Petals slowly fell from the old flowers, landing on the stone. You sighed, removing them, and placing fresh, new ones in their place.
It was an enclosed area, kept off for the truest heroes. And there were seven. Just seven.
You weren’t crying. You hadn’t cried where you stood in a long time, but the same loss and sadness swept over you that had swept over you the five years ago. You only just kept tears at bay. It didn’t help that today was the anniversary. Five years. Five long, difficult years.
You kneeled down, it always surprising that no one else had come since you had. Your flowers always, only yours. Everyone owed them, so why did no one come? You never could figure it out. But you... You came every month, to refresh the flowers, and to talk. You’d never heard a reply though.
“I’m sorry,” you murmured, sitting on your knees, looking at three particular graves. It was appropriate they were next to eachother. It hadn’t been intentional.
Here lies Eren Jaeger, the savior of humanity.
You placed an aster down. It was red, and alive, the petals coming outward, like they were exploding. Almost angry. You smiled, Eren would have liked that.
Here lies Mikasa Ackerman, the soldier worth one hundred men.
An carnation flower for Mikasa. Big and red as well, but calmer, similar to a rose with wavy petals and more petals in general. Even more powerful than Eren in general, yet calmer, put together. Mikasa probably didn’t like flowers, but after all she did in the final battle, she deserved a bouquet. They all deserved bouquets, but you worked at a florist shop and you couldn’t take more than a few flowers without getting in too much trouble.
Here lies Armin Arlert, the invaluable strategist.
Yellow and bursting, the only real reason you chose a chrysanthemum was that it reminded you of Armin’s hair, with it’s bangs and strands. Armin would have laughed at you for that.
Here lies Jean Kirschtein, the last leader.A orchid.
Here lies Connie Springer, the quickest of his kind.A calla.
Here lies Sasha Braus, the skilled.A potato (and a eremurus).
Here lies Historia Reiss, the true queen.A gardenia.
Would they be happy with who you’ve become? You smiled at the flowers around you. You thought they would be content.
Each grave had one now, the old, wilting ones gone. You stood up,
“I sorry. I’m so sorry that you’re up there, and I didn’t go with you. But, one day I’ll see you again. I hope you’re not too disappointed that I retired from the military, after fighting the final battle… After losing you all, that’s when I had to leave. Now I work with flowers in a town outside the wall! How about that!” you laughed weakly to yourself, “I wasn’t too eager to go back to exploring after my time in the Scouting Legion. Sorry, guys. Maybe if you were still here, I could have braved through... Please enjoy your flowers.”
You didn’t leave quite yet. You stood, looking around the closed-off graveyard. You’d been here many times. Every month, for five years. You were used to it to the atmosphere of it.
The smaller cemetery was connected to the large yard for all the soldiers lost in the last drive against the titans, with all three legions contributing the losses, the space had to be big. It was expansive, covering over two miles on rolling hills, outside the walls. They rested in the ground they earned for humankind with their lives, and they deserved it that way. There were graves at every step, and hiking through it to where your friends rested took you almost an hour.
But it was worth it.
For them? Anything. It was always worth it.
You didn’t know how long you were standing there when you heard the rusty gate creek, your head whipped to see a short man opening it, not noticing you immediately. When he did, his eyes widened,
“Levi?” you asked, he looked just the same. He wore civilian clothes, not the uniform you remembered him wearing. His expression was a bit surprised. You hadn’t talked to each other in five years. As soon as you left the survey corps, most communication with your military friends was cut off.
“You came today,” Levi stated, “I didn’t think you would remember.”
You glared at him,
“I come every month!”
“It’s not that far from Eleutheria,” you stated, “Maybe two hours walking, and one hour to get through to here.”
Levi looked at you, observing your whole figure. It wasn’t strange, the last time you’d seen him you were sixteen and scrawny. You were twenty-one, and you’d gotten a little more… Curvy. And less flat chested.
“You grew up,” he commented. You smiled,
“You sure didn’t grow.”
Levi gave you a death glare, but said nothing. He held a bouquet of roses, some already missing. Perhaps already put on the graves of other fallen friends.
He put a rose on each grave, then turned to you,
“What do you do now?”
“I work at a flower shop.”
“We can’t all cope the way you can, Corporal,” you crossed your arms, giving him a look. He walked right up to you, getting in your face,
“Don’t you think you can do better than working with stupid plants?”
You were only half an inch taller than him, if that. It bugged you, since it was so easy to be taller than him, but you could barely do it. You nodded,
“Yeah, I could, but I don’t want to.”
“Tch,” Levi muttered, getting out of your face, “Brat.”
“I’m an legal adult now, can you really call me ‘brat’?” you elbowed him. His eyes slid to you, a look of annoyance on his face,
There was a pause.
“I assume you are still with the Scouting Legion?” you asked, began to leave the cemetery. Levi followed, leaving the separated graves to the extensive graveyard,
No words were spoken as you walked, until you decided to ask something him that had been bothering you. Bothering you for five years,
“Levi, have you thought about it being better if I died with them?” you asked.
“No, not at all. Why the hell would you think that?” You looked at your feet,
“I just feel like they got cheated out of a new life, and I’m not even exploring like they would have. If I died with them, or instead of them, maybe…” you trailed off.
“Shut up,” Levi said, “You shouldn’t dwell on the past, and contemplate where you should have died. It’s stupid.”
“But the past affected my future, though, I couldn’t really move on when they were gone,” you told him.
Levi breathed out, sounded irritated,
“So many died that day, you should be glad you weren’t one of them. You’re still here, and even if you don’t move on completely, don’t get caught up in the ‘what ifs’.”
“Sorry, Levi,” you apologized. You knew he was right. It was just hard to accept that.
“How long are you here?” you asked.
“Just today,” Levi looked straight ahead, “Only for the anniversary of the battle.”
You nodded. He had places to be, but a part of you hoped he would stay for longer.
Silence filled the space between the two of you as you walked.
“I heard you found the ocean,” you said as you two walked through the hills, on your way to the front entrance.
“Was it amazing?” you closed your eyes, trying to picture it.
“It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen,” Levi noted. From the usually uncaring Levi, that must have meant it was really something gorgeous.
“Armin would have been so happy,” you uttered, “I want to see the ocean one day.” You smiled at Levi, who stopped walking and grabbed your arm, pulling you to a halt. You tilted your head in confusion, but before you could ask anything Levi spoke,
“Come with me.”
“What?” you questioned.
“Come with me, back to the Scouting Legion, we can go to the ocean.”
You looked deeply into his gray eyes. He was dead serious. He knew as well as you did that you had left after they died, and refused to stay with the military. You swore you wouldn’t go back, even if the titans were gone. but the prospect of seeing the ocean… That could be nice.
“Levi… It’s been so long. I don’t know if I’d be comfortable doing that sort of thing anymore,” you ran your hand through your hair, pushing it up and over your head.
“We’re not fighting anymore, all we do is explore. If you can ride a horse, even an idiot like you would manage.”
You stopped, and thoughtfully considered it. You’d always wanted to be able to see the outside of the walls, without titans chasing you. Perhaps five years was long enough… Maybe you were ready to move on. Then a new thought occurred to you,
“Do you want me to come with you?” you inquired. Levi’s steel gray eyes met yours. You couldn’t read them, did he want you to tag along? Logically, if he was asking you to come with him, he wanted you to. But with Levi, you could never be sure.
“Yes. I want you to come.”
You looked at your former officer. Doubt flickered through you. Five years. Five long and hard years in which you had started over your life. New job, new friends, new town, a new world outside the wall. And could you just leave that to go back to the old?
You made up your mind abruptly.
“My cloak probably still fits,” you smiled slightly, “It would be a shame not to wear again. Just one more time.”
The corners of Levi’s mouth turned up, almost like a smile.
“I’ll go to see the ocean, but that’s all,” you agreed, you started to walk again, and Levi followed suit.
“So not permanently?” Levi affirmed.
“Definitely not permanently. I’m sorry, I couldn’t… After that battle, I really just--. I can’t,” you bit your lip, “But I’ll go to see the ocean with you, then I’m gone.”
As the two of you walked along the graveyard, Levi informed you he was staying in Eleutheria, and you proceeded to walk back together in quiet. You asked some questions about the scouting legion,
“Is there a Squad Levi still?”
“No, we don’t need one anymore.”
“Did you still use 3DMG?”
“Did you miss me at all?”
You tried not to seem too eager for an answer, but you did want to know if he missed you. You’d missed him, maybe because all your other close friends from the survey corps were gone. Maybe because you genuinely missed him as a person.
“Yes,” Levi turned to you, “I did. There are a lot of new cadets, You and I are the last living members of any Squad Levi and we haven’t seen each other in years. I don’t mind meeting new brats, but I sometimes long for the old.”
“I missed you,” you replied, then quickly added, “I missed Commander Erwin and Hanji too.”
“I see,” Levi said. Why couldn’t he be really expressive? Why did he have to be so distant? It would be easier to tell what he was thinking that way. You sighed.
“What?” Levi asked, “What are you sighing about?”
“Uh. My, um--. Why are so distant?” you blurted, then covered your mouth in a flash. Levi looked taken aback,
“Sorry! Sorry! Sorry! I just blabbed that, I shouldn’t have. God, I’m so sorry!” you mumbled.
Levi seemed to contain his shock, and raised an eyebrow,
“Why am I so distant?”
“No! You don’t have to answer, I just--. Oh god, sorry.”
“Partly because of how I grew up, partly because I didn’t want to get too close to people after I lost comrades in the Scouting Legion. I suppose I don’t have to anymore, there’s no danger,” Levi explained. Your cheeks were red,
“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that…” you said, “I’m glad you told me though.”
“Why do you care that I’m distant?”
Because I wanted to be closer to him, you thought, he’s one of my last friends from the past. But not just that, maybe I want to be closer to him for... other reasons. I liked him five years ago, not now. Don’t get into your own head.
“Because you’re my friend,” you said simply.
It was Levi’s turn to sigh,
“Some people just care too much…”
“Well, that’s love, Levi,” you smiled gently.
“You love me?” Levi sputtered, looking really surprised.
“Of course I do,” you looked at him. You loved Levi, he was your friend. At one point, you’d wished for something more… But you loved him. You cared for him. You honestly did.
“I love you too,” Levi admitted, looking a little strange (almost nervous...), still not smiling. You grinned,
“Well, that’s sweet.”
An hour later, you had been walking in silence with him, when he asked,
“What did you mean by love?” You pondered it,
“I love you, I care for you,” you shrugged., "Simple stuff."
“Oh,” was all Levi said. Something clicked in your brain. You might have meant to care for like a friend, but but the sound of his ‘oh’ he meant something completely different.
You felt your cheeks heat up slightly,
“I… I don’t--,” you stuttered. Levi looked calm so you stayed quiet.
Levi didn’t hear you, or acknowledge hearing you.
“I didn’t mean as a friend,” he said, a good five minutes after you answered.
“Wait, really?” you yelped. Butterflies fluttered in your chest.
“Yes. And whether you will admit it or not, the redness of your face tells me you meant it that way too. Or considered it that way at one point.”
You nodded, trying to stay calm,
“Yes, I guess so. I never thought you actually, ever, loved me… At least, in any way more than a friend.”
“I didn’t love you until you were gone,” Levi said, you stared at him. What did he mean by that? When you were gone? Levi read your mind,
“I didn’t notice until about six months since you’d left the legion. I missed you, and I realized I cared about you more than I thought. It was the whole ‘you don’t know what you have till it’s gone.’”
“Oh,” was all you could say.
You had liked Levi five years ago. But five years was a long time, things change. Did you like him still?
Levi pulled your arm, stopping you. He scanned your face,you probably looked confused and embarrassed and happy, hard to conclude from. Levi stopped scanning your face, and just looked into your eyes.
“Do you love me?” Levi queried. You didn’t move, and let your mind figure it out.
“Yeah, I think I do,” you answered, “But not like, crazy-fangirl-head-over-heels or stupid crap like that.”
“I’m not sure I’d like you if you were a crazy fangirl,” Levi noted. You looked at each other, as if trying to guess what to do next. You hadn’t see the guy in five years, and you both admitted you had feelings for each other.
For a second, you thought he might just kiss you.
Instead, he hugged you. He wrapped his arms around your neck and buried his nose in your neck. At first, you didn’t do anything, you just froze. Then you hugged back, smiling even though he couldn’t see.
Yeah, you loved him. The pure feeling of warmth and content that bubbled in your stomach when hugged you was sign enough. You still loved him.
“I can’t wait to see the ocean,” you sighed.
“You’ll love it.”
“I bet I’ll love the ocean more than you,” you sang mockingly.
“Shut up, ____.”
Even on the saddest days, there is happiness.
Even on the rainy days, there is sun.
Even on the loneliest days, there is friendship.Even on the darkest of days, there is light.