**Last chapter! Thank you guys so much for sticking with me on this! Check out the next book that'll be coming, which I'll announce in an official Author's Note later on. Daisuki! <3**
I peered on in anguish as the scene before me had unfolded. Ava, relentlessly tearing through her brother like he was nothing. Oh well, a titan's just a titan, I suppose. Hearing the zipping of cords, I glance over to see Erwin going down next to Eren. As the men were talking, Ava's titan form began to moan in distress. Her eyes widened, and tears were beginning to well up. She let out a deafening wail, immediately collapsing to the ground. I went down as well, to see if there was anything I could do.
"Levi, could you retrieve Ava?" Erwin asked, facing me with a grim expression.
"Already on it." I responded, walking over just as she popped from the nape.
"Ava...darling...how could you do this?" I whispered, my eyes fixed on the unconscious girl.
As I was wrapped up in my own hell of a mind, Erwin and Eren suddenly fell deathly silent. I looked up and around me, for a source as to why they were quiet. A few moments without any of us speaking, thudding was heard...and it was hastily approaching. All 3 of us gave each other a wide eye stare, as Eren grabbed Jared's remains and Erwin and I 3DMG'd up into a tree. Once Eren met us, we focused more, estimating how many titans were coming this way.
"I'd guess about 6 or 7...maybe upwards of 10." Erwin finished, squinting through the trees.
"We can't take on that many...not even with our combined skill!" Eren pleaded, sweat starting to dot his face.
"We have to make it to safer ground. Any suggestions?" I proposed, shifting Ava in my arm.
"Well, the horses ran off to the north of our current position. Maybe with some luck they'll be there." Erwin added. And with that, we were off.
These titans must've heard Ava's scream earlier, and came to it. Like an animal in the forest who simply doesn't have anything else to go for, so they choose death. Holding her close to me, she was still warm with steam. My skin burned under my clothes, but I kept my grip firm. Dodging 10, 15, and even 8 meter class titans, we reached the forest entrance. And sure enough, much to our unexpected luck, the horses were in a small flower field just ahead. Good thing titans aren't interested in animals...
"Erwin! You and Eren take one! I'll take Ava and I on the other!" I called out, landing on the ground and barreling for the horses.
"Corporal! Watch out!" I heard Eren scream.
At that moment, I felt an immense pain in my side that caused my whole body to fall limp. I was thrown into the air, and forced to watch as Ava's still unconscious body fell towards the earth. Turning my head in what seemed like slow motion, a titan raised its hand for another attack.
*Time Skip, STILL LEVI'S POV*
My head ached something horrendous. My eyes didn't want to open, but with extreme effort, I managed to at least part them a little bit. My limbs felt remarkably heavy, as I could not raise any of them. My hearing was damaged, too. But, what I could hear sounded like muddied mumbles wrapped in thick cotton.
"There's too much blood!" A female voice yelled in clear distress.
"Come on, numb her! We'll need to amputate!" Another yelled, metal objects clanking around as some liquid sploshed.
"Dammit! We're losing her!" That voice from the beginning was back, and sounded even worse.
Finally opening both my eyes, I turned my head to the right to the most god-awful sight I could imagine. Ava laid on the operating table not too far from my bed. She had a bloodied gash on her side, and a ripped up right arm. That, I assume, is what needed the amputation. Several of my squad members rushed back and forth from her, to the sink, the counter, cabinet, everywhere. They were all trying to save Ava. Forcing myself up, I used my adrenaline rush to shuffle over towards her bed. I landed on Krista, causing her to grip the bed rails for support.
"Levi! What're you doing?! You're severely injured!" The short blonde woman pushed me backwards, causing me to go limp, bent over the side of my bed.
"Ymir! Sasha! Someone, deal with Levi!" Krista harshly commanded, wiping sweat from her forehead with a bandage.
"C'mon, Corporal. You need to rest, too." Mikasa situated me, strapping IV's to my arm, replacing fluid I'd lost.
"A...v..a..." I hoarsely whispered, earning a concerned look from Mikasa. She pulled a curtain to, blocking my vision from the scene.
A headache showed up, causing me to harshly close my eyes in fits of pain. Everything felt so surreal, the liquid pouring forth into my veins was cold...I could feel every inch of my body it went through almost, giving me a drowsy feeling. More yelling kept me from passing out, all I could hear was yelling.
"Her blood's not clotting!"
"Eyes are beginning to glaze!"
"We're losing her!"
Again. I bit off another piece of a nail, spitting it out of my mouth. Looking at my fingers, blood poked up from various spots where my nails had been. I had chewed them down to barely stubs, ignoring the stinging. My boots hit against the wood floor as I paced across Commander Erwin's office. I had been ordered to stay put while he waited outside the infirmary, his mind only focused on Levi and Ava.
I could understand why, too. That's where I wanted to be. Every ounce inside my body wanted to disobey a direct order and march on down to be with her. But, something told me I didn't want to be faced with what could've happened. She landed pretty harshly on the round, her already fragile body skipping across the dirt and heading front first into some rocks. The titan that had attacked her and Corporal Levi was an aberrant, so lucky Erwin and I were there.
Biting more of my nails, now tearing at the skin, a light knock came to the door. I eagerly opened it, being faced with the sight of Mikasa.
"M-Mikasa...what's the matter?" My lips quivered and body trembled at the sight of her attire.
"Eren, It's Ava." Mikasa looked at me with woeful eyes, bringing up her hands so I could see her palms.
I felt a single stream of tears, light as lace, trickle down my cheek. Mikasa's palms were stained with dried blood, a light red outline occupied places where she'd peeled it off in an attempt to clean herself. Her shirt, pants, everything, had fresh and dried blood soaked into its fabric. As she turned and walked away, I followed. My hands began to sweat as we neared the infirmary, the door being shut.
"Eren, don't talk loudly. Corporal is sleeping, too." Mikasa wrapped her hand around the bronze door knob, turning it to allow us entrance.
"Oh...my...Ava!" I pushed past everyone else who was in there, but got held back from touching her by Erwin, who threw his arm in protest.
"Eren, let her be." The Commander coldly stated, casting me an evil glare.
"Is she alive?" I asked, trying as hard as possible to find any signs she was breathing.
"Currently, we believe so. Unfortunately, we have no other way of telling than watching. She's on some high caliber pain killers right now, and has lost a tremendous amount of blood...as you could probably tell." Hanji explained, pushing up her glasses.
While everyone stood over her bed, I noticed the sun reflecting through the curtain across the room. The shadow was just right enough to where I could make out a body. Walking over, I parted the curtains and walked in. It was Corporal Levi, who appeared to be half asleep.
"Hey, Corporal. Figured you'd needed some company too." I smirked, sitting on the edge of the bed.
"I know you can't respond, because you're injured and all. But, everyone needs somebody to talk to. Even a stoic person such as yourself." I watched as the IV bag that was feeding him nutrients and such was almost emptied.
"Eren, it's time for dinner now. You can visit them in the morning." Petra stuck her head inside the curtain.
"Be right there, Petra." I gestured, getting up and peering at Levi.
"If you both pull out of this...she's yours. I bet Ava likes you more anyway." I bit my lip, exiting Levi's curtain.
Krista and Ymir were leaving the infirmary to change. I decided to hang back with Hanji while I waited on Mikasa, Armin, and Jean. I don't know why so many people rat on the Major as being a bad person to hang out with. Hanji isn't bad at all! She's just got...a few screws loose, maybe. Sitting on a stool near the door, Hanji was preoccupied with washing her skin.
"Major Hanji, do you think they'll be okay?" I inquired, twiddling my thumbs.
"Honestly, Eren, it's hard to say. Both of them sustained internal bleeding and numerous broken bones. In my eyes, Levi's got a better chance of living." Hanji wiped a cloth across her forehead.
"You'd think...with her titan powers...she'd heal faster..." I mumbled, getting up and exiting the infirmary.
Walking down the hall, I had intentions on going to dinner straight off. As I got there, the room was more silent than usual. Sure, there were conversations happening, but they weren't the loud and obnoxious ones you heard normally. Grabbing my soup and bread, I slowly walked over to my groups corner table. I took my seat next to Armin, who just solemnly looked down at his untouched food.
"Dude...Armin... Why's everyone so quiet?" I whispered, careful not to disturb the odd peace.
"Tonight's dinner is a moment of silence for Jared, and hopeful thoughts for the Corporal and Ava." Armin picked at his bread with his nails, slumping his face into his palm.
"There's a funeral service going on tomorrow, should Corporal Levi and Ava wake." Mikasa added in, sipping from her soup.
"Hey, Eren. I heard what happened. My condolences." Looking upwards, Jean and Marco stood at our table.
"Thanks, man. Means a lot." I gave a whitty half-smile, the one Oli loved so much.
"Care if we sit?" Marco asked, and I shook my head and scooted over.
We all sat and talked in hush tones for the remainder of our dinner. Tonight was extended meal time, which nobody was complaining about. While we were talking, Commander Erwin got up and stood to face the crowd.
"Dinner is drawing to a close, so please make plans to head to your rooms very soon. The service for Jared Oliver is tomorrow at 4:30, just before tomorrow night's meal. If you would like to say goodnight to Ava or send best wishes for Corporal Levi, please meet with me now." The Commander sat back down, as people began shuffling out.
"Eren, do you want to?" Mikasa placed her hand on mine, giving me a very concerned look.
"Y-Yeah, let's go." My table got up, going over to Commander Erwin.
"Commander, sir. We'd like to visit the Corporal and Ava." I stated politely.
"Very well. Major Hanji should still be in there, tell her I gave permission." Erwin turned back to his coffee, making small talk with Petra and Auruo.
We all walked to the infirmary, nobody talking except for Jean and Marco in the back. I smiled whenever Marco would laugh at Jean's terrible jokes, trying to lighten the moment. I swear, there's something with those two... Once we got to the door, I knocked softly to give Hanji notice we were entering. As we did, she was changing the bandages on a still unconscious Ava. Her face softened when she saw us, stepping over to tend to Levi and allow us to visit with her.
The moments dragged on, and still, all we'd done was stare at our unconscious comrade. Again, I kept watching to make sure she breathed, even if it was only the tiniest breath. Once Major Hanji emerged from Levi's curtain, she noticed my distress and spoke up.
"Guys, why don't we give them a minute?" She suggested, earning nods from my friends.
"Eren, will you be okay?" Mikasa worriedly asked, getting tugged on by Armin to just leave.
"Thank you, Armin..." I whispered, enough for him to gently nod as the door was shut, leaving me with Ava (and a passed out Levi).
I stood up, inspecting the wounds on her head. Her hair had been shaved on the top, allowing me to see a half-scabbed fleshy spot from where she'd impacted with the rocks. Her side was still bleeding, but not as heavily as earlier. Looking at her left half of her body, there as a sinking portion about halfway down her leg, under the knee. Lifting up the blanket, I sharply inhaled at the sight, bringing a stinging tear to my eye. Ava's leg was bent awkwardly, failed amputation cuts littering above and below it. I covered her back up, taking a seat on the edge of the bed.
My mind was thinking of the worst. Next, I thought, it wouldn't only have to be Jared we're having a funeral for. Shaking my head, my conscience forced my mind to dig up memories of us. The day she moved to Shiganshina, the feeling I'd had that I had to be around for her at all costs, and the look of blank terror when she'd been forced to drop her father's body and come with Mikasa and I, who were being carried by Hannes. All those time's she'd been there for me...and where was I when Ava needed me? Off wallowing in my own plan for revenge on these ruthless creatures that ruined our lives.
I told myself I'd better stop before I got too angry. Once I stood up to leave, I heard a weakened wheezing coming from behind me. Quickly turning around, I noticed Ava's hand twitching, and her eyes fighting to open. Naturally, I rushed to her side.
"Ava! Ava! Talk to me, it's Eren." I laid next to her, holding her upright with my arms.
"Er...-coughs-...Eren..." Her eyes were halfway open, but I could tell she was trying.
"That's right, Oli. It's me." I sat up now, looking at her in the face.
"Eren...am I d-de-dead?" Ava was still struggling to speak, but making progress. She shakily rose a hand, placing it on mine.
"No, Oli. You're alive. How do you feel?" I knew this questioned could've answered itself, but come on.
"Hurt..." She whispered, her head falling to the side. Someone cracked open the door, poking their head in.
"Eren, Major Hanji says it's time to- oh..." It was Armin, whose face was instantly washed with surprise. He called everyone else in, who was happy to see her awake too.
Everyone else got a chance to talk to Ava. By talk, I mean they spoke and she mumbled, occasionally making words. I wanted to tear up at how happy I was...seeing her alive. I felt a tug on my sleeve, it was Mikasa. She looked much better, too. I felt even worse for her, since she had to actually be here to try and get Ava stabilized. I was the last one out, taking one last look at her.
"Goodn-night...Eren..." She smiled, lifting her hand upward in a wave.
"Goodnight, Oli." I returned the favor, shutting the infirmary door.
"Well, that's good news. That Ava's alive and all, did anyone bother to check on Levi?" Marco spoke up, and we were all flushed with regret.
"I uh..." I began, losing my words.
"Levi's still asleep, he wouldn't wake up anyway." Hanji commented, walking away from us.
"Well, I guess I'll see you all at breakfast?" Jean shrugged, looking over at Marco.
"Yeah, guys. See you all then." I shrugged, waving to my friends and taking a different route to my room.
I instead, walked the long way and out to our inner courtyard. There, I stopped for a moment to glance at the arcing water coming out of the fountain. The moon was nearly uncovered from the clouds, which meant it was probably later than I thought. Scoffing, I turned and headed for my room again. Once I was there, I slumped onto the mattress, not bothering to cover myself up with blankets. I rolled over, getting a look at my window to outside. The stars were starting to pop out, one by one. As I was counting them, my eyes found their way shut...and I was off to sleep.
*Time Skip to morning, THIRD PERSON POV*
The sun rose as it did every morning, slow but gradually over the castle. Everyone knew what was happening today, and none of them looked forward to it. While some didn't feel for Jared as others did, it was still a melancholy morning. I opened my eyes to birds tweeting, and even one picking at my window with its beak. Commander Erwin had ordered everyone the proper funeral attire, straight from Wall Sina's finest tailoring business. As I managed to get dressed, a knock came to my door.
"E-Eren, it's Armin. You decent?" Armin yelled, jiggling the doorknob.
"Yeah, sure." I called back, buttoning my pants.
"Breakfast is almost ready. I'll head down with you." Armin took his seat on a nearby desk chair, waiting on me to get finished.
"You should just go on down. I have to get Ava." I threw on my dress shirt, buttoning it up.
"And someone has to get Corporal Levi." Armin added, persistent on going with me.
"Shouldn't Commander Erwin do that? And isn't Levi well enough to walk on his own?" I asked, carefully unfolded my suit jacket.
"Better be safe than sorry." Armin walked over and got out my bowtie.
"What? You expect to put that on me?" Baffled, I took the tie from his hands.
"Can you do it on your own?" Armin smirked, stepping back and folding his arms.
About 20 minutes had passed, and I had choked myself about 7 or 8 times. Giving up, I sheepishly handed over the bowtie to Armin, who proceeded to situate it flawlessly on my neck, folding my collar over it. The tie was a soft silver, in contrast to the white shirt and black suit. Armin's attire was the same as mine. While we were walking, we ran into Sasha, who was leaving her room with Connie. Sasha was tying a ribbon in her hair, tossing a black veil over her face.
"I didn't think soldiers had funerals...especially with the situations they're constantly being put in." Armin whispered, to which I elbowed him to be quiet.
"Eren, Armin, good morning. Breakfast is sweets this morning, in honour of Jared Oliver." Krista bowed slightly, gesturing to the counter.
"Thank you, Krista." I nodded, walking over with Armin.
"I see you've finally woken up." Mikasa commented from behind the counter. She was helping prepare and keep everything fresh.
"Hush it. At least I'm here. Armin and I are going to get Corporal and Ava. Right, Armin?" I looked down at him, just as he was taking a bite of a cupcake.
"Y-Yeah, we are." His muffled words gave off a comical sense.
Just as we turned around, a wave of astonishment washed over everybody in the mess hall. There, in the entrance, stood Ava and Corporal Levi. I hurried over to them immediately, taking Ava's side. She was wearing a white simple gown, that had minor blood stains from her bandages underneath. Corporal was in a long white shirt and black pants, free of crimson stains. I looked at Ava hesitantly, my arms open and shaking. She nodded, giving me the okay. My arms wrapped around her eagerly, being careful not to squeeze too tight.
"Oli...I'm so relieved!" I sobbed into her shoulder.
"I missed you, Eren." She laughed, returning a light hug. When we came apart, Corporal Levi was giving me a look.
"And of course I'm glad you're okay too, Corporal Levi." I patted his shoulder, and he nodded.
"Why is everyone dressed in all black? Krista, Ymir, Mikasa... Why're you all in red dresses? A-And veils...?" Ava peered around helplessly at everyone's nearly identical look.
"Ava...something happened a few days ago..." I began, feeling my palms get clammy.
"Ava, Jared is no longer with us. We're having his service today." Levi looked at her, his hand gripping hers.
"Y-You mean..." Tears began to well in her eyes, her nose already starting to sniffle.
I couldn't even begin to fathom what Levi had just told me. My brother? Dead? How? I fell forward in shock, but luckily Eren was there to catch me. Everyone had resumed eating, thankfully, letting me have my moment without pressure. I gripped the fabric of Eren's suit, wanting to cry, but not wanting to ruin it.
"Ava, would you like some breakfast?" He offered, his flawless green eyes swimming in concern.
"S-Sure..." I sniffled, using the back of my hand to wipe tears.
"Hey, Ava. It's nice to see you." Mikasa greeted me, handing me a cupcake and sugar cookie.
"Mikasa, Ava and I are going to sit outside, alright?" Eren took my hand, as I held my cupcake in the other.
"Sure. I'll come get her here soon so we can get her all ready for the service." Mikasa cast me a smile, and Eren walked me out to the courtyard with the fountain.
We sat in silence most of the time, watching as Petra and others set up for where we'd have Jared's funeral. Hearing the water through the fountain and soft chirping of the birds was calming, and I picked at my icing covered treat, eating it little by little. Eren kept casting me side glances, making sure I was okay I suppose. My leg still hurt a lot, Hanji told me they'd tried to amputate, but couldn't get it to happen for some reason. Now theres a bunch of gnarly scars and awful looking bruises, even some little concave areas.
As I got halfway through my cupcake, Mikasa came just as she said. I held onto her, since we had to go up stairs eventually. Once we got to her room, I heard other small talk happening inside. My curiousness was quenched after Mikasa and I got inside her room. Ymir and Krista were talking back and forth about Jared's death. Wait...did they just say...a titan killed him?!
"Uhm. Guys." Mikasa cleared her throat, announcing our presence.
"Oh..shit..." Ymir admitted, dropping the hairbrush and ribbon she had been holding.
"Ava, darling, take a seat." Krista profusely apologized, taking my hands and placing me in a chair.
"I suppose you're going to tell me what the hell you guys were talking about? The last I remember seeing my brother...he was going to bed!" I was getting angsty, causing a headache to come on.
"Krista, Ymir, how about you go get Ava's gown and stuff?" Mikasa promptly gave a 'friendly suggestion'. The girls departed, and it was just us.
Mikasa helped to face the chair to the bed, where she sat. Her face was dotted with sweat, and her red cocktail, yet elegant, dress was being gripped under her nervous palms. Her silver eyes stared at me, and finally she began.
"Ava, Eren told me that him and Erwin went out on a secret mission to bring you back. You went titan and took off with Levi to a really big forest, not responding to Eren or Erwin's attempts at stopping you." Mikasa wiped her palms on the bed, little indents of sweat on the sheets.
"Go on...?" I was barely wrapping my head around this, but needed and wanted to know more.
"Well...Eren finally got in front of you, and you stopped. Levi fell out of the sealed place you had him in, but he's okay, as you know. Anyway, Eren had gotten you to calm down and all...but, Jared showed up. He'd been following Eren and Erwin this whole time..." My heart was skipping at each sentence of Mikasa's, and not in a good way.
"J-Jared..." I mumbled, my lip quivering.
"He'd scared you, since you'd been so calm with Eren. You grabbed his cord, whipping him harshly against a tree. Bringing him back up, you tore him apart. You tore your brother apart, Ava. We only have his torso to bury..." Mikasa stood up, bringing my chair to the middle of the room again.
Everything else happened in a blur. They decided to put me in a looser gown, that almost reached the ground. My hair was braided on one side, with what little, shaggy hair I had. All I could see in my caked reflection...was the outline next to me where Jared should be standing. He should be here, and this should be my wedding day I'm getting dolled up for...not my brother's funeral. Ymir carried me out, since she's the tallest.
"Ava, take Eren's arm, you're going to the front of everyone." Krista kindly helped me over, trading me off to Eren.
"You look beautiful, Ava." He complimented, smiling down at me as I used his body for support.
"This is a funeral, Eren." I scoffed, leaning on him.
"Ava, would you like to speak first? After the eulogy." It was my father, Erwin.
"Sure, dad." I mumbled, not making eye contact for long.
Once everyone got settled around, Jared's...remains...were wrapped crisply in a Survey Corps cloak, with his uniform jacket folded neatly on top. My father began, stopping momentarily for a breath. Everyone around me was silent, except for the occasional sniffle from a person. I, surprisingly, was disturbingly stoic. Yes, I was depressed beyond all belief. Yes, I know it was 100% my fault Jared died, I just...felt like this had happened before. Not letting me think twice, it was my turn to speak. Eren helped me onto the raised platform, next to Jared's casket.
"Jared," I began, "may not have been my blood brother so it turns out. That is something I never believed. He was so kind to me, always looking out and making sure I was okay. Jared Oliver will live on forever, now carrying his own Wings of Freedom. Carry on, brother. There's peace now that you're done. You can watch over me forever now." I started to choke up, to which Eren gave me a tissue.
"Ava, do you need to step down?" He whispered in my ear. Shaking my head, I continued with watery eyes.
"Make sure you say hi to mom and dad for me. Thank them for the l-life th-they gave m-me..." I started in short sobs, walking over to his casket.
It was my job to close it, and give the signal for the 3 shots to be fired into the air. As I did, we all stood and watched to the skies as tiny clouds of smoke puffed after the guns fired. I stood solemnly, yet hopeful. I'd see my brother again...if it was the last god damn thing I did.
And on my deathbed,
All I'll see is you.
Life may leave my lungs,
But my heart will stay with you.