"Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly."
. . . Petra's P.O.V.
It's like any other day at the Scout Regiment Headquarters: All the squad leaders and Commander Erwin are discussing the upcoming expedition. Captain Levi will later discuss with us what our positions will be during this mission. For now though, he has ordered me and the rest of the squad to- no surprise- clean up the headquarters. Gunther and Eld are outside cleaning the windows. With the windows being so high up on the building, they are forced to use their 3DMG cable wires to hang from the edge of the roof. That way they can thoroughly scrub every surface of the glass. Captain Levi can spot a speck of dirt from a mile away, so they are willing to go to many extents to do a good cleaning job. Oluo (or Aruro, if you prefer) went off alone to dust and sweep up a room in the headquarters. I offer my help, but he refuses to accept help no matter how many times I offer it.
Since Oluo is too stubborn, I decide to help out Eren, and we clean a room together instead; he dusts cobwebs in every crevice and corner of the room while I sweep. I can't help but giggle at the expression Eren wears while he cleans. He wears the face of someone who is a nervous wreck; Eren does not want to disappoint the Captain with his cleaning.
"Eren," I laugh, "you can calm down. Levi will be at that meeting for hours. There's no rush."
"Oh, right," he replies, seeming to be a little distracted.
I could tell all he wanted to do was go back to dusting under the bed in the corner of the room; his nervousness was still at it's peak for Levi's return.
"Alright, if you really want to be a nervous wreck until Levi comes back then I guess I wont stop you," I sigh, returning to my sweeping.
He blinks at me with a confused expression plastered on his face.
"Arent you worried Captain Levi will scold you for not doing a good job?"
I laugh again.
"You know," I say, "Levi becomes less scary and intimidating the more you get to know him. I suppose to you, though, he probably still seems pretty terrifying, huh?" I chuckle at the blank stare he gives me before I continue, "it's kind of like having a fear of the dark. In reality, there's really nothing to be afraid of I guess."
"Oh, I see," Eren says finally, looking down at the ground. "So what's Captain Levi really like then if he's not so scary?"
He looks back up at me with curiosity flooding into his turquoise eyes.
"Dont get me wrong, Eren. He's just like the man you see everyday. Just a little less scary is all," I answer.
"Oh," he sighed in disappointment, looking back down at the ground.
"Cheer up, Eren," I say, walking over to him and placing my hand on his shoulder. "He's still the big- well, sort of- hero that you've been admiring your whole life. He's just a little bit different."
Eren smiles at me as I go back to sweeping.
"Right, different," Eren mutters sarcastically, crouching down to dust under the bed. "That's definitely the word I'd use too."
A cloud of dust swarms Eren's face as soon as he tries to dust under the bed; he bursts into a coughing fit and I burst out laughing.
"It's not… funny," he chokes out between coughs.
I mutter an apology, but cover my mouth with my hand to hide my smile.
"That's what these are for, silly," I say, tugging on the white handkerchief wrapped loosely around my neck. Then I start to laugh again.
"Yeah, right, I forgot," Eren mumbles, blushing and pulling the handkerchief over his mouth and continuing to dust with unnecessary deep concentration.
As much as I respect Levi, I'm not going to concentrate that hard on a patch of dust, I think, watching Eren as he dusts with determination flaring in his eyes. I dont want to laugh at him again, so I try to focus on my sweeping. Captain Levi is just a little bit different, I think as I began forming a pile of dirt with my broom, That's what I like most about him.
All of sudden, I hear hurried footsteps storming down the hall outside the room. Eren must hear it too because his eyes nearly pop out of his skull, and he begins to dust faster and more furiously.
"I thought you said Levi wouldn't be back for hours!" he squeals. "Oh great, this room isn't nearly clean enough for his standards!"
"I doubt that's him," I say, rolling my eyes and peeking my head out the doorway to see who is coming.
It isn't Levi, but a very stressed-out looking Hanji. She has beads of sweat running down her face and is fast-walking towards the flight of stairs at the end of the hallway, those stairs lead to the exit of the headquarters.
Oh no, did something happen? I think as Hanji is approaching the doorway I am standing in.
"I'm going to be late! I'm going to late! I'm going to be late!" she repeats in a hurried tone.
As soon as she is within my reach, I put a hand on her shoulder and stop her. She doesn't even look at me, her crazed eyes are still focused on her watch.
"Hanji? What's wrong?" I ask in a panicked tone. "Is everything okay? What exactly is it that you're late for? Is it that meeting? I'm sure you'll be okay if you're a little late. After all, it's only been going on for a few minutes now, right?"
She looks up at me for a second, but my words of reassurance did not seem to reach her, her eyes still carrying that maniacal, deranged look. In a moment, she rips my hand off her shoulder and begins sprinting down the hallway again.
"I'll be right back, Eren," I say, dropping my broomstick to the ground and walking out the doorway. "I'm going to see what's up with Hanji. Stay here and keep cleaning, okay? You know, just in case Levi comes back early by any chance."
"Uh...okay," he obeys, blinking in confusion as I run off down the hallway. "I guess I'll see you later then!"
I charge down the long, dimly lit hallway after Hanji at top speed. She was moving fast for someone who was now just speed-walking.
"Hanji! Wait!" I call, stretching out my hand to stop her.
She was already at the end of the hallway, and as dark as it may be, her glasses glint in the small slivers of light that shine in the hallway as she looks at me. She only looks at me for a moment, though, before she is storming down the staircase towards the Scout Headquarters exit. I pick up the pace in my running, and when I reach the staircases, I'm practically jumping down them two at a time. It's a spiral staircase with a giant pillar in the middle, so I can not see how far down Hanji is. I knew she was still on the staircase: I can hear her rhythmic, thundering footsteps as she moves farther and farther down. Soon enough, the choppy sound of a mad-woman walking down a staircase turns into the even sounds of someone walking on solid floor.
Damn, she's quick, I think as I start jumping, not only two stairs at time, but three. I am six steps away from being on the bottom floor with Hanji, but as I try to jump the first three steps, I trip over my own feet and go tumbling down the remaining steps instead. The pain from the fall makes it take a minute for me to get up. A minute was just enough time for Hanji to get all the way outside of the building. When I finally get up and get outside, Hanji is nowhere in sight.
If she's going somewhere, she probably needs a horse. Which means she's at the stables.
I immediately make a sharp turn to my left towards the stable posts. When I arrive, I see Hanji's horse is still there along with my own.
Where did that woman run off too? I know I saw her head outside, and she wouldn't have just gone into the woods without a horse. She can be a nut job sometimes.
I leave the stable posts and make my way to the front of the headquarters, looking around to see if I can catch sight of Hanji anywhere.
"Hey, Petra, whatcha lookin' for?" I hear someone ask behind me.
Spinning around, I gaze up at Eld, who is still dangling from the roof of the headquarters; judging from the rag in his hand, he still must be cleaning.
"I'm looking for Hanji!" I shout up at him. "Have you seen her?"
"Yeah, we did actually," he replies.
"The crazy woman has finally gone over the deep end, huh?" Gunther chuckles. "We saw her run into the forest dressed as a damn rabbit."
A rabbit? When did she have time to change into a rabbit suit? And why?
"We would've gone after her ourselves, but she was moving as fast as lightning," Eld adds. "Wonder what her deal is…"
"That's what i'm trying to figure out," I reply, glancing towards the forest. "Do you know which direction she headed off to?"
"Yeah, I think I saw her go that way," Gunther answers, pointing to the East part of the forest.
"Okay! Thanks!" I shout at them, waving as I run back towards the stable posts.
I know Hanji is only getting farther ahead as I stop to get a horse, but I can gain much better ground with one. This will be a much easier way to catch up with her. I find my horse, and undo all the ropes that bind it to the stable; I guide it out of the stable by its reins. As soon as we're both away from the stable posts, I hop onto it, and once I know I won't fall off, I whip the reins. My horse gallops fast towards the direction Hanji supposedly ran off down. I'm in the shade of the forest in no time, but there is still no Hanji to be found.
Pulling on the reins of my horse, I come to a skidded stop. I am turning my head in all directions in hopes that I will spot the rabbit-woman somewhere among the mass of trees. I look to my left, but all I see are more tree trunks and dirt roads, and it is the same to my right.
Forward is the only clear path, so she must be straight ahead.
I snap the reins of my horse again, and it begins to gallop again, but much faster. I wanted to catch up with Hanji, but at this speed, I was afraid I might trample her. Sitting up straighter on my horse, I try to see the path ahead of me, and I immediately spot her. Erd had been right about her appearance: she is dressed as a rabbit. White ears protrude from a top hat that covers her wild brown hair, she wears a black tail coat and through the tails of the coat I can see the fluffy tail of a rabbit.
What a strange rabbit costume. This woman really has gone over the deep end.
I was getting very close to rabbit-Hanji, so I tug back on the reins of my horse as hard as I can to avoid hitting her. Dirt flies up as the horse digs it's hooves into the ground, and ceases to a stop. My horse lets out a large neigh, and this causes Hanji to turn and look at me.
Now's my chance!
I quickly jump off my horse, and run the rest of the way towards Hanji. A smug smile appears on her face, and she points to large hole in the ground in front of her. I dont even have time to ask what she's doing because she jumps into the hole.
"HANJI!" I cry out, running over to the hole.
The hole must've been deep because she disappears completely. I arrive at the edge of the hole- careful not to get too close- and peer down it.
"What kind of hole is this?" I gasp.
It looks so deep. What was Hanji doing? Is she trying to get to the center of the Earth of something? This is probably one of her crazy, life-threatening, science experiments.
"HANJI!" I scream down into the hole, cupping my hands over my mouth. "ARE YOU OKAY?! CAN YOU HEAR ME?! HANJI!"
I don't hear an answer.
"Yes, I hear you just fine. I am alright, but will you be?" I hear from behind me.
My eyes go wide as I spin around to find the rabbit woman standing directly behind me; she still wears the smug grin from before she jumped into the hole, and she has a hand on her hip.
"Hanji!" I yell. "What the hell did you just do?! How did you escape that hole?!"
"Easy," she answers, shrugging her shoulders nonchalantly. "Although, it might not be so easy for you to escape it."
"What do you mean? Hanji, what's going on-"
To answer my question, she shoves me back, and I am falling down the hole behind me. I scream as I fall deeper and deeper into the darkness of the hole. Hanji's looming figure from above becomes smaller and smaller by the second.
"HANJI!" I scream for probably the millionth time that day.
Soon, I am so deep underground that I can't even see the hole that leads to the world above.