A/N: I was thinking one day that question that everyone asks themselves. What would have happened if Moritz had gone with Ilse? I'd seen some fics that are focused on the direct effect but I wanted to write about long term effects. Enjoy!
The morning sun cast golden light onto Moritz's face, blinding him a little as he sat in the grass with Ilse.
"What were you doing when I found you?" she asked gently, watching him as he silently twisted grass around his nervous fingers. He didn't respond at first, but spoke as Ilse opened her mouth to ask again.
"I failed school. My father doesn't want me."
Ilse looked at his with sympathy. "You could stay with me, you know," she said with a little too much urgency.
"I'd only get in the way," Moritz replied, pulling a clover from the earth and carefully ripping one of the leaves in half so that it had four of them. He met Ilse's gaze and saw his face in the reflection of her eyes, realizing how sad they looked now that they were shiny with tears that wouldn't fall.
"Moritz," she began but he was standing up already. There was a silent moment as Ilse got to her feet as well, and then they smiled weakly at each other.
"Th-thank you, Ilse," Moritz mumbled awkwardly. With that, he shuffled off to see Melchior. He didn't look back to see Ilse watching him walk away.
"You look tired," Melchior commented once they had closed his bedroom door. "But don't you always?" This brought a mixture of an attempted laugh and a sigh from Moritz.
"You look tired as well," Moritz said, wishing he was better at reading people.
Melchior shrugged. "I didn't get much sleep." He was picking at his fingernail now.
"Why… why were you worried about me?" Moritz asked, willing his voice to settle to one level and stop shaking. Did father notice the gun missing?
"That's not the reason I didn't sleep," Melchior said slowly. Though part of him wished Melchior had been worried about him, the other half was relieved that he didn't suspect anything to do with guns.
"What troubled you?"
The room grew quiet and Moritz could hear Frau Gabor working downstairs in the kitchen. Melchior sat down on his bed, mouth partially opened as if he was contemplating whether or not to say what was on his mind.
And Melchior explained it, his voice expressive and rapid as he told his friend about Wendla and the hayloft and everything else. A flicker of jealousy hit Moritz as he listened and couldn't help but… compare.
"You can't begin to understand h--… words and books and illustrations cannot explain that," Melchior said.
Melchior's face betrayed his casual voice as he asked, "What?"
"I, uh… I met Ilse when I was walking last night," Moritz began quietly. "We, um. You know." He gave Melchior a look.
"Oh." There was a pause that allowed Moritz's mind to wander. This was possibly the first time in over a year that he had seen his friend at a complete loss of words. Melchior was the one who always knew what to say. What would Melchior have said at Moritz's funeral? The thought made his stomach hurt and he decided that he would be the first to end the awkward quietness.
It wasn't much, but it broke the silence.
A/N: I'll try to update soon. Hm. I've never been good at ending chapters…