Song of the Rain

12 Jul 2020

He looked different, he knew that. His hair was longer, body bulkier, skin scarred from battles and sun-tanned from the desert, face and ears pierced with iron. He was dressed in Empire robes.

He looked very far from that young guard-in-training she used to pass by everyday…

“You know my lullaby.” Lady Juvia said. Land, her voice was still as soft and delicate as he remembered, and when she spoke in dialect- “You speak my tongue.”

(Gajeel Redfox finally faces the last remaining reminder of an oath he took, and a purpose he had once thought would be his for the rest of his life.)

Teen (13+)
Chapters: 4
Words: 26,018

Song of the Rain

Chapter 3
In which a Lady reminisces


The meeting finishes. Gajeel and Juvia say goodbye, and Juvia reminisces about her first days in the City.

Chapter Notes:

last year, i lost steam halfway through writing this chapter because i kept getting emotionally compromised. it was… hitting very close to home and making me cry. it’s only lately that i’ve managed to recover from that. so. thank you, everyone, for your patience. i won’t keep you long – here’s our continuation.

FORMATTING NOTE: “Italicized dialogue” means the characters are speaking in another language or dialect than the local one used in Crocus.



Gray had a simple relationship with politics. He was born into it, bred and groomed for a future with it at the center. He was not a brilliant prodigy, and he was far from a cunning mastermind, but then again, he did not have to be either. He wasn’t terrible , of course – all those lessons and learning ought to have rubbed off somehow.

He chose to think that he was simply competent . He was confident in this competence. Perhaps Gray was even above average at politics. Maybe. Depending on the mood. His father was known as laid-back and lawful – so who else would he take after?

Young Lord Gray Fullbuster’s betters would all say that he was the quiet and serious but polite and obedient sort. He’d heard servants and retainers describe him as slightly intimidating, but mild-mannered and kind. Meanwhile, according to his peers – his fellow young noblemen – he was… bland, a bit arrogant, but bearably so.

Let them think that, he thought. That was hardly a scandal.

(At the very least, his friends – his actual friends, the ones he chose and in turn chose him – knew him better.)

(His wife, to his relief, thought the world of him, and he didn’t always think he deserved that much – but that was just how love worked, he supposed.)

Gray did not love politics – sometimes he thought the whole thing was rather unnecessarily complicated – but he did not hate it either. It was just part of him, part of his life, and he’d grown to accept this.

It was simply in how he grew up, in how he was raised, that he always knew to keep sharp and assess the situation around him. Read the room. Read the people in the room, and as much as possible, aim to please, but never sacrifice your own agenda. The basics. He had mastered them as much as he was able.

And most of all – one should always be ready with an answer.

So when he was asked –

“What do you think, Gray?”

– he was not to make a fool of himself.

He turned towards the one who asked the question – his father, Duke Silver, sitting across the table from him, brows furrowed in thought and focused on the documents in his hands.

“Well,” he started – it was always good to start with that while he took a sweeping glance around the room –

His gaze landed on Lucy – always Lucy, first – because throughout the years he’d learned that a good trick to maintain status quo was to please the Duchess, and she only met his attention with a soft, expectant smile.

Beside Lucy, there was Levy – who was a surprise today – but to him a clear indication that the Duchess was up to something.

The fact that it was Levy , specifically, told Gray that Laxus was probably in on this. So he looked to Laxus, who looked bored but confident. As usual.

The Ambassador from Alvarez – Prince Natsu – was grinning a little grin, open curiosity bordering on excitement at the proceedings. He was always so interested in whatever was happening.

Meanwhile, Gildarts was busy with papers too. Lord Jellal Fernandez’s expression was carefully neutral. The City Council representative whose name escaped him was trying to be neutral as well, but Gray could see that it was only through tremendous effort that the man was not frowning.

His eyes traveled back to Lucy, who then clenched her hands in front of her chest – a casual gesture – except he knew better.

Very well, he decided – a favor, it is.

“I don’t see why we shouldn’t contribute, father.” he finally said, barely missing a beat. “I am sure the Duchess wouldn’t vouch for this for no reason. Miss McGarden has a noble cause.”

“That’s very kind of you to say, milord.” Levy said, smiling and exchanging a cheerful look with Lucy, the two women twining their fingers together between them on top of the table for everyone to see.

Most people wouldn’t know to look, but Gray caught the subtle split-second grin from Jellal, and the aborted scoff from the representative beside him. Interesting. They were both in the meeting in behalf of the Council – Jellal as a proxy from Lord Warrod who he was an aide to, and the other man was a liaison of the City Hall in general. Gray wondered whether their contrasting reactions were from their personal or business agenda.

The representative coughed. “How very gracious of you indeed, Lord Fullbuster, but-”

“I am not at all surprised.” Lucy said, airy, in the tone that Gray once called her ‘Innocent Lucy Probably Plotting Murder’ tone. Her face matched the act perfectly, as did her words – “Gray is his father’s son, through and through.”

Silver chuckled, and finally put down the documents to smile at Lucy. “Oh, Lucy, sweetheart. You don’t have to butter me up. I agree with Gray. We all admire this little project of yours.”

“Ah, ah- Easily mistaken detail.” Lucy intervenes quickly, good-naturedly. “It isn’t my project, it is Miss Levy’s. I am only a minor sponsor. Helping her to look for other sponsors.”

“Apologies.” Silver nodded amicably. “We all admire Miss Levy’s project. You say it’s been around for quite a while, though?”

“A couple of years, milord.” Levy answered.

“It is actually the first time I have heard of this, surprisingly. Did we know about this before, Gildarts?”

Gildarts looked thoughtful. “Cana might have mentioned it once or twice, only in passing. I knew there was a little school… but my daughter was talking a mile a minute there and I might have assumed that it was… a code for something else.”

Lucy giggled. Silver simply chuckled and shook his head. “That does sound like our Cana, my friend.”

“I knew about it.” Gray said, gaining everyone else’s attention. He saw Laxus perk up from his slouch just slightly, raising an eyebrow. Despite himself, Gray couldn’t help but bristle at the challenge. “Some of the house staff mentioned sending their young ones there… They… told me, when I asked, because I… noticed that there were less children… downstairs.”

Laxus smirked. “Aren’t you quite the saint, Gray, always caught up with the downstairs people?”

“Laxus!” Lucy pouted. “Don’t scare off your fellow sponsors-to-be.”

“Fellow? You’ve chipped in then, Duke Dreyar?” Jellal asked, speaking up for the first time in a while.

Laxus shrugged. “A few times. I remember signing off a check or two for that… Don’t really remember how, just that I got convinced by someone who came to one of my parties. Also lost a game of cards against one of the teachers one time. She took my money, and told me she’ll buy chalkboards with it.”

Levy had to hide her self-satisfied smile behind her tea cup.

Gray rolled his eyes, trying to hide his own grin.

He’d long wondered who was the one backing that little school for children in Magnolia. He had thought it peculiar – a free school, for any child who was interested to go, teaching subjects usually only taught to nobles by hired tutors, to prepare them for University or clerical work in the Middle City. He knew the denizens of Magnolia alone couldn’t have possibly made it happen just by themselves. So was it Lucy, ever charitable and fond of little pet projects? Or was it Laxus, who had sort of laid down roots in that little island?

Now, he knew the answer.

Now, that little school was expanding – moving upwards, even, to the Middle City – and Miss Levy McGarden’s carefully-cultivated network was being put to very good use to help her reach her goal.

See, Gray was not a master politician, but he didn’t have to be, to recognize the ones who were.

Silver exchanged a look with Gildarts before finally nodding. “Well, then. I think we all agree that this is very much worth looking into. But seeing as this… item… was brought up at the tail end of our agenda today, I think everyone would need time to assess, work the figures, and make their own decisions. I’m sure you understand, Duchess, Miss McGarden?”

Both ladies bowed their heads eagerly.

“It is enough that we managed to bring this to your attention at all, my lord.” Levy said.

“Oh, anything for a friend. Ah, and of course the Ambassador is welcome to pitch in, if he is also interested?” Silver asked, turning to the Ambassador, making sure that no one is left out.

Prince Natsu nodded. “I learned much about your education system here today, very different from ours. I’ll discuss this with Sting. He knows a lot about this topic. He would know what to offer.” then he turned to Lucy and Levy, smiling. “If you have need of anything you think our people and trade can provide, Ambassador House is always open and we will see how we may help.”

“Your offer is very highly appreciated, Ambassador.” Lucy said, voice dripping with fondness. A performance, if Gray had ever seen one, but the twinkle in her eye told him otherwise.

Gray really ought to ask her what the deal between her and the Prince is, one of these days. It was fine, back in the convocation, but it has been months, and while Gray may be the patient sort, this constant flirting, dancing and dallying around each other was starting to chafe on him.

Finally, Silver turned to the last two in the room. “And if Lord Fernandez and his staff could relay this new plan to the City Council, it would be a great help.”

The representative pursed his lips, and was quite obviously about to raise a concern, but before he could say anything, Jellal laid a hand on his arm, effectively silencing him.

“Of course, My Lord.” Jellal answered, all cool composure. He gave his companion a meaningful look before turning back to the others. “We’ll make sure to bring this up to the Council as soon as appropriate.”

Gray always liked Jellal. It has only been a few years since the man started working in Lord Warrod’s office in the Council of Lords, but he had seemingly mastered the art of damage control, specially when dealing with high nobility.

He looked at the representative, who was squirming in discontent, but knew better than to grumble at his betters. The man must not know how fortunate he was, that Jellal did not let him run his tongue. Prejudiced or not, Gray wouldn’t wish it upon anyone to incur the wrath of both Dreyar and Heartfilia at the same time.

Duke Silver dismissed the meeting, thanking everyone for their attendance. Gray stood up and followed everyone as Gildarts all ushered them out of the room.

He felt a familiar hand on his arm, and slowed down to match Lucy’s pace. “Thank you for your backing there, Gray.” she said, whispering. It was Lucy, sweet and real , not-performing this time.

Gray shook his head, smiling. “I said nothing that wasn’t true. The school is a good thing. You have me for this one.”

She smiled back and then tipped her head sideways, expectant. “You continue to be the best.”

He shrugged easily, leaning down to press a kiss to her cheek. “I try.” he said, then nodded towards the others. “Don’t let me keep you. I know you’re not done yet.”

“Oh, far from it.” she laughed lightly, and like a butterfly, she flitted past the stiff representative, past Jellal talking to Laxus, and finally towards where Silver and Gildarts were entertaining the Ambassador.

She weaved in so easily in their little crowd, genial and perfect, “Ambassador, were you by chance telling the Duke about education in Alvarez?”

The Ambassador did not miss a beat, offering his arm to the lady. “Yes, Duchess. Our friends Silver and Gildarts asked.”

“How nice! I was just about to ask you too.” Lucy crooned, taking the man’s arm and clinging just a tiny bit closer than proper. If that was intentional, Gray did not know.

“Apparently, dear Lucy, the royal staff handpicks young apprentices throughout their country to study different practices in the palace.” Silver said, impressed. “That is very generous, if I may say so.”

“Ah, it’s been our way, for generations.” Natsu said, waving the praise off. “Here you have the University, yes?”

Gray tuned that discussion out, as Levy had sidled up beside him, keeping a polite and appropriate distance. “So… Lord Fullbuster.” she said, smile restrained. “This is you in your element, then?”

“Not my element, not really.” he replied, trying not to sound or look too comfortable. Here in the Hill, he was a young Lord, and Miss McGarden was merely a new acquaintance. They had not been friends for years. “How about you? You’re quite a way from home.”

“Yes, but I came with purpose.”

“Have you fulfilled that purpose, then?”

“I think it’s quite a success.” she said. Then, making sure no one was looking, she nudged his arm just a little playfully. “I appreciate what you did there.”

Gray smiled, nudging back. “What are friends for?”

The group made their way down the stairs and to the main hall, waiting for their carriages to roll into the front entrance of the house. Gildarts asked one of the servants for the Ambassador’s guard, to which the young footman said, “He is in the crystal room, My Lord. Lady Juvia had decided to bring him there and keep him company.”

Gray looked up. That was unexpected. It was not that Juvia did not like people, or keeping them company. It was simply that Juvia usually shied away from strangers.

Before Gildarts could order the servant to fetch the Ambassador’s guard, Gray spoke up. “Leave it to me. I shall go and fetch Master Gajeel.”

The servant blinked. “My Lord-”

“It’s alright.” Gray said, appeasing. “I was going to check on Juvia and Brooke anyway. I’ll handle it.”

The servant made to retort, but really, he was used to this. Lord Gray was very hands-on, and always preferred to work on things himself. The staff admired him for it.

“Oh, say hello to Juvia for me.” Lucy said, smile sweet.

Gray only nodded and then bowed to the rest of the party before walking off to find his wife, child, and their new friend.



The crystal room was called so because from the outside, it shone like crystals in the daylight. But really, it was simply a greenhouse with glass walls and ceilings, sprawling with an abundance of Amefurashi winter blossoms, with wide doors leading directly into the estate gardens.

Its centerpiece was a beautiful crystal sculpture of a mermaid. Under this marvel was a white marble round table with matching chairs. Gray knew it was his wife’s favorite place in the house. So much so that he had a separate crib acquired for the room a month before their daughter’s birth, so Juvia may continue spending time there with no worries. She liked to do her reading and needlework surrounded by the flowers. She entertained Duchesses Heartfilia and Dreyar, sometimes Lady Alberona – her closest friends – in the crystal room. Other visitors usually got treated to a less intimate venue.

So this , bringing in a foreign guard to her “nest” of sorts, was new.

Gray wondered at this as he made his way to the room. He passed by the music hall and into the salon, fully expecting to find his wife and their guest sitting perhaps in pleasant conversation in the marble table, drinking tea or chocolate, having snacks.

But several paces away, he could already hear Juvia’s laughter, bright and happy, accompanied by a man’s low rumbling chuckles, and an infant’s delighted squeals.

It made him speed up, curious more than anything.

When he walked in, he found a most unexpected sight.

Juvia stood amongst the plants and flowers, holding their baby daughter in her arms. Then, from behind the shrubbery, a man’s head emerged, tongue out and eyes crossed – and both Juvia and Brooke erupted in peals of laughter.

It was the silliest thing, and it took him so off guard, he couldn’t help the abrupt snorting laugh that he let out.

That alerted the others, though. They stopped and turned to him, frozen.

Brooke was the first to break out of it, clearly recognizing a familiar face, clapping her little hands and eagerly reaching for her father.

“My Lord!” Juvia exclaimed, blush high on her cheeks as she rocked the baby in her arms. “T-The… The meeting has finished, then?”

“It has.” he answered, walking inside to join his wife and child. He raised a hand to Brooke and the infant latched on to two of his fingers. He leaned over to press a soft kiss to his daughter’s hand, and then to his wife’s temple. “I see you’ve kept yourself occupied, too.”

Gajeel stepped out of the shrubbery, clearing his throat and straightening his robes. “Lord Fullbuster.” he said, bowing slightly, making sure to hide his native accent enough to sound neutral. “Mi-… Lady L-… Lady Fullbuster was kind to keep me company this afternoon, and your staff was very accommodating. Please accept my gratitude.”

Gray looked at the other man and nodded. “I’m glad the staff welcomed you nicely, and I have to thank you for providing what looks like excellent company for my wife and daughter as well.”

“Master Gajeel told of very interesting stories of Vistarion.” Juvia said, smiling. “And I think Brooke likes her new friend.”

“Do you, now, young lady?” Gray cooed at the infant, who giggled at him. He turned towards Gajeel and smiled as well. “I actually came to fetch you, Master Gajeel, as the Ambassador and the others are preparing to leave.”

Their guest looked surprised, but quickly brushed it off. “I see.” he said, then turned to Juvia and Brooke. “It seems I must go now. Thank you for… the warm company, my ladies.”

“And yours, Master Gajeel.” Juvia said, with a smile, gently bouncing her daughter in her arms.

“I’ll show you back, then?” Gray offered, already turning to go.

Gajeel nodded and moved to follow Gray, but stopped after taking a step. He went to face Juvia and Brooke again. After a moment’s hesitation, he reached out and gently swiped his thumb across the infant’s brow, mumbling a phrase in a language Gray didn’t understand, while Juvia looked up at him in surprise.

With another nod, Gajeel turned away, and let Gray lead him out.

As they walked through the quiet halls of the Fullbuster mansion, Gray asked, “That gesture… is that a custom, in Alvarez?”

Gajeel never liked lying, but he knew it would be strange not to answer such a harmless question. “It is a gesture of my people.”

“Interesting.” Gray said, all curiosity. “Does it have a special meaning, then?”

‘Grow like a wildflower’ . We say it to wish blessings on children, often to little girls.”

“A wildflower? That’s… unexpected.”

The answer came easy – it was a saying that everyone from his homeland knew. “It is beautiful and delicate, but can take root in the most unexpected places. Wildflower.”

“Huh.” Gray lets out a chuckle, a pleased one. “Very poetic. Thank you, then. For doing that for my daughter. It’s what I would wish for her too.”

Gajeel could tell that he was honest.

He’d met with a good deal of nobles in Crocus while he stood as Natsu’s guard, and most of them had been a piece of work, even the nicer ones. They were men that Gajeel would normally just turn his back to and walk away from – not having enough patience to deal with their arrogance, peacocking, or people-pleasing. That was the part Gajeel hated most about nobles – the acting.

But Gray Fullbuster struck him as a kind man, in a very clear, unadorned, simple way. Some kind men still put up an act, but Young Lord Fullbuster didn’t. This was just how he was – fair and open – and if he was a little bit stiff, that mostly came from an effort to be a polite host.

He reminded Gajeel of-


No wonder Lady Juvia loved him so. Lord Gray’s brand of kindness was so much like the late Lord Lockser’s.



Juvia kept a journal. She had always done so, ever since she was a girl. A private diary of her days, her thoughts, and her plans. It was a habit she kept religiously, and her old worn notebooks with their peeling leather covers and yellowed pages were some of the few things she had managed to keep when she moved to the City to move in with her husband’s family.

Today, her journal entry was turning out to be longer than usual. After all, it had been an interesting day. In the middle of writing it, she had rummaged through her private chest for one of her older diaries and had begun flipping its pages, reading through her memories as a young girl. Her fingers traced faded ribbons, pressed flowers, dried leaves and old parchments that had been stuck and slipped in between the pages.

Elsewhere, she heard the sweet notes of Gray’s piano floating softly through the halls of the house.

She bit her lip. She had been writing and reading into the night, with the lamp on, which also kept her husband up. But Gray only told her not to mind him, to keep writing. When Brooke began to cry, Gray told her not to drop her pen as he got out of bed and picked up their daughter from her crib. When she kept crying, he decided to take her outside the room.

“We’ll take a stroll,” he had said to the baby, voice soft and patient. “Just you and me.”

He was humming, from the last Juvia had heard of him before his voice and footsteps faded out into the silence of the house.

That was about an hour ago. Juvia had to admit to herself that perhaps she had indulged too much. She penned a quick end to her entry, and put her pen and journals away.

She stood up and put on her robe. It was time to call her husband back to bed.


Juvia followed the sound of the piano through the halls. Gray was playing a soft, high-pitched melody, sweet and playful, new to her ears.

Gray was a quietly passionate musician, she had learned early on, like many others in his family. His mother and grandfather also played the piano, Duke Silver was known for his smooth singing voice and several late members of the family also played various instruments. This was one of the reasons why Fullbuster House was built with high ceilings and open halls.

While Juvia had grown to love listening to Gray play, nothing compared to watching him as he performed. She had arrived in the piano hall, and stopped for a while just to admire the view.

There he was. Her husband, in just his sleeping clothes and dressing gown, his face peaceful, body slack and swaying as he played in the center of the dais. Bathed in light from the tall windows, he made a surreal image, like a ghost almost, with the moon reflected on the shiny surface of his black piano.

He didn’t stop playing when he finally noticed her. Instead he simply smiled and tilted his head, beckoning her to join him.

“All done with your daily musings?” he asked, scooting over in the seat to make space for her, his fingers not losing their rhythm.

“Yes. I’m sorry if it took too long.” she answered. “Where’s Brooke?”

“With her grandfather.” Gray shrugged. “He saw me humming to her in the hallway and then took her. Now I don’t know where he spirited her off to. I just let them be, he hasn’t been able to spend much time with her lately.”

When she sat beside him, he stopped for one moment, before switching to a different piece. This one was familiar. Her lullaby.

She smiled and leaned her head on his shoulder with a content sigh. He rested his head against hers. He whispered, “Sing for me?”

Even now, he could so easily make her blush.

She didn’t trust her words, when she was like this – it was already a task to speak in his language a lot of the time, instead she only nodded, and eyed his deft fingers as they flew across the black and white keys.

Taking a deep breath, she waited for her cue. And when she found it, she began to sing. The words escaped her lips, easy as breathing, words of a tongue she knew he didn’t fully understand, but appreciated hearing, anyway.

Music was the language they both know to use with each other the most. Like this, just sitting together in the moonlight, is when Juvia felt most loved. Like this, they know one song, and that was that. Even though Juvia could hardly read the notes in a music sheet, even though Gray would still stumble at even the simplest of phrases in her mother language, like this is when they felt most understood.

This lullaby was how they first connected.



Juvia first arrived in Fullbuster mansion after a tearful parting with her father in the borders of the City, where Lord Lockser made Duke Silver swear to keep her safe. Duke Silver had not even asked for her dowry, simply promising to take care of Juvia, but Lord Lockser insisted he take it.

“This is not nearly enough, Silver.” her father had said. “But nothing will ever be, I think, for what you are doing for us.”

“Niall, all I ask of you is to sign the marriage contract, so I could legitimately take her under my protection. That’s enough.” Lord Silver insisted. “You might need this money-”

Niall Lockser only smiled before reaching out to hug his friend. “I wouldn’t. You are very kind, old friend.”

Her father gave her one last kiss and that was the last she saw of him. She was fraught with tears all the way to the City, to the Hill, to Fullbuster House. It was just her, her clothes, and a chest of her things. That was all that was left of Juvia Lockser that day.

Silver did not even introduce her to Gray then, knowing that she was too deep in mourning for anything else. He only led her to her rooms to rest.

She did a lot of crying during her first few days in the mansion, never leaving her room, Silver himself bringing her trays of food she hardly touched. He always brought news with him. Most of them dire, but she appreciated his honesty. 

She had thought she’d ran out of tears by the time he told her of her father’s execution – but that was proved wrong, as she found herself crying once again. This time, Silver didn’t leave, and he held her until she fell asleep, still sobbing.

The next day, Gray was the one to bring her food.

“Father had to go out today.” he said, laying down the tray on the little table. “He asked me to bring you your food and to see how you’re doing.”

She stared at him. He was so handsome, like his father, but with a gentler face. He looked dashing in a suit of his house’s colors, and spoke with such grace. Every inch of him was the image of the romantic City gentleman she’d sometimes imagine with her young lady friends back home.

This observation only made her curl in on herself, hiding her tear-streaked face behind her hair. When she spoke, it was stilted, her accent heavy. “You… Lord-… You are… Duke Silver’s… son?”

“Uh. Yes. I am. My name is Gray Fullbuster.” 

She whimpered, hiding further. “Juvia is sorry.” She couldn’t help it, and she began to tear up again.

He made a noise of discomfort, but he stepped forward, concerned. “Hey… hey, now. I- Are you crying? You’re crying- What’s- What’s wrong?”

She couldn’t face him. Not when she looked like this. “Juvia is sorry. Juvia is not- must not be- what you desire as your bride?”

He paused. “I-… Well-” He sounded like he was at a loss, and perhaps he was.

Surely, Lord Silver would have raised his son to be as kind and compassionate as he was. Surely, Lord Gray would not want to hurt her feelings, knowing she was already going through so much.

“It’s… It’s not like I have someone I… desire… anyway? As my bride?”

“Juvia is sorry, for… for…” she trailed out with a sigh, half-frustrated and half-resigned, not really knowing how to say what she wanted to say.

“You shouldn’t be sorry.” he said, pursing his lips. It sounds like something he’d been waiting to say. “You’re the one they’ve done wrong. You… you and your father, and your people. You didn’t deserve all that happened to you. Taking you in, Father was just doing what’s right.”

She peeked at him through her curtain of hair.

“And… This betrothal just saved your life. I don’t want you to think you owe us, I just think, I think it’s a small price to pay, on my part. I think it’s worth it.”

Juvia looked down again, and it took her a while before she could answer. “Lord Gray is kind, like Duke Silver.”

He left after that, knowing that she still needed space.


She started to regain her appetite, slowly, and she started to poke around the room. She found several books, and tried to read one. It was hard, in the unfamiliar language, but she figured it was a way to practice her reading.

She didn’t leave her room, however. She changed her clothes, she kept herself clean, but never left her room.

Until one day, when she heard the soft notes of a piano floating through the quiet halls of the house. She could have enjoyed it, really, in the quiet of the comfortable guest room she’d come to settle in over the past weeks.

Except she recognized the melody. She recognized the song. Without thinking about it, she grabbed one of her fur-lined robes and for the first time in weeks, she exited her room. She followed the music, and it led her to a spacious hall with a high ceiling, a tall window, and a dais with a piano at its center. Sitting there, playing, was Lord Gray.

He stopped when he saw her, standing urgently. “Lady Juvia? Is something the matter? Are you alright?”

She stared at him, then at the piano, and back at him. “Lord Gray… was playing a song.”

“Y-Yeah, I was. I play, sometimes?” he answered, confused, until his eyes widened and he walked around the piano, concerned. “I’m sorry, was I loud? Did I disturb you? Were you taking a nap or-”

“Lord Gray was playing a song from Amefurashi.”

He looked shocked. This time, he closed his eyes and bit his lip, shaking his head, remorseful. “I…  I apologize, it must have upset you. I should have known.”

She shook her head, stepping closer. “Why does Lord Gray know this song?”

“Why do I-? Uh. My mother. My mother, she taught me the piano, and she… she taught me this song. She was from Rain Country.”

“Oh.” she said, staring at him like he was seeing him again for the first time.

Gray looked like we grasping at what else to say. “I… I didn’t know much about it- Is it a popular song?”

“It is a lullaby. Traditional. We sing to children.”

“Ah. Yes, that makes sense.” he said, this time chuckling, eyes softening. “She did use to sing me to sleep with it.”

With that, they’ve said all that they had to say for that conversation. They stood there in silence, the air between them that of strangers who did not seem to have anything in common, and did not know how to acknowledge it.

Juvia took the first step back. “Apologies for bothering Lord Gray. Please… please continue on your music. Juvia will now… go back…”

“A-Alright.” Gray nodded, just as awkward. “You will… go back to your room?”

“Yes. Have a good afternoon.” With that, she bowed, and then turned to leave.

Gray watched her, and before he could think about it, he found himself saying, “Wait.”

She turned to him again.

“I just… I just want… to be clear.”

She tilted her head, confused, trying to parse his words. She knew that she sometimes heard only literal meanings, and missed many expressions due to the language barrier. “Clear?”

“I want to come to an understanding.” he said, surer this time. “You… You spend all your time in your room – which is perfectly fine! It’s alright, if you really aren’t interested in going out. I just… I just don’t want you to feel like you’re not allowed to go out? Which- Well. You just… went out. So maybe you don’t feel like that at all. Argh. I’m messing this up.”

Juvia couldn’t help but let out a small smile, appreciating his effort. “Juvia just… doesn’t want to cause trouble for Lord Gray and Duke Silver.”

“Not at all. My point,” he tried again, “is that… while you’re in this house, you are free to do what you want. And it’s no trouble at all. You’re not a burden. You’re… well, you’re part of the family now?”

She looked away at that. Maybe he was right, but she still couldn’t help but feel some grief with it.

Gray looked like he regretted saying that too, but he quickly recovered. “Very well, how about this. What do you like?”

“What Juvia likes? ” she asked, unsure. “Things?”

“Yeah. Things. Activities. What do you like to do? I know you-… you didn’t… come, with much. So, while you’re settling in, let’s get nice things that you like. Just so… so you can have… nice things that you like?” he trailed off, looking like a mix of confused and disappointed with himself.

Juvia could see how hard he was trying, though. And she knew she would feel terrible if she didn’t at least try to humor his request. “Juvia… Juvia would like to do needlework.”

“Needlework. So… cloth, needles, thread, all of those?”

She nodded.

“Good. That’s good. I’ll have some brought to you, then.”

She smiled slightly, and then bowed again. “Lord Gray is kind.”

He chuckled. “You… you don’t have to say that everytime.”

She shook her head. “It is how we express our gratitude.”

“Oh. Oh! You’re saying thanks.”

She nodded.

“Well. Uh. You’re welcome.”

She bowed again, and then turned to leave. This time, he let her go.


That very same night, Juvia received a lovely basket with fine cloth, quality thread and brand new needlework tools. The servant also asked her if she would be coming down to dinner – a first – but this time, she said no. The servant easily accepted the answer and told her that they would be bringing food to her shortly.

While waiting, she examined the contents of the basket again. What caught her eye first was the fine silk cloth, deep blue, like a dark starry night. She took that first, and began her work.


The next day, when the servant asked her again, she said yes. Yes, she would come to dinner.

It was about time that she tried to show her hosts how grateful she is for their kindness and understanding. It was the least she could do, really. To dine with them.

It should be simple enough. Except, as the hour was nearing, she realized that she only had her old dresses to wear. That… that didn’t seem appropriate. The City had very different fashions than Amefurashi. Even her nicest gown, embroidered and beaded by her own hand, which would easily pass as glamorous enough for a wedding or dance in Amefurashi, looked nothing close to the elaborate, complicated ones she’d seen of the City ladies.

But… she had already promised to go. She had to commit, or else she would only look ungrateful, indecisive.

So she put on her nicest gown and headed to the dining area.

Her worries were put to rest the moment she arrived. Duke Silver and Lord Gray both looked pleased to see her, and only welcomed her with warmth. Dining with them was Lord Gildarts, who was also a friendly presence. Duke Silver told her that she looked lovely, and that was more than enough.

She was quiet throughout the dinner, as Duke Silver told them about his day, and attempted several jokes with Gildarts. She exchanged glances with a weary Gray whenever the older men said something particularly silly.

After a while, Duke Silver turned to her.

“Gray’s mother, Mika, she liked to don dresses like yours, Lady Juvia.” Duke Gray said, smile wistful. “Remember, Gildarts? Mika’s long dresses?”

Lord Gildarts chuckled. “Of course! When she was pregnant with Gray, she wore them all the time. Said it was much more comfortable than anything the City ladies wore.”

Juvia smiled. “Juvia hopes Duke Silver doesn’t mind the… the outdated fashion…”

Duke Silver only laughed. “Oh, you’re at home, sweet girl. You can be yourself.”

She took a breath, then nodded, smiling down at her food. “Duke Silver is kind.”

The man humbly waved it off. “Ah, but if you want new dresses, just say so! Gray would be happy to call on the tailors. Right, Gray?”

Gray blinked. “Of course.”

Silver nodded approvingly, then started counting off. “Maybe jewelry, books, shoes, flowers, whatever you want…”

Juvia summoned her courage then. “Actually,” she started, voice small. “Juvia has… something for… Duke Silver. A token of gratitude.”

Silver stopped in his babbling, looking curiously at her. “Oh?”

She took the folded handkerchief from her pocket and handed it to the man, who accepted it, quiet all of a sudden. It was dark blue silk, hemmed with silver thread. On one corner was a neat embroidery of little white flowers with vines twining elegantly into a monogram that spelled ‘SF’.

“Oh, it’s beautiful!” the man marveled, and he reached out to take her hand and press a kiss to it, making her blush bright. “You are a treasure! Look, Gray, have you ever seen something so perfect?” he said, brandishing the embroidery to his son’s face.

Gray laughed, and squinted at the embroidery before nodding at Juvia. “It’s excellent. You did this in two days?”

Juvia looked down. “Y-Yes. That is the fifth one, the others were not very good.”

Silver whirled towards her, looking scandalized. “My girl, I want them all.”

Juvia shook her head, blushing brighter, obviously not sure how to handle such a request. “But-! They are not very good!”

“You made them, I love them.” he said, grinning, as he looked at his new handkerchief again. “Are these winter blossoms? Those flowers that grow in your home?”


“We should fill the house with them this winter.” The Duke declared, resolute. He looked towards Gildarts, who had only been watching them in amusement. “Gildarts, make sure I remember that come the season, you got it, man?”

“Of course, milord.” Gildarts only shrugged. “Winter blossoms for winter. Easy enough to remember.”

Silver clapped. “And also for the wedding!”

Gray gaped at him. “Father!” he scolded.

“What?” Silver blinked. “Lady Juvia will look like an angel with those flowers, and they always looked fantastic with the house-”

Gray gestured to where Juvia was squirming and blushing.

Silver gasped, concerned. “B-But… but whatever flowers Lady Juvia chooses… will be good. I’m sure they will be good.”

Juvia could only nod shakily. “D-Duke Silver is… kind.”


After that, Juvia would join them for meals. When he discovered her love of flowers, Gray brought her to the greenhouse – the crystal room – and since then, she would come down from her room and do her needlework or reading there.

Sometimes, when Gray would play the piano, she would move to sit on one of the empty divans nearby, a quiet audience of one.

But the peaceful simplicity of her days did not last too long. One afternoon, Gray came to her in the crystal room, and handed her an invitation.

“The Realights are throwing a ball. I would be going. I thought you… might want to come?”

She looked at him. “This invitation is for Lord Gray only…”

“I’m allowed to bring a date.” he chuckled. “What do you say? It is not the biggest party, and Lady Realight is a very lenient hostess. It would be easy to excuse ourselves if it’s too much.”

“I… I am not sure.” she said, looking down again, at the small card. It had an elegant seal and a script to match.

“It’s fine, if you choose to stay. I understand. You’re still settling in.” he shrugged, smiling reassuringly. “I just thought I’d bring it up to you.”

It would be nice, she thought. To meet people, and make friends, in this City where she knew no one. She liked Duke Silver’s fatherly doting, Lord Gray’s quiet company and even Lord Gildarts’s easy attentiveness, but… she also knew, down the line, it would be expected of her to go out into society. They rarely brought it up, but she was going to be the Lady of the House one day.

“Thank you, My Lord.” she said. It took some time, but reading a lot and regular interaction with everyone in the house was helping her learn more of the language and the expressions. “Juvia… I would like to attend, but…”

He blinked. “But?”

“I have never been to a party in the City before.”

“I’ll be there with you.” Gray said, finally taking a seat at the marble table across from her. “You don’t have to talk to anyone or do anything you don’t want to.”

She nodded, but still looked apprehensive. “I also… don’t have anything to wear. Not to the City’s fashions.”

“Oh. You don’t think your dresses from Rain Country will do? Because I have seen them, they’re beautiful. You made them yourself, didn’t you?”

“Yes. And I would be proud to wear them. But I don’t think it would look good for Lord Gray and Duke Silver… I don’t want to embarrass or cause scandal.”

Gray fell silent, only now realizing it. Of course. Juvia wouldn’t want to stand out like that, specially after everything that had happened with her hometown and her family, still fresh in everyone’s minds.

“Very well, then. We’ll get you a new dress, something from the City. You can pick what you like, so you’re comfortable.”

“P-Pick? But I am not familiar- I don’t even… know how one wears them.” she trailed off in a squeak, blushing. She shouldn’t be talking to a gentleman about this…

But Gray didn’t seem worried about it. “We can get you a lady’s maid. We really should have gotten one when you first arrived. It’s just… been so long since the house required one, that we all forgot about it.” he said, thoughtful. “We’ll get you one, to help you with your dresses and… other… lady matters.”

He looked like he was just realizing how unconventional their current conversation was.

“Anyways. Let me worry about that.” he said, shaking his own discomfort off. “If we can get you a new dress, and a lady’s maid to help you with it, will you go to the party?”

“Juvia would like to.” she said, with a small, hopeful smile. “Will… Will the lady’s maid be able to help me about… about what to do in the party, also?”

He blinked. “Have you never had a lady’s maid before?”

She shook her head. They had maids, of course. But there were no lady’s maids whose exclusive jobs were to help their mistresses dress and do their hair. They did those by themselves. The maids sometimes helped, though, on weddings and special events when dresses have more complicated laces and hair had to be braided in more intricate ways.

“Well…” He thought about it, and then, nodded to himself, as if he just came up with a solution. He grinned at her, and as always, it brought her comfort, and as it seemed to do so in recent days, it also made her blush. “Let me worry about that too.”


Two days later, when Gray came to her in the crystal room, he was not alone. He was accompanied by a woman – a very beautiful woman, with bright brown eyes, perfectly-styled blonde hair, and the prettiest City dress Juvia had ever seen – blush pink with golden linings. She looked like one of those porcelain dolls, only very, very much alive.

“Lady Juvia,” Gray called, and Juvia stood up on instinct, as one did to greet a guest. “I’d like you to meet Duchess Lucy Heartfilia.”

Juvia’s eyes widened, and she quickly gathered her skirts and bowed. “It is an honor to meet you, Duchess!”

The Duchess smiled brightly, doing a perfect curtsy. “Please, it is my pleasure to finally meet you, Lady Juvia. I’ve wanted to pay a visit for a while, but Gray won’t let me.”

This time, she directed her pout at Gray, who put his hands up with a guilty smile. “I finally asked you, didn’t I?”

“It was about time, Gray.” she huffed, but it didn’t come across as annoyed or arrogant, merely playful. “It is only right that I get to know my best friend’s bride-to-be.”

“Lucy…” Gray grumbled, blushing.

Juvia watched them, rapt. Duchess Heartfilia was so graceful. She moved like she was dancing, and had such a natural charm when she spoke. Lord Gray was blushing, and it was new to Juvia. Lord Gray so rarely lost his composure. But who wouldn’t, in the presence of such a lady?

He cleared his throat. “Anyways. Lady Juvia, the Duchess is an old friend of mine. I asked her to do me a favor, and help you prepare for the party.”

Juvia blinked. “B-But… Juvia can’t possibly trouble the Duchess… Juvia- I thought… the lady’s maid…?”

“We still are getting a lady’s maid. Gildarts is looking. He just… hasn’t looked for a while, so, he’s taking his time.” Gray explained. “But… well…” 

“Oh, love, get yourself together.” the Duchess teased him, then she stepped forward and took Juvia’s hand. “My darling, I mean no offense to their trade, but a lady’s maid cannot possibly teach you everything you need to know to navigate the stormy seas of a City party, and in such short a time. Also, our Gray knows nothing about dresses. He doesn’t even know what to do with a corset. I know that for a fact.”

“L-Lucy.” Gray grumbled again, this time with a warning squint.

Lucy giggled, a dainty finger tracing the other woman’s jaw. “Worry not, our mutual experience with it involved lacing it back up, not the other way around.”

It took Juvia several seconds to understand the implication. “M-Mutual experience?!” she cried, looking between the two.

The Duchess laughed. “I’ll tell you the story later. It’s nothing you should worry about, my darling, your fiancee is the most honorable man I know. He’s so honorable, he’s almost boring. But he is also my most beloved friend, and you are the future Lady of his house, so I will do my best to help you.”

“T-Thank you…?”

“So, let’s get started?” she asked, looping their arms together and leading her out. “Come, I brought some of my dresses over, one should fit you, with some adjustments. Me and my lady’s maid shall teach you how it all works. The tailors are on their way, they should be bringing samples of fabric for you to choose from, and they’d be taking your measurements so we can get you some fitting underclothes too.”

Juvia struggled to keep up with all that, eyes wide. “Everything will be… made new?”

“Why, of course! It should be a perfect fit. Comfort is important. And it’s my treat, for my new friend.”

“That’s… Duchess Heartfilia is very generous.”

“Call me Lucy. May I call you Juvia?”

“Yes… Lucy.”

“Wonderful! While we wait, we’ll have tea and I shall tell you everything you want to know about Gray.”

“Lucy…” this time Gray sounded like he was pleading-

-to which the Duchess simply giggled. “I’ll take Lady Juvia now, thank you, Young Lord Fullbuster. You may go. Just remember your promise.”

He looked vaguely mortified, but he stepped forward and pressed a kiss to his friend’s cheek. “Yes, I shall play at your next musicale.” Then, he sent Juvia a smile. “She talks a mile a minute, Lady Juvia, but you are in good hands.”

He bowed graciously at both ladies, and then they were off.


City fashion was complicated, the corsets were uncomfortable at best, and the dresses were heavy. Putting them on for the first time was torture, but by the time she had looked at herself in the mirror, Juvia found herself excited to pick from the different fabrics the tailor brought for a brand new dress.

While Juvia stood still for adjustments and measurements, Lucy was going through her closet, and was openly admiring her old Rain Country dresses.

“Oh, Juvia, these are so elegant, and they look much, much more comfortable than our dresses here.” she said. “It’s so simple, but this beadwork! The embroidery!”

“Lucy is kind.” Juvia said with a shy smile. “Juvia liked making them.”

“You did this yourself?” Lucy asked, looking at her in awe. “Darling, they’re brilliant! They- Huh…” she looked thoughtful, this time. “Juvia, would you… would you mind if one of these beautiful dresses… was to be re-purposed?”

Juvia blinked. “Re-purposed?”

“It is a good, thick fabric. With really good detail work. I was thinking,” – she crossed the room with the dress, and held it up, lined up in front of one of the spare dresses she brought. “We could use this part of your old dress as a layer in your new one, a bit like this. You know, it would provide such beautiful details, embroidery and beadwork, instead of common frills and lace.”

“We… we can do that?”

Lucy nodded, busy considering the two dresses together. “We can, can’t we, Virgo?”

“We can, milady.” Virgo said, from across the room where she was putting away one of the Duchess’ spare gowns.

“I mean… these dresses are your work, they’re wonderful work, if I do say so myself.” Lucy continued. “You should be proud of them, and it’s unfair that you can’t wear them out because our people are so prejudiced… Oh, I have been babbling, am I? Without considering you- I’m so sorry-”

“No.” Juvia said quickly, making the other woman turn to her. “No, Juvia would like that. That would be… That would mean very much to me. In… In Rain Country, it is not the lace or jewels that display a lady’s beauty. It is her needlework.”

Lucy’s smile was wide, excited. “Let’s do it, then?”

Juvia nodded, biting her lip. “Yes.”


Lucy came by the next day, this time without the dresses, tailors and lady’s maid. This time, she had a shoemaker, and the Fullbuster House’s jeweler.

She only had to look at Juvia’s reaction to the fancy sapphire and white diamond necklace, and she quickly shook her head. “Something simple, please. House Fullbuster is elegant and understated.” she said, voice firm. She surveyed the jewelry again and pointed at one. “How about those?”

The jeweler held up the box that the Duchess picked. “Ah, a unique choice, but if it pleases my lady?”

Juvia gasps, then smiles softly. “They… they look like frozen raindrops…

Lucy smiles too. “White pearls it is, then.”


When Lucy came by next, she was unaccompanied, save for a block of chocolate.

This time, they sat down in the crystal room. Lucy was patient, and never seemed to lose her smile as she taught Juvia the ins and outs of decorum in their society. Juvia thought it would be so complicated, but she had a way of making things simple.

In between the walking, posture, and curtsy lessons, Lucy told her stories about Gray’s childhood.


Lucy decided that she would prepare for the ball in Fullbuster House with Juvia. The night of the event, the two of them and their lady’s maids busied themselves with their dresses and jewels.

When it came time to do their hair, and they sat side by side as their lady’s maids brushes their long hair back, preparing to put them up.

“Juvia, you never seem to put your hair up. Is that a… tradition? In Rain Country?”

Juvia nodded. “If our hair is up, our neck and shoulders are exposed to the cold. We always wear them down.”

“Then what do you do for your hair, for special occasions, when you are dressed up?”

“We braid.” Juvia said. “We put them in beautiful braids on the back of our head. Sometimes, we put pins and flowers.”

“You do always have the prettiest braids in your hair.” Lucy observed. “Do you want to have your hair down tonight?”

Juvia blinked. “But… but it is not the City fashions.”

“Darling, believe me.” Lucy said with an impish grin. “If I say it is, then it is.” She signalled for Virgo to stop brushing. “What do you say? I picked our dresses. How about you do our hair?”


Juvia arrived in her first ball with Lord Gray Fullbuster on her side, and Duchess Lucy Heartfilia on the other.

She wore a gown that was both old and new, beaded and embroidered flowers and snowflakes under the expensive blue silk replacing the City’s traditional lace. She wore jewels reminiscent of Rain Country winters.

She wore her hair down in elegant curls, with the braids behind her head arranged to form an image of a beautiful rose, with little drops of pearl to adorn them. She was matching with Duchess Heartfilia herself, only instead of a flower, the woman’s golden braids went around her head like a crown.

“Lady Juvia,” she heard Gray whisper, and she looked at him. “I just want to say that I’m proud, of how you chose to come here as you are.”

Juvia smiled. “Lord Gray is kind.”

He only inclined his head, amused. “Lord Gray is honored.”

She giggled, and as they were announced, she remembered Lucy’s lessons and held her head high.

She stepped into her new society as Lady Juvia Lockser. The last daughter of Rain Country.



Juvia’s reminiscing stopped when the music did. Oh, she had almost fallen asleep! She looked up to see why her husband had stopped playing, and had to smile at the sight of Duke Silver, carefully rocking a sleeping Brooke in his arms.

“We can take her now, My Lord.” Juvia offered, standing up.

“Oh, no, no!” Silver said in a whispering voice. “It is fine, I will take her to her crib. You two continue to… enjoy the moonlight. Or whatever you young lovers do. Good night!”

Gray chuckled. “Good night, old man.”

With that, the Duke left, cooing and whispering sweet nothings at Brooke. Juvia sat back down again. When they were sure that the man with the sleeping infant was far enough, Gray resumed playing.

This one was something Juvia hadn’t heard before, but it was familiar – ah. It was the one he had been playing, earlier, when she arrived.

“Is this one new?” she asked, voice soft, enjoying the playful, melody.

“Mm-hm.” he answered, focused on playing. “I call it ‘Wildflower’.”

Juvia tilted her head smiling. “Wildflower?”

“Yes. It just… happened. I had a sudden urge to play, and the melody came to me. It was after what Master Gajeel said, earlier.”

She blinked. “Master Gajeel? The Ambassador’s escort?”

“Yes, your new friend. Remember, when he did that… thing… to Brooke? I asked him about it, afterwards, and he said-”

“Grow like a wildflower.” she finished for him. She realized belatedly that she had spoken in her mother language.

Gray raised a brow. “You remembered the actual words? You really are good with languages. I am terrible at them-”

She looked down, wringing her hands together. “I… I am not.”

Slowly, he stopped playing, and peered at her face. “Juvia? Are you alright?”

She hadn’t told him. About Gajeel. She was still thinking about whether to tell him or not, but he was her husband and they never liked keeping secrets.

“What Master Gajeel said…” she started, breathing deeply. “It is not the custom of Alvarez. It is the custom of Amefurashi.”

Gray’s brows furrowed as he faced her, fully. He took her hands, concerned at her sudden quiet. “What do you mean?”

Juvia looked up at him, eyes staring straight into his. “My Lord… Master Gajeel is not a new friend of Juvia’s. He is an old one.”



Chapter Notes:

* for juvia’s father, i picked the name “Niall” – apparently the name means “cloud”, “passionate”, and also “champion” – which I thought was very fitting & symbolic for the Lord Lockser i’ve written in this AU. ^_^
* juvia’s frozen raindrops pearl necklace looks like this

here’s hoping that my streak continues, and we get the next & last part soon!

as always, don’t be a stranger (i’m sure you’re not because there’s only like 10 people who are keeping up with this series at this point lmao) and leave a comment if you can! shout at me or something! i love hearing back from y’all!

expand_less expand_more