Chapter 7: Do As You Are Told


A week had passed since these events. A week it had been since Petra saw anything of Levi. Shortly after arriving home, he ventured out on business again, not a word on where he was going or how long he would be away this time. In fact, he did not utter a single thing to Petra, and did not write to her, let alone write to Hanji so that she might prepare for his return.

The days became painful and depressing. Though, there was no word spoken of the fire, and Petra had not heard the awful cackling from the third floor in a week; it still felt empty and sad. She spent her days tutoring Mikasa, getting to know the servants, and having tea with Hanji.

She found that Hanji was an eccentric of sorts, who had many interests regarding science, mythology, and symbolism. Although they were topics Petra was not greatly familiar with, she admired Hanji's individualism and intelligence. Having lived such a boring, closed-off life gave Petra a deep need to study people like Levi and Hanji, who were not slaves to their lives, but instead piloted their own way through everything.

Even her small encounters with Isabel confirmed her suspicious thoughts: no. She was not the culprit. Not only did the young red haired girl seem to often be in good spirits (when she wasn't drunk), but her laugh... even the drunken laugh... it was nothing like what she heard. It was not that ghostly cackle that echoed through the cold, empty halls.

''Oh, it's from Levi,'' Hanji said across from Petra, picking up a letter one of the servants had brought in. The fire crackled and Petra sipped the last of her tea, eyes popping wide.

''What does it say?''

''Well! It says here, he will be returning tonight and bringing guests,''

''Guests?''

''Looks like we'll be busy this evening, his guests are requesting a party,''

''A party!? But I thought you said he hates them,''

''He does. That must be the Lady Brzenska urging him to,''

''Brzenska... I've heard this name before,''

''You have?''

''Yes... who is she?''

''The honourable Lady Rico Brzenska of Wieliczka. An acquaintance of Levi's from Poland,'' Hanji explained. ''One of the wealthiest women he has acquainted - I imagine that's why they are, anyway,''

''For her money? But the Ackermans are very wealthy themselves, why would they need-''

''Eh, not because Levi needs money. It's because it looks good on paper, you know? For reputation purposes... if Levi marries an equally rich woman then-''

''They will marry?'' Petra stopped herself, a little embarrassed by the interruption as she seemed a bit too concerned with her benefactor's personal affairs once again.

''Well...'' Hanji trailed off. ''I don't know, honestly. He has only ever spoke well of her. I suppose he should considering they are not only acquainted, but also business partners. They fund many charitable causes abroad.''

Petra looked toward the fire, somewhat disappointed, though she wasn't sure why.

''I see.''

Hanji sipped the last of her own tea, then began brushing her working trousers down as she sat up. ''Come on, Petra, help me to set the dinner table. We will have to let everyone in the castle know of the master's return.''


As the sun began to set, several horses made their up the pathway to Trost, appearing from the gigantic trees like horsemen of the night. Petra exited the castle along with Hanji, Mikasa and the other servants to greet Mr Ackerman's return and Miss Brzenska's arrival, as well as the other guests that had been brought along. Petra assumed they must all be quite wealthy and charitable toward many good causes. Perhaps, she wondered, Lady Brzenska was a much more kind woman - more kind than Levi. Maybe she influenced him to do good with his money and make smart investments.

A bitter feeling gnawed at her gut again, and she tried to suppress the unhappy expression on her face as they approached candlelight. She straightened her posture and put on that same smile. The one that always got her out of trouble back at Hermina.

''Welcome home, Levi!'' Hanji called as his horse came to a halt. He did not say a word, face completely deadpan as it usually was. The other horses came to a stop also, Jean walking over to tend to them and bring them around to the stables. Levi offered his hand to the white horse next to his, a gloved hand taking it, using Levi's to help a well dressed woman come down from the white mare. Petra watched through her eyelashes as he offered his arm in the most gentlemanly fashion, the well dressed woman taking it.

So this must be Lady Rico...

She studied her for a moment. The woman was very small and petite, much like Petra. Her hair short, white, and well groomed, reflecting like snow under the twilight sky. Her eyes darted lazily around her, falling upon each servant with distaste, and looking Petra up and down as though she was also studying her.

Petra noticed her eyes were much like Levi's, though shielded with a pair of spectacles, they had that same unamused, prideful expression that - for some reason - gave Petra the urge to thump her fist to her heart and reply 'Yes, Ma'am!' to anything she said.


The guests quickly settled amongst the home, their expensive gowns and suits brightening the usually gloomy halls. Petra watched on from the staircase down at their rosy cheeks and wine drunk giggles.

Hanji was amongst them, stood next to Levi and Rico, chatting away. Rico had her nose up in the air, hands folded and eyes scowling. Levi seemed to be whispering something to Hanji, and Petra shyly looked away when their eyes briefly met.

In her peripheral, Hanji looked up also, just for a moment. She nodded excitedly, then began making her way over to Petra. Petra gripped the wooden bannister tightly, worried she was going to be scolded for watching on at a party she had no business being near. After all, she was just a poor governess, not a woman of wealth or nobility.

Surprisingly, Hanji ushered Petra down the stairs, holding her gently.

''Levi said you are to join us! How exciting. Have you ever been to a party like this, Petra?''

''N-No no, I really can't, Hanji. He was only saying it out of politeness, I'm sure,'' she cried. ''I don't belong here.''

''Nonsense! He said himself to me:'' her voice lowered darkly, imitating Levi, ''If she refuses, I will drag her here myself,''

Petra winced. Maybe it was easier to attend this way. It did sound a bit embarrassing for him to forcibly drag and yell at her in front of all of these guests. It wouldn't make much of a good impression on either of them, as well.

Walking through the crowd of guests already felt alien. In all honesty, she found them to be pigs and hardly relatable. Such charitable people yet looked at and treated others with such little respect, it was hard to watch. It especially disgusted her the way Rico would blatantly ignore - not only the servants - but other members of the party that she considered less than her.

''Ah there she is.'' Rico triumphantly spoke. Her voice was low and strong. She spoke like a Queen. ''The governess. I wonder if you're any good. I've had at least half a dozen of you - always useless. Completely.''

''Me too!'' a woman giggled from the side, and other ladies laughed along also.

''I used to terrorise mine until she quit!''

''Hahahahahah!''

''I suppose we're going to talk only of governess' now, are we? How about I play a song on the piano instead?'' Rico offered, hands on her hips. She marched toward the instrument to play. The music was repetitive, but the Lady was clearly skilled. She definitely played better than Petra could. She sighed with relief as the attention faded away from herself, and all eyes fell upon the true star as she delighted them with music.

Quietly, Petra slipped out of the party room, walking slowly so as to not make a sound. Thankfully, no one seemed to notice as she gently shut the door behind her, taking a deep breath of cool air. It was awfully smoky inside of that room - not to mention tense and uncomfortable, thanks to the guests. Her back turned to the door, her hands laying on top of the bannister, ready to head back upstairs.

''Tch.''

Petra looked up, startled. Turning around, she was met with a familiar pale face.

''Why didn't you greet me?'' Levi asked.

''I didn't wish to disturb you.'' Petra answered.

''And what have you been doing during my absence?''

''Nothing in particular. Teaching Mikasa, of course.''

''You look a great deal smaller than usual, almost malnourished. What's the matter?''

''Nothing is the matter, sir.''

''Catch a cold? Saw a ghost? Forget to shit?''

She winced at his humour. ''No, sir.''

''You look depressed.''

''I'm not depressed.''

''As though any moment you will burst into tears.''

''Are you trying to make me cry, Levi?''

He raised an eyebrow. ''Maybe it will do the trick. Tell me what's the matter with you.''

When she didn't reply, he continued.

''I want you in the drawing room with me every day as long as I am here,'' he ordered. ''You don't abandon guests so early. What kind of host are you?''

''But I am not the host,''

''This is your house as well, is it not?''

She looked at him, confused.

He edged her, eyes stern. ''Is it? Do you live here, or should I throw you out?''

She stifled a laugh. ''I suppose you have a point,''

''Mhm.''

Before either of them could say another word, there was a knock. It was a strange and familiar knocking from the entrance, though neither had heard the sounds of horses approaching. It couldn't have been Jean, who usually entered through the kitchen from the stables in the back.

Mina hurried down the hall, glancing the pair on the staircase as she prepared to answer.

''Hello?''

Levi and Petra waited, both seemingly uninterested in the sounds of the rich men and women in the party room laughing and cheering, clinking their glasses.

''Ah...'' Mina said finally, closing the door slightly. She rushed over to the staircase, standing before Levi. ''Mr Ackerman, sir, it's a visitor for you.''

''Who is it? What does he want?''

''It's a tall gentleman with blonde hair, says his name is Smith. He's travelled all the way from Bohemia to speak with you, and says it is urgent,''

''Smith?'' Levi's eyes widened, a frown line appearing between them. ''Erwin... Let him in immediately and show him to the private quarters. Have no one disturb us.''

''Right away, sir.''

''Petra,'' he turned to her. ''I have important business to tend to. If you really want to leave for bed so early, I won't stop.''

''Who is it, Levi? A client?''

''An old friend. That's all you need to know.''

With that being said, he hung his evening jacket up on the bannister. His white shirt and cravat were pressed neatly against his muscular physique. He made his way into the tea room and closed the door behind him, headed to his private quarters. Supposedly, no one was ever allowed there without permission, or so Petra had heard.


Petra had decided to head to her room to read. The hours had passed and she hadn't even noticed when the guests began leaving. Levi's voice wasn't heard amongst them and she couldn't see him anywhere as she watched from her bedroom window, their drunk faces smiling into the darkness as they piled into the carriages. Rico seemed to be frowning and disappointed from what she could see. Perhaps Levi hadn't even bothered to say goodnight to her. What a happy marriage that will be, she laughed to herself. Her mind could not stop wondering about the visitor. Honestly, Levi was full of all sorts of mysteries, and this was just one of them, but the way his eyes filled with some sort of fright at the realisation of who it was caused much curiosity...

Later into the evening when it was time for bed, and all the servants had headed to sleep, she still could not hear the heavy footsteps of Levi or his friend.

Once again, it felt like another nightmarish evening, where the wind scraped the tree branches a little too much, and the cold bit her skin in just the wrong way. Waking for the fourth time, she decided to sit up, her shawl around her shoulders again. It was too dark to read anymore, and not worth it to get out of the warm bed to light a candle. So she decided to simply lay there and think. Staring into the darkness.

All was silent, until finally the heavy footsteps could be heard. Levi must be ready for bed finally, which relieved her a little, but she could hear another pair of footsteps followed behind him, which were - from what she could make out - much heavier.

''I must head to the third floor,'' an unfamiliar voice spoke, his voice low and almost a whisper. Petra listened. What did Levi say his name was? Smith? Erwin? ''I have to.''

''Don't go alone, wait until Hanji and I can come up with you. It's too dangerous.''

''I understand this. But I won't be able to sleep if I don't. Believe me, I'll be fine.''

There was a long pause, and then a door opening. It sounded like the one to the third floor. Some more words were uttered between the two gentlemen, but it was too low and far away for Petra to hear. Finally, the sounds of Levi entering his own room were heard and Petra rested back down into her bed.

Now she felt especially curious. No wonder he was an important friend... it was that third floor again.

Knowing Levi was finally safe in his bed filled her with a strange pleasure, and she felt tiredness finally creeping up on her. Slowly her eyes closed, and she began to fall asleep around two in the morning.


''AAAHHHH! OH GOD! STOP! STOP!''

...

Petra's eyes widened in horror. She shot up in her bed, frantically looking around the room. It was still nighttime, possibly around four in the morning at this hour, but the moonlight lit up her room in an uneasy way.

''AAAAAAHHH!''

The man's screaming echoed and her heart pounded. What if Levi was in danger again? She rushed to her house slippers and wrapped the shawl tightly around her shoulders, headed for the exit.

To her surprise, as she touched the door it was yanked open from the other side, and Petra's eyes were met with Levi's, his teeth grit and eyebrows furrowed. He looked panicked and ready to fight somebody.

''Are you sick at the sight of blood?'' he asked suddenly. ''Answer, Petra!''

''N-No... Levi, what is happening? What was that scream!?''

''Grab any medical supplies you have and follow me to the third floor. Quickly!''

Realising the urgency in his voice and the importance of the situation, Petra without a word ran to her belongings. She threw things aside until she reached her personal first aid kit she had put together. It had been helpful to have one of these when working in a school.

Turning on her heel, she met with Levi at the opening to the third floor, following him as his riding boots sped unapologetically up the steps.

He made his way to a room at the end of the corridor and then turned to Petra, handing her the candle and pulling out a key from his pocket. Petra froze up as she heard it once again...

''Hehhehehehehehh...''

That horrific woman's laughter. Levi seemed to ignore it, as though it was only in her head.

''Wait here.'' He ordered, unlocking the door and closing it behind him.

She did as she was told, gripping the candle and first aid kit like a lost child in the darkness. A few seconds passed with silence, no sound of laughter or screaming and Petra feared the worse at every moment that went by. Thankfully, keys jingled and Levi opened the door, looking well.

''Come this way.''

She followed him into the candlelit room, placing the smaller candle on one of the dressers. Looking ahead, she noticed the room lead to another door, which was bolted shut, and chained with a padlock. What followed next as she studied the rest of the room would surely traumatise her for life. In the left corner of the small room was Hanji. Petra had never seen her so concerned before, her eyes glossy in the flames. She sat on a chair dabbing sweat from a tall man's head, who was slumped back against his own chair, face sickly white and eyes fading in and out of consciousness.

Petra moved closer to the pair and gasped in shock.

His left arm had been stabbed repeatedly and deeply up to the shoulder, to the point it looked so bloodied they feared the arm might just fall off at any moment.

''Petra,'' Levi began, holding her arm and urging her to go closer. Hanji stood, and Petra took her place in the chair next to Erwin. ''Are you able to stop the bleeding?''

''I can try,'' she cried, opening the wooden box.

''Here,'' Hanji said sadly, handing her a fresh basin of water with a cloth. Petra took it and began gently wiping the blood from his wounds. Most of the punctures thankfully were not as deep as they looked, except for one close to the centre of the shoulder. Blood flowed from the wound often and Erwin began to wake at the gentle touch of the governess.

''Levi...'' he whispered tiredly. ''What...''

Levi walked up to him threateningly, much to the disapproval of Hanji and Petra. ''Listen, Erwin. If you utter a word to her it will be on your life. Do not speak a word.'' He pointed to the amber woman dabbing his wound. ''Just let her fix your shit while I ride into town for a doctor. Hanji is with you.'' He left the room, slamming the door.

''Hanji...'' Erwin choked.

''I'm right here, Erwin. Stay calm. I believe Petra can help you,'' she looked to the woman opposite her. ''Will you be able to stop the bleeding until the doctor gets here, Petra?''

Petra nodded. ''I can stitch the wound... I have some smelling salts, Hanji. It is best to keep using them in case he falls out of consciousness again,''

Hanji nodded agreeingly, taking the smelling salts from the medical box and rubbing them underneath Erwin's nose. Petra began stitching the wound once she had cleaned it. Erwin was an extremely large man, with shoulders as wide as two of Petra's torso. She wondered how someone could have done this to such a strong looking man. How did somebody get so close? To be able to, it must have been someone you thought you could trust, she was sure of it.

''Hehhehheheh...''

She froze. Her eyes looked up at Hanji at first, who was looking away, refusing eye contact. She looked to be acting the same as Levi. Pretending they didn't hear the laughter, though her expression was not uncaring like his - Hanji looked almost guilty. She was definitely not imagining things. Her head turned to the bolted door, still closed and still.

''Heheh... heh heh...''

The laughter came from the door.


The door swung open, followed by Levi and the local doctor. The doctor was a tall and dark man with a beard, long brown hair tied back; he wore glasses and sported a long coat.

''This is Doctor Jaeger,'' Levi explained. ''He can take over from here, Petra.''

Petra and Hanji removed themselves from Erwin's side quickly, letting Doctor Jaeger and Levi go to the injured man.

''Who stitched this man up?'' the doctor asked to no one in particular.

''I did,'' Petra answered shyly.

''You did very well, the bleeding has stopped. I'll treat the other punctures and bandage him up. He needs medicine for the pain.'' he stopped for a moment, looking over the wounds. ''Some of these appear to be teeth marks...''

Erwin, who had regained consciousness, stirred slightly. He breathed deeply then began. ''She attacked like an animal,'' he sat up, thick eyebrows knitted. ''She looked peaceful, but... I guess she got me by surprise. Lucky Levi grabbed the knife before...'' He chuckled darkly, and Petra's skin crawled.

Levi paced back and forth in front of Erwin anxiously. ''What the fuck were you thinking? Peaceful? She-''

''Levi,'' Hanji said softly. ''Take Petra outside... I'll stay with Doctor Jaeger,''

Levi sighed. ''You're right. She's probably seen enough.'' He looked extremely angry and on edge. Petra felt almost frightened to be alone with Levi right now. She wanted to stay with Hanji and Doctor Jaeger... ''Have him out in an hour.'' Levi grabbed Petra's arm, a bit too tightly for her liking. Her nerves were set on fire as he escorted them out of the room, out of the third floor, and continued to guide her down the stairs without a word until they reached the exit. ''I need some air.'' He explained, opening the door. It was beginning to get light outside by now, the sky burning an orange hue that rivalled Petra's hair.

Petra followed sheepishly, unsure of herself in this situation.

She watched him, clad in only his white shirt, unbuttoned at the collar, black pants and his usual riding boots. He walked out into the pathway and began to take a deep breath. Clearly he was very stressed and Petra contemplated whether it was best to leave him be or to make sure he was all right.

Though, it was advised by everyone to often leave Mr Levi Ackerman alone, and though it was a common mistake she made clinging to his side and getting into his business, Petra could not help herself.

''I was frightened,'' she began, walking up behind him. It was a chilly morning, but the sun peaking through the clouds felt comforting. ''I was frightened of whatever was behind that door.''

A moment passed, then he turned to her. He seemed to have calmed down. ''I locked it.''

''Your life is in danger, Levi.''

''I can take care of myself. Once Erwin is back out of the country things should become simple again.''

''Simple?'' she argued. ''Levi, what is behind that door? Why are you so careless for your own life?''

''I dare not tell you more.'' He answered, and Petra was surprised how calm he remained. Perhaps it had become tiring. Had she worn him down? ''Petra. Make us some tea.''

She stood firmly, refusing to move.

''Do as you are told.''