A/N: I'd like to welcome all of you to the final installment of The Shackled Rune. I was going to wait to post this until the end of the week, since CoLu Week just ended, but... We all know how little self-control I have when it comes to posting new chapters!
For anyone who goes back to read through this, I have removed all of the A/N's from the previous chapters so there is a more accurate indication of the real word count for the story.
It's been a fun ride. So, let's get to the story!
The months following their return from the Justine estate flew more quickly than either Freed or Lucy had realized. They'd been in contact with Angela through letters, but hadn't found the time to go and visit her with the man she was living with, Baelin. Freed did, however, receive a letter from Baelin himself, stating that he would be sure to care for Angela. From what the Rune mage could tell, this man was trying to reassure him that his mother was in good hands. That she was happy.
Freed wanted to believe that his mother had really found happiness, but he wasn't going to believe it until he saw her at the wedding.
"Freed," Lucy called out as she walked inside with the mail in her hands.
"Study," he called back with a smirk. He lifted his gaze from the thick tome he'd started reading just that morning to see his fiancee carrying a large package and dropping the rest of the mail on the corner of his desk. "What is this?"
"Not a clue," she answered. A small smile pulled up her lips when Freed leaned back in his chair, giving her a silent invitation to have a seat on his lap. "It's addressed to both of us. As far as I can tell, it's from Frances."
He shook his head once Lucy was seated, her legs off to one side and the package in her lap. She opened the package slowly, and the two peered inside to find a large manila envelope settled on top of a thin layer of silver tissue paper.
Lucy shrugged and opened the envelope, blinking in shock at the packet of information sitting within it, as well as the letter written in Frances' hand.
"What is it?" Freed asked softly.
She cleared her throat, tears coming to her eyes as she read the letter to Freed.
Freed and Lucy,
It has been two months since we've last spoken, and I wanted to extend to you both an invitation. Although you have forgiven me for what has happened in the past, I still feel as though it falls to me to make amends in some way.
Angela has left me, as I am sure you are both aware. I do not know where she has gone, and no one will tell me, but I do hope she is safe. Life is lonely without her here, and each time I sit at the table and see that she is no longer with me, knowing that she ran from me because of what I have done, my heart aches. I love her, and I always have, but I was not the man she deserved. I know that now, and I accept that it is too late to change anything.
Angela's departure has caused me to reassess things in life once again. The first time was when you, Lucy, came to retrieve Freed. I knew once the two of you left that things needed to change, and I started trying to decide just where I should start. With Angela gone, however, I am finally seeing just how much pain I have caused with my close-mindedness and hatred.
It is because of these turns in life that I am offering you the only thing I can. I know that you, Freed, do not want to run the business. I have accepted that, and Christophe is doing well in his role of taking over for me when the time comes. I dare say, he may be better suited for this than I had imagined. You do not want my assistance in life, and that is something else that I must accept. I cannot force anything on the two of you, and I do not wish to.
My wish is to give you a gift. Something to make up for the pain I have caused; although, I know that the damage is not something that can be mended with trivial baubles. If you do not wish to accept my offer, I will understand. The choice is yours, entirely.
Your wedding is coming up at some point in the future. Lucy, I remember you saying that you both were planning on sometime this December, but that you hadn't decided yet. Regardless of when it is, I would like to help you both by giving you the wedding you deserve. You will have all of my resources at your disposal. It was my decision in the past that ripped the two of you from each other's lives, and repeatedly over the years. Even though I have returned your memories, I still feel that I should do something more. This is the only conclusion I came to.
Should you need anything for the wedding, assistance in planning, contact information for planners and event coordinators, or even just money to cover the expenses, please do not hesitate to contact me. There is no point to having money and prestige if I cannot use it to help someone else, and the two of you are more than deserving of having everything you wish for in life.
While you may not have accepted my offer, I hope you will at least allow me to do this much. In this package are four hundred wedding invitations, ready for the information to be written in. I did not know how many guests you would want to invite, but I can only assume that you both have an overwhelming amount of friends that would be honored to attend your wedding. One of my associates has informed me, Freed, that Rune magic can be used to write multiple things at once, so might I suggest using your magic for these once you and Lucy have agreed on the required details?
Along with the invitations are the laws on marriage in Fiore, certain things you will need to ensure are handled so that your marriage is not nullified. I have gathered the forms necessary and placed them with this letter, to help take some of the stress off of this affair.
I hope to hear from you both, even if it is not in regards to your wedding. My actions have cost me the love of my life, and my youngest son. That Christophe is still by my side amazes me. I do not wish to lose you as well, Freed.
Freed chuckled quietly while brushing the tears from Lucy's cheeks. "Regards," he whispered. "My father is still painfully formal on occasion."
Lucy sniffled and nodded, a smile blooming on her lips. "Maybe, but I think that's as close as we'll get to getting an 'I love you' out of him in a letter."
"Most likely." He looked back down to the box as Lucy set the papers off to the side. "Would you like to see what he sent?"
"I guess," she said uncomfortably. "I don't know what we'll do about his offer though. It seems kind of wrong to use his money like that."
"Yes, and we do not necessarily need the assistance, financially."
After a deep breath, Lucy shook her head. "We'll think about it, how about that?" she asked, looking to Freed's tenderly smiling face.
"I agree." He motioned for the blonde to move the silver tissue paper, then lifted an intrigued brow when she gasped and pulled one of the invitations from the box. Deep red cardstock held a piece of vellum affixed to it with a simple silver ribbon.
The honour of your presence
at the marriage of
Lucille Beatrix Heartfilia
Frédéric Henri Tristan Beauregard Justine
The rest was left blank for the date and location of the wedding, as well as the reception.
"Of course he would put my full name on this," Freed muttered with a frown.
"Freed," Lucy giggled, "You're name isn't that bad."
"You have a hard time remembering all of it," he pouted. "I do not know what came over my father when he named me."
"If it's any consolation, my whole name is there too," she laughed. "No one knows that name."
"It is doubtful that anyone we invited would know who was getting married…"
"So, why don't you use your runes to fix the names?" Lucy asked. "Frances was trying to be helpful, and really… This is helpful. Ever and I couldn't decide what to do for the invitations."
"You haven't even decided on the day or venue," Freed laughed, taking the card from Lucy's hand and placing it - and the box - on the floor. His arms wrapped more tightly around her waist. "Yet you two are discussing the invitations?"
"Not anymore," Lucy grinned, her own arms winding around his neck so her fingers could tease the hairs on the nape of his neck. "Will you change the names?"
"You do realize that the officiant will have to say our names during the ceremony," Freed cringed.
"I think we'll survive."
He smirked as she tenderly kissed one corner of his lips. "Then… Yes, if it makes things easier for you, I will change them." His head turned and he captured her lips in a tender caress, letting his fingers glide over the silken skin of her outer thigh. God, he loved the summer and all the shorts and skirts Lucy wore because of the warmer weather.
"Did you think about where you want to do this?" Lucy asked, giggling as his kisses grew more insistent.
"The desk is fine," Freed muttered against her lips.
"I meant the wedding, Freed."
"I have," he said quickly. Lucy turned in his lap to straddle him, and the Rune mage hummed once his hands smoothed over her rounded backside. "Talk later?"
Lucy rolled her eyes in mock exasperation, a smile still on her lips. Well, as much of one as she could make while Freed continued kissing her. "Yeah. Talk later." A shrill squeal of laughter came barreling up her throat as Freed vaulted to his feet and laid her out on the desk, his lips leaving hers only to travel to her jaw and throat. Yeah, the wedding plans could be put off for a little longer.
Freed walked into the house with Laxus just behind him, both of their arms filled with grocery bags. The two made their way to the kitchen, and he paused in putting away the groceries when he heard a few soft notes being plucked on the piano keys in the study.
"Lucy's playing again?" Laxus chuckled.
"It appears so," Freed said with a soft smile. "She has been playing more since our memories were returned."
Laxus looked to the wall that separated them from the blonde, listening intently for whatever it was she might be playing that day. A few notes were played, then there was a long pause before a chord sounded out. Then another, and another. "What song is it?"
"I haven't a clue," Freed replied. "I think she may be writing music again."
"Wait, Lucy writes music?"
He nodded, leaning back on the counter while Laxus put away the last of the groceries. Normally, Freed would have insisted that Laxus simply relax while he did the work, but the blond Slayer was oddly adamant about helping. "Yes," he answered. "She has only written one song, for her mother, but stopped when Layla died and…"
"And when the two of you were split up," Laxus finished, frowning as Freed nodded. "That shit really did a number on her, huh?"
"On both of us," Freed said. "But we are managing." He smiled when light footsteps drew their attention to the hall, seeing the blonde in question appear not a moment later. Once she was in his arms, after giving Laxus a hug, Freed pressed his lips to her golden hair. "Hello, Lucy."
"Hey, sexy," she smiled. "You guys really did the grocery shopping?"
"Yeah we did," Laxus muttered. "What are you planning on cooking all that food for? That's easily twice as much as you normally get."
"Frances and Christophe are coming for a visit in a little bit," Lucy said happily. "The wedding is happening in a month, and we wanted to thank Frances for helping out with so much for it." The choice had been an easy one after Freed had finished adjusting their names on the wedding invitations. It was obvious that Frances wanted to help, and when Lucy had thought about it, she realized that it was the perfect way for Freed and his father to really start reconnecting. Frances could show that he was trying to be the father he should have been all along, and they could all work on getting closer to one another, to eventually be the family they should have been from the start.
"And by helping out, you mean indulging Evergreen and letting you come along for the ride," Laxus chuckled.
"I tried to control them," Lucy pouted. "I think he's as bad as Ever…"
"Lucy," Freed chuckled. "You must remember, this is my father. He has already asked to allow several high society families attend, and since we agreed…"
"I know, it means he has to put on a show for them."
"Do you think that's why he offered to do the wedding for you guys? So he could show off some more?" Laxus frowned, sticking his tongue out at Lucy when she smacked his hand away from the bunch of bananas he'd set on the counter.
"No," Lucy answered. "Christophe was apparently the one that mentioned the other members of high society last week, saying that they would probably be pretty put out if they weren't invited."
"It's your damn wedding," Laxus shrugged. "You can invite whoever the hell you want."
"True, but I'm marrying into the Justine family," Lucy sighed, smiling as Freed kissed her cheek.
"Yes, marrying me does have a string or two attached," he chuckled. "Even though I am not taking over the business, I am still, technically, the eldest. I do hope you won't be too discouraged by the prospect of dealing with those people."
"Nope, you're stuck with me for good… Frédéric Henri Tristan Beauregard Justine…"
His head dropped to her shoulder as Laxus snickered in the background. "Why did you have to remember it?" he grumbled.
"It's my job as your wife-to-be."
"It's also her job to embarrass the shit outta you, man," Laxus laughed. "Your poor, poor name…"
"You're one to talk," Lucy smirked.
"Shut the fuck up, Blondie."
"Ah, yes," Freed sighed wistfully . "Laxus-"
"Shut up, Freed!"
"- Magnus Dreyar," Freed finished.
"Yeah, Magnus," Lucy taunted. "Love the condoms, by the way."
"Those are Magnums," he shot back. "I should know."
"Yes," Freed coughed. "It seems there were a mistake in writing your name on the birth certificate."
"At least I can say my full name in one breath," Laxus muttered. "And sis… Your middle name is fucking Beatrix…"
"It's decided," Lucy sighed, shaking her head. "Our parents were smoking some serious shit when they decided on names."
"I think Bickslow is the only one in the Raijinshuu with a normal name," Freed mused as the front door opened.
"With the exception of his first name?" Lucy giggled.
"Andrew Bishop Miller," came the loud voice of the Seith mage from down the hall, instantly echoed by the souls that constantly followed him around. He rounded the corner with Evergreen just behind him, grinning at the other members of the team. "Bickslow's just a nickname."
When Lucy's jaw dropped and she looked toward Evergreen, the Fairy mage laughed and rolled her eyes. "Evangelina Rosalia Green."
"Really, Ever?" Lucy giggled. "Ev. R. Green?"
She shrugged in response. "It makes more sense than the insanity that Bix came up with."
"I really don't even remember how that shit came about," he chuckled. "My old man knows, though."
"Speaking of old men," Laxus laughed. "Guests are here."
Lucy perked up and grinned deviously. "Ever, get your camera out. This is gonna be hilarious."
"Oh god," Evergreen snickered. "I love you and your sick, sick brain."
"Lucy, what are you planning?" Freed asked, eying the blonde warily.
"Nothing too nefarious," she whispered, kissing the tip of his nose before rushing out of the kitchen with Evergreen hot on her heels.
The male members of the Raijinshuu followed behind them, curiously watching as Lucy threw the door open and rushed out onto the porch, then launched herself at Christophe just as he was about to knock. The two fell to the ground, with Lucy laughing and Frances staring at them with wide eyes.
Evergreen held her camera up and snapped several pictures, resulting in a play-by-play of Frances slowly wilting to the ground when Lucy sat up with Christophe and he was gifted with the sight of her cleavage pressed to his middle child's chest.
"Oh my god," Bickslow cackled.
"This is ridiculous," Freed sighed, still smirking when his brother collapsed a moment later.
"You're one to talk, man," Laxus chuckled, nudging Freed's side.
"I am at least able to get Lucy completely naked before I pass out from blood loss," Freed sniffed, brushing past the hulking blond - whose mouth was hanging open in shock - to lift his father from the ground and take him inside.
"Best greeting ever," Bickslow sighed, shaking his head.
"Dude," Laxus whispered. "I'm pretty sure Freed just told me he's got a huge dick…"
"Freed?" Bickslow laughed. "No way."
"He did," Lucy said with a wicked grin as she and Evergreen brought Christophe inside, passing by the two men. "And he does."
"I didn't need that mental picture," Laxus and Bickslow said in unison, visibly shuddering.
Freed sighed softly while making his way to the kitchen in the middle of the night to get a glass of water. His father and brother were fast asleep in Laxus's and Bickslow's spare rooms - with the rest of the Raijinshuu having gone to their own homes for the night - and Lucy was sleeping peacefully. He couldn't explain just what it was that had made him wake up, but he'd decided that a glass of water wouldn't be a horrible idea.
He paused once he reached the hallway just next to the kitchen, frowning when he saw the light in the study was on. He was sure he'd turned it off before they retired for the night, and he couldn't recall anyone going in there before then.
Completely forgetting his original reason for coming downstairs, Freed made his way to the study, slowly pushing the door open to peer inside. The lamp on the piano was on and one of Lucy's spirits was standing beside it with a quiet smile on her face.
"I was hoping you'd come down here," she whispered.
"Is everything alright, Lyra?" Freed asked softly.
"Oh, everything is fine. But, I wanted to do something special for you and Lucy." Her smile widened as Gemini appeared, the twin spirits turning into his fiancèe wearing nothing but a towel.
"Hello, Gemini," Freed nodded. "To what do I owe the pleasure?"
Gemi-Lucy giggled softly and looked toward the piano. "We heard from Lyra that Lucy was struggling to finish the music she was writing. So, we came out and finished for her."
"I do not know if she would appreciate that," Freed frowned.
"Gemini can access Lucy's memories," Lyra said. "And is, for the most part, just like her. So, I asked them to come out and finish the song, just as Lucy would. It's really beautiful."
Freed glanced at the sheet music on the stand, then slowly walked over to look at it. The notes drawn at the end were identical to the ones from the beginning, just as though Lucy really had done it all. "This is… amazing," he whispered. "She really wrote this?"
"Yes," Gemi-Lucy nodded. "She wrote all of it. Really, it already had an ending…" The twin spirits pointed to a section of the music that was only a few bars before where it ended. "We just added a couple things to round it out, since that's where she was heading with it before second-guessing herself."
"Lucy was just being hard on herself," Lyra sighed happily.
"This is for a full orchestra," Freed whispered. "And a piano?"
"She writes for the piano," Lyra replied. "I think the orchestra came later."
"Why did you have Gemini finish this?" he asked, still following the score as the notes danced along the page.
"I was hoping," Lyra said hesitantly, "That maybe you could dance to this at your wedding? She wrote it for you…"
Freed blinked in surprise again, staring with wide eyes at the spirits before him. "Wh-What?"
Gemi-Lucy smiled gently at Freed, the eye patch over her eye still opaque because the spirits couldn't mimic the magic in her eye, and took his hands in hers. "Our princess wrote this because of you, Freed. It's what she thinks of every time she sees you. And we think she was able to write this because she remembers your childhood now."
Lyra pulled out a stack of papers, gently placing them in the stunned Rune mage's hands. "I made a copy of the score," she said softly. "And there are a couple of side notes for performing that Gemini told me Lucy had in mind."
"Oh," Gemi-Lucy giggled. "And don't tell Lucy about it. Make it a surprise."
Freed shook his head, a breathless laugh leaving him. "Thank you, both," he whispered. "I should get back to bed before Lucy realizes I have left."
The spirits watched Freed walk out of the study, smiling as they turned off the light and shimmered back to the Spirit Realm.
Freed silently carried the score up to the second floor, pausing in the doorway to the master bedroom when he saw Lucy soundly sleeping. He continued down the hall to Laxus' room, where his father was sleeping, and slinked inside.
Frances' eyes slid open after several gentle nudges from his eldest son, and he frowned in confusion at the wide grin on Freed's face. "Freed?"
"I have a favor to ask of you, Father," Freed whispered, clutching the music to his chest.
Lucy was nervous as she stood in front of the full-length mirror, staring at her wedding gown and the seamstress that was fixing the hem at her feet. Since waking up that morning with Freed already having left their shared room at the Justine estate, she had been nervous.
This was it. They were finally getting married, and she really couldn't have been happier about it. And still, she was scared out of her mind. She and Freed were getting married. They were finally taking the next step in their relationship, and even though everything had moved so quickly for them in the beginning, this was one thing they'd taken their time with. Well, to a point.
Once Lucy had decided she was ready to start planning, and had allowed Evergreen and Frances to help her, things had just gone so smoothly, and so quickly, that she hardly knew what to do with herself.
"You look beautiful, Miss Lucy," the seamstress smiled up at the blushing bride.
"Th-Thanks," she whispered back.
She nodded, letting out a slow breath and shaking out her hands. She knew there was nothing to be afraid of. And she knew for a fact that Freed was already at the altar, waiting for her to show up. Then again, this would be the one time that fate would decide to rain on her parade, she was sure. The blonde had gone an entire year, and then some, without being kidnapped or anything else. It was bound to happen again, and if any day would be the prime day for it, Lucy was positive her wedding day was the one.
Then again, maybe she was just being paranoid.
"Well, that's completely normal, dear," the seamstress said, her wrinkled face crinkling further in a kind smile. "I can tell you, I thought my skin was going to crawl right off my body the day I married my Artie."
Lucy glanced down as the older woman took her hands and gently squeezed them, seeing the worn, golden ring on her left hand. "How long have you been married?"
"Sixty-five years, and counting," she laughed. "And I think, if I was marrying him again today, I'd still be just as nervous."
With another slow, steadying breath, Lucy turned back to the mirror as she was left alone in the room. The dress was perfect, just the way she'd wanted it.
What had started out as a strapless, backless white ball gown with a sweetheart neckline had been modified - at her request - to have sheer material stretching up over her shoulders, and down her arms and back. Lucy had considered going strapless, but because of the fact that there were some high society people there, and that she just loved the way it looked with the extra fabric, she decided to be a little more modest for a change.
To make it pop a little more, she'd had small silver beading details sewn into the sheer material and over the bodice.
The only thing she didn't really like about it was the train. That had been Evergreen, all the way, and Frances hadn't helped matters in the slightest. Lucy was a practical person, and the only time the three had disagreed on anything concerning the wedding was her dress.
Then again, Lucy supposed she would be able to deal with the two feet of extra fabric since she had downright overruled them when it came to her wearing heels. This dress and heels was a deathtrap. She wouldn't make it past the vows before falling and breaking her neck.
At the small knock on the door, Lucy bit her lip and nodded in determination. She wanted to marry Freed, and really… It was just a case of butterflies. She was excited to marry her best friend, and as she took the final steps toward the door, Lucy was finding that the butterflies were only making her more willing to get down to the altar.
She opened the door and came face to face with the maid that was to lead her downstairs, and gave the young woman a gentle smile once the bouquet of pale pink roses was handed to her. They walked in silence down the halls leading to where the wedding would be taking place. Namely, the grand staircase that led from the gardens in the west wing up to the ballroom where they were having the reception.
Lucy stopped just short of the doors that would lead her to the aisle stretching across the lawn, between the two rows of seats that were already filled with guests. She could see through the panes of glass in the doors that everything was just as it should be. Freed was standing at the top of the stairs with Bickslow and Christophe at his side. Evergreen, Mira and Cana were already situated on the other side, and all that was missing was the bride.
And then she frowned. There was a space right next to Freed that should have had his best friend and her surrogate brother standing there.
"You didn't think I'd miss your wedding, did you?" Laxus whispered into the blonde's ear, grinning when Lucy nearly screeched in terror.
"Damn, you look beautiful, little sis." He sighed as her blush deepened, looking from her elegant updo, pinned with a simple tiara and veil that wasn't pulled down over her face yet, down to what had to be, hands down, the perfect fucking dress for her. Lucy was more covered that normal, sure, but she looked like a damn princess in every sense of the word.
"Thanks," she whispered. "But, shouldn't you be up there? Y'know, since you're Freed's best man and everything."
"Yeah, but my kin's about to walk down the aisle with no one to give her away," Laxus smirked, lifting his hands and carefully pulling her veil down so her face was covered. He didn't really understand the point of her wearing a veil, but it was tradition and Laxus was going to do everything in his power to make this perfect for her. He moved to her side, gently pulling her hand up and placing it in the crook of his elbow.
"Does anyone even know you're down here?" Lucy asked, smiling up at him as they waited for the music to begin.
"Nope. But there's no way in hell I'm gonna make you do this alone," he said, his bright blue eyes barely pricked with tears as she tightened her grip on his arm. "You're my kin, and… It's my job to approve of the man you're gonna marry."
"Do you not approve of your best friend?" Lucy giggled.
"Eh," he shrugged. When Lucy laughed a little more loudly, lightly (not so lightly) punching him in the ribs, he couldn't help but chuckle. And just as Lucy calmed down, and was simply smiling up at him, the doors opened and the string quartet began playing. "C'mon, let's get your ass married."
She took a slow breath and looked forward down the aisle that seemed to stretch on for miles as the first few stanzas of Pachelbel's Canon in D played from the cellist. Just as she and Laxus took the first step out of the manor and into the garden, everything stopped and one of the four cellists started strumming a much more jazzy version of the leading chords, his head bobbing as though he'd been possessed by the eternal funk-meister that dwelled within Gajeel.
Her eyes went wide as she took in the replaced cellists. The four stuffy old men that had been playing during the rehearsal the day before were gone, and in their places were friends of hers and Freed's. And it suddenly made tons of sense, why the first cellist was strumming so much like the Iron-Slayer, because it was Rogue Cheney. Wearing a black tuxedo with his hair pulled back into a ponytail. And still, he was jamming like crazy. Apparently his idolization of the Iron Slayer had also carried into music.
The next to come in was Rufus wearing a dark grey suit with a red tie, plucking and rocking with the beat that Rogue had set up. She just couldn't find it in herself to hate any of it.
Not even when Bacchus, the third cellist to begin playing, tossed his bow to the ground and started using the body of his cello to create a steady percussive beat. That actually had Lucy smiling like a giddy little schoolgirl. Mainly because she was getting to see a friend of hers - through Cana, really - using his magic in a way that no one would have expected. And he was - unsurprisingly - good.
This was most definitely not the song that had been slotted. Well, it was supposed to be Canon in D, just… the normal way. The way that everyone played and heard during weddings. Lucy and Laxus continued on their way, with the blonde Celestial mage keeping her head held high as though this was completely expected.
It was when the fourth cellist began playing that Lucy felt a little more at ease. It was still the song, just kicked up a notch or two. That was perfectly fine. In all honesty, the original had been worn out at least a century before, and having a faster tempo made her feel as though this wasn't just some formal occasion that she'd been forced into.
Lucy hadn't known that Rufus, Rogue, Bacchus, and… 'Oh my god, Orga?!'... even played the cello. Or any instruments, really.
"Huh," Laxus muttered, side-eying the green-haired Lightning God Slayer for a moment. "Didn't know he could fit into a tux."
"I didn't know he could play a damn cello," Lucy whispered just loud enough for Laxus to hear. The enormous mage easily dwarfed the instrument, and yet… Somehow he played the melody so beautifully, even with the faster tempo, that Lucy was left just a little dumbfounded.
Laxus chuckled quietly as they continued with the slow, measured pace down the long aisle. All of Fairy Tail was in attendance, along with most members from their allied guilds. There were plenty of people he didn't know, though. And it was pretty damn easy to tell the difference between the high society snobs and their mage friends. Then again, Princess Hisui and Arcadios were sitting on the side that held Fairy Tail, and Laxus couldn't help feeling proud that she was next to his grandfather.
His favorite part of this wedding so far was getting to see the reactions of all those high society assholes while the four cellists continued jamming right the fuck out. Appalled didn't even begin to describe what those snobs looked like. Disgusted. Really, he shouldn't have been enjoying it as much as he was.
"Little sis," Laxus whispered, "Did you change it?"
"No, I thought you might have," Lucy giggled.
"No…" Laxus kept his face blank as he searched the crowd for Frances, catching the man's eye and raising a silent, questioning brow.
"Music?" Frances mouthed. When Laxus nodded discreetly, the Justine elder could only shrug.
With a deep fire burning in his gut, Laxus slowly raised his gaze to the landing halfway up the stairs, where Freed and the wedding party were already waiting. If someone had done this to try and ruin the wedding, then Laxus was more than ready to start electrocuting people. He wouldn't have an issue with it.
But then, he saw Freed. And the devious fucking smirk that barely made its way onto his face as their eyes locked. 'That sneaky little fuck!' No one would have ever expected the Rune mage to change the music for Lucy to walk down the aisle to. And especially not to this. Granted, there was nothing wrong with the music at all, and it was definitely a whole lot less boring to listen to.
Bacchus chuckled as the other three joined him during the breakdown, each of them beating on the bodies and necks of their instruments.
"You're marrying a cheeky little shit," Laxus laughed quietly.
"Freed changed it, didn't he…" When Lucy saw him nod out of the corner of her eye, she only smiled even more widely. It had been an ongoing joke for the past year that she was a bad influence on the Rune mage, and she was sure this was just more proof of that simple truth.
Lucy's eyes strayed to the stairs at the end of the aisle, the banisters on each side covered in roses and carnations in varying shades of red, pink, and white. The two sets of stairs that branched off on either side were the same as they led up to the ballroom balcony that overlooked the gardens. It was so beautiful, she was left just a little breathless.
The blondes paused at the bottom of the stairs and Lucy gazed down at the first step warily. She was sure that she would just break her ankle if she tried to get up these steps, and really, she should have considered having the seamstress just cut off part of the train so she would have been a little more at ease.
Just as Lucy was stuck wondering what to do, five golden objects floated down around her and lifted the front hem of her skirt, with two burrowing beneath it to pull the other layers up to clear a path for her feet.
She looked down at the two object she could see, smiling when she realized they were in the shape of little doves whose feet acted as clips to hold the fabric. Using Laxus' arm to keep her balance, just in case, Lucy started making her way up the stairs. Her gazed lifted to the Seith mage at the top of the stairs and she smiled when she saw that he wasn't wearing his visor, and the small green glow to his eyes while he grinned down at herself and Laxus.
"Freed," Bickslow whispered, leaning over slightly to get the stunned Rune mage's attention. "My babies wanted me to tell you…"
"Y-Yes?" Freed stuttered, a blush crossing his cheeks when he took in the sight of Lucy as she began to ascend the stairs toward them.
"Cosplayer's wearing some super sexy purple lingerie."
"Ah, thank you, Bickslow."
"I got your back, man," he chuckled.
It felt as though an eternity passed while Freed waited for Lucy and Laxus to get to the top of the stairs, but once they finally did, and once her hand had been placed in his with Laxus leaning down to place a small kiss on their joined hands to show his approval of their marriage, Freed found himself lost in a haze.
"Nous sommes réunis ici aujourd'hui pour assister à la majesté de l'amour," the officiant began. It was all mostly lost on the couple that stood before him, and he most especially didn't mind having to clear his throat discreetly to get their attention at the appropriate times. It wasn't all that often that he was called upon to perform a ceremony in this language, but he loved doing it all the more because of how beautifully crafted romance languages were. ("We are gathered here today to witness the majesty of love.")
Freed wanted to remember every moment of their wedding, but he couldn't stop himself from trying to see Lucy through her veil. From getting lost in the lilting melody of her voice while she spoke her vows.
"Moi, Lucille Beatrix Heartfilia, jure par le ciel pour vous emmener comme mon mari. Car tous nos jours, vous serez celui avec qui je vais toujours trouver la paix." ("I, Lucille Beatrix Heartfilia, swear by the heavens to take you as my husband. For all our days, you will be the one with whom I will always find peace.")
He knew that he'd said his, because he'd had them memorized for months, but when the moment finally came for him to lift the veil, his heart began pounding in his chest.
"Ce mariage doit être scellé avec un baiser," said the officiant, finally calling the ceremony to a close and nodding for Freed to lift his bride's veil. ("This marriage shall be sealed with a kiss.")
She was more beautiful than he'd ever imagined possible. A shaft of sunlight brightened the landing they stood on as her mismatched eyes were revealed. The proof of their love for one another, of the deep connection they shared from their childhood, stared back at him.
Lucy's gentle smile only widened when she was finally able to see Freed more clearly. He looked more than handsome in the black tuxedo he was wearing, with a red tie running down the length of his white dress shirt and a matching red vest beneath it. His sword was missing for this one occasion, but that was because he had asked her to store it in the small requip bracelet she used for her keys.
His hair was pulled up into a high ponytail, with his bangs still covering his right eye and the little lightning-shaped cowlicks sticking out from the sides. She was sure that he did it on purpose, since the last time she'd seen him with his hair pulled up like this had ended in a very sweaty night for the two of them.
One hand curved around her cheek while the other glided down to her waist, pulling her closer as he finally closed the distance between them. Although the kiss was chaste, as they most often were while he and Lucy were in public, he could feel her giddiness seeping into him as he quickly deepened it, his tongue pushing past her lips and curling wickedly around hers.
The polite applause from Frances' guests was instantly drowned out by the wild cheers from the mage guilds in attendance.
"Freed," Laxus chuckled. "Take it down a notch, I think your old man's gonna have a nosebleed."
Lucy giggled at the soft groan that her husband let loose while he kept kissing her, and slowly pulled back with one last tender peck to his lips. "C'mon, sweetie. There's more to do."
Freed smiled as his eyes finally slid open. "Yes," he sighed in resignation. "I suppose there is."
The couple turned and faced their guests, ignoring the disapproving looks from the other high society families as they waited for Bickslow's babies to place themselves at Lucy's skirt again so she could descend the stairs safely. With her hand resting in the crook of his elbow, Freed led her down the grand staircase toward a section of the gardens that was set up for their wedding pictures to be taken.
The constant catcalls from their fellow guildmates had both Lucy and Freed ducking their heads and blushing, but they were still smiling as widely as possible. Nothing could ruin that moment for them.
"Oh, they're going to have the most beautiful babies," Mira sighed wistfully from her place on Laxus' arm just behind the newlyweds.
Not even Mira's obsession with children could ruin it. Both Freed and Lucy were secretly thinking that the barmaid had a point, and now that they were married, maybe it was time to consider a little addition to their lives.
Once the pictures with the wedding party had been taken, Freed and Lucy slowly meandered around the garden to just bask in the small reprieve from the attention. It wasn't long-lived, however, because they still had a reception to get to, but it was enough for a few more stolen kisses.
They finally arrived at the ballroom, with Freed quietly chuckling over Lucy's almost silent berating of the skirt of her gown trying to murder her, and paused as the large glass doors were pulled open for them to enter. There was no chance for them to have a seat for a little while, so Freed simply led her over to the center of the room and turned to face her as they prepared to begin their first dance as husband and wife.
"What song did Frances choose for our dance?" Lucy asked quietly while Freed stood from his bow, straightening from her own curtsy.
Freed paused and frowned only slightly when he saw and felt how tense she was. "Lucy, is something the matter?"
She shook her head, a tightened smile on her lips. Really, nothing was the matter. It was just that the blonde had been trying to fit herself back into high society's standards so that she wouldn't embarrass Frances. He had done so much for the two of them in regards to their wedding, and she just wanted to pay back his kindness by showing that the woman that had married his once-eldest son was worth her salt.
"You need to loosen up," he chuckled as she nervously chewed on her lower lip. He was pretty sure he had an idea of what was the matter. She had been the picture of modesty and a shining example of how women should carry themselves during the entire ceremony. The only time she had really relaxed was when it was just him and their friends taking pictures with the photographer.
"I'm fine." When he simply raised an unamused brow at her, she quickly glanced around to see that everyone was watching them, and that the orchestra - which she was suddenly realizing was actually a full orchestra, and not just the strings that had been outside, and that the mages that had commandeered the music while she was walking down the aisle were back in the crowd - was poised and ready to begin playing. "Freed, everyone's waiting."
"Yes," he nodded. Slowly he lifted her hands and pressed his lips to her knuckles. "But, my wife is uncomfortable, and I feel it is my responsibility to help her relax."
"Like this," he smirked.
Lucy found herself laughing when Freed started wiggling, his arms flailing wildly just as he'd done when they were children. And that was when she realized that she was being an idiot.
Freed was nearly always the perfect example of propriety, but he didn't care about what anyone thought of them. He had even showed her that he wanted this to be about them, and not what was expected of them, when he changed up the music for her to walk to. And she knew that it was because this was their wedding. She and Freed had been living life the way they had wanted for several years, and they were comfortable and happy. There was no point hiding who she was now just because of where they were.
Besides, over the past several months, with Frances having been around more often to help with the wedding, she had come to realize that her father-in-law loved her just the way she was. Just as he loved Freed the way he was. Even Frances had started to loosen up, and she could only assume it was because he'd finally come to realize just what the strict life he'd forced upon his loved ones had cost him.
With a roll of her eyes, Lucy wiggled, laughing right along with Freed at the smug smile she received from her ridiculous Rune mage husband.
"Now you are ready," he smirked, pulling Lucy into position. "And, in answer to your question, I chose the song. I hope you do not mind, but I am very curious to find out what it sounds like."
A confused smile turned up her lips at that. Had Freed really chosen a song that he'd never heard before? Her eyes went wide as Freed pulled her just a little closer as the piano began to play. "F-Freed?"
He started leading her through the first steps of a Viennese waltz, one that he'd been practicing for the past month so that he wouldn't step on her toes like he always did while they danced. Evergreen had nearly beaten him to a pulp when he'd asked for her help, and Bickslow had no idea how to dance in the first place unless he was shaking his ass and making a fool of himself. That had given Freed only one other option, and that laid in Laxus. The Lightning Slayer was well-versed in more formal dancing, although no one that knew about it was entirely sure why, and he'd taken it upon himself to help Freed get through this dance with his dignity intact.
"It's beautiful," he whispered as they floated across the dance floor. The piano was hauntingly beautiful, tinged with a sadness that he could feel in each carefully plucked note. As the rest of the orchestra came in, slowly crescendoing until a single flute danced just over the melody, he could almost see what Lucy had while she was writing it.
Lucy's smile widened as she watched Freed hearing her music for the first time. Tears pooled in her eyes at the love that was shining down at her from him. This was for him, what she had written while thinking about him. The love and passion that had blossomed between them. How it swelled into the pain of their separation. Her determination to have him return safely. Everything they had shared together, she had poured into this song, just for him.
Freed gently spun Lucy and pulled her back into his arms while he continued leading her through the steps Laxus had taught him. Seeing the tears in her eyes nearly made him question just what it was that had happened to make her cry, but she was smiling, and he couldn't help but mirror it.
The music swelled into an overwhelming, passionate crescendo, the strings rising and falling in waves until everything died down to allow only the piano to ring out over the silent ballroom.
Freed gradually slowed himself and Lucy, pulling her closer and simply swaying from one side to the other as the song came to a close.
"One Man's Dream," Lucy sniffled as he rested his forehead against hers.
"You are my dream come true, my angel," he smiled, lifting her chin and tenderly kissing her. And she really was. Lucy had always been a dream come true for Freed. When they were children, the times they had managed to reunite over the years, even though they didn't remember one another. When she had saved him from being tortured. Every day and night since she had brought him out of that old monastery, held him when he needed it.
And now that they had their memories back, now that he knew just how important the blonde Celestial mage had always been to him, Freed was more sure than ever that she was going to be his dream come true for all of their lives.
After the cake had been cut, and when the music had changed from the orchestra to more modern music - something that Lucy hadn't realized Frances made sure would happen so that even the mages who weren't used to high society functions would feel like they were in their comfort zone (although, it could have been at Evergreen's insistence) - Lucy was tucked into Freed's side as they talked with a few of their friends.
Everyone in Fairy Tail knew that, for the most part, Freed was alright when he was surrounded by people that he knew, but they still all made a conscious effort to not crowd him - and to intercept anyone that tried to do just that, not knowing what would happen to the Rune mage. And both Lucy and Freed seriously appreciated that their family in the guild was looking out for him.
Lucy was stolen away from her husband for a quick dance with Loke, and when she came back, she was surprised to see Angela standing next to Freed with an unfamiliar man on her arm.
'That must be Baelin,' Lucy thought. By the time she had reached the small group, there was a familiar voice from a few feet away that drew everyone's attention.
"Dad! What are you doing here?!" Bickslow shouted, rushing over and embracing the older blue-haired man that was several inches shorter than him.
"D-Dad?" Freed sputtered.
Angela blinked in surprise as Freed and Lucy's teammate pulled back with a tongue-lolling grin that was alarmingly identical to her new husband's. "This is… Andrew?" she asked softly.
Baelin's grin stayed in place as he turned toward his wife. "Yeah, my little Andrew. Well, not so little now, since I've gotta look up his nose all the time."
Lucy bit her lips as Freed paled slightly. "Looks like Bickslow's your stepbrother, sweetie."
"Oh good lord," Freed whimpered. "M-Mother, why?"
Bickslow laughed and moved to throw an arm around Freed's shoulders. "Aw, don't be like that. You love me, Freed."
"I tolerate you," he huffed.
"Hey, if it wasn't for me, you wouldn't have gotten your ass thrown in a pool and got Cosplayer back, so… You love me. Your big... huggable... absolutely hilarious... stepbrother!"
"Kill me now," Freed whispered.
Lucy blinked, a helpless smile taking root on her face while stepping forward to give Angela a hug. "I've missed you, Angela."
"I've missed you too, dear," Angela said softly, blinking back happy tears. "I wish Layla could have seen this. She would be so proud."
"Well, I've still got a mom right here," Lucy said as she pulled back. The look of shock on the older woman's face had her giggling. "I'm your daughter-in-law now, but you were always like a second mom to me. I just wish we'd gotten more time together, y'know?"
"Y-Yes, dear," Angela laughed. She pulled Lucy into another hug, the two lingering just a little longer, before turning to introduce the blonde to her husband. "Baelin, I'd like you to meet Lucy."
As Lucy was putting her hand out for him to shake, she squeaked in surprise when she was pulled into a warm, inviting hug by Bickslow's father. And that was when she realized, aside from the fact that both Bickslow and Baelin had identically-colored hair, and they both laughed and smiled with their tongues hanging from their mouths - with the Seith mage's guild mark being the only real difference between their smiles… She was sure that Bickslow had learned how to hug properly from his father. And not a moment later, she was hugging him back, just as though it was Bickslow's arms around her.
"It's great to meet you, Lucy," Baelin whispered. "I, uh… I hope it's alright that Angie brought me to the wedding."
She drew back in surprise, smiling gently when she saw that he was, in fact, a little nervous. "Well, you make her happy, and you're her husband, I hear."
"Y-Yeah," he chuckled. "I am."
The fact that she could so easily see the pure love and adoration on the older man's face as his eyes strayed over to Freed's mother was enough to know that he was really in love with her. And the fact that his love for Angela hadn't diminished in all the time they had been apart, even with years gone by and her having given three children to Frances.
"Then I don't see any problem with you being here," Lucy finally said. "Besides, I've always wanted to meet one of Loke's old friends."
"Loke?" Baelin asked, his brows furrowing.
At the mention of his name, the Lion spirit stepped forward, grinning and pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose. "Baelin, I see you've met my princess."
"Your…" His eyes widened as he turned back to Lucy, finding the woman blushing up a storm. "You're his new master?"
"My friend," Loke corrected, leaning down to press his lips to her golden hair. "You remember when I came to visit and told you that Angela was coming?"
"Yes," he nodded.
"And the story I told you about the woman that saved me?"
"Lucy," Loke grinned. "My beautiful princess."
Freed laughed while pulling Lucy's hand and dragging her back toward him just before Loke could kiss her cheek. "And my wife, Loke. Do not forget that, or I will be forced to lock you in runes and feed you only wet cat food."
An easy smile crossed the spirit's face; although, he was internally shuddering over the prospect of that garbage people called food for cats. "Trust me, I couldn't be happier for the two of you. And as long as she's happy, then so am I."
"Oh, Baelin," Lucy laughed. "I have to ask you... Where did Bickslow's nickname come from?"
"People are still calling you that?" Baelin laughed while looking toward his grinning son.
"Of course! Bickslow is an awesome nickname!" Bickslow cackled. "Look at my face! Do I look like an Andrew?!"
While the nearby Fairy Tail mages shook their heads, Bickslow's father blinked slowly. "Yes," he deadpanned. "I named you myself." There was a round of uproarious laughter as he turned back to Lucy. "As for your question, Andrew got the nickname because he was a big kid and he always moved slowly. I said 'He's big and slow' one time and the little stinker shouted, 'I'm Bickslow!' He never let it go..."
The Seith mage laughed again, nodding as he remembered the story of his nickname. "I'm definitely not slow now."
"Just touched in the head," Freed smirked.
"I'll touch your head! Wait..." Bickslow drew back and shuddered. "I'm good. You're a married man, now."
"And your stepbrother!" Laxus shouted as he walked by with Mira on his arm.
"Freed and Bickslow are stepbrothers?!" Mira screeched! "Oh, the babies!"
"MIRA!" the nearby mages shouted, their eyes widening in horror.
"I-I don't think that's how it works," Angela whispered uncomfortably.
Bickslow threw his arm around his new stepmother, leaning down to kiss her cheek. He couldn't help it. If she'd married his dad, then she was part of the family even more than she'd been as just Freed's mother. "That's just Laxus' girlfriend for you, Mama. She's baby-crazy."
Angela flushed slightly at what Bickslow had called her, glancing at her once-eldest son to see a fond smile on his face. Even though he'd made it appear that he really didn't approve of himself and his own teammate being legally related, she could tell it was just Freed being Freed.
Lucy kissed Freed's cheek when she saw Frances sitting at a table, clearly not listening to the aristocrats that were surrounding him as he glanced longingly toward Angela. "I'll be right back."
"Of course," Freed nodded. He watched curiously as she made her way through the crowd on a nearly direct path to his father, wincing when he realized just what the older man must be going through.
Frances had been such an integral part of preparing for their wedding, even though Freed and Lucy had been adamant about paying for the majority of it themselves. But they had both been able to see it in his eyes from time to time, that he was hurting over the loss of his wife. And even more so now that the wedding was happening, and she was very obviously happy, smiling and laughing, in the arms of another man.
Freed had never seen his mother so happy. So open and carefree. When she and his father had been together, she was the picture of a high society women, and scared. But now, that was gone. She lived a normal, modest life with the man she truly loved.
Lucy finally came to a stop just beside Frances' chair, smiling when he completely ignored the two men that were nearly failing at holding their disdain for her interruption at bay. She and Freed knew things were hard on him, and that was part of the reason they'd let him help so much with the wedding. He was trying to make things right, and even though they all knew money couldn't fix everything, it wasn't his money that the two wanted.
They'd seen a new side of the elder Justine in the past few months. Kinder, gentler, more prone to smiling than he'd been before. Yes, he was still a professional eighty percent of the time, but that twenty percent was what they cherished from him.
"Yes, Lucy?" Frances whispered.
She looked to the two men, instantly recognizing one as Duke Junelle, and gave an apologetic smile. "I need to steal my father-in-law away for just a little while," she said, turning back to the elder Justine. "Would you please come with me, Frances?"
He sighed in nearly silent relief and stood, tucking her hand into the crook of his elbow as they walked away from the table and out to the balcony, pausing here and there for Lucy to receive congratulations on her marriage from mages and nobles alike.
Once they were outside, he wasn't the least bit surprised by how she turned and wrapped her arms around him. It wasn't appropriate in the slightest for the bride to be outside with her arms around another man, even her father-in-law, but he just couldn't bring himself to care as he hugged her right back. He had grown to love Lucy's hugs in the time they'd been able to see each other. "Your parents would be so happy tonight," he whispered.
"They would," she nodded. "But, I wanted to know if you're alright."
"Of course, Lucy," he said stiffly. "My son has married-"
"No," she sighed. "I mean about Angela." The blonde pulled back and took his slightly wrinkled hands in hers, her thumbs running over the backs of them. "Are you okay?"
A sad, almost imperceptible smile pulled at the corners of his lips. "It is difficult, but… I brought the pain I feel at seeing her with that man on myself. I can… I can only allow myself to be happy for her."
"But you miss her."
"Every day, I miss her more," he nodded.
"Have you… tried talking to her since the divorce?"
He shook his head then, turning toward the railing and looking out across the gardens with the sun setting on the far horizon. "We did not even speak for that," he whispered. "I knew that Christophe knew where she was, so I simply handed him the divorce papers. She… She sent them back within the week."
"Frances…" Lucy frowned slightly when she saw the faint hint of tears beginning to well in his eyes.
He quickly withdrew a handkerchief and blotted them away. "As I said, I did this to myself, Lucy. There is nothing between myself and Freed's mother any longer, and… That has to be alright."
"I still think you should at least talk to her," Lucy answered gently.
"We shall see."
They spent several minutes in silence until she finally drew away from the banister and held her hand out to Freed's father. "I have a request though," she finally said while they walked back inside.
"What might that be?" he chuckled.
"Well, Freed's about to have his dance with Angela, and… I would be dancing with my dad right now, but…"
He blinked in surprise as he saw Freed and Angela standing together on the dance floor, seemingly waiting for something to happen. His gaze flickered to Lucy, to his son and ex-wife, then back to the blushing bride. "You…"
Lucy led Frances onto the dance floor, a respectful distance from her own husband. "Would it be alright if I had my father-daughter dance with you, Frances?"
He nodded wordlessly, an astonished smile on his face while they got into position. The music began, a slow jazz piece that he and Angela had danced to at their own wedding. 'Moonlight Serenade,' he thought while leading Lucy through the simple steps. At the time, he'd made this one concession for his new wife, allowing her to choose the song they'd had their first dance to.
This time, however, Frances hadn't chosen any of the music. It had all been left up to Freed, and by proxy, to Laxus for more contemporary pieces. He was sure his son didn't know that this had been an important song to Angela at one point.
Then again, as he turned Lucy and caught a quick glance at his ex-wife, Frances' breath caught when her eyes locked onto his. He gave her only a sad smile before returning his attention to his dance partner, barely catching the one she sent him back. Angela remembered what had once been their song, and he could only assume that Freed must have found out. This was as close as Frances would ever get to dancing with her again.
"Thank you for everything, Frances," Lucy whispered.
"It was my pleasure, Lucy," he replied. "Being able to do something worthwhile has helped me these past few months."
Lucy smiled at Freed when she was able to see him, then bit her lip and looked back to her father-in-law. "Well, I was serious about you and Angela talking."
"I think it would be best if I allow her to move on completely," he sighed.
"True, but Freed and I both agreed that we would want the family to come together for special occasions. And it might make things a little less painful if you two can at least be friends."
He chuckled quietly, shaking his head. "It may be in your best interest to simply leave me out of those occasions," he sighed. "Angela and I were never friends to begin with. Arranged marriages simply didn't work that way."
"Well…" She gave him a shy smile, her cheeks flushing slightly. "I think you may change your mind when your grandbaby is born."
Frances stumbled, his eyes widening. "G-Grandchild…?" he sputtered, quickly regaining his footing as Lucy laughed.
"Not yet," she assured him. "But… Maybe in the next year."
"You and Freed have… talked about this?"
"Sort of," she whispered. "I'll talk to him about it on the honeymoon, I suppose." She couldn't help but snicker when Frances' cheeks flushed and he blinked repeatedly. "I think we're both ready to have a family, Frances. And whenever the time comes, we'll want you and Angela there to celebrate."
His gaze strayed to his ex-wife as the song ended, with Frances automatically hooking his arm to lead Lucy across the floor to Freed. "M-Maybe…"
She smiled and leaned up to kiss the older man's cheek. "I'll take a maybe," she whispered. Once she was with Freed again, she shook her head at the curious look he was giving her. She would tell him later on about her attempt at bringing his parents together in a way that would make everyone happier in the future.
Lucy's arm was hooked around Freed's as they stood at the entrance of the estate. The hundreds of guests that had been invited were already lined up and waiting to bid them farewell.
Their excitement was palpable and the newlyweds simply couldn't contain their smiles, not that they were trying all that much. Lucy was more than ready to be out of there, and she just knew that Freed felt the same.
Their honeymoon wasn't going to be a long one, and was only a few hours away in Akane Resort. The next week would be theirs alone.
"Are you ready?" Freed asked.
"More than ready," she nodded.
They descended the steps from the entry, grinning unabashedly as cheers sounded from their friends in attendance. Once they'd reached the bottom, Freed and Lucy looked at one another for only a moment, then set off on a mad dash, hands intertwined, through the sudden shower of rice that came from their guests. They both knew that, even though the tradition had fallen by the wayside in high society, their friends in the guild and neighboring guilds would be hard-pressed to ignore the chance at making a mess.
Multicolored bursts of magic shot into the air, creating their very own fireworks show as the couple ran to the white carriage with two white horses that was waiting for them at the end of the long red carpet. Bouquets of white and pink carnations rested along the back and bordered the door that was sitting open, with their driver waiting and smiling all the while.
They finally stopped and Freed helped Lucy get into the carriage without incident, chuckling when he saw that Bickslow's totems, still housed in the little golden dove figurines from the ceremony, lifted the train of her gown to make things go a little more smoothly.
Once she was settled, and the five golden doves flew back toward the Seith mage, he made his way in and took a seat next to her.
Laxus' arm wound around Mira a little more tightly, tears welling in his eyes as his best friend and the woman he'd taken as kin turned to wave through the window in the back of the carriage while it finally started pulling away.
Another resounding chorus of cheers came from the wedding guests, and Lucy and Freed caught small glimpses of the family they were leaving behind (for a short while, that is).
Frances stood on one side of Angela, his hand on her shoulder and happy tears dripping down his cheeks. On the woman's other side was Baelin, grinning like a madman, just like his son who stood just behind him. Bickslow was carrying an already very intoxicated Cana piggyback.
Christophe stood off to one side, his arm discreetly wrapped around a grinning Levy. A good distance away, Gajeel had picked up Wendy so she could sit on his shoulder, both of them smiling and waving.
Natsu and Gray were behaving themselves, most likely because Erza was sobbing and holding onto them for dear life. They did look a little blue in the face.
There was nothing more that could have made their night more perfect, Lucy decided. She had married the man that had always held her heart, her best friend. And, as she looked into his eyes, making sure that her eye patch was transparent (as it had been all day), Lucy found herself falling in love all over again.
No matter what had happened in their past, no matter how many times they had been torn apart, she and Freed had always found a way back to each other.
They knew that the future wouldn't be easy, and that there would be fights and other hurdles they would just have to deal with, but Lucy knew… and Freed knew… They were meant to be together.
He brought their lips together in a chaste kiss while his hands covered hers. "I love you, Lucy Justine," he grinned.
Lucy giggled and lightly nipped at his lips. "I love you too, Freed Justine." She was tempted to mention wanting to try for a baby right then - well, that they could start while on their honeymoon - but decided that she wanted to wait until they were in their hotel room. Just in case her dear, sweet husband decided to have a nosebleed over it.
So instead, Lucy just let herself sink further into his embrace, allowing his lips and tongue to slowly take her breath away as they got further and further from his father's estate.
This was going to be their new adventure. Together, in love, and there was nothing the world could do to stop them.
And they lived happily ever after.
And that concludes The Shackled Rune.
Yes, I went with a total fairy tale ending for them, but I think that Freed and Lucy totally deserved it. I'd like to thank all of you for being so supportive over the course of this story for the past year and a half. All the ups and downs, the single hiatus, the long breaks between updates. You're words of encouragement have helped me to become a better writer, and we never would have gotten to this point if it wasn't for all of you.
So, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you.
Now, in case you're wondering about the music that was used in this chapter, here are the links on Youtube:
-Lucy walking down the aisle (Thanks to LittlePrincessNana for convincing me that this needed to happen)
Piano Guys, Pachelbel's Canon in D: watch?v=LV5_xj_yuhs
-Lucy and Freed's first dance
Yanni, One Man's Dream: watch?v=ihic3AqopZk
-Father/Daughter, Mother/Son dance
Glenn Miller, Moonlight Serenade: watch?v=_X8sz_wgrSc
So, Review, Follow, Favorite! I love you, guys!
This story is complete!