The big faced clock struck midnight and everyone threw up their glasses in unison. Beer, wine and ale sloshed out of the cups and covered floor before each cup hit the table and then was dumped back into the mouths of ever Fairy Tail member. It was their first night celebrating the restoration of the guild; all of the members were back and housed in a newly built hall. Juvia could not remember the last time they had all been together like this.
Fairy Tail was back, and she was happy.
Yet not all things were back to the way they were… or at least, she hoped they wouldn’t be.
Gray sat across the hall with Natsu, Gajeel and Elfman in the middle of a vicious arm wrestling match; he cheered as Elfman’s arm transformed with his Beast Soul magic and Gajeel countered by making his own into steel. Natsu breathed fire toward the ceiling as the match heated up. It was nice to see them all back in their natural element. She counted the number of beer bottles on the coutertop behind them; Gray was on his seventh.
He would probably get tired soon and head home.
But not to their home. He would head to his own.
“Juvia, cheer up a little!” Lucy winked and passed a drink her way. “We should be happy, right? We’re all together again!”
“Juvia was just wondering where she would go tonight.” she answered honestly.
Lucy blinked a few times before what Juvia was saying registered. “That’s right. You and Gray… it must be strange living on your own again.”
Glancing toward her drink, Juvia took a sip.
“I have an idea! You can stay with me if you’d like. It’s not like I couldn’t use the help paying rent… it’s not the same, but at least you won’t be alone.”
“Lucy wouldn’t mind?”
“Of course not! We’re friends.”
She smiled lightly, glancing toward Gray across the room. Now he was pulling on Elfman’s arm, trying to freeze Gajeel’s steel to turn the odds in their favor. Natsu countered by adding his heat to melt the freezing magic. Obscenities flew and the cheers turned to upheaval. Mirajane and Erza would be intervening soon.
“Juvia will think about it. Tonight she will stay in Fairy Hills.”
She nodded. “Juvia needs some time alone. She is sorry for being such a downer when we should all be celebrating.”
“It’s fine. Drink that and I am sure you’ll be feeling cheerful in no time!”
Cheerful was right. The rest of the night was spent singing, dancing, drinking and catching up with all of the friends she had not seen in over a year. Everyone had a story to tell and adventures to share; it was one of the best nights Juvia could remember having with Fairy Tail. As people began passing out at the tables and the uproar died down to a dull banter, she excused herself to head home.
Once out in the cool night air, the reality of the situation hit her. She and Gray-sama had lived together, and now they would go back to the way things were before. The happiest time in her life was over. She should have expected that it would end one day– it had only ever been a temporary arrangement– and yet the idea of living alone felt foreign and unwelcoming.
Juvia turned down the street that placed the fork in the road before heading to town or to the newly rebuilt Fairy Hills.
She turned, surprised to see Gray had followed her from the guild hall. He held a bottle in one hand and tilted his head to the side.
“Where are you going?”
“Then why’d you leave without me?”
She smiled. “Juvia is going to Fairy Hills.”
A look of irritation crossed his face. “That’s not home. Come home with me.”
“Gray-sama…” she wasn’t sure she was actually hearing these words.
“It’s not home unless we’re together. I’m tired anyway.” He tossed the bottle aside and jogged to catch up to her. “The apartments this way.”
She watched as he turned toward the town and followed after, her heart lighter than she remembered. Maybe it hadn’t just been a happy time for her. Maybe Gray-sama had missed it too.