It was perhaps the most normal of days in Fairy Tail. It was a beautiful summer's day, the golden sun bathing the guild hall with gentle warming light. The guild was busy, filled to the brim with members, singing, drinking and dancing.
Guildmaster Makarov sat in the prearranged spot, high in the rafters where he had a commanding view of the hall below. He took a long puff on his pipe and smiled as there was a familiar noise next to him. First master Mavis Vermillion popped into existence next to him.
"Good morning, First," he greeted cheerily with a grizzled chuckle. "Glad that you could make it."
"Of course, Sixth!" Mavis smiled with that bright, happy expression of hers. She sat next to Makarov, her ethereal legs dangling over the edge of the wooden beam. "It's always nice to check in every now and again! Now, let's see…"
Mavis began to scan the hall, looking through the assembled members. There was so much joy and mirth, the card games being held by the likes of Macao and Wakaba, the drinking competition with Cana that Max and Warren had no chance of winning, even sharing the drinks between them. The prideful Fried striking a pose as Reedus painted his portrait, Jet joining Vijitor in a drunken dance as Droy stuffed his face.
But those things, although interesting, were so much more boring than the thing that had Mavis' attention.
"So many different kinds!" She said apropos of nothing, closing her eyes in mirth.
"Oh? What do you mean?" Makarov asked, blowing out a ring of smoke.
"So many couples, but they're all so different. Love is the strongest force in the universe, and it seems only right that the strongest guild in Fiore has harnessed it's every facet!" She giggled. "Please tell me all about them!"
"Gossip of young love, eh?" Makarov made that dirty chuckle of his. "Perhaps I'm too much of a grandfather, but that makes me very happy, First. Who would you like to know about first?"
Mavis pondered, peering down. First, she settled onto the love that she felt was the most settled, most entwined. She looked at the couple who looked like a pair of cowboys, their little girl running around after the black cat who always stayed a step ahead of her.
"Ahhh, Alzack and Bisca. It's a shame, but I was never around to see their relationship blossom. They're probably the most obvious couple, though. They're both kind and sweet and they share similar interests and magic. They're a natural born pair. I deeply wish that I could have seen their wedding."
Mavis watched them, doing nothing more than chatting amiably between themselves. So comfortable, so easy. Bisca stooped to lift Asuka as she ran back to them, squealing happily about how she'd managed to tag Lily. They beamed like the proudest of parents, hugging her tightly before she ran off again, the black Exceed giving her ample time to get away.
"Wonderful," Mavis stated happily. She continued to scan, looking for another couple. She recognized a pair from the grand magic games. Gray the ice mage sat next to Juvia the water mage. She was resting her head on his shoulder, babbling on and on about nothing as he looked anywhere else.
"Has Juvia not advanced her relationship with Gray yet?" Mavis asked, disappointment creeping into her voice.
"Oh, don't be silly. Gray loves her; he's just too stupid to realise it yet. He loves spending time with her…maybe if she was a little less forceful…" Makarov sighed. "They have different approaches to love, which is why they've advanced so slowly. Juvia wears her heart on her sleeve, whereas Gray is cool and slow to rouse. Typical boy!"
"But they're so cute!" Mavis huffed, watching Juvia whip out identical lunches, both looking like Gray's face. Gray balked as she dug into hers with great relish. "I wanna see their children already!"
"I can see that Juvia is not alone in her overbearing nature," Makarov replied with a hearty laugh. Mavis ignored him, looking for more. She caught a bloom of red heading towards the guild door. Erza was wearing a long blue dress that bared her back and was slit along the thigh. It was unusual to see her out of her armour.
"Is Erza going where I hope she is going?"
"Hehe, I cannot confirm or deny any rumours as to Gerard's whereabouts," Makarov replied. His eyes twinkled with evil humour. "I certainly cannot abide by my guild members consorting with known criminals. Oh no, that'd be terrible!"
"Those two share the same heart," Mavis noted.
"Indeed. They share a painful past together. They survived immense hardship, which made them both immensely strong, as well as brought them closer together. I wish them both happiness…if they were indeed a couple, which of course they aren't…cough, cough."
"You can't just say 'cough', you actually have to cough to cover your lie," Mavis commented, smiling broadly.
"Hrmph, well yes indeed." As Erza left, a man entered the guild waving drunkenly to Cana. It was Bacchus of Quatro Cerberus (having lost the name puppy after the games ended.) Warren and Max gratefully disengaged from their drinking competition with her as Bacchus took their place.
"Now, that's not one I really approve of," Makarov mumbled, "but he's the only one able to keep up with Cana's personality and drinking." And I'm glad that Gildartz isn't here or we'd have a murder trial on our hands…
"Maybe they won't last the distance, but what's wrong with two kindred spirits enjoying one another's company?" Mavis asked.
"Very profound," Makarov nodded sagely. They looked down at a shrill cry. Evergreen was gesturing angrily at Elfman about something, and he was just as irate in return. He towered over her with his immense height but she had a presence all of her own. The argument was indistinct, but it seemed trivial in the extreme.
"My, my, what a high maintenance couple!" Mavis sang happily.
"Heh! Evergreen's not used to a man that she can't wind around her little finger and Elfman's not used to the female psyche! If they don't kill each other first, they'll both be better people for their acquaintance."
They watched as Bixlow quietly slipped behind Evergreen, 'accidently' shoving her into Elfman's embrace as Lisanna pushed her brother forwards at the same moment. There were red faces and a lot of blustering, followed by making up. Mavis laughed at how they blew so hot and cold so quickly.
There was an annoyed shout from Reedus as Fried suddenly left his posing to hurry over to the main entrance as Laxus entered. He followed him up to the bar, asking him a hundred questions about how his day had been so far.
"Poor Fried," Mavis sighed.
"Not a love that's going to be reciprocated," Makarov agreed sadly. "But he'll find a nice man of his own someday. I wish happiness for all of my children, no matter how they want it."
"How kind," Mavis smiled, making Makarov blush.
Laxus brushed Fried off in an annoyed fashion, advancing on the bar to greet Mira. There was the briefest conversation between the pair and Laxus took his drink over to a table to be joined by Fried and Bixlow.
"That was a long conversation for Laxus," Makarov noted, making a heart shaped ring of smoke.
"How…restrained," Mavis noted, clearly unsatisfied. Mira was smiling, but she was always smiling. "Is that enough for her?"
"Please. Mira gains her happiness from all of the couples that you can see! The sudden spurt of inter-guild relationships has made her happy as a cat in a cream factory!" Even as they watched, Mira seemed to be trying to set up Wendy and Romeo on a date. The two youngsters seemed oblivious to the connotations being made. "See? She's perfectly happy. Also, Mira is an idol in these parts, with men lining up to date her. She has all the time in the world to find the one that best suits her."
"And do you hope that's your grandson?"
"Well, he needs someone strong enough to smack some sense into that thick head of his," Makarov replied, cheeks tinting red. It must run in the family…
"There!" Mavis shouted suddenly, pointing excitedly. "There's my favourite couple!"
Makarov followed her finger down to a small table by the side, where there was some kind of imaginary forcefield around the couple, preventing anyone from bothering them. There was a large book on the table and Gajeel was trying to read it, finger moving slowly over the letters, mouth enunciating as he went.
Whenever he got stuck with a word that he couldn't read, Levy would lean in to read it for him, and unseen by her his cheeks would go red as her tiny body pushed into him and he would glare daggers into the crowd in case anyone was daring to watch.
"Poor Gajeel, not used to a problem that he can't beat into submission," Makarov chuckled. He frowned, realising his poor choice of words considering how they first met. "I gave him a chance at a new life, but it was Levy who saved his soul. She's so strong to find forgiveness so easily. They're your favourite?"
"Levy is the perfect size for a proper lady," Mavis huffed, crossing her arms over her small chest. "She doesn't need to be big and strong with her dark prince around! And they're so cute together!" Gajeel grinned at Levy and ruffled her hair condescendingly. She went red at the unheard insult to her height and tackled him onto the bench as he laughed.
"Anyone left?" Mavis asked, contentedly watching Happy chase Charla around, trying to give her a fish to no avail.
"Now that…I'm not sure. Look down there."
Mavis looked as Makarov pointed. At one table sat Lucy and Natsu. They joked, they laughed. They argued, they fought. Natsu tried to ignite her lunch so she poured her drink on his head. They shouted briefly and then laughed about it. It was hard to tell them apart from any other friendship in the guild.
"They're a couple?" Mavis asked.
"They are best friends, who every day take a step closer and closer together."
"The most comfortable kind of relationship!" Mavis chuckled.
"One day, they'll wake up and be boyfriend and girlfriend without ever realising that it happened. Unless of course, it's already happened when I wasn't watching. Silly children, being so naive."
"Oh? Were you a real heartthrob at their age?" Mavis teased.
"Well, I wouldn't say Casanova, First!" Makarov laughed, caught in his own delusion.
Lucy was trying to write and Natsu grew increasingly bored as she became more and more distracted, until he grabbed a crumpled up off cast piece of paper and hurled it at the back of Laxus' head with a devilish grin. Immediately ready to defend Laxus' valor, Fried surged to his feet and hurled his stein at Natsu. The slayer jumped up and kicked the stein clear across the guild hall.
It skipped across a table and was about to crack Levy in the face when Gajeel's hand intercepted it, crushing it into pulp. With an angry roar, Gajeel surged to his feet, wielding a ten foot long table like it weighed nothing, managing to knock Levy on her ass as he hurled it carelessly across the hall, shouting Salamander's name.
Laxus sheared it into two pieces, one to be shattered by Bacchus and the other to conk Elfman on the head. Approximately two thousandths of a second later the entire guild was embroiled in a massive brawl.
"I better get down there," Makarov said, sighing deeply.
"Oh dear," Mavis said, beginning to fade from view. "Still, it is a wondrous guild, Sixth. But remember the most important kind of love?"
"The love of a parent for their children. Have fun knocking a few heads together!"
Makarov laughed deeply and leapt from the rafters, growing tenfold in size. Yes, love needed to be expressed in many different ways, and sometimes – particularly in Fairy Tail - a violent beating was the most important one of them all!