Disclaimer: I do not own Fairy Tail
"I am so proud of all of you," said Makarov as he walked to where the mages of his guild sat, the smoking body of Jose hidden underneath a pile of rubble nearby. "You have protected your home and the honour of the guild and I can have no greater gratitude than the happiness I am feeling now."
"Alright already," said Laxus as he waved off his grandfather, trying to get the elderly man to stop his droning. "We did good, but not good enough."
"Jose was an opponent that many would fall against, be proud that everything turned out alright in the end," said Makarov, deciding to end his rant before it began.
"Not everything," said a solemn Gray as he looked out through a broken part of the machine to where they could see the destroyed building they had called their home.
"Bricks and mortar, nothing more," said Makarov as he stretched out his back. "Bit of hard labour and we'll have the place up and running again in no time."
"Maybe even something better, some improvements perhaps," said Mirajane imagining what they could add to the complex.
"I'm sure we can think of something," said Ul with a smile.
"Come on, let's go celebrate our victory," shouted Makarov as he started to head towards the exit, three of the other four members of Fairy Tail quickly following suit.
"Master," announced Gray, the only member of the troupe who had yet to make a move. Pausing in his step, Makarov turned to face the youngest person who had helped in the battle against the Element Four. "There's something I want to know."
"Can't it wait til later," complained Laxus, wanting to get out of this place as quickly as possible.
"Now now Laxus," scolded Makarov lightly, almost in a joking manner. "There was a time when you were full of questions to. What do you want to know Gray?"
"Where is Natsu?" Those three words made the other members of the guild freeze, Mirajane looking particularly distraught by the question. Makarov, Ul and Laxus shared nervous glances unsure about how to proceed with the question they were given." I remember when the team came back from tackling the Beast and Natsu didn't come back something was wrong. Mirajane, you told us that since he couldn't defeat the beast he decided to go travelling and get stronger along the way. At first I believed that but now I'm not so sure, even if he did go running off somewhere he could be dead by now."
"He's dead," said Mirajane with a saddened look in her eyes, the memory seemingly tearing her apart. "He died in my arms on that mission."
"What?" questioned Gray as he stared in disbelief.
"Only S class wizards and Elfman know the truth," said Makarov. "We kept the truth hidden from the rest of the guild."
"But, how, why?" asked Gray at a complete loss of words.
"As harsh as it may sound, we did it for the benefit of the guild," said Ul. "They were hurt when they heard that Natsu wasn't returning for a while, just imagine what it would have been like if they were told he was never coming back."
Seemingly defeated, Gray dropped to his knees, his arms hanging loosely by his side. "Natsu," he whispered under his breath as tears threatened to fill within his eyes.
Laxus looked at the shirtless boy in front of him before turning around, vanishing through the hole in the wall faster than anyone could see. The blonde had no intentions of reliving his own experiences of that moment, hearing of the pink haired teens death had changed him. Without daily challenges from the dragon slayer it left his days with seemingly little to do. He never felt like going on missions but from his seat on the top floor of the guild hall he watched with analysing eyes as the rest of the guild believed that Natsu was out there somewhere training. He could see their belief that he would return stronger push them forward in their skills as well.
Reaching his destination, Laxus appeared in front of the guild members who had stood and fought to protect their home. They all looked up at him and despite the injuries they carried they were ecstatic with their victory and looked towards Laxus with questioning eyes, wondering just how the battle against Jose had progressed. With a sigh he figured that someone had to tell them how it went and began to recount the battle's unfolding.
Back in the ruined headquarters of Phantom Lord, Ul knelt beside the teary form of Gray, holding him in her arms trying to comfort him as best she could. She knew though that whatever she did it wouldn't really do much to help. She recalled watching Gray and Natsu battle it out almost on a daily basis in their youths and despite their fierce rivalry they always ended up smiling after each and every battle regardless of the winner. That competitive nature only seemed to grow as they grew older, both of them trying to up one another by taking on more difficult missions. While he rarely used his ice magic in these scuffles he often spent his evenings training either with Ul or by himself. Natsu meanwhile had nobody to truly help him advance in more advanced magic techniques and because of that Gray soon gained the upper hand. Looking back on it now, Ul couldn't help but wonder that if she hadn't given the extra training to Gray whether or not Natsu wouldn't have joined the Strauss siblings in their mission to stop the Beast.
Makarov stood silently, also recalling the day when he had learnt of the terrible truth that had befallen Natsu and the rules and regulations he put in place because of it. There was always something though with the story that always made it feel off yet he had no doubt that Mirajane had meant every word. He had spent weeks afterwards examining every text he could find in the guild library concerning the passing of a dragon slayer but he could not find a single inscription regarding how it would occur. Without any luck he finally concluded that vanishing in a golden light was linked directly to the dragon slaying magic contained within Natsu and others who had dragons as teachers. It had been the only logical explanation he could come up with but he couldn't help but wonder if he had missed one crucial detail through his literary search.
"We should go," said Mirajane snapping the other three out of their reminiscing. Looking up at her though they could see that she was faring far worse than they were, tears streaming down her cheeks.
"Yes, we should," said Makarov. "Enough dwelling on the past, we have the future to look forward to after all."
"Okay," said Gray as he used the back of his palm to wipe his eyes free of the tears. He tried to push himself up to his feet but stumbled and if Ul hadn't been supporting him at the time he would have undoubtedly collapsed onto the floor.
"Easy does it," she said calmly as she composed herself.
"Gray, I must ask that you don't tell anybody about what you have heard today," stated Makarov. "There are still those who believe that Natsu will one day return and I would rather not crush those hopes and dreams."
Gray immediately understood who it was that Makarov was referring to and nodded in acknowledgement. "Yes Master," he said with a slight nod of the head.
"I don't feel like I need to inform you all that not a word of this leaves this room," stated Makarov, his voice resonating with authority on this topic. Without another word he turned to leave, his small frame leading the way for the other three members of the guild. Despite what he had said however, he knew one day he would have to tell the others members of the guild of Natsu's fate, he just didn't know if there would ever be an appropriate time or place to do so.
Looking back on the topic he knew that his decision had been selfish but he couldn't bare to be the barer of bad news. Having informed the guild that Natsu had gone travelling was painful enough, he could only imagine what news of his death would cause to the guild. He knew that the longer he delayed it the worse it would be but perhaps he would be lucky enough to never have to share this secret with those he cared about.
Barely a handful of days had been and gone after the destruction of the guild hall and just at the start of rebuilding the council had sent in some of it's elite to interview those who had been involved with the incident. One by one the guild members were interviewed in-depth about what had happened to them and the cause of the battle between the two guilds.
Erza sat nervously as she waited for her turn to come. It wasn't so much that she was nervous about the interview itself but rather the person who was conducting the interviews. From having talked to some of the soldiers who had come along with their superiors she had discovered that a member of both the Ten Wizard Saints and the Council was conducting half of the interviews. Only one person came to mind when those two features aligned and she was frightened of seeing this person again. They hadn't made contact with one another for the better part of a half year but she couldn't stop her heart from fluttering ever so slightly at the thought of getting a chance to talk with him, even if it was for business purposes.
"Erza Scarlet," shouted a member of the council's personalised unit.
Hearing her name being called, Erza pushed herself from her seat and suddenly felt that small fluttering in her chest spread to her entire body. Even though she looked composed on the outside, internally her mind was jumping about like an adolescent school child. She didn't even know if it would be him conducting the interview but the possibility still caused her to get excited. Walking into the tent she pushed the flap to the side as she looked at the person who would be conducting the interview with her. As he looked up from his forms their eyes met and Erza's heart froze.
"Hey, Jellal," she said in a soft tone that none in the guild had ever heard from her lips.
"Nice to see you Erza," said Jellal with a smile as he pushed a blue bang of hair out of his eyes.
"So I take it somebody high up told you to come do something as mundane as this," said Erza as she took a seat across from Jellal.
"How you call a battle between guilds 'mundane' is beyond me," said Jellal with a chuckle. "I actually got dragged along by the other person conducting the interviews. When they heard that the council needed someone to come do this job they were quite determined that nobody else was getting the job. Does that give you any clues as to who it might be?"
"I can take a guess," said Erza with a smile.
Ul walked forward towards the tent with a relaxed disposition, knowing that the whole thing was more for appearances than for actually finding out any crucial information. Shrugging her shoulders she guessed that if the council hadn't sent anyone then it would put them in a bad light and of course they wouldn't want something like that to happen. Entering the small enclosure she was nearly knocked off her feet as the woman who would be conducting the interview wrapped her arms around Ul in a ferocious hug.
"Easy does it," said Ul as she gently stroked the hair of the person holding her. "I'm still a little sore from the fighting."
"Oh, sorry mum," said Ultear as she released her hold on her mother.
"Should you even be doing this sort of stuff while on duty?" asked Ul in a semi scolding tone.
"Probably not but nobody will find out," said Ultear waving it off. "I'm just happy to see you in person, we need to catch up more often."
"Yea well as you can imagine with me being a member of the Ten Wizard Saints and you being a member of the council family time really doesn't come into the equation too much."
"Well next week we're naming the successor to Jose's position as a member of the Ten Wizard Saints, you could come to the induction ceremony and watch," suggested Ultear.
"Is it anybody interesting?" asked Ul.
"A member of Lamia Scale, 'Rock Wall' Jura," stated Ultear. "Take the week off, come watch that and spend a week in town with me, I've got a spare room you can stay in and everything."
"You mean the spare room that your ex used to sleep in?" questioned Ul despite already knowing the answer.
"It's not like we were married or anything," said Ultear. "It was just the one guy anyways."
"We need to do this more often," said Ul with a light laugh.
"Talk about my ex?" questioned Ultear.
"Talk in general, I reckon I'll take you up on your offer," said Ul, bracing herself as her daughter caught her in another hug which she returned in favor. It would be several more minutes before any council work got done whatsoever.
"...and that's that," concluded Jellal as he finished the required interview.
"So do you know why the attack happened in the first place?" asked Erza.
"Actually we do," said Jellal which surprised Erza somewhat. "A former member of Phantom Lord told us that it was a mission to take one Lucy Heartphilia back to her father, Phantom however just took this as a sign to start a fight."
"Lucy," said Erza knowing that she likely had to tell her Requip student about this soon. "Could I get the name of the member of Phantom who told you this?"
"They wished to remain anonymous," said Jellal which deflated Erza slightly. "However, they also said that if you were to ask for their name to tell you, 'thanks for letting me know what you knew.'"
Erza quickly knew exactly who it was that had tipped off the council. Quickly recalling the conversation they had shared, she knew that she hadn't told them anything truthfully when she had told them that she didn't know what happened upon the day in question. Perhaps there would come a day in the future where she could rectify that lie.
"Anything else you want to know?" asked Jellal.
"Not really, oh wait, have you heard from Simon and the gang?" asked Erza, wondering what her friends were doing.
"Last I heard Simon has been looking for a guild to join, he wanted to join the same guild as his sister but she went and joined Mermaid Heel," recounted Jellal. "To add a little insult to injury I think Milliana went and joined as well but she and Simon's sister have been pretty close friends. Sho's off travelling, heading North in the back of a haywagon most likely. I haven't heard from Wally in the better part of a year, not sure where he is these days."
"I'm sure he's doing fine," said Erza confidently.
"Anyways, as much as I'd love to continue chatting about old times, I do have another ten people to interview before the end of the day," apologized Jellal.
"It's okay, you're just doing your job," said Erza as she stood up from the desk.
"I'll be sure to catch up with you next time I'm in town," said Jellal as he too got to his feet.
"When do you reckon that'll be?" asked Erza.
"Next time your guild gets into trouble again," said Jellal with a cheeky smirk.
"I'll see you in a week then," said Erza playfully.
"For the sake of the guild's reputation I hope not, to see you however I hope so," flirted Jellal causing a small tinge of red to spread over Erza's cheeks.
"Until then," said Erza as she quickly rushed out of the tent scared of what she could potentially do if she was to stay in Jellal's presence a minute longer. Watching from behind Jellal couldn't help but smile at the retreating form of Erza and hoped she wouldn't get teased if anybody noticed red on her cheeks.
Days turned into weeks as construction progressed on designing the new guild hall. Lucy was helping out as much as she could, often summoning Taurus to help out with the heavy lifting. She felt good with herself how the last couple of weeks had progressed, she had fought with her father and told him that she was going to live her life her way and she had helped Loke re-enter the spirit world after discovering that he was the celestial spirit Leo. Speaking of which...
"Lucy, how are you," said Loke as he walked towards his new master. Turning to face him, Lucy found that Loke was being accompanied by a woman wearing a maid outfit and a man...in a horse costume?
"Loke, nice to see you, who are your friends?" asked Lucy.
"Ah this is Sagittarius," said Loke indicating the archer who had many members of Fairy Tail looking at him in confusion.
"Nice to meet you moshi moshi," said Sagittarius as he saluted off to the side.
"And you've already met Virgo," said Loke indicating the pink haired maid.
"We have?" questioned Lucy as she searched her memory banks of when she had ever interacted with Virgo. Recalling back to her first mission as an official wizard she jumped back in shock. "You worked with Duke Everlue!"
"Not anymore princess" said Virgo. "When my master was defeated it broke the contract I had with him."
"I see," said Lucy but internally she was ecstatic about being called princess by the celestial spirit.
"As for Sagittarius, he's been without a wielder for a long time," explained Loke.
"After hearing of how you helped my companion back to the spirit world after so long, I decided then and there that you would be my new master moshi moshi," declared Sagittarius.
"Since you helped defeat my previous master that entitles you to my key by right of the prior contract," explained Virgo.
"Wow, this is so much to take in," said Lucy.
"Please punish me if you so desire," offered Virgo.
"Strike!" shouted Erza to which Lucy responded slashing down at the scarlet haired woman in front of her with the kendo stick that she held. With a warcry she put everything she had behind the attack for it to go straight through the illusionary form of Erza, the image fading away after being sliced in half.
"Change!" shouted Erza as she summoned another illusionary copy of herself to Lucy's right as the mage requiped the weapon in her hand to a different kendo stick which was painted a different colour so that Erza could visually see that Lucy was switching between weapons at a rapid pace. "Strike!"
Twisting on the spot, Lucy slashed through the chest of th illusionary Erza before dropping to her hands and knees exhausted as sweat poured off of her brow. "I'm done," she said through panting breaths.
"You've done well," said Erza with a smile as she helped Lucy back to her feet.
"Of course only you would be considering getting Lucy to train just before we head off," said Mirajane as both she and Lisanna walked up to the impromptu training ground.
"When does the train leave?" asked Lucy.
"We've got to be at the station in an hour," said Lisanna.
"An hour!" exclaimed Lucy as she pushed herself off of Erza and charged towards Fairy Hall with renewed vigour. Before Loke had returned to the spirit world he had given Lucy four two nights accommodation tickets at a brand new beachfront hotel he had earned on his last job. When she had gotten them she had wanted to give one to Ul but the S class wizard hadn't returned from her trip to go visit her daughter despite a fortnight having passed. As such she had invited Lisanna, Mirajane and Erza, deciding to make it a girls only trip. Plus this would give her some one on one time with Mirajane with the high possibility that a photographer would snap a shot at the model with Lucy in the picture. Now however because of Erza's extended training session there was a chance she was going to miss the last train to their destination. Thankfully she had had everything packed by the day before so all she really needed to do was have a quick shower and get changed, she could worry about a more formal cleaning session once they were at the hotel.
Bursting through the door to Fairy Hall, she found herself pausing in mid-step as she found herself looking at the back of a brown haired woman wearing a green dress whom she had never seen before. Last time she had encountered a random stranger in such a way she had almost gotten kidnapped and wasn't taking any unnecessary risks. Putting a hand on her keys, she prayed that she still had enough magical energy to summon one of her spirits in the worst case scenario. "Who are you?" she questioned causing the brown haired woman to turn around.
"Me, I'm the queen of all fairies!" declared the woman boldly as if expecting some kind of worship.
"Not the strangest title I've heard," said Lucy as she figured from the loud expression that this woman wasn't afraid of being found by somebody else in the building. "Nice to meet you, I'm Lucy."
"You may refer to me as queen," said the mystery woman.
"Alright then your highness, if you'll excuse me I have to be on my way otherwise I'm going to be late," said Lucy as she rushed off.
Evergreen stood in the middle of the room happy that somebody finally accepted her for who she truly was, slightly oblivious to the amount of sarcasm Lucy had been using in her statements as she proceeded towards her dormitory.
Hope you enjoyed and sorry about the delay. I'm actually off in a different country at the moment travelling so I'm unsure when I'll next get the chance to update but hopefully it'll be much sooner than this time.
silent crescendo: The Lucy being all powerful trick really doesn't interest me unless there is good reason for it, despite everything happening concerning Ul and thus Fairy Tail's past, it never altered Lucy's hence she would be the same before the story as in canon.
Ryuus2: I'm pretty sure she summoned Nicola to keep more of a pet than anything but I could be wrong.
Until next time, Ja Ne.