Levi x oc: Angels of Humanity
The Scout's castle, April 27th
"So Connie, you have a birthday coming up right?" Armin asked as he ate his dinner with the other comrades of the Scouts. They had gotten into the conversation about birthdays, one topic that Cadet Merci Groves would have preferred to avoid.
Her long light cinnamon colored hair covered her face as she finished her meal and got up to leave, hoping to avoid the conversation all together. Unfortunately, that didn't come as Eren noticed her leaving.
"Say Merci? When's you're birthday. I don't think you ever told us?" he asked.
Merci stopped in her tracks, frozen by what he asked, but then turned around to meet the group and gave a good fake smile.
"Oh, it's not really important. Besides, my birthday would only get in the way of things" she said, hoping to leave. She turned her back when Hanji stopped her.
"What do you mean it's not important?! Everyone's birthday is important! Even shorty's!" she said while making a gesture toward the Corporal, who gave an annoyed huff in response.
With her back still turned, she spoke, "Hanji. Please, just let it go. My birthday has already passed. If you must know, it was three days ago, April 24th. Happy now?" she started to walk off, only to be stopped by Armin.
"Why didn't you tell us? We could have done something for you" he said.
Merci looked around with her golden eyes to each person at the table, the look of pained curiosity in their eyes, wanting to know the reason. Sighing in defeat, she gave her reasons, "There are two reasons why. First, we had a titan expedition that day and I didn't want to be selfish saying that it was my birthday when the fate of humanity is more important. Secondly," she pulled out a small bundle of papers from her jacket breast pocket and handed it to Hanji, "this is the bulk of it all. Spread the word about if necessary, but I expect one of those back without damage to it. Alright?" she then turned and went to wash her dishes.
Hanji looked at the bundle of papers and it appeared to be two letters. She took them carefully and walked to the table to sit back down.
"Well, she gave us this to read, so what does it say Hanji?" Sasha asked, obviously getting impatient.
"Alright, alright. I'll read it out loud" she said as she cleared her throat.
"Let's see now. This letter was written on her birthday, how sweet. Now, it says,…"
First of all, all of us in the family wishes you a happy birthday. I'm sure you are enjoying a beautiful day with your friends in arms. If possible, tell them we said hello, and we can hopefully meet each other someday.
Unfortunately, there is one family member who will not be able to see your friends when you come home. Merci, as hard as this is for me to write, you deserve to know. I'm afraid that the worse of our fears has happened.
Your twin brother of 17, Larkin Andreas Groves, has lost his five year battle with Leukemia cancer on your birthday.
I know this isn't what you want to hear, but you, of all of the family, deserves to know, as you were the one who took his place in battle.
I still remember the times when you were younger. Your brother wasn't exactly the kindest of children and he did boss you around like a bully. But you endured it, always forgiving him for his actions, saying that one day, this pushing down would eventually help you back up on your feet.
When it came to the day of the physicals, you wanted to take part because you wanted to prove you were worth something in the family besides a simple pretty face. But your brother took part because he wanted to prove to you that you didn't have what it took. Little did he know that that very day would change everything about him. When the names of the chosen who were eligible said your name and not his, it shocked us all. While Larkin seemed like the perfect fighter, little did he know that he was fighting a different battle. It wasn't until after the announcement that the doctors told us the reason why Larkin couldn't fight. When his blood work was taken, it shown that his blood count was low and he had a lymph node growing in the side of his neck.
When doctors examined it closely, and discovered that it was, in fact, Leukemia. Devastated, Larkin wanted to find a cure, so he could enter the military, but you stopped him. You told him that you would take his place to bring honor to the family, and perhaps gain enough money to buy the cure necessary to help him. So you went through it, the pain, the madness, and the torture that we have heard trainees went through, all for your brother.
When you came home after training for us to celebrate, you changed, grown even. Instead of the little girl with the strength of a kitten and the spirit of a dove, you became a strong woman with the heart of a solider, but the soul of phoenix. When you showed your brother the confidence you gained during training, you gave him the strength to fight. He fought it as much as he could, but sadly, though you worked so hard to gain enough money from the military to buy a cure, the effort was not enough.
Your brother did leave a few words for you, as this was his last wish to you. It's included in the other paper. He also wrote a letter for your fellow brethren in arms. He said on his death bed, and I quote, "Please allow my sister to share this to her brothers and sisters in arms. This may be the only time that they hear something from me, so I figured its best to make this count" end quote. So please, when you find necessary, please allow your fellow comrades to take note of his words, as I found them to be the words that only a brother in arms would say.
And I say with a heavy heart that I must leave you with this news. I know this is hard for you considering that he died on yours and his birthdays, but please, take his plea to heart.
I love you, your father loves you, all of your family loves you, we are proud of you and we are here for you every step of the way. Please don't forget that. I have also included a pamphlet of your brother's funeral, as your brother's letter will explain why it's there. Stay strong, are beloved freedom fighter.
By the time that Hanji finished reading, everyone had heavy hearts, including Levi.
"Oh man. Death by titans is one thing, but death by disease is something that we have been overlooking and forgetting about" Armin said as he wiped his eyes from the tears that started to form.
The others agreed as they comforted each other and dried their own eyes.
Hanji was about to read Larkin's letter when Levi touched her shoulder.
"I think you should take a break. After all, I don't think Merci would want tears on her brother's last word, despite how heart breaking this is. I'll read his letter" Levi said, quiet and low.
Hanji nodded her head as she wiped her tears and handed him Larkin's letter.
The Corporal gently opened the letter and cleared his throat as he read.
To Merci Riya Groves' brothers/sisters in arms,
My name is Larkin Andreas Groves. I am 17 years old and dying of Leukemia. But you probably will get this after I am dead. Although I am not a solider, I know enough from sister as to what it means to be strong. While I may not be a solider in the army, I am a solider fighting this five year battle against Cancer. My sister has told me much about the Scouts and their constant battles with titans, giving me her conclusion as to what a Scout is. But after these years of struggle and the several letters that my sister has sent me, I have come to my own conclusion.
For as long as I can remember, I have considered the scouts to be angels from the earth, because of their constant goal of protecting humanity. So, I decided to call you the Angels of Humanity. When I was little, I wanted to join your division to help prove that cause, and to be an angel to protect my younger sister, as I thought she didn't have what it took. But when I found out that she was chosen and I wasn't, I felt as if my own wings were clipped. Then my feelings decreased when our doctors told me that I had the first stages of Leukemia. I felt as if I had no reason to live, no reason to fight. But just when all seemed lost, my sister came forward to me. To this day, I still remember what she told me.
"Brother. I may not be strong, fierce or brave like you are. I may not be able to take yelling and screaming like you can. But there is one thing that I know I am, and that is devoted. I was devoted, to become a warrior like you. I was devoted, to meet up to your standards. And now, I am devoted to take your place in battle, so you can focus on trying to fight the cancer. If I ever gain any money or gifts, I'll have them sold to get money to pay for your cure. To be honest brother, I want to become your Angel of Humanity!"
Her words shocked me, after everything I did to her to make her think she was worth nothing, she bounced back. Just like a solider, she got back up to fight for the sake of those who she cares for. It was then that I knew, that she was more suited to be a solider than I was, considering it was me who caused her to have this burning devotion. And it was that devotion and love that kept me wanting to fight, so that she could have something worth fighting for that wasn't involved with the titans.
So what does this have to do with the soldiers? Well, I just wish to say something before I give my final word.
First of all, I wish to thank you for your service and your courage to take a stand to defend out race. I don't know if you get many thanks, but if I am the first, then I am honored. If not, than I am still honored to be able to be grateful for your service.
Now, I hope you take these words as a lesson that not all life is destroyed by the titans and there are some things that can't be saved. Life is fragile, but it is strong at the same time, depending how you put it. Cherish it when you can, even if you are out there fighting titans. There are some of us that have to struggle without the threat of the monsters, struggles that cannot be fought with swords and cannons.
I may not be a solider, but please, never give up your battle against the titans until you have achieved victory. The wings you carry are the ones that lead us to freedom. You are the ones that give us hope, the angels whose wings carry our faith. You may not know it, and despite what people say, we are still grateful that you fight when we can't, serve when we rebel, and live when we pass on. Never let your wings be clipped and never stop your flight to victory. Whatever goal you have, never give up on it, and never give in to failure.
I have not given in to failure, even if I am losing this battle. I have not lost hope, faith, nor courage in this losing battle with cancer. So I ask of you, focus on the goal that each of you have, live your lives to the fullest, and never, I repeat, never give up on anything. Because you never know when life will cause a fork in the road on your path to victory.
I hope that these words are helpful and meaningful, as this is my last chance to make a difference for me, my sister, my family, and my people. My only regret is that I cannot say these words to you in person. But when I pass, I will, if you allow me, wait at the gates of heaven, to welcome your brothers and sisters in arms and help them pass on to the next life. I will help remind them that their sacrifice would not be forgotten and that they will always hold a place in the arms of the military when the battle is over.
So, in closing, I say thank you, once again, for your service, your courage, your dedication and your spirit that never seems to die. Continue your work and never lose sight of your goals, as you never know what lies ahead that could change things for the better or the worse. Never stop your flight until you have reached your destination, the future without titans. It's within reach, but only if you see it. So, without further ado, fly on Angels of Humanity, fly on.
Larkin Andreas Groves
April 23rd, 850
When Levi finished with the letter, he placed it gently on the table and looked up at his cadets. Hanji had her face in her hands, sobbing quietly at the words in the letter. Connie was holding Sasha to his chest as small tears fell from his eyes, rubbing Sasha's back in soothing circles. Armin and Jean had their heads down, hiding the tears that were falling down their cheeks. Ymir was holding Krista as the young blonde was crying into the other's chest. What caught Levi off was that Mikasa was actually shedding tears in public. She was being held by Eren, who held his sister-figure in a tight hug as he sobbed quietly and shed his own tears.
Levi fought his own tears as he gave a heavy sigh and gathered up the papers. He made his way to the stairs when a gentle hand on his arm stopped him. He turned to see Eren.
"Sir. Are you taking those back to Merci?" Eren asked, letting go of Levi. Levi nodded in answer. "Then," Eren continued, "and this is not an order sir, but a suggestion. Would you….ask Merci if we could place her brother's letter in a frame and have it displayed on the wall for everyone to read? I think it's better than to have it on a table or shelf where it could be destroyed or torn"
Levi looked at Eren then to the letter before looking at Eren again, "It's not a bad idea, Eren. But this is her brother's letter, so it technically is her family property. But, knowing her, I don't believe that she will mind. I will ask her though" and with that, Levi took off to Merci's room.
'But I wonder why her mother included a pamphlet of her brother's funeral?' Levi thought to himself. It wasn't long before he was at Merci's bedroom. He gave three soft knocks with no response. "Cadet Gro-" he was interrupted when the door opened to reveal a tear-stained Merci in the doorway, "Oh, my apologies"
"It's alright sir" she gave a slow but firm salute.
"At ease" Levi said. Merci moved out of the way to let him in her bedroom, which was the emptiest one that he had ever seen. Besides the given essentials, all that was there was an extra blanket on the bed and two things on her nightstand, a drawing of a young man and a bible. Levi took the picture and looked at it closely, "who is this Groves?" he asked.
Merci's eyes widened by a fraction before going back to normal, "That's…..my brother sir" she said while looking away from the captain.
Levi's eyes widened when he looked at the picture of Larkin and then back to Merci. The picture showed a teen with olive skin, dark brown hair, lively hazel eyes and toned shoulders. Even to the Captains eyes, this young man was quiet charming.
"He looks so different from you. You are twins right? Or were twins?" he asked.
"We were fraternal twins sir. He had mom's looks and I got my dad's. The only thing that sets our parents from us is our hair, I got moms and he got dads. When puberty hit him, man was he popular with the girls. Heck, he couldn't even get through the line at Physicals without girls fawning over him" Merci said as she chuckled at the memory. Levi gave a huff and a small smile in amusement.
"I'm sure he would have made a fine solider," Levi said, placing the picture on the table and looking at Merci, "But if he was to be chosen, you would have probably backed down, wouldn't you?"
Merci looked at Levi and gave a small nod, "The two of us had been through enough drama at the house, so there was no real point in joining something that would have caused more trouble. Not to mention, cause the two of us to drift further apart. So, despite this being a sad thing to come across, the cancer actually brought the two of us closer" tears started to form in her eyes as she continued, "but now….it's taken him away. Everything I had done, all my efforts, all my attempts to save him with what little money I saved, have now been wasted" the tears started to roll down her cheeks, "and now….the reason why…I fight is gone"
Levi, feeling heavy hearted for the cadet went over, turned her around and held her in a tight hug.
"He may be gone, but his spirit lives on, in you. You were his Angel of Humanity, and I can say that he wouldn't want you to stop, just because he's gone. He would want you to keep fighting, as he said in his letter, never give up" Levi reassured, rubbing the girl's back in a comforting manner. Merci gently hugged him back and tried to keep her tears in, attempting to stay strong. Levi noticed her struggle and spoke with a soft sigh, "I know you're holding back the pain, but I give you permission to release it now. After all, it's not often that we get a letter from a person with cancer. Go ahead cadet, I'm here for you"
After that, Merci buried her head in the crook of her captain's neck and let her tears flow while sobbing a little on the loud side, hugging him tightly as she let the pain, sorrow and heartbreak be released.
Unable to hold back, Levi held Merci close to him and let his own tears fall from his eyes, all while stroking her hair that was scented with forget-me-nots . The fact that this girl, who went through so much for not one but two lives, to have all that taken away by something that could not be cured, caused the stoic stone-faced captain to open up to one who has done more than she should. The fact that she would give everything to save a life, while it did upset the captain, she did have a reason to live. Her unending generosity and loyalty made her an angel among soldiers.
After a few minutes of letting her pain go, she finally lets go of her captain and dries her eyes. Levi also dries his eyes, but then hands the handkerchief that he was using to Merci, to dry her eyes completely.
"Feeling better?" Levi asked, concern and care lacing his voice as he took the handkerchief back.
Merci nodded her head as she gave a small smile, "Thank you captain. I..I guess I needed that" she turned her head away and blushed a little.
"Please, call me Levi. If you wish it, you may take a few days off to go to your brother's funeral, or visit your brother. I give you full permission," Levi said.
"I appreciate that Levi, but I can't" Merci said.
Levi looked at her shocked, but then gets back to his captain mode, "Are you going against an order cadet?" he said sternly.
"No Levi, just going with the wishes my brother left for me. In the letter he sent me, sir, he asked me specifically not to go to his funeral. Nor did he want me to visit his grave. The reason is," she looked to the side and then back to her superior with fire in her eyes and determination in her voice, "the war isn't over yet. And he wants me to not see him again until the war is officially over. Only then can I see him" she finished with a smile.
Although his face remained unmoving, Levi felt a flicker of happiness from Merci's thought, "Very well then, Merci" he said.
Merci looked at the captain with a hint of shock and confusion.
"What? Are you surprised that I called you by your first name?" Levi asked.
"Well, yes, but, you always have called me by my last name, I didn't think that you would remember it. But," she looked away, a light dusting of pink on her cheeks, "I am honored that you know it, Levi"
Levi's face softens as she moved to Merci and placed a hand on her cheek, rubbing it affectionately with his thumb, "Of course I know it. Why wouldn't I call the woman I love by her first name?"
Merci looked at him shocked again, "Wha-"but she was cut off by Levi placing his warm thin lips on her own. He gently wrapped a hand to her waist and held her there. She soon processed what was going on, let her eyes flutter close, and moved her hands to his shoulders, applying a little more pressure to his lips.
Just as the kiss was getting passionate…
"Well Levi, never thought you were a ladies man," the pair pulled apart to see a smirking Commander Erwin in Merci's doorway.
Merci blushed as bright as spider lilies when she saw Erwin busting her and Levi. It was also surprising to see Levi blushing as like a rose, which then turned into red with anger.
"Haven't you heard of knocking, Erwin?!" Levi shouted, clearly embarrassed from being busted.
"I knocked, but no one answered, so I figured that the room was empty. Little did I know that I would find you actually working your charms on a beautiful cadet" Erwin said with a smug smile, "Anyway, I was looking for you. The cadets said that there was a letter that I needed to read?"
Merci thought for a second before understanding what he meant, "Oh. Levi, do you still have the papers?"
Levi then took the papers out and gave Larkin's letter to Erwin. He reads it carefully and slowly, processing every word. As he came to the end of the letter, it was obvious that his eyes had shown sadness.
"In complete honesty, I think this man deserves a Scout rank. It takes a lot of courage to call us Scouts angels. Not to mention he is right, we should never give up until we have achieved victory" Erwin said as he looked to Merci, "With your permission Merci, I would be interested in giving your brother a uniform for his words of wisdom and inspiration"
Merci's eyes lit up at the thought of her brother achieving such an honor, "He would have been thrilled to have a uniform sir! It's what he had always dreamed of, but never had the chance to achieve it"
Erwin gave a soft smile toward Merci, "Then it's settled. Would you be willing to guide us to your home?"
Levi then looked at Merci, "Would that go against your brother's wishes for you to stay away until the war is over?"
Merci gave him a sincere smile, "I don't think a little action like that would be any trouble. Besides, you don't even know what district I lived in, do you captain?"
Levi shook his head.
The three of them decided to head to Merci's district to deliver the gift in the morning, as it was already getting late.
Merci was starting to lay out her night clothes and prepare for bed when Levi stopped her.
"You're not sleeping in here tonight. You'll be sleeping with me. I don't want you to have nightmares about your brother alone, alright?" Levi said with a stern, yet kind voice.
"Um, yes Levi. I just need to do a few things. I can meet you in your bedroom once I'm done. Will that work?" she asked.
Levi nodded, "Understood" he then walked out the door and made his way to his bedroom, leaving Merci to prepare on her own.
After her usual night routine of brushing her teeth, cleaning her face, changing into her long pale mint night dress and finally braiding her hair so it was one long strand down her back. After making sure the coast was clear, she made her way quickly to the captain's quarters.
Once there she knocked on the door softly, loud enough for him to hear though.
"Come in, Merci"
She opened the door to see the captain's spotless clean office, smelling of cleaning products and cologne all in one. Strangely enough, it felt comforting to her. She then saw a door that lead to a small bedroom and she made her way over.
"I'm sorry to keep you waiting, Levi" Merci apologized.
"Tch, its fine" he said. He was shirtless and wearing loose black pants that went to his ankles. He then gestured her over, which she quickly obeyed.
She sat on the edge near him, keeping her eyes way from his drool worthy abs and eye catching muscles, trying to control herself.
"Are you alright? You seem nervous. If you think I'm gonna do something to you-" he was cut off.
"No no no, its not that. I trust you. It's just, me not being sure to trust myself. Basically, I am apologizing ahead of time if I do anything to wake you, like talking in my sleep or…other things" she said, trying to hide her blush.
Levi looked at her confused, "And by other things, you mean…?" he did actually know what was going on, but he wanted to see her reaction.
Merci gave a small blush as she explained in a blunt example, "Well like if my hips move against you…" she then turned and pointed to his crotch area, hiding her increasing blush.
Levi smirked a little as he brought her close to him, "There is no need to apologize. If anything I should be apologizing ahead of time if I start to lose control" he then moved back away from her and gave her room to lay down as he gestured her to join him.
She obliged and started to fall asleep when Levi wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her close to him, protecting her from the night of sorrow that was bound to come for her.
*The following morning after entering the district of Ehrmich*
The trio made their way through the towns as the Groves residence came closer to them. Soon the trio arrived at a rather tall looking house on the corner where black sashes line the windows and doors, a symbol of a passing by disease.
Merci made her way to the door and knocked three times. When the door opened, it showed a woman in her thirties with cinnamon brown hair that was in a half bun with part of it flowing down her back, ending a little past her shoulders with bright hazel eyes. She wore a dark green peasant dress that covered her lower half and her arms. A black cravat graced her neck, hiding her collarbone.
Merci gave a sad smile, "Hello mother"
The woman, identified as Merci's mother, looked at her daughter with shock but then returned the sad smile, "What a surprise Merci. I wasn't expecting you".
Merci than gave a comforting hug to her mother, but then pulled away to make room for the other two soldiers, "Mother, this is Commander Erwin Smith and Captain Levi Ackerman. They are my superiors in the Scouts".
Both superiors bowed in respect to Merci's mother.
"Greetings ma'am. I hope we are not intruding on anything" Erwin said, being respectful.
"Not at all, sir. We were…..working on funeral preparations. But tell me, what brings my daughter home with her superiors?" Merci's mother asked.
"You see madam," Levi started, "We're here on behalf of the entire Scouts. Do you mind if we come in for a moment?"
"Not at all, please make yourselves at home" the elder woman said, moving out of the way so the men, and her daughter, could enter. In the main room, a man in his late thirties, early forties with dark brown hair and golden honey eyes that bore a striking resemblance to Merci was sitting in a wooden chair.
"Fang, Merci's home with her superiors" Merci's mother told the man. Hastily the man stood up and gave a Scout Salute to the two leaders, only to use the wrong hands.
"Welcome to our home sirs" Merci's father, Fang, greeted.
Merci gave a small chuckle, "Wrong hands father. It's the right hand over the heart and the left hand to support the back"
"Oh, right, of course" Fang chuckled in embarrassment and switched the hands.
Erwin gave a smile and held out his hand, "Wonderful to meet you Mr. Groves" he said as Fang shook the commanders offer. Levi copied the same action as the group went to the table.
"Eidel," Fang said to his wife.
"I'll get the tea" Merci's mother, Eidel, said as she went to the kitchen stove.
Levi placed the wrapped uniform on the table as Eidel brought a tray with teacups over.
"So, as my wife asked earlier, what brings the elite of the Scouts to our home? Did something happen?" Fang asked, concerned obvious in his voice.
"Nothing is wrong. Your daughter is a wonderful addition to the team and has helped us come closer to achieving our goal. But, we are not here to discuss her. We're here because of your late son, Larkin," Erwin explained.
The instant the name of their son was mentioned, both of Merci's parents gave saddened looks and tried hard not to let their tears fall.
Levi, feeling sympathy, decided to continue, "We're here because of the letter your son has left for us. His words speak truth, we shouldn't stop until we succeed in our fight to stop the titans. For some of us, we have lost sight of the true goal that the Scouts are meant to accomplish, while others have no goal in mind and need an ending point. While we fight for the millions and bring some hope, he fought a battle that has destroyed many with little hope to go on. But instead of accepting his fate and letting it bring him down, he stood up to it and stayed as strong as a solider til the very end. Your son helped us remember what it is we fight for and that we should keep moving until our victory is sure"
"Which is why," Erwin said as he took the wrapped uniform and unwrapped it, "We believe it would be the right thing if we Scouts give Larkin a uniform of his own, the uniform he couldn't receive because of this life-ending battle. We received approval from your daughter, but the true approval is from you. Will you accept our gift?"
Fang and Eidel's eyes widened as the clean, crisp uniform was handed to them. Eidel held it in her hands then brought it to her chest and cried, her tears that were held back were now free falling. Fang placed a hand on his wife's shoulder, letting his own tears fall. The two of them looked to their daughter, who gave them a sincere smile with tears pricking at the end of her eyes.
Fang turned to the two leaders and nodded his head, "Larkin would have been grateful for this. He would have worn the wings of freedom with pride and served with strong intentions. But he didn't. Instead, his sister did it for him" he then turned to his daughter, "and we couldn't be more proud. Larkin would have been proud too" he looked back to the commanders, "so we accept your offer"
The two captains nodded their heads in understanding.
"Fang," Ediel said as she looked up from the uniform, "Since Larkin will be buried, should this be buried with him?"
Merci gave her parents a confused look, "Will be? Are you saying…"
Fang nodded his head to his daughter, "Yes. Larkin is still here, being prepared for his burial. We're….just not sure what he should be buried in.." he trailed off.
"I think it's best for the uniform to be placed in a shadowbox, like we use to when we were kids. Bury Larkin in his best clothing, like that suit he saved for a long time, if it still fits" Merci said sincerely.
Fang and Ediel nodded their heads in agreement.
"What is a shadowbox?" Levi asked, a hint of confusion gracing his face.
Merci turned to him with a bit of shock, "You never heard of a shadowbox? It's a creation where one can preserve things of artistic or personal value. Once every five years, Larkin and I would create a shadowbox to remember our past that occurred within those years. But for some in our family, shadowboxes were made as a living timeline when one of the members died. For example," she turned to the fireplace and pointed above the mantle, "see that box up there with the wood carving and woodcraft tools? That's my grandfather's shadowbox. We placed items inside that displayed what kind of person he was and what his life was like" she noticed Levi staring at the creation, same as Erwin.
"That's an interesting way to remember someone" Erwin said, obviously liking the creation.
"Larkin will be obtaining another one as a funeral shadowbox. We construct it during the funeral by either bringing small pieces to place our own personal touch on, or one item that symbolizes what a majority thought of him. Like the uniform you brought, this is a gift from all of the Scouts because of the uplifting letter that he gave to you guys. You find him inspiring, and the Scouts are like that, so he could be seen as one of your own. Does that make sense?" Merci asked.
Erwin and Levi nodded. Levi spoke, "That does make sense. And it's a great way to preserve a person's life. I'm sure that Larkin's would be a grand one"
Fang then looked to the captains, "You know. If you would like to see Larkin from his shadowbox, we can give you two invitations to the funeral. I'm sure he wouldn't mind having members of the military attend his last ceremony"
Levi and Erwin looked at the man in slight shock and disbelief. Erwin then smiled, "We would be honored to attend the funeral. Won't we Levi?" Levi then looked to Erwin, nodded his head and, to everyone's surprise, gave a small smile.
"Yes, we would be honored"
Merci gave a smile in return as Levi's quickly disappeared and mouthed Thank you to him.
*Two days later*
The night after the funeral.
It was a quiet day off for everyone as the day was coming to a close. Merci was holding her bible in her arms while laying on the bed, tears lightly poured from her eyes as she remembered her brother. Her body length black flowing dress spread across her bed as her lower legs were exposed. She tried hard not to let her brother's death get the better of her, but she couldn't help it.
Suddenly, soft knocking was heard on her door.
"Who is it?" she asked.
"It's Levi. May I come in?" he asked.
"One moment" Merci said as she dried her eyes, placed her bible on the bedside table and smoothed out her dress. She quickly made her way to the door and opened it. The captain dawned a black suit with a white undershirt and his usual cravat adorned his neck. His hair was combed back save for a few loose strands that shaped his forehead. It was obvious that he was fresh from the service. Merci stepped aside and let him enter.
"Are you feeling ok?" he asked, concern lacing his voice.
She sighed, "I'm fine. Just…..it can't be helped you know? It's one thing if Titans were the cause, but…." She trailed off, looking away from Levi, "Not to mention that I was so close to getting that cure. Just off by a few mere dollars. I didn't want to ask anyone here for it because they already have so little and I felt like I would have been greedy to ask for something I didn't earn"
Levi sighed, "You never cease to surprise me, Merci. Here I thought you were a shy girl wanting so badly to return to society and never be a scout again. But instead, you turn out to be a warrior with an honor so strong it outshines my own. A hidden jewel among rocks, a moonflower in a stone garden, and an early star in the sunset. Here I believed you were just another solider, another cadet, but instead," he said as he got closer to Merci's face, placing a hand on the side of her face, thumb rubbing gently against her cheek, "you are more than that. You are the one true woman that I have waited for, for a long time. A truly devoted young lady who would do anything to help the benefit of those she cares for. And one that I have come to admire, greatly" he finished by placing his hand on the other cheek and laying a loving kiss on the lips.
She gently kissed back, obviously entranced by his words. Her hands went under his arms and her hands were on his shoulders while his went around her neck. The two of them stayed like that until they needed to break apart for air.
"Thank you, Levi. As much as I would say the same about you, I feel as if your words disarmed me to the point where I can't fight back. It appears that you have become my weakness" she admitted.
"I still hope you stay strong. After all, the war isn't over yet" Levi said. He then stepped back and looked from her neck to her face and gave a soft smile, "Blue looks good on you. I know it's not your birthstone, but it still looks good on you"
Merci looked at him confused until she touched her neck, feeling something. She went over to her dresser and grabbed a semi-frosty glass to see her reflection, but Levi stopped her.
"Perhaps this will help you" he said handing her a lovely holly wood hand mirror. She took it a looked into it, surprised to see a beautiful blue moonstone pendant set in silver in the shape of a flower. Levi was right, she did look pretty in blue.
"Also," the captain reached into his pocket and pulled out an envelope and handed to her, "Your parents wanted you to keep this. It's the money you saved to try and get your brother the cure. Your father told me that Larkin requested this on his deathbed. He wanted you to spend it or save it however you choose, because you gave him something that could never be taken away, a sister to love an cherish til the last moment. I hope you don't mind but….I did use some of it to buy your necklace. After all, you deserve a birthday present, despite it being a little late" he blushed a little in embarrassment at that confession.
"Oh, Levi. You didn't have to do this. I love it" Merci said as she went over and gave him a hug, "Thank you"
Levi returned her embrace and looked at her, "Your welcome, my dear. But that's not the only surprise" suddenly he spun her around and placed a hand over her eyes, "Now I need you to walk with me Merci. Move forward" he said as a soft order.
She obeyed and started walking, with the corporal to guide her into a room.
"Now, keep your eyes closed, and don't you dare open them. If you do, the surprise will be ruined" Levi said.
Suddenly footsteps were heard and a door was slammed shut.
"Hey there Merci," Mikasa said, "I know this is rather strange but we'll need you to take off this dress ok?"
"Wait, is Levi still here?" Merci asked in a panic.
"No, he just left, you're safe now. Now, let's get you out of this black dress. You can go ahead and strip now" Mikasa explained.
Feeling her cheeks heat up, she strips out of her dress. She then gets instructed by Mikasa for the next few minutes. She feels her hair getting styled, perfume being rubbed on her skin and bits and pieces of make-up being placed on her. Merci desperately keeps to Levi's wish of not opening her eyes, despite the urge to. It was about 20 minutes after they started did Merci feel everything stop around her.
"Can I open my eyes yet?" Merci asked.
"Not just yet. Now give me your left hand" Mikasa instructed.
Merci obeyed and was lead down a hall to the steps to a large room that she figured was the dining hall. She quietly waited as Mikasa moved her hand from Merci's and stepped aside.
"Alright Merci, open your eyes" Mikasa said.
Merci opened slowly to….
She almost jumped out of her skin at the shout and stepped back a few feet, placing a hand over her heart.
"Happy Birthday Merci!" everyone shouted.
"We know it's a few days late, but better late than never right?" Krista asked while smiling.
"Wha?" Merci looked around, "Oh, you guys!" She said while smiling.
"Don't thank us, Captain's the one who planned this" Eren said.
"Everyone was at this all day, getting ready" Armin said.
"We even went to town to get your dress, what do you think?" Sasha asked.
Merci looked down to see herself in a royal blue tea dress with a halter top, but she really got a good look when Connie came with a full body mirror. Her long hair was up in a high ponytail and blue eye shadow graced her golden eyes. A pair of black lace up shoes graced her feet.
"Guys, I love this! Thank you!" Merci said, hugging the closest person she saw, which was Krista.
The party went on until the moon was high in the sky. Merci received many gifts, mostly those that would go in her bedroom or clothes, since she gave as much as she could away to get money for her brother. But her biggest surprise was seeing a plaque right above the fireplace with Larkin's letter placed in glass and a gold plate underneath that had his name and the quote he proposed to the Scouts.
"Never stop your fighting til victory is won"
Merci felt tears pour from her eyes again as she sobbed quietly. She then felt a pair of hands hug her from behind. She turned to see Levi giving her a small sympathetic smile as he stopped her tears with his thumb.
"Larkin's story will forever be honored here. He will be our beacon of light when we are down in the pits of darkness and doubt" Levi stated as he hugged her close.
"He would have liked that. Thank you" Merci said as she returned his embrace.
"It's really me who should be thanking you, Merci. You're courage, charity and compassion has been a great asset to the soldiers here" Levi said. The entire corp cheered and hollered at the end of that.
"And with that, you deserve this" Levi said as he brought Merci close to him and kissed her passionately, not caring if everyone was watching.
Merci kissed back with equal passion. Soon the two of them broke away and Levi hugged Merci. When she looked over his shoulder, she saw a figure standing in the doorway of the mess hall. It was a young man of 17, with dark curly hair and bright hazel eyes. He was wearing a black suit with a sweet pea flower in his breast pocket, the flower of April. Merci's eyes widened a bit when she realized her brother, no, her brother's spirit was standing in the doorway, a large proud smile set upon his face with a caring twinkle in his eye.
"Thank you sister. For everything. I know you didn't get your goal, but you fought long and hard enough. Now is your time to begin anew with a new goal. Never give up, and don't stop until victory is won. But for now, everything's…alright. Love you sis" a voice said as the figure moved from the door and out into the moonlight and then disappearing into nothingness.
Merci gave a small smile as her brother left. She then looked at Levi and rested her forehead against his.
"Love you too brother. And I won't stop until man-kind is saved. After all, that is our ultimate goal. The goal of the Angels of Humanity"