AN (Yankee-chan): in this chapter I refer to what happened on Tenrou, because I talk about Zeref, and consequently about Acnologia. But since I began this fanfic before this f***ing story about the 7 years after Tenrou arc, no I didn't change what I decided so the 7 years didn't exist in this story (me: well, I guess we should deal with it, Yankee ^^). Let's say they simply had been transported to Fairy Tail when Acnologia destroyed the island. Here we go! ^w^
CHAPTER 8: Reach the paradise?
(by Yankee-chan and slightly me)
Gajeel and Levy left three days later, after having rested properly. They had to be healthy enough to stand more than half a day's walk and what could happen next. The lake they had repaired was far to the South, but it was the only path they could follow for now.
After they left Kôkô and quickly crossed the tracks, they found themselves surrounded by nature, unable to be guided without a map. After a few hours, the mountains became smaller behind them and the reached a vast plain, sometimes decorated with a few lonely trees and swept by the wind. Some flowers were growing there and Levy swore she'd seen a rabbit run at full speed a few meters away from them. Gajeel merely a half-amused smile, observing the nature around him carefully, as if he wanted nothing to escape his gaze. Especially anything that might seem suspicious and attack them, like a certain Dragon wishing more than anything to prevent them to complete their mission. Despite his wounded arm, the Iron mage seemed peachy and they just pause twice for a short time, and it was more for orientation than for rest. It might have been one pm when finally, after having been slightly lost, they found the great lake. The plain and the grass were gradually replaced by gravel and other rocks. And then, surrounded by stone, there was the lake. Blue, without a single wave and so large they could barely see the other side. The water was so clear that the sky was reflecting there. The two mages decided to put their things down, to eat the sandwiches they'd prepared and to reread the enigmas, looking for clues. But without much success. So they separated and searched around the lake in search of something suspicious. But, concerning the stairs to the North, they still hadn't found anything for now. When they met again about half an hour later, they slightly began to lose patience.
"Fuck! And now, what are we supposed to do?" The Dragon Slayer got angry.
He caught a pebble on the ground and threw it violently in the water as he kept swearing. Levy jumped beside him, also ignoring what they should do now. Until he tried to throw another one and stopped suddenly as his eyes widened. The young girl followed his gaze and reacted like him when she saw the strange phenomenon. The wave caused by the first projectile Gajeel had thrown was weird. It was spreading from the epicenter, but it never reached the shore. Strangely, it stopped halfway, as if an invisible obstacle was preventing it to go further. And that caught their attention. Because this wasn't normal and that was exactly what they were looking for. Something that wasn't ordinary. Gajeel tossed the second pebble he was holding and the same scene repeated, and he narrowed his eyes. As he was watching, an idea emerged suddenly in the blue haired mage's mind and she took the book from her bag, respectively contemplating the cover and the lac in front of her.
"Gajeel, throw the book into the water." She declared, absolutely confident and determinate.
"What? And what about if it doesn't work? We need this book. I warn you now, I won't go to bring it back."
"No I'm sure. There is something weird with this water, and if the book is a "key" it has to react with the water's contact and vice versa, do it please."
She handed the book and he grabbed it with a unconvinced look, testing its weight with a bothered rictus. It almost seemed that it broke his heart to throw it into the water. It fact, it was because he didn't see a single connection between Zeref, a book and this lake. With a long sigh, he threw the book as far as he could and it fell into the water with a splash. And then... nothing.
"Great. Go bring it back, I'm watching you." The Dragon Slayer ordered.
An expression at once angry and purely sarcastic appeared on his face and was ready to go and sit a little further when the earth suddenly shook and he turned toward the lake again. Maybe it had worked after all. Levy slowly came closer from him, her gaze stuck on the surface of the water that was currently moving and boiling.
Suddenly, a huge geyser sprang in the middle of the lake, causing the earth to lift with its might and it climbed toward the sky with a deafening noise. Both mages jumped and without thinking they plunged behind a rock to protect themselves from the impressive phenomenon that took place before them. For a short while they didn't move, panting and their heart pondering, drowned into misunderstanding as the seconds ticked by. After a common consultation and a nod they only passed the tip on their head from behind the rock, Levy clutching Gajeel and refusing to go away from him to more than five centimeters. The water was climbing so high that the two mages couldn't see the end. They were currently twist their head as they looked at the sky, jaws hitting the ground and mind empty of any coherent thought. But they hadn't seen everything. Because, when the water fell back in a thundering noise and big waves splashed on the shore, a huge stairs appeared. At the first glance, it seemed it was made with glass. Transparent but with rainbow reflects, it was leading in spirals toward the sky, disappearing into the clouds. And on the first step, there was the book. Slowly, the mages came out from their hiding place and came closer, their head still blocked up. They approached the stairs timidly and Levy caught the book, and she couldn't help but touch the material on which it was placed. Apparently, it was solid, despite the glitter that was emanating from it. However, a certain Dragon Slayer didn't seem convinced.
"No way I climb on it."
"I think we have no choice Gajeel."
"That's crazy, and what if this thing disappear when we're on it, what should we do? We fall and we quietly wait to die? I won't climb it, I don't trust it."
"You know, I am not reassured either. But to solve the enigmas, we have to climb it."
To show the example, she climbed on the first step and jumped slightly on it, proving it was solid. The Iron mage sighed and walked past her, climbing the steps four at a time, apparently unwilling to dwell on that... thing that was inspiring only mistrust to him. Levy was following him as best as she could, hearing him regularly repeating insults with a voice muffled by anxiety.
The ascension was more difficult than the two mages were expecting. The ground moving away, the temperature dropping, the wind blowing, the never-ending climb and the fatigue were all acting to slower them. And as Gajeel had to pause because he was more tired due to the lack of oxygen, they had to face Levy's panic crisis, and the more the ground moved away, the more she was panicked and she had no ramp to grip. So she was gripping the Dragon Slayer with all her might, groaning, slowing their progression. And finally... finally they reach the top. After an interminable climb, a growing fear and a fatigue that struck them in the worst moments, they was just under the clouds where the stairs were plunging. They shared a simple look and with a silent agreement they hold hands not to lost each other as they climbed into the fog above their head. After a short difficult moment while they tried to pierce the cloudy and wet layer, they both managed to come out to reach a place... particular.
What they were just experiencing seemed so incomprehensible that suddenly, he only explication that seemed credible was that in fact Metalicana had killed them and they were just dreaming. Levy was right about the lake, but they never expected to have to take a stairs literally toward the North (so toward the sky), to find themselves where they just arrived.
"What the hell is this mess?" Gajeel suddenly stated, completely dumbstruck.
"I have no idea." The blue haired mage answered weakly, as stunned as him.
They were dreaming, there weren't other possible explication, otherwise how could they explain the strange phenomenon they were seeing? Above the clouds, the stairs were disappearing to be replaced by a round platform made with the same transparent and luminous material. And before their eyes, clouds were stretching to the horizon. Was it the place they called paradise? The two mages stared around themselves, lost in the incomprehension and the shock to be in such an improbable place. After a long moment spent to wonder if it was real, Levy shook her head and approached the edge, brushing timidly the surface of the clouds with her fingertips. And in addition to seem different and more consistent by eye, they were. The young girl had expected to pass through the cloud, but on the contrary, she hit a surface soft like cotton and fluffy like a cushion, a bit like what the kids thought when they still didn't know the clouds were only water vapor. But... what was this madness? If there were clouds like this, they had to be in a place particularly singular. So they were dead, or they had absorbed/smoked/eaten something weird. Unless it was none of the two propositions and that everything was real. Which, strangely, seemed more probable. Levy sat on the edge and brushed the clouds with her feet, before she turned toward Gajeel who was staring around himself, lost, his arms crossed and his eyes narrowed.
"Are you coming?" She asked, abruptly interrupting the Iron mage's suspicious exam.
"No, are you crazy? I refuse to go down."
And to illustrate his words the Dragon Slayer sat and he didn't move anymore. He didn't trust the clouds, and especially, he didn't want to risk his life right now.
"Gajeel please." Levy whimpered and tried to pulled him by the arm, but she failed.
"If you want to walk on it and to fall back to the earth, go, I'm watching you, I don't mind. And, I prefer not to leave our only chance to go down you see..."
"But they are solid! We can walk on them, trust me."
It took eight tries to convinced the Iron mage that, indeed, they could walk on the clouds, but she finally succeeded. Muttering an insult, he go down and he began to walk reluctantly on the clouds beside the blue haired mage, not reassured by the soft texture under his feet. But this time, he had been right. They had barely moved away when the platform, and consequently the stairs that allowed them to climb up, disappeared in the funny noise, making the two mages turn around. That was followed by a shocked and stunned silence as they were trying to understand that their only way out just disappeared forever. The first one who react was Gajeel, but not particularly very well.
"WHAT? FUCK! WHAT DID I TELL YOU?! BUT NO ONE NEVER LISTEN TO ME!" He roared and ran toward the spot he just left, searching any trace of the stairs as he dug his head in the ground without finding anything.
"What should we do now?" The young girl stammered as she approached slowly, staying away from Dragon Slayer who was getting angrier in the same time.
"YOU THINK I KNOW IT?!"
Until a voice suddenly answered them in their back.
"For now, I don't think you can do anything."
Levy turned around jumping and found herself nose to muzzle with a big white Dragon with blue eyes. She screamed in surprise and stepped back automatically while Gajeel rushed toward her and stood between them, his magic already illuminating his body.
"Easy young mages, I'm not going to hurt you. You didn't need to be frightened, I won't eat you."
The Dragon wasn't apparently afraid that Gajeel could punch him, since he hadn't moved and simply remained laid in front of them, waving his tail like a cat. Without taking his eyes out of him, the Dragon Slayer canceled his magic, but Levy preferred to stay behind him. Her first contact with Dragons had been rather... bloody, so no, she didn't especially trust him. Until the Iron mage sat and suddenly started to talk peacefully with him before her eyes.
"As I thought, this name reminded me someone. You're Daégan, aren't you?"
"I have the strong impression that my reputation preceded me. Yes indeed, it's me."
He gave a toothy smile to the mages who, in the young girl' case, tried to respond by a tense grimace.
"Levy, do you remember yesterday I've talked about a Dragon that was about thousand years old. Well, it's him." Gajeel explained and ordered her to sit down with a gesture of the head.
"Ah." Was all the young girl managed to answer as she obliged.
She quickly sat down without looking away from the Dragon, still making sure not to be too far from Iron mage who, considering his expression, wasn't thinking there was any danger. This fact allowed her to relax. Then she began to detail the big beast before her.
Strangely as she observed him, it reminded her the same fascination she felt when she had met Gajeel's father. He looked smaller, and especially less threatening than Metalicana. And at least he had horns. White scales with rainbow reflects were covering his body and his rare electric blue colored eyes were shining with intelligence. He also had a weird gray ridge on his neck, and if he had been human, Levy could have mistaken it with white hair. It was like a horse mane, but bristling back, the effect was rather amusing to watch. And it was true, he looked old. But Gajeel had told her he was dead many years ago, so a logical question escaped her lips:
"So this is paradise here?"
"I don't think we could name this place "paradise" young girl." The Dragon answered.
He looked amused by their lost look and by the way they were observing their surroundings, so he quickly added:
"I'd say it's an intermediary passage, it seems paradise is higher. But I can't go there, my duty is to check what happened below."
"So you were spying on us?" Gajeel asked as he narrowed his eyes.
"Not exactly. I can see what you do but even if I have this power, I rarely interfere. But this time I did."
After having listened this explanations, Levy suddenly understood and she began to search loudly in her bag before the surprised gaze of the others, before she pulled out the book she had entirely translate.
"Was it connected to this book? It's just it said it is the "key" to come here, so I wonder..."
"Ah, my book. It's been a while I hadn't seen it. You know, we really had no time to gather our possessions before dying, it's too bad, I would have gathered with me to feed my mind. Staying here is so sad sometimes I can't refuse novelty."
"I didn't know you were a good reader and this book was yours."
"But appearances are deceptive my dear."
Daégan slowly took back his possession that the young girl was offering him and he put it in a funny pocket placed on his belly, then he hastened to answer the silent question as he conscientiously licked his claws.
"Like you already noticed, it's a magic book. Precisely, it allows someone to come and see me just once. I imagine you understood with the enigmas inside."
The young girl nodded affirmatively, but Gajeel seemed to have found something strange and he hastened to point this out.
"But those enigmas were weird. You say it's your book, but it clearly speaks about what happened with Metalicana. Did you predict this too? And how did you do to write in the book if you can't influence on the events below?"
"Oh but I can't. That's when magic interfere. This book is maybe mine, but I'm not the author. Concerning the enigmas, it is simply a magic manifestation that guide you toward the next event, then toward me, it's as simple as this. How do you think I know what happened in the world? The magic allows me to see all of this. So you understand that I know exactly what happened with you father."
The Dragon Slayer snort, not really enchanted to learn that his defeat against Metalicana had been watched by more spectators he'd thought, even if he seemed convinced by the Dragon's answer. However, the two mages didn't have only one question, and immediately Levy oriented the conversation toward the interesting topic. Rereading her papers where she'd noted the book translation and without glancing away from them, she eventually asked.
"What about Zeref's seal? What's this exactly?"
"Ah... Zeref's Seal... did anybody told you about what happened in July the 7th? Well, I'm talking more for you Gajeel."
"No. No one never told me." He answered and crossed his arms.
"In that case I will, but only the big picture. Do you know Acnologia?"
When they heard this name, the two mages jumped and they stared at each other, clearly remembering the Black Dragon that nearly killed them all.
"We met him! On Tenrou Island!" Levy exclaimed.
"And you managed to stay alive? What a surprise."
"Yeah, well... He's still destroyed the island." Gajeel added with reticence.
"He has landed on the island and we've tried to stop him, but when we understood we couldn't do it, we decided to retreat and to unite our magics to go back to Fairy Tail." The young girl explained to finish.
"In this case, that makes things easier. This day, July the 7th, seven Dragons, including Metalicana, Grandeeney and Igneel, had been chosen to go fight him, and seal him forever with Zeref who is both his master and son, because just like you Gajeel, he was educated by Acnologia. And precisely, he's capable to invoke him to give his judgment and provoke destruction. However, Dragons we had sent never came back and considering the information, Zeref was still free, so we can conclude they failed."
"That's why they suddenly disappeared without saying anything?"
"Yes that's why. They were locked by the one they was supposed to stop when they lost. But you, you have been left behind to a good reason. We have tried to stop Zeref with the Dragons, we failed. But you, the Dragon Slayers, you were still here. Of course, too young, but you were there. And everyone knows that Dragon Slayer's magic is able to compete with Dragons, because it is the only one capable of inflicting enough damage to them. Zeref is a Dragon Slayer too, he knew this fact. And he made sure, by sealing the Dragons who raised you, to seal your power at the same time, so that you couldn't use this full power, and so, that you could never beat Acnologia, or any other Dragon. He's used the bond that unit you to the Dragons who taught you magic to block it."
"But Metalicana had been freed apparently. So if I understand what you say, Gajeel should have got his powers back, right?" Levy inquired.
She literally had swallowed Daégan's words. He hadn't talked more than twenty minutes but he already had given them a lot of solutions, she had to note it somewhere.
"Metalicana hadn't been freed voluntarily. I imagine the magic that kept him prisoner who knows where had to fade over the years and he finally was capable to escape. However, the seal that was blocking the Dragons Slayers' magic can't be destroyed in the same way. Gajeel, you have to find this limit in you and break it by yourself. Don't forget your magic get more and more powerful when it is animated by your feelings, that's how you can hope to detect the seal, because it will try to canalize magic."
"So if I get angry I'd have more chance to break this thing?"
The Dragon Slayer's face was strange, apparently he was trying to restore order to the information the Dragon gave him.
"Yes, this is the big picture."
"However, Natsu had already got angry, sometimes much angrier than Gajeel and his seal hadn't been broken." The blue haired mage said, her nose stuck to a piece of paper and noted all she heard, under the Dragon's amused look.
"Because Zeref's Seal reacts just when a Dragon is around. Was he really out of himself when he fought Acnologia?"
"No, not really. At this moment we were exhausted and nearly out of magic..."
"Well you have your answer."
Both mages stared at each other, thinking about the wise Dragon's words. The answers he gave them would help them, and the built a little plan not to be completely helpless when they'd have to fight. Even if, for now, beside beating Metalicana with fists and magic without letting him attack, they couldn't do anything else and they already imagined the fiasco. However, after all this discoveries, the two friends decided to leave, because if the stayed longer, they wouldn't come back before the night, even if they were reluctant now because they would have wanted to talk a bit more with the old Dragon.
"We won't see each other again after this. But I am glad to have met you, young mages, it had been a while I hadn't talk to no one." The Dragon declared as he gave them an amused wink.
"We are too, Daégan, I don't think we'd forget what happened today. And we thank you for having answered our questions, it will help us." Levy thanked him and quickly bowed.
The Dragon smiled, showing his huge teeth while the young mage was patting timidly his muzzle. Then he turned toward Gajeel who hadn't said a word and was staring at his wounded arm, apparently lost in his thoughts. Daégan approached him slowly and the Iron mage finally accepted to look up to lock eyes with him, even if he still didn't say anything.
"How do you feel, Dragon Slayer?"
"I don't know. I don't know anymore."
"Your mind is confused because you have to fight the one who educate you?"
"Fighting him doesn't equal killing him. I am sure you'll find a way to make him hear the reason. If you believe in yourself, you can do everything."
After he said this words, the Dragon's body illuminated in a beautiful white light with rainbow reflects, like his scales, then he skillfully touched the Dragon Slayer's right arm, transferring his magic at this contact. Gajeel tensed abruptly but he said nothing, and when the halo faded, his bandages were gone and there was no more wounds. Dumbfounded, Levy approached to look closer while her friend was testing a few movements, just to check if everything was alright. And effectively, it was cured.
"There there. Here's a good thing done. Now, I don't think that make those separations last is a good thing." The Dragon sighed as he sat heavily.
For a long instant his blue eyes remained stuck on the two mages who did the same, then the same light surrounded him again and Gajeel and Levy were lifted in the air, above the clouds. The last thing the two mages saw was Daégan who smiled, then the white light increased again and blinded them. For a second, they had the terrifying impression to fall abruptly, but they lost consciousness before they could get scared.
Levy awoke when she felt a warm breeze on her cheek. She noticed she was laying on the grass and the gravels, near the lake, and that Gajeel's coat was covering her shoulders. Besides, Gajeel was sitting on a big rock half-submerged into the water and was scanning the horizon, probably lost in his thoughts. The young girl yawned and stood and walked toward him, placing his coat on a rock next to her when she was near him. He turned toward her and contemplated her with his garnet eyes for a while, before he turned away to gaze at the the pristine surface of the lake again.
"How's your arm? It's cured?" She asked, brushing it with her fingertips.
"Yes, it's much better. I don't know how he did, but he healed it. Well, that's great, I couldn't have beaten my father with one arm."
The young girl simply nodded, before she suddenly realized something.
"Gajeel how long was I asleep? What time is it?"
"Oh you were snoring for half an hour. I couldn't awake you, you were making such a noise that I couldn't approach." He sneered with a mocking smile.
"W-what? It's not true!"
The blue haired mage blushed slightly at his joke, afraid that it was true despite everything.
"Gihihi, if I say so!"
Red with shame, she stuck out her tongue at him before she pushed him into the water. The Dragon Slayer jumped and screamed in surprise before he fell with a splashing sound, covered by the laughter of the blue haired mage who leaned above the surface. But she wasn't expecting the Iron mage to arise from the water and to catch suddenly her wrist with a sadistic grin, before he threw her in turn. She screamed and her head pierced the water, completely shocked, furiously waving her arms.
"You idiot! I'm still dressed!" She screamed as she struggled.
"So what? I am too. And if they really upset you, just take them off." He sneered with a vicious smirk as he licked his lips.
"No way! You pervert!"
She splashed him and swam away at full speed, trying to hide her rosy cheeks and laughing when she saw him running after her. She reach the shore and ran to escape him but that wasn't very effective. With a laugh that predicted no good, Gajeel eventually caught her and threw her in the water, away from the edge (her unique exit).
"Just you wait!" The young girl groaned as she stood as best as she could.
She launched herself on the Dragon Slayer and once again they landed into the water, heckling, laughing and trying to dominate the other. Recognition should be that this mission had particularly stressed them, now they were evacuating in their own way. It wasn't the first time Levy heard Gajeel laugh but strangely, today it was different. Usually, he was using his own little sadistic mean laughter, he was using it rarely besides. But there, it wasn't the same. She could never have believed she'd hear a sound filled with such happiness and joy escaped Dragon Slayer's mouth and yet it was the case. He laughed out loud, half-breathless as he was enjoying splashing the young girl and vice versa. He was enjoying himself! Him, the cold and insensible Gajeel Redfox was enjoying splashing Levy McGarden, the girl he'd hurt so much in the past. But it was as much pleasant as surprising. So they continued, and Levy was happy too. She was laughing with such an intensity that tears threatened to run down her cheeks and she wasn't able to move anymore. And the Dragon Slayer took the opportunity to launch an attack he just invented.
"Iron Dragon Wave!"
She screamed when a huge wave sent her toward the shore where she ran aground, still breathless after her frolicking in the water. Until Gajeel somehow found himself above her on all four, his forehead stuck to hers, as breathless as the young girl. And at this moment the strange want she already had a few days ago when Gajeel had left after Lilas had bothered him, except that this time it was much more powerful and it submerged her, making abruptly change the vision she had from the man above her.
His half-shut eyes were mesmerizing her, making her want to approach again, to scan him closer. Feeling his hair tickled her cheek, she just wanted to run her hand through it, to touch it and never let it go. His warm intoxicating breath that caressed her lips prevented her to think straight, she only wanted to come closer, to taste the source of this wonderful elixir that made her lost her mind. The very idea to touch him, to feel his warm body against hers was so obsessing her that the more she thought about it, the less she could move to fulfill her fantasy, she just could imagine it. She was almost feeling his skin slip slowly under her fingers. She already saw her hand caressing his body, gradually taming the indomitable animal above her, making this rude and cold being hers. Currently wandering completely, she already imagined the Dragon Slayer place softly his lips on her neck. Then he would whisper with his deep and hoarse voice, so beautiful, that he felt the same before he would hug her tighter against him. And they were already so close! She just had to move her head a few millimeters and her dreams could become true. However, this same attraction she felt was pinning her to the ground, preventing her to breath, not allowing her to look away, forcing her to stare in silence. She didn't understand what she was waiting for to react, why she didn't take this luck, why she was acting like an idiot. It was only when Gajeel got up and freed her to take back his coat that she allowed herself to breath, panting, her throat in fire, her cheeks red and her eyes stuck on him. This moment may have lasted several minutes for her, but in fact it just lasted a few seconds, not enough to think that the Iron mage had voluntarily stopped and had wanted to kiss her. The young girl slowly put her hand on her chest, trying to calm her heart dancing an uncontrolled waltz. She finally managed to look down and smiled sadly, while her reflect in the water answered her. She was really pathetic. How could she have thought this from him just now, during a mission? How could she have fantasied on him at this point? She was really stupid. She had noticed he wasn't interested by her since a long time, so why did you continue to hope? She didn't know, and besides she didn't understand what happened to her.
"What are you doing Shrimp? You're coming?"
The Iron mage's call eventually bring her back to earth and she looked up quickly in his direction. He was ready to go back to the town, his bag and his coat under his arm. The blue haired mage gathered her things in turn and joined him in three wakes without a word, trying simply not to look at him too long. They took the same way in reverse to go back to Kôkô, hastened slightly to reach the city before the night, and after a long moment of silence Levy eventually asked timidly:
"Gajeel, we should evacuate the city, don't you think?"
"Well, if Metalicana would attack us and that we had to fight, at least there wouldn't be a lot of injured people."
"Yeah, that's a good idea. But what can we say to the mayor? We still have to be credible, and there's no way we told him it's about my father."
"In that case, we'll just say it's a Dragon."
"He's going to laugh at us, nobody believe Dragons are alive."
"We still can try."
"Yeah well, do that without me then."
The Dragon Slayer remained silent after this and he didn't speak until they reach the city. Fortunately, the moon just rose when they saw the first houses and they quickened their pace. Then, as the blue haired mage had suggested, they went to see the mayor to explain the idea they had. They entered the building, greeted the secretary who was still hidden behind piles of papers. Maybe she was taking a delay in her work, but the two mages preferred not to know how and with who. They quickly knocked to Fiorenzo's door and the mayor welcomed them warmly and seemed happy to see them healthy and safe. Even if, being greatly exhausted, the two Fairy Tail's members decided to shorten the meeting. After all, they were practically sleeping standing.
"Fiorenzo, can we ask you something?" Levy began.
She was wriggling her hands and was speaking with a voice that let the seriousness of what she was about to ask be heard, and she didn't like it either.
"Of course, everything you want."
"We think it would be wise to... evacuate the city."
After he heard those words, his usually smiling face became grave and careful in turn. Even his voice changed completely, becoming serious.
"Oh really? Why that? Is it because of this monster?"
"We're almost sure it's a Dragon. We just ask you to evacuate in order to avoid human losses in case of direct fight." Gajeel stated with a hard voice, leaned against the wall in the back of the room.
"A Dragon? Oh, for a surprise, it's a big one! Are you sure?"
Here, Fiorenzo clearly began to panic. Even if the fact to know why a Dragon was attacking them didn't matter for now. The two mages nodded in a tense way, confirming the hypothesis they had advanced, and strangely the mayor stopped panicking. And unlike Gajeel thought, he believed them. His mood swings were confusing and they could have laughed if the situation wasn't so dramatic.
"Allow me to announce the new tomorrow. It's late and evacuate a town during the night is risked."
Comprehensive, Gajeel and Levy nodded before they left to go to bed. The day had been particularly exhausting, and they knew the next morning wouldn't certainly be better. Now, they just wanted to sleep. They had barely passed the door that Levy walked toward the kitchen and boiled water to make noodles. Gajeel collapsed on the couch with a growl that shook the walls. He didn't move until the young girl finish to prepare the diner and he sat at the table with a long sigh before attacking directly the content of this plat like his friend. Then they did the dishes and went to bed. Finally, Gajeel laid down, but Levy preferred to sit down near the window and stared outside with a slightly depressed look. The Dragon Slayer hesitated to go to see, unwilling to bother her, but after a long moment spent to hear her sighing, he still decided to talk to her. She didn't feel him coming behind her until the Iron mage's hands rested on her shoulders and he asked:
"Got a problem Shrimp?"
His voice was a bit gruff and he was patting her shoulders nervously as he looked outside to avoid looking at her, like he wanted to prevent anyone to think he cared about her. And like every time she saw him shirtless, Levy couldn't help but blush and feel nervous, but eventually stammered an answer:
"Now that I have nothing to translate anymore, I feel a bit useless." She confessed as she looked down.
"It's not true, on the contrary. Stop thinking nonsense and come to bed." The Dragon Slayer muttered back.
The young girl nodded and he let go of her before he went back to bed, turned his back on her and took the whole blanket when she laid beside him. Even if he had been a bit awkward, he'd tried to cheer her up. She smiled under the blanket and closed her eyes, and eventually fell asleep, completely exhausted. Even if this night wasn't really restful. Because, with no reason, she had nightmares.
She woke up with a start, in the middle of the night, and not knowing where she was, she began to struggle screaming and groaning, until her ears managed to perceive a sound and stopped whistling.
She opened her eyes and saw Gajeel above her, he was giving little slaps on her cheeks so she could awake as she struggled. As soon as she saw him, she threw herself on his neck, crying, nearly making him crush against her in her haste. Almost with despair, she wrapped her legs around the Dragon Slayer's waist, refusing to let him go, whilst he laid back on his side, growling and a bit panicked, still holding the young girl in his arms. He began to pat her back and murmured appeasing words into her ear, until her cries turned into muffled sobs in his neck.
"You had a nightmare?" He asked gently as he caressed her hair, a slight blush spreading on his face.
He felt her nodded, shaking and sniffing. He sighed and looked down toward her, smiling slightly as he saw her gripping him.
"Wanna talk about it?"
Coming from Gajeel, such a sentence would never have escaped his lips usually. Levy even forgot how to cry because she had been surprised to hear this words from him. But it was because of that she decided to tell him.
"I-I've dreamed about... Metalicana was coming and he... he was crucifying you to a tree, li-like what happened a long time ago... and he was torturing you in front of me and... and I couldn't do anything. Th-then he left... but you... you were... dead."
She broke on the last word and cried again, clutching him tighter.
"Shh... it was just a dream, forget it okay?"
Even if he was keeping reassuring her, the Iron mage felt like someone had punched him in the guts. The slight allusion she had had in her dream when he was in Phantom Lord was here. He just understood that despite the time, she was still traumatized by what he did to her, the proof was she was still dreaming of it, even if it was indirect. He just wanted to disappear now. He began to think he didn't even deserve to touch her. And yet... yet she told him her nightmare, crying in his arms. She told him she had forgiven him too. The body or the mind may forgive, but not in the same time,he just had the proof. On the other hand, he had to admit she was crying for him because she had believed he was dead in her nightmare. It was strangely embarrassing, and despite the guilt that flowed again in him, he felt a weird warmth spread inn his stomach up to his heart, and he wanted to smile. After a long moment spent in solving his inner problems and reassuring Levy, Gajeel finally realized she had fallen asleep again in his arms. He gently wiped away her cheeks covered in tears and he did something he never did before. He kissed her forehead tenderly, before putting the blanket over them properly and laid back comfortably in the bed, eventually falling asleep in turn.
The next morning, when the young girl awoke, the sun was barely rising and the only noise she heard was the bird singing. She didn't immediately open her eyes, savoring the sweet warmth she flt against her body. Before she abruptly realize what it was as she felt something move against her, then a warm breath on her cheek, and finally she heard a weird growl. She opened her eyes and she suddenly remembered what had happened the last night as her eyes widened. Gajeel was still sleepy apparently. He was holding the young girl firmly by the waist and was pressing her firmly against him, preventing her to move. And at this moment the same warmth and the same attraction she felt the day before came back suddenly. Her throat tightened and she shook again. Her heart was fluttering so hard in her chest that the blood pulsing in her veins seemed on fire. His scent began to intoxicate her and her hands were trembling slightly when the Iron mage's chest rose slowly under her fingers. She could no longer move again and the contact of the Dragon Slayer's hands on her waist made her stiffen even more. The only thing she could see was was the crook of his neck where her head was placed. Electrical tingling were possessing her lips and the urge to put them on the soft skin before her was obsessing her mind. The little conscience that remained her screamed she was crazy but she didn't even understand those words. In a faint gasp mixed with a moan, she placed her lips on his neck, beginning to tremble harder and harder while this sensations were submerged her. Slowly, gradually, she found herself laid on the top of Gajeel instead of being beside him, still gripping his neck like her life depended on it. She could no longer grasp the reality of what she was doing, it was just that her need had to be satisfied at any cost, and all the emotions she was feeling now were drowning her senses. It was until the Iron mage began to grumble and to move under her that her conscience and the full control of her members returned to her, and it took all the will in the world to move away from him. He slightly rubbed his eyes and yawned when the young girl was trying to catch her breath and especially to hide her blush, on all four above him. The Dragon Slayer placed his arm on his forehead, half-opened an eye and growled:
"Already awake bookworm?"
Levy didn't answer, she wasn't able to do that, but at least she had an excuse for her purple cheeks now. Still without a sound she gently laid back beside him, still hiding her face under the blanket to observe him discretely. After a good half an hour spent to stay quietly laid, both of them finally decided to go take a breakfast. Levy was trying hard to pretend nothing had happened, but it wasn't always easy. Like when they were both in the bathroom to get prepared, after eating.
The blue haired mage brushed her hair mechanically and tried to hold back her hair with her usual orange headband when a sentence interrupted the peaceful calm of the room.
"Hey that's strange."
Levy turned her head and noticed that the Dragon Slayer was pressing a little red mark on his neck, his eyes narrowed as he stared at the mirror. And the young girl knew perfectly where this mark was coming from.
"Where does it come from? I don't remember to have been hurt here." He growled.
The blue haired mage's reaction was immediate. She spoke a quick "I'm going to the toilets" stormed out of the room like a hurricane, caught a box of handkerchief and precisely locked herself in the toilets, trying to limit the influx of blood that flowed from her nose with discretion. And the only thing that came back non stop in her mind was a single question with a fatal issue: why did she do this?
Then, finally "calm down" and slightly more presentable, she left the toilets when a knock rang from the door and she went to open it while Gajeel followed her, finally dressed. To both mages' greatest surprise, it was Fiorenzo. He seemed excessively nervous, but kept his composure and explained them he had informed the inhabitants. They had already begun to prepare their stuffs and some of them were already gone. Since Kôkô was a village placed on the side of the mountain, the avalanche risks wasn't excluded, so it had been a while a camp had been built in the forest in case they had to leave the village because of the danger. The villagers knew what they had to do, that made things easier. Not having much more to do, Gajeel and Levy helped to transport the affairs and made round trips between Kôkô and the camp without a stop.
They were starting their fifth round trip when they met two familiar faces. The Iron mage and Levy were about to take the affairs of a little retired couple who thanked them a thousand times for their help when a rather familiar ominous sound rang in the Dragon Slayer's ears, coming from behind.
Slowly he sighed and cocked his head to the side, with a mad smile. Then he turned around and looked down to see Lilas who seemed happy to have been noticed.
"Fuck it's impossible. I must be dreaming!"
"Sorry Gajeel but I think you're not dreaming." Levy giggled beside him.
The baby so dreaded by our dear Iron mage stretched out its arm toward him and hopped on her little feet, certainly wishing to be carried. He understood immediately.
"There's no way I carry this demon!"
An angry clearing of throat beside him followed by a nudge made him change his mind, and he put his things down, caught the little girl before placing her on his shoulders as he grumbled, then he took back his bags.
"You'd better stay still, you." He grumbled while the little girl applauded and shouted with joy, like someone who just realized he had the winning numbers for the lottery.
Then the two mages departed, along with Sebastian who also helped them to carry a few bags in addition to his own. He was stunned to see that the Dragon Slayer's arm was cured, and Levy hastened to explain they had met someone who used healing magic, and he'd taken care of it. Gajeel didn't take part in the conversation, he was too busy to handle the baby on his shoulders. Speaking of this, Lilas seemed very enthusiastic and took his new friend for a horse. She pulled his hair, jumped on his shoulders and waved her little feet, thinking he would walk faster, but it only annoyed him. After they crossed a part of the forest, the camp was finally visible and Gajeel literally began to run toward the tents that had been installed, immediately putting Lilas down form his shoulders once he was arrived with a winning smile before running away because she wanted to grab him. They helped Sebastian and the ones who arrived to install before they went back to Kôkô. And the same scene repeated again until, in the middle of the afternoon, they returned to the town when everybody had been evacuated. Yes, they stayed in the little village. If Metalicana decided to attack, it was here he would strike, at least the two mages were sure not to miss him.
They strolled in the main street of the town, calm and empty now, without any trace of life except their own. Even if Gajeel had rejected this idea, he was beginning to think they had been right to tell Fiorenzo everything and evacuate Kôkô. First of all, it was necessary to avoid victims. A life was more important than a house. The Dragon Slayer sighed, dug his hand in his pockets and kicked a pebble as he stared at the ground. Beside him, Levy also showed a worried face, her hands crossed in her back. It was more anguished to stay here, waiting for a fight that may be their last one, while every part of their body and their mind were screaming to escape while there was still time. Feeling very well how she was oppressed by this silence and this waiting, he looked down toward her, locking his eyes on hers, and for once he gave her one of his rare smiles. She answered by a shaking little smile too and patted his shoulder softly.
"Everything will be alright." She declared to reassure both him and herself.
"I hope so... that would be better."
He never had been so nervous and anxious as he waited a fight, and he hated even more those feelings that made him become weak and cowardly. He wouldn't run away, he'd fight until the end, no matter who was his opponent. He had been raised for that after all.
It may have been less than an hour that the inhabitants were all gone into the forest, but for Levy and Gajeel, it seemed that several days had passed with the time suddenly appeared slower. Well, as we say, chance would have it. They wouldn't need to wait any longer. As they were walking slowly toward the house where they lived, the Dragon Slayer stopped abruptly and stood still in the middle of the street, his fists and teeth clenched, staring at the ground. Instantly the blue haired mage stopped too, revealing the anxiety on her face.
"Gajeel, is something wrong?"
He didn't answer, he didn't move. And Levy understood why when she looked over her shoulder. She stepped back when Gajeel turned around slowly. Her heart was pounding so hard in her chest it was nearly painful, not to mention the fear that began to bite her guts. Because behind them there was a cat. Gray. With red eyes. Sat on the ground, its gaze shining with an amused spark, as if it just found a bowl of milk or discovered a mouse nest.
"I guess it's fight time." Gajeel declared, displaying a bitter snarl as he slowly cracked his fingers.
Metalicana stretched its cat's chops into a vicious smile. Oh yeah, it was fight time.