AN: Just a small One-Shot because I'm still trying to get over this week's chapter.
By My Side
"No, raise your fists higher. Yes, like that." Gray told her when she was finally in the position he wanted her in. "Now separate your feet just a bit more- yes, perfect." He nodded his approval. "Good, that's the stance you need to have if you ever fight an Ice Mage. It grounds you more, gives you better flexibility and widens your movements."
The blunette huffed in annoyance. "Juvia doesn't know why she must know this. She does just fine without it."
"You need to know this because I want you to be ready if you ever fight someone with Ice Magic."
"Juvia can hold her own." She pointed out, their first meeting in both of their minds at the moment. "She gave you quite a run for our money if Juvia remembers correctly."
A bit of amusement appeared in his expression, but as fast as it came, it went away. "Yes, you did." Gray agreed. "But it's been almost ten years in this world and three since we met. People discover new magic and now we know each other, so, if we ever have to fight, we will have doubts. But what if is another person? That's why I'm teaching you how to protect yourself better." He stopped. "Besides, we never know. Maybe you'll need to protect yourself…" He didn't finish the sentence, but both knew where his mind went. The Devil Slayer mark showed up in the most unusual times and for about three seconds, it was as if Gray shot down before waking up again.
It was clear he tried not to fear the mark or to show his true feelings, but Juvia knew he was afraid of it and wanted to prepare for the worst if it ever came.
The tension grew too much and the mood changed. Knowing it would neither of them any good to go down that particularly road then, Juvia tried to diffuse the mood. "What are you talking about? Juvia would never fight Gray-sama. What if you got hurt?" She gasped. "Juvia is way more powerful now than she was when she was at Phantom, you know?" The words had its desired effect and Gray rolled his eyes, trying to fight off a smile. "Besides, Juvia would never fight Gray-sama so seriously she would need to know this stance."
"You never know." Gray shrugged. "What if we don't have a choice."
Juvia shook her head. "Me not fighting wouldn't be a choice, it would be instinct. Juvia could never hurt a friend, and especially not you." She told him, leaving the meaning behind in the air and Gray's cheeks became a lovely shade of pink.
"Yeah, well- If we ever do fight, go for it. Don't make me hurt you." He cleared his throat. "Either way, that's the position you should take. I'll go hunt something for dinner." Gray spoke fast, already walking away, face getting redder by the second. "Just… I… Go inside." Gray pointed to the small cottage and Juvia giggled.
"Juvia will start on dinner then, Gray-sama!"
"You two will now fight to the death. You have zero say in the matter."
The words echoed inside her mind as she protected herself and all she could think about was that quick conversation they had almost a year before, just when they had started living together.
It was so weird to look at Gray and feel nothing. It was a blank, she remembered every single interaction, but whatever sentiment she had for him, was gone. Juvia was completely numb and even though Gray was attacking her, she could see he was holding off, hitting her just a couple of times and not with full strength?
Gray Fullbuster was a much better Mage than that.
Juvia tried her best to use the stance he taught her, and it was effective. She still got hit, but her openings were much smaller, then.
It was as if she was looking at the fight from outside her body, and all she could think was about not fighting? She didn't care either way, but her body urged her to at least move. She wondered what he would do if she died. Why would she care either way? She just didn't want to hurt him. Why would that be?
And… nothing. No feelings, just… emptiness.
All she knew was to not hurt him.
"Fight me!" Gray roared from a few feet away, panting. She could see his struggle to resist and the puppeteer who had placed those chains on them watching from a safe distance. Juvia was sure the white-haired man focused on Gray's mind much more than her, she didn't know why, though. Gray groaned in pain and put a hand on his temple. "Shit." He said, and Juvia knew he was fighting the spell. He looked at her and for just a moment, his eyes were clear. "Kill. Me." He said between gritted teeth. "Don't make me hurt you." Gray yelled in pain, his eyes unfocused as he fell into the spell once again.
Juvia's eyes widened.
There was something inside her chest, some… pulse. It got to her attention between all the dumbness. It was steady and just a small sparkle, but it was there.
"I'm here with you." A voice whispered inside her mind and Juvia breathed hard when the small sparkle grew. "If it's us, we can defeat them." The voice whispered again and Juvia grabbed her head in pain.
Two things happened at the same time: she felt the small steady sparkle change into a flame and for a moment she thought her head exploded with the pain and suddenly all her feelings were back to her, some damped, but there.
It was overwhelming. It was intense. It was painful.
It was beautiful.
"Gray-sama." She panted and he attacked, Juvia quickly move and he missed by just a few inches. "Gray-sama, you have to fight it. Like you just were!"
"No, you have to fight me." He said, attacking her again.
She dodged and used her magic to repel his attacks for a few minutes until they were both breathing hard and taking a moment to restore a bit of their strength.
"I remember my feelings." She told him. "I remember all of it." Gray's expression didn't change at all. "You do too! You are fighting the spell because you know this isn't right!" Juvia's blue eyes teared up. "You know." She whispered the last words.
"All I know is that I need to kill you." Gray said and groaned in pain once again, a hand on his head. "Yes, kill you." He panted.
Juvia shook her head. "No." She knew very well if Gray ever killed her, he would never come back from that darkness. He already overcame Ur's and his father's deaths after flirting with the dark side and if he hurt one of his friends… she wasn't sure he would be able to come back easily. "It would hurt you more than Juvia if you killed me." She told him. "Juvia won't let you kill her and she won't kill you."
Gray all but bared his teeth at her and then grabbed his head again and seeing him hurt made her suffer more than if she were the one in physical pain. He was still fighting inside his head, he was still trying to control himself and she would be damned if she would let him have that fight on his own.
Words seemed to not be enough. And, well, Juvia liked action better either way.
It took her one second to decide her course of action; seeing he was distracted, Juvia took the chance and stepped closer to him, he only realized how close she was when the Water Mage put her hands on his cheeks.
Gray's eyes widened, as if he thought she was going to hurt him (as if it would ever happen) and before he could say or do anything else, Juvia crashed her lips on his.
Maybe there were another path, maybe she could've told him something meaningful to both of them to bring him back, but she was feeling a little daring and maybe a bit greedy. The truth was that she might not get another chance.
'Please, let this work', Juvia thought, trying to pour all of her feelings into that kiss, hoping Gray would come back, that he would remember her. Juvia wasn't even being picky, if he came back and pushed her away, she'd still count as a win.
Gray's hands, that were by his sides in fists, moved to her neck and for one ugly moment Juvia really thought her efforts were in vain and the darkness had consumed him.
He was going to choke her.
And then, something amazing happened.
Instead of stopping around her neck, Gray's hands cupped Juvia's face and his lips actually moved under hers for a few moments before he pulled her away and her heart stopped for a moment when she saw his eyes clear. "Juvia." Gray whispered. "Juvia." He said it again, as if to ground himself.
Despite everything, Juvia smiled through her tears – when did she start to cry that heavily? "Hi, Gray-sama."
"I don't want to hurt you." Gray told her, still in a low voice.
"You won't." She assured him. "We just need to fight it."
"This is pointless." They heard Invel's voice but ignored them, especially when Gray groaned again in pain.
"Gray-sama." Juvia said forcefully. "Look at me." She told him when he closed his eyes. "Look at me!" She commanded and he followed her orders, eyes getting unfocused again but he was clearly fighting. "Our bond can't be destroyed this easily. We won't let it." She rested her forehead on his, one of her hands at the back of his neck and the other on his shoulder.
"We won't let it." He agreed, his hand on her face caressing her cheek.
"Because we know our feelings, Gray-sama." Juvia's words had much more meaning behind than anyone besides them could understand. "Do you understand me? I know, Gray-sama. And you know." She told him. "You know, don't you?"
Gray nodded, his eyes closing and their faces so close their breaths mingled. "I know. I've always known. Do you know? I never said anything, but…"
"Of course I know." Juvia whispered. "We won't take this for granted, Gray-sama. And if we let him make us forget about this, about our feelings, our history, we will be taking it for granted." Gray made a painful face and tried to suppress the moan and Juvia's heart ached again, her tears fell harder. "Please. I don't want to see you hurt. Please, tell me how can Juvia help. What do you need?"
Gray pulled his face away from her for a moment, looked at her and pulled her closer, and that time it was Gray's lips that crashed on hers.
Juvia's first reaction was of surprise, she didn't believe it was happening. Her Gray-sama would never kiss her like that. But there he was, kissing her like they'd never have the chance again and Juvia answered in kind, her whole body on fire, her heart beating like crazy, her hands sweating.
Once they needed air, they interrupted the kiss, but Juvia refused to open her eyes just in case she was dreaming.
"I need you by my side." He told her and only then Juvia opened her eyes, her gaze meeting his and she could see was raw emotion.
"Always." Juvia whispered and Gray nodded and, after hesitating for a moment, released her and he took a step back.
Gray narrowed his eyes and Invel took a step back. "We don't need to kill each other for these chains to break; we just need to defeat you."
"How are you two doing this?" Invel looked surprised and amazed at the same time. "You… cancelled the control magic."
"You picked the wrong people to do this to." Gray said between gritted teeth. "We've been through a lot to just let a spell make us forget. And if I'm defeating END, it will be with my powers, not darkness." Gray positioned himself to attack and Juvia did the same. "You don't understand that we are stronger together. It was your mistake." He said and then, loudly: "Juvia, if I look as if I'm slipping again, wake me up."
"Of course." Juvia nodded, understanding his message.
"Good." Gray said. "Let's show him how strong our bond is."
AN: I want a true love's kiss and I don't care how it happens (as long as both are fine).
08/22/2016 ~ BonneyQ