This is my first SnK story, probably gonna be my only one too. I didn't see myself having to make one, thinking there was nothing I could add seeing how well-written it was. Then the Rumbling Arc happened, barring 130 and 131, where the quality started to go down.
I wasn't pleased how it ended. I have so many issues with it and how it sharply devolved after the Paths arc.
Some might agree, and some might not.
The purpose of this story is for an alternative ending, that I thought was going to happen. You're not obligated to enjoy it, like all fanfiction, this is purely self-indulgent.
I just want you to know that the characters involved doesn't mean I was all for an EH ending or something like that. I did like the pairing, but prior to 139, I always thought that SnK was beyond romance since it was never a focal point, and honestly most were pretty weakly done. So please don't think that this is me pushing for an EH pairing ending, there's a reason why Eren and Historia weren't given the pairing brackets.
And so the Rumbling was over…
Had there been a better alternative, things might not have had to come to this, but when it came to securing the future for the Eldians of Paradis and returning them their birthright of freedom, Eren Yeager could not fail. He had sacrificed too much to not make true to his vow of destroying the world.
At least, the most of it. Eren had ultimately decided on sparing Hizuru; he knew that they were looking out for themselves more than they were concerned about Paradis, but in the end, they did not support the war calling for his people's destruction and so he would share the freedom he gave to Paradis with Mikasa's country of origin. Apart from that sole nation, the Eldian survivors he was moving towards were all that were left; through the Founder's abilities, Eren could see that the Colossal Titans had left nothing else standing. And he also spared them on purpose.
His friends and the rest of that group were nearing him, and he knew they sought to stop him. He could very well have prevented them from coming in order to protect them. Eren could have easily wiped his friends' memories of what he was about to do to keep them safeguarded; without them, only Mikasa and Captain Levi and any surviving non-Eldians with them would be able to stop him but they would have little to no support. But he couldn't go through such a hypocritical act, he couldn't trounce on their very freedom when he was fighting for it.
So he would allow their arrival to be unencumbered, and let them save the remaining mainland Eldians that escaped Liberio after their final confrontation with him. He would not fight them, not truly, for he did not have the desire to lose anymore of his remaining friends. He had already visited most of them individually through Paths, and once everything was over, he would return their memories of his meeting to them. And then they'll learn the truth.
Because Eren had no intention of living past this event.
He would be heralded as a hero of Paradis for protecting them by wiping out their enemies, but Eren knew better. He was no hero. Heroes do not commit the level of genocide that he did, heroes do not systematically slaughter innocents like he had. The majority of the people that had been trampled didn't deserve to die, and it was a sin he knowingly accepted.
He became the Devil in order to let his friends and his people be free even if history won't remember it like that. As Eren Kruger told his father, "Anyone can become a god or a devil. All it takes is for people to believe it."
To Paradis, Eren was their saviour, to the rest of the world he was the Devil come to life and to his friends… He didn't know, Eren was not sure what they would think in the end. Not that it mattered, he finished what he set out to do, he found the hope that was beyond the hell of the Rumbling.
After all these years of fighting for freedom, he finally reached a future where freedom would be secured for Paradis. But it was not for him to enjoy, how could he when he willingly robbed the freedom of innocents as well as their lives? How could he say he had a right to life?
If asked if he regretted it, Eren would probably say he only regretted that things had to come to this. Maybe it had been worth it, he refused to accept the alternative of his people being wiped out after all.
As he said so long ago, back before he first saw into the future, Eren was willing to sacrifice his life if it meant stopping the horrors of the past from repeating, and if he were willing to sacrifice his life, he was willing to sacrifice his desire for freedom. Even now, he still meant it, although with a future of true freedom right in front of him, even Eren had to admit that he still wanted to live.
But it was not to be. Eren was meant to die soon.
He looked towards the distance to see his despondent older half-brother idly playing with the sand. He pitied Zeke because he held no value in freedom like Eren did. And after his betrayal, he doubted anything he could say would change anything. But just because he was disgusted by Zeke's Euthanasia Plan, did not mean he held ill-will towards him.
Eren was not the person who could set Zeke free, but perhaps the same person who awoke Eren's own inner desire for freedom all that time ago with a book about the outside world could. If there was one person he knew who appreciated life, it was Armin. Perhaps with him, Zeke could be set free as well.
Not that it would last long if Captain Levi had anything to say about it however. It seems like two Yeagers were meant to die here today then.
He looked away from his half-brother, and looked back to the progenitor Ymir, free from the control of King Fritz and his descendents. After she cried when he helped set her free from the royal command, she would stare resolutely as she took her vengeance upon the rest of the world. Now, she was back to staring blankly as if waiting for guidance now that she didn't know what else to do. There was a shine now when she looked back at him as if recognizing him as her savior. It was familiar to Eren, painfully so.
It was because of that gaze that he knew he wasn't done. He still had one more thing left to do.
A promise he made after seeing the truth about the young woman in the form of a girl forcibly made into a slave and labelled by others as a god or a devil.
Armin was speaking to Zeke now, and just as Eren expected, his oldest friend was sharing a perspective on life to his older half-brother. Just like with Eren all those years ago, Armin was breathing new life into Zeke Yeager.
"Once they leave, Zeke will die shortly after."
He looked down to see Ymir looking back up at him. She didn't speak, even now. Eren could only assume it was because she no longer remembered how after having her tongue cut off so long ago.
"Around the same time, a child shall be born in Paradis."
Yes, Historia's child. His child…
When she had asked his thoughts on her having a child, he was confused. At the time he wondered if she had somehow caught onto his line of thinking to carry a child in order to delay the Military Police from feeding Zeke to her. But that hadn't been the case.
"I didn't see myself settling down with how everything is, not now or in the future. And if we had gone through the 50 year plan, I would have asked you this anyway."
Historia looked up at him with saddened eyes.
"Eren. I would rather it be with someone I know I can trust and who trusts me as well rather than a faceless person of a man I will never truly care for. If I'm to have a child anyway, could I at least have it be with someone of my choice?"
Eren stared at her then with wide eyes. He had seen snippets of this very conversation when he kissed her hand after reaching the basement three years ago, and the image he saw had already passed when she wept at the idea of Eren destroying the world. He could not see the full future, and as such the request the Queen of the Walls made was nothing less than unexpected.
But he knows what he did to her, to her family. How could he accept her request when he was the true reason her beloved sister Frieda was dead? And not just Frieda, but the children as well?
And so, he told her the truth, as much truth as he could garner with the memory shards he received from the Attack Titan. He owed her that at least, Historia deserved to know the part he would play.
"…I don't know when it will happen, but a time will come where I command my father to kill everyone in the chapel except for Rod Reiss."
She stood in stunned silence for a moment.
"That's why… You looked so horrified after kissing my hand that time, wasn't it?"
Eren nodded slowly and looked down.
"All this time, it was because of me that you lost your family. I… didn't save you then, Historia, I was the cause of everything. And in return you saved me when I was the person truly to blame."
Silence engulfed the two of them. Eren was not sure how Historia would react to everything he revealed, but she was free to do with the information whatever she wanted.
His attention was brought back to the young queen when she daintily grasped onto his coat. She was trembling, as if only barely holding back tears. He looked at her, conflicted, knowing how deeply what he said had hurt her.
"If what you said is true; that Frieda was taken over by the Will of the King after the walls were first broken, and she was forcefully made to refuse to defend her people… Then you saved her, Eren…"
Again, his eyes widened completely at the words Historia said. She looked up at him, with tears in her eyes.
"I've seen the mental toll the Will of the King had taken on Frieda even before there were any threats to Paradis… She looked tortured every time… The fact that it took over her after hearing your father beg for her help means that she was almost convinced. If she had returned to herself and heard about the number of casualties losing Wall Maria cost and then the first operation to retake Wall Maria when it was a pretense to prevent a food shortage… I don't think she would have been able to handle it…"
He wanted to deny that, to tell her that the reason he killed her family would not have been for Frieda's sake.
He quieted at her outburst, she grasped at his coat very tightly now.
"I know you probably didn't do it for her, but even so, your actions spared her from the continued torture of being under the King's Will… You released her from that prison. Even though I loved Frieda, I'm happy that she was at least freed from her fate. Even now, I don't blame you, Eren. And I'm sure… I'm sure that killing my other siblings was not easier for you."
He didn't know what to say. He expected her to hate him for what his actions would cause; so to be thanked for a monstrous future action was not what he imagined.
"Maybe there was a reason why you saw this memory in the ceremony, don't you think so?"
Confusion marred his features, at that Historia gave a humorless laugh.
"Maybe it led to this? Why else would you feel the need to tell me the truth of what you'll do? Having a child could delay me inheriting Zeke's titan, but it isn't as if you need him, right? With the Founding Titan, you could do anything once you unlock it, even remove the Beast Titan from me?"
Eren never thought of that, not out of ignorance but purely out of the fact of never entertaining a future where Historia became a Titan-Shifter.
"I don't know… But I want you to live a long life. So long as I don't know if the Founder can actually take away titans from shifters, I don't want to put you at risk. That's why, I'd rather use Zeke."
She smiled sadly at that, as if appreciating how much effort he went through to keep her from repeating the cycle her family had been a part of when they had the Founding Titan.
"But say you could, wouldn't you have seen it in the future? Maybe the reason you didn't was solely because of the child I will have playing a role."
Eren found himself frowning now. He did not want to repeat his father's mistakes with Zeke and use a child to further his goals, especially if the child would be his. He didn't believe Historia would do so either, especially because of the very circumstances of her own birth.
She shook her head, with a defeated smile and tears welling up her eyes again.
"I can't begin to understand any of this. You're the one who saw the future, even if it was incomplete. Only you can decide what to do. Just know that even now, I'm still your ally, Eren."
An ache twinged in his chest at her words. She really had meant those words in the cave…
"…Are you sure you're fine with me?"
Eren laid in the bed he shared with Historia. He wasn't sure if they were successful, only time would be able to tell if they were.
In an act of vulnerability, Historia placed herself close to him, her head resting on his extended arm. He wasn't sure what else to do except to allow it. If he were to be honest, he still didn't understand what to think about the situation.
He was unsure what he felt in general, he never thought of things like this period. He knew he cared about Historia, and that it was reciprocated (why else would she have chosen him?), but he never put any more thought into it.
Prior to inheriting his father's memories, he knew nothing of this subject. He wasn't sure what this was, if there was anything, but he didn't fight it. In fact, he allowed himself to lower some of his guard with his only true ally in the world.
But it would be in his brief moment of allowing himself to express his own vulnerabilities and hold Historia's head closely that he saw one last vision after making contact with someone with royal blood.
And it would be then that he would see that scenery.
They were outside again, it was now dusk and Eren could stay no longer. Floch could only "supervise" him for so long before Commander Hange requested his presence.
They stood in a heavy silence, it was not uncomfortable or awkward but it was heavy all the same.
"You'll need a cover in order to explain your…"
He wasn't sure what to say, if there was anything else he could tell her.
"After all of this is over… will you come back, Eren?"
He sharply shifted his gaze back at her. Had she seen the vision he saw? She gave no indication that she had, and he couldn't find it himself to ask her.
Instead he told her the truth, even as she looked at him tearfully heartbroken. Once more, Historia would lose another of her closest friends.
"Once Zeke is dead, the Beast Titan will transfer to that child. The titan will work as an anchor for you."
She blinked questionably.
"Through that child, you will be reborn into this world."
Fear crept into Ymir's features, and Eren made sure to reassure her by grabbing hold of her hand. She flinched at the touch but slowly relaxed.
"It's fine, the woman who will become your mother will raise you well. She would never allow you to feel helpless or be hurt, she is just that type of person. And with the orphanage she lives by, there's plenty of children your age to interact with. You won't have to deal with slavery ever again."
The trepidation in her eyes faded but didn't completely leave. He couldn't fault her after the life she lived. But there remained a question in her eyes, one solely directed at him. She didn't need to voice it for Eren to understand.
"What about you?"
He smiled bitterly at her concern for him, she had grown attached to him so quickly. It reminded him of Mikasa, somewhat.
"I am going to destroy the age of titans. I'll destroy this reality and everything with it, making sure that all the titans are removed from this world for good."
She clasped his hand tighter, almost begging him not to leave her. It wasn't a surprise that she figured out what that meant for himself. Destroying the Coordinate effectively removes the titans and frees any and all Subjects of Ymir, but to destroy the Coordinate means to destroy the Founder. And for the Founder to be destroyed, its wielder must die.
Eren could have worked around it, by allowing Ymir to be sacrificed which would keep him alive whilst destroying the titans. She would be freed from her two millennia-long imprisonment and finally rest.
But that wasn't enough for him. No, for Eren, Ymir was due to have a new chance at life after suffering as a slave not only in her first life but even in her afterlife.
Death was not freedom for anything except pure titans.
He was an irredeemable monster who willingly stole the freedom of innocents for his goal, and she was a girl who had been a slave all her life. That's all it amounted to, really.
Eren surrendered his right to living a free life once he enacted the Rumbling, he was not so hypocritical to think otherwise. But if the trade-off for the freedom he so valued was guaranteeing Paradis's continued survival as well as freeing Ymir from eternal slavery, then he was fine with it.
That had been what that scenery was, a free world for Paradis and Ymir, but one he would not be able to enjoy. It was a scene of tortured bliss for Eren.
"I knew what was going to happen since I first saw into the future. I understood the costs from the very beginning."
She still looked unsure, but Eren shook his head. Zeke's death was almost here, Captain Levi was just about to strike him down.
"I'll transfer the Beast Titan to the child being born, using it's direct tie with the Coordinate I'll send your consciousness to it with the Founder."
Not knowing how else to respond, Ymir nodded meekly.
Eren felt conflicted, he did not want her to think he was ordering her, but he left it at that and awaited for his brother's death.
Eren's end was approaching. He had forcefully removed the remaining five titans from his friends and their allies and was moments away from returning their memories. Out of protection, he changed the memories of his supporters back in Paradis into thinking that their fellow Yeagerists were killed by a Marleyan ambush at the port instead of the alliance who had come to stop him.
Eren had done everything he had to for them, now he had one final act before the Coordinate and the Paths realm were destroyed.
With the power of the Founding Titan, Eren searched for Historia and the rebirthed Ymir. Close to them was a man who did not appear as a doctor, most likely the man whom Historia used as cover. Through the Founder, Eren temporarily transferred a part of his consciousness to the man. He would not be harmed, nor would he recall anything having happened.
Seeing through the man's eyes, Eren slowly neared the utterly exhausted Historia and the child she birthed. Near the newborn, was the doctor who had taken care of the procedure.
"It's a healthy girl, you highness. What will you name her?"
"Y-Ymir… Her name is Ymir…"
The doctor nodded before slowly handing over the infant to "Eren" and exiting the room to provide some privacy.
Eren looked down at the bundle carrying the reborn progenitor and now his daughter. She was small, fragile, but he saw recognition in her eyes. Whether she could see him because of a residual connection to the Founder, he didn't know but a gasp from the other occupant in the room got his attention.
Historia was staring with wide eyes before fatigue overwhelmed her completely and she fell into slumber. Perhaps he had shown himself.
Looking back at the infant, Eren realized he had little time left. He smiled at the child, now understanding his father's feelings when he went back to his mother and him even after first finding the chapel where the Reiss Family once convened.
But he would not make the mistake Grisha had. He would not use his child as his father had with Zeke nor Historia's father with herself. Ymir's rebirth was not meant as a redemption for his actions, and he wouldn't burden her into thinking that either.
He brought the infant close and rested his forehead onto her own. With the final use of the Founding Titan's abilities, Eren wiped all of Ymir's memories of her past life and her after life, releasing her from all of her burdens past and present, effectively leaving her with a blank slate to begin life anew.
The recognition disappeared from her face, and she began to fuss as a newborn would. He chuckled softly and held her closely one final time.
"You are free…"
And Eren disappeared, taking the Age of Titans with him.
And that's about it.
I hope I did well to keep things from seeming romantic between Eren and Historia, and it came off as ambiguous at best. Like I said, I didn't want to look like I was pushing for their pairing since it wasn't the point of my story.
It's not flawless, I know it isn't. But it was along the lines of how I thought things were going to end once we saw the "final panel" and after Eren hugged Ymir in 122. I thought it would have been a fitting end for Eren to work to free Ymir after seeing how she was an eternal slave for 2000 years. But that isn't what we got. We got a shoehorned parallel in the final chapter between two characters that previously had nothing to do with each other and everything that happened with Eren.
The Eren stuff hurts especially.
Prior to the final arc, I started seeing Eren as being in the same realm as Griffith from Berserk. I saw them as the opposite sides of the same coins, Eren was that well-written and complex at that point especially once we reached 131's breakdown. But it amounted to nothing, and he became a horrible imitation of Lelouch vi Britannia, and even saying that is an insult to Lelouch himself.
You're free to disagree and truly enjoy what we got, but it's my prerogative to be unsatisfied and criticize the ending. I'm not a blind consumer, I'm under no obligation to be pleased by anything and everything Isayama wrote.
SnK is forever damaged for me to the point that I have almost no interest in watching S4P2 (I doubt there'll be an anime exclusive ending). Maybe I will up until the Paths Arc ends, and then watch the animated episodes of 130 and 131, but that'll be all.
To me 139 and the chapters leading up to it were a deep betrayal for me as a reader, but that damn scene with Mikasa and the bird was just a slap in the face. That sort of scene had no business being in a series like SnK. Not after seeing the brutality of the Rumbling first hand with Ramzi's death.