You couldn't pinpoint the exact second, hour or day that Bertholdt's kisses began tasting like cherries rather than vinegar and blood, but the change had occurred. Even his once unappealing, feverous bear hugs now seemed like nothing more than typical loving embraces. At some point in time, you stopped flinching and started reciprocating, even wanting. When you first realized how much you had adapted to your environment, it frightened you to no end. But now...
Now it just felt right. You didn't feel guilty nor stupid when you silenced the section in your mind that was still desperately screaming. Screaming for you to open your eyes, screaming for you to get out of Bertholdt's grip.
It became easier and easier to hush your thoughts as the happy days ticked on.
When you woke up in the early hours of what you guessed was a Wednesday morning, you were pleasantly surprised at what you heard. Or, more what you didn't hear. The heavy rain that had drowned the outside grass and pounded hard at the rooftop day and night after day and night had ceased into a gentle drizzle, as though it was slowing to a stop. You smiled in satisfaction as you stretched into a sitting position. Sure, when your blankets slipped down off your torso, your thinly-veiled body was hit with what felt like a million ice bullets, but it was worth it. Once your brain had awakened a tad more, you stumbled over to your window and opened it, allowing the cool night breeze to dance in.
Due to the heaviness of the rainfalls, the air in the house had been completely sealed. The windows and the front door were simply never opened due to the fact that litres of droplets would have flown inside within seconds. It was beyond lovely to feel the stuffy days-old air in your room to be fully replaced with chilly freshness.
When the rains had started a week ago, the crazy part of your mind thought it was the world mourning you, mourning your life that would soon be bound to Bertholdt's. But you knew that it was just marking the beginning of a new era.
By this stage, your eyes were wide open and your body fully awake and alert. You knew sleep wouldn't come back tonight. You sighed as you closed the window, satisfied that the cool gusty winds had cleared out all the stifled air from days past.
Humming an unnameable tune, you began walking out of your room and down the hall to Bertholdt's. You knew he'd be fast asleep at this time of the night, but you were bored and cold. You pulled your nightdress up to your knees with your fists to give your legs more freedom as they strolled.
You knocked on Bertholdt's thick wood door with two dainty taps of your knuckles.
You heard a sleepy muffled "mamma?" from inside, an invitation to enter, which you accepted with a lover's haste.
"Hi..." You whispered as you crept over to the green bed.
"What's wrong (y/n)?" Bertholdt yawned. "You feel okay? Did something happen?"
"Nah. I was just bored. And cold." You giggled like a child when Bertholdt groaned in response.
"(Y/n), I love you, but it’s the middle of the night. I need my sleep, as you do."
Taking that as an invite, you jumped up onto the bed. The mattress groaned under your sudden weight. This made Bertholdt sit up and face you.
"(Y/n). What have I told you?"
"Hmm? Told me? About what?" You cocked your head to one side and grinned like a child.
"About being in my bed."
You groaned and rolled your eyes. Bertholdt, the cruel fiancé that he was, had enforced a physical segregation between the both of you, limiting your interactions to little more than hand-holding, friendly hugs and innocent kisses.
"Why, Bert? Why are you trying to separate us? You're so warm and it's so cold outside!" You whined.
"Because, (y/n). Because it’s what's... right. We're getting married soon, and it’s not traditionally suitable for us to share a bed." Though the room was too dark to see the changes in Bertholdt's cheeks, but you knew he was turning pink. He was so cute and shy.
After a few minutes of him resisting and you begging, he finally gave up and wrapped those strong, warm arms of his around you. You smiled and kissed his cheek, causing his face to burn even brighter.
"(Y/n) it's not that difficult..." Bertholdt laughed as he saw you tripping over your feet.
"It is! What is this cruel torture?" You wailed, ripping your hand away from his, balling the fabric of your long skirt in your hands like a toddler.
"It's called dancing, darling. From what I've heard, most ladies are meant to enjoy it." Bertholdt's lips curled into a gentle smile as he slid his hand from your waist. He looked you up and down with those loving emerald eyes of his, wolfishly admiring the shining star before him. You could stare into those pretty eyes for hours on end; you could never get bored of the aesthetic beauty they harboured, and the intense gentleness that they radiated. You were proud that the finger-shaped bruises coiled around your forearms had turned the same hue as the glittering gold flecks bordering his dilated pupils. It must have made your skin look so very lovely.
Bertholdt noticed his man-made markings at the exact same time you started thinking about him, as though your mind was an open book that he was constantly scanning. The rough touch of his fingers traced the bruises gently, causing you to wince and bite your lip on contact.
He, of course, noticed this.
His eyes never broke contact with yours as he leaned closer to press the lightest of kisses onto the throbbing yellowing bruise.
"I'm sorry." He whispered into your skin. You felt your blood pump red and vicious under his warm breath.
"Don't be." You muttered back, your eyes darting away from his glare.
Bertholdt slowly wrapped his hand around your wrist, his long, slender fingers fully coiling around. You didn't understand why he did still did that every time he was about to kiss you. You had matured now; you had ripened like the juiciest of blood red apples to his loving touch. Yet, as though he thought you'd run or you'd evaporate and disappear completely before his eyes, he still tried to keep his hands on you at all times.
Just as you'd predicted, Bertholdt pulled your body closer to his and pressed his lips sweetly against your own.
Your spine tensed at the sensation and your body froze. You were still confused as to why you never really melted into the kiss like he did. Why did it never feel good or make your insides tingle like you knew it was meant to?
You tried to relax, tried to tell your body to cease its rigidness. It, of course, didn't listen.
Bertholdt pulled away eventually. He rested his forehead against yours and smiled, his fingers drawing incomprehensible lines into your cheeks, his fingerprints marking you as his.
"You're everything to me, (y/n). Everything. I love you."
"As I love you." You whispered back to him, bringing your hand up to rest upon his chest. You could feel his heartbeat pounding fierce and strong. You got up on your tip-toes and placed a tender kiss on his cheek, causing the area to turn pink. His heart began beating faster. He hadn't grown used to you displaying such affection unprovoked.
You giggled slightly at your lover's blushing face. He half-smiled in embarrassment.
"When exactly will we marry?" You cocked you head to the side in a cute manner, just in case Bertholdt interpreted your question as nagging or in dread of the upcoming event.
"T-tonight?" You spluttered. Surely it couldn't be so soon!? "But... we haven't got anything organised!"
Bertholdt's grin widened. He stared at you as though you were a Christmas feast, like he wanted to consume you. "Silly little (y/n). I have organised everything. A dress, flowers, rings... I've prepared it all for you. For us."
You looked at him in bewilderment, your mouth gaping and your eyes wide. Your mind was shot blank of any comprehendible or logical thoughts or reactions. You'd be married tonight. You wouldn't be plain old (y/n) anymore; you'd be Mrs Bertholdt Fubar. You'd be his in sickness and in health, until death tears you 'part. You'd wake up every morning in his arms, be attacked by his kisses before bed every night, you'd have your belly stretched by his children and your hair grey with age as you grow old hand-in-hand with him.
The thought of it all, fully giving yourself in your soul and your body to him and his touch, overwhelmed you. It made your blood turn to ice in fear. The life before Bertholdt, the life that had nearly completely been wiped from your memory... it would be gone forever, wouldn't it?
Nevertheless, you felt like the best thing to do was to smile. So you did.
"How lovely. Thank you. Thank you so much, Bert." You grinned like a child on Christmas morning as you embraced him.
"Anything for you, my little (y/n)." He whispered as he kissed the top of your head.
It was to be just next to the house in the forest clearing, at sunset, under the oak tree in the daisy patch.
Fervently glancing out the window, you noticed that the sun was no longer visible. It had long dipped behind the sky-scraping forest trees that stretched far and wide around the clearing. You sat on Bertholdt's bed as you waited for him to return with the attire you would be wearing for the wedding. Your hands covered your naked breasts as you shivered in the cold. You longed to pull something, anything, on your body to try to retain some warmth, but Bertholdt had specifically told you not to move. And you knew better than to mess with Bertholdt. The message had been drilled into your mind and tattooed onto your skin in the form of unhealed scars, cuts, fingernail scratching and bruises.
You pulled your knees to your chest. Your teeth began chattering in either coldness or nervousness. You couldn't tell.
The sound of steady, heavy footsteps grew louder and louder, a sure sign that Bertholdt was approaching.
The door creaked open slowly, and you turned to face your tall lover.
"Cold, darling?" He asked, his voice dripping with honey, peppermint and autumn fog. You nodded vigorously.
He put the package he held down on the vanity before he made his way over to your shivering frame. "My poor little baby." He cooed as he climbed onto the bed behind you. He sat so his legs were placed on either side of yours and pulled you backwards into his warm, clothed chest. "I'm sorry for leaving you here in the cold." He rested his chin on your shoulder and wrapped one arm around your stomach. Your abdominal muscles ached in bliss as the heat of his sweater's arm transferred to you. His other hand slowly slithered its way to your chest and rubbed one of your breasts gently, as though he was reading your skin's goose bumps like braille. As much as you hated to admit it, you felt as though you were melting like chocolate on a hot summer's day under his scorching hot hand.
Bertholdt pressed loving kisses against your neck and cheek while he rubbed your body all over, hushing you occasionally, as though his shushing would calm your shivers.
Once you had stopped shaking, he pulled away.
"Now that you're lovely and warm again, I should probably dress you. The time is fast approaching." His beaming smile practically stretched from ear to ear, almost disturbingly.
He grabbed your hand and pulled you up. You stood up, self-conscious in your bareness, as you waited for him to unwrap the brown paper parcel and bring the dress over.
"Close your eyes and raise your arms, my sweet. I don't want you to peek at how beautiful you are." He said, and you obeyed like a good little to-be wife.
What felt like the finest of silk was slid over your head and arms. It was heavy and smelt like dust and rose petals, but it was better than being naked.
"Keep your eyes closed, (y/n)." Bertholdt whispered into your ear as he directed your body to the other side of the room where the full-length mirror was located. "Nearly done, darling."
You heard the click of a clasp and felt more weight around your waist. After you heard Bertholdt fumbling in a drawer for something or other, your hair was yanked roughly by a brush, quickly covering any knots that had formed. The final piece to the bridal puzzle was some form of cold jewellery place around your neck.
"Open, my love."
You once again obeyed.
You looked in the mirror, but the person looking back wasn't you.
There you were, your skin dull and dry after being cooped up indoors for weeks. Your eyes were accompanied my heavy, black undershadows and your cheeks were faint of the glowing pink tinge they used to have.
The dress looked out of place on you. It was pure white silk from the ribs down, billowing out like a curtain in the wind. It would be utterly shapeless on you if it weren't for the hanging belt, made from emeralds encrusted in gold. The belt matched the elaborate necklace that rested around your neck. It was a shame that you no longer had glimmer in your eyes to match the sparkle of the expensive accessories. Maybe one day when you were happily living with your beloved, you would gain it back.
Above the heavy silk skirts, the top and arms were made completely from lace, leaving your chest somewhat visible through the spaces.
"Ah! One more thing. How could I forget?" Bertholdt giggled as he placed a crown of daisies on top of your head. "There. Aren't you the most beautiful girl in the world? You look like an angel."
You managed a weak smile and turned to face him. Anything to stop looking at your reflection.
He pecked your cheek lightly. "Guess what, darling. It's time. We're about to become man and wife."
Your smile fell as he said the words, but he was far too lost in his own thoughts to notice.
He grabbed your hand and pulled you out of the bedroom and out the front door.
"We are going to a very special place, (y/n)."
"The daisy patch under the oak?"
"Yes. The daisy patch under the oak. Mother's buried there. I bet she can't wait to see you in the same dress she wore on her special day."
Bile began to rise in your throat and the taste of vomit filled your mouth. How perfectly horrid.
"Now, are you ready, my sweet little (y/n)? Ready for us to become hu--"
Bertholdt's words were cut off completely as a flash of silver steel came across his throat, slitting it and allowing blood to spurt out in all directions, coating you and your snow white gown.
You saw a figure approaching you, sprinting towards you and reaching for your hand.
"Run, (y/n)! We have to run!"