*Just a quick mini story to tie some loose ends together before the finale
“It’s so cold!” Heidi shrieked as she was thrown into the frigid water. Wedding drama long forgotten, it was Monday night and Heidi, Axel, and his friends were sneaking into the University pool after hours. And unlike all the other times, she had told Jamie and the rest of the girls beforehand.
“Do you want to get us caught?” Axel’s roommate said in hushed German.
“Sorry” Heidi said “I wasn’t expecting it”. Heidi was the only member of the group not from Germany so she figured it would be easier if she just spoke their language.
She was about to say something else when someone grabbed her legs, hoisted her up and threw her further into the pool. Heidi screamed again and was silenced by a hand over her mouth.
“You have to be more careful, liebe” Axel said “This is the second time you’ve lost your balance tonight.”
“I didn’t lose my balance” Heidi said “You threw me”
Axel played innocent “I don’t know what you’re talking ab—“ Heidi cut him off by splashing him in the face.
“Two can play at that game” he said, moving towards her. As he was about to splash her, one of the guys ambushed him from behind and pretty soon, an entire war broke out. The boys got really into it and there were many times when they caught Heidi off guard. She was at a disadvantage, being the only girl and being the smallest, but through a series of secret alliances, she managed to come out on top.
“Remind me why we did this again” Heidi said, towel drying her hair. “Because it’s fun” Axel said.
“Yeah” his roommate, who became known to Heidi as Ansel said “We wanted to have one last good time before—“ A sharp look from Axel cut him off.
“Before what?” Heidi asked, now fully dressed. She looked at Axel expectantly and swore she saw him take a small step back. All the other boys had left, seeing the tension between the two.
“Before we leave” Axel said quietly
“You’re leaving?” Heidi asked. Axel nodded. Immediately tears sprang to her eyes. “When?” she asked, swallowing her tears.
“In a few days”
“I can’t do this” Heidi said, picking up her towel and the rest of her stuff “I have to go”
“Heidi—“ Axel called after, but Heidi was already running away from him. She was determined not to let him see her cry.
She ran across the field but he was too fast and easily caught up with her, grabbing her arm. “Heidi” he said again, trying to get her attention.
“How long have you known?” He didn’t answer. She didn’t even care that her stuff was now on the grass, instead of in her hands.
“I wasn’t going to stay here forever, Heidi”. That hit her hard. Because she thought he was going to stay. Even as the thought of him leaving loomed in the back of her mind, she still thought he was going to stay.
“But” she said softly “You just got here”. She couldn’t hold back the tears anymore and they ran down her face.
“I know” he said, wiping her tears “But I have to go back”
“For Bayern?” she asked, hope in her voice. But she saw the look on his face and knew the answer.
“No” he said, even though she already knew “I’m going back to enlist”
“Coward” she hissed at him. He looked at her, stunned.
“Heidi, you don’t understand”
“No I understand alright” Heidi said, backing away “You’re afraid to stand up to your father and you’re giving up on your dream to live out his. You are a coward, Axel.”
She could see the hurt written on his face, but it was too late to take back what she said. “I have to do this, Heidi” he said weakly.
“You are many things, Axel” Heidi said “But I never thought you were weak. Until now”. And at the same time, they both turned away, walking in opposite directions.
Heidi spent twenty minutes sitting in her car. She had no energy to start it and drive away. Axel was leaving her. Axel was leaving her. Axel was leaving her and there was nothing she could do about it. And she handled it just like she handled everything else, poorly. He was leaving her and she had left him on terrible terms. She had to make things right with him, she just had to.
She knocked on the door to his room three times before Ansel answered it. He quickly ushered Heidi inside and left. Axel knew she came in, but he didn’t look up. He sat on his bed with his head down, legs wide apart, forearms resting on his legs, hands clasped. Heidi sat down next to him. He still didn’t move. Pushing away the thought of leaving the room, Heidi wrapped her arms around his middle and hugged him tightly. He tensed for a moment before turning and hugging her back.
“I’m sorry” she said into his shirt. She was crying now. If he could feel her tears soak through to his skin, he didn’t let on. Instead he held her tightly, like he was afraid to let go.
“I know, leibe” he said “I know.” That only made Heidi sob harder.
“You’re leaving me” she said softly, through her tears. She didn’t even know why she said it, it just slipped out. But she knew it was true. Axel was leaving her.
He released his grip on her and tried to pry her arms off of him. She held on tight, refusing to let go. “No, liebe” he said.
“Yes you are” Heidi said, hysterical “You’re leaving me just like everybody else left me” She let out a loud sob and cried her eyes out into his shirt. He soothingly stroked her back and hair with one hand while holding her tight with her other hand.
“I would never leave you, liebe” he said, after a few minutes when she had calmed down. She loosened her grip and looked up at him.
“You’re leaving me right now” she said, watching tears fall from her eyes and hit his shirt, making small dark circles.
“No, Heidi” he said “I’m going away for a little while, but I’m not leaving you. Not now, not ever.” He snaked an arm around her and moved her onto his lap. She rested her head on his shoulder and breathed deeply.
“Am I going to see you?” she asked in a whisper.
“Of course, liebe” Axel said.
“As often as I can”
“You won’t forget me?”
“I’ll never forget you”
“Even if you meet a million other girls?”
“Good” Heidi said. She yawned softly and snuggled deeper into his chest. Suddenly she was sleepy. So sleepy that she could barely keep her eyes open. Axel tightened his arms around her and Heidi sank into him, closing her eyes.
Axel looked at the girl asleep in his arms and sighed. What was he going to do? He was leaving in a few days. He knew she was disappointed in him for submitting to his father but what were his other options? He had left Germany knowing he was going to enlist when he returned but how could he tell her that? How could he tell her that the only reason he ran away was to see her one last time before he joined the army? How could he tell her that? He didn’t know. But he knew one thing for sure. He would never forget her. Not for a million other girls in the world.
*Comment with ‘leaving’ if you read the entire thing xoxoxo