The seven year gap after Tenroujima hit everyone hard. It was difficult for the sleepers trapped in Mavis's magic and for those who were left behind to uphold the guild by keeping it from ruin. The world Lucy and her fellow sleepers had missed was suddenly thrust upon them after they were awakened. Although seven was a small number when one looked at it, when you counted the days, seven years was a long time. Considering that she was only seventeen when she met Natsu, seven years (at that point) was almost half her life span.
Had she not been put to sleep, she would be in her mid-twenties right now. Odds are she would be married, maybe with kids. She would be a much more powerful mage, hopefully with a few more keys to her already full keyring. Perhaps her relationship with her father might have gotten better before he died as opposed to after his death.
So many of these what-ifs and more went through her head whenever Lucy went shopping or went on a mission or hung out at the relocated guild and these big changes glared at her. When she looked at the members who had grown up or aged further, it often saddened her that she had missed out on the lives of those people that she cared so much for. She would never get that time back. She would never be the proper age she should be had fate never dealt her this hand.
She also thought about what would have happened had Kana not entered her bathroom that fateful day and told her about Guildarts. Had she not gone, she would have tearfully waited and worried and lived while her friends were stuck on Tenroujima. She would have lost her mission partner and would have had to either enter into a new group (which would have been wrong in her heart since Natsu brought her to Fairy Tail and asked to be her partner) or braved it alone and waited. She would never have left the guild like others had done; Fairy Tail was her only home now. But she would have dated and maybe found love. She would have trained over time and become powerful in her own way. So many things that would never happen or still not happen for a long time.
Lucy usually tried to turn all those depressing thoughts into positive daydreams. She tried to imagine interesting or fun scenarios in her head to bring her mood up. After all, there was nothing to be done but accept what had happened to them. She told herself so many times that nothing was going to change this. However, many visions of Mr. Right didn't help because when she thought that she may have met him by now, it blew up all her good intentions. She would then resolve to stop thinking about it and would do something else to take her mind off things. Putting the topic out of her mind only shoved things away instead of dealing with them. It was merely a band-aid over a visible wound that wouldn't heal.
She contemplated many nights if she would rather be a part of the Tenroujima group and be younger, yet less experienced, or with the rest of the guild and have all the knowledge of those years, yet worry the entire time about her friends. There was no good answer; there wasn't even a "lesser of two evils". Both were undoubtedly sad circumstances and picking one was just as bad as picking the other. Yet Lucy was lost in these thoughts that plagued her and a lot of times would lose sleep because of it.
The announcement of the Grand Magic Games and her role in it was a big help to keep her mind busy...for the most part. The three month training brought her hypothetical thoughts back because of why they were at that beach. They were there because they needed to get their power up after the time of not having used it for so many years. Her friends were also a big help to keep motivating her into wanting to train hard. Even if they never did get the time they needed due to that party in the Celestial World... Thankfully, Ultear's group found them and gave them that chance to still become more powerful so that they could even compete in the Grand Magic Games without getting utterly trampled.
Another huge help was her partner. She just couldn't stay sad when she was with Natsu. He took any situation and looked at the positive in it. He had never worried about himself; he worried about the guild members that were within the flow of time. This was most evident during his unfortunate round of the Games which pitted him against transportation in the Chariot race. He struggled through his biggest vice and still managed to get them points. Even in that lowest moment, he was worrying about others. He really was amazing. His words were a big inspiration to them all...even to the crowd. Natsu changed the opinion of that huge throng with mere words and after that one competition, people started cheering on Fairy Tail more and more.
If anyone asked, Lucy would fully admit that she heavily relied on Natsu in so many ways. She often used his presence or such inspiring words to get her past a depressing situation. She didn't have enough fingers and toes to count them all on! His latest words after the unfair match that she should have rightfully won had stopped her tears, but her frustration didn't dissipate so easily. Her emotions were only stowed away during her shower, but they flared up whenever Raven Tail was battling. She had been ready to fight fair and square and was so sure she had the battle to her favor until the dark guild resorted to petty tricks and ensnaring her guild.
After she found out that she was being targeted and her friends had been kidnapped instead of her, Lucy's anger and confusion only increased. People could have gotten hurt because they had got the wrong one! But openly being angry wouldn't help everyone and it wasn't going to bring answers in the middle of the Grand Magic Games, so Lucy again was forced to bypass her emotions for what was going on. She had to tell herself to trust in the capable hands of Makarov and those that had come to cheer them on so that such a stunt wouldn't happen again.
Thankfully the Games didn't go on for hours and hours every day. It was only a handful of rounds and then everyone was given the rest of the day off to recuperate or do whatever they wanted. That was really nice because the tournaments were mentally taxing as is let alone the new developments that had sprung up.
As sad as it was to think such a thought, it was kind of nice that Gray also experienced a loss because there was someone else who knew how she felt. It helped her get over herself enough to head to the Bar Sun they had frequented since they got to Crocus. Master's words that evening helped to inspire her as well. Things had pretty much returned to normal as if they were back at Fairy Tail again. Being near her friends had really managed to cheer her up from the day.
Lucy had taken a seat away from all the usual brawls and loudness. It was better, and more entertaining, to watch from a safe distance because she never knew when someone would suddenly come crashing in her direction. With the challenges that Natsu was throwing out and all of the guild members he was beating up, the farther the better.
"Sure is loud in here for a bunch of kids..."
Lucy turned at the voice next to her bar seat and tried not to cringe at the smell of alcohol that wafted her way. Despite being in a pub, this man seemed to be distilling it from his pores. She didn't know what to say to explain, or apologize for, Natsu and his behavior, but it didn't matter. She locked eyes with the red-faced man and he leered at her a little, effectively killing her thought trail.
"Hey there babe. I see you're in Fairy Tail's guild too huh?" He leaned in. "You sure don't seem to have the same sense of adventure that the others do. Sitting here all by yourself..." He held up a glass. "Care for a drink with me?"
The uncomfortable smile twitched a little. "Eh heh heh. Sorry, but I don't really drink...it's not my thing."
The drunkard pulled away with a perturbed look. "Hah? Just have one drink with me doll. Here, you can have my glass."
She almost fell off the chair in her effort to back away from the glass trying to slosh its way in her mouth. "N – no thank you! I can get my own!" In order to get him to get away from her, and knowing that one glass wouldn't be the end of the world, Lucy ordered the weakest alcoholic drink possible. She tried to finish it quicker than normal to get him away from her since there weren't many empty chairs in the room which she could take refuge on as she was trying to do now.
"That's the spirit! Let's have another." The man ordered another one for himself and her as well before she could say anything. "It's my treat."
"Um...one is pretty much my limit... I think I'm good..." It wasn't the whole truth, but it seemed to be the right answer to get the drunk away from her. She didn't really lie; that one drink with her lack of expertise was starting to affect her.
The man chugged the glass and grabbed the one she refused to touch. "You're no fun...guess I'll have to drink with that one over there...she looks like she'd have a few with me..."
Lucy breathed a sigh of relief as she watched him saunter over to Kana's table. She watched him enter into a match with her friend and sat there in amaze. This was going to be good. "Can I have another of what I had prior please?" She requested to the bartender before turning back to watch the match. She needed to get the taste of that horrible alcohol out of her mouth. The juice she had before things went awry would be just fine.
When the glass came, Lucy forgot about it for a while since her curiosity was mostly on what was going on before her. She sipped it absently, barely noticing when it was emptied and ordered herself another. Kana and the guy had round after round, not stopping it seemed. She wondered where all that alcohol went, even after all she had seen Kana drink earlier with the Raijinshuu group.
She was totally shocked that Kana lost to someone at drinking! Never had such a thing been witnessed! Her face flamed when he grabbed Kana's top and started walking out with it. Such horrible behavior from someone to her guild! This guy beat two of the guild members in mere seconds even after all that alcohol! She wanted to go help, but noticed a flash of metal on one side of the room and breathed a sigh of relief.
"Hah? Yo...if it isn't Erza..."
To find out that Erza knew him and that he was really strong was a shock. She couldn't help herself from getting up and going over. "You know him?" She watched their conversation, looking at the mark on Bacchus's back as he walked out. Good riddance! He didn't need to cause trouble for the guild before they even made any good headway in the tournament.
She wanted to believe Natsu when he said that Erza was stronger and that those battles were seven years old, but if Erza herself said that there had never been a winner to those past duels, Lucy was more inclined to believe the one who actually fought Bacchus.
Her head shook as she headed back to the stool, leaving Natsu and Gray to their ever-present, noisy scuffle. Her head was starting to hurt a little for some reason. Was it because of all the noise and excitement? Maybe it was just getting late and she was getting tired? She plopped onto the chair, feeling kind of odd walking around. She went to grab her half empty drink and paused before swallowing the amount she had attempted to have. The flavor was off. She didn't want to be gross and spit it back into the glass so she finished the swallow and looked to the bartender. "What is this?"
"What you asked me to make you prior."
She blinked, a hand going to her head. The headache wasn't helping her to think right now. "Prior. Yes. I was having juice prior to whatever I had to order to get Bacchus away from me." She looked to the glass and sniffed it. "What did you give me?" She met the bartender's raised brows. "What?"
"You wanted juice?"
She blinked. Blinked again. "What is this if it's not juice?"
"Alcohol... You said prior... I thought you meant as in seconds not as in previous..."
She groaned and put the glass down. "How many did I drink?"
The bartender's head tilted. "You had one with Bacchus and two more after that. You don't remember?"
That explained the headache and the weird feeling. She was probably drunk! And she didn't have that much to eat when they got to the Bar Sun either so now she was really in trouble. Would food even help at this point? She groaned a little and pushed the glass toward the bartender to get it away from her. Not exactly how she wanted to end the evening!
Lucy's headache was only getting worse the more that Natsu and Gray kept arguing nearby and others were being almost as loud. Not that everyone wasn't normally loud, but her hearing had picked up and magnified everything. She bet on the alcohol doing it. Even if she didn't hardly drink at all, partially because she had no real interest and mostly because she was still underage, she at least knew that what was happening to her was due to the drinks.
It was time to head out. Although she wanted to enjoy the company of her fellow guild, they were too much for her to handle with this issue going on with her. She stood and put a hand on the bar for balance as the sudden shift in gravity made her sway. This is why she didn't drink...
She shot Natsu and Gray a death look with a hand on her forehead as she walked around them when they almost they bumped into her on her way out. They stopped and gave her a wary, yet confused look. She had been called the second Erza on occasion since she was the only other one that could stop their squabbles. At this point, she didn't care if she used it just so she could get out of the pub in one piece.
"L – Lucy?"
"Where are you going?"
She stopped and turned to the pair. "Back to the inn. My head aches."
Natsu shoved Gray away with a surprised noise from him and turned to her. "Is it from your fight with Raven Tail? Are you still hurt?"
She waved him off and kept going. "No, it's not that." She didn't want to say it was because she was drinking the wrong drink and was too occupied to notice. She was too embarrassed to be unable to handle her alcohol in a room full of seasoned drinkers.
"Natsu, temee!" At that irritated cry, Lucy figured that Natsu would be back in his battle with Gray and thus rounded the doorway without any other explanation.