7 – Aurora – Gratsulu Week 2018 Prompt "Fantasy"
*Beta-ed by the fabulous MorriganFae *
A rocking chair sat in the corner of the room. There was an oak dresser pushed against the wall on the opposite side of the crib. A chest of toys, put away for the night, rested beneath a bay window, framed by snowy lace curtains. It was a small space, quaint with light cream walls – exactly what you'd expect of a baby's bedroom.
The pièce-de-résistance was the midnight expanse painted across the ceiling. Hundreds of stars dotted the heavens, strings of constellations hanging above the nursery in brilliant gold flecks. Lucy beamed as she glanced up at it, her eyes tracing along the familiar shapes of the zodiacs.
It had been commissioned shortly after she'd had the baby, when it became apparent that their daughter was going to take after her mother. Her boys had come up with the idea together, taking it to Reedus in secret while their new town-home on the outskirts of Magnolia was being renovated. That has been a surprise too, when they'd dragged her to it instead of their canal apartment when she came home from the hospital.
Lucy's grip on the bundle in her arms tightened reflexively as she peered down at the small frame of her thirteen-month-old, cooing softly as she sat cross legged on the ground.
The little girl's pale, periwinkle night frock was hiked up to her chubby thighs, one sock dangling on her foot, while the other was lying abandoned on the cotton rug below them. A pudgy fist was jammed at her mouth as she sucked her thumb, a habit Lucy and Gray had tried to break her of. Natsu, finding it utterly adorable, had reversed all their hard work by encouraging her to do it more.
Lucy sighed at that. When she got older, their daughter would have both her fathers wrapped around her pinkies. Not that she could blame them, the toddler was like her very own fairy doll – all bright hazel eyes, and curls of fine platinum blonde hair. Though admittedly, she had been sleep-deprived for most of the past year, and had to deal with the trials and tribulations of diaper duty, teething, and crying fits for no discernible reason...but it had been manageable. Easy even, in comparison to the nightmare stories she'd heard from Levy about her twins.
She assumed it had to do with numbers. While Gajeel and the blunette had to juggle two rambunctious boys, she had the great fortune of sharing parenting duties with both her partners. Their daughter was as mild-mannered as Lucy had been at that age, though month by month, it became apparent that she had inherited a mischievous streak from her fathers. She credited that more to nurture than nature.
Speaking of which, she sincerely hoped that Gray and Natsu hadn't destroyed the kitchen in the time she'd left them alone. She'd prepped dinner earlier, but the boys had promised to clean up and put away the dishes. They had been placed under the strict supervision of Happy to not flood the sink because it doesn't matter if he started it Gray, you do not need to freeze the pipes!
She would rather be on bedtime duty anyway, enjoying the nightly routine she'd developed with her daughter when it was her turn to put the baby to sleep. After Lucy had published her first trilogy of novels, The Adventures of Iris, she'd begun dabbling with other genres. When she'd found out she was pregnant, she'd turned her attention to children's books and fairy tales. Nowadays, her daughter had become the unofficial sounding board as she read snippets of her drafts.
Lucy shifted slightly, leaning against the plump peony floor cushions instead of sitting in the rocker so that she could lay her manuscript on the carpet before her. Leafing through the pages to find where she left off, she absently hummed a lullaby as the child on her lap babbled happily in nonsensical sounds.
"Aha, found it. Ready for story time, Aurora?" She asked, her voice lilting in a rhythmic melody. "Yeah? We love story-time, don't we? Yes, we do." Lucy repeated, bouncing her daughter as she giggled happily, nuzzling the top of her silky fair hair before pecking her on her button nose. The little girl was evidence that the Heartfilia genes ran true, only a few unique features preventing her from looking like Lucy's carbon copy.
Aurora smiled toothily, her eyes bright as she looked up at her mother. Her irises were a unique mix of hazel – a ring of dark butterscotch broken by flecks of seafoam and ribbons of slate on the edges – a serendipitous blend of both her fathers. It occasionally led to some uncomfortable paternity questions from some snooping strangers or out-of-towners, but they had learned to dismiss them. They weren't about to let some ignoramus saunter up and stick their nose where it didn't belong.
Of course, the signs were there if one knew where to look – but those who knew their little family best also knew better than to ask. After all, the trio couldn't care less about biological parentage.
They meant it too.
Lucy was certain that Gray and Natsu would both kill before they let anyone hurt a single lock on Rori's little head. When asked, both would respond as her fathers whether they were out with Lucy, on their own, or with each other. They knew that in this regard, they were lucky – that they were so free to be open. The locals knew them, and their reputations preceded them elsewhere – so it was rare for anyone to give them trouble. Snide comments weren't well tolerated by any of them, and even Lucy was known to mete out punishment if someone crossed a line to insult her partners or her child.
If that wasn't enough, any idiots who dared disrespect them behind their backs would find the full weight of the guild's fury fall upon them.
Death-wish seekers weren't welcomed in Magnolia, especially at Fairy Tail. Usually it only took Natsu lighting up a fist or Gray forging a blade of ice for them to scatter. As for Lucy… she had perfected The Glare™ – the one only a mother could dole out. Smugly, she would sometimes rub it into her partners faces that she needn't use her magic at all to silence any would-be critics.
Momma-wrath was a stupendous, beautiful thing.
It was with that in mind that Lucy had spun her latest fantasy: a tale of a small princess' adventures as she set out in the world, protected by a misfit guard that included a dragon and a winter knight. Like her original novels, the children's book borrowed elements from her own life, specifically the characters. At the moment, the intrepid explorers had just left a mermaid lagoon, where a blue-haired water sprite had befriended the winter knight. She had sent them on their way with a healing draught for emergencies, knowing they faced the king of the underworld at their journey's end.
"The three heroes made their way across the grassy plain, their eyes fixed on the ominous castle looming on the horizon…" Lucy read, her voice soft as her daughter burrowed deeper into her arms, her head resting at the crook of her mother's neck. One tiny arm looped behind her, little fingers grasping at the hair at the nape. The other was predictably still at her mouth as she nursed her thumb sluggishly. Lucy kept a close eye on the drowsy toddler, hawk-like attention focused on signs of sleep.
Aurora was quiet through the reading, occasionally making monosyllabic remarks, as if she understood the story. Though precocious, the small child was more likely captivated by the illustrations than actual comprehension, but Lucy didn't let that stop her from enjoying their nightly routine.
"Emerging from the dense fog of the foothills, the dragon turned to the knight and—"
"—burned him to a crisp because dragons are so much better than some wussy snow pixie." Natsu interrupted, his voice full of mirth as he dropped down beside them, leaving the door open for Gray to walk in more sedately. The noirette rolled his eyes, falling into the cushions as well as he extended his hand to tuck a stray lock behind Aurora's ear.
"She was almost asleep too." Lucy groaned, pouting at the pair. They grinned in response but said nothing in apology.
Her shoulders hunched over as the little girl immediate perked up, the lethargy slipping from her features as she squealed in delight and grabbed at her father's retreating fingers. "Da!"
"Hey Snowpea, you think that big old dragon is stupid, don't you? The ice knight is much cooler." Gray asked her, voice soft as he watched her attempt to gnaw on his index, only withdrawing when she bit too hard – tweaking her nose in retaliation. His dark eyes twinkled when Natsu huffed beside him, the pinkette reaching to grab the toddler from under her arms, hoisting her out of Lucy's lap.
He bounced her up twice before settling her on his knee, reclining backwards so his daughter was sprawled over his torso. His partners shifted to either side of him, Lucy leaning on his shoulder, while Gray threw his arm behind the dragon slayer's neck.
"What do you think baby girl? Which one do you think is stronger?" Natsu purred, the sound rumbling through his chest, making her giggle as she pulled at his bright locks.
She ran her pudgy hands across his face, squishing his cheeks. "Papa," she gurgled as she poked at his skin. He crowed at that, sticking his tongue out at the man beside him childishly.
"Hear that, Popsicle breath? I'm stronger." He needled, his canines visible as he smirked, dark eyes squinted in glee. Gray scoffed, thumping him on the back of his head.
"We were talking about fictional characters idiot, I heard no such thing. You're just confusing her because you're holding her. Give her to me!" Gray complained, trying to swipe the toddler from his partner's arms while the other man leaned away from him. They play fought, swatting at each other's arms while Aurora was lifted in the air – away from potential injury. She hung there happily, sucking on her fist as she watched her dads with wide hazel eyes.
They both looked up when the baby was whisked away as Lucy gathered her back into her lap, rocking the girl against her shoulder in a cradling movement. "Ignore your daddies Rori, we think the princess should save herself, don't we?" She asked her daughter, arching her brow as she looked at her partners pointedly.
They were tangled up together – Gray stretching the pinkette's mouth open, narrowly avoiding the sharp incisors that will cut you – while Natsu had his foot planted firmly on the ice mage's abdomen. They had the decency to look halfway sheepish, as they glanced over at their two favourite girls. They separated before leaning over her so they could see their daughter's face – her eyelids finally sagging as she lolled her head on Lucy's shoulder.
Gray cleared his throat, peering over at them fondly. "That's true, she probably ends up saving them half the time anyway."
Natsu nods in agreement, weaving a marble of flame between his fingers absently. "At least half the time. They'd get up to all sorts of trouble without her."
Lucy grinned at that, glad to find them playing along. They had grown so much from how they were when they first met – all those years ago.
"They balance each other out, it's what makes them such a good team." She whispered, loud enough for them to hear, but not enough to disturb the baby clinging to her.
"A hell of a good team." Gray murmured, fingers stretching out to trace the bridge of her nose. She squirmed away, ticklish, but there was amusement glimmering in her honeyed eyes.
"Wouldn't change a damn thing." Natsu chortled, voice rough and low. He leaned forward, taking in the closing eyes of his slumbering daughter before murmuring, "C'mere, sleeping beauty."
Aurora made a soft sound of displeasure at being jostled but settled happily into him as he cradled her to his chest. She snuggled close, basking in his natural heat. He rose on his haunches, and then found his feet carefully, rocking softly until the small child was down for the count.
The dragon slayer padded to the crib silently, placing her gently on the powder blue sheets. Their baby girl didn't stir, burrowing into the blanket Gray draped over her. The light lacrima had already been dimmed, casting the room in pale starlight, a mobile of fairies hovering overhead to guard her in her sleep.
They smiled as they watched their daughter snuggle further into her covers. It was strange to consider they had only had her for a little over a year now – unable to imagine life without her. She had become such a permanent fixture to their lives – the missing piece to their family they hadn't realized they needed. Desired. Craved.
Lucy leaned down, picking up her manuscript as her fingers dusted over the crisp edges of the pages. She traced over the words lovingly, her eyes flickering over to her partners standing beside her, meeting the warmth in their gaze.
The knight, the dragon, and the princess. It may have confused some, but it was their own slice of happily ever after. After all they had been through – for all they had fought for, loved, and lost – it had been worth it for this moment, here and now.
Their family was worth it.
And they wouldn't change a thing.
And that's a wrap!
I hope you enjoyed my little fic about Gray, Lucy, and Natsu! I'd also like to say thank you sooo much to those of you who reviewed, followed, favourited or PMed me! I really appreciate your support. If you want to chat, but feel uncomfortable posting a review, feel free to message me instead or use the anonymous review feature :)
General Gratsulu Note: Thanks to those of you joining me on this little Gratsulu side adventure! Don't worry, I still adore Nalu, and have fics in the works for them, but I like this ship as well. If you have any questions or concerns, please let me know! I love feedback, and always make a point to respond. However, please remember to be polite. I am happy to accept constructive criticism, but if you just don't like the pairing, please just feel free to skip it and I won't be offended. I have a couple other Nalu stories in the works if you prefer those.
*Fun fact: Aurora was named for the northern lights because of their connections to astronomy and Lucy's affinity to the night sky. She was also named because of their colourful nature with hues of greens, pinks and blues which meld her three parents together well. Plus, they are found at both the north and south polls, and Natsu and Gray are 'polar' opposites. As for her parentage, I left it open ended on purpose so you can decide on your own. If you are really dying to know, you can ask.