Here it is. The final installment of A Fairy's Blood.
That's right. The epilogue is here.
It's only roughly 3300 words without the author's notes, and I apologize, but I couldn't drag it on anymore without making it seem boring or monotonous. I tried to keep you hanging until close to the end, though...
Anyway, I'm going to thank everyone who's reviewed at the end of the chapter, so keep reading for that, okay? It takes up half the chapter's word count.
I love you guys.
His eyes were wide, staring, and she couldn't turn her gaze away.
Blood pooled all around them, coming from both of them, but all she could see was how the light in his eyes flickered. He was losing consciousness just as she was, but still he was more worried for her than he was for himself. His mouth was moving and she struggled to understand just what it was that he was saying to her.
Apologies. She realized he was apologizing, both with words and with a pleading gaze in his eyes. The eyes that were flickering between liveliness and listlessness and seemed to stare right into her very soul, understanding everything that she didn't want to say or didn't want him to know. And she knew that this dying man knew her better than any other man alive. She knew he cared about her in the same way that she cared about him and so he knew he didn't blame her for all of this. But she blamed herself. So, so much. It was her fault for having fairy blood somewhere down the line, and for being blonde, and for everything else that had led up to this point.
She hated herself for causing it all. For leading him to this point, the brink of death, from which she couldn't drag him back. It was her fault, and even if he didn't blame her she'd blame herself. But she thanked him, even though it hurt, with both her voice and her eyes and a weak embrace. If it hadn't been for him, she would have killed everyone that she loved and cared for. And the killing would have started with him, so he'd saved himself by cleansing her of the demon that had taken residence briefly inside of her.
But then again, she knew he hadn't just cleansed her because it would save his own life.
No. He wasn't that selfish.
In fact, she reflected briefly, he wasn't selfish in the least. Her vision flickered and went out of focus briefly but snapped back, and she stared at him long and hard. She knew her eyes must be losing their liveliness just as his were, but she didn't care, If only he could live. If only she could die here but he could survive and live his life…it might be better off that way, anyway. He was always selfless, so why couldn't she somehow find some selfless way of saving his life? It was only fair. He'd saved her life more times than she could count, and yet she couldn't even save his.
His eyes dulled and her heart beat faster, which just hurt like hell, as she held her breath, silently begging the light to come back. She couldn't persist past him, right? She was hurt worse, so much worse, so why couldn't she be the only one to die here? Damn it, why couldn't he live?
Relief surged through her as he blinked and looked down at her. His eyes were slightly out of focus, but that was better than being dull and lifeless, so she could stand it. He just had to survive until some of their other nakama came to save them. They could patch him up first because she'd insist that they did, and she'd probably breathe her last between now and the time they arrived and healed him, but she didn't care as long as he'd live. She was frantic, wanting him to be all right but somewhere very deep down knowing that he wouldn't. The bleeding holes in his chest were too serious, just like the laceration on her arm. And not to mention the fact that they were both severely burned by his purifying flames.
Why? She wondered furiously in her faltering moments of lucidness. Why did he somehow make his fire hot enough to burn himself, when he was never bothered by the heat? It was enough to kill the demon that inhabited her body…but it was also enough to push them to this point. The edge of death, only a few feeble breaths keeping them from tumbling into the endless, black abyss and being lost to the people who cared about them. It was torture knowing the end was so near but waiting so slowly for it to come for them. She never wanted to be in this situation. To be fair, she'd never expected that she would be in a dilemma like this.
The blonde would have given anything to the salmon-haired man holding her in his arms. Anything that it took for him to live, and to keep living, even after she perished and could, perhaps, go to watch over him.
She loved him. More than anything.
Lucy Heartfilia loved Natsu Dragneel.
And they were both going to die right there, in each other's arms, their blood pooling beneath them as their breathing slowed and they quickly became short of breath. Her vision became blurrier and blurrier until finally, she let her head fall to his bleeding chest. She didn't care that his blood was staining her usually golden locks a deep red. She didn't care that his blood was covering her, seeping into the white dress she wore and pooling underneath them on the floor. She wished he wasn't bleeding, but she couldn't do anything to change that now even if she had tried, and so she let out her breaths slowly. She couldn't pull in enough air to form the words she so desperately wanted to say to him.
I love you.
And so she said them to herself, tried to say them with her eyes when she tilted her head briefly up to look at him again. To her, it seemed as if he was saying the same thing back, and in the last few moments, it was all that she needed.
I love you.
The darkness encroached upon her vision and she felt herself slumping against him.
So this is it, she thought. This is how it all ends.
And then everything was dark.
Burning. There was a burning feeling in her chest and she shot up, breathing heavily and searching around frantically in the darkness for something, anything, to take those terrifying images out of her head. Anything to get the image of the knife protruding from his chest out of her head. The images of all of the blood that had been shed by those in her dream…they were stuck in her head. So firmly that she hadn't been able to dislodge them no matter how hard she had tried. And oh, had she tried to get the images out of her head. She never wanted to think of them again.
Burying her face in her hands, somewhat surprised to find that her cheeks were wet, the woman started to shake. Her shoulders jerked as she silently sobbed into her hands.
Why won't the images go away? She desperately asked herself. Why can't I just forget?
She knew the answer, though.
She couldn't forget because that event had changed her life forever. She knew now, more than ever before, that she had to cling to those things that meant the most to her or she might lose them for good. She had to hold her loved ones tightly when she got the chance, and tell them she loved them every single time that she could, because she would never know when something might pull her away from them or them away from her. And everyone else had learned the same things. Fairy Tail would never be the same since Icarus and his minions had taken Lucy and Natsu had gone after them, but they would always be protective of their nakama.
So she couldn't forget.
The memory was too important and life-changing to forget.
"You don't look like you've slept at all," her husband said as she walked into the kitchen the next morning. "And I know you weren't really asleep when I got up earlier."
She just sat down at the table and held her face in her hands, taking a few deep breaths. She was glad he understood her. Her husband of six years understood her better than anyone else ever had or ever could, and she was glad that he was here with her now. She didn't know what she'd do if she lost him.
"It was that dream again, wasn't it?"
He knew, too, that she still had dreams about that fateful day.
It had been seven years since the event that had changed their lives forever had taken place. Seven years since a crazed cult had kidnapped a precious member of the Fairy Tail family and enraged another. Seven years since the demon Nezra had taken control of the blonde Lucy and tried to force her to kill her comrades. And seven years since the day that everything Fairy Tail had known had come to an abrupt end.
Nothing was ever simple anymore. Each day was a fight to get through. A seemingly never-ending struggle with a past that she just wanted to forget. None of the Fairy Tail members wanted to remember the events of that day, but they knew they had to keep it in mind. It had changed them all.
Mirajane and Fried had finally been able to fully recognize their feelings for one another after seeing the bloody Natsu Dragneel and Lucy Heartfilia in the middle of that chamber, blood pooling around them as they lay slumped in each other's arms. It was Fried, inconceivably, who had broken first and admitted that he didn't know what he'd do if something like that were to have happened to Mirajane. And after them, Levy and Gajeel had revealed to everyone else a relationship that they had been hiding. Even the cold-hearted dragonslayer had to admit that he wouldn't be able to control his rage if someone or something tried to harm Levy as Icarus and those minions had harmed Lucy. He could imagine just how Natsu had felt at that time. Erza was able to accept everything that Jellal was and had become and was willing to wait for him to get over their age barrier. And Juvia had finally won over Gray by confessing up front, tears in her eyes. Revealing what she hadn't been hiding very well but what her Gray-sama was still oblivious to had been hard for her, but rewarding. He hadn't realized his own mixed feelings for her yet, but it didn't take much longer. He knew he didn't want to lose her now. And Happy and Charle had finally become a pair, as well as Romeo and Wendy with some time, and even more inconceivably than Gajeel and Levy falling for each other had been Laxus and Cana. Evergreen and Elfman was even less of a shock than Laxus and Cana had been. But everyone was realizing that what they had and who they had were more important than anything else.
Fairy Tail was a crazy guild. Loud and always quibbling and fighting, but even so…they cared. They were more like a family than most guilds were. One event that involved only two of their members still had such an effect on all of them.
Life had changed so much. For a short while, the fights had died down, but as everyone came to terms with what had happened, the members of Fairy Tail began to become their old selves again. A new rule was added to the guild's official rule book (which was rather empty, considering). It read that all members of Fairy Tail were to care for and protect their nakama no matter what. Through thick and thin, troubles, hardships, and everything else, they were to stand as one and as a family against whatever odds they may face. And everyone was fine with that.
"It's been seven years…" he said after a long silence, breaking the woman's train of thought.
"…I know…" she replied softly, staring at her hands. "I know. I just…"
"I know," he repeated her words, his larger hands reaching across the table to cup both of her pale, delicate hands in his own. "I know it's hard, but it's in the past. You've got to put it behind you."
She wanted to tell him that she knew, again, but she kept her mouth closed because the images were running through her mind again and the tears were filling her eyes and why couldn't it just stop?
She took a steadying breath then, looking up at her husband, her eyes filling with tears.
"I know…that I need to move on. But it's so…so hard. I almost lost everything I cared about, and I never want to feel that way again. I felt so helpless…like nothing I had ever done would make up for my failure to do anything when it was most important. That day…it's defined everything since then, hasn't it? It shaped the rest of our lives, whether we want to accept it or not…. It's just so hard to let it go. I want to forget, but I…I know that I can't. It wouldn't be right."
"You silly woman," he sighed, reaching up to cup the side of her face. "You have moved on, for the most part. Haven't you realized?"
She stared at him blankly for a minute, then thought about what he'd said and shortly understood.
The dreams only came on this day every year. The day when it had all happened.
"No buts," he shook his head at her, his thumb brushing away a stray tear. "This only happens on that day, every year. The rest of the year, you're fine. You're the same carefree, smiling woman that I fell in love with all those years ago. But on this day, you're vulnerable. I understand that, but I also know that you can fight through this."
She loved him. So, so much. She loved him for believing in her even when she couldn't believe in herself and for believing that she could do what she thought was almost impossible. He was always there for her, always right beside her and always, always encouraging her. He was her lifeline, the one thing that had kept her going through the hard times since that day. Because she had him, she could make it through even when such a tragedy had happened.
"Thank you," she said, smiling falteringly at him. But it was a true smile, and he knew it. She took him in then as she wiped her tears with the hand that was freed from his grasp. He had a strong jaw line, defined and sculpted perfectly. It made his whole visage handsome. He was still just as well muscled as he had been before that catastrophe and she loved to run her hands across his chest. Her salmon-haired husband always spared a smile for her when he knew she needed to see it, just as she did for him. And even if she felt that the scars on his chest were all her fault, he never blamed her for any of it and that made her love him even more.
The blonde woman pushed her chair back and circled around the small kitchen table as her husband stood up. She threw herself into his arms, hugging him tightly and burying her face in his chest. She would never, ever let this man go. He meant too much to her, and that incident all that time ago had taught her that the hard way.
"Mama? Papa?" a tired-sounding voice came, and a yawn followed the questioning tone. The two adults turned to look, spying a little blonde-haired boy rubbing his eyes and holding a dragon plush that Gajeel and Levy had given him. "What's for breakfast?"
The five and a half year old boy had his father's dark eyes combined with his mother's blonde hair, and was terribly adorable. Despite the hair, he looked so much like his father it wasn't even possible to deny that they were father and son. She smiled as she looked upon her firstborn child, revising her earlier thoughts. As the pink-haired little girl rounded the corner after her older brother,
"Yeah," the four year old girl pouted adorably, blinking at the kitchen light's brightness. "I'm hun'ry."
"Of course you are, Luna!" the woman went to pick up the little girl, as her husband had already reached their son and twirled him into a bear hug. "You're a growing girl, aren't you?"
Luna giggled as her mother tickled her tummy, her childish lisp in evidence as she asked her Mama to stop. The little boy, Judo, laughed at his sister's plight until his father did the same to him.
And the blonde woman realized, as she helped her daughter into a chair at the table, that she had everything she could ever want right here. She had a loving family, and it was all she had ever wanted. She knew that she would never let them go and as the first snow of the season began to fall outside the window and she saw the glee glowing on their faces, she promised she'd never let them be hurt that way. Even if events like that made those involved stronger, it was never something she would wish on anyone.
"Can we go out an p'ay, in da snow, Mama?" said Luna, missing the 'L' in her request to 'play'.
"Of course you can, sweetie, but you have to eat breakfast first and then bundle up!"
The two children groaned, and the parents just laughed.
Arms wrapped around the blonde mother of two from behind, and she smiled at the utter warmth her husband radiated.
"I love you, Luce."
She smiled at the words, watching her son get nailed in the face by a snowball from Mira and Fried's daughter Eliza. He frowned, whined, then tackled the slightly older girl into the snow as the son of Juvia and Gray was helping Luna build a snowman, despite the fact that she accidentally melted it down a few times and they had to start over again.
"I love you too, Natsu."
Dear Mama and Papa,
How are you? It's been so long. About this time last year, I think, when I last had that nightmare. I'm sorry about that. I thought I'd write you again to tell you that Luna and Judo are doing just fine. They're growing up healthy, and that's all I've ever wanted for them. I know you understand that.
I think Luna's getting a crush on Leon, the son of Gray and Juvia. They're about the same age and it's really cute. Leon inherited Gray's ice abilities and Luna has Natsu's fire powers, so it's an interesting combination. I know this is thinking really far ahead, but I wouldn't be surprised if they got married someday. Don't they say that opposites attract? And he wouldn't give up on Luna when they tried to make a snowman today, even though she kept accidentally melting him, so I think he might like her, too. Just to be able to see this kind of puppy love in my own children is exciting, since I never thought I'd get to this point. Not since everything that happened seven years ago. But I'm moving on, slowly but surely. I know you'd understand.
I wanted you to know that. Everything is going fine with us. Natsu and I are as good as ever, and we have the best family in the world. It's all I could ever ask for.
I love you guys, more than I could ever say.
Lucy Heartfilia-Dragneel would never forget everything that had happened to them, but she wouldn't change the results for anything in the world. Even if she could go back, she might leave it the way it was, because changing something might change everything and she never wanted that.
Everything was fine now, and that's the way it would stay.
(For Real This Time)
Okay, this is how it -officially- ends. For real this time. No more epilogues, nada. I'm literally about to cry as I'm typing this, because I don't want to let this go. But like all things, a fanfiction must come to an end, and to use a kind of silly quote, "The buck stops here."
Guys, I love you all. You are the best readers EVER and I thank you so, so much for sticking with me. Everyone, read the following list and remember that all of you are part of what made this story everything that it is. Inspiration and my metaphorical blood, my sweat and my tears, the aching in my hands and fingers and arms and even my neck as I sat at this computer for hours to type out the chapters to this story...all of it is because you guys are such good supporters. If you know some of the others, give them a shout-out. Say thanks to each other. Because seriously, guys, you deserve it.
Those who have accounts are as follows:
aphrodite931 - I love you like a sister! I don't know if you've been reading the last few chapters, Ari, but I know why if you haven't been, and I understand. But thank you. The very first reviewer: that was you. And I'll always love you for that. XD
ShiningStellar- You're one of the very best, Mira! You consistently reviewed (that is, you reviewed every single chapter from the very beginning) and you don't know how thankful I am for that!
litashe - you only reviewed three times, but all three times I was glad you reviewed. The child mastermind of the Writing Challenges forum - we should all bow down to you! Thanks, girl.
Senbei x Cup Ramen- oh, yeah. You reviewed every single chapter, too. Did you realize? And your reviews always made me laugh. Kudos to you!
Soraye- I only ever heard from you once, but I'm still glad you thought to review even that much. Thank you so much.
Panda24- Same as above. You only ever reviewed once, but you're amazing. Thank you.
babyMaya14- you reviewed twice, but that doesn't make you any less awesome than those who reviewed more. I'll take whatever I can get! So, thank you so much for the support!
Mysty Midnight- hey, girl. Missed you in the forums, but...life happens, eh? And thank you so much. You may have just reviewed once, but even that much from someone as awesome as you is great. :)
Green Tide- Twice, you reviewed, and twice you made me one of the happiest fanfic authors ever. Thank you!
Princess Happy-You reviewed every single chapter, too. And always with a giggle-like gihihihi or similar. It made me smile.
Akarui Nightshade- I do believe you started out with a different name...but all the same you still reviewed seven times and that's amazing. Thank you so, so much!
sayo-chan64- you've become one of my favorite people to talk to. You only reviewed twice, but we've PMed far more than that. Thank you for the interesting conversations!
Footster26- I remember thinking 'what a name!' when you first reviewed, but I'm glad you did review. Not only that first time, but four more times, for a grand total of five. So, thank you!
NyxOfIce - you only reviewed once, but I'm still glad that my story was interesting enough for you to leave that one review. If you still read it, thank you!
MJ-RaM'XD - what a name! I don't knwo what to make of it. You reviewed once, but that's all right. Just knowing you read at least that far is enough for me :)
Wicked0813- Well, well, well. I remember you. You reviewed twice, but just like sayo-chan, we've messaged MUCH more than that. Luv ya! Thank you so much. :)
Oharu chicken - Oh, look! it's one of those who stalks my stories! Sort of. But I don't mind. You make me grin whenever you review. So thanks for the six reviews for A Fairy's Blood!
MaJorReader619- I recognize this name, too. Six times you made me one happy camper. Thanks for the support!
AkumaNoKiseki- what to say? You're...you. And you're awesome. You reviewed five times, and from those reviews stemmed a PM friendship that I wouldn't trade for anything. Thanks to you, too! XD
Nami-chaan- I heard from you six times, and that makes all the difference between hearing from you and not hearing from you. Thanks for supporting me!
xmizuwaterx- I only got to hear from you once, but that's okay. Every review counts, and I'm grateful to you for reading even that much!
Fiamatta Montague- to be honest, I loved how you weren't afraid to tell me if you thought the scene was a little rushed. I smiled each of the five times I was notified that you'd reviewed.
xporcelain - Porce, Porce, Porce. I only heard from you once, but shoot, hearing from you at ALL makes me grin like a fool. Go, you!
Rogue Soul Alchemist - you got two back-to-back reviews in, somehow. Those two reviews were the only time I heard from you, but they still made me feel awesome. Thank you.
Mae Snapdragon- You reviewed because it had been around my birthday, and that's all, but I'm still glad you did. Thank you so much.
kpopgurl88- You reviewed once, but again, it helped make this story what it was. Thank you for that!
keesogreat- I got to hear from you twice, and your name always made me grin because I can never make sense of it. Thank you for inadvertently making me smile :)
summer's lullaby - I only got one review from you, but that's just fine. Knowing you liked it makes everything better.
SakuraTreeLover- A Fairy's Blood was graced with your reviews three times. There aren't enough words to say. Thank you!
Namikaze360-hello, stranger. Like a few of the others, you only reviewed once, but like I keep saying, every review helped shape this and so I thank you. So much.
Black Blood Alliance- Thank you for your one review. It made me grin, even when I reread it just a few minutes ago.
tini17 - Thank you for reviewing, even just once. If you're still reading, you should know that every review counts.
GreenxStrawberry-First off, your name amuses me. But more than that, thanks for reviewing the one time you did.
FloraFaveXNara-Wire- your name is another one of the ones I don't understand, but that's all right. You reviewed twice, and I'm thankful to you.
angelofdeath8254- another of those who reviewed twice. You have my gratitude. You don't even know how thankful I am.
Fan25- I suppose your review meant that you were a fan of this for a while, too? So thanks :)
ashley-myth - Thank you so much for the support. One review is all I need to know that someone new likes one of my creations.
cael05- your reviews (there were three of them) are well appreciated, since you even admitted in one of them that you're usually a solid Loke x Lucy fan. Thank you!
arkee- One review from you. One review that helped me see more clearly than ever that my story could evoke emotions in readers, and that means the world. Thank you.
Rieyama Yuuko- I think your username is rather pretty, if that isn't too weird of me to say. Twice you asked for updates, and it helped me get the spur I needed to write more.
OhtaSuzuke- Hey. I know you. You're that once person who reviewed three times and made me grin. Thanks!
kitsunekitsune-bi- words cannot express how glad I am that you startedc your first of two reviews with 'words cannot express...'. Haha. Thank you for being there.
Chrys Stone - You, who reviewed only once, made me happy. You called my cliffhanger the 'best cliffhanger ever'. Thank you for liking my evilness as much as I do.
61wisampa - another one of those names I don't understand. But who cares, right? Twice you reviewed, and your threats made me grin, because hey, I like that I can cause strong reactions. Thank you!
IloveallAnime15- I love a lot of anime, but not quite all. You're a pretty amazing person, then! Thank you for being there and reviewing twice, because it means a lot!
Demontailedfox- one review is all it takes. I'm glad I reached you with A Fairy's Blood.
iLoveNatsu-hey, what a coincidence. I love Natsu, too! Though I think Lucy might just like him more. Haha. Thanks so much for dropping by to review the time that you did!
Shannyrox101- Every review counts. Thank you for takign the time to leave me one :)
Chocopipe- I remember you because I tried to reply to your review, but you don't allow PMs. So I'll thank you very much from here, in the event that you've been reading.
corialanus- Thank you for being there the two times that you reviewed. You were just to chapter five when I posted chapter ten, I believe. Or something like that. Haha. :)
JazzJenzie- for some reason, I didn't rememer your name, so in the event that I never replied to your review because of a glitch where I didn't get notification emails (which did happen), thank you!
animelover0001- you know what? I love anime too. Haha. And I thank you for calling me evil, because it's what I was going for!
empty-spaces- thank you so much for reviewing. You told me I could 'write my hands off' and that made my day.
moni-neechan- neechan! Haha. Your reviews on this (and my other stories) make me smile. I always like hearing from repeat readers :)
OrbitalTM4- you're another one who's read several of my stories. I think that deserves a huge thank you as well, so THANK YOU.
XxXEnvyXxX- you're the lucky one. You just read this today and I'm already updating the epilogue. I regret to inform you that no, there won't be a sequel, because this kind of destroys the need for there to be one. But thank you so much for reading anyway. :)
And there are a few anonymous reviewers who are as follows:
LeighAnn x 3, Melyin, Bellator-Tonitrus, Silly x 2, NoNameInvisiCat, titis9877, anonymous, Sarah, Hobomaniac, NaLu Fan x 2, Natasha, and Ari. - guys, you may not have accounts, or maybe you were too lazy to log in (haven't we all had those days?), but thank you nonetheless. And I must say that, NoNameInvisiCat, if there's no one with that username you should totally use it, because it made me giggle.
To everyone: Thank you so much. 56 people who have accounts and twelve who don't...Everything you guys have said made this story what it is. And to those who may not have reviewed, your support was no less important. I love you all.