DISCLAIMER: I do not own Fairy Tail.
Juvia remembers a little girl from back when she was Juvia of Phantom and not Juvia of Fairy Tail. She remembers striking green eyes, and hair of the palest blond. She remembers perfect porcelain skin, and a bubbly little giggle. She remembers a comment about how the rain was soothing, and how the rain almost — almost — stopped, going from its usual shaa shaa to a soft drip drip drop.
She remembers a sad "Why, Miss Juvia?", and bright, red blood.
Juvia remembers the week after the assassination. She remembers waking up with a wet pillow and wet eyes, a whispered apology on the tip of her tongue. She remembers knocking on a door in the middle of the night, sopping wet because she hadn't bothered to get her umbrella. She remembers changing into a too-big t-shirt and curling up with her back against a pair of broad shoulders, shaking with sobs until she felt the body beside her sigh and shift and drape an arm around her waist, rubbing circles with his thumb until the rain died down to a soft pitter patter and the image of the corpse of a little girl faded away.
She remembers calling him Gajeel-kun instead of Gajeel-san, and showing the first genuine smile in a week when he gave an indifferent grunt.
Juvia remembers getting called on for another assassination — it's a little boy this time, and the circumstances are so similar to her last assassination case (serve as a maid, earn the boy's trust, then —) that she feels bile rise up her throat. She remembers shaking so hard her legs almost gave out, her mouth moving but making no sound. She remembers Master Jose's expectant "Well?", and the monotonous "Yes, Master," she almost said. She remembers the familiar sound of a Dragon Slayer bursting through the door, and the bloodthirsty sneer on his face as he offered to take the job for her, stating that he had been waiting for something like this for ages.
She remembers confronting him about his reasons afterwards ("Juvia could have k-killed the boy. There was no need for Gajeel-kun to intervene."), and swallowing a lump in her throat at his harsh but caring reply ("I hate your tears, Juvia.").
Juvia remembers asking him about the job after he got back ("Is Gajeel-kun alright?"), and sensing the underlying emotion behind his stoic answer ("I'm fine; it's not like I haven't killed before."). She remembers asking if he liked killing, and tuning out the whispered "Of course!" from one of their guildmates. She remembers looking up into a pair of shocked red eyes, and how he was the one that looked away first, not her. She remembers taking a deep breath and stepping forward, assuring herself that if he did hit her for doing this, her water body would protect her.
She remembers standing on her toes so that she could wrap her arms around his neck, and smiling into his shoulder when she felt a gloved hand touch her waist.
Juvia remembers sitting atop a pile of scrap metal, fiddling with her teru-teru-bozu (which she no longer needed, she realized) as she thought about how to bring up the issue of joining Fairy Tail. She remembers seeing her companion hop from his pile to hers, and sit beside her but not speak to her. She remembers asking him if he thought Fairy Tail was a good place, because she knew that the whole reason he moved in the first place was to get her to let out what was bothering her. She remembers his gruff reply ("For you, sure. But not for me. They don't want a monster — a murderer."), and how he looked at her when she touched his hand and murmured something back ("Juvia knows that Gajeel-kun is kind. Juvia knows that Gajeel-kun is like Juvia, and does not kill because he wants to.").
She remembers hearing sadness in his words when he spoke next ("Sure, you do. But they don't, and won't ever think otherwise. Not after what I did."), and squeezing his hand tightly when he made an iris with his iron and put it in her lap as he told her to do whatever made her happy.
Juvia remembers gasping at the sight of a beaten and bloodied figure staggering into the guild, and was faintly aware of the soft drizzle of rain start out of the blue. She remembers him snapping at her to not cry, to bring him something to eat, and she recalls the memory of him saying that he hated her tears. She remembers being able to stop the tears but not the rain, and telling him to get into the infirmary as she rushed to get some scraps of metal to bring to him. She remembers him hissing in pain — something he only ever did around her and only her — as she cleaned his wounds, and hearing him mumble something that made her want to start crying all over again ("I guess they really don't accept me as their nakama after all, huh?").
She remembers pausing her treatment to touch the side of his face, and feeling tears roll down her face when he took her hand and kissed her palm, the wisps of an apology twisting around her ears.
Juvia remembers talking to him about love. She remembers gushing about Gray-sama — handsome, sexy Gray-sama — , and pouting when he gagged in disgust. She remembers teasing him about his affection for Levy-san, and laughing when he stuttered and not-so-subtly threw an iron dagger her way. She remembers moving closer to him — so close that the bits of hair he couldn't slick back tickled her face — , and telling him that she loved him, too.
She remembers him putting a hand on the back of her neck and touching their foreheads together, and knowing immediately — because they just understood each other that way — that Gajeel loved her, too.
An iris represents many things, but the only meanings relevant to this story are "cherished friendship" and "faith".
This fic went down a completely different road than I had intended it to take. It went from a serious-ish Gruvia drabble to a Juvia/Gajeel friendship fic. I'm not even entirely sure why everything starts with "she remembers". I guess this just proves that sometimes stories just write themselves!
Thanks for reading!