"I don't care what you do! Join the war effort, stay at home, heck, join the freaking WAVES for all I care! Just stop hounding me about joining up!" Gray was shouting. He raked his hands through his hair and glared at the scarlet woman seated on the chair in front of him. Erza was unbowed by his uncharacteristic show of temper. All right, so she had pushed him past his breaking point. But weren't patriotic women supposed to push their men into joining the military to fight for their country?
Maybe she was going about it the wrong way. Erza was just so ashamed. Not of Gray, oh no, never. She hated that some of the women of the town looked down on her simply because her husband wasn't a soldier. All the other women in their town of Magnolia had been talking about their husbands, sons, and sweethearts joining up. Just last week, Kagura had boasted about her brother Simon getting shipped out at the rank of sergeant. She looked right at Erza and asked in a fake pitying voice why Gray hadn't yet enlisted. After all, didn't he care about his country?
Erza had never wanted to hit someone so badly in her life.
Lucy and Juvia had both comforted her. But honestly, did they know the shame Erza felt? How much the catty remarks hurt her? Of course not. Lucy's husband Erik and Juvia's sweetheart Lyon had both left the same time as Simon. They, along with boys Erza had grown up with, had eagerly enlisted, not waiting for the draft.
Laxus, leaving behind his wife Mirajane and their four children.
Sting who left a pregnant Meredy to run their post office with the help of Lisanna, Sting's cousin Rogue's wife.
Lucy had three children at home as well as another one on the way. Erik as a doctor was bound to have been called up sooner or later.
Cana had refused to let Bacchus leave her behind, so the two had joined the USO determined to open a canteen to help the boys have a little taste of home while overseas.
Levy and Wendy, sisters, had followed their brothers Jellal and Mystogan, both doctors, into the Red Cross as nurses. Levy's husband Gajeel was a Navy man somewhere in the Far East.
Alzack left his wife Bisca and daughter Asuka to join a sniper unit.
Even Natsu, who was practically Erza's little brother and Gray's long standing rival, had leapt into the military, taking up a position as a munitions expert. His wife Yukino had confided to Erza that she wasn't too worried about Natsu. "After all, he has the resiliency of a cockroach." Not the most flattering statement, but very true.
Nab, Max, Warren, Jet, Droy, Loke, Gildarts, Macbeth, Freed, Macao, Wakaba, Elfman, Bixlow. The list went on and on. All of them had done the right thing, the patriotic thing, and joined up.
So why was Gray one of the only men left in Magnolia?
She was silent as she watched him rage up and down the small living room. Erza knew she wasn't the only one pressuring him. His mother Ur and his sister Ultear had made it clear that they expected him to join. Ultear had left a month ago to join the WASPs. Erza herself would have become a member if someone wasn't needed to stay behind and run their general store. Ur could no doubt do it herself, but a pregnancy and need kept Erza at home.
Gray stopped pacing and turned on her suddenly. "Why?" He demanded. "Why do you want me to join so badly?"
"Because it is the right thing to do." Came her calm reply. Gray scoffed.
"'The right thing to do?' To leave my store behind? To leave my pregnant wife alone to go fight Mavis knows where in a country that isn't mine? All the propaganda has turned your head, Erza." Scowling, Gray threw himself down into another chair. She waited until he calmed down and got himself back under control. To be honest, when he was angry, he rather scared her because it was just so unusual for Gray to loose his cool. He was known in Magnolia as one of the most level headed men in town.
Erza sighed and stood up, walking over to behind her husband. She rested both hands on his shoulders and squeezed gently. "I just want you to do the right thing, Gray."
"It's against everything I stand for, Erza. I'm not a pacifist, but I don't condone the war."
"Gray," Erza's voice was full of conviction. He had never let her lay out her reasons for wanting him to join up. Now that he was giving her a chance, she wasn't about to let it slip. "I'm not asking you to fight for me. I'm asking you to protect our child and his future."
Gray looked up at her quizzically. Erza moved around to clasp his hands. "I don't want our baby to grow up in a country where they are not free. In France and other countries, there are mothers who don't have that luxury, who can't raise their children properly. Their countries aren't their own. They need our help."
"And that's why you think I should fight?"
Gray was silent. "Very well," he said quietly. "I will fight, Erza, but I won't fight because the government says I should, or because the gossips in town are humiliating you, or even for the bigger picture. I will fight for you." He pulled Erza into his arms. "For you," he whispered in her ear. One hand moved down to rest on her belly. "And for our baby."
~~~Six months later~~~
When the telegram came, Erza was alone, just as she had been the day he left.
Mrs. Erza S Fullbuster=
The Secretary of War desires me to express his deep sympathy in the loss of your husband Captain Gray D Fullbuster
Report received states he died eighteen December in France as result of wounds received in action
Mest Gryder the Adjacent General
Erza shut herself up in her room for two weeks. When she came out, her friends was stunned to see her acting the same way she used to.
What they didn't know was how she cried herself to sleep every night. How she wished she hadn't fought so hard to convince him. How she wished the war had never happened. If she hadn't had something to live for, she would have followed him to the grave before a month was out.
Gray was the only man in Magnolia killed during the whole war.
Erza lived for both of them, and for their child.
As she raised a young red haired, dark eyed boy all by herself, she would tell him stories of his father. "He was a soldier, the bravest one there ever was."
"Was he really, mama?"
"Yes, my love. He was the best and the bravest." She would stare off into the distance, as if seeing her soldier husband. His beautiful smile, the way he would look at her with so much love, the last sight she had of him as he boarded his train, the train that took him to his death. He had blown her a kiss and she had returned it.
It was the last kiss they shared.
"He fought for us. Not for the bigger picture, but for you and for me.
"He fought because he loved us and that was all that mattered."