The boys were off doing...something. Ymir had no idea. Gathering firewood for the night? It was about time to set up camp.
She was surprised they'd let her out of their sight. She'd gotten them to trust her, that was good.
Or was it? Or was it because she'd let her guard down. Not recently, but long ago.
They'd figured out about Historia.
Had that been exactly what Reiner intended, that time they'd shared their secrets in the castle? To gather information he could use against her?
No, he wasn't that crafty. Not like her.
She had to be more careful next time. She had to be the one holding the cards, the one doing the manipulating. That was what she'd set out to do from the start, right? Ymir would let others have feelings and play with them, but never herself.
But maybe she was learning - re-learning? - that some feelings were hard to keep to yourself. Some you couldn't help but let your guard down around them.
60 years as a mindless monster, she'd forgotten some basic facts about being human. This wasn't how she'd planned it.
It was Historia who had shown Ymir the way back, grabbed hold of her and scattered her plans.
Ymir hadn't planned to fall in love with Historia. Love was never planned, but Ymir in particular had never planned for any kind of attachment to anyone. People, especially those who were just people and not also titans, were pieces to be toyed with, pawns in her game.
Well...Historia wasn't a pawn. She was a queen, literally and figuratively. She was an important piece, and Ymir had to have her. She wasn't sure if the petite blonde girl knew herself just how special she was, but Ymir would take advantage regardless.
Historia - Krista, then - made it easy. She was sweet and always helpful, but also reliable. She trusted and looked for the best in people. When Ymir pretended to look after and protect her, Krista believed her. It was simple. Or so it seemed.
But something in Krista's nature had taken Ymir in herself. She wasn't even sure when she snapped, but before she knew it, the girl was in her mind at all times. Not just when Ymir was planning her next move.
She'd noticed herself one day, admiring Krista's blonde hair in the firelight. It glowed like it was illuminated from within. It took a while before Ymir noticed herself staring, and noticed the turn her thoughts had taken. Luckily, she could bury her blushing face before Krista had seen.
But she kept looking, and she kept thinking, about more and more things: Krista's eyes, her hands, her lips. It was when Ymir realized she wanted to experience those that she'd started to wonder.
I can't lose myself to this, she thought. I'm not one of them. I have a mission. It's more important than this.
But 60 years without dealing with feelings can make them hard to control.
Especially once she'd realized that of course, anyone would fall for a girl as sweet as Krista. Especially when she'd heard the boys discussing how Krista would make a perfect wife, with how giving and selfless she was. Especially when Ymir had them discussing Krista's posterior and felt pangs of jealousy and anger rise up in her, feelings she hadn't felt that intense in longer than she could remember. It was hard to keep them down.
But nothing - nothing - had prepared her for what she felt the night she noticed Krista staring back.
She'd found more and more reasons to spend time with her, to keep Krista closer, away from the prying eyes of the boys in the 104th Corps. Ymir hadn't noticed that Krista herself was making excuses, letting herself be held closer, until, one day when they were alone in Ymir's dorm, Krista took a deep breath and then planted her lips on Ymir's.
Ymir would like to say that she had hesitated, pushed Krista away, told her that they couldn't be together that way. But she was too far gone. She was only shocked and unresponsive for the brief moment it took her to register what was happening... and then she tightened her arms around the smaller girl, and pressed back into the kiss.
After their lips separated, Krista had looked up, starry-eyed, and smiled, a wide, wonderful grin that made Ymir's heart leap. "I was hoping you'd...felt something, too!" she said, catching her breath. "But I wasn't sure!"
This time, Ymir grabbed Krista and kissed her again.
It was the first of many kisses, always in private, away from the gossips in their corps, though Ymir was sure some people had picked up on the girls' chemistry. Over time, she'd learned enough that she could joke about wanting to marry Krista when they were done. But the actual affection between them was too much for busybodies. It was just for them.
And as it grew, Ymir became more and more unsure about what she was doing, and if her original intentions were fair to the girl she'd fallen for so fast and so hard.
Late one night, as they sprawled in Ymir's bed, short of breath but warm, content, Krista had sighed into the taller girl's chest as she said, "That was great. That was great! I don't think I'll ever be sick of this."
Yes, you will , Ymir had thought as she ran her fingers through the other's long golden tresses. One day, you'll learn the truth and you'll hate me.
But at the time, all she could do was nod and smile and keep Krista close.
The boys came back, their arms filled with logs. It suddenly dawned on Ymir that she could have helped them - she was as strong as Bertolt, at least - but she liked that they'd let her have some time alone. It had clarified a few things.
Bertolt prepared the stack while Reiner came over to sit by her. "You're thinking about her again, aren't you?" he asked.
Ymir startled a bit, and the blond boy laughed. "I didn't see anything in your face! You just always are."
"Hmm," she hummed in agreement. "I know you're not, though. You could fool them, but not me."
"True," he said while staring into the middle distance, where Bertolt paused mid-stack to give them a puzzled look. "I'm not going to tell you who it is."
"I don't care," she said, and it was the truth. The personal lives of small-fry titans were irrelevant to her needs or desires.
Although she had her suspicions.
"There's a lot you aren't telling us, you know," Reiner said. Ymir simply hummed in agreement again.
"I'm sure we'll find out eventually," he added.
"No you won't."
He gave her a puzzled look as he pulled himself up, and wandered over to help Bertolt, and Ymir smirked.
Reiner was a fool, and could never hope to understand her. He'd let his feelings - all his feelings - get in the way, to the point where he'd completely lost touch of himself and his goals. To the point where he'd nearly jeopardized his entire missions.
Ymir wasn't like that. Letting the boys know the nature of her feelings for Historia was but one crack in her armor. There were still many, many things they needed to know, that she would never tell them.
She wasn't worried. She could still achieve everything she wanted. She could play these boys like fiddles, like she needed to, and wouldn't have to worry about her feelings getting in the way.
After all, they already belonged to someone else.