A/N – Hello again! This is the last chapter of the story, I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to read and review it. Enjoy!
Levi watched as the titan opened his jaws and lifted Petra towards them. Petra stopped struggling and gazed at Levi, tears flowing down her cheeks. Sorry – she mouthed as she slowly lifted her hand and put it on her heart as a last salute to her superior before the titan crushed her between his teeth. Levi had halted his horse and now stood staring at the scene in front of him. Blood spattered everywhere as the thing chewed on one of his beloved comrades.
Rage filled Levi. He hadn't been able to protect her.
He wanted to kill the titan.
Let it suffer like it had never felt before.
But he couldn't. It would be near to impossible to take on the titan, and Petra had given up her life for his. She'd given him the chance to run.
Levi closed his eyes and bowed his head in despair before he turned his horse around and ran. The feeling of running away was something he had wished to never feel again. Back in his days in the Underground he had run from lots of things because he had been too weak, until he had vowed to never run again. Now, several years after he had made that vow, he was running. The titan didn't seem interested enough to follow him. The bastard better not – Levi thought bitterly as he was fighting the urge to turn back around.
The convoy appeared in sight and Levi looked back once more. He gripped his reins tighter and forced himself to look forward, she was dead and nothing could be done to change that.
He was galloping near one of the carriages as he spotted his squad. A feeling came up, a feeling that he had never experienced before. Guilt.
Petra had been loved by everyone - she still was -, she'd been like a little sister to them all. She'd always been the one who cheered them up.
Levi went past his squad, ignoring their surprised greetings and headed for one of the carriages. He approached an almost empty one and effortlessly jumped on it. Afterwards he slid down and let his head rest on his knees. The pain of his injuries were overwhelmed by the pain of losing … a friend. Petra had been a friend to him this expedition, she'd been the one who had cared for him. That was exactly the reason why he didn't let people come near to his heart, because every time someone did, something happened to them. It was like he was cursed to never have anyone dear to him. He hadn't been there to save her, he had watched her get devoured while he did nothing, not even the slightest effort to save her. So far for being humanity's strongest warrior, he couldn't even protect one of his subordinates. The scene played over and over in his head, every time he saw Petra giving her last salute to him. Until the very last moment she'd thought about him. That's what subordinates are supposed to do – he said to himself while his gaze hardened. Yet …
Erwin and the rest of the soldiers had been able to get everything under control, the convoy had regrouped and they were now headed back in the right direction. They'd lost a great deal of time and he was worried if they would still arrive at their supply point on time. Several carriages had been lost in the process of defeating the titans – as well as many good soldiers. Gunther, one of Levi's subordinates, had informed him that Petra had went missing during the attack. Erwin wasn't the type who mourned about lives lost on the battlefield as he believed they died for the greater good. But Levi was someone who cared deeply for his comrades, even though he barely showed any affection towards them. The fact that Petra was missing … Erwin shook his head – these were things he could think about later. He just hoped Levi wasn't stupid enough to go and look for his precious subordinate. He'd known longer that those two had become friends, maybe in a somewhat strange way. A friend was something Levi had desperately needed, even though he hadn't realized himself. Losing her would probably mean that he would close himself off forever to any closer relationships than subordinate-captain. Or even less.
Levi had waited out the whole expedition in the back of the carriage. Restless as he was, he hadn't been able to find a comfortable position. They'd arrived at their destination half an hour ago, but Levi had felt reluctant to join the other captains – not that he usually did that anyways. He closed his eyes again, trying to block out the bloody scenes as he lay down on his back and put his hands behind his head. It wasn't as cold outside as the day before and Levi even almost enjoyed the comfortable breeze that softly grazed his face.
When Erwin had led the convoy inside the small surrounding walls of the fort, the first thing he'd wanted to do after getting off his horse was to look for Levi. The sky was already filled with stars – there was no sign whatsoever of the storm they had encountered a few hours earlier-, they'd been majorly delayed by the titans and it was hard to look through the people at carriages scattered across the forecourt. At first glance he didn't seem to find the carriage Levi was supposed to be in, but he did spot his squad. He marched towards them in his usual demeanor.
The squad saw the Commander approach, so they all respectfully saluted him.
"I can't seem to find Levi, do any of you know where I might find him?" Erwin asked, though he had a feeling he knew the answer already.
Eld was the one to answer and he shook his head while doing so, "I have no idea, sir. The last time I saw him …" he hesitated for a moment but the Commander urged him to continue, "The last time I saw him was when he passed me on a horse. I directed him towards Petra's location, sir!"
Erwin slowly nodded, "Did you see him return?"
This time Gunther spoke up, he'd been the one to inform Erwin about Petra, but he had neglected to tell him that Levi had been with her. "I saw him return, sir. Auruo and me were helping a soldier with his gear when we saw Levi gallop on a horse. I seem to remember he jumped in one of the carriages up front."
"Mhm." Erwin had been thinking to himself when he remembered that the soldiers were still standing in position in front of him. "Go relax." He said finally, "We've all had a pretty rough day."
The squad quickly dispersed after that, Eld and Gunther heading over to the main room while Auruo remained where he was. He sat down and looked up at Erwin, "There's no chance she'll come back, right?" Auruo knew full well that the chance of her coming back where close to zero. He'd witnessed the horrors on the field several times, but he couldn't get over the fact that it was now Petra that was gone. Even though they used to bicker all the time, they had formed a close bond.
Erwin was slightly surprised by the question. He'd never thought such a question would come from this confident man. The man's tears were at the brink of escaping as Erwin looked him in the eyes. He shook his head and put his hand on the man's shoulder, "I very much doubt it." He said before silently walking away and leaving the man to mourn. It hadn't been said that Petra was dead, but people who went missing during titan's attacks never came back. Right now he was worried about Levi. The man hardly ever showed his emotions, but the fact that he hadn't seen him since arriving at the fort was enough for him to worry. Levi was always one of the first to come out and seemingly uninterested check his subordinates. He wandered through the empty carriages, the image of Auruo still lingering in his mind as he heard a soft cough.
"Levi?" he softly asked the darkness.
Levi had finally found some sort of shallow sleep as he heard his name being called. He knew who it was and he was in no mood to deal with the blond-haired Commander so he put up his arm over his eyes and pretended he hadn't heard anything.
"Levi?" It sounded again, but closer this time. Levi cursed in himself, interaction seemed inevitable. He groaned as he pushed himself upright, hoping that that would be enough to guide Erwin to him. He felt reluctant to say anything.
"I know you're there, Levi." Erwin pushed on, he didn't want to go to Levi until the man had answered to his call.
Levi rolled his eyes. He knew Erwin was just standing outside the carriage and that annoyed him more than it should, "What." He snapped.
Erwin appeared in front of Levi, gazing in silence, the bushy brows darkening his eyes. "Look," he started, "I know you're hurting and not only by-"
"Dear God Erwin," Levi said as he rolled his eyes again, "spare me your comforting bullshit." He said bluntly as he set his eyes on the man, he had no interest in any of his attempts to reach him, to understand him.
Erwin was a bit taken aback by this response so he continued on a more formal tone, ignoring the defiant answer he had gotten from the captain, "What exactly happened out there?"
"Shit, Erwin …" Levi mumbled as he gazed at the floor boards he was sitting on. "Can't you fucking tell?" he said, his voice growing louder and louder, "She's dead and it's my fault. I know what you're going to say, but you weren't there. Petra was eaten right in front of me, she was right within my grasp," he said while looking at his hand, wiggling his fingers back and forth as he saw the scene in front of him once more, "If I had just admitted that I was sick and hurting she wouldn't have come to look for me, I've gotten her killed because we were friends, Erwin. Because that's what happens when I care about someone." Levi had never opened up this much in front of Erwin, in front of anyone. But he just couldn't let this sit, Erwin had asked for the truth so he would get it.
Erwin was baffled at the amount of words that had come out of Levi's mouth, he'd never heard him tell so much about himself. Though he was angered by the meaning of those words, "Stop your pitying and self-blame, it's not going to help anyone. We're in the Recon Corps, Levi, no one is untouchable. Not you, not me. This is not because she was your friend, it's because a titan showed up at an unfortunate time. What if you'd admitted you were sick? You'd have been in that carriage when it was trampled, would that have been any better?" He said bitterly.
Levi just stared at his Commander, "Would it?" he muttered emotionless.
Erwin watched Levi return to his usual behavior as his eyes shut out the pain that had been in them a few moments ago. He shook his head, "You have to move on, Levi. I know you're mourning," he quickly lifted his finger as he saw Levi opening his mouth for a retort, "and don't interrupt me. Petra will still be here, just like every other soldier we've lost today." He said and softly added, "Just like Farlan and Isabel."
Levi shot a death glare at Erwin, "Don't mention their names. Ever. Again. The brat's dead, now shut the fuck up and leave. I don't need your hour-long monologues about the life of the Recon Corps." He pointed at the emblem on his shoulder, "I happen to be an expert."
"Alright," Erwin abided, realizing he wouldn't get through to the man, "but come here for a moment." he said, he still needed to get the his thoughts straight.
Levi was reluctant to get up, but if it meant he would get rid of the Commander he gladly complied to the request. It took some time but eventually he stood next to Erwin breathing in and out from the exertion.
Out of nowhere Erwin softly grabbed Levi's shoulder, "Look up." He said.
Levi wasn't fazed by the sudden touch – though not very happy, but he looked up at the stars anyway, just like he always did. It gave him some kind of comfort right then.
They both stood there looking up, how long didn't matter. Levi's gaze softened as he recalled the happy memories he had from his friends. Now the stars did not only remind him of Farlan and Isabel, but somewhere Petra was there as well. He almost chuckled at how cliché and mushy it sounded, but still … moments like these had kept him sane all those years.
"I should've been there…" he mumbled.
"You were." Erwin softly answered as he left Levi to his thoughts and walked to his room where several stacks of paper awaited him.
A/N – It hurts me to say this but … this was the last chapter. ;; I've truly enjoyed writing this story, thank you all for the support! Please review if you get the chance, I love hearing from my readers even if it's just two words. A Happy New Year to you all and be safe! :)