Morning Sickness or Flu?

Part 1: Strange Behaviors

By: xSteleAliniax


Erza Scarlet was currently face down in the toilet in her bathroom, expelling the contents of her most recent meal, which seemed to be coming back up with a vengeance. Once she had finally emptied her stomach, she flushed the toilet and then stood up on shaky legs. She walked over to the sink and splashed cool water onto her face. When she looked up into the mirror she cringed at her appearance. Her face was pale and dark circles were apparent under glassy eyes.

What was wrong with her all of a sudden?! She never got sick! But so far this week she had been sick nearly every day. Sometimes in the morning, sometimes late at night when she was about to settle in for bed. She had been avoiding going to the guild hall since she accidentally got sick all over the table where Cana and Loke had been playing cards. And then again when she had been trying to talk with Lucy, Natsu and Gray about a job they wanted to take on. She was embarrassed to go back there and face all of them.

All their pitying stares and whispers.

She hated pity.

Besides, she was fine; it was probably just the flu.

Right?

Erza decided that a hot bath would help ease the tension in her body. While the water was running, she grabbed her toothbrush and started scrubbing at her teeth and tongue. Once her teeth were clean, she pulled her hair up into a tight bun atop her head so it wouldn't get wet, and then started peeling off her clothes. Normally she would just requip them off, but her magic energy had been weak as of late, along with her physical energy it seemed. She had tried to requip into her simple armor one morning, as she always did, but the effort it took weighed down her body and made her feel faint. So, she stuck with pulling on clothing like a normal person. Though the effort of doing that was great as well.

Once the water was at an acceptable level, she stuck a toe in to test the warmth. Satisfied with the temperature, she slowly stepped in and sat down, sliding into the warm water until she was neck deep. She sighed in contentment, closing her eyes. She already felt a little better. Maybe she just needed to relax for awhile. She had probably just been under too much stress lately.

Yes.

That was a reasonable explanation.

After her bath, Erza toweled off and then quickly changed into pajamas of pink flannel with darker pink swords decorating the surface. She let her hair loose again before climbing under the blankets. It was still early, roughly eight in the evening, but she was tired from being sick. She would rest up tonight, and then she would feel better in the morning so she could go back to the guild. She couldn't hide out forever. Eventually she would need to face them. She couldn't go without taking a job for long.


The Next Morning...

Erza yawned and stretched, blinking open her eyes groggily. A silvery hue of light poured in through her thin curtains.

It was barely dawn?

Well, maybe she could go back to sleep for a little while...

She turned onto her other side to settle in for a few more hours rest when her elbow connected with skin.

"Ow,"

"Sorry." She murmured, still half asleep. Then she registered what happened and her eyes flew open. "Jellal?!" She exclaimed in disbelief, sitting up at once and pulling the sheet clear up to her neck, cheeks heating.

Jellal lay next to her, curled up under her blankets with his eyes still closed. AND he was shirtless!

"What are you doing here?" She demanded. He peered at her through tired eyes.

Just how long has he been here?

"I was worried about you," He said. "You haven't been to the guild in a few days."

"I wasn't aware that you spent so much time at my guild, Jellal." Erza noted suspiciously. He gave her a tired smile.

"I don't. I was just checking up on you. Salamander told me you were sick."

Erza winced, remembering how she had gotten sick in front of Natsu and the others a few days ago. He must have gone and told Jellal about her state...

She seethed.

Idiot. She would make him pay for that one.

Jellal chuckled at her murderous expression and sat up, rubbing at his eyes.

"I went by the guild yesterday because I was worried about you." He explained. "You haven't come by my place in a while, and I wanted to find you and ask why, since you're normally at the guild during the day. Salamander told me you got sick and haven't been back for four days."

He reached out a hand and placed it on her forehead. She narrowed her eyes but didn't smack his hand away like she wanted to.

"You don't feel warm. Are you feeling better?"

She assessed her current condition. The nausea she'd been feeling every morning as of late was gone, and her head didn't feel like it had blown up to the size of a balloon.

"Actually, I am." She replied honestly. She felt much better than she had for several days now.

She slid from bed and started walking toward her kitchen.

"Where are you going?" Jellal called after her.

"I'm hungry." She said simply.

Actually, she was famished, like she hadn't eaten for days. Well, in all fairness, most of the few things she HAD been able to eat the last few days had eventually come back up anyway. So, she supposed her grumbling stomach was justified.

"Erza," Jellal said, perching on a stool in her kitchen and watching her as she bent down to rifle through the refrigerator.

"Yes?" Came the muffled reply.

"It's four in the morning."

She looked over at him and raised a challenging eyebrow. "And?"

He shrugged.

"Isn't it a little early for breakfast?"

She sighed and ignored him. She was starving! She couldn't possibly be expected to go back to sleep before she at least ate something.

She didn't feel like breakfast, though...

Ah, yes.

She pulled out some bread, hard-boiled eggs, mayonnaise, mustard, and a jar of pickles, placing each item on the counter by the sink. Jellal watched her as she cracked the eggs and deposited the shells into the waste basket before taking a fork and smashing them. She added a bit of mayo, salt, pepper, and a touch of garlic before mixing it all together. She then grabbed two slices of bread and spread mustard on each side, and then the egg mixture onto one half She added a few strips of the pre-sliced pickles, added the top half of the bread, and took a huge bite. Jellal waited a beat, watching her face.

"How is it?" He asked as she took another bite.

"It's delicious." She said through a mouthful of sandwich. Jellal raised a curious eyebrow at her. "What?"

"Erza, you hate pickles," Jellal nodded at the still open pickle jar, "and mustard."

"No, I don't." She argued, taking another bite and relishing in the taste. "They're in my fridge, aren't they?"

"Yes," Jellal agreed slowly, "because I put them there for when I stay over. I don't much care for your tofu burgers."

Erza glared at him and chucked the butter knife she'd used to spread the mustard at him. He dodged it easily.

"Shut up, Jellal." She turned her back on him and quickly finished her sandwich.

"Are you satisfied now?" He asked once she had finished the last bite and swallowed.

She ignored him and began putting the leftover ingredients back in the fridge. She was going to offer to make him one, too, but not after he had been teasing her like that. What a moron. Why wouldn't she like pickles and mustard? He just didn't know her as well as he thought he did, that was all.

She suddenly felt drained and decided to go back to bed, even though the sun was now peeking over the horizon. She just needed another hour or two.

Jellal followed her into her bedroom but hovered near the door.

"Erza,"

"Yes, Jellal?" Her tone was tired. She slid under the covers and pulled them up to her neck.

"Can I stay with you?" He asked.

"I guess." She murmured, already close to falling back asleep.

He grinned widely and slid into bed with her. But before he could even wrap his arms around her, he got a sharp elbow to the gut.

"But, don't even think about touching me." She warned.

"Okay," he croaked out in pain. He stayed where he was. He wanted to hold her in his arms, but she was being stubborn tonight. Oh well. He was content to just lie in her presence. It was nice to just be near her.


Later That Morning...

Erza woke to the roiling in her stomach. She hurried to the bathroom, making it to the toilet just in time. She heaved for several minutes before her stomach finally settled.

Geez... What happened?

She thought she was finally starting to feel better! Maybe it was that sandwich she had eaten earlier.

She froze as a thought suddenly occurred to her.

"Erza, you hate pickles, and mustard."

She had denied it earlier that morning, but now that she had kind of come to her senses, she realized that he was indeed correct. When had she ever eaten a disgusting sandwich like the one she had devoured earlier?

"No..." She whispered, falling to her knees by the toilet. "It can't be..."

It was just that one night... There has to be another explanation.

She turned on the shower and quickly washed up, mostly as a way to get a few extra moments to avoid the task she knew she had ahead of her. If she could even make it that far without throwing up again...

Once she had finished that, she wrapped up in a towel, and wrapped another around her long scarlet hair.

She swiped her hand across a section of the mirror to check her reflection. She still looked pale and sick, but now there was a barely discernible flicker of anxiety in her eyes. She hoped no one else would be able to see it.

She brushed her teeth twice just to be safe, and then rinsed with mouthwash before braving her bedroom once more.

Jellal sat on her bed, a newspaper in hand, and a pair of black reading glasses resting on his nose. He glanced up at her entrance and sent a smile her way. She tried to smile back but she must not have done a very good job judging by the perplexed look on his face.

He sat the newspaper on the bed beside him and gave her his full attention.

"Erza, what's the matter? It sounded like you were getting sick in there?"

"I'm fine," she lied, turning her back on him to walk into her closet in search of something to wear. She sighed at her few outfit choices. All of her other clothing was tucked away in another realm to save room. And because the act of getting dressed seemed like such an unnecessary burden.

"When do you ever get dressed like that?" Jellal called from the bedroom. She ignored him and continued her search, though there weren't many choices.

She finally decided on a simple coffee brown skirt and matching turtleneck and carried them back into the bedroom. Rifling through a drawer for some leggings, socks, and underwear, she was acutely aware of Jellal's gaze following her every move.

She let the towel slide from her breasts and pulled on her clothes as casually as she could, ignoring his hot gaze on her back.

Finally, she sat on the edge of the bed and tugged on some dark brown boots.

"Erza, what are you doing?" Jellal asked when she was finished. She now sat in front of her vanity mirror, pulling her hair into a high ponytail, leaving her bangs hanging down to frame her face.

"I'm getting ready." She answered back curtly.

"You're sick. You should stay home and rest."

"I've done enough resting, Jellal." She donned a sweater from her closet and then started toward the front door. She almost made it to freedom when Jellal caught up to her, pulling her to a stop with a hand on her wrist.

"What's going on, Erza?" He asked.

She kept her back to him, though he still held her wrist in his large hand. She could feel his breath, hot on her exposed neck, and nearly fell back into him. She knew he would immediately wrap her up in his arms and make her feel safe.

But she didn't have time for comfort just then. There was something she had to do.

"It's nothing, Jellal. Don't be so worried all the time. I'm fine." She kept her voice neutral, indifferent even.

"You're not telling me the truth." He accused.

She sucked in a sharp breath.

How does he know this so easily?

"I have to go the guild now."

She pulled her wrist free and opened the door. Cold, winter air blew in around them, making her shiver. She wrapped her coat tighter around herself and stepped outside.

Before closing the door behind her, she turned and gave Jellal a brave smile.

"Don't worry. I'll come back in awhile. I promise."


Erza stood outside the guild hall doors, shaking from both cold and anxiety. She already wished she had just taken Jellal's advice and stayed home for another day. She didn't feel particularly nauseous at that moment, fortunately, but she still held a bit of unease for the task at hand.

With a deep breath, Erza managed to put on a fierce look she knew meant business. No one would dare try and mess with her now.

She pushed open the doors and stepped inside, quickly closing them behind her to keep the cold wind out. A few members glanced up at her entrance, some even looked like they might say something, but one look at her stormy face had them all hastily looking away in fear.

Erza scanned the room with hands on hips, looking for the person she wanted.

There.

Lucy, Natsu, Happy, and Gray all sat at a table together, talking and laughing at something Erza couldn't hear. For a moment she thought she should just leave them be, they all looked so happy. But then Natsu caught sight of her and smiled widely, waving her over with a dramatic show of eagerness.

"Erza! Come join us!"

"Erza, you're back!" Lucy grinned over at her.

"Good to see you again." Gray said with a nod.

"Aye, sir!" Happy agreed.

Erza felt tears well up in her eyes and had to look away. Her friends all loved her so dearly. She was very lucky to have them in her life.

"What's wrong, Erza? Why are you crying?" Happy's face contorted like he might cry, too. She blinked back the tears and turned a reassuring smile toward them.

"I'm not crying. Nothing's wrong, Happy."

"Are you sure?" He cocked his head to the side and studied her. "Your face looks kinda blotchy."

"Happy!" Lucy exclaimed in horror. "Don't tell her that!"

"Lucy," Erza said, ignoring the comments.

"Yeah?"

"You will come with me at once!" Erza commanded in her typical way. "I need your assistance with something."

The blonde celestial mage blinked back in confusion.

"Me? Really?"

"Yes." Erza nodded. "It is a matter of utmost urgency."

"O-Okay,"

Lucy stood from her chair and followed behind Erza. She led her back outside into the cold, and Lucy shivered at once, since she hadn't thought to grab her jacket before leaving; it was still on the back of her chair.

She wrapped her thin arms around herself and blew out a cold breath. She would call on Horologium to carry her if she didn't think Erza would get angry at her. Instead, she followed behind silently, trying not to chatter her teeth together too loudly.

"Erza," Lucy asked after a few minutes of walking. "What are we doing? What's the big emergency?"

"I need you to do something for me." She answered vaguely.

Lucy blew out an annoyed breath. Okay, she guessed Erza would eventually let her in on what was going on.

The two continued walking briskly for another ten minutes or so, until they reached the townsquare. Erza slowed slightly and walked forward almost hesitantly. When they reached a drug store, Erza stopped immediately, casting her eyes downward.

"What's wrong, Erza?" Lucy placed a hand on her arm. "Is everything okay?"

"I-don't know." Erza's voice was strained, and when she looked over at Lucy, her expression was pained. Lucy's eyes widened.

"What's going on?"

"Please," Erza whispered, locking eyes with Lucy's. "Please, go inside for me. I-I couldn't possibly take the humiliation..." Her eyes pleaded with Lucy.

"What do you need, Erza?" Lucy asked, but she was afraid she knew the answer already. What else could they possibly be doing at a drug store at eight in the morning?

"I need..." She let out a groan of frustration, like the very words caused her pain. Lucy's face radiated sympathy. She reached out and squeezed her hand.

"It's okay, Erza. I think I understand." She smiled reassuringly. Erza blinked back tears. "Don't worry about it; Lucy Heartfilia to the rescue!" She beamed. Erza pulled Lucy in for an embrace. "Can't-breathe!" She gasped out.

"Sorry," Erza let out a low chuckle. "Thank you, Lucy. I owe you big time."

"Are you going to return the favor?" Lucy teased with a raised eyebrow.

"NO."

Lucy laughed. "Alright. I'll be right back."

She disappeared inside.

She breathed a sigh of relief at the warmth the store created for her. It was getting too cold. She'd need to break out some warmer clothes soon.

She followed the signs to the appropriate section and then grabbed a small, rectangular box. She strode toward the front as fast as she could, praying she wouldn't run into anyone she knew.

When she reached an aisle, she thrust the box onto the black strip and then began digging in her pockets for some cash.

"Another one, Lucy?" The cashier behind the counter asked in amusement.

Ah, crap.

She hadn't even realized that it was HIM. She shot him a glare and slammed some cash onto the counter between them.

"It's not for me this time!" She exclaimed, face going a bright red. He raised an eyebrow, clearly not believing her. "Will you just ring that up for me?"

"You want me to put it in a paper bag?" He offered, pulling out a brown paper bag that was usually used for alcohol products. The last time she had purchased one of these, she had nearly died from embarrassment and all but begged him to put it in a paper bag for her.

"Yeah, sure." She replied flatly. He placed the box into a paper bag and handed it back to her, along with her change. "Thanks."

She hurried back outside with her item.

Erza waited impatiently for Lucy to return, pacing in front of the building with apprehension. The cold seemed to be keeping the nausea at bay, fortunately, but she still couldn't shake the feeling of unease settling in her stomach. She wondered what was taking Lucy so long! Maybe it was better this way. She didn't want her to hurry, did she? Maybe it was better if she didn't know the answer...

Five minutes later, Lucy came out holding a paper bag. She held it out toward Erza, who looked at it like it had the plague. Lucy shrugged and held on to the bag.

"Do you want to go back to my apartment?" Lucy offered. "I could make some tea?"

"Sure. That would be nice." She turned on her heel and headed in that direction. When they were inside, Lucy set the paper bag on the counter and set to making them a pot of tea. Erza stared at the bag ominously.

"Do you want to talk about it?" Lucy offered while the water heated up.

"I-I'm afraid talking about it will make it more real." Erza plopped down into one of Lucy's kitchen chairs, burying her face in her hands. "I can't believe this. This just isn't possible."

"Is Jellal...?" Lucy trailed off, unable to finish the thought.

"Of course," Erza sounded momentarily offended. Lucy gave her a weak smile.

"Sorry, you're right. Well, if it makes you feel any better, I had a similar scare not too long ago."

Erza glanced up at her in surprise. "You thought you were pregnant?"

Lucy nodded.

"I did. I was pretty late for my period, and I had been having some strange cravings... But it turned out to be negative." Lucy shrugged like it was no big deal, though the whole experience had not been a pleasant one. It had also been thoroughly embarrassing.

"Why the cravings, then?" Erza inquired, thinking back on her strange breakfast that morning.

"Well... I talked to Levy about it, and she and I did some research. It turned out that there are some... Rather strange side effects of being with a Dragon Slayer, you know, intimately." She flushed crimson and had to look away. Thankfully, the tea kettle was now whistling, so she used that as an excuse to avoid eye contact.

"I see," Erza mused.

Well, she certainly didn't have that excuse. Jellal was no Dragon Slayer.

She slumped. There really was no other explanation then. It had to be this.

Lucy came back to the table with a teapot filled with steaming water, and two cups and saucers. She set them on the table between them.

"Um, I only have jasmine..." Lucy said apologetically, setting some tea bags on the table as well.

"This will be fine." She set to making her a cup. "Lucy, I am forever in your debt now."

"Eh?!"

"I never would have been brave enough to go in there and buy one of these for myself. You really saved me today." She sipped at her tea, letting its warmth calm her.

"I... really don't think it was that big of a deal. I mean, it's not like I haven't done it before." This last part was muttered dryly, as she remembered the drug store cashier's comments.

"I apologize," Erza slammed a fist onto the table, making their tea slosh. "You may strike me if you like."

"What?! I'm not going to hit you!" Lucy exclaimed. "Really, it's fine. It was nothing."

"Still... There must be something I can do to make it up to you." Erza was pleading again, and Lucy felt tears spring to her eyes.

"Erza, there's nothing to make up for. We're friends! That's what friends are for." She grinned. Erza smiled back weakly, then sighed, tipping her cup back to finish off her tea.

"Okay, I suppose there is nothing else I can to do delay." She stared at the box again.

"It'll be fine, either way!" Lucy encouraged. "Jellal loves you. He's still going to love you if you're pregnant."

"I'm... afraid." She whispered. Lucy smiled encouragingly.

"Don't be. I'm right here with you."

Erza nodded then took a deep breath.

Finally, she reached into the bag and took the box in her hand. Her hand shook slightly, but she forced herself to stay calm. She went into Lucy's bathroom and closed the door.

A moment later, she returned, a white stick in hand. She placed it face down on a napkin on the table, then paced the room.

"You're sure this one will work properly?" She asked Lucy.

Lucy nearly facepalmed. NOW she decided to be picky about which test she got?!

"It's the same one that I used." She shrugged.

"Right,"

The two waited the three and a half minutes, and then Lucy spoke up.

"Do you want me to look at it for you?" She offered.

When she had gone through this, it had been Levy who had been at her side, and Lucy had been unable to look at the thing for herself until Levy confirmed it was negative.

"No, I should be the one to do it."

Erza walked back over to the table, hand raised toward the ominous stick.

"Besides, I'm sure I already know the answer."

Lucy nodded and waited while Erza fought some inner battle.

Finally, she took the stick and turned it over in her hand.

"It's positive." Erza's voice shook, and the stick dropped from her hand, landing on the carpet with a dull thud.

Lucy stood up and immediately wrapped Erza in a hug.

"It'll be okay, Erza." She whispered. "I promise." Erza shook in her arms.

"I... Can't be a mother, Lucy. I-I'm not ready!" She sobbed into Lucy's hair.

"It'll work out, Erza." Lucy reassured her. "You won't be alone. You have Jellal, and the whole rest of the guild will be there for you, too. We're all in this together."

Erza pulled back in surprise. "You really think so?"

"Yeah!" She smiled. "Of course! We're all a family, right?"

Erza smiled back slowly.

"You're right. This will be fine."


Thirty Minutes Later...

Erza unlocked her door and stepped inside, immediately sighing at the overwhelming warmth. Jellal must still be there, because a fire crackled in the fireplace.

She closed the door and shed her coat, hanging it on the back of a chair before making her way over to the fireplace to warm her frozen hands.

"You're back," Jellal noted from the doorway to her bedroom.

"And you're still here." She replied rather coldly.

It wasn't that she didn't want him here, but she was even more nervous now than she had been that morning.

"I was waiting for you. Are you feeling better now?" He came around to stand beside her, hands stuffed in his pockets. He stared into the burning embers of the fire, but he constantly glanced over at her from the corner of his eye.

"In a sense," she said.

How could she possibly tell him that he was about to be a father? How would he react to such news? Would he be angry? Scared? Maybe he wouldn't believe her...

She fingered the stick she had hidden in her pocket.

No, he would have to believe it. There was no denying it now.

"Erza," Jellal stepped in front of her and put a hand under her chin, forcing her to look at him. "Enough of this game."

For a moment, Erza was reminded of a time when Jellal had been possessed by Ultear's magic in the guise of Zeref. But, no... That wasn't coldness she heard in his voice, it was fear. Fear for her, because she had been acting crazy for days.

She felt tears pool in her eyes.

Geez... When had she turned into such an emotional wreck?

"I... I can't-"

"Erza," Jellal pulled her into his arms, wrapping her up tightly. "Whatever it is, you can tell me. I've spent enough time trying to convince myself that I'm not good enough for you. I no longer care if I am worthy of you, Titania, because I will spend the rest of my life trying to make sure you never cry again. Please... Tell me what's been bothering you. We can get through this together. We have already come so far. Nothing can come between us now." Tears leaked from her eyes and she struggled not to burst into sobs. He whispered, "Let me help you."

"Jellal..." Erza wrapped her arms around him even harder, afraid that her next words might make this the last chance she has to do so. "I'm pregnant."

As expected, his arms stiffened around her, his whole body going completely still. Even his breathing stopped. The only sounds then were the beating of his heart against her ear, which had started racing impossibly fast when those words left her mouth.

"You're... Pregnant?" He repeated, voice barely more than a whisper.

"I'm so sorry, Jellal!" She clutched at his back, unwilling to let him go.

"Erza," he pulled back just enough to look her in the eyes. One hand cradled her cheek, and wiped away a tear there. "Do not ever apologize to me."

"But-"

"No," he cut off her objections with a finger to her lips. "You never have anything to be sorry about." He moved his hand down to her stomach and left it there, a meaningful look in his green eyes. She gasped, feeling the warmth of his hand through her shirt, over her stomach where their unborn child lie. "This baby is a part of both of us." He said. "We will care for him or her together. You have nothing to be anxious about."

"Jellal, you realize what this means, don't you?" She asked, just to be absolutely sure.

"I think it means we're going to have a baby in a few months." He deadpanned. She sputtered a laugh.

"That's not what I-"

He cut her off with a kiss.

"I know what you meant," he said when he pulled back, a smile on his lips. "And that doesn't matter to me. We were already bound for eternity, Erza. This child is just a physical symbolism of that bond."

"You're not angry?" She asked, searching his eyes.

"I'm a bit surprised," he admitted, "but certainly not angry. I couldn't be angry with you, Erza. I told you, I intend to spend my life protecting yours. It is my most sacred vow. And now, I have another life to protect: our child."

"I'm not cut out for motherhood..." Erza whispered, echoing the words she had admitted to Lucy earlier. She felt vulnerable just then, something only Jellal could make her feel.

"Erza, you'll make a great mother. Look at how good you are with Asuka? She adores you. And I've seen the way your face lights up when you're watching her." He pulled her in and pressed a kiss to her forehead. "We will get through this together." He said again, and this time she believed him.

"Yes, together."


A/N: Updated and Edited!

Also, I have written a Part 2 for you guys, just because you're awesome! So check that out on Monday (12/12/16)!