CHAPTER 2 - White
The first thing she noticed when she opened her eyes was white.
She squinted up at the sheer canopy above her, the long swaths of gauzy lace swaying slightly in a breeze. Lucy groaned, her hand rising to massage her temple at the oncoming headache. She blinked a few times, clearing her vision against the bright sunlight tricking in from all sides. She stretched slightly, her body sinking into the silk sheets whispering against her skin. She burrowed her head further into her down pillow, breathing in the lavender threaded within its feather interior.
She could really use a soak in a warm bath. Her limbs ached while her throat was dry and rattling from the remnants of smoke coating her lungs.
Caramel eyes flashed open as she shot up in bed, ignoring the dull throb webbing against the side of her ribcage. Her pulse was racing, adrenaline coursing through her as she took in the unfamiliar surroundings. Her spine was stiff as she surveyed the spacious room. She was perched on a pale cedar-wood bed, delicate pillars holding up the canopy she'd spotted when she'd first awoken. It was freestanding in the middle of the room. The walls were whitewashed in coastal fashion, the floor covered by a layer of sleek sheepskin while a few other pieces of intricately carved furniture dotted the area. Her mother's diary lying carefully on an otherwise cleared desk.
Nevertheless, the rich decor was not what first caught her attention. The chamber was semicircular, a sturdy oak door was centered on the straight edge. Along the curve however, were four towering windows that took up much of the remaining space. They were flanked by more lace curtains and were completely open to the elements – not a pane of glass in sight.
It was immediately apparent that the owner of the home was wealthy, and decidedly not from Bosco.
She scrambled out of the blankets, glad for the fleece at her feet when she felt a chill run through her – cool air blowing from outside. She wrapped her arms around herself as she edged towards the windows, her hand shaking slightly as she pulled back the curtain.
Her breath left her all at once.
Beyond the open panes was a straight drop off a vertical slope, no ledge or rail in sight. She scrambled backwards – her heart thundering up to her throat. Her legs wavered at the soaring height as she dropped safely to her knees, taking comfort in the solid marble before she peered back out.
Lucy dragged oxygen through her lungs as she took in the expanse of alabaster cliffs laid out before her. The sun was high in the sky as its light gleamed off the green canopies of the trees, punctuated by the rosy hues of late blooming magnolia. The ridges shot up in clumps from the cerulean waves lapping below. The crags were connected by delicate bridges, a shimmering city woven together and hanging among their peaks. With a start, she realized the buildings were carved from the rock face, her own pale walls not painted but sculpted straight from raw stone. She let the pads of her fingers brush against the smooth surface, in awe of the craftsmanship of the pillars and the domed ceiling.
How had they managed it? This winding city nestled among the seaside bluffs – the delicate architecture evident all around her – bright and airy and open to the elements. It wasn't just this room either, everywhere she looked had levels of cascading terraces, suspended platforms and gaping windows facing the sharp drops below.
She didn't have to wait long however, as her question answered itself.
There didn't seem to be many people out in the early morning, but those who were didn't bother with the roads. Lucy gasped once more as she inched forward. Her gaze flickered up to the wispy clouds, broken by the gliding figures soaring high above.
It was a kaleidoscope of colour as their wings sliced through the sky – streaks of blue and gold and red. They weren't all the same – some were as gauzy as a spider's web, others as thick and leathery as hide. Still more shone ethereal, as if they were spun from the light of the stars. She watched in wary fascination as they dove off balconies and twisted their bodies with a grace her own kind lacked. There was beauty in their movements, but it rattled her just the same.
There was no doubt in her mind that she had been taken beyond the Edge, but it was nothing of the fire and brimstone she had been raised to fear.
"If you lean over any more you'll fall right off."
Lucy shrieked at the sound of the voice, lurching to the side as she grasped at the window frame – perilously close to toppling over in spite of the warning. She spun, her neck jerking as she took in her visitor.
A man leaned against the door, arms folded over his chest. His head was tilted back against the wood as he peered down at her through his messy bangs. Bandages were wrapped tightly around his otherwise bare torso, a dark patch bleeding through on his left side – evidence of recent injury. His arms were scrapped slightly as well, while the skin around his wrists was chaffed and raw. She gulped. Even in stillness there was strength in the corded muscles of his arms, the hard planes of his chest, and the broad expanse of his shoulders.
A part of her was mortified by the arrival of this half-naked stranger, but a bigger part was confused – desperate for answers.
"Where am I?" She asked, hating the slight quiver to her voice.
The man cocked his head to the side, the corner of his lips curving up. He crossed his legs at the ankles, and she realized he wasn't wearing shoes. He wasn't wearing much of anything really, except for the baggy white pants belted low on his hips. If it wasn't for the confidence wafting off of him, she would have though he'd just snuck in from off the street.
"My home – thought you could do with some beauty rest." He told her. His voice was low and hoarse from overuse, but amusement coated his words like honey.
"But, how did I get here? The last thing I remember was that the palace was on fire and I went back to get—and then there was…and I saw…" She started and stopped, the memories rushing back of the smoke-filled library.
She remembered red scales and falling before she'd lost consciousness.
Lucy furrowed her brows, looking more closely at the stranger before her. His skin was sun-kissed, golden in a way that meant he spent time outdoors – unlike most of the courtiers she grew up with. His wild hair stuck in every direction as if he'd carded his fingers through it repeatedly. His fringe covered his eyes but she could see the angular planes of his face just fine, as well as the hint of sharp canines peeking through his full lips.
If she were honest she would admit he was strikingly handsome.
And oh, so familiar.
After all, she was under no illusions that he was anything but Other – his bright sakura locks gave him away even if the predatory aura radiating off him did not. Still, she recognized him even without the ruby scales or twisting horn. Absently, she wondered if his eyes had shifted from the pure midnight orbs she'd first seen him with as well.
She frowned, blinking at him. "Sorry, what?"
He pushed off the door, straightening as he shoved his hands into his pockets but remained standing where he was. He wasn't smiling anymore, his tone careful – watching her behind shadowed lashes.
"When you saw the dragons. That's how we got here too." He supplied.
"But I thought you were the one who brought me?" She asked, chewing the inside of her cheek. He snorted at that but didn't answer. The silence stretched on for a few strained moments before she jolted, her eyes widened in understanding.
Her fingers curled into the fabric of her shift as she slowly stood, bracing herself against the wall.
"You mean you're a…" She trailed off, unable to reconcile the serpentine beasts she saw that night with the man standing across from her.
"Dragon, yeah." He nodded before turning away from her to approach the window furthest from her. He braced a forearm against the open frame, blinking up at the figures passing high above them. He flicked his hand toward them but didn't look at her. "There aren't any up there right now – probably still all asleep. We aren't exactly known for being early risers."
"What about you?"
He shrugged, "Couldn't sleep."
She swallowed as she took that in, unsure what to do now. She played with her hemline, taking in the snowy material before scowling. Her clothes had been soot-stained and filthy. This nightdress wasn't hers, in fact she was positive she'd never owned anything like it – with its silk panels and floral embroidery at the cuffs. Her heartbeat whirled in her ears, suddenly tense in the quiet of the morning.
"I didn't touch you, if that's what you're thinking. I'm not interested in younglings."
She spun on her heel to face him.
"I'm not a youngling." She protested weakly, though in the back of her mind she realized she was fixated on the wrong thing. "We're probably the same age."
He barked a laugh at that, loud as it echoed off the walls. She flinched at the mirth plastered across his visage, as if he was in on some private joke. "We definitely aren't."
He looked at her then, his gaze a long caress as he scanned her slowly from head to toe – taking in the soft curves and long limbs. His dark eyes flashed up to hers – glittering shards of obsidian, though his sclera were clearly visible, more human than she'd expected.
"Though I suppose human hatchlings grow faster than ours."
She shivered, crossing her arms over her chest even as she lifted her chin at his smug grin.
"If it wasn't you, then how do you explain these clothes?" She bristled, tugging at the dress in frustration.
"My sister was worried when you passed out, so she checked you over. Must have had you changed when she healed you." He wrinkled his nose, his gaze steady on her side. Lucy fidgeted at the attention. He noticed her movements and gestured to her ribs. "She said you were bruised all over. Was that… did you get them during the fire?"
She ducked her head away from him, letting her fingers glide over the injury only to find the tenderness had grown fainter. "It was nothing like that, it happened before then."
She heard shuffling from his place by the window, peeking through her flaxen tangles to find him walk a bit closer. His hands were still in his pockets, but she could now see an assortment of newly healed scars decorating his skin.
He stopped when he was a few feet away, close to the chamber doors. The light glinted off his feathery locks, pale silver where the sun rays hit it just right. He looked nothing like the beaten and bloodied creature that she had first seen – nothing like the draconic fugitive who had spirited her away.
"What happened?" His voice was soft, concerned. She found herself wanting to answer him – the sound acting like a salve for her frayed nerves. Her mind spun as she thought it over, feeling the phantom bite of her father's hand as it struck her time and time again. She thought of that cursed study where she'd cried out, wanting nothing more than to escape to her room where Flare would be able to…
They say he killed seven soldiers by himself. Their conversation that night came rushing back to her. She hadn't been convinced, the stranger had claimed to be defending himself.
Lucy took a step back, and his brows furrowed as he canted his head to the side at her reaction.
And you believe him? Her handmaid had asked her. The blonde had, but that was before her home had been scorched to ashes.
"Hey, you okay?" He called out to her, his lips turned down as he watched the emotions play across her face. There was worry in his countenance – sincerity.
Beware their voice and silvered tongues.
"I'm fine." She bit out, looking anywhere but at him as her attention returned to the towering bluffs they were perched upon. "Why am I here?"
He straightened, pulling his hands free as his frown deepened. "I told you, you passed out and you were hurt so I—"
She cut him off, her pulse racing as she wiped her sweaty palms on her clothes. "Why here? A doctor in Bosco would have done just fine, the capital is full of them."
She couldn't read his expression. His slate eyes were shadowed, half hidden by his bangs once more.
He paused for a moment before answering.
"Is that the thanks I get, for saving you?" He murmured, the words coming out thick and raspy.
Lucy recoiled, guilt warring with indignation within her. He was the reason she had needed help in the first place. She had no idea what had happened after they fled, if her friends and family were okay. She had no idea where she was or how to get back to them – no one had ever come back from beyond the Edge.
"Thank you, for destroying my home and stealing me away." She threw back, hot stinging tears threatening to spill over her cheeks.
There was silence.
She breathed heavily as she watched his jaw tighten. He ground his teeth, hands fisting tightly as he glared at her – his dark irises flashing to jade so fast she thought she might have imagined it.
"If that's what you think, then you shouldn't have stopped the whip."
Lucy flinched at the menace underlining his words as he snarled at her, the echo of the leather slicing across his skin still fresh in her memory. She didn't answer – couldn't answer, but he took her silence as confirmation.
He sneered at her, eyes drawn before he turned to the door and yanked it open. He stepped out, pausing just long enough to meet her eyes.
"I should have let you burn."
With that, he slammed the door shut behind him.
She had tried the handle shortly after he left, not sure where she was going but determined not to stay there like some animal caught in a cage. She'd bolted down the hallway when the door gave way.
She passed several other rooms before turning to an open courtyard in the center of the building. It was a massive green space, larger than the great hall of her father's palace and open to the sky above. She could see the wrap-around balcony to the upper levels clearly, held up by ornate ivory spindles carved from the stone, just as her chamber had been. The railings had large gaps every few yards, as if making way for stairs but none were to be discovered.
After a quick exploration of the remainder of the floor, she could find no flights of steps to the higher stories. If the display of wings she'd seen from her window that morning was any indication, there weren't going to be any.
Despair gripped he as she realized there was no way out – or rather none she could use. Even the entrance hall she'd found spilled onto a suspended platform, no bridge to attach it to the city beyond. She'd sat on the tiled pavers of the terrace, her knees drawn to her chest as she looked down to the various shops and buildings, searching for a way out or a way down to the shoreline far below. She could see a cluster of boats by a dock, busy with fisherman as well as slippery creatures that seemed to melt into the waves.
There were Others everywhere she looked. Some could pass as human while others were more obviously marked by blue skin, tails, or horns. She'd even seen someone emerge from the shadows as some darkened spectral, and another shift form from a woman to a large bird with emerald plumes.
She stayed seated there, the stone warm against her naked toes until she felt her stomach rumbling. She gathered herself up, brushing off her shift – suddenly self-conscious of the thin garment. She sighed and headed off in the direction of the room she'd woken in, hoping to find something more acceptable before she set out in search of food.
The door was still open like she'd left it as she padded her way in, the bright room feeling less cheerful than it had before her earlier confrontation with the Other who had brought her here. She explored the dresser first, finding spare sheets and random knickknacks, including a set of silver filigreed combs. She set those aside before going to the commodore in the corner, opening it wide.
Inside were a few dusty coats and pants. She scrunched her nose, finding nothing fit for a woman. She considered checking the other rooms she had passed, remembering mention of a sister, but the fear of running into him again stopped her in her tracks. She exhaled through her nose, shifting through the options before she found something acceptable.
She selected a cornflower blue robe with a mandarin collar – pewter frog knot fastenings running from neck to navel. It was sleeveless and fell midway down her calves, the slits on either side and down the middle starting high on her thighs. The garment was loose around her abdomen and shoulders, but fit snuggly at her chest and hips. She dug around in the drawers until she found a pale sash to cinch around her midriff.
Her legs were uncomfortably bare, the long expanse of her skin evident. She tried a pair of billowing ivory pants underneath, but they kept slipping down and dragged several inches past her feet. Eventually she managed to rip off the bottom of the legs so they settled by her ankles, pulling up the waistband so it could be held fast by the sash she'd found. She examined herself in the mirror, satisfied by the coverage – though the attire was foreign, she felt appropriately dressed. She didn't bother probing for shoes, knowing they would be too big regardless.
Reaching for the combs she'd left at the dresser, she seated herself back on the bed, sinking into the mattress as she tucked her legs beneath her. She worked diligently, parting her hair into small chunks before running the teeth through it, wincing slightly at the deep knots. She wished she could take a bath first, but there wasn't a washroom attached to the chamber and she wasn't willing to go looking for one. She considered herself lucky to have escaped notice when she'd thoughtlessly ventured out earlier.
Lucy was halfway through when the door creaked open once more. She jumped, the comb held tightly between her fingers – knuckles stiff and white. She whirled at the noise, her senses on high alert as a figure slipped into the middle of the room. She was ready to scream, to back away from the Other, but she paused in her tracks – still seated on the bed.
It wasn't who she had expected.
Standing among the white sheepskins was a slender young woman, her long tresses falling past the small of her back. Shorter pieces framed her pixie-like face, and two ties sat above her rounded ears. She was barefoot like the man had been, and Lucy considered that perhaps shoes would be harder to secure than she initially thought.
The girl didn't immediately look Other, the spark of danger was absent – instead a tranquil aura filled the space between them, warming the blonde's bones and steadying her erratic heart. She knew her guard should be up, she'd been suspicious of their thrall just that morning, but she couldn't seem to work it up – there was kindness in that smile, in those wide eyes watching her.
"You must be our guest." The girl's voice was melodic, lulling her into calm. Lucy nodded, setting down her comb. "What's your name?"
"Lucy." She offered, playing with the hem of her robe. She was rewarded by a happy grin and a tinkling laugh.
"That's a pretty name." The young woman replied, taking a few steps to bounce onto the mattress herself. The blonde raised her eyebrow at that but stayed quiet when she saw a seriousness settle on the other girl's features. "My brother told me you helped him, when he was captured."
Lucy bit her lip, her spine going ram rode straight. So, this must be the sister who had healed her. The princess considered how to answer, not wanting to offend the Other, especially after that disastrous encounter with her sibling.
"I didn't do much…" She trailed off when she saw the woman shaking her head.
"You stopped them from hurting him, and I can't thank you enough for that kindness." The Other disagreed. A slender hand reached out, grasping Lucy's and giving it a squeeze. The blonde swallowed thickly, shifting her gaze to her lap.
He had told his sister that she'd helped him. Why would he do that? What could they gain from playing on her emotions?
The girl spoke again after a minute of silence.
"I know you must be upset, the rescue mission had gotten out of hand but that wasn't the intention. We just wanted Natsu back safe and sound."
Lucy looked up at that, canting her head to the side.
The young woman nodded, the corner of her lips turning up wryly. "My brother. There had been more of our kinfolk down in the cells with him and he was angry. The fire was meant to be a distraction to allow the rest to get out safely, but he's never been one to do things halfway."
Lucy thought of the broken ramparts, the torched tapestries, and the heavy smog in the hallways – they certainly hadn't shown restraint. She raised her chin, mindful not to let it wobble as she thought of her home.
"I had been trapped by the blaze, our men probably had been too."
The Other shook her head once more, confusing the blonde.
"Natsu can wield flame as easily as he can breathe. He's destructive yes, but the fire was out before he left the bounds of the city."
Lucy started at that, she hadn't known the blaze had been put out. If he could control it, then why had he taken her? Why not smother the embers and leave her there for the guards to find?
Despiter her reservations, his words from that morning came jarring back to her.
You were bruised all over…
Thought you could do with some beauty rest…
I told you, you passed out and you were hurt so I…
She grimaced, her brows meeting in the middle as she remembered his first words to her the night before – how his dark eyes had peered right through her.
You're the one from dinner. The one who made him stop.
Was it gratitude that led him to spare her? Had he really been concerned – it was clear that their medicine was more advanced than what her own kingdom possessed. If he had been sincere, then she had been cruel. Lucy fisted her hand, her nails digging sharply into her palm as her stomach lurched as she weighed his actions against everything she had been taught about the creatures that lived beyond the Edge.
None of it added up. She didn't know what to believe – the evidence she'd seen with her own eyes conflicting.
"You don't have to worry about any of that right now though. I was just stopping by to make sure you had everything you needed, but it seems like you made due on your own." The woman chuckled, her eyes running over the outfit Lucy had cobbled together.
The blonde blushed, tugging at her sash. "Sorry, I just wanted something to cover up."
Her visitor brushed the comment aside with a flap of her hand. "It's no trouble at all, though I'll be sure to send something more fitting over with a friend. However, it is getting quite late, I would assume Natsu didn't have the foresight to bring you breakfast?"
Lucy's stomach growled at the mention of food. "It um, didn't come up." She muttered, red climbing up her cheeks.
"I thought as much. You sit tight, I'll be right back!" She chimed happily, launching herself off the bed and skipping to the far side of the room.
Th blonde pushed herself up as well, sliding to the ground as she called out, "Wait, but I still have…"
She trailed off, her mouth agape as the young woman turned away from the door and headed to one of the tall windows instead. She spun around with a wink before stepping backwards into the open sky.
The last thing she saw of the girl was a flash of white before she disappeared between the sheer curtains.
"Questions…" Lucy finished lamely, staring wide eyed at the empty room before her.
So that was a long hiatus guys - so sorry! This story will now be updated more quickly since I managed to get a fair bit of editing done in the last couple of weeks. I really hope you all enjoyed it, and that it was worth the wait!
This is a short fic that I wrote as a birthday present for my friend MorriganFae! She actually wrote me a Fairy Tail Fairy Tale AU as well based off of Cinderella. You've GOT to check it out! It's called "If the Shoe Fits".
I would love to hear what you think of the story so far, and any questions or comments you might have. I always make a point to respond. I would also like to take a moment to thank everyone who has followed, favourited, or reviewed this story! Thank you so much for supporting The Edge, I was in awe of the response given to its debut!
I want to give a special thanks to all my reviewers as well. You're the ones who keep me going! Thank you to NatsuHeartfilia0628, mumof4, miamu-chan, Bpaige90, Rroxz, Deborahpflover, ThayetJade, AS86, Daisy73, bahall1964, Mihiwera, frolicfairy, prettygirlbunny, prettygirlbunny, JustSomething, JustSomething, iizzye, bloodstone38, YukiMC, Valythe, Gwenidith, DreamWeaver2121, AzmariaMinohi, MotherOfDragons1227, Nalufan0829, Bakers28, nikkiw67, firelover11, notjustanyfangrl, Mezatron, BeachBumBabe, stranger1999, Leomae2.0, RiddlerShade, tonialla, JacJac-Arie, FNAFFRENZYCAT, CelestialZeroxx, NovareRes27, waiting-for-you443, and of course the birthday girl herself MorriganFae.
The Edge will be back in Green, in the meantime, feel free to check out my other stories, and for those of you who are waiting on BP, don't worry! It's on its way, just had to make a few adjustments in light of the first few chapters of the sequel FT100!
PS: Find me on Tumblr or Twitter for the latest on my stories and spamming reblogs of Fairy Tail content. Same username ^.^