A/N: Hey guys! So, this might be the story I was talking about in Insufferable a few chapters ago. I hope you all like it. Lots of angst and death and fun stuff.
They both knew they shouldn't do it, but the feeling of being alive after so many had died had dulled their sense of propriety and they both just needed a release of some sort before the fighting resumed.
The humans who remained had surrendered, much to everyone's dismay, but they didn't have a choice. Some human had to live, and if they hadn't, then the race would be extinct.
Waking up the morning after was a great feeling that was worth living for, even if it was only temporary. "Gray, what are we going to do?" Erza asked him, her face pressed against his neck. He still held her and let his fingers move idly on her bare skin, contemplating what they should do next.
"We need to form a camp where we all stay together safely. Do we know who all made it?"
"In general, most of the mages of the seven guilds from the Games, plus a small amount of civilians. Most civilians are dead and weaker guild were wiped out, too." She said, dragging herself away from him and exquipping into her blouse and skirt. "And we don't speak of last night."
"So, we round up everyone we can and try to build a new guild?" Gray suggested, pulling his boxers on. "A large building to house everyone, and protect them from the elements?"
"That would be a pretty big project," Erza commented, running her fingers through her hair to rid it of the tangles before letting it lay loose around her. "But I think it could be done."
"Let's go on a survivor hunt, then." Gray said after donning the rest of his clothes. They would talk later, because right now there were more pressing matters than what they wanted with each other.
She had a pretty big following. They had gathered up over two hundred people, about half being powerful mages, and they were all willing to follow her. "So, I've had a suggestion posed to me, and I request your opinion on it," she yelled from eight feet in the air, feeling a bit self-conscious. "We all need to support ourselves together, each helping each other out - with actions, not necessarily with money. I propose the idea of a large building, with individual apartments and joint functions where we all can live, and include what's similar to what most of you know as a guild hall, with tables and food. We would be a self-sufficient unit, and we would all be able to live in safety together. Can we vote on what should be done?"
There was murmurings, but she received nods from the population before her. "All in favor, raise your right hand!" No one left their hand down, and a surge of pride shocked her body. Her people were following her without question, and it was the best thing she could hope for. "Then we build our new home! But I would like to clear it with the dragons first, so they don't destroy it before we can use it."
One by one, five hands raised, the first two being Natsu and Wendy, slowly followed by Gajeel, then Rogue, and lastly Sting. "Oi, Titania, we'll talk to the dragons for ya," Gajeel offered. "You've got some people to lead."
She nodded to the eldest Dragon Slayer. "We need to pick a spot for the building. Anyone know of a large clearing?"
Levy raised her hand. "About five miles from here there's a good clear expanse of land that's probably a good square mile. Is that big enough?"
Erza leaped down from her perch and nodded at Levy. "Everyone, gather the things that you have and meet back up here in an hour. Dragon Slayers, if I could speak with you, and - Gray Fullbuster, you are not sneaking away from this meeting," she hissed at the ice mage, who yelped when she said his name. The crowd laughed and departed, with Levy, Lucy and Romeo sticking around also. "Did you have a plan in mind, Gajeel?" She asked, hand on her hip.
"Was plannin' on meeting up wit' the big-shot dragons, then tell 'em that we need some space where we're 'llowed to live, and we'll stay within hundred feet of the clearing. Sound good, Titania? Or do I need a hard-set plan?" Gajeel and Erza both stared at each other, before she nodded in approval.
"Just make sure that you have a back-up plan," she ordered. "And if worst comes to worst, send Wendy back here with details of what went wrong. Understand?"
"Yes, ma'am," Natsu answered for the Iron Dragon Slayer. "Are we gonna go see the place where we'll build the new guild?"
"Yes, Natsu. You're all dismissed, and as soon as we get to the clearing you'll be heading out. Understood?"
"Yeah, yeah. Come on, Shorty, we gotta go pack," Gajeel said to the blunette lingering behind Erza, while Lucy made a grab at Natsu and Romeo and Wendy walked off together, chattering amiably about something or another.
"Why did I have to be there?" Gray asked irritatedly, and she shot him a look. "It wasn't about me."
"Someone has to know my plans, and right now you're the best one for the position. And as much as I trust everyone else," she hesitated for a moment, trying to find the right wording, "you're the one I can trust the most." The actions of the previous night resurfaced, and she felt a smile tug at her lips. "We also need to talk."
"Yeah, about that," Gray scratched at the back of his neck, his face coloring a light red. "It wasn't a 'heat-of-the-moment' thing."
"I know. If it had been, I wouldn't have let it happen," she told him. "Just remember: the people always come first, but I always come second." She patted his shoulder before she headed off toward where they'd slept the night before. "Well, are you coming or not?" She hollered back at where he was still standing. "We have to pack too!"
It was odd to be able to touch Erza without fear of her stabbing him. Their hands would brush as they walked along, up in the front with Levy and Gajeel leading the way.
"So, I've been hearing rumors that the people want you to declare yourself a monarch," He said softly, standing incredibly close to her. He basked in her warmth and the feminine woodsy smell she radiated.
"Declarations of monarchies only work when the people have housing and food," She replied offhandedly, waving her hand as if she was flicking something distasteful off her finger. "If the people still want if after we're a stabilized community, then I shall accept the nomination."
"Aren't we quite the nobility," Gray snickered in reply, but he meant it in honesty and not jest. She was noble, which fitted her well because she was a knight in her own right. "I think that's for the best, too, Erza."
They walked in comfortable silence until they reached a crest of a hill where, at the top, a large plain sat, littered with uprooted trees and various debris. "Impressive," Erza breathed, and Gray too was awestruck. The plain was much larger than Levy had let on, and they'd be able to live well here.
"You done good, Shrimp," Gajeel told Levy as he patted her head. "So, now what?"
"We design a home," Erza replied, leading the group farther into the clearing. Gray followed, as that was all he really could do as she worked her way to the top.
"I need a council," Erza told the two girls in front of her, "and I want you to be a part of it."
"Me?" The girl with dark hair asked, and Erza believed her name was Desiree. "I've never done anything important in my life."
"Our lives have changed. I never thought I'd be in charge of a ragtag group of dragon attack survivors."
The blonde-haired girl, Danielle, shrugged. "I'm in. We get to be in the top ranks of a new society."
"I can replace you if you do anything wrong. It's not a light position." Erza said seriously, hoping these two girls would see the importance in their position. "You'll help me make decisions and probably be requested to protect me. You'll be the voice of the people."
"Oh, I've played the bodyguard position before. Not the most fun, but it's something to do," Danielle told her. "It's a serious position, I get it. Who are we training with?"
"Me, if you feel daring enough. If not, I can have you start off with Gray." She pointed at her dozing partner, who was keeping a lazy eye on the exchange. Erza would have Gajeel on her council too, since he was level-headed and not afraid to challenge her decisions, but she knew she'd need another male before declaring the council complete. Not Gray, since he'd follow her into the depths of Hell if she told him to. And she couldn't play favorites.
"Yeah, sounds good. Hey, Ice-head! Bring it!" Danielle challenged, and Erza felt her eyes widen. Had the small blonde just challenged one of her best fighters?
"Oh no," Desiree moaned, burying her head in her hands. "Tell me when he's done beating her up." Erza nodded and watched the exchange between the ice mage and her newest (stupidest) council member. She swung the first punch, which had caught Gray completely off-guard and Erza couldn't help but chuckle at his appalled face.
"Oh, it's on!" He roared, and it turned into an all-out brawl between the two, and Erza was impressed with the girl's ability to hold her own against him. After a few minutes, with enough bruises and blood to last the two for a few days, Erza felt her jaw drop as Danielle delivered the last punch and Gray fell to the ground.
"Did that," Desiree uncovered her face, "really just happen?" She asked, disbelief in her voice.
"I'm assuming that it did, since I'm pretty sure I'm not hallucinating," Erza replied in an equally shocked tone. "Well done, Danielle! Your technique could use more work, though."
"He put up more of a fight than I thought he would!" Danielle snorted, splattering blood on the ground. "I'm just out of practice, and damn that felt good."
"I'll be feeling this for a few days," Gray muttered, sitting up slowly. "That's a nice punch, girl."
"I have a name," Danielle retorted, but a grin deceives the irritation at the ice mage. "And you could've easily beaten me with your magic."
"Figured you wanted a fist fight, so I gave you one. Does she fit the bill, Erza?" Gray asked, and Erza nodded in reply. She was still in shock but she knew that this girl would be a good representative for the people.
"Hey, Erza sent me to see you guys off," Gray told the waiting Dragon Slayers. "She's busy with her council members."
"Not like we was waiting for her anyway," Gajeel huffed. "Bunny-girl kidnapped Salamander and I need 'im to talk to Igneel."
"Gray-san, make sure Erza-san doesn't work herself too hard," Wendy said worriedly, approaching Gray. "She'll overwork herself if no one stops her."
"I know, Wendy. I'll get her to bed at a decent time, make sure she eats enough, all that." He pet the younger girl's head, and she wrapped her arms around him tightly in a hug.
"Sounds like you two are Titania's babysitters," Gajeel chuckled. "And make sure she doesn't drag Shorty into anything major."
"You're worried about Levy?" Gray asked, still half-hugging the little blunette. He found it interesting that the big, scary Iron Dragon Slayer had a soft spot for the small blunette.
"No one asked you, stripper," Gajeel huffed and turned away, but Gray knew that he did have a soft spot for the blunette. "Anyway, you're dotin' on Titania, so you don't got room to talk."
Gray knew he was whipped, so it didn't matter how many people told him this. He shrugged in response.
"Alright, let's go!" Natsu yelled, appearing from behind a cracked column.
"Enjoy your time with Lucy?" Gray asked with a knowing smirk. Natsu glared at him before rolling his eyes and moving away from him.
"Let's do this!" He yelled, storming off into the unknown, with Gajeel huffing irritation and Wendy stating uncertainties as she let go of Gray and followed the three. Sting and Rogue stayed a distance behind, but they conversed with each other and Gray assumed the five would be fine.
Erza rubbed her bleary eyes as she tried to make the best use of the space she had. The guild, as she'd taken to calling it, would be situated in a corner of the field, while they grew crops in the other parts of the field. They wouldn't need to rely on imports or money, just whatever they were able to bring in by hand.
But the one thing she couldn't quite figure out was how the living quarters would work. She had eighty rooms, but she needed more than that. She couldn't figure out how to fix the problem, and the thin line of drool dripping down her neck was distracting her.
"Gray, I'm trying to work here," she said, but made no action to stop the biting and kissing he was doing to her neck. She wouldn't have minded if she was doing something less important, but she wanted to have this done and ready for approval by the next afternoon.
He stopped and moved his chin to rest on her shoulder. "You almost done? It's two in the morning and I told Wendy I'd have you in bed at a decent hour."
"In my bed or yours?" She asked distractedly, tapping the end of the magic pen against her lips. She wasn't really paying attention to what she was saying to the ice mage.
"She didn't tell me which," he said in a desperate attempt to sound seductive, but she laughed it off and continued to try and figure out how to make more rooms. "What're you trying to figure out?"
"I can't squeeze more rooms in here, and I need more," she told him, passing him the pen. "See, we have two hundred and seven people, but I have eighty rooms."
"That is a problem," Gray agreed. "But what's up with the spaces between the rooms? If you got rid of those, you'd be able to squeeze about another two rooms in on each side. That's what, eighty-eight? That still doesn't help." He sighed.
"Should we make the main hall bigger so we can fit more rooms along the sides?" She suggested, feeling frustration build in her tensed muscles. "We only have so much room to work with, though," she added as an afterthought, and her hands clenched against the paper she'd scrounged up. "Why can't I do this right?" She yelled, trying to bite back the frustrated tears that spilled down her cheeks anyway. Her voice lowered as she added, "Why did this fall back on me? I can't lead these people." And it was what she really believed. She had no experience, no qualifications to be a leader. All she had was an S-class title and her friends to vouch for her actions. She didn't know what she was doing. She felt herself crumple against the stone slab she was working on, and Gray barely managed to hover over her without falling on top of her.
"Erza, you can do this. You know why? Because they believe you can. Hell, I believe you can. You might not know what you're doing, but neither does anyone else! You were the pillar that stood strong when everything else had fallen apart. You're more than capable, Erza, I promise." He kissed the top of her head. "Queen Erza and King Gray of New Fiore. Has a good ring to it, no?"
"Who said I'd pick you as my king? There are many other capable men who would make my leadership much stronger, and you're not that high on the list," she took a jab at humor, and she felt his ribcage shake above her. She felt better, knowing that Gray supported her and would be there for her no matter what. "Thank you, Gray. So," she pulled herself off the stone slab and looked at the blueprints, before blinking in shock. "I messed up," she declared.
"How?" Gray asked, looking quizzically at the blueprints. "Are the proportions out?"
"No. There's going to be two floors. We actually have a hundred and seventy-six rooms."
"Well, damn," Gray chuckled. "Pretty big mistake there, Titania."
She hit his shoulder before leaning away from the stone slab and rolling it up. "Let me take this to Levy, and then we can go to bed."
"You'll be okay on your own? I'm beat," he said, loosening his grip on her. She nodded, since he wasn't used to all-nighters like most girls were. "Be careful."
"You too," she smiled at him and squirmed out from under his body before heading in the general direction of where Levy was sleeping. She poked her nose in a few of the different areas before finding the girl still awake, looking miserable. "Hi, Levy," she greeted, sitting next to the distraught Solid Script mage.
"Oh, hi Erza," Levy responded, turning to face the redhead. "You finished the blueprint?"
"It would've been done sooner, but I couldn't add right." Erza took in her posture, and how shaky she'd been when she'd taken the paper to examine it. "Are you okay?" She asked, worried for her friend's health.
"How are you so calm?" Levy asked, biting her lip. "Everything we know and love is gone! We lost so many of our friends and teammates, and yet you're still plowing through like it's just a pebble in your path!" At this point, Levy burst into tears, and Erza sighed sadly, but allowed the blunette to use her shoulder to cry on.
"We still have what we love, though. We still have the spirit of Fairy Tail, and don't we always move forward, even if it gets tough?" Erza was no good at consoling people. She did much better when she was the one being consoled. This was really a stretch for the mage.
"We do. But, Erza," she sniffed, still clutching the older mage, "I'm scared about what's coming."
"I am too," Erza admitted. "But what better way is there to conquer your fear than to face it head on? I'm not asking you to be strong, Levy, I just want you to be brave."
After a moment of hesitation, Levy nodded. "Okay. I can be brave."
"Good. Goodnight, Levy," Erza smiled at the bluenette before leaving her to pour over the blueprints for the new guild.
"Night, Erza. Thanks."