Disclaimer: I don't own Fairy Tail. Obviously.

Authoress' Note: My contribution to Gruvia Week 2018! Please enjoy!

Prompt 1: Promise


"We got permission from the Master to go. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity, literally."

"Juvia understands that, but why can't she go with you, Gray-sama?"

The blunette water mage was upset, very much upset. It had only been a few days after the big award party for Lucy's book, and a few days after her beloved Gray Fullbuster shyly admitted his feelings for her – although she won't deny that she already knew, but just wanted to hear it at last – suddenly Juvia Lockser was standing right outside of the gates to Fairy Hills, trying not to cry at the news Gray dropped on her. He – along with Lucy, Natsu, Erza, Wendy, and the Exceeds – were planning on going on a hundred-year quest, just as Gildarts had done before them, but the permission was given to them and, as far as she knew, them alone. Meaning that, for Juvia, she had to stay behind and that made her chest hurt.

Sheepishly, Gray rubbed the back of his head, ruffling up his ebony hair, "Well, to be honest, I told him that-"

"Juvia will ask the Master herself! She wants to go with you, Gray-sama. And she'd be really good for the team!" she interrupted, stomping off past Gray and towards the guild hall.

"Whoa, hold it!" Gray exclaimed, grabbing at Juvia's arm a few times, each time failing as she pulled away, her steps growing more quick in her emotional resolve.

"Juvia, stop it! Look, I was asked if you would want to be part of it, and I told him no!" the ice mage yelled out, finally making the blunette stop in her tracks.

"... What...?" she whispered breathlessly, not turning around to face her beloved.

Gray sighed, rubbing his head again but in a more frustrated fashion. "The Master asked if I wanted to extend the invitation to you, because he had a feeling that you'd want to go with us, but I told him no," he explained, "I didn't- Wait, Juvia!"

Juvia stomped off again, but this time back towards Fairy Hills, her footsteps loud with anger and leaving behind small trails of tears. She couldn't believe it: Gray didn't want her to go on a mission with him. A once-in-a-lifetime mission, a mission that could potentially have him gone for weeks, months, even years... and he didn't want her by his side. It completely broke her heart, knowing that the one she loved the most didn't even want her next to him.

She could hear Gray yelling out her name, and feel him grabbing at her arm, but she didn't stop. She wanted to go to her apartment, where he wouldn't be allowed to get to her, and just cry herself to sleep forever because maybe in her sleep her chest wouldn't hurt-

"Juvia, just STOP!"

Suddenly, the water mage jolted to a stop, unable to move. She looked down at her feet, seeing that they were covered in ice, cementing her to the walkway. And only steps away from the entryway! At that point though, she couldn't even see it; her eyes were beyond blurry, her throat was aching from holding back her sobs, and her mind was just racing with questions of "why?" and "does he truly love me?"...

Gray stepped in front of Juvia, knowing now that she couldn't run away, placing his hands on her shoulders. "Juvia, let me please explain-"

"How could you, Gray-sama!?" she yelled, her hands balled up into fists and smacking them repeatedly into Gray's chest.

The force of the punches made him step back, "OW! Shit... Juvia! Can you please stop and let me explain!?"

"Juvia thought Gray-sama loved her! She thought you cared for her, and thought you wanted her by your side! But now you'll be leaving her behind to go on a mission, and it's because you said you didn't want her to go! How could you, Gray-sama!? How could you, how could you!?"

She screamed and sobbed as she continued to throw out her punches, some of them connecting but most missing, and Gray couldn't do much to stop her this time. He realized how this had to sound to her, and while he wanted to explain it to her, he knew trying to reason with her with her emotions at such a state was a losing battle. For a few minutes, he stood there, allowing her to vent and cry and let out her energy, hating how hard the hits were on his chest from time to time but didn't do anything to lessen the blows.

Finally, when it seemed like Juvia couldn't yell anymore, she finally stopped, breathing heavily but still crying. "Juvia..." he whispered, grabbing her wrists and unwrapping her fists, moving towards holding her hands, "Can you please listen to me?"

Against her better judgment, but no longer in a position to keep fighting, she nodded her head, looking up at him through tearful azure orbs. Knowing that she was finally going to listen, Gray released the ice around her feet and tightening his grip around her hands. "It's not like I wanted you to not come along. I did. I REALLY did," Gray started to explain, "But... ever since it was brought up, I kept thinking back to Gildarts. What happened to him, what he saw, what he experienced. And it hit me that... what if something terrible as what happened with him happened to any of us? What if that happened to you? It scared me thinking about it."

"But what happened to Gildarts-san was because of Acnologia!"

"Yeah, but what's to say there isn't an enemy out there that could be just as strong as him? We have no idea what this mission is going to entail. We have no idea of the lands we'll go to, the people we'll meet, the magic we'll get involved with. What if we get ourselves into a situation where I couldn't protect you, and you got hurt or even worse... if you were killed."

"Juvia's really strong and Gray-sama knows that! She can protect herself!"

"Yeah, but what if you couldn't? You really want to put me through the same thing that happened when we got caught up in Invel's screwed up game? I can't handle that again, Juvia."

Juvia looked down, at their hands and then at his side where, just hiding under his shirt, was the scar from that day. Her mind flashed an image of her own matching scar, and then she understood. She didn't agree, but understood... Gray-sama loved her, loved her intensely, and because of that love he wanted to make sure that, no matter what, she would be safe. And to stay safe, that meant not allowing her to go on a mission where there was all of the risks and no real knowledge.

"But Gray-sama... what about you? Juvia doesn't want anything terrible happening to you either; she doesn't want you to get hurt or killed for the exact same reasons," she mumbled, her hands shaking beneath his own, "It'll be worse for Juvia, knowing that she'll be here and never knowing when you'll be back... IF you'll be back."

"I will be back."

"But!" Juvia yelled, snapping up her head, "How can you-"

There was a flash of light around her left hand, and suddenly she felt something cold around her ring finger. He removed his hand to reveal a ring of ice around it, complete with a diamond-shape setting. She gasped, looking at it with such awe.

"I know this will melt away eventually, so I'll have to replace it with a better one," the ice mage explained, his cheeks warm with a blush but a smirk across his lips, "But this, Juvia, is why I'll be back. This is my promise to you. Every day I can I'll contact you, and every chance I get I'll return to you."

"... Are you asking Juvia to marry you, Gray-sama?"

"NO! I mean.. I might one day- No, wait, don't start taking that a different way! T-this is just a promise ring! Even though it might be too soon for one because we've only been dating a few days, but we've known each other for so long so I guess it wouldn't be too odd for me to propose to you, but this isn't that, okay? Not yet, but it doesn't mean it's any less of a promise!"

He rambled on a bit, but Juvia stopped listening, her eyes on the icy ring. The tears began to well up again, her body trembled, and her throat got caught up with sobs. Gray noticed this and nearly started to freak out again, only to be startled by her jumping at him, her lips practically attacking his own in a frenzy of emotions. Once he realized what had happened, he tried to return the same affection, although in the back of his mind, he knew that he was no match for the amount of love Juvia had to share.

After a few moments and with the need to take a breath, the two parted ways, still within each others' arms and smiling. Juvia's eyes were still brimmed with some tears, but this time it was from happiness and not anger. The doubt that built up in her heart was gone, and while she didn't still didn't agree with the decision, she understood the choices and knew that, while she had to still worry, it wasn't taking her precious Gray away from her forever. She had his promise around her finger, and now in her heart.

"Juvia loves you, Gray-sama."

"I love you too, Juvia. So... the night is still pretty young. You sure you want to go home yet?"

Quickly the water mage's face turned red, her mind racing with the implications of what he could've meant. "G-gray-sama!" she stammered out.

"Oi, I didn't mean like THAT!" Gray explained quickly, knowing where her mind went, "I meant, is there something more you want to do tonight? I leave out the day after tomorrow, and who knows when I might be back. I want to spend as much time with you as possible until then."

Calming down again, but still blushing, she nodded her head. "How about a walk by the river?" she suggested.

Gray smiled, grabbing Juvia's left hand in his own and began leading the way. She giggled slightly in her delight, a small skip in her step as she walked by his side, tightening her grip around his hand and making sure that she never would let it go until she absolutely had to, although she knew that even though she would have to let go physically, she knows that no matter where he want, she was going to be with him in his heart. That was her promise.