AN: Because Mirajane's scheming heart knows no bounds. And a big thank you to Mad Zia Magdalena for the idea behind this.
Disclaimer: I do not own Fairy Tail or its characters – Hiro Mashima does.
by Miss Mungoe
Everyone loves a good bet.
"Oye, Mira! I've decided – a thousand jewels that he asks her out by the end of the week!"
"Week? Have you met Gajeel? I say she asks him out first. Two thousand jewels – any takers?"
"I'll take that wager – two thousand five that she does it by the end of the month."
"I'll add five hundred to that, but I'll bet he doesn't realize what she means when she asks."
Mira only smiled as she scribbled down the bets, while the people seated about the guild hall shouted their wagers. With so many potential couples running around it was hard not to have bets going – and sometimes, they really had nothing better to do between jobs but keep an almost obsessively close track of each others romantic lives.
The conversations in the hall did a one-eighty as Team Shadow Gear wandered through the front doors – Levy first, flanked on each side by her two companions. Blissfully oblivious to the fact that her personal life had been quiet thoroughly scrutinized only moments before, the script mage seated herself at the bar while Jet and Droy went to scrutinize the board for any available jobs.
"Good morning, Levy. Can I get you anything?" the barmaid smiled pleasantly, discreetly sliding her blue notepad out of view of the script mage.
"A lemonade, please."
"Coming right up!"
"Oye, Mira! Write one down for me, will you?"
A grin blossomed on the script mage's face. "We're betting?"
Mira only smiled. "What do I put it on, Wakaba-san?"
The older man sent a wink their way. "One thousand says Natsu makes a move this month."
From beside him, Cana snorted, taking a swig of her ale. "Natsu? You're never going to get anything from this, old man – the idiot doesn't even realize she likes him. Hell, I don't even know he's realized she's a girl."
"I'll take that wager, Wakaba!" a voice called from across the hall, and the older man grinned triumphantly. Cana shook her head.
"Don't come cryin' to me when you lose," she muttered with a smirk.
"Any more on Natsu and Lucy?" Mira asked as she scribbled down the bets. Murmurs went around the room, before Levy raised a hand.
"Two thousand on Lucy making the first move," she said with a grin. Several pairs of eyes were drawn to her back at the suggestion, before the guild exploded in a chaos of voices.
"Dude, she totally knows something!"
"Yeah! They're super-close and all – Lucy-nee's bound to have told her something!"
"I'm in on that! Three thousand!"
"The same here! Two thousand five!"
Mira smiled serenely, pen scribbling calmly in the sunny yellow notebook covered with sparkling pink cherry blossoms. To keep a low profile amongst the people involved – both knowingly and unknowingly – no names were ever used, only colour codes.
The conversation shifted easily as the guildmates turned their attentions back to inconspicuous things – a routine perfected after years of practice – and by the time the blonde stellar mage had entered the guild hall, accompanied by an excited dragonslayer eagerly going on about his latest food discovery, there was no evidence of what had transpired only moments before.
"Hello, Mira," Lucy greeted with a smile as she seated herself beside Levy. "What's up?"
The barmaid smiled, tilting her head. "Nothing new, just the guild being its usual self."
Lucy hummed, looking back at the hall. "It's surprisingly...quiet, for so many people. Usually there's at least one fight going on at this time of day," she said with a raised brow.
Levy averted her eyes. Mira only grinned. "Oh, they're just busy discussing the latest bets," she said, pulling out another book, this one green and dotted with silhouettes of tiny fairies.
"Elf-nii and Evergreen! Any takers?" she called out to the guild, only to be met with a row of catcalls and whistles. Lucy shook her head.
"Your own brother," she muttered, followed by something that sounded suspiciously similar to 'no shame'. Mirajane said nothing, only continued to smile as she noted down the bets shouted from across the room.
"One thousand says that she makes the first move!"
"One thousand five on that they're already dating!"
Lucy smirked. "Oh, hell, I might as well try to make some rent-money. Two thousand they'll make a public spectacle within the next...say week," she said with a wink.
Levy grinned. "Count me in – one thousand!"
"Oh, are we betting?"
The atmosphere froze at the unnoticed entrance of the queen of fairies herself. Pushing her glasses up, Evergreen raised an elegant brow. "Well?"
"J-Juvia wishes to bet ten thousand that Gray-sama will declare his undying–"
Mira smiled. "Yes, we're taking bets. Would you like to add one?"
Evergreen pursed her lips. "Hmm, that depends. How am I with the ones already standing?"
Seemingly from the top of her head, the pale haired barmaid cited off on her fingers. "You've lost four thousand in total, but there are some unresolved ones that might even things out, depending on whether or not anything happens."
The pursed lips were pulled into a sly smirk as Evergreen seated herself by a table near the bar. "Then add another thousand that the brute will get his act together by the end of the month," she declared, brushing a strand of hair out of her face.
Lucy raised a brow. "You're betting on yourself?"
Evergreen shrugged. "A girl's got to have a hobby."
"Oh! Look at the time – I need to get to the library to deliver some books. See you later Lu-chan, Mira!" Levy said, downing her lemonade and grabbing her bag before making a sprint for the guild doors, calling out to Jet and Droy as she went. "I'll meet up with you guys later!"
"Bye, Levy-chan!" the chorus rang behind her as she exited, and she had barely taken one step outside the doors before the murmurs broke out in full.
"Maybe she's going to see him?"
"You think so?"
"Why else would she go alone?"
"Ah, screw this! Five thousand that Gajeel and Levy have something going on!"
"HEY!" Jet and Droy erupted in unison...
...and were promptly ignored by the others.
"Add me to that! She's never late for the library – it's got to be a date!" Gasps rose around the guild hall, followed by a moment of silence.
Then all hell broke loose.
"They're totally dating – four thousand on me!"
"Wait – what date do we set? We should have one, and the person who is the closest wins the pot. Sounds alright with everyone?"
"Sometime in the last month, then? They can't have been dating that long..."
Mira was writing it all down, having pulled the blue notebook out the minute the solid script mage had made her exit. "The date set in last month, April 23," she said without preamble, and without looking up from her notebooks. More murmurs were heard around the room as people began placing their bets.
"I say March 21!"
Lucy grinned to herself, sipping her drink as Natsu sauntered over. "What are we betting on now?" he asked as he took a seat beside her.
"How long Gajeel and Levy-chan have been dating, apparently," she said with a shake of her head. Natsu blinked.
"Oh. I could have told you that, you know. They've been together since February," he said with a shrug. "Oye, Mira – a firewhiskey!"
Lucy choked on her drink, coughing and beating her chest as her eyes bulged, and her reaction was verbally echoed by the rest of the guild in unison.
Natsu blinked again, brows furrowed quizzically at the turmoil his casual comment had made. "What's up with you guys?"
Lucy grabbed his scarf, pulling his attention back to her.
"Oye, Luce, you've got drool on your–"
"Quiet! What the hell do you mean 'they've been dating since February'?!"
Natsu tilted his head, still frowning. "That they've been dating since February?"
"How do you know?!" the guild hollered in unison.
Natsu blinked again, raising a brow. "I asked 'cause I saw them together, and he told me. The hell is the big deal, anyway? I thought everyone knew," he said, shrugging as he turned back to the drink that was now in front of him. Lucy could only gape along with the rest of the guild.
Mira smiled. "Then it seems Macao is the winner – he's the only one who bet they were dating as early as February. Congratulations, Macao-san!"
The former master grinned as he leaned back in his chair. "Damn straight! I'm telling you, I've got an eye for these things. Earned me a small fortune on our golden couple over there a few years ago," he said, inclining his head to Alzack and Bisca sitting with their daughter a few tables off. "Both the wedding date and the due date! What can I say? It's a gift."
Cana snorted indelicately. "Old man, we all saw that coming – that's not a gift, it's just an inevitability." she shook her head. "Got lucky, is what you did."
"Jealous I got the big prize eh, kiddo?" he grinned as Cana's eye twitched.
Lucy planted her face on the counter. "I can't believe she didn't tell me!"
Natsu raised a brow. "Did you ask?"
Lucy whined. "February, Natsu! February!"
"Oye, Jet? Droy? You two alright over there?" Wakaba called across the room, inclining his head towards the two present members of Shadow Gear, whose bodies were draped across their table, defeated.
Cana snorted. "Like she was going to go for one of you after all the rejections? Tch, get over yourselves," she said, downing her ale. The hall was in excited murmurs by now, and Mirajane smiled to herself as she crossed out a few lines from the blue book. Success!
Looking up at her blonde friend, the barmaid smiled, before pulling out the yellow book and sliding it towards the girl. Flipping the book open discreetly, Lucy's eyes scanned the most recent page, before she smirked. Pointing at one of the entries, she grinned. "Ten thousand on this one," she said. "I need rent-money."
Mira's grin was bordering on suggestive. "Of course you do."
"Of course you are."
"Ten thousand, by Lucy," the barmaid said as she noted it down below the entry, grinning to herself as she did. Lucy only smirked.
"Mm?" Turning towards his partner, the dragonslayer was caught off guard as she grabbed the front of his scarf and yanked him towards her, planting her lips on his and muffling his cry of surprise. The guild went completely still at the unexpected show, apart from Juvia, who dropped her glass in avid admiration for Lucy's forwardness (and elation that her rival in love seemed to have moved her attentions away from her Gray-sama).
It lasted a good five seconds, and then it was over. Pulling back with a grin, Lucy released her partner. "I win! Rent for the next two months, come to mama~!" she shouted, clapping her hands together as she imagined the look on her landlady's face when she was actually on time for once...
"Hmm, what, Mira-chan~?"
The barmaid suppressed a smile as she slid the notebook back towards the stellar mage. "I'm sorry to disappoint you, especially after..." she bit her lip. "You see, you're not the winner."
Lucy blinked. "Huh?" Grabbing the book, she scanned the pages, brows furrowed in confusion, before her face drained of all colour. Dropping her head against the bar, she let out a long whine. From beside her, Natsu couldn't stop laughing.
Mira grinned. "This particular bet was initiated by Natsu last week. If you'd read the entire entry, you'd have seen that it specified that you could not win if you bet on yourself," she said, shrugging. "I'm sorry, I only take the bets – I don't make the rules." Lucy banged her forehead against the counter, before turning her head to glare at Natsu.
"So, basically, I just helped you win a crapload of jewels? You, who live in a scrapyard of a house, and who doesn't even pay rent?"
"Sure did! Man, Luce, you're kinda stupid sometimes," he said, wiping his eyes.
"I DON'T WANT TO HEAR THAT FROM YOU!"
Natsu only laughed at his angered partner, dodging the glass headed for his face. Mira only smiled, turning back to the baffled guild members.
"So...any takers on wedding dates?"
Meanwhile, across Magnolia...
"Any good bets today?"
Levy grinned, opening her eyes and tilting her head back to gaze at the dragonslayer sprawled on the ground behind her. "Some. Added my share to Natsu's big investment. I wonder how that went..."
Gajeel snorted, not bothering to open his eyes. "Who'd have thought the idiot could actually plan something," he grumbled, but his tone betrayed his amusement. Levy grinned, rolling over on her stomach so she could look at him properly. A crimson eye cracked open to regard her, and a fanged smirk tugged at his lips.
"I wonder how much he's won by now. Doesn't he have a lot going on the bets on us, too?" she asked, tilting her head to the side.
"Well, yeah, he's the only one who knows, ain't he?"
Levy grinned, before placing a chaste upside-down kiss to his brow. "Did he tell you what he was going to do with the money?"
Gajeel smirked, closing his eyes as her fingers sneaked into his hair. "Somethin' about paying off her apartment. Then he'd have a right to come over whenever he wanted, or some shit like that."
She threw her head back and laughed, imagining the look on her friend's face when she made that particular discovery. "Clever Natsu – who'd have thought?" Raking her fingers through his hair, she bumped her nose against his forehead. "Hey."
"Think they know about us now?"
He smirked. "If they do, there'll be no livin' with the barmaid – bloody meddler's probably got bets goin' on baby names or some shit like that."
A moment of silence passed between them, sprawled as they were on the hill overlooking the village. Levy suddenly grinned, lips tugging upwards into a wicked smile she couldn't have gotten anywhere but from spending excessive time around the the dragonslayer beside her.
"You know..." she began, her grin widening.
"We could make a lot of money on that."
AN: Of course Fairy Tail has a betting pool. How can they NOT, with so many potential couples running around?