Summary: After losing everything, Lucy just wanted a quiet life, and who could be more quiet than the dead? It’s just a shame one of them had to wake up.
A/N: HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY MAPLE SYRUP COVERED SASS QUEEN @not-just-any-fangirl I hope you enjoy the first of you birthday gifts (which honestly just went off on its own) and that you have an amazing day filled with gifts and glitter and love!
There weren’t many options in life for an orphan.
Sure, there was crime and other disreputable occupations, but Lucy wanted a
quiet life. What meagre inheritance she’d received after paying off her late
fathers debts had been enough for a few months’ rent of a one bedroom
apartment, but food didn’t just magically place itself on her wobbly kitchen
table. So, she set out to find a job. And quickly discovered that the most
unappealing ones paid the most.
Thus is the short summary of how Lucy Heartfilia,
once the heir to the most wealthy family in the city, descended from manor
houses to a church basement. Cleaning corpses.
It was quiet work, just as she’d wanted. Deathly
quiet. The only people she interacted with daily, was the priest, the man who
brought in her charges, and dead people. The former exchanged only the most
basic of pleasantries, but the latter were quite good listeners.
As this was the church of Lethe, goddess of
forgotten souls, the people that found their way onto Lucy’s sterile workbench
were most often orphans, beggars, and the elderly who had no remaining
relatives or friends. Lucy’s job was to clean away the evidence of death, and
dress them in the white garments of the deceased before they were taken away
and buried in the earth. The dead that found their way to the church of Lethe
revived no ceremonious farewells, nor even a coffin. They received one gold coin
to take with them into the next world- which was sometimes more riches than
Lucy thought they’d ever during their lifetime- and the shortest of funeral
rites before being sealed into the dirt.
Quiet work, but not the most fulfilling if she
dwelt on it too much.
She often wondered if she would end up here, when
her time came. A different lonely orphan girl cleaning her body.
She shook the thought from her head as she passed
through the church gates. No. Today was no day for such a bleak mood. The sun
was shining and the birds chirped in the churches shrivelled trees. It was a
beautiful today! What a shame someone
died before they could see it, she thought, and instantly chided herself.
Her basement workroom was pleasantly cool compared
to the heat outside. Usually the stones chill made her shiver, but today Lucy
hung up her shawl and rolled up her sleeves, ready to work. Today’s poor soul
already laid out on the work bench.
She pulled back the sheet that covered the body.
Her brain instantly began to swell with possibilities.
You see, Lucy had always had a wild imagination,
and what else was a penniless girl with no relatives and no friends meant to do
than invent wild adventures that had filled the lives of the now deceased.
She scanned the body for cause of death. A deep
stab wound to the side. Much of the man’s torso was covered in dry blood.
“You were a pirate,” She said to the corpse,
noticing the windswept hair. The pink windswept
hair, “A very notorious one.”
She pulled away the rest of the sheet, taking in
the rest of his body to develop her story. He was young- too young, she thought
with a pang of sadness- body well-muscled with golden skin that suggest hours
spent in the son. Other than his cause of death, the only thing that marked his
body was a scar across his cheek, and the tattoo of…
She leaned closer. A red lizard?
“A salamander.” She decided aloud.
The tail of which disappeared beneath his breaches.
Lucy rolled her eyes.
“Yes, definitely a pirate.”
Lucy prepared a bowl of water and a damp cloths,
deciding to scrub the blood away first.
“You fell in love with the sea at a young age,” She
mused as she set about her task, “You were always so desperate to visit the
beach of even the port, but your mother wouldn’t hear of it, so you ran away.
Stowed away on a ship before the captain discovered you.”
As she washed the blood away from the fatal wound
Lucy discovered more details. The weapon- most likely a sword given the wounds
width- had impaled him upwards, sliding its way underneath his ribs and perhaps
piercing his lungs and his heart. Not an easy death.
“The captain and his crew nicknamed you the
salamander, because you slipped out of their grasp every time they tried to
grab you, running even though there was nowhere to go. Eventually you tired,
and they took pity on you. Fed you and clothed you. The captain, an elderly man
with no children of his own, swore he’d throw you overboard at the next port,
but in the meantime put you to work swabbing the decks and catching the bilge
She rang out the blood-soaked cloth, the wound now
clean. She’d stitch it closed for good measure, then set about cleaning the dirt
of his face, arms, and feet.
“Over time the crew grew fond of you,” She
continued as she retrieved a needle and thread, “They taught you knots and
poker- which you quickly excelled at. You challenged the captain to a game, the
prize a place on his ship. You won- thanks to the cards up your sleeve- and
began your new life at sea.”
Lucy thought what a life like that would be like as
she bit her tongue in concentration. Adventure. Every day a new story, but one
you lived instead of invented for others. Perhaps she should run away too.
With the wound all stitched up she pulled away, her
back aching from hunching over the body. She looked again to the man’s face.
Even in death it seemed to be smirking.
“You docked in this city at the beginning of the
month for supplies and repairs to the ship. You met a girl who reminded you of
the sea, and you loved her. She was betrothed to another but had eyes only for
you. You planned to run away, but her father found out. They caught you and you
fought them, urging her to run. You died fighting for her to be free.”
Lucy turned away from the body and sighed. All her
stories seemed to end tragically. And her dead mostly died for love. It was
sad, but in such a cruel world she hoped her stories come close to the truth. That
was there was still hope.
She washed out the bloody cloth and fetched a clean
bowl of water, ready to wash the dirt away. She took her time. The ripples in
the water distracting her from her thoughts. Eventually she returned to the
body and set the bowl on the floor. As she straightened, the corpses finger
Lucy froze. She stared. The fingers did not move
She shook her head and straightened. No need to
panic. Bodies still stirred after death. Something to do with the muscles
decaying, if she remembered her brief science studies correctly. Though a
twitch of the limbs was slightly more unsettling than the body releasing gas-
which to her shame still made her giggle.
After a moment of glaring suspiciously at the dead
mans face, she resumed her work. She dabbed the wet cloth onto his scarred
And the body bolted upright.
Lucy screamed. She stumbled backwards into the
sink, heart hammering as the man on the workbench sucked in breath after
breath, his eyes open and his expression very much alive.
She watched, trembling, as the man shook his head.
It was as though he’d just woken up from a deep sleep. After a few tense
seconds his breathing slowed and his posture relaxed. He stretched his arms,
his joints popping. Then he leaned back, seemingly relaxed, and laughed to
“Wow,” He muttered, his voice slightly hoarse, “I
can’t believe he actually did it.”
Lucy couldn’t move. Couldn’t even think. This man
had just come back from the dead and he
“This isn’t real,” She whispered, “You were dead.
You were defiantly dead.”
The man turned to her.
“Oh, hi. Forgot you were there for a second.”
“I’m dreaming. I’m definitely dreaming.”
The man shifted onto his side, the massive gash in
his torso apparently causing him no pain. He leaned his head against his hand
and stared at her, his smirk much more vibrant when he was alive.
“If you are then you have very good taste, to dream
me up.” He winked.
“You know that was a nice story. Made me wish I was
a pirate., even though I’ve never been a fan of boats.” He mused, “The last
part was a bit mushy though. You must read too many of those romance books.
Also it’s a bit insulting to think I would lose in a sword fight against some
“I never said he was rich.”
“True. But who else arranges marriages other than
rich people with nothing better to do with their time.”
He had a point. The dead man had a point.
finally gone mad, Lucy thought.
“Anyway I don’t think
I’ve ever had such a valiant death.” He continued to muse, “Most of them have
“You mean you… you’ve
“Oh yeah, like
twenty, maybe thirty times? I don’t know. I lost count.”
He sat up again
and swung his legs over the side of the table. He glanced idly down at his
wound and then made a show of inspecting the rest of his body.
“How kind of you
to leave my pants on. Most people don’t do that.”
“Why should I
take an interest in what’s in a dead man’s trousers?”
This made him
that’s definitely in the interests of most people who meet me.” He winked again
as he stood.
help but roll her eyes.
definitely vulgar enough to be a pirate should your thirtieth attempt at live
inspire a change of profession.”
Her heart was
finally calming down. The animated way he spoke seemed to be distracting her
from the fact that he had been dead not five minutes ago.
“Well, I may not
have died for love or been a pirate but you got the nickname part right. I
suppose the tattoo is a giveaway though. My friends just call me Natsu though.”
He held out his
hand. In greeting or to help her up from where she was till slumped against the
shelves she didn’t know. She took it anyway.
“It was a
pleasure to be stitched up and bathed by you, Lucy.”
despite herself. It was her job and she’d done it a hundred times before. But
now the corpse was alive and the way
he said it sounded… dirty.
She let go of
his hand. They stood in an awkward silence. She noticed Natsu fidgeted a lot.
Probably a side effect of being alive.
“Well, I’ll be
towards the door.
“Wait!” Lucy ran
in front of him to block his way, “What am I meant to tell the priest? ‘Sorry
there’s to be one less funeral today, the body just got up and walked away’?”
“If that’s what
you like.” He shrugged.
“I can’t say
that! They’ll send me to the mad house!”
“I hear it’s
quite nice there actually.”
Her face heated.
insufferable! No wonder somebody stabbed you!”
“Harsh.” He countered,
though he didn’t seem offended. He moved to step around her.
Lucy moved to
stop him, standing firm under his annoyed glare. She couldn’t believe a face
that had been so slack and almost completely void of expression a few moments
ago was now so animate. He seemed the sort of person whose emotions were always
on display. And right now, his primary emotion seemed to be irritation.
“Look, if you
just walk out of here I could lose my job,” she pleaded, “I’m the most
disposable so of course they’ll blame it on me. There might as well be a line
of girls out the door who could replace me. Who want a quiet life instead of-
She turned away,
not wanting to say it.
“Instead of a
life of adventure and sword-fights and parties and treasure?”
quite what I was going to say…”
Natsu waved a
dismissive hand, his brows furrowing in thought before his green eyes lit up
with amusement. Clearly at a joke only he understood.
“Alright, so I
can’t just walk out of here,” He smirked, “But what if I hobbled?”
This was definitely not how she had pictured her
day going. She could scarcely even believe she’d agreed to it. The poor corpse
she’d maimed and stolen from had certainly gotten the shorter end of the stick,
but at the moment she wasn’t faring much better.
heavily into her side as they ascended the stairs, a guttural moan making its
way past his lips.
“Oh gods, oh gods. Oh, sweet Acheron, spare me your
Lucy winced at
the wailing in her ear, pinching Natsu in his ‘wounded’ side.
“There’s no need
to do that when there’s no one around.” She hissed.
She noticed him
bite his lip in amusement as they finally reached the top of the stairs. She
shouldered her way through the heavy wooden doors that lead into the nave of the
church, the room silent save for the whispers of a handful of worshippers and
the trickle of the pale blue water that made its way through the church in tiny
rivers surrounded by stone.
The silence was
apparently an invitation Natsu could not refuse.
worshippers each looked up as Natsu clutched his blood-stained side and sagged
against Lucy, who struggled to keep them both upright with the extra weight. She
ducked her head and pulled Natsu along, trying in vain to ignore his theatrics.
“What vile a
creature would slaughter a man in love!” Natsu yelled, “I only hope my sweet,
sweet lady was spared the sight of my demise!”
Lucy rolled her
eyes as she dragged him down the aisle, avoiding the stream of water that ran
down its centre. Though his wailing was very irritating and he was being mostly
uncooperative in her efforts to get him out of the church, her heart did a
little lurch when she recognised the details of her story.
to lament, begging the god’s forgiveness, and howling in pain as she dragged
him towards the exit. It was a shame they weren’t in a church of Cocytus;
there, his theatrics would have warranted an applause for his supposed candour.
By this point,
the worshippers had stood and was offering their assistance- which seemed to
fuel Natsu’s desire for attention as his wailing became more incomprehensible.
Lucy was unsurprised when the priest emerged from his chambers at the ruckus.
Heartfilia!” The elderly man called as he ran towards them. Lucy picked up the
pace of their hobbling, “What is the meaning of this?”
“Perhaps you can
tell me, Sir,” Lucy grunted in response, “This man was upon my table, ready to
be prepared for burial, and yet he is -quite clearly- not dead.”
“Styx has shown
me mercy and kept me alive for my revenge!” Natsu yelled at the priest, before
very conveniently rolling his eyes back into his head and sagging in a mock
faint, leaving the priest as her problem.
“I am taking
this man to a healer!” Lucy interrupted, “Please ensure that from now on, all
my charges are beyond a doubt, dead.”
certainly make her life easier that way.
through the church doors, hoisting Natsu’s weight as she shuffled the two of
them down the steps. The priest and the worshippers watched them go, mouths
agape, until the doors closed behind them with a soft his.
Out the corner
of her vision, she noticed Natsu’s eyes flutter open dramatically. The motion
reminded her of just how long and dark his eyelashes were. Something a lot of
girls would kill for.
The moment his
green eyes spotted that there was no one in the churchyard, he straightened,
relieving Lucy of his weight.
“Well, that was
Natsu smiled as
he said it, stretching his arms above his head and causing his too-large stolen
shirt to sli[ and reveal his defined collarbones. Lucy scowled.
“And yet, you
“Which part of
dragging you through a church could I have possibly enjoyed?”
“The part where
you have an excuse to touch me again.”
behind her as she stormed off. She couldn’t go back into the church yet. She’d
have to give it an hour and then come back with some equally dramatic story of
the un-dead man’s fate. Brilliant.
She hoped they
didn’t dock her wages for this.
“Wait! Where are
you going?” Natsu jogged up behind her, “Don’t you wanna know how I died?”
someone to such an extent that they stabbed you for a moment of peace.”
“Pffft, no,” He
scoffed, but his eyes darted away from her, “Maybe.”
Lucy rolled her
eyes and kept walking. Sure, she had a lot of questions for him. She cared less
about how he died and more about how he came back. He’d seemed to know that he
would, and said that it had happened many times before. Could he die
permanently at all? Could he heal any injury? For example, if she were to,
figuratively, cut out his tongue, would it grow back?
She asked him as
“I don’t think
so,” He pondered with a hand on his chin as they walked, “I cut off Gajeel’s
finger once and it still hasn’t grown back so…”
She turned to him slowly.
“There are other
people who just… come back from the dead?”
Natsu nodded as
it if were the most obvious thing in the world.
needed to sit down.
far enough away from the church that they were now on the outskirts of the city
proper. The churches of Lethe were never housed in populated areas. They
existed on the fringes of society, where they could apply be forgotten about.
This area of the
city was quiet, though not nearly as quiet as the church. She hoped it wouldn’t
tempt Natsu into theatrics again. She needed a moment to think and then some
answers, not a dramatic soliloquy about a lost love he didn’t actually have.
After a few
moments wondering Lucy found a small square with a few vacant benches and
slumped into the nearest one, Natsu following suit in a much more energetic
“There’s a few
of us actually,” Natsu continued, seeming to hate too long of a silence,
“Though the bastard that killed me this time lacks the talent.”
“Did he know
when he killed you that you would come back?”
“Oh yeah. He should have taken my body back home
though, like you’re meant to. Prevents being buried alive or waking up on the
bench and giving some poor old guy a heart attack. Not that you’re old or
“He doesn’t seem
like a very good friend if he would actually kill you.” Lucy noted, ignoring
the age comment.
Natsu shrugged it
off before leaning in closer with a smirk.
jealous that if I killed him, it’d be for good.”
away. She was pretty sure they if she was stabbed, she’d still be terrified
even if she knew she would come back.
“What if was for
good? For you I mean.”
“Well then he’d
have to live with the guilt of robbing the world of this gift for the rest of
his life.” He grinned, gesturing proudly to himself, “But he didn’t have to
worry because I’ve still got-“
again as she watched Natsu kick off his left shoe and lift his foot as close to
his face as he could possibly get it. She watched in confusion as his lips
moved as if counting before he turned his attention back to her.
Thirty-eight lives left!”
To prove his point,
he shifted on the bench and shoved his foot into her face. Lucy recoiled, eyes
watering slightly from the smell. Still grimacing from the dirt covering his
toes, she noticed that on the sole of his foot were rows of black tally marks.
Thirty-eight tally marks, to be exact.
“How many did
you start with?” She asked, swatting his foot away.
You’ve died sixty-one times in-in… how old are you?”
in just over twenty years?! That’s like… like…” Her maths failed her, “A LOT of
times to die. What on earth do you do for a living, to warrant so much death?”
“Like I said,
it’s mostly accidents. One time, I fell off the side of a ship and smashed my
head on the rocks, so I died. Then it took the crew so long to get me out the
water that I revived, and then just drowned and died again.”
She could not believe how calm he was about this. About dying. After the death of her mother, it had been all she thought
about for months- the fear if it often sending her gasping to the floor if she
dwelt on it too much. Even now, she still woke from nightmares in which she
died in a variety of ways over and over again.
“If I were you I
think I would be deeply traumatised by now.”
Natsu winked at
“Who says I’m
Lucy shook her
“You are the
weirdest person I’ve ever met.”
likewise,” Natsu pouted, “Who the hell enjoys cleaning dead bodies?”
“I don’t enjoy it.”
“Why’d you do it
“What else am I
meant to do? This city doesn’t really offer much well-paying reputable work.”
“Then get some disreputable work.”
slapping him again.
“I don’t mean
like that,” He insisted, noticing her irritated look, “I mean you could do what
“Cheat dumb rich
people out of all their money.”
went cold. She started at him for a very long moment.
the long two months after her father’s death. When people she’d never seen
before came to collect debts she’d never even heard of, but had no choice to
pay when they threatened her, or came with legal papers vouching their favour.
She’d held on to that house for as long as possible. Watching as every day it
became more and more empty, selling off her family belongings to pay off her
late father’s death.
one of the last days, one of the last people that came. She was so tired by
then, and she’d accepted she was losing everything. She barley looked at the
man who came to collect some of the houses classical paintings.
But she’d looked
long enough to notice the tall man’s missing finger, and the tally marks on the
palm of his hand when he’d handed her a sheet of paper with her fathers
Natsu stayed silent as she stared at him. At Natsu who was born with nighty-nine
lives. Natsu the con-man. Natsu with the undying con-artist friend.
A cold feeling
settled in her stomach. A certainty that she had been robbed.
when Natsu took her hand.
stories you tell dead people, all those adventures, you could have them, for
real.” His smile was small, “Maybe not all the noble parts but… it would be
fun. And definitely not as lonely.”
“What makes you
think I’m lonely?” Her voice was rough when she spoke.
smiled, “You talk to dead people.”
His smile was
inviting. In a fleeting moment, she wanted nothing more than to run off into
whatever adventurous life he led, tally marks on none.
But then she
remembered the sorrow after her father’s death, and her suspicion that someone
Natsu knew was responsible for taking everything she cherished away from her.
She had to hold that feeling close.
Because it gave
gripped his hand tight, “Show me where you work.”
Natsu beamed at
her. He let go of her hand just long enough to put his shoe back on before
gripping it again and dragging her up off her seat. He took off at a run,
giving her no choice but to follow.
She remembered his
dramatics in the church. Styx has shown
me mercy and kept me alive for my revenge. Maybe that was why she hadn’t died
She was certain
Natsu would lead her to answers, and it not, he certainly had the means to get
them. A pang of guilt went through her at the thought of using him. Despite his
irritating nature, he did seem kind.
But if he stood
in the way of the people who had took everything from her… well, she’d just
have to kill him.
Happy birthday, Ginger Rogers // 16th July 1911 - 25th April 1995
‘My mother told me I was dancing before I was born. She could feel my toes tapping wildly inside her for months.’ - Ginger Rogers
'Sure he [Fred Astaire] was great, but don’t forget Ginger Rogers did everything he did backwards…and in high heels!’ - Bob Thaves
'I’m most grateful to have had that joyous time in motion pictures. It really was a Golden Age of Hollywood. Pictures were talking, they were singing, they were coloring. It was beginning to blossom out: bud and blossom were both present.’ - Ginger Rogers
'Ginger was brilliantly effective. She made everything work for her. Actually, she made things very fine for the both of us and she deserves most of the credit for our success.’ - Fred Astaire
Happy 25th, taylorswift! I love you so much. You are everything to me, and have taught me it’s okay to be independent, strong but a dreaming romantic, and thank you for being my first ever and most influential example of a feminist idol. You’ve made me realise that feminism has many forms, and that I should not be ashamed. You have been in my life for 8 of my 19 years, and that makes me feel like you’re the big sister I never had. Here’s to the another 25 years! FOREVER ON YOUR SIDE XOX