For a few nights after their fight, Meredy insisted on falling asleep between Gray and Juvia; once she fell asleep, Gray would take her to her bed and return to his own, just to make love with his girlfriend and fall asleep in her arms.
He was being even more affectionate than he was before when they were alone. In public, he still held himself to do it, but there was just the two of them, he would kiss her and touch her tenderly.
Juvia was enjoying it as much as she could, knowing that it was a matter of time before he was normal again.
A month and a half later, in Gray's birthday, there was a small gathering in his house where they had a dinner to celebrate and as his birthday gift, Juvia gave him tickets to his favorite Hockey team game the next week and he couldn't be happier – he had played in college and it was the sport he loved.
Juvia purchased two shirts from the Magnolia's Fairies: one for her and a smaller version to Meredy. The dark blue and the gold yellow were a great combination and very distinguished. At the day of the game, the girls had their hair in pigtails and it appeared that Juvia had her mind set on spending all her phone's memory if the quantity of pictures she was taking was any indication.
After indulging his girlfriend in taking some pictures of the three of them, they finally were on their way. Meredy was excited, as she never went to a game before and during the whole way, Gray tried to explain the way the game worked and Meredy listened, focused.
"Do you think we will appear on TV, My Gray?" Meredy asked, excited. Her uncle had put her over his shoulders until they found their spot, her legs in each side of his neck; and while he grabbed her feet just in case, Meredy had a hold on his thick black hair.
"We might." Gray answered. "They show the crowed when it's half-time."
"I told Grandpa and Uncle Lyon to look for me." She exclaimed and Gray chuckled.
"With your pink hair and Juvia's blue, we won't be hard to find."
"Those are our seats." Juvia said, looking over her shoulder to where they were a few steps behind. "Time to get down, honey." The blunette helped Meredy get down from Gray's shoulders and the girls went to their seats while Gray told them he was going to buy some things for them to eat.
After teaching both Juvia and Meredy how to eat Caramades Franks, the game started and it was adorable to see Meredy cheer when Gray cheered and booing when Gray booed. At some point, Meredy was in Gray's arms explaining what was happening and she was listening, avidly. And when the Fairies scored, Meredy cheered loudly in her uncles arms and Juvia couldn't help but to laugh at them.
"We are winning, Juvia!" Meredy said once it was half time and Gray had put her down to her seat once more.
"I know." The blunette offered the girl a bottle of water and told her to drink it and then give it to her uncle. "How do you like your birthday gift?" She asked Gray, who grinned.
"Very much. I haven't been in a game in a couple of years. Thank you."
"It appears that someone here will be dragging you into more games." Juvia pointed to Meredy, whom had just finish her drink and offered the bottle to Gray.
"Good." He took the bottle, but before he could drink it, Meredy yelled, excited.
"We are on the big screen!" Both adults looked up and saw that indeed, they were at the big TV – the kiss cam.
"No way in hell." Gray complained, but Juvia just laughed.
"Come on." Juvia winked at him and kissed Meredy's cheek and a moment later, Gray kissed the girl's other cheek and everyone at the stadium 'awed' when Meredy put each arm around one of them and laughed. A second later, they stopped kissing her cheek, Juvia took that opportunity to steal a quick peck on Gray's lips and the crowd cheered.
When the image changed to another couple, Gray was as red as a tomato with Juvia and Meredy laughing at him. He couldn't deny that he was happy, though.
"My dad sent me about thirty texts, telling me that he saw the thing with the kiss cam and he is searching the video online and will be printing about ten thousand of you, me and Meredy." Gray said once Juvia came in the room after putting Meredy to sleep – the girl took a shower and was asleep a minute after her head hit the pillow.
Juvia chuckled and kicked off her sneakers. "It was pretty adorable."
"Argh, I hate being adorable." Gray complained, taking off his shirt. "I bet my dad is going to have a poster of that delivered here."
"He might." Juvia shrugged off and when Gray stared at her, he saw her push her shorts down, her shirt's length reached the middle of her thighs and he gulped. She looked beautiful in dark blue, but looked much better with nothing at all. "What do you say Juvia makes you forget about that? She can be your backwasher." She took off the shirt, revealing the underwear he loved the most: red and with well-placed bows.
Gray nodded and let himself be guided towards his bathroom by his beautiful girlfriend and some silly kiss had been the last thing in his mind.
When Gajeel and Levy announced they were getting married in a month, everyone was ecstatic with the news, especially the girls, but all their plans fell off when the couple told them that they would only get married legally at the forum. They were saving money to buy a house and to throw a party would be too much money they'd rather save for their house.
"That is so sad." Juvia said that night when she was putting one of Gray's shirts so they could sleep. "Levy-san wants a wedding, but because of their wedding, but because of their money situation, it's being postponed."
"They are being smart, Juvia." Gray replied from the bed. "They want to get married and they want to buy a house. They need a house to live, they don't need a wedding."
Juvia gasped. "Of course they do!"
"A wedding party is more of an extravagance than anything. They are going to be as married when they sign the papers as if they have a party." Gray shrugged and watched as she joined him on the bed.
"You don't understand." Juvia sat next to him. "Some women are fine with never getting married, others are okay with just signing papers, but some women like Levy-san, Lucy-san and me, we want that, we want to get married with a party because otherwise it might not feel like you just got married." She sighed. "I think they will feel something is missing. The wedding party is like a rite of passage."
"They will have that party when they can, Juvia. Gajeel and Levy have a son to think about and they had to prioritize: a house for him to grow up or a party and they chose to buy a house for their future."
"I know." Juvia rested her head on his chest. "I just wished that there was a way to-" Gray felt Juvia's body tense and then she sat on the bed and Gray sat too, staring at her, and he could see in her eyes that she was thinking very hard about something.
"Oh, I know that look." Gray said and when Juvia looked at her boyfriend with a grin, and gave him a peck on the lips.
"Juvia has something to do!"
She got up from the bed and grabbed her phone before pushing some buttons and run out of the bedroom, and yet Gray still heard her say "Hi Lucy-san! Juvia hopes she is not bothering you…."
Gray just rolled his eyes and lied back on the bed, knowing that Juvia would stay on the phone for a little while. Only god knew what was happening inside her head.
A month later, it was finally the day Levy and Gajeel were going to get married and even though they wouldn't have a party, they were going to throw a small dinner party at the Guild just to celebrate the date.
Their guild mates, though, had other plans.
Gray and Juvia were outside the city hall when Levy and Gajeel got out and to say that the couple was surprised to see them there was an understatement.
"Hi!" Levy said, giving Metty to Juvia, who was already cooing to the boy. "What are you guys doing here?"
"We are here to take you to the Guild." Gray told is friend. "But I'm afraid we will have to take two cars for that. We are taking different routes here."
"What are you talking about?" Gajeel frowned when Gray put a hand on his shoulder and pushed him towards his car.
"Trust me, Gajeel." Gray said and could see the other man look over his shoulder, to where Juvia was and when his friend nodded, he relaxed and went with Gray.
"Can you tell me what is going on?" Levy frowned when Juvia gave Metalicana back to her and opened the door of her car.
"You'll see in a few minutes. Now come on." Juvia pointed to the inside of the car. "Get in. You'll like it, I promise." Levy stared at her friend with doubt, but did what was told and Juvia almost skipped all the way to the driver's side.
"Juvia, could you please tell me what is going on?" Levy asked when they got out of the car; Juvia parked on the Guild's side and after locking the car, they entered by a door Levy didn't even know it existed. The path was dark and dusty, but she followed Juvia with her son close to her chest.
From far away, Levy could hear girls talking. Juvia stopped and took Metty from his mother's arms and motioned for Levy to keep walking. There was a door that was half-closed and Levy pushed it quietly. What she saw, made her eyes widen.
All their female friends were there, hairs up and done, dresses in yellow shades and with their make-ups ready. Meredy and Asuka were wearing puffy yellow dresses as well. "What is happening?" Levy asked, in a whisper.
"We couldn't let you get married without a wedding party." Lucy said. Her hair was up in a bun and her dress was beautifully well-cut. "It's not much, but we tried to surprise you and we hope you like it."
Levy was still in shock and she looked down to the simple white summer dress she was wearing for the sign of the papers. "I can't… You are all dress up and I'm…"
Juvia stepped closer to her friend and put a hand on her shoulder. "We took care of that. Why do you think we went to that dress shop last week?" Juvia pointed to the opposite side of the room, where there was a mannequin with a wedding dress on. It was strapless, on the bust there were some crystals and it had a fishtail.
Stunned, Levy took a few steps towards the mannequin and blinked a few times before saying: "This is the one I liked. It fit perfectly."
"We know." Lucy said, standing close to Juvia. "We couldn't afford buying it, so we rent it. Tonight, it is yours." The blonde smiled and then pointed behind her, where there was a man behind all the girls. "I even brought Cancer. He is going to do your hair and make-up. Gray took Gajeel to put on his tux. Now chop chop! We don't want you late for your surprise wedding!"
Levy couldn't help it anymore and started to cry. She took a few steps and hugged both Lucy and Juvia – Metty was a little smashed with it, but didn't complain – and when she stopped, she went to hug the others as well.
"Come on, girls! We have to make the bride get ready in time!" Lucy told the others, trying to dry her own tears. Juvia smiled and kissed Metty's chubby cheeks and proceeded to put the little tux they rented for him.
When Levy saw the Guild, she almost fell into tears once more and understood why they had to enter through the side, otherwise she would've seen it. There were tiny lightbulbs on the ceiling, between the tables – which were covered with white linens and had yellow daisies as center pieces – there was a red carpet leading to a made-up altar where Master Makarov was waiting for them.
Gajeel was also there, waiting, black tuxedo and hair pulled back and looking very handsome and she would never forget about the way he looked at her when she stepped inside the Guild. He was holding their son, who was wearing a miniature of Gajeel's tux and looked adorable – Juvia must've given Metty to his father when she walked the aisle with Gray. Her bridesmaids had walked down the aisle with their significant other and when she reached the made-up alter, she was smiling so brightly she was afraid it was all a dream.
"Did you know about this?" Levy whispered once she was close enough to Gajeel.
"Not a clue." He smirked and they turned to the Master, who started performing their wedding.
Gray put an arm over Juvia's stomach and pulled her body closer to his as he hugged from behind and he felt her relax her body. They were watching as the newlywed couple danced their song – plus Meredy and Asuka not too far away from where they were, but no one had the heart to call their attention.
"You are amazing." Gray whispered in her ear and he felt her shudder. God, he loved to get that reaction from her. "You made a whole wedding happen in less than a month."
"Juvia had help." She looked over her shoulder to stare at him.
"It doesn't matter." He kissed her lips. "You made this happen. It is simple and it is beautiful and by the way Levy cried, she loved it."
"Juvia was just doing what she would like someone did for her." The blunette shrugged and returned her gaze to the couple. "They make such a beautiful couple." Gray hummed in agreement. "They will be fine, won't they? Look at how he looks at her. He might not see it, but his eyes light up when she enters the room."
"They will be fine." Gray assured her and saw other couples go to the dance floor. "Now come, let's dance as well."
They swung with the music's rhythm; Gray had his hands on her hips while Juvia had her arms around his shoulders. He would never admit, but he liked dancing with Juvia. It reminded him of how good she felt when they slept next to each other, how much he loved her warmth and the sound of her breathing.
A couple of songs later, Gray felt a tap on his shoulder and when he looked over to see who it was, came as a surprise to see Gajeel.
"My wife is dancing with one of her moron friends and I thought I would do the same and find my moron friend." The red-eyed man said with a smirk and it earned a slap on his chest by Juvia.
"Go ahead." Gray stepped away. "Meredy will want to dance with me, I'm sure."
Juvia accepted Gajeel's hand and put her other on his shoulder and they started to dance. "You behaved properly today. Juvia's surprised."
"Well, I'm surprise I had a wedding party so I guess we are even." He said and Juvia laughed.
"I guess we are."
They stayed in silence for a few moments before he spoke again. "Thank you."
"You don't have to-"
"I do, Juvia." Gajeel looked her in the eye. "You know I don't care about all this crap, to me it was enough that piece of paper we signed earlier, but not to her. She wanted this and it killed me that I couldn't give her that. But we need the money for a house because we have a son and we need to think about him now, not ourselves." Gajeel took a breath. "I know it was your idea, Gray told me, and I wasn't even surprised."
"Lucy-san helped too." Juvia shrugged.
"Everyone helped, I know everyone put a little money into tonight, but I also know you are the one who put more."
Juvia's eyes watered. "I don't have a family, Gajeel-kun. I never met my parents, I don't know if I ever had any siblings. However, ten years ago I met you and you made me so angry with you because you were such an asshole back then, but before I knew, you were there when I needed you and you became my best friend. Now, I consider you my brother even if you don't consider me back." A few tears fell down, but even so she smiled. "And Juvia will do anything in her power to make you happy; and if making you happy is making your wife happy, Juvia will do it."
Gajeel stared at her for a moment before pulling her to his chest and danced for a few moments and Juvia just took the moment to enjoy his hold on her – a hug from him was very rare. When the son was almost over and Juvia looked up to her friend and it surprised her when he rested his forehead on hers and said quietly: "I consider you, too."
It took a moment for her to understand his words and when she finally did, she put her hands on his cheeks, pushed his face away a little and kissed his forehead before releasing him and turned around, walking away from the guests. She went in Gray's and Meredy's direction and when she was close enough, Meredy frowned when she saw Juvia's tears and so did Gray.
"Why are you sad?" Meredy asked, putting a hand on Juvia's cheek when the blunette leaned to kiss the girl's cheek.
"I'm not, sweetheart." Juvia said. "It's just that Gajeel-kun was all the family I knew for a long time and now he is all grown up with his own family."
"Oh." Meredy rolled her eyes. "And you have us now, Juvia! Me, My Gray, Grandpa and Uncle Lyon!"
"Of course, silly me." Juvia smiled, trying to hold her emotions back. "Go play with Asuka, she was searching for you."
"Okay!" Meredy bolted with no care in the world.
"Are you okay?" Gray asked, taking off his coat and offering it to her.
"I'm fine. Meredy was right." Juvia smiled and after she put the coat on, she kissed her boyfriend. "I love you." Knowing that it was hard for him to say the words, Juvia just hugged him and saw as the guests had fun.
For four days, Gajeel and Levy went to a nearby town to spend their honeymoon, leaving Metalicana two days with Lucy and Natsu and the other two days with Juvia and Gray. When they returned and went to pick up their son, Levy hugged Juvia and thanked for the surprise.
"It was very simple. Maybe in a couple of years you can do the wedding as you like."
"No." Levy shook her head. "That, Juvia, was my wedding. It was everything I wanted. Thank you."
The blunettes parted ways with teary eyes and Gray had to hold Juvia while she cried in joy for her friends and their very well matched marriage; they were meant to each other and it made her really happy.
A couple of weeks later, Lyon called, announcing he had a date the next day and he was really nervous because it had been a long time since he had one and he spent hours on the phone with Juvia, going over the possible details and outcomes.
Silver visited a week later and even though Juvia's job became frantic and she barely had time to stay and talk for long, Silver always made her feel at home. He liked her company especially when Meredy was also there, so he could have his girls to himself – Gray often had to remind his father that he was in the room with them.
A few days after Silver's last visit, Gray was doing the dishes while Juvia dried them, when he spoke. "Oh, right, I have good news."
"Hm?" Juvia said, paying half attention.
"Meredy is going to have sleepovers at my dad's and at Lyon's during the weekends." Gray said.
Juvia looked surprised. "Really?"
"Yeap." Gray nodded, finishing the last plate. "One weekend she stays with my dad, the other with us, the next with Lyon, then back at us and start over with my dad again." Gray dried his hands on the cloth Juvia was holding.
Juvia frowned. "And why is that?"
"Because she needs time with the rest of her family and we need time together alone." Gray put his hands on her hips. "Ever since we got together, there's you, me and Meredy too. Don't get me wrong, we love her, but I think it's good for us to have some time alone." Gray kissed her lips and proceed to kiss his way down to her jaw.
Juvia giggled. "Who are you and what have you done with my Gray-sama?"
"What do you mean?" He asked between kisses.
"A year ago you would've been running away from me and now you want time alone?" Juvia said, playfully, but Gray's body hardened and he stopped his kisses, choosing to look into her eyes instead.
"During the past year, I've lost my sister, gained the guardianship of a five-year-old, re-bonded with my brother and returned my relationship with my father. And you helped me with all of that. I am not the same man I was a year ago. And I am not the same man I was last month before I thought I lost you."
"Gray-sama…" She touched his cheek.
"Yeah, yeah, I know." Gray rolled his eyes. "I am not good with words, Juvia, you know that. I just…. I'm just trying to do what I can to be happy and part of that is to have you all for myself a couple of days every other week."
Her eyes watered. "I think this is the most romantic thing you said to me."
Gray chuckled and kissed his girlfriend on the lips. When they deepened the kiss and Juvia let out a small moan of contentment, Gray grabbed her by under her thighs and pulled her up so she could sit on the counter. When he tried to push her blouse away, Juvia stopped him.
"Meredy might come down." She whispered.
"See? We need a few days to ourselves." He complained, but smiled when Juvia came down from the counter, grabbed his hand and lead them up the stairs, laughing like teenagers.
When Juvia arrived at his house after work, Gray knew there was something off about her. She was too pale and her eyes were red, but he chose not to ask about it in front of Meredy. Once the girl was watching some kid show on TV, Gray pulled Juvia to the side and asked her, softly:
"Hey." He said. "Are you alright?"
Juvia shook her head 'no' and Gray put an arm around her shoulder. "The son of my coworker died earlier today. He was eight." She finally let some tears fall and he brought her closer to him. "He had an inoperable brain aneurysm and today it just…"
"I'm sorry." Gray kissed the top of her head. "Did you know him?"
"Yes." She nodded. "Juvia met him a couple of times whenever he went to the office. His mother would let him with me when she was too busy. He was such a sweet boy." Knowing that there was nothing he could say to make her feel better, Gray kept his arms around her, offering support. "The funeral is tomorrow afternoon."
"I'll go with you." Gray said and when Juvia tried to argue, he didn't cave. "Don't even think about it. I'm going. I didn't know the boy and I don't know his parents, but I know you and you need someone there with you. And that's my job."
Juvia smiled through her tears. "Thank you."
"Of course." Gray touched her cheek. "Now come on, you are exhausted and about to drop. Go take a hot shower while I put Meredy to bed, I'll be up in a few minutes."
"Would you… Would you mind if she slept with us tonight?" Juvia asked, shyly. "I just need to know that…" She gulped. "That day with the car accident keeps coming to my mind and Juvia might feel better if…"
"Sure." Gray agreed, talking kindly to her. He also would like to have his niece next to him if a child someone he knew died. Juvia nodded, kissed his cheek and let herself be guided by him.
The next day, when Juvia was finishing getting ready to the funeral, Gray went to see if Meredy was all done to go and found her playing with her dolls.
"We are going in a few minutes, Meredy."
"I don't want to go." The girl scowled. "It's going to be boring."
Gray sighed. "No one likes funerals, Mer, but this is important to Juvia. You don't realize it yet, but she didn't need to stay with us, yet she was here when we needed her the most. Now it's our turn to be there for her."
Meredy seemed to ponder the words for a moment before she nodded and put her dolls down. "Okay."
"Now remember to be on your best behavior, alright?" Gray offered the little girl his hand and she took it. "We won't stay there too long."
"Gray-sama? Meredy?" Juvia called from the hallway and they went to meet her.
The funeral was a quiet ordeal; people whispered and shed tears as expected. Juvia talked to a few people, introducing Gray and Meredy and after a few minutes they had arrived, she pointed to a brunette woman who was sitting next to a photograph of a little boy with brown curly hair, green eyes and a dimple on his left cheek. He looked to be a good kid.
"Hellen?" Juvia approached the woman, who looked up – her eyes were green just like her son's and they were red and swollen while Gray and Meredy stood a few steps behind. "I'm so sorry." Juvia bent to hug her.
"Thank you." Hellen answered and Juvia took one of the woman's hand between her own. "We knew it was going to happen, but it doesn't make it any easier."
"I know." Juvia was fighting her tears. "You have to be strong for your husband and your children." Juvia had told Gray that Hellen had two young daughters.
"Yes. But it's so hard." Hellen cried and Juvia nodded.
Distracted with the situation, Gray only realized Meredy wasn't by his side anymore when he saw her stand next to Juvia, looking at the weeping woman with curiosity.
"My mom died too." Meredy blurted out and Gray stepped in to take her away, mortified and so did Juvia.
"I'm sorry." Gray told Hellen, trying to pull the girl away.
"Is that your son?" Meredy pointed to the photograph next to Hellen and the woman's attention was on the little girl. She nodded and Meredy looked to it and then back to Hellen. "I have a picture of my mom beside my bed and I talk to her every night before I sleep." Meredy told the woman and Gray shared a look with Juvia and let the child go, letting her speak. "She is in heaven. Is your son in heaven?"
Hellen smiled sadly. "I believe so."
"What's his name?"
"Jake." Hellen said the name with a broken voice.
Meredy seemed to ponder the answer for a few moments. "When I talk to my mom tonight, I'm gonna ask her to take care of him, okay? She was a good mom, don't worry. She'll take care of Jake for you, just like My Gray and My Juvia take care of me."
The woman started to cry and managed to say: "Thank you."
"Why are you crying? Did I say something wrong?" Meredy looked up to Juvia, who also had tears in her eyes, but was Hellen who spoke.
"No, sweetheart, you said everything right." She dried her tears and opened her arms a bit. "Can I get a hug?" Meredy nodded and hugged the woman for a few moments. "I feel better now that I know you'll ask your mom to take care of my son." Hellen told Meredy, quietly, and released the girl. "Thank you."
"You're welcome." Meredy smiled to Hellen and Gray swooped her from the floor into his arms and walked a few steps away, to wait for Juvia.
"I'm sorry she-" Juvia tried to speak, but Hellen cut her off.
"Don't be. She was the only one who made me feel less hopeless today." The brunette told Juvia. "She is a sweet girl, Juvia."
"She is." Juvia smiled and hugged Hellen.
A couple of hours later when they were at the car, going to Gray's house, Meredy fell asleep on the backseat and Juvia looked at her over her own seat and told her boyfriend. "We are so lucky. She's so perfect and I love her so much that I actually forget she's not mine."
"She is." Gray put a hand on her thigh and squeezed it, while his eyes were at the road ahead. "She has been for the past ten months. You might not have a paper, but she's as yours as she is mine."
"I know." Juvia sighed.
Juvia fell on top of Gray, panting and boneless while Gray had the same problem with shortness of breath while underneath her. They had been enjoying the first weekend Meredy spent away with Silver. With the new liberty of having the house to themselves, the couple spent the two days christening everywhere they could.
Gray had the strength to push Juvia up enough so he could exit her before letting her keep resting on top of him – before starting dating her, Gray wasn't much of a fan of a girl on top, but Juvia made him look forward to when they were in the mood for it.
"Your dad will be bringing Meredy in half an hour." Juvia murmured, still not able to move – not that he minded – and Gray just grunted in response. "We need to take a shower." He grunted again. "Come on, get up."
"You first." Gray said and he could feel her chuckling.
"Maybe two days having sex are too much and we should be more watchful on that?"
Gray sat, then, bringing her with him so she was straddling him. "No way. When Meredy's here, we have to be quiet." Gray kissed Juvia's collarbone and trailed down. "I like when you are loud." He had one of her nipples in his mouth and she gasped.
"We can't anymore." Juvia pushed him away. "We only have half an hour and Juvia's getting sore."
The word sobered Gray up the same moment. "Did I hurt you?"
"No, no." Juvia told him vehemently. "But if Meredy were gone another day, it would start to hurt. Right now Juvia is just sore enough that she is reminded we made love these past couple of days." She kissed his lips, but he still looked at her with doubt. "Juvia enjoyed every second of this weekend, Gray-sama. Juvia will tell you if we cross a line, alright?" After a moment's hesitance, he nodded. "Good, now let's take a shower." She got up from the bed and Gray disposed of the condom they wore before getting up as well. "Juvia will stay for a few minutes after Silver-sama and Meredy arrive and then she will leave."
Gray stopped on the bathroom door, confused. "Why?"
"'Why' what?" Juvia asked.
"Why will you leave?"
"Juvia ran out of clean clothes to wear and she hasn't been in her apartment for a week." Juvia chuckled. "Juvia has to spend at least a few days there so the landlord won't think I don't live there anymore."
She stepped under the hot water and Gray followed her, but half of his mind was working over the fact that he didn't want her to go to her apartment.
A few days later, Juvia was still spending another night at her apartment, so when Meredy asked if she could stay in Gray's bed until he fell asleep, he agreed. The little girl was playing coloring with her tablet when Gray casually asked: "Meredy?" She hummed in acknowledgement. "What would you think if Juvia lived here with us?"
"What?" She frowned and looked up to her uncle. "She lives with us."
Of course she had misinterpreted that, after all, ever since they became a couple, Juvia had slept at his house more times than not.
"No, she doesn't." Gray clarified. "She stays here a lot, but she has her own apartment. That's where she is now."
Meredy put her tablet aside to look at her uncle. "But she's here all the time. She lives with us."
"Well, she doesn't," he clarified "but what I want to know is if you would be okay with that. I know she's here a lot and I know you like to have her here, but I am just making sure you want her to live here and-" He stopped when he saw her giggling. "What is it?"
"You talk funny when you are nervous."
"I'm not nervous." Gray rolled his eyes. "So, what do you think?"
"She lives with us." Meredy insisted and then shrugged. "I like her here."
They stayed in silence for a few moments before he spoke again: "Hey, Mer… what do you think about Juvia staying with us forever?"
Three weeks later on Juvia's birthday, they spent the day at the Guild, celebrating with their friends and the attention was being divided between the birthday girl and Lucy, whom had shared just a week before that she and Natsu were expecting their first child and they couldn't be happier.
After a lovely afternoon, they went home, where Silver and Lyon were preparing Juvia a birthday dinner and when the couple plus Meredy arrived, it actually smelled really good. The boys were so proud of their work that they told everyone to put more formal clothes.
Once they were dressed all fancy, they sang Happy Birthday to Juvia and ate the delicious food Lyon and Silver prepared, Meredy yelled it was gift time and they went to the living room.
"Mine first, mine first!" Meredy exclaimed in excitement, her pink curls bouncing as she ran to the laundry room. "I hid it so you couldn't find it!" The girl was proud of herself as she gave the small package to Juvia. "Open, open, open!"
Juvia opened with care and she saw what it was a small box and when she opened, the blunette gasped. It was a golden necklace with a locket in a shape of a heart and when she opened it, she felt her eyes burn with unshed tears: inside there was the picture of Juvia and Gray kissing Meredy's cheeks on the game they went.
"This is-" Juvia tried, but her voice failed her. "I loved it, sweetheart, thank you." She hugged the girl, who hugged her back.
"It's Grandpa gift too." Meredy pointed out. "I chose, but I didn't have money to pay…" Everyone laughed and Juvia got up from the couch to hug the older man.
"Anything for you, darling girl." Silver grinned.
Lyon got up and stepped closer to her, offering an envelope. "My gift is not as fancy, but I think that you deserve this after putting up with Gray for so long."
"Hey!" Gray protested and watched as Juvia opened her gift and her face lit up with happiness.
"Two days at a spa?" She beamed. "Thank you, Lyon-san!" Juvia hugged her boyfriend's brother – Lyon might have or not held her a little longer than he should've.
"I guess it's my turn now, huh." Gray said and Juvia turned to look at him and saw him with his hands on his pockets. "I thought about what to give you, but I couldn't come up with anything. So, instead I gathered the courage to finally man up and say some things to you. So, pay attention because I am not very good with words." Juvia was paying attention to him, but confused at the same time. "I never say the words. No matter how much I feel, I just can't seem to say them to you. I know you know, but I need to tell you." He took a few steps closer to her until their bodies were almost touching. "I don't know where I would've been if I never met you, I don't know how I would've survived this past year without you there to help me. I don't want to think how empty I was before I met you. I don't want to think about losing you.
"Do you know why? Because I love you. The words are hard for me to say, but it's not at all hard to feel them. Because I feel it, Juvia. Whenever you are next to me, whenever I see you laugh, whenever I hear your voice. Before I met you, I thought butterflies in someone's stomach was stupid and some mind trick, but it is not. I understand now. I understand why people live and die for this feeling. So, I am going to say it again: I. Love. You."
Juvia was crying shamelessly and smiling at the same time and when he stopped, she threw herself into his arms and kissed his lips while the others clapped.
"But that's not my gift." Gray told her once their lips parted and Juvia had to make an effort to step away from him. She saw as he reached inside his pocket and took out a small blue velvet box and her heart almost stopped when he got into one knee. Was he…? "This is very uncharacteristic of me, but I think that if there's someone to make me do silly things, it's you." Gray opened the box and inside there was a very beautiful golden ring with a diamond and Juvia gasped, putting a hand over her mouth. "This is my mom's engagement ring, my dad gave it to me the day after he met you – told me I was going to need it. It took me years, but I'm finally giving it to you and I am finally going to ask you.
"Will you marry me? Before you answer," Gray said when she opened her mouth to answer. "I need you to look around this room and see exactly what you'll get if you marry me; an annoying brother-in-law who is half in love with you and most likely have a thousand plans to take you from me. A father-in-law that won't stop meddling about when you are going to give him more grandchildren and a six-year-old girl who climbs into beds more times than not. Plus, of course, me and you know everything, so you know how damaged I am. Think it very hard if this is what you wan-."
The next thing Gray knew was that Juvia was tackling to the ground, kissing his face all over and repeating 'yes' every time she kissed him. Gray smiled and kissed her lips. "I can't believe you even had to ask! Of course I'll marry you!" She said and kissed him on the lips again and the couple barely registered the cheering from the other people in the room. "A thousand times, yes." She smiled and Gray smiled right back.
"I am finally getting a daughter!" Silver said, embracing Juvia as soon as the couple got up from the floor. "Mika would've liked you, my darling." Silver whispered to the blunette. "She would be happy that a woman loves him as much as she did." He kissed her cheek.
"Can I be a flower girl again?!" Meredy, asked, excited and everyone laughed, happy.
A couple of weeks after the proposal, it was Ultear's death anniversary; Gray and Lyon decided to go to her grave and even so it made them very gloomy for a few days before the trip; even Meredy seemed down and the plane trip was silent, Meredy held one of Juvia's hands and Gray, the other.
It was cold when the group arrived at the cemetery and even when Gray urged Juvia to go with them, she declined and stayed far away, giving the three some privacy. Lyon and Gray each held one of Meredy's hands and they stayed in front of Ultear's tombstone for almost half an hour before they walked to where Juvia was waiting for them.
Juvia could see that the three had been crying and she hugged each of them, whispering kind words. When they were about to leave, Juvia asked for a minute and walked to Ultear's grave. She stood there without saying a word at first.
"You probably don't even remember me, I was just the crazy girl who begged Gray-sama to bring her to his niece's fifth birthday party and I stayed playing with the children most of the time, but here I am." Juvia smiled sadly "Gray-sama and I just became engaged two weeks ago. Fast, I know. It's been ten months since we got together, but I knew it was him I wanted to marry from the first time I laid eyes on him and here we are, engaged. Juvia still thinks she is dreaming and will wake up at any minute.
"I don't know if you can hear me or if I am just talking to the wind, but just in case you are listening I just want to tell you a few things. Lyon quit his job at the Pole and has a desk job now, researching. He told me he is making friends already and went in a couple of dates. Gray-sama and his father are in much better terms. And Meredy… Meredy is a great special child. She has excellent grades at school, she has a lot of friends and she loves to call Silver-sama 'Grandpa'. She stays some weekends with Lyon-san and other with Silver-sama and she loves it. She watched hockey games with Gray-sama and she has ballet classes. Last month she told me she was in love with this boy from her class, but she didn't want to stay close to him because of his cooties." Juvia laughed. "And she is so bright, so smart and caring. You raised an amazing little girl, Ultear-san.
"What I am trying to say is that they are happy. So, don't you worry about that. I am keeping an eye on them for you to guarantee it. And I hope you don't hate me for what I am about to say: Meredy is no longer your daughter. She is our daughter. She is yours, she'll always be, but now she is also mine because I love her as much as you did. I will never pressure her into calling me her mother, but I just wanted to let you know that in my heart, she is mine. And our daughter will never forget about you because I won't let her. You helped her be who she is and I treasure that.
"I hope you are well, wherever you are and thank you for giving me this family. I would like to have you here to share this, but since you can't be here, I will try to do my best to take care of them." Juvia was crying at that point. She kissed the tip of two of her fingers and touched the tombstone. "Thank you." She turned around, dried her tears and went to where the others were waiting for her.
To where her family waited for her.