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Author Topic: Birthday Girl  (Read 433 times)

Re: Birthday Girl
« Reply #15 on: May 26, 2020, 09:28:05 PM »
Bertholdt didn’t protest her presence, nor her proximity.  After stammering her name, he crossed his arms over her almost tentatively, as though she were a particularly unpredictable and notoriously vicious cat basking in his lap.  Which wasn’t all that far from the truth.  Vaguely, Annie wondered if he was still blushing, and decided he almost certainly was.  That stirred a strangely triumphant feeling inside her.

There was something to be said for leaving endings unread.  ‌“I guess we’re just pages in someone else’s book,” Annie mumbled, resting her hands against his forearms.  ‌“And none of us get to see the end.”  There was something comforting in that, something that fed her sense of nihilism.  At the very least - as long as they didn’t make any major mistakes in the next few years - the end of their chapter was still a way off.  On this occasion, she didn’t spare a thought for all those whose stories would be cut short, as a result of their actions.  There was no point.

For someone who proactively tried to spend as much time as possible alone, Annie ached for them to go home together.  Her heart still hurt for Marcel, for the day their quad had become a trio.  ‌“I bet they erect a statue of all three of us, if we pull this off,” she murmured, drinking Bertholdt in.  He smelt good; she hated that she noticed that.  ‌“Yours will be about thirteen feet tall.  Reiner’s will be bursting out of his shirt.  They’ll fix my nose.”  It was an idle daydream, and almost certainly a fallacy, but Annie allowed herself to indulge for once.  She relaxed against the raven-haired boy, melting with his heat.  ‌“Am I crushing you?”  There was an irony to that question that was not lost on Annie, and the answer was assuredly no.  She was a fraction of his size, and her thick hoodie likely softened any hard, bony angles of her body. « Last Edit: May 27, 2020, 12:13:26 AM by Annie Leonhardt »
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Re: Birthday Girl
« Reply #16 on: May 27, 2020, 04:11:22 PM »
Bertholdt settled more comfortably into holding Annie, enjoying the idea of such a thing more than anything. "Mm.." His mumbled response was all he felt comfortable releasing, as she mused about them being in someone else's story. The person that held the Coordinate could just be toying with them, at the very least, they had to know about the Warriors presence on the island. It was a deeply disturbing prospect to think that all of their lives were simply the playthings of a far more powerful being on the planet.

"You're statue wouldn't be half as tall as mine.." He joked, his smile replacing the blushed, nervous grimace he had attained when she clambered over to him. "We will be heroes to the world.. just like Reiner had wanted." It was the sourest of feelings, thinking of the future. If they made it home, everyone would want to know the glory of their mission, how they had valiantly toppled the king of the Island Devils, and how Marcel had heroically sacrificed himself for the cause. The problem, is that no one would want to hear about what actually happened. The horrific things they had done to their fellow Eldians, the stress mounting on them in titanic proportions, the era of genocide they had ushered in to a people with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

"No, Annie, you don't weigh hardly anything.." He remarked, finding her inquiry almost laughable. She was much shorter than him, and weighed only a portion of his own mass. Her cold hands resting on his forearms felt bizarre, due to his body almost constantly running at a very high temperature. She probably thought he felt strange, and would pull away from him any second now. Despite this, Bertholdt did something that would almost certainly be considered a jinx to the dreamlike scenario he found himself in, when he uttered the calming words, "This is nice..."
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Re: Birthday Girl
« Reply #17 on: May 27, 2020, 08:41:32 PM »
The jest about her short stature - and statue - earned Bertholdt a light dig in the ribs.  Annie didn’t take offence, but she could scarcely let his joke pass without some form of response. 

‌“Heroes…” she muttered, sounding sceptical.  What an almighty reception they would have if they returned victorious.  The parade before they left for Paradis had been bad enough, with all those expectant eyes trained on them, a mere handful of children.  Instead of dwelling on the discomfort, and the very human price that would need to be paid for them to return to Marley, she shifted her mind to a happier image conjured by Bertholdt’s words.  One of Reiner, beaming like an idiot, all his wildest dreams fulfilled.  Although it mighn’t be obvious, Annie wanted that for him.  Success was the best they could hope for.  It was, at the very least, the fastest and most reliable route home.

Which brought her to another troublesome train of thought.  Annie had to wonder if her father had meant his words, that he just wanted her back whether she met her objective or not.  As much as she wanted to believe him, it was something she still struggled with and, until she saw him again, she couldn’t be sure.  By comparison, she imagined Bertholdt’s family had likely been proud of him from the moment of his birth.  Even without being a Warrior, he was a strong, wholesome and compassionate sort; everything a parent could hope for in a child.  Comely too, with green eyes shining bright with intelligence, the planes and angles of his kind face carrying a certain nobility.  Not that she would ever admit that out loud.

This is nice…

The world was tranquil and still, a certain peacefulness growing with the shadows.  It was nice, just like the boy who held her.  Annie felt a certain pang, knowing the world was rarely kind to those with gentle hearts.

‌“It is…” she whispered in agreement, quietly savouring every second that ticked by.  Contentment like this never lasted long.  ‌“You made today into… something.”  The day had been entirely ordinary until Bertholdt appeared, armed with gifts and a warm, wide smile.  Annie felt compelled to make his next birthday just as special, though she would surely fail, even with months to plan.  Perhaps it would be for the best, if she disappointed him.  Nothing good could come from growing too fond.  Except it was difficult to convince herself of that, when the sheer simplicity of sitting here with him was such a gift.  Annie turned her head, pressing her cheek to his chest, shrinking away from the night that bloomed around them to focus instead on the flesh and blood next to her.

‌“I can feel your heartbeat,” she murmured.  The organ was likely the size of both her fists combined, and it beat steady, strong, fierce and fast.  Her face felt warm again, she noticed with a flicker of annoyance, and she was distantly aware that - if they were seen - the rumour mill would be in overdrive by breakfast time.  Not that she cared what people thought.  Sliding her hands down Bertholdt’s forearms, she began to fidget with his hands, placing her thumbs in the wells of his palms, and unfurling his long, strong fingers.  She marvelled at their size, especially when compared with her own, and wondered again just how he had managed the neat, delicate stitching on those gloves.  ‌“Are you nervous?” « Last Edit: May 27, 2020, 08:53:29 PM by Annie Leonhardt »
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Re: Birthday Girl
« Reply #18 on: May 28, 2020, 02:43:14 AM »
The jab into Bertholdt's ribs felt like little more than a tap, informing Bert that she didn't truly mind his comment on her height. If she was truly mad, he had no doubt she'd crack his ribs for real.

Her comment that he had made her birthday into something meaningful brought back the blush in full force, but not for the same reasons as earlier. Now, instead of embarrassment for feeling a certain way about the small blonde cadet, he possessed a strange feeling of embarrassment on Annie's behalf. It seemed, at least from his point of view, that she was over exaggerating his gesture, making it out to be more than just the gifts he had meant for them to be. She had taken them so well, even called them the nicest thing anyone had done for her. Maybe she truly meant that as genuinely as it had sounded.

Bert's arms around her grew both more at ease, as well as more secure. They settled in a natural fixture, where he could relax in just as dainty a manner as her. His palms opened up for her little hands to explore. The idea that he had managed to make Annie happy on her birthday, and to this extend no less, was a gladly accepted one, but it brought a troubling memory to the forefront his mind.

Around 6 months prior, when Bertholdt had celebrated his own 17th birthday, he'd only recognized it for his own sake. He didn't expect Reiner or Annie either to acknowledge or give him presents of any sort, but now, it made him wonder. He had always been the most silent Warrior, save for Annie herself. But when Annie tended to ignore everyone and everything around her in the silence she maintained, Bertholdt observed, took mental notes, and discovered things nobody else bothered with. His thought at that moment, was that he clearly knew more about Annie and Reiner than they knew about him. That wasn't to say he was a mystery to his partners, only that his reserved nature came with a few unexpected results.

Did Annie even know when his birthday was? Did Reiner? It wasn't like the Marleyan government let their most powerful weapons have parties to commemorate such events, but still. Bertholdt had listened to everything going on around him for his entire life, including the smallest details he could pick up on... like her birthday.

Bert then shook his head lightly, feeling irritated with himself for having such a negative thought in such a blissful moment. It was something he should've expected from himself.

"Not anymore nervous than I should be.." He answered, staring off at the horizon, now painted with dark purples, violets, and blues. The moon would emerge soon, the sunlight, or what was left of it, was disappearing, just like their time together. "Beautiful..." He murmured, watching the final rays of light get etched out by the nebulous navy sky. Whether she interpreted his comment as being about the sky, or herself, was a decision Annie would have to make on her own. Bertholdt felt content, no matter what she chose, he'd be fine with it.
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Re: Birthday Girl
« Reply #19 on: May 28, 2020, 07:32:54 AM »
Not anymore nervous than I should be.

Another smooth answer from the tall Warrior. It seemed that the more strain their contingent was put under - between Reiner's fractured mind, and her own disinterest - the more gathered, capable and confident Bertholdt became. It occurred to Annie then that he was the glue that kept them together and focused on the task in hand. If they met the objective, it would largely be by the sweat off his own back.

Beautiful...

That caught her off-guard and, for a brief instant, she froze, her breath seizing in her lungs. ‌"Tsk," Annie tutted softly in reflex, thinking at first that he had somehow meant her. Beauty was in the eye of the beholder, but she would question the eyesight of anyone who attributed such a descriptor to her. Her sour expression did her no favours, she realised, and neither did the striking nose that dominated her face. The curves and lines of her body were hidden beneath layers of fabric; proud as she was of its strength, and her ability to bring down combatants twice her size, she was deeply uncomfortable with its softness. To top it all off, she had a bad attitude, not even possessing a suitably redeeming personality. Not that it mattered. She was a weapon, not a doll.

Yet somehow Bertholdt was still here, talking to her, and she was glad of that.

Did he pity her? Suddenly, Annie felt suspicious. If she was uncharitable, she might even be able to convince herself that he was being this nice to her because she was the only Warrior in Paradis with tits.  They were soldiers, but they weren't immune to all the challenges and urges that came with teenage years, and getting close to the native Eldians was a dangerous game. Otherwise he would surely be trying his luck with Krista Lenz. In the small, blonde category of cadets, she took the crown every time. Not even Reiner seemed immune to her charms. But Bertholdt was Bertholdt and, outside of their mission, he had never shown himself to be duplicitous or scheming. She hated that she had even considered the possibility.

It was only after stumbling through this confusing myriad of thoughts that Annie scalded herself on the realisation he was probably talking about the picturesque twilight.

She was an idiot.

‌"If we're quick, we might just catch this sky over the lake," Annie muttered and, with a brief flicker of reluctance, she released Bertholdt's hands and peeled herself away from him, climbing agilely to her feet. The earth had made her hips and legs feel stiff. ‌"Then I'm going to call it a night. I'm… cold." That was a lie, and a bad one. How could she be cold, when Bertholdt was so inherently warm? His heat had almost made her drowsy and, robbed of it, she now felt the chill in the evening air.

With swift, purposeful movements, she retrieved the gloves and foot guards, smoothing the wrapping paper around them carefully and slipping the package into the large pocket of her hooded sweatshirt. The box - still containing the remnants of the muffin - she tucked under an arm.

‌"Are you coming?" Annie asked flatly, scrambling for her usual composure. She extended her free hand to him to help him up, planting her feet firmly so as to be able to bear his weight if he took her hand. « Last Edit: May 28, 2020, 08:20:30 AM by Annie Leonhardt »
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Re: Birthday Girl
« Reply #20 on: May 28, 2020, 05:13:07 PM »
The feeling of Annie slipping away from his immediate vicinity brought on a mild but noticeable sensation of discomfort. Even as she stood, she was barely above the top of his head, so when she extended a hand, he gladly accepted, rising to his feet beside her.

"Yeah, I bet the water looks incredible." His voice had a soft edge to it. He realized how absurd the current situation he was in was. They were both responsible for the razing of these lands. The past, present, and future deaths on this island were at least partially their fault. And yet, here they were, going together to witness the eerie gracefulness of a lake, encompassed within the territory of land that would soon be the home of thousands of titans, all thanks to their Warrior Operation.

Bertholdt began walking to the site of their last moonlit encounter, pushing past the occasional low hanging tree branch on the way. Soon, they were there, and the sight was more majestic than he'd imagined. The water was so clear it created almost a perfect mirror image of the sky above it. "Wow.." Bert mumbled, the purplish strokes evident both above and below the expansive valley.

Nothing in Liberio was this amazing to look at. The nation of Marley was too advanced that smoke and pollution blocked out much of the night sky. Not even to mention the water. The Marleyan Harbor was almost a sickly green, such a contrast to the clear, fresh water of these lakes and ponds. "It's a shame we didn't bring any camera equipment..." He added, looking to the girl beside him. Obviously, doing such a thing would out them immediately, seeing as the people of Paradis hadn't yet developed such technology.

The Cadet Corps wouldn't last forever, once they were out, it was onto the next step in their plan, and moments like this would likely cease altogether.

"Annie.." He spoke her name like it was a breath of fresh air into his lungs. "What... is this?" Bertholdt ambiguously questioned her, referring to the state of things between the two of them, but realizing moments later just how poorly he'd phrased the inquiry.
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Re: Birthday Girl
« Reply #21 on: May 28, 2020, 11:48:29 PM »
Bertholdt’s hand swallowed her own as he climbed to his feet, positively towering over Annie.  Low branches didn’t bother the diminutive blonde in the same way they did him, as the pair picked a path through the thickets, towards the clearing; though she had her fair share of snagging, prickling brambles to contend with.  Above them, the canopy was budding with new leaves and small flowers, and the undergrowth was thicker and lusher than before.  Last time they were out here winter had still been holding fast, but spring had now undeniably arrived.

The view was worth the short, rugged walk.  The sun was lost to them now, taking with it its heat, all shades of orange and peach having bled away, fading into colours much colder and more befitting of twilight.  Bertholdt was right about the lake waters.  They were like glass, as still as a mill pond, reflecting celestial streaks of purple and navy.  When the stars came out, it would surely look as though one could step into the water only to fall into the night sky.  It really was a shame they hadn’t brought any camera equipment.

Perhaps it was thoughts of brevity and short-lived chances that compelled Bertholdt to speak.

Annie… what… is this?

She stiffened, feeling she knew what he was implying, and would have known by the shape and sound of her name alone.  Several possible responses skittered through her mind; she could blandly and literally describe the topography of the landscape ahead of them, or kick him hard and fast in the shin - for springing this question on her when he was the one who had come bearing heartbreakingly thoughtful gifts and smooth words - or she could settle for an old favourite and simply brand him an idiot under her breath.  The silence stretched for a long moment, Annie regarding Bertholdt levelly from behind loose strands of blonde hair.  General Magath would have their hides for fraternisation.  Maybe Reiner would too.

‌“A mistake, probably…” she muttered at last, not meaning to sound cruel.  If only to buy herself a moment, to give her something to do now that her hands had been evicted from her pockets, Annie gave a small stone a kick, sending it soaring over the cliff edge and down into the brush far below.  ‌“I don’t know,” she admitted, trying again, digging deep to find something sincere to offer the green-eyed boy standing by her side.  He deserved honesty, at the very least.

‌“Much of my time passes in a fog.  I just don’t… care.  The things that matter most to other people don’t interest me much.  The boredom is endless.  Some days I wonder who I am, or if I’m even a person at all.”  Annie wasn’t looking at Bertholdt anymore, her gaze stubbornly fixed on the dark lake she suddenly yearned to dive into.  The water would be frigid and deep, so cold her breath would freeze in her lungs.  How blissful.  ‌“But… I feel something when I’m with you.  I like you, Bertl.  You deserve so much more than the shitshow we’ve been corralled into.”  Annie at last fell into silence, fingertips tracing the smooth edges of the box.  ‌“But why am I answering the question, hm?  Are you all out of lines, ladykiller?” « Last Edit: May 29, 2020, 12:11:37 AM by Annie Leonhardt »
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Re: Birthday Girl
« Reply #22 on: May 29, 2020, 05:05:00 AM »
A mistake, probably...

Those words hit Bertholdt like a wet bag of cement. Not entirely painful, but if he waited long enough, it'd probably break him down. Thankfully, she didn't stop talking there, and quickly repealed his first reaction.

"You're still someone Annie, at least to me." He offered a small condolence in place of any argument to her points. "It isn't your fault we were made to do this." It wasn't, it was the fault of the Marleyan government, who decided forcing children into becoming the perpetrators of mass genocide was a good idea, so long as they got what they wanted in the end.

"I... like you too." Bert mumbled lowly, unsure if she'd even heard him. The red in his face was thankfully being masked by the lack of sunlight. "I have for.. a long time." It felt more than embarrassing to admit his long-held feelings for her. It made hum feel like he was exposing himself in a way he never had before.

Bertholdt remembered his parents making a side comment to him a few days before he departed on the mission to the island. 'Try not to get too distracted by that pretty girl' his father had said. Of course, it was embarrassing at the time, but he found soon after he couldn't fulfill that request. He had become too invested in his fellow Warriors, had spent too much time with them. A bond existed between them, not even to mention the fact that they were all hormonal teenagers now.

He snorted, and commented, "You're funny." It wasn't a sarcastic remark at her unfitting nickname for him, he was speaking genuinely. "I think if you opened yourself up more often you'd be more comfortable in your own skin." Bert could capably recognize the irony in telling someone else to open up more, and even more so in being comfortable in their own skin. He hated himself sometimes, and occasionally, he even hated his own appearance. The first time he'd seen his titan scars, he almost vomited. They were far more telling than anyone else's. The rest of the warriors only really had streaks running across their faces once they exited their Titan. Bertholdt, on the other hand, looked just like the Colossus, like a monster. He hated it.

"When we get home, remind me to buy you an ice cream." He said, turning away from the lake and looking down at her, his smile ever present. "If we have something to look forward to, it'll make time pass faster."
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Re: Birthday Girl
« Reply #23 on: May 29, 2020, 05:53:57 PM »
You're still someone Annie, at least to me.

Forget the icy waters of the lake that lapped against the peripheries of her mind, those words made her chest seize. Not just a soldier, a Warrior, a uniform, a number, a nobody. Not just a daughter, an unreliable friend, a quiet and stern-faced girl with gaping chasms of darkness inside her. But someone.

Annie was still reeling inwardly when Bertholdt spoke again, rocking her with every word that passed his lips. His voice was low and soft in the quiet of the twilight, delivering the revelation that he had liked her for a long time, that he thought she was funny. The tall, green-eyed boy had always been kind, had always been willing to share his rations with his comrades, had always been observant and thoughtful. It had been easy to believe he was simply that way with everyone, even if his soulful gaze sometimes lingered on her, as though he saw through the walls she had built, as though he saw through every shrug and scowl. She turned to him now, pulling her focus from the dim valley to Bertholdt's open, honest face.

I think if you opened yourself up more often you'd be more comfortable in your own skin.

Sage advice, albeit coming from one undeniably reserved. Bertholdt had mastered the art of giving a lot while revealing little. Annie understood there was much they still had to learn about one other but, after over a decade of enduring camaraderie, they knew enough.

The conversation took a light-hearted, hopeful turn at the mention of ice-cream. Those green eyes were trained on her now, fondness written into Bertholdt's warm smile. Annie buckled, her gaze dropping, choosing a spot on his shirt to focus on. Standing toe-to-toe, she scarcely reached his sternum; she errantly thought about grabbing a fistful of that fabric and pulling him down to her. Forcing herself to meet his eye again, she hooked loose blonde hair behind an ear, a barely-there smile catching the corners of her mouth. No hiding. Not here. Not tonight.

‌"I'd really like that…" Annie whispered. ‌"Can it be the first thing we do, when we get off the boat?" It sounded like a joke, but she was serious. Ahead of being reunited with her father, ahead of any recognition or reward, she wanted to stand in the sunshine with Bertholdt, with the taste of vanilla and cream cold on their tongues. For now, she spared no thought for all the blood they would need to spill to make that happen.

There was that yearning feeling again, an unfamiliar and burgeoning desire. He was smiling at her, all kindness and courage and quiet strength. A kiss might ruin it. She might ruin it. She didn't know how to be sweet, or gentle, or any of the things that girls were thought to be. It didn't seem like that mattered though, Bertholdt wasn't asking for her to change, and he knew what she was - more so than anyone else.

With purposeful movements, Annie set the box on the ground beside them. Like hell was she taking the chance of it slipping through her fingers, and the evening ending with her eating cake crumbs out of the grass. She had meant it when she said the muffin was too good to waste.

Fluttery feelings of doubt evaporated, replaced by the same eerie calm that came when she had set her mind to something. Straightening, she skimmed her hands lightly over Bertholdt's chest, up towards his shoulders. Even through the layers of fabric, he felt warm and, somewhere beneath her palms, his heart was beating strong. That feral, defensive part of Annie's mind unhelpfully told her she could catch him off-guard, and sweep his legs out from under him. It was almost tempting, if only to bring him down to her height.

‌"Can you meet me halfway?" Annie asked quietly, steadily. ‌"Or are you going to make me climb?"
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Re: Birthday Girl
« Reply #24 on: May 29, 2020, 08:11:10 PM »
If someone was watching the pair of them, in the secluded overview they found themselves in, Bertholdt was sure he'd either melt into the cliff face, or he'd spontaneously combust. Hopefully everyone else had already scuttled off to their cabins to socialize and hit the hay.

"Yeah, It'll be the very first thing we do.." He nodded in agreement, looking forward to that day. He could feel in his heart that one day it would come for them, a nice afternoon to just sit, and watch the world turn. Before that could happen though, they'd need to watch the world burn.

Assuming they didn't receive any sort of punishments for taking so long to retrieve the Coordinate, he could only guess that Commander Magath would allow them a breather following what they'd gone through here. He'd surely give them an earful, but he did show much more leniency to them after they'd inherited the Titans and become Honorary Citizens of Marley.

When she asked about either climbing him or lowering down, he continued to hold a flushed face masked in the color red. He envisioned the two of them in their Titan forms, her climbing up the exposed muscles of his Colossal form, only to find he didn't have lips in that version of himself, only barred teeth. Likewise, he pictured the form of the Colossus bending over, only to tumble and fall on top of her.

"Don't climb me." He jokingly responded, lowering himself, taking a knee eventually. She now held a few inches on him, but not that many. "Uh.. I've never..." He trailed off, but he could obviously only be referring to one thing. Bertholdt wasn't entirely sure what he was telling her that for. It was highly unlikely she ever had either.
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Re: Birthday Girl
« Reply #25 on: May 29, 2020, 11:48:37 PM »
Annie hadn’t expected him to sink down on one knee, to come all the way to her lowly level.  Pleasantly surprised, she looped her arms languidly around Bertholdt’s neck, feeling a little more poised now that she had a couple of inches on him.  The faint smile was gone, but only because she concentrated on studying the details of his face, committing every feature to memory.

‌“I’ve never either,” she murmured in response, without a hint of embarrassment.  Even without a lack of desire, and her entirely unapproachable demeanour, opportunities were slim in the military.  Bertholdt would be forgiving and unjudging, she was sure, but still she hoped his expectations were low.

Saying anything else would be a needless delay; she didn’t want the window to stretch and for any hint of doubt to creep back in along with her mounting anticipation.  And so Annie went to Bertholdt willingly, wide blue eyes fluttering closed only at the last conceivable moment.  In the darkness, she bumped her nose clumsily against his, an apology dying on her tongue as she pressed her lips to his mouth.  The kiss was far more tender and chaste than she had expected of herself - and was likely more innocent than most others shared in this picturesque glen, the haunt of young sweethearts.  A small, barely audible sound rose in her throat and, unwilling to pull away, she instead leaned further into him.

Although it was brief, Annie’s eyes were still blown wide and dark by the time she pulled away.  The kiss - and the entire evening - had come unpredicted, and that was part of what made them perfect.  ‌“Bertholdt…” she breathed, savouring the shape and weight of his name.  It sounded different to her now, laden with an emotion she could not identify.  Vaguely aware of the heat in her cheeks, she could only hope the growing dark would disguise the flush of colour.  She did not wear blushes well, as they bloomed like roses on her pale skin.

Annie dipped her head, their breath mingling in the cool evening air.  Her fingers stroked against the back of Bertholdt’s neck, playing idly with his dark hair.  Part of her had hoped the kiss would dash her feelings or, at the very least, kill her curiosity.  Instead, all it had done was feed them. « Last Edit: May 29, 2020, 11:56:01 PM by Annie Leonhardt »
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Re: Birthday Girl
« Reply #26 on: May 30, 2020, 01:47:25 AM »
His eyelids drooped shut as she drew her face nearer to his, stifling a chuckle at their own awkwardness when their noses bumped. He pretty much followed her lead, copying every facial feature he could see her making up until he could see no more, and instead, could feel. As their lips finally met, becoming acquainted for the first time, his arms slid around her waist, hugging her close.

Kissing Annie was, surprisingly, a better experience than Bertholdt had ever imagined it could have been. It was like the warmest sensation he'd ever felt had emerged around his heart, and then melted away a like a marshmallow in a cup of hot-chocolate. Times a thousand. If he had to pick one moment from this night, which had already become the best night of his life by leagues and bounds, to relive over and over after he died, whenever that may be, it would be this one.

Of all the experiences Bertholdt hadn't expected to occur on this trip, kissing Annie on a beautiful cliff-top overlooking a majestic valley was surely near the top of the list. Yet, here he was, kneeling before the girl he'd been infatuated with for years, who he'd infiltrated a whole new world with. He didn't want to let her go, not now, not ever.

Alas, she'd probably rip off his arms and swat him off the cliff with them if he held too tightly for too long. She was still Annie, after all. Bert slowly, reluctantly, ended the kiss with her, his eyes as wide as hers, lips parted slightly. "That was..." Incredible, unforgettable, world-spinning, he had no shortage of ways to describe his feelings about what had transpired between them. That, in a way, is what silenced him. He had too many things to say, but knew opening his mouth anymore than necessary would likely ruin the whole moment.

He'd been teased by Reiner a few times about the longer glances he gave Annie, and he knew there was a reason for them. He'd been longing for her for years, but now... now that Bertholdt had finally reached through to her, he was experiencing a myriad of ideas, visions, and thoughts of them together. The kiss they shared had opened up the door for a plethora of things Bertholdt never knew he wanted. With Annie, he felt anything was possible now. Retaking the Founder, returning home for good, and getting the Ice Cream date he'd promised for her.
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Re: Birthday Girl
« Reply #27 on: May 30, 2020, 11:19:55 PM »
Bertholdt’s arms wrapped around her, pulling her into him as the lines between them bled.  Save perhaps those rare occasions when Reiner had slung his arms over his comrades’ shoulders, Annie couldn’t think of a time when anyone had been this close without intending to overpower or harm her.  A shiver rolled through her frame, her conflicted instincts caught somewhere between tensing in anticipation of a struggle that would not come, and the desire to melt into him and get drunk on his heat.  The latter won out.

When they parted, Bertholdt’s hold of her loosened, as though he knew that to hold her too tightly for too long would overwhelm her.  His sentence went unfinished and Annie tried to fill the blank.  Clumsy?  Awkward?  Cliché as all hell?  All of those were true, strictly speaking, but she knew that was not what he implied.  The weight of a hundred different powerful, emotive words lay heavy on her tongue, and in the end Annie could not choose one either.  ‌“I know…” she whispered; it was all she could manage. 

As glad as she was for the veil of darkness that allowed her to hide, it also kept some of the finer details of Bertholdt from her.  Were there any freckles or scars she had never noticed before?  Or any other colours that flecked his green eyes?  Instead of being able to tell, Annie saw those viridescent pools now reflected pinpoints of light from the awakening stars above.  She captured his face in her hands, thumbs catching the corners of his mouth as she kissed him again.  This time, bumped noses were avoided.

‌“You taste sweet, like muffin,” she murmured when she broke away, perching herself on his bent knee almost casually, as though she wasn’t feeling entirely out of her depth.  Even in a moment such as this, Bertholdt had not escaped her offbeat sense of humour completely.  ‌“You’re lucky I didn’t eat you.”  She hadn’t ever planned to kiss anyone once, let alone twice.  Even if she had, she would have expected it to taste of ash and fire and blood and all the awful things that tailed in her wake.

‌“We have to go back.”  Whether Annie meant Marley or the barracks, even she was not entirely certain.  Either way, their time in the clearing was growing short.  The longer they lingered and the higher the moon rose, the more likely it was some rebellious, giddy, amorous cadets would stumble across them.  Loudmouthed and bold, the least mature of them might openly flaunt necklaces of bruises tomorrow, their temporary collars a reminder of their not-so-secret rendezvous.  There were no marks exchanged between them, yet Annie still felt there were indelible traces of Bertholdt all over her, not least of all in the alien feelings he stirred within her.  Feelings that were at once primal and fierce, warm and soft, possessive and adoring.  She couldn’t take tonight back, not even if she wanted to.

‌“I’m… going to be really bad at this, you know,” Annie murmured, feeling a rare bloom of vulnerability at the thought of what the future might hold for them, and what it meant to be with someone.
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Re: Birthday Girl
« Reply #28 on: May 31, 2020, 02:40:45 AM »
Bertholdt had considered making a comment about the muffin residue on her lips after the first kiss they shared, but had decided against it, feeling he'd ruin the mood between them. When Annie uttered the words, though, he felt it enriched their experience. Yet another showcase of her lighthearted side, the subtle joke made him yearn to spend more time out here with her, but, alas, curfew was drawing closer with every passing second.

The second kiss she gave him was far more unexpected than the first. Bert wasn't prepared for it in any way, and his eyes widened completely as he tasted her lips once more. Her hands felt warmer than they had a few moments prior, as thought their body temperatures were reaching a thermal equilibrium. "Wow...." The only sound he could muster in that moment was the amazed sigh, his pupils spacing out slightly.

We have to go back

Those were the words he didn't want to hear, but he understood the reality of their situation. Time was the most precious commodity in their lives, and it would all tick away eventually. "Right.. I know." Bertholdt's tone was glum, as he rose from the ground, bringing Annie up with him until they were both on their feet once more.

Her confession was the funniest thing she'd said to him all night long. Bert strained to hold in a laugh, but responded quickly with an equal confession. "And.. you think I'm an expert? Annie, we are both walking this road for the first time." One of his hands reached down, clasping with hers. It was a bold move on his end, but Bert suspected she'd accept the gesture.

"There'll always be more nights for us to watch the lake together.." He admitted, his saddened expression taking a slight upturn. The thought of them spending more time together beyond this seemingly magical night was astounding, and provided a much needed light at the end of the tunnel for him.

"Let me at least walk you back to your cabin." The teen requested, his green irises shifting, providing a more comforting gaze for her to look upon as they held each other's eyes in contact. The night was all but over, but Bertholdt was determined now to squeeze out every last moment he could spend with her. They lived in an unpredictable world, despite his comforting words spoken just seconds earlier, there was no guarantee for a tomorrow. As long as they were on this island, there never would be.
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Re: Birthday Girl
« Reply #29 on: May 31, 2020, 05:56:18 PM »
Their time was short, and Bertholdt seemed as sorry about that fact as she was. He stood, bringing her with him, and now that they were on their feet he towered over her once more. There was something comforting and familiar to be found in standing within the green-eyed boy's shadow.

And... you think I'm an expert? Annie, we are both walking this road for the first time.

‌"Tsk," she tutted softly, though with the ghost of a smile on her lips. She soaked in the reassurance those words offered her. In this, as in all things, they would be together. As they had been from the earliest days of their training and candidateship, through bloody noses and bruises. Bertholdt was written into her, and his roots ran deep.

He took her hand then, her slender fingers scarcely filling the spaces between his own. There would be more nights at the lake, just as he said. There would be nights in places they had yet to see. All stolen moments, brief spells of respite, shared together. The fact that her gaze hadn't strayed to the lake or valley for quite some time was not lost on Annie.

Naturally, he was gallant enough to offer to walk her back to the dormitories. ‌"Sure," Annie agreed, almost managing to sound nonchalant, but inwardly grateful for the extra minutes this would grant them. She bent to retrieve the muffin box with her free hand, scarcely offering the valley a parting glance before they turned and began the walk back to the cabins.

To Annie it seemed there was a certain peace that shrouded them, as they followed the moonlit path, worn through the undergrowth by eager boots. She was quiet, her attention turned inward as she examined the feelings that bloomed in her chest, though she remained aware of the warmth of Bertholdt's hand, secretly enjoying the way it engulfed hers. Her grip tightened when the cabin loomed into view. It was over all too soon.

‌"I… don't normally like surprises," she murmured. Everything about this evening had caught her off-guard. ‌"But tonight was different." Annie still hadn't let go of his hand, as she turned to peer up at him. Vaguely, she wondered if he would tell Reiner, and decided she didn't mind either way. Just as she didn't care if they were seen now, lingering in the shadows, their hands linked.
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