(Updated, 4/4/10)Welcome to my first Fairy Tail FF, New Readers and Returning Ones!

Yes, this story will have OCs, mostly because it helps the story work the way I want it to. I would apologize for the slow-pace of the first few chapters, but that's all part of the game for plot set up! Hopefully you'll continue through and come to find the story worthwhile. I have decided for a Natsu/Lucy pairing, but it's slow, so you gotta stick with it--no apologies there, either, since it's difficult to throw together a pairing that's barely there in the manga. Other pairings will come at my discretion and may not be canon.

The focus of the story is on Lucy's growth and her friends' trials--despite having an OC. Hope you enjoy, and always let me know what you think/feel. I don't mind a review on Chapter 1, even if I just posted Chapter 1023432 (ok, it won't be getting that long!). I will warn you that I won't put up with ridiculous reviews that degrade me or my readers. It may seem harsh, but those aren't reviews--they are cowardly ways for readers to vent their life's frustrations on the author. Our opinions may differ, and I respect yours, so please respect the time and effort I put into this writing. If you wanna talk about something relating to life or my story, feel free to PM me, I'll always answer. You can degrade me there, FYI ^_^

Happy Reading! Enjoy!

Disclaimer: I do not own Fairy Tail. I only take credit for the potential OCs that I have added to the story.



Lucy looked down as the sound of the thick paper sliding across the table met her ears. She chewed thoughtfully as she stared blankly at the paper. She blinked a few times before realizing she was supposed to read it.

"Huh? What is this?" she asked, confused by the its sudden appearance. Erza softly tapped her finger on the article that she wanted Lucy to read. Lucy's eyes scanned the article: Another Spirit Mage Meets His Death.

Great, Lucy thought, swallowing quickly. Another one. Her appetite quickly diminished.

"The second, this week," Erza said warningly. Her voice was low, but her message clear: it is no longer coincidence.

"Whash thash?" Natsu asked, food flying in every direction as he spoke. Lucy shot him a deadly glare, as Happy looked between the two friends.

Erza spoke more loudly, her tone grave, "Another Spirit Mage was found dead." She gave Natsu a knowing glance, silently conveying her suspicions about the manner of death. Murdered. Lucy understood the what had passed between the two, but she didn't want them to know she had grasped Erza's underlying meaning. Playing stupid could sometimes work to one's advantage.

She cleared her throat, trying to change the subject, "Natsu, try not to chew with your mouth full. It's gross!"

"Showwy," he muttered, as he continued to shovel food into his mouth. A piece of his breakfast hit the newspaper. Lucy silently flicked it away, disgusted. She read the fine print, her lips moving as she did so.

Another one. Another spirit mage killed or hurt. What was going on? The reports started off as sporadic encounters, merely pushed aside as coincidence. But, in the past few months, the attacks on Stellar Spirit Mages had increased in both number and frequency. The Daily Sorcerer had done a fine job of creating panic amongst Lucy's friends in Fairy Tail. She slumped down into her seat, staring darkly at the far wall. She knew what this latest report would mean. She was a prisoner.

"I don't think you should leave the guild," Erza murmured. "At least not until we can think of why this is happening." Her tone was cheerful, but Lucy knew it held an unspoken threat. Erza was not to be crossed. Lucy shivered at the thought of making Titania angry. Not a happy memory.

"How is breakfast?" Mirajane cheerfully scooted past the small table, smiling at Gray, Natsu, Erza, Happy and Lucy. Though Juvia wasn't sitting next to Gray, Lucy knew she was not far off, probably sneaking covert glances at the young man.

Lucy smiled at Gray, "Forgot your clothes again, did you?" It was common knowledge that the ice mage was rarely clothed. Breakfast, especially.

Gray examined himself, as is for the first time that morning. "Shit!" he howled as he realized he wearing only his underwear. He attempted to wrap himself with his arms. "Natsu, give me your scarf!" he pleaded.

Erza smiled as Natsu shot him a look, "Not a chance. Your problem." Lucy was amazed that he managed to swallow his food before answering.

"Not again," Gray whined. "Dammit!" He looked around, realizing that no one seemed to care--most were used to his antics by now. He shrugged and continued to eat.

Lucy had the feeling that Juvia didn't mind Gray's near nudity. Lucy toyed with speaking her thought aloud, but she knew it was a touchy subject for Gray. He was aware of the increased attention he was receiving from the blue-haired mage, but the feeling was not reciprocal. He was tiring of her constant fawning, but didn't have the heart to upset her. She was an amazingly kind woman, albeit jealous of any female that came within a few feet of Gray. But, Lucy admitted, she was truly nice. At times, Lucy suspected that Gray wished he could return the one-sided feelings, but, he couldn't. The feelings just weren't there. Lucy almost pitied the former Element Four mage, considering she joined the guild purely out of her infatuation with the Gray.

"It seems," Erza interrupted Lucy's thoughts, "that the spirits are being stolen."

She tapped the paper, her eyes narrowing as she read. Lucy knew that Erza was thinking of all the possible reasons for the increased attacks on Stellar Spirit Mages. By the newspaper's accounts, it had started with only a few, scattered confrontations--each mage giving a different physical description of his or her attacker. The only common entity was that it was a woman. That much they were sure of.

At first, the attacks were random; the mages were unharmed, willingly negating their contracts with their spirits in order to save their own lives. As the months passed, however, the attacks seemed to increase in frequency. More prominent, guild-associated mages were being accosted. The past three attacks had ended in the death of the spirit mage, much to Lucy's chagrin. She knew that Erza would take these attacks seriously: Lucy was, after all, a spirit mage. In Erza's mind, she may possibly be an intended target of one such attack.

Lucy leaned over to look more closely at the article. This one occurred in Fiore. Great, she thought, I won't be able to leave my own apartment. This was the first attack that had occurred so close to Magnolia Town

Lucy would never give up her spirits willingly, and Erza knew that she would be harmed in any confrontation of that sort. "I think you should stay in the guild. Where we can keep an eye on you. It's safest here," Erza explained. She pulled the paper away from Lucy. "Get it?" she barked, realizing that Lucy hadn't answered.

"Yes!" Lucy squeaked, as she jumped in her seat. Erza could be quite intimidating when she wanted to be.

"What about Lucy?" Gray chimed in, as he cast an annoyed glance at Natsu. Natsu, on the other hand, was happily eating everything in sight.

Erza sighed, "There was another Stellar Spirit Mage attack. This mage wasn't so lucky." She watched Gray's reaction. The dark-haired mage understood the seriousness of the situation, nodding in response. Lucy rolled her eyes in frustration.

"I agree with Erza, Lucy," he looked at the young blonde mage. "It's safest here."

Lucy's shoulders slumped, "But...but how can I pay my rent if I don't take on assignments?" Her voice was almost pleading.

"You should have plenty left over from our last mission," Erza tsk-ed. They had made a small fortune from the treacherous mission, and each of them should be able to live comfortably for a year. That would be true, except Lucy had spent most of her pay on a new wardrobe. But, she didn't think it wise to share that tidbit of information with Erza...

Instead, she vigorously nodded her agreement. "Oh! Y-yes! I forgot." She nursed her cup of coffee, staring into the thick liquid and thinking of ways to make Erza see that she was being over-protective.

"Good, then it's settled." Erza smiled half-heartedly, as Lucy replied in kind.

"I'm still hungry!" Natsu interrupted.

"Shut up!" Erza and Lucy yelled in unison.

Natsu glared as he grumbled profanities and stalked off toward Mirajane, his plate in hand. Lucy immediately felt guilty for taking her frustration out on him. She watched him as he wordlessly held out his plate out to Mirajane. The young, motherly figure smiled vividly as she replaced his empty plate with one full of food. Natsu walked back to the table, full plate in tow--Happy was following close behind, his plate filled with fish.

Natsu stuck his tongue out at Lucy before he began to eat. He was met with a swift kick to the shin and a smile of satisfaction from Lucy. Her new boots had a reinforced steel toe, and it apparently worked, given that Natsu's face turned pale from the pain as his eyes bugged from his head. He accidentally elbowed Gray as he winced with pain.

Gray's head turned as he angrily glared at Natsu, "What the hell, asshole?"

"Who are you calling an asshole?" Natsu shot back, his temper flaring. "It was an accident!"

Gray grabbed the front of Natsu's vest, pulling him upward. The two men began a war of words, as Lucy winced at the thought of the impending battle that would ensue. Erza rubbed her temples, closing her eyes in annoyance. "You two," she began, her voice barely above a whisper.

When their bickering didn't cease, Erza thumped her fist on the table. "Enough!" she roared.

Both Natsu and Gray stared fearfully at the her, instantly returning to their seats and resuming their meals. Lucy smiled in satisfaction at their silence. Erza can still strike fear into these two idiots, she thought. Maybe someday she could be so fear-provoking as well. Before she could commend Erza, the large entrance to the Guild slammed open. The early morning light spilled into the great hall, and two large shadows were cast along the floor. Lucy squinted into the sunlight, her head pounding from the effort.

"Who is that?" she heard someone murmur as the hall became deathly silent. She heard a few shrill whistles ring out from anonymous callers.

"Old Man?" Natsu breathed, as Lucy shot him an annoyed glance from across the table.

"My children!" Makarov's cheerful voice rang through the great hall. "We have a visitor from the Magic Council. I want you to treat her like she is a part of this family."

All eyes fell on the newcomer, as she stepped into the large dining hall. She cast a sideways glance at the ancient mage. She had detected the slight change in his intonation as he discussed the newcomer's origin. So he dislikes the Council, she thought to herself. Interesting for one of the Holy Mages.

She cleared her throat, adjusting her thick-framed rectangular glasses as they slid down the bridge of her nose. "Thank you, Makarov. Your introduction was too kind."

She turned her attention toward the sea of magical faces. She could see that some were filled with confusion, some with interest, and some with annoyance--most likely at the interruption at their expense. She hadn't expected so many members in this guild. She glanced down at the handful of names that were scrawled on her clipboard. She could hear a few catcalls as she took the time to gather her words. She pushed her thick, side-swept bangs from her face as she raised her pale blue eyes to meet the crowd.

"Good morning," she smiled sweetly as she met their expectant gazes. "As your master has mentioned, I am from the Magic Council, yes. I'm here for a Guild Inspection, as mandated by the Council."

She could hear a few groans from the crowd. She maintained her blood-red smile. "My name, in case anyone is interested, is Adassandra Marigold! I look forward to meeting each and every one of you."

Though she smiled to the crowd, there was only one person, in particular, with whom the newcomer was interested in meeting.