So, yeah. I'm starting a multi-chaptered story, a real one with connected chapters. "Honey, Honey" is somehow connected as well, but not really since each chapter can be viewed as a oneshot in one way or another - I am gonna finish that story too, sometime.
The idea to this story wouldn't stop bugging me until I wrote it down. Yes, it has a few OCs in it, but no Mary Sues, I promise. You'll see.
Other than that, have fun. Personally, I think the idea behind the story is brilliant and I'm happy I came up with it before somebody else did. Sorry, but that's just how I feel, haha.
Disclaimer: I own nothing except Millacent Heartfilia and Butler.
Highlife and Mayhem
Chapter 1: Millacent Heartfilia
The tip of a vintage parasol hit the bricked ground in front of the gates of the most infamous mage guild in Fiore, followed by a pair of the finest laced boots. Each of it seemed like a harbringer of disaster.
The woman who got off the carriage was an elegant, middle-aged lady with grim and distinctive features, the nose of Caesar and narrow lips. Her attire could have come straight out of an old movie classic, starting with her high-necked dress, to the tight bun that was her ash blonde hair, to the giant, flower-ornated hat. Maybe she would have given off a less stiff impression if she wasn't dressed purely in black and her skin wasn't so pale.
She wrinkled her nose, suspiciously eyeing the guild before her. "Well," she said aloud and skeptically arched a thin brow. "I suppose it does seem less… degenerate than most other guilds I have seen. Less than the merchant guild at least, where her father met that disgrace to our noble family."
"Oh, I'm glad you like it, madam," said a soft male voice from behind the carriage as her tall and slender companion with pale brown hair unloaded their baggage. "I'm actually pretty amazed by the vision myself."
"I did not ask for your opinion, Butler," said the elder woman harshly.
Her butler immediately bowed. "I am terribly sorry, madam."
She gave an exasperated sigh, throwing a disgusted look back at the carriage. "I cannot believe I had to travel in this… this mishap of a vehicle." The driver was brave enough to shoot her an offended scowl, but luckily she had established a habit of simply overlooking the existence of unimportant people. "Where is my driver and what is his excuse for being absent?"
"You fired him, madam," answered her butler immediately.
"That is a poor excuse," said the elder woman. "He might learn his lesson if I fire him again."
"How witty of you, madam."
"Oi, I'm gonna need ya to pay up now, ya hear?" grumbled the driver, still looking pretty disgruntled about the mishapped-vehicle-remark. "Ain't planning to stick around here all day, ya know."
Butler offered him a polite smile. "My deepest apologies, good man. It is certainly not our purpose to steal any more of your precious time than necessary. I shall give you your money right away."
The driver arched a brow, blankly. "Yeah, whatever, then I shall receive it. Or something," he rasped out. The elder woman watched in irritation as her butler handed the driver his money and exchanged a bit of small talk with him. She started tapping her foot impatiently.
Finally, she was at the end of her tether. "Forgive me if I do not plan to stand here all day. I would appreciate it if your little bonding could come to an end before the break of dawn."
"Testy lady," mumbled the driver under his breath.
The butler gave a sigh. "You have no idea."
"Butler, you know that patience is none of my many good traits."
"Certainly, madam," said Butler, smiling politely at the driver. "Have a good day, sir."
The driver laughed humorlessly. "Good luck with that one, buddy." The pale-brown haired man's smile never faltered as the coachman drove his carriage away.
The elder woman shook her head. "I do not see why we have to pay good money for a ride in the world's most outrageous carriage. In fact, I strongly recommend any of his customers to demand to be paid by him for even traveling in that… that lump."
"I am terribly sorry if you felt uncomfortable, madam," said Butler.
"What kind of dilettante name is Fairy Tail, anyway?" scoffed his employer, the tip of her parasol hitting the ground with a soft toc with each of her steps. "It is spelled absolutely falsely. Surely they must have meant to call it Fairy Tale, after Arthur Grimm's marvelous bestseller novels. They could not possibly have intended it to sound like fairies had tails. Unless this is a guild for cabaret artists."
Butler smiled nervously as he carried both their baggage through the gates of Fairy Tail. "Perhaps madam wants to lower her voice a little. I am sure these ladies and gentlemen would not be too delighted to hear madam refer to them as cabaret artists."
"Oh please, Butler, as if they care," she spat. "These people are obviously primates. They would not even know the difference between a Chardonnay and an ordinary wine."
Her assistant looked around uneasily, finding that several people sitting outside in the guild's open air café were throwing them offended glares. "Well, from the looks they are giving us, I suppose they are smarter than madam believes…" Butler uttered, following her quick steps as fast as possible.
"Balderdash," declared the elder lady, adjusting her sun hat. "The bald gentleman over there is losing chess to a pubescent boy. The lady over here obviously cannot afford proper clothing. And this gentleman here," she paused next to Alzack who was just about to leave the guild and now stared at her in surprise.
Butler sighed deeply. "Madam, please…"
"Yes you, boy. A man with hair as long and… incoherent such as yours, which is an insult to society in itself, should always tie it back in a decent manner." She leaned closer, narrowing her eyes. "You look like a bear. Are you a bear, boy?"
Alzack nervously backed away while Bisca next to him started giggling into her palm. "N-no, ma'am."
The elder woman wrinkled her hooked nose. "Then you should not try so vigorously to transform into one." By now, Bisca was laughing openly and loud, which brought the woman's attention to herself as she eyeballed the girl from head to toe. "Why are you laughing at him? Not only is that rude, but also absolutely not your place. That cowboy hat looks ridiculous when you are not in the Wild West and, which I believe, have never been there in the first place."
"M-madam!" Butler screeched in utmost shock as Bisca's jaw dropped in offense.
"Alas, a fine place my niece has picked," scoffed the elder lady sarcastically, turning away and heading into the guild. "Come, Butler. I need a nice cup of Earl Grey."
Her butler bowed down to Bisca and Alzack. "My sincerest apologies, my lady, sir," he said before following his employer inside.
Alzack gawked after them, cold sweat running down his forehead. "G-gave me the chills."
Bisca nodded stiffly, eyes wide with disbelief. "D-definitely scary."
Butler almost didn't dare to look at his employer as she was, yes, a very scary lady. And this place here was full of people he knew she would like to give a piece of her oh-so-painfully honest mind. Yet, he did allow himself a glance at her after all, because you see, he was a very brave man, if only for putting up with her for sixteen years now. As expected she had that same uptight and stern expression on her face she always wore.
But Butler, knowing her for so long and being by her side almost twenty-four-seven, knew this was Uptight and Stern Expression #2: Utterly disgusted and shocked.
Which wasn't even surprising, seeing how the people of Fairy Tail were yelling and cursing and drinking and bawling and, to put it in the words of his employer, acting like primitive vagabonds. Even Butler found himself thinking that this behavior was beyond inappropriate, but never would he have thought about saying this out loud. He wasn't his employer after all.
"What a magnificent example for how the cavemen must have behaved," she remarked nonchalantly. "I cannot understand what she sees in this… this haven of bacteria."
Butler gulped, laughing nervously. "D-doesn't it have a charm of its own in a way?"
The elder lady shot him a lordly look. "If your standards are low enough to define charm as unhygienic and barbaric, then yes, certainly," she scoffed in a way that made him feel like an idiot.
"Would madam care to rest her legs over there while I serve the tea?" he asked in his usual polite manner, offering her his arm.
"No thank you, I prefer to not sit anywhere in this garbage dump." She resumed walking, her parasol toc-ing along. "Who knows what parasites linger on those worm-eaten benches."
Her butler sighed. "You are right, madam. I apologize for not thinking."
The elder lady waved it off in an elegant gesture and looked around for the person who looked the most competent and intelligent, which funny enough turned out to be Macao, but in a guild like this, competence and intelligence were relative anyway, from her point of view. It was also very convenient that he was the closest within her reach, but that was another story. At any rate, she steered directly for him, subtly clearing her throat.
It was a miracle in itself that Macao managed to hear her over all the noise, but Butler liked to think that his employer gave off a frightening aura that just quite simply couldn't be ignored.
"Excuse me, young gentleman," she said as less gruff as it was possible for this woman. "Who is in charge of this… this place?"
Butler fought the urge to slap his forehead. If she was going to say it in that tone, she might as well have called this guild a gorilla grove; it would have been insulting in the same way.
As expected, her effect on Macao showed almost immediately as he paled. "M-Makarov. Little man on the counter," he sputtered, and even Cana next to him had stopped drinking to gulp something else.
"Thank you. And you might want to tell that young lady next to you that it is unacceptable for a woman to drink from a barrel. In that position nonetheless," she said bluntly, turning away to head for the counter.
Again it was Butler's duty to apologize to the people his employer had voluntarily insulted, but he was long used to it. Actually, it was quite a surprise that the elder woman had not insulted Macao at all. Maybe she really did think he was somewhat… alright. He could only look forward to meeting the guild master. Surely he must be a dependable, decent…
…very small old man.
"This man?" said the elder woman, again sounding so snotty it almost physically hurt. "You have to be joking."
Makarov lazily glanced up at the tall lady, quirking an eyebrow in curiosity. "Do you need something?"
She narrowed her eyes, looking even lordlier than before. "Are you the master of this… this place?" she inquired, wrinkling her nose. Again, that tone. Butler could only sigh.
"Ah yeah, that's me. You wanna join or something?"
The elder woman raised her nose, and Butler identified her mimic as Uptight and Stern Expression #5: Utterly insulted. "Not even in exchange for money," she all but spat.
"M-madam…" murmured Butler, almost warningly.
"I am looking for my niece." She gave the guild master a look worthy of a sphinx. "I would like to know where she is."
Makarov frowned at her. "Who?"
"I do not believe that I stutter," she scoffed, narrowing her eyes further. "My niece. Where is she? I know she is part of your guild."
Much to Butler's surprise, the master of Fairy Tail wasn't intimidated by her appearance in the least. Far from it, in fact; he seemed almost indifferent.
"Sorry ma'am, but I really don't know who you're talking about."
Her face turned into Uptight and Stern Expression #3: Positively angered. "How can you not know? Have I not just told you to guide me to her whereabouts?"
Makarov actually gave a cocky grin. "But you see, you didn't say a name, lady."
This was simply unbelievable. Butler was completely amazed how this man had managed to bring forth three different expressions from her in just two minutes. Currently, he was observing Uptight and Stern Expression #4: Incredibly humiliated. This man truly was interesting.
"How dare you imply I am an incompetent dilettante," she snapped, and her cheeks even flushed the smallest bit with anger; or shame. "What impudence! This guild is a disgrace to humanity!"
"Ah, is it?"
That old man was definitely amused. Butler had never had so much respect for another person, except maybe his employer's niece. Still, he thought it would be better to swoop in right here and save the day before the lady could fire off like a rocket. So he cleared his throat, offering his most polite smile to the guild master.
"I am terribly sorry to interfere, sir," he said and Makarov looked at him. "We are looking for Miss Lucy Heartfilia. Might she be around by any chance?"
Makarov's eyes widened in surprise. "Lucy, you say?" he mumbled more to himself as he looked back to the elegant elder lady. "Then you are…"
"Lady Millacent Heartfilia," she said, downright scowling.
"What a pleasure! It's Lucy's family!" Makarov suddenly looked beyond delighted. "I was dying to meet you. You see, dear Lucy is very precious to all of us. She's such a great girl."
"Is she now," said Millacent, rather bored.
Butler distantly heard vague murmurs from the other guild members, discussing the news. Something about an old hag and how on earth Lucy could be related to her. Butler sometimes wondered himself.
"Mira-chan! Be an angel and fetch Lucy for me, yeah?"
Mirajane flashed a big and beautiful smile that would have any man swoon over her. "Right away, Master." Butler even blushed slightly.
Makarov grinned at them. "Can I offer you anything? Sake? Ale? The hard stuff?"
Millacent narrowed her eyes, and for a short moment Butler thought she might grimace. "No thank you," she said. "Although a tea would be nice. That is, if you even stock nonalcoholic beverages."
"But of course! Mira-chan, would you…" He stopped himself mid-way, blinking. "Ah, that's right, I sent her to get Lucy."
Millacent presented them Uptight and Stern Expression #6: Very, very annoyed.
Lucy felt an ice-cold shiver run down her spine in a most definitely unpleasant way.
She had had a queasy feeling in her guts all day, as if something terrible was bound to happen. And that wasn't even because Natsu and Happy were absent for some really weird reason, though it was pretty boring without them. It was something else; something that she felt had to do with her. After all, she had dreamt of her father the other day, which was never a good thing. Each time she dreamt something related to him, big danger ensued.
Oh god, how she hoped she was just imagining things. And even if not, then please just let it be over fast. Or let Natsu save the day at least.
"Oh Lucy, there you are!" Mirajane called out with a sparkling smile, waving as she came over to her table where Lucy was trying to read a book. Emphasis on trying.
The blonde quirked an eyebrow. "You sure look excited, Mira-san. What's up?"
Mirajane clasped her hands together in utter delight. "Oh, something wonderful happened! Your family decided to pay you a visit!"
Nobody would have been able to describe the horror on Lucy's face with words.
"Not my father. Please say it's not my father," she uttered hypnotically and Mirajane laughed as she waved it off.
"No, no. She said she's your aunt."
Lucy promptly paled so much she was almost invisible, cold sweat forming on her forehead. "Th-that's a joke, right. There's no way she can be here. Ehehe, you're playing a trick on me, aren't you. You sly little idol," she laughed stiffly.
Mirajane cocked her head in confusion. "You're not happy?"
More like downright horrified. Surely Mirajane must have mistaken her for someone else. There was just no way that scary, mortifying, evil woman was here, in her Fairy Tail.
No way Millacent Heartphilia was here.
Yet there she was; plain as day and larger than life. Lucy could only gawk at her in pure terror, eyes wide and skin pale as ashes.
The elder woman turned around and arched a brow, not even the slightest ghost of a smile evident on her face after not having seen her niece in two years. "There you are, dear. I was on the brink of losing my patience," she said. "There are some very rude people here in this… this guild."
So she had not changed at all, what a surprise. Lucy wondered why her aunt was specifically glaring at Makarov, but shrugged it off, trying to force a stiff smile. "Aunt Millacent, how are you?" she pressed out as innocently as possible. "And what in Lucifer's name are you doing here?"
"I am awful, obviously. The employees here are not even capable of making good tea." Mirajane puffed her cheeks in offense while Millacent put the mug down that she had held with a handkerchief. "And as I see, you are not doing so well either, or else you could afford some real clothes other than those… those rags."
The blonde gave an exasperated sigh. "So rags it is this time."
Millacent wrinkled her nose at her. "You look like an underage prostitute. Are you an underage prostitute?"
"No, Aunt Millacent," Lucy ground out in irritation. She would have loved to say yes, just to see her aunt's stupid face. Not to mention that she wasn't underage anymore.
"Then do not dress like one. You are giving the gentlemen here inappropriate ideas."
When Butler caught a glimpse of the anger evident in Lucy's eyes, he once again thought it was inevitable to interfere. "Miss Lucy," he said as he stepped forward and bowed. "It is always a pleasure to see you."
"Butler!" Lucy exclaimed, suddenly smiling again. "It's been such a long time. And please, don't bow. You know you don't have to do that with me."
"Yes, he does," said Millacent, narrowing her eyes. "You are a daughter of the Heartfilia family after all."
Lucy gave a sigh. "I abandoned that name when I ran away to join Fairy Tail."
Millacent narrowed her eyes even more. "So I see," she scoffed. "But surely you understand that you cannot deny your origins. You will always be a Heartfilia."
Oh, how Lucy hated it to argue with that woman. Somehow, she always managed to make her feel like a no-good idiot. Even weirder was that Lucy had never once got to have the last word with that woman. She really missed Natsu right now. That guy would have given Millacent a piece of his mind for sure, Lucy's aunt or not. She could practically already hear him yell that Lucy's family was Fairy Tail now.
She really wished she could do it herself.
But she settled for a scowl, for now. "Let's just cut it out," said the blonde, shaking her head in exasperation. "Why don't you tell me what you've come for instead?"
Millacent narrowed her eyes in offence. "Is it forbidden to visit my niece?"
"You mean to tell me," Lucy said very slowly and very, very suspiciously, "that you came here without any ulterior motive? In all honesty?"
"You say that as if I was a cunning, manipulative shrew." Millacent seemed truly shocked. "You have been gone from my life for nearly a year now, and I-"
"Two years actually, Aunt Millacent."
Millacent's eyebrow twitched in discontent at her niece's interruption. "Yes, yes, you have been gone for a while. I just happen to be interested why this guild was worth leaving your home for."
Lucy crossed her arms in front of her chest. No way was that true. It just could not be the only reason for this unexpected visit. She knew her aunt better than that. Puckering her lips and narrowing her eyes, she mumbled under her breath, "Now that's a little hard to believe." Luckily, Millacent hadn't heard her.
"C'mon Lucy, this is a joyous occasion," Makarov suddenly said, giving the blonde a lop-sided grin. "It doesn't happen every day that we have guests as pleasant as your lovely aunt."
"You flatter me," Millacent scoffed dryly as Lucy paled in a what-the-hell-she's-not-lovely kind of way.
"We should have a party or something. Mira-chan, bring out the hard stuff!"
Millacent sighed in exasperation. "That is not necessary," she said, halting him with a raised hand. "I had a long journey in an inexplicable ride. I would like to rest now."
Oh hell no. Please don't let this happen, Lucy thought, sensing where this was heading. Her bad premonition was proven true when her aunt turned to look at her. Lucy felt herself flinch involuntary.
"Lucy dear, show me the way to your mansion."
What kind of demon hated her so much? That woman seriously wanted to stay with her in her house. In her room. And… oh dear Lord, she was going to want to sleep in her bed too, wasn't she?
No way in hell!
"Y-you see, aunt Millacent," Lucy spoke up very weakly, her mind swirling. She could not let this happen. "I don't have a mansion or anything. I live in a small place, a very small place that you would honestly not like at all, so…"
Millacent's eyes narrowed dangerously. "I sincerely hope you were not going to suggest that your own flesh and blood sleeps someplace else, were you? My dearest niece."
Lucy really, really wanted to scream and yell, anything so this woman would not barge into her privacy like that, but once again she was at a loss of words. She might be one of the few people who actually dared to talk back at Millacent Heartphilia, but more often than not, she somehow, she wasn't even entirely sure exactly how, always ended up agreeing to her insane requests. It was a pain in the ass, this and her aunt both.
"O-of course not."
Damn you, Lucy you idiot, she grumbled in her mind. Well done, really.
"I expected as much," said her aunt, wrinkling her nose. "Very well then, tell Butler where your driver is so that we can leave this hole at last."
Lucy felt her brow twitch. The nerve of that woman. "I don't need a driver or anything. My home isn't far by foot, so-"
Her aunt seemed shocked. "By… by foot?" she gasped, horrified. "Butler, have I heard this right?"
"I'm afraid so, madam," said Butler, somewhat embarrassed. Probably by his employer's behavior. Lucy herself tried to avoid the amused glances from her guild mates.
The blonde gave a heavy sigh. "Listen, Aunt Millacent, it's just a stroll down the riverside. My house is the brown one, you can even see it from the guild. It really isn't far, and who knows, you might enjoy a little walk."
Millacent knitted up her eyebrows. "I do not think so. After all, I am not a young girl anymore, unlike you."
"Could've fooled me, milady," Makarov downright purred.
"You be quiet," Millacent all but spat. Butler found it astounding. His employee usually never lost her countenance and told someone to be quiet. This guild master was truly interesting.
From somewhere behind Lucy, she could hear Gray mumble to Erza, "H-hey, can she really talk to the old man like that?"
"Don't be rude," hissed the Titania, elbowing him very hard. "She's admirable."
"Ow! Shit, I think you broke my rib-"
The elder lady narrowed her eyes almost to slits. "I cannot bear to remain in this… this guild for even one more minute." Lucy opened her mouth to defend Fairy Tail, but Millacent was faster, "Lucy dear, show Butler the way to your mansion as you two carry my belongings," she bellowed while walking outside.
That caught the Stellar mage off-guard. "Huh? Wait." She quickly stormed after her aunt, Butler following rather leisurely; he was used to this after all. "Don't tell me you're gonna-"
"I assume that… that thing over there is your house," she stated, wrinkling her nose in utter dismay as she pointed her chin toward the riverside.
"Very well then, I will fly there."
Lucy and Butler, along with all the other curious members of Fairy Tail, watched in horror (Lucy), embarrassment (Butler) or disbelief (everyone else), as Millacent Heartfilia raised her umbrella to open it. Shortly afterwards, her feet lifted off of the ground and she began flying toward Lucy's oh so painfully not private home.
"What the hell?" somebody behind Lucy called out. "Is she freakin' Mary Poppins?"
"That scary old hag- I mean, Lucy's aunt's a mage!"
Butler smiled politely at Gray. "It's a magical umbrella, nothing more," he explained.
"Very admirable," Erza said proudly. "As expected of Lucy's relative."
Makarov grinned widely. "Just my type of woman."
Lucy gave another beat sigh. "Sorry, guys," she said, trying to smile. "My aunt's very difficult. Don't take what she said seriously, okay?"
General murmuring from her guild mates, grudgingly but approving. Lucy guessed her aunt had already done her job of insulting every single person in the hall. Only Erza had a look of pure and utter awe on her face – the blonde registered it half-shocked, half-indifferent. It was actually expected of someone like Erza, but then again this was Lucy's aunt they were talking about. She quickly shrugged it away, and everyone else didn't seem very eager to hear an anecdote from the Titania about strong women either.
Butler gave the niece of his employer a warm smile. "Don't concern yourself with the luggage, Miss Lucy. I will of course ensure that you do not have to lift a finger of yours."
Lucy grinned brightly. "Oh, it's no problem at all! I'm still a mage, you know," she said, winking at him and holding up a golden key. "Open the gate of the bull! Taurus!"
The common magic seal appeared around the small golden key and just a few moments later, after a soft plopping-sound, a full-grown, very tall bull-man was standing in the guild hall with a giant axe on his back. Butler flinched when the bull gave a terrifying growl, but soon the creature was practically puffing out hearts and cooing at Lucy in the most disgusting ways.
"Moo! Lucy-san, you breasts look great as usual!"
"That's indecent!" Butler exclaimed in shock, blushing the faintest bit.
Lucy sighed in exasperation. "Don't worry about it. Taurus is always like that," she quickly said, waving it off, and then turned to the bull. "Could you please help Butler carry that luggage?"
"Of course! Anything for your breasts! Moo!"
The blonde watched in amusement as Taurus picked up all of her aunt's luggage – meaning five big cases – all while Butler kept reprimanding him about how it was unacceptable to openly tell a lady how appealing her chest was, especially if it was someone like Lucy Heartfilia. The Stellar mage was just about to follow the bickering duo as a small hand grabbed her arm to hold her back for just one more minute. Lucy turned around, blinking as she realized it was Lisanna, Mirajane and Elfman's little sister, who had just recently returned.
Lucy gave a nervous smile when she saw the sly grin on the ivory-haired girl's face. "Lisanna? What is it?"
Lisanna giggled, winking at her. "Aren't you forgetting something important, Lucy?"
"Natsu," said the takeover-mage.
"What about him?"
"Well, he hasn't been around all day. Where do you think he could be?"
Lisanna's meaningful, but coy smile was enough to make Lucy's eyes widen in absolute horror. Oh, this wasn't good. This was so not good. This was the most horrible, troublesome, unnecessary thing she needed right now, but she knew it was inevitably going to happen. There was just no way that Lucy was lucky enough that today would be the day her privacy was sacred. No way was there a chance when you were friends with Natsu Dragneel.
He was going to be in her room. And her aunt was going to be there, too. And they were going to meet.
Lisanna smiled brightly, obviously she found the situation more than hilarious. God, she was so much like her sister when it came to that stuff. Lucy couldn't be more frustrated with her life.
Butler was almost run over by Lucy who stormed by him and her Stellar spirit Taurus with threefold sonic speed, blinking in bewilderment as she ran past with the single-mindedness of a wild boar, heading straight for his employer. Millacent was standing before the brown house at the riverside of Magnolia, looking beyond unnerved and impatient. Uptight and Stern Expression #8, Butler noted dryly to himself.
"I am not pleased," he heard Millacent say to Lucy who was panting heavily from her little sprint, "It is quite chilly today and my only niece is making me wait for so long in front of this… this building."
Oh god, that tone again. Butler's head sunk. He had hoped she would be civil at least to Lucy.
"It's summer, aunt Millacent. Not that you care," growled the very same Lucy breathlessly, taking out her house keys.
Millacent turned her head to her butler so quickly that the man backed away a bit, and even Taurus flinched as he caught sight of her dangerous expression. What a scary old lady that woman was. The spirit had to admit that he had rarely seen such an intimidating person even in his countless decades and centuries of existence.
"Butler, my niece seems to have lost her manners over the years she has been in that… that hole," she said, as if she expected the man to scold Lucy.
Lucy narrowed her eyes. "It's not a hole. And it happens to be my most precious place in the world, by the way." She turned to Taurus, trying hard to smile. "Thanks for helping out, Taurus. You can go back now."
"No problem! Moo!"
As the bull disappeared back to the spirit realm, Lucy was half-astonished that he had not complimented her breasts or body at all like usually when he left. But then again, even Taurus must have felt that it was better to keep quiet in the presence of her aunt. Who knows how long her speech would have been had she heard him mention Lucy's voluptuous chest even just once in her presence. They would never hear the end of it. Lucy made a mental note to thank him later on.
Now as for Natsu. She still had the tiny hope that he was not there today.
"What a disturbing creature that was," Millacent remarked snottily, wrinkling her crooked nose. "But I guess that… that thing was not entirely useless."
Lucy gave her a half-hearted glare. "Don't call him a thing. He's my spirit, Taurus." She saw her aunt's indifferent stare and sighed. "It's my magic, you know. Stellar spirit magic."
Millacent narrowed her eyes. "I know what it is. Do you think I am a dilettante?"
"No," uttered the blonde with gritted teeth. God, she was so vexing.
"Would you open that worn down door already, Lucy dear. I am tired and I need to rest my legs."
Butler watched the niece of his employer pale to an alarming degree and wondered what was wrong. And he thought he saw a few beads of sweat forming on the girl's forehead. Truth be told, he had rarely seen Lucy that worked up before and it had to have something to do with her apartment. He had a very bad feeling about this.
"S-sure," Lucy mumbled quickly, pressing her key into the keyhole of the front door.
The walk up the stairs felt like an awful eternity. Lucy felt herself getting more nervous with every step she took, her palms moistening on the rail as she supported her march. She led the way, her aunt following close behind and Butler waiting downstairs with the luggage for an okay from Millacent. Even though the elder lady was eager to spend her stay at Lucy's place, she guessed her aunt wanted to check it out first – that was just how she was.
As the door to her apartment came closer, Lucy's heart sank lower and lower. She was sending a million prayers to heaven that Natsu would not be there, anything that would spare her of another of Millacent's dreadful preaching about indecency, delicacy and proper demeanor. She really had no nerve for this right now, not that she ever had.
What was she going to do?
Oh crap, I need a plan. I really, really need a plan, Lucy thought desperately, gulping hard.
She hesitated in front of door to her apartment, her hand just numbly grabbing the door handle. Her aunt behind her was already impatiently tapping her foot while the blonde was busy chanting in her head about how it was impossible this was happening to her and that everything would be all right. This was just a nightmare and any minute now she would wake up. Lucy was sure of it.
"Are we waiting until we strike roots?" Millacent all but spat.
Lucy gulped once more, closing her eyes. There was no way around it. This was the moment where it was impossible to drag this out any further. She needed to open the door. Her doom was there right in front of her and she had no choice but to walk right into it. Oh, this was without a doubt among the top five of the worst days in her life.
Before she could change her mind, she opened the door only a few inches, and peeked inside. At first very carefully, and when she saw an empty apartment, she dared to poke her head inside. And when the room was still empty, and her heart felt light and relieved enough, she opened the door completely, suddenly rather cheerful. There was a God and he loved her.
She turned around to her aunt, grinning, making room to let her enter the apartment. "Welcome then, aunt Millacent! This is my room," she said.
Millacent raised one thin eyebrow. "Hm." She managed to put a whole world of disapproval into that one small sound. "This… this tiny thing is it?"
"Yes," Lucy pressed out. Well, at least Natsu wasn't there.
Or so she thought.
"Lucy! You're finally home!"
Lucy froze in place like she was a pillar of salt. No way in hell. She took back what she said about there being a God. God didn't exist, since this could not be the work of a forgiving and loving God. This was just impossible. It could not be happening.
Yet it was. In the worst imaginable way.
Natsu stumbled outside Lucy's bathroom with just a towel wrapped around his waist, dripping wet and with a flying Happy following close by. Lucy stared at him in pure horror as if he was the most terrible monster she had ever laid her eyes on. And she was pretty sure that she saw out of the corners of her eyes that even her aunt wore a very shocked look on her face. This guy was killing her, slowly. She had been sure he would be the death of her someday, be it from danger or out of frustration. Now she was sure it was going to be the latter.
"You're out of that berry-tasting shampoo you use, weirdo. What's up with those tiny bottles anyway?" Natsu growled. The guy had the nerve to sound annoyed at her. "There's almost nothing in there."
Happy nodded quickly, small brows knitting up. "Aye! Lucy's a tiny bottled freak!"
That makes no sense, Lucy wanted to shout, but luckily stopped herself just in time. She had to think of something, and she had to do it quickly before Millacent could recover from her shock. How in the world was she going to explain what a half-naked guy was doing in her apartment, taking a bath and everything? The truth was out of the question. No one would believe that a guy was oblivious enough to invade a marriageable girl's house on a daily basis without ulterior motives. She had to come up with a believable lie and she had to do it fast.
Unfortunately, Lucy's mind was blank with terror. So her aunt had plenty of time to grasp the situation.
"Lucy dear," she said almost too sweetly and Lucy shivered at the sound. "There is a nude young man with odd hair in your apartment. Whatever might be the meaning of this?"
Her eyes narrowed abruptly.
The blonde was so absorbed in her personal horror that she almost completely zoned out Natsu's and Happy's terrified murmurs about how that woman was probably related to Erza in some way – and damn, they really were similar – while she desperately tried to think of a solution. Her mind was racing. And that was when her intuition kicked in. The worst thing about it was that whenever Lucy acted out of a whim, it was always bound to end disastrous. But she still acted. She did the only thing she could think of possibly having a chance to be helpful.
She hugged Natsu.
Giggling like a school girl and ignoring the confused frown on his face, she nervously started blabbering whatever came to her mind. Which was anything but intelligent.
"Well, ho-ney~! Aren't you just so bold? We have company, sheesh!" she cooed completely saccharine.
"What the hell are you- GAH!"
Before he could finish and ruin everything, Lucy had pinched his sides very painfully and darkly smiled up at him with a face that clearly said, Play along or die a horrible death.
To people who knew Millacent Heartfilia, she looked beyond mortified – in reality though, her mouth simply started twitching. Truthfully, the last and also first time Lucy had seen that look on her face was when she had suggested becoming a mage like a her mother and joining a guild – that had been shortly before she ran away from home.
"I… I am still waiting for an explanation for this… this uncouthness." The elder woman sounded almost a little choked up. And Lucy didn't even remember ever hearing her scary aunt stutter before.
Lucy turned around, smiling brightly, but inside her there was a storm of terror. "Isn't it kinda obvious? I'm sure a sophisticated and intelligent lady such as yourself has already figured out who this fine young man is."
"Why's Lucy being all stuck-up?" Happy whispered to Natsu who Lucy was still hugging around the waist.
"Beats me. Just wait and see," he hissed back.
Millacent crossed her arms. "I am actually hoping for the first time that I am wrong."
With quick movements, Lucy had already grabbed the dragon slayer's arm and draped it around her shoulders to lean her head against his chest, cold sweat forming on her forehead. Oh shit, what was she doing? Honestly, what the hell was she doing here? This could just go horribly, horribly wrong.
"You're absolutely right, though," she chirped. "This is Natsu Dragneel."
She was doomed. She was running towards sure disaster completely voluntary.