aannnd we're done. once again, hugest thanks to everyone, for everything! sorry it took me so long!

-forgot to mention this last time but the song that played at the dance when Juvia appeared: Say Something & the song that played at the end where Natsu and Lucy finally got together: So Close from the movie Enchanted!


Let it Go

Lucy sat on the hood of her Jeep, the metal gleaming and warm despite the frosty December air. She could see her reflection in the windshield. Despite being bundled up against the cold, Lucy felt like she looked better than ever.

Natsu sat with her. Both of them held envelopes in their hands, and were staring at each other intently.

"You open it first," Natsu started.

"No way! You do it."

"What if I don't get in? Then you'll feel terrible and not want to open yours."

"And what if I open mine and I did get in," Lucy answered. "We'll celebrate, then you open yours and you didn't get in? What then?"

Natsu scrunched up his nose at her.

"For the love of everything holy," Sting yelled out, "will you two just open them already?"

Lucy startled. She'd forgotten they had an audience.

They were crowded around the parking lot of Mira's cafe. Since the holiday season started, they'd gotten a lot more visitors. Lucy and the other regulars still spent a lot of time there, just like Natsu and his friends still hung out at the Charming Bar at least three times a week.

Because of Yukino's skyrocketed popularity, Mira's cafe had become the place for girls to hang out. Mira was constantly talking about a need to renovate, expand, and add more to the menu. She wanted to hire new servers, as she and Lisanna were practically overwhelmed. They'd even hired Cana, which worked out okay, except they now had to lock up the booze.

As for Yukino herself, she was eating up the popularity like cake. No one in the history of high school was a more gracious Queen Bee. She and Sting organised fundraisers, pep rallies for all the school sports teams, and helped underfunded clubs. They started a petition to get the parking lot expanded, so it wasn't as crowded, and all the Acalypha Mountain students had places to put their cars.

Sting Chrysler and Yukino's equally white Mercedes-Benz were parked beside each other after another impromptu drag race downtown. Lucy fondly remembered how much she used to hate that stupid Chrysler that carried all the idiots she loved.

Phil Collins music was blaring from Mira's open door, and Gray and Juvia walked out with self-satisfied grins on their faces. Angel poked her head out after them, sticking her tongue out. Apparently, Angel still thought Gray was 'pretty hot,' so she came to hang out with them sometimes. The only one who could actually stand to be around her was Yukino – it turned out they were distant cousins, or something.

Juvia may have reverted back to wearing almost all-blue, but there was something different about her now. Her shoulders were straighter, and she was constantly smiling. She was now lifeguarding at the local pool; Gray would have joined her, but hockey season was starting up, and Gray was the school's star player.

Gray had fulfilled his promise and talked to Ultear. Erza was still on the softball team, and had already been scouted – twice – despite her stay in the hospital. She looked healthier than ever. As for Jellal, he had taken up Erza's spot in the flower shop. Now he was the one who always forgot to take off the pink, blue, and green apron.

A large, black truck roared into the parking lot. Levy hopped out of the passenger seat, waving an envelope around like crazy. "I got in!" she cried, bouncing up and down with joy. "I got in, and so did Gajeel! We're going to Hargeon!"

Levy had been legally living with Gajeel for the last two weeks. Lucy wasn't entirely sure what had gone down between Levy and her father, but Maurice McGarden had given his written consent for her to stay there instead of with him. He was starting a five-year jail term for drug possession, but Levy didn't seem too upset. She didn't even look concerned for her father. In fact, she was radiant.

Gajeel grunted as he turned off the engine. "You two opened yours yet?"

Lucy's fingers tightened around the envelope. To tell the truth, she was scared to open it.

For years, Lucy's life had been one single goal – get away from Magnolia, get to Hargeon. But now, for the first time in what felt like forever, Lucy was enjoying her life in Magnolia. She had more friends than a person could hope for. She even had a real sister - she wasn't living in the attic anymore. Flare had given up one of her many useless rooms. Lucy had never thought having a room right next to Flare would be fun, but it was. Gemma wasn't nearly the bully he used to be. Minerva's arrest had taken a toll on him; he'd even lost investors from it. Most of his time was spent on business trips and long, groveling phone calls.

As for Minerva, she'd be in juvie until her eighteenth birthday in May, whereupon she would (probably) be let out on good behaviour. But Lucy couldn't say she missed her. Nobody said they missed her. It was like a weighted blanket had been lifted off Magnolia. And it was becoming more and more like a home to Lucy every day.

Lucy looked back at Natsu. He shrugged, and ripped open his envelope. His eyes roved over the paper, and he squawked. "I'm in! I did it!"

I did it.

Lucy stared at her acceptance letter, heart pounding in her ears. This was it. Everything she had been working for. Everything she had wanted.

She ripped it open.

And stared.

"I did it."

Natsu pulled the paper out of her hands. Lucy cried out in protest, but he shouted in triumph and placed their two acceptance letter next to each other. Everyone in the parking lot cheered. Natsu threw his arms around Lucy, capturing her in a stupid sweet kiss neither of them could finish because both were grinning too hard.

Mirajane came out of the cafe. "Did you get in?" She asked breathlessly. Lucy nodded wordlessly, and Mira shrieked. "Ooh, I'm so excited! It's too bad there's no big dances coming up to celebrate. I guess we'll have to wait until prom!" Lucy laughed at the stars in Mira's eyes. "I missed my prom, you know."

"I know," Lucy teased. "You went to Italy instead. You tell me all the time!"

Natsu leaned forward, eyes narrowed. "When did you graduate?" he asked suddenly.

Mira blinked in surprise. "Five years ago?" she shrugged. "Why, do you know someone."

Natsu was grinning again. "Yeah. Yeah, I think I do."

"What are you talking about?" Lucy asked, but he shook his head with a tell you later gleam in his eye.


A kid appeared in the parking lot, maybe fourteen. He had dark hair, and was dragging a shy-looking blue-haired girl with him. "I heard the noise all the way from the Charming Bar! Did you get in?"

Lucy realised he was talking to Natsu. "Yeah!" Natsu said, jumping off the hood. "Oh, by the way, this is Romeo! You've never met him, but he's a loser."


"And Romeo, this is Lucy!" He gestured to her proudly.

Romeo's brow quirked. "You mean the one who were totally mooning over-"

"Okay!" Natsu shouted. "That's enough from you, loser. And –hey, who's this?"

Romeo glanced back at the girl, who had caught Jellal's eye, and was waving. "Everyone, this is the girl I was telling you about! I'd like you all the meet Wendy Marvell!"

"What? She exists?"

Lucy laughed as Natsu and Romeo started arguing. At some point, Gray heard his name being tossed around, and let go of Juvia's hand to jump in the fight. Sting elbowed Gajeel and the two joined in. Jellal, ever the gentleman, took out his camera and started to film it.

Juvia came over to sit beside Lucy. In no time at all, she was joined by Levy, Erza, and Yukino. They laughed, watching their dumb boyfriends.

"This feels like an ending," Levy said, her voice oddly nostalgic.

"Naw," Lucy grinned, waving Wendy over to join them. "This feels like a beginning."