Categories > Anime/Manga > Attack on Titan > A Matter of Stature

Part 1

by Milia 0 reviews

A girl from Sina is engaged to a man she's never met. She must find out why and solve the hidden secrets of her family. (LevixReader, ErenxMikasa)

Category: Attack on Titan - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama,Humor,Romance - Published: 2015-05-03 - Updated: 2015-05-03 - 7550 words - Complete

A Matter of Stature

Chapter 1: Suspicion

'Maybe this Levi guy I'm engaged to isn't so bad,' you thought as the carriage got ever closer to your destination. The scenery of Sina's luxury evolved into the middle class of Rose. You were supposed to meet him in Rose territory, an area that you had never visited before, as you had been born and raised in Sina. Your life had taken one surprising turn after another lately.

You miraculously conquered an illness that had plagued you since birth and finally had the opportunity to live a normal life, but then you were told you had been engaged to marry a man called Levi. The whole matter left your head spinning, but while you struggled to make sense of it, you tried to remain optimistic.

Your father loved you, he wouldn't approve of this mysterious Levi if he wasn't a good man. Then again, you had heard talk among the mansion staff that your father had only met Levi briefly and never really spoke to him. Furthermore, you heard from Mary Anne, one of the younger maids, that Levi was being pushed into the marriage against his will. You tried not to think too much about it. Maybe the rumors were lies.

The carriage stopped and you saw two males approaching it, a blond man and a black haired boy. You wondered if the blond was the mysterious Levi, they were both wearing Survey Corps uniforms. They stopped in front of the carriage and the blond opened the door. You took a deep breath and tried to at least be friendly. "Good afternoon..."

"Good afternoon, miss (name)," the tall blond man extended his hand in greeting, "I'm Erwin Smith, commander of the Survey Corps."

"Pleased to meet you," you replied unsure. You were expecting Levi to be there the second you got out of the carriage, but there was no one else around aside from Erwin and the cranky looking boy. You were told the union was to be kept low key, and you didn't protest to that, since you didn't entirely agree to the union in the first place. Never mind that Melinda, the family's stylist, was making you a dress just in case an actual ceremony took place in the future.

Erwin paused for a moment as if waiting for something to happen. The whole time the cranky boy kept glaring at you. You surmised that he was simply rude. "It's a pleasure to meet you too," Erwin finally voiced. "Shall we finish the paperwork?"

You wanted to say no, but felt you had little choice in the matter. "Of course..." You followed Erwin into the building in front of which the carriage had stopped. It was a tall government building where many types of documents, marriage certificates included, were filed. Normally, the paperwork was either done as soon as an engagement occurred, or right after the ceremony. Sometimes the paperwork took time because the families couldn't decide how much of their fortunes to share and how much they wanted to assure they kept for themselves in case of a divorce. This particular marriage was quite simple, you would share nothing, nothing material at least. The arrangement didn't surprise you. Your father would be called a fool and his business would be affected if the precaution wasn't taken.

The large building held several doors, spaces filled with desks, accountants and secretaries doing various calculations and sorting paperwork. A few people came in and out, to request documents, to sell properties, to argue taxes. There were no couples though, not happy or otherwise. You wished you could have just signed the documents at home and sent them in, but you also knew that it wouldn't make a difference. It didn't matter if you were walking through a building that smelled of dust and ink or sitting in a nice cafe across from Levi, whoever he may be, it would still be terribly awkward.

You finally reached your destination where twin attorneys you were sure you've seen before were waiting. You didn't remember their names, though you did recall hearing a rumor that they sometimes switched places in court when they thought the case needed a change of strategy. The two men were identical, dirty blond hair and pale brown eyes, their expressions focused as if waiting for an opportunity to attack. Their grey suits and black ties were identical as well. You weren't really listening to what they were saying. Instead, you were looking every which way, confirming over and over that only you, the lawyers, Erwin and the cranky boy were in the room.

You heard one of the twins address a Mr. Ackerman. The cranky boy exchanged looks with Erwin in some silent communication, then signed the document. You were then called to do the same, but you were too busy staring in open mouthed shock at the boy, only then noticing that he wasn't a boy, but a man that was rather short. You still thought he looked kind of boyish, but no mere boy could have lived long enough to accumulate the amount of displeasure in this man's eyes.

The other twin echoed his brother's words with a slightly more impatient tone and you finally snapped awake. You picked up the pen and held it unsure. You looked at the signature on the paper, written in very neat penmanship, Levi Ackerman. Until that moment, you haven't even known his lastname. You just stared at the name, trying to decipher what kind of person was its owner.

The lawyers grew impatient and began to offer Erwin some small talk, something about how people were saying that the Survey Corps were a waste of taxes, and that if he ever noticed anything wrong with the supplies that were delivered to the base he should sue the merchants. You knew that what they were suggesting, perhaps hoping for in the name of having an interesting case to represent, was sabotage. Erwin denied such a thing, though that didn't deter the twins from continuing to advertise their services.

"Are you going to sign it?" Levi finally asked, annoyed. You gripped the pen in anger. You wanted to give him a piece of your mind, tell him that he shouldn't be so rude to a lady, or to anyone for that matter. Your anger turned to frustration, which quickly became fear. What kind of life would you live with this man, who seemed to carry such a sour existence? You had a strange sensation on your hand as you squeezed the pen in worry and an odd mist began to appear around it. Though Levi had kept his distance so far, he stepped forward in the first show of interest he had ever displayed towards your person.

Your mind registered the possibility that maybe Levi wasn't a terribly miserable person, maybe he was just angry about the marriage. If he was forced into it as well, he had the right to be. You didn't have anyone you were dating, but what if he did? The mist that had began to float around your hand dissipated and you sighed. He had already signed, he was resigned to his fate and you didn't think you had a choice but to be the same way. You signed your name, though you had to admit it wasn't as neatly penned as his.

You glanced at Levi. He wasn't giving you deadly glares of disdain anymore, instead he was looking at you as if you were some kind of criminal, a dangerous creature that had to be kept under close watch in case in needed to be terminated. You looked away, but you could still feel his critical eyes on you, suspicion, disbelief and a sense of curiosity eradiated from him.

xoxox xox xoxox

Chapter 2: Awakening

"It's done," Levi finally spoke after you signed for the marriage document. He made it sound like he had just finished performing a foul deed that left him feeling more defiance than remorse.

The twin lawyers took the paperwork to take care of properly processing it and archiving it. They gave one final sales pitch to Erwin, then sent you all on your way with a casual, "good day," spoken in perfect unison.

The walk out of the government building that smelled of dust and ink was even more uncomfortable than the walk in, though you haven't thought that was possible. "Well," Erwin smiled after a heavy sigh, that he probably didn't intend to allow to be so obvious. "Now that the paperwork is done, I guess I'll leave you two to get to know each other." He was there as a witness, you realized. You couldn't get yourself to muster an answer for him, even if it was terribly impolite to remain so silent.

Erwin left and soon after, Levi began to walk in a different direction. You followed him, assuming he wanted you to do so. Besides, the carriage had left while you were inside, you didn't know anyone in Rose and you had never left your family's estate, you didn't know what else to do but to follow Levi. People walked to and from every direction in the street. Murmurs and shouts mixed together in a noisy atmosphere with too many conversations going on at the same time. You felt uneasy and wanted to run away, but your legs felt odd, heavy. Maybe you were having a relapse into your illness.

Levi walked swiftly, albeit you had the feeling that he was keeping an eye on you in a discreet, yet alert way. You hurried to keep pace with him and tried to say something, the way he simply refused to speak to you was creeping you out. "So... Levi... Um..." You tried to think of a casual question to ask. "How old are you?"

"Older than you," came his simple answer. He didn't elaborate or ask for your own age in return, which for whatever reason he already seemed to be aware of.

"You look young," you bit your lip, did he know you had assumed he was only a boy when you first saw him? "I mean... in a good way..." you stumbled over your words and he offered none. You felt so uncomfortable, so exposed and vulnerable. You didn't want to live your life married to a cranky man who ignored you and you didn't think you wanted any attention from him either. You wished that the mysterious Levi had turned out to be someone else, the man that Melinda had made you imagine when she was reassuring you back home. You stopped walking, your legs hurt.

Levi stopped as well and stared at you. "What are you doing?" The way he demanded it was as if he thought you were going to attack him. He looked around, examining his surroundings, taking note of all the people around. His hands rested on his swords.

"It hurts..." You whispered. This time you were not distracted enough to miss the mist. It gathered around your legs and a few passers were giving you odd looks. "What is this?" You blinked in confusion, wondering if your vision was going blurry. Yet the mist was only there, on your legs, the rest of the world looked clear.

"Not here!" Suddenly, Levi took your hand and started running. You didn't know where he was going, but he was doing a fine job of dragging you along.

"Slow down!" You complained, but he did the opposite. You tried to pull your hand away from his grip, but found it to be impossible. He dashed into an alley leading to some dark stairs. "Stop!"

You were ignored, Levi hurried down the stairs with you in tow, until you finally couldn't take it anymore. The future scared you, the present scared you, Levi scared you. You momentarily lost the feeling on your legs and fell. You felt heavy as you tripped and knocked Levi to the ground as he reached the bottom to the steps. You landed on top of him, but in a swift movement one of his swords was hovering above your neck, ready to decapitate you.

You froze, was he really thinking about killing you? The feeling on your legs returned, but they felt trapped in... something, you didn't know what. "Why?" It was the only word you could breathe out in your confusion.

"You... have no idea," Levi concluded. He put his sword down. "Look at your legs."

You did so, expecting to find them tangled up on something. Yet the thing that you saw was shocking, to say the least. You saw the muscle tissue of two partially formed much larger legs. You were about to scream, but Levi covered your mouth.

"You didn't know about this?" He didn't release you, so you could only shake your head in fright. The mist was starting to appear around you again, this time covering your whole body. "Calm down," Levi ordered, but of course, that made you panic even more and the thickness of the strange mist intensified.

Levi moved to get up, finally letting you go, but you automatically clung to him as if driven by survival instinct alone. "Make it stop!"

"Just calm down," Levi's voice was far less harsh now. "You'll be fine, you can control this." You didn't know what this was and told him as much. "(Name)," it was the first time he had ever called you by your name. "You'll be alright, just stay calm."

You took a deep breath and tried to calm down. The mist around you began to fade away and your heart and breathing rhythm slowed a little, though you were still on edge. "I'm stuck," you tried to stand up, but your legs were trapped inside that other monstrous pair of partially formed skinless legs that you'd rather not look at.

"You should be able to pull your legs free," Levi sounded fairly certain of it, as if he had seen something like this before. He managed to escape from under you and took your hands to help you stand. "Pull your legs out."

You tugged at your legs, but you were so freaked out because of the monster legs that came out of nowhere that you couldn't get yourself to pull hard enough. "I can't get free."

Levi looked around to make sure no one had noticed what was going on. You were in a dark tunnel in a secluded alley, so no one had seen anything, or else there would have already been screams. "I'll pull you out," you nodded as Levi got ready to do just that, "hold on." He began to pull you up by the waist, while you placed your arms around his shoulders. He put one foot against the edge of the left leg, which was less fully formed than the right. He pushed it away with his boot while pulling you in the opposite direction and your left leg was freed. The large malformed leg disappeared into thin air in a cloud of mist after it lost contact with your body.

Levi then repeated the process with the right leg, but you tensed up and the leg reacted, twitching. You gasped and held on to him more tightly on instinct. "Stay still," he ordered with slight impatience, though you could tell he was trying not to sound too harsh.

You tried to calm down and Levi tried again. The unprotected muscle of the large leg was hot and smoked when Levi placed his boot against it, you hoped it was thick. Strangely, you didn't get burned and your clothes were relatively unharmed, though wrinkled and a bit dirty. The red muscle tissue must only be hot on the outside by the looks of it. This was strange, but if the left monster leg disappeared leaving your own leg unharmed, then it was reasonable to think that the same logic bending rules would apply to the right leg. You calmed down a little at the thought and the monster leg relaxed.

Levi gave you a firm tug and managed to pull you free, though he pulled too hard, as you weren't as badly stuck anymore after you made yourself calm down. The momentum carried him backwards and to the floor, with you landing on top of him again. You had pulled your right leg up in an attempt to help in the effort to free you and it ended up crashing against Levi's stomach unexpectedly and knocking the wind out of him. Not that you were doing any better, your breathing was still fast paced from the shocking experience. The right leg disappeared in a cloud of warm mist.

Then they arrived, two males, one female, all in uniform. The trio appeared at the top of the stairs, the young man with green eyes began to call out a friendly greeting, but froze at the sight before him. The blond's jaw dropped in shock and he was unable to speak and there was slight twitch in the dark haired girl's eye.

Captain Levi and and as of yet unidentified woman were on the floor of a dark tunnel in an alley, flushed from the warmth of the mist that had just finished disappearing right before they came, and somewhat breathless for various reasons. The scout female with the red scarf wrapped an arm around each of her friends' shoulders, placing her hands over their eyes. She turned them around and marched them up the stairs without stopping to look back or comment.

Levi made a very brief comment though: "shit..."

xoxox xox xoxox

Chapter 3: Business

You looked at Levi... he seemed displeased. You didn't wait for him to tell you to get off before you started trying to do so. You weren't exactly steady though, so in the end he had to help you. The two of you stood in a dark tunnel in an alley after having been caught in a situation that could be misinterpreted. You blushed, if anyone from Sina saw the scene and misinterpreted it, the gossip would never end.

You could imagine the snobs discussing how improper and terrible you were, making out with some scout in a dark tunnel... Except he wasn't some scout, officially he was your husband, but still, the whole dark alley thing would still bring some criticism. You hoped those three could keep their mouths shut. They didn't know you, but they clearly knew Levi. You wondered if they were informed about your marriage.

Levi eyed you carefully, which made you feel self conscious, "what?"

"It all makes sense now," Levi stated in annoyance. "This is the reason why your father arranged this marriage." You wanted to ask him just what your father had done to push him into it, as he was clearly not happy about it, but before that, you took a moment to recall how this whole thing started, when the name of Levi first came up in your life.


The desk in the corner, the elegant polished wood table, the book shelves in the background, elegantly carved chairs with comfortable cushions, the light of the afternoon streaming through the glass windows, it was the same scene as always. The conversation was the same as always too, you never would have guessed it would take a very surprising turn.

"It actually looks like they're making progress!" You stood in front of the door to your father's study and listened quietly. He was having a meeting with several colleagues that you weren't particularly fond of. Your father didn't like these men either, but they were influential business figures that he had to deal with. The one who just spoke was a plump man with a big grey handlebar mustache and a favorable disposition for gossip of any kind.

The door to the study was only open an inch, just enough for you to peek in. The men were busy with their wine and conversation, so it was easy for you to go unnoticed. "Do you think they'll take back Wall Maria?" A tall skinny man with an obvious comb-over and a monocle over his right eye inquired. They were all wearing suits and had open ledgers on the table, though none were actually looking at them.

"It's possible," the youngest of the four men, counting your father, replied in a snobbish manner. He slightly threw his head back as he spoke, his long nose in the air. "What does it matter though?" He squinted his blue eyes and ran a hand through his pale blond hair in indifference.

"It could matter," your father piped in. His hair and eyes were the same color as yours, save for the gray hairs that had gradually started to appear. None the less, he had aged gracefully. He hardly ever participated in these discussions and it surprised you that he piped in. Normally, his associates would come over to drink and gossip, while your father sat quietly until they were satisfied and announced what a fine host he had been.

"Oh?" Mister long nose stretched out the syllable in a distasteful manner. "How so?" He challenged dismissively.

Your father began speaking politely. "Perhaps I'm being too far sighted here, but if they do take back Wall Maria, the next step would be to explore outside. With that titan shifter, Eren Yeager, on their side, the scouts will gain popularity, especially when they start coming back with supplies from the outside."

A chorus of murmurs erupted and the three other men sounded like a whole room full of people talking at the same time... Or like a coop full of chickens. Finally, the murmurs quieted as big mustache excitedly declared, "suppose they find a mine full of jewels!"

The murmurs began again louder than before. "Well," monocle man started to speak, but long nose was still busily chewing your father's ear off, not realizing he was being ignored. Monocle patted his comb-over in indignation, as if to assure it was in place when he forced the attention in the room to himself. The hair that he did have was dyed black, as it once was, but you were sure that was no longer his natural color. He cleared his throat loudly until nose shut up, giving him a pointed look with his narrow blue eyes. "Well," monocle blinked his beady small brown eyes and began again. "If that does happen, then we must be prepared. Nose rolled his eyes as if to indicate that monocle was stating the obvious.

Mustache nodded, bushy gray eyebrows knitted together over big round green eyes. "We should establish a connection with the scouts just in case," he suggested. "Unfortunately, my two sons and eldest daughter are already married and my two younger daughters are engaged." Mustache had five children, a son, a daughter, another son, then two more daughters. You had met them briefly and were not fond of them. You perceived they had not liked you much either.

You were disgusted at how the men spoke of their sons and daughters as mere tools of business. You were glad your father wasn't like that. Then again, who would want to marry a woman who spent most of her time resting in bed due to poor health? It was the same genetic disease that took your mother's life when you were still a toddler.

"My daughter is not of marrying age," nose reminded. "And my son is even younger." Nose had two children, a seven year old daughter and an infant son. You had never met them.

"Well," monocle gasped. "I certainly cannot engage my only daughter to one of them." He made a disgusted expression. "She is my only child and I would not want a monster for an heir." This girl actually wasn't so bad. She wasn't really your friend, but she wasn't as snobbish as mustache's kids.

"Have her marry my nephew!" Mustache suggested.

Monocle seemed to consider this, "perhaps..." He already had a business partnership with mustache. The new family connection may strengthen it, but it wouldn't bring anything new to the table.

"You'll have a healthy heir that way," mustache laughed. "Most importantly, you'll have a human heir," he laughed again and the other men joined in, though your father's laughter was clearly fake. "Anyway," mustache continued, "I heard the shifter boy has someone keeping an eye on him. That cadet that's rising through the ranks, Mikasa, I think was her name."

"What about your daughter," nose interjected, addressing your father. "She's old enough to marry, isn't she? You do still have a daughter, don't you?" You gritted your teeth and resisted the urge to remind that jerk with your fist that you were indeed still alive.

"My daughter?" Your father made a show of considering it. "Well, I don't know about getting her involved with Yeager... Maybe if it was someone else, for instance, Captain Levi, he has quite a reputation and is in charge of Yeager."

You rolled your eyes and waited for the punch line. Your father would then recall some detail that made it impossible for you to marry this Levi person and the matter would be dropped, then the conversation would be steered away from the topic of your marriage.

Another session of murmurs overtook the room until nose interrupted. "Will he do it?" He made it sound as if marrying you was a most undesirable thing. You certainly didn't want to marry a stranger, but you didn't like being insulted either.

"I'm sure we can arrange something," monocle replied before your father could and mustache agreed with a hearty laugh.

You walked away from the door at that point. You were tired of the stupidity and wished your father would just throw them out. But if he did, he wouldn't be able to afford your expensive medical care. You sighed and returned to your room, you were feeling tired.

Going up the stairs left you out of breath and you were ready to collapse by the time you reached your bed. You fell into the soft mattress and buried your face in the pillow. It took only a second for sleep to overtake you.

xoxox xox xoxox

You woke up in the evening and groggily heard voices just out your door. By the time you woke up enough to understand them, the conversation had stopped and your father knocked on the door. He called your name, announcing, "the doctor is here to see you."

You yawned and sat up on your bed, "come in."

Your father opened the door, followed by a strange man. That wasn't your usual doctor. Without a word the doctor set down his briefcase on the nightstand and pulled out a needle already prepared with a strange liquid inside. You immediately grew uneasy, you hated needles.

Sensing your tension, your father smiled in reassurance. "Don't worry, princess, it will only hurt for a moment and then it'll never hurt again. This will cure you."

You didn't believe it would cure you, though perhaps it would help. You hated feeling weak and felt as if you were sleeping your life away. Sometimes you were so drowsy you felt as if you were floating in a half conscious state, only vaguely aware of the reality around you.

You forced yourself to pull up your sleeve and extend your arm. You closed your eyes and gripped your father's hand with your other hand. The needle stung, a lot, but you managed to bare it in silence. You were once again exhausted though, even if you just woke up from a nap. You allowed yourself to fall back into the pillows and watched the scene unfold through half lidded eyes.

"Not a word," the strange man reminded in a dark tone.

"Never," your father assured as if it was an oath. Then you fell asleep.

xoxox xox xoxox

Chapter 4: Elixir

(Flashback: Continued)

You slept through the evening, the night and, unknown to you, for several days. You woke up one morning feeling disoriented. You examined the fancy clock on your wall and noted that it read 8:45. It was light out, the sun washed in through the windows of your large room, so that was 8:45 am. You got up, feeling strangely hungry. You never had much of an appetite before. You washed and dressed, then went down stairs.

The walk to the kitchen was very easy. Normally, just going down the stairs would leave you out of breath. You couldn't remember the last time you felt this strong and healthy. You peeked into the kitchen where you found your father talking to the chef. He ate at the smaller table in the kitchen, rather than the large dining room, so he could talk to the staff. "Good morning," you greeted, surprised at your own voice. It rung out clear and strong, it wasn't the sickly whisper you usually produced.

Your father smiled from ear to ear, while the head chef stared in surprise at how lively you were. "Good morning, princess," he looked towards the chef for a moment and requested, "make her a steak, she needs protein now that she's awake." Then he turned his attention back to you, motioning for you to join him at the kitchen table. "How do you feel?"

"Good," you replied, "better than ever, actually." Whatever that medicine was, it was working.

"Excellent," your father cheered, though behind his relief there was something that bothered him. He tried to maintain his smile as he continued. "Since you're feeling better, maybe you can go out."

You blinked and stared, "can I?" You were certainly not opposed to the idea, but you usually ended up so weak and tired the effort to leave the house was hardly worth it. Your father was very protective of you, but he seemed to be very confident about the success of your latest medical treatment. Maybe the change in you really was that obvious.

"Of course dear," your father smiled. "You're a young woman. You should be able to go out, see the city, go on dates..."

You didn't think any men would ask you out, given your physical condition, and even if one did, with how protective your father could be, you didn't expect him to encourage it. You laughed, thinking he was only joking.

"Speaking of dates... There is a young man I want to introduce to you..." Your father approached the topic gently. He paused, watching your perplexed expression. "How are you making the steak, Artie?" He addressed the chef instead.

"Well done, just like the doctor said," the chef replied. You assumed he referred to your usual doctor. The new doctor didn't say much.

"Artie is the only chef I've ever met who can make a well done steak without burning it," your father smiled.

"His food is always very good," though you hardly ate much of it.

"If it's so good, little lady, why don't you eat it all this time?" Artie asked, his brown hair peeking out from under his chef hat, muscular arms crossed over his broad chest in mock indignation.

"Oh, you know..." You laughed, then your stomach growled. It took you by surprise and you shifted in embarrassment.

"Music to my ears!" Artie laughed. "How about I get you started with some bread and orange juice while the steak cooks?"

You nodded eagerly, "yes please!"

Anthony, Artie's young son, ran into the kitchen proudly. "I did it, papa, I set out Fluffy's food and water and she ate!"

"Well done, Tony" Artie smiled. "But aren't you forgetting something?" He motioned towards the table.

"Good morning Lord (lastname) and Lady (name)," Tony greeted, as his father nodded in approval. The four year old boy had the same blond hair as his mother, Melinda, the constantly inspired family seamstress. His eyes were the same bright green as his father.

"Good morning Tony," your father greeted, seemingly grateful for the break in the conversation. He had to tell you something, but it wasn't easy for him to say it. He didn't want to force anything on you, but this was the only way he could assure your safety.

"Hey kiddo," you ruffled the little boy's hair.

" I'm still taking good care of Fluffy for you," Tony proudly informed you.

"Thank you," you smiled, taking a bread biscuit from the table and eating it, "these are so good. Hey Tony, did you try these? Would you like some?"

"No thanks, I was the taste tester," Tony announced, glad that he got to do something around the house, it made him feel grown up. "I ate a bunch, so I'm still full. I think I'll go play fetch with Fluffy so she doesn't get bored. Can you come play with us?"

"I think I can go watch after I eat," you replied. You were usually not even strong enough to throw a stick farther than a child and you certainly didn't have the endurance to run around chasing after an energetic dog. But you were feeling so well today, maybe you could push yourself a little.

"Okay, we'll be waiting for you," Tony went back outside.

Artie served the steak, it looked delicious. "Thank you," you voiced as you picked up your eating utensils. You tried to eat slowly, like a lady, but it was so delicious you were having a hard time pacing yourself. On the bright side, you didn't feel sick at all.

"Princess... About that man I wanted to introduce..." Your father tried again. "If you feel that you're taking a liking to him, I will not be opposed to it." You blinked and considered saying something, but your mouth was full and it would be bad manners to speak like that. You observed that your father was nervous. He only got like this when you were feeling stubborn about your ineffective medical treatments in the past and refused to take your medicine.

"Maybe we should let Melinda talk to her, you know, woman to woman," Artie quietly suggested. So the chef and his wife were in on this too. That only made you more suspicious. Could your father really be planning your marriage? He wouldn't do that to you... Unless he thought he was doing the right thing.

You were quite sickly, though today you felt miraculously healthy. Maybe he just wanted to make sure you had someone to take care of you, since you were usually asleep most of the time which would render you incapable of learning, let alone running, the family business. Maybe he had found a kind man that you could grow to love. You'd take things slowly and give him a chance. Having finished your meal, you stood up. "I heard that," you announced, even if you knew that Artie had purposely spoken just loud enough for you to hear. "Okay, I'll go talk to Melinda."

xoxox xox xoxox

You headed across the mansion, finding that the walk was very easy. You made your way into the fashion room, the place where Melinda spent most of her time. The place was filled with fabrics and sewing supplies in every imaginable color. Mannequins posed with dresses and suits in various stages of completion. You found the seamstress humming to herself as she worked on a dress, a white dress. You tried not to think about it too much as you made your presence known, "morning, Melinda."

"Oh, hey sleeping beauty, what brings you here? Want to see the progress on your dress? Are you excited?" Melinda bombarded you with cheerful questions about cake flavors, flowers and honey moon spots that you definitely were not ready to answer. Well, at least she was effective in making the situation sink in, the marriage was happening. She stopped, taking in your shocked expression. "Oh, I'm sorry dear, was I supposed to be the one to gently break in the news? No one told me that and I thought you already knew."

You shook your head and Melinda got up from in front of the sewing machine, then sat down at a small sofa, tossing aside the shreds of fabric that were spread about its surface for color comparison. She patted the empty space next to her where you sat down. "Listen sweetie, sometimes you have to take your chances and trust the people around you." Melinda spoke in a motherly tone. Since you didn't remember your biological mother, she was the closest you had, despite being too young to be your mother. She switched from mom to give you careful advice to big sister to give you mischievous advice as needed. Not that you ever had the energy to get into mischief before, but you were still amused listening to her.

"I don't fully understand what's going on," Melinda admitted. "but I know your father is not like the other merchants. He's only making it look like this is a business deal so that the others won't think it's odd, but no doubt about it, his heart is in the right place," she reassured with a smile. "Maybe he's trying to give you some freedom by getting you an exotic husband from outside of Sina. Just try to picture him, he's a scout, a brave warrior nothing short of legendary with the strength and courage to fight for humanity. I bet he's sweet and super hot," she teased.

You couldn't help it but to laugh, "okay, okay, I'll give this mystery man a chance. Maybe you're right, maybe I will like him. Maybe all I have to do is meet him and I'll know that there's nothing to worry about..."

(End of Flashback)

xoxox xox xoxox

Chapter 5: Conflict of Interest

Your life had been turned upside-down and you didn't know what to think of it. You stood in a dark tunnel in a an alley with a man you've only just met and married less than an hour ago. You were confused after something that was not short of being called super natural had occurred, monstrous limbs materializing out of thin air was just not normal. Yet out of all the things Levi could have said, "it all makes sense now," was not what you expected.

"I don't understand," you stated the obvious, your mind in a whirlwind of confusion.

"Your father was present at Eren Yeager's trial. When you began to show signs of being a titan yourself, he must have known your life was in danger. Because the court allowed Eren to live under my supervision, he decided to put you in the same place. This is what he was talking about when he said all marriages have secrets and those who tell them are to blame. He wasn't just talking about keeping the fact that it's arranged a secret, he expects me to keep your abilities a secret or I'll somehow be blamed for it, as if I made you this way. Then Eren will be dragged into it because he's my responsibility and taking back Maria will be a whole different picture." During his whole explanation, Levi carefully watched you for reactions. "You really had no clue..." he concluded.

"He was protecting me..." It was odd to feel relieved with all the things you just learned, more than half of which you weren't sure you fully understood. Yet you were smiling, "I knew it, I knew my father would never do anything that could hurt me. He didn't want to push me into marriage, he had no choice, he did this to protect me."

"Killing you to prevent you from going on an insane rampage that would kill who knows how many innocents would get me sentenced to, death probably, and Eren will get dragged into it. Even if I don't kill you, if another titan fight happens in the city, the Survey Corps will not come out of it unscratched. That selfish bastard created a difficult situation," Levi glared in anger.

You felt your own temper flare. "Don't you dare insult my father!" You shouted, not caring about who might hear. "He's doing what a good father should do, making sure his daughter is safe!"

"The rest of the world be damned," Levi retorted.

"That's not true!" You yelled, "my father does a lot of good, he helps a lot of people. He's not like the other greedy merchants! What makes you think I'll go on a rampage and kill anyone? I would never hurt an innocent person! Besides, don't you have a way to put this Eren I keep hearing about back in human form? Why can't you -hmp!"

You were silenced by Levi's hand over your mouth, you didn't even know how he moved to your side so quickly. "This is all to remain in absolute secrecy."

You pushed his hand away, resisting the temptation to bite it in anger. "I'm not stupid," you growled. "I know it'll be troublesome if anyone knows."

"Then that settles it," the additional voice made you jump and turned to look at the other side of the tunnel. Commander Erwin Smith emerged from the darkness, Levi appeared to have been already aware of his presence. "Several high ranking officials have been pushing for the dissolution of the Survey Corps and the execution of Eren Yaeger, using his fight with the female titan to illustrate their points, but only in a way that's convenient to them. Your father has the resources to turn the tide either way. You seem to be peculiarly unaware of your own situation."

"I don't think it's strange," you admitted, challenging Erwin's suspicious look with your certainty. "My father was trying to protect me. I have no doubts in my heart that he was hoping I would never need to hear any of this, but he took precautions anyway. He's always taken care of me..."

"You mean sheltered you," Levi interjected, though he seemed to have calmed down or was trying to appear as indifferent as possible. His scowl was ever present though, you wondered if his face was physically capable of forming other expressions.

Before you could throw out a retort, Erwin interrupted, with a firm and final tone. "For the sake of the continued existence of the Survey Corps and your safety," he gave you a serious look. "All of this is to remain in absolute secrecy." A heavy silent pause floated in the air, during which neither you nor Levi presented any protests. "About the marriage," Erwin continued with the same serious tone that left no room for argument. "It would complicate things if the union's purpose was brought into question. For the sake of simplicity, can you both pretend to be willingly married?"

"I already said I would do what's needed for the scouts," Levi reaffirmed. He certainly wasn't happy about it, but he had gain an atmosphere of composure, not quite resignation, just calm composure and his constant frown.

You noted that Erwin said willingly, not happily or lovingly, just willingly. In other words, you didn't need to like Levi and he didn't need to like you, you just needed to tolerate each other. "I can deal with it too," you agreed. You were sure those two would later find a way to privately discuss all the happenings, and plot something or other, but you didn't care.

At least now you understood, at least in part, why you were in this difficult situation and what you needed to do. If you learned to control your abilities, if you made it possible so that you were no longer a danger to yourself or others, then this whole charade would be over. You could get a divorce and get on with your life. You just had to learn to control... a titan... The weight of the situation finally hit you beyond the heat of the moment. "I'm a monster..." You whispered before you could give it any real thought, the quiet statement had just slipped out without your brain's permission.

"Only if that's what you choose to be..." Levi began to walk up the stairs of the tunnel. You wanted to retort with a biting remark, but the lack of malice in his statement caught you off guard.

To your further surprise, Erwin nodded in accord, "part of the agreement is that you're not pressured to join the Survey Corps. Even if you join willingly, it might not be interpreted as such at the moment, so that's not an option right now. But when the tensions calm down, you could be a great asset to the Survey Corps and to humanity." You weren't sure what to say to that, so you ended up not saying anything. Even so, it was like Erwin was reading something on your face that screamed amidst your silence, something that spoke volumes that only he could hear... Or maybe, just maybe, even if you yourself didn't know what was there to be seen, perhaps Levi could hear beyond the silence too.

To be Continued

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