This is the final chapter of Der Geliebte. I want to thank everyone who has reviewed; you have helped me so much. I will dedicate this chapter to pinkdragon, who has encouraged me throughout my work on this fic. Thanks again! ^_^ And now, to the fic!

It was not long before I was compelled to leave Munich and go back. Not since the death of my mother has one person affected me so strongly. I have been infuriated by the inadequacy of Germany's government, as well as those responsible for bringing this great country to its knees, and also saddened by these things. What am I saying? This is comparable to likening myself to the Jew. I felt not sadness; it could be described more as pity or despair. Pity is weak, and eventually dies away as we all have problems of our own. Despair is short-sighted. What I felt upon seeing Geli's corpse was whole, pure sadness; not repulsion.

Months have passed since then. Not that it matters. A hundred years could pass, and the Great War could be fought over again, but nothing will ever erase that day from my mind. Of course, the day I refused to release her from the apartment clings to me as well. She pleaded with me, her hands grasping frantically at my overcoat, trying to capture my sympathy. My sympathy is not something that can be earned. When she learned this for herself, she demanded I free her, and I still responded with a firm, unfaltering no.

Over and over I assure myself it was in her best interest that I held stubbornly to my will. I believe wholeheartedly that it was. But that doesn't prevent me from wondering, what could have been if I had relented and said yes? Geli could still be alive, we could be in Munich, and things could be like they were. There are infinite reasons to refuse a request. You want to protect them, you believe differently, you want to spite them. . . but even when you feel that you are right beyond all doubt, as I do, room for questions remains. What would be if I could make one simple change?

Mitzi never mentioned the incident again. That suited me more than fine, as I have no desire to speak of it further. Christmas came and went, and it was bittersweet. I had planned to use the time to be by myself, to be unshackled of outside burdens. Obviously, that is impossible, as I am always consumed with anxiety; my mind never stops its constant activity. Much as Mitzi meant to me, I would have rather kept to myself, and in retrospect, she may have preferred it to have been that way as well.

Upon my return, she insisted I join her and her family for Christmas, and I could by no means have refused. I took the familiar streets to her cozy home, which enticed me greatly. The wind chilled through my soul, as if I was freezing from the inside. I gave a knock on her door, and it was quickly opened by Mitzi's sister. Although serious-faced, she invited me in, and after hurriedly edging amidst a cluster of her relatives, I found Mitzi.

The environment was not to my liking. It was amiable, but too amiable. It reminded me of Mitzi herself, only on a larger scale. Her family as a whole longs to become emotionally close, closer than is comfortable on a first meeting. Not one of them has any comprehension of what I need in a companion: someone who sees eye to eye with me, but does not obsess over knowing my every secret. That logic serves to explain why things turned out as they did.

Seeing my obvious discomfort, Mitzi led me to the dining room, where we sat side by side at the empty table. "I'm so glad you came tonight!" She was cheery, as was always the case. "And of course, I have something for you!" With that, she darted into an adjoining room and returned with her hands behind her back. "You'll never guess."

"No, I'm sure I won't." I was not in the mood for a game, but I tried to be good spirited. The intrusion of complete strangers had put me off, but I was not about to let her know that.

Beaming proudly, she pulled out two small pillows from behind her back. "I embroidered them myself." She handed them to me, and I looked them over. They were rich, wine red, each bearing the black swastika inside the white circle. Slightly off center, but otherwise perfect. She certainly knew what would intrigue me.

"Thank you," I answered, still mesmerized by the pillows. That was what the design had been intended to do when I chose it: to capture the attention of the people and make them stop for a moment and really think. "And I have something for you as well, Miesel." Out of my overcoat, I produced a copy of my book. Her eyes lit up, and she took it from me eagerly, clasping it to her chest.

"Thank you so much." Her usually effervescent voice had quieted, and was now little more than a whisper. I liked it that way, but it was so unlike her, I had to wonder what was going through her head. "Adolf, I have to ask you something. Promise me you won't be upset?"

There it came. At the time, I was on edge about what it would be that would upset me. "No," I answered with marked hesitation. "No, I promise I won't."

I held my breath and waited. She took a look into my eyes, then looked out the window and into the wintry outdoors. "Adolf. . . Do you love me?"

I could feel my eyes widen. "Mitzi, you have been one of the best friends I have ever had. . ."

"Answer me. Do you love me?"

". . .you were there when no one else was. . ."

"Answer me! Do you love me?"

She was losing control of her impatience. Now it was my turn to fear saying something upsetting. But I also had to say something truthful. "Listen to me, Mitzi. When I am with you, I feel. . . how to describe it? It is the everything no one else could do for me. You have never judged me, and you have supported me. But do I love you?" Her eyes lit up in hope, and it cut me deep to realize the extent of how much I would let her down with what I would say next. "No, Mitzi. I do not love you. I can't say I feel what I don't feel."

It was clear that I had struck a nerve. She seemed frozen, determined to convince herself that she had not heard what she thought she had. "Mitzi. . ." I reached out to her, and she pulled away. I was furious. What did she want, a blatant lie? Yes, Miesel; I love you with all my heart and soul. The words are such hollow and empty lies. She gets up to leave, and lets the book fall onto the table.

"Look into my eyes, Mitzi. Look. . . Don't you walk away from me! Mitzi, I am talking to you!" I leap from my seat and grab her shoulder. Something in this hasty action seems eerily familiar to me. Dear Geli rests forever because of this. I can't bear to see that happen to Mitzi. "Please, don't be upset by it. We both need to live our lives. On our own."

"How can I not be upset by it?" Her voice shakes, and she pushes my hand away. "If that is what you truly want, just go. Go! But I warn you, be careful, or you may regret the choice you make someday." And that was it. With nothing else to do, I obeyed; I walked out of her life.

I was out in the cold again. Her words hit me where it was most painful. Already, I am strangled in regret. Geli's death could not have been more my fault if I had shot her myself in cold blood. But that was Geli, and this is Mitzi. Mitzi did let me go, after all. Geli still clung to me while I was straining at the leash.

These two sweet girls have known nothing from me but anguish, making them damn the day they met me. However perverse the relationships were, they were filled with days that made my life worth living. Incredible days, remarkable days. But more remarkable than anything was the suffering they endured for me. I wanted to make them feel as charmed as I did, but I still needed room to live out my dreams.

Now that I am completely alone, I face the wintry weather as such; alone. Mitzi and I used to walk these same streets when days were warmer; then the snow came. Along with it came the frost. The frost seemed to come from me, as well. Darkness is falling, and I have a long road ahead of me. Mitzi no longer walks beside me, so there is now only one set of footprints leaving their mark. I have left her behind where Geli's body and my dreams of the unreachable Stefanie Jansten are buried.

It appears that I am now alone, but when I think of it, I am not. I still have the German Fatherland to keep me alive. Germany is my wife. Whether or not I will find an earthly wife, I could not guess. But I have to get past the mystery, and continue before I lose sight of where I am headed. A new year is almost upon us. Perhaps 1932 will be the year things do go right. I will find my place, be it in a woman's arms, or in the arms of the people.