Notes: I wrote this when I saw Eqqlo's newest fanart on tumblr (in fact I sort of wrote it in the reblog). It was gonna be a drabble and then I kept writing and so this happened. It's sort of a high school AU, not all that great, but I figure I'd upload it to this little collection.
The first time Levy met Gajeel she'd been frightened, and for a good reason. He was a bully, he tormented Lu-chan and beat Levy and her friends up for no reason other than he was bored. She was sure she'd never be able to forgive him for the scars he left, and when he entered her school she considered it punishment.
She couldn't be in the same room as him without shaking. She still suffered from nightmares of what he'd done. Then Jet and Droy had to be idiots and try to get revenge. They cornered him and she was sure they'd get another beating, but he didn't even lift a hand against them. He let them hit him until he was bruised and bloody and he never once fought back. When they'd finally finished he didn't move at first, just stood there with his arm pressed against his side and blood dripping from his nose. It was then he looked up at Levy, his unusual red eyes looking so guilty.
"You gonna hit me too?" he'd growled. When she'd just shook her head he'd grabbed his backpack and limped away.
Her nightmares started to fade after that, but Gajeel didn't fade from her thoughts. In fact he began appearing in her mind more frequently. She thought about how he seemed to avoid her when he could. If she saw him in the hallway she'd blink and he would suddenly be gone, and he always sat in the seat farthest from her in the classroom.
She knew why. She knew that he felt bad for his past, that he didn't want to hurt her again. He probably thought that just seeing him would cause her pain, but for some reason it was him avoiding her that hurt more.
Then one day after school she'd been alone in the library, shelving the returned books. It was a two person job but Lucy had a date and Levy had told her she could handle it alone. Unfortunately because of that she knew she'd be stuck there until way late.
When the door had slid open she didn't even look up from the books, figuring it was just a student coming to return another book.
"Oh." It was quiet, but in the library even the quietest of whispers could be shouts. Her head whipped up and she found herself staring into those red eyes that used to haunt her dreams, now they just haunted her thoughts. Gajeel rubbed the back of his neck and shifted his feet, his eyes flicking down to the floor. "Natsu said that there was only one person working in the library," he said. "I thought I'd come help…"
She could tell he was about to run so she may have acted rashly. She'd practically thrown the books at him, pushing them into his arms with a large - albeit a bit forced - smile. "Thanks so much. I wasn't sure I'd be able to get through all this alone."
Gajeel had just stared at her and she made sure the smile stayed glued on her face. "There's another cart," she said, pointing towards the desk. "I'd be forever grateful if you could do it."
Finally he moved further into the room. He placed the books she'd shoved at him on top of the cart and started going from shelf to shelf. Silence filled the library again and she returned to the task at hand, but she couldn't help peeking at him through the shelves every once in awhile, and a couple of those times he was peeking back.
With his help they managed to finish before five and she stretched her arms over her head, smiling brightly.
"Thanks so much," she said, turning her smile to him. "I would've been stuck here forever if you hadn't shown up."
"No problem," he muttered, already heading to the door, but she wasn't ready to say goodbye yet.
She grabbed her bag and hopped after him, having to lengthen her usual stride to keep up with him. "Do you wanna go get an ice cream or something?"
When he just stopped and stared at her she smiled and bounced in place.
"Why?" he finally asked and she shrugged in response.
"It's a bit hot out and an ice cream sounds good. Why does one usually get ice cream?"
He sighed and shook his head. She wondered why he kept his hair so long, and how he kept it so straight. She was a bit envious.
"No. I mean why are you talking to me?"
"Oh." She drew her bottom lip between her teeth and nibbled on it. "Because we've never really talked before and I'm curious about you."
He just stared again. He did that a lot. "Don't you hate me?"
"I did," she admitted, walking forward a few steps. She kept her back to him as she talked. "You were the source of my nightmares for awhile. I always dreamt you were a giant dragon with metallic gray scales. You'd eat Jet and Droy before turning to me." She turned to face him, her arms behind her back. "I was the princess you'd lock away in your tower. You never ate me though…" She shrugged. "Then you let them beat you up and you looked so guilty that I just couldn't keep hating you. Yeah what you did was wrong, but everyone makes mistakes."
He blinked at her, shock flashing across his face, and she smiled.
"So ice cream?"
He said yes.
After that they became hesitant friends. People were surprised to see her sitting next to him and talking to him like nothing was wrong, but after awhile it became normal. Jet and Droy were still tense around him, Levy expected them to be, but she knew they'd come around when they got to know him better.
Gajeel was kind. He saved injured kittens and he helped Levy when she was struggling in P.E. He didn't mind when she dragged him into bookstores and he always took her bag when he deemed it too heavy for a short thing like you to carry. He helped her dry her hair when they got caught in a sudden rainstorm and even pulled it back with the headband for her.
She hadn't missed the way his fingers trailed over the scar on the back of her neck, or how he refused to look at her. It was then that she vowed she would let her hair grow out until it was no longer visible, not because she was ashamed of it, but because she didn't want to cause him pain. Because she loved him, and when her hair was as long as his she'd tell him that.
When Gajeel first met Levy he'd done something stupid, so incredibly stupid. Fairy Tail was an enemy of Phantom Lord, they always lost to them in everything. So Gajeel decided that Fairy Tail needed to lose some of its spirit and he'd attacked three of the students. Levy had been one of them.
Then Phantom Lord had been closed down and Gajeel had nowhere to go. When Makarov had shown up and offered him a place at there school he hadn't been sure what to do. He'd ended up taking the offer because he clearly had a death wish, but Makarov had welcomed him with open arms.
It had been tense in the beginning. A fellow Phantom student had also transferred and she tried to make it easier for him, but she hadn't committed the same crimes he had. She deserved their acceptance, he didn't.
When he'd been cornered by Jet and Droy he'd let them beat him up. He knew it wouldn't be enough, not even killing him would atone for his sins, but maybe it would help. He let them hit and kick him until they were content, and when they were done he looked at Levy and the fear he saw in those wide brown eyes hurt like nothing before. He'd wanted her to hit him. He'd wanted her to take her pain out on him, but she'd done nothing. So he walked away and promised to never go near her again.
A couple of weeks passed like that. If he saw Levy he went in the opposite direction. He just couldn't handle seeing that fear again, he didn't want her to be afraid of him.
Then Natsu told him to go to the library one day after school, that some poor kid was shelving books all alone up there and would probably be stuck until after six. Gajeel hadn't thought anything of it as he opened the door, but when he saw that familiar head of messy blue hair he hadn't be able to keep the surprise from showing.
He'd expected to see that same fear from before in her eyes, but she'd looked at him and smiled. It was like an angel and he didn't deserve it. She shoved the books in his arms and told him to get to work and he did. It was like his body was on autopilot. He didn't want to leave her alone with all that work.
He couldn't stop from sneaking peeks at her as they worked, and when their eyes met he couldn't stop the flush from creeping up his face.
The minute they finished he was practically racing for the door. He couldn't be alone with her any longer. If she kept smiling at him like that he'd start to think that maybe it'd be okay to be friends (or more), but she'd followed him, and asked him to ice-cream, and hadn't even batted an eyelash as she admitted to hating him.
He hadn't expected it to hurt so much, to hear her admit to hating him. He deserved the pain, but he wanted her to like him. He wanted her to keep smiling at him.
And she did.
She smiled at him until he agreed and she just kept smiling. She sat next to him in class and at lunch. She dragged him to bookstores. She visited his house and smiled when he told her about Pantherlily, the little scarred kitten he'd rescued from a box.
After awhile he started to think that maybe it'd be okay. Maybe he'd be allowed to love her.
Then one day he saw the scar. He knew the cause of the scar, he recognized the placement. He remembered the knife, he remembered cutting her and smiling about it, and he knew he couldn't love her. Not as long as the scar was there.
Then she commented on his hair, about how long and beautiful it was, and he made a decision as he cut it away.
He wouldn't tell her he loved her until the scar was gone and his hair was back. Maybe by then he'd be deserving of her love.