Elizaveta was exhausted beyond belief. She was practically melting on the passenger seat of the car, clinging onto two white takeout boxes. It was nearly nine o'clock in the evening. Her stomach rumbled; she had skipped dinner.
"Thanks so, so, so much, Ludwig," she mumbled for the umpteenth time.
"You're welcome," Ludwig replied as he drove the car through his neighborhood. "Would you like some dinner at our place? I'm sure you're starving."
"First things first," Elizaveta said. "I've got to give an answer."
Ludwig nodded, pulling the car into his driveway. Outside the sky was a deep violet color, streaked with dark blue and maroon. Elizaveta stepped out of the car, shivering at the dusk coolness.
"So you're positive that these are the exact ingredients?" Elizaveta asked.
"Wouldn't it be too late if I said they weren't?" Ludwig pointed out. "And yes, I'm sure. Mother always went to that German grocery store and bought those exact ingredients. I followed her all the time back then."
"That's good," Elizaveta said, relieved. Ludwig unlocked the front door and they both stepped inside.
"Ich bin zurückgekommen!" Ludwig announced as he took off his shoes. They entered the kitchen; to Elizaveta's surprise, it was still clean and sparkling.
"Thanks for cleaning up the kitchen after you were done, by the way," Ludwig said, throwing his car keys into a drawer. "I don't know how you convinced Gilbert to do it with you."
"Just some persuasion skills," Elizaveta said. Ludwig opened the dishwasher to find the dishes still clean and unloaded.
"I guess he hasn't eaten dinner yet," Ludwig said. "I always tell him that he could feed himself."
"Where is he?" Elizaveta asked.
"Probably in his room. Follow me." Ludwig led Elizaveta up the stairs. As they neared the second floor, Elizaveta could hear the faint music of a guitar and Gilbert's voice singing in German.
"Bruder?" Ludwig said, knocking on Gilbert's door. "There's someone here to see you."
The guitar strumming and the German song stopped abruptly. He answered Ludwig in rapid German. Ludwig frowned in bewilderment.
"It isn't Antonio," Ludwig said. "And why would Antonio look for his underwear in our guestroom, anyways?"
Gilbert replied in a confusing flurry of German, before returning to his guitar. Ludwig reddened and he coughed in his fist, flustered.
"Oh. I see. Well, anyways, it's not Antonio. Or Lovino. Or Francis. It's Elizaveta."
The music deadened. There was silence on the other side. Elizaveta cast a confused glance at Ludwig. Finally, the door swung open, revealing a slightly disheveled Gilbert wearing shorts and a rather ripped wife beater.
"Elizaveta?" Gilbert said, surprised. "Ah. Um, come in."
"I'll be downstairs," Ludwig said before leaving the two. Elizaveta quietly stepped in, holding the two boxes tightly. She kept reminding herself that hers was on the left hand, and his was on the right. Hers, left. His, right.
Gilbert closed the door behind him. He gazed warily at Elizaveta.
"You should've told me you were coming over," Gilbert said, opening his drawers. "I would've put a proper shirt on."
"My cell phone is dead," Elizaveta said. Gilbert froze and looked up at her.
"So you didn't get my message?" he said hopefully.
"Um, I suppose not," she said. She shifted nervously, unable to look at Gilbert in the eyes. "About the dance, Gil…" She handed him a box with her left hand.
Gilbert frowned and circumspectly took the box from her hand. He lifted off the lid and let it drop to the ground. He bit the inside of his cheek and sighed.
"You know, a simple 'no' would've done the trick," he said flatly, staring down at the dobos torte they had made.
Elizaveta frowned in confusion. She stared down at her left hand and realized with horror that she had been stupid as to give Gilbert the left box when she had been constantly reminding herself that his was on the right.
"Wrong box!" Elizaveta cried. She took the dobos torte from Gilbert and handed him the correct box. Gilbert was very cautious now; he opened the box and his eyes widened in surprise. Inside the box was a creamy schwarzwälder kirschtorte, bedecked with bright red maraschino cherries and delicate chocolate shavings. In the middle of the cake was one simple German word written in chocolate.
He nearly dropped the box in shock. He had to set it on his nightstand; his hands were becoming clammy again. He sat down on a canvas chair and ran his hands through his white hair.
"Mein Gott, Elizaveta," he muttered. "I was stressing out the whole entire afternoon because you didn't even respond to me!"
"What are you saying?" Elizaveta asked.
"Didn't you read the message on the flower?" Gilbert asked.
"The flower—oh! No…" Elizaveta admitted.
Gilbert rubbed his eyes. The heavy weight on his chest vanished without a trace. "That explains so much."
"Why? All it said was that a rosebud was a pretty thing, but it had to open to see the world. Something like that."
"Exactly," Gilbert said. "It was a riddle. You were supposed to open the flower and read the message I wrote!" He chuckled. "I was expecting you to catch that."
"I forgot about it once I came up with an idea to surprise you!" Elizaveta said defensively. "What did the message say?"
"The bare bones said to meet me in the courtyard with an answer," said Gilbert. "Then you never showed up, And then I texted you, but apparently your phone was dead, so…"
"That must've been awkward," Elizaveta said, stifling a giggle. "I caused a lot of stress, didn't I?"
"No kidding!" Gilbert exclaimed. "I thought you didn't even bother to give me a 'No' or an 'It's against my religion to date albinos' or something like that."
"Did the Great Wall of Awesomeness crumble?" Elizaveta asked saucily.
"I'm not even going to answer that question," Gilbert said stubbornly. "Why'd you bring the dobos torte, though? When I saw it, I thought you were rejecting me in the most horrible way possible."
"I'm not that cruel," Elizaveta said hotly. "Besides, if I was rejecting you, I'd still keep the cake."
"You evil little…" Gilbert trailed off when Elizaveta laughed. He smiled wryly.
"I wanted to eat with you," Elizaveta said. She pulled two forks out of her purse and handed one to Gilbert. "I ate the strawberries already, though. They were going to melt if I didn't."
"I figured. You go first."
"We're seriously not going to get into this kind of argument, are we?"
Elizaveta smirked. "Fine. I'll go first, because I know it isn't poisoned." She pierced the dobos torte with the fork. The shining caramel split at the contact and the cake made a foamy sound when the fork slid through. She put it in her mouth, savoring the sweet taste of chocolate and caramel. Her tongue ran through the prongs of the fork to lick off any soft cream left behind.
"It's good, right?" Gilbert urged. Elizaveta nodded, grinning.
"Better than those store-bought ones from long time ago."
"It has to be. We made it," Gilbert chortled. "Now my turn?"
"Don't scarf it down like a cow," Elizaveta ordered. "I spent a long time working on this; I even had Ludwig help me choose the right ingredients and made sure I didn't do something completely wrong."
"So that's where West was the whole day," Gilbert noted. "All right, fine. I won't 'scarf it down,' even though I'm starving and you're depriving me of a full stomach."
"You should've eaten dinner," Elizaveta reprimanded.
"Yes, Mummy," Gilbert joked. He took a bite of the chocolate cake. He closed his eyes for a moment.
"I don't know if it would be exactly like how your mother made it," Elizaveta said nervously. "I tried my best; I made Ludwig walk down memory lane to figure out the ingredients and everything, but I didn't have that secret ingredient she put in…"
"It tastes exactly like hers," Gilbert said quietly.
"But…I didn't put the secret ingredient in there," Elizaveta said, surprised.
Gilbert leaned closer, his eyes bright with amusement.
"Do you know what it is?" he said softly.
"No…" Elizaveta said slowly. "What is it?"
"Liebe," Gilbert said.
"What's 'liebe?' I don't know German food."
Gilbert smiled and brushed her hair behind her ear. "It's not just German. It's universal."
"Well, I'm not the world's best chef," Elizaveta said. She tilted her head. "I put liebe in there?"
"I don't know. You tell me," Gilbert laughed. Elizaveta scowled.
"How would I know? I don't know what liebe is," Elizaveta said.
"Of course you do. But would you have put it in?"
"Gilbert, I'm not in the mood for riddles anymore. My brain is dead and I'm extremely hungry."
Gilbert leaned in so close that his forehead touched hers. His red eyes were right in front of her green ones. Elizaveta could feel her heart flutter with rosy wings.
"'Liebe,'" he said, "means 'love' in German."
Elizaveta leaned in closer, about to kiss him, but instead her lips pressed against his fingers. Gilbert backed away, leaving Elizaveta extremely confused and crestfallen.
"You said you didn't hand out kisses like free handshakes," Gilbert said playfully.
She was going to kill that boy.
"Why do I have to keep my promises if you didn't keep yours?" Elizaveta demanded. She pointed up to the picture of her and Gilbert making their wedding cake on the wall when they were eight years old. "You promised me you would kiss me later in the future, and you never did."
"I can't believe you remember that," Gilbert said, awestruck.
"I can't believe you do too," Elizaveta smirked. "Well? What are you going to do now? Who should be the first hypocrite and liar of the two of us?"
The corner of Gilbert's mouth twitched in humor. "You're right. I need to set an awesome example for you." He humorously tugged at Elizaveta's hair. "If I kiss you first, I can keep my promise and you can keep yours. You're technically receiving, not giving."
"Too true," Elizaveta whispered.
"Or we can wait till later," Gilbert said. "Save the awesome moment for another time—or not." One look at Elizaveta's indignant face made him change his mind. He chuckled and came closer, holding on to Elizaveta's hand tightly—
The door swung open. Gilbert and Elizaveta jumped in shock, bumping their heads and falling back onto the bed. Gilbert scrambled up, flustered.
"Antonio! Francis! Get out!" Gilbert yelled.
"She said yes! She said yes! Dios mio, she said yes!" Antonio cheered as Gilbert shoved him out the door. He and Francis celebrated loudly as Gilbert kicked them out and slammed the door shut, locking it.
"I can't believe I gave both of them spare keys to my house," he muttered. "I can't believe I did that."
He turned back to Elizaveta, who was bright red. He let out an exasperated groan. He chuckled weakly and sat back down next to Elizaveta.
"I don't even know how they snuck under the West radar. He wouldn't ever let them inside the house." He rubbed his chin. "I hope they didn't tie him up and throw him in the basement. Nah—West could beat them up easily. Sorry about that."
"It's all right," Elizaveta said faintly, feeling the back of her neck grow extremely warm. She stared down at the carpet awkwardly. Now what were they supposed to do?
"Just a minute," Gilbert said. He dropped to the ground and fished out a wooden sword from under the bed. He stalked to the door and threw it open. Francis and Antonio, who were leaning against the door in hopes to eavesdrop, tumbled inside.
"ATTACK!" Gilbert yelled, raising his sword and chasing after them.
"Sacre bleu! Retreat from the lovesick Prussian! Retreat!" Francis cried out as he and Antonio stumbled down the stairs and narrowly escaped Gilbert. The front door slammed shut, signifying the withdrawal of Antonio and Francis.
Gilbert hurried back to Elizaveta, tossing the sword back under the bed and locking the door. He threw open the curtains of his window and laughed at the sight of his friends' retreating backs.
"That'll teach them never to mess with the Prussian Army!" Gilbert said jubilantly.
"I can't believe you still have that sword," Elizaveta giggled. "I still have mine, but I don't know where it is." She glanced down at the guitar next to Gilbert's canvas chair. "You know that song you were singing before I came in? Sing it again, but this time, not in German."
Gilbert stepped back, startled. "Why do you want to know about it?"
"It was pretty. I want to enjoy it in its entirety, though."
"It's better in German," Gilbert grumbled.
"To you, everything is better in German."
"I know, right?"
Elizaveta rolled her eyes. "Come on, Gilbert. It can't be embarrassing, can it? I've known you all my life; this can't be any worse than any other time."
Gilbert bit the corner of his lip. "Fine." He took his guitar from the ground and sat down next to Elizaveta. "No German? German's a better language."
"No," Elizaveta urged. Gilbert shrugged and began to sing.
"She sits across the room
I can't hear what she says
But I can see how her green eyes gleam
And how her laughter spreads
I can't get it out of my head
Because it's my favorite song."
Elizaveta realized that the song was definitely much lovelier in this language than German.
"Green eyes, can't you see
The green-eyed monster you make out of me
When you're with your other friends?
It's plain enough to see
That the girl I once rejected
Is now the girl of my dreams
But I'm too proud to say, so I pretend
That she means nothing to me
She's my worst enemy
And my best friend
She drives me up the wall
Our quarrels never end
She always makes me upset
She's such a pain in the neck
And every time we meet
My heart skips a beat.
Oh, Eliza, if only you could know
How I really feel about you.
Oh, Eliza, why can't you see?
What you're doing to me…"
Gilbert strummed the last note, his voice trailing away. Just as he lifted his head to Elizaveta, she moved forward and kissed him. Gilbert jolted in shock but closed his eyes and kissed back. The guitar slid to the ground, unnoticed by any of them. Elizaveta pulled herself closer to Gilbert, her heart soaring and her mind screaming, You're kissing Gilbert, Elizaveta. You're kissing your childhood best friend and oh my God this is so awkward but you're not even thinking about stopping. Elizaveta Héderváry, YOU ARE KISSING GILBERT BEILSCHMIDT.
Gilbert broke apart from her, his cheeks slightly pink.
"And you said you didn't give out free kisses," Gilbert teased.
"I don't," Elizaveta said. Gilbert lifted an eyebrow as Elizaveta smiled devilishly.
"I promise you, Eliza, I don't have any more tapes of Antonio and Lovino—"
"That's not it," Elizaveta said. "I haven't even watched the first one yet. Surprising, I know." Her eyes sparkled hungrily. "You've got two choices."
"Okay, shoot," Gilbert said.
"Either you help me prod Ludwig on in declaring his undying love for Feliciano by prom," Elizaveta said, smiling eagerly, "or you kiss me one more time."
Without hesitation, Gilbert kissed her on the lips. Elizaveta wasn't a bit disappointed.
Thanks so much to all who reviewed this story and added this story to their favorites list! It really means a lot to me~
Writing is seriously my only purpose in life because I can't do anything else to save my life. Thanks to all who keep my purpose in life going!
It's possible that I may make a sequel for this story. It might actually even have some historical content in it!
It will not be a humor story. In fact, it will be quite the opposite.
Yes? No? Scrap the idea? Give me the first chapter first? Please tell me what you want.
Thanks for reading!