Different World, Different Tradition

BY : Sasunarufan13
Category: +. to F > Attack on Titan /Shingeki No Kyojin
Dragon prints: 199
Disclaimer: I don't own Attack on Titan nor profit from it. Hajime Isayama owns it.

Author's note: Fun fact: so far I've managed to post one Ereri oneshot each year since 2014 :') Let's hope I can post more next year!

This was meant to be a Christmas oneshot and I guess in a sense it is, but don't expect real fluff ^^; And PAY ATTENTION TO THE WARNINGS.

Warnings: Levi's pov; canon up until the 31st volume, so spoilers for anyone who hasn't read until that volume at least; canon divergent after volume 31; slash; some angst; smidgen of fluff; reference to violence

I hope it's not too awful and I wish you all a Merry Christmas/Happy holidays/insert whichever holiday you celebrate! Also, happy birthday, Levi!

Different World, Different Tradition

"You're sure you don't want to stay?" Hange asked, leaning against the empty desk.

Levi snorted and closed his bag, rolling his shoulders to get an annoying kink out of it. "Why the hell would I do that?"

"You could help building up actual political relations now," she suggested, but her smile was wry, indicating she knew very well how stupid she sounded.

"How about I don't do that because I literally don't care about all those political mindfucks," he sneered, heaving the bag over his shoulder.

"I could try." She shrugged helplessly and rocked back and forth on the back of her heels. "It's going to be weird not having you around anymore, you know."

"It's going to be incredibly quiet and peaceful not having to be around you anymore," he grunted.

She quirked a quick smile before sighing and running a hand through her hair, for once loose. "Just – don't be a stranger, all right? I'd like to see you again some time."

"I'll think about it," was all he was willing to say before he left the room, leaving behind one of the last ties he still had to this place.

Walking through the corridors of the castle, he passed several people who were rushing back and forth, calling out orders to each other as they started yet another day of repairing and rebuilding the houses. Some of them paused long enough to salute at him, their faces bright with excitement in spite of all the shit that had happened these past few months.

His horse was waiting for him, saddled up completely, and after sparing a nod to the stable boy, he grabbed the reigns and led his horse out of the stable. Getting back on his horse felt strange now, knowing that no longer would he need the animal in order to flee from rampaging titans. No longer would the adrenaline race through his veins as he awaited the right moment to use his 3D gear and leave his horse behind.

The lack of 3D gear had him feeling unbalanced as well, feeling too light after years of having it strapped to his body; the metal contraption having acted like an extra limb. Now he was left in nothing more than a pair of white trousers, his shirt, his jacket and a duffel bag with the remainder of his clothes; his own 3D gear left behind on the battlefield, too shattered apart to be repaired.

He stared at his hand, at the last remaining fingers he still had there, and snorted quietly, thinking how ironic it was that after all these years he only had lost a couple of fingers and had a scar marring his face, while others … Others had lost their lives.

Shaking his head in an attempt to dispel the dark thoughts – what good could they do anyways, when they couldn't bring back the dead? – he climbed onto his horse and sent it into a galop immediately, rushing through the gates.

Running straight to his last destination.

As the island started rebuilding itself, people eager to return to their old lives even after all the shit they had witnessed, Levi had decided to retreat in a small house close to the coastline.

The small cottage was still quite deep in the forest, but if the wind came from the right direction, he could hear the waves crashing about and the sea itself was a mere forty minutes on foot away.

It started snowing by the time the cottage came into view and he looked up, watching how the small snowflakes twirled down from between the leaves, melting as soon as they landed on a leaf or on a branch. Perhaps if it snowed long enough, a white blanket would greet him in the morning. Or perhaps not. He didn't care either way.

There was an old shed close to the cottage and he led his horse to it, having prepared the place around a week earlier, ensuring the animal would have something to eat and drink. That done, he grabbed his bag and trudged out of the shed, making a beeline for the cottage.

Upon opening the door, he came to a halt as he perused the rooms, realising instantly what was so different about it when he had been here last: it was clean. Not a speck of dust had been left behind and the debris he'd spotted before had been cleared out. He swiped his finger across a rickety table near the door and studied it, humming quietly when he couldn't see nor feel any type of dirt left.

He closed the door behind him and placed his bag against the wall for now, walking deeper into the cottage. A staircase on his left led to the first floor where there was a bathroom and one single bedroom. In front of him was the kitchen, the door left open, showing gleaming counters and a spotless window. To his right, first a small closet, bare save for a single broom, followed by a closed door behind which he would find the living room.

The door didn't even shriek when he pushed down the handle and opened it, proof that the hinges had been oiled. His gaze was immediately drawn towards the furthest corner of the room, where a long haired man was decorating some kind of tree with paper pieces of all things.

"Looks like you managed to regrow your entire body after all," Levi remarked and crossed his arms, leaning against the windowsill.

Slowly Eren turned around; his long brown hair tied back in a bun, some strands left loose. "Yes, I regrew everything two days ago," he replied, stepping away from the tree.

He should be dead right now. Blasted apart, blown to pieces after the fucker had been a tad too excessive in wanting to protect the island. His fifteen metre tall titan form had been one thing – the absolute nightmarish creature he had turned into at the end had been something completely else entirely.

He should be dead right now – but he wasn't.

Because Levi didn't allow him to be. Hadn't wanted him to die, period. He didn't know why exactly. Was it because Eren was one of the very few ties he still had left from his past? If so, he might as well have stayed with Hange, because she at least possessed a bit more sanity than Eren did.

He honestly couldn't say why he hadn't delivered the final killing blow when he had found Eren's head on the ground after they had blasted his final form apart. He had thought him dead at first, because surely only a head couldn't survive? But being the tenacious fucker that he was, Eren had somehow still survived despite being nothing more than a goddamn head.

Maybe that was the reason: because Eren reminded him so much of himself, he couldn't bear to completely destroy him. Because in spite of everything that had happened in the last couple of years, when Levi looked into those green grey eyes, he could see nothing but that blazing fire that had greeted him on that day in the dungeon when a brat no older than fifteen years old and just having been discovered to be a titan shifter had snarled out his desire to wipe out every single titan alive in the world.

Perhaps Levi was just tired of losing everyone he cared about. Maybe he just didn't want to be alone anymore. Maybe saving Eren would make up for all the shit he had done in his life.

Or maybe he just wanted to say fuck you to the world and save the very person who had wanted to destroy that world.

Who knew? Definitely not him.

After he had realised Eren was still alive, he had hidden his head in a barrel and had returned for him under the cover of night. By then Eren had regained some consciousness and had started to regrow a part of his chest.

After wrapping up what was left of the young man in a blanket, he had walked around aimlessly until he had stumbled across this cottage. The wooden building had been far from clean, having not been lived in for years, but it had been far enough from any potential prying eyes and he had left Eren here, with the instruction not to die and the message that Levi would come back soon.

"At least all your mad plans didn't take your ability to clean away," Levi remarked and the ghost of a pleased smile briefly flitted across Eren's face.

"I'm glad you approve of my cleaning. I wasn't sure whether it would be passable still," Eren retorted; some old cheekiness resurfacing after so long.

"It's passable," Levi said dismissively. "Certainly not the worst I have ever seen. What's with that stupid tree, though? And that paper – did regrowing your limbs turn you crazy enough that you thought making decoration out of paper would be a good way to pass the time? Where did you even find all that paper?"

"Ah, I found it upstairs, in the bedroom. Guess the previous owners left it behind," Eren said and shrugged. "It's not like I could find decorations lying about, so I figured I could make some out of paper."

"Why?" Levi frowned and approached the tree warily.

It was a small pine tree of all things; the trunk resting in a small tub with earth packed into it. Some paper had been turned into crumpled balls, while others had been ripped apart, the strings haphazardly placed around the branches.

"When I was there, I discovered they have holidays that we don't celebrate here," Eren murmured, reaching out to poke one of the crumpled balls. "Today is such a holiday actually. It's called Christmas and they would decorate trees with all sorts of stuff and they would get together to eat a lot and exchange presents. I remembered the date a few days ago and thought it would be nice to celebrate Christmas with you. You know, a new tradition and all." He smiled wryly.

"A new tradition, huh?" Levi repeated quietly, staring at the tree.

He had never heard of this Christmas thing before and it would be a meagre celebration with just the two of them. In just a couple of years, they wouldn't even be with the two of them anymore; Eren's time dwindling away even after surviving being blasted apart. He wasn't immortal, far from it.

They had three, maybe four more years together, five was probably stretching it. And then Eren would be gone, leaving Levi alone once again.

Starting a new tradition seemed stupid when they would only be able to celebrate it for four years at most, but …

"You're still an idiot," he sighed, not even twitching when warm fingers folded around his hand, covering the empty space without hesitation. When he glanced down, it was to see tanned skin covering his own pale one, filling the gaps where his fingers used to be.

"Nothing wrong with new traditions, sir, especially when the world starts anew," Eren smiled.

Yes, Levi probably should have left him to die back there on the battlefield, instead of spending the last remaining years the shifter had left, secluded in a cottage in the woods. Perhaps that would have been more merciful.

But Levi had never claimed to be merciful and he was too selfish to let Eren go. So he would keep him here at the cottage, where they would live together for however long Eren would still hold out. Maybe that would be three years at most, maybe four years or even five.

However long it would be, Levi would be here until the very end, willing to share a stupid overseas tradition if that made the younger man happy, if that helped distract him from the pure horror show their lives had been up until now.

"Merry Christmas, Captain, and happy birthday," Eren whispered.

Levi closed his eyes when dry lips touched his cheeks and sighed softly. "Yeah, Merry Christmas, brat."

The End

AN2: Possibly one of the most depressing Christmas oneshots I've written so far and I'm sorry for that ^^; This idea wouldn't leave me alone, though, so yeah, this is the result.

I hope it wasn't too bad at least! Please leave your thoughts behind in a review; should you spot any mistakes, please point them out to me.

I hope to see you all back in my future stories and I wish you all a Happy New Year! Please stay safe and take care of yourselves!



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