Finally! I can get started on my favorite parts of the series! This is going to be a wild ride, so get ready! Fights, mysteries, romance(better than the Lost Dragon Slayer, promise!), I'm packing it all, so as always, Thanks for reading!
Note- I've gone back and changed the text layout so it's easier to read. I will do this for all my chapters that have huge paragraphs, but it will take some time, so be patient. In addition, there will likely be some minor changes or additions to some of the scenes, like extra parts to battles.
Also, I know that my updating for the Reborn Oracion Seis Arc is slow, but I will likely begin updating at my normal speed either today or tomorrow. Also, you SHOULD read it! It will have great relevance once I get back into making new chapters for this story!
Chapter 1: The S-Class Trials
Under a shaded canopy of trees, a young man lay on the grassy earth a little ways away from a lake. Everything was still in a calm serenity, the passing breeze being the only change in the environment. The young man didn't react to anything, even the stag that seemed to melt out of the forest and walk to the lake for a drink, it's nose breaking the tension on the water to create small ripples. He stared up at the sky, his eyes covered by a spiky mess of black hair, and sighed.
"…What a lonely looking sky…"
"Waaaah! There's nothing like enjoying the comforts of your own home!" Lucy sighed. She was enjoying the shower, to say the least. Another great day…this is the life! she thought happily.
About one week had passed since the Edolas incident. In the following days since Natsu's return, it had been one big party after the other, although Sting and Lisanna had dragged him away from the action a couple of days later when things quieted down to get him some new clothes and other necessities.
Natsu now wore a black, long-sleeve jacket with gold edges that exposed his right arm from the shoulder down, as well as his red Fairy Tail mark(which had to be put on again since he had erased it during his time in Edolas). His characteristic scaled-white scarf was wrapped around the open collar of his jacket. He wore a black waistcoat, also with gold edges, over baggy white trousers that stopped just below the knee, both held up by a light brown belt, as well as black, open toed sandals. There was a thick black wristband on his right arm.
Lucy could see the difference his coming back had made on Sting and Lisanna- the both of them looked happier than she could ever remember them being, even though she'd only been in Fairy Tail for about six months.
Speaking of Sting, she hadn't had a real conversation with him for a while. Natsu's little stunt on the following day of his return had made both of them uncomfortable around each other, though Natsu did apologize sincerely to her later(Apparently not to his brother, though. He said something about payback for all the games Sting played years earlier with him and Lisanna). Lucy hadn't really minded, it was Fairy Tail; it wouldn't be home to her if things weren't crazy from time to time.
It did frustrate her that Sting was avoiding the issue, though. He wouldn't even talk about it, and looked decidedly uneasy whenever the other members of the guild teased him about it. Lucy shook her head, what was wrong with her? He'd get over it eventually, and it wasn't like he was totally unhappy. Sure, it bothered her to see him upset like that, but what could she do? Something clicked in her head. Maybe Natsu knows something. I'll ask him tomorrow, she decided.
Having put that past her, she stretched in the warm water of the shower and sighed again, "Could this get any better?"
"Not really. You've got a great place." a voice remarked.
Lucy replied without even thinking, "Isn't it? Wait…Ehhhhh?!"
She spun around and saw Cana sitting in the tub behind her, looking a little gloomy, "Maybe I should come live here." Her sudden appearance shocked Lucy, but she turned the water off and sat in the tub across from Cana. The card mage wrapped her arms around her knees. "Do you usually fit two people in the bath?" she asked.
"Well, do you usually barge into other people's houses?" Lucy shot back. Cana snorted and sighed. Lucy tilted her head to the side, "What's wrong? If something's bothering you, I'm all ears."
Cana stood up out of the water and looked to the side. "I'm…thinking about leaving the guild…" she murmured.
Lucy stared at her for a moment. "Eh….EHHHHHHHH?!"
"…and that's what she said, Mira!" Lucy said urgently.
Mira just smiled apologetically, "It's okay, Cana always says that around this time."
The Spirit Mage was confused, "'This time?' What does that mean?" she asked slowly. Mira laughed and answered, "You'll see tomorrow."
"Work, work, work!"
Sting and Lector flew towards the bar with a job in their hands. Sting slapped it on the bar and said, "Mira! I'm going on this job!"
Mira nodded, "Okay, then!"
The White Dragon and his red exceed spun around and raced for the door. Lucy tried to stop them, "Hey, wait! If you're going on a job, let me go too!"
Sting flashed her a grin, all nervousness forgotten, "Sorry! I'm going alone while this is happening-gah!" He ran headfirst into Gray, who was running in the opposite direction. They both fell down and then got back up in each other's faces.
Sting bared his fangs, "Watch where you're going, you damn ice cube!"
"Took the words right out of my mouth, flashlight!" Gray retorted.
Lector flew between the two of them, "Quit arguing! You two don't have time for this!"
The fighting mages looked shocked and replied in unison, "Dammit, you're right!" The White Dragon flew out the door while Gray grabbed a job off the request board.
The Ice Mage ran back to Mira with it, "I'm back!"
Mira noted the job and smiled at him, "Welcome back. How was the job?"
"No time for that! I gotta go!" Gray shot out the door.
Lucy stared after them, then at some others in the guild. Several members were just messing around, not really paying attention to the frantic mages running about.
Suddenly, she heard steel clash and saw Natsu, Erza, and Pantherlily going at it in a three-way sword fight. She was surprised how evenly matched they were, though it was obvious Erza and Lily had a bit more experience using a sword than Natsu did. He kept up well though, and eventually they separated for a moment.
"That's enough for now!" Erza barked.
Lily reverted back to his small form and put the huge broadsword to the side, "Seems I can only stay in my original body for a short time."
Erza shook her head with a smile, "But you're swordsmanship is superb, I haven't seen someone as skilled as you in a long time. And you Natsu! It's hard to believe you've only been using a sword for less than two years. You've grown up, haven't you?"
The Salamander rested Igneo's point on the floor and leaned on it, wiping his brow as he replied, "I'd like to think so, but you and Lily are still better than I am."
The black exceed smirked, "Not for much longer against me, I think. Erza might give you more of a challenge. I suppose I should say, 'as expected of Erza.'"
Natsu grinned at him, "Right?"
The three started laughing as Lucy watched with a confused expression. She turned back to Mira, "There are some people going nuts, and others that are just doing the usual. I can't make heads or tails of it."
Mira giggled to herself, "Like I said, you'll see tomorrow." Lucy shrugged and left the bar as a crowd of people harassed Mira so they could go on jobs.
The next day, a huge crowd packed the inside of Fairy Tail. Lucy walked up next to Lisanna and Yukino, and looked around. "What's going on here? And what's behind the stage?" she asked as she realized the stage was covered by a curtain.
Yukino shook her head, "I don't know. Lisanna won't tell me."
Lisanna smiled, "You'll see in a minute; don't rush it."
Lucy saw Sting standing beside Natsu, Happy, and Lector a few feet away. The White Dragon's eyes were all over the place and flashing with excitement.
Happy smirked, "Sting, you can't even stay still."
"He can't help it with this going on." Natsu said with a grin.
Then the curtains lifted.
Makarov, Erza, Mira, Gildarts, and Ur stood on the stage. The crowd started to cheer.
"Tell us already!"
"Who is it this year?!"
Lucy blinked, "Who? What's that mean?"
Makarov cleared his throat for silence before speaking, "Fairy Tail! As we have done in years past, I will now announce the names of those participating in the S-Class promotion trials!"
The crowd bellowed in excitement.
Lucy was shocked, "S-Class promotion trials?!"
Sting cracked his knuckles and bared his fangs, "I'm all fired up!"
"Hey! That's MY line!" Natsu growled.
Makarov held a fist out at the crowd, "Your hearts, minds, and souls! I have judged them all this past year. There will be eight participants!"
The crowd roared.
The White Dragon hissed in satisfaction, "Hell, yes!"
Lector and Happy high-fived while Natsu grinned, "Good job."
The Ice Mage smirked, "Good."
The Shadow Dragon raised an eyebrow in surprise, but said nothing.
Juvia was startled, "Eh? Juvia is participating?"
The Take-Over mage roared, "Men should become S-Class!"
Lisanna cheered for him, "Good luck, Elfman!"
Everyone congratulated her, but Cana didn't look very happy about it. Lucy stared at her, confused. Maybe this is why she wants to leave…she wondered.
The short girl bounced on her heels, "Me, finally!"
Jet and Droy danced in unison, "It's Levy!"
The green-haired man looked determined as he murmured, "I'll follow in Laxus' footsteps…"
Gajeel was shocked, "H-hold on! Why wasn't I included?! Even Rogue and Juvia got in!"
Lily gave him a sideways glance, "I've heard of your reputation in the guild. Seems they don't trust you yet."
"No! That's not it! I mean, I can't tell you why, but that's not it!" Gajeel hissed.
Lily smirked, "Then there's Erza."
The Requip mage gave him a dark smile, "You aren't ready yet."
"Damn you!" Gajeel roared.
Ur shouted at them, "Quiet down!"
"The Master isn't finished speaking yet." Gildarts added.
Makarov cleared his throat again, "The trials will be held at Tenrou Island! It is holy ground for our guild."
The crowd oohed and aahed.
Lucy whispered to Lisanna, "So, what kind of test is it?"
Lisanna put a finger to her chin, "Well, it changes each year, actually. But it's always something really hard. You become S-Class if you pass after all!" she finished with a smile.
Mira started talking on the stage, "There are some newbies here, so I'll explain the rules. Within this next week, you eight are to select a partner."
Yukino frowned, "A partner?"
Natsu looked over his shoulder, "It's a competition between two-man teams."
Ur picked up from where Mira left off, "There are two rules for the partners you can choose. First, they must be a member of Fairy Tail. Second, you cannot choose an S-Class mage."
Lector nodded sagely, "Well, that makes sense. Having those four as a partner would make things too one-sided."
"Frosch thinks so too!" Frosch said.
Makarov surprised the crowd with a grin, "Only one of you may pass this year, but this time, Erza will attempt to stop you."
Mira held up a hand with a smile, "I'm going to be a troublemaker this year, too!"
Gildarts crossed his arms, "All of you quit whining! This is a path all S-Class mages have gone through."
Elfman pointed a shaky finger at him, "H-hey…you can't mean…"
Sting practically jumped into the air, "Gildarts is gonna participate too?!"
"Don't be happy!" Gray yelled.
Ur smirked at her pupil, "I would worry more about me, if I were you Gray."
The Ice Mage stared at his teacher in horror, "Y-you can't be serious…Master, all four of them are in this?!"
Makarov laughed, "Well, of course!"
Lucy covered her mouth with a hand, "Don't tell me you can't become S-Class without defeating all of them!"
Lisanna laughed nervously, "Well, I'm sure they'll hold back a little…"
Happy sniggered, "You understand now that this is hard, right?"
Makarov finished after that, "You eight participants and your partners are to meet in Hargeon Port in one week! That is all!"
The crowd split up, Lucy took a seat at a table with Sting, Natsu, Gray, Lisanna, Elfman, Wendy, Juvia, Yukino, and Rogue.
Gray crossed his arms, "Man, this year's gonna be tough…"
Yukino gave him a curious look, "I can't believe it's the first time for you guys."
"I'm all fired up!" Sting declared, only to get smacked on the head by his brother.
Natsu growled, "Steal my line again and I'll kick your ass!"
Elfman put his hands on the side of his head, "Gah! The road to S-Class just gets farther away!"
Wendy glanced between them, "You guys have it rough, huh?"
"Do your best, everyone!" Lisanna chirped.
Lucy saw Freed with Bixlow a little ways off. She gestured at them, "So, they're partners? They seem strong, sure!"
Rogue gave her a sideways glance, "You seem skeptical."
Lucy shrugged and turned back to the others, "So, have you all decided on a partner yet?"
Sting flashed her a grin, "Well, Natsu of course!"
The Salamander cracked his knuckles and bared his fangs, "Leave it to me."
Elfman looked unhappy, to say the least, "That ain't fair! You two have been working together for years!"
Natsu nodded his head towards Freed and Bixlow, "Well, so have they."
Gray smirked, "I don't mind. Natsu hasn't gotten much stronger since he was in Edolas for so long."
The Salamander glared daggers at him, "Oh, yeah? Let's hear you say that when I kick your ass in the exam."
"Now then…" Sting got up from his seat. Natsu jumped up and they flew out the door together, "WE GOTTA TRAIN!"
Lisanna smiled after them, "That brings back memories, for sure…Before he went to Edolas, Natsu was going to take the trials. Those two think if they become powerful, they'll be able to find the dragons again."
Lucy nodded and stared at the door where they'd disappeared. Good luck, Sting!
That night, Lucy was walking down the snow-covered streets back home, reveling in the events of the day.
Lisanna had decided to become Juvia's partner, since the latter had no anxieties that the Take-Over mage was after Gray(Seriously, how warped can you get?).
The youngest Take-Over sibling then convinced Elfman to ask Evergreen, since the woman had been very perturbed that Freed had chosen Bixlow for his partner instead of her.
Rogue had asked Yukino of course, although it surprised Lucy that he hadn't asked Gajeel until she saw the Iron Mage stun everyone by convincing Levy to let him be her partner.
The biggest surprise for Lucy, however, was when Loke appeared out of nowhere and announced that he was Gray's partner(Since when were they all buddy-buddy?).
One other thing that confused her was that Charle had been acting rather uneasy.
Lucy looked down an alley as she walked, maybe by sheer chance, and spotted Cana, dead drunk and half-buried in snow. She screamed at her, "THAT'S NO PLACE TO PASS OUT!"
Lucy rushed the girl back home and got her wrapped in a blanket with hot chocolate.
When Cana recovered, she smiled at Lucy, "Man, you're a lifesaver…I would've been a goner if no one noticed me."
The Spirit Mage shook her head in exasperation, "You've been acting all weird lately."
"Well, I've got this sort of complex with the exams…It's just that, this is my fifth try…" she trailed off.
Lucy tilted her head to the side, "Oh, is that it? But that doesn't mean you have to leave Fairy Tail. You don't have to be so obsessed with it-"
"I have to become S-Class!" Cana shouted.
Although subdued by her tone, Lucy let the older woman keep talking, "If I don't…I'll have no right to meet that person…"
Lucy listened to her for a long while as Cana told her the reason behind her complex. The Spirit Mage was stunned by the end of her speech. Then she stood up abruptly, "I'm not letting you leave! I'll be your partner!"
Cana stared at her in shock, "L-lucy…"
One week later, the participants of the S-Class exams met together in Hargeon Port. A huge ship sailed up to the docks, with a big red Fairy Tail symbol on the largest sail…\
We didn't know…How could we have known? It was all over…in a flash...
The young man sat up in the grass, catching the attention of the stag at the lake. The deer looked at him with bright, brown eyes. He was still for a moment, then smiled at the animal. But then the stag bounded off, startled by his presence. The young man reached after it with his hand, but thought better of it and put it back to his side. He looked up sadly at the sky, "I am…still rejected by the world…"