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 16
If I Die Young


..aka “Lisanna”

Chapter Notes:

Longer chapter. I apologize for the length, but hey — it’s a chapter for two characters so please forgive me?

So. I know the chapter title is “Lisanna”, but really it’s for Mira. It took too long because of work and feels and me being PICKY, but it’s finally done. This chapter is for both Mira and Lisanna. Complete with backstory and slight character analysis. There’s also Elfman, of course. Some Laxus. And finally, Natsu. I think, besides the Strauss siblings, this chapter finally establishes Natsu as a character. He’s been left mostly vague in the past chapters, but this time we finally get a peek on what’s going through his mind.

That’s about it, really. Just another chapter for his fic. Enjoy!

Warning: My two betas are both busy so I had to make do with my horrible editing skillz sooooo~ you’ll find the occasional error every now and then~ Please bear with it. Haha.

Track 16: If I Die Young
..aka “Lisanna”

“And maybe then you’ll hear the words I had been singing.
Funny when you’re dead how people start listening.”
— The Band Perry

It was a Sunday. Typically, Gajeel woke up around noon at Sundays. He and Juvia never woke up before 8 in the morning during these days.However, on this particular Sunday morning, Gajeel woke up with a start, hearing muffled cries and shrieks. The cries were unfamiliar. The shrieking, he recognized, was from a cat. He stood up and looked around for Lily. For some reason the room looked strange, but Gajeel brushed that off quickly when he spotted where the sound was coming from. The raven-head rushed towards the bedroom and found a very familiar person lying on the floor, being attacked by none other than his black pet cat.Gajeel blinked sleepily. “…Natsu?”

Natsu was trying to prevent himself from getting scratched while also trying to avoid hurting the feline. “Gajeel! Get your cat off me!”

The raven-head, being left by the adrenaline rush, groaned in defeat, trying to rub sleep off his eyes. “Lily, dude. Stop. I know he looks stupid but he’s not an enemy. I mean c’mon he’s got nothin’ against ’ya.”

The cat immediately stopped trying to scratch Natsu and quickly dashed to sit obediently behind his master.

Natsu sat up, rubbing his arms warily. “Enemy? What the hell d’you train your cat for? Close combat?”

“He’s a natural.”

The pink-head glared at the black cat. Lily merely turned away from him arrogantly.

“Yeah, and he’s got your attitude.” Natsu mumbled, then looked up at Gajeel, who had started yawning. “Why are you here?”

“I live here.”

“Since when do you live with Lucy?”

Gajeel paused.


That was why everything looked unfamiliar. “…Since last night. Fuck it, Salamander, it’s six in the fucking morning and it’s a SUNDAY. Why’s my cat attacking you?”

Natsu stood up, dusting off his shirt. “I dunno, I just jumped from the window, then he pounced on me!”

“Why don’t you just use the door like a normal person?” Gajeel grunted sleepily.

“Funny, Luce always says that-…” then he stopped, and both boys blinked. “Lucy.”

Lucy should have woken up by now and she should have shouted at them and tried to throw pillows at them.

Instantly, both young men turned to look at the bed, which was empty. Natsu looked at the wall clock — not long past six in the morning, so—

“Where’s Lucy?”

“I dunno, I just woke up.”

The two went out the bedroom, looked around the tiny apartment, and found the blonde slumped down in the dining table, sleeping with her head resting in her arms, a blue cat very conveniently snuggled against her neck.

Natsu swallowed. “Don’t tell me she slept there.”

“I dunno, she was still there last night writing when I slept on the couch.” his companion answered in a low voice, not wanting to wake the sleeping blonde up. Gajeel suddenly felt guilty. He had a comfortable time in Lucy’s couch while his hostess most probably fell asleep on the dining table. Sitting.

The pink-head sighed, scratching his head. “What the hell, Luigi?”

Gajeel simply watched as Natsu walked towards the dining table and peered at Lucy’s face. The blonde was still holding her pen. Carefully, Natsu nudged Happy awake. The cat slowly stirred and looked up at his master, mewing softly. Natsu whispered, “Happy. Wake up, buddy. We gotta go somewhere today, remember? Let’s put Luigi to bed, ’kay?” The cat carefully let the teen lift him up and put him down on the floor.

Natsu then carefully took the pen from Lucy and tried shaking her awake. “Lucyyyyy, you gotta sleep on the bed…” But the blonde unconsciously raised a hand and tried swatting him away. Natsu groaned. “Dammit, Luigi, you weirdo. Sleeping on the table.” The boy took his bag off and laid in on a nearby chair, then he leaned down, slowly took the girl’s arms, wrapped them around his neck and proceeded to lift her up bridal style. Lucy simply groaned sleepily but just snuggled closer to her best friend’s chest like a child.

Natsu mouthed ‘outta my way!’ to the raven-head still stupidly standing by the bedroom doorway.

Gajeel stepped aside and watched as Natsu tucked the blonde to the bed, Lucy still very much asleep but curling against the covers comfortably. Natsu watched her for a full five seconds and, content with his work, went back out from the bedroom and headed for the table. He took Lucy’s pencil case and used it as paperweight for the papers she had been writing on, careful not to rearrange anything.

“Why’re you here anyway?” Gajeel asked, still sleepy.

“Just came to pick Happy up.” Natsu said, then looked at the other guy. “Why’re you here too? Did Juvia finally kick ya out?”

“Nah, her mom’s coming back from France today, stayin’ for two weeks. M’not exactly a legal roommate so I’m with Bunnygirl for now.”

Natsu shrugged, looking at Gajeel’s bags hastily dumped beside the couch while he slung his own backpack over his shoulder. “Well, I gotta go now. Don’t let Lucy cook. I think Virgo’s comin’ over today, but if Lucy tries anything in the kitchen, just don’t let her. If you value your life.”

Gajeel simply nodded, slumping back down on the couch. “Got it. Bunnygirl’s a threat to my life. Noted.”

“See ya, dude. C’mon, Happy.” Natsu carried his cat and then headed for the bedroom again.

Gajeel looked at him, gaping. “Flamebrain, don’t ya know how to use the goddamned door?”

“Mind your own business, metalhead.” Natsu said, then saw that Lily had curled up into a ball by the foot of Lucy’s bed. He stuck a tongue out at the feline, who ignored him.

Then, Gajeel watched as Natsu looked at Lucy sleeping again, brushed stray strands of hair from her face, then leaned down and dropped a kiss on the girl’s forehead.

Before the Iron Dragon could say anything, Natsu turned to him and said, “Sssshhh!”, and then he was out the window.

Gajeel stared at the open window. “That was new.” He picked his phone up and dialed the first number he found.

It took several rings for the phone to be picked up.

[‘What the hell do you want Gajeel it’s six-thirty and it’s Sunday and it’s my day-off and I WAS SLEEPING goddammit’]

That woke Gajeel up.

“Frosty, why are you answering Juvia’s phone?”

Gray paused. He pulled the phone away from his ear and squinted at it. Light blue with a small teru-teru bozu charm and a raindrop-patterned strap. He turned towards the bedside table and saw his own phone lying there.Crap. They had the same ringtone because Juvia hasn’t customized her phone settings yet after buying the gadget the day before.Gray looked down at the girl snuggled against his chest, sleeping. He thought of an explanation for five full seconds — just a simple explanation, something he could supply to Gajeel…So he finally said, “Um…”

[‘Fuck, are you where I think you are?’]

A nervous chuckle. “…Yeah.”

[‘Dude, get dressed. Her mom’s coming today.’]

Gray squirmed slightly. It was hard to move when Juvia was half-lying on top of him, so he gave up and just decided to lower his voice so as not to wake his girlfriend up. “I know, man. But it’s still early and the plane arrives at noon anyways, and… I’m… kinda stuck here ’cause she’s sleeping… on me. So… yeah.”

Juvia was starting to wake up. Gray used his free hand to stroke her hair and she sighed, falling back to sleep.

[‘Fine. But get outta there before that.’]

“Yeah. I… uh, I got that covered. So why’re you callin’? Is Lucy already starving you to death? Or is she poisoning you?”

[‘Not yet. Listen. Uh. Salamander just kissed Bunnygirl.’]


At that, Juvia was stirred awake. Gray looked down at her and she looked back at him sleepily. “G-Gray-sama?”

Gray answered, “Gajeel said Natsu kissed Lucy.”

In an instant, Juvia had snatched her phone away and had practically shouted, “WHAT HAPPENED?!”

Gray silently prayed for Gajeel’s eardrums. He lied back on the bed while Juvia sat up and listened to what Gajeel was saying. He yawned and looked at his girlfriend’s back. In her pure white nightgown, it was easy to see her shoulders slump at what she heard.

“Awww, it’s just on the forehead?… But it was still so sweet of Natsu-san to do that!… Natsu-san is gone now? Where did he go?… Gajeel-kun, you woke Juvia and Gray-sama up just for this?… Still, it’s so early and Juvia was still sleeping!… Juvia knows that we should do our best to win the bets but Natsu-san has been doing that for a while now.… Eh, but Gajeel-kun, they’re not together yet! This doesn’t really change anything~… Huh?… What does Gajeel-kun mean? Lucky?… Gray-sama is lucky? What-?”

Gray narrowed his eyes. “What’s he talking about?”

The girl was still talking to her best friend, confused. “Juvia doesn’t get it. How did Gray-sama get lucky last night? What does Gajeel-kun mean—”

Gray snatched the phone back and shouted, “Gajeel, you freakin’ pervert! We slept! Literally just slept beside each other-… Stop telling her stupid stuff!”

Juvia stared at him, blinking. As Gray listened to the taunts on the other end of the conversation, he saw realization dawning on Juvia’s face. The young woman looked down shyly and brought her hands to her cheeks, trying to hide her blush.

Gray looked away to hide his own flustered face, “We didn’t do anything! And even if we did, it’s none of your business, stupid iron bastard! GO BACK TO SLEEP!”

He hung up, then looked at Juvia. “Uh… g-g-good morning.”

“G-G-Good morning, Gray-sama.” Juvia looked like she was about to explode. She tried to meet his eyes but quickly looked down and fumbled, trying to straighten her white dress and to fix her messy hair. “U-Uh… Juvia is… sorry for Gajeel-kun’s… for what Gajeel-kun said…”

“Don’t apologize, what is he, your pet?” Gray chuckled.

Juvia was still trying to get her long blue hair back in order. “J-Juvia looks really bad during m-m-mornings…”

“No you don’t.” Gray said, looking at her. He shouldn’t have. He found her unbearably cute and couldn’t resist reaching out to pinch her cheeks. “Your hair looks like some sorta sea creature.”


Gray let go of her cheeks and looked at the clock by the bedside table. He sighed. “Eh, since I’m awake already, I better go home.”

Juvia frowned. “So early?”

“Yeah, I can’t go back to sleep now, thanks to Gajeel.”

Juvia yawned sleepily. “But Gray-sama should at least have breakfast…”

“Nah, it’s too early. I’ll just eat at home.”

“Juvia is sorry she couldn’t make breakfast early—”

“It’s okay. Really. You just go back to sleep.” Gray stood up, looking down at himself and thanking the Gods for the miracle that was his boxers. He still had them on. Granted, he went to sleep with a shirt on but now it’s gone, the important part was that he wasn’t completely naked. It would have been really embarrassing.

When he looked back at the bed, Juvia was still sitting, fiddling with the hem of her dress.

Gray thought of something to say, only coming up with an awkward, “I… err… slept well last night.”

Juvia looked up at him, blushing. “J-J-Juvia s-s-slept well too!”

“Yeah, well… umm… Thanks. You keep sleeping. I’ll just… find my shirt… and my pants…”


Juvia lied back down on the bed and watched her boyfriend go around her room trying to find various articles of clothing.

Last night had been a first for both of them. Gray had an extended shift at Yajima-san’s but he promised her that they would finish a school project together, so he came over anyway. They finished the project and somehow ended up in Juvia’s room cuddling. Gray was dead tired and he asked if he could sleep over. He literally basically just slept over.

It was a good night, it felt very warm sleeping together and everything would have been perfect had Gajeel not woken them up with a false alarm and then later teasing them about ‘how far you’ve come gihihihi’.

Seriously, Gray hated that guy sometimes.

Juvia was half-asleep by the time Gray had finished putting his clothes on.

“Hey, I’m going home now.”

Juvia smiled and said her usual thoughtful “Take care, Gray-sama.”

“Thanks for letting me sleep over. I’ll see you later?”


He ruffled her hair before leaving. Gray walked home in silence, listening to music from his phone.

When he got home, the flat was silent. Gray peered at his empty room before finding Cana’s bedroom door ajar. He peered inside only to see his best friend still sleeping soundly.

Gray raised an eyebrow. Cana should be up by now. He decided to wake her up, walking towards the bed whilst carefully avoiding the little stuffed animals and beer cans scattered on the floor.

“Hey, dude. Wake up.”

“The hell?” Cana said, blinking up at him blearily. “Oh you’re back, you lucky shit.”

“I told you I just slept over.”

Cana rubbed her eyes and smirked. “Just slept over, my ass.”

“Literally just lied there and closed my eyes and slept.”


“Yeah, so get up.”


“You’re working the morning shift for Mira at Sundays, right?”

Cana stared at him blankly. “What.”


The brunette huffed and then rolled to her side, turning her back to him. “It’s closed today.”

Gray raised an eyebrow. “What?”

She repeated her answer in a sleepy mumble. “The bar’s closed today. It’s that day.”

Gray turned to look at the calendar.

“Go away, I’m sleeping.”

Gray grunted and scratched his head. Looking at the sleeping brunette’s back. Cana didn’t sound like she was drunk last night and surprisingly, even though there were beer cans on the floor, she didn’t really smell like alcohol.

The raven-head adjusted the blankets on the young woman before picking up several beer cans from the floor and then leaving his sleeping friend. He stood by the doorway for a while, looking around the flat. Cana’s school bag was dumped lazily on the couch. Several textbooks and reviewers were laid out on the table. The sink was empty.

Finally, as Gray threw the beer cans in the trash bin, he thought of cooking. The raven-head walked towards their fridge to get some eggs when he caught sight of a photo stuck on the fridge door. It was a new addition, he realized: a photo from a few months ago, when they all went to the movies together. The girls were smiling their stellar smiles and brandishing stuffed animals that they won from the arcade while in the back, Gray and Natsu were fighting, Jellal was looking at them hopelessly and Gajeel was scowling. Gray then skimmed the rest of the photos — Cana just stuck pictures on the fridge door whenever she wanted and Gray just finds the photos there… when he bothered to look.

There was an old photo from their primary school days — Cana, Gray, Natsu, Lisanna and Erza, all smiling as they sat with Laxus, a middle-schooler, on the front porch of the Dreyar house. They were all eating watermelons. It was a summer day.

Gray looked at the children’s happy faces for a while before turning his eyes on a more recent photo. It had the girls — Cana, Juvia, Lucy, Erza, Levy, Bisca and Laki, all huddled together and holding up peace signs as they smiled at the camera.

Gray breathed out deeply, taking his eyes off the photos and then finally opening the fridge.

It was time to start this day. It’s just like any other day, really — except he knows that The Strauss’ will be closed, even if it was a Sunday. Natsu will be gone all day, off to God knows where. Everyone else will be alright, mostly. It had been very hard on the first year, but they had moved on. Everyone knew what day it was, and they knew why there’s a nagging empty feeling that they feel once in a while.

It was the day that Lisanna died.

Mirajane woke up early by habit. That day, the bar would stay closed. Nevertheless, the silver-haired woman still got up, brushed her hair and then headed downstairs, towards the bar.Mira was surprised to find Kinana there, wiping the bar top. The girl was not wearing the bar’s uniform. Instead, she was wearing a simple green dress.“Kinana-chan?” Mira blinked. “We’re closed today. I sent a text to you and Cana last night. You didn’t get it?”“A-ah!” Kinana jumped at the sound of the voice, but quickly recovered. ‘I… I got it, actually. But… I guess it’s out of habit. I didn’t remember we’re supposed to be closed until I got here.’ the girl smiled sheepishly. “So… I went in through the backdoor, maybe I could just drop by, since coming here and then going home would be a waste, but… you were still sleeping, so… I thought of… cleaning… t-the bar top.”

Mira smiled at the girl who was trying very hard to explain the situation. Kinana was sweet and polite, and she was Mira’s best part-timer. “Oh, okay. I’m sorry, it’s just that Elf and I are going somewhere today, so we thought of closing shop this once.”

“It’s okay! I… um… what time are you guys leaving? May I… stay for a bit?” the girl asked timidly. “It’s just… I kinda don’t want to go home yet since I just got here and all, and the train station will be packed at this time of the day…”

“Of course! Oh, I know. Just come join me for breakfast.” Mira said, patting the girl on the shoulder as she headed to the kitchen.

“Ah, no, you don’t have to—”

“We’re not leaving until past noon, I think. Elf had to study with his classmates last night, so he’s coming in late today. He asked me to wait for him.” then, the barmaid smiled at the younger woman. “I’m lucky you came over! Otherwise, I’m spending the whole morning alone…”

Kinana smiled back and simply nodded.

“And stop cleaning up the bar!” Mira said, stern but sweet. Kinana looked at her gingerly, fiddling with the dishrag. “I’m not paying you.”

Kinana put the rag away and followed the woman to the kitchen.

Lucy paused when she saw Gajeel on her dining table, casually eating a cup of instant noodles and reading through her novel.Lily, who was on the floor and eating cat food from Happy’s bowl, looked up and mewled in greeting, causing his master to notice the blonde by the bedroom.“Yo. Mornin’.” Gajeel said.Lucy finally shrieked, startling her companions. “DON’T READ THAT!”

“But it’s kinda good—”


Gajeel quickly stood up and settled himself on another chair while Lucy hurriedly gathered her novel in a pile and tried to clean up her mess from last night. Gajeel watched her silently. They still weren’t used to each other so they didn’t talk as much, but they knew each other enough to be comfortable.

“Uh… you mad?”

“N-No, not really. It’s just… w-well, it’s not ready for other people—”

“I thought it was fine.”

“It isn’t. It’s messy and amateur and unedited-…” Lucy paused abruptly, looking at her new housemate with wide eyes. “How… how many pages have you read?”

“I dunno, about five?” Gajeel shrugged. “It wasn’t cheesy enough to drive me away so I kept reading.”

“…W-What do you think about it?”

“It’s fine.” Gajeel repeated. “Dunno why you hide it. But I’m not the best reader and I don’t even read much so I guess I can’t really say anything important.”

“N-No, um… thanks. For the compliment.” Lucy tried to smile. She finally noticed the raven-head’s breakfast and asked, “Where did you get that?”

“I brought it with me. Still had a few of ’em left at Juvia’s and she told me to just bring it ’cause I’m the only one who really eats ’em anyway.”

“Oh.” Lucy said. “I was just thinking I’d like some pancakes and maybe I could cook us some. Oh well, maybe I could cook just a few, for me. Or do you want some too, after you finish that?”

An alarm instantly went off inside Gajeel’s head. He quickly remembered Natsu’s warning — DON’T LET LUCY COOK — and he knew that if he didn’t heed to the warning, it would be at the cost of his life.

He quickly said, “No, don’t!”

Lucy blinked. She was already putting her apron on. “…Yes?”

Gajeel gulped. “Don’t cook.”

“What? But I’m hungry and—”

“Uh, I’ll cook.”

“Huh? But you’re eating—”

“I’m almost done. Pancakes, right? I can make some.”

“It’s fine, I’ll do it—”

“No, you just… take a shower and stuff. I’ll cook. Uh… I mean… As thanks for lettin’ me stay and all that shit, right?”

Lucy’s expression seemed to soften at the sweet offer. It wasn’t often that Gajeel was this… friendly? She struggled for the right term. He was usually brash and rude. “…Are you sure?”

“Yeah.” Gajeel said, smiling toothily, ignoring Lily’s amused expression. Damn, the cat was enjoying his dilemma.

“…Um, okay…”

Gajeel took that up and decided to push his chances of living further. “Good. I make badass pancakes. They even have faces on them. With choco-chip freckles. Yeah.”

Lucy raised an eyebrow. “Ummm… okay…?”

“I’ll just finish this and then I’ll make you pancakes. I’ll make it look like Salamander.”

That made Lucy chuckle as she took her apron off. “Thanks, but I’m okay even if it’s not Natsu. It’ll be… disturbing to eat something that looks like Natsu for breakfast.”

“Got it.”

Gajeel breathed a sigh of relief as Lucy put her apron back in its hanger and returned to cleaning up the drafts of her novel. After she gathered her things, she returned them to her bedroom. Gajeel was already rummaging the cupboards for the pancake mix when she returned.

“Hey, did you put me to bed last night?” Lucy asked, sitting down on the table and watching her companion work. Lily settled himself in front of the blonde and Lucy petted the cat absently. She was used to Happy just hopping on her lap and asking for her attention. Lily was more polite, but he was still a cat.

Gajeel turned to her. “No, actually, this morning—”

“Ah, I slept on the table again.” Lucy laughed. “Thanks for putting me to bed earlier, then.”

“Err, no—”

“Did Happy leave early? He usually just goes home alone in the morning but I usually ask Natsu to pick him up because I always worry when that cat goes by himself—”


Just then, Lucy’s phone rang, cutting Gajeel off. The raven-head grumbled and gave up. He could just tell her later that it was Natsu who tucked her to bed and came to pick Happy up.

“Hey, Gray.” Lucy answered cheerfully. “What’s up?”

Gajeel simply kept on cooking, tuning out Lucy’s side of the conversation. He had only been on the same roof with the blonde for less than 24 hours so far and he already knew that he would be doing most of the cooking here if only to preserve his life. At least he also knew that Natsu came over almost everyday to help Lucy and to keep her company. Juvia was always just cheerful and talking nonstop about her ‘Gray-sama’ while knitting or painting, while Lucy kept herself busy writing her novel, reading a book or finishing a cheerleading routine for the FairyGaku team — that is, if Natsu wasn’t around competing with Happy on who should get Lucy’s lap.

Oh well, the Iron Dragon shrugged, he had his moments with Lucy and for a girly girl (who practically glows — Gajeel swore she glows when she smiles sometimes, that’s how shiny she is), she was a fine roommate. He also kinda owed her for taking him in, so he just resumed on cooking the pancakes. It was a good thing he learned this stuff from Juvia. Otherwise, both Gajeel and Lucy will just die from their own cooking.

“Hey, Gajeel, wanna go out later? I’m having lunch with Gray.” Lucy called.

Gajeel raised an eyebrow. “What?”

“Lunch out with Gray. You in?”

“Eh, no thanks.” Gajeel shook his head. “I… uh… I’m just stayin’ here.”

“You sure? It’s boring here alone.”

“Yeah. Got some school stuff to finish. Don’t wanna cram tonight for tomorrow’s test.”

“Oh, okay then.” Lucy agreed. Gajeel was right to use the ‘study’ card. She went back to her phone conversation with Gray.

After she hung up, she waited patiently for the pancakes to be finished.

When the pancakes were served before her, she gaped. “Gajeel, it…”

“What?” Gajeel said, squinting at his work.

“It looks… normal.”

“What d’you expect it to look like?!”

Kinana was used to having breakfast at Mira’s. During weekends and almost everyday last summer, she worked the morning shift — and Mira asked her everyday if she already had breakfast. Whenever she failed to eat her breakfast before working, Mira sat her down and served her a tasty meal.She was used to eating breakfast in the kitchen, listening to the bustle of the waitresses and kitchen staff and also to the sounds of their customers talking, laughing and moving around the bar. She wasn’t used to eating right in the bar top, with the floor empty and only Mira for company. Kinana thought it was too quiet, but luckily, as Mira sat with her and started eating breakfast as well, the barmaid initiated conversation.“I’m sorry it’s not as fancy as our usual breakfast menu.” the silver-haired woman said.“N-No, it’s fine. It’s perfect.” Kinana assured.

Both young women said ‘Itadakimasu!’ and then started their meal.

Kinana decided to continue the conversation. “Mira-san, you haven’t told us why the bar is closed today. Do you… mind if I ask?”

“Of course not, sweetie!” Mira said, smiling lightly at her companion. “Ah, you haven’t been with us for a year yet, right?”

Kinana shook her head. “I’ve only been working part-time for nine months or so…”

“Hm.” Mira nodded. “Well, Kinana-chan. Today is my little sister’s death anniversary.”

The girl looked up at her employer and blinked.

“Lisanna died three years ago.” Mirajane explained with a small but sad smile on her face. “It was… a car accident. She was just about to graduate from middle school.”

Kinana fell silent, looking down at her food as she bit her lip. After a beat, she looked up again and said, “I’m sorry for bringing it up.”

Mira waved a hand dismissively. “Oh, it’s been years! No harm done. Please don’t feel bad.”

“So… today, you will be visiting her grave?”

“Yes. Elfman and I visit yearly. Our parents come with us when they can, but this year it’s just the two of us.”

Kinana nodded. “Your… sister—”


“Lisanna-san.” the girl said. “She was just… fourteen?”

“Yes. She would have been the same age as Natsu and the others. They were childhood friends. It had been hard on everyone, but we all move on…”

The younger woman smiled sadly. Natsu-sempai and his friends — that must include Cana, Erza, Gray, Levy and the others… it was easy to imagine them as cheerful and rowdy junior high students. It was hard to think that they had lost someone precious to them… that they had lost ONE of them.

Kinana decided to switch topics. Mira smiled as she noted this. The girl was really sensitive and the barmaid was thankful for that. After breakfast, Kinana helped Mira clean up the table and wash the dishes, then took her leave. She said she was meeting up with someone now that the rest of her morning was free. Mira, being her usual self, teased the girl about this “lucky boy” she was meeting and made sure Kinana left blushing furiously.

She was alone again, sitting by the bar, looking at the empty tables and chairs wistfully.

Levy, Jet and Droy always took the table at the far end of the bar, just beside the window. When other friends joined them, that one corner by the window automatically became their turf — their territory, if you will.

Lucy and Erza would sit beside Levy. Natsu, Cana and Gray would be at the other table. Juvia would surely sit beside Gray. Mira knows that Natsu’s feet would be propped up in the table while they waited for their orders. Erza would then scold him and he would sit properly.

Sometimes Mira thought of where Lisanna would fit in if the girl was still with them.

Surely she would sit beside Natsu — they used to be inseparable. Playing house, taking care of Happy, sitting with Gildarts in his little police booth and listening to his stories…

Or maybe Lisanna would like to sit with the girls — with Levy, particularly. They both had a love for fairy tales. Levy had lots of books and Lisanna, while not the most avid reader, liked to listen when the other girl talked about princesses locked in a tower or chased by an evil witch, and the magical adventures of the dashing prince or the loyal knight.

Lisanna and Erza weren’t the closest — they were very different girls, but Lisanna adored Erza’s skills and Erza often wished she could be as gentle as the other girl. Maybe Lisanna and Erza would have gotten closer as the years passed by…

Cana knew card tricks — and, back then, Mira knew, tarot card reading. Lisanna believed in those things. Mira knew that the two got closer in their last year of junior high because Lisanna always asked for a reading and Cana was more than happy to get some practice.

Then Mira thought — how would Lisanna like the new additions?

Lisanna would have loved Juvia. The blunette looked and dressed like an elegant lady in her lace dresses and fur-lined coats. Lisanna never had skill in making hand-made things, and she would have certainly marveled at how Juvia was so good at making dolls, scarves and sweaters… She would have approved of Juvia for Gray right off the bat. Lisanna believed in things like love at first sight and all those romantic ideas…

Lisanna would have loved Lucy, too. Lucy Heartfilia who practically makes the whole room light up with her smile — Lisanna would have adored how Lucy was a literal princess and yet the blonde remained down to earth and never prided herself with the riches her family entitled her to. Lucy was a cheerleader, as well — back in middle school Lisanna told her siblings that she would try out for that club if she could only muster some confidence.

Lisanna would have thought that Mystogan was a very cool guy and would know that his silence was not due to awkwardness — that he really just enjoyed keeping quiet. Lisanna would have been afraid of Gajeel, but as soon as she sees the guy’s cat, she will deem him a good person. Mira knew that her sister would have loved Kinana-chan around the bar, would have rooted for Freed and Laxus or Elfman and Evergreen… Lisanna would have cried in happiness as Gildarts accepted Cana as his daughter.

But that was it — Mira thought — it all just ended there. Everything she had thought about were just would-have’s and what-if’s… Lisanna was taken from them too early and it hit them all hard.

Mira ran a hand through her long hair. She realized that her hair now went down to her waist. She wasn’t keeping track, so maybe she grew it out longer than intended. She should get her hair trimmed soon. Back on her high school days, she kept it long, but only down to mid-back. She kept it tied in a high ponytail…

Lisanna always kept her hair short, but she said that she wanted to grow it out like Erza’s and Cana’s. Mira remembered her sister saying that once they reached high school, she would let her hair grow long.

She didn’t get the chance to.

Mira sighed, flipping her hair over her shoulders and slumping down at the bar, burying her head in her arms.

She wondered what she should do until her brother comes.

“Elfman, hurry up…”

Elfman asked her to wait and Mirajane understood that she had to be patient.

She only learned to be patient after they lost Lisanna.

“I swear, Gray — you really should be more confident.” Lucy said as she walked with Gray in the Magnolia Town Square.Gray huffed. “I am confident. I just know that I don’t have clothes that are… nice enough.”“Couldn’t Cana help you pick something?”“She won’t wake up. Says it’s her day-off so I should let her rest.”

Lucy shrugged. Cana was busy most of the time so Lucy couldn’t really blame her for wanting to sleep for the whole day. “Okay, then. So you want my help on picking out clothes. What else?”

Gray looked sheepishly at her. “Uh, tips?”

“Tips for what?”

“For… what to say, or how to answer questions…”

“And you say you’re confident.”

“I am! It’s just… y’know, I don’t want to mess this up. Because maybe I’m confident for the wrong reasons.”

Lucy chuckled. “Are you that nervous about meeting Juvia’s mom?”

“Dude. It’s the first time I’m meeting her, so I think this is justified.”

Lucy understood him. Juvia’s parents came from France and Gray was right to feel a wee bit intimidated. He didn’t know a thing about Juvia’s mother, and he really didn’t have a mother figure to ask for advice at these times…

“Okay, then. I have an idea.”


“After lunch, we’re raiding Loke’s closet. I’m sure you’re more or less the same size, anyway.”

“Why Loke?”

“’Cause trust me, he has more clothes than his sisters combined, and they look ridiculously good.”

“Won’t his clothes be… too fancy?”

“We’ll just have to find less fancy ones.”

“How about the tips?”

“We’ll talk about that over lunch. Oh, and maybe you should just ask Loke. He’s good with ladies.”

“Lucy.” Gray deadpanned. “I want to be in Juvia’s mom’s good side. I doubt using pick-up lines will do that.”

Lucy looked back at him and snorted. “…Yeah, you have a point.”

Lucy was about to take a turn in the street but Gray stopped her. “Mira’s place is closed today.”

“Eh?” the blonde blinked. “Why?”

“It’s that day. C’mon, let’s just eat at The Dragon’s.”

“Okay, then.” Lucy nodded and followed the raven-head. “What do you mean ‘it’s that day’? What’s that day?”

Gray answered monotonously. “Lisanna’s death anniversary. Mira and Elf closes down the bar and visits her grave every year.”

“Oh.” Lucy said. “Lisanna-san is their younger sister, right?”

“Yep. We were in the same class in middle school.”

“Yes, I think I’ve seen her in some old photos…”

Gray glanced at his companion. Lucy obviously didn’t expect the answer she got when she asked about the bar and its unofficial holiday.

“In speaking of that…” Gray started. “Where’s Natsu?”

Lucy blinked up at him. “Natsu? I… don’t know. Why would I know?”

“Hm.” Gray shrugged. He thought at least Lucy would know…

“It’s Sunday lunchtime. I bet he’s helping Igneel out. The Dragon’s bound to be loaded at this time.”

“He really didn’t tell you anything?”

Lucy raised an eyebrow. “Why? Should… should he?”

“Nah, it’s just that nobody knows what he’s up to.”

“He should be hanging around town as usual, or playing games at home, watching anime, or helping at The Dragon…”

“You really don’t know, huh.” Gray said, this time with a little smirk on his lips. “Every year, on this day, he takes Happy with him and goes somewhere. Nobody knows where. When we tried asking where he’s been, he says it’s a secret.”

“Really?” Lucy said, confused. “That’s not like him. Maybe he just visits Lisanna-san’s grave.”

“Maybe he does, but for him to hang out there for the whole day?”

Lucy pursed her lips and thought about it, but easily gave up. “Eh, he gets weird sometimes.”

“Yeah, he does.”

They stopped in front of The Fire Dragon Restaurant. Gray opened the door for both of them and as they both went inside, they were instantly greeted by Igneel, who was working on the extra register.

“Lucy! Gray!” The man looked at them expectantly, and when it became obvious that it was just the two of them together, he asked — “…Where’s Natsu?”

“We thought he’d be here. Helping out and all.” Lucy answered.

“Nah, he left early.” Igneel said, shrugging.

“It’s that day. The Strauss’ is closed, so we’re having lunch here.” Gray explained, looking around for a table for two. The place was packed, as Lucy had expected.

Igneel nodded. “Ah. So Natsu’s off somewhere again?”

“Seems like it.” Gray said.

Igneel must be used to it by now, as he simply shrugged again. “Well then, may I take your orders?”

A few minutes later, Gray and Lucy found themselves seated in a table for two that has just been vacated. They were waiting for someone to clean up the dishes in the table and were surprised when Romeo headed over to them and cleaned up.

“Hey, Romeo.” Lucy said.

“Lucy-nee. Gray-nii.” the boy said, grinning at them and then gathering the dishes to a tray.

“I don’t see you here often…”

“Natsu-nii asked me to sub.”

“He did?”

“Yeah, he said he’s going somewhere today and Igneel would need help.”

Lucy and Gray looked at each other as the boy finished his task dutifully. Romeo was clumsy most of the time, but he was used to the job and did it well.

A distant voice from the floor called, “Cleanup on table 15, please!”

“Got it!” Romeo called back. He waved to his sempai before going to another table.

The food was served shortly and the teens began their lunch. Lucy and Gray talked mostly about Gray and his dilemma with Juvia’s mom. Every so often, Lucy teased him about his progress on Juvia and how it’s so nice that they were really committed. Gray brushed her off gingerly whenever she did so and simply tried to get her back on track.

Just as they were finishing their meal, Igneel sat with them with a tall glass of iced tea for himself. The man sighed. “And finally the traffic’s gone down.”

He was right. The line in the counter and the number of customers have decreased considerably.

Lucy smiled. “Busy lunch?”

“Sundays.” the man grumbled. “Romeo is subbing for Natsu but he can only work on the floor — what we really need is another pair of hands for the kitchen. Really, that idiot son — he could’ve gone to wherever he went off to AFTER lunch, you know?”

“Amen.” Gray said.

“So it’s really just the two of you? That’s unusual…”

Lucy answered for both teenagers. “I have devoted myself to helping Gray gain Juvia’s mom’s favor.”

“Ehhhh~” Igneel grinned slyly at his son’s ‘rival’. “Really now, you’re meeting Juvia-chan’s mom?”

“She’s coming back from France today, and they invited me for dinner.”

“Good luck.” Igneel sniggered. “Ah, you’ll really need expert advice. Good choice in picking Lucy-chan, too…”

“After this, we’re raiding Loke’s closet.” Lucy declared proudly.

“Good luck with that, too.” Igneel said laughingly. “Don’t let her get too carried away, Gray.”

“I know. I won’t let myself be a living dress-up doll.”

“Hey, I won’t be that bad.” Lucy whined.

“You will. Girls always do.” Igneel and Gray chorused, before Gray put his plate away. Lucy was not yet done with her meal. Igneel was stirring his iced tea absently.

“Ah,” Igneel sighed. “But really, where is that son of mine?”

Gray and Lucy both gave noncommittal shrugs.

“Natsu may not look like it,” Igneel started. “…but he really misses Lisanna-chan.”

The teens fell silent then. Lucy kept eating, while Gray stared at his empty plate blankly.

“Heh. I don’t know if you knew this, Gray.” Igneel said, smiling a small nostalgic smile. “But… when… when it happened… Natsu and I, we were out of town, I was trying to close a deal about one of our suppliers. I took Natsu with me, then. We closed the deal and I decided to take Natsu for a walk around town since it’s the first time he went away from Magnolia. That’s when I got the phonecall… I didn’t know how to tell Natsu, really. They were really close.

“I remember it well, we were in a toy shop. I asked Natsu to step out with me and sat him down on a bench. I made sure to be careful in telling ’im…”

Igneel remembered his exact words, too.

‘Natsu, listen carefully, alright?’‘What is it, dad? Why so serious?’’This is about Lisanna-chan…’’I told you, they were just kidding! She’s not my girlfriend! Frosty and the others are just teasing me—’

‘No, buddy — listen to me. Something… something bad happened.’


’Back home, something bad—’

‘Dad, just tell me.’

‘Lisanna-chan got hit by a car.’


’We don’t know why yet, but—’

’Is she okay now? They took her to the hospital, right? She’ll be fine—’

‘She didn’t make it, Natsu. I’m so sorry.’

Natsu was silent as he stared at his father’s face. Igneel tried his best to keep up a brave face for his son, but it must have looked like a grimace. He was trying his best not to cry, there were a lot of people around, and he thought that if he cried, Natsu would bottle it all up and try to be strong for both of them. He waited for Natsu to cry. Natsu needed it more than he did—

Natsu tried to smile. ‘It’s a joke, right?’

Igneel closed his eyes and shook his head.

Natsu fell silent again. The boy looked down. He didn’t know that he had his hands fisted in his lap.


‘Let’s go home.’ the boy said, cutting his father off. His voice was trembling but he wasn’t crying. ‘I want to see her.’

’Natsu, you—’

‘I know she’s dead.’ Natsu said softly. ‘I still want to see her.’

“He was quiet. He didn’t cry when I told him.” Igneel continued. “He didn’t cry when he saw her in the coffin… He didn’t even cry in the memorial service, or when we were burying her.”Gray remembered that. He remembered how Cana cried on his shoulder. He remembered Erza running to him in tears. He remembered crying with them — they were a small huddle of fourteen year-olds crying over a friend who died…He remembered looking at Natsu, who stood beside his dad at all times, holding Happy in his arms, and wondering why — WHY wasn’t Natsu crying? They expected him to throw a fit, to cry his eyes out and scream in frustration. Lisanna was his best friend. Out of all the kids in the room, he was the one closest to her.Gray never caught Mira crying but her eyes were puffy. Gray knew Elfman cried. That was when he was still meek and shy and boy, did Elfman cry a river.

Igneel said, “He cried, though, the night after we buried her. It was nighttime and he insisted that he wanted to go to bed early, but when I passed by his room, I heard him sobbing. There, all alone in his bed. The next morning, his eyes were still puffy… he must’ve cried himself to sleep, yeah? Happy slept with him, and I think it’s a miracle Natsu didn’t crush the poor cat that night.”

Gray looked across him. Lucy had finished her meal, but was still looking at her plate and holding her spoon and fork. Gray took it upon himself to lighten up the mood. “Natsu would kill you if he knew you were talking about him crying.”

“Ahahaha, you’re right!” Igneel said.

“They were really close, huh?” Lucy said, looking at Igneel with a small smile. “I’ve never seen Natsu cry.”

“He never lets anyone see him cry.” Igneel shrugged. “They were inseparable. They’ve been friends since primary school. They used to play house all the time. Natsu’s stuck up but he plays along. It’s really cute, how they play ‘Mama’ and ‘Papa’ and make Happy their child.”

Lucy giggled. “I can’t imagine Natsu acting like a dad…”

“They did it all the damn time.” Gray rolled his eyes. ‘Specially when Happy was just a kitten. Do you know how they found that cat?’ Lucy shook her head. “They found him in a cardboard box in some garbage bin near the elementary school. Happy was practically dying. They worked hard to patch him up. They were so into it that we all just couldn’t help but… y’know, help.”

Lucy sighed, imagining little Natsu with the girl she saw on the pictures. They did make a really cute sight…

Someone from behind the counter called for Igneel and the man excused himself. Gray looked at Lucy, who was browsing through her phone.

“Hey.” he said.


“You alright?”

Lucy raised an eyebrow. “W-What..? I’m fine. Why shouldn’t I be?”

Gray shrugged, looking away. “Eh, um… nevermind.”

“Gray, what is it?”

The raven-head quickly answered. “Nothing. Let’s go… uh… raid Loke’s closet.”

Laxus groaned as he stared at the message in his phone.[ ’PAPA YOU’RE LATE YO! So on ur way pls buy a choco for me, cafe latte for E and frapuccino for ur one and only best boyfran 5ever! Kthnx! Chuuuu~’ ]Goddamn.[ ‘I’m not Starbucks.’ ]


After three seconds, his phone beeped again. Shit, how fast does Bixlow text?

[ ‘Changes nothin. You’re still late! Say hi to Mira for us!’ ]

Laxus thought he was supposed to be the mighty leader of the Raijinshuu, but now he was walking towards The Strauss’, reduced to an errand boy. And why? Because he was late for band practice. He rolled his eyes and kept walking, but not before sending a reply to the drummer.

[ ‘I’m not late. You’re just early.’ ]

[ ‘Don’t quote princess diaries. It destroys ur rep.’ ]

[ ‘Fuq u. I didn’t quote anything.’ ]

The next message he received was from Freed. [ ‘Don’t buy if you don’t want to. We can all just get some after practice.’ ]

Laxus sighed. Freed was spoiling him as usual. He was tempted to follow the bassist’s advice, but now that they have talked about drinks, Laxus wanted some iced coffee too, so he shrugged and decided that he’ll just buy the stuff.

Besides, they had a point. He really was running late.

When he got to The Strauss’, the sign on the door said “CLOSED”.

It was past noon. Laxus frowned. So it was that day, huh.

He huffed and was about to turn back and go to practice empty-handed, but he heard some shuffling on the nearest alley. It was a narrow passage that led to the back door of the bar, with a small staircase that led to the second floor, which served as the living area of the Strauss family.

Curious, Laxus walked towards the alley and took a peek, only to find Mira standing on the balcony of their living quarters, struggling to pull up a mattress that must have fallen off. The barmaid was groaning as she pulled the mattress up by the sheets pinned to it, but the sheets were the only things that she could hold on to. The mattress itself was slipping.

“Oi, need help?” he called out.

“Laxus! Hi!” Mirajane smiled brightly.

“Yeah, hi.”

The woman giggled gingerly. “Can you push this up, please?”

Laxus stood below the balcony, but just before he could reach up to push the mattress up, it fell on him.

Dust flew all over the place, Mira squealed, and Laxus coughed, holding up the offending mattress.

“Oh my gosh, are you alright?” Mira called from above, pulling the sheets in and looking down worriedly.

“If I had asthma I’d be dead.” he coughed, hoisting the mattress off him, and waving the dust away from his face. He made sure not to let the mattress touch the ground, though. “Death by mattress. That’s fucked.”

“I’m so sorry!” Mira said despairingly.

“Yeah, yeah. I’ll just… take this up there.” Laxus lifted the furniture and started to carry it up the stairs.

“Thank you very much! I’m really really sorry…” Mira opened the door to let him in. “I was just trying to dust it off, but I lost my grip.”

“It’s fine.” Laxus said roughly as he entered the living room and set the mattress to lean against the wall. “You’re lucky I passed by. You couldn’t have lifted this shit back up here.”

“Thanks. Really.” the barmaid smiled gratefully. “You were passing by?”

“Actually, I was running an errand for my band members.” Laxus answered grudgingly. When Mira raised an eyebrow, he complained. “I run late for once in my entire life and they make me buy drinks.”


“Really. But you’re closed, so problem solved.”

Mira chuckled, following the blonde outside.

Laxus stood in the balcony, leaning against the railings. “You’re going to visit her today?”

“Of course. We go every year, after all.” the woman answered, closing the door behind her and leaning against the railings as well.

Laxus fell silent and just stood there for a while, then he looked around and turned to his former rival. “Hey, is this a no-smoking area?”

Mira shook her head. “Not really, no. Why?”

“The studio is.” Laxus said. “I figure I’d spend a stick before going there. Do you mind?”

Mira shook her head and watched as Laxus put down his guitar case and then rummaged his pockets for a case of cigarettes. He took out a stick and put it between his lips before taking out his lighter. He was about to light it when he paused and looked at her.

The woman blinked when he held the pack out to her.

She had quit smoking — along with that high ponytail, the skimpy clothes, the gangs, the cursing and the fighting. She dropped all of those in one go, three years ago.

When she shook her head and looked down with a small shy smile, Laxus huffed. “Seriously, you’re going good-girl on me?”

Mira looked at him and chuckled. “Fine. One stick.” She took a cigarette from the pack and held it near her lips. Then she leaned forward, letting her companion light up their cigarettes.

A few silent moments passed. Laxus looked out at the streets, while Mira looked at the empty staircase.

“I’m gonna go sit down.”


After a few minutes, he sat down too. It brought back memories, for them to be sitting next to each other on the staircase beside the bar like this — smoking cheap cigarettes from Laxus’ stash.

This was only their second time, though.

The first time, Mira was crying.

Laxus went to the funeral service with Erza and Makarov. Erza, in one of her rare moments of vulnerability, was holding on to his hand. He held her hand back tightly as the three of them walked towards the coffin.Erza touched the glass, as if she would be able to stroke her friend’s face with it. After staring at Lisanna’s peaceful face long enough, Laxus felt his sister’s hold loosen. He let her hand go and watched as she walked towards one of the benches, where Gray was consoling Cana. She joined their little huddle, crying with them.Laxus looked at the white-haired girl’s face again. She merely looked like she was sleeping. He was fond of her. Everybody was, anyway. Mirajane can be noisy and rude and violent, but Lisanna was all gentle smiles and polite greetings. Laxus balled his hands to fists as he stared at the girl in the coffin. Now who will run to him apologizing for her older sister’s behavior? He couldn’t count on Elfman for that. Who will tug at his sleeve and tell him to be patient with Mira-nee, that Mira-nee is just having a really bad day? He would always pat her head and tell her that he’ll do that, because she asked so nicely. The girl would always giggle and say that he’s not really as bad as everyone else thinks he is.Now that girl was gone.

Laxus turned his back and decided to sit down on an empty chair, leaving his grandfather still standing by the coffin. He looked around. He didn’t see Mira or Elfman anywhere. After a few minutes, Makarov went to approach Lisanna’s parents. That was when Evergreen sat beside Laxus.

“Did you see them yet?” Laxus asked lowly.

The brunette knew who he was talking about. “They said Mira wouldn’t talk to anyone and Elfman wouldn’t come out his room.” She sighed and looked down.

The blonde nodded. “Freed and Bix?”

“Freed said he dropped by with his parents a while ago, but he said he’ll come back if we’re still here.” the young woman answered. “Bixlow is on his way.”

Laxus stood up and headed for the door.

The brunette looked up at him. “Where are you going?” He knew that she felt uncomfortable even when she had many acquaintances in the place.

He laid a hand on her shoulder to assure her that he wouldn’t be gone for long, then simply said, “Just outside. To smoke.”

Evergreen simply nodded and let him be. Laxus went out the bar and stood by the sidewalk for a while before he decided to stay in the nearest alley.

A head of white caught his attention. Mirajane was sitting at the top steps of the staircase leading to the Strauss’ living quarters. She had her back turned to him, but he recognized her high ponytail. She was wearing a little black dress with black sandals.

Laxus walked towards her and stopped at the bottom of the staircase. Mirajane’s eyes were puffy, her nose was red, and she was gripping a white handkerchief. She was hugging her knees to herself.

When she finally took note of his presence, she sniffed and said, “What the fuck do you want?”

“I’m sorry.” he said.

“For what?”

“I wasn’t there when you asked me to be.”

She looked away.

“In my defense, you asked so rudely and I don’t do those things anymore, but still… I should have done you a favor.”

“It doesn’t matter now.”

“It could have kept her safe.”

“I said it doesn’t matter now!” Mira shouted at him and Laxus saw that she tears had started to form in her eyes again. “It’s not like you’re the one who got her involved! It was me! Nobody else— it was just… just me.” Her shout was reduced to a whimper, and it made Laxus clench his fists.

He said, “It was an accident.”

“It’s my fault.” She ran a hand through her hair and leaned lifelessly against the railings.

He climbed the staircase and sat beside her, took out a cigarette and began smoking. He offered her a stick and she only stared at it for a while before she finally took up his offer. He held out his lighter and she accepted that as well.

Mira let her head drop against his shoulder. “Why are you here? What do you care?” she asked bitterly.

“You’re a shitty person, but I liked your sister.” Laxus answered. “And because she always asked me so nicely to bear with you because you’re just having a bad day, I’m doing her a favor now.”

He didn’t speak, he didn’t hold her or cry with her. He thought it was a waste when he saw the freshly-lit cigarette drop to the ground as it slipped from her shaking fingers, but he didn’t say anything about that, too. He stayed still when she gripped his sleeve, leaned on him and sobbed.

“If… If I didn’t fight back, if I was stronger… If I was a better person… she would still be with us…”

“If I listened to you and helped out, it would’ve ended quickly, she wouldn’t have needed to come running in the middle of the street.”

“It’s still my fault.”

The fight had been between Mira’s gang and the new gang in town. Mira’s team had always been the strongest group of delinquents in Magnolia, so she led her followers to the fray confidently.It got messy, particularly because their opponents are new and they weren’t afraid to take the fight to the streets. From the empty warehouses that usually housed fights between delinquents and biker gangs, the fight was taken to the open streets of Magnolia town. To make matters worse, other gangs decided to join in. The streets were chaos then — stalls were overturned, various shop windows were broken…Mira tried calling Laxus for some back-up. She knew that he was trying to stay out of trouble, but she had to give it a shot.He declined. He had just been suspended for causing some trouble earlier that month. Since he started up his band, he had stopped fighting with Mira and had stopped starting fights. He fought back when he had to, but he always stayed out of sight. Mira teased him for being too focused on a band that would never get anywhere, but he always ignored her, so she just stopped provoking him and ignored him as well. This time was different, though — the enemy was insulting FairyGaku — Mira knew that Laxus wouldn’t have that. He declined, anyways — ‘I’m sorry but I don’t do that childish shit anymore. ’Sides I know you’ve got that covered. Beat ’em up good.’

He said that if he broke his hands fighting, he’d have a problem playing his guitar.

Mira cursed him and called him a coward before hanging up and joining in the fight again.

The vehicles on the streets were in chaos by then — the students ran across the road without paying heed to the cars and the traffic lights. It was suicidal, Mira knew — but it was her fight, and it was a good fight.

It all happened so fast, though.

Mira was fighting against a delinquent twice her size when she heard her brother’s cry. “Nee-san!”

She felt her enemy’s grip loosen and she realized that Elfman — shy, meek Elfman — had punched the other delinquent on the face. Her brother was a big guy, but the delinquent was stronger. He quickly got up and punched Elfman in the gut, then shoved the younger student backward… towards the road…

Mira didn’t shout — she was on her knees, too shocked as she watched her brother get pushed back on a road — a street with the green traffic light on—

“Elf-nii!” Lisanna’s voice was heard, too.

“LISANNA!” came another shout. Mira saw Cana across the street, reaching out helplessly towards the white-haired girl who ran down the road towards her brother—

It was followed by the deafening honks of cars and high-pitched vehicle screeches as drivers stepped harshly on their brakes.

The next thing Mira knew, Elfman was lying just on the edge of the sidewalk, and Lisanna-… Lisanna was lying on the middle of the road, her always-pristine uniform now covered in blood—

She pushed Elfman out of the way.

Mira was saved by her younger siblings — and now one of them was lying unconscious by the sidewalk, and the other was lying bloody in the middle of street, and Mira did nothing but watch.

She would have done nothing but watch if Cana had not come screaming her name, calling for help. “LISANNA! Lisanna, please-… n-no-… No-… Someone please help! Mira! MIRA! Lisanna’s—”

Mira was pulled back to the present when the door behind them opened and Laxus turned his head to see his grandfather standing there, staring at their backs. Mira remained sobbing in her handkerchief, leaning against the blonde’s shoulder. She couldn’t care less about who saw her now.Laxus didn’t speak. He simply looked away from his grandfather and blew another puff of smoke from his cigarette.Makarov stepped forward and laid a hand on the girl’s shoulder. “Mira-chan—”At the voice, the girl’s shoulders tensed and she shakily said, “It’s my fault, isn’t it, principal? Mom and dad… they think it’s my fault. They try to hide it, but I know they know it’s me.”

“It isn’t.” Makarov insisted, rubbing the silver-haired girl’s back. “Your mother and father even asked me to talk to you. Stop blaming yourself. It was an accident.”

“It wasn’t! She knew what was going to happen and she did it because she… she wanted to!” the girl insisted. Laxus felt her grip his sleeve, but he remained still. “I always start all these shitty fights just b-because I can… and now… now Lisanna’s gone. She didn’t even know what it was about! Elfman and Lisanna… They didn’t even know… they didn’t even know what was happening… They weren’t even supposed to be there! Elfman… Elfman just tried to protect me… and Lisanna-… Lisanna just tried to save him-… Why? Why am I so fucking stupid and weak and-… Why didn’t I fight back when that bastard hit Elfman, why did I just sit there-… WHY DID I JUST SIT THERE AND WATCH THEM BOTH RISK THEIR LIVES FOR ME?!”

Makarov breathed deeply as he pat the girl’s shoulder consolingly. He then noticed his grandson’s anguished expression. “And you, Laxus?”

The blonde spoke, “I could’ve helped. She asked me to be there — I could’ve helped her finish everything before Elfman and Lisanna got involved but I was too stuck up and I just stayed there saying shit about giving it up when my friends are—”

“It’s not your fault either.” Makarov said sternly.

“If I’d been there, I could’ve changed something.” Laxus insisted.

Mira sobbed. “If I’d been stronger, I wouldn’t have needed saving. They would’ve both been okay—”

“Listen to yourselves, both of you!” Makarov scolded. “Strongest students of FairyGaku, crying and pitying themselves.”


“Stop blaming yourselves. It was an accident.” the old man said. “If you’re going to go on about that, you may just as well blame Cana for letting Lisanna run down that street to save Elfman.”

“They all hate me, don’t they?” Mira asked softly. “Mom and Dad… they think I failed them. I’ve always been a failure but now I cost them their best, sweetest child…” she chuckled. “How can I face Natsu and the others now?”

“It was Lisanna’s decision to do what she did.” Makarov said. “If you know her as well as you think you do, you’d know that she didn’t regret what she did, not one bit. She would have done that in a heartbeat, because she loves you… She would do that a thousand times over for both Elfman and you.”

He brought a hand to pat the girl on the head, but she shrunk further into her shell and only leaned against Laxus. Makarov sighed — she was still too deep in mourning.

“Think about that, will you, Mira-chan?”

She nodded silently and Makarov knew that she just did so to make him leave her alone. He looked at his grandson, but Laxus was sitting still, providing an unlikely shoulder to the girl. They were never close — in fact, they hated each other’s guts, but they still knew each other since childhood and they both loved Lisanna.

“Laxus, I’ll be taking Erza home with me in a few minutes.”

Laxus nodded. “Yeah, I’ll follow. I’ll-… just walk Ever home first.”

Makarov saw the white lie and Laxus knew it. The old man simply then took his exit and left the students alone again. Laxus didn’t leave until Freed, Evergreen and Bixlow appeared at the bottom of the staircase looking at them hesitantly and Mira told him to go ahead and join them.

She thanked him for the cigarette.

Bixlow noted that Laxus’ sleeve was wet, and Laxus only nodded.

“Yeah, I know.”

The three looked at their leader. They were with Laxus when they received the news that the fight had gone messy and that there was a casualty. Laxus prioritized their band very much and for a moment they felt a little guilt inside themselves. If they had told Laxus to go and help Mira, could it have changed anything?

“It’s not your fault, Laxus.” Freed said.

“Yeah.” Laxus blew a puff of smoke before throwing his cigarette away. “I know.”

“The Strauss’ is just five blocks away, right?”Freed and Evergreen looked up from their respective reading materials to look at Bixlow for five full seconds before they went back to reading again.“What’s taking Papa so long?” Bixlow whined.Freed answered patiently. “Maybe there are lots of customers.”

Bixlow pouted and went back to his PSP.

A few minutes later, Bixlow put his game down again and practically shouted. “Arrrggh, I’m calling him! This is so boring, I wanna play already!”

Freed and Evergreen rolled their eyes and let him do as he pleased.

Laxus and Mira were on their second cigarette when Mira let her head drop on her companion’s shoulder. Laxus didn’t move. Just like that time, he simply kept smoking.

“Ne, Laxus…”


“Do you miss her?”

Laxus looked down at the empty staircase. Mira didn’t mind him not answering. She simply sighed and brought her cigarette to her lips.

After a while, Laxus said, “Yeah, but not more than you do.”

Mira smiled to herself. “Of course.”

“Are you over it?”

“…Yeah. Pretty much. We’re doing good, aren’t we?”

“What d’you mean?”

“I mean, I’m here. I have the bar and it’s going really well… Mom and Dad’s branch on the next town over is doing great, they say, and Elfman’s fine and happy. And you… you have the band to take care of. I mean, last time we smoked together we were beating ourselves up about something, and now… now we’re fine.”

Laxus chuckled. “With those cheesy lines, who would’ve thought that you’re the great demon delinquent of FairyGaku?”

“Speak for yourself. You were pretty notorious back then.”

“I still am.” Laxus defended.

“Well then, that just means that I did better.” Mira said proudly.

They were interrupted by the sound of a phone ringing.

It was a very familiar tune…

Mira leaned back and looked at her companion. Laxus was almost afraid to take his phone out and admit that it was his phone that was ringing, but it might be important—

“Your ringtone is the wedding march.” she said, trying to stifle her laugh.

“I’m going to kill Bixlow.” Laxus grunted, before answering his phone. “Whaaaat?… Ah. Sorry. I stopped by to smoke. Mira’s closed today. It’s that day.”

Mira laughed as she heard Bixlow’s loud complaints over the phone.

“Geez, fine, fine. Calm your tits. I’m getting up now. Be there in five.” He hung up and saw Mirajane’s amused expression. “Seriously, I thought being leader was cool, but they’ll bully you every chance you let them.”

He stood up and dusted his pants, then slung his guitar over his shoulder. Mirajane was still sitting down as he made his way down the steps and told her that he’d see her around.

She thanked him for the cigarette.

Mira rested her chin on her hand and smiled wistfully.

They were indeed doing well.

Freed and Evergreen were listening to Bixlow’s loud complaints over the phone and when they heard that the bar was closed, they looked shortly at each other before returning to their reading. They knew it was tradition.After Bixlow hung up and reported their leader’s reply, the gamer put away his PSP, grabbed his drumsticks and headed towards the drum set. Bixlow did a few drills before going on a lazy drum solo practice.Evergreen looked at Freed again — the bassist was still immersed in his reading. He had an important test coming up, they all knew. The brunette, however, was just reading a novel that she borrowed from one of her new girl friends (she was still amazed to think that she finally had girl friends now). However, as she kept on reading, a nagging voice on her head wouldn’t stop, so Evergreen put down her book and took out her phone.She stared at her wallpaper (a field of flowers) for a long while before finally deciding to leave a message.

[’ You’re going to visit Lisanna’s grave today, right? Take care on your way 🙂 ’]

Evergreen looked at the smiley for a good ten seconds before tapping the ‘delete’ button twice.

Then, she added the smiley again and sent it anyway.

Elfman’s college friends invited him to hang out that day. They pulled an all-nighter studying that they ought to take an easy day off the next day. He politely declined them saying he had plans with his family.Now, as he was on his way home, he received a message from his sister, telling him to hurry up because she was bored out of her mind…Elfman merely smiled and replied that he was on his way, before tucking his phone back in his pocket.It’s been three years that they have had this tradition of visiting Lisanna’s grave on the day that she died.

The first year, they went with their parents.

The last two years, it was only him and Mira — their parents simply left their regards, or visited the next day. They have just been busy on the next town over.

It has been two years as well, that he and his sister have been living alone. It was kind of ironic that once the children were old enough, it had been the parents who moved out. When Mira decided to help with the business full-time and when she proved capable of handling the bar in Magnolia, their parents could finally breathe easy as they decided to push through with opening up another branch on the next town over. Since then, the family was rarely together, but they were still kept in touch and they still felt… whole.

Elfman could just imagine his sister now, alone in the house with no one for company. She would clean up random areas in the bar, then when she runs out of things to do there, she’ll return to their upstairs home and proceed to fuss over the rooms, the kitchen, the living room…

It was hard to imagine her as that teenage high school girl who wore the black tank top and mini skirt, cursing and talking like a sailor, getting in fights with other delinquents one after the other.

He knew why she kept herself busy, not just on the bar, but with other people, too. The woman who offered wise counsel to her customers, who sweetly asks Elfman about his girlfriend every time he came home, who called their parents almost every day without fail, who his friends turned to when they had problems… she was definitely not the girl who laughed at other people’s problems and beat the living lights out of countless delinquents back in the day.

Thinking about it, Elfman knew that he wasn’t the weak, shy, cowardly boy from back then, as well. He had a naturally large, looming build, but back then, people would have more cause to fear his sisters, rather than him. Mira called him a big baby. His other friends, Natsu, Gray and the other boys, all knew that Elfman was big but it started and ended there. They didn’t mind that he couldn’t fight, anyway. They were fine with him standing back and offering some band-aids after.

Elfman knew that if Cana had held Lisanna back from running down the streets and pushing him out of the way of that car, he wouldn’t be breathing right now. Oftentimes, he wondered — if he had died that day, what would have happened?

Will Mira have changed her ways, too? Because Elfman died saving her? Would Lisanna-… No, he knew Lisanna wouldn’t change anything. Unlike Mira and Elfman, people loved Lisanna for the way she really was. Other people were glad that Mira changed — she was too stubborn, upright and violent. People had always told Elfman to change, as well — he was too meek, too shy… too weak-willed. Lisanna was gentle, sensitive, cheerful, sweet and brave… and their family and friends all wished she would never change.

She never did, of course. She stayed as that until the end.

So what would have happened if that car hit Elfman instead?

Both his sisters would cry, for sure… they all loved each other despite their differences. He wouldn’t know what Mira would have done right after that. He knew that Lisanna would move on and live her life with a smile, anyway, and just remember him sadly. She was that kind of girl, too. She knew what would make him happy.

He hadn’t set his eyes on Evergreen at that point, yet. Who would have been Ever’s first boyfriend, then? Who would have been the person that she first poured out her frustrations and insecurities on? The only thing he can hope for is for her to have found someone who understood her, but if he’d died back then, he wouldn’t even have known to care for her that way.

Surely the boys would have mourned the loss of one of their nakama, but back then, would they really dwell on the one of them who contributed the least? He had never been particularly useful nor important… maybe they would be sad… Elfman hoped he had been a good friend, at the very least…

All in all, Elfman thought, if it was him who died instead, maybe… just maybe, there would be less sorrow.

A text message from Ever interrupted his thoughts.

Elfman looked down at his phone and a small smile crossed his face.

It was selfish of him to think that it would be better if he had died.

Lisanna would tell him that it would be better to think that everyone lived.

That afternoon, they didn’t know that their sister had one of those gang fights again. They were walking towards the Magnolia Town Square — him, Lisanna and Cana. He and Lisanna were heading home, and Cana was walking with them as she was on her way to one of her part-time jobs.That was when they noticed the chaos that was happening. At first it looked like the usual pairs of delinquents who roamed the streets recklessly, disturbing random people, then it got worse… They were running across roads, using weapons in their fights, not caring the passers-by that they might accidentally hit…“We have to get out of here quickly. Let’s just run for it — we might get attacked too…” Cana said, putting a hand on Lisanna’s shoulder. “Elfman?”“Y-Yeah…” Elfman answered. Cana was braver than him, of course.

He felt a tug on his sleeve. “Elf-nii, those people are from Nee-san’s gang.”

The three of them were just about to make a break for The Strauss’, when they heard a familiar voice. They turned their heads to see, across the street, Mira charging fiercely towards a guy twice her size, determined to land a blow with her steel pipe.

He held her pipe and swept her aside like a ragdoll, but she quickly stood up and charged again.

“Nee-san!” Lisanna gasped, her hands covering her mouth. Cana was looking at the scene wide-eyed as well. “Elf-nii! Mira-nee is—”

Elfman watched as his sister struggled dodging the blows from the other delinquent. It was obvious that she was going to lose anytime soon… that the delinquent wouldn’t let this end so quickly even if she fell down hard to the ground again…

He had to do something — he was a man, his friends and Mira-nee always said — he was supposed to man it up and protect his sisters, not the other way around. That was why he had asked his parents to enroll him to a dojo… he wanted to learn how to fight. But now, seeing his older sister almost losing her fight, seeing her about to get hurt so bad… It made him think.

‘But what can I do? I barely know the basics, I barely even want to do the basics… My master told me that I can’t fight yet, that I was doing really bad-… And what if I lose, they’ll beat me up too?’

“L-L-Lisanna, stay here.”

He knew that he would lose that fight, but he also knew that he wanted to protect both of his sisters.

He wouldn’t even try to beat that guy. He just wanted him to stop hurting Mira-nee.

So Elfman ran, to save his older sister. Fighting back but getting beaten up is better, Elfman thought, than just standing across the street, watching his sister get hurt.

He saved Mira-nee, yes. He got beat up easy, though. The worst part of it all is that he lost, Mira-nee was barely safe, and he couldn’t stop Lisanna from saving him.

After the accident, he refused to talk to anyone. He couldn’t look his sister or his parents in the eye, and when he saw Lisanna in the coffin, he couldn’t stop himself from crying.He wouldn’t let anybody in his room, but Natsu and Gray tried to kick the door open until he finally let them in.Elfman saw that they were angry, despite their puffy eyes and flushed cheeks. Even Erza and Cana, who stood behind the boys, were looking at him reproachfully.Elfman looked down as he stood before them and said, “I’m sorry.”

“What the hell is wrong with you, man?!” Gray scolded.

“I’m sorry—”

The raven-head cut him off. “Why’re you holing yourself back in here? Your parents are out there facing everyone and you’re here, making them worried sick about you because you wouldn’t talk to them! Don’t make this any harder for them, they’re trying so hard out there!”

Elfman looked at them, and then repeated what he always said, “I’m really sorry—”

“Dude, would you stop apologizing?!”

“Gray,” Erza called, grabbing the boy’s arm and pulling him backwards. “Don’t.”

Cana spoke for her best friend. “But we’re out there too, cryin’ our eyes out, and he’s… he’s just here taking on all the blame for himself and it just… it just sucks that Lisanna would see him feeling all sorry—”

Elfman stepped backward and didn’t reply.

“…she’s supposed to be resting happily now, and… and we’re supposed to…” — a sniff — “…send her off… properly…”

For the first time, Natsu spoke. He had a small grin on his face, although it was clear that he was struggling to keep it. “C’mon, Lisanna died saving you so the least you can do for her is to stop feeling sorry for the person she tried to save so much.”

Elfman broke down crying again, but this time he was surprised to feel someone’s arms around him. Erza wrapped her arms around his shoulders and buried her head in in his chest. He shook as he cried, but the girl didn’t budge and only held on to him tighter.


“Please don’t say you’re sorry.” Erza mumbled. “We’re all happy you’re here with us.”

“If it had been me instead—”

Cana launched herself towards them as well, cutting him off effectively. With the two girls hugging him, Elfman let himself cry freely. Cana was sobbing, maybe just as much as him — “Don’t make us choose, please. I… If I held Lisanna back, we would’ve lost you… But… but I didn’t, and we lost her. And I… I would never ever know if I made the right decision or not… None of us would. So don’t make me think it would be better if you died. It’s killing me to think of what I should’ve done. Don’t make everyone else think of that, too. Don’t make us choose.”

Elfman finally hugged the girls back. Cana was right. He was making them choose. He was making them think of losing him instead of Lisanna.

When the sobbing and crying has died down, Elfman finally went out and let his parents embrace him.

They thanked the Gods that he was alive.

They never blamed him or asked why it was him that was left to them.

He knew then, that he just had to make the most out of that. He just had to prove that Lisanna was taken and he was left to remain with them for a reason.

The next months had been specially hard for a family recovering from the loss of one of its members. Their parents tried their best to loosen up the tension between Mira and Elfman, and honestly, both of them tried. Particularly because Elfman was determined to be a better brother and Mira was still letting her guilt eat her up.The first thing that Mira did was to quit her gang. She made a very strong leader so as she stepped down and left them, the group crumbled easily.Elfman skipped school for three days — he was supposed to take the week off, but his friends and parents convinced him that he had to go on and live normally as soon as possible, that it would make things easier. At school, he had his friends’ support. They were with him all the way, and it helped that Makarov had strongly advised all the teachers and staff members to take careful consideration of the Strauss siblings.Mira skipped school for two weeks. She wordlessly helped her mother clean up Lisanna’s things, she helped with some of the chores… but then at times, her parents will just find her gone. She always went out alone and no one would know where she went, but she returned before sunset and again, she would help in the kitchen and the chores.

After the first week, Mira began to help out in the bar. Before the accident, she could hardly be counted on — she only helped when they really were in a pinch, or when she felt like it. After all, they had Lisanna there already. With Lisanna gone, Mira felt that there was something missing from her mother’s side by the bar, so she volunteered to lend a hand.

“I’ll… help you a bit.” — she said, and her mother smiled sadly. She discarded her tank top and settled with a plain black blouse that exposed less skin, then started to help with wiping the bar top and taking the glasses to the dishwashers. When she started helping out in cleaning the tables as well, she changed into a longer skirt.

Some patrons looked at her in disdain sometimes. It stung. They blamed her for what happened to her sister because they knew it was her that started the fight in the streets.

Mira bravely put up with the stares, particularly because of some people.

Macao and Wakaba, drinking buddies, never mentioned Lisanna or that fight even once when they noticed Mira helping around the bar. As she cleaned the table they had sat on, the two simply greeted her as if nothing had happened.

“Ah, Mira-chan! Helping out around the place?”

She had looked at Macao then, wide-eyed, surprised at his friendly tone. “U-Uh… yeah.”

“But it’s the middle of the day, don’t you have classes?” Wakaba asked.

“I’m taking a short break.” Mira answered hesitantly. She knew they were patrons of the establishment, but she was never really close to them. They were fond of Lisanna — all the patrons were.

A new arrival sat on the same table. “Eh, you should go back soon. Your friends miss ’ya.” Gildarts said as she smiled at the girl.

Mira looked away, her grip on the tray she was carrying tightening considerably. “Friends?”

“Natsu and the others asked me if I’ve seen you around.” the cop explained. “Ah, but take your time. M’sure you can catch up fast, since you’re a smart girl, anyway, eh?”

Mira simply bowed slightly and took the tray to the dishwashers.

Cana and Gray worked part-time in the bar on the early evenings. As soon as Cana catches a customer eyeing Mirajane with distaste, she takes it upon herself to divert their attention and take the matters in her own hands, so that Mira wouldn’t have to deal with them. Whenever Mira brought a tray of dishes to the dishwashers, Gray would accept it with a smile, make a complaint or comment about the customers, and then throw out a joke. Mira would have to admit that she never really appreciated them before — for her they were just younger kids who happened to work in the bar for a few hours before going home again. As she worked with them, she grew to like them — of course, they were Lisanna’s closest friends… they were Mira’s younger siblings as well.

Sometimes Erza came over with Levy and the others. They all talked to Mira with a smile as she took their orders. They were her first customers, taking the role of a full-time waitress and not just one of the cleaning crew. They were the only people she had been brave enough to face.

Pretty soon, the accusatory stares faded as well. Mira’s parents were happy that she was getting along fine, even though she was wary of most people… at least she had patched things up with the few ones that really mattered. They even saw her laughing at something Gildarts and Igneel said about Macao and Wakaba, and then running over to the next table to stop Cana from drinking her second barrel of beer while working.

Elfman, by then, was going home late — but his family was fine with that. He had told them that he was coming back to the dojo, and that he wants to continue learning how to defend himself. This time they knew that his efforts were more serious, that he was more determined to learn.One night, Elfman came home with bruises and a black eye. He came through the back door, just to be sure. Their parents were still by the bar, most employees were gone, and Mira was just about to take the trash out when she saw her brother’s face.She would recognize a black-eye from a punch anytime.“What happened to you?!” she said — it was the first real statement she said to him, without the awkward pauses and the shuffling.

“Nee-san, I’m sorr—”

“I don’t care, who did this to you-?!”

“I… They started it—”

“And you followed?! Why would you do that, you know you can’t fight—”

“But… these guys were bullying Levy, Jet and Droy, and… I… helped them…”

Mira stood back and looked at her brother. “Then..?”

“We got beat up…”

“And the bullies?”

Elfman smiled gingerly. “I punched them in the face, too.”

“Tell me they look worse.”

He looked at her, blinking, then looked down and said, “They do. I think.”

Mira chuckled, then reached out a hand to ruffled her brother’s already messy hair. “Levy’s safe?”


“Good job.” Mira said, smiling back at him. She looked towards the hall and then said, “Now clean up good, so Mom and Dad will freak out less when they see you.”

She could tell that he was nervous as he sneaked upstairs to change. Later that night, over the family dinner, as their parents scolded Elfman, Mira took his side.

On her third week of not coming to school, just before closing time, Laxus came in with his band.She had not talked to him since crying on him on the stairs. As she wiped the bar top clean, two people sat on the stools across her, while two more settled themselves on one of the tables. She looked at them shortly before putting away the dish rag and saying, “I’m afraid we don’t have meals anymore. Just drinks. We’re closing in a few minutes.”She watched Freed look at Laxus expectantly. Laxus nodded, and Freed took out something from his bag, then set it on the bar top.Mira looked at the thick pile of papers in front of her. “What’s this?”

“Three weeks’ worth of notes and handouts.” Laxus said, pushing the papers towards her. Mira looked up at him. “Come back to school. Gramps is having a hard time keeping you out from the list of this year’s drop outs.”


“Erza pleaded. She said you just needed more time.” Laxus said. “And when it wasn’t enough, she asked me to plead with her. I hate pleading to Gramps for anything, so just fucking read all this stuff and then go back.”

She sighed. “Tell Erza I said thanks, but I’m not ready—”

“Hey, Freed worked hard on those.” the blonde insisted. Mira looked at the other guy and Freed avoided her gaze, blushing. She often forgot the fact that she was in the same class as the person she always taunted as being ‘Laxus’ little boyfriend’. She looked back at Laxus when the blonde spoke. “Just go back. It’s just three months before graduation, how fucking long could that be?”

She looked at the notes in the table for a long time before breathing deeply and saying, “Fine.”

‘To hell with it.’, she thought. ‘What happens, happens. If all goes down, I’ll just quit. I’m fine here in the bar. I’m fine just being here.’

“Good.” Laxus said, standing up. Freed followed quickly. Evergreen and Bixlow also stood up.

“Thanks for the notes, Freed.” Mira smiled slightly. She had never gotten along with any of the Raijinshuu, but she knew they were all nice people who knew her anyway.

“Don’t mention it.” the bassist said, smiling back.

Mira watched as the group of friends filed out the bar one after the other — Laxus, followed by Evergreen who waved slightly, then Freed, and finally Bixlow. The drummer said a joyful “See you on Monday!” before closing the door behind him.

After a few minutes, her father announced that it was closing time. Mira went towards the front door to flip the ‘OPEN’ sign to ‘CLOSED’. Just as she was about to lock the door, she saw Natsu running towards her.

Mira opened the door, watching as the boy panted in front of her.

“Natsu, what’s up?” she asked.

“Has Happy had dinner yet?” Natsu asked. “I was helping out Igneel so I forgot to come over.”

Mira couldn’t help but smile — that was one thing that will always remind her of Lisanna. Natsu dropped by everyday to see how Happy was doing. Sometimes he brought treats, then they played together. It hurts Mira the most to see them playing happily.

Lisanna loved that boy and that cat very much — she never went a day without telling her family something about Natsu and Happy over dinner.

She simply answered, “I fed him already. He’s probably upstairs with Elfman.”

She took Natsu to their living room, where Elfman was doing his homework while the blue cat played with a ball by the student’s feet. Happy ran to Natsu as soon as the cat saw the boy, and Natsu received the cat with a laugh.

Mira watched as Natsu took the cat outside and began to feed it some treats. It was still so clear in her memory — how Lisanna begged both her older siblings to get their parents to agree to keep the cat. She had to relent. Lisanna was determined, and Mira just couldn’t say ‘no’ to that kind of determination.

“Natsu.” she called, sitting by the staircase, watching boy play with cat.


“You should keep him.”

Natsu blinked up at her.

“Take him home with you.” Mira explained. “Lisanna would want him taken better care of.”

Natsu looked down at Happy, nibbling energetically on his treats, before looking back at Mira. “But you take better care of ’im than me.”

It was true. Without school, and being home all day, Mira had become Happy’s temporary caretaker.

“But I’m going back to school on Monday.” she said. “I have a lot to catch up on. I won’t be able to take care of him then.”

Natsu stared at her for a while, before grinning that sweet grin that made Mira’s heart ache — it was the smile he usually reserved for her sister.

He nodded. “Okay, then. I’ll take him home.”

She helped him pack Happy’s belongings in a little green bag and then she watched them leave.

Before he went on his way, Natsu turned to her. “Hey, Mira.”


“Your hair’s not tied up.”

Mira brought a hand to her hair — true, it was not in its usual ponytail. She had let it down when she closed up shop.

“Lisanna wanted to let her hair grow as long as yours, you know. She always tells me how pretty you are when you let it down.” then he smiled sheepishly. “Didn’t know it was really true. It makes you look kinder. More… more like her.”

She only nodded and watched him leave.

The next day, she didn’t wear a ponytail.

She indeed went to attend her classes that Monday. There were stares and whispers from her classmates. Unlike the lower years, it was harder for the teachers to disciplines their older students. Even the teachers were wary — not used with the delinquent attending classes, looking like a new person with her hair down, wearing proper uniform, keeping quiet and all. If not for the notes that Freed lent her, Mira would have just barged out the classroom again. She spent the class not by listening to the teacher but by just reading through everything she’d missed. She still found it hard to concentrate, but she endured. The teachers noted that she was focusing on notes, so they didn’t call her for recitation. They let her settle — that was the best they can do.During lunch break, she realized that she had no one to go with. Mira cursed inwardly. She should have seen this coming. She had no other friends and she had been a violent delinquent the last time she was in class, so it was natural that no one would want to have lunch with her.But when she looked around the room, she saw a tiny beam of hope in the form of a green-haired teen standing up and picking up his lunchbox.“Freed?” she called. The whole class went silent then, and the bassist turned to her with a slightly startled expression. Granted, he had been used to her taunts ever since he started hanging out with Laxus, but he really didn’t expect her to address him so suddenly. Not after she had been silent for the whole morning.

But once Mira had his attention, she suddenly didn’t know what to say — because she got everyone else’s attention, as well.

Mira didn’t know what happened — was it something in her eyes or did she just look really pathetic and weak? — but Freed let out a small smile and said, in a voice louder than usual to make sure everyone would hear: “Yeah, let’s get going. The others are waiting.”

The whole class watched as he headed to her table and, like the gentleman he was, picked her lunchbox up for her and they both started to walk out the classroom. Just as they got to the door, Bixlow came bounding in and stopped when he saw Mira.

The young man looked at his bandmate and the girl, then noted the lunchboxes in Freed’s hands. He grinned and slung an arm around Mira’s shoulders, to the girl’s surprise. “Heeeey, Mirajane! Let’s go have lunch, I’m starving!”

“A-ah, yeah…” Mira said.

Bixlow noted the other students looking at them dumbfounded and he simply pointed at them — “HAH, SUCK IT, LOSERS! BETCHA YOUR GIRLFRIENDS AREN’T AS PRETTY AS MINE! HYAHAHAHA—”

He stopped because of the elbow painfully jabbed in his ribs. “Let’s just have lunch.” Mira muttered through gritted teeth.

“Y-Yes, ma’am…” and he finally pulled her with him and they all went to wherever Laxus and Evergreen were.

The band was Mira’s sanctuary for her last three months in high school.

“Now I’ve said this for the fifth time now: DO NOT STRIP.”Gray swore that by ‘fifth’, Lucy actually meant ‘fiftieth’. He sighed, looking down at the paperbag he carried and then back at the girl walking beside him. They had just gone back from raiding Loke’s closet, and boy did Lucy made sure he’d look his best. Even when she almost beat Cana and Erza in the nagging department whenever he asked “Why not that shirt?” or “Why these pants?”, Gray guessed he owed her one.He also owed Loke, welcoming them with open arms (actually it went more like “Lucy, my only love! My angel and the queen of my stars… Come fly to my arms~”) even in his pajamas and then giving Gray some tips that actually did not involve trying to seduce a woman.Now he was walking Lucy home, and she saw it fit to recap the day’s lessons, punctuating her statements with “DO NOT STRIP”.

“I got it. Please. No need to say it every two seconds.” he whined.

“But I have to! Look, where’s your shirt?”

He looked down and cursed — yeah, he had no shirt on, alright. He grumbled and walked back a few steps to pick up the discarded article of clothing.

“I didn’t even notice it happen.” Lucy rolled her eyes. “How did you even do that?”

He caught up to her, fully-clothed, and then they started walking again. “I dunno.”

She sighed, then looked up at the bright blue sky and fell silent.

A few moments later, Lucy spoke up again. “Hey, Gray.”


“I know why I don’t know about Natsu disappearing every year on this day.”

“Yeah, why?”

“I was out of town with dad last year around this time. I came with him to a business convention.”


“Were you close with Lisanna-san too?”

“She was closest with Natsu. They did almost everything together.” Gray started. “She helped out on the bar so I got to work with her a lot while I was still doing part-time work there. She was a sweet girl, so everyone liked her, really.”

Lucy smiled wistfully. “Why… why did she die?”

“Car accident.” but he knew that she already knew that. Gray sighed, then finally said, “Actually, it was for Elfman. Lisanna pushed him out of the way. That should tell you how big of a blow that was for him.”

Lucy nodded.

“Why do you ask?”

“It’s just… she died so young, and it must’ve been hard for everyone.” Lucy looked down.

“It all hit us hard, really.” Gray shrugged. “She was the best of us. Never did wrong.”

“Natsu never told me about her.” she said. “He told me a lot of stories from when you were kids, but he never really said anything about Lisanna-san. He just told me that she was your friend and that she died. Even when I asked about Happy, he just said he and Lisanna-san found Happy together and he kept Happy after she died. No specifics.”

Gray glanced at his companion before answering. “Yeah, he does that. We all thought he was the one who moved on fastest. He acted pretty normally after the accident, but whenever we mention Lisanna, he’d tense up and change the subject.”


“I don’t know. That’s Natsu for you. Besides, he and Lisanna always had their own little world when they were together. Maybe he just doesn’t want to share that.”

Lucy sighed. “…Yeah.”

Gray looked at her and chuckled. “Hey, why the long face? You getting uneasy because there used to be another girl in his life?”

Lucy pouted. “No, of course not!”

“Then why do you look like that?”

“Look like what?”

“Look like someone broke up with you or something.”

“I don’t!”

“You do.”

“Stop it, I’m just-…”


She stopped walking. “Gray, you don’t think I’m… I’m her replacement, do you?”

He was a few steps ahead of her when he stopped walking as well. Gray looked at the girl with his mouth open. “N-No..” he trailed off helplessly, but seeing her look down, Gray followed that up with a firmer “No, of course not! Where… where did you get that?”

“It’s just… the way you all talk about her…” Lucy said. “Always with Natsu, comes over to play with him and Happy, friends with the rest of you guys, and… and that Igneel treats her like his own daughter already… that’s… if you look at that now, that’s… that’s me.”

Gray looked away and scratched his head. She had a point. While he never really saw Lucy as Lisanna’s replacement, it was true that it was like she had indeed taken a vacant spot in their circle of friends. She was the person who took the place of the girl who held Happy while sitting beside Natsu. And Gray knew — that place… that place used to be Lisanna’s.

“I know I’m being unreasonable, but I can’t help it, now that I’ve heard all those. What if… what if I hung out with Natsu so much and…— That was how it was with him and Lisanna-san back then, right? What if everyone else just decided to treat me like how they used to treat her?

“Maybe I’m just being shallow. Of course I’m not her — she sounds so much better. But… you know, I can’t help but feel… a little-… So… you don’t think anyone feels that way about me, right?”

“Geez.” Gray grunted, then walked towards her and slung an arm around her shoulders before starting to walk again, leading her with him. “You’ve got a point there, ’kay? But — well, this goes for me and just me — you’re an addition, not a sub. Got it?”

“I know. I know you guys don’t really see me like that, but… well I got a little paranoid—”

“That’s justified. No one ever really told you about all this before and now it’s all comin’ down on you.”

She nodded, surprised that Gray was making sense — well, he can be a sensitive guy, but most of the time he competes with Natsu on terms of being dense. “Y-Yeah.”

“I think you shouldn’t be worried about that, really. For the most part, I mean. All of us have already moved on when you came, so we really never compared you with Lisanna. Even Mira. I’d like to think that we managed to stand in for Lisanna in her eyes, somehow. When Lisanna died, she treated us like how she would treat her little sister. I think she took us in to fill the gap that Lisanna left behind. So you don’t have to worry about that, too.” the raven-head explained. “But I have no idea when it comes to Natsu. Lisanna was special for him. We never saw him really cry over her, or even move on from her, but that’s because he keeps that to himself. So if you’re worried about how he really feels about you, you better ask him yourself.”

Lucy nodded again.

“Look, I’ll be realistic here but I can be wrong, alright? I’m not sure if he’s not using you to replace Lisanna. But that’s really just because I can’t read him when it comes to these things. He’s a nutjob and he keeps things bottled up, but I think… I think if it’s you, you just have to ask.”

“Why me?”

Gray breathed deeply before saying, “Sub or not, Lucy, he loves you.”

She paused. “No, wait-… We’re not—”

“I don’t care if you two are going to deny or whatever but it’s clear as daylight, dude. If you ask, he’ll answer. I’m sure about that at least.”

She kept silent.

He ruffled her hair and smirked. “Hey, cheer up.”

“Why do you have to single him out?”

Gray let go of her and shrugged. “Because I know you’ll worry about him the most.”

She raised an eyebrow and to Gray, she almost looked defensive. “What do you mean by that?”

He sighed. “Argh. Talking to both of you is tiring.”

Lucy stopped walking and looked at him accusingly. “Hey!”

He kept walking and simply sang, “Lucy and Natsu, sitting on a tree—”


Just Lucy stepped forward to give him a friendly bonk on the head, Gray began to run.

When Elfman got home, it was a little past lunchtime. Mira was in a phonecall with their parents. Elfman simply left his bags on his bedroom and stood by the doorway as he watched his sister talk to their mom and dad.Their parents, as usual, asked them how they were doing, if they closed the shop for the day and if they were going to visit their little sister’s grave. Mira answered them with her usual cheerful answers: they were doing fine, yes they closed up shop for the day, yes they were going to visit Lisanna. They then proceeded to ask specifics about the bar: Was the place really packed yesterday? Are the employees doing fine? How about their patrons?Elfman had always thought that it would be Lisanna who would carry on with the bar. Mira was too busy fighting, and he was too timid with no real direction in life, but Lisanna loved their business and from an early age, helped their parents with the bar enthusiastically. When she grew up, she wanted to be just like their mother — a good barmaid who was well-loved by their patrons.It didn’t surprise them when, as Mira graduated from high school, she told them that she had no plans for college. It had been clear from the start of her senior year, anyway.

What surprised them was that Mira said that she was content with helping out in the bar. She told their parents to let her work on it full-time… that she would be willing to just help their family out with their business.

Their parents understood that she was still bearing the guilt of what happened with Lisanna, and that maybe it was for the best that Mira stay in the bar, where their patrons really knew her and made her feel comfortable — where she knew that her family was intact and that they accepted her. Maybe she really just wasn’t ready to go away somewhere, where she would be a stranger to everything. Granted, if she went away for university or a college somewhere else, no one would know her or her past, but it would be the fact that she “ran away” that would eat at her. They understood that she wanted to stay in a place where, even when she felt guilty, there were people who accepted her.

They didn’t expect her to be so focused on her tasks. Soon, when she wasn’t working on the floor or in the bar, she was helping her father with the managerial work… papers, accounts, inventory, budgeting… She had always been a smart student and a fast learner, so she got the hang of everything quickly.

A few more months and the Strauss parents weren’t the only ones in charge of the place. Their eldest daughter knew the ins and outs of their business well enough. Mira used the bar as a distraction, to forget about the bad things that happened and in turn she was doing an exceptional job on it because of all the work she was putting in.

She was at a loss when her parents decided to pass on the responsibility to her so that they could open up a new branch. At first, it was just her father who left to work full-time on their other branch, and then as soon as Mira got the hang of being the one fully in-charge, her mother left, as well.

Mira struggled for the first few months. Elfman had to help her out a lot. Their veteran employees and even their part-timers had to double their efforts on particular days when Mira wasn’t at her best, but they all assured her that they’ve got her back. Even their patrons never failed to give her encouragement. Mira was quick to get back on track because of all the support — it was only then that she realized just how much her parents have put into this bar and exactly why Lisanna loved their business so much. It was an extended family, and now that she was in charge, Mira knew that there was no backing down.

In her delinquent days, Mira picked fights because she was strong — she knew she would win. Now, being left with the family business, she realized that she had to show a different kind of strength. It was still a battle, she knew — just a different kind, maybe.

As Elfman listened to the conversation between his family, he thought that if they didn’t have the bar, maybe their family would have just broken apart years ago, just after Lisanna’s death. If their parents were just regular employees on different jobs, if Mira didn’t have the family business to keep herself focused, if they didn’t have something that they could all work on together… maybe they would have just fallen apart.

“Elfman?” Mira called, pulling her brother back to the present. “You want to talk to mom and dad?”

The young man smiled and nodded, then finally stepped forward to join the conversation.

They left the house soon after, finally heading for their little sister’s grave.

When Mira and Elfman reached the cemetery, they found two familiar figures sitting by their sister’s gravestone.Natsu was setting up a bunch of flowers on a glass bottle, while Happy was resting just below the tombstone, curiously watching the pink-haired boy’s struggle. Natsu was cursing lightly at how flowers were a bother, and that he didn’t know why in the world girls liked them so much.Elfman and Mira stood still, a reasonable distance from the boy and his cat. Elfman was about to approach and greet his friend, but Mira held on to his arm and gestured him to wait.Natsu was absently talking, as if Lisanna was just in front of him.

“So as I was sayin’, those kids are really annoying, y’know? They’re askin’ me all about the place and everythin’. I swear that orphanage just popped up in there. I didn’t know they were… going to bulldoze the place and just drop a school in there. That wasn’t there last year.

“Guess what, they’ve completely renovated our base. There’s tables and chairs and tiny pots and everything. And… well… your flowers were gone. They cemented the place for the playground. Dunno why the heck they’ll do that when it’s better to play by the grass…

“Then their teacher found me and asked me if I knew anythin’ about the mini cave, and… well, I said it was ours. She was a really nice lady, though. I think she felt bad that she let the kids just mess with it, but I told her it’s okay. Well, she’s really really really nice but DAMN, she talked all day, man! I kinda get it that she’s all happy about their new place and the kids and all, but she really talked a lot. Good thing she invited me for lunch. I helped her out a bit by tellin’ her about the town, so… yeah. Point is, I’m really late.”

Natsu chuckled a bit, pulling Happy away from the flowers he just set up because the cat was already trying to paw on the makeshift vase.

“That’s ’cause I was really surprised by that orphanage and all those kids and the really delicious lunch that the nice lady served us. She really felt bad about our cave, y’know? But I just told her that you’d love what the kids did with it anyway. I think you’ll just be glad that there’s an orphanage there ’cause that means less homeless children, right? Or something. Just… I thought you’d really… love that place more now.

“That doesn’t change the fact that they cemented your flowers, though — thankfully they didn’t do anything to the flower field downhill, so… I had to go there to fetch your god-forsaken flowers. I lost Happy in the process — I know you’ll say I’m not takin’ good care of him but hey, he’s hyper ’cause for some reason he found catnip so he was unstoppable.”

Natsu stroked the cat absently and Happy purred against him, curling up on his lap.

“But hey, I still got your flowers. And the kids helped me find Happy so it’s not all that bad. I guess they’re good kids, although they kept teasin’ me ’bout my hair. For shit’s sake, it’s not pink! It’s salmon! Like the fish!

“And… well, that. That’s the story of why I’m late and why the flowers are all messed up and stuff. But they’re your favorite, so… I guess I’m forgiven. Kinda.”

Natsu scratched his head gingerly and then leaned back, falling silent and just simply staring at the tombstone in front of him.

Mira and Elfman smiled at each other softly. Elfman cocked his head, indicating that they should just approach the boy, and Mira nodded.

Before they could take another step, though, Natsu spoke up again.

“Y’know, I think… I think I won’t be able to give you the same flowers next year.” — then, it was followed by a chuckle. “They told me they were planning to build a farm there. It’s kinda sad that they’ll be sweeping the flower fields, but they said that the land was bought by some rich sponsor or something and they thought they could use it best if they plant some crops to save up on the money for the food for the children, and I thought — yeah, that’s for the best. You’d like that too, if you were here. You’d tell them to go ahead and do it. ’Cause it’s for those homeless kids. So… no more of your flowers from there, I think. Maybe I’ll just have to buy from Droy’s next year.

“I also told them that they could do whatever they want with the cave… It’s not like I go there everyday, like how we used to go there to play when we were kids. I think it’s… it’s good to just give that to them. Y’know, no one else ever really knew about that. It was our secret, right? Pinky promise and all that, but… Well, it felt good… giving them that. Ya know, at first I thought: As if the flowers weren’t enough, they’re taking that away from me too? Those were… you know, ours. Just ours, right? And I gave ’em all away in one go. So now I think… there’s nothing left that’s just for you and me. Like, those were the only things that I knew about ’ya and everyone else didn’t, and now they’re not mine anymore.

“But that’s for the best, too. ’Cause I get to know that I don’t really need them to know that we had something… something good. Together. Like, I can give those away and not forget you, right?

“And hey, besides the fact that next year I won’t be able to bring you the flowers you really want, there’s somethin’ else I have to say ‘sorry’ for.”

Mira and Elfman listened as the boy breathed deeply before continuing.

“I’m sorry, I guess I can’t make you my bride after all.” Natsu laughed guiltily. “I know, we pinky swore on that and everythin’… but… yeah. Just so you know, I haven’t had a reason to break that promise until just recently. I still think you’d be perfect. It’s just that… for some time now, there’s someone…”

They could tell that Natsu was struggling with his words by the fact that he was squirming a bit.

“There. Someone that makes me realize that perfect’s not what I’ve really been lookin’ for. I don’t know when it started, actually… but… I know I don’t want it to end anytime soon. Not sure if it’s the L thing yet, but it’s close. I think. I’m not good at this stuff, but ’ya know that already.”

Happy looked up at him and Natsu smiled down at his cat, before he threw his head back and looked up at the sky, saying, “Damn. I could just see your face right now, man. You’d be poutin’ and sayin’ that I’m a jerk for not keepin’ my promise. But really, you’re not angry, right? You’re actually thinkin’ it’s sweet. And heck, if you were still here, I just know you’ll be the one putting free drinks on that bet pool.”

“Just end the bets already!”

Natsu jumped, startled as he turned around and found Mira walking towards him, with Elfman in tow. The pink-head pouted. “Oi, how long have you guys been there?”

Mira smoothly came up with a white lie. “Fortunately for us, we got to hear the part about the broken pinky promise…”

Natsu huffed. “Yeah, well, not givin’ anyone a clue. And how d’you know who I was talkin’ about?”

“’Cause there really isn’t anyone else, duh?” Mira said.

“Ehhhh, you guys are so sure that it’ll be so fun to prove you wrong.”

“But will you?”

“That’s a secret.” Natsu said, looking back at Lisanna’s grave and then saying, in a stage whisper, “Y’know, Lisanna, you’d think your sister has given up on the bullying thing, but I actually think she’s more dangerous now.”

“I kinda agree.” Elfman said.

Mira simply smirked proudly. “I’m glad I haven’t lost my touch.”

The three of them laughed, while Happy looked at all of them curiously. Natsu then stood up and patted his pants, slinging his bag over his shoulders. “I think I should leave you guys alone now.”

“Thanks for visiting her, Natsu.” Mira smiled softly this time. Natsu gave her a fake salute. “I’m sure she’s happy to hear whatever good news you brought.”

“Of course she is.” Natsu said, grinning.

“See you around, man.” Elfman said.

Natsu simply nodded at the guy and pat his arm, before walking away. Happy followed his master obediently after receiving a pat on the head from Mira. The siblings watched as the boy and the cat made their way outside the cemetery.

Elfman laid the bouquet of flowers on the grave, right beside Natsu’s hand-picked ones. The flowers from Natsu were white daisies. They recognized the flowers as the ones that Lisanna used to take home and place on the center of their dining table when she was a child, going home after a whole day of playing with her friends. For the past years, whenever Mira and Elfman went to visit the grave, they already saw the same flowers there, but they never got ahold of Natsu before.

Mira listened when Elfman crouched in front of their sister’s grave and, just like Natsu, started talking in front of the tombstone as if Lisanna was right in front of him. Elfman asked about how Lisanna was doing, but said that she was probably doing alright, wherever she was. Then, he started talking about him, the bar, their friends…

It wasn’t what people would expect but on their yearly visits, Mira usually kept silent, while Elfman did the talking.

Mira was thinking about what she heard from Natsu. There was something that he held at “theirs” — just his and Lisanna’s, and he had given those away because he knew they were just things that he was holding on to for assurance that they indeed had something special together, and because he also knew that Lisanna would be happier that way, anyway.

She also thought about how Natsu finally admitted that Lisanna was gone and that their promise was futile anyways… For a moment, Mira thought that she should probably feel that Natsu shouldn’t forget her sister that easily… He made a promise, and for all they knew, Lisanna indeed loved him more than anything… But then Mira also understood that there was no use for that now. They had all moved on, Natsu much later than what they all thought, but he moved on nicely, from what Mira had just heard. To be honest, she didn’t expect that Natsu was still holding on to Lisanna that way, but there had been a proper closure. Natsu had done well.

Now it was Mira’s turn to question herself — has she really moved on? Yes, they were doing well — she just told Laxus about that, and the blonde agreed with her. But did she really ever let her sister go?

What about the guilt?

Mira changed for the better because it was what she thought she should do. She was guilty — everything was her fault, she always thought, and everyone suffered for it. Everyone lost Lisanna. So wasn’t it natural that she try to make up for that? She became what everyone needed: her sister. Her parents lost the child that was most enthusiastic about their business — then Mira decided to put her all into it. Lisanna’s friends lost the best of them, the person they all knew understood them unconditionally — so Mira turned into their counselor. Elfman missed the gentle, loving sister he had, so Mira became that for him. Lisanna wanted to grow her hair out, so Mira didn’t cut her own.

For the case with Natsu, it was still no different. When they all started to notice that there might be something between Natsu and Lucy with the way they were always together talking, laughing, taking care of Happy and just basically doing everything together, Mira thought that finally, Natsu has found someone. Yes, it was really reminiscent of how Lisanna and Natsu were, but Lisanna would never think that she was replaced. She would know that no matter how similar the situations were, there ought to be something different. Natsu surely saw something else. So instead, Mira urged them together — Mira rooted for them, because that was what Lisanna would have done. “She’s not me, but if you love her, you should go for her.” — Mira knew that her sister would have chosen that.

Watching her brother speaking peacefully to the name in the tombstone, Mira felt a heavy feeling settle within her.

To make up for everything she did, she lived her sister’s life for her. The long hair let down gracefully, the gentle understanding smile, her comforting presence around the bar, the long graceful dresses and even the special regard for that one young man… Mira threw away her old self to become her sister.

At this point, she thought — when did she lose herself? Did anyone else notice? The changes were gradual, but people would’ve seen them, surely.

So… when?

“Elfman…” she called gently, making her brother pause in his little storytelling.

The young man looked up.

“Elfman, do you think… do you think I’ve done well, changing for her?”


“Because…” Mira looked down, trembling. “Because, well… you see… suddenly I’ve got the feeling that… I’ve tried too hard to live for Lisanna, that… that I may have lost who I really am, because I’m too focused on being who she could have been.”

As Mira brought a hand to her mouth and started crying silently, she felt her brother’s hand grip her free one.

Elfman smiled. “You didn’t lose who you really are, nee-chan. If you understand why you changed and you still know yourself after, that means you’ve lost nothing, right?”

Mira stared back at him.

“And… and I… I think it doesn’t matter to Lisanna if you changed or not… I think she just wants you to be happy. We all do. As long as you changed so you could be happier, I think it’s fine.”

Mira knew that he meant it. Yes, she had quit being her old brash and violent self because it was what cost them Lisanna. She didn’t want to take it further — who knows who it could cost her next? She began to look around and work hard because it made her forget her guilt… It made her think for a while that yes — maybe it wasn’t her fault after all.

And then she actually started being kinder, gentler… softer… more open, more accepting. She actually started changing herself not entirely because that’s what they all needed, but also because she needed it as well.

She needed to be kinder so she could forgive herself and gentler so she could overlook her flaws and look at them as challenges. Mira finally realized that not everything she did was for Lisanna, after all. Maybe she was doing that for herself as well, because maybe changing was her way of teaching herself how to finally love herself.

“Are you happy, nee-chan?”

Mira tearily nodded, gripping her brother’s hand tighter. “Yes. Yes, I am.”

“Then we’re happy too, because that’s what matters for us.”

When she learned to love herself, when learned to accept — maybe that was when the others began to love her too. When they knew that she could accept what they give without any doubts.

Mira looked at her sister’s grave again and smiled lightly.

She understood now. It was funny that it took years — that it took seeing how almost everyone had changed so much, that she finally asked herself who she had changed herself for.

“Besides,” Elfman continued, “I know that nee-chan is kinder now, but… I also think that you’re much stronger than… than how you used to be.”

Mira let go of her brother’s hand and embraced him, whispering a small, “Thanks, I needed that.” before burying her face in his shoulder.

Yes, Mira thought. She should have known that. She should have known the best thing she got from changing her ways. When people feel sadness, it does make them kinder, but it doesn’t mean that they’ve turned weaker. She had known, when she started to accept the responsibilities her parents entrusted to her, that there were different kinds of strength.

She had always thought that she summoned that strength because of sheer determination, because it was for Lisanna and because she was afraid of failing other’s expectations. She haven’t realized until now that it was something she gained for loving herself and accepting that others loved her as well.

It was funny, Mira thought again — she prided herself for learning how to be sensitive because she cared about her family and friends, but damn — they all beat her to this one.

“Nee-chan…” Elfman said, rubbing his sister’s back. All these years, his sister had stayed gentle and cheerful in front of the others, remembering Lisanna with a small sad smile on her face and taking care of everyone. It didn’t occur to him that she still doubted herself sometimes, but then his sister was still human, and he knew that it was alright to be weak sometimes. The most important thing was that they have all learned how to stand up after falling down.

When Natsu and Happy came in through Lucy’s bedroom window, the blonde was lying on her bed, flipping boredly through a volume of a shounen manga she evidently must have borrowed from Gajeel.“Yo.” he greeted, grinning his usual silly grin and setting Happy down on the floor.Lucy didn’t sit up as she looked back at him, putting down her latest read. “Hey. What’s up?”“Eh, Luigi, you’re being weird…” Natsu said, raising an eyebrow. “You’re not mad at me for using the window anymore?”

“Nah, I’m feeling too sleepy to bother scolding you.” she yawned, shifting to her side to look at him properly. “Where were you? Gray and I had lunch together at the Dragon but you weren’t there.”

“I went to visit Lisanna.” was the answer he gave her.

Lucy blinked at how easy that was. Gray was right — she only had to ask. She watched as Natsu took his shoes off and dumped his backpack on the floor before slumping on the bed beside her. Happy followed soon after and silently curled up against Lucy’s chest.

Natsu smiled at her again, and it made Lucy blink. “W… What?”

“Nothing.” he said, closing his eyes and relaxing against the bed. “Ah, your bed really is the best~”

“If the others hear you, they’d freak out.”

“Don’t care. Doesn’t change the fact that I like this bed. Your bed in the big house was too… soft and princess-y. The curtains were too girly, too.”

Lucy rolled her eyes and was about to say a retort when Natsu leaned forward tucked his head under her chin, pressing his forehead against her collarbone, effectively trapping Happy between them as well. She ended up face to face with a mop of pink hair. The blonde simply chuckled and asked, “What’s up with you?”

He shook his head, tickling her a little bit. “Nothing. Why were you out with Icebutt?”

“He needed some advice for dinner with Juvia’s mom.”

“Hmmm… Why, he’s scared he’ll mess it up?”

“You’ll understand when you finally get to be in his shoes.” Lucy said.

Natsu looked up and her and grinned mischievously. “I didn’t say I don’t understand.”

Lucy raised an eyebrow. “Really now?”

He avoided her look and buried his face against Happy’s fur again. “Not telling.”

The young woman sighed and simply let him be. Instead, she raised a hand and stroked his hair. “Hey, Natsu?”


“Is that really all that you did? You visited Lisanna-san?”

“Why’re you askin’?”

“Well, I was curious. I didn’t think you’d spend the whole day in there.”

“I was on a trip with Happy.”


“See, we don’t want to give her the usual flowers from the shops. So we went to pick Lisanna’s flowers.” Natsu pulled away and laid on his back, staring at the ceiling, while Lucy watched him. “When we were kids, we had a secret hideout. It’s just for me and Lisanna and Happy. It’s this li’l cave somewhere… and there was a field of flowers in front of it. She took care of those flowers and all, so every year, I thought I’d leave those flowers for her since she loved them so much.”

Lucy smiled lightly.

“This is the last year I’ll be giving her those flowers, though.”

“Why?” the blonde blinked.

“I came this morning and… well, there’s a new building there. An orphanage, and her flowers were gone. Our cave was different now, too. I had to go somewhere else to get the same flowers, but that place would be gone, too — but it’s for the orphanage kids, so no bad feelings there.”

“What about next year?”

“Maybe I’ll just buy from Droy’s. Pretty sure he can stock up some white daisies if I asked nicely.”

“So that’s it? That’s what you’ve been up to?”

“Yeah.” Natsu looked at her. “Ya missed me?”

She shrugged. “It’s more fun when we’re together.”

He faced her again and grinned teasingly. “So ’ya do?”

“Do what?”

“Miss me.”

She chuckled. “Do you want to hear it that badly?”

Natsu shook his head and went back to his previous position, head tucked just under his best friend’s chin. “Not really.”

“You know, Gray and Igneel were telling me how close you were with Lisanna-san. Gray told me everyone loved her very much—”

“She’s not that perfect, y’know.” he said.

“Gray said she was the best. He said she was nice and sweet and everything…”

Natsu breathed deeply and thought of that bit, before finally saying — “Lisanna can be really… jealous and stuff. Sometimes she clings too much and she’s mighty possessive when it comes down to it, but she usually realizes that quickly and she knows when to stop. Sometimes she gets too dreamy it’s already annoying, y’know? Like… She thinks everything can still turn out to be a fairy tale thing and looking back at that now, she really was hoping for the impossible ’cause there’s no way I’ll ever be prince charming or knight-in-shining armor. I’m a fire dragon.”

Lucy laughed. “You are.”

“But that’s just her. We love her for all the negatives too. I mean, what kind of friends are we if we can’t except the bad stuff right? She makes up for it anyway. Sometimes she’s too kind to the point that she hurts herself trying to do something for other people. And y’know, she only gets jealous and clingy when she really thinks that you’d be better off without the other person. I think everyone remembers her as perfect ’cause she died too young to have messed anything up. She didn’t get the chance to be… bad… at anything, you see. If she had any defect, I think we forgave that easy ’cause she was too young when she… yeah.”

The blonde nodded. “So… she was nice and sweet and kind.”

“Yeah, but she was hard to deal with sometimes, although I got used to that. We were kids. Kids are hard to deal with. Hey, ya wanna know something?”

“Try me.”

“I promised her I’d marry her when we grow up. And I meant it.”

She fell silent.

“But I can’t, and I have to break that ’cause… I won’t get hung up over her like that… For me, she’ll always be fourteen and dreamy and all that… See, the Lisanna I remember, she was still hoping she’d be a princess with her prince and there will be no one else, and they’d marry and be a happy family… And back then, I also thought that it sounds boring but it sounds happy and good so if we could have that… Why not, right? But she left us just like that, and we never got to know what coulda happened if she stayed with us. I’ve grown up and messed up and…” he trailed off, before looking at his companion with a serious expression. “Okay, swear you won’t laugh..?”

“I swear I won’t laugh.”

“Well, I stopped wanting to have my own princess.”

Lucy snorted.

He blinked cautiously. “Don’t laugh. You promised.”

She broke that easily, bursting out in laughter.

Natsu sat up and looked at her accusingly. “Hey!”

“I-I-I’m sorry!” — she managed to say in between giggles. “It’s just… you’re so-… ahahahahah!”

“LUIGI!” Natsu complained. Geez — he opens up for once and she laughs at him! Some kind of friend she was. “Dammit, I’m going away—”

“No no no, don’t go!” She tugged at his sleeve and he looked back at her, pouting. “Hey, I was just surprised, okay?”

“It’s not funny.”

“I know. It’s actually very sweet. Come back here.”

Grudgingly, he laid beside her again. Lucy ruffled his hair and Natsu tried his best to look angry.

“I told Gray that I felt like a replacement for Lisanna-san and he basically scolded me.”

Natsu huffed. “I’m not even going to ask you how the heck you got that idea but how the heck did you get that idea?”

Lucy laughed again. “That’s just me being emotional. Forget it.”

“No, really, Luce. You’re not a replacement.”

“But do you want her back?”

“It would be a lot more fun if she was still here, yeah.” he shrugged. “But somehow I’m glad she’s not here with us anymore.”


“She was perfect, right? At least everyone remembers her as that, and that was what she always dreamed to be, you see. Lisanna wanted to keep on being loving and gentle and everything until the end…” Natsu recalled that with a small smile. “And well, look at us now. We all got problems, heck last month I think Levy and Jet and Droy had a row or something. Imagine that, right? And… the point is, when we grew up, sometimes we feel that we fail at everything, or that we’re not good enough, or that nobody loves us, or that we hate ourselves, or that we just don’t know what to do with our lives… Heck, I haven’t even talked to Igneel about what to do after high school… Everything’s complicated and shit. Right?”

Lucy’s expression softened at hearing those words. She nodded softly.

Natsu breathed deeply. “So I guess I’m glad that she never got to be what she didn’t want to be? Never got to feel as shitty as the rest of us. Never got hurt or had to make these crazy choices. I know it’s all part of growin’ up and stuff, and that she can probably handle all those shit better than the rest of us, but… it’s still kind of… comforting… that I know she won’t have to go through all of it. Kind of like that, if ’ya get me.”

“I get you.” she said softly.

“Good.” Natsu said, then looked at her. “I don’t get you, though. You’re weird. Also, asking me that is like asking me to choose between what coulda been and… and now.”

“And you choose ‘now’?”

Natsu shrugged again. “‘Now’ is awesome. Why change anything? Now I’m in your bed and it’s a great bed, and I sure as hell don’t want to trade this.”

Lucy smiled lightly as she nodded at his answer. Really, what else did she expect? Natsu always made things sound so simple. They were happy now, so why want something else? Things were over and everything is working out fine so far with no real challenges in the future, so why ask for an alternate route?

She simply agreed with him. “Yeah — now’s awesome.” — and somehow she didn’t know why she felt like a heavy burden have been lifted from her chest.

The thing about loss, Natsu thought, is that it makes people choose. For Elfman, it made him choose if he wanted to die instead of Lisanna, or if he could live with the fact that he was living and his sister wasn’t. For Mira, she chose between running away from the truth or staying and changing, living with it. For Cana, she told them herself: she had to choose between thinking that she didn’t regret letting go of Lisanna’s hand that day, or thinking that she did, choosing the possibility that Elfman wouldn’t have made it alive.

For Natsu, he had to choose if he preferred the fact that Lisanna was gone and Lucy was with him, or that Lisanna had lived and… will anything change?

The thing about loss making people choose, Natsu decided, is that no matter what choice you make, things wouldn’t change. They had lost already — the best they could do is not to lose any more.

Natsu looked at his best friend’s smile before snuggling closer. Happy mewled his complaints at being squished, but Natsu knew that the cat liked it anyway. He was glad that Lucy let him hold her close — and that they could do this without any complications, just the simple knowledge that they like the feeling of being with each other.

This reaffirmed his choice — he really liked the ‘now’, when he knows Lucy and knows how much she meant to him, than if things were different, because he would have no idea how the blonde girl before him would play a part in his life.

“Hey, Elf?” Mira said as they were just making their way out the cemetery.“Yes, nee-chan?”“Don’t you think closing up the bar for a whole day feels so… sad and boring?”Elfman blinked, looking at his sister. Mira had stopped crying and was smiling a bit. “…Uh, not really?”

“There are always those bad customers, but it always feels happier when other people are around…”

“Maybe you just got too used to it… Don’t you want to catch a break once in a while, nee-chan? Don’t you feel tired working everyday without a break?”

True, their parents sometimes complained and they occasionally took a day-off or two.

Mira took that into consideration and simply laughed gingerly. “Ah, maybe it’s just because I’m still young…”

“It is. If you tire yourself out too much, it could be bad.”

“…So what do you think?”

“What do I think about what?”

Mira paused and looked at her brother with a smile. “Let’s open up the shop.”

Elfman laughed and scratched his head. “Nee-chan, it’s 6 PM…”

Her smile didn’t change.

“Wait, no, seriously?”

Mira pouted a bit, thinking, before saying. “Or let’s not do that…” He was about to sigh in relief when she continued, “Let’s just throw out a party!”


“Not really a full out party, but, you know, a few drinks with friends? I know that Raijinshuu is in town — that’s four people already! And Cana-chan wouldn’t decline free booze…”

Elfman was at a loss. “Nee-chan…?”

“No, really, let’s do it.”

With a smile like that, Elfman really couldn’t say ‘no’ to his sister.

Cana had just sent Gray off to Juvia’s with a sincere ‘good luck’ (because she knew he needed it, and hey, she’s not THAT much of a heartless best friend) when she received the message from Mira.The brunette blinked down at the message and had to read it three times before she smirked.It was high time that Mira moved on. Cana was proud of her for that. She forwarded the message to several people before getting dressed and leaving the house.Seems like her lazy Sunday isn’t over yet.

The bar was already in a rowdy mood when the Raijinshuu arrived. Mira and Elfman were working on the counter and serving free drinks to Macao, Wakaba and Makarov — who were all chatting up the barmaid cheerfully. Cana was helping them out too, but when she saw that Gajeel and Mystogan had teamed up in teasing Jellal about Erza (who was just on her way, based on her last text), she promptly joined in. On the same table were Natsu, Lucy, Levy, Jet and Droy. Alzack, Bisca, Laki, Max and Warren were on the other table, simply enjoying the ruckus from a (sorta) safe distance.Laxus and the band headed to greet Mira and Elfman first. “Just to make it all clear,” Laxus started, then jabbed a thumb towards Cana, who was raising a full glass of beer and had an arm slung around Gajeel’s shoulder to keep herself from falling off the table, “I’m not going to carry that girl home again.”The others on the bar laughed, while Mira said, “Don’t worry, Laxus. Gildarts said that his shift is almost over and that he’ll be with us soon.”They all heard a half-drunk shout of “I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU GUYS CALLED MY DAD!”

Elfman gaped, then whispered to his sister, “Don’t you think she should be more worried about the school principal who’s RIGHT HERE?”

“Oh, but…” Mira giggled. “Principal Makarov doesn’t seem to mind…”

Elfman turned to look at the obviously drunk old man who was laughing with Macao and Wakaba. “Oh.”

Yep, the principal doesn’t seem to mind.

He was distracted when Evergreen sat herself in the stool in front of him and offered a small smile. “Hey.”

Elfman blinked, before smiling back and greeting. “Hey. How was practice?”

Mira watched as her brother dropped what he was doing to listen to his girlfriend, then smiled to herself before looking around. In the highschoolers’ tables, it seems that Natsu and Levy had joined in practically harassing Jellal, while on another table, Laxus and Freed were silently drinking their beverages as Bixlow talked nonstop, complete with wild gestures and sound effects. The barmaid noted the blonde’s arm casually draped on the back rest of Freed’s seat and giggled.

She was cut off from her thoughts when Erza entered, Wendy in tow. “Sorry we’re late!” Erza said, but before Mira could reply, she saw her friends and paled. “Oh my God.”

Wendy watched blankly as the red-head stomped over the highschoolers’ tables and demanded order.

“What on Earth are you all doing…-? CANA, GAJEEL, YOU’RE DRUNK ALREADY! We have school tomorrow! SOMEONE TAKE THAT BROOM AWAY FROM MAX-… Jellal, are you alright? What did they do to you? Why are you holding both Happy and Lily? Your face is red-… SHUT UP, NATSU! Wait, where are Gray and Juvia?”

Natsu piped up, “Do you think if we talk about Gray, he’ll sneeze again and again and embarrass himsel—”

Lucy took it upon herself to hit him on the head with Levy’s book. She made sure to apologize to the blunette as she returned said book.

Mira laughed and simply called the girl still standing dumbfounded by the doorway. “Wendy-chan! Come here and let me make you a parfait…”

Soon, Igneel and Romeo also arrived and sat beside the drinkers on the bar, Romeo taking the seat between Wendy and his half-drunk father. They said Yajima-san and Gildarts were coming over as well.

Sounds of shuffling from the stage caught all their attentions and they all looked to see Laxus sitting on a chair, holding his guitar and setting the amp, while Freed adjusted the microphone.

“LEMME SING!” — that came from Gajeel, to which everyone on the table yelled “NO!” and pulled him back down to his seat.

Laxus chuckled and then accepted the mic that Freed handed him. “I’m sorry, Ironbutt — but this is Mira’s concert.”

There was a general cheer in the audience as Laxus stood up and offered the guitar to the startled barmaid, who was hugging a tray to her chest as if it was a shield.

“Wha-… Me? I can’t!” then the tray was taken from her and she looked at her brother dumbfounded. “Elf!”

“Go sing, nee-chan.” Elfman said with a small smile.

Evergreen had to drag the still struggling Mira towards the stage while the others rowdily cheered, “Mira! Mira! Mira!”

She finally sighed, accepting the guitar from Laxus. She looked at him with a mixture of amusement and defeat. “Damn you, Dreyar.”

The blonde huffed. “Couldn’t beat me if you tried, Strauss.”

Mira made a gesture of shooing him off the stage before she sat in the chair and leaned towards the microphone as she announced, “If anybody complains about my singing, I’m gonna ask them to pay for their drinks!”

That only seemed to liven up the audience even more.

As she sang, she thought to herself that it has been a really great day.

Chapter Notes:

Things that are hard to write: dead!Lisanna, serious!Natsu and conflicted!Mira. The chapter is basically my own interpretation of the relationships before and after Lisanna. She’s an underrated (and often hated) character whom I love and I hope I did her justice.


The next chapter is mostly a breather.

And I swear I won’t get to 20k words this time. ^^)V

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