Hey there :) I'm taking a break from my other stories to create a short collection of drabbles on both NatsuxLucy and GrayxLucy in this. Please keep sending me prompts through PMs or reviews to help me keep posting more, because I sure need some :D Anyway, hope you guys like it.

Love from India- CelestialLoverxxx


Begin Again

Light snow fell against the glittering lights of the town of Magnolia and the chilly air carried the sound of violins and the smell of fresh bread that wafted its way through the streets.

A flushed with cold blonde girl, a heavy coat draped around her slim, lithe body, hurried across West Avenue. Lucy Heartfilia's brown doe eyes were cast down at the street and her collars turned up at the cold, but there was a faint excited colour on her cheeks as she turned a corner and looked up at the familiar wooden door.

The lights were on—she could see the faint glow against the drawn curtains, and even as she raised her knuckles to knock, the door swung open. A barefooted Natsu Dragneel stood there.

Lucy smiled a bit, seeing him. "Hey there," she said. "Were you spying on me through the window?"

Expecting a teasing comeback, Lucy's smile faltered when Natsu looked down at his bare feet and said in a hollow tone, "I'll go put some shoes on, Luce."

Lucy shrugged. As he disappeared inside, she bit her lip and looked down. When Natsu asked to her to come over for a while, she had been more than excited. A little too excited.

But no one could really blame her. Natsu hadn't been very comfortable around her for the last few weeks, and she'd noticed how distant he had seemed. She talked to her best friend, Mirajane, but she said it happened to people in relationships sometimes; they just needed some space for a while to work things out and it would be okay.

So Lucy with good grace hadn't bothered Natsu too much and now after three days of not even a text from him, when he called her over, she felt relieved. Now…not so much.

Snapping her out of her reverie, Natsu reappeared; he swung the door shut behind him and came down the steps. "Hey," he said.

Lucy cocked an eyebrow. "'Hey'?" she said finally. "Well okay, hey to you too. Where are we going?"

"Uh…nowhere in particular."

Letting her shoulders fall in a dismissive whatever you say shrug again, Lucy began to walk beside him. He shoved his hands in his pockets as they walked, staring off into the distance. The blonde copied his actions, digging her cold fingers into the warmth of the coat she was wearing—Natsu's coat.

The grey cobblestones of the pavement glistened with the falling snow; twilight was fading into increasing darkness and the streets were bustling with people.

"So…is there anything you wanted to talk to me about?" Lucy asked at last. "I mean…you've been a bit…preoccupied lately…" Great. Just what she wasn't supposed to be doing. Mira would kill her.

Natsu's onyx eyes flitted to her, the jacket, and then back to the road. "Yeah…um…there is something, I guess."

"Yeah?"
Natsu stopped walking. "Look, Lucy," he started hesitantly. Lucy had a feeling she knew what was going to happen in a few seconds, but she tried so hard to suppress that feeling, that she almost felt as if her worry was useless. Natsu did love her.

He did, right?

"…I know it's a bad time for you," Natsu continued. Lucy frowned and then realization dawned on her as she remembered. She had recently been fired from work all because of something that went terribly wrong by a small careless mistake; she was a loyal worker, but there had a been a great deal of damage to the business because of it and no personal connections could have stopped her from getting fired. She knew, in the dark corners of her heart, she had deserved it.

"I'll manage that," Lucy said. "Wait…did you find a place open at the café? Will they hire me? Did you talk to—"

"No, Lucy," Natsu cut in. He sounded frustrated. "That's not what I need to talk to you about."

"Then what it is? You can tell me anything you want to, you know."

Natsu bit his lip. "Yes," he said softly. "I do know that."

"Well?" she prompted after a pause.

"Lucy, I don't think we should see each other anymore."

So that's what he meant by 'I know it's a bad time for you'. He wanted to add his little 'bad things' to the list. "What?"

He looked her in the eyes at last, onyx to brown. "I don't think I'm…in love with you anymore," his voice dropped to a guilty whisper. "I…fell in love with someone, Lucy. I'm so sorry…I didn't know how to tell you—"

"Who is it?"

Natsu froze. "What?"

Her throat felt tight and it was difficult for Lucy to repeat properly. "Who is it? The one you fell in love with?"

Looking stunned, Natsu said, "Why do you want to know…?"

Letting out a mirthless, abruptly cut off laugh, Lucy shifted her gaze away from him. "It's Lisanna, isn't it?"

"No."

She stopped short. "Then…?"

"Lucy, please. I didn't mean for it to happen, Lucy, just please. I don't know how, maybe it was because I didn't feel the same way about you anymore or maybe because—" Natsu broke off, looking agonized. "—Maybe," he said quietly. "I never felt that way about you. And I swear I didn't know it until…until I fell in love with her." Looking pained, he said in a choked whisper. "With Mirajane."

Everything—shock, anger, sadness, frustration—drained away into a bottomless pit within Lucy, leaving her hollow. Mira had no idea—she wouldn't blame her best friend, she knew Mira had no idea about this. But Natsu…

As he reached for her, Lucy pulled away. He was in love with her best friend. Not her. Not ever, perhaps.

The hollowness within her remained as she reached up and shrugged his coat off gently, baring her thin dress inside.

She wasn't angry. Not even at Natsu. Just a tiny part of her broke as the reality of what was happening and his words struck her like a tiny spear.

Bundling up the coat, she gave it to a frozen Natsu. He stared at it blankly. "Lucy, I—"

"It's yours," Lucy said numbly. "Keep it."

"Lucy—Lucy wait! Lucy—"

But she was already walking away, fast, her boots making it hard for her to just run away from his street.

She wasn't sure when and how, but her tears had finally broken through her careful barrier and now she couldn't stop them. Twin streams of tears stained her cheeks and she ignored the stares she received from around her.

Lucy wasn't aware of when she reached her house, but she did. As she moved forward, blurred eyes cast down and shoulders hunched, she suddenly collided with someone and staggered back in confusion.

Blinking away the tears, she stared up in bewilderment at Gray Fullbuster. He was standing in front of her house near the familiar lamp-post, staring at her door. His dark blue eyes slid to her and then focused properly on her face.

Shock played across his pale features. "Lucy?!"

Gray. In their group of the Strauss sisters Mirajane and Lisanna, Levy, Natsu and Gajeel, Gray was the quietest and one of the closest to Lucy. He had certain charm to him, Lucy had noticed, and he had generously kept her company whenever Natsu bailed on her. Sometimes, she even felt like she used him, but he was always there anyway, smiling and uncomplaining and she loved him a friend for that. But seeing him there…

Not even knowing why, Lucy suddenly took a step forward and put her arms around the taller boy, burying her tearstained face in his chest. Her fingers fisted into his jacket as she let out an unwanted sob against him, holding him close.

Gray looked at her in surprise and concern for a moment, and then his arms came down around her, holding her there tightly, keeping her close and warm.

"Lucy," he touched her hair hesitantly. "Lucy, what's wrong? Are you hurt?"

Slowly and grudgingly, Lucy pulled away and looked up at him. "Not in a way you'd know."

"Oh, you could try me," Gray muttered, but then he reached forward for her. "Is everything okay? Did someone do something…?"

"Natsu broke up with me," Lucy let the words out, and as she did, she knew that wasn't why she had finally started to cry. She hadn't when she lost her job, hadn't been petty when Natsu stopped talking to her, hadn't even let her tears fall in front of Natsu when he said he was in love with no one but Mira. It seemed as if everything she had held back was just coming out now. And she couldn't understand why she needed Gray for comfort, but she did. Because he was always there.

"Oh." A number of emotions flitted across her friend's face before it melted into concern. "Do you want to me to stay with you?"

Lucy nodded, slowly, feeling guilty for needing him. Why would she need him?

"Damn it Lucy," Gray said, and she looked up in surprise. "Aren't you cold?"

She looked down at her frozen fingers and realized, yes, she was. But instead of saying how embracing him had made her warm, she let him take his jacket off and wrap it swiftly around her shoulders. "Idiot," he chided.

Lucy couldn't bring herself to smile but as she drew in her shoulders, she inhaled in the faint smell of mint and fresh laundry of Gray's coat.

"Let's get inside," Gray offered, and she mutely handed him the keys

Once inside the warm house—Lucy had forgotten to turn off the heater before she left—Lucy caught a glance of herself in the mirror by the key hold; she looked like a mess, she realized. Her hair was mussed from attacking Gray and snowflakes crusted the blonde locks. Her flushed, tear-tracked cheeks and red nose just made everything worse.

She curled up on the sofa Gray dragged her to, and hunching into the jacket tried to stop her tears. But everything seemed to be crumbling around her, and it was only Gray's arms which held her tightly again and shushed her that kept her from falling apart.

"It wasn't—"She tried to speak clearly and without being cut off by sudden sobs. What in the world was happening to her? "Wasn't supposed to work out like this. Not my job and not…"

Gray rested his chin on her hair, closing his eyes. The living room he had pulled her into—which was as familiar to him as his own home, just like the rest of Lucy's ever-since-childhood-together friends—was dim; only the light by the counter was on, which it always was.

"Not Natsu too," Lucy finished. Her fingers wanted to curl into Gray's clothes and hold him there too—he felt like tape to broken shards of a vase to her at that moment—but she stopped. She already was bewildered as to her sudden breakdown, and didn't want to ruin his shirt too.

But then, everyone breaks down sometimes. Everyone needs a release. So she just pressed her damp face against his chest, breathing hard, eyes shut as she inhaled the smell of his cologne and her tears.

Gray ran his fingers softly through her hair, murmuring softly, "It's okay, Lucy. It's okay if—"

"No." Lucy slowly pulled away from him, shivering a bit despite the heater. "No it's not okay. And I'm sorry for dragging you along Gray, I just needed—"

"Needed a friend," Gray finished her sentence simply, his lips quirking up at the corners a little. His eyes were clouded with emotion, but she didn't notice. "And you don't have to apologize. I'm here for you, we all are, you know that Lucy."

Lucy nodded a bit. She had caught the vainly suppressed hitch his voice went into when he said we all are. As if, he didn't quite belong there right now.

"Thanks," she said quietly. "And I…I can't talk to Mira right now. So, thanks for being here with me."

Her eyes were fixated at the strand of cotton she was tugging at from a cushion, and Gray's slender, pale fingers crossed over her hands and she looked up. "Wouldn't you prefer Mira to be here?"

Lucy let out a small smile. A sad one. "No," she said. "That would be a huge irony."

"Irony as in…?"

"As in," Her brown eyes flashed to his confused blue ones. "Mirajane's the one Natsu's been in love with all along. And as much as I love her, I don't think I can stay with her right now. She can't give me the comfort or friendship I need right now."

His grip on her hand tightened, and Gray let out a hiss, his eyes fierce. "That bastard," he exhaled. Then he took a deep breath and looked at Lucy. "I can't believe he did this to you."

Looping her hands around her knees, Lucy brought them up to her chest. Her left hand remained in Gray's. "I guess it just happens anyway, you know."

"What does?"

"Love."

Gray looked for a moment as if to ask her why she was defending him, but then he averted his eyes and looked at the dimly lit wooden floor. "Yeah. I guess it does."

They were silent for a moment, Gray's fingers rubbing soothing circles on the back of Lucy's palm. His hand was warm despite the cold outside; and even though Lucy had caught herself in an embrace with Gray, her fingers were still freezing.

She reached out hesitantly and unfolded her friend's hand, wrapping it over both of hers. Her hands were tiny compared to his long ones.

"There," she sighed. "That's much warmer."

The raven-haired man leaned back a little. "You were right when you said it isn't you okay, you know Lucy," he said.

"What do you mean?"

"Well," His lips lifted in the imperfect, teasing smile that lit up Gray's normally nonchalant face. "You do look like quite a mess. Mascara all over the face and all that. That's not okay right?"

At that, Lucy's amused astonishment made her laugh a little. And then a bit more. And then a little bit more. Soon she was laughing like she usually did, which was what made Lucy the bubbly, charming girl she was.

As she laughed, Gray's unoccupied hand came up to brush away the tears from her face and caught the traitor tears at her lashes. "There," he said. "That's the messed up Lucy everyone knows."

The blonde's laughter subsided and she looked up at Gray, a faint trace of her mirth in her soft smile. He had made her laugh when she felt like she wouldn't smile for ages. Why is it only he could do that all the time?

Her mind went back to the rainy day she'd fallen sick. Her friends had promised to come over in the evening from work to cheer her up, but she had thought the whole of the rainy grey morning she would be alone. She had tried calling Natsu, but he never picked up.

So when a wet Gray barged right into her house, she was more than shocked. She remembered him rolling his eyes at her when she protested he didn't need to fuss over her. And then he spent the rest of the afternoon sitting next to her on her bed, booted feet up carelessly, just talking and keeping her company. Nothing much, but everything to her that day.

Another memory tugged at Lucy—a fairly recent one; Gray's briefly furious look directed at Natsu when he snapped and said a few harsh words to Lucy. It had been at the club, when all of them had been out after a long, long time, and Lucy had been asking Natsu to have some fun, kept asking him why he was so distant. She was reminded of how Gray had made as if to give him a piece of his mind, when Erza came along and settled matters—it had ended in Natsu with a black eye, and Lucy had laughingly dismissed the incident from her mind.

"Thanks," she said again.

Gray, who was playing absentmindedly with her fingers, snapped out of a reverie of his own. "I get it I'm irresistibly charming and all," he said, smirking. "But why am I being thanked now?"

"For making me laugh. And for sticking around."

In the dimness, Gray's brilliant white teeth flashed as he smiled. "I could stick around a bit more if you want."

"Because you're that friend who sticks around?" Lucy asked casually, knowing that he would understand the thinly veiled undercurrent to her words.

Sure enough, his smile faded and his dark eyes pulled together in a frown. "Tell me," she said, then corrected herself; "Explain to me. How is it that you're always there, Gray? How is it that every time I don't know what I need myself, you do?"

He was silent for a moment, looking down at his jeans. Then: "I think you figured that out all by yourself, Luce."

Feeling strange inside, she looked down as well. Her hands were still trapped in one of his. In fact, her fingers were far too warm now, but she didn't want to be rude and pull away. "Not just a friend, heh."

"Maybe not."

"Maybe it's okay."

His eyes flashed up to hers and held her gaze in shock. Lucy felt the pit of her stomach heat up…

Maybe I never felt that way about you, Natsu had said to her.

And perhaps, Lucy thought with sudden calm. Perhaps she had never felt that way about him either. Perhaps she had never realized how she really felt at all.

"Lucy…" Gray breathed. Then he took a deep breath. "…are you feeling alright now?"

Surprised at the turn in conversation, and knowing she wouldn't be alright once he left, she lied, "Yes."

He sighed as he ran his fingers over hers before pulling away and sitting up properly on the couch, facing away. "I should probably go then." He looked at her, and Lucy caught her breath at the many emotions clouding his face—worry, love, exasperation. "Unless…you want me to stay a bit longer?"

I want you to, but you know I can't ask you to. Not tonight. "No," Lucy said, her voice a bit hoarse until she cleared it and spoke again, "No, I'll be okay. You should get back before it starts to snow again."

"It already is," Gray glanced at the window, and then swiftly got to his feet. Lucy scrambled up too, already despairing that he was leaving, but it was her own fault for bringing up uncomfortable topics and making him leave.

She shed the jacket and handed it to him, feeling cold again as she walked him to the door.

As the door opened, Gray turned back and with a sudden determination said, "If it was okay," He searched her face for the recognition of their earlier conversation. "If it really was…and I know this isn't the time to discuss it…but would there ever be any chance?"

Lucy didn't know, in all honestly. She felt surprised at how she never realized it was Gray who had been there all along, not Natsu, and confused at the way she felt, and the crushing weight on her chest was back. "Yes," she said slowly. "Because you don't fall in love with the friend that sticks around, do you?"

A hint of a smile lit up Gray's face. "No," he whispered. "You don't. Unless it's a messed up person."

"Guess we're all messed up somehow or the other," Lucy said, but as she looked at him, she knew it was hope of a new beginning.

Unexpectedly, Gray leaned in to tentatively brush his lips against her cheek. Just a light butterfly kiss, a feathery touch, moving to the corner of her lips as her heart sped up, and then he leaned away.

"Bye, Luce." He smiled as he walked down her steps into the cold, shoving his hands into his pockets.

"Bye."

Shutting the door, Lucy leaned against it. She closed her eyes—she still had a million problems. And yet, as she glanced at her warmed hands, they didn't seem to matter anymore. It wasn't a lot, but it was a start.

A start of something which would burn brighter. The little brush of lips promised that.


Sorry for any unintentional mistakes, I didn't have time to proofread. I'll post the next one by next week, almost done with it. Next up, Nalu.