. Between the Lines .

" - fire started in downtown Hargeon early this morning. The current witness reports all seem to claim they saw someone fleeing the scene, and the police are on high alert. No one has been able to come up with a matching description, and - "


A sigh left her lips as she dropped the remote control, a thoughtful expression on her face, and Lucy Heartfilia found herself annoyed. "What are people thinking?" she grumbled, removing herself from her swaddle of blankets. She shivered at the coolness of the air outside her warm little den. "There's no way that was arson...and why does it matter, anyways? The building was old and nobody was using it...ooh, not a bad setting idea…"

She grinned.

Nineteen years old and already a fairly well-known author through a pen name she didn't care to share, Lucy was doing well for a girl who'd run away from home two years before. She had no reason to have a job - writing was earning enough money for her - and fact was: she didn't really want one. She was enjoying her peaceful life, even if it was somewhat lonely. She had no friends - she didn't leave the apartment enough to even have friends - and she didn't want to even begin considering what would happen if her family found her.

She'd already changed countries once.

She didn't want to go around changing countries again.

Thank goodness the people under her father's influence weren't smart enough to look for her outside of her home country.

Lucy wandered through the apartment she'd been renting for the past two years now,pausing only to get dressed as quickly as she could before going to track down her keys. She found them exactly where she usually left them, in a bowl near the apartment door, placed there specifically so she couldn't lose them. She plucked up her phone, too, as she headed outside.

Lucy grimaced at the state of her old car. She'd purchased it as cheaply as she could - not even her female charms had been able to lower the price - and she was pretty sure that it would soon fall apart.

The young blonde sighed, brown eyes lowering to the ground in disappointment. Even if she was doing decently well with writing, and even if it was getting the money she needed, she didn't have enough to get an entirely new car. Maybe she'd bring it by one of those places that fixed cars up…

"Come on, Lucy," she scolded herself, climbing into the vehicle. "Get going."

Boredom was common when Lucy didn't have a decently good book to keep her occupied, so she often found herself driving around the city of Crocus. The capital of Fiore was an expensive place to live, but it wasn't too bad. She liked the business of it, enjoyed the fact that the rulers of the country lived within their castle at the center of it.

And the amount of people kept her hidden from the possibility of an ally of her father's seeing her.

Ugh, being a runaway was such a depressing mess of trying to stay hidden and unfound.

Grumbling, lip sticking out, Lucy nearly ran into the person that suddenly darted across the street in front of her. She slammed on the brakes, nearly too late to avoid hitting them. They yelped, leaping back, and Lucy stared in surprise at the strange attire they wore as they slammed their open palms on the hood of her already partially destroyed car with a furious look.

An open vest that showed off fairly toned muscles, and a strange set of bottoms to accompany the equally strange top wasn't nearly as weird as the scarf that was wrapped around his neck. It was scaled, gleaming in the sun, and Lucy frowned at the strange color of the man's hair. Who had pink hair? Certainly nobody else that she'd seen before...especially on guys… And then she realized his onyx eyes were glaring furiously into hers, and her own dark eyes narrowed as she rolled down her window, stuck her head out, and spat, "Watch where you're going!"

His response was instant and enraged. "Maybe you should watch where you're driving!"

Lucy felt the distant throb of a headache coming on. Today was just not going to be her day, apparently… Rubbing her temples, she called, "Look, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to nearly run you over, even if one of us doesn't know how to look both ways before crossing the street."

He looked ready to explode at that and she had a brief moment of triumph that she'd made him speechless, especially when he clenched his jaw.

And then her eyes narrowed, zoning on his clenched fists. Was that...was that smoke rising from his fists? She opened her mouth to say something but an equally strangely dressed woman with long scarlet-colored hair suddenly came sprinting out of nowhere, snarling, "Natsu, go!" Her metallic armor gleamed in the sun, and Lucy frowned at them, noting how weird they looked in the normal looking city.

...cosplayers maybe?

Who knew, but she found herself curious. And wishing for the pencils he'd forgotten to bring with her. Again. Damn it. Her gaze locked onto the strange red symbol branded upon the guy's, Natsu's, shoulder and the red one stamped on the scarlet-haired woman's armor.

Natsu shot Lucy a final dirty look, then darted forward, the woman rushing after him. Only seconds later, a half-naked man with dark hair and that strange symbol in a dark blue color on his chest was racing after them, too, swearing loudly enough that Lucy raised an eyebrow.

Suddenly, she was alone, sitting at an empty intersection with a confused look on her face.

Shaking her head to clear it of the weirdness of what had just happened, Lucy moved to shift the gear of her car. Okay, that wasn't weird at all… Lucy flicked the blinker of her car on.

And then there was a huge explosion from only a buildings over. Lucy screamed in surprise, her dark eyes snapping up to stare at the sudden column of smoke that was billowing in the air, engulfing the area in its darkness. Her hands shook violently on the steering wheel and her head proceeded to turn in the direction the three cosplayers had gone.

...so maybe. Just maybe, they had done it?

Her hands itched to write now. Really itched.

She turned her car around and headed straight home.

The second she was at her laptop, she was researching. Her fingers tapped furiously at the keyboard, hunting for the symbol she'd seen on all three of them. And the only keyword she had was the one name: Natsu.

She scowled at the memory of him. He'd been such a jerk.

Yet here she was, typing in his name.


She scowled, resting her chin on her open palm and tapping her finger lightly on her desk in thought. Her stomach growled, reminding her that lunch was a distant memory from yesterday, but she pretended not to notice.

She sat like this for a while, typing various searches in, including things to do with the scarlet-haired woman, the strange scaled scarf, and even the half-naked guy she'd seen racing after them. But she still came up with nothing, and Lucy moaned in frustration, wishing for the first time in a while that she had the sources her father did.

She went through again, careful as she checked each link.

It took her a while, but finally she noticed something. One website kept popping up. Lucy clicked on it, paying careful attention to what the home page of the website said as she scanned through the words. When she got to the end of the introduction, she arched an eyebrow. Magic, huh? she thought, curious.

Ooh, how her mind was racing, coming up with a damn good idea that she wanted to turn into a novel that would hopefully outsell even her last book. So she did the first thing she could think of: she signed up for an account, carefully choosing to use her pen name rather than her real name to put into the boxes.

First Name: Layla

Her mother's name. She'd used it, knowing her mother wouldn't approve of her father's desperation to keep her under his controlling hand.

Last Name:Cor

That she had gotten from a translator, putting the "heart" bit of her last name in and coming out with a favored Latin word.

Gender: Female

Wasn't that obvious? The questions got weirder as she went along, but she was as truthful as possible in all of the boxes that were required. And only those that were required. If they weren't required, she didn't answer. It was a weird website, and she didn't want to give out too much information.

She waited until her account had been activated before looking deeper through the offered pages. Her head was spinning after just one of them and she reached to pull a notebook over, pencil dancing across the page...until she noticed her inbox for the site jumping up and down, showing that she had a message.

She clicked on it.

To: laylacor . magesoffiore . com

From: mirajanestrauss . fairytail . magesoffiore . com

Dear Layla Cor,


It isn't often we get new members on the site - most of the others are too lazy to do such a thing, especially the loners. So I thought I'd greet you in case nobody else did.

I will first and foremost point you in the direction of the survey located in a link at the very bottom of the website. It is required you take this survey. If you do not, your account will be deleted within the next twenty four hours. I apologize if this is an inconvenience for you.

On that note, if you have any questions, feel free to message me. And,if you are so willing, I'd be very curious to know the results of your survey.



Lucy cocked her head, skimming through the message a second time before hesitantly doing as instructed and clicking on the survey. She had nothing better to do...right?

She went to work on filling out the survey, her eyebrows furrowing with confusion at each question. "What is this? What kind of magic do I use? Are you serious? Do I intend to join one of the guilds? Oh my gosh this is ridiculous." Scoffing, she backed out of it, instead returning to Mirajane Strauss' message and not bothering to hesitate before typing back.

To: mirajanestrauss . fairytail . magesoffiore . com

From: laylacor . magesoffiore . com

Dear Mirajane Strauss,


You'll have to forgive me, Miss Strauss, I'm honestly confused. None of the questions in the survey made any sense to me. I'm merely an author and the information on this site caught my attention. Is there any way you can grant me access for more than twenty four hours without completing the survey? I noticed that most of the information is only available to those with an account.


Layla Cor

Lucy sent it, then went back to work on scribbling down as much information she could get as quickly as she could get it. One magic in particular listed on the website caught her attention, and she tilted her head curiously before writing it down...just in time for her inbox to jump up and down again. She rushed to click on it.

To: laylacor . magesoffiore . com

From: mirajanestrauss . fairytail . magesoffiore . com

Dear Miss Cor,

I thought I'd heard of you somewhere! You're that really popular author, right? My sister is fond of your books, as are a few others of the Fairy Tail group.

As for the survey...I will take it that you aren't the usual crowd that joins this site. I don't think I can get you that kind of access… Sorry!


Lucy grinned. Ha, she liked being known by people that she needed to speak with. Maybe, just maybe, it would help her out here...

To: mirajanestrauss . fairytail . magesoffiore . com

From: laylacor . magesoffiore . com

Dear Miss Strauss,

I am the author you're thinking of, and I'm glad you've heard of me. It makes me happy to know that people are enjoying the books I work so hard on.

If you are unable to get me the access I need, would you be so willing to perhaps meet in person, or send someone who might be able to answer any questions I may have? I'm going to go through as much information as I can before my twenty four hours are up, but I won't be able to contact with questions after that, I'm sure.

Thank you!


Lucy bit her thumbnail, sitting back to read through another page on the site while she waited for Mirajane's answer. It was risky, asking someone you didn't know to meet with you so you could have questions answered, but so was the life of an interviewer who needed information. When she didn't get a response immediately, Lucy climbed to her feet and wandered off to get a cup of tea.

She'd received a response by the time she came back, tea in hand, and she flicked it with a yawn, glancing at the clock. Time was racing by, but she couldn't sleep. Not with limited time on the web site that was giving her so much inspiration.

To: laylacor . magesoffiore . com

From: mirajanestrauss . fairytail . magesoffiore . com


Why don't we do this in an easier way?

A moment later, there was a ding. Lucy glanced around the screen in search of it and discovered a little tab opened up in the corner. A chat, Lucy realized with a relieved look. Much better than all of this formality of inboxing…

mira: Hello, Layla!

Lucy laughed to herself. She liked Mira, and she'd been talking to her for less than an hour. It had been quite some time since she'd had so much fun talking to another human being…

layla: Hello, Mira. :)

mira: In answer to your question...who you are able to meet with in regards to questions depends on where you are currently stationed, live, or how far you are willing to travel. I am willing to meet you in Magnolia, where I, and quite a few more people who are able to answer any questions you have, live.

layla: Magnolia is quite a ways away from Crocus...but I'm willing to make the journey there.

mira: Oh, my! Crocus? I don't know why it surprises me… Of course an author as well-known as you lives there...anyhow! I am free at any time. There is a popular building near the train station that you may enjoy.

layla: So long as it has tea, I'm up for it. Is there perhaps an e-mail I can contact you through to let you know when I will be arriving?

mira: Of course! Just use the address you have been inboxing me with. :)

Lucy thanked her and bid her farewell, sipping at her tea as she sat back with a small sigh. At least if she was kidnapped, nobody would be there to care if she was missing other than herself, so…

Lucy rubbed the back of her head before setting her tea aside and picking up her pencil after cracking her knuckles. She had work to do before her twenty four hours ran out.

She began to write.

I'm so excited to start this! I've been working on this for months now! This is THE biggest project I've ever worked on - and that includes an eighty-six chapter fanfiction I wrote for my other account! I'm already on chapter forty-four at this point, and I don't think I'm even a quarter of the way done! ANYHOW. On to more important matters. Due to its massive size, BTL will be updating three times a week (hopefully). Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Some chapters may be a day or so late every now and then due to busy lives between myself and my lovely editor (who helps me create just about everything). Thanks for reading and I hope you look forward to the next chapter of BTL!