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Cerulean

Chapter Text

Green mold creeped up the rain stained walls that surrounded Levi most of his life. Metal bars trapped him in the encasement, giving him little access to the outside world. The only light he received was from the flickering torches located in the halls, illuminating his sight in orange.

He knew every second he spent in his cage made his life dwindle away.

Which is the reason why he decided to make his risky escape.

He had broken off a piece of his bed and sharpened the wood against the sharp chains binding his bed to the wall. The frail boy spent days sharpening the piece with any chance he received, even going without sleep and food.

Now his weapon was finished.

Levi hid the wooden stake in the belt of his pants, loose enough for him to swiftly grab, but tight enough so it wouldn't clatter to the floor. He awaited the guards arrival to bring him his tray of trash.

The rattling of keys against the clang of heavy boots echoed through the hall. A familiar sound he heard every day. And Levi prayed his plan would work.

The only face he had ever put to memory appeared in front of the rusted bars. "Lunch time," Darius stated as Levi rushed over to grab his tray. Stale bread, rotting meat, and murky water. He scowled and set the tray down to push it back beneath the bars. Darius looked to the boy, staring at his skinny and bony frame. "Are you sure?" he questioned. Levi nodded, ignoring the grumble in his stomach. The guard bent over to reach for the neglected tray, offering Levi the perfect opportunity to grab his weapon.

Darius rose ad was met with a sharpened piece of wood to his heart. He stared at vicious eyes and gritted teeth as the weapon was twisted in his chest to drive him further to death. His vision blurred before his world went black.

Levi pulled out the stake after he grabbed the guard's keys, and let Darius's dead body drop. The raven worked quickly to unlock his cell. He knew he had plenty of time before more guards would come. The videos the camera picked up were drowned in static and had a large delay when watching on the screens in the security room.

The bars opened with a loud creak, dragging Darius's limp body with it. Levi took shaking steps outside of his familiar space. He inhaled a trembling breath as he leaned against the opened bars to let them fall back into place.

He was about to continue forth when he heard the shuffling of bare feet. The raven looked to the side to see a wide, blue eyed boy gripping onto the bars of his cell. Levi thought about throwing the keys to the poor boy and running, but he wasn't sure the boy would make it out as well if he left him behind.

With a sigh, Levi dragged his feet over to the boy. He used the set of keys to unlock his cell and let the moldy doors groan open. "Let's go," Levi demanded, the feeling of using his voice almost foreign to him. The boy hesitated, seeing the blood dipped stake Levi held in his hand. "I'm not going to hurt you," he promised.

The boy skeptically stepped out of his cell, bringing his features into the light. He was covered in dirt from head to toe much like Levi. His dirty blond hair was pulled into a messy ponytail. He was pale like Levi and bony from the lack of food. "What about the others?" the boy asked. His voice was familiar, even though he had never met the blond before. "There are thousands in the other halls, we can't save them all," Levi explained, taking the stranger's wrist. He heard a sigh emit from him as Levi lead the blond down the hall.

"Might I ask your name?" the boy questioned the raven. Levi listened to their pattering steps before answering. "Levi," he answered. He looked to the other, "And your's?"

"Armin."

The two frail boys ran down the halls, stones and sticks pricking their bare feet. But they ignored the pain, focusing on the surrounding sounds to swiftly march closer to freedom.

Levi found window with loosened bars. He let out a happy breath at the sight of the white sky. The chirping of birds carried by rustling filled his ears.

The raven handed Armin his wooden stake. "Watch my back," he demanded in a hushed tone. He took it from Levi's hand with a quivering grip before nodding in response. Levi brought his attention to the window, and worked at prying the loose bars away. The metal had been eaten away by rust making it easy to free the rods.

Once Levi had finished, the opening was wide enough for a slim body to fit through. Perfect.

Levi turned his back to the wall, and grabbed at the stone to lift himself into the gaping hole. He squirmed through the orifice, his nose barely scrapping against the pavement.

He was almost blinded by the amount of light that swarmed his sight. His lungs were attacked with fresh air that chilled his skin to the bone. He was finally free. Levi pulled himself out, his body colliding with the green ground beneath him. The blades of grass tickled his skin, and for the first time in a while, a smile graced his lips.

The raven stood and looked through the window. "Come on, let's not waste time," Levi said to the blond. He watched his grimy hand appear with the stake. Armin let the weapon roll away, and Levi caught it to keep it from harming the other. The boy started crawling through the fissure on his stomach. He soon joined Levi on the colored ground with a happy sigh. They exchanged smiles as they looked out to the unfamiliar world.

But their happiness came crashing down when the blaring sirens wailed behind them. Red lights flashed, announcing a problem in the prison.

"We have to go, now!" Levi exclaimed, grabbing the blond's wrist again. They raced forward, only to stop in their tracks as they looked at the grass forming into rocks that created a steep drop off. Waves crashed against the boulders, drowning every sound besides the obnoxious sirens.

A lush forest was located on the other side of the water.

"What do we do now?" the blond inquired, anxiety coating his words. "We jump," Levi answered, making the other boy's eyes widen. He vigorously shook his head. "It's either that or death," Levi said, gesturing to the prison they left behind. The boy looked to the rocky path below, watching the water crash into the cliff. "Alright," the blond gulped.

The two looked at their destination with hearts hammering against their chest. "Please don't let the water be shallow," Levi muttered to himself as he took in a deep breath. Taking the other's hand, they both fell forward, watching the scenery fall with them.

Their bodies collided with the liquid's skin with a splash, making their muscles sting. They were able to break the surface to inhale a quick breath, before the roaring waves brought them with the water's fast course.

They struggled to grab at land, or gripping onto logs they thought were caught on the ground's surface, only to let it drift away with them.

Levi looked to the other boy, trying to clutch the blond's wrist again, so they wouldn't be separated. But the blond pointed to something behind him, "Look out!"

The raven observed the view behind him, but it was too late. A towering boulder filled his vision as he came in contact with the oversized stone, smacking his head painfully.

And his newly found colorful world became a familiar pitch black.

~

Armin clasped at the boulder where Levi's unconscious body sat. He wrapped his arms around the raven's waist to make sure he wasn't carried away. His breathing was ragged and a small amount of blood stained the rock. With unknown strength, Armin snatched at the nearby ground, and dragged himself and Levi back onto the grassy surface. Using the raven's elbows, he hauled him further into the growing forest.

He dropped in the middle of two trees to tend to Levi's wound. With no medicine, he ripped away a piece of his shirt to tie it around the other's forehead.

The blond hadn't lived most of his days in the kingdom's prison for his Cerulean blood. He grew up in the forest with his friends, and knew his way around the maze of trees.

But he wouldn't be able to carry Levi's body very far.

Armin set to work, trying to find a nearby rope trap. Luckily he found one easily under an obvious pile of leaves. He removed the net from its place, and pulled Levi's body onto the net of rope.

The blond tugged at the string holding the ropes together, trapping Levi in a curled up bag. Armin brought the string over his shoulder and dragged the contraption behind him.

It would be a painful experience for Levi when he woke up, but there was no other way Armin could venture forth without tearing his muscles to shreds.

Besides, Levi would be safe with the blond's friends.

Chapter Text

It was soft, whatever Levi was laying on. His back didn't feel twisted and mangled in his position. Usually his skin would be torn because of the keen hooks welded onto the iron chains. Whoever had created the prison wanted to make Cerulean's lives as miserable as possible.

But he was no longer in his cell. Levi laid on a cushioned cot with a bulky blanket wrapped around him. He took in his surroundings. Walls made of polished oak created the room he had slept in with circular windows carrying in dimming light. Growing plants in jars of water sat on shelves absorbing the sun's ray. Levi rolled over to find a clear glass of clean water. He reached to the drink with sore muscles and took a sip, sighing at the cold and fresh taste. With no odd aftertaste he usually received after a drink, he eagerly downed the liquid.

Levi would've stayed in the bed forever if it weren't for the curiosity of who's home he was inhabiting. Leaving his warm cocoon, he stood with aching limbs that slowly carried him out of the room he woke up in.

Pictures decorated the walls he passed of a Pristine couple. A brunette woman and a man with a buzzcut. They smiled in every picture, from photos of cuddle nights and their wedding day. He envied their happiness.

Pristines lived their days in safety and contentment because of their perfect blood. Ceruleans lived in fear and hiding if they were lucky enough to avoid the kingdom's guards. The king and queen wanted to eliminate Ceruleans to discontinue the "birth defects" they carried. Some "defects" were as severe as crippled bones or diseases, and were as minor as freckles or irregular hair color. Levi had the minor defect of multicolored eyes, one a dark blue and the other a startling silver.

"You're awake."

The voice made the raven jump and turn to the sound. Armin was smiling at him wearing fresh clothes. His skin was no longer caked in dirt the way Levi's was. The raven stared at the boy's clean skin in awe. Armin chuckled. "I could draw a bath, so you can clean up," he suggested. Levi eagerly nodded, broadening Armin's smile. "Alright, follow me," he said.

Armin led him to a room with the aroma of cooking food. The two Pristines from the photos were preparing dinner.

"He's awake!" the woman exclaimed happily. This caught the attention of her husband and he turned to smile at Levi. "I hope you had a nice rest," he explained. Levi nodded, unable to find his voice. "This is Sasha and Connie, they're good friends of mine," the blond stated. "Armin says you took out a guard with wooden stake," Sasha said with an impressed tone. The boy nodded again. "Where did you get a weapon like that?" Connie asked, his eyebrows knitting together. "My bed," he answered, "and I sharpened it with the chains."

The couples eyes widened with arched brows. "No one has even attempted escaping Shiganshina Prison," Connie explained with amazement. "How long have been there, Levi, if you don't mind my asking?" she asked with her arms over her chest. The raven shrugged, "Most of my life, I guess."

"How old are you?" Armin inquired. Levi shrugged again, "They don't exactly celebrate birthdays."

Silence fell between the four as the Pristine couple felt guilty for the Cerulean.

"I'll go start your bath," Armin said after awhile to break the tension. It took Levi a second to process the blond's words until he was watching Armin disappear into another room. He quickly followed behind, not wanting to be left alone with another potential conversation.

Levi stopped in an expanse with white tiles covering the floor and half of the walls. Armin was crouched in front of a white stone bath. Running water echoed throughout the area, creating a soothing sound to Levi's ears. The blond looked to the other Cerulean and smiled at his eased composure. "It's more relaxing once you're in the tub," he explained with a chuckle. Levi approached the filling tub to dip his fingers in. It burned his skin. But it was better than the ice cold water a guard would give him in a bucket. He always preferred boiling temperatures over the cold.

Soon enough the water lapped at the tub's edges because Levi forced Armin's hand away from the silver controls, so he could continue watching the clean water flow. "I'll bring you some extra clothes once you're finished. Towels are stacked on that shelf," the blond said, pointing to a stand made of black rods. Levi watched Armin walk out of the room, letting the door click shut behind him.

The Cerulean swirled his fingers around in the water's warmth before he decided to strip. With eagerness, Levi dipped his raw muscles into the tub. The carved stone was more comfortable than he anticipated. He let out a soft sigh of happiness as he sank into the water, letting his tight limbs loosen under the heat. His hands rubbed against his arms, spreading the water around his skin.

Steam billowed into the atmosphere, making the air thick, but he liked the heaviness it created in his lungs.

The raven set to washing his hair. He lathered his locks in shampoo, scratching it into his scalp until it burned soothingly. His fingers scratched against his skin, careful to not interfere with his wound. Once his hair was nothing but suds, he dipped his head into the pool of water, and laid there until he had the energy to wash his skin.

He picked up a dry rag to soak it in the water. Grabbing the soap, he created bubbles against the cloth to wipe down his skin. Removing the years of unremovable dirt stains made Levi's skin feel lightweight. He never realised how heavy the grime, and relished in the feeling of being freed from the filth.

Levi had wanted to stay in his newfound enjoyment, but the water took on a brownish color, as if he had shed his sludgy skin.

Letting the tub drain, he step out of the containment, his feet sinking into a soft rug. Grabbing a towel, the Cerulean wrapped the fluffy fabric around his damp body.

A knock rapped against the bathroom door. "I heard the tub draining, I have some clothes that will fit you," Armin said behind the closed entrance. Levi turned the brass knob to let the blond slip in a stack of neatly folded clothes.

Dropping the towel swaddling him, Levi began slip on his bottoms. Brown trousers that were shredded at the knees. His top a white, oversized short-sleeves shirt with black strings to tighten the fabric around his chest.

The raven walked out of the bathroom and back to where everyone stood making dinner.

Sasha turned to him with a smile. "Do the clothes fit nicely?" she asked. Levi picked at the hem of his shirt as he nodded. "I'm glad Connie's old clothes will go to good use," she said with a soft chuckle. Her husband nudged her shoulder which she replied to with a kiss to his cheek.

"Are you hungry Levi? Food is almost ready," Armin said as he chopped at fresh carrots. Levi's usual response would be a resounding no, but the sweet smell of the meat cooking with crisp vegetables made his stomach growl. "I think that answers our question," Connie said, grabbing a few plates from a cabinet.

The Pristine brought the dishes over to a round table fit for five. "Sit down, Levi," he offered as he placed a plate in front of four chairs. The raven did so, making himself comfortable on the velvet cushion he sat on. Connie returned by his wife to grab a steaming pot. "Place that on an oven mat!" she reminded him. He nodded with the roll of his eyes, "I know sweetie."

He walked to the table, and Levi watched his face drain. "Armin, could you bring me an oven mat?" he questioned, a small snort emitting from Sasha. The blond walked to his friend with a woven cloth of multiple colors and set the mat down on the table. "Thank you," Connie smiled as Armin strolled back to help Sasha.

Levi watched the Pristine place the pot on the mat to reveal a treasure trove of vegetables burnt at the edges. The sight made Levi's mouth water. "When was the last time you ate?" Connie inquired with a chuckle. The raven shrugged. "A few weeks ago, maybe."

The Pristine gave him a look of worry. "Please begin eating then, before you starve," he insisted. Levi looked to him for final confirmation before grabbing a plateful of cooked vegetables. Armin soon joined the raven's side with a serving plate of unspoiled meat. Connie sat opposite from the raven, beginning to fill his plate. "Go ahead and eat, Levi," Connie said, noticing the Cerulean hadn't touched his plate.

Levi hesitantly picked up a piece of meat with his fork, expecting the food to tear apart. Instead the piece was thick instead of thin and delicate. He cut a small bite to finally begin eating. Expecting the meat to be slimy and slide down his throat, he was surprised the food was chewable with a sweet tangy flavor. He let out a content hum as Sasha sat beside her husband.

The raven basically devoured his food, his empty stomach filling with warmth and nourishment. The other three didn't say anything about Levi's fast pace, focusing on their own meals.

Levi had eaten three plates of food before he decided to end his binge. He had offered to help clean up, but Connie said he would handle it. Sasha brewed a cup of tea for the raven claiming it would heal any stomach cramps he would receive after inhaling so much food. Levi was just glad to have the new taste of tea pass his lips.

"If you need anything, our room in around the corner from yours," Sasha explained before her and her husband headed to their room. Levi nodded in response and thanked them for letting him stay.

He returned to the room he woke up in, swaddling himself in the large comfortable to send him off into a a deep slumber with no nightmares.

Chapter Text

Levi thought everything was a dream, but when he woke up he was still swaddled in the cushioned blanket on the comfortable cot. He let out a happy sigh as he heard the chirping birds outside his room along with the sweet sizzle of breakfast.

He kicked the sheets off himself and walked out of his room with his hand scratching through his hair.

Armin was sitting in a small chair, Sasha sitting beside him. She held a small blade to his wrist.

"What the hell are you doing?" Levi asked, quickly grabbing Sasha's hand that held the knife. "There's a device in my arm that disrupts my shifter ability," Armin explained. The raven looked to him in surprise. "You're a shifter?" he inquired. The blond nodded. Levi looked to Sasha, who nodded, before he let go of her.

He watched Sasha flick her wrist to get her sleeve out of the way. She carefully set the blade against the blond's skin, blood drizzling down his flesh. He slightly winced as the silver went deeper into his skin.

Making a long slit into his wrist, she set the blade down and picked up a set of long tweezers. Sasha looked up to Armin who nodded in approval. She delicately dug into the cut, careful not to injure Armin.

Soon she removed the tweezers. A small white disc with a black rim and a red dot on the top was pulled out. Armin let out a long sigh as his body looked like it took on a quick shimmer.

"No tracking device," Sasha said in relief. "They banned trackers about twenty-two years ago," Connie replied, bringing a few plates to the table. His wife picked up a needle and thread to stitch the blond's broken skin together. "Why are they banned?" Levi questioned.

"Citizens didn't like having their privacy being violated, so they changed the law. But the queen wanted to bring it back when her son was kidnapped and burned alive. The law still hasn't changed," Connie explained with almost a bit of sympathy. He watched his wife swaddle Armin's wrist in a white bandage. "I can't even imagine losing your child," he added with a sorrowful shake of his head.

Connie turned back to the sizzling meat after a while to serve the ready food. Sausage, eggs, and bacon. Levi's mouth still watered at the sight.

They all began eating, Levi the most eagerly. Sasha had destroyed the device in Armin's arm, saving the scraps for parts.

"Levi, would you like to assist me in the garden today?" Sasha questioned as the raven worked on his second plate of food. Levi looked to her with stuffed cheeks and nodded. She gave him a bright smile, "Great."

Armin helped Connie with the dishes while Sasha found an outfit for Levi to work in. He was given a tattered black shirt and dirt-smeared white capris. They went outside to begin working in the garden.

Sasha led the boy to a small garden with fresh berries and green leaves of lettuce. Levi watched the Pristine crouch down to pick at long blades of grass. "Help me pull out the weeds, please," Sasha said. The raven leaned down to grab at the leaves, which caused the Pristine to laugh. "No, no, those are carrots, they aren't ready for harvesting," she said with a smile. Levi gave her a confused look. She pointed to a prickly set of greens. "These are weeds," she explained.

Levi pulled at the blades Sasha indicated. "Perfect," she explained as the dirt released its grip on the weed.

They continued working, soft hums from the back of Sasha's throat.

"How long do you plan to stay here, Levi?" Sasha questioned. He shrugged. He had given the idea a thought, knowing he wanted to somewhere as far away from the kingdom as possible. "You can stay as long as you want. But if you want to leave soon, let me teach you how to hunt and grow vegetables," she explained. Levi nodded in response a bit eagerly. The Pristine laughed at his avid reaction.

Sasha stood and brushed dirt off the fabric of her pants. "Follow me," she said as she began walking away. Levi quickly stood, fumbling in his steps and followed behind the Pristine.

She led him to an area shaded by towering trees. Circular targets riddled with holes were placed on a stack of logs. Sasha held up a bow with a quiver of arrows swung over her shoulder. "We don't use guns, they're too loud," she explained as she hooked an arrow onto the bow's string. Levi watched her draw the string back, keeping the arrow's end between two fingers, and watched her let go. The arrow twirled in the air as it shot towards the target, digging the arrowhead into the center. Levi stared at the arrow quivering from impact in awe.

The Pristine handed the bow to Levi with a broad smile. "Your turn," she explained. He took it earnestly. Sasha removed an arrow to attached it to the string. The raven mimicked Sasha's past actions, but he found it hard to draw the string back, straining his muscles in the process. She had made it look simple.

Without meaning to, Levi let go of the string, the arrow barely making it a few inches in front of him. He looked to the Pristine helplessly. "I guess we'll have to work on your arm strength," she explained, picking up the fallen arrow. She attached the arrow back onto the bow string. Sasha helped Levi draw the string back further. "Aim a little higher," she said. Levi did so before letting the string go.

The arrow dug into the outer ring of the target. He let out a long, defeated sigh. "We can practice a bit more tomorrow," Sasha suggested with a shrug. The raven nodded, already hating his limp muscles.

"Could you help me with one more thing?" Sasha questioned. The Cerulean nodded, handing her bow back.

He trailed after her to a small clearing in front of her house. Clothing hung from a taught ropes held up by long poles. Sasha picked up a woven basket, and handed it to the raven. "Help me put the laundry into these baskets, please," she explained. Levi took it while he looked at the rows of hanging clothes. He nodded and set to work.

The fabric smelled fresh of soap and sunshine. Levi loved inhaling the air as he folded the clothes and placed them in his basket. The sweet smell of lavender filled his nose that he found himself softly smiling at. Sasha hummed a small tune that seemed familiar, though Levi was sure he had never heard it.

Levi picked up the full basket, cradling it with both arms and hugging it to his chest. Sasha held her's against her waist. "Thank you for the help, Levi," she smiled, showing her bright, white teeth. The raven nodded. "Where would you like these?" he asked, indicating to the basket. "You can set it on my bedroom floor," she explained. They both walked to the Pristine couple's bedroom, placing the baskets on the floor.

"Thank you, Levi, I'll put them away later," she explained. He nodded and exited the room.

The thought of a calm and relaxing life, far away from the kingdom, eased his mind, and entered his dreams that night.

Chapter Text

Levi spent months helping the Pristine couple with chores. He assisted them with dishes, laundry, sweeping, and carrying in logs for fires. Sasha hummed anytime she cleaned. Connie stuck to cooking and building fires.

The raven liked to stare at the flickering flames trapped in the fireplace. The cell he had spent most of his life in was always cold, but the heat from the fire erased the memory of cold nights that was imbedded in his skin.

Armin and Sasha helped him with the bow and arrows. He tagged along when they went hunting. Levi watched them track down their meals with caution in each step, careful to not snap a twig.

Levi practiced using a bow and throwing knives any chance he received. Soon enough, he brought a weapon with him on a hunting trip. He was able to track and kill a deer, giving the four plenty to eat.

He was taught how to mix potions to use as medicine or a substance for food or water. Sasha had boxes and more boxes of the glowing liquids.

After months of the Pristine couple's help, Levi wanted to begin traveling deeper into the woods.

Sasha had packed a small bag of clothes for him, which he insisted she didn't need to do, but she demanded he take it. Connie loaded an abundance of food in the bag as well, even though the Cerulean insisted he take it back.

"If you ever need anything, you can always come to us for help," Connie explained as Levi slung the bag of items over his shoulder. Sasha came running in with something folded in her arms. She handed the item to the raven. "It will get cold at night," she stated. The item was a large forest green cloak. Levi decided against handing it back to her, and announced his gratitude instead.

The four exchanged hugs and farewells before Levi ventured deeper into the woods.

Levi paid attention to every sound that surrounded him. He jumped at the sounds of twigs snapping only to realise the source was beneath his feet. But he had to be careful, incase of any royal guards searching for him or Armin.

At the slightest noise of voices, the Cerulean hid behind shrubbery or buried himself in the openings of tree trunks. But voices were rare, the atmosphere around him was filled with chirping birds and the usual lapping water from small streams. Using flasks from his bag, Levi filled them with water every chance he had. If the water wasn't clean enough to drink, he saved it for boiling over fires.

During the night, he set up a fire and warmed the packed food in his bag. He boiled the undrinkable water to remove the toxic things in the liquid. He would eat some of the food Connie had packed for him or a sliver of meat from an animal he had hunted that day.

Levi usually wouldn't stay in one place for a long period of time. But he found a small cave that he grew to like. It was far enough from the kingdom that the guards would never think he would be able to travel that far. The cave already felt a little homey, but no one ever came to claim it. It was placed in a small grove of trees, perfect to string up laundry. He cleaned and decorated the inside of the cave.

It had been a few weeks and he had decided to make the little cave his home until he felt the need to leave. He would go hunting once a week, usually finding enough meat to last him a few days.

Levi woke up everyday with the same routine following. He would clean up, eat breakfast, and folded his laundry. He would go hunting or practice his aim after his morning routine.

He decided to wake up early to hunt. Birds chirped loudly as he dressed himself. He wore the same outfit he had received when he first arrived at the Pristine couple's humble abode. Levi always made sure to wash the cloak he was given to receive extra protection from poisonous leaves in the woods.

Levi removed the green cloak from the hanging laundry and was content with its dry state. Swinging the fabric around him, he sighed happily from the warmth it brought. He stuffed his pockets with knives and grabbed his bow and quiver of arrows.

Two trees bent together making a small entrance separating his home from the rest of the world. He liked the little privacy it gave, even if no one lived near him.

He walked through the two trees with a drowsy smile. But his grin disappeared quickly when he felt his body stop moving forward, and instead moving up. His vision was covered with a web of ropes as he became closer to the leaves in the trees than their roots.

Panic subsided in his stomach, wallowing in the mystery of who was responsible for for his current position. Levi grabbed the knife from his pocket and worked at cutting the taut ropes.

"Hey!"

The sudden voice made him jump and drop the knife. "Shit," he mumbled to himself. "Hope I didn't startle you," the same voice explained. Levi looked up to see a man leaning against the tree below him with his arms crossed over his chest. He was a brunet with long hair, pulled in a ponytail. He possessed bright green eyes with tan skin and fangs. A Chelicera.

"I'm guessing you're not from around here," the brunet said with a fanged smile. "What makes you think that?" Levi questioned. His inquiry made the other laugh. "You're stupid enough to walk through a pile of leaves," he explained. Levi looked below him to notice a gathering of dried leaves. "Plus, I have this poster with a picture that looks a lot like you," he added, holding up a wanted paper with a sketch of the raven.

Levi's heart sank.

"You're planning on turning me in?" the raven asked with disheartened features. "Well the price on your head is quite high, so I'd say yes," the stranger shrugged, folding the paper up. Levi let out a sigh, trying to bang his head against the ropes in defeat.

He felt the ropes jerk, which made the Cerulean jump. The brunet held the string that had hoisted Levi in the air with ease. The weaved bag dropped suddenly, causing Levi to quickly squeal, before it came to an abrupt stop inches from the pile of leaves. The raven looked to the other, who gave him a snide smirk.

The Chelicera lowered the net Levi sat in. The raven felt his back slam into the ground, closing his eyes with a groan from the impact. He felt the ropes around him move until the Cerulean was hoisted up by the arm.

Levi watched the stranger bind his wrists together with the single rope from the trap. "You don't trust me?" Levi questioned with a mocking tone, pouting with his bottom lip. The brunet gave him a little chuckle. "Not at all."

A strange feeling exploded in Levi's chest, warmth spreading in his heart as he heard the oddly sweet sound of the Chelicera's laughter. It was like an infinite flame flickered against his ribs. He liked the new feeling.

"What's your name?" Levi asked as the stranger cut the net away from the rope. "Why should I tell you?" he answered. "So I know what name to curse before I'm executed," Levi replied. The Chelicera chuckled again, making the feeling in Levi's chest spread like a disease.

"Eren."

"Eren," Levi repeated it bitterly, but he liked the taste it left on his tongue. He had no idea why.

Eren had cut the rope, giving him a lead to drag Levi behind him. The raven looked the other over as his attention was elsewhere. He had no discernible traits that would mark him as a Cerulean.

"You're a Pristine?" Levi questioned. "Born and raised," Eren replied as he tugged at the now severed rope. "Must be nice," Levi mumbled, trying to play the pity card. "It has its benefits," the brunet shrugged, ignoring Levi's expression.

The Pristine picked up the dropped knife and cut the strings of the bow and quiver Levi wore around his shoulders. "Hey!" the raven protested as Eren tossed his items aside. "You won't need those anymore," the brunet explained. Levi pouted out his bottom lip as he looked to his broken weapon.

"Let's go, we have a few weeks journey ahead of us," he explained. Levi was tugged forward by the rope Eren held, pulling the raven's arms forward and making him almost trip over himself.

"I'd like to stop by a friend's house, if you don't mind," Eren explained, walking forward. "I don't exactly have a choice," Levi explained. The brunet laughed again, and the feeling in Levi's chest appeared again. The raven brought his hands up to his chest as Eren's back was turned. He pulled down the cloth of his shirt to see what he expected. His heart glowed a dim red.

Eren is Levi's soulmate.

Levi had been informed about soulmates when he spent his life in the kingdom's prison. But he thought it was only a legend.

He let go of the fabric with heat rising to his cheeks. Perhaps Eren would never notice. Maybe it was just a fluke.

He would just never mention it and hope the feeling would disappear.

Chapter Text

Eren dragged the poor Cerulean to a small clearing that was clean of leaves, and instead piled against the bases of trees. A small wooden cabin with tiny windows that glowed orange from indoor light. A thin line of smoke curled out of a chimney, making the home look warm.

The night was freezing, and Levi hoped they would stay the night at Eren's friend's home. The brunet tugged him towards the door. He knocked against the closed entrance and waited for his friends answer.

The oak door creaked open and the warm, orange light cloaked the dark outside. Even the illumination ceased Levi's shaking from the cold night. A lean blond with a tight fitted black tank and pyjama bottoms. His hair was scruffy and he possessed dark stubble. Levi looked to his slender fingers against the door frame. Instead of fingernails -that he expected to see- there were claws. A werewolf.

"Hey Jean, hope I didn't wake you or Marco, did I?" Eren asked with a fanged grin. Jean rubbed his eyes with an annoyed and sleepy look. "Why are you here, Jaeger? And who the hell is this?" Jean questioned. "Why am I here? Can't friends visit friends?" Eren asked with a chuckle. The blond gave him a roll of his eyes.

Eren dug into his pocket to pull out the crumpled wanted poster. "Do you recognise him now?" the brunet inquired as he straightened out the parchment paper. Jean took the poster, his claws barely touching the delicate material and studied it before glancing at the raven.

"So you're Levi?" Jean questioned as he looked between the similarities of the poster and the Cerulean. "If I say no, will you let me go?" Levi questioned. "No," Eren replied as he was handed back the poster.

"Can we stay for the night?" the brunet questioned. "Marco won't be here until tomorrow. He can't know about the 'trade'," he put air quotes around the word as if it were a secret Levi couldn't decipher. "We'll be gone by morning, but you said you wanted some of the bounty, so I have one condition," he gave his sleepy friend a smirk, "you're coming with us."

Jean rolled his head back in annoyance before looking back to Eren. "Don't come, and no bounty," he added with a toothy smile. The blond rolled his eyes again. "You're such a bother, Jaeger," he explained. "That's what I'm here for," the Chelicera said with a shrug.

"Get in before you freeze your asses off," Jean demanded as he stepped to the side, giving space for the two to enter. Levi was tugged in as Eren strolled past the threshold. They stepped into a small living room with one couch and a small chair in red and white fabric, the arm rests bare and presenting its pale framing. An oak table was placed on a striped rug with white tassels at the ends. A small, boxy television sat on a shelf mounted on the brown painted walls.

Levi turned his head to see a small kitchen blocked off by a half wall. Counters with white marble circled around the kitchen's confinement with a round foldable table sat in an empty corner of the room with two chairs situated by it.

Levi was pulled over to the couch. "You're going to need some rest," Eren explained as he made the raven sit on the cushion. The brunet tied the other end of the rope to the couch's armrest. "Sleep, we have a long day ahead of us," Eren stated. The raven laid against the firm pillowing, trying to bring his arms comfortably to his chest. He watched Eren walk to Jean as the Cerulean's eyes started fluttering closed from sleep.

"I need to talk to you," Eren said to his friend before sleep muffled Levi's senses.

~

"I need to talk to you," Eren stated. Jean sighed and rubbed at his eyes with exhaustion. "Fine Jaeger, it better be important," he indicated to the round table in the kitchen. They sat in the two available seats, both resting their backs against the chairs and walls.

"What was it like when you met Marco?" the brunet questioned. Jean knitted his eyebrows together. "Why are you asking for a sappy love story?" he asked with a hint of irritation in his voice. If his bastard of a friend had kept him awake for this, he was going to beat his ass in. "Just answer the question, Jean," Eren replied, crossing his arms over his chest.

"Well, if you're so desperate to know, we met on-"

"No, not where you met, I mean, how did it feel when you two crossed paths?" the Chelicera interrupted. The blond arched his eyebrows as he tightened his lips together.

"Why are you asking about this?" Jean questioned, crossing his arms over his chest as well. "Please just answer the question, and I'll explain soon," Eren responded. Jean let out a defeated sigh and yawn.

"When we met, as cheesy as it sounds, it felt as if we were the only two that existed in the world, the only two that mattered. My chest swelled every time he laughed or smiled, and of course my heart started flowing once we were together, spreading warmth against my rib cage," Jean explained, ready to be defensive if Eren started laughing. But instead his friend sighed and let his head fall into his hands. "Damnit," he muttered as he took handfuls of hair between his fingers.

"What the hell is that reaction for?" Jean said, leaning against the table as his voice rose a little. Eren rested his hands on the table and locked gazes with his friend.

Eren grabbed his shirt by the collar and pulled it down to present his tan chest. And his heart that glowed a dim red, outlining the bones encasing the organ. Jean flicked his eyes toward the sleeping raven before looking back to his friend's illuminated chest.

"You can't take him back," Jean stated sternly. Eren pulled his collar back up. "And why not?" the brunet growled. "You two are meant to be together, if you let him be taken away, you'll regret it forever," Jean answered. "Perhaps it's a fluke," Eren suggested with a shrug. "Trust me, glowing hearts don't appear for no reason. It'll hurt both of you when you're separated, and it'll be even worse if either of you die," the blond explained.

"I'm sure it'll go away, we haven't created a strong relationship," the Chelicera replied. "No matter how much you want it to, it doesn't work that way. I won't argue with you about it now, but I'm not going to let you turn him in," Jean said seriously. "We need the money, Jean," Eren protested. "We live fine without it now, but you'll barely be able to survive without him!" Jean pointed to the couch where Levi laid.

But the raven wasn't there. Instead the seat was empty and the front door was left wide open.

"Shit!" Eren yelled as he stood and bolted out into the cold night.

Chapter Text

Levi ran as fast as he could with bound hands. He needed to cut the rope before the two caught him again. The raven knew Jean and Eren were behind him. He didn't dare to look, but he could hear the rustling of leaves behind him, causing him to pick up his pace.

It was hard to see his surroundings with the little moonlight filtering in through the trees. The raven almost ran into a few trees, dodging at last second.

He would have hid if the leaves weren't giving away his position. And he was sure he had read werewolves have excellent vision during the night, so Eren and Jean possessed an advantage.

Without his command, his steps came to a halt. His eyes landed on a drop off that would send him into a pond.

But it was his only option.

Quickly laying on his back, he slid down the slope. The leaves rustled against his ears, twigs dragging along his ankles and in his hair, but he didn't think any sharp objects would reside in the piles.

Levi felt something tear through the back of his jeans and cut into his skin. He let out a cry of pain while his body came to a stop with the sharp object still digging into his skin. He sat up, now lying on flat ground and examined his wound. A stick sharpened to a spear had penetrated his skin and drawn out a stream of blood.

"Damnit," Levi muttered, knowing the two would catch up to him with his injury. With his bound wrists, Levi pulled the weapon from his leg and tried piercing through the rope with it.

But with the little mobility he had, the raven was unsuccessful.

Jean and Eren soon came racing down the slope, causing Levi to go to a last resort escape, sobbing and begging. He already had tears forming, maybe from the pain he was enduring, or perhaps from the mere thought of returning to the prison.

Eren grabbed his shoulders as the tears streamed down Levi's cheeks like waterfalls. "Pl-ease don't take me back there," the raven pleaded as he fell back into the brunet's arms, his injured leg not being able to hold him up. "I-I don't w-want to die."

"Shit. Jean, can you help me? He's injured," Eren asked his friend as Levi still whispered small pleads. The blond pulled off his shirt to use as a bandage as Eren carried Levi over to the pond. "I have something that might help with the pain at home, and it will put him to sleep," Jean explained. Eren washed Levi's wound with splashes of the pond water. The raven still let out raspy begs that was silently ripping Eren's heart to shreds.

The Chelicera held one hand out for his friend's shirt, which he received. He gently wrapped the cloth around Levi's wound before tying the sleeves together to secure it. He picked the raven up with ease, carrying the still crying boy to his chest.

"Let's go," he said as he turned to Jean. "Follow me."

Eren trailed behind the blond in silence, not being able to conjure up his voice while he held Levi's shaking body in his arms.

They returned to the cabin, Jean quickly searching for the medicine he had mentioned. Eren sat Levi on the couch, holding the rope that still bound the raven's wrists together. Levi stared at his surroundings with a tear gaze and defeated features. Eren watched him broken-heartedly.

Jean soon emerged from the bathroom with a bottle of medicine. "Found it."

He went to the kitchen to fill a glass with water before sitting beside the raven.

"Here," he said as he handed Levi two pills. "This should help with the pain."

With his hands being utterly useless, Levi opened his mouth to let Jean feed him the medicine before helping him take a drink.

Levi slumped down onto the couch, laying his body against the cushion as he felt drowsiness settle in. Eren tied the end of the rope to the armrest again as he watched Levi's puffy eyes flutter shut.

~

"It's heartbreaking to see him cry, isn't it?" Jean questioned after the silence took a minute to suffocate them both.

Eren chewed at his lip before he gave a slow nod. "Why does it have to be him?" he whispered mostly to himself. "We can find another way to make money," Jean suggested.

"I can't wait too long," Eren muttered. "I need this money."

"Eren, you can't be greedy in a situation like this," Jean argued. The brunet snapped his gaze to his friend. "It's not greed, Jean, it's for my mother."

"Carla wouldn't want you sending your soulmate to his death just so you can attempt to save her life," Jean growled back.

"She's someone I care about, I don't care about some stranger that can make my heart glow," Eren retorted, baring his fangs.

"You're such an idiot, Eren. You take action before even thinking things through, and you end up regretting your decisions. You'll regret this most of all."

The brunet looked back to the sleeping Cerulean. His features were more relaxed now that he was asleep. His breathing became a rhythm instead of the having the anxiety coating it. His cheeks were still stained with drying tears that Eren couldn't stop from wiping away. His pale skin was soft, making the simple sweep feel like swiping away a raindrop from a flower's petal.

"One day I think we'll agree on this situation," Jean explained. Eren wasn't phased by his friend's words, and instead stared at the sleeping raven. His eyelashes fluttered ever so slightly with each breath he took. Sometimes a small sigh would escape his nose before he would his shoulders. Eren found the little patterns difficult to look away from.

And soon enough, he found himself combing his fingers through the Cerulean's raven locks.

"I hope it'll be sooner than later," Jean said with a smirk as he watched his friend ogle at the boy. Eren hummed in response, not knowing what the blond was talking about.

"Let's head to bed, like you said, we have a big day ahead of us," Jean nudged the brunet's shoulder. Eren nodded. "I'll stay out here and sleep, make sure he doesn't escape again," Eren stated. Jean chuckled.

"Just don't stay up all night staring at your dream boy. It's a bit creepy," Jean teased. "Shut up Kirstein," Eren replied, causing his friend to laugh. "Good night, Jeager," he waved as he walked to his bedroom.

Eren settled back in a chair once his friend disappeared down the hall. He sat across from the raven and smiled slightly. His vision began fading, blurring at the edges. The last image photographed in his mind was of Levi.

Chapter Text

Eren was stirred awake by a hand on his shoulder shaking him. His eyes fluttered to a hazy view of Jean. He batted his hand away, wanting to go back to sleep. But his friend persisted.

"Wake up, Eren, we need to get going," the blond growled. The brunet brought his hands up to rub his eyes, before sitting up, feeling the twist in his back caused by the uncomfortable chair he slept in.

Levi was still curled up in the same position. "Wake him up, I'm going to pack a bag of clothes and food," Jean explained, quickly heading in the hall to his room.

Eren rose from his spot to stretch his limbs. He looked to the raven with the swell of his heart returning. Letting out a sigh, he gently shook Levi's shoulder. The raven's brows furrowed as a small groan emitted from his throat, but he didn't open his eyes. "Levi, it's time to wake up," he said softly, still trying to shake the raven awake. All he received was another groan.

"Let's go," Jean emerged from the hall, hauling one bag over his shoulder and holding another out for Eren. The brunet took the bag, slinging it over his shoulder. "I told you to wake him up!" Jean exclaimed, seeing Levi's sleeping form. "I'm taking care of it," Eren yelled in a hushed tone. He untied the rope from the couch. Levi groaned softly as Eren picked him up. The warmth in chest ignited a fire when the raven squirmed until he found a comfortable position in Eren's arm and sank into the embrace. And the brunet stared at the Cerulean in awe.

"Eren, stop ogling over your future husband, we need to go," Jean explained, gesturing to the door. The brunet switched his gaze to his friend. "Open the door, Jean," he said, ignoring his previous comment.

With a rush in each step, Jean walked to the door, quickly grabbing its handle. "We need to be quick, I'm not sure when Marco will be home."

Jean turned to the door as he swung it open and stopped in his tracks. "Shit," he mumbled under his breath. Marco stood on the porch, with his hand raised as if he was about to open the door, but shock was written in his features from the sudden opened entrance.

"Hi honey, I'm home," Marco said with a small and almost awkward chuckle. "Hi...honey," Jean stuttered, hoping he hadn't noticed Eren or the Cerulean in his arms.

"Can I enter...our home?" Marco questioned after the two stood in the doorway in a moment's silence. "Right," Jean said with an awkward chuckle. But he didn't budge making Marco's brows furrow.

"I mean...not without a kiss, I haven't seen you in a...day," Jean explained, not so smoothly. Marco grinned a bit with a confused expression. But he shrugged and pecked a kiss to his boyfriend's lips. Jean prayed Eren had found a place to hide as Marco separated from him.

"Welcome home," the blond smiled as he stepped away to let Marco in.

Eren was smart and was no where to be seen, Jean let out a sigh of relief at the empty room. He was thankful his friend wasn't an idiot. "How were Christa and Ymir?" Jean asked, relief filling his lungs. "They're fine," Marco answered, setting his bag on the couch. He walked to Jean and pressed a kiss to his lips. "I missed you," he cooed, making a smile divided his cheeks. "I missed you too."

"What did did you do while I was gone?" Marco questioned as he walked to their bedroom. "Not much, it was pretty boring actually," the blond replied. Marco grinned as he opened the bedroom door. His smile faded. "Jean, why is Eren in our room?"

Jean took it back, his friend is an idiot.

The blond approached his boyfriend to find Eren looking to the two shocked with the still sleeping Cerulean in his arms. "Your first choice for a hiding spot was our room?" Jean questioned as he stared at the brunet angrily. Through his peripheral vision, he could see Marco whip his gaze towards him.

"Jean, can I talk to you in private?" the raven growled. Marco's tone quickly caught both Eren and Jean's attention. The raven was known for never getting angry. The twitching of his brows and downward curve of his lips was new. Jean nodded before Marco turned and walked to the living room. He followed behind the raven.

Marco kept his back to Jean, staring angrily at the wall with pictures of the two smiling together. "Who was that with, Eren?" he asked sternly. Jean had never seen his boyfriend this way, his shoulders tense and rolled back. Even the atmosphere around him seemed to be raging.

"His name is Levi," Jean sighed, crossing his arms over his chest. "What is he doing here?"

"Eren brought him over yesterday. He's a Cerulean and there is high price for his return to the kingdom. Eren wants the money for his mother," Jean explained in the calmest tone he could conjure. He could see his boyfriend stiffen and could hear a shaky intake of breath. The blond dared to take a step closer. "I don't agree with his decision, Marco," he began.

Marco kept his stance, not even moving a muscle when he knew Jean was inching towards him. "When Eren met Levi his heart started to glow." He could hear Marco suck in a sharp breath. "He's too stupid to realise how big of a mistake his choice will be. And I'm trying to convince him, but it might take some time. But I am not letting him take Levi back to the kingdom's dungeons," Jean finished.

He was now standing beside the raven, looking up to his clenched jaw and still stern eyes. Marco was a Cerulean as well, one that was lucky enough to have never been to the kingdom's prison.

Jean took Marco's hand gently, rubbing his thumb on his speckled skin. Marco seemed to let his tense structure falter at the touch and finally looked to Jean.

"Even if we can't convince Eren, that Cerulean is not going to the kingdom's prison," Marco explained sternly. Even though Marco himself had never been to the prison himself, he had heard of the terrible treatment. "Promise," Jean nodded.

"Where are your bandages?"

Jean and Marco turned to see that Eren had emerged from their room with a now awake Levi in his arms. Marco looked to the petite raven, his multicolored eyes blinking drowsily back at them. He had a bloodied shirt wrapped tightly around his calf.

"In the bathroom cabinet," Jean replied. Eren strolled to the bathroom, no longer acknowledging the couple.

"I don't think it'll take much convincing," Jean explained once Eren had disappeared into the other room. Marco chuckled a bit. "Do you want to come with us? You'll have to pack a bag," Jean asked. The raven nodded. "I'll go pack."

Marco let go of Jean's hand and walked to their room. He passed by the opened entrance of the bathroom, presenting Levi sitting on the sink's counter with Eren tentatively tending to the wound on his leg. The raven smiled a bit at the sight.

He was glad his friend finally found his soulmate.

Chapter Text

Levi watched Eren wrap the bandage around his scarred calf. The brunet did the action with tenderness that Levi couldn't help but smile a bit. But he quickly hid the grin when Eren stood. "Can you stand?" he asked, already helping Levi off the sink's counter. Once Eren let go of the raven, his wounded leg crumpled under his weight, and if it weren't for Eren quickly catching him, Levi would've crashed into the tile floor.

"I guess that's a no," Eren said as he lifted the raven into his arms. Levi would've protested, but couldn't help but love the feeling of being in the brunet's arms. He was incredibly warm, making the cold that enveloped Levi shatter. Eren didn't seem to notice when he nuzzled himself against the brunet's chest.

Eren carried the Cerulean out into the living room where Jean sat on the plush couch. "Marco is packing, he's coming with us," the blond explained as Eren set Levi down in a chair. The warmth Eren provided disappeared, and Levi's skin returned to its cold state.

The brunet sat by his friend. "Is everything alright between you two?" Eren questioned. "Yeah, everything is fine," Jean answered with a nod.

Marco soon stepped out of the room with a bag slung over his shoulder. "Ready to go?" Marco questioned grimacing as if it were hard to ask his inquiry. Eren and Jean stood. Levi watched Eren approach him before he was lifted from the seat, and the warmth of the brunet's body heat returned. He could feel his heart swelling and the flutters of butterfly wings beating in his stomach from the close proximity. Levi wanted to snuggle into the brunet's broad chest, coveted the idea of smashing their lips together, desired the thought of-

-no.

He couldn't think this way.

Eren was the one who was holding him hostage, who was going to return him to the place he dreaded most of all. And for all Levi knew, the effects possibly weren't working on Eren. Maybe his heart didn't race like a wild stallion when he laid eyes on the raven, perhaps it didn't glow. True, Levi had read plenty of documents consisting of soulmates in the prison's library, and according to those, Eren should be having the same symptoms. But Eren still seemed content with sending his soulmate to his doom. Perhaps it was some dumb crush he somehow developed, and his body mimicked the manifestation.

Whatever it was, he knew it was a fluke. In a few weeks, Levi would return to the prison and inevitably be executed for his misbehavior. Eren would receive the reward, giving a portion to his friend, and live his days happily, never once thinking about the Cerulean that only wanted the taste of freedom in his palate. Now that he only had the sweetness of freedom for a month or so, he wanted it with every fiber of his being. But with the injury he had now, he was practically useless when it came to transportation.

Levi didn't notice that Eren and his friends had moved outside, until the sun flashed in Levi's eyes, and he instinctively turned his head to shield himself from the harsh rays. His nose became buried in Eren's chest. The fresh smell of pine and nutmeg filled his senses, and he barely stopped himself from humming. Hoping the brunet didn't notice, Levi turned away from him as if nothing had happened. Eren didn't comment, which Levi was thankful for.

Marco and Jean walked in front of Eren, their hands interlaced together. White versus tanner skin, but it clashed perfectly. Levi looked to Eren's hand that grasped his side, sunkissed skin. If they were a couple, their hands would blend like that.

Levi couldn't deny that his heart fluttered with the thought of holding hands with Eren popped into mind. The brunet had large palms with slender fingers that could easily envelope Levi's hand whole. He loved the idea.

But he shook his head, clearing the lovely image from his head. He returned his focus to the couple's interlaced fingers. Jean wore a tank that presented the muscles he possessed, while Marco stuck with a shirt with sleeves stopping at his elbows. From then on freckles we're painted on his tan skin, making his skin look like a galaxy of stars.

He was a Cerulean too.

Levi parted his lips to speak, but decided to say nothing. Marco didn't deserve to see the prison in its glory. By his posture, Levi knew he had never been locked in a cell, no scars distorted his skin, and he held himself as if there was not a problem in the world. Levi did envy that. He envied anyone who had never experienced the treatment of living under the kingdom's roof.

The familiar taste of bile made an appearance in his throat as the thought of the dungeons came to mind lfor the umpteenth time. The cold nights with his back twisting in the only bed he ever owned and spikes scraping against his skin until he bled in the straws of hay he slept on every night. The rotting food left a bitter flavor on his tongue. A small chill crawled down his spine, making his body shake in Eren's embrace for a moment. The brunet didn't seem to notice.

But Levi couldn't go back to the palace.

He would rather die a million times over than return to that living hell.

~

Marco watched his boyfriend begin the fire the four of them desperately needed. The day had grown dark, and they decided to find a place to rest in order to gain some sleep. Eren was sitting a small distance away from the Cerulean with the rope in his hands, making sure he wouldn't escape. Levi was his name. And Marco couldn't imagine what sort of trauma Levi had gone through in the cells. He held it in his multicolored eyes.

The fire began to blossom. Jean hummed, deciding his job was finished, and dusted his hands against his pants before sitting beside Marco.

The raven barely noticed even as the other three sighed in relief as the fire grew. He was looking at Levi, noticing raw skin and flesh stretched tightly against bones. He must've not eaten much in the dungeon, looking as if he had just picked up the habit of eating about a month ago.

He flicked his gaze to Eren. Marco knew under that shirt was a glowing heart, beating just for Levi. He needed to open his friend's eyes to what would happen if he went through with this idiotic plan. Marco looked to Jean, who was now lounging against a log behind him with his eyes closed. He turned back to Levi and Eren.

Now or never.

"Hey, Levi, can ask you a question?" Marco asked, bringing his knees to his chest. Levi brought his startling eyes up to meet Marco's gaze, before nodding. "If you don't mind, I know the royal prison is pretty harsh on the Ceruleans, but would you be willing to explain the details?" Marco asked this with an ache in his heart. Levi seemed to stiffen at the question as Jean rose from his spot.

"You don't have to elaborate if it makes you uncomfortable," Marco explained, but the Cerulean shook his head. "I've lived there most of my life with the exception of a few homes offering me stay, but it didn't last long when soldiers would search for unlucky Cerulean in the village. My last home practically kicked me out with a sign hanging from my neck, claiming I was a Cerulean."

"The cells are small and frigid with cement floors. A wooden bed frame is linked to the wall by chains that have keen hooks melted into the rusted metal. The guards give each of us a bucket every morning to use as a waste container, and once a week we're given a bucket filled with cold water and a cloth to wash ourselves with. The water is usually reused from the previous week. The food is always covered in mold, and the drinking water is murky. On occasion, we can be escorted to the dungeon's library to read for an hour, before we have to return to our cell."

"When the dungeons become overcrowded, the guards make a game of choosing who will be executed. They'll either draw names from a hat or drink until their choice are anonymous to themselves. I would always hide in the corner of my cell on those nights, and they would write it off as an empty cell, but I should've just let them pick me, it would've been quicker," Levi stated. He was looking at the fire by the end of his telling. No one dared to break the silence he left floating in the air. Marco and Jean were staring at Levi with the color from their faces draining. But when he turned his gaze to Eren, he noticed a stronger reaction.

The brunet's skin was red with brows pinched together in anger. His hands tightened into fists that caused the fabric of his pants to violently crease. He looked as if he were shaking a bit as he stared at the fire.

But he was the one to break the silence.

"Let's eat, and get some rest," he stated, anger lacing his tone.

Even through the guilt Marco felt for Levi, he was pleased by Eren's reaction. It meant there was a part of him that didn't deny his inevitable feelings for the raven. Even if it would take a while for him to completely accept the emotions he held for Levi, it would happen, and that was all Marco needed to assure himself that Levi would not return to the hell he grew up in.

Chapter Text

Levi woke up under the blue sky with no trace of clouds. His bound hands were pulled uncomfortably into his chest. He groaned at the familiar pain of the twisting of his back sending sharp pains through his body. He stretched out his limbs, but stopped when his foot brushed against something. Levi looked behind him to see Eren sleeping soundly, the raven's foot pressed against his calf. His heart lurched into his throat. Eren's skin was warm even with the delicate touch, and the close proximity brought a blush to Levi's cheeks. He was surprised his heart hadn't broken through his skin with how fast it was beating.

Delicately, Levi turned himself around with the little use of his hands he had at his disposal, careful to not disturb Eren. He was successful with his change of position, and rewarded with the sight of Eren's sleeping features. Eren looked at peace, the stray hairs falling against his tan temples. Levi huffed a happy sigh. He wanted to lay close to the brunet, their fingers intertwined, safe in a comfortable bed by a warm fire. His mind was muffled by those ideas and he smiled softly to himself.

He was a moron for coming up with these ideas that were highly unlikely, but he liked the thoughts nonetheless.

Rustling emitted near him, and Levi practically shot up, leaning against one elbow. To his relief, it was Marco sitting up. The freckled boy rubbed at his eyes before stretching his arms over his head. Marco turned to Levi and smiled. "Good morning," he said. "Good morning," Levi replied.

Marco stood and walked to their bags, which were lined up along a log. "Are you hungry?" the freckled boy questioned. Levi's stomach answered for him, growling obnoxiously. Marco let out a small chuckle at the sound.

After rummaging through the bag, Marco pulled out two small packets of food. He pulled out a handful of berries and handed them to Levi. Even with his bound wrists, he was able to -a bit messily- feed the berries to himself. Marco sat back down as he picked a blackberry from the bag.

The two sat in silence, eating their breakfast. By the time Levi was done, his hands were a mess and his stomach still growled. Marco smiled. "I'll make a fire soon to cook some meat," he explained, feeling hungry still as well.

"Does your leg still bother you?" Marco questioned. Levi looked to his bandaged calf. Blood no longer seeped through the cloth, which was good, but he still wasn't sure he could walk. "A bit," he answered. "There might be some herbs around here that can ease the pain and speed up the healing process," Marco explained, standing and walking to Levi.

"Are you able to stand?" Marco questioned, reaching out to help Levi up. He took his elbows to assist him onto his feet. Levi was able to rise but he felt a surge of pain shoot through his leg. He hissed out a breath, before he relieved weight from his leg. "Are you alright?" Marco questioned. The raven nodded quickly in response.

"The herbs shouldn't be too far away, don't hurt yourself walking there. Lean on me if it's painful," Marco explained, shifting his arms to the Cerulean's back. Levi nodded again, careful to not shift his weight back to his injury.

The two began strolling deeper into the woods -Levi limping more than the other- in search for the herb Marco was talking about. And as he said, it wasn't difficult to find. A bush of purple flowers was what Marco directed Levi towards. He helped the injured raven sit down before grabbing a handful of the flowers.

Levi watched Marco remove the stems from the purple plants and folded the petals into his hands. He turned to the Cerulean's leg, unwrapping the bandage that swaddled it. The gash didn't show any signs of improvement, but it didn't fester and the bleeding had stopped. Marco picked off more flowers from the bush. "We'll need a few more of these," he chuckled.

Marco gathered the petals, and began delicately placing them over Levi's wound. "These plants get their healing properties from the petals, and with the stems removed, the extract will cover your wound," he explained before wrapping Levi's leg in the bandage again.

"These work pretty fast, we'll have to remove them tonight before we sleep or the skin will grow over them," Marco explained with a small smile, "These things are practically magic."

"By tomorrow you should be walking rather than limping and in a few days there should only be a faint scar," he explained. Levi looked to the freckled Cerulean. "Thank you," he muttered. "It's no problem, I wish I would've had these at home so your leg wouldn't be hurting you so much today," Marco replied with a smile.

But his smile disappeared. "And I'm sorry about all this," he gestured to Levi's bound hands. The raven looked down to the rope as if he forgot it was there.

“And no matter what happens, I will not let Eren return you to that prison,” he explained. Levi looked back up to the freckled raven. “Then why am I still here?” he inquired. “First of all, you’re injured, you wouldn’t reach a few feet before Eren noticed you were missing. Secondly, I have a feeling Eren will let you go soon,” Marco answered with a small smile. “How are you so sure?” he questioned. “Trust me, I know my friend pretty well.”

Marco rose to his feet, brushing his pants off from any dirt. “But we should head back before Eren and Jean wake up.”

~

Eren stirred in his sleep, his eyes fluttered open, revealing the empty sky above him. He blinked a few times before huffing our a breath. Sitting up, he stretched his limbs above his head before scanning the scenery around him. Jean slept restlessly across from him, propped against a log. But Marco and Levi were gone.

The blond bolted up. "Jean!" he exclaimed, shaking his blond friend. He groaned, "What the fuck do you want, Jaeger?"

"Get up, your boyfriend and Levi are gone," he stated, vigorously shaking the sleepy Pristine. The blond rubbed at his eyes before sitting up. “Where’s Marco?” he asked, his eyebrows knitting together. “Get the hell up, they’re both gone,” Eren growled. Jean bolted up. “Where could they have gone?” he asked. “You’re asking me? Levi can barely walk by himself, I should be asking you where Marco took him,” Eren replied in an irritated tone. “If you’re implying that I had something to do with this, I didn’t,” Jean stated.

“I’m not implying anything, I’m asking where the hell-”

A twig snapped behind the brunet, making him whip his head around. Marco and Levi stood in the thicket. Marco supported Levi by holding one elbow and placing his hand on the small of his back. Eren felt a small surge of jealousy at their close proximity.

“Sorry if we worried you, I was able to find herbs that will speed up his leg’s healing process,” Marco explained with a friendly smile. But Eren was more concerned with where Marco’s hands were on Levi. He approached the two. “Can you walk on your own?” he asked, even though he knew the answer. Levi shook his head, “No.”

With more force than he intended to use, Eren removed Levi from Marco’s hold.

“We’ll eat and begin towards the kingdom again,” Eren explained as he helped Levi over to sit down by the charred wood. “Agreed,” Jean nodded. He knelt down to begin a fire again as Marco sat beside him with a rare smile for him that was rather smug than friendly.

Chapter Text

Over the next few days, Eren watched Levi closely. His leg was rapidly getting better with the herbs Marco found. In a couple days, he was walking with only a small limp. Eren stayed beside him, ready to catch the Cerulean if he were to stumble.

Marco would glance back at the two, giving Eren a knowing glance. But Eren paid it no mind. He was going through with this. The money was for his mother. A complete stranger that made his heart glow meant nothing. But even the thought of turning Levi over to the guards made his stomach flip inside out.

Why did it have to be him?

Soon Levi's limping became nonexistent; nonetheless, Eren stayed by his side instead of walking a distance in front of him. Levi barely paid this any mind, Eren didn't seem to be changing his thoughts on taking him back to the prison. But Eren's mind was whirling, a civil war surreptitiously being held in his judgement.

He looked to Levi's expression a million times, studying the way he looked at everything, like it was the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen and the last thing he'll ever see. He wanted to wipe that expression away and tell him everything would be alright. To see him like that hurt more than words could say.

No. He couldn't think this way. No, no, no. The money was for his mother, the most important person in his life. He could live without a gorgeous, blue-eyed, Cerulean, raven stranger, but he could not live without his mother. No matter how much his heart swelled when he looked to Levi, he wouldn't give in.

Nightfall came, but the group didn't stop. Eren was determined to return Levi to the prison by next week, but his feet still trudged along as if they were stuck. Levi was trudging along as they went too, but most likely because of the drowsiness overtaking him. Unconsciously, Eren rested his hand on Levi's lower back. "Are you getting tired? Do we need to stop for the night?" the brunet questioned.

Levi looked up to Eren with knitted brows, most likely from the unfamiliar concern the brunet displayed.

"Perhaps we should get some rest, we're still a few days journey from the kingdom," Jean suggested. Before anyone could respond, the blond sat down and began to stretch his legs. Eren found himself sitting down as well.

Marco began a fire for the group as Jean dug through their bags for some food. Levi sat back against a stump, bending his uninjured leg.

"How is your leg?"

And there was the same glance from Levi, confused by the brunet's concern. And it caused Eren's heart to seize up. "Better, I guess," he mumbled.

A crow of victory came from Marco once the fire finally ate at the wood. Jean, endeared by his boyfriend's excitement pressed a kiss to the freckled boy's cheek and bundled him up in his arms. Eren twitched at the sight. He desperately wanted to reach out for Levi, hold him close and kiss him. He wanted to sleep by the Cerulean's side. He desired a relationship with the raven.

But his mother needed the money. He could save his mother, who he knew and loved. Or he could choose a blue eyed Cerulean whom he barely knew. The choice seemed easy, but either way he went, he would feel sick to his stomach.

A bag of berries was thrown at the brunet, tearing him from his thoughts. "Eat up, share them with your bo-prisoner," Jean stuttered.

Levi's features drained at the word, and Eren unintentionally glared at his friend, who he knew meant no harm. Eren scooted close to the raven holding out a blueberry for him to eat. But Levi shook his head. "Not hungry."

Eren looked to the Cerulean like a stern parent. "Eat Levi, you shouldn't starve yourself," the brunet stated. The raven only shrugged. "It's better than going back."

And there went Eren's heart. If he could, he would have thrown the berries back at Jean and comfort the Cerulean with kisses. But he had to hinder his emotions. For his mother.

“Levi, you need to eat,” Eren demanded, shoving the berry towards his lips. The blue-eyed boy looked to Eren with furrowed brows before he took the berry in his mouth along with the tips of Eren’s fingers. He did not know if Levi meant to do this action, but it caused the warmth in Eren’s chest to travel throughout his entire body.

Why did it have to be him?

When Eren slightly turned to feed himself, Marco and Jean were staring at them both with a smug smile making them look like a couple of evil-planning twins. “What?” Eren exclaimed, even though he knew why they looked at him that way. But in response they shrugged and continued eating.

Eren looked back to Levi with another berry between his fingers. The raven had a pouted lip, but it did not look exaggerated. A smear of blueberry stained his pink and thin lips, something the brunet wanted to lick up. But he stayed still, almost shaking from the effort. But Levi did not seem to notice as he ate the second berry from Eren’s fingers.

Eren was completely and utterly fucked. His previous decision was Sisyphean. But his new choice could risk his mother's life.

~

Eren tugged at Levi's restraints, bringing the raven away from the fire and his sleeping friends.

"Where are we going?" Levi asked with a hint of worry. Eren didn't answer, leading the boy deeper into the woods. Levi yanked at the rope he was bound to, trying to receive Eren's attention, but he was only jerked forward by the Pristine.

The brunet stopped when the glow of the fire became a small flicker like a candle in the wind. They were surrounded by darkness, the full moon making their world blue.

Levi was pushed against a tree. Eren's hand pressed against the bark next to the raven's head, bringing his body extremely close to the other's. Levi's breathing hitched as he eyed the plump lips in front of him. Their hearts hammered against their chests.

Eren looked to Levi's clothed torso. A glowing heart is too dim to seep through clothing, he would have to uncover the boy's chest. Without a word, he untied the strings holding Levi's shirt together. "What are you doing?" the raven questioned. Eren ignored his inquiry as he revealed the boy's bare torso.

A red light glowed beneath his skin, creating a silhouette for his bones. With every beat of his heart, the light spread in his chest. Eren let out a little laugh as he stared at the warm illumination. He leaned back, keeping one hand against the tree, and pulled his shirt up to show his own glowing heart to Levi.

The raven let out a shaky breath at the sight, his features decorated by Eren's red light. He pressed his bound hands to Eren's chest, sighing at the warm feeling of the heart beating for him. His chin was lifted until Eren and him gazed into each other's eyes.

His lips were caught between Eren's. He moaned against the other's mouth, their tongues rolling with one another. Levi's cheeks were enveloped by Eren's hands, pushing their lips together more.

Eren pulled away to slip his shirt off, the glow of his heart chasing away the shadows gifted to them by the night. He brought their lips together again, careful to not bite too hard on Levi's mouth. His fangs nipped at the raven's bottom lip, causing him to gasp, sending his hot breath into Eren's mouth.

They devoured one another, taking turns dominating the other's mouth. It was bliss. The way Eren's lips felt against the Cerulean's felt amazing, yet torturous. Torturous because he couldn't get any closer to the Pristine, Eren was holding onto him like he was his life source. Although getting rid of the rope around Levi's wrists could solve the problem. It would allow him to dig his nails into the other's muscular back.

He needed to get his wrists free.

Levi whined, hoping it would be a signal for Eren to remove the bonds. But Eren was drenched in lust. Levi's pants were undone by Eren's will, which he did not complain about in the slightest.

"On the ground, on your hands and knees," Eren demanded. And it made Levi's knees go weak. If he had not have scurried to the position, he would have fell.

Eren's shadow was provided by the moonlight, and he watched him rip off his shirt and bend down behind the raven.

There was not much warning before Levi felt a burning intrusion in his entrance. It was Eren's finger, he could feel the brunet's nail along his wall, scratching at his insides. And Levi was already drooling.

Lines of kisses were pressed up the Cerulean's spine as Eren rolled up his shirt, sending waves of heat to crawl up his back. He shuddered. And it only got better when Eren sucked at his pale skin.

A second finger joined the first, searching for something. And when Eren's digits found it, Levi sang. He could feel Eren smile against his spine.

A third finger joins the other two, and Levi was writhing under his touch.

And a whine escaped his lips when Eren's fingers left him empty.

Eren tugged at the rope binding Levi's wrists together. "Should I untie you?" he questioned huskily in the Cerulean's ear. "Please," Levi shuddered. Eren licked the beginning of his jaw. "Are you going to run away if I do?" he asked, rolling his hips, his cock rubbing past Levi’s entrance. "Depends, are you going to hand me over to the royal guards?" Levi responded, moaning quietly from the brunet's action. "Perhaps not, I don't want a pretty face like your's to leave my sights," the Chelicera responded.

He swiftly rolled the boy over, so Levi was straddling Eren's hips. The brunet guided his Cerulean's hips to slide down his shaft. Levi let out a long moan, throwing his head back. Eren took the rope tethering Levi's hands together between his teeth, and tore the fibers apart.

Levi quickly unwound the rope from his wrists, tossing it aside, and bent over to bring his lips together with Eren's. His hands dug at the brunet, not capable of getting enough of his touch as Eren fucked him. Levi scratched at the Pristine’s skin, leaving marks that claimed he was Levi’s. Lust filled his lungs as Eren pounded into that sweet spot that had him mewling with pleasure. If he was not busy kissing Eren, Levi was sure he would have stirred Jean and Marco from their slumber.

Everything felt right. The steady and rough pound of Eren’s hips against his own, the taste of the Pristine, the warmth enveloping him, it was all so perfect. And he was going to stay by Eren’s side. He would no longer be going back to the kingdom’s dungeons. His fate had changed in the blink of an eye.

And he was thankful for it.

And he was snapped away from his thoughts with a blissful tingling of his nerves from Eren’s cock slamming into him consistently. Levi was drooling against the brunet’s chest. The brunet was forceful—in the best way possible—and demanding as his fangs nicked at the raven’s skin, leaving his skin red and purple. And Levi was proud to display the colors.

It felt like a blissful eternity of Eren thrusting into him and biting every inch of within his reach, and Levi drooling senselessly, his mind clouded with lust. And when it ended, Levi practically wrapped himself around the brunet, as his release spread against their chests, and Eren’s warm liquid filled his insides.

And he did not let go afterwards. Even as Eren removes himself from the Cerulean’s entrance, Levi stayed latched onto him. The brunet did not protest. He simply held Levi in his arms as he shuffled around to comfortably lay against a tree without walking the distance back to Marco and Jean, and bundled the two in Levi’s cloak.

Levi sighed contently. He was free, he could become familiar with the atmosphere instead of saying goodbye to it, and he was with his soulmate. And he happily drifted off to sleep, watching Eren’s glowing heart appear and disappear over and over again.

He was finally happy.