A/N: Thanks for joining me on this adventure! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did! Be forewarned, there are passing references to the Tartarus arc in this chapter.
Grimm Fairy Tail
Chapter Twenty: Epilogue
Four years had passed since the Grimm Fairy Tales book incident. Shortly afterwards, Tartarus had threatened the magic of the entire world, but Fairy Tail and her allies were victorious. Unfortunately, the Guild Hall was destroyed. Lives were lost, including that of Lucy's celestial spirit Aquarius, and Gray was reunited with his father, only for him to perish once more. The mystery of the missing dragons was revealed.
Master Makarov had temporarily dissolved the guild after the war with Tartarus. It would take three years for the guild hall to be rebuilt and in the meantime, the guild members went their separate ways. Most worked freelance magic jobs and others began intense training.
Lucy possessed a new power - she was now a Water Mage as well as a Celestial Spirit Mage. Before her sacrifice, Aquarius' last gift to Lucy was her power over water. Gray had done his best to help her to master the power by using some of his ice techniques as it was the same element, but different form of molecules. Water molecules traveled at a faster rate than ice, but the principles were very similar.
Lucy and Gray had set off on their own. He took the occasional odd job for his ice skills while she worked as a journalist for the popular monthly periodical, Sorcerer Magazine. She exchanged letters with Levy regularly, who spent most of her time analyzing ancient runes at archeological sites all over the world. Levy and Gajeel were in a long-distance relationship
Gajeel, Natsu, and Laxus had all gone off together for intensive training with Gildarts. Erza teamed up with Jellal's Crime Sorciere and took incredibly difficult missions. Wendy trained with various healers and wind mages and visited Lucy and Gray regularly.
Juvia joined Lamia Scale with Lyon and occasionally met with Gray and Lucy to work on their skills. There were quite a few jobs where they teamed up using their various powers. What was once a very strained relationship had turned into genuine friendship and camaraderie.
Using her connections with Sorcerer Monthly, Lucy had kept tabs on all the guild members. Master Makarov had informed her that the guild hall was repaired and he needed the whole of Fairy Tail to assemble for a great announcement. They were supposed to meet later that week. She suspected he intended to name his successor and reinstate Fairy Tail as an official guild once more.
However, the reunion was days away and on this day, she was enjoying a warm, sunny, Spring outing with her family. "This picnic was a great idea," Gray said. He dropped a few more ice cubes into the pitcher of lemonade that Lucy had set out.
Lucy smiled and then poured herself and her husband a glass of the fresh lemonade. "I'm just hoping the weather holds out." She glanced into the distance and saw the darkening of the sky to the west.
Gray sipped from his glass and closed his eyes in enjoyment of the taste. "Well, even if the rain comes, you can keep it at bay for a while longer."
"True," Lucy admitted with a proud smile. At their last training session, she'd impressed Juvia with her ability to control the weather — even if for only a few minutes.
Their two year old children, a twin boy and girl just like Rapunzel had in the fairy tale, giggled together as they blew bubbles from a bubble wand. Their daughter, Sterling had dark as pitch hair like her father as well as his navy blue eyes, kept turning her bubbles into ice and watching them fall to the blue and white checkered blanket.
"Did the magazine approve your article idea?" Gray asked. He reached over and ruffled the blonde hair of their son, Pluto.
"With much enthusiasm," Lucy said. "My editor was ecstatic to hear I'd write an exclusive about Fairy Tail's future and about what some of the more prominent guild members have been up to."
Pluto set down the bubble wand and stumbled towards Lucy for a hug. Lucy opened her arms and hugged her little boy. He looked up at her with ernest chocolate brown eyes. "Virgo come play?"
Lucy sighed. Pluto loved digging holes with Virgo. He seemed to inherit some of her affinity for Celestial Spirits, but he also had the ability to manipulate water. His favorite pastime was building sandcastles. "After we finish our lunch, okay?"
Pluto sighed. "Okay," he agreed. He sat next to Lucy and picked up his grilled cheese sandwich and took a small bite out of it.
Loke popped onto the scene and sat between Lucy and Gray. "Wow! A genuine Fullbuster family picnic!"
"Uncle Loke!" Sterling dropped her ice bubbles and threw herself at the Lion Spirit in a jubilant hug.
Loke laughed and hugged Sterling back before gently extracting himself from her arms. He tugged on one of her dark braids. "Nice to see you too, munchkin." He looked between Gray and Lucy. "Why wasn't I invited?"
"Because you like to show up when you want, and often ignore when I request you," Lucy answered. "Too many dates to answer the summons of an old friend."
Loke grinned and reached for a plum on the fruit platter. "Those days are long past, Lucy. You know Aries and I are exclusive. Why she'd have my di—."
His sentence was interrupted by Gray jabbing a swift elbow to his ribs. "Language," he reminded him.
"So, when do you head back to Magnolia?" Loke asked.
"The lease for our rental house is up at the end of the month," Gray answered. "Depending on how things go, we'll either buy a house in Magnolia or come back out here. The mountains of Northwest Fiore have been nice."
"Too cold if you ask me," Loke complained, rubbing his hands over his upper arms briskly.
Gray grinned. "My kids seem to like it just fine."
"They inherited your cold blood," Loke retorted. He glanced at the dark skies in the distance. "I am guessing we don't have much longer to enjoy this little family outing?"
"Wendy is meeting us in about two hours back at the house," Lucy answered.
"Aunt Wendy?" Pluto asked excitedly, dropping the uneaten half of his grilled cheese sandwich. He looked around, his big brown eyes wide as he scanned the hills and lake around them. "Where?"
"Not here yet," Gray said. He rubbed his knuckles gently between his son's shoulder blades. "We'll see her this evening when we get home."
"She'll bring news about the Natsu, Gildarts, and Laxus' training with Gildarts," Lucy said. "If I was to speculate, either Natsu or Laxus will be Master Makarov's choice for successor as Guild Master."
"It will be Laxus," Gray said. "Natsu has no interest in titles and Laxus is a changed man from when he felt like the entitled prince."
"Erza would be a good choice too, but no way she'd accept," Loke added. He glanced between them. "Though, there's no reason he wouldn't request the job of you, Gray."
Gray scoffed. "I don't think so." He began to create a scaled down model of the old Fairy Tail Guild Hall from ice. "Even if he did, I would have no interest in such a title." He looked past his creation, their children began to walk around it, peering within the open doors of the model at the furniture and miniature figures of the Fairy Tail mages. "I already have the only titles I'm interested in — husband and father."
"Oh! It's mommy and daddy!" Sterling cried out, reaching her hand into the ice model of the guild hall. She pulled out two figures and and hugged them tight to her chest.
"I want to see!" Pluto held out his hand and Sterling handed the figures to him. He grinned.
"So cheesy," Loke complained. He reached for a bowl mixed nuts and tossed a handful into his mouth.
"Why don't I ask Aries to join us?" Lucy suggested. She held out the Ram's golden key.
"Aunt Aries!" Sterling and Pluto echoed in unison.
Levy set aside the ancient manuscript and then finished the final sentence of her translation. She loved working with archeological treasures, but sometimes she missed going on adventures with her friends. At first, when the guild temporarily disbanded, she was relieved. She almost lost so many of her friends in the battle with Tartarus, it made her adventure in the enchanted fairy tale book seem like a luxurious respite. The moment she thought Gajeel might die, her world lost all meaning. She didn't care that in saving him, she almost died herself. It was a sacrifice she'd make time and time again.
She leaned back in her chair and stared out the window of her office. She thought about her latest correspondence with Lucy. She wasn't sure if she should reply to it, or just wait until they saw each other at the rebuilt guild hall. Mostly, she wondered what Gajeel was up to. It had been three months since they last saw one another. There wasn't any question in her mind about whether or not they loved one another. Sometimes, she was envious of the family that Lucy and Gray started. But, that wasn't for her — at least not yet.
There was a brisk knock at her door.
Surprised, Levy swiveled her in her desk chair towards the front. "Come in," she called.
Gajeel walked inside with an ear-to-ear grin, he set his guitar case next to the door without taking his dark eyes off her. Levy's heart skipped a beat at the unexpected sight of him. She stood quickly and he was before her almost instantaneously, scooping her up into his arms and hugging her tight. "Hey, Shrimp," he said, kissing the top of her head.
"I can't believe you're here," Levy said, gripping the front of his vest tightly.
"Of course I'm here — where else would I be?" Gajeel sat Levy on the edge of her desk and braced his hands on either side of her. He angled his face down and brushed his lips against her. At first it was merely a tease of their lips together, then Levy wrapped her arms around his neck and tugged him close. Their kiss was fiery and intense and they both came back breathless from it.
"It's so good to see you," Levy sighed.
An arrogant grin crossed Gajeel's face. "I thought we might spend a few days together before we head back to Magnolia together." He ran his fingers through Levy's short hair. "So, I took the long way here — through Joya."
"Through Joya?" Levy asked. Joya was a great deal to the west of Fiore and in now way near to where they were now. It was an even longer journey considering Gajeel's motion sickness. "Why?"
Gajeel reached into his pants pocket and pulled out a small silver box. He held it out to Levy. "For this," he said, opening the box to reveal a ring with a large blue diamond. "I was hoping we might be able to shorted the distance in our relationship."
A laugh bubbled out of Levy's mouth as she nodded her head in acceptance. "Of course, Gajeel!"
He breathed a sigh of relief and slid the ring on her left hand. "Great, now tell me what you've been studying and I'll play you the song I wrote on the train ride here."
Lucy and Gray sat next to Loke, Wendy, Charle, and Cana in the Guild Hall. Sterling and Pluto were in the care of Virgo and Aries at the hotel room they'd rented for the next two weeks. Levy and Gajeel entered together and headed straight for their table.
"Oh my," Lucy said in awe as she spotted the enormous ring on Levy's finger. "Congratulations!" she squealed hugging her friend in excitement.
"Thank you!" Levy squealed back.
Gray and Gajeel greeted each other with a hand shake and one-sided hug. "Where are your brats? The twins of terror?"
"Ah, they're not a terror. They're adorably sweet — unless you knock over their ice sculptures," Gray argued.
"That was one time!" Gajeel growled. He gestured towards the front of the hall near where Mirajane prepared drinks behind a bar that looked almost identical to the original one. Her siblings, Lisanna and Elfman, went about the guild hall serving the drinks. "When you think the old man is going to show to make his announcement?"
"After everyone arrives," Gray answered. "Master Makarov has impeccable timing." The door to the back of the hall opened and Natsu, Laxus, and Gildarts entered. Gray did a double-take at the sight of Natsu. His pink hair had grown wild and untamed. He reached out for Lucy's shoulder to gain her attention.
Lucy followed his gaze and grinned. "I'll see if he wants a visit with Cancer to tame that mane of his," she said.
Gray laughed and sat back down next to Lucy. Levy and Gajeel joined their table.
"Congratulations!" Wendy said to both Levy and Gajeel.
"You're so grown!" Levy said, hugging Wendy.
Wendy laughed. "I can't stay a kid forever."
"Sure, but even if you stay a kid at heart, people expect you to act all grown," Gajeel grumbled.
The door behind the bar opened and Master Makarov entered with Erza and Jellal— still in his Mystogan disguise — on either side of him. Master Makarov jumped onto the counter of the bar and surveyed the gathered guild members, his eyes focused on his grandson for a few moments longer than the rest.
"Thank you all for coming today, especially after the guild was disbanded." Makarov began to pace on the bar counter. "Today, Fairy Tail is officially back in business. All former members are invited to regain their positions. I do not come before you as Guild Master today — but as former Guild Master." He nodded his head towards Laxus. "I would like to invite the next Guild Master up here to say a few words. Laxus?"
The guild hall erupted into cheers. "Not too surprised," Loke murmured under the cacophony of celebration.
Lucy leaned over and whispered in Gray's ear. "What do you think? Want to stay? Laxus will be a good leader."
Gray looped his arm around Lucy and held her close. "Most of our friends are here," he said. "Honestly, I'm happy as long as we're together and our kids are safe."
"You're staying," Levy said. She gazed at Gajeel a moment in adoration before she directed her attention back to Lucy. She reached across the table and held her hand. "We're all staying because we're all family."