A/N:
Christmas is a time of year that is wonderful, but it can also be quite mysterious. So far, our friends have found a strange calendar, but far stranger things will happen in this chapter :3

Please leave review in the end - it means the world to me.

Disclaimer:
«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.


DECEMBER 8TH


The sun had yet to climb into the world, and the outdoors were covered in a thick veil of shadows and smoke. The only light that could be seen was from snow, reflecting the light of the moon, and the moon itself. No sound could be heard, and there was no movement in the terrain, except for the falling snow and the swift dance of the branches after being tickled in the wind. Silent. Dead.

But there.

A shadow.

Swiping through faster than the eye could see, and gone as soon as it appeared.

In his bed, Jean tossed and turned. He had been working the entirety of yesterday with the horses. Not that taking care of the animals was his favorite thing - he could easily imagine a number of more interesting jobs to do, but, on the other side, it was much better compared to some. Everything had seemed fine, but as soon as he walked back indoors, his body had given its own opinion. He hurt all over. Honestly, Jean couldn't remember ever feeling this bad before, in his life. He had whined and complained most of the evening, until he got into a fight.

He hadn't meant what he said, not really. Or, he had not meant for the words to be said out loud - at least in front of so many people. It was all because of the pain in his back. The pain made him grumpy and agitated. Still, it shouldn't have been said. He knew that this 'Christmas thing' meant a lot to some of his friends, so it wasn't right for him to ruin it. That said, the tradition was a truly foolish thing. Jean hadn't paid too much attention to what was going on around him - no, he'd made sure not to involve himself - but what he had gathered was that the tradition was about strange angel-creatures that could fly and jump in time. It was impossible - and they should know that.

Rustling back and forth, he finally was able to fall into a heavy sleep; a sleep filled with whispers, and howls, until..

"AAh!"

Jean jumped out of bed, his face whiter than Levi's sheets. What he had seen… He couldn't… Why now? His body - lying there, abandoned in the dust and mud. Calling it once more to his mind, Jean had to do his best to stop himself from puking.

Marco.

Although he'd seen an uncountable number of bodies, the one of Marco was the worst. It had been beyond shocking when, as he walked through the streets of Trost, looking at the many dead bodies, he found his friend was one of them. Friend… No… Marco had been more than that. He-, he'd been his best friend. Before he met Marco, nobody had understood Jean. Sure, they had understood the 'Jean' that he chose to show the world, but Marco had seen something more...

"Yes, I wasn't the prettiest sight, was I?"

"No, you..."

Jean's eyes widened. Slowly, he turned to look to his side and shrieked.

"I-It can't be..."

There, on the chair he had placed by his bed, to put his clothes on at night, sat...

"Marco."

"Hi, Jean. It's been a while."

Not knowing what to do, Jean couldn't gather his words, and what fell out of his mouth in the end was: "But... you're dead."

"I am." Marco nodded, a sad smile on his face.

"But then..?"

"Why am I here?" The fallen friend completed his question. "Well, sometimes it just seems like there are things that have yet to be done. It wouldn't be right to leave without making sure everything is alright." Standing up, he continued; "So, Jean, tell me. How are you doing?"

"How am I-" Jean began, but cut himself off. How was he feeling? Well, for once his back hurt terribly- or, wait. Now that he tried moving it, there was no pain - no sign of his struggles. Could it be that… "Is this a dream?" He asked.

"And what if it was?"

Jean nodded to himself. That made sense. There was no way that Marco could be here. He was dead and gone, and all that was left were memories. He sat down on his bed again, and pulled his legs up with him.

"I see you haven't changed, Jean."

Before he could protest, Jean found Marco sitting on the bed with him. A nostalgic feeling filled him as he recalled they had done this many times, back when they trained to be soldiers together.

"You're still as sceptical. That was something I admired about you, but you know, you could do to loosen up a bit. Have fun, enjoy life, and have hope."

Jean didn't know what to say - or if he should say anything at all. Would it be weird if he talked? It would, wouldn't it? However, it was Marco, and Marco had been the one to open Jean's eyes for what even he himself didn't see. Should he talk to him? Not that he was really there, but just maybe...

"Marco?" He turned his head, but there was no one there.

Jean sat up with a gasp of air stuck in his throat. He coughed for a bit, but was soon able to get up and out of bed. Through the window, he could see the sun was high in the sky. Wrapping himself in the sweater his mom had knitted for him, Jean gave himself a tight hug. Normally he wouldn't have worn it so openly, but after what just happened, Jean did not care anymore. He had been visited by Marco, a ghost of the past. It was scary to think about - that he had been dreaming something that unthinkable.

"It's impossible" he told himself for the hundredth time. "It was just a dream."

Shaking his head, he headed for the door, but then a tray caught his attention. He walked over to it. It wasn't much - only a couple of slices of bread and a cup of what had once been hot tea. He picked it up nonetheless and took a sip. Even cold, it was good, and Jean was about to drink it all, when he caught the sight of something…

He picked it up and looked at it:


The eighth of December: Jacob

… part of the glory of heaven that has strayed down to earth …


One of the last days of the year 1499 after Christ, four sheep, one shepherd, one King of the Orient, one angel and a little girl from Norway flocked out of a boat that had brought them across the Little Belt to Jutland.

'Thank goodness!' exclaimed Caspar as they stepped on land.

'Yes, it'll be a long time now before we have to do that again,' replied Joshua.

The angel Ephiriel nodded. 'Verily I say unto you that there will be only one more time before we get to Bethlehem.'

Elisabet had no idea what they were talking about. 'Isn't it still terribly far to Bethlehem?' she asked.

'Yes, indeed,' said the angel. 'It is far, and many hundreds of years too.

But there is only one more stretch of ocean to cross. That won't happen until we get to the Black Sea.'

The little procession came to a town at the inner end of a fjord. At one end of the town stood a large fortress.

'This town is called Kolding and is in South Jutland,' said the angel Ephiriel. 'It has been an important trading place for hundreds of years. The fortress is called Koldinghaus and the kings of Denmark have often lived here. The time is l488 years after Christ's birth.'

Joshua struck the ground with his crook.

"To Bethlehem! To Bethlehem!'

They came to the top of a little ridge with fine views over the countryside. Fresh flowers were growing everywhere, so it must have been early summer. Elisabet pointed down at the ground as she ran.

'Look at all the lovely wild flowers!' she said.

The angel nodded mysteriously.

"They are part of the glory of heaven that has strayed down to earth,' he explained. 'You see, there's so much glory in heaven that it can easily spill over.'

Elisabet pondered over the angel's words and hid them in her heart.

Suddenly the shepherd stopped and pointed at the little flock of sheep.

'A lamb is missing!'

He needed to say no more, for all of them saw that the earth seemed to have swallowed up the lamb with the bell.

'Where is it?' exclaimed Elisabet.

'The lambs are so charming with their white fleece that they're a delight to the eye, but they're almost uncontrollable,' said Joshua. 'It doesn't always help to put a bell on them, either. If I'm watching one lamb, the other will suddenly vanish. And when I find the second lamb, all of a sudden the first lamb will decide to leave the flock. Shepherding is a difficult job, and it's especially difficult to herd a flock of sheep all the way to Bethlehem. As it is written, now I must leave the other sheep to look for the one lamb that is missing.'

Elisabet felt her eyes fill with tears. But just then a man appeared over the crest of the ridge. He was wearing clothes exactly like Joshua's and on his shoulders he was carrying the lamb with the bell.

'He is one of us,' said Ephiriel.

The man put the lamb down at Elisabet's feet. He held out his hand to Joshua and said, 'I am Jacob the shepherd and the second of the shepherds in the field. Now I can help care for the flock that's going to Bethlehem.'

Elisabet clapped her hands. Joshua struck the ground with his crook and said, 'To Bethlehem! To Bethlehem!'

The two shepherds ran behind the little flock, with Caspar the black king, the angel Ephiriel and Elisabet behind them.

As they were passing the old market town of Flensburg the angel Ephiriel said, 'The time is 1402 years after the birth of Christ. We shall soon be crossing the frontier into Germany and diving down into the depths of the Middle Ages.'


While Jean was reading the piece of paper, Armin had gathered a group of people around the dining table.

"And here," Armin pointed at the map in front of him. "This is where they met Caspar."

"Really?" Erwin bent even further over the table to get an even better look. "I had imagined it differently. Like there," he moved his finger across the map, "that is where I would have gone."

"Maybe they had a reason?" Krista suggested. "Maybe there is someone else they are going to meet up with?"

"That is likely," Armin agreed. If one thing was sure about these pieces of paper, it was that the group of travelers seemed to grow with each day.

"Can you show me again?" Hange leaned down and joined Erwin in the close inspection of the map. "The place called Bethlehem."

Armin nodded and carefully pushed the scientist's finger to the side. "There. Just underneath Jerusalem."

The scientist nodded and continued to look at the map and the little markers that Armin had placed on the upper part of the map. Her finger played on the parchment, and once in awhile they stopped to read the little text printed there.

"It's remarkable," she whispered. "It's almost like another world." She stopped her tracing, and looked up at the blond boy. "Where did you find it?"

"Over there, on the shelf," Armin explained. It had been tucked inside a box on the shelf, and as he went through it, on the 2nd of December, he had found it. It hadn't done much for him, though. He hadn't had the time to study it parchment yet, though, and it had been placed in the pile of materials that Armin planned to go through on a later occasion. That occasion had ended up being this morning. He had picked up the map and noted that this was not an area that he was familiar with. Intrigued, he had continued to read, and as he reached the north - he had begun in the centre of the map and moved south first - he had found himself recognizing the names. He hadn't been sure why, until he a few hours later, when they had read today's chapter of the calendar. Then it had hit him. What he had found was a map containing the places written about in the book.

"So whoever wrote the calendar also made the map?" Erwin asked. "The question is in what order. Is the map based on the story, or the story on the map."

"I'm not sure." Armin said, his eyes looking unfocused down on the map. "It could be the same creator... or, it is not impossible that it is by another creator. Who knows, they might not even be related to each other..."

"Another creator?" Erwin looked up, a glowing interest in his eye. "You mean that there can have been two individual creators here? If that is the truth, then what is this based on?" The flame in his eyes grew even stronger, and, down on the table, his fists clenched tight. "I, myself, have not studied maps to the degree that I know every inch of our world, but looking at this… everything on it is unfamiliar. There is nothing that I've even heard of - and not this god of theirs either."

"My thoughts are the same," Hange agreed. "I haven't been focusing on maps either, but this whole concept - this whole world that we have found here, these past two weeks…"

Silence fell over the room. No one wanted to say what was on everyone's mind. The thought was a dangerous one, and they knew that if they opened their mouths to say it, it could never be taken back or forgotten. It was a thought, but it could not be the truth. It was impossible, wasn't it?


A/N:
What a visitor, am I right?

But now, tell me:
Do you guys know of any or many - or maybe even all, of the places that Elisabet has run through?
Tell me okay? And tell me which ones and why you know of them^^

Please leave a review with your thoughts, okay?

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