the reading of the first chapter, and had also gotten in parts of other chapters - mostly because of Bertolt's retelling as they lay down to sleep. Not that he had minded it too much. While having to listen to the whole thing being told would drag out, Bertolt would keep it short, and would also mix in his own feelings and thoughts about the chapters.
Back in the their childhood, Bertolt had been pondering as well. However, as they didn't have much material to read from, he had began defragmenting what was said around the village, and soon it all turned into something that was more a philosophy than just thoughts. Reiner hadn't minded back then either. Although the blonde boy had been strong in his belief of what would have to be done, he had always enjoyed his friend's reflection on the matter.
So, realizing what he had had in his hand earlier, he had been sceptical, but as there was little to do and he wanted to free his mind of his haunting past, he had given it a chance.
And it hadn't been too bad. Compared to the first chapter, this was more than just silly nonsense, and, in an almost scary way, it seemed almost directed at him.
The samaritan. Reiner had heard the metaphor. It had once been used on him, however, no matter how much he searched his memories, he could not remember who had told him this. This made him wonder though. He hadn't know the true meaning of the word back then, so it hadn't made much sense to him. However, if what he had just read was the truth, that put a special meaning to the complement. What could they have referred to? Because he couldn't think of anything he'd done to deserve such a 'title'.
The question swirled around in his mind, and he got up on his feet, and began wandering the area. Finding a few trees, Reiner stopped and admired them. The trees that they normally saw were all small compared to these. Being close to people and squeezed in between buildings wasn't ideal for them. Out here, however… Laying his head back, he traced the stem of the tree all the way up to the top. Could it be 80 meters tall? As he was standing there, pondering the height, something came rushing down the tree and hit him on the forehead.
"Argh!" He growled. "What the hell?"
Holding his forehead, Reiner looked down at the ground. There, on the white snow, lay something small and brown. He bent down to pick it up, and, seeing it up close, he realized what it was.
"Nuts..?" He inspected the smooth shells. "A hazel?" He wondered. It was strange seeing nuts in this form. Those he had seen had mostly been plucked and ready to be eaten, while these three seemed to be in perfect order. They were all bundled together, kept that way by a small branch.
Reiner was about to throw the nuts away - he had never enjoyed the taste of nuts, but something made him stop. Instead, he put it in his pocket, continuing his walk.
Down by the ice, Ymir and Krista were packing up their things. Although Krista had been enthusiastic when hearing about the possibility of putting on a pair of skates, Ymir had not felt the same. Ever since she was little, she remembered she had felt uncomfortable on the ice. It was nothing spectacular - not that she was going to slip or fall through the ice - or otherwise hurt herself. No, it was something else, something hiding in the back of her mind.
"I'm sorry I took so long."
Ymir couldn't help but to smile as she looked into her friend's apologetic eyes. "Don't stress it, hun. Take as much time as you need. I'll wait."
Krista shook her head, letting the angelic strands of hair dance through the air. She was done skating for today, and besides, the ice had just lost it serenity. Casting a glance back over her shoulder, Krista followed the battle that was taking place.
When they had talked about ice skating, people had been looking forward to enjoy some relaxed sliding, back and forth on the ice, and having a good time. Well, that was until it was brought to their attention that this might be a good way to get used to the frosty weather and how a potential battle would take place. Hearing this, both Mikasa and Eren had been intrigued, and they had gone out on the ice as soon as they got there. The fight had been uneven - even more so than than usual, as Eren had a harder time adjusting to the new footing. They had kept on fighting, until Annie suddenly approached them.
Krista wasn't entirely sure what had happened, but it seemed like there had been an argument, and this had made Annie take Eren's place. The fight that followed had been intense to watch, and the two girls seemed to match each other in every movement. After a while they called it quits, both having lost interest in the fight. Mikasa had joined Eren and they had headed off, while Annie and Mike had been set upon by Hange for another fight. That had been interesting as well, and Krista noted that Annie's ability to adjust to ice-fighting had been amazing. Although Mike was rated much stronger than Leonhart, they were almost at the same level.
The sparring had been an interesting thing for Krista to watch as she let herself slide across the frozen surface, but that had all changed when Hange, without a warning, had decided to throw herself into the midst of it.
From being held within a controlled area, the fight had taken a different turn, and soon made everyone still on the ice run for their lives. So, due to this, Krista had evacuated, gliding towards Ymir.
Seeing the expression on Krista's face, Ymir got onto her feet. "You want to go for a ride?" Receiving an approving giggle, Ymir took Krista by the hand and guided her over to the sleigh. They wouldn't be able to go back to the Headquarters quite yet - as they only had two sleighs and both of them were needed to bring all the soldiers back - but that didn't mean that they couldn't borrow it for a while. Because, although Ymir wasn't fond of the ice, she held a fondness for riding the sleigh. So, helping her favorite person in this world into the pelts, Ymir had a genuine expression of happiness on her face.
Question of today: Are you fond of ice skating?
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