We Are Young

24 Jun 2015
Part 1 of We Are Young

They’re teenagers, they’re young and they can worry about love and life.

A collection of character and relationship-centric, interrelated stories about some students of Fairy Gakuen.

Teen (13+)
Chapters: 23
Words: 377,513

We Are Young

Chapter 9
It’s Time


..aka “Jellal The Brave”

Chapter Notes:

This one is very late and I have to apologize for that. Real life got in the way. 😛

So here’s a chapter about Jellal! Well, actually, it’s a chapter about Jellal thinking about Erza, so basically it’s the expanded Erza chapter. It’s Jellal dealing with Erza dealing with Jellal so… yep.

There are more characters. And general love love love love.

Track 09: It’s Time
..aka “Jellal The Brave”

“I get a little bit bigger but then I’ll admit I’m just the same as I was.
Now don’t you understand? I’m never changing who I am.”
— Imagine Dragons


On their first school day in Magnolia, when Jellal came home with a little smile on his face and told his siblings that he dropped by FairyGaku to see his childhood friend, Mystogan and Wendy quickly teased him that “Oh, Jellal-nii only came back to Magnolia for Erza!”

Jellal fervently denied that. He came back to Magnolia because he got admitted to Sorciere High even in his last year in high school. He was intent on going to college at Fiore University and his chances would get better the more prestigious his high school was. Sorciere was known for its scholars.

It just so happened that Sorciere was in Magnolia. FairyGaku was in Magnolia, as well — and with that, Erza.

It wasn’t that he used to tell Mysto and Wendy about Erza so much when he was a kid that “Erza the girl with the red hair” stuck to his siblings’ minds as his first love and therefore the love of his life — no, it was definitely not that.

Maybe he just used to tell Mysto and Wendy about Erza so much when he was a kid that—

Okay, yeah. Jellal admitted that he was a little too puppy-lovey about Erza when he was a kid and they first left Magnolia, but he had grown and now he was a young man… And he knew that Erza may have found someone else and there were many other girls in the world—

Not that his priority was girls. He was far too busy with studying and getting into college.

Too busy, so he was walking towards the bakery after school that one Friday afternoon to buy some strawberry cake.

“Come on, Jelly! When are we going to meet the lucky girl?”

“You’ve been buying cake! Every week!”

Jellal groaned. He was busy studying and buying cake for Erza — and his new friends were being so nice that ever since Mysto mentioned a girl, Ultear and Meredy were intent on following Jellal to buy cake and see “Jelly’s FairyGaku Girlfriend”.

His two new friends knew three things: he always brought cake, “the girl” was from Fairy High, and he and “the girl” had been childhood sweethearts.

Honestly, Jellal didn’t even know how he became their friend. One minute he was the new boy in Sorciere High who, even though he was a senior, got bullied because of the rare mark on his face. The next minute, a beautiful girl with long dark hair had introduced herself as the Student Council President and had threatened the bullies with expulsion.

Jellal silently asked if she was a student or if she was the principal, but she just pulled him with her into the Student Council office and appointed him Student Council Treasurer. A cheerful pink-haired girl named Meredy was the Secretary. Another raven-head called Kagura was the Vice President and for reasons beyond him, she seemed intent to kill him, so even though Meredy and Ultear were weird, at least he could use them as human shields when Kagura finally decided to whip up a katana from somewhere and slice him into tiny shreds.

Ultear and Meredy were kind people, but DAMN were they sadists and when they met Mysto, they asked the twin to “spill some nice beans about your other half! What was he like as a kid?”

Sometimes Jellal hated his twin for being so oblivious as to spill some sensitive beans at the rare times Jellal had friends over.

Or maybe Mystogan was doing it on purpose.

For the past month, Jellal had managed to sneak away from both girls, but this time, they caught him.

Meredy clung to his sleeve and Ultear had an arm draped on his shoulders as he walked towards the bakery. Jellal would not back down, though. He was getting that cake even if he had to walk with both girls holding on to his feet.

“I’m not telling you because you’ll tease me and FOR THE LAST TIME, PLEASE CALL ME BY MY PROPER NAME.”

He stepped inside the little bakery with both girls still bugging him for information (Really, why the hell did he hang out with them at school? They were smart and competitive but when it came to juicy gossip, they were very very persistent.) — He expected the quiet but pleasant raven-head who seemed to be a permanent fix at Yajima-san’s during Friday after school— Gray, as the name tag always said— but this time Jellal found a pink-haired grinning young man munching on one of the yummy cupcakes he was supposed to be selling, and a blonde girl doing homework on the counter.

Lucy looked up and greeted the three cheerfully: “Welcome to Yajima Pastries, Cakes and Sweets! Jellal-kun, how nice to see you here!” — smart smart Lucy, she had already figured out exactly what the young man was in the place for.

Natsu looked up and blinked, still chewing on a cupcake. He simply watched contentedly, very happy with his snack.

“Natsu-san.” Jellal greeted him. Natsu gave a peace sign but was enjoying the cupcake too much to give a damn. Jellal then turned to the blonde by the counter. ‘Lucy-san.’ he smiled. He had only met her a couple of times whenever he visited Erza and Lucy happened to be around, and that one time they had dinner with the Dragneels, but Lucy had a very friendly demeanor that he found it easy, evenwith his introverted personality, to approach her. “I didn’t know you worked here.”

“Nah, it’s a one-time thing! A favor for a friend.” Lucy said.

On either side of him, Jellal heard whispers:

“Ultear, look at her uniform, she’s from Fairy!”

“Could she be the girl?”

“Let’s ask her!”

Jellal quickly tried to stop them “HEY—”, but the girls already let go of him and were running towards the counter. Jellal just sighed and let them be. Erza had mentioned that Lucy was one of Fairy’s brightest students and one of her closest friends so he inwardly trusted the blonde not to give anything too important away.

“Oi, tattoo-face! You buying anything?” Natsu said, finally putting down his cupcake.

Jellal ignored the nickname and simply said, “A strawberry cheesecake, please. Solo size, for take-out.”

In the background, Jellal heard his peaceful life slowly crumbling because of the questions the girls were asking the shop’s temporary cashier.

“Hi, we’re Jellal’s classmates! How do you know Jelly? Is he your boyfriend?”

“Uh, no! He’s—”

“Are you the one he buys the cakes for?”

“—no, he’s just a friend of a friend! I—”

“You study in Fairy High, what class?”

“—I just know him because he’s one of my best friends’ old friends!” — ‘Accurate!’ Jellal thought. Lucy had just earned a hundred respect points from him.

But then there was a chorus of “What’s your best friend’s name?!”

Lucy simply laughed good-naturedly. “I’m not sure he wants you two to know…” — By then it was settled. Jellal would trust Lucy with his life.

Jellal for a while felt safe.

That is, until Natsu, intent on being a responsible employee for that one day, crouched down to look at the cakes on display to scrutinize them. The pink-head then looked up at Jellal. “Oh hey, you’re the twin from Sorciere, so you’re Erza’s cake guy! You really do give Erza cake every week, huh? I thought the girls were just kiddin’—”

Jellal and Lucy both watched in horror as Meredy and Ultear looked at Natsu and then hurried towards him. Both girls leaned on the display and started peppering him with questions.

“SALAMANDER!” Ultear started by shouting the pink-head’s nickname. “Do you remember me?”

Natsu looked at the raven-head for five seconds and then said, “Yeah! You’re Gray’s cousin. Your name is… err, Gray’s cousin.”

“Ultear. My name is Ultear.” the young woman sighed, then simply said, “We have an important question—”

“Who is this person that Jelly’s buying cakes for?” Meredy asked, straight to the point.

“Erza?” Natsu blinked stupidly. “Why, are you coming back for her ’cause she kicked your ass? Don’t try. I’d help her if she needed it but she kicks my ass too.”

Meredy smiled charmingly. “No, there won’t be any kicking! What’s she like? Is she pretty? Does Jelly have a chance?”

“Chance at what?” Natsu asked, still being as dense as ever.

Lucy practically saw ‘this-is-a-trainwreck’ in Jellal’s expression and because she loved her friend Erza, she decided to save this potential boyfriend. The blonde called out a high and sugary “Natsu?” that made the pink-haired guy look at her in alarm. He knew that tone. Natsu practically froze as Lucy smiled at him in fake sweetness. “Start wrapping the cake?”

“Yes, ma’am!”

“Whipped.” Ultear mumbled under her breath. ‘Hey, Salamander!’ the raven-head stood on tiptoe to lean against the display and call out to the part-timer. “I’ll give you a dirty secret of Gray’s so tell me! Who’s this girl Jelly’s bringing cake to?!”

Natsu whirled around and answered automatically with the straightest face Lucy had ever seen, “Tattoo-face the Brave is gonna marry Erza Scarlet.”

He was about to ask for Gray’s secret but Lucy had grabbed him by the collar and strangled him, while the other two ladies turned viciously to Jellal.

“YOUR ERZA IS FAIRY HIGH’S TITANIA?!” — Meredy and Ultear both turned to Jellal, aghast, making the poor young man take a step back.

“Marry her?! You’re gonna marry her?!” Meredy followed up, clinging to his sleeve again.

Ultear then took him by the collar and asked, “She’s your fiancée?!”

Jellal inwardly blamed Erza for being so famous.

Natsu turned to Lucy to whisper, “What’s up with these chicks, I thought he and Erza—”

“This is your fault, this is your fault, this is your fauuuuult~” Lucy mumbled, shaking her best friend back and forth.

“But she was going to tell me Gray’s secret…” Natsu whined.

The blonde withdrew from him and sighed, rubbing her temples. “Just wrap up the cake. I’ll do some damage control.”

“Yeah, whatever. He’s still a brave guy, though.” Natsu said, glancing at their arguing customers for a while before crouching down to take the strawberry cake from the display.

Just then, Yajima-san came out from the back room, yawning. He had just woken up from his afternoon nap. “Natsu-kun? Why is it so noisy?”

“Lucy’s taking care of it, Yaji-jii. No need to worry.” Natsu answered simply, focusing on how to wrap the bow on the cake box. The old man sighed — really, even if he always found Gray already naked, only wearing the shop’s uniform apron, the raven-head was still his best employee. He knew that Natsu and this new girl Lucy were good kids, but the two of them combined were still no match for Gray’s expertise in his shop. Yajima-san looked on as Lucy caught the two girls’ attentions.

“Meredy-san, Ultear-san, let’s refrain from causing a ruckus in the shop, please!”

Meredy kept on bugging Jellal but Ultear turned towards the blonde. “In speaking of Erza Scarlet… Lucy… I’ve heard a Lucy before-…” Ultear thought hard, then looked at the temporary part-timer. “Lucy Heartfilia! That’s why you look so familiar! Head cheerleader of FairyGaku and heiress of the Heartfilia Konzern-… Yes, and you’ve left quite a trail of broken hearts from Sorciere!”

“Excuse me?” Lucy blinked, trying to understand what the young woman was saying.

“She leaves a trail of broken hearts everywhere because she’s so pretty. Don’t take it personally.” Natsu interrupted shortly, then turned back to his work just as quickly. He was busy rummaging for stuff in the counter. “WHERE THE HELL DO YOU PUT THE SCISSORS, YAJI-JII?!”

Lucy looked at Natsu but quickly shook her head and turned back to Ultear. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“You’ve dumped hundreds via Facebook.”

“What? No-… Wait. THOSE WERE SERIOUS?! I thought they were spam!”

“Erza Scarlet has dumped thousands, though.”

Lucy paused. “Umm, okay…?”

“But nevermind. We know The Titania because she is a national martial arts champion, a top student and one of Magnolia’s and even Fiore’s most outstanding high school students. You are one of those most outstanding students as well, Lucy-san, but I am more outstanding than you.”

Lucy simply furrowed her brows. “Um—”

“I just can’t beat Erza Scarlet’s mock exam scores!” Ultear cringed, then quickly hid it as she flipped her hair above her shoulder. Gone was the curious and friendly girl from a while ago. Ultear meant business. “There’s also our Kagura and that Minerva from Sabertooth — and I aim to beat them all in the Fiore U. entrance exams-… Then Jelly came and he’s also a scholar. There is so much competition—”

Lucy shot Jellal a look — ‘What kind of friends do you have?’

Jellal looked back at her hopelessly. ’Just please help me out here. I’ll do anything…’

“Also, I’m Gray’s cousin and I think I’ve seen you from some photos at his place.” Ultear finished. She was about to say something else when she noticed Natsu staring. “What?”

“You owe me a secret.”

“You’ll get one when I get one.”

Natsu pouted. “Liar. You used to wanna be a fortune teller, I remember.” Before the ladies could say more, he let out a high-pitched, “Gray-chan! One day I’ll be a famous fortune-teller, just you see~!”

Ultear blushed and then quickly changed the topic. “S-S-Shut up about that! Alright, I have a secret of Gray’s, and I’ll text you later! Enough about other people!” — She then turned back to Lucy. “Heartfilia-san!”

“YES?!” Lucy says, stepping back. Meredy and Jellal stopped arguing and turned to them.

“Is Erza Scarlet… Jellal’s fiancée?” Ultear asked, face serious.

“Why are you so curious?” Lucy asked, her expression cautious. Ultear could be a love rival and Lucy was definitely on Team Erza!

Ultear huffed. “Because if she is, I’ll torture dear Jelly until he tells me her secret studying regimen and I’ll finally be at the top!”

“Haha, you’re funny after all!” Natsu chortled, but stopped when Lucy shushed him. He finally finished wrapping up the cake and placed the box on top of the counter.

“Alright, Ultear-san…” Lucy sighed. “Because Jellal-san is far too kind to interrupt you and Meredy-san as you question him about his love life…”

“Yes, do continue.” Meredy said, listening intently.

Lucy glanced at Jellal, who was practically begging for her to please not embarrass him or he’d never hear the end of it. “Erza and Jellal-san were childhood friends. Jellal-san left Magnolia, but now he’s back. It’s really a good thing to know someone when you’re new in a city, right?”

“Right.” the other girls nodded. Jellal and Natsu both listened silently.

“Now, they’ve been really close as children and it’s very nice to catch up to each other after years. Erza even helps him make new friends…”

They simply stared at her.

“Erza is a very busy person, but she makes time to talk to Jellal-san whenever he visits her in the afternoons to hang out. Jellal-san simply thinks it’s very nice of her to give him some time despite her schedule, that’s why he brings her treats to thank her.”

Jellal then thought that Lucy was truly heaven-sent.

Meredy and Ultear both turned to Jellal and smiled wickedly.

“Give Erza-chan my regards, young man.” Yajima-san chuckled and went back to the back room.

But it was Natsu who sniggered: “You lllliiiiike her!”

“I DON’T—” Jellal stopped midway and caught himself. He was in front of Erza’s best friends… “I don’t NOT like her, I… I just missed her. She’s a good friend!”

“And more?” Meredy asked impishly.

Jellal simply took the box of strawberry cake from the counter and placed some bills in its place. “‘More’ will be nice. She’s a brilliant girl, but I don’t think she’s interested. We’re both working hard on our studies.”

“Ooooohhhh…” Meredy and Ultear chorused, and Jellal glared at them. Lucy simply smiled and headed to the register.

“You guys wrapped it.” Jellal said, noticing the fancy packaging of the cake box. Gray never packed it this way…

“It’s on the house.” Natsu grinned, proud of his handiwork. It wasn’t the best, but he wanted to boast to Gray about being better. “And Erza likes that kinda stuff. Don’t let her tough act fool you.”

Lucy grinned and handed over some coins as change. “Thank you for buying at Yajima-san’s!”

“Thank you for everything, Lucy-san.” Jellal says in relief, his gratefulness very visible. He also nodded at Natsu. “Natsu-san.”

Lucy gave him a mock salute and Natsu gave him a thumbs up. They watched the trio exit the bakery, the girls still bugging Jellal about him and Erza.

“Say,” Natsu started, draping an arm around Lucy’s shoulders and leaning his head against hers. Lucy hummed as she flipped open her abandoned notebook from the cashier and continued her homework. “The guy doesn’t know that when he’s not around, Erza drops her panties at the mention of his name, huh?”

His face then met Lucy’s notebook and the blonde squirmed out of his grasp. “Ugh, I hate you…”

“Oh, c’mon, Luigi!”

Natsu spent the next few minutes trying to get Lucy to say that she still loved him.

A few blocks down the street, Jellal made a show of being interested in baby bunnies so he entered the pet shop, with Meredy and Ultear still on his trail. When the girls each held up a baby bunny and started cooing at it, Jellal promptly went ninja and silently dashed out the shop.He hadn’t been the star of his former school’s track team for nothing.

He reached Fairy High with the nicely-wrapped cake and with no additional baggage. Jellal knew, though, that he couldn’t use the baby bunny trick again. Maybe next time he would step inside a shop of pretty dresses instead.

When he knocked on the door of the Student Council office, an unfamiliar male voice answered, “Come in.” It was usually Erza who did that.When he entered the room, he found a blonde-haired man slumped on Erza’s chair. The man was wearing a fur coat, leather pants and combat boots, a pair of headphones still blasting loud music draped around his neck. He was smoking a cigarette. His feet were propped up the table.

‘A delinquent student?’ Jellal first thought.

“You don’t go here. Who’re you?” the blonde asked gruffly. Jellal noticed the scar across one of his eyes. He was flipping through one of Erza’s textbooks.

“Um, I’m a friend of Erza’s.” Jellal said, unsure of what to do. Where was Erza, anyway? She was always present when he visited…

Jellal saw the man eye the fancy box of cake. “Huh. The girl’s actually got a suitor.”

“No, I-… I’m just—”

“Someone’s actually brave enough.” the man chuckled, then looked back down on the textbook he’d been browsing. “You gonna stand there all day?”

“Oh… Um, no. Sorry for intruding…” the blue-haired young man stepped inside and sat uncomfortably on the couch. “May I ask where Erza is?”

“At the clinic.”

Jellal’s eyes widened in concern. “Is she all right?”

Laxus chuckled. “Are you for real?”


“You should see the other guy. As usual, she had to take him there herself because apparently she has principles.”


“Look, suitor. Two guys fightin’, Er tries to stop ’em, they won’t listen, she beats ’em both up to make them learn their lesson, and then takes ’em to the clinic because she’s responsible Miss President. Got it?”

“She got into a fight? Is she—”

“She’s alright. Not a scratch, maybe a broken nail, I dunno. Girl’s stronger than a hundred monsters. I’m her brother, I’d know.”

Jellal stopped.

Erza had a—

Wasn’t she an orphan—

Then he recalled one of their previous conversations: ’Everyone else was getting adopted and there was a plan to close down the orphanage and transfer the remaining kids somewhere else. Principal Makarov then took me in his family — we got quite close, you know, because he taught me kendo and karate even before he adopted me. He still let me use my last name, too. Technically, Laxus is my nephew since it was his grandpa who adopted me, but Master Makarov told me to call Laxus my big brother…’

“You must be Laxus-san.” Jellal finally said.

“Yeah.” the guy nodded, blowing a puff of smoke from his cigarette.

And then, just in time, Erza entered the room. “Laxus, feet off my table!” Her usually perfectly straight red hair was in disarray, her glasses were gone, and she was wearing her disheveled Fairy High blouse and skirt without the blazer.

Jellal looked away to hide his nosebleed.

Laxus replied, “You look like a delinquent.”

“I was busy! I was-… J-Jellal?” Erza asked. Jellal turned to her (hopefully his blush was gone) and smiled sheepishly. Erza ran a hand through her unusually messy hair and bit her lip. “Oh, it’s Friday.”

“It’s okay. I’m willing to wait.” Jellal said kindly, ignoring Laxus’ whistle.

“You’ve met Laxus.” Erza said, trying to straighten out her uniform. She tapped Laxus’ knee and the blonde huffed and finally withdrew his feet from the table. “My brother.”

“Or so the old man says.” Laxus mumbled.

“He’s Principal Makarov’s grandson.” Erza introduced further.

Laxus, a good four years older than her, wasn’t the best brother material but he and Erza shared a mutual relationship of respect. They were not really competitive but they were both achievers, although Erza was more of a hard worker and Laxus was more of a natural prodigy. “Laxus, he’s Jellal. He studies in Sorciere. He’s a scholar.”

“Leave it for Erza to score a smart guy.”

Erza ignored the implication. “Why are you here?”

Laxus put down the textbook and looked at her. “How’s grandpa?”

Erza’s expression then softened. “Why don’t you see for yourself?”

“His office’s locked up. Door says there’s a meeting on-going. Would I even stop by to hang in here if I could just barge in there?” Laxus said, blowing out a puff of smoke. He frowned when Erza grabbed his cigarette and threw it in the nearby trash can.

“Off my chair.” Erza ordered.

“Old maid.” Laxus grumbled but he complied anyway, throwing himself down on the couch beside Jellal.

“When are you coming home, Laxus?” Erza questioned, and Jellal watched as she put her red-rimmed glasses back on. She took out the tea set that the two of them always used when they ate cake together. Methodically, Erza started preparing tea.

Laxus simply answered, “I dunno. When he stops being mad at me.”

“He’s not mad at you, not when he’s letting you in his office to give you your college budget.”

“He kicked me out.”

“How’s Freed?”

“Freed’s fine.”

“I bet he told you to make peace with Master.”

“He tells me I can stay with him as long as I like, though I’ve been freeloading Bix this time. Stop blaming my band.”

Erza raised an eyebrow. “I’m not blaming your band; I’m really just asking how Freed is doing.”

“Freed’s all right, they’re all all right. But if grandpa doesn’t stop his mad streak, Freed, Ever and Bix are gonna get tired of taking turns with letting me crash at their places. Ever has a boyfriend. It gets awkward, even if it’s just Elfman.”

The red-head rolled her eyes and then looked at her foster brother straight in the eye. “You said that last time, too. Just say you’re sorry and Master will stop pretending he’s angry whenever you come over for money. He feels very glad whenever he sees that you’re okay. Believe me.”

“Easy for you to say, Miss Perfect.”

“Laxus.” Erza stated firmly. Jellal felt uncomfortable watching them. Laxus stared back at her with twice the courage. “Your grandpa has forgiven you, he’s just waiting for you to forgive yourself. Just come home and apologize. Stop just dropping by and getting money and then leaving again, being rude because you’re telling yourself that your grandpa hates you.”

The older ‘sibling’ frowned and looked away, then moved to stand up.

“Where are you going?” Erza asked.

“I’m not gonna sit here while you and your boyfriend have tea and cake.” Laxus huffed. “I’ll just hang out somewhere to wait for the goddamned meeting to end. Where are Natsu and Gray? I wanna bully people.”

“Gray’s probably out working. Natsu left early.” Erza said.

“You can join us, we don’t mind.” Jellal hastily offered, thinking it was impolite to drive the guy away. Especially when he was Erza’s family…

“Shit, I don’t want to watch you two making goo-goo eyes at each other while drinking tea.” and Laxus smirked when the two blushed together. “Don’t do anything too naughty.”



But the man was out the door.

Awkward silence resumed when the two were left alone. Jellal turned to see Erza tuck a strand of her hair behind her ear as she focused too hard on making the tea. “I’m sorry you had to see that.”

“I don’t mind. Not at all.” Jellal said, starting to open the box of cake.

Erza noticed the fancy wrapper and raised an eyebrow. “That’s from Yajima-san’s, right?”

“Yeah. Why?”

“Did Gray wrap that up?”

Jellal chuckled. “No, it was Lucy-san and Natsu-san in the shop.”

‘Lucyyyy!’ Erza inwardly screeched. ‘Why were you there in the first place?!’ Outside, she simply chuckled as if she found it amusing. “Oh?”

“They had too much fun on it, I think.”

“I didn’t know Lucy worked in there now. I thought Fridays are Gray’s shift.”

“They said it’s a one-time thing.”

Erza shrugged off the randomness. She would just ask Lucy about it next time she saw the blonde. She lifted up the tray of tea and then set it before her guest on the table. They started to talk then.

It was all about academics and cram schools and mock exams at first, but then it switched to Jellal talking about his school life in Sorciere — he told her about the competitiveness and then his duties in the Student Council, which Erza was able to relate to. Erza listened because the week prior, she was the one who told him all about Fairy High. Jellal mentioned Meredy and Ultear being curious about Erza, too.

“Ultear, as in the 2nd top scorer in the mocks?”

Jellal took a sip from his tea and then answered, “Yes, the only. She’s a really nice person… if she likes you.”

Erza chuckled. “And what happened then?”

“As I said earlier, Lucy-san and Natsu-san were at Yajima-san’s. You have to thank them. Beside the nicely-wrapped cake box, I think Lucy-san managed to save me from eternal torment. She’s a life-saver.”

“Why, what did Lucy say?” Erza asked before biting into a slice of cake.

“She managed to convince them that we’re not dating.” Jellal smiled softly at his tea as Erza sighed in relief, then he lifted his head to look at his companion. “Why did Natsu-san say we were getting married?”

Erza almost spit out her cake. “NATSU SAID WHAT?”

“He said we’re getting married.”

“Alright.” Erza struggled to clear her throat. “NEVER listen to Natsu.”

“I’ve learned that. Thankfully, Lucy-san managed to correct him.”

Erza leaned back against the couch and sighed, then took another slice of cake.

Jellal looked at her. She had tied her hair up in a ponytail and had put on her glasses, although she didn’t bother with her blazer anymore. Her blouse and skirt were rumpled. “Tired?” Jellal asked.

“It’s been a long day, yes.” Erza said softly, then leaned forward to take her teacup. They both instantly notice that the cup was empty. Before Erza could move, Jellal took the tea pot and poured her some tea. “Thanks.”

“Anytime.” Jellal said. “You really are tired, are you?”

“How did you know?”

“You’ve been eating the cake twice as fast.”

Erza blushed. “NO! I’m… um, I just… this one’s really good?” she finished tentatively, shyly.

Jellal laughed.

Erza tried to redeem herself. “I need energy! I still have homework to do and tomorrow I plan on studying the whole day and then maybe train on my kendo a little…”

“Tomorrow’s Saturday.” Jellal frowned then. “You’ve been slumped all week, can’t you take the weekends off?” Even HE didn’t study on weekend days — he reserved those little bits on weekend nights and even then he took it easy…

“Well, other than that stuff, I don’t have anything else to do.” Erza shrugged, then she started thinking hard. “Maybe I can clean up the house…”

“Don’t you want to hang out with your friends?”

There were plenty of them, Jellal knew. He had met Lucy, Natsu and Gray… He also heard about Gray’s sweet girlfriend Juvia, and the book-lover Levy-chan.

Erza smiled sheepishly. “To be honest, I’m not used to hanging out with them anymore. You know, movies, games, shopping, group dates, parties… I’m not really into all that stuff.”

“But they do invite you, right?”

“Yeah, I guess—”

“They want you to come, then. Won’t you at least enjoy the company?”

Erza blinked at him. “Are you trying to get me to go?”

Jellal looked away, not sure what to say. “Well, I… you seemed stressed and tired. I’ve been there. Studied too much, getting cranky and antisocial… You should learn to loosen up once in a while…”

On that, Erza couldn’t argue. She simply looked down and poked lifelessly at her cake slice. “But they’re… they’re all starting to come in pairs now…”

“Come in pairs?”

“You know, the last time I went out with them, Gray and Juvia didn’t let go of each other, Natsu was so busy rough-housing with Lucy, even Levy had Jet and Droy to worry about because they kept on fighting over her… and I was left alone. I was okay when Cana was there, but then she split up with us to go somewhere.”

“You mean, you feel out of place because it’s been so long since you really hung out with them and now it’s hard to relate to them?”

“Exactly.” Erza sighed. “It’s okay if we go at The Strauss’. At least in there I can talk to Mira, but even Mira has customers to attend to.”

“Why not invite someone to be your… uh,” Jellal thought about it for a while. “…your buddy?”

Thinking hard, Erza pouted. “Who?”

Jellal stopped himself from saying ‘Me’ because it seemed too soon, hanging out with her friends. They seemed like a crazy bunch.

Erza was still thinking. “Levy said she wanted to go see a movie tomorrow and the usual bunch is in… Maybe I could go with them, but with who…?”

“You should go.” Jellal said, sipping his own tea.

“That’s it.” Erza said, looking at Jellal and smiling. “I’ll go!”

Jellal smiled back. “Yeah?”

“But only if you go with me.”

Okay. Jellal definitely didn’t expect that one. “M-Me?”

“You should meet them all. You’ll love them!” Erza said with a wider smile this time. She then flipped her phone on and started pressing keys. “I’m texting Levy now… You love books, right? You should really talk to her. She told me Mysto frequents the library too and they’ve talked a lot… It’s not just Levy, though. Lucy likes all sorts of books too! You were a member of the track team, right? Natsu used to run. He’s really good but he’s such a delinquent that the coach kicked him out…”

With the way Erza was talking about them as if they were her wonderful children, Jellal only swallowed and asked himself why he came up with the idea in the first place. It felt like she was introducing him to the whole family and it was kind of early for that. He couldn’t help but think so.

But he looked at her as she excitedly texted her friends and, with the way she was so excited while she was not in her perfect student get-up, he clearly saw the ordinary girl in her. He kind of liked that girl better — when she was simpler, when she was smiling freely and was looking forward to everything…

It reminded him of the Erza he knew as a little boy: she was upright and out of place but was happy to have her friends with her. Meeting all sorts of people today told Jellal a lot about Erza. She had friends who knew her — Natsu wrapped that cake up for her, Lucy tried her best to stand up for her. Yajima-san was there, too. Obviously fond of Erza. Then, she had a parent-figure who kept her grounded and a family with problems… but at least there was a family. He thought they’d been talking a lot in the past few weeks but there was still so much to learn about her.

Seeing his wistful, hesitant expression, Erza suddenly realized that she hasn’t heard him say ‘yes’ yet. “Jellal? Is it really okay? Will you come tomorrow?”

Jellal turned to her and shrugged. “Well, if I won’t be intruding on you guys, I’d love to.”

“Great! I swear, they’re all crazy at first but you’ll love them.”

Jellal simply grinned. “Alright. Where do we meet?”

Erza’s face lit up and Jellal couldn’t be bothered with regretting anything anymore.

To be sure, Jellal went to the meeting place, the Mermaid fountain in the town square, fifteen minutes early. It was in his personality to be efficient, responsible and prompt.Erza was already there, though, sitting alone on a bench near the fountain. She was wearing a plain black turtleneck top, a short white skirt, and brown boots. Her hair was in a ponytail and she didn’t have her glasses on. She was fiddling with her skirt.

“Hey.” Jellal called. “Did you wait long?”

“N-No, I’ve just arrived.” Erza said nervously, then looked down again. “They’re not here yet.”

“We’re just early.” Jellal assured her, sitting beside her and staring at the fountain to avoid staring at the girl for too long. He had only ever seen her in her school uniform. She looked even prettier on her ordinary clothes…

“I haven’t watched a movie with them for so long.” Erza bit her lip. “I’m not even up to date with movies in general.”

Jellal smiled knowingly. He had been there, not knowing what his friends were in to. “I’m sure they’ll pick something everyone agrees on.”

“I hope so.” Erza nodded. “When was the last time you went out?”

“Just a few weeks ago.” Jellal didn’t even have to think. “Mysto and I took Wendy tout to eat because it was her birthday.”

“How old is your sister again?”

“She just turned fourteen. Maybe I’ll take her to see you one of these days. She really wants to meet you.”

For some reason, Erza blushed and stammered her answer out. “M-M-Meet me? I-.. I’d be glad to meet her, yes but… but she might… not like me…”

“No way, Wendy already calls you ‘Erza-nee-chan’. Blame Mysto for that..”

In truth, Erza thought it was a big leap. Knowing Mysto was one thing — they were the same age — but for some reason Erza thought that meeting Wendy, or even Jellal’s parents, was a very… ‘more-than-friends’ thing to do. She was a very traditional girl, and with Jellal’s little sister calling Erza her big sister, didn’t that mean..?

“Erza! Jellal-kun!” Lucy interrupted Erza’s train of thought as the blonde walked towards them. Jellal saw Erza look in panic down at her outfit when the red-head took note of Lucy’s pink jacket, star-patterned tank top, short jean shorts and high heels. He inwardly chuckled — Erza was that worried, huh?

“L-L-Lucy, am I underdressed?!” Erza immediately asked, standing up and shaking the blonde by the shoulder. “I haven’t shopped for new clothes in forever, I must look like a grandma!”

Lucy blinked and then patted her friend’s arm. “No, Erza! You’re perfect! Isn’t she, Jellal-kun?”

Jellal thought that it was a trap but he fell into it willingly anyway because he had been dying to say it. “Uh, y-yeah. Erza, you look beautiful.”

It made him think about lots of things when he saw Erza blush as red as her hair and look down at the ground, mumbling a shy “You’re just saying that…”

“Have you two been here long?” Lucy turned to Jellal to ask.

“Not really.”

“Wow, look what we’ve got here…” Lucy whispered, catching both her companions’ attentions as she looked at the duo of newcomers.

“Gajeel came?” Erza blinked.

“Sorry for the wait!” Juvia called out pleasantly. She was clinging to Gajeel’s arm but it looked more like she was dragging him towards the crowd. “Good morning, everyone! Gajeel-kun, greet them!”

“Morning.” Gajeel grumbled.

“You must be Jellal-kun!” Juvia said, delighted. She held out a hand. “Juvia is Erza’s friend and Gray-sama’s girlfriend!”

“Nice to meet you.” Jellal said, shaking the girl’s hand. She sounded so sweet he couldn’t help but smile.

“Gajeel-kun, introduce yourself!” Juvia turned to her flatmate.

“Gajeel.” the guy said grumpily. “I’m her flatmate.”

“I’m Jellal. It’s nice to meet you too.” Jellal said tentatively. The young man looked gruff, with all the piercings in his face and in his ears, the long untamed black hair and the all-black get-up…

“Gajeel-kun is a nice guy, he’s just grumpy.” Juvia assured their newest addition. Jellal nodded at her.

“Guys!” Levy came skipping towards them. It was a chorus of ‘hey’s and ’Levy!’ from the crowd. ‘Jet and Droy had computer club stuff, so I’m alone. Hehe..’ She first took notice of Gajeel’s hulking form and she stopped to blink up at him. “Gajeel, I didn’t know you were coming!” she said with a cheerful smile.

“Hi.” Gajeel said, then put his hands back in his pocket.

Levy then looked at her friends. “Ah! Juvia, your dress is soooo nice!”

“Juvia thanks Levy-chan!” Juvia said happily, distracted as Lucy complimented her too.

“Jellal-kun! I’m Levy McGarden. Erza’s been telling us about you!” the girl took initiative and grabbed Jellal’s hand, shaking it enthusiastically. “She’s right, you’re very handsome!”

“Stop flirting.” Gajeel remarked grudgingly.

“I’m not!” Levy pouted at himsmiling at Jellal again before letting go of his hand and standing back. Jellal saw Erza look at them in amusement.

“OH DEAR LORD OF BEER!” they all turned to see Cana dashing towards them, Gray walking after her. ‘ERZA, I’M SO PROUD OF YOU!’ the brunette hugged The Titania and squealed. “You finally brought a boyfriend and he looks like a good person!” Erza simply stood dumbly as Cana withdrew from her and then hugged Jellal too. The blue-haired young man was too shocked to respond. “Erza’s boyfriend! Mm, smells so nice!”

“Sorry, she’s drunk.” Gray said, signaling Lucy to help him with their friend. He and Lucy proceeded to pull Cana away from Jellal. Cana then saw Levy and said ‘Awww, Levy!’ before glomping on the smaller girl instead. Levy simply mouthed ‘WHAT?’ at Gray. The raven-head sighed. “She was drunk last night and had a hangover this morning, which she thought would go away with more beer, so she’s drunk again.”

“Ah..” Jellal laughed nervously. “Alright.”

“Her name’s Cana.” Gray says curtly. “I’m Gray. Nice to meet you, man. I didn’t know that the cakes you bought were for Erza.”

“Jellal.” the blue-head said, nodding. “Well, I didn’t know that you two were friends.” He turned to see Erza watching them with a small smile.

“You like them yet?” Erza whispered beside him.

“I’ll survive.” Jellal said with a chuckle, watching as Gray stepped in beside Juvia and smiled when the girl clung to him.

Finally, they heard an excited call of “Luuuuuccccyyyyy!” as Natsu ran towards them with a big, intricate bouquet of flowers in his arms. Everyone gaped, except Jellal who didn’t know that it just WASN’T like Natsu to bring flowers.

“Natsu?” Lucy asked in shock when the guy held up the bouquet to her.

Natsu was grinning widely. “Flowers for you, Luce?”

“What the hell is happening.” Gray muttered. It wasn’t even a question.

They all watched Lucy blush and tentatively accept the flowers, still not believing that Natsu gave them to her. “I— uh.. T-Thank you, um, but… uh, did you buy these?”

Natsu laughed. “Haha! No way!”

Lucy paused. “What?”

“I was on the way here and this guy got dumped in the middle of the street and he threw away the flowers and ran away crying and I thought, hey flowers are expensive! So I picked them up and thought I’ll give ’em to you since you like flowers, right?”

Lucy hung down her head in dismay. Their friends simply sighed. “You shouldn’t have answered, Natsu…”

Natsu blinked. “Why?”

Lucy attempted a smile. “Nevermind. Thanks for the flowers. I love them.” She patted Natsu on the back when the guy gave her a huge bear hug because she was so kind.

“Waaaay to ruin the moment.” Gajeel said under his breath.

Gray muttered, “Even I know not to answer with that.”

“Still the sweetest thing he’s ever done, though.” Cana mumbled. She saw Gajeel and Gray discreetly hand Levy some bills. Ah, the bets!

Natsu looked at Jellal but didn’t let go of Lucy’s waist. “Hey, Tattoo-face who bought cake yesterday but is not marrying Erza! You hanging out with us?”

Jellal couldn’t help but chuckle. “Yeah, I guess.”

Natsu whistled. “Ohhhh, but don’t make her mad or she’ll transform into a girl knight and slice yo—” he only stopped because Lucy shushed him again.

Levy clapped her hands together and ignored Cana still struggling to stand straight behind her. “Alright, everyone’s here! Let’s get going, guys!”

Jellal watched along with Erza as the group started walking towards the movie house. Juvia was clinging to Gray and was talking to him about something. Gray was listening to her with a weirded-out expression on his face. Gajeel was trudging after them just behind Juvia. Lucy and Levy were talking about the bouquet as they walked together. Natsu was laughing at something Cana was saying while she was walking beside him with an arm draped around his neck.

Erza took a tentative step to catch up with them and looked at Jellal as he followed her before looking forward again, as if making sure he was still with her. Everyone else was talking, even Gajeel was pulled in by Cana to listen to her story and was arguing with Natsu.

Erza tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, looking down and feeling out of place because they were all talking about the flowers or a movie or something about the swimming club that Erza could barely catch on. She didn’t know who to approach first.

She liked watching them all be happy together but sometimes it got lonely—

Before she could fiddle with the hem of her skirt again, Jellal took her hand and walked beside her. Erza stopped and looked at him with wide eyes and a tinge of red on her cheeks. “Jel—”

Jellal tried his best to look back at her big dark eyes and asked sheepishly, “Do you mind?”

For the few weeks that they’d been catching up, Jellal knew that Erza tucking her hair behind her ear meant that the young woman was feeling nervous.

Erza shook her head and looked away. Despite her reluctant expression, though, she twined her fingers with his. They started walking again.

“Yeah, I know!” Lucy laughed in her conversation with Levy, then turned her head to look back. “Hey, Erza—” She stopped when she saw Erza rest her free hand comfortably on Jellal’s arm as the red-head looked up at Lucy to respond.

“Yes?” Erza said, an inquiring look on her face.

Lucy saw something in the red-head’s face that spelled relief and comfort and for the first time that day, Erza looked like she was perfectly happy with them. Lucy had been wondering why the Titania was so silent, but now that Erza and Jellal were starting to catch up with them, Lucy knew she had been worried about nothing. The blonde simply shook her head and smiled sheepishly at Erza. “What movie do you want to watch?”

Erza awkwardly answered, “Uh… I’m not up-to-date, what do you guys want to watch?”

Jellal shared a look with Lucy before Lucy turned to Levy and asked about their options. He then looked beside him and saw Erza perfectly comfortable holding on to him as Natsu turned to engage Erza in one of his silly jokes. He thought that once they started talking to her, she’d let go of him, but instead she pulled him with her inside their little invisible circle…

This was a new thing for Jellal, being in such a big crowd. What surprised him more, though, was they all talked and chattered as if he had been with them all along. It was almost as if they didn’t have a new member. Gray had turned to tell Jellal something about Yajima-san’s, and he said it so casually that Jellal felt like he had been with them for a long time.

They had a large circle of friends and Jellal could understand that with everything Erza was going through, it didn’t matter how many years he had been gone: she had a place for him but he shared that place with several people. He didn’t get special treatment just because he had been gone for a long time. He felt kind of uncomfortable with them, but they were all being very accommodating. Besides, he turned to his side and he saw Erza holding his hand and talking to her friends happily. She looked happier with more people like this, than when they were children and he was the only one she had.

Jellal was content then. He didn’t know why but for some reason he felt very light and… well, he felt good.

And Erza? Erza looked like she just took a breath of fresh air. For Jellal, she was best as just herself, not dressing up as anyone else, having communication problems because she was known as perfect and responsible.

She may be called the Titania but for Jellal, she looked most beautiful without the armor.

“Hey guys, since it’s been long since Erza went out with us, why don’t we watch the samurai movie?” Levy called out.

Erza gaped at them. “No, Levy! Don’t give me special treatment! Please choose what you guys like!”

“But I heard that one’s good.” Gray said, looking at Erza. “I wanna watch it.”

“Juvia wants what Gray-sama wants!” Juvia said, nodding fervently.

“Eh, I’m okay, as long as I get to have a break…” Cana shrugged.

“I’m in!” Natsu exclaimed, waving the bouquet that somehow ended up with him again.

The others said their agreement and Jellal simply looked as Erza watched them all fondly.

Magnolia was a new place for him, filled with new faces and new friends. Erza turned out to be new to him too, but she found it in herself to show him she was still the best friend he had when they were young. It looked like someone from the past was exactly what Erza needed to make the present better…

“I’m really really glad I have you back, you know.” Erza told him silently, even shyly, as the group resumed their chatter.

Jellal chuckled. “You never lost me.”

It took Erza aback but they heard a chorus of “Oooooohhhhhh…” from their companions and the alleged ‘couple’ looked up at them.

“Erza’s a girl after all!” Gray and Natsu teased, sniggering like they always used to do when they were in gradeschool.

A vein popped in Erza’s temple and she clenched her fist. “Why you two—”

They all watched as Natsu and Gray ran for their lives.

“So.” Cana said absently, turning to Juvia. “Would you bet on them?”

“Another bet, Cana-san?” Juvia looked at the brunette, unsure.

“Think of it, cupcake.” Cana said, laying a hand on the blunette’s shoulder. “A scholar from Sorciere and Fairy High’s Titania. Two schools! That will blow Natsu and Lucy out the water.”

“What are the stakes?” — both girls looked up to see Gajeel contemplating.

“CANA ALBERONA! You are NOT going to start ANYTHING!” Erza said threateningly, pointing her bamboo sword at the brunette. “YOU TOO, REDFOX!”

“Oh goddamn, where does she keep that thing?” Gajeel whispered, preparing himself for a run.

As Erza chased them all around, Natsu had grabbed Lucy to be his human shield, while for some reason, Levy and Juvia were running around as well. Gajeel took it upon himself to toss Cana over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes and run to save their lives.

When Jellal took out his phone and snapped the first picture, he had to run for his life too.

It was the best fun he had for a while.

Chapter Notes:

As for what happened for the rest of the trip, it shall be answered in the next chapter. I hope you guys liked my Jerza, I’m not very good with it. I just don’t think I should make it all fluff and rainbows because… let’s face it, Jellal and Erza in the canon are the farthest thing from fluff and rainbows so far.. D:

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