A/N: This fic is dedicated to the lovely anon who planted plot bunnies in my mind over in Tumblr. May he or she enjoy :D
"Oh my God, Guys! Guys! I told you it would totally pay off for us to send Jellal on a goose-chase to Magnolia today! Best! Christmas! Ever!" Meredy declared, bouncing in a completely hyper fashion as she and her guild-mates spied on Jellal from an alley, watching it as he offered his winter coat to the naked, drunk girl he just happened to worship.
"I don't see what's so good about it," Erik declared, unimpressed. "His mind is filthy right now. I want to hurl."
"Oh, don't be like that!"
"Why is she naked?" Macbeth pointed out, wrinkling his nose in mild disgust.
Sawyer nodded as well. "That's a good question. I thought getting naked was the blonde's thing. She's the one with the fame."
"Apparently, it's everyone's thing," Sorano remarked, rolling her eyes. "Honestly, I still can't see what's so special about this guild… They're all really just a bunch of glorified perverts with a lot of luck."
"Sorano, dear, don't be like that. They have a lot of heart," Richard told her.
"Shhh!" Meredy shushed them. "Look at that! Look. At. That! He has his arm around her waist! I repeat Jellal has his arm around her waist! I can't believe he's being so forward."
"You would if you could hear what he's thinking," Erik told her before making a sound of disgust.
"Nonsense… Titania is clearly intoxicated. Our leader is only being a gentleman by helping her walk steadily in her current state," Richard stated.
"Don't ever use the word 'gentleman' when referring to that guy," the Poison Dragon Slayer hissed. "He might look composed right now, but he's actually counting how many centimeters come between where his hand his resting and her assets."
"Yeah, and mentally hitting himself every time the thought crosses his mind, right? You know he would never feel up a drunk woman!" Meredy defended him.
"That doesn't erase the thought itself!"
"Why am I here? It's already far past my bedtime," Macbeth mumbled. "I cannot afford to lose this amount of sleep."
Sorano huffed. "Oh, cry me a river. Go nap on top of that dumpster or something."
"Hmm… I might just do that." And so, he retreated away from the group, approaching the dumpster in order to inspect the potential comfort it offered. He had just decided that it would fit the purpose when a door at the end of the alley opened up and someone came out. A familiar someone. A Fairy Tail someone.
"Er… hello?" the girl in question said.
Everyone turned around at once.
"Oh, hi!" Meredy greeted.
"Yo," Racer added.
"Ah, look Erik, it's your pet-turned-girl," Sorano stated.
Erik rolled his eyes. "Cubellios," he acknowledged.
"Kinana," she corrected.
"Kina," he corrected himself.
"Hmm… so, what are you guys doing here?"
Meredy chuckled nervously. "Oh, you know. Chasing evil."
"This place stunk of it… shame on you, morons, not even keeping your backyard clean," Sorano commented.
"Oh, that is… alarming. Maybe you should let the Master know. Once he sobers up, at least… we have hot chocolate inside if you wouldn't mind waiting," the girl offered before turning to Erik in specific. "We are out of pest-poisons, but I think there's some drain cleaner, if you want…" she said, knowing his particular type of Dragon Slayer Magic favored that sort of drink.
"Meh… it'll do," he said with a shrug.
"Hot chocolate would be lovely in this cold weather," Richard remarked
"Now, where the hell is Macbeth?" Racer asked.
"Went in ten seconds ago. He's probably already looking for a bed in there," Sorano supplied.
"Oh, for god's sake…" he said, going after him.
Meredy, however, did not look happy with the arrangement. "Wait, you guys! Are you forgetting our mission?! We're supposed to be keeping an eye on… oh, never mind, they're gone. Damn it! You guys distracted me!"
"Oh, you lost the shady characters?" Kinana asked.
Erik snorted. "You have no idea. Forget about it, Pinkie. It was a stupid mission to begin with."
"Was not! Don't diss the mission, Erik. A happy leader leads to a happy team!"
"Speak for yourself – I'm not happy listening to him being a pervert!"
Meredy narrowed her eyes, feeling a tad petty. "Given the current company, I bet your thoughts aren't that much better right now," she spat back.
And because she was in a particularly nasty mood, she swooped forward and laced her arm with Kinana's dragging her inside along with her. "So, Kina-chan, is it? You've got to tell me everything about your time with Erik here. You were his prized pet, weren't you? I'm told you did everything together… which means you must know everything. Especially the dirty."
"Hey, what the fuck?! Get away from her!"
"Goddamn you, I will!"
The smell of the coat was actually more intoxicating that the alcohol itself. It had her missing steps as her mind fluttered. In fact, it wasn't just the smell… it was the knowledge that she was wearing Jellal's coat and absolutely nothing underneath.
That felt… naughty. So naughty.
"Careful, Erza," Jellal said, securing her just as she tripped over her own feet. "Wow, that must have been some party."
"'Twas okay… could have done without Wendy getting topless…"
"Wendy?!" he asked, mildly horrified. "Did she drink too?"
"Maybe. Probably." For a moment, she paused, absent-minded. "That was probably a bad idea."
"Yes. Very much so," Jellal stressed. "Erza, I know you may not remember this later, but if you do, please promise that you won't let Wendy drink again until she's of age."
Erza nodded dramatically. "Noted. Wendy… no more drinking… only solids from now on."
"What? No! I mean alcoholic beverages, not liquids in general!" he said in alarm.
"Right, that too."
"No, Erza, not 'that too'. That only," he stated before letting out a defeated breath as he saw Fairy Hills at a distance. "Oh, never mind. I'll just send you a note tomorrow…"
Erza just groaned, silently rubbing herself against his side, in a way that had the hairs on the back of his neck standing up. Finding her naked in the streets had been… surprising, to say the least. It had taken every single bit of his self-control for him not to ogle her and instead treat her like a gentleman, as she deserved, but his mind did wander… so, so shamefully. Because his coat might cover the visual evidence, but nothing would erase the image from his mind… not that it was the first time he saw it, given the incident at the water park.
When they reached the front gates of the girl's dormitory, he sighed, partially relieved that he had been able to behave properly all the way from downtown to her home. Now, he supposed, his torment would be over, although it saddened him – selfishly – to part ways with her again.
"Well," he started to say, pausing his stride. "I guess this is where we say goodb… Erza, what on Earthland are you doing?" he all-but-shrieked as she grabbed him by the sleeve and practically dragged him towards the front door.
"You're coming in."
"But… I thought no males were allowed in this place," he said, confused.
Were she any less intoxicated, Erza might have questioned why Jellal was so intimately acquainted with the inner rules of her dorm. "They are not… but the enforcer if too drunk to…" she huccuped "… enforce."
"Oh," he mumbled. "Still… maybe it's not a very good idea for me to…"
"Shush," she ordered him. "I… cannot in good con… consh… cons-ci-ence," she said, struggling with the word (as well as the keys she had pulled out of somewhere, as she tried to open the front door), "let you spend the night outside without a proper coat."
"Oh, so you're just going to change into something else?"
She looked away from the lock, shooting him a strange look. "No, silly, I'm making you spend it inside."
His eyes widened. "What?! You mean… here?"
She nodded, finally managing to get the door open. "Where else?"
… and he was being pulled again, that time across the entrance hall, along a hallway, up the stairs and along yet another hallway. By the time he crossed the door of what he assumed to be her room, he was basically resigned to the fact that he was going to spend the night under that roof, like it or not.
"So, then," he started, "do you have a sofa?"
She nodded. "I have several. I also have chairs… and rugs… and nightstands… and…" It went on. For some reason, she found it fitting to list down every piece of furniture she owned while in the process of dragging him from one end of her rooms to the other.
Rooms. Plural – Jellal couldn't help but note that. Together, they formed a humongous space filled not just with the furniture she was listing, but also with armor. A lot of armor. Armor that apparently she kept on display. It was surprising and yet not at all, just like everything about Erza.
Her bedroom – the one that actually contained her bed (also huge) – was located at the very end of the long string of rooms. It was nice. Fairly girly, actually, and Jellal was glad, because nothing made him happier than knowing that Erza had a nice place to call home.
"… and I have a bed too," Erza went on to finish her list. "Actually, I have two but the other one is in the attic because I got a new one when I learned that Heart Kreuz made beds too. It's very comfortable. You can take that side."
He blinked. Wait, what? "You mean… you want me to sleep on the bed?!"
She nodded. "You take one side. I take the other."
"What? But Erza… I can't do that!"
She pouted. "Why not? It's big enough."
"It is not a matter of size it's… propriety…"
"Property? Don't be silly, Jellal. I told you it's mine!"
"No! Propriety, Erza, not property. It… it's just not proper for a man and a woman to share a bed."
The redhead gave him a look. "We did it all the time when we were little."
"Yes, but we were… little," he pointed out. And they had no other choice back then, really.
"I sleep in Natsu and Gray's bed sometimes when we're on jobs," she added.
His eyes widened. "What?!"
She shrugged. "It's just practical. Natsu is naturally warm, so when it's cold and the room has no heating, he makes for quite the nightly furnace. Same goes for Gray when it's too hot – his ice-magic makes him naturally cold. When the temperature is ideal, I just crawl into Lucy's bed. Her body temperature is fairly neutral."
Jellal covered his face. Why did he wish he did not know that? "Erza… I should really take the sofa."
She pouted. "But why? Don't you want to stay with me?"
"I…" He did. He really did. But it was wrong – so wrong. "Erza. You're drunk. You don't know what you're asking me."
"I am only asking you to stay. It doesn't matter if I drunk a little too much…"
"… but of course it does, Erza!"
"… because drunk or not, I've always wished for your face to be the first thing I saw on Christmas Morning."
For a moment, he was silent, taking in the words. And then… "Always?"
She nodded. "The Master spoke a lot about Christmas Miracles to give us hope… so when I thought you'd gone bad, I'd wish one of those would happen and bring you to me on Christmas. As yourself."
He didn't know what to say. He really… "Erza…"
She looked down, that time more pleading than pushing. "Please, stay."
And that time, as he heard her voice, small, like a child's, he didn't have it in him to refuse her. He sighed. "Come on. You should get to bed."
He nodded. "I'm staying," he said. "For now… so, maybe you should change into something more appropriate to wear indoors. Pajamas, maybe."
She shook her head. "I am wearing the coat."
"To bed? Won't you get hot?"
She did not respond, instead heading to the bed and getting under the covers before he could stop her. Jellal could only sigh helplessly at that and then, as quickly as she'd gotten in bed and hidden under the covers, she was sitting up on it. "What is taking you so long? Get in!"
"Are you really sure I shouldn't take the cou…?"
And get in he did, although he made a point of staying atop the sheet while she lay under it, trying to preserve some of the propriety of the situation.
It didn't work.
Soon, she was all over him, rolling half-on-top of him and using him as a body pillow. He was just starting to panic about how hard that night was going to be when she got a hold of his hand… she then promptly guided it to her head, dropping it atop the red, silky locks.
"Eh?!" he asked in alarm. Was he dreaming? Had he fallen asleep that fast?!
"I know you want to. You like my hair. You used to stroke it all the time at night at the tower, when you thought I was asleep."
He nearly cringed at the thought because, God, had he been missing a sense of personal space at the time…
"Stroke it," she repeated. "I like it when you do."
But he had no right. None whatsoever to even lay a hand on her, let alone her devine strands of hair. "Erza…"
"Shh… just do it. It's Christmas," she said, as if the statement made everything make sense.
"It's Christmas," he repeated. And even though saying it himself really didn't change anything, it somehow made the whole situation feel less… wrong. So, he did as he was told, running his hand softly along her hair and then going back up, doing it again.
She rumbled appreciatively against his chest and soon her breath evened out as the repetitive motion went on and on and on… until he ended up succumbing to sleep himself at some point.
It was the night before Christmas and, turned out, it wouldn't be so hard to live through after all.
The following morning
"You're staying until tomorrow." That was the first thing Erza said once she opened her eyes and found Jellal in bed by her side. Such words were uttered with a blush, her eyes quickly averting his. There was no sign of a hangover on her – it was almost inhumane.
"T-tomorrow?!" he asked in disbelief. "Why?"
"Because it's Christmas today, so all the stores are closed and you're not leaving town until I get you a new coat."
"Can't you just give that one back?"
He blinked. "Why not?"
Finally, her eyes met his, full of determination. "Jellal, you're not getting this coat back. Ever. Forget you have ever owned it."
Again, he blinked. "I see," he finally said because, really, what else could he do?
"Good," she mumbled, suddenly blushing, embarrassed all over again. "M-merry Christmas, Jellal."
He sighed and then smiled because, really, who was he fooling? He was nothing if not glad to be where he was. "Merry Christmas, Erza."