Disclaimer: I do not own Fairy Tail in any way, shape or form.

I should really stop adding stuff to this story and work on other things. This is meant to be finished!

However, it seems that with my last update came a lot of confusion. Hopefully, this chapter can help you understand the OC that I had added in the epilogue.

Also, I probably won't add anymore chapters to TWWOW after this chapter. I really do need to move on and work on other projects, so yeah...

Oh! OH! Before I forget! blackrain105. tumblr .com(/)post(/)26697037932(/)im-finally-finished-and-i-still-suck-at (remove the brackets and any spaces)

BlackRain105; she is probably someone that I love so, so, so much right now. When she approached me asking for permission to draw that, I nearly flipped. When I saw the draft, I flipped. And when I saw the final piece of work, I just freaked.

Thank you so much for drawing that. Words cannot even describe how honored and flattered I am. I recommend that everyone look at it's awesomeness.

Now with that said, I present to you a side story of To What We Once Were!

Side Story – And So, the Rival Came

She had always been a fiery little sprite, even before she had found out about the truth. But, ever since her true roots were uncovered, she had never been more energetic; one of the main havoc-causing people in their Guild, right beside her father for the infamous title. It was a wonder how Lucy could survive with the two.

As much as she was a reckless child, there was still one thing that she was missing.

And that was a rival.

As odd as it probably sounded, she desired to find a person that she deemed powerful enough to be called her rival. Her father had a rival, if the fact wasn't obvious enough. And although their fights were usually stupid and based upon nonsense, she still envied the fun that they seemed to share.

The opportunity had come five years after the incidents that had occurred when she had first arrived.

As a twelve year old, her powers and strength were advanced in comparison to other budding mages her age. She had to give credit to her father for all of that. After discovering that she was more inclined to fire rather than celestial magic after a year of testing out both, they had set to work. She believed that he enjoyed teaching her a lot, reminded of the similarities of the training that he had with Grandpa Igneel.

Many in the Guild believed that she had the potential to even pass Natsu one day, if she worked hard enough.

No-one at that day and age could match up to her; that is, until he came.

'He' had simply appeared one day, tagging along behind Master as the old man came back from another council meeting, almost reminiscent of a lost puppy dog unsure of where it had stumbled across. Of course, Ember was excited at first glimpse of him, overjoyed that someone her age had finally come round to (hopefully) join their rambunctious family.

She considered herself to be quite lucky when Master called her over to meet the boy.

As she approached, she got a better look at him. His head was covered in a mess of charcoal-black, with his bangs almost covering his eyes. His eyes were probably the most charming thing about him – a clear aquamarine color which surely matched the seas which surrounded Fiore. His mouth was curved into a slight frown, and with his hands tucked into the pockets of his hoodie, he almost seemed... bored.

He gave out a presence similar to that of Uncle Gray's.

She heard wailing from somewhere to her right, and presumed that it was Aunt Juvia once the cries of "Why Gray-sama? Why would Gray-sama cheat on Juvia?" were heard. The boy in front of her spared a confused glance, but stayed silent.

Wanting to be polite, she held her hand out and smiled, surprising the boy. "Nice to meet ya! I'm Ember! And hopefully, you aren't Uncle Gray's secret love child."

The boy snorted, smirking slightly as he took his hand out of his pocket to meet with hers. "Nah. As awesome as that would be, I'd rather not wreck the Fullbuster family. But you just said Ember right?" she nodded. "The famed daughter of two of the most infamous mages in all of Fiore? Nice to meet you. The name's Ryou."

"Last name?"

He shrugged. "Not important."

She gave him a wary look for a moment, before letting her grip fall. She folded her arms and stared at him, trying to figure out what was so enigmatic about him. "What kind of mage are you? Ice? Solid-Script? Take-Over? Requip?"

His small smirk grew wider, as if he were expecting her question. Cocking an eyebrow up, he crossed his arms, as if proposing a challenge to her. "How about a little fight? Then you wouldn't have to ask anymore?"

Ember's brow rose up, as her liking for the boy increased slightly at the offer. "You seem to speak my language. I like that!" she cried out, taking a step back to ready her battle stance. Her hands clenched into fists, and in less than a second, they were alight in bright ruby-colored flames. "I'm all fired up!"

She launched herself at him, prepared to deliver a heated punch to his chest. With amazing reflexes, he caught her punch before it could hit him. She was surprised that a person could stop her, more so with the fact that it was with his bare hands, which could have easily burned.

She heard a sizzling sound, flinching when she felt something cool wrap around her hands. She had shut her eyes tight, afraid of what it was. Although, the substance felt quite familiar. Opening her right eye to take a peek, she was a mixture of amazed and annoyed at discovering what his powers were.

A water mage. Ryou was a water mage.

Her opposite.

Around her, the Guild members were impressed, never believing that someone was strong enough to overcome the fire mage. Gritting her teeth, she set her right leg in flames, aiming to get a hit at the boy for vengeance.

Much to her aggravation, he dodged it, jumping up with inhuman reflexes and flipping over her head. He landed behind her. Spinning around, her hand still in his hold, he locked his free arm around her neck. Her right hand was trapped between her back and his chest, twisted at an awkward angle. Her leg was doused by a wave of water that crept upon it.

She grunted angrily, struggling to escape his hold. Even though she was turned away from him, she was sure that on his face was a gratified smirk, which she would've gladly socked right off his face.

There was a moment's silence, before the voice of the young Redfox to her left broke it. "Ember-nee... Lost?"

"So much for being the strongest mage of your age," Ryou drawled, loosening his grip enough for her to move away. Before she could make a counterattack, he had already moved, dashing to sit atop the counter. Once he was there, he gave her a teasing grin, adding a wink for good measure.

She growled under her breath, stalking her way towards him. Before she could get there, a few Guild members had already found their way, fawning over him and his 'skills'. Winter was the one closest to him, her eyes sparkling brightly in awe of the boy.

"Wow!" she gushed, clasping her hands together. "You beat Ember-nee just like that! And you have water powers like my Mom! Are you my long-lost big brother?"

Ember couldn't resist bursting into laughter at the young girl's innocent question. Ryou's eyes widened to the size of golf balls as she shook his head vehemently. Juvia squealed, screaming, "Juvia did not elope with Gray-sama so long before we had Winter!"

Gale moved forward and pushed the fawning girl away, apologizing for her idiocy. Once the ruckus over that matter was settled, Ember strode forward and sat in her mother's stool, which so happened to be where Ryou was sitting next to.

"I will beat you next time y'know," she muttered, pouting at the cocky look he had.

"Keep telling yourself that."


With an emphasized 'oof', she skidded across the wooden floor of the Guild hall. Applause rung through her ears for the boy that calmly made his way up to her to offer his hand. She huffed and pointedly glanced away, picking herself up and dusting herself off before jumping up to tackle him.

Not expecting the hit, they both fell to the floor. Ember, finally proud that she got a move on him, didn't realize how compromising their position was. However, Ryou and the rest of the Guild had, though chose not to speak so that the girl could savor her miniscule victory.

They hadn't expected their next visitors.

The Guild doors burst open, but Ember was too wrapped up in her pride to notice their entrance, until the most boisterous of them all started shouting.

"We're back! Hey! Have you got some food for us Mira! I'm starved! Train trips don't do anything good for your appetite and –"

The familiar voice stopped, and the atmosphere in the hall suddenly grew tense. Ember, finally coming back to her senses, turned her head round and grinned at her parents, only to stop when she saw her Dad's fearsome glare.

"Papa... Is something wrong?"

Before Natsu could do anything, Erza and Gray had him on the floor. Happy sat atop his head for good measure. Ember turned to her mother, who was smiling that little smile of hers when she knew something no-one else didn't.

"Mama... Why is Papa on the ground?"

"Sweetie, before you ask us that, can you tell us why you're inappropriately sitting on a boy in the middle of the hall just in time for your very overprotective father to see?" Lucy questioned, glancing at the pair.

Ember blinked, the statement registering in her mind slowly as she looked back down at the boy she was on top of. He was smiling awkwardly, and a faint pink-tinge stained his cheeks. Ember examined their position; her sitting on his stomach with her hands on his chest.

It was only proper that she shriek and jump away from him as if he were a disgusting bug.

"Papa, I can explain!" she cried frantically, waving her arms in the air like a maniac.

She heard someone snort, and glared at the young boy who buried his nose back in his textbook, but not before making the remark, "Definitely not the right words to say to your Dad. Choose better ones next time when you begin explaining stuff."

Winter smacked him on the arm. "Stop being all smarty-pants Gale!"

"You're speaking of things that most children under ten shouldn't be talking about," Pantherlily added, whacking his other arm.

Ignoring them, Ember walked up to her father, who was glaring murderously at Ryou. Lucy decided to make her way towards the new boy, meeting him for the first time even though he had already been at the Guild for two days.

"Lovely to meet you..."


"Lovely to meet you Ryou. I'm Lucy Dragneel, and the man who wants you dead is my husband and Ember's father, Natsu Dragneel," she explained, shaking his hand politely. "Be careful when you're with my daughter please. It's very hard to control that Dragon Slayer when his fatherly side kicks in. I don't think he's ready for any boy to come in close quarters with Ember just yet. But don't worry. If it comes to you, I'll persuade him to be nice."

Ryou was confused at her statement, but he did blush slightly at the knowing smile and wink that she gave.

"Mama! Stop talking with the idiot! You're making Papa even angrier!" Ember reprimanded, dragging the woman away from the boy and over to her husband. After one look at him on the ground, Lucy saw it fit to deliver a Lucy Kick, sending him flying a little ways off.

Once her deed was done, Lucy dusted her hands and turned to face Ryou, who had managed to get on his feet. "I'm sorry that we couldn't meet under better circumstances," she apologized, her smile turning sheepish. "Sometimes, it's just hard to tell how he's going to react to anything. More often than not, he overreacts to even the slightest of actions."

"Y'know, I can still hear you," a voice called out. Heads turned to see the flame mage standing up, making his way to stand by his family. He eyes the young teen cautiously, unsure of what he'll do next to his daughter. "And you... You're new, aren't you?"

Ryou nodded.

To their surprise, Natsu grinned, holding his hand out. "Well, as much as I want to burn you right now," Lucy shot him a deadly look. "It's nice to meet ya. Welcome to Fairy Tail Ryou."

The two shook hands, and from her vantage point sitting next to Gale after all the mess, Ember raised a brow. "I'm sorta surprised Dad didn't burn him yet," she whispered to the boy, who lowered his book to watch the scene. "But I feel somewhat relieved..."

"You're turning soft Ember-nee," he commented.

"You like Ryou-kun?" Winter asked, her tone sounding angry.

"Psh. Why would I like him?" Ember retorted, making a disgusted face. "There's no way... He's only been here for two days!" Winter seemed unconvinced. Ember huffed. "I do not like the new guy. He just annoys me. That's all."


That afternoon at the Dragneel residence, Ember was on her knees. On her face was the best puppy-dog face that she could produce, and with each passing second, the man in front of her cracked. She hardly ever used this tactic to get what she wanted, but she knew that for her specific request, it would require her to turn desperate.

"Please Daddy? Please? You know how much I wanna be stronger! And you know how much you want me to become the best mage of my age in all of Fiore! And that means I can't lose to anyone! So can I pretty, pretty, pretty please, with extra hot sauce and flames on top, have more training?"

"I don't know Ember... I've been training you to the extent your powers can go before you begin hurting yourself more than you need to." His eyes flickered to the kitchen, where he knew Lucy could hear ever single word of their conversation. "You're already strong, aren't you? What's with the sudden need to get stronger?"

Ember muttered a name under her breath, foolishly thinking that her father wouldn't catch it. However, when his eyebrows raised and his mouth curved into a frown, she became nervous.

"So it's about that boy... Did he beat you in a fight?" After a moment's hesitation, she nodded slowly, biting her lower lip. She heard him growl. "That kid beat you? Hmm... Maybe more training is in order for you to pummel that kid without a sweat."

Just as her hopes got up, she heard the kitchen door slam open. She winced, knowing that only one other person could be the cause of it. Head turning, she shivered at the fearsome expression that her mother had on her face. It didn't help that in her hand was a knife. Natsu had the same horrified expression his daughter had. Lucy, confused by their sudden mortification, dropped her gaze to the blade she held in her right hand. Eyes rolling at their immaturity, she went back into the kitchen to put away the knife before coming back to glare at the pair.

She took aim at Natsu first. "I can't believe you! You're willing to risk our daughter's wellbeing just because you don't like the boy that's beating her when they spar? I thought you would be smarter than that Natsu! I put faith in you when you taught her, but I never thought that you would allow her to train more and endanger herself! I'm ashamed!"

Natsu was visibly hurt by the words, shuffling in his seat uncomfortably and looking away from her intimidating gaze. When he was being shouted at by Lucy, he acted more like a guilty child than usual. With her words to him finished, she turned to her daughter.

"Ember... Sweetie... You don't need more training just because one boy beat you. You're powerful enough as it is, and we couldn't be prouder of that fact. Even you know that it would be risky if you train harder than you've been going. I don't want to see you hurt more than you should be."

"But I need to be the strongest Mama! I'm not going to rest until I'm able to beat him in a fight. And that means that I need more training!" she pleaded. "Please Mama! Let me have this chance!"

"No!" Lucy snapped, her eyes burning with fierce determination. "I will not let you get yourself into reckless danger all for your greed for more power. I forbid you to receive extra training. And because of this foolishness, I also forbid you from fighting anyone this week! Is this all clear to you?"

Ember groaned in frustration, knowing that if she attempts to argue further, she'd dig herself deeper into her own grave. Shooting one last scathing glare at her parents, she marched out of the room with what was left of her rebelliousness.

Lucy sighed, shuffling so that she sat next to Natsu. He spared a sympathetic glance and wry smile. It did nothing, with her only shaking her head sadly.

"I don't want her to get hurt anymore..."

A comforting arm wrapped around her shoulder as Natsu took the liberty of making her feel better by planting a kiss on her forehead. "I know. She's gone through too much for a child her age. I guess it's our fault that we're so wanted by all of Fiore. My powers amaze them all."

Although it was no joking matter, with the way he had spoken it, it was obvious that she was going to hit him in some sort of way.


"Mama, Papa; I just realized this, but you guys came home early from the mission yesterday. Did something go wrong?"

Ember walked side by side with her parents, on their way to the Guild. There was still an awkward tension between the mother and daughter, but they chose to ignore it for the time being, knowing that the matter would be settled soon.

Natsu grimaced. "There were more bandits than it said originally on the request sheet. It also forgot to mention that they were mages. After beating about three-quarters of 'em, the rest ran off," he explained, cracking his knuckles at the memory. "Bunch of cowards. I tried to track them down, but they hid their scents. It seems like they knew how to fool a Dragon Slayer."

"Aww... No need to fret over it! When they come back, you'll just give them a taste of what Fairy Tail's true powers are!" she cried out, punching her fist into the air for added effect. Some curious gazes went their way, but at seeing the prominent pink-haired mages, they knew that it was simply the Dragneel family causing another racket.

The Guild was in its usual bustling form when the family entered. Natsu went straight for Gray, who was already in the process of stripping away his shirt. Lucy and Ember, considering it a normal occurrence, walked to the counter to get their catered drink and food from Mira.

As she sat down, she took a look around the hall, and was quite surprised when she saw Ryou freely conversing with Gale and Winter, the trio looking to be having a blast. Jealousy shot through her, and she fought hard to not make a scene like her father would, instead choosing to brood about it while relishing in the comfort of her flame food.

Mira noticed something was up almost immediately. "Jewel for your thoughts sweetie?"

Ember shook her head, swallowing the last piece of her food. "No need Auntie Mira. Everything's fine!" The woman gave her a pointed look, and after a second, Ember sighed dejectedly and glanced at the trio again. Her mother was too absorbed in a conversation with Cana, so she knew that she'd have no problems admitting it to the wise mother of the Guild.

"He's sitting there with Gale and Winter, and they all look so happy together! It's unfair! What about me? He's practically taking over my life here!" she whined, slumping across the counter. "We don't even know that much about him, other than his first name and his powers. We don't know his age, where he came from, if he has any family members... That guy's a total enigma!"

Mirajane looked amused. "Ember, honey, you're ranting."

The girl immediately shut her mouth, a pink flush covering her cheeks out of embarrassment. Mira chuckled lightly, finding the girl's personality endearing. She took a glance at the three that she had been complaining about, and wasn't that shocked to see that Ryou was watching the girl intently, a small, goofy smile across his face. Even though they were a little ways off, she could tell that Gale was teasing him about it, and that Winter was acting like her mother, starting to believe that Ember was her love rival.

Ember snapped up, her eyes and grin wide as a brilliant idea formed in her mind. "I know! I'll go challenge him and then if I win, I get to ask him about his past!"

"What happens if you lose?" Mira asked, but drifted off when she noticed how absorbed Ember was in this 'foolproof' plan of hers.

"Ha! He'll definitely lose this time! And that way, his 'mystery' persona will be smashed!" She jumped off the seat and pointed her finger at him. "Ryou! I challenge you to a fight! And if I win, you'll have to tell me about your past before you came here!"

Before he was given the chance to make a snarky comeback, Lucy had already stood up, looking at Ember with an expression of utter disappointment. The hall grew silent, knowing that a bitter confrontation would commence at any moment.

"I cannot believe you! I just cannot believe you! I've never – I've never thought that you could be as stubborn as your father! Did I not explicitly state that you were not allowed to get into fights? How long did it take you to break what I had told you? Less than twenty-four hours? Never have I been more ashamed of you. I thought that you would've have exuded more patience than this!" Lucy screeched, her fist clenching tighter with each word spoken.

"Why the heck are you treating me like a porcelain doll?" Ember snapped back impertinently, ignoring all thoughts except for the rage that fuelled her on. "Forbidding me from fighting and getting more training? You very well know that I can handle that extra training! I don't understand why you think I'll get hurt so easily! I am not a little frail girl that you were!"

"Ember!" she heard her dad shout. She turned her head sharply to see him shaking his head, warning her to be cautious. She glared spitefully, hissing under her breath.

"Everyone in this entire Guild is treating me like a baby! I am not someone that needs so much protecting! Why can't you all just understand this?"

With that, she sprinted out of the Guild, wanting to be as far away from anyone as possible. She thought that she saw Ryou stand up as she passed, but it was probably just a delusion through her blatant anger. Outside, the beginnings of rain sprinkled from the skies, and she almost found it ironic that the weather was attempting to match her emotion.

She ran and ran, pushing herself through the pouring, ice-cold rain. No one paid heed to her, much too concerned for their own wellbeing. When she finally stopped from exhaustion and fear of pneumonia, she found herself at the outskirts of the town. Behind her was a road that she never knew existed in the town, and in front of her was another road which she guessed would lead to another town. She would've loved to go, but the road led through a forest, and she would rather not stray.

Her gut swirled with an odd feeling – a sense of foreboding.

Before another thought could pass through her mind, something wrapped around her leg, tripping her. As she tried to see who the culprit of the act was, a blunt object was smashed against the back of her head and her consciousness flickered before fading into black.


She woke up to find herself in a place of horrible condition.

Many parts of the shoddy roof were leaking, the rain continuing to steadily pour outside. It stunk of mould and rot. Something also smelt like blood, and she had a horrible feeling that it was from the blow she took earlier. Being a Dragon Slayer's offspring, her senses were sharper than that off a normal human, which wasn't considered a plus with the stench lingering in the moist air.

The coarse gravel of the shack's floor scratched her face. Her head felt dull pain. She found herself lying on the ground, hands, legs and mouth bound by what seemed like a flimsy piece of fabric. To not cause any suspicion, she blew a small breath of flame, just enough for the fabric to be singed so that a hole would be made.

No such thing had happened.

Her eyes narrowed, and she attempted to try her tactic one more time. Again, there was nothing. Coming to the conclusion that the fabrics that held her had some type of magical property, she cursed mentally, unsure of what to do.

"Looks like our little babydoll here's woken up," a snide voice commented from above her. She growled, struggling against her bonds.

"Don't be acting rebellious now sweetheart. We don't want to harm you," she gave a disbelieving look, "too much. You're a prized jewel after all! Daughter to the infamous Salamander and Celestial Maiden that nearly caught us yesterday. I wonder if they're looking for you right now."

Glaring, she turned her head to see her captor's face. Unfortunately for her, a jet-black mask covered his identity. She wanted to spray a string of curses, but kept her mouth shut, guessing that her words would only come out muffled.

"Even though that fabric has rendered your powers utterly useless, you do still have the ability to talk," he said, reading her exact thoughts. "Interesting thing magic is; it can completely block your power yet not block the words that will come out of your mouth soon enough."

"You were the bandits that escaped my Papa and Mama on their mission," she said, more to herself as a fact. "Why in Earthland did you take me? Revenge?"

He circled her like a shark, shrugging his shoulders and eluding response. "Well my dear, there is some revenge added into this. However, there is one main reason why we've captured you." She raised a brow skeptically. He leaned down, his hands tucked behind his back and his presence exuding a sick confidence. "Ember Dragneel, you're one of the most wanted mages in Fiore's entire underbelly. Everyone knows your father and mother, and what had happened seven years ago. They know of your power. It's quite a catch to have you. My luck would have it that I found you at Magnolia's outskirts looking deliriously angered at something. Did you have a fight with your precious Mama? Oh no. Did someone's boyfriend fight with them? Don't worry dearie; you won't have to worry about that Guild for a long while now."

Ember stayed silent, her bangs falling across her eyes darkly. She closed her eyes to stop the memories of the incident seven years ago playing through her mind. It didn't help that the man seemed so similar to that man from before. Even the taunts and pet names were similar – almost identical. His words made her feel something that she always attempted to hide, even when it had consumed her once in a blue moon; fear.

She was afraid. Very afraid.

In her mind rung the sweet voice of Auntie Levy as the woman told her a story similar to what situation she had placed herself in then. It was during a time before she was even born; when her mother was still part of the original Team Natsu. Her mother had been captured by Uncle Gajeel during the time that Phantom Lord still existed in the world, and even through her fear, the woman simply taunted and threatened the Iron Dragon Slayer, knowing that someone would come rescue her.

At that moment in time, Ember needed to swallow her fears and have the same faith.

"You know, for someone who has captured what was supposedly the most valuable piece that you can bring to the country's black market, you've done something very horrible, which in turn will only bring nothing but misery to you," she stated blandly, catching his full attention. Inwardly, she smirked.

"And what may that be fairy scum?"

She scoffed, closing her eyes and hoping that someone – anyone – had the same mindset as her. "Doing this for revenge is understandable," she continued, as if she were speaking to a dim-witted fool back at home – which wasn't so farfetched when she thought of the captor. "However, your first and greatest mistake was step number one; capturing me. In doing that, you'll have the world's number one Guild coming after you, and if anything dangerous ever happens to me; well, don't expect any compensation from the greatest Dragon Slayer and Celestial Mage of our time. I highly doubt that they'll be forgiving."

A feral growl reached her ears, and she glanced up just in time to see the man looking down on her with his arm raised up, an orb of some type of Caster Magic in his right hand. Through the slits left for his eyes in the mask, she saw a glint of manic sadism.

Curling up into as far as she could go in a fetal position, she dispelled all thoughts of anyone coming to save her.

Her ears picked up the walls creaking dangerously.

It happened like slow motion. As her captor launched his attack, a jet of water came streaming through, halting it from doing any damage. Ember, with renewed hope, glanced up at a place in front of her, almost crying out in delight as she took in the sight.

The wall that had stood earlier crumbled, a large hole formed with the figure of a boy standing. His lips were parted, and he panted heavily. He was drenched to the bone, his clothes from earlier sticking to him like a second skin. His ebony hair was plastered onto his skin, long bangs covering those vivid blue eyes of his.

Even if they were shrouded, she had a feeling that he was glaring at the man with murderous intent.

With his hands, clenched into fists, held in front of him, he let no chance slip for the man to attack. He jumped up with those annoyingly fast reflexes of his, flipping over Ember's body to land on her other side and in front of the man. The boy dealt a roundhouse kick to the gut, followed by a strong jet of water which sent her captor flying back into the opposite wall, effectively letting it crush under his weight.

While the man was rendered useless for a short while, the boy took the opportunity to crouch down beside her, speedily freeing her from her bonds.

"Are you alright?" he whispered, and she didn't miss the hint of concern that was in his voice.

With her hands free, she rubbed her wrists and hands together, trying to shove away her old memories to face another time. "Yeah. I'm fine now," she said, keeping her eyes away from him. She wouldn't admit it, but she felt much happier that it was him coming for her instead of anyone else at the Guild, except for her Mama or Papa. "How'd you find me Ryou?"

Before the words could come out of his mouth, they both heard a groan. Ryou glanced behind, his eyes narrowing at the sight of the stirring man. "I'll tell you what you want later. Right now, we should probably get this guy unconscious before anyone, like your Dad, can come here and beat him to a bloody pulp."

She nodded, agreeing fully with his final statement. He held his hand out to help her up, and she graciously took it, a contrast to what would have happened hadn't they been in their present situation. Hopping up, she didn't let go of his hand as their foe heaved himself up with a heavy groan. Seeing the two kids ready to fight, he snarled, launching himself at them.

There was a moment of synchrony between the two young mages.

Narrowing their eyes, they both cried out. "Unison Raid!"

Without letting each other go, they held their free hands out. Both released a powerful jet of magic. Time itself seemed to slow down. As the man moved himself through the air, something... magical occurred.

As if the two forces – fire and water – were drawn together with magnets, they intertwined. With Ember's fire coiling around Ryou's water, the two contrasting powers worked harmoniously – perfectly.

It was inevitable that their attack made an impact with an ear-shattering 'boom'.

The man was pushed to the ground from the sheer power, his jaw unhinged and his eyes wide in shock. Ember let her shoulders drop, relief overwhelming her as she fell to the ground on her knees. She had used much more power than she had originally guessed, but it was worth it.

That was the most kick-ass thing she'd ever done in her life.

"Ember! Ember! Honey! Are you okay?" someone squawked. The girl looked up with a small smile to see her mother running through the slowly fading rain, worry written across her face. Behind the woman was her father, grinning proudly. Venturing a guess, she could say that he had seen what power they had just unleashed.

"I'm so sorry," Lucy cried out, pulling the girl into her arms once they reached her side. "I'm so, so, so sorry. I didn't know you'd run away. I didn't know that those evil bastards who ran from our last mission would come after you. I'm so sorry Ember. Please don't ever do that to me again. You hear?"

Ember nodded and relished the feeling in her mother's arms.

Once their moment was finished and Lucy was finished apologizing and nagging, it was Natsu's turn to talk with her. Before any words could come out of her mouth, he had already pulled her into a bone-crushing hug.

"That last move you gave him was awesome. As much as I hate that guy, I have to admit that you two can make a good team," he whispered in her ear, only loud enough for her to hear. "I'm proud of you, y'know. And I'll be more than glad to give you extra training under your Mom's nose. Sound good?"

Her lips cracked into a grin as her dad let her go. Due to her shameful balance, she almost fell over her own two feet, but someone wrapped an arm around her waist before any such thing could happen.

"Thanks again," she said breathlessly. The boy who caught her winked, helping her back up on her feet.

"Keyes," he murmured quietly. The word caught her ears. "Ryou Keyes. That's all I'll tell you for now. If you're lucky, I'll tell you more in the future."

He left her standing before she could question him any further. Although, a small smile did grace her face, a content feeling bubbling in her.

She unlocked the first door in finding out the boy's secrets.


"Hey! Water boy! I challenge you to a fight! And if I win, you have to tell me one more secret about yourself!" Ember cried out, pointing a finger at him. Said boy glanced up from his conversation with Gale, eyebrow rising at the request.

It had been merely two days since Ember's capture and rescue. She discovered that Ryou found out she was missing after finding a suspicious looking man at the outskirts of town, holding a flame-orange ribbon in his hand. Once he had finished pummeling the man for answers, her parents had come and they worked together to find the rotting shed in the woods.

However, after hearing her tale about the psychopathic mercenary that wanted to sell her on the black market, her parents unanimously decided that she could continue her training, the work even harder than what she did before. It was exactly what she wanted.

But, she was still grounded by her mother and wasn't allowed to eat spicy food for another week or so.

To relieve her gnawing hunger, she decided the fighting was the only cure.

"And why do you want to fight with me fire girl? You only know that you're going to be beaten," he retorted, standing up and stretching his arms out even with his words.

"Well, because you're my rival, are you not?" she stated, quirking her head to the side. "I thought you figured that out already. I had a hard time accepting it too, but then I realized that making you my rival would make fights more fun! Not to mention, I wanna know more about you too..."

Her voice drifted off at the end of her speech, and a slight blush coated her cheeks at the confession. What she did say was true; she did want to know more about him. But to make it even more exciting when finding the piece of information, she would fight him for it.

Unbeknownst to her, the small speech she gave had made the usually calm and composed boy grow flustered. He muttered to himself, and everyone who was watching their little scene, which was most of the Guild members in the hall, smiled knowingly.

This included the infamous matchmaker of Fairy Tail.

Approaching the girl's mother, Mira whispered slyly. "Hey Lucy, what do you think of Ryou and Ember?"

The woman dropped her book, wearing a smile that matched her fellow Guild mates. "I already gave my permission to him. Sadly, it seems that Ember's just as dense as her father. I guess that she'll eventually figure out the truth."

Lucy turned her head to the two youths, who were both getting ready to fight each other. Even if the prize was somewhat serious, the silly smiles on their faces made it obvious that they were both in it for the fun.

"Besides," Lucy added, her smile growing fond. "This is really just the beginning for their long winded relationship."