Evading Destiny Chapter 13

Lucy started feeling worse and worse about leaving Natsu behind as she flew back to her father's mansion, the place that had been her home all of her life until she met the pink haired man. Her heart felt heavy in her chest as she flew away from the man who unknowingly held a prominent place there. But what else was she supposed to do? She had brought pain to her Fairy Tail family, to Jellal and Erza, to Juvia and Gray, to Natsu… She couldn't just let that stand. It was her father and his instructions that had led to them being attacked in such a manner; she wouldn't let him get away with it.

Lucy flew for a few hours before she realized she was only moments away from the mansion that had once held such happiness and joy. As she looked at the mansion with older eyes, she couldn't help but see the gloom that seemed to hang so persistently over the place. Her eyes wandered over the expansive house, taking in the sight of the windows she once loved looking out of. The roses that lined the driveway up to the mansion proper had been planted by her mother, and her father had always done his best to keep them in bloom. Lucy could only look at them for a moment before the hurt was too great and she had to look away.

Her father had once loved her so dearly, just as much as he had loved Layla. But when she had passed on…it was as though Lucy had ceased to exist for him. The moment Layla had taken her last breath, Lucy's fate as a forgotten, unwanted daughter had begun. It hurt her immensely to think that the man who had once looked after her so dotingly and lovingly could have turned so cold and had caused the pain her Fairy Tail family was feeling.

As she stood on the sidelines of the driveway, she heard a woman shout her name. Startled, Lucy broke herself free of her reverie and noticed Mrs. Spetto, one of her maids, racing towards her with tears running down her face. Lucy barely had time to brace herself before Mrs. Spetto was upon her and wrapping her in a hug and sobbing. The older woman was quickly followed by several of Lucy's other servants, all in varying states of distress and inquiring after her health and about why she had left so suddenly.

Lucy was only able to tell everyone she was fine before she was being dragged into the mansion, stripped of her clothes, shoved into a bath, and scrubbed clean. She sighed in bliss after she was left alone in the tub; she loved her new home with Natsu, but she definitely missed being able to just soak in the tub.

"Princess," Lucy jumped as her friend's monotone voice came drifting in. Lucy quickly cried out in delight when she realized Virgo really was there, her eyes averted respectfully and a comfortable looking robe in her arms.

"Oh Virgo!" Lucy said, her eyes full of unshed tears, as she climbed out of the tub and into the offered robe. As soon as it was tied securely, she embraced Virgo warmly. "I missed you! How have things been going here? Was everyone else mad that I left?"

"Of course we were mad, brat," Lucy's eyes widened again when she heard her other friend, Aquarius, speak. She turned in even greater surprise and gasped as she saw all ten of her friends standing in her large bathroom. She noticed Loke eyeing her appreciatively and wished Virgo had brought a little longer of a robe as she self-consciously pulled it down.

"How did you all get in here?!" Lucy asked incredulously as she looked at each of them in turn. Aries was smiling timidly, Aquarius looked annoyed as usual, Scorpio was smiling, Virgo was emotionless, Loke was smirking, Capricorn looked proud, Cancer was eyeing her dripping hair with something akin to disapproval, Taurus was drooling unabashedly at her robe covered body, Gemini were transforming rapidly between various forms of Lucy, including her current state, and Sagittarius was studiously looking away from her, his cheeks slightly red.

"We have our ways, Princess," Loke said as he stepped forward, bringing her right hand up to his lips for a soft kiss. Lucy rolled her eyes at his antics but couldn't help but feel happy all of them were here in this moment. She had missed them desperately.

"Why did you leave without telling us?" Gemini asked as they took on her true form. She shuddered slightly at that; she was always a little weirded out by the doppelgängers' abilities.

"It was…unplanned," Lucy said apologetically, "I just realized I couldn't marry him. I had to get away."

"We are glad you came to that realization," Capricorn said seriously as all of her other friends nodded. "We only want what's best for you." Lucy smiled in appreciation at that.

"And I'm very grateful for that," Lucy tried to start speaking but was quickly interrupted by Aquarius.

"Why are you back here? Don't you know your father has been looking for you to drag you back?" the mermaid asked irritably, though she did tone her anger down in deference to her honey, Scorpio.

"I have to talk to him," Lucy tried starting again, but she just sighed as her friends all started talking over her at once.

"You don't owe this man anything," Capricorn said, his tone conveying his distaste for Jude.

"Your hot body shouldn't be hidden away from the world!" Taurus cried passionately as Loke nodded in agreement. The others kept trying to talk as well, and Lucy was struggling to keep up with them.

"Princess," Virgo finally said, her monotone voice seeming to thunder over everyone else's despite her petite stature, "We have a gift for you."

"You do?" Lucy asked with surprise as she looked at each of her friends in turn. They all smiled encouragingly or nodded (irritably in Aquarius's case). "Why do you have a gift for me?"

"We have something incredibly special for you that only few in this world have ever had the opportunity to have. Sometimes humans possess the gift, other times supernaturals do. We give our gift to someone we judge to be worthy," Loke explained, his usually playful attitude quite serious.

"And you find me worthy?" Lucy asked, her voice quite small as she thought about what her gift could possibly be, and how she could possibly be worthy of such a gift.

"You are genuine and kind," Aries said, her cheeks reddening under Lucy's gaze.

"You are honest and true," Gemini said as they adopted her usual form.

"You are brave," Taurus spoke up, meeting Lucy's gaze head on.

"You stand up for what you believe in," Sagittarius stated as Capricorn nodded his agreement.

"You protect those you care for and those you feel are in need," Scorpio said, for once abandoning his bizarre speech pattern. Suddenly Lucy felt all of her friends' eyes on her, and she felt very exposed as she met each of their gazes in turn, falling finally on Aquarius.

"You are worthy of our protection," the blue-haired mermaid told her, for once with no appearance of aggravation but instead a fierce determination and loyalty.

"Your protection?" Lucy whispered as she looked at each of her friends again. What did they mean? She was a vampire; she was fully capable of taking care of herself, although she had just been kidnapped…

"We are not like other supernaturals, Lucy," Loke said with a smile. "We are celestial spirits. We reside both here and among the stars. We ten, specifically, are part of the celestial zodiac. We each have our own powers and our own specialties, but we have deemed you worthy. We want to protect you and help keep you safe."

"I can't…" Lucy started, her throat beginning to close as sobs wanted to make their way out of her throat.

"You don't have to say anything," Aries said gently while the others nodded in assent. "We want this for you. We want to help you."

"I can't accept such a gift when I have given you nothing in return!" Lucy was finally able to say while tears streamed down her cheeks. "Your gift is too great for someone like me."

"You are our friend," Loke said, wrapping Lucy in a hug as she cried, "That is all we want. You are worthy of us." With that, her friends began to disappear in brilliant displays of light, smiles upon their faces, as Lucy watched in astonishment. As each one left, a bright, golden key took their place, each inscribed with their own personal mark, until finally only Virgo and Loke were left.

"This is our gift to you, Princess," Virgo said with a genuine smile upon her face for once. "Call upon us if you are ever in need," and with that, she too disappeared, leaving her own key in her place.

"What does she mean call on you?" Lucy said, slightly panicked. What was she supposed to do?! All of her friends were turning into keys!

Loke laughed as he took in Lucy's worried state, "It's nothing too complicated, Lucy. Just take whoever's key you want to call on, hold it in your hand, and call out their name. They will come to your aid, although we might also just visit from time to time." Lucy smiled at that and wiped the few tears that were still drying on her face.

"I would like that," she told Loke softly, "I am so glad I'm not going to lose you guys."

"You could never lose us, Lucy," Loke said as he embraced her as golden light started to shimmer into life around him, "You are far too precious to us." With that, he was gone, and in his place was a key with a symbol of the lion.

Lucy walked around the room, reverently picking up the keys that symbolized her friends and holding them to her chest. She was so glad she had them and she couldn't be more grateful for the gift they had given her.

Natsu was bored. Bored, bored, bored, bored! Lucy and Levy had gone into the library what felt like hours ago! Come to think of it, he had seen Levy leave with her team some time ago… So where was Lucy?

With a rather put upon sigh, Natsu got up, stretched, and walked towards the library, following her scent that was just beginning to fade. Happy flew over to land on his head as he left the main room of the guild.

"What are you doing, Natsu?" Happy said as he laid on Natsu's head.

"I'm going to find Lucy. She's been in the library forever," as Natsu finished his statement, they entered the library. Where they did not see Lucy and instead saw an open window, the curtain around it fluttering in the breeze.

Happy immediately worried as he felt Natsu freeze and just stare at the open window. The little blue cat could just imagine what Natsu was thinking as the two took in the scene.

"She left," Natsu finally said somewhat hollowly, what felt like hours later but was more than likely only a few moments later.

"How do you know that?" Happy asked, flying away from the top of Natsu's head to take in his expression. The little feline grimaced as he looked at his friend; Natsu looked like he might as well be dead since his face was utterly expressionless. It was just flat and cold and so…un-Natsu-like. Happy wasn't scared to admit it frightened him a little.

"Hers is the only scent here. Levy's is older and more faded, and I know Levy left with her team hours ago," Natsu said, his voice still sounding dead.

"I'm sure we are missing something about this whole situation," Happy said somewhat desperately, "I'll go get Erza. She'll know what to do," and with that he flew back out of the library to the main room of the guild.

Natsu just stood there, staring at the open window and feeling a little lost. Lucy had promised she wouldn't leave him. She had promised when he had found her that she wouldn't leave him again. So why would she leave?

"Natsu?" the pink-haired man startled when he heard his name, called out softly by Erza.

"She left," Natsu told the Valkyrie as he turned to face her, feeling as though his heart might just be ripping out of his chest as the words left his mouth. Somewhat surprisingly, Gray was also standing beside her, but Natsu didn't really even register his presence.

"I'm sure we don't have the full story," Erza told him seriously. "We should look around for clues; maybe she left a note."

Natsu nodded woodenly and just started walking around the room aimlessly. He didn't know what kind of clues he should be looking for, anyway. Then he found a table where Lucy's scent was a bit more concentrated. And on it he saw the map of the forest where he had first found her.

"She went home," Natsu said, loud enough for the others to hear him. He wasn't quite sure how he knew, but he knew that's where she went. Lucy had left him to go back to her father, who was the one responsible for her being kidnapped and hurt so severely. It felt like his brain might explode as he tried to imagine any possible reason why she would do that.

"Natsu how could you possibly know that?" Gray asked as everyone came to join the dragon shifter at the table. Each of them looked down at the map in confusion, not having Natsu's understanding of why that particular area was significant.

"I don't know," Natsu replied with a shrug, although he seemed much more animated than before.

"You don't have to understand how you know," Erza said, her thoughts rather far from the actual situation, "When you and another person share such a strong connection, you just know these things." Gray seemed to take that under advisement and nodded seriously.

"So what are we going to do?" Happy asked as he looked each of his friends over.

"Well we're going to go get her of course," Erza said imperiously, shaking out of whatever reverie had taken over her.

"We are?" Natsu said, his tone hopeful and much more like himself.

"Yes, we are," Erza said with a determined smile. "We just need to follow your nose."

"Like a bloodhound…" Gray said under his breath, but fortunately for him Erza didn't hear. Natsu nodded enthusiastically as he pumped his fist into the air and started out of the library.

"We're going in a car, Natsu!" Gray called after the pink haired man as he followed hurriedly; he wasn't about to forget what happened last time he rode on Natsu's dragon form. Erza grinned at the two men's antics and was about to start after them when Happy stopped her with a question.

"Do you think we really will get her back?" the little blue cat asked unsurely. His little whiskers seemed to be drooping and Erza didn't like it.

"Of course we will get her back," she told him with a quick pat to his head, "And if her father tries to stop us…well let's just hope for his sake he doesn't." Happy grinned at that and then flew out of the room, leaving Erza alone with her own thoughts. As confident as she had sounded when speaking with Happy, she was concerned with what would happen if Jude did retaliate. Although Jude was vampiric royalty, Erza wasn't above any violence to make sure her friend Lucy was able to leave if she wished it. But she definitely didn't want to have to resort to that if they could avoid it.

"Erza are you coming?" Natsu roared impatiently from the front room, breaking her from her thoughts about how to diplomatically deal with Lucy's father. Startled, she hurried out of the library, leaving her thoughts behind as they all headed out to Natsu's car and left the guild.

Lucy stared at the door to her father's study for what felt like hours. Her maids had come back after her friends had all left and dressed her up in one of her fanciest outfits that Lucy despised. It was an elegant outfit, a full dress with ruffles and flowers and Lucy probably would have liked it if not for what it represented.

"You have to go in eventually, Lucy," she told herself. Where had all her courage gone? Where was the attitude that had guided her here? Her fearless want to protect her new Fairy Tail family? The need she had felt to confront her father?

"Are you a member of Fairy Tail or not?" she asked herself, feeling furious at both her father and herself. Fairy Tail had taken her in, had made her feel wanted and loved, had rescued her from her father's machinations, and yet here she was, standing on the outside of her father's study, too unsure of herself to enter.

Then, suddenly, her mind was filled with Natsu. His infectious grin, his surety in entering Phantom Lord's castle to find her, his want to rescue her, his fierce protectiveness of not just her but all of their Fairy Tail family, his loyalty, his devotion to their family, his strength of character…

"I am a member of Fairy Tail," Lucy said, suddenly more certain of herself than ever before, "I am the daughter of Layla Heartfilia, the greatest vampire queen this world has ever seen. I have the backing of my entire guild and of my celestial friends. They make me stronger than I have ever been and I will prove myself worthy of their friendship and loyalty." And with her own little pep talk, she finally found she had enough courage to reach out and knock on her father's door.

"You may enter," she heard her father's voice emanate from the room. Steeling her nerves one last time and taking a deep breath, she entered, unsure of what kind of reception she would receive but refusing to spend one more minute standing in that hallway.

"You've returned," Jude said, his voice monotone and not betraying his emotional state.

"I have," Lucy responded, her hands folded demurely in front of her body as she stood across from her father's desk. He remained seated, his face impassive.

"Clearly you have realized your error then."

"I realized I have made a mistake, yes," Lucy told him, keeping her voice calm and her expression neutral, despite the tremors she could feel in her tightly folded hands from her anger.

"Good. So we will contact Bora and his father immediately and see if we can fix this mess you have got us into…" Jude trailed off as Lucy cleared her throat and he looked at her impatiently.

"I believe you have misunderstood me, Father. I said I made a mistake, not that refusing Bora was that mistake."

"Excuse me?" Jude said, his eyebrows drawing together and down dangerously.

"I made a mistake, Father. I acknowledge this. My mistake was not telling you that I could not marry Bora. Or any man not of my choosing. I refuse to let you try to live my life for me," Lucy finished, her voice rising a bit as she finished and some color rising in her cheeks.

"You ungrateful, little…" but Lucy never let him finish as she watched the fury and color rising in his own face.

"You do not control me. You do not live my life for me. You do not make my decisions for me. I am a grown woman; I am no longer a child! Mother never would have wanted this for me and I am appalled at you that you do! We may be royalty, Father, but that does not mean I have no say in my life! Or that you have a right to make decisions for me! I am no longer your princess, Father, and I never will be again," Lucy told him passionately, finally abandoning her calm demeanor.

"How dare you speak to me like that! I am not just your father; I am your king! You will listen to me and do as I say!" Jude roared as he stood up from behind his desk, trying to tower over Lucy in his rage. But Lucy was done taking orders from her father, just as she had told him.

"You are no longer my king! I am a member of Fairy Tail! And if you ever send someone to hurt my family again, I will destroy this place. I will destroy everything you have spent my whole life ignoring me to build. I refuse to let you order me around. I never wanted this life and I will never live it again!" Lucy screamed as she dramatically adopted her true form, ripping her dress in the process.

For once, Jude seemed to be completely shocked and at a loss for words. Breathing heavily, Lucy turned her back on her father and walked out of his study, knowing she would not ever return here again. Slowly Lucy walked back to her own bedroom, looking at the mansion with what seemed like new eyes. She suddenly saw the mansion and all its decadence for what it was; the crumbling remains of her father's empire and the materialism that came with it. How she hated it.

"Lucy?" Lucy turned from where she had dressed in her normal clothes and set aside the few things she wanted to take from this place. She saw all of her staff standing there with tears in their eyes; they knew, too, that she would never return. With a small sob, she threw her arms around each person individually, hugging them for all she was worth and trying to convey to them everything they had meant to her. They seemed to understand and hugged her back just as hard.

Before she knew it, Lucy was standing before her mother's grave, wishing desperately that Layla was still with her. Would she approve of what she had done? What she had said to her father? Somehow Lucy felt like she would, but at the same time, she wondered if she ever would have been put in that situation if Layla had lived.

"I miss you, Mama," Lucy said as she wiped a tear from her eye. "I wish you could meet all my new friends, my new family. I think you would really love Fairy Tail. I'll still come visit you, I promise. I love you," Lucy's voice broke on her last statement, and knowing she would stay for hours longer than she should if she didn't leave right then, she turned from her mother's grave and began walking down the road back to Fairy Tail.

When Lucy had made it some distance away from her father's mansion, she heard her name being shouted. Startled, she looked up from watching her own feet to find Natsu, Gray, Erza, and Happy rushing towards her, what sounded like an idling car in the background.

"Lucy!" Natsu cried as she started running towards him too. In moments, the two of them were together again, wrapped in each other's arms as their friends laughed at their antics before joining them in a group hug.

"I can't believe you're all here!" Lucy said as she gripped Natsu's waist harder, burying her face in the scarf at his neck as her other friends hugged them, too.

"We thought you had left us forever, Lucy!" Happy cried from on top of Natsu's head. That broke her from her reverie.

"I told you I would never leave, Natsu," she said, her voice somewhat reproachful. Natsu looked at her sheepishly as their friends released them with laughs.

"I told you we didn't have the whole story, Natsu," Erza said in a very sisterly manner. He just shrugged and pulled Lucy into his side as he turned to walk back to the car.

"Jumping to conclusions as always, Natsu," Gray said with a chuckle as Happy flew over to land on top of his head. Natsu just grimaced at the frost giant as the girls laughed.

"Don't be afraid, Natsu," Lucy said, quietly and only to him as they reached the car, "I won't ever leave." Natsu smiled at that as he opened the passenger side door for her.

"Let's go home, Lucy," he told her. She smiled in response and nodded her head as she sat down in the car. It felt great to be surrounded by people who cared so deeply for her and she was looking forward to the many adventures she knew they would be having.

"Let's," she responded as the others joined them and they turned around, making their way back to Fairy Tail and the rest of their family.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: So a little under or over four months is apparently what it takes for me to update any of my stories! I am SO sorry to everyone who has been waiting for this chapter. My only excuse it that I've been working, found out I'm having a baby, my husband and I are buying a house, and I really haven't felt like writing to be brutally honest lol. So because I've been super busy and have been not really feeling like writing, I am going to stop this story here for now. I am going to label it as complete. This does not mean I'm actually done writing this story because I really do love it so much, but in the future I'll write an arc completely before I publish any chapters; in this manner I'm hoping people won't be waiting for more that isn't coming in a timely manner. I am going to finish my speed dating story as well; I'm hoping to have the rest of that written by the end of February at the latest so that can be complete too. Thank you to everyone who has read this story and reviewed it; it's still awesome to see positive responses so long after I originally published this story! As always, I own nothing of the characters, just the idea behind this particular story.