AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story will contain spoilers from the manga, please proceed with caution.
It’s difficult to grasp what exactly happened to Mr. Leonhart on this day. He was watering his garden in the morning, but as time passed by; he was arrested by Marleyan officers and then he was thrown into Marley’s prisons.
Marley, that was the place that an Eldian like him and his adopted daughter, Annie, lived in.
They were not kind enough to treat the Eldians as normal human beings, they lived in an internment zone and they were discriminated against. Their lives weren’t good, but Mr. Leonhart knew that it’s better than living outside in a world riddled by Titans.
Titans that Marley made.
The ultimate punishment that an Eldian can face is that of a fate worse than death, all what it takes is a simple spinal fluid injection and they will be turned into mindless Titans, forever to roam the world with no hope of getting any kind of freedom.
Nevertheless, Mr. Leonhart figured that the reason he was inside a prison cell to begin with was simply because of a conspiracy that spread around Marley like a wildfire.
The conspiracy was that some Eldians within the internment zone were willing to conspire against the government of Marley. A long time ago, there were Eldians who conspired against the government, but it all ended in failure and all of those suspected in aiding the conspiracy were titanized immediately.
Fears about this conspiracy resurfaced when the government found the “truth” about this conspiracy. Apparently, an Eldian who was loyal to the Marleyan government accused many people of aiding this conspiracy.
Among the accused was Mr. Leonhart himself.
There were many men, women and even children within these prison walls. Mr. Leonhart only hoped that his predictions would be wrong, but as time passed by, it became more apparent.
They will be titanized.
Mr. Leonhart would’ve cared less about his life, but he worried most for his daughter. She promised him to come back home safely, but what if she comes back home and she doesn’t find him?
What if she comes back to Marley, only to be prosecuted and be fed to a titanized warrior candidate so that candidate can inherit her power?
He felt helpless, he did not know how should he even communicate with her. He had a pen and a paper within his pockets (The Marleyan Officers didn’t bother inspecting him completely anyway), but he did not know how could he send her a message: a message about his demise and a message to warn her.
He was almost certain that he will be titanized, but he did not want his daughter to suffer a dark, brutal fate.
A man who wore a dedicated suit walked in front of his cell, he knocked on the bars slowly; releasing an echo that spread across the dirty dungeons of Marley. Mr. Leonhart turned around and he instantly recognized the face of the man who stood before his cell.
He was an old friend, and his name was Luis.
“Luis? Luis is that you?!“. Mr. Leonhart stumbled towards the prison cell and he grasped the cold, iron bars. His eyes widened in surprise and anticipation as he looked at his old friend (Who was also a Marleyan officer).
Luis hissed and he placed a finger over his mouth. “Be quiet! We do not want to awake the guards”. He said. “They are in deep slumber, but if you raise your voice any more; they will surely awake”.
“But you are a high-ranking officer, I doubt that they’d care if you were talking to an Eldian like me”.
Silence followed and neither of the two men said any word to each other. As the impending doom of Mr. Leonhart weighed heavily in their minds; the atmosphere slowly became suffocating.
Mr. Leonhart gave a deep sigh, and he looked at the eyes of his long-time friend.
“Is there truly no way to get me out? To ensure my safety?“. Mr. Leonhart said as despair and hopelessness masked his tone.
Luis’s face turned into a mournful one. “I tried to the best of my abilities to prove your innocence, and I do not even believe that you had a hand in this conspiracy, but these Marleyan bastards are stubborn”. Luis bitterly said. “You’re an Eldian, they won’t listen to you, and they threatened me if I defended you any further”.
Mr. Leonhart looked down on the ground as the fear over his daughter’s well being overwhelmed him. “That means....Annie.....“.
Luis spared a look of sympathy to his long-time friend. “I’m afraid that this will happen to your daughter as well. Her life would not be spared the moment she sets foot on Marley, wither she comes back with the Founding Titan or not”.
Mr. Leonhart sat in the farthest corner of his cell, his heart was filled with sheer despair and agony as he thought about his daughter’s terrified face when she would be eaten by a titan.
Silent tears escaped his eyes, he truly felt that there was no way to save his daughter. She would end up killing so many innocent people and lose her humanity, and she would end up losing her life in the process. (Ironically, to the government she was forced to swear allegiance to).
Then again, if he wasn’t such a horrible father, if he didn’t force her to join the warrior program, then perhaps her life would’ve not been at risk like how it was now.
Annie, his dear daughter.....
“Unless”. Mr. Leonhart raised his head up quickly and he looked at his old friend with hopeful eyes. “Unless what?!“. He exclaimed as he quickly got up from his position and gripped the iron bars of his cage.
Luis looked at Mr. Leonhart with the most serious expression. “Unless I go and warn her myself”.
It was as if time froze when these very words escaped from the lips of Luis. Mr. Leonhart’s eyes widened in complete shock at the crazy idea his friend just proposed as he backed away from the iron bars by a few meters.
How can it be possible for Luis to go to the island of Paradis all by himself? He knew that since he was a high ranking officer; he had a lot of special rights that he can use at anytime he wishes, but to go to the same island his daughter went to?
“H-How...? How is this even possible?“. Mr. Leonhart muttered. “How do you think that you will easily make it to this island without being suspected of doing anything?“.
Luis simply smiled at him. “Don’t fret old friend, I have strings that I can easily pull”. He said. “I can easily secure a private ship that can also handle the weight of a horse as well, I have a map that can easily lead me to where the walls are located as well”.
“But wouldn’t that be risky?“. Mr. Leonhart said. “It’s been 5 years since my daughter left with the warriors, they probably would’ve destroyed the walls by now!“. He exclaimed.
“Not all walls”. Luis said. “According to the intel that we have, the Eldians on Paradis live behind three separate walls: Maria, Rose and Sina. Each of these walls were named after their first king’s daughters”. He said. “What I am certain of is that they would’ve orchestrated the downfall of Maria first, but I truly doubt they’d go to the lengths of destroying the remaining two walls because it would risk killing the holder of the Founding Titan”. He said. “However, if I were to be so sure that Rose is still secure, I’d have to go through Maria first; and I’d be lucky if I survive the Titans that currently infest this area”.
Mr. Leonhart felt dread fill his heart as he looked at Luis. “You might die....You might get devoured by a titan”. Leonhart shook. “I know”. Luis said. “But I would want to risk my life for my closest friend’s daughter”. He said as he smiled.
Mr. Leonhart inched further into the iron bars and he looked at Luis with eyes holding a mix of emotions. Hopeful eyes looked at Luis’s storm, grey eyes, but apart of hope; Leonhart’s eyes held worry and fear over the man.
Luis sighed and he kept his gaze at Leonhart. “You will die in the next two days, but I promise you; I will warn your daughter about your demise”. He said. “I realize the consequences of my actions, I know that I’ll probably be branded as a traitor if I ever step foot in Marley again, but serving a corrupted government was never a part of my interests anyway”.
“But....what if you die? What if you don’t make it?“.
Luis looked away. “....It’s better not to think about it”. He said. “But I promise you this, I won’t fail you Leonhart”.
“....Are you sure?“. Leonhart muttered these words.
“What?“. Luis asked.
“Are you sure? For willing to risk your life to save my daughter?“. He asked.
Luis was surprised at this sudden question, he remained silent as he looked at the ground for a moment.
Doubt suddenly crept into his heart, was he certain that he was doing the right thing? Was he certain that he was doing something that made any sense?
A part of him screamed at him that he would risk dying, and he wouldn’t even make it in time to reach his daughter, making all of his efforts become naught and his promise broken.
But the other part of him told him that this was the least thing he can do for his friend (Who was going to be titanized). If it was his friend’s last wish before he gets his freedom taken away, then wouldn’t it be something that he would do? Why would he betray a friend’s plea for help?
Luis felt afraid, he felt fear like no before when the thought of facing a titan came to his mind. He was certain that if he came face-to-face with a titan, his death would be all but guaranteed. His false bravado began to slowly melt as he thought more about the terror these titans posed.
But his “moral” side screamed at him, telling him that he still needs to do it, even if this objective ran a huge amount of risk, telling him that what kind of a man would he be if he would refuse to save a friend’s daughter from a fate that was worse than death.
Luis gave an irritated sigh, damn his morals that kept guilt-tripping him to charge straight into death.
"....Yes". Luis finally said. "I am certain, I am sure that I'm willing to take this risk".
Mr. Leohart felt a swirl of emotions overwhelm him as he gave his long-time friend a teary smile. It was a smile filled with appreciation and hope.
There was hope for his daughter.
Even though it seemed more likely that his long-time friend would die, Mr. Leonhart would want to take that small chance if it meant saving his daughter.
But....was he selfish in thinking this way?
Mr. Leonhart suddenly felt guilt creep into his system, it was as if his friend's life was something that was expendable, and Leonhart didn't want to think that way.
Although there was a tiny, sliver of hope for his daughter; what about his friend?
"....Am I selfish?". Mr. Leonhart asked.
Luis looked at him for a moment.
“No, you are not selfish”. Luis finally answered Leonhart’s question. “I.....I would’ve asked of you the same thing if I had a daughter in the warrior program, and I was the one behind the iron bars”. He said.
Mr. Leonhart remained silent, but he smiled once again as he looked at his long-time friend. “Thank you.....I’m so, so sorry....“.
“Don’t, you are not wrong. Any man would take or accept any lengths if it meant saving their daughter, do not feel guilty Leonhart”. He said. “If there is a time where I should be moving, then I should move right now.....“.
He spared a glance at his friend and he sighed. “Mr. Leonhart.....It was an honor to know you”.
But before he went, Mr. Leonhart gripped his sleeve. “Wait! I have a pen and a paper!“. He said. “Please, can you stay here for a moment? I would need to write something for my daughter......She deserves to hear one last thing from me”.
Luis looked at Leonhart, and he sighed.
“Then write away, old friend”.