A/N: Last year for Gruvia week I wrote several small fics for each prompt. This year, I wrote one fic that vaguely incorporates most of the prompts. So, essentially, I'm cheating haha. I do hope you guys enjoy it, though, because I did try my best. ^_^
Dreams And Nightmares
It was just after midnight on a Tuesday, and Juvia lay awake in her bedroom contemplating the past three months. Even though Gray and herself had been living together for so many weeks, the time itself seemed to have flown by. Juvia wished she could clasp their time together in her hands, and bottle it, so that she'd be able to relive their moments together over and over again whenever she wished. Unfortunately, of course, this wasn't an option, and so Juvia had to savor every moment as it happened, and fix it in her memory as best as she could. Thankfully, Juvia had an excellent memory, and most especially when it came to Gray.
Juvia remembered every brush of Gray's skin against her own during their invigorating training sessions. She remembered every smile Gray gave her as they sat together many a night planning out their next day's itinerary. She remembered every satisfied sound he made as he enjoyed the meals she cooked for them. She cherished their celebratory drinking sessions whenever they returned from a successful job. And most importantly she would never forget the day that Gray had suggested they settle down together in the first place.
They were making their way back to Magnolia from Gray's old hometown. There was an awkwardness, and yet also a sense of understanding between them, as they had just shared such an intimate moment in that snowy, desolate town which had held so many memories, both happy and traumatic, for Gray. Juvia could recall passing through a charming village containing quaint wooden houses with straw-covered roofs, and flowers spilling over every other windowsill they passed, and how taken she had been with it. Juvia had mentioned to Gray at the time, that if the season of spring had materialized into an actual location, this is what she imagined it would look like. It was obvious that she really adored the place as they had stopped to have a quick meal, and spoke to some of the friendly locals. Juvia and Gray had both blushed fiercely when a flower merchant passed their table with a basket of freshly cut blooms, and asked Gray if he fancied buying a rose for his girlfriend, in order to make sure her lovely smile remained in place. Sadly, Gray did correct the man about their relationship, but to Juvia's great pleasure, he bought the rose for her anyway, and she happily wore it in her hair for the rest of the day.
As they moved on from the tiny village, they happened across Cana, who told them the news of Fairy Tail's disbandment. Neither Gray nor Juvia believed it at first, sure that the often intoxicated woman was just pulling their leg, until Cana showed them that her Fairy Tail guild mark, which used to reside on her abdomen, was no more. At this, they realized Cana's news was not a joke after all, and they made their way towards a nearby city for a drink, and to hear more about the dissolution of their guild.
After Cana had shared all she knew, they parted ways. Cana bid farewell by advising them to have fun, but to use protection, with a hearty grin and suggestive wink at a flustered Gray. Juvia mentally thanked Cana for her support as Gray had yelled after her, because she had run up a tab at the bar, and landed them with the bill.
When Juvia had finally realized that Cana had indeed been telling the truth about Fairy Tail disbanding, she had a flashback to her past guild Phantom Lord when it had been dissolved by the Magic Council. Back then, Juvia had felt a sense of relief and freedom. Her life amongst the rain clouds had finally come to an end, and she was introduced to the light at last thanks to Gray. So it very much seemed to her that she was being handed a fresh start. This time, however, she felt as if her home and her family had just been snatched out from under her. It was a scary feeling, and one made even scarier by the inevitable parting she'd soon need to make from the only person who was still left beside her - her most important person of all.
Realizing that there was little point heading back to Magnolia now, as neither Fairy Hills, nor Gray's house existed anymore, and their friends had likely scattered, they settled down in a hotel for the night to discuss their plans as to what they should do next, and where to go.
Juvia would be lying if she had said the thought of staying with Gray hadn't crossed her mind. Juvia thought about it every day since she had met him. Marrying Gray, having a home with Gray, having children with Gray, having a life with Gray, and doing everything together were things she had always hoped for, but she never thought that several of those wishes were about to come true that very night.
Juvia remembered doing her best at the time to stop herself from pleading with Gray to let her stay by his side, although she was sure during their talk it became very obvious that she truly had no idea where she would go now, and that the person she wanted to be with the most was him. The sound of Gray's father's voice flooded through her mind, as he requested she take care of his son. But, Juvia resisted the urge to relay this promise at that point. She did not want to remind Gray of the loss of his father again.
And yet, during a lull in the conversation, Gray had suddenly looked very seriously into her eyes, and then to the flower which still resided in her hair. His face had been a mixture of conviction, a touch of nerves, and something else Juvia couldn't quite place. But Juvia had felt an intense sense of earnest affection coming from him when Gray next spoke. He proposed that they go back to the tiny village they had passed through earlier that day, and make themselves a place there for the time being.
Juvia's face must have shown her utter astonishment and intense joy at this proposition, and perhaps also some unintended implications, for Gray had quickly blushed and rushed on that it was only a temporary situation. He had said it would be mostly for convenience's sake, since he needed to focus on training anyway in order to be ready to face END. he also made the point that it would be cheaper and easier to just stay in one place to do so, rather than traipsing around the country having to pay for room and board every night. Plus, he needed a training partner, and Juvia and himself worked well together, so they could help each other out. Juvia had enthusiastically agreed to Gray's invitation. They would be skipping the marriage and children for the moment, but perhaps those things, too would happen eventually in this exciting scenario.
They pooled their savings, and talked to the village's leader, a kind and elderly man, who gave them permission to build a home within the small village's borders. Juvia had never been happier constructing their new place together with the man she loved. Every wooden board, and every patch of earth on that bit of land they now owned was special to her, because it was not hers or his, but theirs. And even though Gray had said this situation would only be temporary, days and weeks had passed without Gray ever bringing up an alternative to their current living situation, and Juvia was certainly in no mind to broach the subject herself. She was the most contented she had ever been and wanted to remain that way.
Juvia had learned so much about Gray during the time they had spent thus far together. Every day was a new discovery. She found out Gray despised eggs, but didn't mind them if they were raw in a batter of cake she happened to be making, for he would always settle down with the dirty bowl she had used to mix the ingredients as the rest of it baked in the oven.
She also learned that Gray hated getting haircuts, and would spend the next several days subconsciously pulling down on his front, spiky locks as if trying to make them regrow faster. She'd warn him that he'd end up pulling out what was there, rather than it making any kind of difference in length. But, though he complained, she did glow with pride when he had said it was better than the haircuts he usually got at the local barber in Magnolia.
And she now knew that Gray always slept turned on his left-hand side in bed, which was perfect for Juvia, as he was facing the wall whenever she attempted to crawl in with him. So, it would always take him a while before he'd realize she was there, before making her go back to her own bed. However, before that moment came, she couldn't resist cuddling up to him, her hands and forehead resting against the cool, bare skin of his back. She didn't necessarily need for anything more to happen. She just wanted to be close to Gray in this way. It was the most comforting feeling in the world laying there with him, and she always hoped that there would come a night where she'd be allowed to stay.
There was one incident where she thought that time had come at last, for Gray had turned in her direction, and instead of reprimanding her, he had actually held her closer, his face nestling into her hair as he mumbled something she couldn't quite make out. Juvia remained in that position, hardly believing what was happening, until Gray eventually opened his eyes to find himself holding Juvia in his arms. That was the most flustered Juvia had yet seen Gray since they had moved in together, and Juvia had not attempted to join him in his bed after that night. Juvia thought Gray had been more so embarrassed rather than truly angry, for he didn't mention the night's happenings again. Juvia also pretended it hadn't happened, though from time to time, and without her permission, her mind would happily wander back to that moment, and a small smile couldn't help but cross her face.
And it wasn't just Juvia's own observations of Gray which filled her with joy, but Gray, too, was willingly sharing more of himself with her. They often stayed up far too late drinking, as Gray would talk about all kinds of topics she'd never heard him bring up before, including what his mother and father were like, what his old town had been like, his memories of Fairy Tail when he had first joined, and what Natsu and the rest were like when they were kids.
Juvia basked in the knowledge Gray was entrusting her with, because Juvia truly believed that he was not simply talking to her, but also giving a piece of himself to her with each memory he relayed. And soon she'd put all the pieces together, and she'd finally know the true Gray - the one she had gotten a glimpse of on that night in front of his mother and father's grave. That was the first time in which Juvia had seen that raw side of himself, and ever since that moment, she had yearned to see more.
Juvia sighed as she buried herself even deeper into her bedding, thinking about what tomorrow would bring, and what fresh new thing she'd learn, not just about Gray, but about herself, too, and also about what they were like together. For that was the other wonderful thing about their living arrangement, they really did do everything together, and Gray really did seem quite comfortable with that fact. And in Juvia's opinion, that was a big step in the right direction towards something more.
That being said, Juvia suspected Gray's feelings towards her were still platonic. Because, no matter how many hints she dropped, nor how many times she attempted to initiate something more intimate, he'd always take, what she'd call, an emotional step back from the situation. However, it would be untrue to say their relationship was the same as before.
Gray had become far more playful around her. Many a morning as she had just put her hair up in a ponytail in preparation for another day of intense training, Gray would walk by and tug the elastic off so it would all come undone again. He'd grin wickedly at her as he shot the elastic back her way, and wave her off whenever she'd moan her insincere admonishments at him.
He would also tease her about always falling asleep on their couch during their late night chats, and threaten to leave her lying there in a puddle of her own drool if she did it one more time. But, somehow she'd always magically wake up in her bed the next morning anyway.
Gray had also gotten into the terrifying habit of poking Juvia's side just below her ribs ever since he found out during training that she was intensely ticklish in that location. Juvia always had to be on guard, for he would do this at the most inopportune moments. One time she had been standing on a step ladder, and had just finished putting the dishes away in their cupboards, when she was poked, and fell backwards right into Gray's arms. She wanted to yell at him that she could have been seriously injured, but she was too lost in Gray's embrace to care about anything but his arms wrapped around her, and their bodies pressed against each other.
But Gray wasn't the only one who got in some playful ribbing. Juvia surprised herself one night while Gray was telling another story, this time about one of his first days at Fairy Tail, and how there had actually been a party to celebrate one of the guild member's birthdays. Gray had already had a few glasses of wine at this point, and as he got up to mime "dancing" Juvia couldn't help but let out a very audible giggle. Gray had quickly taken affront to her reaction, but Juvia had said through unsuccessfully stifled laughter, that clearly the reason he had always refused to dance with her, was because he just didn't know how. Gray jokingly became quite pouty at this assumption, but Juvia got up off the couch, and showed him how it was done.
They danced around, mostly in jest, as Gray showed her a few of his moves, and she mockingly showed him how silly he looked as she copied him. They laughed a lot that night, but things eventually ended up with Gray and Juvia slow dancing in the silence, their cheeks pressed together, and their bodies engulfed in each other's warmth, as her hand was clasped in his. Unfortunately, that heavenly situation ended abruptly when Gray broke away, while blaming it all on the wine before going off to bed.
However, Juvia couldn't help having a hope that maybe if they went on living like this, one day there might be more than just simple teasing and silly jokes, because every once in a while she swore she caught Gray looking at her, before she'd catch his eyes with her own, and he'd hurriedly turn the other way. And then there were other moments when she'd smile up at him, and he'd seem suddenly flushed. Or maybe it was just her mind doing it's best to fulfill her wishes as usual. These were the times when having an active imagination was a troublesome thing.
She lay on her back, staring at the thatched ceiling, a cool breeze drifting through the open window to her left. She wondered what time it was now, realizing that she had been so deeply lost in thought, that hours may have passed, and she wouldn't have realized it. As she was just about to look at her clock, before seriously trying to get some sleep, she heard a yell coming from within the house. She had heard it quite plainly, and rushed right out of bed without a second thought. It was Gray, and he had yelled her name, she was sure of it.
Terrified that something horrible had happened, she mentally readied herself for a fight. She burst into his bedroom with a purposeful fury in her eyes, and looked around the moonlit room. Nothing at all was stirring except for Gray. He was tossing and turning in his bed, a distressed look on his face. Juvia, her heart full of anxiety, bent low over him. She could have sworn there was a strange marking spreading across his right arm, but now that she looked more closely, she realized that there was nothing there at all. Chalking it up to her paranoia, lack of sleep, and the trick of the shadows within the room, she grasped hold of his arm in order to wake him from whatever dreadful occurrence he was experiencing.
"Juvia, no!" he shouted again in anguish, before Juvia shook him awake.
Gray's eyes flashed open, and he sat up quickly. He looked confused and he was taking long deep breaths. His eyes darted around the room in a panic, as if desperately searching for something.
Juvia sat down beside him, and tried to catch his attention again for it looked like he had not noticed that she was there yet.
"Gray-sama, are you alright?" she asked urgently.
Gray finally turned to her. His eyes were painfully wide, and he simply stared at her, seemingly in shock. Then he slowly reached out to her, cupping her face in his left hand.
Juvia could feel the rough skin of his palm slide across her cheek, but was too shaken to be happy about this gesture. Gray's behavior and silence was scaring her. His hand was trembling, and she put her own hand over his on her face, in order to steady him.
"You're here," he gasped in a hoarse voice.
"Yes, Juvia is here, Gray-sama," she assured him. Juvia thought Gray might still be a bit confused. Having woken up so suddenly perhaps his mind was stuck somewhere between dream and reality. But she could tell he was properly coming to now, as she could see it in his eyes, which were still focused on her own.
Gray seemed to calm down after this, and he sighed deeply before dropping his hand from her face, and turning away, his arms now resting on his knees, having propped his feet up on the bed.
Neither of them spoke for a few moments, as Gray continued to collect himself. Juvia was the one to interrupt the silence.
"You shouted out Juvia's name in your sleep. Was Gray-sama having a bad dream?" she asked worriedly, her hand reaching out to brush Gray's hair from his face, because the thick, black tendrils were sticking to him due to the thin layer of perspiration coating his skin. She hoped that he would share whatever had caused him to shout out for her in such desperation. Surely whatever it was must have been truly alarming.
Gray looked back at her seriously, as if deliberating something, before replying, "you tried to sneak into my bed again, and wouldn't leave me alone."
There was an accusatory tone in his voice which caused Juvia to flush. "What?! Juvia did not!" she said indignantly.
"I mean," he paused to point at his head, "in my nightmare," he clarified with a grimace.
Juvia turned an even deeper shade of red at this statement and huffed loudly in irritation. "Juvia can't help what happens in Gray-sama's dream." Juvia felt both annoyed and a little ashamed that her nighttime attempts had invaded Gray's dream, to the point that he was being negatively affected by them.
"And yet, you're in my bed again, " he pointed out dryly.
Juvia jumped up from the bed, still blushing. "Juvia just came in to see if Gray-sama was ok, that's all."
"Uh-huh," Gray said, clearly having calmed down entirely, as he brushed off her defensive statements with a doubtful air.
"Oh!" Juvia said in embarrassed frustration. "Fine, Juvia is going back to bed!" She turned on her heels and began to practically stomp back to her bedroom, before Gray called out to her.
Juvia turned back with a prickle of irritation at what Gray might say next. She didn't know if she wanted to hear anymore about her dream-self's violations. But, surprisingly she was met with a very vulnerable expression from Gray instead.
"Promise that you'll never leave me behind." HIs voice was steady, but so low Juvia was thankful that the silence of the night was their only companion, otherwise she may never have heard the request at all.
Juvia was stunned for a moment, unsure of what brought such a statement on. There was no situation in which Juvia would ever leave Gray of all people behind. Surely Gray knew this well. But, why then did he look so lost and defenseless at that moment?
"Of course Juvia would never leave you, Gray-sama," she said earnestly, her brow knitted in confusion.
Somehow he didn't look entirely placated by her reply, for he eyed her searchingly, as if trying to uncover a crack in her sincerity. Perhaps he found none, for he made a satisfied sort of grunt, before lying back in bed and turning on his side once more. She could no longer see his face.
Juvia waited there, watching his figure under the covers for a few minutes, but he didn't stir again, so she went back to her own bed. She looked out of the window as she lay her head against her pillow, and she saw the sky was getting brighter. It'd be dawn soon, and she still hadn't slept one bit that night. She was first kept awake by her own dreams, then by Gray's.
Gray had claimed that in his dream he was dealing with a Juvia trying to sneak into his bed, but his actions before and after this claim didn't add up. Maybe whatever it was that had frightened him, was a piece of himself he still didn't feel comfortable sharing with Juvia just yet. Juvia wondered if the day would come when he'd relinquish this fragment, too? Would this be the most difficult portion to obtain? And what would it take to expose it? After tonight's experience Juvia didn't know if she looked forward to the day that she'd acquire this part of Gray, or if she should dread it. Time would soon tell.
A/N: The six months of Gray and Juvia living together, and which the manga so kindly blessed us with, was clearly ripe for fan fiction. The beauty of the set up, is that Juvia gave us a basic outline of how things were between them, and how things ended, and we get to fill in the blanks. However, I had a very hard time trying to fill in those blanks, because it's important to me to know, not just where Juvia stands, but where Gray stands now in their dynamic. And because we got little, to nothing from Gray in those flashbacks, and are still waiting to see what, if anything, has changed from his side of things, I realized that I can not comfortably write Gray's perspective in this situation. So, I decided to take things from Juvia's POV.
Also, sorry for the super angst-ridden ending. I think we all know where that eventually headed, but in the mean time I'd like to think there was lots more fluff and fun before things took a turn for the worst. And yes, Gray's request of Juvia was purposely ironic, but also justified considering the true context of his dream. ^_~
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my contribution to Gruvia week. Let me know if you liked this story by leaving a review, as each one is a huge help in keeping me motivated, and I love hearing what you guys have to say. ^^ Thanks very much for reading!
P.S. When I first tried to come up with something for the prompts, I could not think of anything for hair. It just stumped me. And yet this fic ended up being mentions of hair, hair, and more hair all over the place. WTH?! LMAO