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The Morning Star

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If today was your last day, what would you do?

 

The stupid question that he heard for the first time when he was just a child, rings through his head all evening. He doesn’t want it there, he tries to forget, to push it back into oblivion, in the past where it belongs. But he can’t succeed no matter how hard he tries, and it bothers him. It bothers him enough, that finally even Laxus notices it – and it doesn’t happen often, for Freed is excellent at pretending that everything is fine – and confronts him. Freed thinks faintly, that maybe in different circumstances, the dragon slayer would pretend too, never say a word and just proceed like they always do, but this time is different, this is not the night for pretending and hiding, and lying. This can as well be the last stand. The last night they ever will have in their lives. All of the sudden, the stupid question becomes not so stupid after all, and Freed for the first time discovers, that maybe it was meant to bear some significance from the very beginning.

‘Freed, what’s wrong?’ Laxus asks. They’re in Freed’s bedroom, or rather their bedroom, because Freed can’t remember the last time Laxus slept in his own, even if it’s just on the other side of the wall.

 

(When the rune mage asked him once, Laxus only shrugged. It just doesn’t feel right, he said some time later, in the middle of the night, when Freed wasn’t supposed to hear it, but he heard anyway.)

 

He doesn’t remember how and when they got here. All he can see is Laxus, so close to him, Laxus who comes closer, until they’re almost up against one another, Laxus who cups Freed’s face in his large hands and looks at him with concern, and love, and determination. And all he can feel is this goddamn uneasiness he hates so much. It makes him clench his jaws so forcefully, that the joints begin to squeak in protest. And all he can do is look into those grey eyes and hope they can see beyond unspoken words.

This thing that’s happening, is pure injustice.

He must be taking awfully long with answering Laxus’ question because the dragon slayer speaks again:

‘I swear I’ll do something to you, if you so much as think about telling me that it’s nothing.’

Freed snorts at that and it seems to relax Laxus a bit.

‘Something naughty?’ Freed teases and Laxus rolls his eyes but can’t quite keep a gentle smile from appearing on his lips.

‘That probably too’ he admits. ‘But first tell me what bothers you. Naughty later.’

Freed takes a deep breath then exhales, simultaneously running his hands alongside Laxus’ strong and muscular arms. After a while Freed decides that the best thing he can do with his hands right now, is to let them rest on dragon slayer’s shoulders. He wants to answer at last, but finds it hard to unclench his jaws. Eventually, he succeeds.

‘We might be dead in a few hours.’ he says simply, and there’s a twitch of muscles on Laxus’ face but it lasts a fracture of second and then it’s gone. But Freed is sure it was there, he knows it.

‘But we might survive as well’ Laxus counters. ‘Or this war may never start.’

It’s not true and they both know that. Freed doesn’t say it, even though he would in normal circumstances. This night is far from normal.

‘Are you scared?’ Laxus asks quietly, almost whispers, and his eyes soften. Freed pulls gently at his shoulders and Laxus leans in. Their foreheads touch. Freed averts his eyes because it’s to straining for him to keep eye contact in their current position.

‘Depends what you have in mind’ he answers thoughtfully. ‘I’m not afraid of dying, if that’s what you mean. Everybody dies eventually, so you can’t really escape it. What paralyses me, is the thought of you dying and me surviving. That would be a living hell. I also don’t want Bix or Ever to die. I just don’t want to live on without you, feeling like I couldn’t protect you.’

Laxus hums lowly, the sound resonates in his skull. He shifts even closer to Freed, his hands move the rune mage’s head to lay it on his shoulder, and then they stay there, playing with long and silky locks. Their bodies are pressed tightly together, there’s no space left between them.

‘That makes two of us.’ Laxus says in Freed’s hair. He breathes him in, until his lungs are filled with Freed’s scent, until they’re full of Freed and nothing else.

 

 

If this is our last night, what are we going to do?

 

They love, in every way possible.

They’re gentle and slow, they’re rough and fast. They’re quiet and they’re loud. They discover each other all over again, even though it seems, that there’s nothing left to discover. But there always is. The way Freed shudders underneath Laxus, writhes under his touch, how his skin burns and turns red. The way Laxus is vulnerable, when he lets Freed take care of him, the sounds he makes just for the rune mage, and how he trusts him. And if they cry at some point of the night, tears streaming down their cheeks – or maybe it’s just Laxus crying, or maybe it’s just Freed, but they can’t really tell, they don’t really care – then there’s nothing wrong with it, because they know every part, every inch of one another, and they’re scared, and they love in the way they’ve never loved before. Tonight they live, because there’s nothing else left to do. And if they have to fight to see another day, they will, because they don’t live only for themselves but for others as well.

 

 

There comes a moment when everything is so quiet and peaceful, and Freed begins to think they’re going to witness the sun setting in the morning, that what is bound to happen, won’t happen tonight and maybe the next night, either. Laxus is dozing off with his face buried in Freed’s hair and his arm thrown loosely over the rune mage’s frame. Freed caresses gently that large hand that rests on his stomach, traces patterns on it with his fingertips. They’re both heated up, covered in sweat and scratches, and probably some bruises too. It feels safe, it feels like home. It is home.

If this is the end, Freed thinks scooting closer to Laxus, then I couldn’t have had a better life.

 

They don’t make it to the daybreak after all. It starts in the middle of the night, comes as a wave of strong, bone-chilling wind and they know immediately, that that’s it. That’s how the war begins. They get up, get dressed in a blink of an eye, in practised manner. There’s no time for kisses and touches, and words. But they do kiss, but it’s quick and nothing like those kisses they shared earlier. They do speak, but it’s only quick I love you and stay safe. And then they’re out in the night, they part ways because they both have places they have to be.

 

For now there’s war, and they have to fight with all they’ve got to see the morning star rising above the horizon.