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"With this ring, I ask you to be mine. "

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Once your pen touches the sheet of paper you can't take it back, black ink seeps straight into the white surface, staining its innocence. One long brush of pen to the left..one short to the right, a small touch of your pen tip somewhere in the middle, you twist and relax your wrist for the best quality. Clean and faultless work, a piece of art. But only if the artist is not afraid to get his hands a little tainted.


After closing his sketch book Levi looks up to his lovely muse, a beautiful butterfly with wide ocean green colored wings and black strict edging. This is the only thing that makes him feel at ease in this gloomy and tedious world. Giving the poor insect a warm smile he places his sketch book and his pen neatly down into the drawer. Then reaches out and opens the window, lowering his gaze down to imprisoned innocence, for a few short moments, Levi admires how fragile yet mesmerizing the little being really is and finally lifts the caging glass from around it, setting the beautiful creature free. With a deep breath, Levi watches how those wide ocean green colored wings flutters trough his room air, trough the window and into the sullen and grim city.

******

- Ten minutes until Ackerman and Smith wedding rehearsal! - announced town crier waving his old bell in the air, letting the whole town know about the upcoming event. With that, Levi looks down trough his window and sighs after noticing that his carriage has arrived. It didn't look fancy, one horse and small cabin attached to it. With one big fish figure on top as a piece of decoration and recognition to their family name because Kenny Ackerman was town's new prosperous business man.

- It's a beautiful day! - was the first thing Kuchel said after opening the front door and heading outside to greet the carriage.

- It's a rather nice day.. - agreed Kenny, fallowing Kuchel outside, he looked at his sister after looking around with a pleased expression, placing her topcoat on her shoulders. But before he was able to say anything to his sister she added:

- A day to a glorious wedding!- while folding her fan out and softly waving it in the air, then turning to look at her brother with a wide and happy smile.

- A rehearsal my dear. Nothing new will happen that we don't really know. -Kenny sighs fixing his over excited sister and smiles back at her, softly taking her hand and leading her to the carriage like a true gentleman he is. Letting his sister get in first, Kenny looked at the front door waiting for his nephew to come out.

- Where is Levi? - asked Kuchel poking her head out the carriage door and looking at her brother a little confused, yet still excited, like a child who sends his letter with wishes to Santa.

No-one noticed a tall and well build dark haired man standing just beside the building corner listening to everything with a fishy and no-good promising grin.

******

- It's a terrible day.. - exclaimed Petra while looking at her husband. Strawbery color haired woman frowns slightly while twisting her hair lock around her finger. Obviously not happy about today's event.

- Oh, It can't be that way. - counters Erwin and sighs, checking the time on his pocket watch and meeting his wife's eyes. The crease between his thick eyebrows growing, those Akerman's better not be late, he really despises people who are not following simple rules, like, to arrive on time.

- It's a terrible day for the wedding. - Petra hisses at Erwin in irritation to get her point trough. She sighs and steps closer the door to walk out of their room.

- It's a sad state of affairs. - said Erwin fallowing Petra with his eyes, not wishing to fight his moody wife. He steps closer and places a hand on her shoulder to calm her down a little. But his hand gets shoved off.

- Which has let us to this ominous wedding. - stated Petra and gave her husband an epmty look before leaving the room and going to her daughter to see if Krista is ready to greet her future husband and his family.

******

- Oh, Ymir.. - sighed Krista while her loyal maid tightened her corset. - What if Levi and I...don't like each other..? - questioned the young girl softly nibbling her lower lip and looking into the mirror, her soft light blond colored hair gently falling over her cheeks, framing her worried face. She's going to get married to a complete stranger, how can she ever be okay with that.

- hah! As if that has anything to do with marriage. - said Petra after overhearing what the young girl has said to her maid. - Do you suppose, your father and I like each other? - asked Petra with that empty expression, giving Krista 'that' parent look.

- Surely you must...a little... - answered Krista, wondering, how could her parents even have her if not...she glanced at her father who was checking his watch again, seems like he's not even interested in this conversation. But after Kristas words even he lifted his head up to look at his wife and then they both in unision as if they practiced this deadpanned - Of course not! -

- Ymir! Get her corset laced properly, I still hear her speak without gasping. - was said before Kristas parents left the room and went downstairs to get ready to greet the Ackermans.

******

Levi was sitting in front of his mom and uncle in that small carriage cabin, feeling how an unpleasant knot starts to tie in his stomach. Wearing his indifferent expression to hide his nervousness and unsatisfaction to this decision his family had made.

- You certainly are the winner this time Levi. - said Kenny while smirking at his obviously nervous nephew. Even if he tries to hide it under that cold stone face and deadly glare, Kenny can see trough it. - All you have to do honey is breathe. - tried to calm Kuchel. Levi didnt even knew anymore, sometimes they seem great and sometimes he wishes they would just disapear somewhere. - She's a really pretty girl. You have nothing to worry about. - added Kenny to Kuchels sentence. And Levi knew that they are right, that this girl is probably nice. But he doesn't even know her name, what if shes just a brat.

- But I never even spoken to her. -sighed Levi and before any of his family memeber could answer the carriage stoped. And soon Levi found himself standing in front of the Smiths residence.

*****

- Marriage is a partnership. We'll be a perfect example to our daughter. Thanks to her our finances will go up once again, that's why everything must go according to plan. - stated Erwin to his wife, while going down the stairs and stopping just at the botom of them. Letting his butler open the door, one last time Erwin checks the time, satisfied that Ackermans arrived just in time.

Erwin and Petra watches how Kuchel and Kenny enter trough the door, accompanied by Kuchels son Levi. Short but well build boy, raven black hair with a neat undercut, wearing a good and well fiting black suit with white cravat on his neck.

When Ackermans gets close enough butler announces their arrival to the owners of the residence.

-Lord and Lady Smith. - while elegantly showing to Erwin and Petra then his hand moves towards Kuchel and Kenny - Mister and Missis Ackerman. -

- Why you must be Miss. Historia. - Kenny steps closer and softly bows in polite greetment to Petra. - I must say, you look a day over twenty. - Kenny tries to compliment the strawberry haired woman but Kuchel elbows his side as a sign to drop it

-Smile, darling. Smile. - whispered Petra to Erwin who forced a smile and cleared his trout while focusing on his tensed lips to keep the fake smile on.
- Well hello. What a pleasure, welcome to our home. - was said as a greeting, though coldness seeping in every word that comes out of Erwin lips.

- Thank you, thank you. - cheerful as ever Kuchel took her brothers elbow and fixed her fan softly folding and unfolding it with her fingertips.

- We'll be taking tea in the west drawing room. - said Petra and walked her guest towards the said room.

Everyone completely forgetting the existence of Levi. That was what the boy wanted, to attract as less attention as possible. And while those four people made their way to get their tea while chit chatting Levi just sighed and decided to drag himself after them, what else could he do here.
That's when he came up to a piano, accidentally bumping into it and placing a finger on the keyboard got his full attention on the item. He waited while the door behind his parents closed and allowed himself to play a few notes, satisfied with the way sounds echoed in the room Levi sat down. And slowly started playing, forgeting about his surroundings and letting his music fill the room.
Krista was sitting in her room and finishing up with her hair - last touch before coming out to show herself to her future husband. That's when she heard the soft but heart-clenching melody. She stood up slowly and made her way down the halls to where the sound was coming from. She reached the stairs and peeked trough corner to see who is the one that plays this mesmerizing tune. And she can't hold herself back from making her way down the stairs and to the unknown man beside the grand piano. Walking up to him and actually startling him strong enough to have him jump off the chair knocking it down.

- Do forgive me. - was all Levi said after straightening himself and placing the chair back up..his uninterested expression and death glare burning into the female in front of him.

- You are really talented. - Krista praised him and softly folded her hands behind her, standing there in front of this stranger - you play beutifuly. - she added while the man in front of her was picking up the chair that he knocked off.

- I apologize, Miss. Smith, how rude of me, thank you. - says Levi making his glare intensify and the girl stifens at it. Levi curses silently under his breath. Uncomfortable silence starts forming between the two. But suddenly Krista speks up saving both from the unessesary acwardness.

- Mother never lets me near the piano music is inproriate for young lady to passionate, she says. - Krista eyed Levi, feeling a little uncofortable under that intense glare.

- If I may ask, Miss. Smith, where is your chaperone? - Asks Levi while softly fixing his jacket and straightening its edges on his chest, he never knew where to put his hands when he gets nervous. And the longer he stands in front of this girl, the less he wants tomorow to come. This is not for him, not this kind of life. 

- P-perhaps, in wiev of the circumstances, you could call me Krista. - She says while making small steps closer Levi, her hands now are in front of her long gown and her big blue eyes stares right at Levi, she's just few inches smaller than Levi himself is.

- Right. Krista. - Levi nods monotone and cold, he then turns his gaze to the side...he let his hands down his sides and even his knuckles went white, gulps his saliva, and glances at the female in front of him, she's not bad, but he just can't seem to relax and be himself in front of her. To his luck, girl catched his eyes and steped even closer.

- Yes, levi? - asked the girl making Levi feel even more cornered he softly reached up for his cravat and gently gripped on it as of it could actually give him strength to withstand this.

- Tomorrow we are to be....married. - he gulps hard and looks down at his own shoes, somehow he can't look at his future wife. He feels like a bird that's being forced into a cage.

- Married, right. - Krista smiled agreeing to the statement the boy anounced. She slowly sat down onto that piano chair. - Since I was a child I always dreamed about my wedding day, that I'd be married to someone I was deeply in love with. Someone I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. - Said Krista with a little dreemy expression on her face while ghosting her fingertips over the while keys of piano.
- silly isn't it? - she chuckles and looks at Levi who nods and just deadpans, - Yes, silly. - making the awkward silence fall over them once again.

-What impropriety is this?! - came the outraged voice of Petra, who came looking for the soon-to-be newlyweds. - You shouldn't be alone together! Its one minute before five, and you're not at rehearsal! Pastor Pixis is waiting! - said obviously irritated woman and turned around adding, - come at once. - making her way down the hall, Levi and Krista fallowing in her footsteps.

 

****** Three hours later ******


- Mister Ackerman, from the beginning. Again. - said Pastor Pixis, deeply annoyed by the way this rehearsal is going.
- ....with this hand I will lift your sorrows, your cup will never be empty, for I will be your wine, with this candle I will light your way in darkness, with this ring I ask you to be mine. -repeats and takes a deep breath. Looks at Levi and narrows his eyes at the stone-faced boy. - lets try that again. -


- Yes sir. - Levi rolls his eyes and takes a deep breath, lifts the candle up that he was holding in his hands and looks at Krista. - With this candle. - says and lowers his candle to the already burning one, trying to catch the fire, but it just doenst work, tries it a few times - nothing, this whole thing just makes him more frustrated. -with this candle... - he repeats and tries to light his candle up again, but nothing happens. -this candle...- whispers more to himself now and points his candle back to the already burning one but uses to much strength and the other fire disappears as well. He hears Kenny saying - want me to get up there and get it done for you? - at this Levi furrows his brows, getting pissed, all this is becoming a huge circus.


- continue, lets just pick it up at the candle bit.- says the pastor, already tired of Levi failing this over and over again. when suddenly the door bell rings, making his eye twitch, Erwin just sends his butler to open the door. Who fastly comes back with a visit card of a Lord Nile Dok.


- I haven't heard for dates apparently, I'm a day early for the ceremony. - says the man that just came with the name Nile Dok. Erwin eyes him and then looks at his wife by turning his head ad immediately meeting Petras eyes with the same questioning look. She takes the small card from Erwins hands and thinks deeply.


- Is he from your side of the family? - asks Erwin while keeping his eyes on the red haired woman. -I can't recall. - she shrugs and sighs. She softly claps her hands and addresses her butler. - Thomas, a seat for Lord Dok. -


- Do carry on. - says the new man while sitting down and getting himself comfortable. Levi narrows his eyes shooting dagers to this Lord  he himself is alreday tired of all this.


- Lets try it again. Shal we Mister Ackerman? - says the pastor getting Levi and Krista attention back on the rehearsal. Levi just sighs and nods, he doesn't even notice how Krista leans closer with her candle lighting his. Then he lifts his left hand and looks at the pastor. Starting his speech - With this hand- gets cut off by a loud thump to the ground by Pastors foot.


- Right! - snaps Pixis and Levi even jumps a little fastly changing his hands, lifting his right one and holding the candle in the left one. Looks at Krista and clears his trout, taking her hand and stepping closer the table.


-With this hand I... - gets cut but this time by himself, because he manages to bump into the table, he had to take three steps and stop, he took four and hit the table. Making pastor loose his patience and shout out:
- Three steps! three!! can you not count? do you not wish to be Married Mister Ackerman?! - Levi stays silent because his mouth might betray him if he opens it, piercing Pixis with the deadliest glare he can manage he gives this pastor a go-ahead on his little speech.
- Have you even remembered to bring the ring? - Pixis sighs loudly already giving up on this matter. At this Levi answers.


- Yes, of course. - he slips his hand into his inner jacket pocket and pulls out a golden band holding it in between his fingers, but of course, since today is the happiest day in Levis life, ring has to slip out of his hold ad fall onto the ground, causing an uproar in the room.

- The ring...! -


- He dropped the ring!?-


- This boy doesnt want to get married!! - with all the commotion Levi went after the ring and pulled it out from under Petras gown while doing so he dropped his candle, which surprisingly was burning, and Petras Gown edge got on fire making everyone attention go only to the burning dress.

Levi had enough, using this change he runs out fleeing the house and out of the city.