The brave and foolish ones
They walk not on the center
The signs are pointing every way
And I don’t know which route’s better
Some will take the fall
And some will see tomorrow
I could be the light or darkness
Redemption or sorrow
-Nathan Sharpe, Unaligned-
* * *
“Gray, my love, what’s wrong?” Juvia asked, pulling me out of my zone.
“That girl. She shouldn’t be out there like that. Especially since it’s getting cold out,” I answered, indicating the girl standing on the street corner. She was cute, much like Wendy, but she definitely looked older.
My team had run into that girl before once or twice. She definitely treated Wendy like a little sister, and Erza and Lucy like older siblings. She definitely didn’t like Natsu in the weirdest way, and she seemed to take a liking to me. When I say liking, I mean like friendship. Because there’s no way in hell my stalker, Juvia, would let me keep seeing her.
The funny thing is I never got her name. Not even once, she would stick around whenever one of us; be it Lucy, Wendy, Erza, Natsu, or me asking for it. She would always make up an excuse for not being able to stick around, like she had a certain curfew to meet, there was a family emergency, et cetera, et cetera.
Seeing her in my neighbourhood made me jump to the conclusion she was homeless. She had no real curfew, and she had no family to head back to.
She was alone. Truly alone. With no one to help her out.
“She does look lonely, Darling. Maybe we should invite her in,” Juvia suggested as the girl ducked into a back alley. “It is getting colder out.”
I looked at Juvia in the weirdest light. It wasn’t like her to be a humanitarian, especially to another girl.
“I think she’s homeless.” Juvia already knew I met the chick several times at this point. And every time she bailed on the rest of us, she always headed in a different direction.
“Poor thing! I wonder how on earth she survived all those years.”
“We’ll have to ask her when she comes in, I guess.”
“Sounds like a plan!” Juvia raced over to where she kept her coat. “I’ll go and get her, you say and prepare something warm for her to eat and some place to sleep.”
With that, Juvia left the building.
* * *
It was hours later when Juvia came back in with the girl, and the snow was flying. I was contemplating whether or not I should pay Eve of Blue Pegasus a visit in the morning.
“Gray, my darling, I finally convinced her to come in!” Juvia exclaimed.
“Good, ‘cause the tea is getting cold.” I grabbed my sweater I was wearing earlier. Stripping habit wasn’t usually appropriate for guests.
But, then again, the chick Juvia brought in has seen me half-naked a few times before.
This time, however, my mysterious friend kept her head and her ice blue eyes down. Her long brown hair was still as luscious as ever.
“I’ll see if I can get her settled,” Juvia proclaimed. If that lady had a tail, it would either be wagging or sticking straight up. She was such the yandere when it came to Lucy, or even Erza. “You two, talk! I want you two to at least get acquainted with each other.”
And like that, Juvia bolted upstairs.
I looked back at the mysterious chick. “Still using the same earbuds?” I asked. “As a music wizard, wouldn’t they get worn out?”
She looked up, like she could hear me. “They’re kinda enchanted to not wear out. Also, surround sound, Gray.”
“I see. Just like Natsu has a favourite flame, or Erza’s favourite requip.” I kept my eyes on her face. “You’ve nowhere to go, now, miss. Mind telling me your name?”
She looked down again. “You’ll laugh.”
“No, I won’t. Only Natsu’s stupid enough to do that.”
Mystery Girl drew in a breath. Then, quite as a gentle breeze, she said, “It’s Alicia. Alicia Starflower.”
“Alicia Starflower.” The name suited her. “Suits you.”
She smiled. “Thanks.”
“So, what brings you to this part of Magnolia? And why so close to the first snow?”
Alicia kept her gaze on her feet. “I ... travel a lot, and I heard from people Magnolia is a really pretty place in the winter.”
“Cut the crap. I know you’re homeless.”
She sighed. “Besides Erza, Wendy, and Carla, you were the other one to see through my ruse, every time. Zeref killed my family before he disappeared during the seven years you were missing. I was out of the house that day to run errands for my mother when I heard the rumors that Zeref was back.”
“So, you have a bone to pick with Zeref, too.”
“The only kindness he showed me was when he taught me magic. Ever since then, I’ve been on my own.”
“And the earbuds?”
“They were a gift from my younger sister. Lacrima infused, so they’ll never die.”
“I see. Kinda sad, don’t you think?”
“A little. I never got along well with my father, and my little sister was the only friend I had for a long time until Zeref killed them all. Ever since then, I’ve been alone.”
“Considering the amount of power you demonstrated on those jobs you helped us out on, maybe you should consider joining a guild.”
“Let’s be honest, what guild would want a music wizard like me? I’m pathetic.”
“Fairy Tail would. So would Saber Tooth. And maybe even Laimia Scale, Mermaid Heel, and Blue Pegasus. It sure as heck wouldn’t take you very long to get to S-class in Fairy Tail, anyway.”
“Explain why those guilds.”
“We all have bones to pick with Zeref.”
She shut up. And she took out one of her earbuds. “As far as I know, they have no real reason to go against Zeref.”
“We just found out Natsu is in his book of demons. Also, he summoned Acnologia to sink Tenrou Island. And he killed our first master, Mavis Vermillion.”
“Funny, I heard Acnologia was there because Grimoire Heart summoned him, and that was all. And I heard that your first master, Mavis, died accidentally. Zeref didn’t mean to kill her.”
“That’s not what I heard from Natsu.”
“Natsu can go jump in a lake for all I care. I’m going after Zeref. Alone.” She started heading toward the door. “I travel because I’m chasing rumors of Zeref’s whereabouts.”
I grabbed her by her arms and whirled her around. “You can’t just do that. There are other wizards that are out to kill you because someone ordered your head on a silver platter. Dark guilds will try everything they can to stop you.”
Alicia Starflower stared at me for a minute and then kissed me. “You can’t stop me either, Gray Fullbuster. Plus, I always wanted to do that.” She smirked and she squirmed out of her black hoody. “See ya.”
And like a good song that ended too soon, she was gone.