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

Part 2

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 - 13068 words - Complete

A Matter of Stature

Chapter 6: Welcome Home

Erwin, Levi and you went on your way with no other titan incidents. Levi stayed nearby to keep an eye on you. It was making you uneasy, but not frightened. You were in a relatively safe position and he was your unwilling bodyguard. Erwin went on ahead, with Levi purposely slowing his pace, not for your benefit, but to allow Erwin to disappear ahead. You and Levi got to a small castle, which he approached. You have never walked so much in your life, but it was nice that you were physically able to do so now, so you didn't complain. You looked at the little castle, it was not what you would call a large mansion, but it was okay.

"Is this your house?" You had assumed that it was and didn't think you needed any confirmation, but you wanted to end the uncomfortable silence. If you were going to tolerate each other and make a somewhat believable act of a willing marriage, then you would have to get used to at least being able to have a casual conversation every now and then.

"No, we passed my house on the way here," Levi replied. None of the small, or at least small by your standards, residences in Rose had caught your attention. Though this wasn't the poorest sector, the middle class aesthetic was still a sharp contrast to the luxury of Sina. "This is the Survey Corps' base. I spend most of my time here and this is where you will live as well."

"Ok..." You didn't know what else to say. You weren't sure if this new development was good or bad.

The two of you went inside. You followed Levi as he navigated the structure and passed a loud room. You stopped and curiously looked in. There were a lot of tables there occupied by many people eating dinner, wearing identical uniforms. You recognized Erwin and the three scouts from earlier. The girl spotted you and the two boys followed her gaze to the door.

You stood there, trapped in place by their curious eyes until Levi pulled you away. "With your abilities out of control, you could be a danger to them." You opened your mouth to protest but Levi spoke first, "even if you don't want to hurt them," he cut you off. "Your abilities are different from Eren's. He needs to bleed to transform, as did the female titan. You were not wounded when your legs transformed earlier, or when your hand almost transformed when you were signing the document."

You thought about when you were about to sign the document. You didn't notice anything out of the ordinary, but you weren't paying attention. Still, you didn't want to make him trust you less. You didn't care about his personal opinion, but you were not a dangerous monster and you didn't want to be treated as one, so you didn't comment on the fact that you were too distracted to notice your hand. Thinking back on it, it did kind of hurt, though you had assumed you were simply squeezing the pen too tight. A look of realization crossed your features. "It's not completely random," you concluded, "I can't explain what triggers it, but I can tell when it's happening, it hurts."

Pain seemed to be a reasonable element in the mix. "If you were to transform, you can alert me?"

"Yes," you replied without thinking.

"If you notice it," Levi added. You expected him to be angrier for some reason, but rather than becoming more hostile, the difficult situation seemed to give him something to think about and make him more focused. Maybe it was like Erwin said, maybe you could be useful to humanity and he wanted to encourage that.

"Yeah, but with all the mist everyone will notice." You paused and went over your words. Observing Levi's face you saw no surprise or realization, he must have already considered that angle. "This is the Survey Corps base... they live here too," you realized. It was surprising that so many people could live in a relatively small building, small for a residence anyway. "Are we going to keep this a secret?"

"It will cause unrest if they know and it will be inevitable that the information will reach the public. I'll just have to make sure no accidents happen, I don't want them to get dragged into trouble with the higher ranks at Sina. It might come out eventually, but the situation might be less tense then. For the time being, we'll have to keep this a secret, that's our best strategy at the moment." You mused over Levi's words, at the moment, meaning not necessarily forever. He was right, it was likely to become known eventually.

You weren't sure you ever wanted this to be known. You supposed you could show some interest in the scouts, maybe that will motivate him to be a better mentor in helping you control your titan problem, but that would be using him and he had enough of that as it was. It felt wrong to use him further, to lie to him more than absolutely necessary for self preservation. "You know... My plan, I mean, what will most likely end up happening..." Levi looked at you silently, waiting for you to continue. "I'll learn to control this, suppress it completely, then I'll go home to Sina and... and no one will ever know. We can have a divorce and you'll be rid of me."

"Understandable," he replied. "The scouts are none of your business, I was expecting that you would prefer to return home as soon as it's safe."

"So you don't feel ripped off if I don't stay and help?" You asked, a bit surprised.

"I didn't expect it," Levi's voice held only logical neutrality, but you felt almost offended. It was as if he was saying that he couldn't expect anything from you, because you were that incapable, or unwilling to cooperate. "Your will is not strong enough to be a soldier, you go with the flow too easily and let everyone else arrange your life with no complaints as long as it leads to a comfortable existence."

You could sense a bit more negativity in the elaboration he offered to your curious stare. Your expression turned to anger, but you forced it back into some semblance of neutrality. You wouldn't blow up at him, you wouldn't give him the satisfaction of annoying you. "If it leads to a comfortable existence, why would I resist the flow of life when things are going as well as they can be? If you're talking about the titan thing, I'm determined not to let that ruin my life. I just recovered from my illness and I'm ready to live like a normal person."

"If that's your only goal, to be an ordinary person, it should be easy." As you talked, Levi had led you to a room in the upper floor.

He stopped in front of a door and you considered your words. "I don't think there's anything wrong with being normal."

"There isn't," Levi agreed, though he didn't think it deserved too much merit either, from what you could observe. He opened the door and showed you the room. "I had originally planned to have you stay here. I can come and go easily from the window and everyone would assume that I'm staying here as well, to keep up appearances." Some of your luggage had been delivered to the room and the suitcases were neatly piled in a corner. "The rest of your excessive luggage is in storage," Levi commented. "These should be enough for you to get by."

You wanted to ask how he would know, though it occurred to you that they must have gone through your luggage. It was both embarrassing and infuriating, even if it was born of distrust rather than pure nosiness. The room was very small, it would take some getting used to. It was very clean and you didn't want to sound like a spoiled brat so you decided to compliment the room on that. "It's very clean," it was an honest compliment at least, since the room was neither luxurious nor in any way impressive. "You must be a very neat person."

"I am, thanks." You weren't expecting him to so readily accept the compliment that you thought was pretty weak, let alone to appreciate it. A knock on the door prevented any further discussion from taking place, as Levi replied, "come in."

Erwin entered the room, "have you two had the chance to talk?"

"Not much," Levi admitted, you had talked, but it wasn't too informative and you were sure he would want to ask you a lot of questions. You made a mental note not to get your father into trouble, he had an oath to keep as far as you knew. "We'll need to come up with new sleeping arrangements."

You didn't think there was anything wrong with the current sleeping arrangements. You would get your own room, which was actually Levi's room, and he would sneak off, letting everyone think that he was sharing the room with you. "I have no complaints with staying here," you pointed out.

"She's a lady of Sina, what can we do?" Erwin inquired.

Levi nodded, "I know, it's annoying, but there isn't much else we can do."

"It's ok, really," you insisted, thinking that they were trying to make you comfortable, though their concerns were much more basic.

Levi gave you a rather detailed look. You felt as if he was looking right through you. "I would prefer to chain her in the cellar, at least at night, but-"

Your hand flew against his cheek and he caught it before it reached its target. "Pervert!" You growled.

"What?" Levi questioned, as if the accusation had come out of nowhere.

Erwin laughed, "I think he meant it for safety reasons, so that you wouldn't do anything."

"Me? Why would I want to?!" You threw your hands in the air in exasperation.

Levi, who didn't understand why he was being accused of being a pervert of all things, tried to explain that just because you didn't want to consciously hurt anyone, didn't mean that your titan abilities would obey. "Even if it is not your will, your instinct might cause you to do something you might regret." You attempted to slap him again with the same result as before. How could his reflexes be so fast? Erwin only laughed at the exchange. "I don't see how this is amusing," Levi commented, your hand still in his.

The scouts commander patted you on the shoulder as Levi finally released your hand. "Rest assured, he really has no idea what you're talking about. He's actually talking about your titan abilities. What if you have a nightmare and it triggers them?"

"Oh..." You blushed bright red. "Well... The pain would wake me up, the whole titan thing really hurts. I'll tell you if anything is happening." You moved to the window to look out for the sake of not looking at their faces.

"Wait..." Levi suddenly came to a realization. "That's what you thought? For a lady of Sina you're a bit vulgar."

You pouted and turned to glare at him, "for a scout you sure are slow," it was a weak retort, but it was all you could come up with.

"Anyway, I can't leave you alone in this state, I'll have to stay here." Before you could protest, he added with a certain hint of indignation, "I won't lay a finger on you," as if you were some filthy thing.

You threw your head back and turned back to the window, "like wise." You sniffled quietly. You didn't want to cry, not with anyone present at least. "Can you leave me alone now?"

"No," Levi reminded, "I understand that you don't want to hurt anyone," at least he wasn't bringing that into doubt. "But I can't leave you alone to deal with your titan power."

You hardly felt powerful. "Problem," you corrected.

"It doesn't have to be... But Eren, Mikasa and Armin will have a problem to deal with after dinner," Levi headed for the door. "Would you mind keeping an eye... keeping our guest company while I talk to them?"

"I don't mind, Erwin agreed. Levi left the room.

You kept your eyes out the window, letting the tears flow down your face. "I hate him," you growled.

"Wait, I thought we concluded that he's not a pervert," Erwin pointed out.

"I know that!" You yelled in embarrassment. "I'm just a burden who could possibly be a resource, not even a person. Why can't I be treated as a person?"

"This is a lot to take in, Levi is trying to plan everything out. He's trying to keep the scouts safe from any accidents. He knows that if he messes up, your father will use his influence to end the Survey Corps and Eren. He has come to care for the scouts, even with all the setbacks we often face. I don't know when I might die, none of us do, but taking the fight to the titans is what's important to us. To fight back and defend humanity," Erwin explained. "We're not going to make any progress hiding behind these walls, our resources are barely enough to maintain the population and the terrain will only become more exhausted and live stock rarer than it already is."

You sniffled, blushing a little, attributing it to the crying. "I guess resources might become scarce in the future."

"They already are," Erwin voiced. "You might not notice it in Sina, but here it's evident."

"That bad?" You questioned with genuine curiosity.

"It does get bad for some people," Erwin nodded. "This will be a learning experience for you in more ways than one." He patted you on the head to reassured you. You dried your eyes and smiled, just to be polite in thanks for the consolation.

Though the contents of the conversation were grim when you really thought about it, Erwin's voice was patient, understanding and gentle. Furthermore, he showed some concern for you. It didn't feel wrong or invasive when he patted you on the head. "Thank you for cheering me up, Mr. Smith."

He smiled, "call me Erwin." He paused in thought, then asked, "shall we go see what Levi is up to?"

You would rather stay there and talk to Erwin, he was nice. At the same time you were also curious about what Levi was doing. "Can we?"

"I'm sure he's instructing the cadets right now," Erwin guessed. You recalled that Eren was the one who could turn into a titan. "Maybe it would be good if you see him on the job, then you'll see he's not as bad as you might think. He does care for the scouts, though that must all be put aside for the sake of the greater good." You didn't fully understand what he meant, but since he had suggested it, you felt that you had little choice but to go see Levi. It was ok though, since you were kind of curious.

xoxox xox xoxox

Chapter 7: A Loving Husband

Erwin led you down stairs, casually explaining his purpose along the way. "It's inevitable that you'll have some interaction with the scouts," he explained. "It's also inevitable that the marriage will be known, especially after what Eren, Mikasa and Armin thought they witnessed."

"Speaking of that," you curiously began. "When did you get to the tunnel?"

"I saw Levi run into it with you and went around the other side," Erwin explained. "I saw the partial transformation, but Levi seemed to have things under control, so I didn't interfere." Plus if things did get out of control, a surprise attack would be useful. He didn't say it, but you could easily guess the thought must have crossed his mind. You didn't point it out though.

"So... Um... Eren, Mikasa and Armin..." You repeated their names, committing them to memory. "What do you think they'll do?"

"They didn't see any of the titan manifestations," Erwin further confirmed though that was already known to you. "I believe they assumed you and Levi were..." He paused, as if not wanting to trigger any negative reactions from you.

"Making out," you sighed. The sigh was clearly of exasperation, not desire.

"Exactly," Erwin agreed. "I understand it must be uncomfortable, but don't forget, you are to be introduced as Levi's wife. The cadets will assume that things happen behind closed doors." You blushed, great, just great, how were you supposed to look at them in the face now? "I guess the blushing bride angle isn't bad for now, but you need to become a better actress, for your protection and theirs. You did say you didn't want to hurt anyone."

"I don't," you insisted. "I'll try not to be too awkward, but I'm not kissing him!"

"That's fine, public displays of affection like that would be a bit out of character for Levi," Erwin assured. You appreciated that he was trying to make you feel better.

You didn't know if he was trying to manipulate you to his advantage, but then what could he do? You would divorce Levi as soon as you were in control and leave. "I'm leaving, you know, after I'm in control, divorcing and going back to Sina."

"That's too bad," Erwin commented, though he showed no anger. "I suppose it can't be helped, just stay open to the possibility of changing your mind, even if it seems unlikely."

"Ok," you nodded, glad that he was understanding.

You and Erwin arrived at the mess hall, most of the scouts were gone, their empty plates and used eating utensils still occupying the tables. A few scouts that had taken a little longer to finish eating exited the mess hall, giving Eren, Mikasa and Armin sad looks of compassion.

Levi was there, giving the trio a disapproving look. "Do you know why I assigned you three to clean the whole mess hall and wash all the dishes for the next week? Eren?"

"No, sir," Eren quietly answered. You looked at him curiously, brown hair, green eyes, totally normal looking, but he could transform into a titan. Then again there was nothing unusual about your appearance either.

Mikasa remained quiet, though the look on her face made it evident that she thought the punishment was unfair. She was aware of your presence, she had looked towards the entrance when you arrived with Erwin, while the two boys kept their gazes on their feet. The other boy, Armin, had kept his eyes on the floor the whole time, face slightly flushed as if it was too soon for him to look at Levi in the face after what he thought they had stumbled on.

"Are you sure you don't know?" Levi inquired again. "Armin?"

"Sorry sir," Armin choked out.

"Look at me when I speak to you, cadet," you thought Levi was being unnecessarily harsh, though you didn't know what the three had done. Maybe they were trouble makers, though they didn't look like they were.

"Yes, sir!" Armin looked at Levi, his face red.

"Now answer the question," Levi stated sternly.

"Yes, sir, I'm sorry, sir," Armin gulped and pushed his words out. "We're being punished because we... We saw... We saw you making out!"

Your face turned tomato red and Erwin shook his head, Levi did not look amused. "Wrong answer!" The captain shouted, which caused Armin to apologize again.

"Try to practice not blushing so much, or at least twitching less." Erwin whispered to you. You finally understood why he was making you witness this. He knew the subject of the make out would come up and it was a good chance for you to practice not being so awkward. If Levi was your husband, it made sense that you had kissed him before. You could be a blushing bride as Erwin had said, but it would look suspicious if you were entirely uncomfortable.

"I'll try," you took a deep breath and tried to calm down.

"Do you know the answer to my question, Mikasa?" Levi finally asked.

Mikasa considered it for a moment, before smartly replying, "We deviated from the route we were instructed to take and did not purchase the necessary supplies. It was my fault, I take full responsibility, sir."

"Don't you always?" Levi commented. "Your answer was correct, but it's funny that whenever Eren or Armin's chores are not up to my standards it's always your fault somehow? Well then, if it's your fault, you should wash the dishes alone," he concluded.

You looked at the mess hall, those were a lot of dirty dishes. Mikasa didn't protest, she was displeased, but managed to answer with an unwavering "yes, sir."

"No!" Eren interrupted. "It was my fault, I saw you running through the streets with a woman. I was the first one to get curious. I was the one who assumed you wouldn't mind if we stopped by to talk to you," he quickly explained. "It was my fault, sir, I'll wash the dishes."

"I share the blame," Armin added. "We only wanted to see if there was anything we could help with. We're sorry we interrupted your date, please forgive us, sir. I'll wash the dishes."

"Fine," Levi agreed, "all three of you will wash the dishes... Or you would wash them if we had sponges," Levi scolded. "Keeping the dishes and eating utensils clean is of the outmost importance, as is cleanness in general. Thankfully, I managed to find some sponges in storage that had not been used for anything. You will use those and as you clean the dishes, think about how awful it would be if you didn't have proper sponges to work with. Now go."

Erwin approached Levi while Eren, Mikasa and Armin got busy piling dirty dishes into their arms to take to the kitchen. "That was harsh," you complained. "Those three can't clean this place up by themselves. It would take fifty maids. The three of them will be up all night."

"Normally, everyone takes their dishes to the kitchen and two or three people wash them. They are different every day of the week so everyone get experience in all the different areas of cleaning," Levi explained. He didn't question Erwin's decision to bring you over. "They don't need the whole evening, let along the night to finish this chore. One more thing... Those new bath sponges that were packed for you, I confiscated them."

Your jaw dropped, the nerve of him! "How am I supposed to wash?"

"Water, soap, and your hands," Levi stated the obvious, making you feel like an idiot. "Do I need to show you how to," he paused and cleared his throat, then made a correction. "Explain, do I need to explain how to do that?"

Your face turned red when you realized what his initial phrasing had sounded like, perhaps more so because he was aware of it and corrected himself. You bit your lip and looked to Erwin, hoping he would say something and push the conversation towards less awkward territory, but he was already walking out of the mess hall. "Sure, I'd love to hear it," you decided sarcasm was sassier than silence.

"Well, you should start by making sure the water is a proper temperature. Hot water works best, but of course, not hot enough to damage your skin," Levi recited as you stared at him. Did he just totally one up your sarcasm by answering to it as if it wasn't sarcasm? "When you remove your clothing you should place it on the hamper, never leave it on the floor. Since you'll be using your hands to wash the rest of your body, you should start by making sure they're clean." You were starting to realize that he wasn't being sarcastic, he was actually lecturing you on how to bathe. Was he some kind of neat freak? "Start by wetting the soap and rubbing it on your hands. The consistency of the foam should be-"

"Wait," you interrupted.

"Do you have any questions?" Levi inquired with a straight face.

"Did you realize that I was being sarcastic?" You couldn't help it but to ask.

"Of course I realized it, but I decided to instruct you anyway. You'll be sleeping on my bed." He made a pause and added in a quiet tone to make sure no one else heard, "which I will not be sleeping on myself."

You blushed, was he going to keep bringing that up? "You didn't need to specify that. Anyway," you eagerly changed the subject. "I still think you were too harsh on those three."

"Do you want to help them?" That was sarcasm, that was very clearly sarcasm, but also a challenge. It wasn't one of those stupid challenges where people said something along the lines of 'prove it' and the other person stupidly did what they wanted for the sake of receiving credit that wasn't worth it.

This was different, it was your chance to show him you were more than just the spoiled, sheltered girl he thought you were. He expected you to say no, but instead you said "yes," and you gave him a challenging smile. "And since you're such a wonderful husband, you're going to help out too."

Part of you was sure you had won and the other part was weary of how easily Levi agreed to it. "Very well, I suppose cleaning together is a good bonding activity, and we should keep up the act." The funny part was that he didn't sound sarcastic at all.

Was cleaning a bonding activity? You didn't know, the maids did all the cleaning, you've never cleaned anything before. You were both confused and curious as you walked alongside Levi towards the kitchen. Eren, Mikasa and Armin had finished transporting the dishes there and were busily washing them.

The first thing Levi did when he entered the kitchen was pick up the three discarded jackets from the counter. "You need to be neater than this, have you learned nothing?" He folded them and placed them aside, then went to inspect some of the clean dishes, which made the cadets tense up. "Why is no one drying the dishes?"

The three cadets were in front of a very large sink, their sleeves rolled up to their elbows, hands covered in soap, holding your sponges. "We thought that we should wash them first and let them dry while we washed the rest. Then if they were still wet when we finished, we could finish drying them," Eren tried to explain.

"Unacceptable!" Levi scolded. "That is a lazy shortcut. You need to dry the dishes immediately or they won't shine. Lucky for you, my wife has decided she wants to help and I'll be helping as well."

Armin dropped a glass and it shattered on the floor. "I'm sorry sir!" He quickly went to pick it up, with Mikasa and Eren automatically going on their knees as well to help him.

"Eren, don't pick it up, it's dangerous for you to get any cuts," Levi protested. He was referring to Eren's titan abilities, you realized.

"Oh right, I'm very sorry sir, I'll be more careful," Eren instead went back to washing the dishes.

"Sheesh, do you have to be so stern?" You joined the other two in picking up the glass shards before Levi could stop you. It was an automatic action with no real thought other than good intentions. You didn't realize that you could be at risk of transforming as well. "Ouch!"

Levi rushed to your side, the worry evidenced by his speed. You instinctually put your finger in your mouth, though Levi pulled it out and examined your hand. He gave you a serious look, "are you alright?"

You blushed because he was staring right at you with his piercing eyes and he was still holding your hand. "Yes, I'm fine." Then your brain finally decided to remind you that you were a titan shifter too, not just Eren. "I'm okay, really."

"Maybe you shouldn't do this," Levi suggested, though it felt, albeit not really sounded, more so like an order.

"I'm fine," you reaffirmed with a somewhat believable smile. You didn't want to be treated like a caged animal.

"We'll go over there and dry the dishes." Realizing that you weren't going to change your mind, Levi agreed. The complete absence of the titan mist that preceded your past partial transformation reassured his choice, though he still positioned himself between you and the three dish washers, who were giving him curious looks. As a way of explanation, he offered, "I was going to introduce her to everyone tomorrow, but since you already met her, this is (Name), she is my wife and will be living here from now on."

"Nice to meet you," you smiled a bit nervously, though you didn't think it was too suspicious. You were moving to a new place and were meeting your husband's coworkers and friends for the first time. It was ok and even natural to be a little nervous.

"Nice to meet you too, I'm Eren," you had a feeling that he would have shaken your hand if Levi wasn't so firmly planted between you and if his hands weren't covered in soap. "These are my friends, Mikasa and Armin."

Mikasa gave a simple, "hello," that hinted at some level of curiosity, while Armin gave you a shy, "hi, it's nice... meeting you..." He smiled a little shyly, but he seemed to be getting over whatever shock the fact that you were Levi's wife had put him into.

You started to dry a dish, only to have Levi correct you and instruct you on how to properly do it, though he did so as nicely as possible, for appearances' sake, taking your hand and moving it along the dish to demonstrate, though that only made you blush more. you wished you didn't get embarrassed so easily, but you couldn't help it. Because of your past illness, you'd never even done as much as hold hands with a man before.

You could tell that Eren, Mikasa and Armin were curious about you, but they didn't want to appear nosy in front of Levi. Maybe you could talk to them later, Erwin did mention that you would be interacting with the scouts. you'd have to talk to Levi about it to get your stories straights. If this was a willing marriage, then there had to be an equally willing courtship before it, and it would be odd if your stories didn't match. That conversation might turn out to be uncomfortable, but you knew it had to happen and surely Levi must have thought about it too, so he would likely bring it up soon if you didn't.

Without warning, your stomach growled. "You never got around to eating dinner," Levi recalled.

"Neither did you," you observed.

"I got caught up in the cleaning," Levi admitted, actually sounding like he was enjoying it. He really must be a neat freak. "You should go eat, it's not good for you to be hungry." To anyone else, this and the scene when you cut your finger might appear to be Levi being a caring husband, but you knew he was concerned about anything that might turn you into a monster. The thought did scare you, which was why you decided not to think about it. You would let Levi concern himself with the titan and follow his lead in regards to that issue.

xoxox xox xoxox

Chapter 8: Interrogation Conversation

After dinner, you finished helping with the dishes and returned to Levi's room, exhausted. Dinner wasn't so bad, the food wasn't as pretty and decorated or as tasty as Artie's, but it was ok. You could hope that tomorrow's menu was better, but for now, you were just hoping that Levi's bed was soft. He went into his room along with you, making it clear that he wasn't about to let you go straight to sleep. "We need to agree on our story."

"Now?" You dropped across the bed, your legs dangling over the edge. "I'm so tired." You moved to lie down properly and let out a little squeak of surprise when Levi grabbed your ankles.

He pushed your legs back down and scolded, "shoes off."

"Alright, alright!" You removed your shoes and lay down, ankles crossed, hands behind your head. If they wanted you to act comfortable around Levi, then you might as well start practicing. "I'm listening."

Levi sat on a chair, expression serious. "Tell me about your past."

"My past? Ok..." You thought about what you could say, there wasn't much to tell really. "I was sick until recently. I didn't do much except sleep most of the time. At Sina I lived with my father and the staff. My mother passed away when I was a toddler and I don't remember much about her. My father has always been very kind to me. My closest friends other than my father are Melinda, the seamstress, Artie, the chef, their son Tony, one of our younger maids, Mary Anne and Dr. Facio... Oh and I have a pink poodle named Fluffy, but she likes Tony best. I tried to play with her before leaving for Rose and she just barked at me." That had made you a little sad. Though Fluffy had never been too close to you because you didn't have the energy to play with her much, she had never been hostile towards anyone before. "What about you?"

Levi's explanation was more so about the Survey Corps than himself. He told you about the scouts, Eren, Mikasa, Armin, Erwin, Hange, who was crazy, or so he said, Sasha, Connie, Jean, Krista and the others. You tried your best to pay attention, but you knew you'd forget more than half the things he said by tomorrow, if not sooner. You would remember Eren, Mikasa and Armin, since you had met them, and of course, Erwin, but the others were still a mystery to you. Levi only gave you basic information and physical descriptions along with a few minor details such as quiet, loud, clumsy with a mop and so on. You didn't really feel particularly informed, but you did feel a little overwhelmed.

You realized that, thinking back on it, you never really knew the whole mansion staff. You could recognize the familiar faces and know that you had seen them before, but other than the chef, the seamstress and the maid assigned to clean after you, you had little occasion to cross paths with anyone else. On a good day, if you did feel well enough to walk around, you ended up going to Melinda and not really talking to anyone new.

You had a feeling that Levi knew more about the scouts that he wasn't telling. It was ok though, you'd just get to know them at your own pace and then... Then you'd get a divorce and leave... But nothing was to stop you from maintaining correspondence with the scouts if you made friends. You tried to be optimistic and were so lost in your own thought that you missed Levi's question.

"Are you even listening to me?" Levi woke you from your thoughts.

"Um... What was it?" You gave him an innocent look, there was really no use in pretending you knew what the question had been.

"I asked you to explain what the illness you mentioned was. If it had such a big influence in your life as you make it sound, I should have heard about it before," Levi reasoned.

"I don't know what it was," you admitted. "It killed my mother, it's some genetic failure I guess. Don't worry, it's not contagious and I'm cured anyway."

"You recovered when your titan abilities manifested?" Levi inquired. You shrugged and didn't voice a reply. "What caused you to change?" You didn't reply. Levi tried to maintain a patient attitude, reminding himself that this wasn't a military interrogation, but a conversation. "From what I understand, you must have become this way to save your life."

"Yes," you nodded, maybe more so to reassure yourself than anything else. "It was all done with good intentions."

"And good intentions aside, simply asking for help from the scouts was out of the question," Levi mused aloud, as if to observe your reaction.

"Well... I guess the communication between Sina and the Survey Corps isn't always the best," you reasoned. "Besides, why would you help? Wouldn't it just be troublesome for you to help me learn to repress this problem and get little in return? I mean, you could be paid, but my father doesn't know you, how can he trust you? He felt that he had no choice but to get something to hold over your head. He won't end the scouts though. I know he won't, he's not a bad person. This doesn't have to be complicated."

"Why involve the scouts at all?" Levi wondered. "Why not just hide you in your mansion and use bribery on the court if your condition ever became public? I'm not a titan shifter expert, I was simply put in charge of Eren because I can kill him if he gets out of control. Controlling his abilities is something that he's learning on his own, you might have been better off in the familiar comfort of your home."

You took in Levi's words. Why were you sent away? Was your father worried that he wouldn't be able to keep you under control? Why didn't he accompany you to Rose? Was he actually afraid of you? How could he be? You would never hurt him or anyone dear to you. "I don't know," the situation was difficult and hurtful. You felt your eyes water again.

"If that not knowing bothers you, then ask about it. Ask for an explanation, even if you don't share it with me, ask for your own sake," Levi suggested.

You nodded, "ok..." albeit you guessed he wanted to get that information out of you. You also wondered if the explanations would be denied to stop him or Erwin from making you talk. They couldn't harm you, or openly pressure you, but they could gently get you caught up in conversation. There was more than one way to interrogate someone, and you had a feeling that they knew plenty. Even so, everything was so overwhelming you were just about ready to snap. You looked at Levi, then turned your head to stare at the ceiling, his eyes were so piercing you didn't know if you wanted to look more, or look away, so you settled for the latter.

"So..." Levi continued as if this was just a casual conversation between friends. "How did we meet?"

You thought the question was odd. You met when you went to sign the marriage document. But then you realized he was referring to your fake story. "At Sina, I suppose... What might have made you go there?"

"I could be picking up supplies for the Survey Corps, or going over a supply contract," Levi suggested. "Usually, Erwin takes care of that, since he's the commander, but I could have filled in. You could have been present because your father's business alliance sometimes supplies the scouts."

"Right," you nodded, the story sounded believable so far. "Maybe you had to stay in Sina to see to other business and since you had some free time between meetings we talked and looked around." You just hoped they didn't ask for too many details about Sina, you didn't go out much due to your past state of fragility, so you weren't exactly an expert on your home town.

"Then we saw each other whenever I could take a break from the scouts..." Levi mused. "Which wasn't often," he recalled.

"We wrote to each other and made every moment count," you added. This was sounding like a cute little love story, even if it was a lie. It was kind of fun to invent things like this. "What kind of dates did we go on?"

Levi paused for a moment... "Shopping for cleaning supplies together?"

You laughed, then realized it was an actual suggestion. "That's not very romantic," you admitted. "How about shopping for jewels, jewels are romantic."

"How about just looking around the city? On the subject of jewels, here," Levi pulled a little box out of his pocket and tossed it to you. You failed to catch it and it landed on your stomach. It was a minor annoyance, but the box was small, so it didn't hurt. "That's supposed to be your ring. Don't ask me how I managed to get my hands on a diamond that big."

"It's beautiful," you put the ring on an admired it. You knew this was purchased by your father, for the sake of your fake marriage, but it was still pretty. "Taking a walk around the city and just relaxing sounds like a good date," you agreed, still mesmerized by the large diamond.

"Don't you have a whole collection of other jewels?" Levi asked with some level of annoyance that he seemed to be trying to hold back.

"I guess so, I've never had much occasion to wear them though," you mused.

"They didn't really pack much for you in the way of jewelry," Levi observed.

"Oh..." You shrugged. "I don't mind. I guess it's better if I don't stand out too much. So..." you continued, "what other dates did we go on?"

Levi shrugged, "where would you have wanted to go?"

"A ball? Balls are always so pretty and exciting in stories!" You smiled dreamily.

"Ever been to one?" Levi inquired.

"No," you admitted.

"Lucky you," he replied.

"How come? Have you been to a ball?" You shifted your position on the bed to rest at your side and look at him.

"Unfortunately yes. Some merchant was trying to get a good reputation by participating on a charity event for people who were still struggling after the loss of Maria. The Survey Corps needed representatives to be there, so Erwin, Hange and I got dragged into it," the memory was clearly not a good one for Levi.

Even if it was evident in his voice that he had not enjoyed the ordeal, you eagerly asked, "was it fun? Was it pretty? Did you have a date? Did you dance? Did you eat cake?"

"No, I don't care, no, against my will and a little," Levi replied.

You went over the order of your questions and his replies in your head. Fun, no, pretty, don't care, dancing, unwillingly, cake, a little. "Tell me about the dance," you smiled widely. The unwilling dances were always the most interesting in stories, because the unwillingness was always a pretence.

Levi frowned, "I don't see how that's relevant."

"Aw, cmon!" You whined.

"Just some stupid merchants trying to show how kind they are by dancing with the scouts," Levi elaborated.

"I've never danced," you pouted. "I want to try it, at least once in my life." You paused, realizing how silly you sounded. You had more energy now and were awake enough to be sufficiently coordinated, at least in theory. "I guess I can now that I'm healthy. It's funny, thinking of these simple things that I couldn't do before, but now they could become reality." Dancing with your prince charming, going on real dates, your first kiss... "So... um... When was our first kiss?" Levi shrugged, letting you decide for yourself. You thought about it, trying to come up with something exciting. "In the middle of a battle field with titans all around!"

"Did you get that from a novel? It's too unrealistic," Levi pointed out.

"I know, I know," you laughed. "I was just kidding. How about on the rooftop of my home under the stars?"

"Sounds reasonable. Is there anything else you think they'll ask?" Levi inquired. He wasn't really expecting the story to need to many details other than how you met and a few dates.

"How did you ask me to marry you?" You hoped his reply was at least a little creative.

He shrugged. "Will you marry me? Like that."

You rolled your eyes, "we went for a walk in the underground city and you asked me there, okay?"

Levi gave you a curious look, but quickly regained a neutral expression. "No one goes there."

"I want to go," you eagerly shared your enthusiasm. "I know most if not all of the urban legends about the underground city are fake, but it'll still be interesting to see the real life place where all those legends were inspired. What do you think it's like down there?"

"I wouldn't know," for some reason, you got the feeling that he was lying, even if it was such an odd detail to lie about.

"I guess that's it then... Unless you can think of something else?" You yawned, hoping that it really was over. You were very tired from the busy day, but at least you managed to have a civilized conversation with Levi and that somehow felt like a victory.

"Not really..." A knock on the door interrupted Levi from speaking further. He was surprised by it, but quickly went to see who it was. His guess was that it would be Erwin, but instead he found a woman with glasses and a large box in her arms.

"Could you take this? It's heavy!" Without waiting for a reply, she shoved the box into Levi's arms. "Well, it's early so I hope I'm not interrupting anything. That box was left in the basement, good thing I noticed it." You had finished sitting up when she spotted you and rushed over. "Nice to meet you (Name), I'm Hange," she took both your hands in greeting. "Has your husband told you about me? I research titans."

"And the grape vine," Levi added.

"You were going to introduce her tomorrow anyway," Hange reminded, showing that she was indeed well informed. It's not like Levi had told Eren, Mikasa and Armin that this was supposed to be a secret, and who knew how many people had heard about it before you were even introduced to them. Seeing Levi making out, as they had assumed they did, was irresistible news that begged to be shared. "Are you interested in titan research?" Hange's eyes shone as she asked.

You never really gave it much thought beyond the heroic tales of fiction, but you did have a titan problem of your own. It was supposed to remain a secret, but even ordinary people sometimes got curious about the titans. Yet Levi was shaking his head. Would it really be that suspicious if you showed a moderate amount of interest? "Um... well..."

Hange suddenly looked in Levi's direction. "I saw you," she pouted. "I get it, you think I'm going to chew her ear off with my research. I did stay up all night talking to Eren that one time. I think he very much enjoyed our chat and it was very interesting." She took a few steps towards the door. "I get it, I can take a hint, you want your bride all to yourself. Don't worry (Name) when Levi burns enough energy to bear the thought of sharing your time, we can have a nice long chat about titans. Good thing I brought your books, that should give you some inspiration to tire him out faster," she giggled.

"Get out," Levi growled. Giggling nonstop, Hange retreated out of the room and Levi locked the door behind her. "I should have burned your stupid books. I don't want the scouts getting a hold of them, especially the new recruits."

You curiously examined the box Hange had delivered, confused by her words. "What are these books anyway? And what did she mean by tiring you out?" You picked up one of the books at random and instantly dropped it in realization, as if it was made of fire. "Don't answer," you blushed bright red. "These are not my books," you defended. "These are Melinda's, she used to read them to me because I was bedridden and would probably never have the energy to go on a date, let alone get a husband. I didn't pack them, they're not mine. It's not like I asked her to read them. She's like a big sister to me, she was just trying to... I don't know, make it so I wouldn't entirely miss out on this aspect of life? Please don't tell my father, I don't want to get her into trouble. There's no way he knows she packed these for me." Your face kept turning a deeper shade of red as you recalled listening to Melinda read the explicit romantic novels. Often, Mary Anne would join in to lend an ear. While Melinda tried to paint a pretty picture in your life despite your past limitations, Mary Anne was more frank. "Just so you know, my favorite parts were the action scenes with sword fights and stuff like that."

"What you read in your spare time is none of my business," Levi informed. He indifferently approached the window and used his ODM gear to climb out.

Great, just great, Levi thought you were a pervert. You knew Melinda was trying to cheer you up with this little joke delivery, if it even was a joke on her part. You certainly hoped it was, because there was no reason for you to ever kiss this man, let alone do more. This was only a pretend marriage, even if that fact was to remain a secret.

xoxox xox xoxox

Chapter 9: Fear

The next day, Levi returned to his room through the window and woke you up. You were started by his presence bent over the bed hovering over you as he shook your shoulder and commented, "you sleep like a rock."

Your face was bright red from the uncalled dreams that had invaded your subconscious. You hoped that he would just assume that it was perfectly normal for a girl to blush upon waking up for no reason what so ever. It was a long shot to hope for such luck, but it was better than taking your chances with a comment of your own, thus you remained silent.

Satisfied with your mostly awake state, Levi headed for the door. "Let's go have breakfast with everyone. I need to introduce you to them officially. Don't take too long to get ready."

"Good morning to you too," you pouted as he exited the room and closed the door behind him.

You hurried to get ready, digging through your bags to find something to wear. You missed having Melinda pick out your clothing and leave them in the bathroom for you to change into at whatever time you got up. At least you recalled to toss your clothes into the hamper when you changed, like Levi said, instead of leaving them wherever for Mary Anne to pick up.

After you felt more or less ready for the day, though still a bit drowsy, you exited the room and found Levi waiting at the door. "What took so long?"

"I had to find my clothes," you truthfully replied. "I didn't finish checking all the suitcases last night."

"You don't have servants here," Levi reminded. "You have to learn to pick up after yourself."

"I did," you defended. "I'm just not a morning person."

The two of you headed to the mess hall quietly. Levi was such an enigma. Part of the time you couldn't stand him, part of the time you were curious about him, part of the time you thought you could be friends and most of the time there was a barrier between you. You decided there and then, that even if it was for nothing, even if you were to go your separate ways in the end, you would solve the enigma that was Levi, if only for curiosity's sake.

You and Levi arrived at the mess hall. The place was filled with all the scouts, noisily chatting as they ate breakfast. Yet the whole room fell silent as Levi entered with you at his side. As you walked beside him, a few soft murmurs emerged from the quietude, but they dissolved just as quickly as they came. It was just enough for you to catch small bits and pieces such as the observation that Levi was slightly late to breakfast this morning. You gathered that he was particularly punctual and people had their theories to explain his lateness, though they dared not discuss them in his presence even as a whisper. You had never felt so many pairs of eyes on you and it was making you very uncomfortable.

Levi suddenly stopped between two tables in the middle of the room and simply said. "Everyone, this is my wife, (Name), she will be living here from now on." Then he continued walking while everyone continued staring at your blushing face. Levi sat down and you sat down next to him, not knowing what else to do.

Hange put plates of food in front of you and Levi, using the delivery of food as an excuse to sit across from the two of you. "So (Name), do you think that you'll have time to chat about titan research this evening?" She immediately inquired.

"Um... I don't know?" You offered shy and quiet.

"I guess I shouldn't expect you to be available in the evenings for a while," Hange mused aloud. You thought you heard a whistle from one of the neighboring tables, but you couldn't pin point the culprit. "How about today? Hey Levi, weren't you going to take a few cadets and clean the yard? Those leaves are really coming down and I know how much you hate them piling up. Can I borrow (Name) while you do that?"

"No, she'll be raking leaves with us," Levi replied.

"Wow, I guess it wasn't an exaggeration," Hange laughed. "I heard you're such a caring husband, fussing about every little detail to please your lovely bride," she teased.

"It's none of your business," Levi replied coolly.

You looked around while the conversation went on, noticing that the majority of the scouts, save for Erwin and a handful of others, who were still calmly sitting in the same spot, had moved closer to your position and were surrounding you and Levi.

"Is there a reason for this mutiny?" Levi inquired. You unconsciously scooted closer to him as the scouts formed a tighter circle around the two of you.

"I hardly call this mutiny, we're showing our support," Hange smiled mischievously. "We need to see it to really believe it, we're still in shock. We didn't even know you had a girlfriend."

You began to recite the false story you and Levi agreed on last night in your head, in preparation to answer any number of curious questions. Yet instead of requesting information, led by Hange, the scouts began to chant, "kiss! Kiss! Kiss!"

Your face was so hot you were starting to fear it would go up in flames. At least there was no titan mist anywhere. You were frozen in place, completely stiff and embarrassed, wishing that the floor would swallow you up. Then you felt Levi's lips on your cheek, brief and just barely perceptible.

"Satisfied?" Levi glared.

"No!" Hange complained, "we want a real kiss!" The scouts continued to chant, "kiss! Kiss! Kiss!"

Fed up with the display, Levi stood up and loudly declared, "we will clean every fallen leaf, in all of Rose!"

There was a collective gasp among the scouts and a terrible silence invaded the mess hall. Then something peculiar happened. It started with Armin, it continued with Eren, Mikasa looked at her friends, shrugged and joined in, then the rest of the scouts, Hange included, started doing it too. They were all looking at you, lips puckered, eyes wide, they were like sad kittens begging for mercy. You shifted uncomfortably, put on the spot. "Um... Levi... Aren't you being a little hard on them?"

"You're too soft," Levi calmly replied.

"But there are a lot of fallen leaves in Rose, I mean, it is the fall season, so..." You tried to argue in their behalf.

"Someone has to clean them," Levi stated.

"Not all in the same day," you tried to reason with him.

"Just kiss him," Hange whispered.

You gulped, unsure of what to do. Your fear of embarrassment evolved into something more. Just as you had when you signed the document and when you were walking with Levi, you feared for your life, not for death, but for discomfort. You feared the hardship that would surround your life if you couldn't learn to deal with this crazy situation. Would you always be embarrassed, awkward and wishing so strongly to run away? You wanted to run away so badly... Then you felt it, a pain on your legs, like the pain on your hand when you wanted to shatter the pen and not sign the marriage document and like the pain on your legs last time you felt the urge to run away.

It was a response to fear, you realized, a sort of fight or flight instinct, the first time you had wanted to fight the path that had been set before you and the second time you wanted to run away, now again you wished to run. You looked at Levi, getting just close enough to whisper in his ear, "it hurts..." he would know what you meant.

He wrapped his arms around you, not for your protection as it appeared to the observers, but to protect everyone else in the room by restraining you. He peeked under the table and saw the mist, but everyone else was focused on your blushing face. You buried your face on his shoulder and tried to calm down. "I can stop it," you whispered to him.

"Stop staring," Levi scolded menacingly, "you're making her uncomfortable."

Most of the crowd dispersed with just Hange, you and Levi remaining at that table. You took deep even breaths and peeked over Levi's shoulder. Most people had gone back to eating their breakfast, though they still gave you sideway glances and quietly commented in surprise about how sweet Levi was, being all protective of you. "I think I'm ok," you weren't entirely calm, but calm enough so that the titan mist was gone.

Levi glared at Hange, who was sitting across from the two of you, her chin resting on her folded hands. She jumped back and scurried off to a different table without another word. Once she was gone, Levi whispered, "did you learn something?"

You nodded, "it's fear," you whispered back. "The mist only happens if I'm scared and want to defend myself or run away."

"Sounds like things you wouldn't be exposed to if you had stayed at Sina," Levi quietly whispered. The scouts probably thought you were telling each other sweet nothings or something.

"Then why... Why was I sent here?" The question weighed heavily on your shoulders. You needed to speak to your father somehow. You needed to know what was really going on. You ate some more breakfast, though the stress had mostly made you lose your appetite and it wasn't as good as Artie's food anyway. "I'm done..." you finally announced.

Levi got up, leaving the dirty dishes on the table for Eren, Mikasa and Armin to take care of later. He placed his arm around your waist as you walked out of the mess hall. You didn't think he was reassuring you as much as restraining you just in case you turned into a crazy half titan killing machine. You didn't want to think about that now, the only thing that occupied your mind was knowing why your father had truly send you away if he could have kept you safe at Sina. You leaned into Levi and closed your eyes, allowing him to lead you away into a safer location, or the illusion of it.

xoxox xox xoxox

Chapter 10: Friends

Since you weren't supposed to leave Rose, you had to communicate with your father by letter. You knew the letter would be intercepted, but yours didn't have anything that Levi didn't already know and your father must have figured out that they would be keeping an eye on your mail. Even if that made him unable to answer, he would at least know about your confusion and maybe send you a sign. You weren't harsh in your letter, just confused. After it was sent, there was little more to do but to wait for the reply to arrive.

Erwin wouldn't let Levi overtake all of Rose with a cleaning spree, citing something about jurisdiction, so the scouts just focused on keeping the base spotless. You helped out with some chores, but the scouts had become rather fond of you and didn't want you working too hard. They thought the scene where you hid your face and hugged Levi was just too cute. The first month passed by uneventfully. You didn't have any other titan episodes and you were cordially getting along with Levi now that you were teased significantly less, thanks to his deadly glares.

xoxox xox xoxox

It was mid morning and you had gone back to your room after breakfast to write some more letters to send out to Sina. You wanted to catch up with your few friends from back home. Then you heard Levi called from the hallway, "(Name)?"

"Come in!" You responded, at least he had never walked in on you while you were changing. He left at night by the window and didn't return until the morning to wake you up.

"You've been here for a week without incident," Levi stated. "So I think it's time you take on more responsibilities, such as doing your own laundry."

"Huh?" You blinked, you haven't thought of that before. "Now that you mention it, who has been doing my laundry?"

"I have, and this is the last time I will," Levi walked passed you and into the bathroom while you just stood there open mouth and red faced.

Embarrassing laundry issues aside, you decided that this was as good a time as any to ask the nagging question that had been floating in the back of your mind. "Levi... Did you have a girlfriend before we got married?" You wondered if you were keeping him from someone he cared about, someone that he couldn't wait to get back to as soon as the divorce was done.

Levi emerged from the bathroom with the hamper and a murderous aura.

"Levi?" you didn't think your question would bother him that much.

"Don't talk to me," he growled in response and gave you a glare that made your blood run cold.

You took his reaction to mean you hit the nail on the head. You felt really bad for him. It wasn't fair that he was married to a stranger, having to leave the woman he loved. You wondered who she was and if she was a scout. You had proven that you had enough control to move around the base on your own, but you were still not supposed to leave the base without Levi as your escort and it was preferable if you didn't leave at all. It was ok though, you could find the information you needed right there at the base.

xoxox xox xoxox

You found Krista on kitchen duty and went to talk to her while she watched over the content of a boiling pot. "Hi Krista."

"(Name), hello, how are you doing?" She smiled kindly and placed the lid on the pot then glanced at the oven.

"Are you all by yourself in kitchen duty?" You asked curiously. Cooking dinner for all the scouts was hardly a one person job.

"Oh no, Jean was here, but he burned his hand and had to go see Hange for some medical help. I told him that I would finish up here. He said he would be back, but maybe Hange occupied him in something else. She was looking for an assistant earlier, but thought Levi would be upset if she asked you," Krista explained.

"Well, why don't I help you around here then?" You offered.

Krista's eyes widened, "oh, no, I couldn't ask you to do that."

"Why not? Did Levi tell you not to let me?" You asked, annoyed.

"He said we could ask you for help in cleaning if we were delayed in our chores and had a reasonable excuse, like sickness or injury, but that we shouldn't overwork you," Krista admitted. "I think it's sweet of him to be so concerned about making you feel comfortable," she smiled.

You smiled back, just to be nice, but you didn't think her theory was correct. Levi was still a little weary of your level of control and didn't want you to throw a hissy fit. There was no way to know if only a fight or flight response to fear was the trigger or if any sufficiently strong emotion could make you go titan. "I'm offering, so it should be ok. I'm not too experienced though, so just tell me what to do, I want to help."

"Well, if you really want to," Krista considered it, "I have a lot of potatoes to peel and I don't think I can finish them all on time. Just please be very careful not to cut yourself."

"I'll be careful," you assured and joined Krista in peeling potatoes. You were clumsy at it at first, but Krista managed to teach you how to peel them without being too wasteful. When you were both focused on the potatoes and a moment of silence settled in, you decided to ask. "Say, Krista," you began casually. "Do you happen to know if Levi dated someone before me, just out of curiosity."

"I don't think so," Krista's answer sounded honest, but maybe she just didn't know. Levi's reaction to your question would make no sense if there wasn't another woman involved. After the potatoes were done, Krista thanked you for the help and you went off to try to get information out of someone else.

xoxox xox xoxox

You peeked into the area designated as Hange's lab and found Jean sorting through jars of dust, titan dust, according to Hange's rapid rambling. "Hi, Hange, Jean," you greeted.

"Hey, (Name), did Levi lift the ban on you hanging out with me?" Hange asked hopefully.

You crossed your arms stubbornly, "I don't care, I can hang out with you if I want."

Hange seemed happy about that and immediately invited you to join her and Jean. Jean gave you a look of pity, which filled you with foreboding. "Today's experiment is titan dust tea, is it poisonous?" While Hange went over the details of the study, Jean pleaded with his eyes.

"Um... Maybe it's best to be careful with this kind of thing, what if it makes you, or Jean," you added, noting that Hange probably had no intentions of drinking it herself, "sick?"

"You truly are a kind soul, but we must put our lives on the line for humanity, that is simply a risk we need to take!" Hange courageously declared, except Jean didn't seem to be particularly inspired. "I'm not done making the tea yet, so keep cleaning those jars in the meantime, Jean, I don't want Levi getting on my case about the titan dust jars collecting regular dust."

You joined Jean in cleaning the dust, unsure on how to help him escape his grim fate. "So... Have you two known Levi for long?" You began your quest for information in a casual tone.

"Hange has known him for longer than me," Jean replied, resigning himself to cleaning the jars while eyeing the door. Whenever he twitched slightly as if to make a break for it, Hange would give him a suspicious look and he would again focus on cleaning the jars.

"Just out of curiosity, did Levi date anyone before me?" You made sure to act indifferent, paying more attention to the jars than their reaction, since you didn't want to look too interested. The last thing you needed was for this to sound like an issue, travel through the grapevine and reach Levi. He was already upset enough as it was.

Your casual tone failed though, because Hange stopped her measuring and mixing and instead was staring right at you. "Are you jealous?"

"Of course not!" You immediately defended.

"Good, because you shouldn't be," Hange returned to her work. "Levi is very focused on the Survey Corps. Although, a while back there was that rumor that Petra had a thing for him, they never dated."

You wondered if Hange's information was accurate. Maybe Levi did date Petra but kept it a secret. He was kind of quiet about himself. "So, they're still friends now?"

"She died on one of our attempts to retake wall Maria," Hange revealed.

You gasped, that was not what you were expecting. "I'm sorry..." You continued quietly cleaning the jars.

The silence was uncomfortable, for you at least, though it seemed pretty normal to the other two, albeit still gloomy. They were used to dealing with this kind of loss, but they nevertheless felt it. Finally, Hange announced, "the tea is ready!"

Jean tensed up and glanced at the door while Hange approached with a predatory look. "Hange..." You searched your brain for an idea to save Jean without displeasing Hange. "Have you considered the effects of titan tea on plants?"

Hange gasped, her eyes alight with interest. "No, I haven't, but that's such a great idea! Titans are more so animals than plants, so I never thought about plants. (Name), you're a genius! I must research this possibility!" Hange ran off with the cup of tea in hand to perform a series of experiments that would be later nicknamed attack on garden.

Jean let out a breath of relief. "Thanks (Name)! I'd hug you, but Levi would kill me." He laughed, happy to have escaped his grim fate.

"You're welcome," you laughed as well, trying not to dwell too much on how the scouts viewed your relationship with Levi.

xoxox xox xoxox

Next you decided to talk to Erwin. He was high ranked and probably knew Levi for some time. Because of their position at work, they likely had the occasion to talk often, so maybe he knew something. You knocked on the door to his office until he replied, "come in." You entered and he seemed a bit surprised to see you, but not too much. "Have a seat, (Name), how may I help you?"

You sat down quietly, trying to organize your thoughts. You decided against mentioning Petra, if she had passed away on the battle field you didn't want to bring up that sad memory again. Besides, if she wasn't around anymore, then she couldn't be Levi's mystery woman. "I wanted to talk about Levi."

"Alright," Erwin nodded and looked at you expectantly. There was a big pile of paperwork on his desk, but he ignored it in favor of focusing his attention on you, despite clearly being busy.

"Did he have a girlfriend?" You cut right to the chase, realizing there was really no point in going around in circles.

Erwin laughed as if to dissolve the tension he sensed in you with his relaxed attitude. "Oh no, don't worry about that. You're not keeping him from anyone, though it's considerate of you to mention it."

"Really? But then why did he get mad when I asked?" You pouted in confusion. "Was I just being too nosy? I thought we were on somewhat friendly terms after this past week."

"I can't say why that question would bother him, but I know he's been busy with the Survey Corps, at least for the past few years," Erwin mused. "I can talk to him if you want," he offered.

You were tempted to say yes, Erwin was very nice, he always greeted you with a smile and asked if you needed anything. At first you thought you were caught in the middle of a good cop, bad cop game, but then Levi wasn't exactly playing the bad cop, and why would the man who wasn't your husband be the one to get the good cop role anyway. Part of you was still on guard, wondering what kind of information they were trying to get from you. You were curious to get a reply from your father concerning the reasons why you were engaged to Levi and not kept under protection at Sina, but you were also kind of glad that you didn't know, in case it was something that could bring consequences should it be revealed, though you couldn't imagine how. In the end you decided to decline the offer, "no, it's ok, but thank you for the offer. If I'm going to at least be friends with Levi I should be able to talk to him on my own."

xoxox xox xoxox

That evening, you decided to do just that. Levi was distant during dinner, though he still made an effort to appear normal. The scouts had formed their own version in their heads of what was normal for Levi in husband mode and if he gave you less attention they would stare at him expectantly. Of course they didn't know that less attention was a good thing when the attention was born of distrust.

When you and Levi went back to his room you expected him to go straight to the window, but before you could think of stopping him, he spoke. "I heard you were acting jealous and asking questions about my past relationships."

That was the topic you were planning to discuss, but hearing Levi bring it up so directly caught you off guard. Nonetheless, you decided to push forward with the conversation. "I wanted to know if there was truly someone I was keeping you away from. It's terribly unfair for you to be married to me if you have someone you love. I didn't have a boyfriend, so I didn't think about it too much, but then it occurred to me that maybe you were dating before our marriage was arranged. I'm sorry it took me this long to bring it up, I should have considered your side of the story sooner, I didn't have much of a life before I recovered from my illness, but you did. You got angry at me earlier for mentioning it, but if I'm going to apologize for causing you trouble, I might as well know what I've done." You took in a deep breath after the little speech.

"I wasn't dating anyone," Levi replied, "a lot of people in the Survey Corps prefer not to, since it's not the safest job."

"That's true, but you shouldn't let it hold you back. The possibility of a loss is difficult, but it's better than giving up entirely." You got caught up in expressing your opinion and it took a second for his reply to sink in. "Wait, you didn't have a girlfriend? Then why did you get angry at me when I asked?"

"I wasn't angry about that," Levi clarified. "Did you spill some juice in here?"

"Yes," you confessed. "But I cleaned it up!" How in the world did he notice? As far as you could tell, the night stand was spotless.

"What did you use to clean it up?" Levi asked.

"A handkerchief from..." You blushed, "your drawer." The handkerchief was not the cause of your embarrassment, but rather the fact that Levi had not moved any of his clothes out of the room and you had accidentally come across a drawer full of underwear. It was a childish thing to be embarrassed by, but you had no control over the color of your face. "I'm sorry, I couldn't find any in my luggage and I wanted to stop the mess from spreading. I thought that since you're such a clean person, you must have a handkerchief somewhere. I put it in the hamper after I used it."

"It wasn't a handkerchief," Levi interrupted your apology rambles.

You stared at him, waiting for him to elaborate, but he didn't. Instead he allowed the realization to sink in until it became evident on your face. "Oh... It was a tie, sorry about that." Now you felt embarrassed about not being able to tell the difference, but to be fair, the tie did kind of look like a handkerchief.

"Never mind, I cleaned it up and your laundry," he pointed to the clean laundry basket in a corner of the room, which he must have placed there at some point during the day. "From now on, I'm only washing my own clothes."

With that statement made, Levi approached the window, but just as he was going out, you called to him. "Levi, wait!" He paused, looking at you. You doubted yourself for a moment, but you didn't want to keep him waiting, so you steeled your resolved and continued. "Can we be friends?"

He considered your request, you decided that was a good thing, he must have been thinking of an honest answer. If he just wanted to lower your guard to get information out of you, which you didn't have anyway, he would have said yes right away. "It might be possible," Levi finally replied. "I'll give you cleaning lessons." Then he left, using his ODM gear to climb out the window to find a vacant room to sleep in.

To be Continued

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