Okay, so I didn't say this yesterday, but: WE'RE HALFWAY THROUGH THE STORY!
I mean, wow. I cannot believe the word count on this story right now - it's sooo much!
Maybe, I mean, Maaaaaybe, we'll be able to hit the glorious 100k? :3
What do you say? Tell me in a Review, okay?
«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.
"I got you now!"
"As if!" Eren jumped to the side, a mocking grin plastered to his face. "Hah! You really can't hit- MULF!" A snowball hit him straight in the face and he backed up a few steps, coughing and spitting out the snow.
"Ahahahahah! It's not food, Eren! Didn't your mom tell you not to eat snow?" Connie laid his head back, laughing hysterically, pointing at his opponent. "Did you guys see how-"
"Hah!" A sly smirk was on the lips of Oluo as he rinsed the snow off of his bright blue mittens, somehow managing to keep clear of the multiple snowballs flying in his direction. "You guys will never hit me like that. It's a miracle that you even passed your examinations! One would think you had no aim." That said, he got hit in the head by a lucky snowball, falling back into the snow.
"What was that?" Came sarcastically from the sideline. "You're teaching them how to be a proper soldier are you? I can understand your doubt in the rookies, but it's you I'm worried about. Did they really have no requirements back then?"
"At least you're admitting it." Oluo taunted as he kept on running, passing Mikasa on his right. "I was number one in my year, while you, hmm, remind me again; what was your-"
Gunther let out a sigh. Why had he even bothered coming out here today? He really didn't like these kinds of activities, throwing small objects of ice and snow at each other… There was little in it that could be used in any way in their job. That, and he couldn't believe that he had agreed on joining them - already knowing that both Oluo and Petra were looking forward to some fun in the snow - it was doomed to be a shitty day. He glanced over at the side line. Petra had been a good participant, but when Mikasa set eyes on her, she knew she was doomed. Since then, the cheerful girl had been sitting in the snow, cheering on those that were still in the game - making sure to throw a few comments in Oluo's direction. Beside her was Armin. He had also been hit early in the game, but it didn't seem to bother him too much. Instead, he had began making snowballs - not for the fight. No, the snowballs he was making were placed in a circle, and at the moment he worked on an additional row on top of the first one.
The idea of having a snowball fight had begun earlier that morning. As all were gathered around the table, an accidental scoop of porridge had made its way from Bertolt's spoon, splatting onto the wall - barely avoiding the face of the Commander himself. It had all been an accident, but it had still inspired the group to load their own spoons and send porridge flying through the room.
It all ended abruptly as Keith Shadis got on his feet and demanded quiet - as well as respect for the little food they had. The fear built into the recruits, as well as the good argument, made them all stop. However, they had decided that they would have a snowball fight that day.
"Ahaha! Stop it, Annie." Sasha protested as the taller girl managed to push her down in the snow. "Mikasa, help me!"
Looking at her with uninterested eyes, Mikasa shook her head. "It was you who snuck up on her."
"Mikasaaa" Sasha begged, but the raven haired scout had already left. However, soon after, Annie let go of her fellow soldier.
Out of nowhere, a shadow hit Annie, and forced her to step back. Fending off the sudden attacker, Annie looked up, noticing none other than Oluo. Blinking, she took another step back, and then, giving him a nod to accept the challenge, she charged. The two of them clashed together, sending a wave of snow towards Sasha, as they threw kicks and punches at each other. One moment it looked like Oluo was winning, but the next, faster than any of them could see, Annie managed to put her foot forward, tripping the man, and using his momentum to lay him into the snow.
Cheer came from the sidelines - and from one girl's mouth in particular. "You go, Annie!"
Snow in his mouth, Oluo protested, demanding a rematch. However, Annie refused, telling him to tend to his bleeding tongue.
Now that the match was over, the group all gathered to find out what to do next.
"A snowman!" Mikasa suggested.
"But we've already done that," Eren complained. "Can't we do something else?"
"I wanna build a snowman," Gunther confessed. "It seems like fun."
Connie nodded. "Me too. Although I wanna make a snow-Titan."
And so they began. They packed the snow, and rolled it into bigger balls and put them together. However, the snow was not at its best and it took time, and after a while they all decided to take a break to read the piece of paper that Armin had put in his pocket.
The fourteenth of December: Isaac
… even before the child's foreﬁnger had time to unfold …
Towards the end of the ninth century a strange raft was sailing on the River Po in the direction of the Adriatic Sea to the east.
The country they were sailing through was called Lombardy. On the raft stood a small ﬂock of sheep, bleating crossly because they were not allowed to drink the river water. The smallest sheep was scuttling to and fro, so that a little bell hanging round its woolly neck was tinkling.
Two Wise Men were pointing at objects around them, and saying wise words about the beautiful country they were sailing through. After a long discussion about the blessings of oranges and dates, they agreed that God could not have created a better world — at least, not in six days.
At the back of the raft stood a man in Roman clothes, steering with a long oar. Such clothes had not been long out of fashion. He was talking to a small girl who was holding a piece of cardboard in her hands. On one side was written, 'TO BETHLEHEM '; on the other was a picture of a young woman with long fair hair.
Most conspicuous were two angels standing forwards on the raft, beating their wings to stop the boat drifting towards the river bank. This was long before river boats were equipped with propellers.
Now and again the cherub Impuriel turned to the others and praised the beauty of the landscape they were sailing through.
'Wonderful!' he called out. 'Nothing but glory and joy. It's just like on the ﬁfth day when God saw everything that He had made. And behold — it was very good!'
Once or twice somebody on the shore noticed them. But the raft was revealed for only a brief second. That's because it wasn't just sailing down the Valley of the Po, it was sailing down through history too, crossing the tidal wave of the age. When a little child stood on the bank of the river and pointed at the strange raft, it disappeared even before the child's foreﬁnger had time to unfold.
So perhaps it was only a reﬂection?
They passed old Roman bridges and buildings, theatres, temples and aqueducts. The angel Ephiriel pointed out all the churches.
'l was often in this area as a young man,' Quirinius told them, as he stared down at the long oar in the water. 'But that was a very long time ago ... or the opposite, of course. I mean, it's still a good while before we get there. Dixi!'
Elisabet realised that he was talking about the Roman period when there were Roman soldiers nearly everywhere in the world.
'What did it look like here then?' she asked.
'The Roman theatres are still standing. The orange trees as well — and the red poppies along the river bank. But nobody had heard about Jesus. What's new are all the churches and monasteries, priests and monks. Dixi Dixi!'
Before long Joshua pointed at the river bank. 'We'll land over there.'
Quirinius tried to steer the raft towards land, and was helped by the two angels who beat their wings energetically. While Joshua the shepherd drew the raft up to a tree with his crook, the angel Ephiriel said a few warning words to the cherub imp.
'If we meet any people you must be sure to remember to say "Fear not" in a gentle angel voice, so that they will not be afraid. We're only visiting, so it's important that we behave properly.'
All the pilgrims alighted from the raft, those on two legs, those on four, and those with wings on their shoulders. They passed a country church and turned uphill through the countryside.
The towns were not very large at this period, but soon they were approaching one of the largest. Ephiriel told them it was called Padua.
Just before they sped through the town gate they caught sight of a man in a blue tunic. He was sitting on a stone with his head in his hands. It looked as if he had been sitting there for a very long time.
Impuriel ﬂew towards him, hovered in the air right in front of him, ﬂuttering his wings, and said, 'Fear not and be in no wise afraid. I am Impuriel and am one of God's angels who is out on a sacred errand.'
It looked as if the cherub's words had an effect, for the man did not throw himself to the ground and did not hide his head. He said neither 'Alleluia' nor 'Gloria Dei'. He simply got to his feet and walked towards them.
'Then he is one of us,' said Ephiriel.
The man offered his hand to Elisabet.
'I am Isaac the shepherd and I am going the same way as you.'
That made it much easier to guide the six sheep through Padua.
Altogether there were ﬁfteen of them, going at such a speed that the few people who were out in the streets didn't have time to look at them. before they vanished. The pilgrims only just managed to see the inhabitants of the town, too. When they glimpsed an early riser, the man or woman disappeared in the next instant, perhaps to be replaced by a different man or woman.
Elisabet thought they were in the town for only half a minute, but in fact the strange pilgrimage haunted the streets of Padua for seven or eight long years; for that half-minute consisted of thirty brief seconds, and those thirty brief seconds were divided between all those seven or eight years.
Ancient accounts tell us that there was never so much talk of angels in Padua as during those magic years from 804 to 811. Now and then someone or other thought they had seen something strange in the streets. Could it have been a procession of angels who had swept through the town?
Outside the town walls they stopped in front of a small monastery.
'Strange to see a Roman town again,' said Quirinius. 'I wonder Who's the emperor now.'
Ephiriel looked at his angel watch.
'It's exactly 800 years after Christ. On Christmas Day this year Charles the Great Will be crowned Emperor of Rome.'
'Then we'll soon be starting on a new century,' said Joshua. He struck his shepherd's crook against the monastery wall.
'To Bethlehem! To Bethlehem!'
Putting the scrap of paper back into his pocket, Armin brought his attention back to the sculpture. Looking at it from where they sat, the snowman didn't look bad at all. Although, looking at the one next to it, it was nothing.
"Wow, who made that one?" He pointed out the impressive snow creation. "It's really well done!"
No one spoke up, and as he looked at them, all shook their heads, all but-
"I made it." Connie grinned. Then, bowing towards them, he proclaimed; "It wasn't easy, I'll admit to that. The snow didn't want to work with me - but I made it. And," he boasted, "it really is a masterpiece."
"Yeah, it's really good." Bertolt agreed. "To be honest, it's almost like it's moving. Silly right?" His face turned white as snow, "R-Right?"
"I-It's a-alive?" Eren couldn't believe his eyes. But there, only forty meters away, the impressive snow-Titan shook his head, ridding itself of the snow that had up till then, covered it. "IT'S ALIVE!"
Panic broke out among the group gathered in the snow. There had been talk about what might happen if they met a titan in the snow, but all had been based on theories, when nothing was for sure.
Running for their lives, most headed for the sleigh, hoping that the horses would carry them faster away from the Titan.
"Wait," Mikasa shouted after them, making them slow down and look back. "It's stuck."
Upon inspection, Mikasa was right. Although the Titan was moving, it was only the upper body. Still vary, they continued watching, and concluded that it was indeed stuck.
"I'll take care of it." Mikasa, always prepared, drew her blades.
"It could have turned out pretty bad," Armin said. "And who knows how the Titans are affected by this weather."
Mikasa nodded. Although the Titan seemed almost defenceless, stuck in the frozen ground, it was best to not take any chances. So, making sure that she was out of range - even should the Titan break free - she made her way around the Titan to get a simple, clean cut of the nape.
From the direction of the sleighs, a voice called out. Turning to see who it was, they discovered…
"Hange?" Armin blinked. "What brings you here."
"I heard you were gonna play around in the snow …. Although..." Taking in the full splendour of the Titan, and strange glow grew across her face. "It seems like you've found something even more fun to play with."
The scientist went closer to the big creature. "Would you mind if I had a look at him?
Suddenly growing uncomfortable, the group all shook their heads, relieved that she hadn't been more specific in just WHAT she wanted to do.
"I think I should head back," Jean's eyes flicked to the sleigh. "I should probably help out with… eh, things."
Soon all agreed that they should probably have a look at the laundry, plow some snow or chop more wood - even knitting was brought up.
"Ah, okay." Hange nodded, barely acknowledging their presence. "I'll be right there, I just have to..."
And so, before more could be said, the sleighs were filled up in no time, heading home - and as far from Hange's new experiment as they could.
Returning to the headquarters, the group was met by the Commander himself. Erwin Smith had been sitting in long meetings the entire day, and was finally enjoying some fresh air. However, after being ditched by an extremely sleepy Levi, he had felt alone and in need of company. So, as the group rode through the main gate, they found a very eager commander waiting.
"Back already?" He asked as he fought to keep the level of enthusiasm in his voice to an acceptable level. "I didn't think you'd be back until dinner."
"Well, the Titan kinda ruined the plans..." Connie muttered.
"Yeah..." Connie was still having conflicting feelings about the whole Snow-Titan affair. Truth be told, he had only found a pile of snow, and thinking it covered a stone or something similar, he had added on and made it compact with the use his hands.
Gulping, Connie suddenly realized that he had been extremely close to a titan - and he had been PETTING IT! Shivers went down his back, and he shook himself to get rid of the unsettling feeling.
Commander Erwin scanned the homecomers. "Where's Hange?"
"She stayed with the Titan," Petra explained. "She had some….eh… experiments in mind."
"I see." Erwin nodded in understanding. Although Hange Zöe had many fascinating and interesting theories, not all of them had the prettiest ways of being tested out. He, himself had been present in many of her Titan studies, and most of what he had witnessed were things he would have prefered to live without seeing. He couldn't, though. As a Commander, it was his job to be informed about all discoveries made by his team - being it a slim report or witnessing the heart wrenching cries of a Titan being decimated alive.
The recruits on the other hand... Although it might teach them a thing or two, it was something they could learn from a distance. If given the option whether to witness or not, many might run - something that was proven to him by those standing in front of him in the courtyard.
He was about to continue the conversation by asking about their day, as he stooped. Was that...? Was that rumbling he heard? Turning around in the direction of the sound, Erwin could feel the vibrations coming through the ground beneath him.
Something was indeed approaching them.
He was about to shout out, to warn the others, as a Titan suddenly came into sight through the gate.
The words were only half-spoken, before half a dozen blades were drawn, and soon another dozen followed.
"PREPARE TO ATTACK!"
Holding up his arm to signal an attack, Erwin narrowed his eyes on the approaching Titan, waiting for it to be in the perfect position.
A loud crack split the air, and suddenly the Titan was only half - or even a third - of it's original height.
"What the..." Gunther muttered to left. "Did it just..."
"The lid." Armin spun towards Erwin. "It must have been the lid that was forged yesterday."
"You mean..." Gunther joined in on the conversation. "Not the lid of the drophole?"
"I think so"
A shadow flew past them.
The others followed her, and soon they were close enough to the Titan to take in the situation.
It was as Armin had suspected. The thin wood that had been crafted yesterday to work as a coverage for the drophole, hadn't been able to carry the weight of someone stepping on it, designed with thin wood for easy lifting.
"There!" Gunther pointed. "Look there!"
A smile appeared on the Commanders lips. "Oh, hi there, Hange!" He waved down at her.
"Hi, guys!" Hange waved back,
And there she was. In a little pocket shaped device fastened to the back of the Titan's back - at the bottom of the nape.
"What the hell! What are you doing?"
Eren's question voiced what everyone was thinking.
"Ah, well," The Squad Leader began her climb out of the cloth pocket. "I wanted to see whether or not I'd be able to ride a Titan."
Erwin was the one to ask the obvious question: "And?"
"Well, while it technically worked - I mean, I did ride him," Hange started. "I didn't have much control over Paulus."
"P-Paulus?" Sasha was almost scared to ask.
"Yeah, isn't he cute?"
"THE FOOD IS READY!" The voice came from the door, and, facing it, they saw Jean. While the others had stayed to look at the Titan, Jean had chosen to go back inside to help out with the food.
They headed inside, and, on their way in, they asked Hange to join them, but she declined.
"Just go. I'll come in a bit."
Then, to everyone's surprise, she headed towards the stables. However, they were all hungry, and decided that the mystery of Hange's doings would have to way 'til after dinner.
The eccentric scientist fastened the ribbon. Soon she was all done, and as she put the last star onto Paulus' ear, she heard the creak of the door.
"Oh, Levi!" She called out. "Look! Isn't he just the most adorable little-"
Her song ended abruptly as Levi, at first glance at the visitor, sped up the Titan's arm and, swift as a hawk, slit open the nape.
The howl echoed within the walls, and everyone jumped to their feet, hurrying to see what was going on - all except Oluo, who had reacted badly to something he'd eaten, and was forced to stay on the potty.
Storming outside, the soldiers were all expecting something horrible to have happened.
"Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?" Hange's wails continued, her arms grabbing onto Paulus, as parts of his body dissolved between her fingers.
Question of today: What you you prefer? To build snowmen? or to be in a snowball match? Why?
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