The easiest color perceivable by the eye is red.
I know this because there are only two things I take deep interest in: science and fencing. One could say I was too passionate about fencing, but like everyone, I had a secret. The study of stars appealed to me the most, and Mother taught me all about it. Most mothers made their children go to bed early, but mine let me stay awake all night, admiring the beautiful heavens as she translated the whisperings of the stars. But it couldn't be helped that my father was a fencing expert and an ambitious man and all I could do to please him was to become his ideal son.
My first vivid memory seemed to be being stuffed in a white costume with a mask and a fencing sword in my hand and having a natural talent at it. Perhaps it was the many trophies decorated in the hall which allowed me to crown myself as the Prince of Fencing. Everyone swarmed me, showering me with compliments, and that was when I lost my identity I held in my earlier days.
Until that day, I suppose my world seemed to be only white. The white of perfection. The white of grandeur. The white of my fencing armor. The white of arrogance.
The trace of stars was fading away.
The sound of metal clashing was at every corner of the huge room. The smell of sweat was all over because it was summer time, and the stuffy fencing armor made it almost overwhelming, if not for the heavy fencing mask on everyone's face. However, as the heat became almost unbearable, the fencing students practiced with only the armor on. Occasional cheer of triumph and curses were heard, even though it was supposed to be a silent affair.
Today I felt exceptionally good, despite the very hot blazing weather.
"Ha!" I cornered my sparring friend, Simon in combat. "And that is a 15! Jellal Fernandes wins once again!"
Simon took off his mask, revealing his sweaty, square face, "Damn, this heat is distracting me!"
I clucked at him in mock dismay, "Don't blame it on the heat, dear Simon! You're getting rusty!" I said chucking my own mask and gloves. "Or perhaps, I'm getting better and better?" I chuckled.
Yeah, right. You keep saying that and before you know it, you'll get your ass kicked," Simon said wiping his face.
"I'll be waiting for that day," I smirked, knowing that this was all talk.
"Are you guys done?" Shu asked, impatiently. "I want to have a go with Jellal."
"If Simon can't beat me, you don't stand a chance Shu," I chuckled and patted his head, "Besides, go and fight someone your size,"
As I walked away to the benches, I heard Simon and Shu protest in annoyance, making me laugh more.
I pulled out my water bottle from my bag, but sadly, it had already lost all its coolness.
"Ah, I wish this was cool," I whispered.
I was surprised as a bottle of water appeared in my line of sight. I looked to my side to see a person seated in full fencing armor, including the mask, offering me water.
All I could see was a hint of red hair at the corner.
"It's cool," the voice said huskily.
Without giving it much thought, I accepted the bottle and took a sip.
The coolness of the water made me feel unexpectedly refreshed.
Once the warm up (literally) was over, we were asked to assemble by Mr. Rob, our old teacher. He even taught my father back then.
"Now, now, settle down." Mr. Rob said. "Today we have a new student with us," The boy who was beside him, stepped forward.
"Nice to meet you." And that was all he said. He did not take off his mask, or introduce himself. Then Rob started saying something, which I tuned out.
"What a weirdo." Wally, the block-headed boy whispered.
"You're the one to talk," I smirked as I saw him turn red while the others snickered.
"Doesn't he feel hot in that?" Simon asked. Indeed, the newbie was covered from head to toe, not exposing even little skin.
"Well, who cares about newbies anyway," I waved it off. "He is probably nervous or something."
"Now, let's begin our daily duels," Mr. Rob ended his speech.
"Let's see, since Fernandes doesn't have a partner, let's pair you with him, alright?" Mr. Rob said to the newbie, who only nodded in response.
Pairing me up with a newbie wasn't going to make me feel better about my skills as defeating him was going to be a piece of cake.
Everyone sat down in traditional Japanese style on the floor with their dueling partners and watched the matches unfold.
I glanced at the newbie to see if he was feeling uneasy or nervous. But he did nothing of that sort. He sat still as a feather, probably watching the match intently. Or maybe he didn't know what was happening
I felt that I should go ahead and explain the rules of fencing, if not anything. I wouldn't want to duel with a complete beginner.
I leaned my head towards him and said, "The main object of a fencing duel is to score 15 points on your opponent before he scores that number on you. Each time a fencer scores a touch, he receives a point."
He craned his neck towards me and nodded. "Thanks. I'll keep it in mind."
"Don't just shove it around okay? You might poke someone's eye out." I laughed inwardly at my own joke.
"That wouldn't be a problem if the opponent just wears the uniform they are supposed to wear." He replied roughly.
I couldn't believe it! The newbie tried to be sassy even though I was trying to help him. I was about to reply when Mr. Rob called us for the duel. It was our turn.
The newbie was going down. And just in a matter of seconds. Sparring would be a lot better than a verbal fight.
I adjusted my armor, "Don't worry, newbie. I'll go easy on you." I assured, without having any intention of doing so.
Mr. Rob placed a hand on the newbie's shoulder, "You can skip the duel today if you wish, since it's just your first day." He said.
In reply, he shook his head and said in his muffled voice from behind the mask, "Please allow me to present my skills."
I turned to Mr. Rob and said, "How about we keep the score 7 to victory? Seems fair enough?"
Mr. Rob nodded, "Very well."
"How considerate you are, Mr. Fernandes. You must be exhausted after your practice spar. Please don't over exert yourself." His voice seemed to me smiling.
With every moment my blood seemed to be boiling. He made my comment backfire on me.
"Enough talking." I placed my helmet loosely over my head. "Let's see what you got, newbie."
"Players take your position." Mr. Rob said as we took our places. "Bow." he ordered. I nodded my head, while the newbie bent low.
"Play!" He said. Before the newbie could back up, I charged forward aiming my fencing sword to his right shoulder for a direct hit. However, he was able to dodge by moving in the side. I thrust my sword to his midriff but before I could successfully score a hit, Mr. Rob said, One!
Baffled, I looked upon myself and noticed that the tip of newbie s sword touching my midriff. I could almost picture a smug smile upon his face, even though I had no idea how he looked.
The crowd went Ooh! in the background, shocked that the newbie had scored the first hit. However, everyone knew that was just by chance.
We took back our original positions to begin for the next round. Before he could even comprehend it, I took over and hit his waist, effectively scoring a hit as the light on his helmet beamed, which signaled a point.
In the next round, newbie tried to defend back, at the same time tried to thrust his sword for a point, but I managed to score. This went on until I had the upper hand of 5-1. I was already feeling better, as clearly, I was a pro and there was no point from the beginning to get worked up over an amateur.
I was starting to think that perhaps, I was being too hard on him and I should allow him an honorable defeat of at least 2 hits.
Mr. Rob would be doomed if I drove away all of his freshers on the first day itself, just because it was too difficult .
"What do you say newbie, do we call it a truce?" I smiled, eliciting a laugh from the audience.
"I figured out your weakness." The newbie said which silenced everyone.
"My weakness? What would an amateur like you know about my weakness?" He was bluffing to blow me off track. I would know, since I have met all kinds of players at official tournaments.
Those who were all talk.
As soon as the word 'Play' sounded, newbie was next to me, with a direct hit on my left shoulder. I was utterly taken aback by his sudden agility, and hadn't expected him to use the same tactic as I had intended to use. I wondered if I had voiced out my idea loud.
"Two!" Mr. Rob announced in favor of newbie.
I held my calm as it didn't make much of a difference. Winning was still a piece of cake for me.
'This is nothing. I can still win. I m the best at this and he s just a newbie.'
And with that thought, we sparred, clanging our swords together, trying to score a hit. He showed renewed speed and energy, and seemed to read my mind, predicting all my movements, and successfully scoring a hit each time. He moved with grace, no extra movement, smoothly defending and swiftly attacking. He stunned not only me, but also the class, who could only watch with drooping jaws, as the best of the class was losing to a student who has just arrived on that day.
As we reached 5-6, with a heavy breath, I merely dodged and defended in an attempt to tire my opponent and get an opening. However, he thrust his sword towards my shoulder and as I backed up to dodge, I missed a step and crashed to the ground ungracefully. My helmet flew off my head and exposed my tired face, giving me a clear view of the opponent towering before me. He pointed the tip of his sword on my shoulder and I froze in my place on the floor.
I had been defeated at the hands of a newbie. No, it was my over confidence that had led me to my defeat. The humiliation washed over me like cold water. I had never faced like this defeat, ever before. The class held its breath, waiting to see what would happen next.
He drew back his sword, surprising everyone. My breath hitched as the newbie unbuckled his helmet, revealing long locks of scarlet, a pretty heart shaped face glistening with sweat, and the dark eyes that shined beautifully. She smiled and said, "I guess we should call it a truce?"
The class went wild as everyone echoed the same thought, "THE NEWBIE IS A GIRL?!" And from there it was total chaos as the boys yelled and shouted all together.
The girl backed up, and bent low once again. Flipping her hair, she turned and walked away from the scene. Before she could disappear from the class, I quickly gathered myself, "Stop!" I yelled.
"Where do you think you are going? The match isn't over yet." My words died down as she turned to look back at me with those hauntingly sparkling eyes.
With all due respect, it is." She said, making me feel hot in the face. She gave it a thought before saying, "We will play again. Jellal." My heart skipped a beat as the word fell from her mouth.
She turned back to proceed to leave, before I stopped her again.
She looked at me, waiting for me to say something. Strangely, my heart seemed to drum against my chest rapidly. "What is your name?" I asked, suddenly feeling self-conscious as I felt knots in my stomach.
"It's Erza." She replied smoothly.
Without waiting further, she left me behind with a haunting feeling that I, Jellal Fernandes, was completely screwed.
What happened the next day was completely contrary to what I had expected it to be. While I thought that everybody would stay away from the fierce female fencer (not to mention the only female fencer in the class, amongst 21 boys), and that Miss Not-Such-A-Newbie would stick to her own world, I was greeted by an entire hoard of boys swarming Erza who indulged them and was also amused by them.
The leading lot consisted of my best mates, Simon, Wally and Shu. They seemed quite taken by her. While I did my preparatory exercises for the fencing lesson, I tried not to look too obvious as I eavesdropped on their conversation.
"Do you live in Magnolia?" Simon asked. I cringed inwardly, as only Simon was capable of asking such a naïve question.
"Yes, that s right." Erza nodded.
"Which school do you go to?" asked a boy whose name I never bothered remembering.
"Magnolia Academy." One of the popular schools in Magnolia.
"So when did you start learning fencing? You have obviously played before!" Shu asked.
"I started when I was in elementary school." Erza replied. "My father was a fencer. He inspired me to take it up."
"Ah! The same as Jellal!" a boy exclaimed and I froze as I felt all sights on me. "His father is an expert fencer and he began fencing early too!"
"Is that so?" Erza answered. "That s incredible. No wonder he s so good at it." she said looking straight at me.
"You were good too, Erza!" Shu burst out, saving me the effort of replying. "I-I mean, is it okay to call you Erza?" Shu covered up hastily.
Erza's face changed into a heart-fluttering smile as burst into a twinkle of laughter, "Of course!" she said. "But only if I can call you Shu!" she added.
And that was how the entire class was charmed by a lone warrior. Everyone talked at once, and I could see real hearts in the air as they surrounded Erza.
"Shu, you sly wolf!"
"I think I saw heaven for a moment."
"Can I call you 'Erza' too, Miss Erza?"
"All hail Miss Erza!"
A conversation couldn't get more bizarre than this. The absurdity of it all was making me go nuts. I despised and dreaded every moment of the class as everyone favored her, praised her and swarmed her.
And yet, throughout the class, my eyes would follow only the red-haired fencer, her every movement and word, her simplicity and grace. Indeed, she was honored, but she maintained her good nature and modesty. Her skills were impeccable, but she was never proud and held the desire to improve. Even in the simplest actions she displayed respect and even the opponents who faced defeat by her, couldn't help but show equal amount of respect for her.
It was then, when I realized that Erza had charmed the class, not by her beauty or skills, but by the warmth and kindness she displayed.
While she was humble and kind, I boasted my skills, treated my mates as well as opponents as below me and acted as a jerk, believing myself to be the best and superior. The attention I had received had gone to my head and made me a proud and selfish person.
Compared to her, I was nothing.
While we were picking up our things in the locker room, "Come to think of it, how did you figure out Jellal's weakness?" Wally asked.
Suddenly, there was pin drop silence as the question sinked in. I felt a cold grip over my heart, a feeling of panic I had never felt before.
While I waited for Erza to take revenge and humiliate me, she surprised the entire class by saying, "That's a secret." And smiling mysteriously.
Her statement, instead of providing me any sort of relief, seemed to throw me in a state of endless confusion and a burning question.
The locker room was emptied as people poured out, while Erza stayed back, packing up her bag.
"Why?" I asked, without facing her, staring at my own locker.
"Rule 101: You should never make your weakness public," Erza said, and I couldn't tell if she was saying it in good humor.
"Then you must violate that rule once and tell me what you have deduced."
Erza seemed to be thinking. Then she looked at me head on and said, "You are fast, and speed is your advantage. However, you use your speed in the form of aggressiveness, which allowed me to see a pattern in your thoughts."
"However, that is not your true weakness. Your true weakness is that you concluded the end of your match before it actually ended."
With that, Erza had taken the exit again without waiting for me to say anything. However, there was was nothing left for me to say except for what Simon, who was hidden among the lockers voiced out,
"Looks like you've finally met your match, Jellal Fernandes."
I clutched the shopping bag as I walked back home. I had stepped out to go to the shopping district which was a good 20 minute walk and as it was vacation time, Mother wouldn't mind sending me off for emergency shopping, even if it were at night.
The street was deserted, and one street light in the center of the path seemed to be broken. The sky was dotted with a few clouds obscuring the brilliance of the full moon. However, it peeked for a while when the wind blew. Despite the occasional breeze and the absence of the blazing sun, it continued to be hot.
Suddenly, there echoed a piercing scream, and my body ran instinctively to the source of the sound. I ran to the end of the street and in a dark corner, I saw a tall figure grabbing hold of a girl's bag who struggled helplessly. "My bag!" she screamed.
"Give it to me!" the man boomed at the top of his voice. He raised his hand to slap her, and I dashed to save her, but before I could reach the man was kicked in the face by a person who entered just then.
"Get your hands off her you jerk!" yelled Erza, the very same red haired fencer who made my pulse run abnormally.
The man yelled in anger, "You damn woman! That hurt!" He aimed a punch at Erza, and in panic, I shouted, "Watch out!" but instead of dodging, Erza held his punch in her palm, stopping him and surprising him with her strength of blocking his punch with just her palm.
"You dumbass. Don t go swinging your arm like that!" She yelled in fury.
And then, the girl who's bag was being stolen and I watched in horror as Erza beat up the thief single-handedly and mercilessly. She slammed the thief to the ground, only to pick him up again and judo-flip him. These were followed by some curse words. When it seemed like she was finished, she turned kicked him again. I was starting to feel pity for the poor man, who looked like he would burst into tears any moment.
I stepped forward, "Um, I think he's had enough now-" and before I could complete my sentence, Erza turned fiercely and said, "What now? Is it your accomplice?! Were you hiding all along, you coward?" she said and a punch squarely landed on my face.
My body shook from the impact of her punch, and I could literally see the stars as they would show in cartoons and all I think could of was, damn she was strong.
When my vision returned, before me was a sheepish Erza, who seemed embarrassed and flustered, apologizing profusely for punching me unknowingly.
The girl, teary eyed, thanked Erza again and again, and I was strangely delighted to see Erza smile, which seemed to fasten my heart beat. The thief had a complete change as he begged for forgiveness to Erza, who had announced that she would report him to the police. He admitted that he was stealing so that he could gamble at the casino. She looked like she would start throwing punches again, but she sighed and let him off by saying, "Don t steal someone else's hard earned money for your selfish needs,"
She must have had a really strong sense of justice to say that. Yet again, I was left marveling at her.
"I'm really sorry, Jellal." Erza apologized so many times that I lost count. "Is your jaw okay?" She asked worriedly.
"It's nothing, I'm fine." I said, pressing the ice-pack Erza had bought for me urgently from a nearby medical store. However, if I had to be honest, my jaw really hurt badly. I almost feared a swelling.
We sat on a bench in the Magnolia Park. I could see from the edge of my eye as she glanced at me and fidgeted with her hands. I couldn't understand why the reason for her concern and worry.
"Hurting a friend…I'm really the worst." She muttered.
I couldn't believe that she considered me a friend. I had been anything but a friend to her. I was a jerk. I had belittled her, and mocked her. And that was who I really was. I look down upon people. I consider myself to be the best. I put myself before others.
"I suppose I deserved it." I said quietly.
Erza turned to look at me, What?"
"I deserved that punch. You hate me, don't you?" I waited for her to finally show her anger, the one that she had displayed against the thief. To see if she would punch me again, and feel not an ounce of regret. However, she did nothing of that sort. Instead she looked at me right in my eyes and said clearly, "You did not deserve that punch, and I certainly do not hate you."
"Oh, cut out the friendly act." I said irritably, standing up from the seat and abandoning the ice-pack. "I know people like you like to show people that you're better than them. I know it so very well. People like you always act 'goody-goody' to get into everyone's good books."
"This is not a friendly act." Erza said, her tone dead-serious. "And stop saying 'people like you', as if you know me well."
"Then stop. Stop being friendly with me." I said.
"We are friends." Erza insisted stubbornly.
"On what basis?" I asked, heatedly.
"Well, for one, we are partners in fencing. And secondly, you accepted water from me, didn't you?" Erza said in an as a matter of fact tone.
That threw me completely off the track and in confusion I asked, "What?"
"You wanted cool water didn't you?" Erza said.
When I began to make sense of what she was saying, I realized that the person in the fencing suit who had offered me cool water was none other than Erza.
I threw myself over the bench, doubling in laughter.
"What is so funny?" she asked, raising her brow.
"It was you. The one with the red hair." I said.
"What?" Erza made a confused face, which made me laugh even more. "Looks like that punch reached your head." She commented.
"Maybe you are right." I said and she snorted in reply.
In my head, nothing made sense, but deep down in my heart, everything Erza said made me feel she's right. The red-haired fencer was truly fearsome, for she had her unique way to challenge me head on, and also be correct.
"You are strange. Erza Scarlet." I felt myself smile.
"I could say the same for you. Jellal Fernandes." She held a small smile herself, as she said this.
"Why are you so nice to me? I was a dumbass to you." I asked, feeling inwardly desperate for an answer.
Erza thought again, which made me realize that she was very careful with words, as if it were a sword, "I believe people are truly kind from within. Different people have different ways of showing it."
"How would you know? You don't know me." I repeated the line she had used on me.
"You did come ahead to help the girl didn't you? It was you who called out on me. Am I right?" She smiled.
I placed the ice-pack back, but on my head this time.
"I cannot win against you," I said suddenly, surprising myself, though I really meant it. Erza seemed to have a strange effect over me, something which I couldn't place a finger over. I waited to receive a smug reply, showing me my place but Erza Scarlet was definitely not going to be predictable.
"Life isn t all about wining you know," Her brown eyes had that beautiful shine and her voice was kind.
"You're right." I replied. For a while, we basked in silence and the moon light that spilled in all directions. The sky was clear now, as if the brilliance of the moonlight had burned the clouds away, revealing a beautiful curtain of stars.
Make a wish. Erza said. Right on time, I spotted the shooting star she was referring to, soaring across the sky and disappearing in a flash of a second.
All I wished for was to stay under the glory of the glittering stars, a bit longer, together with Erza Scarlet by my side.
A/N: All i want to say is that I don't have the slightest idea about fencing. And I love Jerza.
Happy belated birthday Sachiko Saki! I know you love Erza so much so I thought of writing Jerza this time! I hope you liked it! :)