Hello everyone! This is the big premiere of a story I've been working on for a while now. I've had my lovely gopher, Taylor, working on the story with me to bring the best ideas I can. This is the result of some of our work. I really hope you enjoy this chapter, as well as this story. =)
Special warning: If you do not like astrology, or have negative views of the astrology idea, you may not like this story. If you can keep an open mind, then you'll love this story.
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters of Fairy Tail…oh but if I did…-dreams-
Chapter One: Lucy's Talent and Mira's Favor
If there was one thing people knew about Lucy Heartfilia, it was that she understood nothing about love. After going through high school with no luck, Lucy had only one serious relationship in her college years. He had been a great guy, a guy she had always been told to go after. A relationship her father had told her to go after. But the two of them could never get on the same page and ended up mutually splitting up after a year of fighting. In truth, Lucy hadn't really expected much to come out of the relationship. It was a bit embarrassing to admit why, but that was the same reason she was caught up in the mess she was in now.
"M-Me? A Matchmaker?!" Lucy stared in shock at the bartender in front of her, who smiled while continuing to clean the glass in her hand.
"Not just a matchmaker. A Fairy Tail matchmaker." Why did she say that like it was the easiest thing in the world to agree to? Then again, this was Mirajane Strauss she was talking to. Knowing all of the shenanigans that went on in the Fairy Tail guild, Lucy guessed this seemed normal to Mira. Fairy Tail was an amazing place, bringing all sorts of people together that would otherwise never meet. It had a bar, but it was so much more than that. With two levels and multiple rooms, Fairy Tail was almost like a guild. Their common goal? To find a place to belong.
Many people came daily, while others stumbled in for brief periods of time. And the ones with the Fairy Tail tattoos were simply fated to end up on Fairy Tail's doorstep. That had been Lucy's experience. Four years before, Lucy was just a nineteen year old girl who was utterly alone. In the middle of one of the most painful nights of her life, she had locked her keys in her car. She would have called someone, but her phone was sitting innocently in her passenger's seat. With nothing left to do, she stood in the pouring rain, letting her face get pelted with frozen rain. It hurt, but Lucy's entire body was getting numb. Maybe she should have walked back to her father's house; it wasn't too far. It might not have been too late to go back…
"Fairy Tail can be your new home, Lucy. We can be your new family; how does that sound?" But it was a different ending that had changed her life forever. She owed so much of her happiness to the establishment, and the beautiful people inside of it. She never really knew how to repay them for saving her from the loneliness of her old life. For becoming her new family, she owed them her life.
"You want me…to find love….for Fairy Tail members?" But this request was not what Lucy was expecting!
"Not just me. Master Makarov is interested in your ability as well." Ability?! What ability? Thinking back to a particular incident, Lucy skeptically raised her eyebrow at the overly happy woman serving her a watermelon martini. She knew she was going to need it after all of this.
"You're not talking about Evergreen and Elfman, are you?" By the way Mira's eyes lit up, Lucy knew she had hit the nail on the head. The whole thing started off as a joke. Well, maybe not a joke. She had been very accurate about her observation, even if she hadn't meant to say it. So then a suggestion, perhaps? In all honesty, who would take what a 22 year old girl said seriously about love? Yes, maybe some of it had to do with the bachelor's degree in Psychology she had under her belt. She was still working on the Master's. People tended to listen to her more when they discovered that piece of information. Like it was a doorway to their mind, people always wanted to know if she could figure out what they were thinking. Psychology and psychics were not the same, but people still asked. She was getting sidetracked. Especially since her degree wasn't what brought this trouble her way.
Lucy had been an only child of two extremely wealthy parents. Her father was a successful businessman, who was always out of the house for work. Her mother had a job, but quit to stay home with Lucy. The time together formed a quick bond between the two. To pass the days away, Layla taught Lucy about the magic she called 'astrology'. With it, her mother could predict how a person would act depending on what day their birthday fell on. Being young and eager to learn, Lucy immediately wanted to know the trick to the magic. Her mother was happy to teach her about the twelve houses of the zodiac, each one being symbolized by constellations in the stars. They would spend hours at home, studying each set of traits and abilities the twelve celestial spirits had. Every birthday or Christmas, Lucy would receive another book from her mother. By nightfall, Lucy would have read through it with questions for her mother to answer. Lucy was always a fast leaner, and picked up information that took others years to understand. Lucy could even guess a person's astrological sign within two tries by the time she was eight. In Lucy's hands, astrology really was magic. It was almost like she had been fated to know about the zodiac.
But Lucy had deserted her love for the zodiac when her mother passed away. It only brought on painful memories that she wasn't ready to bear. Every book her mother gave her was left in her closet, where Lucy thought they belonged. They were hidden out of view for nobody but her and her mother to know about. That all changed when she moved out on her own on her nineteenth birthday, and brought the books as a last minute decision. Though she doubted she'd ever use them again, she couldn't bear to lose the last things her mother gave to her. They were left untouched on her bookshelf in her apartment four years later, surrounded by psychology and personality books. After graduating her first round of college, Lucy would catch herself looking to the books, wondering if the magic had disappeared from their pages.
"That wasn't luck, Lucy! You knew what you were talking about." It was those haunting thoughts that caused Lucy to look away, unsure of how to deal with the current situation. She thought back to the day in question, which had only happened three weeks ago. It was the first night in over a decade Lucy had let herself use her 'talent' in front of other people.
Sitting in the same spot she always did, Lucy sipped on her drink after a long Monday night. Work had really sucked, and she was starting to think she was going to need to find a new job. Being a secretary was just not what she wanted to do with her degree. And to make matters worse she had been stood up after work. Letting out a sad sigh, Lucy rested her cheek in her hand while staring off into space.
"What's got you so sad, Lucy?" Looking up at the voice, Lucy smiled at the familiar face.
"Erza!" The red head took a seat next to Lucy, brushing her long hair over her shoulder with a tender smile. Erza was two years older than Lucy, and the younger girl had always looked to Erza like a big sister. When Lucy had first showed up at Fairy Tail, the slender woman's tough face had scared Lucy. It only increased when seeing her easily man handle anyone who pissed her off, even men twice her size. That initial fear slowly subsided when Erza started to hang out with Lucy more, the two forming a very close relationship. Erza had a big heart, and was very protective of her Fairy Tail family. She yelled and scolded not because she was mean, but because she was worried for them. It was hard for Erza to control her emotions, which ranged from ecstatic to depressed and then manic in two minutes. It may have scared many away, but Lucy took it on with a smile and occasional sweat drop. Four years later, it was impossible for Lucy to think of her life without Erza Scarlet.
"I see you've come to Fairy Tail without your partner in crime." Knowing who Erza was talking about, Lucy blew bubbles through her straw in slight annoyance.
"The idiot begged me to meet me him after work, only to cancel. Natsu didn't even tell me why either! So now I sit, alone, on a night I could have somehow tried to salvage the already horrible day I've had."
"If Natsu cancelled on you, he must have a good reason," The bartender said, Lucy grumbling under her breath while sipping her drink. She knew Mira was right. Natsu was really reliable, and always did things when he said he would. Whatever the emergency was, Lucy knew she'd forgive her friend. She did owe him more than she'd ever be able to repay.
"I rarely see you actually partake in the drinking here. I can only guess it's because of work." Lucy nodded at Erza's observation.
"I don't know how much more of it I can take. It's horrible hours, and my boss refuses to give me a raise. I want to help people, not fill out paperwork. I can't be happy in a job like that!" Lucy whined.
"But if you quit, where will you work?" Mira asked the question that made it impossible for Lucy to truly leave. Lucy groaned and laid her head on the cool wood of the bar, staring at the wall in irritation.
"I guess I'm forever destined to be stuck at a job that slowly sucks out my soul. Farwell, hopeful future." As if her actual happiness was in front of her, Lucy reached out dramatically. The bartender giggled, patting the blond girl's head.
"Don't give up yet, Lucy. You're still so young!"
"Maybe you just need to wait for the right opportunity to come along." She knew Erza was right, and luckily Lucy was patient when she needed to be.
"Cancer women are extremely patient, which is why you work well with fire signs. You're a really lucky girl to have such a beautiful sign, Lucy." Lucy immediately sat up, nearly knocking her drink over in the process. She grabbed the glass, trying to calm her racing heart. It had been years since she had heard her mother's voice. It would be four years in less than a month, to be specific. Normally, it would appear as soon as something was about to change in Lucy's life. The last time was her nineteenth birthday. The night she met Natsu and found Fairy Tail. That night truly had been life altering. So why was she hearing her mother now?
"Lucy! Are you okay?" She felt Erza's soft hand on her shoulder. Lucy looked up at her friends' concerned faces and laughed, trying to wave their worry away.
"Sorry, I just spaced out a bit. This job thing must really be getting to me." She took another sip of her drink, as if the liquid would make her forget about what had just happened. Seeing movement in the corner of the club, Lucy watched two familiar faces get extremely close in what appeared to be an argument. Using it as a distraction, Lucy tilted her head toward the two. "What's going on over there?"
"Oh no. Are my brother and Evergreen fighting again?" Mira's concerned voice showed how often this happened. Lucy stayed silent as she watched the tall man scowl at the curvy girl in front of him. Erza sighed when Evergreen started to push on Elfman's chest roughly.
"Should I go break them up?"
"There's no need; they're not Natsu and Gray," Mira replied, though a frown marred her pretty face.
"It looks like they're getting even louder." True to Erza's observation, Evergreen's hands started to flail in the air at something the irate man said.
"The two of them will just never get along. My poor little brother has made an enemy," Mira said, giggling. Lucy tilted her head slightly, not letting her eyes leave the two in front of her. Without realizing it, an old switch in her brain started a thought process she hadn't used in years.
"Did they get into some sort of argument? Maybe a fight a while back?" Erza asked, watching Evergreen push up on her tiptoes to tap on Elfman's forehead. The girl had guts, and Erza respected that within the fiery woman.
"No, nothing. They hardly even talked until they got paired up for that Fairy Tail tournament last year. Elfman drew her name, and the two of them were partners for the whole day. They worked pretty well together, if I remember correctly. I had actually thought Elfman may have liked her a little from how much he talked about her the next day. But now, for every calm conversation they have, they get in three more fights. My dream of my brother finding a possible girlfriend was ruined before it even started!"
"Mira," Lucy finally spoke, not letting her stare waver. Knowing she caught her friend's attention, Lucy continued. "When is Elfman's birthday? It's early December, I'm guessing?"
"December 5th, actually. How did you know that?" Mira asked, curious to know about the serious look on Lucy's face. It barely moved at the information, but the bar maiden happened to catch a slight uplift in Lucy's lips.
"I don't think your dream is ruined quite yet. In fact, I'm pretty sure they are crazy about each other," Lucy said, finishing her drink off with one final sip. Erza almost fell out of her seat at Lucy's off-handed comment, but grabbed the bar to keep herself upright.
"Lucy, how many of those have you had?" Erza asked slowly.
"Just this one. Why? Did I say something wrong?" Lucy asked, looking between the two. She knew they were shocked by her statement, but it really was obvious to her. Still not aware of the dusty switch she turned on in her brain, Lucy turned back to the couple and spoke. "Elfman's need to fight with Evergreen comes from his need to preach about everything; it's nothing to do with his feelings for her specifically. I guess I should have known his birthday with him going around, yelling 'men do this' and 'men do that' all the time. If your brother sees something wrong, he has no problems letting that person know how he feels. It's not like he does it to bother people; Sagittarius's are actually very easy to get along with. From what I can tell, Elfman has a lot of good friends in Fairy Tail, right?"
"Yes, my brother can make friends with almost anyone he meets. That's why it's so shocking Evergreen has a problem with him." Mira replied, Lucy nodding.
"Don't worry; Evergreen really does like your brother."
"Really?!" The romantic hopefully looked to Lucy, who smiled. "So why do they fight so much?"
"It's just a one of their sign clashes. See, look at the way Evergreen holds herself." Lucy pointed to the girl in question, who had her hands on her hips and her chin tilted in the air. "Any one of us can say we're beautiful, but Evergreen is a woman that had no problem showing it off. She's got a specific type of body too; really voluptuous and curvy. Even when she's upset she's really quite pretty. A key factor here is the way her hips flare out, even though she's so slender; a big indication she's a Scorpio. Now with Scorpio women, being told what to do by a man isn't the best way to get on her good side. She's already self-critical; she doesn't need some guy coming up to her and pointing out what he sees as 'wrong'. Especially when he doesn't have any facts to back up his claims. She's easy to upset, which I'm sure you all know, so she's quick to strike out at Elfman when he comes her way. Elfman won't back down from a fight, hence why the two argue so much."
"So then, how do you know they like each other? It seems quite the opposite from how you're explaining it," Erza asked, now intrigued with Lucy's thought process. Though she didn't think her young friend knew it, Lucy's eyes brightened at Erza's question. She seemed overjoyed to be talking about something that Erza, in the four years she had known Lucy, had never heard a peep about. From the way she expertly talked about it, Lucy knew a lot about the art of astrology. The information she was spilling out was not common knowledge. And it wasn't just that she knew it; Lucy knew how to use it too. The fact that Lucy would pick up so much about two people she hardly spoke to just by observation was amazing. Who knew Lucy had a hidden talent like this?
"This is a little bit trickier to explain. They were paired up for the tournament last year, right? Well, Elfman and Evergreen probably had a really easy time working together. Elfman's more brawns than brains, which is really common with Sagittarius. Scorpios are quite the opposite. Their strength lies in the fact that they are really intelligent, something that Sagittarius actually look for in their women. Evergreen was able to showcase her brain in the puzzle section of the tournament, and Elfman would have definitely noticed it. For Evergreen, his reckless courage and ability to take control when needed would have attracted her.
"It's just the task of getting them to admit they are into each other. Since Elfman is overly emotional with anyone in Fairy Tail, it'll be hard for Evergreen to feel special to him. Scorpio's like to feel like they're the only choice for their partners, since they can only truly love one person at a time. If they have even the slightest doubt, they may not admit to having any feelings. They're extremely prideful and stubborn in that aspect. So in order to get his attention, Evergreen will pick fights and make comments she knows will get under Elfman's skin. In doing so, his attention falls solely on her. That's how I know they like each other. Unless Elfman can make Evergreen feel like the only girl he sees in that light, she'll never make that first move."
"Lucy that's amazing!" Mira complimented, Lucy smiling as she winked at her.
"I may hate my life at the moment, but I still want to see others happy. And I think your brother needs a Scorpio! If he wants to snag Evergreen, I'd suggest he first takes her to an expensive dinner. Something eloquent and private. The two need to have time to connect on an intimate level. Next, take her somewhere that's exciting. Scorpios and Sagittarius signs both enjoy adventure, like racecar driving or hand-gliding. Something that gets the blood going. It's private enough for Evergreen to feel Elfman's attention while still keeping her from being bored. Elfman will admire her courage to try exciting things, even if she is a woman. A few solo dates like that, and you'll see the sparks fly soon afterwards. "
"That was extremely impressive, Lucy. How did you know all of that?" Erza asked, humored by the mini hearts now circling Mira's head. She knew the girl had the best intentions, but sometimes Mira got out of hand when it came to love. Lucy laughed as she watched the bounce in Mira's step, not really paying attention to Erza's question.
"I learned it when I was young from…" Lucy paused, her eyes widening. She had almost let that slip! She laughed and clapped her hands together, jumping off her bar stool. "I really should be on my way home; Happy is probably clawing the wallpaper off in hunger."
"Oh? I thought Happy was Natsu's cat?" Mira asked, Erza's eyes narrowing slightly at the averted question. Lucy tried to ignore the suspicious look as she nodded to Mira.
"It is, but Natsu is doing some work on his house and doesn't want Happy to get hurt. Happy was a part of Natsu's life before I even met him, so I offered to take him in until the work is done. That way Natsu could see him whenever he wanted. Do you realize that spoiled cat will only eat fish bought from the market? I spend more money on his food than mine!"
"It doesn't surprise me; Natsu treats that cat more like a son than a pet," Mira said, Lucy nodding while slipping on her jacket.
"Lucy—" Before Erza could go back to the sensitive topic, Lucy grabbed her purse and cell phone off the bar table.
"Sorry Erza, I'll talk to you later!" The two older women watched Lucy run out the door, one sighing.
"That girl is something amazing, isn't she Erza?" Erza looked down at the glass in her hand, swishing the liquid around slowly.
"And all that stuff she said about my brother and Evergreen…you'd think she was a match maker. A Fairy Tail matchmaker, of course!" Mira giggled then paused, her eyes lighting up as she excitedly grabbed Erza's hand. "That's it! I know how to solve Lucy's problem, and help this guild couple up."
"Cou-Couple up?!" Erza squeaked out, her eyes going wide as Mira nodded. Blushing all the way to her roots at the mention of romance, Erza completely forgot about Lucy's off behavior as she tried to calm herself down. A mischievous glint entered Mira's eyes, and for a moment Erza swore she saw a demonic aura surrounding the white-haired girl.
"If you'll excuse me, I need to speak with Master Makarov."
"Do you know how many single people are a part of Fairy Tail?" Lucy shook her head, wondering why she was even still entertaining the idea of her becoming Fairy Tail's matchmaker. "Over ninety five percent."
"W-what?! T-There's no way…" Lucy said, eyes wide at the information. She wanted to argue, but stopped when she realized it wasn't exactly false. Some of the older guys had wives, but they never brought them around the guild. The only real couple she could think of was Alzack and Bisca, who had only just gotten together. Was there anyone else? Natsu, Erza, Gray, even Mira herself was single. And it wasn't like they were the most hideous bunch. No, in fact most of them were very attractive. They were great people on the inside, too! Maybe it was because they were a little extreme? She thought of Gray's stripping habit, and Erza's undeniable anger problem. Mira was the sweetest woman Lucy had ever met, but had an uncanny ability to switch into a monster if someone angered her enough. And then there was Natsu…Lucy couldn't help but smile as she thought of Natsu. Yeah, it would take a miracle to find someone who could love such a ball of chaotic energy.
"So, you see why Master Makarov and I wish to hire you." Lucy still wasn't sold with Mira's plan, and slowly put the now empty glass on the bar.
"What do you mean by 'hire' me?"
"You told me that you dislike your job, yes? That you wanted to do something with people. The guild makes plenty of money to hire another staff member full time, and honestly I need an extra hand around here. I could use you at the bar when you're not working your magic. Since it's June, you don't have to worry about school for the next few months. At my request, Master is willing to match your pay at your current job. It's a win for everyone involved!" Lucy stared at Mira, whose smile showed how much confidence the older girl had in her. But Lucy wasn't sure she was convinced she could handle the task put in front of her.
"Ho-How do you even know people will want my help? I mean, Elfman and Evergreen didn't even know what I was saying about them."
"Here." Mirajane handed her a manila folder, Lucy opening it slowly to find several pages of information. Each page had a picture attached of someone in the guild. Some of them she knew personally, like her best friend Levy McGarden and Juvia Lockser. Others were mere acquaintances.
"What is all of this?" Lucy asked, flipping through the pages quickly. She stopped in shock when seeing Erza Scarlet's picture in front of her. What was going on?
"I put up a poster on the message board that night, asking for anyone who was interested in astrology matchmaking. If they were, I had them fill out some information about themselves, like their names and birthdays. I'm not sure what else you would need, so I used a dating website's application sheet to give you some help." Mira grabbed Lucy's free hand, holding it between hers. Lucy looked away from the folder and up to the calm face of Mirajane. "Lucy, over fifty people filled out the application in the first week."
"T-th-that's half the guild!" Lucy stuttered out, her face filled with shock.
"We didn't just make this decision for you. Master and I have our own reasons as well."
"Like what?" Despite Mira's beautiful face, Lucy couldn't help but notice the sadness in her distant stare. Like remembering something painful. Lucy didn't like to see Mira like this. It hurt her to the very core.
"So many of us carry weight that normal people would break under. Fairy Tail has always been a safe haven for those who have too much burden to make it on their own. We laugh and smile together, fight and play side by side. We celebrate holidays and birthdays, even make up our own traditions. Because we all have something inside of us that has marred our very souls. It's a burn that normal people outside of Fairy Tail can't understand; they can't accept. They look at us as fools or hoodlums that do nothing but drink and play. We are the rebel children. They don't know the scars we bare. They don't take the time to ask. Normal love would probably break in any of our hands, sadly. We're too rough around the edges to nourish simple relationships. But if we were to be able to find love inside of Fairy Tail…inside of each other, would that be so wrong?" Her eyes looked to the bar counter; her next sentence whispered more to herself than Lucy. "Is my dream really just too big of a fairy tale?"
"Mira…" Lucy whispered, watching the way the petite woman's hands clenched over her own heart.
"If you can't do it, I'll understand. Really, I shouldn't be asking so boldly." Her head lifted as she closed her eyes and smiled, Mira trying to hide her concern for the guild. But Lucy saw. Always so worried about others, Mira couldn't help but fear her dear friends would end up alone. And in turn, Lucy worried for Mira. Each person in Fairy Tail had their own demons to face, even the beautiful bar tender in front of her. Was it so wrong for Mira to have such a beautiful dream? Lucy wanted to scold herself for being so negative and shooting down the idea as quickly as she had.
Looking down at the applications, Lucy realized there were members of every kind. Young and old; male and female, and every shape and size imaginable. Lucy knew that humans, no matter who they were, shared one mutual fear. They were afraid of ending up alone. It was a fear she herself had been struggling with since she was young. It was probably why Fairy Tail was created. To solve the problem of being alone, Master Makarov built a place which always had open doors and arms. She looked around the tavern, the usual warmth growing in her heart at the familiar faces. This wasn't a job she could simply just walk away from if it got hard. These weren't just random strangers who came to her for help. Lucy was friends with the members of Fairy Tail. They were family.
"Would I…" Lucy hesitated, slowly looking back to Mira. "What if I can't do this? What if I fail you?"
"Whatever holds you back from using this talent, I hope you can push through it. If not for me, then for our friends," Mira replied, squeezing Lucy's hand within her own. "The only person who is stopping you is yourself." Lucy nodded slightly, knowing it was the truth. If she agreed to this, she could possibly use what her mother taught her to finally pay back the people she owed so much to. She doubted it would even come close to full retribution, but it was a hell of a lot more than she was doing now. And hey, if her dating advice didn't work, she could always just become a full time bartender! She had to thank Levy later for convincing her to get their bartending licenses together.
Taking a slow breath, Lucy nodded sharply and smiled to Mira.
"I won't know until I try. And Fairy Tail never backs away from a challenge, right?" The older girl squealed, yanking Lucy into a hug over the bar-top while she laughed. Lucy smiled too, hugging her back and closing her eyes. Even though she had made her friend happy, Lucy was still worried. What kind of damage would going down this path do? After the night with Mirajane and Erza, Lucy had gone home and tried to forget the entire situation. It wasn't easy for her, continuously wondering why she heard her mother's voice that night. Even as she got ready to go to bed, Lucy felt herself glancing to the bookshelf, which was filled with the astrology books long ago forgotten. Books given to her by her mother. Lucy had nightmares the following week, all including her mother and estranged father. It was making it hard to sleep, and she feared it would get worse now that she agreed to Mirajane's proposal. Still, it felt good to make the worry disappear on Mira's face.
"Yo! Lucy!" Lucy pulled back from Mira to look over her shoulder, though she already knew the voice shouting her name. She waved at the newcomer, watching his grin increase at her acknowledgment. It only took him a second to reach her, hopping up onto the barstool to her left. He took a glance at her empty glass, instantly freezing with frightened eyes. "Lucy's drinking?!"
"Calm down, Natsu. We were just having a talk that needed a celebratory drink, right Lucy?"
"It's not like I'm almost 23 now or anything," Lucy said, rolling her eyes. Sometimes Natsu treated her like a kid, even though she was only a year younger than him. Especially when it came to alcohol after her 21st birthday. Lucy had gotten a little drunk, and ended up demanding pampering from the hot head the entire night. From giving her a piggy back ride, to letting him feed her like a child, Natsu had gone through the torture while swearing to himself he would never let her get wasted again. The only reason he had even gone along with the antics was because any refusal caused her eyes to instantly water. And Natsu hated seeing girls cry. It was embarrassing to hear about later, and Lucy had attempted to stay far away from heavy drinking ever since. She'd save it for her wedding; the guy would be stuck to her for better or worse then. And even then, she knew Natsu would get dragged into taking care of her. Giggling at her own thought, Lucy flipped through the manila folder again. "When would Master like me to start this…uh….position?"
"Eh? Position?" Natsu, who was much too late in the conversation to understand, looked between the two girls in confusion. The simple thought of 'cute' came through Lucy's head, which made her sigh. If she didn't know the dragon that lurked within that tone body, Lucy could almost buy the boyish charm Natsu naturally had.
"Friday would be fine. I have a schedule set up for you, if you'd like to go over it tomorrow. Oh, and after you talk to your other job of course."
"I'm sure it'll be fine once I talk to my boss about quitting. Not like he'll even care…" Lucy muttered, missing the growing impatience of the guy next to her.
"But that's all the better for our plan, right? Come here Friday night; I needed an extra bartender for the night rush. Plus, you can scope out some of your clients in their natural habitat." Mira winked at her and Lucy smiled, unable to deny the slight excitement she was feeling in the bottom of her stomach.
"Okay, I guess I can do that. What time?"
"Come around eight, and we'll work you till close. This is going to be an experience you'll never forget!"
"What the hell is Lucy doing?!" Natsu was more than loud as he slammed his fists on the bar, eyes blazing. Lucy jumped while Mira simply smiled, expecting the blowout much earlier than that. Natsu was not known for his patience.
"No need to yell, Natsu." Mira's motherly scolding made Natsu glare away from her while crossing his arms.
"If you'd just tell me what she's doing, I wouldn't have to yell," He muttered, trying to hide his slight blush. Lucy patted Natsu on the back, trying to cheer up her best friend.
"I'm working for Fairy Tail now, as a request from Mira and the Master," Lucy said, Natsu blinking once before smiling.
"Really? Doing what?" Lucy hesitated to answer, not sure how Natsu would react. In the years she had known him, this was one of two secrets she had ever kept from him. The other was the fact that she was a Heartfillia. Mira looked to Lucy, silently asking for permission to continue with the conversation.
"She just said bartending, flame brain. I swear there's nothing but rocks between your ears." Lucy looked up at the newcomer, who Natsu scowled at.
"Hey Gray, haven't seen you in a while. Would you like a drink?" Mira's friendly greeting was overshadowed quickly by Natsu jumping to his feet, his forehead pressed against Gray's.
"You wanna go, ice princess? I'll wipe the floor with you right now!" Lucy sighed as she turned to face the two, wishing Erza would show up. Though she could try to break the boys up, the one who had the best luck was Erza. Mainly because the two guys, as well at most of the guild, were scared of her strength.
"Like the other hundred times you've threatened that? Isn't it getting a little old?" Gray flicked Natsu's nose casually, causing the shorter guy to stumble back with a curse. Gray snickered before moving to the bar, thanking the bartender for his drink while glancing to Lucy. "So you're going to be working here now? It will sure make this place more exciting."
"I hope not. Between you and Natsu, I have enough excitement in my life," Lucy said, laughing with the handsome man. In a different universe, Gray Fullbuster was the type of man her estranged father would have loved to see her end up with. He was smart, calm, and a gentleman with any woman Lucy had seen him date. Not to mention extremely attractive. If she had never crossed paths with him in Fairy Tail, she might have even guessed he was from a well off family as well. Though she loved her friends dearly in Fairy Tail, many of them lacked etiquette or any type of self-restraint. Gray was different, and held himself like he had been brought up in the same type of household as Lucy's.
But Lucy knew the unfortunate circumstances that surrounded Gray's childhood, and knew it was his caretaker Ur who had taught him his manners. From the stories Gray told Erza (Gray only speaking of Ur with Erza and Natsu), Ur was a very beautiful and intelligent woman, who sadly died in a car accident when Gray was a teenager. An accident she knew Gray still blamed himself for. Though the woman was gone, her memory lived in Gray's determination to follow the guidelines she gave him in life. He put himself through college in her honor, and graduated with top marks. Now working as an engineer, Gray continued to strive to be better for Ur. It was a quality of Gray's that Lucy admired.
"I don't try to cause you problems. That's all on Natsu." Gray nearly split over his drink when Natsu smacked the back of his head, grumbling while sitting on the opposite side of Lucy.
"I don't cause Lucy any problems! She loves hanging out with me, right Luce?" Lucy laughed when she felt Natsu's arm shrug around her shoulder, yanking her into his side.
"As long as it doesn't involve you climbing onto my balcony while I'm taking a shower."
"Hey! I've only done that, like, four times. And you should just expect it by now." Natsu's reasoning made no sense, and Lucy sighed heavily while Mira and Gray both laughed. They had been dealing with this type of logic for much longer than Lucy.
"But I gave you a key any everything. Why do you insist on climbing up my landlord's lattice?"
"Cause I feel like a ninja when I do it. And it's like, a secret mission climbing up into your apartment. Your landlord even played mission impossible music for me once." The demon landlord had always had a soft spot for her best friend, though Lucy was certain it was a crush. Being eighty and single would make any guy seem like prince charming.
"And yet she yells at me when you break her trellis," Lucy muttered, silently wondering if she should just move the guy in with her. It would probably bring her ridiculous rent down. Then again, Natsu already had his own house and she highly doubted he was going to move; even if he did spend most of his time playing video games in her apartment.
"So when you work here, do I get free food?" Natsu's question gained a rare glare from Mira, which Lucy knew affected Natsu by the tensing of his body. The murderous look was gone in an instant, and Mira reached out to ruffle Natsu's unruly hair.
"This isn't playtime for you, Natsu. Lucy has a lot of responsibilities with this new job. Try to be on your best behavior, okay? I would hate to have to personally throw you out on Lucy's first night working." Natsu nodded quickly, seeming to get the underlining meaning of Mira's statement.
"Y-Yes ma'm!" Natsu's fear seemed to disappear as he blinked, looking over to Lucy. "So you're going to be the bartender?"
"Well, mostly." She gave a modest smile to Natsu and Gray, who both looked at her in interest. Using the encouraging nod from Mira as motivation, Lucy pushed forward with her confession. "I'm also going to work as a…matchmaker for Fairy Tail."
"Eh? A matchmaker?" Natsu blinked at her confession, seeming confused even as Gray congratulated her.
"I'm sure many of the women in Fairy Tail will enjoy your talents." She giggled at his charming smile, happy to have another person supporting her.
"That's not even the best part! Lucy is able to guess your perfect match based on your birthday!" Mira was enthusiastic with her explanation, making Gray arch his eyebrow in curiosity.
"Really? How so?"
"It's not really that impressive. I learned some stuff about astrology when I was younger, and I can pick up on quirks that some people may miss out on."
"Could you show me an example?" Lucy hesitated at Gray's question, nervously sliding some hair behind her ear. Though she had done it a few weeks ago at the bar, it had been unintentional and less embarrassing. She knew there were only a few people watching her, but Lucy felt a bit overwhelmed by the sudden request. She was still trying to deal with the idea of delving into a part of her brain she had locked away years ago.
"Wait a second!" Lucy yelped when Natsu yanked Lucy back to him, her gaze now focused on his. "What the heck is astrology?"
"It's the belief that your personality is affected by your birthday," Lucy explained, trying to keep it easy for her simple-minded friend. His eyes widened at the information, and Lucy smiled at the childish look.
"That's great Lucy! It's like you have a magic power or something. And you're going to get paid to do that? When do you start?"
"She starts Friday, and if you want to see her skill you can wait until then. For now, Lucy needs to go home and get a good night's sleep. This place is really hectic on Fridays, and she'll need all the rest she can get. Natsu, will you walk Lucy home?"
"Sure, I want to see Happy anyways." He hopped off the stool, holding his hand out to Lucy. She took the offered hand, moving off her chair.
"Is your house still under repair?" Lucy waved goodbye to her two friends at the bar, letting Natsu lead her out of the bar. The city was still alive, despite the hours dragging into night. A cold wind blew by, making Lucy shiver and walk closer to Natsu.
"It should be done soon. Is Happy causing you problems?" She shook her head, liking how naturally warm Natsu was. It was like having her own personal furnace.
"It's actually sort of nice having him around. Keeps the apartment from feeling so lonely." Without even having to ask, Lucy felt his arm around her shoulder while he pulled her into his side. It wasn't awkward, since she knew he did it to keep her warm.
"Happy's getting pretty cozy living in your house." The statement was true, though Lucy didn't want to admit it. At first, the odd-colored cat had been a little hesitant to roam her apartment. But, after being there for a couple weeks, Happy was comfortable with exploring whatever room he pleased.
"You better be careful, or he may want to stay there." He snorted at her warning, but didn't comment. Lucy giggled and leaned closer to him, letting her tired shoulders relax under his arm.
"So this astrology thing," Natsu started, making Lucy look up at him. He seemed to be putting a lot of thought into the topic, since his eyebrows furrowed and his lower lip formed a straight line across his face. "You can just tell what sign someone is by their personality?"
"Well, part of it," Lucy explained, looking back to the cobblestone in front of her. It felt a little weird talking about her secret, but it wasn't as nerve-wracking as it had been in the guild. Having just Natsu here made it much easier for her to speak. "There's also body structures, language patterns, personal hobbies or ticks…lots of stuff goes into it, I guess."
"Well do you know what sign I am?" She nodded easily, waving to the men that sailed by her in the river.
"Since I know your birthday is April 17th, I know you're an Aries. But I had figured it out the first day I met you."
"It was the way you held yourself that kind of tipped me off first." She patted his stomach before pushing away from him once they came to the front of her apartment. She hopped up the steps, turning to him with a smile. "You're really lean, but you hold yourself like you're the size of Elfman. Aries tend to puff out or accentuate their chests, and they've got really big eyes. From what I saw you looked strong, and I just got the feeling you were powerful. Then when you started to talk, I knew for sure that you were a fire element."
"Fire…element?" Knowing he was going to come in regardless of Mira's request for Lucy to sleep, Lucy unlocked her front door and moved up another flight of stairs.
"There are four different types of signs. Fire, water, earth, and air. Each element has a main characteristic that the three signs under it have in common. Water signs have emotion, earth stability, air is thought, and fire elements have physicality. I'm a Cancer, so my element is water. And yours is fire."
"That's awesome!" She shushed him before opening her apartment door, ushering the energetic guy inside before locking it. He wasted no time jumping on her bed, making her roll her eyes before moving toward her dresser. She grabbed a change of clothes, hearing him speak while she closed the door of her bathroom. "Okay, so I'm an Aries. Say you were going to match me. What does my sign have to do with that?"
"Well, it means that there are some signs that you're supposed to do really well with, and others who you aren't as compatible," She explained, tugging her pajamas on. "I'll be using that information to pair up the people I feel are best fitted for each other in Fairy Tail. There are some other factors that I'll use, but I don't want to confuse you with the specifics."
"Oh." She slowly opened her bathroom door back up, sighing and leaning in the doorway at the scene in front of her. Happy was curled onto his lap, Natsu leaning against her pillows while he pet his cat and grinned. The purring was so loud, Lucy could hear it from where she stood. As if sensing her watching him, Natsu looked up at Lucy. "So who do I go best with?"
"If I remember correctly, you tend to do really well with Sagittarius and Leos. You're pretty good with Gemini and Aquarius too." He frowned at her information, letting Happy lick his hand while he was distracted.
"But you're a Cancer, right?"
"Yeah, I am. Why?" She moved over to sit across from him on the bed, watching him rub behind Happy's ears absentmindedly. The cat didn't seem to mind, simply enjoying the contact.
"So then why didn't you say Cancer?"
"Well because my best signs are supposed to be Scorpio and Pisces." He wrinkled his nose at that, shaking his head.
"That can't be right."
"The Cancer-Aries pairing is kind of controversial with astrologists everywhere. Some say we're good, some say we're bad, but nobody says we're the best. I'm supposed to be too emotional for you and you burn me out too much."
"I'm telling you that it's wrong!" She paused at his adamant attitude, wondering why he was fighting her information. He almost looked like his was pouting when he glanced down at Happy. "We're best friends. We've been best friends for years! Doesn't that mean we're compatible?"
"So that's why you're so upset? You think my astrology will hinder our friendship?" She laughed when he nodded, leaning forward to ruffle his hair. "Even if you are a little energetic, that's what I like about you. And you've never turned away from me when I've been upset. Some astrologists can say we're a bad combo, but I think we're pretty in tune with each other. That's why I tend to lean towards us being compatible. Like I said before, there's tons of things that play into astrology besides the simple sign. There are sub-rulers and different moon phases, things that will make your head spin. It's a lot to explain in one night."
"If it's all so extensive, how do you remember it all?" She paused her hand's movement, her heart cringing at the innocent question. He noticed her pause, Natsu pushing her hand off his head to fully look at her. Happy, as if sensing the serious moment, moved off of Natsu's lap to curl up on the corner of the bed. It gave Natsu his mobility back, and he used it to yank Lucy to his side. She didn't struggle, caught up in her own thoughts. She finally came to when she felt Natsu's forehead press to her temple. "You okay Luce?"
"Yeah, I uh…" She swallowed, looking down to her lap for some sort of comfort. This was the first time she had ever talked to anyone in Fairy Tail about her past life. It seemed only suitable it was Natsu who discovered her skeletons first. Feeling tears well up in the back of her throat, Lucy tried to stay strong while she spoke. "I learned it from my mom when I was younger."
"Is that where you got all the books from?" She nodded, glancing to the bookshelf in question.
"She used to read me astrology books all day, and teach me about the stars at night. She'd sometimes take me into town and have me read people that walked by to test my skill. It was like a game that only we shared. For years we studied together, and all of it became second nature to me. Like I had known it my entire life. She used to say I had a gift like nobody else. I really did love the zodiac. But then she…she died, and I haven't tried to use my ability since. Not until now, at least."
"I'm…I'm sorry, Lucy." He paused and then nudged her cheek. "What was her name?"
"Layla," she whispered, the word seeming foreign after so many years. Could she even remember the last time she heard her mother's name spoken?
"So it's settled then." Not sure what Natsu was talking about, Lucy pulled back to capture his gaze. The toothy smile he sent her didn't seem to fit her somber mood. "Starting tomorrow, I'll help you start Operation Layla."
"Yeah! I mean, she spent all of this time teaching you and showing you about this astrology stuff. She must have wanted you to use it when you grew up. And she said you had a knack for it, right? Maybe she knew you'd need it in the future or something. Even if she didn't, wouldn't this be the best way to honor your mom's life? By doing the thing you two loved the most?"
"You mean like a tribute to her?" She watched him nod vicariously, making Lucy smile at his enthusiasm.
"If she was anything like you, I'm sure she would like that!" She looked at him, his optimistic view on the situation chasing her earlier sorrows away. For the first time in over a decade, Lucy didn't feel so sad thinking about her mother. The pain was still there, but it seemed much more contained. Natsu's positive view on Mira's proposal made her feel an ease she hadn't felt since she agreed to the job. Trying to put on a brave face, Lucy smiled and nodded her head.
"I guess that means I have no choice but to succeed then."
"Alright! Operation Layla is all fired up!" It warmed her to hear her mother's name said with such hope. The only people who had ever said her name after she passed were her father and her maids. Nobody would ever bring their voices above a whisper when saying it, and never once had they used a happy tone around Lucy. But here, Natsu wasn't hiding her mother's existence. He was helping her celebrate it. Her smile widened with his own chuckle, and the two of them high fived while Happy jumped onto Natsu's shoulder and meowed. They both looked at the cat while continuing to laugh, Lucy forgetting her earlier trepidations. She'd use this opportunity to finally say goodbye to her mother in a way that would make her proud.
"Well, now that that's dealt with…" She blinked when she felt her sheets moving under her, and her good mood was wiped away.
"Eh? What do you think you're doing? Get out of my bed!" He whined when she hit him with her pillow, burying his face into the one under his head.
"I'm too tired to go home, and it's already close to midnight."
"That's your own fault for staying so late! I need to get some sleep for tomorrow, and you hogging the bed isn't going to help with that." He waved her off and snuggled into the covers, his scarf fanning out behind him. She was tempted to yank on the fabric and choke him, but she refrained from acting so childish.
"You've got a big enough bed for the two of us, and I've slept here tons of times before. Why you even argue with me now seems kind of weird, Lucy." She was the weird one? Natsu had a whole house to himself and yet somehow always managed to end up sleeping at her cramped apartment. While it was true her bed was big enough for the both of them, she still thought of the situation as weird. How many adults slept together without actually sleeping together? He peeked his eye open at the girl glaring at him, rolling his eyes. "If you let me stay tonight, I'll take you out to breakfast tomorrow."
"You mean a real breakfast? Not the leftovers from Fairy Tail, right?" He scowled at her raised eyebrow, yanking on her arm to get her to lay on the bed.
"Whatever you want, I'll buy. So just shut up and go to sleep already." Though Lucy tried not to seem excited about her reward, she could feel her mouth salivating at the idea of breakfast in the morning. Sighing dreamily as she snuck under the covers, Lucy glanced to Natsu while he reached over to shut the lights off. Somehow, it almost made it feel like it was his apartment she was barging in on. A long string of silence passed between the two of them, Lucy staring up at the ceiling in thought. Natsu had curled into a ball on his side of the bed, the only thing touching her being his worn out scarf. Without realizing it, Lucy had twined her fingers in the rough fabric. The old scarf smelt like firewood, a commen scent on Natsu. As long as she could remember, Natsu had always smelt that way. She silently giggled, realizing that being a fire sign made more sense than she thought.
"Hey, Natsu?" Lucy spoke, her voice quiet in the night.
"What's up?" His groggy tone showed he was already close to passing out on her. She turned to face his back, keeping the scarf in her hands. Even though they didn't touch, Lucy could still feel the warmth radiating off of her best friend.
"Why do you like sleeping in my bed so much?" She didn't know why she was so awake, but the question had bothered her on many nights before this. Any time that Natsu argued to sleep in her bed, the question would pop into her mind. Figuring this was as good of a night as any to get an answer from him, Lucy waited for the half-asleep boy to respond.
"Not really sure. Happy's here, which makes it feel lonely at my house. And I think Happy likes it when the three of us are together. So why change things from how they are now?" She wanted to argue that it was an invasion of her privacy, and that Happy was Natsu's responsibility to take care off. But she stopped when he shifted closer to his pillow, Natsu's words sliding through the air effortlessly. "Plus, it's just easier to be relaxed around you than when I'm alone. Since your bed is covered in your scent, it makes it pretty easy to fall asleep."
"My scent?" She whispered, slightly surprised at his answer.
"You've always smelt nice to me," He mumbled drowsily, not seeming to care about the compliment he gave her. She wasn't sure why she felt embarrassed. Maybe because it was rare for Natsu to say something so sweet? She knew he had fallen asleep by his light snoring, Lucy leaning up on the bed to look at him. His cheeks were flushed from his exhaustion, and his lips twitched in his sleep. Despite feeling somewhat flustered from his comment, Lucy smiled at the cute image he made. She laid back down, snuggling slightly into the warm back presented to her. Natsu really wasn't so bad, once you got used to him. And Happy did seem much…"happier" when the three of them were together like this.
I guess I could share my apartment just a little longer with them…Keeping the scarf clasped tightly in her hands, Lucy finally fell asleep to the acceptable thought.
And that's the end of the first chapter! I hope that you enjoyed it. I would love to hear your feedback, since I'm really nervous about this story. So, how will Lucy fair as the Fairy Tail astrologist? Who will be her first client? Will Evergreen and Elfman show any progress? And can you guess any of the other member's signs? Give it a shot!
Chapter Two: The First Time we Met