Guess who's back with a new chapter! AND, this is a pretty important chapter. Regarding Gray at least, and I just finished this up at 1 AM here, and I'm too tired to proofread it. So I'm really sorry for any mistakes I might've made!

Apologies for not having thanked the reviewers, followers and favouriters last chapter. Here they are, along with the newbies. Thanks so much to natsuaki, khybrd90, jennifersalazar, grayluki, dolphintale204, andreww428, Tanensei no hono, Silveny, Rekunae, Prick 'n Improper, Lolz2338, KnowledeSeer (massive thank you for adding my story :)), Kkatielou, Kasuyorai, JaDeCiTa609, Jwnipeo, Ehhghhmmmm, Erika Elencia, and tinygrande.

Happy reading. :)


"It's freezing."

I shoved my hands in my pockets, raising an eyebrow. "It's July."

Lucy shot me a dark look. "I know you're a ghost," she said. "But I'm sure you can feel the drizzle?"

I was genuinely surprised to look around and realize it actually was raining. It must've been cold, considering it was four in the morning, but obviously I couldn't feel any other temperature except cold. I never understood the weather in this town.

But I'd been far too distracted to notice. The tension between the girl next to me and I was almost tangible. Lucy was carefully walking with her body angled away from mine, awkwardly trying to follow my lead and stay away at the same time. It was kind of hurtful, but I didn't dare say a word.

She had her eyes averted, her hands also buried inside her jeans pockets. Those were the only two words she'd said to me in the last few minutes that we'd been walking across the rainy streets of Magnolia to the town cemetery.

Everything was eerily quiet. There weren't even ghosts out tonight. It was as if silence too was keeping shut until Lucy spoke.

I looked up through the thin mist at the dark jet black sky above. There were no stars. I'd always hated this kind of weather when I was still kicking around being human.

As we crossed another street, Lucy threw me a fleeting glance. "So…"

"Yeah?" I prompted.

She shrugged. "I don't want to meet any of your friends tonight. Is there a particular reason you're taking me to a graveyard?"

"Are you feeling okay?"

Lucy made a face. "I hate being cooped up. Fever or not." She brushed it off. "So why are we going there?"

I gave her a serious look. "To murder you, Heartfilia." I frowned. "Wasn't that clear enough?"

"Haha." She looked least amused. "But there better be a good reason you're dragging me to a graveyard at 4 AM in the rain."

I didn't say anything. My eyes were trained down on my faded sneakers on the road. It almost physically hurt to be next to her and ignore the memory of the rather intense episode that took place.

"Luce." Too anxious to look at her, I addressed the wet ground. "Do you want to talk about—about, you know…" My words trailed off. I was already imagining being kicked out of my own flat and being forced to live in a bunker with no one but Hot Eye for company when Lucy sighed.

"I don't want to talk about it, Gray." Sneaking a glance at her through my lashes, I saw Lucy too was speaking to the ground. She paused for a terrible drawn out second before saying her next words. "Ever."

I nodded fervently. "Okay." Then I worked up all my masculine courage and added, "Sorry. Really."

Lucy didn't answer which left me feeling even more miserable than I was before this conversation took place.

We walked the rest of the way in silence, leaving behind the houses and the cafes like leaving behind the life in the town. I led the way, following the familiar path to the tall Kardia Cathedral and the cemetery behind it. As we crossed the cathedral, I caught my own reflection in the glittering crystal panels. With a vague sense of déjà vu I remembered that it had been pouring the last time I came here too. My dark hair was windswept and glistening with raindrops which I couldn't feel—but even for someone who was dead, my face had turned paper white. I couldn't recognize the pair of blue eyes clouded in worry and a hollow emptiness.

I quickly rushed past the cathedral. I couldn't bear to look at that unknown person in the glass. Lucy followed, her boots making a light tapping sound against the stones.

Her voice, though a whisper, sounded deafening in the quiet when she spoke. "I've never been here before."

I bit my lip. "We won't stay long."

Pushing the cold iron gates, I entered the cemetery. Lucy was walking close by me now, but she was still rigid and careful. I didn't look at her—she'd snuck out in the middle of the night to help a ghost. There was no reason she'd be unsettled in the slightest being in between the graves.

The two of us moved soundlessly through the unkempt undergrowth. I could barely hear Lucy breathe as I blinked through the steadily increasing rain to find the grave I was looking for. Mine.

I came to a stop in front of the familiar gnarled tree. Lucy abruptly halted too, almost colliding with me. She quickly shifted. "What's wrong?"

I knelt down on one knee, my hand reaching forward to brush past the fallen leaves on my gravestone. The words engraved in the black stone shimmered up at us. My name.

Lucy gasped softly.

Without looking up at her, I said, "I'm all dust and bones beneath this ground."

The words were so dark and yet they rolled off my tongue without me feeling anything at all. I couldn't pretend to be anything else. Death wasn't something that ever really left anyone—the mortals or the souls.

"Oh, God."

I finally shifted my gaze at Lucy. Her hair was swept to one side, drenched and her eyes were wide. Her lips were parted, gaping down at my grave, her small hands balled into tight fists. The whisper of a fog clung to our clothes, making details hazy.

"I—wasn't sure I ever wanted you see this." My words were choked. "But now I think I do. And it's got nothing to do with your powers," I added sharply. "It's—" I fumbled for the right words. "—it's a part of me. The most important part of me."

Lucy was still standing motionless, staring in horrified fascination at the silver words on my headstone. She wrenched her eyes away from it at last with great difficulty, as if floating out of a dream at the sound of my voice. Her eyes found mine, unfocused at first.


She blinked. "Why would you want me to see this?"

Good question. My brain's been asking me exactly that the last half an hour. "Lucy, we're a grenade. We almost explode with every secret we accidentally bare." I shrugged. "And I hate it."

Lucy was scrutinizing me. "Gray." She was very quiet. "You could always leave."

I sounded anguished and confused when I replied. "I don't want to." I took in a deep breath, my hands locking together. "I don't want to leave you."

Lines were turning blurry and I was crossing them fast. And I was trying to turn back, but I kept talking.

"I hate being one," Lucy said finally, turning to look at the grave again. "But I am a mediator. And if you need me to help you, Gray, then maybe—"

"You don't get it, do you?" I was getting louder, but no one here could hear me. "This," I gestured to the black headstone. "Is the deepest, darkest part of my existence, all carved out in stone. And I know I've never told you anything about my life—but I want you see this."

"Gray, this won't make me suddenly open up to you about my feelings and shit like—"

I was on my feet, closing the distance us until I was inches away from her. "You don't have to," I whispered. Lucy didn't move a muscle, a deer in headlights. "But I can't look at you in the eye everyday and see each other's secrets reflected in them, okay? It's toxic."

Her expression hardened as she crossed her arms, averting her gaze. "Then maybe we're toxic."

"No, that's not what I—"

"You're a ghost." She set her jaw, though I could see her resolve breaking. "And you know humans and spirits don't get along." She held up a finger as I tried to interrupt. "Gray, as a mediator, the only connection I'm supposed to have with—the dead," she winced. "—is to help them. And I'm still trying to figure that out," her words ended in a silent plea.

"Yeah?" I could make out her face better as the sky began to clear. Streaks of grey cut through the darkness as dawn approached. Her eyes mirrored my pain. "Who makes the rules? Luce, I've had three years to think about this existence—and I still haven't figured it out." One of my hands reached out to catch her wrist. She didn't pull away. "None of us have."

She was worrying away at her lower lip. "I never trusted too many people. I'm sorry if you feel that way, but I'm not ready to let go of any of my secrets."

I was nodding before she finished speaking. "That's okay. You don't have to."

I released her hand, stepping back a bit. The little tense bubble around us broke as we both looked down at the buried remains of Gray Fullbuster.

Neither of us said a word, until Lucy broke the silence. "'Beloved son and brother'," she read out. "Brother? You had siblings?"

I was getting back that terrible headache I got whenever I thought of them. My family. I'd refused to mention their names to myself, let alone discussing them with anyone, ever.

And I looked at Lucy, and wanted to tell her everything.

I leant back against the withering tree, taking in a deep unnecessary breath. I wasn't sure how to say her name. But miraculously, my lips shaped it and I somehow formed the words. "Ul," I said. The single syllable of her nickname seemed to pound away at all my carefully built up walls. My head hurt, trying to remember all the foggy memories before I died. "A sister," I explained. "I had a sister."

This so wasn't the ideal place for narrating childhood tales. It was raining, Lucy was already sick, and to top it off, we were standing in the middle of a blasted graveyard on my own tomb.

Go figure.

Lucy didn't say a word. She patiently waited for me to go on. It almost burnt my tongue to talk about my life—I'd bottled everything I felt and remembered inside me for so long; it was the feeling someone might get when they try to sing along to a song they used to know many, many years ago. It didn't make sense.

"Four of us." My words came out a bit hoarse. "My parents and Ul. I'd always been a—well, a very reckless teenager." I almost smiled. Teenager seemed like such an absurd way to measure age. I'd aged far more even when I stopped growing older the night I died. "I always stayed up in my room. I didn't really want to spend much time with my folks."

"Gray, you don't have to tell me this." I looked up at Lucy. The rain was thinning now, and the sky was turning a pale shade of pink. "Really. I don't have to know."

I shook my head. It was like ripping off a bandage. It hurt like hell, but somehow bit by bit, I could feel relief at saying the words out loud replace the agony of reliving it all.

"My dad," I continued. "Always wanted me and Ul to take over his company when he retired. And of course, I was always the rebel," I said bitterly. "I hadn't figured out a single thing in my life, and yet all I knew was how I wanted to get out of that town and do anything but go into a cramped office room every day."

It felt weird to talk about such human stuff. My speech in the last three years had been mostly limited to vocabulary like ectoplasm and ghoul and a couple of other ghostly profanities of course.

"I wanted to do art. I wanted to do music. I had convinced myself and my friends that we could be larger than life." I shook my head, looking back on my stupidity. "I had far too many dreams and none of the diligence to work hard that my sister did. I—I was just an idiot of seventeen who thought I could fool my way to something great."

Lucy opened her mouth, her expression unfathomable, but closed it again. All the better—I couldn't see anything but my own regretful seventeen year old self right then.

"I'd just wanted to take an art internship in Magnolia for a year. I'd wanted to explore my options, but when I told my dad, he flipped." I shut my eyes, and the November afternoon came rushing back, roaring in my head. Me and my dad standing across each other in my bedroom, yelling at the top of our lungs. A stubborn dark haired kid, who refused to listen, walking out of the house with nothing but an overloaded suitcase and an acceptance letter which would get him nowhere without his nose to the grindstone.

"We had a fight. I left that day, before my mom and Ul returned home." I opened my eyes, inhaling in the cool air and the smell of moss. "I regretted it the second I got on the plane, but I always had a pride bigger than my body. All I did was text my parents I'd reached when I did."

"Did they—" Lucy broke off.

I jerked my head to indicate no. "That was the last time I ever reached out to them. I spent the next five months struggling with the internship, trying to make ends meet, living at rented rooms and motels." I made a frustrated sound. "Oh, God. Pride's such a dangerous thing, Luce."

She looked upset, but didn't move.

"The last time I saw my sister," I went on, trying not to relive that day too. Ul had always been a brilliant older sister. She'd read to me when I was little, and I'd do the same when she was sick. She'd been the one to stay up and fix all my school projects. She'd always bossed me around, but somehow I'd ended up learning a lot from her than I ever had from my parents. And I'd turned my back on her as easily as my home. "Was when Ul flew into Magnolia and found me through a friend. She was furious with me of course. She barged right into the rented room I was staying at, and when she got to know art wasn't working out for me…" I squeezed my eyes shut. "Well, at first she tried to talk patiently. I refused to go back. And she started getting mad. I was a coward Luce," I moaned, looking at the ground. "I didn't want to face my family. I wanted to stay hidden in Magnolia fighting an uphill battle."

Dawn broke. The first soft rays of sunlight hit Lucy's face at a slanted angle. I saw no pity in it and was glad. I didn't need her to feel sorry for me. I had quite enough of that on my own.

"I was so happy to see her and yet so angry for trying to pull me back home." I was speaking faster. "She left in a rush that night. I hadn't wanted to end up fighting with Ul too, but we were both screaming at each other before she—well she said something about how I could never face the consequences of own actions and she stormed right out."

The night was so vivid in my mind. Too vivid. Painfully bright, and getting brighter every second.

"I remember I was staring at the door she slammed shut for, like a few seconds. But God, it felt like ages. And then I just made a split decision—I raced out the door, impulsive as always." I shivered slightly. "Ul was already walking away. I was staying at this motel right on the outskirts of the town—not around here," I gestured vaguely around. "You know, near the lake? Around there. And I remember everything was so quiet, and so cold."

It was getting harder to speak. I couldn't hear my voice anymore. "It snowed all day the day before you see," I explained. "Did I mention it was November?"

Lucy's lips were pressed in a hard line, her eyes tortured. "Gray, you don't need to tell me this. I'm serious."

Her words hung in the air but they didn't seem to reach me. I was standing alone in the cemetery, next to my grave, seeing but not feeling the first touch of morning sunlight.

"The snow—I think it had started to melt. Otherwise the roads couldn't possibly have been that slippery." My shoes dug into the scruffy land now, recalling their halted sprint across the snowy streets. "Ul had already crossed—I can't remember whether there was a bus-stop, or a—"

"Gray, stop. Please." Somewhere, in the corner of my mind, I knew that for the first time, Lucy sounded frightened of me. But all I could think of was me and my sister, just a road away from each other, the chilly wind too strong for her to hear me calling to her.

"I don't remember," I repeated flatly. "But I wanted to reach her before she disappeared round the corner and I—well I ran. I dashed from one pavement towards the other."

"Gray, don't—"

My eyes felt frozen as I continued staring blankly at my feet. "The roads were really slipper from the ice, you know." I said in a whisper. I could barely hear myself. "There was no way that truck could've stopped even if it had seen me. Or if I'd seen a second earlier and tried moving." I shrugged. "There was too much snow."

Something seemed to be crushing my skull as I lived through the night again. A bloodcurdling scream as the lights closed in on me. Cold and more cold up my back, and then my head and then my heart.

With tremendous effort, I looked up. My eyes found Lucy's. And it was only when I saw the terror in them that I was jolted out of that ghastly memory. I realized with shock that Lucy looked every bit as anguished as I felt. But just her eyes—her body was rigid, her jaw set, her face masked except for the eyes which I'd learnt to read over time.

We stared at each other.

"Did I—did I scare you?"

She looked shaken, but obviously, she shook her head. Lucy probably had herself convinced that she'd spontaneously combust if she ever dared to admit she might get frightened. I didn't know whether that was brave or stupid.

"Lucy," I started firmly. "Are you sure you're okay?"

This, apparently, was again the wrong thing to say. She averted her eyes and crossed her arms. "I need you stop asking me that every time I don't reply to you."

"Well, maybe the next I bare my soul to you—"

"You didn't have to," she snapped.

I was losing my temper. "Why are you so impossible? Honestly, can we ever have an actual conversation without you—you know—"

She looked back at me, cocking an eyebrow skeptically. "Yes? Without what, may I ask?"

Then I saw it. Her lips trembling at the corners. I sighed. "We're bickering again," I pointed out.

"Yes, well—"

Moving from my rooted position for the first time, I stepped forward over the damp ground and closed the short distance between us. "Luce." I was looking down at her, searching her face, speaking much more quietly than really needed. "I don't want to bicker."

Lucy didn't even flinch at our close proximity. Instead, as if held captive, she stared right back up at me. I realized I was close enough to see the beads of rainwater glistening on the messy strands of her blonde hair that had come undone. In fact, I noted with dull surprise, I was near enough to count every one of her eyelashes.

Everything held its breath.

"Luce," I breathed. One of my fingers moved of its own accord to tilt her chin up until her perfect lips were almost level with mine. Following an unfamiliar instinct, I leant in, trapped in a strange cage of energy. Our lips almost brushed.

And then Lucy inhaled sharply. She dipped her head away from mine, breaking me out of my sudden impulsive urge. She fidgeted awkwardly as I quickly pulled my hand away, coughing in utter mortification.

"God." I backed away from her at the same time she hastily pushed back her hair and turned around. "I'm so sorry, Lucy. That was—totally uncalled for, I'm so sorry."

She had her back to me. But she didn't sound mad when she spoke, though she sounded almost as flustered as I felt. "No—that's okay. Um, we should get going." She cleared her throat. "I have work."

I nodded, feeling embarrassed and hating myself. Because as I followed Lucy Heartfilia through the maze of graves, I knew that I'd wanted nothing more than to grab her and kiss her.

But just like my sister, I was letting her walk away from me.

"I'm a fool," I groaned into the cool metal surface of the counter.

Mavis sighed exasperatedly. It was a miracle that she was even audible over all the chaos the ghosts were causing. Normally, Piper's was the last place in Magnolia that I'd go to seek comfort. I preferred to brood pensively over the pointlessness of afterlife somewhere quieter, with nothing that could talk around me.

But it was the only place I'd be able to find Mavis this early. I was seated at the conveniently placed mini bar inside one of the penthouse suites on the west end of Piper's—the general location of the dead in this hotel. Obviously, none of us could taste a drop of the liquor, but I think infesting any place around a bar holding ingeniously named cocktails helped the 16th century feel better about themselves.

"I understand that, Gray." Mavis's agreement to my statement clearly reflected her true friendship to me. I was glad she had my back. "But that still doesn't explain why you brought a cat with you."

I slowly lifted my head off the counter. My vision was bleary for some reason. "His name's Happy. He was already hovering around the pizzeria and I thought a cat would be of comfort." I went back to having my face flat against the counter. "He wasn't."

"Comfort?" I cracked open an eye to see Mavis raising an eyebrow down at me.

"Mavis, I'm embarrassed and depressed," I said. "Can you please let me mope in peace and just pretend like everything always works out in the end?"

She didn't say anything, pursing her lips and looking back over her shoulder instead. The scene behind us was something I did not wish to have imprinted in my brain.

Happy seemed to be more likeable than me in my own ghostly community, because as I walked into the room with the cat in my arms, the dead were all swooning over the animal like proud PTA mothers. Presently, Happy was being showered with more attention than he'd ever been given, though why that feline liked the idea of Hot Eye trying to ride its tiny body beat me.

It would've been hilarious—almost all the ghosts of Magnolia crowding around Happy like they'd never seen a cat—had I been in a mood for humour. The walk back home had been a stony silence and a solid wall of awkwardness between me and my roommate. And the mortification had been building up inside. Before Lucy could even look back at me, I'd scooped up Happy from outside Belle's and changed my direction, making for Piper's alone.

"You know I can't help you unless you tell me what happened." Sweet Mavis, as firm as ever. I would take white lies that morning over practical advice, but I always appreciated her genuineness. "What really happened with Lucy?"

"I messed up."

"Yes," she said, sounding impatient. "You've said that three times already. What, did you accidentally choke her in her sleep?"



"Mavis, don't, okay?"

She shut up, but didn't leave. Instead, she reached out, her small hand interlocking with mine. "Would you like to drink away your sorrows?" she joked.

I almost grinned, looking up into her emerald eyes. "You know, I was sixteen when I had my first illegal drink." She focused her attention on me, eagerly waiting for me to go on. "Yeah, a couple of my friends nicked their father's brandy." I laughed at the memory. The sound was off. "And we were all hiccupping for the next hour."

Mavis suppressed a giggle. "The only thing I ever did illegally was spray paint a billboard."

I sat up straighter, feeling a little less like I wanted to disappear under a rock. "You did something illegal?" I put a hand over my unbeating heart in mocking shock.

"Haha." She gave me a sarcastic look. "I was fifteen. My cousin was in town and he slipped into my room in the middle of the night—" she broke off as someone accidentally flung a complimentary hot towel in our direction, rolling her eyes at the idiotic ghoul before turning back to me.

There was an excited light in her eyes that I seldom saw. "—and he was holding these giant cans of paint. That was the first time I snuck out of home—and I remember, we climbed up those steep steps along this tank and up to the board." She grinned fondly as she spoke. "The wind was so strong and I kept slipping, but I wasn't scared in the slightest. And we spray painted all over the advertisement sheet." She finished with a reminiscent touch of pride.

I was genuinely curious now. "And what did you guys do?"

Mavis had a mischievous look in her eye. "We drew the eye of the Illuminati."

I started to laugh and then we were both laughing despite the ridiculousness of the stories we shared. It all seemed like a different era. Literally a lifetime ago.

But just like small bursts of laughter do, we fell quiet after a few minutes. I was looking down at my hands, wondering what to say to Lucy, and it was one of those problems I didn't want to face just yet. "Humans were problematic enough," I said out of the blue. "Without throwing in humans who act as mediators as well."

My friend shrugged. "Is this stemming from Lucy too?"

"What do you think?" I asked blackly.

Her voice was bleak. "I don't know if it's good for a mediator who doesn't even realize her own powers to—to hang around a ghost." She looked a bit apologetic.

I scrunched my eyes shut as Lucy's words echoed in my head. Maybe we're toxic.

"Mavis," I said suddenly. "Remember the two new mediators in town?"

Mavis narrowed her eyes. "What do you mean?"

"That boy you told me about?" I prompted. "Remember? And his brother."

"Yes…" she said slowly, realization dawning on her face. "Yes, my mother found him." She winced at the mention of her mother and I gave her a reassuring look.

"Alzack," I recalled. "That git. But I don't think the kid knows he's a mediator."

"But if his brother knows—"

"He refused to help any of us," I told her. "But if your mother found him—well if the kid doesn't know his own powers, it's dangerous for him. Especially in Magnolia."

Mavis pinched the bridge of her nose, looking older and tired. "You're right," she agreed. "Magnolia has far too many ghosts."

I waited for approximately one second before springing my next irrational decision on her. "I want to meet him. The kid."

"Gray, the last time you tried being friendly with a mediator—"

"Lucy's my friend," I interrupted sharply. "Or at least I hope so. She's not just a mediator."

Mavis stared at me for a long time, searching my face. Then she glanced sideways and I followed her gaze to realize ickle Zeref was watching us like a hawk. He was leaning against the wall, away from all the excitement over Happy, his dark eyes scrutinizing my every move.

Well, at least I had someone who couldn't tear their eyes from my face.

Mavis sighed. "You know what?" She got up, taking my hand firmly. "I've had quite enough of Piper's. Let's go."

As we turned to leave, I didn't bother taking Happy along. Maybe both the cat and Lucy would be better off that way.

On the way, we crossed Bell's Corner. I wouldn't have stopped had both Mavis and I not stopped dead—excuse the phrase—at the noise of a huge commotion from inside the cramped up pizzeria.

Well. We were dead. No one would see us if we entered to watch the action.

It was Natsu Dragneel. Ickle Dragneel was arguing heatedly with his father, and the doors to the building were jammed. The only people who turned up at a pizzeria at six in the morning were ghosts and people in dire need of coffee, so there weren't too many casualties subject to the insufferable screeching sound that was Ickle Dragneel's yelling.

But it wasn't a fight which made me halt. It was what Natsu was saying that disturbed me.

"—and I bet it's her cat!" he finished.

Igneel looked down wearily at his unlucky offspring. "Natsu, I'd like you to please stop screaming the place down."

Mavis nudged me. She shifted her gaze to behind Igneel—Lucy was standing there, looking furious and puzzled. Her brunette friend—Cana, I'm sure—was standing beside her, gripping an empty tray so hard that her knuckles were white.

Natsu looked pissed. He jabbed a finger in Lucy's direction. "Well, ask her Dad! I don't know where that animal came from, but I'm pretty sure it didn't unlatch my window all by itself. Someone let it in."

"What's your point, Natsu?"

There were only two people inside, and they were studiously staring at their tables, suppressing smirks. I was feeling slightly guilty. Because you know, it was a teeny tiny bit my fault.

Stop looking at me that way. It's rude to stare.

"I went up to your floor," Natsu said in an accusing tone, addressing Lucy now, who stared him down with an icy look. "And I heard you—I don't know, breaking things and yelling. I don't know who you talk with up there, or whether you're cuckoo, but ever since you arrived, weird stuff's been happening everywhere."

Lucy set her jaw, almost livid with thinly veiled rage. "Yes, and what 'weird stuff' happened, may I ask?"

Natsu looked at her incredulously. And I could see the words on the tip of his tongue—I see you talking to air and it's freaking me out and I want you to leave. But Igneel was waiting for a response from his son with stony silence and I could see that nothing Natsu said would check out.

"Dad, I don't trust her. I keep telling you, there's something wrong with her." Natsu sounded almost desperate now. I'd never seen anyone Lucy knew speak of her this way. I couldn't see how anyone could hate her, despite being a rather annoying pain in the ass at times.

Cana opened her mouth to say something, probably curse at him, but Igneel beat her to it. "I think I can decide whether or not to trust my employees, Natsu." His voice was dangerously soft. "And you should be ashamed of yourself for making such a big deal out of your stupid imaginations. In front of everyone."

He turned around before his son could interrupt, ending the conversation with an air of finality. Cana threw Natsu a brief look of disgust, tossed her hair and walked away with her tray.

Before I could intervene, Natsu marched right up to Lucy and whispered roughly, "You're mad," he said. "And you're pretending to be this—this innocent little girl, aren't you? I haven't forgotten that night," he hinted.

Mavis and I seemed to share the same repulsion towards the guy.

Lucy was about to retort, when Igneel called her. "Ms. Heartfilia—a word, please."

She looked torn between giving Natsu a piece of her mind and leaving. Finally, she leant in and spat the words in his face—"Thanks for humiliating me, Dragneel."

As she turned to walk away, I caught her eye and she hesitated, noticing me for the first time. It didn't take long to figure out why Natsu was angry about last night, especially because I showed up at our room with Happy anyway.

Her eyes hardened. Then she tore her gaze away and left without a backwards glance.

Mavis cleared her throat. "Gray?"

I nodded, pushing my hands inside my pockets. "Let's leave."

I'd never been happier to be unseen as I pushed past the doors and stepped out onto the sunlit streets. Someone would've seen my armour of guilt.

Ta da! Sorry for any mistakes. I really hope you guys liked this chapter. Please do tell me your thoughts by dropping in a review! See you next chapter. (which I may upload at the end of the month, because I'm going to be very busy the next few weeks. I'll try and post the next one ASAP though :) )

Buh bye.