A/N: Greetings! This is a new collaboration I'm doing with my beta Kytrin. The updates will be weekly as we already have a generous chunk of it written. This is going to be a long ride but we look forward to taking it with you!
Disclaimer: We do not own Fairy Tail or profit from it. This is our disclaimer for the rest of the story.
Lucy had never considered herself to be anything other than an ordinary girl. Sure, she was beautiful, and vain enough to be aware of that fact, but while she certainly had an active imagination, and a deep love for books and writing, she never thought of it as strange when she bothered to think about it at all. Which she didn't often do.
That was simply the way she was, and she could see no reason to change it. It was nice being a 'smart' blond, and she even took a certain amount of glee out of proving that she wasn't just her looks. The reactions for that never got old. Especially since it was the last thing anyone seemed to expect out of 'The Heartfilia Heiress'.
A title that never failed to annoy her endlessly.
Especially since she wasn't a 'heiress' of anything except a pile of money that she would've traded in an instant for another day with her mom and dad.
Both were dead now. Her mom when she was little, and her dad a couple of years previously from overwork.
It was an old story altogether, but it still left her wishing from time to time that she'd had another day with her mom, or more time to mend fences with her dad. They never had seen eye to eye after her mom's death. Especially with her flat refusal to act like a rich snob.
It was something her dad hadn't been able to drum into her no matter how many private tutors, or expensive boarding schools, or whatever she'd been to. And they'd only just begun making headway on it when his workaholic tendencies caught up to him.
She sighed softly as the rain began to clear up, and decided to take a walk to the bookstore or something. All the gloom was making her introspective, and depressing her.
Here in a minute she would start thinking about her pathetic lack of love life, and other things.
Definitely time to get out of the house.
She smiled slightly as she slipped her shoes on, grabbed her keys, and headed for the door grateful that Barnes and Noble had a branch open within walking distance. Sitting in the café with a book or two sounded wonderful.
She made her way into the air conditioned store, finding relief from the hot sun and suffocating humidity. Somehow between the time she left her apartment and the short walk to the nearby bookstore, the sun had returned with the vengeance of a thousand angry dragons and scorched the earth. Now it was just disgusting outside. It almost wasn't fair to everyone stuck outdoors, grinding through their lives in the heat, but she tried not to think about that.
Bundling up a handful of blond hair, she twisted a fistful into a messy bun to get it off her sticky neck. The comfort was almost immediate. Her purse still weighed a metric ton, digging into her shoulder, but the cool air did wonders.
The air of the bookstore was calming, seeping into her bones as a sensation of home fell over her. This was where she felt most at ease. Not amongst stuffy parties or frilly dresses. Dusty pages and inkwells were where she belonged.
The environment put her buzzing thoughts at ease, the sanctuary of books pulling her through their aisles. Lucy's personal collection would have taken up an entire wing of her old estate had she still been living in her old childhood home.
She walked along the threadbare carpet, trodden down by hundreds of customers. A smile worked its way over her face and she let herself be pulled along the aisles by the allure of shiny book jackets.
Her fingers ghosted over the spines of several books, the touch loving and attentive. Many she had read before, but there were several favorites she wouldn't mind cracking open again.
Still, she hesitated when she stopped in the Adventure section. Lucy wouldn't precisely call herself a shut in, but she did spend a great deal of time reading books. Back when her mother was still alive but had fallen ill, they followed the adventures of as many heroes as Lucy could get her small hands on. It was the only way she and her mother could still have their fun. As such, she kept the tradition alive and recognized many authors names.
Except the one directly in front of her.
Sticking out a little from the others, it had a heavy leather spine. Unlike the glossy covers surrounding it, this one was a rusty shade of brown with gold letters embossed into it.
How strange, she thought, picking a finger on the top of the book and tugging it back.
There was no author, and the book itself was extremely plain. Just the title stamped on the spine and cover.
The simplistic design made her curious, and a smile lit her face as she pulled open the front cover. The paper was thick and heavy, an old sort of parchment.
She liked the way it felt on her fingertips, realizing someone had put a lot of love into creating a book like this.
It cemented her decision to make this her purchase to add to her collection. Even if the story was boring, the book was beautiful in its simplicity. There was something alluring about its embossed cover, so she tucked it under her arm.
Lucy wasn't aware of it, but her beautiful new friend had already betrayed her. The moment she'd opened the cover there had been a surge of magic through the otherwise mundane shop.
There were no sparkles. No flashes of light. Nothing like out of the stories she loved so much. In fact, there wasn't even so much as a ripple of strange breeze let alone a cliché crack of lightning.
However, that didn't mean the event was unnoticed.
Indeed, as she was happily moving towards the check out line, thoughts of an iced coffee and maybe a pastry to enjoy with her new book on her mind, there was a man who had taken intense notice of the young blond who had just unknowingly turned the world on its side.
He wasn't anything anyone would take notice of really. An ordinary middle-aged man. Still reasonably fit, though a bit soft around the middle, and surely possessing a wife and a couple of high school kids.
But he was hardly ordinary.
Since he was a boy he'd been part of a secret organization like his father before him. One designed to find people like the brightly smiling blond.
It seemed silly on the surface. She didn't look like anything special. But there had been no mistaking the way the medallion he wore under his shirt had warmed when she'd opened that book. A book that no one could see unless their magic was active, and no one could open unless their magic was powerful enough.
Given her ease with both, and her regularity as a customer, it seemed like Miss Heartfilia's magic had blossomed recently. A late bloomer by most standards, but that didn't matter. What mattered was that it had happened at all.
He carefully concealed his excitement as best he could as he slipped away to check the medallion. His hands shook slightly as he read the results on it, and nearly dropped it with shock.
A celestial wizard.
Magic of any kind was rare. But a celestial wizard?
The only kind who could open gates?
It nearly made him faint with shock.
It was what they'd been searching for. After so many centuries it seemed insane that at long last they'd found one who could re-open the gates.
And she had fallen into his lap.
He tucked the medallion away as he was called to the register. No doubt Miss Lucy was having difficulty purchasing her new book as it had no barcode or anything similar. A smile slipped over his lips as he moved out of the shadows and to the front of the store.
"What can I help you with?" He asked pleasantly as he approached the pair.
"There's not a barcode on this book." Lucy explained, slight confusion wrinkling her brow, "We're not sure how much it costs or anything."
"Ah." He smiled at her, "Allow me to take a look at it?" He picked up the book and looked it over, "Ah, I see. You've picked up one from our vintage collection. It was printed quite a long time ago."
Lucy blinked a little and frowned slightly, vaguely remembering the small section of real antique books at the back of the store, and smiled. "I guess it must've been mis-filed then. It was sitting in the adventure section."
He raised an eyebrow, the very image of a surprised manager, "Was it? I'll have to check for others that might've been misplaced then." He turned to the cashier, "In the meantime, the prices for these are located here."
He showed her where the little, never, used binder was and helped her find Fairy Tail leaving both cashier and Lucy smiling happily as the transaction was completed.
He watched her head directly to Starbucks and a hint of a secret smile played over his lips. He knew she would be there for the next few hours at least. She was a regular after all.
He would have plenty of time to call for some back up.
Oblivious to the man's watchful eye, Lucy found herself a nice cushy chair to plop into with her purchase and drink. The book rested comfortably on her lap, her legs tucking up under her body.
Excited, she dragged her hand over the rich leather cover before flipping it open and running a hand over the thick parchment. Her eyes drank in the fanciful script, finding herself right at home in the printed words.
A smile tugged at her lips as the words 'Once Upon a Time' opened the novel. It seemed the play on words in the title of her new book was appropriate. Lucy had always felt a certain kinship with fairy tales.
She thought it was a little unusual for it to be spelled the way it was, but it wasn't enough to distract her.
Grimm's Fairy Tales and Disney's renditions of the old stories had been Lucy's bread and butter growing up. There was nothing more interesting to her than the stories of a heroic prince defeating a dragon to save the princess. Sure, they were a bit primitive in certain ways, but Lucy enjoyed the classics.
She bit her bottom lip and grinned, barely able to contain her excitement. Wondering what this one could be about, she read on, ignoring everything around her.
Once upon a time in a land far, far away, there lived a mighty dragon…
Lucy soon discovered it was more like an anthology of fairy tales. Short stories, but interconnected in ways that surprised her. Even more shocking, all of the familiar faces from the old stories she was familiar with were no where to be seen.
There were no Princes or Princesses to be rescued, no evil witches, not even a main character to follow.
Instead it followed a group of people in their various adventures all which ranged from terrifying to hilarious in the space of a single breath. Lucy was absolutely enthralled as she followed the odd adventures of these strangers. All of whom were part of a wizarding guild named Fairy Tail, thus the name of the book she gathered.
Quickly she became enamored with all of the strange characters. Erza, the Titania, Gray the Slayer, Levy the Architect, and many others. They had so many adventures, ones that seemed to span centuries. These characters, thanks to their magic, were almost immortal. It was such a strange breath of fresh air to the typical fairy tale, Lucy was devouring pages faster than she could process them.
The only thing which remained a constant, was the villain. A dragon, who was a frequent plague to the land and guild. It did not always appear, but whenever it did…
All it left behind was fire.
Lucy was on the edge of her seat laughing as she read a light hearted chapter where Gray the Slayer tried to comically escape the soggy embrace of a water nymph.
As such, when a hand touched her shoulder and she startled, Lucy was turning around with an apology already on her lips. How many times had she gotten caught up reading until they were about to close?
"Oh, I'm sorry, I must have lost track of time aga-" She blinked at the sight of the bookstore manager standing in front of her again, a kindly smile over his face, "Oh hello, sir."
"Apologies for startling you, Miss Lucy." He replied, his smile widening a fraction, "I was just getting off work when I noticed you still curled up here reading, and it is getting a bit late."
He nodded at a clock that was reading six thirty, "You've been here nearly seven hours." He chuckled, "I thought you might want to rejoin the world enough to at least get yourself some dinner."
Lucy blinked as she suddenly realized both the time and the way her stomach was wrapped around her spine and gnawing on it.
"Thank you, Mr. Lewis!" She exclaimed, genuinely grateful for the interruption. As much as she disliked being interrupted when she was reading she disliked being hungry more. Something that had happened more than once in the past as she'd had to head home after everything had closed.
Thanks to the timely interruption though she would have more than enough time to grab a proper dinner and return to her book at home.
She smiled as she slipped her bag back on her shoulder, and carefully tucked her book into her arms, "I really appreciate it." She told him, her mind already starting to wander down roads of what she wanted to eat.
"Not at all." He replied with a friendly smile, "You're one of our best customers. It's only right we look out for you."
He shifted his coat and held the door for her as they both stepped out into the lengthening shadows of evening.
He bade her a friendly farewell and got into his car. His part was over, and he had a cover, and reputation, to maintain. The rest would be left up to the backup he'd called in.
Lucy waved merrily at him, oblivious to any danger in the air, and started walking towards the Panera Bread located in the same strip mall. It was too hot to think about something warm for dinner, but a nice cool sandwich and some fruit salad or something sounded perfect.
Besides, there was less chance of spilling something she didn't want on her book. Always a factor to consider. Crumbs were much easier to get rid of than sauce after all.
She was so engrossed in her plans she didn't immediately notice the gentlemen who casually wandered in her same direction. It was just starting to cool down, and was right after the end of the business day, so she wasn't shocked to find people moving around after work.
It wasn't until she'd purchased her food and was heading home that she actually began to think about it.
At first, she'd thought it was a co-incidence when one of the men, whom she'd recognized as being behind her at Panera, was walking in her same general direction. The condos where she lived were definitely upscale and popular, and she was hardly the only one to walk to and from them to the strip mall.
However, as the shadows lengthened the street got emptier and emptier. Scarily quickly. And it soon became clear that the men trailing her were, in fact, following her.
Her heart pounded as she sped up, and tried to bite back a gasp of fear when they matched her.
Frightened now, she tried to figure out what to do. She couldn't go home. They would follow her there, and as sturdy as her locks were she doubted that would slow them down for long.
That was when she remembered there was a diner not too far away that often had cops hanging out at it. Something about the cheese soup drove them nuts. If she could get there…
Galvanized by her decision she started moving purposefully towards it, praying it was closer than she remembered, and tried to at least maintain an equal distance between her and her followers.
Of course, it didn't quite work out as she'd planned.
Alerted by her sudden wariness and tension, they'd begun to close in around her.
Unsure of what they really wanted, and really not wanting to find out, Lucy bolted.
She didn't look like it, but she was actually a very good runner. She could not only eat distance she could run for quite a ways before getting winded.
And right now it was the only thing between her and who knew what.
Of course, her pursuers weren't slouches either. And had been trained for this kind of thing for years. They kept up with her easily, and began herding her away from the diner, or anywhere public at all, and towards an old church that was being renovated.
Lucy whimpered with fear at the sight of it. She knew she was in trouble. She hadn't even realized she was being maneuvered until it was too late. And shortly she would be cornered.
"What do you want?" She exclaimed, her terror giving voice to what had been going through her head since she'd started running, "Leave me alone!"
They didn't answer her of course. They just closed in.
Panicked Lucy lashed out and kicked the nearest one in the face, sending him flying, even as she pressed against the old gate in front of the door.
For a moment all she could see were the shadowy men closing in on her, and all she could feel was the cool wrought-iron behind her. Then, suddenly, something gave way and the gate opened impossibly back. She yelped in shock as she tumbled backwards, a warm, golden, glow surrounding her as she fell into warmth.
And that's it for chapter one. Lets us know how we did! Kytrin will be posting this on her tumblr page, which is under her name if you want to check it out!
Thanks for reading!