"Are you sure this is alright?" Jellal asked softly, gazing around her room. Her normal room, of course, not the other four rooms where she kept all her armours and weaponry in. "Isn't this the female dormitory?"
"It's fine." Erza answered, waving a hand carelessly at his direction. "Currently, I'm the matron of this dormitory. No one will say anything."
"Isn't this abusing your right?" he asked weakly.
Erza didn't even look up. "Did you say something?"
"N-No." Jellal winced, taking a wary step backwards. Erza continued clearing her stuffs, trying to tidy up her room. In his opinion though, Erza's room wasn't really messy. A bed by the window, a vanity table beside a solid oak wardrobe and a dark green leather couch in front of a mini coffee table.
"Here, you can take the bed." Erza announced, straightening up. "I will take the couch."
He blinked at her in astonishment. "I... I can't do that! The couch is enough for me."
"Well, I don't think it's enough. You're my guest, and I say you're taking the bed!" Erza growled, scowling impatiently at him. "No arguing."
Jellal's mouth snapped shut in surprise, his tail unconsciously twining around his upper thigh. For some reason, he knew that if he continued to argue with her, she'll finally lose her temper and throw him out of the window or something. Even though he has never experienced Erza's infamously violent temper, he has witnessed it with Natsu and Gray, and he has no desire to have a taste of her beatings. Erza has been amazingly patient with him most of the time they were together, and he wanted to keep it that way.
"You should go to sleep. You looked exhausted." Erza remarked. "Have you not been sleeping well?"
Not really, he thought, but didn't say it out loud. He doesn't want Erza walloping him for not taking care of his own health. Between trying to stay clear of the Rune Knights' way, decimating dark guilds and trying to track down leads of Zeref's whereabouts, he hadn't had much time to rest. Even his rest time was sacrificed for watching over Ultear and Meredy. Sometimes, he felt that he's too much of a martyr.
"I-I'm just a little stressed." He lied. Understatement of the year, he thought.
Erza gave him a critical look. "Doesn't look like a little."
She strode forward and grasped his arm, hauling him over to the bed. Jellal followed without much resistance, too tired to protest. He wasn't aware he was that tired until he's in Erza's bed. He sank into the bed, closing his eyes and breathed in Erza's scent on the sheets. He peered up at the redhead as she busied herself with tucking him in. His cat ears twitched in embarrassment and he sank deeper under the blanket. Erza glanced over at him as she noticed the tiny movements. Distracted by the quivering furry blue ears, she reached out in an almost mesmerized manner. She ran her fingers through his hair, sliding them behind an ear. Jellal flushed as she started scratching behind his ear, but didn't stop her. It was only when he started purring did Erza noticed what she's doing. She froze, face turning as red as her hair.
"S-Sorry!" she squeaked. "I'll leave you to your rest now!"
She flung herself away from the bed, bowed several times before leaving the room hastily. Jellal watched her leave with a bemused and baffled expression, his tail thumping against the bed in irritation. Why did she stopped scratching his ear, damn it?
"So you left him alone, sleeping in your bed, who is, by the way, extremely vulnerable right now?" Evergreen exclaimed in disbelief. "Have all the battles make you a little stupid, Erza?"
"And what do you mean by that?" Erza demanded, face still red. She couldn't believe she was stroking Jellal like he was a damn cat, even if the new, extra appendages practically made him one.
"Think about it, you have Jellal Fernandes, who, despite being a fugitive, was one of Fiore's most eligible bachelors seven years ago. Sure, he was known as Siegrain at that time, but still, same person." Evergreen explained without a hint of shame. "And unlike these immature children in Fairy Tail, Jellal is a man. He's ridiculously handsome, and from what I heard from Natsu, he's almost as strong as you are, and ignoring the fact he's a fugitive, he's kind of the Master of his own guild, even if it's not technically legal."
She leaned forward, eyes shining with an almost insane gleam. "So my question is, why aren't you ravishing the hell out of him right now?"
"R-Ravishing?" Erza stuttered. Lucy fanned the redhead worriedly. Erza has always been naïve and clueless when it came to matters of the heart, while Evergreen was... not.
"Yes. Fucking, making love, molesting, whatever you want to call it!" Evergreen sighed in impatience, slamming her hands down on the table.
"Evergreen!" Lucy screeched, blushing at the older woman's crude language.
The bespectacled woman rolled her eyes at her. "Oh, don't be a bunch of prudes. Erza, if you like him, then snatch him up! He might be a criminal, but who knows how long will it be before someone else takes a fancy to him and catch his interest?"
"N-No way! That's imp–" Erza stopped short at Evergreen's smirk. She slumped in her seat, gnawing on her lip. Was it really impossible? She thought back to the first time she saw Jellal after he was taken away from her, to the conversation at the beach.
"I can't... I have a fiancée." Jellal's excruciatingly sad eyes as he turned away, the lie slipping from his lips effortlessly. Even though she knew it was a lie, her heart felt like it was going to break at that time. Was it really impossible for Jellal to notice someone else?
"Stop hesitating. This isn't like you." Mirajane smiled knowingly at her. "You should start thinking for yourself. Just what do you want, Erza?"
"What... do I want?" she questioned, frowning. What does she want? Why was it that no matter how hard she tried, she couldn't get rid of Jellal's face from her head?
Jellal could be incredibly stubborn when he wanted to, Erza realized. As she once again tried to yank Jellal away from the doorframe, she wondered how in the hell did Ultear handled him in the past seven years.
"You've been stuck in this room for days. At least come to the guild!" she snapped. "Master still hadn't figure out how the Tear of Lycoris's magic works, so we have no idea how long you'll stay like this. You can't remain in this room forever!"
"It's not forever. It's just until these things are gone!" Jellal retorted, tail flicking fiercely.
Her grip loosened slightly as she glanced at his flattened ears and thrashing tail. Normally, she wouldn't be able to tell if Jellal's angry or not, but with his additional appendages, it was hard for him to conceal his feelings from her.
"They are cute." She said nonchalantly. Jellal's grip slackened in surprise and embarrassment, and she took the chance to haul him out of her dorm room.
"Now are we going to do this the hard way or the easy way?" she threatened. "It's either you walk on your own, or I'll carry you there by myself."
He winced as her grip on his arm tightened. He swore he felt his bone fractured under the force she's applying on his forearm.
"I... I'll walk." He faltered at her dark glare.
To his surprise, her dark expression cleared instantly. She beamed at him and let go of his arm. He immediately slid away from her, rubbing his abused arm absently.
"Let's go. Mira promised me my strawberry cake!" She grinned and enthusiastically pulled him along. Somehow, she looked uncharacteristically delighted. He shuddered slightly, tugging his hood up to hide his cat ears from the public.
"Erza..." the redhead felt Jellal jerked back as they came in front of the guild. She turned around curiously. Jellal wasn't even looking at her, eyes darting around nervously. He looked even more agitated than before, his dark-furred tail swinging violently in the air. If it wasn't for her hand on his, he'd have run away by now.
"Don't worry." She smiled. "I promise I'll beat up anyone who laughs at you."
He gave her a small, wan smile as she opened the door. As expected, everyone turned to look at her, or more specifically, at Jellal.
Jellal seemed to shrink back at the attention he's receiving. His ears twitched anxiously as everyone's eyes widened. The only ones who have fully seen his catlike appendages had been Makarov, Ultear, Meredy and Erza. Even Erza's team had only caught a passing glimpse of them. This was probably the first time anyone in the guild had seen him since the accident with the damn crystal.
"So... so cute!" he has no idea who had squealed that out, but when a little dark-haired child suddenly dashed towards him, she was followed by a crowd of cooing girls. He backed away in surprise, realizing faintly that his hood had mysteriously fallen off and was no longer hiding his ears.
"Erza!" he squawked, glancing back at her. She winked at him, sliding away surreptitiously. He glared at her in betrayal, just before he was glomped by Cana.
"Meredy was right. He really does look adorable with those ears." Mirajane tittered, placing a plate of strawberry cake in front of her. "You sure you're going to leave him like this?"
"What do you mean?" Erza scowled, not liking the sly grin on the pale-haired woman's face.
Mirajane laughed innocently, shaking her head. "You wouldn't want him to be snatch up, don't you?
Erza huffed, biting into her cake and very determined to not look at Jellal. The pale-haired mage's eyes gleamed at the trembling hands. Erza wore jealousy well. If only Jellal could see the look on the redhead's face right now...
"Hm, Cana seems to be having fun molesting Jellal." Mirajane teased. "I heard that Cana likes older men, but I suppose Jellal is old enough for her."
"Shut up, Mira!" she snapped in annoyance, finally turning around. The sight that met her eyes brought a small smile to her face.
Jellal looked extremely uncomfortable. She doubted he has ever been surrounded with that many women in his entire life. Levy, Lisanna and Lucy was playing with his tail, giggling and whispering to each other as the tail flicked in irritation to their pulling. Even Juvia was gingerly poking at one of his ears, jumping slightly when it twitched in response. Cana wasn't as reserved though. She was scratching his other ear, her other hand subtly groping the overwhelmed fugitive.
The day Jellal could sit in front of her, smiling that kind, gentle smile again was something she has never predicted. She wished this moment could last forever. But it won't, her heart whispered traitorously. The crystal would be fixed, Jellal would return to normal and then he'll just go back to what he has been doing before. He will leave. Again.
"Just what do you want, Erza?"
"The women of Fairy Tail are scary." Jellal muttered. "I think they ripped off some of my fur."
He winced as he rubbed against his cat ears. Erza glanced at him, resisting the urge to squeal. It's no surprise the other girls acted the way they did. Jellal was tooadorable.
"Getting attached?" she smirked.
Jellal blushed, dropping his hand instantly. "N-No."
"Come on, let's go somewhere." She suddenly said, eyes mischievous. "I want to show you something."
Jellal cocked his head to the side, furrowing his brows in curiosity. She merely grinned and grabbed his wrist. A distant part at the back of her mind wondered why she didn't just grab his hand, but that thought was quickly squashed into oblivion.
Jellal glanced up at the evening sky as he was led through a forest. The forest in the evening was strangely pleasant. He could hear crickets chirping softly within the bushes, the sound of birds flapping their wings above his head and the soft whoosh sound of the wind against his skin.
"Erza?" he frowned as the redhead suddenly stopped.
She looked back at him and smiled, "Here we are."
He heard the running water before he could even looked. Erza strode forward carefully, settling down next to a small, yet sturdy tree with a downy crown of dark green leaves and nearly colourless pink flowers.
"Crabapple tree." Erza murmured, patting on the ground next to her. "They're in season."
He cautiously sat down next to her, following her gaze to the river. "Are we waiting for something?"
"Yes," Erza looked up with a positively vulpine smile on her face. "Just wait and see. They should be about here now."
"They?" he echoed, perplexed. Erza merely smiled enigmatically at him. He tried not to notice how her eyes glittered slightly in the evening light. He looked away quickly, swallowing with difficulty.
"There, they're here!" Erza suddenly hissed, grabbing his bicep excitedly.
He blinked as the first speck of light appeared. Then two, then three, and then suddenly there were dozens of them floating around him. Small dots of pale yellow lights fluttering around the two humans, casting their reflections on the river's water. It was as if he had just stepped into a dream.
"They are beautiful, aren't they?" Erza whispered, her voice hushed and breathless.
Jellal nodded dumbly, eyes following a pair that flitted around his ears and darted between Erza's hair. His mouth went dry when he noticed how the fireflies made her hair lit up and casted shadows over her awed face. She looked absolutely breathtaking.
He looked up when he felt something dropped down on his nose. He noticed the pink before it slid off his nose and landed on his lap.
"Crabapple tree flowers." Erza muttered. "We're lucky today."
Yes, Jellal thought, definitely lucky. The pink petals spun gently in the air as they fell. He captured one in his hands and brought it to his lips. Was this how Erza's lips would taste, he wondered, if he kissed her?
"This flowers kind of looks like sakura flowers, don't they? I wonder if these flowers looked like the sakura that falls if the two had ever reunited with each other." Erza commented quietly, stretching her hand out. A pink petal landed gently on her palm.
When he gave her a curious look, she laughed and explained, "The promise between the retainer and the lady in the Tear of Lycoris. 'We'll escape together. I will return to you the next time the sakura falls.' I wonder if they ever see each other again."
"I'm sure they did." Jellal murmured, although he doesn't quite understand what she's talking about. Erza looked up at him, eyes tender as she felt the warmth of his hand over hers.
"After all, the two loved each other, don't they?" he breathed, smiling against her lips. Her lips tasted better than the flower.
The both of them didn't even notice when his cat ears and tail dissolved and faded away like dust.
The expressions on Erza's guild mates would have been funny if he wasn't feeling so embarrassed.
"T-They're gone?" Cana pouted. He surreptitiously inched away from her. That was one woman he'd like to avoid. Cat ears or not, she looked at him like she wanted to devour him any moment.
"So that's why the crystal turned red last night." Makarov mused, holding up the Tear of Lycoris, who had returned to its gorgeous ruby red colour. "What did you do?"
He arched a brow in surprise when Jellal blushed furiously and looked down at his feet. Erza, face a similar red, coughed loudly to disguise her abashment.
"I see," Makarov laughed, a look of realization on his face. He waggled his brows at the couple, grin lecherous. "I didn't realize the spell could be broken like that! If it's like that, then the both of you should have done it sooner!"
Not a moment later, he was sent flying through the roof with the force of Erza's outraged punch, her face burning fire red. "It's not like that, Master!"
"So you're leaving now, Jellal?" Natsu asked, failing to hide his disappointment.
Jellal gave him a small, amused smile. "Yes, Ultear and Meredy are waiting for me at the station. They have finally traced down Ouroboros and well..." I really need to vent my frustration out on someone. But he didn't say it out loud and merely shrugged.
"You'll visit, won't you?" Natsu demanded. "Because Erza obviously wants you here. I mean, I want you here too, but you get what I mean–"
He crashed into the bar counter. Gray paled and quickly fled before Erza could take out her anger on anyone else.
"That idiot Natsu, what is he..." she fumed, cheeks flushed with blood.
Jellal hid a small smile. Blushing Erza looked terribly cute, even if it clashed with her hair.
"And you," she growled, turning to glare at him. "You'll look after yourself, won't you?"
His eyes softened and Erza had to resist the urge to kiss him right there and then. They came a long way to be together, and it pained her to have to let him go like this.
"I will." He smiled. "I promise."
Lucy turned away politely to give the couple a little privacy. She snatched Happy from the air, slapping a hand over his mouth to stop his annoying giggling.
"Don't push yourself." Erza murmured quietly, fingers lingering on his arm. When he stepped away, the skin on her fingertips were still warm with his heat.
"Just what do you want, Erza?" Mirajane's voice whispered at the back of her mind.
She watched the morning sunlight painted his hair into a lighter shade of blue and quietly thought this, this is what I want. This is what I want to wake up to every morning. In her head, she pleaded for him to stay, but outside, she remained silent. Because Jellal will come back, unlike the retainer in the story. And unlike the lady, she will not die waiting. Their story will end differently.
"Stay safe." Jellal whispered, brushing his knuckles across her cheek. His lips quirked up at her blush before he turned and left the guild.
"Jellal!" he glanced back to see Lucy scampering up to him. He had to hold back a chuckle when he realized how much she resembled an overly excited puppy.
"The story of the Tear of Lycoris... did Erza tell you about it?" the blonde panted.
He tilted his head, recalling back to last night. Sometime in the middle of the night, Erza had told him about what Levy had read from the book.
"Yeah, I think I understand what Lady Lycoris is trying to tell me. Although she really didn't have to use such a humiliating method..." He mumbled, smiling almost shyly. "Keep the crystal safe, Lucy."
He bowed politely before he left, leaving a bewildered and surprised Lucy gaping at his back. He glanced up as a pink petal fluttered past him.
I hope that you and him are happy together, wherever you are right now, my lady.