Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with Fairy Tail. This is purely a fan-made work, with no intention of profit.

Hello hello! This is sort of a rough draft I have. I've been working on it for ages but can't quite iron out all the wrinkles. So I'd really appreciate any feedback you might have!

Levy McGarden barely stirred when the end-of-school bell rang out. She had her button nose between a book, completely engrossed. The rush of students hurrying to escape the school didn't even touch her awareness until a passing classmate accidentally knocked the novel from her hands.

"Oh, sorry, Levy!" Lucy cried, bending down to retrieve the fallen book.

The smaller girl smiled up at her beautiful friend. "It's no problem, Lu-chan."

"What are you doing after school today?" Even as she finished the question, Lucy turned her eyes towards the door. Natsu was already by it, obviously waiting for his blonde companion. Lucy answered his grin with a raised finger- hold on.

"Probably the library. What are you doing? Do you have a…. date?" Levy's voice turned teasing at the end. She smiled slyly, then winked at her friend's blush. "Go have fun. I've got studying to do."

Lucy only put up a brief show of reluctance before practically skipping to the door to grab Natsu's arm. They waved, and Levy waved back.

Finally, she bent to gather up her things.

This late in the year, the sky was already darkening. Part of her said that she should just go home now, so she wouldn't have to brave the dark streets later. But the larger part of her couldn't stand the idea of going back to that place. Not yet. Just a few more hours…

The blue-haired girl went to the library so often that she didn't even have to concentrate; her feet knew their own way. Already, the hallways were almost silent. Oh, yeah. It's Friday. No wonder everyone was in such a big rush to get home, Levy thought.

To her surprise, the library wasn't deserted when she let herself in. FTH was a small school, catering to a slightly odd variety of students, and Levy was usually the only one who roamed around the stacks. Today, though, another student sat hulking at one of the study tables, a professor standing over him.

Well, not so much over him as by him. Makarov, for all his many talents, was not particularly gifted in the height department.

"… There's nothing to be done. I couldn't find a teacher able to stay at such short notice. You just stay here; I'll ask the librarian to check in on you before she goes. I'm sure that by now you know how to write up your report, yes?"

Gajeel didn't say anything, only staring at the old man with an unreadable expression. Makarov heaved a sigh, and then turned.

"Oh, Levy! How nice to see you. Doing some more reading?" Makarov laughed as if he'd told a hilariously witty joke.

"Yes, sir."

"Well, don't let this one bother you. Have a good weekend, you two!"

Levy nodded her assent and Gajeel mumbled something or another, and Makarov made his exit. The air turned tense. Levy looked timidly at the much larger boy, who stared back at her with a challenge in his eyes.

"What, do you have detention too?"

"M-me?!" Levy's voice was a squeak. "No! I'm just here to read."

"Ha. On a Friday afternoon. What's wrong, shrimp, you don't have any friends to keep you company?"

"That's not it…," Levy didn't know what to say. She did have friends: Jet and Droy and Lu-chan… she just didn't want them to see her right now. They'd ask questions. And then, worse, they'd want answers.

Turning away from Gajeel, Levy headed for the little alcove that was home to her favorite window seat and pulled out her book. Time to escape for a while.

For half an hour there was silence except for the steady ticking of the clock. At 4:30, the librarian stepped out of her office, surveyed the scene, and retreated. At some point the soft scritching sound of pen on paper filtered into Levy's consciousness. Looking up, Levi saw that Gajeel had some homework in front of him. To her surprise, there was a frown of concentration on his face. It was the first time she'd seen such a non-hostile expression.

Levy was interrupted from her reading a second time when the door banged open. Laxus, grandson of the school's headmaster, sauntered in. His blond hair was held up in spikes by gel, and he wore his trademark grin.

Striding over to the small bookworm, Laxus placed an arm on the wall above her head and looked down at her with a smirk on his face. "Why are you always here so late? It's not like this place has anything special."

"Leave me alone," Levy said calmly.

"Come on, don't be so rude."

"I'm reading."

"Yeah, I can see. You're reading some dumb book, so what? Listen, I've got a test coming up that's gonna be a real bitch if I don't hit the books… and you're better than hitting the books than anyone. You wanna help me out?" It was a totally innocent question, but something about the way Laxus spoke the words made them seem just a little bit… dirty.

"Sorry, no."

Laxus bent down further, getting into the Levy's face. "Come on," he said, "we could have some… fun." His free hand fell on Levv's shoulder, and she shuddered.

And then Laxus was no longer in front of her. Instead he was stumbling backwards and all she could see was Gajeel's broad back.

"She's not interested. Go bother someone else."

Laxus stepped forward, his face contorting into a snarl, but Levy moved before either of the boys could. All she was thinking was Gajeel CANNOT get into a fight while he's already in a detention!

And that's why she threw the book at Laxus.

Of course, it didn't do much damage. The novel wasn't even hardcover, and Levy wasn't much for upper body strength. Still, it hit Laxus just above the eye. He'd have a bruise.

"Screw you, bitch." Laxus said, and strode out.

As soon as the blond had exited, Gajeel burst into laughter, tossing his head back so that the noise echoed around the room.

"Ha! You have guts, shrimp!"

Levy blushed. "He's always annoying me. He deserved it." Of course, that just caused Gajeel to laugh even harder.

It was companionable after that, the two of them working in silence. Levy retrieved her poor book from the floor and flipped through the pages at her usual fast pace, while Gajeel wrote his usual essay on why he didn't deserve detention because the punk had it coming.

Levy finished her book 15 minutes before the library closed, and quietly placed it in the "returns" basket. She'd need another book for the weekend. Something quite large, hopefully. Levy considered her options, then headed for the nonfiction section- alchemy. Hopefully that would be dense enough to distract her for the two days she'd have to spend at home.

"What the hell you need that brick for?" Gajeel's voice cut into Levy's thoughts.

"I just like reading, that's all. You should try it sometime, you might learn a thing or two."

"Nah, I think you do enough reading for the both of us."

Luckily, Levy chose to laugh at that. As her giggles dropped off, the period bell started up. Both of the two looked up at the clock, surprised to see how late it had gotten.

"Library's closing. I guess my detention is over," the boy said with a grin. He stretched his arms out in front of him and interlaced his fingers, pulling his shoulders bag with a grunt.

"Oh… yeah." Levy walked to her bag in silence, fingering the orange strap thoughtfully. Today had been almost pleasant, despite the measurable awkwardness.

"Your folks coming to pick you up, or what?" Gajeel asked, startling Levy.

"Oh, no. I'm just gonna walk home. It's not that far, really."

"What, in the dark? Are you stupid or something?" Gajeel's face had a slight mask of incredulity. Even after Levy shook her head, he continued. "I'll walk you."

"You don't have to!" It was almost a shout. Levy surprised herself, even, with the strength of her denial.

"Yeah, I know I don't have to." Gajeel said with a shrug. Levy looked up, questioning. It was a simple enough sentence, but she couldn't help but suspect the ghost of something behind it. "Let's go."

On the walk home they talked more. Levy realized how wrong she'd been to assume Gajeel was just a delinquent. He was a metalworker; he spoke at length about his interest in engineering. Gajeel realized that just because she was a quiet pipsqueak, Levy wasn't dull. She was clever, not just smart. And as he'd seen earlier, she had some spirit in her.

Dropping her off at her door, Gajeel leant over Levy. There weren't any words in his mouth that seemed to fit the situation. So he resorted to the physical, a realm he was far more comfortable with. Levy shivered as Gajeel's hand neared her face. For some reason, she couldn't stop staring at his lips

His hand came down on the top of her head, mussing her hair. Levy breathed out, not sure if she was shocked or… disappointed?

"See you Monday, shrimp," said Gajeel with a grin. She watched his retreating back from the window until he'd disappeared into the dark.

And then she smiled.