Read Flames of Friendship, Darkness Rises, Dealer Arc, Isle of Dragons, and Dawn of Darkness in that order in order to get the best experience with this series.

One year later – X795. One year since the final battle against Emmeraude for the kingdom of Fiore. One year since Siegrain stepped down from the position of Council Chairman. One year since Lucy was finally freed of the hellish being known as Lambda. One year since Fairy Tail and White Eclipse disbanded. One year since Mii ran out on everyone because of the awful news. One year since Lucy saw Natsu and Happy, and everyone else at Fairy Tail. X794 truly was the end of an era. Nothing was the same after that battle. Since Emmeraude ruled the country for so long, the people of the country remembered her, and suffice to say the other countries didn't forget how Fiore's throne was usurped by a random outsider. It didn't make them look very good, but Hisui and Toma were working tirelessly to repair the damage Emmeraude's lack of rule left behind. Fiore was admittedly in a bit of a rough patch, but it was nothing it couldn't overcome in the end.

Hisui walked through the castle corridor to make way to her quarters. It felt like only yesterday where she was in a desperate race to ascend to the throne as quickly as possible to take it back from the wrongful ruler. But that race came at the cost of a few lives, a fact she wasn't blind to. The castle itself suffered damages that were repaired over the course of the last year. Upon reaching her room, the Princess closed the door and let out a heavy sigh. "…ah…" The jade princess wandered across her room, staring at a photo of her and Emmeraude. When was it taken? She honestly didn't remember…but both her and Emmeraude looked so happy in the picture.

"Your feelings from that woman only stem from false memories. Can you honestly tell me that you would care about her if not for what she forced into your mind?"

The words of King Ashnard echoed in her mind as she stared at the photo. Of course she had no 'reason' to care…but Emmeraude was like a mother to her, all things considered. It was a bit of twisted irony in the end. But there was only one thing she could do from this point forward – she promised Emmeraude that she'd help make a peaceful world anyway she could. It was going to be a long road ahead, but she was more than prepared for this.

The sun rose on Crocus City. In this time of peace, the capital of Fiore was asleep, yet roaring with excitement at the same time for the Grand Magic Games were in full swing this year! Only this time…the mantle of Fiore's strongest guild could go to anyone since Fairy Tail, the guild that previously held onto that title, disbanded one year ago. Not even White Eclipse was competing, for they too disbanded for reasons unknown. All Fiore knew was that the two strongest guilds in Fiore were no more, all of them moving on to other things.

But, that didn't stop Lucy Heartfilia from moving on too. After Fairy Tail disbanded, she was able to land a job which allowed her to get a rather nice place in Crocus, a far cry better than her home in Magnolia. With the sun's rays piercing through her window, she began to stir and soon she sat up with a yawn, stretching her arms above her head. "Mmmmph…" Another exciting day! Lucy got up and out of bed and went to the bathroom, getting ready with a nice long shower. Once Lucy was done with her morning shower, she dried herself off and wrapped a towel around herself, stepping into the main room where her guest was waiting. "Good morning, Tia!"

Tia was still half asleep, donning a simple nightgown after crashing on Lucy's couch. After Fairy Tail disbanded Queen Tia of Dealer was the first to hear about it from Lucy. As a result, Tia offered to visit Lucy frequently over the course of the year to stop her from feeling so lonely. "Mmm…morning…" Tia yawned, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes. "You seem bright and chipper this morning…"

"Yup!" Lucy replied with a nod and smile. "The Grand Magic Games are on day 2, remember? And with the job I got with Jason, I can't wait to cover all of it!"

"I'm still surprised you managed to land a news writing job…" Tia stood up and stretched, crossing her arms as a coy smile formed on her lips. She pulled out a past article of Sorcerer's Weekly, which had Lucy debut as an underwear model. "I thought you really did well as a model. You really sold that underwear."

Even though the job did give Lucy a solid source of income until she convinced Jason to give her the reporter job (internship), she was absolutely aware of the fact that Tia was teasing her. That didn't stop Lucy from feeling extremely flustered and she pointed at Tia with a crimson hue on her cheeks. "Y-You don't have to say it like that!"

Tia snickered at Lucy's embarrassment. "You just make it so easy…"

"Hearing that doesn't make me feel any better…." Lucy huffed while adjusting the towel. Even though she wasn't a fan of being teased, she was happy that her relationship with Tia grew to the point where the normally tsundere girl could openly act this way with her. "We still have some time until the Games start…do you want to go out and do some shopping? My treat!"

"How much DO you get paid…?" Tia lifted a brow. It was considered rude to ask about someone's income, but clearly Lucy didn't have to worry considering the type of place she was living in. "Anyway…yeah, sure. Let me get dressed and shower too…" That said, it was Tia's turn to hop in the shower and get ready. "Also, I hope you're not planning to go outside in that towel."

Tia's parting words made Lucy realize she had yet to change! She was too comfortable around the Dealer member, but it was nice to have a friendly face around. It had been a year since she'd seen the others after all…but that aside, Lucy hurried into her room to change; putting on a shirt and a skirt, finishing off by tying her hair into a ponytail. "I'm going to do my best today too!"

With the buzz of the Games lingering in the air, the crowd was still just as huge as ever for this big event. Tia and Lucy wandered the Crocus streets as the people bustled about. "I'm glad to see that it's just as lively as ever." Lucy said with a soft smile. "This city has been through a lot…it never really gets to catch a break."

"You're telling me." Tia's gaze went to Castle Mercurius, which was visible from their location. "At least the Palace got fixed after all this time." The bluenette shrugged, orange eyes glancing around to one of the lacrima screens on display, showing everyone's favorite host: Chapati Lola! The main commentator had another wig on to make up for his lack of hair, now giving early announcements just before the Games started.

"Good morning Fiore! The second day of the Grand Magic Games is going to begin soon! But first, we have a special word from our Council Chairman!" Chapati then gave the floor over to Fiore's new Council Chairman: Kemuri, the former 8th Wizard Saint.

"Good morning Fiore. I understand this last year has been tough for you all…but don't worry. As the new Chairman of the Magic Council, I will make sure to clean up the mess that was left behind from the Emmeraude incident. The Council's job is to protect the people after all…and I assure you, citizens of Fiore, everything we do will be for your protection. But for now, enjoy the Games." With that, the announcement ended.

Tia wrinkled her nose at the announcement. "That's the new Council Chairman…? When did that happen…?"

"A month or so after Siegrain stepped down." Lucy explained. "Although he hasn't done a lot yet, he keeps saying he has plans for this country. With how things ended last year, there's been a lot of changes in the Magic Council as of late…"

"Eh…" Tia shrugged. "Something about him bugs me, but it's whatever." There was a more pressing matter at the moment…the delicious smell of food intruding their noses. Tia and Lucy felt their mouths water just from the scent! "…What is that delicious smell?"

"It's…coming from over there!" Lucy pointed. There was a food stall with a line of people just waiting to be served. "Oof…that's a long line. But the food smells so good…what is the name of this place…?" Glancing up at the stand name, Lucy saw that it was called Al Dente!. "Al…Dente!...?"

"That's a cute name." Tia said with a nod. "We should wait here. The food smells delicious."

It was on that cue that a woman passed by the both of them. This woman had beautiful black hair and yellow eyes; her outfit was a little tattered in places and her left arm was bandaged, but she was carrying a large bag of groceries in her hands. The woman walked behind the booth to where the two chefs were cooking and set the bag down nearby. "Rowan. Ezekiel. I got the stuff you wanted. I guess the others went to watch the fights. They'll just get bored, there's no talent this year."

The senior chef was an old man with gray hair, while the other was a younger male with purple hair. These were the two main chefs of Al Dente: Rowan Guillaume and his grandson, Ezekiel Guaillaume. "Thank you, Blair." Rowan said with a nod as he and Ezekiel began to cook. Not a single one of their movements were wasted as they cooked up a number of meals in a short time.

The woman known as Blair then proceeded take care of the money that the customers were paying for their food. Tia and Lucy could feel their mouths watering as each customer left with a blissful smile on their face. Soon it was their turn, and Blair cleared her throat to get their attention. "…Are you two gonna eat, or drool…?" The woman questioned with a curious brow.

"O-Oh…right…! Uh…" Lucy walked up to the booth, greeting Rowan with a smile. "What would you recommend…?"

"Pick whatever you'd like." The culinary senior responded. "To recommend a dish is to know the patron. I never forget a face, and this is your first time here, right? Please, choose whatever you desire, and it'll become your new favorite. Just grab a menu and order whenever you're ready."

"Okay!" The celestial mage responded and took a menu, veering off to the side a little in case the other people in line were ready to order without delay. Brown eyes scanned the items on the menu while Tia peered over her shoulder. "Wow…all of this looks really good."

"You're telling me…" Tia agreed while pointing at a menu time. "This. I'm in the mood for this pasta and sauce."

Lucy glanced at Tia with a curious brow. "…Are you sure? That looks really heavy, and it's like…10AM, Tia."

Tia stared at Lucy with a blank expression. "…What's your point? I'm hungry. Plus I can save some for Ace and Jack…if I don't eat it all."

The ending remark caused Lucy to snicker. "I can't stop you…I guess I'll just have something light." With the decision made the blonde gave Rowan the order. "These two, please."

"Excellent choices, we'll have them ready in a moment." Rowan said with a nod.

"Let's get to work!" Ezekiel grinned, and he and his grandfather began to cook! Already, the delicious scent of the food cooking got into their noses. It didn't take very long for the duo to complete their cooking and the meals were presented to the ladies!

"Here you are. Please have a taste to see if it is to your liking." Rowan said while crossing his arms.

"…That was fast." Lucy blinked, glanced at Tia, and they both took a bite of their meals. At that moment their eyes widened and the feeling was heavenly! The sensation of flavor exploded in their mouths and they almost cried out in pleasure! Luckily they were capable of keeping their composure to avoid something embarrassing…but that sensation was all just from one bite! "…Whoa…this is great."

"…" Tia was speechless! Did food really make her feel that way? Ace was about to have some competition.

Blair extended her bandaged hand, a serious expression plastered on her face. "You can stand in awe after you pay." She was all about the money.

"O-Oh right, of course! Thank you!" Lucy handed Blair the amount of jewel for the meal and then departed with Tia. The two of them savored their meals with content smiles. "Mmm…I didn't know food could taste so good…"

"Jack and Ace are never going to see this." Tia admitted, feeling a little guilty that her gluttonous side was showing…but with this food, she really couldn't help herself.

Day 2 of the Grand Magic Games was now underway. This year's games were a more traditional tournament style with a round robin set up. The guilds that gained the most wins overall would advance to the semifinals, and eventually the finals. "Hello everyone! It's your favorite host, Chapati Lola! Along with me is everyone's favorite former council man, Yajima-san, along with famous *coughlocalcough* actor, Alfred Brando!"

The blonde haired actor fortunately didn't hear that remark, but instead offered a smile. "Thank you for having me, Chapati! The Grand Magic Games is my favorite season! Behind award season, of course..."

"It's time to get into the fights! We have Black Phoenix B's Ethan Star vs The Dwarfgear, Berrick!" The crowd went wild at the announcement of the two mages. "What do you think about this, Yajima-san?"

"Well…" Yajima began. "Black Phoenix has been doing well for itself over the last year. Leon Shi has been doing very well as the new Guild Master. All of the mages in the guild seem to have a lot of potential."

"I think we'll be in for an exciting battle!" Chapati exclaimed and the battle was set to begin!

"YEAH! LET'S GO ETHAN!" The voice a female shouted. This was the voice of Asuka Ichiro, a brash female on Black Phoenix's B team.

Lucy and Tia had their passes and met up with Jason as the fighting portion began. "Sorry we're late…! Things got crazy!" Lucy said with a soft smile.

"She got sidetracked." Tia crossed her arms. "Are they not doing events this year? That's kinda dumb…I liked watching people scramble…"

"Yo! Lucy! Looking COOL as usual!" Jason said with a thumbs up. "I can feel it! This'll make a ferociously cool article!"

"Is that your favorite word…" Tia rolled her eyes, leaning over the railing as the battle between Ethan and Berrick.

"It's still early, so it's hard to tell who might win. But everyone's anxious to see what this Ethan guy can do! Black Phoenix has been exciting everyone so far!" Jason explained with a nod.

"ALL RIGHT!" Lucy had her pen and notepad in hand, excitedly throwing a hand into the air. Time to get us a scoop!"

"COOOOL!" Jason roared.

"Yer goin' down kid!" Berrick grinned as magic began to surround his hands. The short and stout male began to rush Ethan down, preparing to end him right then and there.

Ethan remained calm, bringing his right arm back as it began to shift into something. "Machina Soul…CANNON!" As soon as Berrick drew closer, Ethan brought his arm forward, revealing it to be a cannon of sorts! This cannon released a massive beam of magic that consumed the opposition, pushing him back into the wall on the opposite side! That one blast was all she wrote and Berrick was down.

"And that's it-kabo! Ethan Star is the winner!" The real Mato exclaimed from the commentator's seat.

"Amazing! And with just one shot Ethan Star takes it for Black Phoenix B!" Chapati exclaimed and the crowd roared.

"YEAH!" Asuka lifted up her bandaged arm into the air, cheering for her partner.

With day 2 of the Games drawing to a conclusion, people began to depart the stadium. Lucy was trailing behind Jason as they discussed the article for the next issue of Sorcerer's Weekly. "Okay, so I'll get the article and the layout down, so leave it to me!"

"Thanks!" Jason grinned. But his expression shifted and he crossed his arms, closing his eyes in thought. "But you know…this year's Grand Magic Games just doesn't have that…boom to it. Last year, it was the most intense thing we'd ever seen up until that point. Black Phoenix and Shaman's Haven have been doing a good job keeping the crowd excited, but….Sabertooth, Lamia Scale…Mermaid Heel…"

"Blue Pegasus…Quatro Cerberus…White Eclipse…" Lucy listed off the other guilds that hadn't shown up this year.

"And Fairy Tail, too…" Jason's gaze shifted to Lucy with a small grin.

Lucy brushed off the comment with a sheepish grin. "Well, that's because it doesn't exist anymore. Neither does White Eclipse from what I've been told."

"But that mark on your hand…" Jason noticed. Even though Fairy Tail was gone, Lucy still had the guild mark on her hand for one reason or another. "It's all over, huh? Such a shame, though…" With those words, Jason waved Lucy off as they parted ways for the day.

"…" Lucy let out sigh and her gaze dropped to the ground.

Tia tilted her head, approaching Lucy with her arms crossed. "Hey, it's getting late."

"Yeah…" Lucy nodded and the two of them returned back to Lucy's home.

As night time fell, Lucy was in her room while Tia was already asleep. The blonde was sitting at her desk, writing someone on a piece of paper. When finished, she ended off her day by getting into the bath, now alone with her thoughts. With her arms wrapped around her knees, Lucy stared down into the water with a heavy sigh. Jason's words lingering in her mind. "It's really been over a year since I last saw everyone. I've been so busy…but that's just my excuse. They've all gone on their own paths…maybe I just can't face them. No…that's a lie too…" Lucy sighed once more. "I want to see them." "But…I don't think I have the courage to…" "BUT I WANT TO SEE YOU GUYS!" Lucy flailed about in the tub, kicing water everywhere.

"Hey! SHUT IT!" Lucy's fit angered her neighbors.

"S-Sorry!" How embarrassing! She should have been more careful. She might have woken up Tia too…but she was a surprisingly heavy sleeper. Lucy got out of the bath and began to dry herself off, keeping the towel wrapped around her; she approached the wall where there were several news clippings about everyone's activities over the last year. The reason Lucy became a reporter was to gather information on everyone; even Plue was helping out by moving some books to the side. "Nothing on Natsu and Happy again…" The blonde spoke in a melancholy tone. Eventually the rush of emotions got to her and she pressed her head against the board, clenching her hand into a fist. She wanted everyone to get back together…but Fairy Tail didn't exist…and more so….

"It's my fault." Lucy thought as she slumped against the wall, burying her head into her knees. One year later, and she was all alone. No Aquarius, no Fairy Tail, no Natsu, no Mii…even Tia couldn't stay by her side forever, hence why her visits were so short. Even with her company, Lucy still felt depressed. Even though she faced every day with a bright smile, things just weren't the same anymore. "Master's decision came after what happened with Emmeraude…Fairy Tail was only targeted because of me. She was right…I really do bring nothing but trouble to those around me." Lucy blamed herself for everything that happened in the events leading up to Fairy Tail's disband one year ago. There was one little nugget of truth in Lucy's apprehension to try contacting the others.

"I'm afraid…that they don't want to see me again…"



Next Time: My Feelings.