I'M SOOOOOO SORRY! I meant to upload sooner but it just never happened... Not to mention I didn't finish this chapter until yesterday... But I have an excuse! I don't have internet access! I don't want to go into too many details but thanks to my sister and a friend I'm able to upload this. Hope you enjoy the chapter, though it's probably not long enough for you.
By the way, I wanted to thank all the people who favorited and followed this story! When I first posted this story, I never expected it to be so popular! But now there's six chapters and I have over one hundred favorites! Thanks so much for the support and I hope you'll continue reading my work!
Disclaimer: I don't own Fairy Tail.
Our Fake Relationship – Chapter 6
Lucy was awakened by a throbbing pain in her head. She groaned and raised her hand to her face, which caused her to realize she was covered with a blanket. And beneath her was soft... A bed? She blinked open her eyes and gave them a moment to adjust. A ceiling...? Which meant she was inside. How did she get there? The last thing she remembered was being dropped off the side of a cliff by that bandit, Shifner...
Lucy attempted to sit up, but a sharp pain in her side made her cry out and stop. She stayed frozen for a minute before raising a gentle hand to her side.
That's right... That was where Shifner had kicked her. It was probably a bruise by now. She felt something wrapped around her stomach and head and concluded that someone had bound her wounds. At least that probably meant she was in good hands and not hostile ones.
Being extremely careful the second time around, Lucy managed to pick herself up into a sitting position and peered around. She guessed that the theme of the room was green, because that's what nearly everything was; the carpet, the walls, the curtains, the sheets and blankets on the bed. There was a big wooden wardrobe on the opposite wall with a long mirror hanging beside it. There were two doors to her left; she assumed one led to a bathroom. A sliding door was to her right and it led out to a balcony. Lucy glimpsed the tops of buildings outside. It must have been late in the afternoon because the sky had grown darker.
What caught her attention next was the small table beside the bed. There was a lamp that matched the room, and underneath it were her whip and celestial keys.
Being in an unfamiliar place had unnerved Lucy, but seeing her keys made her brighten. She reached out and took them, letting out a sigh of relief at the feel of the cold metal.
As she peered down at the gold and silver keys, a small frown appeared on her face. If she was here, a hotel by the looks of it, that meant someone saved her, right? Was Erza and the others okay?
Lucy was overcome with a strong desire to see the Titania. She pushed the blankets off of her, wincing at the agony from her head and side. Just as she was about to throw her legs over the side of the bed, the door to the room creaked open.
It was Natsu. When he saw the celestial mage sitting up, a huge grin spread across his face. "Lucy!" He exclaimed loudly as he rushed over to her. She flinched slightly as he threw his arms around her in a tight hug.
"Ow, Natsu, be careful..."
"Oh, right." The dragonslayer backed away, a smile still plastered to his face. "I'm just so glad you're okay! I was so worried! Well, we all were..."
"Natsu, what happened?" Lucy questioned, "Where are we? Where are the others?"
"We're at a hotel in town." He answered, "The others are in the room next door. It was my turn to come check on you."
"How did we get here? What happened to the bandits? And the request? Where's Erza? Can you take me to her?"
The boy frowned. "Lucy, what's the last thing you remember?"
"The last thing I..." Lucy thought hard. Shifner had been holding her above the edge of a cliff. She was pretty sure he let go... and then...
Lucy winced and brought her fingers to her temple. "I remember... being dropped off the cliff... but I don't remember anything after that."
Natsu nodded in understanding. "I might as well start from the beginning." He said, plopping down on the edge of the bed. "As soon as we separated, Gray was already being an ass. We were insulting each other the entire time we were walking."
Lucy smiled. That didn't surprise her in the least.
"And just when I decided to put him in his place," He continued, "We found a bunch of those herbs we were looking for." The fire mage looked momentarily pleased with himself before his grin faded. "While we were collecting them, I heard something. It was coming from the distance and it sounded like fighting. It took me a second to figure out which direction it was coming from, but then I realized... it was coming from the way we came from. The direction you had gone."
Lucy could tell by looking at him that he had been extremely concerned. She reached out and placed a comforting hand on his arm.
He looked at her with a small smile. "Anyway, we hurried over as fast as we could and it wasn't long before we came across Erza. Oh, and that cow man."
"You mean Taurus."
"Yeah, that guy. Him and Erza were fighting a bunch of bandits, but I didn't see you. Gray, Happy and I jumped in right away to help, of course. When we beat them all, Erza realized you weren't there. I'd never seen her so desperately worried before." Natsu's expression appeared uncomfortable, as if the mere memory of it was haunting. "She demanded that I find your scent or listen for you. She didn't really need to though. I was just as worried, I would've done it anyway. It didn't take me very long to smell you. Erza took off as soon as I mentioned it. We followed it to a clearing, and as we neared it..." Natsu's face darkened and Lucy took back her hand with a gulp. "I heard that guy. That bandit. Hurting you. I've never been so angry in my life."
Lucy saw that the dragonslayer's rage was growing. She didn't want him to erupt so she said in a soothing voice, "Natsu, calm down. It's the past. It's already happened. Just please, tell me the rest of what happened. I need to know."
Natsu gazed into her eyes for a long minute before closing his and taking a deep breath. When he opened them again, he smiled at her. "Thanks, Lucy."
She nodded and urged him to continue.
"Right. So we entered the clearing and saw the bandit... uh, I think he said his name at some point... Was it Shitter?"
"... His name was Shifner."
"Right, right. So we got there and saw Shitter holding you over the cliff." He said again with new determination. "Erza went berserk. She screamed your name just as he dropped you."
"She screamed my...?" 'That's why I keep hearing someone yelling my name.' Lucy thought, frowning into her lap. 'It's the memory of Erza calling me before I fell.' "So... He did drop me?" The blonde asked, "But then how am I... alive?"
"After you dropped out of sight, Erza went running." Natsu answered with furrowed eyebrows, "I thought she was going to punch that guy in the face, but I guess I should've known she was going to jump after you. So Gray and I went-"
"Wait, what!?" Lucy gasped, suddenly feeling ill, "What did you just - She jumped – Erza did what?"
"Well, she, er, jumped after you." The boy replied uncomfortably. "You know, to catch you. After Gray and I beat up Shitter, we hurried as fast as we could. Happy flew me down there and Gray made some kind of ice slide." He stopped and the seventeen year old could tell he didn't want to go on.
"Natsu." She said, her voice shaking and her eyes becoming tearful, "Tell me what happened. Is she... Is Erza...?" She found herself choking on the end of her sentence. She just couldn't say it.
"Lucy, it's okay!" Natsu said hastily, leaning towards her with a worried expression. "Erza's okay! She's fine! When I said the others were in the next room I meant her too."
Once his words were processed, Lucy felt her body relax. The sudden suffocation she had felt lifted and she breathed easier. "If... If she's okay, why didn't you continue?" She asked, subtly blinking back the wetness in her eyes.
The dragonslayer sat straight again. "Because... when we got to the cliff's bottom, there was a lot of blood."
Lucy inhaled sharply. "Erza's...?" She whispered.
After a second, he nodded. "She hit her head on impact. You were fine though. You were only unconscious. You banged your head on her armor."
That answered the question of why she had a headache, but she hardly cared by now. She grabbed Natsu's arm desperately. "Natsu, can you take me to her? I need to see her, please. Please take me to her."
Natsu nodded again. "Course, Lucy." They stood and when Lucy went to grab her whip he said, "You don't have to take that. It's pretty late, so we might as well stay the night. You can leave it here."
The girl considered and decided to leave her weapon there, but reattached her keys to her belt. She felt better with them on her.
As she followed him out of the room and to the one beside it, Natsu spoke, "I carried you back to the magic four-wheeler, your cow man had Erza and Gray handled the herbs. Happy flew overhead to point the way. Gray didn't think we should move either of you very far because of... I dunno, he said something about concussions and loss of blood. So we opted to take you back to town and have a doctor look at you. Oh, and your cow man disappeared once we got to the four-wheeler."
When they reached the door, Natsu walked in without knocking and Lucy stepped in behind him. She took one glance at the room and got a feeling of deja vu. It looked precisely the same as the room she had woken up in. Before she was able to notice anything else, something blue collided with her chest.
"Luuuuucy!" Happy wailed, his eyes watery, "I was so worried!"
"It's okay, Happy, I'm fine." The girl said, hugging the cat comfortingly. She raised her eyes from the top of Happy's head to see Gray approach her.
"It's great to see you're okay." He said, giving her a light pat on the shoulder.
She returned his smile with one of her own, though half-hearted, before turning her gaze to the bed. From there she could see the long red hair fanned out on the pillow.
The ice mage followed her gaze before glancing at the other boy. "I'm assuming you filled her in?" When he received a nod, Gray turned to Lucy. "She's still unconscious but it shouldn't be long before she wakes up. She's been groaning lately." He paused. "... Your name, mostly."
Lucy's heart panged from both guilt and something else she couldn't place. Still holding Happy in her arms, she slowly made her way to the bedside. Like her's, Erza's head was also wrapped in bandages. Her eyebrows were furrowed and her skin was covered by a thin layer of sweat. Lucy noticed that the young woman's armor was discarded in a pile in the corner of the room.
"We had to take her armor off," Gray said when he saw where she was looking. "So that the doctor could take a look at the rest of her. There was only minor bruising on her back. The main injury was on her head, but thanks to the doc's medicine, it's healing just fine."
Lucy nodded in understanding and appreciation. There was a chair on the other side of the bed, and Lucy moved around to it and took a seat. Happy separated from her and jumped onto the mattress as the boys shared a look.
"We'll leave you alone." Gray said, slowly making his way to the door.
"We'll go get some grub. I'm sure you must be hungry." Natsu said, following after his rival. When Happy leaped from the bed onto his shoulder, the scarf adorning boy peered down at him. "Hey, Happy? Wouldja mind staying here with Lucy and Erza?"
Both the girl and cat opened their mouths in surprise. "But... I'm hungry." He complained.
"I know you are, little buddy, but I think you should stay with Lucy and keep her company until Erza wakes up. They'll need someone to protect them while we're gone."
"Natsu, there's really no need-"
"Relax, Lucy. So what do you say, Happy? Will you do that for me?"
The Exceed glanced over at Lucy before looking back at his best friend. "Aye, sir." He said with a small salute.
Natsu grinned before patting his blue head. "Thanks, Happy. I'll bring you back ten of your favorite fish, okay?"
Happy's ears perked up. "Aye!" He exclaimed before returning to the foot of the bed.
"Can we go now?" Gray asked from the doorway, looking none too pleased that it was just going to be him and Natsu. "We'll be back soon with some food."
Lucy nodded and the two Fairy Tail mages closed the door behind them.
Happy proceeded to pace back and forth as if he were a sentry on duty and Lucy silently gazed down at the immobile form of Erza. The red head moved slightly from time to time, unintelligible mumbling falling from her lips. Occasionally her face would scrunch up, and Lucy wondered if she was having a bad dream.
Lucy sighed. None of this would have happened if she hadn't foolishly followed after the bandit leader. Why had she done it? … Right, he might have been going to get reinforcements, but she and Erza would've been able to handle them easily if that was the case. Maybe he was just trying to escape. If that was it, Lucy had been wasting her time following him. The request had nothing to do with defeating or capturing them, so there was nothing to be gained from it. If she hadn't been such an idiot, they could've been well on their way back to Magnolia by now, and Erza wouldn't be hurt because of her.
Lucy sniffed, tears accumulating in her eyes. She rubbed at them with the back of her hand before looking at Happy who was staring at her miserably.
"She'll be okay, Lucy." The blue cat said quietly, walking up to her to pat her on the leg. "You know Erza. Something like this won't keep her down for long. She'll be up and smashing things in no time."
Lucy shook her head in agreement, taking some comfort from his words. He was right; Erza wasn't one to let injuries keep her bedridden. When Phantom Lord attacked all those months ago and the Jupiter Cannon was fired, Erza had used herself as a human shield to protect both her guild and nakama. Lucy had been touched, was still touched, by the words the Titania had shouted that day, that they would never give up one of their own. Erza had passed out soon after that and was sent to a bed to recuperate, but it wasn't long before she was up again to join the fight. Not only that, when Laxus rebelled against the guild during the harvest festival and set up Thunder Palace around the city, Erza destroyed half of the lightening lacrima, a hundred of them, even though just destroying one would be enough to critically injure a person. And, as usual, Erza didn't remain in bed afterword.
Lucy smiled. In fact, it was rather difficult to keep the armor mage from leaving the bed when injured. She always walked around with bandages wrapped from head to toe, and it never fazed her in the least. Erza was really an amazing person...
Lucy jumped, causing Happy to startle. The pair turned their gazes to the young woman on the bed who had started tossing and turning. She groaned Lucy's name again.
Lucy leaned forward, placing a hand on Erza's forehead. "She's really warm. She couldn't have a fever, could she? Happy, could you get a small towel or something from the bathroom and dampen it with cold water? She's sweating a lot and it's probably uncomfortable."
"Aye, sir!" The Exceed said before dashing off and disappearing into the bathroom.
"Lucy... please... not Lucy..." What sounded like a whimper escaped the Titania's throat and Lucy's eyes widened. What kind of nightmare was she having that it reduced her to whimpering in fear? It broke Lucy's heart.
The celestial wizard reached out and took Erza's hand in her own. "Erza... Don't worry. I'm right here. I'm safe. I won't leave your side." She doubted the unconscious woman could hear her, but she didn't care. She spoke the truth, and it would take more than an army to take Erza from her sight.
A noise made Lucy look up. Happy was staring at her curiously from the bathroom doorway, but when they made eye contact he trudged over and handed her a damp cloth.
"Thanks, Happy." The girl said, wondering why he had been looking at her like that but deciding against saying anything.
"Aye." He replied simply before plopping down on the corner of the mattress.
Lucy folded the wet towel into a smaller size before proceeding to wipe Erza's forehead.
"I heard what you said." Happy said suddenly, causing Lucy to peer up at him, "You must really love her."
Lucy blinked. Love her...?
Happy continued, "Normally I always want Natsu to win at everything, but right now... I'm fine with the way things are. If you and Erza are happy together, that's great. Sure, Natsu will be sad for a little while, but he'll go back to being himself eventually. Gray too. They'll learn to accept it."
The small cat turned away to peer out of the balcony doors and Lucy was left frowning. She gazed over at the red head, now quiet, and ran the cloth over her neck to rid her skin of sweat.
After everything that happened, she had nearly forgotten that she was in the middle of living a lie. That she was supposedly dating the woman lying in front of her. It hadn't even been two days yet and she was already exhausted from it. Though that was true, she shied away from the idea of staging a break up with Erza. It's not that she had anything against pretending to be lovers with her, it's just that Lucy was tired of lying to all her nakama. And Happy... He was one of the ones she was lying to. Though she despised herself for the thought, perhaps telling the blue feline the truth would ease some of the guilt from her shoulders.
"Um... Happy?" The cat looked at her and she fidgeted nervously with Erza's sleeve. "Can I tell you something?"
"But it's a secret. You can't tell anyone. Not even Natsu."
Happy hesitated, studying the key mage's face with a frown. Finally he nodded.
Lucy sighed, preparing herself for what she was about to say. Her fingers had begun trailing through Erza's hair without her realizing it. "Erza and I..." Lucy took a deep breath, "We're not really dating."
Happy's eyes widened. "Huh? What do you mean?" He asked, clearly shocked.
"We were never actually dating." Lucy said, keeping her eyes locked on the scarlet haired woman's face. "It was just something Mira thought of to get Natsu and Gray off my back. I care about them a lot, but I just don't see them as anything more than nakama. They don't get it though, so Erza and I are pretending to be girlfriends to make them give up."
Happy stared at her, lost for words. "Oh." Was the only thing that came from his mouth. He then peered out of the window once again, mulling over what she had revealed.
Lucy on the other hand traced her fingers over Erza's cheek, wondering if she had made a horrendous mistake in telling him the truth.
They sat in silence for a couple long minutes before Happy spoke. "I won't tell Natsu." He said, peering down at his lap, "It would cause more problems for you and you're just trying to figure out what to do, right? I'll keep quiet."
Lucy smiled at him. "Thanks, Happy." She said, picking him up into her arms for a hug. "Whoever said man's best friend is the dog was wrong."
Happy nuzzled the girl's chest before leaning back to look her in the face. "I won't stay quiet for free though. Get me a fish."
Lucy blanched. "Are you blackmailing me?" She questioned incredulously.
The cat giggled mischievously. "Maaayybeee! Be sure to buy me the biggest fish you can find!"
"But... But Natsu's getting you ten fish right now!"
"And the one you're going to get me will be a delicious dessert!"
"Why you little-" Lucy stretched Happy's cheeks angrily. "I take back what I said! You're too evil to be man's best friend!"
"Owww..." After a moment, Happy stopped fighting her. "Ah you shough dough?"
Lucy released his face. "What?"
The Exceed rubbed his sore cheeks before repeating himself. "Are you sure though? It may be true that you and Erza aren't actually dating, but... Are you sure you're not in love with her anyway?"
Lucy flushed. "W... What? Don't be ridiculous... I don't like her like that."
Happy peered at her sideways. "You were touching her hair and her face, and you said those things to her, all while she's asleep. That doesn't seem like a gesture between friends to me."
The stellar mage chuckled uncomfortably. "You're reading too far into it, Happy. I care about her, that's all. Just like I care about all my nakama."
Happy looked doubtful. "So if it was someone other than Erza, you would do all that for them too?"
Lucy hesitated. Would she? If it had been Natsu or Gray who got hurt for her sake, of course she'd be worried. But she couldn't picture herself doing anything other than staying by their side as they healed. But what did that mean? Did Erza mean more to her than the boys? Certainly she couldn't be in love with her? She was straight, wasn't she? Suddenly Lucy felt unsure.
Happy shook his head. "Never mind. It doesn't really matter. I was just wondering." He hopped off her lap and walked over to the window.
Lucy was left disgruntled. He just had to go and say all that and get her confused, and in the end he didn't even care whether he got an answer or not. What was the point? … But still...
Lucy gazed down at the knight mage. What if she really was in love with her? Preposterous... and yet it didn't sound utterly outrageous to Lucy.
The blonde shook her head. No, no... Now wasn't the time to be thinking about something like that. Not when Erza was like this. Lucy pushed it to the back of her mind, telling herself she would think about it later. … If she was up for it.
"Natsu and Gray should be back soon, shouldn't they?" Lucy asked Happy, returning to wiping the sweat from Erza's face and trying to think about it too much.
"I'm not so sure..." Came his voice from behind her. "Take a look at this."
"What?" Lucy turned in her chair but was unable to see what the feline was talking about. She glanced back at Erza. Why didn't she want to leave the young woman's side? All she was doing was crossing the room, only a few feet away, so why didn't her body want to move?
Lucy willed her body to rise from the chair, feeling odd doing so, and went to Happy's side by the balcony door. As soon as she was there she knew what he was referring to. A few blocks away from the hotel, smoke, the kind from fires, was billowing from a street. Lucy doubted that was normally there and sighed.
"What are the chances it's not them?" She asked hopefully.
"Zero." Happy piped up.
She sighed again. "What should we do? At this rate, they're going to get arrested, assuming they haven't been already."
"I could go get them."
"I guess. Let's not let Master get wind of this. He'll yell at us for destroying another town."
Happy glanced at her. "You'll be okay on your own with Erza?"
"Of course. You better hurry though. The faster you get there, the less casualties there will be."
"Aye, sir!" The cat opened the sliding door (with Lucy's help) and took off into the air on his wings, heading towards the pillar of smoke.
Lucy watched the blue blur grow smaller in size until she turned her back on it and walked back to her spot at Erza's side. Once seated, she let out a defeated sigh. What was she going to do with them? They caused problems wherever they went. Luckily, this time they won't lose any reward because they weren't currently on a request. That, at least, made Lucy feel a little better.
Erza's face looked peaceful, and Lucy made a small smile. She reached out and took the older woman's hand in both of her own, the red head groaning quietly at the touch.
'Erza...' Lucy let out a sigh, her thumb making small, circular motions on the back of the nineteen year old's hand. 'Please wake up. The waiting and worrying is killing me...'
The girl had no way of tracking how much time passed as she sat there at the Fairy Queen's side. She was left fretting over the unconscious woman in front of her and agonizing over the non appearance of the rest of her team.
'Why is it taking Happy so long to get the boys?' Lucy wondered, 'Shouldn't he have been back by now? If they got arrested or something, it's going to cause even more problems, and with Erza like this, it couldn't be at a worse time...'
"You look lost in your thoughts."
Lucy jumped at the sound of the slightly cracked voice, turning her gaze to the scarlet haired woman who now stared at her in return with tired looking eyes. Lucy gaped as Erza smiled softly, the sight of the S-class mage being awake not registering in her mind immediately. The red head's smile fell away when the other girl still didn't react.
"Lucy?" She said uncertainly, gripping the blonde's hand that was still clutching her own. "Are you alrigh-"
"Erza!" Lucy shouted hysterically, her eyes tearing slightly as she lunged forward to wrap her arms around the woman's neck. "Oh, Erza! Thank god you're okay! I was so worried! I was afraid you weren't going to wake up!"
Erza patted Lucy's back comfortingly for a moment before saying in a strained voice, "Um, Lucy... Would you mind letting go? I'm finding it rather difficult to breath..."
Lucy quickly let go, a small embarrassed blush on her face accompanied by a huge grin. She suddenly knew how Natsu had felt upon finding her awake. "I'm so glad you're awake! You've been unconscious for a while, so I wasn't sure if..." She shook her head to get the dark thought from her mind, "No, never mind. You're up now, and that's all that matters. How are you feeling?"
Erza was silent for a long minute, observing the beaming face of the stellar mage with her own slight smile. "I'm fine, Lucy. And you?"
Erza's eyes flickered up and Lucy assumed she was looking at the bandage still wrapped around her head. "I'm okay." She said, raising a hand to brush her fingertips over it, "My side kind of hurts and I have a little headache, but other than that I'm fine. You got the worst of it." Lucy frowned, "Are you sure you're okay? If I'm still aching from earlier it must be a lot worse for you."
"I'm alright, Lucy. You don't need to worry about me." Erza attempted to sit up but fell back into her pillow with a groan.
"I don't think you should be getting out of bed yet." The blonde said, her face worried as she placed her hands on the woman's arm to keep her from attempting to get up once again, "And honestly, you tell me not to worry but someone has to because you never care about what happens to yourself. That's why I have to..." The end of her sentence drifted off and she blushed, looking away from the nineteen year old.
"Lucy..." Erza gazed at the other mage for a moment before peering around at their surroundings. "Where are we exactly? This place doesn't seem familiar."
"Oh, this is a hotel. After the both of us got knocked out on the request, Natsu and Gray brought us back here and had a doctor take a look at our wounds. It's pretty late now so Natsu said we'd be spending the night."
"Speaking of the boys, where are they? And Happy for that matter?"
"Er... That's a good question. I've been wondering the same thing..." After receiving a puzzled expression from the older woman, Lucy explained the reason for their absence.
Erza scowled. "Is that so? It's troublesome taking them anywhere..."
"Funny, I was thinking the same thing earlier..."
"Have you eaten?" The Titania asked Lucy curiously, "You must be hungry after everything that's happened today. I suggest you go have dinner, seeing as how the probability of the boys bringing something edible back isn't very high. And after that, you should go to bed. You look exhausted."
Lucy giggled. "See? There you go again, worrying about others instead of yourself. You're the one that's bed ridden, so you're the one that needs attention first!"
Erza blushed slightly and attempted to hide the fact by turning her head away. "Lucy, really, I'm fine. I don't see why I'm the one who needs to be taken care of."
Lucy blinked, blushing herself at the sight of the nineteen year old's expression. She opened her mouth to say something, though she wasn't sure what, when the door opened.
Both mages turned their head to see a weary Happy enter the room followed by a disgruntled Natsu and Gray. The boys were covered in bruises, their clothing tattered, and they kept glaring at one another.
Lucy stood, not sure whether she should be worried or not since things like this happened too often. "Let me guess," She said, sighing, "You guys got into a fight again." They didn't answer, instead sending angry looks at the wall. "Where was that smoke coming from, Happy?"
"A vendor stall nearby was on fire." The blue cat said. Lucy could tell he was tired; his ears drooped and his tail was dragging on the floor.
"Yeah, thanks to this sissy haired jackass." Gray quipped unhelpfully.
"Oh, yeah? You were the one who froze the stall's owner in a block of ice!"
When the two teenagers began butting heads, Erza spoke up. "Enough. Act your age."
The boys and cat turned, shock etched on their faces at the sound of the familiar voice. "Erza!" Natsu exclaimed, going to her side with a grin. Happy hopped up onto the mattress to stand at the young woman's blanketed feet and Gray hung back for only a second before joining them.
"This is great!" The fire mage said, "See, Lucy? I told you she'd wake up soon!"
"How are you feeling?" Gray asked, eyeing the Fairy Queen warily. Lucy assumed the reason he was being cautious was because lately there had been feelings of animosity between them.
Erza smiled at him. "I'm fine. Lucy told me the both of you brought us back. I wanted to thank you."
Gray visibly relaxed as Natsu boasted, "Yeah, I'm awesome! You owe us now!"
She chuckled. "Perhaps I do."
"Hey, I'm assuming neither of you brought any food?" Lucy voiced, looking at the boys critically.
"It's not my fault! If this stripping idiot hadn't insulted me-"
"Well if you weren't acting stupid-"
Lucy sighed as the boys continued. Things will never change with them.
"Lucy, help me up."
The blonde gave Erza a puzzled expression. "Huh? Why?"
"I feel the need for some fresh air, so I will go for a walk."
"But... I'm not sure you should be getting up yet... and you tried to move before but you couldn't."
"Luckily I'll have you to help me, won't I?" Erza said with a smile, "You did mention earlier about taking care of me, did you not?"
Lucy blushed. "I... I guess I did..." With hesitant movements, she helped the woman into a sitting position, one hand supporting her back and the other pulling her up. Erza groaned from the strain, but managed to swing her legs over the edge of the bed and, with Lucy's help, got to her feet. She wobbled slightly for a second before gaining balance, casting a smile down at Lucy who was still bracing her back, and the younger girl blushed at their close proximity.
Before Lucy had a chance to look away, Erza broke the eye contact, turning her attention to the bickering boys. "Natsu. Gray."
The two mages abruptly stopped mid insult, most likely assuming they were about to be reprimanded.
"Lucy and I are going for a walk." The Fairy Queen told them, her voice filled with authority as usual, "You better not fight while we're gone, and there had better not be anything broken or damaged when we get back. I'm leaving Happy in charge."
Lucy wondered if that was a sound idea, leaving the feline in charge since he was sitting on the mattress, his face tired. However, he gave a small nod along with an "Aye, sir!"
The two girls made their way out of the room, the sound of the boys' grumbles ceasing once they closed the door behind them. As they made their way down the hall, Erza spoke up.
"Lucy, you can remove your hand from my back now."
"Oh, um... Are you sure?"
"Yes. I believe I can walk on my own."
Lucy let her hand drop down to her side, slightly saddened that the re-quip mage didn't need her help any longer. Erza observed her expression for a moment before reaching out and taking the girl's hand in her own.
"We'll do this instead." The Titania said with a smile when Lucy peered up at her with a questioning gaze.
Lucy blushed lightly but nodded, trying and failing to suppress how giddy it made her feel. The two exited the building and, once under the darkening sky, Lucy asked, "So... where are we going?"
Erza contemplated for a minute before a thought seemed to occur to her. She began walking down the cobble-stoned road, Lucy in tow. "This way." She said to the girl being pulled along behind her.
"Huh? What's this way?"
Erza cast her a smile. "You'll see."
"Oh..." Lucy gasped when they arrived at their destination. Erza had brought her to the docks where they had chased Natsu to all those hours ago. The sun was dropping down into the horizon, splashing a myriad of colors across the sky. The ocean reflected the sun's dying rays, unceasing golden waves lapping against the wooden planks of the docks. Lucy's eyes were drawn to the many colors; purple, red, orange and gold, blue, pink... "Wow..."
"It's beautiful." Erza said beside her, staring at the sky appreciatively.
"It really is." Lucy said admiringly, "The world is full of wonderful things, isn't it?"
The blonde had expected to hear a reply from the young woman, but when none came, she looked over with a puzzled expression. Erza was gazing at her silently, the kindest of smiles on her face. Lucy flushed, not only because of her unwavering stare, but also... In the golden light cast by the setting sun... Erza looked absolutely beautiful. She felt herself freeze up, unable to turn her gaze away from the other woman. But... she also felt that she didn't want to.
Erza finally spoke, her eyes locked with Lucy's, "It certainly is."
Lucy suddenly got the feeling that Erza wasn't talking about sunsets anymore. She felt conceited for thinking that maybe, just maybe, she was referring to her. In fact, a part of her really hoped it was true...
Erza was the first to look away, turning her attention back to the slowly darkening sky. Lucy, however, couldn't take her gaze from the nineteen year old. Without really thinking, she slid her hand into Erza's, blushing when the red head peered down at her.
"Um... Is... Is that okay?" The younger mage asked nervously, wondering why she was getting so jittery since the other wouldn't likely refuse it.
"It's fine, Lucy." Erza replied, smiling at the girl's obvious anxiety.
Even after she turned away once again, Lucy continued to stare at her. Though the daylight was fading rapidly, she could still make out the small smile on the scarlet haired mage's face. She truly was stunning... Lucy basked in the feeling of Erza's warmth and touch. It made her feel safe. But there was something else... Lucy could sense it at the edge of her mind. An unknown emotion that wanted even more of this warmth and touch. It made Lucy's heart ache, something she couldn't remember ever feeling before... And then suddenly it hit her.
Erza looked around with a confused expression when Lucy's hand slipped from her own. "Lucy?" She said in a questioning tone, eyeing the girl beside her worriedly. Lucy was staring unseeingly ahead, her face having gone pale. "Lucy, are you alright? Is something wrong?"
Lucy slowly turned her head to gaze at the other mage, her eyes wide and her mouth slightly agape. It was not an expression that instilled calmness in the young woman.
"Lucy?" Erza gripped the girl's shoulders, peering into her face with concern. "Lucy, what's wrong? Is something the matter?" It was as if the blonde had suddenly turned into a frozen, lifeless doll.
Without warning, the girl jumped, as if she had just been surprised by something. She stared at the red head for only a moment before swerving her eyes away. "I-I'm sorry." She apologized shakily, "I just- I'm just really tired from everything that happened today..."
Erza frowned. "Of course. That's understandable... We'll head back to the hotel so you can get some rest..." The seventeen year old nodded, and Erza noted that the girl was still extremely pale. Her eyes remained on the floor, refusing to meet the older woman's. It unsettled Erza, but she dismissed it as mere exhaustion. After all, they did have a trying day.
Erza led the way back to the hotel, the pair leaving the docks behind. Lucy stayed a few steps behind the other, her gaze never leaving the floor. The armor mage began to wonder if it was only exhaustion nagging at the other girl's mind, or if it was something else entirely. She certainly hadn't been acting like this just minutes before. The trek back was silent, the darkness nearly complete when they reached the building. As they entered, the street lights came on, pushing back the blackness of the night as residents bustled down the road, making their way to their homes and ultimately their warm beds.
Still, Lucy was quiet even as they went upstairs and neared their rooms. Erza was growing increasingly worried as time went on, casting the blonde glances from over her shoulder every few minutes just to be sure she was still there. Without stopping, they entered the room where the boys were supposed to be. Natsu had been sitting on the floor with a piece of paper in front of him, playing what looked like pictionary with Happy while Gray sat in a chair against the wall, making small sculptures of ice. All three looked up at the sound of the girls' entrance.
"You're back." Gray stated, standing and approaching a few steps before halting. "How was you're walk?" Erza cast a glance at Lucy, and when the ice mage took in the girl's expression and demeanor, he frowned.
The Titania shook her head discreetly, telling him not to ask. Natsu and Happy had also stood up, both of their faces mirroring Gray's.
"Lucy is tired." Erza said simply, casting another subtle look in the celestial mage's direction. "She can sleep in here. I'll take her room."
The boys shared a puzzled look before Gray spoke, "Well, we assumed we'd be staying here for the night so we got another room while you were out but..."
"We thought you'd be sharing a room." Natsu finished, his gaze moving back and forth between the two girls.
"We're both exhausted." Erza said, "I think it'd be best if we got as much rest as possible with the least amount of disturbance."
Natsu looked ready to comment on what kind of disturbance she was speaking of, but after casting another look at Lucy, remained quiet and instead nodded.
"I'll go rent another room then." Gray said, his mouth still a frown. "There's no way I'm sleeping in the same room as this idiot."
Natsu opened his mouth to retaliate, but quickly tightened his lips when Erza sent him a meaningful look. "Fine, then Happy and I'll take the other room." He said, looking at the exhibitionist with an irritated expression before exiting the room with the cat at his heels. Gray followed right after, but not before peering at the troubled blonde with another frown. Once they were gone, Erza turned to Lucy, who's eyes had seemingly not left the floor the entire time. The S-class mage studied the other's face carefully, taking notice that her cheeks were no longer white but flushed instead.
"You'll be alright on your own, Lucy?" She asked, placing a gentle hand on the girl's arm.
Lucy nodded, her gaze on her feet. "Y-yes, I'll be fine. Have a good night, E-Er-" The young mage cleared her throat uncomfortably. "E-Erza." She then made her way towards the bed, not sparing a single look in the woman's direction.
The Titania took this as a dismissal, casting one last glance at Lucy's back before leaving the room and shutting the door behind her. As she made her way over to the room next door, she hoped that whatever was ailing the seventeen year old would solve itself during the night.
Lucy collapsed onto the mattress, curling up and hiding her face in her knees. She shouldn't have acted so antisocial towards her nakama, but the realization she had earlier had hit her like a brick going a hundred miles per hour. In a way, she felt like she should have expected it, but even so, she couldn't help but feel shocked. How could she have prepared herself for this?
The girl shifted, grabbing the nearest pillow and hugging it to her chest. Resting her cheek on it, she noticed a familiar scent.
It smelled like strawberries. It smelled of safety and warmth, kindness and sincerity, strength and caring. It smelled beautiful. It smelled like Erza.
Lucy buried her face in the pillow, the storm of feelings inside her making her unsure of the exact thing she should be feeling.
Lucy sighed, not sure if it was in defeat or otherwise. "Oh god..." She murmured, her voice slightly muffled by the pillow. As the remaining light escaped the room, one last whisper made itself into the air.
"I'm in love with Erza."
So how was it!? I decided to give Happy a slightly bigger role since I felt bad about him not really being in the story so far.
Please review! I need the motivation!