SPOILER FOR MANGA!!!
If you’re reading this, then Reiner and I are already far beyond the walls. This also means that you’ve discovered the truth about us, and what we really are. I wish I had the courage to say this directly to you, but I guess I’ll have to say it here instead: Reiner and I are the Armored and Colossal Titan. The ones who broke through Wall Maria, and almost succeeded with Wall Rose. The ones sent to infiltrate humanity’s forces and destroy them. The ones who worked with Annie Leonhart, the Female Titan, and the ones responsible for hundreds and thousands of military and civilian deaths.
When I first joined the 104th Trainees Squad, I was prepared for people to hate me for what I had done, who I was, and what I was going to do. I had it all planned out; I would avoid everyone and only look out for Reiner, Annie, and myself. After all, what could we possibly have in common with everyone else? They joined the military to defend humanity; we joined for the sole purpose of destroying it. My intentions were to isolate myself and stay hidden in the background. It would be much easier for me and for everyone else. No friends would mean no weaknesses or problems right? That way, I wouldn’t truly be betraying anyone, if I’d never even gained their trust in the first place. But then Reiner started making friends with everyone and turned into the big brother of the squad. Annie befriended Eren and Armin, even going as far as to teach Eren her very own fighting skills. How could they do something as irrational as befriending the very people we were going to kill? I was lost, and unsure of what to do next.
Then I met you.
You showed me what it was like to have someone to talk to, to laugh with and just relax and wind down. Even when the training was tough and discouraging, you always found some way to cheer me up or offer some sort of solution. When I was with you, I felt normal, like every other teenager in the world. Sometimes, you even managed to make me forget my mission. At those times, I’d turn into a soldier, dedicated to humanity’s victory. But dreams don’t last forever, and once the dreamer awakens, they disappear. And once that happened, I’d turn back into a warrior and a titan shifter, not a human.
Not only this, you also introduced me to everyone else in the squad. Marco, Connie, Jean, Sasha, Mina, Thomas, Eren, Mikasa, Armin, Krista…I never would have imagined myself actually being able to laugh and talk with them, or anyone for that matter. They included me into the group so easily, and I found myself even enjoying it. But every time we trained on the 3DMG, practiced hand-to-hand combat, or went on those teambuilding trips, I felt like I was digging myself into a deeper and deeper hole. Everyone seemed to trust me so easily, with their lives and even with their secrets, and wishes. But I was drowning. How could they trust me so easily? Before I knew it, I’d done the one thing I’d sworn to never do; I’d made friends. I’d built relationships with others, and I’d gained their trust; something that I couldn’t reciprocate back to them, and something I didn’t deserve.
These past years have been hard on everyone. We’ve watched our friends, comrades, fellow trainees, and soldiers push themselves to the very edge and beyond to fight the titans, all for the sake of something called freedom. I know I don’t have the right to call them my “friends,” but if there’s anything you’re going to remember in this letter, it’s this: these past years have been the happiest years of my life. One of the best things that had ever happened to me was being able to meet everyone. All those adventures we had; the late night discussions, games, training, horse-riding, and pranks we pulled- I treasure every single moment of it. My identity and everything may have been a lie, but the happiness and joy I felt during this time were genuine- along with the guilt and shame. Not only that, but I’m glad I was able to meet you especially. Even if it was all a farce, I was truly proud to have trained and fought alongside with you, and to have been your friend. Sometimes, I catch myself thinking that maybe we could’ve been more than that, but I know that’s not possible now. But it doesn’t stop me from wishing.
Every day, I wake up and wish I wasn’t the Colossal Titan, and that I could live a normal and happy life, like in those fairy tales. But I’ve got no choice. I wish it could’ve been anyone else, but the world doesn’t work like that. It’s cruel, but someone has to do it.
You look at the letter in your hand, your vision slightly blurry and unfocused. You stare at the words, but not really seeing or reading them. You don’t need to; you can still envision them in your head and hear Bertholdt’s voice, almost as if he’s reading out the letter to you.
You stand up and walk over to the fireplace. Standing in front of the fireplace, you hesitate, and then gently release the letter into the fire. The paper begins to blacken as the flames dance along the edges. Holes appear, burning through the words and spreading through the page like a wildfire. The ink fades, and everything turns into an illegible mess. Within minutes, nothing remains except for ashes.
I’m sorry too, Bertholdt.