*Disclaimer: I do not own the story or the characters from Fairy Tail, Hiro Mashima owns them.*

CHAPTER 33

Layla pulled her daughter back a few steps as the pink haired stranger on her couch slowly sat up. His olive eyes were intensely focused on Lucy. She cleared her throat, catching his attention. His eyebrow arched slightly before shifting his gaze back to her daughter. "I'm Layla." He nodded slightly, not looking her direction. Her eyes caught the red emblem on his arm. "You're from Fairy Tail?" She turned to the others, noting the emblem across the red haired woman's armor and the dark tattoo across the dark haired man's chest. Her eyes widened as her face grew warm. "Sir! Your shirt!"

The dark haired man looked down and gave a soft yelp as he scrambled for his missing shirt. The other woman bowed slightly. "Mrs. Heartfilia, first I would like to know if I can call you Layla?" She nodded slowly. "I would like to introduce myself to you. I am Erza. This is Gray and Happy. Over there is Natsu." Layla looked curiously over to the rose haired guy who was now admiring the room.

"What business do you have here?" She shifted and sat on the sofa, pulling Lucy to the seat beside her. "Please, have a seat." Erza pulled Gray over to the couch and the sat next to Natsu. Once everyone seemed to be settled, Layla repeat her question.

Erza shifted in her seat, clearly determining the best thing to say. "I would like to start by asking you what year this is."

Layla stared, dumbstruck. "What?" The group watched her, serious expressions adorned their faces.

"776." Lucy said enthusiastically, happy to be a part of the conversation. Layla glanced down at her child with a tender smile before nodding slowly to the group.

"The year is 776."

Erza thoughtfully looked at her hands, contemplating what to say. Gray looked over to Happy. "So you haven't even hatched yet."

Happy puffed out his cheeks before flying over to Natsu, wailing. "Natsu, Gray's being mean!" He landed on his shoulder and followed the dragon slayer's gaze to the small Lucy. She sat staring back in amazement.

Gray crossed his arms and grumbled out, "How's that being mean?"

Layla cleared her throat. "Lucy, dear, why don't you go and play?"

She pouted her lips up to her mom, her large brown eyes pleading. Layla eyed the group again before turning back to her daughter. "I would prefer it if you would go play Lucy."

Happy leapt across the couch. "Natsu and I can play with her while you talk to Erza."

Layla looked disapprovingly over to the pink haired mage. "I'm sorry, but I just met you all. As if I would just let some strangers be alone with my child."

Natsu frowned. "We would never hurt her."

Layla pulled a key from her waist. "Capricorn." The goat spirit appeared and bowed in front of her. "Please take Lucy into the other room."

Lucy pouted as she slid off the couch and gave the group a long look of disappointment. Once the door was closed, Layla turned back to the group. "I think we should get back to the topic. What business do you have with me?"

Erza scooted towards the edge of her seat. "This is going to sound crazy." Layla nodded slowly, seeming to prepare herself. "We come from a different time."

Layla's eyebrow furrowed slightly. "How?"

Gray shrugged. "We aren't entirely sure. There was this other mage and his magic is what brought us here."

Layla frowned. "Why here?"

Natsu crossed his arms over his chest, his eyes bore into her. "They're after Lucy."

Layla stiffened. "Why would they be after her? She's only a child."

"That's the thing." Erza glanced at Natsu before turning back to the celestial mage. "Lucy is part of our guild in our time."

Layla stared at the group in bewilderment. "She. . she joins a guild." Her gaze travels down to her hands. "She joins Fairy Tail." The group watch her process the information, jumping when she starts laughing. "Sorry." She finally managed. "It's just so funny."

Natsu scowled. "What's so funny?"

Layla shook her head, her blonde curls bouncing. "Nothing. Nothing." Her brown eyes looked over the group, a warmer glow in them. "Tell me, what is she like at Fairy Tail?"

Erza smiled. "Well, she is strong."

"She loves to write." Gray added slowly."

Natsu leaned back in his seat. "She's weird." Gray and Erza give him a pointed look; he ignored them and continued. "She's always complaining when we go on missions, but we can tell she is enjoying. She has all sorts of weird animal spirits and can summon more than one at a time. She never likes it when we read her books and is always kicking us out of her apartment." His eyes travel back to Layla. "She looks a lot like you."

Layla stared back in shock at Natsu, before letting a small laugh escape. "That does sound like how she might be. You mentioned spirits. Celestial spirits I'm assuming?"

Natsu nodded. "Yeah, she has a bunch of them. A crab man, a cow, Virgo."

"Don't forget about that horse man too! Plus she has Loke." Gray added. Layla furrowed her brow in thought. "Oh right, Leo."

Happy chimed in, "And Gemini and that goat man and Plue."

"Don't forget about her clock guy, and that sleepy old one." Natsu continued with a laugh. "She also has Aries and that one that sings. Don't forget about her compass duck. She has that scorpion guy with the sand moves too."

Erza stared thoughtfully at the group. "Aquarius too." Natsu and Happy shuddered slightly.

Layla let out a hearty laugh. "I see Aquarius hasn't changed much if just her name can get out that reaction. So, sounds like she has…. 10 zodiac spirits?"

The group nodded with a loving smile. Layla nodded thoughtfully to herself. "Thank you for taking such good care of her, I can tell that she means a lot to you all."

"AYE!"

"So you came here to warn us about those men?"

"We came to protect Lucy." Natsu said seriously, all signs of his former ease gone.

"I think I can protect her myself." Layla said slowly.

"Mrs. Heartfilia."

"Layla. You may call me Layla."

"Layla." Erza slowly said. "If I must say, they came from the future intent of attacking her."

Layla narrowed her eyes. "How did you come from the future? Did you use a device? You said it was through another mage's magic. Who is this man?"

"We aren't entirely sure. They are working with this bad group." Happy said sadly. "He mixed some potions together and then the room felt like it was spinning."

Layla nodded, seemingly relieved. "Okay." She let out a slow breath. "I understand that you want to help, but I don't want the staff to know. Their worry will reach my husband and I'd hate for him have to be involved." The group sat silently in front of her, their expressions reserved. Layla internally shuddered of their lack of expressions. "Tell me, what is Lucy's relationship with. . us?"

Erza and Gray looked away avoiding her gaze. Happy's eyes looked like they were about to start flooding the room. Natsu sat grimly in front of her, expression dark and serious. "Do you really want to know?"

Layla shook her head slowly, wondering what those expressions could possibly mean.

Natsu let out a shaky sigh. "She loves you both." He finally was able to say.

She looked down to her hands, thinking over their reaction. "That wasn't fair, I shouldn't have asked. It's better I don't know more about the future."

The group nodded hesitantly. Natsu stood up and stretched. "Do you mind if one of us stays with Lucy?"

"Just until this whole mess is sorted out, of course." Erza added hastily at Layla's reaction.

Layla frowned thoughtfully. "As long as I have a spirit with her as well, that'll be fine." Natsu walked towards the door. "Would you like me to have someone show you where she is?"

Natsu waved her off. "It's fine, I'll find her."

Layla shivered at the implied ease it would be for this stranger to locate her daughter, and stood to follow him. "I'll join you." Natsu didn't seem phased and continued out the door. Layla followed him curiously the rest of the group slowly trailing behind.

They soon found themselves in a large library where Lucy was perched on a large chaise lounge, engrossed in a rather large book. She looked up at hearing the group enter, a large smile spread across her face. "Are you all here to play?"

Layla gave her daughter a sad smile, guilt clouding her delicate features. Happy flew across the room. "Aye! What do you want to play first?"

She launched her small body off the chair and grabbed the blue Exceed's paw. "YAY!" She cheered jubilantly. "What do you want to play first?"

Layla stepped in her path, blocking her from the door. "Lucy dear, I need you to stay inside today. Can you do that for me?" She pouted, looking out the window before turning back to her mom with a disappointed nod. Layla smiled. "Capricorn, will you please stay with her?"

The spirit bowed from across the room and followed Lucy as she pulled Happy out the door. Natsu followed shortly behind. Layla turned to Erza once it was only the three of them remaining. "Natsu, he seems to be close with her."

Erza nodded. Yes, they are very good friends."

"Natsu's actually the one who brought Lucy to our guild." Gray said casually before earning a smack across his head from Erza. "What the hell?! Why'd you hit me?"

Erza glowered over him. "Your clothes." Gray looked down with a startled yelp when he found he was only in his boxers.

Layla shook her head with a smile. "Oh Lucy, what type of friends do you have?"


Finally, out of school for the semester. Now that it's Christmas week, I'll be a bit busy, but I plan on posting another chapter by next Sunday, I should be able to write another chapter.

Thank you all for your continued support. Leave me a review and let me know what you think of this latest chapter! I hope you all enjoy the direction of the story, even if this was a slow chapter, more or less, just informing Layla. I wish I could have had more of her in the show/manga so I hope my version can be satisfactory. =)