Happy New Year's everyone! I hope that your holidays went well, and weren't as crazy as mine. It's been a roller coaster of a year for me, but I'd like to think I made the best of it! Thank you all for sticking with this story while me and my Gopher tried to make ends meet with the little time we had. And so, without further adieu, the last chapter of "The Astrologist"!
Warning- Yeah, I had my gopher crying at the end of this...so...tissues may be needed.
Disclaimer- The only reason I would steal these characters as my own is to save them from Zeref!
Chapter 17- A Voice From the Past
Lucy liked to think it was hard to pull the wool over her eyes. She had a knack for figuring out things before most of her friends. Once they were almost able to sneak a surprise birthday party under her nose, but she discovered a clue left behind. Sometimes she didn't let them know how good her detective skills were. Other times, she couldn't keep herself from spilling the beans. No matter what the secret, Lucy had a tendency to get the truth with ease.
But for once, she was stumped.
Erza and Levy had made it pretty clear that there was something going on behind her back. Her short friend had been avoiding her ever since Lisanna's birthday party, and Erza kept herself busy with "tasks given to her by the master". Lucy tried to get information out of Mira, but the bartender turned her away with a simple wink. It seemed like everyone knew what was going on except her! It was enough to make the woman drink, if she wasn't so busy.
Even if the two were standing right in front of her, it wasn't like Lucy had much time to interrogate. First, she had been volunteered to help Juvia move all of her stuff into Gray's house. Three days after Lisanna's birthday, Lucy was woken up to her phone ringing and Juvia's loud cries of excitement. Gray had finally gotten around to asking Juvia to move in with him, to which Juvia obviously said yes. If anyone thought she was going to deny him, Lucy would probably get their heads examined. At the bar, Gajeel seemed fine with the plan, and even offered to help the excited woman pack up and move. Lucy was sure there was more to this 'helping hand' than Gajeel was letting on, but who was she to ruin Juvia's spirits? Instead, Lucy simply congratulated Gray, elbowing him with a smirk when she saw his cheeks redden.
It was quite obvious from way Gray constantly kept his arm around Juvia's waist that they had finally had sex. Lucy gave him a knowing look, and the blonde was presented with a rare grin from the stoic man. Yup, they definitely knocked boots more than once. Another happy couple Lucy could mark down in her book! Lucy was thrilled for her friends doing so well, but she didn't quite remember why she was the one doing all the heavy lifting with Gray and Gajeel. She had asked the group where Natsu was, expecting some pointless excuse to get him out of moving duty. So when Gray told her he was with Jellal at the jewelry store, she nearly dropped the china she was carrying.
The two men had been spending way more time together lately. Though Lucy had been told about Jellal practically asking Natsu for Erza's hand in marriage, she never expected the two to become such fast friends. Jellal was a mature, quiet soul that seemed to dislike disorder. Natsu thought destruction was his middle name! Yet for some reason, Natsu had been tailing the blue haired man whenever it involved engagement issues. She doubted that Natsu knew much about rings, but it almost made sense that he would go. He had known Erza for quite some time, and the two truly were like siblings. Jellal may have had the eye for fine jewelry, but Natsu would help him pick out something that was made for the bride-to-be.
If the move wasn't distracting enough, Lucy also got a whole new set of clients. Lisanna visited regularly, as well as Cana and Kinana. Evergreen had her fair share of appearances, though it was more to complain about Elfman's heathen ways than any real problems. Then there was a friend of Mira's named Yukino, a shy Capricorn who came from a completely different bar. How the heck was Lucy supposed to pair Yukino up when she hadn't met a single guy from her group?! These new prospects brought a whole new set of obstacles, Lucy trying her best to keep up with everything. She had thought that the summer ending would slow down her business; yet she was practically glued to the table now! And then there was her job at the bar...
All of her juggling of responsibility hardly gave her time to see Natsu. He seemed to be understanding, which was somewhat surprising to Lucy. Though he made a sexual pass at her every day (which normally resulted in some fantastic sex later that night), Natsu had been occupying himself somehow. She really wasn't sure with what. Maybe helping out with Jellal's proposal was his way of distracting himself? Despite their busy lives, Natsu made it a point to walk Lucy home from the bar. The walk was short, but it always relaxed Lucy to have the quiet time alone with Natsu. And having a cuddle buddy at night was always a bonus when the weather started to get colder.
"I'm sorry, Lucy, but I don't think I can help you." And yet, despite everything going on, Lucy couldn't get the secret out of her head. Lucy groaned as she hit her head on her table, Lisanna giving her shoulder a sympathetic rub. "Maybe you were just imagining things? Levy and Erza seem pretty normal to me."
"I'm telling you, something's going on behind my back. I can just feel it," Lucy mumbled into the wood, pouting. Lisanna rested her elbow on the table and sighed, her head tilting in her hand.
"It's not like those two would hide something bad from you; they're your best friends." Well, Lisanna had a point there. Levy and Erza were the closest things to sisters she had, and she knew that they'd never do something to harm her.
"Maybe I just need a day to get away from the bar. I could just be overworked." Lisanna's eyes lit up at the idea, grasping Lucy's hands in her own.
"Maybe you should come with me to the spa on Saturday; I've got two tickets to go, and Mira already went with Laxus last week. I've been looking for someone to come with me!" Lucy blinked at the offer, feeling her shoulders unwind at the pleasant idea. When was the last time Lucy took some time away? She tried to think back, but she couldn't remember a time that didn't revolve around work or her friend's love issues. It wasn't to say she hated her job; taking Mira's offer was one of the best choices she made. Still, Fairy Tail could really drain the life out of her!
"You don't think Mira would mind me going?" Lisanna shook her head quickly at Lucy's hesitation.
"No way! Now with the colder weather coming, we're getting less business at the bar. Kinana and Mira can hold down the fort for one day, right? And I thought she told you that you were forbidden to step foot in Fairy Tail this weekend anyways?"
"Well, that's true..." Mira had insisted that Lucy take the Saturday off. The older woman was worried that Lucy was running herself thin, and that without a full day off, she would collapse. Lucy had been tossing the idea around for days, though none of her friends were available to hang out. Juvia and Gray planned to have their first date night at their new home, and Gajeel had told Lucy that Levy was his for the night. She would have asked Erza to hang out, but the red head had been avoiding her. With none of her friends free, Lucy had almost told Mira she'd rather work instead of being stuck home alone. Now, with Lisanna's offer, the night off was sounding tempting.
"Besides, we'll be back by 7pm, so we can swing by Fairy Tail afterwards and check on everything. Sound like a plan?"
"Yeah, that really does sound good!" Lucy's spirits were lifted at the idea of a spa day, making her giggle with her short haired friend. "I guess I'll tell Mira not to expect to see me at all Saturday."
"That's the spirit, Lucy!" The girls shared a friendly smile, and Lucy felt a little bit closer to Lisanna. It was nice to get to know more of the bar regulars, and she owed it all to her astrology readings. Without them, Lucy wasn't sure how her life would have turned out. All she knew was that she would never want to find out.
Their attention was dragged away by a group of whistles, Lucy's interest instantly peaked. Glancing across the bar, Lucy felt her eyes widen when she caught a glimpse of Erza. Only, it wasn't the normal Erza she was used to seeing. Wearing a flowy white dress, Erza Scarlet looked like she could get every man in the bar to eat from the palm of her hand. Her white heels clicked across the hardwood floor, fiery red hair in waves down her back. She stopped at the little astrology table, sending a uneasy smile toward the two girls gaping at her.
"Good evening," Erza greeted, trying to push her puffy bangs out of her face.
"Erza, you look beautiful," Lucy complimented, smiling at her nervous friend's blush.
"I'm guessing that you're not just dressing up to impress us, right?" Lisanna teased. Erza quickly shook her head, exposing the pretty pearls adorning her ears.
"Jellal is taking me to dinner tonight at the Seaport Marina, and asked me to meet him here."
"Oh wow, Erza! That place is impossible to get into; I heard their wait list is over a month long." Lisanna wasn't exaggerating, either. The food there was top notch, and expensive. Lucy was pretty sure she could pay her rent for the same price as a dinner for two! Now she knew who to ask to borrow money from in a pinch.
"I only went once when I was a child, but I remember the place was beautiful. It's got a balcony over the cliffs near the ocean; you're going to love it!" Lucy gushed, feeling herself get excited for her friend.
"You two are making me feel underdressed." To emphasis her point, she glanced down at her dress and smoothed the skirt of it with her hands. The moment of self-consciousness disappeared when a smooth voice entered the conversation.
"I think you look beautiful, Erza." Jellal didn't hesitate to dress to impress. His black suit was form fitting and suave, yet classy enough not to come off as a show-off. He bowed his head to Lucy and Lisanna in greeting, but his eyes never strayed from the woman he loved. "Sorry for making you meet here; I had to drop off-"
"Erza's wearing heels?!" Natsu's loud shout cut off Jellal, who quickly blushed when the shorter man jumped between the two lovers. A vein instantly popped in Erza's forehead as Natsu danced around her, seeming unable to believe what he was seeing. "And is that a purse? Erza owns a purse?! I thought she just owned pointy things to beat me and Gray up with."
"Nat-Natsu," Lucy said, trying to warn the clueless man of the impending doom he was casting upon himself.
"Erza wears skirts all the time; I don't know why you're so shocked," Lisanna added, rolling her eyes at her old friend's behavior. Natsu glanced back at the dress, his eyes big as he stared.
"...But she never looks girly-" That was that moment Erza's fist connected with Natsu's head, slamming the man straight into the ground. Both girls at the table tensed, while Jellal only sighed and shook his head. It was scene he had seen many times during high school.
"Shall we go, Jellal?" Her composure was calm as she stepped on Natsu's back, her heel using the lean body as a push off point. Natsu groaned at the added pain, but stayed on the ground as the couple exchanged goodbyes with Lisanna and Lucy. The astrologist shook her head as she glanced back down at her boyfriend, who only pushed himself off the floor when Erza and Jellal were out of sight.
"What's wrong with you, Natsu?" Lucy asked, her scowl clearly showing her lack of appreciation for his childish antics. He sent her a grin as he snagged a free seat, turning it so the back rested against his chest. His arms rested on the top of the chair, his smile only growing with Lucy's narrowed gaze.
"I was helping out Jellal, that poor sap." Well that wasn't what she was expecting to hear. Tilting her head, Natsu shrugged as he rested his head on his arms. "He's asking her to marry him tonight."
"No way!" Lisanna shouted, Natsu nodding enthusiastically.
"Yup, but he's been shaking all day. He knew that Erza would probably catch onto his nerves from a mile away, so he needed something to distract her. Once he had something to start the night's conversation, Jellal knew he'd calm down."
"So you decided to put your life on the line by making fun of what Erza was wearing?" Lucy shook her head when Natsu nodded again, giving the girls a thumbs up.
"You bet! We've put too much into our preparations for a little bit of nerves to ruin them."
"Don't you think you're taking a little bit too much credit?" Lucy asked, rolling her eyes. "You're making it sound like you're both proposing."
"You never know, Lucy; Natsu may have already picked out your ring." Lisanna seemed to enjoy the way Lucy's blush scorched her cheeks, the embarrassed blonde missing the sideways glance from her quiet boyfriend.
"W-Wh-What are you talking a-about? Why wou-would he have a ring?!" Lisanna shrugged at Lucy's stammering, turning her attention to the distracted guy at the table.
"By the way, do you mind if I take your lover girl to a spa Saturday?" He perked up at the question, sending Lisanna a wary look. Lucy squeaked at the nickname, wondering if she should correct Lisanna. Natsu seemed to be in no rush, though he did have a displeased look on his face. Lisanna waved at his scowl, returning her head to her hand. "Relax, it won't be all day. We'll be back for 7pm. Lucy just needs a day to get rid of her stress and put her in a good mood. What better way to do that than a spa day with me?"
"I really do need the mini vacation," Lucy added, hoping to sell the idea to Natsu. She knew that she didn't need his approval; if she wanted to go then she was old enough to make that decision for herself. Still, she didn't want to get into a fight over it before she left.
"You sure this isn't an all night thing?" Natsu asked slowly, Lisanna nodding while Lucy blinked.
"Wait, do we have plans that night?"
"You told me we'd get drinks and some grub at Fairy Tail after I got out of that mandatory work training?" Oh, right! Lucy had forgotten that she had asked Natsu to hang out, only for him to turn her down. Really, what job made mandatory things on the weekends? She was going to have to talk to his supervisor! But at least he tried to make a compromise with a late night date.
"We'll be back by seven, so that shouldn't ruin your plans. Besides, she'll be nice and relaxed for your plans that night," Lisanna supplied, hoping to sell the idea to Natsu. Lucy wondered if Lisanna was trying to be suggestive with her comment, though it didn't seem sexual. Either way it caught Natsu's attention, the slouched guy giving them both a nod.
"Then yeah, go for it! After all the hard work this summer, you deserve it, Luce." And from the proud look he gave her, Lucy knew he meant it. Since day one, Natsu had been the biggest supporter of 'Project Layla'. If not for him, Lucy wasn't even sure she would have had the courage to keep going. Feeling her stomach warm at the thought, Lucy reached over to grasp one of Natsu's hands. He seemed to predict her move, already opening his fingers to lace with hers. She glanced back up at him, his smile making her blush return.
"Sometimes you two make me jealous." The pair glanced back to Lisanna, who was sighing as she pushed out of her seat. "Why can't I get a love story like that?"
"You will, don't sweat it Lisanna," Natsu answered, sending his old friend a confident nod. "Just let Lucy guide you, and you'll find your prince charming. Won't be as good as me, but..."
"Aren't you the modest one?" Lucy teased, Natsu laughing while the two stood up.
"You almost done? I want to go home and eat some food." To emphasize, Natsu rubbed his belly and tried to puff out the lean stomach.
"Lisanna was my last client, so I guess I'm free to leave."
"Don't forget, Lucy. Saturday, meet at my house for 9am." Lucy nodded as she waved to Lisanna, who now scurried toward the bar to talk with her sibling. Knowing that Lisanna was probably telling Mira the good news, Lucy glanced back to Natsu and grinned.
"Let's go; Happy probably misses you." The two waved to the familiar patrons while they left Fairy Tail, Lucy instantly cuddling into Natsu's warm side. He dropped her hand to wrap his arm around her, easily falling in step with her shorter legs.
"That cat's a traitor; my house has been finished for a week and he refuses to leave your apartment."
"Not like it matters; you spend all your time at my house anyways." He seemed to toss the idea over in his head, then shrugged and pulled her closer.
"Besides, it's obvious that Happy loves me more now." He let out a mock gasp, Lucy laughing when he placed his free hand to his heart.
"I'm hurt; I've raised Happy since he was a kitten. How could he ever replace me?"
"I buy him really expensive fish."
"Well, there's no winning against a good tuna." They shared a laugh before they calmed down, Lucy glancing up at the clear sky with a soft smile.
"It's a gorgeous night for Jellal to propose to Erza. Not a cloud in the sky, and the moon looks so romantic." Natsu scoffed at her dreamy sigh, glancing toward the river they were walking beside.
"You girls sure do love the predictable."
"What's that supposed to mean?" He didn't look back at her, but Lucy could see a hint of a frown forming on Natsu's lips.
"Dinner, candlelight, the ring at the bottom of the champagne glass...it's romantic, and totally gets the job done. For someone like Erza, that classy proposal will sweep her off her feet. Jellal's got that old school vibe thing going for him, so I can see it working. But..." He paused in his thought process, and Lucy felt her heart skip a beat when his dark eyes glanced back toward her. Both slowed in their walking, then completely stopped on the bridge just before her apartment. The moonlight was now cutting across Natsu's cheek, but his eyes never wavered from Lucy's wide gaze. His hand was back on hers, clutching her tattooed hand again. His smile reflected a hint of insecurity beneath his cheeky tone. "I'd never propose to someone like that."
"You've thought about it?" She whispered, surprised to see him so quick to nod.
"Well, yeah, what guy hasn't?" In a thousand years, Lucy would never expect Natsu to lose sleep over something like this. Sometimes Lucy wondered if there were parts of Natsu he didn't feel the need to wear on his sleeve like a badge. He had such a loud personality, but even the most open of people had secrets. What were Natsu's? And would he ever show her that side he hide from the rest of the world?
"I just didn't think it was something men thought about," Lucy admitted, feeling slightly embarrassed. She hadn't meant to sell men short; her father never really showed her his romantic side. Maybe that was why she didn't give credit to men as often as she should? She was brought out of her thoughts when she felt Natsu's thumb swipe her tattoo, his eyes staring at the river beside them. Natsu really looked bothered by her faith in him. It stunned her, to say the least. "So...marriage doesn't scare you?"
"Not if it's the right woman." His eyes easily found hers again, reflecting an emotion that Lucy was sure she misinterpreted. Not wanting to think into it any further, Lucy looked back at the water and shook her head.
"And what if you're wrong?"
"Huh?" Lucy let go of Natsu's hand, moving to the side of the bridge. Her fingers met the cold stone, her sigh filling the silent night air. Feeling a swell of negative emotions hit her, Lucy closed her eyes tightly.
"Maybe it was just how I was raised, but...I've always been a little scared of it. I have this idea of what marriage is supposed to be, with the fairy tale ending and the happily ever after. Cinderella rides off with Prince Charming. I am a Cancer, so it's practically in my blood to dream that way." Lucy's voice paused when she felt Natsu return to her side. Though he didn't grab her hand again, she felt his pinky brush hers on the railing. Having him by her side again made her voice soften, which she was sure showed her fear clearly. "But then I see all the couples who don't work out. Because getting married is an obligation, you see. It doesn't promise that feelings won't die out. What if the person you fall in love with changes? If they let things like money or their job alter who they used to be? Is there really ever a way to predict forever? Because when you say those vows, it's an oath. It's a contract, a-"
"Hey, Lucy." Natsu's voice cut off her rambling, making Lucy open her eyes. She glanced up at him in concern, not able to read the serious look on his face. He didn't turn to face her, resting his weight on the arm propped against the railing. "Not to be disrespectful to the dead, but I won't be anything like your old man. I promise."
"What do you mean?" She asked quietly, noticing the frown now marring his handsome features. Just what was going through Natsu's head? What part of her dad was he talking about? They were so different that Lucy never thought that the two of them could even come from the same planet. But in that moment, it seemed like one particular side of Jude Heartfilia was worse than the rest for Natsu. The questions was, which part? Instances like these confirmed what Lucy thought about earlier; there were some shadows of Natsu that still hid from her sight.
"Nothing, don't worry about it." She wanted to pry. Normal Lucy wouldn't hesitate to hit his arm and demand to know what he was talking about. She never worried about what Natsu was going to say next, because she thought she knew him. But now, she felt herself hesitant to push the envelope. For some reason, Lucy was scared of what he meant. Because just before, they were talking about love and marriage...
He tilted his head back and let out a loud groan, smiling at her and changing the subject quickly. "Can we go eat now? I'm withering here!"
"Sure." It was the only thing she could manage to get out. He beamed at her before turning toward her house, rambling about the lack of food he'd eaten all week. She wanted to fall back into the same ease as he had, but Lucy couldn't seem to follow his lead. So she let him take over the conversation, laughing when she knew she should and rolling her eyes at other points. If Natsu noticed, he didn't say anything about it. He joked with her, played with Happy, and never lost his normal composure.
But later that night, when Natsu thought she was asleep, Lucy could feel his body tremble around her. And she wondered if he had something he was scared off, too.
The next few days, Lucy found herself wondering about the book her mother wrote her. Whenever she was home, she couldn't stop herself from looking at the old binding sticking out of her bookshelf. It almost felt like she had to read it, and soon. Even when she went to bed, in the darkness, Lucy found herself staring with fearful wonder. Her mother had bought her plenty of books about the signs. She covered the bases, the books varying on topics. There were ones that focused on the sun and moon signs, others that were made for cusps (people who fell between two signs and took some traits from each), and books strictly about the chemistry of the elements. If Lucy needed information, Layla had made sure there was a book to give it to her.
So what else was there to teach? Lucy knew there was a simple way to find out. Just open the book and read it. A few times, Lucy had stood in front of her bookcase with her fingertips pressed to the binding. Her mother made it for her to read, so was there really anything to be worried about? Layla was a loving mother to Lucy; the blonde knew the book would hold nothing but warmth and guidance. Still, she could never remove the book from it's place on the shelf, making an excuse to leave the room.
Her reasoning Saturday morning was how late she was running to meet up with Lisanna. Lucy had to rush to finish getting ready, barely making the deadline that the youngest Strauss set. Lisanna didn't hold it against her, and the two set off to the spa in good spirits. Both girls left their phones in a locker in the lobby after Lisanna promised the world could take care of itself for one day without them. Lucy was hesitant to give up her phone, despite lacking a real reason to hold onto it.
Since their weird conversation on the bridge, Natsu and Lucy hadn't really talked. He still walked her home at night, and he kept the conversation going when Lucy faltered. But there hadn't been another sleepover since. Lucy, feeling vulnerable from their conversation, never asked for him to spend the night. And for once, Natsu didn't force his way in without permission. So she went to bed alone, wondering if her fear of marriage was a bigger issue than Natsu wanted to admit.
The spa was a perfect distraction from her problems with Natsu. Between the massage, pedicure and manicures, and time in the hot springs, Lucy was in heaven. They got facials while drinking sangria and gossiping about Fairy Tail. The place even had a salon, to which the two girls greedily indulged. They sat in pre-heated bathrobes while the hair dressers moisturized and styled their hair. So wrapped up in feeling like a princess, Lucy didn't realize how fast the time had gone. By the time the two retrieved their phones back, it was already seven.
Lucy tried to called Natsu, but he never answered his phone. Lisanna tried to calm Lucy down, though she seemed a little uneasy when realizing her phone was dead. She continued to try and charge it in the car, refusing to drive more than the speed limit. In fact, Lucy swore the girl was going slow on purpose. The blonde continued to call Natsu, wondering why his voicemail was the only thing that answered. Was he mad at her? Did this put the final nail in the tension they had from before? Was she going to be walking into a fight? Lucy and Natsu bickered at times, and the occasional argument was bound to happen. But this time, Lucy felt like something was different. They were different.
"Lisanna, just pull up front."
"Wait, Lucy, I just got my phone turned on. Let me call Mira-"
But Lucy couldn't wait. Her fear was enough to bolt out of Lisanna's car before the girl had fully come to a stop. Her heels clicked up the stairs to Fairy Tail, Lucy ignoring her friend's call of her name. Her eyes stayed trained on the doors leading to her safe haven; her home away from home. The one place she truly felt she belonged. But did any of that matter if Natsu wasn't the guy beside her? He was the one who lifted her spirits when she was upset. Natsu always pushed her to be a better person. And when he smiled-
Don't hesitate to fall...
Lucy's breath caught when her mother's voice echoed in her head, but her hands were already yanking the doors in front of her open. Her hair fluttered around her from the force she used to try and stop herself from opening the wooden doors, managing to only crack them. She expected to see the normal bustle of her familiar bar, and yet...
Fairy Tail looked...different. The tables were pushed to the sides of the floor, leaving a pathway from the doorway to the stage. And the place was filled with people...decorating? Erza and Jellal were hanging pictures from the ceiling, which dangled on silver ribbons. Even though they were a little ways away, Lucy could see the beautiful ring glittering on Erza's hand as she strung up another Polaroid. Lucy's eyes narrowed on the snapshot, surprised to see her and Natsu in the picture. Each one was from different times in their lives, yet the theme was the same; Natsu and Lucy were front and center.
Gray seemed less than happy to be hanging a banner over the stage, Juvia directing him from below. The pink and white flowers entwined in the banner were beautiful, but a little out of place for the bar. Then again, the whole place looked different. She glanced around the room, surprised to see even Laxus and Gajeel involved in the decorating. They were covered with silver and gold glitter, tossing handfuls on it onto the pink and red tablecloths. Mira watched the two men while lighting the final candle of the pathway to the door, and Lucy thanked the stars that her back was facing the doorway. Lucy saw all of her friends, who claimed to be busy for the night, bustling around the bar with determination. The only two that were missing were Levy and-
"Then I get down on one knee here? And I ask her to-no, wait. I grab her hand-"
"Oi! Don't grope the shrimp, fire-brain." Lucy felt her breath catch when she saw a mop of pink hair on the stage, kneeling in front of her best friend. Natsu wasn't in a tux, but he had certainly dressed up for the occasion. It looked like he even tried to tame his hair, though it was a failed attempt. His flush was evident from the doorway, Natsu glaring at Gajeel through his embarrassment.
"Shut up, you sparkling idiot!"
"You wanna go? Maybe if I give you a black eye, Lucy will feel bad and say yes."
"I'm so scared of a twilight wanna-be." The two would have continued, if Levy didn't raise her voice.
"Gajeel, stop interrupting. We don't have time for you two to fight. Lisanna will be here with Lucy any moment and Natsu needs to get this perfect. After everything she's done for Fairy Tail, Lucy deserves perfect." When she got no arguments from either side, Levy smiled and placed her hand on Natsu's shoulder. "Now, let's do this again-" Levy's voice was cut off by Mira, whose cheery voice almost masked the awkward tone to her voice.
"Well, Lisanna just called."
"How far away are they?!" Was Natsu nervous? From the way he gripped Levy's hand, it seemed like he was. Then again, Lucy could barely hear Mira's next sentence over her pounding heartbeat.
"She's here. Now." Natsu's body tensed at Mira's statement, the comment sending the whole bar into silence. Levy was the first to notice the crack in the door, Lucy's name barely a whisper on her lips. The whole bar then turned to face Lucy, who hadn't noticed the doors slowly opening from their own weight. Despite the stares on her, Lucy could only keep her eyes trained on Natsu while her mind slowly pieced everything together.
The reason he kept going with Jellal...
Why Mira had forbidden her from coming here tonight...
The look in his eyes that she refused to admit was love the night on the bridge...
And the ring that now slipped from Natsu's hand and dropped onto the stage.
"Lucy! I...I..." Natsu was planning to ask Lucy to marry him.
And she wasn't ready to answer.
Feeling overwhelmed by the situation, Lucy didn't hesitate to slam the doors shut again, booking it back down the stairs she had just came from. She passed Lisanna's car with no hesitation, ignoring her shaky gasps of air as she ran. The streets were blurs as she moved, ignoring every noise from the outside world. She pushed her aching legs to run fast, and faster still, until she made it to the bridge outside her house. By now, her calves were on fire. She wasn't used to running half-way across town in heels! She closed her eyes, dreading the stairs she knew awaited her. But this wasn't the time to pause; Natsu would be right on her heels, and he was in much better shape.
Pushing through the ache in her legs, Lucy ran up the stairs and threw the door to her apartment open. She knew she only had a few minutes at best, so she ran to her bedroom window and quickly locked it. She paused, realizing how crazy it was she thought to lock her window before any doors in her house. If she didn't believe she was in love with Natsu before, she sure knew it now.
So then why was she running?
Shaking her head, she locked her bedroom door and faced the bookshelf she had avoided for months. Her shoulders heaved with her heavy breathing, both from her sprint and the anxiety she was feeling. Natsu was about to ask her to marry him. And though her heart was pounding in her chest from how deeply that touched her, it also shook with fear. Images of her family falling apart flashed through her mind.
If she ever needed her mother's advice, now was the time.
With trembling fingers, Lucy reached out to touch the binding of her mother's present. Grasping the book and shaking off her reservations, Lucy yanked it off the shelf. It slipped from her clammy hands, dropping to the ground with a bang. Gasping, Lucy dropped to her knees to pick back up the lost book. She froze, however, when realizing it had opened itself.
"This is…" Lucy choked on her own voice when tears filled her eyes. The book wasn't full, and looked more like her mother's thought process than a published story. She slid her fingers down the page, reading the notes that her mother had left behind.
Lucy, you'd be lucky to have a Gemini in your life. I know they're very hard to understand, and may be a little overwhelming, but they'll stick to you like glue. Gemini women are more understanding than the men, so try to find a girl your age to befriend. But there is one beautiful thing about Gemini people. They have great adventures; I want you to enjoy your life to the fullest. She'll create harmony in your life. Even if her choice in men doesn't.
She was talking about Levy like she actually knew the girl. Lucy's eyes were wide with shock, unable to stop reading the notes that were written all over the pages. Every one of them was directed to her, and seemed to describe the people in her life that her mother had never met.
Ah, the Aquarius. One of the worst signs for Cancerian romance, I promise you that. But for friendship? That's a completely different story. An Aquarius will drive you crazy, but he'll have a heart of gold inside of him. Sure, you two may not have the same taste in much, but he's going to have your back no matter what. He's a sensitive guy on the inside, and you're just the type of girl he needs to vent to when it counts. It may even cause a little jealousy with his girlfriends, so be careful! But, knowing who you are, I'm sure you'll have both of them wrapped around your fingers without even meaning to. Like a little sister to him, he will always protect you.
On and on the advice went, never seeming to miss a beat despite Lucy's tears staining the pages.
If you were looking for a mother figure, a Cancer would be best for you. Someone who has passion and spirit. You two will be similar in many ways, probably because she's the same sign as you. But if she's older, she'll have a maturity that you need in your life. I bet she'll be the one you run to when you're upset or feeling down. Cancer woman are beautiful, inside and out, and I'm sure you'll never regret letting such an eccentric person into your heart. Just remember that her heart is big like yours, and will love you as much as I wish I still could.
That one really hit a nerve inside of her. Lucy brushed her eyes with her fingers, but the tears continued to fall. Even after all these years, her mother's voice was burned into her mind. She held the book tighter to her chest, wishing it was her mother instead. Tears continued to stream down her face, and Lucy cried loudly despite her fear of Natsu's arrival.
" Natsu..."At the thought of him, Lucy looked down at the book with blurry vision. Her mother had said nothing about an Aries. She tried to muffle her sobs as she flipped along the front pages, scanning for anything with the Ram's symbol on it. She saw fish and scales, lions and crabs, but nothing about the boy. She crumpled into herself, pain lacerating her heart. How could her mother miss the most important one? The only one she really needed guidance for.
"Yo! Lucy!" Lucy's body tensed at the familiar voice, quickly moving away from the door and onto her bed. She held the book to herself, staring at the door in fear. Her grip tightened on the binding of the book when he pounded on the door, but her attention was drawn away when something pressed into her hand. Looking down, she noticed that one page was sticking out from the back of the book. Slowly she laid the book onto her bed and turned to the page in question. It looked like it had been ripped out, and stuck back into the wrong place.
And then, as if the world stopped around her, Lucy found the page simply marked "Aries".
Aries, as you know, is the first house of the Zodiac. I should have done him first, right? If I was writing an astrology book of some sort, I would. But this is only for your eyes to read, Lucy. And I have spent many years looking at these signs, wondering just what person I would wish my daughter to end up with. And this is the one I chose.
Aries are a lot of things. I know they are bossy, and a little brash compared to the sweeter signs of the zodiac. And boy, do they give you Cancers a hard time. They like to make their own rules up as they go, never listening to what you or anyone else has to say. They are impulsive, with a "punch first ask questions later" mentality. Any normal mother would probably call me crazy for wishing such a boy for you.
"I'm going to break down the damn door if you don't answer! And I won't pay for it either since it's your fault for running away from me."
But the Aries man is a beautiful creature. They look at the world with optimism, and help others whenever they need it. They are the knights-in-shining-armor of the zodiac, willing to die for the woman they love. And boy, do they love. They are so full of spirit and emotion, they never give up on the ones they love. They'll tear down mountains and swim across oceans just to see you smile. The passion they have overrides anything negative about them.
"I-I know I scared you. I didn't mean to make you run. I'm kind of scared too...but only a little! God, I suck at these romantic things. You deserve someone who knows what they're doing, like that asshole Loke. And I should've said it before I asked you to marry me, but I just…"
Cancers and Aries are not the best pairing in the zodiac. They have a long journey, which may take years and years to discover. Aries are impatient and like to get results as soon as they can. Cancers have so many emotions that it may scare the Aries away. It's probably worse with a female Cancer and a male Aries. But after watching you grow up to be the beautiful soul you are, I can't think of a better ending for my princess than the prince disguised as a dragon.
"You've gotta know by now I'm in love with you. And nothing, not my job or our income, will ever change that. Even if every one of your stupid books says we're not meant to be, I think we are! It's like you were sent to Fairy Tail to be with me. I was the one who found you that night, not Laxus or Levy. Not even Erza or the Master. I did! Because you're my soul mate and my matchmaker and now my lover too!"
I've said this once to you, my beautiful Lucy.
"But more important than any of that…you're my best friend. I can't be in love with anyone but my best friend, Luce. For years, you've been by my side. I need you to smile, to laugh, to even pick fights. You're my happy ever after and my fairy tale and whatever else you wanna call it. You're...you're it for me."
But for your sake, I'll say it again…
"Fuck it, I'm breaking the—" Natsu wasn't prepared for the tackle he received once Lucy slammed open her bedroom door. He certainly didn't expect her to grab his cheeks and kiss him until his eyes rolled into the back of his head. He enjoyed the fact that Lucy wasn't trying to kill him, but hated how many tears were on her face when they broke apart. His fingers wiped away the newly shed tears, but she shook her head to get him to let go of her cheeks. Her head dropped down, blonde bangs covering her eyes from Natsu's view. He scowled, always hating when Lucy did that. Didn't she know he loved looking at her face?
Maybe the years have clouded your memory, and you've forgotten my teachings of astrology.
"When you saw me on the street that night you brought me to Fairy Tail, you smiled at me. But ever since that night, you've never been able to smile if you knew I was crying. So then why were you able to smile that night?" Natsu blinked at Lucy's odd question, not sure why she was bringing up something from so long ago after his unromantic proposal.
"Did you hear what I said before?" When he saw her cheeks flush in color, he got his answer right away. A tug of a smile yanked at his lips, but he wasn't ready to be happy yet. Not until she answered his confession. She finally lifted her head to him, making a direct connection between their gazes.
"I need you to answer this. Please." But he knew the look on her face meant she wasn't going to let the conversation go, so he simply shrugged and replied.
"It's really stupid, and I've never told anyone before."
"I won't laugh."
But I hope you've always remembered these words from your mother.
He shifted uncomfortably, looking away from Lucy. Feeling like he was about to make a fool of himself, Natsu blew out a puff of air and continued.
"When I saw you, I heard someone. There was nobody around, so I know it was probably just in my head. But when I saw you on the sidewalk, a voice told me to smile for you. Something like, 'Smile for her, so she can smile for you'." He blushed slightly as he stared at the night sky out the window, wanting to shoot himself for telling her the truth. But, she said he was destined to be honest and blunt, right? "Her voice was warm, and I just couldn't help but listen to her. Plus, I really hated seeing you cry. If this phantom ghost thing said smiling would make you stop crying, I'd smile at you for the rest of my life."
"Natsu…" He looked up at her again, shocked to see her tears paired with a smile.
"Huh?" Lucy burst out into tears at the same time as laughter filled the air. Natsu was at a complete loss for words as Lucy both cried and laughed at the same time. Her smile was full, despite her palms constantly wiping the tears from her eyes. He pushed up to sit, pulling Lucy into a hug he wasn't sure she needed. He felt her body trembling against his, but he wasn't sure if it was from her giggling or tears. "Lucy, I think you've finally cracked."
"You're such an idiot," she cried out, burying her face into his muffler. Pulling her away without dislodging her off his lap, Natsu finally noticed that both her tears and her laughter were dying down.
"You going to tell me what the hell just happened?"
If you ever meet an Aries man, you'll know by his kind smile. And when you find the perfect smile, don't hesitate to…
"Take me back to Fairy Tail." Not exactly what Natsu was looking for, but he was willing to listen anyways.
"Why?" Lucy shifted in his lap, her smile widening as she pressed her forehead to his.
"Because if we're going to give this marriage thing a shot, I want a real proposal."
…fall in love with him.
"For real?" Eyes wide with shock, Natsu almost forgot to breathe as he stared at the blushing girl in front of him. Lucy nodded, her eyes refusing to leave his as she spoke.
"I love you too, Natsu. So let's be together, forever. Okay?" She leaned in to kiss him, Natsu meeting her lips halfway.
And for the first time in a while, the idea of marriage didn't scare her.
Natsu had stolen her heart the moment he offered her his warm smile in the freezing rain. Everything after that was just a way for her mind to piece together what her heart already knew. Lucy's cheeks were cupped by Natsu's rough hands, urging her to fall back onto the floor. She had a feeling they weren't going to be leaving the floor for a while, but Lucy didn't mind. When he finally pulled back from the stunning kiss, Lucy opened her eyes to be greeted with a smile that rivaled the first smile she had ever seen him make. Eyes relaxing with acknowledgement, Lucy returned the grin with her own soft smile before letting Natsu claim her lips again. As she felt herself fall completely in love with Natsu, her mother's final words resonated in her head.
Because his smile will make you smile for the rest of your life.
The end! I hope you all enjoyed this trip as much as I have. This story meant a lot to me, and I'll always be thankful to the people who reviewed and kept me going. You guys are the best. 2016 will be bringing more stories from me your way, so please don't forget to keep an eye out! And let me know what you think; which part was your favorite? Would you like to see more from me? Are you excited for some one-shots I have coming your way? Find me on tumblr or review here! Thanks again!