Summary: Sweets for my sweet.
Sneaking out after curfew became their habit. It wasn't too difficult, but timing was crucial: not too soon, everyone had to have at least a chance to fall asleep, and not too late, so as not to be taken for midnight wanderers. Nobody else was in the corridors after ten for one simple reason: it wasn't allowed. There was no danger of calling the unwanted attention; they never spoke while passing by the doors to the other dormitories.
Albrecht sneaked out first, this time much earlier. Friedrich was sure that Christoph and Hefe were still awake and he didn't dare to speak. Wanting to follow and knowing this would raise suspicion, he lay on his back, staring at the ceiling, listening anxiously to his dormmates' breathing.
Either he was that impatient or it took them longer to fall asleep tonight. After what seemed an eternity, Friedrich risked getting out of their room. He was afraid that Albrecht, worried by his absence, might already be on his way back. That would mean no time together when no one watched, when they were not being herded around.
He moved along the corridors quickly, noiselessly, checking all of their meeting points, but Albrecht was nowhere to be seen, neither in the bathroom nor by the bay window. Friedrich moved quicker still: the arcaded gallery, a nook beside the gymnastic room, laundry. Nothing. Unless they had already crossed, there was only one possible place left: the kitchens at the opposite side of the castle.
Before Friedrich had turned the corner, he heard a conversation. Someone was outside the kitchen. He wanted to turn back before they noticed him, but he got the impression that the others didn't want to be noticed either. They were whispering. Slowing down, he moved closer to the wall, as absurd as it was—it wouldn't provide him any shelter—and stopped just short of the corner.
One of the voices belonged to a girl. The other—
Friedrich stopped breathing and looked around the corner. He hadn't needed to worry. The two doves were so engaged in their cooing that they wouldn't have noticed a bombing raid. The kitchen girl, Katharina, was unwrapping two fairy cakes from a tea towel and handing it to Albrecht, who was smiling that grateful smile of his. The smile that made you think you were special...
Friedrich clenched his jaws. He didn't need to see any more. Breathing hard through his nose, he set off on his way back. He stomped angrily, not caring if anyone heard. If they caught him, they might catch the lovebirds as well. They wouldn't do anything to Albrecht; he was Gauleiter's son, but they probably wouldn't be so kind to that girl.
Someone grabbed him by the shoulder from behind. Prepared to make his excuses, he turned around, his arms stretched down his sides, in accordance with regulations, but instead of an officer's stern gaze, he met Albrecht's—happy and eager. The pain seized Friedrich's chest. So, that was it.
"What are you doing? You stomp like you're on parade," Albrecht whispered, amused, though also looking around anxiously.
"I'm going back to our room," Friedrich answered as indifferently as he could manage.
"Not so loud!" Albrecht shifted on his forearm the two cakes brimming with filling. "I've got fairy cakes." He pushed them out, very pleased with himself.
"I see. They look nice." Friedrich turned on his heel and continued ahead, not even sure of where he was going anymore.
"Wait!" Albrecht reached for him again, confusion on his face. "We can't go back with these."
"So eat them."
"What are you—I took them for us!"
The hurt in Albrecht's voice made Friedrich stop. What right did he have to sound hurt?
"Let's go to the gallery," said Albrecht curtly and set off without looking back.
Against his better judgement, Friedrich followed in strained silence. Albrecht's stiff back was proof that he was feeling uncomfortable, too.
With feigned nonchalance, Friedrich propped himself against the stone balustrade. Albrecht didn't look at him, just put one fairy cake next to Friedrich's elbow, took his between thumb and forefinger, and took a big bite. With an air of pretending to watch the landscape, he looked pointedly away from Friedrich.
Friedrich used this as an opportunity to hide the confection behind his outstretched arm. It would be a cold day in hell if he ate anything Albrecht was given by that wench.
When Albrecht looked at him at last, Friedrich smiled weakly.
"Good?" he asked. Albrecht nodded his head stiffly, still with that hurt expression, and Friedrich continued, "Ah, and look, mine fell down." He pointed the courtyard, three stories below them.
Albrecht's dark eyes glinted in the lantern's light when he looked briefly down and then back at Friedrich. Friedrich felt uncomfortable, as if he were guilty, but kept his gaze.
Albrecht opened his mouth to speak, and Friedrich expected some reproach, but instead he heard, "Do you want mine?"
He would have refused, but Albrecht extended his hand, offering his half-eaten pastry, regarding him steadily with a look that Friedrich couldn't decipher.
Caught like a deer in the headlights, he did the only thing he was able to at the moment. He opened his mouth, allowing Albrecht to feed him. Closing them around the sweet cream, he felt that Albrecht didn't withdraw his hand. His eyes flickered between Albrecht's, looking for an answer. The only thing he saw was that determined look.
The warm feeling spread inside his chest. He slowly closed his mouth, waiting for Albrecht to withdraw his fingers. They stayed where they had been, allowing the cream to melt around them, allowing Friedrich's tongue to move around them, licking off the sweetness. When Albrecht pulled back, his fingers slipped from between Friedrich's wet lips.
"Pity that yours fell down," he said quietly.
"It didn't," Friedrich replied without hesitation. He straightened out, disclosing the pastry sitting peacefully on the balustrade.
Albrecht didn't show surprise. He looked at it and back at Friedrich.
"Aren't you going to eat it?"
Friedrich picked it up and took a bite, then passed it to Albrecht, who obediently opened his mouth. The wet heat engulfed Friedrich's fingers. As if fearing that he might pull out, Albrecht took hold of Friedrich's wrist. It was just as well, because Friedrich feared he might crumble to his knees otherwise. Albrecht swallowed the pastry and licked Friedrich's fingers clean, fixing him with an anxious gaze.
When he had finished, he carefully set Friedrich's hand back on the stone.
They both breathed deeply, not speaking, not moving, only looking at each other. Their hands just barely touched.
Something caught Albrecht's attention and he looked away and down: the change of guards. The dark silhouettes marched out of the gate and then the relieved unit marched into the castle.
"We have to go." The usual wariness replaced the previous flame burning in Albrecht's eyes.
Friedrich couldn't find anything to say to that.
Heavily, they turned to go.
2009, May—2010, May