Lucy was somewhat regretting her recent life choices.
It wasn't that she hated their current mission. Even if none of their team had realised just how BORING a One Hundred Year Quest could be when the reason it was considered so difficult was because no one before them could work out what was causing the problem or how to fix it.
It also wasn't that, after several weeks of sleeping outside, she had insisted on them staying in lodgings with proper walls and a roof for at least three days. Which had merely resulted in having to fend off several pillows to the face when Natsu and Gray had started a fight, trying to sleep through the snores that no one could quite believe came out of Wendy's mouth (until they remembered that she had super powered lungs), and trying to wriggle out of the dogpile of futons that her team had squirmed into overnight. She was still coughing up fur and she wasn't sure if it was Happy's or Carla's.
Nor was it the way that, when the long trek between destinations got too monotonous, her gaze would wander to the way Natsu strolled casually ahead of the group with his hands clasped together behind his head and the muscles in his back shifting with his every step. Knowing that the memories of throwing her arms around him just before this journey started and the way those muscles had felt under her hands was the cause of an almost permanent blush painting her cheeks.
No. The reason for her frustration at herself was exclusively down to her ridiculous, romantic imagination. Her desire to see one of the people she cared about most in the world get a moment of happiness.
She knew that she wouldn't have Angel…no-Sorano…teasing her and asking awkward questions about her spirits, in a way that felt more like an older sister affectionately taunting a sibling than the expected animosity from a former enemy, if she hadn't muttered the fateful words: 'Maybe we should ask Crime Sorciére about the clues we got at the last village'.
Of course, it had actually been a sensible suggestion. Despite their Royal pardon, the Independent Guild was still doing the work they felt they needed to do for their own piece of mind and road to redemption. And their last communications had put them not too far out of the way, so it was likely that Jellal, at least, would have some useful insights into the local area and the mystery they were trying to solve.
Her primary objective, however, was to let Erza and Jellal spend some time together.
She wasn't sure if literally getting her pigtails pulled was worth the polite distance and slight stammering she was currently witnessing. She was pretty sure Erza and Jellal hadn't actually managed to meet each other's gaze for 90% of the conversation, either.
It was rather frustrating to watch and she couldn't help but wish one of them would get the confidence to just throw caution to the wind and grab the other into some sort of passionate embrace.
A small voice in the back of her mind whispered that she was a hypocrite and she had to stop herself from glancing over to where Natsu had gotten into some sort of friendly spar with Erik. Well, as friendly as a fiery poisonous battle could be.
But, still, Erza was always so calm and confident in the face of a challenge. And even though she didn't know Jellal all that well (except for that space of time after Acnologia's defeat when Magnolia had, for a few weeks, been a hive of reconstruction work-slash-parties for everyone involved in the war, and they had spent one particularly interesting afternoon discussing the different ways their magic used the power of the stars) she always thought of him as the sort of man who could stand tall in the face of adversity and face any problems boldly. (Such as when his attempt to teach her meteor had resulted in them apologising profusely to the Master over the build she had levelled by crashing through the walls).
Watching two of the most powerful wizards in Fiore make a hash over reuniting after several months of hushed lacrima calls and moments of desperate longing was almost heartbreaking. Everytime Lucy watched Erza brush her hair with that soft, yearning smile that spoke of just how much Erza missed the man she loved she wanted to cry a little.
And it wasn't like anyone was a stranger to Erza and Jellal's feelings for each other.
Richard was also watching over them with a soft smile on his face and he kept uttering things like 'Ah, true love!'. And Gray kept sneaking glances at them and then absolutely didn't start gently fingering the woven bracelet Juvia had given him before he left with a wistful look on his face. Meredy seemed to simultaneously be trying to keep the conversation between Erza and Jellal going whilst also trying to remove herself from it. And Sawyer and Macbeth seemed to be keeping some kind of score based on how many times Jellal stopped himself from touching Erza or how many times she stopped talking, blushed and then looked away.
'Little Miss Princess, you have a devious look on your face.' Sorano's voice cut through her musing and she was decided.
Muttering the curse word was definitely worth the look on her previous nemesis's face and she took the resulting jolt of pride and turned it into the confidence she needed to stride across the clearing to where the two star-crossed lovers were still slightly pink cheeked and avoiding full eye contact.
But her confidence crumbled into ash when the light, gentle push she placed on Erza's back that was supposed to cause her to softly fall into Jellal's chest (and, hopefully, embrace) instead caused her two unfortunate targets to lose their balance and tumble down the hillside. Lucy definitely had not noticed how steep it was on this side of the clearing.
She was still wide eyed with shock and wondering if she could convince Happy to fly her far, far away from Erza's grasp when she realised that Sorano was cackling beside her, having rushed over to see where Erza and Jellal had fallen to. The rest of the group had gathered, too, even Natsu and Erik having stopped their brawl to see what had caused Erza to shriek like that.
'Lucy, what did you do?' Gray sounded astonished, like he couldn't believe she'd had the nerve to just push Erza down a hillside. Which she very clearly didn't have as she was this close to hyperventilating because Erza was going to KILL HER.
'I just…I mean…' She was pretty sure that her life was flashing before her eyes. 'I just wanted them to have one nice, romantic moment together. Don't they deserve that?' She could tell she was starting to sound pretty manic and she was wondering if hiding behind Wendy would help. Both Erza and Jellal seemed to have a soft spot for Wendy.
But she'd barely had time to look around for Wendy before Happy drew her attention.
'OOOOO…they liiiiiiiike each other!'
She wasn't ashamed to admit that her gaze swung back down towards where Jellal had landed atop Erza at the bottom of the hill. Especially since every other pair of eyes had also zoomed in on the pile of limbs that, now that she thought about it, were slightly more entangled than she expected.
Even Sorano's friendly pat on her back and the whispered 'finally' from Meredy didn't make her tear her gaze away from the way she could see Erza's hand clutching the back of Jellal's head. Or the way they tilted their heads to deepen the kiss that she was very definitely going to turn away from right now. This very minute. As soon as was appropriate. At least before Erza's other hand strayed any further downwards.
Still, she could help the fearful whisper that she directed to the rest of her team, all stood closely enough in order to gape over the side of the hill at the sight below that they could catch her hushed words. 'Do you think she might be in a good enough mood after this to not murder me in my sleep?'