A/N Yeah. Um. Hi~
I just really wanted to try my hand at a prom story! I live in Canada, where we don't have prom, we have Grad. Not exactly the same thing. So I really really really wanted something to do with prom! Also, I watched the Kim Possible movie and Mean Girls and yeah things just spiralled out of control.
Also, expect Sting bashing. It wasn't really intentional, I just kind of wrote it that way!
But I hope it's enjoyable anyway!
The end-of-school bell rang shrilly, and students from all classrooms banged open doors, desperate to get away for the weekend. Shoes clattered on halls and bodies were shoved aside as people joined the mad dash to catch the right bus home. All along the walls, shiny and slick new posters had been tacked on.
Lucy stared up at a poster, longing shining in her wide brown eyes. If anyone passing by wondered why on Earth she was staring so longingly at the wall, gym bag dangling from one arm, they said nothing. Lucy might have been pretty and very popular, but she was also known to be very, very weird.
One person, however, did comment. They did more than just comment, even; they ran up and poked her in the side. "Afternoon, Lu-chan!"
Lucy shrieked, and looked down at her small friend. "Levy! Don't scare me like that!"
Levy McGarden snickered, tucking a lock of blue hair behind her ear. "What are you staring at?"
Sighing dreamily, Lucy pointed. "Look! Prom has been announced..." she grasped Levy's arm as though looking for some support. "And it's only two weeks away! Hold me, Levy!"
Levy squinted at the poster. "Hm. 'Join us on June the Second for a night of endless wonder and magic in Winter Wonderland!'" She wrinkled her nose. "Really? Winter Wonderland, that's the theme?"
Lucy elbowed her gently. "Better that Mardi Gras, wouldn't you say?"
Levy rolled her eyes dramatically. "Whatever, Lu-chan. You're the one who's been dreaming about this since they were five, not me." She hitched her backpack higher on her shoulders. "Besides, I'm not even going. I have more important things to be doing that night anyway."
"Oh, right, so if a certain someone asked you you'd turn him down?"
Levy coloured. "I never said that."
Lucy giggled madly. "Oh, admit it Levy! You're just dying for Gajeel to ask you!"
The poor shrimp was red as a tomato now. "I never said that!" She argued shrilly, but it was lost on Lucy.
Levy was saved at that moment by a pink blur running up the steps. He skidded to a halt in front of them, no doubt still pumped up from phys ed. "Hey, guys!" he greeted them cheerfully. Levy waved back, but Lucy positively lit up.
"Natsu!" she greeted, giving him their customary super-complicated-high-five-secret handshake. Levy sighed at the two of them. "Have you seen the poster?"
"Hmm," Natsu squinted at it. Then he let out a squawk of annoyance. "Winter Wonderland!? Damn, that stripping bastard won our bet!"
Lucy blinked in confusion. "Bet?"
"Yeah, I was betting they'd go for a Beach Bash theme..."
Lucy fought the urge to face-palm. "Natsu, no one is ever going to vote for a Beach Bash prom."
Natsu wasn't listening, instead he was rustling around his pocket for spare change. "Damn it! Luce, can you lend me twenty bucks?"
"Twenty dollars!? What makes you think I have that kind of money?"
"Pleeaasee? I'll pay you back, I promise!"
Lucy grumbled, pulling a bill out of her purse. "This just adds up to the ridiculous amount you owe me."
Natsu whooped in victory. "Thanks Luce! I'll see you later!" He gave her a quick, one-armed hug and dashed off down the hall.
Lucy waved after him, mildly yelling not to call her 'Luce'. She turned back to see Levy staring at her with arms crossed and one eyebrow nearly disappearing into her hairline.
"And you're telling me you don't like him."
Now it was Lucy's turn to blush wildly. "I don't! He's my best friend! He's been my best friend since I moved here! Of course I don't think about him that way!"
Levy was snickering. "Yeah, and 'de Nile ain't just a river in Egypt.'"
Lucy crossed her arms, pouting. "You never used to tease me this much. I think Gajeel is rubbing off on you."
Instead of getting her feathers ruffled, Levy patted Lucy's head. "Whatever helps you sleep at night," she said sweetly. "I'm off to Book Club meeting."
Lucy sighed. "Yeah, I'd better get to cheer practice. Minerva will kill me if I'm late."
"Why are you even a cheerleader when you hate all your teammates?"
"I'll see you later."
"You're smart, Lucy! Join the Book Club with me!"
As Lucy made her way to the gym, she went over it in her head. That wasn't true, what Levy had said. She really didn't hate the cheer team. Or at least, she tried really hard not to. But was it her fault if they completely matched every stereotype about cheerleaders that ever existed?
Lucy changed quickly into the short orange and black minidress that made the Tigers uniform. Technically, their name was the Magnolia High Saber Toothed Tigers, but no one except Minerva bothered to actually call their team that. Glancing at the clock, Lucy cringed when she saw she was a few minutes late, and hurriedly dashed into the gym, tying her hair up as she went.
"Sorry!" She called as she entered. Minerva raised a perfectly plucked brow, glaring coldly at the blonde member of the team.
"You better have a good excuse for being late," she said.
Lucy decided it was best to tell the truth. Minerva was not human and had this ability to smell lies. "I was just distracted by the prom posters. It won't happen again."
But Minerva's face had cleared up the second prom was mentioned. "Oh, I totally get it," she gushed, ridiculous Valley girl accent breaking through. "I'm so excited, it's crazy. Right, girls?"
There was a resounding cheer from the rest of the senior girls. The cheer team was made up of three factions; the base made of newly recruited freshmen and sophomores that really only existed as benchwarmers, the juniors who had been cheering for two or three years already, and the seniors who basically ruled the school. It was ridiculous, actually, how every single one of them managed to be so popular. Even Lucy, for all her weirdness, was considered something of a Queen Bee. She supposed that was just the hype someone got from being second-in-command.
And really, Lucy didn't hate all of them. Kinana could be incredibly nice. Just, sometimes she could be a total snake. And Ultear had really made a change the past year, she wasn't anything like the bully she used to be. And Yukino, she was good at heart. But being Minerva's best friend she generally stayed quiet and said nothing. A follower, not a leader.
Angel was a different story, constantly rude and with a personal vendetta against Lucy. When Lucy had first moved to Magnolia four years ago, she'd instantly made the cheer team whereas Angel had to be called back three times.
Imitatia, too, was not high on Lucy's list. Freshman year, she'd been one of Lucy's closest friends, helping her with routines and homework. She'd even asked Lucy to call her 'Michelle'. But when she came back after the summer, did a complete 180 and became Angel's best friend.
And then there was Minerva. Vindictive, cruel, ferociously dedicated to being the most popular and 'plastic' girl in the entire school. Some of Lucy's not-so-popular friends, namely Levy, had taken to calling her Regina George. She was the daughter of an incredibly rich oil tycoon and had an endless supply of designer brands. In all honesty, she probably really did do car commercials in Japan.
Now, the seven huddled in a circle with Lucy slightly off to the side as usual. If Lucy hadn't been as dedicated to cheer as she was, she would have quit long ago.
Minerva sighed. "So? Anyone given any thought to who they want their date to be?" The group broke out into excited twitters, and Lucy caught a few snippets of who was 'allowed' to make the list.
"Um," Lucy interjected. "Does is really matter who you go to prom with?"
All conversation ceased. Minerva turned slowly, looking at Lucy like she was scum on the bottom of her shoe. "Of course, it matters," she snapped. "When you're a cheerleader, who you take is everything. It makes a statement."
"Oh." Honestly, Lucy had been entirely unaware of this rule. "So, then... who exactly are we allowed to go with?"
There were a few giggles from Angel and Imitatia. Minerva spoke slowly, as though to a child. "Well, obviously, they have to be super popular."
"Yeah, like, no losers allowed," Angel cut in.
"And they have to be a jock," Imitatia added. "You know, like, captain of a sport or something."
Lucy frowned. "Doesn't that really just add to the stereotype of cheerleader and jock?"
"Well, duh!" Ultear spoke now. Apparently even she lived by this rule. "That's kind of the point, isn't it?"
"So, basically," Minerva cut in smoothly. "Your little friend Natsu is out of the question."
Lucy's face flamed. "Why does everyone think I like Natsu?" She whined.
Minerva smiled. "Good, then we understand each other," she nodded. "Girls, it's up to us to uphold the Magnolia High Saber Toothed Tigers traditions. We absolutely have to have to best dresses, best hair," she looked directly at Lucy as she said this. "And best dates."
Lucy groaned internally.
After practice showers were even worse than usual, because of everyone's chatter about prom. Lucy had thought she was excited before. Now, she felt nothing but a sick nervousness and a desperate need to meet Minerva's standards.
She already knew everyone else would pick an absolutely perfect date. Handsome and flawless, who would look stunning in pictures. Any one of them could win Prom King and Queen. Knowing Minerva, she'd bully people into voting for her. And Lucy felt that, if her date wasn't up to par...
It made her sick, knowing she was so easily giving in to peer pressure. But that was just how Lucy was. Usually Natsu was the one who stood up to people, who was argumentative and uncaring of other people's thoughts...even if it made him somewhat of a social outcast.
Lucy couldn't help but smile every time she thought of Natsu. Moving to a new city had been hard enough, but with such a rich and imposing father, Lucy had been practically unable to make friends. She'd been terrified to enter high school so alone. And then, three days before school started, she'd literally run headlong into Natsu in the grocery store, and he'd introduced her to all the friends she still had today.
Really, she didn't understand why he was so unpopular. Friendly, and outgoing and accepting, and no her stomach did not have butterflies! Maybe it was all the gaming he did. Yeah, that was probably it.
So lost was she in her thoughts that Lucy didn't realize she was the last one left in the change room. Or, nearly the last one. There was some humming coming from the other side of the room. Lucy felt her lips curl into a smile; there was only ever one girl who stayed behind this long.
"Hey, Juvia!" She greeted, swinging around the wall to the mirror and stand, where the swim team captain was dutifully curling her hair, as per usual.
"Ah, good afternoon, Lucy," the girl replied. "How was practice?"
"Ugh, awful." Lucy collapsed into the chair beside her. "All they did was gush over prom."
Juvia promptly began to gush herself. "Juvia is so excited!"
"I can imagine you would be," Lucy said wryly. "Lyon ask you yet?"
She made a face. "Yes. The second Juvia walked into practice, he was all up Juvia's business."
Lucy giggled. She loved it when Juvia tried to use modern slang, for someone who used to be so shy she was getting good at it. "And did you accept?"
"NO." Juvia pouted. "Juvia wants Gray-sama to ask her!" Her face darkened. "Unless Lucy wants to go with Gray-sama."
Lucy held up her hands in surrender. "Juvia, how many times do I have to tell you? I don't like Gray!"
"Lucy says she doesn't like Natsu, too."
They were interrupted from their pointless arguing by phones beeping simultaneously. Lucy felt her stomach twist happily as she recognized the text from Natsu. She looked up at Juvia, who had no doubt received the same text. "Hangout at Fairy Tail?"
Juvia giggled happily. "Gray-sama, here Juvia comes!"
Fairy Tail was more commonly known as Mirajane's Cafe, the local, family run coffee shop Lucy and her friends spent all of their spare time. Only regular patrons called it Fairy Tail, to confuse people who tried to read texts over the shoulder.
Inside the cafe, Lucy and Juvia were greeted by many welcome and familiar sights. Of course there was Mirajane, manning the bar as usual with her siblings Elfman and Lisanna. Makarov, the old man who actually owned the property, was standing on the bar and cheering loudly. Laxus, his grandson, was begrudgingly taking orders. Lucy could even see Mira's boyfriend Freed and Elfman's girlfriend Evergreen somewhere behind the counter.
Over on a table to the side, the much older couple Alzack and Bisca gave them a wave. Macao and Wakaba looked up from their game of poker, the younger Romeo and Wendy clearly winning the hand. And in the center of the room, sitting at two large tables pulled together, were her friends.
Natsu was there, of course, waving frantically beside Gray, who nodded. Erza glanced up from her arm wrestling against Jellal, a match she was currently slaughtering the other at. Levy sat beside Gajeel with her nose buried in her book, and Cana saluted with her probably alcohol-laced coffee.
Lucy and Juvia took their seats gratefully, mixing in with the chatter. Their table had a tendency to sit together, as they were all in same grade. The nine had been close since freshman year.
"So, did everyone see the poster for prom?" Lucy asked above the chatter. Natsu pounded his fist on the table.
"Yes, and I lost twenty bucks!"
"Those were my twenty bucks!"
"Hehe, sorry Luce!"
"I don't think I'm going to go," Gray said. Juvia visibly slumped. Lucy sighed.
"But isn't Winter Wonderland your cup of tea?" Levy asked. Gray looked surprised.
"Oh, it's Winter Wonderland?"
"You idiot, that's what I gave you the twenty bucks for!" Natsu yelled.
"Oh, I thought that was for last month's bet."
As Natsu attempted to impale his head through the table, Mirajane sauntered over to them. "Oh, is it that time of year again?" She asked innocently. Lucy grimaced; Mirajane was notorious for turning into a demon whenever prom was mentioned. Every single year she turned on her match-making persona. It was because of her Alzack and Bisca got together, and Elfman and Evergreen, and she had even gotten herself together with Freed. Ever since she had appointed herself Head Matchmaker of Fairy Tail.
"I'm not going," Cana announced. Levy nodded her head in agreement.
Erza's jaw hit the table. "But aren't we all going dress shopping together?!"
Cana ignored her, but Levy squeaked in a terrified voice. "Um, yes? Yes we are?"
Mirajane clapped her hands together. "And who's taking who?"
Immediately, the entire table turned beet red. Well, except for Cana, who threw her hands up in the air. "I'm going to go play poker!" She announced, leaving the table.
Lucy couldn't stop her gaze from wandering to where Natsu was sitting. Angrily, she forced herself not to look at him, and instead watched Erza and Jellal. They were entertaining, to say the least.
And really, how one hadn't asked the other one out yet was beyond Lucy's realm of knowledge. Probably, they were too afraid of destroying their friendship, even though it was so obvious how in love they were.
Sound familiar, Lucy?
She pushed her traitorous thoughts down. Instead she amused herself by watching Jellal squirm as Erza fiddled with her fingers. The latter had turned nearly as red as her hair.
That night, Lucy lay in bed with her phone on speaker, writing vaguely as she sat on conference call with Levy, Juvia, Erza, and Cana. They still had not managed to talk Cana into joining them, it seemed she had been invited to a party by some college boys and was dead set on going.
"Yeah, some of the boys from Quattro College really want me there," Cana said flirtatiously. "How can I say no?"
"Partying with college kids," Lucy sighed at her friend. "You really must be Gildarts' daughter."
"Don't tell him!"
But although Cana was out for prom, the other four had made solid plans to go dress shopping that weekend. Lucy was glad to hear she wasn't the only girl who had been dreaming about prom her entire life.
They exited the conversation one by one, promising to see each other sometime soon, until it was only Lucy and Levy left. The blonde sighed, not even paying attention to her doodles anymore as she unloaded the day's misery onto Levy.
"And then Minerva says that we can only have the best dates!" She sighed. "I don't know how to live up to her standards. I don't even know who I want to ask me!"
Levy gave a cough that sounded suspiciously like 'Natsu' but Lucy pointedly ignored her. "Who even qualifies as a jock, anyway?"
"Well, the football team is a first," Levy pointed out. "You could ask almost any one of them and you'd be guaranteed Minerva's favour. The Ravens are having a spectacular season, thanks to Sting."
Lucy frowned deeply at the mention of the arrogant quarterback. "I hate him."
"Me, too," said Levy simply. "Rogue's not bad, though."
Lucy rolled over, abandoning the sappy poetry she was trying. "Whatever, Levy. I'll see you tomorrow, okay?"
"Okay. Night, Lu-chan."
She clicked off the phone, turning back to the poetry. To her, none of it was even worth looking at. She crumpled them up and tossed the paper into the trash bin.
Her phone buzzed again and she slid it unlocked. Not bothering to turn off speaker, she buried her face in the pillow and answered. "Hello?"
"Luce, it's me!"
She groaned loudly. "Natsu, why are you calling me at midnight?"
"CoD marathon with Popsicle Pants. I need something to vent my anger on!" She could hear the sound effects of the game through the speaker, and her lips twitched in amusement as she vaguely heard Gray swearing through another line. "Oh, and Happy says hi."
Lucy heard the cat purring into the speaker. "Hello to you, too, Happy."
Sighing, Lucy took out another piece of paper and once again began to write half-heartedly as she talked to Natsu. If she started doodling hearts all over the paper, she firmly ignored it.
"And you fell asleep talking to him?"
Lucy flushed under Levy's intense glare. Mira clapped her hands together victoriously. "You two make such a cute couple! I can't wait until he asks you out!"
She glared at the older woman. "Who even invited you?"
"I'm your fashion consultant," Mira sniffed, pointing her nose in the air. "I'm here to make sure you don't make a ridiculous dress choice."
Levy, Lucy, Juvia and Mira had all linked arms as they followed Erza down the mall. They had passed almost five dress stores now, and had admired from the windows, but all four were too nervous to actually go in and try some on. Mira was losing her patience.
"I left the bar in the hands of my sweet but incapable boyfriend for this!" She complained. "The next store we pass, you have to go in!"
As fate would have it, it was the most expensive boutique Magnolia Hills Mall had to offer. Mira led the way in as the four seniors followed, tiptoeing around the tulle.
"Morning, Mirajane!" The store owner greeted, apparently well acquainted with Mira already. "Who do we have this year?"
Mira swept her hands out in joy. "This is Lucy Heartfilia, Levy McGarden, Juvia Loxar and Erza Scarlet! Girls, this is Sherry Blendy, the owner of Blendy's Boutique!"
The woman with wavy magenta hair clapped her hands together. "Ah, yes...I remember it was so long ago my fiancée Ren asked me to go with him...of course I had the most beautiful dress...but what made me the most beautiful was the power of love!" She clasped her hands together. "I don't understand why Magnolia High sets out its prom dates so late, because it gives no time for girls to pre-order dresses. Luckily for all of you, only I can make alterations to make dresses perfect so quickly!"
As Mira and Sherry chatted away happily, the four girls turned to look at the dresses. They were ranging from every colour and style Lucy thought was imaginable. Any girl in the world could have found a dress here and looked good in it, too. Even Levy had started to look excited.
"Still don't want to go?" Lucy asked her teasingly. Grinning, she pulled a sultry number from the rack. "Hey, wear this and Gajeel will have to ask you!"
Erza gave a scandalous gasp. "Lucy! Put that thing back!" She set the daring dress back on the rack, and pulled the other three into a tight group hug.
"Listen to me, girls. I know that we are all hoping to be asked to prom by a special someone-"
"Even you, Erza?"
"-but I would like to say that it won't matter if none of us are asked." She grinned at all of them. "We will all be together anyway."
Levy and Juvia grinned, hugging Erza tightly. Lucy smiled, too, but there was still something nagging her.
If I don't have the perfect date I'll be shunned by the squad forever.
This sentiment stayed with her as all four of them tried on multiple dresses with Sherry and Mira's help. Levy sidled to Lucy's side, blushing slightly as she did.
"I don't think any of these dresses work for me," she confessed quietly. "I'm just not built to fill them out."
Lucy patted her shoulder sympathetically. "Levy, not every type of dress works for every type of girl. For example, would Erza be able to pull off a poufy pink puffball? No. But can she work those strapless, tight-fitting evening gowns?" She gestured to the wine red satin Erza was currently modelling. "Better then you or I, I'd say."
Levy grinned. "I guess every girl has their own style that works for them, huh?"
"So what kind of dress are you looking for?" Levy inquired. So far, Lucy had only tried on two and not been impressed with either.
Somewhere, lodged deep in a childhood memory, she knew that she wanted to be a princess. Sparkling ball gown, tiara, glass slippers, the whole shebang. And as she grew up Lucy had been still holding on to that little girl fantasy, even as the fashions changed and suddenly Disney was no longer an acceptable style.
"Just something that works for me, I guess."
Levy clucked her tongue. "Don't hold yourself back, Lu-chan." Then she gasped. "Oh, Erza! That's perfect!"
Even Lucy was struck speechless. Indeed, it was stunning. Blue as midnight, with a sweetheart neckline and sleeves ending in delicate ruffles at the elbows. The A-line skirt just grazed the ground, and the hem was dusted in white sparkles, making Erza look like she was walking on clouds. Her red hair stood out, matching her flushing cheeks. It was sweet and delicate and feminine, and nothing that anyone would have pictured on Erza Scarlet. She looked magnificent.
"You have to buy it," declared Mira, to a round of vigorous agreement.
They left the store with a fresh receipt and Sherry's promises to have the dress altered and ready in five days time. Even if Erza had been the only one successful, both Juvia and Levy knew they would be back tomorrow night and every week night to peruse Sherry's shelves until they found something just as perfect. Mira dragged her to the shoe department next, and they started looking for shoes for Erza. After purchasing black sandals with a low heel, then running to the jewellery store and buying a necklace with a black stone embedded with sapphires, and a black satin clutch purse with a delicate bow, they collapsed in a heap at the food court.
"My debit card is dead," Erza mourned, staring that the cheap plastic. "I've worn it out. I'll never be able to buy anything again."
"It died for a good cause," Mira said comfortingly. "And just think! Lucy, Juvia, and Levy will all have to go through this as well!"
They groaned in unison. Mira beamed. "I can't wait until next year when it's Lisanna's turn."
Sighing, Lucy put her head in her hands. "My feet feel like they have knives digging into them."
"Get used to it," said Mira, her voice suddenly sharp. "By the end of the night your feet will be numb from pain."
Levy whimpered. "I'm wearing flats."
"Your feet will cramp."
"Don't you dare!"
After food was ordered and Lucy graciously offered to treat Erza, who was of course dead broke, their conversation turned toward a slightly more scandalous affair. Specifically, what happened after prom. "You may want to invest in some sexy lingerie," Mira said with such a straight face that all four spit out their food.
"Mira!" Lucy gasped, completely scandalized. Levy's face had turned near purple with embarrassment, and Erza looked like she'd died. Juvia looked like she might already be in heaven with fantasies of Gray.
"What?' Mira looked affronted. "It's true! Prom night is the night for a girl to lose her-"
"Stop!" Lucy shrieked, covering her friend's mouth with her hand. Mira licked it, and she shrieked even louder.
"Anyway. Most boys rent a room in a hotel for afterwards. And 99 per cent of them will have protection in their wallets. If there is even the slightest chance that something will happen, you have to be prepared!"
"I can't believe we are having this conversation," said Lucy faintly.
"And if any of you need help in what to look for, I happen to be the expert in this kind of thing-"
All five swivelled their heads to see the newcomer. Jellal was standing by their table, clutching a McDonald's bag in one hand. "Oh, Erza!" He greeted. "You're here too!"
Lucy noticed Erza surreptitiously fold down her shopping back to hide her purchases from her best friend. "Jellal! I didn't expect to see you here!"
He grinned sheepishly. "Ah, yeah, I was kinda shopping for prom," he confessed. Lucy's eyebrows shot into her hairline. Erza flushed.
Mira giggled. "You're just in time, Jellal. We were discussing the benefits of buying sexy lingerie. What do you think?"
And everyone else promptly fell out of their chairs. Jellal turned so red his tattoo disappeared. "I, ah, hadn't exactly given it much thought," he stumbled. Lucy felt sorry for the poor boy. Taking a deep, shuddering breath, he turned to Erza. "Um, can I talk to you for a minute, Erza?"
"Yes, of course." The flustered redhead stood quickly, brushing off her skirt. "Please excuse me, everyone, I will be right back."
They pretended to leave her alone, but the second Jellal and Erza were out of earshot the whole group huddled around the table, eating fries as they watched their friends like some soap opera. "He's totally going to do it," Levy said. Juvia nodded resolutely.
They watched in glee as Erza clapped both hands to her mouth, then threw her arms around Jellal. They also giggled guiltily at the face he made. Erza bear-hugs were not for the faint of heart.
Lucy felt a warm tingle in her heart as she watched them. Here they were, two of the least popular people she knew – Erza who scared off every boy she talked to and Jellal who peddled mist guns under the table – two people who were not at all what Minerva considered date material who looked happier than Minerva ever had in her entire life.
It was unfair, Lucy thought. Her friends were the sweetest, nicest, most warm and passionate people she'd ever known. She couldn't even begin to comprehend why they were not the most popular people in the whole school.
That Monday, everyone was abuzz with chatter about prom. It seemed the Winter Wonderland theme had caught on quickly, and some girls were even considering bringing mufflers and scarves. Lucy found herself spending Monday's classes drawing tiaras all over her notes.
The Tigers, too, were completely wrapped up in the prom fever. No practice got done, instead they lounged on the mats while the younger girls did reps.
"Did anyone get asked yet?" Minerva asked, sounding genuinely curious. Her eyes flickered over Lucy, pausing disdainfully, before moving on. "Kinana?"
The girl was blushing prettily. "Cobra asked me," she said timidly. Angel and Imitatia both clapped loudly; Cobra was a good friend of theirs.
Minerva, too, applauded. "Center forward of the basketball team," she said approvingly. "Nice catch, Kinana. Well done."
"Well, we've been friends since we were-"
"And speaking of basketball," Minerva cut over her. Lucy frowned, offering Kinana a consoling glance. The other girl avoided her gaze, however, and Minerva continued on. "The Six Prayers are simply a stunning team. And their captain is quite the hottie. Anyone interested in him?"
"Who, Midnight?" Imitatia grinned. "Oh, he asked me. I just haven't decided if I'll say yes yet!" She and Angel dissolved into giggles.
"What about you, Angel?" Minerva continued. The girl shrugged languidly.
"I've had about ten offers. None of them were good enough, though."
"Still, ten offers, quite impressive," Minerva smiled. "Remember, only the best for us!"
The talk continued, Yukino had been thinking of asking Rogue and Ultear had already turned down several hopefuls. Lucy felt a sense of dread forming in her stomach. It had only been three days, and this was already the result? What kind of monsters were these girls?
"What about you, Minerva?" Yukino asked in her soft voice. Minerva pulled her lips over her teeth, rolling eyes at her friend.
"Isn't it obvious? As captain of the cheerleading squad, there is only one possible date for me."
"The quarterback?" Lucy guessed. Minerva glared at her.
"Sting Eucliffe is indeed, Miss Heartfilia, the only one I will consider taking."
She fought the urge to vomit. What a horrible cliché.
"Has he asked you yet?" Angel inquired. Minerva giggled.
"Oh, please. I know his play. He's the most popular boy in the whole school, he's going to milk it until the last second. He wants to see just how many girls will ask him before he settles. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if he asks me the Thursday before."
"But you aren't worried?"
Minerva radiated confidence as she answered. "Darling, I'm me. How could I possibly be worried?"
After practice, Ultear walked to the change room with Lucy. "Listen," she said softly. "Don't listen to what Minerva says. You can go with whoever you want to go with."
Lucy smiled at her, but it wasn't a real one. "I'm worried if I don't she'll find some way to kick me off the squad."
Ultear shook her head. "I'll make sure that won't happen." Her face was warm as she spoke. "I heard about Jellal and Erza. They must be so happy."
"Yeah." Now Lucy's smile was genuine. "They're over the moon."
"Good. Jellal deserves a little happiness in his life." Ultear leaned a little closer to Lucy. "Hey, um, do you think you could do me a huge favour?"
Lucy was a little surprised, but intrigued nonetheless. Normally, Ultear wasn't the kind of girl to ask for help. "What do you need?"
She sighed. "I really want Lyon to ask me to prom," she sighed. "If there's anyone I want to go with at all, he would be my pick. But he just wants Juvia, right?"
"Right?" Lucy asked, a little unsure. If Ultear asked her to off Juvia, she might have to say no.
"And I know Juvia desperately wants to go with Gray. If you ask me, Gray going with Juvia would be really good for him." She sighed. Lucy was even more surprised now. Sometimes she forgot how well Ultear actually knew Gray. "So, can you get Gray to ask Juvia? Then maybe Lyon will ask me."
Lucy nodded. "Um, yeah. I'll try my best."
Ultear hugged her. "Thank you. This means a lot to me." One of the younger cheer girls entered, and she went to talk to her. "Meredy! Wait up!"
That evening, as the group hung out in Fairy Tail, Lucy went to talk to Gray. "Hey," she greeted him, sitting down in the chair next to his. He acknowledged her with a nod. "So. Given any thought to prom?"
He shrugged. "Not really. Why, have you?"
She shrugged, imitating him. "Maybe."
"What do you want, Lucy?" he sighed. "I know you aren't going to ask me because you're waiting for Natsu."
"I am not!" she screeched, whipping her head around to see where Natsu was sitting. He was locked in a Pokémon battle with Gajeel, and appeared not to have heard. She turned back to Gray. "I am not waiting for Natsu to ask me."
He grinned sideways at her. "Touchy."
She huffed. "Anyway, I was just going to ask you if you were okay with Juvia going to prom with Lyon."
"What?!" He shot up in his seat. "She's what?"
Lucy grinned in revenge. "Now who's touchy?"
Gray looked around to Juvia. "There's no way she's going with that douche."
"No, she's not," Lucy soothed, patting his arm. "Why, jealous?"
"No one should have to go with him."
Lucy deflated. This was going to be harder than she thought. Then, suddenly, inspiration struck her. If Gray could actually see Lyon asking Juvia-
Now with a grin stretched across her face, Lucy began formulating her plan. Oh, Mira would have been so proud of her.
She decided to enact her plan that Wednesday. It was a simple enough mission: find Gray and drag him to the pool where he would witness firsthand Lyon's attempts on Juvia and promptly blow up in a jealous rage and ask her to prom for the benefits of everyone. Gray was easy enough to find; Lucy had slipped away from practice under the pretence of using the ladies room and grabbed Gray from his after school jog around the track. With nothing but the cry of, "Help!" he'd followed her and was now actually storming in front of her, shirtless glory and all. It was, indeed, a perfect plan.
She just hadn't counted on Natsu.
"Where are we going?" He complained loudly. Lucy shushed him, smacking her hands over his mouth. Luckily Gray did not notice, they were too close to the pool to mess up now! In a slightly quieter voice Natsu grumbled, "Why do we have to follow Ice Brain?"
"Because this is going to be epic," Lucy answered cryptically. "Ah! There it is!"
She watched in joy as Gray swung open the doors, storming into the school's vast swimming pool. Lucy snuck in behind him, ducking behind the bleachers and dragging Natsu down with her.
Juvia emerged from the water, looking absolutely glorious in her uniform bathing suit. It was Lucy's belief that only Juvia could make a navy one-piece look sexy, even with the swim cap. She popped it off, letting her bone-dry blue curls cascade down her wet shoulders. When she saw Gray, her face lit up into a wonderful smile, blushing slightly at his shirtless form.
"Gray-sama!" She called happily, giving him a wave.
"Whoah," Natsu whispered. "Juvia looks really good!"
Lucy shushed him again. She was completely entranced by what was about to happen, and worried Natsu might give away their position. So she shoved him down and covered his mouth with her hands.
Gray, on the other hand, seemed to take no notice of Juvia's intense beauty because his eyes never strayed from her face. "Where is he?" He asked intently.
"Where is who?" Juvia inquired. Her hair had started to go damp around the ends. "Juvia is just glad to see Gray-sama! Has he come to watch her swim?" Her cheeks were glowing with pleasure.
"I think he means me," drawled a third voice. Lyon stepped out of the sauna, forehead drenched in sweat. "So, Fullbuster. Come to check out my prom date?"
Juvia stamped her foot on the ground. "Juvia is not going with Lyon-sama!" She argued. "Juvia sees him as nothing but a friend!"
He waved his hand vaguely at her. "Hush, my love. We shall be together soon enough."
Gray growled. "I think you should listen to the lady when she talks."
"Ooh! Gray-sama thinks of Juvia as a lady!"
"Why?" Lyon sneered, ignoring her completely. "Are you going to ask her? Go on, then, do it!"
Lucy tensed. This was it! "Come on, Gray," she hissed, leaning forward in anticipation.
Gray, for his part, looked completely taken aback. "What does that have to do with anything?" He asked in bewilderment.
Juvia deflated. "Juvia knew it. Gray-sama doesn't want to go with her."
He looked to Juvia in alarm, but before he could say anything, Lyon stepped up and wrapped his arm around her. "Then it's settled, Juvia, my darling. You'll come with me."
To Lucy's surprise, Juvia didn't fight off Lyon's arm. She looked crushed. "Juvia supposes...she should probably go with someone who really wants her, right?"
Then Gray did something that surprised everyone. He grabbed Lyon's arm and threw it off. "Don't go taking what's mine," he said, seriousness completely taking over his voice.
Lyon gaped. "Yours? What?"
"Mine," Gray growled, grabbing Juvia's wrist and tugging her away. Juvia's eyes were wide, tears forming in the corners.
"Gray-sama?" She asked. "What are you saying?"
Sticking his finger in Lyon's face, Gray shouted, "Listen up! From this day forward, Juvia is my girlfriend! Meaning you can't hit on her anymore! Got it?"
Lucy squealed in pure delight. Natsu gave her a muffled shht!
Lyon stared at them, eyes uncomprehending. Giggling, Juvia reached forward and poked him in the chest, causing him to tumble over backwards into the pool. As he gasped and sputtered, Gray turned to Juvia, and with a grin, pushed her in as well.
As Gray threw off his pants and jumped after them, Lucy tugged Natsu out of their hiding spot. "Come on, let's leave them," she insisted, as they suck back out through the doors.
Walking back to cheer practice, Lucy stretched in contentment. She felt happier than ever; because of her a new happy couple had been formed. She gave herself a congratulatory pat on the back, beaming.
Natsu watched her with a bemused face. "You are so weird, Luce."
It was at that time she noticed a clock and therefore noticed the time. And that she'd been gone from practice for nearly an hour. Screeching, she gave Natsu a hurried goodbye before dashing off to save her soul from Minerva's wrath.
Unbeknownst to Lucy, as Natsu stood alone in the hallway watching her go, a figure emerged from the shadows. "She looks awfully lovely in that cheerleader costume, doesn't she?"
Natsu glanced at the stranger. "Who are you?"
"I'm Dan Straight, and I'm going to ask Lulu to prom!"
Friday found Lucy completely exhausted, and looking more forward to the weekend than she ever had in her life. But at the same time, she dreaded each day that passed, because now prom was only a week away and she still didn't have a date.
At least she had offers, though.
"Lulu! Please come with me!"
"Stop calling me that!" She snapped angrily, throwing her things into her gym bag. She was terrified of going out the door, because she knew on the other side the baseball-idiot Dan was waiting for her. Two days of ducking and avoiding his requests and what did she get? Nothing but misery.
Minerva, meanwhile, was looking at Lucy like she was an idiot. "Dan is perfectly acceptable," she said. "He's the captain of the baseball team!"
"Then you go with him," Lucy growled. She was not in the mood for fun and games today. She was meeting Levy and Juvia to go dress shopping and really just wanted to escape the school grounds.
She threw open the door with so much gusto in smacked Dan in the face. Rounding on him, she demanded, "Why are you so keen to go with me?"
"Because you're the love of my life..."
"You're a cheerleader! I love cheerleaders!"
"Ugh!" Lucy threw her hands in the air. "Why can't you just go with Imitatia? Huh?"
"I like my girls with spunk," he said, twirling an imaginary beard. Lucy felt a temple twitch.
"You're telling me Imitatia doesn't have spunk?"
Dan didn't answer, merely sent Lucy a puppy-dog face. She ignored it completely; she was only prone to the puppy-eyes of two people, and those were Levy and Natsu.
"Go with Angel," she ordered, as said girl came out of the change room. Dan glanced at her as she passed, then did a swift double take and let his jaw hit to floor.
"Angie!" He gasped. "My love! Go to the prom with me!"
She giggled. "Okay."
Sighing, Lucy escaped the two, feeling an incredible weight lift off her shoulders. Sure, so she was one suitor down and had just helped her mortal enemy get a date. She was free of Mr Dan Straight, and could now focus her entire energy on Juvia's dress.
The two girls were waiting for her near the bus stop, hands clasped and talking excitedly. Lucy grinned as she approached. Ever since Gray finally asked Juvia out, she had been an unstoppable ball of energy. Juvia pounced on Lucy the moment she neared them, giving her a bone-crushing hug. "Lucy! Have you heard! Juvia is Gray-sama's girlfriend!"
"Yes, Juvia," Lucy patted her back comfortingly. "You've told me at least ten times already!" Not to mention she was there when it had happened.
Grinning like a madwoman, Juvia grasped both Levy and Lucy's hands and dragged them all the way to the mall where they burst into Sherry's.
Greeting them with a wave was a complete surprise. "Wendy!" Lucy gasped in delight. "What are you doing here?"
"Shelia is my best friend," Wendy explained, linking her arms with a young girl who looked a lot like Sherry. "I come in here and hang out sometimes!"
At that moment Sherry came sailing through the back doors, a look of pure bliss on her face. "Welcome back, girls!" She said airily. "I trust you bring me good news?"
"Juvia has a boyfriend now!" Juvia squealed. Sherry gave a gasp of pure delight.
"Then you absolutely must have a dress! Pronto!" She giggled, rummaging through her back shelves. "Now, I know we didn't have much luck the last three times you were here, but now that you have a boyfriend it will be so much easier! What do you want him to see you like?"
Juvia was too busy lost in heaven, as she was every time Gray was mentioned in the context of 'boyfriend.'
"Get her something super-duper sexy," said Levy teasingly, elbowing Juvia.
"Get her something that isn't blue," Lucy said suddenly. The thought had struck her that everyone, Gray included, had only ever seen Juvia in various shades of blue. "Get her something that will stand out."
Sherry clapped her hands together. "Reds and pinks, then!" And she dashed to the shelves in happiness.
Levy sat on a chair beside Lucy, as Wendy and Shelia also perused the racks looking for a dress for Juvia. "So, how has it been on the war front?"
Lucy sighed. "Unbelievable. Apart from Minerva, who's just waiting on Sting, everyone already has a date."
"Oh? I'm curious now, who's taking who?"
Lucy ticked them off on her fingers. "Yukino is going with Rogue, Ultear is going with Lyon, Kinana is going with Cobra, Imitatia is going with Midnight," she shuddered. "And as of today Angel is going with Dan Straight."
"Wow," Levy blinked. "They really take the whole jock thing seriously, don't they? That's baseball, football, basketball, and swim." She grinned. "Hey, that just leaves the soccer team for you, Lu-chan."
"Agh!" Lucy gasped. "I will die before I go to prom with any of the Grim Hearts!"
Levy laughed loudly. "Go with Kain. You'll make a perfect couple."
She smacked her friend, hard. "Levy!"
Juvia stepped out of the changing room, and on to the platform. "So?" She asked timidly. "Sherry says it's perfect."
The dress was shiny and red, form fitting until mid-thigh where it flared out, mermaid style. Under the bust line, a thick belt adorned with rhinestones sparkled and the cut from tight to flare was decorated with a white and silver creeping vine pattern. White lace cascaded out from under the dress.
"Wow!" Was all Levy could manage. Seeing Juvia in red was a sight to behold indeed, and Lucy had a feeling Gray would not be able to keep his hands off her. She gave Juvia a double thumbs-up.
"Sherry's right," she agreed. "Match it with diamond earring and you'll be unstoppable."
Juvia blushed in pleasure.
After accompanying her to the shoe store for a pair of silver strappy sandals, Lucy took her leave from the two. They decided to continue on looking for jewellery, bidding Lucy a cheerful farewell.
Lucy, for her part, found herself standing outside Natsu's door without even realizing that was where she was going.
She knocked tentatively. She heard shuffling, and a few yells, before the door was opened to reveal an older man with messy red hair. He smiled graciously when he saw her. "Ah, good evening, Lucy! Natsu didn't mention you were coming!"
"Aha, he didn't exactly know I was coming," Lucy confessed.
Igneel shot her a knowing smile. "Then by all means," he bowed, opening the door wider for her. "Come in!"
She thanked him, passing over the threshold and trying to hide the mad blush. Things were really getting out of control when his dad thought she liked Natsu.
After wandering down the stairs, Lucy found him in his basement bedroom, standing on his couch and furiously slamming down on the Xbox controller. "Die!" he yelled at the screen, looking seconds away from breathing fire.
Lucy poked him as she stepped closer. He yelped, pausing his game and glancing down at her. "Ah, Luce! When'd you get here?"
"Just now," she hummed. "Can I hang out for a bit?"
"Don't even need to ask," he grinned at her.
Lucy would never admit to her friends that she spent almost the entire weekend at Natsu's house, but when a family offered you delicious food three meals a day, what were you supposed to say? Sure, she went home at night, but by lunchtime the next day she constantly found herself outside Natsu's door.
"We should just get you a key," Natsu commented on the Sunday evening. He, Lucy, and Happy were dog piled on the couch; he was slouched against the back while Lucy sat sideways with her legs resting across his lap and Happy curled up on her stomach. They were half-heartedly watching some superhero movie, eating popcorn from a giant dish.
Lucy frowned as Natsu dropped some popcorn on the floor. "Ew, your room is such a mess."
He swept an arm around lazily. "Welcome to Casa Natsu!" He said with a cheeky grin. Lucy always hated to see how messy Natsu's room could get because he never bothered to clean it. At one point during middle school, she heard, it had been so bad you could dig an underground fort through the pile of junk.
Groaning, Lucy shifted her position so that she was closer to the popcorn. In doing so, she inadvertently found herself curled up against Natsu's side, with his arm resting comfortable around her. Happy mewled and moved to sit in the hollow behind Lucy's knees.
She giggled. "Happy, that tickles."
The cat meowed cheekily, licking the underside of her knee. Lucy squirmed, and Natsu's arm pulled tighter. "Luce, stop moving!" he laughed.
That had been the night before, and now Lucy found herself completely unable to pay attention in any of her classes, much less to what Minerva was saying during practice. She rocked back and forth, trying to make sense of her whirling thoughts.
Or rather, her constantly repeating thoughts of I don't like Natsu I don't like Natsu I DON'T LIKE NATSU!
She was starting to have trouble convincing herself.
And to make matters worse, now that the rest of the team had dates the talk had shifted to dresses.
"I'm definitely going for something totally unexpected," Angel was saying. "You know, like, instead of dressing like an angel, I'm gonna dress like a sexy demon or something, you know, like all red and blacks."
Imitatia shook her head. "Mmm, no. I'm going to stay with what I do best, green and low cut!" She smirked at the others. "I mean, if you got it, why don't you flaunt it?"
Kinana, who had already purchased a dress, was passing around her phone, from which she had snapped a picture. The dress was snakeskin, and on the hanger it simply looked like a tube. On Kinana, it accented her every curve and looked like it could kill.
Ultear, too, had a dress. She showed everyone the picture of the pale silver and lilac toga-style gown. Yukino politely demurred, saying she hadn't yet found something perfect.
Now all eyes were on Minerva. She gave them all a sigh. "Girls, please. I pre-ordered my dress months ago. It's coming from New York."
"Ooooh!" Angel clapped her hands together. "Can we see a picture?"
"All you need to know," said Minerva, "Is that it's black. And it's tight."
Lucy fought the urge to groan. Did every single one of them have a tight-fitting dress? Was it completely wrong for her to want something poufy?
"And what about you, Lucy?" Minerva turned on her now. "I don't suppose you have a dress?"
"No, not yet," Lucy mumbled. Minerva's lips stretched into a cruel smile.
"Just like your lack of date," she sneered. "Better get a move on."
As practice was dismissed, the other girls stood up and left as Lucy continued to sit. She stared at the mats, fighting off the tears gathering in her eyes. Ultear came to crouch beside her, sympathetically touching her shoulder.
"Lucy, please don't let Minerva get to you."
She raised her eyes, wiping at her face. "Yeah, I know. I'm fine, Ultear, really." She smiled. "But thank you."
Squeezing her shoulder, Ultear stood. "Thanks for helping with Gray and Juvia, by the way. You and Natsu make quite a team~"
Lucy spluttered. "He-he was there totally by accident!" She argued shrilly. "We aren't a team!"
Ultear winked, and sauntered off. Lucy curled into a ball, holding her head in her hands.
Why? Why did everyone think that she liked Natsu? They all told her it was obvious. In Levy's words, it was 'plain as the nose on her face!' But how could it be so obvious if it just wasn't true?! Natsu was absolutely nothing but her best friend that she wanted to spend every second of every day with. Nothing more!
Not trusting her own thoughts, Lucy dialled Erza's number. A conversation with her was guaranteed to get her mind off of Natsu. "Erza, help me!" she wailed when the other picked up.
"Help you with what?" Came a cheeky voice. Lucy started. Levy! Oh, no, she couldn't talk to Levy, that would only end in disaster!
"Good evening, Lucy," Erza cut in smoothly. "Levy and I are on conference with Juvia."
"Hi!" The other called sweetly.
"Hi, guys," Lucy groaned. So much for good advice.
Their conversation turned, as it always seemed to, to prom night. Erza had decided that they should all get ready together, bring their dresses to someone's house so that they could get their hair and makeup done earlier together.
A thought struck Lucy. "Oh, guys, come to my house! I have the perfect staircase!"
Running outside her room, she grinned at the grand staircase in her front hall. The steps were perfect, they started sideways and slowly turned and widened. Even the railing was perfect, the iron-wrought ivy leaf pattern was delicate and beautiful.
Levy, who had seen Lucy's stairs before, gasped. "Oh, Lu-chan, can we really use your house?"
"Um, hold on one sec." She yelled up to her dad in his study. He replied yes, and she squealed in delight. "Yep, we're good to go!"
"Yay!" Levy cheered. Juvia and Erza chattered happily.
"Okay, guys." Lucy nodded. "Here's the deal. Bring your dress to my house Thursday evening. Meet at my place at ten, and we can do our own hair and makeup."
"Is it really going to take us that long? Prom starts at six," Erza inquired, sounding amazed.
"Yes," all three answered her.
After she hung up the phone, Lucy set about to arranging her room for Friday. Maybe it was only a week away, but one could never start planning too soon, right? She set up the large gilded mirror, cleaned out her closet to make space for four dresses to hang, pulled out every bit of makeup and hair product she'd ever owned and created a pile of fashion magazines for ideas.
Deep breath. Four more days, Lucy! And still neither she nor Levy had a dress or a date.
"I'll be your date, Levy," she said to herself. Then shook her head, because there was no way Minerva would ever let her get away with showing up with a friend as her date.
"Okay!" She squared her shoulders. Tomorrow, she would get a date.
Tomorrow ended up not going as Lucy would have hoped.
She trudged down the halls, Tuesday being the only day she didn't have practice. Levy was walking beside her, and she clung to the smaller girl like a lifeline. "I just don't know what to do!" She groaned. "I have searched every corner of this school! There is not one 'jock' I would want to go to prom with, not even a benchwarmer!"
Levy disentangled herself from Lucy, staring at her with very dead serious eyes. "Listen to me, Lu-can. I'm not teasing you. Go with Natsu."
"I can't," Lucy said miserably. "He's just a friend."
"You've been telling yourself that so much, I'm starting to think you're only doing it to convince yourself!" Levy argued, temper flaring visibly.
Lucy cursed inwardly. Levy was way too good at reading people's emotions. Wait, but that didn't even matter, because she wasn't hiding anything!
They hadn't noticed that they had appeared near the soccer field outside the school. Several members of the soccer team were lounging by the fence. Lucy's lip curled in disgust as she passed; the Grim Hearts were the least popular of all the schools teams because of their bad habits of fighting dirty and their rude attitudes.
The only one who could have been considered attractive, a boy called Zancrow, gave them a wolf-whistle as they passed. "Hey, Heartfilia! Nice seeing you on our side of the field."
She pointedly turned her head. "Ignore them Levy, I hate them all," she said quietly. "Let's go shopping, okay?"
"'Kay," Levy answered, but with a small pop two figures appeared by their sides. Acne-plagued with bad breath, and one with a smell like rotten eggs. Levy immediately crossed her arms in defense.
Lucy glared fiercely at both of them. "Leave us alone, Kawazu, Yomazu," she demanded. They snickered rudely at her.
"Lucy, you haven't introduced us to your friend!" Cackled Kawazu. "She's cute, who is she?"
Levy plugged her nose. "None of your business."
They continued walking, but found themselves shadowed by the two annoying figures. "Come on, it's perfect!" Argued Yomazu. "Two of you, two of us! The perfect prom dates!"
Lucy turned on him, eyes flashing. "I thought I told you to leave us the f-"
She walked back right in to something. Startled, she glanced up; but it was not seeing the person she walked into that caused her to recognize him. She knew who it was from the second she heard Levy give a glad cry of "Gajeel!"
He glowered down at them, arms crossed over his broad chest. "These two bothering you?" He asked the girls, voice gruff.
"Yes." Lucy snapped. Gajeel shifted his stance. Kawazu and Yomazu gulped and clutched at each other's soccer jerseys.
"Beat it," he said, and they shrieked and ran away.
Levy giggled and clapped her hands together. "Wow, Gajeel. You were such a hero!"
He snorted at her. "I ain't nobody's hero, shrimp." He said turning his back and walking away. Levy watched him go sadly.
"You're mine," she said softly.
Lucy stared at her friend incredulously. "Are you an idiot?"
Levy started. "What?"
She pointed after Gajeel's retreating figure. "I am not teasing you either, Levy. Go and tell him how you feel."
Levy gulped, nodded, and took off sprinting after him. Lucy watched from a pleasant distance as she caught up to him, and pulled on his arm.
She couldn't hear any of the conversation, but she could see Levy waving her arms and Gajeel turning his face to the side. She could hear an argument break out, and Levy hitting him pretty hard, Levy turning to go, and Gajeel catching her by the wrist so he could spin her around and kiss her.
Lucy covered her mouth with her hands to keep from screaming with joy. She turned her face, determined not to intrude on the couple's happy moment. She waited, with her face turned to the sky until she heard Levy's distinctive footsteps coming up behind her.
"So," she asked, with a very self-satisfied grin. "Got a prom date?"
"I feel kinda bad," Levy confessed, twirling a lock of hair around her finger and looking rather like she'd lost all her senses. Lucy supposed there really was meaning to the words 'kissed senseless.' "You're the only one without a date."
"Relax!" Lucy felt a million times better, as she usually did when things like this happened. "I'll find one by Thursday, don't you worry!"
"That's only two days," said Levy, still worried. "Are you sure?"
"Only two days?" Lucy gasped dramatically. "Oh, no! That can only mean one thing!"
"Last minute dress shopping!"
She felt almost bad for Sherry, what with she and her friends having tried on nearly every dress in the boutique. But Sherry still welcomed them with open arms, talking to Levy about dresses she could buy off-the-rack.
"I still don't know what kind of thing I'm looking for!" Levy complained, passing by another pink dress that was, in Lucy's opinion, a masterpiece. "Erza's got the delicate pretty thing and Juvia's the stunning sexy, so what about me? I can't do either of those!"
"Start with colour," Sherry advised. "Once you know the colour you can narrow it down."
"Should go steel grey," Lucy teased. Then a light bulb flicked on in her head. "Oh, Levy! I've got it, go with a brown one!"
"Brown?" Levy wrinkled her nose. "Lu-chan, why brown?"
"That's actually a good idea," Sherry said, tapping her chin. "It isn't very common, so not many other girls will be wearing it. It will accent your eyes perfectly, and set off your hair as well. Blue and brown work well together."
"See?" Lucy gestured to the much smaller section of brown dresses. "I know what I'm talking about!"
Sighing, Levy wandered over to the rack. Sherry smacked her forehead, and dove into the back room. Lucy shrugged at the boutique owner's weird behaviour, pulling dresses.
The brown dresses were surprisingly nice, Lucy thought. Most of them were made of very shiny satin, and they looked like rich chocolates being melted and stirred. A few dresses caught both she and levy's attention, but none stood out.
Until Sherry came flying back out with a box of shoes in hand. "I just had the most perfect idea!" She gasped breathlessly. She ripped one of the more ruffled dresses, holding it down for them to see.
It was so different from anything they had ever seen before. It was not strapless, but instead tied around the neck. The back dipped incredibly low, and although the back of the skirt was long, the front came up to her knees. It was the colour of cafe mocha, ruffled but not heavily so, made of shiny taffeta and tulle, and decorated with small flowers.
But what was really the cake-topper were the shoes Sherry had pulled from her back room. The copper sandals had a nice heel, and had straps that wrapped around Levy's legs up to her knees.
Levy twirled on the pedestal, watching in joy as the back fluttered around her ankles. She looked both innocent and sexy at the same time, Lucy thought. She delighted in wondering what Gajeel's reaction would be to this. No doubt, it would be positive.
"What about you, Lucy?" Sherry asked her, as Levy went into the dressing room. "What exactly are you looking for?"
"Well, I've been looking, I swear," she gave the store owner a half-smile. "It's just...well, I've been dreaming about this day, you know? So I'll know my dress when I see it."
Sherry nodded like she understood. "Well, don't be afraid to come spend every waking hour of the day here," she said brightly. "I won't let Friday come without you owning a dress."
Lucy smiled gratefully as Levy exited, dress bag in hand. "Thanks so much for everything, Sherry," she clutched the bag tighter to her. "I can't believe, I'm actually excited for prom!"
Giggling like the schoolgirls they were, the two exited the mall.
And then it was Thursday.
It was really, finally starting to sink in for Lucy that the day she had been dreaming about since she was five was the very next day and she hadn't done a single thing to prepare. The other three dresses sat in her closet, eagerly awaiting their last companion. The hair and makeup products sat ready, eagerly awaiting to be used. The dog-eared magazines sat faithfully where they belonged.
Lucy did not want to go to school.
She had dragged herself out of bed that morning, and just barely managed to make it to school. If it hadn't been for Natsu, whom she had run into on the way down, she never would have made it. He had this way of dragging her lazy ass to do things.
But she sat slumped through all of her classes, not even bothering to glance at the clock and moving only when everyone else did. She barely paid any attention in the assembly, telling her what prom was going to be like. She listlessly drifted into cheer practice, hardly listening to a word Minerva said.
Said captain called off practice early, and Lucy began wandering the halls of the school, feeling completely lost.
"You don't look too good."
The voice was unfamiliar to her, and from the depths of her despair, she glanced up. She recognized in surprise the school quarterback. "Sting?"
He stood from his spot on the bench. "Oh, so you know who I am?"
She blushed lightly. "Well, most people do."
He chuckled, rubbing the back of his head. "Yeah, I guess they do. People like us, we really run the school, huh?"
"Hmm?" Lucy was a little confused. She'd never spoken to Sting once in her entire life. Why all of a sudden was he doing this?
He gave her a dazzling smile. "You really are the most beautiful girl in the entire school, Lucy."
She blushed from her head straight down to her toes. Pointing incredulously at herself, she managed to say, "Who? Me?"
He laughed affectionately. "Yes, you. I don't know why I've never seen it before. Probably all those nerds you hang around."
Lucy didn't even acknowledge the insult against her friends. She was too busy lost in fantasy-land. This was it, wasn't it? The oldest storybook cliché, the truth of the Cinderella story? The lonely girl, without a date, suddenly noticed by the handsomest, most popular boy in the entire school and asked to prom? Wasn't this the kind of thing fan fictions were written about?
"Will you go to prom with me?" he asked, seeming to move in slow-motion as his lips formed the words. Lucy's thoughts were racing. She could! She could go to prom with Sting, the most coveted boy in the entire school. She could finally get her revenge on Minerva for all her years of torment. Lucy could just imagine the look on Minerva's face when she showed up with-
But then her train of thought ground to a halt. That wasn't right, was it? She couldn't go out with someone just for revenge. And she didn't even like Sting, did she, because he was pompous and arrogant and called her best friends nerds.
"I'm sorry," she answered quietly. "Thank you for the offer, but I'd really rather not."
She turned away, missing the angry contorted face Sting pulled. In a second he was right beside her, grabbing her wrist forcefully and twisting in painfully so that she spun around to face him. Sting's face was full of cruel malice and his hand was really hurting her wrist.
"Let me go!" She tried to wrench it away, but her muscles were nothing against the football player's. He brought her closer, right up to his face.
"What do you mean, you'd really rather not?" He hissed. "Don't you have any idea who I am?"
She wanted to spit in his face, but was afraid that might cause her own destruction. Sting was truly the most terrifying thing she had ever encountered. Her entire body quaked in fear as she tried desperately to move away. "I said let go," she tried for force, but her voice was far too shaky. Sting sneered.
"Come on, Lucy," he growled. "You're popular, I'm popular, it was just meant to be! And I'm sure you'd do wonderfully afterwards, too." He licked his lips.
Lucy really screamed then, partly out of fear and partly out of pure anger. How dare he? How dare he?!
And then Sting did something awful, he leaned forward to try and kiss her.
Lucy turned her head resolutely to the side, but at that moment something crashed and Sting was pushed away from her with such force that Lucy toppled to the ground. Gasping, she looked up to see her saviour towering over her, fists balled and glaring directly at Sting with fire in his eyes.
"Natsu..." she whispered.
"Get away from her," was all he said, eyes focused on Sting.
Said quarterback was shaking, having no doubt ever been pushed like that before. He raised his fist, preparing to fight. "You wanna have a go with me, dork-brain?"
Natsu didn't move. "I'm not even going to waste my time with you," he said. Then he turned his gaze on Lucy, still on the ground. "Are you okay?"
She nodded, still in shock. She had never seen Natsu this serious before, about anything. He reached down a hand to help her up, and she grasped it. He pulled her up with ease, and she stood shakily. "Come on, let's get out of here," he said.
But Sting had not yet gotten his final word in. "Fine," he spat at the two of them. "Whatever. I'll just call Minerva." He snorted at Lucy even as she walked away. "At least she puts out!"
It was as if something snapped inside of Natsu. One second he was beside her, walking, the next he had gone ramrod straight and then he was gone. Before Lucy could even turn around, she heard a loud crack and a very high-pitched, girlish shriek. What she saw was Sting rolling around on the ground, holding his hands to his nose while Natsu stood over him menacingly, one fist raised.
"My nose!" Sting screeched. "You broke my nose!"
And then Natsu was back at her side, grasping her hand and telling her to run.
They dashed out of the school, before anyone could catch them and Sting could blame his injury on Natsu. They made it to just out of school grounds, where Natsu promptly rounded on Lucy and stared her directly in the eyes.
"Did he hurt you?" He asked intensely. Lucy shook her head, but Natsu wasn't satisfied. "Did he hurt you?!" he demanded again. She took back what she said about Sting being scary, because that was nothing. An angry Natsu was a hundred times more terrifying.
"No," she answered, voice shaking. "I'm okay, really. I'm fine." Her eyes welled up with tears as his face calmed down, and he released her arms. "Oh, Natsu, you're going to get in trouble for that!"
"Naw, I'll just get Gajeel to cover for me. Bastard can really lie to the authorities." He grinned, rubbing the back of his head. He stopped when he saw her face. "O-oi! Luce, don't cry!"
She sniffed. "I give up!" She wailed to the sky. "I can't believe the only guys I've been asked by are Dan, those Grim Heart scumbags, and that-" she pointed violently back toward the school. "That thing! And I don't have a dress, or, or anything I wanted, not the tiara or the glass slippers or anything!" She clapped her hands to her face, sobbing. "And prom's tomorrow!"
Natsu was standing like Lucy was a volcano he wasn't sure how to handle. Lucy was not the type of girl who cried, and Natsu was not the type of boy who could deal with crying girls. He rubbed the back of his head again, as if that would give him any answers. Tentatively, he reached forward and placed a hand on her shoulder.
"Okay, Luce, then why don't we go get you a dress? Right now?"
She sniffled, wiping her nose unattractively on the back of her hand. "It's too late, Natsu. All the stores will be closed."
Natsu snorted, some of his regular confidence coming back. "Hey, Luce, your forgetting who you're talking to. What time does that mall close at?"
She glanced at her wrist. "In 15 minutes?"
He gasped. "Ack!" Grabbing her wrist again, he made waste of no time as he began running with her in tow. "Come on, then, Luce! We're running out of time!"
They made it to Sherry's just as she was walking out the door and preparing to lock up. "Lucy!" She gasped when she saw the two barrelling towards her. "I was wondering when I'd see you!"
"She needs a dress!" Natsu demanded, pointing at the still-crying girl behind him. "Now! Pronto! Stat!"
"Of course!" Sherry reopened her doors, ushering Lucy inside. "Now tell me dear, and truthfully this time. What exactly do you want?"
Lucy hesitated, but Natsu cut in. "Don't even think about what Minerva or any of those jerks have to say," he said forcefully. "Okay? Say what you want, Lucy."
Bursting out into tears again, Lucy wailed. "I want to be Cinderella!"
Sherry's face softened, finally understanding what it was Lucy really, truly wanted. "You should have told me earlier," she said. "I have just the thing."
As Sherry disappeared again into her magical back room, Lucy stood with Natsu and tried to calm herself down. "Thank you for doing this," she said to him, taking deep breaths to steady herself. Her face was still red and splotchy, but that was a problem she'd deal with later. Lucy was not a pretty crier.
"'Course, Luce," he answered instantly. "You know I'd do anything for you."
Her heart skipped a beat. Her eyes widened, and she clutched at her chest, turning from Natsu as she tried to calm her erratic heartbeat. Lucy found thankful distraction in Sherry, who reappeared with her arms full of white pouf. "I believe this is exactly what you are looking form" she said with a confident grin.
As Lucy stepped into the dressing room, and truly looked at the dress, she began to feel all the pieces just slowly falling into place. She stepped into the fabric, sliding it up her body, shivering as it hugged her tightly. It was almost as if it had been simply waiting for this moment for as long as she had.
"Need any help?" Sherry called, but Lucy shook her head. She was already done. It was already perfect. She stepped out of the dressing room, holding the front of her dress up as she stepped up on to the pedestal, for the first time, and released her skirts, letting them fall.
It was white, pure white. Strapless, but not daring, with a straight cut across her chest edged in lace. It hugged tight all the way down her waist, in beautiful beaded fabric. From there on, white skirts cascaded out, in the perfect princess dome shape.
She turned slowly on the pedestal, allowing the dress to turn with her. She caught sight of Natsu's reflection in the glass, and to say the least, he looked stunned. Eyes wide, mouth hanging open, blush staining his cheeks. Lucy's heart gave a small thrill.
Sherry was radiating excitement. "I knew it. Wait! There's more!" She opened another box, pulling away tissue paper to reveal a sparkling silver wrought tiara. Lucy clapped her hands to her mouth, tears sparkling again, as Sherry placed it on her head.
"And one last thing," Sherry sent her a wink. "Cinderella means glass slippers, no?"
And Lucy began to laugh. In Sherry's hands, sat a pair of cheap, clear plastic sandals. Complete with a clear plastic heels and strap, and they looked exactly Lucy's size. Sherry handed them to Natsu with another wink. "I'll ring them up."
Blushing delicately, Lucy raised her skirts and held out her foot. Grinning, Natsu knelt down in front of her and took her foot in his hands. She felt her skin fizzle at the touch, and delighted in the way he slid the shoe up and fastened around her ankle. He looked up at her, eyes bright. "You're a real Cinderella now, Luce."
Well, there was really no denying it now, was there?
She was completely, truly, madly, insanely, head-over-heels in love with Natsu Dragneel.
As if to further solidify Lucy's belief that Natsu was her perfect Prince Charming, he carried all of her bags home. The shoes and tiara dangled from his left hand, his right holding the dress bag slung carefully over his shoulder. Lucy trailed along behind him as they trudged back home, the moon rising high in the sky.
Once standing on her front step, she took the bags back from him gently. "Thank you for doing this, Natsu," she mumbled. Lucy couldn't quite bring her eyes from where they were glued to the ground. He shrugged, also not quite looking her in the eyes.
"S'no problem, Luce. You're my best friend, well, except for Happy, maybe."
She bit her lip. She knew that it was now or never; even if she didn't tell Natsu how she felt their friendship would still be changed. It had changed forever the second she realized she was in love.
So, with shaking hands and a heavily beating heart, Lucy took a stabilizing breath. "Hey, Natsu? One last thing."
"Will you go to prom with me?"
Silence fell between the two. Natsu's brows furrowed, like they did when he thought too hard about something. "You mean, like, as friends?"
Lucy let out a shaky laugh. "No," she said, giving up on whatever internal battle she was having. "No, not as friends." Her voice cracked slightly. "I like you, okay?"
He was silent for a moment, staring at her with wide eyes. Then he rushed forward, pressing his face close to hers and staring intently into her eyes. She shrank away from the intensity, but his gaze never broke.
"You mean, you like me? As in, like like me?"
"Yes!" Half laughing, half angry, Lucy grabbed his shirt and pulled him even closer. "As in, I want to be your girlfriend!"
There was silence for a heartbeat, or two, or possible several hours. They were locked in a staring contest, their lips hovered inches away from each other, shaking and swaying just a snitch closer with every passing second.
Finally Natsu broke the contest with one of his wide grins. "Good! Because I want that, too!"
"Y-you do?" Lucy was so surprised she nearly fell over.
"Course I do! Would I say that if I didn't? Man, you can so weird sometimes, Lucy," he poked her in the forehead. "So I'll be here at five, then?"
"Don't be late," she said faintly, sitting down on the steps as her knees finally gave out from under her.
"Aye, sir!" He stood up, making to leave, but at the last second bent back down and pressed a kiss to her cheek. "See you tomorrow!" he hollered, dashing down the street.
Lucy waved back, mind still reeling. Had all of that really just happened in the space of five minutes? She sat on the steps for what felt like hours, until her face finally cooled and she had enough strength in her legs to stand back up. Picking up her bags, she wandered into the house, floated up the stairs, and closed the door to her bedroom with a tiny click.
Then she fell onto her bed, buried her face into her pillow, and let out a scream of joy so loud it woke her entire household.
At 10:00 in the morning, Erza, Juvia, and Levy appeared outside Lucy's house armed with just about any kind of beauty product they could find in their house. After retreating into Lucy's bedroom they spent the next two hours exfoliating faces and giving each other the ultimate spa treatment.
They were interrupted only once when Jude ventured in to bring them lunch. He was greeted by four girls with green faces who grabbed the plate of sushi and promptly shoved him out. Lucy later tacked a sign on the door that read 'No Boys Allowed.'
Hair, it was discovered, was a lot harder to make pretty than it seemed. After Erza's was twisted into an Audrey Hepburn-style updo, Juvia's was curled and dusted her shoulders, and Levy's was mousse-ed and hairspray-ed into a tangled mess studded with sparkling hairpins, they turned on Lucy.
"Your turn," was all Erza said.
So Lucy was forced to sit for two hours while her hair was gently curled, the top layer was pulled back, and the tiara was resting perfectly. It looked perfect, but her back was starting to cramp by the end of it.
Then all four were stuffed into their dresses, pulled on their shoes, made sure they looked perfect in the gilded, floor-length mirror, and were interrupted by Jude who informed them from behind the door that their dates had arrived.
Giggling, Lucy made a line of what order they would descend the stairs. She decided, since Jellal and Erza had been together the longest, she wouldn't make him wait a moment longer. So Erza went first.
Watching sneakily from behind the door, Lucy revelled in the face Jellal was making. He greeted Erza at the bottom of the stairs, welcoming her with a soft kiss and a "you are so beautiful." It gave Lucy's heart tingles just to watch the two, they were so in love.
Juvia went next, a complete bombshell on the staircase. She gave a flirtatious wave to Gray as she approached him, his face lit up like a Christmas tree. Lucy gave her a thumbs-up when Juvia turned around, to assure the girl she was doing a good job. They had all come to the conclusion that a confident Juvia was a sexy Juvia, and a Juvia Gray would like a lot.
Levy followed, keeping her eyes on the ground as she descended. Her cheeks were lit up in an embarrassed blush and she kept pulling on the hem of her dress right up until she reached Gajeel. He merely patted her head and grinned. "You look good, shrimp."
"Thanks," she answered shyly, crossing her arms over her chest. Lucy shook her head. Apparently, it wasn't Juvia's confidence they needed to be worried about. Lucy resolved to stomp on Levy's shoe later.
"Oi, Luce, are you coming?"
The ever familiar voice wafted up the stairs, and Lucy took a deep breath. Turning around, she took one last look in the mirror at herself. A beautiful woman looked back, the woman she'd always wanted to be as a little girl. She looked like a princess.
Lucy stepped out into the stairs, waving at everyone as they cheered and clapped for her. Lucy was surprised at the amount of people there – her father, Gray and Juvia, Erza and Jellal, Gajeel and Levy of course; but there was also Mirajane with her camera, Igneel and Metalicana grinning proudly; Levy's parents chatting with Ur and –
"Loke!" She gasped with a glad cry. Jumping the last two steps, she threw her arms around him. "And Aries! What are you two doing back from Europe?"
Her cheerleading mentor gave her a sweet smile. "I'm sorry to have surprised you," she apologized. "But I couldn't pass up the chance to see you like this!"
Loke held her at arms' length, studying her. "Well, you certainly clean up nice," he teased. "I remember when I went to prom – Aries, do you remember? We won Prom King and Queen!" He sighed happily. "Anyway, I'm here because they asked me to DJ."
"Me, too!" Mirajane popped her head up. "I'll be up there singing!"
Lucy rolled her eyes at both of them. Her father stepped forward, hugging her lightly. "I won't mess up your hair," he said gruffly. Then, more quietly, he added, "Your mother would be so proud of you."
She smiled up at him. She and her dad hadn't always gotten along, but there was no denying the tears in both their eyes. "Thank you, Daddy."
He kissed her cheek, then held out a hand. "And I think someone's waiting for you."
Glancing over her shoulder, Lucy's face softened at the sight of the only single person left in the room. The minute she laid eyes on him, dressed in a black waistcoat and white shirt with his scarf still sitting around his shoulders; he looked like the dream date she'd always wanted.
"Hi," she said, stepping up to him.
"Hi," he answered. "This is for you." He held up a corsage of small, delicate white lilies and ribbons. Lucy held up her wrist, and he slid the corsage on. His face twisted when he saw her wrist; even though the bruises had significantly faded, they were still visible. "Are you sure I can't kill him?"
She cuffed him on the head. "Don't you dare!"
Lucy really had to hand it to her friends. Not one of them had even sent her a teasing glance all day. When she'd told them that morning that Natsu was her date, and no they weren't going as just friends, Lucy had been completely steeled for a wall of teasing and 'I told you so!' Instead, she was met with looks of pure relief.
So, with the happy waves of her friends and family, the four couples ran down the steps to Lucy's house and piled into the limo sitting in the driveway. Rolling down the window of the shiny black sedan, Lucy blew a kiss to all watching.
Igneel, from the crowd, caught her eyes. He gave her a wink and a discreet thumbs up. Lucy flushed slightly; curse Igneel and his intuitive father-ness! He must have known exactly what Lucy was thinking.
Although she and Natsu were going together, as a couple – the two best friends were finally together – she still had yet to do the one thing that would solidify this night in her brain for the rest of eternity. She knew that tonight she was going to kiss Natsu.
When they arrived at the school, a ninth-grade helper waved them around the parking lot to where a line-up of limos was pulling up in front of the open gym doors. From inside music was blasting, and Lucy wondered how Loke and Mira had managed to get there first. Magic, she thought wryly.
The eight piled themselves out of the limo, avoiding Natsu and Gajeel as both had gotten rather sick on the way down. Lucy and Levy waited for them as Jellal escorted Erza inside, and Gray decided to sneak around so that he wouldn't run in to Lyon.
Gajeel healed fairly quickly so Levy bid Lucy a goodbye, leaning over to whisper in her ear something that made Lucy flame up all over again. As the two walked away, arm-in-arm, Natsu came over to Lucy, leaning on her shoulder. "What did she say?"
"Oh, nothing," Lucy said a little too loudly, laughing. He eyed her warily.
"Yeah, okay. Whatever you say, weirdo."
The inside of the gym was quite literally a winter wonderland, even if Natsu decided he hated it upon seconds of entering. There was white dusting all over the floor, making it look like snow, and cheap rhinestones clung to every surface, making everything sparkle in the low light. Lucy gasped in delight, clutching Natsu's arm. "Oh, it's beautiful," she sighed dreamily.
"Yeah, it also lost me twenty bucks," Natsu complained. "I still don't see what the problem with Beach Bash was."
Lucy ignored him. The music playing was good, and she wanted to dance. She was about to tug Natsu to the center of the floor when a cold voice stopped her.
"Um, excuse me?"
Slowly, Lucy turned to face the pillar of rage that was Minerva. She looked ridiculous, Lucy thought, in that tight black dress that was barely a scrap of fabric. Her makeup was far too overdone and her hair was piled in some strange bun. Lucy felt a twinge of satisfaction; she looked better than Minerva and both of them knew it.
"I thought I told you," Minerva growled, "not to show up to prom with him as your date!" She gestured to Natsu. He tensed, but Lucy laid a hand on his arm. Let me handle this, her eyes said.
"Listen up, Minerva," She started, rounding on the girl. "Just because you're head cheerleader, doesn't make you the boss of everything. You don't get to decide who's worthy and who's not. You definitely don't get to tell me who I like, and you don't get to be a bully to everyone you meet!"
The entire cheer squad had gathered around them now. Angel looked positively outraged, but she said nothing as she clung to Dan. Kinana and Cobra shrunk back, neither one wanting to be part of it. Ultear gave her a nod, like she was proud. Imitatia picked at her dress, eyes downcast.
Then something even more surprising happened. Yukino stepped forward, standing beside Lucy.
"She's right, Minerva. You can't bully people into being your friend. It may have worked on me for a while, but that's all over now. I'm done with you." Clutching Rogue's hand, she turned to Lucy. "Your dress is beautiful, by the way."
Lucy smiled. "Thanks, Yukino. So is yours." It really was, shiny grey satin with cap sleeves and a diamond cut-out back. It also was slightly poufy, Lucy was proud to see.
As Yukino was leaving, Ultear passed them. "Nice job with the date," she grinned at Lucy. "He's a keeper."
"Thanks," Lucy said dryly, blushing. She started in surprise as Kinana stepped forward.
"Um, Lucy – would it be okay, I mean, I really need a job and I was wondering – could I apply at Mirajane's? For work?"
Lucy was in complete shock. She'd always assumed Kinana hadn't liked her or her friends, but she supposed she was wrong. "Um, yeah! Of course! Actually, Mira's gonna be up singing tonight, so if you want you can go ask her now! Just tell her Lucy sent you!"
Kinana's face split into a wide smile. "Thank you!" She grinned, tugging Cobra off with her. Natsu gave him a salute as he passed.
Minerva was gaping like a beached whale. She looked wildly around her for support, but Imitatia had disappeared and Angel gave a shrug, walking off with Dan. Lucy smirked, and decided to lay the final blow. She turned to Sting, who looked equally ridiculous in his white tux and bandaged nose.
"Thanks so much for the offer, Sting," she said sweetly. "I'm sure going to prom with you would have been lovely, but..." she squeezed Natsu's hand. "Well, have fun, anyway!"
As she flounced off, Natsu grinned at Sting. "Hey, buddy, how's the nose holding up?"
Walking away, Lucy heard Minerva turn on Sting. "You asked her? And I though you said you got that nose at football practice!"
Giggling, the two fell onto the dance floor. Lucy settled into Natsu's arms nicely, and she wondered how on Earth she'd never noticed how perfectly she fit. From the look on Natsu's face, he seemed to be wondering the same thing.
"How long did you like me for?"
"Hmm," he scrunched up his nose in thought. "I dunno. Two years, maybe?"
She choked on the air. "Two years? Holy crap, why didn't you say anything?"
"I dunno!" He argued lightly. "It didn't seem important. Or maybe it had something to do with your eternal insisting that we were 'just friends.'"
Lucy flushed. "Sorry."
"Don't be." He ruffled her hair lightly. "Not like it made much of a difference, right? We kinda act like a couple anyway."
"Yes, I suppose we do."
At that moment, a very familiar song came on, and Lucy turned to glare at Loke, who was up being the DJ. "Seriously?!" She cried, as Natsu let out a whoop of laughter and ran to join his friends on the middle of the floor. "Wha-Natsu! Not you, too!"
Neither he, Gray, nor any of the other super-nerds on the floor answered as they all Gangnam-styled it. Hard. "Ugh," Lucy groaned, smacking her forehead.
That was not the only highlight of the evening; when the song Sexy and I Know It came on Gray managed to take off half his tux without even noticing. Juvia was in heaven. And at one point Gajeel stole the microphone from Mira and started singing his own song that had half the floor in tears of laughter. There were slow songs and happy songs, and songs about high school that made Lucy's eyes tear up. There were pop songs and rock songs, chart-toppers from the eighties to last week's Top 40. There were songs from ABBA to AC/DC, and everything in between.
She also caught many of the couples on the floor stealing kisses. Every time they did, Lucy felt a strange, fluttery feeling in her stomach. But she shoved it down, and instead filled herself with determination.
After hours upon hours of dancing, singing, and general tomfoolery, Loke quieted everyone down and made his announcement.
"All right everyone," he grinned. "It's that moment you've all been waiting for! Time to crown the Prom King and Queen! Please check for buckets of pig blood."
A ripple of laughter fell across the crowd. Lucy had sent in her vote earlier, and she genuinely hoped the girl would win. Minerva leaned forward, fierce determination in her eyes. She looked like she'd already won, and Lucy supposed that in her head, she had.
Loke was very, very silent as he unfolded the piece of paper. "Everyone," he said, voice full of tension. "Are you ready? This year's Prom King... Rogue Cheney!"
Cheers from everyone, including Lucy. The young man brushed a bit of hair out of his eyes as he took to the stage and fangirls screamed. Sting looked livid, but Rogue's eyes were focused only on his date as Loke unfolded the paper for Prom Queen.
The entire dance floor erupted in cheers. Lucy began to jump up and down, she was so excited. As the girl passed, Lucy caught her in a crushing hug. "Congratulations," she whispered in Yukino's ear.
"Thanks," Yukino replied. Smirking slightly, she said, "Someone take a picture of Minerva's face."
If Sting was livid, then Minerva was apoplectic. She looked like she wanted to break something. Turning around, she punched the first person she came in contact with, which of course happened to be Sting. Lucy bit back a laugh as he fell down on his butt, and spilled his glass of juice all over Minerva's dress. She let out a cry of rage and ran from the building.
Lucy cheered even louder.
As Yukino was crowned with the delicate silver tiara, Lucy noticed someone beside her. She took in the tight, green dress and curly blonde hair. "Imitatia?"
She turned to Lucy with puffy red eyes. Lucy tutted. "Don't tell me you wanted to win."
Imitatia sniffed. "No," she said dully. "It isn't that." When Lucy didn't answer, she cried, "How did you do it? Defy Minerva?"
Imitatia wiped her hand on the back of her sleeve. "I didn't want to come here with Midnight," she confessed. "He's done nothing but try to spike the punch all night, and... I really wanted to wear poufy, pink dress!"
Lucy was about to ask, 'Why didn't you?' but then she understood. Imitatia had been completely unable to stand up to Minerva, and had only ever acted the way she did from peer pressure and wanting to fit in. It wasn't like that made her a good person, but...
"Michelle," Lucy said, wrapping the girl in a hug. "Listen. You have to be who you want to be, all right? You can't let anyone else tell you how to live your life. Now, you can take my advice and get out of here, go out by yourself and have fun on the town – or better yet, go spend the night with your family. Buy yourself a poufy pink dress and wear it all the time, just for fun. Don't ever let anyone try to tell you who to be."
Michelle wiped her tears away, a slight smile gracing her pretty face. "Thank you, Lucy," she whispered. Then, nodding, she turned and made for the doors, walking out of prom and into the night with a set in her shoulders that hadn't been there before.
Lucy smiled at the retreating figure. When she made to go back to Natsu, she saw him standing and watching her, clearly having heard the whole thing. The look on his face was so tender and sweet it made her tingle right down to her toes. "What?"
"Just you," he shook his head. "You're wonderful, Luce."
Loke interrupted the crowd buzzing with another announcement. "Okay, guys, make way on the floor for the Prom King and Queen! That's right everyone, it's that time – the last dance. Grab someone who means a lot to you, and get on the floor!"
Natsu pulled Lucy in tight, somewhere off to the side. Yukino and Rogue stood in the middle, staring into each other's eyes lovingly. Cobra and Kinana were already swaying without music, Angel and Dan had disappeared a long time ago. Jellal and Erza were off in a shadowy corner, already lip-locked. Juvia and Gray stood next to Ultear and Lyon, looking ready for some kind of dance-off. Levy and Gajeel were out almost in the middle, the lights reflecting off Gajeel's piercings and Levy's dress, making them both shine.
Mirajane stepped up to the microphone, beginning to play a few chords. She started to sing with her sweet voice as the dance floor started to sway as one.
"I know we've been friends forever
But now I think I'm feeling something totally new"
Lucy started at the song she recognized. She turned to glare at the singer, but Mirajane merely sent her a wink, and continued to sing.
"And after all this time, I've opened up my eyes
Now I see, you were always with me"
"Do you know this song?" Natsu asked, as Lucy continued to growl in Mira's direction. He pulled her close, smirking. "Aw, Luce, is she playing this for us?"
Lucy smirked right back at him. "Just shut up and dance, idiot."
"Could it be, you and I, never imagined
Could it be, suddenly, I'm falling for you
Could it be, you were right here beside me
And I never knew
Could it be that it's true that it's you
And it's you"
Lucy placed her head on Natsu's chest, leaning against him as they moved in time to the beat. He rested his chin on her head, and when he spoke, she could hear his voice reverberating through her. "Luce, how long did you like me for?"
She glanced up at him. His cheeks were dusted red and he was looking resolutely in another direction. She giggled at how cute he was.
"It's kind of funny , you were always near
But who'd have ever thought that we would end up here?"
"Well, I only realized I liked you last night, when we were at Sherry's. But I think, deep down, I've liked you for way longer than that." She blinked. "In fact, I think I've liked you since the day we met."
"In the supermarket?"
"Yep. Right by the cereals."
"How do you remember?'
"How could I forget?"
"And every time I've needed you
You've been there for me too
Now it's clear, I've been waiting for you"
"What about you, Natsu? I know you said two years, but when did you actually realized you liked me?"
He had to think about it. "I don't know, actually. I kind of just woke up one morning and realized how much I liked you. And I thought to myself, "Damn, I love Lucy."
She started at that. "Love?"
He blinked, cheeks staining redder. "Yeah. Why, got a problem with it?"
Lucy bit back a grin. "Nope. None at all."
"Could it be, you and I, never imagined
Could it be, suddenly, I'm falling for you
Could it be, you were right here beside me
And I never knew
Could it be that it's true that it's you"
Her heart was pounding in her chest, like a caged animal trying to break free. Her hands in Natsu's were shaking like leaves, and just about every other cliché she could throw in there as well.
"I love you, too."
"Cause today is the start of the rest of our lives
I can see it in your eyes"
He stiffened under her, stopping the dance. Lucy pulled back, looking at him in confusion. "Natsu?"
"Oh, that it's real
And it's true
And it's just me and you"
"Lucy," he said, voice husky. It was then that she realized how close their faces were, their lips inches away from each other. His voice almost seemed to shake as he answered, only that was silly, because Natsu was Natsu and he was the bravest guy on the planet and there was no way he'd be scared of anything, right?
"Could it be
That it's true
That it's you"
Their lips met in a soft, immeasurable cascade, tentative but pulling deeper by the second. Her hands raised to rest at the base of his neck, and he wrapped his arms around her waist, tighter and tighter as they kissed.
"Could it be, you and I, never imagined
Could it be, suddenly, I'm falling for you
Could it be, you were right here beside me
And I never knew
Could it be that it's true that it's you
Oh yeah, that's it you"
Lucy could hear the grin in Mirajane's voice as she sang. "Could it be that it's true that it's you," she finished, strumming her guitar one last time. Lucy pulled away from Natsu slightly, their lips just barely breaking contact.
It was then that, in the silent gymnasium everyone erupted into cheers and catcalls. Lucy jumped, whirling around to see everyone in the room looking at her, clapping their hands.
"It's about time!" Someone called.
"Nice catch, Natsu!" Another yelled.
"Finally, out of the friendzone!" came the cheer of victory, and Lucy began to laugh as Mirajane jumped up and down in excitement on the stage.
Natsu took Lucy's wrist and pumped his fist into the air, laughing along with everyone. Somewhere Gajeel was giving a roar of approval, and even Gray looked proud of his friends. Lucy blew a kiss at everyone, then twirled around. Grabbing Natsu by the scarf, she pulled him in for another victory kiss.
As the people in dresses filed into limousines and taxis, Natsu stood beside Lucy with their fingers entwined. Their limo had long since left, since her friends were cheap and only paid for one way. They gave a passing wave to Erza and Jellal as they passed, and giggled as Gajeel walked past them. Levy was asleep and curled tightly in his arms.
He nodded at both of them. "See you later," he called.
"Hey, thanks for covering for me," Natsu said to him. "I probably would have had detention for eternity if they found out I broke Sting's nose."
"No problem," Gajeel shrugged. Levy shifted in his arms, and he stilled. "They guy probably deserved it anyway, if I know him. 'Sides, I owe her one." He motioned to Lucy with his chin. She blinked.
"Sure, Bunny girl. If it weren't for you," he glanced down at the sleeping girl he was holding. "Well, this never would have happened."
Lucy grinned. For all his tough exterior, Gajeel was sure a sweet guy. Somewhere deep, deeeeep down. If you looked hard enough.
As the last few people left, Natsu nudged her. "Hey, you tired?"
"Nope." She squeezed his hand, with a smile plastered all over her face. "This is supposed to be the best night of my life! It's only midnight, how could I possibly be tired?"
He grinned wider, sharp teeth flashing in the moonlight. "Midnight, huh?" he snickered. "Guess I really did come to the ball with Cinderella."
"Oh, shut it."
"Hey, wanna come over to my place for a bit? I cleaned my room."
"Sure." Lucy popped off her heels, padding down the concrete after Natsu. Mirajane had been right - by the end of the night, her feet felt like Frodo's on the last few steps to Mount Doom. She half wondered if Natsu would carry her like Sam.
Before she could even voice this thought, Natsu turned to walk backwards to he could look at her. "Dad's out of town for the weekend, so we'll have the whole place to ourselves." And he gave her a cheeky, devilish grin. Lucy felt heat spilling across her face in a mad blush. Damn.
She should have invested in some sexy lingerie.
Damn, someone's gonna get laid tonight~
Agh, well I'm sorry for everyone who read it that it's so freakishly long. 17k words?! I swear it just got away from me! But thanks for reading the whole thing through! I love you! And hey, you spent so long reading it – why not spare a few more seconds to drop a review? :D:D:D
*Lucy's dress is Hilary Duff's dress in A Cinderella Story. Aww yiss~
* The song Mira sings is Could It be from the Kim Possible movie So The Drama. Which more than partially inspired this fic. If you couldn't already have guessed :3