I Won't Marry You
Erza's eyes nearly popped out of their sockets after the proposal she had received from the blue haired man, who was still on his knee just ahead of her. At first, her initial thought was that this was all part of a dream, so she went forth and pinched herself lightly on her cheek. The small sting reminded her that all that had transpired had been real, as was the reality that the silence that hung low in the air was a form of asking her to respond to the situation.
"Jellal, I-"the words came out in a voice that did not sound her own. Never before in her life had she expected to receive a marriage proposal from Jellal, much less in such a lavish setting. While she did have the truth of the matter of his feelings for her regarding their near kiss in the forest earlier, she still felt that it was a tad too early to be discussing marriage with him. Besides, a small part of her thought, after she stopped the kiss prematurely, shouldn't Jellal have a hint of what she felt regarding him?
"I've been thinking about this for a while, Erza," Jellal's words invaded the plethora of thoughts currently swirling in her mind, momentarily robbing Erza of the ability to continue voicing her protests. "I was unsure whether it was the right thing to do, with all that had happened between us. But, after seeing you after all those seven years made me realize just how empty my life is without you,"Jellal continued, and Erza took note of the fact that he was not looking at her as he lay his heart out for her. His gaze was to his side, a slightly guilty look in his eyes, giving Erza the impression that he was talking to himself more than her. It made the situation more awkward.
His gaze returned to her once more, "I guess what I'm saying is that I want you to be part of my life, as I will be in yours," he concluded, this time making sure his eyes never trailed from her. Erza shifted nervously in her seat as she tried to steady her nerves, an attempt that was clearly not bearing any success so far.
Jellal's words cleared up some of the doubts she had in her mind regarding the entire matter, though somewhere in her there was still a feeling of hesitation. She rubbed her arm with her hand in her current state of confusion, this time being the one to avert her gaze from the other as she was finding it increasingly hard to maintain eye contact with the blue haired man. She found his words touching, and could feel the complete sincerity brimming out of them, which served to make it harder on her to give him an answer. Her earlier resolve was beginning to crumble, and she found herself swaying in a positive direction to Jellal's words.
A memory prodded at her from within her maelstrom of thoughts, carrying with it a flash of pink. Natsu's smile. It helped to calm Erza down, bringing a faint smile to her lips. A second memory then surfaced after the first one, making the red haired girl remember sadly how Natsu had left her alone in the forest without as much as a backward glance at her on their last conversation. It made her heart sink a little. After she had gone all those lengths to show him her affection! There was a stab at her heart, making her feel as if someone had thrust one of her own magical swords through her. The pain brought her to the point of tears, but she did her best to hold them back. It would not do to start bawling her eyes out in front of Jellal, since she did not think it necessary for him to know the inner turmoil she was experiencing at the moment.
With great difficulty, she managed to dull the pain gnawing away at her heart. Once she was sure that she had recomposed herself, she came to a conclusion that her most recent memory regarding the Dragon Slayer was a way of telling her that it was best if she accepted Jellal's proposal. Yes, she thought, this was adding fuel to the fire that had sparked in her heart at that moment, and it was sure to turn out for the best. Slowly, the red haired girl began stretching out her hand to meet Jellal's ready one, which had stayed in mid air for a longer time than she wanted. A pang of guilt struck a chord somewhere in her. The blue haired man saw her hand drawing ever so closer to his, his face brightening up into a smile. Likewise, he stretched out his second hand preparing to garb the ring on her finger, as a mark of their future together….
Erza's hand came to rest tenderly upon Jellal's hand that still had the ring in its hold, causing his heart to nearly stop beating. The elation he had felt earlier ebbed away as soon as it had cropped up in him, giving way to a mixture of shock and confusion. Looking up at the red haired girl from his crouched position on the floor, he found her shaking her head gently, and somewhere inside him, something broke. A stern expression adorned Erza's visage at that point, perhaps the most confident demeanor she had that entire day when talking to Jellal. There was no hint of doubt anywhere in Erza's actions just then. She knew full well that if she smiled at Jellal at that point as if trying to soothe his broken heart, which she had been a cause of, it, would only be more damaging to him. Her resolve was hardened anew, and she wasn't going to look back or bear any more doubts.
"Jellal," she started, making sure her tone was as assertive as possible, "I'm really happy that you think of me that way, but well, my feelings for you have sort of…changed." She made sure to put emphasis on the last part of the statement so that Jellal would not gloss over things again. "They aren't like they were in the past."
"What…do you mean by that, Erza?" Jellal asks in a hollow tone, although he had figured what Erza would say next. After he had put all that effort into separating Erza from the pink haired man, he still had part of her heart. The mere realization of that vexed the blue haired man, however, seconds later a second feeling sprung up in him, realizing it to be sadness. He was saddened more than it made him angry.
Erza closed her eyes briefly at his question, trying to recompose her thoughts, and then opened them up a fraction of a second later," In the past, well, I would have leapt into your arms at your proposal," this sent a flicker of hope up in Jellal, for some reason he did not understand, and he hoped against hope that somewhere in her, she still felt the same way as she did in the past. It wasn't wrong to hope, was it? She continued," I did feel the same way for you as you felt for me, or rather you still do, but right now, it's not the same feeling. It's a different kind of love, I guess. My heart belongs to someone else."
And just like that, Jellal's whole world came crashing down on him. He had lost count of the number of times that day alone that Erza had done that to him, filling him with hope then violently snatching that away mere moment later. He felt like crying, as he gritted his teeth in a mixture of anger and agony.
Yes, Erza thought, as she regarded the man before her, this is for the best. Jellal's somber expression at that point did nothing to dull her intentions. Being candid with herself, plus with Jellal and Natsu, was definitely the best decision she had made that entire day. It was by no means easy, she reflected, but perhaps that alone made it worth it.
From the moment that last memory with Natsu hit her, Erza realized just how much she loved the pink haired man. She was slightly aware of it before, but somehow that memory alone carried an entire plethora of emotions that she had been stranger to. Accepting Jellal's proposal just because he had left her with a broken heart might have served to soothe her pain at the moment, with the prospect of brighter days in future, but that in it would be a lie to her heart. Natsu was the one who her heart yearned for, the one who she knew she would be happiest with for the rest of her life. Of course there were going to be times when they hurt each other, but wasn't that what love was about?
Getting up without a further word from her seat, Erza decided that the next thing she needed to do was go and see the Natsu to set things right with him, no matter how stubborn he would act, or how tough it would be on her part. Her sudden action surprised Jellal, but at that moment, acknowledging his own loss in the matter, he would do nothing to hinder her actions. The blue haired man had both his hands resting weakly at his sides, merely watching Erza. The red haired woman bowed curtly before him, mouthing a quick apology, adding a 'Thank You' at the end. She then rushed towards the door, her spirits set aflame by her new convictions, and a broad smile slowly worming its way onto her face. Her hair fell across her face as she neared the door, covering the gleam her eyes shone with, and she swung the door open….
A sound so near she could have reached out to see who it sourced from rung in her ears, taking her slightly aback, before the sound was trailed by a mass of pink hair which crossed her path of vision for a split second. A great force rammed into her torso, knocking the wind out of her, and the next thing Erza knew, her head was on the floor, throbbing with pain where she had fallen. The earlier impact still had her in a daze, and she struggled to regain control of her senses.
"That looks like it really hurts," a concerned voice spoke up a few paces outside the door, belonging to a certain pink haired girl.
Ultear merely smirked in amusement, a hand laid on her waist. "See what happens when you don't slow down? You nearly tore the door down, Natsu!" The dark haired woman reprimanded the pink haired man, but she could not hide the sign of amusement in her voice.
On the floor, the word Natsu rung in Erza's ears, and she remembered the flash of pink she had seen before she was floored unceremoniously, causing her heart to skip a beat. She struggled to refocus her sight before her, and a familiar silhouette appeared before her eyes. She could feel two strong arms on her shoulders, shaking her slightly. "Erza! Are you alright?!" Natsu asked desperately, blocking out her view of anything else and a worried look etched on his face. Erza thought it was cute.
A giggle erupted from her mouth, followed by a low laugh, and moments later a series of laughs came out of her, befuddling Natsu and the two girls behind him. He tipped his head curiously to the side, withdrawing his arms from Erza's shoulders and folding them across his chest. He sat next to the girl, curiously watching her. For a few seconds no one said anything in the room, all of them seemingly endorsed by the red haired girl's laugh. Once the giggles had died down, Natsu neared her face again, asking hesitantly," E-Erza? Is everything okay?"
She shifted her gaze away from the sky to the pink haired man seated next to her. She smiled at him gently," It's perfect. But it is kind of ironic, I guess. Here I was dead set on going to look for you, but you come crashing into me."
Natsu's cheeks turned a faint shade of crimson at that, and he averted his gaze away from Erza, scratching his cheek playfully. He closed his eyes in a show of embarrassment," W-what a coincidence. I-I was looking for you too." The words came out in a rush, making Erza smile in amusement.
Behind Natsu, the duo of Crime Sorciere's women approached their third member, but there was a menacing aura around the dark haired Time Mage. Meredy was the first one to speak up to the blue haired man," Jellal, how could you leave without even saying a single word? We were so worried!" Her voice was laden with happiness at having finally found the man.
Ultear, on the other hand, was not as nice as Meredy. Her eyes were gleaming with irritation, and wordlessly, she grabbed Jellal by his head and placed him under her arm. The force nearly ripped his hair from his head. He winced slightly, but the Time Mage was not quite done yet, as she proceeded to nudge the top of his head repeatedly with her hand. Meredy was slightly scared after seeing this side of her foster mother, and she made a mental note never to take leave without informing her in advance. Once Ultear was done with nudging the top of his head, leaving it sore with pain, she dragged him by the back of his shirt then walked to the entrance of the wooden cabin.
Jellal realized a moment later that they were heading outside, and moved to protest immediately," Wait! This is my house, Ultear! You can't just take me out like this!" Ultear cast a backwards glance at him, her expression one of boredom. "I can, and I will. That's what you get for taking off on your own." Meredy followed her two guild mates outside shortly after. Once the trio were outside and well within ear shot of Natsu and Erza who were still within the house, Ultear released the blue haired man, who spoke up once again to her. This time, however, there was a tone of resignation in his voice.
"Heeh, I guess you guys were right after all," he stated to both his female counterparts, catching them by surprise. Ultear arched her eyebrows. "I wasn't able to bring Erza here," he continued in a despondent manner, realization finally dawning on the two females. Meredy regarded the man somberly, a downcast look on her face. She did not know what to say. Ultear seemed to, however, owing to how she tapped him on the back, and then told him, this time in a motherly tone," Don't worry about it. You still have us, right?" This brought a heartwarming smile to the pink haired girl's face.
Natsu and Erza
Inside the house, the air was still silent in the wake of Crime Sorciere's temporary leave, its current inhabitants now gripped with tension. They had no idea how to come to terms with what they had resolved on moments earlier, something which made the situation grow increasingly awkward. Resolving to do it was one thing, but at that moment, Natsu and Erza realized how going through with something you had resolved upon was a completely different thing altogether.
The Dragon Slayer broke the ice first," Look, Erza, I'm sorry about everything today. I should have talked properly with you and not jumped to conclusions or run away like I did. Even earlier in the evening, I shouldn't have stormed off without saying anything to you. Really, I'm so sorry I put you through all that." His voice was close to breaking, something which Erza noted with shock and spurned her to play her part too. The somber expression on his face nearly broke her. Here Natsu was, trying his best to amend things with her, and she was still wishy washy over what she had resolved on doing earlier.
The red haired woman cleared her throat brusquely, before speaking up herself, "Natsu, you don't need to apologize. I kind of brought that on myself, I guess. I'm the one who should be sorry, since you saw me and Jellal like that in the first place, but well, if it helps any, I didn't actually kiss him. I stopped halfway."
The Dragon Slayer's eyes grew to the size of bulbs. His mouth was agape with shock, a small gaps escaping momentarily. "Really?" He asked in a faint voice, although he was not sure what exactly he was trying to confirm by asking that. Erza had always been honest with him, right? And true to that, she nodded in affirmation to his question. Natsu beamed with happiness, his familiar grin breaking out on his face and directed at the red haired beauty. At that moment, he felt as though a great weight had been taken of his heart, and he felt as if he was about to explode with joy. He held in the ecstasy that had just overwhelmed him. It turned out to be the right choice, as a moment later, he made out a shade of crimson on Erza's cheeks. He wondered what had brought that on.
"What's wrong? Your face is all red, Erza."
She spoke up in a bit of a raised tone," Well, I just realized you're the only person I've kissed today. That was my first kiss. Remembering that embarrassed me a little, is all." She then placed a hand on her forehead as she tried to calm herself, but the blush on her cheeks only grew deeper and deeper.
Natsu's arched an eyebrow in surprise once more, but once the full brunt of what Erza said hit him, he raised his hands in the air in celebration. This time, it was his turn to break into a fit of laughter, and funny enough, his reaction mirrored Erza's, at first only a giggle before it grew into full blown laughter. His spasms of joy at the moment were eerily similar to that of a kid upon receiving a Christmas present that he deemed was from Santa. Erza realized his gesture was only serving to embarrass her more, so she told him in a flustered tone to stop.
That did the trick; however, Natsu had fallen into a queer silence next. He paused momentarily, but the next time he moved, he placed his arms on Erza's arms on her position on the floor. He surrounded her on both sides, strangely reminding the red haired girl of what Jellal had done to her earlier that day. This time though, her heart was beating erratically in her chest and there were butterflies fluttering violently in her stomach. Her body fidgeted weakly under Natsu's firm hold, and the blush on her face deepened, but she was unable to do anything to hide it from the pink haired man's sight.
"What…what are you doing so suddenly?" She asked him in a more flustered tone, but somehow she already knew what was about to happen next.
"Is it okay if we finish on what we started last time?" Natsu asked, catching Erza completely off guard.
"Eh?" These were the only words that escaped the girl's mouth, before she found her lips captured by his once more in a kiss that was like none she had ever experienced before in her life. Not that she had much kissing experience though. Natsu took her slight gasp then as a sign of affirmation, and from the second kiss he had shared with her that day, Erza managed to gasp momentarily in shock, her breath caught short in her chest. She then allowed herself to be taken by him, her heart now beating maddeningly within her chest as if trying to find a way to escape her ribcage and break out of her body. Unlike the last time she kissed Natsu, however, this time she could feel the love and passion from his lips, filling her mouth with hotness she did not mind and dangerously making her ask for more. At some point or another, Natsu had released the woman's hands, and Erza did not waste the opportunity to enclose her arms around his neck to pull him closer, her legs wrapping around his waist to meld their bodies together.
After 5 or so minutes of nothing but lip-locking between the two, Natsu finally broke free of Erza's lips for his first breath of air. There was a thin film of perspiration on her skin from the heat of their contact, and Erza was breathing a bit heavily as she tried to steady her breath in her chest. The pink haired man looked at her, before asking her in a curious tone, "Ne, Erza, I've been wondering about this for a while, but what did Jellal tell you when he brought you here?" It was something that bothered him ever since he had set out with Meredy and Ultear to search for her, as he had figured that if Jellal went to all the trouble of bringing her all this way, there was certainly a good reason for that.
"He asked me to marry him," Erza replied in a nonchalant manner, having been able to regain her breath.
Natsu was mildly surprised, although he guessed it was probably something of that magnitude," What did you tell him?"
A smirk appeared on the red haired girl's mouth, as she realized the current opportunity was a golden chance," Why, I told him yes, of course!"
Natsu's mouth fell wide in shock. He stared at the red haired knight disbelievingly, lost for words. Erza, taking note of his action just then, could not help herself. She broke out into a fit of laughter, confusing Natsu this time. She punched him lightly on the arm once she had regained her usual façade, then said in a hearty voice," Idiot, I'm only joking you know. And what was with that face just then? Don't tell me, you wanted to do the honors yourself?" A cheeky smile was present on her face at the moment, and she proceeded to pull at his scarf playfully on both ends.
"No." The response came out curtly.
Erza was the one to be shocked this time, staring shockingly at the Dragon Slayer instead. There was a stern expression on his face, but moments later, it melted into one of his usual happy expressions.
"But I'll think about it in the next five years or so. First, we need to properly date, right?"
Erza beat at his chest with her hands.
A/N: This comes a bit earlier than I intended, but well, there's no harm in it, right? That's the end of the ride folks, and I hope that all's well that ends well. Thank you so much for taking time to read this story and enjoy it, it really means a lot to see all the reviews, followers and favorites so far. You guys rule!
PS: On a more personal note, damn it Mashima stop toying with my heart like that. Dishing out more feels with Zeref's and Mavis's story on Monday's chapter, keep this up and I might just need a heart transplant yo! Let me just express how much I love Fairy Tail too on this personal note, because honestly this series is just amazing. The best thing is that it just keeps getting better and better with each story arc and each chapter, so this series comes as a blessing to me. Thank you, Hiro Mashima!
'It's the first time I've loved anyone this much too'- Zeref Dragneel.