The sky was gray in all directions and covered with heavy clouds. Probably it would rain soon, but still everything was dry and the weather would hopefully hold also something. A sharp, cold wind whistled from the east, whirling the fresh autumn leaves. The flowers bowed their colorful heads under the strong gusts, but all the colors seemed to be covered and dull, as the right light was missing, which colored this time of the year golden.
Juvia would not know of any other weather that would reflect her mood as precisely as this. Cloudy, but not completely rainy, that it was depressed, or so icy cold that the air rattled. The real pain had already subsided, only a slight throb, like a background noise, which, however, would never really disappear.
She reinforced the handle around the oval basket with the zinnias in it, yellow and pink and red, in between the bright green of the leaves. Why are you bringing flowers, rain-woman? What am I supposed to do with it ?!, she could hear Gajeel’s mocking voice in her thoughts. Excuse me …! Sentimental woman. Under the harsh tone and scorn, however, she could hear the affection and grin. The flowers would nevertheless be faded and dried up within a week.
Juvia, however, did not let herself be disturbed, she brought flowers with her at every visit. Zinnia liked her the most. She liked the meaning behind it – thoughts of an absent friend. That fit perfectly and she already knew that she could never see Zinnien again in a different context than in this one.
Perhaps she was indeed too sentimental. But who would complain?
Juvia lifted her head as she arrived at the familiar crossroads, and followed the cobblestone path that turned to the right. Now the wind hit her face and drove her blue hair back. She drew her basque cap more deeply in the forehead, and marched past the long row of tombs with firm steps. Her warm skirt, which reached her knees, danced around her legs and her steps sounded bright on the stone.
This path was familiar to her, and she wondered what that was saying about her. About Gajeel. About Gajeel and her.
She did not live far away, never had it over her heart to leave the city, since he was here and could not get away. Most of her friends had been looking elsewhere for happiness. Now and again she heard of Natsu and Lucy, who had a child, Erza and Jellal, who had invited her to her wedding, and Gray, who had become a successful architect, and Mirajane and Lisanna and Cana and all the others …
Only she was still here, but she liked it here, and she did not want to leave.
She could see the grave of her best friend from afar, which had found its place among the branches of an old oak. Gajeel would scoff at it, but Juvia liked it, for the big tree with its thick trunk and the heavy branches seemed as reliable and strong as him.
She liked to spend time under him and sit with him there, just so or with some music or a book. Sometimes it seemed to her that a part of his soul had passed into the tree, had been blown through the roots that dug into the same ground in which he lay. The thought gave her consolation, then she no longer felt so alone.
But today she would not be, she realized, surprised, and her steps were automatically slower as she became aware of the narrow figure. She needed only a moment to recognize the person, small and graceful as she was, and with a mop of confused, blue hair that fell to her shoulders.
In front of her was a Juvia well-known tombstone, a simple slab of black marble on which only Gajeel’s name and the two dates were to be read. There was also a basket of forget-me-nots and fall-leaves, which looked quite worn, a black dragon of scrap metal and a lantern in which a small candle burned and Juvia did not know.
The other visitor seemed to be lost in a world of her own, her shoulders drawn up, her arms folded in front of her body, and her head lowered. She did not move, not even as Juvia was only two meters away and finally a heart grabbed her voice.
“Le-Levy …?” She stuttered, and the other girl jerked and whirled around. Her brown eyes were huge and moist in her delicate face, but she had not cried. Her hair fell softly around her face and her cheeks were reddened by the cold, creating a sharp contrast to her otherwise pale skin. She seemed older, more adult.
Besides, she looked much better and healthier than the last time Juvia had seen her, and that alone gave her a good feeling in her. No black eye-rings, no gray skin, no dull, powerless hair. It had hurt to see someone who had been so important to Gajeel, who was also close to Juvia herself.
For a moment, Levy stared at the newcomer only in surprise, then she dyed even darker. “Juvia … I …” She cleared her throat. “I should have thought that you were.” She made a move to the old basket. “I hope it does not bother you that I have brought something with you.”
“No-no, of course not, Levy,” Juvia assured immediately, and stood next to the other woman to look down at the grave. The letters of his name were simple and angular, they had nothing elegant or light in themselves, just as Gajeel had been.
As always, when she was standing there, Juvia came to a deep melancholy, and sometimes she arose in the questions of why? and the What if ?. But today there was no room, not with the young woman next to her, whom Gajeel had meant so much, at least as much as Juvia, if not more. It was only in a completely different way and Juvia did not allow them. She was glad to find someone like Levy.
For a while they stood silent, together, affectionate, and mournful together. Then Juvia ripped out of the lethargy and went into the crouch to exchange the flower baskets. She flipped a few red and yellow-colored leaves from the stone that the wind had blown on, and tore out a plant that had spread its snares over it.
“How are you?” She asked, as she rose again.
Levy shrugged. “Better. Well, “she said honestly, but in her voice it was heard that she did not want to talk about it. “And you? I’ve heard that you’ve all been sitting here, I’m sorry … “
“It was Juvia’s own decision. They have offered Juvia more than once, even to find her a place to live and find a job, “she replied. She had never been able to accept these kindly offers, even after more than six years, which had now passed. “In addition, ‘all’ is exaggerated. Pantherlily is still there, we often meet for a drink, and Kinana. Besides, Juvia can also find new friends. “She took a deep breath and gave Levy a smile, a little trembling, but honestly. “Juvia is doing well.”
The other looked at her for a moment, then nodded. “That’s nice.”
Again silence fell between them, but as before, the silence was not unpleasant, more comradely. They had lost with Gajeel both those who were immeasurably important and irreplaceable. But they had overcome the mournful grief and lived on.
Levy was the first to raise her voice. “I should have stayed. With him and … “She paused, sniffed, wiped her nose with a handkerchief. “But it was all too much.”
Carefully, Juvia placed a hand on the other woman’s hand. “It’s OK. Juvia understands this. Everyone has to cope with something like this in his own way. Juvia just wanted it would never have been necessary. “
“And I only!” Levy sighed, pushing her hands into the pockets of her cloak, her gaze still pointing saddened to the name. Then she suddenly looked up again, a tiny smile playing around her lips. “I’m glad I met you,” she said. “Actually, I wanted to leave immediately, but it was good to see you again.”
Juvia returned the smile and pushed the basket she had placed on her hip higher so he did not fall. “Fand Juvia, too.” She licked her lips and wondered what she could say while she gave the others an almost shy smile. She was really looking forward to seeing Levy again, and she did not want to go back again as quickly as she could.
Finally she gave herself a jerk. Levy could not say more than ‘no’. “Do you still have time? Juvia knows a good bar nearby … “
~~ * ~~ ~~ * ~~ ❀
The Sabertooth was a small, cozy pub, located just off the main streets, with an authentic charm, which often took place at events and events. In the afternoon on a weekday, however, almost nothing was going on and even in the evening there was not an excessive amount of operation.
The two young women had nevertheless looked for a place a bit apart, which lay somewhat hidden in the rear area. First they had a meal, nothing extraordinary, but amazingly good for such a store. This was one of the reasons why Juvia would like to come here, either for a bite to eat when her home just fell on the head or with Pantherlily when they had visited Gajeel ‘s grave together, or simply for a girl’ s evening with Kinana and Meredy. So she knew the workforce quite well now and she felt at home here.
Before Gajeel’s death, it was a stinky pub, which had been a real annoyance for everyone in the surrounding area. But after the daughter of the then owner had taken it, she had developed into a popular meeting place in the neighborhood and the quality of food, drinks and entertainment was amazingly high and the staff was friendly and friendly.
Now coming with Levy too, felt right, and it was liberating to finally laugh again. Sometimes you did not realize when you missed something, because it had slipped so quietly and secretly out of your life as if it had never been there.
At first, they had brought each other up to date, as far as the mutual acquaintances were concerned. Of course, Levy had more to say in this area, for she’d spent the last two years in the city, where most of her other friends lived, somehow or other, who had drifted somewhere sooner or later.
Juvia was only able to report from Kinana, who Levy knew but hardly, and of course Pantherlily, whose daughter was now already in the third class. Gajeel had been her godfather and had pampered the little girl. She denied Levy the promise to visit her old friend before she returned to Magnolia.
After the meal, they had drunk a coffee and then had a second one, and finally had a dessert, as the conversation continued to spread. None of them wanted to get up and leave, to separate again. Juvia wanted to keep this intimacy between them a little longer, and keep the precious moment not so fast between the fingers.
Meanwhile, they were sitting side-by-side on the back bench, so as not to have to speak so loud. In this way, the tone of voice had been reduced to a trusting murmur, and they shared brief glances that were intended only for the other.
Finally, the conversation had turned to the long journey that Levy had begun after Gajeel’s death – to gain a new perspective, and perhaps to learn to come to terms with his final absence. She had obviously done it, but nothing and no one could take her the small, sad smile that lay on her face when she told of this time, about the experiences, the people she had met, and her long ascent the mourning. She had been in a bad, dark place, but this trip had helped her to find herself again.
So Juvia took only her hand and crossed Levy’s fingers with her own to hold on to her. Levy replied gratefully, but her gaze was fixed on the wine-glass, which she held delicately between her fingers. Then she just changed the subject.
After the dessert, they were swirled to alcohol. Only a bottle of wine, then various cocktails and meanwhile several glasses in front of them up and their mood had lifted itself again. The conversation still lay on Gajeel, but it was memories of him that they had preserved, experiences they had shared with him.
Perhaps it was also because they were no longer the only guests-people crowded in the bar-room, their laughter and their voices pressed to them, it was warm and friendly. Two waiters flashed between them, and behind the bar stood a bartender who was barely resting.
Nevertheless, Juvia, as if she and Levy were in her own world, felt as if separated by a glass bell, and she did not want it any other way. The intimacy between them was peculiarly intense, even though they had scarcely connected more than Gajeel. The mourning around him ironically brought them closer together, allowing them to understand each other better than anyone else could have done.
“… our first anniversary. He finally pushed the parcel into my hand and then he was davongstapft as if someone had mortally insulted him. “Levy just said and broke into a girlish giggle when she thought of the event.
Juvia could imagine the scene well and allowed himself a smile. Gajeel had always been a bit rude and too proud of his own well-being, so it was hard for him to be nice and attentive. Levy had very quickly understood how she was going to deal with him, which Juvia had always charged her. It had been hard to understand him, but they had somehow managed to speak his language.
Levy leaned back and scratched his nose. “I’m still wondering how he knew I wanted that book.”
Juvia hid her smile behind her glass. “Juvia told him,” she admitted.
Surprised, the other looked up. The lamps conjured flashes of light into their brown reptiles, and they raised their brows. For a brief shock moment, Juvia asked herself if she should have preferred to keep it to herself, not to destroy Levy’s beloved memory of him.
But then the little one allowed himself a half-grin and turned away with a head shake and a quiet laugh. “I could have guessed. He has always depended on you. “
Juvia sighed thoughtfully at her glass and leaned back. Her shoulder pressed against Levys and her hands were so close together on the bench that they could feel the warmth of each other. “Juvia has always depended on him.” She nodded her assent and raised the glass to her lips again.
Levy gave her a little push with her shoulder. “What do you think? It sounded as if you were thinking of something very specific. “
Juvia smiled wistfully and stretched out her arm to put the glass on the table without moving otherwise. She did not want to lose that warmth that seeped into her bones. “He has always protected Juvia since the orphanage. Even then, when she could do it herself. He always did as if it were just a coincidence, or as if he were just starting to argue with the guys Juiva annoyed with, but Juvia knew better. “She looked down at her shoes, low-cut lace-up boots. “And later … Well, he once said that he knows that Juvia does not need any protection, but that is still no reason to leave her to herself.”
“He always had a big heart. Even if he always hid it, this grumble. “Levy agreed, and now she sounded as though she’d just realized how big her loss was. She blinked hastily, but Juvia could see the tears in her eyelids from the nearness despite the unfavorable light conditions. She reached for her glass again, found that it was empty, and waved to the waiter, while Levy regained control.
The small ones wiped their eyes unobtrusively. “Wu-did you know that I was a little jealous of you at the beginning?” She said a little too fast, as if she could not wait to change the subject.
“On Juvia?” She shouted, puzzled. “But …” She stopped and frowned. This came very surprising for her. There had never been a reason for jealousy for Levy!
But before she could say anything, the waiter stood before them, a handsome young man with wild blond hair and sparkling blue eyes. “Shall I bring you anything else?” He glanced at the collection of glasses before them. “Or have you had enough?”
“We have more to do than it does!”, Levy instructed him sternly and Juvia grinned. “Sting, we remember Gajeel. This is allowed! He would not want that any other way. This is his girlfriend, Levy! “She said, somewhat enthusiastically.
The blue eyes flashed from her to her friend and back. Then he shrugged. “Okay, but I’ll collect all your car keys. You can pick them up again tomorrow. “He began to gather the glasses and deposit them on his tray. “What do you want?”
“Hmmm.” Juvia put his finger on his chin thoughtfully.
“Something sweet,” Levy interposed, and Juvia agreed, “Surprise us.” She fished her car keys out of the handbag and gave him no hesitation, while Levy was pushing something.
Juvia pushed her. “Levy can sleep at Juvia, no problem.”
“So well …” Even the little one now gave up her key and then threatened her friend with the finger. “But you better live nearby.”
Sting took the keys, picked up his tray, and disappeared with a short “to equal” again in the crowd. Juvia looked after him until Levy began giggling uncontrollably beside her. She boxed her bank neighbor with a pointed elbow against the ribs. “Gajeel would already be hacked. I mean, we’re no longer sober, but he just could not stand anything. “
“He did not like alcohol,” Juvia agreed with a slight smile. Behind, of course, there was a deeper reason, which they both knew about and which he had not liked to talk about. But he had never managed to build up any kind of tolerance, no matter how much it had annoyed him that almost everyone could drink it under the table. “Absolutely not.”
Levy giggled again and Juvia agreed as she remembered various situations with a drunken Gajeel. “Once he puked Juvia on the new shoes.” At that time, she had been very excited about it, but now she only laughed more.
Levy also found it immensely funny. “He also puked me. Not because of alcohol, but because he absolutely had to mark the strong man. “She smiled lovingly and still a little bit in love. “You know what problems he had with roller coasters.”, She gave a hint and Juvia teased her eyes and mouth.
“How … how did you manage to get him into one?” She told him, and she managed to get her facial features under control again.
Levy spread his hands. “As I said, he wanted to mark the strong man. Was one of our first dates. And then, as innocent as I was then, I said I wanted to ride a roller coaster. He just could not admit it was not for him. “
“Juvia can imagine that well …” she admitted, her eyes wandering thoughtfully to the side. It had been like him!
It was Sting who interrupted her when he brought her new drinks. Levy’s face brightened as she took the bulging glass with the colorful liquid. Juvia’s drink was clear, with a lime on the rim and genuine mint as an ornament. “Call me if you need anything else.” He said good-bye again and went over to another table.
Juvia picked up her drink and stirred with the straw in it, before taking a sip of it. It was strong and burning in her throat, but the feeling could not cover the bitter taste that remained on her tongue. Not bad – Sting really had a clue about alcohol and his guests.
“I thought first of all that my feelings for him would be fruitless.” Levy suddenly said beside her and played with her straw. “Because I thought sooner or later he would face his feelings toward you, and you would become a couple.” She made an indeterminate movement with her hand. “How one of these romantic comedies, do you understand? The rough bitch and the cute girl, who dance around each other forever and find each other somehow. It was obvious how much you meant to you, and it took me a while before I realized this was only on a purely friendly level. And, well … My own insecurity must have also re-played with. I mean, you’re so beautiful, how could I compete with someone like you? “
Levy sighed, shrugged, and finally took a sip of her cocktail. She raised the eyebrows in delight, amazed, and wanted to say something, but Juvia was still stuck in her last sentence. “Ju … Juvia is not beautiful,” she finally waved embarrassedly. She felt the blood pour into her cheeks, hoping that Levy would push it to the alcohol, or the light. “Lu-Lucy or Mirajane, they are, but not Juvia.”
But Levy only gave her an amused look. “Have you ever looked at the mirror,” she said dryly and it was not even a question. “I know we always look a little different than other people do, but you’re really bad. You have so great eyes and the pale, delicate skin that everyone wants. Do you know how often I had to hear how Lucy was envious about it? “She laughed out loud.
Juvia stared at her-she had not known that! The thought that Lucy had been envious of something to her, called a satisfying feeling awake in her, even if she scolded herself for it.
But Levy soon became serious again. “I know I wanted Gajeel, but I’m bisexual and have eyes in my head and you do not really need to hide behind Lucy or Mira. Have a little more self-confidence. “
Juvia felt more blood flow into her head. It was probably a tomato. “Ju-Juvia did not know that,” she tried to distract.
Levy snorted, amused. “I notice that. But I did not think you were so vain as to have it again “
“Nei-no,” she interrupted because Levy had obviously misunderstood her, and specified, “that you are bi.”
Amazed, Levy looked up, her brown eyes huge in her face. “Oh.” Laughing, she ran through her hair. “I-I took a while to accept that,” she admitted. “Gajeel knew it and Lucy, but … I did not even tell my parents, it just did not matter.”
Juvia nodded. “Juvia understands,” she admitted, adding better than you can. She looked aside and turned away with her glass. Finally, she leaned on the table with the arms and said mischievously, “But the big ruffle got his cute girl anyway.” She gave Levy a side view and could see the moment when the meaning of the words came to her ,
Levy’s already delicate red cheeks grew darker, her gaze shifted aside, her mouth twitching to an involuntary smile. But she did not say anything, but just sat down so that she could look into the bar room.
But her warm body pressed more tightly against Juvias so that not only did her shoulders touch, but also her arms and thighs, and Juvia wondered where that would lead. Strangely, she was not afraid, no doubts and no consciences.
That was nothing that would happen if Gajeel was still alive. Not because he had stood between them, but because his death had changed both of them. The pain of his loss was deep, and he had transformed something fundamental in and between them.
Perhaps because the other was the only one who could somehow understand this pain. All the others had shown understanding and treated like raw eggs, but their lives had gone on. Only the two of them, Gajeel’s gals, had stepped on the spot.
Juvia looked up to say something and looked directly into Levy’s friendly, deep brown eyes. She was wearing a pink lip gloss, said Juvia, and all the words died on her tongue. They were as wiped out of their minds, and even as they tried, no sound came over their lips.
But that was no longer necessary, and suddenly, Levy’s mouth lay on her in the sweetest, tenderest kiss she’d ever had. He tasted of her cocktail and the light vanilla touch of Levy’s lip gloss, and he only existed with delicate movements of the lips.
Levy’s fingers slightly touched her cheek and the thumbs stroked her cheekbones. The glass was cool in her hand as she put it blindly on the table, and Levy’s touches like embers on her skin. They chased a shiver over their backs and for a moment they were caught. Levy’s lids fluttered as she closed them, and a low sigh escaped her, caught by Juvia’s mouth, before anyone else could hear it.
Then Juvia slid her fingers over Levy’s neck until she could feel the fine hairs there, not drawing near, just holding, and closed her eyes. In this way the feelings were even more intense, the kiss more tender and the touches hotter and she felt overwhelmed. She simply fell into these emotions that were so liberating.
After that, she did not know how long they’d sat there and kissed, but as they parted from each other, it was as if they were still getting dressed, because the distance between them was only centimeters. Juvia pressed her forehead against Levys and hardly dared to look up under her eyelashes into these brown rehogs, who looked at her confused, uncertain and bold at the same time.
“That’s crazy,” Levy whispered against her lips, but she did not back, but kissed Juvia again.
~~ * ~~ ~~ * ~~ ❀ ~~ * ~~ ~~ * ~~
“When will you go back to Magnolia?”
“I do not know … I … So-shall I be honest?”
“Juvia listens to you.”
“I … I do not know what we have here … But I’m willing to try it out. … If you join. “