happy birthday queen of sass

The Healing Touch

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.

Words: 4217

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 rats.”

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 twitched.

Lucy froze. She stared. The fingers did not move again.

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 cheek.

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 himself.

“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 was laughing?

“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.

Lucy recoiled.

“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 rich guy.”

“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.

I’ve 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 been accidents.”

“You mean you… you’ve died before?

“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.”

Lucy frowned.

“Why should I take an interest in what’s in a dead man’s trousers?”

This made him laugh.

“Believe me that’s definitely in the interests of most people who meet me.” He winked again as he stood.

Lucy couldn’t help but roll her eyes.

“You are 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.

“I’m Lucy.”

“It was a pleasure to be stitched up and bathed by you, Lucy.”

She blushed 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 going then.”

Natsu made 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.

“You are 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- of…”

She turned away, not wanting to say it.

“Instead of a life of adventure and sword-fights and parties and treasure?”

Lucy blinked.

“That’s not 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.

Natsu leant 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 torment!”

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.

“AaaaaAAAAAHHHHH.”

The few 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.

Natsu continued 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.

“Miss 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 don’t understand-“

“I am taking this man to a healer!” Lucy interrupted, “Please ensure that from now on, all my charges are beyond a doubt, dead.

It would certainly make her life easier that way.

She pushed 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 fun.”

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.

“The theatrics were unnecessary.”

“And yet, you adored them.”

“Did not.”

“Did too.”

“Which part of dragging you through a church could I have possibly enjoyed?”

Natsu quirked his eyebrows.

“The part where you have an excuse to touch me again.”

Lucy slapped him.

Natsu yelped 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?”

“You annoyed 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 much.

“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…”

Lucy stopped. 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.

She really needed to sit down.

They’d walked 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 fashion.

“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 anything.”

“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.

“He’s just jealous that if I killed him, it’d be for good.”

Lucy leaned 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-“

Lucy scowled 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! 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.

“Nighty-nine.”

Lucy blanched.

“Nighty-nine?! You’ve died sixty-one times in-in… how old are you?”

“Twenty-one.”

“Sixty-one times 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.”

Lucy blinked. 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 her again.

“Who says I’m not?”

Lucy shook her head, exasperated.

“You are the weirdest person I’ve ever met.”

“Well, likewise,” Natsu pouted, “Who the hell enjoys cleaning dead bodies?”

“I don’t enjoy it.”

“Why’d you do it then?”

“What else am I meant to do? This city doesn’t really offer much well-paying reputable work.”

“Then get some disreputable work.”

She considered slapping him again.

“I don’t mean like that,” He insisted, noticing her irritated look, “I mean you could do what I do.”

“Which is…?”

“Cheat dumb rich people out of all their money.”

Lucy’s heart went cold. She started at him for a very long moment.

She remembered 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.

She remembered 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 scrawled signature.

Suprisingly, 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.

She flinched when Natsu took her hand.

“All those 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.

“Luce,” Natsu 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 her purpose.

“Fine,” She 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 of sorrow.

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.

Thirty-eight times.  

9

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

9

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

happy birthday you sass queen