In the mountains, a woman whistled while waiting for the bread in her oven to rise.
In the fields, a man picked weeds while his son washed their horses.
In the remains of the city, some people still cowered in fear, unable to forget to faces of the monsters that ate their loved ones.
In the new cemetery, a couple cried at their daughter's grave remembering how brave she was.
At the ocean's shore, two boys stared in awe as seagulls screamed over their heads.
These two boys had fought for humanity. They are the reason the people in the mountains, fields, and city were still safe and sound. Their names are Eren, and Armin Jeager.
Eren turned his head clockwise when he noticed the teary-eyed blonde boy next to him wipe his face with his shirt sleeve.
"What's wrong, Armin..?" Eren asked nervously, turning his body to face Armin. "Do you not like it?" He asked this with a trembling voice. He feared that he was not able to give his lover what he most wanted, this being the magnificent sight they both always dreamed of. Was he not satisfied with it? Was it not what he had imagined, and most desired?
"Eren," Armin turned to look him in the eyes. "I know what you're thinking."
This didn't startle Eren. Armin always had known what he was thinking. Weather he was thinking about his mother, or friends who died in battle, Armin always seemed to know which way was best to comfort him, saying something such as "She would be proud of you, you know." or "Humanity wouldn't of been restored if it weren't for their sacrifices. I think they would be happy knowing that." And he even knew the small stuff that had barely crossed his Erens mind, such as "I wonder what's for dinner." or "Will Armin kiss me goodbye..?" Because he would answer immediately with something like "Miso Soup and Bread" or he would kiss him a few seconds later. Either Eren was an open book, or Armin could read his mind.
"And you're wrong." Armin had tears falling down his cheeks once more, but he didn't care enough to wipe them away. He took a few steps towards Eren, breaking the small distance between them, and pulled him into a hug. "This is more perfect than I could of thought, and It's even more beautiful than in the pictures I've seen." Eren smiled and hugged Armin tighter.
Eren pulled away from the hug, but kept his hands firm on Armins shoulders. "Why are you crying then?" He was smiling softly and small, trying to appear reassuring.
Armin chuckled lightly as he wiped his tears away. "Mostly out of happiness." He turned his head for a quick glance at the body of water to his right, before meeting with Eren's eyes again. "Also, because I won't get to see this," He gestured to the ocean, turning his face once more. "Every day..."
"Maybe you can!" Eren squeezed Armins shoulders slightly, trying to gain the boys attention. Armin seemed startled, and his tears stopped falling as he waited for an explanation. "We can build house near here. Somewhere where you can open a window and see the ocean anytime you want to!" Armins eyes lit up, bringing joy to Eren. He quickly hugged Eren again, and they stayed there for awhile, content in each others arms listening and smelling the water that was licking the sand so close to where they stood.
For a few days all they did was search for a good spot, swim, find food, search, sleep under the stars, then repeat. Until finally, they found the perfect spot. A hill which stood between the ocean and a forest. It took awhile for them to build a house, and even longer for them to make sure it was up to their expectations. They lived there for years in peace and comfort. Until one day, a monster quite different than a Titan caught hold of Armin . . .
Eren was scrubbing clothes and handing them to Armin, who would in turn hang them on a clothesline to dry.
First, it was only a sneeze, followed by a "gesundheit." from Eren.
Next, it was a cough, followed by an "are you okay?" from the same boy.
Soon after, Armin was kneeling on the ground, covering his mouth with his hands as the coughing continued.
"Armin!" A hand was placed on the blonde boys back. "What's wrong? Are you sick?"
"No, no.." Armin wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. "It's nothing, I'm probably fine." He stood up from the ground and turned to walk into their house, fully aware that Eren hadn't, and wouldn't believe him.
"You are not okay." Eren grabbed Armins wrist and turned him around gently. "You have to be- wait, Armin. There's blood on your hands!" Armin quickly clenched his hands into fists, covering the smeared blood.
"I'll go wash up and then start cooking us some food. Would you mind finishing the laundry without me?" Armin smiled at Eren sweetly trying to reassure him, although Eren couldn't miss how Armins eyes looked raw and watery.
"...Fine." Eren let go of his wrist, telling himself to trust Armin. If he says he's gonna be okay, he's gonna be okay... Eren lied to himself.
A few few seconds after the door had closed between them, Armin broke into yet another coughing fit. He later washed the blood off his hands and his sleeves hoping Eren wouldn't notice, but he knew he wouldn't be able to hide it from him for long.
Armin kept his sickness hidden from Eren longer than he thought he would be able to. He would excuse himself to the bathroom the second he felt that he would start coughing, and he would wash his blood splattered clothes in secret before it would set into stains. Armin knew very well that he was sick, but he also knew that there was no way for it to be helped. If Eren knew he was as sick as he was, he would spend all his time worrying about him. Armin wanted nothing more than to keep Eren happy, even if it meant keeping some secrets.
After a while it wasn't just bloody coughing fits and sneezing anymore. Armin was getting weaker and weaker as the illness progressed. Not only physically, but mentally as well. He could barely stand on his own two feet, and he wasn't as sharp as he used to be, taking a while to respond to even the simplest questions. It was when he collapsed in their kitchen than Eren realized the severity of what Armin was hiding.
Where.. Where am I? Armin was in a daze. All he could register was that he was laying somewhere soft, warm, and comfortable. He opened his eyes lazily, but everything was out of focus.
He recognized that voice. It was Erens. Everything in Armins vision slowly focused as his thoughts became more coherent. He was laying in bed, wrapped up in blankets and propped up with two pillows with the love of his life was sitting to his right.
"How are you feeling?"
"Better than I had been..."
"How long have you been hiding this...?" Eren's voice sounded hurt and angry. Hurt that Armin never told him, and anger at himself for never noticing.
"Since the first time..." Amrins voice was hazy. "when we were doing laundry..." He could barely hear Eren mumbling to himself about how he should've known something was wrong. "I know that.. losing Mikasa.. as well as everyone else.. put quite a toll on us.. especially you.. I just didn't want you.. to worry about me.. as well.."
"But if you don't tell me these things how can you expect me to help you?!" Armin was silent. "You're going to be okay, though, right? We can try to find a doctor!" Eren strained his voice.
"I don't think that... its worth it." Armin kept talking between breaths as if he was drifting in and out of slumber.
"What do you mean? Of course you're worth it!"
"For all we know... All the doctors already left.. what remains of the town."
"So we'll go out there and we'll find them."
"Eren," Armin turned his head to him and laughed lightly. "Where would we even start to look?... The world.. could be larger than we think.. It will be too late anyway.'
How can he be smiling? Eren put his hands to his face trying to hold in tears.
"Please don't cry, Eren... If you cry, I'll cry."
Eren took his head out of his hands and looked at Armin, who was still strangely smiling "Armin.." Eren took Armins hand in his own. "We'll get you through this, I swear it on my life." Armin closed his eyes and fell asleep.
After that, things seemed to return to normal. Armin seemed more in tune with his thoughts, but Eren still wouldn't let him move too much. Eren did all the chores that Armin usually did, and if he walked into a room and saw Armin standing up he would quickly sit him down telling him to save his strength. It seemed that with every passing day Armin was getting worse.
The monsterish illness moved slowly, but eventually it reached its destination. It was almost a year since Eren found out, and 3 years since it had started. Armin was laying in a bed that Eren had prepared.
What if this is the last time I ever hear him breathing, or see him open his eyes.. Eren had given his heart to Armin and when he passed away, Eren wouldn't know what to do. He wouldn't know how to smile, he wouldn't remember laughter, and he would never, ever love again. After all, Armin was all he had left, and now it seemed he was about to lose him, too.
He knew the pain of losing someone so well that it now was a familiarity to him. All the deaths he knew happened at hand of the titans. Eren carried the burden of these deaths, knowing that he could of helped, and might of been able to even save their lives. Eren would have to watch Armin slowly, slowly, dying, knowing he couldn't help, even if he wanted to. That was the worst feeling he ever knew. Even though the titans were gone, Eren forgot that other monsters lived in the world, and in all, still blamed himself for being unable to do anything to prevent it
"Eren, I don't.. I don't think I have much time." Armin was very quiet, eyes closed, breathing shallowly.
Eren couldn't talk at first. He knew that if he did, his words would only come out as choked sobs. "Armin I want you to know I love you." He set his hand on top of Armins lovingly. He could feel his pulse slowing down.
"I know, Eren. I love you, too..." He coughed one last time. "When I'm gone, just remember... that.." He stopped talking then, and Eren could no longer feel his heart beating through his fragile hand.
He was gone.
Eren dragged the lifeless hand into the air and pressed his lips against the fingers.
He felt empty inside, and for the first time since he knew Armin was sick, tears refused to flow. He simply sat there silently, thinking nothing, and feeling nothing, but utter numbness. If he felt anything but numbness, the pain would surely be enough to kill him.
All happiness drained away that day, and it seemed there was no way to ever get it back. Everything seemed to dull down, and he could no longer find himself smiling at the things that he used to. Not when flowers bloomed, or when the birds whistled, not even when the sun shined.
Even the ocean seemed to have lost it's beauty.