A/N: Same at "Five Reasons", this has been dumped in my hard drive and THEN Tumblr so if you say you've read this elsewhere, you're probably right.

This piece is part happy, part sad - basically how I pictured Loke and Lucy's relationship through Lucy's life would be if they weren't involved romantically. Fact: I ship both NatsuxLucy and LokexLucy (and I DON'T HATE Lisanna, in fact I love that girl to pieces, sweet Strauss baby girl that she is) and I planned on writing some romantic!LokexLucy firstly, but this happened because friendship is such a beautiful thing.

PS: This was written midway the Grand Magic Games arc so I didn't even know yet that some huge shit is about to fall down and many fairies are allegedly to die (MASHIMA STOP DON'T BREAK OUR HEARTS TOO MUCH).


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FOUR SPEECHES

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He spoke on her 18th birthday, a celebration in the guild, where they sat the debutante in the stage and gave her gifts accompanied by their birthday wishes.

He started with, "I know, you don't remember calling me." - and that earned a laugh from everybody, and she said that she'll let it pass this time. Her fond expression told him that she'll always let it pass anyway, though, and that made him smile his gracious smile.

He continued. "Happy Birthday, Lucy - my love, darling and princess and queen of my stars. Please accept my gift, I hope you like it." - he handed her a paperbag and she gladly took it, but like all the other gifts, she saved it for opening in her apartment later. "I just want you to know that you're the best master a celestial spirit can have. I'm not going to tell you that you'll keep being the kind, lovely, very beautiful and sexy-" - he received a kick in the shin for that - "-ow, um, stellar spirit mage we know and love. In behalf of the others, we wish you continue to grow strong in everything."

Lucy stood up and hugged him to the cheers of their guildmates, and as he held her tightly, he whispered, "And really, Lucy, I wish you'd finally call me out on a date."

"You idiot."

"...Or call me first thing when you need me, please? I hate being useless when you're hurt."

Lucy squeezed him one last time. "I don't even need to call - you come on your own."

"Damn right I do."

"I'll trust you on that."

x - x - x - x

After the battle with Flare, Natsu sat with Lucy as she composed herself on her quarters. It took her a few minutes to assure him that she'll be alright and tell him that she's taking a shower. Natsu didn't leave the room until he heard the showers running.

After her bath, she dressed back up in her outfit, sat down on her bed and hugged her knees to her chest as she stared blankly ahead.

She felt so inadequate.

A golden light and a familiar surge of magic alerted her of a presence beside her.

"I should have called you, hm?" Lucy asked weakly, not bothering to look at her companion - she knew him perfectly.

"No." Loke said, inching closer to her and wrapping an arm around her shoulders, pulling her to lean against him. "At the rate the battle was going, whoever it was could have cancelled me out, too." - there was a hint of bitterness in his voice. He was right - if he disappeared on her because of whoever cheated the battle, the shame on her part will be too much to bear. "We'll win next time, Lucy."

"We better." but she didn't sound any better. He sighed and his hand on her shoulder squeezed tighter. Lucy gave in to his comfort, shifting her position to bury her face in his chest and wrap her arms loosely around his torso. Loke was a pervert and a womanizer, but Lucy trusts him with all her being. "Loke, I could have won. I could have finished the battle with just that, and... it was stolen from me so easily."

"Us. Stolen from us, princess. Gem and Mini are both disappointed - they were robbed of that victory, as well. They knew you could have done it. They asked me to tell you that they were sorry."

"Tell them it wasn't their fault."

"I did. It's nobody's fault. The enemy cheated."

She choked a sob.

"You're the winner for all of us, Lucy."

This time, she sniffled and tears fell from her eyes again. She promised Natsu that she wouldn't cry more, but she couldn't help it. Loke lifted his arm from her shoulders, and draped a jacket on her shoulders.

Lucy looked up to find an orange hoodie. She recognized it immediately - it had been her favorite. It was baggy and sporty without making her look boyish. It was somewhat girly without the frills and plunging necklines and shiny decor. It was spunky and it fit her perfectly, that's why Lucy loved it so much.

"This is-"

"Yep, your 18th birthday gift from me."

"I thought I lost it in the seven years."

"Virgo managed to save it somehow."

Lucy looked at the back of the jacket. In big block letters, the words 'LION TAMER' were printed.

"Lion tamer." Lucy chuckled, finally smiling for the first time since they started the conversation. "You goddamn hopeless perv."

Loke smirked. "Meow."

The label on the back offended her at first - she even called Loke out to tell him how stupid and NOT FUNNY it was, but then she got used to it - their little inside joke. It always made her laugh, and remember that one time she had to deal with Natsu, Happy, Gray, Loke and Erza in her flat... with catnip involved.

She laughed then, "You're hopeless." For a while she forgot all the pain and sadness from losing.

Loke breathed a sigh of relief. "See? There you go, princess. Keep smiling."


He spoke in her wedding day. In front of all their friends and nakama. He went right after Happy, Erza, Wendy and Gray. He stood on the stage and spoke.

"Natsu, buddy, I can't tell you enough that I will have your head if you dare hurt that wonderful woman beside you." - was what he started with. Natsu grinned and gave him a thumbs-up sign. Over the years, they've all gotten used to Loke doting over his mistress. Finally, the celestial spirit lifted up his glass to his mistress. "Lucy, darling, tonight you're the most beautiful woman in the universe and it's just a shame that as you wear that dress, it's not for OUR wedding."

Lucy laughed, and Natsu shouted, "Oi!".

Loke then turned to his audience, the rest of their guild. "I was there when they first sorted out their feelings. Let me tell you, sorting out their feelings involved pissing off the Celestial Spirit King, temporarily locking me out the Celestial Plane, tea gone cold, and lots of shouting - of which I heard everything. Maybe all of Fiore did."

Everyone laughed, and on the newlyweds' table, Natsu guffawed while Lucy shook her head shamefully - she remembered it well, too... and it had been crazy.

"As I listened in to them, I only thought, 'God, would these two ever do anything NORMALLY?'"

x - x - x - x - x - x

When Natsu confessed, it was not the best of confessions, and Lucy was so shocked she promptly, gently, even politely told him that she needed some time to think about her own feelings.

Natsu, being Natsu, was impatient and brash but he understood - so her told her that "Okay, I'll stay out of your way for today, Luce. It's your day-off after all, right?"

He looked slightly upset - and Lucy lamented over that fact as she got home. She made Natsu upset.

Natsu looked hopeful too - that was perhaps the only good in her situation. Natsu didn't hate her.

Lucy needed to think, to sort herself out. It was all so sudden - RANDOM, EVEN! - and her mind is... well, for lack of a better word, not in a good condition. She couldn't think properly.

Because HOLY MAVIS - NATSU WAS IN LOVE WITH HER.

As she slumped down on the couch, a familiar golden light appeared in front of her, and as it faded, she was looking at a very confused Loke.

Her expression told the lion that she can't be dealing with him right then.

"Love-"

Lucy groaned. "Not today, please-"

"I know." Loke said.

That made Lucy blink. "What?"

Loke scratched the back of his head uneasily. "You were sending distress signals- um, broadcasting it to the whole realm, actually-"

By then Lucy had really been lost. "WHAT?"

"It annoyed the Celestial Spirit King so he kicked me out the plane and closed my gate - told me to fix you or I'll have to force my way back in again."

"...Um, what?"

Loke sighed. "You've asked that three times now."

Lucy groaned yet again. Now her head hurt. "Broadcasting-... I can do that? You can feel ME out there?"

"At the rate you're going, mastering ten gold keys and several silver ones at once? You don't know how strong you are, do you? YES, Lucy."

She shook her head blankly. "How?"

"Well, remember back then when I know when to come to rescue? Let's say it's a sneak peek of your powers to connect to your spirits. I was the only one who you have a strong enough connection until recently when you've been getting better and stronger."

Lucy nodded at this, understanding the gist of what her Spirit had said. She sighed. "I'm really, really sorry."

"Look, it's okay." Loke soothed. "Anything for you, love."

"You can go back now. I'll be alright."

Loke smiled guiltily. "But Lucy, I still can't feel the realm's warm welcome."

"I'll force the gate open again."

This time the lion laughed lightly. "C'mon, just let me do what I was sent here to do and come help you out. No need to waste your magic."

Lucy didn't know why she agreed. "Alright."

Loke simply looked at her in amusement. She looked like she was suffering from an anxiety disorder and a panic attack. He pat her head and she sighed tiredly.

"Loke?"

"I'll make some tea."

"Thank you, that's very kind."

A few minutes later, they were sitting beside each other on Lucy's couch, drinking tea.

"So," Loke started, taking the liberty to be the counselor. "Lucy?"

She blurted out the truth fast enough. "Natsu confessed."

His eyes widened. FINALLY? Wait, this is Natsu they're talking about: "To burning your favorite dress?"

"To being in love with m- HE DID WHAT?!" she looked at him and he swore the teacup might as well crumble under her grip.

Loke cursed. "Damn, I promised him I wouldn't tell you."

"That little-"

He cut her off quick: "NATSU CONFESSED." and it seemed to catch Lucy off guard as she squeak a scared and tentative "yes."

From the distraught look on the blonde's face, Loke correctly guessed his master's dillema.

"Why did you say no?"

Lucy didn't care how in seven blazing hells Loke knew about that. "I didn't say no! I said I needed to think about it."

He raised an eyebrow. "What is there to think about?"

She groaned and mumbled something incoherent.

The lion continued, "I mean, yes, it breaks my heart to know that I am not the subject of such affections, but you've been in love with the guy for a while now-"

"He made it all so unromantic!"

"Oh." Loke blinked. "If it were me, I would've taken you out stargazing, finding all the zodiac constellations, showing you Regulus, my heart-"

"Exactly! Natsu is... well, he's Natsu!"

Loke smirked.

It was Lucy's turn to blink.

Thinking back, the random declaration was very... well, very Natsu: spontaneous, plain, but sincere.

"And would you have it any other way?" the Lion asked.

"No." was out there before she could weigh it, and Lucy broke into a smile. "Oh my God, Natsu is in love with me!"

"Yep."

"I've been waiting-... hoping for this!"

"Unfortunately for me, yes. But I'm happy for you anyway, because, your favorite lion here and all, I do care-"

Then he stopped short when Lucy shrieked "LOKE!"

He squeaked out a startled "LUCY?!" Then he was being given the hug of his life. "Oh, princess, this is cute."

"Thanks for knocking some sense into me..." she mumbled against his shoulder as he returned the embrace, inhaling the scent of her hair. "I'm so happy."

He was happy for her, really. Through the devoted loverboy facade, he was really a doting pet lion deep down - and he'd been rooting for them for long enough now.

And if Natsu hurts Lucy in any way, Loke is willing to shred the dragonslayer to pieces in the most painful way...

"Now, I have to go and tell him I feel the same-"

Then the door burst open and in Natsu goes, sheepish. "LUCY! I know I promised not to bother you today but Gray found this really cool mission and he says it's perfect for the team and Erza says it'll pay three months' rent and we should go, he says, like, now-"

Loke and Lucy looked at him, promptly forgetting that they were in quite a comfortable embrace.

Natsu stepped back and slammed the door shut. "YOU SHOULD HAVE JUST TOLD ME! STUPID LUIGI!"

"Oh, hell." both master and spirit muttered. In a heartbeat, Loke had opened the door and Lucy was rushing out, running down the stairs and after a forlorn Natsu. As Lucy screamed, "NATSU DRAGNEEL, STOP MOPING AND LISTEN TO ME, DON'T RUN YOU STUPID STUPID- ARGH! NATSU STOP RIGHT THERE AND DID YOU JUST CALL ME LUIGI?!", Loke closed the door behind him, sat back in the couch and resumed tea time.

The door didn't need to be open for him to hear everything.

"LUCY YOU'RE A WEIRDO WHAT WAS THAT FOR?!"

Lucy shot back: "IF I WAS HUGGING ERZA, WOULD YOU RUN OFF, TOO?!"

"IT'S DIFFERENT - THAT WAS LOKE! YOU SHOULDA JUST TOLD ME YOU WERE WITH LOKE ALREADY-"

"GODS, WE WERE HAVING TEA AND TALKING ABOUT HOW TO TELL YOU THAT I LOVE YOU TOO!"

Silence.

Loke listened, trying to keep himself from laughing out loud.

"W-W-WEIRDO!"

"SHUT UP, JUST COME BACK UPSTAIRS AND WAIT FOR ME TO PACK MY STUFF FOR THIS MISSION YOU'RE SO ON ABOUT!"

The lion chuckled and shook his head in amusement.

"-AND PICK UP MY SHOE AND BRING IT HERE!"


He spoke again on her first child's first birthday. I was not so much a speech as it was a dramatic declaration. As he held the little blonde baby boy in his arms and entertained the guests who came to see the child (because Mirajane and Lisanna were busy in the bar and Lucy had followed Levy towards where Natsu, Gray and Gajeel were starting a brawl - "NOT IN MY BABY'S PARTY!" she had said), the people had started to speculate what kind of magic the child would have.

Loke proudly said, "By the stars, I risked my eardrums and left hand for this beautiful child to be born - he better grow up to make his lovely mother proud!"

Wendy laughed. "I'm sure he will - you'll practically be his nanny, after all!"

"Not to mention, he's already smitten." Cana muttered as she watched Loke coo sweetly at baby Igneel.

"You lllllllike the baby! Pedo!" Happy said, giggliing.

"Shut up, Catmander!"

x - x - x - x - x - x

Lucy had been contentedly lounging on their house as a woman in maternity leave should, and Natsu was in Fairy Tail on a short errand with Erza, when she felt that her baby was coming.

"Oh dear- OH DEAR..."

She was about to scream for Natsu.

"LOKE!"

Crashes were heard as the lion stumbled from the kitchen and appeared by the kitchen doorway in a frilly pink apron and pink mittens, stirring some dough on a bowl. He was about to bake cake. It had been his duty to do the baking ever since Lucy's craving started to center on all sorts of cakes, Natsu had proved worse than useless on the job, and Virgo, Mira, Levy and Erza were all proved incapable to do most of Lucy's requests (Loke prided himself the creator of wasabi-peanut-butter-seaweed-chocolate-cheesecake. He has also learned to just serve the monstrosities without tasting them himself).

"Yes, Lucy?" he asked, scared to death. Lucy and her mood swings when the cakes were late-... It made him shiver and opt for Erza's wrath instead.

"I'M GOING ON LABOR!"

Loke struggled not to drop the dough for his mango-banana-papaya-cinnamon-shortcake. He held on to the kitchen doorframe for strength. "Wait, let me breathe and reassure myself that I'll survive-"

"LOKE!"

"I'm inhaling. Exhaling. Inhale-... Exhale-"

"LOKE, THE BABY'S COMING!"

That snapped the lion out of his struggle for a will to live. "Right! Hospital!" Loke said, putting down the bowl and the mixing spoon wherever the hell he could, struggling out of his mittens, and grabbing her keys from the nearby table. On the way, he summoned Virgo.

"Princess, brother-"

"Fairy Tail. Call Natsu. Quick." Loke instructed. Virgo said no more - she simply dashed out through the nearest window. "Lucy, I'm gonna take you to the hospital now."

She simply nodded, hand rubbing her belly. He handed her keys to her - the feel of them against her skin was her calming mechanism, he knew - and then he lifted her up in his arms.

They reached the hospital in record time and she was put on the delivery room.

On the way to the delivery room, the nurse asked Loke, "Are you the father, sir?"

Lucy answered quickly. "WHY DO YOU CARE?! MY BABY'S COMING! I CAN SEE THE HEAD!"

"Love, that's impossible. Please calm down." Loke soothed.

Then the actual labor started and Loke gripped Lucy's hand and whispered any comforting thing that came to mind.

When the midwife said "PUSH!", both groaned nervously and Lucy was about to scream loudly, and then there was a shout of "LUCYYYYYYY! WHAT ARE THEY DOING TO YOU?! I'M COMING, LUCE!"

"Oh, joy." Lucy squeaked out tiredly, knowing that the very foundation of the building is being shaken and threatened to be burnt. Loke wiped her forehead with a towel so kindly provided by one of the nurses.

"Idiot! She's just on labor!" they heard from outside.

"Shut up, icebutt! WHERE IS MY WIFE?!"

Oh no, Lucy thought, not Gray.

"You two just shut up and get to Lucy!"

Not Erza too?!

"I'm not even supposed to be here-"

GAJEEL?!

"Everyone, no threatening other patients, please!

Ah, finally - perhaps Mira will be able to hold them back.

From the sounds of affirmation from the outside, MOST of Fairy Tail was present.

"Natsu, Lucy is on labor, so she's on the delivery room."

"LET ME IN, I'M THE FATHER, THE GUY INSIDE IS OUR PET!"

Loke let out an unimpressed grumble.

"NATSU, JUST SHUP UP AND GET IN HERE!" Lucy finally screamed from inside the delivery room and she heard everyone outside rejoice in the knowledge that Lucy is probably alright, if she can still scold Natsu while giving birth.

Natsu was let in and was immediately by Lucy's other side. "Luce, you okay?"

Lucy panted. "I'm giving birth to our baby."

He gripped Lucy's other hand, the one that also held her keys. He finally calmed down, smiling down at her reassuringly. "We'll be okay." Natsu wiped the sweat on his wife's forehead after Loke handed him the towel.

Loke watched them nervously. He felt like his job here is done. "Should I go?"

"NO." was the firm answer of the couple.

"I need your hand." Lucy said.

"I need a wingman." Natsu said.

So Lucy had two men on either side of her, her hands gripping one of their's. The midwife once again said, "Okay, Mrs. Dragneel... Push!"

She pushed.

It involved screaming, and gripping tight.

Natsu flinched, but remained miraculously calm as he whispered words of encouragement to his wife, all the while wiping sweat from her brow and her neck. Loke, however, yelped loudly in pain. Lucy was gripping his hand too hard.

Lucy panted. Loke whimpered.

Natsu looked at Virgo, who was hovering nearby and had settled as one of the nurses. "Is it over?"

"Not yet, but we're almost there. We'll have to push again." the midwife said. "On three... are you ready, Mrs. Dragneel?"

Natsu gaped, but then quickly turned to Lucy. "Hear that, Luce? Almost there. Another push."

They were still "almost there" for three more pushes.

Outside the delivery room, most of Fairy Tail heard sounds of screeches and screams as they huddled closer together. Wendy was gripping Charle and Happy tightly. Levy was squeezing Gajeel's arm in worry. Makarov was staring straight at the wall, while Mira and Lisanna were practically praying for Lucy's healthy delivery. Cana and Pantherlily sat silently on the waiting chairs, brows furrowed.

Gray was pacing. "This will scare the shit out of Juvia." He thanked heavens that his five-months-pregnant wife stayed at the Guild with some of the others.

"It's scaring the shit out of you right now." Gajeel pointed out.

"Where's Erza?" Happy asked.

Pantherlily pointed at the far corner of the hall. Erza was huddled in a ball, facing the wall and covering her ears with her hands while rocking herself back and forth.

Back inside the delivery room, Natsu was now alternating between looking at the midwife and Lucy, paling to an unhealthy shade of white, and muttering a nervous, "You can do it, Luce! You can, you can!"

Lucy and Loke were simultaneously screeching and screaming - Lucy because she was giving birth, and Loke because he was getting killed by his master's death grip.

"Natsu..." Lucy whimpered, panting.

Natsu smiled in reassurance, kissing his wife's hand, then he turned to the people at the foot of the bed. "ARE WE THERE YET?!"

"Almost-"

"We've been almost there for ten fucking hours now!"

"I'm so tired..." Lucy choked a sob.

"Luce, Lucy, listen to me. Do that breathing thingy you learned in your pregnant woman lessons, you told me it'll make things easier, right?"

But Lucy was too tired and too in pain and her hormones are acting up, "I DON'T FUCKIN REMEMBER IT!"

"Loke will do it with you! He comes with you to classes to hit on other pregnant chicks, right?"

"I was only there to hit on your wife." Loke said, unapologetic.

"BUT YOU'LL DO THE BREATHING THINGY YOU WERE BOTH SO PROUD OF, RIGHT?" Natsu hissed.

Loke, voice hoarse, nodded groggily. "Y-yeah. C'mon, love. Inhale and then exhale... Breathing exercises!"

Natsu watched them as they inhaled and exhaled together, getting ready to push again.

Lucy pushed.

Natsu watched them scream together too.

Outside, Gray held his head in his hands. "Why are there two people screaming?"

Nobody answered.

"Who the fuck is giving birth in there? Lucy AND Loke?!"

Back in the room, the midwife said, "Almost!"

"Hell yeah, that's new." Natsu rolled his eyes.

"Just two more pushes, Mrs. Dragneel!"

"Oh my God." Lucy panted.

"Two more, Luce! Two more!" Natsu encouraged.

In the middle of their second to the last push, Gray burst in asking why the hell Loke is on labor, too. He got a full-view of the foot of the bed.

He fainted. Mira had to apologize and get Gajeel to drag Gray's unconscious body outside. Erza, in the split second that the doors opened, got the same view as Gray did. All surrounding Fairy Tail mages had to manhandle her before she could barge in wanting to help Lucy from the pain she's in.

When it was all over, Loke and Natsu cooed at the baby in Lucy's arms. They were already making faces when the Guild members filed in one by one. Erza was the first, even beating Happy into it, as she tearily asked Lucy if she's alright. Apparently, she wasn't able to stand the screams of pain from the delivery room.

Natsu gave Loke a tight, grateful hug, thanking him for being there all the way.

"You did an awesome job with the breathing and pushing thingy. Even in your apron, man. You're the best."

Loke looked down and, disregarding the voice he seemingly broke forever and the hand that can't feel anything, he groaned in misery.

They've just taken the commemoratory group photo and he was wearing a frilly pink apron.


He spoke for her for the last time in her funeral. Friends and nakama and family and admirers were crying. He spoke right after Igneel, Layla and Luna. He spoke in behalf of all her spirits. It was a fitting arrangement, really - the first ones were her family, and then him, her best spirit - her magic - and right after, her guildmates. He felt like a border, he felt like the center. He felt like at the core of this all, his master was first a Fairy Tail mage, and then Fairy Tail's Celestial Spirit mage, and then a wife and a mother. Her magic was what made her who she was.

He started his speech after Luna Dragneel was escorted off the podium. He breathed out deeply to assure composure.

Here he is, Leo the Lion, as young as the first day his late mistress stepped through the doors of Fairy Tail after a blue Exceed and a Fire Dragon Slayer.

"Lucy Heartfilia-Dragneel was more than the greatest Celestial Spirit mage of her age - she is one of the kindest, bravest and truest in her craft, and I believe, in history." - he had to pause. This was too hard.

"She always said that I am more than her spirit, because before that, I am her friend. Well, Lucy and I, we've had great moments together. On her 18th birthday, I told her to keep growing strong - my, did my mistress deliver.

"Even though it's been years since she entrusted us to someone else - and she did entrust us to someone who showed promise to be as magnificent as her," he cast a look at Luna, sitting between her brother and sister, who were both Fire Dragon Slayers, "deep down, we never really felt like she let go of us.

"Well, that's Lucy for you. In truth, though, she did let us go. And it's funny how now, on her death, we, her spirits, realized that we're the ones who didn't quite let go. We didn't even know we were holding on. I guess were just loved her that much.

"As spirits, see, we don't hold on, the master does. We get passed from one master to another. This time, it was mutual - it was a friendship. We'll have a hard time forgetting Lucy.

"Maybe we never will. Someone as great as her? Maybe we won't even try."

x - x - x - x - x

On her last moments, she summoned them all. Every Stellar Spirit she ever owned: even without their keys, she was able to call them. She said it was like visiting old friends. If you don't have the keys to their doors anymore, you just knock, telling them it's you - because if they know you and love you, they will open their doors. It was a feat that no other mage was able to do.

Her children were sitting beside her. Happy was holding on to her hand. Such display of power from a dying woman left them all in awe.

"Hello, you guys." Lucy said, hair gray and face aged, but her brown eyes and her smile were still vibrant.

They all looked at her sadly. Leo, ever the leader, stepped forward and took her hand. "Hello, queen of my stars."

"Look at you." Lucy said smiling softly, gripping his hand back. "So dashing. My loyal lion."

"Oh God, don't say that." he stiffled a sniff. He knew why she had called them.

"I'm an old lady, and you haven't grown a minute."

"You're still the most beautiful woman in my eyes, Lucy." Loke said, stroking her hair. "The Lion Tamer."

"You goddamn hopeless perv." she retorted with a chuckle.

They both laughed when Loke whispered, "Meow?"

Lucy turned to regard the rest of her spirits. She smiled. "I can't keep you all out for long. I just wanted to see you all together one last time."

Her spirit's expressions ranged from stiffled sobs to outright wails. Plue climbed to the foot of her bed and clung to her. "Puuuuunnn..."

"Yes, Plue. I missed you too." she looked at them all, regarded them with a fond and proud expression. She wore the same one she had when she told them all that she's entrusting them to her daughter, Luna. "You guys have been great, really. All of you - magnificent in every way. I want to say goodbye, and thanks, and keep being great, okay?"

Nods, gestures of affirmations, and more tears.

Lucy laughed. "Gosh, don't cry!"

"I'M NOT CRYING!" - that came from Aquarius.

They all faded away, each of them with a smile that said they loved their master for everything it was worth - and Lucy breathed deeply. That took a toll on her. When she looked to her left, Loke was still standing there, her hand in both of his, and he was crying behind his glasses.

"Not you too. That's not manly." she said.

"Well, I'm not Elfman."

At the mention of the name, Lucy smiled. "I'll say 'hi' to him for you."

Leo felt his heart crack a bit. The words stung. She was so sure of her death. He tried to be stronger. "And Natsu, hm?"

"Oh, of course. I won't forget Natsu. He's waiting."

At that, her children started to cry too. "Oh, you three - Igneel, Layla!" Lucy looked at them, reaching out her free hand to pat her eldest's head. Igneel leaned in to her touch. "I'll tell your father that his Dragonslayers were crying."

"Mom, no. He'll haunt us." Igneel said, a version of his mother with blonde hair and brown eyes, with his father's smile. Timid, blonde, dark-eyed and boyish Layla chuckled and nodded.

"He will. Then he'll find it boring because Lucy's not there." Loke said.

Lucy gave his hand an appreciative squeeze. "You betcha." Then, she looked at Luna. "Luna, baby, you gotta be strong, okay? You can't trust these two to take care of my keys, let alone themselves."

"Yes, mom."

"Make sure Loke doesn't get any girl spirit knocked off."

"Yes, m-"

"And don't fall for him. He's a player."

"M-MOM!" the girl cried, flustered.

"Hey." Loke whined.

"Ig, Layla, Luna? Can you step out for a moment, loves?" Lucy said softly, and her children obeyed quickly.

Loke took one of the seats, his hands gripping both of his mistress' weak ones. "Lucy."

"Yes?"

"How about afternoon tea?"

"You'll just have to make do without our afternoon tea anymore, Loke."

He looked down. The past few years, it has been a tradition between them as old friends. Lucy had passed all the keys to Luna by the time the girl was fifteen, but her friends still came over to spend some time with her. They've been hers for so long, after all.

"I don't have anything more to do. You're all in safe hands - each other's."

He pressed their joint hands to his forehead as he tried to prevent more oncoming tears.

"Don't cry for the old lady, Loke."

"I'll miss you so much - we all will." he sniffed. "And I'll love you forever."

"I know." she said, sighing. "Take care of Luna."

"She'll be great, love."

"Take care of everyone."

"Of course I will."

"Take care of yourself."

"Yes."

"Really, I'm very, very, very happy." she said. This time, a lone tear cascaded down her cheek. "Thanks for everything, Leo the Lion. I'm glad to have been your friend."

"You're my queen." he smiled.

"That, too. Groom your new princess well."

"I promise."

She asked him to call her children back. They were with her as she breathed her last.

x - x - x - x - x - x

"So, as I've said," Loke continued. "We've been through a lot together, and for us her spirits, Lucy is more than just another master - she's more than the greatest Celestial Spirit Mage of her age. She's our Lucy.

"As she owned us, she also gave herself to us. She let us own her too, something no one has ever managed to do so well.

"We have to let her go now. I'm sure she's happy with Natsu, quite practically beating some sense into the idiot's head for being so stupid wherever they may be. God, those two are just abnormal, really, but as long as they're together, they were the happiest.

"That's what matters for us, I guess. We've thanked her and we've said our goodbyes in our own ways, my fellow spirits and I - so we're happy to have sent her off properly. We know that Lucy is alright. That Lucy will be okay.

"Because Lucy knows where she's going. She always does. She's smart like that."

He looked at everyone present - everyone who loved her from the bottom of their hearts. He was proud to say that there was no shortage of people in the gathering.

"That's my queen for you." Loke said, and he swore that he heard her 'thanks!' and see her vibrant smile.

.

.fin.

.


A/N: Yeah, that broke my heart too. :|

P.S.: I've updated my profile page, so see that for some updates and stuff to come.