Once they fell into a routine, Gray's life with having a child and a girlfriend became much easier as he grew used to having them both in his house, since Juvia spent most of her time in there with them and having Juvia around to help with the girl stuff he didn't know about was an extra plus. It was a relief that when Meredy showed interest in ballet, Juvia was right there to help her get ready and to discuss it about, because he sure as hell didn't know anything about plié, elevé or passé. What he did know was that his niece did look cute on her tutu.
Juvia was the one in charge of ballet and she was the one who would take Meredy to her classes twice a week, but since she had to go to work-related meetings out of town for three weeks, Gray was the one who drove and picked up Meredy from her classes and he hated it.
The class in itself wasn't all that bad: Meredy's movements were funny and entertaining enough that he didn't care if he had to stay an hour watching her (and every time she stopped to wave at him, he would feel a wave of affection towards the pink haired girl).
One thing he didn't like about going to those classes was the moms. Gray was feeling uncomfortable with all those women staring at him like he was some kind of meat and they were hungry wolves and it made him want to grab his niece and run away and never come back. So, when his phone rang and he saw the picture of Meredy and Juvia, he jumped on the opportunity to let it clear that he was very taken.
"Hi, babe." He said, happily and making a point to let the women know he was talking with his girlfriend. Gray got up and walked towards the other side of the room so the women next to him couldn't hear the rest of the conversation.
"Huh?" Gray heard Juvia say. "Gray-sama?"
"Are you being kidnapped?" She asked.
"You never call Juvia 'babe'. So, either you are being kidnapped or having a stroke."
"Yes, haha. It's just… I'm at Meredy's ballet class and these women keep staring at me like I'm a piece of meat." Gray whispered on his phone and heard her chuckle. "Don't laugh!"
"They are just bored housewives." Juvia said and he could almost hear the smile on her face. "You are safe as long as you don't interfere with their daughters' training schedule: they turn into sharks when it comes to their girls being the best."
"They are six."
"Juvia knows. But some of the moms are very competitive."
"That's messed up." Juvia hummed in agreement.
"It is." The blunette answered. "But don't worry, Juvia told them that her boyfriend was going to take her place for a few weeks on taking Meredy-chan to the ballet. Trust me, those women know not to mess with you. Juvia warned them enough not to get funny with you." He could almost see her shrug.
"And that's messed up as well." Gray couldn't help but to grin at her possessiveness. "Hey, what did you call me for anyway?"
"Oh, right." She was excited. "Juvia's coming home earlier."
"Really?" Gray smile widened, she had been away for two weeks and he really missed her. "I thought you still had another week!"
"Me too, but they cut the meetings short because the last client will not be able to arrive in time, so Juvia is coming home tonight."
"Good." The man sighed in relief – he had missed his girlfriend more than he thought he would and two weeks away from her had proved to put him in a bad mood. "Meredy misses you."
"Meredy, huh?" Juvia teased. "What about you?"
Gray grinned. "A little bit."
"Just a little bit?" Juvia asked. "Well, then… Maybe Juvia shouldn't take this new lingerie she bought, home."
"What-" He coughed. "What new lingerie?"
"Blue lace, lots of ribbons and barely covers anything." She said noncommittally. Gray pictured some very lovely images of his girlfriend wearing diverse models of lingerie and suddenly the room was much hotter.
"So maybe I miss you a tiny bit." He consented and when she giggled, Gray couldn't help but to smile. "When do you arrive?"
"Juvia will take the last flight tonight after the final lecture and she'll arrive at three a.m." The blunette answered.
"Go straight to my place." Gray told her. "I'll wait up for you."
"You won't see that lingerie tonight, you know?" Juvia giggled.
He rolled his eyes. "I know. But you've been away for weeks now and you have slept in my bed more nights than yours ever since we got together and I think that you would sleep better after travelling and being away from home."
"Okay, okay. Juvia will go to your place." She said. "Juvia has to hang up now and you need to see Meredy's rehearsal and be uncomfortable with all those women gawking at you."
"You are way too cheeky. Maybe I'll flirt with one of them." Gray said.
Juvia scoffed. "Please. You would be bored to death five minutes in, Juvia knows: she meets those women twice a week. Plus, they are afraid of me." She stopped for a moment. "But since Juvia doesn't want to play with fate, she'll buy one more set of lingerie before going home to keep you interested. Any color preference?"
"Red." He said without hesitance.
"Red it is, then." Juvia chuckled. "Bye, Gray-sama. See you tonight."
"Bye." Gray hung up, returning to sit to watch the last few minutes of the ballet rehearsal with a grin on his face and not caring about those women staring at him, after all, his girlfriend was coming home and those women were terrified of her, thankfully.
When Metalicana Redfox was four months old, Juvia offered to take him out of the house for the day so Levy and Gajeel could get a day off and even if Levy was anxious about leaving her baby for the day, but she was also glad to have some time to herself.
Gray had forgotten about the babysitting duty up until he arrived at home from work and heard some cooing coming from the living room. With a frown, he walked towards it and was graced with the sight of his girlfriend grinning silly to the dark haired baby – who was lying on a light blue blanket on the floor – before diving in and blowing raspberries on his stomach, making the baby giggle and kick his legs.
"Who is the cutest boy in the world?" Juvia cooed, putting a stray lock of her hair behind her ear and the grin she had on her face made Gray's heart skip a bit. "You are." Metalicana giggled again. "Your Aunt Juvia just wants to eat you whole."
"Maybe you shouldn't." Gray said, leaning on the doorway. "I have a hunch that their parents will want him in one piece."
Juvia looked up; eyes sparkling with happiness and Gray crossed his arms above his chest. "Hi, Gray-sama. Look who's here." Juvia picked the baby up and got up from the floor.
"Hard not to notice." He grinned to Metalicana. "He's getting big."
"He is my big boy, aren't you, Metty-chan?" Juvia kissed the baby's cheek. "Just like his daddy."
"I wasn't aware Gajeel was also your 'big boy'." Gray raised an eyebrow and Juvia rolled her eyes.
"You know what Juvia meant." She said looking back to the baby. "I can't believe that he's four months old. It feels like Juvia held him for the first time yesterday."
"Well," Gray kissed his girlfriend's lips lightly "you have photographed his whole life so far. If you get nostalgic, just go see the pictures."
Juvia, still looking at the baby, cooed in a silly voice: "Your Uncle Gray is such an insensitive man, Metty-chan."
Gray smiled. "I'm just saying that he's growing up fast just like Meredy is. I flip through her baby pictures sometimes."
"What?" Juvia looked up to him in surprise. "You do?"
"Of course." He shrugged. "I like to remember when she didn't answer back." The blunette raised an eyebrow. "And she was very cute."
"You are a softie." Juvia grinned. "Gray Fullbuster is a big softie. Who would've thought?"
Gray felt his cheeks get warmer and decided to change the subject. "Where is Meredy, by the way?" Juvia's glare told Gray that the subject would come up again. "She usually stays around you when you are here."
The blunette sighed. "She stayed here for about five minutes before she told me she wanted to go up to her room and when Juvia went up to check on her, she was entertaining herself with coloring." Juvia looked down on the baby again. "She has been real quiet today. Maybe you should go talk to her."
"I will." Gray nodded and walked towards the stairs.
"And before you two come down, wash your hands. Dinner is almost ready." Juvia said, returning to the living room, giggling with the baby and Gray rolled his eyes at how happy she sounded.
Meredy was at her room, drawing while lying on her bed. "Hey, kid." Gray said after knocking on the door.
"Hi." Meredy didn't look up from the paper and Gray frowned – usually she would've jumped from her bed to hug him.
"Are you alright?" Gray asked, sitting on the bed next to the girl and she just shrugged. "Come on, Meredy. What is it?" When she didn't answer, Gray continued. "Something happened at school?" She shook her head 'no'. "What is it, then? Why are you not downstairs with Juvia?"
"Juvia is with the baby." Meredy colored harder and Gray raised an eyebrow at her reaction. Oh, so that's why she was in a mood.
"You know the baby's gonna go to his home in a few hours right?" Gray asked carefully and she nodded. "So… why don't you want to go down there?"
"He is going home, but you and Juvia are having a baby soon." The girl said. "And you'll forget all about me."
Gray sighed. "We are not having a baby, Meredy."
Meredy finally looked up and Gray saw her green eyes sparkling with unshed tears. "You are! Juvia said that she couldn't wait to have hers when Miss Levy stopped over."
"What?" Gray couldn't help but to think if Meredy's words had any merit and felt his heart speed faster when he recalled that she complained about her breasts being sensitive when they were having sex the night before and she had been in a mood out of nowhere.
Oh, damn. How could that be? They were careful and they already had their hands full with Meredy, what would it be with a baby? And the fact she didn't tell him hurt him the most.
"Hey you two." Juvia called from the doorstep of Meredy's room Metalicana in her arms. "Dinner is ready."
"Do you have anything to tell me?" Gray asked, getting up from the bed and saw her frown.
"Huh?" The blunette shifted the baby from one arm to another.
"I heard you talking to Miss Levy when she brought Metalicana over. You said that you couldn't wait to have your own baby." Meredy crossed her arms over her chest and Gray did the same thing and both were staring at her with the same look of betrayal and hurt.
"Why didn't you tell me?" Gray asked.
"That Juvia wants to be a mom? She guessed it was pretty obvious." Juvia said in exasperation. "What's going on?"
"You are having a baby soon!" Meredy accused.
"I am… what?" The blunette's mouth hang open.
"I heard you talking with Miss Levy that you were having one!" Meredy cried and Juvia handed the red-eyed baby in the arms of her boyfriend when she saw tears fall down on the girl's face. "Now you are going to forget all about me."
Juvia wrapped her arms around Meredy and kissed the top of her head. "Oh, darling. I would have never forget about you, but I am not having a baby anytime soon." She eyed Gray and mouthed: "I am not pregnant."
Gray rearranged the baby in his arms and let out a sigh of relief. It wasn't like he didn't think it wasn't a possibility, but if they were having any children, it would be way ahead on the road. They had their hands full with Meredy already.
"Listen, Meredy-chan, if I were having a baby you would know and we would talk about it." Juvia caressed the girl's pink hair. "I want to have a baby, but not right now. And when it happens, I won't forget about you because you are my little girl." Meredy hugged Juvia and hid her face on the blunette's chest.
With Metalicana still in his arms, Gray stepped to the hallway, letting the girls talk and a few minutes later, Juvia also got out of the bedroom.
"You really thought Juvia was pregnant?" She whispered a bit on the loud side and reached for the infant.
"Sorry, but you complained about your breasts being sensitive last night and I know it is a symptom! Plus, you've been moody for the past few days."
The blunette gasped in horror. "Juvia has not been moody! Has she?"
Gray thought about the bursts of emotions he witnessed and it took him a moment to answer. "No."
"Oh my god, has Juvia gained weight? Is that why you think she's pregnant?"
It took him another moment (this time, it was because he thought of the absurdity of it instead that it was true). "No. Listen, Juvia…"
"You thought Juvia was pregnant!" The blunette slapped his upper arm. "This isn't something you would think out of nowhere!"
"Why? Is Juvia too moody for you?" He was about to tell her that she was being moody then, but she kept talking. "Do you know why Juvia complained last night? Because in two days Juvia will have the proof she is not pregnant."
Gray winced at her words and watched as his girlfriend turn around and walked towards the stairs and when he saw Metalicana smile up to his Aunt, he caught himself thinking if their child would have black hair like his, or blue like hers until he shook his head. It was too early to think about that.
Meredy had her sixth birthday and the theme was from her favorite movie: Mulan. Juvia took as much pictures as she could of the birthday girl wearing her armor, just like Mulan wore in the movie. And to Meredy's delight, Juvia sown a red dragon just like Mushu.
Their friends attended to it even if just a few had children of their own. Most of Meredy's classmates were there with their parents – it appeared that she had a fun birthday and Gray enjoyed having his niece happily playing with the other little girls also dressed as princesses and the boys were engaging in fights with their fake swords. Silver and Lyon were also there, helping with the kids and they even wore costumes.
After the party, Meredy crashed soon after she took a shower and meanwhile Silver and Lyon complained about being too old for kids' parties and they went to the guest room (they had to share and neither was too thrilled), Gray and Juvia tried to clean the house.
"Do you think she liked it?" Juvia asked, gathering a few dirty plates. "She did look happy."
"She dressed as a badass princess, ate cake the whole afternoon and lead a bunch of six-years-olds through havoc. I bet she had the time of her life." Gray snorted and closed the back door. "Now let's go to bed, we'll clean tomorrow."
"You go ahead, Juvia will go up after she's finished here." Juvia said, taking the plates to the sink and Gray leaned on the doorway of the kitchen. "It won't take too much time."
He stared at her for a few moments and took a few steps towards his girlfriend, wrapping his arms around her waist and kissed her neck, making her giggle. "If won't take too much time, we can do it tomorrow." He nuzzled on her neck. "I'll even help you."
"Oh, that's new." Juvia laughed and turned around in his arms. "Is Gray-sama helping Juvia with dishes?"
"I do dishes sometimes, thank you very much." He said, faking offence. "And you know what?"
"What?" Juvia grinned and wrapped her arms around Gray's neck.
"It might be weird, but I like when you call me 'Gray-sama'." He admitted with a smile. "It's kind of hot." He, then, looked down to the Chinese outfit she wore – Meredy insisted Juvia took the part – and leaned in. "I like the Chinese thing too."
She couldn't help but to laugh out loud. "No, you don't."
"I do!" Gray's smile grew and then whispered on her ear. "I know."
Juvia frowned at that. "Know what?"
"I saw on your Kindle the other night something called 'The Concubine's Desire'?" Juvia's expression was priceless as her eyes got wide and a blush colored her cheeks. "It was bookmarked on a very interesting part. Something about the Emperor's sword going in…"
"Oh my god." Juvia put a hand over his lips. "You were not supposed to read that!"
"I didn't know you read those trashy books. I found quite a few of them." Gray chuckled when Juvia tried to get away from his grip. "No, come on."
"I'm going home!" Juvia exclaimed and pushed him away, but Gray turned her around and lifted her up and put her on his shoulder. "Gray-sama!"
He walks towards the stairs, laughing. "I am not letting you go home. I happened to read a piece of that book and the Emperor took the Concubine and put her on his shoulder because she refused him and took her to his room."
"No, no, no, no! We are not doing that!" Juvia couldn't help but to laugh as well. "That was so cheesy!"
"You happen to be wearing something very appropriate for this cheesy scene." They were in the middle of the hallway towards Gray's bedroom when they heard Lyon's voice.
"I swear to god that I will kill you if you do it too loud! There's a six-year-old in the house and we are right next door. No need to rub it in that you're getting some!"
"Sorry!" Juvia giggled, trying to take her hair from in front of her face.
"I hope you brought earplugs, I know Meredy's under a sugar crash." Gray said loud enough for the men inside the guest bedroom to hear.
"I brought mine!" Silver said, his voice clearly amused.
As weird as it was, as crazy as his family was, it was a very warming feeling, but Gray was happy.
When Gray received the call from the police asking him to go to Magnolia General Hospital, that his niece and girlfriend were involved in an accident, he drove like crazy and during all the time he was behind the wheel all he could think was that they were dead and that he couldn't take it if it was the case.
Once he arrived, a nurse took him to a waiting room where Meredy was sitting with another nurse and Gray ran to her side the second he saw her. She had been crying, that was for sure, but otherwise she seemed okay.
"Meredy!" He called and the girl looked at him, relief clear in her expression.
"Gray!" Meredy ran in his direction and her uncle took her in his arms, glad that she seemed unhurt.
"What happened? Are you okay?" He asked in a frenzy and the pink haired girl nodded, eyes sparkling with unshed tears. "Where is Juvia?"
"The doctor didn't let me go with her." Meredy sobbed and hid her face on the crook of his neck.
Gray looked to the nurse who had been with Meredy. "Where is she? The woman who came with her? I'm her boyfriend, Gray Fullbuster."
"She's being checked." The nurse said. "She was unconscious when the paramedics brought her."
"What happened?" Gray picked Meredy – who was still crying – and got up from his kneeling position on the floor.
"As far as I heard, she was hit by a car." Gray tightened his grip on Meredy. A car hit Juvia? How? Was she going to be okay? "I will try to get information for you."
"Thank you." He managed to say, still hugging his niece the tightest he could. What if Juvia died? What would he do, then? He couldn't bear losing her also. "Meredy." Gray said softly to the girl. "Tell me what happened."
She sobbed for a few more moments before talking. "We left my ballet class and Juvia took me to get ice cream and we were walking in the park when I saw the new store across the street. They had puppies and I wanted to play with them, but Juvia said we couldn't." More tears fell from her green eyes. "She was holding my hand, but her phone rang and she let go of my hand to find it in her purse," Meredy sobbed, "I wanted to see the puppies so bad, My Gray. I just wanted to see the puppies."
"What happened?" Gray asked.
"I… crossed the street." The girl admitted. "I didn't look to both sides like I was taught, because I wanted to go there quick before Juvia could catch me." Meredy looked up to her uncle. "She called me, but I was almost on the other side when I felt a big push and then," she sobbed again, "and then when I looked, Ju-Juvia was on the ground." After that, Gray couldn't understand anything else as the girl cried harder, her face hid again on the crook of his neck.
He understood what happened, then: the car was going to hit Meredy and Juvia had pushed her out of the way, getting hit by it instead.
The next half hour, it seemed like Gray and Meredy were reenacting the day of Ultear's funeral by the way they were wrapped around each other, waiting for some kind of news. Meredy had cried herself to sleep when the nurse who had stayed with his niece returned with a man in white. "Mr. Fullbuster?" She called.
Gray got up, maneuvering Meredy so she didn't wake, and waited anxiously. "How is she?"
The man stepped closer. "Mr. Fullbuster, I am Dr. Tatsu Hiroma and I am treating Miss Lockser." Gray nodded, wishing the doctor could hurry up. "She has bruises on her left ribs that thankfully didn't perforate her lungs. Her left arm is broken, and she has a mild concussion. I'd like to keep her here overnight as a precaution, but other than that, she will be fine."
Gray let out a breath he didn't know he was holding once he heard the news. "She's going to be okay?"
"Yes." The doctor nodded and then shifted his gaze to Meredy, sleeping in Gray's arms, and then back to Gray. "The injuries Miss Lockser sustains aren't life threatening as they are, but if that car had hit a child, things would've been very different."
Gray had thought the exactly same thing and it terrified him how close he had been to losing his niece. "Can I see her?"
"Of course. She is restless, keeps calling 'Meredy' and we had to give her something to calm her down."
Gray was staring at Juvia lying on the hospital bed, pale. He was told that she needed rest and with a concussion she would have to be waken every couple of hours and even if he wanted to see her eyes open, he knew she needed rest. Meredy was also asleep on the small couch by the door, and Gray passed a hand over his face. He was so tired; it seemed that the day was getting longer and longer.
He had talked with his father a few minutes before and the older man had almost suffered a heart attack once he heard that his granddaughter was almost hit by a car and that his daughter-in-law had been. After reassuring Silver that Juvia was fine, the older man said he would be in Magnolia in a few hours and Gray felt relieved to know that he had his dad's support.
When he heard a soft moan, Gray turned around and saw that Juvia was blinking, seeming to be confused and Gray strode towards the bed.
"Juvia, hey, hey. Take it easy." He had to push her back to the bed gently when the blunette tried to get up.
"Where is Meredy?" Juvia asked, weakly, probably still groggy because the medication.
"She's fine, but you need to take it easy." Gray tried, but she got agitated.
"I need to see her." She tried to get up again and he noticed her eyes watering. "I need to know she's okay. Please." The blunette begged him and it broke his heart.
"Okay, okay." Since he couldn't stop her, Gray helped her sit even when she hissed in pain. "Look, she's asleep." Gray pointed to the couch, where the five-year-old was lying down and Juvia relaxed visibly. "See? She's fine. The car didn't hit her, you pushed her away."
"I let go of her hand." Juvia whispered, horrified, a few tears falling down her cheeks. "We were walking down the park and I let go of her hand. That car almost hit her. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."
Gray sat by her side, still holding her. "Juvia, she is six. She knows that is wrong to cross the street on her own and she told me she didn't look." He told her the softest way he could. "Besides, you didn't let her get hurt."
"I'm sorry." Juvia sobbed and Gray kissed her temple.
"Don't be." He sighed. "You two are fine and that's all that matter."
After a few minutes holding his girlfriend, Gray noticed that she had fallen asleep once again and he decided that resting his eyes wouldn't be too bad.
Gray woken up in what seemed to be minutes. His back was hurting by the position he fell asleep, on the edge of Juvia's bed. He noticed that Juvia was still asleep and he got up, checked on Meredy and stepped outside the room to stretch his limbs.
"Gray!" He heard his dad's voice and saw Silver walking towards him.
"Hey, dad." Gray sighed, tired and received a hug from his father. A moment later, they let go of each other. "You arrived fast."
"Our girls ended up in the hospital today. Of course I'd come here fast." Silver stepped in front of Juvia's room and looked through the small window, seeing Juvia on the bed. "How are they?"
"Juvia's arm is broken, fractured ribs and a concussion, but the doctor said she's going to be fine. They are keeping her overnight, though, just to be safe." Gray leaned on the wall. "Meredy just scraped her knees and hands."
"You look tired, I can stay here with Juvia for the night if you want to take Meredy home." Silver offered but Gray shook his head.
"No, I'll stay here, but if you could take Meredy back to my place…"
"Yeah, sure." Silver agreed.
"She hasn't eaten yet, if you could…"
"I fed you when you were a kid. I can put together dinner for a child." Silver shrugged. "I'll come in the morning after I drop Meredy at school so you can go home and rest for a while."
Gray shook his head. "Nah, I'll stay until she's released. The doctor told me she'll probably be ready tomorrow."
"Son, you have to rest too." Silver was clearly worried.
"I…" Gray took a deep breath. "I don't want to leave her, dad. She could've died today. Meredy could've died today if Juvia hadn't pushed her out of the way." He sat on the floor. "I could've lost them both." His voice broke in the end and Gray had to fight the tears that finally threatened to fall.
Silver stared at his son for a moment before sitting next to him, with a grunt. "Damn, I'm getting too old for this." The older man settled and then talked again. "Do you know when I was most scared in my life before I thought I lost you and your mother?" Gray shook his head. "You were four-years-old and you were a climber, I can tell you that. You climbed everything you could put your tiny hands on." Silver chuckled. "God knows how many times I had to take you from up the dinner table.
"We had this heavy wooden shelf on our living room, it took the whole the wall. Well, anyway, your mother and I were in the kitchen getting dinner ready and you were watching TV while we were finishing. When we were getting the table ready – we heard you chuckle and we looked in the direction of the living room and there you were, half way through the shelf, like you had done it a million times. Only, this time was different.
"I don't know how, but the shelf was disconnecting from the wall and it was so heavy that if it fell on your little body… I don't even want to think about it. I was frozen in place, I knew what was about to happen, but I just couldn't move." Silver stopped and Gray finally looked at him. "That's when I see your mother run to the living room the fastest I've ever seen her and she caught you, but by then, the shelf was going to fall on top of the both of you. Do you know what she did?" Gray shook his head. "Your mother, I don't know from where she took the strength, she threw you far away just as the shelf fell on top of her.
"Only then, I moved. You were crying, scared, but other than that, fine. You mother, though, she was hurt: hit her head, lost her conscious for a moment, her shoulder dislocated and it broke her foot. And do you know what was the first thing she said when she woke up?" Gray waited. "She asked if you were alright and then started to talk to you to calm you down while I tried to push that enormous thing from atop of her, which I only did after I had help."
Gray mulled over his dad's words for a moment. "What are you trying to tell me?"
"I know that you are feeling hopeless, that you think you failed to protect them, but you haven't considered one thing."
"It was never your choice; it was Juvia's. That's what mothers do." Silver said softly. "They throw themselves under heavy shelves and in front of cars for their children without giving a second thought and you can't blame yourself." They stayed in silence for a few moments before Silver started moving to get up. "Well, I'll go see my daughter-in-law for a few minutes and then take Meredy home for the night."
Gray took a minute before getting up from the floor. His father's words slowly sinking in and he started to think about it, before he got up and follow Silver inside the room.
The next day Juvia got released after the doctor told Gray that just as a precaution he should wake her a couple of times during the night, just to be on the safe side. Juvia tried to tell her boyfriend that she could go to her own apartment but her protests fell into deaf ears: there was no way he would let her stay alone.
When Meredy saw Juvia, she wrapped her arms around the woman's waist and neither Gray nor Silver could take the girl from her side. It was after eleven p.m. when Silver told his son that he was going to sleep and Gray had to take his niece from his bed, where she had fallen asleep with Juvia.
Gray got ready for bed and when he sat on his side of the bed, he gently called Juvia and when she opened her eyes, he smiled at her confused look. "Sorry for waking you. The doctor said that I should do this tonight and ask you a couple of questions." Juvia moaned in annoyance. "Come on, talk to me."
"But Juvia is so tired." The blunette whined and closed her eyes. "Can we do that later? Those painkillers are strong."
"Well, you just said your name and you remembered you took the painkillers, I guess that you are okay."
"I love you, but if you keep waking me every hour, the sentiment will change very soon."
Gray froze and watched as Juvia turned her face to the other side and fall asleep once again, but he stared at her with wide eyes. He knew, of course, that she had very deep feelings for him and she had said it sometimes, but hearing her saying it so carelessly made him remember the other women who had told him the same.
He stared at her sleeping form, the steady movement of her chest moving as she breathed and realized that she couldn't stay.
Juvia stayed at Gray's house the following week because of her cast, and so did Silver – who noticed his son getting snappy at the blunette often about the silliest things. She was used to his harsh mood sometimes and just let it slide; plus, they still shared Gray's bed, so Silver assumed they were fine enough.
What worried the older Fullbuster was that his son and Juvia weren't being as amorous as they had been before. It wasn't as if they paraded their relationship, but there were a few loving looks, pecks on their lips and Gray's arm around her shoulders – it was just enough so people knew they were together.
At first, Silver thought Gray was preventing himself from touching her because of her cast and her injuries, but after the fourth day, it seemed odd that Gray was distancing himself from Juvia. He took care of her, sure, but not like Silver expected him to. Where was the man who put his girlfriend over his shoulder and went laughing to his bedroom?
Something had changed his son after the car hitting Juvia and Silver couldn't figure out exactly what. It was hard to find a moment where his son was alone so they could speak, so Silver waited.
After eating dinner, Gray took Meredy upstairs so she could take a bath while Silver and Juvia stayed at the kitchen enjoying a piece of the cake they had for desert.
"Juvia!" Meredy entered, a few minutes later, the kitchen freshly bathed and almost ready to sleep. "Don't forget to buy my cookies for the field class! Remember that I like strawberry!"
"Don't worry, honey." Juvia smiled and leaned so the girl could kiss her cheek. "Now go to your room, I'll be up in a minute to read you a stpry."
"What is this about Meredy going on a field class?" Gray frowned.
"My ballet class will go to the theatre!" Meredy exclaimed in delight.
"It will be a short outing; a few hours so they can watch a version of The Nutcracker. Some of the mothers will go as well." The blunette got up from the chair. She was starting to gather her plate and glass when Silver took it for her with a wink, making her smile. "Her teacher told me and Juvia signed the consent."
Silver saw his son closed his hands into fists, eyes narrowed and cheeks were getting redder.
"And you didn't think to bring it up to me?"
It was Juvia's turn to be confused. "Sorry, Juvia forgot."
"You can't just forget things like that, Juvia!" Gray's voice was a little higher to Silver's liking. He stayed out of the way, but made a sign for Meredy to go stay beside him. "I have to know where my niece is. I have a responsibility to raise her."
"Okay, it won't happen again." Juvia tried to calm him down and looked over where Meredy was and then back to her boyfriend. "But just this time we should let her go. She's been looking forward to it all week."
"We?" Gray snort in a condescended way that made Silver frown. Why was Gray trying to make such a little matter into something bigger. "Well, I'd say it was all you, I didn't even know about it until two minutes ago."
"Well, I'm sorry if I got hit by a car that day and forgot to tell you about a silly field trip to the theatre." Juvia snapped and there was a stunned silent as if Gray had not expected her to answer back and Silver smirked, clearly enjoying Juvia's sudden backbone against his son. 'Good for you, sweetheart', Silver thought. Gray was way too used of her taking his bullshit. "Look, we just need to call the ballet instructor and tell her that we don't want Meredy to go anym-" He interrupted her.
"You don't understand, do you? It's not your call to make, Juvia; it's mine! How can we be together if I can't trust you with her? You don't have the right to make a decision like that! She's my niece, she's nothing of yours." Gray was almost screaming at that point.
"Gray!" Silver said loudly and Meredy's lower lip began to tremble. It appeared to make Gray realize what he had said once he saw hurt in Juvia's expression.
The kitchen was silent for a few moments as the couple stared at each other. Silver saw the moment Gray regretted his words: right when he saw tears in her eyes.
"Juvia..." He breathed. "Juvia, I'm-" Gray stepped towards his girlfriend, trying to get her hand and he was clearly surprised when she took a step away from him. "Juvia?" Gray was clearly surprise to see her step away from him.
"Don't." The blunette said, a couple of tears were falling. "I don't know why you've been like this all week, but I don't have to listen to this." Juvia turned around and spoke to Silver and his granddaughter. "Sorry, Meredy-chan, but I'm going home tonight."
Meredy whispered "Don't go", which made Juvia cry openly.
Silver was looking at his son and it seemed that he was shocked with her words and actions, after all Juvia didn't run away from him, she ran towards him. Her reaction meant that his words had cut deeper than he thought they would.
The blunette dried the tears that fell and grabbed her purse before start to walk towards the door and Gray tried to reach her once again, grabbing her by the wrist. "Juvia, don't-"
She got free of his hold with a tug. "Don't touch me." The woman hissed as she gave him an angry and hurt look before reaching the door and pulling it open.
Gray never thought he would receive a look like that coming from her. Never. And it scared him to know he hurt her to that extent.
He watched her get out of his house and took a step to follow her, but his father stepped in front of him, a hand over his son's chest and a thundered expression. "Stay here; she can't drive, so I'll take her home."
"Dad-" Gray was about to argue, but the older man cut him.
"Stay here, Gray, with your niece. You did enough." Silver said with no room to argue before he turned and followed the blunette, slamming the door after him.
Suddenly, Gray was alone in his kitchen with Meredy and the only sound was her sobbing.
Two hours later, when his father returned, Gray was awake and waiting in the living room.
"Dad..." Gray stepped towards his father, who looked deadly tired. "You weren't taking my calls. Neither is Juvia."
Silver sighed. "She turned her phone off while I was driving her home and I did the same with mine. I'll turn it on now." The older man stepped towards the stairs, clearly not in the mood to talk.
"Dad, I need to go see her. I need to..."
Silver turned around and Gray almost took a step back with the cool in his father's eyes. "Not until you figure out how to apologize to her."
"I don't want her to be..."
"Do you know what I saw tonight, Gray?" His father interrupted him. "I saw you lashing out on her for no reason at all. You were trying to pick a fight during this whole week, you were trying to hurt her. Guess what, kid? You succeeded." Silver told his son with a bitter laugh by the end. "If you two were having a fight for a real reason, I wouldn't interfere because that's healthy for a couple to disagree sometimes. But today? You have been trying to pick a fight with her and you crushed her heart. Congratulations." Silver fake clapped and the empty space in Gray's stomach seemed to get bigger. "I don't know why you acted like a jerk, telling the woman who's been raising your niece with you that she has no right over Meredy when even a blind person can see Juvia loves that little girl like her own."
Gray felt even more shame come over him and he looked down to the floor. What had he done? He didn't mean any of that, yet the words spilled from his mouth before he could process them.
He had wanted to hurt her.
"She told me she loved me." Gray whispered as soon as his father turned to walk up the stairs, as if it were an explanation.
Silver stopped on the third step. "Great way to answer it, Gray."
Sleep didn't come to him that night, making Gray relive the moment he said those hateful words to Juvia and it served him right to suffer just as much as she did. He thought about why he did it and what to say to her to make it right again. As soon as his father was up and Meredy was eating her breakfast while watching cartoons, Gray drove to Juvia's apartment.
He suddenly got nervous right after he knocked on her door three times in a row. Why would she have him back? Why would she stay with him? He was going to apologize, but for the first time he was afraid she wouldn't accept it.
He didn't have to wait too long after he knocked, after all Juvia was an early riser.
The moment she opened the door, Gray felt a thousand times worse than before; her eyes were red and swollen, her nose was also reddish and she had bags under her eyes.
It was clear that night had taken its toll on her just as much as did him.
Instead of perk up like she always did whenever he was around, Juvia stared at him and for a second it appeared as if he was looking to the woman she had been before they met. He hated that he made her look at him that way.
Gray hesitated – he didn't know what to expect from her, all their arguments were always solved quickly and were never too serious. "Can I... come in?"
Juvia studied him once more – he had his hands down his pockets, shoulders down and he bit his lower lip slightly – and narrowed her eyes. The blunette opened the door further and turned around, entering the apartment.
'Okay, this is bad.' He thought after following her and closing the door behind him. Once inside, he found her in the middle of the living room, arms crossed under her breasts and a very unfriendly expression.
Unsure of what to say, Gray took a moment to gather his thoughts and then started: "I shouldn't have done it." He said and when she didn't answer, he kept going. "What I said yesterday. I didn't mean it."
Juvia scoffed. "I know you didn't mean it; I'm not stupid."
Gray was confused. "Then why did you run off like that?"
"Because you said those words with the sole purpose of hurting me!" She hissed. "You wanted to make me feel like you don't trust me around Meredy. You wanted to push me away."
He winced at that; she was right, after all. "And I'm-"
"Don't say it!" Juvia snapped and Gray stopped talking, confused.
"What? But I came here to apol–"
"I know why you came here for." Juvia said angrily. "You came here to apologize and if you do, Juvia will accept it."
Her words made him even more confused than before. "So... Why can't I apologize?"
"I so am angry with you!" She half yelled. "And I want to stay angry with you a little longer because I don't know if I'll ever be this way again. And I have some things to say, so you'll know why you have to apologize."
"I know why I have to apologize." Gray snapped, also getting angry.
"No, you don't." Juvia snapped back at him. "Now, sit down." She pointed to the couch.
They locked their eyes for a few seconds, battling and he did what was told with a pout. What the hell was happening? He thought he was going to deal with a weepy Juvia, a Juvia who was feeling as sad as he was about the whole situation. An angry Juvia was news he was not prepared for.
Juvia started to walk from one side to the other, muttering to herself and Gray waited, after all, he was still the wrong one in this situation.
When she stopped on her tracks and turned his way, her cheeks were rosy with anger. "You said Meredy's nothing of mine. Nothing! I don't have a piece of paper telling she's my niece like you do, but I've been there with you from the start!" Juvia pointed a finger at him. "I've been there every step of the way: I've helped settle her in, I bathed her, I fed her, I told her bedtime stories, I played with her, I took her to school, I helped her with her homework. All the things you did as well. A piece of paper might tell you that you have more rights over her than I do under the law, but it means nothing when we both have the same amount of responsibility with her.
"She calls me when she feels sick, she asks me to sing to her when she can't sleep, she asks me to go to her ballet rehearsals." Juvia's eyes were watering at this point. "And I do all those things with her because I love her as if she were my own daughter. I have been hurt by your words many times, Gray. Many, many times during the time we've known each other and all of those times I let it slide, but I will not let you insinuate that I have no rights over Meredy when she's just as mine as she is yours!" The last sentence was highlighted by a poke on his chest with each word and all Gray could do was to stare at her in surprise.
"I don't know why you tried to push me away, I don't know why you tried to hurt me. You might want to push me away, but if this comes to me seeing Meredy we'll have problems."
Gray shook his head. "No, never."
"Good." Juvia nodded, putting her hand on her hip and even with one of her arms in a cast, she still looked a little intimidating. "Now, could you explain why on Earth would you snap at me like that?" He knew he had to tell her the truth, but she talked before he could. "Did I do something?"
"No." Gray sighed and rubbed his forehead.
"Did I say something?" When he hesitated, Juvia narrowed her eyes. "I did! What was it?"
"Juvia, look," Gray got up from the couch and turned around going to the door. "I shouldn't have said what I say, I'm apologizing. It won't happen again."
Her next words stopped him from turning the knob. "If you go through that door, don't come back."
"What?" Gray turned around, his expression of surprise.
Juvia seemed as surprise as he was by the words that came from her mouth, but she stuck with it. "You have been weird all week, you barely touched me and you hurt me on purpose today."
"And I apologized."
"No, you didn't. You barely said anything."
"Because you stopped me!" Gray was exasperated.
"Talk, then!" Juvia was clearly getting frustrated.
"First you want me not to apologize, then to apologize. Make up your mind!"
"You wanted a fight? Let's fight: tell me what I said to make you act like a jerk!"
"You told me you love me!" Gray said and Juvia blinked a few times before speaking.
"Is that why you acted that way the whole week?" She couldn't believe her ears. "I've said that plenty of times before and you never treated me that way."
"Because every woman I love, dies!" Gray all but yelled. "My mom, Ur, Ultear. And when you got hit by that car, there was this little voice in my head that told me that you will be next and when you said you loved me after that, I knew I loved you back and I know something bad is gonna happen to you and I just can't see it happening!"
"No! I've seen them die, I've suffered through each of their deaths and I can't watch it happen to you as well."
"And who do you think you are to decide my life?" Juvia yelled back. "You are not the only one who's had it tough. I spent my childhood going from foster home to foster home without a single person to love me. Yet, here I am: trying to take what I can, trying to make the most of what I have and what I have are you and Meredy."
"I'm…" Gray shook his head. "I am cursed or something."
"Wake up, Gray! This is not a fairy tale, it never was. What brought us together was pain and heartache but it's not what is keeping us together. Somehow two broken people fell in love with each other and we were trying to fix each other the best way they can. Juvia likes to think that we are happy. Are we not?" Maybe she expected him to answer, but he just looked away. "No one cursed you but yourself. If you think that your only path is to be unhappy, it's all you're ever going to be."
"You don't understand, Juvia." Gray shook his head. "I can't go through that again. I almost lost you last week and if I had, I don't know what I'd do."
She blinked a few times before asking, sad. "Do you want to break up with me?"
"No! I mean. I don't know." He turned and passed his hand through his hair. "Maybe it would be for the best."
"Do you think leaving me would make any of us any happier? Me? You? Meredy?" Juvia was fighting the tears.
"At least you'd be safe from me!"
They stared at each other for a few moments and Gray saw her body language change: her shoulders dropped, jaw hardened and she dried her tears. He watched as Juvia walked towards the door and opened it. She pointed out and said: "Go."
"What?" Gray blinked a few times before stepping closer to her "You said you knew I wasn't serious yesterday."
Juvia shook her head. "But this is not about yesterday. This is about the root of all of this: you think something awful will happen and it will be a topic we will always fight about because you'll panic and hurt me again."
"Your answer is to…"
"Give you what you want." She said in a whisper. "If you change your mind, you know where to find me."
"Juvia…" Gray reached for her, but Juvia moved her arm before he could touch her.
"You giving up on me?" He asked in something a little louder than a whisper.
"Never." The blunette looked at him with such sadness that Gray's heart all but broke. "But you gave up on yourself and nothing I say will help." She looked away from him, reaching for the door to open it even more. "I hope you can be happier this way."
Gray stood in front of Juvia for a few minutes, seeing her fight the tears and he felt his own eyes burn, having to fight his own away. Slowly, Gray stepped out of the apartment and when the door closed behind him, he felt his chest tighten and suddenly it was hard to breathe.
What had he done?
"My Gray?" Meredy asked in a whisper when Gray pulled her covers on top of her that night.
"I don't have to go to the theatre." She said shyly, her eyes shining with tears. "I don't want to go anymore. Juvia just signed because I asked her." Gray stopped covering her for a second, his whole body going rigid.
Well, that was just wonderful: his niece thought he had fought with Juvia because of her. The guilty had probably been eating her up ever since the night before. 'Great. Bravo, Gray.' He thought.
"You can go, Meredy." He said, sitting on the side of his niece's bed. "I'm sorry that I got angry yesterday. It wasn't right. I got mad at Juvia because I was being silly."
"So… is she coming home soon?" The six-year-old asked with a tiny voice and seeing her big green eyes so hopeful just killed Gray.
"No." He shook his head and saw Meredy lose the hopefulness in her eyes. "We had a fight."
"Did Juvia stop loving us?" Meredy's lower lip started to tremble and Gray wrapped his arms around her small frame.
"Of course not, Meredy." He said. "She's just sad because of somethings I said. Juvia still loves you very much."
"Do you miss her?"
"Yes." Gray admitted.
"Say you're sorry, then." Meredy's voice broke because of her tears. "Bring Juvia back!"
"It's not that simple."
"It is!" The girl insisted. "When I fight with one of my friends at school my teacher makes us say we're sorry and we become friends again!"
Gray sighed. "I'm sorry, Meredy. I'm sure she will visit you soon."
"I don't want a visit!" The pink haired girl cried and pushed Gray away. "I want her back!"
"Meredy…" Gray tried, but she just pulled the covers over her head and refused to talk to him no matter how much he tried. After a few minutes, he gave up. Gray kissed the top of her head over the sheets, even when the girl shook his head. He wished her goodnight and left her.
Feeling frustrated, Gray decided to go to his room instead of going down to the living room and talk to his dad – another person who was not happy about how he handled the Juvia situation.
Gray grabbed his phone and typed 'Meredy asked for you' to Juvia and sent it on the Facebook messenger. A few moments later, he saw that she had visualized it, but he received no answer. With a groan of frustration, he threw his phone on the couch and started to walk in circles inside his bedroom.
Was she really serious? She wouldn't even answer his messages? How was he supposed to do anything? How was she? Was she missing him too?
"Damn it." Gray muttered to himself before deciding that he was not staying home feeling like shit.
Grabbing his coat and wallet, Gray went down and announced to his father that he was going out. Silver frowned and followed his son as he searched for his keys. "Where are you going?"
"To get drunk because my life sucks." It was Gray's answer.
Silver scowled. "It didn't suck before."
Gray hummed in agreement. "I'll add the 'I'm an idiot' to the list of things that I suck. Don't worry, it's not a long list, it's just under as 'everyone I love dies', 'I have abandonment issues' and 'I push people away because I'm afraid to love'." He found the keys and when his father tried to protest, Gray held his hand to stop him. "Don't worry, I won't drive home. Don't wait up."
Before Silver could protest, Gray was out of the door.
Gray drank another big gulp of vodka and motioned the bartender to give him another and when the man said it was Gray's last shot, he booed. Who did that guy thought he was? Gray wanted to drink away his sorrows and the dude was being a tool.
Of course Gray knew he was helpless drunk at his point, but it didn't matter. All he wanted to do was to forget about the fact that he had found someone who loved him and he loved right back and then he became afraid and ruined it.
Oh, well. Gray grabbed his phone and searched for Juvia's contact. He was already thinking of her, he could just as well call her. It was just 3:14 a.m. Maybe she was up.
Frowning after hearing that her phone was turned off, Gray thought about calling his father, but he would probably hear a sermon in the morning and didn't need to hear it any sooner. Who else would hear him bitch about how shitty his life was at the moment?
Gray chuckled drunkenly when he thought of Lyon and promptly called his brother.
"What the hell, Gray?" Lyon's sleepy voice came from the other side. "It's 3:15 in the morning! Who died?"
"My love life." Gray snorted. "And I died a little inside too. Does that count?"
"What?" Lyon was clearly confused.
"Juvia and I broke up." He admitted. "I think."
"You are kidding me."
"Nope. It happened today." Gray paused. "No, wait. It's past midnight, right? So it was yesterday."
"What the fuck did you do?" Lyon asked.
"Why do you think I did something?" Gray was offended.
"Did you?" His brother challenged him.
Gray sighed in annoyance. "Maybe."
"Tell me." Lyon ordered and Gray tried his best to tell his side of the story even though he was wasted and would have a mean hangover the next morning. "You are a fucking idiot!" Lyon exclaimed once Gray finished his tale.
"Yeap." Gray rested his head on his table, phone still on his ear. "I've got a list about it and everything."
"Look, I've seen you doing stupid shit in your life, but this is the biggest."
"Preach it brother." Gray said and snorted.
"Hey, don't go laughing about it!" Lyon was angry. "You had a life people would die for – a live I would die for – and you just… argh, Gray!"
"Oh no. I don't care what you have to do but you need to make things right." His brother said. "Listen to me: you are going to go home, be hungover in the morning and when you are feeling better, you are going to Juvia-chan's apartment and you'll beg for forgiveness."
"Lyon…" Gray whined.
"Gray, I need you to get your happy ending." Lyon said. "You and Juvia are the closest thing I'll ever get to see as a couple who are meant to be together and I need to see you happy because then I'll know that I can get happy too!" When Gray didn't answer, his brother kept talking. "You had a life just like mine last year: work, occasionally go out with some people, hook up from time to time and I bet that it was all fine for you because you didn't know better. But then, you got Meredy. Then you got Juvia – as a matter of fact you always had her, but officially it happened last year.
"I've seen you happy before, Gray, when mom was alive and I hadn't seen you that way ever since she died. But then, I went to visit you after you started dating Juvia and you were truly happy with just putting your arm around her shoulder when we went out." Lyon took a deep breath. "I told you before that I want to have what you have because I want to be happy too. I want to love someone who loves me back. And I never had that, Gray, not in a romantic sense, and if I miss it greatly without ever having it, I think you are probably dying inside."
Gritting his teeth, Gray sobered up a little bit. "You don't know how much it fucking hurts."
"Then why the hell are you being such a stubborn jerk?!" Lyon asked in disbelief.
"Because it will be a thousand times worse when something inevitable awful happens to take her away from me." Gray said angrily. "I am trying to get out while I can."
"Oh, brother, you should've had gotten out way before now, then." Lyon snorted. "Listen up: shitty things happen all the time to everyone. Yeah, it's not just you, so come down from your pedestal. If you keep waiting for the crap to hit the fan, you'll lose all the times you had it pretty good. So, my advice is: if you have so much certain that something bad is going to happen, enjoy the best you can before you lose it.
"I'm not going to tell you that if something happen you won't be devastated because you will be. I'm just saying that you should live up the best you can and if the time ever comes, you can think back and smile because of the memories." Lyon breathed. "Right now, you and your fear are the 'something inevitable awful happening to take her away from you'. And this is the worst way of losing someone: while they are still within your reach."
Gray stayed in silence for a few moments before sighing. "I'm way too drunk for this."
"Call me in the morning and I'll tell you everything again." Gray could almost hear the smirk in Lyon's voice. Then, he said softly: "Go home, Gray, and think about your life without the woman you love."
Silver was still awake when Gray arrived home by taxi. He helped his son reach his bedroom and sighed when Gray asked for his phone so he could call Juvia once again.
"She won't answer me, dad." He whined.
"Probably because it's four in the morning and she's most likely asleep, kid." Silver tried to reason with his son and took the phone from him. "You can call her in the morning when you are feeling the worst headache of your life."
"I deserve the headache." Gray whispered. "I hurt her."
"You did." Silver put him on the bed and pushed him down until he was lying on it. "But you still have the time to make things right."
"Really?" Gray asked, his eyes closing.
"Good. I called Lyon and before he hung up, he said that if I didn't, he would ask her out." Gray muttered, almost asleep. "I don't want her with him. Or anyone."
Silver chuckled. "Better hurry, then, son. Your brother is quite smitten with her."
The next day, true to his father's words, Gray had the worst headache of his life. Well, he did drink as much as he could. He also remembered his brother's words and he thought about his life with Juvia. Then without.
Suddenly, his headache meant nothing in comparison.
After taking a shower and taking some aspirins, Gray finally went down the stairs and saw his father and his niece watching some silly cartoon on tv.
"Good morning." His voice was hoarse.
Both of them turned their heads into his direction. "It's after lunch already, My Gray." Meredy informed him.
"Good afternoon, then." Gray sat on the other side of Meredy.
"Do you want anything to eat?" Silver offered and Gray's stomach turned.
"No, thank you." He answered. "Meredy," the girl looked up to him "I'm going to do as you said, I'll ask Juvia to forgive me."
"Good!" The girl smiled.
"Gray." Silver said and he looked at his father. "She called me early this morning. She's going to be out of town this week."
"A friend of hers borrowed their key to a house near a lake and she took it. She called just to let me know that there are no phones there and to talk to Meredy for a while."
"Goddammit." Gray said and groaned in frustration. "Did she say when she's returning?"
Silver shook his head. "Sorry, kid."
Six days later, when Juvia arrived at her apartment, Gray was standing in front of her door, his hands inside the pockets of his pants and he was looking like he hadn't slept in days. Juvia wasn't looking the best either, but at least she wasn't wearing the cast anymore. She had been clearly on the market, as she had two paper bags with her.
Once she saw him, Juvia stopped and he looked up, feeling his heart beat faster about seeing her again after so long.
"You took off the cast."
"Yesterday." It was her simple answer and they kept staring at each other for a few more moments. "What are you doing here?"
"You told me that I'd know where to find you if I changed my mind." Juvia stared at him for a few seconds and he took it as consent to keep talking. "I know what I said to you last week was unfair and untrue. You are the closest thing Meredy has for a mother and you were right: I was trying to hurt you." He tried to think about the speech he had been preparing the whole week. "I saw you at that hospital bed and the next thing I know, you are telling me you love me like it is the most normal thing in the world and something inside me just snapped.
"You have to understand… I lost all the women I loved the most and in my mind, if I love you, I am sentencing you to their same fate. And when you said those words just before you fell asleep, I just knew that I loved you back and it terrified me like you wouldn't believe." Gray looked at her and saw Juvia bite her lower lip. "In my head, just because I love you, it means something bad is going to happen to you and you'll leave me alone. Again.
"I wanted to push you away from me, to try to save you. Yes, I know it is stupid, because I am way too deep to get out now. I can't see my future without you and this week was pure torture because I had no way of contacting you and it was driving me crazy." He took a breath. "You were right, there was nothing you could've said to make me change my mind; I had to lose you to know how much I can't lose you."
Gray watched as Juvia put the bags with her shopping on the ground and when she looked at him that time, she was trying to dry some tears that were falling. "You make it so hard to love you sometimes. So hard." Juvia whispered and it was as if something snapped inside Gray because his eyes wide open, terrified. He was afraid she wasn't going to take him back. Before Juvia could ask him what was wrong, he strode towards her and wrapped his arms around her, tight.
"Don't leave me." Gray sounded boarding on panicking. "Please."
"Gray-sama?" Juvia was taken back with his reaction.
"I'll do better, I promise, just don't leave me." He whispered, his face hidden on her chest.
She wrapped her arm around him. "I won't leave you. Ever. No matter what, Juvia is here for you. You can try to push me away, but I will always be here."
Gray's grip on her got tighter. "I can't lose you and I'm scared I might. I am stupid and I say things I don't mean because I…"
"You can take your time. Juvia is not giving up on you." Juvia tried to pull him up to see his face, but he didn't let her.
"I can't live without you anymore." Gray's words were barely a whisper by then. "I never thought I would need someone as I need you. I know I tried to push you away, but I you can never believe me if I say that, do you understand? I know it is hard to be with me, but-"
"Gray-sama." Juvia was finally able to make him look at her and she offered him a watery smile. "Love is supposed to be hard, otherwise we take it from granted. Juvia was never leaving you, she was giving you space to think. It hurt so much to do it, to ask you to leave, but if I hadn't done it, nothing would change, do you understand that?" Gray nodded and she put a hand on his cheek. "Juvia will try to understand when you get scared, but you have to talk to me like you just did, not say rude things to push me away."
"I'm so sorry."
"I know, I know." Juvia rested his forehead with his. "It doesn't matter now. Just promise me you'll try."
"I will." Gray said without hesitation.
"That's all Juvia can ask." The blunette kissed his mouth slightly and Gray sighed in relief and the gesture was so tender that all it could be was a gesture of love. "Come one inside." Juvia whispered after their lips parted. "You look like you could use something to eat. And a nap."
Not wanting to be away from her after just getting her back, Gray nodded promptly. He had been eating just to humor his father and niece, but sleep ran away from him during that week; he'd grown too used to have her in his arms to sleep well without her.
"I could use a few hundred naps, actually." He said, reaching for the bags on the floor while Juvia opened the door of her apartment.
"We can have as many as you want. Juvia needs some too." She said with a small smile over her shoulder and Gray couldn't help but to feel his heart beat faster in realization that she was still willing to be with him. He still had a chance to be happy and he wasn't going to ruin it.